Love Thyself.

Who’s the most important love of your life? If you are looking outside of yourself, consider another point of view.

I’ve struggled to write this entry for weeks now. Was there an inciting incident? Yes. Isn’t there always? At first it seemed like an obvious but herculean thing, something that’s been lingering in my heart for a long time, and I had finally gathered some courage. I was finally gonna give it life, with no expectations, just the chance to speak my heart. It was on the tip of my tongue. I’m not good with these kinds of things. That kind of vulnerability renders me absolutely shaking, feeling completely naked in front of a person who’s capable of smashing my heart in their hands. My mouth, which often shoots off unbidden, is remarkably silent; glued shut.

So the moment came, and then…..

The moment left.

In the way that moments often do.

You see, I’d learned my lesson before. I’ve been burned. A lot. And I told myself I would NEVER let anyone have that kind of power over me ever again. But I think, when I made that vow to myself, I went too far the opposite direction and I shut off a part of myself and left her in the dark, in the guise of “being Strong”.  I’m mad at myself for letting that moment pass by. Disheartened that I lost my courage. Emotional because I was/am so close, and I just want what I want. I have so much gumption in every area of my life – but I struggle with love, abandonment and feeling like I am enough.  I have struggled with this challenge for the whole of my existence.  After the “Inciting Incident” I sat in Las Vegas, taking in a lovely view of lights, and planes making their approach to the airport, trying to get my heart together. To be perfectly candid, normally, I would go out and drink it away, and that thought had crossed my mind on this go around as well. Vegas is a perfect place to go hide behind smokescreens of excess.  But instead, after arriving that afternoon, I took a nap. I woke up in the early evening, and found myself settled in my room, cup of tea in hand and sitting in front of this screen, feeling raw as hell, trying to finally soothe my soul, once and for all. I started writing. I express myself so much better on a page. I had a whole entry done and lined up.  But it didn’t feel complete – it didn’t feel like I’d said all I wanted to say. So I waited and thought this out.

All of my life, the concepts of love have baffled me. I’ve talked about it in the context of romantic relationships and familial relationships. I’ve never tackled the topic in a singular focus – love of one’s self.  Did I have to learn how to define Love before I ventured into that territory?  Is Love, in fact, its very own language? Are there hidden pieces of love in what people say and do? Is it a tangible THING? Something we can hold tightly to our chests, or something better thrown out into the universe around us, without any kind of discernment as to who “deserves” it?

I realize that Love is a subconscious obsession of mine, but also something I’ve actively run from and withheld from myself.  I’ve only just owned up to it.  I’m an over-thinker so bear with me but……How do I earn love? How do I know how much is enough or if I need more? What are the signs of love? What kind of love is “appropriate” for each person?  Do I really know how to love? Am I loved? How do I get “that” kind of love. Why does love come easier to some as opposed to others? Why are there times that I try to deny that I love as much as I do, to the point that it causes me literal physical pain? What is it about humanity that makes us think we are not worthy of it? Why can’t we love ourselves the way we love some people around us? All I know, is that it has been this topic that has consumed my psyche for the whole of my life.  In some way shape or form. I’ve always felt that it’s the reason that we are put on this planet: To figure out what love is and how to do it.

How do we figure this all out? Author of The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman, posits that we all have a love language. His breaks down into five categories: physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and receiving gifts. So I took the quiz and learned my language, not at all surprised at the results, if I were to sit down and really analyze them. So that was a step in me recognizing how I view people “speak” to me in the language I determine is love. William Goldman, author of The Princess Bride, ventures to say that “As You Wish” actually means “I Love You”. How did Buttercup figure that out? Why did it take her so long? Because Westley kept doing any and all things she asked? Because he got mad and told her off and went and made eyes at a Countess, which sent Buttercup into a tumultuous fit of jealousy causing her finally see how she really felt about him? Was it some kind of game on his part to get her to finally throw herself at his feet so to speak, so that he would finally have his chance to come clean? (If you haven’t read the book, this is actually how it really happens, the movie just glosses over this beautiful moment of conflict in her, unfortunately)  In that same vein, another author echoes a similar sentiment:

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Love resides in song and poetry. Words from the heart that somehow capture the grief and simultaneous exultations of being in love.  Some of my favourite songwriters (Bryan Adams, Phil Collins, Thom Yorke and Peter Gabriel to name a few) have a sheer gift of talking about how we can reside in this space of conflicting emotion and come out more whole than when we went in. Bono of U2 writes ballads that speak of residing only in love, in any way, shape, or form we can, no matter the dysfunction, love is the only thing that will save us in the end, that love is all we have left. The Bible tells us that three things remain: Faith, Hope and Love and that the greatest of these things is Love. Love has been defined by the likes of Rilke, Lord Byron and Tennyson as the thing shared among a mentor/disciple, a secret admirer/object of affection, and knights/noblewomen of the court.  I’ve even Googled love. Seriously. (FYI, the definition is convoluted and not at all clear.) So I would venture to say, if you could figure out the love language of yourself, then feasibly, you could unlock the languages of your family or your friends, your significant other. You could find a way to tap into a hidden well of love and communication thus far unseen with them.

How do we determine what love is and where it comes from?  One might argue that if I cite my sources, I should be an expert of sorts on that. I have examples from parents, friends, family, I’ve been in a longterm relationship, I’ve been engaged. I’ve been broken up with. I’ve been left. I’ve been an object of affection. I’ve read all kinds of love stories, plays and novels. I watch deep, thought-provoking family dramas, finding love lost in time and space, films about unrequited love, films about love conquering all obstacles. I’ve been in love. Fallen out of love. Fell back in love. Loved my family even in dysfunction. Loved my cat that I had for sixteen years. Loved my horse that I grew up with into my thirties. Loved friends I’ve made along the way. Loved a thousand hobbies and experiences that I’ve had or have. I’ve listened to dozens of songs about true love, unrequited love, bad love, tragic love, passionate lustful love, and lukewarm love. I’ve nursed friends through break-ups and potential relationships, hookups and dry spells. For the longest time, I’ve known nothing and everything all at the same time. So to talk about love to others felt easier when it wasn’t about me. None of them were about me, so it was easy to stay “objective”. Hah. Well that’s backfiring on me now, isn’t it?

Time to face the music. How do all of these definitions fit into the most important relationship of all? I was finding myself SO frustrated that I haven’t attracted a loving mate into my life. What was it about me that I was putting out there that attracted men who only used me to feel better about themselves but left my needs unmet?  I’ve been posing questions to my nearest and dearest friends. We’ve had conversations about love, things we’ve experienced in love, what we hope for in love, what we’ve written and seen about love trying to figure it out. One of my friends managed to break it down for me in a way that clicked in just right in that moment. He asked me, “If you had a billboard about yourself, what would it say about you and who you are? How would his traits fit into yours?”  I looked at him and couldn’t think of one damn thing to say in response to that.  So now, I think I’ve put a final piece of the puzzle together that’s been missing for a long time. I’ve never really focused on the one person that I really need to love the most:

Myself.

All of this time, I’ve been looking for traits in other people to love and that could feasibly be compatible with me, but without a clear picture of exactly what those “compatibilities” matched in myself. What is it about me that I would want another to fit with?  What makes the ABCs of me in how I want to live and what I want to do? What parts of me have I been brave enough to own? So what do you think I did next? You know that answer…….. I made a billboard of myself, the things that I love about myself and the things I work towards every day. It’s currently on my wall where I look at it every day to remind myself who I need to love first and foremost.  Dr. Athena Perrakis brings up a valid point.

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I reflect on what shadows and past selves I’m trying protect, and to that end, what do I need to let go of? How do I love all of it?  Honestly, I haven’t been embracing all of the shadow and all of the light, nor have I admitted to what I really wanted and what I really needed, because I’ve struggled with insecurities regarding a myriad of things.  I realized this in a recent conversation with my roommate. We hadn’t really had a good talk for a few weeks and the conversation went all over the place. And it dug up some really old pieces of me that I had sort of just, put away. Not really released or embraced. Just put away. I’ve kept up a pretty high wall, and neglected to present who I am, in the interest of staying under the radar.  I often feel like these shadows were too much of a burden. That it shatters the person that people now know me to be. But how am I going to move forward with anything if I can’t stand strong in the essence of who I am and the experiences that shaped me, dark or light or otherwise?

I’ve always sworn that I would be more humble than some of my previous examples, that my love for others had to be of importance, because I know what it’s like to be left behind in the dust.  But I can’t do myself the disservice of downplaying the importance of my own heart. I can still love myself enough to ask for what I want and need and still reside in my heart and soul. The heart wants what it wants. When the soul wants, the soul waits.

So do I have any answers about love? Sure, I have a couple. Is Love a language? Maybe. That’s what we’ve blocked it into, so that we as humans, could figure out how to express it. Is it a feeling? Absolutely. It’s the ache in your heart when you leave someone you love behind. It’s the light in your eyes that shines when you get to see someone you love.  But it’s also more: it’s an energy we enact. Love naturally courses through our electrical outlets in our bodies, coded in our chemicals and hearts and minds. It’s who we started as, and as we get older, love is who we choose to be in ourselves. The whole thing is about shining the mirror on your own soul and finally acknowledging what you are seeing in your own psyche.  How are you contributing to love in your own environment? Have you started within yourself? Do people reach out to you because there’s something in you that they want to feel and they only feel it with you? Do you find that people respond to you differently than they do to others around you? Do you look in the mirror and love the person you see? All valid questions in my mind and worth looking at.

I’m now going to post this as is. No more editing. No more fine-tuning. No more doubting. It is what it is, and it’s time to move forward. So if you’ve come this far with me, have I presented any solid answers? Maybe, but in reality, I have no solid conclusion to this missive. Love is Love. With yourself or anyone else.  Love is communication. Love is action. Love is a choice. Love is heart. Love is a language. Love is a life transforming emotion.

And Love is bigger than anything in its way. (According to Bono).

Say What You Need To Say

If there is anything I’ve been reminded of in various different ways in the last few days, it’s that this life is ever-changing. One thing can happen in the span of seconds that irrevocably changes everything you know. Absolute in their karmic causes. Unchallengeable in their  manifested intentions.  The most important thing we can do is embrace the challenges with an unseen faith that we have the strength to propel us forward in the story. We are each living the hero’s journey right now, and we can choose to answer the call or ignore it. Mark Twain said “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear; not the absence of fear.”

I strive for courage every day. Courage to wake up. Courage to step out the door and live another day. Courage to stand up for justice.  Courage to keep dreaming. Courage to speak my truth. Courage to look to an uncertain future and continue taking deliberate steps into the horizon. But it’s not just about a great big beautiful tomorrow. It’s also about courage to live in the moments of what I have right in front of me. Courage to face those inner demons that make me doubt everything I know. Courage to actually follow through and do what I say I am going to do in every single moment.  Living in that very prism of time I’m in right now. Living lovingly. Intimately. Heart open. Forgiving myself…and others. Stepping away from the shackles of the past and into the fields of gold that have been surrounding me this whole time.

Courage is inspired in the most unexpected situations. I can’t tell you what sparked mine, other than a sheer will to survive on some occasions. Sometimes I just heard someone say the right thing at the right time. Sometimes it was a song that tapped into a creative part of my soul that only wanted to dream bigger.  It’s led me to many adventures, going further than I ever thought I could. I always find that I have something I can improve upon in myself.

For instance, lately, I’ve really had to face that I’m not very good at speaking my heart out loud. It’s ironic – I can speak in front of hundreds of people on any topic, and perform in front of even more and be adrenalized by it. But to speak my heart…..well, that’s a little harder for me. It’s hard for anyone, isn’t it? We have to put ourselves out there, lay wide our vulnerable soul.  I can sit here and pour my heart out to a nameless, faceless audience. It’s so much easier behind a computer screen. I don’t know who’s going to read this. I don’t know who will see pieces of themselves in this and be correct, despite my best efforts to protect their identity. I don’t know who will be inspired by me, or repelled by me, a woman who can spill out lines of words trailing all over a blank page, reminding them of the very things they didn’t want to acknowledge either. I know this is a roadblock for me. I can’t speak for everyone. But I can speak for myself when I say, NOT vocalizing my feelings to a person, face to face, has been a detrimental roadblock for me. I’m an artist – I’m expressive by nature! So this odd little twist, it wasn’t a personal choice. It’s not how I grew up wanting to be. It’s just how I’ve been conditioned by forces outside of me. And it keeps me from living fully. From loving fully. From feeling fully. It chokes me, silencing me and locks up my ability to be fully intimate in any sort of friendship or relationship.

It’s a choice: be courageous or let the fear win. I’ve chosen to be courageous.  The more I express the things that I felt I’ve had to keep close to the vest, the lighter I’ve become. The easier it is to speak. The easier it is to forgive. The easier it is to receive love. The easier it is to give love, compassion and empathy. Saying “I love you.” gets easier. Speaking my mind gets easier.

Loving myself gets to be the norm instead of caring why someone else may not love me the way I expected. Saying thank you feels more authentic and more important. Listening becomes key. Hearing the other person just as much as they hear me. Being right all the time is no longer important.  Being acknowledged all the time doesn’t matter. But being authentic and in truth does. Coming from a place of love is a powerful intention and I strive for that every day. I succeed a lot of the time. Sometimes I don’t. But the intention speaks truth when I need to hear it.

There’s so much more I have to say. But I’m done waiting to say it. The filter is off. Time is happening right now and I’m jumping into the vortex.

See you on the flip side.

Writing Prompts: Tattoos and Twin Flames

Topic of the day: What tattoos do I have and do they have a meaning?

Yes, I do have a tattoo. I actually mentioned this as one of my interesting facts in another entry. (I’m also in the process of planning another tattoo as I type.)

Right up front, I’m a very spiritual person. I’ve read, and still read, a lot. I’ve experienced things people would never believe. I’ve explored different areas of holistic mind/body therapies. There are a lot of things I’m happy to discuss. Some things, I won’t because I have to gauge my audience and some are not open enough to hear things without judgement.

I should preface this with some background I suppose. This is one of the parts of my heart I wear fairly openly – you only need ask me. I may not go around talking about it much (though I have written on the topic) but I’m sure people catch on the more they know me. I am, what is commonly coined, a hopeless romantic. I’m in love with the idea of love. Especially epic, time-and-space, destined-since-the-dawn-of-time kind of love. I have been ever since I was a very, very young girl. I devoured books that had the kind of love stories that I desired for my own life. ( SIDENOTE: All of the stories I mention below were BOOKS first, not movies. The books are what inspired me.)

Now, I’m not talking about Romeo and Juliet. (The only one of Shakespeare’s plays that I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT DEAL WITH BECAUSE THOSE TWO ARE COMPLETE IMBECILES AND NOT ROMANTIC AT ALL. Sorry. But it’s a fact.)

I’m talking like Chris and Annie Nielsen in What Dreams May Come. Or Clare and Henry in The Time Traveler’s wife. Or Catherine and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. As you can see it’s not all about happily-ever-after love stories of Disney fame. These are the real, nitty-gritty, “What would you do for the one who is your twin flame?” kind of stories. How far would you go into the heights of heaven and the depths of hell, just to be with the one you love, in any capacity possible?

This topic I could delve into very deeply, but there is no time, so let me sum up: There’s a dichotomy of love that I struggle to understand about my self. I’m very much about free-will. You make your own destiny and way in life. But I also believe, in that journey, somewhere along the way, wherever our souls have been, we’ve chosen to do so with a Twin Flame. The other half of us. Whether this particular existence is about the human journey or not, I won’t know until I pass to the other side. But the concept in quantum theory, that we are living across multiple planes of existence simultaneously, would make this plausible to me that we have little pieces of ourselves floating around that could be put back together to make a bigger “whole”. Which makes it sound pre-destined that in every life, you will meet this person. It’s not. It’s already a choice you made, you are already connected and it’s already happening (much like the premise of “Somewhere in Time” another one of my epic faves) ANYWAY………. I won’t confuse you further BUT I have always felt a pull to a relationship that doesn’t “complete” me but actually enhances me to be someone outside of my frame of reference. Something that entices me to become more than I am in this very moment. With someone that is meant for me and I’m meant for him. For as much as I have wanted it, I have also run from it.  BUT before I get too far down the rabbit hole, let me focus up and finish the assignment. I’ll save discussion on the above for another day 🙂

How this ALL ties in, is that the tattoo I currently have, is one that I got when I was 18. It’s two roses intertwined in a circle, which is a symbol of one manifesting their twin soul mate. You can Google it these days and find all kinds of interpretations. When I was 18, the internet had only been released to the public for about a year. (Yes I know this dates me) So I didn’t have that to guide me.

This was a tattoo of a symbol that I’d literally had a recurring dream about. And still do. I researched copious amounts of spiritual books on it. Then one day, I found a thin book, that was simply a book on religious symbology. On a page towards the end, I found the exact picture of what I was seeing paired with a small blurb that simply said “The manifestation of love. Love for yourself and love for another. Where it meets at the top is where two become one.” That one little phrase encompassed the very circumstances of my recurring dream. So when I was 18 and nobody could stop me, I got the tattoo that was calling for me.

It is located around my belly button which is located in your “Root” Chakra. Now I didn’t know much about Ayurveda at the time. All I knew was that was where I wanted it. Now, of all the myriad of places I had chosen, this was one of the more painful places you could ever do it. But that was where I wanted it to be. What I came to learn was that the Root Chakra your base sense of safety and security during our journey on this earthly plane. It’s “grounding” as it were. Your foundation of what you need grows from there.

So in line with my beliefs, my experiences on how I viewed love, how I received love and how I sought love, this spot made a lot of sense. I’ve always lived my life coming from a place of love and empathy and compassion. It’s gotten me into trouble a couple of times, but I still believe it to be the best way to live. Even in the moments where I feel impatient and angry and lash out, that only lasts for 2.5 seconds and I revert back to a place of patience and compassion.

Despite my innate sarcasm on many topics, the root of my spiritual beliefs start here: The only thing we are on this planet to do is learn how to love and forgive and grow. The rest doesn’t matter.

So there’s your longwinded story about my tattoo. 🙂

Until the next entry.

How Many Earthlike Planets Are There?

Well, according to this article, found at NationalGeographic.com there are BILLIONS! Now, how many of those host life? Well, I’d imagine they all do in some form…How many of those host human/extraterrestrial life? I’m thinking we are going to find out very soon. Safe Travels Space Rangers!

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Pic courtesy of this site