Love Yourself

Update from the last post: I did walk away from the computer, and I got a marvelous massage, and I took the weekend off. And on Monday, I received new files that uploaded perfectly, so I could move forward. Ha! How about that! So, I will soon be sharing the news that my book is done! Until then, here are some thoughts I had this week:

Wednesday was Valentine’s Day, which encourages us to show our love for our romantic partner. Where is the holiday that encourages us to show our love for ourselves?

Truly, this is so important that we should be reminded every day, not just one day a year. We can’t fully love others if we don’t fully love ourselves. And yet we often treat ourselves terribly. Our needs are always last on the list. “Oh, I don’t have time to _______, I have to work/take care of my children/clean the house/go to the store/cook dinner/do laundry, etc. etc.”

However, as many of us have found out, if we focus solely on taking care of others and neglect ourselves for too long, it will eventually have a negative impact. We get sick, or are constantly tired or irritable (or are sick, tired, AND irritable). Often when this happens, our instinct is to push through, because we are needed. We’re not making it up—we do have tons of obligations and people who depend on us—bosses, coworkers, children, spouses, parents, friends. But our first obligation should be to ourselves. I know it sounds radical. But it’s true.

It’s important to note that we’re worthy of love, just as we are. We don’t have to be constantly productive to prove our worth. We are each born a magnificent soul, deserving of unconditional love. When we give ourselves that love—not demanding anything in return, not trying to “be better,” just appreciating ourselves as is—it makes a huge difference in our lives.

I’ll admit, showing myself unconditional love is something I struggle with daily. I’m a perfectionist and highly self-critical, and as I’ve discussed before, I have the urge to always be doing something to “earn my keep.” But running around like a hamster on a wheel all the time doesn’t feel good. No matter how hard I work, I never cross everything off the list (gah, how I hate that fact!). I never reach that mark of “enough.”

I always feel like I come up short when I tie my value to what I’m accomplishing. If I can wrap my head around the idea that I’m inherently worthy—that I was born enough, and don’t have anything to prove—that feels SO much better. I feel open rather than constricted. Relaxed instead of clenched. Happy instead of apprehensive.

There’s a common saying: When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. The converse is absolutely true: when I’m happy, I can spread that happiness. I’m more likely to be kind and patient with those I love—and even with strangers. So, when you tend to your own happiness, you’re really doing others a service.

What if we all devoted time every day just to showing ourselves some love? Paying attention to our needs and our wants; taking a moment to sit and listen to our inner voice, who often gets drowned out in the cacophony of modern life. I’m not talking about hours each day—just as much time as you can comfortably fit into your schedule. Maybe five minutes, sitting outside while you watch the clouds float by, or fifteen minutes of meditation or yoga or reading—whatever lights you up and makes you feel whole.

Today, take a moment to show yourself some love. Do something you enjoy, or give yourself a treat that that makes you feel amazing. Book that massage! Steal away and read that book! Savor the chocolate! Do it just because—because you are a miraculous, incredible, gorgeous soul who deserves all the love in the world. XXXOOO!

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Be Your Note

I found this lovely Rumi poem the other day and it really resonated with me. I can be plagued with self-doubt, especially about whether or not my creative work is valuable and helpful. If you ever have that feeling, perhaps it will encourage you to continue on, as it did me.

Each Note

God picks up the reed-flute world and blows.

Each note is a need coming through one of us

a passion, a longing-pain.

Remember the lips

where the wind-breath note originated,

and let your note be clear.

Don’t try to end it.

Be your note.

I’ll show you how it’s enough.

Go up on the roof at night

in this city of the soul.

Let everyone climb on their roofs

and sing their notes!

Sing loud!

Jalāl, Al-Dīn Rūmī. “Each Note.” The Essential Rumi. Trans. Coleman Barks. San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1995

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Bless and Release

 

I just finished Anita Moorjani’s book “Dying to Be Me,” where she relates her incredible near death experience and subsequent complete recovery from lymphoma. It is an astonishing and powerful story, and her messages really resonated with me and stretched my mind.

One main message is self-acceptance. She makes an interesting point when talking about this—that while she now lives from a place of joy rather than fear, it doesn’t mean she always thinks positive thoughts. She says that we all have negative thoughts, and since they are part of us, they are something we should accept. Rather than resisting or fearing negative thoughts and emotions, we should feel them and let them move through us.

Now I don’t know about you, but I resist my negative emotions very strongly! This was a fascinating idea to me, that I could just accept them and then they would go on, and that was actually healthier than trying to avoid them.  

It seems to echo something my yoga teacher talked about recently, which is the concept of “bless and release”—if something is bothering you, rather than getting caught up in it, give it your blessing and let it go. In other words, accept it, let it move through you, and release it. This feels like a radical approach to me, and I’m really quite thrilled to start playing with it.

There is a poem I love that expresses this concept much more beautifully than I ever could. So I will let the amazing mystical poet Rumi have the floor this week:

The Guest House

--Rumi

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

 

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

 

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

 

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.