On Love

What is love?

“In recognizing that you’re here only to love, you realize that as long as you do that, you’re already a success. And love doesn’t have to be something grand. As Mother Teresa said, ‘There are no great deeds; there are just small deeds done with great love….The point isn’t just what you give when you love, but also what you open yourself to receive. As you send out love, the universe will send love back.’” – Marianne Williamson, The Law of Divine Compensation: On Work, Money and Miracles

I think it took me a long time to grasp that love doesn’t cause pain.

And it took me a long time to realize that love doesn’t ask me to sacrifice who I am.

Love – in the pure, divine sense of that word – is unconditional and loves you back. It doesn’t make you smaller. It doesn’t contract your world. This love expands your world.

Love is contained in the small gestures as much as in the big pronouncements. In the context of a romantic relationship, I have come to recognize that I much prefer (and trust) love in the form of regular, reliable and consistent acts of consideration and kindness than the occasional and dramatic gestures. To me, it’s the difference between being given flowers on a random day because someone is thinking of you and want to express appreciation and love versus being given flowers because of some holiday when flowers are expected.

Of course, the love that is referred to in the Marianne Williamson quote above is about a much bigger, deeper love than romantic love. It is love in the fuller, more expansive sense of the word – love beyond that which exists between two individuals (or a family), love that speaks to the human condition, love that is the divine. That love transforms, heals, and contributes to making the world a better place.

To be in the flow of love, to be a being of love, an ambassador of that bigger love – that love has as much to do with how I carry myself in the world (what I think, how I act, the decisions I make, how I express myself, how I conduct myself when I interact with strangers) as how I relate to those close to me. And to embrace that kind of love means that every moment of every day is an opportunity to give and receive love.  

How are you showing up as a being of love?

Lessons in Healing From a Business Book

Inspiration and teachings can come from all kinds of places. I know that. And yet I was still surprised to discover that I would find a profound lesson about forgiveness and a tool for healing in a business book. In a chapter on communication, I was encouraged to think about how often misunderstandings arose from the separation between words and intentions.

By becoming more aware of my own reactions in conversations and recognizing the frequency at which I assume my responses are exactly what were intended (without actually confirming the veracity of those intentions with other people), I am realizing how often I create unnecessary confusion, pain and suffering for myself. 

“…we need to accept that we can only know the impact that others’ actions have had on us, but we cannot know what intentions they had when they acted the way they did. Similarly, we can only know what we were thinking when we took some action, but we cannot know what impact our actions had on others.”

Fred Kofman, Conscious Business: How to Build Value Through Values (Sounds True, 2006), p. 139

This seems like such common sense and, on some level, I’ve known this to be true for some time. I think that is why I try to be mindful of how I communicate (albeit not always successfully – it’s definitely a skill that I am continuing to work on). But something was different about how I took in this information when I read this passage. Maybe it was just the frame of mind I was in when I read it. Regardless of why, I started thinking about how this shows up in my personal life. And when I thought about this in relation to some difficult relationships I have in my life and some hurtful experiences I have had, I suddenly felt a deeper level of compassion and capacity for forgiveness.

If I really take responsibility for my own feelings and own my response to the action rather than conflate my response with the intention of the action, then my response is actually an opportunity to gain deeper insight into my own assumptions, hurts, vulnerabilities and expectations. And that self-awareness can allow for more freedom in communication. If I wanted to (and if it was appropriate and/or possible), I could approach the other person and ask about their intention.

Sometimes just knowing that my reaction is not necessarily what was intended is enough to open up possibilities for alternate responses. And sometimes that knowing can be enough to create the space and possibilities for forgiveness.

Begin Again

I believe we are all enriched when we share genuinely and authentically. And I wasn’t really doing that before. I needed a break from the blog because I didn’t feel I had much to share. I had created the blog from a place of “have to” because I was told to do so. But it felt hollow and pointless – I wasn’t clear on what I had to offer or why I was writing and so the motivation wasn’t there. Not surprisingly the effort was painful and the result was bland, lackluster, generic, forced and not a source of joy.

And what’s the point of engaging in something that does not impart any joy?

So I just let the blog die. I resigned myself to feeling like a failure for having abandoned this blog.

Well, it turns out the blog did not die. It had just been in a coma. The desire to share and connect has been nagging at me and I started thinking about what it is that I stand for, what it is that I hope to accomplish with this blog, how I can be of service and act with purpose. It helps that I’ve been making my way through Julia Cameron’s instructive and insightful book, The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life. I am ready to re-commit to writing and posting because I think I may have something to offer to at least one other person out there, that maybe I have something to contribute to the bigger conversation. I don’t have it all figured out yet but I have started connecting with that longing to share and to be of service through writing and they are motivating me to give this another try.  

No matter the endeavor, getting started is always the toughest part. So, without expectations and with minimal self-censoring, here I am taking that first step.