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Unconditional Love

Unconditional Love

 

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them”

― Thomas Merton

 

 

It can take a lifetime to understand how to love unconditionally. Later in life, reflection and a deep sense of regret can occur when a relationship misses the mark. Age heralds clarity, shining a light on the shadows the sit between two people. This is especially true among those who have allowed unrealistic expectations to be voiced as harsh judgments. Harmful criticism forces distance and is never acceptable in a loving relationship. Sadly, this revelation often present after the damage has been done. Such is the irony of life.  

 

 Each generation seems to become more and more consumed by self, completely missing the importance of showing compassion to others. Separateness is the norm with love of self being paramount to love of others. This is no more self-evident than in the intimate relationships forged with close friends and family. The “need it now” and “me before all else” mantra leaves little room for the practice and disciple of deep love. In addition, the voyeuristic culture of social media lends to a feeling of greater importance or unnatural hubris fashioned from the imaginary world of pictures on the internet. It is a viscous cycle.

 

In practice, love requires a letting go of the desire for control in all instances. This letting go while difficult, is necessary for love to flourish.  One must peel away a multitude of protective layers intended to soften the weight of living in a less than forgiving world. This takes great courage and an ability to feel fear but not be paralyzed by it.  Unconditional love finds breathe, when changing the lens in which one views another from the rose colored glasses of the ideal to the clearer lenses of the actual.

 

“Real intimacy is a sacred experience. It never exposes its secret trust and belonging to the voyeuristic eye of a neon culture. Real intimacy is of the soul, and the soul is reserved.”

― John O’Donohue

 

As is often the case, people are much harder on those they hold dear. Business associates and acquaintances received endless amounts of patience and support while a spouse, child or sibling can be the recipient of a critical barrage of judgments. I am just as guilty of this as the next, especially with my siblings. If not being careful, I only see the things that irritate or rub and completely overlook the beauty in the other. This beauty is always found in differences rather than similarities, the way in which one navigates the world apart from a tribe. What may appear to be foolhardy or even ill advised to one can be a great learning opportunity for another. If I love someone, I love all of them. I love the many ways in which they chose to show up in my life and at times, I love them from a distance as is necessary for my well being.

Holding pain for another is yet another way in which unconditional love thrives. We are all delicate and fragile souls, baring scars from both intentional and unintentional wrongdoing. No amount of letting go will set us completely free from the conditioning of our upbringing and life experiences. It becomes a choice, when seeing scars in another, to gently soften the wound rather than rub salt. It is always easier to find fault in foreign ideas, actions and thoughts rather than looking intently within ourselves. Mirroring or projecting on to others all that we dislike about ourselves will never improve our lot. Reflecting pains and sorrows outward in the hopes of improving self-worth is not love but selfishness.

 

Therein is the beauty of unconditional love. It demands holding another’s heart while setting boundaries needed to honor spirit. There is never a rule book as to how this should play out, each individual is gloriously unique and so too is the act of loving. The goal should always be compassionate listening, gentle guidance and a letting go of the outcome.

 

Loving and Letting Go

Loving and Letting Go

Touched by an Angel

We, unaccustomed to courage

exiles from delight

live coiled in shells of loneliness

until love leaves its high holy temple

and comes into our sight

to liberate us into life.

Love arrives

and in its train come ecstasies

old memories of pleasure

ancient histories of pain.

Yet if we are bold,

love strikes away the chains of fear

from our souls

We are weaned from our timidity

In the flush of love’s light

we dare be brave

And suddenly we see

that love costs all we are

and will ever be.

Yet it is only love

which sets us free

Maya Angelou

 

Love and vulnerability, forever bound in a dance of both holding and letting go. It is within this dance that we live, learn and grow, gaining valuable life experience along the way. Loving another is one of the first emotions we experience when looking into our mother’s eyes shortly after entering this world. This love affair with connection continues until we are ready to leave this place, fully spent from a life well lived. Love exists in all types of relationships: friends, siblings, parents, partners and extended family. In fact I would argue that love is the primary emotion in most instances.

Loving another does not mean giving free license for one to do as they will with your heart. On the contrary, loving another may mean doing so from a distance. In some cases loving another may simply be living with the intention not to dislike them and committing to this daily. Those that have experienced abusive relationships will understand this type of love. By holding on to hate for the person that did harm, it only further gives strength and veracity to the negativity.  By loving and letting go, one frees themselves from the vicious cycle of bitterness.

 

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong but sometimes it is letting go”

-Herman Hesse

 

 

All much easier than it sounds you are probably saying. This exemplifies the difficult soul work that we are all called to do. Dr Maya Angelou speaks so clearly about this task with, “old memories of pleasure, ancient histories of pain. Yet if we are bold, love strikes away the chains of fear, from our souls.” We all bear scars from past vulnerabilities that leave us exposed and raw. The fear of future pain can be paralyzing. We are in a sense “chaining our souls” from the experience that it requires for growth.  In this state the energy is not flowing but becomes stagnant. The effect of blocked energy on the body is profound.  It is not beyond the realm of possibilities to see illness in one that is caught in this state.  

As tentative as a child, one must take small steps to open their heart again and again. This requires looking fear in the face and refusing to back down. It is standing on the very edge of the shadows and choosing instead to focus on the light. It is hearing these words, “And suddenly we see that love costs all we are and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free” and upon hearing them allowing the soul freedom to be open and feel completely once again.

 

“The love of the family, the love of one person can heal. It heals the scars left by a larger society. A massive, powerful society.”

Maya Angelou

 

 

As a measured person, my challenge is to constantly check myself when the voices of doubt and fear become loud. I must learn to comfortably walk the space between honoring my intuition and turning away from the fear. This balance feels precarious at times and intimidating. It is only when I chose to let go that I find the most peace in the process. It is in these moments that I am the most clear of my direction. Without the haze of excessive thinking I settle more readily into the unknown with an open heart and mind.

The lesson for me continues to be letting go of the end result in all instances, including when choosing to love another. With adult children on the move and new relationships blossoming, this message could not be timelier. I am thankful for the divine spirit holding me up when I am not able to. I am never alone in my ventures and am at rest knowing that I will be okay and well supported no matter what the outcome.

 

There is a Pleasure in the Pathless Woods

There is a Pleasure in the Pathless Woods

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
  There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
  There is society where none intrudes,
  By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
  I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
  From these our interviews, in which I steal
  From all I may be, or have been before,
  To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal

― George Gordon Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

 

Reading George Byron’s piece, I was immediately struck by the opening line, “There is a pleasure in the pathless woods…” Byron was certainly a poet after my own heart. Life events can feel so contrived at times that one begins to forget what it means to experience things in a natural state. To walk in the woods without a path to guide the way, sit on a “lonely shore” and feel the breeze of the morning tide coming in.  Everything does not need to be analyzed, planned and accounted for. Nature is as it is, unpredictable.

 

Upon reflection, I see these words demonstrate the ebb and flow of parenting in many ways. As a young mother, having my daughter at 20 and my son at 24, I fought to provide a steady and stable environment for them. My every intention and action was made with their well being in mind. Sadly, being in a volatile relationship that was less than loving, I often over compensated for this lack by creating an “all is well” mentality. The problem was…all was not well and they knew it.

 

“Think for a minute, darling: in fairy tales it’s always the children who have the fine adventures. The mothers have to stay at home and wait for the children to fly in the window.”

― Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife

 

You see, children are smart, much smarter than given credit for. They see, hear and absorb their world more acutely than adults. They are sponges and while nothing need be said, they are observing and learning. I became racked with guilt and worried about my children’s development. At times I heard them share childhood memories and while most were idyllic, I heard a sprinkle of cringe worthy moments that gave me pause.  I began to ask myself, had I done enough? Had I given them everything that they required to move forward and be well functioning adults? I spent so much time during the children’s rocky teens and early adulthood questioning and wondering if I had really missed the mark as a parent.

 

“Having kids—the responsibility of rearing good, kind, ethical, responsible human beings—is the biggest job anyone can embark on.”

– Maria Shriver

 

Thankfully, having the benefit of time to reflect always puts things into greater perspective. The kids have had their foibles, as most will during painful periods of growth, but they are doing well. More importantly, they are two of the most loving and generous people I know. Character has always mattered to me and I am exceptionally proud that they possess strength of character and a genuine love for life. With many dark woods and rough seas left to encounter, this will serve them well.

 

As Byron states so well, parenting is inherently a “pathless wood” of uncertainty and trepidation, but one in which a parent must strive to continually find the beauty and grace in this uncertainty.  It never gets easier; a parent will always worry for their child. One never really knows how to raise another human being. It is more a stumbling along, a rocky ride begun with the best of intentions to guide young and impressionable minds. I have only ever wanted to “mingle with the Universe” to seek out the greater truths. As a parent, I make every attempt to share this wonder with my children by being the best example I can be. In the end this has to be enough.

 

“I believe the choice to become a mother is the choice to become one of the greatest spiritual teachers there is.”

– Oprah

 

Parenting is synonymous with nature: nurturing, protecting, and wildly unpredictable. Reading this poem on the eve of Mother’s Day I am moved to be kinder to myself. I can only be who I am, no more and no less. The rest is and has always been up to my children. They must broach the “pathless wood” with fear yet resolve. They must continue to weather the rough seas and seek the answers to the larger questions. I cannot do this for them or take ownership over the result. I can only love unconditionally and will continue to do so. I strive to be the lighthouse in the storm, the light shining through the trees of the dense forest. They will find their way forward and when they do I will be there, as always, with arms wide open.

 

Finding Purpose in Life

Finding Purpose in Life

Early today while stretching at the gym, I was suddenly struck by a feeling of inexplicable loneliness. Strange place to have this sensation surrounded by so many others, but not completely unheard of. I have always felt a tinge of loneliness even amongst good company. As an observer I am still surprised that I experience life from an outsider’s perspective so often, watching events unfold from an arm’s length away. Not quite close enough to be immersed in a tangible way, but close enough to play a role as if an actor in a play. It is in this state of separateness that I do my most intense thinking.  It creates space for an unaffected view, devoid of emotions that are my constant companion. In this state I am standing outside of myself, watching, thinking and interpreting all that comes my way. This disassociation can be strange and in truth, unsettling.  Without all of the usual distractions of participation, I am forced to see things as they really are. One cannot hide from the truth very long; it will always find its way forward.

 

We shall not cease from exploration.

And the end of all our exploring,

Will be to arrive where we started,

And know the place for the first time.

T.S. Elliot

 

Today my mind wandered to things I view as unfulfilled in my life, the “why me” dialogue that many of us are so familiar with. Why did I stay in a damaging relationship for so long, why do I have to deal with this awful disease, why, why, why. After hearing this and gently letting the thoughts go, I was struck with the idea of my life really being a vessel for compassion. Maybe my life is really not about my personal journey at all. Maybe it is about every single person I encounter, who I chose to love, listen and learn from. Maybe a good life can only be measured in the moments of connection, when I am able to bring some comfort to another even if only for an instant. If this should be the case, all of the little details of my life become so trivial. Where I work, what I like to do, etc. Maybe it is these very details in which one can get bogged down and lost, going astray and losing sight of the bigger picture while focusing on the minutia of an obligation or goal. Maybe I am completely off the mark by dwelling on the specifics of my life.

 

I tore myself away

from the safe comfort of certainties

through my love of truth;

and truth rewarded me

—Simone de Beauvoir

 

I understand this may sound foreign to others, but as I see it, this exploration is the most important task that I have. If my life only becomes purposeful in the moments in which I have made an effort to help others, any other use of energy is a distraction from this end. Living by this definition, I may not “feel” my own life experiences in the way others do.  I absolutely feel things and very intensely, but am never more at peace than when I have opened up to another and have created some semblance of connection. My feelings of separateness dissipate and for just a bit I am alive and no longer just an actor in my own life. It may be that because I internalize what others are feeling, my perception of any particular moment is clouded by the others feelings.  At times it is even difficult to discern which emotions are my own given the crossover between myself and another.

 
Reflecting on these thoughts, I came to the conclusion that there are far worst things to be said about a life than aiming to put others at ease.  I may not have the high powered job or the big house on the hill, but I can offer comfort and love to another. Letting go of pathways that lead me away from this end becomes the challenge. It is so easy to be swept up in the “need to succeed” mentality. When all is said and done, all I can do is follow my heart. If there is anything that I know to be true, it is that the heart speaks in mysterious ways. If I choose to listen for this direction, I will find my way forward in due time.

What Does It Mean to Love Another?

What Does It Mean to Love Another?

One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,

or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:

I love you as one loves certain obscure things,

secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries

the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,

and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose

from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,

I love you directly without problems or pride:

I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,

except in this form in which I am not nor are you,

so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,

so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

Pablo Neruda

 

It was not until I had my first child, my daughter, that I felt true unconditional love.  I subscribed to the idea of this type of love, but sadly my marriage was not representative of this ideal and even lacking in any semblance of kindness at times. Seeing my daughter look at me as if my eyes held many secrets, I was overcome with a deep and lasting love for this new and beautiful soul. In that moment, I realized that I would do anything to make her life easier and would provide comfort to her in all instances.  This same glorious experience was repeated after giving birth to my son three years later. Unconditional love is truly a powerful thing.

 

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

-Rumi

 

These days, the word “love” is used very superfluously and one begins to wonder what it means to really love another.  Is it a emotion, an action, a tangible experience or is it a combination of all of the above? Pablo Neruda speaks to this in the first stanza of his poem One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII. He writes, “I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:I love you as one loves certain obscure things,secretly, between the shadow and the soul.”  These words represent how I experience unconditional love. I look beyond the typical and find myself connecting with something much more muted. The beauty of a rose or the feeling of fire are not paramount in my appraisal.  Love to me is best described as being “between the shadow and the soul.” The space deep within that can speak to another only a spiritual level. Between darkness and light rests the true self devoid of the masks used to disguise traits that are deemed less than desirable. When “seen” these are the parts of another that drive true unconditional love.

 

It is in the “seeing” of the other that one can say, Yes, I see the dusty corners of your soul and I still choose to show up each and every day and love you. That to me is representative of a greater love than just the physical. Love overlooks the bumpy and difficult road another may choose to travel and offers compassion and empathy during the journey. All will not always be well, that much is guaranteed. With that in mind, love is only true if extended during the most difficult of times.

 

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”

— William Shakespeare

 

Finally, the line, “I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,except in this form in which I am not nor are you”  is beautifully stated. Unconditional love is in its truest sense a lack of separation from the beloved. It is an unspoken truth that both are a part of the same cloth, in tune with one another no matter the circumstance. I know no other way to love, and my children are well aware of this.  It takes quite a bit of upheaval to force me to lose sight of this truth. We as spiritual beings are nothing without the connections that bind us. Choosing to love another is one of the most intimate and soulful ways to forge these connections. At the end of my days, I want to be able to say that I loved deeply no matter the cost. That will have been a life well lived.

 

You are Oceanic

You are Oceanic

You are Oceanic

All she wanted

was to find a place to stretch her bones.

A place to lengthen her smiles

and spread her hair.

A place where her legs could walk

without cutting and bruising.

A place unchained.

She was born out of ocean breath.

I reminded her;

‘Stop pouring so much of yourself

into hearts that have no room

for themselves.

Do not thin yourself.

Be vast.

You do not bring the ocean to a river’.

Tapiwa Mugabe

 

Have you ever had the urge to just walk out of wherever you may be and “stretch your bones”? I certainly have had to restrain myself from doing so on more than one occasion. A part of me is always hearing the call of the unknown, urging me to let go of the responsibilities that I have shouldered over the years. I have named these urges my Thelma and Louise moments. While I have no intention of driving off a cliff per the film, I do harbor a strong desire to run away with the gypsies on most days.

 

As a woman and an empath, I sometimes get caught in the cycle of caring for others while forgetting to care for myself. I find this part of my personality difficult to manage and even more difficult to understand. Having given far too many years to others that did not value me in any meaningful way, the line from Tapiwa Mugabe’s poem, “Stop pouring so much of yourself into hearts that have no room” speaks to me. I see that my willingness to care deeply for others never came with an expectation of reciprocal treatment, quite the contrary. My motto in life has always been to lead by example with the hopes that I inspire those I care about in some small way. By doing so, I aim to instill a healthy curiosity leading to exploration of deeper and more meaningful truths.

 

After many years of living in this way, I have come to realize that no matter how many good intentions I have, I cannot force anyone to hold the precept of love in their heart. If their heart has no room, if they are unable to see the value in this end, it becomes an action of diminishing returns.  Rather, I choose to believe in the possibility of being “unchained”, to live as if I were an ocean moving freely with the tides, predictable in my unpredictability. I wish to not worry so much about others souls with a knowing that only they have the ability to find themselves. This is not my responsibility and it never was. I can continue to be the best example I am capable of, but must let go of the end result with some grace and a belief that all will be well.

 

The gentle rhythm of the tides, holding within a fierce strength is representative of the ebb and flow of my inner self, my soul. To love another requires a give and take, a push and pull, a dance between moments of surrender and strength. At times I lead and at other times I allow the tides to take me where they will. It is in this surrender that I always find my voice, my strength. Trusting another to take the lead, becoming “unchained” from the illusions of love and not being fearful of the “cutting and bruising” that will inevitably happen, as it always will in the tides of a relationship, allows for a sense of peaceful acceptance.  As long as I am seen and valued the rest is unimportant and not worth the worry. I am indeed an ocean: deep, thoughtful, intense, blissful, gentle, beautiful, strong, mysterious and so many other things. If I value myself first, I can than reveal the deep and beautiful oceans of my soul and know that I am free to love and be loved without restriction and unchained. There is nothing more mesmerizing than free flowing water.

 

Be Still

Be Still

 

At times I just want the noise to stop. I wish to spend a day lying in the grass, memorizing the sky into a night of brilliant stars. I wish to hear the silence of the earth breathing gently in my ear. I wish to dance with the wind carrying the whisper of secrets only silence can hear. I wish to hear the story of this place written with a distant pen only those knowing where to look can find. I wish all of these things and get frustrated with the distractions of daily life. I want nothing more than to spend some time just being.

 

Be still and recognize the earth is Divine. No country, town, building or room can hold something so vast and profound. Why do some think they can claim ownership over this other? There is nothing to be claimed, nothing to be had. It is in every breath, every kiss, every song and every thought. The Divine is everything; we are so small in comparison.

 

“A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm,

waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like

worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their

songs never cease.

-John Muir

 

Be still, unmoving, yet uncontrolled. Rest in ease and relax the mind, allow the spirit to move in you and through you. This is the beauty of quiet. It is an opportunity to feel all that we miss in the cyclone of noise. Everything and everyone is vibrating around you. Listen and you will hear all of the ribbons of connection, creating an intricate web of universal energy. Nothing compares, no job, money, thing or otherwise.

 

Be still and know all is well. No matter what ails you, it too shall pass. Life is a balance of joy and sorrow, love and hate, friend and foe. A constant swing of a pendulum back and forth, back and forth. Embrace this rhythm, feel the easy pace of the repetition. Enjoy all of these moments as everything will begin anew as is the way.

 

“They both listened silently to the water, which to them was not just water, but the voice of life, the voice of Being, the voice of perpetual Becoming.”

― Hermann Hesse

 

Be still and know nothing is greater than loving and being loved. A sharing of souls, an exchange of energy that is as magical as the beginnings of this universe. Timeless and never bound, love is eternal. Rest in an open heart, with a knowing that to share your heart, no matter how vulnerable you feel, is living.

 

Be still and know at the end of this story, our story, all that matters is deep listening. Did we quiet the noise and silence the naysayers. Did we listen for the secrets on the morning breeze and embrace the silence of a dark night. Listen and know you are loved, we are loved. Listen and feel everything, do not be afraid. Close your eyes and feel the breathe of the earth and all that inhabit it, we are one. Never separate, but a beautiful tapestry of energy encompassing all that is and all that will be in boldness and beauty.

Be still and know.

Be Soft. Do Not Let The World Harden You

Be Soft. Do Not Let The World Harden You

Moving about this world with a gentle heart is being caught in a constant tornado of emotion. Feeling everything and everyone and unsure of what to do with this energy can leave one unsettled and anxious. It is a disequilibrium of the emotional sort, a momentary jolt of imbalance and unease. Many who experience this feeling chose to hide this part of themselves. While it surely feels safer to move about in a protective shell that repels unsolicited energy, this only lessens the rawness of living by dulling the senses and avoiding the collision of souls necessary for growth.

 

Being gentle by its very nature requires a softening in life, a loving and gentle approach to all situations no matter how difficult.  It is a state of feeling separate or apart but at the same time completely one with all else. It is in the seeing and feeling of others that we are able to use this softness by listening, loving and being with those that are in need. It is also in the seeing of the hardness of the world, that we may find our calling and passion.

 

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place”

Iain Thomas

 

As one who has lived this way for some time, I humbly offer this insight in the hopes that it will be of some comfort for others who may be struggling with finding their voice.

 

You will be called sensitive, weak and quiet a million times over all the while knowing that you are none of these things. You are in fact strong, smart and capable.  It is in your manner that others feel compelled to place false labels. They are labels that represent the others feelings of inadequacy, do not claim them. Do not take what is not yours, it never was.

 

Never mind what others are telling you and disregard the static, it is only noise. The world is in desperate need of more gentle hearted people. Whether it is at work, home or in a social circle, those that move softly even when challenged are needed more than ever. Do not let others tell you that in order to be heard you must be loud or assertive. This is an untruth and cruelty to your nature. Do not let this world make you hard and callous. Others will try, ignore them. They may be wounded, hurting and are deserving of love. Love them, even if they do not love themselves.

 

When you encounter difficulties and contradictions, do not try to break them, but bend them with gentleness and time.

Saint Francis de Sales

 

Let people in. Do not be afraid to love and share your heart with another. Allow the beloved to protect you, to embrace you and to “see” you. Yes, you are strong and will be fine on your own, but you can also grow tenfold when loving deeply. Expand your energy, let it live. No one can extinguish your flame without permission, do not give it.

 

Finally, accept what has been given to you without condition. You may not understand it now, but your gentle heart will uplift and heal many. Let it breathe, openly without judgement. Feel and be seen. At times it will hurt, be painful and heavy, but it will most often be joyous, beautiful and expansive. Live for those moments and let your heart lead in all matters. It is your guide, your true north. Trust that all will be well.

 

Loving One Another

Loving One Another

 

Love One Another

Love one another, but make not a bond of love.

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other’s cup, but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone.

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.

For only the hand of life can contain your hearts.

And stand together, yet not too near together.

For the pillars of the temple stand apart.

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

-Khalil Gibran

 

On this day in which we celebrate all aspects of love, I find myself reflecting on ways in which I have personally experienced this powerful emotion. More often than not, love has been the driving force in many of my life decisions and directions. It has taken a process of growth and maturity to discern the various presentations of love and one that I continue to focus intently on even today.

 

My story is not a unique one. I come from a large and loving family. Yes, we have our differences, but we genuinely care for one another. As a young child, I recall bearing witness to the great love that my mother and father have, yet at the same time not having the benefit of discussion about what it meant to deeply love another. It was in every way, an education by example. Born into this caring environment I had no reference for the difference between infatuation and love, that lesson was yet to come.

 

Given my innate curiosity, in my teenage years I was attracted to the darker side of infatuation and unknowingly feel into its grasp. The man that would become my husband was much older than myself and had already experienced many things in life. Not being able to discern the difference between lust and love, I was completely drawn in by this relationship and felt trapped by my conservative moral obligations. It was not a healthy relationship, in fact it was quite damaging for me on many levels. Similarly, as one the connects very deeply with anyone I choose to give my heart too, it took great strength and will power to unravel these connections as well as two decades of my life to be completely free from the grip of infatuation.  

 

Thankfully, I did not leave this relationship without having experienced true love in some form. Having given birth to two children by the age of 24, I was deeply blessed to experience the unconditional love of mother to child. I am forever thankful for the opportunity to continually engage my heart in the way God intended in loving these children. If not for them I do not believe I would have felt alive during the darker years of my marriage, the despair was that intense. They are two beautiful angels that have held my heart when I could not find the strength on my own. That is love in every sense of the word.

 

“Only from the heart can you touch the sky.”

-Rumi

 

Recently, beginning a new adventure that requires bravery and some faith, I find myself feeling tentative and protective of where I have come from and where I now stand. In reading the poem by Khalil Gibran, I identified with a common theme that speaks directly to my current state of affairs. Loving another is not remotely the same as ownership, it is a partnership that allows for both parties to breathe, grow and be uniquely themselves.  It is being one half of a whole and at the same time separate and apart. In a healthy love there should be no loss of self, not degradation of the other, just a gentle and persistent lifting up. When one falters, the other steps up and carries the weight of life’s many challenges until balance is regained. That being said, a loving partnership cannot and should not be one sided. It takes both people choosing to show up authentically every day, willing participants in a transformative experience for both heart and soul. One person alone cannot carry the work of the relationship; this is neither healthy nor prudent.

 

Love is also accepting a partner, child or family member for everything they are not, without stipulation.  It is easy to love others for their strengths, but quite another to show up each day and see the shadow side of a loved one.  Each of us has this side that we hide from the world.  It takes a strong and trusting relationship to pull the shadow out of the darkness and explore ways to support one another in that discovery.  

 

Finally, as Gibran so eloquently writes “Love one another, but make not a bond of love. Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.” I wish nothing more than to have my soul connect deeply with another.  It is within the expansive and flowing nature of water that love is best demonstrated, moving and morphing against life’s many continental conditions. Love finds a way to erode the walls that we erect and seep into our souls, breathing new life and hope. What a beautiful thing to behold.

 

Old Souls

Old Souls

Old soulIf you believe that our souls have many opportunities to experience this human life and learn a multitude of lessons, then you may also believe the idea of an old soul.  I have no idea how many journeys my soul has been on, but I am sure that I have meet others in this life that are further along the path than myself.  These are the souls that have a sense of calmness and comfort about them. People that seem to display serenity in the eye of storm along with a kind of patience reserved for the likes of Buddha .

 

“Innately, the Old Soul carries a sense of world-wariness as he stands on the outside, looking in. As an observer, the Old Soul like the Steppenwolf, feels an all-pervading sense of alienation. He is the ultimate Outsider who is both in the world, but not quite of the world at the same time.”

Aletheia Luna

 

Older souls are often teachers or mentors to those attempting to understand the world by providing valuable insight into life’s many quandaries. Old souls will not often exhibit interest in the human need to succeed. Money, power and status mean very little in comparison to matters of the heart. It takes a measure of wisdom to recognize this and let go of societal expectations in this regard. Old souls also make excellent counselors.  They are humble, loving and accepting of people as they are. As a very private person, I have only known a few people in my life that have made me feel “safe” thereby allowing me to share my authentic self.  I consider these people wonderful teachers and old souls.  They were all unbelievably patient, excellent listeners and gentle teachers.  People such as these still make me smile when I think of them and their loving hearts. What a thing to behold.

 

It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.

Gautama Buddha

 

Regardless of how much my soul has experienced thus far, I still have much to learn. I have never had any desire to “succeed” in the way most do.  I change direction frequently and move fluidly as my intuition directs me.  In the workplace I am more fascinated by the interpersonal relationships than the actual work. People fascinate me and watching, listening and learning from them is an excellent teacher. I have a strong work ethic and am a bit of a perfectionist, but in the end it all means little to me in the grander scheme of things.

Forever is composed of nows. ~ Emily Dickinson

 

I have always been this way.  As a young adult I had absolutely no desire to experience the party life,  it was never something I felt the need to do. Slightly out of step with my peers, I consider it a blessing that I had my children at a young age. It gave my life a sense of purpose and created fertile ground for multiple opportunities to grow. Unconditionally loving another is one of the greatest challenges to undertake, and raising children requires this skill over and over again. For this reason and many more, being a mother has been my favorite role in life thus far.  Nothing has even come close to it.

 

“The Old Soul is more inclined to be a lifelong learner, constantly feeding his thirst for insight through his own persistent efforts. His learning has not been forced into him through education or learned out of obligation, but has been absorbed out of curiosity and personal choice.”

Aletheia Luna

 

How many times do we have to return to this world before we get it right?  I do not have the answer for this and given the present state of the world we still have much to learn.  Instead, I choose to continue learning as many things as I can while here. Any opportunity for growth is a path one should always consider, even when fearful. If we are not constantly learning and growing, what are we doing? I can only hope to be an old soul to another at some point, sharing the gift of guidance in a gentle yet loving way.  I strive for this end rather than riches and praise.  It is a life well lived and well loved.