Love Is As Love Does

“To begin by always thinking of love as an action rather than a feeling is one way in which anyone using the word in this manner automatically assumes accountability and responsibility.” ~ bell hooks

Love, love, love. All you need is love. ~ The Beetles (1967)

I will always love you. ~ Whitney Houston (1992)

My Endless Love. ~ Lionel Richie, Diana Ross (1981)

When a man loves a Woman. ~ Percy Sledge (1966)

You get the Best of my love. ~ The Eagles (1976)

Because you loved me.  ~ Celine Dion (1996)

How deep is your love? ~ Bee Gees (1977)

My Love. ~ Lionel Richie (1982)

What’s love got to do with it? ~ Tina Turner (1984)


These songs send my heart into a melting mess of nostalgic twitterpation. (Except for Tina’s song…but couldn’t resist throwing in my favorite icon.)

So much has been written about LOVE!

Do we really know what love is?

According to shame, vulnerability, and fear researcher, Brenè Brown, “we are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to.” The fact is…”A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all women, men, and children.”

I ask, “What is your experience with love?”

And, before you answer it might behoove us to agree on a definition of love.

What are your thoughts on what love is?

To answer that, again I reference research expert, Brenè Brown, because she gives what I believe is the most concrete definition of the word Love. In her book “The Gifts of Imperfection”, Brown states:

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection.

Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed, and rare.”

 

I would add…”we can only love others when we revert back to our original state of being which is love.”

I first heard the phrase “Stupid is as stupid does” while watching the movie Forrest Gump. It intrigued me, though I didn’t have a clear understanding of what it meant. While I was reading Brown’s book about LOVE these words popped into my head…

“Love is as Love does.”

The meaning became clear! You can say “I love you” but it has little meaning unless there is action behind it. I get it! “Stupid is as Stupid does” merely means that stupidity is not derived from a person’s appearance or stature in life or measurement against another’s smartness. It is, rather, a matter of deeds. In other words, you are what you do. Similarly, your love is an outward action expressing an inner knowledge that you are loveable, respected, worthy, and accepted.

Love is as love does. It’s not something we just give lip service to but rather, a matter of deeds that cultivate self-acceptance, belonging, inclusion, and our innate ability to love and trust ourselves.

If what Brown says is true, “we can only love others as much as we love ourselves”, the next question is…

“How can I cultivate love for myself if I don’t have it?”

What does it look like to trust oneself? To treat ourselves with respect and to be kind and affectionate?

Step 1: Recognition

From my own experience of putting conditional beliefs and hurdles on myself (as in: workaholic, perfectionism, always being right, etc.) in order to gain approval, I can say this, my ability to love others was often rooted in outside proof of their lovability. I was putting conditions on my show of affection…”I’ll love you when/if _________ happens.” I was doing it to myself and therefore, it seeped into every other relationship…just like 2nd hand smoke. The effect was as damaging to me as it was to the people who were closest to me.

This form of love creates a poison to those around us with our self-loathing behaviors. Even when we say we love them.

Step 2: Where did I learn this behavior?

When I was a little girl, I wanted so badly for my mom to be happy. If she was happy I felt loved. If I clean the toilet…she will be happy. What if I do all the chores? Make dinner? Give her a hug? Say I love you? Will that make her happy? Really what I was asking for was acceptance, respect, and love from a mother who did not know how to respect and love herself. Turns out the little things we say and do, like 2nd hand smoke, really do affect us. Years later and wiser, I know now that my mother was merely mirroring her own insecurities that quite possibly were handed down to her through experiences and emotional mentoring from her own family of origin. Another truth for me…

“It is hard to feel love from someone who doesn’t feel it for themselves.”

Step 3: Change the pattern (hardest step, but most effective)

Time heals. And this is true for the relationship between me and my mother. When I truly learned to love myself, that love superseded any barriers or walls around my mother’s heart… I love her unconditionally.

When we recognize that loving and caring for ourselves creates a feeling of belonging that invites others to be in. They feel our love because we practice it.

Showing respect, kindness, love, and affection for oneself is an excellent way to cultivate deep self-love which translates to loving others easily. Here are some ideas…

  • Setting boundaries with your time that help you stay grounded
  • Honoring yourself with 3 nourishing meals a day, proper sleep, and hydration
  • Actively seeking ways to play and ignite passion for creativity.
  • Being true to your word with honest integrity in speech and actions.
  • Showing compassion when we make mistakes and celebrating the lessons learned that will enhance our next venture.
  • Giving simple service to others through a warm smile, kind word, or act of kindness.

My new mantra: “Love is as Love Does.”

What actions help you feel your way back to your original state of love? I would love to hear your comments below!

Meditation, Meditation, Meditation…

It’s like a buzz word. But WHAT is it really? Why would you want to meditate?

A decade ago meditation to me felt like a prison in which I HAD to produce some kind of amazing thought, reaction, or peace and solitude in my mind. The idea of sitting and doing nothing except trying not to think about something had me looking for the exit sign.

Since that time I have become appreciative and even a proponent of meditation.

Linda Meditation

Do you meditate? What holds you back? Time? Interest? Let’s discuss some of the benefits.

If you already meditate how many of these reasons hold true for you?

Five Reasons to Meditate…

1)    Meditation brings us to the realization that we are all connected. We are part of a universal energy in which we play a part. Our energy affects the whole. What I think, what I say, and what I do really does matter.

2)    Meditation fosters mindfulness. It brings us into the present moment and creates a basis for us to respond rather than react to our circumstances. Kabat-Zinn said, “While it won’t get your work done for you, it will profoundly change your orientation, so that your doing comes out of your being, and the choices you make come from a deeper knowing of yourself. That approach can have a profound effect on the quality of our work in the world and how we face the stresses in our personal and professional lives.”

3)    Meditation reduces self-destructive thought patterns. In as little as 30 seconds a day we can learn to let go of poisonous self-depreciating thoughts like revenge, anger, jealousy, greed or hate; and instead foster nourishing life giving thoughts of hope, love, understanding, and kindness. In other words we can learn to “let it go” and focus on actions that are life enhancing.

4)    According to Kabat-Zinn,  meditation helps to “cultivate a capacity to see what is here to be seen, hear what is here to be heard, and feel what is here to be felt.” Imagine the world being more vibrant and delightful to your soul!

5)    Meditation has proven to be a helpful treatment in alleviating symptoms of fibromyalgia, chronic pain, sleep disorders, headaches, depression, and high blood pressure. Studies reported in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke and other studies conducted through the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society (CFM) at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center are just a few that support these claims.

Why do you meditate? Where, when and how? I’d like to hear from you.

Goal Setting: Chore or Pleasure?

Goal setting is a favorite past-time of mine. Hold on. Before you go bizerk and check out…stay with me for a paragraph or two. For some folks the word “goal” is a four letter word. Perhaps you – like some members of my family – would rather shovel snow, clean out the junk drawer, or do the dishes than sit down and revel in a good goal setting session. I’m not here to persuade you differently…but to share a perspective that may take the angst out of it.

I believe we are all heading somewhere this year. Knowing what you want will get you there faster. Writing it down on paper and then telling your friends, family, or coach will help hold you accountable to achieving your goal. For me, writing down what I want helps me bring clarification to my dreams and to prioritize them in a way that makes sense in my present circumstance. Then I can move towards them by taking baby step actions every day.

Whether you have or haven’t thought about, worked on, or written down your goals…what I’m going to share with you now are four virtues I think are necessary and worth cultivating in order to reach your dreams. I came up with these after pondering on why I did or didn’t meet my goals for last year. Here they are…(I would love to hear your list in the comments below…)

#1 Enthusiasm – or, being filled with spirit. Enthusiasm means “God within”. When we live with enthusiasm we are excited about life and are open to the wonders of each day. We do things with zeal and eagerness. We enjoy good humor, live in the moment and appreciate what we have. We follow our dreams with true joy. We bring passion to the mundane. Mantra: “I am inspired by simple things.”

#2 Simplicity – K.I.S.S: Keep It Simple for SURE! Be content with the basic gifts of life. Live reflectively and mindfully, aware of what is important and what is not. Enjoy the little things in life. Keep around you only what is useful or beautiful. I recently went through my spice cupboard and found spices that I hadn’t used for 15+ years! What do you have that can be thrown away, given away, refurbished, or given a new use? Keep meaningful things. Mantra: “I know what I care about.”

#3 Purposefulness – We are each here for a reason. Allow yourself to discover the part you are uniquely meant to play in life. Discern your intention and focus on it mindfully. Visualize it happening. Set goals and achieve them step by step, resisting distractions. Give each task single-minded concentration and excellence. Invest your full enthusiasm into even the simplest job. Trust the journey. Mantra: “I enjoy giving excellence to each task.”

#4 Self-Discipline – is having the self-control to do only what we truly choose to do, rather than being blown about in the winds of our desires or other’s expectations. Self-dicipline gives us the will to persevere and meet our goals. To be productive instead of procrastinating. We are able to weed out bad habits and cultivate good ones. Mantra: “I have the self-control to make wise choices.”

What are your thoughts? I’d like to hear what virtues you are cultivating this year! Please leave a comment below.

Is It Better to Give or Receive?

This is the time of gift GIVING right? But, is it really better to give than to receive? I think receiving sometimes take a back seat to giving, for all the wrong reasons. Let me explain… Have you ever put a lot of thought into a gift, given it to that special someone, only to be disappointed by a less than enthusiastic nod from the receiver? Headstand Snowman. We repeat that scenario when instead of acknowledging the little things in life that others do for us we only see “room for improvement”. Especially when it comes to the people we love the most.

I’ve committed to turning it upside down this holiday season!

Here are six ways to be an excellent, over-the-top receiver…

  1. Notice the gifts given to you everyday from people you come in contact with. A smile, open door, helpful advice, small act of kindness, etc. Most folks just want to be helpful or noticed.
  2. Take time (like two minutes) to tell a loved one the sweet impact they’ve had on your life. Use phrases like: “I appreciate you!” or “I really enjoy your company.” or “The way you __________ makes me smile.” By acknowledging their gifts you show that you “receive” them.
  3. Be Genuine – Pay a genuine compliment by looking someone in the eyes and acknowledging their worth for no other reason than just because. Really “see” another human “being” rather than just look.
  4. Listen – Turn on the “listening” ear and turn off the intense desire to run at the mouth. Receive another by “listening” not just hearing.
  5. Show love – Bend down to look a child in the eye and tell him/her how much you love the present they put together out of Popsicle sticks, glue, and glitter.
  6. Be Grateful – Maintain a heart full of gratitude for the little things in life. Whenever I feel resentful, overworked, or under appreciated I play a little game. Which is this…to name as many things as I can that I am grateful for in one minute. It’s the single most important gift I can give and receive from myself – a change of heart.

When we truly receive we are thinking not about ourselves, rather, we are acknowledging the giver, their kindness, humility, and their individual worth. In that moment of receiving…we are in a true abundant state of mind. “The most important thing you can do for another human being is to validate their existence.” ~ Marie Forleo Is it better to give than to receive?

I’d like to hear about what brings you the most happiness this season! Please share your thoughts below.