How Do I Love Me

Who taught you about love? It might be hard to remember. It may go back so many years that you’re not even sure.

I believe all babies come to earth filled with love, ready to be held, so that they can share their overwhelming sense of wonder with anyone who picks them up.

I certainly felt this when I held my children and grandchildren. I looked into each of their eyes to see if they could remind me what heaven was like. I gazed at them and felt a beautiful sense of oneness and closeness. And I fell into their bright, shiny faces, absorbed in their afterglow.

I felt as much coming into me as I was sending into them. Each of them taught me about love.

Sometimes I wish I could remember what it felt like to arrive here on earth. To be the one held. I imagine what a difficult trip it must have been, having my first breath squeezed out of me and needing desperately to have my lungs filled with air. Then trying to adjust to all the open space around me and the chill and bright lights and commotion. It’s no wonder that many babies scream. I want to, just thinking about it.

As a baby’s days pass and their experiences deepen, I wonder, how are they to learn about life? Who will listen to them for the clues that they are ready to learn? Who will be their teachers?

Will it be an interaction, an exchange of the meanings of life or will the baby have to do all the receiving and not be allowed to do any of the teaching?

As the baby becomes a child, the lessons begin. All sorts of things must be learned. What ‘hot’ means. That food belongs in your mouth, not on your head or the floor. That scissors are pointed, and that most animals have soft fur, but very sharp teeth.

After a while the lessons shift from being primarily about safety and become about understanding the world. There is a process of discovery. What a color is and what letters are and how numbers work together.

All of this is important. Necessary even.

But what about love? Who teaches us about this? Is it someone who knows what it means and how it is shared? Or do we sometimes learn from someone, who themselves, was never taught and can therefore not teach?

Are we shown examples to follow? And if so, what do they tell us about love? Is there harmony between what we are told and what we see happen in the world?

Often there are wide discrepancies, and we are expected to behave according to other’s words and ignore their conflicting actions.

But we know the truth somehow. We can feel it.

And whether we like it or not, it becomes up to each of us to decide about love, especially, the love we feel for ourselves. We may be fortunate enough to have had wonderful role-models to follow, but if not, we owe it to ourselves to be our own source of love.

I believe that deep inside each of us there is an inexhaustible wellspring of love. It’s inside already, waiting to be tapped. We don’t have to look outside to find it. And we don’t have to wait for anyone else to give it to us. We can give it to ourselves.

I believe this is the truth because we all came here with it. Each of us was wrapped up in love.

We show our self love by giving ourselves permission to release all the lessons we’ve been taught by others that do not feel true to us, and recognize that they may have meant no harm while teaching us. They just didn’t know better.

We show our self love when we forgive those who failed to help us understand, that the most important love, is that which we show ourselves. Then we can move on.

We show our self love when we accept that we are all beautiful, radiant beings, able to embrace the truth that we are all lovable. And in this way, we take charge of answering the question, how do I love me.

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Do Overs

When I was a kid we resorted to the strategy of ‘do overs’ a lot, finding countless opportunities to take advantage of this practice. And why not? Everybody makes mistakes and wants a chance to do better.

It starts pretty early in life.

I remember one hot summer day when I received a beautiful cold sweet ice cream cone. I was so excited that I didn’t pay enough attention as I took it from my father. You can probably guess what happened. Yup, the ice cream scoop fell onto the ground and I was left holding the cone. I don’t remember whether I screamed or cried, but I got a do over…another ice cream cone. Go Dad, you rock!

Funny thing is, that do overs are programmed in to some things, kind of a recognition that everything doesn’t always work out the first time. Take our national pastime of baseball, for example. If you’re really good or perhaps, really bad, you can stand at homeplate all day long and hit foul balls. You get to keep trying till you hit the ball between the first and third base lines. I guess Abner Doubleday liked do overs a lot.

And sometimes in school, on rare instances, if you flunked an exam, you might get an opportunity to take a make-up test. I’m not sure how this gets decided, which ones you do and which ones you don’t, but I know it exists. Not that I ever flunked a test (wink wink).

I recognize that we are usually under some kind of pressure to perform tasks and that there are often expectations attached to our results. Supposedly, some people thrive under these conditions, but more often, I believe we’d feel much better if we knew there would always be the possibility of a do over.

What if life was like tennis, where you always get a second serve. Or even golf, where you can take a ‘mulligan’ (a well-loved, but unofficial opportunity to hit your shot over again), in case you drove your golf ball into the woods. I realize this doesn’t fly in professional tournaments, but in my opinion, life isn’t a tournament

Once you transition from school to the work world, you encounter all sorts of new experiences. Sometimes there’s latitude for errors and sometimes not.

I worked as a bank teller for a few years before moving up the ladder. At the end of each shift you had to ‘prove’, meaning that all of what you took in had to equal all of what you gave out. If it didn’t match, you had to find out why. This could be a very tedious and unnerving experience, especially if the amount was significant. Surprisingly, $100 differences were not uncommon. This happened to me a couple of times. We eventually found most of them, but imagine if every teller had to be perfect every day with no allowance for mistakes. No do overs.

And then there is the world of relationships. We all make so many mistakes no matter how hard we try. Of course, we can apologize and ask for permission to try again, promising to do better and hope our do over is granted.

I feel it would help us all if we remembered that each of us is a giver and a receiver when it comes to do overs. The giver can extend mercy and compassion. They can offer encouragement and express love and leave the door open. The receiver can promise to be more thoughtful or careful. They can show gratitude and love for their second chances and do those things that they promise.

I’m going to take some time over the next few days to pay attention to giving and receiving. I’d love to have you join me, and if you’re inclined, let me know how it goes with your do overs.

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Heaven

Several years ago, I was attending a workshop at the Kripalu Retreat Center in Lenox, Massachusetts. Prior to beginning one of our class exercises, we went into meditation. Instantly, I was transported. Even though I was sitting among my classmates, I was as far away from them as I could possibly imagine.

I want to share my experience with you and the poem that formed inside me, because it brings us to the heart of a question I believe almost everyone has asked themselves at one time or another. Actually, maybe even more than one time.

Is there really a ‘heaven’?

Despite how you may have been brought up, you’ve probably heard many different opinions expressed about the nature and reality of heaven. And I suspect, about the uncertainty of whether there is such a thing. After all, what conclusive proof can anyone offer you?

In the end, it seems to become a matter of belief. But where does one’s belief come from? Do we accept what we are told by some religious or spiritual group? Or perhaps we favor a scientific approach or we seek an answer from some special faction within society?

Interestingly, I’ve been asked about my belief about heaven on many occasions. What I have to say usually comes as quite a surprise to those who ask.

I want to preface what I have to tell you by saying I honor everyone’s decisions and recognize it is always up to each of us what we choose to accept.

For me, I feel really ‘nudged’ to share what feels like the truth to me, because it’s changed the way I view everything. And maybe it will open a doorway for you, one that creates beauty and wonder and new possibilities.

When you read the poem, I’d like to ask a favor of you. I’d like you to place yourself within the poem, seeing and feeling everything that is being described as if it was happening personally to you. Imagine opening your heart fully and giving permission to (god) and to your spirit guides to come and be with you.

If you have someone who can read the poem out loud to you, that’s ideal because it allows you to stay in the moment. If no one is available to read the poem to you, I suggest that you read one line at a time, pausing to feel into the experience before moving on to the next line.

And now, the poem.

Admitted to Heaven

During my meditation, I gave permission to all of my spiritual guides to come and stand behind me,

Immediately, guides were there, then there were hordes of them, pushing and shoving to stand around me,

A great crowd arrived, and one of the beings said to another, “they’re emptying heaven to stand behind him”, and still more came,

I was crying so hard now, and they lifted me up, and held me over their heads effortlessly on hands of light, and passed me around, as if I weighed no more than a feather,

It was the most beautiful thing,

And I heard many shouting, “He’s back, come see, he’s back”, and heaven lit up,

And I could feel it, they all loved me, truly loved me, an overwhelming love, so beautiful, I never wanted to leave,

I asked, “Can I come home any time I want to?”, “Yes,” they all said.

I have so much more to say, so I’ll continue with more heaven in my next post.

I hope to see you then.

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