Tag Archives: life lessons

How to Love.

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Today, I get to bear witness to two friends, whom feel like family, as they commit to love with one another. It recalls to me the day that I did the same, and how our marriage represented Love to me in so many deep, life changing ways. 

 

I am thinking today, as I do most every day, about Love, and how to really, truly Love. Of course, I have had a lot of practice in Love over my lifetime, with my relationships with family, with friends, with partners, with co workers, with my child, and with my wife. It has been a learning experience all the way along, because in my lifetime, I haven’t actively been taught how to Love. Not really.

 

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Love, as it is known to us by humans, is shown in the most capable ways that it can be. It is shown by the expression of love, as best as we can, through words. It is expressed through actions with one another. It is shown to us, in the best way it can be, as we exist here in our human forms. One of the things that we learn along the way, is that love, by definition, means to love unconditionally. Yet, how hard it is to do that. 

 

As humans, it is so challenging to not want to have expectations, of ourselves and others. I believe it helps us to feel safe and secure, to want to know, if we can, that things and people with stay the same, stay around for us. Not many of us really embrace change, because it throws us off of our balance a bit; it goes against that which we thought that we had known. Yet, as we know, change is not only inevitable, but it helps us to learn to detach, let go, and let things be as they are. When it comes to being a human, and loving humans, this can be some of the most challenging lessons to learn. 

 

Yet, let’s think about it. We often think that it is loving, to want the best for those that we love. For us to express our own opinions and views and perspectives about a person or a situation. And what I have found out is that when I do that to others, it isn’t actually loving at all. It means that I am not only accepting them or situations precisely as they are; I am not trusting that person to have the capability to handle it on their own. 

 

Although realizing and knowing that I have done this in my relationships, for most of my life, at first felt awful; I viewed myself harshly, knowing that I had not truly, authentically loved those around me, by wanting them to be what I wanted them to be. However, I have now understood that the beauty is not in getting it perfect, or always remembering to let go and accept; it is in the remembering when I do forget to truly love, to truly see someone as capable and to allow that someone to be just as they are.

 

Every time that I forget, I get to remember again. I get to keep learning. I get to keep understanding how to Love. 

 

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Oops! I did it again.

I can’t tell you how often it is that I believe that I have finally learned the deepest lessons of my life, and that they will no longer come back around and hit me in the back of the head. But, life as a human doesn’t quite work that way. We learn, we put it into practice, we get back into the routine of our lives, and then, we become complacent and forget for awhile. Then, we feel surprised when we have to learn the lesson yet again.

 

I don’t give myself a hard time about this anymore, but I am always surprised when certain life lessons reemerge. Today, the lesson that was taunting me yet again was my insistence on comparing myself to other people. Now, this is an old, familiar tune for me. I have done it my whole life around my body, actively comparing myself to other women, and sometimes men, in terms of how much larger, or smaller, their bodies are from mine. I have done it with knowledge, how much smarter someone seems to be than I am. And today, I was comparing myself to other women in the country that offer hugs to strangers in their corner of the universe.

 

At first glance, I think, that is amazing; their are other like minded people in the world who are doing what it is that has brought me fulfillment and connection, and they are sharing their light and love in the world. What could be wrong with that? Then, my insecurity kicks in, because one of the women is a writer whose books have been on the New York Times bestseller list; she has a podcast with hundreds of listeners and amazing guests (like Brene’ Brown). The other woman I just encountered on social media this week, and when she posts about her hugging events, dozens of people comment and hundreds of persons like her posts. In an instant, I feel inadequate and small.

 

After comforting my bruised ego and remembering the reason that I do what I do with free hugs, I feel a bit better. But, then I remember why learning this lesson again is so important, and why it is essential for me to pay attention to it every time that it comes up.  When I compare myself to others, the initial thought and feeling process that comes from it is “I am not enough”. Of course, I know most of the time that is the farthest thing from the truth, and that I am always doing my best. But, when I am actively comparing who I am in the world to who someone else is, beyond being a terrible comparison due to our own individual, unique qualities; when I compare myself to someone, I simply have to criticize, put down, or find fault or cast judgment or either myself, or on them. And, the judgment is usually pretty harsh.

 

Gratefully, I catch this pretty quickly when I am going down the rabbit hole of self loathing. And, I have also gotten pretty savvy at forgiving myself for going there in my mind and my heart. But, it can be a dangerous reminder of what I need to keep doing; that I need to keep shining my own light; being my self; letting others do the same. I need to keep loving, growing, evolving, waking up, dreaming, and being as big as I care to be in this world. And, celebrate and join hands with other beautiful humans who are doing the same thing.

 

I don’t have to learn all of the lessons overnight; and many of them have to be repeated pretty regularly for me to let them sink in. But, I am so grateful that I see the opportunity in them, each time, and how much closer they keep bringing me to truly loving myself. 

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Being a Human.

Last month, I published my first book. It is stories and photographs of all of my many journeys with hugs so far. And, it has been an amazing ride. I have hugged so many beautiful humans, and learned so much about myself in the process. And, last night, I had the deep privilege of hugging a few dozen more of them, blindfolded on the streets of Scranton. 

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I have learned many things about myself as I have been on this journey, about surrender, forgiveness, expectations, and being in the present moment. And, for the most part, I live in those realms in my daily living, and when I am not there, am able to do what I need to in order to get back there.

 

But yesterday, I felt more human than usual. What felt like a difficult circumstance came up in my life, and my first response was anger. Of every range of emotion that there is for us humans, anger is the one that I have the most difficulty with understanding and processing. Of course, I also know that anger is nothing more than another form of fear, but in the moment yesterday, I was pissed. I felt hatred. I wanted to lash out and attack people, and felt very justified in that feeling. And, although I know that I am a human being, and that I am imperfect, and that I will go through these difficulties at times, I also don’t like it when I feel something that I don’t know what to do with.

 

So, I gave myself over completely to my street hugs last night. I had already planned to go downtown and hug with a blindfold, which I had not done since my first street hugging experience three years ago. And, I don’t think that I really knew how much it would bring healing to me last night. Until it happened. 

 

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Humans, just being themselves. Being vulnerable. Sharing a moment with me that for most of them, brought me to tears. A sharing of hearts, souls and moments that are imprinted on me. 

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With every hugging experience, I understand more deeply that it is not me who is bringing something to others; it is the sharing of the hug with one another. The blend of two beings, two souls, and the experience of our universal nature, our sameness. I am filled with a deep honor and reverence for sharing those intimate moments with my fellow Light Beings. 

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Thank you. For reminding me of the beauty of being a human; and how much we all share with one another. 

Notice the Fireflies.

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I recently began as a volunteer with my local hospice organization. Persons that are referred for hospice services are presumed to have six months or less to live. Hospice services assist with their medical needs, social work needs, or provide companionship and emotional support. My interest in becoming involved with hospice is my own interest in death, dying, and assisting those that are close to death in making their transition. I will be a guardian angel for them, sitting vigil in the last few hours and days of breath. It is not a career, as much as it is an inspired calling for me right now. 

 

With the training that I received this week, and meeting the first person that I have been paired with, I feel completely at ease being where I am. And, I find myself being even more acutely aware of the present moment, and the importance of that. You see, the present moment is all that we ever have, even though it feels like our lives are based on past and future the majority of the time. The truth is, the past is merely a memory trace, and the future is just an anticipated outcome, that may or may not come to be.  Yet, that is often how we define ourselves and establish our identity in the world. 

 

For persons that are dying, especially those that are actively dying at a relatively young age, there is no more planning for far into the future; the reality is, that they have fewer breaths remaining than they had planned on or hoped for. So, presence of what is in their now, and appreciating everything that they have in their lives becomes of more critical importance. However, it is a reminder that could serve all of us in a meaningful way. 

 

I read, listen to, and remind myself daily of the importance of present moment awareness, in accepting things as they are, and choosing peace over conflict, judgment, regret or anticipation. It takes daily reminding for me to remember the importance of it, believe me. Yet, I am amazed at the details that I get to immerse myself in when I pause long enough from my agenda ridden life, and pay attention to what is happening right now.  

 

Gift yourself with the celebration of the present moment. Enjoy the symphony of birds in the morning as you awaken. Watch the puffy, changing clouds from your car on your drive to work. Breathe deeply in between the bites of your meal. And, don’t forget to notice the fireflies that glow with such mystery in your backyard. The moments deserve our full attention. 

 

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