“All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.”
One of the most ‘loved’ holidays of the year, Valentine’s Day is all about letting others know how much they fill your heart. We show it with flowers, candy, hearts, romantic dinners, grand gestures - and not to mention Hallmark does pretty well that day. It’s great, right? I mean, who doesn’t like to feel loved? I know that I do and I like letting those in my life know how much they are loved. But why should it be reserved for one day of the year?
Love is a magnificent thing. It bridges gaps, it soothes hurt feelings, it makes you feel better when you are sick. Love creates life, it makes you endure the unimaginable. It repairs broken hearts, love breeds sacrifice, commitment, unselfishness. It is the foundation of families, a fundamental in religion, a must have for every successful fulfilling relationship. So why, please someone explain to me WHY do we only celebrate love once a year? One great big special day in the middle of winter to temporarily brighten our day, lift our spirits, fill our heart with so much joy and warm feelings…one day. Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
What is love?
Love is a lot of different things. Kind of depends on who you are and what your life is like but I think we can all agree that as far as emotions go, it’s a doozy. It’s that feeling that you get when you think you couldn’t possibly like someone or something any more than what you do and then - it happens. You like them even more. It’s as if your heart couldn’t fill your body any more than it does and you are certain that you are lit up from the inside out with all this good feeling inside of you.
Love is also quieter at times. It’s a heart breaking, a sadness that can reside in us when we can’t take away another person’s pain, when someone is hurting and we would literally do anything possible to take away their pain and put it on ourselves. It’s resolve. There are bills to pay and too many bills and too little money and kids need shoes. So it’s love that puts a smile on our face and we go without to put shoes on those feet.
Love is compassion. Love understands the journey and empathizes when the path is rocky and the landslides and the boulders just keep creating obstacles for you to push through, break down, trip over and fail. And it’s love that reaches down a hand to help you up and dust you off and say “It’s okay - I’ve been there.” Love reminds us to push aside our own agenda and troubles in order to be there for others that simply need us more than our own life does.
Love can be anger. A fiery passion when we feel wronged and hurt. Sometimes that love burns so deep and so bright that we defend ourselves, our families, our hearts against those that transgress against us. It causes us to lash out and wreak havoc to justify that burning in ourselves that we don’t know how to extinguish. And then love is kind and forgiving, a teller of tales of imperfections that are what make us individuals and perfect in our own right.
Love makes us champions of a cause. Whether it’s the right to vote, a right to choose, a right to be who you are meant to be, love makes us rise up like warriors and fight for what we feel is right. Love can lead a revolution and love can bring resolution.
It’s a mighty thing, love - the grand dame of all Marvel characters…smooshed into one amazing superhero…Yep, that’s love in a nutshell.
How do we show love?
There’s lots of ways we show love. Lots. Again, it’s kind of one of those things that depends on who you are and what is going on in your life. But for the most part, love is expressed in five different ways. Check it out.
- Verbally. If you mean it, say it. If you say it, mean it. Right? We use words to express our love to one another and you can trace this all the way back to early childhood. Whether it’s expressions of ‘mama’, ‘dada’, etc. from babies to “Do you like me? Check yes or check no” in a note passed in school (yes, I’m showing my age), we’ve used words to express how much we love each other. From I love you’s to you’re an amazing, strong, unbelievable, most beautiful best mom and wife in the world (my personal favorite), we rely on our verbal skills to project our feelings to those that we care about.
- Physically. Who doesn’t love a hug? I LOVE hugs - giving them, receiving them. I am one of those people that I’ll meet you once and then hug you from then on out. I know - awkward at times but I am who I am. Touchy feely, a peck on the cheek, holding hands, you name it. We show our love by reaching out to touch those that touch our heart. That physical touch can be for security in knowing that someone is there, a bandaid for a bad day, just comfort in the warmth of another human being. Yeah, I love me some hugs!
- Gifting. Often times we will show others we love them by giving them something special, a gift specifically chosen just for them. It could be a grandiose gift such as an engagement ring, a big ticket item that is as grand in price as it is grand in feeling. It could be something smaller, a trinket that is personal yet shows them that we are thinking of them, that we understand a part of them. Giving gifts as a form of love is a way that many people revert to when saying the words or expressing themselves physically makes them uncomfortable or is something they struggle with. It still allows them to get the sentiment across yet without forcing them out of their comfort zone.
- Time. Our time is precious and we lead busy hectic lives. Giving others our time is such a precious gift and for some, its a way of saying “I choose you.” Taking a break from the things that are important to us, necessary to us and give that time to others in whatever increments we can - it’s something that is so small in nature, seemingly so insignificant when looked at in black and white but that gives substantial returns in your investment. Five minutes, five hours, five days - time is a precious commodity that when shared is a beautiful display of love.
- Service. Okay - roll with me on this one. I’m not talking about serving your spouse breakfast in bed. What I mean by service is giving to others. This can be done and is done in a myriad of different ways. For some, maybe it’s taking that extra shift in order to provide for your family. Or doing errands that while they add on to your day, they help out someone in the family. Picking up the family room so mom doesn’t have to do it, helping a neighbor by shoveling their driveway - doing service for those in our life that we love let’s them know that they matter and that helping them, serving them in some way, shape or form is important.
So how do I show love?
As I was writing this, I’ll admit - I was sweating it a little. Trust me when I tell you that I am far from a perfect person and was I going to be able to relate to each of these five ways in that we show love? Thankfully, I have my crazing amazing family, some great friends and an honest approach to who I am and how I’ve gotten here. Here goes…
I love to say I love you. I truly do. I have told all of my children from a very early age that when they say ‘I love you’ it means something. It’s not a pick-up line, it’s not a phrase you throw around. If you mean it, say it and if you say it, mean it. Rarely do we leave the house, hang up the phone, go to bed without saying I love you to one another. It also encompasses some of my other favorites such as honey, sweets and other terms of endearment that I use often. Given that I also have a tendency to forget names, saying ‘Hi honey!’ to a friend is something I say A LOT!
Funny thing is, that’s how we grew up. Even when I was a high schooler myself, we did not leave the house without telling my parents we loved them. There were nights we went to bed and it was said with clenched teeth but I can honestly say that I was raised with such respect for those three words. And I’ve done my best to pass that down to my own children.
I already admitted that I am a hugger. And I think hugs are seriously underrated and underappreciated. There are countless times where my kids have just needed a hug. I can’t always find the words, especially as they get older, to make things right. And sometimes in the rush of the day or the moment, that quick touch on the hand, a pat on the shoulder, it does make a difference. We all know those people that when you hug them it’s like this invisible wall is between you and they give you that awkward one armed get-away-you’re-in-my-space hug. I wrap you up with both arms and squeeze you like go-gurt. I hug my husband, my kids, my friends, my trainers and, of course, my dogs. Hug it out, people.
Ugh - yeah, this one is a problem for me. I love to buy gifts for other people. In fact, just this past weekend I bought two jump ropes - one for my husband for Valentine’s Day and one for one of my best girlfriends. And these jump ropes, let’s just say that they are the cadillac of jump ropes. Beautiful handles, adjustable cable, it’s own set of tools and case. Now mind you, the reasons why were completely different. For my husband, he has been working on his jump roping at the gym and I have learned that jump roping does not come easily to everyone. So buying him the jump rope was my way of saying - I see your effort, I’m proud of your effort, here’s a tool for your toolbox. For my friend, she’s already got her jumps down. And I know she loves the jumprope but she won’t buy it for herself. Two totally different reasons but both came from the heart. And, hopefully, show each of them individually that I am proud of their effort and hard work.
I fall a little short in this area. I am the person that can’t relax while watching a movie because I have laundry. Or dishes. Or some other task that has to get done. I am not as good about giving my time to my family in ways that they enjoy and I don’t. I try but it’s something that I struggle with.
My husband, on the other hand, he gets it done. Countless times he has given them his time. I have watched him watch movies that make your eyeballs hurt, watch youtube videos that make zero sense, patiently demonstrate over and over how to change the brake pads on the car. He goes without sleep, he does little if anything for himself and devotes vast amounts of his time to his family. In many ways it lets me off the hook because I know that they are good - they have daddy time and that’s important and it allows me to do what I need to do. But I do need to find more balance and realize that the world will not stop turning if all of the laundry isn’t done RIGHT NOW. Perfect in my imperfections, right??
I’m awesome at this one. Seriously. AWE-SOME. I am a doer. You give me a task, you give me a way to help out and I will get it done. I am that sick wife out shoveling the driveway while her husband is at work because I don’t want him to have to come home and worry about it. I try to make it so that when my family is all together they can relax and simply enjoy that time. I’ll do your laundry, get your favorite dessert, make sure that you have what you need to be your best you. I’ll bring in your trash can if it’s laying in the street, I’ll let out your dogs, I’ll be there for you in a pinch the best I can because there aren’t many people in my life that I depend on and I know what it means to have that person. I’m by no means a saint but I do like to help out others whenever I can.
How can we be better about showing the love?
As a whole, I think there are ways that we can be better about showing the love year round and not just on February 14. Listen, every day is not going to be perfect but if we strive individually, as parents, as members of the community to show the love, show compassion, be better contributors how can that not be a good thing!
Showing the love every day
Life is busy - trust me, with three dogs, three kids and a husband with an intense high profile job I GET STRESS. And I am not the best at managing stress. But some things that have made a difference:
Let things go. There are lots of small irritations that make up my day and I have learned that I can’t jump on the bandwagon of every single one. I have to let some things go - often times a lot of things. Whether I distract myself with Words with Friends, go for a walk or watch bad tv, I have had to find a way to compartmentalize those things that are necessary to deal with and those things that I have to turn the other cheek to.
Give it a couple of hours. I am a reactor. And when I am mad or upset, my first response is to react. I am working hard at simply giving myself a couple of hours before I do so. It’s not a perfect process but when I do do it, it has much better results, much more loving results than flying off the handle.
Use my words - the good words. Again, say I love you. No matter what. Tell your kids, tell your loved ones, make that phone call and say it, text it, tweet it, whatever. Time is short and bad things can happen in an instance. If you love them, let them know.
Forgive often. Again, at times I struggle with this because I get wrapped up in thinking I’m a decent person, I try to do the right thing - why is this happening to me? It’s just life, peeps, just life. And some times, the dice don’t roll in your favor, sometimes you are the object of gossip, sometimes life just blows. Forgive as best you can. Mind you forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting - it just means forgiving the transgression as best you can or, better yet, simply forgive yourself for letting it bother you. You are the driver of your own thoughts - don’t give other people the control to uber you around.
Carry around a gratitude list. I know, I know - you’re sick of hearing about the gratitude list. I’m telling you though, it works! Do it right now. Pull out a scrap of paper and write down ten things you are grateful for. Just ten. But ten things that really make you feel LOVE. Stick it in your pocket, your purse, your wallet and when the proverbial you know what hits the fan, pull out that list and read it. It is such a diffuser of anger and ill feelings. For whatever reason, that list will serve as a compass to direct you back to where you are able to recognize what matters in your life, where your gratitude and thankfulness resides.
Helping those that have lost
This is such a personal part of my life right now, trying to help my sister and her husband find love. Because what they loved most in the world was ripped right from their hands and their heart. And no gratitude list or gift is going to replace their son. I ask them for help when it is needed and when it gives them the opportunity to show their love. Just this past weekend my dad was sick, my mom was out of town and I called my sister. She was awesome and it gave her the opportunity to help, to show love and focus her energy on giving to someone in need. I so want to help them on the journey, help them remember how much their son was loved by many, by all of us but when they are ready for that help. I listen when needed and reach out for help and be there whenever I’m needed. And pray that they know how much they are loved.
In this crazy every day world, make a point to show love every day. Put it on your to do list, make it a part of your mantra, be committed to showing those that you love just how much they fill your heart. Hug your dogs, make time for your kids, buy someone a card or a little bauble and if you can, do something every day to make someone else’s life a little bit easier.
“Hey brother! Do you still believe in one another?
Hey Sister! Do you still believe in love? I wonder
Oh, if the sky comes falling down, for you
There’s nothing in the world I wouldn’t do.”
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