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!

Does The End Justify The Means?

karmaDominosThe answer to this might be more gray than black and white. What is “the means”? What is “the end”? Are we ending world hunger? Creating world peace? How does this apply in your relationships, to your career, or to your yoga practice?

This saying can be traced back to Demosthenes (384 – 322 BC) when he said, “Every advantage in the past is judged in the light of the final issue.”

A similar quote by Saint Jerome around 394 A.D states… “The line, often adopted by strong men in controversy, of justifying the means by the end.”

And we see it again from Ovid, the Roman poet, in his saying, “The result justifies the deed.”

What is the reality?

Can we throw moral caution to the wind and justify any means by the end? Anything to get the win, reach the goal, make it to the top, and don’t stop until you drop?

Karma, Karma, Karma – do you love me? (reminds me of a 60’s song)

Here’s the thing…We don’t get to escape Karma…the energy with which we use to get what we want in life is the energy that lights our way to our destiny.

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Who can forget the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan drama of the 1994 Winter Ice Skating Olympics…or the scandalous doping of Lance Armstrong as a Professional Cyclist? Classic examples of justifying the means to get the desired end.

Our energy has a ripple effect on ourselves and the people around us.

In this light, it is the underlying intention of the heart that justifies the end.

Mat translation…

In the early years of my yoga practice it really mattered that I strike the RIGHT pose and that it LOOK a certain way and that I HOLD it for an unreasonable amount of time… usually longer than the person next to me. Bigger, better, longer, stronger. Apparently the end result mattered…to me. I was comparing rather than connecting, forcing rather than yielding, and caring about what others thought rather than how I felt.

After many injuries (wrists, ACL tear, hamstring issues, rotator cuff issues, etc.) I began to LISTEN, WATCH, and LEARN. Over time I sought a different means to the end. Instead of forcing I dropped into a more child-like curiosity. Learning to feel into a posture with more skillful alignment and tuning in with how my mind and body was responding. Was there a buildup of resentment, forcefulness, or harsh undertones? OR did my practice include respect, love, compassion, and care? When I let go of grasping for “perfection” what came naturally was a perfect pose. I don’t mean the magazine kind of perfect pose…I mean the pose that feels right, supported but not overly tense, extended but not overly stretched, strong but not overly rigid. The result for me has been a quicker route to what I wanted in the first place…a real purposeful yoga practice. One that cultivates peace, strength, and honesty within me.

What is your weigh in on this thought?

Maybe in the end it’s the means that really matters.

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Leave a comment below about where/when you find the end justifying the means or the other way around… the means justifying the end. I’d love to hear from you!

Transformation From On High

Today’s blog is born from last week’s hike on one of the Mountains just North of where I live. The mountain is called Lone Peak and is one of the most challenging summits of the eighteen Wasatch Peaks over 11,000’ in Utah.Lonepeak

Psst…I’ve never been one to get excited about climbing a tall peak.  Especially one that requires a class 4 scramble at the top.

I consider myself to be a casual hiker, 3-6 miles on average…the kind that I can do in a morning and still be coherent in the afternoon. The short story of why I decided to hike THIS particular peak is this…to test my endurance. I have two crazy friends who enthusiastically agreed to go with me.20160826_102455

The morning of the hike my stomach was in knots. I’ve looked at this massive peak from my bedroom window for the past 16 years and never once had an ounce of desire that I should be on top of its bouldered peak. This was going to be epic. And it would test me in ways I couldn’t imagine.

At 6 miles up, while navigating the winding narrow path along the northwest ridge before ascending the last 400 yards to the summit, I stopped. I was soooo done. Emotionally and mentally spent from the vigilant focus required to step one foot in front of the other up the steep slope and not freak out about the drop offs on either side was really getting to me. Not to mention the physical exertion required to get there. All I really wanted to do was to stay put and watch as my comrades scaled the boulders to the top. (A top about the size of my front porch with 200-500 foot drop offs.)

It was here, nearly 11,000 feet high with no obstructing views to my left or right, that I had an epiphany. The view was breath taking.

I wasn’t witnessing this view from a picture or Facebook or a painting or through a story told by one who has seen it…but for myself. Humbling. Overwhelming. I couldn’t help but shed tears of emotion at the sight (probably from the exhaustion too) and for the beauty of the earth. It was GRAND!

It is one of the hardest climbs I’ve ever done. (Yes, I did finally make it to the very tippy top with some gentle coxing from a friend.)

What I realized in that moment is this…

Real transformation happens only when you put your best foot forward…when you see things through to the end. Transformation requires that we gain REAL experience…to put ourselves out on a limb and then take action, step by step, to reach our dreams. Supportive friends help get us through it!

You can talk about doing hard things or watch others as they do hard things or wonder why people do hard things in the first place.

But you only really KNOW the WHY when you experience it for yourself.

Pause for a picture.

Enjoying the view.

What is your mountain to climb?

Do you have moments when the busy-ness of life falls away and what is left is a moment that takes your breath away? This is transformation. You FEEL it and it cannot be undone, and you are changed forever in that moment.

It’s real change taking place one breath and one step at a time.

What challenges take you to your highest peak? Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

Five Tips to Keep You Cool This Summer…

I get so excited as we move into the summer months and the days get longer.

We have more BBQ’s, outdoor fun, gatherings with friends, and activities that create fond memories to last a lifetime.

In all of the excitement of summer it’s easy to overbook and exhaust ourselves in the name of FUN & GAMES.

I’ve got you covered with these five tips to keep yourself from burn out…

  1. Hydrate – everyday with water (1/2 your weight in ounces + 8 oz for every ½ hour of strenuous exercise). I cannot stress the importance of hydration. Your body is made up of 60-75% water. It’s how your cells move, divide, and assimilate vitamins and minerals. If you are feeling fatigued, have a headache, have dry mouth, or are constantly thirsty, you may be dehydrated. Check in with your water intake and keep tabs on it. For someone who is 130 lbs you would need to drink 4 quarts of water.
  2. Bedtime – Your best time to replenish the adrenals with sleep is between 10 – 12pm. Go ahead and head to bed with the sun (between 9-10pm.) Over time you’ll wake up automatically at about sunrise and feel refreshed.20160702_132009
  3. Peppermint (essential oil or leaves) – If you have access to peppermint essential oils this little power house can save the day and cool you off with just one drop. For every 16 oz of water add 1-2 drops of peppermint. (Use sparingly as it is strong.) The cool minty taste was a lifesaver in India where it’s 100 degrees in April with little air conditioning. You can use it in your smoothies as well. A favorite of mine is ¼ watermelon (cut into chunks) blended with ice, one TBLS chopped peppermint leaves, and the juice of 1 lime. Yummy and COOL!
  4. 12 Hour Rule – let your stomach rest and digest for 12 hours of the day…from 6pm – 6am or 7pm – 7am, etc. Eat regular meals during the other 12 hours of the day. This was a game changer for me. I found my sleeping was better when I stuck to the 12 hour rule.
  5. Viparita Karani – Sounds like a rap song but it’s a yoga posture and a great way to cool off and refresh. Translated it means Legs-up-the-wall pose and it’s worth it’s weight in benefits. Some of which are:
    • Cooling to the body (hot flashes be gone!)
    • Reduces Anxiety, depression, and menstrual cramps
    • Restores energy
    • Improves Arthritis2016-07 Viparita
    • Helps with Digestion
    • Relieves Headaches and Insomnia
    • Balances blood pressure
    • Respiratory ailments
    • Urinary disorders
    • Varicose veins

Of course there’s always the old standby of a having good old fashioned water-fight to cool you off. The water is refreshing and the playful energy can relieve stress and tension caused by burnout.

What do you do when you feel overworked and under nourished?

Decisions, Decisions…

I’m a self proclaimed recovering multitask-aholic. I start on one project and get side tracked into another…then another…and oh yes then another…by the end of the day I wonder where my time was spent because it looks like NOTHING was accomplished. It is common in a day to put many demands on myself. Without filters to say “no” to many of these tasks I would feel guilty or like I was “missing out” on something if I didn’t do it ALL. I felt like my life was being played out for me and I was getting resentful. Most of these tasks (if not all) seemed super important to me… things like, I need to keep up in my business, spend time with the kids, get dinner on the table, clean the house, do the laundry, water the garden (or put one in), mend those shirts that are piled up, get a workout in, meditate, meet with my child’s teacher, grocery shop, date night, network with peers, squeeze in some yoga training, etc. I lost site of important goals because of all the little unimportant “important” tasks.

Reminds me of saying…”The road to hell <or mediocrity> is paved with good intentions.”

I get it.

My dreams and aspirations were getting lost in an ocean of “have tos” and “shoulds”. I found myself swimming in self doubt, overwhelm, and un-constructive inner criticism because I wasn’t able to prioritize.

What to do about it?

For me it’s a daily practice of staying present and determining WHAT is most important. I DECIDE on a goal and then DECIDE what, where, and with whom I spend my time…having the end goal in mind.  I get to use my decision making muscles. I create focus and clarity by having an “eye on the prize” so to speak.

The key lies in the word “decide”. To “decide” is to literally “cut” yourself off from any other option. Once you decide to do something there is no turning back.

Once the trapeze artist decides to let go of the swing there is no turning back, he has to catch the next swing mid-air to make it to the other side.

Life is like that.

If we are only dipping our toe half into the water we will falter and when the going gets tough it’s easier to give up and move back into our comfort zone (or safety net) rather than plunge right in and make it to the goal. To DECIDE gives you no other option.

For instance, I decided last year to enter my FIRST ever Triathlon. (It’s been on my bucket list for 20+ years).

So why did I follow through this time?

When the opportunity arose to enter the “Women of Steel” sprint triathlon I decided to put my money where my mouth was. It took me less than five minutes to make that decision. I plunged in…ready, set, and registered. No turning back.

Did I have to get up early to get a run in? Yes. Was it hard? Yes. What got me up was the picture in my mind of me finishing the race with a decent time and plenty of energy. I had my “eye on the prize”. I did NOT want to “half-ass” it and come in middle of the pack, out of breath, injured, or worse…not finish.

When my training required two-a-days I mustered up the inner strength to bike to the local rec center, swim a mile and then bike home.Was it cold? YES. Was it windy? YES. Was it hard? YES.

Why did I stick with it? Because I made a conscious, internal decision I was going to do it. There was NO TURNING BACK or giving up. Making the decision gave me unwavering focus to stay with my training and NOT get sidetracked into other “important” tasks.
No detours, no excuses.

Making that single clear decision gave me the focus i needed to train without distractions.

My yoga practice helps me conquer outer distractions and instead tune in and cultivate focus. It has been a useful part of my life’s training as I set goals and keep my “eye on the prize”.
A great pose to encourage focus without faltering is  Vrksasana (Tree pose).
What decisions have you made in the past month? Are you moving forward on your goals even when they are hard? What keeps you motivated? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.
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