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greet yourself with love

 

love yourself


I am in love with The Time Traveler's Wife. It is, by far, one of the best novels I've read in a long time. For whatever reason, I'd been hesitant to pick up a copy, but when I saw the preview for the upcoming movie starring one of my favorite actors, Rachel McAdams, I knew I had to read the book. And I'm so glad that I made that decision. I picked up a copy of the book at Target last week and, as I was on my way back to the office, sitting at a red light, I cracked open the book for a quick skim. The first thing I came across -- on the very first page -- was this:


"Love After Love"
Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.


When I read this, I knew I would love the book. When the light finally turned green, I had a hard time putting the book down. As I pulled back into the parking lot at work, I sighed, wishing I could grab the book and go sit under a tree and read the whole thing. I have so many wonderful things to say about the book itself, but for this post I'm going to focus on the poem above. When I read the poem, I think about self love and what it means to really sit with yourself, be in love with yourself, after the love of another is gone. The poem makes me think about reflections, what we're seeing when we look in the mirror and how much of that is tied to what we expect others to see in us. When you look in the mirror, do you smile at yourself? Are you happy to see yourself? Are you as happy to see yourself as you would be see another? Or as another would be to see you?

Our relationships with ourselves are the longest, most important relationships we will have, but much do we really focus on that person in the mirror? I don't know about you, but I spend a lot of time focusing on other people, especially when it comes to the idea of love. I spend time analyzing and thinking and over-thinking situations, instead of really just sitting down with myself and realizing that the love I have for myself should be my focus. I should, as the poem suggests, greet myself with elation, with kindness, with love. How many of us really do that? How many of us really greet and treat ourselves with love? While reading this poem leaves me with a sad taste in my mouth, the thought of a love lost, it also reminds me that I have a life of my own, a life that is completely removed from any love I've ever had. My life is mine to feast on, to enjoy, to love, and it is still a complete life without the love letters, the photographs, the others.

Of course, the love I've experienced from others has a great impact on my life and I would most likely not be the person I am today without the love I've experienced. However, the poem is a great reminder to me that I can sit down and enjoy my life all by myself. I believe that many of us ignore ourselves, put ourselves second to others. We look in the mirror and see not what we see, but what others see. We think in terms of others (and how can we not?...we are social creatures after all), and, in doing so, often neglect ourselves. What if we were to put as much dedication and heartfelt love into ourselves as we do to others? What would life be like then? Loving ourselves fully doesn't mean neglecting to love others or acting selfishly. It means sharing the love you give to others with yourself.

What I realized when I read this poem is that you don't have to wait until love has ended to love yourself. If you're in a relationship or a marriage, love yourself now. If you're single, love yourself now. Love, I believe, is limitless. It's not as if you have a ration of love and you have to dole it out carefully. You can love yourself as much as you want while still having plenty of love to go around. You can wake up every day and love yourself as much as you possibly can and still love all of the people around you. That's the amazing thing about love! It's not something that comes in limited quantities. There is plenty of love in you to share both with yourself and others.

There have been times when I've looked at myself in the mirror and wondered, "Who are you?" There have been times when I looked at myself and saw a stranger. I didn't know myself because I didn't love myself. While I've felt like I've known others like the back of my hand, I can't say that I've always felt that way about myself. It's not easy sometimes to know and love who you are. It's a lot easier to accept the bad qualities of others than it is to accept those of yourself, which is maybe one of the reasons it's so hard for us to love ourselves consistently. Now that I'm getting to know myself better, I'm learning to love who I am -- the good and the bad -- more and more. I cannot say that I'm always smiling at myself in the mirror, so overjoyed to see myself, but I'm making progress.

More and more I'm happier with the person I am. More and more I'm loving myself, which, actually, makes it a lot easier to love others. The more comfortable I am with myself, the more comfortable I am with other people. The more I accept myself, the more I can accept others. See how it works? It sounds terribly cliche, but it's true. The way I feel about myself is often reflected out to the world and the happier I am with who I am, the happier I appear to the world. I used to put up a wall (and, in many ways, I still do -- but I'm working on it!), but I try to be more open, I try to let people see me. In order for others to see me, when I look into the mirror, I have to see me. I cannot look at my reflection wondering, "What is it that others see?" Instead, I must ask myself, "What do I see?" When I really look at myself, really truly look, I'm often surprised by how much respect and love I have for myself. I'm taken aback by how much I do love myself, deep down, even though I don't always treat myself the way that I should.

I'm probably not the best one to be giving this advice, but I think we should all do what we can to take down the walls between ourselves and our reflections. We should look at ourselves in the mirror and see what's there -- not what we think should be there, not what we think others see there. We should love ourselves. We should, at all times, greet ourselves with love. Don't hide behind a mirror, behind what you think you should be. Instead, love yourself. Next time you look in the mirror, greet yourself as you would a loved one. Next time you catch a glimpse of yourself, dispel those negative thoughts that come creeping in by greeting yourself with love.

For more on loving yourself, you might want to check out some of these posts:

The ABC's of Loving Yourself
The (Self) Love Song
How To Love Your Life's Path
Love, Love, Love Who You Are Now


growing up is optional

 

happy cereal 

"Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional."

Chili Davis

 

I don't know if I embraced my childhood as well as I could have. I was a bit uptight. I was a bit on edge. I wasn't really willing to let go and just have fun the way other kids were. But just because I'm a grown up (sort of) doesn't mean I can't have fun the way a kid might. This week I'm going to do what I can to celebrate the things I loved as a child. Today I'm going to think back to those (almost) carefree summer days as a kid and figure out exactly what it was that I loved to do -- and then I'm going to find ways to incorporate that joyful, childlike sense of fun into my grown up life. So, what did I like to do as a kid?

 

Coloring: As a kid, two of my favorite things to do were reading and writing (yes, I was a huge nerd) and do a lot of those things still as an adult, but I also loved drawing and coloring something I don't do nearly enough of these days. When I was living out in California, I used to have a sketch book and I would spend hours and hours in front of the TV with a plethora of markers, just drawing and doodling. It's been forever since I've done that and I think it would be a great thing to take up again. I used to think of it as sort of a calming therapy (though, looking back at it now some of those angry and sad images were far from calming!). While I probably won't dabble in the coloring books of my youth (My Little Pony! Disney Princesses!), I'm pretty sure I could easily get back into drawing and art like I was in college.


Fort Building:
When I was a kid, I actually liked to be outside some of the time (unlike the adult me who would much prefer to be inside unless a suntan and a pool are involved). I had a best friend who enjoyed building forts with me. I was lucky enough to have a great backyard (not big, but big enough) in which I had two perfect areas for creating forts. Okay, let's be serious -- I'm not going to go around creating forts as an adult, but I can think of my new apartment as my little fort. Soon I'll be moving and I can use that time to create a lovely little space of home for myself.


Journaling:
One of my favorite things to do as a child was write in my journal. I had all of these beautiful (locked!) journals that held all of my deepest thoughts. Lately, especially since I've started blogging, I've sort of let the journaling go. I need to think back to how much I loved it as a child -- how much pleasure I took in writing everything down, reflecting on my day -- and get back into it. There is something completely refreshing and liberating about writing down how you feel and knowing that no one will ever read those words. And, even more important, is having the journals to go back to. I love looking back at them now, seeing glimpses of my younger self, and I'm sure I'll feel the same way in my future.


Playing:
When I was really young I used to love playing with dolls, with toys. Though I do have the wonderful privilege of playing with Bella and her toys and I guess, in a way, things like iPods and Kindles are toys, but do I really do that much playing these days? Am I really all that playful? (Or, better question, was I really even that playful ever?) I think this is an area of my life that I could definitely improve on and I think a lot of other adults are probably in the same boat on this one. Think about it: do adults really play all that much? I'm going to work on playing more. I have a feeling it'll be a great happiness booster.


Swimming:
I used to love to swim. I used to dread the moment when the whistle would blow and the lifeguard (who I was secretly in love with) would yell out, "Adult swim!" I hated being told I had to get out of the pool and I couldn't wait until the day I was old enough to be considered an adult. Now I spend hours by the pool, not even dipping a toe in the water. Yesterday, my good friend Abbey asked me, "Do you ever go in the water?" I wrinkled my nose and said, "No. Never." But why? I used to love swimming. I used to love the feeling of moving freely underwater, holding my breath and playing silly games with friends. Next time I go to the pool I'm going to go in the water. I'm going to swim and see if I like it as much as I did when I was a kid.

 

Obviously there are many, many things I did as a kid that I don't do anymore, but I think the ones I've mentioned above are things I could pretty easily incorporate into my life now and I think all of them will have positive benefits. So what about you? Have you thought back to your younger self and considered what you might have loved to do then that you no longer do now? Have you thought about why you don't do it? If you would still like to? I bet we'd all learn a lot about ourselves if we thought about what we did as kids and how different that is from what we do now. In my case, I'd say that reading and writing were the biggest time consumers of my childhood and they're still the things I spend most of my time doing. However, that's not the case for everyone. Give it some thought. You might be surprised at what you remember. You might even find some ways to bring that childhood self back into your life.


What did you love to do as a child?
Do you still do those things? If not, why not?


positively present: the soundtrack

 

positively present music


After writing my post "The Positive Power of Music" the other day, I received some requests for a soundtrack to accompany the post. Since I wasn't quite sure where to begin, I took a look back to an interview I did with The Sassy Minx a few months ago (click the link to read the interview). In the interview, the sassy Miss Lisa asked, "What tunes would be on a PP soundtrack?" I remember receiving this question and being overjoyed. I love soundtracks so the thought of creating my own was amazing. But then I was surprisingly stumped when I realized that the soundtrack for my life wouldn't necessarily be the soundtrack for my blog. After all, up until the beginning of the year, I'd been living under quite a dark cloud of sadness and self pity. A lot of the songs I loved (and still love) wouldn't be fitting for a PP soundtrack. That sassy minx Lisa, by asking her question in the interview, nudged me to open up my iTunes and really think about what a PP soundtrack would be like. I created a blank playlist titled "Happy!" and got to work. I was pretty proud of the happy, positive playlist I came up with for the interview with The Sassy Minx and to it I've added a few tracks. I probably could have gone on and on with all of the songs I love and created a hundred song playlist but I thought twenty-five was a nice number (and fitting too since, after all, I am twenty-five). I really do believe that it's necessary to have both the negative and the positive in life, but, in this playlist I chose to focus on the most uplifting, inspiring, happy songs I could find. I hope you get a chance to check out some of these artists and their amazing songs.

Below you will find the Positively Present soundtrack, a collection of tunes that really speaks to me about being positive and looking for the good in almost any situation. Being positive and doing my best to live in the present moment isn't always easy and these are some of the songs I turn to when I'm feeling like giving up or giving in. In addition to listening the title and artists, I've provided links to their sites so you can learn more about them (or find their songs if you're interested in hearing them). I've also provided some of my favorite lyrics from each song. In some cases, those lyrics are the ones that keep me smiling. In other cases, those lyrics are only snippets of all of the wonderful words in the song. For many of these songs, it was hard for me to pick just a few lines since so many were magical, but I did my best to narrow it down to my favorite words. Words, after all, are my happy sounds. I hope you enjoy!



The Positively Present Soundtrack: 25 Songs For Living Happily Now


1. "Always Love" Nada Surf -- "To make a mountain of your life/Is just a choice/I never learned enough/To listen to the voice that told me/Always love/Hate will get you every time"


2. "Under That Cloud" Adrienne Pierce -- "I used to watch all the dark clouds form/I used to be drawn to that storm/Now I am never going back/Never going back under that cloud"


3. "Steer" Missy Higgins -- "The search ends here/Where the night is totally clear/And your heart is fierce/So now you finally know/You can control where you go/You can steer"


4. "Love Love Love" Tristan Prettyman -- "This life is a beautiful one/And though I’ve seen it comin’ undone/I know most definitely/That it all works out the way it’s meant to be"


5. "Goodbye Alice in Wonderland" Jewel -- "Truth is stranger than fiction/This is my chance to get it right/Life is so much better without all of those pretty lies"


6. "Sweet Silver Lining" Kate Voegele -- "I may be weak/But I’m never defeated/And I’ll keep believing/In clouds with that sweet silver lining"


7. "Let Go" Frou Frou -- "Let go, jump in/Whatcha waiting for?/It’s alright ‘cause there’s beauty in the breakdown/So let go, just get in/Oh, it’s so amazing here/It’s alright ‘cause there’s beauty in the breakdown"


8. "Pig" Dave Matthews Band -- "I’m saying open up/And let the rain come pouring in/ Wash out this tired notion that the best is yet to come/While you’re dancing on the ground don’t think of when you’re gone/Love, love -– what more is there?"


9. "Nolita Fairytale" Vanessa Carlton -- "I walk the streets with a song in my head/We ebb and we flow so/Got my toes and my pup at the foot of my bead/The heart always seems to know/Take the glitz back/I want the soul instead/’Cause I’ve found some kinda fairytale"


10. "Pony (It’s OK)" Erin McCarley -- "You deserve a smile with no regret/Oh, look at you, kicking off your shoes/Dancing for the world to see/You got the power to believe/Open up and sing and go be free and fly away"


11. "The Resolution" Jack’s Mannequin -- "There’s a lot that I don’t know/There’s a lot that I’m still learning/But I think I’m letting go/To find my body; it’s still burning"


12. "Silver Lining" Rilo Kiley  -- "And I was your silver lining/As the story goes/I was your silver lining/But now I’m gold/Hooray, hooray, I’m your silver lining/Hooray, hooray, but now I’m gold"


13. "Snow (Hey Oh)" Red Hot Chili Peppers -- "When it’s killing me, what do I really need?/All I need is to look inside/Hey, oh, listen to what I say/Come back and listen to what I say/The more I see, the less I know/The more I like to let it go"


14. "This Is My Now" Jordon Sparks -- "I am made of more than my yesterdays/This is my now and I am breathing in the moment/As I look around/I can’t believe the love I see/My fears behind me/Gone are the shadows and doubt/This is my now"


15. "Least Complicated" Indigo Girls -- "So what makes me think I could start clean-slated?/The hardest to learn was the least complicated/I’m just a mirror of a mirror of myself/All the things that I do/The next time I fall/I’m gonna have to recall/It isn’t love/It’s only something new"


16. "Half-Assed" Ani DiFranco -- "Just show me a moment that is mine/It’s beauty blinding and unsurpassed/Make me forget every moment that went by/That left me so half-hearted/'Cause I felt it so half-assed"


17. "Dashboard" Modest Mouse -- "Well, it could’ve been, should’ve been, worse than you would ever know/Oh, the dashboard melted but we still have the radio/it could’ve been, should’ve been, worse than it had even gone/Well, the car was on block, but I was already where I want"


18. "Fingerprints" Katy Perry -- "Don’t give up/Don’t give in/Build your house on the rock/Not in the sand, in the sand, in the sand/It’s my life and I’m not sitting on the sidelines watching/It pass me by/Gotta make my mark/Gotta run it hard/I want you to remember me"


19. "I Will Be Grateful For This Day..." Bright Eyes -- "So I am writing my own ending/I let my pen bleed black or blue/And I will color in the meaning/It will be gold and green and true/And I'll learn to love my new discovered proof/I'll be grateful for this day/I will be grateful for each day to come"


20. "Whatever It Is" Ben Lee -- "And you're dreaming, and you're dreaming, and you're dreaming/I turn to you and say,'Awake is the new sleep, awake is the new sleep/So wake up. And do it, whatever it is. Just do it, whatever it is'"


21. "What Are You Waiting For?" Gwen Stefani -- "Naturally, I'm worried if I do it alone/Who really cares, causes it's your life/You never know it could be great/Take a chance cause you might grow"


22. "Imperfect Is the New Perfect" Caitlin Crosby -- "I don't wanna look like you because you're too perfect/And i don't wanna fill your shoes because it's not worth it/Don't fit the mold, I am real/too colorful to conceal"


23. "Don't Panic" Coldplay -- "We live in a beautiful world. Oh, all that I know/There's nothing here to run from/And there, everybody here's got somebody to lean on"


24. "Happy" Natasha Bedingfield -- "Got my dreams, got my life, got my love/Got my friends, got the sunshine above/Why am I making this hard on myself/When there's so many beautiful reasons I have to be happy"


25. "A Praise Chorus" Jimmy Eat World -- "Things are never gonna be the way you want/Where's it gonna get you, acting serious?/Things are never gonna be quite what you want/Even at 25, you've gotta start sometime"

Thanks for checking out the Positively Present playlist. If you want to listen to the songs right now, check out Positively Present on Blip. I enjoyed doing this so much that I may post playlists periodically. Thinking about music and lyrics is one of my favorite things to do (if you haven't noticed from the way I use music in almost all of my posts!) so this was a joy of a task for me to take on. As much as I love sharing my music with others, I also love hearing about music too. Old songs, new songs, favorite songs -- I love to hear what other people are listening to. So, I bet you know what my questions of the day are going to be now, don't you?


What songs would be on your soundtrack?
What are some of your all-time favorite songs?