"Everything that I understand,
I understand only because I love."
Today someone I love, someone who I have learned so much from and who has helped me understand the world in a new way, is celebrating his thirtieth birthday. One of the people who has changed my life more than he could ever know came into the world thirty years ago today. Now, three decades later, I am sitting here thinking about how incredibly grateful I am to have him in my life and to know that someone else's existence has impacted my own in such a profound and meaningful way.
Because I am always writing about how we must create our own positive lives, it seems cliche and wrong to write about how someone else has brought so much positivity in my life, but I cannot deny the reality... He has changed me. He has changed my life. He has taught me things I never would have thought (even at my most positive) I could learn: to be open, to be honest, to be willing to let go of the past and live fully in the present moment. Over the past nine months of knowing him, my life has changed considerably. I've moved. I've changed jobs. I've changed habits. I am, in so many ways, a different person. A better person. And so much of that has to do with his positive influence on my life.
I'm not the type to willingly admit others have an such a big impact on me, but in this case it's undeniable. Like it or not, he has made (and continues to make) me better. Not different, mind you, but better. He has done what I imagine all great people should do: he has come into my life and made me more me. He hasn't changed who I was before; he's made me more of who I have always been meant to be. With his love, his encouragement, and his belief in me, the puzzle pieces of my life that always seemed to be getting lost or pushed into the wrong spaces are now fitting together perfectly, snapping into place and creating this complete and beautiful picture of who I am.
There are many people who have helped me to become the person I am today (a person, admittedly, who is still a work in progress!), but there are few that have had quite the impact he has had on my life. I feel, at times, like I was always waiting for him, like I knew he was out there and it was that knowledge tickling the recesses of my brain that hinted and suggested and prodded until I moved forward in the right direction, closer to him. I feel as if I have been moving towards him for some time, or maybe he was moving towards me, but without knowing it was coming, we crashed into each other on a night when the sky was filled with shooting stars and our hearts, tired as they were, were still brimming with hope.
Since that fateful day when our hearts collided and everything began falling into place, I have learned so much -- about him, about myself, and about love. Today, I'm going to share some of those lessons with you (and stay tuned for Part II coming soon!). These are the things I wish I'd always known and the things I am so grateful to know today. As grateful as I am for these lessons, I am even more thankful for him, the one who came into my life so unexpectedly and changed it, and me, for the better. And now, here I am, able to sit here and share with you some of the lessons I've learned...
Because of Love, I Now Know...: Lessons 1-14
You attract what you want to attract.
You attract what you want to attract.
Some might knock the Law of Attraction, but I can't help but see some truth in the idea that we bring to us what we focus on the most. Nearly a year ago, I read a book that recommended I create a list of any and all attributes I wanted in a partner. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and I came up with 146 things. After we'd been seeing each other for awhile, I dug out the list and grabbed a pink highlighter to highlight the traits he had. At the end of my highlighting, I flipped through the pages of the notebook and realized they were covered in pink. Almost every single thing was highlighted. Odd as it might sound, I do believe in some weird way, that I attracted what I really, truly wanted.
There really is a moment when you just know.
It might seem like a total cliche, but the moment I met him there was a spark. It was years ago and we were both in completely different places in our lives, but, for whatever reason, something sparked between us. Neither one of us ever forgot the other and, when I met him again for the second time, I swear my heart stopped beating for just a second. I knew something was different about him, important and essential to the very core of my being, but I didn't know then what it was. I've been in love before but, with him, it has always been different. I always thought the "you just know" line was a bullshit excuse for people who couldn't really remember why they'd fallen in love, but now I believe it with my whole heart. When you know, you know.
The right one will always, always bring you up, not down.
I've had my fair share of relationships and I can't say that they all left me feeling as if I was an awesomely talented, wonderful person. In fact, some of the people I'd been with in the past made me feel as if I was worthless, pointless, useless. Some people made me feel as if I could do no right and that whatever I did would probably result in a big mess of mistakes (which may or may not have been true at the time...). Now I see that the right person, the best person, will always bring you up. No matter what you love to do, the right person for you will be supportive of it. They don't have to do it too, they don't even have to understand it sometimes, but they will always loving and respectfully support you. They will bring you up as high as they can and never will they try to push you down.
Love will inspire you, will make you believe you can do anything.
Deep down I've always had a sparkling belief that I could do anything I wanted to do. I come from a family that believes in me and, generally speaking, I've done a pretty good job of surrounding myself with people who believe in me. But nothing is quite as inspiring as love and someone who loves you and believes in you. The right kind of honest, true love will make you realize you really can do what you want to do with your life, and that you, and only you, have the ability to transform your world and turn your dreams into realities. Before I met him, I believed, but after I met him I started to take serious action. Coincidence? Perhaps. Or maybe it's the amazing power of love and it's ability to transform not only the way we see the world, but the way we see ourselves.
Your actions always affect others; choose them wisely.
I am not perfect. I have made mistakes in the past and I continue to make mistakes because I am human and that's what we humans do. There are times when I have been selfish and haven't stopped to think about the consequences of my actions. In the past, I didn't care. I thought to myself, "Hey, I gotta live my life!" and I didn't really care what might happen if someone didn't like my choices. Now I've learned that what I choose to do can have a significant impact on the people who love me and, as a result, I must consider them when I make choices. Love has a way of teaching us that what we do matters not only to us, but also (and sometimes more importantly) to those who love us.
A tight, loving hug can sometimes be the best response.
Earlier this year, I was very unhappy with my employment situation. There was one day in particular where I just sat down on floor and cried, working myself up into a pitiful state at the thought of going to work the next day. I wanted a change (which I eventually got) and I felt incredibly trapped. There wasn't much he could do or say, but he came home and sat down on the floor with me and just hugged me. As I cried into his shoulder, I realized it was one of those moments when really all I needed was a hug from someone who loved me. The work situation still sucked, but I was happy to be there with him, to feel so incredibly loved, and I knew that love would help me get to a place where I was much happier.
Your past is important, but not more important than right now.
With all of my focusing on the present, I sometimes feel as if I'm running a bit from the past, trying to pretend as if it didn't happen. But, as anyone who has tried this tactic knows, it never works for very long. The past, like it or not, can creep into the present when you least expect it (and sometimes when you do!), so I've learned that it's best to deal with it head on. It's sometimes painful and uncomfortable, but it's necessary and important if you want to move forward with your present. I've learned that, while dealing with the past is important, but nothing is ultimately more important than the life you're living right now. I used to find myself dragged back into the past, but, because of love, I've learned that the present is where I need to be and that's where I continue to stay -- living, enjoying, and being a part of every moment of my life right now.
When you give a lot of love, you get a lot of love.
Now, this statement might not always be true, but when you're dealing with real love, I believe it is. There have been times in my life where I've given love and received nothing in return. The reverse situation has also been true; I have been given love and had nothing to offer up in return. However, I've come to believe that the right kind of love makes the give and take obvious. It makes it unthinkable to even consider not giving and getting lots and lots of love. For the first time, I don't have to question whether or not what I'm giving is being given back to me. I feel it, know it, see it. When I love -- really, truly love -- I see it come back to me and I know, deep down, that I am getting exactly what I'm giving.
Gratitude is essential; even a "thank you" can express love.
Often, when things become routine, it can be hard to remember the little things, those "thank yous" can really mean so much, even if said in passing. I've learned that expressing gratitude -- and having gratitude expressed when I've done something -- can mean so much. For example, I am incredibly grateful for the delicious dinners cooked for me every night. I'm more grateful than I could ever really say because I really do hate to cook, and it's so wonderful to enjoy eating dinner. A simple "thank you" could be forgotten, but I try my best to show how grateful I am, no matter how many nights go by, because each and every one of those meals is awesome and I'm so lucky to have someone who makes the effort every night to make me happy.
You don't need grand gestures to show you care.
When you feel as if you love someone so much you could just squeeze him (or her), it can be hard to hold back on grandiose expressions of love. But this year I've learned that love doesn't have to be some excessive, expensive display. Expressions of love come in all shapes and sizes. Of course, big grand gestures are nice, but some of the most loving things I've experienced don't have to do with grandness, but instead have to do with him going out of his way to make me happy. Sometimes something small, like taking the pup for a walk when it's cold outside, can mean more than the most lavish gift in the world. If I were given the choice between a million small acts of kindness or one grand gesture, I'd take the kindness every single time. That, to me, is true love.
Love can be seen in a single look.
It might sound completely and utterly cheesy, but you really can tell love by a single look. You can look at couples and you can see how they feel about one another just by the way they look at each other. And you can really tell how someone feels about you when they look at you with that certain look of adoration in their eyes. There's no denying that look because, when you're in the midst of that loving emotion, there's no faking that feeling. You can also feel it yourself when you're giving that look to someone else. It's more than eyes and seeing; it's deeper than that. When he says to me, "I love the way you look at me," I can honestly say I know exactly how he's feeling because nothing feels as good as when he looks at me with love in his eyes.
The greatest love can make you cry with happiness.
It was somewhere in the middle of the first or second month we were together. He was on vacation and I was at home, propped up on my bed like a teenager, chatting on the phone with him for hours. Neither one of us wanted to hang up, though it was nearly 1:00am. We laughed and told each other stories for hours, and when we finally did say good night, I flopped back on my bed and thought about him. I thought about how much fun I had just talking to him and, then, much to my own surprise, I started crying through my big, cheeseball smile. I was so happy that I was crying. I'd heard of tears of joy, but I'd never before experienced them. This is when I learned that a great love really can make you cry with joy and fill your heart with an surprisingly tear-jerking happiness.
Don't be afraid to open up your heart, even if you're scared.
This has been the hardest, and yet the best, lesson for me to learn. In the past, I've opened up my heart, but it's always been hesitantly, with great care, and always holding just a little bit more in than I should. It was with him that I finally felt loved to a degree in which I could fully and completely open up my heart and let him in. To tell you the truth, this was terrifying for me. I always liked to keep other people at an arm's length and to pull someone close to me was an act I was unfamiliar with. Despite my fear, the choice to let him close to me has been surprisingly rewarding, leading me to feel things and share things I never thought I would. Love is amazing in that way; it can inspire us to let go of our fears and fall headfirst into the parts of ourselves that scare us the most.
Thoughtfulness is at the heart of every great gift.
I know, I know, love shouldn't be about gifts. And, really, it's not. But when I think of love and how it can impact the gift-giving process, it's pretty amazing to see just what thoughtfulness can do when it comes to giving a loved one a gift. There are so many great ways to give a gift and I'm a huge fan of gift giving, but there's nothing quite like a gift from someone who really loves you, who has clearly put time and effort into creating the perfect thing for you. Over the years, I've had my fair share of great gift moments, but nothing compares to the moment last December when I opened up a gift from him that had clearly taken so much effort and demonstrated so much thoughtfulness (both from him and his family, which was an extra loving bonus). Love will do that -- turn a good gift into the perfect moment.
You can change more than you realize when you're in love.
Personally, I'm of the mindset that you shouldn't have to change a great deal for someone you love. Love is about acceptance and, therefore, the person who loves you most should accept you for who you are. However, love is also about compromise, which means you do have to be open to changing some things in order to coexist in a relationship with someone you love. The thing I've found with real love is that you won't mind changing nearly as much as you might have thought when it comes to doing it for someone you care about (and someone who is also making an effort to change for you too). Love, real love, really is about compromising and meeting the other person half-way and I've learned that, much to my surprise, it's a lot easier to change when you want to do it for the sake of someone who means the world to you.
Though I'm only half-way through these thirty lessons, you can see there is a LOT to be learned from love. It's such an abstract concept at times, but it has powerfully changed me in so many concrete ways, especially over the past nine months of knowing today's birthday boy. It's taught me things I thought I might never fully understand and it's helped me to become more of the person I've always wanted to be. I am fortunate to experience a lot of love in my life, from a variety of different people and in a variety of different ways, but today I have to focus my attention on that special person who has recently come into my life and transformed it. Today I just had to tell not only him but all of you, readers, just how much love has changed me, helped me, and made me better. I'm so thankful that thirty years ago today, this amazing person came into the world and I'm even more thankful that, twenty-nine years later, we found each other. So, to him, today I must say: Happy, happy 30th birthday! You are the shooting star in my sky, lighting up the dark and filling my heart with constant inspiration. I love you.