Cultivate Love (AKA Valentine’s Day)

I gave my son a job for the day – to be as kind to as many people as he could. We talked about different things he could do:

  • Tell a friend how much he enjoys being their friend.
  • Hold the door for someone.
  • Help the teacher with something.
  • Thank the lunch helpers.
  • Tell a girl at his table several nice things today (this led into a conversation about how annoying she is and how she threw peas at him yesterday… which led into a conversation about how much she must need love)

Love.

An unconditional caring for another person.

An ability to be vulnerable to another person, to open your heart and your spirit to them without fear of judgement.

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.” -Brene Brown

How did my mom cultivate love?

  • She always hand delivered valentine’s to my family.
  • She showed kindness and compassion to kids she worked with who needed it most.
  • She called friends and ask how they were doing.
  • She shared rides, food, or shelter.
  • She hugged with all her being.

“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 of them – We can only love others as much as we love ourselves.” – Brene Brown

Loving ourselves as much as we love others was not something my mom was very good at. She struggled with depression, low self-esteem, and a life that was not how she envisioned it would be. It is also something I struggle with. Isn’t this true for most of us? Why is it so difficult for us to treat ourselves the way we treat others?

So how can I cultivate love for myself?

  • Breathe and be gentle with my expectations.
  • Remind myself that it is ok for my courage to be slow and soft.
  • Drink coffee alone or with company.
  • Sit in quiet appreciation of what I have in the moment and what I have been given in my life – insane pets, wonderful boys, loving partner, crazy amazing siblings, and kind-beyond-measure parents.

My chest feels heavy with sad-happiness today as I reflect on these things and how much they mean to me. I miss my mom dearly. And I am painfully grateful for the love I have and have been given in my life.

Not only today, but every day… How can we cultivate love for others and ourselves?

2 thoughts on “Cultivate Love (AKA Valentine’s Day)

  1. This is a beautiful, deeply moving, insightful reflection. Thank you so much on this Valentines’ Day, when I am struggling to call my wonderful 96 year mother who is stricken with Alzheimer’s and is losing her memory of herself. I try to tell her stories of the kind things she has done in her life. Love, Aunt Mary Lou

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