Loving ourselves and loving our lives, this is RADICAL.
Because we are taught to take care of everyone else first and to keep striving for more. Many of us, myself included, internalized messages of not being good enough, falling into the trap of people pleasing and striving for the impossibility of perfection.
How can we truly love our lives and unconditionally accept our partners and our children when we do not fully love ourselves?
As Shefali Tsabary shared last year in her Soul Session interview with Oprah, “love without consciousness becomes need, dependency and control.” She goes on to say “ this entire life is designed for us to enter presence and surrender to the grace of this moment.”
This has been the greatest gift my children and clients have offered me. In my quest to be a better parent and counsellor and protect my peace and my sanity, I've become a more loving person towards myself. Out of necessity to combat vicarious trauma and the overwhelm of motherhood, I had to start taking care of myself first. I had to get quiet and enter into presence. I learned to actively seek out the goodness in my experiences, in others and in this world and in doing so I’m reaping the benefits of not only surrendering but appreciating the grace of each imperfect moment.
Self-care, dear souls is not selfish. It is even more than simply self-preserving. It is essential, I believe if we want a world where people lead with love instead of fear and accept and respect themselves and others. Nurturing our own spirits is paramount to protecting the spirits of our children and the collective spirit of our global community. When children feel secure enough because of unconditional love and acceptance they have the confidence and courage as they grow to empower others rather than use power over. As best selling author and researcher, Brene Brown says, our our children can only go as far as we've gone and I've heard the same thing said about healers and coaches when it comes to our clients. So you see, everyone around us benefits when we take the time to do loving things for ourselves.
Deepening into daily mind/body/spirit self-care practices for the past 4 years and doing the important work to heal old wounds is what inspired the creation of my Facebook page last year and this poem. It is part prayer/part affirmation and part a reflection of how I strive to live my life and invite you to live yours. More and more I am looking at myself and the people and experiences in my life through eyes of love; not needy or insecure love but genuine, unconditional love. This, I believe is the path to world peace.
I know how fear and shame and scarcity are lurking in the background. I know how easily our threat response can be triggered. We must be diligent to infuse ourselves with love so we don’t dilute our message, distract or silence ourselves or react with criticism or contempt whether its towards loved ones or those we encounter in our local or online communities.
As you read this poem, I invite you to substitute the specifics of your own life. Breathe into the feeling of love washing away any shame or insecurities or scarcity you may be holding onto. Let yourself feel lighter, freer , more abundant and open to the beautiful possibilities that exist from this place of peace! Stand, tall and proud in your enoughness and the beauty of this world. Then call on your courage to bring your authentic, loving self to whoever and whatever you encounter. I promise you the world will be better for it.
"LOOKING AT LOVE"
Love permeates through every cell of my body. Love radiates in every word I speak, every action I take and every life I touch.
I only have to look no further than the mirror to see love staring back at me, amidst the wrinkles and the imperfect body, I see love in the precious gift of life.
I only have to look no further than across the table to see the faces of the two people I love more than life itself. Staring back at me, through eyes of love I see so much potential and beauty. My heart overflows with love, even in the hard, painful, depleting moments. Because in the end I know when I let love lead, only goodness can come back to me.
I only have to look no further than across the bed to see the love of my life staring back at me. Despite the struggles and times of disconnection or disagreement, I know love always wins and indeed grows stronger as we grow alongside one another.
I only have to step outside to see the face of love in each natural work of art. My eyes see sparkles of the divine and I am swept up in waves of humility and adoration. The truth that the majesty and miracles that exist out there are also found within fills my heart with love for the Creator.
I only have to look into the weary faces of the clients I sit across from – brave, yet feeling broken, to feel a profound sense of love. Love for who they are now- survivors, strong and beautiful; what they’ve been through and how they’ve endured, wraps us up in a warm blanket. Love guides my words and shines a light on their strengths and the beauty, they cannot yet see.
I only have to look out into the community to see the faces of my neighbours, my fellow brothers and sisters to be reminded that we are all bound by love and despite the fear and the differences that divide us, we are all one.
I only have to look at the big and small miracles that grace our daily presence to know I am loved and I am love.
Nicole Schiener Manary, Originally posted the poem "Looking at Love" on Peace and Possibility, Facebook, Aug 9, 2017.
Nicole is passionate about inspiring and empowering others to lead authentic, joyful lives. She weaves 15 years clinical experience with special training in mindful self-compassion, transition to parenthood for couples and trauma therapies along with daily wisdom gleamed from parenting consciously two spirited people. She has contributed to two soon to be released books and is working on a series of mindfulness books for children.
Find more poetry, reflective questions and inspiration on Facebook Peace and Possibility
Follow her mindful mama journey on Instagram @nicoleschienermanary