From Scarcity to Abundance – Healing after loss

heather edwards grief loss wellness“How do you want to die?” These are the haunting words spoken by her doctor after being diagnosed with stage four cancer. Three months after her passing, I’ve turned toward and through my grief seeking peace.

Grief takes time. It can feel overwhelming and eternal. But it eventually changes. The cloud lifts. Clarity and lightness return.

Our love for those who have passed before us never dies and perhaps that’s what keeps us moving forward. They’re never really gone. They live on in memories, moments, and a felt sense of connection to them.

While sitting on the edge of loss and wholeness, I’m struck by the flood of ideas about cultivating a robust authentic life. It’s an integration of real science from multiple areas of psychology, neuroscience, trauma treatment, somatics, and mindfulness.

It takes effort to embody them sometimes. But that’s natural, too. From time to time, we are all challenged by real trauma and loss that interrupts our natural flow toward health and happiness. So today’s blog is a free association about the science behind wellbeing. Take a moment with each concept and consider ways to incorporate it into your everyday life.

Love

Abundance

Passion

Connection

Meaning

Movement

Wellness

Happiness

Authenticity

Showing up

Trust

Courage

Mind body

Engagement

Purpose

Flow

Yoga

Gratitude

Relationships

Silence

Meditation

Nature

Stillness

Reflection

Mindfulness

Notice

Observe

Let go

Drop in

Presence

Groundedness

Openness

Non-judgement

Hear

Sense

Experience

Positivity

Light

Choose

Imagine

Act as if

Family

Friends

Support

Animals

Sunsets

Music

Nutrition

Wholeheartedness

Boundaries

Yes

No

Truth

This moment

Vulnerability

Freedom

Breathe

Love


Since our bodies and minds naturally move toward wholeness, healing, and wellness a concerted effort can only accelerate the process. I’m not suggesting ignoring or numbing the painful feelings. That’s part of the hard work. It’s necessary to feel them. It makes the other side of those feelings more joyful when they’re reached. The contrast, the conflict, and the competition of emotions beckons us to examine them and welcome them.

heather edwards grief loss happinessIn the words of Rumi…

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.

meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

— Jellaludin Rumi,

translation by Coleman Barks

What is Love?

Love. Heather Edwards

Love is... Heather EdwardsThis Valentine’s Day I’m challenged to answer the question, “What is love?”. Recent personal events have stretched and profoundly changed me in beautiful and unforeseen ways. Because of this, love has a broader, richer, more complex meaning than before.

So when I’m asked the question, “What is love?”. Its definition extends well beyond a Valentine’s Day celebration of attraction, sexuality, partnership, and mating. While I appreciate that, it goes much deeper.

It’s an expression of give-and-take, mutual support, sometimes giving more than you knew you could, truly being there for someone else in their darkest hour, accepting what may be difficult to see, and accepting love in its many forms when it comes back to you.

Where do you see love? In heart shapes in the clouds, a kiss between lovers, or a mother preparing dinner for her family?

How do you experience love? Do you notice butterflies in your stomach, a warmth in your heart, or a calm awareness of your safety and wellbeing when in the presence of someone special?

How do you express love? With your words, actions, or touch?

Love is... Heather EdwardsLove is… listening, sharing, supporting, trusting, relaxing, letting go, longing, aching, forgiving, caregiving, accepting, being yourself, graciousness, excitement, warmth, kindness, truth, vulnerability, openness, strength, courage, heart centric actions, positive energy, highest vibrations, healing, grounding, helping…

With so many ways to experience and express love, what will you do today to enlighten someone about their special place in your heart? Don’t assume they already know your love or that you have plenty of time to show them. The only moment that truly exists is this one. Make it matter.

L.O.V.E. Luminous. Open. Vulnerable. Expressive.

Here’s a Love Letter from Ludwig von Beethoven:

Love is... Heather EdwardsMy angel, my all, my very self

We shall surely see each other soon; moreover, today I cannot share with you the thoughts I have had during these last few days touching my own life –

If our hearts were always close together, I would have none of these.

My heart is full of so many things to say to you – ah – there are moments when I feel that speech amounts to nothing at all –Cheer up – remain my true, my only treasure, my all as I am yours.

Ah, wherever I am, there you are also –

Much as you love me – I love you more –

Oh God – so near! so far!

Is not our love truly a heavenly structure, and also as firm as the vault of heaven?

my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, now and then joyfully, then sadly, waiting to learn whether or not fate will hear us –

I can live only wholly with you or not at all –

No one else can ever possess my heart – never – never –

Oh God, why must one be parted from one whom one so loves.

Be calm, only by a calm consideration of our existence can we achieve our purpose to live together –

Be calm – love me – today – yesterday – what tearful longings for you – you – you – my life – my all – farewell.

Oh continue to love me – never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved.

ever thine

ever mine

ever ours

Your faithful Ludwig

Share your heart. Share yourself. Share your love. Deepen your experience of each day.

Where is Your Relationship Headed? What’s your love ratio?

Heather Edwards Relationship Oasis

Let’s begin with a simple checklist for a healthy relationship. How many of these exist in your love life?

  • acceptance
  • empathy
  • respect
  • honesty
  • compassion
  • compatibility
  • trust
  • understanding
  • vulnerability
  • safety
  • consideration
  • compromise
  • communication
  • shared vision and values
  • passion
  • play

Yes, life gets in the way sometimes. Take time out to nurture your love. There are evidence based ways to build healthy, lasting relationships. Here are a few of them….

Dream together. Create personal rituals of connection. Honor each other. Speak AND listen. Ask open ended questions. Be curious. Remain calm during disagreement & conflict. Own your feelings.  Take responsibility when it’s yours. Take steps to deepen your friendship and intimacy. Validate each other.

Watch out for the pitfalls that ruin relationships. If any these sound familiar, it’s time to make adjustments.

  • blame
  • criticism
  • belittling
  • stonewalling
  • contempt
  • defensiveness
  • withholding
  • avoidance
  • violence

Don’t fret. It’s not too late. As long as both parties are committed to make changes that benefit themselves, each other, and the relationship, it can work out! When you share a dream of better days ahead together, you can strengthen, rebuild, and rediscover your love.

Don’t wait. Time is of the essence. If you’re curious about how sustainable your relationship is, here’s an easy tally of it’s health… According to John Gottman, healthy relationships have 5 positive interactions to every 1 negative one. He refers to it as the 5 to 1 Ratio. It’s scientifically predicted whether or not relationships last. What is your ratio?

If the scales are tipped on the negative side and you want to turn it around, practice positivity toward your partner. Refer to the first list in this blog and put those into action. If you need professional help, seek it out.

“Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears. ‘After all this time?’. ‘Always,’ said Snape.” -J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

 

photo of couple courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by Sarge Bertasius Photography

7 Paths to Peace Amidst Terror

Heather Edwards Psychotherapy, & Coaching Anger. Fear. Helplessness. Rage. Suspicion. Guilt. Despair. These are just a few of the negative emotions felt all over the world since the Paris and Beirut terror attacks last week.

Like a suction cup, you’re glued to the TV, Internet, and radio. You are scared. And you’re angry that you’re scared. Layering feelings upon feelings. It means they won.

You want this to go away. Yet you obsess about what’s next and what it means for your future. It marks the beginning of World War 3. It’s something you didn’t foresee in your lifetime.

Questions abound. Is it best to stay home? Should I avoid the city? Are the subways safe? Can I freely discuss my concerns? How do I know if the person next to me is a terrorist, or not?

Here in New York City, people are re-traumatized by the horrific events of last week. It’s all too similar to what we experienced on September 11th, 2001.

According to PTSDUnited.org, 70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives… “This equates to approximately 223.4 million people. Up to 20% of these people go on to develop PTSD. As of today, that equates to approximately 44.7 million people who were or are struggling with PTSD. An estimated 8% of Americans − 24.4 million people − have PTSD at any given time. That is equal to the total population of Texas.”.

Since you can’t change the events that have already happened, and you can’t control what other people do, how can you ease your experience of this chaos?  

Here are a few tips for creating peace, hope, and safety in your internal world and possibly your outer world, too…

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist & Coach1. Meditate:  Sit comfortably. Close your eyes. Take three belly breaths. Tune into the sensations of your in-breath and out-breath. Notice what you hear, feel, smell, taste, and see. Allow thoughts to pass through your mind without judging, evaluating, or solving anything. Simply observe your experience. Gently allow the present moment to pass through you and coexist with you in its entirety. This removes the chaos and struggle and strengthens the part of your brain responsible for kindness, compassion, peace, and calm.

2. Focus on the Good: Neurons that fire together wire together. Brain studies demonstrate that what you focus on grows stronger. If you want to feel calm, focus on calming thoughts. If you want to feel safe, focus on safety thoughts. If you want to feel happy, focus on happy thoughts. When you focus on fear, anger, and hatred you will strengthen those feelings. The choice is yours.

3. Write it Out/Draw it Out: Get those negative thoughts out of your head. Write them down. Scribble or draw them. Dump them onto paper. Journaling is cathartic and clarifying. It provides relief from distress and a safe place to channel negative emotions. Balance it with notes of gratitude and what you hope for the future. It can shift the energy in a positive direction.

4. Get Naked: Your physical body stores stress and trauma in the form of pain, inflammation, and disease. Release it. Have sex. Go to yoga. Take a walk. Play the drums. Get a massage. Climb a tree. Movement helps express and relieve tension. It keeps energy flowing in your body and supports a healthy nervous system. This clears the way for better coping to emerge.

5. Reach Out: Call a friend, Counselor, Pastor, relative, or other trusted person for support. Remember you are not alone. When it’s too difficult to manage your emotions and put healthy coping skills into play, take action! There’s no shame in being proactive about your mental health. Without it, everything else suffers.

6. Seek Inspiration: Whether in a fond memory, a quote, speech, poem, mantra, song, or dream find the nugget of positivity that resonates with you. There is safety, clarity, and hope in the words and images that move you. Use them to transcend today’s calamity and envision a better tomorrow.

Heather Edwards, Psychotherapy & Coaching - Terror7. Turn toward those negative emotions. Acknowledge them. Validate them. They are real. But then temper them, distract yourself from them, channel them, look for the middle ground. Life doesn’t only exist in hardships, extremes, and struggle. While chaos is happening around you there are beautiful things unfolding, too. Discover them. In modulating your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, you impact not only you, but also the greater good. Embrace courage, conviction, and belief in peace, love, and freedom.  

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see.”. Leading by example inspires others to do the same. You can institute positivity in this time of chaos.

 

Photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by stockimages, imagemajestic, and Jeroen van Oostrom. 

The Pain of Grief: and how to live through it

Heather Edwards psychotherapy and coaching

Heather Edwards Counseling and Coaching griefSuddenly someone you love is gone. You’re faced with an irreversible new reality – a life without a loved one you thought would always be there. You feel hopeless, distraught, and life has lost its meaning.

Grief can send you spiraling into despair. A death, break up, or an illness can dramatically change your life.

Each type of loss has a profound effect on wellbeing. But when armed with awareness of the natural processes of healing, it can be easier to navigate this unwanted life transition. There is a beginning, middle, and end. And it gets better.

Grief can make you stronger, kinder, more gracious, and loving when you come out on the other side of it. But it requires a passing through. It can feel like a sunami of emotional pain in the midst of it.

It helps us realize the fragility of this moment. It prompts us to pause, be present, and nurture who and what we love. The only moment in time we can influence is this one, and it’s fleeting – so cherish it.

While Grief and loss appear varied on the outside, they follow a similar pattern of emotional process inside.

According to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ research there are five stages of grief…

1. Denial is our body’s way of pacing the emotional pain. It’s a state of shock and numbness that allows us the space to cope with a loss that seems unbearable. While gradually questioning the loss, you begin the healing process.

2. Anger is empowering and gives us a way to direct our emotions. We are experienced and comfortable managing anger. It keeps us distracted from the pain of loss and replaces it with actionable ideas and gestures.

3. Bargaining is how we negotiate the “what if’s”. It’s where our guilt and plea’s collide. It’s how we wish we could have done something different to change the devastating outcome and have a happier ending.

4. Depression is a natural consequence of losing something or someone dear. Your life is forever changed. The profound sadness that results from the absence of that person while painful, is normal.

5. Acceptance is how you begin to move on with your new reality. It doesn’t mean that you’re OK with the loss. You might never be OK with it. As acceptance begins to emerge, you re-create your new life.  It means engaging with people and activities that are meaningful to you, living in the present, and building a future.Heather Edwards Psychotherapy and Coaching grief

You will feel better. Don’t rush this process. This is a general guideline that is different for everyone. You will move in and out of these five stages in a way that is not always linear. You might feel OK one day, and horrible the next. Gradually the painful emotions subside and become more tolerable.

Here are a few tips that can help:

Rub your heart while saying this aloud three times, “Even though I feel completely hopeless, I deeply and completely love myself.”. Energy psychologists claim this triggers neuro-lymphatic drainage which reduces toxins & stress, and improves energy and mood.

Use a positive mantra. It can be as simple as, “I deserve to feel good again.”, “My sadness means I am loving.”, “This pain is a temporary and normal part of healing.”, or “As sad as I feel right now, I know I will be OK. “. By balancing negative thoughts with neutral or positive ones, you strengthen the neural pathways responsible for happiness and well-being.

Get support. We are social beings. There is strength in numbers. Give yourself time to be alone, but balance it with engagement with people. Don’t be afraid to allow them to see your grief. Remember they love you and support you in your time of need. You would do the same for them.

Talk to yourself in the third person. Studies show that your brain processes information differently this way. It creates emotional distance and offers the same support you would offer a friend. It helps to keep you on task when you have children to care for or a job to do.

While it seems as if the pain will never end, it will. While it seems the darkness has overshadowed your life forever, it hasn’t – there will be brilliance again. While it seems you are alone and no one really understands your pain, they do. Trust, share, speak, seek and accept support. One day you will have a full, loving, dynamic life again!

Thanksgiving: A Grateful Heart

ThanksgivingThanksgiving is a time of family, tradition, love, abundance, and appreciation. It’s celebrated nationwide annually by all cultures and religions, and in other countries on different days in different ways.  Here in the USA, it’s the most heavily travelled day of the year marking it as one of the most popular national celebrations.  For many, it kicks off the holiday season beginning an exciting time of gathering, feasting, and memory making.

Our celebration of Thanksgiving began in 1621 at a Plymouth feast prompted by a good harvest.  President George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide Thanksgiving celebration on November 26,1789.  He declared it a day observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many favors received. It’s been an annual tradition in the United States since 1863.  In 1941, it became celebrated on every fourth Thursday in November, by federal legislation.

A Day of Gratitude:

On this day, acknowledge the many gifts you have received – especially the people in your life. Look around your home.  Who is there?  How do they, to the best of their ability accept, love, and support you?  We are social creatures.  We thrive when surrounded by our tribe, family, or people.  We depend on a sense of belonging,  community, and a common purpose.  In Abraham Maslow’s famous 1943 paper on the psychological theory of innate human needs, he identified belonging as a fundamental human need only second to physiological ones for food, water, and safety. Without belonging, loneliness, social anxiety, and clinical depression can develop. If you are lucky enough to have family and/or friends to celebrate with today, express gratitude to those pillars of your health and well-being.

Thanks for Abundance:

On the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims celebrated the abundant fall harvest.  Today, the celebration of abundance takes many forms including the food on your table, your health and that of loved ones, the roof over your head, the kindness of friends, and the giving and receiving of love.  It’s an opportunity to focus on the good.  The trials, tribulations, and disappointments of life still exist, but they’re not the focus of your attention today. Instead, devote your energy toward your good fortunes, no matter how small.  Without them, you would miss them.  Focus on what you DO have, not what you don’t.

An Open Heart:

When you open your heart, you open yourself to greater health and abundance.  This affects your physiology in ways that attract, create, and sustain more positive thoughts and behaviors.  The tons of research on gratitude and positivity by Martin Seligman and the School of Positive Psychology, Rick Hanson on the neuroplasticity of the brain, and Dan Seigel on interpersonal neurobiology (and more) demonstrate that we respond and create our experiences through the ways we perceive, relate to, and interpret the events around us. The events themselves do not create our experiences.  The way we think about them does. Catch your interpretations. Adjust them. Open up to the good.  Search out the silver lining. Trust, hope, and give thanks.

As you look around the dinner table today, embrace the good fortune and generosity of family, friends, and the many ways you’ve received nourishment. Today, choose to focus on the good. It surrounds you. Practice patience, love, and gratitude. Celebrate Thanksgiving and the plentiful harvest of your life!

“The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.” – William Blake.

Psychology Today – Got Relationship Blues?

146719-149047(Hint: Stop Criticizing)

Why endless criticism is doomed to failure.
Published on April 4, 2014 by Mark Banschick, M.D. in Psychology Today
 

Look at your relationship.

The problems seem obvious. But, what are the solutions?

Heather Edwards breaks down relationship problems into a digestible form,making it easier for you to do what’s needed to be happier.

The Good Relationship:

Sometimes the key to discovering what works best in a relationship is eliminating what we knowdoesn’t work. There are a number of scientifically proven actions that destroy relationships. John Gottman calls these the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” So let’s start there. 

Criticism:

The first is Criticism. Unless this is constructive with the intent of helping, it’s probably hurtful. In destructive criticism, couples will attack each other’s personality or character in an effort to prove who is right and who is wrong. It leaves both feeling angry and dissatisfied in the long and short run. These statements tend to start with generalizations, and include absolute words like “always” and “never.”

Contempt:

The second is Contempt. In this communication style, one partner will attack by name-calling, mockery, hostility, and negative or aggressive body language and tone of voice. Its intent is to demean and dis-empower the other person’s position and character. There are no happy endings when contempt enters the room.

Defensiveness:

The third is Defensiveness. When one partner feels like a victim, she may deny or make excuses for her behavior. Or, he may cross complain by lodging one of his own complaints in retaliation, or “Yes, but!” the original complaint in refusal of responsibility. It’s a very closed, blaming, andjudgmental way of approaching conflicts. And it doesn’t work.

Stonewalling:

The fourth is Stonewalling. When one partner stonewalls, he has shut down the conversationThe relationship store is closed for business. There is a stony silence, avoidance, and a withdrawal from communication. There may be a belief that the avoidance prevents a bigger blow up, but what it really conveys is icy distance, disconnection and smugness. It actually worsens the problem and sabotages thechance of resolution.

Learning From Happy Couples:

Happy couples have 5 positive interactions to every negative one. Gottman calls this the “Five to One Ratio.” Positive interactions are cultivated everyday in successful marriages. A few examples of easy ways to do this are giving a compliment, showing your appreciation for something big or small, reliving a fun memory, or doing something nice for the other person. The key to the most successful relationships is spending time being together and talking together. Share your ideas, experiences, and dreams with each other.

More sex = more joy. People are 55% more likely to report higher levels of happiness when they have sex two to three times per week. Having sex at least one time per week makes people 44% more likely to report happiness. The happiest couples have sex at least 2 to 3 times per month. The hormones released during sex create stronger bonds, warm fuzzy feelings, and a sense of relaxed satisfaction. What are you waiting for? Make sex a priority in your busy life.

Strong relationships have the Michelangelo Effect:

This means that one partner brings out the best in the other. It creates a sense of esteem and personal satisfaction in actualizing the ideal self. They also share new experiences, celebrate good news, and laugh together. So go for an evening walk, try a new restaurant, explore new places, relive a funny moment, and show enthusiasm for the other person’s accomplishments.

When in disagreement, their arguing style is open, considerate, and empathic. It includes active listening, humor, and affection. They even concede on certain points their partner makes. After all, one person can’t be right all the time! Plus, very few things in life occur “always” or “never”—except, of course, for sunsets and taxes.

Now you have an idea of what empowers relationships, and what destroys them. You may have recognized some of these positive and negative qualities in yours.

Remember that it’s never too late to make things better. If you and your partner are invested in enjoying a happy life together, then start employing some of the tips here—and try to change the negative oneswhen they surface.

_____________________

Psychology Today – The Fire of Love

143932-145410Do You Want A Better Love Life?  This article was published on February 12, 2014 in Psychology Today.  It was coauthored by  Mark Banschick, M.D.

We all want love.

We want to be seen, validated, treasured and wanted. And we want to give. We want the freshness of love to invigorate our lives and put the whole world into perspective.

Love is more than sex…more than adoration…more than warm memories. It is alive and vibrant, like a warm fire on a cold winter’s day. Keep it stoked and it stays alive. Let it lie fallow, and don’t expect it to last.

With winter upon us, we’ve teamed up with guest blogger Heather Edwards about kindling more love in your life. Good things need attention – it’s a lesson about happiness.

A Day of Love 

Consider our communal celebration of love: Valentine’s Day. For a moment we are aware again of  love notes, red roses, and heart shaped chocolates. Romance is awakened and we feel reconnected. 

Or, consider your anniversary… the moment when you both commited to each other. Or, a birthday, a time to openly value him or her. They all work, but what about the next day?

Isn’t love more than a two or three day holiday?

Imagine removing the pressure. What if instead, we mindfully loved more generously and openly in our everyday lives and relationships? Everyday. Stop wasting your time and energy searching for differences, problems, and sources of anxiety—they’re way too easy to find and obsess about! Shift your focus to what is positive, good, and loving.

Yes a birthday, an anniversary and even, Valentine’s Day, all count. But, the fire of love is found in smaller, less significant moments as well.

Love is a way of feeling. It’s a way of thinking. And, it’s a way of behaving.

Let’s take a moment to consider the ways we celebrate our relationships. Not for just for two or three special moments, but 365 days per year.

Acts of Kindness

Whether you’re the gift giving type or the favor offering kind, remember the ways you reached out to your partner when your relationship was new. What were you eager to do for that person, simply for the sake of making him/her feel good? How did you express tenderness, infatuation, and desire? Rekindle those moments. Take time to plan a meal, give a massage, or connect through sharing ideas, dreams, and plans.

Listen carefully to her. Let him know how special he is. Love can spiral up.

“I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame.” —W.B. Yeats

Seek Adventure

When your relationship was new, everything you did together was adventurous simply because YOU were new to each other. Some of those activities may have gotten lost in the shuffle of responsibility, boredom, or routine. Keep novelty alive! If you are not new to each other anymore, find activities that are unique. Get outside your comfort zone, together. After all, getting to know each other was exciting and challenging when there was uncertainty. The world is fresh for discovery. There are new places to visit, new nuances of sex, a special date to break the routine, a project you both share. Recreate that excitement.

“What we find in a soulmate is not something wild to tame but something wild to run with.”  —Robert Brault

Adults Can Play Too

Whatever your age, playfulness is inside of you. Watch lovers as they hold hands or prance through the snow. They are awakening an inner child. Allow yourself a careless laugh or a fun, awkward moment. Kids make life special all the time (and unfortunately, we often want to silence all the action), and grownups can as well. Love brings out playfulness.

Do something ridiculous together. Go on a walk for half a day without a goal in sight. Wear something kooky because its fun. Make sex an adenture. Or, perhaps, just sneak away from the kids for a romantic moment, like two jailbirds on the run. (Of course you love your children. But there’s time for grownups as well.)

Let go a little. There’s fire in there.

Give Space for Love

One of the lest understood dynamics in passionate love is a passionate commitment to letting your lover have some space when he or she needs it. You undoubtably know that it’s natural to take time, like its natural to bond. In fact, they are both active ingredients in a healthy relationship.

Ask any man or woman who feels crowded in by their partner.

It’s not pleasant and will not promote love.

A good fire, like a relationship, needs spaces to breathe. Otherwise, it’ll choke itself out.

Sometimes love is kindled in the rawness of great sex. Sometimes, it’s getting away together. And, sometimes it’s being apart. Sorry, there is no easy formula here. Just know that love is best when it comes freely.

Greater Intimacy

Some confuse intimacy with sex. Although they can be mutually exclusive, they are far better when shaken and stirred together in a loving cocktail of sensuality. Touch frequently. Express gratitude. Speak warm sentiments. Be vulnerable. Ask for what you need. Confide your fears and exert your power (in a loving way, not threatening). Don’t assume. Generously give space. And passionately enjoy closeness. Take risks. Share your innermost self.

“Warm me like sunlight and soothe me like rain. Burn me with passion and steal away the pain.” —Tyler Knott Gregson

If you’re lucky enough to be in a loving relationship, nurture it every day. Keep your feet on the ground, your head on your shoulders, and notice how your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife shares this journey. It can be a slow burn or a hot one, but love can be had.

Is there a special day of love? Yes, everyday.

 

Everyday is Valentine’s Day

Lake TahoeValentine’s Day is the day of love notes, red roses, and heart shaped chocolates. Romance is awakened and we feel reconnected.  For centuries, it’s celebrated as a day to declare and honor our one true love.

Some love it.  Some hate it.  Some just follow the relationship protocol.  There are those who yearn for a special day of gifts, romance, and kindness. There are those who loathe the “Hallmark Holiday”, deeming it contrived and corporate.  There are those who choose not to rock the “love boat” and dutifully follow tradition.  Whether you love it, hate it, or are apathetic to it, it happens every year – and this year its happening 3 days from now.  What’s one to do?

Imagine removing the pressure of finding the perfect gift or expression of love on that one day each year.  Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a single day of celebration fraught with gift giving, spending money, and the materialization of love.  What if instead, we mindfully loved more generously and openly in our everyday lives and relationships? Everyday.   Stop wasting your time and energy searching for differences, problems, and sources of anxiety – they’re way to easy to find and obsess about!  Shift your focus to what is positive, good, and loving.

Let’s take a moment to consider the ways we celebrate and acknowledge our love and relationships on this not-so-subtle reminder called Valentines Day.  There are pretty predictable ways we conform to social expectations, but as you continue reading, imagine incorporating these ideas into each day. Yes, 365 days per year.

Acts of Kindness –

Whether you’re the gift giving type or the favor offering kind, remember the ways you reached out to your partner when your relationship was new.  What were you eager to do for that person, simply for the sake of making him/her feel good?  How did you express tenderness, infatuation, and desire?  Take time to plan a meal, give a massage, or connect through sharing ideas, dreams, and plans.

“I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame.” – W.B. Yeats

Seek Adventure –

When your relationship was new, everything you did together was adventurous simply because YOU were new to each other.  Some of those activities may have gotten lost in the shuffle of responsibility, boredom,  or routine.  Keep novelty alive!  If you are not new to each other anymore, find activities that are unique.  Get outside your comfort zone, together.  After all, getting to know each other was exciting and challenging when there was uncertainty. Recreate that excitement.

“What we find in a soulmate is not something wild to tame but something wild to run with.”  – Robert Brault

Greater Intimacy –

Some confuse intimacy with sex.  Although they can be mutually exclusive, they are far better when shaken and stirred together in a loving cocktail of sensuality.  Touch frequently.  Express gratitude.  Speak warm sentiments.  Be vulnerable.  Ask for what you need.  Confide your fears and exert your power (in a loving way, not threatening).  Don’t assume.  Take risks.  Share your innermost self.

“Warm me like sunlight and soothe me like rain. Burn me with passion and steal away the pain.” – Tyler Knott Gregson

If you’re lucky enough to be in a loving relationship, nurture it everyday.  Keep your feet on the ground, your head on your shoulders, and notice the life partner sharing this journey with you.  When you keep that in mind, everyday can be Valentine’s Day!