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The Art of Loving

A few evenings ago, my book group was discussing Amanda Palmer’s book “The Art of Asking”. One woman asked on a few occasions: “But what was she giving?!” I boldly rattled off a list of house parties, intimate talks and tweets, honesty, pop-up gigs, hours of CD signings…there was so much more I could list. It was what I didn’t say that bothered me. The most important “thing” that Amanda Palmer gave to her music fans was Love.

This omission highlights for me once again, my fear of mentioning the L word in front of a group of people. Love is generally touted as a romantic feeling, instead of the most salient sentiment we can offer every human being we meet. Even better, I believe that we can transport Love to anyone in this world whether we know them or not. Fill your body with love and send it out to everyone, a task as easy as hitting the send button after a text. Try expressing that thought to a book group. Amanda Palmer knows though. It is what she does.

When I teach Bloom with Bliss and Meditation, I shy away from saying “self Love”, replacing the phrase with a more accessible “self care” substitute. I really want to say “self Love” along with my belief that if everyone focused on Loving themselves more, the world would be a more peaceful place. I know, I sound like a free loving hippie flower child. I’ll take it though!

I could sense another woman sitting across from me feeling the same twitch of discomfort over this idea that we have to physically give as much as we take. She too was shifting in her seat and trying to find the words to express opposition. I am all aboard on the giving train, yet have trouble taking, to the extreme of feeling guilty and not worthy. What am I afraid of? Judgement? Women saying “she’s selfish”, or worse “she’s so narcissistic!”? Who cares. Why don’t I simply remind myself that they don’t see what I see. Love is the greatest gift. We may not be able to see it tangibly like a pristinely wrapped present, but we know it in our hearts when another human Sees uniquely who we are, and Loves us for exactly that.

My whole BRCA journey was entwined in brambles of fear, the antithesis of Love. I worried about what my body would look like. Will I Love it? Could anyone else Love it, especially if something happened to my hubby?

I feared being a burden by asking for help. My friend insisted on setting up a meal train for my recovery. No. It would be my second one in 6 months. Too much asking. I can’t be that needy person that people find annoying. A Taker. My friend also said that by rejecting offers, I was denying people their desire to help me. Hmm, not accepting help could hurt people’s feelings? I had never thought of it that way.

Not asking + Not taking=Not Loving.

She also gave me permission to take whatever is offered and simply say “thank you”.

Gratitude. My pathway back to Love. Feeling grateful causes me to feel Loved. So much in my life falls under the great big rainbow-colored umbrella of gratitude; a shelter of comfort during the toughest of times. I accepted the meal train, reciprocated with Loving “Thank you”s and vowed to pay generosity forward to help others.

My fears melted into Loving self acceptance with the barrage of help. I even learned to ask for what I needed with little guilt. For instance, I asked another mom to transport my youngest to and from dance class, along with her own daughter, for a month. I simply offered to return the favor when I became able. An infinite loop of giving and receiving keeps us steeped in Loving gratitude. Friends were planning to clean my house, because, physically, I couldn’t. In the end, they hired a house cleaner for a few appointments, an act that transformed me from discomfort to a thankful heart.

Amanda Palmer’s book, in fact, stood as a lengthy thank you letter…thank you, Amanda, for enduring so much unnecessary criticism, in order to open the doors for the rest of us to learn the art of asking. The art of Loving.

Love is such a deep gratitude. When you are truly in love with life, every breath you take is gratitude. ~Bryant McGill

What kind of world will we live in when we celebrate the cycle of asking, receiving, thanking, and giving?