Being Single~ Yearning, Prayer, Surrender and Fulfillment

Being Single~ Yearning, Prayer, Surrender and Fulfillment

I’m inspired to tell you a story from a recent bedtime conversation I had with my son, on the topic of being single, and the prayer for partnership. It’s a tender topic to personally speak and write about, but one that so many of us share in common. And so I humbly offer my voice to the collective conversation.

I’ve been contemplating my own single womanhood and single motherhood a lot lately, in a particularly focused way. It’s interesting to consider the stigma and widespread story around “being single”, as well as the real struggles, honest loneliness, and unmet yearning a single life can include.

I’ve discovered it can be profoundly skillful to use a chapter of “being single” (whether that’s for a month, or a stretch of many years, or a lifetime) as an invitation to truly discover where our genuine capacity for fulfillment and love are forever to be found, regardless of any “other.” Having experienced both now— longterm partnerships, as well as longterm chapters of being single— I’ve come to realize that both are challenging, both hold potential for great heartache and loneliness, and both provide incredible opportunities for spiritual deepening.

Currently single for years now, lately I’ve been noticing the tender, holy intersection— where my resolve for living in the peace and fulfillment of true self-love meets my vulnerably honest prayer for eventual partnership. What courage it takes to speak the multi-layered truth sometimes, right? To not fall into stigmatic traps of cultural identity, spiritual bypass, nor limiting false dichotomies; but rather to stand in the wholeness of essential fulfillment, while meeting the full evolving range of human emotion and desire.

I was already holding this sensitive, multi-layered topic of “being single” close to my heart one recent night when it came time to tuck my eight year old son Ezra into bed. He had just gotten brand new, glow-in-the-dark solar-system sheets, and when I walked into his room he excitedly turned off the light by his bed, and his sheets brilliantly lit up— small Moons and Jupiters and Saturns shining aglow in the dark. We oohed and ahhed together at the marvelous wonder of his starry bed. Then I lay my tired head down on his pillow and habitually scooted my arm and shoulder under him, pulling the covers up over us so we could cuddle close in the dark.

Our nighttime pillow talk is amongst the most precious and cherished times we share. Somehow with all the schedule pressure of the day released, in the sweet forgiving space of night, we can fully open. We can reveal our hearts to one another in a way that nourishes us deeply, while clearing the field and blessing us into sleep.

That particular night, as my son and I nestled in, finding our cozy snuggle, Ezra suddenly spoke out in a kind, gentle voice: “Do you know what I’ve been praying for you, Mom?” Surprised and curious, I said: “I didn’t even know you ‘prayed for me’ at all?” Ezra answered incredulously: “Of course I do. We always pray for the people we love, Mom.” Happily corrected, I replied: “That is very true! So what do you pray for your Mama, my love?” Ezra answered boldly: “I pray that you find your man soon. Your man that you love so much who can share our life with us.”

I felt a bit taken aback by this proclamation, partly because of his increasing psychic sensitivity, clearly naming the very topic I had been sitting with for days. But also because after the last three years of being mostly single, and “someone missing” no longer being a regular part of our family conversation, I was surprised he still held this prayer in such a way. I’d come to feel confident in my children’s perception of me as a woman who is whole and thriving, loving myself and our life just the way it is; not as a woman transparently waiting for partnership, as I had been for much of their younger years.

About three years ago, four years post divorce, I decided to consciously “call off the search” for a partner. It had been a lifelong fixation for me, consuming a tremendous amount of life energy. Finding “my true partner” had come to feel like it was somehow intertwined with my life purpose; held in my mind as a necessary component of my capacity to live a happy life. In this way the unfulfilled “search for my partner” had became the basis for my story of personal suffering; a continuous thread in my inner drama around what was missing and what was needed in order for my life to become whole, complete and truly fulfilled.

While over the years I had experienced many beautiful relationships with men, each one of them delivering unique gifts, lessons and powerful medicine, something had begun to feel like a hopelessly broken record for me in this relational arena. I could not help but notice that this aspect of my life seemed to be caught in a perpetual cycle of longing, projection and disappointment. Rather than delivering any kind of true fulfillment or joy, this path of intimate relating seemed to have become one of ongoing disillusionment for me. And while I continued to do a tremendous amount of work on myself around this pattern, I finally had to admit that something wasn’t shifting when it came to the quality of relationship I would attract.

Suddenly it became obvious that before I could potentially attract the sacred human partnership I still desired, there was a way I needed to come fully into right relationship with relationship itself. I needed to get more honest with myself about my simultaneous resistance and attachment to my own sovereignty. I needed to come to terms with my feminine vulnerability and human needs, as well as my wounds, armoring and disappointment around the masculine. I saw that at the heart of this story of relational suffering was an essential distrust around God and Life itself that was begging for deeper illumination and resolution.

It took courage and vigilance to truly lay down this story of longing for a relationship. Even more than being a cherished dream of my heart, it had become a stubborn habit of mind, composed of incessant thought and desire; an inner drama I had grown accustomed to attending.

It became clear I had to wholeheartedly face the death of “Romantic Relationship” as I had known it, embracing the real possibility I might never have another human lover for the rest of my life. I knew I had to disentangle my aliveness from this fixation, in a way that offered up no promises for any specific outcome. And so as I laid it to rest, and turned towards true relational sobriety for the first time in my adult life, I prayed for all my past patterns of thought and desire around men, sex and partnership to truly die— to allow only what was true to remain.

I prayed to discover the fortitude to fully embrace myself, to choose myself, in the way I had wanted for so long to be chosen by another.

What freedom! After meeting initial waves of terror and grief, I actually felt enormous relief to put this huge, energy-consuming story down. I luxuriated in the simple, quiet presence that opened in the space this fixation had occupied for so long. I discovered new rituals of self-embrace and simple enjoyment of life with my children! What a gift to truly take the emphasis off what was lacking, missing, and wanted in relation to “other,” along with all my disappointment and anger about that, and instead open even more fully to what I am alive for. To really presence the gifts I’m here to bring through, as well as the abundance of love and connection already gracing my life beyond measure.

This three year stretch has been one of the most beautifully catalytic, prosperous and creative chapters of my life. Among other things, I’ve been provided with fresh opportunities to connect, collaborate and co-create with incredible male friends and colleagues, in ways that have been surprisingly healing and rewarding for me to partake in. It has felt like a potent time of learning and re-wiring; a time of unwinding old neural patterns in relation to both my inner and outer masculine and feminine.

Most notably, I’ve learned to relax into my own self-love, deepening in an exquisite depth and warmth of my own presence. I’ve been surprisingly nourished by the quiet, simplicity and strength of my own sovereignty. I have turned to face this longtime unmet yearning in my heart, and discovered at it’s core the very fulfillment I have searched for! The fulfillment of true self-love is always available, right here, in any moment we might choose to look, drop in, and receive this powerful truth. This is the treasure of treasures.

But lately I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that the parts of myself that have actually come to prefer the relative simplicity of being single have begun to overshadow the deeper, more vulnerable parts of myself that would still truly love to share my sweet human life with an amazing partner. These parts of myself sense that I still have much to learn and much to offer inside a committed container of sacred intimacy. I’ve begun to feel a quiet curiosity about this as I listen to a whisper from someplace deep within— saying: don’t forget Sweet Love, that sharing yourself intimately with an awake partner can also be a wondrous, nourishing, delicious and delightful part of life; a powerful way to play and pray, grow and receive! Stay open, trust, and surrender!

And so lying in bed with my beloved son that night, having been contemplating this topic for days, I felt deeply moved by the synchronicity of Ezra’s sharing of his prayer. I asked him slowly and carefully: “You pray for me to find a man, because you think that would be better for us than our life already is?”

He nodded vehemently in my arms. He explained: “Better for you, so you can have help with everything you do for us. You do everything by yourself Mom you clean, you make us food, you work, you take care of us. It would be better if you had a man to help you and love you. And better for me, so I can have a man who lives with us and plays with me and loves me.” His voice changed its tone then, as he dropped into his own heart’s yearning, so nakedly tender. He said dreamily: “I hope he knows a lot. A lot about surfing maybe. Or maybe he’ll be a snowboarder like me. Or maybe he’ll know all about the world? Or maybe he’ll like to fish and hunt and be wild in nature and teach me all about that…? I bet he’ll love to wrestle me…”

Deeply moved by his exposure of raw longing, I pulled my precious boy closer, affirming quietly: “You’d really love to have another man in your life, someone who is part of our family, who loves us and lives in our home with us? Someone who loves some of the same things you do?” Quietly, vehemently, he answered: Yes.”

Then with this confession suddenly his body became tight and rigid in my arms, and I could tell he was struggling with something. He said quickly: “But not to EVER take my Papa’s place.” Understanding the sensitivity of this inner conflict for him, I assured him at once: “Of course. Nobody could EVER take your Papa’s place. He is your wonderful, special Papa. Nothing could ever change that.”

He relaxed his body again, sighing deeply, and said: “Right.”

Then he propped himself up on his elbow and looked into my face in the dark. I knew by the presence he was emanating that he was about to be the guru. He said carefully: “It’s ok for us to want that Mama, you know. It’s ok if you’re our good, good Mom who loves us, and you still want a man, too. Ok?”

I felt like crying, hearing this so simply and kindly laid out for me by my young son. I gulped a few times, in awe of the purity with which he annihilated these false, hidden dichotomies of my heart, and then I said, humbly: “Yes, my love. Thank you. Yes. We can be happy just the way we are, with our beautiful family just the way it is, while also being open to more.” He nodded at me in the dark. Then, looking at me with a kind of stern intensity, he coached: “It’s important to pray for it if you want it Mom.”

I was quiet, contemplating this, and then responded: “I used to pray for partnership a lot, Ezra. Do you remember? But I think a few years ago my prayers for that got kind of tired in my heart? And they just needed a long rest. I needed to fall in love with our life and our family just the way it is, without needing anything to be different, without needing a man or anything else.” Ezra kept looking at me intently, breathing, considering my words. I continued: But your prayers feel beautiful and powerful! I love hearing your prayers for a special man to come into our lives. And I do pray for that too, my Love. If it’s what’s meant to be. I pray that our life just gets more and more beautiful and full of love, in all sorts of incredible ways.”

Seemingly satisfied, he lay back down into my shoulder nook, pulling the covers up over both of us, snuggling in closer. We lay quietly in the dark then, just breathing together. I didn’t even offer to sing like I often do. The quiet between us was the song. These sweet life prayers for ever-expanding love, inclusive love, so tenderly named, were just the song my heart needed to hear.

As I lay there, listening to my sweet boy breathe in the dark, I considered— true fulfillment in self-love and wholehearted yearning need not be mutually exclusive forces. To the contrary— how exquisite to yearn from the heart of fulfillment! How glorious to pray for more true ways in which to share and receive this love; to include this fleeting human flesh, sacred skin and bones of soul, heart of God’s earthly home. How beautiful to open wider to even more love, not from a place of lack, but rather from a ground of self-loving wholeness.

Soon the weight of Ezra’s damp, curly head felt even heavier on my shoulder, and his sleeping breaths lengthened. I kissed his warm, yummy face and pulled myself out from under him, lifting myself carefully from his bed and tiptoeing across the floor to the door.

When I got there, I turned back around and glanced at his long, growing boy body, limbs already overflowing off the sides of his single bed. From the deepest place of motherly devotion I said to Spirit: “Please. Please hear my sweet boy’s prayers. For another amazing man who can meet him, nourish him, help raise him into the incredible man he’s here to be.” And then from the quietest, softest place of my open, brave, queen-woman-heart, I added: And please; please hear my prayers, too.”

Then I shut the door to Ezra’s bedroom gently, with my heart aglow, already fulfilled, so sweetly yearning, walking out into the open treasure of my waiting life.

Nurturing Self-Love as Healthy Self-Image~ A Clothes-Shopping Story

Nurturing Self-Love as Healthy Self-Image~ A Clothes-Shopping Story


Due to the vulnerable nature of this writing, this piece is published with explicit permission and blessings from my brave and generous daughter Arayla, who after reading it shared her hope that our story might serve in some small way~ especially other mothers and daughters, in navigating the steep challenge of healthy self- image and radical self-love in our culture.
One of my most treasured delights as the mother of my beloved daughter Arayla, (newly 12 years old,) is the incredibly sweet experience of going clothes-shopping together. It’s true~ I find these times we share to be among our most intimate, fun, mutually cherished opportunities, during which I’m granted the honor and power to actively nurture her tender, blossoming self-image in a concentrated way. There’s a story I want to share with you from one of these shopping adventures. But first~ a necessary preamble.
As a woman who grew up in this image-fixated culture, and who was born into a long line of particularly image-fixated women, wherein physical beauty and especially the necessity of thinness was seen to be of upmost importance in life, I suffered quite intensely in my teens and early 20’s with body dysmorphia and eating disorders.
When I became pregnant with my first child at 30, upon discovering that I was indeed carrying my long-awaited daughter into the world, I was thrilled beyond belief. But I was also overcome with fear, as I imagined what painful tendencies this beloved female child might inherit from me alongside biological genetics. What if my daughter received the self-destructive, self-rejecting body imprints I myself had been passed in this lineage and culture of thin-obsessed women? 
My maternal protection for my unborn daughter motivated me to do my best to clean up whatever subtle presence of body-rejection still lived inside me. As a well-trained energetic healer, I set to work shielding my unborn daughter from any unresolved, body-loathing tendencies she might somehow absorb, through psychic osmosis, in my womb. “It ends with me…” I whispered with firm resolve towards the listening ears of this toxic mis-perception within me, determined to fully resolve this issue, once and for all. I stretched to embrace my rapidly expanding pregnant body with joy and pride, replacing old habits of fat-phobia and body-rejection with new mantras of loving slef-embrace.   
After she was born, I watched my daughter closely as she grew from baby to toddler and into her little girl years. I reveled in the innate freedom and innocent joy she obviously experienced inside her own body. Self-embrace and love for her own body was clearly an inherent given; a natural by-product for her of having a body. I was so delighted and inspired to experience this innocent truth vicariously through being her mother.

Yet I also noticed the insistent emphasis and value our world placed on the physical appearance of my daughter. When well-meaning strangers would exclaim “What a pretty girl you are!” or “Wow~ look at those gorgeous eyes!” I was right there in my new-mother vigilance, to quickly translate the image-praise into affirmation of her innate soul-worth. I would whisper into my daughter’s ear: “They can see your beautiful heart, Arayla!….Your gorgeous spirit is shining through your eyes!” Or I would say outloud: “Yes~ she IS so beautiful. AND so very smart!”
Naively, I imagined that if I did my best to de-emphasize image, (which granted, was difficult for the inherently image-conscious woman I had become) while modeling self-love and body-acceptance, frequently voicing appreciation for my own aging woman body, my sweet girl would remain psychically unscathed in her own precious body-perception.
As she grew older, began attending school, seeing movies, was exposed more and more to the world beyond the sheltered cocoon of our family life, I still hoped that her self-perception would remain anchored in a foundation of essential self-embrace. I continuously imagined that in being her mother, the woman she still looked up to most, I could protect her self-perception from being twisted and trampled by the external world; a world that insists on valuing a woman’s appearance above all else, while holding feminine beauty to a very narrow set of unrealistic and rarely sustainable standards. If I taught her to rejoice in herself, her spirit, her body, her personhood, just the way she was, she’d be more than fine, right??
So you can imagine my devastated horror, when at the tender age of 10, I heard my perceptive, wise, radiant daughter begin to share deeply troubling sentiments such as: “I’m so FAT. I hate my butt! It’s too BIG. And I hate my belly too. It’s so UGLY! My face is so round. I just want to be skinny, Mom! I HATE the way I look!!” This painful confession coming with tearful wails from my sweet girl, who also happened to be naturally tall and strong and slender! This coming from my beloved child who just one year prior had been fighting for her life in the ICU, whose precious body was thankfully, above all else, healthy and alive!
Well, I was shocked and heartbroken to hear these body-rejecting words come out of Arayla’s mouth. And I’m not proud to admit that my initial response to this deeply tender, vulnerable exposure from her wasn’t skillful in the least, but rather triggered in fear and anger. Of course I wasn’t angry at her. But I was enraged and horrified to hear her express these feelings.

As crazy as it might sound, I somehow took these feelings of hers personally, as though they were a direct assault to my own idealized image of successful mothering. For her to be voicing the very thought-forms I had so hoped to shield her from was painful proof that I had failed her! But aside from this somewhat narcissistic reaction, hearing this from her also truly scared me. I had personally watched too many young girls turn to anorexia, bulimia or compulsive exercising, as a way of battling their blossoming curves, vehemently rejecting the promise of an uncontrollably wild and messy womanhood brewing under the surface of their changing skin.
And I felt renewed anger at our culture! What is this skinny-idealization indoctrination anyway? This that blatantly insists in a myriad of ways that beauty for women is to stay small, lithe and girl-like; that anything too big, too strong or too loud; too round, too radiant or wildly feminine; too MUCH in any way~ must be rejected, starved, toned, tidied, hidden, stifled, diminished, apologized for?! How could this not make the pre-teen years the ideal  environment for fostering eating disorders and self-negation? As the little-girl body and personality disappears and is rapidly replaced with something altogether unfamiliar~ bigger, messier, moodier and uncontrollable~ something our culture tells us we would never want to be, our girls are filled with a deep, inner self-conflict.
I felt so personally triggered by Arayla’s painful confession, and horribly exposed in my reactivity, that with my face flushed and heart pounding, I quickly excused myself from her bedroom before I said something I wouldn’t be able to take back. I ran to my own bedroom and closed the door, curling up in a ball on my bed and weeping deeply. I writhed in the pain of reaction, feeling all the sadness and anger and terror of not being able to protect my beloved child from this   deeply familiar, insidious flavor of first world suffering.
After giving myself ample space to grieve and feel my personal disappointment and sense of defeat about this, I realized that while I had perhaps failed to immunize my sweet girl against self-hating thoughts and toxic cultural conditioning, I was also uniquely suited to support her in navigating this infection. Perhaps what had taken me many painstaking years to unwind and reveal to myself, I could support her in discovering with much greater ease? After all, more than most people, I truly understood the mechanism of this unique form of suffering~ the way it worked, the emotional and mental paths it traveled, the depth of damage it could wreak~ as well as the blessed remedy and potential cure.
I also realized, not for the first time~ that as much as we might wish to protect our young from suffering, our children come to this world with their own fierce lessons to learn; their own life hurdles, challenges, tendencies and wounds to resolve. And as their parents and stewards we cannot~ nor should we even try~ to protect them from their own learning, no matter how deeply painful it is in moments to witness their pain.
Arayla’s exposure of these self-rejecting thoughts initiated an essential transition in the nurturing quality of our mother-child relationship that has continued to evolve over the past two years. I’ll tell you, it has not been easy. To the contrary, it’s been by far one of the steepest learning curves I’ve embraced in all my years of motherhood.
Whenever these difficult thoughts and feelings have arisen for her and she’s been guided to share them with me, I’ve had to learn to simply hold space for her expression, letting her unravel and release what is clearly too painful to hold all on her own. My instinctual desire as a mom to “make it better” has had to be replaced with a spacious trust in the process. Rather than trying to take these hard feelings away from her, or fix them, or replace them with better feelings that aren’t so triggering for ME to witness, I have had to learn to just be quiet and present with her as these feelings move through. And no matter how hard it might be for me to witness my daughter’s angst, I’ve discovered how rewarding it is for both of us when I can find a courageous willingness to simply be with her in all of it.
Arayla has been teaching me so generously, the way she always has, how to mother her through these rapid changes in her being. Whenever I have slipped, by subtly trying to fix, negate, deny or in some other way take her experience away from her, she has let me know immediately by getting even more inflamed, insistent and upset in her expression. And so I’ve had to learn that what she needs most of all from me in this passage, is just to hold space, witnessing her with emptiness and quiet strength, empathy and deep love; holding vigil for her storm to pass. Like a mean fever, it seems to need the chance to burn all the way through.
Usually, after the storm passes, once she is emptied of all her difficult feelings, and deeply met in her pain, Arayla is tenderly open to a new perspective. As the trust and intimacy between us deepens and grows, I am granted new opportunities to invite, reflect and nurture self-love within her.
She lets me hold her and kiss her damp, tear-streaked face, while I say things like: “Oh how I wish you could see yourself through my eyes… because if you could? It would truly take your breath away.” Or quietly empathize, “We all have moments where we wish something was different about us. We all have parts of our bodies we wished looked different. It’s such a painful feeling, isn’t it, to not love some part of ourselves?”
Most powerful is when she lets me cuddle up next to her with my hand on her heart~ and speak to the unbelievable beauty and brilliance of her BEING. Even deeper than the exquisite beauty of her body and her image, this true gorgeousness of who SHE IS. And still other moments, where we have pondered together the temporary nature of the flesh~ how much our bodies change throughout our lives, with a mysterious expiration date somewhere ahead.

Lying close together, cuddling in her bed in the timeless dark of bedtime space, we look at how the primary purpose of our bodies is truly not to look a certain way in our clothes, but rather to house our bright spirits! We talk about the deepest reason for incarnating: to receive a vehicle through which we can learn and live, shine our love and share our gifts with the world; which is why it’s such an important honor~ to care for these precious, temporary bodies, with true love and respect.

And so yes~ back to my original inspiration for writing this piece: Our cherished mother-daughter shopping dates, and a sweet story to share in this vein.
At the start of Arayla’s 6th grade school year, she had a rapid growth-spurt, and suddenly none of her jeans fit her. Well~ as everyone who wears jeans know, the feeling of jeans suddenly being too tight around the middle, or hard to pull up over our hips, is really not a great sensation. She came out of her bedroom one day before school, clearly miserable, tears flowing down her sweet face, unable to comfortably button her jeans, insinuating this must be due to some newly developed flaw of her body, and I said: “Oops! Did we wait too long to get new jeans for your beautiful growing body?”
A couple days later, as we approached the Mall entrance, Arayla sidled up close next to me, grabbing my hand, and said: “Mom? I was wondering if maybe we could try something new this time shopping? If it would be ok?” Curious, I said: “Sure Babe~ Like what?” Carefully choosing her words, she said: “Well I was just thinking maybe instead of coming into the dressing room WITH me, maybe you could wait outside the room? And I could try things on by myself, and then come out to show you?”
Inside myself I made careful note to myself: She’s naming a boundary~ celebrate this!  Outloud I simply said to her: “Of course my Love~ that sounds like a great idea.” She squeezed my hand joyously, jumping up and down a little with excitement, saying: “Really?!” And then she added, tenderly: “I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings~ did I Mom?” I pulled her close to my side as we walked, kissing the top of her head, exclaiming: “Are you kidding me? I love it when you name your boundaries. You’re growing up~ that makes perfect sense you would want some space in the dressing room.” Arayla beamed up at me: “Thank you, thank you!” This seemingly small boundary had clearly taken some courage for her to ask for, and felt somehow significant for me to honor.
So after we selected clothes for her to try on, I dutifully sat outside the dressing room door, cozied up next to the mirror. I must admit~ it was a change! Gone were the days of taking the clothes off the hangers to hand to her, helping her pull shirts on over her head, my hands and eyes all up in her business. I realized as I relaxed on the floor outside the dressing room that I rather enjoyed the liberation of this new arrangement!
And when Arayla would come out modeling some clothes, I would ooze appreciation, “Wow! Look at you!” but then ask her questions like: “How does that feel on your body?” Hoping to encourage an inside-out perception, I wanted her to feel good in her clothes, rather than basing her choices solely on how things look.
When she would ask me questions like: “Do these make my butt look too big?” I would get the chance to say: “I think your butt looks totally gorgeous in those jeans. But how do you feel? Can you move comfortably? How do you feel when you sit down? Can you still breathe deeply and freely?”  She would check it out, crouching down in a squat, bending over, feeling how the clothes moved with her. And more and more often she would smile as she twirled around, pleased with how she felt as well as what she saw in the mirror, and say: “I feel really beautiful in these Mom. Can we get them?” 
And so~ this is why I find shopping with my pre-teen daughter one of the most wonderful ways to nurture her self-appreciation and blossoming body-love.

Maybe it was foolish of me to think I could protect my children (both my daughter and my son) from the onslaught of distinct, gender-specific expectations they are given from the culture we live in, from media, from the mad soup of collective consciousness. I mean~ talk about osmosis~ perhaps it really is unavoidable at some level?
But the opportunity we have to meet our children, right inside the dangerous impact of all these damaging messages and imprints, and feel that pain with them, simply bearing witness, is immeasurable indeed. To then earn our children’s trust enough to skillfully suggest a different possibility, infused with the conviction of our own self-love, laced with the invitation to adore ourselves just the way we are, is one revolutionary way we can turn the delusional poison of our collective into healing medicine for our collective.

Teaching our children self-love in all its forms is one of the most powerful ways we can guide them. And yet one of the most honest, and commonly overlooked ways to do this, is to first be willing to hang out with them in the painful reality of self-judgment, self-rejection and self-hatred. Think about it~ what better way to deepen in our own self-love, but to compassionately shine the light on the very ways we don’t fully love ourselves? The ways we habitually reject ourselves, judge ourselves~ seeing ourselves, our bodies, and our lives through shaming, critical eyes? 

From a ground of spacious inclusion for these ways we habitually reject ourselves, we can reflect the deeper truth of  essential self-love: a love for no reason other than the deepest truth of who we are. We can also invite self-love as an aspect of self-awareness in how we show up in the world; how we choose to relate with others; opportunities for kindness and empathy, courage, honesty, and perseverance.

We can teach our children about the fiercely inclusive and unconditional nature of self-love~ how our inevitable life experiences of mistake, failure and challenge provide us with endless opportunities for self-embrace, right alongside our successes and accomplishments. And we can inspire self-love in our children by carefully nurturing self-image; sharing our birthright to feel really good inside our own skin; to truly love our own bodies, these temporary vessels~ messy and fleeting and holy, just as they are.

Encouraging self-love in its many forms is one of the most profound powers we are given as human beings; as women and men, as parents and teachers, grandparents, aunties and uncles, stewards and mentors in this world.
Grace willing, self-loving children grow into healthy, self-loving, self-respecting adults. And from true self-love, this which is informed by the shadowy underbelly of self-doubt and self-denial, comes the ability to live powerfully loving, creatively inspired and generous lives. 
May we all be committed to nurturing self-love~ within ourselves, our world, and the lives of our dear ones we are blessed to so intimately touch.