|Posted on 1 February, 2019 at 16:45|
“Kissing is a means of getting two people so close together that they can’t see anything wrong with each other.” – Ren Yasenek
February is heart month. When I think of the heart, I think of love. Yes, I know it is a muscle. Yes, I know it needs to keep beating and pumping blood for me to stay alive. But maybe it’s our love muscle. Maybe our ability to give and receive love determines the condition of our heart muscle. And if so, judging from the high rate of heart disease, it seems to me that we aren’t taking very good care of this most necessary of body parts. However, I don’t want to write about the body. The message I do want to convey is the importance of love – of others and of the self.
As a marriage commissioner I see love at its best. Young couples swooning over each other. Middle-aged couples excited about their wedding preparations. Older couples happy to have found a companion. Yet I once saw a billboard that read, “Great wedding. Now invite me to the marriage.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m in love with love. It is truly a splendiferous thing. I cry at romantic movies. I believe in marriage. But somewhere along the line, between the first date and the double-digit anniversary, we often go astray. Or maybe we don’t even get to the starting gate. Why? Too often, I think, it's because we search for love in all the wrong places. What are the wrong places? Anywhere outside of yourself is the wrong place.
We look for evidence that someone loves us without giving any consideration to the fact that, first and foremost, we need to love ourselves. I’m not saying we should be islands or that we should be totally independent. I don’t think being either of those is a recipe for a healthy, balanced life. What I am saying is that we are the only person capable of fulfilling all of our needs all of the time. We are the only person that always (hopefully!) has our best interests at heart. We are the only person who knows exactly where to scratch our every itch.
Now I don’t know about you, but I certainly wasn’t taught the value of loving myself in my first family. I wasn’t taught this in school. When I was growing up there were no self-help books to assist me. No, I learned the hard way. I learned to look after myself by first looking after everyone else but myself. Somewhere in that huge contrast of overly caring for others and totally ignoring myself, I found my way. Actually, I’m still finding it. I’m a work in progress, just like everyone else. But I have learned some things.
I’ve learned that it is better to say no sometimes and risk ticking others off than it is to do something with absolute resentment. I’ve learned that I feel better when I focus most of my attention on what brings me the most joy rather than focusing on what others do that I don’t like. I’ve learned that it is far better to honestly say what I want and need rather than attempt to control, manipulate or guilt others into meeting my needs. I’ve learned that somehow, when I speak my truth and then relax and allow, my good comes to me in ways I often find truly amazing. As I’ve learned these things, I have been able to open my heart to giving and receiving in far healthier ways.
So, I’d like to wish you a happy heart month, a happy Valentine’s Day and a happy Random Acts of Kindness Week. Just remember to take care of your heart. Romance yourself and be kind to yourself – every day. And always keep in mind these comical but wise words of Fred Allan: “The last time I saw him he was walking down Lover’s Lane, holding his own hand.”
Copyright © Julie Tkachuk
published in The St. Albert Gazette on February 15, 2006