Is Unrequited Love Really Love?

Most of us have felt it. That horrible, gut-wrenching feeling, where we love someone who doesn’t love us back. Some of us have even been in full blown relationships where unrequited love has reared its head. What I’m wondering is: Is this ridiculously maddening kind of unrequited love actually love?

There’s a lot of debate on this subject (google it), but here’s my hunch: it depends. Whether your unrequited love is actually love depends on how well you  know the person you’re deeply in love with- not just how long you have known them for or how much you’ve heard about them, but how much you truly know about who they really are.

When unrequited love occurs in situations where you only know a person on the surface or haven’t known the person for very long, it’s usually not love, but lust or attraction.

A counter thought to this that is more of a paradox: if you feel deep love for someone who does not love you back but you feel joyful simply loving them without receiving their love in return, this is true unconditional love. In this case, the type of love where you feel pain from not having love in return is actually not love, but attachment. Therefore a type of love needing no love in return wouldn’t truly ever be unrequited love because it wouldn’t need to ever be requited. In fact, the object of your love wouldn’t even need to know that you love them for you to reap the benefits of this love. You could simply let the love blossom within yourself and enjoy all its benefits on your own.

 

 

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Lessons From a Fever in Your Thirties

I was traveling for work for the last 25 days, and for most of that time I was well- physically at least. Mentally, I was exhausted at times, from both the amount of travel and the sheer magnitude of people and bustle and noise constantly surrounding me at most shows.

But the mental and the physical are intertwined, and during the last week of my travel, I developed a fever while working in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s funny how illnesses sometimes sneak up on you, and my weakening muscles deceived me into thinking that I had always felt so unsteady. I tried to furtively stretch while still on the work floor, but every tendon in my body ached, and it felt more agonizing by the minute to simply stand up, never mind give infinite presentations and answer the slew of questions coming at me. Plus, my stomach was wrestling with my mind as well- telling me it was utterly starving one minute and then agonizingly full the next- right after I’d eaten only 3 bites of something.

My coworkers said I had The Cleve- a mythological disease known to strike first-timers to the Cleveland area we were in: the airport area of despair. You see, almost everyone who’d worked this particular show fell deathly ill at some point at least one of the years they’d worked it. Why? Who knows. The lighting is yellow and dim- sort of despairing. The convention center used to be a military facility, if that adds anything. I googled whether there was something up with the water supply in the area but my search returned nothing. No offense to any of you who may be from/live in Cleveland. The downtown area seemed awesome, but alas we weren’t ever near there.

Somehow I made it to the end of the work day that day, and with the help of lots of zinc and rest that night was able to make it back to work the next day (sick days are unheard of in my field during a show). Even though my muscles ached less and my stomach was slowly starting to unclench, I ended up taking it extra easy on myself for the remainder of the show…and even into this week. I probably should always be taking care of myself so thoroughly, if not more so.

This week -and last- I put myself to bed earlier and sleep in when I can. I eat and chew extra slowly in case my stomach turns on me. I lie in bed and bask in the sheer bliss of a few moments of extra meditation. Sometimes I’m not even meditating- just staring at the ceiling, feeling smooth sheets underneath me. I drink less- well, I drank less last week anyway. We had a Cleveland bowling onesie costume party one night, and somehow I got through that without touching a sip of alcohol. I allowed myself to go very slow as I packed for the next trip. I ran outside extra carefully this week. I spent a few lovely  moments staring out of the airplane window or watching a movie as opposed to trying to accomplish tasks. I let myself breathe. I give myself room.

And as I do, I feel healthier, but I also feel more loved. I’m taking care of myself as if I love myself and as if I’m treasured. And as I do that, all of those things are true to me.

But you don’t need to be sick to treat yourself with love.

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Happy Mothers Day!

First off, I want to say Happy Mothers Day to my amazing, beautiful mother! I love you so much!

Second of all, I want to acknowledge and give a shout out to all the mothers out there who are working hard to raise healthy, happy children. I know it’s a lot of work and can be more than a full time job.

In my thirties, I see more of my friends than ever becoming mothers. My Facebook page is in baby boom mode- it’s as if suddenly at least half of everyone I know is pregnant or raising a baby right now. Luckily, I’ve felt my tolerance towards and even love of baby photos on Facebook increase ten-fold from when I was in my twenties, so it’s good timing.

I’m just coming from visiting a friend of mine in North Carolina, where I was staying with her and her two and a half year old. I knew her way before she got pregnant and followed her journey through that and have watched her baby grow into an adorable, amazing toddler. I know how much her life has changed as a result of having a child. So many things have changed from the simple…
-We have to make sure restaurants are kid friendly if we take her child with us (booster seats, other parents who understand, easy to eat food.)
-Pushing a stroller can be an uphill battle (literally).
-Car seats take up lots of space
– Nap time in the house is quiet time for all of us (or else)
-Early bed times
-Early wake up times
-Way less alcohol

And then the complex:
-I asked her if she was going to visit New York this summer and it just made no sense and was to hard to visit with a two year old- even though she loves New York and used to always visit.
-She wants a house with a back yard and lots of space for her child- city living doesn’t work for her anymore.
-Her entire daytime routine is extremely structured in order to give her toddler specific structure (early wake up, grandma comes over, nap time, play time, early bedtime, etc).
-Kids need to be watched at almost all times. It can be a 24 hour job.

I give mothers everywhere extreme kudos for all the work they do and totally understand that being a mother is a full-time job that’s a lot of hard work with no pay (not in dollars, anyway). You lovely ladies deserve lots of love and kudos!

One last side note for all the amazing ladies reading this who’ve chosen not to have kids- your choice is so absolutely valid and I completely support that too! I have many friends who’ve made this choice and I fully support them. Not everyone wants kids, and that’s beyond okay! Have a great day anyway 🙂

I love you!

I love you!

Love and Delight on the Holidays

We want to send so much love to you, our amazing readers, always and especially during the holiday season. We’re truly grateful that you’re reading, and for your thoughtful comments and stories and feedback.

We love you, are honored that you’re here, and hope you continue to grow with us.

I just started reading the book “Big Magic,” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Jane lent it to me saying that it was a must read, so I’m excited to keep going with it. In the first few pages, the author quotes a favorite poet of hers, Jack Gilbert, who says “We must risk delight. We must have the courage to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.”

Those sentences moved me greatly. I want to have courage to risk my own delight, despite what may happen around me. Who knew it could be such a worthwhile risk?

I hope that you too get to risk your own delight this holiday season.

Have some fantastic holidays with your loved ones, and Merry Christmas!

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My living Christmas tree, Seneca, and I

 

The Trouble With Thankfulness In Your Thirties

So Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we’re still here, facing the possible Black Friday carnage, and the insane cyber Monday heading directly our way.

We may have felt sincerely grateful on Thanksgiving for our situations and our families and our friends, but now holiday shopping is upon us, and work is crazier than ever, and it’s hard to remember the peace we may have felt for a second or two last Thursday.

I was talking to a friend about this the other day- how gratefulness slips through our fingers so easily, especially with years of built up stress and to-do-list habits. I can be grateful for a moment for one second, and then suddenly my mind will be racing with worry about something I don’t have or what I have yet to get done.

It’s extremely difficult to let go of the sometimes very painful old-feeling moments in life- those moments where we’re hit with a sad situation, or when we screw something up or feel guilty about something, or someone hurts us, and those same-old-feelings come up once again. It’s very hard to be thankful for all we have, when seemingly large problems are hitting us with 30-plus years of habitual worry once again.

However, I feel like it’s possible and actually quite necessary to feel thankful in my thirties way more than I have before. Every day I try to start again. It’s like brushing your teeth- you have to keep doing it- it doesn’t just last.

There have been some stressful work situations going on in my life lately where I’ve been angry and feeling wronged and hurt. Sometimes I’ve stewed in those emotions and sometimes I’ve expressed them and tried to be clear about what was wrong. All of that action had its place, and I think that it was good to express the problems and my feelings about them. However, after awhile, it became impossible to stew in the negative feelings anymore. I was causing myself unhappiness and grief. There was nothing to do but to concentrate on things that were still good- and there were many things to be thankful for.

I started feeling thankful for people who smiled at me when they walked by. For children who were adorable and quiet and sweet. For the cool breeze I felt as I walked to work. For the beautiful park I was able to run around in the morning. For coworkers who made funny jokes. For hot showers. For beautiful texts from my family and friends. For delicious hummus. For my Spotify playlist.

And I started to feel better.

We have so much and we forget. I think that forgetting is normal and natural. The habit of not thinking about the small stuff has been a survival tool that’s gotten us through more than thirty years of life. We want more and more- which can be great. We’re in our thirties- we have big dreams. We want an amazing career and an amazing marriage and maybe a family and a creative empire and a wonderful home and creative control and financial freedom.

And those big dreams are extremely important. Huge, in fact.

But we’ll never appreciate them if we can’t be thankful for what we have today.

Each moment is a win. Each day is jam packed with small and beautiful things. Don’t be afraid to appreciate them again and again and again- Thanksgiving is every day.

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Beautiful terrace view on Thanksgiving in Los Angeles 

Thirty-Something and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Mood

Earlier this week I woke up on worse than the wrong side of the bed. I woke up on the wrong side of the planet.

A black sticky cloud had descended upon my usually happy-go-lucky outlook. My eyes went dark and my blood turned ice. The outside world had become bleak and unfriendly. My favorite things felt traitorous. My favorite activities felt lifeless. Everything sucked. There seemed to be no turning back.

There’s been some tumult in my life lately that could’ve caused this blackness to fall upon my days. A big change recently happened with my job that left me horribly upset. Someone said a few things to me recently that shook my trust in people. I’ve been a bit overtired. However, I’ve been through way worse things before, and I don’t usually get this moody.

Sometimes the perfect storm occurs in your life, and no matter how good you’ve been feeling in your thirties or how good things are going, your mood will drop into the negative range. It’s normal and it’s okay.

I’m just starting to shake this feeling, but I’ve come to a few conclusions about it. Here they are.

  1. Sometimes you’re in a black mood. It’s okay. Feel it and don’t beat yourself up.

Really feel the bad mood- give yourself permission to not be okay. You don’t have to always be okay. Try not to explode angrily at other people, but otherwise go ahead and live with the feelings for now. They will pass. When I just pretend to be positive and push away my mood, it usually prolongs the badness and makes me more upset.

2. Sometimes it’ll take a bit of time

Just because you don’t feel better the next day, or the next week, doesn’t mean you’ll always feel off. Give yourself time and don’t freak out or go down a rabbit hole of thinking “everything will be bad forever”….it won’t. I have a bad habit of going down that rabbit hole when I get upset- fearing that I’ve backtracked from all the progress I’ve made in my life. It’s really a terrible habit- but I have to remember that the progress I’ve made is real and won’t just go away because of a bad period. It’s hard to remember.

3. See if you can trace the bad mood.

Sometimes there’s a root cause to the negativity that you can actually work on. Sometimes you’re moody because you need to take action. When I realized that part of my bad mood was due to my job, I started talking about it. Talking things out is sometimes really helpful for me. I also have been attempting to brainstorm baby steps to work on the job issue. We shall see.

4. Be gentle with yourself

Give yourself permission to sleep extra hours if you can grab them. Take a long bath. Watch a movie you want to watch. Walk in nature. Read a book you like. Treat yourself the way you’d treat a friend who’s down. I recently went for a walk in the gardens of the Biltmore Estate, in North Carolina. It was calming to see such amazing beauty in nature.

5. Help someone else

Jane recently was talking to me about something sad going on in her life, and I attempted to cheer her up. While cheering her up, I remembered something that always made me feel better. I had forgotten about what made me feel better in the past- or rather, my bad mood had blocked me from it.

6. Your bad mood isn’t the real you

I’m gonna say something weird now. It’s gonna sound new-agey- but I’d appreciate you bearing with me for a sec. Here goes:

Something I’ve learned in the past few years is that the real you is always love.

I know that sounds weird and hippie-ish and is hard to make sense of, even for me right now. But believe it or not, I think love is what everything really is. Love is given to and received from you all the time, no matter what. Even when you’re at your most horrible, the real you is love. Even when people around you are total douches, their real selves are sending you love. Really.

Isn’t that sort of nice to think about?

Because there are so many blocks to feeling this love. So many. Like apathy. And boredom. And fear. And those darn bad moods. But the love is still there anyway. It’s crazy.

The blocks make it so hard to remember that they’re not what’s real- they’re just blocks to what’s actually real. I don’t know why there are these blocks, and why it’s so hard to get through them. But I guess life has always been mysterious.

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Sometimes the Solution Isn’t to be Nicer

I struggle hard to learn from my mistakes and not repeat them. I strive to do my absolute very best.  I hate regret. I hate it.

I try very hard to word things correctly, and to be aware of what I might have done wrong in the past so I can always do things right in the future. I think hard about people’s feelings. I try to be helpful. I try to be fair. I worry about people’s happiness. I hope I’m being nice enough. I hope that I’m not doing something wrong and upsetting someone. I strive to be the best possible friend. I strive to be the best possible family member.

I used to be slow to return texts and emails– I struggle to be faster.

I used to let friendships lapse a bit when I got into relationships– I’m now very aware of this issue and have sworn my allegiance to my friendships.

I used to let significant others do what they wanted, even when it made me extremely unhappy or suffer– I now attempt to communicate what I need early on. This is very hard for me to do. I sometimes feel awkward communicating what I want without being asked but I know I have to.

I used to be more outspoken– now I struggle to be careful with my wording… to the point that I’d almost rather be silent than say the wrong thing by accident.

I used to believe that being nice (and down to earth and rational) could solve almost any problem– I’m now starting to understand that it cannot.

Sometimes when people surprise me by acting in what I perceive to be a sudden cruel way- possibly by saying something mean to me, or flaking on me, or disappearing on me, or by not accepting me, or telling me that they’re upset with me but hadn’t let me know before, I freak out. I obsess over what I could’ve done differently. I look through my old texts or emails, and think about conversations. I wonder if I worded things incorrectly. I worry that maybe if I could have somehow been even nicer and more thoughtful, things would be better.

But then I think about all the amazing friends and family members who accept me even when I’m busy or don’t return texts immediately or say random things that come to my head without editing them. I think about all the people who I accept and forgive all the time…even when they’re slow to respond to me or jot down brisk silly texts, or seem distracted and don’t act the best they can all the time. I realize that the people in my life are imperfect. The same way I am imperfect. And I’m suddenly starting to realize that the RIGHT people, the amazing ones, will forgive the dumb mistakes or the slow emails or the days between seeing each other when we get busy.

Sometimes being nicer and nicer in an effort to make things work with certain people isn’t going to ever make things work anyway. Perhaps the answer is to have more respect for myself and for the people who forgive my transgressions because they know that I’m doing the best I can. Because they love me for who I am, however imperfect.

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A Different Kind of Marriage in your Thirties

Ellen McCarthy, a wedding and relationships reporter at the Washington Post, spent years interviewing hundreds of couples about what makes relationships work and what doesn’t for the paper’s On Love column. Her book, The Real Thing, is an insiders scoop into what makes some marriages work and others..not work..and possibly end in divorce.

According to McCarthy, there seems to be two major keys to finding a marriage partner to be with for (hopefully) your entire life. They weren’t what I thought they’d be. At first I found them way too simple. But simplicity can be deceptive…

The two keys are:

1. Comfort
It turns out that so many of the spouses in successful marriages used the word ‘comfortable’ when talking about their significant other that McCarthy began to get worried when couples didn’t mention that word.
Comfortable in this case didn’t mean settling or boring. It meant that both spouses felt very much themselves in the relationship. The couple still had to work on the relationship of course, but the marriage just felt natural and they didn’t have to second guess themselves or tiptoe around one another. Both husband and wife were comfortably able to express themselves without fear. One person even said that the marriage sometimes felt like being alone while together …in the best way. They both still felt extremely free and independent while together in the relationship. This is the best kind of interdependence, I think.

2. Kindness
When asked what the most important quality a potential life partner could have, the answer was kindness, hands down. The marriages that lasted consisted of partners who were kind to one another…and kind people overall. One respondent said that her significant other was kind to everyone- kind to her, kind to himself, kind to friends, kind to dogs. Kindness is everything in a lasting marriage.
And why shouldn’t it be?

If you’re going to be with someone for life- and in this day and age that means another 60 possible years from your thirties(!)- why wouldn’t you choose someone who’s kind and who you can comfortably be yourself with?

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t butterflies, super hot moments, and great chemistry, and it doesn’t mean that everything is boring and tranquil. It just means that when looking for a life partner, kindness and comfort are great places to start…and continue.

Are you in an amazing marriage with a kind partner who you feel extremely comfortable with? Are these traits valuable to you? I know that I never had them high enough on my radar before, and they’ve recently moved to the top of my list. I don’t want to be with a person who seems great on paper, but isn’t kind. I want to be with a kind person who makes me feel comfortable and good about myself. The rest can be figured out thereafter.

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Happy Birthday to My Best Friend!!!

Yayyyy!!! Today is Jane’s birthday!!!

The amazing 33! Woohoo!!!!

Happy Birthday to the best Best Friend and Co-Blogger a girl could ask for!! 

I wish I was there to celebrate with you, Jane! But I know you’re having a blast vacationing with your man in Palm Springs! 🙂

Even though you lose an hour of your day to Daylight Savings Time, we’re going to officially call this Jane’s complete birthday week! So there will be many hours more added to the celebration time!

Thanks to our wonderful readers and friends for joining us as we all continue to celebrate birthdays together!

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Or spending time with my friend..

 

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Love you!!!

 

 

Being Single on Valentines Day in Your Thirties

This is the first time in 8 years that I’ll be single on Valentines Day.

And now I’m 30- an age where I watch many of my friends not only go out with their significant other for V-Day, but also get married and have (multiple) babies. I watch relationships bloom all around me, like the red rose bouquets popping up everywhere this time of year.

Is this familiar to you? Are you in your thirties and single and wondering what this holiday means for you..if anything? Are you single on what Hallmark and others call ‘the most romantic day of the year?’

Last Valentines Day, if you told me I’d be single this year, on this day, I might have cried. Correction- I would have most definitely cried. I would have wailed. I would have said ‘oh god, what am I going to do? What’s wrong with me? How can I prevent this from happening? How am I going to fix this?’ I would have felt lost. I would have felt desperately alone.

I can put myself right back into that mindset: lost, alone. That thought pattern still comes and goes in waves. I know exactly what it’s like to cling onto something, to clutch onto a belief that doesn’t feel true anymore or bring happiness anymore, for fear that there’s something even worse out there.. something way more scary: the unknown. And being alone.

Yet here I am. The unknown has arrived. It’s Valentines Day eve and I’m 30 and I’m here and I’m single.

And I feel… happy.

It’s a warm, glowing feeling- subtle. Soft. Unexpected. There’s something different about this happiness- there’s a strength in it. It’s a flaming ember in my chest that feels clearer than ever. And I don’t feel alone when I thought I’d be the absolute most alone in my life.

And I get what it means when people say to face your fears and jump into the unknown: sometimes the unknown is better than the desperately unfulfilling familiar. Or the known that doesn’t work for you.

So I’m embracing being single on Valentines Day! I’ll shout it loud and clear: Who cares that I’m 30 and single? I’m also 30 and happy!

So if you’re single on Valentines Day and you’re in your thirties, who cares? It’s okay! In fact, it’s awesome!  You don’t need to be in a relationship to claim Valentines Day as your own. Needing to be in a relationship in your 30s, 40s, 50s, 20s (any age) in order to be worthy is a ridiculous myth! You’re already extremely worthy!

So give yourself some love this Valentines Day. Buy yourself flowers, get yourself wine, take yourself to a movie, hang out with friends, or hang out alone!

Or if you don’t feel happy that you’re single- that’s okay too. Claim it! Have an Anti-Valentines Day party! Or ignore the day and sit home and watch Netflix all night- there’s some good stuff on.

And discover micro-moments of love and connection that can happen all the time– with total strangers! The linked article above talks about how “true love is not contained to long-term romance, but can happen in an instant, between anyone.” Or anything! It can even happen between you and nature- your surroundings. Go ahead- fall in love on the bus! Enjoy love throughout your day without saying a word! And send love to others! You’re never alone. Really.

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Am I Any Closer to Self-Acceptance Yet?

Jane recently wrote two posts on Self-Acceptance: Radical Self-Acceptance and The Paradox of Self-Acceptance. In her latter post she asked a question that I ask myself almost every day:

“How do we completely accept who we are, but also self-improve?”

I’ve grappled a lot with the idea of dualities: two ideas that seem conflicting, but actually go together. In the road leading up to my thirties, I’ve desperately wanted to accept myself right now while still working on a better version of myself. This feels really hard to do without beating myself up for not yet being the person I’m working towards being.

Meditation, as Jane also mentioned in her last post, is definitely helpful. In fact, I believe that’s the main point of meditation- to get yourself into the now and accept yourself now, even while knowing that there is no choice but to grow and evolve. A lot of this is talked about in my favorite meditation podcast, Learn To Meditate, from the Mediation Society of Australia (but I will also try Headspace. Thanks, Jane!)

How to self-accept yourself completely in the now but still change at the same time is one of those questions where the answer has always felt like a slip and slide; However, this year I found a great way to look at it which always brings me back to center:

Think about a tiny oak tree seed that will one day grow into a giant oak tree. The potential for a giant oak tree is always inside the small seed, but the seed hasn’t yet grown up into what it will be. Do we hate the seed for not yet being an oak tree? Do we beat it up? Do we say “why aren’t you a giant oak tree yet??” Of course not.

For the tiny seed to become a giant oak tree, time is always involved- plus water and soil and care. That’s the way it is and the way it has to be. There is no rushing it. There is only caring for it. All we can do is love and accept the seed for being what it is and let time, nurturing and growth take their course.

You can still accept yourself and know that you’re a small seed growing into a giant oak tree.

At the same time that you love the small seed that you are, give yourself the nurturing energy, patience, and love needed to grow into the giant oak tree that’s been living inside you the whole time. Your best self is already there!

 

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Is Love Really Everywhere?

I’ve mentioned before that I’m newly into meditation. It’s somewhat daunting and somewhat the best thing I’ve ever discovered.

Jane and I have both been following Deepak Chopra and Oprah’s 21 day free mediation challenge, but before that, I’d discovered a podcast I love called ‘Learn to Meditate.’ It’s created by the Meditation Society of Australia, and I highly recommend downloading it (it’s free!) if you like meditation or want to try it out.

I have trouble sitting still without a guided meditation to help me, and the podcasts are amazing and extremely straightforward, if not somewhat above my normal comprehension level.

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I am not actually meditating here. But I am very happy.

The first part of these meditation podcasts are always a brief overview of a topic- for example ‘desire’ or ‘fear’ or ‘letting go’ or ‘manifesting through playfulness’ or something of the sort. A speaker talks about a topic for a few minutes before the meditation starts. I love this first part almost more than I love the meditations themselves- they’re super calming and enlightening. Maybe it’s the Australian accents, but something about the opening messages put me in a calm state of mind. I usually feel the need to hear a lesson again because I really want the message to sink in.

Almost all of the meditation podcasts mention love, especially ‘unconditional love.’ I realized from the beginning and I still realize- even after listening to all 50 of the ‘Learn To Meditate’ podcasts- that I can’t exactly comprehend what unconditional love is.

I mean, I sort of get unconditional love from a dog or cat or other pet, or possibly a baby? But from a grown up human?…It’s hard to wrap my mind around that.

The podcasts recurrently talk about how love is flowing freely everywhere, and we just need to open ourselves to it. One talk mentioned that the love we give and receive from romantic relationships, friends and family is only 1% of the love that’s out there to give and receive, and 99% of love is actually everywhere else.  Yet 99% of the love most people experience in their life is from and to romantic partners, friends and family. That’s not to say that the love you get from and give to those people should be any less, but rather that there is just THAT MUCH MORE love out there. What??

How do we find this love?? Where is it? What is it? Is it divine? What is that exactly?

The podcast explained that meditation is a simple path to opening ourselves up to the love that is everywhere. But that kind of knowledge feels ungraspable…the same way that the universe expanding infinitely in all directions is ungraspable. The same way that string theory is ungraspable. If 99% of the love out there is untapped by us- love as strong as the love from and to our family, romantic partners and friends, where is this love and where does it live? Inside of us? In the sky? As a part of nature? How do we find it?

Even if I figure out the answer to any of these questions myself, I wonder if opening up to this kind of love would even be measurable, sustainable, or teachable. So I open up the floor to suggestions. Does this love baffle your mind? Do you agree that it’s out there? Have you found any of the other 99% of the love supposedly all around us? …And has it changed your life?

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