Greatest Love Story: Learning to Love Yourself

Caspar David Friedrich
“Woman Before the Rising Sun” Caspar David Friedrich

 

 

I made a realization yesterday: Loving yourself is essential to good health.

I’ve had many encounters with bad health from TB to chronic bronchitis to many others. After a particularly difficult time in January, I began to wonder if some of my sicknesses were spiritually or emotionally connected. This one thought led me to try healing my soul before I tried healing my body. I buried my nose in books (I’m good at that) and sought professional help. This blog has been such a great place for me to share so many things about my little life in my little trailer with my little family, and I think it will also be a good place for me to record what I’ve been learning.

One thing I’ve learned through this journey is that there may not be any real truth. Truth is, after all, relative to upbringing, culture, family, hormones, neurons, blocked energy, etc., but there is one compass I can count on, most of the time.

Quiet. Solitude. Meditation. Prayer.

All rolled up into one it creates a pretty amazing weapon. Because only one person really knows what you’re going through. Only one person will be with you throughout your entire life.

You.

So you better love her or him. You better spend some quality time together. Be still. Feel your heartbeat. Admire the way your feet touch the ground, the way your eyes process color, and consider what makes you really laugh–even if it’s silly old slapstick.

I’ve spent most of my life fantasizing and obsessing over some of the world’s greatest love stories. As a teenager I even naively prayed for a great romantic love story–but maybe it wasn’t so naive because I’m starting to believe that the greatest love story you can have is with yourself.

Hm. Gives “living romantically” a whole new meaning.

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Why A Caged Bird Sings

MayaAngelou_Feb070

Caged Bird

A free bird leaps on the back of the wind
and floats downstream till the current ends
and dips his wing in the orange suns rays and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage
can seldom see through his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.
― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I just finished I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Read my short review on Goodreads if you’re interested.

Second book down.

Book Review: The Secret Life of Bees

The_Secret_Life_of_Bees

Thanks to my goal to read more books (I haven’t quantified it yet–maybe one per week, we’ll see), I finally read The Secret Life of Bees. When I was in high school, my drama teacher encouraged me to read it and maybe turn it into a monologue, but I never did it even though I had the best intentions. Anyway, fast forward ten years and the book is still on my mind. Not to mention while I was looking for books to put on my list, I found Oprah’s Book Club. This month she is reading The Invention of Wings also by Sue Monk Kidd–synchronicities, anyone?

This book was the perfect starting point for my goal to read more. It fed every bit of my soul and imagination. Here are a few of the thoughts I experienced while I read:

I am only to page 52 and I can feel Lily’s spiritual journey spilling out of the pages, jumping like beads of light. Never before has a piece of fiction touched my heart, broken it, and mended it again in so few pages. The bees have become my friends and the black Virgin Mary a symbol for my own changing paradigms. Reading with my window open, the sounds of birds and bees make this book come alive even more. Thank you, Sue Monk Kidd for opening the world of fiction for me again.

“I wondered if Mary had been an outdoor type who preferred trees and insects over the churchy halo she had on” (58).

Black Madonna Honey. I think I stopped more than Lily did when she found that picture on a bottle of honey. Peace and answers came to her in more ways than one through the Black Madonna.

I cried with them. Every time May went to the Wailing Wall, I longed for my own. I still consider going outside and building one for myself, and if I owned the land my house sits on, I probably would. Instead the world’s worries whir away in my center, welling deeply until I’m sure I have nothing more inside of me.

Then August said something. Something that struck me in that hole and started to fill it again.

“You’ve been halfway living your life for too long. May was saying that when it’s time to die, go ahead and die, when it’s time to live, live. Don’t sort of maybe live, but live like you’r going all out, like you’re not afraid” (211).

I want to keep bees now. I want to write again. I want to find the colors of the world and paste them to paper with the tip of my pen.

I echo Lily’s own little prayer. “Come on. Don’t mess up your time to live.”

Thirty by 30

When I went to school at BYU-Idaho, my first semester I got a job as a student secretary in the English Department. As a freshman who had never had a job before, I was totally terrified and completely out of my element. I had talent, yes, but how to use it? No idea.

Then I met Zan, a senior with way more talent, much more experience with life, and a Ninja Turtles backpack. She spent time with me at the computer teaching me how to hone my limited skills with Paint Shop Pro into using Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. Sadly, we barely got to work together at all, but she obviously left a lasting impression on me, then again when she returned a few years later to teach at the University with a Masters, and then again when she left for Ireland to pursue even more education.

And now she has done it again. Following her on Instagram, I noticed something. #zans30by30. Thirty things to do in the 30 days before she turns thirty. I have two and a half years until I turn thirty, but her list made me think of a list I made a year ago detailing what I want to do by the time I’m thirty. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll share it with the internet world or not, but suffice it to say, that I’m working on many goals in the next two and a half years. Some big (like sewing a quilt, a goal I’ve had for years) and some small (like reading more). Though I think the latter will be much bigger than any of the others since I am pursuing it the most right now.

So if you see more book reviews/a photo of a quilt/Owen’s baby book finally completed, just realize it is me keeping track of my thirty by 30.