Are You Stingy with Your Love?

ripe plum

This Saturday is the 13 year anniversary of my mom’s passing. Healthy and active, she died at age 60 from congestive heart failure as a result of a sudden, serious case of the flu.

She’s been on my mind a lot lately.

Last Wednesday I created and facilitated a mini self-renewal retreat for 100 men and women in Austin as part of my national launch for my new book (I’ll be traveling around the US through the spring, come see me).  Many in the room had heard me talk about the concept of self-renewal before, but for some, it was new.  As we explored how to attune and respond to our needs and nurture ourselves, our families and how to identify what a new way of being might look like for each of us– I couldn’t help but think of my mom as I tenderly watched my four siblings who had come to support me at the event.

I often wonder how different our family life might have been had my mom known about the practice of self-care—an art and science which has had a profound and life-altering affect on who I am today (read 8 reasons you should be #1 on your to-do list.)

My mom was a beautiful, artistic, sensitive, highly creative only child who was plagued on and off for many years with clinical depression that arrived after the birth of my oldest brother.  And she was stingy with her love.  I know she loved us and could be affectionate at times (especially when we were young kids),  but she doled out her love in small amounts—like precious squares of 70% organic dark chocolate. In retrospect, I realize it must have felt like a herculean task to try and outwardly lavish us with love, when she had so little for herself.

Are you stingy with your love?

I’ve noticed ways in which I can be: when I put “getting things done” over giving/receiving love; when I see fault before I acknowledge good; when I hear myself say “I’ll give my son or husband my full attention as soon as I ….. (fill in the blank),” when I embrace someone I care for and then pull away a little too fast–already moving on to the next thing on my to-do list. Or when I see an inconvenient time or place when my love is being called forth—maybe at the grocery store, on the playground or in a business setting—and I sweep it aside, staying safe and playing it cool.

They say routine lulls the brain to sleep. Most of us move through the day on auto-pilot—succumbing to our habitual ways of seeing and being. But I want to stay awake. I want to make sure that I’m not rationing my love, saving it for the right time or the right place or the right conditions.  I want to keep nurturing and practicing loving kindness towards myself every single day … so that I not only have enough love to fill my well, but it overflows and spills out into my home, the streets of my neighborhood, my city and beyond.

All the great philosophers and spiritual teachers say love is the most powerful force on our planet. But doesn’t its power only grow when we learn to freely and generously share it as often as we possibly can?  I’m planning to challenge myself all weekend to see how many ways I can share my love, my compassion and my positive energy with others (pretty fitting for Easter)—will you join me?

Interested in hiring Renee to facilitate a life balance workshop for your company, group or organization?  For more than 20 years, Renee has been creating transformational events and speaking to companies such as Dell, 3M, IBM and organizations such as the Young President’s Organization, the American Heart Association and national women’s conferences. Learn more or email sarah@reneetrudeau.com to check her availability.

Live Inside Out is a weekly blog written by internationally-recognized life balance teachers/speaker author Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and numerous media outlets. Thousands of women in ten countries are participating in Personal Renewal Groups based on her first book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and son. More on her background here.