This spring marked the 19-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 leaving behind six children ages 19 to 34.
She’s been on my mind–and in my dreams–a lot lately. I really miss her.
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 effect on who I am today (read 7 Self-Care Rituals I can’t Live Without).
My mom was a beautiful, bright, artistic, sensitive and highly creative only child. She was plagued on and off for many years with clinical depression that arrived after the birth of her second child. And she was stingy with her love. I know she loved us and although she could be affectionate at times (especially when we were young kids), she expressed this 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 was struggling with finding compassion for herself.
Are you stingy with your love? I think at times, we all are.
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 throughout May to see how many ways I can share my love, my compassion and my positive energy with others (read more about my I Choose Love PSA) —will you join me?
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance coach/author/speaker and self-care evangelist Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women experience balance through the art/science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning self-care curriculum. She is the author of three books on life balance and mindfulness including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 17-year-old son. More on her background here.
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