Tag Archives: Love

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Today is my birthday. And so far my best present was an insight.  It felt like when the clouds part on a grey day and you can see that the sun had been shining the whole time.

The backstory:  I fell in love with someone in the last few months.  Falling in love is funny.  One minute you like them, they’re great.  The next minute they are in your heart.  And it’s like: wait I don’t remember opening that door.  How did you get inside?  But there they are.  And suddenly you are vulnerable in a way you never agreed to be.

The second backstory: I ended it.  We were dating and he was travelling and I wanted more contact than he did.  Which was the right move for both of us.  It felt good that we could both own what we wanted and respect the other person.  I felt solid.

The current story:  We still see each other on a regular basis as we are in the same group of friends.  And the thing is: he’s still in here.  WTF.  I thought I asked him to leave.  Apparently, my heart did not get the message from my brain.  Most of the time it is fine, and the love feels like warm friendly tenderness and laughter.  Other times, it feels like sad isolation, a tightness and mopiness for his inability to give me what I want.   Or an anger at myself and my stupid heart for not being able to “let go.”

The insight:  This morning we were at breakfast together with a group of friends, joking about Will Ferrell movies and the paleo diet.  After I blew out the candle on my birthday cupcake, everyone at the table told me an intimate reflection/communication as a way to celebrate me.  And his to me was: “You have this ability to go into these high places, and that’s where I get knocked out.”  And with that short sentence, he let me know that he still feels me, even when he can’t always follow me where I want to go.

And then I saw it.  How we are like two circles in a Venn diagram, overlapping, yet pulling at the edge’s of each other’s comfort zones.

For me, he represents the ability to keep loving even when that love cannot be returned the way I want.  I am exercising my heart to be strong and robust.  One that gives without getting stuck like a sad kitten at his emotional front door, scratching to be let in.  One that stays open even when every bone in my body wants to deny that I feel anything, or make him responsible for “making” me feel this way.  And yes, this means that my tender heart gets to be cracked open in ways that don’t always feel pleasurable.  If you ask me on a bad day, I will most likely chalk this post up to a birthday sugar-overload, and play the role of a sad victim of unavailable men.

And for him, I represent being able to receive a full, open love.  He wants to shut down and close it off and kick me out of his heart.  But I know that I am still in there too.  And little by little, I can feel that he is relaxing into it, letting me love him.  And maybe he’ll never return it in the way I want.  Most likely, I won’t be the one that he throws open the doors for.  But I have my own special place inside that is still growing, and breaking up walls like shoots of grass rising through pavement.  There is a deepening.

Seeing this, I stopped seeing our current situation as a “problem.” Sure, there’s a comfort and energy that happens when two people’s circles overlap more completely.  You can draw a tight circle around yourselves and call it a relationship.  Within that space, you can create things together and maybe even plan for the future.  But there’s also a magic that happens when the circles don’t entirely overlap.  To stay connected while respecting the distance that exists between you challenges you to grow and expand. You get to experience bigger and bigger versions of love.

A Lesson in Unconditional Love

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The Truth Will Set You Free

“The minute you withhold in a relationship, it starts to deteriorate.”  -Nicole Daedone
“We use om so we can burn off the illusion of scarcity, so you can admit you’re already full.   And not just full, but *stuffed* with abundance!  Our life is a gift to start with!”  –  Nicole Daedone

I just finished a rollercoaster of a ride. I started working with a holistic personal trainer a couple of months ago. He worked with fitness and nutrition, as well as the underlying patterns showing up in your life. I felt attracted to him from the very beginning, and the work we were doing went very deep so I was emotionally very open.

For the first part of the ride, I thought he felt the same way. It was hot. And then the rollercoaster went down, and I realized what I had been interpreting as mutual flirtation was just friendly openness and support. (Or at least, he was not consciously on the same page as me.) And my attraction to him became ugly and resentful, and I felt ashamed and embarrassed about my own desire.

So then I tried to pretend that my feelings didn’t exist. That I could will myself into letting go. I told myself I was being strong and mature and level-headed. Surprisingly, this didn’t work.  I was still secretly desiring his attention and trying to manipulate him into giving it to me. Meanwhile, I was resisting the training and growing frustrated.

Finally, this week I decided I wanted off the ride. I chose truth. I ended the training. I confessed to him that I had been attracted to him and that I wanted trust and surrender, but just not in the form of motivational speeches and diet plans. He thanked me for my honesty and vulnerability. There was a full silence, and sense of resolution and clearing. I said goodbye. I felt good. I thought that was it.

And then a day later, the final piece came through. I realized that I had actually been getting the love I wanted from him this whole time, it just didn’t look like the way I thought it should. I had been subconsciously refusing it out of a limiting belief that it wasn’t enough . . . I wasn’t enough . . . I needed more. As I let go of my attachments and stories and spoke the truth, my expectations melted, and I could appreciate this support fully. This sense of being loved gained in power and intensity, and it felt full and meaningful in its own right. I felt grateful. So my final communication to him was to let him know that his energy and caring were received. Now I feel this clean flowing of energy and peace. The ride is over, but the learning and blossoming go on.

—————-

Epilogue:  I frequently find that as a learn a new life lesson, teachings pour in that confirm and solidify my insight.  This is what happened here.  Shortly after reaching this insight, someone shared with me the following “Three Levels of Truth” structure which they based on teachings from the amazing Nicole Daedone (founder of OneTaste).

  • The truth about circumstances: who, what, when, how.
  • The truth about your internal self – the emotional reactions and feelings, the hurts and the joys, the resentments – that allows others to see you.  This kind of truth sets you free, though it might hurt other people.
  • Then there is what seems to be the deepest level of truth – the one that sets the other person free.  At this level, it’s not about what you want for yourself but about their freedom – their freedom to be who they are at their best, to live out their purpose.  It’s a place where your attachment to them is secondary to their freedom, and it might mean that you won’t get what you want from them in the short term.  Although of course, this is the only level where you yourself are truly free.  When you’re playing at this deep level, this is pure love.
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Diamond Approach Weekend: Open Heart

What does it mean to have an open heart?

This weekend I am in a Diamond Approach retreat.  Diamond Approach combines insight meditation with western-style psychological reflection.  Each retreat centers around a theme. This weekend’s theme is the heart.  If you have been following my blog or know me, you know that the heart is central to my spiritual path.  So this theme taps right into central questions for me: how to be true to my higher self in a difficult world.

I believe in love.  I believe in openness.  I believe in vulnerability.  I believe in authenticity.  I have found joy in staying open and affirming everything I hold true.

How do I hold true to these beliefs when I am met with closed hearts?  What do I do when I give love and it is not reciprocated?

What this weekend is teaching me is that sometimes that my commitment to staying open results in me skipping over situations where I feel hurt, and not acknowledging that my heart wants to close.  Sometimes I shave off parts of myself in order to allow the other person to feel comfortable.  Sometimes I keep things happy and safe to encourage the other person to meet me, instead of being honest about my own feelings of disillusionment.

I don’t know where this insight takes me.  I know it doesn’t take me into the polar opposite of where I am coming from.  The answer is not to swing into recriminations and harshness.  The answer is not to hide my love.  The answer is not to go unconscious and “act out” my hurt and anger in thoughtless ways.

There is a middle ground that I still need to find.  I know that it involves being able to feel free to express anger and hurt in healthy and spontaneous ways.  I know it involves being okay with alienating people if need be.  I know it involves saying NO to others if that is what it takes to say YES to me.

I don’t think I am all of the way there yet.  The line between openness and accommodation is difficult to trace. But I am grateful for the space to explore these questions in a supportive community.  I welcome any insights from people who are working through similar issues in their own lives. What situation is causing you to confront this issue most clearly?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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David Deida Workshop: Masculine and Feminine Energies

Mykonos: Paco, what do you feel right now in your heart?
Paco: I don’t know, not much.
Mykonos: Your friends are going to die. You are going to die. This is a fine woman. She wants to feel your heart. We all want to feel your heart.
Paco: Well, maybe I dont want to give you my heart.
Mykonos: Fuck you, Paco. — David Deida, Wild Nights

Our world is divided into two forces: the masculine and the feminine. The bee pollinates the flower. The man penetrates the woman. Consciousness pierces space.

All of us carry the capacity for both masculine and feminine energy. Masculine energy is presence and purpose. It is solid. Feminine energy is life, motion, light, beauty.

Sexual energy arises out of the polarity of feminine and masculine energy. The male energy is attracted by the radiance of the feminine energy. The female is drawn to the masculine’s presence and depth. His undivided attention provides a structure and support for the female energy to shine even brighter, letting go of all defenses that would block her beauty.

In our modern world, the artfulness and sacredness of this polarity has been lost. Or it appears in a degraded form. Women (and some men) dress provocatively to get praise and attention for their egos, rather than as an outward manifestation of a deeper power. Men (and some women) chase after money and status to prove their worth, without learning how to cultivate real masculine integrity and presence.

This weekend I attended a workshop by David Deida, who has published many books on sexuality and spirituality. I came away in love with the raw power of feminine energy. I felt like a temple-keeper for this incredible goddess that happened to live in my body, ancient and nameless, that makes flowers grow, waves move, and bodies rot. And I also felt like the Goddess herself.

Now I understand why I have repeatedly gotten feedback not to over-structure my travels over the next few months. I thrive off of unstructured freedom because it is a feminine mode of existence. It makes me feel more vibrant, alive, and creative to not have a specific plan.

I also came away with a better understanding of what I am looking for in a man. Deida’s description of the feminine longing for connection echoes the part of me that is vast and intense, and that craves an equally powerful force that is capable of diving deep enough to meet me.

I want a man to let me feel his heart. Not a touchy-feely sharing circle, or a pseudo-spiritual staring contest that substitutes for real connection. I want the rootedness and strength of a man: alive, present, open, and attentive. Willing to share himself and be touched.

Many guys are scared of intimacy because they are afraid of being vulnerable. I get it. Connection with many potential dangers: heartache, shame, possessiveness, jealousy. These may be avoided by staying unconscious, superficial, at a distance, unavailable. But what else is life for? Let me feel your heart Paco!

Okay, so what about the juicy Tantric sex stuff? Deida shared stories of what sex is like when the masculine and feminine forces are fully activated. The couple synchronizes their breath. The man breathes through the woman so that he starts to be able to guide her energy. Instead of ejaculating, the man recirculates this sexual energy through the woman. Not only is the man flooding the woman with sexual energy, he is also flooding her with consciousness (the essence of masculine energy). He does this in part by being infinitely receptive to her responses. The woman loses self control–her physical responses become spontaneous as her normal boundaries disappear into a vast bliss. As Deida put it, she has been fucked to God.

And these teachings go beyond sex. We will all be too old for physical sex at some point. Or we may not want to have sex for other reasons. What do we do with this longing, this power, then?

Ultimately, the union of the masculine and feminine is a vital expression of our our own longing to merge with God. The world is the feminine– ever in motion, changing, full of beauty, but also merciless and harsh. She is all things, full of life even as it changes to death. The masculine is our own consciousness. Union happens when, no matter what shit or amazing pleasures the world throws at us, we keep our hearts open instead of collapsing or hiding. Stand strong and let the world crack you open with her beauty and pain. Let me feel your heart Paco.

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Transformational Breathwork Workshop

I wrote this post right after the breath work workshop ended last Friday, but I have not had a chance to finish and post until now. Time moves fast on my travels! I am excited to share about the week because I think a lot of people have no idea what happens during a breath work retreat!

The type of breath work we did is called Transformational Breath, developed by Judith Kravitz. Judith is a really sensitive bodyworker, and one of the most eye-opening things about the week was how incredible our bodies are. In one demonstration, she pressed into different points of a woman’s body to determine how she was holding her breath back, and what that resistance meant. As she pressed into the woman’s body, while the woman engaged in deep circular breathing, Judith could feel the energy moving and shifting and releasing. The woman started sobbing during the work, and emerged famished and feeling very light. It is fascinating to see how we can work with our bodies to aid emotional and spiritual growth.

During the week, we experimented with different forms of breath work: gentle sessions, intense ones, sessions focused on specific blocks/obstacles in our lives, sessions outside breathing in nature. Rather than try and recap each session, I’ll review one of my more powerful experiences. This session was the one dedicated to working with a specific block/obstacle. My intention was to let go of control over a situation involving another person, to find freedom and peace with the way things are. My breath starts out as a forced mechanical exercise. Deep breath in, release, over and over. As time passes, my conscious mind settles down and I am fully immersed in the experience. Deep automatic breathing kicks in. I am no longer directing the breath. Instead, it is taking me for a ride. I am both curious and slightly afraid of where it will go. I feel lots of energy that erupts into anger. I let the anger express itself in toned vocalizations (sound is a key way to release energy. Tones are better than yells because they integrate and raise the energy, rather than having it remain a chaotic yell). Behind the anger I find deep sorrow and sadness. This feels new and big. I realize I have been trying to avoid feeling this sadness. The more I relax into it the more vulnerable I feel. I keep on breathing deep, circular breaths, letting these waves of sadness wash over me without tensing against them. Another realization: I am strong enough to feel this sadness. I feel an incredible sense of peace and lightness, truly protected and cared for. When the session ends, and I open my eyes, I can barely talk. I giggle and smile instead, amazed by my sense of well-being. The world feels new. I am overcome with gratitude, and a sense of surrender to the situation with the other person that is deeply physical and rooted—not just a mental concept. If you have ever had insights while in an altered mental state….and catch a glimpse of how beautiful and simple and tender the world is if you just relax into it… it was like that. Over a week later, and I still carry this insight within me, in my body’s code.

Even though breath work is intensely personal, it occurs in the context of a community that is hugely important. For me actually, the community is just as important as the personal work. At the beginning of the week we were 20 strangers, of different ages, races, geographic locations, and genders. At the end of the week, we were joined by the journey we had just taken together. It is such a blessing to be part of the group experience! So many people go through life pretending that they don’t have emotions or numbing them, because there is no space in modern society to dig deep. Sure, you can have conversations with your best friend or partner. But those private conversations can feel like you are sharing a secret, a confidence just between the two of you. When you get together with a group of people and openly bare your joy and pain and love and fears, you that discover that everyone has similar struggles. The love and support you receive melts parts of yourself you did not even realize had been frozen. And you get to give others the same love in return. After having had intense experiences of community like this over the past year, I find myself wanting to carry this love out of these safe spaces and share them with others in my daily life. In other words, I find myself being stronger, more authentic, and more compassionate with others because I see what is possible. Screw it if people think I am sappy. 🙂

One final thing. What I didn’t realize until the end of the week was that Judith’s son, who had suffered a brain injury years before, had passed about ten days before our workshop. At the end, she dedicated the workshop to him and told us how much it meant to her to be doing this work and helping people heal. For me, it brought home how precious it was to be able to spend the week together with everyone, laughing, crying, dancing, playing, and loving. Grateful to be alive.

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I Knew You When

I knew you when
The air was still
When Red met Purple
When the glow of the sun
Melted comfortably
Into the dusk of the night
When you were your fullest self
And you let me love you
The way a bird accepts the breeze

Now we meet again
My battered friend
I try and tell you that
Your arm is gone
But you are unperturbed
Or maybe just unaware
That the last time I saw you
You had wings
God damn wings

I catch myself confusing you
with who I know you to be
I yell at you.

Because you can’t fly
Because you don’t remember me
Because my leg is gone
Because I too am bound

I remind myself that
There is a reason why
You have one arm
And I have a limp
We have chosen these wounds
To walk this ground
And meet ourselves again

So I will keep my memories
In the bright space
Behind my eyes
Where you can find them
Where they flash
Like a Brilliant stone
Catching the light

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Brutal Beautiful Honesty

Run away from me, baby, run away
Run away from me, baby, run away
It’s about to get crazy, why can’t she just, run away?
Baby, I got a plan, run away fast as you can
Kanye West, Runaway

‎As we learn to have compassion for ourselves, the circle of compassion for others –what and whom we can work with, and how — becomes wider.
Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart

Today I did four really difficult things.

I let myself see and acknowledge that I had been acting selfishly, and that I was not being who I want to be.  

I forgave myself.   

I admitted to the person involved that I was acting selfishly.  

I expressed a deep and unconditional love for that person. 

Right now, I feel at peace and also very vulnerable.   In retrospect, it amazes me how I managed to avoid seeing how I was acting before.  There is so much about ourselves that we don’t want to admit because we are not ready yet to grow.

Or maybe it is not that crazy.  Until we are ready to face up to ourselves, there are many ways to avoid inner honesty.  Maybe some of these sound familiar to you.  You can project your problems onto the other person (“If only they would . . . “)  You can fall into self-pity (“I am a bad person.”)  You can lie to yourself about who you are and your motivations.  (“I am the nice person.”)  You can pretend that you do not know what you are doing.  (“Why does this always happen to me.”)  You can stay shallow and cut your feelings and intuition short with distractions.  (Friends, TV, alcohol, books, gym, rinse, repeat.)

I have done many of these things.  And I am sure that I will do them again in my life.  But gradually, I am learning to practice honesty.  I am committing to watching myself and how I act.  I am trying to communicate with people in a genuine fashion, and owning up to things I do.

Being honest does not mean that I have any idea what to do about my imperfections.  Real honesty goes beyond a one-time, “I am sorry that will never happen again,” type thing.  It means that I am willing to dig deep and admit my deepest motivations and engrained patterns, the stuff I really do not want anyone to see.  Sometimes there are no solutions to being human.

That’s why I love Kanye’s song Runaway . . . it is so brutally candid.  He offers himself as he is.  He gets it, he sees himself, and he is willing to own up to it.  He has no answers.

But the funny thing is that at the end of the song, after he admits to being a workaholic asshole who is afraid of intimacy, he naturally shifts into a different place.  He is finally able to admit to this girl that he is singing to that he does not know what he will do without her if she leaves.  When he lets himself be vulnerable and real about who he is, he can open his heart to love.  I always feel closer to him as an artist and person after I listen to that song.

I felt that opening today too.  Once I cleared the way by owning up to my actions, and forgiving myself, I felt this deep love well up and pour out of me.  It was really beautiful to feel and express.  I am learning that true intimacy–with family, friends, lovers–requires owning up, again and again, to who we are, and letting that be okay.

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A Pledge to Love

This past weekend, I was at my friend’s apartment watching the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Awards.  This award ceremony is not like any other.  First, it is not obviously based on competition.  Instead, they just honor the inductees.  Also, it is not based on a one-year achievement, but on people’s lasting contributions to music.  Which means that this award show goes much deeper than others.  The award matters to people in a way that others don’t.

One of the most moving speeches came from Flea, of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  He said that every morning before he plays, he gets on his knees, and prays to God, and prays to uplift the people that come to see them play, and to love them the best that he can. (1:16 minute mark).

So many rockers look out to their audiences and just see a bunch of people wanting to party.  So that is what they give them: a good time.  And that’s what people get.  And probably, that gets old after a while.  Flea looks out at his audience and sees people to love.  Loving people, giving them something real, something that moves them, something that makes them feel understood, is much less likely to grow tiring.  You can hear the energy and the passion in his voice.

I do not think it is the audiences that are different.  I think it is how Flea chooses to approach life.  He sees the opportunity to love and serve where someone else might not.

For a while after college, I actively turned away from peace/love ect. as a lopsided ideal.  I thought people who talked about it were only telling half the story of who they really were.  And in some cases, that is true.  Being loving can be a mask for all the ugly parts of ourselves we do not want to see.  It can be an easy way to get people to like us and avoid conflict.

But people who recognize that the world can be harsh, and that parts of themselves are ugly or need to grow, mistakenly turn away from love.  They assume, like I did, that being “real” meant embracing a bit of cynicism, putting up a bit of a guard.

I now realize that there are lots of people who hold love, not as a fuzzy ideal, but as something that they are constantly trying to actualize in their lives.  They are willing to take a hard look at themselves and be honest about what they see.  They are just human, but they are willing to take the lead and commit themselves to a higher ideal.

Like Flea, you can be willing to get on your knees every single day and pray for the chance to embody love.  You can say: I am struggling here.  I can be grumpy, and sad, and petty.  I can go unconscious, and make choices that I am not proud of.  But that it not a reason to turn away from love or give into cynicism.  That is a reason to ask for help.

I believe in love.  I believe in dedicating my life to opening my heart to more effectively give and receive love.  I am willing to walk into the world with my heart first.  I no longer care if I sound cheesy because I know that I am sincere. I say these things not because I am perfect, but because I am not.  I say them as a pledge to guide my life.

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A Beautiful Experience of Community

Phew.  A lot has happened since the last time I posted.  Two weekends ago, I went to a Tantra retreat.   When I say Tantra to people, a lot of times I can feel them get weird, like they assume that there is some sort of crazy, wild orgy thing going on.  Tantra is not about sex, although it does not exclude sex.  It is not focused on it, and does not treat it lightly.  If anything, my experience with Tantra is teaching me to have much more respect and awe for sexual energy, and to honor its power.

But really, Tantra is about opening to life.  It is about fully embracing this human experience as a spiritual path.

This weekend, there were about 20 people in a house in Malibu on retreat.  What happens on a Tantra retreat?  There were many levels to the practice.  There was energy work–chakra breathing, chanting, both alone and with a partner.  There were fun, playful, simple practices like: do something nourishing with your partner.  What seems simple can turn into something deeply meaningful, food for the soul.  There  were group practices with the women and men apart.  There was dancing  And, very importantly, there was the circling practice, where we all sit around and talk about whatever–big, small, mundane, profound–we are going through in a safe space.  You can say anything and it is okay.

All of this work happens in an energetic and physical container–a place outside of our normal patterns, with the strength and safety to allow us to explore and grow.  As we did all this work inside this container,  slowly but surely, we all came out of our shells.   We left behind that thick cocoon of ego/fear/habit/striving/craving/posturing/politeness that normally hides us from each other and from life, and stepped naked and vulnerable out into the space of the group.

And in that naked vulnerable space, we were more available to give and receive love than I have. ever. felt.  We cheered for each other.  We cried for each other.  We told each other when we scared each other, or when we made each other mad.  We listened to whatever the other had to say.  We were silly and playful with each other.  And finally, we celebrated each other.

There was so much energy and love going around that I just yelled at the sky, skipped down the road, cried and laughed at the same time.  I feel a very soft and vulnerable side of myself emerge.  It felt safe to be beautiful, and tender, and sweet.  It felt safe, and right, to tell people I loved them.  It felt safe, and right, to be loved.  Everyone just seemed to fragile and sweet, and strong at the same time.  Myself included.

I wish I could pull every person in my life that I care about into that space, so I could directly interact with their heart free of all of the crap that usually keeps us apart.  I feel a deep longing for that sort of deep and authentic connection on a regular basis.  I want to touch the sweet part of everyone that longs for the same thing.  Not to solve or fix anything, but just to see each other as we really are.

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Don’t Be Afraid to Give Unconditionally

I have a budding interest in entrepreneurship, and am beginning to educate myself in this area.  This week I decided to sit in on a call hosted by Alexis Martin Neely with George Kao about social media and marketing.  Even though I have no immediate plans to go out on my own, it was a great way to “practice” stepping in that direction and gain exposure to people daring to start their own businesses.  But the thing that really stuck with me during the call was what George said at the end.

“I love you.”

At first I was shocked.  This was a pretty straight forward business call, with terms like “events-based marketing” thrown around.  Yet at the end, Kao put that out there.  After I got done being shocked, I felt happy.  This was not a cheesy tag-line.  It was an unabashed open-hearted way to show up.   Kao did not ask our permission or make sure it was “safe” before he laid this out there.

He said it to remind us of a truth.  We are worthy of love and success.  And he is worthy of giving it. 

There is someone else in my life right now who is showing me how it is possible to show up in a really beautiful, giving way.  At my work, there is a woman who uses her own money to buy the office coffee, candy, and other types of food on a consistent basis.  She goes on trips for her anniversary and brings back presents for the office.  After I complimented her on her unconditional generosity, she bought me apples slices to snack on after a trip to the grocery store!  Again, not cheesy, and not motivated by anything other than a desire to be genuine.

Her generosity opens both her heart and mine.

It can be too easy to fall back into a small, fear-based space where we do not give freely.  Because there is no reason to be generous, like the holidays.  Because we are afraid of rejection.  Because we are afraid people will judge us for it or think we have ulterior motives.  Because we feel afraid of expressing our love and being vulnerable and shining.   Because who are we to say or do things like that?

Both of these people demonstrated small ways to move past all of these fears, and model a different way of being.  They are small actions, with one common, huge message:

Do not be afraid to give yourself unconditionally.

By their actions, these people have inspired me to pay it forward and look for opportunities to open my own heart for no reason.   And so.  I love you.  You are worth it.

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