Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino
love is in the air. and as always on the airwaves. on the oldie’s station yesterday i heard the classic, “love the one you’re with.” remember that one? “and if you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with.” i was only eight in 1970 when stephen stills recorded that and they’ve been playing it ever since. free love was the big thing back then. today, i’m prayerful my nine year old daughter is growing up in a world where “self love” is even bigger. at least there are more female rockers singing about it. because we are at last beginning to get the picture that we need not be with some dude that is just not that into us or maybe he really is into us and loves us unconditionally but it can’t make us feel loved long enough or right enough if we don’t love ourselves. the one we spend every living breath of our lives with. it often seems we are often the last to receive our own love. come to find out no matter how much we feel we are giving our highest love to another, we cannot love another more than we love ourselves.
so this being the month of valentine’s love, i’m thinking more about intimacy. with the love of my life, with my child, a friend, my parents, my siblings – intimacy is being known and seen for who you truly are. beginning with knowing and seeing my true self. so here is a list of ways i’ve made to practice loving myself. see if they work for you. in the morning. when your eyes first open and before your feet touch the floor, give thanks. you are still alive. you are still here! in the morning. when your eyes first open and before your feet touch the floor, give thanks. you are still alive. you are still here!
- look in the mirror and smile. just say thank you.
- ask for help at least one time each day. whether from your idea of a god or another person. how extraordinary to discover we cannot do everything on our own. we don’t have to and we don’t need to. also, it rarely works.
- here’s a little alphabet game to play when you forget about loving yourself. start with a and go to z and come up with a name for each letter of someone who you love and someone who loves you. my list can include our dog, authors who have changed my life, relatives who i may not have seen for years.
- i pray to love myself and see myself as god sees me. even if i only can do this for a minute at a time.
- make yourself a delicious meal – a recipe you may have wanted to try for a long time. or a new restaurant. go alone or invite someone you know from your alphabet list to join you. dress up. put on the earrings you think are only to be worn for a very special occasion. this is it!
- go to the movies. see something you’re in the mood to see that day.
- take a long luscious bath. add bubbles. light a few candles. wash each part of your body as if it were the masterpiece of art and science that it is.
- take yourself dancing (if only in your living room). put on the music that will make your heart and soul rock out.
- allow yourself to be courageous. tell yourself a secret you may not have admitted to yourself or anyone in a long time or ever. maybe it’s something you did in high school. write it down on a piece of paper that nobody else needs to see. read it out loud to yourself. share it with someone who you trust or do as i do- burn it and let it go.
- cry if you need to. a good cry is a priceless cleansing.
- laugh if you can. a good laugh at ourselves opens the doors to a new world.
- give yourself permission to pleasure your body. our bodies need and deserve affection as well as emotional and sexual release. use it or lose it.
- give up the need to be perfect. one loving day we awaken to find all our search for perfection is good for is keeping us away from ourselves and others.
- practice listening for your own self judgments. you know, the ones that assess your every thought and action. if you can do this for ten minutes a day you will learn so much more about your self.
come to find out intimacy is much more than taking off our clothes. it’s taking off our masks. it’s getting truly naked. when we can give these things to ourselves we have them to give to others. we can grow and keep growing. we can truly support growth in the ones we love and the one we are always with. and isn’t that what love really is?
love and blessings,