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Donna Jean Freberg Headshot

L'amour L'amour

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I think it was the Starbuck's cup with hearts swirling around on it that put me over the edge. You see I've been incredibly loved in my life, in every way -- I'm talking about romantically -- but this is the first year since I was 15 that I haven't had a significant other to buy a valentine for. And I'm over 50 years-old. Not that all that love hasn't stopped me from feeling sorry for myself. Oh, I am plenty grateful for the love I've had to be sure.

I even tell God I am sorry for crying so much over my broken heart. Over feeling so alone that my bones ache and my heart, literally, beats irregularly. I know this because it started to physically hurt and I figured maybe I should have it checked out. My prominent cardiologist, studying my EKG announces to the room, "hmmmm, your heart's beating irregularly." Holding back a sob that I was sure brought on another irregular heart beat right then and there, I replied, "duh, it's a wonder it's beating at all." I looked her in the eyes and said, "I feel like my heart is bleeding, and I'm afraid it will bleed to death."

I've thought a lot about how our physical bodies often take the hit for our emotional pain. In Chinese medicine they say the lungs are tied in to our deepest grief (that being the case, I wonder why my lungs feel OK?) and that an unhappy gallbladder can mean a plethora of unexpressed anger. Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner. My gallbladder, along with my heart, has been very unhappy. And I've had three ultrasounds to prove it. My mother made it clear that we were not to lose our cool and say things we could never take back. She referred to it as, "saying something ugly." I've learned to appreciate what a valuable lesson it is to not say 'ugly' things you can't take back -- and I've spent most of my life not doing it. In fact, I have a really hard time getting angry and letting it out, all the way around (just ask my gallbladder). Because for the life of me I can't imagine out how you get angry WITHOUT saying something ugly somewhere. What would that look like? Trust me when I tell you I am trying to figure it out.

But back to my heart and Valentine's Day. Even when I get my eyes off my own broken heart, there is little relief in so much of what is going on around me. There seems to be a distinct, disturbing lack of kindness and love everywhere. One horrific news story after another of love turned into death and destruction. How ironic we tout the whole idea of sharing and showing love on this one day of the year. I'm thinking it's time to rethink our definitions of love. There's an awful lot of ugly, to use my mother's word, behavior going on these days. And in an election year, a lot of really ugly words bombarding us daily on top of the usual ugliness. There is also a weird atmosphere of acrimonious divorces going on, people wanting to literally destroy each other. Truth is, some people shouldn't be allowed to utter the word 'love' from their lips. They've lost their way, and lost the right, if you ask me.

Maybe this Valentine's Day let's not just think about who we love, or who loves us, but more how we love. In our own back yards, closest to home. I think of when Mother Teresa received her Nobel Peace Prize and she was asked about what we can do to promote world peace, and she answered, "Go home and love your family." That's a mouthful right there. A lifetime of digging deep, of practicing kindness in the hardest moments, of overcoming our demons when and where it matters most. So this V-Day when I'm handed another Starbuck's cup with little dancing hearts, and my own heart skips yet another beat -- I am going to remind myself that I have another 364 days to go, to actually live the love those hearts represent.