Are you in love with yourself? Did that seemingly ridiculous question just make you stop reading this blog? If you are still with me, keep reading as you may find that I have the sweetest, most important Valentine's Day gift for you.
I get asked over and over again how I can possibly face and shine light on such difficult issues as mental illness, abuse, trauma, grief, the criminal justice system and all of the related baggage surrounding these topics. The answer is pretty simple. I am not afraid. I have seen it all and embrace these issues as a part of our collective human condition. I can say that most of the time, I feel "one" with every person I meet which translates to seeing the spark of divinity in each person regardless of their circumstance or behavior. Why or how can I do this? My personal experience has required me to practice this level of self forgiveness which has facilitated an opening for me to be able to accept others. Human beings are complex and the more that we can break down the rigid distinctions and judgement within, the more connected we will be.
Do I feel one with people living on the street or in jail? Yes. Last year I spent a day with a man who was in San Quentin Prison for over thirty years. When I first met Robert, I attempted to feel separate or "other" from him because of the story in my head about him being an "ex con". I tried but couldn't do that as the interaction with him was so natural and "normal". I didn't judge because I have known despair and darkness which can be a common thread for us all in motivating some of our actions and behaviors that are shrouded in shame. And while I have never exhibited outwardly violent behavior, I was suicidal for many years as an adolescent. We may not like this classification but suicide is considered an act of violence. I own this part of my history and that the potential for destruction is always there. No blame, no shame, it just is.
I bring these "no fault" ideas into my work as a mental health advocate. At the Flawless Foundation we live in two worlds, the holistic/mindfulness community and the traditional medical realm. We often receive criticism from both sides on many issues especially our medication neutral stance. I can take the heat because I have enough self-acceptance (dare I say, self -- love?) to keep my compass in a steady direction. While not being liked never feels pleasant, I realize that both the supporters and the naysayers are a gift to me in my own evolution. If there is truth to be told, I can forgive myself first by creating a clean slate to receive the messages. Our tagline at Flawless is "seeing the perfection" which is a way of life for me.
Shoot cupid's arrow, piercing into the heart of your own self love by writing a valentine to yourself. For me on this 14th day of February, my message will be one of forgiveness. I have been exhausted lately resulting in constant mistakes both at work and at home (including lots of traffic and parking tickets). Practicing this myself is a bootcamp of necessity so I can continue to source my calling to spread this radical message.
Can you imagine what would happen to our world if everyday was a celebration of the heart where we were our own valentines?
Will you be yours?