The holidays are a strange time… For anyone who has lost a loved one, lacks a stable family life, or is just simply single at this time of year, it can be especially tough to be surrounded by so much cultural emphasis on love, especially romantic love.
But in the spirit of abundance, manifesting good things, and taking a more holistic point of view about love, I think it’s super important to not dwell on what we lack in life, but focus instead on what we have and want to cultivate more of in the future. I’ve been learning and re-learning that when we do the former, we just tell the universe that we’re sad and anxious, which is definitely not the best vibe to send out when you’re hoping to receive something different. Besides, the ancient Greeks had at least eight different words for different types of love! That must say something, right? Love is truly beautiful and it’s all around us. It’s who and what we are. I was reminded of this truth very recently when I re-read a bunch of thank-you cards from former clients I used to counsel… people who had suffered from sexual assaults, suicide attempts, breakups, panic attacks, depression, abandonment, family pressure, you name it; there are people out there who felt loved by the space I created for them. And knowing that they took a moment to share that gratitude with me made me feel loved, too.
So I started thinking about how else love has shown up in my life a little more recently. Here’s what love has presented as for me:
– having a friend surprise me on my birthday with pink carnations and white roses because she knew they’re my favourites.
– having a friend volunteer to be my plus one at a wedding where I wouldn’t know anyone besides the bride and groom.
– being called up unexpectedly at that wedding for “close friend” photos.
– being surprised with a book to borrow completely out of the blue.
– having a new tennis racket strung and gifted to me because mine just wasn’t up to par.
– having someone find a nifty way to save me $400 on a major purchase.
– being really listened to by someone who cared about my pain when I didn’t know how to hold it anymore, and wasn’t ready to release it.
– seeing midnight texts come through on New Year’s Eve because they knew that historically, that was a hard night for me.
– feeling encouraged by my circle to take more leaps of faith even when I was defensive to what they told me.
– sharing late night drives with family members, listening to our favourite songs and (badly) singing along.
– eating pizza with someone on a grassy hill outside of a questionable plaza after ingesting too much matcha ice cream on a summer day.
– going on an 8-hour adventure and being walked home at night by a friend who wanted to make sure I stayed safe.
– being invited to join a bookclub by a new friend.
On my end, I’ve tried to share love by:
– joining my brother at the crack of dawn when he finishes his night shift, so we can share mornings together.
– baking and cooking meals for friends (not easy, considering half of them are gluten-free, sugar-free, and FUN-free)
– driving a friend who had no access to a car home at night.
– passing forward books to fellow readers.
– consoling a friend who unexpectedly broke down in front of me.
– signing up to donate to children’s causes.
– volunteering to support a student group that needed someone to vouch for all 20 members to get credit on their transcripts.
– critiquing resumes for a friend in job search mode.
– shopping and supporting local artists and businesses.
– reminding someone they can overcome their fear and letting them know I see that they’re doing a great job already.
– expressing appreciation and gratitude for people in my life.
– talking someone through anxiety attacks.
So, there you have it. If you feel kind of strange or lonely around this time of year, I encourage you to think of a few ways you have received and shared love. It’s normal to feel whatever you feel, so that’s fine too, but let’s try to collectively process our emotions and create something different for our futures. Hugh Grant said it best in Love, Actually; love is everywhere.