To Love Oneself…

To love oneself…

What does this even mean?
We all have different understating of the word love…
A fleeting irrational, animal response? A mere feeling?

Most often people relate the word love, to “romantic love” between two people, in a relationship, but even the meaning and understanding of what a relationship is so distorted nowadays… We are more “connected” than ever, but more isolated than ever before, especially from our own selves. The only real home and sure source of love we’ll ever find, our own souls.

I believe real love is more than just a feeling.
Real love is a verve, and a most potent sacred force making the world go around…
Unfortunately, language often impedes us to make sense and even express of all our feelings…
The same with love, which yes, is also a feeling of affection, care…
Eros love, includes attraction and feelings of lust…
But real love goes beyond fleeting momentary feelings, real love is a virtue and a divine gift.
I shall attempt to deconstruct or sketch a clear picture of what this love looks like:
First of all, real love encompasses the words:
Kindness
Compassion
Acceptance
Understanding
Patience
Forgiveness
Attention
Empathy
Care
Resilience
Precede the word “unconditional” before all the above…
Now I could go into defining each of the above as well, but I trust we can all look up the meaning of the afore mentioned and get a clear understanding of what they all mean.
Although these words might look all “fluffy” and rosy, rainbows and butterflies, spring everywhere…
They are actually the most difficult things to practice, for us humans, trapped in our ego shells, but they are the most powerful and redeeming forces for any one of us.
So when it comes to self love, where to start?

First by accepting yourself, sounds simple right? Easier said than done.
Accepting our messy, broken selves who everyday we try to change according to societies expectations of what we “should be” as humans.
From a young age we are made to feel inadequate and ashamed of our short comings, some more than others….
So this is the beginning, accepting who you are warts and all, and realising you are not just your “mistakes”, “defects”, but realising that these things are actually what shape you into the unique wonderful individual that you are.
Realising that it is through these struggles you are actually being polished into the diamond that you are.
Realising that there’s nothing wrong with you, you are just the way god, the universe, the providence, nature, whatever you wanna call it intended you to be… Perfectly you.
This is the first step to self love.

Acknowledging yourself in all your glory as not just a pile of negative adjectives of everything the world told you, you “should be”, but being real with the truth of who you are, and being proud of that. Sure, you are not perfect, you could have a million defects which you want to change but we all do, but the first step in changing or “improving” any of those defects or bettering yourself in any way, is by first acknowledging who you are in the first place, acknowledging and loving ourselves into “better” versions of ourselves, not outcasting or berating ourselves for certain parts we are not quite proud of or we don’t like.

For example you could have a fiery temper, and tend to feel anger which you often try to deny, keep contained or reflect onto other people, until eventually you explode… and then you give yourself even more of a hard time for “losing control”, or being an asshole, or a bad person or whatever the condemning thought might be.
The first step is to have compassion towards ourselves, for having all these feelings and unhelpful thoughts, being human and vulnerable and simply not perfect.
Then gently, being aware of certain tendencies or unhelpful habits we might’ve picked up throughout the years for whatever reason, and try to transform them into something more helpful for ourselves and others.
For example that anger, passion, all that energy can be a powerful force for transformation, for taking action towards a noble cause with compassion and benevolence above all. Because we know hate or any destructive action doesn’t benefit anyone, it only damages all parties involved.

So it’s about acknowledging yourself in all your glory and go from there…
To illustrate this, in my experience, I’ve always been an anxious person for as long as I can remember, given my “difficult” upbringing, trauma etc…
For years I tried to negate, hide this anxiety and deep sadness I felt, I just didn’t want to acknowledge them because the feelings where too painful, they were real, but I thought they were a nuisance I had to ignore and just “get on with it”. I lived totally disconnected from my emotions, trapped in my mind, telling myself how “I should” feel instead of owning up to my feelings and which lead to years of destructive behaviour. First of all, I hated myself for all the things I should be and I wasn’t, I hated myself for all my “mistakes”, so often I kept myself isolated, I lived behind a mask, never showing my true self, all my pain. It was only when I opened the doors of my own heart to myself that I could be free…

I started to feel deep compassion for myself, because my anxiety and sadness where there for a reason, I’d had a difficult past, I’d gone through some very rough things that would leave anyone sad and anxious, and there was nothing I could do about the past, the past was done, but my emotions which I didn’t allow myself to feel, where still stuck there because I never allowed myself to process them…
So I started by accepting my past and the feelings that came with them, and realising how it was ok to feel everything that I was feeling. What’s more, I realised these experiences where actually a gift, these deep suffering allowed me to become a more compassionate person towards those in pain, these experiences taught me how to forgive, myself and others.
These experiences taught me the way to love.

Now I realise, there’s no such thing in the universe as mistakes, everything happens for a reason even if we don’t realise it or understand it at the time, everything is a lesson, everything is working towards the evolution of our better selves…

So back to loving myself,
This means forgiving myself for all my mistakes, things on retrospective I could’ve done better? But hey! We all try to do the best we can with what we have with what we have and what we know at the time, so what’s the point in dwelling on the past?
We can only learn, and move on, wiser than before.
Second, loving myself means being true to myself, in all aspects.
First, it means acknowledging my past, all it’s pain and owning it. It means acknowledging all my emotions, not judging them as good or bad, just allowing them to be there, and have compassion for how hard it is sometimes to feel a million things at once that my brain can’t even process.
Loving myself means chasing my dreams, it mean having the courage to break out of my shell and create a life I’m proud of, a live that reflects my values….
Loving myself means loving others around me as well, and not being ashamed of this love, not being scared of being who I am but beaming proudly all this Love I carry within me because, heck it’s a treasure I’ve worked hard to find, literally through many years and tears.
In practical terms it means, acknowledging all my moods, all my physical sensations and acting mindfully to take care of each one. It means being present to my life every second. Being grounded in love.
It means accepting my body as it is, scarred, hairy and all.
It means nourishing it with healthy food, it means giving it the rest it needs.
It means taking care of my mind, nourishing it with wisdom, allowing it to rest and have some fun as well.
It means taking care of my emotions and listen to what they are trying to tell me…
It means making peace with myself, from the constant war… it means working with me not against me…
It means unity, mind, body and spirit…
It means learning to trust myself, my gut, my intuition.
It means being true to my values and beliefs and not be ashamed of being who I am
It means having patience with myself…. having endless compassion for my ego and anxious mind.
It means living a life that makes me happy even if others don’t understand…
It means being in touch with my real self, my soul, endless love.
It means being a compassionate, nurturing mother towards myself.
It means being deeply aware at every time of what I’m feeling and thinking, and grounded, respond accordingly.
It means being mindful and present to my life.
It means acknowledging all my desires and feelings and not keep them exiled or be ashamed of them.
It means reconciling my heart and mind.
It means spreading that love I have within me with others and everyone around me in any way I can…
It means trying to make the world a more loving place.

“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”
― Socrates

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Your Masterpiece

“This world is but a canvas to our imagination” – Henry David Thoreau

This life, this one ever expansive cosmic canvas of inexhaustible, unlimited potential yet also a finite one, bound and constrained by the concrete frames of our mortality….

So… what am I splashing across? Am I languishingly copying monotone, weary and tattered templates for the sake of putting something down, or am I pausing, letting my spirit impregnate and reign over my body and be fully awake before I paint? Aware and in awe of the humbling grandiosity of the task?
First vowing in reverence and honouring in each step this magical blank space before me in which anything and everything is possible…

The day we came into this earth we were all gifted with a precious brand-new, limited-edition canvas, exclusively crafted for each one of us to take ownership of and work our magic on… To bring about that original melody and symphony of colours, which one else but ourselves can unravel…
Thus in life, in the 24 hour cycles we are repeatedly lovingly allotted for an uncertainly certain limited time, it is our divine responsibility to emancipate ourselves from the incarcerating shackles of our own inhibitions, lovingly ameliorate our preconceived handicaps and let loose, carpe diem and paint large… Paint a range of different landscapes, whole different worlds and entire new galaxies only our own particular set of neurons can conceive, only the blood running through our veins can feed and our own irreplaceable hearts feel…
It is our task, to let down those constricting heavy iron gates and let our hearts run free, escape and mingle in unison with our ingeniously restless minds…

At any given time, we all have the chance to stop scribbling our days away or mindlessly doodling to pass the time until we die… Although it might not come automatically since its not our default state, although this is no easy, effortless exercise and make no mistake, certainly no child’s play or leisurely walk in the park, but rather, perhaps the most seriously crucial and gruellingly audacious yet also the most rewarding and overall lifesaving task we will ever embark on in our lifetime; to make the conscious, constant and irrefutable decision to rip off those bindings and stop silencing and soothing our naturally fervent and passionate hearts and souls with synthetic tranquillisers and artificial props…
At any given time, we all have the chance to wake up, open our eyes and see the miraculous temporal potentiality of life as it is, and so wide-eyed, perky and determined rise up from our comfortable yet incapacitating beds of conformism, of fear, of pear-pressure, of not taking chances, of unwillingly fabricating listless lacklustre and lifeless reflections of a life… One’s which perhaps look good at first sight but after a while disfigure to reveal their morose reality…. The desolate, cold and passionless landscapes, empty of meaning which once we are finished tracing and once the trance of business and momentary distraction have worn off leave us feeling hollow, confused and defeated….

It’s refreshingly freeing and inspiring to realise and paint with the conviction that there’s really no rules or set instructions, although implicitly there might be expectations and implications of what it’s meant to look like…
If I am to deviate from the common trend there’s every chance I maybe scrutinised and shunned, perhaps labelled or deemed as a “failure of an artist” or “just not good enough” by those undiscerning critics rigidly sticking to contemporary fashions… So I should strive be more Picasso and less me… Aspire to imitate the archaic hindering definition of “greatness” and “success” they’ve been sold… To create a “masterpiece” based on the stereotypical yet also wavering model of what life is supposed to look like… One which clearly depicts all the imposed and expected milestones in ones lifetime, one familiarly comfortable to the observer; a house, a car or two, a mum and dad, all busily toiling 9 to 5 while attempting to raise and provide for their three kids and a dog…

But really at the end, where is the jury panel who will appraise our paintings and publish their final critique? When will the auction of our paintings take place transforming us into either revolutionaries best sellers of the art world, or merely mediocre struggling craftsman?

Truth is, we are here to concoct this colourfully messy adventure of a life for no one but ourselves, the only audience to please is your own soul.
The reality is everyone is too busy and preoccupied with painting their own painting, at the end, all you are left is what you’ve got, whatever it is you drafted while you had the time…
So maybe it’d wise to stop being so concerned about what others are painting or their opinion of our progress…

When painting, the boxes people may try to pack us into or the labels they may attempt to print across our representations should be the least of our worries.
To be deemed “average” or be granted any other unflattering comment is only a reflection of that persons particular circumstances and only valid in their own enclosed personal sphere. Other people’s opinions are merely fleeting words which have absolutely no power and validity if we ourselves choose not to validate them and uphold them as our truths. Only we have the authority and power to “define” ourselves, even though each one of us is an innately complex, dynamic, forever evolving and enigmatic being, who’s very nature escapes classification… Thus,  it’s only up to our own command, to outline and determine our character through our own manifestations, intentions and the quiet ambitions of our souls and so letting our actions do the talking louder than clearer than any words…
Nonetheless, it remains a fact that our actual figures, our shading, our lines and waves will always be a little too sharp, a little too bright or a little too wobbly or not enough for some people while at the same time those same designs will be pleasantly received and cherished by others…

To paint and so to live with the aim to people please is a fruitless, futile and heartbreaking endeavour…
The reality is we are collective of millions of unique individuals, with tastes and preferences as unique, varied and numerous as the entirety of humanity itself, thus it’s only natural that we are not always going to be everyone’s cup of tea all the time… Therefore, why sacrifice and betray our own souls, our unique essence, our unique impetus and character by striving to paint something we hope presumably other people may like, trying to hit an illusory fictional target hypothesised by our insecurities… In this way we are not doing anyone a favour but regretfully only ripping ourselves off and being prevented from painting a true masterpiece, one which flows from our DNA, one born and true to the vivacious life-force of the innermost, intimate workings of our hearts and so one which brings contentment not only to our own souls but like ripples in a pond, has the unintended effect of spreading amongst the surrounding bystanders that contagious satisfaction of a genuine, beautifully enacted, virtuous representation of an exquisitely rich life, one nobly depicted in courageous integrity and authenticity.

That’s how art, that’s how life works…
So pay no attention to what others may say, and instead let the colours, smell, shine, every aspect of the paint captivate and enthral you, be so engrossed in your work that the endless opinionated banter blends in with the chirping of the birds and alchemically serves to fuel your inspiration…

If that’s who you are… If that is your experience, if that’s what you are thinking/feeling, if you are being authentic, as long as you are painting from your heart then you can’t go wrong… in the process you are merely creating your own style, one which probably won’t be understood or appreciated until after your time, if ever?…
But that’s not the point anyway, to paint for external gratification, validation or approval?…
You paint, because you paint, because you don’t know any other way to be… Than to be wholeheartedly dedicated and devoted to the art of life.
If others can be moved and respond positively to your painting, if others approve of your style and like your interpretation of the subject, that’s a bonus, but that’s not the aim of painting.
I paint what my heart dictates… Emotions are the muses inspiring my creations…
And maybe you find that certain types of yellow, orange or light red suit you better than the murky tones of grey… Maybe you find that love inspires in you roses, while fear, jealousy, anger, make for a mean thunder storm… Maybe anxiety and uncertainty are the nimbostratus and tornados swiping through the flowers you sculpted earlier… But that’s ok, it’s all just the weather…
So I don’t I don’t know what will happen, I don’t know how this piece will turn out.
I’m not here to make a profit, I’m not here to impress critics or the rest…
I’m here to paint to my hearts desire… To paint my canvas full of all shades of the prismal rainbow and contrast it with the charcoal of the starriest of nights. To try and experience and depict the whole cosmos of possibilities only limited by my imagination and how much I am willing to risk, bargain, gamble and trust that mischievously cheeky keeper of the perplexing future…

If I can diligently and skilfully paint my days away like a a pro and may be in some way help inspire others to start painting from their own hearts or maybe trace a flower for as tiny as it might be then I could happily put my brush down…

So don’t be afraid to splash technicolor across and sideways, be bold, be brave. Let your heart be stamped on the canvas of your life and sing along in rhythm with the bittersweet harmony of life… Whistle while you work…

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
― Pablo Picasso

Your Holocaust

The ignition in your being, a voracious fiery disaster.
Feel the scorching fire; let it burn.
Why not go ahead, sit in those incandescent radioactive coals.
Let your flesh be lit alive with crimson red flames, let the aura of the flares radiate your silhouette.
That blistering fire havocking inside no one can put out; yes, you just have to let it burn.
Let it consume you, a holocaust.
Don’t ask why, for you can’t see.
The smoke is blinding and impairing, the reason you can’t conceive .
Just feel.
You can’t burn forever.
Energy comes, energy goes, thermodynamics.
When the morning comes, you’ll see what’s left.
There in the ashes you’ll find a your clue.
Scatter your ashes, make it worth something.
This meaning… only you can formulate and decipher.
Or the wind will swipe away your remains.
So simple, yet so daunting.
This cremation of excruciating emotion.

My heart

My heart: 

My heart is a well; a never-ending well out of which thick rich infinite emotion gushingly pours…
Out comes pain,  out comes sorrow, sometimes showers of joy and gaiety, sometimes stillness, quiet waters reflecting back at me.
I was both blessed and cursed with having this instrument of crisp raw flesh made to feel and perceive everything so deeply, so vividly.
When I’m sad, I feel it in my bones; when I’m glad my eyes smile.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to tame this wild beast that is my heart, but maybe hearts are not meant to be tamed but embraced.
So then my task is to befriend the most potent force in my being, that which gives life to my existence.
But sometimes when it hurts I wish I could just stop its flow. I see the crimson red gushing out, tainting my skin and dripping bloody tears all over my life… “Are you OK heart?” asks my concerned mind. “You are hurting, you are in pain and there’s nothing I can do to stop it” it exclaims in desperation.
But in fact heart, you are quite happy to be host to a myriad of emotions, all shades of pain, all shades of joy. “Let me roam free” you tell me as I see you prolifically be in your element.
Maybe heart you are stronger than I am. You were made to withstand all that I can’t.
Heartbreak is your friend, you know disappointment too well, you are acquainted with anger, jealousy and fear. You long for awe and love and patiently wait for joy and serenity to come to play.
Maybe heart you are wiser than I am, you don’t discriminate, you know you’ll be alright, so you tell me “let me feel, let me be free, let me be me”.
So who am I to hold you back and suppress your talent, censor your true nature? Try as I may, your beats will go on…
And maybe your streams will water something beautiful, maybe your springs are the birthplace of a whirlwind of adventures coloring an otherwise monochrome life.
So although it isn’t always easy to carry you in my chest, I want you to be safe.
I want to honor you, respect you and give you your place.
Be free heart in all glory, feel heart.

Growing pains

I write because I have no repair, my heart knows no other way. Nothing other can soothe this aches of my soul… Nothing other can express the deep longing causing this excruciating pain, which I can bear but must manifest through writing, through words.

This intoxicating, almost mesmerizing, captivating, pain… A sweet rhapsody of emotion.
Labor pains… My heart is a wound out of which never ending cosmic feeling flows…
Sensitivity, vulnerability, the birthplace of all my passions and desires; my aches…
I’m tired, I’m tired of having to be something bigger than myself.
For once I’d like to put my load down and just be, rest in my knowing that I am, full stop, no ifs or buts.
No one or nothing can ever make me whole other than me. It is a personal choice and responsibility to look at myself in the mirror and say “I see you, I see the tears in your eyes, I hear your silent cry”, that which everyday in every way you try to escape, yet it’s there and won’t go away. It just needs someone to listen, to acknowledge it is real and it is true.
What is death if not a rejection of life, of self, and this is the life I’m living. Withdrawing all life, the living breath out of myself.
I never thought pausing just to be with myself would be one of the hardest thing I’d ever have to do, welcoming myself and my experience into this world.
Giving up all efforts for “self-improvement” or “self-destruction”.
How can I improve on something that’s not there? I need to first accept and love what’s here. The life that I am given, as it is. This body I’ve got, it will never look like the “ideal” magazine’s portray. This mind I’ve got, it will never be Einstein or Nietzsche, this soul I’ve got it will never be pious enough. I am human and I am imperfect and that’s that.
I came into this world alone and I will go back on my own. Although it’s good to try to live my life to the fullest, to be the best version of me I can be, maybe I can start at the beginning, acknowledging and accepting my existence as I am.
My flawed body, my anxious mind, my fearful heart. Maybe I can begin by opening the doors of my heart to that lonely stranger that’s been there all along, longing, waiting, begging for acceptance, for some love.
And love I’ve got. I profess love to the world yet I can’t let love govern my inner world?
And what is love if not acceptance, kindness, compassion towards myself, towards my many faults. It’s taking the anger I feel towards myself for not being “good enough”, feeling it, acknowledging it and allowing for the calm and peace to come. War doesn’t have to go on forever, more violence towards myself is not necessary, only love can drive out the fear and cease hate. Aggression is not the answer. And that’s what I do when I try to force my body beyond pain and into shapes it doesn’t fit. That’s what I do when I call myself stupid, when I say “I should known better, I should’ve done better”. When I live with regret and fear, that’s what I do. When I’m not fully present in my body and in my life, that’s what I do, it’s war, it’s aggression.
The time has come, the seed is sprouting, the child has matured, the ground is now fertile and the foundations solid enough to spring up, to begin to flourish into who I am.
Into more than just a shadow, more than just a sad, flimsy version of all that I am.
I am now old enough, I have lived through enough, I now know things I didn’t know before. Although I might’ve been suffering, although I might’ve been in pain, I was still there present and listening through it all, learning, maybe the hard way. I was becoming stronger through my pain, the fire was shaping me, molding me into the warrior I now can be. I developed courage, resilience, acceptance, space in my heart for myself, for life as it is in all its glory. I don’t have to be the abandoned, fretful child forever; the time has come, I am now a warrior of love, of life and that is how I will life the rest of my life.
Honoring myself, honoring this precious life I’ve been given. Every feeling, every emotion, every twist and turn, every inch of skin and every hair in this body of mine. It might not be easy, it might not be my usual or learnt response but it’s the road I must take. I have come to a crossroads and there’s now only one way I can take. I have traveled down the beaten road, way too many times; it’s familiar, I know it’s ins and outs, it’s hills and bumps, and although it’s a road well traveled  I must now venture into the unknown.
I am now equipped with everything I need, I am now brave-hearted, daring and courageous to life true to myself, whatever that might look like, whatever that might be. I have no other choice, I have already chosen the honorable life.