Grab a cuppa and 5 mins peace for this.
Some of you reading this will be feeling loved and appreciated right now, and plenty of others will be feeling unseen and neglected. And not just because it’s Valentines time, I know not everyone is into it.
I could take it or leave it in normal times- years of retailing blooms and lingerie will do that to you. But because of lockdown etc, I’m getting really into making an occasion out of anything I can think of. So I ordered myself some luxury PJs for Nick to give me today. And they say romance is dead… haaaaa.
I polled people on my insta stories as to whether they’d like me to write about self love, or loving others today, and there was quite a split, so I’ve drafted in some support. Below, you’ll find insights from brilliant women I admire, covering various perspectives of love.
I’ve got a psychologist, a coach who leads faith first women, a parenting coach, a Humanist celebrant… and me. There’s some lovely stuff if you keep on reading, and you can find the details of all the contributors throughout- do go and find them and tell them know what you think, if their words help you.
Let me get me 2 pence worth in (is that the saying?)…
My biggest challenge around love has been believing that martyring myself is an affectionate act. The sense that giving, and giving, and giving, beyond what feels comfortable, or sustainable, is a demonstration of kindness, and high regard for the recipient… HOW. RIDIC. How insulting to that person, who is accruing debts to us that they may not even know about.
Babes, if I could give you one piece of advice about love, it would be to find a way to love them AND yourself simultaneously. Love is not without compromise- I don’t get to do what I want, whenever I want, in the name of self-love and audacity. But I do get to INCLUDE my own needs in my considerations of what I am and am not available for. The compromise mustn’t be consistently one- sided.
If you find yourself waiting for it to be your turn to receive- love, support, rest, thanks, etc- again, and again, and again, I can confidently recommend my mini-series- Audacity is the Answer: Post-2020 Edition. You’ll learn about how becoming more audacious in your relationships can INCREASE trust, and connection. It’s less about being demanding, and more about bringing your integrity to your dynamics with the people you care about.
Now I’m handing over to some of my fave voices…
It’s over to Julia Goodall… She’s a psychologist and coach working with couples, individuals and families to live more connected and joyful lives. Her mission is to help families rewrite intergenerational stories, freeing them up to create their own.
You can find her on instagram @grounded_families and hear her on the Grounded Families podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
Hello lovely one,
Valentines Day can be a lot of pressure for relationships. It tends to pull up all the patriarchal crap about love needing to take on of a fairy tale-level of magical bliss and imagining our partners can read the intricate corners of our minds…by magic! No matter the actual substance of our relationship, this day can so often leave us feeling as though our relationships fall short.
So lovely people, the antidote is often a bit of an anti-climax, but it is getting to grips with your stories of love, then sharing them with your partner. How do you want your relationship to feel? How do you want to show love to your partner? How do you want them to show love to you? There’s no shame wanting our partners to join us in a Valentines rebellion, or in wanting them to shower us with beautiful flowers and breakfast treats in bed, or to spend the day going for walks and having chats together. Whatever you want your connectedness to look like, you need to tell your partner this (probably again and again) so they know what you need. I hope you all have a wonderfully imperfect day together, remembering that we get to choose how we love.
Up next, we are hearing from Naomi Aidoo… Anyone who has been around me for a little while knows that I’ve had a rollercoaster of a relationship with religion, and faith. Having Naomi’s voice in my life has encouraged me to reconsider some of my assumptions. She coaches faith- first female entrepreneurs, leaders, and creatives who are called to build, scale and grow businesses online. You can find her here on insta @naomiaidoo
Light in the darkness and hope for the hopeless. Peace for the restless and refuge for those who are seeking it.
If that doesn’t sound like love, then I don’t know what does.
I personally find those things in God and my faith in Him. I get that for some, that’s a bitter pill to swallow because of hurt, harm and horrible things which we’ve not only read about but also experienced at the hands of humans using God’s name to mask their madness. That’s of course the total opposite of love and whilst I can’t comment on each of their individual whys, I will say that I always find going to the Source much more effective than meandering around the feet of counterfeit messengers.
I guess for me, I try to keep it simple. I want a love that’s constant, dependable, sure and bullet-proof. I get that with God. I get that whether I go to Him angry, confused, devastated or delighted.
I’m very thankful and privileged to have a lot of love in my life – precious people to love on and from whom I receive it in return, and a lot of goals and dreams which I love bringing to fruition. But for me, love has an even bigger scope because it’s rooted in the love I receive from God and therefore long to reciprocate. There’s a verse in the Bible which pretty much sums it up for me. The book it’s taken from is also my son’s name who’s 20 months old and tells me he loves me often, which I can’t lie, is pretty close to God’s love haha…
“He has told you what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
Justice, kindness and humility. Sounds like love to me and I for one, am here for love like that.
Nat Raybould is incoming… She is a Humanist celebrant. She creates bespoke wedding ceremonies for couples who are eclectic, enthusiastic, and eccentric.
The language of love is so passive, isn’t it?
Talk of burning flames, bewitchment, obsession, falling…
We are helpless to resist, people! Boom! – now you’re in love! Bam! – deal done! All sold to us as the fairy-tale denouement: the FIN before the credits roll.
Really? Boom? Bam?
For me, Love is a continuous present tense. We do choose who we fall in love with, and we re-choose to love them every day. That choosing and re-choosing, that pragmatic love, is the ultimate in romance. It is a declaration: “I accept you, not as a fairy-tale perfection, but as a flawed human, just like me. I choose all of you”. When we re-choose to love our partners every morning, it is a gloriously conscious decision. I adore it, and I applaud it.
FIN? Nope, too fishy for me. Happy Valentine’s Day.
And finally, it’s Leilah Moussa… Leilah is the founder of Other Mothers. She combines her skills and experience as an Early Years Specialist Teacher, Hypnobirthing Practitioner and mum of 3 to provide pregnancy and parenting support that encourages parents to say goodbye to people pleasing and trust their intuition to do it their way. You can find her here on instagram @mixedothermother
My parents separating when I was 16 turned any perceptions and ideas I had about love on their head. I spent pretty much the next decade and a bit, including the early years with my now husband, trying to figure it out.
So what does love mean to me now? I talk a lot in my pregnancy and parenting support work about trusting your intuition and when it comes to love, TRUST plays a big part for me. I’m not (just) talking fidelity but trust in the process. Trust in your belief of the other person and that they also believe in you. Trust that things will always work out when it comes to big things, house hunting, job hunting, money worries and trusting that you’re both carrying the load. Ultimately it’s both of you trusting that your version of love, whatever that looks like, works for you. Those years of me figuring it out (I still am, lets be fair!) involved a lot of meeting other peoples expectations when it came to love. When really I was doing the judging because I hadn’t started loving myself.
As a mother that’s what I believe has made me a better partner in my marriage. Loving myself enough to ask for support and meet my own needs. And that’s definitely where I’m at with my kids, showing them how to love themselves without expectation.
I hope you enjoyed reading those reflections and insights as much as I did gals. Weird that no one mentioned those little heart balloons on a stick, or teddies holding hearts, or heart shaped boxes of chocs that I hoped to receive as a teenager…
Wishing you the love you wish for yourself today, and forevs xx