Sometimes I begin believing that my philosophy of love and relationships is so outmoded that I am an oddball relic from some historic past when love reigned. And then, just like that, out of one of my teenagers’ room, I hear a new song wafting under the door and it catches me in the hall – knowing the voice but not having heard these words before. John Legend’s new ballad “All of Me” has been playing in my head for days now. I wake up in the morning with his soothing tenor voice serenading the start of my day. I think it has been on constant repeat because a few of the lines could be used to define what we do for love when we are open to its power to transform us into the best version of ourselves.
Archive for the 'Earth' Category
If you haven’t yet seen the replay of Kevin Durant dedicating his MVP award to his mother, I urge you to look for this rare, heartfelt tribute to mothering. The selflessness that this NBA star demonstrates for those who have held him up is a direct testament to the loving embrace in which his mother held him. This is the kind of mother’s love that Abraham Lincoln referred to when he said, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.” Truly, a mother’s love is the first love we know and unlike any other relationship we ever have. Those who are born into such a love walk through life differently than the rest of us. The ground under their feet is somehow more solid and the inevitable injuries of life don’t stick in quite the same way. People well loved by their mothers approach relationships differently too, they have more of themselves to give and need less.
I still remember the summer afternoon I met my designer, Benjamin, who has made my work beautiful and real since 2010. He had never answered a Craigslist ad before, but some kind of synchronicity occurred and he called me to set up a meeting, as he was coming down from Portland to sign up another much larger client. He walked into the little house we then used as our office. It was hot because the windows were stuck and closed in the heat. He looked me squarely and asked simply, “Can you change?” I sat for a moment, considering and then said, “Yes, I can change. I think so.” This is the only real question that defines every relationship we are part of, including and most importantly, with ourselves.
Tomorrow starts my tenth Natural Products Expo West show, and yesterday, as I was setting up my booth space I was overcome with both the sweet memories of the decade past and the recognition of the vast shift that has happened to this industry. I started out with many of the best-known national brands in their early stages. We had parties on rebuilt buses and caroused late into the night, sharing inspiring stories of product discoveries, marketing mistakes and miraculous sales opportunities. Brands then were individuals with a passion. Those days are mostly gone as venture capital and corporate takeovers have remolded the landscape and feel of the natural products space. Maybe it is because I am a late bloomer and am just now prepared to take the bold steps of capitalizing Good Clean Love that I am so keenly aware of this shift, or maybe it is the immensity of this expo circus that left me reeling. Whatever it was, I found myself in tears, lost to my sense of accomplishment and direction, coming up short to everything around me.
Ashley Madison founder, Noel Biderman once told me that the biggest day of his year is the day after Valentines day. More women sign up to cheat on their marriages on this day than any other, which is no small thing coming from a guy whose website generates $25K every hour of every average day. The Valentines effect is so potent and inspires so many break ups because the holiday shines a light of authentic, genuine connection that makes our disappointment and frustration in our lovers inescapable. Mind you, those feelings are often percolating for months, or even years, but it is not uncommon for cultural celebrations of love (Christmas and Mother’s Day are not far behind) to clarify and maybe even exaggerate what is broken between us. Many might argue that the Hallmarked and arguably unrealistic expectations for a single day to capture what needs to be done all the time doesn’t help. But the truth is that we all long for a gesture- a perfect gift or carefully penned card to heal the rifts that live between us; for all the many ways our acts of love go unappreciated, unrecognized or worse still unreciprocated day after day.
I was blessed to find myself soaking in the tropical waters in Hawaii this month and remembering again how simple life can be when we live through our senses rather than through our mind. My most magical moments were floating, fully immersed in the gentle surf with only my face exposed to the warmth of the sun. There were no thoughts that could hold me here with my senses fully captivated and charged by the most basic elements of the world. I am home now, and as I prepare to move Good Clean Love out of the small home it has occupied for 7 years into our new professional warehouse and colorful office space, I am reaching back to the magical moments immersed in feeling to guide me. So I offer here as we celebrate letting go of the old and moving into a new year some of the ocean’s abiding lessons.
“Sometimes the most urgent and vital thing you can possibly do is take a complete rest.” -Ashleigh Brilliant
I have always been restless and prone to being busy. I love my work and have, for so long, confused who I am with what I do that most days I find myself doing from dawn until late into the night. Consequently, it has taken me years to learn the true value of rest. In this way, I am a perfect product of a culture that encourages rushing, celebrates the frenzy of the chase and equates resting with laziness. It has taken me decades to understand that rest is not the opposite of effort, rather it is the source, the nourishment, the energetic food for all that we aspire to accomplish. Maybe one of the most compelling forms of wisdom that age offers is the realization that taking time away gives you the perspective and answers that elude you the more you try to force it. Leonardo Da Vinci, once wrote: “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.”
This season I encourage you to celebrate the holiday season in the deepest way possible, and instead of accumulating more, focus the season on the practice of letting go. Start with the physical world and do a holiday closet clean out or drop off the boxes waiting to be donated in the garage. Letting go of what we don’t need materially is a great practice of lightening up and making space around you. Looking at our possessions with new eyes, especially at this time of year where we all mistakenly confuse stuff for love is healing and may save you some money. How many things in that giveaway pile held the promise of making you happy, even momentarily? How many can you really associate with a memorable loving moment? Some things, like my son’s old soccer jacket are hardest to part with, as they act like visceral memories, bringing back the sweet times of his childhood. I have found that letting them go doesn’t actually erase the memories, instead it makes space for what you really want to show up in the here and now.
Sometimes life demands that we bleed. It isn’t enough to feel our painful stories echoing around in our heads; and even the familiar spasm in our backs behind our hearts is not sufficient to release the historic injuries of our childhood, so deeply ingrained that they become us. Sometimes accidents with a knife in the kitchen or slicing one’s foot open on blunt object as I did this week, move pain out of the head and squarely into the body. Five stitches later in my foot and the red swelling of the tetanus reaction are the physical proof of the pain that could no longer be satisfied with words. I had to bleed and limp and be fully immersed in my pain. This is the rationale I have heard about people who cut themselves. Bleeding is a relief; everyone can feel the searing of flesh exposed.
“The chemist who can extract from his heart’s elements compassion, respect, longing, patience, regret, surprise and forgiveness and compound them into one can create that atom which is called love.” - Kahlil Gibran
This last week has been punctuated by an emotional injury that feels like a pinched nerve between my neck and back. It is odd that this unique but persistent pain still catches me off guard after all these years and the many times that it has revisited me on the trips back to my dysfunctional family, or at other moments when I feared losing myself. Over the years, I have gotten to know this particular pain body intimately and am learning how to speak its language, which mostly only wants me to be quiet and listen. It opens up with my tears and softens with a slow chanting prayer. The story of childhood trauma that lodged there might be its trigger, but the wisdom of what that pain body has to teach reaches far beyond what happened years ago. The body is at once the container for unresolved emotions and the vehicle for transmuting them into wisdom.