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rubber-stamp-gift-wrapping

To those who love me:

Had I been told as a teenager my life would turn out this well, I wouldn’t have believed it. While no stranger to pain and heartache, so much good has come to me through the years. I’m grateful. However, it’s so easy to let gratefulness become more knowledge than a sense of things. Grateful can unconsciously become more noun than verb. True gratitude should be action in the present. I’m relearning that.

Being blessed with comfort and possessions, I humbly ask any loved one who is considering giving me a gift for Christmas to reconsider the item. Instead of buying a gift do something simple: give to someone in need, make a craft; a meal (or certificate for one in the future); written good luck wished in a bottle thrown from shore; a kind word of appreciation; share time together;  remember to call on the holiday or any effort that is given from the heart and not a store rack. And if all you do is think of me kindly on the holiday that will be more than enough.

My most hoped for gifts this holiday season are to love and be loved. For every smidgen of affection and caring I receive year round, I am grateful.

We are not cisterns made for hoarding;
we are channels made for sharing.
Billy Graham

Dance in the Moonlight

dance in moonlight

I dance in the moonlight and your ghost in my arms dreaming of what might have been.

I hope that life has been kind to you and that I am not forgotten.

I send warm breezes to kiss your lips that I cannot reach and I envy them.

Time and space has taken their toll, but the memory of you and our lost love lives in the secret places of my heart.

We cannot know what the fates have in store for us as the future has yet to be written.
I wonder, will the paths we choose bring us back to each other or further apart on divergent paths, never to meet again in this life.

I only know that my memories of you warm me like a soft blanket against winters cold grip, comforting me when I feel I can no longer stand strong against the hardness of life.

We will not waste our precious time on ‘what ifs’ but yet in fleeting moments they invade my thoughts without invitation and that is when I dance in the moonlight with your ghost in my arms.

A poem titled “Ghosts” by Sherry Potter
https://goodmorninggratitude.com/2012/08/30/thank-you-sherry/
https://goodmorninggratitude.com/2012/11/25/thinking-there-is-one-more-stair/
https://goodmorninggratitude.com/2012/08/31/thank-you-doug/

You Bring Me Joy

Originally posted September 3, 2012

The years have not caused me to forget. Still there are remnants of feelings strong beyond explanation. You cracked me wide-open and I was never the same again.Was it because you loved me so unwaveringly deep and passionately?

Was it because you were so exotic and intelligent that you were able to enter my heart so easily?

Was it because I filled your need to be loved?

Or you filled mine?

It was all these things and a hundred more. There was a time we found ‘home’ in each other’s arms.

Once in a great while a feeling of loneliness for you, and you only, still touches down to the quick of my heart. Always I smile with hope that you are well and happy. You married in your 30’s and our contact appropriately stopped not too longer after.

Maybe my memory has elevated what we shared to a fantasy beyond fact. Although our love covered a lot of years it was not long when measured in the actual length of time we spent together. But in weight of what was shared we took a trip around the world.

Times change.
People move on.
Some grow together.
Some grow apart.

Some like we knew each other at the wrong time. I was still a boy in a man’s body pretending he knew what he wanted and needed. I pushed you away because I was afraid to be cared about as much as you loved me.

Hidden away safely, even for the time being from myself, is the only physical memory I have of you: the gift you gave me of a small music box shaped like a heart with a beautiful photo of  you inside. It will go to my safe deposit box once I find it again.

I will always be grateful that once I knew you and for the space you occupy in my memories. The pain has long evaporated and today only a sweet memory remains. There has been no greater love in my life. I’m grateful that whenever I hear Anita Baker singing you always come to mind…

If I can’t see your face,
I will remember that smile
’Cause you’re the finest thing
I’ve seen in all my life.
You bring me joy.
From an Anita Baker’s “You Bring Me Joy” by David Lasley

What I Learned About Love the Hard Way

First posted on August 10, 2011  

 1 – Who you marry will affect your life more than you can imagine.  Your life may be better for your choice, worse because of your choice or both at different times.

2 – Divorce hurts more than you can imagine.  If love is truly present it is a kind of death that takes forever.

3 – It really is not difficult to fall in love; it is difficult to stay in love.

4 – There is NO one “soul mate” for each of us in the world.  As a person evolves, grows and changes there are many possibilities over time.

5 – Being swept off your feet by another person is more about what you feel inside about yourself than what the other person feels about you.

6 – Intimacy takes a long time to grow and develop.  It can become very strong, yet it will always be very fragile.  What takes years to build can be destroyed in seconds or with a single choice.

7 – Forgiving is a choice and one you make just as much for yourself as the other person.  Often forgiving someone else is far easier than forgiving your self.

8 – Some of the greatest growth of our lives is in love relationships and a good deal of it comes from pain and heartache.

9 – Just because a good relationship does not last forever does not mean it did not work.  It just means it lasted for its time.

10 – Be sure to learn from a past bad relationship.  What you do not learn will be a lesson taught to you again.

11 – If someone is worth your love, then love them without reservation or restriction.  Give your complete heart.  Don’t hold back.  Give your all.  Giving only part of yourself will only get you a part of the other person.

12 – Every time you loved and were loved there is no mistake.  It was a gift no matter how things may have turned out.

13 – There are few ways in a loving relationship to hurt someone more than being unfaithful.  The wound may heal but there will ALWAYS be a scar.

14 – Don’t fall in love with who you think a person might be someday.  There is a good chance they never will be.  Only fall in love with who someone is now.

15 – No matter how much love is present, you will have bad times.  You will fight, you will disagree, and you will have problems.  It is the human condition.

16 – You can’t love someone you don’t like.

17 – Scars from past love only tell you where you have been.  Be careful judging a present relationship with them.

18 – No person can be everything to you, nor can you be everything to any one person.

19 – No one is perfect.  If you can’t see past some imperfection and bad habits you will be miserable in every relationship.

20 – Everyone wants to be loved, but some people do not know how to love you back.

21 – If you are not a good listener in a relationship, you won’t be heard when you speak.

22 – Secrets are poison and will damage a relationship at the very least and at the most, destroy it.

23 – Let unimportant things go.  Give in.  Forget about it.  If you don’t, you’ll end fighting much more than you should.

24 – Loving someone does not make them a better person.  It makes you a better person.

I am grateful to know these things now.  Lessons learned the hard way, are lessons learned best.  There is deep thankfulness for the ones who loved me who were my teachers.

There is no remedy for love
but to love more.
Henry David Thoreau

Love Letter To Someone I Don’t Know & Never Met

This entry was first posted on August 12, 2011. It is the by far the most read blog of the over 1000 I’ve posted. 

“The Love Letter” painted by August Toulmouche

Recently I have read several articles about old love letters being discovered by people unrelated to the writer or addressee.  In one instance a letter discovered was written 50+ years ago and finally made it to the intended recipient.  Another was a note scribbled 200 years ago and discovered folded up tightly in the arm of an antique chair being restored.  In another example a bundle of love letters from World War I were discovered in an antique shop and the finder was trying to locate the family of either the writer or the one being written to.  Reading these stories brought what may be viewed as a silly thought, but one I followed through on.  I imagined a letter I had written being discovered decades after my death.  I decided to try letting one flow from me that I would be pleased for a future third-party to read and what follows is what flowed without effort from within me.

An old love letter never written from a time long ago to someone I don’t know and never met…..

Dear ________ ,

When we met for the first time is as fresh in my memory as one moment ago.  It was exactly one month ago.  So much has happened in a very short time.  My world is permanently changed. I am altered beyond what I can express with language.  If I never saw you again I would mourn that happening deeply.  Yet what has been awakened within me would remain as a permanent reminder that my heart is not yet dead as I had long thought it was.

How do I express the feelings growing inside me without seeming to be lost in some obvious state of delirium?  “I can not”.  Science says the initial attraction between a man and woman creates a sort of “insanity”.  Then that explains it.  I am insane over you my darling and I revel in my madness.

How well I know that life never brings a path filled only with delight.  To think so is a hallucination.  I know what fills me now will be intertwined with challenge, trial and difficulty.  Am I a lunatic to think now that such moments can be borne with grace upon the back of this love I have discovered?  No.  I am not crazy to think that. What is built in the future upon the rock of what we begun to share, can withstand any force a human can bear.  Of that I am certain.

Yes, I dare speak of love knowing it has not been spoken between us.  Am I am a coward for writing here instead of looking into your eyes as the words are formed by my heart and released through my voice?  Maybe, but my feelings are true.  I write because my poetic soul within is determined to use beautiful words to express itself.  The depths of my feelings demand I can do no less.

Yes, my sweet… I am in love…. with you.  As I write I know as certainly as the moon will rise later tonight and the sun will follow in the morning, what is expressed here in pen and ink is dependable and true.   My restless soul seems to no longer be searching. The purpose of its quest has been found:  YOU!  With complete clarity I say again, I love you ______.   I speak first of what I am nearly certain is within you too.  With all my being I hope my perception is true!

What we are sharing is admirable and sincere.  Our enchantment is real.  Our bliss is genuine.  I know someday when we share the delight of our selves in physical form our delight will be heightened and multiplied beyond what I could have hoped for.  For now I am glad we have resisted what could have happened so easily.  It is a testament that we guard what has been discovered and so want only the best for the gift of love between us.

So please know my sweet darling you have touched me as I have never been touched before.  You have reached me on a deeper level than I thought possible.  It has been said by some that loving another makes them feel more complete, yet I question the accuracy of that.  I do not feel more complete by loving you, but I do feel richer and as if I have discovered so much more of myself through knowing you.  It is as if you were the light I needed in order to glimpse who I really am and all I can be.

After you read this letter, I wonder how you will greet me when next we are together.  My heart vibrates with hope that you will meet me then feeling as I do for you.

I love you my darling,

__________

With much gratitude that I am able to do so, I wrote the above openly and without reservation.  The words traveled from mind to fingers to screen at the moments I thought them just as I thought them without editing.  No longer do I feel the need to hide away any element of my hapless romantic soul.  I no longer fear the real me within and instead here and now express my thankfulness again for it.

A day, a week, a month are past,
Another year is by;
Beside her on the open’d desk,
His old love letters lie.
She reads them till the day-light fades,
And ‘neath the moon-lit sky,
She sleeps at rest, for on her breast
Those old love letters lie.
Auguste Toulmouche

Traces…

my-window-night-rain-c2fb9be2-177a-40c3-8af6-fb082d1f8731Faded photographs
Covered now with lines and creases;
Tickets torn in half
Memories in bits and pieces;
Traces of love long ago
That didn’t work out right;
Traces of love with me tonight.
Buie/Cobb/Gordy/Lee

“Our time” will always be remembered with great reverence. I’ll cherish your expressions of love forever. Your gifts will be treasures that grow perpetually in value. I’ll never stop holding on to “us”.

Did you know I once saved strands of your hair? And then there’s the music I’ll never be able to listen to without memories of you filling my mind while love surges in my heart.

I have felt love for others, but paltry compared to what I felt/feel for you. Amore never blazed so brightly as it did in our embrace. The flame of our great love remains safe within. Curse or blessing, it always will.

Maybe our love was too much for two people to successfully bear.

Maybe we were too different in spite of all we had in common.

Maybe we were not supposed to find our way together.

Maybe we found each other at the wrong time.

Long ago I spent so much time being lost and searching; confused and uncertain of myself. Only when the damage seemed irreparable did I realize the destination my heart wanted and needed had moved out of reach. But that’s okay. the beauty of the lesson remains.

Thank you for loving me. Please keep the memory of our once upon a time love safely tucked away. What’s in my heart for you will always be there in a space reserved for you. Loving you so many years back was one of the lasting lessons that taught me how to love. Thank you.

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year’s bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go,—so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, “There is no memory of him here!”
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.
Edna St. Vincent Millay

Love Letter To Someone I Don’t Know & Never Met

Today offered the opportunity to stroll back through some of the blogs I’ve written over the last four years. While pure fantasy and fiction, this one is a favorite and was originally posted on August 12, 2011. It’s filled with hope, fantasy and love for an imaginary person. Hope you enjoy its’ reboot.

“The Love Letter” painted by August Toulmouche

Recently I have read several articles about old love letters being discovered by people unrelated to the writer or addressee.  In one instance a letter discovered was written 50+ years ago and finally made it to the intended recipient.  Another was a note scribbled 200 years ago and discovered folded up tightly in the arm of an antique chair being restored.  In another example a bundle of love letters from World War I were discovered in an antique shop and the finder was trying to locate the family of either the writer or the one being written to.  Reading these stories brought what may be viewed as a silly thought, but one I followed through on.  I imagined a letter I had written being discovered decades after my death.  I decided to try letting one flow from me that I would be pleased for a future third-party to read and what follows is what flowed without effort from within me.

An old love letter never written from a time long ago to someone I don’t know and never met…..

Dear ________ ,

When we met for the first time is as fresh in my memory as one moment ago.  As of today it was exactly one month ago.  So much has happened in a very short time.  My world is permanently changed and I am altered beyond what I can express with language.  If I never saw you again I would mourn that happening deeply.  Yet what has been awakened within me would remain as a permanent reminder that my heart is not yet dead as I had long thought it was.

How do I express the feelings growing inside me without seeming to be lost in some obvious state of delirium and euphoria?  My answer is “I can not”.  Science says the initial attraction between a man and woman creates a sort of partial insanity.  Then that explains it.  I am insane over you my darling and I revel in my madness.

How well I know that life never brings a path filled only with joy and delight.  To think things are so is a true hallucination.  I know what fills me now will be intertwined with challenge, trial and difficulty.  Am I a lunatic to think now that such moments can be borne with grace upon the back of the love I have discovered?  No.  I do not think I am crazy to think that. What is built in the future upon the rock of what we are sharing, can withstand most any force a human can bear.  Of that I am certain.

Yes, I dare speak of love knowing it has not been spoken between us so far.  Am I am a coward for writing here instead of looking into your eyes as the words are formed by my heart and released through my voice?  Maybe so, but my feelings are true.  I write because my poetic soul within is determined to use beautiful words to express itself.  The depths of my feelings demand I can do no less.

Yes, my sweet… I am in love…. with you.  As I write this letter I know as certainly as the moon will rise later tonight and the sun will follow in the morning, what is expressed here in pen and ink is dependable and true.   My restless soul seems to no longer be searching for something unknown for now the purpose of its quest has been found:  YOU!  Without confusion and with complete clarity I say again, I love you ______.   I speak first of what I am nearly certain is within you in like form.  With all my being I hope my perception is accurate!

What we are sharing is admirable and sincere.  Our enchantment is real.  Our bliss is genuine.  I know someday when we share the delight of our selves in physical form our delight will be heightened and multiplied beyond what I ever could have hoped for.  For now I am glad we have resisted what could have happened so easily.  It is a testament that we guard what has been discovered and so want only the best for the gift of love between us.  May we continue to take the time to build a love strong and lasting while resisting haste.

So please know my sweet darling you have touched me as I have never been touched before.  You have reached me on a deeper level than I thought possible.  It has been said by some that loving another makes them feel more complete, yet I question the accuracy of that.  I do not feel more complete by loving you, but I do feel richer and as if I have discovered so much more of myself through knowing you.  It is as if you were the light I needed in order to glimpse who I really am and all I can be.

After reading this letter, I wonder every minute until then how you will greet me when next we meet.  My heart vibrates with hope that you meet me then knowing you have found a match for what you hold inside for me.

I love you my darling,

__________

With much gratitude that I am able to do so, I wrote the above openly and without reservation.  The words traveled from mind to fingers to screen at the moments I thought them just as I thought them without editing.  No longer do I feel the need to hide away any element of my hapless romantic soul.  I no longer fear the real me within and instead here and now express my thankfulness again for it.

A day, a week, a month are past,
Another year is by;
Beside her on the open’d desk,
His old love letters lie.
She reads them till the day-light fades,
And ‘neath the moon-lit sky,
She sleeps at rest, for on her breast
Those old love letters lie.
Auguste Toulmouche

Learning to Love Myself

Reposted from July 28, 2011:  In retrospect I  clearly see a much different past view of myself than the one visible to me today.  Now when glancing in my mental “rear-view mirror” my old behavior is much easier to explain and understand.  Back then were the days when my feelings were frequently about not measuring up.  No matter what I accomplished it was rarely good enough.  Achievement usually felt flawed.  I frequently nitpicked what was good until there were defects in them I created.

In the past I spent so much time wanting to be loved and hoping love would find me.   My yearning was engulfing. I did not see the special love I sought even when it was before me.  I searched past it for something else. I felt empty and lost.  The reason that love I so desperately sought eluded me was because I wanted someone to fill me up with love, which is not how life works.  What I needed had to happen from the “inside out”.

Those were the days when being alone for more than a few days made me crazy.  I was like some battery that needed to be recharged, but could not charge itself.  The shortage was because I did not love myself.  The energy… the feeling… the charge… I wanted so much-needed to come from within myself.  But I did not know how.

Today I know that loving my self is mainly about self-respect.  It’s the only dependable way I have control over creating love for myself.  In the past when expecting love from an external source, and what I got did not fill my void I felt even worse. No one could love me until I loved myself.  I am able to receive no more love than the amount of love I have for me.

Attending church in my youth was just something I was made to do. Thought I got little from it. Turns out though, there was a bit retained.  Once thing I remember comes from the Bible and the book of Corinthians:

Love is patient,
Love is kind.
It does not envy,
It does not boast,
It is not proud.
It is not rude,
It is not self-seeking,
It is not easily angered,
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
But rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
Always trusts,
Always hopes,
Always perseveres.
Love does not fail.

In secular expression, similar thinking is found in the poem “I Must Love Myself” by J. Earl Evans:

Before I can begin
to love anyone else,
I have to find a way
to first love myself.
Loving myself should be
an easy thing to do.
If I can pat you
on the back,  I can do
the same for me too.
I have to learn to love myself
this is true.
Because no one can love me
as much as I do.
I must find a way
to give myself a break,
and be able  to love myself
no matter what it takes.
I’m not alone
feeling the way I do.
I hope to one day love myself,
just as much as I love you.

I imagine if I thought for a while I could create a fairly long list of the ingredients I used to fall in love with myself (most days anyway).   Highest on the list would be: forgiving my self!  Only by letting go of wrongs done, failings and mistakes could the blemishes I placed on myself begin to fade. It took saying “I’m sorry” to a lot of people.  Too, I learned in some cases there is no good to come of trying to express regret to those wronged.  For some it only makes things worse (a difficult lesson).

As I think of what I am grateful for this morning, what is on the top of my mind is how I feel about myself today.  It has been a rough and painful path to get here, but I am grateful to have found the route.  I feel the best about myself I ever have.  There is a good measure of peace inside me I never knew before.  My life has been blessed in many ways, but none more so that learning how to love myself.  Many helped me get here.  To all those who have and do love me… thank you for kindness and support that kept me on this path of learning to love myself.

The most terrifying thing
is to accept oneself completely.
Carl Gustav Jung

Random Musings on Love

lonely-man-walkingMy heart is open. That is why it can be easily hurt. This does not mean I am weak. Rather, it means I have the courage, in spite of fear, to love with all my heart.

Why do we fall in love knowing that it almost never works out? Simply because we have hope it will or at least that it might.

If there is love, there is always love. We may never see a person again, but true love inscribes itself on the heart like initials carved on a tree. Time weathers it; darkens it and even diminishes it, but the inscription of love always remains. We yearn for true love that’s past in spite of the passing of time.

No matter how long you are gone, you’ll know that I love you and I’ll know that you love me. Love is never past. It is only unpracticed.

Yes, I can fall in love again, but know that love will be intermingled with all the love I have felt before. And in that way the love I can feel for you will be bigger because like a magnet it will attract and bond with my broken pieces of love.

You are pretty. You are fun. You are exciting. And you are dangerous. Why do I love the latter so much?

Love amplifies and magnifies… everything. Good becomes better. Bad becomes worse. And if you’re lucky, you’ll find the pivot point between where love is balanced and can live long.

Love changes people. Loving someone good for you can inspire you to climb toward your highest self. Loving someone bad for you can make you fall to low depths you never wanted to visit. The people you choose to love will either cause you to climb or fall.

Only by making mistakes and hurting people can a person eventually discover the pain of being hurt. Through every wound inflicted an injury is caused to the self.

Love is beautiful and worth the burden of it. Love is the divine work of life. Nothing is more important.

Physical pleasure evaporates in moments almost as if it never happened. Love changes that and makes pleasure into joy that fades slowly.

Yes, I can love you. Can you love me? Can you see that my past is what made me the person I am? The one who loves you. If you love me, truly love me… those I knew and what I did before are necessary because through those experiences I became who I am. Isn’t that who you want to love? The person I am now?

Magic. Tragic. Amazingly beautiful. And horrifyingly ugly; four corners of love. Knowing that, can you still love me without reservation or hesitation knowing I will bring all that to you?

The mystery of love
is greater than
the mystery of death.
Oscar Wilde