10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There) is a program to help us develop habits to grow a joyful spirit. Many of us sabotage our happiness by habits that we might not even be aware of. Identifying and changing these habits can build a reservoir of well-being to enhance our happy times and sustain us during challenging times.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Today is Valentine’s Day in the US, a day of celebration for companies that make candy, jewelry, cards, and anything shaped like a heart.
It’s a day of pressure to be romantic for those involved in relationships, and a day of disappointment for some who are not.
It has got me thinking about love, not just romantic love, all kinds of love. For example, when my foster daughter joined our family, there was something beautiful in her spirit that I could see had been nurtured in spite of her difficult childhood. I told her that someone must have loved her very much and asked her if she knew who that was. Without hesitation, she answered that it was her Grammy.
All of us are loved now or have been loved at some time, I think, deeply. Whatever else you might be doing with this day, I thought it could be a great day to celebrate someone who loves us, or who loved us in the past.
I’ll start by celebrating Ernie, a dog we had for a brief time when I was a little girl. Ernie was a small dog, but like many small dogs, he thought he was very big. And he loved me with fierce devotion. Too fierce, unfortunately. Although he was a family dog, he singled me out for his exclusive affection...and protection.
Once when we were at a nearby lake for a weekend of recreation, we took off for a boat ride. Ernie was left behind at the cabin, but just as we pulled away from the dock he raced down the ramp and started barking, alarmed at seeing me out of reach. Confident that others at the cabin would retrieve him, we continued on our way, but I looked back just in time to see my tiny knight, who hated water, hurl himself into the lake and start paddling in our wake, determined to save me. I had a frantic fit until the boat was turned around and we went back to fish him out of the water. I held him shivering in my lap for the rest of the ride.
Another time, I was standing in the kitchen talking with my sister. Ernie was jumping and yipping for my attention, but I was ignoring him in favor of the conversation. Then he got quiet. A moment later, my sister looked down and wailed, “He peed on me!” Sure enough, her ankle and foot were soaked.
As you can guess, Ernie did not ingratiate himself with the rest of the family like he did with me. The final straw was when he started biting anyone who came near me. Ernie’s time with our family came to an end. Nobody missed him but me, but I missed him mightily. His devotion might have been expressed in unacceptable ways, but he made me feel special. As a child who was sometimes desperate for friends, I could count on him. I knew without question that he had my back, and I felt safe in his company.
Will you share with us someone whose love fills or filled your spirit – a family member, partner, pet, diety, friend, anyone?
As a Valentine bonus, here is a short video of one of my favorite love stories, about Christian the lion. This true story is well known, and perhaps you have run across it on my blog or elsewhere, but watch it again, or for the first time, and marvel at the power of love.
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When I was a little girl, we had a St. Bernard named Helga. She would walk me to the bus stop in the morning, and when the bus brought me home from school each afternoon, there she was waiting for me. She was the sweetest dog. She never bit or even snapped at anyone...ever. When someone would come to our house for the first time, if they spotted Helga sitting at the front door, they were too afraid to get out of their car because she was so big, but as a family, we would kind of think it was funny because Helga wouldn't hurt a fly. One day, when Helga was getting older, a family acquaintance came over. He was about 19 and I was 11. We were out in the garage, just kidding around, and he thought it would be funny to pick up my dad's hunting knife and lift it above his head. Helga, who had been quietly resting on the floor, jumped up and lunged at him, growling and barking! I never saw her act that way before or after. She definitely had my back!ReplyDelete
Kim, What a wonderful story. Dogs are just amazing, aren't they? Thanks for sharing.Delete
A beautiful and touching post for Valentine's, Galen! I have my Danny, and am so blessed and thankful for his love.ReplyDelete
Happy Valentine's Day to you!
Martha, So glad that you have a special Valentine!Delete
lovely post. Made me feel sad for Emie.ReplyDelete
My husband is the one who has loved me the most unconditionally. i'm not just referring to a romantic love here either, though that's part of it. But I'm most grateful for his support and confidence in me, for making me so important in his life, and for connecting with me on a spiritual level. He has taught me much about loving myself and I trust his love unconditionally. I am grateful.
I hope there's love in everyone's life. May yours be filled with it always. Happy Day.
Myrna, That is the most loving description of a spouse I have ever read. I'm so happy for you. Thanks for commenting.Delete
I love your story of Ernie! I'm sorry it didn't work out for him to stay with you.ReplyDelete
The person that I have felt the most loved by--unconditionally--is my husband Larry. With my mental health issues, I know I'm not always easy to live with. But he has stood by me and loved me and used his gentle humor and kindness to help keep me anchored.
Tina, When someone stands by us through difficult times, when someone honors the vow to remain steadfast in sickness and in health, then that is truly a gift. I'm so happy for you. Thanks for your comment.Delete
That video always moves me Galen - no matter how many times I see it. :)ReplyDelete
Yes indeed, love holds no limits, and it reminds me of the movie Born Free I had seen years back too. Ernie is so-so much like my pet, though he's not yet reached the stage of biting, but doesn't take on to strangers. I guess their love is something only they know and we know, no third person can really understand it.
Love has many forms, just as I've been writing about it in the love series past few weeks on my blog. And love is just love - nothing more or less, which is what you can feel for anyone or anything too. Yes, I love my husband unconditionally, and my kids too besides other things. :)
Thanks for sharing this with us. Happy Valentine's day to you :)
Harleena, You write so many beautiful posts about love. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.Delete
Lovely, divine stuff. Hope your day was full of affection in all directions.ReplyDelete
Mikey, Well, my day was full of court proceedings, and not very affectionate ones, at that. But thankfully, that sort of day is an anomaly. Thanks for commenting.Delete
When l was a child: my gran, my dear special gran. She taught me so much and has shaped who l am today. As a grown up: my husband. He is a very special person and the one and only for me. Always a smile, always a kind word, always a hug when l need it. wishing you a good weekend :-) PamReplyDelete
All my grandparents died before I was born. I always felt like I missed out on something very special. Thanks for sharing your special folks with us.Delete
I hope you had a nice Valentine's Day!
Your story about Ernie got me thinking about a program I watched on a television a few weeks ago about dogs. I've never had a dog but this program showed just how clever and loyal dogs are.
They can be the most caring of companions, more than humans in some cases!
One case study was about a woman who had breast cancer, although she didn't know it. The way she found out was from her dog's behaviour. He dog had suddenly become very quiet, a bit depressed and stopped going to his owner. It was then she noticed a small lump on her breast. Her dog knew a long while before she did. She had the cancer treated and suddenly her dog was back to his normal self again.
Hiten, Dogs are being used now in the field of medicine in some amazing ways. They can sense when someone is about to have an epileptic seizure, warning the person so the person can get into a safe position. They can also smell certain cancers, as you described, long before the cancer will turn up in any test. I read a fascinating book about the history of the special bond between people and dogs. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Hard to pick any single person, Galen. My world is filled with my loving family and friends and I cherish them every single day of the year. But I miss my Mom the most. Feb 8 this year was three years since she passed and I miss her very very much.ReplyDelete
The photo is so adorable and so is the video. I've seen it several times. Amazing.
Glad you are in my world. Happy Valentine's Day to you. Love and hugs, Vidya
Vidya, No need to pick a single person. We can celebrate all the people who love us so deeply. I know you miss your mom. It's clear from everything you've written about her that she was truly a special person. No surprise that she had such a special daughter. Glad you liked the photo and the video. My favorites, too! Thanks for commenting.Delete
I married that love of my life and he loves me back..that is as good as it can get!ReplyDelete
Annmarie, It doesn't get better than that! Thanks for your comment.Delete
My friend Phillip who I met in college - just made me feel so loved. His family was Quaker and they helped me sort out many of the directions I would head in my life. Phillip had Cystic Fibrosis and found that he could get better and less expensive care (plus having a sauna on every corner) in Sweden so he moved there to teach and to die.ReplyDelete
He did not have conditions on his love, I try to match his spirit to respect all for just who they are right now...I do think that was his most precious message - he gave us a living example of love.
Patricia, What a sweet story. Thank you so much for sharing it.Delete
WoW! You really don't like Valentine's Day, do you? Hah!ReplyDelete
I don't think love coming in from the outside can 'fill my spirit' -- only love from the inside can do that. Although Mr. C makes me think & feel wonderful things about myself which feed the filling of my spirit from inside of me. Maybe that's what you mean??
Happy Valentine's Day!! XOXOXO
Linda, I get your point. I think I can open my spirit to receive love that is offered to it, but I can just as easily use the image you suggest of filling my own spirit. Thanks for commenting.Delete
I had a boyfriend in high school who used to turn all the heat vents in the car on me in the wintertime. i thought that was so selfless and thoughtful.ReplyDelete
Jodi, That is so sweet! What a young gentleman. Thanks for your comment.Delete
My Mom was a fountain of never-ending love to me (and my siblings). Her love was a soft kind of love that made us feel special and appreciated. I remember when we were in elementary school, she would take one of us kids out of school for a day each month to spend one-on-one time with us. She felt she wasn't getting it when all her children (4 of us) were there together. This spoke volumes of love to us. We felt she cherished us and actually wanted to be around us. It had such an impact on me that I've continued the practice with our own kids.
Ken, I love the fact that you carry on this tradition with your own kids. Knowing that this is a practice you carried forward from your own mom will make their individual time with you even more special to them. Thanks for commenting.Delete
My dad never said, "I love you," but I knew from all he did that he loved me to the core.ReplyDelete
Tom, It's true that actions speak louder than words, isn't it?! Thanks for commenting.Delete
Hello Galen. Thanks for checkIng back with me - really appreciate it. Doing ok thanks working spending time with family and friends taking life a day at a time. MalReplyDelete
Mal, Glad to catch up with you. Thanks for stopping by.Delete
What a perfect video, I still have a well spring of happy tears! Thank you so much for sharing this. I hope your Valentine's Day was glorious!ReplyDelete
Karen, There are so many videos, and longer ones, and interviews and more. I can't seem to get enough of this story. Thanks for your comment.Delete
This was a sweet post and I saved the video. We have a dog right now that loves my husband so much and he is so devoted to him. He is OK with me and does sit by only me when we are watching TV; otherwise he's my husbands dog. He has such a cute personality and they are so cute together. The one thing he does that is so adorable is whenever my husband get's stressed in his office; he hops on his lap and or he brings a toy to him; meaning he wants to play. He has been a great stress reliever. I loved your story and it brought back memories of two dogs in my life that were very devoted and loved just me. My husband gave us both a Valentines gift; the dogs with a new toy.ReplyDelete
Blessings on this one!
Blessings to you!
LeAnn, Dogs have always been a big part of my life. Thanks for sharing your stories.Delete
Beautiful post. It truly is a wonderful video you have posted here. I think that Valentines day can be everyday when we instill the love from within. Very nice post.ReplyDelete
Kim, Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed the video. You can google Christian the lion and find lots more! Thanks for commenting.Delete
I smiled all the way through reading this! I don't have quite the same memories of love from my childhood, but I've had many moments in spiritual teachings when love unfolded. I feel so fortunate indeed.ReplyDelete
Sandra, I would love to hear about one of those moments if you feel like sharing one. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Loved this post! Hmm I'd say my children's love fill my spirit with light and warmth. It's such a pure and unconditional love.ReplyDelete
Jessica, Yes, children offer that kind of love. I remember going to pick up my son at preschool, and seeing his face light up when he saw me. Thanks for your comment.Delete
I don't think I could exist without it. I do know many people who will not give it a chance, however. Great post, Galen!ReplyDelete
JJ, I can think of one such person right now. Very sad. Thanks for your kind words.Delete
I loved reading this, Galen. Ernie sure was a character, huh? ;)ReplyDelete
Corinne, He was a character indeed. I hope he had a good life and learned to behave a little better! Thanks for commenting.Delete
I currently have a little Bichon Shitzu who I love with all my heart and he is just as devoted to me. I have be off work for 3 1/2 years due to a work injury and subsequent back surgery. My "Little Man" has been my best therapy. When I think of one day losing him, it breaks my heart. I have had other pets, but none I've loved like him.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your story and so sorry you had to give up your puppy.