When I write in my journal I often write out and say “I am love. I am loved. I am a reflection of God’s love.” I have been thinking about what those words have done for me in the past year or so. I am cringing, resisting, opening, and surrendering all at the same time when I am now experiencing love in my body. It feels very visceral because I am resonating with the practice of love and recognizing it beyond the conceptualizations of romantic love. I think I have felt more alive and present in most of my relationships because of this practice and recognition. I thank my friends who I have conversations with that have expanded my understanding of love. They teach me to be fearless, open, gentle, wild, and receptive to the transformative nature of love. Prayer, meditation, journaling, music that brings me a sense of pleasure, flower essences, and conversations have deepened my emotional intimacy and other aspects of how I am redefining love.
There have been moments in the past couple years where love has reminded me of my capacity to hold it, relearn it, open up to it, receive, and give it back over and over. Love has made its presence clear for me not even in a romantic sense, yet lol but in every single thing I do. Moving in love is real and others feel that through your presence, your tone, devotion, and choice to be about that action. I have tried to intellectualize love, make sense of it all of my life but now I am bringing more of my attention to how love moves through me.
When you are in the practice of loving your friends, for example, texting and saying “I love you” instead of “love you” transforms how you move with them and it pours back into you and everyone else you encounter. I learned that claiming love does not put myself at a disadvantage which is something I have to constantly unlearn. Love has made me reevaluate my needs, what I no longer tolerate, and what I am willing to let go of to experience more of it. Love has shown me how warm and radiant it can feel when expressing what’s on your heart honestly.
I remembered love through the intimate moments found in my relationships. Nao repeats “I pray for something more than just physical” in her song “Antidote”. Although I believe this is said in the context of a romantic relationship, that line resonates with me because I am witnessing the evolution, pause, and rebirth of the relationships in my life that surpass anything physical or surface level.
Here are some ways I feel loved + co-create love within my friendships (in no particular order):
I remember love when I noticed how full my friend gave and received hugs. It’s always a warm embrace when we see each other. She brought my attention to how I received hugs and which made me think of how I receive physical affection. She helped me reimagine physical touch beyond the construct of a romantic relationship. How we speak with each other carries its own language where we just know what’s up amongst the collective and in our hearts, body, mind, and soul. Sister signs through and through!
I remember love in the safety and reflections of the presence of my male friend. I think I highlight “male friend” because the possibility of having a healthy and transformative platonic friendship is a topic the collective needs to discuss more. It was not until a couple months out of college that I realized how much I am able to talk my “ish” when we link up for tea and walk to a nearby park to discuss what’s naturally coming up for us. You make that possible because this friendship brings a sense of safety, vulnerability, authenticity, and emotional intimacy with each laugh and word we share.
I remember love during our check-ins when we dive into the depths of where we are emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Sharing healing modalities. Seeing each other’s wholeness in real time and allowing vulnerability to show up for us in each moment. How you carry yourself, rooted in integrity reminds me to return to self and my community that makes it possible to be me. Love looks good on everyone but you embody it so beautifully! Cheers to infinite love, self-healing, fierce compassion, open and soft love!
I remembered love by living with you! Sharing a home with someone has never felt this easeful. Time spent together has brought laughter, honest communication, care, encouragement, and so much more. The home amplified the love but love was found in how our friendship slowly transformed in college. Looking back on how our friendship came to be reminded me that love isn’t something you can plan for nor imagine the depth of until it is reflecting back at you in the present moment.
I did imagine being close to these folks in my mind before we became friends but I could have never imagined the actual reality of how beautiful these friendships make me feel and how naturally we show up for each other. Of course, my love extends beyond the friends mentioned above!
If you haven’t checked out my reflections on All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks, take this moment, check out my Instagram, like the post and/or share it so I can know you’re present with me. I bring up All About Love for obvious reasons but my introduction to this foundational book was in the beginning of college where I was curious and questioning if I was going to find the key to know how to love properly. I bought the book from the bookstore sophomore year hoping to read it soon but never got to it. When I think back I was a bit scared to see what hooks would reveal about the wholeness, honesty, and the integrity of love. So for two years I forgot, remembered, stared, touched, and misplaced the book. I was playing a silly game of when I am ready to understand love for real then I can read the book and life would make more sense to me. The understanding, feelings, and embodiment of love is not linear so I laugh when I try to bring a rational or methodical approach to love. Fast forward to the summer of 2020, whew chile, to say the least, I saw @sistersofsun, “a co healing space for Black women to be their authentic selves”, post their book club would be reading All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks. I sensed an immediate, urgent, and enthusiastic “YES!” in my body. This was the time to deepen what All About Love was all about. I wanted to use Part II to share most of my takeaways from the book but it was giving analytical paper than anything else. So I decided to write 23 lessons that love has revealed to me through reading All About Love and listening to my heart within these past few years. *cues "remembering love" playlist*
1. “Love and abuse cannot coexist.” Notice how you may entertain if love and abuse can coexist. Gently explore this with support from your community and mental health professional!
2. Redefining what love is for me and how it feels in my nervous system has helped me recognize its presence.
3. Hooks’ definition of love, “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth” grounded the way I experience love.
4. Love is a verb, an action, an on-going commitment, a practice, and a choice.
5. Love is a humbling experience, there’s no entitlement to one’s time, life, or reciprocation of love. Remember your willingness to have an open heart may not always welcome the love you need and that is okay. Moving on and know that love is infinite is key!
6. Love needs to be soft and tender! Tough love is a no for me!
7. Love is PATIENT.
8. One can’t control how you experience love; how the experience of love unfolds for you may be greater than what you imagined for yourself. Release control and attachment to any outcome.
9. I feel loved when I am seen for my wholeness! As in taking in the different aspects of me and not being fixated with who you assume me to be based on my Instagram or in your head.
10. Love has allowed me to accept others for who they truly are and not who I idealize them to be.
11. My willingness to love reveals what inner work I need to bring my attention to...that’s where the next level of work continues.
12. Practicing honesty with how I feel and communicating those feelings without thinking I am “doing too much” is always the hardest but that is how I incorporate radical honesty into my relationships.
13. PATIENCE + DISCERNMENT + TRUST. That’s it. Unpack that one for yourself!
14. There is so much inner work to remove guilt and shame around vulnerability. You showing up in your truth should not be compromised or devalued because someone else is not ready to hold space for you.
15. Boundaries exist where Love resides.
16. Love is not found only in “the one”. Love is not finite. “The one” is someone you decide to commit to as love is a choice. You are an active and present participant of the “loving” that exists in the relationships you co-create with whoever.
17. “If you do not know what you feel, then it is difficult to choose love; it is better to fall.” This line from the book brought me back to a recent conversation where a friend of mine who reframed how falling in love removes the autonomy we have to choose and to learn love. I think that synced very well to the quote above! “Learning to love > Falling in love” - Bennu!
18. “Love knows no shame. To be loving is to be open to grief, to be touched by sorrow, even sorrow that is unending. The way we grieve is informed by whether we know love.” To experience grief is a testament to how deep you love.
19. Moving with an open heart is not always love and light. (Related to #11) To embody love is also to know grief, sorrow, and all the feels. Now, I do not believe you need to suffer to experience love. I am still unpacking this for myself.
20. “When we allow our dead to be forgotten, we fall prey to the notion that the end of embodied life corresponds to the death of the spirit.”
21. Becoming aware and learning how I love does make me confident to name I would like a romantic relationship. Also, I am realizing I had to unpack the shame and even embarrassment I felt in desiring and naming I would like to experience a relationship. It is okay to want to be in a relationship but what are your intentions to cultivate this partnership? What needs are you seeking from this partnership? Getting clear on my growing + ever changing personal, friendship, and romantic needs make desiring a relationship more realistic for me.
22. Love is work.
23. I’m leaving you with this prompt...as always....how does love feel in your nervous system? Is it a familiar or unfamiliar feeling to you? Note, something that is familiar or comfortable doesn’t always mean it is good for you. Tap into Discernment + Intuition for this one! No one can tell you how love feels in your body but you. Time to go inward to open your heart!
Quick fact: When I read this for the first time, “Chapter 11: Loss: Loving Into Life and Death” was my favorite to read! I’m open to hearing what chapter was your favorite and what other thoughts you have about this journal entry.
Feel free to comment below or DM me on Instagram with your thoughts, comments, and feels!
If you are interested in diving deeper beyond this journal entry, join me Sunday, November 7th at 4:00 PM ET for Journaling for An Open Heart. Sign up here!