Generating fierce feelings of liking and caring for somebody or something, especially a member of your family or a friend, with the confidence and freedom to do things without needing help from others.
Well, that’s close, yet not quite right. Again, it’s more about always remaining true to the human being you are. Let’s try that again.
Generating fierce feelings of liking and caring for somebody or something, especially a member of your family or a friend, with the confidence and freedom to always be true to the human being you are.
There, that’s much better.
Why is the notion of loving fiercely and independently important?
Because if you live your life fiercely, you will do everything fiercely, love included. It works that way. And, it is beautiful.
And, to love fiercely, which is to experience vulnerability, nay, to practice it, is also beautiful; and, to do so always remaining true to the human being you are now and will be in the future is also beautiful.
Here is how Brené Brown describes loving fiercely.
“To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But, I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace.”
You may be asking yourself, okay, and if we become dependent?
Becoming dependent on another human being happens. In fact, it, at some point, happens to us all. Yep, that is true.
Yet, we can remain true to our independent self, while also being dependent. A paradox? Yep.
In this context, independence is more about being your true self, today, and always. And, even if you are dependent on another human being, you can retain your true self, thus continuing to be independent.
And, what happens when we become dependent, while not remaining true to our own true self?
Right. Well, we lose ourselves in the process. Or, rather, it is more like we bury our true selves under tons of emotional debris. It is very hard to begin the process of finding our true selves when buried that deep.
Yet, it is possible.
The most important thing to note is that it is the awareness that is missing.
Thus, loving fiercely while also remaining true to our true self for many remains a paradox in language, and, more than likely, in practice.
This paradox is especially true in the United States where we are socialized with a very narrow view of love, called romantic love, which, in the end, can become more like attachment. The issue?
Well, when we are attached, dependency follows, and then? We end up sacrificing the true self we know ourselves to be. Not all at once. Nope.
Yet, over time, without an awareness on how attachment and dependency function, it happens that our true self becomes, as was aforementioned, buried. Phew. Difficult.
Loving fiercely is a wonderful experience, the scope of which includes much more than romantic love.
It starts with us. How we treat our bodies and minds, which is exactly how we will treat others. Yep.
Love is such a beautiful experience. When we love all there is to love about, well, ourselves, each other, every person, and thing on this planet, it is magical. Really.
And, when we do so, while also taking care to always retain and honor our true self, guess what?
The love we hold for ourselves, and for others, is also more true. Why?
Because we are not sacrificing our true self for others. We are always true to our true self. Doing the opposite is a road full of pain and suffering.
Love you first.
Love everything about you, the way you look, the way you are, the way you feel, all of the ways you occur. You are just as you are supposed to be. Right now, at this very moment. Just so.
When we really get that and feel it for ourselves, it goes out from us and spreads to everyone and everything else. Yep.
We send love inward, and it radiates outwards. A beautiful experience. Love firecily. You did, do, and will always deserve it.
Sitting on the porch, rocking back and forth, I reflect upon the birth of my sons. It feels like yesterday. Just a moment ago. And, then, flash, I am 46, they are 20, and 16. What happened?
Growing up in Los Angeles was for a long time something that I took for granted. I remember the first time I traveled across the country, via car. I said something to my buddy like, wow, it all looks like San Bernardino.
If you’ve been to Southern California, and spent anytime at all in the desert areas, of which San Bernadino is a part, you will get that reference. If not. Well, let’s just say that I had an idea in my head that all places looked like Los Angeles. Not so.
Justin was born in 2000. I was 26. At the time, I remember thinking, jeez, I’m old, better hurry up and have kids, buy a house, live that American Dream everyone’s talking about. Really. WOW. I was young, not old.
We lived in two different apartments when Justin was little. First halloweens, first christmas, first-time parents. Phew. At that time, I worked close. I did work long hours, however, the work was very flexible.
I remember when I got the call. I was on my delivery truck, called my boss and said, Justin’s coming. I’ve got to go. They covered me.
So excited, nervous, anxious, joyful. All at the same time. Justin was born quick. Very, quick.
Bringing him home was so nerve racking. What if I do something wrong? What if something happens? Well, my mother-in-law stayed with us for a week or two, and I called my mom regularly. Drawing upon the support we had. Very lucky to have it.
Anyway, we did end up purchasing a house when Justin was 4. Jason was born shortly thereafter. Only 4 years separate the two boys, and yet, we were completely caught off guard by having another child. Not prepared at all. Phew.
We did like many people do. We moved forward, did the best we could, and loved them both unconditionally.
I loved when they were little. Though I worked a lot, it was so much fun to see them play in the yard, play with our dog.
Build things, tear things apart, be free.
Though we only lived in that house for 4 years, we did so many things together there. My memories of that time are so vivid. Possibly those memories are so vivid, as we were building a life.
Just starting out. Knew very little about what we were doing, yet we drew upon what we were taught, and created the rest. Filled the gaps.
First house, first backyard, first garage, first-time having neighbors in a house. All so new. The house was so small, yet had a huge lot. Was so great for the boys. Tons of space to roam and play.
That house was quite a ways from our extended family. 46 miles. Which, at the time, was like 5,000 miles.
You have to understand that, especially for me, we grew up in families where most people stayed very local.
All good. We took the boys to LA regularly to see their grandparents. We even sent Jenn and the boys to AZ, where her parents lived, so they could also visit them.
I remember the first time I took the Amtrak. What a different experience. Was fun. Back then you could actually smoke on a train. In a smoking car. Yep, they had those then.
When Justin was 5 or so, and Jason was 1 or 2, we decided to sell and move to AZ. It was right before the housing crash. Really. Within two years that house we bought for $150,000 and sold for $370,000, was once again worth $150,000. Crazy.
We bought a house in Surprise AZ, and I went to work for US Foodservice. Huge company. Good training program, lots of work. During this time, Justin was in third grade, and Jason was spending portions of his day at a babysitter. We both worked, did, and still do. Normal.
Third grade was a difficult one for Justin. New school, new kids, new context, new State. Very different from where we were from. As with most things, there were those things we liked about AZ, and those we did not.
Beautiful winters, HOT summers. Still, there is something quite majestic about the desert. Really. If you’ve not spent a lot of time in the desert, check it out.
We were only in that house for 1.5 years. Housing crash. Foreclosure. Emotionally trying. Actually, in every way that time was challenging mentally, physically, and emotionally.
What does it mean to “lose” a home? Difficult. We were, of course, not alone. Many, many, people were in the same position in 2007 and 2008.
The home we ended up renting was only around the corner. Helped, in that Justin could stay in the same school. They both played outside a lot with the neighborhood kids. Fun, and fun to watch.
Well, let’s save that for Part 2. I’ll end with saying that being a father to two beautiful boys has been and is one of the greatest experiences of my life. And, I wouldn’t have shared it with anyone other than Jenn.
Being a father. Beautiful, wonderful, lovely, and hard, frustrating, and scary. Still is. More on that later. 🙂
Vulnerability is a wonderful gift. When we choose vulnerability over fear, we open ourselves up to learn more about ourselves and all of humanity.
For a long time I chose fear. Not so today. In the spirit of vulnerability, here is a video I created last week on the importance of being vulnerable.
I am inspired by everyone in my life, and everyone I meet. All of them. This past week, I was particularly inspired by a colleague of mine. Terri Houde is a Corporate Trainer, works on our team, and created the following video about an upcoming video series. Check out vulnerability in action. Inspiring.
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” -Helen Keller
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” “People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses.” – BRENÉ BROWN
I love the ocean. Love. Growing up in Southern California meant that the ocean was never far away, and was, in some way, part of your life. I have tons of memories of going to the beach with my parents as a kid, as a teenager with friends, and less so as an adult, though I have many memories of the time I worked at the beach.
The smell of the salted sea is one of the most profound of those memories. I also always had an inner knowing that it would be there. Just to drive by and take it in, and in those moments, to live in awe and wonder.
As a kid, we took family trips to the beach often. We lived about 30 miles from the beach, which, at that time, was about a 45-minute drive. My sisters, parents, and I would set up in the sand, towels demarcating your space for the day. Then we would play, in the sand and, of course, in the water.
On the way home from the beach, we would always stop for “big sticks.” if you’ve not had a big stick, you are missing out. Well, at least the 7 year-old within me thinks so. These ice cream treats are made out of pineapple and orange, and are delicious on a hot sunny day. Just make sure to not forget them in the car when you get home. They are not so good once they’ve melted, though I’ve eaten many that way.
As I grew older my longing to be at the beach grew. I would often go with friends in the morning, afternoon, or early evening. The time of day mattered less than being there, though you get a different experience dependent on the time you go.
There is something so calming about looking out over the open sea. The vastness of the ocean, it’s size and depth, is hard to comprehend. However, just looking out over it, you, or at least I do, get a sense of the scope of your own self in relation to something that size. Humbling.
When I was a young adult, I used to drive to the beach just to take in the majesty of the open water. On days that were particularly difficult, seeing the ocean created a renewed perspective for me, reminding me that my immediate woes were temporary.
As I’ve mentioned, I also worked at the beach for a time, only blocks from the open water. Drives home during that time were particularly beautiful, taking in the ocean as the sun was beginning to dip behind the horizon. Beautiful, and breathtaking.
When our first child born was little we used to take him to the beach often. He would play in the sand, run around, make sand castles, and splash in the water and waves, just as I did when I was his age.
When our youngest was born, we decided to move from Southern California to Arizona, so our youngest son did not get to know the ocean as his brother, mother, and myself did. Though, he has since, and loves it as we all do.
I remember being in Arizona those first couple of months, being away from the ocean, with no real possibility of seeing or experiencing it. I have to say that that first year, I did have some increased anxiety about being away from the ocean. I felt as if I was boxed in, or in some way limited, without access to the ocean, which I had so come to cherish.
When we decided to move to Oregon, and I was looking into the local culture, I remember finding that the ocean was only 50 miles from where we were moving. Oh Joy! I was so excited. Going to the coast, which is what they call the beach in Oregon, was one of the first things we did, once we were settled.
We’ve take many trips to the Oregon Coast since then, and I do now know that I will, at some point, live, or have a place, at the beach or coast. This I know, like I know that I breathe.
On one of the last trips we made to the coast, sometime at the beginning of last year, I recognized something that I had not thought about, nor really heard in a long time. The sound of the ocean.
Do you remember being little, and picking up a cool seashell, and having someone say, “put it to your ear, and you can hear the ocean.” I remember the first time someone said that to me. I was perplexed, and very little. I did as they instructed, and sure enough, I could hear the ocean. Wow! How cool that was, and how could that be?
Knowing that the shell was capturing ambient noise, was not so important then, nor is it much important now, for it is the memory of the sound, which focused and drew my attention in. As I’ve written here, I’ve always been drawn to the ocean, and part of that draw is the majesty, the beauty, and the vastness. And, it is also the sound.
I love the sound of the ocean, the waves coming in, and going back out. Crashing on the beach head, and against other surf, splashing against the reef, and breakwater. Lovely.
On that trip last year, I also realized something else. The sound of those waves coming in and going back out, I realized were a mirror for our own breath. It sounds exactly like our breathing. Just like it. When I recognized this on that last trip, it was one of the most beautiful realizations I’ve ever had.
Maybe that is part of why I am drawn to the ocean. Because it lives and breathes just like we do. The waves come in and they go back out, in, and out. Just like our breath. It just happens.
I believe we are connected to everything around us. A tree, the sun and moon, the ocean, all of these things live outside of us, and they also live inside of us. All made of the same elements.
I’m so glad that I had that realization last year. It has taken my lifelong love of the ocean and amplified it. Though I don’t get to the coast or beach as often as I like, they are always with me, and within me. I know this to be true. And to be close to the ocean, all I have to do is pay attention to my breathing, and the ocean comes alive. Breathing in and out, just like the waves coming in and out. Again, and again.