Shine the Divine:

Creativity IS a Spiritual Practice

When we see through our hearts, we recognize that every single one of us is infused with creativity. Divine Sparks are embedded in everyone and everything. It's up to us to be courageous, to look and listen deeply, to find the sparks, gather and release them back into the universe, transformed into something new. Join me as we wake up to the sacred-ordinary blessings waiting to greet us each and every day.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Love Beats Hate: My Essence Is LOVE

When I was a little girl, I remember being angry with one of my siblings (I can’t remember which one now there are four of us) and saying, “I hate you!” My Nana took me aside and made it clear to me that we don’t use the “H” word. It is ok to be angry, to be unhappy with someone, disappointed, to disagree, but hate is a very powerful word and destructive emotion, one not to be used as a weapon against anyone, ever!

These were not her exact words, but my adult adaptation of her teaching. I went through periods of time as a teenager and young woman when the thought, “I hate my body” was incredibly destructive. I did not direct those feelings towards others, but towards myself. It was a brutal war within.

It took many, years to soften my heart toward myself and finally understand that the lesson Nana had instilled when I was tiny, applied to me too. This is not something I’ve spoken about publicly before, but I did battle anorexia, and you know what helped me win? Love.

From the time I was 15 until I was 31, I struggled on and off with this vicious self directed hatred. Sixteen years is a long time to ingrain harmful thoughts and behaviors and it took time, patience, courage and the help of others initially to guide me back to what was really true about me, about all of us; our essence is LOVE.

Talk therapy was a starting place, but what really healed my wounds was mindfulness and lovingkindness. Noticing when I was being unkind. Paying attention to what triggered the inner story I'd created. Gradually, the story shifted. I started to believe my husband’s words “You are beautiful”... “I love you” ...more than my harmful thoughts. I started to appreciate the unconditional love of my babies toward me... and finally it began to dawn on me that maybe I really was worthy of love after all. 

Prayer, meditation and yoga were all integral to the return of self love I had denied myself as a teenager and recovered as a young mother. These practices taught me to stay present in my body, to listen and look at my fears of not being “good enough” and recognize that I was, had always been, still am. 

I began to see my radiance, my light, my inner beauty, Divinity within the wholeness of ME. I changed. I healed. I grew expansive, in a wise, skillful, soulful way. As frequent readers of this blog know, I now live in this very same body that ironically has an immune system that attacks itself in the form of multiple sclerosis. Being physically ill has added new challenges to loving my body as it is over the past ten years of chronic illness.  This seems to be a recurring theme in my life's journey. The tools I learned when I was young (and continue to cultivate) cradle me through this time in my life too. I love this beautiful vessel that holds my soul. I feed it well not only with nourishing foods but with healthy, kind and nurturing thoughts.

Love Beats Hate is a world wide blogging event that is happening today. It is an invitation with an intention to speak up for marginalized groups. I think as women, we self-marginalize. We separate ourselves from others using food as our weapon…either eating too much or not enough because we just don’t believe WE are enough. We become our own enemies and hate festers inside of us. So I am choosing to speak up for those of us who have struggled with body image and raising a new battle cry:

“I am a shining light, and my presence in the world adds beauty to all of existence. My essence is LOVE."

(As much as I am a pacifist at heart, this is a war worth fighting for…and the “weapon” of choice, is clearly love.)

Here's something all of us can do, whether we struggle with body image, or some other damaging belief about ourselves. 

1. Write this on a slip of paper and tape it to your bathroom mirror, then at least twice a day when you go to brush your teeth you will see this truth. 
“I am a shining light, and my presence in the world adds beauty to all of existence. My essence is LOVE."
2. Say the words aloud to yourself while gazing upon your own precious face. 
“I am a shining light, and my presence in the world adds beauty to all of existence. My essence is LOVE."
3. Look into your eyes, one then the other. Take in the whole of your face and smile from your heart at your uniqueness. 

Because YOU are a shining light, and YOUR presence in the world adds beauty to all of existence. YOUR essence is LOVE.

In this way, each of us increases the light of love, acceptance, kindness and compassion for the whole world, one smile at a time, but we must begin by seeing the beauty within before we can fully accept and embrace others in their wholeness.

The more we cultivate love and genuine compassion for ourselves, wrinkles, freckles, scars, one eye that opens wider, slightly crooked smile, straight hair, curly, red, brown, black, blond, gray, no hair, short, tall, thin, full figured, ebony skin, mocha, golden, cream…the more our love for other people will grow.  We will learn to see beyond sexual orientation, beyond disabilities, beyond economic “status,” beyond ethnicity, religion, maybe even (and this one is hard for me, but I’m working on it) differing political views, to the essence of each living being; Divine Love.

When looking deeper, beneath the surface to that light that glows from within, that light that is yours but also mine, a luminous ribbon that binds us one human to another, how can we possibly hate him or her or ourselves, for we truly are ONE?

4. Now take that smile, the memory of who you are: "I am a shining light, and my presence in the world adds beauty to all of existence. My essence is LOVE." And pass it on to your family, to your friends, to co-workers, strangers. Your belief that you are indeed ENOUGH, that you are BEAUTIFUL, that you are a SHINING LIGHT will open a window, a door, become a bridge for others to see the same qualities in themselves and then on and on the L V E will spread…hatred will have an opportunity to transform into love too.

 Love Beats Hate
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  1. Dearest Laura, such a powerful post! Indeed, loving ourselves inside and out, that's where it all starts, isn't it? I find there's no way I can love another when I don't love myself. I am finding more and more that my essence is love and that that is what I want to share with the world... You are a shining light!! Love, Silke

  2. YOU are shining light.

    I love this post.
    I love your words.
    I love to love.
    I love being loved.
    I love LOVE.

    THANK you, dear friend.

  3. So powerful are your words!! From what your Nana told you as a lesson, and what you've accomplished in your adult life regarding and loving yourself. Excellent!!

    PS...thanks so much for the birthday wishes and your visiting with me yesterday!!!

  4. Laura, thank you for this powerful post.
    The "h" word I have never used and did not allow my children.
    You are loved....

  5. Oh my gosh! I'm noticing a theme to the blog posts I've read today. As if personal messages. And what a powerful message this was. Beautiful post and thank you for sharing. I'm starting to recognize why Love is my word for this year.

  6. I imagine you love fiercely , Laura.
    Because you get it.

    I wish you didn't grow from struggle, or live it,
    but oh how you share life.

  7. Hello sweet friends...I hope you will write these words for yourselves and look at them everyday...inhaling them into your hearts for you are all inspirations to me...SHINY...SHINY...SHINY!

  8. Oh Laura, the beauty that is you..the love that is you shines so brightly and is such a beacon to me and so many others...thank you Laura...thank you for sharing all of you with me and others...thank you for choosing love over hate...I will begine to do as you instructed starting today...thank you. ((((Laura)))) Love and hugs to you.

  9. So strong and beautiful you are indeed Laura - YOU beat hate, as love, which you embody. Thank you for this powerful reminder. Your story helps heal us all, and I am so grateful you are here - the love warrior, armed with compassion, inspiring truth, honesty, an open heart, tears and laughter - all characteristics you share so openly!! ❤ K

  10. In Japan we still believe in the belief called Kotodama. Your post reminds me of this belief.
    In short, positive words heal you and the negative words harm yourself and people around you.
    Great and spiritual entry.
    Have a wonderful day.

  11. Thanks so much for a thoughtful and meaningful post. I now have a new mantra to use for daily affirmations!!! Your grace and thoughtfulness make having a serious illness seem like a blessing instead of a burden. I will be returning!!

  12. If only young girls everywhere could learn this at an early age! Who or what does all that self-hatred serve? A very powerful post today, LauraX!

  13. Hi Laura...shine that divine...wonderfully so.

    I too applied:
    Prayer, meditation and yoga to come through the dark night of the soul as well as enlisting the journal and the drawing/painting creating hand(s)...all tools for healing help the world...and all your healing words ring out to touch every living being.

    Beauty full indeed.

  14. Thank you for the visit Laura.
    I guess your daughter will have to find another lovely hearts in real Paris. This was taken in a park in China with reproductions of the world attractions.
    Im sure she will.


  15. I deeply honor how you have shared a bit more of your journey in this life, and gratefully accept and embrace the beautiful affirmation of Love. Thank you for the wonderful, truth-filled essay. ~ Bright Blessings ~

  16. "The tools I learned when I was young (and continue to cultivate) cradle me through this time in my life too. I love this beautiful vessel that holds my soul. "

    Love this. Isn't it interesting that we have these similar journeys? I was not anorexic, but a compulsive overeater/dieter in my late teens/early twenties. I think only the grace of God kept me from becoming bulimic. I thought about it more than once. How I relate to your words I've quoted above. The knowledge that one's body is a precious vessel of soul and God's spirit. That the same body that is "wasting away" daily through either the ticking of the clock or perhaps, as in our case, illness, is indeed, beautiful. Amazingly beautiful. I love your words about growing to love the freckles, the wrinkles, the "bad hair", the "imperfect" body shapes. Good words, Laura.

  17. With good reason, I return to your blog for nourishment. This is a wonderful, revealing and sincere post. Thank you Laura. Your writing is very therapeutic.

  18. Thank you, Laura, for your shining light in the darkness we sometimes create within ourselves, and our worlds. A beacon of love and hope. You brought tears to my eyes this morning.

    "I am a shining light, and my presence in the world adds beauty to all of existence. My essence is LOVE."


    P.S. Thank you for linking this post to Guest Heart Thursday. I know the light you offer will fill so many lives.

    And yes, my dear dear friend, you ARE beautiful - and so am I. :=}

  19. this is great love the practicality of your suggestions. and learning to love ourselves can be one of the hardest things to do...

  20. This is so beautiful and just what I needed to see this morning. I am posting this up in our bathroom so that everyone in this house can come across it and see the beauty within. Thank you for sharing this and shining your light so bright.

  21. You have given us a gift today - our hearts are full...

  22. Such a beautiful post!

    It's a powerful mantra & reminder to practice self-love.

    Thank you for sharing.

  23. Hate is such a strong and impactful word that we use sometimes without a lot of thought. And Love is the same - we use it so often that sometimes the essence is lost. "I love these donuts." "I love this car." - so I think both need to be treated with more respect.

    Beautiful thoughts, Laura. Always a pure delight to read your words.

  24. Beautiful, as always. Thank you for this loving, kind gift today. I'm generally pretty good about honouring myself, however, I do bad-mouth my own body quite a bit. It really bugs The Frenchman and he wants me to stop doing it. I'm having a hard time breaking the habit. Deep inside, I do know I'm worthy and I've long said that I AM love, shining my light. Now, I need to internalize that and really believe it.

    Blessings, my Friend.

  25. A very powerful post with a meaningful message. Our deepest darkness is usually created within ourselves. I went through a similar period in my life but many kinds of love helped me to put it behind me years ago.

  26. My dear Laura,

    Your daughters are so incredibly lucky to have you as their momma. You are such a beautiful, shiny soul:)

    Today, your words made my heart swell.

    So much love,

  27. i love the transparency and gorgeous honesty of this post.

    love beats hate, every single time.

  28. Beautiful post. And a wonderful take on love beats hate...a message we all need to hear sometimes.

    I've put a linky on my love beats hate post. I'd love for you to link up!

  29. "I am a shining light, and my presence in the world adds beauty to all of existence. My essence is LOVE." Beautifully said and beautifully shared, Laura. Words are powerful; thoughts become things. I never use the word "hate" no matter how much I might dislike something like abusers or GMO foods. What do we want to manifest in our lives? Focusing on manifesting Love-Love-Love with every breath and with every thought brings about more Love in the Universe. When we fill ourselves to capacity with Love, there is no room for anything else.
    Loving you,

  30. it is a journey sometimes isnt it.. your story of rising into more love is surly a wonderful example ... thank you for sharing this today !

  31. Laura, I am sorry you felt so much pain for so long. You give endless joy and beauty and love to the world, as if you are overflowing. It was there all along, and now that you've found it you share it freely with everyone.

    Love to you, my friend ~

  32. One of the most moving and memorable posts I have ever (or will likely ever) read.

    I am kind and compassionate. No other physician or patient can give this to me more than I can give this to myself! (It's a long story, but I am learning to look for that love and compassion within).

  33. laura... dear laura... i had no idea you battled anorexia... i got so much from this post today. having battled this self-hatred myself, i too am learning this love... you are such a gift to me friend.

  34. i needed this today. thank you!

  35. Thank you for sharing from your heart. I want to meditate more on the power of love.

  36. Laura, this post is amazing, I love it :o) I was supposed to write a Love Beats Hate post yesterday as well, but just didn't get around to it :o( I was so worn out that my brain just wouldn't produce anything of substance. I'm so glad you got your post up though, it is such a nourishing read :o)

  37. Laura, a very well written post! Love is contagious, and Love is kind. It can heal our soul.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Sharing you my thoughts from my

    Guest Heart

  38. What a beautiful post! I have had weight issues, not through self-image, but through an initial phobia of food making me ill as a child, through becoming overweight with hormone treatments, and losing weight through ill health again. I know how hard it was for me to deal with those changes without a problem with *physical* self-image issues... but just because my self-issues weren't physical, they were still there in other ways (in fact, my hypnotherapist helped me realise that the initial phobia came from a feeling of "not being good enough as I am"). What I am trying to say in a very roundabout way is that so many of us have issues of some kind (be it physical or not) and spend years directing hateful thoughts at ourselves, and it is only through getting to the bottom of why we do this "not feeling good enough" for example, that we can begin to heal and love ourselves, and by loving ourselves we can love others.

    Such a powerful post, thank you for sharing xx

  39. I WILL use this... this is beautiful and powerful and empowering. Thank you so much for this affirmation and this lovely, open, stirring post :)

  40. Laura,

    Wow! This is such a beautiful, powerful, personal, empowering, thoughtful post.

    I don't even know where to start...

    First, let me thank you for sharing this story. Your courage to discuss a subject that many strive to avoid is wonderful. By sharing it, you may very well help others who are dealing with body image concerns.

    I have a relative who has struggled with both anorexia and bulimia. The last subject she wants to discuss is eating disorders, body image concerns, or self-hatred. I know that she has deep fears associated with discussing these things (long story). Eating disorders truly do involve a brutal war within.

    It hurts me to watch her suffer with body images issues. I would give anything to help her learn how to accept herself for who she is and to recognize her own light. It is hard to watch her so unhappy. Many people love her deeply and have tried to help her facilitate the healing process but she continues to struggle with internal battles.

    I am sorry that you struggled with anorexia for such a long time but I am very happy that you found a way to break out of the cycle of thoughts of self-hatred.

    Laura, I have news for you. You are far more than just "good enough". You are truly exceptional and in the relatively short time I have known you I have witnessed again and again your generosity of spirit, your caring ways, and your wisdom.

    Your entire post is a masterpiece but I love this part especially:

    "I feed it well not only with nourishing foods but with healthy, kind and nurturing thoughts".

    What we feed our bodies is important but so is what we feed our minds. Thoughts really matter.

    This is just lovely:

    "I am a shining light, and my presence in the world adds beauty to all of existence. My essence is LOVE".

    I love #3 on so many levels. :)

    This post is just exquisite. It is just wonderful.

    Thank you again for... everything here. This post is brimming over with LOVE.

    Also, thank you for spreading the word about Love Beats Beats to so many people. You have really gotten the word out to many.


  41. Self-hatred is insidious. I do battle with that foe on a regular basis. Not easy. It's good to have the right people around.

  42. "Noticing when I was being unkind. Paying attention to what triggered the inner story I'd created."

    Very simple but powerful tools. Thank you for sharing them.

  43. i struggle with loving myself having been told as a child that i wasn't beautiful and that i was fat(i wasn't). it's much harder now that my body has changed significantly to love it, especially after those wounds. but loving myself is something i try to do, especially for the sake of my daughter. i want her to know that she is loved and beautiful. thanks for sharing your journey towards self-love and spurring us on to do likewise.

  44. Fantastic LBH post, Laura!! Sorry to be getting here so late. I have also found that cultivating love and letting go of unnecessary worries is making my life a whole lot better. Thanks for sharing such a valuable message :) x


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