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Excerpt from "Every Day Love: The Delicate Art of Caring for Each Other"

by Judy Ford


Best of the Best

(pgs 3-5)

If you’ve ever awakened in the middle of the night and felt the warmth and comfort of your partner next to you, if you’ve ever walked through the front door with hopeful anticipation that your loved ones are home, if you’ve felt a quiet exhilaration as your sweetheart greeted you with a smile, if you’ve ever been tied up in knots with worry or stress and felt it melt away in your sweetheart’s reassuring presence, you know the deep satisfaction of day-to-day love.

Everyday love feels like home—it is home, a safe haven, a respite from doubts and demands, pulls and pressures. The spot where you let down, drop pretending, toss off your mask, lay down your armor, and are accepted as you are— blossoms, thorns, and all. That indefinable resting place where you feel most like yourself and where you gather unconditional support that inspires personal growth. It is everyday love that props you up, provides assurance that you are lovable, ignites faith that good things are coming, gives you another chance when you’ve messed up, offers hope when you’ve lost belief in yourself, and extends a cushion to rest upon when you’re weary. It is the safety net that keeps you from falling through the cracks. Without such a backup it is difficult to believe in yourself; without daily love it is as if you don’t have a friend in the world.

Everyday love feels good, and yet it is more than a feeling: it is the combination of attitudes and actions that satisfies, supports, and sustains. As wonderful as it is, it can be unpleasant. As exciting as it might be, it will be frustrating too. It is definitely not all whoop-tee-do. The delicate art takes graceful skill even when we don’t feel like putting in the effort. You will have to be attentive, disciplined, daring, intuitive, heroic, trustworthy, imaginative, and honest. You will have to labor and work night and day to hone it. Everyday love is knowing everything about your sweetheart and wanting to be with him or her anyway.

Love Lesson

1. Be daring. Dwell in possibility. Consider: Is it possible to love? Answer: Yes. Consider: Is it possible to love every single day? Answer: Yes. Yes. Yes.

2. Be disciplined. Maintain a loving perspective. Speak about what is going right six times as often as you speak about what is going wrong. For everything that goes wrong, something goes right. Things go wrong, but more goes right.

3. Be heroic. Some people maintain that troubles come in threes and are defeated by those troubles. Heroes over- come troubles by creating a way out. Instead of counting difficulties, count solutions. Instead of counting defeats, count blessings. Instead of expecting what you want, generate what you want. Instead of complaining about your partner, be heroic, be a loving role model, and become the person you would like to be.

4. Be attentive. Notice how the simple solace of a roof overhead, food on the table, and imperfect good souls gathered around is enough of a spark to keep going. Everyday love provides the backing to keep on keeping on, motivates us to do better, makes us believe that we can.

5. Be intuitive. Listen to the little voice within. It is a power source that transmits the wisdom to manage your life.

A Lifelong Study

(pg 29)

The delicate art of caring for each other is a lifelong study, a course in opening your senses and softening your spirit.

The art of loving is a simultaneous process of loving oneself while loving another. The capacity to overcome fears, release insecurities, sort through issues, act with compassion and integrity—these are skills you will need to excel in this graceful art.

To be loved by a person who also loves him or herself is the highest rung on the ladder.

Could This Be You?

(pgs 34-38)

When they were first married they talked and made love all night. They hope to again, but, well, they have reasons why they don’t. Like many couples with three children under the age of 10, Alice and James are busy. Their plates are full.

James is an ambitious hard worker and a devoted father. He puts in long hours to assure financial stability. He feels it’s his manly duty to provide the finer things in life. A big house, two cars, sports equipment, dance lessons, vacations, friends, family outings, televisions, computers, gadgets—lots of gadgets—and clothes, clothes that the kids will outgrow before the outfits wear out. James doesn’t have spare time to ride his bike anymore. He drinks to unwind.

Alice is a delightful woman, a spirited mother and a supportive friend. She can do anything. She put her career as a graphic designer on the back burner to be a stay-at- home mom. She likes the role, but it often feels as if something is missing. She cooks healthy meals, packs lunches, manages a cozy home, and volunteers at the library. She taxis the kids to and from; in between she checks on her parents and her invalid mother-in-law. She entertains, attends aerobics and yoga, and arranges the family’s social calendar. She is a master gardener, with roses climbing over the fence and fresh herbs growing on the windowsill. Alice is amazing and anxious.

Alice and James are good parenting and business partners, focused on their projects, skilled taskmasters. Who would guess that they go for weeks without making love? They ramble about to-do lists, but never talk about love or sex directly. They don’t know how to begin a conversation about such a highly charged subject, so they squelch themselves and resort to innuendo. She notices him glancing at pretty girls and scolds. He notices her watching romantic comedies, but rather than asking directly what her interest might be, he is sarcastic about it. They swallow their no- sex secret and hope that sometime in the future, when they’re less busy, they’ll have the inclination to make love.

When asked, they agree that they love each other. But in private, alone, they wonder, Is it over? Did they fall out of love? They’re sad. Very, very sad. When Alice lashes out James shakes his head and withdraws. He refuses to talk. She cries and feels rejected. They give up. He sleeps on the couch in the den until she urges him back to bed. They fall asleep, scared and helpless and losing hope. Alice and James feel lonely and they miss each other.

Is there hope? you wonder. Is it possible to regain the thrill of touching each other? Can Alice and James connect again?

Yes.

The answer is: Yes. Yes. Yes.

It is possible, but not as simple or quick or easy as we might like it to be. There is no pill or magic wand. A vacation without the kids will not do the trick.

Rekindling passion requires dedication, education, more questions, and fewer answers. To reconnect they’ll need to launch an inward journey. They’ll need to look inside and dig deeply. They’ll have to be very, very honest.

The great spiritual teachers from Buddha to Jesus, the brilliant psychoanalysts from Carl Jung to Erich Fromm, the philosophers and poets from Kabir to Simone de Beauvoir and Maya Angelou remind us that the seduction of the outer world is temporary, while the peace and joy found in the inner world is eternal. Unless we look inward, life loses luster. James and Alice are superstars in the outer world but their inner lives are sadly lacking. In accomplishing so much, in doing so much, in pleasing others, in securing their futures, running so fast, it’s as if they’ve morphed from human beings into human doings. Like exquisitely designed robots, Alice and James appear successful—but inside they’re suffering. They’ve lost their spark. Intent on building the life they thought they should build, they forgot to check in with what they needed. They forgot to listen to the wise little voice within.

What does looking inward have to do with day-to-day life, love, sex, and happiness? you might ask. Well, my dear sweet reader, the answer is: everything. If you don’t know who you are or how you feel, if you’re uncomfortable in your own skin, if you don’t know what makes you tick and tingle, if you’re afraid to communicate your urges and longings, if success is the measure of your worth, if you’re using sex to calm your nerves and hide disappointment, there is no lovemaking. You can fake connection for a short time, but if you’re in a relationship for the long haul, you have to be authentic. If you want to make love, you have to unite with each other. To unite you have to be awake, aware, and fully alive. You have to slow down and take a deep breath. You have to be mature enough to know yourself and mature enough to respect your beloved.

Love Lesson

1. Consider this: A relationship is as unique as the two people who create it, but we can gain insight into our own relationship from hearing about others. Is there anything about Alice and James’s relationship that reminds you of your own?

2. Be well. Let me say this in another way: Do not beat yourself up. Be gentle and kind. The kinder you are to yourself, the kinder you will be to your sweetheart.

3. Give credit. I am certain that you have done many things to be pleased about, and so has your partner. Acknowledge all your strengths. If you don’t know what your strengths are, ask a friend to tell you.

4. List your personal priorities. Write down everything that matters to you. Don’t edit. Read this over and put a star by your top 10 priorities. Priorities change, and yours will too. This is an exercise in reflecting on what matters to you. Ask your partner to do the same.

5. Each week, read a passage of poetry, philosophy, or a spiritual text. Try Kabir, Hafiz, or Mary Oliver.

Excerpted from Every Day Love: The Delicate Art of Caring for Each Other  By Judy Ford. Used with permission. http://www.vivaeditions.com/book_page.php?book_id=17


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