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The Bliss Mistress: Love Actually

by Edie Weinstein

“I think that when we look for love courageously, it reveals itself and we wind up attracting even more love.”--Paulo Coehlo

Movies are such amazing reflections of 'real life' that begs the age old question: “Does art imitate life or life imitate art?” The movie Love Actually which I had not watched until after I had the experience you are about to read, highlights concepts that I fervently believe in, most especially, the overlapping soul circles that so tickle me in my own life.

A few years ago, I wandered into an art gallery in Philadelphia with a new Philly transplant named Gary who had asked this native to show him around. My wide eyes took in the display called Do Blue in which nearly every item, image and object had some connection with the color blue; the rare exception was something that prompted me to write this piece. It was a button with a stylized red heart and the word 'actually' beneath it. I immediately knew I had to add it to my collection of pins to keep company those such as “ It may look like I'm doing nothing, but on the cellular level, I'm quite busy.” and “Just visiting this planet”. I put it on and have proudly worn it since. It perfectly reflects my take on the idea that love is not a commodity to be traded for time, attention, compliance, your body, mind or soul. I have been doing a great deal of reading on the subject and authors from various traditions have said the same thing; that love is not something outside of us to be earned, but something that we ARE.

One of my many hats is that of a psychiatric social worker on an inpatient mental health unit. Every day, I am surrounded by people who would totally disagree with those statements. In their experience, in many cases, love, or what passes for it, has come at the expense of safety, dignity and self worth. Part of my chosen role is to show them that all they believed to be true about love, ain't necessarily so and that there are other ways of looking at it. I tell them with all certainty that “No one will ever love you enough to make up for you not loving yourself.”

Sometimes they get it and sometimes they look at me as if I am from another planet. Perhaps I am, since I have a button that confirms it. There are times when I forget that I am love and that everyone else is too. At work, one day, I had the opportunity to test that out on a grand scale. One of the patients was in the throes of what I think of as 'center-of-the-universe-itis'; don't bother looking it up under that name; you won't find it, but the word narcissism would cover it. Her demands for attention and the ways she was seeking it were disruptive to the entire unit. She was brought into the 'safe room' to calm down. I stood next to her and asked what had happened. She continued her verbal tirade. I asked if she wanted to sit on the bed and take a few breaths. She immediately leaned over and grabbed me into a clinging hug, sobbing with a sense of relief that she could cease fighting. This moment was transformative for me as well, since in an instant, I moved from feeling angry with her for stirring things up with the other patients. to feeling deep compassion and yes, even a sense of love for this quite troubled fellow traveler. As I held her, I cried with her unabashedly as some of the other staff witnessed this. I first had to recognize her by her true identity in that split second...Love incarnate.

A few years ago, I spoke at a conference sponsored by Gilda's Club (a non-residential support community created in honor of Saturday Night Live alum Gilda Radner who died of ovarian cancer) at which a woman who was also presenting, said she had her first spiritual experience at age 3 when she looked into the mirror and asked “Who's in there?” I gather that over the years, she has come to realize who she is as well.

I have seen bracelets that some Christians wear with the letters “WWJD?” emblazoned on them. The letters are shorthand for “What Would Jesus Do?”

I invite a corollary question: “WWLD?” or “What Would Love Do?” Perhaps Love would let someone else go first in line. Maybe it would offer understanding rather than judgment; forgiveness rather than condemnation. Naturally, it would want whatever is for the highest good for those whose paths it crossed. Love, if it really is all it is meant to be, wouldn't just be offered to others. It would flow like a fountain, unceasingly from the Source within us. As I tell my patients and students, “You can't fill someone else's cup if yours is empty.”

I invite you to take a look at the ways in which you may block love. Many of us wear a Teflon coating when it comes to allowing love to fully enfold us. Nothing sticks and all the expressions of love simply slide off. I prefer to be a love-sponge, just soaking it all in....and yet, there are times when I reach a saturation point and need to wring out. Admittedly, I have a higher threshold for receiving than I used to. Like any other skill, it takes practice and it is one I gladly engage in each day as I have learned to actualize love.

What does love look like in your life?

Can you offer love to the woman or man in the mirror?

How do you keep your own cup full to overflowing?

Edie Weinstein, MSW, LSW is a colorfully creative journalist and interviewer, a sought after motivational speaker, interfaith minister, social worker and the author of The Bliss Mistress Guide To Transforming the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary. She writes a daily blog for Beliefnet http://features.beliefnet.com/blissblog

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