Behind the Kwote: Self-love

At the risk of sounding totally nutz, I’m sharing with you a letter I wrote to myself in 2014. I’d forgotten about it. And as I re-read the words, the whole experience seems surreal, almost as if someone else really did write this to me. This, along with many other things is what helped me make different choices about who I wanted to be in this world.

Dear Kathy,

First, love yourself more. Self-love is very important. You’ve even quoted Whitney Houston on Valentine’s Day, “The greatest love of all is learning to love yourself.” Self-love is the most important thing that you can learn on this earth. The sooner you believe you deserve love from yourself, the sooner all other forms of love will shine and make sense. Loving yourself will help you feel more confident. Loving yourself will help you open up to the love of others, some of whom have been trying to love you with their whole hearts most of their lives.

Second, you are not perfect. No one is. Sure, you’re perfectly made the way that you are, but you are human, which means that you have flaws. Do not beat yourself up for these human ways. Everyone is born with something that is bound to make them feel bad or serve as a life lesson. You are not the only one with these imperfections. Accepting them will help you complete the first task, love yourself.

self_love_goal_kegarlandThe third, and final thing I want to tell you dear heart is to listen to your instinct. Your inner-being knows what is best. You have feelings that alert you to when something doesn’t feel right. Listen to those feelings from now on. Ignoring them only makes for a more challenging time. And life here on earth is not intended to be that challenging. Remember, you create your experiences by the choices that you make. Make conscious and healthy choices for you, whether it be for relationships or for professional standing.

With love,

~kg

Happy Valentine’s Day! What would you advise your former or future self?

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How Do You Love YourSELF 💝

self_love2I’d just discovered the importance of self love when I created this kwote in 2014. My self-love discovery actually helped awaken a more loving and authentic part of myself that I didn’t know existed.

But, before I share that journey, I’ve invited several bloggers, family, and friends to answer this question: How do you love yourself? Every day this month, you’ll hear from a different person.

Each answer is varied as it turns out that we all show ourselves love in many ways. I do hope that you’re not too bothered by these daily posts. They’re meant to inspire, uplift, and motivate.

And as usual, if anything resonates with you, then please feel free to comment!

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Behind the Kwote: Today’s Choices

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Kwoted. ©2015. K E Garland All Rights Reserved.

A friend of mine, who is more like a little sister, found herself pregnant with someone who she probably wouldn’t have consciously chosen to father her child. Her mom didn’t understand how it happened. She questioned how her daughter could have gotten pregnant, especially considering all of the twenty-something years of sage advice she’d provided. Her friends were disappointed; many of them had planned out their lives, as some of us do when we’re younger. They’d determined this wasn’t the path hers should take. I listened to each judgment and tried my best not to add my own. While everyone attempted to figure out how this happened, the answer seemed so simple to me: today’s choices determine tomorrow’s experiences.

It wasn’t just true for my friend’s unplanned pregnancy; it was part of my story as well. I was trying to figure out how I ended up with a road trip sized commute to work. The answer was the same. Reaping what you sow isn’t a new concept. But it seems every now and then we wake up wondering how did I get here, in this space, with this experience? The reality is whatever you’re focused on today will build future benefits or future challenges. So, it’s best to get in tune with who you are and what you really want so that you’ll be able to make conscious decisions with which you can live.

*Monday Notes: Law of Allowing

journey_zero_explanationAbout two years ago, I created this kwote. If you’ve been following my blog, even for a little while, then you know this is one of my personal mantras: Live your life, unapologetically. People generally agree with this sentiment. I mean really, not many disagree that following your heart and doing what you want with your life is a positive way to function.

The challenge comes when it’s other people’s lives. Sometimes, we want the freedom to be and live how we want, but we want to confine and judge the choices that other people make about their own lives.

Allow people to live their lives unapologetically.

I’m not exempt from this. Sometimes I get the urge to share some sage wisdom I learned when I was in a similar situation. I can see the “missteps” people make with jobs, relationships, or children because I’ve been there before. Or have I? I have children, but I’ve never been a single parent. I’ve been married for 20 years, but my marriage is set up quite differently than other married couples’.

How can I advise someone of next steps when they are a different person, with his or her own experiences, living in a different time period? I cannot. And I usually do not. Any friend or family member gets the same answer if they ask me what they should do about fill-in-the-blank: You already know what to do.

Let that sink in for a moment. You already know what to do.

For me, this is true for everyone. I know it may feel better to ask three or four people if you should take the job offer, but deep down, if you’re quiet enough, you will know if you should shift positions. Here’s the question: If you already know what to do with your life, don’t you think the same might be true for your child or brother?

zero_explanation_journey_17Listen. I hate to sound like Polyanna. Trusting yourself and your intuition is hard if you’re used to relying on other people’s opinions. But there’s a beauty in it. Once you’re able to trust your own guidance system, then something magical happens. You’re able to allow other people to live their own lives, without explanation too.

*This Monday Note is brought to you courtesy of someone providing me with unsolicited advice about how I choose to live. Instead of participating in an argument, I simply wrote responses in my Notes section 😉 Let me know what you think.

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♊44 Lessons♊

 

Today is my 44th birthday! You might remember this from last year. I’ve added a 44th lesson: 

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  1. Pay attention to nature. 
  2. Some friends don’t last forever. 
  3. Physical life doesn’t last forever, but death will continue to surprise you.
  4. If you don’t like the life you’ve created, then make steps to create a new one.
  5. Be yourself. 
  6. Love yourself. 
  7. Be nice to people you don’t know. 
  8. People will let you down. Learn how much letdown you want to tolerate from any one person.
  9. Learn when it’s time to let go.
  10. Learn when to hold on. 
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Change. ©2016. K E Garland.

11. You always have a choice.

12. No one owes you anything.

13. You don’t owe anyone anything.

14. Sometimes friends act more like family.

15. Be honest with yourself and others.

16. Kids are not a do-over. They are individuals with their own experiences.

17. If you want more love, compassion or empathy, then give more love, compassion or empathy.

18. You can’t make people like you.

19. It’s never too late to grow.

20. Change is inevitable, whether it’s biological or spiritual.

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Change2. ©2016. K E Garland.
21. Be grateful for all the so-called bad stuff that’s happened.

22. Apologize.

23. Accept apologies.

24. Folks will fill in the blanks of your life AND make up their own stories about it; so what?

25. Mistakes are inevitable; try anyway.

26. Institutions look out for themselves.

27. You will attract people and experiences that reflect how you feel about yourself, whether you believe that concept or not.

28. Treat people the way you want to be treated, even if you don’t think they’ve done the same.

29. Nothing is finite.

30. Recognize how you feel in situations.

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Crescent Moon Love. ©2016. K E Garland.
31.You can’t blame your parents forever.

32. Wisdom doesn’t always come with age.

33. Listen to your children. For a long time, they are a reflection of you.

34. Don’t try to convince people that their belief system is wrong, stupid or inaccurate.

35. Fear nothing.

36. Know yourself.

37.One way to avoid manipulation is to be clear about who you are and what you want.

38. Judging does not equal caring.

39. Treat the homeless as you would your own mother.

40. Exercise so you can continue to move your body in ways you enjoy.

41. Learn something. But figure out if you need to pay for the knowledge or if you can Google your way through.

42. There is no correct way to live life. transient2

43. We’re all connected.

44. Be of service.

~kg

Behind the Kwote: Your Own Biggest Fan

This was one of the first kwotes I created. Many friends and family call, text or inbox me for advice and encouragement. Listening to someone with my whole heart and then offering what I think will inspire them is inherent for me. In fact, a former student asked if I was a high school cheerleader because of how much I stand behind and uplift others.

biggest_fan_2Well, there came a time during my 360-mile commute that I felt I had no one to reassure me. Even a cheerleader needs encouraging, I posted to FB. I couldn’t think of one person who I could turn to that would offer words of motivation. If I called my grandmother, then she’d remind me of how dumb I was to have taken the job in the first place. If I talked with my husband, then he would remind me that this was a choice I made, regardless of his early warnings. If I spoke to anyone else, then they would try to solve the problem for me and that wasn’t what I wanted or needed at the time. I wanted someone to tell me, “Hey! You can do it! You’ve done more challenging things in your life. This is no different.” I found that the only person that was going to tell me that was, ME. Consequently, this kwote was born.  Cause, guess what? Every now and then, we all have to dig deep and find that inner strength. Trust me; it’s there.

Behind the Kwote: Your Journey

journey_zero_explanationThis kwote popped into my mind after I’d announced to several people that I was leaving my tenure-track position at Florida State University. There was no visible job prospect in April 2015, but my intuition had spoken and I was listening. Even though my instinct was clear to me it wasn’t to others.

My cousin’s response, “Are you crazy?” Mind you he’d asked me the same question when I announced the commute.

My best friend at the time replied, “What??? Now I can’t say my best friend is a professor at FSU!”

My daughter’s reaction, “Are we gonna be poor?”

My aunt’s email, “So what if you’re the only Black person? Since when did that become a big deal?”

My friend and university’s alum, “What? Why?”

This is just a small number of people and their opinions. But in my mind, there were far too many and I didn’t feel as if I owed anyone an explanation for decisions about my life. With the exception of my daughter, none of these people would be affected by how I generated income. This kwote helped me to see the truth.

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Oftentimes, this time of year prompts reflection and a sense of renewal. But sometimes we neglect to follow our hearts and inner voice because we’re worried about what family and friends will think about our new paths. Let me tell you something. They’ll be just fine! Now, let me ask this question. If you don’t follow your intuition, will you?

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Behind the Kwote: Gratitude is a Way of Life

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Here in the States, we pause and give thanks on the third Thursday in November, typically with our families. My family, immediate and extended are no different. You can find any one of us sitting around a table of food, perhaps holding hands and thoughtfully announcing what we’re thankful for. But remove the holiday, and I’m not convinced the sentiment remains.

Take my cousins for example. No matter what birthday or Christmas gift I sent, they never used to call to say, “Thank you,” or even text an appreciative message.

Similarly, my brother and sister-in-law rarely thanked me for the birthday or Christmas gifts I’d send to their four children. Even if presents blatantly came from me, without Dwight’s knowledge, my brother-in-law would call or text my husband, unless he heard these words: That came from Kathy, man. Then, he would reach out and thank me.

I wasted hours, days, weeks fixated on solving this “dilemma.” If I held the door open for a stranger, more than likely the person would mutter, “Thank you.” If I gave a coworker a going away card, then the colleague would probably say, “Thanks!” But some family members? Nope.

I was hurt.

I was hurt, until I began keeping a gratitude journal. Here is where I began writing five things I was thankful for each day. I was hurt, until I completed a gratitude meditation. Here is where I learned to be grateful. I was hurt, until I spent 30 days expressing gratitude to friends and family who’d positively influenced my life. Here is where I learned to stop seeking external gratitude.

It took about five years, but now, I live a life of gratitude. Consequently, Thanksgiving is meaningless to me in terms of giving thanks. I give to whomever I can, as often as I can, with no expectation of verbal reward.

What about you? Are you more thankful on Thanksgiving? Is it important to hear the words thank you? Does it matter?

Behind the Kwote: *Flawed

flawedI’ve spent the majority of my life in shame. I was ashamed of being adopted. I was ashamed that my mother had a terminal illness. Then, I was ashamed that my dad gave up his parental rights. I was ashamed that I had to move to a small town my senior year and graduate with 25 people I didn’t really know. I had developed eighteen years of shame.

Once I began undergrad, I unconsciously created my own shameful experiences. Lovers and sexual indiscretions piled up. At that point, the shame covered me. But I kept it hidden.

So there I was, carrying and hiding decades of shame. I doubted that others had similar challenges. Everyone looked so perfect to me, with two loving parents and crystal clear paths paved with luck and fortune. Around 2004, I attracted more authentic conversations. Former students, friends, family, and coworkers opened up to me about their pasts and presents.

Boy, was I wrong.

Everyone else felt just as crappy as I did. They hid it, like me. Consequently, I began to reflect not only on my own, but also other people’s experiences. Rarely do friends and family want to share their innermost feelings for fear of being judged. For fear of being shamed. What is this cycle we’ve created? We live in shame and don’t talk about it because we don’t want to be shamed.

Once I figured this out, I wrote this kwote as a reminder: Don’t worry; the person next to you is flawed too!

*Disclaimer: Typically “flaws” refer to outward appearances, but I use it here to discuss so-called inward flaws.