For whatever reason, while growing up, my dad’s parents never took too many pictures of their kids, so I treasure the few pictures I have of my dad as a child. One picture in particular I couldn’t find after he died almost eleven months ago. It was a school picture. I had seen it and put it in a safe place—well you know how that goes.
I valiantly searched for it in the days, weeks and months after he died to no avail. Then on Monday it showed up as if by magic. I’d gone over to my parents’ house (now my mom’s house) and there it was on his desk. Had it been there all along? Probably. I just didn’t see it.
Looking at the picture I knew my dad wanted to send me a message. All too often I look for love, for acceptance outside myself and sometimes from people who can’t/won’t give it to me. It’s like looking for validation from people, places and situations that can never provide it.
Staring into his eyes I could hear him give me a message from my heart to his: Love the Ones Who Love You AND Love Yourself.
I could feel his message with such clarity that I can’t even begin to explain it. Lately, I’ve been finding myself feeling angry, sad, frustrated by situations that won’t matter in a few years, a few months, a few moments, so why allow them to bother me at all?
Kindness and love—those feelings matter. I could just feel this shift. I need to focus my attention on loving myself and loving others.
I treasure every night last summer that I spent with my dad. Looking into his eyes, I could see him telling me to find something to treasure each night THIS summer. I got it. I understood it. Love the ones who love me and love myself.
What does this look like, you ask? Telling people I love them. Calling people just to say hi. Texting someone a nice message just because. Buying a card and sending it snail mail—imagine the horrors!!! Putting a stamp on a real card!! Have you ever bought yourself a card? I have! It’s fun!
Send an email. Engage. Interact. And not just with loved ones—with everyone! Give the clerk in the store a smile. Ask how they’re doing. I did that Monday night and she brightened up considerably. People like to be seen. Really seen.
Loving myself—what does that look like? It means I see myself as myself. I don’t look at my size, my body shape—it means for a day, for a moment I just am. I don’t judge. Life is too short for judgments. Loving myself means I take the time to make myself a fruit smoothie when I’m craving heaps of sugar. It’s not that I’m denying myself the sugar—I’m making a choice that will make me feel better throughout the day.
My father loved me, so did my maternal grandfather, so did my maternal great-grandmother. All three are my guardian angels now. They gave me such love, love that can’t be described with words. Now it’s my turn to share that love, starting with myself.
If you’re reading this, just for today, love yourself without judgment. Love others without judgment. If someone cuts in front of you, don’t take on their anger. Let it go. Smile at people. Buy someone a card. Buy yourself a card. Give a friend a hug. Give yourself a hug. You get the point.
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Pics below of my dad and my great grandmother: