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Birthdays and Velveteen Rabbits

A few words on my birthday:
 
I love this quote from the Velveteen rabbit. In those few paragraphs below are perhaps the most important lessons about love. What's funny to me, is how my ideas about love have changed since I was young. It strikes me that this quote that used to make me sad, now makes me happy. See the quote below.
 
I am sitting in the dark, long before the sun has risen, listening to 70's music. The songs from my youth. Back when love was about "being loved", "adored". "Touch me in the moring". Oh the angst of love. Hoping someone thought I was attractive, smart, funny. Just trying so desperately to tread water and find my way. Back then, love was about defining myself as worthy. If someone would just love me, like it says in that song, want me, then maybe I would be a "real person".
 
What has made me real, isn't having a cushy easy life. Or being "well loved" (though I have been blessed).  I am no longer waiting for the world to hand me a sign that says that I am brilliant, funny, sexy, or important. And that feels so much better. I don't have a boss to please anymore. I am no longer trying to figure out ways to get my vision validated. I don't have an administrator to persuade. I don't even have to persuade my clients because they see it working in their own lives.
 
I just wish that the 15 year old Katie that was filled with so much anxiety about being good enough, would have known that all those fears wouldn't make me safer in life.  If I had known then, that real love doesn't judge an extra pound, that my husband wasn't going to wake up one day and turn down sex because of a scar, or because of a stretch mark, or that real love doesn't die just because of a temper tantrum, or that real love doesn't drown because someone  gets attracted to someone else.  Real love is so much more resilient than all that. The only thing that can kill real love is fear. And it takes an awful lot of fear to make that happen. All those cheesy verses about how love is forgiveness, that used to meet my heart with coldness and boredom turn out to be so freakin' (and those who know me, know that freakin' is not what I just said) true!
 
Carrying anger, being the biggest victim, puts a damper on your life. It makes ME miserable. But where there is love, once you have learned how to stoke the fires of love, once you have learned how to feed your love with the presence of something greater than yourself, there too, is an endless supply.
 
The doubt creeps in, but today I know how to shoo it away. The anger creeps in, but today I know how to smile it away. The sadness comes over me, but I know how to let it wash over me like a wave. I know today that pushing grief away only makes it stronger. That trying to be strong only makes you weak. That hating only closes your mind to love and that anger rarely serves to build a better life. I have learned that saying these trite sentences does nothing to change these truths. The only thing that works to fill a heart with love is to DO love.  
 
I can still find hours here and there to spend suffering about the affairs of the world. When I get sick and tired, when I fall asleep at my wheel of life, when I spiral into that bitchy whining that feels like a warm bed on a rainy day but then I pay the consequence as we all do. I suffer needlessly about the "unfairness of this or that". 
 
When I take stock today, I am mostly grateful. Crazily, I can find gratitude for the extra weight that forces me to be more mindful of my eating every day to the stretch marks that brought me the greatest miracles of life. From my journals filled with story after story of how I was wronged by "HIM" and the following awareness that I don't have even a page written about the miracles of loving my husband.  And finally gratitude for the days I prayed to a scary God who would punish me for not spending enough time on my knees to my current God of understanding, who wants only to use me as a conduit of love, which allows me a constant contact and presence with love.
 
There are triggers that remind me of that old katie, who needed to be respected, admired, loved, appreciated, care about and important. Sometimes I still take up her causes, and fight her battles, defend her old beliefs. But less today. Today I get to spend my life teaching others how to remove the obstacles to love. Today I get to help others find the thoughts that blind them to the love harvest that already exists. It doesn't matter who gets voted in as president, it doesn't matter if I get rich or limp along. All that matters is that each day, I am wearing down with the love of life. Each day I get more and more "real".
 
Here's the quote I promised:
 
“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'

'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.

'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'

'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”
Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
 
 

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