The most important love letters you've never written

Photo by Seyyed Mostafa Zamani via Glamlife-studentportal on Flickr

Photo by Seyyed Mostafa Zamani via Glamlife-studentportal on Flickr

By mid-January, there were sparkling red hearts everywhere I turned, enjoining me to declare my love to my nearest and dearest. I try to make it a practice to make those declarations every day. Every morning I lift my daughter from her crib, kiss her nose and say, “Good morning, my love, how did you sleep?” I tell her I love her so many times each day that she just nods in response. Yes, she knows. Likewise, I kiss my man and tell him I love him every time we part, whether we will be separated for a few minutes or several hours.But these hearts have had me thinking about the other things I should be giving some love but may instead be taking for granted. What could I create if I turned some loving energy on new parts in my life? What if, instead of writing a love letter to my lover, I wrote one to myself? What would I say? What if I expressed my love for something less tangible, like money, or pain?I’m curious to try. Here are six ideas for love letters that I’m going to write this month.

To yourself

You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. - Sharon Salzberg

It is so easy as mothers to turn all of our love, affection, and attention on others and forget to take care of ourselves.  How many times have I ushered Bean to the door bundled up and ready to go out on a cold day and then realize I’ve forgotten my own coat? I know that if I do not love and take care of my own self I know I will quickly run out of love and care to give.A love letter to yourself can be as simple as a quiet moment, a long, deep breath, and a recitation of the traditional lovingkindness meditation phrases:

May I be filled with love.May I be safe from danger.May I be well.May I be at ease.

To your family

A love letter to your family could be to the family you envision being - whether or not you are there yet. It could be a letter to your family of origin, either in gratitude for loving you and teaching you how to raise your own family, or in forgiveness for falling short of what you needed.I am going to write a letter of gratitude for the family we are becoming together, a family I never could have imagined just a few years ago.

To your money

I’m part of a new year-long group led by Nona Jordan. Each month some of us choose a daily practice and support each other in keeping it and learning from whatever comes up around it.  This month several of us are writing daily love letters to our money. This is a simple but powerful exercise. Try it.What is your relationship with money today? Is it loving? Playful? Cranky or hurt? How would you let your money know you love it and appreciate it?

To your body

My poor body. Always last on the list. Never quite enough time to exercise enough. All my meals interrupted by trying to entice a distractible toddler to eat, and rarely enough water or sun. And yet, my body carries me through each day, uncomplaining (well, a little complaint from my sciatic nerve lately). My body grew a whole new human! It is amazing, and I need to love it a whole lot more. This month my body’s love letter is going to be weekly yoga and more glasses of water. What can you do to show your body some love today?

To something that hurts

It feels counter-intuitive to offer love to something that is hurting you, but I have found so much healing in learning to turn toward hurt rather than clench away from it. In my yoga class, the instructor invites us each to set an intention for our practice each day. Today my intention was “love this hip that hurts.” Instead of feeling frustrated by poses that were painful because my back is tender, I leaned into stretches that loosened it up and modified the ones that were difficult until I could hold them with ease.After an hour, my back hurt noticeably less. And my mood, without that nagging pain, was noticeably lighter. What is hurting in your life right now? Who is causing you pain? How can you offer that some love?What love letters are you writing this month?