Love by way of gold star stickers.

I was in yoga the other day after a cold afternoon zipping around Denver on my Vespa. The heated wood floors and humidity in the room were welcomed as I felt I might actually be thawing from the inside out. The teacher had tattoos and a very honest feel when she spoke and I immediately felt similar to her. You know when you meet someone and you feel similar? There is a lot of the "been there, done that" relatability and you just get it when he/she starts talking about ego, flexibility or presence. The conversation flows. It can actually go both ways, I met another someone recently who I felt so similar to, however, the similarity was from an older version of myself; one that was competitive, full of complaint and comparative. The conversation did not flow.

So, the yoga class was good. Nice heat, great adjustments and sweet verbal cues.

And the teacher was pretty raw in her speaking. You can tell advanced teachers because they can drop in personal story along with guiding movement and breath. Props to those skills.

Towards pigeon pose, she asked the question, "What if you loved someone just to love them?"

Damn. They always drop the good ones in a hip opener. My achilles heel.

I am actually reading a book on love, as you might recall, my 2015 declaration is all about the love. The book explores love in all its many different histories and cultures and attempted meanings. It is so interesting. Yet, I sit here wondering if I have been trying to follow suit and give love a definition, a meaning, or a means to an end - when the truth about love is you cannot always define it, you cannot always explain it and you never want it to end. So when my tattooed yogi with an honest voice asked the question of love just to love, I realized that I have not been doing that. At all.

I reflect back on my week and I realize I have not been loving Chris (my fiance) just to love him. I have been loving him with expectations, pressure and stress. And I sit here frozen because I realize that this is how I love myself. I love myself with expectations to fit an ideal, pressure to be more, say more, action more and stress to be louder, stronger, and way more successful. Oh man, I love a gold star, and in my understanding, you don't get one until you have achieved something.

Shit. I understand love by way of gold stars.

Transition is gnarly. Moving to Denver, both Chris and I are getting grounded and finding our voices here, our friends here and careers here. It is a slow process, to be expected. And really, I am impatient. A truthful character flaw.Β And with that impatience comes this obstacle or block to love, both in my mind and in my heart. Both the ability to give and the ability to receive (preferably in the form of gold stars).Β Yet in the transition, you almost have to trip and fall, make mistakes and fail way more often. I feel moving here has been a huge reflection or to speak bluntly, identity crisis. You get really clear on who you are because honestly, I sit alone with my thoughts a lot right now.

Does that even make sense?

So in all this identity reflection mode, yoga going, mountain air breathing, I take a note that I feel like I have been living in this "I love you, when you complete, finish, find, land, create, design _________."

And, there should never be a 'when' after the sacred words, 'I love you'. Β Never.

I love Chris just because I love him. I love Chris now. Period.

(You should know that I started to explain why I love Chris... in a long paragraph. I deleted it about 8 seconds ago. Because when you love someone, you don't have to prove it in a paragraph. You get to be it. No gold stars, all energy. Note to self.)

And finally, I decide to love myself just to love myself. Just now, I decided. A bold move, and even in writing it, I felt an entire shift in my body. As if I threw the metaphorical gold stickers away (or maybe just put them out of sight), the shift felt like a deep sigh of relief, even if momentary. And to be honest, the-sigh-of-relief-shift is different from the shift when I solve a crossword puzzle, win at Scrabble or hike the top of the mountain - when I give myself a gold star for accomplishing a task, goal or game. The shifts feel different. I didn't know that.

Yes, in case you were wondering, this is actually blowing my mind right now.

So, you try it. Say it out loud: I love myself just to love myself. Now.

Sometimes we need a reminder. A verbal cue to create a ripple effect in our body to create a disruption in the status quo of our actions (gold star loving) and let love truly be love.

No strings, no stickers.

GoldStarChart