Sometimes when I am out and about in the world, objects call to me to take them home with me. This heart…the red one was just such a thing. The price tag was all of $2.00 but the message is priceless. The drawing was a gift from my longtime friends/family of choice Janet Berkowitz and Phillip Garber following the life-altering cardiac event (a.k.a heart attack) in 2014. Backstory:  Three years after my husband died in 1998, Phil became my son Adam’s ‘Unofficial Big Brother’ as a role model, go-to-guy and confidant. A few years later he became a father surrogate and evolved into a man Adam called his Pop. He jokingly referred to me as his ‘baby mama’. Phil died July 31, 2017, right before Adam and Lauren’s August 12th wedding. He and I were to walk Adam down the aisle together. Instead, his wife Janet accompanied us.

My initial thought was that “Of course, I love with all my heart.” Most who know me would likely nod in agreement.

The reality is, I don’t. When I withhold love from anyone because their values and behaviors are dramatically different from mine, whether it is on a relatively minor scale such as people who smoke and drop their cigarette butts on the ground, or a major scale, such as the current occupant of the Oval Office and those who are in alignment with his actions, I am not loving with all my heart. Love doesn’t mean approval. It does mean acknowledging the full humanity and worthiness to be loved for every person on the planet.

When I judge myself harshly for being fully human with foibles and frailties, I am not loving with all my heart. When I speak harshly to myself for falling short of my goals and expectations, I am not loving with all my heart. When I tell myself that I will never have certain experiences I desire, I am not loving with all my heart. When I second-guess others’ responses to me, I am not loving with all my heart. When I deprive myself of heart’s desires, because of regrets from the past. I am not loving with all my heart.

What does it cost to love, full out? Risking rejection. Willingness to fall and skin my symbolic knees and have boo-boos. Knowing that I will have to change the mind that has been trained over the decades to view the world and the people in it in different ways. Re-writing the narrative. Going the extra mile and not remaining complacent. Stretching comfort zones.

When I wear a lovely facade and pretend to be something/someone I’m not, I push love away. When I tell myself that somehow I just ‘can’t get it right,’ and others have the key to the locked door that evades me, I turn myself away from the opportunity to enter the chamber of wonder where riches await.

Grateful for the reminder that arrived courtesy of wood, red and white paint and words of wisdom.

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