The “L” word

I use the “L” word a lot. I tell my family, friends, even my dog, “I LOVE them.”

I love my home, my community, my morning coffee, cinnamon buns, Prosecco, chocolate, harp music, a good “who-done-it”, walks in the forest, starry nights, the sound of the ocean, crazy wild storms, songs that make me cry and spontaneous adventures ( lol- sounds like an online dating profile😁).
My point is, each of us use this one small word; “LOVE”, to define the emotion, passion and affection we have for so many things.

So why then are so many afraid to say it? Maybe it’s because we’ve made saying “I LOVE you” weird. Our socialized definition of the word is based on romantic love, when actually, LOVE goes further and so much deeper than that.

If you’re a part of my tribe and I tell you “I LOVE you.” it means; I’m grateful for the bond and history we share, the memories we’ve made and the time we’ve spent together. I appreciate the energy and wisdom you bring into my life. I’m drawn to your creativity, your soulfulness, your wit, the way you lift me up and make me feel. When I say “I LOVE you” I’m saying I’m glad you were born and I’m happy you’re a part of my life.

Now, what’s so scary about that?

Just saying the words “I LOVE you” is uplifting to the one speaking them.
Being told we’re loved is not just nice, it’s necessary. We all need to know we matter.

LOVE has the power to inspire, comfort, heal, and pull us up from the darkest of places. There are more songs, books, movies and poetry written about LOVE then any other topic. We have special days to celebrate love, we’re consumed with finding love, and without love our species would, well, die off.

In a world that always seems to be in peril, sharing our love for one another is the glue that will strengthen our bonds and allow us to better navigate the challenges, conflicts and disagreements life throws at us.

So let’s stop making it weird.
Spread the “L”word. I promise the more you give, the more you’ll get.

Have an absolutely fabulous day.
PS – I Love You

Look for the light

Imagine you’re on a day hike in the forest, it’s getting dark and you wander off the path.

Your lost. You don’t know which way to go. You don’t have provisions to get through the night, you’re feeling stressed, hopeless, anxious and mad at yourself for not being better prepared.

Then, as you’re stumbling in the dark, exhausted and disoriented, you see a light in the darkness. A spark of hope surges within you and you make your way towards the light.

Your anxiousness turns to excitement.
Your hopelessness turns to optimism.
All because you saw a small comforting glow in the distance.

You’re overcome with joy when you come upon another hiker sitting next to a cozy fire. This person is a stranger, yet, in this moment they’re the most important person in your life.

They offer you shelter, warmth, food and water. You graciously accept. You’re relieved and you feel safe.

In the morning this stranger guides you out of the forest to safety. You hug, shed a tear and say goodbye. Your grateful, humbled and alive.
~~~~~~~
We all stumble. At times, we feel lost, alone, anxious, stressed or hopeless. Pride or self doubt might stop us from seeking help.

You sweet soul, when you’re lost, do what you’d do in the forest, look for the ones with the light and let them guide you.
Toni O’KEEFFE ~🌹❤️

This storm will pass

Not all of life’s storms are destructive.
Some come to shake us up, so we can put things back together, not the way they were, but, the way they’re meant to be.

Good things grow from the messiest parts of our lives. Every challenge, loss and disappointment brings new opportunities.

There really is calm and light after every storm. Yup, after, every, single, one.
🌈 ☀️❤️☀️🌈

Toni O’KEEFFE ~🌹❤️

We’re at our best in the beginning of our journey and at the end.

Spending time with a four year old or, a 94 year old, reminds us how wonderful it is to play, to laugh, to dream, to love, to observe butterflies and to spend time getting messy eating watermelon, planting flowers or making a campfire.

These wise older and younger souls will gladly take your hand and guide you to the forest or the seashore, as they know these places are extraordinary and make the best classrooms.

Time spent with little people and our elders affirm the fact that naps are necessary, the sun, the stars and the moon are absolutely magical and our beautiful planet deserves to be loved.

They’ll encourage you to be who you are, wear what you want (the more colour the better)and remind you to let others do the same.

Their animated and colourful stories will take you to places you forgot you were missing and remind you that the world is still a dazzling and fascinating place.

You’ll giggle as they whisper secrets in your ear and tell you it’s okay to talk to your cat, dog, bird or other animal because these creatures are wonderful friends and they always listen.

The young and the old teach us kindness, patients, compassion and the importance and beauty in being still when we stop to inhale the essence of a buttercup, tulip or a rose.

Never underestimate their wisdom and the powerful impact they can have on your well-being. Their lingering hugs and the enthusiastic excitement shown when they greet you, is a reminder that you’re awesome and you’re loved.

Human beings are at our best in the beginning of our journey and at the end. It’s during these periods we know what matters and we happily give love away.

The periods of life in between can be confusing. Our minds become overwhelmed and overstimulated by things not really important at all.

We seem to park the wisdom of our early years, somewhere along our path. If we’re lucky we find it again before this amazing adventure ends.

If you’re feeling lost, spending time with little people or your elders can be grounding and humbling. We were them, and we’ll be them again.

Toni O’KEEFFE ~🌹❤️

I don’t know 🤷🏻‍♀️

As a child I recall my parents, teachers, babysitters or other adults asking me questions where my response quite often was “I don’t know.”

– Why did you shave the cat?

– Why didn’t you do your homework?

– Who ate the dog food?

– What’s wrong with you?

– How did a bowl of macaroni and tang end up in the fridge?

– What are you going to do with your life?

– Why is there a chicken sitting on the couch?

My answer to all of the above ~

– “I don’t know.”

Then their response would be;

– “I don’t know,” is not an answer.

So, I’d be forced to make up some phoney-baloney answer about why I did something or why something happened. Even though the correct answer really was “I don’t know.”

Fast forward a couple decades and this “have-to-have an answer” programming, has gotten some of us into trouble as adults. We turned into “know it alls” who were taught to always come up with an answer or at least pretend we had one.

** believe me, when we try to camouflage the fact that we don’t know; people know we don’t know.**

This behaviour can then manifest into some people believing they do know more or better than the ones who really do (when clearly they do not). They can become dismisses of the opinions, comments, or suggestions of others, they may even blurt out random facts or answer questions that haven’t been asked, to demonstrate their astute knowledge on a range of topics. And thus, a new “know it all”is born.

I was in my mid thirties by the time I realized we ain’t fooling anybody when we play the game of know-it-all. We come off as rude, smug, arrogant or flippant.

None of us have ALL the answers.

We’re not supposed too. Knowledge of our own ignorance is a sign of wisdom and growth. According to Socrates, knowing that we know nothing – is both a sign of humility and perhaps genius.

So rather than teach our children that they must have answers, let’s teach them to ask questions, to listen and gain other insights and perspective to make sure they understand. This approach may breed more tolerance, compassion, understanding, acceptance and cooperation. (and wow, our world needs more of all that right now.)

There’s a sense of freedom and vulnerability when we utter the words “I don’t know” or when we lean into another person and say;

“Can you help me figure this out”

“I don’t understand,”

“Tell me more.”

The best leaders I’ve worked for were the ones who did more listening than talking. They asked for advice, admitted when they didn’t know, we’re constantly reading, learning and sharing what they knew. These leaders surrounded themselves with people who thought differently than they did and offered different perspectives.

Its not the job of a good leader to “know it all,” it’s their job to build a tribe of diverse individuals who bring a unique experience and wisdom to the collective. We should live our daily lives the same way, appreciating those that look, think and are different than us.

I found a message I had written in the margins of my 2001 journal, ( it’s what inspired this post) It read;

“Toni you’re smart, but if you ever think you know it all, remind yourself you don’t, you have some answers, but not all of them, when you’re lost, go find the ones that do.”

I thought back on 2001 trying to remember what might have prompted me to write that down. There were no real clues in my journal entry, so, the truth is “I don’t know.”

Love Toni 🌹❤️

**because I know you’re dying to know; The chicken (which turned out to be a rooster) was sitting on the couch because my younger sister had kidnapped it from school to save the poor thing from becoming a dissection project. 🐔❤️

Let’s not wait till we die, to love, appreciate and honour each other.

As I get older, the frequency in which I receive news that a friend, acquaintance, colleague, neighbour or family member has passed away, increases.

When we, or someone we know, loses a loved one, the realization that our time here is temporary comes sharply into focus.

Each loss moves us to scour the cracks that separate our days, making sure we didn’t miss an opportunity to say;
“I love you”,
“I miss you”,
“I’m sorry.”
“Can I help.”

We look back on that last conversation and our last moments together and replay what we wish we had said or done.

Then, we “what if” ourselves, asking questions like;
“What if I had been there?”
“What if I hadn’t been so angry during our last conversation?”
“What if I had reached out?”
“What if we had spent more time together?” …….would things have turned out differently?

We waste so much time and energy, being “busy”, angry, negative, stubborn, dismissive, judgmental, stuck or offended.

“What If” we set our egos aside and let kindness, compassion, gratitude and love be our guides? Then perhaps when it’s time to say goodbye, we will not lament, but celebrate and give thanks for the pleasure of sharing time with the ones we loved and lost.

It’s the impermanence of life that should make every waking breath a cherished event. We should savour every beautiful, simple, pleasure and every ordinary moment shared with those we love.
Every child’s laugh and every story retold by our elders for the umpteenth time, should fill us with warmth and delight.

Let’s spend more time holding the ones we love as we marvel at the explosion of colour created as the sun rises and sets. Let our hearts be moved by the power in every stormy sky or the magic in each twinkling star and rainbow above.

Lets hold each other in reverence every day for being the amazing, unique, miracles we all are.

Let’s not wait until we die, to love, appreciate and honour each other.
Let’s do it while we’re still here.

Don’t be afraid to get lost

Don’t be afraid
to get lost,

We’re not meant
to stay in
one place.

We’re meant
to roam, to go
on big adventures,

to discover
amazing things
about ourselves
and our world,

to meet people
with different
perspectives
and ideas,

to trip, fall and
get back up,

to make a few
wrong turns
and get lost,

all so we can find
our way home again.

So, Go – Get – Lost.

TO’K~🌹❤️

Organic Therapy ~

When you seek respite
from a noisy mind,
or a noisy world,
go to the forest.

She will welcome you in
and never ask you to leave.

She will embrace you and
offer you sanctuary.

She will listen, comfort you
and calm your tired soul.

She will not judge
or ask you why you came.

She will allow you to sit quietly
and just breathe.

And sometimes,
that’s all we need.

TO’K~🌹❤️

Stop worrying so much about do little ~

Beautiful friend.
Stop worrying so much about so little.

Don’t worry about the ones that left you behind, be grateful for the ones who are still by your side.

Don’t worry about promises not kept or plans that didn’t work out. They weren’t supposed to, they weren’t meant for you.

Don’t worry about the past or be angry, jealous or spiteful about days gone by. Be grateful for the lessons and move on.

What hurt you yesterday, has already begun to heal today. If yesterday didn’t go exactly as you hoped, today the slate is clean, you get to start over.

We’re all magical, messy, mixed up little souls painting lives that are constantly works in progress. So, my beautiful friend, stop being so hard on yourself and stop worrying so much, about so little.

Be gentle with yourself today and every day.
Just relax you messy little soul, just relax.
TO’K~ 🌹❤️

Pain can be a beautiful teacher~

We learn more during life’s painful moments and challenges, than we learn in our moments of glory.

Each stabbing ache, each crushing disappointment, each heartbreak, every loss or painful fall from grace, allows us an opportunity to grow and become stronger.

Whether it’s emotional or physical; pain forces us to slow down, rest and take the time we need to heal.

Getting knocked down isn’t always a bad thing. Pain can leave us humbled, wiser and more patient. It allows us to lower our veil, be vulnerable, more tolerant and compassionate towards the pain we see or even cause, in others.

Sometimes pain itself is the cure for the things in life that hurt us; as it slows us down long enough to evaluate what and who is important.

When pain knocks on your door, let it in, sit with it. Let it show you what it wants you to see, to learn or to grow into.

Pain always, ALWAYS, brings with it opportunities for transformation. Opportunities to wrap yourself in your cocoon, and when you’re ready, to emerge with greater clarity about who you are, what’s important, why you’re here and how you want to live, love, play and BE.

Pain can be a beautiful teacher. Don’t waste your pain on “the pain” use this opportunity as a stepping stone to chart the next chapter of your journey.

Your pain will hurt you, it will also help, heal and lead you.

TO’K ~ 🌹❤️