Toni O’KEEFFE ~🌹❤️
~ Toni O’KEEFFE
Today as I sat on the beach with my little dog Bo’, a young girl, about 4 years old, ran up to us happily excited to see Bo’ digging in the sand.
She gushed at how cute he was, stroked his fur ever so gently, softly tapped his head and utter the words; “good boy” and giggled as he licked her hands and face.
Her mother ran up to where we were and apologized for her daughter’s intrusion and excitement and told her to leave us alone.
“It’s quite alright,”I said. “His name is Bo and he loves the attention.”
Then, quite spontaneously, the little girl looked up at me and said “I love you, and I love Bo.”
It was very sweet.
“We love you too,” I replied.
“Thank you for making Bo so happy today.”
The little girl smiled.
Her mother appeared very uncomfortable, quickly grabbed her child’s hand and pulled her away. She turned to her daughter and in a harsh tone said; “You don’t tell strangers you love them. That’s silly, stop bothering this lady.” She went on publicly scolding the child and told her; “You don’t even know this person, You save those words for people you know.”
A quiet reserve fell over this sweet child’s face, erasing her glow and her smile.
Her slumped shoulders and nervous hair twirling, were signs she was confused about what she had done wrong.
I wanted to pick her up, hug her, tell her she had done nothing wrong and, in fact, she had made me and Bo quite happy.
But, I couldn’t, it wouldn’t have been “appropriate” and, her mother had quickly whisked her away.
Let me be clear, I understand the importance of educating our children about stranger-danger. Some people might not want their child running up to strangers saying “I love you”. This situation was different. And, it was a lost learning moment for the mother and the child.
There is nothing more beautiful than the innocence and vulnerability of a child speaking their truth.
Most young children do not possess social restraint, so their raw honesty can be insightful and even comical when they say things we might find inappropriate, such as;
“your breath is stinky like a dog butt”
“I think I barfed in my underpants”
“farts are my favourite thing about granpa”
“mom you look dizzy in that dress”
“we don’t eat meat ‘cause our moms trying to be a virgin”
……or other words and phrases describing the plethora of thought swirling inside a tiny human mind(and yes these are actual raw honest phrases spoken by my two little boys, in public, decades ago).
So when a child is moved to say the words “I love you” its a beautiful act from a little soul under construction.
Saying “I love you” in a platonic way, shouldn’t feel scary (my god I just wrote about this a few weeks ago).
When children say it, it should feel wonderful and they shouldn’t be shamed or scorned.
In a world filled with anger, hate and distrust, we need little people to feel comfortable expressing LOVE.
So what’s the moral of this story?
Our words have power.
The words spoken by this sweet child, lifted me up. Her words were beautiful, authentic and spoken from the innocence of her tender heart.
The words spoken by her mother, were filled with anger, disappointment, perhaps fear, and quickly had the power to bring a very happy, excited child down, and put me off balance for the rest of the day.
Our words can create ripples that echo on long after we’ve left them behind ( this post is an example of just that).
So lets create ripples of kindness that flow gently into (and beyond) each other’s lives, rather than cause and waves of fear, hurt and destruction.
****Fun fact, I was not successful in my attempts to eliminate meat from my diet. I did not become a “vegetarian”. (You might have to go back and re-read paragraph 11 to fully understand 😁)
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
By Toni O’KEEFFE
Is social media ruining our personal and romantic relationships?
Are we forgetting how to communicate?
Are adults spending too much time scrolling through pics of their ex, the cute girl or guy from the office or their latest obsession, when they should be spending time building and growing the important relationships in their lives?
Apparently, we are.
One third of all divorce cases since 2016 in the UK, cite “social media” in the proceedings as a cause for disharmony in the relationship. Another survey suggests one third of all relationship break ups “worldwide” are the results of social media behaviour and engagement. 😮
But let’s be clear, it’s not necessarily the fault of social media, it’s the temptation it breeds to be stealth, sneaky, and disengage from real relationships and engage in unfettered behaviour that’s causing the problem.
The ease in which people can scroll and get away with flirting, sexting, viewing, stalking and micro-cheating make it easy to engage online.
This environment also makes it easy for disinformation and conspiracy theory’s to be spread and wreak havoc on our family’s, and our personal and romantic relationships.
I’ll write more about that on another day.
Good communication is essential to good relationships. Our obsession with social media has destroyed communications between partners, parents and their children and caused breakups between friends.
A 2015 poll of adults found that 89 per cent admitted they took out a phone to view social media during their last social gathering. 82 per cent say the conversation they we’re having, deteriorated after they did.
71 percent also admitted to using social media in ways they knew their partner wouldn’t like, e.g stalking an ex, flirting, staying connected to a crush or viewing pics of a cutie from work.
A number of studies also point to a decline in our mental health from over exposer to social media.
Social networking sites are rampant with opportunities for self-promotion and ego-boosting. The number of narcissists feeding on likes, new followers, complementary comments and love emoji‘s from those willing to offer them up to feed their own desires and fantasies, is staggering.
Both the narcissist and those following them (and enabling them) are contributing partially to the downfall of real life communications and relationships.
A study led by mental health research Julia Brailovskaia, showed that narcissism is associated with high levels of Facebook and Instagram use. Her study also shows, the need for popularity and ego boosting can be dangerously addictive.
Of course social media is not all bad. It allows us to stay connected, reconnect and reach out. However, when it takes us away from our primary relationships, makes us mentally unwell, impacts our real world communications, erodes trust in our romantic relationships or is being used to spread misleading information or cause harm, then maybe it’s time for a break.
There is so much information on this topic, so, I’ve posted a few links below which relate to the studies and information I’ve referenced above for those who are interested in this topic.
So, on this happy day-after-Valentine’s-post, I think it’s time for me to take a break, turn off my social media platforms for a bit, and spend some time in the real world.
Wishing you a happy, healthy, real world, rest of the week.
I recently had a conversation with a friend that went something like this;
Friend; “Do you ever worry that the woo-woo stuff you post might put people off?”
Me; (*laughing) “Whats woo-woo stuff ?”
(I knew what she meant, but wanted to hear her say it😊)
Friend; “You know, all that hippie-dippy, peace, love and soul speak stuff you post.”
Me; “Why would I worry?”
Friend; I don’t know, some people might find it weird.
Me; “Well then they’re not my people.”
What struck me during this conversation was how easily society has accepted what is artificial and manufactured. Yet, what’s authentic and “REAL” is often called weird, kooky or “woo-woo”.
There are a few definitions of “woo-woo”.
I like to think of it as tapping into ones deepest wisdom in the expression of our authentic and creative self.
For some of us, we reach a certain age where the energy it takes to be anything but authentic is exhausting and violates who we were meant to be. And so, we set our woo-woo free. (Yes, I chuckle like a 12 year old, each time I type “woo-woo”)
The world needs your woo-woo
I bet your woo-woo is beautiful!😉
Embrace “the Woo” in you 😁.
If people can’t accept you and your Woo as you are, they’re not your people.
So get out there and get your beautiful, hippie, dippy, woo-woo on and have a fabulous weekend ☮️.
Love Toni ~🌹❤️
“Today, I will love you as you are.
Tomorrow, I will do the same.”
What if we made this pledge to each other every single day?
What if we decided to stop judging each other based on race, gender, looks, wealth, lifestyle, belief system and trusted that each of us is on the path designed specifically for our individual soul?
What if we were kind, embraced our differences and lifted each other up when we witnessed one another struggling, rather than strike each other down?
What if we acted from a place of love, rather than a place of fear?
What if…we stopped making it so hard for each other?
Today, I will love you as you are.
Tomorrow, I will do the same.
Toni O’KEEFFE ~ 🌹❤️
Life became easier when I surrendered my own tenacity and began to live with an open heart and an open mind.
There are things I’ve discovered and learned along the way, which I might never have unearthed if I had remained locked in my own stubbornness.
Our struggles often result from our inability to see the possibilities beyond our own thinking and the doctrines imposed on us.
Living with an open heart and mind means considering alternatives, actively listening to opinions different from our own, being kind before jumping to judgment and being aware of signs along the way pointing you in new directions.
Open minds and open hearts, have created more music, magic, poetry, peace, love and light in the world, then closed minds and cold hearts.
By Toni O’Keeffe
Once upon a time there were three little bulbs planted side-by-side in a magnificent garden.
Slowly they began to wake. Their shoots began to break through the earth. Two of the bulbs were tulips, the other, a daffodil.
As they began to grow, the tulips turned to the daffodil and said “Your stem is too thin you must make it thicker to look like ours.”
The little daffodil tried to make her stem the same thickness as the tulips. She couldn’t and she became sad.
As the petals begin to develop on each of the flowers the tulips looked to the daffodil again and said, “No, your petals must be red.”
The little yellow daffodil tried to make her petals red, but she couldn’t, and she felt even worse about herself. She didn’t understand why she was different.
The tulips demanded that her petals be wider and turn upward like theirs but the little daffodils petals reached outward and resembled the sun, beautiful and yellow.
As the three bulbs grew the tulips ignored the little daffodil because she was not like them.
One warm spring day a little girl wearing a Santa hat came up to smell the daffodil.
“Why am I different,” the daffodil asked the little girl, “Why can’t I be like them?”
“You’re not supposed to be like them.
You’re supposed to be like you. The garden would be boring and plain if all the flowers looked the same. I think you’re beautiful as you are, that’s why I choose to come over and gaze at you.”
This made the little daffodil smile. She now felt proud and happy that she was different.
You, me, each of us, can only grow into whom we’re meant to be. Love the bits of yourself that resemble nothing you’ve ever seen before.
Yes, even your weird beautiful bits.
Toni O’K~ 🌹 ❤️
By Toni OKeeffe
As we begin the slow descent out of the dark clouds of 2020, and prepare to launch a new year, things are still not right with the world.
Covid continues to wreak havoc across the planet and is now way to close to home. Election chaos continues to play out for our friends in the south. There is civil unrest breaking out in several countries around the world. Wind and rainstorms are keeping people hunkered. Christmas is pretty much cancelled and there will be no fancy festivities to ring in 2021.
People are out of work, many businesses have shut down, we can’t travel, and we miss our families and friends. Add to that, many of us haven’t touched another human in months, haven’t gone to a concert, a play, a restaurant or a celebration, wedding, birthday or graduation for almost a year.
However, amidst all the chaos, I’m still happy, really happy. My spirit is light, my heart is settled and my mind is peaceful. I find multiple reasons to smile or laugh out loud every day. My inner child is as goofy and playful as she has ever been. I’m truly grateful for this life despite what’s going on around me and the rest of the world.
This feeling of contentment is proof (for me) that happiness comes from the inside.
No matter what is going on around us, we still have the capacity to feel joy and be grateful.
What happens inside us, not outside us, is what regulates our happiness meter.
In my case, having hobbies, exercising daily, eating right, meditating, spending time in nature and engaging in creative activities, all fuel my sense of positivity and well-being.
This sense of happiness and well-being doesn’t mean I’m not affected by what’s happening around me and the people I love and the world, of course I am. It means I won’t let it unravel me or get me down, because that serves no purpose.
When the weather outside is turbulent, we generally seek shelter from the wind, rain and the cold by coming inside and creating a cozy internal retreat. When the world around you is turbulent, seek shelter from the chaos by creating a cozy, peaceful place in your mind.
You can do this by engaging in positive and creative activities, practicing gratitude, staying physically active, being kind and carrying out random acts of kindness, celebrating small successes, eliminating toxic people, toxic media content and toxic substances from your life. Read uplifting information and listen to uplifting music.
Make your mental wellness your first priority.
Life’s storms can not rain on your peace of mind, unless you let them.
Don’t let them.
Toni O’K~ 🌹❤️
By Toni O’Keeffe
I’ve often wondered why certain people have come into my life, or why I stepped into theirs.
Some have turned my world upset down leaving me to clean up the rubble and put the piece of my shattered self back together.
Others made my think, made me laugh, made me shake my head, inspired me or loved me just enough and then they were gone.
I have come to understand and appreciate that sometimes we’re meant to step into someone’s life for barely a moment.
Just long enough to leave a small imprint and change each other in ways we might never know.
We walk together from one place and time to another, and then, head to separate shores, knowing with great clarity that we’re profoundly different, although not quite sure how.
Be grateful for everyone that comes in and out of your life. Wish them peace, happiness and love.
Each of these beautiful souls brought you something magnificent, even if it was painful. They helped shape you into who you are.
And who you are, is wonderful.
Thank you for stepping into my world, if only for a moment.