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Love? Seriously?

I am far from calling myself enlightened. There’s so much work, the journey is long and there’s so much to do, before you can say you are done. And I am so far from being “done” and I am pretty sure it’s not going to get easier, but I have learned some things that are certainties for me.

What I am writing about, in my experience, absolute TRUTH.

I talk about Love a lot. Because that’s the only explanation I can give for much of the success I can now claim.

How did you get here? Love!

LOVE? Seriously, come on, Chrissanne. There’s more to it than that! What about all of the hard work it took?

Work? It wasn’t work, it was LOVE.

Holding on tight to the only certain thing in my life has been the answer to EVERYTHING.

What if I fail? What if this is the wrong path? What if I am not good enough?What if they think I am a fool? What if I can’t get past this point? What about when I’ve been rejected, and no one seems to love me?

LOVE is the only answer that makes sense. Love is there, even when we don’t want it, and it’s there even if we can’t see it. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be alive. There’s love, it just might not fit “our” personal definition, desire or expectation of what love “should” be.

Maybe there’s another explanation, and maybe you might call it something else, and indeed, in your life it might be something else, because you didn’t have the same experiences that I have, but if I trace my survival back to when things were at their worst, I just find LOVE.

Let me explain a little bit.

When I was a 17-year-old runaway (oh, the book I will write someday), I stood in front of a juvenile judge at the Polk County courthouse and tried to explain what was wrong, why had I run away from home?

I am pretty sure he was not expecting the words that I blurted from my defiant mouth as I looked at him with anger and frustration.

“Your Honor,” I said, in my orange shirt and green pants, “They love me too much!”

With those words, I turned around to point accusingly at an entire bench which was taken up by my entire family. My mother sat next to my step-father, who sat next to my father. He was accompanied by my step-mother, and then there was my aunt and uncle, my grandmother and, of course, my shrink. “They won’t let me LIVE my life!” I shrieked, as the tears spilled from my eyes.

I was too distraught to notice, but I am pretty sure there were some stifled laughs in the courthouse.

I was the only person that judge saw that day that probably had so many people caring about her. So many teenagers who are in trouble have no one. Maybe a caseworker, or a mother or grandmother, but not an entire baseball team! (My brother was away at college in Montana, otherwise he would have definitely been there too!)

There is so much to learn in this life, and as I think back on these experiences, I realize that LOVE was what I was rejecting. I resented it. I pushed away from it. It was not them that had it wrong. (duh!)

It was me that was keeping me from the success that was waiting for me — if only I would let it in.

I was not allowing love to play the role it was designed to play. I was suffocating on the very thing that was keeping me alive. I had convinced myself, in my adolescent mind, that I wasn’t good enough for that (or any love) and yet, I was craving more love from other sources.

Love isn’t perfect.

Let’s get that straight!

There was definitely some suffocating going on, which might not have been the healthiest. But, dysfunctional or not, when love is pure, it’s there for the long haul. And it doesn’t go away, even if we reject it.

And even if it takes us 20+ years to realize it!

Today, it’s obviously different. The love of my family has been constant. But along the way, I have added the love of myself, and the love of my partner, Craig, and the love of my team, my community, my friends. The real kind of love that refuses to allow the judgement, comparisons and pettiness get in the way, but really truly embraces what is possible with the gift of love. The love that sees through the smile, and knows what’s behind the work being done, and the sacrifices being made and the challenges being overcome. The love that appreciates every single effort that is made to create life worth living. Because when love is present, we all know what is at stake, even if we can’t talk about it. We know. Love knows.

That has been my life, and the only thing I can point to when I think of how far I have come.

Heck, I was just born — like anyone else — to create something beautiful, as I believe I have with the businesses I have been designing, and this blog that I have been writing, and the heart that I have been growing.  There’s nothing special about it – everyone has access to it, but maybe we all get stuck trying to make it more complicated. But no matter how I try to look at it, the only thing that I can tell you, is that Love is what has made it all possible.

And, love is also what makes it all worthwhile. 

Connecting to the Light

I have always been a sensitive soul – (I know, many of you would recommend that I don’t share something like that in such a public way) easily hurt, idealistic and passionate about the entire human experience. Longing to feel connected, valued and understood. Often feeling far from all of these.

Feeling ALIVE has really been the only goal I have known.  Most of the advice I was given growing up was to “toughen up” “stop worrying about what other people think” and “your skin is too thin, the world will eat you alive.”

At times, I felt like I wasn’t meant for this world. If I was going to succeed, I would need to change who I was – and that seemed like selling out and, well, pretty impossible.  So, I have continued to fight the good fight – claiming my space in the world and continuing to do everything I can to be human, in spite of the vulnerability and risk that brings.

Ironically, as I have become more comfortable with (and accepting of) my thin skin, and by claiming and accepting my vulnerability, I have become stronger and more confident. I have also learned to use it as my shield against negativity and cynicism. Accepting myself, as I am has allowed me to discover  that there are many other people like me, who appreciate humanness.

We are a growing army, and I love feeling the energy of all of you who shine your light on me with your kindness, and acceptance, love and appreciation of who I am.

This has been the greatest reward of being myself. To be met with the opportunity to connect and grow with you, my fellow journeyers – and I realize now, that was why, initially, I was led to embark on this quest.

To find you, and, if you existed, to connect with you in a very real, meaningful way. Because these connections make me feel alive, which is the only thing I have ever truly wanted!

This is exciting!  And yet, the most unexpected result of all has been to begin to experience success. To become a leader of a company, and the founder of an organization – I call it a community – that believes in the strength that comes with connection and relationships that are built with trust.

My journey has been – and continues to be – filled with challenges, which is to be expected. But I’m often struck at moments like this with amazement and awe of the person I have become.  And each time I allow myself an indulgent moment to pause and reflect, as I am doing today, sharing this message, I realize that God is here, shining His light and encouraging me to answer His call. He’s been doing this all along.

My resistance to the idea that I must change who I was in order to succeed, has been Him. The voice in my head has been Him whispering; encouraging me to be myself and to lead with courage, confidence and openness.

To listen and learn. To always love, in spite of the ugliness, and hate that fills the world, He has been nodding and smiling, encouraging me to keep being me. And today, I humbly and happily accept His request.

If there’s anything I can offer to you, the reader, it is this.  By shining your light, and sharing your love with the world, you welcome and embrace people like me.

Love is magnetic. It pulls out others who love, and gives them permission to be themselves; to give their best; to forgive; to accept; to be human, and to embrace all that it means to be a child of God. So, please be that person.

Even when it seems like it’s not “right.” Even when it seems like you should care less.  Care more. Because that is what we need today.  It’s what we have always needed. We can’t give in. We are ONE.