Love. Why I hesitate to talk ‘about’ it, and why it’s the #1 emoji I send ❤️

It’s the cliché.  I can’t do it.  I’m not a “hearts and flowers” kind of person, yet the red heart emoji is the #1 emoji I send.  What’s that about?

I don’t say “love you,” very often because it’s too casually non-specific.  And if I’m going to convey that emotion, I feel pretty strongly that I need to be responsible for it.  

So I say most often, “I love you,” instead of just “love you.”

Yet… the laissez faire treatment of love is everywhere.  We tend to skate over moments for deeper connection, to pretend not to see the stranger passing us on the street or in the grocery aisle.

We treat those closest to us with expectation more than appreciation.  And we don’t even realize we’re doing this.  

We choose to be laid-back and observing instead of open and intentional, interested and affectionate.

What is wrong with showing love to people?

Can’t we figure out our own unique way to not only say the right thing, but to reach them with our meaning?  To connect with their hearts–even for a brief moment?

It was Memorial Day when I was 14 years old.  My mom was taking us to the cemetery outside the city, flags lining the manicured drives, petunias, geraniums and marigolds in abundance.  

She wanted us as unthinking kids to connect with what Memorial Day really meant.  The observance of others who have passed in service to our country.  And the observance of all loved ones–our own families and others–who have passed as well.  

We parked and got out.  My younger siblings took off toward the swan pond, eager to see if the eggs had hatched from the swan nest.  I began wandering through the different fields of graves, watching the people who were placing flowers or flags in careful devotion.  It didn’t occur to me until later that they were mostly older.

And then over a small rise, as I was making my own way toward the swan pond, I saw the woman.  She couldn’t have been more than 30 years old.  She was kneeling, bent in half over a grave, sobbing.  I was caught– stunned and mute.  My heart felt her flood of grief in an instant, heavy and unstopping.  I found my own eyes suddenly brimming, my heart barely able to watch her pain.  I can feel her still to this day as I write the words.

It was then that I noticed the toddler wobbling his way around the gravestones near her.  He was unaware of his young mother’s heartache, playfully exploring in the spring grass and the warm sun as the waves of her cries carried across the air, unquenchable.

I stood rooted to the spot.  I couldn’t look away from her.  I knew I couldn’t pass her casually by in all of her grief, to go down and see the swans.  I wondered, at 14 years old, if it was appropriate for me to go to her and put my hand on her heaving back.

I stood there for a long time.  At the very least I witnessed her, my own heart broken entirely in two as I stood, not ignoring or walking away.  Her crying continued without lessening.  And yet I knew I wasn’t trusting myself as a ridiculous young kid to go up to her and cry with her.

I have thankfully had many unexpected moments since where I listened to my heart instead of to my head.  I have held strangers and loved ones alike in sorrow, in joy, in frustration, in anger, in fear, in celebration.  

And all of it has been love.  Every ounce.  Every breath.

We get this one single moment.  Just this one, right now.  And then we get the next.  And it is no small act to express sincere love.  To trust ourselves to do what our heart thrusts upon us.  –And to be so aware and aligned with our heart that we know unequivocally what it is nudging us to do.

I have found many ways to express love sincerely and appropriately in business relationships.  

I have found ways to love those who were not open to deeper connection–where I knew with utter certainty that they had received the gift regardless of whether they could meet me there.

I have worked very hard to love in healthy ways those who have wronged or injured me.  Not because I have to, but because it is my heart’s path to freedom for us both, each time.  That means freedom to love.

The love I feel is not passive.  Not ever.  Nor is it casual.  However I have come to this, I am very certain that the love in my heart is a massive continual river flowing to the ocean of our deepest connection with each other.  Like all waters taking their easiest course to the sea, my heart cannot do otherwise.

And so that is why the red heart ❤️ is the #1 emoji I send–while I simultaneously balk and cringe at clichés.  That is why I will never miss an opportunity to meet someone where they are.  Love is the sincerity behind my intensity as a person.  

My ways of love are my own.  I believe we all have our own ways.  Yet it is our greatest responsibility and gift to make sure in our own ways, that we are not half-assing our love.  

That we are not keeping ourselves partly held back because of fear of what others will think–Who Cares?!  

Or because we have been hurt.  Yes–and you and your heart are stronger than that hurt!

Or because we think so little of our own worth that we believe what we have to offer is not good enough, or is just not enough.  It is greater than you think.  You… are greater than you think.  

And when you extend your love sincerely without asking that it be validated, you will feel with total certainty how truly important you are.  Just like every other person.

That is the great secret.  Love gives to the giver and the receiver alike.  

It is a gift of grace that continues with a person whether they acknowledge it or not.  

It transcends all the ridiculous ways we separate ourselves as humans from one another.  

To truly love is our most radical act of life.

❤️, C

Self Care = Living a Life You LOVE Now

Recently in one of my groups, I asked them to think about and share their “Rules for Loving Myself.”  There were pauses, a few sheepish smiles, a few “Oh sh#@, I don’t even know where to start” looks, and one very perplexed face in the group.

As we dove into sharing our thoughts about what would make a rule for loving the self, it became clear that there is confusion around this idea.  It stems from the concept of self care.

Obviously how we define self care is very individual.  But I found that my people were conflating self care and their rules for loving themselves.  We don’t know differently.

As one of my uber-smart clients was sharing her very steady and practiced ways of taking care of herself such as getting massages, taking time for hot baths, reading for pleasure, fun time with her kids, and ballroom dancing, she also mentioned slowing down.

I paused her there.  I then walked through with her how she has a well-developed set of self-care practices that she regularly follows through with, and that’s fantastic!  But, I told her, they are not the rules of loving yourself.  This gave her pause.

As she stepped back from the self-care practices and considered the question again, she observed that her life was continually running.  A full schedule every day, always so many things to do, even her down-time had a plan.

She considered that what she felt she was always needing was to slow down.  To move through her hours in her day with more presence and awareness of her life.  “I guess I would say a rule for loving myself would be to slow my life down to be more present in experiencing it.”


In a session with another client, I was trying to break through her ultra-type-A mindset regarding self-care.  In her case, she would self-care the hell out of herself in order to keep on her million-dollar schedule, keep her clients needing her, and stay crucially important to those she served.

As I kept trying to work through the problems in this approach to self-care, I suddenly blurted out, “Self care means living a life you absolutely love, right now!”

I stopped.  

That was it!  That was the true essence of self care.  It didn’t mean I couldn’t go at breakneck speed sometimes.  And yes, it might mean massages, lunch dates, time in nature, chocolate cake or bubble baths…  BUT, self-care was not those things.  

Self care meant showing up to my life straight-on to make it a life I loved, in all the ways, right now.  Loving my life now, was–is–loving myself now.  The point of self-care is to love myself.

How am I doing?  Am I loving myself?  Am I loving myself through this life I am living right now, today?  Not tomorrow or this week–just today.

And this brings me back to the Rules of Loving Myself.

What are those guides like precious guardrails on the side of my daily highway, that make sure I don’t head off on a well-intentioned side-road that ends up working against me?

Or put another way, what are those absolutes for loving me exactly as I am right now, that I must make sure are clear to me?  That are there informing my choices both large and small each day?

Ok, yes, Carmell, but could you give me some examples?

I’d be happy to.  Just remember that your rules for loving yourself can’t connect you to ‘my strength,’ they must connect you to your own strength inside.  They must feel powerful to you–not just sound powerful.

Some of mine are:

RULE #1 Nobody gets to have a negative opinion of me that is greater than my positive opinion of myself. 

RULE #2  I am perfect and whole exactly as I am. 

RULE #3  Everything is art. I must always be creating. 

​​RULE #4  My time is how I experience my consciousness–it is the most precious thing I have.  I give myself space in my daily life in order to consciously experience my time. 

But be aware, yours could go a completely different direction.  I came to my rules by coming to know myself.  

Who am I?  I am not my goals, my accomplishments, or my past.  I am not what others think or expect.  I am not my work or my family.  Who I am is not somebody’s partner or parent or child.  Nor am I my intelligence, my spiritual beliefs, my service to others, my philanthropy or my financial position.

So who am I?

It is my journey to answer this question that has brought me to the rules I’ve just shared and many more, that guide the precious highway of my life.

But I can give you a solid clue that will start you off with a bang.

Discover more and more of what you wholly and totally love in your life, and live it.  

Living a life that you deeply love every day will bring you more directly to know who you are inside yourself–the eclectic, unique, beautiful, brilliant funny, powerful soul that you are.

So instead of trying to do self-care, focus instead on discovering what you love–and live it consistently every day.  

Then ask what your own rules are for living this life that you love so much.  From those ideas, ask how they translate into the rules of loving yourself.

Write them down.  They matter very much.  Because you matter very much.

Don’t lose a moment more of your life to what you don’t love.

That is Self Care, indeed.