What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything….
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.
— Fr. Pedro Arrupe
The skill of “falling in love” may seem like a weird way to start a new year of blogs. Stay with me for a minute and I think you will understand where I am going with this.
Years ago I attended a day-long workshop with Matthew Fox that involved learning universal dances of peace. Honestly, I do not remember any of the dances, which is truly odd because I love to dance. But what I remember him saying, or at least I think I remember, is this: “The cure for depression is to fall in love hundreds of times a day.”
Of course, he was not talking about romantic love, although who doesn’t love the sensation of falling in love with another human. It is intoxicating. He was talking about falling in love with your ordinary life.
I know that 2020 was a ridiculously difficult year for most of us. For some, it was harder than for others. Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse sky-rocketed. Jobs were lost or furloughed. Money and food were in short supply. People died.
More and Less
AND, there was also so much to love about the “more” of last year. I loved the increased intimacy of the year. The necessary reliance on those under your own roof. The small, outdoor gatherings that meant exponentially more than they ever have. More silence and stillness. For those of us who were able to work, more money in savings. Increased home cooking. All kinds of ways to help people. More creativity.
Personally, I also loved the “less” of the year. Less busyness. Minimal shopping. Fewer obligatory gatherings. Only occasional weekends away. Less eating out. Almost no fussy dressing. And make-up? Almost obsolete.
So there was more, and there was less. And perhaps it was an opening into our ability to fall in love with life again. If 2020 was the year you got in a rut— and who didn’t— of work/zoom meetings, eat, Netflix, sleep, Zoom, eat, Netflix, ad nauseum, may 2021 be the year you remember how precious life is.
12 tips to help you fall in love with your life again
First Things First
Begin and end every day with a grateful heart. One of my favorite Bible verses is from Thessalonians 5: 15-20.
15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.
These are good rules for life in general. But I want you to especially notice this does not say be thankful FOR all things. But IN all things. If we learn to see, there are always things that should bring thanks to our hearts and lips. Every day, I encourage you to pay attention to what you are thankful for.
Be intentional about your relationships. Like gardens, relationships need tending. Make those phone calls. Consider writing a note of love and thanks to a friend or family member. Spend quality time with those you say you love. Be kind and generous. Practice the compassionate hypothesis.
Use your senses. This sharpens your connection to the environment you live in. Touch, taste, smell your way into the joys of life. Smell the air. Sniff those spices. Touch your loved ones. Really taste your food. One of my favorite theologians, Frederick Buechner, says it this way:
“Listen to your life, see it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis, all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
Laugh. And cry. In other words, feel your feelings. Being able to see humor and irony in the world and in your life is an important skill for lovers of life. Being able to tolerate grief and discomfort is also an important skill. Honestly, if I couldn’t laugh I could not do the work I do. Life is so damn ironic sometimes, and we humans are so weird sometimes, it is just worth a good laugh. Or a good cry.
Some Things Are Harder Than Others—But So Worth It
Serve others. I love this poem by Mary Oliver. Perhaps you would take the time to read the whole thing. But here is the line that grabs me every time: it’s giving until the giving feels like receiving. You have a life! Imagine that. When we help others, we usually receive more than we give. Volunteers are needed everywhere, including right in your own home. If you need help finding a place to serve others, message us and we will help you.
Practice Forgiveness. This is one of my favorite topics to talk and write about. In many ways, the happiest and most successful people I know have mastered the art of forgiveness. Here’s a working definition for you, altered slightly from the original which I learned from Carolyn Myss.
“Forgiveness means being able to look someone in the eye, either really or symbolically, and say, ‘What you did really hurt me. AND, it has no negative power in my life anymore.’“
If you need help with forgiveness, give a call. I can help you with this.
Be willing to change. My dad use to say the only thing you can be sure of in life is death and taxes. I would add to his list. Change is a constant. Nothing stays the same. Ever. Our bodies change, our friendships and partnerships change. Technology changes. The earth changes. Jobs change. You know the list is endless. The more rigid we are, the more difficult life becomes. Stay fluid and embrace the changes. Learn to pivot frequently.
Learn new things. The brain loves learning. It is food for the brain, and our brain has a lot to say about how much we love life. Therefore, learn something new this year. Read a new genre. Take up a new hobby. Study the environment. Learn about our nation’s history, or your personal/familial history. Learn how to use a new tool. Try being curious about another person. Life is vast. What can you learn this year?
You Have A Body; Imagine That!
likes to dress up like this:
shoulders and all the rest
Mary Oliver, Dream Work, 1986.
Start and keep moving. Our bodies were designed to move. A lot. Hours of sitting (I get it. I sit for a living.) are terrible for your body and your mind. Start by stretching. Walking. Dance in the kitchen. Wiggle in the shower. Ride a bike. Skip down the street. Rake the lawn. Bend over in the garden. Sure, more formal and rigorous exercise is good for you, too. But you don’t have to do that. Just start moving.
Listen to music. Sing along loudly if you can. One of the things I have missed most during 2020 was going to live music events. Whether that was a singer-songwriter solo, the symphony, a jazz combo, the choir at church, or the random singer at a restaurant, live music has always fed my soul. But really, we all have access to music on our devices and on the radio. Music changes our brain waves. Music lifts us out of ourselves. Get the tunes crankin’! Here’s a favorite one of mine.
Care for your body. What does your body need? Right now, this moment. What do you need? Perhaps you are thirsty or hungry. What kind of nutrition would be most nourishing for you? Maybe you need a break from the screen. A few minutes with your feet up might be helpful. A long, hot bath or shower might do you some good. These bodies of ours are sacred. Fall in love with your body.
Name your dreams. Then make some plans to make them happen. We all know that CoVid put the kabash on some of our dreams for 2020. We also know that we will get on the other side of this pandemic and we need to have some dreams. So name them. Start working towards them. Adapt the old ones to fit the new world we are living in.So fall in love and spread the joy
Life is marvelous, even in its messiness. Maybe especially in its messiness. Friends, join us in falling in love with life again. It’s all you have. Why not love it!
Let me close with the rest of the quote from the beginning of this blog. I have kept this quote on an index card in my nightstand for years. It has guided me often, and I hope it will guide you as well.
Fall In Love
Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.
Fall In Love — attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ, 1907-1991
From Finding God in All Things: A Marquette Prayer Book © 2009 Marquette University.
Life is Messy and Marvelous, Friends. Fall in love with it again in 2021.
Amy S. Montanez, D.Min.
I have a private practice of individual psychotherapy and marriage counseling in Columbia, SC. A few years ago my book, Moment to Moment: The Transformative Power of Everyday Life, won Spirituality and Health’s top 100 books of the year. I am passionate about many things in life, but especially about psychology, spirituality, dancing, cooking, marriage, family, friends, writing, traveling, and learning. www.amysandermontanez.com
You can email me at [email protected]
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