Don’t Retire, ReFire: The most important relationship in your life

By Gail Supplee Tatum, Columnist, The Times

February, the month that celebrates L-O-V-E.

Love comes in many forms. We each think of love differently, depending on our experiences and where we are in our lives.

There’s young love, seasoned love, love of a caregiver, love of animals, love of nature, love of life and I could go on.

Having said all of that, thee most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. That’s self-love.

Speaking from my own experience, most of us, who are Baby Boomers, grew up in a home that was not filled with hugs, kisses and saying, I love you. Oh, make no mistake, in many of the homes, love existed, it just wasn’t expressed in a visible manner. I knew my parents loved me, even though they didn’t say it.

Individuality and authenticity was not instilled in us as children, nor discussed, either. It wasn’t that it was discouraged; it just wasn’t something that our parents knew to even talk about, because their parents didn’t talk about it.

Sadly, because I am of that generation, I feel I didn’t do a great job instilling individuality and authenticity in my own children. I didn’t teach them to love themselves and who they are, first and foremost. However, I did tell them every day, and still do tell them, that I love them. Besides the words, I showed them. They have no doubt how much they are loved, from growing up, to the adults they are today.

Now as a grandparent, I take every opportunity to show and tell my grandchildren how much I love them and to instill in them the power of loving who they are.

Being an individual is what is cool these days. Thinking for yourself and not going along with the crowd is what makes you stand out and be noticed, admired and respected these days. Thankfully we, as a society, are beginning to get something right!

We are our own critics, and it’s the reviews we give ourselves that matter most, not anyone else’s.

Those who criticize us are entitled to their opinion but it has nothing to do with us, at least that’s how we should feel if we are truly connected with who we are.

Here are some ways to find the connection, to yourself or back to yourself, which is necessary and essential for a fulfilled life that will draw people and opportunities to you which will enhance every aspect of your life.

  1. Be authentic. When we dare to show who we really are by revealing both our strengths and weaknesses, we discover our connection with the world around us. We are connected to life when we are connected to ourselves. Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are. – Brene Brown
  2. Be vulnerable. Put yourself above another, not in terms of being first, but in terms of opening yourself up and allowing others to see the real you. When you’re honest about yourself, you’re going to draw people to you. There is no greater act. Loving yourself isn’t vanity, it’s sanity. – Andre Gide
  3. See your light. It’s behind your eyes. When you look in the mirror do you see the essence of who you are? It was William Shakespeare who said, The eyes are the window to your soul. Sometimes we lose that light and must find our way back by recalling a special moment, event, picture, quote or song that brings your light back. Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical. – Sophia Loren
  4. Eliminate negativity. Step away from any person or situation that makes you feel less than, and tries to diminish your spirit. Do not compromise the core of who you are. You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anyone. – Maya Angelou.
  5. Create a daily ritual and/or mantra to keep you centered, grounded and able to be authentic, to be vulnerable, to see your light and recognize when a person or situation attempts to mar your essence.

Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world. – Lucille Ball

If you’re looking for love and can find someone to love the you that you love, you will find the blessing.

The ultimate blessing is to get to know who you are. Take the challenge, if you haven’t done so, already.

The time with you, will be time well spent.

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