Thoughts on Love and Completeness

“I got my class picture today, Mommy. I’ll show you my best friends and the girls that chase me.”

“Do you like it when the girls chase you, Biz?”

“I like it because they can’t catch me.”

This from my six-year-old who refuses to kiss me because I’m a girl. He has maintained for at least a year that he does not like girls. However, he will make an exception for me since I’m his mother. Of course, I hear a lot about the girls at school that chase him and his friends. There are only a few of them, but “a whole pack” of girls.

I guess this is the beginning of love in kindergarten.

I’ve had love on the brain lately. My own thoughts on love and how they have changed over the years. How very different my idea of love is now from when I first my ex-husband when I was 18-years-old.

What do we know about love at 18? Or at 6? Or at 39, for that matter?

Finding myself on the other end of a 20 year relationship with one man, I wonder how different my life would be had I not made that commitment.

Honestly, I don’t want to find out. I love where I am in life now, and I wouldn’t be here had it not been for my experiences over those years. I did not have a bad marriage, nor do I have any regrets. In fact, I have two loving boys that remind me of this fact every day.

But I find myself more sensitive to other’s perceptions of what love is or should be now. I cringe when I hear someone say that their significant other makes them complete. Do we really need another human being – one human being, specifically – to be complete? How can we love someone deeply if we are not complete ourselves? And who up and decided we are only supposed to have one true love in our lives?

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t tell at least one person, other than my kids, that I love them. I’ve said that I found true love all around me in the midst of getting divorce. It was already there, of course. I just didn’t appreciate it as much as I do now.

I feel more complete than I ever have in my life.

What I’ve found over the past year in my single life is that I really like being alone. Not lonely. Just alone. Not dependent on another human being for acceptance or worthiness. Not making sacrifices to maintain some semblance of balance. As a fiercely independent person, being single suits me quite well actually. I have a lot of people and a lot of passions in my life. And the two boys I do live with are quite cute and fun.

How often do we chase after love, the kind of traditional love we are taught we are supposed to want, thinking it will bring us happiness? Maybe we like the chase, even if we don’t admit it. But what are we looking for? Are we really so incomplete that we need another human being to fill a void for the rest of our lives?

We all need love and compassion in our lives. But for me, for now, I’m happy to be chased but not caught.

Philanthropy Friday: What Compassion Means to Me #1000Speak

Today is the day. The day 1,000 bloggers join together to write about compassion. Why? Because the world needs more compassion. People need compassion. And when one blogger noted that we all need a village at least once in our lives, another blogger had an idea that spread like wildfire. And here we are today.

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I’m not going to lie. This week has been a tough one for me. One year ago around this time, my world changed drastically. I am coming up on the anniversary of telling my children their mother and father would no longer be together. That same week? I received an email containing a book contract to review.

There is so much to be happy about, yet still so much to heal from.

There were many times when I needed a village last year. I still need one every now and then. We all do. We are human. We are fragile, even when we are strong.

Compassion? It’s what keeps the world spinning. It’s what prevents us from giving up. Whether we are on the giving or receiving end of compassion, it gives us hope. Happiness. Gratitude.

We are living, breathing creatures who need love in our lives. Love that can come in many forms.

Since we are writing about what compassion means to each one of us individually today, I thought I’d sit down and write the first things that come to my brain. You can’t overthink compassion, after all. And, really, what better timing for me to reflect on compassion than right now? (Also perfect for Philanthropy Friday, as compassion is one of the simplest ways to give back.)

To me, compassion is:

  • Encouraging words during a struggle
  • Friends who know what you need even when you don’t
  • Loving, supportive communities that exist without judgment or pretense
  • The touching moment when you realize you are with someone who understands what you are going through
  • Knowing sharing just a small part of your story has helped another
  • Comfortable silence
  • Reassuring hugs from my children
  • Giving whatever you can, because there are people far worse off than you
  • Saying I love you and truly meaning it
  • Sharing a passion with the world
  • Smiling at a stranger
  • Listening
  • Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes
  • Letting your guard down
  • Late night conversations about everything and nothing

What does compassion mean to you?

1000 Voices Speak

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. Read past stories here.

Philanthropy Friday (rewind): Fostering Shelter Dogs

The following article is a guest post from my good friend and granola extraordinaire, Ilene Evans. It was originally published on May 3, 2013. Her recent post about helping your neighbor, even if it’s not the easy thing, inspired me to share her past words today. 

We stood on the grass as the van made its way over the gravel driveway. As it came to a stop, E. emerged with a brown cocker spaniel in her arms.

“This one’s yours!” she said as she handed the dog to me. “Isn’t he a beauty?”

Could Brock be any cuter?

Could Brock be any cuter?

The kids gathered around me as we said hello to our first foster dog Brock.

That was a year ago.

We’ve fostered fourteen dogs since.

For those of you unfamiliar with the role of dog foster parents, we are the bridge between the shelter and the permanent home for a dog, most of them narrowly escaping being euthanized at high kill facilities. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (“ASPCA”), approximately 3 million to 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters annually. This number translates to 60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats entering shelters are “put down,” and never have the chance to find a home or return to the home they strayed from.

Animal rescue organizations around the country work with extensive networks of shelter workers, rescue drivers and rescue pilots to release dogs from shelters and transport them to families who are willing to care for them until they find permanent homes.

In my house, rescuing dogs is a family affair. Not only are my three children involved with the care of our foster dogs, they are also acutely aware that every time we take a dog, we are saving a life. Is it difficult to say goodbye to the dogs when they find their permanent homes? Absolutely. It’s not unusual for there to be tears on adoption day. We love these dogs. As a foster family, that’s part of our job.

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I’ve had many people ask me questions such as these.

“Won’t the kids be sad when the dog is adopted?”

Of course the kids will be sad.

Some people have gone as far as to say this:

“How can you let your kids get attached to these dogs only to have them leave you?”

When we love something, we tend to want it to stay around forever, but nothing is forever. That’s not how life works. We will all have many goodbyes in our lifetime, and the farewell to our foster dogs is bittersweet. It’s that good kind of hurt, of knowing that our dog is moving on to an owner who will love that dog the way we did, creating room in our home to save yet another life.

With every goodbye, comes another hello.

With every goodbye, we give another shelter dog a second chance.

For more information on becoming a foster parent to shelter dogs, contact your local ASPCA

ileneevans

 

Ilene Evans is a single mom, entrepreneur and owner of Hippie Chick Granola Co, a small batch granola co. that serves up delicious, fun, surprising flavors.

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. Read past stories here.

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