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Sunlit Paths in Italy and Thoughts on Love

I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately. What it is, what it looks like, but mostly what it feels like.

For part of my life I lived in a world where feelings were not merely dismissed as unimportant, they were regarded as dangerous and thus religiously suppressed. “Love” (kindness, affection, praise) was a control mechanism, only given to those who were obedient and submissive, who fit the model of behavior that was declared acceptable by those in authority. Those who did not fit that model were denied love and instead subjected to public humiliation, shunning, and silent treatment.

Love was a reward that could be taken away at a moments notice and held as ransom until the required behavior was exhibited.

It bred deep fear and insecurity, and obliterated any feelings of worth. We ceased to matter and a culture of performance, insincerity, and smothering of independent thought and personality flourished.

I’ve since learned that such behavior is not love at all. It is a cruel, twisted way to control others. It is evil.

Since leaving that world I’ve had to relearn what love is. I read about it, think about it, and find myself watching people a lot to see how they love each other.

I’ve learned so much.

Love, real love, does not try to control, it frees.

It does not try to suppress, but reaches down and pulls up, giving a boost until the struggling person can see light again.

It does not diminish or cut down, it highlights the good things and praises any sort of progress.

It does not discourage with I-told-you-so’s and if-you’d-only-listened-to-me’s, it hugs tight, heartens crumpled spirits and says, “No worries, mate, you’ll do better next time”.

It does not take advantage of fear or insecurity, but emboldens the quavering soul and reminds them of their strength and courage.

It doesn’t leave someone hanging in distress. No. It does whatever it can to assist and support.

It does not try to smother or mold the character or personality of another, instead it looks for opportunities to liberate from oppression and cheer wildly when false beliefs lose their power.

It does not try to force someone to grow or heal or process at a pace faster than they can handle or in a way that is more comfortable to them. No way. Real love accepts people right where they are, comforts them when they’re weepy, validates when they’re angry, soothes when they’re exhausted, and YAHOOS enthusiastically when battles are fought and victories won.

It does not pretend and it is not fickle. It is faithful and dependable. Even when it wavers because of fatigue or illness or plain ol’ selfishness, it owns up to it, says sorry, and starts over.

Most of all I’ve learned that Love cannot last if it doesn’t start with our own dear selves. We all matter. So much. Our happiness matters, our health, our peace, our safety, our well-being and freedom of thought, lifestyle and belief. It all matters. If we don’t believe that we deserve Love, eventually we’re not going to believe that others deserve Love either. It must start with us so it can bubble over to everyone we meet.

I really like this quote by Marilyn Monroe:

“Keep trying, hold on, and always, always, always believe in yourself,
because if you don’t, then who will, sweetie?
So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly,
keep smiling,
because life’s a beautiful thing
and there’s so much to smile about.”

Love makes life beautiful. Even when we’re sick or broke or sad or lonely or unemployed, if we’ve got love for ourselves and love for others, we’re rich as kings.

lamp post in Italy

I’m so very, very grateful for the real love I’ve experienced in my life, both in my past and in my present. So thankful for the amazing people who have lived love before my eyes and shown me how wonderful it is.

What is something that makes you feel loved?

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Millie Brown - A beautiful post Krista and gorgeous images. x

Christina Fields - What beautiful words about love. When someone spends time with me, one on one, I feel loved.

Lauryl - Ah, so true. And it’s impossible to love others without first learning to love yourself! I keep forgetting to tell you this- but your photos aren’t showing up when I load your site through my google reader. ;-(

Jeanne Horak - Such wise and beautiful words! Somebody REALLY listening to me always makes me feel loved 🙂

Andrea and John - This is so beautiful and wise — especially the part about being rich if you have love. I think so many people are focused on the wrong things in life these days…it’s destroying our world.

Krista - I’m so glad it was meaningful to you, dear @wanderingsheila:disqus XO And I’m thrilled that you feel so very loved by your children. 🙂

Krista - You are so right, dear Val. Mutual respect is essential. I’m truly sorry that you did not experience this in your marriage, but I’m so proud of you for recognizing it and not subjecting yourself to that anymore. You are amazing. XO

Krista - That means a great deal to me, @ff2c260b4ec4b22b76a0ef583c690426:disqus 🙂 I’m SO glad you are back in my life after all these years. 🙂 xo

Krista - Thank you so much, dear @joanneeatswellwithothers:disqus XO

Krista - I love your heart too, dear @facebook-508421472:disqus 🙂 I’m happy beyond measure that you have such a good man in your life who treasures and cares for you so beautifully. 🙂

Krista - I’m so glad that you’re on my journey with me, dear @facebook-100001665607063:disqus 🙂 It is wonderful to have a sister. 🙂

Krista - I’m overjoyed to hear that you love YOU, dear @a5b99497e14ab889089f7c9a80ce07b2:disqus 🙂 I haven’t read that book, but I’m going to look it up at the library asap. 🙂 xo

Krista - “nurture the spirit” – I love that, @a5b99497e14ab889089f7c9a80ce07b2:disqus So much. That is beautiful. 🙂

Krista - Thanks so much, T. 🙂 I guess the rarity of that kind of love makes finding it infinitely more precious. 🙂

Krista - I’m learning it, @budgetjan:disqus 🙂 More and more all the time. 🙂

Krista - Thank you, Katie. It is such a good quote with fine, cheering thoughts.

Krista - Thank you, Paradis. 🙂 xo

Krista - I will cry with you, dear @twitter-112533047:disqus XO I’m so glad we are safe and loved and cared for. 🙂

Krista - You are so welcome, my friend. 🙂 I need those reminders too and I’m always so grateful when then come. Wishing you MUCH real love. 🙂

Jonathon N - Krista, I resonate with this so much. Thank you for posting. “Love, real love, does not try to control, it frees.”

Andi Perullo, L.Ac. - I’m crying this is so beautiful! I couldn’t agree with you more about what real love is.

mlleparadis - gorgeous photos as always Krista. great post. nothing more for me to add. xo!

Katie@Cozydelicious - Lovely photos and lovely thoughts. I adore that quote from Marilyn Monroe too.

budgetjan - I think that you have a very strong spirit Krista, and I wonder if you think so to, I hope so. Glad to know you are happy and enjoying life.

Ulysses S. Rant - Another great post, K! Your point about “accepting people where they are” as a prerequisite of real love is dead-on accurate. It’s amazing how few people in our society grasp that essential truth these days. Oh, and those pics were great…again. 🙂

A Canadian Foodie - In addition, my definition of love: to extend yourself to nurture the spirit, in the non-religious sense, of yourself, or others to work toward you or them being the very best they can be. That is true loving. It is ACTIVE – ACTION. XO

A Canadian Foodie - I love me. It was a long and hard road, but I do. Great reflection. Gorgeous photos. Have you read The Road Less Travelled by Dr. Scott Peck. Do it. Now. XOXO V

Krista - You are so right, dear @katyabroad:disqus XO It IS unconditional, not fair-weather at all.

katyabroad - Beautiful, calming photos and words, Krista. Real love is simple; it is unconditional. As soon as someone places conditions on it, it is not love.

Breanne Mosher - Oh darling, You are so very lovely. And so very brave. I’m proud of you for this journey you are on and for enriching my journey. I love that bit that if we love ourselves and love others, we are rich as kings. So true.
And the pictures? Scrumptious.

Rebekah Fordon - Dear Krista, the truth of your words is so beautiful it hurts. I love your beautiful heart.

Fear can only breed more fear. I think that all those people who offer love and acceptance as a reward for some standard of behavior are doing so because they have the same fear in their hearts that they would try to destroy us with. They do not truly believe the love of Christ. They do not truly believe the unconditional, perfect, and completely sufficient love of God our Father. They are afraid that they will not measure up to His standard (which of course they couldn’t without his grace) and so they create misery for themselves and everyone in their power. I recently heard faith described as resting your full weight on Christ–like dropping down in a strong and comfortable chair after a weary day’s work. Those who manipulate and harm us have no idea what it means to have faith, to rest. And so they use religiosity and a twisted gospel to justify themselves and their cruelty.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

What makes me feel loved? My darling husband and dearest friend who knows me and my frailties more intimately than anyone else, and still comes home to me everyday with open arms, encouraging words, and sweet, unconditional love.

Adriana @ Classical Quest - Darling Krista — You are truly a beacon of light and love. Thank you for opening your heart to the world without restraint. You’re the real deal my friend!

Joanne (eats well with others) - This is such a beautiful post! I’m so glad you’ve found real love my dear.

bellini - Love is created out of mutual respect for one another. This is not something I had in my own marriage and not something I have found since. What makes me feel loved is to be accepted for who I am and am not.

Cathy - Krista this is an absolutely gorgeous beautiful post. Thank you dear friend for writing this 🙂 There are so many important thoughts in here and I really love the Marilyn Monroe quote. My children make me feel loved.

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