February is the month of LOVE. "All you need is LOVE." Love is a much
bandied word these days. "Standing on the side of Love." But it was not
a word that I heard much growing up. In fact, it was never said, but
always understood. Of course my parents loved me. But there was not the
"I love you" as we went to bed, or at the end of telephone
conversations. It would be years before I said "I love you" to my
mother—who teared up and said "I love you, too' or my father who said
"harrumph". But I was into my 40s by then, and I said these words for
myself as much as for them.

Saying “I love you” was, for me, like
hugs: not something I grew up with, but something that I made a
conscious decision to do—as a young adult. I tucked my daughter into bed
every night with an "I love you" and later (when she moved away)
finished our phone conversations with an "I love you." She has passed
that one to her sons. So now, I can easily express this sentiment to my
grandsons as I say goodbye, or I get the shortened version "love you"
be-fore they hang up on me.

Over the years, I've struggled with
that three-word sentence. When was it ok to say to a new lover? And when
was it ok to say? Years ago, it was a pre-cious commodity. These days, I
use those words with close friends and fam-ily. The beauty of that
simple sentence conveys the importance that their friendship means to

"Love is a many splendored thing." There is an early love of
your family, of your mother, father, and siblings. There might be the
love of a constant ani-mal companion. As we grow older, it may become
the erotic love of a treas-ured person. Closely aligned with lust and
infatuation, it may grow into a commitment, or it may wither on the
vine. There is the all consuming love of your children (if you have
them). There is the love of our friends. There is the love of our
constant companions—pets of all kinds.

All of these contribute
to our mental well being and health. A new love can make us see things
in a brighter way, an old love can wrap us in warm blan-kets of trust
and memories. A love can be comforting, like the support of friends and
family, or worrying, as when a lover, a child, or a friend is going
through difficult times.

But in the end, I do think that love is still one of the most magical things that I will ever experience, and learning to love unconditionally is one of the most important skills in life that I have struggled with. Like most skills, we need to practice it, constantly perfecting our delivery and acceptance. With luck we get better with that practice. In the end, I feel that my giving of love is often times better than receiving it. And the older I get, I think “it's something that we all need more of!"

Namaste, Kathie

P.S. Thanks to all the musicians whom I have plagiarized!

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