It’s the week of love here at our household. Making valentines, planning a date with my husband, figuring out the candy limit for the kiddos – we’re all about it. Sure, as a culture we seem to have made every holiday about consuming more, and I don’t need to stuff my body full of chocolate hearts to feel the love (although it helps!). But there is something beautiful about all of the messaging we’re inundated with this week. Be mine, love you, be true, you’re all I need.
Here is my challenge to you, emerging women: let’s put ourselves on the other end of all of these loving messages. It seems like a simple change in perspective, but I find this to be one of the hardest things to do. Buddhist author Tara Brach calls turning love inwards like this “radical self-compassion.” I love that expression, though I feel like it’s almost redundant, because in my experience self-compassion is the most radical action we can take in the world.
“Self-compassion is the most radical action we can take in the world.”
As I have felt my way through big challenges like motherhood, marriage, career and now entrepreneurship, I see that I can sometimes fall into the trap of trying to manage my difficult emotions by beating myself up. I think, “I will give myself the ass-kicking that I need to really get off the couch – for once – and make real change in my life.”
Well, I don’t know about you, but for me this approach sucks. What has worshipping your unworthiness done for you lately? Nada. I love this painfully obvious yet game-changing reminder from Tara: “Imperfection is not our personal problem – it is a natural part of existing.” Right?!
“Imperfection is not our personal problem – it is a natural part of existing.”
And according to the research Kelly McGonigal presents in her book The Willpower Instinct, self-compassion is the shortest route to making long-lasting change of any kind in your life. It’s the mother of all New Year’s resolutions! And so I made self-compassion my only goal for 2015 – and maybe the next decade.
Like anything transformational, self-compassion and self-love only come alive through practice. HERE is my simple approach to this powerful practice – culled from the amazing Self-Compassion authors I have mentioned in this post already. Check out these 4 Steps to Radical Self-Compassion, and let the self-love-a-thon begin this Valentine’s.
This goes deep, friends, and the mind’s instinct toward blame and shame is powerful. You have to hit these practices hard, and don’t let up. Get those hands on your heart 50 times a day if you need it. It will be the best valentine you have ever given, or received.
Love is compassion and feminine power, love is sacred and courageous, love is truth and beauty, love is the world’s universal language and the only efficient panacea, love is a force that shifts paradigms and transforms the world around us… Love comes in all forms, and its strength knows no bounds. Embrace it.
Go beyond the clichés of Valentine’s day, and use the occasion to celebrate all the miraculous facets of love. Here are 10 love stories that serve as an inspiration for humanity, stories that teach us an indispensable lesson – that we can overcome any challenge with the power of love.
1. Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre
Simone de Beauvoir, the mother of the modern women’s movement and the author of The Second Sex, and Jean-Paul Sartre, the father of existentialism and author of Nausea, met in 1929. For 51 years, their love, their conversations, their letters, their rebelliousness, and their work gained them the status of one of the most glorious and controversial couples of 20th century. To this day, they remain famous for their open relationship, a model of existentialist, free love. We admire their relationship because it was complementary not possessive, enriching, not consuming, incorruptible, not selfish.
“We were two of a kind, and our relationship would endure as long as we did: but it could not make up entirely for the fleeting riches to be had from encounters with different people.” – Simone de Beauvoir
“I am mastering my love for you and turning it inwards as a constituent element of myself. This happens much more often than I admit to you, but seldom when I’m writing to you. Try to understand me: I love you while paying attention to external things.” – Jean Paul Sartre
2. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt
They are one of the most glamorous and famous couples in the world, yet their status, their success, their beauty, and their famous Hollywood nickname -“Brangelina”- does not define them. They are parents to six children, avid philanthropists and human rights activists. Recently, in a courageous op-ed in New York Times, Angelina Jolie credited her “loving and supportive” partner Brad Pitt when talking about her double mastectomy. He later responded:
“Having witnessed this decision firsthand, I find Angie’s choice, as well as many others like her, absolutely heroic. All I want is for her to have a long and healthy life, with myself and our children. This is a happy day for our family.” – Brad Pitt
3. Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller
They met in Paris in 1932. He was a struggling American novelist, she, an eccentric Spanish-Cuban diarist and feminist. Together they lived an intense love affair that lasted decades. Their relationship led to some of the most passionate love letters ever written. They inspired each other and vehemently supported each others’ work. We recommend you dive into their contagious intimacy by reading A Literate Passion: Letters of Anaïs Nin & Henry Miller, 1932-1953
“Before, I almost used to think there was something wrong. Everybody else seemed to have the brakes on. […] I never feel the brakes. I overflow. And when I feel your excitement about life flaring, next to mine, then it makes me dizzy.”– Anaïs Nin
“Anaïs, I only thought I loved you before; it was nothing like this certainty that’s in me now. Was all this so wonderful only because it was brief and stolen? Were we acting for each other, to each other? Was I less I, or more I, and you less or more you? Is it madness to believe that this could go on? When and where would the drab moments begin? I study you so much to discover the possible flaws, the weak points, the danger zones. I don’t find them—not any. That means I am in love, blind, blind. To be blind forever!” – Henry Miller
4. Marina Abramović and Ulay
Their moving love story went viral a few times in the last couple of years. In the international art scene, Marina Abramović and Ulay (Frank Uwe Laysiepen) are widely known for their performance art work. They started collaborating as artists and living together in 1976. They often made their deep connection a subject of their artwork, including performances such as Relation in Time, 1977, Breathing In/ Breathing Out, 1977, and Rest Energy, 1980. Their final collaboration was dedicated to their break-up in 1988 and it is called “The Great Wall Walk”. Starting from opposite ends of the Great Wall of China, Marina and Ulay met in the middle after walking for 90 days. It was their way to say goodbye. A painful, restoring and memorable goodbye. They rarely saw each other afterwards. Their emotional reunion took place in 2010 when Ulay showed up at Abramović’s MoMA performance entitled “The Artist Is Present.” Watch the video below and get ready to be moved to tears from this incredible reunion.
5. Michelle and Barack Obama
They met in 1989. Michelle was working at a law firm, and was assigned to mentor Barack Obama as a summer associate. Barack didn’t love the corporate law world, but he soon found himself falling for Michelle. It is clear today, that “Obama could not have run had it not been for his wife: he has specifically said she had the power of veto,” as told in The Guardian. They are a truly inspiring couple, because regardless of their status and power they manage to look authentic, down-to-earth and… in love.
“Sometimes, when we’re lying together, I look at her and I feel dizzy with the realization that here is another distinct person from me, who has memories, origins, thoughts, feelings that are different from my own. That tension between familiarity and mystery meshes something strong between us. Even if one builds a life together based on trust, attentiveness and mutual support, I think that it’s important that a partner continues to surprise.” – Barack Obama
“I didn’t think it was possible, but today, I love my husband even more than I did four years ago…even more than I did 23 years ago, when we first met. I love that he’s never forgotten how he started.” – Michelle Obama
6. Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz
Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz’s dedication to communication with each other is remarkable in many ways, not the least of which is sheer volume.
“I’m getting to like you so tremendously that it some times scares me… Having told you so much of me — more than anyone else I know — could anything else follow but that I should want you —” – Georgia O’Keeffe
“All I want is to preserve that wonderful something which so purely exists between us.” – Alfred Stieglitz
7. Elizabeth Gilbert and Jose Nunes
You may be more familiar with Jose Nunes as “that Brazilian guy from Eat Pray Love,” as Liz Gilbert helpfully points out on her website. Their romance is marked by an eyes-wide-open quality, and they work to keep it a “delusion-free zone” according to Oprah Magazine. Follow their curiously romantic road to marriage (which both of the pair had sworn off completely) in her follow-up memoir Committed.
“I did not demand that he become my Great Emancipator or my Source of All Life, nor did I immediately vanish into that man’s chest cavity like a twisted, unrecognizable, parasitical homonculus.” – Liz Gilbert
“A woman’s place is in the kitchen… sitting in a comfortable chair, with her feet up, drinking a glass of wine and watching her husband cook dinner.” – Jose Nunes
8. Freddie Mercury and Jim Hutton
Decades before marriage equality, Queen superstar Freddie Mercury called Jim Hutton “my husband.” The extravagant showman enjoyed the support and stability of down-to-earth Jim, a hairdresser who loved Freddie for who he was, not for his fame. The story goes that he had never even heard of Queen or Freddie Mercury until they first met. Jim’s memoir Mercury and Me shows an intimacy between the two that endured, especially in Freddie’s final weeks of his battle with AIDS.
“We communicated a lot without saying anything. But he constantly wanted to know that I loved him. And of course I did, deeply, and told him. When he was diagnosed he said to me, ‘I would understand if you wanted to pack your bags and leave’. I told him, ‘Don’t be stupid. I’m not going anywhere. I’m here for the long haul’.” – Jim Hutton
9. Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman
They met when performer/musician Amanda Palmer asked writer Neil Gaiman to pen captions for a book of photos she’d taken of herself as dead. A relationship based on mutual admiration, respect, and trust grew. Each artist brought their own devoted cult-following to the table, and social-media communications with those fans shed an interesting light on the partnership (see this Reddit post: “Ask us anything. Go on. Go on you know you want to“). Collaboration is also key to this duo, including the delightful three disc recording An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer.
“he actually understood me, deeply, and that he loved me as i was and had no desire to harness me. and he wanted to come on the adventure with me, not pin me down to his own plan, and not simply stand by the sidelines and cheer. i’d found an actual partner.” – Amanda Palmer
10. Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart
On camera or off, the chemistry of this great Hollywood couple was legendary. “Bogie,” as she affectionately called him, was enchanted by Lauren immediately when they met on the set of To Have and Have Not. He coached her as she played opposite him in her first movie role, and encouraged her as she frequently stole the scene. The more they worked together, the more they fell madly in love, in true Hollywood style. Undeterred by age difference, the two were married and remained happily so until Humphrey’s death. Lauren placed a whistle in the casket as a nod to the famous scene from their first movie: “You know how to whistle, don’t you?”
“It was all so dramatic, too. Always in the wee small hours when it seemed to Bogie and me that the world was ours – that we were the world. At those times were were.” – Lauren Bacall
We are excited to start a conversation and learn more from YOU, dear emerging women. Please join in with a comment below:
Chelsea has over 15 years of experience in administrative and executive support. After her years of working in the legal and oil and gas industry, Chelsea has made it her passion to fill her life with creativity and incorporates that into everything she does. Her position at Emerging Women allows her to expand on that creativity and assist with empowering women around the world. She is a native of Colorado and enjoys spending time with her husband, her son, bonus son, family, and friends. In her free time she loves camping, painting, and all things creative.
Online Business Manager
Michelle studied Marketing and received her degree from Metropolitan State University of Denver. Her passion for marketing, combined with great attention to detail, and over 7 years of experience in the tech-world makes her a valuable asset to the team! In addition to Emerging Women, she is also a solopreneur and works with a number of different clients in the online business realm. She is an experienced Online Business Manager and Virtual Assistant who specializes in marketing operations, project management and online course launch management. She is a Colorado native, mother of two dogs, a cat, and a turtle, and step-mother to an amazing little girl. In her spare time she enjoys live music, good food, traveling, and spending time with her friends and family.
Power Circle Administrator
Jen comes to Emerging Women with over 25 years of experience in event operations and volunteer management. She has worked various types of events as a Volunteer Manager for Integral Life conferences and as an Event Coordinator for various large arts and sports festivals throughout Colorado. Alongside her passion for creating and producing events, she worked as a hospital administrator for over a decade in one of Denver’s largest hospitals helping make care affordable to hundreds of patients. Jen was born in Lima, Peru but has spent most of her life in Colorado. In 2016, a year sabbatical morphed into a life living abroad. Jen has been living in Cusco, Peru for the past four years and cherishes her life in the Andes mountains. In her spare time she enjoys exploring the world, playing capoeira, and deepening her yoga and meditation practices.
Director of Power Circles
For over 13 years, Nicole has been a producer and connector in the field of personal and professional growth and transformation, creating diverse content, life-changing curriculum, and exquisite live and online experiences. She loves to unite and facilitate people in their work to live more good, true, and beautiful lives. She’s honored to bring this diverse expertise to Emerging Women. For the past two years she has been the lead producer for Emerging Women Live, and now is bringing her extensive production, coaching and facilitation skills to EW’s Power Circles. Nicole works in private practice as a Certified Integral Master Coach™, through her company, Unabashedly You, and has worked with hundreds of women (and men) individually and as a group facilitator. She also creates programs and interviews fascinating teachers and wellness experts in her role as U.S. Content Producer for Conscious Life. She is the co-founder of Core Integral, an educational company offering a comprehensive and accessible approach to learning integral theory. Prior to this work, she owned a large and lively restaurant and brewery in Pennsylvania. She has studied extensively and worked alongside Ken Wilber (Integral Theory), Daniel Brown, PhD (Tibetan Buddhism, Self-Development, Attachment, and Positive Psychology), and Sofia Diaz (Hatha Yoga and Feminine Embodiment). She holds a Masters Degree from Lehigh University. She regularly delights in the sunshine and mountains of Colorado with her two dogs and her partner Clint, and is a new mama to her daughter Truly Golden.
Founder & CEO
Chantal’s mission is to increase women’s leadership across the globe. After earning an MBA from the University of Colorado, Chantal left a career in medical device manufacturing in search of work that would align her dedication to transformative leadership with her passion for living an inspired, impactful life. In September 2012, she founded Emerging Women, a global leadership and media platform that serves over 70,000 women worldwide and has advanced women’s leadership within Fortune 500 companies such as HP, Oracle and more. Chantal’s ultimate vision is to weave feminine leadership and authenticity into businesses, and to create a world where women have a strong voice in the shaping of our future. Prior to Emerging Women, for over a decade, Chantal served on the executive team as the VP of Sales and Marketing for Sounds True, a multimedia publishing company focused on spirituality, personal growth, and holistic living. Chantal is a sought after speaker delivering keynotes at The Grace Hopper Celebration, Wisdom 2.0, and many other stages where women’s leadership is critical to the conversation. When she is not dancing or working to empower women around the world, Chantal enjoys family time with her husband and two sons in Boulder, CO.