Poop_Emoji_2_largeBe loving no matter what. Interesting to start a blog called, “Poop” with love. But, that’s where this story starts. This has been a practice for me for quite some time now. I’ve had a daily intention to be loving no matter what happens. I’ve had some great successes with this and some epic failures. It’s not so easy all the time.

I’ve found I’m much better at this when things are going awesome. When my boyfriend is being affectionate and loving… super easy to love him back. When someone is nice to me, also easy to be loving. I’ve found this with the world as well. When life is going the way I think it should, also easy to show up loving. This looks like getting green lights, no traffic, sunny days, no lines, money showing up when I need it, and yes, my puppy pooping in the yard instead of inside. When life is going well I find it easier to be generous, kind, and extend loving.

A more challenging practice has been giving loving without requiring anything back. It wasn’t until I set a clear intention to practice this that I realized just how much I was keeping score. I’ll do x for you, but you better do y back. If you don’t, well, you’re off the island. Sounds dramatic, but for much of my life this is how it’s been. I quit relationships pretty easily. I also read something once about an emotional bank account. If a loved one had more deposits in the bank account, things tended to go a lot better. However, if there were more withdrawls it didn’t go as well. I think this is a version of the same thing¬– keeping score.

I found this pattern most pronounced with boyfriends. I’m not going to be the first one to call. No way! That’s super needy. Nope, I’ll let him do that first and then I will call back. Same with “I love you”… only if he says it first. I found myself holding back my love until it matched what he was giving. Or not doing for him what I felt he wasn’t doing for me. For example, if he is not being very affectionate then fine, I won’t be affectionate either. I began to notice that I felt the urge to be loving or doing something kind but I held back. I wouldn’t do it if I felt score was uneven. Interesting.

As I began to practice being loving regardless of the score I got wildly uncomfortable. It felt SO vulnerable to love no matter what. At first it felt like I was being walked all over. I’m giving and giving and giving and getting nothing back. Inside, I suffered with this. I wanted the reciprocation. I tested this out with my boyfriend. At first it was fun. I enjoyed my new increased expression of loving. However, as I felt the scales tip, my mind screamed, “THIS IS SO UNFAIR!” I did laundry. I made dinner. I hugged him. I said, “I love you” first. I wanted to retreat in the worst way. I wanted to play hard to get to see if I could get what I wanted. This was fascinating! I learned this is how I got what I wanted in the past, I would withdraw my love. Usually it worked. If I walked away or didn’t initiate the person would come to me and this felt good. Yuck! This is how I was showing up with those I loved the most– manipulative!

I just sat in the discomfort of it. I kept going. If there were something I was wanting, I would find someone to give it to. “Give the thing you most desire,” I kept repeating to myself. I gave money. I gave time. I gave acceptance and understanding. I gave love a lot. I found it easier to do. It became more of a habit and at times found myself doing it without thinking about it much. What happened over time was my craving for getting what I wanted lessened. It wasn’t so much about me and my needs. I was more focused on what I could do for others. I didn’t need approval and validation so much. It was like a craving. At first not getting it seemed to make it worse, and then it eased. And then a really funny thing happened… I realized this isn’t what I’ve really been wanting all along. I’ve been chasing love my whole life. My favorite song, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Love was never enough. When I stopped trying to get it, I realized I didn’t need it. Super weird, I know. I was fine when I was giving without receiving. I didn’t shrivel up into a pile of dust and blow away. I actually did just fine. And then it gets funnier… I felt more love than ever before. WHAT?! Yes, I felt a deep sense of love and connection. When I stopped trying to get it, there it was.

So, then I went for a deeper level of this practice. I began to play around with being loving when I was receiving anger. This was tough! I started this with clients. They would often be hurting, irritable, and take their pain out on me. I didn’t take it personal and did my best to stay loving with them. I got pretty good at it actually. I think this is part of what made me so good at what I do; I could remain loving. Just when I was starting to feel pretty awesome I tried this with my boyfriend. Ouch. Yeah, ego got in the way a bit. I found myself getting hurt and being angry right back. At first, I couldn’t catch myself until after I had already responded in anger. I kept practicing and practicing. Slowly my awareness increased. I could feel my hurt and my desire to want to hurt back. I noticed it and let it be. I worked on not judging myself about how I was showing up.

I got better at. I could feel my hurt, pause, and respond loving. It didn’t always feel good, but wow the results were astounding. If I could catch myself and pause and choose something loving within seconds my anger and upset was gone. It was like magic. This was cool. Fights that left me reeling and raw for days now lasted minutes. How was this possible? This was cool! I’m not perfect at it, but this is one awesome practice. I’m in upset A LOT less of the time.

So, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I’m working on becoming a master at love. Then… the poop. My neighbor’s dog happens to poop the largest dog poops I have ever seen. They are more along the lines of cow poops. So, these HUGE poops show up in the yard and I felt my masterful loving practice take a dive. I just couldn’t find a place of loving with this poop situation. At first I retreated to old habits, I ignored the poop. I left it in the yard, but then I would see it and it would piss me off all over again. Then I tried bitching about it. I complained to my mom, which made me feel better at first, and then worse. The poop continued. I refused to pick it up. “IT’S NOT FAIR!” I heard myself say. I then I caught it. I was back in the this for that kind of loving. Shit, literally.

I sat with this and asked myself, “What would I want?” The answer was simple, “for the poop to be picked up.” Ok. This was my work. Each morning I went out with a bag and cleaned up all the poop. It didn’t matter whose poop it was, I picked it up. At first, again, super uncomfortable. I just kept going. A few days later it didn’t bother me as much. A few days later, it felt loving. As I picked up the poop I thought of my neighbor and how much I appreciated her. It felt awesome to do this small thing. I’m not sure I got to the point of enjoying it, but I wasn’t suffering.

Just as I was clean with the whole poop situation (it no longer disturbed my peace) something amazing happened. My neighbor showed up on my doorstep with the most amazing bouquet of flowers. “Thank you for loving my dog and for picking up so much poop. We are really working on this.” I almost cried. This was so kind and I could feel her sincerity. She was beyond grateful and it was palpable. It was an incredibly moving experience.

Each morning I get up and look at those flowers. They are so beautiful… beyond beautiful. In them I see the true essence of loving. Disgusting poop turned into beautiful flowers. This is exactly how I felt on the inside. My judgment and anger was a huge pile of poop in my heart that I was carrying around everywhere. When I finally was ready to clean it up inside of me it turned into beauty. I wish words would capture the love I feel for this kind of love in the world. Being kind just because. Helping another because it’s kind. Picking up poop because it needs to be picked up. Giving a dollar because you have one to give. Returning anger with kindness because we are all doing our very best. Loving no matter what.

I am beyond grateful for my neighbor and her dog. They have been my greatest teachers about the most important thing. Imagine how much less shitty this world would be if we all just cleaned up a little poop– inside and out.