Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Tags Posts tagged with "love"

love

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There is evidence that having sex makes you smarter!

I’ve been doing a lot of research on sex and the brain for my new book, NeuroLoveology: The Power to Mindful Love and Sex and I discovered ways for us to grow our brain cells while growing a romantic relationship and even growing our business.

If you are single, you can get someone hooked on you using the secrets of NeuroLoveology. Most people would guess that sight is the most important sense when it comes to attraction, and they are right as far as igniting that initial spark. But you maybe surprised, to learn that the sense of smell is 10,000 times stronger than taste and the most important sense when it comes to creating long-term romance.

To get a new person hooked on you, you need to trigger desire that will release addictive forming chemicals such as dopamine and noradrenaline. That means seducing them with an aroma that turns them on. So, your opening line when flirting should be “What’s your favorite fragrance, flower or food.” Then tell him or her that is also your favorite and make sure to use it on your first date.

If you want to be a better communicator in the bedroom or in the boardroom, NeuroLoveology offers many insights to keep partners happy mentally, physically and sexually. We all have left and right brain hemispheres and while both sides are utilized in nearly every activity, the left side of the brain manages the tools of language and works in a logical and sequential order while the right side is more visual, holistic and creative. Understanding your own, as well as your partner’s, preferred brain hemisphere sets the foundation for greater communication and more compatibility. So you can give instructions verbally to a left-brained partner and visually to a right-brain partner for a meeting of the minds.

If you are already in a relationship but want to add some excitement, then NeuroLoveology is key to more passion…. Read more here.

NeuroLoveology, I have decided is the blending of neuroscience and love, which offers practical applications of brain functioning to heighten intimacy. After all, love should be a priority in our lives, even with so many daily distractions which can prevent us from connecting. We must find ways to get our mind and body ready, willing and able to give and receive love.

One study showed that people on average hold a thought for only 10 seconds before flitting off to something else. Trey Hedden and John Gabrieli, two neuroscientists from MIT studied what happens in the brain when people are distracted by internal thoughts and found that lapses in attention impair performance. I’m sure that would include sexual performance. But there is a way to reshape our brain according to Daniel Goleman, author of Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, who writes that  whenever we connect face-to-face, voice-to-voice or skin-to-skin with someone else, our social brains interlock.

A study by research psychiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Schwarz showed that changing the way you pay attention can change the circuitry of the brain not just over months, but even within a few weeks, enough to show up on a brain scan.

Attention itself changes the brain. The power is on the focus. Cells that fire together wire together. It’s called Neuroplasticity and in a bestselling book, The Brain That Changes Itself, author Professor Norman Doidge wrote that learning a new language for example is relatively easy; its just that you have to stop paying attention to your current language to create the new circuits. That’s why moving to France is the fastest way of learning to speak French – your attention is forced there all day long.

Let’s use the same analogy with our intimate relationship…

There are 3 key components to facilitate such change in the brain:

  1. Create a safe non-judgmental environment (with reward for the brain, such as improving communication, positive reward of praise, compliments, appreciation, recognition, more romance and sex)
  2. Focus attention in the right way to create new connections (an effective way to focus attention is simply to ask your partner the right question, to give them a gap to close. The brain is quite happy closing any gap as long as it doesn’t take too much effort. For example, “What is one thing that I have done that has satisfied you in the past?” or “How would you like me to express my love to you?” or “What would it take for us to have more intimacy?” These questions can help couples to arrive at their own insights. Alternatively, you can set goals by focusing on the positive emotions you want to feel when you have reached them, such as being loved, appreciated, validated, cherished, admired and desired.
  3. Keep any new circuits alive by coming back to pay attention over and over again. Real change requires repetition and even though attention changes the brain, the brain pays attention to a lot of things. When you make a promise to another person to do something, it comes into your mind more often, when you write it down, you pay more attention to it than speaking about it casually. David Rock who wrote Your Brain At Work has a great metaphor for making changes to your brain. Think of the brain as a garden, where it’s sunny all the time and rains naturally once in a while. If you want to grow some nice tomatoes, you first plant seeds, which need careful daily watering. Once the plants are a bit hardy, to keep them growing, you should water them regularly. How often is the right amount? If you water once a year, it will probably wash everything away. Once a quarter won’t do much. Once a month will help, maybe. Once a week does make a difference to some plants, but watering twice a week seems to make a sustainable and noticeable difference. It seems the best technique for growing plants is to water them each day. I propose that creating healthy new circuits in the brain is not dissimilar. You need to pay regular attention to your plants and to your relationship if you want it to thrive.

Guilt is feeling ashamed, whether the humiliation is justified or not. We have all been shamed for something. As far as I know, The Guinness Book of World Records has no knowledge of anyone on this planet having escaped shame so far. And even if our “misdeeds” may seem comical when we look back on their original setting, the self-punishing effects of the guilt can stifle us for years. Let’s look at Gloria’s experience; it is a good case in point. Gloria is a woman in her 20s who recalls the first time she was sexually shamed, as follows: “I was four years old, and my six-year old playmate Richard took me behind my house and showed me his penis. I didn’t even know what it was, so I just looked at it out of curiosity. Well, our mothers caught us and all hell broke loose. You would have thought an Immaculate Conception was about to occur. And the funny thing is, Richard and I were being ignored while our parents were running to each other in near hysterics. Even a couple of neighbors came out their doors because of the commotion. I stood there wondering what was wrong with the adults; I’d never before seen them run amok. I began to think that adults were alien creatures. “And the incident was much ado about nothing; I could sense that Richard and I had not done anything as horrible as our parents’ reaction to it. But I was so embarrassed. I felt my face grow hot. Like a snake in the grass, I slithered off to a corner of our yard and began building a tiny house out of rocks.

I squatted there, huddled into myself, muttering something about building a rock house and hiding inside it. “Far away across the yard, I could hear the neighbors trying to calm my mother down. Everyone was talking more rationally, but I didn’t dare look up and face them. This is the first time I can ever remember feeling shame about anything. The incident probably affected me somewhat sexually later on, as far as inhibitions, but not nearly as much as it affected me emotionally. Whenever people around me react unreasonably, my first reaction is to think it’s my fault. To this day, I hate all the hoopla that guilt causes; it’s not necessary.” The guilt Gloria feels has been put on her and was blown out of proportion. However, Gloria turned her guilt into gilt by realizing, even at age four, that the problem was the adults’ over-reaction to sexual curiosity, not her and Richard. But other forms of guilt can indicate genuine remorse. We can feel remiss in our duty to another person, which is also guilt. I’d like to give you an illustration of guilt as a “double-edged sword” taken from my own life. I love to travel, yet I feel guilty if I accept a two-week lecture assignment overseas and have to be away from my husband. Usually I invite my husband to come along, but a close relative of his is very ill and he cannot leave to go abroad. So, I would feel equally guilty if he were to travel with me and the relative died while we were away. In this instance, guilt becomes like a take-off on that old expression “damned if you do; damned if you don’t.” I am putting the guilt on myself, but it is based on my love and concern for the people closest to me. Is it necessary for me to feel guilty? Or can I turn guilt into gilt by just making a choice when these travel-situations pop up and trusting that I have made the best decision I can, realizing that I am only human. Guilt is also control and manipulation. Unfortunately, people “lay guilt trips” sometimes because it simply works. If all else fails, others will often do what we want if they are shamed into it often enough. But that kind of guilt will turn to rust eventually when resentment and rebellion set in.

What guilt is not:

Guilt is not a healthy motivator. How many times have we accepted a date out of guilt? Anita, an educator in her 30s, had dated Daryl three times when she realized she didn’t feel any chemistry with him. “He was a perfectly nice guy and we had a good time with each other,” Anita said, “but I just didn’t feel he was the love of my life. We didn’t click romantically. Yet I continued to date him because I felt guilty about telling him I wasn’t interested.” I advised Anita to make a clean break of it and let Daryl down gently so that each could move on and find the right person. “When I recognized I was going out with Daryl to avoid feeling guilty about saying ‘no’, I understood I wasn’t being sincere to me or to him. I didn’t owe Daryl a date and I didn’t owe him my guilt, which must have seemed like pity. I did owe it to both of us to be honest.” Anita felt obligated into “mercy dates” as many people call them. She wanted to give the situation with Daryl a chance, but she also felt it had no future. Fortunately, Anita recognized the potentially detrimental consequences of continuing a relationship she didn’t want and the importance of nipping it in the bud. “Once I saw the benefits of cutting it off with Daryl, I felt better too,” Anita said. “I was free to find someone more suitable for me. Daryl was free to find someone who would love him more than I could. And hopefully, we can still remain friends and talk about any new people who come into our lives.” Guilt is not a noble gesture. Pam, a pretty, outgoing, 16-year-old high school junior agreed to go on a blind date with an 18-year-old college freshman named Roger. “We hit it off beautifully over the phone; we seemed to have a lot in common,” Pam said. “My friend Sandra had set us up.

She had given him my phone number, and we were to double date with Sandra and her boyfriend. Well, to get acquainted before our big date, Roger agreed to meet Sandra and me for a few minutes at a coffee shop after school. Judging by his voice, I thought he would be tall, nice looking and have a great personality. But that’s not who walked in the door of the coffee shop! Roger turned out to be unusually short, about 5-feet tall. He seemed arrogant and his manner made him look ugly, even though he was nice looking. Yes, his size bothered me because he was shorter than I am, but I wouldn’t have cared about his height if he had been as pleasant as he was on the phone. Maybe he felt intimidated, I don’t know. I tried to make the best of it and initiated a conversation with Roger. He was stand-offish. Later I confided to Sandra that I was unsure about Roger, but she insisted I owed it to her to go out with him just once. So I felt guilty about hurting Sandra’s feelings, because she had gone to so much trouble to bring Roger and me together. I couldn’t believe what happened next. Roger called a few days later, sounding very put-upon. He asked me out, saying he thought he owed me a date. I was irate. This young fellow was not my dream date, and he certainly did not owe me anything but a hasty goodbye. I told him he didn’t have any obligation to me, and I ended the conversation.” Pam and Roger may have missed out on a perfectly good friendship because they felt “nobly obligated” to go out with each other to avoid hurting Sandra’s feelings. As a result, Pam and Roger offended each other and didn’t communicate about it. Perhaps this scenario could have had a better outcome if either Pam or Roger had said, “Hey, let’s forget about dating and just be telephone-friends for a while.”

Guilt is not a relationship tool. 

In fact, many times guilt is narcissistic, self- centered and presumptuous!  Moira’s boyfriend Terry broke up with her without giving her a reason.  “I was stunned, so I confronted him, and he said he felt guilty because he didn’t want to marry me,” Moira said.  “I was flabbergasted by his presumption.  We had never talked about marriage, and it certainly wasn’t on my mind.  I am very independent and like my lifestyle.  I’m not sure I’d want to marry anyone.  I thought Terry was self-centered to assume I was hearing wedding bells.  It reminded me of that silly expression that is so true: “If you assume, you are making an ass out of ‘u’ and ‘me’.”  Then Terry added insult to injury by feeling guilty about my presumed unhappiness over not marrying him, even though he never bothered to find out my real feelings about marriage.  I was more angry at his assumptions about me than his breaking up with me.”

Moira and Terry were dealing with an immature form of guilt in which Terry felt overly responsible for Moira’s feelings.  In other words, he wasn’t “relating” with Moira. Instead, he was projecting his beliefs onto her and taking a false responsibility for what he presumed she was feeling.  Terry could have handled this situation better by looking at the facts before making the distorted conjecture that Moira was ready for marriage.  Terry leapt blindly into a guilt reaction; he jumped to conclusions that were not there.  Had he communicated his concerns about marriage, he would not have insulted Moira but simply have opened the topic for discussion.  “Terry was feeling pressures that didn’t exist,” Moira said.  “It’s too bad because I think we could have stayed together a little longer.  Now, we aren’t even friends.”

Real-Life Revelation:

Garden-variety guilt:

We’ve heard the phrase “garden variety” all our lives whenever someone describes a stereotype or common-place object.  But take a look at what grows in a garden– many species of plants with one thing in common: they are all “garden variety.”  Guilt comes in many varieties too, but it is still guilt.  Or, in other words, guilt by any other name still smells as fetid.   Let’s take a look at the different kinds of guilt:

Guilt trips.

These come in two sub-species, the guilt trips other people lay on you and guilt you may inadvertently lay on other people.  My father put a guilt trip on me that I was determined to turn into gilt.  Comparing me with his negative image of my mother (who I never knew), my father pronounced to me that I would grow up to be a drug user and a prostitute.  This made no sense to me; I wanted to be a nurse.  Yet he perceived my mother to be of ill repute, so he projected that I would become wanton also.  During the course of my early life as a model, I was exposed to drugs and propositioned many times but was determined never to succumb to any of it.  Even when the Shah of Iran wanted to me to be one of his mistresses, I would not allow myself to become the victim of my father’s guilt trip.  It would have been so easy just to become his “self-fulfilling prophecy” but I felt I deserved more in life than the degrading outcome he expected for me.  In my case, I took the guilt trip and used it to motivate me to a better self-image and a better lifestyle.  I chose to rebel in a healthy way.  You can do that, too. If someone has a negative expectation of you, don’t give it any power.  You are the person who decides who you are and what is best for you.  You can listen to another person’s input, but you don’t have to accept it as the gospel truth about yourself.  Now let’s look at the other side of the guilt-trip coin, laying guilt trips on others.  A client of mine, Eileen, was very upset when her boyfriend Adrian accused her of laying guilt trips on him every time she wanted to communicate.  “Adrian seemed to think I was going to admonish him just because I wanted to talk to him,” Eileen said.  “If I were hurt or unhappy about something between us, he accused me of laying a guilt trip on him and he would clam up.”  Eileen said this has happened to her in the past with other people.  “Whenever I make a request or confront an issue, other people sometimes act guilty.  For instance, my boss and I had to deal with a client he didn’t like, so I opened up and told my boss the client had offended me too.  My boss said I made him feel guilty by telling him about the client’s coarse behavior, but it wasn’t my intention to blame my boss for his client’s conduct.”  I pointed out to Eileen that in these instances, perhaps her point-blank honesty was coming across as accusatory to her boss and her boyfriend.  I encouraged her to turn guilt into gilt by praising her boss for handling his difficult client as well as he did.  This would make her boss feel good.  Then he and Eileen could discuss how they, as a team, could better deal with the client’s ill behavior and perhaps help the client to improve on his social skills.  Eileen agreed this was a much more positive approach than just doling out criticisms about the client.  “It’s hard work though for me,” Eileen laughed.  “I really need to stop and think before I act.  I never realized that my approach is as important as my intention, and that I can be misunderstood too.”  Eileen tried dealing with Adrian less blatantly also.  “Many times when I wanted to sit down and talk, it was because of a misunderstanding and my feelings were hurt,” Eileen said, “so Adrian would feel guilty and run.  I turned the situation around by writing Adrian a long letter emphasizing the many good things about our relationship.  I told him I wanted our talks to be fun, something to anticipate with pleasure.  So far Adrian is a little more open to talking with me; at least he sees me as less of a guilt-trippin’ mama.”

Guilt we create.

Self-blame is probably the garden-variety weed of guilt.  And if you’ve ever had a garden, you know how hard it is to kill weeds.  You can pull them up by the roots, hack them to bits and they still procreate and suck the life out of your flowers!  The guilt we create in ourselves has a tendency to reproduce like weeds.  One negative action or “mistake” can spawn numerous, unnecessary guilt attacks within ourselves.  To this day, I still carry guilt over my grandmother’s death which occurred (how many years?) ago.  My granny had left Europe to come live with her daughter in Florida.  One weekend my grandmother had to be left alone because her daughter and son-in-law were away in Hawaii.  I was living in New York at the time and I didn’t have the money to go be with my grandmother.  Of course that was the weekend she died and she was all alone.  I still berate myself for not scraping together the money to come be with my grandmother when she was dying.  I’ve asked myself, how can I let go of feeling guilty about my grandmother’s death?  I could write her a letter and tell her my thoughts.  One well-meaning friend gave me a bit of spiritual advice too.  My friend said it would be easier on both me and my grandmother to let her go, in my mind.  Maybe my grandmother needs to move on, spiritually speaking, just as I need to move on with my life here on earth.  So I wrote these thoughts down in a letter and I imagined being able to give the letter to her: we hug each other and she forgives me for not being with her at the end of her life.  Sometimes I visualize being able to talk to my grandmother one last time.  I remind her how much I love her and how much she meant to me.  I send her my deepest love, knowing that my care for her is more important than any guilt feeling ever will be.  The guilt we create within ourselves can subtly eat away and destroy us.  That’s why it is so important to monitor our feelings and catch-out the blame and guilt ones before they can drain our energy.  Sometimes our guilt mechanism is on automatic pilot and we have to stop and take control before our feelings run away with us.  As you can see in the above example of my grandmother, dwelling on past guilt is a waste of time.  It does not help my grandmother, and the guilt I am carrying does not help me grow.  How to turn guilt into gilt.  Fairy tales often tell us about ancient sorcerers who would turn lead into gold.  That’s just what we want to do here.  Guilt is like lead, isn’t it?  It weighs us down, it depresses us.  And like the proverbial lead weight, it gives us a sinking feeling and holds us back like any excess baggage.  Guilt has such a negative influence in people’s lives.  Guilt is leaden; it is toxic and can destroy the mind just like the metal lead can poison your body if you ingest it.  To turn guilt into gold, let’s think of turning bad guilt into good guilt.  One classic guilt situation is an ailing mother who makes her grown children feel guilty for not spending enough time with her.  If her children dwell on their guilt, it will interfere with their entire lives.  They will feel guilty for having fun with their own kids, or for going out to dinner with friends, or even for spending more time at work.  To turn this situation around, this woman’s children need to focus on the times they have spent with their mother, and stop dwelling on the times they cannot be with her.  It will ease everyone’s burden if this woman’s offspring can dwell on all the things they have done for their mother, rather than dwelling on what they cannot do now.  Here is another model case of family guilt: Caroline felt guilty for years because she was not able to visit her aunt before her death.  “My aunt Ella lived 2,500 miles away, and it was difficult to get back to see her.  So I planned a trip one Christmas and Aunt Ella died two weeks before I was scheduled to see her.  Not only do I feel such a deep regret and remorse, I never hear the end of it from other family members.  I will always miss my aunt, but I don’t want to feel guilty every time I think of her.  So I dwell on all the wonderful years we had together and the many holidays we spent at family reunions.  I remind myself that life is fleeting; I am not God and I had no power over when my aunt would live or die.  I had to live my own life, even if it meant being across the country from her.  I know in my heart that I did not love her any less for not being around her every day.”

Let’s try an exercise.
Think of all the many different kinds of guilt and how you can alleviate it.  Here are a few:

Religious beliefs:
Does my religion make me feel guilty about enjoying life?  If so, how can I balance my spiritual life with my worldly life and feel okay?

Sexual guilt:
Do I feel guilty about enjoying sex?  Do I think sex is dirty, evil, or unhealthy?  Do I fear getting caught in the act?  How can I remove these guilt barriers?

Procrastination:
Do I feel so guilty about postponing what I have to do daily, that I end up procrastinating even more?  How do I get out of this vicious cycle?

Another exercise in alleviating guilt is to write down everything that makes you feel guilty and what is causing the guilt feelings.  I feel guilty about eating chocolate, which I love.  And the guilt stems from a fear that my teeth will rot and that I will gain weight or my skin will break out in pimples.  So I get rid of the guilt by eating chocolate in moderation.  I allow myself one piece of chocolate a day and maybe two or three pieces over the weekend.  By telling myself it’s okay to eat some chocolate, the guilt goes away.  And you know what?  By getting rid of the guilt, I actually crave the chocolate less.

Turning guilt into gilt is indeed your golden challenge.  The more you can get rid of excess-baggage guilt, the more you will be ready to find your everlasting love.  Always look for the most pragmatic solution to any situation that causes you guilt.  For instance, if you feel guilty about saying no to people, think of the unpleasant consequences of saying yes if you don’t mean it.  Also, try reversing your guilt patterns.  If someone asks you to do a favor, don’t say okay out of guilt.  Stop the guilt feeling right then and there.  You don’t have to feel it.  You can instead respond by saying, “I’d like to help you out, but I’m very busy right now.  Is there someone else who can help you out?”

Guilt is manageable.  You don’t have to go through life letting other people put their guilt on you; don’t give them the satisfaction.  Pity people who have to manipulate that way, but don’t respond to them in kind.  You can empower yourself more by showing love and sensitivity to the “guilt trippers” rather than letting them entrap you with their needs.

A large part of empowering yourself and your partner in a relationship is to open up about that old bugaboo guilt.  Sometimes partners feel guilty when there’s nothing to feel guilty about!  And remember, anything can be negotiated.  Let’s say you feel guilty about not having enough sex with your mate.  Then talk about it and work out a do-able solution.  The time you waste feeling guilty could be spent making spontaneous love!

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What happens when people feel their own mortality? In Dr. Raymond Moody’s book, Life After Death, people described their experience of temporarily dying and then being brought back to life. Almost everyone who had a near death experience reported being asked two questions during the time of their death. Regardless of culture or religious beliefs, the two questions were the same: “What did you learn about being able to love?” and “How well did you use your gifts to live your unique life purpose?”

Most of us don’t get the opportunity to ponder these questions at the brink of life and death, never mind the prospect of coming back to life to change our responses should we be disappointed by them. This being the case, it is only extreme, life-altering events that tend to compel us to assume such contemplative poses, and no one would argue that the prospect of Armageddon is an example of such a life-altering event. However, what is new for many is the perceived proximity of Armageddon. What was only recently considered alarmist fodder for hypochondriacs is now a realistic prospect for many. And as such, it is causing many to “check in” with themselves in order to re-examine their lives in ways previously not contemplated and consequently to realign their priorities.

In some instances, this will lead people to be more introverted; the perceived greater risk and threat leading these people to want to close off and protect themselves from the prospect of further harm. In other instances, this will lead people to be bolder, more daring and to take greater risks with the thought that “the end of the world” is approaching anyway so, why not?

Both of these paths have their benefits and drawbacks. If you become more introverted, there may be less chance of getting hurt, but you also fail to live life to its fullest. On the other hand, if you are bolder and more daring, you may also be inviting unnecessary risks, which may lead to their own dire circumstances. However, there is a middle of the road. Sincere self-examination can lead to self-forgiveness, the forgiveness of others, and the ability to lead a less judgmental life.

Being bold might include having the courage to find love, to learn how to deepen a relationship, or to live out your dreams. Once people check in with their priorities, they tend to agree that love and human connections are the things that matter most in life. This recognition motivates people to communicate more openly, intimately and honestly. They are more aware of time and its imminent end and are hypersensitive of being left in the position of saying, “If only…”, “I wish I had…”, or “What if…”. Uncertainty about the world and the longevity of one’s life causes people to take action. Single people take greater risks because they don’t want to be alone, and couples reconnect, forming closer bonds. In other words, people seek solace and refuge in the power of love.

Love is the fuel that keeps the world going round. It empowers our planet. In exploring everlasting love, we are seeking to express more of ourselves and experience more of life in tandem with the right partner. If an individual can achieve a wholesome self-love, then two people uniting in love can become a powerhouse. Every trial and tribulation they go through together can be viewed as an avenue to know, feel, and express more love. Love has a high value because it is an investment. It causes us to experience life on every level, and that is the ultimate gift of our existence. We quest for love because of its enduring quality and its ability to grow if nourished. Love is a precious gift that we earn and as such is all the more dear to us. To be able to receive and give more of love is to experience life in glorious Technicolor. To learn more about the power of love, do read my book, 12 Steps to Everlasting Love, or go to my virtual seminars.

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Animals can teach us endless life and love lessons that we can use to make our lives happier and more fulfilling.

Dogs have taught us to give unconditional love, especially when you come home after a long day at work and get greeted with a slobbery kiss and a wagging tail. We can also learn to set emotional and physical boundaries in our relationships just as we do when training our dogs. Most importantly, we can learn how to communicate with affection to get our needs met. A dog responds to kindness much better than to aggression.

Cats teach us not to be afraid to be alone as they can amuse themselves for hours with nothing more than a piece of paper or string. They teach us to display our affection when someone pampers us by making sounds of pleasure, snuggling and even with eye contact. Many women love to be touched in the same way that a person gently, slowly caresses a cat with loving strokes.

Horses can teach us how to persevere through difficult times and reconnect with ourselves as many people with disabilities have experienced by touching, grooming and riding these beautiful animals. When horses expose their teeth they are smiling or showing submissiveness much like humans.

Lions can teach us to use our strengths wholeheartedly in all that we do, to face our fears with courage and take our sleep seriously. Lions actually try to avoid fights and the lioness plays a major role in the relationship. Lions are very social and have a wider range of communications than other felines.

Monkeys have good communication skills through body language, touching hands, kissing and a variety of gestures and facial expressions, including sticking their tongue out when they are angry. We can learn from them to express our feelings and not keep them inside where they will fester into resentment.

Butterflies are a great example of how we can transform ourselves from gloom into happiness as they transformfrom caterpillars into magnificent flying butterflies. Their wings are transparent and show us how beautiful it is to truly “see” each other as we are without hiding behind a façade.

Elephants are known for their nurturing and human like cuddling to offer reassurance to their family. We can learn to be protective, loyal and nurturing of the people we love and to let them know that they are making a difference in our lives.

What love lessons have your learned from animals?

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Check out the bold new book from Dr. Ava Cadell that blends brain science with the science of love. Dr. John Gray endorses this breakthrough book that gives singles and couples ways to grow their love lives and their brain cells at the same time.

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bell hooks’ legacy is love. No black woman scholar has theorized love as seriously as hooks has. All About Love, Communion, Salvation and Wounds of Passion personally inspired me to explore the heartaches as well as the healing powers of love.

In All About Love, hooks argues that everyone wants love, yet most of us are silent on the subject. We fear that honest talk about love will force us to face the pain of love’s absence as well as our failure to love ourselves and each other.

My research picks up where hooks left off. I interviewed 20 ever-married black women, who experienced infidelity during their marriages, and specifically asked them to define love. Their average age was 50. They were self-selected from southern California and their names have been changed to protect their privacy.

I was interested in how women who had experienced a “love failure” would define it. Here are sample responses from half of the participants.

Two women described receiving love.

Love is supposed to feel good. Love is supposed to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Love is supposed to make you feel secure. (Sherry)

It’s someone respecting who you are in the world. Someone who’s not out to change you and mold you into something they think is appropriate and for their benefit. (Tina)

hooks notes in All About Love that men often speak from a position of authority on love because they are conditioned to receive it, whereas women are conditioned to speak from a place of lack. These women are radical in the sense that they clearly define love as feeling good, secure and respected. Furthermore, they give the impression that they would not settle for less.

Another theme was unconditional love.

Love is patient. Love is kind. My definition is God’s definition. I still believe in the Corinthians kind of love, that love really never fails, it’s long-lasting, long-suffering. (Anita)

Well, it’s probably not like a fairytale romantic thing. At this point in my life, I would say it is a mutual respect. It is a place where you have compassion for the other person. Or you’re tolerant and accepting of that person for who he or she is without feeling like you need to change them into what you want. I think that real love is unconditional. (Lola)

Love is hard. Love is definitely unconditional. You really have to put the people that you love above yourself. That’s one of the only ways that you will really ever be able … to find true love. When it’s about pleasing your partner more than it is than pleasing yourself, you’ve found something. (Dee)

Unconditional expressions of love celebrate the mutuality that hooks encourages in her work. Love that is not contingent on structures of domination, behavior or appearance grants partners the freedom to love each other fully and fiercely. However, Lola and Dee’s unconditional love also sounds self-sacrificing. They prioritize the person they are loving and fail to discuss what it would be like to receive unconditional love.

Finally, the majority of the women interviewed defined love in terms of giving.

Click here to read on, including a startling declaration…

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Chocolate Nuts is not your conventional chocolate recipe book, and Leah S. Frieday is not your conventional author.

Frieday is a Certified Loveologist. In her groundbreaking recipe book, she creatively combines her mission of providing information regarding love, relationships, intimacy and sexuality with her love of chocolate. Chocolate – raw, dark and sacred – is the perfect escape from a sometimes nutty world. Through decadent recipes and positive affirmations, Frieday empowers individuals and enriches relationships.

J’Son M. Lee – Sweet Georgia Press

Excerpt

If you look to TV, the media, or any form of advertising, chances are you’re viewing unrealistic images of women. Unfortunately, some women feel that, in order to be accepted, they need to have unrealistic weight goals and a distorted body image. There is no wonder why health issues like anorexia pop up in developed countries. We are told that thinner is better and we might be tempted to take it to the extreme. However, for the majority of women, drastic weight goals are unattainable and  severely detrimental to our health.

Affirmation: Loving and accepting all of me makes it possible for others to love me completely. When I love myself first, I can more easily love others and their faults too. In this way, my relationships are based on truth rather than some unreal picture I have of someone or the one they have of me. Loving myself strengthens my self-confidence and empowers me with an optimistic attitude – both of which can serve to make my life more fulfilled and bring me success.
A woman’s body is an amazing thing. It can create life and nourish children. It should be loved, honored, respected, and appreciated – especially by you!

Believe In Yourself! Most people aren’t going to be 100% happy with themselves at all times, and that’s okay. After all, it’s important to question yourself from time to time so you can make positive lifestyle changes. However, you have to learn to love yourself the way you are. Getting too caught up with your body image can make you miss out on the joys in your life!

So…We Good? …Eat The Freakin Chocolate!!!

About the Author: Leah Frieday, MSLC, CLC, Loveologist

Leah S. Frieday, MSLC, CLC, is the ONLY certified Loveologist in Canada. She combines Spirituality, Sensuality, Music and Sound to divine the perfect recipe for an everlasting love. As a Loveologist, Leah’s passion lies in assisting men and women to overcome the nightmarish obstacles presented in the event of an affair. Having been on the discovery end, Leah has vowed to be completely transparent, providing intimate knowledge and intense healing to move beyond the pain and desperation adultery manifests. She teaches how to deconstruct the savage fences we build. Her Mission is to create a movement of Fidelity.