Image courtesy of Linda Ragsdale

As I’m writing this, I’m charged and challenged to see how I can spread the love today and everyday. I see hearts everywhere, and a lot of times, the hearts appear in a time when I need them. And so people don’t think I’m crazy, I try and photograph them. These hearts assure me I’m on the right path. They comfort me. I’ve found hearts in trees, in the sky, on the bottom of fish, in a bite of a yummy dish, even in bird excrement. (Hey, if you can find a heart in the middle of all the crap, you’re doing great!) As February is considered the month of love, lines have been drawn that hold love and hearts captive to outdated and limiting ideas. As a peace teacher, I’m here to erase the lines that have become walls opening up our hearts to point us to the infinite paths of love and compassion.

The underlying panic of Valentine’s Day may have became a drama and trauma from school days, the days before it was mandated you bring a Valentine to everyone. Back then, some kids who went home heartbroken. The “couples only” focus made singles feel un-celebrated and unnecessarily lonelier for a solely commercial holiday. New movements like Galentine’s and the yet to be celebrated Guyentines day, keep drawing lines, yet each holding true to one basic premise – exclusion. Stop it! The thing about love is that it’s all about inclusion. I’m going to ask you to break free and through these lines and dig deeper into the idea and actions of love.

Image courtesy of Linda Ragsdale

First, send or buy yourself something awesome, beyond awesome. Love starts by treating yourself with the love. Wrap this gift and leave it for you at the front door, at the foot of your bed, on your pillow. Send yourself flowers and be proud of it. Then give out those flowers to people who come into your day. Hand the flowers out to strangers on the street. The emptying of the vase is actually the filling of your heart, allowing for more love to come in. Buy yourself some socks with hearts on them, and you’ll always walk in the footsteps of love! Then buy an extra pair and leave them anonymously for someone else, someone who may need a little love of the mysterious universe to spark their day.

Start with you and then go outward. Don’t buy anything for anyone, take the time and make someone something. Handwritten notes are presents of the heart. Don’t use a commercial card, draw hearts and write in pretty colors on a plain sheet of paper. Tell someone how you feel about them or how they make you feel, what they’ve done for you or others, or how they’ve inspired you. Notes and texts have been special to my family. One Mother’s Day I asked for no gifts, and wrote notes to my children. I told them how they gifted me with the honor of being called “mother” and highlighted what each of their gifts brought to me every day. When my husband and I were dating, there were times when we were out of contact for great lengths of time. (Okay, I’m dating myself here, but cell phones weren’t in existence then, except with a forty-pound battery pack and limited cell coverage!) A hand written love letter was our connection. Just recently I found the worn out “spicy” letter tucked in his drawer. Words are powerful. Words heal. Words hold us close.

Image courtesy of Linda Ragsdale

Keep going outward, beyond your family and friends. If you work in an office, why not make a Valentine’s Day effort where you deliver sandwiches, flowers, candy or appropriate donations to local community shelters, Veteran’s homes, or hospice facilities? What about hospital units for people being treated for mental illness and physical addictions, oncology and pediatric units? There are refugee and immigrant centers that could use a bit of love their way. Check with each facility before you bring donations to be sure they’re allowed. Your note, flower, cards could bring revived hope and joy to the people and their caretakers who might be missing the love. Go out further. Could you donate bags of heart candies to homeless shelters or food kitchens? What about our local officers and fireman? Could notes be written with thanks to our invisible angels who watch over us every day? * Do you pass a school crossing guard who freezes during these winter days, who might be overjoyed with a coffee gift card as a heartwarming surprise?

How far can you make your love reach?

Love is something for everyone and everyday. Let’s start showing it.

Peace in.

*If you feel like writing some love notes, check out this link and download the hearts that fold up into little envelopes. You can leave little love letters everywhere, anytime!

 

 

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Linda Ragsdale
Author, illustrator, TedX and international speaker Linda Ragsdale teaches how the powerful skills of View, Voice and Choice can guide people through the challenging parts of life to achieve a peaceful and productive outcome. Surviving a physically devastating wound in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, Linda offered a message of empathy and compassion over retaliation or resentment as her response. The world heard. Her peace work moves her around the globe, reaching over 33,000 students and adults in presentations and workshops, in Canada, India, Brazil, The Philippines, China and Japan.

Linda teaches people to stay in their heart base, the tenets she applied to guide her through stage-three breast cancer, keeping her focused on celebrating life s treasures within the moments of darkness. Whether the terrorist comes from outside or within, Ragsdale believes peace offers a balanced journey through every life event, whether its traffic, trauma or cancer.

Her non-profit, The Peace Dragon, keeps Linda active in local and international schools, colleges, rotary clubs, women s groups, and FBI meetings. As a local volunteer, she is on the community boards of NPT and SouthernWord. She organizes community events for peace and social issues. In the publishing world, her picture book series, Peace Dragon Tales (Flowerpot Press) introduces peace skills to our earliest learners. Her upcoming adult book, Happily, Even After reflects her Panglossian joy to facing life. In the virtual world, she is co-host of New Focus Network's My 2nd Act, and stars in her own upcoming series, A Happy Place, where she hopes to help people find their happy places, and stay there!

Ragsdale shares her peace of heart everywhere she goes, with handfuls of paper dragons and peaceful wishes. Otherwise, you ll find her at home curled up with her husband and pets, or with visiting her three children.

About The Author

Author, illustrator, TedX and international speaker Linda Ragsdale teaches how the powerful skills of View, Voice and Choice can guide people through the challenging parts of life to achieve a peaceful and productive outcome. Surviving a physically devastating wound in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, Linda offered a message of empathy and compassion over retaliation or resentment as her response. The world heard. Her peace work moves her around the globe, reaching over 33,000 students and adults in presentations and workshops, in Canada, India, Brazil, The Philippines, China and Japan. Linda teaches people to stay in their heart base, the tenets she applied to guide her through stage-three breast cancer, keeping her focused on celebrating life s treasures within the moments of darkness. Whether the terrorist comes from outside or within, Ragsdale believes peace offers a balanced journey through every life event, whether its traffic, trauma or cancer. Her non-profit, The Peace Dragon, keeps Linda active in local and international schools, colleges, rotary clubs, women s groups, and FBI meetings. As a local volunteer, she is on the community boards of NPT and SouthernWord. She organizes community events for peace and social issues. In the publishing world, her picture book series, Peace Dragon Tales (Flowerpot Press) introduces peace skills to our earliest learners. Her upcoming adult book, Happily, Even After reflects her Panglossian joy to facing life. In the virtual world, she is co-host of New Focus Network's My 2nd Act, and stars in her own upcoming series, A Happy Place, where she hopes to help people find their happy places, and stay there! Ragsdale shares her peace of heart everywhere she goes, with handfuls of paper dragons and peaceful wishes. Otherwise, you ll find her at home curled up with her husband and pets, or with visiting her three children.

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