It’s been quiet here on the blog, as perhaps you’ve noticed. I’ve had a hard time writing since January’s presidential inauguration. While the Women’s March the following day was a balm, and a tremendously positive experience, my world felt unhinged with the onset of the new administration.
Writing, which has always been my anchor, suddenly felt frivolous. How could I focus on my memoir in the midst of my newfound activism? I also found it hard to read anything longer than an article or a Facebook post. By the time I turned off my phone at the end of the day, my brain was oversaturated, my heart overwhelmed.
Luckily, I received a book on January 23rd, and it’s been the only one I’ve been able to read.
Only Love Today
Reminders to Breathe More, Stress Less, and Choose Love
by Rachel Macy Stafford
I’ve been hooked on Rachel for years, ever since I stumbled on her blog, Hands Free Mama, which, by the way, you don’t need to be a mom to love, and then reviewed her second book, Hands Free Life.
I was honored to be selected as part of her launch team* for Only Love Today, her beautiful new book, which is organized by season and written in both short poignant essays and prose poems.
After enjoying the lovely introduction, I started Part One: Spring. But something felt off. I quickly realized it had nothing to do with Rachel’s wise words or keenly wrought sentiments – I was simply in the wrong season. I flipped ahead to Winter and fell headlong into passages like this one:
Most mornings I’d try to steal a few pages before the kids stampeded into the kitchen, or at night after they were in bed. A few minutes, a few pages, is sometimes all I had time for, but often, it was all I needed.
In the midst of a particularly challenging news cycle, when I felt swallowed up by despair, wondering if anything I was doing could possibly make a difference, these words appeared, rising up off the page and pressing into me with a tenderness I could almost feel:
“Maybe the bravest thing you could do right now is just decide this will not defeat you.”
Yes. Oh, yes.
Then a week later, I read this passage while calmly sipping my morning coffee, not knowing that later in the day, these words would serve as a lifeline:
The thing I always receive from Rachel, whether online or in her books, is love. Sounds kind of cheesy, right? But I mean it in all sincerity. Because Rachel is sincere. She genuinely wants to help people, and she does, through her writing and her actions.
She lives out her mantra, only love today, or at least she tries to. What makes Rachel and her books so approachable is that she does not profess to be perfect. She hasn’t figured it all out. Every day, every hour, is a choice. To choose love – not just for others, but for ourselves.
Sometimes I forget this. I put on my Only Love Today bracelet, and think, today I’m going to be better. I’m going to be more patient, more kind. I won’t yell at my kids.
And then, I lose it. Maybe not even an hour later. My go-to reaction is disgust and self-loathing. I might even take off the bracelet, as if I’m not worthy of wearing it.
Then I remember – I’m the one who actually needs it.
The more love I offer to myself, the more generous I can be with others.
*Give-away update! The winner has been selected and informed. Thank you all for your comments here and on Facebook. I wish I had more copies to give away, but it’s worth checking out for yourself if you are so inspired. I hear Target is selling it in droves! xo
*I was given complimentary copies of the ARC and hardcover as part of the Only Love Today launch team, but the opinions here are entirely my own.