Updated: Mar 4

Last week our precious Rosie passed away. Rosie joined our family on March 26, 2017 when my aunt, Tia Rosa, was hospitalized for treatment of her brain cancer. We hoped this would be a temporary arrangement. Instead Rosie became a permanent part of our family when my Tia passed away the following year on March 30, 2018. Rosie was the best Chihuahua ever. In November 2020 Rosie was diagnosed with gallbladder cancer and we knew the time would come when she would leave this world. I am beyond grateful for every day of the four years we lived with this beautiful soul. She taught us many important lessons about love and resilience that I feel are worth passing on. This is for Rosie.


Lesson #1 – Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover.

Before Rosie I was not a huge fan of Chihuahuas. I always considered these dogs to be difficult and barky. When adopting dogs in the past I never would even consider this breed. Rosie changed my perspective about Chihuahuas completely and made me realize I shouldn’t have rushed to judgment so quickly.


We never hesitated taking Rosie because I was doing this for my beloved Tia Rosa. But, I can’t say I wasn’t worried. I recalled the crazy Chihuahua stereotypes and thought, “Oh boy, here we go!” To my great surprise Rosie disproved all the stereotypes and proved to be an incredibly well behaved, well-balanced dog. She was better behaved and much less barky than our other two dogs! She greeted our friends with love and affection. It became common for visitors to say, “I have never met a Chihuahua like this before.” Rosie was an absolute dream. She enjoyed long walks and hiking. I thought Chihuahuas would hate the mountains, but not Rosie. She was up for any challenge. She would ride patiently in the car without crying or whining. She was smart and learned quickly. She was also bilingual responding to both Spanish and English commands!


As an added bonus I grew to love some of the traditional Chihuahua qualities. For instance, these little dogs can get pretty cold so playing dress up is always welcomed. I would dress Rosie in her cute, little outfits and she never complained or tried to take them off like our other dogs. Chihuahuas are a cuddly breed and I loved Rosie snuggling under the blankets with me while watching TV or going to bed. I had judged Chihuahuas without having any first hand experience and I was wrong. I learned that all breeds could be great companions when given ample love and attention.


Lesson #2 – Never Allow Past Trauma to Diminish Your Hope for the Future

For most of us trauma is a part of our past. Rosie came into Tia Rosa’s life when her family moved and left her behind. They abandoned her. Rosie must have experienced fear, hunger, cold, and sorrow being left all alone. But, she refused to stop living and instead attracted a new home into her existence. I believe the instinct to keep on fighting is in all of us as it was in Rosie. Even when days are dark, we must never allow our present circumstance to diminish our hope for a brighter tomorrow. The decision to keep on walking will always lead you to a new path.


Lesson #3 – You, and You Alone, Determine Your Worth

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

– Buddha


This is one of my favorite quotes and always makes me think of Rosie. To our family Rosie was incredibly worthy and valued. But, to the family that abandoned her she was not valued enough to be considered and cared for. They never understood or appreciated her worth.


People that go through life allowing other people to determine their worth are doing themselves the greatest disservice. You, and you alone, determine your worth. Most of the time we experience “conditional love” from others. People approve of you one day and reject you the next not because of anything you are doing, but because of who they are. Show up in your life and acknowledge that you deserve love and affection. Demand this of yourself and others. Let go of the idea that you have to prove your worth. You don’t have to prove anything to any one any time!


Lesson #4 – Love is a Powerful Thing

Rosie’s transition from this world was extremely painful for our family because we loved her so deeply. It took me over a week to write these words and tears slide down my cheeks as I remember our sweet girl. As in Peter Pan, “Love is a powerful thing!” Love transforms lives. Rosie’s love was powerful and enveloped our entire family. To love is to be alive. And, in the end we will not be judged by our work or material possessions. We will be judged by how we loved and how much we loved. Be generous with your love and always open your heart to all paths that lead you to love.


I am still sad that Rosie is no longer here with me. But, I am so grateful the universe gave us four, beautiful years together. It’s been a little harder letting go of Rosie because I feel that she was the last piece I had of Tia Rosa. I miss Tia Rosa so much because she was an absolute amazing force in this world. Now I rest in the knowledge that Rosie is reunited with Tia Rosa and that we have another angel sending us love from above.


To Rosie:

Thank you for the lessons you have taught us about love and resilience.

You will never be forgotten.




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“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” – Fred Rogers



I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. My dislike started when I learned about its dark Roman origins. According to historian Noel Lenski, Romans would celebrate the feast of Lupercalia February 13th through 15th by sacrificing goats and dogs and then using the hides of these slain animals to whip women. “Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them,” Lenski says. “They believed this would make them fertile.” And once the whipping was over women would participate in a “matchmaking lottery” where they would spend the rest of the festival with the man that drew their ticket. As charming as this seems, I have to give honoring this Roman ritual a “hard pass”.


And then we have the irascible tentacles of capitalism suffocating this day to death. According to Business Insider Americans spent 20.7 billion dollars on Valentine’s gifts in 2019 and a whopping 27.4 billion in 2020. I love chocolates and flowers as much as the next person, but as the Beatles so eloquently put it, “Can’t Buy Me Love”. And nowadays flowers and chocolates won’t suffice in the “bigger is better” American standard. This emphasis on spending instead of loving perverts all fantasies of cupid and his eternal love arrow.


Despite this, I must admit that at my core I am a hopeless romantic. I love being in love. I love romantic comedies and love songs. I love the scent of rose petals delicately placed on my bed. I have had the great fortune of being in love with an incredible man for 30 years. And all these years despite my rebukes, my husband has faithfully bought me roses and chocolates every Valentine’s day.


We’ve grown up together. We’ve had children together. We’ve built a home together. We’ve seen the best and worst parts of each other and after all these years I’m still “All in”. The truth is you need so much more than love to make a relationship work over time. Love is the easy part of the equation. It’s the commitment to stay in love that requires effort and support. To this end, I am sharing the three quotes I have relied on for inspiration these past many years. They remind us to keep on loving especially on days when loving is hard.


“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” – Fred Rogers


And strive we must. The most challenging aspect of any relationship is accepting the “ugly” in our partner, and everyone has an ugly side. The key is asking, “Can I demand perfection as an imperfect creature myself?” At some point in the relationship the love goggles come off. For some this happens in a matter of weeks and for others it may take years. Whatever the time frame, when this happens we quickly lose compassion for our partners. We come face to face with the “ugly” bits and pieces they had successfully kept hidden. The truth of who they are at their core confronts your truth. You then learn how badly their parents screwed them up, how much trauma they experienced, and how many of their wounds are still fresh. And this is when the real work begins. This is when you must decide if you are “All in” and can accept them exactly as they are and love them anyway.


If after looking at all the “ugly” you decide you can still love this person, then it’s time to begin growing together. Its time to understand you are a perfect creation and so is your partner. It’s time to have abundant compassion for your partner and commit to building them up, not tearing them down. It’s time to accept them exactly as they are here and now and love them anyway.


Even

After

All this time

The sun never says to the earth,


“You owe

Me.”


Look

What happens

With a love like that

It lights the

Whole

Sky


- Hafiz


One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is to never keep score. The scales will never be perfectly balanced and all you will gain is resentment for your partner if you do. Once you surrender keeping score you will begin to experience a love greater than you ever imagined.


Learning to keep score started for most of us as children vying for our parent’s attention. We made decisions about our value in relation to how much our parents gave us compared to our siblings. And then we take this childhood scorecard, cross out the word “Parents” at the top and fill in, “Husband” or “Wife”. Love is a constant give and take, and sometimes you may give more than you take and vice versa. Like the yin and yang, we are constantly flowing into each other waxing and waning as we move together. Embrace this. Accept this.


“People will rise and fall to the level of your expectations.” – Esther Hicks


Building on compassionate acceptance you always have the choice to decide which lens you view your partner through. You have the, “I only see your “ugly” lens, and then you have the, “You are so wonderful and perfect lens.” It’s so easy to get stuck on the “ugly” lens because the “ugly” is that tacky neon sign at the No-Tell Motel you can’t help but look at. The lens you wear will define your expectations of your partner at that moment. Simply put, if you choose the “ugly” lens there is no doubt your partner will meet your expectations by showing you their “ugly” side. Deliberately choose to view your partner through the “wonderful” lens and your partner will rise to meet your expectations every single time.


Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you’ll add these inspirational quotes to your love toolbox as we have. And, when you need support, I hope you open that toolbox and use these inspirational messages to remind you to keep on loving.



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  • Alyssa Luboff, Ph.D.

You may think from the title that this post is about being selfish or taking advantage of people. It’s actually about learning to love more. And it’s not written for sadists or manipulators; it is for caretakers and co-dependent types. We each have different styles of loving, and with them, comes different healing work to do. This work is for those who love so deeply, so selflessly, at times, it seems, that they cannot bear the thought of hurting those they love the most.



A few years ago, a loved one began to suffer from constant suicidal ideation. They had struggled in the past, but no one in their life was prepared for this storm. What do you say to someone who cannot sleep at night because they want to kill themselves? How do you live your own life when you are up so many nights trying to calm their fears, trying to keep them safe?


I would never forgive myself if anything happened to them. That is what I remember saying to myself over and again. I wanted desperately for them to be well. I tried reasoning with them – meditation, essential oils, energy healing, medications, more therapy – everything, anything to get them better. When that didn’t work, I lowered my expectations. I’d do everything, anything, just to keep them alive.


One night, we were sitting in their dark room together. Their thoughts swirled around us like a cyclone, damning the world, shuttering out all hope, pulling us both down together. Then for a moment, I stopped. I felt myself as if standing outside that room, looking down on the two of us. What more do I need to do to love them? What more can I do to help them? The answer that came back shocked me.


You must forgive yourself now if anything does happen to them. Know that you have done your best. You have loved them fully. You have tried everything. You are not responsible if they kill themselves.


This was a terrifying thought. If I let go of my ardent wish for them not to die, how would I make sure that they stayed alive? How would I watch over them? How would I be there every moment making sure that they were still here?


I had been reading the Buddhist masters who say that love is releasing our attachments. If those words sound simple, it’s much more complicated than that. And I’m the type who’d much rather hold on to an attachment than risk letting go of what is true connection, just love. But I could agree in that moment that love, at the very least, means seeing past our fears.


If I couldn’t bear the thought of anything happening to them, was I truly selfless? Or was I only trying to protect myself from pain? Was the fear the voice of my own self, my own ego afraid of being destroyed? Was it just my own inner child remembering the feeling of being alone? Of my world shattering to pieces? And, if so, was it really true? Were there really thoughts, feelings, so terrible that they could annihilate me?


And so, I decided to be brave. I forgive myself if they die. I have done – I am continuing to do – everything I can.


That is when the magic happened. As I said those words to myself, our conversation changed. The room grew lighter. With my own fear out of the way, I could show up for them. I could listen even more deeply than I did before. I had no more stakes in the direction we took. I could just follow them where they needed to go. And soon, they calmed down and went peacefully to sleep.


I can’t say that I’m a master at this. If you’re a co-dependent like me, you know that it comes up in every kind of relationship – with co-workers, students, friends, lovers…and managing it is a lifelong work in progress. Moreover, it will always be my conscious choice to err on the side of loving too much. I will always give more rather than risk not giving enough.


Sometimes we love so much, we cannot bear the thought of hurting those we love. But, actually, we love even more when we learn to stand that thought. It’s when we stand right here – naked, vulnerable, our true selves – ready to love the world as it is. And ready to become who we are in the making.


Please visit alyssaluboff.net to read more articles written by Alyssa Luboff, Ph.D.

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