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  • Writer's pictureJeanette Miura

“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.



All this time

The sun never says to the earth,

“You owe



What happens

With a love like that

It lights the



- 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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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa 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 to read more articles written by Alyssa Luboff, Ph.D.

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  • Writer's pictureAnitra Carol Smith

I wanted to live. But clumps were stockpiling in my blood and getting ready to stop my heart like a head-on collision. The email from Dr. Antons said: “You have no alternatives left except a drastic change in your lifestyle. I recommend that you become vegan.”

Become that weirdass shit, a vegan? I’d have to turn my back on my French roast chicken rubbed with cayenne and salt and stuffed with fresh thyme. And no more crunching into squares of Tillamook extra-sharp cheddar on Wheat Thins. Goodbye to my childhood soul food: graham crackers dipped in milk.

I couldn’t do it.

But I had to. Fortunately, I had my friend, Marge, owner of a business dedicated to helping people learn how to eat plants. She gave me a hug and bought me a cookbook called, “Vegan Baking.” I tried out the cornbread. It tasted suspiciously good.

As the months passed, even though I was no longer eating animals, I didn’t think much about them. Then, cats started wanting to curl up in my lap. Dogs began pushing their head under my hand for a scratch. My husband suggested that maybe I didn’t smell like a predator anymore.

But after I’d been vegan for a couple of years, things started falling apart. Back in my meaty days, I loved being in the kitchen, loved the sizzle of bacon and the smell of prime rib roasting in the oven. Even though now my meals were healthy and plant-powered, I found myself thinking: “I’ve slurried up a clutch of veggies and grains and spices, but it’s not that different from the last slurry of veggies, grains and spices.” Sometimes I felt like I was eating compost.

On a trip to Portland, my husband and I heard about a vegan restaurant called Blossoming Lotus. I felt wary. It sounded like a place where your cupcake has wheatgrass in it. But we went.

Because we got there during Happy Hour, we made a dinner out of the small plates: Thai BBQ soy curl wraps with sweet ginger dressing, polenta artichoke fritters to dip into lemon ranch sauce, creamy pesto and white bean dip with blue corn tortilla chips and basil oil with scallions, plus roasted beet and curried cashew salad.

My husband and I looked at each other over our forks and I said it out loud: “Who knew that vegan food could taste like this?” At that moment, I saw the path forward.

We bought Blossoming Lotus’s cookbook, “Vegan Fusion,” which led us to other cookbooks from restaurants with inspired vegan chefs, like Veganopolis, and Candle 79. And I have new friends in the kitchen: Mirin, a sweet Japanese cooking wine that chefs sprinkle in to add the secret “wow” factor to a dish. Pimienton, a smoked paprika well-known to Mexican cooks. Amchur and sumac from the Middle East. Plus I discovered Indian curries, Moroccan tagines, Spanish tapas. And I’m circling back to some much-loved cookbooks like Alice Waters’s “In the Green Kitchen” because now I know how to veganize beauties like saffron rice and Irish soda bread.

After I was converted by Blossoming Lotus, I noticed one day that whenever meat doesn’t shoulder its way into a meal, I’m more aware of all the other flavors. Six or eight tastes may jostle each other, meld with each other. It fascinates me to watch which ones can be friends, which fight. Some, like lemon zest, are your high school class president: it can get along with just about anybody. Grate it into hot oatmeal with pears, scrape it over your couscous salad, brighten an eggplant casserole with it just before serving. Other flavors like cloves are your persnickety Aunt Prudence who loves you but turns up her nose at the rest of the world.

And being vegan is not just about avoiding unhappy heart events. Even more, it’s about pleasure. Soon the boundaries start to blur. You lean your hips against the sink as you press a dripping peach into your mouth. You gather armloads of fresh basil for your pesto, but get waylaid by the scent and sluice off your clothes onto the kitchen floor, rubbing basil all over your body.

But I’m getting distracted.

Not everything I’ve cooked has turned out well. I’m trying to forget, for example, spending three hours stuffing pasilla peppers. They were so drab they made turnips seem like a hot date. But then, just often enough, along comes grilled portobellos and red onions marinated in a fresh oregano and chive sauce, or oven-roasted French fries with garlic ketchup, or beet Reuben spilling its homemade thousand-island dressing over the sides of a hot sesame bun.

And all the time, those inspired vegan chefs in Hawaii, in Portland, New York, San Francisco are my silent partners, putting edible plants together in ways no one has tried before. It’s something to live by and I’m hungry for more.

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