I feel a little choked up as I begin writing this, which isn't very surprising seeing as emotions are running all over the place these days (not that they've ever really stayed put). I'm just so thrilled to be introducing you to Judy Clement Wall, author of Zebra Sounds, and her totally inspiring/rich/beautiful love project. She is one of those beams of light out there and it's truly an honor to have her shine her shine here today.
by Judy Clement Wall
It started with a text message from a friend on a rainy December day in 2010. I was writing against a deadline in a coffee shop. Only I wasn't writing. I couldn’t find the words I wanted, and the woman on her phone at the next table definitely wasn't using her indoor voice. I was wet, cold, frustrated and bitchy, and then my cell phone rang. I flipped it open to a text that said, “Hey J, you’re beautiful. Love, Hayley,” It's hard to describe the effect that message had on me, like a beam of actual sunshine delivered to me digitally. It turned my whole day around, and when I thanked my friend for the note, she said she was "just spreading the love."
I thought about it for days afterward, the big impact of her small gesture. I thought about how easy it was for her to connect with me, and I wondered what would happen if I spent a year "spreading the love." So in January, I committed to making 2011 my year of loving fearlessly, and to make sure I followed through, I declared it publicly, on my blog. I published a manifesto and a list of monthly goals because I know how life (and fear, and personal demons) can get in the way of our most generous and heartfelt intentions. Having wrestled my whole life with shyness, I picked goals that I knew would stretch my boundaries, goals that would send me out into the world. And every Monday, I wrote about what was happening - the good, the bad, the hopeless floundering.
This year has been an incredible time of learning for me. Some of what I've experienced isn't surprising. For instance, I've become braver. And when actual bravery isn't in the cards, I've learned to let my fear guide me. I've found that when I lean into my discomfort instead of retreating, love and connection become possible; growth happens. I've learned that what I always suspected is true: more often than not, what you put out into the world comes back to you. Love begets love. I've learned that of all the kinds of love one can practice, the most important is self-love. Everything stems from that, and the more full your well is, the more generous you become.
Some of what I've learned has surprised me. For instance, sometimes choosing love means staying in through one more day, one more difficult conversation, one more heartbreak. Other times, it means letting go. Sometimes walking away is the most generous, loving thing we can do. I've learned that heartbreak is the inevitable downside of a love-filled life, but risking your heart is the only way to stay open to experience, to joy, to surprise, to expansion. I've learned the beauty of small gestures, the magic of hugs, the power of making decisions based on heart and soul, rather than strategy and an image of yourself that no longer fits.
When Julia contacted me about writing this post, she caught me on a floundering day. For the last couple of weeks, I've been mapping out an expansion of the project for 2012, building a site, imagining what it will look like, what more I can do. Most of the time, I feel the rightness of it in my cells. There is nothing about manifesting love that doesn't make my heart sing. But every now and then I falter. I wonder if I'm big enough, savvy enough, cool enough to pull off a bigger love project. I start to doubt, and then something magical happens, something like Julia (author of a blog I admire and adore) sending me an invitation to write fearlessly in her space. And then I remember. It's not about being big and savvy and cool. It's about being brave enough to face a world full of cynics, and choose love.
We can all do that.
Judy Clement Wall is a freelance writer. You can find links to her work and read more about her love project at her blog, Zebra Sounds. (http://zebrasounds.net)