What’s Love Got to Do with It?

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On this, a nationally recognized “day of love,” I sit here to acknowledge that my definition of love has been expanded beyond recognition this year. I have seen unfold before my eyes as many versions of love as there are songs with it in the lyrics. The center of my learning, growth and personal capacity expansion has been cultivated at one of the locations where we serve group homes of youth in care.  

When I enter a space, I tend to bring my whole self, which has been described as effervescent, joyful, bubbly, energetic, big, happy, and the like. Leave it to kids to give you a reality check and set your head on straight! I came on campus, as me, to “lead these youth to their greatness,” to guide them “in and through deep reflection into their positive energy alignment,” to “teach them the value of affirmations” and to “show them where their consistent positive choices will take them.” Wow. I laugh now, but definitely stumbled then when my fun self was deflected, glared at through skeptical eyes and blatantly ignored. It was a punch to the gut and to my confidence honestly. Too stubborn to give in or give up, I took my observations, notes and eye-opening insights home, reassessed, made a pivot and approached it differently month 2…and again month 3…and again month 4…you get the idea.

The woman who walked in on day one in October and the woman who walked in last week shared a faint resemblance. Last week, I felt refreshed as I came to my groups simply open to who they are, where they are and what they need in that moment. Yes, I was fully prepared with curriculum, activities, props and treats, but that was no longer my focus. My focus was, well, love. How do I love my youth and young adults? I show up. I show up month after month. I am transparent, vulnerable, sensitive to them, honest and always me. I invite them to the table, affirm them, acknowledge their feelings, validate their life, dream with them about their future.

We have moved from the #WoWTalk Cafés to the Wake Up! To Your Potential Leadership Training with these groups and have found some big wins (feel free to reach out to me for details on that). The February packet was Module 1C: Maximizing Positive Energy to Direct Your Life - Making Agreements that Keep You in Control, and included a seed planting activity as well as a poem. Pride swelled in my chest as my girls embraced this. They all have a propensity for writing: journaling, songs, poems, etc. and so to sit and contemplate and write about BEAUTY was old hat for them, but to watch as the poem transformed before their eyes from what they saw, heard, touched, tasted and smelled to who they are, how beautiful they are, was awestriking. I still get tears in my eyes thinking back listening, watching, feeling the air in the room change as they owned their beauty. To love the beauty inside them.

So, what’s love got to do with it? Everything. Go, love someone today.

Article by Corina Hoenshell, Be Strong Families Consultant

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