Today, many people around the world will celebrate Valentine’s Day by expressing love to the people in their lives who make their hearts sing. For others, today is not a happy day, as they recall lost loves and are aware of the loneliness in their lives.
My current concepts about romance and love have evolved from years of traumatic experiences, as I sought to fill the aching emptiness in my heart with work, service, overeating and self-destructive relationships. From childhood, I learned to create a marred sense of self-worth by sacrificing my own health and happiness in service to my family and community. I became numb to what really mattered to me as I put the needs of others before my own.
A few years ago, a few experiences combined to wake me up to the need to change.
Since childhood, I had worked in rural and urban communities for social justice, with diverse communities and stakeholders including immigrants, youth, elders, labor activists, farmers, poor and low income, people of color and children and adults with special health care needs. However, I often found myself doing this work in toxic, unhealthy work environments.
After decades of service in toxic work environments, I was in my 40’s, overweight, depressed, and very ill with asthma. During a gathering of women in the Bay Area, I became acquainted with a quote from Howard Thurman:
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
I was inspired by Howard Thurman’s audacious wisdom! I allowed myself to dream of a new possibility for my life — a life where I felt alive, inspired and happy.
After some soul searching and with support from coaches and good friends, I left a lucrative job and began a healing journey which led me to Mexico, Ghana, Southern California, Europe and Belize in Central America. Through my healing journey, I reconnected to a concept I had learned many years before during trips to Jamaica. In the Rastafarian culture, Livity expresses a “way of life” that is heart-centered. Throughout this time of exploration — in the world and in the chambers of my own soul – I still found myself struggling with the concept of romance and love in partner relationships. I chose to take a break from dating and “romantic” relationships and focus on discovering “what makes Diana come alive”.
I began to explore ways to create a different way of working and living that was holistic, nourishing and balanced. I spent some time at the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego where I began to learn a more healing way of eating and reducing stress which helped me release 50 pounds over the next year. The weight loss was not simply about becoming more fit. The weight loss was an expression of “Diana changing her way of being in the world”.
During this process, I allowed myself to mourn and forgive all the times I chose to stay in bed all day, or watch television all evening and night after coming home from work, or taking a taxi rather than walking and being around people, all the times I chose to stay home when I would rather be out dancing, or exploring nature, or spending time with my family and friends. I cried at the realization of how much I had been hiding myself, hoarding myself away, from the world. I realized the weight was simply an out-picturing of the internal burden I carried for so many years from a lifestyle created from overwork, constant stress, self-sacrifice and a growing sense of dissatisfaction with my life.
I became aware that the greatest gift I could give the world was to be my authentic self and do what my heart guided me to do. I was ready to explore creating a new reality for myself. I sought opportunities to learn mind-body-spirit tools to heal my relationship with myself and with the people in my world. I learned to connect more deeply to nature and understand my connection to the sun, the earth, the moon, the stars, the ocean and all living beings. As I began to reclaim the sweetness in my own life, I conceived of an idea to bring more Sweet Livity into my world and share it with others.
Sweet Livity comes from my innate appreciation and joy for the sweetness of life. In this context, Livity means aliveness, vitality and inspiration. It is about living in harmony with self, community and nature in ways which supports one’s own personal healing and contributes to the healing of the environments where one lives and works. It is about intentional and loving integration of health and wellness practices into work and daily living so that your whole way of being in the world – your air, food, water, land, creativity, work, love and relationships — become the medicine that supports a healthy mind, body, spirit and community.
My journey of healing continues and will continue for the rest of my life. My desire to connect my personal healing journey with positive social change gives me courage to share what I am learning. My own healing is deepened as I learn to help others using the very mind-body-spirit tools that helped heal me. In the fall of 2011, I launched my own business Sweet Livity as a way to help people and organizations transform how we live and work. I have deep faith from my own experience that we can achieve social justice and making last impact in people’s lives without sacrificing our own health and happiness.
With a talented team of people committed to their own healing process, Sweet Livity offers customized health and wellness services to allow people and organizations who serve the community to do their jobs to the fullest. Through our strategic mind-body-spirit coaching and wellness programs, people and organizations transform spaces where they live and work into healthy, happy and productive environments. As a result, individuals and organizations create better results with improved health and happiness.
On this Valentine’s Day, I am filled with deep gratitude to those of you who have been holding me and Sweet Livity in your hearts and minds. I am having a healthy love affair with myself and the people in my world — each of us seeking our own path to honor our authentic voice and do what makes us come alive without sacrificing our well-being. I love well and I am well-loved. My keen awareness of this truth provides me abundant health and happiness.
Happy Valentine’s Day (smile)!
All my love,