I’ve shared this picture through social media before, but given how ridiculously cute it is you can expect me to share it every February 14th(ish) until I die. I also like to believe that little squirrel created his tree art just for me, but it could have been for somebody else.
Regardless, I can still remember the wonder I felt as I turned around a corner on the Naperville River Walk
and came across the little fella scampering around.
Then I saw the heart and I could have melted on the spot. Thankfully it was too cold in Naperville for that to happen, but at least my hands weren’t frostbitten enough that I couldn’t take out my phone to snap a few pictures.
Seeing my little squirrely love note came at just the right time, too, because I was feeling pretty lonely at that point in my life. I had recently given up my dog, Jack, to my parents in Harrisburg, PA.
His dementia was getting progressively worse and me being at work for 8+ hours a day wasn’t helping. I feared I would come home one day and find him in agony because he had eaten something he shouldn’t have.
My parents, in one of the greatest acts of kindness I have ever received, offered to take care of Jack. They no longer work outside the home, and my older brother also lives with them, so there’d be plenty of people to keep Jack company throughout the day.
In addition, one of my best friends at work had moved on to a new job. Even though I felt thrilled she was finally out of a position in which she was clearly underutilized and, frankly, not fairly compensated or appreciated for her talents and work, I still missed our daily interactions. I didn’t have many other close friends where my office was located and many days I felt isolated.
So when I came across this message of love in one of my favorite places, by a cute and furry critter no less, I couldn’t help but smile. I even sent the photo off to Shutterfly to have it made into a notebook with the song lyrics, Put a little love in your heart and the world will be a better place on the front cover (lyrics by Jackie DeShannon, Randy Myers, & Jimmy Holiday).
That song had been in my mind a lot at the time. A local musician performed it at an interfaith New Year’s Day celebration in downtown Naperville and I became hooked. I honestly can’t say if I’d never heard it before or
if I just hadn’t heard it with my new evolving life perspective that there was a lot more to the world than the little life I was living.
I ended up playing it on repeat on my iPad many times that winter and each and every time I felt a renewed sense of love and spirit in the world.
I’m very glad I have these reminders about love because as of late, I haven’t been treating myself with very much love. I don’t know why my narcolepsy seems so much worse these past few months, but I feel frustrated and demoralized that some days my greatest accomplishment is making it downstairs in the morning to feed the dogs.
I then surf the internet ad nauseam because it feels like I’m doing something, but I know I’m not, and so I beat myself up for it – I should be writing; I should be reading; I should be working on my website; I should be doing anything other than mindlessly thumbing through social media to the point where my eyes glaze over and I doze off.
Is this because of narcolepsy or inertia, I can’t say for certain. But in addition to feeling tired from a disease, I am tired of “shoulding” on myself (perhaps another disease in and of itself). My husband has very kindly and lovingly pointed out that it’s okay for me to take breaks and maybe I should cut myself some slack. Why is it that these “shoulds” I am more inclined to reject than embrace? These are the same things I would tell (have told) my loved ones when they beat themselves up. I would never let anyone talk to my family or friends that way, yet somehow, I accept it for myself.
It’s a funny situation because when I realize my hypocrisy, I get further down on myself for not remembering to be more enlightened. It seems like an endless patter, until I finally reach a point where I remember that violence in any form, which to me includes emotional bullying, sarcasm, and insults, is unacceptable. And the way I mentally beat myself up is violent.
This recognition is a good thing because above all I want to be a peaceful a person.
And if I can’t be at peace with myself, how can I expect to contribute peacefully to our world?
I put a little love in my heart and I try to remember how much I have to be grateful for, as well as remembering that you never know when you might turn a corner and find something so wonderful you didn’t even know to hope for it.