With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it seems impossible to check my email, read a newspaper, or even buy a hamburger without an encounter with the topic of love. It is such a familiar term. After all, I love so much! Sunrises, chocolate double fudge brownies, good books… But what does true blue (as opposed to pink with cherries on top) love really entail? The answer is tough, and much more than is easy to give as I soon find out when my precious grandchild is throwing a temper tantrum, or my teenager is acting ugly, or for that matter when I feel like acting ugly and throwing a tantrum myself. It means caring about the stranger when I want to be selfish, or biting back a sharp retort to a family member. Love takes real grit and determination far beyond the stamina of the syrupy version. To really love means allowing an element of exposure and discomfort. It means dropping my guard and taking a risk. It means putting aside the protective armor and taking a chance on people. To love well takes a great deal of courage.
That is the lesson that I’ve endeavored to express in this mixed media piece “Be Brave, Love Well”. I have used a background of scrapbook paper on a 12 x 12 panel. The heart is a collage of my own painting of a heart with magazine clippings, a suit of armor, and an acrylic painting of scissors cutting away all the stuff that makes me feel “safe”. And out of that brave loving flutters a butterfly set free to love better and live bigger. Brene Brown in her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, says it well:
“To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living….Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.”