you are worth it
“Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds or bends with the remover to remove — it is an ever-fixed mark.” — from some Shakespearean sonnet I had to memorize in high school. This poem still plays in my head fairly often and its meaning has deepened for me over the years.
Love. The poets have a lot to say about love, but I thought today I’d share with you some of the wisdom of poets about loving yourself. Being true to yourself. And being your own best influencer, cheerleader, and support system.
We begin with Rupi Kaur, not necessarily my favorite poet, but the simplicity found in some of her poems is truly inspiring. This little nugget is probably one of the deeper thoughts in her work:
“Our backs tell stories
no books have the spine to carry”
― Rupi Kaur, quote
What story does your spine carry? Are you sharing that story with the world without fear or shame? We all have a precious story under our skins and it is worthy of our attention. Worthy of honoring.
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain. — Emily Dickinson, “If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking”
What makes your life have value? The attitudes and actions you admire most — implement. Time is a gift for you to use. May it bring out your best qualities!
I CELEBRATE myself;
And what I assume you shall assume;
For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you —Walt Whitman, from “Song of Myself”
When is the last time you took a moment to simply celebrate yourself? If Walt thought it wise — I might be inclined to think it is a good idea. Have you written a song of yourself?
Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth. — Joy Harjo, from “Remember”
Remembering your history with all its flaws, imperfections, tragedies — and victories, remembering your roots can help to put a life in perspective. Give yourself credit for being a part of history, your history, and the ones that come after you. We are all a part of something bigger — and this is a beautiful thing!
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves. — Mary Oliver, from “Wild Geese”
Oh, I love me some Mary Oliver. I thank her for this bit of wisdom — love, and do, and be yourself. You are worthy. Just…love.
And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
to blossom.— Anaïs Nin, “Risk”
Anaïs Nin spoke from the heart, without fear. I love this snippet of her writing because it reminds us that we are all growing, changing, blooming. Nurture yourself in this beautiful unfolding.
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops — at all — Emily Dickinson, from “Hope is the Thing with Feathers”
Hope. A precious and sometimes fleeting commodity that comes from within. Dig deep to find it when you need it most.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken; — William Shakespeare, from Sonnet 116
Love perseveres. Are you loving with yourself through tempests? Do not be shaken — when all else is gone, or when others may fail you, you have yourself! This is a poem of love between people but the core message is of love. Loving yourself is a good place to start before you can love others honestly.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference — Robert Frost, from “The Road Less Traveled”
This poem reminds us that we all have choices and to be brave, be bold, be curious. Life truly is a journey and our maps are all infinitely unique. Be your own navigator, courageously.
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for,
And if you dare to dream of meeting
Your heart’s longing. — Oriah Mountain Dreamer, from “The Invitation”
What are your deepest achings? Your biggest dreams? This poem digs deep with such simple language into the desires of the heart. It encourages us to follow our spirit in the direction of our dreams. I truly love this.
Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then lost close to me —
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be. — Shel Silverstein, “Listen to the Mustn’ts”
Shel Silverstein, author of some of my favorite books from my childhood, reminds us here to believe in ourselves with childlike fervor. — A deep-dive into Shel Silverstein’s brilliant work is a day well spent and a mood lifted — any day! (Start with The Giving Tree, and Where the Sidewalk Ends.)
Pretty sure the number one here is obvious — and I can’t read this poem without hearing the deeply moving, captivating voice of Maya Angelo reading it.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise. — Maya Angelou, from “Still I Rise”
The cathartic ancestral flow of this poem brings me to tears every time. But on days when picking myself up feels difficult, I hear her words chanting to me:
Thank you for taking some time out of your day today to celebrate with me the wisdom of poets. And to celebrate you. You, are worthy.