Within minutes upon arriving at the Lifestyle Engineering House in Barcelona, where 14 total strangers would be residing together for the next 30 days, I felt like I had arrived home. We were from different parts of the world, ranging from ages 9 – 48. Everyone there made me feel appreciated for who I was and we all crafted a safe space that made room for everyone’s authentic flavor. I was about to have the college experience I never had, only 30 years later and minus the late night vomiting and other events resembling scenes from Animal House. I was also about to make some very special friends who would be instrumental in shaping the successful, evolved professional human that I am becoming.
Among this house full of epic professional human beings, was Love and Relationship Coach and former Stand-Up Comedian, Daniel Packard. He was constantly making all of us laugh over those life-changing 30 days in Spain. He also had a way of bringing healing tears to the surface and sometimes he did both of these simultaneously. He made himself available to EVERYONE. I don’t know how many times I saw him strike up a conversation without someone at a party or a workshop and the next thing you know, they would be off in some corner chatting for the next hour with him listening intently, asking powerful questions and the other person pouring their soul out in ways that don’t come easy to most people.
But Daniel is more than his important work. I saw someone who had been doing a tremendous amount of healing and inner work that had propelled him up to a mountaintop with a view that, once discovered, cannot be unseen. I didn’t personally witness what that upward journey was like for him, but I can guess it was no casual skip on a paved path of roses. At best, it was a brutal, lonely climb with frequent uncertainty about where and how to proceed through the elements. But now, here this man stood at a mountaintop of self-love that it took nearly a life time to reach and there was no going back for him. Witnessing his ability to honor himself by lovingly communicating what he needed from others without passing judgment was like having a match thrown onto my gasoline-soaked heart. I wanted more of that kind of love for myself and from myself.
I’ve been dating for several years now after being with the same man for 23 years. I have learned much about myself and others from my courting adventures and I’m still learning and growing through this experience. I seek always to remain open even when I get hurt…and the hurts of my life have left some pretty deep wounds and beautiful scars. As much as I want to stay open, I can find plenty of reasons to throw a wall up around my heart in order to protect it from being hurt any more that it already has. But there is another part of me that is more courageous than that. That part of me knows how to strip off her armor, throw down her sword and whisper (in a sexy, raspy voice) “Come at me, Baby.” to the swinging blades that sometimes fly too close for comfort.
From our many conversations and Daniel’s sincere interest in stretching my capacity for self-love, he was helping me to step more firmly into the strength of emotional nakedness. The kind of nakedness that separates the professionals of the human experience from the amateurs. Daniel challenged me in several situations that arose during that month to put myself out there and take some risks. I accepted his challenges and not all of my attempts had pleasant outcomes. Some were very painful but he was there to encourage me to pick my ass up and try again.
After several let-downs, I was facilitating a final dance party in one of the Barcelona plazas that Daniel and many other MVU tribe members attended. As we were winding down, Daniel approached me to apologize for not showing up in his usual, full-tilt energy (And, if you’ve seen his amazing dance moves, you know exactly what I’m talking about!). I was simply thrilled that he and other people were there and that was all I needed. As I proceeded to share that thought with him, he stopped me with a piercing look in his eyes and put his hands on my shoulders, forcing me to look back at him and see what I wasn’t understanding. Then he said “I’m trying to love you from my standard of loving, not from the standard you’ve been used to.” I could hear my brain firing warning shots to my mouth: “Say something quick to deflect this madness!” But I was staring into the eyes of truth and there was nothing I could to deny it. I also knew that he was no longer going to tolerate watching me grasp for breadcrumbs when he and I both knew I was worthy of a king’s feast at the finest of tables. So I kept my mouth shut, smiled and allowed his loving, healing words their rightful place on the wounds of my heart. Those sincere words are a balm that will last a lifetime.
Through his friendship and his skills as a coach, he reminded me that if I want to show up as love in the world, I am going to have to risk some rejections and undesired outcomes. He also reminded me that the rejections don’t have to be unpleasant at all. I just need to detach from the outcome. These reminders ignited powerful questions of my own that were rooted in “enoughness”. What if, I just gave love and stopped needing anything in particular to happen as a result? What if a compliment to a stranger or flirting with a man I’m attracted to were offered up simply because I want to put out something good in the world? What if the gift became the same thing as the action?
What if “The gift of loving a person is…loving a person.”?
Love will always involve some risk. That is one thing that makes it so damn worthwhile when it goes the way we want it to. But it’s worth it even when it doesn’t go well and when it hurts like hell. That’s where we refine the art of loving and it is the only way that we can create true, lasting beauty on this planet.
To learn more about Daniel Packard and all that he has to offer, go to: https://www.danielpackard.com