My mother told me what self-love is all about
“This store is reserved for the old people, I know,” she says loudly as we step in, intended to amuse the sales associate who was standing nearby. “I am to find the pattern here, anyway. Oh, and the wonderful short skirts are here.” Oma pointed down at her blistered legs. She is looking smart today as she is wearing a cheetah-print, scoop-neck dress that ends just above her kneecaps. Oma begins to scan the racks to search out loud for prints or anything similar to purple, her favourite colour.
When I was 15 years of age, what I keenly desired to wear was what the other teenager in 10th grade was wearing. But my Oma-with her hair dyed auburn (this colour was what I always wanted) with shining prints (often an animal print paired with bright flowery colour)- it was something I could not possibly understand as it existed in the world of personal style. Yet she pulled a few skirts with her legs, undoubtedly to ensure whether they were short or not. Her confidence enviously surprised me.
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With the passage of time, when I grew mature I came to realize that what I called confidence was in fact reflection of self-love. She felt great pleasure in giving expressions to her desires by doing what she liked. Once my Opa, her husband, died, she began to develop a beautiful passion for self-love which is itself a daring passion. She became excessively concerned about taking full care of her personality like carefully maintaining hair colouring and styling, and bright pedicures every two weeks. It was self-compassion and self-consciousness that Opa shopped and primped with the excitement of my 10th-grade girlfriends in her early 80s.
She always encouraged me to wear my favourite colours every day and paint my nails in my spare time. Oma was always worried about me and took great care to keep an eye on me. During the summer months, we always spent time together. My relationship with her was based on mutual love and understanding but was on long distance. She lived in Kelowna, B.C., while I studied in Vancouver, after a long while when I was at university, with a pile of books on my desk, all of sudden I would receive stealthily missed calls and voicemail. It was most often Oma: “Cathleen, please call me back so that we can chat. I know you’re having fun right now with your friends. I love you!”
It was through this conversation that I discovered other deep-seated expressions of Oma’s self-love at that time when she was connecting with others and encouraging their own enjoyment of life. She wanted to develop feelings of self-love in others. She would call me to ensure I was happy. One day she told me that she called all her relatives on phone in Germany, her neighbour from her old home in Calgary, and also to my young cousin.
It was all because of her compassionate inspiration and guidance she had been passing on to me throughout my adolescent and young life. If she had not developed the passion of self-love in me, I would have been wearing my comfiest pyjamas and eating my favourite chocolates.