Committed to Love

You probably read the title of this and thought, “Oh, she’s going to regale us with tales of romance.” Or, “She’s going to rhapsodize about choosing love for others over all else.” Oh, you weren’t thinking that? I’m the only one who uses words like regale and rhapsodize on the regular? It’s cool. I’m at peace with my nerdiness.

Anyway, I do want to talk about love, but not totally in the traditional sense or expected way. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of love and commitment. What does it look like? Can you have one without the other? And which one comes first?

Concrete answers elude me, but what I’ve managed to figure out is that the two go hand in hand. I can’t think of a single instance of love that doesn’t involve commitment and vice versa. The love a parent has for a child is cemented by the parent’s commitment to care and provide for the child. Later in life, hopefully the chEveryday-Self-Love-Imageild does the same for the parent. Two people choose to do life together and perform a ceremony before friends and family, sign legal documents and share a mutual last name to celebrate their love by showing commitment. My faith dictates that God so loved me that He gave His only begotten Son for my sins. He’s so committed to me that He made the ultimate sacrifice.

All of these observations have led me to a revelation  of sorts: If I love myself, why aren’t I committed to doing what I know is good for me? Or is it that I have to commit to doing what’s good for me as an action of love? Isn’t love in its simplest form merely a series of choices made over and over again? A choice to do what’s best for the one you love?

This whole summation may seem basic enough, but the truth of it all settled into me slowly, like rays of sun on a Spring day. The coldness of neglect, putting me last, not acknowledging my worth, were absorbed by the warmth of this knowledge. I’m worth committing to. I’m worth choosing. I’m worth the action of better choices each day.

What does this mean practically? It means going to bed at a decent hour, despite how much is left on my to-do list. It means going to Zumba class twice a week because I love shaking my rump-shaker. It means taking a walk even when I don’t feel like it, because it’s what’s best for me. It means taking time to cook delicious nutritious food. It means watching a movie and letting myself get swept away in the fantasy, because I need a mental break every once in a while as much as the next person.

I don’t know where we learned the lesson that self-care is optionaSelf lovel. And it seems like women are determined to ace this unnecessary class, for whatever asinine reason. But whatever is erroneously learned can be re-taught in a more enlightened and compassionate way. I’m learning to love me more and more. It’s manifesting itself by my commitment to treating myself well. I’m really starting to think that’s way it’s supposed to be.

If you’re already on your own journey of self-care, I commend you. On the other hand, if you’ve allowed yourself to fall by the wayside in a misguided belief that you’re supposed to be last on your list, I implore you to start with one small act of kindness for yourself. Don’t allow anything to distract you from it. Make a pledge to yourself not to neglect it. Once you see that the world keeps right on turning, add another act of kindness, and another one. Commit to it. You deserve it. You’re worth it.

Have you ever fallen into the trap of neglecting yourself?  How do you deal with unwarranted guilt when you take time to do things that only benefit you? In what ways do you regularly commit to showing yourself love through action?


If You Like It, Put A Ring On It

wedding bands

Let’s talk commitment. When developing a main character it is imperative that you commit to him or her. Discerning readers expect characters with depth. Discerning readers expect multi-dimensional characters. Discerning readers buy books and if you give them what they deserve, they will remain your loyal fans for life.

Resist the urge to dive head first into plot development, descriptive paragraphs and thought provoking dialogue. Get to know your main character (MC). Now, you could go the boring (and sometimes effective) route of making a character outline. Or, you could indulge in the borderline mental illness that all gifted writers possess and start off by flirting with your MC. What does he or she look like? What’s their style like? Where do they hang out? Then step it up a notch. Start dating your MC. Find out where they went to school. What are they passionate about? Where did they grow up? Nuclear family? Single parent home? How old were they when they had their first kiss? First fell in love? What do they do for a living? Where have they traveled? You get the picture.

So you’ve flirted. You’ve dated. And now you’ve decided that this character is worth delving into. So take the plunge and get to the nitty-gritty of a relationship. What are his or her buttons? Deepest fears? Greatest regrets? Most annoying habits? At this point your character should constantly be on your mind. Having a conversation with your MC while driving down the street should be the norm. Adding his or her name to your Christmas shopping list shouldn’t give you pause.

Totally give in to the psychosis that is creative imagination and marry this person. Live and breathe who he or she is. Think about them while you brush your teeth, hustle through your day job, and clip coupons online. If you’re doing it right, your actual spouse should accuse you of cheating. If you’re really doing it right, you should feel a momentary flash of guilt because you kind of feel like you are. At that point, reel that junk in. We want to commit, not get committed.

If you like your character, put a ring on it. The more time and effort you put into character development, the greater the return on your investment.

Writers: What’s your process for creating characters with depth?

Readers: What makes a character stand out as the real deal?

Chime in!