Love with Strings Attached

by Amy on March 11, 2015


People are not perfect.

They’re vain. Hypocritical. Annoying. Rude.

They forget your birthday.

They leave passive aggressive Facebook comments.

They steal your handbag…

My brother yells at me during sporting events, for example. (When the game is close!)

The last time he did this (during the Ducks game), I left his house in tears. And for the next few days I literally disowned him in my head and then spent the rest of the week mourning the loss of a sibling.

Despite the “brazen” persona, my heart is about as soft as butter left out on the counter. I get my feelings hurt swiftly, with little warning. And I stew on my “wounds” for days.

Shutting People Out

In fact, it has come to my attention that I shut people out when they screw up. (Said people are now mumbling, “duh.”)

I guess I’ve been arrogant. I thought I had unconditional love down.  I specifically requested 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 at my wedding …

“Love is very patient and kind.

It does not demand it’s own way…”

I love that verse!


Flunking Unconditional Love

It’s humbling to admit that I’m a 41 year old life coach who has been flunking unconditional love.

I scan the horizon, anticipating any wrong move people might take to wound me.

And then, when it happens (because people are not perfect and I’m as sensitive as butter), I disown them.

If you scored high as a hater, you probably get it. You had traumatic experiences with people you trusted and came to the conclusion that people are NOT to be trusted.

Me too.

But I don’t hate. I disown.

Love with Strings Attached

My love has had strings attached.

My love said, “I love you if…”

I love you IF you say the right things.

I love you IF you make me feel loved.

I love you IF you never hurt my feelings.

I Lost the Ability to Forgive

And what I realize now is that I created a brazen exterior that has helped me learn boundaries, advocate for what I want, and unapologetically go for it.

But along the way I lost the ability to forgive. TWEET THAT

So now I come full circle, back to my heart. I choose to keep the brazen part that can set a boundary, say no, and go for it.

AND I welcome in a part of me that can forgive and allow and love without strings.

So to anyone who has ever loved me:

I’m sorry.

I thought I knew how to love you but…

I loved you grudgingly.

I loved you despite myself.

I loved you knowing that you could never make it up to me.

I loved you with unspoken expectations…

Now my heart is open. Now I can see you for who you are. You are human. Just like me. You want the benefit of the doubt. Just like me. You need love, no strings.

Just like me.



You are five.

by Amy on February 25, 2015

Alice and Anthony

Who were you when you were five?

When I was five…

I loved flowers — I vividly remember the plants from my childhood – the sunflowers in my backyard, the rose bushes by the patio, the filbert orchards and the Oregon grapes with berries you couldn’t really eat.

I loved to swim – that feeling of being under the water on a hot day was magical.

I could play for hours by myself (I liked the company of my Barbies over the company of real people).

I made “funbooks” for my little brother, full of mazes and puzzles, word searches and pictures to color.

I loved animals, desperately. My best friend was my dog Jamie and my cat Charity.

I was an artist. I drew horses and roses and forests.

After all the years of thinking I should be smart, accomplished and pretty…

I now just want to be like my five year old self again, full of wonder and joy and curiosity.

That five year old girl who didn’t know there was anything she was supposed to do, like or be.

I’m convinced there’s nothing to fix about any of us.

We just need to re-connect with our five-year-old selves before we ever learned the word “should.”

That five-year-old version of you is your ticket home.

Never forget who you are.

My twins are five.

And because I never want them to forget…

Alice Kathleen Albano. You are five.


You …

Love rainbows. The moon. Fairies. Unicorns. You call yourself a “real princess.” You make fairy houses.

You are a true fashionista who loves to window shop for “pretty dresses.” (And you got really mad at me that day when I didn’t let you go into the shoe store.)

Your smile and your laugh light up a room. When strangers hear your guffaw they laugh out loud, on the spot.

You love to play mama – to your little sister and the earth – the rocks, leaves, bugs, flowers…

Strangely, you are natural at hulu dancing and writing Japanese characters..???

You want to be in a parade. When we went to see the Fresh Beat Band you told me you wanted to be on stage.

You love to tell stories and write them. You ask me to write while you narrate and I can never write as fast as the stories you tell.

You can outrun everyone in the family (except me).

You love swimming and being in the water. I think your totem animal is a dolphin.

For being such a gentle girl, you’re really competitive. You love races and contests and trying to get your pajamas on by the time I count to ten.

You can draw by yourself for hours. You love your pencils and your sketchbook – you can draw birds like no other.

You are obsessed with candy. And TV. Except you don’t like to watch scary stuff because it will get in your head, you say.

You talk like this…

“Mama you sing beautiful. Oh your wedding ring, it’s so pretty. Look! The trees are dancing!”

You are all love.

Anthony Michael Albano. You are five.



Love to climb. You can already do the monkey bars (plus skip a bar) all by yourself. (And you hang upside down on the bar in the elevator while it’s moving–it’s your latest trick.)

You love ninja turtles. The only way I got you to wear those red short is by telling you that Raphael chose them.

You favorite character in Pinocchio is Lampwick. When I asked you why you said, “because he turned into a donkey.” I think it’s because you’re fascinated by transformation (but then again I’m a life coach).

You have always been extremely sensitive to negative energy. It freaks you out. Always has.

If you get in trouble the only way to calm you down is to give you a hug and lots of love. I told them that at school and the teacher says it works like a charm.

You love your friends. Your best friend is Duncan and you two are inseparable.

You love to build things and figure out how stuff works. (You destroyed your sleeping mat at school, pulled the fluff right out. I told the teacher it wasn’t because you were being bad, you just wanted to see what was in there.)

You love Legos. The more complicated the better. I am your Lego partner.

You are very good at drawing. Your pictures are really detailed. You draw robots and ninja turtles, of course.

You love to make people laugh.

You are very sweet and kind to your little sister. When she gets hurt, she often goes to you or her sister for a hug.

Your favorite book is called Salmon Stream. You make us read it over and over. I think your totem animal is a Salmon.

This is how you talk:

You: “Hey mom, look under there!”

Me: “Under where?”

You: “You said underwear! See I can make you laugh!”

You are all love.

Now it’s your turn. Tell us about your five-year-old self? Leave a comment below!


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