Choose LOVE

chooseloveWhere do I begin? Hello world! Let me first start by introducing myself. I’m Jess and these are my stories of love in action. I am a first generation daughter of an immigrant family arriving at the O’Hare Airport in Chicago, Illinois with not much more than the clothes on our skin, and a bittersweet smile, better summed up by the Chicago Tribune as the “Ly Family Refugees.”

We had ten mouths to feed, and a mirroring $10 to our name. Still, our most valuable possession was left untarnished: a beating pulse that knows what the human spirit can accomplish even in the face of looming odds, namely, a clear language barrier. Well, I’ll speak for my parents anyways. I was maybe 3 years old at that time.  What did I know about such things?! They, however, carried this spirit. The love for their children and my aging grandfather gave them no other option. Hence, their sense of conviction left their baby girl (moi) with a feeble, yet slowly developing, sense of awareness that anything is possible when choosing love.

More recently, I journeyed to Israel to have a taste of what life is like there.  I was interested in the root of the turmoil that remains after thousands of years of battle upon this outwardly tainted soil. Why did the fighting persist? And how can it be healed?

Our group had the incredible opportunity to visit Bethlehem and sit and chat with a 25-year-old Palestinian refugee; we listened as he shared how life was a continual struggle and how the walls of Palestinians’ hearts were mired in it.  Then we had guided time to walk the neighborhood they called home. At best, we could see kids playing with each other, though with heavy hearts.

At a moment’s glance, my eyes met with an elderly Palestinian woman, beaming with wisdom in her eyes, but what felt like the inability to express the love in her heart. I was moved to take action but with no Arabic words to draw from (apart from “Salamou” meaning peace but also used as a salutation), I did the only thing I knew, I reached forward and gently grabbed her hand and held it long enough to know that a warm embrace was welcomed in her heart. We hugged and connected soul to soul. It was an extremely powerful moment for me to take that risk, knowing I chose love.

Food for thought:

Love in both these overlapping stories and countless more cannot be confined to any one definition, for in the power of love itself, is the healing one will make when we choose to intimately connect to it; tantamount to how the sun suffuses life on this planet because we all live in its radiance.


Something will always rear its ugly head in life (as we all know). Rather the question is: are we choosing love in that moment of discord? And by that I mean, the wholeness and peace that love brings when we treat and speak to ourselves with kindness and compassion like we would instinctually a loved one. Having said that, what are things that leave you with a heavy heart? When are moments you feel out of balance?  What are issues that trigger your knee-jerk reactions? The next time you feel out of balance, and are caught in anger, withdrawal, worry, fear, or any number of emotions, take notice.


  • When there is suddenly more pressure on you to sell to make up for revenue lost by another’s laziness.
  • Or perhaps, when someone doesn’t keep their word and lies to you over and over again.
  • Better yet, when you do get what you want, like a marriage proposal, but still feel angst surfacing.

Take notice.

What you can do to choose love right away?

In any of these situations, let’s SBL – I call it SBL for STOP. BREATHE. And LISTEN. Stop the running internal dialogue; breathe out the toxic thoughts and infuse the life giving oxygen; and then listen to your body. Notice the sensation without the story line attached. This can be done under any, I repeat, any circumstance with no exceptions.  REPEAT often – whether the issue triggers a slight concern or a seismic reaction.  Remember, like all things in life, repetition is key to mastery of any task at hand.

Why does this help?

When we are wrapped up in our own emotions, we are assigning a story to an otherwise “stressful sensation” (akin to feeling hungry or physically sleepy), where no thoughts are involved. This is very different from some of the emotions referenced above. Why? Because here thoughts are in fact creating these emotions. In these moments, we are out of love by producing stories based off past thoughts driven by beliefs either held true by society at large or from personal experiences. If not, we are telling ourselves stories disguised as worries about future unknowns that can potentially hurt us, so we must try and control things/people first. Either way, it doesn’t serve us. So, if we can SBL, we can then take ourselves back to the present moment and witness that nothing is really harming us (in a real sense) but the recorded thoughts running on autopilot by our untrained, noisy minds. From here, in the greater present calmness (after utilizing SBL), we are better equipped to make a different choice, one that empowers us to see from a different set of lenses and when practiced will become clearer and clearer ad infinitum, until we know without a shadow of a doubt that indeed we shape our lives by our prior thoughts. This is choosing love. Give this a try and before you know, you will start to know you are the creator of your own bliss. See for yourself…