Me and my daughter, Katheryn Faith Knoff.

I have a confession to make: When I was in seventh grade at Edgewood Jr. High School in Wooster, Ohio the student government sold heart-shaped suckers on Valentine’s Day and I sent 10 of them… to myself.

I wasn’t popular. But I knew that I didn’t want to be the girl no one liked and that meant I needed to make what I thought was a small investment in my self worth by letting others know that other people liked me. Now I realize just how important that acknowledgement in self-love really was and how my ruse wasn’t really a ruse at all… because in fact I was a somebody who did care about me.

So what does all of this have to do with my heart-shaped suckers… that was the beginning of a long relationship with my self.

Now that I’m the mom of a 22-year-old, it’s these lessons that I talk about a lot with my daughter and that comes in the form of stressing the importance of taking care of her self-dignity, her health, defining her values, and living her beliefs. This is the foundation of self-love and relationships with others.

But here are 5 things I’ve tried to teach her over the years:

  1. Loving yourself is not optional.
  2. A human being creates through thought, deed and word. If you are living a creative life, love will likely be present in all three. If you are living a destructive life, chances are good there will be destructive thoughts that lead you to destroying your sense of peace and worth, which ultimately is taken out on others. No one should suffer — not even you — because you’ve decided to live a destructive life.
  3. Loving yourself and others doesn’t mean you are always happy. In fact, it’s hard work to love yourself through a difficult time, but do it anyway.
  4. It is perfectly OK to love someone from a distance, but also be purposeful in whom you love.
  5. Love your community. Period. Find a problem out in the world, be the solution.

 

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.