Through several what-seemed-and-felt-like serious relationships, I have learned that the way we treat others is an insight into how we feel about ourselves. Thus, if you want LOVE, you have got to BE love. All those ideas in your head as to what dream love could be? BE each one of those ideas/images/dreams yourself first - you will quickly learn what is realistic to expect of others and what you should perhaps let go of - let the mystery of life pleasantly surprise you. Give love; a concept I understood in theory a long time ago though practicing it took 20 years. The prerequisite of loving and accepting myself was the challenge. Here is a quote (designed by yours truly) I had decorating my high school locker (amongst other artistic endeavors) at age 15:

Another barrier to self love: Blocks in the heart chakra (for those not familiar with chakras or energy, imagine emotional blocks in the heart). I had a major block in my heart energy for 13 years (seriously - and I do not recall breaking any mirrors).

I could and would not let go of the dreamy and romantic love letters from my first relationship. I CHOSE not to let them go. My favorite thing about being in love the first time was our love letters...perhaps it was the fact that we were flying across the Atlantic monthly between Boston and London to see each other (after meeting while traveling through Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand the summer before my senior year in college...). The letters became fueled with unbelievable passion, openness and vulnerability...and just plain cuteness. Perhaps it was just how first love puppy love is...

Fast forward 13 years: I finally burned every. single. one. of. those. love. letters. Emotional feng shui (blog coming soon). The tears seemed endless and what a ceremony it was - done in a havan vessel which had assisted in numerous powerful prayer ceremonies for the home throughout the years. I knew I needed to let go of the heavy clutter of past love in my heart in order to make space for something new. But it still hurt.

I had emotionally purged and theoretically purified my aura. There, power! I am a free, happy, independent, powerful woman. Really I felt like a single mother with my baby being my business. The pangs of loneliness stung.

I had just turned 34, I was single and feeling really down due to a lack of love that I thought only existed from external sources (blame is not pretty can cause some really low lows). It was a period where I felt quite distanced from everyone..partly because I did distance myself -The bubble of Manhattan allows for an ironic isolation one can experience only as a real New Yorker, perhaps especially so as an entrepreneur. It can be a cold, hard concrete jungle indeed. At the time some close members in my family were choosing not to communicate with me. At the time this bothered me. I CHOSE to let it bother me (are you sensing a pattern here?) To give me the love and support that I needed, I mustered up the will to write a beautiful self-love letter.

The following self-love letter was written October 2014:

"My Dear Sweet Beautiful Shaffali,

You are such a good human being and its only when you forget this that you get lost. Remember that you are loved and that you are love. You've been through so much heartache - just remember some of it has been exaggerated based on how you chose to deal with what life gave you. Things are changing. Shift is happening. Shift has been happening your whole life - due to your lifelong journey of intense self-discovery. It's taken you a while to understand yourself and that's okay. (Note: I now understand that I only continue to evolve...hence, I will never truly understand myself because I am ever-changing. What I can do is love myself, wherever I am in my journey). This is partly why you have been misunderstood by some people...but you are finally getting it - do good and be good to others and for others, and everything will fall into place.

I know you always had the best intentions..and that life didn't unfold exactly the way you wanted and that's okay - it unfolded exactly the way it was supposed to and the way that allowed you to learn lessons you needed. You have built more character and strength because of what you have been through. Now find that authentic voice to share your story. Own who you are. Yes, you are a bit self-absorbed - but what is most important is that your heart is in the right place. Don't let your sensitivity allow negativity to get in your way. Rise, despite the haters (remember, hating is a reflection of them, not you) YOU ARE UNSTOPPABLE. Truly You are. You are so Fucking Talented (paused to cry - it felt so good to acknowledge myself and own my brilliance - (try it and if you do it from the deepest depths of your heart, you may cry too). You have so so so much to offer the world - stop holding back because you get so self absorbed with what people will think. Fuck the haters. If you can inspire and improve even one life, haven't you made a difference? So - how are you going to inspire others my dear? (My response (and yes I talk to myself between first and third person in my journal from time to time): by SHARING my writing, yoga, meditation, dance, photography and self care/skin care rituals). Okay, so CREATE vs CONSUME. I love you. You are beautiful, you are worthy, you are LOVE."

The actual journal and letter to myself are below - you cannot enlarge the images intentionally - they are meant for stylistic purposes.

I was introduced to the man of my dreams in November 2014 – I do not believe it is mere coincidence that I was able to allow the man of my dreams into my life after the love letter – The amount you give love to yourself reflects how much love you will give to someone else. As stated previously: I knew I needed to let go of the heavy clutter of past love in my heart in order to make space for something new.

Thus, if you want to find a love that is not in your life, if you want to heal a relationship to fill it with love that is in your life, follow the simple advice from 15 year old me (which 35 year old me is only now deeply integrating as a fiancée (!)):

The Principle is Simple: If you meet life with love, with a smile, you will find love and something to smile about. -Shaffali, age 15

Don’t be hard on yourself if practicing love takes time (it took me 20 years in this case - TWO DECADES) – love requires patience and kindness - can you spread patience and kindness to yourself and others? Be gentle and give yourself time and lots of kindness in the process.

Another deeply healing way to love yourself? Take a beautiful Royal Bath - my baths are filled with salts, oils, flower petals - the works (note: Shaffali Signature Royal Baths launching in time for melting away our winter coats!!). Treat yourself like a queen if you want someone else to as well. And while I soak in my bath, I enjoy the best mask I know to breathe new life into my skin:

Okay, go off and write yourself the most beautiful love letter and put our Shaffali beauty earth mask on - then bask in the glow you get from self-love letters and royal baths.

Shine Bright Beautiful!

Lots and lots of LOVE to you,

PS Optional exercise: write your mom, aunt, sister or bestie a HAND WRITTEN love letter and ask her for a response in the dying art of handwriting...yet another loss to human connection - love is ENERGY that emanates from living beings, not technology, people - perhaps thats why I felt the need to share my handwritten pages above.

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