"Love, Sweet, Sweet Love" How wonderful it feels to be loved. The rush of energy we get from being with a loved one. The blush that comes when we gaze at our lover. And the pure and simple joy of talking to a beloved friend. We have a long, long history of the miracles that love has wrought, even up to the printing of this story. The world witnessed the power of love when two women died only days apart. Mother Teresa and Diana, Princess of Wales, left a big hole that only love can fill. As we watched the media, it became clear that the humans in this world need more true love in their lives.
So Unloved How is it we all want and need love, yet very few know how to love the way we need most to be loved? Where does love come from? Where does it go when we feel so unloved? There is a true story of a very great man who tells of a time he was on a bridge, ready to jump off and commit suicide, when someone passing by, smiled and wished him a good day. That stranger never knew his kindness saved a life that day. And the wretched man went home and postponed his suicide forever, and later fulfilled his enormous potential. That man was Buckminster Fuller, great teacher, philosopher, scientist, futurist, humanitarian and best remembered for his geodesic dome. Fuller was the teacher and mentor of my very own special mentor/teacher, Mark Victor Hansen (co-author of Chicken Soup For The Soul). Love started a chain reaction. A stranger smiled and saved Fuller's life, who then taught Hansen, who in turn taught me to seek my highest and best dreams. My dream is to be a great storyteller and tell stories in simple and very real ways. So here goes the story of a love song that changes lives in astounding ways.
Once upon a time, there was a love song written by Jai-Josefs. It was to be a prayer or meditation song to connect people to their spiritual source. As good fortune would have it, this song came to me at a crucial moment in my life.
I had been at "Death's Door" with two types of blood poisoning and was rushed to the hospital having convulsions. I had said good-bye forlornly to my two young sons and my last words were "Always remember mother loves you!" They didn't know that they might not ever see me again. I wanted my last words to be of love if I should die before seeing them again. I was rushed to intensive care as a team of doctors sought out answers to my illness.
They took me to surgery and removed a severely abscessed organ and began medications to overcome my blood poisoning. Somewhere in the deepest part of me, I heard a primal scream, "I WANT TO LIVE!"
It was a long painful recovery, those two weeks in the hospital with tubes up my nose and down my throat, IV's in my arms and oxygen pumps, three different doctors taking blood samples every day. I had to cling to a bible verse that I read just before I had surrendered myself to medical care. The verse was. . . and God said, "I will heal you"
When I came home and my body became well, I thought God had kept his promise of healing. Little did I realize, the healing teachers began to appear in my life, just as my mother always told me, "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear" Sure enough, I began to learn to make choices and take responsibility for outcomes and/or to choose again. My mind began to see, understand, and form a wonderful new perspective and I gave up victimhood.
Self-sabotaging behavior does not give up its hold on us easily and I needed something to keep me strong. I read a book called Compassion and Self-Hate and learned most of my problems came from a deep self-loathing (a symptom of a people-pleaser like me). My need for love knew no bounds. I'd turn myself inside-out to win your love, just to make myself feel okay. You guessed it; it was never enough. Some people didn't like me and that sent me into deep depression.
The Magical Song Then, as if by magic, I was sitting in my new-found church one day, listening to an upbeat group known as Jerry Florence and Alliance, singing the incredibly magical song, I Love Myself The Way I Am. There they stood, three young men in white tuxedo shirts decorated with colorful handpainted balloons! What a sight of joy and celebration of the Greatest Love of All - God's gift to us each and every one of us - "The Unique Self" Why, that was the love I had been really looking for, but in all the wrong places? I wanted my own love! I longed to love and accept myself - my unique, God-given Self!
I Love Myself The Way I Am became my theme song and it healed my soul wound. It helped me get through each and every day. As I walked in the morning, I'd sing it to myself to keep a positive mindset. If problems made me fear or doubt myself, I sang it to myself silently. Most of all, when difficult people came in to challenge me, I sang verse two to them in my mind and found it had increased my capacity to love unconditionally and be compassionate. That, in turn, healed many broken friendships and other relationships.
Because I wanted to tell this story, I started to search for the person who owned the copyright and ask permission to print the words for you to read. That was when I learned this magnificent song had a life of its own. My search led me to Debbie Sewell, Jerry Florence's sister.
Debbie told me how this song had touched her family before Jerry died of HIV (1994), yet, how his music is more popular now than ever. It seems as children, Debbie and her two brothers, Jerry and Bob, received the gift of song and singing in harmony from their mother. By ages 8, 9 and 10, they traveled, singing contemporary sacred music at fairs, churches, and conventions. They had produced their first album by ages 12, 13 and 14, and had 5 albums in all. Later, Jerry went on to get a degree in music from U.C.L.A. He began to teach music and conduct corrals. Jerry invited two of his students to become a group named Alliance and tour with him. He discovered the song, I Love Myself The Way I Am, which was to become their signature song.
Jerry had a vision of music as having the power to re-attune our lives. He said, "I want my music to be more about love, healing, hope and inspiration - instead of victim music - That's about who's doing what to whom and who's to blame!" He was true to his vision and traveled near and far not knowing the true impact of his music. Debbie said, "After his death, there were five different memorial services across the United States. I personally attended the one in California"
"The icing on the cake" came for me in this big auditorium with a huge screen, and they closed the service with 3 songs on video of Jerry singing" The last song was I Love Myself The Way I Am and the audience sprang to its feet in a spontaneous celebration of his life and love and they clapped and danced in the aisles. He had completed his mission to release the joyous child hiding in every adult through his music. To this very day, requests for his albums and tapes come from all over the world. Last week, calls came from Great Britain, New Zealand, France, Canada and all over the U.S.A. Schools are featuring the song in their musical programs and his music lives on, more in demand now than ever. Cards, letters and phone calls arrive daily to sing the praises of this man's life's work.
I still needed permission to publish the words to this magical song and Debbie said Patricia Drain was publishing a children's book based on the song. So I called and found that this song had also touched another life in a very special way and furthermore, was about to impact a whole new generation of children.
Patricia Drain is an educator, business owner and international author, keynote and seminar specialist and speaks on such subjects as "Dreams Really Do Come True, You Just Need A Plan," and "I'm Dancing As Fast As I Can. . . So Why Am I Still In The Same Place?" She is devoted to her whole family: husband, children, grandchildren and her mom. As she was thinking about her grandson, and the wonderful, free spirit he is, she began to realize he was headed to school where name-calling and a lot of negative feedback can begin to steal away our self-esteem.
She could remember her own experiences, how over the years many were there to call you names, judge you by some value system other than your own and made growing up painful. Often, this resulted in having our dreams stolen, and the joy of living rudely snatched out of our hands. Being a creative problem solver, she decided to write a story to give her grandson, Nathan, and prepare him in a compassionate and loving way for what was coming.
She went to her tape library of more than 750 tapes and pulled Jerry Florence and Alliance's tape, I Love Myself The Way I Am. She wept tears of pure joy as she listened to the sparkling music that had touched her so deeply 13 years earlier. Suddenly, she knew she had something that many children should have to lovingly prepare them for life. So she purchased the rights to market the song lyrics in her book.
As she explained to me how she had written the book, had it delightfully illustrated and included a tape of Jerry and his group singing this single song, I knew I had to tell Darby Davis, publisher and editor of Awareness Magazine. I asked Patricia send the book and tape to be reviewed. Darby assigned it to our Kid's Book Reviewer, 8-year-old Christopher Thornhill. Christopher loved the book so much that Darby called and asked me to do a special story about this magical song of True Love as she literally held the presses!
A portion of the proceeds from the sales of this book and tape will be donated to Children With AIDS in Los Angeles, California.
The music of Jerry Florence and Alliance is available through "Go With the Flo", 16 Camden Place, Corpus Christi, TX 78412, or call (800) 266-2906. A CD is now in production, combining Jerry's music from two tapes - Songs from the Heart 1 and 2 - and will be available in December. Net proceeds are being donated to the International AIDS Project in Los Angeles in loving memory of Jerry Florence's musical ministry.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I, too, was a huge fan of Jerry Florence and Alliance and rarely missed a local performance. He was a wonderful performer and a truly loving and courageous human being. To this day I can remember the sadness, and the joy, as we all participated in his memorial service in Los Angeles, and every time I see balloons, I still think of Jerry and Alliance.
I LOVE MYSELF! This book and song is for children of all ages. Written for the kid inside all of us. It's about YOU . . . It's about ME . . . It's about OUR KIDS . . . and THEIR KIDS . . . It's about SELF-ESTEEM! This book and tape belongs in every home, every classroom and every church. A GREAT GIFT FOR SOMEONE YOU LOVE!
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