Self-Love Transforms Us to Become Love

Suzanne Marie in swimming pool

We read about self-love inspiration on self-care blogs and social media without really thinking about what it feels like in practice. Positive affirmations from authoritative resources about personal development, personal growth, and mental wellbeing with images of a lot of people who seemed to have figured it out can flood our feeds if we are looking for it. In these posts, we see the outcomes of people who have learned how to make better choices to become a better person and live a better life.

Speaking for myself, there was a time when I would immerse in filling my feeds with new things like self-care ideas and the importance of self-love and I would set goals with strategies to overcome low self-esteem. Looking back, I was in such a state of panic I was convinced that my goal of finding the right way to self-love needed to be achieved in a single day.

One of my favorite messages in my feed was about how changing your life is one decision away. I would ask myself, “how?” What is the best way to achieve a change of life? What are the fastest and most effective ways to shift from low self-esteem to real self-love? I was desperate to see myself in the bathroom mirror, embracing myself because I would finally know what self-love means.

Slowly, over time, I started to realize we are all on our own journey and true self-love comes from strong foundations of a state of being. I learned how a daily practice including the simple steps to make positive changes in small things is a great place to start.

Welcome to my new blog series where I share important lessons about how to uncover your true strengths with daily practices to take care of your own needs by choosing to live in a state of unconditional love by having a healthy relationship with your authentic self.

The first step is healthy choices. If you’re making conscious choices for your well-being, you will see how we are always in the right place, at the right time, and with the right people. This is my story about my own journey to self-love, and the first steps, to living an inspired life in a state of appreciation for my authentic self.

How do you achieve self-love?

  1. choose healthy relationships
  2. choose your tribe consciously
  3. put yourself together
  4. lifelong learning
  5. choose love

Living abroad has created space and time to look at my life from a bird’s eye view. These are five key lessons I have learned in the past few years of my travel. Each lesson is embedded in choosing love for self and others:

Changing Your Life is One Decision Away 

We read inspirational memes and posts on social media daily without really thinking about what it feels like in practice. Changing your life is one decision away? How?

My soul sister, Karen, and I both decided at the same time in June 2019 that we were going to take massive action to change our lives. Both unhappy with aspects of our lives and searching for how to live a fulfilled life, we discussed work, family, community, travel, and our life’s passions. At this very moment, both of us sitting together at Tim Horton’s in south Calgary, Alberta Canada she decided to move to her home in Ireland and I decided to move to China. She boarded her plane in July and I boarded my plane in December. Not knowing what to expect, we both ventured into unknown territory, leaned on each other in the dark times, and celebrated our successes. These were big moves with ripple effects throughout all of our relationships and experiences. Each of us felt resistance within and around us. We leaned on each other throughout our journeys abroad.

Changing your life is as simple as deciding what you will allow to flow into you. Choosing healthy relationships and consistently setting healthy boundaries for yourself is something you can do today.

Choosing healthy relationships includes:

  • choosing what food you will eat,
  • what movies you will watch,
  • what books you will read,
  • what activities you will participate in,
  • what music you will listen to,
  • how you will spend your money,
  • who you will spend your time with,
  • and so on.

We all have the potential to live our best life and to live to our fullest potential right where our feet land. Balancing self and others in the relationships that mean the most to us begins with understanding our core values and setting healthy boundaries from that space. 

Self-Love Means Choosing You First

Choosing ourselves first, above all else is a form of self-love. I have learned we are all one decision away from changing our lives.

Since originally writing this post on December 30th, 2020, I have made many decisions to change my life. Last year I completed a Certificate in Project Management, completed a Master’s of Education (Teaching Multilingual Learners), wrote a children’s book, and settled into my new healed way of being by consciously choosing what flows in and what flows out of me and my life.

Things seem clearer and my future is focused. It’s a great space to live in.

Taking a break from online classes.

Self-Love Means Choosing Your Tribe Consciously 

Throughout our lives, we encounter many people. Some we hold close, others move on. Karen always reminds me people are with us in our journey of life for reasons or seasons. I am grateful for those who showed me the reasons but hold those close who remain with me throughout the seasons. As we grow, we change. Some people may disappoint us in their response to our growth.

What we need to remember is that it is our growth, not theirs.

Growing may mean letting some people go and that is ok. You are ok. What you are feeling is normal. You do not need to judge your feelings. Choose your tribe members who will support you, challenge you, embrace you, and love you throughout. People who you can learn from and feel the assurance of a reciprocal relationship.

Self-Love Means Choosing Your Narrative

When my dad was in palliative care, he feared the imminent death he faced. He asked me if I am ok. I said, “Daddy, close your eyes and remember us sitting in the boat on a sunny day. Hear the water, feel the sunshine.” He closed his eyes and smiled. “Smell the fresh air of the north. Do you see it?”. He replied, “Yes baby girl.”. I said, “Daddy when I miss you, I can love you from here”. He nodded, hugged me and we continued with our day.

This is the thing, we will lose people and we will let people go, and we can love them from here.

Choose the people you want around you and invest in your relationships with those who get this. Hanging on, trying to prove your worth, and giving without reciprocation, are all indicators you may find value in spending some time within to see what you are needing in your relationships.

Feeling raw, yet whole, in Beijing 2020.

None of us do anything because of someone else.

We all behave based on what we are needing. It’s not about you, and it’s not about me. Remember this, please. After taking the time you need to reflect and once you are clear, go and find your tribe. They are out there waiting for you!

Celebrating my birthday in 2022 in Haikou, China.
Brunch with friends at home in Haikou, 2021.
Enjoying dinner with our friend in Haikou 2021.

Self-Love Means When the World Falls Apart Put Yourself Together 

In 2020 I spent 17 weeks in isolation with no physical human contact. This was life-changing. In 2022, I spent 12 more days for good measure in limited isolation with access to our garden to take Cathy, our golden retriever, out for her bathroom breaks. I must say, my time in 2020 prepared me and this year I didn’t feel the fear and angst I did the first time around. I was prepared in mind, body, and spirit. I had time to order groceries and supplies, I was able to get fresh air a few times a day, and Cathy and. I learned the discipline to climb six flights of stairs to burn off excess energy.

The lesson in these experiences is we need to adapt when the world is falling apart around us.

This period of my life allowed me to go within and clear out what was no longer needed so I could be open to receiving what was waiting for me. Being isolated from human physical contact gave me a deeper appreciation for my spiritual practice. Leaning on my elder’s teachings and ancestors with smudge and prayer each day helped me to keep focused on living in the moment and reminded me it is all a moment in time and I will pass through.

Elite Learning Staff Meeting in Beijing 2020.

Sometimes when prayer wasn’t’ enough, I learned to pick up the phone and say, “I don’t know if I am going to make it.”. Reaching out when we are scared and vulnerable takes courage.

FaceTime with my bro Scott in Beijing 2020.

Knowing our tribe helps to ease the process of asking others for help in our darkest moments.

Self-Love Means Choosing How You Spend Your Time

My soul sisters and brothers and I invested in hours-long FaceTime calls during this time. I am grateful beyond words. My experiences abroad at this time in our world have given me a deeper appreciation for those around me, especially those of you who rallied around me in my darkest times. FaceTime calls, text messages, blog comments, and emails have warmed my heart and reminded me I am loved and my tribe is with me always. 

FaceTime with Molly in Beijing 2020.

Lifelong Learning is a Lifeline

Investing in yourself with both tangible and intangible assets creates value and confidence you will not find by any other means. My experiences in China showed me I still have a lot to learn. Moving to a foreign land with a different culture, language, and way of life put me into a classroom. Simple day-to-day tasks like getting mail, ordering food, setting up a bank account, doing banking, buying a SIM card, and visiting a doctor were new to me.

I needed to fast-track my learning, acceptance, and resilience in order to survive.

Self-Love Means Choosing a Growth Mindset

People have told me that once you spend one year in China, you will make it. I am now in year three and know what they meant by that statement. No one consistently speaks English here. Especially in Hainan. Learning Chinese pinyin and characters is essential to communicate and feel connected to the community around me. Now that the MEd. is done, I will continue to take Chinese classes. I do feel confident when I am speaking Chinese in the community, even with my Chinglish errors. I can make purchases, request medical care and prescriptions, shop in the markets, order food in restaurants, answer and respond to telephone calls and text messages, and communicate my address to delivery people. I have much more to learn as I believe learning Chinese is a lifelong adventure. My proficiency is a beginner at best, yet I feel connected and understood. 

An evening of self-love in Beijing 2020.

Choosing Love Opens You up to Being Love 

I wrote a blog post on the previous platform about this topic and will re-post again in the coming days. You will likely see more posts about this topic in the future as I continue to learn about being love. Most of you already know about my journey to self-love. Shedding old karmic systems of beliefs is important in this process to get to the root of your being. Being away from my loved ones and periods of isolation provided me with the perfect opportunity to reconnect with myself. In the spirit of seizing the moment, although unintentionally, I was forced to decide if I was willing to choose love for myself.

Girl time with two of my high school students in Haikou, China 2022.

I could either lay down and give up, or I could dive in and learn how to love myself wholly.

Exploring all parts of myself was essential to deciding what to keep doing and what to let go of. It was a painful time of clearing out the clutter of past lives I lived. In the end, it was the greatest gift I could have given myself.

Suzanne in Haikou 2021.

Self-Love Means Choosing to See Love

I learned how to see love around me, how to reframe my perception of love, and how to be open to receiving the love I had longed for. Love is in the fabric of my family relationships, friendships, work relationships, and now in my intimate relationship. Shifting from wanting love to being love opens us up to attracting what we desire in this life. Connection, belonging, and security. This is my recipe for how to be love. These three key ingredients provide a foundation for all relationships, starting with your relationship with yourself.

Xander blowing kisses, Haikou 2021.
Alexa and Victoria sharing giggles, Haikou 2021.

Self-Love Means Choosing a Self-Love Practice

We all need a method to mediate our relationships with ourselves. I used painting. Creating paintings was my time to immerse myself in art and music. I would put on my most comfortable jammies with my playlist on a Bluetooth speaker and sing my heart out while I painted. This process was therapeutic and cathartic. Looking back now, and reviewing my personal masterpieces, I can see not only what I was experiencing at the time of creating each painting, but how my painting craft has evolved over the past three years.

Self- Portrait, Beijing 2020
Self- Portrait, Haikou 2021
Self- Portrait, Haikou 2022
Boo Bear, Haikou 2022
Union, Haikou 2021
18, Haikou 2021

Moment after moment I was surprised and thrilled with how becoming aligned with our truest selves, while grounded in these three foundation blocks, manifested what I had been waiting for. Taking my time to consciously look at every possibility presented to me, I was able to see what and who I wanted to spend my time with very clearly.

Being love puts us into a state of light.

With Murphy in Haikou, China 2022.

Self-Love Means Recognizing Love in Others

Others who shine this light will be presented to us and we will recognize them when we see them. It genuinely makes us feel like our sunshine has quadrupled being around them. Doc (Murphy) is my mirrored source of light. When we met it was unexpected. Neither one of us thought we would randomly meet someone at a medical clinic at the Visa office who would become our person. As I mentioned in my previous post I was spiraling after receiving my medical results and learning the name of the congenital heart issue I live with. Although minor in nature, it was devastating for me at the time as I was so scared to have to give up my life abroad at some point because of it.

With Murphy in Haikou, China 2021.

In a random act of sharing our contact information, he taught me about it as he told me only after the fact, that he is a physician and surgeon on residency to specialize in cardiothoracic surgery. What are the odds? In China, we add people on WeChat almost daily, and here we were chatting with each other and he is specializing in the heart.

We developed a beautiful friendship over weeks of talking about our passions, what brings us joy, our goals, what we want to learn, and our interests. We spent time with friends, danced the nights away, played cards, watched NFL football, and shared experiences together.

With Murphy in Haikou, China 2021.

Self-Love Means Courageously Following Your Heart

Following one weekend when I went away for the night to another city, I realized how much I missed being around him. My mind was upside down with questions about why I missed him so much. Looking back, it was funny because he had previously asked me if I was interested in dating and I said I wanted to be friends. I wasn’t ready. His response was to be around me in whatever form I wanted because he valued me and enjoyed our time together.

Our friends kept asking me what I was afraid of and why I was waiting for someone when someone is right in front of me. “What are you waiting for?” , “What are you afraid of?”, “He adores you!” The funny part was now I had to be the one to share that I wanted more for our relationship and I was terrified. I was faced with another choice. To choose love and be love or chose to continue to believe this kind of love is for other people.

Christmas in Haikou, China 2021.

We decided to begin this journey together almost two years ago and each day I am so happy to not only be in love with Murphy but to be love with Murphy. He and I have both done our internal work to live in a state of self-love. We speak the same language, and our spirituality intersects with a solid belief that our ancestors are in everything. 

Choosing love and being love is not about a relationship. Choosing love during our days opens us up to know love when we see love.

Self-Love Means Setting Boundaries

In our union, Murphy and I are clear about our boundaries for what our “self” needs first. Starting with a foundation of core values guiding our personal lives, we are able to intersect our core values and boundaries with the life we aspire to live together. Looking at our relationship as an entity on its own helps us each to check in with each other and our relationship needs. I am grateful as we are each consciously aware of the two living entities we are responsible for: self and relationship.

Spoiler alert: this type of living is a load of work.

I will say, when we choose love, choose our tribe, put ourselves together, and adopt a growth mindset to keep learning, we are on a trajectory of transformation to becoming love.

Until next time, 


Further Reading

‘Eat, Pray, Love’ (Gilbert, 2007)

Deepak Chopra Resources

Brene Brown Resources

Boyce Avenue Music

Music for Body and Spirit

50 Best Smoothie Recipes

Gaia (Yoga)

Gaim (Yoga)


Yoga With Adriene (30-Day Yoga Challenge)


How to Set Boundaries as an Act of Self Love


If you are an educator, parent, or grandparent and looking for practical strategies to use with children, concepts to understand, and ideas that can be easily implemented about how to create space for self and others, you have landed in the right spot.

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Children learn how to solve problems the same way they learn how to read, write, and add. Like reading, writing, and adding, there are three specific components to solving problems. These are teachable skills children can learn at any age.

Published by suzannemarie

Educator and published author of conflict management and children's books. Living life to its fullest. I believe in courageously honouring my truth and living my legacy. Lover of meaningful conversations, coffee, food, art, and building connections. I love writing about my fascination with culture, food, adventure, self-love, and living a healthy and fulfilled life!

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