Existential Love

A few blog posts ago I talked about whose fault is loneliness. Feeling lonely often corresponds to feeling unloved. I’d like to consider the dynamics of loneliness and love a bit longer. How do you relate love and loneliness in your life?

The following quote from Irvin Yalom might help clarify what we search for in others, and loneliness as those needs, unfulfilled.

Growth-motivated and deficiency-motivated individuals have different types of interpersonal relations. The growth-motivated person is less dependent, less beholden to others, less needful of others’ praise and affection, less anxious for honors, prestige, and rewards. He or she does not require continual interpersonal need gratification and, in fact, may at times feel hampered by others and prefer periods of privacy. Consequently the growth-motivated individual does not relate to others as sources of supply but is able to view them as complex, unique, whole beings. The deficiency-motivated individual, on the other hand, relates to others from the point of view of usefulness. Those aspects of the other that are not related to the perceiver’s needs are either overlooked altogether or regarded as an irritant or a threat.

Irvin D. Yalom. Existential Psychotherapy (Kindle Locations 5185-5189). Kindle Edition.

It is ironic that independent and growth motivated individuals who are able to sustain themselves on their own make the most supportive partners. You are my partner because I admire and respect your existence, independent of me. I don’t need you to fulfill me, rather, I will work to support and witness your existence. I love you in that I offer my attention and energy in service of your existence. This attitude isn’t self-sacrificing per se. It simply resists self-aggrandizing. Your needs are as important as my needs. Reciprocity takes effort. That is the work of love. Many simply concede to lives of loneliness, maybe because the work of love seems out of reach and overwhelming. To honestly answer, why am I lonely? what am I searching for? what do I need? takes courage. Can I accept and receive the answer without judgment? Unless I take responsibility for my own attitudes about love and loneliness, I cannot mature.

“Infantile love follows the principle ‘I love because I am loved.’ Mature love follows the principle: ‘I am loved because I love.’ Immature love says, ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says, ‘I need you because I love you.’ Fromm’s point that love is an active, not a passive, process has extraordinary ordinary importance for the clinician. Patients complain of loneliness, of being unloved and unlovable, but the productive work is always to be done in the opposite realm: their inability to love. Love is a positive act, not a passive affect; it is giving, not receiving-a “standing in” not a “falling for.”

Irvin D. Yalom. Existential Psychotherapy (Kindle Locations 5213-5217). Kindle Edition.

Do you feel immature, mature, in-between in love?

May you be deeply engaged in the work of love,


Are you enjoying your privacy or are you lonely?
Photography by Nate Dale – New Adventure Production

Whose fault is loneliness?

How often do we feel in ourselves or notice in others the pangs of isolation and loneliness? We feel misunderstood, judged, rejected and diminished by others, and so we begin to self-isolate. In reading Irvin Yalom’s Existential Psychotherapy I came across a shift in perspective. What if I am responsible for my loneliness? What if, I am the one misunderstanding, judging, rejecting and diminishing others and myself? Do I have proof of perceived judgement or am I simply assuming it and using the assumption to push people away? In isolating myself and blaming others, am I fulfilling my own prophesy of the being too special or too unique?

What does loneliness feel like for you? Consider this quote from Existential Psychotherapist, Irvin Yalom:

Love problems are not situation-specific. Love is not a specific encounter but an attitude. A problem of not-being-loved is more often than not a problem of not loving.

May you send and receive love in equal measure,


Photography by Nate Dale – New Adventure Production

Community Church Cookbooks…….


……show us a lot about the power of food to bring a community together. Someone had to collect the recipes, each named person wrote down and shared something from their table, someone typed the pages, someone organized the book, someone punched the holes, someone tied the yarn that bound the book….the book has recipes, scripture, has anecdotes about how to preserve love. The gentle and fragile binding of the cookbook holds the congregation and what each of them materially and spiritually consumes. It is a record of loving effort.

Imagine putting together a cookbook with your loved ones, maybe its a collection of places and restaurants you have been with each other or alone. A shared biography of iPhone- Instagram food pictures. It doesnt’ have to be glossy and polished with professional photography. It can be messy, incomplete and loosely tied. It would still hold already shared or hoped for shared joy.  Save this for a  quick weekend project on a cold winter day when you are at home while a warm pot of stew simmers on the stove.

The poem about “how to preserve love” in the cookbook made me smile,

Give as much as you can away for it dries up immediately when put on a shelf.

Mixed with kindness, it is your best recipe for happiness.

Thank you to Rachel Perrin, my most nurturing and steady mother-in-law, who shared this mid-1970s cookbook from Villa Rica Baptist Church in Georgia and taught me how to make biscuits, coconut pie, pecan pie, chicken and dumplings, meatloaf and so much more.

Happy cooking and sharing everyone,



Food Poem – The Scent of Apple Cake by Marge Piercy

Yet another benefit to baking: “to make sweetness where there is none.”  I also loved the part about the sweetness of babies before “their wills sprouted like mushrooms.” Hope you enjoy the poem as I do!

My mother cooked as drudgery
the same fifteen dishes round
and round like a donkey bound
to a millstone grinding dust.

My mother baked as a dance,
the flour falling from the sifter
in a rain of fine white pollen.
The sugar was sweet snow.

The dough beneath her palms
was the warm flesh of a baby
when they were all hers before
their wills sprouted like mushrooms.

Cookies she formed in rows
on the baking sheets, oatmeal,
molasses, lemon, chocolate chip,
delights anyone could love.

Love was in short supply,
but pies were obedient to her
command of their pastry, crisp
holding the sweetness within.

Desserts were her reward for endless
cleaning in the acid yellow cloud
of Detroit, begging dollars from
my father, mending, darning, bleaching.

In the oven she made sweetness
where otherwise there was none.

“The scent of apple cake” by Marge Piercy from Made in Detroit. © Knopf, 2015. from the Writer’s Almanac, June 15th, 2017

Image and Recipe for teddie’s apple cake from Food52.com

Food Story Telling

Emilie Baltz’s work blossoms around food as story telling, as an emotional experience shared yet intensely intimate.

In this video she talks about love stories through food.

The first story is a about a chef’s childhood story about having to kill and eat his favorite pigeons. So his definition of love was sacrifice. The dish conveys a bittersweet physical experience of his emotion.

Love is about discovery for Moto chef in Chicago.

Love is boundaries for  Isa chef, Ignacio in NYC.

Watch below to hear and see the food stories about love.

How would you tell your food story of love?