Love Thy Self

Where the healing power of love begins.

Words and images by Peter Bruun

Peter Bruun, Love letter #39 – from Pamela to Pamela

I enjoyed making this drawing. The dark interior lines, like a foundational center; the echoing outward cobalt blues, radiating and stretching and extending; the play of greens in harmonic resonance. I like its exuberance and springiness… its link to the phrase: “The beauty to behold, in a drop of rain.” Pamela regards herself in this poem with a beauty healthy for anyone to regard him or herself, a model of bold self love. In essence – in lovely evocative language – Pamela holds at one and the same time the pain and tears from life we cannot avoid, and how those very things shape our worthy selves – our hopes for tomorrow… the beauty of us as a drop of rain (a heaven’s tear). The story never told… told here. (Pamela is a therapist who works with those living with addiction, offering her services from a posture of believing in the power of love – a love which necessarily must start with the self.)

Peter Bruun, Love letter #508 – “This tree” from Megan to Megan

This drawing is based on a poem written by Megan, who while hiking in Washington State “was inspired by this incredible tree I encountered in the forest.” In the drawing, I have specifically picked up on the personification within Megan’s poem: contoured brown lines to suggest at one and the same time a stolid tree trunk and a leaping free-spirited person, bounding with a kind of joy in herself. I have tried to invoke Megan’s vision before the tree, seeing it as a manifestation of her own spiritual growth and love of herself. Around the time this poem was written, Megan was experiencing changes in her own life – a willingness to embrace opportunity and risk… to pursue dreams hitherto held at bay. It was the beginning of a positive shift in her own life, a shift no doubt impossible without a turn to the sort of positive self-regard reflected in this poem.

Love letter #751 – Missy to Missy (STAR)

A particularly rewarding aspect of the project has been the opportunity to work with several non-profit organizations with love at the heart of their missions, offering clients and community members “love letter workshops” in which participants wrote letters to inspire drawings. Many of the letters written were to the writer’s self, as in this case with Missy, a member of the STAR (Sisters Together and Reaching) community. Many of those from STAR have histories with addiction, within themselves and among family members, and developing positive self-regard has been such a critical part of their recovery and healing. So moving for me in a surprising number of letters from these workshops has been the willingness to be so open and vulnerable – so true, as with these words from Missy. In the drawing, I was thinking of the imagery suggested by Missy’s closing lines – seeing herself as taking care of herself like a freshly seen newborn, swaddled in gentle unconditional love.

Peter Bruun, Love Letter #158 – Gloria to Little Gloria

In drawings where individuals write letters to themselves, I often turn toward creating images that appear to have two forms mingling as one – here, the choice of green and blue are intended to convey that sense of duality… a sense of two figures together, perhaps sitting together and/or playing. The other aspect of color in this is the play of warm colors and cool colors – specifically, the rust-red ink letters set off the green-blues of the drawing, bringing out a kind of fresh, spring-like quality: innocent.