Back in September 2018, author Laura Staley did something remarkable.
She and some friends stood at an intersection in their town of Black Mountain, North Carolina, holding up some signs.
Every Wednesday they would be there with their signs.
Some people would lean out of their car window and shout at them. Other people would wave. Still others would ask them what in the world they were doing.
Laura is still there with her sign every Wednesday, and over the years of watching people respond to it, she has learned so much about why this one word on her sign—love—triggers people so intensely.
What IS it about love?
Let’s find out!
What You’ll Learn
We’re literally there to spread love out into the world. That’s it.”
One day, Laura got a call from her friend Ruth Pittard.
“Will you join me?” Ruth asked. “I’m making a love sign.”
Ruth invited Laura to make her own sign and stand with her at the main intersection of Black Mountain, just waving and smiling and spreading love.
Laura was in!
“I said yes,” she remembers, “and I think the simple answer to why I said yes is I have discovered that I’m here to love and be loved in return.”
Love hasn’t always been easy for Laura.
It’s taken practices like meditation, running, dancing, and deep inner work to heal the emotional hurts and wounds built up over the years.
But now she can stand there at that intersection spreading love with compassion, comfortable in her own skin, expecting nothing, just showing up with an open heart.
Most people respond positively to the little group waving with their signs.
Some people cheer and honk. Others yell, “We love you, too!”
One man teared up and said, “This makes my day. If you haven’t heard, ‘I love you,’ please know that I love you.”
Some local children made their own love signs and pressed the signs against the car window as their parents drove them past the intersection.
Not everyone is happy to see the signs, though.
Some people deliberately avoid looking at them and focus on the road.
One woman scoffed, “I can’t believe we have to advertise love.”
Some men have faces like thunderclouds and flip them off.
Laura remembers one couple that drove through the intersection. The wife, seated in the passenger seat, smiled and waved at them. The man scowled and flipped them the bird.
“I was like, ‘Ah, that’s an interesting relationship, right?'” Laura remarks. “Because literally on our signs all it says is, ‘Love.'”
What IS it about that word that triggers people?
“Maybe they have it associated with politics,” Laura muses. Or maybe they “associate it with some experience in their past. They’ve got it associated with things that it’s not associated with at all.”
Laura understands the love cynics.
There was a time in her life where she might have reacted angrily to a love sign.
She remembers her first marriage, when she felt so angry and triggered by her partner’s responses that she behaved in ways that didn’t reflect her best self.
So she doesn’t take the haters personally.
“I think it comes from a place of pain of deep pain and unresolved hurts, maybe even traumas, in that person’s past,” she says. “They think this is a way to outwardly demonstrate that.”
Learning to Love
Laura remembers her own deep pain and unresolved hurts.
She grew up terrified and traumatized.
Her grandmother and father showed up as loving individuals in her life who did the best they could.
But she found it difficult to love herself. She didn’t feel safe in her own body. She didn’t think she was valuable.
“I really believe that I came in hardwired as a loving, gentle, tender soul,” she says. “Not that I don’t have sass and feistiness. It’s in there, too!”
She found herself drawn to people with gentle, tender energy.
She turned to nature and books as havens from the chaos at home.
As an adult, she began her own healing journey with support and professional help and gifted healers.
It’s been an ongoing process. “Standing with the love sign, honestly, is its own healing,” she says.
Her inner work led her to feng shui, the practice of arranging your physical space to support health, productivity, creativity, and relationships.
She realized she was living in a house that hated her. It was filled with objects that represented other people’s tastes and preferences.
After her basement flooded, she went through everything she owned and got rid of objects that didn’t inspire her or make her feel joyful inside.
“And sometimes it’s not a thing,” she adds. “It’s the people, right? It’s our relationships.”
She began to seek out relationships with “people who were on that similar path of of learning to value, love, and accept and forgive themselves for all those moments that they were just not their best selves.”
As she learned and grew and reflected on her memories from the past, something else began shaping itself inside of her…
Laura’s memoir Live Inspired is deeply personal look at the memories and the spiritual practices that have shaped Laura’s life.
“It’s heartfelt candor,” she says. “I’m so honest about my bumbling and my fumbling.”
But out of that bumbling and fumbling has come deep lessons, like how to “hold space for myself and bear witness to my humanity.”
“That’s a lot of what this book is about,” Laura says. “That self-discovery and cultivating what I call in the book my inner fly on the wall, that witness consciousness.”
Get ready to laugh and cry and see the world in a new way.
Laura is the founder of Cherish Your World, passionately supporting people to thrive in their hearts, homes, and lives. Laura writes personal essays focused on self-discovery, feng shui, emotional health, and transformations from the inside out. She is the published author of Let Go Courageously and Live with Love: Transform Your Life with Feng Shui and the Cherish Your World Gift Book of 100 Tips to Enhance Your Home and Life. Find out how you can work with Laura.