Lessons from the White Space Monster

Back in the early September days of this school year, my first grade students began work on a team-building art project. On the project’s third day, I decided it was time to share the tale of the White Space Monster.  I picked up the ‘Freeze’ bell,  stood on a chair, and held the bell high above my head like a mistletoe.  A couple children noticed me and assumed the well-rehearsed frozen position.  Ring Ring Ring, went the bell.  The room fell into a silent hush as eight pairs of 6 year-old eyes stared in my direction, ready to listen.   I’d managed to catch  their attention, and I was excited to deliver something captivating, meaningful, and worthy of their time.  I jumped right in:


“As I walk around the room,” I said,  “I notice that all of you are staying beautifully involved in your drawings.”  Then my face turned to a sobby frown as I continued:  “But, there’s a tiny problem.  Many of you are not completely taking care of your drawings.  That is, you scribble a few lines with a color pencil and you leave tons of white spaces.”

The children shifted their gazes back at their drawings to confirm my observations.  “Have any of you heard of the White Space Monster?” I asked in a mischievous tone.  Eight 6-year-old heads shook left and right to signal a ‘no.’  “Well, the White Space Monster is a really nice monster, and he never hurts anyone.  But!  If he sees anyone leaving white spaces in their drawings, he creeps up behind and tickles them!”

“You’re the White Space Monster!” the children playfully accused me.  I had anticipated this response and was therefore ready for a rebuttal.  “I certainly am not the White Space Monster, BUT,” I paused with a raised finger in the air.  “The White Space Monster is currently training me to do his job.  That’s right, boys and girls.  I have become a loyal disciple of the White Space Monster.  What all this means is I can come over and tickle anyone who leaves white spaces.”

“But why does the White Space Monster need to tickle us?” Beca asked. “And what does ‘disciple’ mean?”

I responded: “Because the White Space Monster wants to teach us that when we color in white spaces,  we are taking care of our work and we’re doing the best we can.  And when we do the best we can,  we can be proud of ourselves!  And the word ‘disciple’ means a student who follows and believes in a teacher’s wisdom.”

“What is ‘Wisdom’ mean, Allen?” Beca asked.

“Wisdom is joy that you will have if you do your best on all your work and treat other people with kindness!”

“Now then!” I continued.   “Of course, the White Space Monster understands special situations when white spaces are meant to be left white.  But in this activity, I expect you to do your best to cover as many white spaces as you can inside your pictures.”  

As the weeks passed, I often brought up the notion of the White Space Monster, but I never actually tickled anyone.  Indeed, all eight  students showed that they took the White Space Monster philosophy to heart:  the children began to put care into their work, and their drawings were improving every day.  

But the White Space Monster wanted to play.  So he came by to visit our class on September 25th while the children drew geometric designs.

In the middle of this activity I announced: “Excuse me, boys and girls.  “While you were coloring your geometric shapes I received a call from the White Space Monster.  He asked me how you were all doing, and I told him that you were  involved in a coloring activity today.  Then he told me that I have full permission to tickle anyone who leaves white spaces!”

“No you don’t!,” said brave little Teddy.  He had a huge playful grin on his face.  “You’re not gonna tickle us!  We can leave white spaces and nothing’s gonna happen!”  Teddy then looked around for social approval.  He got it from a few boys and girls who chanted, “Yeah! We’re not gonna get tickled!” Ahah – The tables have turned, I thought to myself…but not for long!

“Ok,” I said shrugging my shoulders.  “You are all entitled to your own beliefs,” and I slipped out of site to prepare for the White Space Monster ambush.  It took me a month to get to this epic moment, but it was worth the wait.  The children refocused their attention on their drawings while I silently counted down to zero.  And then I made my move: I ran through the classroom wildly screaming, “White Space Monster! White Space Monster!” pouncing behind and tickling every child.  I knew that at that point I had unleashed another monster – the Monster of Chaos.  The kids began to shout, laugh and jump up and down in a complete frenzy. After I got everyone tickled, I ran away toward the other side of the classroom with a stampede of 8 elated children chasing behind.  Collapsing on the meeting rug, I rolled onto my back and let the frenetic kids cover me with tickles from all sides.  

At the end of the school day, we came together for closing circle reflection.  Every child shared that his or her favorite part of the day was the White Space Monster’s visit.  Then I made my own impromptu closing speech:

“Yes it was also my favorite part of the day because I got to play and harmonize with all of you.  But for me, what also matters is that you learned something valuable from the play we had.”  Then I stopped for a moment, thinking what to say next.  It came to me when my eyes met Beca’s.  I smiled at her and said,” I hope that we all uncovered a bit more wisdom!”  She smiled back at me with a look of self satisfaction.

“So what did you learn?” I asked the children.

Jeffrey raised his hand but was way too excited to wait for me to call on him.  “We learned that we have to do our best and make sure that we color in all the white spaces!”

Liz added, “Yeah, and if we do our best, then we can be proud of our work.”

“Exactly!”  I said.  And you should be proud of your work because you all did a great job.  I will report this good news to the White Space Monster immediately.  He too, will be proud.”


The room erupted with laughs and giggles as we ended the school day together with a light-hearted  feeling of joy and a collective sense of closeness as a community of friends.  I am so delighted that the children found new skills in the arts, deepened their appreciation for a strong work ethic, and uncovered just a bit more wisdom in their young journeys as little Earthlings.  All was done in the name of the White Space Monster’s teachings  – to keep sacred the freedom of learning through play.Image

A 5 year-old’s Guide: How to Deal with Anger

“Choose a job you like, and you won’t have to work a day in your life.”

– Confucius

There once was a 5 year-old kindergartener named Teddy.  Teddy loved to visit my first grade classroom and participate in all our activities.  Every morning before school, he would run up to me and ask the same question: “Allen, can I be with you in upper elementary today?”  And I would usually respond with the same answer: “It’s ok with me, but first check in with your kindergarten teachers and make sure it’s ok with them.” Then Teddy would whizz off to ask Randall, the head kinder teacher.  Randall would usually say, “yes.”

One morning, Teddy was engaged in a math activity with my first grade students.  I was teaching a small group lesson to 4 kids while the others were playing math games.  Teddy and his friend Rick, walked up to me.  “We need to tell you something in private,” Teddy whispered.  “Yeah, it’s really important,” Rick added, putting extra emphasis on the ‘really.’  The three of us stepped out of the classroom.  As soon as I knelt down to their eye level, Teddy said, “Can me and Rick have some time to play outside of the classroom?”

“Ok,” I said with a hint of caution.  I waited for their faces to light up with relief, and then I added, “But first you must stay involved in your math activity for 10 minutes.  Then you can choose to either build with wooden blocks or draw pictures in the Atalier (Fancy Italian word for art space).”    

“Ok,” Teddy said.  “But we also need to run around the school while we play.” The urgency in his voice was so convincing, I nearly gave in. 

“Oh?” I replied.  “And why do you need to run around the school?”

“Because we’re Adventure Cats!” Teddy said with excitement. 

How could anyone contend with such an argument? Adventure Cats obviously need space to run around and make noise.  I mean, that’s what Adventure Cats do, don’t they?  Well, I couldn’t have two 5 year-old kids running around the upper elementary space during our math time.  But instead of denying his request, I decided to challenge Teddy to a game of negotiations.  If he proved himself worthy, I would settle on a compromise.

After 5 minutes of heated dialogue with the two boys, I proposed the following conciliation: “You may play Stationary Adventure Cats.  That means that you can be Adventure Cats while concentrating your mind and body on a specific activity.  Running around is not a reasonable choice because it will distract the other children.” As expected, Teddy and Rick agreed to my terms right away.

“We choose to build with Kapla blocks!” said Teddy.  Then the boys dropped onto all fours and crawled off to the block-building center, meowing as they went. 

Five minutes later I came over to check on the two Adventure Cats.  I found Teddy sitting motionless on the floor while Rick stared in shock at the disorganized mess of Kapla blocks that surrounded the boys. Teddy’s legs were twirled up like a pretzel in a full lotus position.  His eyes were closed, and he held his palms together in prayer.  Sensing my presence, he opened his eyes.  “I’m meditating,” he said calmly.  Then he closed his eyes again.

“Why are you meditating?” I whispered.

Teddy re-opened his eyes and shifted his gaze at the disorganized pile of Kapla blocks. “I’m meditating because I am angry,” he said.  “Our Kapla tower fell down, and I got angry.  I don’t want to be angry because it hurts.  That’s why I’m meditating.”  His voice was tranquil; and his brave little heart, unshaken by the ill-fated circumstances, had found a path through meditation, to dig himself out of his own sorrow.  He closed his eyes once more and returned to his temple of peace. 

That is why I love my job!


I’m Just a Kid – One Child’s View of Truth

Friday afternoon rolled around.  School was out, and I went to the front gate for my weekly after-school duty.  As I assisted arriving parents to sign their kids out, I knew that at any moment, Yok, one of my fifth grade students, would be come over to hang out with me for a few minutes. I have to confess that Yok had spoiled me with her perfect attendance since the beginning of the school year.  I always looked forward to our after-school conversations.  Eventually Yok skipped over and sat on the bench beside me.  “Hello, Mr. Allen,” she said cheerfully.  This that our chit-chat meeting was now in session.  

On that particular afternoon Yok and I shared personal stories about the times we broke or dislocated our bones, and about other stupid things we did to get in trouble. After about ten minutes I decided to change the course of our discussion.  “Yok,” I said with a thoughtful tone. “Who do you want to be when you grow up?”

“That kind of talk is for grown ups, Mr. Allen.  And I’m just a kid.”  She paused to study my reaction.  “And besides,” she continued.  “The future is unbalanced.”  Her eyes trailed off into the distance, leaving her words as silent echoes in my mind.  I immediately recalled a scene from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince where the narrator explains: “Grownups never understand anything by themselves, and it is exhausting for children to have to provide explanations over and over again.”


But alas, I was a grown-up, 32-years in; and I felt a need for further explanation. “Unbalanced?” I asked. “What do you mean by unbalanced?”

“I mean the future is unbalanced,” Yok explained in a scholarly tone.  “By the time I’m your age I will have changed my mind 100 times. So what’s the point of thinking about it now?” 


“You’re so right!” I said.  “Thank you for teaching me this truth.”  She extended her hand in the air with her palm facing me.  Awe-inspired, filled with amazement at Yok’s wisdom, I extended my hand to meet hers in a quick high-5. 


The future is unbalanced: what a beautiful way to verbally illustrate the ways of the universe.  I believe Yok understands that she’d be better off absorbing her mind in things that happen at the present moment, instead of meddling in a future that hasn’t yet been born. And I think she is a happy child for it.


And her comment, I’m just a kid:  it reminds me that I too, am just a kid.  Kids are good at being kids because they are kids.  So as a grown-up I find them to be great teachers for me to learn how to live life more happily. Thank you, Yok, for reminding me to live in the present moment; thank you for reminding me to continue being a kid. 



The Chocolate Nibble Challenge


When I was ten years old, Roald Dahl blew me away with his epic novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  This year I decided to do the same for my 5th grade students.  Indeed I had so much fun reading this book to them that I began to develop a new sense of gratitude for being an elementary school teacher.  But one little girl, 9 year-old Ada, helped me open my eyes to a new level of profound wisdom. Here’s how:

It was second day of school.  I stood in front of the class and held Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the air for all 14 children to see.  “Raise your hand if you ever read this book,” I said.  The class was silent.  “Ok, well, I’m sure you’ve all seen the movie, right?” Four hands went up.  But those four kids had only seen the new version of Willy Wanka with Johnny Depp (Which royally sucks compared to the original 1974 flick starring Gene Wilder).

“Wait.  Hang on,” I said in a drawl.  “You kids are telling me that absolutely positively one-hundred percently none of you ever read the book nor seen the original Willy Wanka movie?”  The children stared at me with expressions, as if to say, “Duh! That’s what we told you the first time you asked.”

Great! I had them just where I wanted them.  “Let the fun begin,” I thought to myself.  I jumped onto an empty chair and raised the book high in the air for all to observe. (You know your dramatic play is working when the children’s eyes tacitly implore you to keep going.) “Ladies and gentle-people,” I announced.  “Today we will embark on a long magical journey; a journey with secrets that can only be discovered through the exploration of this book I hold here before you.”  I waited to see what would happen next.  So far so good: a few hypnotized faces, several mouths open in awe, 14 beaming smiles. Sweet!

I dove into the book and read up to the part where Charlie would only receive a single chocolate bar once per year for his birthday because his family was too poor to afford more.  I read aloud with a somber voice how Charlie would take just a small nibble every day, how that  one chocolate bar lasted him for many months. I asked the children, “Do you think any of you could save one piece of chocolate for as long as Charlie did?”  The kids shook their heads in unison. “No way!” many declared with passionate conviction. “I could never!  I love chocolate too much!”  But Ada was not shaking her head.  She was looking straight at me, quizzically contemplating the question I’d just asked.

At that moment a cool idea popped into my head.  “Ok boys and girls. I will now make you an offer that you can refuse. I offer you an opportunity to receive a delicious bar of chocolate.  All you have to do is complete The Chocolate Nibble Challenge.  Prove that you can savor one chocolate bar for a whole month, and you will be generously compensated with a sweet, chocolaty reward.”

Though many kids announced they were up for the challenge, only Ada put it into action. Ada was exceptionally intelligent, amicably optimistic, and excitedly curious about the world. From day 1 she displayed her natural role as the seamstress for the social evolution of our class.  We became friends right away.

The day after I announced the challenge, Ada came to class with a chocolate bar and a home-made 30-day calendar that she had created on her free time. She took the first nibble in front of me.  We put the rest of the bar in a Ziplock bag and I placed it in my desk drawer.  Indeed, Ada didn’t miss a day.  She would wait until the end of school, until all children were gone.  Then she’d cheerfully skip to my desk, take a nibble and put it back.   Finally the last day had arrived.  Ada showed me her calendar. Each day was neatly check-marked with an X.

“You did it! Ada! You passed the test! You won!”  I exclaimed.  Just like Willy Wanka put Charlie through the test of sincerity, discipline, and perseverance, I wanted Ada to know that she had succeeded all the same.

The next day Ada was bursting with joy as I placed a Hershey Chocolate bar into her hand.  “Thank you Allen!” she squealed.  “Thank you so much! I never had a Hershey bar before.  Thank you Thank you Thank you!” She capered out of the room as her voice trailed into the hallway.  “Thank You!  Thank You! Thank You!”

As I sat in silence – inviting the precious opportunity to be in oneness with the present moment – It’d occurred to me that Ada and I concluded the Nibble Challenge in the most beautiful way:  I offered her a gift to express my deep appreciation for the sincerity in her heart. And in return she offered me a gift of profound gratitude.  This exchange was, and always will be, very special to me. Ada engraved a spirit of determination in my heart, inspiring me to be like her – to discover delight in the smallest nooks and crannies of everyday life; to find the joy in the here and now.

The next morning I found an envelope on my desk.  Inside was a letter from Ada:

Dear Allen,

Thank you so much for the Hershey Bar.  It was the most FANTASTIC chocolate bar I ever had.  I am so happy!  If it’s ok with you, I would like to take another Nibble Challenge for _________________ months (Allen: please write how many months).  You can put this letter in my desk and I will see it when I come to school.  Thank you!




A Harmonious rANT

They disembarked at my shores like a storm with no warning, escalating the possibility of war…

ImageAfter getting settled in my studio apartment in Thailand, and following weeks of mindless harvest of enjoyable (and totally unhealthy) street food, I was ready to prepare my first meal at home: tuna salad with chopped vegetables, spread on rye bread, topped with cheddar cheese, and warmed in the toaster oven.

Keeping my MacBook closed, I-phone in my pocket, book on the shelf, I resolved to eat my dinner in silence.  I placed my tuna sandwich on my newly purchased Japanese-style plate, and then tenderly positioned it in the center of my brand new IKEA table.  I sat down and wistfully gazed at my food, musing about the naked simplicity of this present moment: me, sandwich, silence.  No plans for the future or memories of the past.  No worries, gripes, or hang-ups. I took the first bite and felt my brain deliver sweet accolades of euphoria through my body.

However, my solitude was soon to be interrupted by the visitors.  I first noticed them when they marched past my plate.  They were 5 strong, filling the my the room with an air of menacing fidelity – a deep devotion to feed their master – The Queen.  One could only guess when the contingents landed on the shores of my apartment Room 8406; could have been days, months, even years before my settling there.

They were dressed in matching black armor and moved in unison. Indeed, they were born and raised as loyal clones, bred to follow all orders even in the face of the most perilous circumstance – the encounter with humans.

They’re here! I thought to myself unnervingly. The ants disembarked to claim their stake on their land…which I now occupied…Room 8406.  I knew right away that my waging war on the colony would not only be futile, but it would be inhumane – kind of like when in real life countries invade other countries with no resolution and regard for human life.  Yes.  There would have to be another way to face my fate: to offer diplomacy and request peaceful co-existence.

Meanwhile, the scouting division of five ants ceased its advance and froze to assess the viability of the situation.  I watched their antennae waving in the air like leaves in a storm.  They must have been using a cryptic ant language to discuss the situation before them.  They were probably saying, “Hmmm, what shall we report to her Majesty: deploy troops to R8406 or continue the search for other options?”  The ants continued the procession past my food to the other side of the table, down the table leg, and across the floor toward the nearest corner.  Then they disappeared out of site – for a while.

I imagined the ants reporting the epic news: “Your majesty! Your majesty! We have located a human occupier in your kingdom!  He cooks his own food every day.  And…and….and he leaves crumbs…EVERYWHERE!  Your highness, we have on our hands a pure-breed draggletail messy-eating – S-L-O-B!

The Queen would nod her head in stoic approval and order immediate construction of a Food-Gathering Formicidae Military Base in between the walls of my room.[1]

And they did just that.  Here’s a list of the ways that the Ant Colony of R8406 has workred for the sake of my well-being:

–       I am now extremely mindful of how well I clean up after myself

–       My apartment is free of dirty dishes

–       My floor and counters are free of crumbs

–       If I do leave any trace of food, the ants come out of the woodwork to help me with cleanup.  Once all the food is gone, they disappear.

–       The ants have challenged my ego in many ways.  If you really think about it, is it right to say that the ants are disturbing my peace and my space? Who was here first?  The ants!  In fact it is I who is disturbing the ants, if anything.

–       It’s actually pretty cool to share the apartment with the ants.  We’ve um, uh, kinda become friends.  I like their company.  And I’m pretty sure they like my food.

I can’t wait for an opportunity to share this story with my students at school; to share my opinion that Ants – just like people, just like anybody and everything – are good teachers for us.

And to the ants I dedicate this pithy poem:

Mad Gratitude for changing my mood

And deep apologies for my maybe being rude (before)

Thanks for helping me clean up my mess

You and your Queen are totally the best!

[1] Formicidae is the family that ants belong to.  And just in case you were wondering they also reside in the same insect family as wasps – the Hymenoptera.  Cooooooool!

Three Secrets to Success in Elementary

Three Secrets to Success in UE-I learned this trick from Randall, my mentor and co-teacher.  Throughout the years I’ve modified it to fit my teaching style.

On the first day of school (or any day that works well for you), write the following message on chart paper:

Three Secrets to Success in Elementary (and in life):

1. Make a Good Choice

2. Stay involved

3. Remember to Clean Up

Present this chart to the children and have a discussion about what these secrets mean.  Also discuss the meaning of “success.” Then display the chart paper somewhere in the classroom where it’s easily visible.  These guidelines are extremely versatile and can be applied to everything the children do.  Once the children internalize this mantra and can recall it at any given moment, you will be in a position to hold them accountable for every choice they make.  Call it a behavior management tool, call it a mantra for life, call it what you will.  It works!

Reunited with my Students

Teach = Play I often taught my elementary students: “Listen to your heart – be wise, be mindful, be silly, be smart.” After five years of service as a teacher at KMS, I decided it was time to respond to the callings of my own heart: I packed up my bags, said good-bye to the families, to my fellow educators, and to my beloved students. I boarded an airplane with a one-way ticket to Thailand and went on to explore a new life as a teacher.  But after a year of separation, my heart was speaking out again, imploring me to come back and say hi.  So I packed up my bags again and flew to America to do just that.

But I wanted my reunion with the KMS kids to be just like in the movies: a tear-jerking blockbuster, sheathed with emotion, tears, hugs and smiles.  For days I mused over a dozen scenarios of how beautifully it would all transpire.  Oh yes.  My surprise visit of March 14, 2013 would go down as one of the great moments of my life.

I snuck into the school early in the morning. Peyton and Liz, the upper elementary teachers, were waiting for me as planned.  We had a quick powwow to make sure we all knew our parts.  Then they went downstairs to bring the kids up to the upper elementary floor, and I dashed upstairs out of site.  The plan called for a quite simple execution: the children would gather for an all Upper Elementary Council meeting along with Po – my stuffed, super soft and fuzzy panda bear – who would play a critical role.  Po had been a relatively passive, though special, participant of in every classroom I taught from my first day as a teacher.  When I came to KMS, the children breathed life into Po, adopting him as one of their own.  As a symbolic gesture of friendship and trust, I left Po in the custody of the kids before I moved to Thailand.  But now I was back, and Po was ready to come alive in a way nobody would have ever imagined.  The stage was set for an epic surprise.

It was go-time.  Peyton called my phone with her phone and activated its loud speaker.  That way I would be able to hear the entire conversation from my hiding spot.  I kept my phone by my ear and quietly waited for the children to come upstairs.  Finally I heard their high-pitched voices fading in, rapidly permeating the air space of the second floor.  My heart revved up with excitement.  When the butterflies flew into my stomach, I knew there was no turning back.  I held my breath and listened. The children gathered on the floor and made a big circle.  I imagined Po sitting upright next to Cara-Rose (now 9 years old).  Cara had been told about the plan in advance and agreed to be our accomplice. After the children settled into their circle spots, Peyton announced that the talking piece of the council meeting would be her own cell phone.  Of course, nobody knew that the phone’s loudspeaker was on and that I was able to hear everything that was being said.

Peyton began: “This morning’s theme for our council meeting is: A special memory you had with a teacher.  When you receive the talking piece, please share your memory.”  Peyton handed the talking piece to Cara.  I listened to Cara reminiscing about a memory she had with me last year.  Then she placed the cell phone on the floor right beside Po, and said, “Po, what do you think?”

That was my queue.  I took a deep breath and spoke into my phone: “Ever since Allen left, I had a wish to see him reunite with all you kids at KMS.  I miss Allen telling us to listen to our hearts.  And I want him back. So I decided to listen to my own heart: I went back to school to learn how to make my wish come true.  I applied and was accepted to the PhD program at the most prestigious Panda College in the world, The University of Panda Magic.  After I got my Magic PhD, I went on to become licensed to practice “Mystical Transport Magic,” which would give me the qualifications to transport people from one place to another when I would really miss them.  Well, I suppose now is the time to share with you my exciting secrete: I have been working on a magic formula specifically designed to bring Allen back to KMS. 

I paused for a few moments and listened to any commotion from the kids.  The room below was dead silent.  Perfect!  I went on:

Now, I need all of you to pay very close attention because we only have one chance at this.  It’s currently the middle of the night in Thailand, so I am assuming that Allen is sleeping.  We’re going to wake him up and bring him right here to KMS.  I need everyone to quietly whisper a countdown from ten to zero.  If my calculations are correct, Allen will appear before us by the time we get to zero.”

I put my phone away and tip-toed to the bottom of the staircase. I heard the children whispering, “5…4…3…2…1.”  Clothed in pajamas and my hair in a mess, I walked into the open.  I was standing right in front of the children.  At first there was a strange silence, but then, “He’s here!” they whispered, as I inched closer to them.  And then all 35 children stood up and ran up to me. Within seconds the entire group embraced me.  We were back together again, hugging in perfect harmony, all at the same time, together as one.  An overwhelming feeling of unity rushed into the tear ducts of my eyes.  I caught the eyes of many children with looks of bewilderment, excitement, and joy.  All the while I was participating in the best hug of my life.  Then I noticed Pheona, now 8 years old, standing on a chair and staring deeply into my eyes.  Tears rolled down her cheeks as she softly repeated, “You came back to see us.  You came back!” I nodded and said, “Yes, Pheona! I came back to see you.”

Peyton called the kids back to rejoin the circle to resume the council meeting.  As the talking piece made its way from one child to the next, I heard some of the most touching words from the kids about how much they appreciated me as their teacher, how thankful they were to me for caring about them and never giving up on them.  Listening to such sincere and loving expressions of gratitude, I felt cradled in a state of oneness.  It was as if I was enraptured by the accolades of the universe, which gave me the gift of sharing so much joy with the people who I really cared about.

Indeed, that day was one of the happiest of my life.  I got to experience the mighty capacity of love.  But it wasn’t just the love that did it. It was that togetherness aspect of love – the mutual sharing of feelings that I always place in such high regard.  In my opinion, it’s damn important and completely worth striving for.  It’s what makes my world go round and round and round. How can I be so sure?  Cause my heart told me so.  And I’m pretty sure that hearts have a pretty solid record of telling the truth.