I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day earlier this week.
Let me begin again. I hope you’re finding all kinds of ways to get or give yourself the love and care you need this week.
If that meant celebrating the one day of the year designated for romantic love and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. And, if that gave you the boost of energy and inner wealth you needed to make this a winning week, then I’m happy for you. This season aligns with your core needs.
If getting or giving yourself the love and self-care you need this week doesn’t involve chocolates or roses or romance—either because you don’t currently have a romantic partner or because your current needs can’t be met by your romantic partner (news flash: romance doesn’t check every box!), then I have a story for you.
The season of love.
The approach of Valentine’s Day had me thinking about it all—romantic love, the absence of romantic love, and all the variations of love that don’t involve the stereotypical version of romance at all, including self-love. Last week, I asked a friend of mine, Beth, what she had planned for the holiday. Beth has been married for 20 years, so I imagined she would say something about gifts or a dinner date with her husband or . . . you know, the usual.
But she surprised me.
Sometimes little portals of connection and little pathways to love show up in unexpected ways. I hope this story inspires you as much as it did me.
“My mom used to make us a heart-shaped Rice Krispie treat with pink frosting. When she passed away, I took her dented, tin, heart-shaped mold. Now I make one for my son every year, but it’s also a present for me. It’s such a simple thing—I just follow the recipe on the cereal box—but I feel so connected to my mom when I make it. I don’t know why, but I feel her love in that dented tin mold more than I do in anything else I have from her.”
It’s time for self care.
Beth’s answer wowed me for so many reasons especially because it expressed the truth. The truth that little reminders of happiness, little portals of connection, little pathways to love, and self-love are all around us. Sometimes they’re in people. Sometimes they’re in objects or they’re in activities. And, sometimes, they’re in the far reaches of our most cluttered kitchen cupboard. Our actual cluttered cupboard and our metaphorical cluttered cupboard.
This Valentine’s season actually did align with my own core needs. My romantic partner of six years, Matthew, took me to Big Sur for the weekend. But, more often than not in my 68 years of life, Valentine’s Day has been disappointing; sometimes even painful, either because I didn’t have romantic love in my life, or because the “love” in my life had lost its romance.
At this point, I’ve had enough life experience to know with certainty that love has no hierarchy. Okay, true, it may have taken me three marriages and the better part of six decades to realize it. But . . . romantic love isn’t superior to the other kinds of love, including self-love (and self-care).
Case in point: I had a beautiful getaway with Matthew, and I cherish the relationship we’re continuing to build together. But, I was also happy to get home and resume my self-care practices. My weekly hikes with friends, my morning meditations, sitting in the hot-tub and looking at the stars – those moments that allow me to clear my head.
In the meantime, I’m thinking about how I can create my own dented, tin, heart-shaped mold moment.
That’s my challenge for you too.
This week, regardless of what Valentine’s Day means to you, I want you to ask yourself this question:
Where in my life can I make space for that little reminder of happiness, that little portal of connection, that little pathway to love and self-love that’s hidden right in front of me?
One of the best ways to make space for magic (or blessings, self-care, inspiration, or whatever you call it) to appear in your life is to deliberately ask for it.
And one of the most effective and tangible ways of asking for it is to write about it.
Putting the words of your intention into physical space makes them real. If the idea of writing it down speaks to you, or if you’re feeling open to trying something new, I invite you to journal about your intention—that intention to make space for that little reminder of happiness, that little portal of connection, that little pathway to love and self-love that’s hidden right in front of you.
And then, when you discover the answer—when you find that reminder, that portal, that pathway—write an update to your original journaling. And then you’ll have written the beginning, the middle, and the ending of a life story!
But wait . . . what was that I heard you murmur to yourself? You’re worried about what will happen if you set an intention and don’t find that pathway to love and self-love?
Oh, you will find it.
That’s the romance of intentional self-love, and the way it differs from typical romantic love: When you show up for yourself, it always pays dividends.