I’ve always secretly loved Valentine’s Day. From the time I was a little kid, I loved everything about it. I loved the exchange of silly, sweet cards with action heroes, magical princesses and funny-faced animals; and I loved the little boxes of Sweet Tarts and the juicy heart-shaped suckers with messages like “Love Me” etched across them in sugar. Remember?
But as we grew older, it got more complicated. And Valentine’s Day became serious, commercial, maybe even a little manipulative. But I still loved it; I loved it even when I was no longer married and without a steady relationship. I still went to work with grade school valentines and candy hearts and handed them out to coworkers feeling the same silly surge I felt as a kid.
I know Valentine’s Day can be hard on some people who are not in romantic relationships. I am fortunate myself now to have a man in my life who regularly brings me a fresh-cut flower from our courtyard with my morning coffee, who understands that romance and expressions of love are necessary to keep the fires of my heart stoked. And he also understands Valentine Day, as commercial as it is, is a good day to bring me dark chocolate, or bird of paradise flowers–not because it is expected–but because it is appreciated.
But for those of you who feel lonely or sad or in need of attention on Valentine’s Day, I offer you these thoughts. Love yourself. Love yourself with the steadfast commitment and respect you desire from others. Self-love is the precursor to all healthy relationships and the relationship we have with ourselves sets the tone for our relationship with others. So be your own beau on Valentine’s Day and every other day of the week.
We women are such natural care-givers. We give at the office, we give to friends, we give to family members. We give, give, give until we are often depleted of our power and of our will to care for ourselves. Now, especially at midlife, is a good time to get in the habit of giving to ourselves. In my book Tao Flashes, I talk about the need to fill ourselves up first, to snatch the juicy pieces of life we have been denying ourselves, and to live a rich and inspired life.
So, whether you’re in a relationship or not, how about practicing the art of self-love this Valentine’s Day? Indulge in a piece of Godiva dark chocolate, take yourself out to a matinee, treat yourself to a spa day. And when you’re feeling really good, share the joy that is you…buy a valentine card for a perfect stranger or a co-worker.