Reflections on Love

Photo by Kerri Shaver on Unsplash

“Happy Valentine’s Day!” I say with a bit of trepidation. This holiday is complicated.

When I was young I had been brainwashed by stories of true love and happily ever-afters. I would get my hopes up on Valentine’s Day that my wonderful prince would grace me with the affection and love I craved. It never happened, and it never will happen, at least not in the way my young mind imagined.

After getting tired of disappointment, I tried to ignore the holiday all together. Which was SUPER easy to do…wait…why is there pink and red hearts and chocolate and stuffed bears all over every store I go into in January and February? In other words the holiday is not easy to ignore. This country loves to celebrate romantic love and to use it as an opportunity to boost the economy. I was having to exert a lot of energy to ignore Valentine’s Day and convince myself that I wasn’t disappointed once again.

Over the last couple of years I have decided to not ignore Valentine’s Day and instead change it into something more meaningful to me. Valentine’s Day is now a way for me to celebrate love in all its forms and a reminder that those we love deserve our attention and affection all year. Romantic love does not need to be the focus. No form of love is higher than another.

In honor of love in all its forms, today I am going to share lessons I have learned about love and provide ideas on how to celebrate it.

Ten Lessons I have Learned about Love

  1. Loving yourself unconditionally is essential to achieving wellness and joy. Knowing yourself and you own unique needs is incredibly important. Friends and partners may come an go, but we remain, and so will the love and care we can provide ourselves.
  2. It is possible to love a family member but not be able to have a close relationship. Boundaries are healthy.
  3. Familial love does not only have to come from blood relatives.
  4. It is possible to love your neighbor but not like them or agree with them. Love can be simply being aware of someone’s humanity, experiences, and struggles and then treating them respect.
  5. Sometimes we need to stand up for ourselves to keep others from taking advantage of us. This is an act of love toward ourselves, and if done respectfully, it is an act of love to the other as it maintains a relationship of authenticity.
  6. It is possible to be in love with someone who you should not be partnered with. Even if the love cannot be expressed through partnership, it is still beautiful and you should not be ashamed by it. With time, the love will change, even if it remains for the rest of your life.
  7. To love someone (whether a friend, family member, or partner) is not to grasp a hold on them, but to be by their sides (literally or figuratively) as they grow. Let them be exactly as they are in this moment. Learn about them. Learn with them. Communicate honestly and often. Be willing to change the relationship if that is what is needed. Remember to love and honor yourself in the process by setting boundaries.
  8. An animal companion can teach you the work, patience, and openness it can require to love while also affirming its wonders.
  9. It is powerful when you honor how a person or animal likes to receive and express love .
  10. Your heart is bigger than you think.

Ideas for Celebrating Love

  • Love for yourself
    • Honor your body through exercise and movement
    • Get some fresh air
    • Do your favorite relaxing activity
    • Have a nutritious meal, or some comfort food!
    • Write a list of attributes you appreciate about yourself
    • Write a list of things you are thankful for
    • Get extra sleep
    • Meditate
    • Set a new wellness goal
  • Love for family and friends
    • Call/Text them
    • Visit
    • Help them with a chore or project
    • Give a card and/or gift
    • Set a goal for how to better stay connected
  • Love for an animal companion
    • Give them a special treat
    • Spend extra time with them
    • Give them a new toy
    • Reflect on the joy they bring to your life
    • Think of ways you can love on them more every day
  • Love for your neighbor
    • Smile at a stranger
    • Give a donation to a charity
    • Do a random act of kindness
  • Love for a partner
    • My one and only suggestion:
      • Set expectations with your partner for how you would like to celebrate (if you would like to celebrate at all) and come to an agreement that you are both comfortable with then follow through.

Get out there and love, and remember it’s not just important today 🙂

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