Happy Valentine’s boys and girls. It’s the week that Hallmark and Walmart do their best to pry open your mouth and cram in as much Pepto pink, heart-shaped emotion that will fit. If you’re of the terminally single persuasion like myself, you’re either too busy to notice, or too dead inside to care. But since I work in the booze industry which thrives on sales of bubbles around this time of year, I do have to somewhat acknowledge the existence of February 14th. All in all, for someone who should be quite the cynic of love, I actually don’t mind this holiday. Honestly, I don’t hate it as much as Christmas.
In spite of the fact that I’ve been burned beyond recognition in the romance department, I haven’t written off love completely. The world is full of it in all its various forms once you open your eyes and your heart a little. That’s why I’ve chosen to use this day as an opportunity to be grateful for all the love I DO have in my life instead of focusing on the 1 love I DONT. And when I think of it that way, love is freakin’ everywhere!
My parents are the most important place to start. The older I get and the more my friends are having children, I’m becoming more cognizant of the truly special love a parent has for a child that I will never fully understand. I’ve been so blessed with 2 parents who, while not perfect, love me more than anything. Not everyone is lucky enough to have people in their life who are there to catch them no matter how far they fall and would give the shirt off their back if they needed it. Every morning my dad is the first person I talk to. He always tells me the weather and before I hang up he tells me he’s proud of me. And every single night my mom calls me before bed to tell me to be careful and that she loves me. There is no man out there who could ever love me as much as my parents do and it is absolutely irreplaceable.
Next I don’t have to look very far for another great love in my life- my 3 sweet little doggies. If you aren’t a dog owner, I don’t know how else to describe puppy love to you. But for the last 16 years, practically half my life, I’ve never once came through my door without being greeted with wiggly butts, wet kisses and big smiles. These dogs have seen me through moves, marriage, divorce, college graduation, falling in love and falling from grace. They’ve never offered anything but love and acceptance and never asked for anything but love in return. I truly believe animals exist on a higher and more pure plane than humans.
I’m also beyond blessed to have amazing friends in my life who love me unconditionally but are quick to snap me back in line when I’m wrong. There are lots of people who come and go in life, but those who stick around for it all, even if you don’t talk all the time, are priceless. If you have even 1 friend like this you are lucky. Never take for granted those people who genuinely care about how you’re doing.
I really hate that this time of year can be difficult for some people. When you’re struggling, everything can feel like a personal attack and I’ve been there more than I care to revisit. But please remember, just because you didn’t get flowers delivered to work or missed out on a box of disgusting Russell Stover’s mystery center chocolates doesn’t mean you’re any less loved than your co-workers or the strangers on social media. I’m not trying to subtract from anyone’s joy, but oftentimes people try to overcompensate for things that might not be quite right. So that lady who got a big expensive piece of jewelry might have to deal with a liar and a cheater 364 other days out of the year, or the couple who took the weeklong trip to a sunny locale might be on their last attempt at saving their marriage. People truly only show their highlight reel, so don’t be so quick to compare your reality to what others are presenting to the world.
As cheesy and cliché as this is going to sound, the most important love you can ever have is the love for yourself. It’s also the toughest to find, sometimes even more difficult than finding that elusive soulmate who is going to somehow complete you. Listen, there is no greater feeling in this world than being madly, blindly in love with another human being who returns those emotions. On the flip side, there is also no greater earth shattering devastation when that person takes that away, and since you can’t control anything but your own self, that is always a very real option. So the best bet for return on your investment is to give that much love to yourself first and foremost and be open to letting someone in who can meet those standards. Do as I say and not as I do, as this is seeming to be a lifelong journey for me personally.
So go all out this week and embrace the love. If you have a significant other, find the most special way you can to show them your affections. If you’re unattached romantically, use this day to appreciate all the other amazing loves in your life, be it family, friends, pets, even Mother Nature. If you don’t have money for gifts, wake someone up with a text telling them how much they mean to you. Your words and actions have the capacity to change the course of another person’s entire day and it doesn’t cost a cent. Better yet, challenge yourself to sharing the love year-round and not limiting it to February 14th. This world would be a much better place if we all did!