It’s Valentine’s Day and I find myself reflecting on how things have changed over the years. In elementary school the day was all about coming to school with a fabulously decorated shoe box – and tearing through cards with Bugs Bunny or Jem (she’s truly outrageous) or My Little Pony.
Fast forward to middle school. Gone were the rules that you had to give all of your classmates a Valentine. In their place was anxiety if I would get enough to make me feel loved by my peers. Add to that – the Valentine fundraiser from the cheerleading squad – delivered carnations to your classmate from a secret admirer. Never have much liked that flower since.
High school and college got easier. I eventually had a boyfriend or two – and also gained the maturity not to care as much about the number of admirers I had.
I’ll spare you the anecdotal tales of my 20’s – but now that I’m twice that age I realize the holiday is so much different. It’s about making bath bombs for my daughters’ friends, figuring out what will be in their little bag of treats from mom and dad, and making heart-shaped pancakes on the morning of the day.
Like many, I lament the commercialism of February 14th. We have more chocolate in the house now than we have any right to consume this year. I know the restaurants in our neighborhood will be insanely crowded tonight with people hoping to find love, hoping to keep it, and celebrating love they know will be theirs forever.
The challenge I see in my wisdom of 40 years – is maintaining the love throughout the year. It’s the notes I get from my husband when it’s not Valentine’s Day that mean the most. It’s the memories made when we least suspect them. A diversion on a trip that lands us in the middle of a Voodoo Ceremony (true story). A last minute decision to snowshoe up to a yurt to sleep for the night. Finding a cool ski trail with plenty of ungroomed snow to make ours.
So on this day, I encourage you (and myself) to reflect on how we can show love to people in our lives when they least suspect it after today, when they need it most. Beyond that, we all need to work harder to show love for each other. Post November 2016 – things continue to feel divided at the local, state and national levels. I can’t help but think it’s got to impact our mental well-being.
So my challenge is – smile at a stranger some time in the next week. Offer to help someone with their bags at the grocery store. Pay for a coffee of the person in front of you – if they look like that $2 might be the last in their wallet.
If you want to go further – donate to the work of Women AdvaNCe. We have major plans to expand our reach in the state this year and supporting our organization will help us advance our Writers’ Collective, Listening and Learning Tour, She is Fierce effort and more.