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Relational Reflections: Yes, another blog, and this one’s from Dr. Nadine and Dr. Zan at True Heights

A Celebration of Love - What’s Not to Celebrate?

Dr. Zan’s Thoughts:

I admit that I am not a particularly romantic person. In truth, I must own up to being that woman who has described Valentine’s Day as a Hallmark holiday. My cynical attitude toward the day has resulted in a hard and fast rule in my household that roses never be purchased in proximity to the holiday--why would we pay Valentine’s prices when we could get the same product for a fraction of the cost at a different time? I do not support going to a restaurant on the 14th, given that I am not a fan of pre-set menus with price inflation and the slow service that results from squeezing in extra patrons. One might accuse me of being a Valentine’s day Scrooge, and the accuser would not be wrong.

Despite my valuing of pragmatism over romanticism for myself, I must say that I do admire those who embrace Valentine’s Day fully, with all of its fluffy customs and dramatic expressions. Those who can fully embrace the idealization of being in love, with no concern that it might be impractical or overpriced, are often quite curious to me but always worthy of my respect. And I am willing to concede that these romantics are likely onto something that I have not yet been able to embrace and enjoy.

If I can look at Valentine’s Day as a time to celebrate love--all love--I can definitely get on board. Falling in love with another human being is, without a doubt, one of the great joys of life. Allowing ourselves to go with the fall into love can be intoxicating and amazing but also terrifying. The fact that we are willing to love again and again--regardless of the fear, loss, hurts that are inevitable--is a testament to the human spirit and to our need to live in loving connection.

Regardless of who is in your life right at this moment, now is a time to celebrate love. Naturally, relationships do not always bring out the best in us as our expressions of love are often quite flawed. However, I see love itself as pure and blameless. The love is not flawed, but what we choose to do with it can be.

Therefore, when in doubt, offer love, and offer it freely to yourself. Greet yourself with kindness and acceptance each day--make it a practice to engage in loving acknowledgment of you too. This is not valuing yourself as being above others; it is simply giving energy to the idea the you matter too. This is a powerful notion that I have taken away from my Mindful Self-Compassion training and something that I choose to live by.

So tomorrow, instead of working so hard to define how much of a non-romantic I am, perhaps I can just focus on the celebration of love. Love of my kids, love of my partner, love of my friends and family, love of my community--and yes, even and especially--love of myself. If you want to roll your eyes about how sappy that sounds, I’m right there with you, but I’m working toward fixing my eyes instead on the beauty and perfection of the love.

Dr. Nadine’s Reflections:

Well, Dr. Zan advised me that her blog entry would make me smile when I read it.  And, she was right. I did smile a big toothy grin. Because you see, I am that romantic that observes the day more traditionally, and carries out all those things that she eschews.

I watch the RomComs and revel in the romance of the holiday.  I admit to enjoying reading Valentine’s Day cards in the stores, looking for the just the right ones to buy for the loves in my life.  (In fact, for my Dear One, I have a card from me AND one from the cat…) I love thinking about how I can make the day special, from planning little unexpected surprises in the form of hidden notes or going out of my way to do a favor, or perhaps preparing a favorite food, or sharing a favorite experience or activity.

I do use Valentine’s Day to take the opportunity to acknowledge and express my deep affection for all the Loves that I have surrounding me and sharing my life.  While I focus on my Dear One, I also include the full complement of loved ones with whom I’m fortunate to celebrate every day of the year. When this time in February comes around, it triggers me to express explicitly the feelings I cherish for those people that make my life rich in love and deep in gratitude.  I think of the day as a tradition not unlike the tradition of celebrating a birthday. A birthday celebrates and acknowledges the specialness of the person who’s having the festivity. It gives the rest of us a chance to express our joy and happiness for that person’s presence in our lives. For me, this day of romance does something similar, but with a twist.  My Valentine’s Day’s focus is on celebrating the LOVE I have for that person. It allows me to express my joy and happiness for that person’s presence in the world, particularly in MY world.

I echo Dr. Zan’s avoidance of the trappings of the holiday.  I’m not a big fan of being pressured into observing the “Hallmark Holiday”.  Neither do I go out on “The Day” itself (that’s for rookies), only to be subjected to wait lists of 2 hours for dinner, and submitting to price gouging.  And, I don’t feel obligated to buy gifts or do things just because I’m supposed to -- that would be a red flag suggesting my motives are suspect.

The point really isn’t about Valentine’s Day at all.  It’s about telling your Dear Ones OUT LOUD what they mean to you.  I mean, REALLY LOUD. Make it known. Your loved ones want to feel celebrated and important to you.  It makes them feel good! In fact, I actually celebrate a “Valentine’s Month”, allowing each day to deliver its own version of romantic merriment.  I try to spread the romance out to extend its effect. For example, this year I decided to wear my Chanel No. 5 perfume every day, to revitalize the loving relationship I have with myself.  So, if you don’t choose to observe the day itself, that’s OK. It doesn’t mean you’re not loving or caring, or are callous and cavalier. You can pick any time in the year to acknowledge and honor the loving relationships you have with your Dear Ones (including yourself).  In truth, Dr. Zan and I are saying the same thing, just with different styles. Celebrate the beautiful loves you have in your lives.

So let me close with a snippet of my last year’s Valentine’s Day letter I sent to my closest friends of 30 years:

…On this day set aside to acknowledge our loved ones, I just wanted to say how much you mean to me.  Ours have been the most trusted, consistently loving, and honoring relationships that I've had over these many years…I propose that we, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, also recognize the relationships we've each developed with ourselves, individually.  We've gotten better at loving ourselves, respecting ourselves, honoring ourselves, and maybe just plain liking ourselves! You've all been my models…during the time we've known each other. I can't even begin to adequately describe how you've taught me, encouraged me, shaped me, guided me…, and I could never thank you enough with mere words...

But try anyway.  Be your own Valentine.  As Dr. Zan says, fix your eyes on the beauty and perfection of the love.  And share it with others.

#trueheightsconsulting #celebratelove

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