I was 18 and had been in an “on-again-off-again” relationship for a few years. On Valentine’s Day of my senior year, we were “off again.” I was bitter, sad, felt like a loser, and wanted to cancel the day altogether.
Until something shifted.
A few days before the big day, I got the idea to research the history of Valentine’s Day and St. Valentine. I wanted to explore deeper than the facade that Hallmark and Hollywood sell us. I was desperately searching for a way to turn my hurt and self-consciousness into something new and more beautiful.
While reading up, I came to the conclusion that Valentine’s Day is a commercially created holiday, and that St. Valentine likely wasn’t an advocate for only romantic love, but all love. I decided that Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about loving out loud, telling the ALL of the people I love that they are special to me, and celebrating the collective love for humanity.
I dug deeper than my pain and recognized that I had lots of love that I needed to express on Valentine’s Day (and beyond), and I needed a new way to connect, rather than disconnect in shame, sadness, and isolation.
This day couldn’t be about teddy bears, roses, and chocolate from a boyfriend or a crush. To me, Valentine’s Day needed to be an expansion of the definition of love and a broadening of who and how we love.
Thus, my next idea… I decided that it would be most meaningful to show love to people in our society who are often forgotten or overlooked: those experiencing homelessness.
I got my mom in on the whole idea, and we quickly got started making Valentines by hand with doilies, glitter, stickers, and markers; albeit still a bit commercial, handmade cards were a joyful tradition that my mom shared with me and my sister.
Along with each Valentine, we would hand out a treat. We decided on donuts.
On the morning of Valentine’s Day, mom and I drove downtown in my hometown, Albuquerque, New Mexico, to deliver little bits of love and sugary hugs to people who were living without a steady, stable home.
We received so many smiles and appreciations, and we ran out of supplies quickly. The sensation of being present with another, sharing a moment, and acting on the principle that everyone deserves love was powerful and transformational!
Again, something BIG shifted.
CELEBRATING VALENTINES DAY IN MY EVERY SINGLE DAY
From that February 14 on, Valentine’s Day became my favorite holiday. I’ve been known to host Valentine’s craft parties, my mom often ships me a box full of love and treats, and I often share about this memorable, perspective-shifting experience from my senior year of high school– my search for love and meaning in the world.
I must admit that I still partake in some of the commercial elements of the holiday, but my philosophy about the holiday comes from a place of authentic love, rather than expectation. This is what I hope to share with you and even more so with your teenagers who may be feeling pressured, depressed, expectant, or even excited about the stereotypical ideals of this holiday.
Over time, my love for the holiday grew, and I eventually named my commitment to live in love: Valentine’s Day Everyday, a movement.
What started as a desire to heal myself became one of my biggest WHYs– the reason I keep showing up and the reason I want to live another day: to notice love, to live in love, and to create love. Not just one day out of the year, but every day!
HOW YOU CAN MAKE EVERY DAY VALENTINES DAY
I’ve made it part of my life’s mission to tell people I love them. I’ve committed to noticing and observing love around me and appreciating it. Whether it’s a heart-shaped hole in the sidewalk, a lost and found love note, or witnessing a mother hugging her toddler, I want to know love.
And it’s not just the nicely packaged things that are love. It’s dropping my breakfast on the way out the door (when I’m already late), the basket of laundry waiting for me to fold it, and the meltdown my tween client is having that reveal what love is and teaches me how to love freely and fiercely.
Valentine’s Day Every Day is about looking at ALL experiences through the lens of love. Responding from a place of love and staying open to all forms of love.
I invite you to take on this mission and make it your own. How can you live each day as if it were Valentine’s Day for everyone?
WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY
Below are a few ideas that you might like to try as you get started on living Valentine’s Day Every Day:
- Snuggle with your partner a little longer.
- Pack an “I love you” note in your child’s lunch box.
- Pay for coffee for the person in the drive-through behind you. Or the car in the toll booth line.
- When you see something– a book or knick-knack or greeting card– that reminds you of a friend or family member, buy it for them. Don’t wait until a holiday or their birthday to gift it.
- Hand out snacks or water to people who are experiencing homelessness.
- Text a friend you haven’t heard from in a while, simply expressing what you love about them or sending a virtual hug.
- Make a meal for a friend who has been sick or tired or stressed out.
- Gift yourself the chocolate or flowers you look at with desire. You are worth it!
- Write a love letter to a stranger!
- Make a handmade card or collage for a friend or family member— just because.
- Pick a flower and pass it to the next person you see.
- Leave a positive affirmation somewhere where another person will find it– inside of a book, on a chair, on a signpost, etc.
- Look for hearts in nature. (You’ll find soooo many!)
- Write a poem for someone you love.
Have ideas? Go for it! Whatever comes up is authentic and real for you. Show that love to yourself, others, and the world.