how to have (and give) a goodenough valentines day

valentine’s day is here. why not embrace it this year? there is no need to panic. no cards to make or flowers to purchase. you already have all that is required to honor those you encounter today. all you need now is courage and creativity plus a few ordinary household objects like paper, a writing utensil, and, possibly, some tape. 

in short order, here are some ideas.

1 pay no attention to conventional norms. the observance of valentines day does not need to be limited to lovers. you can find something to love in just about everyone if you try and expressing this care is important both for your own growth as well as for theirs.

2 put aside fears of rejection and ridicule in order to make space for the empathic care of others. your own personal discomfort won’t seem so bad when it’s placed beside the joy another might feel as a result of your meager efforts. you can handle awkward. trust me. you can.

3 get your resilient flexibility on. not everyone is comfortable accepting recognition, kindness, and love externally. internally, however, almost everyone feels caught off guard in the best of ways by being seen and treated with genuine care. if you are brave enough to take the risk to honor someone, very likely they will feel deeply blessed. they just might not show it. be prepared for this so you aren’t stopped in your tracks by a lack of gratitude.

4 carry a “packet” of a few basic supplies. mine includes side walk chalk, lipstick, and pre-printed slips of paper that say “i love you because” with room to add some reasons. yours, however, might simply include paper, pen, and tape. sticky notes are a plus. some kind of little candy or trinket that you can distribute throughout the day might be fun. nothing needs to be fancy. you yourself are your best supply. all the rest is just frosting on the cake.

5 set out on your day with a sense of awareness. look for opportunities to thank people, to recognize the efforts of others, and to express respect and care for those you meet or those who are behind the scenes at the places you visit. people who are cleaning public restrooms, stocking the shelves at the market, making your meal, doing your dry cleaning, washing your dishes at a restaurant, responding to your customer service call/email, delivering your mail, seeing you at the after hours/weekend clinic,  or taking your ticket at the theater are perfect “targets.” they do their work almost invisibly and are rarely thanked. prepare your mind and heart to notice these dedicated people today and determine to recognize them in whatever way you can.

6 if a face to face, eye to eye thank you or “i appreciate you” isn’t possible, leave a note. it doesn’t need to be fancy or well written. it can be scribbled on a napkin and sent to the dishwasher on a dirty plate. it can be written on a sticky note and left on the mirror. it can be sidewalk chalked outside an establishment (or lip printed on someones rear view mirror). it doesn’t matter how you do it but let someone (or someones) know that you notice them, that they matter, that you care.

7 if you feel disappointed because you feel slighted, overlooked, or alone today, person up and either do something wonderful and fitting for yourself or ask those that love you for what you want/wish for/need. just like walking into a restaurant does not ensure you will get the food you want, living in relationship does not secure a fulfillment of your wishes. asking for what you want and need is healthy, mature, and helpful to those around you. it’s hard. it’s worth it. so is buying yourself the massage, meal, flowers, candy, or video game you hoped that someone knew you wanted.

8 treat yourself with love and it’ll pour out of you to those around you. treat others with love and it’ll come back to you. practice today with the intention of letting it spill out to tomorrow. embodied relational living (beginning with a genuine and healthy love of self) is worth all of the work it takes to achieve. just go giveget it...

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