Valentine’s Day has always been my favourite holiday. I love that it is a holiday where we are encouraged to be especially conscious to show our love. I know that it can be cheesy and full of overpriced long-stem roses, giant teddy bears, poor quality chocolate in heart shaped boxes and overbooked restaurants, etc. I've seen that side of it and that isn't the Valentine’s Day that I'm thinking of.
The Valentine’s Day that I'm referring to is the one where it is socially encouraged to be overly loving and show your partner, soul mate, friends and in recent years, children, how much you love and care about them. It's a day to take yourself off autopilot, stop and reflect on how incredible this force called love is in our lives.
Love is intangible. It is a feeling that we can't really put our finger on. We can't see it, but we can definitely feel it. When we feel love, we feel surrounded and held in the warmest, softest embrace - an embrace that really knows us and sees us, wholly and completely, just for who we are. The perfect image that comes to mind for me, is the idea of relaxing into the arms of love. Love is essential to life. It is just as important as the air we breathe, yet most of us, take the love in our lives for granted. We are highly aware of it at first when it comes mixed with attraction and lust, but as relationships mature and the comfortable feeling of love takes over, showing affection fades into the background. We run on autopilot, knowing that those we have important relationships with, the ones with people who truly love us, will always be there. I know that a lot of marriages eventually end over this. We tend to prioritize everything else and just assume that love will always be running in the background, regardless of how much effort we put into it. Looking back on it, my marriage was a perfect example of this.
Most of us struggle to fully access our ability to give and receive love. Love has a powerful vibration, over 500 Hz. By comparison, neutrality is 250 Hz and the lower emotions, which most people naturally gravitate towards because they are more comfortable and familiar, are below that. As much as we may want to increase our love vibration, it is hard work. It requires vulnerability, it requires opening our hearts and allowing ourselves to be fully seen. It requires being courageous and trusting because we are exposing the most vulnerable parts of ourselves. Yet, we can only receive as much as we can give, which means that sometimes (or maybe often) when we are open to that much love, we are also opening ourselves to that much pain. In order to protect ourselves from the pain, we build fences and walls around our heart but in the process of doing so, we also block love. I know this one well. I am often very guilty of this but I have gotten better at noticing - I can catch myself shutting down to love and yet sometimes, I still consciously choose to stay within my comfort zone, rather than push myself to show up in a way that feels unfamiliar and uncomfortable. I am rarely the first to give a hug or a kiss. I don't always think of cute things I can do to show my love on a regular basis, especially when it requires being the first to act, or when I am feeling especially vulnerable, like after a fight or a bad day. I rarely let go completely or allow myself to relax and be held. And, of course, the opposite is true as well, I rarely have the emotional space and energy to fully hold someone else either. Babies are easy to love. They are nothing but love, we can cuddle and squish them and we smile when see them. We expect nothing from them other than to enjoy receiving love.
When kids get older, we get busy, we focus on everything that needs to get done to get through the day and as much as we love our kids, we don't always show our huge openhearted love for them. We can't. We are rarely present with them not because we don't want to be, but because it is impossible. We have too much going on and we haven't taken care of our own needs, so we can't possibly be there for theirs, unless it is urgent. We also want to teach them to be independent and not depend on our outward shows of love, so that they come to know their own love and not need anyone else's validation to make them feel okay. With no guidebook for parenting, we are all doing our best - our best in a culture that is completely overwhelmed, over-stressed, over-exerted and with no time to be overly loving to anyone, including ourselves.
Which brings me back to Valentines Day, the one day a year where love is consciously on our mind and we’re called to openly shower love on the people that are most important to us. The one day a year where it is socially acceptable, in fact pretty much required, that you open your heart and get creative on how to show your love. And it is the one day a year where we have to let our guard down and allow love in. I find it endearing that in recent years, the holiday has expanded to include showing love to your kids, your girlfriends (Galentine’s Day) and even yourself (self-love). There are no rules around love and the more we love, the higher our collective vibration. So ignore the overdone parts of the holiday – no need for those giant teddy bears or expensive dinner reservations and look at the beauty of it. Buy that cheesy card that will make someone laugh. Go out of your way to find the most delicious chocolate and write that love note to your kids. Take the time to pour your heart out in a love letter or print that photo of the two of you that you know she'll smile at. Get that new heart necklace you love and buy it as a gift for yourself. Lie in bed with a new book and take turns reading it to each other. Admire a cute couple in love and soak in their vibrations. Tell everyone that you love them more. Tell your kids. And tell yourself. It's the little gestures like this that we are encouraged (sometimes required) to do on Valentine’s Day that we should be doing all year round. And, it is only by doing them more often that they become part of our regular routine and habits. So challenge yourself to show your love on February 15th, 16th, 17th and every day just as you do on Valentines Day itself. It may seem strange, awkward and challenging at first as you may need to force yourself outside of your regular way of thinking, but life is short and we have a choice on how we choose to show up. So this Valentines Day, and every day after it, try harder to show up fully and show up in love. I know that I am going to and I challenge you to as well. Our love will change the world!