Embracing the energy of Valentine’s Day year-round
Valentine’s Day is behind us and I have to admit that, even though I marry people for a living (I’m an Interfaith Minister), I’m glad we’re moving past all the hearts and roses and candy of the last month.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been married for 35+ years and love getting flowers any day, but sometimes in the commercialized whirlwind, we can forget about the other, equally special kinds of love that sustain us.
So let’s play with some ways you can celebrate the power of love all year round to nurture yourself and others whenever you need it most, whether you’re in a romantic relationship or not.
1. Have a ritual for embracing self-love.
What are the qualities, talents, and personality traits that you most love and appreciate about yourself? How do you honor those unique gifts and endearing "quirks" that make you, YOU? Do you ever?
As corny as it sounds, if you haven’t given yourself a big hug lately, then take a moment to close your eyes and do just that. Then, put your hands on your heart and envision it opening wide to reveal the words, images, and visions of your best and most delicious soul-self expressing itself. You might even spread your arms out wide as you feel your heart expanding.
Holding onto that expansive energy, write, draw, or create a poem that reflects what bubbled up for you. If you want to invoke the spirit of Valentine’s Day all year round, paste your self-love declaration onto a big pink or red heart cut from construction paper… you remember the way you created valentines when you were little, don’t you?
But this one is for you! Then, put it in an envelope, address it to yourself and mail it. You’ll fall in love with yourself all over again when you open your mail in a few days.
2. Let the love ripple out.
Are you getting the idea here? We don’t need to have a spouse, partner, or romantic relationship to celebrate the deep, connecting power of love. When is the last time you told your dad or grandmother, sister or brother, "adopted" uncle or treasured friend that you loved them? Or even the new friend you feel like you’ve known for years?
To express your love and gratitude for their presence in your life, you can create a simple, personal gift, imbued with your intention of celebrating your special relationship and what you most appreciate about them. It could be a beautiful shell from the beach vacation you took together or something that you make yourself — a knitted prayer blanket, an original poem, a personalized collection of their favorite treats.
Make its creation a sacred act — light a candle, put on some beautiful music, maybe burn some rose essential oil (for love!) in your aromatherapy lamp. I guarantee your loved one will definitely feel the difference between your thoughtful gift and a quickie, store-bought one.
You can translate this idea to a group celebration as well. At a recent bridal shower for a friend, I brought a big pillar candle and a long 4-inch nail, and as we passed the candle around the circle, each woman carved into it a word that represented her wish for the bride-to-be and her marriage.
It really was a deeply bonding experience for all of us, not to mention being powerful and emotional for her as well. Every time she lights that candle now, she’s reminded of the love and support of her friends and family as she embarks on this new phase of her life.
3. Expand your heart into the world.
If you consider your first love to be for yourself, you can imagine the origin of that love as the still, small core of wisdom that lies deep within us. It's where the essence of you resides. I call it your Circle of One in my book.
As we move out from that inner soul spark into the rest of our lives, I envision our families, friends, and multiple communities spiraling out in concentric circles around that (hopefully) well-nurtured core.
Just as you can create a tangible symbol of love and appreciation for someone else, like the candle-carving I described above, you can use this same ritual act of talisman-making to make a commitment to your own self-nourishment.
I wear a little pendant of concentric circles every day to remind me to nurture my own Circle of One as I operate in the larger circles and cycles of my life. It’s literally my touchstone to remind myself to pause and breathe and take time for little acts of self-care in the midst of my busy life.
As you expand toward those outermost circles of community and connection to the larger world, you open up to a level of universal love that can be expressed in a number of ways — as service to humanity, as deep devotion to a spiritual practice, or as random acts of kindness to strangers, just to name a few.
4. Give back.
So, shift back into your sacred space again with your candle, music and rose oil and bring a journal with you this time. Ask yourself, "Where am I drawn to ‘give back’? How can I best nourish my own soul-yearnings? In what ways can I offer support or guidance to someone in need?"
For instance, one of my passionate give-backs in recent years has been devoting hundreds of hours to producing creative projects (theater and dance productions, concerts, and art shows) through a non-profit I founded in 2009 to benefit organizations whose mission is to raise awareness and funds to end violence against women and girls globally.
We’re called the 4thU-Artivists (get it… activism through the arts?), and I’m proud to say we’ve raised over $100,000 since we started! I have to confess, though, that while this work clearly has benefited others in powerful ways over the years, it’s definitely fed my soul in equal measure.
So, don’t be surprised as you spend time in this spiritual practice of giving back, that you find yourself coming full circle, back to your open heart, back to your truest SELF, the one who loves you love best. If we choose to believe, as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote, that we are just spiritual beings having a human experience, isn’t universal love really self-love?
Enjoy the spiral journey!
Deborah Roth is a Life Design Specialist and Interfaith Minister who founded Spirited Living™ to help guide soul-full women and men through life’s big changes with joy and ease… and some simple, powerful rituals.