Valentine's Day has been my favorite holiday since I was six years old. What's not to love about love? Everybody loves somebody, right? So, as usual, my house is bedazzled with red, pink and white hearts galore; love is in the air here, as it always was. I look at my kids: love. They look at each other: love. Then there's a dog: all about love. Even the guinea pig radiates love, with his little whistling and wheeking sounds. There's love in the food I cook for us, there's love in the nightly tuck-ins and stories read, there's love in the kiss-on-the-forehead wake-up calls, and there's love in snuggling under blankets to watch old Get Smart episodes on a Saturday morning.
But for me, of course, love looks different now. I have no "Valentine" -- well, except for Dash, who reminds me pretty regularly that he's my Valentine, though I suspect that may be to avoid saying "yes" to a particularly persistent second grade girl. (You go, girlfriend. Future leader of men right there!) And yet, this year, I don't know that I've ever felt more loved. It's such a bizarre juxtaposition: singlehood and feeling loved. I think I couldn't have imagined it before because I've never been in this position. Yet in part because of friends' communal embrace, and even more so because of my own journey of self-awareness, I've realized that alone isn't so lonely after all -- and that the greatest love actually comes from comfort in your own skin, a belief in yourself, and peace within. It's when you tell yourself that you matter and truly don't need anyone else to reinforce that message. It's when you know that you're trying your hardest to be your best self and working at living a good and authentic life. It's when you look in the mirror and know that someday, you'll have another Valentine, and it'll be someone who accepts what's looking back at you, with all of her wonder and all of her flaws, too -- and knowing that if that's not the case, that's not The One.
More than anything, this past couple of years has been an eye-opener for me about what love is and what love is not. I think we learn the difference just by living -- and failing, and getting back up again, and saying: I am going to love the world tomorrow anyway, because that's what I do. Love looks different now, but love is love is love.
Happy Valentine's Day to You. - xo - Rox