Each year Valentine’s Day comes on the heels of Christmas and New Year’s Day. Typically, by the time you catch your breath and sort of recover from the “holidaze” it is time to gather cards, flowers, chocolate, and schedule quality time with those we hold dear to make them understand how much we care. The flip side of that is that we need to prepare to BE loved as well.
For most single parents, taking time to love and be loved is dubious at best. This takes preparation, thought, creativity, and energy, vulnerability and self-worth. Time and resources are often fleeting, and that normally kicks our self-worth around a bit, then that affects our energy.
So, rather than focus on cute ideas for the family for Valentines, this year, I am writing a series on love written from my heart to yours. I am going to take the time, be vulnerable and give you my thoughts, energy, and care. It is my hope that each of you will pay it forward to your children, your family, your neighbors, employers, and even to each other.
This Valentine’s Day we are going to talk about LOVE. L-O-V-E in a way that opens our hearts to love and be loved with an openness that drives contentment with ourselves, our loved-ones and inspires us to respect ourselves.
“L” is for LETTING OTHERS CLOSE
Have you ever heard the statement that “hurt people HURT people”? If you have overcome a life change like divorce, abandonment, abuse, or the death of a spouse – chances are that you feel hurt or afraid, and have a hard time taking a chance on others again. If this is you, please hear me – the best Valentine’s gift that I wish for you is that you will be brave, and let down your walls and let your kids, friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, teachers, pets near you emotionally. I know this is difficult because it has been difficult for me. We are not really protecting ourselves, or others by staying at a comfortable distance. We are only rejecting them, and sewing seeds of sadness in our own lives. It is as if we quit on others, and also, in turn, on ourselves when we do that. This Valentines, don’t just “go through the motions” but take a chance on love again – and let those who care about you – CARE about you, and also, give them the best gift of all – your genuine heartfelt love, laughter, and thoughtfulness.
“O” is for OVERCOMING “SUPPOSED-TO-BE’s
I had a friend talk to me about fighting up-hill battles. The battle for fairness, the battle for equality, the battle for beauty, and this list goes on, and on, and on, and on. We are not supposed to get abandoned, divorced, severely sick, laid off, cheated on, or abused. We are not supposed to get “stuck” in the anger about those things happening either, though.
If we are to experience LOVE this Valentine’s Day, we need to tear down the unfair and/or unrealistic standards we place on ourselves and on those around us. The fact is, that as single parent families, there is more about the way we live that is precious, that we cannot see because we are too caught up in “supposed to be’s”. It is like we cannot see the forest for the trees.
So what are we missing when we are stuck in the “supposed to be trees”? We are missing precious time and presence of mind and heart with our children, family, neighbors, co-workers, God, and ourselves.
If you are like me, and get stuck in “stinkin’ thinkin’” traps – let’s pull ourselves out and put our minds on things that are excellent, hopeful, loving, worthy of applause, and open ourselves up to the possibilities of “blossoming where we are planted” like a rose in the snow!
“V” is for VALIDATING YOURSELF
I have heard it said that you cannot love others until you first love yourself. I have a critical hard driving inner voice that drives me every day to get things done at a pace that most people would not tolerate. In fact, during times of stress at home or at work, I have said things to others that mirror the way I talk to myself in my head – and those who were being addressed that way either cried, walked away, or filed a complaint.
Now I am not saying that we don’t need to hold ourselves accountable for our time and lives – please don’t get me wrong. I am just saying that the way we talk to ourselves comes out in the way we talk to others.
So if this is you, My Valentine’s wish for you is that you will begin to speak more kindly to yourself. Respect your promise AND your pitfalls. Dedicate yourself to being proud of your differences and the things you have overcome. Make a list of all the things you are thankful for. Please say some nice things to yourselves. You are so precious, each of you. You are valuable, and irreplaceable. There is no one like you. Just as you are, standing there today, you are beautiful – each in your own distinct way.
“E” is for EMBRACING THE LOVE INSIDE YOURSELF
Do you know that you have a lot to offer? There is a fountain in you of good, of hope, of faith, of life. Many people don’t see themselves this way, but it is true. The Bible says “Guard your heart for out of it comes the wellspring of life”. You are a WELLSPRING! Inside you is an abundance of peace, joy, and hopefulness. Part of the key of experiencing all of that is found in giving it away! “You get what you give” is often something I have heard said.
Love is to be given away. This Valentines, I wish you the gift of giving. The joy of blessing others with the goodness inside you. You may surprise yourself. Get ready.
From the bottom of my heart, to yours,
Stacie Martin, Founder Single Parent Advocate