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Being My Own Valentine.

This year, as in most years, I am my own Valentine…

My heart is crooked. It isn’t pink, or red, or trimmed with lace like the boxes of cheap candy you see everywhere this time of year. Mine is all different colors, and lays a little bit off to the side like a dog’s cocked head when they look at you as if to ask a question. It was shaped by human hands, with love, and care, and imperfection. I bought it for myself as a Valentine’s Day present.

This isn’t a mopey “I hate Valentine’s Day” story. It isn’t a “Ten Steps to a Happy Valentine’s Day for Singles” story either. It’s just a little peek into the ways I’ve chosen to love myself in the last few days.

I’ve been writing. Inspired by a self-help book, I started writing a manual for my future someday partner titled “How to Romance Me.” On that list are things like “bring music into my life” and, “understand that sometimes I need to write things down in order to think” and, “give me inexpensive, thoughtful gifts… if you give me gifts at all.”

And, “tell me, when you see beauty and uniqueness in the natural world that makes you think of me.” That one is inspired by true events. It has really happened, once or twice.

When I closed the cover on the thirty-item list, the thought occurred to me… why wait for someone else to romance me? Why not give myself those gifts, regularly? I inadvertently wrote a “How to Romance Myself” manual.

Since then, I’ve been bringing music into my own life. I’ve been going to live shows. I’ve been giving myself the gift of a fully charged iPod when I wake up each morning, and I’ve sat in the car at the end of my too-short-for-once commute just to listen to the last words of a song–even if it’s a song with the lyric “so hot we’ll melt your Popsicle” instead of something more highbrow. I find myself repeatedly drawn to non-practicing musicians. After a recent short-lived fling with a practicing one, I realized perhaps I should learn how to play music myself instead of repeatedly placing myself in the presence of players. Now, I am inviting the universe to help me decide between a guitar and a mandolin for my next fling.

I’ve been giving myself thoughtful, inexpensive gifts. In addition to giving myself the gift of my crooked little heart, I bought myself a pendant that reads “I am here to live aloud.” Because I am. And I do. And on the rare occasion that I need to be reminded of that, this does the trick. I’m going to treat myself to a mug with a crooked heart on it, to remind me every day when I savor the simple pleasure of my coffee or wisdom of my tea, that even when I don’t have a partner to move through the world with, my life is full of love.

I’ve been moving my body in ways that remind me how lucky I am to have it. I’m a climber, but I’ve been on the sofa since last fall. Last weekend I enjoyed a blissful day under the winter sun out at an unexpectedly warm, unusually quiet crag, gazing out over the Columbia River valley. I was with one of my best friends and her little dog, and while I don’t really put much stock in the existence of “perfection,” that day challenged my non-belief. It was one of the most beautiful days I can remember. Today, after spending last night bouldering with dear friends, my skin is raw, my knuckles wounded, my muscles stretched and tight. Whether alone or with partners, climbing reminds me of some of the parts of myself that I love the most. It lets me feel my own strength, and marvel at the intensity of my own potential energy.

(Photo: Dustin Butcher)

I’ve been spending time with my most loving female friends, and with the men who help me maintain my belief in the potential goodness of the opposite sex. Tonight is movie night and comfort food with my sister and a couple of the other women who have become sisters to me. I am blessed to have some man friends who call me “darlin’.” Even though you are not mine, when you call me “darlin’,” or “beautiful,” or “sunshine,” it renews my faith that good men are out there and that someday, perhaps, I will find one for myself.

If I can find a restorative yoga class, that’s where I’ll be for the evening of Valentine’s Day proper. I will wear a favorite sweater, as a reminder that I am capable of keeping myself warm.

And maybe someday I won’t be solo for Valentine’s Day. Or maybe Valentine’s Day is just a chance for me to remember that–whether alone or with someone else–I am capable of being my own true love.

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steve Feb 15, 2011 11:57am

Really beautiful. and thought provoking writing Sara!

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Sara Lingafelter

Sara Lingafelter is a writer, climber and chronic optimist based in Seattle, WA. By day, she works in social media in the outdoor industry. In her free time, she’s the girl behind RockClimberGirl.com and Two Egg Breakfast and recently launched a new project with Teresa Bruffey called Solo In Tandem to call bullshit on the prevailing notion in sports and outdoor that only extreme athleticism is inspirational. For more information, visit saralingafelter.com or connect with Sara via @theclimbergirl on Twitter.