I am equal parts cynic and hopeless romantic.
I am prone to swooning like a school girl, as well as questioning the intention of everything.
And I don’t particularly like Valentine’s Day.
Don’t get me wrong—I am all for sharing expressions of love with friends, family and lovers—but I’ve always hated the “manufactured holiday” feel that it has. The very idea of having one, single day on which we proclaim our love seems to set up expectations that are all too often dashed with despair and loneliness or the feeling of somehow falling miserably short.
A few years ago, I began to reinvent my Valentine’s Day.
I began to think of myself as my very own funny Valentine. I took time to notice the very “me-ness” of me and treated myself to whatever might delight my senses. Sometimes that translated to a big bouquet of spring tulips; other times it meant I excused myself from the mindless routine of everyday life and sat with myself bundled up by the water and watched the ferries cross. Being my own Valentine didn’t mean justifying buying more stuff any more than receiving stuff from your lover means that he or she loves you any more deeply.
In Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way she prescribes homework in order to live a more creative, vibrant life. The “Artist Date” is one of those assignments. Once a week or even once a month, take yourself (by yourself!) on a whimsical adventure that interests you. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. In fact, the cheaper and more simpler the better. Take yourself on a date and pay attention. Spend an hour or two of quality time with yourself.
As a writer and artist, the most valuable thing I can do to improve my craft is to pay attention. Drive down a road you have never traveled and pay attention. Sit in the arboretum or the forest and pay attention. Walk into an exquisite old stone church, sit in the pews and pay attention. Look up. Look around. What does it smell like? What do you hear? And how is it touching you?
Does the idea of this make you squirm?
I often equate a yoga practice to “coming home.” Coming home to yourself. Home can be beautiful and comforting. Home can also be messy and complicated. When we come home, it is tempting to ignore the dustballs under the sofa and the clutter on the counter. But the more we ignore, the bigger it becomes. Coming home to yourself as you are asks you to spend that quality time with the very “you-ness” of you, warts and all. The cobwebs, as well as the freshly vacuumed carpet.
If you don’t like what you see, stay open to the possibility of change. Perhaps what you see begins to delight you, in a uniquely “you” kind of way.
This morning I came downstairs and was greeted by a big vase of spring-like tulips sitting on the table. The Mister knows me well. There is a card which will undoubtedly express a sentiment of love and I will appreciate the time and effort and thought that he took to make me smile. There are cards and candy for everyone. It feels good, to be sure. With the tulips already gifted, I immediately wondered what I should choose as my Valentine’s celebration. I felt giddy just imagining the possibilities.
“Do more than just accept yourself, tolerate yourself, put up with yourself, endure who you are. Love yourself. Have you abandoned yourself? Let yourself feel if that’s true. Then learn to experience love for yourself. Learn to love the way you handle things. Love your unique way of learning, growing, and seeing things. Love where you’ve been. Love what you’ve done. Love where you are, and what you’re doing now. Love how you look, smell, and feel. Love the color of your eyes, the color of your hair, and the radiance in your heart. Love how you laugh. Love how you cry. Love your mistakes and all the good you’ve done. Love it all. Love all of you.” ~ Melody Beattie (from “Journey To The Heart”)
Take yourself on a Valentine’s date. Spend some quality time with yourself, by yourself. Love the very “you-ness” of you, your very own funny Valentine.
Tracie Jansen is a yoga teacher and writer in the Seattle area. She is completely comfortable with the term “Yoga Mutt” or “Yoga Rebel” when describing herself, seeing as she often feels like a square peg in the round hole of the yoga scene. Her intention is to bring yoga to those folks who think that all yoga teachers reside in the land of unicorns and rainbows and in the process, change their minds. She also likes to play all sorts of music loudly. Sometimes even in yoga class. Visit her webpage Meet On The Mat.
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Assistant Ed: Wendy Keslick