“When you understand how to love one thing, then you also understand how best to love everything.” ~ Novalis
February 14th: single people dread it.
Even the strongest among us still feel a twinge when we’re surrounded by so many couples celebrating (or at least feigning to celebrate) their undying love and devotion. Of course, what we are less likely to hear is that the request for divorce lawyers increases by nearly 40% starting February 15th.
Let’s face it, beneath the strains of that glorious symphony is the titanic sound of relationships cracking under pressure. Sometimes Cupid gets it wrong and we’re left digging out chunks of arrow from places we’d rather not talk about.
Of course, romance isn’t dead. Neither is love. It’s just our definitions get a little fuzzy in the arms of all those teddy bears pushing heart-shaped sentiment. Meaning gets buried beneath a shower of diamonds, rose petals and a mound of chocolate truffles, or lost in the shuffle of greeting cards filled with words that never make it into action.
But hey, no one’s buying us candy and flowers anyway, so we could spend the day feeling bad, then reading a lot of, “It’s okay to be single” posts that try to be soothing but barely manage to rise above the level of self-pitying, or we could explore these five ways of redefining our concept of devotion.
That way we can fall more deeply in love with the one person who really knows how to please us best.
1. Start an inspiration jar.
Decorate an ordinary mason jar and fill it with inspirational notes meant to encourage and support us in our awesomeness. Basically, this is everything that makes us say Yes to life and our current place in it. Here’s one to get us started: Every choice brings me closer to knowing my own heart.
Supplement the inspiration with “permissions”—notes to self, granting us the right to do something we want.
“No work. Just play.”
“Read a book.”
“Eat a cookie.”
“24-hr Get out of Worry Free Card.”
2. Design a “Today Board”.
Unlike a “Vision Board”, which is a collage of images we gather in order to focus our attention on what we want for our future, the “Today Board” is a collage of images meant to gather our focus on the things we love in our life right now.
Why concentrate on all the things we don’t have but want?
We know what they are. We probably think of those things every day of our lives.
What we are less likely to think of are those things we already have, which are really pretty wonderful.
One of the best gifts we can give to ourselves is the ability to truly see the moment—to be a witness to our lives, as they stand right now. Get out construction paper, grab photos from our actual life, or create a Pinterest board filled with images that represent the things happening right now that make us thrilled to be who we are: alive, breathing in our own skin.
This is a pictorial love letter to the moment.
3. Make a mix-tape.
Music can soothe, inspire, uplift and empower. Why not take this opportunity to create a music playlist to explore how we want to feel? If we normally listen to nothing but the saddest of sad music, which makes us think of our ex and the curse of everything wretched and despairing forever and ever amen, now would be the time to change things up a bit.
Think of it as the soundtrack we would play if we were in a movie, right at the scene where we pull ourselves out of our funk, change out of our bathrobe, throw away the empty pizza boxes and power through some obstacles.
This is our “Rocky running up the stairs”, “I am totally amazing, right on” and kick-ass moment.
This is our anthem.
4. Take a self-love selfie.
When I was in my 20s, I cried to my then-best friend about how much I disliked my body. I couldn’t find anything about it to love.
I believed that being a woman meant having a very specific, curvy shape, which I did not possess. He told me to stop. Get naked. Look in the mirror (or take a picture), and then, get a piece of paper and draw what I saw.
The goal was to change the way I viewed myself by focusing on the shapes that were actually there—to see my body through the eyes of an artist. There’s no need to have any special artistic ability to do this—and no, it’s not enough just to take a naked selfie.
Putting our artistic eye to work enables us to see a mass of shapes, colors and forms rather than an object we already expect to see. When I drew myself, for the first time I had a sense of how everything fit together, how everything curved and flowed.
I noticed how amazing the human body is—what a beautiful work of art, in all its shapes.
5. Pay attention to dinner.
I once spent a great deal of energy trying to make the man I loved the perfect quesadilla. There was no part of the process that did not include careful attention and intention.
I can also tell you with absolute certainty that no meal I’ve ever made for myself included that much concern.
Happening all around us are frantic attempts to plan the perfect meal; place setting; candlelight; soft music; no distractions—just two people, staring into each other’s eyes (or wishing they were staring into just about anything else). Why not join them? (Minus the frantic and eye-staring bits.)
Single or not, we still have to eat—and we can still cook dinner for someone we absolutely adore, someone who is always there for us, does amazing things, is super sexy, and who doesn’t get that faraway look in their eyes when we’re talking about our Star Wars bobble-head collection.
Yes, that person is us.
This will not be a microwave dinner, which we devour straight from a plastic container in front of the latest episode of How I Met Your Mother. Put out our best dishes, turn on beautiful music and enjoy eating. This dinner is about awareness of the care we would so easily extend to someone we love, but rarely to ourselves.
This is the gift of good food, beauty, but most of all—our attention and intention. Being with ourselves without distraction, without running away from the quiet. We are exactly where we are meant to be. There aren’t any other stories we have to tell about this moment.
We are right here with ourselves and that’s just fine.
If Valentine’s Day has become a day when we’re meant to celebrate love (via liberal applications of our wallets to products intended to embody what cannot be packaged and sold), then we should also celebrate the fact that it’s not about what someone else can give to us or do for us—ever.
It is not whether we are in love or out of love. We are love. That is our natural state of being—on February 14th and every other day of the year. Embrace it.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Assistant Editor: Bronwyn Petry/Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: Pinterest, via elephant media archives