It starts in Elementary school. Do you remember? I do. My mom taking me to the store to pick out Snoopy valentines, or my favorite, at the time, Strawberry Shortcake! Then on Valentine’s day passing popping these precious cards into brown paper bags. Then at the end of the day peering into my bag to see all the bright papers. This is when the story of valentine’s started for me- a popularity contest. Through Junior High and High School it faded away, some. Then in college it started again. I watched the parade of flowers and chocolates delivered to the dorm desk or waiting in the lobby watching guys pick up girls to go out on their Valentine’s day dates. Today, this continues at work. Next to Executive Assistant’s day, I bet Valentine’s day is the busiest day for our security desk. It’s quite a sight!
Like many, I have mixed feelings about Valentine’s day and the celebration of “love”. This year is different. This is the first time in my life that I know what it means to be in a relationship, to love. I understand the care it takes, the joy it provides, and what it asks of me. In relationship and love, I’ve learned “Relationships are people growing machines.”
What I’ve been contemplating this Valentine’s week is not, what is love? But, what does love ask of me? Me- an only child and independent. Me- only in one other serious relationship which barely made it to one year. Me- shy and introverted knowing that there is a separate world in my imagination and heart that I struggle to share with others.
What does love ask of me? This is what I’d share with you.
- It asks me to see, with my heart and not my head, the impact I have on those I love. To take responsibility and decide if that’s who I want to be and the impact I want to have.
- It asks me to share my dreams, my feelings, my fears and all the beauty I hide.
- It asks me to take a risk to be seen, or not.
- It asks me to be myself, and sometimes hurt the other even though it means staying true to me.
- It asks me to forgive, to understand, to have gratitude, and compassion.
- It asks me to grow and stretch.
- It asks me to love myself, to care for myself, to make myself happy.
- It asks me to connect and to reach out, even when every cell of my being wants to hide.
- It asks me to look at the parts of me that aren’t so beautiful and graceful.
- It asks of me intimacy and vulnerability.
On this Valentine’s day, I am just starting to realize, like the first sprouting of a seed in the spring, what depth of love is possible. To not just know in my head, but in my heart that I choose to be loved. I accept love. I give love. I can find love, when I look for it beyond the obvious definition. Yes, romantic love has been a blessing but the biggest blessing is how it’s opened my eyes to love for myself, for others, and for all the things I love. The gift of love is the beauty and the tenderness it has added to my entire life.
And on those days when I’m not loved the way I want or I don’t feel loving, I hope to remember it all starts with me and really, maybe what need is a Snoopy Valentine.
What does love ask of you? of each of us?
P.S. I dedicate this to Luke. Thank you for showing me love beyond the obvious definition. I see your love for me in the notes you leave around my house, the patience you have for my quirky ways, the way you accept me and allow me to make mistakes and grow, the times you let me cry, and the support I see in your face when I’m the most vulnerable and scared. Happy Valentine’s Day! My hope is our love continues to give you a base to grow from so you can expand in abundance, love, success and joy and inspire more love in this world.