Valentine’s Day is both a sweet opportunity to celebrate ongoing romantic love, and a reminder of loves’ lost. As a relationship counsellor, I hold extra space this month for hearts pierced by cupid’s arrows. I pay particular attention to those who are grieving recent losses or anticipating painful endings. February can evoke the more tender aspects of our relationships with self and others. Strong emotions may arise, sometimes unexpectedly. When the feelings and physical sensations are lovingly witnessed, allowed expression, and made meaning of, growth and healing can occur.
In order to consistently hold loving space for myself and others, February has evolved for me, to a time for connecting more deeply with love itself. Love as a concept. Love as a feeling state. Love as a verb. Love as playful engagement with life. I reflect during these winter months on my words, my choices, my actions, and about small ways in which to inhabit the earth from a more loving place. I believe that Love expands consciousness and opens possibilities, and yet it is too easy in these troubled times to view the world from a place of fear.
Some simple ideas for making February a more loving month, no matter what your current circumstances:
Extend love to houseplants. Sing or play music while you water them. Tend to their needs. Maybe this one has outgrown its pot, or would benefit from being rotated towards the sun. Perhaps a little plant food is in order. Look upon them with love, and thank them for their silent gifts to you.
Write yourself a love letter. This past year has been tough. Take a moment to consider the ways you have grown, the sacrifices you have made, and the small kindnesses you have bestowed and received.
Embrace sensuality. Wear the clothes you love. Break fashion rules and mix shades of pink and red, silk and flannel, leather and lace; whatever you feel good in. Many of us are touch deprived these days. Wrap yourself in warmth and texture. Break out the fragrance you usually ration for special occasions.
Cook with love and abandon. Change your living space and the space in your head by creating meals with aromatic spices, choosing the right background music, and lighting candles. Pretend you are eating at your favourite cafe or restaurant.
Send Valentine greetings. To a romantic partner for sure, but why not to anyone you care for? Especially if they are feeling lonely or broken-hearted. The messages can be sentimental, silly or sarcastic. Love has many flavours of expression. No need to subscribe to the commercialism of the season. Make your own Valentine, or send a digital message or a short video. Often the most meaningful gift is your time and attention.
Clarify expectations. This may not be best the time for romantic partners to Define the Relationship. Wait until after Valentine’s Day for that conversation. But do talk and come to some mutual understanding ahead of time about the giving and receiving of gifts and shared activities. Your lover cannot read your mind, and may have different ideas from you about what turns them on and makes them feel appreciated.
Plan for difficult days. If you are freshly single and feeling jaded about romance, plan to do something meaningful rather than wishing Valentine’s Day away or being triggered by social media posts of champagne and roses.
Focus on family Family Day falls on the day after Valentine’s Day this year. Extend your love to those in your inner circle, whether they are related by blood or choice.
Take stock of your grudges and hurts. Perhaps this is the time to shed some light and love on past wounds and unfinished relationship business. Especially if they are getting in the way of fully connecting with love in its many forms.
Find an inspiring love story. Ask a happy older couple about how they met. Watch a touching movie. Write out your own love story, the one you are living or perhaps….the one you want.
How will you connect with Love this season?