I was in the drugstore yesterday to pick up a couple items and was surprised to see the Valentine's displays - I forgot the "romantic holiday" is already less than a month away! My forgetfulness is probably about 80% intentional, to be honest. Valentine's Day is historically one of the worst days of the year for me. I've been cheated on, dumped, ignored, you name it, almost every Valentine's since I can remember. The only Valentine's gifts I ever receive are from my parents, which is super sweet but at 30 years old will just be kinda sad this year.
Over the course of the past couple years, though, I've been learning so much more about love that I think I have an idea for how to make this year's Valentine's one that I actually enjoy and remember fondly. I know we still have a few weeks, but it's never too early to love. Rather than worrying about receiving someone else's expressions of love, this year I'm going to focus on self-love instead.
The past few years I have slowly been building an aura of self-love for myself. I'm not as consistent with it as I'd like to be, but every day I dedicate myself just a little bit more to loving myself for who I am and in my current life situation. So what constitutes self-love? How can a person build their own self-love rituals and grow in themself? Well, I'm here to share some of the things that have worked best for me in my journey.
Take care of your appearance. I was horrible about this for a long time, because I misunderstood what "taking care of your appearance" actually meant. Makeup is basically public enemy number one in my world, and I equated a nice appearance with piles of makeup caked all over my face. Not so, eh! Finding the right products for my hair, learning a little about how to make my hair do things I like, starting (and sticking to) a face cleaning and moisturizing routine... All these things have come together over the years to give me increased self confidence and a pride in my appearance that I didn't have for many years. There are still opportunities for improvement, but I'll get there when I'm ready.
Wear what makes you feel good. My mother hates this, but I wear what I like, and only if I feel comfortable in it. This means I rarely follow the "style trends" (whatever that means) and often look a little different than the people around me. But you know what? When I pull on an outfit that I like, it doesn't make one lick of difference to me what other people think about it. I've learned that I'm dressing for myself, not for the people around me. I try to keep the level of professionalism or fanciness appropriate to where I'm going, but within those guidelines, my outfit is guaranteed to be 100% ME, all the time. It makes me feel good, stay comfortable, and most times my clothes actually make me smile - so I'm wearing them. Deal with it, mom. (PS, I love you, even when you tell me I look weird.)
Surround yourself with the people who make your world better. The communities you join or build for yourself can make a HUGE difference in how much you love yourself, because the people surrounding you have the power to build you up or tear you down (if you let them). Why fight against people who are trying to tear you down? That's a waste of time and energy that can be spent loving yourself and making your world better. Seek out the people who support your dreams, goals, ambitions, and successes, and who are there for you when you have troubles or failures. If you can't find them locally, start a group, or look to the internet. Joining some of the blogger and fitness groups I am a part of was one of the best steps forward I've taken in my life, as I now know where to turn when I need a smile or inspiration. We all work together as a community to keep self-love abundant in ourselves and in each other.
Do the things that make you smile. Growing up, my parents let me explore any activity I wanted, with few exceptions. I tried a bit of everything: music lessons, sports, horseback riding, gymnastics, art classes, swimming, acting - there wasn't much a kid could do that I didn't at least take a stab at! I settled on the things I truly enjoyed, practiced and worked hard, and learned as much as I could about what I was doing. As an adult, I still do many of those things, because those are the activities at which I excel, but also because I enjoy them. More recently, I've started doing things I used to think I hated - but am learning that I actually love! We change over time, and so do our interests. It's important to keep doing things you are good at if they make you happy, but if some of your hobbies are starting to feel old and tired, experiment with new things - and when you find something new you love, dive in!
Understand your spiritual side. Finding religion isn't necessarily the answer here - don't think for one moment I'm going to try to tell you who should be your savior or what you should believe! But the essence of spirituality is a foundation for all of your own personal beliefs, whether they involve a deity or not. For some, it's as simple as respecting the majesty of nature. For others, it's a connection with the inner self (hrm, sounds a little like self-love, dunnit?). What is important is what touches your soul and speaks to your heart. Embrace the energies within yourself that make you unique. I used to be excellent at this, years ago, but lost touch for a long time. With the help of more yoga practice, meditation, and rebuilding some sacred space in my home, I'm finally coming back to the spiritual being I used to be, and it feels amazing!
Valentine's Day doesn't have to be some trite and conventional day for giving or receiving chocolates. Challenge yourself this year to indulge in self-love over some generic expression of affection for someone else. But if you ARE in love with someone, show them! Show them every day, in the special little ways only they will understand and appreciate, the ways that show them how much you understand their heart. You don't always need gifts to show you love someone, but when you do take the time to give that special someone a gift, make sure it speaks to them. For example, I'd much rather have a new pair of crazy leggings than a dozen red roses - know what your lover truly appreciates.
And while I'm suggesting alternative Valentine's gifts, I'd like to give another shout-out to my favorite mindfulness company, Sapphire Soul! This year for their February subscription box, Sapphire Soul is putting a delightful twist on Valentine's presents: instead of a box of chocolates, subscribers will receive a box of crystals instead! This is such an adorably perfect gift for the yogi or spiritualist in your life. Plus, right now new subscribers can use promo code GARNET to receive an additional garnet stone with any February order! You can opt to receive just one month of Sapphire Soul to get the February crystal box, or you can sign up for a recurring subscription - a gift that keeps on giving!
How do you celebrate your loved ones? How do you ensure you keep self-love in your life?