No matter your stance on whether Valentine's Day should be observed as a holiday, I hope we can all agree that a day dedicated to giving love is not a bad thing. Of course, no day should be devoid of giving love - if we could make every day as full of sentiment and intentional connections as we make today, that wouldn't be so terrible! - but alas, this chocolate- and flower-giving day comes but once a year.
What else can we take away from the intention behind February 14th? It's a good day for love of all kinds - specifically taking stock of just how love takes shape for us. Who do we respect? Who would we do anything for? Who, by virtue of just being, makes the world a better place? How can we show them an appreciation for what they bring to our lives?
It's nice to have a reminder to reflect on these different elements of love and to really enact some gratitude for just how nice it is to be loved - and to love. The great thing about love is that you don't need someone's permission to do it. You can give love to whomever you want (the co-worker you support through a tough time, the woman on the subway who looks like she could really use a seat, your postal carrier...) and everyone - including you - can reap the rewards of putting some beautiful energy out in the world. I like to think that love doesn't have to come in kisses and hugs, but that it can take the form of whatever you want: as long as you put your whole self into giving of yourself to someone else. Your words? Yup. An unexpected gift? Sure. Listening and understanding? Oui. Your time? Si. A random act of kindness? Of course. Get creative with how you put that loving energy out there -- the great thing is: you can tailor it for whoever you're directing it towards.
It's also a really good opportunity to extend some love to things we might otherwise neglect to think need love in quite the same way... like, say, our planet? I thought it was perfectly timely that Mayor Bloomberg announced his proposed ban on styrofoam today: talk about showing the planet a little of the good stuff. This step is absolutely necessary: there is no reason for a city with as many resources as NYC to continue to use pure trash (and in astronomical amounts - do you know how many New Yorkers eat out everyday?!) when there are reasonable and effective biodegradable, compostable, recyclable options available. The proposed ban makes my heart so happy: our little planet only has so much room left and it's not only disrespectful for us to try to fill that space with landfills, but it's harmful to us, our children, their children, and on and on and on. What a beautiful gesture of love for the planet (and for others' health and futures).
Who would have thought politics could provide another source of loving energy? It's everywhere - we just have to be receptive to seeing love in its many permutations. Things become a lot lighter when we can acknowledge that goodness in all its forms comes from a loving place. Someone created x-thing or did y-action with the intention of showing someone or something a little respect and admiration. Cool. This, I like.
It's come up in a few yoga classes for me this week, too, that self-love is a really powerful place to cultivate a larger sense of the emotion. That's not to say everyone should just be really self-involved and arrogant, but more that when we respect ourselves, honour our limitations, and actively pay attention to what we need (in the most basic of ways; not just what we want right this second), we develop an inner sense of appreciation for our inner being and where we are in the world: and only when we understand this can we give fully of our contented selves to others. I've found this terrifically motivating: be okay with me, and I can be extra-okay with others. It's feeling secure and supported from within that gives us the power to go out and do good things for others. So make good choices for you today. Make them everyday. Know you're supporting your inner self to go and make a difference to the people who matter most to you, to the animals, to the planet... and know that it will all come back to you. Guaranteed.
Much love for a happy Valentines Day - or Thursday - or February 14 - or whatever you want to call today. Create, cultivate, give, receive love.
(A little gift for you! Some yummy cruelty-free dessert recipes I recently shared on From the Ground Up Wellness' Facebook page. Make them with love for the planet and its non-human residents; give them with love to the special folks in your life; eat and enjoy them with love for you!)