I think what set me off were the clamshell containers of fresh rose petals at Whole Foods. Displayed next to shelves packed with champagne and raspberries, whipped cream and brie cheese. Not far from racks and racks of cards with red envelopes and foiled, gem-encrusted hearts. And displays of chocolate specifically for melting propped alongside baskets of giant strawberries. I could feel myself getting panicky. My over-active brain was frantically checking the boxes – that’s romantic, that’s romantic, that’s romantic, that’s romantic!!
My body was not really involved while my brain enthusiastically encouraged me, “Get all the things!”
Had I been at Wal-Mart instead, I would have encountered aisles crammed floor to ceiling with stuffed bears, cheap candy and Mylar balloons, and a similar desperate voice in my head noting that all of this was sweet and romantic, and such a bargain!
Instead, I stopped and pondered: What is it about Valentine’s Day?
So many messages encouraging you to prove your love with something you purchase. Lots and lots of pressure to do something really romantic and super special.
I remember the time I was handed a “Valentine’s Day Checklist” at my local grocery store. As if it wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day unless I purchased cookies, cupcakes, flowers, bubbly, balloons, cards, stuffed animals and more.
Look, I’m not opposed to delicious cheese, scrumptious chocolate and fragrant flowers. And there are berries and champagne in our fridge right now.
But all the “stuff” can get in the way of what we’re really seeking to feel when we find ourselves filling our carts with red, white and pink.
So here’s a simpler, kinder, Valentine’s Day checklist. Try it whether you have a sweetheart or not. And enjoy the day your way!
1. Slow down to savor. Whether it’s a special meal, one piece of chocolate, a walk in snowy woods alone, or cuddling under the covers together, go slow. Use every sense to drench yourself in the present moment. Breathe and wake up. How lucky to be alive!
2. Keep it simple. Pick one or two things you most want. Enjoy those deeply and fully. Relax about the rest – you don’t need all of it.
3. Seek what you prefer. This day belongs to you, not Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or a million ads and displays. What do you really want? Time alone? Curling up with a book? Pancakes? A bath? A quiet dinner? Pink cocktails? It doesn’t need to appeal to anyone but you.
4. Focus on love. Love is not about stuff. It’s not about bling, money, jewelry, bears, candles, roses or anything else the stores with big displays and ads want you to believe. It’s about being deeply and truly present. It’s about connection. Whether you have a sweetheart or are on your own, you can choose connection on Valentine’s Day. Open your heart. Let love flow forth like a beam of golden light. Connect with other humans, with the sky and clouds, with trees and animals, with stars and the moon. Love is abundantly available to you in a million ways, to be given and received. And no red envelopes or velvet boxes are required.
I have a sweetheart. I have no idea what we are doing tomorrow. We will decide as we go. We will genuinely see how each of us feels. We might pack a cooler of treats and walk up to the parades, we might stay home all day and cocoon-- we might do some of both. We might light candles, drink champagne and eat raspberries. We might make a fire or fix French toast. We might work on projects around the house.
Here’s what I know for sure: We are in love. It requires no proof. The greatest gift I can offer is to be awake, present, and undistracted. To see him. And love him.
And if I suddenly need some rose petals, I know where to find them!