Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays, because it is all about love; what it means, how it changes, and just how important it is in life.
Now, more than ever, our world could use an extra dose of love. A few years ago, who would’ve thought that our world would be struggling with a pandemic that has changed so many aspects of our lives. The one thing that hasn’t changed?
Even during these challenging times, stories of love lift us up. There is so much good out there. So much love.
I asked some special people in my life what love means to them. Their answers astounded me in simple and complex ways. They offered pure, authentic insights into their lives. The reflections they share are beautiful love lessons, and I want to share them with you.
Mary B. And Stukie are my parents. They have been married for over 60 years and know a thing or two about love.
Mary B. believes that the greatest love is family love. To her, this type of love is unconditional and filled with happiness, laughter, fun and support. Stukie believes "...love can be found when you look into your dog's big brown eyes and you see such kindness, loyalty and forgiveness. And your dog expects nothing in return but a hug."
They both express the same important sentiment. Unconditional love. Stukie relates it to his beloved pet, while Mary B. expresses it in terms of family. Isn't that the best kind of love? The kind that is given freely, without judgment? Love is a safe haven, where you know you will be accepted, supported and treated kindly.
For my sweet friend Frankie, love is all about belonging. "It is about belonging to the truth, belonging to yourself and belonging to every race on the planet. It is about belonging to your friends, your enemies and even those who see things differently from you. Love is about belonging to the earth. It is about belonging to your values and to what is right and wrong. It is about belonging to an open heart for change and for peace."
As human beings, we feel an innate desire to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Frankie expresses this love so beautifully.
My daughter’s friend Amy N. struggled to put her definition in terms of specific words, but noted that she could easily, readily describe the feelings. As an athlete and coach, Amy found love in sports. On the playing field she found both love and heartbreak. The most delightful, ecstatic images are of her fellow teammates huddled around each other, jumping in the air after winning the championship game. You can feel the love in a moment like this. In Amy’s experience, teammates become family and the love they share feels like family love.
Teammates work together to support each other along the way. They work side by side towards goals, lean on each other, and pick each other up when someone falls. That is love.
My nephew Scott P. shares that "love is when a someone feels like a home, when a something feels like a best friend. While it may appear to be selfless it is inherently self-realizing."
His imagery of a home is such a vivid picture of love. We all know the saying, “there’s no place like home”. When you find love, there is nothing else that makes you feel as secure and safe. Love is something you can count on, laugh with, and grow with, for many years.
My dear friend Denise M. shares that "...love can overcome hate and that those that act hatefully actually need love the most. The more you share, show, talk, act with love, the more powerful it becomes. Love can be hard and heartbreaking, but it can also prove to be worth it over time. The absence of love can be every bit as damaging as a plant without sun and water. Love is essential for proper development, growth and health and a lack of love can be worse than any disease or germ and can actually kill someone."
Denise expresses something that is so profound: that without love, we wither. Love is not just aspirational; it is foundational. It is the cornerstone on which we build our lives. Love makes us stronger, more resilient and complete.
For my daughter, who is an elementary school teacher, she experiences love as a playful thing that feels like hope, laughter and joy all wrapped in one. She believes that love is a magical force that adds energy and light to our daily lives. It allows us to remain true to ourselves in a safe, authentic way because it is inclusive and unconditional.
And for me,
I hold all of these definitions of love dear, yet I believe the most important form of love is self-love. From self-love sprouts all of the beautiful gifts of life. Love is the answer, but it holds all the questions. It is a dream, a goal, and a concept all in one.
Love is vulnerable and allows your vulnerabilities to show. It is looking inward to recognize your purpose and ignite your own passion. Love affirms, saying you are enough, just as you are – yet nudging you towards all you can be.
Love is evolving, growing, welcoming, accepting and most of all keeping your heart open.
While most people think that Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate romantic love, for me, it’s a day of reflection. I take the time to witness the gifts in life. I honor the peace, hope, joy and contentment that love brings into my life. I am grateful for the people I love and for those same people who love me right back.
Romantic love is just one slice of the true love that abounds in the world. Even when evil and darkness exist, love wins.
So, this Valentine's Day as well as each and every day, it is my wish for you to experience love with fresh eyes. Celebrate its beautiful forms you have swirling around you today and feel yourself wrapped in immeasurable love from those around you. And spread love, whenever and wherever you can. ❤️