As Valentine's Day approaches, with hearts and flowers already blooming in stores, I often wonder how a day for children became an industry that consumes adults. What does the Valentine's Day frenzy really mean? It means that on at least one day a year we want to feel loved. "The need for love lies at the very foundation of human existence," says Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Our Need for Love - His Holiness the Dalai Lama - Heal Your Life.

Here are some love thoughts.

Tip 1: Turn the day into a children’s charity day

The tradition of Valentine’s Day cards and gifts dates back to the 1500′s, when young people in France and England gathered around a box in the village square to draw the name of their sweethearts for the year.

Remember those lace doily Valentine’s Day boxes our mothers made for our classes? In grade school, at the end of the day we all tallied up the number of cards we had received.

Let this be a day when children’s organizations can tally up checks. From groups that help children and families with medical disorders to those supporting homeless children – there is a need. From organizations dedicated to improving children’s health to those fostering children’s creativity – a Valentine’s Day check will be a welcome surprise.

Tip 2: Whether or not you have a partner in your life, be grateful

Think of someone special and between now and February 14 start writing out love expressions on cards. Then rather than becoming one of the billion or so who will be buying and exchanging cards created by the industry, put your cards into a love mug. And let that be your gift to one person.

Or send notes with one thought, unique to each, to many friends.

How can you do this? Take the time to observe someone you care about and note the little things that he or she does to make your life more peaceful. On each card write “I am so grateful for the times we laugh together.” Or, “I am so grateful that you change the light bulbs for me.” 

Some random thoughts: I am grateful that you brew coffee in the morning, fill up the gas tank, change diapers, offer to sit with me at doctor appointments. Just express gratitude for simple gestures that make your life a little less stressful.

Tip 3: Stop waiting for the right person and become the right person

I smile whenever I think of Dr. Leo Buscaglia on stage waving his arms in full Italian style reminding us that if we are waiting for the right person, we will wait forever. "There is no right person. We become the right person!" Leo Buscaglia Quotes.

How do we become the right person? Magical thinking. The wonderful world of childhood is limitless. Children see no obstacles. Their wishes are dreams that they believe will come true. Psychoanalyst Selma H. Fraiberg called growing-up time for children “The Magic Years.”

We can help make the magic. What I miss about being a child is my belief in Santa Claus. So I'm reinventing myself as the Valentine Fairy Godmother. I will sprinkle fairy dust in the air so that each of us can think about loving, forgiving, and giving in a new way — unconditionally.  

Tip 4: Embrace forgiveness

Forgive your love mistakes of the past and move forward with a renewed sense of dignity and conviction. Even forgive infidelity so you can move on. The inability to forgive may be the single greatest barrier to love. This Cherokee tale perhaps best depicts the struggle between love and anger.

wise Cherokee, teaching his grandchild about about life tells this story:

"A fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is angerenvy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

"The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathygenerosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

"The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person too."

When his grandchild asks: "Which wolf will win?"

The wise Cherokee simply replies: "The one that you feed."Tale of Two Wolves - Nanticoke Indian Association

Have you read these articles?

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Thomas Kaufman for Les Cartes de Belleville.

 Copyright 2014 Rita Watson


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