I think, therefore I create: designing our paradigm of love
Whether you have a significant other or not, I hope you have hundreds of reasons to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I know Saint Valentine is associated with courtly love, but even if you don't have a special someone to have and to hold, trust that we have the capacity to create flowing, golden love in every area of our lives.
This Valentine’s Day will be the sweet 13th that I share with my great Valentine as his wife. I’m so incredibly grateful for the love of my husband and children and can’t imagine life without their hugs and kisses. But, I’ve definitely had some years when Cupid was nowhere in sight. My husband and I take this day pretty lightly—just as a lovely little reminder for us to carve out a bit of time in our busy multi-tasking lives to treat each other extra romantically and also to do something special with the kids. In Mallorca, our family tradition is to admire the pink and white blossoms on some of the six or seven million almond trees around the island. It’s such a breathtaking treat for the heart. I swoon just seeing these blossoms, so who needs red roses? (Not my favorite flower anyway...I'm a pink peony kinda girl.)
I know Valentine’s Day is not always flowers and candy hearts for everyone. Hoards of desperate male shoppers on February 13th looking for last minute roses, chocolate, and lingerie (it's said to be a $20 Billion industry in the US alone)—compounded by singles opting to stay in on February 14 rather than be seen in public without a date—have sealed this day's reputation as one of the most stressful events of the year. Where’s the celebration of love in that?
For my younger-single-self, being "single" was okay most of the time, but (probably like millions of other young women), certain holidays or events made me feel lonely and pathetic. Being single on New Year’s Eve almost always meant that I’d be "alone" on February 14th—or too early in a new relationship to even consider having a Valentine. This self-inflicted state of not feeling loved on key holidays also caused me way too much anxiety about growing old—old, alone, and unloved.
I wish my younger-single-self had understood the power of the boomerang effect of love. Rather than sit at home feeling sorry for myself listening to Roxy Music's most melancholic love songs on Valentine’s Day, I could have spent that time with my great friends or even with strangers who needed some loving attention, such as the elderly, the homeless, or children in the hospital. (I did eventually start volunteering weekly at a children’s hospital which really helped me shift my perspective on so many things in life: courage, determination, hope, healing, gratitude…) The best way to invite love into our lives is to create and spread the love—everywhere and wherever and to whomever we can. This is the boomerang of love. This is LOVE KARMA.
I also wish my younger-single-self had understood the power of perception. I was dooming myself to being old, alone, and unloved. I think there are a lot of young women out there—even smart, seemingly self-assured women—who put some measure of their success in their relationship status. When we view ourselves as unloveable, we are creating an energy field that is less than lovable. When we view ourselves as incomplete without a relationship, we are living a less than whole life—we are not living whole-heartedly. When we view ourselves as old, we are reinforcing this notion to our cells.
When we view ourselves positively and as a Being of constant renewing energy, our mind’s eye sees this and our cells will reflect this radiant positivity and renew themselves with vitality rather than slow down with sluggish negativity. While we don't know what the future holds, we can do our best to live a vital life up until our last breath.
We can learn to shift our paradigm from the self-deprecating critiques of getting old or fat or unloved, or whatever it is that we think defines us, to a loving paradigm that honors that we are an ever-changing and ever-renewing Being of universal energy. 5,000 years of yogic wisdom notwithstanding, there are countless personal stories and expanding scientific research to back up that we have the power to create what we visualize. This works both positively and negatively—and it starts at the thought level. We can learn to rewire how we think and perceive the world around us. We can learn to control how we respond to what happens to us. Thinking and living a healthy and youthfully minded existence can go a long way to how we biologically age. I think that’s what has been classically called “aging gracefully” (or does that mean genetically lucky to age well without surgically tampering with degeneration?). Anyway. . . what I'm proposing, based on yogic wisdom, is the notion of agelessness, because while our bodies may be changing every decade (slowly for some, quickly for others), we are more than our body. We are our mind’s creation.
For me, it’s always been difficult to redesign this awareness, but I’ve been consciously working for years on rewiring how I perceive myself. I’ve been working on nurturing a more loving relationship to my physical body rather than criticizing it for not measuring up to social standards. This doesn’t mean I’ve stopped caring about fashion or beauty—I love these fun things in life too! But, it has taken me a lot of effort (and I'm still working on it) to undo years of habitual negative self-thinking. Now, I eat life-affirming food, workout, and meditate because I LOVE my body and myself, not because I hate it and its parts.
I regard this self-loving perception as the most fundamental key to allowing the years to pass—agelessly and full of love—at any life stage, no matter the circumstance. My widowed mother is such a constant example for me. We all thought she could never live on her own after my father died, but she cherishes her late husband so dearly and yet still takes care of herself and tries to live a full and joyful life . . ."until they meet again one day" she says. She is truly the most amazing woman I know—for so many reasons! And, for my mother and father, who were separated temporarily by death, I give you these words (it's Valentine's Day and room for two Rumi quotes, right?):
Happy Valentines Day to everyone! Love and light, Juli