“Later that day I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.” - Carrie Brashaw
Last year, Juniper and I started celebrating Valentine's day with a little 'love yourself' ritual. It was a really beautiful and memorable moment. And I have a sneaking feeling that these love yourself rituals that we will continue to share will become permanently etched into my soul. My hope is that she experiences the same consequence.
My intention in creating this for her was/is to counteract the subliminal social message that she will internalize for years to come - that Valentine's day is a day to celebrate romantic love. I don't want her to grow into young womanhood with the idea that she needs to have a Valentine (read: romantic relationship) in order to be happy on that day. I want her to know that regardless of relationship status, that she is loved by her family, her friends and most importantly, by herself.
Some of you will think I'm anti-romance. I'm not. I like romance. I like kissing, and making out, and getting flowers and chocolate... but over the years I've learned that the most important love that one can hold, is the love of self (less in a narcissistic way, and much more in a healthy way). If you can love (and respect) yourself first, all other loves will fall in order.
This year, Juniper and I are adding a new element to our ritual. Inspired by my gal, Amanda De Cadenet's The Conversation "Flip February", we're incorporating the power of the selfie. #loveselfie
On a somewhat similar note, as I was helping Juniper craft the valentines that she wanted to give to her schoolmates, I noticed her doing something that I remember doing when I was a young girl. I don't remember doing it as young as 5, but I guess the cliche "kids are growing up faster these days" might superficially explain things.
She was judging.
I found her telling me that so-and-so was not going to get a sparkly heart decoration because she's not their friend. Or because they had "green snot coming out [their] nose all the time and [they] never did anything to make it better."
I don't think it was mean-hearted at all. Just an outward manifestation of her true feelings. I mean, it's only natural to be drawn to, like, and be friends with some people, more than and/or not others. So I told her that it's okay that she felt that way. But that every one - EVERY ONE - has something special about them - something to love. And that Valentine's day was a day to celebrate love. So as we continued to decorate the valentines the way she wanted, we also listed the one (or more) things about her classmates that she likes.
It turns out the one kid she's not friends with, likes to dance. And although Juniper and this kid don't really hang out, Juniper likes that this kid likes to dance just like her. And that kid with the green snot? That kid is fun.
So I guess the Valentine's 'love yourself' ritual has organically grown to not only focus on loving ourselves authentically, in the moment. But to also challenge us to reflect on how we love all the people in our lives.