Celebrate Valentine’s Day by Spreading Love Around

Love really is all you need, if you think about it as she does

“Love,” sang The Fab Four, “is all you need.” The Beatles were not wrong, but whether we’re talking about romantic love or the larger force for good, some elaboration is in order.

Though we turn our attention to love in February, love is worthy of celebration any month of the year. By choice, celebration is my default setting, even on those days when I must struggle to get there. My friend Denise caught on right away, and a few years ago presented me with a package of cocktail napkins that dictate this: “Until further notice, celebrate everything.“

“Everything” includes family members and friends, the FedEx driver expecting his first child, gingko leaves, double raisin bread from the neighborhood bakery, giant whales, live theater, silence in the morning, raucous laughter in the evening, baseball, orange tulips, waterways of all sizes and people with a passion for living.

Remind the oldest people in your life that they are not forgotten and their wisdom is valued.

Also the Golden Gate Bridge, the local hair stylist who tells everyone she loves them, pelicans, a glass of champagne festooned with a fresh raspberry, a friend’s five-month-old daughter, rainfall, turquoise-colored bed sheets, natural landforms of all sorts, poetry books, sunsets outfitted in coral and purple, the two dogs who work at the insurance agency on the corner and crashing waves at the shore.

What do you love?

With a nod to every songwriter, poet and greeting card author who has penned an homage to love, here are some thoughts on the subject from someone (me!) who celebrates love in its many forms:

Love Flourishes in Active Voice

Spend time — the greatest gift of love — with the youngest people in your life, whether they are related to you or not.

Pitch in, even when it’s inconvenient, if a friend is in need.

Remind the oldest people in your life that they are not forgotten and their wisdom is valued.

If you let time pass and someone you loved leaves before you made time to express your feelings, it’s not too late. When a man I know learned that an old girlfriend had died, he deeply regretted that he had never told her what a powerful influence she was in his life, even long after they had lost touch. Ben wrote the woman a letter, drove to the cemetery and read the letter aloud at her grave. This act of love comforted him.

Love Is a Sign of Self-acceptance

Self-care, whatever form it takes, affirms your worthiness and reinforces that making time to take care of yourself is time well spent. Book a massage. See a matinee. Go to the gym. Have a manicure. Read that book your friends are talking about. Drive to a nearby park and take a walk.

Other ways to express your love for yourself include taking a drawing class, signing up for a writing workshop or learning to throw pots. As Next Avenue readers already know, engaging with the arts as you age “can be a source of joy, vitality, and freedom for many older adults.” Say “Yes” to you, and learn something new.

Love Encourages Tolerance

Truly, there is nothing new under the sun, but somehow many of us continue to encounter lifestyles, situations and belief systems that are new to us. Before rushing to judgment, consider the words of Luna Lovegood in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. A witch and a magical naturalist, the charismatic Lovegood says, “Being different isn’t a bad thing. It means you’re brave enough to be yourself.”

As we make time to understand — and perhaps fully accept — others who are unlike us, we also may learn to let go of any rigid thinking regarding our own lives. “Once we’ve left behind the pressures of achievements and prestige in the business world, we can shift instead to a more internal level and make the choice to make changes in our lives,” says Leslie Davenport, a licensed therapist in private practice in northern California for over two decades. “That’s freeing.”

Love Is Protective

Caring about your city, your state and your country is noble, and helps explain the wisdom behind “If you see something, say something.” Caring also means stepping up, speaking out and staying involved in the voting booth, at school board meetings, in local party politics, in the state legislature and in Congress.

Simply put, love of country is patriotism, and true patriotism requires action to protect and defend our democracy.

Love Means Letting Go

After much time spent perfecting our parenting skills, suddenly we get to a point in our lives where we find ourselves unemployed. The poet Kahlil Gibran reminds us that though our children are with us, they do not belong to us. “They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself,” Gibran writes.

Or, as a friend once pointed out, “The hardest thing is understanding that your child is not you, and will make difference choices from yours.”

Love’s Memories Do Not Fade

To all the guys I’ve loved before, I’m glad they happened along. They also get credit for my secret smiles when memories arise of something beautiful that one said, something arousing that another did or something kind that was carried out by yet another.

A special thanks is due to those who held me when I cried. I remember, and that is love.

Love is all around — and that’s something to celebrate.

By Patricia Corrigan
Patricia Corrigan is a professional journalist, with decades of experience as a reporter and columnist at a metropolitan daily newspaper, and a book author. She now enjoys a lively freelance career, writing for numerous print and on-line publications. Read more from Patricia on her blog.

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