This lovely day is one of my favorites. I do not have stock in greeting cards or in fresh-cut flowers or in diamonds or chocolate, thank goodness. I love this day like I did when I was eight, looking forward to construction paper confections from my classmates. I look forward to the day that celebrates love, even if lately the commercialism is disheartening. It’s a bright day of hearts and love and candy and awkwardness and even romance. It’s also a day that brings scorn and disappointment, but I am a half-full kind of girl.
There are no prospects of romantic love, at least that I can see in the forecast for my heart, but that is okay. I love my life as it is, and know that it is best to be thankful for what I have, instead of building hopes upon something that is not there. I spent the day in the frenzied company of fifth graders. There was a collective sugar high and aura of young love amongst those ten and eleven-year-olds. How fragile and strong those young hearts are!
This is how I am spending Valentine’s Day.
1. Taking time to tell people I care about them. It does not have to be an expensive floral display of affection. Today it is smiling at the gas station attendant, giving an extra tip to my favorite coffee person, and letting someone cut in line. Later tonight I am going home to construction paper, glue, scissors, and markers. I am making valentines for those I love, miss, and treasure. Sure it would be great if they had received them today, but I like the idea that I am making them and sending them out on the day of love, so they will receive them on an ordinary Wednesday or Saturday.
2. Faking it until I am making it. Today was a rough day of teaching. I could blame it on the holiday and the fact that all those funny fifth graders were looking forward to classroom parties and the long weekend. While that might have had something to do with it, a lot of it was me. I just did not have my groove. Some days sail by in the euphoria of knowing that I get to use my talents and gifts at work. Today, I felt neither gifted nor talented, but I smiled and faked it. Pretty soon, the day got better. I never used to believe that if you talked with a smile on your face, it would change your mood, but it really does. I faked at being a good teacher. I pretended to be excited. After a while, I could not tell what was fake and what was real. Maybe that is the point. I learn more from the days that are difficult and muddling, and today was one full of learning. Sometimes, it is good to have one of these days for perspective. It helps to be shaken out of the cobwebs, to really listen and pay attention.
3. Meeting deadlines and goals (even if it is by the skin of my teeth). Today was the deadline for my town library’s anthology of local writing. Last year, I was excited to have an essay published in the volume. It was a boost to my confidence and quite thrilling to find my name and writing in a real book. The year before, I submitted an essay which was not selected; that year, I celebrated meeting the deadline. This year, I had plans to submit several pieces (possibly hedging my bets with five submissions, in the hopes that one will be picked). The submission process is not complicated, but writing must be submitted in person on CD (or thumb drive) with an accompanying paper form. Somehow, I figured the library would have plenty of copies of the form on the last day, as the brochure holder has been stuffed full each week when I visit the library. I screeched into the library ten minutes before it was time to close, heart pounding when I discovered they no longer had any forms. The library attendant found the library director to see if she had any extras. The library director sweetly scooted me into her office and made copies of the form, waiting patiently as I scribbled my name, address, and titles, so I could submit each piece. I could not thank her profusely enough. I left the library at 5:06, more in love with librarians and libraries than ever before. I submitted two essays, two short stories, and a poem. I am proud for following through and trying. I breathe a sigh of relief that I made it. Someday, I will stay late and long for someone who needs a favor from a stranger.
4. Finding refuge in silence and solitude. After what feels like a long and crazy day, I need to recharge and refresh. I had an invitation to join my dad, stepmom, and sister for dinner, but declined. I am celebrating anonymously and alone with a special cup of coffee in a spot of the world that does not seem to care that it is the day of romance. Some might find that rude and selfish. Perhaps, I am. However, I also know that I am not good company tonight. I am a very devout introvert with a job that requires me to be a devoted extrovert, teaching all day. The only way I can keep up with this wonderful job I love is to spend time alone, so I can replenish my soul and energy. Tonight, I am a bit irritable and edgy and need time alone to become myself again. I will make a special dinner next week and invite my jilted, sweet valentines over for a celebration of February. In past years, I would have gone to the dinner, bringing along my exhaustion and exasperation. Now, I know better. My next step (a big growth is needed here) is to accept the invitation and to delight in the love and company, no matter my mood, and to provide the same delight, love, and company for others. This sometime curmudgeon has much to learn and much room to grow.
Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope this finds your heart healthy and your spirit thriving. Find love, however small, for something, someone, some cause, and celebrate it.