6in Japan Red with Cabbage

I believe there is a wellspring of love available for us all. Love is not finite, though somehow it can feel scarce when it comes to loving ourselves. How much does the critic in our head speak up louder and faster than the voice of self-acceptance and self-love.…I can’t go out looking like this…I can’t afford this…I never know what to say…Oh my God, why do I bother … versus …I am giving myself some extra time today to do this task…I am not going to do everything on my list, and I am ok with that….I am picking up some flowers for myself…I am going to pick up the phone and call my friend across the country) .

So this weekend of February 14th, I encourage us to spread the love first to ourselves. I believe self-acceptance and self-connection are at the heart of healthy relationships. When we know how to love ourselves with self-care, self-respect, kindness, and consideration, we bring that into our relationships with others.

Our inner critic is quick to jump in and say that self-love is arrogant or selfish. I have a good rule of distinction for myself between being selfish and self-love. Being selfish is tending to yourself at the expense of others. Self-love is tending to yourself through mindful self-care that will positively ripple out to others. Your nourished heart and body will be reflected in your words and in your actions.

When we don’t get enough sleep or put the right foods in our body, or take care of our need for restoration and recreation, we become cranky. That word brings back a memory from my college years of babysitting. I must have shared with the kids that they are less irritable when they have had their naps. One day the four-year old, Danielle, grabs my hand and walks me to her bedroom. On the way to her room, much to my surprise, she says, “You need a nap. You can use my bed. You are really cranky!” She got my attention. I was being impatient and short. I hadn’t slept enough the night before. And she called me on it.

We can be mindful on this culturally charged Valentines weekend. Check your expectations. See if you can drop some. Soften up a bit. Let life flow versus setting yourself up for what marketing tells you romance looks like, or what not having any romance says about you. If you are single, or if you are not single, love yourself.

You know what makes you smile: a favorite cup of tea in your preferred cup, or glass of wine with that book you haven’t gotten to yet, or the same movie that you love no matter how many times you have seen it, or go for the long walk, or a pedicure after your long walk. Wherever you are, add aromatic scents, change up the lighting, turn on the music that gets you up and moving, or gets you relaxed and soothed. Do something joyful for your soul this week. Do the self-care. Spread the love. Watch the ripple effects.