February, the month of L.O.V.E. Romantic photos, red roses, chocolates, trying desperately to get a table at a decent restaurant before they're all booked out, making sure that your other half is happy with whatever effort you've made, and that somehow it reflects how you feel about them...
Roll back the years & I can remember being at boarding school and DESPERATELY hoping that something would be delivered in the post so I wouldn't be sat there at breakfast with nothing to open. I envied the girls who had big piles of cards, and that girl who walked through the dining room with a huge bunch of flowers - that was the ultimate thing to aim for. Those of us with nothing to open would console each other, make jokes and half-heartedly laugh it all off. Oh, but those couple of times when I DID get something, I felt on top of the world.
WHY? Because as an insecure teenager the validation that I was worth thinking about on that day, that someone out there liked me, well that was everything. And it continued for a few years after school too. I remember the joy I felt the year I got a card from someone I was dating... and then a bouquet of flowers so large it swamped the kitchen in my flat, from an old flame. Oh, my self-esteem was flying high that day!
As the years have rolled on and I've grown in self-confidence my love affair with Valentine's Day has diminished. It's not what someone buys me that shows how they feel about me but what they do every day, how they show up on the tough days, and how they keep showing up even when I'm being a royal pain in the ass (thank you lovely hubby). It's about making an effort consistently. Are love notes nice? Yes. Is it wonderful to get flowers? Yes. But it's far nicer to get them for no reason at all than because a clever marketing strategy makes us feel obliged to show our love.
And, one of the best things about being over 40? I require other people's validation, acceptance and approval far less than ever before. Which means that when I do get a gift, it becomes just that, a lovely gift. Nothing else. It's not attached to my self-worth. It isn't a statement about my relationship. It's simply a thoughtful gift. My wish for all of us this week is that we can keep letting go of the desire to be validated or reassured by others, and find it within ourselves instead.
I hope that you can love yourself enough...
to truly see your own beauty
to embrace your age and own yourself for who you are
to know how strong and full of wisdom you are, and be brave enough to share that with others
to be kind to yourself as well as others
to trust your intuition and follow your own path, without worrying about what others think
to forget the past, let go of mistakes, forgive yourself and others, and focus on creating a beautiful present and future
to know that how you age really is up to you, and to do what you need to make sure the next 40 years are as good as they can possibly be
Loving ourselves is the best foundation possible for a life well lived. In fact it is the key ingredient to loving your life after forty. For me, Valentine's Day is now a personal reminder to check in with my own self-care and self-love - am I doing enough for my health and wellbeing? Where can I make changes? What can I do to take even better care of myself? I journal, I take a long bath, I recheck my boundaries, my routines and I commit to making any changes necessary. And, sometimes I invest in something to help create an even better life for myself - in the past I've committed to new courses, a personal trainer, and this year I'm treating myself to a series of private yoga sessions. It's so important that we stop looking outside of ourselves for acceptance or approval, and instead give it to ourselves. What can you do to love yourself more?