I love an adorable Cupid reaching into his quiver for an arrow as much as the next person, but in these tumultuous and divided times, we need a call to action for everyone to put on their St. Valentine pants and Cupid capes and fill their quivers with love arrows. As the song says, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love,” and not just for some, for everyone.
If you are feeling like your quiver is a little light on arrows, I get it. Valentine’s Day can touch old wounds. Whether you are in a couple and feeling the pressure to express your love in the right way, or you are single and trying to squeeze yourself into the Valentine landscape, or if your heart is aching from a past breakup or divorce, we can feel strained on this highly commercialized holiday.
So, how can we transform this day so that everyone falls asleep on the night of February 14th feeling a little better able to love or be loved?
What if we each made it our business to fill up our own quivers with love arrows, so that we could swiftly and easily send love to people we knew could use it? Here are five ways we can start:
1. Love Letter Revolution – I was recently inspired by an article about Jen Kramer, who took on the goal of writing one love letter to someone for 365 days. Sometimes she wrote to family, sometimes new friends, sometimes old friends, and often she wrote a love letter to complete strangers. Can’t you just feel the butterfly effect of Jen’s love letters when you think about it? When our hearts are touched by something so precious as an impromptu expression of love, we can’t help but be more loving with the next person we meet, our newly softened heart bumping up against another and making them feel more loved as a result. Let’s all follow Jen’s lead!
2. Acknowledgments Galore – My dad was a champion of acknowledging people, and he never missed an opportunity to acknowledge not only things I did but also who I was. He taught me well. Then I met my friend Maureen when I was only fourteen years old. She, too, has acknowledgement down to an art. Due to these influences, I picked up on this habit from a young age, yet I often miss opportunities where I could have acknowledged someone. What if we set a goal to acknowledge three people on Valentine’s Day? Even the tiniest recognition can be so powerful: “I like the way you…”, “You know what you always do that I love…”, “You know what I love about you that I always forget to say…”
3. Send an Actual Valentine – Did you know they make really cool and unique Valentine’s now? Let’s give Canada Post some business on February 14th. Speaking of which, I live down a particularly long driveway with a tricky turnaround, so I’m going to give my letter carrier this Valentine note: “Thank you for helping all my precious letters–love and otherwise–and packages get to me! Thank you for managing the long and winding road in and out of my driveway. Thank you for always having a smile on your face and acting like it is your greatest joy to deliver things to my door. You rock! Happy Valentine’s Day!” It will do my heart good, and his.
4. How Do I Love Thee? – This one may fill up your quiver so you have more to give. Write yourself a love note. List everything that you can think of that you love about yourself. Write for as long as you can. Do you like your toes? Your eyelashes? The way you light up when your kid walks into the room? The way you care for your friends and pets? When you are done, put it in an envelope and mail it to yourself!
5. New Valentine’s Day Tradition – Is there somewhere you have always wanted to volunteer? Is there a homeless shelter nearby to whom you’ve been meaning to donate? What if Valentine’s Day became a yearly day of reaching out to give love in some way to people who could really use it? I started the Love Scarf Project about fifteen years ago. We take hand-knitted scarves and hats to the patients battling cancer at City of Hope. And if their loved ones are with them and can’t get out to shop, we give them something to give as a gift too. I have done this project as a single person and as someone in a relationship, and in both cases it’s always the highlight of my day.
Can you ever have too much love? It’s the most important nutrient we can imbibe. In fact, the Latin word valens from which Valentine is derived means nutritious, strong, powerful, healthy.
Let’s put that Cupidian quiver on our own backs starting this year, and fill it with as many arrows as possible so we are good and ready to make this world a healthier, more love-filled place. The more we can feed each other’s hearts with these nutrients, the better this world will be.
Bridget Fonger is a long-time health, lifestyle, and relationship writer, having authored a regular column for Huffington Post and blogs at superherooflove.blogspot.