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How Do You Feel About Valentine’s Day?

Valentine's dayHere’s a great article from my friend and colleague Junie Swadron, Clinical Psychotherapist, OSP. I love it because it’s both  informative and heartfelt. 

How Do You Feel About Valentine’s Day? Do you celebrate it? Do you detest it, hoping the day will soon be over? Are you indifferent?

Well, indifferent, in favor or not, it’s here and Hallmark and consumerism have made Valentine’s Day into a Billion Dollar Day with cards, chocolates, flowers and jewelry for lovers across the world.

Yes, Valentine’s Day, no matter how it’s celebrated – isn’t lost for those in love. But what if you’re single, or widowed or divorced? Do you feel left out? Or what if you’re in a relationship but it’s not feeling particularly loving these days? Do you just wish this day would hurry up and pass?

And where did this tradition come from in the first place?

Well, the history of Valentine’s Day — and its patron saint — is shrouded in mystery. However, one legend that I like, goes like this – That sometime in the 3rd Century in Rome was a fierce and brutal emperor named Claudius the II. Claudius wanted to grow his army and he was having trouble getting married men to enlist. They were opposed to leaving their homes and going to war. Claudius, believed there was no room for sentimentally – he knew what it cost him in his personal life and on the battlefield. So he decided that single men would make better soldiers. So in keeping with his objective to have a prolific army of unattached, healthy young men, it only stands to reason that abolishing marriage would be the logical solution. So, he did.

He made a decree across the land forbidding men and women to enter into a marriage contract. Now smug and delighted with his seemingly brilliant solution, he went about building a large, fierce and obedient army.

Now, somewhere in the land, lived this kind and loving priest whose name of course, was, Valentine. Valentine believed in love, marriage, romance and holy blessed relationships. He saw Claudius’s law as preposterous and hideous and continued to marry couples in secret.

It’s not mentioned how long he managed to stay underground and do this, but one dark day, he was caught and thrown into prison and sentenced to death.

He seemed to take his fate fairly well, summoning up the love inside of him – knowing who he was – and pleased that he was able to use his life for what he truly believed in – and even helped to smuggle his newlyweds out of the country, where they’d be safe. And now, while in prison, waiting for the date of his execution, he received untold numbers of letters daily from people far and wide thanking him for believing in love and expressing their deep sorrow for his fate. Even one of the prison guards, obviously one with a gentle heart, allowed his daughter to come and visit with him regularly. Then it was told that on the day he was to die, which happened to be February 14th, of course, Valentine wrote a card thanking this young woman for her belief in love and for helping him to keep his own spirits up and then he signed it, “Love, from Your Valentine.”

Now, it’s understandable why we celebrate – over 2,000 years later, Valentine’s Day. It’s a tribute to continue to celebrate and honor the man who became a martyr and later a Saint – for his life and his message, which was to keep love alive. They may have killed the man, but they didn’t kill his spirit. And they never will, not just because the card and flower industries that support it wont let it die – that may be one reason – on the surface — but I choose to believe it’s because of the deepening meaning from whence it came — and that is – that love can never die.

How can it when it’s inherently who we are! When we strip down beyond the layers of doubt, suspicion and beyond the layers of sadness, depression or lack of this or lack of that – all names for F.E.A.R. – under it all, we have our true divine nature – our spiritual nature – and that, unquestionably is LOVE.

Valentine’s Day helped me move beyond those fear words and beliefs that my mind sometimes loves to play with – the part that judges how I’ve handled certain relationships and their outcomes and move instead into the gentler places of myself – to feel and express those ones inwardly and out loud. The loving part of me! The loving Junie.

I have to say, there have been many years I’ve spent Valentines Day with a loving partner. In some cases, my partner would poo-poo V-Day because he took the stand that love is to be expressed every day – not when Hallmark says so. Me – being the unrelenting romantic that I am, would derive so much joy filling their cup with home-made cards and bought ones and flowers and dinners and tons of affection – which of course, heightened our love even more. I’ve also been with men who are as romantic as me and it was an equal loving exchange. I’ve also been alone and miserable on V-Day or alone and feeling fabulous. I’ve experienced all of it.

Sharing what I’ve learned, I invite you to make Valentine’s Day 2013 – no matter where you stand about it – with or without a partner – an opportunity to turn up your love!

And here’s a great way to begin that! Write the most loving Valentine you can imagine. The kind that YOU would love to RECEIVE. And write it to YOUSELF
Kind of like this: Dear Junie (substitute your own name – unless you want to write me one too: ☺

Write a letter to yourself where You are your own best friend, your own best lover.
Then, when you’ve done that…think of all the people who you love…and send them a valentine – either in the mail, by email or energetically in your heart!

And to you my friend, may I be the first to say it, Happy Valentine’s Day!
I love you!

Junie Swadron
Author, International Speaker and Writing Coach

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