TODAY OF ALL DAYS

 

Today in the United States we celebrate Valentine’s Day. One of the more polarizing holidays. There are two very distinct camps of people when it comes to this holiday. There are those who consider it a ‘Hallmark holiday’. “We should celebrate love all year, why do we need a special day for it?” While I agree with celebrating love everyday, the rest of that thought makes as much sense as not celebrating birthdays because you are alive every day.

Then there are those like myself, who take this opportunity to celebrate the love they appreciate each and every day. I do not think it is a day I must purchase extravagant gifts or go out for an expensive dinners. Today ask yourself this one vital question. What is the best way to celebrate love? This does not generally bring to mind flowers or chocolates. There are many ways I celebrate love. I won’t give you all my secrets, but I will share two important ones. 

The woman in the picture above is Margie, the love of my life. As you can see, I am beyond blessed to have what I feel is the most beautiful woman in the world. I work hard to be the best man I can be for her on days that end in ‘Y’. Taking one day out of the year to celebrate my good fortune at having not only a very lovely lady, but an amazing relationship seems like a no-brainer to me. While I enjoy surprising Margie with all kinds of goodies on this and every other day, to me that is not the best way to celebrate love.

The first way in which I celebrate love is by developing an attitude of gratitude. You may remember me telling you how gratitude can transform your life quicker than any other thing I know. If it is that powerful for your life in general, imagine how well it would work if you focused it on a certain area of your life, like your relationship perhaps? The difference is like feeling the warm sun on your skin, to focusing it through the lens of a magnifying glass.

Today I focus on the many things Margie gives me to be grateful for. On top of the pride of having such a stunning woman at my side, she keeps our love fresh and full of surprises. Take the other morning for example. Margie had discovered she could balance a broom on its bristles. You can only imagine the effect a broom standing up by itself in the middle of the room can have on a person half asleep at 4am leaving for work. There are other such surprises involving cats and coat hangers, movie theater garbage cans, and a million other things. She just sees me shake my head or raise my eyebrow, but I am really loving the fact that life is never dull with her. She also introduces me to many new things. I recall the first time she informed me I would be eating pork steak with cinnamon and cilantro. My eyebrow must have been on top of my head. Now it is one of the meals I like the most.

The second thing I like to do on Valentine’s Day is think of myself. Think of yourself when you have such a beautiful woman? What am I crazy? Seond question first – maybe just a little. Yes, I do think of myself. I think of my performance as the man in her life this past year. I ask myself what I did good. What mistakes did I make? What can I learn from both? It what ways can I learn more about her and how to love her better? Just like a yearly job performance, you should give yourself a yearly relationship performance. If you are really brave you can get together with your boss (your spouse) and ask them ways that you can add more value to the relationship in the coming year. Be open and eager to learn new and improved ways to strengthen and deepen your love for each other. Having a committed spouse who is looking for ways they can better themselves so that your relationship can improve is one of the best gifts you can give.

Today spend time really listening to the one you love. Do activities you both enjoy and think about all of the reasons you have to be grateful and ways you can improve. Next year, you will have even more reasons to celebrate.

DO YOUR BEST NOT TO

This month is generally a month of love. It includes the holiday of Valentines Day. You can see hearts almost everywhere you look. I am going to ask we do our best to love all of our fellow human beings. (and dogs, bears, monkeys…etc) Do your best this weekend to be free of judgement.

This may sound easy at first. Two days without judging anyone? It is harder than it may seem. Some of our judgements are so ingrained in us we may be unaware we are even doing them. We see and senior and assume they are frail. We may see a person with blue hair, or a mohawk, and assume they are a rebellious rule breaker.

Some judgements may come from social conditioning. We see a person who is overweight and assume they are lazy or do not have any physical stamina. Maybe we have been taught certain beliefs about those of a certain race or religion? How about those of a certain political affiliation? Those who live in a particular area? All of these beliefs are actually judgements.

Some judgments we may feel we have a right to hold. A fellow driver cuts you off, passes you illegally and speed off into the horizon. This person is a rude, dangerous and unsafe individual right? Maybe they are someone who is rushing to the bedside of someone they love who is passing away? Maybe they just have to poop?  Someone snaps at you at the grocery store? They are just rude and impatient? Maybe they just lost their job or had a disagreement with their spouse?

The truth is we really never know what everyone’s story may be. Even the people we know to be mean or insensitive can be so for reasons we may never know. They could have been abused growing up. They could be plagued by feelings of inadequacy and doubt. Most actions we consider mean or rude are veiled cries for help. That certainly does not excuse or justify their behavior, but it may give us pause before we judge.

This weekend, let us do our best to remember everyone has a story including us. Everyone has something they are judged by, including us. Let us do our small part to remove a little bit of judgement from the world starting today.

IT IS LEARNED

Every time I witness racism my first thought is, “You have to be kidding me!” In this day and age of social media, the internet and people living closer than ever, if you can’t see there is good in bad in every group of people, the problem is with you, not them.

The funny thing about racism, or any prejudice for that matter, is you are the one who ends up losing. Can you imagine never trying any Italian food because you once had a bad slice of pizza? To put it in a language Margie can understand, can you imagine never eating Mexican food because you had one bad taco?

This is not a rant or some political or social post. It is a touching story that Margie and I witnessed on Valentine’s day. It showed us an example of a pure and innocent kind of love.

While enjoying our special Valentine’s day dinner, Margie pointed out a cute baby she saw. I nodded and continued eating which is why I look like I am expecting a baby. This baby belonged you a young African American couple.

Only a few minutes later a Caucasian toddler about 2 or 3 who was sitting across the aisle from this couple with her grandparents, climbed down from her chair and walked over to the young couple and held out her little stuffed Pepa pig toy for the young baby.

This little girl not only was sweet enough to think this baby may enjoy her toy, but was blind to the fact they were different in any way. It was a touching reminder we are born with pure hearts and love for each other.

DEAR VALENTINE, I LOVE YOUR…

Today we celebrate Valentine’s day. It is, traditionally, a day to express love to that special someone in your life. As anyone who reads this website would know, I advocate doing so everyday of the year, but it is nice to have a day that is dedicated to love. Some of you may dismiss this as a ‘Hallmark holiday’, and if you only express love once a year and make this day all about buying cards and gifts, then I suppose you are correct.
To me, however, having a day set aside to remember love is a great thing in this busy world. To that end, we are going to discuss one of the greatest gifts you can give your Valentine, or anyone for that matter. You can give this gift not only today, but each and every day you want to spread love. That gift is a genuine and sincere compliment. It is my opinion the best compliments involve something the person truly did. This is where a lot of my gender goes wrong. Telling a lady she has beautiful eyes, or a nice smile is great, but they have little control over those with the exception of how often they show that amazing smile.
Now, if you were to compliment your lady on how well the outfit she picked out for your special evening looks, or what a great job she does applying her make-up, that is something she did. It was her effort and skill that made it possible. It also shows the thought you put in and the fact you appreciate her. Thus, it is almost as if you are giving her several gifts all at once.

Speaking of appreciation, that is the next great place to go for expressing a genuine compliment. Above is a picture of my valentine, my lovely Margie. There are so many amazing things she does that make me love her that no Valentine’s day would be complete without letting her know they do not go unappreciated. In addition to telling her some of those tonight, I am going to share a few here with you. She works very hard. Not only does this allow us to have a house in which we can love, but it gives me a woman I can be very proud of. On the other side of the coin, she is silly. I cannot tell you the times she will send me silly pictures, or I come home to find the silliest things going on. I often just shake my head and say to myself “That is my baby.” Recently, she told me she thought I did not really appreciate that about her. What a wake up call. Those pictures, those silly memories keep a smile on my face each and every day as my co-workers at the Postal Service can attest to.

I urge you today to begin a practice of slowing down, noticing and appreciating out loud to your partner the things they do to make your life special. This not only holds true with romantic partners, but friends, family and others we love. There is no greater gift than to feel appreciated for who you are and what you do.

Let us not treat this as a Hallmark holiday, but a reminder to refresh our practices of love that we share in our life. Love is one of the few gifts that can be as good for the sender as well as the receiver. Take today to think of more ways you can express love. Start with the two we mentioned here and feel free to share your ideas with our readers in the comments below.

MY FAVORITE GIFT

Every year I have 2 interesting challenges, my mother’s birthday is February 13th, the day before Valentine’s day. The love of my life, my beautiful Margie, seen in the picture celebrates her birthday on today, December 15th. Which, if you are keeping score at home is a mere 10 days before Christmas.

I used to quip that December and February were my poorest months. That may seem true for obvious reasons. In reflection they are actually 2 of my richest months. How can that be? Allow me to explain.

It took the love of this beautiful woman to remind me that the greatest gifts are people and not things. While I would love to give this woman the world, but budget is somewhere closer to a plastic globe.

By celebrating her birthday today (as with my mother 2 months later) I realize I am celebrating the greatest gift I ever received, this beautiful woman sharing her life with me.

As Christmas comes around it is a good reminder how no material item, no matter how expensive or even how thoughtful would be more valuable than the life and love I have with my Margie.

I would love to say happy birthday to you my love. No matter what gift I can come up with, I will still feel like the one who is getting the best present. Today we are celebrating the birth of the woman who brings so much joy into my life. I love you baby.

SHHH….

Today is valentine’s day. Some call it a hallmark holiday and in many ways I do suppose it is. Much like Christmas,Easter and several other holidays the true meaning makes way for commercial interests. Just like the aforementioned holidays, we do not have to fall victim to this mentality and can focus on the meaning behind the day. 

In the case of today it is love. The cynical may say it is foolish and you should love everyday. This is one time I may be inclined to partially agree with the cynic. While it is true you should celebrate love each and every day (and I am sure that those of you that know my lady Margie and I realize we do) but having a day specifically set aside to remind us of the important role love plays in all of our lives can be very healthy. 

Above is a picture of the couple my lady and I are going to spend the evening with,  our friends Heidi and Bret. This couple, like all couples, have had their share of challenges. Still here they are back, and dare I say, better than they were a year ago. 

What is their secret to love? Well as we all know love is a very complex subject that has filled countless books and inspired even more movies and songs. To say there is one key to love would be selling ourselves short. 

However, because this is a blog and we should be brief i am going to share a secret Heidi and Bret, Margie and myself and countless other couples use to grow their love. Not in a relationship? That’s fine this one thing can unlock the secrets to capturing the heart of anyone you are interested in. 

These are all big claims but can all be achieved by doing one simple thing – listening. Before you dismiss this idea let’s take a look. The kind of listening I am talking about involves listening to learn. 

Let’s take a look at disagreements. When passions run high we can all too often listen just to contradict what our partner is saying. Come on, we have all done it. I know I have. Have you ever found yourself in this situation, you are arguing so intensely and for so long you actually forget what the argument is about? Even worse have you been in a disagreement only to discover you and the other party were totally disagreeing about two different things? These are all things that can happen when we don’t listen to understand what is upsetting our partner. 

When we actively listen which includes asking questions such as “what is truly upsetting you?” And “what can I do to make it better?” can shorten the duration and lessen the intensity of any disagreement. It will also show your partner you can and want to find a solution and not just who is to blame. 

Let’s not be all doom and gloom here. Listening has a very fun and exciting side. Don’t you wish you could always give the one you love the perfect gift or situation to light up their heart regardless of the funds you have available? Listening to the rescue! When I shop with Margie I listen closely  (ok most of the time). This has allowed me to learn what her favorite flowers are, what meat she likes the best, her taste in fashion. Even the conversations we have while doing the simplest things have given me clues as to what she likes and also what she dislikes. By paying attention and taking mental notes it has kept me in the first category. 

So this valentine’s day give your spouse the gift of truly listening to them. It can not only be a great gift for them  (who doesn’t enjoy really being heard and feeling important) and you (they will tell you lots of secrets if you pay attention) but also a great gift for your relationship (it will give you opportunities to grow love and limit upsets). 

*the author would also like to note listening will work in any relationship, friend coworker and clients.