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The secret to a great solo valentine's day

We've made it past Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's and have entered the "holiday home stretch" to Valentine's Day, which is quickly approaching. Are you ready...or are you fretting? Let's talk about how to make it a great one, even without a lover.

For the single woman, Valentine's Day can stir up all kinds of angst. Society bombards us with messages of what "love" looks like and how partners "should or would" show their love if we had one. Let me just say this about that: bullshit.

Those commercials where a piece of diamond jewelry is given in some romantic setting to say "I love you" might be nice and it certainly doesn't hurt if you're into that kind of thing. But let me tell you—getting something special on Valentine's Day doesn't make or break the quality of a person or a partnership.

So let me share a little secret about valentine's day: there are a lot of jerks out there who give their partners jewelry or whatever on Valentine's Day, and there are a lot of relationships that won't be saved by it. So get that marketing fantasy out of your head.

Let's get real instead. Smart marketing campaigns make it hard for us to remember that our capacity to love others in a genuine way starts with our capacity to love ourselves in a genuine way. Valentine's Day is a day like any other for letting the people we truly care about know we love them, starting with ourselves. I hope you do that in some way every day, and not with presents but with your presence.

Got anyone special in your life? A dear friend? A parent? A relative? A colleague or coworker? A neighbor? Great! How can you let them know you appreciate them today? Don't wait for V-Day; there's no need. Show them now and show them frequently. V-Day becomes obsolete when you do, just another day of sharing your love.

If you feel alone, remind yourself you're not by joining a group activity or just getting out in the world to have some fun. Take a walk in nature. Sit by a river. Let the Sun warm your face and feel true gratitude just for being alive. You'll see plenty of other people out there, doing what they love just because they love it.

Or treat yourself to something special. Book a "spa day" for yourself, get a mani and/or a pedi, have some champagne, buy yourself flowers, chocolate, a sexy nightie, or anything else that makes you feel special and loved just because you are and you can.

Even better: write yourself a love letter to honor all the wonderfully unique things about you. Or write a letter of support to the part of you that's experiencing the most emotional upset around the breakup. Let her know you've got this, that you're healing, that she is held and loved, and that as you open your heart to genuine self-love and acceptance, your future opens up to wonderful things you never imagined possible.

Maybe take yourself out on a date to do things you really love. That might be seeing a movie you're interested in, going to a museum, getting a ticket for a show, or just having a special meal at a favorite restaurant. Maybe it's taking a trip to see something new or to revisit one of your favorite places. Maybe it's drawing a bubble bath with wine, candles and your favorite book or music. It doesn't have to be something big, just special to you.

Consider that there are many places to connect with people in loving ways. For example, make a point to share the love you carry inside with those around you. Smile at the tired store clerk or postal person and let them know how grateful you are for their service. Adopt a pet or do something really special for the one you have. Help out at a food pantry. Volunteer with your church. Deliver food to someone who needs it. Do something nice for a neighbor. Visit a friend. We are never alone, and sharing love fills us with more love too.

So as Valentine's Day approaches, instead of moping around wishing you were the woman in the sappy commercial specifically designed to sell something, focus on turning every day into a great day to share your love with yourself, the people in your life, and in the world around you. We'll all be better off for it.

Remember: if you change nothing, nothing changes.

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