Love Lessons: Turning Valentine's Day Around
Valentine’s Day is, of course, the best holiday if you are in love and the worst if you are not. Which is why I dreaded writing this blog at first. I am not in love at this particular moment (unless you count my new laptop), so I didn’t know what to write about.
Then, in the middle of penning a thank you card to my writing coach for helping me with some difficult work, it hit me. Why not make Valentine’s Day about expressing love and gratitude to the people we generally don’t take the time to gush over?
My Love Fest 2012 began with the purchase of a thirty-pack of Valentine’s Day cards. I wanted to start with writing a card to my brother, but couldn’t find the words, so I wrote one to my spinning teacher instead. Maybe that sounds ridiculous, but it isn’t. My teacher, Jeff Wells, has such a beautiful energy about him; he has a wait list sometimes twenty deep. This is no exaggeration.
Jeff plays a lot of Rihanna (which I greatly appreciate), yells a few encouraging words, and then walks around and pats his loyal spinners on the back. He dances around and sings a little too, but I think it’s mainly the patting and high fives that keep people coming back.
And so I wrote, “Dear Jeff, Thank you for making me want to come to spinning and for making me smile every time I’m around you. Your spirit and encouragement are wonderful, and I lost ten pounds over the last few months, I think because of you.”
I addressed the next card to my boss (I teach). I know a lot of us hate our bosses, but I don’t. This woman actually supports me and could quite possibly be the kindest manager I have ever worked for. She says things like, “You are so valuable to this department.” Working in television news for a decade, I got used to being told, “You are a dime a dozen. There are a hundred people dying to take your position.”
I just wanted to tell my boss how much she means, so mushy card #2 read, “Dear Jan, Thank you for all the opportunity you have given me at the Academy of Art. You always remind me that I matter, and I can not tell you how much that means to me.”
I wrote cards to my gardener (he’s good), these exchange students I taught that brought me beautiful earrings back from China, my co-worker who always has my back, Maria Shriver, my friends who got me a red velvet cake on my birthday, and family members of course, with the exception of my brother. He had to be last.
I sat still, pen in hand over my brother’s card. He and are the least mushy with each other, and I am being honest when I say the card to the gardener was a lot easier to write. But I needed to tell my brother how much he matters, so card #28 read,
“Dear Ryan, I am writing to tell you that you mean a lot in my life. I know that you and I suffered after Dad died, and it took us a while to find our paths again, but we did. I am so proud of all you’ve accomplished. Your wife and baby are beautiful reflections of everything you ever wanted, and my heart explodes thinking about it. You made me feel better the other day when I called you crying about all my goofy problems at that particular moment. You told me that I am strong, and I always kick ass in the long run. In a way, you reminded me of Dad, and I appreciated your guidance. I just wanted to tell you that I value our relationship, and I love you.”
In my thirty-six years, I have never written a card like that to my brother. I am so glad though that he will know how I feel, if he doesn’t already.
What Love Fest 2012 taught me:
Life is short- We don’t know how much time we have on this earth. It is important to not only tell the people who matter that you appreciate them, but show them as well.
No one is excluded from Love Fest 2012- Send a letter to the lady who does your nails, or better yet the one who watches your kids. What have you got to lose? Odds are you will certainly make her day.
Send a card to yourself- While you thank everyone else for his or her specialness, pay close attention to your own. Pat yourself on the back for the good you do, and challenge yourself to do even more good this year.
I encourage you to turn Valentine's Day around and have your own Love Fest this year. Who would you thank?
Michelle Kennedy is a writer and lecturer in the Multimedia Communications Department at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She lives in Santa Monica and commutes to San Francisco once a week.