tagHow ToI Challenge You All...

I Challenge You All...

byTara_Neale©

Valentine's Day can be a difficult holiday...especially if you are alone. Heck, unless you have a really sensitive partner, it can be crap even when you are with someone. Honestly, I have had one truly special Valentine's Day in my life...with my first ex-husband. He sent flowers to my work, had my mom watch the children while we went to a special dinner AND dancing at this restaurant with champagne and everything. Don't get too excited that was ONCE in fourteen years...at the end when he was trying to save the marriage. So basically...this is a day that is disappointing for most people.

Last year was the first time in four years that I had a partner. So although I did not have lots of money...or him either, I wanted to do something special. Now I am not much of a poet, but I can appreciate the beauty of them. One of my favorite poems is "How Do I Love Thee" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Like I said, I suck at writing poetry and there was no way I was going to butcher such a magnificent piece with my feeble attempts. But I did allow that poem to inspire me...one line says "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." So that is what I did. I wrote two-thousand words, seven pages extolling this man's good qualities. And he did have them.

The thing is that is how our minds work when we are in a relationship. We focus upon that person's good qualities and too often ignore those niggling things...until we cannot anymore. Yet for most of us, when we look in the mirror, whether that be a physical one as we step from the shower naked or the mirror of our mind/soul, we judge ourselves much harsher than we do anyone else. When we look at ourselves, we first see everything that is wrong with us...and none of the amazing stuff that makes us special.

So this year...when I am once more alone on Valentine's Day, I am not going to ignore this day, pretend it just does not exist. I am not going to bitch and complain about not having someone. I am going to focus upon doing what I have promised on my goals wall for this year..."learning to love myself, it is the greatest love of all." So this year, for Valentine's Day, I am giving myself that same present which I gave him last year...a love letter...How Do I Love **ME**. It will be just as long. Just as eloquent. And for the purposes of this exercise, I will ignore all those little niggling voices...just like I did with him.

I am going to look into the windows of my heart, mind and soul and focus upon everything that is so amazing about me. I am going to stand in front of the mirror in my bathroom...naked without any make-up and find positive things to say about my body. I am going to dress up and look in that mirror once again...and find even more positives to say about myself. I am going to celebrate me as no man ever has...or probably ever will. Because I honestly do believe that until you love yourself, no one else ever can/will.

I challenge you all...single, married, in a relationship, it don't matter...to join me on this exercise. It does not have to be two-thousand words the way mine will be. I choose that seemingly arbitrary number because I felt I deserved as much time and effort as I put into his last year. Just put pen to paper or fingers to key board. But take the time to focus for a bit on those things that make you uniquely you, make you special.

I know this won't be easy. We have been conditioned since birth to focus upon the negatives. "No, don't do that." "You can't sing/dance/draw." "You're stupid/fat/ugly." Most of us heard some of those things from the moment we hit the school yard. Way too many of us had already learned them...at home. And every friend, lover, job that we have had since has just added to the list of those negatives. I am telling you to not so politely tell them to "shut the 'f' up." And when they do try, you will have to force yourself back to the positives. Yeah, I know a big task. That is why I am assigning this *homework* so far in advance of Valentine's Day.

Remember this is not just about writing a list of your good qualities. Most of us have been forced to do that at some point in our lives...job interviews are horrid for that one. No, this is about tooting your own horn...that thing we have all been told was so wrong and dirty to do. Not this time...and never again. You are special and amazing and if you don't know that then how do you expect anyone else to? So after you have that list then you have to write a paragraph telling what is so special about that quality. So here is a sample from mine...

***

*I love how you take care of others.* Whether it is your children, your partners, your friends, the clients at the mental health day center where you used to cook, your elderly neighbors, or that poor lost child on the playground, you have this amazing gift for seeing what each one needs...be it a kind word, a cookie, or a kick in the pants. Most people cannot do even that...set themselves and their needs aside to look into the soul of others. But you take it even further, you take the time and put in the effort to give it to them...as much as you can anyways and way more than most people would. You are a light in the darkness of this world. Is it any wonder that people are attracted to you?

***

Now you see...do that sort of thing, give specific examples like I did with my former job as a chef at the mental health day center. And do that for **at least** a dozen of your best qualities...your mind, your soul and yes as hard as it may be...your physical body too.

If that ain't hard enough...post it. To whatever social networking site you use. Yes, let your friends...and enemies...see you tooting your own horn. And encourage them to do so too. This Valentine's Day, show how much you love and appreciate the most special and amazing person of all...**YOU!**

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