I sat at my desk in the Little Blue House in January, bracing for snow. Even still, February — the month of love — wasn’t far from my thoughts.
My outside faucets were covered. My batteries were charged. And we had kale in the fridge. (If you’re from Portland, you’ll understand. If you’re not, it will just confirm that Left Coasters are weird.) A wintery mess was on its way. It got chilly and blustery, to be sure, but I warmed myself with thoughts of Valentines Day. Of decadence and joy and appreciation for the special people in my life.
As a child, I remember cutting out pink and red hearts and pasting them onto bits of lace. I also remember the grade school agony of deciding which valentine to give to whom, so the boy you like didn’t find out, but the boy you didn’t like didn’t get any ideas. This, like most things when I was a kid, was terrifying.
The pressure of Valentine’s Day doesn’t magically dissipate when we’re older. But it carries on into adulthood in different ways.
It can be dizzying, this headspace we allow ourselves to get stuck in, a quagmire of self-doubt and sabotage. Old habits die hard.
- Will the date night I planned with my sweetest be romantic enough without being over the top?
- How about the Valentines I bought for my kids. Will they be original enough without making things awkward for them?
- Will the teacher gift I grabbed let them know how much I really appreciate them?
- Will that email I sent to my client be read the way I meant it?
- Will I ever not feel alone on Valentine’s Day?
You must remember that these negative habits took some time to build. New habits can be reborn, but you will need some patience. In prepping for this month of love, let’s do just that — let’s patiently build some new habits of love.
Let’s set ourselves up not just to give love, but to receive a month of love, too.
That’s right. As much as we go all out for the people we love, we should go all out for ourselves, as well. Not with the chocolate and dinner dates and special treats, necessarily. But with effusive love. With acceptance for where we are on our journey right now and the past that brought us here. With a flood of compliments and appreciation.
Plan ahead for your month of love.
Plan right now for the new habits you’ll be building. Just as there are triggers that bog us down, there can be triggers that buoy us back up in joy.
These are a few solutions that can help you get your feet back under you and your smile back into your heart.
1. Instead of seeing all your flaws when you look at yourself in the mirror today, and try a few of these:
2. Get outdoors
Oh how I love my yard. I’m not a green thumb and really don’t know what I’m doing out there when it comes to plants, but just a short walk around my front yard completely changes my frame of mind. If I can pull a weed or two and get my fingers in the dirt, all the better.
I often take a brisk walk through my neighborhood. Every time I’m out, I’m waving and saying hello and breathing deep of all the cypress, pine, and moss. I find it very grounding.
3. Have cup of coffee or tea
I make myself a cup of coffee every single morning. Grind the beans. Heat the water. Press the coffee. Steam the milk. It’s a ritual and has become a delightful habit. Then I sit on the couch with a blanket on my lap, talk to my dogs, and sip through the foam. Halfway into the cup, my son leaves for the bus. We hug. I tell him I love him. It’s an intentionally slow start to what is usually a very busy day.
In the afternoons when creativity lags or my brain won’t focus, I pause for a cup of tea. The same ritual. 10 minutes to sit and sip, deliberately not thinking about work.
4. Sit straight and quiet
Sometimes, all it takes is for me to sit straight and tall at my desk, plant my feet flatly on the floor, close my eyes, and drop my shoulders for a few breaths.
5. Practice 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Grounding
I can practice this method of grounding anywhere. (It’s a great practice to teach your kids as well.) Sit or stand quietly. Still your heart. Slow your breath and acknowledge:
- 5 things you can see.
- 4 things you can touch.
- 3 things you can hear.
- 2 things you smell.
- 1 thing you taste.
6. Clean something
My whole house is wall-to-wall wood floors. The previous owner zealously shellacked them so they shine like the noonday sun even at 1a. Most people can’t tell when they’re dirty. HUGE blessing! As long as no one looks too closely. They’d see the dust bunnies gathering for a reunion in any corner or crawling out from the closets.
But when I need to refocus, I grab the microfiber broom, the spray bottle filled with Thieves, and whirl from bookcase to bathroom, from under the couch and to behind the doors. The physical activity, the beautiful smell, and the knowledge that I’m making my house more homey… it makes magic in my heart.
7. Add some scents
I have oil diffusers in almost every room. The living area usually has fresh scents, like orange or purification. The bedroom has relaxing scents like fir, lavender, or Peace and Calming. And my home office is Believe, peppermint, or Abundance. Aromatherapy makes an impact here in the Little Blue House.
8. Make a list of fun weekend projects to tackle for the month of love
Coming off a busy week where I’ve given absolutely everything, I don’t have the brain power to remember the fun things I’d like to do. So I keep a running list. After I rest, I can simply pick something off the list and dive in. Here are a few I’ve added lately:
- Paint my bed frame.
- Practice needle felting.
- Learn to bake macaroons.
- Explore a new trail.
- Escape to the Coast.
9. Consciously choose to stop thinking about whatever is bothering me.
This works unless it’s something I’m avoiding. Then it’s just enabling. (I don’t know about you, but I’m sure good at justifying some things! Ouch. And justification surely doesn’t build my relationships or my business.)
There are times these mental conversations get so intense they slip out into the real world. That’s when I have to speak up to myself with something like, “No, I have chosen not to think about that so instead I’m going to _______. It really helps if you have something at-the-ready to fill in that blank.
Most of all, be gentle with yourself, sweet woman. Make space for the ups and downs, take it one step at a time, and have a few plans in place to get yourself back up on your feet. Even if it’s only to get enough strength to ask for help.