LeAnne Thomas, a single mom of two teenage boys, currently lives and works as an Office
Manager in Nashville, Tennessee. At present, she is completing her degree in psychology
and sociology. Future aspirations include writing, teaching, and counseling. She has been
living the low-carb life since January, 2003.
"If grass can grow through cement,
love can find you anywhere."
Holidays can be tough for us single folk. Whatever we are celebrating,
relationships are central to the occasion, and therefore serve as reminders
of our solo status. Most of us can do well enough through Thanksgiving and
Christmas because the focus is on family relationships, which most of us
have to some degree. But, the period between New Year's Eve and Valentine's
Day can be especially brutal for those of us with no one to kiss at midnight
as the new year dawns, and no one to call sweetheart on the day set aside
Copyright © February 2004 LeAnne Thomas and Low Carb Luxury
As I write this, the Christmas trash hasn't even been picked up yet, and the
store shelves are already packed with heart-shaped candy boxes in varying
sizes. This year, there will even be sugar- free chocolates to give your
low carb sweetheart. (Just don't buy your darling a big box unless he or
she has exceptional self-control. Nothing ruins a romantic mood quicker
than the sudden onset of severe intestinal distress guaranteed to last all
But, I don't have to worry about that this year. No one is concerned about
the sugar (or malitol) content of my box of candy. No one is perusing the
aisles of Hallmark, looking for the right card to express his devotion to
me. There will be no table for two, no dozen red roses, and no kisses for
this girl. It is hard not to feel like a Valentine's Day Scrooge.
February 14th has never been a red-letter day for me anyway. Out of all
the days in the year, Valentine's day had to be the day I found my (ex)
husband was having an affair. The holiday, for me, has gone kind of downhill
from there. As I contemplated facing this holiday as a single woman with an
apparent Valentine's Day curse upon my head, I wondered what I could do to
make the day pass more tolerably — maybe even enjoy it. At its most basic
level, after all, this is a holiday about love. And what, according to the
Whitney Houston song, is the greatest love of all? Learning to love yourself,
So, I came up with the bright idea that this Valentine's Day, I would take the
opportunity to show myself how much I love ME! But, how? Sure, I could buy
myself a fancy box of laxatives or some overpriced roses to symbolize loving
myself. But, for some reason, that seemed trite and superficial. While
researching for this article, I even came across an article advocating a
"self-love ceremony." The author's point was that by marrying ourselves,
we are demonstrating our love for self which is a prerequisite to loving
anyone else. The ceremony included music, candles, vows repeated into a
mirror, and a first dance. So detailed were her instructions, all I can
say is that I'm glad the author stopped shy of describing the honeymoon!
None of this quite cut it for me. To be honest, it is not the flowers or
the cards that I covet anyway. Those needs are created by FTD and Hallmark.
Come February 15th, who will really care? If love isn't true the other 364
days of the year, some guy running out like a lemming to buy me a dozen roses
isn't going to make me feel special. The same goes for self-love. The
measure of love isn't what someone does on special occasions (although it
is important to remember those occasions). Rather, love is measured by our
actions on a daily basis.
So, what is the measure of love? How can we tell if we are loving
ourselves enough or need improvement? Here are a few questions that
might give us some clues:
How do you talk to yourself? I'm not talking about loving affirmations
spoken to a bathroom mirror. If that works for you, great! I'm talking
about our tendency to judge ourselves more harshly than we do others. If
I said to my friends some of the things I've said to myself, I wouldn't
have any friends. Do you tell yourself you are too fat, too dumb, too
undisciplined, a bad mother, or some other such nonsense? It is so easy
to do, that we often do it without realizing it. When we eat something
not on our plan, what do we tell ourselves about it? Do we encourage
ourselves as we would a friend, or do we endlessly beat ourselves up
to the point of losing hope? Conversely, when we do something great,
do we minimize our accomplishments or qualify them in some way? Self
praise for a job well done does not equal conceit. People who love
themselves talk to themselves kindly, without harsh judgments, and
are not shy about recognizing their abilities and accomplishments.
Are you taking care of yourself? Of course, following a healthy diet
and getting exercise are two important ways we care for ourselves. You
are doing that aren't you? There are other ways of caring for yourself,
such as getting adequate sleep, going to the doctor for regular
check-ups (not just when you are sick), and making time for fun. You
may be good at taking care of others to the point that we let your own
personal needs slide. You'll take off work to care for a sick child, but
medicate yourself and trudge on to the office like a martyr when you are
ill yourself. That is not taking care of yourself.
Another important way you can care for yourself is by setting appropriate
boundaries. Don't say yes when you mean no. Don't overextend yourself,
allow yourself to be used, or let people take advantage you. People who
love themselves strive for balance in their lives, know their limits,
and understand the importance of self-care.
Do you minimize the significance of the love that is already in your life?
There are many different types of love besides romantic love. I have the
love of my family and the love of my friends, which should never be
overlooked. There's even love from complete strangers if you know where
to look. No, I'm not talking about a one-night stand. I'm talking about
the seemingly ordinary encounters we experience on a daily basis. What
about the cashier who chooses to smile at you instead of sneer? Or, how
about the person who holds the door open for you at a restaurant, knowing
that by doing so, you'll likely be seated first? Just the other day in
the grocery store, an elderly gentleman approached me and said, "Young
lady, would you mind if I gave you a peppermint?" Ordinarily, I wouldn't
take candy from strangers. But, I'd seen this man before. He hangs
around the grocery store and gives candy to people. It is his "thing,"
and his way of spreading a little love and joy in the world. I don't eat
the candy, but I accept it in honor of his loving gesture. We are both
blessed by the exchange. Love is all around, if we open our eyes to it.
People who love themselves are able to see and appreciate love in all its
How much love are you giving to others? To be honest, a big part of what
distresses me about being single on Valentine's Day is that I'm not
"getting" love. Could it be that I'm approaching this whole thing from
the wrong direction? D. H. Lawrence said, "those that go searching for
love, only manifest their own lovelessness. And the loveless never find
love, only the loving find love. And they never have to seek for it."
What would happen if I took the focus off myself for one minute, and
thought about how I might give love to someone else? Maybe passing out
candy to strangers is not my style, but I can treat the people I
encounter with patience, love and compassion. Loving others doesn't
require grand gestures. An encouraging word, a sincere smile, or even
putting some money in someone else's expired parking meter are all
loving actions. I'm willing to bet Lawrence is right: Focus on giving
love, and you just might find that more of it comes your way. People
who love themselves not only have the capacity and desire to love others,
they do so unselfishly and without expectation of reward.
So how do you measure up on the self-love scale? I'll admit, I still
have some work to do, but I'm not off to such a bad start. This year
I will choose to focus on appreciating love where it is, instead of
lamenting over where it isn't. I will measure love not by what
I've been given, but by what I give - not only to others, but to
myself as well. It's really all about perspective, and by these
measures, my cup runneth over. You just can't buy that at
Title photo Copyright © 2004 Neil Beaty and Low Carb Luxury
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