This fire that we call loving is too strong for human minds, but just right for souls. ― Aberjhani, Elemental: The Power of Illuminated Love
Are You All About The Valentine?
Valentine’s Day is one of those days that people seem to either love or loathe. Every February 14, across the United States and in other places around the world, gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of Love and St. Valentine. The history of this centuries-old holiday stems from ancient Roman rituals, but today February the 14th has been taken over by the chocolate, flower, lingerie, and greeting card companies.
Valentine’s Day has morphed into a world wide day of obligatory gift giving. Many of us forget that the day is coming, then at the last minute we scramble to find something love-worthy for our new lover or life partner. After the last minute shopping is done, we often realize that our V-day gift for our Valentine is awkwardly over-the-top or given with very little thought. I have been (and have had) both of those types of Valentine’s over the years. And considering the true history of the date, I don’t really honor the whole gig.
Personally, I could honestly care less about the day itself. Years ago it took on a whole new meaning for me when I had to suddenly say goodbye to three of my furry valentines on Valentine’s weekend (on three separate occasions!). I was single each time, so each of their deaths were a whopper of a heartbreak. After several life changing losses around Valentine’s Day, I started to look at February 14th very differently.
A Day of Despondence?
If you are one of the fortunate few who are cerebrating with someone who plans ahead and gives with their whole heart, you are blessed indeed. But not everyone is so fortunate. Valentine’s Day can be a depressing day for many. Some are sad to be single. Some are miserable in a relationship. Some have tragically lost their life partner. Valentine’s Day can be a brutal reminder of circumstances in life that some would rather not admit.
But Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a day of despondence.
This post is my way of suggesting another way of looking at Valentine’s Day. And if you are able to see February 14th in a new light, you might look at the other 364 days differently, too!
If I know what love is, it is because of you. – Hermann Hesse
I would like to ask you a few questions, and I hope that you will at least consider answering them. Here goes:
Have you loved before?
Have you been loved by another?
What did each of those loves feel like?
How often do you say I love you?
Who do you say it to?
Have you experienced unconditional love?
How many souls have you loved in this life?
Who has been/is your true love in this life?
When I asked myself those questions and answered honestly I laughed and smiled at the highly varied memories and images that come to my mind. Some are painful. Some are hilarious. Some are breathtakingly beautiful. But they all have one thing in common: Love was at the center of it all.
Reflecting on those questions above helped me to really see the truth about Love in my life. I have to admit: I have been blessed. If I had experienced just one great love in this life, I could gladly pass in peace.
But I didn’t have just one great love.
I have had countless great loves in this lifetime. Some were my family, my friends, my romantic partners, my husband, and my soul sisters. But since childhood, most of my Great Loves were not human; they were from the animal kingdom.
“You don’t need to justify your love. You don’t need to explain your love. You just need to practice your love. Practice creates the master.” – Miguel Ruiz
Great loves aren’t limited to people.
What’s Love Anyway?
At some point in our lives we will have a quick crush, a fleeting fling, a rocky romance, or a soulful, fiery, and passionate love affair. But not everyone has known true love. True love is life-changing. It’s Real. It breaks your heart wide open. It allows you to feel peace, clarity, and compassion far beyond what you have known before. It can cut through to your deepest core. It allows you to experience what it means to be whole, healed, and who you really are. It is all encompassing. It is unconditional.
This is love.
Love is intended to be a circle. Love is intended to be endless. Infinite. Unconditional. Love is not a one way flow. Love gives, and love receives. Love allows us to be raw and open. Love allows us to be exactly who we are, flaws and all. Love heals the broken. Love heals the heart. Love allows us to grow and heal each other. Love Gives Unconditionally.
This is love.
True Love dives deep. It’s never ending. It’s the kind of love that makes your heart feel at peace, but also race with joy when you think about your beloved. It’s the kind of love that you would do anything for. It’s selfless love. It’s the kind of love that reminds you what it’s like to really feel alive. It’s the kind of love that we all desperately hope never ends. And it’s also the kind of love that breaks your heart in half when it ends abruptly. But true Love will also immediately enter into any mind and heart that truly wants it. Real love is incapable of asking for anything.
This is true, real love.
“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.” ― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Looking Through Love Lenses
When we talk about “love” and the idea of what Valentine’s Day represents, we usually think about a lover, a spouse, our mother, father, sibling, or maybe a soul sister. But what about the other soul family in our lives?
I’d like to ask you another question: How many of your romantic, family, or friend relationships included all of those traits listed above? Which of the love relationships in your life have never failed to give you those kind of experiences? Who has given you an endless, unconditional love? Who has loved you ceaselessly? Who has loved you without conditions or judgement?
I will honestly admit that only one of my romantic relationships has given me those true love experiences, and only a small handful of friendships have. (Thank you to my husband and to my soul sisters!!)
Although only a few of my personal relationships have been based on selfless, unconditional love, there have been countless others who gave me every one of those “true love” experiences that I had always yearned for. These souls knew what unconditional love was. They had a endless supply. And they gave it freely, without conditions or judgement.
All of these souls were animals.
Their love was there when I least expected it. But their love was also there when I needed it most. They were the ones who taught me how to truly love. They taught me how to let someone love me. They taught me that it was safe to be myself. They taught me that only the courageous ones will love you for all that you are. They showed me what it means to love unconditionally and without judgement. Their love healed me. They have been some of my truest and deepest loves in this life. They were (and are) my soul mates.
People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, someone who shows you everything that is holding you back. This is someone who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.
A true soul mate is probably the most important soul you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. Soul mates come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.
A soul mate’s purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master. ― E. Gilbert
Great Love Brings Great Gifts.
Loving another and having them love you back is an obvious gift. But opening your heart only to later have it aching in pain can be another gift in strange wrapping paper. The downside to loving fiercely can be painful, but it does have its gifts. My animal soulmates have taught me this lesson many times.
During heartache and loss we can receive gifts. These gifts are immeasurable and life changing if we are willing to see these gifts. With every one of them that passed, my heart broke, but it healed and grew stronger. It allowed me to love others more, and to be prepared for their inevitable passing or departure out of my life.
Here are a few other life lessons that my Great Loves have taught me over the years:
- Soul mates can come in all shapes, sizes, and species.
- Our love for them never dies, even when their bodies do.
- Their love for us never fades, even when they leave this earth.
- The love that you shared never ends; it remains with you forever.
- The unconditional love they offer us is a gift.
- We often take this gift for granted.
- These gifts teaches us how to love ourselves unconditionally.
- Great loves teach us what it really means to love others unconditionally
- They teach us how to love and appreciate ourselves every day.
- Love is right there, waiting for us to see it.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you. ― Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets
These souls are just a few of my Great Loves:
Love doesn’t make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile. -Franklin P. Jones
Make Every Day the 14th!
Whether you are sexy and single, miserably married, happily hitched, blissfully bonded, proud and poly, or silently separated, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be something we dread. February 14th doesn’t have to be limited to cards and candy. And it certainly shouldn’t be limited to the human loves in our lives.
Just think about all of the love we are missing out on if we only include the people! Your Valentine could be sitting right next to you now, purring in your lap, or wagging a happy tail as you enter the room. Your soul mate could be covered in scales, or brightly colored feathers. He could run like the wind, or she could soar like an eagle. True Love is not limited to human form.
Expand your horizon. Look for love in all of the animal relationships in your life. Your cat is not just a cat. Your dog is not just a dog. Your horse, rat, parrot, pig and lizard aren’t just pets. All of them could be some of your greatest loves. They can be your Valentine, too!
Learn to see love everywhere. Look into their eyes and let them reflect love back to you. Animals can be the bridge to the kind of love we are looking for … if we allow them to be. Their love is the kind of love that is everlasting. And it’s right there in front of us. We just have to recognize it and accept it. Let that love in. If we learn to shift our perspective to recognize all of the loves in our life, we may learn to look forward to February 14th!
Let’s make every Valentine’s Day about the great loves in our life. Years ago I adopted the famous phrase in Outkast’s song, “Every day’s the 14th!” , to remind myself to give my love to them every day, to accept their love every day, and to remember the love we shared every day. – Not just on Valentine’s Day.
It seems to me that love is everywhere. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around. -Love Actually