This One Thing Will Make Your Valentine’s Day Extraordinary

mmm… chocolate

Don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about that movie with the number and the color in the title…

Last year I spent Valentine’s Day with a man who I was over the moon crazy about. It was all New Relationship Energy and amazing sex and, what’s more, due to a weird set of circumstances we had been apart for almost a month leading up to it. I was heading into V-Day ready for a no-holds-barred all-out carnal thrown-down or,  what gets referred to in my house as an “epic, multi-level bang-stravaganza”. I even wrote a post devoted entirely to products I thought would be fun to incorporate into this feast of flesh.

This year I am spending Valentine’s Day with the same man who I am still over the moon crazy about. This year, however, life is different in a number of ways. I am in pain. Like, for real, intense pain and I’ve been in it for months. He is in grad school which is, well, if you’ve been in it or loved someone who was, you know what it is. It’s a whole different ballgame. This year is a lot more about comfort, enjoying more than 24 hours in the same place and taking it all as it comes. There may also be some crying, I’m not going to lie to you. But, I have no doubt that, as always, the cute boy and I will have an amazing time together.

This got me thinking about all the hype that surrounds Valentine’s Day. All the things we’re told it’s supposed to be. That further got me thinking about how many people must spend Valentine’s Day disappointed, cranky, annoyed, angry, tense, etc. because their lives aren’t looking like the image they have been sold.

Thinking about that I remembered how I once told the cute boy that something I really enjoy about being with him is that whenever we go somewhere everything seems to work out so easily. He pointed out to me that this was kind of an illusion. It isn’t that he has some kind of charmed life it’s just that he makes all plans with an open mind so if something changes we can easily change with it and it doesn’t feel like a problem, just another part of the adventure. Once he pointed this out I realized it was totally true our plans never feel wishy-washy, they always feel dependable but if something goes wrong, there’s always an “okay, cool, we’ll do this instead” feeling to it and it’s contagious. I caught it and hadn’t even noticed. Life just became easier.

This has me thinking about how every year you hear stories about people who come out of Valentine’s Day feeling less loved and special because things didn’t work out “right”. So, what could make Valentine’s Day special for everyone? (and yes, I know, Hallmark holiday, why does it matter? all that stuff, but work with me here- it matters to some folks) I think the answer lies in having this one simple thing: An open mind. Imagine if everyone approached Valentine’s Day like the cute boy approaches stuff- there would be no way for it to go “wrong” because whatever happened next would just be the next fun thing rather than “not the thing I pictured in my head”.

I know it can get hard for folks because the world has told us that our significant other’s love is reflected in how they celebrate this “holiday” and we do so much comparing our real lives to other people’s social media lives (where everything is presented in the best, most staged and perfect way) that it can be hard to remember that the best version of anything is the one that feels good for you and something that is causing you a ton of stress is probably not feeling so good. While the perfect roses and movie-worthy dinner may look amazing on Instagram, is it all that beautiful with one of you having a panic attack? Let’s approach this a different way.

So, that’s my tip for your best Valentine’s Day ever- go in with an open mind. Be ready for anything. Embrace whatever the day brings and know that it will be part of the story of your awesome day. There are no mess-ups, cool new opportunities. Going in with an open mind leaves you ready to have fun wherever you land. Romantic dinner? Great! Roller derby? Awesome! Moonlit walk on the beach? Fabulous! Strip Club Bingo? Amazing! Hot air balloon ride? Wonderful! Pancake house? Stupendous! Epic, multi-level bang-stravagana? Marvelous! Netflix binge watching? Incredible!

Here’s the thing: An open mind doesn’t assign these things value- they are all just possible ways for you and your partner(s) to do stuff together, to make the day rad, to make it yours. Now, here’s where I get all deep on you: what if you take out “Valentine’s Day” and sub in “life?” What if you took on life that same way? Now, I’m no expert. It’s something I work on every day but this I know: At one point I was living the life that looked like I thought it “should” and I was very unhappy. (funny story, I experienced this exact same injury on the opposite side of my body back then, it felt like the end of the world) These days I’m living with an open mind (or trying really hard to) and I know this: even with the pain, even with the severely compromised Valentine’s Day (“severely compromised” is JoEllen-speak for “possibly sexless”), even with the tears and frustration – it’s all just a different turn down the path. It’s all just a different way to be and it’s all workable.

So, that’s my Valentine to you – go forth with an open mind and you will have an extraordinary Valentine’s Day and who knows what else?

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