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I woke up on Valentine’s Day with a throbbing headache—the aftermath of too much unexpected fun the previous evening—and in desperate need of a giant cup of coffee.  On an uneventful and quiet Saturday morning, I struggled out of bed and began my morning ritual.

Fresh brew in hand, I sat down to watch a bit of morning TV.

Suddenly, I saw something fall.  It seemed to fling itself from the edge of my bookcase.

It was a picture I’d bought a few weeks ago, when it was still the holiday season. I’d spent an afternoon wandering and window shopping in the East Village, and I stopped into a tiny store with some fun items.  One thing caught my eye, its sweet sentiment making me smile.  Though I hadn’t planned to make a purchase, I felt the need to have it as a reminder for when I felt down.

I brought it home and found a temporary place for it.  Every time I looked at it, I felt a sense of peace.  I hadn’t framed it yet, but I securely placed it on the front edge of a bookshelf, in front of a few favorite books and next to a little statue of Ganesh, the Hindu God otherwise known as the remover of obstacles.

I put it back on the shelf and sat down.

Ten minutes later, it fell again.

I’ve learned to pay attention.  Clearly, this was a message I needed.  It was, after all, Valentine’s Day.

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Sometimes love sneaks up on you, and sometimes it falls right in front of you.

May messages of love find you this week and beyond.

xo, with goodness and grace.

Walking into Whole Foods a few nights ago, I was mesmerized by the abundance of flowers in the entrance. The store felt like an outdoor market, alive with varied colors and textures.  It was breathtakingly beautiful.  I happily thought that they’d changed the front display with an expanded floral display.  I already couldn’t wait until the next time I went, before I’d even shopped, just so I could have that experience of walking in again.

And then I realized it was all for Valentine’s Day.

I pride myself on being contentedly single – I can do what I want, when I want and without having to consult anybody. But, for some reason this year I felt very aware of Valentine’s Day. Not distraught, not sad, but aware.

Suddenly, it mattered.

As I heard people in my office talk about the plans they weren’t making with their significant others, I had a bit of an epiphany: Valentine’s Day seems to matter the most to people who aren’t in relationships. Maybe that’s because it’s like a flashlight on what you don’t have.  All those commercials from the florists and match.com seem to mock the singles among us. It’s almost as if the unmarrieds and the un-romanced are set up to feel lonely.

One year a group of girlfriends and I decided we’d celebrate the holiday by going out to a nice dinner. We all were unattached, so we thought we’d just embrace our friendship for a festive, fun-filled evening. Instead, it was a night of three angry women and me, who wanted to flee, go home and get in my pajamas.

My truth is that though life isn’t always what I imagined it would be at this age, I do my best to meet myself where I am. It is easy to succumb to anger, which often is just a veil to hide the grief of a life that hasn’t measured up to our dreams. The truth is that I would rather entertain myself alone than to be with people who don’t appreciate the beauty of their own light.

The most important relationship you have in your life is the relationship you have with yourself. Because no matter what happens, you will always be with yourself.

— Diane von Furstenburg

I treat myself to vibrantly-colored flowers and succulent chocolates and delicious dinners in beautiful restaurants regularly, so I am my own valentine. Every day.

And that is grace.

A few months ago, my now former boss took me to lunch to have one of those conversations about my future and where I saw myself going.  It was pleasant enough.  At the end of the conversation as we walked back to the office, she stopped and said to me, so unexpectedly astute and intuitive, “Woman to woman, you have to find your heart.”

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was having lunch with another former boss and we were talking about something going on with me and he said, “Yes, but is your heart in it?”

It was one of those seemingly innocent questions that took me aback.

I’m a big believer in signs.   When multiple people say the same thing, there’s usually a lesson.  So I pay attention.

Living by your heart will always guide you to what’s right, good and the deepest essence of your truth.  Listening to what the core of who you are is saying is the door to loving yourself more fully.  No one knows you better than you do; only your heart knows what you truly need.

Whenever I follow my heart, I end up in places – sometimes completely unexpected ones – that change me for the better.

So this Valentine’s Day, I’m intending to pay attention to where my heart wants to go.  And for you, I wish that Cupid will not only shoot the arrows of love to that special someone, but that he also will direct you to cherish the directives of your inner beloved.

XOXO, with goodness and grace, Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’m unattached this Valentine’s Day, but that doesn’t mean I’m hating on the holiday.  Love isn’t just roses and champagne or lingerie and chocolates.  Love is in the details, in the small gestures of everyday life.

Love is…

…my mom traipsing across town to bring me orange juice, soup, tissues and my favorite candy when I’m too sick to shop for myself.

…my father coming over to my apartment specifically to “take care” of the fly that had pitched a tent for almost two weeks after I’d tried in vain to take care of it myself.

…the stranger who walked me home as blood ran down my leg after I’d taken a nasty fall and banged my knee up pretty good.

…my doorman who never fails to make me laugh before I leave for work.

…the unexpected friends who checked in with me regularly during a family crisis just to see how I was.

…the cashier at Cipriani’s who saw me standing at the end of a very long line and grabbed the last piece of the veggie egg white frittata because she knew that’s what I bought every morning and didn’t want it to sell out before I got a chance to order.

…my guys at Starbucks who never fail to give me a grande when I’ve ordered a tall.

…Carol Sue, my “other mother” on the opposite end of the country, who knits a scarf for me every year for Christmas.

…my nephew illustrating his feelings for me in a recent work of art.

Love is everywhere.  Take a moment to embrace it in your life.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

xoxo, Goodness & Grace

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