It’s the dreaded Valentine’s Day week, with the perennial torment: “will he be my Valentine?” Anxiety revs up in kindergarten: “am I good enough/pretty enough/popular enough?” And never abates completely, even as grade school fades into sepia. As we’re pounded by Valentine’s Day marketing, the brain chatter goes on: Who will be my valentine? What will he do? What should I do? Chocolates? Flowers that die by Weds.? Sexy lingerie? Am I loved? Is our relationship all it can be?
Expectations waft over us like the heady scent of roses inundating the grocery store. Holidays as a rule ramp up our expectations–leading to dashed hopes. Especially Valentine’s Day, with promises of perfect romantic love. This holiday is a hot trigger for “all or nothing” thinking. Either the holiday is celebrated in The Right Way —or all is lost and you’re left heartbroken and empty.
A perfect time for straight thinking, to stop the irrational brain chatter about relationship status or restaurant choices. I love the mantra my younger sister adopted in high school: “a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” Or, if you’re in a relationship: “I’ll look for the intention behind the gift” rather than putting a Hallmark card, Lifetime TV template on it. It’s a good time to challenge the myth that “if he loved me, he’d know.” Who says? If some aspect of celebrating the holiday, roses for example, is essential, speaking up beats harboring resentment that he missed the class on “Reading Women’s Minds.”
Or skip it entirely–rise above the overly-perfumed and caloric aspects of the day–and celebrate V-Day instead. V-Day was started in 1998 by Eve Ensler, playwright of the award-winning Vagina Monologues, as an international campaign to raise awareness about and funds for battling violence against women and girls. V-Day is synonymous with empowering women.
I honored Valentine’s Day by empowering a few future women yesterday. Five young girls, 8 to 13 years old, were playing in Dallas’ record setting snowfall. I was walking to the post office, just to enjoy the fairyland created by the surprising snow. One older girl, pencil thin legs in tight jeans, was chasing her friend, clumps of snow in bare hands. She was squealing about her red, frozen fingers as much as the novelty of the snow. I stopped and handed her my mittens. She politely refused at first, but succumbed as I insisted. Slipping on the gloves, she ran off gleefully toward her friend, laughing “I’ll really get you now!” The three younger girls were patting small handfuls of snow into a slightly forlorn pile. I asked if they were building a snowman, and they nodded gravely. “Do you want me to show you how to make it easier?” I asked, knowing this is not a skill possessed by most Texas children. More grave nods. I demonstrated how to roll the awkward lump across the deep snow, quickly picking up layers to make a respectable base for their snow person. Smiles lit up their faces. They thanked me in their sweet little girl falsettos. They were lifting a second huge ball of snow onto the snow person, making it taller then they were, by the time I rounded the corner.
Make a choice to empower yourself–or another woman in your life this week. Or check out five ways to empower women by celebrating V-Day.