On this Valentine's Day, the predominant emotion I feel is gratitude. I'm thankful for my husband, who gives more and more of himself with each passing year, to me and to our children. He makes me laugh, and gives me a place of safety to return to, and colours our entire family life with his steadfast goodness.
My two children are also blessings of the highest order. They are healthy, and happy, and wickedly hilarious. They give love and receive it effortlessly, and inspire me with their imaginations and hopeful dreams. They are the next generation, and they fill my heart with pride and optimism. Even when I'm counting down the seconds until they go to bed because they are driving me nuts with requests and colour commentary, I love them with a feeling that is as deep and wide as any ocean.
My friends are also an important part of my life on Valentine's Day. Each one of them offers something different to me, and the love and support of my closest friends is like oxygen to get me through my days. I hope I am able to offer a fraction of what they give me back to them. Life without friendship is too lonely to even contemplate, and making time and space for people in our lives is an important piece of feeling satisfied and rich in this world. Community is a gift which must be regularly appreciated and noticed.
Extended family can also be a port in a storm; a refuge when you need safety and assistance. I've spent a good portion of the last year working through some big family issues. It's been one of the hardest things I've ever done, but also one of the best. There are a lot of roots to examine in our families to try and find a better way of relating to each other, one that isn't so fraught with subtext and buried emotions. Bringing things into the light, and trying to find healthier ways of existing in the relationships, has been a beautiful and worthwhile experiment for me, and I'm grateful for both sides of my family on this day.
Life is equally hard and beautiful. It's like a coin we hold in our hands, and one side is inspiring and joyful, and the other is painful and frustrating. We get both at any given time, and must learn to walk the tight rope between pleasure and hurt. Getting older is good in this case, because you learn that everything is a season and will eventually pass. Change is inevitable, and comes to everyone, usually when we least expect it.
The best way I know to practice happiness is to access gratitude. To meditate for a few moments on all of the things I have, and let go of what causes me stress. Developing the courage to stand up for myself and the ability to draw and hold my boundaries has been one of the best discoveries of my life. It saved me, and added a new level of joy to my daily existence. I love my life, and on this day where it's customary to tell those special people how we feel about them, I find my gratitude bubbling up and overflowing.