Every Day is Saturday

Finding Joy in the Here and Now

An Ode to Thankfulness

Candle 11-20-2018

This morning, before I even got out of bed, I listened to what is probably my favorite Christmas song, “Riu Chiu” by The Monkees. Yes, I know it isn’t Thanksgiving yet – sue me. Listening to that song put me in the most blissful mood that has lasted all day, and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what I’m grateful for.

I won’t go into the list because you can probably guess most of it – family, friends, material goods, steady job, etc., etc. I think about my life and I am overcome with how good I’ve got it. Yes, there are challenges – always. There has been loss, and grief, and pain, and uncertainty. But I’ve got the only thing that matters, and that is that there are people in this world who love me. No matter what. There is no amount of money, no fame, no earthly pleasure that can measure up to having people who love you. My heart breaks for those for whom the thought of living a life surrounded by love is a distant fantasy, and the gratitude I have for all the love in my life humbles me and fills me with a warm, steady glow that feels like Peace.

photo credit: MTSOfan Joy Candle 1 via photopin (license)

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Like No Time

Like No Time

Today I spoke on the phone with someone I consider one of my closest friends from high school. No surprise, it’s a guy. When I think about him, I think about the things we had in common: our love of Pink Floyd, Monty Python, and Dungeons & Dragons. The offbeat sense of humor we shared. Our general geekiness. I think about the times we hung out together, the concerts and movies we went to see, the times I came over to his house to watch television. The fights we had. I remember the plays we were in together, the hours of rehearsal and building sets. I remember the times we stayed up very late drinking coffee and discussing everything under the sun. Big conversations about God, and life, and love, and death. I learned from him that it was truly possible to be friends with a man, good friends, and that has been a great gift to me in my life.

The conversation we had today was one of the longest we’ve had in a very long time. Life happens, you know, and people drift apart. He moved away, got married, and had kids. I got married, etc. etc. I’ve seen him maybe twice in the intervening years. We don’t talk on the phone. We sometimes say “hello’ on Facebook, to wish each other a happy birthday or something, but nothing consistent. He hasn’t been part of my life for a long time now. He has a life that is full and happy, as do I. On the face of it, you wouldn’t think I have any reason to miss him. But I do. And it made me wonder.

You hear the notion that true friends are those that, when you see them again after a long absence, it’s “like no time has gone by”. You immediately pick up from where you left off, like you’d just left the room and come back – years later. What is that? Why does that happen? I’ve read some things about neurology, and from my limited understanding, memories create pathways in our minds, and when we are confronted with something from our past, our brains seek out those memories and we feel that the something is familiar, known to us. I get that, sure, but what about the people or places that we didn’t like, or are painful or uncomfortable to remember? Does the same “no time has passed” feeling happen then, too? I can tell you that it doesn’t for me – if I am confronted by someone I didn’t particularly like back in the day I don’t get that same feeling as I do from someone I did like or have a close friendship with.  Surely the disliked person created pathways in my brain as well (or I wouldn’t know who they are), but I can look at that person, remember them, but still feel they are a stranger to me. There’s no connection.

So I guess that must be the difference – the person I cared for is the one I still have a connection with, and the person I didn’t care for is still disconnected from me. It’s the kind of connection, not just the familiarity, which gives us that “timeless” feeling.

It’s Love.

Love is the only thing that survives everything – time, distance, even death itself. When we feel love for someone – real love, not possessiveness or the ego-centric self-reflective obsession that we often mistake for love – that love never goes away. It lives forever in our minds and hearts, and when confronted with someone we loved in the past, it’s that feeling of love that melts the time away. Love is eternal – it exists in the NOW – which explains the timeless feeling. Or that’s what I think, anyway.

My conversation with my friend today felt like that. When we were at our best, we had this effortless way of talking to each other, and we fell right back into that today. We didn’t talk about anything deep, just caught up in a general way on our lives and our families. But it was that sense of familiarity, that instant connection, that feeling that I just came back into the room and continued the conversation, that made me miss him. But I know that no matter how much time goes by until the next time we talk, it will be the same way again. The love we share as friends, good friends,  is as vivid today as it was all those years ago, and will remain that way for – well, forever, I suppose.

photo credit: Emma Fierberg Fierberg_Photojournalism_1 via photopin (license)

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Need to Know

need to know meme

If you watch the news at all it’s easy to believe that the world we live in is a senselessly violent place where no one is safe. You aren’t safe walking down the street. You aren’t safe in your schools or your places of worship. You aren’t even safe sleeping in your bed. Danger is everywhere; the stories of death and destruction come at us non-stop on the television, in the newspaper, over the radio, down our Twitter feeds, through our friends’ Facebook posts. The unrelenting barrage of bad news often leaves me feeling hopeless and thinking that the world is spiraling out of control.

I hate feeling this way so I’ve thought a lot about how not to. I’ve tried finding my peace through faith and prayer, and while that helps, it doesn’t stop me from getting drawn back into the maelstrom of madness that is the “news”. So, as the above cartoon suggests, I’ve tried to limit my exposure to it. When I am successful I find that my mood improves significantly. But – and this is a big “but” – I often, so often, find myself seeking it out so I’ll know what’s happening, even though I know it will make me feel like crap.

So what is it that I think I NEED to know?

This is an extremely confronting question, and worth exploring. What, exactly, do I need to know about events in my own country and the wider world in order to live my life? What information is necessary for me to have to be a productive member of society?

Do I need to know about every natural disaster, devastating fire, missing person, or horrible murder that happens every day somewhere in the world? Do I NEED to know the details of these awful events, or is it enough to know that they happen every day?

Do I need to know every excruciating detail of every dumb ass thing our elected representatives say and do? Do I NEED to know all the latest scandals and outrages, or is it enough to know that these things will continue to happen as long as human beings are in charge?

Do I need to know every time some heinous act of terror is perpetrated somewhere on the planet? Do I NEED to know who these people are, where they came from, and why they did it, or is it enough to condemn all acts of violence carried out by people who want to hurt others and make all of us afraid?

When you put it that way, it’s pretty obvious that I don’t actually NEED to know any of this stuff. I’m not saying I shouldn’t be aware of world events, particularly if they will have a direct impact on my life, but maybe, just maybe, I don’t have to be quite so thoroughly consumed by it all.

Of course that’s easier said than done. Following current events as they happen is an addiction, and I don’t think I’m the only one hooked. I have tried to wean myself off of the minute-by-minute news cycle but in spite of my best intentions I keep going back to my dealer, the internet, for more of the drug I crave – and hating myself for it. Why can’t I go through life being blissfully uninformed? Would that be so bad?

I think back longingly on the years when we all got our information from a trusted anchorperson on the 30-minute nightly news. We all went about our daily lives, and then, after dinner, we’d sit down and have Peter Jennings or Tom Brokaw or Dan Rather tell us what we needed to know that day. And that was plenty. We knew what was going in the world, but we weren’t overwhelmed by it like we seem to be now. Sure, the coverage wasn’t nearly as comprehensive as it is today – thanks to the miracle of the internet, we can know what some despot on the other side of the world had for breakfast – but dear God, do we really NEED to know all that just because we CAN?

I know that unless I move to some remote island or mountaintop retreat it’s unlikely that I will cut myself off from everything and everyone I would have to in order to achieve that level of disconnectedness. So I have to find another way to stay sane.

Here’s a radical thought, so bear with me. I think that the key to keeping  in touch with the world around me while at the same time keeping my sanity is entirely dependent on my own perception. What I mean is, I can either see the latest catastrophe – whether man-made or not – as a reason to panic, or not. I think we’ve gotten so short-sighted that we confuse what’s happening now with what will happen tomorrow, and the next day. We have lost our ability to look at the long term, to see down the road. We’re so focused on the information coming at us from those little screens in our hands that we’ve forgotten how to look up and really see the world around us. Beloved, the stars in the sky could give a fuck who’s president. We need to keep that in mind. Focusing on what’s eternal is a huge help in processing what’s temporary. This too shall pass.

We also need to see our neighbors with compassionate eyes. We need to recognize that we all want the same basic things – to feel safe, to be warm and dry and fed. To be loved. We sometimes have extreme differences about how to achieve these goals (and what is preventing us from achieving them), and we have a hard time understanding how someone who disagrees with us could possibly believe the things they do. It’s hard, I know. But we have to try. We have to try, with all our might, to love the people we believe are actively trying to do us harm. I believe with all my heart that it’s the only way through this current crisis.

So, when I call my elected representatives to share my concerns about something of real importance to me and my family I will not do so in a state of fear and panic, but in a state of love. I will approach the conversation with an open mind and heart, and I will see the “other” as someone who is capable of compassion. I know this approach doesn’t fit in with the concept of “fighting” the good fight, but I’m hear to tell you, it is the most powerful thing you can do. Look at Gandhi. Look at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Those men achieved real change, and they did it not meeting force with force, but by overwhelming the resistance with kindness, and gentleness, and with love. We have to do this differently, and it starts with you and me, right now.

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On Being Discouraged


“Sometimes I wonder if this is worth the struggle. Sometimes I wonder if this is worth the fight. I never have made my mind up about it; I’ve just decided to let it all ride.” – Tom Petty, Deliver Me, from the album Long After Dark

I’ve had a problem concentrating lately. I can still get my work done, yes, but it’s a constant battle to keep focused on what I need to do and not allow myself to stare off into space, letting my mind roam around from topic to topic. This has been happening a lot, and one of the things that keeps running through my head is this song. It’s one of my favorites by Tom Petty, without whom I would have never made sense of much of my life. I owe that man a debt, and now I’m wondering why I can’t shake this song. It’s there when I get up in the morning, as I drive to and from work, and in the moments between active thought. So I finally decided not to let it ride, but to try and figure out what the soundtrack in my mind is telling me.

So I sat down and started scribbling the first things that came into my head. I listed them out, bullet-point fashion. I was as honest as I could be about how I’m thinking and feeling right now, knowing that my thoughts and feelings can change in an instant in response to either good or bad news, or an unexpected phone call from a friend, or having one of the endless plots I conjure for my own amusement pan out. Or not.

When I got down to the end of the list, I wrote “I am so discouraged.”

When I read that back to myself I hear a very loud voice in my head say “You don’t deserve to be discouraged. Look at everything that’s going right in your life. With all of the suffering and pain in the world, you have NO PROBLEMS.” Which is true.

Then another voice, which is yelling at me as I write this, is saying “And you can’t post a blog about how discouraged you are – think about the people who may read it! Your family! Your friends! They might get upset that you feel this way and even possibly get upset at you! How can you put them through that, for your own egotistical, selfish need for – what? Validation? Consolation? Commiseration?” But then I figure that y’all will get over it. So I press on.

I took a look at that word: Discouraged. When you break it down into its parts, the word becomes “dis-couraged”. Which, to me, means being robbed of your courage, of your ability to fight off the demons who would have their way with you. In the battle against fear, being discouraged means you’re losing.

“Cour” also means heart, which explains why a synonym of “discouraged” is “disheartened”. So in this context, losing heart is the same thing as losing courage. Does our courage come from our hearts? I always thought of having courage as having “guts”, which would put the seat of courage in the belly region. But now it makes more sense to me to think of courage as stemming from the place that holds our capacity for love. And if the opposite of love is fear, which I believe, then the idea of being “discouraged” is actually a lack of love and a prevalence of fear.

So I’m not discouraged after all. I’m afraid.

This makes more sense to me. Fear isn’t rational, and it doesn’t respond to pep talks. It is an insidious force that invades your mind and heart and squeezes out all the love and light, replacing it with things like anger, resentment, hopelessness, despair. And it mostly runs in the background, unnoticed, until a triggering event that brings it straight to the forefront, at which point you either give in because it’s been undermining your defenses for ages, or you fight.

So that’s what Tom has been trying to tell me. I’ve been giving in, letting it all ride, because the fear has convinced me that it isn’t worth the struggle. It says “You won’t win. You never win. Just give up.”

Well, anyone who knows me knows how I respond to messages like that. It doesn’t end well for the messenger.

I’m happy to say that this little dive into my psyche has been helpful. Having named my enemy I am better equipped to combat it. If I can get back to the sure and certain knowledge that whatever happens I am loved and not alone, I will win. And I will.

Thanks for listening. And stay strong. Don’t listen to the fear. Love yourself, love your people. It’s the only thing that matters.

photo credit: symphony of love Sir Winston Churchill Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm via photopin (license)

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On the Verge

Cliff Edge

Today is the day we prepare to launch ourselves head first into the “holiday season”, which, in my book, has always meant those weeks starting with Thanksgiving and ending on the first Monday in the New Year when I pretend I’m still working but I’m really not. Not much, anyway. As little as possible.

Oh I know, we’re all still “at work”, but what are we doing, really? Between the increasingly infrequent emails, the meetings that suddenly get cancelled, and the conference calls that no one shows up for, aren’t we really shopping online or arranging lunches/drinks/dinner/brunch with as many friends as possible before Christmas, organizing our family get-togethers (who’s bringing the green bean casserole?), and trolling YouTube for funny cat/dog videos? ANYTHING but actually working. Well, ok, we have to do something work-related, if only to justify our paychecks, but out of a regular 8 hour work day maybe 2 hours gets spent on actual work – the rest is just filling time. Am I right?

Of course, now that I’m self-employed and work from home you’d think I’d have gotten over this mentality, right? Wrong. For some reason, even if there isn’t really anything to do (or anything that needs doing right away) I still find myself at my computer, standing by just in case I get an email from a client or a new task from one of my colleagues.  And while I’m waiting, I start “goofing off”, just like I used to do when I went into an office. And actually feeling guilty about it, which is beyond crazy.

I’m a contract worker. Once the terms of the contract have been fulfilled, I’m done. I can do what I please with my time. I get paid for the work I do, not a certain number of hours in the day. And I am extremely close to being done with my contracted work this year. A few odds and ends, and that’s it! There’s some non-client-related stuff we need to do before the end of the year, and we will, but honestly, unless something changes, I’m looking at a very quiet December, work-wise.

So what will I do with my time? Hmmm . . .

  • I’ll bake a lot of cookies and give them as gifts. I did that last year and it was fun.
  • I’ll get my house in order. There are some cobwebs in places that have been there way too long.
  • I’ll read books.
  • I’ll work on stuff for my theatre company; we’ve got exciting plans for next year!
  • I’ll do things that make me happy, like listen to music and look up new recipes to try.
  • I’ll go to parties and concerts and movies and plays with my sweet hubby.
  • I’ll spend more time with my family.
  • I’ll do some writing (see, I’ve already started!)

Mostly, I’ll try to find the quiet in the middle of the holiday frenzy to be present, and to acknowledge how astonishingly blessed I am. I am loved, and I love. In this harsh world we live in, to love and be loved is an extravagance that millions of people can’t even imagine. When I think about that, my “problems” become very small indeed, and the simple joy of baking cookies or sitting down in the peace of my home to read a book seems luxurious.

So here, on the verge of the madness, stop and take a breath. Close your eyes. If you have love in your life, be thankful for it. It’s the only thing that matters, because it’s the only thing that will endure. Everything else can be taken away, even life itself, but the love you have given and the love you have received will always be there, waiting for you.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

photo credit: Cliff via photopin (license)

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Homecoming 2014: Friendship, Cleavage, and Bad Shrimp

Catawba Ad Bldg 2013

This past weekend I attended my college’s Homecoming festivities, as I do every year. I made the 4-hour journey with one of my dearest friends (we’ll call him “G”) who has a much nicer car than I do. I arrived at G’s house mid-morning so we could grab a late breakfast and be on the road early enough to avoid the worst of the Friday traffic through Charlotte. It was a good plan, and it mostly worked; we had a fashion emergency and had to stop at a mall on the way, but we got to the hotel in plenty of time for me to lay down for a few minutes before getting all dressed up for the evening.

And dressed up I got. I wore a black dress I’d bought some months earlier that I’d not yet had occasion to put on. It’s a wrap dress with a side tie, and because of the way it draped, it exposed quite a lot of cleavage. I almost didn’t wear it because of that; I tend to keep the girls under cover. Not because I have a moral problem with cleavage, it’s just that I’m generously proportioned in that area and I feel incredibly conspicuous, and therefore uncomfortable, with my tatas on display. But that night I figured “What the hell!” and put on the dress.  I curled my hair and used my smoky eye shadow and red lipstick. The patent leather pointy-toe slingback shoes went on last. My jewelry was understated, just a pair of earrings. I figured I didn’t need anything else to draw attention to my breasts. They were pretty much out there all by themselves.

Thus bedecked I went in search of G. The plan was to meet some friends for an early dinner and then go to an awards ceremony and reception at the school. The restaurant that had been chosen by the group was just steps away from the hotel, which was fine as we didn’t have a lot of time.

Some of our friends had arrived earlier and were already working on their entrees when G and I got there. G sampled the broiled shrimp on one of the plates and determined that it was rubbery and flavorless, and should be avoided. I for some reason decided to throw caution to the wind (as evidenced by my skin-revealing attire) and order the fried shrimp. G told me not to. I did it anyway. I figured it was fried, how bad could it be? I was also ignoring the fact that in the past three months I’d cleaned up my diet significantly; I hadn’t had anything fried in a very long time. But I was feeling reckless (as I imagine women who routinely wear low-cut dresses must feel), and I ate the shrimp.

I didn’t realize what a colossal mistake I’d made until about five minutes after I finished the half-dozen butterfly shrimp on my plate. Suddenly I felt flushed, and my stomach gave a huge lurch. We paid the bill and I somehow made it back to the hotel, but at that point, my big night out was over.

I’ll spare you the details.

The next day I couldn’t bring myself to eat anything, but I did get dressed and go tailgating with everyone.

Normally I’m all over the place at the Homecoming game. Mind you, I never actually go IN the stadium to watch the game, I just wander around the parking lot talking to people. That day, though, I wasn’t feeling up to much, so I stayed where I was. Most everyone I wanted to see came by and hung out anyway, so I didn’t miss much. What did happen is that instead of being an instigator, my shaky physical condition forced me to take on the role of observer. A good bit of the time I either sat or stood watching other people and listening to them talk either to me or to others. What I saw didn’t surprise me; it only reinforced to me why I make this trek every year.

We love each other. We might not even know each other very well, or maybe we haven’t seen each other in a long time, or maybe we didn’t particularly enjoy each other’s company when we were in college, but now, all these years later, we come together and tell our stories, past and present, and we wrap each other up in the sure knowledge that no matter what happens we can always come here and find Home.

I spent a good part of the day with a woman who had been my suite mate for two years; we’ll call her “S”. S and I weren’t close friends when we were in school together, but we always got along, and even though she was a year older than me, for some reason I felt protective of her. I never told her that because it was a strange thing to feel about someone you don’t know very well, but I always sensed a vulnerability about her that triggered that response. It was great to reconnect with her, and to hear more about her journey. I had forgotten what a good storyteller she is, and I so enjoyed hearing her voice again and knowing that she is happy in her life. At one point she loaned me her ticket to the football game so I could use the most proximate ladies room, and as she dug it out of her pocket and handed it to me I spontaneously said “I love you!”. She looked at me and said “I love you, too.”

That’s why I go every year, without fail, no matter what else is going on. So I can love and be loved by these people who either share my history or something very similar to it. We understand each other because we’re the ones who got it. We all drank to Koolaid and got on the bandwagon and swallowed the same pill. That means that deep down where it counts we have something fundamental in common. I’m not sure what that is – values, beliefs, aspirations – but whatever it is, it binds us together. I know that not everyone who attended that school feels the same way about it. I guess they never felt the love that suffuses the place. I feel sorry for them. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.




Heart Full of Love

Me & Tina 1985     Tina & Me 2-14

I had brunch today with someone I haven’t seen since high school. I considered us to be good friends back then, but we drifted apart pretty quickly when I left for college. After that our lives took off in different directions; in the intervening years when I would think of her I would think that we didn’t have much in common anymore, so it was easy for me to let her go. We had no contact at all until a few years ago, when, through the magic of Facebook, we were reunited. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that we became re-acquainted. I didn’t reach out to her, choosing instead to follow her life from a distance.

I felt very conflicted about my hesitation to re-connect. Part of me wanted to, but another part was unsure about what would happen. Here is a person with whom I had laughed and cried, shared secrets, sang, acted, hung out, celebrated, and commiserated, and yet I felt like we didn’t know each other anymore. What if she’s not interested in renewing our friendship? What if she’s not the person I remember? What if we have nothing to say to each other? I was afraid that if I did or said the wrong thing the possibility of getting my friend back would be gone forever. So I waited for the right opportunity. And it finally came today.

It’s an amazing thing to be with someone you haven’t seen since you were young. To look at them across a table with all the years you’ve lived separating you like a river, wide and deep. It took a little while (not long, but a little while) for us to find a comfortable rhythm for our conversation. I wasn’t surprised; even back in high school we had to make an effort to really communicate. I was sure at the time that it was because of my friend’s challenges with her family; her parents were severe with her (not abusive to my knowledge, but not loving, either), and she learned to protect herself. But even then she was willing to risk loving others. So, after a few minutes of “Do you remember?” the connection we once shared was re-established, and we started really talking.

My friend has had a hard life by anyone’s estimation. She wouldn’t mind me telling you about it but I won’t – it’s her story. Just know that I am amazed by her. She is one of the strongest, most resilient people I have ever known. She has faced down so many challenges in her life, mostly without help from anyone. I imagine many people would have given up and crawled into a hole if they had to face what she has in her life, but she didn’t. There she was today, eyes shining, sitting across from me and telling me about how excited and hopeful she is for the future. I am sure she will make her dreams come true – she just doesn’t ever give up.

I knew lots of people in high school, and I had a few really close friends, most of whom are still part of my life one way or another. I wasn’t sure if the bond I had with the friend I saw today was really still there, but not long after we sat down together it came flooding back. We talked and talked, and when it came time to leave we clung to each other and didn’t want to let go. It is such a gift to have had a chance to see her and to know that, even after all this time, we still want to be part of each other’s lives.

Love is what binds us together; it is the bridge that spans the unknown years between us. Don’t ever let go of the people you love if you can help it; in the end, love is the only thing that never dies. Everything changes except for the love you have for other people, and the love they feel for you. Cling to it.  Nurture it. Respect it. It will see you through your darkest hours and give you the only happiness worth having. This is the only thing I’m sure about.


Thanks for reading my blog!  If you want to know more about me and my journey, check out my book “Everyday is Saturday” on Kindle.  The book is part diary, part memoir, about the first year after I was laid off from my dream job.  I think it has something to say to anyone who is struggling with change.

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My Secret Valentine’s Day Shame

Valentine's Day

This secret shame has haunted me for years, but now I think I have the courage to confess it publicly. I know this will come as a shock to many of you, and for all the years I lived in denial about my true feelings, I am sorry. I can no longer pretend. I’m ready to admit it now.

I like Valentine’s Day.

Please don’t judge me too harshly, all of you who knew me from my college days when I protested against “V” Day. You know how passionately I defended those members of our society marginalized by this annual ritual of romantic love. You remember those February 14ths past when, in solidarity with my boyfriendless sisters, I dressed in black and donned my “No Hearts” armband and proudly announced my refusal to buy into the created-by-Hallmark-and-Whitman’s-and-FTD-glorification-of-fake-sentimentality. I mean, why do we need this holiday? Are we likely to forget to cherish the one we love if we’re not reminded once a year? Shouldn’t our significant others be taking us out for romantic dinners and buying us flowers and jewelry as a matter of course? Of course they should! Well, I wasn’t going to be taken in by this transparent attempt by corporate America to force people to spend their hard-earned money unnecessarily! No way!

Of course, my militant stance was buoyed by the fact I never seemed to have a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day either. Every February 14th I seemed to be between boyfriends – either because of a breakup just before, or a new relationship was just emerging and couldn’t stand up to the V-Day scrutiny, or I was just in a dry spell. I started to wonder if it wasn’t a plot by every would-be boyfriend to keep from having to buy me flowers – the timing was just a little too convenient. I mean, I had boyfriends at Christmases and on my birthdays. I had dates to all the important events in college – Inaugural, Homecoming, etc. Just never on Valentine’s Day. It really pissed me off. I remember sitting in the lobby of my dorm watching those long white boxes containing dozens of roses – white, yellow and red – come flooding in, carried by my boyfriended dorm mates or, (and this was almost too much to take), being delivered by a florist. Then I got to see the moment of arrival, when some giddy girl would open the box and wave the offering around the room to her admiring audience. Pretending to be happy for these girls (some of whom were my good friends on every other day of the year) was just too much, so I opted to boycott the whole thing.

I’ll fast forward through the years between college and my first date with my eventual husband (because nothing romantic of note happened – at least nothing I’m willing to share). It was early February 1995 when he finally asked me out. Valentine’s Day was the next week. Great, I thought, here we go again – boyfriend in sight but still no flowers for Amanda! And I was quite right; the whole candlelight dinner and box of chocolates thing was way too much pressure for a second date. I knew it, but I was disappointed nonetheless, and it didn’t do anything to change my attitude about “that stupid holiday”. As it turns out, though, that was the last February 14th that I would spend alone. Ever since, my wonderful, thoughtful, sweet husband has brought me flowers and a beautiful card and we have gone out to dinner at some lovely spot and celebrated our love to the full.

Oh the hypocrisy! Well, yes, you’re right, and at first I admit I felt badly about my shameless embrace of all things Valentine. But over the years I’ve come to look at it in a way that has given this annual money grab more substance.

Valentine’s Day isn’t like other kinds of non-religious occasions that center on human beings. Celebrating an anniversary is an acknowledgement that two people have managed to stay together for another year, which is no mean feat these days. Birthdays are the celebration of an individual life; the completion of another year and the looking forward to the next. But I’ve come to see Valentine’s Day as not being about the individuals involved. Instead, I think it’s about the third thing that exists when two people decide to commit themselves to each other – the relationship itself. As anyone who is or has been in a long-term relationship knows, the relationship has a life of its own that must be nurtured by the individuals involved. It has its own history. It exists both within you and apart from you, and sometimes in spite of you. It is a thing that should be acknowledged and protected if it is to survive. I talk about “my marriage” as if it is a living thing, separate from myself, and it is.

Now that I am in a committed, long-term relationship, I have come to view Valentine’s Day as more than just a commercially driven, shallow enterprise. I now see it as an opportunity to hold my relationship up to the light and admire it anew.  It is an opportunity for my husband and I to pay homage to this third entity that lives with us, the thing that over the years has come to be much greater than the sum of its parts. It isn’t about the flowers or the romantic dinner or the gifts – they are just the ritual sacrifices we offer to the god of Romance. Valentine’s Day is about celebrating the “Us” that is more than just “You” and “Me”.

My friends, I hope you will forgive me for my former hypocrisy and jealousy. I have mended my ways, and I now fully and joyfully engage in all the silliness and manufactured sentimentality that Valentine’s Day has to offer. So, what do my husband and I have planned for this year?  I don’t know, we haven’t talked about it yet. It’s this Friday, right? The restaurants are going to be mad houses . . . Ugh.

We’ll probably just stay home and watch a movie.


Thanks for reading my blog!  If you want to know more about me and my journey, check out my book “Everyday is Saturday” on Kindle.  The book is part diary, part memoir, about the first year after I was laid off from my dream job.  I think it has something to say to anyone who is struggling with change.

photo credit: Shenghung Lin via photopin cc

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