Valentine’s Day is the time of year that we are bombarded with overpriced roses, conversation hearts, and boxes of chocolate the size of luggage. When I was a Resident Assistant in my dorm, I held a program on Valentine’s Day for those of us who were uncoupled. We would go out to dinner as a group, sit by the window, and make fun of all the lovey dovey couples. We affectionately referred to this outing as “Couples Suck”. Not only did I win an award for this program, but residents found it to be a nice way to rebel against all that Valentine’s Day came to represent – a reminder of our lonely relationship status. In the years since, I have generated an appreciation for Valentine’s Day, not just because I have married a wonderful person that I adore. My appreciation for this day devoted to expressions of love grew from the realization that we can expand our concept beyond a singular Valentine for which we have romantic love. I once read an article in my college paper in which the author paid tribute to all the men she loved. This included the standards (husband, father, sons) and some less typical (Bono, the football player who sat in the front row of her class, the men who made her bread at the bakery). This article further helped me realize that Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to express love for the people, places, and things that we adore. In this spirit (and since I hail from David Letterman’s home State), I give you my Valentine’s Day Top 10 List.
Top 10 things I love this year:
10.) My family (come on, you knew I’d start there)
9.) My annual countdown to spring, which begins on the first day of winter
7.) Meatloaf (despite a 16 year vegetarian phase)
6.) Walks in the woods with nothing but the sound of swaying evergreens
5.) My friend, Amy, who has been my partner in crime since 5th grade and seen me through break-ups, accompanied me to more concerts than I can count, and kept me sane when I became a mother
4.) Celebrity gossip (if they had a celebrity trivial pursuit, I’d be the undefeated champion)
3.) The Notebook (if you don’t cry watching this movie, you are dead inside)
2.) Scaring people (that half second of pure fear is hysterical to me)
And the #1 thing I love this year:
Being involved with dedicated groups of people committed to improving the lives of others…count yourself in that bunch!
Research tells us that gratitude increases positive emotions and contributes to happiness. Valentine’s Day gives us another opportunity to think about the things that we love and be thankful. I encourage all of you to reflect on this concept and create your own Top 10 List. Hopefully ASHA makes your list. Gather your students, children, grandchildren and engage them in practicing gratitude this Valentine’s Day. Perhaps you will make their list.