14 Ways to Love Valentine’s Day No Matter Your Relationship Status

bitmoji-20160214070843Valentine’s Day stirs a myriad of emotions in all of us. Excitement, joy, relaxation, frustration, anger, annoyance. It’s interesting to me that so many of us allow a date on the calendar to invoke negative responses. What can we do to find joy in a day we otherwise wouldn’t? Check out my tips below and find one that works for you.

1. Love Yourself

I see a lot of people simply focus on their relationship status when Valentine’s rolls around. Whether you’re in a relationship or not, give yourself permission to love you. Living in a state of self love actually raises your ability to love and be loved by others. A quick (but often difficult) way to do this is to say it. Look at your beautiful self in the mirror and say ‘I Love You.’ Out loud to your reflection. Feel what happens as you look yourself in the eyes and declare your love

2. Love Others

Got Kids? Friends? Siblings? Parents? Research has proven that the act of giving actually makes us happy. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health have found when people give it activates regions in the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust creating a ‘warm glow. Giving releases endorphin’s in the brain and lowers stress. These are all similar to the ‘love’ feeling.

3. Pamper Yourself

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about others or couples. It can simply and easily be a day all about you. Schedule yourself a massage, take yourself out to your favorite place for dinner, buy yourself a gift. And don’t worry about people seeing you out on your own, it’s not about them, it’s about you, and their opinion of you isn’t your business anyway.

4. Buy Flowers

Flowers are one of the most popular gifts for Valentine’s Day. And it is little wonder, while couples may use them as a token of love, the scent of flowers actually produces a calming effect and the sight of flowers brightens our mood. So treat yourself or the person you love to a brighter and calmer day.

5. Envision Love 

Maybe you have at least one great memory of a past Valentine’s Day or a past coupling. Maybe you know exactly what it is you would like to have in a relationship or pairing. Either way, rather than dwell on the fact that at the current moment you are not in that relationship, remember the good moments, imagine the romance you want in your life. What we think about, we bring about and if you are thinking about how miserable or lonely you are, you will feel miserable or lonely.

6. Do Something You Love

Who said Valentine’s day has to be about romantic love or couples? Make it a day of love anyway. A day of doing what you love. Seeing what you love. Eating what you love. Love is a beautiful thing and it is so expansive. Love goes well beyond a coupling and delves into objects and actions.

7. Eat Chocolate

You read that right. Keeping in mind the darker the chocolate, the better the benefits, chocolate has antioxidants which may lower cholesterol, prevent cognitive decline, and promote cardiovascular health. Plus it just plain helps you feel better. Who wouldn’t want that?

8. Bring out Your Masculine/Feminine Power

Tapping in to your personal masculine or feminine power is empowering and super amazing. It feels good to feel sexy and will actually put you in a better mood. And feeling empowered and sexy helps you become more desirable. So What does that look like? To tap into your masculine power go out to the shooting range, play video games or go for a drive. To tap into your feminine power, dress yourself up, do your hair and makeup, buy some jewelry, or cuddle up all soft and cozy.

9. Make a Love List

Want more love in your life? There is no better way to start than to appreciate the love you already do have in your life. Write down a numbered list of what or who you already have in your life right now that you love. This can include your kids, your pets, you car, your job, your favorite pair of jeans, your favorite food, your favorite color, get creative here (even list your favorite toe)! Write down as many as you can think of and for an extra challenge try to write a full list of 101 things that you love!

10. Choose Love

Believe it or not, all the feelings we feel in our lives boil down to a choice. We choose to feel angry, sad, happy, upset. I know it’s hard sometimes to feel any different than the way we are feeling in the current moment, and yes, it is healthy to feel all of our emotions. Anger, sadness, joy, and frustration all have their moments and purposes. You also have the option to choose how you are feeling. Rather than frustration, anger, or annoyance with Valentine’s Day – choose love, or at the very least peace.

11. Aromatherapy

The sense of smell truly is a gift. Scents can transport us to memories or make the anticipation of dinner a lot of fun. Aromatherapy is using certain scents to relax, enjoy, or feel invigorated. You can get essential oils from spas, health food stores, or online. Lavender has dozens of uses including a great calming effect and it can even help lull you to sleep. Peppermint is perfect for massages to relax muscles or create a stimulating effect. Diffusing Lemon essential oil can lift mood and fight depression.

12. Music

You want an instant change to your mood? Music is the key. You can use music to help you get in that angry mode during a great kickboxing workout, pound out a great cadence during a run, jazz you up, get your dance moves on, or even cry. Rather than staying stuck in that negative emotion, use music to move you through it. If you’re in a relationship, use music to pump up the volume!

13. Give a Card

Giving a card to someone you love is a great way to express the way you feel about them in beautiful and eloquent words. Plus it shoes you took some time to think about them. If you’re single, give a card to yourself. Why not? You deserve it. Find yourself something that is uplifting and hang it on your fridge to remind yourself of how amazing you really are.

14. Hot Yoga

Hot yoga is great to help you take a moment to breathe deep and stretch out those muscles. It gives you a chance to sweat out your emotions and get in touch with your body. Yoga is a grounding experience and you can do it as a couple or a single. Find a class near you and enjoy the breathing exercises and poses as you mediate. Don’t be surprised (or embarrassed) if you cry, yoga has a way of working out those stuck emotions. And be sure to bring a towel and water bottle and dress in layers – hot yoga really gets hot!

Whether you’re single or coupled or somewhere in between, I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s day and take the time to enjoy and find the love!

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4 Responses to Fear and How to Overcome Triggers

“I’m not going to smile.” I teased. He just tried even harder.

“I like it when you smile.”

“Why?”

“Cause you’re beautiful when you smile.”

It had become a game now and I was choosing to be stubborn and not give in to letting him see me smile. It was not easy.

“I’m still pretty when I don’t smile.” I responded.

“Fine.” He said, switching tactics. “I didn’t want to see you smile anyway.” He playfully pulled his hand out of mine to illustrate his point. It was a fast and sudden movement.

I flinched. I glanced at him and hunched my shoulders as I looked away trying to hide my flinch.

“Do you flinch?” He asked.

Something in those words. In the fact that it was an obvious movement. I knew he had seen it, even though I had hoped he hadn’t.

“Are you okay?” He immediately inquired. “I’m worried because I have never seen you flinch like that.”

I felt the familiar feeling of anxiety and a panic attack as it began to flood through my body. I began breathing hard and tears rimmed my eyes.

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Fear and triggers. Not falling into the category myself, I don’t quite know for sure, but I would guess most people who say things like ‘Why doesn’t she just leave’ or ‘I would never let someone treat me like that’ have never been in an abusive situation and have no idea what it’s really like. So what it is really like? Why is leaving so hard? What is life like when you do finally leave?

In order to answer all those questions, it would take a lot of time and a lot more than one blog post. I’m just going to focus on two things for this post. Fear and triggers. Fear to explain why she doesn’t leave and triggers to explain what it’s like after.

Fear

Fear generally creates three responses in people, this dates back to cave men days when survival was our livelihood. Fight, flight or freeze. Most of us have heard of fight or flight.

Fight as a response in a domestic violence situation is least likely for a person experiencing abuse to react with, and if it is the reaction, it rarely turns out well. The man is generally the abuser and so generally the stronger of the two. Even then, when you are being physically attacked, fighting back when you are untrained proves to be difficult.

Flight is of course, when you run. Now running in the middle of a domestic violence explosion can be dangerous. It is in that moment that a person experiencing abuse is actually more likely to be killed. That response infuriates the abuser more, who is unwilling to give up his ‘property’.

Freeze is when you do nothing. And it is generally the safest response for the person being abused. The abuser doesn’t feel the threat of being left and doesn’t feel the tug to control the situation even more physically with someone who is fighting back.

Fix. When it comes to domestic violence I would like to add one more response to fear. And that is to fix. When your abuser is having their explosion sometimes doing all in your power to fix the situation is a great option. When an abuser is having their explosion they often are laser focused on whatever issue caused the explosion in the first place. The person who is experiencing abuse thinks if they can fix the situation, then it will diffuse their abuser.

In the middle of experiencing that fear, you’re one thought is survival. That’s all that matters. Present moment. Survival for you. Survival for your kids. The future does not even cross your mind. So often a person experiencing abuse lives from present moment to present moment just to survive.

Triggers

Even after leaving, it’s not an immediate release from your abuser. The memories of what they did can haunt you for years. Even when you do all you can to heal from the abuse. There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to this healing.

Be patient with yourself. When it comes to healing from domestic violence, there is a lot to heal from. Every single instance of abuse leaves behind a little piece that needs to be healed from. There can be hundreds, there can the thousands. It can take days to heal from each instance, it can take years to heal from each instance. You can heal from several at once, or one a time. Whatever the case is, there is no set formula and no set time frame. Everyone is going to heal at different rates and in different ways. Allow yourself your journey. Don’t compare yourself to others. Be patient with yourself.

Face your trigger. When you’re ready, I challenge you to work through your trigger. I know it’s hard, and I know it’s more scary than anything you have ever done. I also know that you will be faced with it again and again until you work through it. Once you work through it, it will no longer haunt you. There truly is nothing to fear but fear itself. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.

Give yourself time. That said – facing your triggers, it’s okay to give yourself time before you face them. It’s okay to find that safe place, to create that safe haven around you, whether it be your own home, a job, a family, whatever that is. Feel that feeling of safe. Bask in safety’s glow. And when you’re ready, you will be granted the opportunities to heal and to be better. Just don’t let that safe haven become an excuse to never move foward. With every person who heals from a hurt, the propensity for others to also heal increases.

Search out tools. There are hundreds of tools out there you can search out and find that will help you to heal. Ask for help. There are free options. There are paid options. Here’s the thing. You can find these tools to either help you cope with situations as they come up, or to even help yourself heal from the situations before they ever pop up as triggers. You don’t always have to go through the discomfort of a trigger if you do the work yourself before hand. You may still have triggers pop up, but they will be fewer and further between.

The biggest message I want to get out there, is to stop asking ‘Why doesn’t she just leave?’ or saying ‘I would never let someone treat me like that.’ and instead ask what you can do to stop the cycle of abuse and say the words people don’t say. Talk about abuse. Talk about domestic violence. Teach each other a happier and healthier way to treat others and be treated.

Why not?

People Who Experience Abuse
1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Women experience more than 4 million physical assaults and rapes because of their partners, and men are victims of nearly 3 million physical assaults. Every year, 1 in 3 women who is a victim of homicide is murdered by her current or former partner experiencing domestic violence. Why not start seeing it?

Children and Abuse
Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence also suffer abuse or neglect at high rates, are more likely to have health problems, including becoming sick more often, having frequent headaches or stomachaches, and being more tired and lethargic and children are more likely to intervene when they witness severe violence against a parent – which can place a child at great risk for injury or even death. Why not hear about it?

How Society is Affected
Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families. Survivors of domestic violence face high rates of depression, sleep disturbances, anxiety, flashbacks, and other emotional distress.
Without help, girls who witness domestic violence are more vulnerable to abuse as teens and adults. Without help, boys who witness domestic violence are far more likely to become abusers of their partners and/or children as adults, thus continuing the cycle of violence in the next generation. Domestic violence costs more than $37 billion a year in law enforcement involvement, legal work, medical and mental health treatment, and lost productivity at companies. Why not talk about it?

#voiceshavepower
I think the best thing about the video that has come out involving Ray and Janay Rice and the birth of the hash tag #WhyIStayed is that we are talking about domestic violence as a society, we are hearing about it and we are seeing what domestic violence is.

What Can You Do?
Often times people seem to think if we bring something into the light like this and talk about it, because it is a negative thing, that it will bring more of it into existence. Or people are shamed into speaking because of the harsh judgement of ‘Why doesn’t she just leave?’ As we talk about it, we can learn about it, we can teach about it, we can heal those who have experienced it, and we can prevent it from happening. Talk to your kids about domestic violence. Be a shining example to them of what a healthy relationship is. Better yourself. Find resources, read books, take classes. Learn healthy ways to handle your emotions. Throughout the month of October (Domestic Violence Awareness Month) I am posting one blog post a day, and I will post books, tools, tips and resources to help Domestic Violence become a thing of the past.

*statistics taken from
http://www.safehorizon.org/page/domestic-violence-statistics–facts-52.html

What now?

It’s been seven and a half years. Seven and a half years since I walked into a women’s shelter. Seven and a half years since I began the divorce process. Seven and a half years since my life changed forever and seven and a half years since I last experienced the abuse that once was so common in my life.

As I continue to share my past experiences, what my life was like, talk about the abuse that happened in my marriage and the process and legal battles of leaving my ex husband while retaining custody of our one year old son, people ask me ‘So, what’s it like now?’ ‘Are you worried about your son when he’s with his dad?’ ‘Is he still abusive?’ The answers to those questions may surprise you and things may not be quite how you think.

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‘What’s it like now?’
A lot has changed mostly because I have changed. My one year old is now eight and was recently baptized in the Mormon church. (Mormons baptize the members born into the church at eight years old). It was the first event both sides of my sons family would be together since he was blessed at two months old. And while the families may not agree with each other or really want anything to do with the other, we put our differences aside for him and it was a beautiful and pleasant experience.

My ex is remarried to a woman who has been in my sons life since he was three and while I don’t agree with everything they teach my son, she is a great parent and loves my son and treats him very well. I couldn’t ask for much more than that.

I am dating an amazing man who lets me be me and helps me be a better person every day and I hope to be married one day soon (maybe with another baby or two).

I’m growing my business as a mentor, trainer and energy therapist while I still work my amazing government job and my son and I rent my parents basement while we look for a house of our own.

I have learned and healed so much in my life.

‘Are you worried about your son when he’s with his dad?’
In a word, no. My ex does the best job he can as a parent with what he knows. Sure he’s more strict than I like. Sure he teaches our son things that are different than what I teach him. Sure he does things that totally drive me crazy. I see those as good things. I see those as part of my sons plan here in this life.

My ex takes our son every time he’s supposed to and he always pays his child support on time. I get a chance to recharge my batteries while my son’s gone so I can be a better mom when he’s here. And my son is given the gift of seeing how different life can be and the beauty and love that still exists in that difference.

There are some negatives. There are things I don’t like about the situation. There are things my ex does that drive me crazy and that I don’t think are okay. (Teaching my son to call me by my name and his step mom as mommy for example). And I have chosen not to focus on those things (which is why I’m not naming more). I am choosing to hold a place for my ex being the amazing man I know he can be. I am choosing to believe my son is strong enough and smart enough to see the good and the bad in both his dad and myself and that he will be better for it.

‘Is he still abusive?’
Okay, I’m being honest here, you’re okay with that right? For some reason, this question is hard for me to answer.

Maybe it’s because this is a public blog and I know my ex and his entire family have found it and read it.

Maybe it’s because it’s just an emotional question for me.

Maybe it’s because it’s not a simple or cut and dry answer.

Abusive? Not so much. That’s more the wrong word. He’s still a little manipulative. He calls to talk to our son every day. (Which of course is fine). However when it’s his turn to have our son for long periods of time like summer vacation, he doesn’t always return the favor. I call to talk to our son and rarely get the opportunity. Certainly not every day.

He teaches our son to call me by my first name and his new wife ‘mommy’, my mom by her first name rather than grandma.

Which is all fine in the long run. Thankfully I’ve been able to learn my sons true nature and part of that for him, is his adaptability. When he’s with me he calls me mom, when he’s with his dad he calls me by my first name.

At one point the whole thing was a huge point of contention for me. And I let my ex know and his wife know and even our son know. I’ve learned this is a small thing and it’s better to let it go. Our son loves both his mom and dad very much and I don’t want to do anything that would make him think, hear or speak negatively about his dad.

My intention is that my son will see both the good and not so good traits of both parents, and that he will learn and decide what it is that he wants in his life. And take on the good traits we each possess and let go of the not so good. 

Twice the Work Part 2

“You do have strep throat, I can put you on an prescription or give you a shot?”

I knew an antibiotic prescription would take a while to get in my system and do it’s job”How soon does the shot start working?”

“Right away.”

I was exhausted I sat in the stale white exam room weighing my options. I had only just recovered from the stomach flu and now strep? My body was worn out and my brain was barely holding onto all the daily activities I had to do. I’d only been working two jobs for the better part of a month. I could not afford to take any time off.

“I’ll take the shot.”

The doctor looked at me, surprised. “Most people prefer the prescription.”

“I just want to get it over.” I slurred.

When the nurse came back with the needle, she asked me if I’d ever had one of these before. Something triggered in my brain. The peanut butter shot? My sister had one, and they called it the peanut butter shot because it was thick, and had to be pushed in slowly. It was supposed to hurt. Bad.

“Nope.”

“Well, it hurts a bit.”

She pulled the back of my pants down so she could get to the designated spot. I braced myself as the nurse prepped my skin and poked me. I felt the pinch and sting turn to a burning as she slowly depressed the medicine through the syringe into my blood stream.

Lesson 3 Ask for Help

For so long I thought the true mark of strength was proving I could do it all on my own. Being a single mom, I felt it was my responsibility to fill both roles of both parents at all times and in all places.

It’s a trick I got hooked into, as so many of us do, thinking we must do it all alone. As we allow others to help us, we actually get many benefits, we allow a flow to come into our life of give and receive. A flow is what we want, a flow of money, and flow of growth, a flow of love. Asking for help humbles has and prepares us for better and greater blessings to come into out lives.

Even knowing all this, and that, in reality, it takes true strength to stop and ask for help, I still have a hard time actually doing it. Letting go of that pride and control is a hard and scary thing to do, especially after having been deprived of control over my life during my abusive marriage.

I had no choice but to ask for help as I was working two jobs Help getting my son to and from school, help getting him to speech therapy, help taking care of daily tasks. I was so worried I would be taking advantage of other peoples plans and time, that they would see myself and my son as an extra burden, and. since I had to rely on them so heavily on a daily basis, that I would burn them out of ever wanting to help me again.

What I found is there are many people out there who are more than willing help, and giving others the opportunity to serve blesses their lives as well as mine. Most importantly, I learned asking for and receiving help reduced stress, worry, and concern in my hectic life and it was perfectly okay during this temporary hardship in my life. That it is a blessing for us to be given circumstances to learn humility and that we all experience this ‘humble leason’ at one time or another in this life.

Lesson 4 Find the Positive

Day after day I felt like a drone. Up and ready for job one, then to job two, do homework with my son, feed him dinner, bathe him and put him to bed, get ready for the next day, put myself to bed.

And yet, through all that, I was so greatly blessed. It seems in our darkest hour is when God hovers over us the most orchestrating our lives on a daily basis to help us learn and grow and make it.

I began working my second job end of November, as this point I had one of those guys in my life, you know, the boyfriend I had dated for six months, we broke up (which was heart breaking) and still tried to ‘be friends’ we were texting everyday, spending time together, and talking on the phone, he said he wasn’t dating any other girls at all, I told him I was gonna still date other guys, it became hard and full of negative feelings for both of us, I felt he reeled me in and out of his life at his convince and I’m sure he felt similarly. Finally we had enough. We cut things off between us completely and for good the beginning of December. I was devastated.

This is where Job 2 became a huge blessing. We had many of the same friends and while this group of friends (including the ex boyfriend) were going to holiday parties and activities, I was ‘stuck’ working two jobs. At first I thought this was unfair and I yearned to go out and be social with these people, then I learned it was really a blessing in disguise, giving me needed time to heal, spend time with my son, and ponder my life and my direction.

After the holidays I was blessed with a new man unexpectedly and blessedly walking into my life, the debts I had were being paid off, I had strengthened my relationship with my son and grown even closer to God.

It wasn’t just automatic, I remember in the beginning purposefully choosing my thoughts, I remember as thoughts of despair crept into my head, I consciously replaced those with thoughts of finding the positive, of seeing my life with a different perspective. And I was blessed for it.

I was lead by The Lord through what could have been months of pain and misery, and I chose to make them months of learning and growth. Which they were. During this time I got to do things I had always wanted to do, but never had. I got to go snowboarding, I got to sing in the church choir, I got to run my first half marathon and I began a relationship which I love, honor and cherish with a man whom I love, honor and cherish.

I know making the effort to ‘find the good’ is what created the good during this time in my life. I know I am a co-creator with God in creating the life I want for myself and my son. I know we all have the gift, blessing, and ability to each do this in our own individual lives.

I was in a hard period of my life, and despite that, I felt the peace and happiness and joy as I concentrated on what I did want and focused on finding the silver linings in my then dull and grey world, rather than dwelling on the sadness, woe is me attitude and grief.

It is a practice I do and will continue to use, I’m not perfect at it, I forget to find the good sometimes, and I continue to do it anyway, practicing until it becomes second nature in my life. It is a practice all of us can do. And I urge you to remember it and to try it. Write about it, share it with others and see what blessings ensue.