Romance. Love. It starts with us.

by Jan on February 13, 2012

You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

Antique valentine card

(Image from Wikipedia)

My Valentine’s Day memories began with the following three words–Be My Love, sung by the great Italian tenor, Mario Lanza. It was the way my best girl friends* and I first learned to think about romance and love.

The song goes on to say—for no one else can end this yearningone kiss is all I need to seal my fate. We played this song over and over again and the song became our anthem and expectation.

Now please don’t laugh, I actually believed that “romance” stuff—until the next lesson came–“You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.” The learning here is that it is only in fairy tales that frogs turn into princes—in real life they stay frogs.

Undoing the expectations, the dreams of the flowery words, sentimental songs and expensive gifts—or of the “knight” galloping past my front door and swooping me off to a challenge free life, took a long time.

Real love is more than a Valentine

I learned that love is not just about hearts and flowers.

The Valentine began in the 13th Century France, and was about the joyful time when springtime was about to arrive and the birds were choosing their mates. Perhaps that is what learning about the birds and bees means. Oh la’ la’ –those French and love!

In fact the word Valentine comes from the word valance, an old French word for love that means “strength, capacity.” And don’t those words, strength and capacity, tell us what real love is about.

Real love is not the King or Queen For a Day kind of thing. It looks nothing like the movies or TV portray it, because it takes patience and courage to slog though the tough times so that we can come to the good times again.

Real love is an attitude and perspective that adds a quality of joy in the moments together and delight to be with whom we love. It grows deeper over time.

That love can be with a child, a grandchild, and a best friend–even your pet. It is about comfort in being with that person, and most important it can’t be found in the card shop, or the box of chocolate. It is found in the every day simple acts of connection, comfort, expressing gratitude and seeing the best in those we love.

When I look around at the friends and families that have found lasting love, the root of it is always that they LIKE each other, they laugh with each other and they remain steadfast in that love. They create a partnership in the values that are important to them. They have found a way to look in the same direction and finding that perspective can enhance their lives together.

It starts with us.

Then I wonder…doesn’t it really start with liking ourselves, too? And can we really accept love if we don’t love some of things about ourselves?

So today, Valentine’s Day, 2012, might be just the day to start putting ourselves toward the top of the list – seeing what is loveable in us, not just the ones we love.

*P.S. Those best girl friends are still my best friends, though we live thousands of miles apart.  They are the women I count on to tell me their truth, to laugh at our foibles, and tear-up with each of our problems.  They know who we are at our core, when we were still untested and innocent, with hopes and dreams yet to be unfolded, vulnerable yet resilient, playful and earnest. We remind each other what is most loveable in us.

Isn’t it ironic that we found the friendships of a lifetime over a love song?