Teri’s Notebook: Celebrate love this Valentine’s Day

I heard many years ago in life you can either have a great passion or a great love. And it made sense to me.

There’s only so much energy and focus one person has. You either use that to pursue and nurture a loving relationship or you pour your heart and soul into that thing that lights you up. You write, you paint, you create, you build an empire. Or you fall in love.

With Valentine’s Day approaching (it’s Sunday for all of you procrastinators out there), and just the way life often teaches us little lessons we need to learn as we go, I’ve reconsidered that theory.

In fact, I’ve completely changed my mind.

While I mostly agree with the critics Valentine’s Day is a contrived holiday, more focused on making money than celebrating genuine feelings, I also think it’s a good time to evaluate the love in our lives and show gratitude for it.

My friend shared with me her story. One that began with heartbreak, required great courage and ended in love.

“I was in a marriage for years that had nothing to do with love. It was a miserable time, which caused me to be very depressed and become a person I didn’t like very much,” she said. “I was hateful, short-tempered and way too emotional. It affected the way I saw the world. It even made it difficult to show my kids how much I loved them. I felt lost and alone for years.

“I left the marriage and began a journey to rediscover myself. I took time to enjoy life, my kids and find friends again. A year ago, after being divorced for a year and separated for two, I met an amazing man that has shown me what true love is about.

“He loves me unconditionally, even when my anxiety gets the better of me or the house isn’t perfect or the kids are testing my patience. I have never been so close to anyone in my life. He treats me how I want my daughter to be treated one day, and how I hope my son will learn to treat his future wife.

“Through the love and compassion that he has given me I have not only truly found my best friend, but have found myself again.”

Another friend, Thelma Dahl Davis, said her children changed her.

“My love for my children has been transformative,” she said. “I’ve advocated for them in ways I would never have the gumption to advocate for myself. They have changed who I am. They have given me more joy, aggravation, cause to worry and reasons to be grateful than I thought possible. They make me crazy but I would step in front of a speeding train for them.”

I’m inspired by these stories. For some reason — be it broken hearts, cynicism or whatever else — maybe we’ve convinced ourselves love isn’t real.

But love isn’t like money or Valentine’s candy — bound to run out just when we get used to having it around. Rather, it’s an infinite source, and the more of it we give the more our capacity to love grows.

The most beautiful part is as we love — whether it’s our children, friends, significant others, pets or work — the more, like my friend discovered, we truly discover ourselves.

Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at terivance@rocketmail.com.


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