As a multicultural woman in my mid 30s, I’m always curious to see how love is celebrated across cultures. I've seen Valentine’s Day celebrated in similar ways in the various places I’ve lived or visited. In Europe, North America, Latin America, West Africa or the Carribeans, it usually involves a lot of pink or red, going out on a romantic date and exchanging material gifts with a love interest (and if all goes well, showing off that uber-sexy-yet-uncomfortable-as-hell lingerie and ending the night between satin sheets). That can be beautiful and cheers to all the couples slated for a memorable evening! (Rose emoji) But from a more conscious perspective, there are a few problems with the way we celebrate love, come February 14.
First, if Valentine’s Day is a day for love, then there’s no reason why every single day shouldn’t be a celebration of it. Love is not a button we turn on and off. It’s a permanent mindset, the way we view our relationship with the world around us. I find it sad when I hear people in late January anxiously looking to lock in a girlfriend or boyfriend so they don’t spend tonight alone... The pressure is real. Second, the way this “holiday” is set up excludes a lot of people: singles, LGBT, people who can’t afford the fancy dinner or decent enough gifts, people who are very loving but just not romantic (yes, there many ways to show love as I’ve come to learn). Finally, while receiving love (or proofs of love to be specific) is great, giving love where it’s necessary is even more important. You know those safety instructions on the plane that tell us to always put on our own oxygen mask first before trying to help to others? Well this is the same thing. You can’t give what you don’t have. Regardless of your current relationship status, all matters of love start with you.
Courtesy Shaira de la Peña
It is our belief at FAUBOURG that self-love and self-respect are prerequisites to giving and sustaining anything positive. It’s because we respect ourselves that we say no to harming our bodies with chemicals in our clothes, water or food. For the same reason, we refuse to be lied to about products we’re made to consume. It’s because we love ourselves that we have enough perspective to understand that we have the power to change our circumstances. It’s because we love and respect ourselves that we know that we, as women, deserve more than what we’ve had to accept so far. At last, we’re realizing the obvious: we’re enough and we’re beautiful. And there is so much power in knowing this truth from within, without external validation. You might already have made this realization but if you’re still working on it, here are 5 ways to make sure this is your truth too, every single day:
1. Make a Declaration
Look at yourself in the mirror, smile and say out loud “I love you, [Insert your name here]”. Even if it feels strange or even stupid at first, keep doing it every day and you’ll come to truly be convinced by your declaration. Go ahead and get ready to start an amazing day. If that's your fancy, adorn yourself with some ethically made jewelry, like this piece by Parme Marin.
2. Make something beautiful with your hands
Cooking is a great way to nurture yourself and the people you love. And it doesn’t have to take forever. A smoothie, eggs, a colorful salad or treats. If that’s available to you, painting or sculpting, mending old garments to give them a new life, braiding your hair... Whatever you’re in the mood and have time for. Just make sure you enjoy the process and the result. Extra points if it’s healthy for your body and soul. If you’re into cosmic cooking, we recommend the Moon Juice Cookbook.
3. Whatever you do or wherever you’re going, make sure you’re wearing something comfortable, that YOU feel beautiful in
Nothing is less appealing than someone looking like they’re trying so hard to look good that they can’t even walk or breathe comfortably. Equally unappealing is the blind adherence to fashion trends even when they’re not for you! (Remember the crop top trend? I’m glad my mom didn’t care about that). Starting with your undies, pick something that feels and looks great. We’re in love with Hara the Label’s organic bamboo pieces.
4. Help someone
Giving is receiving. Confidence comes from achievements. Even if small, make a positive impact on someone’s life every day. We all have gifts to share with other, the most precious one being our time. Volunteer for a cause that moves you or donate. Check on your friend, brother or sister who’s going through a rough patch. Text or call your mom. Give your seat to someone who needs it more than you on the subway. Tip extra. We all have the opportunity to give something of value to someone every single day.
5. Quiet your mind
Preserve the first and last hour of your day for spiritual practices such as prayer or meditation. Someone told me last night that Freud had identified the first hour after we wake up and the last one before we fall asleep as the most vulnerable times of our day, meaning that they condition how the next cycle goes (hectic first hour equals hectic day; stressful thoughts just before heading to bed mean bad quality sleep). I didn’t learn this from Freud but because of my husband’s insistence on keeping electronic devices outside the bedroom. No more jumping on my phone the minute I open my eyes to check social media or my inbox. And phone and laptop are put aside at least an hour before bedtime. By making sure the first and last hour of your day are not reactive but with intention, you’ll start your days with a stronger sense of control over the next 24 hours - and life in general - and have better, more restorative sleep.
Wishing you abundant, sustained love, today and every day.
Tell us about your routines and share your idea of what love is in the comments section.
Words by our founder & CEO Priscilla Debar.