What’s just around the corner, sticky sweet and has Hallmark written all over it? If you guessed Valentine’s Day, you are correct. Even for those of us who don’t buy into the massive consumerism of this holiday can be guilty of getting caught up in the hype. After all, what girl doesn’t love hearts and flowers? Can we get a shout out for milk chocolates in a red satin box? We wouldn’t be human if these symbols of ‘amore’ didn’t pull at our heartstrings even a little bit.

But what do you do if you’re not exactly in a celebratory mood? What else is there besides hiding under your sheets and hibernating until the 15th? The goal is to not get bitter and turn into a Valentine’s Day scrooge. This is easier said than done, for sure. Sometimes ignorance breeds contempt so let’s get to know this little winter holiday a bit better.

THE HISTORY OF LOVE

Valentine’s Day originated as a pagan celebration 800 years before ‘St. Valentine’ even came into the picture. The Romans would hold a ceremony in mid-February commemorating young men’s rites of passage to the God Lupercus. This celebration featured a lottery in which young men would draw the names of women from a box. The woman whose name was picked became their sexual companion for the year.

Talk about ‘luck of the draw”! Yikes. During the 5th century, the Romans transformed this ceremony into a celebration honoring St. Valentine who was actually a bishop. Emperor Claudius had outlawed marriage because he thought married men made poor soldiers. St. Valentine, being a romantic and a good Christian would secretly marry lovers despite Claudius’ edict. This resulted in the imprisonment, stoning, beheading and ultimate demise of St. Valentine. It seems that unlike Cher, Claudius didn’t believe in life after love.

ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? NOT!

Lara Cox’s seven-year marriage had been over for only three months and it was her first V-day flying solo. On the big red holiday she found herself in the living room eating ice cream with her two old boyfriends, Ben and Jerry. Half way through watching ‘The Way We Were’, the tenant she took in to help out with the mortgage payments breathlessly bursts out of her room in sexy lingerie and asks Lara if she could “…please attach her garters in the back? Thanks.”

Lara says, “I thought I was going to wither away with shame, which is crazy because I never made a big deal about Valentine’s Day when I was married! All of a sudden it was like the world was shouting at me ‘you’re all alone Lara!’ Maybe that was really my mother’s voice, but either way I was so surprised at how strongly it affected me.” Where’s Hubble when you need him?

Raquel Carrington had been divorced for a year and on her first single Valentine’s Day in five years she decided to take a hot bath, order in and watch a movie. Sounds great, except… “It didn’t exactly go the way I’d planned,” she says. “I got home from work and for some reason there was no hot water, so my bath was out. Then the Chinese take-out I ordered was contaminated and I ended up in the emergency room at three in the morning with food poisoning.”

These V-Day gone south scenarios are enough to make even the most secure of us jump off the deep end. So what happens when it’s Valentine’s Day and you’re putting the key in the door to ‘crazy’ and about to turn the lock? Believe it or not, there are choices other than cursing happy couples, wallowing in self-pity or ripping up your kid’s Hannah Montana Valentines and using them to stoke the fire.

 

Deborah Kelly-Dubois, a clinical psychologist in New York City says that, ”Love is about feeling good and living in the moment. Having expectations, especially for the holidays and celebrations are hard to avoid. Try your best to put aside what you think this day should be about, or what it was about for you in the past and recreate it for who you are today.”

YA GOTTA HAVE HEART

Volunteering makes us feel good and more often than not, we get back so much more than we give, especially when it’s done from a genuine place. With the major holiday season over it’s a lot more challenging for soup kitchens, shelters and all kinds of charitable organizations to acquire volunteers.

“It’s like there’s a major slow down after Christmas,” says Craig Austin a volunteer for Project Angel Food, Los Angeles. “People are in the spirit of the holiday and then they get back to their lives in mid January. We are inundated with volunteers right before Christmas and then ‘poof’ a lot of people disappear in the New Year.”

Volunteering is a great way to get out of your head and into your heart. When you give your time to others who are less fortunate than you it’s a wonderful reminder to be grateful for all the abundance you have in your life.

PARTY ON

Get that pink-feathered boa out of the back of your closet and celebrate your life by throwing a shindig with a theme. The party shouldn’t be an “Anti-Valentine’s Day Celebration” since you want to concentrate on abundance and positive attitudes not lack and negativity. Invite all single people and tell each person to bring a platonic member of the opposite sex. This way there’s no concern while straining across the room to see if the hottie in the green sweater is wearing a wedding ring.

It’s a fantastic excuse to make red Jell-o shots, put out some decadent chocolates and fun candy hearts. Be cheeky and serve only red drinks or have a kissing booth! You can go as over the top or as mellow as your mood. Make it a time to get to know new people, make friends and turn the whole ‘Valentine’s Day = Romance’ formula upside down.

Linda Dearborne of Encino, Calif., said, “I went to a party like this about three years ago right after a break up. I didn’t meet any guys, but I did meet a woman who became one of my closest friends and confidantes. She was also going through a separation and we bonded and had so much fun checking out the single guys! It was the first truly great time I had after my husband and I split up. Today (my friend and) I throw this kind of party annually and it’s become a kind of tradition. As long as we’re both unattached we figure we might as well celebrate it!”

MAY I HAVE THIS DANCE?

Have you always wanted to learn to Tango? How about trying out the Samba or Belly Dancing? Take yourself and a girlfriend to a dance class of the seductive variety. Dance is a great way to revive your body and get reconnected to your sensuality. Maybe you’ll uncover a passion you never knew you had?

Maria Torres of Broadway Dance Center in New York City says, “ The Latin dances and especially the Tango are filed with seduction and romance. It’s all about connecting to your partner and having a great time! It’s fun to see all these people who in the beginning of class are so nervous about how the look, and are all concerned about whether or not they are they doing it right. Even the most nervous students by the end of the two hours are smiling and laughing. A few of the beginners even stick with it and become really good! It’s a fun hobby and a fantastic way to meet and relate with people. The best part is you don’t even have to say a word!”

 

Other Valentine’s Day Alternative Ideas:

1. Treat yourself to a massage.

2. See a fun movie with the kids.

3. Write a gratitude letter on pretty stationary to a special girlfriend and actually send it in the mail! ‘

4. Go hear some live music.

5. Buy yourself some flowers – you deserve them!

Resource:

Shari Albert, Divorce360.com

 

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.