Love Beyond Hallmark

February 14th means a lot of things to Hallmark and the romance industry in this country. To me, it's meant a lot of things. It's been times I've wondered whether I'll spend the rest of my life alone; it's been times I've celebrated togetherness with friends and family in defiance to loneliness; it's times I've been in a dark hole alone and times I've waited for the clock to tick over to half price candy day. It's been times I've ignored the whole shebang, because in case you haven't noticed marriage and romance as they are understood today were invented by marketers like me, and why fall for it, and times I've ended up angry and resentful either way. I've had major life changing moments on this day and weird tripped out situations that it takes me years to see from a perspective of how important they are.

Today, on Valentine's Day, I am celebrating romance. I am celebrating love. And I'm celebrating it by realizing the truth that lies within.

That nobody else can love me wholly and completely until I can love myself.

That to be in true conscious relationship, it means exploring the dark space within and accepting it for what it is, so somebody else can do that for you - and you can do that for them.

That romance and love is not the fun and games sold to us on TV or ads, but the real self-sacrifice that comes from fusing two separate beings into one whole, while retaining your own identity. It's the fusion of Netzach - your own personal power, your stamina and endurance that gets you through the darkness into victory - with your acknowledgement of help that is Hod, your gratitude for another and ability to ask for your needs to be met.

The fusion creates the ultimate connection, the foundation of a universal lifelong bond that is Yesod, and the work is never ending.

It's seeing the warts and the pimples and the nastiness and knowing you love yourself no matter what, and so you can love another. It's standing up for yourself and your own needs, because im ain ani li mi li - if I am not for myself, why in heaven's name would anybody else be there for me? It's seeing that in another and knowing that the stardust that our souls are made of - some call it God's DNA, I call it LoveLight - is all the same substance, so no matter what external trappings get in the way of connection to another, we are still one and the same.

Flowers and chocolates are really nice, and I will not turn them away if you send them in my direction. But all-encapsulating, mind-blowing acceptance of oneself and the other - that's what they don't teach you in fundamentalist religions that groom you towards marriage, or Western cultures that send you towards expensive weddings and honeymoons and credit card debt. Because nobody else can complete you until you complete yourself, and dammit, that's work you have to do every day.

So I'm starting with today. By wearing rosebuds and drinking cacao and getting in touch with friends who I love. By treating my body with respect and good food and lots of water and tea, by turning my face towards the sunshine and looking up, and remembering how much love there is out there in the universe, for all of us to share. No matter how we draw the lines that are our relationships with one another, we're all made from the same stuff. To pixiedust!