The first part of this column was first published on Feb. 14, 2003.

 

Valentine’s Day: hearts, flowers, candy, romantic dinners, lovers hand-in-hand. If plans for your Valentine’s Day more-or-less fit into the above sentence, go ahead and turn the page.

This column is dedicated to those who will spend this Valentine’s Day without romance. It may be a day of sadness and rumination over might-have-beens. It may be a day remembering a Valentine passed on. It may be a day of alternately covering up and then remembering feelings about a partner who said good-bye before we were ready to let go.

It could be worse. And for some readers, it is. It could be a mightily uncomfortable day pretending you are in love with someone for whom you are no longer feeling love. For others, it is being in a relationship where the “L” word hasn’t been spoken for so long that it would hardly be recognized by the quiet face across the table.

Valentine’s Day may be a day of incredible longing for the parts of our lives not yet lived or for pasts we wish we could reclaim. 

The reality is we can’t control anyone else. We have power only over how we respond.  

Wallowing in what is not will never help us achieve that for which we hope. Our best bet is to accept our present circumstances as they exist. We don’t have to stay stuck here. But acknowledging what is puts us in a place of better preparation for moving forward.

Love yourself today. You deserve it. Do something fun. Give yourself a treat. Have dinner with a friend or neighbor who may be a position much like your own.

When we learn to treat ourselves in loving ways, our lives get better. Our lot may even improve so much that we will be happy whether or not our new outlook attracts someone with whom to share a future Valentine’s Day.

Those Wise Kids

The other night I attended a  forum led by a teacher and a panel of  8th grade students at Hixson Middle School in Webster Groves. The event was facilitated by the Alliance for Interracial Dignity, a group that promotes having conversations about race.

The seven students on the panel are part of a larger group of students at Hixson who meet to address topics that students, teachers and often families shy away from discussing.

They talk about differences. They are learning from each other.  They are aware of privilege, subconscious assumptions and micro-aggressions.

The students said the school district needs to more actively recruit teachers of color. They suggested that Black History Month is limiting, that the contributions of African-American citizens need to be better woven throughout curriculum. 

These kids bring hope in a culture riven by divisions.