Photographs by Meadow Linn

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Two Simple Steps for More Powerful Love

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but I learned a few things this year that I want to share.

From start to finish, my Valentine’s Day was magical, not because a man who looked like he stepped out of a magazine suddenly whisked me off on a romantic getaway, nor because I was showered with cards from friends and family near and far. No. It was amazing because I decided to make it amazing.

You might be familiar with the expression, “Unhappiness comes from unfilled expectations.” Hallmark, candy companies, flower merchants, social media, and a whole host of other entities have taught us to expect certain things on this one day and when those expectations aren’t met, it can be easy to let the little gremlins into your head. They wrap their knotty fingers around your heart and tell you you’re not worthy of love and they tickle your eyes with their onion spray to make you feel like you’ll always be alone. When expectations are unfulfilled it’s easy to downward spiral. Each thing in your life that might not live up to your ideal can become magnified in these moments.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Here’s my two-step process for creating a magical Valentine’s Day (or any other day).

My parents circa 1984 (My shirt says, "I love joy.")
1. Change Your Expectations

There are many ways to feel love, be loved, and spread love. Changing your expectations doesn’t mean lowering your standards or giving up on romance. It simply means shifting the way you imagine love should be demonstrated. Romance doesn’t have to happen just on February 14th, and it doesn’t have to be shown with a heart-shaped box of chocolates or a dozen red roses.

My parents have been married for forty years, and they have one of the best relationships I know. Valentine’s Day for them, however, is not a romantic holiday. Neither my mom nor my dad expects anything special for this day; instead they share their love in other ways each and every day. Since my mom works long hours writing and teaching, my dad makes dinner most nights. And even when my mom is on a tight deadline, she always sets aside time in the evenings just for the two of them. 

2. Create Your Own Joy

If you’re in a relationship and Valentine’s Day is important to you, tell your partner. Unless you let him/her know that you might like to receive flowers or go out for an elegant meal, he/she may not know. Or, if Valentine’s Day just isn’t your partner’s thing, rather than hoping that one day this will change, and then resenting him/her when it doesn’t, instead create the romance you desire for yourself. This is also a great thing to do if you’re single, like I am.

My Valentine's Day flowers
Treat yourself to a special day. This can be done on Valentine’s Day, but you might also consider doing it at other times as well. When you cherish yourself this creates a ripple effect, and there will be increased magic in all areas of your life.

A great way to feel love is to spread love. The more love you share, the more you will feel. However, in order to do this effectively, it’s important to do so without expectations of how, when, or if the love you send out into the world will be returned. Do it simply because it makes you feel good to sprinkle love, not because you’re subconsciously hoping it will boomerang back to you. I’ve tried that, and it only leads to more gremlins. 

On Valentine’s Day I bought myself a beautiful bouquet of tuberose and orange and yellow spray roses. Their perfume filled my entire house and every time I looked at them, I was filled with such joy. For dinner, I made myself steamed lobster claws with aioli, and I opened a bottle of French wine I’d been saving. And, of course, I finished off the evening with a bit of chocolate. It was a beautiful day from start to finish because I made it that way.

You are the most important person you’ll spend your entire life with. Treat yourself with love and kindness. Fill your home with flowers, draw yourself a warm bath, and make candlelit dinners. Rather than lamenting unfulfilled expectations, change your expectations or find ways to meet your expectations on your own. Here’s to abounding love!

Love Spell Brownies
(Gluten and Dairy Free)

To feel immense love for yourself and your life, make this decadent special treat with the intention that love is flowing to you, through you, and from you.

Makes 16 brownies

2/3 cup coconut oil
1¼ cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour*
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

*My favorite is a blend of brown rice flour, tapioca flour, and potato starch.

Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Prepare a 9x9 inch pan by lining it with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the coconut oil, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a double-boiler or in a heatproof bowl set over barely simmering water. Stir frequently until the coconut oil is melted and the mixture is smooth-ish (the sugar won't melt completely). It will be quite hot. Remove from the heat and set aside until just warm.

While stirring, fill the pot with love. I like to imagine my heart as a red, pulsating light that expands with each turn of my wrist. I picture the shimmering light flowing from my heart and swirling into the pot. You may even want to visualize those who eat the brownies being filled with love and joy while experiencing increased magic in their lives.

When the mixture is warm—not hot—stir in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time and stir vigorously with the intention that the brownies are filled with the energy of love-filled new beginnings. When the batter is thick and shiny, mix in the flour and stir until very well blended. Mix in the chocolate chips and walnuts (if using). Pour into the prepared pan and spread it evenly into all the corners. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a bit of moist batter, about 25 minutes.

Cool completely on a rack before removing from the pan and cutting into squares.

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