February 12th, 2020, Atlanta, GA. / Giselle Ave. Media — As Valentine’s Day 2020 approaches, our favorite retailers can’t help but remind you that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner! I’m always amused at how quickly retailers begin to market heart balloons, flowers, candy, and over-sized teddy bears almost immediately following Super Bowl Sunday! One day, there are football-themed displays all over the store, paired with chips and dip galore then BOOM: red, pink, and candy-coated hearts are everywhere! Nevertheless, I’m always eager to celebrate love, whether Valentine’s Day, or just another Hump Day– love is always a worthy cause.
To me, love is truly the answer. Be love, fall in love, show love, do what you love. In the words of The Carters — “EVERYTHING IS LOVE.” Of course, this holiday is traditionally set aside for romantic love, but love comes in all shapes and sizes. Earlier this week, I was reminded of how important love really is. One of my favorite YouTubers shared a quote that I had to meditate on:
“You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else.”
Wow, so true! I know this to be true from my own personal experience. I remember back in 2016 when I started to internalize the idea of self-love and became extremely intentional about showing myself love. I started going to therapy in 2016, a year after my Grandmother passed away. She raised me, so her death was an extremely difficult time period in my life. In that same year, 2016, I moved into my own loft in Downtown Atlanta and it was the first time I really had my own space and I was living comfortably. I adopted a cat, Mr. Sidney, for two reasons. For one, I wanted to bring life into my loft, so I planted and decided I was ready to adopt a pet. For two, I knew that having a cat– although frisky little creatures — would instill in me a sense of love, responsibility, and friendship. Instead of trying to hop into a relationship with another human, knowing I was in the healing process myself, I knew a pet would fill that void, without me bringing anyone else along my healing journey.
Once I started looking within for love, joy, and peace, things really started to take off for me! I landed my dream job, I started going to the spa regularly, I started getting my hair and nails done regularly, and I even invested in a new wardrobe! It was such a beautiful time. I finally started loving myself, and getting to know the essence of who Giselle really was. Can you guess what happened next? Well, it sounds like a cheesy love story, but it all happened in real life! In 2017, I was at the peak of my self-love journey, so much that I really had no worries in life. That is, until I went back home to celebrate my oldest sister’s marriage. I’m the youngest of 3 girls, and my middle sister and I have never gotten along. We almost always argue, for some petty reason. I was so careful to remove toxic people and situations from my life, but sometimes, it be ya own family!
Long story short, that fierce argument between me and my middle sister sent me right back to therapy, but this time, my experience was totally different. I decided to visit a new therapist, whom happened to be an elder black man, and seasoned therapist– 30+ years of experience! I’ll never forget how effortless this session was. By the end of my first session, he asked:
“Do you date? Why are you single? Try dating online, but take it seriously. You’d be surprised. Times have changed and it’s hard to meet someone at the coffee shop, try dating online and let me know how it goes.”
— Dr. Flowers, Therapist
I really hadn’t thought about dating seriously, until now. He encouraged me to date, and take time to find the right person for me. He said, “By the end of our work together, I’m going to have you married!” I thought to myself, Okaaayy Doc, let’s get into this love therapy sir!
Fast forward to just ONE MONTH later, after going on several intentional dates, and meeting a few seemingly ideal men– I met my, now husband. Can you imagine? My husband & I actually met ten years ago, on MySpace (yeah, I know) and we dated long-distance back in 2009! Then, after my love therapy session, we matched, again– but this time on Tinder! I seriously think the algorithm angels wanted us to be together, because this sounds like a cheesy Netflix love movie, but it isn’t! It’s my love life, in real life! We started dating immediately, in August 2017. We got engaged in April 2019, and married in the same month– April 2019. If you don’t believe in true love, I want you to take my personal love story to heart– it really does exist!! But first, you have to truly love yourself.
5 Ways to Love Yourself This Month
It wouldn’t be very lifestyle blogger of me to simply share my own personal journey towards self-love, without leaving you all with some tips to apply to your own life! As mentioned above, I’m only sharing this because I have experience in this area. Once upon a time, I was the friend who would blast, “Happy Valentine’s Day,” by Outkast, from one of my favorite albums, “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.”
But, not anymore. Nowadays, I’ve learned how take accountability for my own happiness, and it really starts with learning how to show yourself more love!
Write Yourself A Love Letter
When is the last time you wrote a letter? Probably grade school! With the popularity of DMs, text messages, and emails; there’s almost no reason to actually get a pen and paper out to write something down, but it’s time. This month, take a moment to write yourself a love letter. Not type, but write! Address it to yourself, and reflect on why you’re worth loving. Ask yourself, what do I love about myself? What makes me special? What is my greatest quality? What makes me attractive? Why would I want to fall in love… with myself? It may feel a little weird at first, but once you start writing, you’ll soon realize why you’re so worth loving, and why you deserve to be loved, in the same way you love and admire yourself. If it helps, write this letter in front of a mirror, and throw on your favorite lipstick while you’re at it!
Do Something You Love
We hear this all the time, “Do What You love!” But ummmm, what if you don’t even know what you love doing? This is where things get a little tricky. The key here is to think of something that only involves YOU. Remember, this exercise is all about YOU. So hanging out with friends, or traveling with friends doesn’t count. It has to involve you, and only you. What would you do if money was not a factor? What is something you do, that everyone compliments you on? What do people come to you for help with? Whatever that is, hone in on that talent or skill, and fall in love with doing it! For me, I love dancing. I’ve been dancing most of my life, and I love how exhilarating it feels to turn on some music and just dance! My passion for dance has evolved into being a Zumba instructor, music blogger, and fitness enthusiast. For you, it can be reading, planting, running, doing yoga, playing in makeup, solo traveling, or writing short stories! Find your thing, and do it at least once this month! You deserve it!
Practice Healthy Habits
As much as I love wine, I realize it’s not a healthy habit. Wine has health benefits, but it’s still alcohol and it isn’t the best way to practice healthy habits while on your journey to self-love. Too much wine can still get you intoxicated, and we’re on the path of removing our own toxic traits from our lives! With that being said, use this month to practice healthy habits. Indulging in anything is unhealthy, so ease up on exposing yourself to toxic environments. Maybe it’s staying in on the weekends, as opposed to going out to the club and wasting your valuable earnings on drinks, shots, and ridiculous club admission fees! An obvious healthy habit is to get more active. If you don’t have a gym membership, you can always take a 30-minute walk, outdoors, for free! Don’t have a babysitter? Bring the kids with you! Make no excuse to be more loving to yourself through healthy daily habits. Refrain from gossiping and sharing memes that joke on people, that’s just not cute. It also shows that you simply don’t love and value yourself nor your time, and no one deserves that kind of self abuse! Drink your water, and mind your business. You can checkout this list of 23 health goals to add to your life this month– and this year!
Invest in yourself, in the form of pampering! Now this one is pretty straight-forward, and you may already have this tip on lock! But, pampering yourself is a perfect way to show yourself love this month. Visit the spa, get your nails done, get your hair done, book a facial or massage, try a new skincare routine, try a new fitness class, or buy yourself a bouquet of your favorite flowers! All of these are ideal ways of pampering/spoiling yourself! Purchase an expensive new fragrance, or dine out at a fancy restaurant! Don’t forget to dress nicely, and simply enjoy the art of pampering yourself. I recently made my first expensive woman’s fragrance purchase and it really hit different. I felt worthy, happy, and pleased with the fact that I spent over $100 on something I wanted. Try it for yourself! Be careful, pampering yourself is a mere small percentage of showing yourself love. Living in a material world, many of us view spending money as showing yourself love, but there are levels! I know many people who value things more than they value themselves, so don’t get carried away. True love can only come from within, no matter how much money you spend on yourself.
Spend Time Alone
Last but not least, make time for yourself. Again, this all about you. The one thing I did dramatically different during my self-love journey was I spent more time alone, rather than filling up my time with doing things, going to events, and being in social spaces and around tons of people. When you spend time alone, you literally say to yourself, “Girl, I want to be around you and only you!” Isn’t that what you desire from a romantic relationship? If so, you have to practice what you preach by simply being with you and only you, too! Do you enjoy your own company? Can you be…alone? Alone time is the only way to really get to know yourself. It’s the only time you can drown out the noisy world and simply tune in to the voice that comes from within, your inner self. This voice is your guiding light, but we get so carried away with a plethora of outside influences, that you can’t even hear or be the real you! You begin to exist in the idea of you, or the image of you— an identity of yourself, assigned by everyone but you. This month, I challenge you to spend some time alone. No phone calls, no social media, no friends coming over, no hanging out with friends. Just you, and your own vibe. Sitting with your own thoughts can be terrifying to some, but it’s the first step in loving and accepting yourself, flaws and all. When God says you’re ready to share your life with someone else, you’ll know. He/She has a funny way of showing up on His/Her time, and not ours.
How will you show yourself more love during this month of Valentine’s Day? Remember, don’t fret if you’re single or “alone” on this lover’s holiday. Because true love comes from within, and begins and ends with you!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
— Belle in the City, Giselle