We’re already six weeks into 2019, and a full week into the month of love. Or as some people prefer to call it: plain old miserably-cold February.

I was never a big fan of Valentine’s Day. In the past I’ve written articles detailing everything from a February 14th spent milking cows during a power outage, to a “romantic” evening ruined by a rat in a jar.

For several years, I’ve gone without a Valentine. While life is much more peaceful and anxiety-free, I have to admit that last year, as I locked the house for the night, I found myself glancing outside, just to make sure there hadn’t been a last minute flower delivery.

I felt a small pulsing of wistfulness, but it passed quickly. What I have gained during these years of aloneness far exceeds the beauty of a floral bouquet. For it was in my solitude that I learned to love myself.

I spend most of my nights falling asleep in quiet meditation and introspection. After years of fighting for a share of the bed, drowning out the television by putting a pillow over my head, and begging children to let me sleep through the night, I am grateful for the vast expanse of aloneness that surrounds me. 

Many people equate being alone with being lonely, but they aren’t one and the same. There are times when I feel lonely. For example, this time last year, one of my daughters took the cat and moved into her own apartment. I ached with loneliness that night, and found myself reaching for my phone to text the guy I was dating.  

But rather than relying on someone else to make me feel less lonely, I chose to “touch the limitless space of the human heart.” Allowing the ache to wash over me, I examined my mental, emotional, and physical responses. What could I learn about myself, and my love for my daughter, if I chose to stay present with my loneliness rather than escape it? 

I stretched into the full experience, and when I awoke the next morning, I was content. It was then that I made a list of ways to show love to myself. It included creating a space that inspires and soothes me, where there are books instead of a television, dark hardwood floors rather than carpet, and an orange upholstered bed that I assembled completely on my own. The space is sacred to me, and I am selective about allowing others to enter. 

My list also includes: having an organized home, reading books for fun instead of just personal development, meditating, taking walks in the morning and evening, attending concerts, sleeping in the middle of the bed, taking long baths, using the beautiful journals I have collected over the years, teaching my children interesting facts and traveling alone.

When I looked at the completed list, I was surprised at the things that had popped into my mind as self- loving. Most of them were areas I had neglected, and some I hadn’t even realized were important to me.

Perhaps there will come a time when I once again call someone else “my Valentine,” but in my heart I know that falling in love with oneself is the greatest Valentine of all. 

-Syndicated columnist Ginger Claremohr is an author, motivational speaker, and mother of five. Follow her on Facebook, find her on the web: www.claremohr.com, or contact ginger@claremohr.com.