Why I No Longer Have Beef with Valentine’s Day



Not my best showing with the updating of the weight and measurements.

I’ll come clean and admit right this second that, while sticking mostly to my prescribed diet and daily exercise intentions, I have finally come to terms with the fact that I am not as disciplined as I like to believe. Or maybe it’s that I don’t like rigidity. Or it could also be that the last time I truly was that regimented was a really rough season in my life, and I’m shirking the projection a little. It’s probably a mixture of those three things, best guess. But I see now a pattern of behavior that I have to own up to and decide how I feel about it (which I won’t drag you through right this minute, but I will name it for the audience).

And that pattern, dear friends, is that I come in heavy-handed on a concept, and then back off of it without actually abandoning it. Kind of like loosening the reins a bit.

As I have mentioned before, I did go through a couple years wherein I was very, very dedicated to a fitness scheduling and nutritional plan, and those things yielded results that I needed for more than one reason. But in this season of my life, I have just been on a tear of rejecting the idea that things can’t be a little more fluid, especially when my end state is still a good distance away (which lends credence to the idea of small checkpoints on the way to bigger goals). Intellectually, I know that the moments when you want to quit or cheat are the moments wherein you should double-down and stay the course. I know that discipline in small things leads to discipline in bigger things. I know that, if I really want to hit my targets, I have to do the work.

In my defense, I don’t think I ease up because it’s hard. I’ve done lots and lots of hard things in my life up to this point, and I’m not afraid of the hard things that are to come. I understand what I’m made of. It’s almost indestructible. I think I relax my standards because I’m a little gun shy of forcing life into neat boxes and piles after what that caused earlier in my adulthood. I’ve seen how that can go awry, although I won’t discount the notion that I may have just done it wrong. Whatever the reason, and to whatever end in this evolution of my life, that’s just where I’m at, and I accept that truth for now.

This is not to say that I have not been successful, overall. My initial goal was to get under 150lbs by my birthday (as close to 145lbs as possible), which is a week from Thursday, based on a time period that was largely successful for me in a physical sense. As 150lbs is my high school graduation weight and general happy bench mark, I’m not unhappy that I’m about a pound or so off of that coming into my birthday. At one point, prior to November, I had gone to the doctor to find that stress, work, and medication had caused me to check in at 163lbs, which was absolutely heartbreaking to me. I can deal with a thirteen pound weight loss over the winter months, especially as I’m still generally losing weight at a healthy rate each week.

Lord knows I’m glad to have gotten over that plateau I hit somewhere around 153-155lbs.

It’s like I had to convince my body that this wasn’t something short term, that it’s really safe to believe that we’re returning to many of our old ways. No more high dosages of anti-anxiety medication. No more emotional yo-yo-ing with a rough job. Once I added weighted rucking, hiking, and trail running back into my programming, I dropped under that plateau within a week. I believe the body responds best when it is happy (and that bit about cold weather burning calories faster as your body tries to keep warm…), and whether I’m alone or with a group, I am happiest on my mountains. It also helps that my accountabil-a-buddy also doesn’t mind walking the 5k trail near the elementary school with her sister, who looks suspect with a heavy, black backpack.

Measurement-wise, I can’t honestly say where I am for sure in hard numbers. My children decided it would be fun to use my tape measure to cut and label the lengths of various household objects.

We don't know

Not exactly how I saw learning measurement going.

They also decided to see what was stronger- my backup yardstick or my son’s aluminum bat. Ten guesses how that turned out.

Petting Zoo

At least it’s a cute petting zoo…?

So judging based on the way my clothes are fitting, I can tell that there have been several inches lost, despite not being able to verify exact numbers right now. There’s some clean muscle tone returning to previously soft areas, and the dimples in my lower back have reappeared (can I get a hallelujah?!). My body is happy to take on more challenging movements under weight, which had previously caused me to feel discouraged in that those movements just didn’t feel right until this strength base was re-established.

Maybe muscles have a confidence issue.

At any rate, I have moved from utilizing published 45min HIIT workouts for most of my week to programming myself, and I am enjoying the creativity and progress that has come with it. I need to run more often than I have been, and I need to increase the weight and rapidity of completion a little before I get too complacent. Otherwise, we are cooking with grease, my friends. I may not hit my initial goals by my birthday, but I have zero doubt that working along these seemingly natural lines will get me there in no time at all.

Moving on to the bit of this post that has to do with the title.

Aside from the fact that Ash Wednesday (the beginning of the Lenten season for Catholics, marked by fasting and abstaining from meat) falls on Valentine’s Day, keeping me from literally eating beef tomorrow, I have truly dropped my issue with Valentine’s Day. Like many, the commercialized outpouring of sappy goo everywhere used to irritate me to no end. I mean, the extravagant nature and unrealistic expectations are enough to smother a human. Why do we have to pick one day out of the whole year to throw our affections in the faces of everyone around us? Why do women feel the need to act like princesses in towers and boast the riches brought to them by relative Prince Charmings like it’s some kind of legitimizing factor? Why do men have to obviously resent it so much? Who came up with this framework, anyway?!

I’m a romantic at heart, but I also have zero idea of what to do when extreme emotion is displayed in front of me. I don’t like to see people get disappointed, so I generally minimize high-stakes situations like this into something more attainable, hoping to spare myself and others the inevitable reminder that people show love in different ways…and they can’t read your mind. Up to this point, I have carried the narrative that love should be equally displayed every day, so saving all the goo for one day out of the year seems like a cheap way out.

Don’t even get me started on the retail aspects of all of this.

But this year, I’m seeing things differently.

It’s no surprise to anyone, given my penchant for writing about it, that Darrin has caused me to feel such a deep appreciation for partnership over the last several years. While we quietly have our own moments of goo, it has been the moments of real life shit that have given me a new view on why love should be celebrated in its own right. When palpable, lasting love exists in this world, it is a miracle and a kindness- an expression of divine affection for us to share in while on earth- and the world probably should stop for it briefly.

After a decade of misunderstanding what love was and how it is displayed in healthy ways, I remember the first Valentine’s Day after I had separated from the father of my children. I didn’t want to be sour about it, and I knew that it wasn’t fair to sneer at everyone else’s observance just because I was hurting. I reminded myself that I hadn’t had a real Valentine’s Day at any point in that relationship, so the lack of one at that particular moment really wasn’t a new feeling. It wasn’t real love. He didn’t actually love me. I’m not actually losing anything I had ever had. But it hurt so terribly deeply that I had to avoid all social media, television, billboards…general humanity in any way that I could. Regardless of being able to intellectually acknowledge where my emotion was coming from, I still had to ride it out.

I spent that day on the mountain, in the cold and fog. I sat on a large rock near a small water fall and allowed my feelings of loneliness to wash over me, to be real. It was what it was, and whether it would be temporary or not, I had to learn to love myself and fill the hole in my own heart. I’ll look after myself, I remember thinking, and protect myself. I have to learn to be okay with being alone for however long I’m alone. I have to accept that there may not be another person that can actually be my other part. There’s got to be a way to be my own happiness. I got up from the rock, walked back to my car, and was gentle with myself for the rest of the day.

Flash forward a piece, and I had, in fact, become very adept at being enough for myself. Aside from the occasional mourning or misstep, I stopped fearing being alone and fell into what I can now recognize as a false confidence that I would never really need anyone. I constructed my daydreams around myself and my children, seeing in my mind’s eye days in the future when I was working successfully, hitting my stride as a single parent whose children were well-adjusted and comfortable at home with me. I had everything I needed. In fact, transitioning someone new into the house would a possible difficulty that I didn’t feel like I even had interest in, so I was fine.

I was fine.

Flash forward just a little more, and now I see all the ways I was still in error over what love ought to be. I figured love, the second time around, would be someone who could be a good father-figure, thinks I’m the coolest, and works well with me toward mutual goals. We’d respect each other and give each other space. We’d have shared interests, but be okay with individual interests, too. We’d be able to just be, and honesty would permeate all aspects of the house.

I didn’t- and still don’t- feel like that’s off-base as far as parts of what love is. I just didn’t count on the fact that, sometimes, I’d be the person who made it hard for the relationship to move forward. I’d be the weak link, the hubris that almost causes the fall. I thought I’d done enough introspection that I would be an easy person to be with most of the time…but that’s not true. And in Darrin’s patience and commitment, I can see that love is the look when he comes to seek me out, even after I’ve had a shit temper over something that hurt my feelings. Love is the trying anyway, repeatedly, until common ground is found for rebuilding, because most things are either small potatoes that feel like big, personal potatoes because we’re stewing within ourselves or are issues significant enough to affect the relationship in a way that they should be treated tenderly, like fine china.

Love is admitting you don’t know what to do or how to help, but sticking around to see if something presents itself anyway. It’s in the admission of ugly thoughts or feelings that may be hurtful but have to be addressed for the health of the relationship. It’s the feeling of safety that comes from knowing your person doesn’t have any illusions of who or what you are- strengths and weaknesses are laid out, and things don’t always match up- but that you’re more than the sum of your parts. Love is seeing that your partner isn’t everything you thought they would be, but that that exactly is why they help you to be better than you were before.

I could wax on (I’m sure you’ve all had enough), but it just really came to me at about 3am this morning when Darrin came looking for me in the kitchen (I was in terrible fibro pain and nauseous, so I went for some medicine and food to take it with), saw that this was something he couldn’t make better, but stayed up with me and kept me close until I relaxed to sleep…that love in its truest, purest, life-partner role is a mercy we are raised to believe we’re entitled to, but in fact don’t deserve at all. The super-real way that Darrin shows his love in my less-than-attractive moments enriches my life and gives me a sense of safety that is priceless. There is nothing I have that I could give in exchange to make good on that debt.

But even if I did, he wouldn’t ask for it.

New blog profile

I do my best…most of the time.

So I am what I am and do my best to use what that is to enrich D’s life, understanding all the ways he does the same and all the ways my life has found peace from his efforts. Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and the goo will abound. There will be eye-rolling, several thousand engagements or weddings, and retail abuse that will still probably make me gag a little. But the purpose of Valentine’s Day- the celebration of love and how it makes life bearable, doable- so overrides all these petty little things. I am too grateful for the love in my life to fail to appreciate a day set aside for its recognition.

Although a dispensation from the bishop would have been nice.

One thought on “Why I No Longer Have Beef with Valentine’s Day

  1. Great blog. God has blessed us all with a medicine called LOVE , which is capable of curing all pains , hardships , problems in life . So, it’s for our good to know, recognize and admire whenever we get it. 🙂


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