Alternative belonging. It’s where my thoughts go, the day before Valentines.

Ah Valentines. The flower giving, chocolate eating, marriage proposal, gift giving, dinner out frenzy. I think about all the people for whom none of that will happen. A day in which they might feel lonelier, more disconnected and reminded of how they aren’t a part of this public love fest. And I wonder, is it time to create an alternative un-valentine event?

I’m not anti-Valentine’s Day, but I do appreciate the feeling of being on the outside looking in. I read about a local musician who does an un-valentine concert at a small pub. It’s more about a gathering for those who like music and as he puts it, rather a tongue in cheek event. There’s no love song bashing nor is it songs about how you were done wrong. He’s including some cover songs, but also doing original music. I like the idea.

Belonging is fundamental to our lives and when there are public occasions when we fall outside of that, it can be lonely indeed.

What can we do personally about belonging, when we feel we are outside of it, because that’s what it amounts to, doesn’t it? Taking charge of a situation and choosing what we will do with it? I’m inclined to think creatively and yes, inclusively. Perhaps inviting other single friends over to share a meal. Make it a pot luck and bring on the flowers, wine and chocolate. Enjoy the evening and be surrounded by people you enjoy. Create your own belonging in a positive and meaningful way.

Creating belonging through acts of kindness to others

Or perhaps you can create belonging for others by doing random acts of kindness. Love gestures if you will. For instance, consider buying a bunch of tulips for residents at a nursing home. They can either be placed in a common room or you can ask that individual stems be given to residents who don’t have many interactions with the outside world.  When we think about others and look to how we can make a difference in their lives, it elevates our mood and helps us connect with our humanity.

Life is what we make it, at any stage and age. We can choose to stay sequestered and further disengage or we can choose to connect with others in ways that are meaningful. Regardless of the Valentine’s frenzy, may you find a moment in which you can reflect with gratitude on your life and the gifts within it.

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