Valentine’s Day is all about love.  Love your spouse, your kids, your dog, your mom, your friends.  Love on everybody.

Can you do me a favor and also love on yourself?

For the best valentine you can find is inside you.

Yes, the love that you have for yourself is the most important love of all.

Whether you have a large family, lots of friends, a terrific spouse/partner and an awesome support system, or if you feel completely alone.

Think about it.  YOU have to live with yourself 24/7.  No one else spends more time with you than you.  You’ve been through the most incredible, powerful things with yourself.

Things like being born.  Going away overnight from your parents for the first time.  Going to school.  Learning to drive.  Taking that once-in-a-lifetime trip.  Starting that fabulous career. Seeing a dream shatter to pieces.  Losing a loved one.  Regretting decisions you made when you were young.  Meeting The One.  Marrying him.  Divorcing him.  Getting that promotion. Getting fired.  Getting pregnant.  Having a baby.  Or losing a baby.

Sure, you’ve had people help you along the way, do things with you, teach you things, listen to you when you need to talk.  But people in our lives come and go.  YOU are the only one who has been through EVERYTHING in your life with you.  You’re the best BFF you’ll ever have.

Aren’t you lucky to have YOU to always be there for you?

When I was 32 years old, I realized a dream I’d had since I was 18.  I went on an amazing trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu, Peru.  I went with a great group of people on a pilgrimage led by a Peruvian shaman.  We hiked up the path to Machu Picchu.  The view was obstructed.  As the Lost City of the Incas started to emerge in front of us, Jorge, the shaman, had us close our eyes, and walk single file, holding the hands of the person in front of and behind us.

When we got to the top he arranged us in a line and before we could open our eyes he told us that to find true spiritual freedom we didn’t have to look any further than within ourselves. I burst into tears.

And then I opened my eyes. That incredible view, the immense power of the place, its energy, finally being in Machu Picchu after longing to see it for so long – it was all overpowering.  I couldn’t stop crying.

I knew I was also crying because of Jorge’s words.  I was lonely, unhappy, unfulfilled, and felt completely alone in the world.  I knew in that moment that I didn’t love myself and that I needed to learn how to do so to be truly happy and free.

FullSizeRenderMachu Picchu at last! August 2002

In the years since 2002, when I first made this discovery, I’ve continually been tested with the lessons of self-love. I wanted to leave my job.  I was paralyzed with fear and self-doubt.  I wanted to meet Mr. Right.  He didn’t come along until I was 34, long after all my friends had settled down.  I wanted to get married.  That didn’t happen right away either.  I longed to be a mother.  I went through two miscarriages and a lot of heartache and pain to get there (thankfully, I did get there).

I don’t think that if I had loved myself more or better that those things would have come more easily to me. But I do think that I would have had an easier journey through the pain.  When I started to care more about myself and my well-being I found more courage to leave my job, to bring more love into my life, and create for myself the life I wanted instead of waiting for it to happen.

Why do we love the others in our lives more than we love ourselves?

Why do we treat ourselves with the disrespect and contempt that we wouldn’t dream of inflicting on another person?

Why do we put ourselves down, when we wouldn’t ever trash talk others?

Why do we support others in their goals yet sabotage ourselves through negative self-talk?

Why did it take me having to go all the way to the top of Machu Picchu to finally wake up about how I’d felt about myself my entire life?

I don’t know the answers to these questions.  I do know that my life is completely different in 2016 than it was in 2002, yet it’s still a struggle to put myself first.  To treat myself the way I deserve to be treated, and love myself the way I deserve to be loved.  By the ONE person who knows me best… me.  So I’m still on the journey, but I’m excited to celebrate myself this Valentine’s Day and all the things I love about myself!

Self-Love-in-Sand