Dearest You, 

However you celebrate/don’t celebrate/acknowledge/don’t acknowledge Valentine’s Day, I invite you to allow it to be a day for reflecting on Love. Not the kind that is sold to us with flowers, or the kind we inherit from dysfunctional families, or the kind we mirror from toxic (but thoroughly enjoyable) rom coms. 


One of the greatest gifts of my life that I've received through therapy has been the realization that I could not have good love until I created a healthy definition of love.  

It was not my ability to love and be loved that held me back from being in healthy loving relationships, but my toxic definition of love that kept me in relationships and friendships that did not honor me.  

Once I began to focus on how I defined love, I found that wherever it was not present was GLARING.  As if those relationships were crying out to me,


 “GIRL! Why are you even here!?” 


 My previous definitions of love always put everyone else’s needs first, they were not relationships based on reciprocity. In some cases,  they were relationships that were only possible if my needs and I were invisible. I don’t think I’m alone when I admit to being in relationships where only one person and their needs were allowed to be centered. Of course, the consolation prize of these toxic dynamics is that you get to feel “special” because you’re the only one who “understands them”.

But...who was understanding me? 

Needless to say, my life was filled with narcissists running amok!

When I defined love for myself,  I could see so clearly when it was around me and when it wasn’t.  I was able to shed the relationships that no longer belonged to me and step more deeply into the ones that kept me safe.  

This Valentine’s Day I encourage you to think about Love.  Good Love.  To create your own definition.  Your own standard.  

 One definition I love that Bell Hooks references in her book,  All About Love, is by M. Scott Peck, 

“Love is the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth".   

When I began the journey of defining love for myself, I started by writing down words that felt loving. 

Some of those were: 

reciprocity, consistency, support, kind, consideration, compassion,  listening,  intention, awareness... etc.

What are some words that feel loving to you?  


When we spend less time plotting how to get love or give love, and more time deeply considering the quality of love we want in our lives, we find the nurturing energy and clarity we need to heal our wounds and wrap ourselves in the real and powerful joy we deserve.  

Somebody put that on a hallmark card. 

with love,




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