As we approach “Valentine's Day season,” I wanted to send a Valentine's Day card to each and every one of you. And then I decided, better yet, I want you to send a Valentine's Day card to yourself. It’s appropriate you know. Just think of all the messages we hear on Valentine’s Day: “I couldn’t live without you.” “You make my life complete.” “I am so glad I found you.” Too many of us go through this life thinking that the only love that’s real is the love that comes from others. But we crave our own self-respect and awe even more. So just for a moment, please appreciate who you are, how much you’ve soared through and endured in this lifetime, how many animals, plants, and people you’ve loved, all you’ve learned, lost, transformed, survived and dared. Aren’t you a knockout? The right answer is yes, no matter what. Because if you don't go through this life as a lover of your soul, you're missing the ride.

There are a million faces and nuances to self-love and I do hope you will learn, practice, and employ them all with frequency and intensity throughout your lifetime. But here’s three roses for your soul that I’d like to offer you this month. Remember, self-love is the practice that allows your best life to unfold.

1. I accept myself:
Self-acceptance is the key to a graceful life. Anything less, means living in a war zone. Nothing good or productive happens in battle. Carl Rogers, a famous humanistic psychologist said, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” Acceptance doesn't mean settling or stagnation. It means acknowledging the reality of the moment without rejection or condemnation.

As a young woman, I hated my body. I wanted to look like the models I saw in the magazines. I despised myself for eating chocolate, smoked to stay thin, developed anorexia, and lived in the misery of constant self-rejection. When I healed, I came to accept that I will never have the body of a model, but I can have a healthy body and I can love myself while on the journey of getting there. For me, self-acceptance, means staying in the present moment and not making my whole life dependent on the circumstances of this minute. My worth and potential do not depend on whether I take a nap today or only have a certain amount of money in my bank account. Self-acceptance means that I allow the reality of the moment to be the reality of the moment, but it doesn’t have to be the reality of my lifetime.

2. I forgive myself:
You will never have a future that shines, if you can't forgive yourself for yesterday’s less than perfect actions. You are always doing the best you can in any given moment. You always deserve new chances. New direction comes from new chances. If I refuse to forgive myself, I refuse to move on into a different future. I resign myself to a never-ending painful past.

One of the things that I learned in writing a book over a period of twelve years, was that every time I approached my desk, I needed to show up with innocence and attention. That meant that if I had a rotten day the day before, the kind where you stare into space and wonder what would have happened if you’d dated that boy in fifth grade, organize your blue pens then your black ones, read about Jennifer Lopez in People magazine, and other time piranhas, I needed to erase that day and begin again. Here’s something I teach in writing workshops--but it applies to everything. “Leave behind your ghosts. Show up with spirit.” Some people actually think that toting around guilt is a way of taking responsibility. But accumulated guilt actually gets in the way of taking responsibility. You’re feeling so bad about the past that you’re unavailable to your present--and now you’ll have even more reason to think you failed. Start over new and do the best you can. A fantastic present will help you heal the past.

3. I express myself:
The Sufi poet Hafiz says, “What we speak, becomes the house we live in.” I’ll add that what we don’t speak, also becomes the house we live in, often a drafty, cob-webby, haunted one Staying true to what you think and feel is your core energy and it is fed and strengthened when expressed. The opposite is true too. There is a wonderful quote attributed to Jesus from the Gnostics Gospel of St. Thomas. “If you bring forth that which is within you, that which is within you will save you. If you do not bring forth that which is within you, that which is within you will destroy you.”

I used to want the approval of others so bad, that I would stuff down my needs, preferences, opinions, and feelings and scrunch myself into whatever image someone else liked. I’d just say yes to whatever others suggested so that maybe I’d glean a smile or an emotional pat on the back. But ironically the more I sought the approval of others, the more I needed it. Because the more I silenced my feelings, the more invisible, empty, and sad I became.

Honor yourself and all of us by speaking with the tongue of your soul. There is only one you. And we need to receive your point of view. We need to receive your gifts, your creation, your love made visible, and the way the light appears to you. There is an unspeakable joy that comes from expressing your gifts. There is a marked sense of peace and wholeness. When you express yourself, you express your love. And that is what you’re here for.

May Cupid strike your heart with a thousand arrows of self-love this month. May you giggle in the sheer delight of who you are. May you become even more of who you are by nurturing, loving, and growing all that you’ve been given. Take your soul out to dinner, buy him or her chocolates, scatter roses at his or her feet, and dance for all you’re worth---for you are worth the sun and stars, the moon and sea, the mountains and wild flowers, and, most of all, the dance.

Copyright 2008 Tama J. Kieves, All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Tama J. Kieves is the best-selling author of THIS TIME I DANCE! Creating the Work You Love/How One Harvard Lawyer Left It All to Have It All! She is also a sought-after speaker and career coach who has helped thousands world-wide to discover and live their creative dreams. Learn more about Tama’s workshops and coaching or sign up to receive FREE monthly inspiration and tools for your creative life journey at www.AwakeningArtistry.com. Download her free report on “Finding Your Calling Now” at www.AwakeningArtistry.com.