This past Sunday was Valentine's Day in America.
Valentine's Day is a funny little holiday. There are people, like me, who absolutely love it. There are people who abhor it, sulk, and call it "singles awareness day" or something along those lines. There are people who call it a "Hallmark holiday" and choose to ignore it all together. It's almost like our politics!
Anyhow, I love the holiday and maybe I love it because I like that there is a day to remind us to love. Maybe if the message behind the day wasn't so focused on romantic love + gift giving love, it might feel different; a bit better?
I have for a while now celebrated Valentine's Day with sharing CDs of mixed songs relating to love with my girlfriends. Many of them are now married, some of them are still single, some are even divorced, or engaged, or have become a parent. Some are out in the world traveling. the mixes hit each of them differently. Some of the women who received the very first one nine mixes ago are no longer on the receiving end of this tradition - some never really cared for the mixes to begin with. Some of the women are still receiving them. It's interesting how this little project of mine cycles around. This year's mix is my 9th and I can't even believe in a few months I'll begin to tackle the 10th mix. It's funny to think of the nine years that have gone by - these mixes are a way to track those years.
As I worked on this year's mix and on getting them together to mail out - they still are a tangible item - I've thought a lot about hearts and this project and the concept of love.
Love is one of the most innate parts of us. Love fuels us and drives us and keeps us going even when we have nothing left. Sometimes we feel the love, sometimes we don't. My annual mixes were created out a need to share love - to show my friends "who cares if we don't have men we love romantically, our love for each other is just as inspiring and nurturing!"
The same can be said about #HeartedS2. When I zeroed in on the hearts I was seeing, almost three years ago, I was lost and shattered and while I knew I was loved, I felt unloved. It took a trip, solo travel around one big City and one small Country, lack of language, and signs from nature to remind me I was loved. Even when I don't feel it, especially toward myself, it is there and around me; my actions and intentions are a reflection of the love that is always inside me.
This past week, I have only taken pictures of a handful of hearts I've seen. At the same time, I've received quite a few hearts from friends who have sent me emails and text messages with photos of hearts that have filled my heart with so much joy. See, I've seen quite a few hearts, but I haven't bothered to take pictures of them. I haven't bothered to talk about or share those hearts. Sometimes, we need to experience the heart in that moment. We need to smile, acknowledge what we know as truth and reality and move forward.
I remember when I decided to launch this project, a good friend shared with me that Drew Barrymore, yes, the actress, was releasing a book all about hearts. At the time, I didn't know that this heart project was quite the phenomenon. I seriously thought I was being original! Ha! I remember feeling a sense of deflation once I realized how many heart projects like mine there are out there. I remember thinking, "well, who is going to care about the hearts I see?" Yet, I continued and this site exists because of it. It is truly a mark of mine now. It is why friends send me pictures of hearts all the time. But more importantly it is why people have started to notice the hearts and while they give me credit for them noticing the hearts, I give them credit for being open to the magic of this experience.
If you go on Instagram or Facebook or even do a simple search of hearts online, you'll come up with endless photos and blogs of hearts in nature. It's incredible really. It shows how we all are a bit of hopeful romantics. This is encouraging in so many ways, but it also inspires me sometimes to keep my hearts to myself. Sometimes I have to because it's a quick heart that shows up in my kitchen sink as I'm washing dishes. Sometimes it's a sharp shadow that I see on the ground while I'm walking. Sometimes it might be a figment of my imagination, but it doesn't make that heart any less real. In those instances, those hearts are not shared and that's perfectly fine. What matters is the feeling of love you feel in that moment and that is greater than all the heart images on my instagram account or on facebook.
If you come across a heart and you're not certain, keep it to yourself. You probably need that heart more than you know. You are not wrong for keeping it and cherishing it. In fact, I encourage you to do that! Not all hearts need to be shared. Not all hearts need to be documented. Not all hearts are for for show.