"Love, love, love all you need is love"

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The Beatles captured a universal feeling that all of us can relate to. Love. There is a  strong attraction to romance, causing our hearts to soar and influence many of us to commit a life time to another person. While this type of love may feel the most powerful to some; the love between parent and child is an indescribable bond. Lifetime friendships that are really more like sisterhood and brotherhood that are sewn together by choice and love. Feeling love binds us all together.

As the oldest of many siblings there came a time in which my feelings of being annoyed and pestered by my younger siblings shifted. Somewhere in the self absorbed years of being a teen; I also became aware of my role as the oldest child. It is possible this came from the responsibilities that parents often place on the oldest child. However, the shifting feelings went beyond baby sitting or driving them to a friend's house. There came a moment when I realized that I would be willing to do anything for my sisters, should there ever come a time it was needed. I knew that even though my siblings annoyed me for years, I would care for them. It was shocking to realize I love them. Without knowing it at the time; my love could be seen, in all the actions I took out of responsibility.

Maybe the role of oldest sibling helped prepare me for my work as a Marriage Family Therapist; in the same way early relationships and bonds prepare everyone for their future roles in life. Everyday I have the opportunity to work with couples, parents, children, families and individuals. The concern and goals are vast, complicated and painful. Yet, passing them though a filter of love may help put some perspective on the challenges families face. What is love? What does love look like? How does love feel?

"To love is nothing. To be loved is something. But to love and be loved, that's everything."
 -Themis Tolis

The dictionary defines love as intense feelings, fondness, warmth and tenderness. These feelings can be crushing and wonderful at the same time. The feeling of love though, if it stops there, is limiting. Feelings are really nice for the one who feels them. When we treat love as an action, we begin to understand why, "All we need is love."

Saint Valentine and the month of February remind us to renew our commitment to love. Saint Valentine acted, secretly marrying men and women, against the orders of Emperor Claudius ll,  who ordered a ban on marriage. Even as he was imprisoned for his disobedience, he fell in love. On the day of his death, he penned a letter to his love, signing, "Your Valentine." An act of love.

As we all celebrate this month, I hope we will love in action. Remember:

Have fun with the ones you love. The fun times and good times carry us through.

Spend quality time with loved ones. Consider what speaks to the heart of your love.

Show your gratitude. Regular expression of gratitude not only fills you with peace and love but fills others.

Be affectionate

Be kind, even when it is difficult.

♥ Take as many opportunities as you can to verbalize you feelings. When you see something you like or appreciate, remember to tell them.

Of course love is not limited to one month. We can be inspired to intentionally show love throughout the year. As we dream and plan of all the ways to delight our loved ones, consider one more person to add to the list. YOU! Yes, add yourself to the list of people to love. Most of us have been taught to take care of ourselves and we may even have good intentions to do so. But what about truly loving you? When did you last have fun doing something you wanted to do? And what about quality time with you? Quick, name three things you have gratitude for, regarding you. When you talk to yourself (we all do it), what is it you say? It is easier to love others when you love yourself.

I hope each person will be filled with gratitude for all the love in their life. Take all the opportunities presented to you and act on love. Let the joy of the day create momentum that will carry you for the next year. Remember, “There is nothing you can do that can't be done. It's easy."

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