Friday, February 1, 2013

February is National Heart Month in the USA

Already the valentines are flooding the card sections, Colombia is hopeful that the annual demand for flowers for lovers will help balance out the export column for the country, and I am sighing my annual sigh of angst for the flowers or cards that don't grace my door. In Colombia, it is in mid-September that "Special Friends or Lover's Day" occurs, so February there is simply a month to recuperate from Christmas and New Year's celebrations and to embrace the quiet because there are no long weekends with tourists.

But in the U.S. it is everywhere - movies, TV, internet, magazines, newspapers - and in schools across the land there are going to be little boys or little girls who, for one reason or another, don't get what they are expecting or hoping for on Feb. 14th and it will, I promise you, leave a lasting memory of what disappointment is all about.

I am personally against doing the card-exchange in schools. It is a chance for the bullies to work their particular kind of wretched behavior on those they have already targeted for abuse, and it is that kind of torture that young children do not need to experience.

Who really benefits from these so-called expressions of love? And why do the schools perpetuate something that does not really teach the students what love is?

John Gardner, Stanford '33 and MA '36 wrote an essay for the Stanford Alumni Magazine in March 1994 entitled 'The Road to Self-Renewal' and if you want to read it in its entirety, here is the link. He wrote, "We build our own prisons and serve as our own jail keepers, but I've concluded that our parents and the society at large have a hand in building our prisons."

His premise is that the roles that get created for us by parents, teachers, our peers and yes, even the bullies, can stick with us for a lifetime until or unless we as individuals take on the task of self-renewal, dealing with the ghosts of the past; failures, traumas, grievances and resentments. These injuries, imagined or real, take their toll both in limitations and frustrations sometimes causing illnesses that further limit us.

Gardner adds, "Life is an endless unfolding and, if we wish it to be, an endless process of self-discovery."

Hearts by Danilo Rizzuti
In this month of February, the U.S.'s national focus on the heart, I hope my readers far and wide will take the time to think about what love really is, and how we are all responsible for our own lives. In the Episcopalian Order of Service, there is a prayer that serves as a reminder to me that I am not perfect, never will be, but I seek His forgiveness and try again to forgive those who have caused me pain.

"Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone." But most especially I have 'sinned' against myself in not letting go of those past ghosts allowing me to be more loving, more giving, more of who I am supposed to be. Forgiveness is not really for the other(s), but for me, so that I am free.

The message of Jesus Christ was "Forgive them for they know not what they do." For me He is the icon of true and untrammeled Love and without pushing my beliefs on those who have their own, many of the religious sects have in their concepts an image or icon that represents the energy of Love.

I hope these words fall on fertile ground for you to renew your contract of living and loving and find your way to forgiveness of Self and that you can celebrate this month of the heart with great joy and love!


  1. Sandy you are so right about the disappointment that Valentine's Day creates. I too have yet to learn forgiveness for the damage others have done to me. I still live in hope that one day I will.

    I will try to remember to send you a Valentine's Card on the day, if I forget forgive me, I do love you. X

    1. This reply is Valentine enough for me, Lorna, and I love you and Mike, too! Big hugs!

  2. Hi Sandy! I love this post and I echo some of your sentiments and beliefs. But, I do love Valentine's Day. :) Always have. I teach second grade and my little kiddos exchange valentines on the 14th. They are required, however, to have one for EVERYONE in the class if they choose to exchange (I send a list of everyone's names home). Guess it's different for the little ones. More about the party and getting hopped up on sugar. I do remember in high school when students could send each other carnations. Only the popular girls had about a million plastered to their lockers! Take care, Elizabeth

  3. When I was in grade school - a long, long time ago now - we did not have such caring teachers as you moderating the exchanges. I was wearing very thick glasses even in fifth grade (legally blind even then without them!!) and it made me a less desirable Valentine to those young boys. I would have been a wallflower at the school dances, but my mother insisted I take my glasses off because "boys never make passes at girls who wear glasses..." and I couldn't even see the wall!! (LOL now, but not then)

  4. dear sandy,

    what a heartfelt and timely post. you invite us to look around and see opportunities to focus on love and forgiveness, to consider heartbreak and disappointment - both our own and others - so that we can heal, and beyond that, we can look for ways to get outside of ourselves and and be thoughtful and kind to people who may have hurting hearts, feel left out, and may be lonely.

    i still remember a little boy in my first grade class. all us students spent the time before valentine's day making post office boxes to receive valentines from our classmates. when it was time to reach inside to see our cards, the little boy began to cry; he had not received a single valentine. from anyone. we had been instructed to give our cards to our "special friends", but not single child consider him "special" to them. of course, that incident changed the way cards were exchanged - students were to bring cards for all their classmates. but the damage was done to that broken hearted little boy, as well as to all of us who witnessed, heard his heartwrenching crying in pitieous disappointment. i never forgot that boy, and wondered all these years if just a tiny part of his heart still remains a bit broken.

    it makes me cringe, that memory, but it has also served as an impetus to reach out and try to bring happiness to others. and things have changed, thank heaven! our grandchildren attend a small village school that values and teaches kindness, consideration and love as important components of a good education in which young children are encouraged to see themselves as good citizens of the world.

    it's good to be reminded that we can be instruments of love, reconcilation, and good, and that every small gesture to share a little of the light we all have within us to make it even brighter really counts. i love this post, sandy. and i love you.

    xoxo, karen, TC

    1. Karen, you touched my heart yet again with your posting. And I love you, too. Thank you for taking the time to share that story. It reminded me of something I did when I was in third grade. There was a fellow named Paul Tatro who lived near the town dump in my class. He didn't have new clothes and often smelled because his family didn't have running water. (In NH this must have been very hard in the winter.) Anyhow, it was spring and we had 'teeter-totters' but of course they were useless if you didn't have someone on the other end to go up and down with you. Paul asked several kids to get on, but they wouldn't and finally I simply walked up and plunked myself down on the other end. My girlfriends were mean to me later, making jokes about how I was now Paul's stinky girlfriend, but I ignored them and whenever he was out in the playground, he knew he could depend on me to be the other side of the teeter-totter. I wonder where he is now, and if he remembered this event in his life. I know how it made me feel... that I could make someone smile just by doing something kind and I've tried to continue that all these years. I wasn't always a good parent, but I hope my other good acts are totted up for some kind of balance one day.

  5. dear sandy,

    funny how the memories of your paul and my poor classmate stayed in our minds all these years - or did they stay in our hearts? yes, i think in our hearts - because there was something transformative in those experiences in that it often seems to be our hearts that remember, and shape and reaffirm our ability to feel compassion and empathy for other hearts that are hurting. and at such a young age you not only felt those things, you rejected your peers' uncharitable reactions and found the power and rightness of kindness. and i am sure that even though we make mistakes of all kinds and degrees, it's the striving to rise above them and our wish to be a better person that really counts.

    love, XO,

    karen, TC