Learning to Fly Away

The streets of Copenhagen were full of lights – tiny, sparkling, circular spots that led the way through the colorful town. They were meant to guide the bike riders through the night, but in my red wine haze, I excitedly told James, my dear (and cheeky) British bestie: People say that New York’s streets sparkle, but these really do!

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He rolled his eyes at me and took another puff of his cigarette as I rushed ahead to match his quick pace, hooking his arm to slow him down. We had just finished a three-course Valentine’s dinner, along with celebratory champagne and a bottle of wine, and we were making our way back to our hotel to drop off the rose I found along the way. Do you think someone lost it? I asked James with concern, to which he said: No, I put it there for you. Take it, silly!

I was twirling it around in my hand, slowly picking off the thorns so they wouldn’t prick me when we stumbled across a store window that caught our eye:

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I Hope You Fall in Love With Yourself This Year…

Four years later – you’ve written more than 200 self-love letters on Valentine’s Day. Every year I read these letters, sometimes with a glass of wine, and my heart just swells. How incredible it is that so many of you – from Australia to Wyoming – are taking a (very special) moment to remember what makes you so lovely. Because you are – you are so full of sass, smarts, kindness, beauty, hope, power, strength, courage and of course… love.

On Valentine’s Day and always, from my heart to yours, never forget the words you’ve written below. And if you haven’t written anything -that’s ok! – I dare you to put something on paper. You’ll be amazed at how cleansing and empowering it really is to simply… be loved by yourself.

 

Lindsay Aurora Tigar, 

10247462_10101105061669648_7766286907397873369_n-1This year, you’ve left me a little speechless. Which is a rarity for you – considering you live your life through words, both written and often, excitedly spoken. I think your mom probably said it best when you went South to visit for the holidays: “You’re so full of love, Linds, I can just feel it. You’re bursting.”

And you are.

Like you always have, you set your mind to do something in 2014, and damn it – you did it. You finally let go of the past and you forgave yourself for being imperfect. You forgave New York and all of the men and all of the frustrations for not working on your timeline, and you then went an extra step: you threw that to-do list away and you started living your life.

A year later, you have now stamped your passport with England, France, Italy, and right now, when this letter publishes, you’ll be in Denmark (and possibly swinging by Sweden for dinner, simply because you can). You have worked so incredibly hard to make your freelancing career take off – and now your byline is, well, everywhere. You always dreamed of writing a book one day… and now you have an agent (a real agent!). You had the courage to leave a bad job that made you unhappy to take a chance on a start-up that you’ve fallen in love with (and loves you back). You wanted to move downtown and be closer to the scene, and you wanted roommates you could also be friends with, and here you are in this East Village apartment, listening to C hum in the kitchen while she cooks. You wanted to be kinder to yourself and to your body, and you are more active than you’ve ever been, you put better things in your body, and girlfriend – you look awesome. You worked hard for that body – and you’re still working. I love that you remind yourself that you’re (more than) enough almost every single day, it’s important. Don’t stop doing that.

And love? Well. You’re a bit disappointed that almost three-and-a-half years since you last broke up with someone, you’re still wondering where that special guy is. But I tell you something: he’s definitely somewhere. I wish I knew where (then you’d stop worrying so much about it) – but I do know he exists. And I also know you’ll meet him one very fine day, but in the meantime, you’re doing a pretty incredible job of spreading love everywhere you go. To readers, to your friends, to your Facebook friends (they aren’t always the same), to your co-workers, to your dog (and her puppy friends), to your family near and far, to strangers on the street – literally, to everyone.

And that has made you bursting with love, like your mom noticed. Maybe more importantly, you can feel it. You feel that love in your heart – it’s warm, it’s powerful, it can’t be contained. You want to spread it. You want people to have hope. You want people to be full of fire and magic and endless positivity. You are one of the most thoughtful, caring, good-spirited and yet, incredibly sassy and confident women I’ve met. Everyone tells you that your eyes are beautiful – and they are, but mostly because of the person that’s shining from behind them. Keep sharing your heart with the world. Keep traveling and seeing the world. Keep believing in goodness, in romance, in butterflies, in your dreams, in yourself.

I won’t tell you to stop worrying – a part of you always will. But every once in a while, Linds? Maybe after yoga or when you’re walking those two miles to and from work each day, stop. Take a deep breath. Look at all of the things unfolding around you. Own the part of the universe that you make better. Smile that beautiful smile of yours (with your teeth!). Love with that beautiful soul. And my love, one day, you will have what you want. The book. The house. The bylines in prestigious publications. The kitchen that’s actually big enough to cook in. The backyard for Lucy. The passport that needs more pages for more stamps. The babies. The income to allow more freedom. And yes, the man, that love of your life.

It will all be there one day, but today, on Valentine’s Day, and all the time, stop. Relax. Dance. Believe. Share. Live with your heart out loud.
With all my heart, Linds, 26, New York City

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Write a Love Letter… To Yourself!

One of my favorite things to ever come from Confessions of a Love Addict is the annual self-love letter writing campaign. Over the past four years, you’ve written more than 200 letters of confidence, kindness, beauty, passion and strength… to yourself.

When you’re single – or when you’re in a relationship – it’s sometimes difficult to take a step back and truly appreciate all of the incredible things that make you… you. From the way you walk and talk to how you treat your best friends and the special gifts that only you have – there are so many things that make you one-of-a-kind.

I’m happy to introduce the 5th annual (wow!) Self-Love Letters on Confessions of a Love Addict.

Here’s how to participate:

1- Fill out this form. Remember – you can be totally anonymous! Or if you’re a blogger, I’m happy to link back to your blog. And you’re welcome to send along a photo, drawing, graphic – anything -that you’d like to go along with your letter.

The deadline to submit is Monday, February 9th

2- If you need inspiration, check out 2011‘s, 2012‘s, 2013‘s and 2014‘s letters.

3- Check back on the blog on Valentine’s Day to see your letter. If you feel like, share it with those you love!

4- Check back on February 15th to see if you won the fun prize!

5- Love yourself. Love everything.

Dear Wonderful You and Me:

Happy Valentine’s Day, addicts! I’m thrilled to publish Confessions of a Love Addict’s 4th Annual Self-Love Letters! I’m so impressed with everyone’s beautiful words and affirmations. Regardless if you’re single, in a relationships, still sleeping with your ex, on the verge of a breakup, getting ready to start a new love affair, married or any other stage – today and always, never forget just how wonderful you are.

Love begins with yourself and then can grow in so many amazing ways.

I’ll announce the winner of the giveaway on Monday, so make sure to check back then to see if you’ve won. I hope this Valentine’s Day brings you as much love as all of you have given me for the past three-and-a-half years. To the love ahead and to the love we’ve already found! xo

Dear Lindsay darling,

68346_10101003609131348_724169834_nIf someone would have told you just how much you would change in the past year, you wouldn’t have believed them. From the outside – everything looks pretty much the same: you have a steady job, you live in your prized Upper West Side apartment, you still have incredible friends and yes, you’re still rockin’ that single status. But inside – you’ve become this incredible, optimistic, lovely force that is so brave, you surprise yourself.

But it hasn’t been easy. In fact, it’s been really hard.

You’re no stranger to hard work – it’s how you’ve gotten everything you wanted: to live in New York, to work in media, to establish a life for yourself far, far away from the Southern home that raised you to be kind-hearted and brazen. I’m so proud of your grit and your smile as you get through it. Last year your company crumbled, your father battled cancer and struggled through recovery, your friendships changed and you finally put Mr. Possibility back in the past where he belonged all along. Through it all, you cried a lot. You became frustrated and frazzled, disappointed and disheartened. There were times when all you wanted to do was pack up your bags and move somewhere far, far away where you wouldn’t have to face anything anymore. You had never considered giving up, not even once, in your 25 bright years, but what you wanted more than anything was for something to give.

Anything.

But on a snowy day in December as you rummaged through your thoughts and felt your hope drifting away yet again, you realized you had a choice: to be happy or to not be. And somewhere down in your mini-little-pit of despair, you found that sparkle that’s always made you, you. And you decided to stop waiting to your life to change, for something big and bright to come along and sweep you away. You stopped waiting on the universe to rescue you – and instead, you rescued yourself.

And though you’re only six weeks into the year – I’m so amazed at how much your perspective has changed. You feel like your bubbly, beautiful, energetic self again. Your heart is open to possibilities and love, your mind is overflowing with new ideas and new dreams you didn’t know you had until you made them. You’re taking better care of your body and your bank account than you ever have before. You are a better friend with a better listening ear, trying to put the needs of others before your own. And with dating? You’re doing it. But it’s not the source of your happiness and you’re so thankful that you don’t have to rely on a man to find joy in your life.

There will be times when you forget all of these wonderful, impressive, sweet truths. There will be moments when everything feels like it’s crumbling all around you again. You’ll cry. You’re get infuriated. You’ll feel like you’re screaming in the middle of a crowded subway cart and no one can hear you. But when you do, I hope you remember these words straight from your own mouth:

You are a one-in-million woman. You are full of goodness and beauty, and your heart is so vast, you don’t even realize how loving you are. You make people feel special. You make them feel like they matter. You are encouraging and vibrant, and trust me, you do not go unnoticed. As you’ve been figuring out – nothing is going to be perfect. Nothing will go according to plan. But you, my darling firecracker of a Tigar, you will always find a way. And that love you’ve been aching for, that special feeling that has felt so absent for so long – it won’t be gone forever. I promise. Try not to worry about it – the best things of your life are still ahead of you. I can’t see them just yet – but I know they’re there. And I definitely know you’ll get there.

Keep sparkling, keep believing, keep that pretty chin up. Love ya. -Linds

Dear Little Radiant Self who has come into this world with so much,

I bet you thought you would never be here, right? I bet you thought that the journey you worked so hard through would never end, right? If you look back to your life two years ago, I bet you are saying to yourself, “wow I am completely unrecognizable”, but all for the best. Because now you have finally found the best in you. All those beautiful parts that have been hidden and bruised for so long. That scared little butterfly which has been waiting to spread its wings is now ready to fly. Congratulations little radiant self for making it through such incredible times of adversity and finally growing into the woman you’ve always wanted to be. The woman who you love so deeply because you’ve fought to become her. The woman who doesn’t care that it will soon be Valentines Day and could possibly be dateless. That dateless woman who no longer needs a man to define her worth. The one who sees relationships as gifts, and not as needs. Roses as things, and chocolates as extra added pounds that she rather waste on a hearty bowl of pasta while enjoying wine with her best friends on a Saturday night. The friends who have stood by your side to watch you grow and never forgot to remind you along the way that eventually you would be exactly where you are. The universe has promised you that this journey would not be in vain, and you would have everything you need.

So this Valentines Day, whether there is a man or not, I ask that you celebrate the truest and greatest love of all; the one you have reinvented with yourself. And whenever you feel the urge to dwell on the past, relinquish it, smile and remember what it has taught you. And even better, how it has prepared you to be ready for the love you are seeking, and that it is finally your time for the universe to bring it to you. Not only on Valentines Day, but this year in general is where you will reap the rewards of all those difficult lessons you’ve battled. You know, the ones that you questioned what the purpose was? Well now you know.

So dear little radiant and beautiful self, I hope this Valentine’s Day you will celebrate the gift of love, respect it, own it, nurture it, and value it. Because after all, you created it. Love, Me. –Beautiful Optimist

Dear Me,

Wow. We are almost thirty and who would have thought that we would be here. We’ve been through a lot the last few years but we have come out of the darkness stronger and brighter than I could have ever  imagined us being. The last few years were especially dark and painful, but you’ve come out even stronger then even I realized you could be. You will continue to become a stronger woman and person in your own skin. Your internal beauty will start coming out more and more and you will continue to light up the room with your infectious personality and smile. You know you are not broken maybe a bit bruised at times, but you continually smile through any pain this growing stronger daily. You have realized that happiness is something only you can control. You will find someone that wants to share in making you happy and likes making your face light up the room. You are not lonely and never will be, your family loves you and so do your friends, you will find your special someone when you least expect it and all your hidden dreams will become reality. I will always love you and will always have your best interests at heart even if you don’t see it at the time.  –Love, Stephanie

My dear miss…

You are amazing and I love you with all my heart as you are now, unconditionally. You don’t have to be better, you have to be as you are just because you are really great. –With love, ME.

Dear Summer,

summerI am so proud of who you are and what you stand for. You are beautiful and you are doing a good job of believing that about yourself more and more each year. You are very smart and you are good at your job. You don’t often give yourself enough credit either, especially at work. You have good ideas and you are very creative. You are very lucky to have such a wonderful husband who appreciates you and makes you a better person. You have so many of the good qualities of your parents and I know you will be a great mom one day. You have really done better for the past 6 months with anxiety and worrying too much. You should be proud of that. You are thoughtful and funny. This year has been such a good one- you finally moved back west! It took living 5 hours away from your husband for 5 months, which was much harder than you thought it would be, but you got through it. You both made sacrifices to make the life you want to have and now it’s here. You’re back home and you’re about to buy a house. Every year you grow up a little more without really noticing. So take the time to congratulate yourself and reflect upon the accomplishments of your life. You are happy, secure and loved, and you have worked very hard to get here. Happy Valentines Day! –Love, Summer, Boone, North Carolina

Dear Leslie,

I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the absolutely kick ass job you’ve done in the past year of being good to yourself. It took a while for you to embrace this concept; to realize that it’s not being “selfish” to make decisions that enhance your mental and emotional well-being.

Although you’ve second-guessed letting go of “that one”, know that it was truly in both of your best interests to walk away from something that was only perfect because that’s the way he — and you — wanted it to appear. You knew better, and it was brave to walk away this time, before it became something that hardened you once again.

Thanks for opening up your mind and allowing yourself to enjoy life, embrace new things, and push yourself further than you’ve ever done. Sure, you’ve still got work to do, but the transformation has been impressive thus far.

Here’s to more new adventures. More trips to places as far as Mexico and New Orleans, and as near as your new favorite fragrance shop. More spoiling yourself, but in moderation (let’s not forget your physical and financial health in the process). Here’s to loving more and needing less… of anything, anyone and EVERYTHING.

Until next time, keep up the great work, and remember to appreciate the value in each day, each moment, and each person who comes into your life. It’s all worth it… I promise. -Love, Me.

My dearest,

I don’t want you to think that you can’t do anything. That little voice inside of your head may be telling you that the goal you want to reach is too far or too out of your comfort zone, but it’s not. “You can” are the two words that should always be on your mind. Whenever you start thinking about the negative and heart-breaking things that happened in the past, remember those two words.

I remember those times when you lost yourself and didn’t want to be around other people for weeks after a horrible breakup. I’m glad you finally faced those feelings and became the person you are today. You are stronger and smarter than you give yourself credit for. You are worthy of a relationship full of admiration, happiness, and laughter at all times. He didn’t realize your worth and never will. You always seem to be reeled back into seeing him for a night-time rendezvous but anytime the past is brought up, he refuses to acknowledge he did anything wrong. Doesn’t that seem wrong to you? Unless by some godly intervention, he might change but he has dimmed your light far too dark. You can do better. You’re the Queen of your own life. You are cherished, admired, strong, divine, amazing, beautiful and fabulous.

You know what I love about you? You have confidence and yet you deny having any self-confidence at all. The fact that you can walk into a restaurant and be okay with treating yourself to dinner and not think twice that you’re all alone sitting at a booth for two, enjoying reading the paper and catching up on your emails. Though you may not think that you can move to a different city or take that campaign job that you’ve been offered that’s going to take double the work of any other campaign you’ve ever worked on, you can. You’ve always leaned on people to help you out when you’re not sure of the right decision. What you don’t realize is that you just need someone that you trust to back up the decision you’ve already made.

For this Valentines Day go be with your sisters that you’ve kept in touch with these past two years since you’ve graduated. Don’t talk about why you don’t have someone to hold your hand or buy you flowers that are going to die in a few days anyways, talk about what you’re worth and how far you’ve come since those mighty four college years. Your sorority sisters took the oath with you, almost like marriage, to be there through thick and thin. You’ve been there for them when they moved into their new house, gotten engaged and then married, gotten into graduate school, and started a job they love. You’ve also become a stronger more independent person than I think you realize. This past year and a half you went through the ringer with your family when you lost your grandfather, uncle, and grandmother. Your grandmother was your inspiration and the reason why you were holding back from leaving the city that you grew up in, for a job. She would be proud of you for fighting for the common man through the political process and taking a stand on an issue that isn’t always popular. She is telling you now, from heaven above, that you can aspire to do or be anything.

Lastly, enjoy life. Be the fabulous person that you are and don’t let anything hold you back. You can. I love you. -RJW, North Carolina

Dearest Kristine,

unnamed-5You are beautiful. Your heart makes you beautiful. It speaks to the world. Having a conversation with you, a stranger wouldn’t be able to guess the amount of pain, stress, loss and helplessness that you have felt and still do sometimes. Your big smile and your kind eyes tell a different story. They don’t tell a sad story about a girl who’s family is broken, who never felt supported while pursuing her passion, who sheltered her little sister because her parents were to caught up in themselves to, who experienced three big losses in a matter of months, but who was never allowed to grieve. But rather the stories your eyes, smile and sweet personality tell is one of redemption and perseverance. You’re stronger, wiser, more cautious, and a thousand times more loving because of it all. While the past wasn’t the best, it’s over. The way you learned and grew because of that is what the world sees. The world sees your heart shine through in everything you do and it inspires not only me, but it inspires everyone around you. Stay incredible, my love. Stay beautiful. -Love you forever, Your Glitter Diary

Dear Younger Me,

unnamedI know you’re being picked on and teased right now. And I know how rough it is, when all you want to do is please everyone. It can feel like no matter how hard you try…you just can’t seem to be good enough.

Well, I’m writing to tell you that you ARE good enough. I’m not going to lie to you – life doesn’t get easier by any means. But you are a tough, smart, and loving girl. And the people that are picking on you right now? They don’t go anywhere in life. But you will. You will find yourself, and start learning to love yourself. And you deserve it. Don’t ever think that you don’t deserve someone’s kindness, affection, or love.

And one more thing…I want you to remember the kindness and optimism that you have in your heart right now. Hold onto it, cherish it, and never let it go. The world will kick you down sometimes, but that childlike love of the world is what will help you get back up again (over and over). You’re going to be tempted to turn cold, to shut people out, and to scoff at that kindness in your heart. Instead, remember what I’ve said, get back up, and try again with a smile on your face.

You can do this. I know you can. I love you. -ThatCollegeGirl

Dear Kelly,

kellyYou are beautiful. Take those special moments when you realized that you are just a glimmer of that person that used to think so many negative things. You have been through more than most people can say, and are a confident and strong woman. Remember that moment at the lake when he had to stop and what he was doing just to say how beautiful you are and know you deserve it. Remember all those little moments where you looked in the mirror and all that hard work paid off. You are smart, you are beautiful, and you are a force of nature all by yourself. Being with someone only improves you by making each one of you want to be even better person, and that is always your goal. -Eternally Single Kelly

Dear Danielle,

2013 did a number on your heart and emotions. Remember: if they want you there, they’ll put you there. Sex does not equal love. And it’s okay if you turn guys down because they’re not your type or you’re just not interested. Don’t beat yourself up; he was nice but you’re not physically attracted to him and that’s okay. Friends might be more of what you need right now anyway. Make sure you love yourself enough for everyone because they might not always say it back wen you do. This is your year, darling. You’re leaving the dead-end job, going back to school, and pursuing something that ACTUALLY interests you. I’ve never been prouder. You’re absolutely stunning in every way. Open your eyes to that more often. I promise, you’ll thank me later ;) -Love, Danielle

Dear Self,

This is a love letter. And because I love you, I need to tell you some things–and I need for you to listen closely instead of putting up your regular walls to hide away from things that are disturbing. You need to take better care of yourself. You need to learn how to slow down and focus more on being happy rather than being productive. You need to spend time and energy on being nicer to your partner, in particular. You can’t love someone more than anyone else in the world and then treat them as anything less than that—it’s not fair for them to suffer because of your bad behavior, and it’s not fair to you to miss out on any possible moment of happiness with them. Life is short, as you have learned the hard way over the past three years. Instead of trying to make the most of every second with busyness, try breathing deeply and focusing more on intentionally showing love to your partner instead of conquering your to-do lists.

2014 is going to be a great year, but it requires work on your part. Not by doing “things”—you’re great at getting “things” done. Your work will be with your heart, spirit, and mind. Work on learning to not immediately compartmentalize information. Work on slowing down at home. Work on relaxing, Work on trusting your partner completely. Work on being thankful, and considering everything that your partner does as extra rather than something that is expected—because if you continue to hold practically impossible standards for yourself and let that bleed into your expectations of your partner too, then you will never be satisfied. A partnership is more than just sharing to-do lists, after all.

Thank you for listening, Self. I love you very much. You are beautiful, and kind, and worthy of this letter. Please take the time to reflect on what I have told you today, and put my suggestions into practice. They will benefit you, and those around you, I promise. -Sincerely, Self

Hey there, darling.

imageAnother year, another time to reflect on what this year has meant for your heart, and why you continue to fall deeper & deeper in love with the woman you’re becoming. This year has given you so many firsts–buying your first home with your partner, adopting your first cat, seeing Beyoncé in concert for the first time, traveling to many states and cities, and selling your first item on your new etsy shop, and so much more. And these opportunities are presented to you not because you’re lucky–they happen because you deserve them. You work hard. You’re a great partner. You are responsible. You care for others madly and deeply, and the universe continues to reward you. Stop being so worried that it’s being stacked against you just to tumble down–enjoy it. Embrace the good fortune in your life and celebrate all the wonderful people you get so share it with. Rejoice in your good health, strong runners legs, dynamite body, talents, skills, and community. You deserve all of it.

I am so proud of you and your strength. You knew what you needed, and you did it. You were resilient. And now, you reap the benefits. Hell yes.

Enjoy your evening of lobster and Valentines Day episodes of 30 Rock with the love of your life–you both truly deserve every moment you have worked so hard to enjoy together.

I love you, and know the future is so bright. Lets do it, boo. Michelle, Asheville, NC

Hello Gorgeous,

nikkiYou voluptuous vision of greatness! How the heck did you get so fine? Must be all the veggie eating, water drinking, and exercising. Thank you for loving yourself enough to take care of what’s necessary and pave the way for yourself to have a happier, healthier life. By loving yourself, you’re treating yourself better and ensuring a healthier future. Way to go, girlfriend! Even though you’ve got a ways to go, keep shaking your groove thang at Zumba and running like a gazelle on the elliptical. And for the love of all good in the world, thank you for breaking up with Self-Pity, Emotional Eating, Fat Shaming. Those three were hardcore Bitches. Isn’t it better to love you for you? -Love always, Mrs. Healthy Ever After

Dear Me,

Everyone has a time in there life where they encounter a feeling if depression, loneliness, regret and guilt. Endureing those “what if” moments are never easy and trying to keep your self strong and motivated is easier said than done. This past year and half has been filled with all of those emotions and finding out who my true family and friends are. This year, with a new born. It’s time to love my self… Not only for me but for him. No more regrets. No more what ifs. Now is the time to live for the future and love every moment of life. And be humble and grateful for everything and everyone in your life! This year I love me so I can become the worlds best mother. -Love, Me

Dear Me,
Give yourself a break. You’re amazing and you need to start realizing it. Yes, you have things about yourself that you’re unhappy with, but so does everyone. It’s time to start focusing on what makes you so amazing. What do I love about you? Your drive, your passion for helping people, your life goal to try every craft beer ever brewer (seriously, thank you for that one), and I also just love you. You make my day everyday by just being you, and I can’t thank you enough for that.  -Love forever, You

Hey, you.

We’ve had a love-hate relationship for years, but I have to say, I am so freakin’ proud of you. You worked your butt off in college, and here you are—doing what you first set off to do. But something’s missing, and you’re not just going to settle. You keep pursuing those ever-evolving dreams to finally be at peace, happy, living. You’re going to do it. You’re going to rock it. And it’s inspiring. Now go, and finally take those chances. Your future self will thank you a million times over. -xo, Grace

Dear Self,

You’ve learned how to love more this past year. Just when you thought it wasn’t possible, you fell in love deeper with those closest to you, leaving stretch marks on your heart. Having a baby this year changed your heart and soul not to mention your body, but you allowed yourself to heal, to rest, and to trust others, all great challenges for you to overcome.You have never been more determined in your life, so I expect to see great things from you this year. Enjoy your hubby and that new babe this Valentine’s day, you deserve it. –Fatima

Holy Crap Lady.

Over the last couple of week I’ve been trying to think of what to say. I’m not sure I’ll be able to beat the reference number of my last letter to you in 2011. I think instead of the funnies, I’m going to be slightly serious.

I love how you have grown. You’ve been trying to find yourself, but really what you needed to do was to relearn yourself and start to have confidence in all your wonderful qualities again. Frankly, you have a lot of qualities and those who don’t like them can just suck it.

Like for instance, when you get so little sleep you start to giggle, non stop. You can’t do anything about it and there is NOTHING funny to giggle about, but you can’t stop. It’s like suddenly you are making yourself laugh because you know what is happening is completely ridiculous, but you can’t stop what you are doing. Can’t Stop.

I love how you’ve started to become more and more confident in yourself. You know you are beautiful, you know you are more capable of doing things that you think you can’t, you know that you are one hell of a fighter and you know when to stop putting up with stupid crap that you shouldn’t have to deal with. I know you get shy. I know you look at something and think, “Ffs, that’s not something I can do.” I know you look at some of your friends and think, “I love them… I just want to help, they are asking for it, but they don’t really want it,” you can’t help them until they want it. They have to make their own mistakes, so you just stop trying to stop them, because they have their path to go through and you have yours. It’s okay. Paths break apart and path can sometimes come back together. I know you pick out clothing that you’ve never worn because, put it on and think, “I look horrible.” I glad you are getting over by shy, doing the stuff you think you can’t, leaving friends behind that aren’t help you or themselves, and being a little more adventures with colors and clothing style.

I love, you have no idea how much I love this about you, that you have retained the small child in your heart. That you still get excited about things in the world, even if you’ve been through, watch, or done something multiple times. I love that you see feel wonder by things you’ve seen before and NEW things you’ve never seen before. I will always feeling like cheating death, trying to drive up the winding road over by Grandpa’s old house. You wonder if you’ll see the ghost of the witch on the hill behind the forest or lights of an oncoming car and wonder how you’re going to move to the side of the road, when really it’s only a one car road. Disney movies, books turned into movies, books, tulips, your kittens (who aren’t really kittens anymore, but will always be kittens to you), will forever make you so excited and happy you’ll be bouncing around the house for days. You just will. Karaoke will probably ALWAYS scare you shitless, but maybe one day you’ll get back up on the stage by yourself and sing a whole song by yourself without fear, or fearful tears. You can do it.

I know before you were afraid of the future. You were afraid of what was going to happen, how you were going to get back into college, how this or that was going to work out. You felt rushed that you needed to get everything done now, that everything had to happen now or you would disappoint yourself or your mother. I glad, so glad that you’ve relaxed a bit. You know things need to happen, you know you need to get out of the house, you know you need to do this or that… but you don’t feel that rush anymore. Where some people thrive on rushing to do things, that only make you feel anxious and depressed. It’s okay that you can’t do things like other people. I mean, when the hell have you ever thought that you were able to do things at the pace like others can do things? WHEN? I’m so happy and glad you’ve relearned that it’s okay to go at your own pace. You will get things to happen and the things you want to happen will happen.

Last year was filled with so many ups, downs and relearning lessons that you needed to learn. You’ve show the strength that you have always had in yourself, always, and now you’re remembering how to use that strength again. Well, you’ve been using it for awhile without realizing it, but now it’s starting to settle and become a normal use. I love you for that. I love you for reminding me that I’m perfectly imperfect just the way I am. Including all the childness, oddities, “don’t wannas”, fears, and endless happy moments. You are a wonderful, full and bright soul. This life is yours and you get to live it the way you want to.

Love,
The hands attached to your body typing this.
The brain making sure you are well encouraged by this.
The smile that is on your face.
The tired eyes that can clearer see these words.
The heart that is full with happy, proud, and giddy feelings that are ready to burst from your chest. -Shay Rae

Dear Self,

emmaHi there! I know you might be feeling lonely right now, so I just wanted to pop in hello. You are strong and beautiful. You can handle anything that life throws at you. So hang in there! Just do your best; it doesn’t have to be perfect. And always remember to love you for being you. –With Love, Emma

Dear me,

It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it? It’s been a year full of challenges and new opportunities. You didn’t end up where you expected but that’s the beauty of this thing called life, right? This past year may not have given you everything you wanted but it taught you so much more. You are smart, funny, and compassionate. You are beautiful. You learned never to settle for less than your deserve. And most importantly you learned to love yourself; flaws included. So stop beating yourself up because you haven’t found “the one” and don’t have it all figured out just yet. Your time will come and someone will come along and appreciate all you have to offer. Don’t settle. Just wait. The best is yet to come! Emily, Albany, NY

Dear Babycakes,

This is the first valentine’s day you will celebrate being in a relationship. I love how you have wrestled with the fear and thoughts of not being good enough and been someone who can love and be loved. Your resilience and being able to hold on during the toughest times is something that is truly amazing. I only wish you had the strength to get up and walk away from a relationship that is not right for you. maybe it will happen today, tomorrow or on Valentine’s day-whenever it finally happens, I hope you will let this person go in love and remember that you will love again and it will be magnificent. Happy Valentine’s Day! With love, Your voice of confidence <3

Heyyy beautiful ;)

unnamedI love your willingness to always try new things and have FUN. I love your smile and your ability to brighten other people’s days. I love your hard worth ethic and your ambitious goals despite any obstacles that you face. I love your passion for life. Keep on sparkling, GF and never forget how amazing you are!  –XOXO, Tricia

Dear Adriana,

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So look within yourself and see how beautiful you are! Even if you don’t hear it often just know you are special in your own way. It is more important to love yourself and accept yourself than always seeking others approval. Be happy, be you, be lovely. Mistakes and all, you are valuable. –Adriana

Dear you,

You. Complicated li’l you. Sometimes you frustrate me so much, but I can’t help but find you charming, even in your most irredeemable moments.

It took me a while to realize my attraction to you. At first, I kept telling myself you were ugly; your imagined beauty was just that: an illusion. You were not that eye-catching, especially after a stressful week on the job, especially since you couldn’t find enough time to go to the gym to get your ideal figure back.

But something told me “Look closely, look deeper.”

That’s when I noticed the striking contrast between your dark hair and your pale skin, and the three separate Orion’s belt-like constellations made of dainty moles on your body. That’s when I noticed your skin isn’t as congested or as rough as I’d originally thought, nor was your body that pudgy at all. Whether it was in your own way or in a way others turned their head to notice, it didn’t matter; that’s when I realized you were beautiful.

It took me a while to realize you were intelligent, capable. At first, people said you couldn’t do it because you were young, you were a girl, and you were too nice. People said you couldn’t make it in college, in the big city, in a high-pressure job, in grad school, in life.

But something told me “Look closely, look deeper.”

That’s when I noticed you had gotten through everything people said you couldn’t. You had gone to school, exceeded expectation, and graduated with honors. You had gone to the city without permission and made your own decision that it wasn’t for you. You had taken many jobs, some of them you loved, others you hated, but all of them… ALL of them, you had gotten through your own initiative, determination, and hard work. You had found a way to support going back to school because you didn’t have another way of income, and you needed an in for a new job, a new career. Now you’re almost finished with a perfect 4.0 GPA. You found true, honest, deep love after a tragic loss of the very same thing. You keep a roof over your head, even if you struggle sometimes. You speak your mind, you write your blog, and you do what you want to do, despite any backlash. That’s when I realized you had to be intelligent because you were more than capable.

It took me a while to realize you were enough. At first, people kept telling you to do better, do more. People kept saying you could be different if you tried, able to fit in if only you worked hard enough. Some people even tried to change you, mold you, because they wanted you to be “perfect.” In the process, most of them told you what was wrong with you: your honesty, your weight, your lack of sexual activity, your presence of sexual activity, your hairstyle, your emotional responses, your fashion, your overall lifestyle choices. They told me you were so far from being even remotely appealing that I shouldn’t even bother.

But something told me “Look closely, look deeper.”

That’s when I noticed that all of the people who’d said you weren’t their ideal were just projecting their perceptions, sometimes even their flaws, directly onto you. They might have needed you to be skinnier, more demure, and less emotional, but that was never something you set up as a goal for yourself. Someone else might have wanted you to stay the same – immature, rounder, wilder – but you were ready to grow and leave them behind; this didn’t make you crazy, or a bitch, or even a shitty person… it made you your own. And being your own is all you ever have to be. That’s when I realized you always had been and always will be enough.

It took me a while to realize you were sick. At first, I just thought it was all the stress of undertaking so many things at once: a full-time job, a full workload at school, a long distance relationship with a man you love, a dog your adore, a new gym membership, a blog and a house to maintain, and the general in-and-out of daily life with friends and responsibilities. You felt tired because you didn’t have enough time. You felt sad because you were overwhelmed. You felt angry because you had so many rights to. You felt nothing because you had nothing to be happy about.

But something told me “Look closely, look deeper.”

That’s when I noticed you were always inexplicably tired, no matter how much sleep you had gotten. I noticed you were always sad, sadder than you needed to be, no matter what you were crying about. I noticed you were getting angrier and angrier about smaller things and at more people than ever before. I noticed you should be feeling things, a lot of things – especially happiness – because you had plenty to be thankful for. I noticed you felt withdrawn, alienated, attacked, and scared. I noticed you were having problems doing things you loved and working on anything for more than five minutes at a time. I noticed other people were starting to notice something was off. Some loved ones were even saying things to you. Even strangers noticed, sometimes making you feel so broken down about it that you fell into a deep, dark hole for two full and horrible days. That’s when I realized you had been sick for a while.

That’s when I realized I needed to get you help.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Rachel. My gift to you this year is reconnecting you with your true self. I know you miss her, and I cannot wait until you’re acquainted again. By now, you’re about three weeks into treatment. Do you feel the change I longed you would? I hope you do, I hope you do…

Because, for the first time in a long time, I realize you are worth it. –Love, Rachel

Hey You…I Mean, Me :)

jayIt’s been quite a long road so far as you’ve noticed. You told yourself a year ago that you’d begin loving yourself more than anyone in this world ever could and look at you now! It takes a lot, I know. It’s not easy to get up in the morning and look past the mess of curls, the less than perfect skin, those tired music-major eyes and think of “love” when you look into the mirror.

Still you’ve realized somewhere in between all of the ups and downs of your life and your story that there is so much to love and so much to offer. I love you unconditionally for where you have come and for where you have been. I love you for everything that you have been blessed with in life. I love you for every second of your life that you haven’t been loved adequately by the people in your life. I love you so much so that if love doesn’t come from any other corner of the world you can look in the mirror and feel it radiating back towards you.

I love your physical being, your mind, and everything that you are, and that’s all I’ll ever work the hardest at. Because if all else fails, what else can I do but love you more than I love anything or anyone else? You will always be just right for me. You will always be loved.

Love Always,You. XoXo

Happy hearts day!

I can not believe that another year has passed. I just want to tell you how incredibly strong and resilient you are. You have had so many challenges in the recent months and you are still a shining star for all around you. It is super hard to rise above the negativity and stay true to yourself and your family. That is truly what matters in the end, and I am proud to be a part of that. You are an amazing woman with so many strengths for others to see. Keep on loving those around you and it will come back to you ten fold!! –Emily B.

Dear Rachel,

You have always been so good to me. You were such a sweet and gentle child,as a teenager you always tried to not abuse our body with bad chemicals. When you turned 18 and we became very ill you always held your head up high and carried on even though you were scared. All the boyfriends that turned out to be bad…you just took that as a life lesson and when we finally met the man of our dreams you always stayed true to yourself…to us. When Jack got diagnosed with autism you never cried or became sad…you like him just like he is. You have always been so good to me. You got me…With all my love- Rachel’s heart

Hey Lady,

Wow. You’ve grown in so many ways in the past year and it’s all because you took an incredible leap of faith.
By opening your heart, you’ve allowed some pretty wonderful things to work their way into your life! 2014 has been challenging so far, but don’t ignore the obvious blessings that have been overflowing in your life over the past month. You are beautiful, talented, smart, sexy, funny and quirky in all the best ways. Don’t let anyone define you or tell you otherwise!

You have absolutely everything it takes to live a full creative and authentic life in 2014. Let’s do this! –Love, Katie, Charlotte NC

Hiii lady-

It’s that time of year again! In the past, I know that you have dreaded this day because, to be honest, you have never had “that special someone” to spend it with. You even used to say that it was a stupid holiday because there was too much expectation and forced romance and something you didn’t care about just to make yourself feel better. Well, this year is going to be different. Not different in the sense that you will unexpectedly get flowers from some great guy or that you are going to be making googly eyes with a handsome someone over a candle lit dinner. This time it is going to be about you and finding the love that you know you have for yourself somewhere underneath all that self-criticism and self-doubt. The past year has not been an easy one with many trips to the doctor for a disease you found out that you have, the stresses of the first year of graduate school, bouts of anxiety and panic attacks that came out of nowhere, and the return of that pesky acne. It wasn’t the easiest year to love yourself while asking, “why me?” and “Am I strong enough to handle all of this?” Starting this Valentine’s Day, you will start finding reasons to love yourself and carry that with you to help make 2014 the best year yet. Take yourself to a movie, have a dinner for one at your favorite restaurant, get a pedicure, have some wine and chocolate for one. Show yourself that self-love is not a bad thing that makes you into a cocky, stuck-up person, but rather it makes you confident and able to show more love to others. One day you will have an incredible man to spend today with, but until then don’t keep putting yourself at the bottom of your list of priorities. So with that I simply say, Happy Valentine’s Day! -Leslie

Hello Lady,

I knew I was falling for you when were sniffing the ocean air from beneath a redwood on the California coast, all the wind in your hair and up your dress, and again when you were standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, unshowered in a dirty tank top. But I loved you most in the desert of the still wild west, when you threw your camera around your neck, tied your dress to the side, and scrambled up steep rocks on your hands and knees. I loved you most there, when you took off all your clothes and stood naked in the middle of nothingness. There you were, in your imperfect fat body, tattooed with equal amounts of art and scars, pale and chubby, with jiggly thighs, a plump belly, a flat ass, and uneven boobs, feeling 100% at peace with everything you are and will be. So you drove home over the next week, filling yourself with diner food and waking up on the floor of some strange, fancy apartment overlooking Lake Michigan. You came home and you drank too much beer and fell out of love while dancing in your living room to old records at 3am. You said, “I can’t wait to be your friend,” and finally meant it. You played your guitar and he said “It feels all wrong, the rhythm isn’t right,” and finally mean it. You cried and held each other and he kissed you on the forehead and reminded you how great you are. You said “I know,” and finally meant it. -Love, Allison

Happy Valentine’s Day, Warrior Queen!

unnamedI know you’re excited to spend another year with your love but I am so happy that you’ve remembered [yet again] self-love. I know things have been a little crazy in the past year. Who knew that planning a wedding could drain so much love from yourself? Adjusting to being part of a partnership has had its ups and downs, and I know the transition is harder for someone so confident in her self-love. Things sort of got lost for awhile again, didn’t they? For the girl who never truly focused on her personal appearance, you’ve been insecure. But you’ve also been brave; very brave. I am so happy to see you getting that confidence back and to see you taking time and money for yourself. Pamper yourself, you deserve it! So before you go out to that fancy dinner tonight, why don’t you get in the kitchen and bake yourself your favorite treat. p.s. that printable you made for self-love? Genius! -Love, Raewyn

Dearest Jennilee (though your friends from home gave you this lovely nickname over 10 years ago, it still hasn’t gotten old),

unnamed-8You are 25 this Valentine’s Day and more in love than ever — look at your happy self! Though it hasn’t always been easy, you’re resilient, optimistic, and excited for the future. Aside from the strides you’ve made in your professional career, you’ve moved mountains when it comes to looking deep down inside of you and understanding yourself a little bit better. Coping with anxiety has always been your struggle and in 2013 you tackled it – hard. With the help of some amazing friends and one strong, patient, and loving boyfriend, you’ve learned how to manage your mind, understand your thoughts, and move forward full-speed. I want you to know that I’m proud of you — of the incredibly caring and considerate friend you are, of the hard, dedicated worker you are, and of the optimistic and spontaneous spirit you still possess. May 2014 bring you all the love in the world and the courage to chase after rainbows, as far away as they seem.  –Love, Jenn

Dear Shane,

unnamed-9I have a confession to make. There are only a handful of days in my life that I have felt truly beautiful. As much as I love making others feel great about themselves (see my Operation Beautifu projectl), I struggle to talk about myself and my own accomplishments.

So, this is the point where I realized, I’ve had each of you find the courage to embrace the beauty within yourselves. Honestly, I hate compliments. I would almost rather be criticized. I realize this makes zero sense. So I am here today to break myself of that mentality.

My favorite physical feature is my… smile. I used to be so self conscious about my “big” teeth but I’ve been told it’s beautiful.

Something non-physical that I love about myself is… my drive and passion for whatever life throws my way.

I’m happiest when… I’m with my mama, my best friend. Looking at each other and laughing without having to say a word, because we both know exactly what one another is thinking.

I enjoy the simpler things in life: The morning dew on a fresh-bloomed flower. The bittersweet feeling of finishing a really good book. Laughing so hard her cheeks hurt. Sitting outside during a thunderstorm, the smell of rain to remind me of the beauty of nature. Watching snowflakes fall while cuddling by a toasty fire with cocoa. Turning the page of a calendar to a month full of things to look forward to.

I question everything and would never settle for second best. I’m glad life is a challenge and take full advantage of every opportunity. I am the farthest thing from perfection, but my flaws are what make me beautiful. –Love, Shane

Hey there pretty girl,

Look at those mesmerizing blue eyes and that long brown hair. Not to mention that stunning smile of yours.

This past year has been a challenging one no doubt but somehow you’ve managed to keep a positive view of everything . You cried many tears but had just as many laughs and smiles.

You’ve been able to gain an amazing promotion at work which leads you that much closer to moving into your dream place. While it wasn’t easy and will continue to be hard work it will all pay off in the long run.

You learned that its important to do what you want, when you want, and with the people you want to do it with. Although you are still the amazing friend and peer who is always willing to help out you’ve learned to put yourself first no matter what. This has been a key factor in growing and loving yourself.

The number one ,most important, thing you have learned this year is to love yourself. Really love yourself more than you thought possible. By learning to love yourself and finding what makes you happy you have been able to find an amazing man to share your life with. You were never willing to settle for something less than you deserved. All of the years of singleness and lonely nights in truly led you to this happy ending you always wanted and believed in.

So here is to you this valentines day when you’ll be spending it with the two people you love most. –Love, Christina 

Dear Jana,

I love how strong you are — you learn from your mistakes and you let your past make you better, not bitter.
I love how you always are wearing a smile — you can’t help smiling at every occasion possible, because to you the glass is always half full.
I love how you are a sucker for romance — there is nothing more powerful to you than a passionate kiss, and the feeling of a man’s arms holding you close.
I love how beautiful you are — even if sometimes you don’t see it yourself, it’s important to know you are.
I love how creative you are — you can conceive a fantastic masterpiece by just jotting down a few words.
I love how sweet you are — you exuberant light and an abundance of warmth to anyone you meet.
I love how motivated you are — you won’t stop until you succeed in your dreams.
I love that you’ve come so far — your journey hasn’t been an easy one, but you’ve kept your head up along the way and taken something valuable with you from each and every experience.
Lastly, I love how you love — you have a huge heart, and although there are so many people in your life who you feel blessed to have, you never forget to always love yourself first.
Happy Valentines Day, J!  

Dear Me,
Yes, I know sometimes we have not been the best friends. And sometimes, we don’t look at each other without getting angry or sad. However, we must make peace with one another. There is no time to be regretful or sad. The time is now. Be happy. Enjoy life. Let’s be happy together.  –Xoxo, Naomi

Dear Charlotte,

You’re not always kind to yourself. I know that sometimes you feel like you’re the worst person in the world, the ugliest, the fattest… all of the most awful things you think about yourself. It’s not true.

In 2014, I really hope that you are able to see more positivity in your life, I believe it will help you greatly. Remember, not everything is black and white. You are a good person. You’re not ugly. You’re not fat. You are you, and you are beautiful. Remember this. There are people in your life that tell you all these wonderful things on a daily basis. Believe them. You are loved, and that is all that matters.

Love from Charlotte. <3

Dear Megan,

unnamed-7One year ago today, an amazingly sweet and perfect guy sent you flowers for the first time. You had just gotten out of a four year relationship that had been slowly falling apart for the latter half of it. You had been rediscovering what it meant to be you–without a significant other–for the past six months. And you’d developed more as a woman than ever before.

That time in your life was paramount in molding the woman you are today. You began to see your future clearly, without depending on someone else (who is actually not dependable at all). It wasn’t until you finally let yourself be creative, get motivated and succeed that you came into your own. There are some people in life that will try to hold you back, but NEVER AGAIN let that person be you. Just like no one can truly love you until you love yourself, no one is going to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself. You experienced that first hand.

Now that you have the confidence, drive, and passion to do what you love, you have a partner who not only supports you and celebrates your successes, but he also inspires you every single day.

Keep it up, girl. You da bomb! -xoxo, Megan

To my biggest critic and my biggest fan,

You definitely have a lot of flaws. But your most prominent one is not accepting those imperfections as just another lovable facet of yourself. Sure, you overreact to things emotionally. But that just means you have emotions to feel in the first place. Yes, you should exercise more. But embrace those times you do exercise, whether it’s going to one yoga class a week or running up and down the stairs to visit all of your friends. Maybe not everything you do is perfect, but where’s the fun in not ever messing up? The word “flaws” has a negative connotation, but it’s easy enough to turn a “blemish” into a “decoration.” Like the best literary characters, your flaws are sometimes your most endearing features. –Love, Julia

Dear Chelsea,

This is the third year in a row that you have wrote a “self-love” letter, but for some reason this year you kept putting it off… Is your procrastination habit becoming worse? Or is there something deeper going on there? I’m going to go with the latter…

Wow! It’s been a whirlwind of a year! You graduated law school! You passed the bar! You got a job! Basically, you are kicking ass and taking name, but I know that it feels like something is still missing. Well, let me tell you something (and please remember this on the gloomiest of days)… You must learn the art of loving yourself before you can expect another person to love you unconditionally. Yeah, it can be hard sometimes but let the good overshadow the bad. Push the negativity out of your life and embrace the individuals who build you up and make you stronger. Forgive those boys (not men) who have broke your heart in the past and move on. I know it seems like the dating world is a black hole right now but do not lower your standards and do not put up with lies and bullshit. I might be a little biased but you are pretty amazing and you deserve the creme de la creme. Every little thing is going to be alright. Stop beating yourself up for mistakes made in the past. Your past does not require an explanation… not to yourself and not to anyone else. They can love it or leave it.

So, this Valentine’s Day please do not sit around feeling sorry for yourself because you are single and love cats. Hang out with girlfriends. Drink copious amounts of red wine.  And CELEBRATE yourself. –Love, Chelsea 

Lix, sweetheart, honeybee, cherrypie,

All those adjectives that you mean sincerely because you use them on your cat and obviously you’re sincere about how much you love him— Lix, babe, you’re doing just fine. You’re beautiful, and you respect people, and you want everyone you care about to be the best they can be, and get everything they deserve. You’ve done so many things this year that seemed impossible last, and that’s not just the antidepressants, that’s the creativity within you, that’s guiding yourself out of the mess that is your life, that’s making something out of nothing in every which way you could. Everything you do has taken so much courage and it’s incredible that you have that within you after all these years, that you’re willing to put yourself out there and try to build a career and a life on a path that’s so foreign to you.

Besides that, you try so hard to be your mom’s rock, and you try so hard to ignore how difficult it is to live with your father, and you try so hard to love your sister and do things for her even when she’s unbearable and doesn’t seem to understand what’s going on around her. You’re allowed to strike a balance between helping your mom out financially and saving for yourself— you’re allowed to want more and to make your life easier and to go after your dreams and save up for them. You’re allowed to go. You’re allowed to stay longer, if you have to. Give your dreams room to breathe and grow a foundation if you have to. That’s not a failure, that is being responsible, that is all right. Lix, darling, honestly— you’re doing so much more than fine. You’re thriving, and that’s not stopping any time soon. -Love, Lix 

To my dearest Kriselle,

unnamed-10Hi. You never thought you’d be in this position again, did you? Except now, the situation has slightly changed. You’re in a relationship and your thoughts of worthlessness are no more. That is so great, because many people don’t get to that stage. The important thing now is not to turn back. That all may have been many years ago, but it is so important to remember that you are loved no matter what you do and no matter what happens. You are not the things you do or don’t do, as a very good friend once said.

I know that it’s easy to do everything and feel the need to please, but that is not your identity. You are amazing and such a hard worker and a beautiful soul no matter what you do. I know that it’s so hard, but I know you can do this. You are such a strong person and you are more than able. Stop worrying and just be you. Do you, booboo. -Love, Kriselle

Dang girl…

I see what you are doing there… And yea it’s working! You with your infectious laughter and overflowing wit and whimsy. This past year you have had amazing adventures and embraced so many fears, all with courage and grace and that million watt smile! You are blessed beyond measure and you have the most wonderful people in your life. Embrace and enjoy every single moment because you have never been more amazing. I love the person you are are and who you are becoming… Keep it up dollface… It’s just getting good! –Love, Julianne

Dear Kat,

Valentine’s day is about love & love comes in many shapes, forms, & sizes. Growing up you’ve always felt lonely not having a significant other to share it with, but than you came to see that love isn’t just about having a significant other. You have wonderful friends & family who continuously spends this day with you & because of that you’ve grown to know the true meaning of love. Love is about embracing the people you truly care about no matter what your relationship with them are. Because you’ve grown to understand & know what love truly is that itself you’re ready to love & be loved. Whoever walks into your life will know what it feels like to be loved & one day you’ll know what it feels like to have someone be insanely head over heels crazy about you. For now enjoy the amazing people who makes you feel loved each & everyday, but most importantly remember to love yourself. –Love, Kat 2014

Dear Me,

You aren’t as pretty as you were in high school. Your breasts droop, your eyes sag… That energy you used to have is all but gone. But you know what? You are an amazing woman for the life you lead. Taking care of three children, one of which is another woman’s, is not an easy feat but you manage to do it day in and day out without complaint. You are kind and caring, and strive so hard to achieve the things you want; there is no greater passion than that of a mother trying to do better for her kids. You take your full plate and juggle it like no other, and that is why I love you. –Love, Jaime

Hey you.

ashlalalaaYes, you – the one with the warm brown eyes, unwavering smile, and fearless heart. They say feeling too deeply can be a blessing and a curse, and yet you still do it, day in and day out. You always throw yourself 110% into anything and everything that you do, all the while wearing your heart so proudly on your sleeve. This Valentine’s Day you might still be single, and that’s okay. Because that heart of your’s has got so much love in it, more than it can even keep inside sometimes – and one day some special guy will be so, so lucky to have that. In the mean time, you keep loving those people in your life who already love you – yes, those people – your family, and the friends who have turned into a second one. But even more importantly, this Valentine’s Day, remember to keep loving yourself. I know you’re hard on yourself sometimes, and you feel that your life doesn’t measure up to those around you, or the expectations you have set for yourself. But that’s what your twenties are for! You will never be more free or young than you are now, so why not embrace it? And I know you already have. This past weekend you went on a plane finally for the first time, and it opened up your world! You said 2014 was going to be your year of action, and damn it, girl – it’s only February, and you’re already well on your way! Not only have you already flown (which you told yourself you’d do this year), but you also landed a fulltime job in NYC helping others, and you’ve read a book out of that pile you said you were determined to finally read this year. These may seem like small feats right now, but when you look back on 2014, and your list has check marks on it and no longer empty spaces, you will be so proud of yourself, like I already am of you. So keep checking off those resolutions, girl, and loving you and your life. Because as long as you love life, life will love you back. It already has been! Stay smiling, Ash. I love you! Here’s to your year of action. xo –Love, Ash

28 Things My Parents Taught Me About Love

Twenty-eight years ago in Asheville, North Carolina, a woman with flowers in her hair married a man with so much love in his heart, he couldn’t keep it to himself. Only four months prior, they went hiking for their very first date and that man wrapped his arms around that woman – and she just knew.

Two years later, they had me.

I don’t know the first time I realized that my parents were in love. Sure, they had fights like everyone else, but what I remember the most from my childhood is seeing my father leave notes by the coffee maker in the mornings before he went to work. Or my mom leaving notes in his fireman gear – complete with a lipstick print to seal the message. My dad almost always had fresh flowers for my mom (a dozen for her, and a single rose for me because I was jealous). They would dance in our living room after dinner and when I was off in never-never land, playing make believe, I could hear the laughter of their beautiful reality from the living room.

While I’ve never doubted that my parents loved each other, I’ve also witnessed just how hard marriage can be. Through sickness and in health, when times are hard and when they’re good, with youth and then with age, with distance apart and too much time together, with a full house and then an empty one. It’s because of my mom and dad that I believe in both the magic of love and the difficulty of it – it’s not always romantic and idealistic, it’s also, well, work.

But at the end of the day, they pick each other.

Again and again, over and over, because they meant what they said at that altar. And though the NYC foodie in me is rolling her eyes that for their anniversary they’re going to Red Lobster and eating a chocolate cake (the first one my dad has ever made in his life) afterwards, I secretly think it’s actually kind of adorable.

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So, this one is for you, Captain Tigar and first mate Kim. Thank you for teaching me to not settle for anything less than a match that’s as perfect, crazy and wonderful for me, as you are for each other. You’re the reason I’m able to write about love with such sincere hope in my words, and I will be very lucky to have a love like yours.

Here’s what you’ve taught me about love, marriage and all that jazz:

1- Love starts as a feeling and grows into a choice you make every single day.

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2- Love isn’t about your wedding day, it’s about your marriage. (My parents’ wedding cost about $500, my mom’s — very, vey 80s — wedding dress was only $40… and they’re photos were $50 – and I treasure them so much.)

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3- Couples who have adventures together, stay together. (Even if the adventure is remodeling a house, painting a deck or having themed-dinner nights at home…)

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4- Never go to bed without saying “I love you.” You can go to bed angrier than a rattlesnake (as my mom would say) but make sure you (grudgingly) say those three little words before you do.

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5- Perfection is for sissies. It’s the hard times in your marriage that make you so thankful for the really amazing times. If it was always perfect, you’d take it for granted.

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6- Remind each other. That you love one another. That they’re a wonderful person, father, mother, employee, boss lady, dancer, bruncher, maker-of-the-best-spicy-chicken-ever…

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7- You only have to put one foot in front of other. You might roll out of bed and hate the person you’re laying next to, but tomorrow you might think they’re spectacular. Take it one day at a time, one step after the other.

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8- Always stay friends… with benefits. Your spouse should be your very best friend, your favorite companion, and yes, the love of your life. But don’t marry someone you wouldn’t want to be friends with if you were so wildly attracted to them.

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9- Your marriage comes first. Even before your children. Because without taking time to nurture your love, it will wither like anything else that needs sun to flourish.

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10- Take time apart. For the majority of their marriage, my dad was gone three-days a week for 24-hours. Though that’s not typical, because they were separated, they got to miss one another and look forward to when they were together again.

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11- Be a united front. I could never win at the “go talk to your mother, go talk to your father” game because they were almost always on the exact same page about raising me. As I grew up, I realized they made a pretty solid team (even if I never got that pony that I really wanted. Hpmh.)

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12- You got to keep that flame burning. (I can’t really type anything more on this because eww, my parents!)

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13- Give one another space to grow. I’ve never believed there’s an “ideal” time to get married – you just get married when you meet the person you want to share your life with, regardless if it’s 20, 30 or 45 when you find them. Whenever you do, realize they’re not going to always be who they are right now and make sure they have space to change. And that they give you some room, too.

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14- Forgive quickly. It’s normal (and healthy!) to fight with your spouse, but holding grudges is elementary.

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15- Don’t take gender roles seriously. In my family, my dad always cooked and both of my parents worked. If my mom wanted (and could have afforded) to stay home, that would have been cool too. Or if my dad wanted to. You have to let each other do what you’re good at and not force one another into stereotypes.

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16- Support one another. My dad is notorious for picking up hobbies, becoming obsessed with them, and moving on to something else. Even so, when he picks up a new-something-or-another, my mom is there cheering for him, whatever it is. And he returns the favor for her as she has moved from accounting to astrology to real estate to…

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17- Marry someone who makes you laugh. Even if both of you are laughing at something no one else finds funny. Actually — especially if both of you are laughing at something no one else finds funny.

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18- Dream together. When I was ten, my parents bought this run-down lake house that they’ve refinished for the last 15 years into a gorgeous home. It was their dream to have a second place and together, they achieved it. (And I’m insanely jealous of their ‘We’re just drinking margaritas on the porch in the sun, honey, how’s work?’ text messages…)

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19- You can’t change the other person, but you can love them. Sure, my dad has made my mom a little braver and my mom has given my NJ-raised dad a Southern accents, but they’re still themselves. If you don’t like who someone is when you marry them, you won’t like who they are five or 28 years later either.

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20- There will be sickness and there will be health. My dad has had lots of health issues the past ten years, resulting in my mom taking on a lot more responsibility than she used to have. Though it definitely hasn’t been easy for her, when I ask her how she gets through it, she just says: “He’d do it for me if it was the other way around.”

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21- Everything is going to sag one day. It’s okay. Just more skin to cuddle.

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22- Develop good couple friendships. My parents have always had couple friends that they go on double-dates with or vacation together. And now, that all of us kids have flown the coop – they’re having even more fun together.

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23- You are an example to your children. Take it seriously.

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24- Let them surprise you. Even if it’s just with a chocolate cake.

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25- Don’t parent them. Sure, you want to take care of one another, but that doesn’t mean you baby them. You’re partners and lovers and friends, but not parent and child.

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26- Admit when your wrong. And sometimes, even if you’re right, for the sake of peace and love and making up, just say you’re sorry. It’s easier that way.

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27- It won’t always be equal. Someone will do more housework, someone will do more with the kids, someone will spend more money, someone will make more money. It’s not always going to be 50/50, but that’s what keeps it interesting.

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28- Kiss every single day. No matter what.

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This Valentine’s Day, write a self-love letter to yourself and it’ll be published (anonymous or not) on Confessions of a Love Addict! And you enter yourself to win a prize pack of beauty products and a Home Goods gift card! Learn more here. Submit here.

Here’s Another Way to Find Love This Year (For Free!)

match[SPONSORED POST BY MATCH.COM]

I’ll be honest – I’ve had a love/hate relationship with online dating. I have my profiles live and most of the time, I let the messages come my way instead of putting them out. There are some really clever, thoughtful guys and some rather ridiculous ones (like these) – but the truth is, more and more people are finding love online. In fact – one in five!

At the start of the year, I turned away from app dating – looking at you, Tinder – and I focused more on sites that are more in-depth and can really pair you with someone you might like past a swipe. I’m not alone either, a recent poll on Match.com found that 51 percent of singles’ new Year’s resolutions were to be more social and focus on finding a relationship. Does it surprise you that Match sees a 25-30 percent increase in sign-ups between New Year’s and Valentine’s Day?

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Duh – if there’s anytime to get online and start going on dates, it’s now before you lose all of the positive mojo from the New Year.
So, if you’re interested in giving this online dating thing a whirl, take advantage of Match.com’s 3-days free date pass. If you do take the leap, here are some of my online profile tips:

-Make sure to pick some recent photos that flatter your face, body and interests (if you’re a runner, show it, if you bake the best cookies, display them!)
-Write a profile that gives more than basic information. You want to attract men who you not only find attractive, but you could be friends with, too. Don’t lie about anything!
Message at least three guys. I know, putting my foot in my mouth, but find three men you possibly could like (and who have been active in the last few days) and be forward, honest and sweet. Your goal is to quickly message and get offline. Remember: keep it quick in conversation and get to the first date faster so you can determine chemistry.

Let me know how your dating goes – and I’m happy to read your profiles, just send ’em to me! And if you need some inspiration to take a chance on love – watch this video below (try not to cry!):

[SPONSORED POST FOR MATCH.COM]

match

Oh Love, Sweet Self-Love…

Hey there lady, 

You’ve had quite the year, haven’t you darling? It’s been full of changes and challenges, incredible new beginnings and the start of  madly, profoundly falling in love with yourself. It certainly hasn’t been easy — in fact, it’s been a lot of work. You had to learn to let go of the glimmering hopes of the past so you could find all the lovely opportunities (and people) waiting for you in the days you’ve yet to see. You had to have faith in that brilliant and incredibly powerful voice inside of you that aches for better. The knows there’s more out there. That’s brave, yet very soft. That feels things it only tries to explain in far too many words. It’s your heart that makes you so thoughtful, so loving, so sentimental and it’s that same heart that will help you find all that you’ve ever wanted. For the first time, maybe ever, you don’t have a five-year plan. You don’t have a complete schedule for what’s next or what will be. Instead, you’re learning to love this little life you’ve built this in big city. You’re savoring your friendships, your adorable puppy, your morning runs and the coffee that follows, the job that continues to fulfill you, and the people and the places, that make your life so beautiful. And like a star, you really are. Never change that. Don’t ever lose it. It’s what sets you apart, it’s what makes you bold and what makes you adventurous. It’s what titillates your curiosity each and every day. It’s what makes you so fierce that people notice it once they’ve known you for just five minutes. Your nature makes people want to be better. You have more beauty than what you see and you’re spirit inspires those around you. Keep believing. Dream bigger. Dare yourself more. Say yes. Buy yourself some flowers. Buy that expensive pair of shoes that is really out of your budget — and march those streets with intention. Catch a jetplane. Be so excited that you still have your single status and complete independence… for now. Remember that you’re truly special, incredibly unique and yes, oh yes — that the best is still yet to come. I love you, Happy Valentine’s Day! -Linds 

I love the way you have big dreams and are not afraid to work hard to make them come true. You are the eternal optimist and always put a smile on everyone’s faces. You are selfless and kind. You are always there for a hug. You have a beautiful family that is always happy, even when the laundry isn’t done and there are dishes in the sink. Your children love you; you can see it in their eyes. You a strong woman, and you’ve built a family with a wonderful man because you want to, not because you need to. You have faith that one day everything will work out, and you are determined to enjoy the journey with all its ups and downs until it does. You take each day as it comes and never stop dreaming of what the future will bring, even if sometimes you get overly hopeful about your make-believe plans. I understand. This Valentine’s Day you will snuggle with your children and tell them how much they mean to you, how much you love them. You will curl up with your husband because you want his presence near you, but you will be perfectly fine alone when he wants to go play his video game before bed. :) You will love because you want to, not because it’s an obligation to make you feel better about yourself. You are strong, you are loved, and you love. Happy Valentine’s Day, Me. – Tiffany, Atlanta, GA

Happy Valentine’s darling. Look around you and take in all that you have accomplished. Look at the incredible, inspiring people in your life that you are lucky enough to call boyfriend, friend, and family. It hasn’t been an easy few years, but all the hard work was way more than worth it. Live in love today – with yourself first and then with the love of your life (don’t forget to put those roses in water right away!) – Jenn, New York, NY

Firstly I love you & how you always convince yourself that you are one handsome lady that has the world at her feet, being a hot poet that indulge herself with everything good. The reason you are here single and enjoying yourself is your independence your bravery to be on your own and to achieve your goals…You’re a city girl living a life with a deep philosophy of the inner peace you have within. I admire the courage, with your beautiful smile that always give your eyes that much needed glow….You’re beauty transcends everything about you, you are alluring. No matter how many women have broken your heart and walked out your life, you still pick yourself and move forward with life..That is something they can never take from you that you would still greet them if you should see them walking down the road or in a mall. You have finally decided that hindering on past hurts doesn’t need to feature in your life. The universe will give you something better and this V-Day embrace your growth and your journey..This is about me, Myself & I and nothing and no-one else..I love you, you sexythang… -Chim, Capetown, South Africa

You are incredible. I love that you smile to much, laugh way to loud, trip all of the time, have a coffee addiction, and live life to the fullest while trying not to look back. Take time to be proud of yourself. Be proud of who you have become. You are worth someones affection, time, and love. Although you have always been single, you have discovered how to love yourself. Take pride in that. Not many people can say that they have lived in other countries in their twenties. Or have an amazing group of friends who would do anything for you. Or truly have a passion for what they majored in. Enjoy being single while it lasts. Stop trying to find love and let it find you. You have so much to give to the world. Don’t hold back for a second. -Ashley, Canberra, Australia

Happy Love Day! I know that 2013 has not lived up to your expectations: you put your trust in the wrong person and it backfired. It is perfectly understandable to be upset, sad, angry, confused, or whatever emotion you are currently feeling (I know how much they fluctuate), BUT stop letting that negative emotion get in the way of creating new relationships and new opportunities. Your destiny is never tied to anyone that left and the rest of your life is a blank piece of paper just waiting for you to decorate it. This isn’t the last time you will ever feel sad, and this isn’t the last time you will cry. But when those feelings rise to the surface, take a deep breath and realize what you have to be thankful for. February 14th is not a day to sit around and feel sorry for yourself. But instead, it is a day to celebrate love. Yes, I said celebrate love. Love is not contained to romantic feelings. Tell your family how much you love them. Make sure they know that you appreciate EVERY little thing they have ever done for you and that your love for them is limitless. Tell your friends how much you love them. Thank them for the countless hours they have spent nursing your broken heart and listening to you rationalize what happened over and over and over and over again. And last, but certainly not least, LOVE YOURSELF. You are a magnificent creature who is worthy of bona fide love and nothing will ever change that. Go buy yourself something pretty and some fine wine and celebrate love. – Chelsea, Charlotte, NC

I am so happy you’re a solo diva this Valentine’s Day. Why? Because you won’t have to pretend to like any jewelry you hate, you don’t have to look gorgeous whilst eating chocolates – in fact, feel free to binge (in a good, liberating way). I can’t wait for you to throw on some fierce heels for a carefree night on the town, no strings attached! Expect flowers and chocolates from me to me. Love, Me -Anonymous 

Stop beating yourself up for not being “right” for people. They probably aren’t “right” for you either. Even if you vacationed at the all same places growing up and love the same food. It doesn’t mean forever. It’s just a series of lovely coincidences. Don’t turn into a hard person or frigid. Look for the love, don’t change to make it happen. You’re a beautiful, caring, fun girl. Someone is bound to come along and appreciate these things and put the effort in. You deserve more than the bare minimum. Don’t go for Mr. Boring, he’s been around long enough. Let go. Remember, the definition of ‘settle’ is to move downward; sink or descend. You know you always kick way more ass when you’re single anyway ;) Your biggest fan, Danielle PS- have I mentioned how good you look naked these days? I couldn’t be more proud of you for sticking to your workouts and better eating habits <3 – Danielle, Greensboro, NC

I am happy to spend Vday with my girlfriends, because I always have more fun with the girls over dates. I love my independence, freedom, and living by my self. I like being with a man, but am happy without one. – Anonymous 

Dear Renee, You don’t know much about love, admittedly. But if there is one person you have always loved, it’s yourself. You’ve always been proud of yourself, always been able to see the bright side of your flaws. You’ve always been there for yourself, always supported yourself, always believed in yourself. You have never had a problem being who you are. You have never had a problem loving yourself. You have always been fearless and fabulous and you’ve always known it. You’ve spent that last 20 Valentine’s Days on your own, and you’ve always enjoyed them without even a hint of cynicism — writing a love letter to yourself is practically second-nature at this point. But this year has thrown you for a loop. You love your family, your friends, and yourself so naturally. But this year, you’ve had to learn to love someone else too. You have been with a wonderful man for almost a year, longer than you’ve ever been with anyone. But you are a neophyte in the first degree — a definite “beginner” when it comes to being in a relationship, and it has been quite the learning experience. It continues to be a learning experience — learning how to give yourself to someone without losing yourself completely. Learning how to be less selfish and to compromise instead. You thought it would all come so naturally but you’ve had to make some changes. You’ve had to let go of that control you love. You’ve had to give in to those feelings that scare you. In learning how to be there for someone else, you’ve actually grown up a little. And it’s a good thing because this wonderful man does love you — no matter what. Throughout all of your wild independence and criticisms and learning curves, he has been there, patiently waiting, always willing to work with you. You love yourself, but you know you can be a handful. He knows it too, and he’ll still be in your apartment tonight waiting to give you a kiss when you walk through the door. So here’s to a new kind of love — the romantic kind that you never looked for but miraculously ended up with. Here’s to the love you never thought would be as important as the love you have for yourself. Here’s to realizing that you can love someone else the way you love yourself — unconditionally and repeatedly, no matter what, over and over again. Happy Valentine’s Day. Go celebrate ;) – Renee, Asheville, NC

I like how organized you are, and how you are such a great friend. You DO NOT need a man to make you happy. You are building a fantastic life for yourself, your career is progressing in the way you want it to, and if a man came into the situation he would fuck that up right now. I am a fabulous single woman because I do not need a man to validate me. I am a strong and independent woman. I am happy to be single this Valentine’s Day, I would not like to feel like a caged bird. – Anonymous 

Although I’m happily married now, I had plenty of single-mom years to learn that being on my own was just fine, and often really great. There’s simply no way to be happy with a man without being happy with yourself, first, and through a lot of trial and error I kept learning and re-learning this. I write this more for Rivkah now, our sweet daughter, because whether she flies solo temporarily or forever, she needs to know that love starts with herself, first. So, dear me, I hope you feel supported enough to feel love from the outside world but strong enough to share as much love as you possibly can with the rest of the world. Sharing love, as it turns out, is what brings it back… and that feels pretty great. – Bryce, New York, NY

I may be a guy, but am very much appreciative of the wonderful beings women are. I love most about my liberal attitudes, being accepting and tolerant towards others. Well I’m single now, I believe in giving love time. It’ll pop up in the most unexpected circumstance and till then, I should always keep my heart open and strong. I am happy to fly solo this valentine’s because eventually when I find my love, it doesn’t have to be on this particular day, or Christmas, or any other day. Because everyday, being with my valentine would simply be special =) – Jason, Singapore

You are a crazy ball of nerves and curls and I wouldn’t have it any other way. You’re afraid of aquariums, tunnels, and escalators but not of hiking glaciers or navigating through new countries with only a post it note with an address and a handful of useful phrases in your pocket. You cannot figure out a tip without a calculator or dance a waltz, but you can play punk songs on the ukulele and bluegrass on the guitar. You are a 5 foot 10 sponge, constantly learning and soaking up stories and memories. You once taught someone how to fence at a tiny, narrow, southern diner. You can recite poetry, name constellations in the freckles on your cheeks, and say “cheers” in five different languages. You can go for miles and miles. You, my love, are disgustingly, hopelessly optimistic at all times and can handle emergencies like a champ. You are taking risks and I’m so proud of everything you are and have become. You’ve come along way, and I love you. – Allison, Raleigh, NC

You are fierce and brave. You love your husband with abandon, and that is an admirable quality. Your body is an amazing temple that is currently housing a little miracle that you’ll fall even more in love with throughout the rest of your life. You respect yourself and are finally in a place where your are comfortable with the body you’re in. You’re doing good and will continue to do so. When you are counting your blessings, don’t forget to include your wonderful self. I’m so blessed to be in your skin. -Fatima, Asheville, NC

Look at you, you starry-eyed princess. I don’t mean to give you more of an ego than you already have, but you were SO amazing and beautiful this past year. It is so incredible to read back on your love letters to yourself for the past two years–in 2011, you were so fierce and wild, ready to love yourself more than anything in the world. In 2012, you were so much wiser & calm–you knew love was on the horizon, & who knew that a week after contributing a Valentine to yourself for your beloved friend’s blog, you would meet the man of your dreams. This year has been beautiful and amazing in a way that words can’t express–but this isn’t luck. With your positive energy, joy, & hope, you made all this happen. Your heart and your spirit never fail to impress, & I’m so glad that after all the tears, the analyzing, & the let downs, you found someone that was worth the wait. Although your Valentine is your missing puzzle piece, & you’ll spend this evening preparing lobster together & cuddling to your favorite Valentine’s Day episodes of “30 Rock” & “Parks and Recreation”, and it probably will be perfect and wonderful (just like the two of you), but please don’t forget your sweetest Valentine–yourself. The love in your life from your partner, your family, & your friends exists because you love each of them madly & deeply–never stop. You love others because you love yourself. And that, my glittery princess darling, is something to write a love letter about. Now go get some from that sexy man of yours. XOXO. – Michelle, Asheville, NC

I am so freaking proud of you…maybe more than I have ever been. Not only did you make it through the crazy wedding drama, your mother-in-law’s death, your husband wanting you to quit your job and move so he can go to school and LORD only knows what else, you made it through on top. AND despite being married, you still are you, you still go out with your girlfriends, you still have me time and you have yet to succumb to being one of THOSE wives (you know what I’m talking about). Plus so far in 2013, you lost 12lbs and finished writing a 77,000 word novel. I think you deserve a high five. But more importantly, last year you’ve learned to love selflessly, but you’ve also learned how to make yourself a priority too. So take a deep breath and feel the love. It’s still crazy and probably always will, but rest assured that for the first time ever, you’ve finally realized who you are and you’re not hating it. -Nikki, Boone, NC

So this year, I’m proud — no, excited — to say I am the sole owner of my heart… and as such, I feel the need to express it in the silliest, cutest way imaginable. And if that means I get a sparkly card… then dammit, it’s gonna be the BEST sparkly card EVER!! (Read the rest of Leslie’s New York, NY love letter to herself here.)

Well hello you ambitious, determined young lady! Yet another year has flown by but this Valentine’s Day is so much different than last. You are now MARRIED to your best friend, living in Los Angeles (planning on moving to NYC), and above all…you have finally grown to love yourself. People have told you for years that you need to love yourself if you ever dream of being happy and I never knew what they were talking about until this year. I can finally embrace my quirky habits and see myself through my husband’s eyes. I am beautiful, intelligent, and, depending on the day, I can be funny. You have so much going for you! I couldn’t be more proud of your determination to succeed in a male-dominated profession and your willingness to always take on more than any one person should. Keep up your spirits this year and always remember, you are your own person, don’t let anyone tell you any different! Alyssa, Los Angeles, CA

It’s funny, last year my Valentine opened with how appreciative I was of your faith in God’s plan, and this year I want to start the same way–even though so many things are vastly different. The past year has brought you so many changes that you chose, and some you didn’t. But all of them have made you an even more fiery and brave woman than you were on the last 14th of February. You’ve embraced your independence and you’ve learned to love the things about yourself that you can’t ignore when it’s quiet–and there’s no one else to distract from your flaws. You’ve learned the value of solitude. And you’ve come to appreciate the beauty of being on your own, and being happy, whole and peaceful. You’ve turned to God when you were lonely. And you’ve trusted God when you were anxious. The last nine months of singledom could have been terrifying, but instead you grew in your faith and spirituality and you’ve entered 2013 with the clearest picture of what you want and need than you have ever had before. You are doing things instead of just talking about them; and for once, pretty girl, you’re following through! But of all the growing pains and changes you’ve endured and conquered in the past year–perhaps the best? The most beautiful? Is that you’ve healed a heart to the point of brand new. And you’ve remembered that love is magical. And you’ve believed that love can come again. You’ve learned that you’re not broken. And you’ve found that your heart is very capable. This Valentine’s Day, it could be so easy to look at what hasn’t come yet. But instead celebrate that this Valentine’s Day can be one of the very most true to date. Love will come. And until then, love the fact that, right now? Right here? These friends? This family? This is all very, abundantly enough. – Ashley, Winston-Salem, NC

I love how you chew up toys and pull towels off hooks while mommy is at work. I love how everything that can get stuck to your fluffy white fur, does. I love how cuddle everyone, stranger, friend or neither. I love how you try to pull mommy into the streets during walk-time. I love how socks are much better than most treats and how stealing them from mommy — or anyone — is really funny. I love your little bark that alerts mommy of every sound. I love your sweet, beautiful big brown eyes and the way they steal the heart of everyone you meet. I love how your belly is perfect for scratching. I love how much joy you bring to your mommy’s life, always. I woof you very much! Happy Chew-Up Flowers Day! – Lucy Liberty, New York, NYC

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