Phil and I met and married over 32 years ago. We met in February, so lots of memories come into my heart this time of year. After a failed marriage and several pitiful relationship attempts, I’d pretty much given up on the whole love thing.

Except I didn’t.

I knew I had to learn to love myself more. I kept getting swept into relationships that were oppressive or where I felt I could never do enough. I kept being the giver and someone else the taker. I had to learn how to take/receive love.

I didn’t know how.

I perceived that love was a commodity that bought me attention and perhaps some joy. I perceived that my giving first was mandatory to receiving the crumbs.

How does one learn to love and be an equal in giving and receiving? How is that even possible?

My first step was learning to receive Divine Attention (God’s love). Boy, that was hard! I knew only the judgment of God and the punishment that came with that. I had to take a new look. Just being in nature and feeling safe was not easy. I had to be doing, serving - earning points in someone’s book somewhere.

Until I didn’t.

I remember sitting one day outside eating my meager lunch (times were hard) and heard a bird sing. That bird was just singing. Not to attract a mate (it was late in the year). Not to earn points. Just because it wanted to. What did I want to do? What joyful expression of my life did I want to do? I thought about that for a long time. Days. . . weeks maybe.

As those weeks unfolded, I began to notice my friendships. Some were off balance with me giving too much. And yet, there were a few friendships that were in balance. Balancing the giving and the sharing in equal measure. These friendships made my heart sing – just like that little bird. I didn’t have to think about it, it was just a song in my heart. A joy that existed.

I began to notice that these friendships blessed my friends as well. We could count on each other without becoming dependent upon one another. We could share our hopes and dreams and our disappointments. Balancing the giving and the sharing, I began to feel safe in my world. I knew my heart-flame shined brighter as a result. I also knew that others’ heart-flames could shine more brightly as well.

I’m still a giving soul. Yet, I allow others to give, too. In giving and receiving in equal measure the heart-flames burn brightly.

If you find yourself caught in giving too much, grant yourself a moment to just to notice your own heart-flame. Is it diminished by another’s demands? That may not be their fault. Maybe you taught them to be demanding by being too giving. What one thing can you do to nurture your own self? Notice and cherish your own heart-flame in that moment. Allow your own heart-flame to breathe. Then notice connections with others who share and receive in equal measure. Nurture those connections.

When we connect with others in this way, we are all blessed.

May your heart-flame burn brightly! In this way, YOU are the Valentine.