How did you spend your Valentine’s Day?

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How did you spend your Valentine’s Day?

This is how mine went…

My husband gave me $20 and said do something good. I thought it was a joke and a really lazy gift….but I carried on with my day and went to work. My first scheduled appointment was with a severe and complex needs family.

I sat down at the kitchen table and listened to the mom and how her life is going, from financial stresses to BIG worries about the future for her son and how life feels like she is treading water in an uncertain ocean.  We shared, we laughed, and when she popped out to take her other kiddos to the bus I stayed behind with her son.

I started to think about my husband’s challenge to do something good as an act of love on Valentine’s day.

I began by doing her dishes, straightening up the toys and the living room, and then I sat down to spend time with her son and just be with him, without judgment and without a plan to work on his skills or behaviour, to just let him be him!

Later on I headed out for my next visit at a daycare in small-town Alberta and decided I desperately needed a coffee.
I ran into the gas station and found myself watching a gentleman who was clearly struggling, shaking and slightly unkempt as he went to pay for his two refillable coffee cups and was counting out change.

I caught myself again hearing my husband’s challenge to do something good, a loving act for Valentine’s Day, so I stepped forward and said, “Stop, I’d like to pay for your coffee for Valentine’s Day.” He hesitated, then quietly said,  “Thank you.”

He shrugged and looked at me and said nothing else but his whole being indicated he wanted to say thanks with a hug so I said “yes a hug for sure I’ll take a hug,” and as we hugged he apologized – I’m not sure for what; I imagine it was for not being what society deems as the norm.  He thanked me again and left.

The clerk in the store thanked me and told me he was in there two times a day for coffee to keep warm, that he suffers from a brain injury and wanders about during the day.  I thanked her and asked her to take ten dollars to pay for his coffees until it runs out. She was grateful and assured me it would be gifted to him from his Valentine, and we smiled and wished each other well and to stay warm.

I made it to the daycare and I laughed and played, entertained and challenged the kids to make marshmallow snowman… but what I also did was provide the extraordinary staff the opportunity to breathe and enjoy the extra set of hands. To me, it was another “Valentine’s gift” of appreciating what they do, who they are, and how they are giving their all for children each and every day.

My day continued with more visits and more opportunities to BE with people exactly as they are and exactly as they are not.  The truth is what my husband gave me this year was a reminder that inclusion is not a concept, it is a mindset and when we make people feel loved and like they are a part of our tribe we are creating inclusion wherever we go…

So this was by far the most loving gift I have ever received on Valentine’s Day and it shows me once again how deeply my husband knows what matters to me:)  I  hope that YOU feel loved and appreciated by someone in your life, by someone in your community!

Share love not just on Valentine’s Day but every day, in being kind and being inclusive wherever you go.

– Sheila Chisolm, Plugged In


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