Thank you for visiting the blog this week. As readers, you are my treasured partners in this writing adventure. I write from the heart and I appreciate your responsive notes and comments. Valentine's Day is a reminder to express warm sentiments to those who bring us joy - and that includes ourselves. So I'm wondering, if you were sending yourself a valentine, what would the message say? Would it express love and appreciation for all the ways you are kind, generous, and caring? Would you compose a message that’s inspiring, practical, or funny? 

Many people discount Valentine’s Day as a commercial holiday that inflates the price of cards, chocolate, flowers, bling, and restaurants. But isn't how we celebrate up to us? When I was in grade school we created our own valentines. We cut hearts out of red construction paper - one for every classmate - and we wrote personal notes on them. It was touching to compose a message that reflected each relationship.

In Japan and Korea, it has almost become a mandate for women to give giri-choco, literally, “obligation chocolate”, to their male co-workers on February 14. There’s no romantic connotation, it’s simply a token of appreciation. Recently a reciprocal day emerged on March 14, known as White Day, when men thank those who remembered them on Valentine's Day with white chocolate or marshmallows. In South Korea, there’s an additional Black Day, held the 14th of April. It’s for those who didn't receive gifts during the previous two celebrations. People dress in black clothes and eat Jjajangmyeon, a black bean noodle dish that's a well-loved comfort food.

It feels good to give and to receive acknowledgement; yet we often forget to gift ourselves with appreciation. Let's correct this oversight, starting now. This year, add your name to your valentine list. Write yourself a thoughtful, loving message. Then, receive it with grace. You’re sooooo worth it!