Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Parts of today were rough. I am the head of an afterschool enrichment program and spent the afternoon tending to 22 children who had consumed only Valentine’s Day candy and treats at school. I was longing to plop down on my couch with a glass of wine long before the first parent arrived to pick up his or her child. And, to those of you who are single, you know how Valentine’s Day can feel like a painful reminder that you have yet to find the person you can love, or tolerate, for the rest of your life. I came home exhausted and crashing from my own little sugar buzz (thank you parents who were thoughtful enough to send cookies and treats for your kids’ teachers). As I got to my landing I saw something leaning against my apartment door. It was a Valentine’s Day package from a family I love dearly. I instantly felt so filled with love and gratitude that they have come into my life that my workday woes melted away. It was also a reminder that being single does not mean a life devoid of love.
Inside of the Valentine’s Day package were two white roses. As I took the brown wrapping paper off the roses I found thorns and scraggly leaves, some with holes in them where an insect had clearly found a meal. I was reminded of a time that feels very long ago, though it really was not. A time when I had a rose garden in my yard. I planted a rose garden because I did not believe that I could keep the plants alive, but I deeply wanted to prove to myself, and others, that I could tend to something as beautiful as a rose. It was a time when I felt like I was all thorns and partially eaten leaves. A time when I did not believe that anyone, myself included, could see or acknowledge the rose that extended past those thorns and leaves. I had a lot of love in my life back then, but I was missing a very important love, my own.
I contemplated pruning the roses before I put them in their vase tonight, but decided to leave the thorns and ugly leaves. I no longer view myself as just thorns and damaged leaves. I have learned that there are parts of myself that are mean and can draw blood like thorns. There are parts of me that are damaged and flawed just like the imperfect leaves. There are also parts of me that are able to beautifully bloom like the petals of a rose opening up to reveal their sweet scent and delicate flower. I am finally in a place where I can accept all of that. I can love and find beauty in all of the imperfections of myself. I can also accept and love all of the thorns and leaves in my relationships with others, knowing that I cannot have the beautiful rose without the scary, icky parts too. Love and life are like roses in their natural state, imperfect, a little dangerous, a little ugly in parts, and absolutely beautiful.

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About djunapassman

I teach yoga, write, and edit. I live in a Brooklyn neighborhood that is changing faster than I can, or care to, keep up with. Manhattan still beckons me to her island a few subways stops away, reminding me of when I lived amongst her daily hustle and bustle.
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