It is February when ‘everyone’ is busy getting ready for Valentine – did you just say not everyone under your breath as you read this? Not to worry, I shall oblige you and substitute the word with the phrase ‘many people across the world’.
Welcome to February 2020!
Often termed the ‘month of love’, this second month of the year in the Julian calendar is originally from the word Februarius which is a Latin word that means ‘to purify’. The Romans reserved Februarius as the month of purification and cleansing holding the February celebrations every 15th Day of the month.
Then along came Valentine’s Day on February 14th which celebrates love. The origins of Valentine’s Day is a bit of a puzzle; some attribute it to an old dark Roman ritual of men hitting women in drunken revelry while others give the credence for it to the Normans who kept it as a day for celebrating ‘the loving of women’. Yet another popular story of when it all started, is that of Saint Valentine. Whichever school of thought you belong to on the origins of Valentine’s Day which dominates the perception of February as the month of love, matters not. What matters is that it has come to stay.
Are you wondering why I have gone through the trouble of throwing light on February? It is simple. You must have figured it out by now. Purification and Love are powerful concepts, both embedded in one month. The questions we should be asking ourselves is “how does one key into the powerfully charged atmosphere that these dual concepts bestow on February? Which leads to the reflection on who or what are we loving and purifying? Hold your thoughts right there…. we will come back to them, but first, let me recount a story to you, my dear reader.
Last week, I was doing my usual domestic chores with my daughter who is 16 going on 30 years. I started to sing a song some of you may be familiar with by John Legend.
The interesting thing was that I gave the tune my own lyrics and I know Legendary John can only forgive me.
As I mopped, hoovered and did all the interesting domestic work, I sang happily at the top of my voice like I just won the lottery:
Cause all of me, loves all of me
I love all my curves and all my edges
All my perfect imperfections
I will give my all to me
I will give my me to me
I am my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning……..
“Mummy, I know you are the one person who can sing that song just like this. Your self- love is only a millimeter away from narcissism” my daughter said laughing.
“How someone can just be so happy doing all this hard work is something I cannot understand. This is how you do everything. I remember the day we were delayed by a tram accident on our way to the train station. You just smiled and said God will delay the train because he knows you have no money to buy another set of tickets and that you must be at that event on the day. I told you we would miss it because we would get there more than 10 minutes late. You smiled and said, it would be delayed just for you. Other commuters became grumpy but you just smiled happily to their irritation”
“Ohhh yes,” I said to her as the memory of that day came rushing back.
“I remember and of course the train was there delayed just for you and me waiting for us to arrive” I laughed
“I was very amazed to see it was there mummy. Also, when I asked you what we would do if we got there and it had left, you smiled happily and said it would be there. However, you went on to say why think too much? When we reach that bridge, we would cross it.”
I smiled as she spoke and kept at my John Legend mutated version of my song.
Mummy, you are just so interesting…. I remember the last time at the restaurant when that other customer was being pure racist, and the manager came to apologize. You just smiled and asked to the hearing of everyone, very calmly, why he perceived you would be angry? When he explained that the behaviour of the other customer was unbecoming, you just smiled and said “Not to worry, I did not even notice anyone or anything here…. was there anyone acting challenged by my diva presence? If there was, they are in for a long haul because I am here to have fun.”
“Hahaahaa…. I do remember of course! Did you notice how he gradually got redder in colour as he got angrier? The fact I was so chilled at his ugly racist remarks made him lose his cool a lot more than if I had acted like he expected – ‘the angry black woman’. It also made the manager more worried hence his persistent efforts to placate me.”
“Mummy, you are one big paradox as my literature teacher would say. You have a trailer load of self-pride and yet you are so humble.”
I stopped what I was doing and turned to answer her.
“Hey you, young woman…. what you call self-pride is different from being proud. It is an overdose of self-love added to a good portion of self-confidence multiplied by a cathedral size of self-esteem minus even the tiniest fraction of the condition called selfishness.”
“Go, mummy! Preach it!” said my daughter handing me the mop stick so I could use it as a mock microphone. I took it gleefully from her and continued my preaching to my willing solo audience:
“I have said it before, and I will say it again to you, young woman – it is only the amount you have in your bank account you can issue cheques for. You cannot give what you do not have. So, if you do not love yourself, how will you have any love to give anyone else? When you love yourself, you understand your flaws and you seek to change them. When you love yourself, you do the things that give you joy. You do not look onto others for your happiness. You have no expectations of others per say. You become immune to whatever others say and do that would otherwise have hurt you. You become so immune that you even love them when they say those hurtful things. You radiate what is inside of you. Since you are filled with love, you radiate love too. You begin to see that whatever happens today, there is a better thing beyond it tomorrow. This your lovely self is unstoppable and can only grow from strength to strength. You just begin to burst and overflow with love that is pure and not orchestrated. No scripts attached – real and not fake.”
“That is my mummy – I believe you!” shouted my daughter as she clapped.
“However, you forgot to add your usual advice mummy– that I must be unapologetic about this love of myself”
We both laughed and started to sing our new-found version of the legendary song:
“All of me, loves all of me….”
When I was asked to write this February on how loving yourself is key to loving and living well with others, by Dishusbandmata Team, this discussion I had with my daughter and the incidents surrounding it came to mind. Let’s go back to your held thoughts; after all the hassle during the end of year celebrations and the fear of the unknown that comes with January and its myriad of resolutions as well as a mostly empty bank account, …..who are you loving and what are you purifying this February as you recoup?
You must have figured out my answer by now; in all the glitz that is February the month of love, love yourself and purify yourself. Purifying yourself means a reboot and not necessarily a new you. You are you – the only one of you made. No other prototype. From the examples given above, you see how you can make living a pleasant experience. Even when difficult times and people come our way as life is bound to throw at us, we embrace them with the joy of one who is at peace within. When we fall, as we are wont to do now and again, we rise with the vision of how far we are poised to soar in our mind’s eye. As you make out that time for yourself, just to love you, remember to strike the balance and let the love flow out to others because “Our shared humanity is the true religion”.
What are you waiting for? It is February let the loving begin!
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© Loretta Oduware Ogboro-Okor (Author of the book MY FATHER’S DAUGHTER and Chief Editor Loretta Reveals writes from Sheffield, United Kingdom