I will admit that I have, on a few occasions, made fun of the ‘holidays’ invented by Hallmark and other greeting card purveyors (Mother-in-Law Day, We-Love-Our-Principal Day, Happy Pet Groomer Day). And now that greeting cards can routinely cost $4.00 or more, many of us have decided to only send greetings to our curated ‘friends’ circle online. But this year, I want to take this opportunity to encourage every one of us to make a robust list of people to whom we can send valentines, whether snail mail or electronic. Remember back in elementary school when you made one for each and every person in your class (even the mean kid you really didn’t like)? It was a day to celebrate the fact that everyone appreciates being recognized – as friends, family, partners and colleagues. This February, we could all use a few more hearts sent our way.

As most of us continue to work remotely, or head into our work with the knowledge that we may be exposed to an invisible virus, the drag on mental health has been increasingly raised as a serious side effect of fighting the pandemic and the economic challenges COVID-19 has created. Human connections have become strained: physically, socially, politically, even spiritually, if singing by yourself on Sunday mornings while ‘zooming’ into a church service isn’t very satisfying (and how could it be?).

How can sending valentines help? My grandmother used to tell me to “look around and you will see people with more problems than you” whenever I whined about something. I credit her advice for my inclination to do just that when I’m feeling sorry for myself. Doing something—even a little thing like sending a greeting card—gets me out of my self-pity party and feeling constructive. And I know I am not alone in feeling sorry for myself these days, though in truth I am one of those who have simply been inconvenienced by COVID-19. No one in my family has gotten sick; we are not physically working on the front lines of the pandemic response. My business has been challenged, but not so disrupted that it is at risk. At a time when so, so many people have been hurt in this global crisis, I have much for which to be grateful. And so, in honor of the lessons I learned from my grandmother, I’ll be working on sending out messages of support, valentines of recognition, to as many people as I can reach.

What is your approach to staying optimistic and grateful for the next phase of this journey we are all on, together yet isolated? Happy Valentine’s Day.

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