Planning Your Valentines Day if You Are Not Part of a Couple

hearts

The cards and gifts have been in stores since right after Christmas and advertising is hitting the airwaves. The pressure is building for those in relationships to make Valentines Day a meaningful expression of how much you care for your significant other. Some look forward to this as a highlight of the year; others know it’s important for at least one of the couple and go along.

But what about the rest of us? The ones who are not in an intimate relationship? We can ignore it as much as we can. Or we can let it make us regret our singleness and go into a funk.

Or we can decide now to spend that day in a way that affirms us and others. What could that look like? I was fortunate a few years back to experience one such alternative. A friend invited 5 single women who didn’t know each other well to her home for dinner. We had great food and wine and shared our stories. It was a lovely, affirming evening.

Interestingly, when I googled “ what to do on Valentines Day if you’re single”, there are 40,200,000 results. Clearly there are a lot of people with ideas. A few are rather negative (like an anti-Valentine party), but most are interesting ideas. Here are a few of my favorites, in the categories of things to do by yourself and things to do with others:

SOLITARY ACTIVITIES

A self-care/spa night, including a bubble bath with candles and candy
Make yourself a fancy meal of foods you really love
Do something you’ve been putting off: something that will give you a sense of accomplishment when it’s done
Treat yourself to a bouquet of your favorite flowers
Buy yourself something you really want
Update your bucket list and get excited about your future plans

THINGS TO DO WITH OTHERS:

 Have a group spa night – facials, manicures, pedicures, massages
 Go to a movie with friends – anything but a romantic theme
 Have a potluck dinner with friends
 Host a sleepover/slumber party with silly movies and lots of junk food
 Brighten other people’s day by showing them you care – your parents, siblings, cousins, etc.
 Host a dance party with friends who love to let loose, dance and sing
 Have a Golden Girls–style gathering around the kitchen table with a few friends – ice cream and/or cheesecake and lots of conversation – serious, silly, whatever happens
 Have a game night – board games + whatever makes you and your friends laugh
 Have a Secret Valentine exchange (a variation of Secret Santa) with other single friends, including parameters on cost, etc.

A simple reminder – stay off social media if seeing the posts of couples having fun bums you.

And there’s always the alternative of simply ignoring the whole thing. It’s a weeknight; do what you usually do if possible. If not, stay home and read or watch television. No biggy.

The Best Gift?

Best GiftDuring this part of the year, regardless of what holiday(s) you are celebrating, the chances are good that you will be gathering with people in some context. Perhaps it is with family, friends, or even work colleagues in a different context than normal. You may be traveling and meeting people in airplanes, trains or buses and conversations begin.

Some of us dread or look forward to the conclusion of such encounters – at least with some of the people with whom we will be gathering.

How many times have you been bored with the level of conversation – kids, ailments, complaints, weather – those mundane topics? What did you do? Shrink into a corner with one person with whom you could discuss at least one interesting topic? Volunteer to help in the kitchen or run to get a missing item from the store? Simply walk around, nodding and engaging in very brief exchanges and moving on?

Or perhaps discussions begin where there are wide differences of opinion, judgements, and it’s quite clear the conflict is going to escalate. I discovered this intriguing approach that might give us a way to prevent or diffuse some of these situations.

Kathryn P. Haydon encourages us to facilitate connection with others and poses this question: “What if the best gift we can give is to ask more meaningful questions?”

Kathryn encourages us to start by getting into a curiosity mindset and “think about what ideas, patterns, or topics spark your curiosity and try to connect these to the people you are going to see.” Ask a question about something you know about that person, and then follow-up questions that will deepen the conversation. Her favorite follow-up questions begin with “What might be all the…..”

This kind of conversation helps you connect with individuals and makes them feel that you value and understand them. It can also divert away from the controversial topics.  Isn’t that what we all want? Hopefully, people will ask you questions in return and before you know it, you are really enjoying the gathering you were not so excited about. In addition, there will be more to look forward to the next time you see these people. It’s a win-win.

Great Superfood Choices for Summer

Superfood - Cherries

Many of us eat differently in the summer, particularly when the temperatures are hottest.  We eat lighter, and often healthier.  We can make intentionally improve our nutrition by making great superfood choices.

Superfoods are foods that contain more nutrients than average: very high in vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and more. Here are 13 that you can benefit from and enjoy during these summer months.

1. Cherries
Cherries have multiple amazing antioxidants. One of them is anthocyanin which provides easing of inflammation in your body and can help with joint pain. You can eat either fresh or frozen cherries.

2. Kiwi
Kiwi is sweet with a little tartness and includes many essential vitamins and minerals. It is a potassium powerhouse: a cup of sliced kiwi has the same amount of potassium as a cup of bananas. It also is lower in sugar and calories than many potassium-laden fruits and veggies with 7 grams of sugar – along with 5 grams of fiber – in a serving.

3. Bell Peppers
Choose all colors of bell peppers, such as green, yellow, orange, and red. In fact, using multiple colors adds vibrancy to your meals and often gives you a variance in the nutrients you get. Bell peppers contain vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and phytonutrients. Plus, they are very low in fat and calories.

4. Herbs
Most herbs are considered superfoods since they contain so many wonderful vitamins and minerals, but here are some of the best ones to find in the summer:
Basil – Nutrients in basil include vitamin A, vitamin K, manganese, vitamin C, omega=3 fatty acids, magnesium, iron, folate, and calcium.
Cilantro – Cilantro is extremely low in cholesterol, but it contains vitamins like C, E, A, and K. It also has dietary fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Parsley – Like many other herbs, it contains a good amount of folate, iron, vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C.

5. Swiss Chard
Swiss Chard is another type of dark, leafy green vegetable just like spinach and kale, except it is a little more bitter. It is full of phytonutrients, especially in the red-purple stems and veins of this vegetable. That is where you get a lot of the nutrients. Swiss chard also contains potassium and magnesium, two nutrients that are essential for a healthy, well-balanced diet. Eat it raw or cooked; if you cook it, it will be less bitter.

6. Lemons
Lemons are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants and also contain fiber and micronutrients, as well as being very low in calories. There are endless ways to use them, but here are a few ideas:
Infused Water – Add lemons to water (as well as other fruits you may choose). A simple sugar-free strawberry lemon water tastes like lemonade, without added sweeteners.
Lemon Ice Cubes – Just add lemon juice to an ice cube tray and cover with filtered water. Add these to every glass of water you drink for nutrients and flavor.
Garlic Lemon Sauces – Make a citrus sauce or dressing and use them in a casserole with chicken, over a light salad, on pasta, or even to coat veggies.

7. Spinach
Spinach is more nutrient-dense than romaine or iceberg lettuce and makes a healthy salad on its own or combined with other greens. The top nutrients in spinach include Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, Iron, Folate, Copper, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, Manganese and Magnesium.

8. Avocado
Avocado is actually a fruit, and often considered a “superfruit” – or a superfood fruit. You get a lot of great fiber in avocados, plus vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin K, beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and potassium.

9. Watermelon
Watermelon is relatively low in calories, is fresh, sweet, and has a high water content so a little bit goes a long way. It is also loaded with nutrients including Vitamin C and Vitamin A, which help reduce inflammation, lower your blood pressure, and even protect your skin from UV rays thanks to the lycopene.

10. Strawberries
Strawberries have a higher-than-average amount of vitamin C. They are very antioxidant-rich to help fight illnesses and boost your immune system, and contain an excellent amount of manganese, a mineral that helps improve your health and vitality. Other important nutrients in this fruit are potassium and B vitamins.

11. Summer Squash
There are many different varieties of squash, from yellow squash to zucchini, but not all of them are available year-round. Summer squash have a good amount of vitamin C, as well as lutein and xeaxanthin. You can get help preventing a summer cold thanks to some squash in your diet. You can eat them raw, make a roasted veggie side dish with other veggies, saute with olive oil and seasonings, and include them in a pasta dish.

12. Peaches
Peaches not only have vitamin C, but peaches also contain potassium and fiber. Besides eating them fresh and whole, they can be added to salads, served over ice cream or yogurt, or grilled for a sidedish.

13. Blueberries
Blueberries contain vitamin C, fiber, vitamin K, and manganese. They are low in fat and calories as well. Enjoy your blueberries many different ways, such as on your salads, mixed in with yogurt or granola, as a side dish, or just a light snack.

Eat light and healthy with these Summer Superfoods!!