Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day! Today I am all alone (well, except for three cats and two dogs) - alone for three days, as my husband has traveled to Iowa and my youngest son to Idaho. I have not been alone for three consecutive days since my oldest son was born 25 years ago. It is a strange feeling. Last night I was at the casino (I like to bring in small amounts of money and see how long I can last), and when I thought "I should really get home," I realized that I really had no reason to hurry. When I went to the gym, I measured my workout by how long I wanted to be there, not by when everybody else was done. I watched "Antiques Roadshow" on our projector, something that would NEVER happen if the rest of my family was home. Instead of cooking a big meal, I made myself eggs and toast. was very different, and not at all unpleasant. But since today is Valentine's Day, it also started me thinking about being alone on Valentine's Day. This national holiday of love has a bad rap, setting up even those of us who are in relationships for disappointment, blame and bitterness. So what could we be doing with this love fest instead? How about SPREADING some love?

In this age of global communications, it's easy to spread that love locally, nationally or around the world. Giving and volunteering is a sure-fire way to make yourself feel better. In fact, many studies indicate that volunteering is actually good for your health. 

So how can you get involved? How can you become more active in giving, volunteering or both? Here are some suggestions:

  • Contact your local food bank. Food banks often need help taking in food, stocking the shelves, or staffing the facility so that the food gets to where it needs to go.
  • Ask a local minister or priest about things you can do to help in the community.
  • Visit a nursing home or senior center. Many elderly people are lonely themselves, and anxious for someone to talk to.
  • Ask local schools if they have need for volunteers. Sitting down with a kindergarten class and reading "One Fish, Two Fish" is a sure way to make you feel warm inside. 
  • If animals are your thing, contact the local animal shelter to find out what kind of help you can offer. Dogs need to be walked, cats need to be loved, and the animals just need human contact.
  • Volunteer at one of this country's marvelous National Parks. 
  • The Red Cross, a national disaster relief organization, often has need of volunteers 
  • Participate in one of several national service programs, listed at
  • A loan of just $25 can help an entrepreneur in developing countries, allow a farmer to buy seed, provide fabric to make clothing in Africa, or help send a child to school. Loans at recycle as soon as they are paid back; you can lend again and again, or you can take your money back out as needed. To date I have made 13 Kiva loans; as they get paid back, I lend again. You can give Kiva cards as gifts, as well, so people you love can have the joy of giving.
  • Heifer International allows people to help purchase agricultural livestock and basic living necessities for people in developing countries. A donation can help buy a chicken, goat, a pair of seedlings, or build a clean water pump in a village.
There are many, MANY other opportunities out there to volunteer, to give or to get involved. So this Valentine's Day, instead of being mad that your significant other didn't surprise you with a bottle of merlot and some chocolate strawberries, or instead of hating the holiday because you are alone, turn this day of love into a chance to spread some positivity around the world. Happy Valentine's Day to all of you!


  1. Hubby and I dont celebrate it. You shoukd show your spouse/partner that you love them every day...not just one day a year. Love the ideas you bring up!

  2. lot of great ideas here Kate. As a newlywed still (2nd time around) I do value it as a holiday though we try to remember to show our appreciation and affection daily. Your ideas for reaching out in the community are wonderful. I find in my small aging community there tends to be someone who can always appreciate a little kindness and firmly believe that what goes around comes around!