Welcome to February, the month where fleshy cherubs shoot love-dipped arrows through the hearts of unsuspecting souls. The truth is, love is not quite as effortless as the greeting card designers, and the flower shoppes, and the candy makers would like us to think; my parents have been married for fifty years this October and I'm fairly certain if questioned, they'd both agree that no amount of Godiva chocolates has kept them together for half a century (although my father might hesitate before answering; he sure does like his dark chocolates).
Love is wonderful and magical when it falls into your lap unexpectedly, like a gift from the heavens. Your heart beats at a quicker pace, you can barely think clearly, or breathe properly; you find yourself smiling more, sleeping less, feeling young and optimistic, and filled to the brim with happy. Of course, that sweet, sweet reverie doesn't last forever, and inevitably the ordinariness, and everyday ups and downs seep in through the small fissures and cracks of life, and you not only sleep, but snore! You no longer feel young, and fresh, and light hearted, but instead, somehow become weathered, and craggy, and weary.
But what better time than February—the month of love—to stem the flow of ho hum by falling back in love with your special someone? Or, if you happen to be sans significant other, or just simply at a crossroads in your life (and, there is no shame in that, by the way—enjoy it!), then by all means, fall head over heels in love with yourself. The clock is not about to stop ticking, and the calendar continues to flip forward, so what are you waiting for? Go skinnydipping at midnight under a sliver of a moon. Pack a bathing suit, a pair of flip-flops and a sarong, and book a trip to South Beach for the weekend. Take salsa or tango lessons. Head into a salon and come back out with a totally new look (and for Heavens' sake, don't worry about the pricetag). Jet to Paris on a whim. Buy impossibly sexy shoes. Drink champagne on a Monday. Hop in the car and go on a road trip to nowhere. Whip up a batch of yummy homemade chocolate body paints, and pretend your Gaugin, and that your lovers tummy is a canvas.
The point is to bring back a smidgen of that magic you felt when you were younger, and were filled with more hope and happiness than you imagined your body could possibly hold, when you thought anything and everything was possible. You don't need a lover to feel in love; you simply need to love your life and yourself. I challenge you to make it your mission in the next twenty-nine days to do something that you wouldn't normally do today; perhaps something crazy and wonderful you did when you were a younger version of the person you are at this very moment. And I invite you to share your experiences with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In return I will be sharing my own frivolities with you over the course of the month, starting with my trip to Puerto Rico next week. Here's to a month of love in the air, and especially in our lives.
CHOCOLATE BODY PAINTS
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped.
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
Place cream and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Mix in chocolate, and stir until smooth. Remove chocolate mixture from heat, pour into bowl. When warm to touch, creatively apply to body with your fingers or small paintbrushes from the craftstore. Any leftovers (HA!) can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for about a week.