If you’re of the many who don’t believe the hype when it comes to Valentine’s Day, this post may change your mind

BY: SHANNON SCHILLING

It is the time of the year where the days are shorter and your feet are colder. But upon a rainbow of snow is one good thing, Valentine’s Day!

The formal celebrations of this Christian holiday go back centuries. In fact, St. Valentine was a real person and is the Patron Saint of Epilepsy.

A metal sculpture of two hearts facing a lake in the winter with padlocks locked on the inside grid of both hearts
Photo by Simon Matzinger from Pexels

Nonetheless, Wikipedia has let me know that it was in the 14th century that the date of February 14th  gave rise to courtly, or chivalrous, love (think knights going on battles for their ladies’ honour) which has now flourished above any expectations.

Seven hundred years into it, Valentine’s Day is still here, in all its commercial manifestations. But at its root, the day is about love. It does not matter who you love, or what being brings an impression of collective guidance in world, but love is the answer. Even if only for a day.

There’s a growing trend to celebrate yourself on Valentine’s Day, so whether you’re focusing on romantic love with a partner, or are treating yourself to the self care and self love you so deserve, here are some tips to help you out on this most romantic day:

Add some scent to your life:

If scents are your thing, make it feel like a day of celebration and encase yourself in a lovely aroma. Scented candles such as the ones below can add a lot to your mood. According to scentsyblog.com:

  1. Cinnamon – adds spice to your day
  2. Jasmine – smoothes out tension with its rich and sultry aroma
  3. Orange blossom – calms the nerves and / or awakens the mind
  4. Rose –  allows romance to flourish through your thoughts
  5. Sugar – a sweet tease making for a sensitive touch
  6. Vanilla –  completely comforts the soul.

a candle burns

Chow Down: 

Now is a good time to accept the role of what we determine as essential for consumption. According to Herbazest.com these foods can give you a self love boost:

  1. Cacao – of course, chocolate on Valentine’s Day! This will be helpful to increase your energy level. If you want to stay away from eating chocolate, stores like Bathbodyworks.com (in my local mall, as well) sell the scent, body butter and bubble bath.
  2. Cherry: I love this one, I am very interested in picking up the Japanese Cherry Mist they have at Bathbodyworks.com. But, for consumption purposes, the cherry is chock full of Vitamins A + C, both of which will strengthen the immune system. While it’s not cherry season per-say, there’s always the more affordable frozen variety.
  3. Passion Fruit: I was quite delighted to see this! It has therapeutic properties believed to relieve anxiety and lower blood pressure! The smell is also great, it may psychologically boost my energy, but it could be that it removes my tension which frees up my mind!

After a brain injury it is so important to take care of the mind, as well as the body. Mindfulness can clear your thoughts of negativity and bring back the opportunity to calmly observe your surroundings.  The following information comes from www.psycom.net:

The simple, automatic luxury of breathing is the fundamental presence of your mood and deserves your utmost attention. Using a slow, controlled effort, close your eyes and take a breath in through your nostrils, feeling your stomach rise (not your chest) and out through your mouth (or nose). I’m taking a time warp back to my Pilates classes! This calming acquisition has potential to soften any tension in your muscles and lighten the weight of your brain.

2 Cherries in a heart shaped saucer

Listening is a great meditation tool, since when you’re in a peaceful state of mind, even disruptive noises can be calming. Even if you have conversation around you, or the television on, being in a peaceful state allows you to lightly contemplate meanings and suggestion, observing without anxiety or tension.

Finally, sense the world by using everything that is available to you. Not only are you able to look before you touch the heart-shaped chocolate, but listen to the crinkle as you open the foil, finally take a sniff before you taste that ultimate chomp!

If your brain injury allows it, two books I’d suggest are great for getting in the mood for love are: Jennifer E. Smith’s The Geography of You and Me, about people in a long distance relationship and (of course) Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, set in early 19th century England. You can find other suggestions here and here for your romantic reading pleasure.


Shannon lives with her fiance Christopher and baby girl Annabelle in Oakville, Ontario. Shannon and Christopher both have brain injuries and met each other after a BIST   monthly meeting in Toronto in 2016. Thanks for the help and support!

The headache and heartache of romance

BY: MARK KONING

As Valentine’s Day approaches, love is (supposedly) in the air, but what does that mean to a brain injury survivor? Personally, I’m not a Cupid fan favourite. Are my feelings brain injury related? I don’t know.

heart that says 'stay single'
PHOTO: ANTI-VALENTINE’S DAY

The thought of recognizing a shared love with close family and friends basically sits well with me. But the celebration of romance? That just gives me a headache. I don’t have anything against the concept of a relationship between two people – whether it’s in a marriage or a ‘going steady’ deal – but the idea of personally entering into a romantic relationship with someone causes an intermittent cranial pain.

I find just the idea of cramming liaisons between two partners into one day overwhelming. I understand that romance is a blossoming thing that is not just about one calendar day, but still…

I’ve experienced a few relationships throughout my life which have resulted in happiness and heartache as tag-alongs. Some of these I’ve written about in my book, Challenging Barriers & Walking the Path.

Nothing I’ve gone through has grown into a long, lasting, relationship. These experiences have, however, lead to feelings of discomfort. I’ve been faced with not knowing what to do or say, and seeing as how I’ve grown up not knowing what to do or say, the feeling scares me. I’ve had, and still have at times, difficulties understanding myself, so trying to understand the opposite sex can result in a spinning effect.

It has taken me some confusion, and heartache, to understand and feel comfortable with who I am. I don’t know if I am ready for anything else.

This ABI has presented so many difficulties, but I think, for me, has also offered so much clarity. I’ve learned to work hard and take things in stride, so perhaps my Valentine is still yet to come.


Mark’s passion to lend a helping hand, offer advice and give back has developed into a moral and social responsibility with the goal of sharing, inspiring and growing – for others as well as himself. His experience as a survivor, caregiver, mentor and writer has led to his credibility as an ABI Advocate and author of his life’s story, Challenging Barriers & Walking the Path. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Koning or go to www.markkoning.com.

 

This Valentine’s Day – fall in love with YOURSELF

BY: CELIA MISSIOS 

After you’ve gone through a life changing event such as a brain injury, the person looking back at you in the mirror can be a stranger. The reflection may still look like you, but the mannerisms, the thinking and the constant feeling of ‘there’s something missing’ can be overwhelming. This disconnect can affect not only the relationship you have with yourself – how you take care of yourself, set boundaries and your self-confidence – but also the relationships you have with others.

To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness.”- Robert Morely

Don't forget to fall in love with yourself - Carrie Bradshaw
One of the hardest challenges I faced during my recovery was learning to love myself, after the accident. As I wrote in Change Your Shoes; Change Your Life  for the Soulful Relationships – Adventures in Manifesting series:

As weeks turned to months and months turned to years, the pain and torment at the loss of me pre-accident did not lessen. At times, it seemed even more painful than the physical pain I dealt with every day. Everyone tried to assure me things would get better, but each time I looked in the mirror I saw a stranger in the reflection that looked back at me.”

BIST - Love Yourself FirstI’m not going to sugar coat things. Friends, learning to love yourself can be difficult, especially after a traumatic, life changing experience. Self-love is about total acceptance. It’s about deeply caring for yourself and your happiness. It’s about loving yourself at this very moment and every moment, unconditionally. With small steps you will move forward and start loving that fabulous person looking back at you in the mirror!

Here are 3 small steps to get you started:

Change Your Thoughts – Our thoughts are important, they create our reality. Start focusing on things that you can do, things that you want to happen in your life. The more positive energy you put out there the more positive things will start to materialize. When the doctors told me I would never wear high heels again, I kept telling myself I will wear heels. I visualized myself wearing heels and now,  over time, I am wearing heels. Maybe not for the length of time I once used to, but I am wearing heels!!!

think positive and positive things will happenStart a regular practice – meditation, yoga and gratitude journaling are three tools that I use. Not only do they provide “me time”, but these practices allow you to connect more deeply with yourself. The more you are able to connect with yourself the more self-healing continues to happen.

Treat yourself – take yourself out for a nice dinner, a day/afternoon at the spa, an afternoon cup of tea or do something that you really enjoy. The important thing is making time in your day to do something special for yourself and to focus on not feeling remotely guilty about putting your iPhone on silent and spending time on YOU.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, whether you have a sweetheart to share it with or are spending it solo, do something for yourself that encourages you to get to know yourself better, to take care of yourself and to fall in love with yourself again. After all, your happiness starts with the best LOVE AFFAIR you will have, the one with yourself.
self love jar
Make a self-love jar  
A self-love jar is a great project you can make for yourself to remind you of how wonderful you are, especially on days when you’re feeling  down. Fill it with positive self-love affirmations, positive things that people have said about you, things that you like about yourself or self-love quotes you have come across. What is important is that the words are positive, motivational and inspirational.

You will need

  • 5 recipe card size pieces of coloured paper
  • paper cutter (or scissors)
  • jar with lid
  • ribbon or decorative Elastic Bands
  • pen or marker

How to Make Self-Love Jar

How to make it

  • using paper cutter (or scissors) slice each recipe card into 5 strips (about ½” in thick)
  • write a positive message (quote, affirmation, something about you)
  • fold pieces of paper (you will have 25 pieces) with writing on the inside and place in jar
  • place either ribbon or decorative elastic band around jar and replace lid

 

Various Self-Love Jars

How to use it 

When you are feeling down pull out a piece of paper and read the message. It will remind you of something that is positive and/or amazing about you!!!  Place message back in jar for another time.


 

Celia Missios
Celia Missios

Celia Missios is a brain injury survivor who has embraced her new found strengths and created a life that fits who she is today. She shares her journey in hopes that it will help others who are experiencing depression, anxiety, stress and facing transition in their life successfully move away from fear, pain, and deflated attitude about life – step into the life they want. Celia is the founder of the blog High Heeled Life – inspiration for living a luxurious and balanced life; featured author in Adventures in Manifesting – Soulful Relationships; a Peer Mentor with BIST; a regular speaker for Canadian Blood Services – Speakers Bureau. To learn more about Celia and be inspired visit www.HighHeeledLife.com or www.CeliaMLifeCoach.com