Practicing Love

by Amber Jensen,

It’s easy to get sucked in by the social expectations of an agreed-upon action or result. Holidays often succumb to this fun little dance. We can say we won’t buy the cheesy gift or cheap chocolates and we can vow we won’t buy a greeting card for the same price as a paperback novel, yet here we are, facing another Valentine’s Day, possibly hoping our loved ones have also sworn off cheap plastic love tokens.

There’s nothing wrong with the standard Love Day gifts and there’s nothing wrong with giving and receiving. I think the idea of right and wrong is a bit much to collapse upon a minor holiday meant to celebrate love.

For our family Valentine’s Day isn’t just another day but it’s also not a standardized greeting card holiday. As the mother of tiny humans I have been guilty of purchasing pink stuffed animals and heart shaped candies. It can be fun to do those special things. It can also be a bit of a mindless act. The institution of consumer goods has made it so easy to go through the motions.

Love isn’t something you can buy, wrap or physically quantify. We can make space for it and we can hold evidence of it but it can’t be shuffled and dealt all in one day with a card and a whim.

Practicing love looks like being grateful. It looks like paying forward small acts of kindness. The practice of love shows up in the act of forgiveness and in compassionate community involvement. Love in motion looks like calling a family member we know to be struggling. It looks like setting aside a disagreement and coming back to it with a clear head. Love can also mean listening when you yourself don’t feel heard.

For Valentine’s Day our family goes out to a special meal together, the six of us, and we enjoy each other. My husband and I enjoy spending that time with our children and each other and because we practice love as much as we possibly can throughout the year, this special treat feels like a culmination of our efforts. It feels like a celebration of all the love we have given and all the love we hope to have the opportunity to give in the future.

The little people who were born of our love are often the best reminders of what it truly means to practice love through the attitudes we have, the kindness and patience we employ and the actions we take.

Yes, they will each receive a tiny box of chocolates and maybe a handmade card. Yes, we will make greetings for their classmates. And, yes, we will celebrate a greeting card holiday.

The intention and action put into it is as important as the act itself.

If we hope to shift the motion of our combined experience of life we need only to shift how we approach it and pass along loving kindness.

Amber is a mother, wife, writer and dirt road philosopher. She hales from small-town Idaho and makes her home on a spread of dirt in Eastern Washington with her husband and four wild children. She is dedicated to a life of contribution and finding the pieces of our journeys that connect us all in our greatness.

The imperfect and incomplete nature of life is often overwhelming and stifling. By choosing it and owning it, Amber has taken some of the dirtiest situations and spun them into lessons to live by. Her greatest inspirations are her children and their dirt antics. Learn more about Amber by visiting