8 kinds of love to celebrate on Valentine's Day
But why should February 14 be off-limits to those who aren't in the thralls of romantic bliss?
We all have people in our lives we are fond of and value greatly. While those connections are not romantic — a thoughtful colleague, a beloved pet — nobody can deny that these relationships are equally as important and worth acknowledging.
So this Valentine's Day, let's expand our definition of love to include all of those special people in our lives.
Your local barista
Pop psychologists often recommend keeping a gratitude journal —diarizing all the positive stuff you're grateful for — which goes on my list of things that sound great but I'll never actually do — like Marie Kondo-ing my closet, or flossing.
If we each kept a gratitude journal I guarantee baristas would appear frequently in its pages.
So let me take a moment to thank my local coffee provider. This legend not only provides caffeine each morning but has even started remembering my name!
Well, almost ... yesterday they wrote Steven instead of Deirdre and gave me a latte instead of long black and oh wait, I think I just stole someone's coffee.
Your furry friend
The word pet seems rather clinical and impersonal; it implies the animal is more of an accessory of the house than a family member and companion.
Many of us consider our furballs to be children — we have their photos in our wallets, we buy them clothes, we are offended when the local childcare centre enforces their No Dogs policy.
Let your little mate know they are loved today: give your dog a cuddle, do not cuddle your fish, and leave rose petals in your cat's kitty litter so she knows she is appreciated.
The mystery colleague who always replaces the toilet roll
Oh mysterious, elusive hero: when will you free yourself from the cloak of mystery a la Bruce Wayne and unveil yourself?
We love and value your efforts, as staff toilets are often the place where people reveal their true — ahem — colours.
(Also who is it that keeps leaving paper towels on the floor instead of in the bin, and how do they manage to put on pants and work at this office? It boggles the mind.)
Brave, toilet paper-replacing hero: I love you.
Your best mate
While colourful bracelets stating best friends forever may be slightly childish, many of us have that one special mate in our lives who has seen us at our worst and still reckons we're alright.
Call it a bromance or maybe a Galentine, whatever works best: just let them know you love them.
Step-families, foster parents, housemates that have become surrogate siblings, carers, grandparents looking after grandchildren ... there is a plethora of family structures in so many households that, while non-traditional, are undoubtedly families.
Remember that family is so much more than just blood, and celebrate yours.
I know a lot of folks who weren't treated well as children so they've had to make their own families — close friends, housemates, pets: family is what you make it.
No, not the one who spilled coffee on your amazing white rug and lost your favourite book — the one you have maintained contact with and with whom you still share a close connection.
Spoiler alert: friendship is the best. Break-ups are painful but it's a wonderful thing when that relationship can move beyond "it's complicated" into friendship.
Why not thank them today for being an ace?
Your work BFF
Even if you adore your job and waltz through the door each day with a spring in your step and a song in your heart, there will still be days when going to work is a struggle.
(Also, maybe tone the enthusiasm down a bit, Captain Keen Bean, your springy steps are frightening the people on the floor below us.)
Having a work bestie is the best — someone you can laugh with, complain persistently and in a peevish or irritating way to and share "oh my God" faces with during staff meetings.
Your wheelie bin neighbour/angel
In every house and apartment I have lived in, I have been lucky to have a kindly neighbour who brings my bin in each week.
Sometimes they maintain an air of mystery, other times I catch them shuffling across the street and have to sprint out in my pyjamas to take the handle from them, saying, "thank you, thank you, thank you" profusely.
Do you have a Wheelie Bin Angel? Take the opportunity today presents to let them know how much you appreciate them (and how little you enjoy bringing the bin in).
Happy Valentine's Day!