Bouquet of flowers

A Taylor Made Life talks Valentine's Day and gratitude.

Last year in preparation for a Valentine’s Day dinner at home, I ran to the grocery store for taco ingredients and the proper elixirs for sangria. I only had been to this particular store two times before, and each time, there was a man in the alcohol and spirits section giving out samples of whatever his company was promoting. Because I never can say no to a free sample, I gravitated to his table.

He was sampling an Edel Flower spirit mixed with champagne and a fruity, pink something-or-other that was in a sleek and slender bottle. Because of the look and the color, I asked if he had sold a lot of them as gifts, being that the next day was Valentine’s Day. He said yes, and then went into how he feels Valentine’s Day is a “Hallmark holiday,” and you should love and respect the person you’re with every day of the year.

Ron (per his name tag) continued by saying that his wife suffered two heart attacks and a stroke some years back, and it was a journey for her to return to full health. He said they have a new lease on life and are making more of an effort to enjoy themselves now. They’re traveling, not being as tight with their money and are “treating every day like Valentine’s Day.”

After less than three minutes (and three liquor samples), I was reminded of something important. Life is incredibly uncertain — something that became even more true as 2020 continued — and it’s important to treat each day as something special. It’s even more important to appreciate the people in your life who mean something to you. Treat every day like Valentine’s Day, Christmas, your birthday, their birthday, Flag Day, whatever — just make it count.

It can be difficult to see the beauty through the monotony of everyday life (especially when the recent bulk of that life has been stuck inside and away from others), but I’m of the mind there is always something to be grateful for.

A friend of mine — an energy healer and intuitive named Marla Goldberrg — once said something about gratitude that always stuck with me. She said practicing gratitude could be as simple as acknowledging to yourself how lucky you are to have laundry to do because that means you have clothing to keep you warm.

I took that to heart and began implementing a gratitude practice into my daily routine. As an avid journaler, I like to write down my thoughts before bed to decompress. At the end of each entry, I write down three to five things that I’m grateful for that day.

It could be anything as major as having a roof over my head to as minor as seeing a picture of a cute dog on Instagram. In looking back at my gratitude lists, I saw a theme of animals and food. Whatever works …

I’ve found by acknowledging and expressing gratitude as part of my daily routine, it helps make every day feel special — no matter how average it was. And all of this often reminds me of that conversation with Ron in the middle of a big box store.

Despite the fact so much has changed in our world since last Valentine’s Day, there’s still things to be grateful for. And, if you start the practice of making a daily gratitude list, here is the first thing you can write for today: “I made it through Taylor’s column without falling asleep.”

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Taylor Leddin is the Life editor at the Daily Journal and is the editor of Lifestyles of Kankakee County. Her column, “A Taylor Made Life,” publishes every Saturday in the Life section. She can be contacted at 815-937-3369 or tleddin@daily-journal or via Twitter @leddinlife.