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Valentine's Day

Single Out a Different Kind of Love

5 ways for the unattached to celebrate Feb. 14

Do a random act of kindness. Express your love by doing an unexpected kindness for someone else. One day I was in line at the airport buying some breakfast, and a tall young man behind me was trying to figure out what he could afford. He was so shy and gentle with the guy behind the counter that he touched my heart. I turned to him (all 6 feet 2 inches of him) and said, "Order what you want; I'll pay for it."

The moment was short, but I felt ridiculously good afterward. Imagine a whole day of such small, heartfelt moments.

Adopt a pet. If you have the emotional capacity to love and care for an animal (and a lifestyle that permits it), adoption would give you a great way to celebrate attachment. Granted, you can't repeat this every year, unless you want to turn into an eccentric public health threat with a cat colony. However, a new pet could work wonders for you this Feb. 14.

And if animals touch your heart but you can't have one, maybe this would be the week to register as a foster home for a dog or cat. You could also help rehabilitate an abused or neglected shelter animal.

Give thanks and pay it forward. Give love that continues beyond one 24-hour period. There are many people who are especially needy around Valentine's, and you could make this the first of many days in which you give them support.

Adopt a soldier and be his buddy; send a care package, or write a note about your appreciation and awe of his service. Or if that is not where your heart needs to go, think about signing up as a volunteer at an assisted living facility (you could bring your new puppy!). You could also go out and make this the first time you do environmental cleanup on the weekend. You'd meet other people like you, who give back to their communities and to the world.

Bottom line: Valentine's Day is a time to celebrate your heart's capabilities. Romance is fine, but it isn't the only way to make your heart expand or to create joy and contentment.

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