The Day After

…And they lived happily ever after.

That’s what we’re told at the end of fairy tales. And we want to believe it. But the truth is we really don’t know what happens after the wedding. How does the couple resolve the inevitable conflicts? How do they support each other after a defeat? How do they incorporate romantic love into the reality of day-to-day ups and downs?

Today is Valentine’s Day plus One. You may be feeling disappointed and resentful about yesterday or happy and cherished. Perhaps you want to savor the warm love you received or to rehash the letdown you experienced. Your focus may even be on what you gave to those you love rather than on what you received. In any case, your perceptions become reality and your reactions set the tone for what comes next.

Life is complicated. It’s both good and bad, filled with successes and failures. Often your responses give meaning to what has occurred more than do the actual events themselves.

Take a good look at this picture. You may only see the dark clouds, portending an ominous future or instead notice the patches of color that indicate a potentially rosy outlook. The flag may suggest a sense of community and belonging or the separation from others who are not in the group. A focus on the airplane can remind you of adventures still ahead or fear of the unknown. Even the tankers in the background can raise feelings of optimism or pessimism about our environment.

It’s not really concrete objects, events and people that define our lives but how we react to them. Our stories begin in earnest the day after. It’s not easy but that’s when we begin the real work of resilience and creation. How will you choose to tell your own story? With gratitude and forgiveness or bitterness and remorse? It’s up to you.

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