Joz of Life: Take the plunge and learn to love yourself this Valentine’s Day


Let’s get metaphysical for a minute. It’s February. It’s a leap year and if you are anything like me, you are currently bracing yourself for a mega love bomb set to explode in everything you consume. Media. Food. Entertainment. Cupid is coming in hot! And that’s cool. I encourage you to revel in it. Hearts and flowers, the whole bit. You do you! But, for those of you who aren’t feeling that love jones, I’ve got something for you. I’m talking to you, Valentine’s Grinch. Let’s do this.

Love is still on the menu. It just won’t be served in the traditional way. This month, we’re talking about two things: love and desire. Perhaps you are lucky enough to be building a life with your soulmate. Or, maybe the look of pure adoration you receive from your dog sends your heart soaring (now that’s love!).

2020 has me re-evaluating damn near everything. But first on the list ─ love. How I express it. How I receive it. How I can spread it. And, how I define it. It hasn’t been about love for me lately. Not really. I gave a lot of myself, my time, my energy─ my love, to people, projects, issues and concerns leaving myself with an empty cup to close out the decade. And you most certainly cannot pour from an empty cup.

No one was to blame for my love blockage but me. I didn’t prioritize myself and I ended 2019 wrecked. I ended it in a hospital room. Two days before I was set to check-in for a scheduled surgery, I received a call from my surgeon. I was severely anemic and needed two bags of blood before surgery. I spent a wild afternoon in the ER, narrowly escaping a hospital neighbor with C. diff and almost two full days sleeping after the surgery.

My body. The universe. God. All of the above. I received a very clear message. Slow. Down. Start to show your body love. Roger that, message received. After some soul searching and a binge of health documentaries, I came to believe I needed to double down on my previous dabbling with a plant-based diet.

I couldn’t bring myself to say the word at first. Vegan. Yikes. Aren’t those people super-judgy, tempeh-loving, granola-crunching, Buddha-bowl making weirdos? Can I really give up cheese? Meat, yes. But, gouda!? Have you no decency?

Conceptually, I had been on board for a while. Execution? What a pain in the ass. I just didn’t want to mess with it. Yet, here we are, first rattle out of the can, and what I am writing about? Why being a vegan is the ultimate expression of love. First rule of vegan club. Tell everyone about vegan club.

Hear me out carnivores (I’m talking to you, keto people). First, you should know that I’ve done the leg work. In another life, I was a competitive body builder. And believe me when I tell you that obsessing about achieving ketosis was atop a very short list of things that mattered to me for the better part of five years. Second, if a meat-based diet is helping you reach your health goals, that’s great.

But don’t take my word for it. You know who else knows a thing or two about getting swole and veganism? Arnold Schwarzenegger. That’s right. The man who once compared the pump he got from lifting to an orgasm, eats a 99 percent vegan diet. How about the players from Tennessee Titans, who went plant-based (as documented in the 2018 film “The Game Changers”)?

The pursuit of health is worthy no matter the path. But, if you are looking for love in 2020, why not start with a form of love that benefits you, the earth and a few other beings along for this ride around the sun?

Preachy vegan soapboxing over. Time to move on to the juicy stuff. February is also all about desire. I’m not talking about heavy- breathing. But please, live your best life. I am talking about desire manifested as curiosity.

Call it a thirst for life. A love of learning. The hallmark of this desire is a search for knowledge or constant seeking of information. In our current social climate, I find myself wishing (and hoping and praying) that more of us would decide to get a little more curious about our world.

The source of our information. The source of our food. Where does our shampoo come from? Is my sincerely held belief, in fact… accurate? Does it matter? Who benefits from my adherence to social norms?

If that’s too heavy, start small. Can we have a baby Yoda spin-off? Why is my car making that noise? Did Jessica from accounting just wink at me? The point is, there is more to desire than pheromones and booty slapping. Explore your thirst for knowledge. See where it takes you. Serve yourself a big cup of curiosity and think critically about what to -consume. Yes, even cheese.