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Is it safe to come out yet, has the annual Valentine’s hype been blown over. The shops and restaurants that become spontaneously shrouded in dusty pinks and lusty reds, once discerning shops become heaving emporiums of lurve. As if by magic all the chocolates in the world are heart shaped. Advertisers offer hollow assurances that the recipient of their wares will win the heart of their sweetheart, find everlasting happiness, and romance hotter than anything E.L James could conjure. It also has the ability to make singletons or those who happen not to be taking part in this global festival of amour, inadequate and unloved.

The truth is and I suspect most of us know it already, that real love, real romance cannot be sold, and certainly not confined to a single day. Whilst it is also true that “…it is in giving that we receive” Sometimes we forget to take a little for ourselves.

Southend Passionate Women’s last workshop was hosted in the wonderfully comfy and bohemian independent coffee shop Utopia, As usual a diverse group of women met and shared their stories around a given topic, this week it was Romancing Yourself. In the words of founder Adriana;

“Romance happens when you take life into your own hands – when you get to know yourself, spending time with your likes and your joys. When you romance yourself, you do the things that nourish and bring out your inner radiance. You place attention on the details that are important and meaningful. And you delight in your senses, opening up to how wonderful things smell, taste, look, and feel. Romance is the little things – showing yourself that you care.”

Well now doesn’t that just sound like a little slice of pie that you would like to indulge in, as ever we are here to help in the style of a little ‘listography’. Here are a few of the ideas that were discussed. Not all of them will resonate with every woman, but we hope that they give you something to think about..

1. Ground Yourself

There are many ways that you can do this, but something that is so easy for us all to do. Some gardening, or walking barefoot on the grass, sand or earth. It hardly seems overly indulgent but this is one of the kindest things you could do for yourself. There have been studies that have reported benefits to health such as decrease in stress levels, and increases in immunity, as well as improving inflammatory conditions and lowering risk of developing very serious diseases. Even if this wasn’t so, consider just reconnecting with real sensations. Cool, giving, dewy grass underneath your feet, sand compacting. Silken wet sand moulding around your foot. Sinking your hands into fresh earth and compost, stirring up that distinct smell that almost reminds you of the scent in the air moments before it rains, smelling the An easy way to give yourself a gift of sensuality and connection.

 “I go to nature to be soothed and healed and have my senses put in order” – John BurroughsI

2. Be Creative

Creativity in itself is alluring. If you have ever intently watched someone paint, play an instrument, ice e a cake, or plaster a wall, the mastery of such tasks is almost hypnotic. Now do this for yourself, even if you have never tried to use a particular skill before. Immerse yourself in drawing a picture, bake a cake, or create a magnificent piece of Lego architecture. Even if the result is not exactly “a work of art’ the sheer act of being absorbed in something, can put us in a better mood. We tend to forget about other things that are worrying or bothering us. This positivity tends to lead to a deep and long lasting feeling of pleasure. This makes us attractive to others

3. Affirm yourself

Why wait for someone else to pay you a compliment? it is a slippery road when we start looking outside of ourselves for validation. Unleash your inner power, by affirming that you are a person of worth, that your opinions and views are valid. Praise yourself unashamedly. Can you really expect someone else to fully buy into it, if you can’t sell it to even yourself? Do not be silenced by modesty, after all you are beautiful, you are capable, you are important. Now look in the mirror and say it out loud and with a smile, or write yourself a love letter.

4. Be Curious About Yourself

We are all vain creatures, and it is nice to think that someone else wants to know all about us, We split ourselves into fragments and build facades for work, family, community and  social media. But how well do you really know yourself? Take time out to learn about you, ask yourself questions no matter how silly? What is your favourite flower, your favourite super hero? Question yourself intimately. Perhaps try to Vipassana or insight meditation a practice, which encourages seeing all things as they really are, including you. It cultivates a deep connection between mind and body. The spotlight of attention can come from within you too.

5. Take yourself

Go to the ballet, to the theatre, to the heart of the woods, wherever your passion might lead you.Be alone. Be comfortable with your own company, be present and take each moment as it happens. Be undistracted by your phone, turn off your tablet, listen to nature not Spotify. Personal freedom and solitude should be cherished, the more you do it the more you will love yourself, and the more you love yourself the greater you present yourself in the company of others, and the more unique experiences you will have to share.

“To love oneself is the beginning of a life long romance” – Oscar Wilde

Romance Yourself