Single Steps Strategies Blog

Surviving Valentine’s Day 2024

heart graphic with words Love and Surviving Valentine's Day“Follow your heart but take your brain with you.” – Alfred Adler

It seems we have barely finished taking down the Christmas decorations, when in every store Valentines appear. And, although Valentine’s Day should be something to look forward to in the doldrums of the winter; for many women, Valentine’s Day can bring us into the cold reality of defining us in terms of our relationships… or lack thereof.

For those of us over 50 years of age, we can remember how in elementary school, we would spend days decorating a shoe box, writing out Valentine cards and choosing the best card for that “someone special”; only to watch that “someone special” walk past our desk to give his “someone special” card to that too adorable, too sweet, “teacher’s pet” little girl, who wouldn’t have much as given him the time of day.

She would take the card and put it in her box with the other 15 “someone special’ cards she got that day. By the end of the school day, the amount and size and shape of the cards we received defined us as popular… or not; in the right clique…or not; pretty… or not … and so on.

And somehow 20, 30, 40 years later, nothing has changed.

Unless our current relationship is with our prince charming, our soul mate, our life partner, our spouse; or unless we are the adult version of the “teacher’s pet”, Valentine’s Day defines us as single, divorced, widowed; unhappily attached; sadly unattached; in the wrong relationship with the wrong person; or living with the person who just will never think to buy us flowers and candy, but they will get our car washed. No matter what, we will define ourselves in terms of our relationship on that day.

This holiday can attack self-esteem, produce anxiety, create confusion over lifestyles and cause a sense of inadequacy for women who are normally intelligent, successful, self-confident, and self-assured.

The whole reason for this is that we all have the need to be loved. And thanks to Cinderella and “Pretty Woman” Julia Roberts, we believe that romantic love is the ultimate form of love. And Valentine’s Day is all about romantic love.

So how do you survive this if you are not currently in a romantically loving relationship? You can begin by focusing on who you love and who loves you. Even if this is your kid sister or your mom, you can be reassured that you are a lovable person. Hang out with your mom. Take your little sister shopping. Spend some time being grateful for who you are and what is special about you. These thoughts will reassure you and remind you of your self-worth while restoring your self-esteem.

Plan to spend February revisiting the goals you had set for yourself going into the new year. Concentrate on the things that are important to you. Do something special for yourself. Go to a spa, get a professional pedicure, or get a massage.

Send Valentine’s cards to everyone you know. You will feel good for doing it and they will feel great for receiving it. And for someone, this may be the only card they get. Write on each card, “For Someone Special”. Prepare your favorite dinner, have a glass of wine and watch your favorite movie. Use this time to become the kind of person you would love or the person you would love to be. Use the day to do something you’ve always wanted to do.

Losing That Special One

A few months ago, I lost the “Love of My Life”. He made every day special for me but did many romantic things on Valentine’s Day. Because I know I will feel a sense of loss, I have already begun to think about something positive to do. It may only be a glass of wine, a hot bath and early to bed; but the day will not go by without me revisiting the wonderful adventures we had together over 23 years.

During this past year I have known too many women who have also lost their loves, by choice or by chance. And I wish them whatever will make Valentine’s Day a positive day for them; as I hope every day will be.

Use the day to create a special memory. Valentine’s Day will come and go. Memories will last forever.

– Mary Grace Musuneggi

Learning Something Good from Something Sad

Important information if you are an organ donor or plan to be.

logo of CORE with words Center for Organ Recovery & Education; A Pledge for Life; Donate LifeAs many of you know, my Significant Other, Thomas Hawkins, passed away July 2nd. From the time you could add Organ Donor status to your driver’s license, Tom added it to his. He added it to his Living Will and his final directives. He was a firm believer in the benefits of the program. But when the time came, and he was placed on Hospice, the option of being an Organ Donor was not a possibility. The numerous serious health issues he experienced had taken a toll on his body. What I learned was that to be an Organ Donor, your organs must go from you to a living person. That wasn’t going to happen for him.

But fortunately for me, my son, Christopher, reached out to his sister-in-law, Jessica Yokubeak, (Christine’s sister) an Organ Donor Referral Manager for the Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE), to see if there was any opportunity. Jessica let him know that although organ donation was not an option, there were other programs that might be suitable. One that she explained was for using tissue to help with the K9 Search and Rescue training program. Because Tom was a big dog lover, this was perfect. And tissue donation can also save and heal lives i.e., burn victims. But being an organ donor does not automatically allow for all the various programs. Some require that you enroll separately.

And I was so grateful that Jessica was able to make this happen. As I was appointed as Tom’s Healthcare Power of Attorney, Jessica spent over an hour on the phone with me going through the necessary documents. She managed to get this all submitted early in the morning. Early that afternoon, Tom passed away leaving behind a legacy of helping others.

CORE took on the responsibility of transporting Tom from the facility where he had been living to the funeral home. They provided us with personalized prayer cards, and some other mementos of this special program. (For those who may be concerned, the services of CORE are free and may reduce the cost of final expenses.) Also, I learned that many nursing homes and assisted living facilities do not contact CORE even if you have notified the facility in advance that you are an Organ Donor. So, it is suggested that the family contact CORE directly.

So, if you have made the decision to be an organ donor as part of your final planning, you may want to see what other options are available if organ donation becomes a non-option for you.

For more information, Jessica would be happy to provide you with more details. She can be reached at
CORE by calling 412-963-3550, option #1 or 412-290-8375. 

– Mary Grace Musuneggi

When a Man is Definitely NOT a Plan

“Man accused of murdering wife of 42 years after she questioned him on finances.”

Recently I came across an article about a man who called the police saying he had found his wife unresponsive in their home. He was eventually charged with her murder. Authorities allege that he killed his wife after she began asking questions about their financial situation. He stabbed her multiple times after she realized there were various discrepancies in their financial statements. Although he had statements for one account showing $97,000, the actual value was $90. She discovered that another account that she believed the husband had opened for them never really existed.

When couples marry, the union is like starting a small business. Both partners bring their skills to the arrangement, and one may be better at handling finances. But although one may be better at decorating, or planning vacations, couples usually meet and talk about the decisions that are made. So just like a small business that has monthly review meetings or annual progress meetings, couples should do the same with their finances.

For women, having a handle on the finances can be a great safety net, as many women stay in abusive relationships as they fear they have no access to money. Having a savings account, investment account and retirement account of your own gives you independence, and options. It can also be a safety net if your spouse becomes disabled or dies.

See that you both are adequately insured. Plan for contingencies.

Also be very aware of any credit card debt. If your spouse defaults on a loan or credit card payment, you can be held responsible. If your spouse is reluctant to share information with you, this can be a red flag.

Just a reminder that relationships can end either by choice or by chance. Here’s hoping that yours will last until the end of time, but just in case…

Mary Grace Musuneggi

Order your copy of A Man is Not a Plan or contact us to discuss your situation.