The Real Meaning of Valentine’s Day


Big Red Chair

I have had the honor and joy of living near all my grandchildren since they were born. Living now where the Polar Express roars through my life is a bit more challenging than alongside the San Francisco Bay, but one thing is the same. The amazing unconditional love between their little hearts and mine.


Reading a library book with my 4 year old grandson yesterday, while working on my animation in trying to do the voices of a cave boy and a wooley mammoth, he laughed, threw his arms around my neck, closed his eyes and without any questions or hesitation simply said, “Grammie, I love you SO much.” I felt as if nothing in the world mattered or was more important than the feeling of warmth that flooded my body and soul. And, that was the truth.


I caught myself, feeling suddenly afraid. I didn’t invite the thought into that place of sheer delight. It came on its own…”What is he going to do when you die?” And, then a voice that said, “Maybe you’d better not love him too deeply. It’s going to hurt.” Ahhhh…there it is. The thing that often keeps us holding back, holding on to the piece of us that we believe we can keep from being hurt by loss of love. We all have it. Our brains are working on their own to keep us safe. And yet, truth is, for so many years, we’ve held back truly loving, perhaps even our sweet selves, for fear that we will lose something and it will hurt.


You know the real regret that I fear now in this life? That I will not notice just how much I do love and am loved and that I am so incredibly lovable. Always have been. Others just made it hard to see. And truth is, you are loved and lovable too, just exactly as you are. It’s how life sets it up. Now, to do whatever it takes to believe it.


How will this little one deal with the loss when I pass? He will be sad, wish I were here, feel sad some more. Mostly, he will remember all the love, the time spent, the books read, the caves explored and those times when one or the other of us suddenly stopped what we were doing, looked each other in the eyes and said, “You know, I love you SO much.” Those memories will be the best legacy I can leave them all.


This Valentine’s Day, I hope you will remember what and who matters in your life. Tell them how you feel. Put it all out there. And, if there are people who aren’t able to love, or love you, have compassion for them, but, find those you can trust with your precious heart and love. Then, just love…beginning with yourself. 


Happy Valentine’s Day to You and All My Love Coming Your Way!


Donna Bailey, MS
Life Changing Coaching
Donna’s Big Red Chair


Big Red Chair

How Roses Can Teach You What You Need to Know About Love…Getting and Keeping It

roses and a book



I’ve been told this post was the most important one I’ve ever written…it certainly was a critical life lesson for me.  I’m reposting it for you this Valentine’s Day…


FTD must have been the original St. Valentine, or the Saint was a hell of an entrepreneur.


Roses are synonymous with The Big Red Heart day. Thanks to the media, not a man alive escapes the message that your sweetheart will give you ANYTHING if you remember the roses. And, according to Valentine’s Day rules, the ones in buckets at the local grocery store don’t count.

Well, I certainly believed that my husband knew that, but in case he didn’t, as we strolled by the downtown florist I “oooed” and “ahhhed” over those “roses in the window”. Now, I was SURE he got the message!

Enter V Day in rural Maine. The year, 1983. It was the same year we had purchased our first desktop computer and Dell became a household word. I was like a kid playing in the mud about that computer. A burgeoning writer, the idea of never again using carbon paper and easy editing was almost orgasmic.

I woke up to the second day of a Nor’easter. The lake in front of our house was frozen solid, the roads plowed during the night were now piling up with snow once again. My first thought was that those florist delivery trucks would make it no matter what. So, the titillating wait began.

My husband dressed and shoveled his way to the car heading for the hospital where he worked. I guessed he was preoccupied with weather when he didn’t mention Valentine’s Day, so I let it go. The roses would mend everything.

Not only were there no florist delivery vans on the road that day, but it was hard for a snow plow to stay upright. As darkness came and it was time for my husband’s return from work, I put on a little black dress, opened a bottle of wine and put the kids to bed. On the counter was a lovely crystal vase just waiting for those roses.

The door opened and brushing off the snow, he said, “What’s for dinner?” What???  OK, he was going to surprise me. The roses were in the car and I began to worry that they would freeze, but poured us both a glass of wine. Since he hadn’t said those magic words, “Happy Valentine’s Day, darling.” I took the initiative (It was the era of feminism after all).

He then pulled a brown paper bag out of his briefcase and handed it to me with a smile and a toast. I couldn’t believe what I pulled out of that bag…a book! Are you kidding me, I thought. A book! It was an early version of Computers for Dummies.  That is second only to a blender for your anniversary. I was surprised, disappointed and really pissed and it all came rolling out of my mouth. “You got me a BOOK for Valentine’s Day?” I said. And then I saw his face lose all signs of life and joy. As he walked away, I felt so ashamed and yet, I was still filled with disappointment and confusion.  How could he not know I wanted roses for Valentine’s Day? Remember the walk by the florist window?  Any man with a brain should know his sweetheart wants roses.After what seemed like hours, he reappeared and we sat down to a cold dinner, half a candle and a Golden Retriever who had retreated under the table. “Donna, do you know what I went through to get you that book? I wanted you to enjoy the computer because I know how important writing is to you, so I drove in a blizzard all the way to Boston (almost 200 miles) to get this book for you. I thought you would appreciate it, but I can see you don’t.”

My heart sank. I knew that all the apologies in the world could not make up for the words I could never take back.

That day my life changed in ways that were profound and permanent. For the first time I knew that men want to make us happy. That they have their own ways of showing love. That they cannot read our minds. That our expectations of them are based not on their world, but on our preconceived notions of what love looks like.

That Valentine’s Day love came from Barnes and Noble, not from TeleFlora. It came with such beautiful  intention and thought. All I had to do was be open to what HE called love. It changed me forever and though I am still waiting for those roses, I know that one day a new love will bring them my way.

Please post this on your social media sites if you think it will bring a better Valentine’s Day to those you know and love! Thank you.


Happy Valentine’s Day

If you are tired of spending Valentine’s Day alone and ready to find someone to share this next amazing chapter of your life, let’s talk about how to get yon there!

Call 510-817-4242 or email me at and I’ll send you my Love Readiness Quiz!

Donna Bailey, MS
Life Changing Coaching
Donna’s Big Red Chair


How to Bring the Light Back Into Your Life




Back in 1992 I drove across this big old country of ours, leaving a little village in Maine that had been my home for 13 years. Idyllic, nestled between a chain of pristine lakes, loons calling all summer long, sailboats down at the Yacht Club and friends so dear to me, I thought I’d die without them. Why in God’s name would anyone leave that? Only one thing could have sent me packing to California…light. Or, in this case, the lack of it. Seems my body wasn’t thriving there any more as days got shorter, nights longer and snows that lasted for 6 months made Donna a SAD woman. Seasonal Affective Disorder left me no choice, so in early October I headed to Berkeley.


A friend was my marathon man. He drove us 700 miles a day while I slipped into an exhausted coma. I’d wake just long enough to see the sun rising in Kansas out the front window while the moon was still high in the midwestern sky out the rear window. The salt flats of Utah as we drove down the “World’s Loneliest Highway” created mirages. They were right. It was truly lonely but I couldn’t trust that a semi wasn’t coming ’round the corner when I really needed to pee and there wasn’t as much as a tumbleweed to squat behind.


We made it in 5 days and my driver hero turned right around and headed back home leaving me standing in my friends’ driveway, happy to be in warm sunshine but already overwhelmed by this huge change in my life. Cars creeping along jammed freeways. Where were the loons and peace I had so treasured? What had I done!?


I’d like to say within a week I was sipping lattes and wearing tye-dyed tees. Seems I had traded SAD for sad. I struggled to find work in a place with different priorities and values than New England. My work was less relevant and, a single parent of a fifth grader, I had to earn a living. Things looked very dark, even with the sun shining every day.


I knew I needed help. Truly depressed, so much so that I did the unthinkable (for me). I went to see a psychiatrist and left with a prescription for an antidepressant which I carefully folded up and put in my wallet. Knowing I can hardly tolerate Tylenol, the idea of any meds were terrifying. I had to do it another way and the only thing that had always worked was acupuncture. How I found this particular acupuncturist I can’t recall. Let’s call it a miracle.


Picking my chin up off the floor, I found my way to her office in the trendy, “very Berkeley”area named after trees. Her office was upstairs over the famous Gaia Books and though I had read most every self help book in there, I knew this sadness was beyond me. Finally in the treatment room, she asked me what was going on in my life and all I could do was cry. I told her I’d moved from a beautiful little village of 800 people, 1500 in the five weeks of Maine summer and I was frozen now not from winter, but because of freeways, traffic, noise and the absence of loons and my sweet friends. She smiled and told me something I have never forgotten and that I use to this day when overwhelmed by life. “Just make your world smaller”, she offered.


Jenny was like an emotional Sherpa on my journey from transition-induced depression to finding peace and joy in a new home. She said, “Find a place you love to have coffee each day and just go there. Then, find a park up in the hills with trails you like and just hike those. Go to the same grocery store near your home. Live your life without ever getting on the freeway. Use city streets. Find your places, your people, your favorite sandwich shop and movie theatre. Just make your world very small for now.”


So, as we change our clocks today, let it be a reminder that when in periods of great transition and feeling like we are pulling a refrigerator behind us everywhere we go, we can feel so alone. overwhelmed and sad. I hope you’ll remember what Jenny said to me.When you are feeling powerless, hopeless, fearful and don’t know how you’re going to deal with it all...”just make your world smaller”. Last night I fell asleep, not counting sheep, but one by one saying the names of all the people in my life who love me. It worked for me and perhaps, tonight if you’re struggling, it will work for you.

Feeling the loneliness of the holiday season, and are ready to get yourself out there to find someone to share this next amazing chapter of your life, give me a call at 510-817-4242. I would love to be your guide to finding love again.
May the light grow brighter each day!

Donna Bailey, MS

Coach, Speaker, Writer and Expert in Dating and Relationships for “Grown-ups”

Donna’s Big RED Chair




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