The month of February evokes thoughts of couples, roses, chocolate, date nights, and romance. We want to impress, spoil, and dote on loved ones. During this time, it’s important to remember that real love starts within. I see February as a time for self-reflection, growth, and change—a time to connect with who we are, who we want to be, and feeling comfortable in our own skin. This inner work is what illuminates our outer beauty. \nI propose devoting February to make a pilgrimage within—to take time to tune out, while tuning into ourselves. Our lives are busy, and the added stimulation of social media, cell phones, computers make time to reflect evermore sparse and precious. Technology furnishes many wonderful benefits, such as sharing and connecting with friends and family. That said, it also bears the pitfall of living outside of ourselves. Social media, in particular, offers seductive peeks into the lives of others. And while the idle scrolling may seem harmless, it can quickly devolve into a detrimental game of comparison.\nThe constant noise that comes from social media can act as a depressant, distracting and preventing us from flourishing. It’s important to remember that beauty, whether in print or digital, involves a level of fantasy. For the most part, people share only their highlights, not their mundane daily activities, so we’re not seeing the entire picture. Furthermore, the shared images are usually filtered, if not highly edited, further contributing to our unrealistic view. This smorgasbord of beauty and positivity-filled images is enticing but can be incredibly damaging to our own self-esteem and self-worth. Their messaging is difficult, if not impossible to live up to, leaving us feeling empty. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” There isn’t a drink or cream or outfit that can bring us the true beauty that comes from self-assurance, acceptance, love, and care. That glow is powerful.\nAs a child, I remember making a valentine for every one of my classmates. With care, I wrote their names, decorated, and handed them out. I also reveled in the joy of collecting cards from others. This giving and receiving of love is what makes it such a special day. As we grow, Valentine’s Day takes many twists and turns, the meaning of “love” constantly changing. Beginning within and kindling compassion for ourselves helps us expand love outward in a more profound way.\nTrue love and true beauty starts with self-realization—unconditionally loving ourselves, letting our inner beauty shine, and finding our true voice. Let’s make this month a time to look within. Self-reflection empowers and enables us to shine. Let’s turn off our screens, close our eyes, and ask ourselves what beauty means to us.\nThis attention to our true selves kindles a sense of peace, joy, and confidence that radiates throughout. Skin reacts to emotions. Skin reflects who we are. When we are caring for our skin from the inside out, our wrinkles soften, our glow emanates, and our complexion clears. Let’s pamper ourselves this month with the ultimate beauty treatment: self-love.\n1) As a beverage - warm deliciousness invites pause to drink and enjoy.2) Applied topically - acts as a powerful, antioxidant-rich toner.3) As a mask activator - enriches face masks with potent actives.\n\n1 bag tulsi tea\n1 bag linden tea\n1 bag rose hip tea\n1 bag lemon balm tea\nLoose herbs will work as well. Use ½ tablespoon of each.\n10 drops gotu kola extract\n10 drops reishi extract\n\nOptional enhancements:\n\nCashew milk to taste\nHoney or maple syrup to taste\nSkullcap\nDamiana\n\n-Simmer all teas in 6 cups of water until it reduces to 4 cups.-Remove bags (or strain loose herbs).-Add extracts.-Reserve 1-2 cups for toner.-Add cashew milk and sweetener to the remaining liquid.-Save 2 tablespoons for mask activator. Mix with Sumbody’s Deep Sea Face Mask.Store remaining toner and mask activator in fridge.Revel, relax, and retreat within.