A Valentine’s Day Story About Being Single

single valentine's day story, italian joy, doing what you love, love my job, carla coulson, italy

Self portrait from Italian Joy

Hello Lovelies,

I love Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame. The other day on her Facebook Page she invited people to do this

“I want you to do me a favor today.

I want you to post a picture of yourself taken at a moment when you felt like you were at your most powerful. When I look at this picture, I see a woman who is doing exactly what she wants to be doing with her life.

That’s what power means to me.

In fact, that’s the ONLY thing power means to me.

Power doesn’t have to be fierce. It doesn’t have to be aggressive or combative or cocky. It doesn’t have to tear anything down. It doesn’t have to be in your face. It doesn’t have to be a moment of fist-pumping victory. It doesn’t have to be expensive or monumental. It doesn’t have to make the world explode.

Generally speaking, the deepest kind of power doesn’t have much to do with anyone else at all. Nothing to do with status, nothing to do with reputation, nothing to do with winning. Because you can achieve all that stuff (status, reputation, victory) and still feel lost as hell. No, true power comes from standing in your own truth and walking on your own path. That’s it.

When you are operating from that place (standing in your truth; walking on your path) you are the mightiest thing that has ever lived. Nothing can harm you.” Elizabeth Gilbert

I thought about this all week. Then the other day I was flipping through a copy of Italian Joy and I saw this photo of myself I took in the middle of the year at photography school back in 2001.

I was on my own, single but the happiest I had ever been. I had boarded an overnight train from Florence to Sicily with a small bag, my camera, lots of rolls of film and a big bundle of hope and adventure in my heart. Hell I was off to Sicily to roam around on my own with my camera in the middle of August…I couldn’t wait to get there! For the first part of my life I had compromised, put everyone else before me and now I was pleasing myself.

I remember the feeling whilst taking this ‘self portrait’ (long before they were called selfies) and smiling to myself thinking I was the luckiest girl on the planet.

I had found love in the name of Mr. Photography and for almost an entire year of my 35 years I had loved myself. Truly loved myself, all the rest that come before that was just faking it. I was solid, had my feet on the ground and new my true worth and I was no longer willing to take seconds. Now that was something to feel powerful and happy about.

In this photo and at that moment I was the Carla I was always meant to be, the happy, carefree, emotional, loving woman that for years had been busting to break out. I felt powerful because I knew what I wanted. I wanted a simple life, love, adventure and photography and I was on the path to find it.

I had spent many Valentine’s Days on my own watching the delivery boy enter the office with a bunch of roses for someone else, I had walk home emptied handed Valentine’s Day after Valentine’s Day feeling lost, alone and frightened for my future. As the years passed the weight of being single burdened me.

Since I left my old life I have rarely had that feeling again although I have been alone many times.

If you are single this Valentine’s Day I am sending you this little story to know that life changes, it won’t remain the same as it is today and you can be a great, happy, single person in love with life! In this photo I was single and probably at the most ‘powerful’ point in my life, there were no compromises just me doing what I loved.

“I have found that if you love life, life will love you back.” Arthur Rubenstein




Check out my Portrait Lightroom Presets here.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Shell Sherree
8 years ago

An uplifting and beautiful post for today, Carla. Being single is a gift often given so we have space and time to truly get to know what we love and who we are. Aka living authentically. Happy Valentines to you, ze Avedon and ze ‘ubby. Shell. Xo

8 years ago

Amen sister.

8 years ago

Powerful post, Carla. Wonderful! Happy Valentine’s Day!

La Contessa
8 years ago

YOU found a LIFE and LOVE TO BOOT!!!!!!!!!
THANK YOU VICKI!!!!!!!!!Or I guess we should THANK that little black & white postcard in FIRENZE of SAN MINIATO AL MONTE!!!!!!!!!!!Which PUSHED me to VICKI’s books and finding out YOU had a BLOG!!
I hope AVEDON had some little “MOUSE” to give you for VALENTINES DAY!!!

8 years ago

Such a beautifully written post, Carla…and I love the photograph of you to heading off to Sicily. The words of Arthur Rubenstein are so true, aren’t they?
A belated Happy Valentine’s Day 😉 xx

Heather in Arles
8 years ago

I spent many, many, many Valentine’s Days alone – well, more than I did attached! But yes, when I happened to be following my dream and being true to my Heart? I didn’t mind. 🙂

And it was fun to think about what photo I would choose. By happenstance, it was when I was 35 too.

Melissa Gaggiano
8 years ago

Love this piece and you Carla. Sometimes when we are brave for ourselves we then find that the world will love us back.

lisa Clifford
8 years ago

Such an empowering post lovely Carla.

Peggy Braswell
8 years ago

such a grand post + don’t know which photo I would choose. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com