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Far from being the most amazing time ever, life’s big moments can emphasise what’s missing or pile pressure on to do things a certain way. But don’t clam up – flip the script and use the days you’re dreading as a reason to connect with new people and old friends.

FEEL WARM AND FUZZY ON VALENTINE’S DAY
Valentine’s Day can be annoying and pressure-inducing for couples, so it’s no wonder those flying solo dread the day, too. But who said Valentine’s Day has to be about romantic love anyway? Last we checked, love is love. So gather your buddies and celebrate Galentine’s Day instead. Send handwritten notes to your nearest and dearest, marking out your favourite memory of them. Get involved how you want to. Be a lover, not a hater.

DO NEW YEAR YOUR WAY
So many plans are made every year, yet how many New Year parties don’t live up to the hype? New Year is a time of reflection and celebration. Whatever that means to you, honour it. Not into parties? Make NYE an evening of meditation with a few like-minded pals, followed by Lipton Green Ice and a healthy feast. Create a list of intentions for next year, if that’s your thing. Or not. The point is, do it your way.

MARK YOUR BIRTHDAY WITH CREATIVITY
Some people are birthday fanatics, some aren’t. There’s more than one way to mark another trip around the sun. How about volunteering? Or a day course in a skill you want to learn? If you’re one for marking memories, why not ask a couple of friends over for a scrapbook party where you create a record of the last 12 months? It doesn’t have to be a huge group – just a handful of folks who make you laugh.

UNEASY ABOUT MOTHER’S DAY OR FATHER’S DAY? TAKE NOTE
There are lots of reasons why Mother’s Day or Father’s Day isn’t for everyone. Families are complicated, but the meaning of ‘family’ is broad these days. Have a close friend whose parents you get along with? They probably would love to include you in their festivities. Or plan a big brunch with friends in a similar situation. If you’re facing a recent loss, a local bereavement group will provide a safe place among people who really understand. You’re not alone. Connect with others, whether you’ve known them for an hour, a week or your whole life.

THE LONG WEEKEND
Every few months, a national holiday creates a long weekend. Don’t fret if your plans aren’t set in stone or look different from someone else’s. There are no rules except to recharge and connect with others if you can. Whether that means a road trip, a concert with friends, hiking with your best pal and her dog, a writer’s retreat or just laying low at home – the choice is yours, all weekend.