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first person

How to love like a Canadian

Sarah Woods argues we need to kiss more in public and open our hearts more – even if it hurts

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I got up from the table and shuffled over to him with my ski boots undone and my hair a mess from my helmet. We had just spent a day chasing each other on a beautiful British Columbian mountain and I was in deep. It felt like our millionth date. But it was really just the third weekend we had spent together. Still, I had planted a red flag on the top of that mountain and declared he was the one for me.

I bent down over him and laid a big, passionate kiss on his lips. His eyes looked up at me like a puppy dog. This sweet energy he sometimes settled into, looking at me as if he was in trouble in the good kind of way and wanted more. But I could see he wasn't sure if he could trust it.

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We were on top of a mountain and my heart felt like I was on top of the world. I'm an expert at falling in love. In fact, after being in perpetual heartbreak and recognizing the hopeless romantic in me, I realized that falling in love is one of my gifts. I'm a Canadian skier girl, lover and intuitive healer. I also fall madly in love. Breakups happen. I feel the hurt. And I learn. And then I forget the hurt and I do it all over again.

Standing above him in the middle of the busy mountain restaurant, I had him, just for a split second. I captured all of him in me. I caught him in my love for just one moment where his busy mind forgot everything that was spinning around us and he fell into me.

And then he snapped out of it.

"Sarah, we're in a public place," he whispered.

I knew I had him on the edge of being very uncomfortable. And that's the sweet spot for lift-off (literally) but also, it's that sweet spot for growth, expansion and receiving more that this magical world has to offer us.

So I kissed him again. This time with tongue.

As I sat back down at the table, in love and soaking up every bit of my latest beau, giggling at his embarrassment and rosy cheeks, I told him it was time to love more like a Chilean.

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He didn't get it. Actually, he didn't like it. My free spirit met his analytical mind and we were two worlds colliding, daring to be a fit. Perhaps for a moment, it was. He didn't want to love like a Chilean. A proud and noble man, he wanted to love like a Canadian.

Loving like a Chilean meant big love to me. It matched my energy and big heart. Wear that love all over you. Make decisions from the body. Kiss in public. Compliment a stranger. Open up your heart even if you're afraid it could hurt.

It was on the top of La Parva Ski Resort, a mountain outside of Santiago, where this all started five years ago – my campaign for loving like a Chilean.

I was skiing with my friend and we ran into someone he knew. Under that cloud-covered day, with the wind blowing and our feet numb from the cold, an introduction was made in broken English and Spanish.

His friend, a Chilean man, shuffled toward me on his snowboard. He leaned over, helmet, goggles and all, and kissed me on my cheek. It took some real effort – if you've ever tried to kiss someone while you're both on skis or a board (not to mention on a downhill slope!) you know what I'm talking about. Sliding, poking someone's eye, falling over – these are all liabilities with an on-mountain kiss. Especially for two strangers.

I was in awe. It wasn't romantic. But this kind gesture kissed my heart.

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Shaking hands in Chile just isn't an option. Greeting with a kiss is what you do. One simple kiss on the cheek to make a connection and embrace the person you're meeting, with love.

And isn't that what the world needs more of? Now, more than ever? Love?

Many of my Chilean friends tell me Canadians are too cold. I didn't like hearing that – we're not cold, are we? (And they don't mean that literally.) I take such pride in my Canadian men. Just like the man I had planted my red flag on that day in the mountain restaurant.

So, let's love like the loved Canadians we are.

Don't be afraid.

Trust that feeling.

Kiss her.

Ask her out.

Give that person a hug.

Kiss your friend on the cheek when you say hello.

Follow the energy of your body and let love guide you.

Get out of your mind.

Can you feel your heart yet? Love like a Canadian. Not just this Valentine's Day. But every damn day.

By the end of our ski date, my handsome mountain man was blowing kisses to me (when no one was looking) on mid-ski run breaks. He was, in his own way, inching himself closer to some bigger love in his life.

And I ate it all up.

A week later we broke up. And just as quickly as I fell madly in love, I was nursing a broken heart.

But I'm a pro at this. I wear my heart on my sleeve. And somehow, no matter the rejection, regret or fear that bubbles up when I part ways with a lover, I vow to do it all over again.

Not because I love like a Chilean. But because this world needs more love and I'm going to love like a Canadian.

Sarah Woods lives in Vancouver.

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