Friday, February 7, 2014

Spread the Love

So, I think we've already discussed how Valentine's Day is my most favoritest holiday. Always has been - even though I didn't have a lot of friends, moved a lot, and was totally single until I was 21. But I loved it because of the fun and creative effort my Mum went to to show me that I was loved. And because that made such a huge positive impact on my life, I want to make that same impact on the lives of others. And you can, too! Here are ten ways that take under 10 minutes and cost under 5 dollars:

1. Write on the bathroom mirror. If you have a spouse, kids, or roommates, this is an easy one. The message doesn't have to be long and you don't have to have Pinterest-level writing skilz - just jot a sincere line or two, draw a heart around it, done! Good writing media are dry erase markers or lipstick, and if you have neither of those then Post-It notes or a sheet of paper taped or stickered onto the mirror at face level works, too.

2. Speaking of Post-It notes, think of a grown-up in your life who may or may not have anyone to tell them that they're loved. Locate their car, cubicle, or front door, and covertly leave a sticky square letting them know that someone thinks they're awesome (if that someone is a college student far from home or a coworker who recently moved to the area and may not have a lot of friends yet, consider proposing a coffee date or inviting them to lunch).

3. Brighten a child's day by sending a valentine through the Arkansas Children's Hospital. Enlist coworkers, church family, and other members of your household to join you. Getting a stack of cute, sweet, and funny notes makes a huge difference for a kid who isn't in school and won't be expecting them (I speak from experience on that one). If you don't do anything else in this list, do this!

4. Sticker-bomb your world. Get a package of heart-shaped stickers, carry it with you all day, and resolve to use every. single. one. Start with shared spaces (home, work) and if you're really brave, branch out into public spaces like restaurants and coffee shops. Try to get most of them in a place that's easily seen, but make sure a few will be missed until later, to extend the love.

5. Alter a book. Find a board or picture book (Valentine or "love" themed, if possible) that your kids have outgrown, or quest for one at a thrift shop, then go through it with a box of markers and a package of stickers and make it your own. Underline, circle, cross things out and write new things in, alter the illustrations - it's more personal than a card, you can tailor it to a child or to an adult, and it's something everyone will enjoy going back and rereading!

6. Support a local business - or several (ok, this one may take more than 10 minutes and cost more than 5 dollars, but it's worth it). Brick and mortar shops are an essential part of our economy, and getting to know shop owners can be a great community-building opportunity, plus small shops can't afford the sales, gimmicks, and advertising that large chains can and may get overlooked in the shuffle. Make an effort to get your cards, flowers, sweet treats, jewelry, and/or other goodies from local businesses (if you keep to whatever budget you had set before, rest assured that what you may lose in quantity will be more than made up for in quality) - and enjoy dinner (or lunch) at a local restaurant. Then, after seeing how amazing it is, continue to Shop Local throughout the year, until it becomes a way of life.

7. Give a manicure. A young relative, an elderly friend, a busy mom who found a sitter for a date night (but for the duration of dinner only) - there's a long list of people who would probably enjoy having their nails done (or having you entertain a kid or two so that they could do their own without needing to deal with any emergencies before the polish dries!) It doesn't have to be fancy - an even layer of a simple solid is enough to make someone feel pampered.

8. Mail a valentine. Get a box of the kind that kids share at school, and tuck them (singly, or by the handful) into mail-worthy envelopes, and send them off to friends and family who you haven't contacted in awhile. Kids may be your first thought to delight with a bundle of bright notes, but grown-ups like them, too! You can decorate the envelopes, as well, or leave them plain to amplify the surprise of what's inside.

9. Eat your heart out. If you have roommates, kids, or get up at the same time as your husband (or wife - my husband has made me breakfast in bed many times, often for no special reason other than his sweetness, and is more likely to do something like this for me than I am for him...) then pour heart-shaped pancakes, or make french toast and cut the centers out with a heart-shaped cookie cutter. If you're more ambitious than I am, you could top your pancakes with strawberries instead of (or in addition to) syrup. Hey, you needed to eat breakfast, anyway!

10. And finally, memorize all or part of 1 Corinthians 13 (it's only 13 verses, and if you do it a verse at a time, then it still takes less than 5 minutes a day). Write or type it up prettily and frame it somewhere you'll see it every day - it's good to be reminded year-round of what love looks like!

How will you be spreading the love this year, throughout the year, and especially throughout the next week?

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