All we need is love & cute cards!

 

For years, I’ve used Shutterfly to make photo gifts, cards and actually print out my photos. They’ve always been well-received. As Shutterfly has expanded their offering from those first days of being just a photo print site, they’ve maintained a high quality and the competitive pricing.

This past holiday season was the first time I didn’t send out holiday cards. I decided that I wanted to send greetings at another time of year when my friends wouldn’t be overwhelmed with trying to get it all done. Instead, I  thought it would be fun to send out cards around Valentine’s Day to let them know that they’re loved and thought of not just in December. And while I’m not a big fan of the commercialism of Valentine’s Day, I am a fan of telling people they are loved and appreciated.

So when Shutterfly asked me to talk about their Valentine’s Day cards and gifts, it was easy to say yes. Even better, one of you will win a very nice prize pack just for commenting on this post! How’s that for sharing the love?

My first photo gift from Shutterfly was a photo mug. BabyGirl was probably about 3 and saw mugs at the store and said we should get that and tape a photo on it. I laughed, but BabyGirl was serious. So now, Aunt Zoni is the proud owner of a mug with BabyGirl’s mug on it. Now that she’s 10, I think BabyGirl secretly hopes AuntZoni drops the mug because the photo is definitely a bit cheesy. But sometimes, that’s what these type of photo gifts are for. Right?

My most recent purchase was a custom iPhone case. CycleGuy got a new work phone and I wanted to get him something that fit his personality and wouldn’t be the same as everyone else at the office who had the “corporate” cover. The nice thing about getting it from Shutterfly is that I upload hundreds of images every month so it’s easy to find the right one and create the case without spending too much time sifting through the thousands of images on my computer.

I’ve shared before that I like unique photo gifts, not just stashing a picture in a frame and calling it a day. The prize pack includes one of the newest additions to Shutterfly, the desktop photo plaque. Last time I saw these I was in high school and we ordered one for my grandparents. It’s still the one photo my grandma gets the most compliments on. I’m so excited to get one for CycleGuy (Valentine’s day spoiler alert!) because the other photos he has at the office are also unique.

Back to my “holiday” cards, though. before I was contacted by Shutterfly for this promotion, I’d already started looking through their Valentine’s Day cards for just the right one. Nothing too lovey-dovey or goofy. There are just so many great options. And even better, there are various card sizes so I don’t have to send out a giant “look at me” card when what I really want is something that says “you are thought of”.

I remember taking a shoe box and decorating it to collect all my Valentine’s Day cards at school. Year after year I looked forward to carrying this construction paper-covered box to and from school and opening it up to see all the sweet candy hearts and little cards from my classmates. I hope my friends will be as excited to get their Valentine’s Day cards as I am to send them out.

I’d love for you to enter my giveaway so you can share the love too!

Enter my Shutterfly Valentine’s Day Prize Pack Giveaway

Prize: (50) – 4×5 Stationery Cards and one (1) – 5.5×5.5 Desktop Plaque.

The approximate retail value (“ARV”) of the prize is $85.

All you need to do is leave a comment below telling me your favorite Valentine’s Day memory.

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This Promotion begins January 21, 2013 at 06:01:00 AM Pacific Time (“PT”) and ends January 28, 2013, at 05:59:00 AM PT. By entering, you agree to the Official Rules.

Shutterfly will provide me with the same items I’m giving away. Items stated as purchased are those where I have paid and were not provided gratis or as part of a business relationship. This post reflects my views and opinions and was not reviewed or edited by a third party. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

The Promotion is open to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States, and the District of Columbia (excluding Puerto Rico and all other U.S. territories) who are eighteen (18) years of age or older, and have a valid US mailing address. For more details view the Official Rules. Void where prohibited.


Sara

The Importance of Self Love

No Greater Love

Love is an essential part of our growth. Without love, experts agree that our psyche is permanently damaged. Modern researchers look at this concept of love and wonder how it applies inwardly. Most research has been focused on the love we have for others.

Since Adam and Eve made googly eyes at one another in the Garden of Eden, the study of love has been focused on what it means to love other people. How we get to love other people. What it’s like if we are or are not loved.

But I’m starting to realize that many of the self-help guru’s and crazy new-age people from the 80s had it right when they started talking about self-love. That by loving ourselves we allow not only others to love us more fully but we are then able to love others without limitations or caveats.

As I’ve journeyed these past 40+ years I’ve been on a quest to find out what love really is. I know my mom loved me. And my grandparents too. They showed it in different ways though. And my brother loves me, although I think now that we’re older he more fully shares it. I have friends who love me too. Some with strings, others without. And I’ve always been so concerned with their love of me that I never really focused on my love for myself.

It seems that self-love would be innate. I don’t think it is. I think it’s learned. It’s developed and emulated based on surroundings. My mom was a single mom who battled health and weight issues. She was self-conscious about her weight but she loved herself and felt worthy of the love she was given. This is what I know now. I wish I had known and understood it when I was a teenager. When I could ask questions and talk openly about what it means to love yourself. Instead I though that if I looked a certain way or acted just right then I’d be loved or worthy of love. Little did I know that I was worthy of love simply by being born. It’s taken me a long time to realize this. Too long!

So here I am, a grown woman with a daughter and I’m supposed to help her frame love. When I’m not even sure what to tell her. Do I tell her that it doesn’t matter if other people love you as long as you love yourself? Or that people will love you if you love yourself? I’m not sure. Well, I’m not sure about what I’m supposed to be teaching her.

All I know is that I’ve discovered that self love is hard. I’m hyper critical of everything about myself. Hair, skin, clothes and all the outward things. And add to that all the inward issues of feeling inadequate, not smart enough, too smart, over qualified, a bad mom, a horrible friend, not funny and so many other negative things that fill my thoughts that won’t go away. Things that are often dismissed as just being part of the uber Type-A personality.

They’re not. They’re my thoughts about me that have been framed by the experiences of life. Other people’s opinions of me, my abilities and my personality. I’ve spent a very long time working to make other people love me that I lost sight of what the new-age, touchy-feeling, psycho-babble, self-help guru’s of the 1980s were saying all along.

Love yourself. The rest will grow from there!

On this Valentine’s Day as we tell others we love them, I urge you to look in the mirror as I will do and tell that person on the other side how wonderful and amazing and lovable they are. Just like on the plane when they give you the directions to secure your oxygen mask first and then others traveling with you. Love yourself first.

I am working on this. Some days are great, others it doesn’t matter how loudly or softly I say it I can’t hear the words. But I know I need to keep saying them. To keep working at loving myself first.

I like what I see when I’m looking at me when I’m walking past a mirror. ~ Mary J. Blige

Sara

Love and Friendship and Valentines Day

Valentine Candy Hearts

As we begin the big Weekend of Love, otherwise know as Valentine’s Day I definitely don’t feel the tug to buy flowers or candy or gifts or even go out to dinner. I’ve never been big on Valentine’s Day. Surprised, I’m sure! Not! Valentine’s Day is not a Jewish holiday, so we didn’t really celebrate in my house. Sure I got the dime store box of cards for the exchanges at school, but it wasn’t really a big deal. After all, it’s really a Christian celebration.

Unlike my friends, my parents didn’t make a big deal about Valentine’s Day. It wasn’t until I was in high school and it took on an entirely different meaning that I fully understood it’s importance as an American cultural phenomenon. It wasn’t so much about anything other than the grand commercialism of love and ‘the hook up’. You can tell I learned a lot in school.

The cool part was that my schools (I went to a few different high schools) all had some group selling Valentine greetings you could buy and have delivered to your friends. It wasn’t a love thing. It was actually kind of a popularity thing. And because I wasn’t one of the popular kids it was always a crap shoot. My mom would always give my brother and I money to buy one for each other and one for someone else. I think it was her way of making sure we weren’t left out since we moved schools quite a bit growing up. I would always buy one for my brother and put some lame message on it and sign it from some random person. Never myself. Because that’s lame to get a Valentine from your little sister. He, on the other hand, was all brother in his message. It usually included something about how great he is and that I was lucky to have him as my brother. And while I would roll my eyes, I knew what he really meant.

The other one though was a little bit harder. I never knew who to choose. I had plenty of friends so it was a matter of figuring out which one to send it to. Without hurting anyone else’s feelings. Sometimes I worried that I wouldn’t get one and would send it to myself. And there were years that had I not done that the only one I would get would be from my brother. And what’s more disheartening, only getting one Valentine and that being from your brother or sending one to yourself? I think I’d rather have had none because I could have said that my family didn’t celebrate. But with one from my brother, I needed a distraction.

As I got older and more settled in my school it was easier to send something to all my friends. We’d all send each other these little Valentines and laugh and giggle about it. But I knew that a few of these people were really my friends. People whom I would know as a grown up. And thanks to social networking and email it is a reality. Not just for me, but for so many too.

Valentines wasn’t a big deal in college. Sure CycleGuy and I dated. As poor college students though, it was hard to justify that big, fancy Valentine’s Day dinner. Besides, when the guy you’re dating knows you’ve got an eating disorder it’s just not as romantic as it sounds. And he was usually working anyway. We’d exchange cards since that’s what sappy college-love does. And I still have those cards. Because that’s what sappy grown up love does.

Fast forward 20 years and I have an even stronger belief in the love of friends that co-exists with the romantic love of Valentine’s Day. It’s a day I can be all syrupy and googly with my friends and embarrass them and myself with my goofy rhyming poems and haiku. But it’s important. It’s important that I let those people that matter to me know that I truly do love them and appreciate their friendship. Yes, I tell people all the time that they mean a lot to me. But it’s this one day, the day I often worried about whether people who were my friend could say so in front of others when I make sure to let those people who bring love and joy to my life know that I appreciate them.

I thank you, my dear reader, for coming here to read what I have to say. For commenting or emailing. For letting me know that you like me. My blog. Both. And while I can not send you a special Valentine message to homeroom or 3rd period, here is your virtual wish and one of the many quotes about friendship that I appreciate. You can always tell a real friend: when you’ve made a fool of yourself he doesn’t feel you’ve done a permanent job.

Happy Valentine’s Day my dear friends!

Sara