My Secret to Valentine’s Day: KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

So, here’s an unpopular opinion of mine: I used to hate Valentine’s Day. Granted, I have grown into a bit more of a fan lately. I mean, I certainly get the appeal of it, and I’d be lying if I said that my opinion hadn’t softened now that I have someone wonderful to share it with. But as a whole, I think that while the concept is nice, the entire thing has a bad tendency to be entirely over-hyped and generally a little disappointing… and that’s a problem. A day that’s meant to show someone how much you love them shouldn’t feel like so much pressure.

(I have this same feeling towards New Years. Perhaps it stemmed from the bitterness of singledom, but even as I’ve experienced my past few in a relationship, both holidays still seem to me to just be, generally, too much.)

Don’t get me wrong. Valentine’s Day is cute. It’s nice to shower the person you love with a little extra affection. And, plus, there’s a lot of chocolate involved, and we all know that I believe chocolate makes everything better.

But I don’t think it necessarily needs to be some big, huge deal. In fact, lately, I’ve started to realize that Valentine’s Day can be even better if you step away from the hype. I’m lucky enough to be with a guy who likes to keep things just as low-key as I do. Together, we’ve started to look at Valentines Day as less of a stressful requirement and more as another opportunity to say: hey, I love you.

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So, in the spirit of the holiday I once thought I hated, I’ve pulled together a few ideas if you, too, are looking to step past the idea of a stressful Hallmark holiday, but still wouldn’t mind showing that special someone that you think they’re… well… special:

For your first Valentine’s day: Craft from the heart.
There’s nothing more meaningful than something homemade, and that doesn’t mean you need to go Pinterest-crazy, either. Last year, I made my boyfriend a jar of a hundred Hershey’s kisses – so that he could have a kiss even when we weren’t together. Plus, homemade gifts take the pressure off of “perfect” — because most of the time, they’re better with a little character.

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(It should probably noted that this jar was mostly eaten by me. We’re together a lot.)

If you’ve been dating a while: Cook… for one another, or together.
There’s a reason that people romanticize cooking for your significant other. It’s sweet, and it’s simple. Whether you order yourself a special box of Hello Fresh for the night, or you can whip up something delicious and ingenious on your own (and props to you if you can!) If it’s out of your routine, it makes it all the more special.

If you just moved in together: Lean into traditions. 
This year, my guy and I aren’t going anywhere fancy. We’re going to hit up one of our favorite casual restaurants and just enjoy being together… in one of our places. I don’t know if it’s the idea of having traditions or places we consider “ours” that made me swoon at this suggestion, but I am totally looking forward to a night further emphasizing an element of our relationship. I like thinking of things as “ours,” and I feel like that falls almost directly in line with what you should look to emphasize on Valentine’s Day.

If you’re in it for the long haul: Do something different.
Regardless of if Valentine’s Day actually falls on the weekend or not, chances are, there’s a 3 day weekend pretty close to it. Take advantage of it! Get outdoors and do something you don’t normally do — ski down some mountains, go for a hike, take a weekend trip to a cozy cabin in the woods. Whatever is up your alley, sometimes a getaway can be the very best kind of celebration.

I’ve done all of these things with or for my guy as part of our Valentine’s celebrations the last two years, and they have all made me realize the sweet simplicity of celebrating love. Sure, I think you should show your sweetheart how you feel every day, and I still think that people put too much emphasis on doing it for this one day a year. But if you’re like me, and you and your person can agree to keep it calm and quiet, I bet you’ll find that there is something pretty sweet about doing something a little extra special.

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends.

Attitude Adjustment

Have you ever had one of those moments where you just realize that you are completely, totally, blissfully content with life?

That happened to me this weekend.

I was sitting with my partner in crime, Kacie, in her kitchen. Her mother had just made us the best pulled pork sandwiches. We had spent the afternoon being the ultimate Arizona tourists, going from the candle shop to the soap shop to the olive oil shop – where, I will shamelessly admit, we spent a lot of time dipping artisan bread into exquisite olive oils that we were never going to buy.


We went for coffee at the most adorable, most Arizona-y beer and coffee shop. We sipped wine on the patio of an equally as adorable and Arizona-y wine cafe. We sipped more wine while listening to coyotes howl from her backyard.


Kacie and I were just sitting there, with her mom, talking about all sorts of things. We talked about religion, about politics, about traveling, about family, about weddings, about dresses, about future plans, about past plans, about past decisions, about literally everything under the sun.

And it struck me:

I’m happy. 

Now, I should make a disclaimer.

This is not the “I’m finally happy after the longest time” sort of happiness. I have spent most of this year extremely happy, actually. Yes, it’s been a transitional year, both personally and professionally. Yes, some decisions were not so easy and even downright heartbreaking in certain aspects. Yes, there have certainly been struggles that I’ve had to face, deal with, and move past.

Life is not a walk in the park, people.

And the happiness I am currently experiencing is because I have finally stopped expecting it to be.

I am supremely guilty of hanging on to this notion that everything has to feel good to be good. That sounds weird, but in my head it makes sense, so just bear with me.

Basically, I was convinced that I would know something was right because it would be easy. And that, my friends, was the issue.

I find myself now hanging on to a new notion: that not all things worth having come easily. I like to compare it to climbing a mountain – no one actually enjoys the physical aspects of climbing a mountain. What we enjoy is challenge, the accomplishment, and the reward of getting to the incredible view at the top with your endorphins racing and a smile beaming. We enjoy the rush. The result. It doesn’t mean we enjoyed every step of the climb.

So, no. Not everything lately has been the easiest. Working three weeks straight of overtime was exhausting. Physical therapy hurts. Breaking up with my boyfriend sucked. Being thousands of miles away from the people closest to me is hard.

But I’m still really freaking happy.

Because I’ve made the decision to be. I know I can handle anything that comes my way. I’ve handled the hardest parts of my life so far and I’ll continue to do so with whatever God feels like dealing out. Because ultimately, He knows the plans He has for me… what happens next is up to Him.

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All I get to decide is how to feel about it. All of it. Even if it’s heartbreaking, even if it’s terrifying, even if it’s hard…

I’m choosing to be happy about it. Because, you know what? Life is beautiful, trust is comforting, and happiness? Well, it’s a pretty damn great feeling.