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Making Time for Romance

Connecting with your partner emotionally and physically is a soothing balm for our frazzled lives. A foot massage and a sympathetic ear give us the chance to recharge our selves and our love lives. But after a long day of putting out fires at work,handling numerous phone calls, writing up that report, shuttling the kids back and forth, cooking, doing laundry, walking the dog, etc., etc.- the last thing on your mind is romance. With so much competing for our attention it is easy to focus on everything but each other. So, how do you find the time to connect with your sweetie? Make intimacy a habit just like your morning coffee and bagel by adding it into your daily routine.

1. Compliment each other on the things you like and appreciate about each other every day. Let your partner know that he/she is in your thoughts and in your heart.

2. Create your own simple rituals that show that you care about each other. Find a way to connect during the day with a note, a phone call, or an email.

3. Listen without giving advice, taking responsibility, or trying to “fix” things. Let your mate enjoy the luxury of knowing that you are really listening. Only give feedback if your mate asks for it.

4. Talk to each other about what’s going on in your lives besides the day-to-day running of the household or office talk. Share what you are feeling.

5. Hold each other. A simple hug can do wonders.

6. Instead of the standard, “How was your day?” exchange, pick at least one good thing about your day and share it with each other.

7. Give each other a kiss when coming and going.

8. Laugh together – often.

9. Plan a regular “date” night once a week.

10. Say the words “I love you.”

You may be thinking that your relationship is the one thing in your hectic life that is stress-free, so why change things? While there is a certain level of comfort and predictability in a long-term relationship, the danger is that you may stop listening and may stop “being there” for your relationship. Knowing your mate inside and out can also give both of you the illusion that you can read each other’s minds. And this can lead to misunderstandings which, when piled on top of each other, can lead to relationship disasters. Talk to each other. Listen. Ask questions. Don’t assume. As you continue to grow and change as an individual, so will your relationship. Keep the lines of communication open by not tuning each other out. This doesn’t just apply to verbal communication either. If your mate feels more like a roommate than a lover, perhaps you should incorporate more “togetherness” into your daily routines. Love is in the little things, in the day-to-day details of our lives.

 

Edel Jarboe is the founder and of Simpler Living (http://www.simplerliving.com), an online magazine helping you balance work, family, and life. She also publishes a free weekly newsletter, which features personal happiness tips, time management tips, and advice on goal setting, stress management, coping with difficult people, and overcoming obstacles. Past Issues: http://www.simplerliving.com/sln.htm Subscribe: mailto:subscribe@simplerliving.com?subject=Subscribe

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True Romance for Couples with Kids: 10 ideas

Anyone can splurge on a formal dinner or a pricey bottle of perfume, but it takes creativity, forethought, and time to be truly romantic. Here are 10 ideas to get you started…

In my marriage, some of the most memorable evenings have also been the least expensive. Sure, I have enjoyed the bouquets and the boxes of chocolate, but it is the folk music in the ski lodge, the sips of Chardonnay on our summer porch swing, and the nights spent reading in bed, side by side, that really stand out.

The key lies in personalizing your celebration. Here are ten ideas to fuel your own creativity:

1. Empty a box of chocolate (either into your mouth or onto a plate…) Then cut out 50 to 100 hearts from lace doilies, construction paper, or fabric. On each cutout, record something about him that you love. Be specific, “The way you smell when you come to bed at night,” “The way you take care of me when I’m sick,” or simply “Your recipe for pancakes.”

Another variation: Write down 100 cherished memories of your life together. Fold the cutouts, place them in the chocolate box, and top with a red satin bow. The time you spend coming up with these ideas will contribute to your own romantic mood, and what he thinks is a plain box of chocolates will be a gift  he’ll keep close to his heart forever. And you can add to the box each year.

2. Build a romantic fire. Before the kids go to bed, have fun roasting marshmallows. After their lights are out, host your own indoor picnic, complete with a bottle of wine and chocolate-covered strawberries.

3. Recreate your first date together. What were you wearing? Where did you go? Do you remember what you talked about? Spend the evening reminiscing and reflecting on how far you’ve come as a couple.

4. Spoon all night.

5. Choose a book in which you are both interested, fiction or nonfiction. Read a new chapter each night before bed. This cozy tradition will allow you to spend some quality time together and often makes for thought-provoking breakfast conversations.

6. Make a tape of the songs special to your relationship. Include “your song,” songs from your wedding, songs from favorite movies. Add a personal voice dedication and leave it in his briefcase, Walkman, or car stereo.

7. Turn off the TV.

8. Kidnap your husband. Arrange for a babysitter for a few hour–or a few days. A friend of mine had a lot of success with this one. She knew her husband had always wanted to get married in Vegas, but he had agreed to a large, formal ceremony hosted by her family. So, after they had been married 10 years, she surprised him at work with a packed suitcase. They caught an evening flight and renewed their vows before an Elvis impersonator in a Vegas chapel. Years later, they’re still talking about it.

9. This one requires a babysitter, too. Next time you’re visiting your parents or in-laws, leave the kids with their grandparents and travel to another town, where no one will recognize you. Check into a hotel or B&B. Dress like another woman. Act like another woman. It’s fun to slip into another persona from time to time.

10. Have a scavenger hunt. Write a few poems, wrap candy kisses inside, and hide them around the house. Each poem should be a clue to finding the next one. Make sure the final clue lands your man someplace you want to end up for the entire evening. A romance package, including a bottle of champagne and new lingerie, is a nice touch.

Create a memory this Valentine’s Day, not with your pocketbook but with your imagination.

 

Susie Michelle Cortright is the author of More Energy for Moms and Rekindling Your Romance After Kids, as well as the Soul Snacks booklet series, featuring creative ways to nurture yourself and your family in 15 minutes or less. Each of these publications is available through Momscape.com, a website devoted to helping women celebrate and embrace their diverse roles: http://www.momscape.com

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Valentine Moments With Your Children

One of the things I loved doing as a child was making very fancy and creative valentines for my parents. I would spend hours designing and building wonderful cards with little poems in them. The only problem was that, while my mother would receive her card graciously, she never received it with her heart. She would smile and tell me how lovely it was, but I never felt her love coming back to me. My mother did not know how to open her heart, how to smile at me with love and cherishing in her eyes. My father would never even notice his card.

I wanted to connect with my parents, to share love with them, to know their hearts, but their hearts were hidden. Sadly, my mother died last year at the age of 85 without ever being able to truly share her heart with me. My father is 91 and his heart has always been closed.

Your children need to feel your heart and soul. They need you to take the time to stop what you are doing and just be with them. They need you to really see them – to see who they are beneath their outward ways of being.

One of the greatest gifts we can give to our children is to see their essence, their true Self, their individual expression of Spirit within them. When children are deeply seen and valued by their parents, they learn to see and value themselves. All children need this profound mirroring from their parents to feel intrinsically lovable and worthy.

The problem is that we cannot see the souls of our children and embrace their intrinsic worth unless we see our own intrinsic worth. If you suffer from core shame – if you feel intrinsically unworthy, unlovable, not good enough, unimportant, or inadequate – then you cannot energetically communicate to your children their inherent worth. Your own feelings of unworthiness will be projected upon them, no matter how loving you try to be with them. You can let them know in many ways how wonderful they are, but when they energetically pick up your core shame, they will either integrate that shame into their own beings, or move into the opposite direction, believing that they are superior to you, which can cause entitlement issues.

In order to love and cherish your children in the way they need to be loved and cherished, you need to love and cherish yourself. The greatest gift you can give your children this Valentine’s Day and every day is to embrace a daily process of healing your own core shame, a process such as Inner Bonding.

Core shame comes from two different sources:

* If you were shamed as a child for who you are, you may have absorbed these false beliefs about yourself and continue to act as if they are true.

* If you were not loved in the way you needed to be loved, you might have decided at a young age that it was your fault that you were not being loved – that you were flawed, inadequate, unworthy, and so on. Core shame is often connected with a need to have control over getting love, so a child may decide, “If it’s my fault that I’m not being loved because there is something wrong with me, then there is something I can do about it. I can try to become the “right” way and then people will love me.” Sometimes we stay attached to the belief in our core shame to maintain the illusion that we can actually control how others feel about us and treat us.

If you commit to a daily Inner Bonding process of loving yourself and letting go of trying to get love from others, you will find that your core shame gradually resolves. Core shame resolves when we let go of believing that we cause others to feel and behave the way they do. As you heal your core shame, you can love your children from your true Self, your own individual expression of Spirit within. When your children experience your love for them from your true Self rather than from your wounded self that carries your core shame, they will feel your heart and know that they are truly lovable and worthy of being loved.

As Valentine’s Day approaches – this day of sharing love – why not commit to learning to love yourself so that you can deeply share love with your children? There is nothing more profound than the sharing of love that comes from an open heart. Your children need and deserve to have this sacred experience with you.

 

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books, including “Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?”, “Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By My Kids?”, “Healing Your Aloneness”,”Inner Bonding”, and “Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By God?” Visit her web site for a FREE Inner Bonding course: http://www.innerbonding.com or
mailto:margaret@innerbonding.com

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Valentines Day Fun For Kids

Share some family fun and get started on the projects listed below and have them ready in time for Valentines Day.

  • Help kids make their own Valentines using construction paper, lace, ribbons, sequins, buttons, glitter, glue and anything else they or you can think of to add on!
  • Cut a heart shape from a household sponge and sprinkle with wheat grass seeds and keep the sponge wet so the children will have a growing heart. They can even give the hearts “hair cuts!”
  • Make a decorate cookies or cupcakes. Use your favorite cake mix and icing and decorate with candy hearts, red hots, sprinkles and anything else you can think of.
  • Make a Valentine Box by decorating a shoe box with construction paper or wrapping paper and adding on lace, ribbons, paper cutouts, heart doilies and anything else in your craft pile.Kids can then put their Valentine cards in the box!
  • Use paints or food coloring to make Thumbprint Valentines by making two thumbprints into a heart shape and then add facial features . The child then can add the following – “Thumb Body Loves You!”
  • Play Cupid Chase by putting blindfolds on all but one (He will be Cupid) Tie a small bell to the childs shoe strings or on a string for a necklace.Then Cupid runs around the room anywhere while the blindfolded kids try to to catch him by listening for the bell.When Cupid is caught the catcher then becomes Cupid!

Have a Happy Valentines Day!
Angela Billings is a stay at home wife and mother who publishes an online newsletter Home and Family Ezine. http://www.homeandfamilyezine.com

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Valentine’s Day: Grown-Up Style

At age five, you woke to the anticipation and thrill of paper valentines and white doilies decorated with taped-on heart-shaped lollipops. At age fifteen, your heart raced passing a folded note to your high school crush. Now that you’re an adult, Valentine’s day has taken on a whole new meaning.

Alone or attached, coupled or parenting, Valentines Day is the ideal opportunity to spoil yourself and those you love. Chill the bubbly, stock-up on chocolate delicacies, stop by the local florist and plan one of the most spectacular Valentine’s ever.

Here’s a few tips for making this the most memorable ever:

* Reserve a romantic Bed & Breakfast at a locale you’ve always longed to visit. Research your options to find the ideal inn exquisitely decorated, since you’ll want to spend most of your time indoors. Keep in mind, many popular suites book far in advance and require a minimum three-day stay.

* Book a three- to five-day ocean cruise to Alaska, Hawaii or the Caribbean. Day or night, the tranquil ocean waters and gentle waves have lulled the hearts of lovers for centuries.

* Plan a camping trip in the southwest and remember to schedule time for a warm, crackling bonfire under the stars, with blankets optional. Bringing the kids? Just pack the ingredients for warm s’mores.

* Book time at a spa for a day or weekend filled with luxury and indulgence. Today’s spas offer the best in skin and body care plus health and wellness. You’ll return to work – and life – vibrant, glowing and rejuvenated.

* Arrange for a romantic Valentine weekend at home. Secretly arrange childcare with friends or family members. Stock-up on candles, campaign and truffles. Then prepare a candle lit dinner for two, complete with a mouth-watering chocolate cake and a fresh flower arrangement. Then wake early to cook a hearty breakfast in bed.

* Miss time with your family? Take this opportunity to show everyone in your life how much you love them. Plan a family vacation to DisneyWorld, the Mall of America or a historical landmark the kids are learning about in school. Remember to bring pink and red cards and gifts for everyone.

* Solo? Don’t mope. Valentine’s Day is a perfect chance to reconnect you’re your friends. Visit your old college buddy on the east coast or plan a fun-filled girl’s night out.

Valentine’s Day is a great day to treat and spoil yourself. Plan well in advance and make it a holiday you’ll talk about for years to come.
About the Author
Clinton Douglas IV, writes about travel for Vasrue.com – Travel. Get amazing travel discounts, fresh articles and travel ideas in your inbox. Plus, we never share your personal information – ever! Sign-up for the Vasrue.com travel e-magazine, today! http://www.vasrue.com/dt/t.php?id=427

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Will You Be Your Valentine?

This Valentine’s Day marks the 20th anniversary of my father’s death. When people ask how he died at such an early age (he was 47), I usually say that he died of a broken heart. I attribute much of my father’s heart disease to the high stress he was under, as well an unwillingness to honor his own needs for self-care. It’s ironic that he died of a heart attack on the day that we Americans plaster hearts all over everything as a way to recognize those we love.

In Cheryl Richardson’s book, Take Time for Your Life, she suggests that we practice “extreme self-care.” Many of us have been raised to believe that this is a selfish act. Quite the contrary! It’s important to remember that when we put the needs of our work or of others before our own personal needs, we put ourselves at risk. And when we neglect our health, well-being, and our relationships, we become less available to assist others and less effective professionally.

Do you recall the instructions given on an airplane before takeoff? “In the unlikely event that the cabin were to depressurize, please put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” Why? Because if you don’t take care of yourself first, you may not be available to assist others. My father’s untimely death brought this lesson home to me!

I often hear clients say things like, “I’ll take some time off after I finish these projects.” But if completing everything on the “to-do” list becomes a prerequisite to relaxing or practicing some self-care… well, that day will never come! Besides, have you ever known anyone on their deathbed to say, “I wish I had spent more time at the office!”?

Stop the Insanity and Reclaim Your Life!

The first step in reclaiming your life is to make proactive choices, rather than being reactive to your external environment and allowing the events in your life to dictate your priorities. Being proactive requires you to be conscious and intentional. A body that’s used to running on high levels of adrenaline is like a car engine that has the idle set too high. It will take time to retrain your mind and body to slow down in order to make choices that will help you practice better self-care.

Instead of impulsively responding to a request of your time or automatically launching in to work on an unfinished task, learn to stop and ask yourself what’s most important. Do you really need to take that phone call right now? Will the world come to an end if you wait until tomorrow to check your email? How about if you turn your pager and cell phone off? Is it critical to clean the house before you go out for the evening?

Are You Running on Adrenaline?

For most Americans, adrenaline has become the drug of choice. Adrenaline is what keeps us going at breakneck speed. When we use adrenaline as our main source of energy, our body’s adrenal system — the system which produces the “fight or flight” response that is supposed to prepare us for battle — never has a chance to rest.

If you can relate to some of these common behaviors and symptoms, you may very well be using adrenaline as a main source of fuel:

  • You finally have time to relax. You feel so anxious about unfinished business that, instead of relaxing, you end up doing something on your “to do” list.
  • You feel exhausted but you cannot fall asleep because you have so many thoughts racing through your head. Or, you fall asleep but awaken during the night thinking about all the unfinished business that needs your attention.
  • During the workday you find difficulty concentrating on one project because you feel so distracted by a multitude of other projects or tasks you need to do.
  • You check voicemail or email multiple times a day and feel a rush of anxiety each time you do so. (That’s your adrenaline saying “Get ready for battle!”).
  • You typically skip lunch and stay late at the office to try to catch up. No matter how much you do this, you just can’t seem to get ahead.

Recharge Your Battery

As technology increases and the pace of life speeds out of control, our adrenal system responds to what our bodies perceive as “danger” by staying in a constant state of readiness. Over time, our bodies get used to staying in this hyper-vigilant state of “fight or flight,” making it physiologically difficult for us to slow down. Eventually we work ourselves to exhaustion.

One of the problems with overextending ourselves is that we grow accustomed to getting our energy from adrenaline rushes. So how do we begin to recharge our battery from a healthier source of energy when we get stuck in this chronic state of running on adrenaline? Here are some suggestions to help reduce your reliance on adrenaline so you can take better care of your spirit, mind, and body.

Choose one or two of these ideas at a time and practice them for 21 days… the amount of time it takes to form a new habit:

  • Schedule some time to relax. You may find it stressful to keep these relaxation “appointments” with yourself at first. Start small — let’s say 15 minutes at a time — and build it up to larger stretches of time for relaxation.
  • The next time you are asked to take on a new project, sleep on it and give them your answer tomorrow. This is a simple way to keep someone else’s urgency from becoming your next crisis, while giving yourself the time and space to sort out how the request fits with your other priorities. Be more selective as to when you say yes. “No!” is a complete sentence.
  • Delegate whenever possible. Hire an assistant, request support from your boss, or decide to let go of certain aspects of your work.
  • Turn your pager and cell phone off after work hours. If you are “on call” 24 hours a day, it’s time to renegotiate expectations! The world will not fall apart if you take time off.
  • Do some deep breathing. When we’re running on adrenaline we have a tendency to do shallow breathing. Practice deep breathing while driving or at specific periods throughout the day. Consistent and frequent deep breathing will improve the health of your nervous system.
  • Eat regularly — three meals a day plus healthy snacks — and make choices that offer a proper balance of nutrients and food groups.
  • Wean yourself from caffeine. Although a morning cup of coffee or midday soda may give you a jolt of energy, it wears down your adrenal system over time and actually depletes your body of energy. Caffeine can also make you feel jittery or nervous.
  • Exercise regularly. A brisk walk is one of the best ways you can reduce stress and restore health to your adrenal system. Walk to work, take the stairs, or use part of your lunch break to get your body moving.
  • Instead of checking your email multiple times throughout the day, schedule two or three specific times for this. Then let others know that you do not live online so they can adjust their expectations if they’re used to an immediate response from you.
  • Have a set time for returning phone calls instead of being available all day to take each call as it comes in. (That’s what voice mail is for!) Again, let others know when you’ll be returning calls so they can adjust their expectations.
  • Clear your desk and work on one thing at a time. Organize your time and space to focus on your priorities. Visit http://www.orgcoach.net/improve_organize.html to review “Six Ways to Improve Your Office Organizing Skills.”

What’s the Bottom Line?

When faced with a stressful situation, put things into perspective by practicing something called “bottom-lining.” A powerful aspect of bottom-lining is that it bypasses the comments of your gremlins. (Gremlins — a term taken from Richard Carson’s book, Taming Your Gremlin: A Guide to Enjoying Yourself — are those inner voices which conspire to keep you from being happy.) Our gremlins would have us believe that nothing we do or say is good enough. When we go right to the bottom line, there’s simply not space for our gremlins to take center stage with an insistence that we “should,” “gotta,” or “have to” do something.

The Gremlin

Here’s a bottom-line question to ask yourself as soon as you start feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or burdened by an unexpected request: What’s really at stake here?
Unless someone will die because of your inability to complete something right this moment, simply walk away, take a deep breath, and sort out your priorities. After all, the quality of your life is far more important than any task or responsibility you have agreed to take on. And not all tasks are imposed by someone else. Be aware of those self-imposed deadlines that you’ve created for yourself!

Is Organization and Time Management Part of the Problem?

So many people seem unhappy in their professional lives. Very few connect that dissatisfaction to being disorganized, which can make a good job seem unbearable. The good news is that it’s easy to correct. Some of my executive clients are effective decision-makers on a higher level, but they have difficulty managing the hundreds of micro-decisions they must make daily, often in the form of paper — memos and letters to read, phone messages to return, mail to sort, reports and proposals to review, and to-do lists a mile long.

“It’s not the tigers that eat us alive… it’s the gnats!”

Do you put “getting organized” on the back burner because of more pressing things which need your attention? Until you consistently pay attention to non-urgent but important tasks — tasks such as getting organized, weekly planning, self-care, and other preventive kinds of activities — the urgent tasks will continue to multiply, often to a critical state.

You may put off getting organized because you don’t have the time. Or perhaps you’d like to hire a professional organizer, but you don’t want to part with the money. Unfortunately, you may already be spending that money now in less tangible ways.

To calculate the costs of disorganization, for the next month keep a log of the costs of doing “business as usual.” Once you have kept this log for a month, multiply the total by 12, and you’ll have an annual estimate of what disorganization costs you or the company for which you work.

Kathy Paauw, President of Paauwerfully Organized, specializes in helping busy executives, professionals, and entrepreneurs declutter their schedules, spaces and minds. She is a certified business/personal coach and professional organizer. Contact her at mailto:orgcoach@gte.net or visit her website at http://www.orgcoach.net and learn how you can Find ANYTHING in 5 Seconds – Guaranteed!

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Fear and Loathing on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and for many of us men this is one holiday we could do without. Not because we’re against romance necessarily, we just aren’t very good at it. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but for most of us men Valentine’s Day is like a car wreck – something which we’d rather avoid. But like our annual tax bill, Valentine’s Day comes once a year whether we like it or not.

Don’t get me wrong, if we men were more capable in matters of the heart, I’m sure this would be a day we’d look forward to. But sadly, this usually isn’t the case. Think of it this way; a man giving a Valentine’s Day gift is much like him trying to hammer a nail blindfolded. Occasionally he’ll hit the mark, but most often it will result in an unpleasant experience.

Each year we men struggle to come up with what we believe to be the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. And more often than not, each year these offerings of love are met with less than wild enthusiasm from our partners. How were we to know such things as a new iron, blender, toaster, vacuum or dishwasher were not the ideal Valentine’s Day gift? Or giving such things as a treadmill, aerobics video, or jogging outfit would not be interpreted as our saying “I love you” but rather, “Honey, your thighs look like cottage cheese.” Maybe the women in our lives, rather than getting irritated and upset by our feeble attempts at romance, should simply take pity on us.

Perhaps we men have some strange genetic defect that hasn’t yet been recognized by medical science. Or it might be Cupid’s fault. Perhaps when he shoots his arrows of love at a couple he hits the woman’s heart, but inflicts some sort of massive head trauma to the male involved. There must be some rational explanation for our lack of romantic flair. Why else would we men think the only purpose for candles is emergency lighting during power outages? That ambiance is some kind of bottled water? Or that loves notes are what we leave for our partners to let them know we are out of beer?

Men deserve sympathy, compassion, mercy and understanding, for when it comes to the fine art of romance, we men are sitting in our boxer shorts finger painting with our toes. So this year when you receive oven-mitts adorned with little red hearts or lingerie even a street walker wouldn’t wear, don’t get mad at the man in your life, understand he did the best he could… all things considered.

Passing Thoughts by T.W. Winslow
About The Author: Passing Thoughts is a syndicated column published on quality web sites, in electronic magazines and various print media around the world – read by millions each week. You can get Passing Thoughts FREE each week by email – subscribe at http://www.taddgroup.com For reprint information or to contact the author write to twwinslow@taddgroup.com

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Top 10 Ways to be Extraordinarily Romantic this Valentine’s Day

Whether you are in a relationship or single, rarely will Valentine’s Day pass by without your notice. If you are single and even if you think the day has no significance, on Valentine’s Day you will think about and want a relationship more than usual. If you are in a relationship and Valentine’s Day does not get celebrated, it will leave hurt and resentment in its wake.
Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to focus on love. Think of Valentine’s Day as “Focus-on-Love Day,” as opposed to “Hurt- About-Lack-of-Love Day” or “Ignore-Being-Single Day” or “Unhappy Day.” Below you will find ways to make your “Focus-on-Love Day” extraordinarily romantic, whether you are single or in a relationship.

1. The Perfect Day

Couples: See if you can start to notice what your lover dreams about, wishes for. Listen for small, doable things that can make a big difference. Alternatively, subtly question your lover about what he/she pictures as the perfect Valentine’s Day. Now take the information you have gathered and make it into a perfect day for him or her.

Singles: If you had a partner, what would you have them do to create your perfect Valentine’s Day? Create it for yourself. Love yourself that much.

2. The Perfect Card + One Perfect Rose

Couples: Buy or make a lovely card and then fill it to the brim with words of love, admiration and appreciation. When I say fill it to the brim, I mean leave no white space untouched. Present it with one perfect rose.

Singles: Buy or make a lovely card for yourself, and just as above, fill it to the brim with words you want to hear from your future lover. Seal the envelope, so that you can open it on Valentine’s Day. Present it to yourself with one perfect rose.

3. Treat Valentine’s Day as a Lover’s Day and not as a Woman’s Day

Couples: Ladies, I have it on good authority that guys want to be celebrated too. So, get him flowers and candy and a card, too.

Singles: Guys, give yourself that same wonderful Valentine’s Day as a relationship partner would give you. You may feel silly, but you will also feel good.

4. Say Goodbye to Obligation; Say Hello to Open Heart

Couples: Don’t give or do anything out of obligation this Valentine’s Day. Give only from your heart, from love and treasuring your partner. No matter how good or bad your relationship is going, get in touch with how much you truly love and appreciate your partner. Give from that space.

Singles: Don’t beat yourself up for not having a partner yet. You have not failed. You are not bad. Valentine’s Day can be “Focus-on-Love-for-Yourself Day” as well as “Focus-on-Love-for- Another Day.”

5. The Gift of Undivided Attention

Couples: Give your partner the gift of undivided attention and see if she or he doesn’t find that the most romantic thing going.

Singles: Give yourself the gift of your own undivided attention. Take away all of the distractions and be with yourself the way you would want your partner to be with you.

6. Gift of Communication, I

Couples: Men, allow your woman to talk about whatever her heart desires, and listen without fixing at all. Ladies, let your man talk or answer your question without finishing his sentences for him, interrupting him, or moving on to the next topic. See if this doesn’t make sparks fly.

Singles: Either find a person who will listen to you the way you need to be heard, or give yourself space and time to listen to your own thoughts and feelings or to journal.

7. Gift of Communication, II

Couples: Ladies, give your man the gift of sitting down next to him in silence. No talking allowed. Men, give your lady the gift of talking and sharing from your heart. No closing down, walling- up or running away allowed.

Singles: Either silence or open heart–give yourself whichever one you need.

8. A Gift with Interest

Couples: Is your partner into computers, and you don’t know a mouse from a monitor? Or is she into gardening, but to you a rose is just a rose? Give your partner the gift of your interest in something that is important to him or her. Go ahead, ask him or her a question about it and see the smile light up his or her face.

Singles: Give yourself the gift of time to pursue your important interest. Take the time to do something that nourishes you and makes you happy.

9. The Trust

Couples: Ladies, give the man in your life the gift of trusting him to know how and when to take care of himself and you. Trust that he will do the best he can for Valentine’s Day. Gentlemen, hold her trust sacred, and learn to listen for subtle requests. Then honor them. The celebration of love will feel good to both of you.

Singles: Today, trust your process and your fate. Today, trust that you too will be loved and cherished by a partner. Today, remember all the people who already love and cherish you.

10. A Shower of Words

Couples: Write your loved one a love letter or poem and read it to them on Valentine’s Day. Here come the tears.

Singles: Write yourself a love letter or poem, exactly the way you would want it written by a lover. Read it to yourself out loud and have Kleenex ready.

Plan to have a happy Valentine’s Day!
This article was originally published by Coach Rinatta Paries in *The Relationship Coach Newsletter*, a weekly e-zine for people who want fulfilling relationships. For singles, the newsletter will help you attract your Mr. or Ms. Right. If you’re in a relationship, you will learn to create more closeness and intimacy with your mate. To subscribe, go to http://www.WhatItTakes.com

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Valentine Hugs and Kisses – An Inexpensive Gift Idea

This is a great little gift that is inexpensive and very cute for most anyone you want to wish a Happy Valentine’s Day.

What you will need for ten gifts:
10 snack-sized Ziplock bags
10 pieces of heavy paper cut to 4″x 6.5″
2 bags Hershey Kisses
2 bags Hershey Hugs
Pink and Red felt tip pens
Stapler

Instructions: If it is the right time of year, you can get Hershey Kisses, in red and green, half off after Christmas. Just use the red ones for this project, and save the green for St. Patrick’s Day (or for personal snacking!).

Place a half a dozen hugs and kisses in the Ziplock bag and zip it up. Fold the paper length-wise and staple the bottom of the edges just the zipper of the bag. On the front of the bag, write: “Hugs and Kisses, Happy Valentines Day”. You can decorate the front with X’s and O’s either hand written, or using the letters of a stamp alphabet. Put the To: and From: on the back of the card.
Easy, easy, easy! You can adapt this for your kids to give to school friends. (My son objected to putting “Hugs and Kisses” on his valentines, but loved giving out the candy with just “Happy Valentines” on the front.

Kathi is the editor of Home and Heart, an on-line e-zine dedicated to women who choose to improve the lives of themselves, as well as impacting those around them, through simplifying, goal setting and acting. To subscribe, send an email to homeandheart-subscribe@topica.com She is also a writer,whose work is found in Simple Times and The San Jose Mercury News, Glamor Puss, and many other on-line publications.

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Unique Way to say I Love You on Valentines Day

Looking for something different this Valentines Day? Is the same old box of chocolates not going to cut it this year? Here are some ideas on how to show your love, devotion and creativity this February…

To Your Best Friend:

1.Pink Chenille slippers. They are the cutest things around- and so comfy, too!
2.Take a terra cotta pot and paint it white with Deco Art Patio Paint. Put some pretty, pink inpatients in the pot and tie a big, fuchsia bow around the lip of the pot- darling!
3.I am amazed at the number of small silver or cut glass dishes you can find at thrift stores. I buy those and place a bar of handmade soap in the dish. Tie the whole thing up with a red fabric ribbon. Only give this to your coolest friends who appreciate items that have a history.
4.My theory; purchase something small, yet spectacular. Buy the smallest box of Swiss chocolates and wrap it in a beautiful lace hankie. That is so much more memorable than a pound of plain old chocolates.
5.Put some Hershey Hugs and Kisses in a little bag and tie a note to the top that says, “Hugs and Kisses for you”.

To Your Kids:

1.After dinner, set a checkerboard out on your kitchen table. Instead of setting it up with checker pieces, use Hershey Kisses in silver and red.
2.On a red piece of paper, take twenty dimes and use rubber cement to glue them in the shape of a heart. Roll up the piece of paper and tie it with a big, white ribbon. Trust me, this is the best gift an eleven year old can receive for $2.
3.Buy a large heart paper punch at a stationary store. Place that in a box with red, pink and purple cardstock, envelopes, gel pens and a glue stick. Your child can make her own stationary.
4.Treasure boxes are a popular item in home decorating right now. You can purchase darling little boxes, with latches, for under $5. Fill one of these boxes with gold chocolate coins from See’s Candies. The box can be used to hold a child’s secret “treasures” after the coins are “spent”.

To Your True Love:

1.A diamond tennis bracelet. (In case my husband is reading this article….)
2.A small nosegay of flowers for each of your bedside tables.
3.A few months ago, my husband wrote a poem about me, just to me. If you are not as poetic, you can copy a poem to your true love in your own handwriting.
4.Buy two white pillowcases. Go a little crazy with the fabric paints and do hearts all over the two cases. Very sweet, very cute.
5.Pull the TV  into your bedroom and snuggle up while you watch a great movie. Makes sure you have plenty of appropriate snacks available! (This is the one time when crumbs in the sheets are acceptable!)

Have a wonderful, and creative Valentines Day.
Kathi is the editor of Home and Heart, an on-line e-zine dedicated to women who choose to improve the lives of themselves, as well as impacting those around them, through simplifying, goal setting and acting. To subscribe, send an email to homeandheart-subscribe@topica.com She is also a writer,whose work is found in Simple Times and The San Jose Mercury News, Glamor Puss, and many other on-line publications.

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Fun Things to do with Your Kids on Valentine’s Day

With Valentines Day approaching, many are wondering what fun things they can do with the kids.

Crafts:

“POCKET FULL OF LOVE”

What you need:
An old pair of jeans
Fillables – candy, fake flowers, etc.
Writables – permanent marker, fabric paint, or other
Directions: Take an old pair of jeans and cut the back pockets out (keeping both sides of the pockets in tact). Fill the pockets with candy, fake flowers or anything else you imaginations thinks of. Decorate the outside of the pockets – Make a heart and write the words “Pocket Full Of Love” inside the heart with either markers, fabric paint or anything else. Decorate the rest as you like. Makes a Great Valentines gift!

“SPOONFUL OF KISSES”

What you need:
Plastic spoon
Two Hersheys Kisses
Ribbon
Cardstock or construction paper
Directions: (You may precut everything for the little kids) Trace a heart on the construction paper (fold construction paper in half first) or cardstock. Punch a whole for the ribbon to tie on the spoon when it’s done. On your card, write “Here’s a Spoonful of Love & Kisses” on it. On the spoon put a couple of kisses in the bowl of the spoon and wrap ribbon or tulle around it and tie in a bow, to secure it. Tie it to the card in the whole you punched out.

Games:

“MUSICAL HEARTS”

This game is similar to musical chairs. You must make a big red heart that a person can hold in both hands, first. Everyone muct stand in a circle. Someone then plays music (a popular friendship song, etc.) When the music starts – you pass the paper heart clock wise. When the music stops – the person standing on the left of the person holding the heart is “out” and must exit the game. The game continues – until the last person remains holding the heart. Give the winner a handful or box of candy!

Recipes:

“VALENTINE SODAS”

What you need:
Ginger-ale
Strawberry ice cream
Whipped cream
1 teaspoon
Strawberry preserves (optional)
Directions: Fill a tall glass with strawberry ice cream, about 3/4 full. Pour ginger-ale over the ice cream. Top with whipped cream and strawberry preserves. Serve with a spoon. Yum, yum! Kids love it!
Share your favourites in the comments below!

CJ Krebs © 2001
About the Author: CJ Krebs, mother of four, writes short Parenting stories for Sheeze at: http://www.sheeze.com and is the moderator in Sheeze’s The Parenting World message board at: http://sheeze.community.ever

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The History of Valentines Day

Like most many modern celebrations, the origins of Valentine’s Day can be traced back to Pagan times. In ancient Rome, February 14th was a day honoring Juno, the Goddess of women and marriage and Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses. The following day, February 15th, began the Feast of Lupercalia, a festival of love honoring Juno. Love lotteries were an important component of the celebration which took place on the eve of the festival. The names of girls were written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Young men would draw a girl’s name from the jar, making these two partners for the duration of the festival. So even though they weren’t yet called by the name, these early Romans were in fact the first Valentines.

Of course, the early Christians frowned on such erotic goings-ons. Despite their best PR efforts, the church’s attempts to convince celebrants to substitute the names of saints for would-be lovers was not met with much enthusiasm, especially since the participants were encouraged to emulate their chosen patron saint’s virtues for the coming year. Instead the church settled for toning down the nature of Lupercalia from eroticism to romance. Saint Valentine or Valentinus, who had been martyred on February 14 th 269 A.D, proved a convenient symbol around which to fashion this new celebration of romance.

While evidence suggests the saint was himself a chaste man, legend has it he defied Emperor Claudius II by secretly marrying countless couples, a practice the emperor had banned believing that marriage weakened his army. Eventually Claudius caught on and the good saint was condemned and beaten to death.

Another legend has it that Valentinus had befriended his jailer’s daughter during his imprisonment. He left her a farewell letter signed (you guessed it) “From Your Valentine”.
In 496 AD Pope Gelasius set aside February 14 to honor St. Valentine, who became the patron saint of lovers and gradually, February 14 became a day for exchanging love messages and simple gifts. The practice of lottery drawings to select Valentines persisted well into the eighteenth century, but a gradual shift took place in which the gift giving became the sole responsibility of the man. This marked the beginning of the end and the practice eventually disappeared and individuals were at last free to select their own Valentines.

Manufactured Valentine cards didn’t appear until the end of the eighteenth century. The Victorians took the cards to elaborate lengths, trimming them with lace, silks and satins and embellishing them with special details like feathers, flowers, golf leaf, hand painted details and even sweetly perfumed sachets. Until the mid-1800’s, the cost of sending mail was beyond the means of the average person, and the recipient, not the sender, was expected to pay the cost of mailing. It wasn’t until the advent of the penny post that the modern custom of sending Valentine’s cards really gained critical mass. Today, Valentines Day is the second most popular occasion for sending greeting cards, only surpassed by Christmas.

Cheri Sicard of Fabulous Foods Valentine’s Day at FabulousFoods.com — romantic dinner menus, homemade gift ideas, decadent cakes & tarts, kids crafts, sweets for your sweet and of course, lots of chocolate! http://www.fabulousfoods.com/holidays/vday/vday.html