Saturday, February 16, 2013

DIY Valentine's Day

Towards the end of the school day on Thursday, February 14, another teacher passed by my classroom and commented "Valentine's Day is so hard for some people; there is a girl crying right now in the hallway."

"She needs to get over that."

Weird gut response from me, huh? I recognize that sympathy/empathy are not really my strong suit, so I immediately clarified my comment and said something to the effect of, if you want to have a lovely Valentine's day (or a lovely ANY day!), then you need to go out and make that happen yourself. Don't wait around for someone else to make it happen for you.

For several years now, Valentine's Day has been one of my favorite days to celebrate love, friendship, delicious treats and just an overall reason to wear a fabulous outfit. Even growing up I loved the idea of making yourself a fun, colorful box for all your elementary school classmates to place themed Valentine's and the obligatory candy hearts into. However, after all the fun associated with Valentine's Day as a kid there came a time when I needed to make a decision about what some people still deem a "ridiculous, made-up holiday".

See I was a sophomore in college and got it into my head that it made perfect sense for my boyfriend at the time to drive from his college to mine to celebrate Valentine's Day together. And I fully expected it to happen. The entire day I kept thinking he would show up. Spoiler alert: he didn't. And years later, with hindsight as my friend, my adult self recognizes that it was ridiculous I even expected him too. He never said he was going to and in fact probably had completely legit commitments/reasons why he couldn't. That night however, I remember feeling so let all the sudden all the fun of that day didn't matter because I was disappointed.

I went to bed that night thinking about how I couldn't just sit around and wait for someone to make my day complete, but that I needed to do that for myself. Kind of the same reason why I don't believe in being someone's "better half" because I think a successful relationship involves two wholes, but that's another blog post. ;)

Since that year in college, my Valentine's Days have been about making my own fun.  This year that meant spending a cold day in January sprawled on my bedroom floor with construction paper, stickers, glitter, markers, ribbon and a best friend as we crafted Valentine's for our friends near and far. After mailing my Valentine's in time for a February 14 arrival to places like Brazil, Colombia, Wyoming, California, Indiana, Washington, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

On Thursday I dressed in purple pants and hot pink shirt to head off to school, where I received the most delightful Valentine from one of my students, brought in muffins for my co-workers to share, and handed out Valentine's to all my students that involved Hello Kitty temporary tattoos - because why not? From there, it was off an Inversions Workshop at Core Power Yoga where I played around in headstand and handstand with some of my favorite instructors. AND where all the students did cartwheels across the classroom, all in the name of fun.

Fifteen minutes later I arrived home to the sounds of Michael Jackson music blasting. I walked upstairs to both of my roommates cooking Valentine's dinner (Ilse for me and Liz for her boyfriend) and dancing to Michael Jackson on the Wii. I dropped my bags and joined in immediately - because why not? After the dancing ceased, Ilse and I enjoyed our pesto pasta, green smoothies and tea (since February is no alcohol month) before watching our Red Box pick of the night, Flight. Weird movie, by the way...

Another successful Valentine's Day completed, I headed to bed, reflecting on the idea that in today's world of DIY (thanks, Pinterest) we are so quick to try to build ourselves something pretty out of wine corks and chalkboard paint, yet we don't extend that "do it yourself" attitude to our lives and emotions. And in some ways that reliance on others is necessary, human and just are terrifyingly risky as going it alone, but at the end of the day, if you have already created a great DIY "you" then won't everyone else's contributions just add to make it that much better?

That's my plan.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

2013 Goals: Reflections on No Shopping January

{At the beginning of 2013 I made monthly goals for the year. Here are my thoughts on January's goal.}
Image credit here.
The Mall of America kind of kills me with its never-ending commercialism and the fact that you I can never just go there for one thing. I mean, yes it's a lovely place to take people who have never been to Minnesota and it is a convenient one-stop-shop when you need a lot of things... like a winter wardrobe upon returning from a warm weather country for the last three years.

However, in general, I do not need a lot of things, so not going to the Mall of America and shopping there during the month of January wasn't actually that hard. (Expect when Victoria's Secret would not cut it out with the Semi-Annual Sale emails, but I digress.) ANYWAY - so No Shopping January in relation to clothes and shopping at stores at malls, not really a problem.

Then there's Target. The magical land of some things you need and everything else never knew you needed in your life but now you 100% need it because it's cute/on sale/you know someone who has it/it's been a rough week so you owe it to yourself/insert your own justification here. I think Target's entire marketing scheme is built upon getting you in the door for things you actually need (electronics, groceries, home goods, etc.) and then taunting you with all the adorable things they have. And well done, Target, well done, because it's totally working. That and the dollar section. Don't even get me started on the dollar section.

Upon moving into my friend Liz's new house at the end of December we both promptly spent at least $200 on our first roommate Target run. $200! Each! In one day! And yes, now we have cute red canisters to store flour, sugar, etc. and an adorable wine rack and shelves for the bathroom and more than one box of 16 individual Chai Latte Keurig cups (what? they were on sale!) and all right, fine, I did buy 3 boxes of Triscuits in one trip, but I mean REALLY - $200? Our combined $400 of Target stuff didn't even fill up her car. I feel like $400 of stuff should fill your car - right?

After that gem of an experience I entered No Shopping January, wherein I spent $92.29 AKA less than $100 IN AN ENTIRE MONTH at Target. Not only that, I only went to Target TWICE, once for groceries, which is why I still spent money there even during No Shopping month and once for Valentine's supplies. Essential because Valentine's are pretty AND sending Valentine's to friends is another 2013 goal, so you know, I had to do it. Plus, all my Valentine's supplies were bought in, you guessed it, the dollar section.  In addition to this, I only spent $17 at Kohls, my other form of suburban shopping kyptonite, on a Pyrex baking dish that we legitimately did need in order to cook things.

After all those observations, here are my key takeaways from No Shopping January.

  1. I am not a "shopper" in general so when I do need something, I usually go to the place where I need it, get the thing and get it over with. This is good because it doesn't lead to lots of impulse Mall of America trips.
  2. I am so gullible into a "good deal" it's not even funny. Buy two 24-pack rolls of toilet paper and get a $5 Target gift card? Yes please. Buy three boxes of Triscuits for $7? OF COURSE.  Some of this is good, when it comes to buying things that I would purchase regardless of the deal or not, but as with all things - only in moderation.
  3. Sale? Did I hear you it's on sale? One of the hardest moments of No Shopping January was when my friend Ilse found a (cute, naturally) workout shirt on sale at Target in an equally adorable color that I also happened to love. She bought it. I wanted to run back and get one for myself. I didn't because of No Shopping January. I would like to say I didn't because I literally have a stack of workout shirts at home, but baby steps, baby steps.
  4. The ability to grocery shop at Target is DANGEROUS because once I have the essential food I came for, I am promptly browsing the dollar section for nothing I need in life.
  5. When you think longer about your purchases and where your money is going, you end up making more informed purchases for well-made products rather than last-minute purchases for so-so products. No brainer, right? Right.
Stay tuned for my thoughts on Sober February wherein I do not get to use the 10 wine glasses I bought in December because they were in the Target dollar section.