happy monday video: pixar's "piper"

This animated short played prior to Disney's "Finding Dory." It's so beautifully made and such a sweet story about not letting fear stop you from participating in life.


when valentine's day was the most important day of the year

It went like this. Your name was called on the intercom and you proudly padded down to the front desk of your dorm to claim your delivery. On this day, Valentine's Day,  the holiest of all days for deliveries for a college girl, you hoped for the biggest bouquet of flowers. Of course, if they were sent by a boy, that was ideal. There would be squeals of delight heard coming from the lobby. If, instead, they were sent by a girl's parents, that was still good and this elicited a very sweet sigh of happiness.

I remember watching the girls walking by my room (we all kept our doors open in our girls only dorm) proudly carrying their prizes, holding the flowers or stuffed animals in front of them like an Oscar award. The hallways were full of that high pitched excited girl talk that can completely baffle boys and parents alike. We clutched hands and hugged and admired one another's deliveries and we hoped our turn would come too. There were the girls, (You know them - the shiny haired, clear skinned, ponytailed girls who looked great wearing their boyfriend's oversized college sweatshirts and their own sweatpants hiked up to her calves) who received multiple bouquets. Sure, we were happy for these girls but there was a little part of us that was jealous, especially if we were empty handed.

I didn't receive flowers junior year. I wasn't seeing anyone so I didn't expect anything but still, when my roommate was paged as well as my other close friends, I felt a twinge of sadness.  I didn't realize it at the time but I (along with every girl I knew) had put so much pressure on ourselves for this day to be magical like a romantic comedy.  On Valentine's night, I headed down to lower church so I could study in quiet, while my floormates were on dates. It was hard to watch my friends getting ready when my date was with a political science textbook. Then, the clock turned twelve and it was over, just like that.

Senior year, I was seeing someone and that year I did receive an over the top delivery of roses and a ring. However, the delivery that meant the most to me was a very small, very simple arrangement of mini-carnations in a teacup.  There at the front desk, amid the happy cries and laughter, I heard nothing. Instead I could hear my grandmother's voice in my head as I read the card. It said "Mon petite chou, Pepe and I love you. Be a good girl. Love, Meme."  (Mon petite chou = French for my little creampuff from "chou a la creme." Chou literally translates to cabbage. ). I imagined my grandmother, who was on a very limited budget, calling a local florist and saying to them "Chou, C-H-O-U. . ." No Valentine's Day gift or card has meant more to me since then.

I look back on college and the Valentine's Days and the pressure we put on ourselves and on our poor boyfriends and I wish I could go back in time to tell myself that all that really mattered is that one person loved me. I was lucky. I had a mom and grandparents who were my world, who let me leave the safety of their protective space to go out on my own. And every so often, my sweet, little French grandmother would remind me "Be a good girl, my little cabbage." I can't imagine a greater love.

Happy Valentine's Day! May you know that you are lucky and that you are loved!

The Happygirl Valentine's Day Gift Guide

The best Valentine's Day gift I ever received was from a boyfriend I had known for just a few months. We were long distance at the time (he was in his senior year at college and I had just graduated) and I was sick. After an accident, I lost my sight. In the days following, there wasn't much I could do but lay on the couch and cuddle with my dog.

A few days after the accident, a package arrived. My mom opened it for me and told me to hang on. She slipped headphones over my ears. Then I heard the music. The package was from my boyfriend. He couldn't get away from school so he made me a mix tape. In between each song, I listened to his voice explain why he chose that song. I listened and smiled. The first song was "Here Comes the Sun." He explained that while the doctors weren't sure my sight would return, he just knew I would see the sun again. Throughout those difficult days I listened to the music and his voice over and over. It got me through those scary days. I think that's when I really fell in love.  Even after I regained my sight, this mix tape was still one of my favorite things.

I still have this tape that I digitized and as for the guy? Well, I married him.

The best I-Love-You gift is from the heart and maybe that just means shutting off your phones and spending time together drinking coffee or playing a game. Focused time is the best gift. It is.

Here are some of my other favorite things that might inspire you as you celebrate the love you share with your best friend/partner/spouse/mom/roommate. Happy Valentine's Day!
I love giving and getting a glassybaby as a gift. Each votive is unique and handcrafted here in Seattle.  I've been to the glassblowing hot shop in Madrona and watching these artisans, it's clear that they impart a little soul into each piece of art. In addition to using them with tea lights, I also use them to serve little sundaes or for wine. I have given this gift to celebrate a new baby, as a memorial gift to a bereaved friend in lieu of flowers and for many birthdays and friends who I just wanted to send a bit of cheer to. This glassybaby is called goodness etched (see that sweet little heart?) but there are also over a hundred different colors to choose from. (The official Happygirl color is Ocean.)
Starting at $44.
(The package is darling, tied with a big white grosgrain bow. The tea light is included.)
Shipping is free. glassybaby.com

I recently discovered this wine, Cotes des Roses from Gerard Bertrand at my local grocer. While the wine itself tastes like a happy blend of strawberry, citrus and jasmine, the bottle itself is lovely. Turn the bottle upside down and you'll be delighted to see a rose carved into the glass. At $13.95, this wine is a happy reminder of summer days, at a good price point. Plus, once you enjoy the wine, the bottle is perfect for a few long-stemmed flowers like big, fluffy pink Peonies. gerard-bertrand.com

Sometimes it's fun to be the good girl with an edge. This water bottle from bkr is one of my favorites. The jet black silicone and glass tiny water bottle with a heart says "Yes, I know hydration is important, especially after last night." $35 bkr.com

It would be easy to spend $100 on a romantic Valentine's Day dinner, but what if, instead, you took that money and bought toys for the dogs at your local shelter? L and I did this one year and there was no dinner that could have compared to the joy we had in dropping these toys off. 
Think about how goofiily delighted they will be to play with their new toys courtesy 
of you and your big heart! 
While you're there, check out the pets available for adoption. Sometimes the love of your life is exceptionally furry. Click here for a list of your local shelters.
(You may want to call the shelter first to be sure that they accept toys or
 if they are in need of blankets or other items.)

Like the mixed tape my boyfriend made me, a personalized playlist is a touching gift that says 
"I love you. You make me feel things. I'm grateful to have you in my life." It doesn't cost a thing but it's meaningful and shows that you care enough to select songs just for him or her.
Here's a Spotify Valentine's Day playlist I made for inspiration. 
(Scroll down on the right side of the playlist to see all the songs.)