by Emma Merkas
It may be Valentine’s Day, but red roses and restaurant reservations are NOT mandatory. And romance needn’t be expensive.
Thoughtfulness beats all when it comes to romance. Doing something you know your sweetheart will adore is a thousand times better than racking up the credit card bill for overpriced flowers on one day when everyone else is buying them too.
As Paul Oyer puts it so beautifully in his article How to Be a Better Valentine, Through Economics
“Start by asking yourself, “What do I want my partner to think upon receiving my Valentine’s present?”
Suppose you buy your significant other a dozen red roses or a box of chocolates. She is likely to think, “All right, he cares about me enough to buy the obvious present.” Sixty-four percent of men buy flowers on Valentine’s Day, so giving flowers signals that you are like two-thirds of men. This is roughly the equivalent of writing “hb” on your mate’s Facebook wall on her birthday: it shows that you remember, and that you are willing to spend approximately seven seconds conveying that fact.
So how do you say “Honey, I really care about you, and you are very special to me”? Put your resources where your mouth is. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but to credibly signal you really care, do something personal.”
Stay home, stay away from the crowds, spend some time together alone.
But whatever you do – acknowledge the day. It’s important you show your partner that you are thinking of them and that you appreciate them.
And then do it again every other day of the year as well.
Here is my Complete Guide to help give you some inspiration!
Chapter 1: Thoughtful, Non-Commercialized Gifts
Chapter 2: Date Ideas That Don’t Involve Restaurants
Chapter 3: Romantic Recipes
Chapter 4: Thrill Him
Chapter 5: Captivate Her
Chapter 1: Thoughtful, Non-Commercialized Valentine Gifts
Paying three times the price for red roses one day out of the year rubs me up the wrong way (that’s a little massage pun for you).
Some of these DIY options show you care, just because you put in a little bit of extra effort.
Free Punny Massage Printables (IOU a Massage)| Momentum: Couples Massage Workshops
Handmade Valentine’s Day Cards| Better Homes & Gardens
Classic Valentine Printables | Nest of Posies
How to Write a Love Letter | Art of Manliness
14 Romantic Gifts From Significant Others Who Really Pay Attention | Huffington Post
How to Make Any Gift Voucher a Romantic Present | Momentum: Blog
Chapter 2: Date Ideas that Don’t Involve Restaurants
Like New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day is what we can commonly to refer to as “amateur night” – there’s something slightly uncomfortable and forced about sitting in a sea of tables-for-two on a set menu on Valentine’s night. Stay away from the crowds and do something at home or something completely different.
Give the Gift of Massage | Momentum: Couples Massage Workshops
50 Most Romantic Movies to Watch as a Couple | To Love, Honor & Vacuum
21 Date Ideas We Think You’ll Love | Marriage 365
Random Date Ideas Generator | $30 Date Night
What We Were Up to On Valentine’s Day | A Blog About Love
12 Secrets to the Perfect Picnic | Design Mom
Chapter 3: Romantic Recipes
Whether it’s a breakfast in bed or a three-course dinner at home, you’d be remiss to not make something utterly romantic and special for Valentine’s Day. We’ve rounded up some amazing recipes. If it’s dinner, make the effort to light some candles and dress up for the occasion. If you’re baking treats, package them in a beautiful tin and gift wrap them. Breakfast in bed? Serve alongside piping hot coffee, fresh OJ and pop a single flower on the tray too.
Restaurant-inspired Crab Salad Recipe | I Am A Food Blog
Heart Shaped Pizza Recipe | I Am A Food Blog
Beetroot Gnocchi with Lemon Pesto Recipe | What’s Cooking Good Looking
Veggie Valentine’s Day Recipe Round Up | Love and Lemons
Chocolate Heart Cake with Raspberry Buttercream | The Vanilla Bean Blog
Lemon Meringue French Toast | I Am A Food Blog
Raw Vegan Hazelnut Truffles Rolled in Goji Berries | What’s Cooking Good Looking
Rose Petal Dark Chocolate Bar | Pure Ella
(Edible) Valentine Confetti | Nest of Posies
The Laziest Valentine Cake Ever | 5 Second Rule
Baked Almond Pancake with Strawberries and Citrus | The Year in Food
Blueberry Pomegranate Chia Breakfast Parfait | Pure Ella
Valentine’s Egg in a Basket | Reclaiming Provincial
Chapter 4: Thrill Him
Men. I find them really hard to buy for, especially if we try and overlay our own version of romance onto what we think they want.
Here’s a secret: If a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, then a bouquet of bacon “roses” or a Man Sandwich will surely make him fall even more in love with you. I can practically guarantee it!
Man Food: Afternoon Beer | I Am A Food Blog
A Steak Dinner at Home | Dinner, A Love Story
The Marlboro Man Sandwich | The Pioneer Woman
20 Gifts Guys Secretly Want for Valentine’s Day | Business Insider
A Bacon Bouquet | Our Best Bites
Chapter 5: Captivate Her
Women love romance. This doesn’t always mean over-the-top gestures. There are some things that will always go down very well – Lingerie, flowers (she’ll be more flattered if you pick her favorite flower rather than just standard roses… what did she have in her bridal bouquet? What was the first bouquet you ever bought her?), perfume, shoes… or just a deep, loving kiss (especially if her Love Language is Physical Touch)
What Women Want: Top Ten Romantic Gestures | The Telegraph
A Guide to Buying Lingerie for Your Girl | Complex
The Meanings of Flowers | The Language of Flowers
9 Facts About Kissing | Huffington Post
You see, it is a part of all our lives…It affects our relationships. When it is good, it’s good…when it is bad, well…you know.
Soft tissue dysfunction and pain have an impact on every facet of our lives, including sex. When you look at the body globally, you really start to see how one thing contributes to another…little do my clients know, I am good for their sex life…
Let me explain…
Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST) manipulates how your body is capable of stretching. Instead of stretching isolated muscles, one by one, these movements stretch the fascia in a more globalized way -- targeting multiple fascia lines at a time. It does not force your body to do what it doesn't want to; but, it is essentially like a clinically controlled romancing of the body, if you can picture that. The differentiating factor with FST that separates it from traditional stretching is the use of traction, think of it this way: butter on toast. If your joints are toast and you want to apply butter, you would rather have room temperature butter than cold, refrigerated butter to spread on your bread, right? The butter is to toast, as synovial fluid is to your joints. Fascia Stretch Therapy makes the "butter" warm. When I apply traction, oscillation and circumduction, thus stretching multiple fascial lines at the same time, magic happens.
And what about the sex part….
Well, our genitalia experiences pleasure because of the interaction with our nerve endings. First, FST helps to decompress your pelvis and open your hips to help expand not only range of motion, but the sensing of pleasure as well. FST helps deliver expansion to your sacrum, (specifically the root chakra) which is connected to everything from your lower back, hips, pelvis -- specifically the uterus, femoral head and its ligaments.
FST can over time reset your ability to experience deeper pleasure.
In a nutshell…
Mobility and Flexibility
When our bodies are able to increase mobility and flexibility we experience less pain and restriction, plus increase endorphin flow, all of which aid in the ease of movement between intimate positions with your partner. Some of the best sex involves a fluidity of movement between scenes when you and your partner can lose yourselves in the experience, rather than focus on the mechanics.
Trains the brain to create safety
The safety that we can feel when intimately bonded with our partners with whom we have a positive and safe relationship translates to a greater potential for experiencing pleasure. Alternatively, throughout our lives, our bodies also experience physical pain and emotional trauma (often overlooked as a contributing factor to physical restrictions). Have you ever noticed that every time you think about speaking in public (for example) your knee starts to hurt, or when you think of the stress that comes with the holidays, your lower back starts to ache? That's emotional trauma. Healing emotional trauma in our bodies can happen through FST as it works to re-wire the brain and create safety in the movements that we tend to forget our bodies are holding onto.
Increases blood flow
Why is blood flow important for great sex? Well, for starters, having good blood flow in your genital regions increases arousal and your response to sexual stimulation. It makes your bits more sensitive, and in the case of vaginas, increases the size of the clitoris and pushes your lips up to expose them to the anticipated sensations, all while aiding in the increase of lubrication. In the case of penises, well, we all know that good blood flow leads to erections. Enough said….
Releases fascial adhesions
Fascial adhesions are bonds formed between the collagen fibers that limit the elasticity/flexibility of the fascia to do its job, which is the connective tissue that holds our body together. Therefore, if you have many adhesions, you could be impacted and not even know it! Back pain, misdiagnosed Fibromyalgia and even arthritis can sometimes be actually the effect of fascial adhesions. So, when our range of motion is limited via these adhesions, our sex lives may also be hampered. Release through FST can allow room for expansion of tissue and free up nerve endings to experience pleasurable sensation, rather than pain.
Improves holistic wellness
Fascia, being one of the most prevalent tissues in our bodies, is really connected to everything. When we treat our fascia, we teach our nervous system to calm the f**k down and get back on board with feeling healthy. FST contributes to a greater quality of life and less stress mentally (physically and emotionally), which I can say leads to a happier and healthier sex life. Who doesn't enjoy ease of excitement when it comes to sex?! We do! Learning to incorporate holistic approaches to your health can and will be an improvement to the essence of your conscious living.
So the next time you have a question about your body, ask…I promise I won’t be offended, embarrassed or irritated…we are all adults here. I started this journey with the intent to help individuals move better, feel better and perform better (even in the bedroom). Now, go…
Be passionate, take action….
Costa, Carlen. "Fascial Stretch Therapy Is Awesome For Your Sex Life." Huffington Post. N.p., 27 Oct. 2015. Web.
Have you ever found yourself in love with your car?
I have a confession, I really do love my car. It isn’t the “newest” model, it has a few dings and scrapes from mailboxes that jump out and attack me while I back out. There are times it smells like a dog on the inside. But I really love my car.
I take her to only the best mechanic EVER. Why would I trust her to anyone else?!?!! She gets regular oil changes and tune ups, I expect a lot from my car…we go everywhere together. One of things I love about my mechanic is that when I take her in for an oil change I get this list. It is kind of a to-do or be prepared list.
He outlines everything he sees that I will need within the next year, he lists them in the order of priority and gives me a “guesstimate” so I can prepare my budget. This year I need to give her a new serpentine belt (have NO idea what that is or what it does but she needs it to keep me safe and running all over the state). Next month, she gets her serpentine belt.
We make decisions every day, place money into what we feel important. For me, I make sure my car gets the regular maintenance she needs. If I didn’t, I know she would not have made it to the 234,000 mile mark..and without any major repairs. Can you imagine what it would cost if I would have waited to replace the “fins” on my air conditioning unit?? Again, I have NO idea what fins are or what they do but I know I love my air conditioning.
For you it may be a car or even your home, maybe it is your pet or children. But what ever it is, we make choices everyday to put our time, effort, and hard earned money into maintaining it. We all know that regular maintenance will keep a furnace running more efficiently and prolong its life. Everything seems to do better when we take the time and commitment to maintenance.
I see clients, typically, when they are in extreme pain or they aren’t able to do the simple things they once took for granted. We take the time and energy to work on their pain and dysfunction. They are diligent with their “homework” and keeping their appointments. Then, when they are feeling better…poof…gone. I won’t see them until they are hurting again or they aren’t hitting that golf ball quite as far as last month. Why don’t we do for ourselves what we do for our car or home??
I’m imperfect, I make all these plans for my car, I budget for her, I pick only the best mechanic to work on her but I fail to do that for the body that carries and propels me through life. Why do we do that? Do we feel that we are not worthy of feeling better and moving better? We have the time and money when we are in pain, why can’t we do “preventative” maintenance on ourselves??
My plan is to live and move and experience life to its fullest until I die. Statistically, women live an average of 81 years, men 76 years. That is a long time!! For me, that is almost an additional 37 years! I think I need to be better about the “regular maintenance” of my body than I have been.
This is my promise and pledge to you, my clients…I will practice what I preach…I will schedule my regular maintenance to keep me fully functioning to help you and enjoy my life without pain and dysfunction…I will budget for my needs…I will recognize how simply lucky I am to have a body that can mend, heal, grow stronger, and propel me…I will not take for granted what I have been given. No matter how many “dings” this body may take on, it is still a work of art and deserves to be treated as if it was priceless (because it is!!)
Take what you want from my mindful wanderings….because, ultimately….no matter what you choose, I will be here, helping you through your pain and helping you reach your goals….I will continue to be your “body mechanic”…but the choice is yours…be reactive or proactive…
Be passionate…take action…..
Burnout. I had to really examine the word when I was at the doctor a couple weeks ago. I had all these symptoms, scary symptoms, that I could not seem to shake with my diet choices, supplements, and attempts to sleep. I had no energy or desire to hang out with my friends, I was neglecting my health and I had become disillusioned with my work. There wasn’t one single catalyst—it wasn’t that I stopped liking the kind of work I did, generally speaking, I had lost balance. I lost focus on the bigger picture. I had become what I preach to my clients NOT to become, I had become a workaholic and now “officially” diagnosed with “burnout”.
It is a classic case of burnout: multiple, chronic stressors over an extended period of time left me totally drained and no longer performing at my best. In a few short years, I went from bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to seriously burnt out and suffering from digestive and heart issues. Burnout costs U.S. industry $300 billion annually, as measured by absenteeism, decreased productivity, employee turnover, and direct medical, legal, and insurance fees. The American Institute of Stress reports that nearly half of all American workers suffer from symptoms of burnout. One of those Americans is me, is it you too?
Overcoming burnout doesn’t happen overnight, instead it is a calculated effort. It is a commitment to yourself, your family, your professional life…that commitment comes with taking time for yourself and setting boundaries.
Take Relaxation Seriously
Whether you take up meditation, listening to music, reading a book, getting a massage, taking a walk or visiting with friends and family, truly think about what you’ll do to relax, and designate time for it.
Cultivate a Rich Non-Work Life
Find something outside of work that you are passionate about that’s challenging, engaging and really gets you going—whether a hobby, sports or fitness activities or volunteering in the community (along with other items we mention here, like relaxation, being able to “turn off” and participating in rewarding non-work activities).
While communication technology can promote productivity, it can also allow work stressors seep into family time, vacation and social activities. Set boundaries by turning off cell phones at dinner and delegating certain times to check email.
Get Enough Sleep
Research suggests that having fewer than six hours of sleep per night is a major risk factor for burnout, not least because poor sleep can have negative effects on your job performance and productivity. It can lead to fatigue, decrease your motivation, make you more sensitive to stressful events, impair your mental function, leave you more susceptible to errors and make it harder to juggle competing demands. The reverse is true, too: We’ve seen that sleep can actually improve your memory.
Recovering from chronic stress and burnout requires removing or reducing the demands on you and replenishing your resources. Sleep is one strategy for replenishing those resources. Contemplate massage and red light therapy to help with sleep, they have helped me.
Often, when people are burnt out, they spend a lot of time worrying that they’ll forget to do something or that something important is going to slip through the cracks. That is (was) me. Get organized, clear your head, put together a to-do list (or an electronic task list) then prioritize. That way, you don’t have to keep thinking about those things because you’ll have systems in place to remind you.
It’s important to tune into the precursors of those conditions, physical signs that you might be under too much stress: more headaches, tight shoulders, a stiff neck or more frequent stomach upset. In terms of mental health, burnout affects depression, and if you’re depressed, that can also affect your level of burnout—it goes both ways. So, if the issues you’re struggling with are really serious and getting worse, you may need to seek professional help. It took by doctor to point out my burnout, some may need the help of a psychologist or therapist to talk out some problems.
Know When It’s You, and When It’s Them
Burnout is sometimes motivated by internal factors. You’ll need to ask yourself, “Where is this coming from?” so you can figure out what’s stressing you out, and how to maintain your internal resources to keep yourself motivated, doing your best work and functioning well.
Some burnout really is the fault of work. With companies trying to get more out of their employees, fear of cutbacks and layoffs, freezing wages, more and more pressure to perform is being put on employees.
Figure Out When Enough Is Enough
Consider talking to your manager or HR. angle the conversation about how those cultural shifts will enable you to continue to serve the company and become an even better employee.
I do think there are times when, no matter what you try to do, the organization is unable or unwilling to make those changes, and in those cases, it is just time to move on. It isn’t worth your relationships, your health. As a business owner, as many of you are, you may need to learn to delegate responsibility. Step away from the need to micromanage your employees. Maybe, step away from the business you have built with a sabbatical or sale.
As for me, every day I make my list, learn to say ‘no’, turning off my phone and computer, getting a massage, and setting aside time for me to just do what I want to do. It is a hard process. But my health, my relationships and the clinic mean enough to me, I need to create those boundaries. You are in control of your environment, make the changes to create more time for you and those who are important to you.
To be without stress is to be without life.” I either heard this first during middle school biology, or an undergrad athletic training class. I’m sure we would all like to be stress free at work, at home, and at play…but let’s face it, life happens and stress is life. The good news is that there exists eustress, or good stress, which occurs naturally over the course of our lives, even back to first learning how to walk. Eustress is a place of learning and discovery that makes us stronger all the while leaving us with a surplus of resources to continue this process. Distress is the yin to the yang of eustress. Distress is a place of survival that uses up resources and leaves us stripped down and vulnerable. Survival is not a fun place to be and our bodies can only take a certain amount until we start breaking down. Each person seems to have there own way of expressing this state of being, but it can always be tied back to stress, be it physical, mental, or emotional.
Now, everything is a spectrum and there are no absolutes. I’ve already discussed eustress at one end and distress at the other. Stress can be good and it is truly necessary to stress our system in order to make gains, but where is the threshold? How often do we push our bodies beyond the point where we are no longer pushing ourselves, but instead literally trying to survive our workouts, our schedules, and our lives. Let me create a mental picture for you to help make a point. There are three (equally attractive) people running down the road all at the same pace. One is breathing through their nose with a relaxed face, the second is breathing through their mouth with no apparent distress, and the third is breathing loudly through their mouth. In this moment, where do these people fall on this spectrum and which would you rather be?
I know that there are those among us that use exercise to relieve stress. Awesome! Keep it up! But also ask yourself what type of stress you are adding to your life? How often do you do something restorative to balance things out and press a resent button? Do you ever go to a place of eustress during the day, or even at night? How restful is your sleep?
All of my writing about stress was really to bring me to this point…your mood and stress level affects behavior, movement is a behavior and breathing is movement. If we are stressed physically, mentally, or emotionally, it will change how we breathe. It is not uncommon that people go from a stressed breathing strategy during the day right into a workout where they are essentially hyperventilating the whole time. This cycle can be all to real and may very well even manifest itself at night affecting your sleep. Breathing is the only function of our autonomic nervous system over which we have volitional control, and thus can be a useful indicator of where we are on our spectrum and a tool to make improvements. Take a minute and check in with yourself…
-Can you breath in and out silently through your nose? Are you still silent if you plug your ears?
-Can you breath like this for one minute with a 3 second inhale and a 6 second exhale? Can you do it without pausing or breath holding?
If you cannot breath in silently through your nose at a controlled rate, I can guarantee your life, your exercise, and your sleep are not as efficient and restorative as they could be. More good news, there are things you can do to make improvements. You can start by taking time to practice silent breathing one minute at a time throughout the day with your lips together, teeth apart, and tongue on the roof of your mouth. So here’s to a good life. Get out and ‘eu-‘ something! ~Dr. Dan DPT, ATC, OCS
Imagine the smell of freshly baked cookies coming out of the oven. Close your eyes and allow your mind to accept the sweet aroma that fills your nose. Picture the plate or baking sheet in front of you. What happened? Mouth started watering,? I got a slight smile on your face? I was picturing my mom’s smile as I eagerly reached for a cookie. For just a moment, I was there in my mother’s kitchen.
The mind is powerful. Memories get jogged from the slightest smell, taste, touch, or sound. I remember when I was 14 years old, I had a boyfriend break up with me. My stomach was in knots, I felt like I was going to be sick. I couldn’t stop crying. It was traumatic for me at the time. Today, I look back and giggle a little because I got myself so worked up, but that is coming from the mind of an adult. During that time, I thought my world was going to end. I can remember where I was standing, the feeling of the sun on my skin, the taste of the cinnamon in my mouth. It took 20 years before I could chew cinnamon gum. You see, when I did my stomach would get in knots and I would start to feel sick. It wasn’t the gum, it was the memories.
Our bodies store memories; they are stored in our minds and in our body. Our minds powerful. Have you ever been so depressed or stressed that your body just ached? It isn’t outside influences causing that pain, it is your mind. At the clinic, when we deal with chronic pain and repetitive injuries we ask a lot of questions. There is a purpose, of course we love to get to know you, but we also realize that your pain may be triggered by a memory you don’t realize.
I had a client, she had chronic left shoulder and back pain plaguing her for years. She couldn’t figure out what would cause it to flare up or what made it better, it just seemed to come and go. When it did flare up it effected her sleep and how she functioned at work. Together we traced back the pain, like detectives we revisited the most recent flare ups. What we discovered was her pain had a trigger that she never realized.
Years before her body healed from a domestic abuse incident, she received therapy and moved on with her life. She was now successful and in a good, loving relationship. But her abuser would periodically call or text her. Within days of his contact her body would start to hurt and ache, her sleeping patterns changed. With his contact he didn’t physically touch her but her body took her back to the abuse.
It doesn’t have to be something as traumatic as a domestic abuse situation, the point is sometimes pain and dysfunction have triggers. Sometimes those trigger are influences inside your body. The results we have with reducing or eliminating pain speaks volumes, it isn’t by accident or chance. Our philosophy is rooted in solid science.
I want to challenge you. If you can’t seem to get a grasp on your pain, if you’ve heard the only option left is surgery, if you want to start enjoying life instead of working around the pain…call us. We may have exactly what you need to finally be on your way to a better life.
Everyone have a great night, I’m off to actually listen to my professor teach…no lectures from you guys. This topic was pressed on my heart, I needed to share my philosophy of pain. You needed to know why I am not an advocate of the “hurts so good” thinking. The goal of my table will always be to minimize pain. I’m positive one of you reading these words had a light bulb went on. If you are that person, call or email me…I’m here to help, the clinicians in the clinic are all working together for you!
For anyone that’s seen me as a clinician, a common word used for my treatment style is different and “unorthodox.”
It becomes apparent when you first walk into the clinic.
Shoes are not welcomed.
I’ve contemplated making shoes forbidden when you walk in the clinic, there’s a lot to be said for being barefoot….I’m always barefoot
Through the last few years of observation, I’ve noticed that people barely look at their feet, let alone touch them and get them moving.
This is problematic.
You see, you evolved to be bipedal. You rely on your feet to sense where you are in relation to the ultimate force of gravity.
Your feet are your stability point. You are rooted to the ground by your feet. All position sensing of your body relies on your feet.
When I was a kid, my mother would constantly be telling me to put my shoes back on. My feet were always dirty and feeling the ground, as I was exploring the world and establishing motor patterns.
Living in Arizona I was constantly told for my protection I needed shoes, I wrestled with what was expected of me and the constriction of my Justin Ropers.
But I returned to my childhood.
Feel free to ask to see my feet in motion. They are more mobile and stable than they’ve been in my life. They are also dirty on most occasions! I’m feeling the world with my feet.
If you visit me, I’ll encourage you to do the same. You may find the world is smooth and bumpy, hard and soft, cold and warm. You’ll see how adaptable you are to such changes.
As you feel yourself get rooted to the ground, you might feel your body naturally be upright, just as you earned the first time you stood up.
You might awaken the inner child that wants to play, explore, and experience the ground under your feet.
You might feel your abdominals, lats and glutes come alive.
I don’t trust clean feet to help you gain stability. It might take getting a little dirty, doing work to earn the stability you crave.
It can start by taking off your shoes and experience the world, and your stability, through your feet
Be passionate…take action…
Gift vouchers. Impersonal, lazy ways to give presents, right? Especially when it comes to your partner, spouse, lover or significant other.
Everyone knows the best presents are thoughtful ones. And guess what? There’s no reason why vouchers can’t be thoughtful! In fact, I would argue that they’re often even more thoughtful than, say, a new sweater in a questionable color or the latest iPad.
The people that hate on gift vouchers have a bunch of arguments. Have you ever heard these?
“It’s like money, but less useful.”
“You’re basically saying you’ve given up on finding an actual present.”
“What kind of present requires work on behalf of the recipient?”
As far as I can tell, the biggest barrier to couples bestowing gift vouchers on each other is that it’s widely considered an impersonal present to give your spouse or lover come Christmas, Valentine’s Day or Birthdays.
I mean sure, I agree that simply slapping $50 onto a department store card without really thinking it through is positively slothful.
But – done right – gift vouchers can make for some of the most touching and beautiful presents you’ll ever give, or receive.
That comes with a few caveats though. Just hear me out.
There’s the right way and the wrong way to give a gift voucher. Here’s how to make gift vouchers into a romantic gift – my definitive guide. (Make sure you read the last point, it’s the one crucial step that brings everything together):
1. Thoughtfulness is Everything*A voucher for the hardware store, however practical, is not going to get anyone’s pulse racing.
If you’re going down the gift voucher route, you need to make it über-tailored.
Start by thinking very hard about what’s going on in your partner’s life right now.
Have they just taken up yoga? Get them a voucher to a high-end exercise gear store.
Are they known for saving all their pennies to spend on the kids and house? Get them a voucher to a clothing store you know they love (check the labels in their closet!) so they have to spoil themselves.
Are they doing up a vintage car? How about a voucher for some antique car parts?
2. Gift an Experience*It’s a consumer world; we already buy most material possessions we want for ourselves and there’s a new trend away from material possessions with the introduction of the minimalist thinkers around the internet.
By far, one of the most significant gifts you can give in this day and age is an experience you know your partner will love. Something that impacts them in a different way.
Again, gifting experiences requires the same careful thinking I just spoke about – a voucher for a bungee jump won’t go down well with someone who has an intense fear of heights, for example (just ask my husband who turned a lovely shade of beetroot-rage and deathly pale at all once when he was given him a skydiving voucher for his 30th).
Is your partner really into gourmet cooking? How about a cooking class for a cuisine they haven’t mastered yet?
Are they stressed and tired lately from work? What about a pampering session at a day spa (trust me, men love this as much as women do, they just generally don’t know it yet)?
Do they spend a lot of time at the driving range? How about an hour with a pro perfecting their swing?
3. Gift an Experience You Can Do Together*Here’s where the romance factor starts to skyrocket.
There is simply no substitute for spending time with your sweetie, and we already know that science has proven doing new things together as a couple is ridiculously good for your relationship. It floods your system with happy hormones that keep you bonded and happy.
For that reason, gifting a gorgeous experience that the two of you can look forward to doing together is – in my opinion – king of all gift voucher giving and really ups the romance ante on your gift giving.
Perhaps a weekend away, language classes, or a hot air balloon ride. We obviously love our very own couple massage workshop where you can get your hands all over each other in your own home night after night – it really is the gift that keeps on giving.
Whatever you choose, know that you’re doing something wonderful for your relationship. It may even seem like too much fun to be a good thing, but trust me… you can never make too many joyful memories as a couple.
*The Clincher: Wrap Something Up for a Really Romantic GiftThis is the important part and it applies to all the points above. In order to make a gift voucher the perfect romantic gift, you need to gift them along with something to unwrap. Otherwise it really is just a piece of paper or a plastic card that will sometime in the future take on its proper meaning.
A simple solution is to give something tangible along with the voucher as a little appetiser for the upcoming experience they are going to enjoy. It’s a delicious way to build anticipation and makes the gift voucher much more real immediately.
Let’s go back over some of the examples I’ve already used:
A Moroccan Cooking Class would go perfectly with some gourmet spices and a tagine pot.
A golf lesson will pair beautifully with a new leather monogrammed glove.
Give them a head start on their exercise gear voucher with a new gym bag.
When people gift our Massage for Couples vouchers to their spouse or to another couple, we encourage them to purchase a few massage essentials to package with the gift – a scented candle, a bottle of massage oil, a blindfold and a soft hand towel is everything you need (and more) to start massaging right away. You then have the added benefit of being able to start that very night.
Our Gift Voucher with scented votive candle, massage oil and plush hand towel. The perfect gift.
So there you have it – the next time you’re looking for an incredibly personal and romantic gift, look no further than a gift voucher.
And in the name of shameless plugs, if you’re looking for something for your sweetie, I really do recommend you check out our Massage for Couples videos. They’re specifically designed to be a perfect gift for any couple… and couples really do love getting their hands all over each other in a whole new way.
Feel free to comment below with the gift vouchers you have in mind for upcoming celebrations, or some details about the recipient if you can’t decide what to get them.
It has been a month since my trip to Colorado, I climbed and conquered a peak that literally took my breath away.
I’ve sat here wanting to share the lessons I learned on the side of a peak within the Rocky Mountain range, I wanted to convey the strength that overcame me as I made my way over the ridge. I wanted you to know that your limits are only limited by what is in your heart and mind. But I couldn’t.
I couldn’t muster within me to sit and write about how that mountain changed my life. How reaching my limits and determining I will accomplish this climb, and doing it gave me the confidence I needed to know I can make things happen in my life. But I couldn’t make myself write. I hate not being able to write…
…I can write now. But it isn’t to tell you to reach within and discover your potential. It isn’t to talk about the peak and self doubt I conquered. It is to admonish you to take time for family and those you love.
…last night I found out I lost my grandfather. I truly shouldn’t be surprised. He was 84, since my grandmother’s passing seven years ago, he hasn’t been the same. The trips out to the lake house became fewer, the childish escapades on the jet skis disappeared, the spring in his step was not as spry.
…It doesn’t change how much I miss him. It doesn’t change how I regret that I didn’t get out to see him this summer in AZ. It doesn’t change how much I miss him now that I don’t have him anymore.
…my grandfather was more than just my grandfather, he was my inspiration. He was the one who pushed me to open the clinic. He was my family’s first entrepreneur
He never worked for anyone. Owning rental properties and a string of pizza restaurants and bowling alley’s, earned him the right to own lake property in the same neighborhood as owner of Haribo and Johnson and Johnson. He worked his butt off to make his life better for me and my brother. He taught me the merit of hard work and perseverance.
I could write for hours about the life and lessons my grandpa taught me, but I fear they truly only mean something to me. What I want to share with you is, it wasn’t the mountain that taught me that there is great potential and strength inside myself, it was my grandpa Wright. It wasn’t the mountain that motivated me to do great things…it was my grandpa. The peak reminded me of the greatness and potential HE saw in me.
I couldn’t write about about the power of the peak because the peak was just a symbol of the impact my grandpa had on my life.
I want to admonish and press upon you to take time. Take time for those you love and love you. We never really know when they will leave this world and leave a void in our hearts. Life is meant to be lived and we are meant to leave an impact on those around us. Take a lesson from my life….
There is always time to earn an education, there is always time to make more money, but there isn’t enough time to make memories and share the moments in our life with those we love.
I was blessed to know, be loved, and mentored by the silliest man I know. He taught me to find beauty in the little things, laugh as often as possible, and smile, smile even when you don’t feel like you can smile…because that smile will brighten the life of another person.
My life is richer because of my grandpa…this world is a little less comforting because he is not gone….
As always….Be passionate…Take action….