Valentine's Day, a day retailers rush to fill their shelves with chocolates, flowers, jewelry and other luxury items. Thus, emerging from the post holiday sales slump. For us, the consumers, we are making our new "wish list;" pulling out our credit cards again after a losing battle to our New Year's savings resolutions. Here's to a new year of spend, spend, spend.
I was no exception. For years, holidays became a time where I could give my loved ones MY wish list. It was time to get my new spring bag, the pair of Manolos I had been eyeing ever since I received my Saks new delivery email, or the trip to none other than the romantic city of Paris. According to the National Retail Federation who surveyed 6,417 consumers in January of 2014, the estimated spending for Valentine's Day this year will reach $17.3 BILLION. That is a staggering amount of money to show love. What is interesting to me is, once my presents are unwrapped, the plane touches ground in U.S. soil, I loose sight of the meaning of Valentine's Day and begin looking forward to...Mother's Day? I'm not even a Mom, I have a dog and a cat, but hey, that counts, right? This year, I paused long enough to contemplate what really leads to a fulfilling life. After reading a number of self-help books and listening to "happiness" podcasts, the consistent source of happiness is, wait for it... giving.
So after kissing my wish list goodbye, I've decided to give the idea of giving a try. I challenge all of you to join me in the Valentine's Project. The idea is simple. On Valentine's Day, instead of receiving, spend the day giving. Find a cause you care about and take the day to volunteer, pay it forward to a stranger, or spend the day with a friend or family member who needs your company. Whatever it may be, spend this Valentine's Day giving your time and service. There is no price tag that can be attached to the act of kindness. The impression it makes actually lasts longer than diamonds, and they say, diamonds are forever.
On Feb. 15th, send me a short email to info@serenamartindesign (subject: Valentine's Project) with what you did for Valentine's Day. On Feb. 16th, for those of you who emailed me, I will enter your name in a raffle drawing. The winner of the drawing will receive a free print from my Valentine's Project series. I will post a new watercolor each day on Facebook and Instagram, leading up to Valentine's Day. You can choose your favorite from among the seven. Your act of kindness to others will be your gift to me, and my painting to you to say thank you, that will be my gift to you.