Monday, March 16, 2009

Love Don't Cost a Thing

The greatest tragedy of life is not that men perish, but that they cease to love.

--W. Somerset Maugham

Dear Fellow Recessionistas,
Recently, I was in Bikram Yoga class, attempting a near back-snapping bend in Camel pose, when the instructor came up to me and wagged her finger. "You must remember to expose your heart! That is where everything starts." Although she meant it in the literal sense, this comment started me to think about the vulnerability brought on by difficult times in life -tragedies, loss, and, of course, difficult economic times. Confronting our own challenging "poses", the situations that put us in the midst of strong emotion and stress, it may feel counter-intuitive to "expose the heart," to open up to love -romantic, familial, or platonic. However, just as in the case of my struggling yoga pose, these are the times we are most in need to do so.

One of the most important aspects of opening yourself up to the love and support of others during difficult times is to let those you love know exactly how much they mean to you. Here a one old-fashioned but Recessionista-friendly way to let your lovers, friends, and families know how much you appreciate them, especially in the support they provide during difficult times:

Write a Love (Lovely, Loving) Letter

What if I told you for 10 minutes plus 42 cents, you could make someone you care about, romantic or otherwise, understand that they are a big deal to you - sounds like something you could manage, right? Here are some useful tips in writing a love letter (not a "love email," not a "love text", and certainly not a "love IM") :

  • Be honest and true to yourself and your feelings. No one expects you to be the next William Shakespeare, and sincerity is much more touching than grandiose metaphors.

  • Be specific. Tell your friend/lover/family member (may they not be one and the same!!) what precisely you appreciate about them. For instance, follow up the general "I'm grateful for your support," with a specific example "like the time my jerk of an ex kept texting me and you threw my Blackberry in the toilet."

  • Stretch outside of your normal emotional comfort zone. The yoga pose I mentioned above is one of the most uncomfortable poses in the practice; it is also one of the best for the body. So to, stretch your emotional comfort in the composition of your letter. Be brave and use the other four letter word you normally avoid - LOVE.

  • Simplicity is not a bad thing. An unexpected one-line love note, "You really do make me very happy" can really mean so much more than weekly "Ode to thee, ye of heavenly beauty..."

  • Do not, I repeat DO NOT, create a template and plug/chug names in. In the case of friends and family, this is slothful. In the case of lovers, this is creepy and pathological. Mass texts on New Year's Eve are bad enough, but if you are sending out the same "Hello there, Good-looking," love letter, well, ick.

  • Discover your signature sign-off. "Sincerely" is appropriate when you write the IRS to reconsider auditing you, but not when you are signing off a note of love and appreciation.

If you tend to be a Type A Recessionista (join the club!) and are interested in structural help for your letters, the web offers a number of resources. If you tend to lack inspiration or suffer from writers block, check out examples by English poet John Keats, author Victor Hugo, and even Winston Churchill.

Reminding the people in your life how much they matter to you gives them an opportunity to do the same, allowing for the type of support we all need right now. When times are tight, love is the most important element to help us through. Sign your letter, lick the stamp, and congratulate yourself on coming closer to exposing your heart!

With all of our love,

Recessionista Roadmap

Recessionista Tip of the Day: Coupons are not just for Soccer moms! To access a seemingly infinite supply of coupons for various stores, activities and more, check out Coupon Cabin. There you can take advantage of wide selection of savings in popular stores (Target,the Gap, etc.) but also compare prices, and even follow deals about to expire. Thanks to Recessionista Angie for this outstanding find!

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