Teaching Yourself Programming – Behind the Scenes

Last year I’ve decided to learn how to program in order to change my career path, and by this I don’t mean going to school to get a degree, but learning by myself, at home. With only basic programming knowledge, which I’ve learned in high school (close to zero, now that I look back), I’ve started the long and difficult road towards success.

Because the beginning of anything is very difficult, and you might get mixed feelings about your decision, not knowing what to do and who to turn to, I want to share a few thoughts on this, with examples from my own journey, hoping that I will provide guidance to those of you who find themselves in the same situation.

truestoryAnd I will start with a friendly advice / warning: If you don’t have the passion for this, DON’T DO IT! If you plan to get yourself into programming only for the material benefits, you’re going to have a hard time. After learning intensively for a while now, I can tell you it’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle, and it takes a lot of dedication, study and self-discipline. It might look easy at a first glance, but in order to become really good at what you do (where the real money come from), you need more than this. You need passion! And if you think the beginning is hard, wait until you pass the beginner’s level. This is only the start, and it will only get worse, before it will get better. If you don’t have the drive to learn, you will simply quit, as you can’t make any more progress. There are enough programmers out there who don’t really understand the concepts, and spend their whole careers copy-pasting code from different resources, bringing entire companies to the ground, when things start picking up, and the websites they built can’t support the traffic anymore. Don’t become one of them!

Beginner – Set. Goal. Wings to fly!

Like any one of you who decide to start walking down this path, I went online looking for sources and advice.With a positive attitude, and a goal in mind, I went through the information provided by a few websites like Codeacademy, W3schools, and a few more, starting with the basics HTML and CSS notions, combining them with a bit of Javascript, and later on, some basic PHP and MYSQL, as my dream was to become a web developer. And it worked beautifully. The knowledge clicked, and I felt like I can get down to business: ‘Wow, now I can build a website!’ And by website, I don’t mean the easy practice ones I did while learning, with: ‘Hello World’, ‘Here’s a picture’, ‘Thank you for visiting’, ‘Goodbye’. I mean a website with a complex menu, a sign-up form, login, database (you can probably see where this is going). Positive attitude? Maybe, or maybe lack of experience and knowledge. Obviously, if you try to run before you walk, you won’t make it! But sure, me being me, I thought I can do it, I have what it takes. Well, sorry to disappoint but, after learning this the hard way, I can tell you for sure, that it just doesn’t work like this. Oops … 🙂

while codingStill, not being aware of those, I wrote the pretty HTML and CSS code and after threatening my PC a few times with flying lessons, it all looked gorgeous, but … yeah, things were missing, others were working without me actually understanding why, and others were working but not doing what I wanted them to do, but what I told them to do (Yes, computers have this annoying habit to do what you tell them to, and not what you actually have in mind 🙂 ). Those links and tabs did nothing! Hmm …No magical leprechaun took on the responsibility to make them work after I wrote the code. Darn! Someone is going to get fired… Someone, anyone?

After realizing I’m the only man on the ship and I can’t fire myself, I went back to the drawing board. How do you code the sign up and log in? And, how does the website know who you are in order to show your profile page? And … how do you show a profile page, when it pops in the menu bar only when the user is logged in? How do I hash the password? How do I connect files? Where do I insert a chunk of code in another programming language? And how do I …? And where … ? Oh wait … Oh no … Oh my … And that’s how getting lost in the programming world starts…

Medium Level Knowledge – What … ? Where from … ? Panic!

The more you look for answers, the more you realize how much you DON’T KNOW, and you start to doubt even the knowledge you have. Random code and notions pop from every website you click on, in your quest for guidance. You want to get it, you think you did, but you have no idea what to do with the information. Where do you even start when there are so many things that don’t work, and you don’t know what to do first?

Well, first of all, don’t panic. I know, too late. Still, don’t do it. It’s normal to not know everything from the beginning. Also, there’s no way you can ever build something of the size an online community, when you have only basic knowledge of programming. We all went through the ‘going up really fast’ faze, feeling like we just got our cool set of wings to fly, when you think you can get to the moon and back with them, and then hit the ‘brick wall of reality’. And, it hurts badly, but it’s a good wake up call, making you realize what your level really is.

Going through online sources you will find information mainly for beginners or advanced programmers. Nothing for you, past beginner’s level knowledge person, but without enough experience to keep at it. Once you pass the beginner’s faze, and you do have some knowledge here and there, you will be clueless about what to do next. And you search desperately for answers, and the more you read, the harder it gets, and the more confused you become.

Ok, I did learn a lot. I did some reading, I know more stuff. But what do I do with the information? Where do I put the PHP / Javascipt code now? How … what do I do with the Database? How should I structure the website? What goes in which folder? What file should have what extension? Very hard to figure out, on your own.

This is the point where you have to keep at it, and don’t quit! Also, this is also the point where most beginners who got themselves into this only for the money, or for the wrong reasons, will quit. It’s a good faze of learning programming, even if it looks like the worse you’ve been through, so far.

The Solution To Your Problems

Sorry, no easy way out, no shortcuts. If there were such an option, I would have found it by now, as I looked for any possible way to learn faster, skip steps as I can clue in by myself as I go, get better with less reading and more practice with the code. If you are looking for the secret of getting there, I can’t give you the recipe, as there is none, but I can give you the method: WORK. Yes, a lot of work. Again, it doesn’t come easy, but when it finally clicks, it’s very much worth it!

From my own experience, here are a few steps I followed, which actually helped though the journey, by keeping me on the right track. They might not work for everyone, as we all learn in a different way and at a different rhythm, but they sure worked for me:

1. Don’t give up! So, it doesn’t work. So, what? No room for ‘Lie down. Try not to cry. Cry a lot‘ type of attitude! If you feel like this is your passion, and you have a call for it, remind yourself daily, as many times as needed, that you made it so far, you know a lot, even if it doesn’t feel like it, so it pays to focus a bit longer. I know you must go though a ‘I can’t do it‘ faze, but, with a lot of work and dedication, you can do it.

2. Get organized (after you get out from the previous panic moment 🙂 ). If you decide on a specific field / programming language, work on finding a structure, a content of the information you should know, and you want to / have to learn. You can find it in a book, or from a ‘learn how to program’ website. Regardless of your source, keep building on top every single point of the list, going from simple notions to the most complex ones.

3. Read from multiple sources. Websites like Codeacademy are great, but once you passed the rookie faze, you can’t rely only on the information you got from one source, as that will never be enough for you to reach your goal. I combined the structure previously created (see point 2) and built on top of it, by reading from beginner’s websites, one book (whichever one works better for you – find it and use it – start with ONE only, then move to a new one) and video tutorials on how to whatever you are currently learning. From everything, what I’ve found most useful were the video tutorials, as they gave me the visual and audio part of learning, which I was missing by focusing only on the reading. This also clarified a few questions I had related to the structure of a website.

4. Go small! Take you goal, break it into as many pieces as possible, and work only with those pieces until they work. When one piece doesn’t work, tackle one issue at a time. When you figure it out, then you can move to the next one. One by one, you will get them done, and you will put the puzzle pieces back together, to form the desired result. Don’t ever bite more than you can chew, or you will end up disappointed and discouraged, which slows down or puts an end to the progress made so far.

5. Practice, practice, practice. Once you read something, make sure you take the knowledge and apply it. This is the only way in which it will stick. You can’t memorize programming, you have to feel it and understand it. No other way. What really worked for me, was using a programming language to solve small programming challenges. Project Euler was probably my best teacher in the past few months, when it came to solidifying and testing my knowledge.

99 bugs6. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! I know it might sound weird but mistakes are good, actually they are great! It took me sooooo long to figure this out, but every time you make a mistake, you learn. I know it must be hard to see, but believe me, you do. Fixing your own mistakes, will make the knowledge stick. Debugging has its advantages! Remember that the only people who make no mistakes are the ones who don’t try to do anything. If you want to learn, make as many mistakes as possible. You will get there!

7. Don’t expect immediate results. Yep, I am one of those persons who study for a while and then wants to move mountains. If I don’t see things happening, I feel down, and doubtful. If this is how you are as well, and you want to see the work pay off NOW, you can forget about it. When it comes to programming, there are only baby steps. If you set your mind on ‘going big or going home’, in the first months of learning, you will go home. You fill fail, repetitively, but it’s all about how you train yourself to keep on moving. Get up, and try again.

8. Trust in yourself, stay motivated! This is the hardest part, once things get hairy, but you are the only one who can decide to stay motivated or quit. Nothing can stop a motivated person with a positive attitude. It’s your choice entirely, which type of person you will be. With every new piece of information, and every new day of study, you can make a choice. Choose right!

Once it gets worse, it will also get better, as long as you hang in there, stick to your goal and don’t give up. No one said it will be easy, but if programming is what you really feel like you want to do in life, for sure you can get there! With the right amount of work and dedication, you can become a very skilled programmer. No overnight success though, but only a lot of dedication, reading, practicing, debugging, all for that moment when your code works perfectly, in one go.

Remember, it pays to be patient. Get busy coding!

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Mărțișor – Spring Traditions in Romania

Yes, the first official day of spring, is finally on its way, and in Romania we celebrate the beginning of the new season, in a special way, so I’ve decided to share a few thoughts on the local customs, as I’m pretty sure not everyone heard of them.

 Mărțișor is what we call the Romanian holiday (taking place on March 1st), symbolizing the first day of Spring; the diminutive of marț (Martie for March in Romanian), which means little March.

The custom is believed to have Daco-Thracian origins, dating back 8,000 years! As during the Roman Empire times New Year’s Eve was celebrated on March 1, this day symbolized a new beginning. March (‘Martius’) was named in honor of the god Mars, the god of war but also agriculture, suggesting the rebirth of nature, huge celebrations taking place to mark the new start of the year.

Mărțișor is also the name of a talisman, tied to a red and white string, offered by men to women, on the 1st day of Spring. The old custom of giving is still alive, and it is believed that the one who wears the string and token will be strong and healthy in the year to come. Women wear it pinned to their clothes, until the last day of March, when they tie the string to the branches of a tree, moment when you have to make a wish, and if the tree blossoms, your wish will come true. Now, you can cheat a little bit by picking a fruit-tree, as they are well known for their beautiful spring blossoms, but ….shhht! 😉

The string used to be originally called the Year’s Rope, as a link between winter and spring. The colors are a reminder of the light and darkness, warmth and coldness, life and death, present during the changing season. The Dacians (Romanians’ ancestors) believed these amulets brought fertility, beauty and even prevented sunburns. According to them, mărțișor’s a symbol of war, blood but and also women’s passion.

In the past, the tokens were homemade and the string was created from black and white wool, which later was changed for the very well known red and white. Nowadays, as every other holiday, mărțișor was also turned in a commercial paradise for shop owners, who sell cheap looking mass-production tokens. However, local workshops try to keep the tradition, by selling handmade painted ones, made out of wood or clay. That’s what I call keeping tradition alive 🙂

artstudiomartisorcrAs far as I’m concerned, no gift is better than one you make with your own hands, and you give from your heart. No one knows better than you do, the recipient of the gift, so who better to design it, if not yourself?

Considering this, can you think of a better way to celebrate 1st of March, other than going to a creative workshop and design your own talismans? This year I’ve decided to do just that, and play with some clay and colors. And I must say, it was such a fun experience, which I’m looking forward to experience again, soon!

I’m sure there are better looking talismans out there, but none are made with so much love like mine are 🙂 Besides, buying locally, helps the artists and workshops make a living, which brings the handmade gifts to the number 1 – to buy gift, in my book.

Spring is probably my favorite season of the year. I love the return to life of nature, the gentle sun rays, the spring flowers, the not too cold – not too warm days, and the entire atmosphere overall.

I hope you enjoyed the virtual trip through 8,000 years of history and the Romanian traditions for 1st of March. I wish you all a lovely spring and best wishes for the new season to come!

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The Special Photograph

Cleaning a hard drive is an interesting and also exhausting experience. Besides finding all sort of files you have no clue about where did you got them from and what’s their use, you also come across hundreds of GB of data you definitely want to keep, organize and never lose. The closest files to our hearts, are definitely the personal pictures. Losing part of our photos is enough to make any grown man cry. Been there, done that, have the sad t-shirt.

Going through my picture archive made me realize that after the digital camera boom, we all have way too many tens of GB of pictures, from the past few years alone! Every trip, special or less special moment and event, are documented and are a priceless reminder of our past. We definitely don’t want to lose those.

Digital cameras and the evolution of storage options made holding on to beautiful memories so much easier for us. Pretty much every gadget you buy nowadays, which can be connected to the internet, is equipped with a camera. This gives us an insane mobility and the opportunity to turn every moment of the day in a photo / video diary, if that’s what we really want.

But, things weren’t always this way. Actually, the digital cameras weren’t around until the 1990s! Yes, we survived that far without them. And nowadays, we simply can’t imagine our lives without such a precious gadget.

Short history of cameras

Who remembers the film cameras? Oh yes, the good old film cameras, which only allowed you to click 36 pictures? Yep, only that … You don’t know that feeling? Try buying a single use camera, in case you’re looking for that unique experience, without spending too much money on buying an old film camera 🙂

The man we should thank for giving us the opportunity to immortalize a few moments from our before the 90s lives, is called George Eastman, the person who created a company called Kodak, in the 1880s, which started selling the first flexible roll film cameras. The buyer, after clicking the pictures would send the camera back to the factory for the film to be developed, much like the disposable cameras nowadays.

Oh and you think that’s bad? Let’s look even deeper into the history of the cameras.

Photography, in the form we know it today, started in the late 1830, in France, when Joseph Nicéphore Niépce used a camera obscura to expose to light a pewter plate coated with bitumen which led to the creation of the Daguerreotype, the ancestor of modern film.

Emulsion plates replaced the Daguerreotype in the 1850s, using an emulsion process called(Collodion process), which involved a glass plate, much more sensitive to light.

In the 1970’s, the dry plates gave photographers much more freedom in taking photographs, as the plates could be stored and the cameras became much smaller. The last big step for this fascinating device, before the first film camera became part of our lives.

Evolution at its best, or what?

20140520_213638

Old baby photograph – Yep, that’s me 🙂

In the past, a photograph was a piece of art, a rare precious possession to cherish and pass from generation to generation. A camera was a very unusual object to be found in a house, and would be used only on special occasions. Every picture we clicked was so special to us, and even more, the preparations, surroundings, people and occasion made it rise to the level of worthy for immortality. Today, not so much.

We don’t have a lot of pictures from before the digital cameras era, but the ones we posses are definitely a small treasure. Something about the black and white pictures gives us a warm cozy feeling inside. Oh yes, the nostalgia for the good old days…

Nowadays, with the easy access to cameras, the value of pictures dropped down. We basically turned a form of art, into a common everyday action, we perform mechanically.

There’s nothing special anymore about the process of clicking photographs with our phones, tablets or digital cameras. I don’t know about you, but seeing a picture being clicked with a tablet, gives me the feeling of someone pointing a door at someone else. Not very attractive, in the least and definitely not a form of art.

It seems like the access to cameras mean access to more and more pictures, which have little to no value.This considered, how many pictures, are really special, and how many are just filling? Also, how many pictures can be considered pure art, and how many are useless in value?

How many true photographers are still out there? How many really appreciate and understand the evolution of this amazing piece of technology we carry along everywhere. And how many take photographs in that spirit of mind, giving the camera the respect it demands? I believe way too little…

The word goes around that all you need in order to become a photographer nowadays is a Facebook page with ‘Your Name‘ + the word ‘Photography’. Unfortunately, this is very true, as in many cases, every person with a fancy digital camera wants to believe in the: ‘I’m a photographer‘, which isn’t always true. The amount of work and dedication going into capturing that special photograph, is enormous, and not all of us are willing to invest that much time and energy into obtaining it.

Don’t you miss the film cameras? Not even a little bit? I sure miss the feeling an old camera gave me, in terms of appreciating the value of every frame immortalized. Film cameras made us so much more conscious about our surroundings and the true meaning of value. Even if digital cameras gave us the wings to fly, I wonder if they will ever rise to the level of the previous generation of cameras. Or, even better, if WE have what it takes to make the beautiful device get there.

Mesmerizing Dusk

There’s no tomorrow without a yesterday. What appears to be the end may really be a new beginning.

Don’t start your day with the broken pieces of yesterday. Every day is a fresh start, a new beginning. Every morning we wake up is the first day of the rest of our life.

Have a lovely day, everyone!

Life After Death – Influencing the Journey?

I realize this is a very delicate subject for most of us. We all lost someone close to us, or we know someone affected by the loss of someone dear to them. After getting a bit older, witnessing more and more funeral rituals becomes part of everyone’s life. For me, a few questions came to my mind, and as the last hours spent with the deceased are so important for the last goodbye and their ‘journey’ to eternity, leaving those without an answer seems very much wrong.

After my family was affected, a few weeks ago, by the loss of a relative, a whole war started in the family about what needs to be done in order for the soul of the dead person to reach heaven or wherever it’s supposed to go. Sure, everyone has an opinion, and apparently if you don’t follow theirs, something bad will happen to your deceased loved one (something bad kind of already happened, by the way).

Considering that the practice varies from country to country, and even worse, from one area of the country to the other, I can’t help but wonder: WHO got it right? If what we do after their moment of death, matters so much, and we are going to influence in a negative or positive way their journey to eternity, then what is the right thing to do? What if a different culture got it right and we didn’t? What if the funeral practices from one area of the country are right, the rest are wrong, and only the souls of those people will reach eternity, leaving the rest of us out? Oops …

I’ll give you a closer look to a few such rules which need to be followed in Romania, that I am aware of (many more are out there, but I’ll point only to a few), which are meant to guarantee a spot on the best possible cloud in the sky.

So … someone dies. For me, that’s it. Game over. Sorry, but whatever you do afterwards won’t change a thing for the one who sadly past away. However, most will disagree with me. And this is why, when someone dies, you have to cover the mirrors in the house, kick the pets out as they are not allowed to go under the table, give away food (to feed the soul up to 7 years after their death), plates, cups, clothes (to wear on the other side), cutlery, money (they need to pay some sort of bridge tax to cross to heaven), towels, cloths, shoes, pay priests to say prayers (the prayer is more like a reminder that the person died – yes I can see that myself), light candles (they don’t have any light unless you do this – is heaven in the basement or something?), place certain objects in the coffin, for the journey to the after life (if they don’t have those objects, they can’t cross into eternity), and also cook a specific type of food and bread, which are also extremely important for some reason I can’t recall right now.

Even more, you have to do the ‘give away’ ceremony every other 3 days after their death, until the 40th day, from where you start counting every 3 months or so, not including holidays like ‘the day of the death’ when you have to give food again to the ‘dead’ unless you want them to wait at the gates of heaven and starve, while other souls eat. These mind games played so well by the church and the elderly of the society puts the family of the deceased in a lot of financial and emotional distress, for the next 7 years after the death of the relative. And you just have to do it, unless … consequences!

Now, let’s pretend I believe all this. But, from what it’s known, isn’t heaven that place where you let go of your body presence, and you become a beautiful bright light, shining gorgeously while sitting next to god? And all the pain and sorrow goes away, and you spend a beautiful eternity in your best shape possible? Then why all the rituals above? How are you going to use plates and cups, and eat the food, if you have no hands or stomach? Also, use the clothes to dress … which body?

tom-cheney-two-d1Basically, from what I can tell, you only get to heaven if you have relatives to take care of everything for you. What if they don’t? What if you have no one left alive to do this for you? What if they can’t find your body anymore, like it often happens after a natural catastrophe? What if you die in the war? What if you simply can’t afford it ( a real problem for most people in my country)??? And the ‘what if’ list goes on and on. You know in what all of this is translates? MONEY. Yes, the rich ones go to heaven, the rest … oh well, bad luck. Maybe next time. Not even the after life isn’t fair, huh?

Now, that we clarified how the situation looks like in Romania, let’s take a look at a few more cultures from around the world, and see what they believe is to be done right, when a love one dies:

Famadihana

Malagasy people of Madagascar practice Famadihana (turning of the bones), a ceremony which consists in digging the bodies of their ancestors from the family crypts, rewrap them in fresh cloth, than dance with the corpses around the tomb to live music, as a way to remember their dead loved ones. After a short ‘fun’ trip around the village, they bury them again, until next time.

Philippine traditions

The Benguet blindfold their dead while the Tinguian dress the bodies in their best clothes, and place them next to the main entrance of the house with a lit cigarette in their lips. The Caviteño, bury their dead in a hollowed-out tree trunk and the Apayo, bury their dead under the kitchen.

Sky Burial 

Or dissection, is a funerary practice in the Chinese provinces of Tibet, Qinghai, and Inner Mongolia. The human corpse is cut into small pieces and placed on a mountaintop, exposed to animals, especially predatory birds, which help dispose the remains. They believed that there is no need to preserve the empty body so they allow nature to use what it can take.

Hindu funerals

A lamp is placed by the head of the body, rice balls are placed in the coffin, and a necklace and garlands of flowers are placed around the person’s neck, before cremation, as it is believed that this will help their soul to escape quickly from the body. Afterwards, the ashes of the deceased are sprinkled on water of Ganges. If the deceased one is a child or pregnant women, they just throw the body in the water, and let it flow into eternity, as they are pure.

Coffin hanging 

This ancient ritual involved the displaying of coffins on high cliffs, believing that coffins need to be close to the sky so that the dead can be closer to heaven, leaving ghosts and spirits free to roam around the hills and rocks.

Strangulation

The funeral ceremony taking place in the South Pacific Island of Fiji, based on the ancient ritual of Sati, involves killing of the dear ones of the deceased as they should not be left alone in the other world, making the process of death less painful.

Again, these are only a few examples of other rituals which need to be followed in order for the dead one to reach eternity. The question of who got it right is still out there.

What makes us think, as a society united by the phenomena of death, that we are better than other societies and our actions taken after someone’s death will guarantee OUR dead loved one a spot in heaven, while others will be left out? What about the other cultures from all around the world? What if dancing with the death or hanging the coffins on a mountain top is what does the trick, and we’re doing it wrong?

The priests love to make us believe their way is the way. If you don’t pass the ‘church inspection’ on the way to heaven, you can’t get there (and yes, you only have to pay your way out of the land of the living). And we pay … And we do what we’re being told. In the end, the church is the most booming business in Romania. In a society where the elderly hold on with their teeth to religion, in order to get to eternity, how can it not be a good business? Tax on pain is quite high, and if people are trained to follow blindly what they say, why not?

Personally, I believe the rituals have little to no influence at all on the journey to eternity. We don’t do them for the one who passed away, but for the people left behind by the deceased. We do them all for ourselves, in order to bring peace to our hearts and fill the empty space left by the death of someone we love.

For the deceased, it makes no difference if you give them food and clothes, dance with them, or feed them to the birds, while they are not with us anymore. It seems like we are holding on to their death, by buying things as they would still be alive, in order to keep their presence in our lives. But what we miss seeing is that no ceremony will ever bring them back, and no ritual will matter, if the generosity and love wasn’t shown when our relative/friend was still alive.

A person we love will always be with us, in our hearts and minds, no further ceremonies needed. We don’t simply forget someone who was an important part of our lives; we just continue our lives, and take them with us everywhere, in our memories and hearts.

Celebrating love … One day per year?!

grumpy-cat-valentineSo, it’s that time of the year, once again. Valentine’s day is coming! Oh yes, I am so excited! … I will just sit safely under my umbrella, until the atmosphere goes back to normal.

This is the time when people get depressed if they don’t have a date (like it matters more that you are single now, than being single in any other day of the year) and also the time when social networks are flooded with pictures of the perfect couples, celebrating with perfect gifts, their perfect relationships. Because if you don’t post it and brag about it, it doesn’t exist, right?

Love is the most wonderful feeling humans are capable of experiencing. Considering this, there’s nothing more beautiful than celebrating the special bond you have with your life partner. What’s really wrong about the ‘month of love’ is that if you love someone so much, you shouldn’t need a designated day of the year to remind yourself about your true feelings.

Love should be celebrated every moment of everyday, all year round. The little gestures, love, the care for one another, special moments should be present in the life of a couple on a daily basis, not only on February 14th. If you spoil your significant other only when you ‘have to’ because it’s dictated by the social conventions, then the gesture has no real meaning whatsoever.

Commercial aspect of the holiday – Happy Stores

What’s so romantic about Valentine’s Day? We basically celebrate the day when a priest was martyred for secretly performing marriage ceremonies, around year 207. Taking joy in someone’s misfortune….That’s a bit gruesome, don’t you think? This unfortunate event was turned, in time, into a commercial holiday, which is spreading all over the world, making people buy stuff, in order to nurture such a pure feeling.

Besides, are we the ones who celebrate it, or the store owners do the celebrating part, as sales go up considerably during the ‘season of love’? I think the ones who are truly in love, in February, are the ones selling the love tokens.

And we celebrate the holiday by giving to our partner our heart, but not metaphorically, as initially intended, but literally, sort of, represented by a horribly large stuffed heart, with their name on it (in case they forget their name – useful in case of amnesia, I guess) or with a printed messages like ‘I love you‘ (in case they forget you love them, I suppose you can ask them to go look for the heart, and read the message again. Like this you don’t have to prove it anymore, as it’s already written down somewhere) or ‘Be mine‘ ( um … didn’t you guys agreed on this one prior to starting dating? – just saying).

The new trend is to give a custom-made heart shaped pillow to your partner, with your face printed on it… ?! … Let’s not even go there, as I don’t think WordPress allows bloggers to write about such aspects 🙂

I don’t know about you, but for me, receiving a gift because that’s the social convention, doesn’t make it a gift from the heart, but a social obligation, bringing it down in value significantly. And giving as a gift a huge plush heart … I won’t ever be able to get the point of it. Don’t say ‘I love you’, prove it. Don’t give your partner a pillow with your picture on it, but be there for them!

We shouldn’t need plush hearts or heart-shaped anything for that matter, in order to prove our love to someone. And we definitely don’t need to prove our love to someone, on a specific day in a year. The real love token is found in your daily actions, and the real gifts come from our hearts. Nothing should be more precious than the gift of spending one more day together, loving and supporting each other, with every step taken into the world.

So, if your significant other is there, go and prove your love to them everyday, through every single one of your actions. Don’t wait for a day designated by society, in order to prove your feelings to someone, in front of the whole world. The events from behind the closed doors are more important than what we show to the world.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyday!