Maple Alps

love language

Making Long Distance Relationships Work

RelationshipsAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment

A while ago, I wrote about the truth (according to me) of long distance relationships (LDR). For a while after that, I got a few emails asking for some practical tips to making LDRs work. Since I can’t really speak for anyone else, I decided to share my personal experience and the things that helped us stay [mostly] sane during our season of long distance. It really can work out! J and I were 7000km and 8 time zones apart. Actually, both sets of our parents also spent time doing long distance in the era of no Skype! Maybe it runs in our blood?

I’m sharing some things that will help your long distance relationship be successful!

Are Long Distance Relationships Successful? | www.maplealps.com

Set Goals

The whole goal of our relationship from the very beginning was marriage, and because it was a mindset of ours, long distance, though annoying, wasn’t too terrible a thing.

Communication

THIS IS KEY! And something I personally had to work on (and still am….). Because you’re so far away and can’t see each other, being able to communicate and express yourselves is important. Bonus: when all you can do is talk and communicate, you get to know each other so, so well.

Do Things “Together”

Well into our relationship, the most irritating thing to me was the feeling that we were both living separate lives. When we talked, we would just fill each other in on things we had done that day and talk about things we were going to do with others, etc. It was pretty depressing at times. We decided to start doing more things “together.” You can get creative with this, but some ideas are reading the same book or working on a project together. A friend and I used to stream shows at the same time while skyping. I’ve even studied and skyped. It was like having the person in the room - just not.

Snail Mail

Never underestimate the power of snail mail. Seriously. I love putting together packages and mailing cards. I also love receiving said things. Chances are, you do too - and so will your significant other!

See Each Other as Often as Possible

It can be hard to see each other, especially when you are far apart and wallets aren’t very full. But make the effort to do it as much as you can. Plan your next visits; make bucket lists of things to do and eat while you’re together. And countdown to make it extra exciting.

Set Boundaries

Not seeing each other for long periods of time and then suddenly getting a large dose is sometimes like letting a candy-deprived kid loose in a candy store - it could end up with a tummy ache and a lot of regret. Avoid these after effects by setting boundaries and holding each other accountable for them. Maintaining purity can be hard sometimes, but not impossible. Set boundaries so you can honor each other and ultimately God.

Get creative

We’ve celebrated birthdays and anniversaries over skype. Light a candle and blow it out. Send a CD with instructions. Send flowers from the local flower shop. The ideas are endless!

Prioritize Your Relationship

Need I say more? You will get out what you put in. If you want your relationship to work, don’t constantly put it on the backburner. If you don’t intentionally approach your relationships, they won’t be beneficial to you or the other party. This does not only apply to long distance relationships, or even romantic ones, by the way! Cultivating relationships is what makes them last!

Have God as the Center

We can’t truly love the way God loves, if His love is not in us. Having God at the center of your relationship is key.

 

An Aspiring Minimalist’s Guide to Gifts

LifestyleAmanda Walter | Maple Alps5 Comments

There are plenty of gift-giving guides for when you want to give something to a minimalist, but what if a minimalist (or aspiring minimalist, like me) wants to give a gift? I had to really think about this!

Take Christmas, for example. It's around the corner and it seems that most people expect to receive a gift and give one in return. I’ve been caught in situations where I’ve had to give a gift, so I just grabbed something off the department store shelves with little thought as to why I was giving it. On the other hand, I’ve also received those same kinds of gifts. Full disclosure: those don’t often last long in my house at all. So why do we even bother?

When I give a gift now, I like to be intentional about it. I like to ask myself a few questions:

Why did I choose this particular gift?
Will my recipient value this gift?

How can I make this a meaningful experience?

With the gift-giving season right around the corner (and just coming out of one - can someone say weddings?), I thought I might share some of my thoughts and ideas on giving gifts.

An Aspiring Minimalist’s Guide to Gifts | www.maplealps.com

 

Give the gift of an experience or time together

This is probably a great place to start. One of the coolest gifts we got as a wedding gift was a night out to see a Broadway musical. It was seriously cool, and it is a memory we still talk about to this day. Gifting experiences is a great idea and focuses more on your friendship than any material thing I can think of at this moment. Gift dinner reservations or unique local experiences or special events and make memories, not dust collectors.

 

Cash

I know it sounds impersonal and unromantic, but cash is way better to get than a gift card. It’s still tangible and doesn’t risk the use to being resold online or forgotten in a wallet. Plus, cash can still be used pretty much everywhere. There are creative ways to gift it too!

 

Something personalized and practical

If you still want to give something, you might want to consider giving something from the heart. Personalized items can still be practical. Put the “fun” in “functional” and explore options like personalized cutting boards or socks - okay, maybe not socks, but you get the idea. Thinking of needs and adding a personalized twist is, in my humble opinion, thoughtful!

 
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Give a charitable donation

There are many opportunities to give a charitable donation in your recipient's name. All it takes is one Google search.

 

Give a consumable

Ummm, who doesn’t love food? I haven’t met that person yet. I love this, because you can get really creative with it! Visit a foreign country? Bring a packaged specialty! Have you heard of gourmet olive oil? Because it's amazing. Love chocolate chip cookies? Put together a kit so they can make their own (you can even pair this with an experience and do it together)! The possibilities are endless and are so fun!

 

If there is a registry, stick to the registry

If you are going to a shower or a wedding, chances are the hosts have created a gift registry. Stick to it. They know what they need, and if you want to stay true to helping others own only what they need, value, and what brings them joy, I highly suggest going that route.

 

So what about receiving gifts?

Receiving gifts is a little tougher for me - especially now that we have downsized greatly and don’t wish to acquire more [useless] stuff. But I also don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings!

Explaining your “new way of life” to family and friends who normally shower you with gifts can be difficult, but not impossible. I see gift-giving as a way of sharing love, but gift-giving is not restricted to material things.

Your loved ones are called your loved ones because they love you. Trust that and make your expectations and intentions clear. They will be happy to support you. Isn’t that just what gift-giving is about anyway? Showing our love? They’ll be glad to do that however you decide!

Instead of saying, “I will not be collecting gifts this year,” and leaving it at that, why not give specific ideas to your loved ones about what they can give you. If you would like a charitable gift, set up a charity fund they can donate directly to, or pick a soup kitchen and request they accompany you too. If you want consumables, hand over your grocery list (I mean, why not?). If you think it will help, why not send them the link to this blog post? Whatever you choose, I’m sure they’ll think it’s a fabulous idea and they might start picking it up too!

 

 

What kinds of gifts do you like giving and receiving? Let me know in the comments!


 
 

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day

RelationshipsAmanda Walter | Maple Alps11 Comments

With Valentine’s Day over and boxed heart candy at 75% off, I have caught myself giving a little sigh. You see, I just love Valentine’s Day (VD). It’s something about the pink and hearts everywhere that makes it impossible for me to be mad at anyone, reminds me of how much I am loved (and love!) and allows me to embrace my inner “girl.” Though I’ve never done anything extra special on February 14, I have always thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere it provides.

When my husband and I first started dating, he made some remark about every day being Valentine’s Day with him. While he was saying it somewhat lightly, there was definitely truth to his statement. Why should a day (regardless of the history and background of it) predominantly celebrating love, be the only day we think about sharing with those we care about how much we love them? It just doesn’t seem right.

If you, like me, are feeling a little sad that the holiday has passed us by already, you can hold your chin up a little higher. Some of my blogging friends have helped me out with a fun project to share with all of you some great ideas to keep the VD feelings all year long!
 

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day + Free Printable | www.maplealps.com

We can make every day "Valentine's Day" by performing little acts of kindness for the people around us that we love: our spouses, friends, neighbours, and families. We can serve them, meet their needs, and show them just how much we love them!
- Abbey of Small Town Soul

We can make every day Valentine's Day by remembering why we love in the first place and being intentional! I love Jim Elliot's quote - "Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God." So in daily life, whether I'm spending time with someone or doing something, I strive to focus on them (instead of checking my phone, wondering what to say in response, going for efficiency over caring) and love them to the best of my ability, depending on God's grace to help me best love and serve them/perform the task at hand!
- Jessica of Duly Noted Ink

Have a quiet moment together like seeing the sunrise or sunset, viewing the ocean, sitting on a hill and embracing earth's natural beauty together or even sitting in front of a fireplace with some hot chocolate. Just being around each other is something wonderful.
- Martika of Coffee Time With Him

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day | www.maplealps.com

When our girls were 4 and 6 we started a new tradition for Valentine's Day. I set out 4 boxes, one for each family member. I had paper, pens, pink and white doilies, and lots of stickers available. Each person got to write out qualities they liked in each family member, things they appreciated, and favourite memories. It was to be a secret. On Valentine's we took turns reading them out loud. Because of their ages, they needed lots of coaching, memory jogging, and help writing/typing. They are 27 and 25 and we still do this, though sometimes it's through cards or texts throughout the day. It's really a skill I wanted to encourage--to find things we love about each other and what makes the other person feel loved.
- Terri from Terri Fullerton

I make every day Valentines Day by learning my hubby's love language and making sure I'm using it!
-Susannah from Simple Moments Stick

I'm such a weirdo but, I don't care much about Valentine's Day. It's sorta man-made and regimented. For years, I've told my husband to love me throughout the year and he can just go "light" on Valentine's Day. My love language is gifts so he sends flowers often, buys me things, surprises me with gifts all year. So I kinda feel like every day is Valentine's Day. Should he ever slack, then I might put more emphasis on that one day in February. 
- Teri of Godsy Girl

It's not something I do all the time, but every now and then I will make dinner for my kids (before an early bedtime) and then make dinner for my husband and myself after the kids go to bed. I'm also known for making treats and snacks for after the kids go to bed. Truffles anyone?
- Erin from Momma's Living Room

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day | www.maplealps.com

By writing little "love notes" filled with words of appreciation for our loved ones on a regular basis. You never know how much a kind note might mean to someone.
- Rachel from The Random Writings

We need to know how we are loved. I like to leave notes for my family that tell them I love you because . . . . your are brave, kind, considerate etc and then tell them how I saw that in them.
- Kim from Day to Day Adventures

My boyfriend texts me every morning "Good Morning Beautiful!" which puts a smile on my face and starts my day off right. 
- Pamela from Bible Geek Lifestyle

We can make every day Valentine's Day by constantly pushing ourselves to serve our spouse. Valentine's Day is great because we all seem to want to make our significant other happier. What if they had a hard day at work and it wasn't Valentine's Day? The probably need our love and support more at that time.
- Courtney from Happy Little Shopping Secret

I would say to make everyday Valentine's day we could ask ourselves, "How can I make today a little bit brighter or easier for my spouse?" It could be by doing something simple or leaving them a little note or just taking an extra minute to tell them how much you love and appreciate them.
- Kaitlyn from Lily and Mama

How to make Every Day Valentine’s Day | www.maplealps.com

We can make every day Valentine's day by having quick morning cuddles before starting the day! I love resting on my husband's chest and kissing him on the cheek with his arm around me! It's sweet and simple. Just a little way to say "I just woke up, and you're on my mind!"
- Elizabeth  from Wanderlust + Heart

From a relationship standpoint, I think making a conscious effort to do something nice for or compliment someone you care about can make each day Valentine's Day for you and that other person. From a personal standpoint, taking a few minutes each day to reflect on your life and give yourself a nice little pamper session, pep talk, or general treat can make each day Valentine's Day for you.
- Jessi from Roses in Ink

It might seem over simple ... But ... To make every day like Valentines, touch your spouse. A loving caress - a neck rub, a hand placed gently on a forearm, "footsie" under the table, a kiss on the cheek, etc. As husband and wife, we can be together all day and never touch. It happens all too easily - especially if we have children to nurture.
- Lori from Encourage Your Spouse

Meet your spouse's love language
- Audrey of Life with Little People

 

How would you make every day Valentine's Day? Let me know in the comments below!