S2 Makes – Need A Last Minute (and Fast!) Valentine’s Day Card?

Sunday is Valentine’s Day – one of my favorite holidays. For many, a holiday that some would label “stupid” or “it sucks!” or “another Hallmark holiday!” – and one that they’ll blow off or watch, as I did one year with a good friend, “The Valentine’s Day Massacre” on the History Channel, about an infamous mafia murder in Chicago, while eating Sloppy Joe’s and drinking wine.

I tend to find Valentine’s Day a holiday of beauty. Well, once you get rid of the notion that it is about gifts and ridiculous expectations. It’s a day for expressing love and that expression can be anything. School children give out cute cards and treats. In my world, I give out CD’s called Love Mixes to my girlfriends. (I’ve written about them in the past on this blog.) For individuals in relationships, they may give big gifts such a jewelry, or expensive flowers, or lingerie, or cars. I don’t know. My extent of relationship Valentine’s Day gifts have always involved cooked meals and hugs, which is why I err on the cute and sincere end of the giving spectrum.  Although, as a teenager, I did receive a single rose each year from my Dad – he would have it delivered while he was out on the road driving a truck. It always made me feel special, but it was really the feeling of being loved and remembered from the greatest male role model of my life, who was away.

You can say that my expectations for Valentine’s Day are not that great. And they aren’t, but they do include time and sincerity. Only give me what you truly want to give, and hopefully it involves food cooked at home, time, laughter, hugs and dancing. Everything else does not matter. Mind you these are all things that I do for myself, so they’re not really expectations or gifts, they are simply things that make me smile and feel happy.

I can still remember my first Valentine’s Day in NYC – walking through Times Square Station and seeing the endless sea of red – coats, hats, gloves, bags – worn by New Yorkers commuting. That filled my heart, and still does, in a way that gifts cannot. If thousands of people in NYC (often labeled the rudest and most unfriendly) can get together as individuals to show love in a grand way, then we can show love in small ways to people we love and strangers this one designated day a year and it can be as simple as wearing the color red to spread cheer.  Mind you, this is something we should incorporate every day, but that is a conversation for a different day.

While I’m not the biggest gift fan, I am a fan of love notes and letters and cards and therefore will tell you now that if you do show up to your loved one in all red with doughnuts do bring along a card. It doesn’t have to be great. It need not cost $10, nor  sparkle. It doesn’t have to have anything in it aside from your lovely words of love. All your card need do is express your feelings, validate you spending your day and time together and be sincere and this applies to romantic partners, children, parents, etc.

In preparation for this holiday, and what I call Love Month, I put together a video for the Etsy Team in NY that I’m a member of and think it’s worth sharing with you guys. It’s a five minute video tutorial showing you how to make a pop-up heart card for Valentine’s Day. Materials are simple and the cards take not even three minutes to make. It is the fastest Valentine’s Day card you’ll make for your loved one and as I share in the video, it is also the most heartfelt.

If you do make one of these cards, I hope your loved one, or the person on the receiving end loves it. I hope they reward you with a hug and smile and kiss. I hope you feel good for doing something so small and sincere. I hope your heart is full this Valentine’s Day.

Oh, and for those curious about this year’s Love Mix. Here’s a freebie for you via a Spotify playlist – “Love is Water – Love Mix 2016” – Enjoy!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

S2 Letter Love – Celebrating Valentine’s Day With A Favorite Letter

This week is quite the week. We are on the tail end of a few holidays including the Chinese New Year (Monday- it’s my year! I’m a Monkey!) – Mardi Gras yesterday- today, Ash Wednesday. (Which starts my favorite religious period of the year.) However, this weekend ends with Valentine’s Day and next week kicks off with President’s Day – President Lincoln, I salute you!

Can we say, whoa, holidays?!

As we get ready to celebrate Valentine’s Day, I want to get you in the mood of writing letters to your loved ones, I’m sharing one of my absolute favorite love writings from fiction. Obviously, I’m a writer, a paper lover and well, a lover of well written fiction so I have many letter passages from fictional works that I love, but this letter by Captain Frederick Wentworth to Anne Elliot is one of my favorites.

“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone fore ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own, than when you almost broke it eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone I think and plan. -Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes?-I had not waited even these ten says, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice, when they would be lost on others.-Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating in                    F.W.

I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening, or never.”  – “Persuasion,” Jane Austen

To give you some history, I was late to Jane Austen. I can remember when the craze hit in the 90s, but it wasn’t really my cup of tea, even though I did greatly enjoy other fictional novels written during her time period. It wasn’t until I had to read “Emma” as part of my English Literature degree at The George Washington University that I truly fell for Jane Austen and her characters. It was also around this time that my aunt and I discovered the BBC version of “Pride and Prejudice” with Colin Firth as Darcy. We started an annual weekend to watch it together. Elizabeth and Darcy solidified my love, obviously.

I have slowly tackled Austen’s work loving each for various reasons since then. Although, I must admit that I have read “Pride and Prejudice” more often than the others. Which is why when I found myself in love with “Persuasion” I was shocked. See, I encountered Persuasion backwards – I watched it first as a movie on PBS’s Masterpiece Theater and loved it.  I then bought the book and read it and loved it more. It is my favorite Austen novel.  The page where the letter I shared above sits in my copy is dogeared a few times.

I can only imagine what receiving a letter like this would cause feeling wise. And maybe that’s why I love it so and wanted to share today.

If you have a favorite letter, please let me know. I’d love to expand on my collection. In fact, I think we all should keep a collection of save worthy love letters – it reminds us of what we’re capable of doing, feeling and enduring.



A Social Experiment + The 2013 Etsy NY Holiday Handmade Cavalcade Goodie Bag

Over two months ago now, as I got ready for the 2013 Etsy NY Holiday Handmade Cavalcade, a request came from our team asking for donations for the goodie bags being given out to the first 100 shoppers between the two days of the event. Being my first Cavalcade, I was reluctant. The cost of doing two-days was adding up and it was only going to get more costly day of.  Donating to the goodie bag, seemed like just another expense. After a third request, however, I decided to join in and I’m glad I did.

I had no idea the amount of fans (and shoppers) who line up in advance and wait, no matter what the weather (snow last year!), to get their hands on these bags.  As was explained to me, those who get a goodie bag, get home and eagerly and slowly go through each piece inside looking at all the freebies and discounts offered.

My donation ended up being a bit of work (I don’t have a single picture of my donation!), which probably stopped 48 gift bag lovers from participating in my giveaway, but I’m glad I donated what I did.  My freebie piece included a small notebook paper size bag that included my business card, a discount card, and a postcard that read “Holiday Sugar” and had the word “sugar” glittered in red, one $.33 stamp (which at the time was the cost to mail a postcard), and a note that said the following:

“Hello there Handmade Shopper!

Thank you so much for attending this year’s Etsy NY Holiday Handmade Cavalcade! This is my first Cavalcade and I feel really fortunate to find myself amongst these incredibly talented artists and makers, but more to find my little bag of goodness in your hands.

Enclosed is a holiday card that I glittered by hand one cold night in November.  It is a postcard, which is why somewhere floating in this bag along with my business card and a discount coupon (expires February 1, 2014!!) is a $.33 cent stamp.  All you need to do is write a message either on front, or on the back of the card, address it and mail it off.  I figured if I give you the stamp, you might actually mail the card, even if you don’t mail out Holiday cards normally.

So here’s the challenge I’m presenting to you. Yes there’s a challenge!

I want to see how many of the 50 cards floating out there are actually mailed.  I’m asking that you go one step further and email me and let me know when you mailed it and where you mailed it to…was it domestic, in NYC, outside NYC, abroad-where?  You do not need to provide names or anything else.  Again, I just would love to track how far these cards go and find out how many actually used the stamp and found a mailbox or post office.

As for me…well, I’m just Sara, a woman who loves paper (I studied Japanese paper making this time last year), writing, and communicating with the people I love.  I don’t think we do enough real connecting any more. I also don’t think we know how to properly express ourselves.  It makes me sad. I’m trying to fix it. I figured I could use this little goodie as a social experiment and a way to get you writing this Holiday season.  Please let me know how it goes!

Yours in love & cheer!


I know that’s a lot, but that’s me. A rambling lover at heart and it’s better to be honestly me than try to be anything else.

My rambling way made some kind of a connection because I had two shoppers email me and let me know they received the postcard and mailed them off:

Hi Sara,
Just mailed your cute postcard yesterday to my sister in Iowa via my local post office in Jackson Heights, NY.  I can’t remember the last time I actually sent my sister anything by mail (I haven’t mailed Christmas cards in years).  I am sure she will be surprised!
Thanks for the lovely idea.
All the best,


Hi Sara,  

I am one of the recipients of your goodies in the NY holiday cavalcade market in Brooklyn. I was travelling from overseas last week when I came across the market and the goodie bag. Your card and stamp prompted me to write to a new friend I had made in DC.   I

am with you in thinking that we don’t express ourselves as well or as often these days as people used to, and as a great fan of snail mail I think this is a pity. I am not sure how long mail normally takes in the States but I’m hoping that the stamp was enough to get the card from New York to DC – I haven’t yet heard from him saying he received it (sent 4 days ago). Fingers crossed! 

Thank you for your card and for reigniting my love of snail mail. I hope you hear from many others confirming that your cards were circulated around the country.   


Those are real, unaltered, emails from people, whose full names I removed, who went along with my challenge. Both of these messages made my day when I received them.  Sure only 1% of the people who received the postcard contacted me to let me know they mailed it, but that’s still 1% or two people who made the effort and were grateful for the opportunity to write a message to a loved one and express their sentiment.

Naturally, I wish that more people had written in and contacted me, but I consider this a success. Knowing that two people, took advantage of an S2 design and sent out love is enough to remind me why I am doing what I’m doing and why I’m going all for broke doing it. If I can help more people feel this way, and reach out to loved ones with intentional communication, well then, that’s my legacy and its worth all costs, rambles and all.

On days like today, where I’m sitting thinking about how I quit my job and am really trying to make a go doing the things I love while my bank account dwindles, I read these messages and remember, this may be my fifth year, and I may be taking a risk, but the world needs some “holiday sugar.”

Speaking of holiday sugar…Friday, tomorrow, is Valentine’s Day. I wish you all a day full of intentional communication, or missives of love.  Happy Valentine’s Day. Happy Holiday Sugar!  Pick up a pen and get to writing! Please?

Wedding Season 2013

Wow. I am floored at how quickly time is moving these days, or rather this year. Last year, while I cried my way through the last four months, I had no idea that January would swing in, punch me back to reality, and leaving me paying more attention to every moment I have on this planet.

This blog has taken a bit of a turn. I haven’t written as much as I would like to, nor have I felt a need to write. I’ve been writing on other spaces, but writing more so on environmental concerns.  What brings me to write now, today, is that wedding season for me has ended. This year had me work on three sets of wedding invitations and all three had delivery dates a week apart.  Each set was different and required a different set of skill and time.

One set was the complete wedding stationery from the invite all the way to the table and seating cards at the wedding, along with programs, thank you cards (my gift to the couple), menus, table cards, and escort cards.

The second wedding only involved invitations and an RSVP post card, but required that I cut slots into the side of the third layer, to apply the top layer and hold it all together with a knot in the center.

The third wedding was the most simple, as it was two layers to assemble.

When I discuss custom wedding projects with a couple, I promise them that the final product will be exactly that, a final product. There will be no assembling on the couples part; all that will need to be done is invitations stuffed in envelopes, addresses added to envelopes, and a trip to the post office.  Yes, this means a ton of time is spent on actually assembling invitations, but that is the fun of my job. I love seeing a pile of finished invitations take shape as I keep making.

Of the three weddings, I attended two. The second wedding that involved the cut slots, I did not attend. They were strictly clients, who I would consider friends, especially after dog sitting their adorable little Chihuahua pup, Tootie, but I was not a guest.  Please note, I did not expect to be invited to that wedding.

The first wedding that I did attend, was in California. Temecula, California to be exact. It was directly in the desert and it was stunning. The couple, two very good friends of mine, asked me to do their wedding stationery the minute they got engaged. It spanned two countries: the US and Japan. They were in fact, one of the only people I skyped with while I was away. This wedding was the first I mentioned that I did all the pieces of the suite. It was breathtaking to be there for my two dear friends and not only share in their friendship and love, but be part of their day in more than one way.  When I sat at the table, across the pool from the married couple, and saw the menus, table cards, and escort cards, it was like a dream had come true. I know that sounds silly, but it was as if all of my love that transpired from my heart through my fingers and was surrounding their new beginning. That makes me sound like I’m full of myself, but I’m not. It’s actually quite a humbling feeling.

The second wedding, I did not attend, but I did check in with the couple two weeks before their wedding and they were overwhelmed, but excited. They told me they appreciated me checking in on them and would let me know how everything went. I look forward to hearing from them.

Finally, the third wedding, I attended. It was held October 26th, in gorgeous Lake George, New York. It was the wedding of my former roommate (I live alone now) and her then boyfriend, now husband. They are an amazing couple. My former roommate is in fact one of my favorite people ever.  The invitation process was particularly difficult for me because my former roommate isn’t your typical female. She’s a guys girl. She gets dressed up, but she is so far from Diva it is refreshing. I knew she wanted natural, but I wasn’t sure if she was going the formal or informal route. In the end, her wedding was stunning and the invitations I created for them, her husband had quite a bit to say about the paper, fit the day and evening to a T.

It was at this third wedding that I splurged. I was able to spend the weekend in a gorgeous room in a quaint and romantic bed and breakfast overlooking the Lake. I slept well, partied with dear friends, and got to see a part of New York that I had never seen as an adult. It was truly magical and the perfect way to end a year of work on weddings that stretched my creative ability, taught me something new (I learned about foiling!), and showed me just how much I love working on wedding stationery.

Below is a gallery of photos of the three different wedding invitations so you can see how different they all turned out to be. I also included a few photos from the two events I went to. I don’t take many pictures any more at weddings. I decided at the wedding in California that I wanted to just be in that moment. Photos would definitely help me remember the day and night, but they wouldn’t exactly take me back to how the moon looked, or how fascinating it was to see the peacocks moving about above and around us.

On a different note, things are picking up for me as of late and I’m really excited to see what 2014 brings. As a matter of fact, I’m hoping to do more than three wedding invitation sets next year. Maybe you’ll help me? If you know anyone looking for custom wedding stationery, please send them my way! More details on a program I am launching to acknowledge your help, soon…

Valentine’s Day Eve 2013 = The 2013 Love Mix

In February 2007, I made my first edition of the Love Mix. I put it together as a gift to female friends of mine who didn’t have boyfriends or husbands or any one to give them chocolates and flowers. I thought that by giving a CD full of songs about love, they’d dance around and feel the magic and power of curated love songs picked just for them. It was a fun project and now, seven Valentine’s Day later, I’m still making them.

The difference between the first year and this year is that the emotion behind them is not just to make these friends (now I send it to a few men as well as women) feel better, it tells the story of love. In most cases it tells the story of my love in my life.  There have been years where the mixes are full on poppy and full of light and then there are years where the mixes aren’t. I try to incorporate “world music” as well as American music in every mix, and of course there is always the possibility of more somber indie music over rap and hip hop, but every once in a while a hip hop song makes its way onto the mix. In other words, every mix is crafted with care and with what I hope is a fluidity that shows how fluid and full of care love is and should be.

This year, I mixed the mix while freezing my buns off in Echizen, Japan. As I shared with my friends via email today (I shared the mix as a Spotify Playlist rather than in CD form for the first time), one of the first songs that pieced together the mix was Sheryl Crow’s “Strong Enough.” I’ll never forget my nightly 10 minute walk from the cafe near the center of Echizen village up the small hill to the house I was staying at, but I’ll never forget the night that song came on and I just started balling my eyes out as I connected on such a deep level to the words. That night, began the process of selecting the 20 songs that make up the hour long annual mix of love.

This year’s mix is personal. Extremely personal. It combines emotions I’ve experienced over the past six months: loss, hurt, fragility, strength, love, desire, passion, jealousy, doubt, confusion, forgiveness, persistence, craziness, stupidity, understanding, fear, and courage. Even more importantly, it shares faith. In my last posts, I talked about signs and that element during my trip to Japan. One of the greatest lessons of those signs was faith; the ability to believe no matter what. I’ve always believed in the Universe, coincidence, the power of energy, fate, and even the magic of the “Gods”, but it wasn’t until Japan that I began to understand that they were with me every step of the way, even when I felt the most lost.

The first version of this mix was in fact somber. It included songs like Sinead oConnor’s version of “Nothing Compares to You” and Sarah McLachlan’s “Adia”, but then something switched. It may have been that I only have 80 minutes on a disc, but I started hearing other songs like Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” and I remembered how in those cold nights, I too had a turning point. I went from feeling like things were never going to change, that I was going to be stuck feeling that miserable and lost, to understanding that the powers that be, the Universe, and the spirits known as my dad and grandmother were urging me to think differently, to believe in them and that things do and will turn around.

I’ve said before that I don’t expect people to believe my experience. I do believe that people need to have their own experience to understand such a spiritual enlightenment, even though it is trendy to read and believe experiences like this. I mean, honestly, how many times did people tell me before I left, “Oh, you’re off to have your own “Eat, Pray, Love” journey. Part of me was bothered by this because Ms. Gilbert’s experience was much different than my experience, even if we both learned to believe in the end.

With that belief, I put together a mix that ranges in all emotions, but in the end asks to have faith. Not necessarily a religious faith, but a faith in yourself, in the power of love, and in the power of other people, no matter what happens. A tall order, yes, but one that can be done.

I share all of this because I’ve read a few articles today about taking back Valentine’s Day and turning it into Generosity Day, or as Anne Lamott put it, “Occupy Valentine’s Day” and I agree, even though I’m in the industry that wants you to share love and spread love and spend money via cards, chocolates, and other notions of ridiculous.  As I told one friend today, I’d like to believe that seven years ago when I started making these mixes, I started the movement for Generosity Day, or “Occupy Valentine’s Day” when I was making mixes to share with single females so they knew that no matter what, they were loved and thought about and remembered on what could be, and I’m sure is, for many a day of despair and loneliness.

With that said, if you’re interested in hearing the 2013 Love Mix and wanting to be part of it, you can hear it on Spotify. If you have any thoughts, or songs that I should consider for the future, please share them in the comments. I’m always looking for a good love tune! More importantly though, if you do give a listen, I hope you feel inspired by love, regardless of the emotions. Love is fabulous and freeing and amazing. I hope you also feel the love I’m sharing through the openness of this experience. I don’t want your thoughts on my issues, I just want you to feel whatever you feel and maybe be inspired.

Oh, and before I forget, let me share the quote that gives the feel the this year’s Mix, it’s a favorite of mine from Paulo Coelho’s book, “The Alchemist”:

“If what one finds is made of pure matter,
it will never spoil.
And one can always come back.
If what you had found was only a moment of light,
like the explosion of a star, you would find nothing
on your return.”

Happy Valentine’s Day Eve!

“Everyone is Going to Love You”

In 2008, I read “Eat, Pray, Love” and I loved some parts, like her stay in Italy, and hated other parts, when she found herself hating the life she had chosen. I was just about to be 28 when I read the book and was still young and full of strong ideas that would stay firm until my father passed away unexpectedly the following February. I thought Liz Gilbert was whiny and annoying and lost. But I loved her love for travel and her bravery to go out and find herself.

This past Saturday night, October 13, 2012, I found myself in a few gay bars in Tokyo, Japan celebrating the birthday of a dear friend. The birthday party was selected for this past Saturday because I’d be here and it would allow me to celebrate with my good friend’s friends and enjoy a night out in Tokyo. I am so glad that I was part of the festivities because it was a ton of fun and I got to see another layer of this amazingly interesting city known as Tokyo.

So what’s the connection between the party on Saturday night and “Eat, Pray, Love?”

Well, I left New York City heartbroken, and I still am, but am managing better over all. Leading up to my leaving, I was questioning lots of things: my life purpose, my ideas of love and my future. I was having a complete existential breakdown. What is my purpose and point? Why have I not made more money? Why am I just floundering? Much like Liz, I find myself crying and wondering and seeking something, anything that will remind me of who and what I am.

See, I know my worth and value deep down inside. I’ve just become cloudy. I know that what Mamy said to me that day about having a good feeling about me because I’m a good girl with a clean heart is accurate. Even with my bitchy side and my lack of compassion (mostly to myself), I have a good heart. I want to save the world. And I know that I can. I just can’t jump. Or I’ve felt like I couldn’t jump. Yet, I’ve jumped! I’m in freaking Tokyo, Japan. I’ve jumped, people! Sara, please note that you’ve jumped, because your entire little world of friends and connections and loved ones are watching you with awe and amazement.

And yet that awe and amazement terrifies me! It’s that moment that I had in Istanbul when I seriously might not have gotten on the plane to Moscow. What if I fail? Yes, at least I tried, but what if I seriously failed?!

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know I’m strong. It’s why my judgements and opinions are so strong. It’s why I don’t always believe in the gray. It’s why I have a strong opinion on depression. I believe that WE have the ability to change things. At the end of the day, we change things. We make decisions and we create change.

Yet, deep down, deep down, I struggle.  It’s a hidden struggle, I think, because I am not necessarily putting out the vibe of heartbroken, uncertain and sad woman. The reality is that I’ve been this way for three years. What led to this point is that I have been looking for something to fix me after my dad’s death. Nobody but myself can fix me, especially when it comes to dealing with my dad’s death.

In regards to seeming normal, I’m talking about my trip and my life when I’m out and laughing.  You’d almost guess that there is nothing wrong. And maybe in that the Universe can sense that I need reminders. I have experienced more love than I could ever have imagined or hope to experience in the last two weeks. And it terrifies me that at nearly 32 years old, I need a love boost, but it is what I’ve most needed and what I am the most grateful. It started over two weeks ago when one of my best friends surprised me by appearing at my going away party in New York all the way from Chicago. Talk about surprises! It included two very good friends driving in from New Jersey and one from the Bronx. All four of these individuals surprised me and I hadn’t seen them in months, one in over a year.

Saturday night, we were outside drinking and across the street from the bar there was a store that said, “I am here” and then on top of that “Impact.” I looked at it and said, “yes, Sara, you most definitely are here and will most definitely make an impact. Don’t think about it or question it, just know that that is where your heart is going.”

This came on the heels of sitting in a cab with one of my friend’s friends who turned to me in his drunk state and said, “I really think you coming to Japan to study paper making is brave and everyone is going to love you! They just are!” All of my friend’s friends that night expressed an interest in seeing me again and one even said, “you don’t want to stay in the country the entire time. You should come back so we can hang out.”  Another friend as he got ready to leave grabbed my hand and said, “I am so glad I met you. You are a good person, I know it and I will buy your product one day. I know that, too!” All of these conversations warmed my heart and gave me a jolt of the Sara of before and of the Sara that will be after this journey.

In one of the best moments of the evening, as I annoyingly looked up at the TV playing a Drake and Lil’ Wayne music video, this Japanese guy, who was cute, walked passed me and as he passed said, “hi. you’re really pretty” and then walked along to his seat. My friend, Mark, had told me that hiding out in Japan would be perfect for me because Japanese men aren’t the most aggressive and I wasn’t going to deal with what I did in Turkey. I’m kind of glad that that one guy, whether he was gay or not, complimented me. It seems kind of silly and shallow that being told “you’re pretty” from a stranger at a bar would mean something, but it was about the moment. It was about being surrounded by some fabulous gay men in a country I will call home for two months and am still getting a hang of and realizing “I am here.” Those moments matter more than I really have ever credit them. Alas, not any more, it’s part of trusting the process.

The Universe does speak.

Arigatou gozaimashita.

P.S. I am leaving in a few short hours by bus to the next leg of the trip: Echizen, Japan in Fukui Prefecture. I’ll arrive early tomorrow morning and the paper making adventure begins. Stay tuned!



I wrote this blog title the other day and all of a sudden remembered the Rodney Dangerfield movie by the same name. Hahaha. Rodney Dangerfield. That just goes to show you how much comedy is infused in my life and why I support the amazing and incredibly talented Erin Conroy, friend and comedian extraordinaire!

I’ve digressed, forgive me. I have been seeing ladybugs the past couple of weeks. I even bought a ladybug backpack as a gift for a friend that recently had a baby girl.

When I was a kid, I remember being told that ladybugs mean good luck. They were the only bug I allowed myself to like as a child. Although, I was fascinated by worms, but I still disliked them as a whole. I think it had something to do with growing up in NYC with roaches. ICK!

Anyway, ladybugs and snow took on completely different meanings in February 1992.  My paternal grandmother, Germaine, also known as Frenchy, passed away that year. I was 11, not yet 12 and whereas I had spent very little time that I can remember with her as a small child, I spent the last six months of her life with her living in my room. She passed away in the hospital, but prior to that she slept in my room. I remember talking to her before and after school. I remember the spider she killed with her bare finger-the spot remaining on that wall until we moved out. I remember talking to her about my French studies in school and about how much I loved the Disney movie “Beauty and the Beast” (it is my favorite Disney movie).  I remember her commenting on how many times I had seen the movie (5!).  And most importantly, I remember her enjoying her final days while staying in my room. It really taught me the importance of compassion.

I wish I had asked her so many questions- about why she never wanted to go back to France, or about her brother and father and mother-all individuals I know nothing about. I wish I had asked her to help me get to France, because I’ve always wanted to live there. I wish I had asked her a million questions and yet, I was 11, I didn’t know. We had just moved to Cleveland Heights, Ohio from Brooklyn, NY and I was busy dealing with the change of being an awkward pre-teen in a new city and school.

It’s been 20 years since she passed, which is incredible to think about. It’s funny how things change over time. For example, I don’t remember thinking much about her as a teenager or young adult. I mean, I did and we always had pictures of her up in our home and we talked about her, but as time goes on, the pain of death lessens. It never goes away, and I think children handle it differently, but I never grew up pained by my grandmother(s) deaths (they died the same year, two months apart from cancer). I knew they were in pain and it was their time to leave. I definitely missed seeing them and being held by them, but it wasn’t the way I feel now as I deal with my father’s death.

So this is where the ladybugs come in. Apparently, ladybugs were my grandmother’s favorite. It became a thing in our family to say that whenever a ladybug appears, it’s really grandma giving us a sign that things are okay. I know some of you may be thinking, “this is nothing but mysticism hogwash, “but as I’ve gotten older I’ve begun to realize just how real this connection is.

Since my own father passed away in 2009, I have been seeing ladybugs when my life is a huge crux-when I have decisions to make, or plans to change. For example, in 2009, after walking around the city of Naples, Italy, I went to Castel Nuovo, a castle and started taking pictures of the water and sites in the distance. As I wandered around the top, I came to a glass map and discovered three ladybugs all together.

I cried for about 30 minutes. I took pictures of them, or tried to, I could really only get one at a time, but the entire time I kept thinking, “You’re happy I’m here. This is where I am supposed to be.”

It would be a few days later, almost five, where I would have the dream that planted the seed for S2 Stationery and Design and well, now the rest is history.

A year later, the ladybugs would take over my kitchen in Astoria, New York, as I got ready to move out of my apartment of 3.5 years and away from the guy who had been one of my best friends and roommate at the time into an apartment in Manhattan. I was stressed and frantic with worry because I was also in route to Cape Town, South Africa for an environmental volunteer research expedition through the Earthwatch Institute and was going to come home and have to move.   I was nervous about leaving the dog, who I had fallen in love with and about the change that was about to take place. It was huge and frightening.

Yet, in all that fear, ladybugs started taking over my kitchen. There were five total on certain days. For two weeks, until I moved out of the apartment completely, they were there. I’d see either all five, or one. As soon as they appeared, I knew that I was making the right choice; that this change was not anything to fear and that much like in Naples, Italy that day, I was being surrounded by love and light from my ancestors.

As I move back into today, Tuesday, 2012, nearly two years later, I’m getting ready to make a big decision and some moves and so the ladybug backpack that I’ve bought aside, I’m taking all the signs of ladybugs I’ve been seeing, like the guy on the train last Friday who wore a bejeweled ladybug hat, that I’m moving in the right direction.

So yeah. Whatever you believe in as your luck, believe it wholeheartedly. You never know when it will appear, but when it appears, never doubt that it means something good is on it’s way.

Thank you, Frenchy, for believing in me now; I need it, as you already know.