Sunday, June 21, 2015

Track 5

"Consider the Lilies" by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Today is Father's Day and I think it only appropriate that I write about my father today. It will be a little different, but this was tradition in my home growing up. I'm going to write a letter.

Dear Dad,

There are so many things I want to tell you right now and they're all jumbled up. Normally words just flow out of my mind, through my fingers and onto a screen or page, but for some reason, I am having a hard time formulating what I want to say. First off, how can it already be almost eight years since I've heard your voice. It was eight years ago today that I sang this song for you in sacrament meeting. Your cancer was back and you knew that you probably weren't going to go into remission again. You asked me to sing this at your funeral. I said no. I hated funerals by that point. But I said I would sing it for you on Father's Day. I remember being up on the stand. I can't even remember if I was part of the Prosser ward anymore or not, but it didn't will always be my ward. I remember exactly where you were sitting. In the back on the chairs in the overflow to the left when I looked out. Whenever I have sung in church, I always said a prayer before that my performance would not be for my praise but to be able to touch whoever needed to hear my voice and the words I was singing. I don't remember every single note that went on with the song, but I remember when I got to the part about healing, my voice was soft and I just looked out at you. I knew you weren't going to get better. But I am so glad I was able to give you that gift of my song for you on that Father's Day.

I was telling stories about you the other day. You were such a good daddy. I loved it when you would
come home from work and run around the kitchen and living room while "Chariots of Fire" was being hummed. I loved how you would kiss mom. Thank you for loving mom so completely. Yes, it was icky, but it taught me that I want that kind of long lasting love and romance. I loved how you would give us piggy back rides and "bucks". I loved how you taught us how to work. Whether it be in the home or in a profession. I love how you carried the same scripture set your entire life, well from your mission on. I use a phone now, if you can believe it. It has everything in 3x6 inch small device. I wonder if you would have changed over. You loved technology, so I bet you would have. I'm glad I'll never know.

I loved how quiet you were. I loved that your personality was almost a secret except to those who
were closest to you. You were so funny. I like to think I got my quirky sense of humor from you. And only those closest to me really get to know it. You and mom raised a really, really good family. The relationships we have now are amazing. Everyone of them are my best friends. When one is in trouble, we circle around them and make sure they know we are here, being a support and carrying them until they are able to stand on their own again. I've felt that before myself before. It is a gift beyond measure.

Thank you for never taking your responsibly as a father lightly.

That night, "Consider the Lilies" was the song you passed through the veil to. I remember holding your hand, wanting to stay connected to you for as long as I could. I had never seen anyone die before. It is not like the movies at all. It is much more sacred. When it is someone you have loved since the day you were born, it is heart wrenching. It stays with you. You were healed in that moment. You left your broken body behind and became a force for good in my life. I grieved, of course, I grieved and I know you know, but my life fell apart for awhile. But I also can't imagine there was ever a moment where you doubted I would right myself and come back stronger. And I did! With the help of so many people. You know, that whole circle around me thing.

Dad, I love you.
I cannot wait to see you again.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Track 4

"New York State of Mind" by Billy Joel

I don't know why yesterday's post left a bad taste in my mouth, but it did, so I am doing something I've never done before: write two posts in two days! Let's just move right into a fun time in my life: traveling! Back in 2008-9 the travel bug bit me. I had always enjoyed travel, but never really did it. It
wasn't something that was a big part of my growing up years. We only had one big family vacation and that was to Yellowstone. I have the awesome white stretch pants pictures somewhere here.... Hmmm...I can't find any Yellowstone pictures, but I do have this one from the same summer (1991)!

It's almost the same. Plus, you get to see how cute Ronald McDonald was. Or me and my siblings. Also, if any of my siblings have pictures of that Yellowstone trip, feel free to post some in the Facebook comments. Ha!

Let's fast forward to 2009: Hawaii. I had planned a trip with my friend, Rachel, to Oahu. 10 days on the North Shore in a beach house. I had never been so far away before and even though it is part of the United States, it seemed like half a world away. To say I was excited was an understatement. After it was all planned, my brother, Michael, decided to move to Hawaii, the same island, the same side of said island. So, instead of my vacation being great, it turned out to be freaking awesome! I spent half the time at the beach house and half the time with my brother and his family (seriously...I miss you guys and yes, that may be a little guilt I'm laying down there to move back to the mainland, but no pressure).

Since Hawaii is so beautiful, I've decided to just do a visual tour of it. Enjoy....

One of my goals was to get a picture with all of the "hot" guys at the PCC. Yes, I did use my nieces shamelessly for this purpose. I, that's what I mean. ;)
I also used my sister-in-law. She was game. Even though there are women in this picture, you see how I am strategically next to the man.
We had way too much aunt fun that day. I let them get tattoos and everything!

Dole Plantation. Yuuuuummmmmmm. I would go back just for that ice cream.

If you are wondering what I look like just after I wake up...with a crown you go. I turned 29 for the first time!

The Epic Battle of Katrina and Stefanie Against the Coconut. I have not laughed so hard ever. Who knew it was so hard to crack a coconut? We tried the traditional way, then we decided we had to go outside and try to hit it against random things. Finally, finally, we whacked it open. And it was rotten. 

I love these girls!!!!! Also, travel tip to those not used to humid weather: wear skirts. So much cooler.

This is one of my favorite pictures I took. The sunsets were amazing. The sky felt like you could touch it.

Hawaii will always be special to me. It felt like I was on another planet away from any cares I had at the time. I loved it so much that I decided to go to the opposite side of the country the next year! Bring on....New York! And New Jersey and Minnesota...but we won't really talk about those two. 

New York is big. Really big. This is from the top of the Empire State Building. No, in case you were wondering, my true love did not meet me up there.

So many beautiful bridges connect Manhattan to the rest of the city.

The "reason" I came to New York. BEA!

Can I say enough about the food of New York? It was glorious. If anyone decides to go, make sure to take advantage of the luxurious culinary scene there.

Next time I go, I'll have to actually visit that place. I hear it's historical or something like that. Thanks France!

I just came from New Jersey. This is the only picture I have of that day.


Still so much remembrance and respect there for the heroes of 9/11. 

One of the coolest places I visited. This was an old church that had been turned into a strip mall of shops. You might think this was slightly sacrilegious, but it completely captured the spirit of the New Yorkers.

Brooklyn Bridge. Another place I'm so glad I walked across. Also, you may notice my tennis shoes in this picture (stop looking at how I posed the same way as the New Jersey picture above). I bought what I thought were comfortable, yet stylish shoes to walk New York. By the end of the first day, I had blisters where I didn't know you could get blisters. Okay, they were on my feet, which is an obvious place to get blisters, but painful nonetheless. My hurt won out against my desire to be stylish in NY. shoes after the first day. But look! The Brooklyn Bridge. 

I knew Manhattan had a Temple, but I had no idea where it was. NY was so big! As I reached the top of the Brooklyn Bridge, there it was. Like a light of hope in this huge city. I loved it.

New York had amazing nature thrown into small pockets around the Burroughs. Oh, and Central Park. This was in Brooklyn.

You may be wondering why I picked "New York State of Mind". Why are you wondering, Imaginary Cyberspace Friend? It's New York. Oh...why not a Hawaiian song? Because Billy Joel is awesome. There's almost nothing sexier than a man playing the piano. And IZ just didn't play the piano well enough ;). 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Track 3

"Unfinished Songs" by Celine Dion

This next song has been a tough one to crack. If I am going backwards in my life, this would bring me to working out. I have so many songs that could fit the bill. There's one that I had decided on, "4 Minutes" by Madonna and Justin Timberlake, but the video wasn't exactly what I wanted on my blog...not that I'm a prude or anything but I cringed when I saw the bodies melting away, But here's the real problem: I have had so many other thoughts lately that don't correspond with a workout track that I haven't been inspired. How can I skip this most important part of my life? This is when I learned everything I have ever wanted to know about the human body and why I am like I am.

Why would I skip it?

 I think it comes down to the fact that remembering that part of my life leads to unsettling thoughts in my current life where I am not as physically active, and I eat out, and I drink soda, and I have completely undermined everything I learned and accomplished. Here is the thing: when I was working out and eating right and all of the good things for my body...that is all I did. I would work out almost everyday, sometimes twice a day. I read books and blogs and articles about health. I decided then to make it my life's journey. It completely consumed my life and, as soon as I focused on anything else, my health would slip. It seemed as if I wanted to even maintain my current svelte body, it was the only thing I could do. There was no energy to do anything else. You know, besides the basics of work and religion.

I realized this on my way back to Utah yesterday. I had to drive 10 hours alone, something I usually enjoy, but yesterday was rough. The thinking part was rough, I should say. As I contemplated that time in my life, in anticipation of writing this, and coming to the above realization, I started to cry. I don't think I ever grieved over the loss of my work. I've realized some great things about my life and about my journey here on this earth, but, in order to do that, I sacrificed my physical health. If you go back to my Four Pillars (blog, I've been spending the greater part of these almost two years trying to accomplish them. I thought for sure that the physical pillar was the thing that was wrong. How could it not? But then, if you read it, gaining weight was a manifestation of something else going on in my life. I still work out. All of the time. But weight was not coming off.

 One thing I learned the first time was there is always a cause of your weight gain. If it is medical, that's an easy one to figure out (and yes, getting older is a medical condition ;-)). If it is emotional, then, that could be more difficult to sort out. Bear with me, Imaginary Cyberspace Friend, this is about to blow your mind. If the emotional or mental pillar is out of whack, I gain weight. There is no other way my body knows how to respond. This will be great for the Zombie Apocalypse when I need this genetic ability, but right But I've conquered this before. I won. I figured out the way my body reacts. I know ways to combat this, such as focusing solely on my health. This past year of taking off school was supposed to be the year to do that. Things got in the way. I put it off. Stressors entered my life. Then, I decided it was time to date.

And here is the mind blowing part: I need my future husband to fall in love with this body. More to the point: I need my future husband to see past this mortal, fragile, always changing body and see everything else I have to offer. When I was thin and tall and gorgeous (I'm still tall and gorgeous), lust was all men sought me for. It's a very "used up" feeling to deal with. It is also something I will not stand for anymore. Here's another thing I don't do anymore: compete in the dating world. I know this doesn't have anything to do with my workout track, but's my blog. I don't see a husband and a wedding as winning some sort of prize. I will date, and I will show men my charming, funny, charismatic personality. I will make time for another person. But I will not compete for his attention among other women whom he chooses to pursue. I will politely thank him for his time and move on. Now, this isn't to say I won't give him plenty of chances to realize how amazing I am because I will. And I will make him a top priority/concern in my life. I was talking with my mother about dating this past week and we both came to the same conclusion that while we both want(ed) marriages (she's remarried), we have never been in the position of needing them. Heck, if I was only waiting around for a man, my life would suuuuuck. I've been able to do so many great, fantastic things! And I've been able to know myself so much better, as an individual.

That being said: I'm ready to move on. Where this takes me, I don't know. But I'm excited for the ride.

This track doesn't fall in the timeline of when I started working out, but it's on my current workout list. It reminds me that while I was busy waiting for the "best part to come along" I wrote, I dreamed, I played, I loved, I built, I gained, I lost, I lived. Also...Celine Dion.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Track 2

"As You Turn Away" by Lady Antebellum

I figured I should probably choose a semi-country song for my track on dating. When I first started contemplating what I would say about this topic, I went through (and discarded) many ideas. One was doing a sad post then a happy post using two songs, but as I tried to formulate what and who I would include in each, I realized that each dating experience I've had has been both happy AND sad. They have all ended. This was usually sad. On the flip side, I usually had a great time until that point. Usually. I'm getting ahead of myself, though.

Because dating has been a part of my life for so long, this post will only include my dating here in Utah. Trust me, there's not much to say before that, although I am sure it will leak into posts as I go further back.

First, a few pictures:

I came down to Utah looking like this. Hot. Or hawt as they say now. I knew it. I wasn't one of those women who downplayed her beauty. Every advantage I could take, I did. I had finally gotten the weight thing taken care of (haha) and was ready to take on the world. Here is what separated me from the usual beautiful woman...I didn't tell anyone I knew or was aware of this or act like the typical "hot" girl. I don't act bratty or like I'm owed anything. I fully expected to work at a relationship and not have everything given to me. But, I mean, look, I'm hot.

Okay, okay...I know what you must be thinking, Imaginary Cyberspace Friend: Really? I'm so totally not going to read anymore because it's obvious she's completely full of herself. Well, ask any of the men I've dated and they will tell you that I've never acted like a diva or like a drama-filled, you're so lucky I'm with you type of person (they didn't know how lucky, though....) That brings us to the meat of this post: The boys, er, ummm, men. I'm not going to mention any names because I don't do that. Most of it won't be even super specific because of the personal nature of dating, especially stories of those you are no longer dating. Also, a disclaimer: I spend most of my nights alone, with my TV or studies when I am in school, so please don't think these experiences are typical, especially now. I have also only had two legitimate boyfriends since being here. But

The first man I met when I was down here turned out to be a flop. We had been communicating since before I moved and our match online was 99%. We both had degrees at BYU in History. We both had jobs that didn't use that degree at all (seriously...why did I get that degree?). Everything on paper said we should be together. We went out once. Meh. We went out again. No sparks. But! I don't give up. I never have. We went out a third time because 99%!! By the end of that date I knew I would be calling him and telling him that there was no chemistry and no more dates. He agreed. So, no hard feelings. Before that experience, I thought that I could just make any LDS relationship work with hard work and determination even if there was no chemistry. I was a staunch believer in that old LDS saying/myth that any man and any woman could get married regardless of personality and circumstances. Untruth. Not true. No. Especially in this time we are living.

I've just written, then deleted a paragraph about the next one. Still doesn't need to be shared and probably never will. I think of the sport of running whenever I think of this guy. And not in a good way.

I went on several more dates. At this point I had something lined up most nights of the week. There was a day when I had two dates. Before work. In the same complex...opposite sides. I was getting goooood at this.

But still no real connection.

Until I noticed a boy who kept looking at my profile. He didn't send me a message, though, which was odd. I thought he was pretty cute, so I tried to send him a little nudge in the form of a wink. Instead I somehow sent him a blank message. I got back a really long response. We started chatting, then talking on the phone, then he asked me out. This is still my favorite date of all time, so I'm going to tell you about it. It started out with him coming to pick me up and driving me to an unknown destination. We were at a stop light when I looked over at a flier for ice skating and said out loud that I have never been, nor do I ever want to go ice skating. He got really quiet. And then told me that was where we were going. I felt so bad! We get there and tie our skates up. Mine are super tight, but I don't want to tell this man I don't know how big my feet really are, so I just deal with it. Since I'd never been before, and I did not trust my balance, I clung to the wall for one rotation. One. Then, I got off the rink grateful to still have unbroken bones and all my teeth (seriously afraid of it for some reason). We ended up sitting on the side where he told me he wanted to take me ice skating because I would be forced to hold his hand. And as he told me this, he took my hand. We didn't let go for 13 more hours. We ate, we met part of his family, then, not wanting the date to end, he drove me up the mountain. It was still winter at this point and, not being from Utah, I was slightly scared, but he told me to look up at the stars and we would be safe. We arrived at the top, above the clouds, snow all around us. We got out and, in the light of the stars, I let him kiss me. I truly believe that if cameras had been there it would have been as good of a kiss as any you see on the big screen. No, better because it was mine. He kissed my forehead, then each eyelid, then each cheek, then finally my lips in a perfect snow covered mountaintop kiss.

And I was gone.

Then, a cop showed up. Haha.

I will never say anything bad about this man. He was never anything but kind, thoughtful and honest with me. I loved him as a boyfriend, but I loved him even more as a friend. And that is eventually what we became. Best...friends. The day he broke up with me, I knew it was coming. I had been crying almost everyday because I wanted this to work so much but I knew, I knew it wasn't right. And I couldn't make it last no matter how kind I was. No matter how thoughtful I was. No matter how great a girlfriend I was or boyfriend he just wasn't right. And fighting against that was making both of us miserable.

After that I took the appropriate amount of time to grieve, got myself back into fighting shape and, six months later, I was back in the game. It was different this time because I was different. I knew what love looked like. I also started school at this point, so I really didn't have time to waste on dates every night of the week or with men who only wanted to hook up. You might think that making out hook-ups would be the way to go with time constraints, but contrary to a belief that somehow took hold about me within some of my circles, I never kiss with a man that I don't have intentions of pursuing. Or that has pursued me. It was never not a personal thing. And I didn't have time or desire to feel bad about myself.

My next boyfriend really doesn't even deserve a whole paragraph. He was a liar, cheater, and I let him break my faith in men for a long time. He doesn't deserve that honor of being a part of my dating past. But he is, unfortunately.

I've had a hard time letting go of most of the men I've seriously been interested in. They all had qualities I wanted in a husband and father and this was not a bad all. I am not ashamed of the choices I made, the men I dated or loved. I don't like some of them anymore, but that's from choices made after we started dating.

I still hold out the hope that one day I will be able to add to this track list a love song that doesn't end. But until then....enjoy the bitter-sweetness.  

Monday, April 20, 2015

Track 1

Here is the first post to my series of Soundtrack to Stefanie's Sometimes Awesome Life! Yes, that title is a work in progress, and I fully expect it to evolve as this process evolves. Because let's face it: Soundtrack to Stefanie's Sometimes Awesome Life isn't a great title. And this title has to be GREAT! Stefanie's Experiment at Writing Consistently? No. Stefanie's Soundtrack to Times in Her Life that Deserved a Song to Go Along with It? Hmmm...I think that might be too long. Anyways. Let's keep that on the back burner for right now, okay, Imaginary Cyberspace Friend?

I'm going to introduce this now. Yes, a proper introduction. About a week ago, I was watching a movie and the soundtrack was awesome. Not only the lyrical songs but the instrumental ones as well. The movie was okay. Afterwards, as I was driving home, listening to the radio, I imagined that as I was driving, what would be my theme song for that moment? Would it be sweeping? Would it be fun? Would it be popular? Would it be an obscure track (you know, that was made popular because it was in my movie)? This isn't the first or second or third time I've thought this as I drive along. Then, the thought struck me: I should actually make a soundtrack of my life. A soundtrack of songs that have not only meaning to my life, but that represent aspects of my personality and experiences. Over this past week I have been mulling over songs and how I would represent myself on the soundtrack. Would I write about why I chose the song? Would I just lay out a scene that would be unfolding while the song played in the background? Would I try to pull classical songs so I could impress the more, uh, academically minded crowd of one or two people who will read this? Here's a foreshadow for you: There will be at least one classical song on this soundtrack because that was a big part of my teen years. I might even sing it myself (probably not, so stop getting excited to hear me sing again). But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Here's how I decided it will work: I'm going to start from the end and work my way to the beginning. The beginning will take much more research because it is further away in my memory than say the past few years. Some songs will have YouTube videos attached to it of the song. Some won't. This first one is an experiment, so they may not all follow this first formula. I hope they don't. It'll be more fun that me.

So, without further explanation or adieu, I give you Track 1:

"Fight Song" by Rachel Platten

This is currently the theme song to my life. Go ahead and give it a listen if you don't recognize it. These past few months have been interesting. When I first moved to Utah, I came with the express intent of being a change in the world. And the way to do that was helping to change other people's lives. It was liberating and exhilarating and helped me rise to my potential if only for a moment. To put another's interests and eternal well-being ahead of my own was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I was a force for good. And there are several examples I could give you of that good force (seriously not just is what it is). But as we all know, I crashed after a couple of years. For some reason, I lost that purpose and that fire and the force was gone. I fell into the mentality of "I have helped so and so and so...when is it my turn?" I questioned my purpose in this life. I wavered. This world teaches us that if we put good out then good will come to us. Karma. I wasn't feeling it. I had decided that if I was going to be this force for good, then the only thing that would be good enough for repayment would be a husband and family of my own. read the blog. How is that going? Here's the thing: I cannot tell God what my reward will be. I cannot tell Him to give me anything. It is not my place nor my responsibility to make demands of Him. I didn't truly realize this until recently. It took a year of being whiny and butt hurt to push me into two years of regaining this power inside of me. This force for good. I am that small boat but I know (I know!) that one person has the capacity for such good things in this world by just saying a word, sharing an experience and living what she believes. So, stop worrying about me. I'm back. I'm strong. I'm also going to try really, really, really hard to not look for rewards this time.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Two Thinks

I wanted to do this on Valentine's Day but I was in the middle of a long work week, so I didn't think I would have the emotional energy to complete this. I still don't know, but I wanted to do something different. I know, I know...I'm so consistent with this blog. Ha! I have been thinking so many thinks lately that I knew it was time for a blog entry. First off: I've been working out consistently...for three whole weeks! I got over the hump of feeling like I had never worked out before about a week ago and I feel AWESOME! Okay. That was the first think. But I've written about that before. Onto think number two.

The second think is probably the bulk of my thinks lately. As I look forward to future relationships, I often think about past ones. I use them to see what I did, and what I need to do differently to perhaps make the next one more successful (and maybe the last one I ever have! Haha...). Wait a second, Imaginary Cyberspace Friend, are you thinking what I'm thinking? Why are you writing about boys and relationships again, Stefanie? Haven't you beaten this to a pulp, yet? Haven't you scared enough potential mates away with your words? And that, my Friend, is what my think is: words. How they are said are often how they are taken. How, as in the format: talking face to face, over the phone, texting, email, etc. 

I think back to one relationship I had. I fell deeply in love with this man. There was great potential for more than it was (please don't think I regret that it ended because that was the right thing). The problem that eventually surfaced was words...or lack of them. I never said, out loud, that I loved this man. In my heart...I did! I wanted to say it so many times, but I didn't. The whole time. Because here is how I communicate my deepest feelings and thoughts: written words. If I have ever written you a letter that expressed more than just "hey, what up?" that means you are so special to me. Most times I thought for days about what I was going to write. Sometimes, it was spontaneous. As a child, I had a speech impediment that made me stumble over my words. Especially if I had to read out loud in a group. So, I sang instead of talked in church (good thing I have an awesome voice). While I don't have that problem today, as a consequence of this, I much prefer writing how I feel to expressing it vocally. So, I wrote love letters to this boy. I would write long emails to other men I was interested in or dating. I would talk for hours about any everyday thing, but when it came to the deep things, like love, I have always thought that I best expressed myself through written words. Well, during the exit interview of this relationship (so businesslike, I know), I found out that he never felt love from me. While I do realize this was not all my fault, I do take blame in this. I had, after all, never even uttered the words, I love you to him. How was he supposed to know that I did, in fact, love him? I had written it, yes, but that was not the same to him. 

You see these great, sweeping declarations of love in the movies, but we all know that real life rarely mimics imagination. This brings us back to how words are taken. I had written love letters and love emails and love texts, but never spoke of love face to face. So, he took it as no love given. Fair? Not really. How I communicate shouldn't have been used against me, but on the flip side, how he communicates shouldn't have been ignored. So, the next relationship I was in, I told the man, I love you when I didn't feel it. I felt I had to because of what had happened in the last relationship. This relationship crashed pretty badly (NOT my fault). I took some time, then started dating again. The next man was the one I was supposed to put all these lessons I had learned into action with. But I was burnt out. It had been a couple of intense years with men. And I was already in my downward spiral, unbeknownst to me. So, there was no way I was even able to give the next one a fair shake or chance or even try to say/show that I could fall in love with him. 

I stepped back for real this time. Gained the weight I needed to gain. Lost the men I needed to lose. Took down all my dating profiles. Fell into a pretty deep depression, if I'm being completely honest. Then, I woke up one day, after a year or so. I got in contact with the only man I've ever been able to be completely open with. And we started working out. Slowly...achingly slow from where I had been. But the most important part were the words spoken. Every week, he would lift me higher than where I had been. Sometimes I would slip back, but he never gave up. One week, a few months ago, I was having a bad week. It was so bad that instead of working out, we talked for a whole hour. And for a whole hour, he told me good things about me. Things he saw in me. It was unlike anything else I had ever heard in my entire life. An entire hour just about me. Spoken with no other intention than to lift me higher. Make me better. One thing he said that stuck out was when I truly smiled, I could light up a whole room. That people were drawn to that smile because there was a light behind it (or something like don't I record these things! Oh, yeah...I'm not a creeper). So, I decided to experiment upon those words. And I started smiling. Truly smiling at friends, co-workers, customers, complete strangers and you know what started happening? Not only were those people disarmed at my smile, they usually opened up and started talking. There was always at least a smile back. There was, for a moment, a string and connection between our two worlds. 

The words that were spoken to me that day were perhaps my master lesson in how to use my own words. Not only in my future romantic relationship(s) but also in everyday relationships with all those I love and respect in my life. Text is an amazing medium, but to say to someone: You are important to me. You have made a difference in my life and here is how...should not only be written, but said out loud (in their presence preferably). Even if I stumble over the words.   

Happy Valentine's Day! Er...February 17th!