The little things? The little moments? They aren’t so little.
- Jon Kabat-Zinn


Those of us with loved ones serving time can tell you how much we hate the automated voice that comes on at the end of a phone call saying, “You have 60 seconds remaining.” Then, “You have 30 seconds remaining.” If your loved one is deployed, in places where those precious few minutes getting to talk are just that, preciously few, we GET how those last seconds come and go so very fast. And then for those of us whose partners are facing surgery, there’s no question as to how those final moments feel.


The one common thread in all of these scenarios, is how often words can elude us in the emotion of those moments. And yet, we’ve faced them before, sometimes so often that we’re using the exact same words every time, and we walk away unimpressed with how we handled that.


Put yourself on a mission to become the King or Queen of the 60-second goodbyes. Get a small cheap kitchen timer if you want, use a clock with a second hand, or many cell phones come with a stopwatch or timer. Find out how many ways you can tell someone how much you care about them in 60 seconds. Actually write down new ways to phrase how much you care, or ways to tell them how you hope the time passes until the next chance you have to hear their voice. THEN use the timer idea to practice NOT going over more than 60 seconds if that is more of what you need to accomplish. Use it in any way that improves your communication skills. Practice. Write out thoughts on paper ahead of time and see how long it takes you to express them. Learn to use your seconds wisely and wonderfully! After all, your loved ones are listening.


Now right off the top, some folks will want to put limits on this one if they want to curtail any specific “category” of gifts arriving. You can make it clear no pornographic DVDs or games with those graphics on cards, and we’d recommend that. Or you can say: No adult novelties. No lingerie. Or you can leave it wide open.


Everyone will have to decide those boundaries for themselves. But remember, while it’s not uncommon with this game to make a guest blush once or twice, it’s not meant to leave anyone uncomfortable or genuinely embarrassed. The point of the party is actually to inspire your friends/family to greater acts of romance, as well as give them some possible new ideas to place in their arsenal of things to try.


You can make it all about romance in the bedroom or outside of it.


Invite everyone to arrive with something that they think really motivates or has influenced their own romantic history. Maybe it will come with a prop, like fur covered hand cuffs. Maybe it will be a menu that they personally found easy to make and impressed the one they served it to. Perhaps a list of restaurants that they’ve found to exceptionally romantic. What if it’s a love letter that got to them. Or a poem that stirred them. It may be just a paper with a note explaining a date idea that can be pulled off with on a budget but that left a lasting impression. We’ve seen literature for couple retreats arrive. Magazine articles. Etc… No money need be spent.


Mix the couples up from several parts of your world, or keep them to an inner circle. Bring items or ideas that maybe capture a part of your medical world. Those of you with deployed partners, what are you putting in those CARE packages? And if you’re the one out on a mission, make it a home focused mission to see what new ideas can be exchanged between your comrades at arms. Why not see what other partners of those incarcerated have found romantic as they exchange those letters? If nothing else, gift an idea for once parole happens.


The endgame here is to exchange romantic food for thought in a lighter fun atmosphere! Value creative, healthy and thoughtful intimacy! It’s ZARZAND’S motto!



While your loved one is having to wait for you to come out of surgery, plan ahead and pick up a book or magazine you know your partner would like, and put love notes in between random pages.
  • Be reassuring. Keep it light, but don’t be too glib. Recognize their right to feel nervous depending on the circumstance.
  • If it’s an on going situation that involves standard or routine care, take the time to recognize their faithfulness to the long haul.
  • Keep some romance alive, make sure one or two notes pays a compliment, or extends a promise for something intimate.
If your partner is the one having surgery and you’re not able to be there, set this up ahead of time and have someone deliver the magazine to your loved one. They could give it to them either prior to the surgery or when they get out of recovery.





Its common knowledge, that it’s not the color of the balloon, but what’s inside that balloon that causes it to rise in to the air. It has everything to do with the helium, and nothing with the color, or markings on the outside that gives it it’s lift.
The same is true to people as well.  And our job in loving the ones we’re with, is reminding them of that every single day.  Take the time today to share with your lover what it is about them that you see as what makes them so spectacular and unique. Be specific. Talk about the areas you most see them needing to value as much as you do.
Consider their self esteem and if there are places you sense they might be struggling. Be that verbal confirmation that says, it’s not about how you look that has set you apart for me, its about THIS:____________________________
Feel free to hand them a helium balloon or two with this message. Or draw some balloons and write your thoughts in the inside of each balloon.


ZARZAND’s goal is to provide an on going list of practical, attainable and affordable ideas that the bulk of society can accomplish. The vast majority of what we’ll show on in the DAILY INSPIRATIONS FOR ROMANTICS section are suggestions that come with little to no cost. We shoot for under $15. But we have been asked to throw down ones every so often that maybe aren’t in every ones budget regularly, but would be worth saving up for without it being a matter of cars, Rolex’s or trips to Paris… So here’s a short list of things that our team has found pretty nice once in a while to add to the romance adventure. We’re keeping it under $100. Set aside $8.33 each month for a year, or $16.66 for six months and you can throw these in to the mix once or twice a year. We’re going to throw out some website names, & products our company has no connection to on any level, no kick backs for mentioning them etc. But we like what they’re offering, so there you go. Zero hidden agendas LOL.


Set up some romantic tea light candles for any occasion. This can be fun but be careful.
Tea light candles usually run about $1 per dozen. The single heart has 14 candles. The heart with wine glasses takes 20. And the double heart design takes 54.
They make no flame candles now, they’re more expensive, but can be used multiple times, so variations to this idea can be used as time goes along. You can actually make a point of saying you need to be given them all back at the end of the evening or this initial event. Let them know you will be up to romantic gestures in their honor as the future unfolds.
The beauty of the flameless candles too, is that they can be used in hospital rooms, or places where oxygen is being used. They’re handleable by those with small motor skill considerations which is a great factor when thats an issue with either party involved. And for those with memory or attention span factors, they take the pressure off on in regards to accident potentials.




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Sketch out a Sheriff’s badge and write a note on the back that reads: “I’m having to notify the police that you have robbed me of all ability to focus on anything or anyone else, and have also stolen my heart”. Cheesy? Absolutely! It’ll still make’em smile.





Don’t worry about the quality of your drawing. It just doesn’t matter.

: )




Create a “You look like you need MY backpack” backpack. :)  Little by little, put together a backpack full of small little items meant to pick your lover’s spirits up. Take in to consideration those things that might be personal to that person.



·       Maybe a magazine they enjoy but don’t subscribe to.

·       Some new warm socks.

·       A box of Ding Dongs, Bugles or some other totally ludicrous snack.

·       A votive candle that smells like some form of comfort food.

·       How about a DVD of a movie that’s just fun, like The Princess Bride, Monty Pythons The Holy Grail, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, or try an old original episode of Godzilla!

·       Throw in a CD that’s relaxing OR one that makes them feel like dancing their *bleep* off.

·       Maybe there’s a coupon included for a back rub from you.

·       Or some eucalyptus/ lilac oil to put in a bath.

·       Maybe a coupon for a shower WITH you with a promise to warm their towels and dry them off.

·       Would it make sense to put in a gift card for ten dollars of gas so they can take off for a wind down drive?

·       Or a few dollars to go blow at the local game trader store so they can get a used xBox game?

Only you know what they might like to make a hard day better. As time goes along, refresh it with new things as you can. But keep it aside for those days when you want them to know you GET needing to be given a smile.


For those who can’t hand over such a backpack, start a large manila envelope for the same purpose. Pull articles that are of interest to her, maybe on fashion or recipes or her favorite fantasy football team. Maybe he’d like something about the latest mountain bike trails becoming available. Some recipes for rubs he might like to try his hand at BBQing, or the results of how to produce the next great microbrew. Put in some Suduko puzzles or word finds. (remember you can create your own personalized word finds and other word puzzles on http://puzzle-maker.com/WS) Throw in some instructions on how to fold some paper airplanes as those are always fun to throw around, and some extra paper to fold. You get the point, just something to get their mind on other things.


If you’re being deployed, throw one of these together for your loved one, and hand it to a family member, friend, neighbor, etc. Then, on your request, they can hand it off for you. Make sure they know they have to get it back though so you can set it up again.  Figure out ahead of time how that will happen, whether they’re also your help with that, or someone else.


AND, if you’re someone who has to travel in for surgeries with any frequency, you put one together as an encouragement for the one who stands by you during those times too. It shows that you recognize how those times can stretch your lover, whether it’s a difficult or relatively benign procedure.


Lastly, for those who love someone with PTSD, one of the kindest things they will always be able to find in one of these backpacks is a set of  ear plugs. You can find some great ones at your local sports store where swimming supplies are sold. MANY a moment has been helped with those little gems. If there’s enough money on the budget, you can even go an extra step and put a basic MP3 player in and a set of head phones. Pre-load the player with music or stories on CD that your loved one would be able to loose themselves in during times of stress or when they need to refocus themselves.


If you are the one with PTSD, how about making one of these for those times when the shoes on the other foot and your having had to deal with a day of triggering has meant your partner has had to deal with that fact too? Help them have a bag of things to de-stress or wind down with while you’re doing the same. In other words, this makes a great idea as a couple exchange gift.


9472329We have all seen the “Just Married” car signs. Surprise your spouse with a new sign on your car (tied on cans are fun but optional) and make the sign read something along the lines of STILL MARRIED, or STILL HAPPILY MARRIED! Do this for an anniversary, or choose to do it just because! You can get a roll-on paint called window paint at local craft stores for only a couple bucks. If opting for poster paint, add a few drops of dish soap to it so it comes off easier.


This can be modified for your partner who gets around in a wheelchair or scooter, by using poster board to make the sign. Tying on tin cans becomes a little more fun here, but don’t do strings long enough to tangle in the wheels or inhibit their mobility.

If your spouse is out of town on business, deployed, incarcerated etc… you can easily decorate the car and then snap a picture and send it to them.

Still happily marriedIf neither of those are an option, there’s always the ability to just write a note expressing that IF YOU COULD decorate the car like this, you would. Why not try drawing it if that’s what best meets your needs. We’ve included a sample of how that could look. Its not about being an outstanding artist, again, it’s the thought.




There are lots of us who can spend an hour in front of a row of cards at the local store and never find one that actually says something that sounds anything like what can or should be saying. Come on, you know what I mean… They’re mushy and gushy and make it out like it’s all peaches and cream and that it always has been. Yes, there’s ones expressing that difficult times take place, but you won’t find one that says, YEAH TODAY WAS LAME, SO WAS YESTERDAY…AND THE DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY…BUT I’M GAME FOR STILL LOOKING FORWARD TO TOMORROW ANYWAY. AS LONG AS YOU’RE IN IT WITH ME.

Or maybe it’s a card apologizing, and it comes close to hitting how bad we feel, or how sorry we are, but it doesn’t exactly say, WOW I WAS A REAL BLEEP WASN’T I?



Or the I’M GLAD I MARRIED YOU MOST OF THE TIME, BUT IF SEAN CONNERY ASKS ME OUT… Yeah… WE’RE OVER! (sorry, I mean we’re talking 007!) card?




You get the point. So for some laughs, spend a date night co-creating some cards or just one-liners for yourselves and other couples in your shoes. Its all for fun, though you may want to share a couple with friends who might need the laugh. Don’t be a shmuck and let it turn into a put down or pick a fight time. Seriously, if you can’t do it and not slip in a few actual jabs, then don’t do it at all… IF you do come up with some good ones, feel free to post them in the comment box. That way you can share them with all of us.