One of my favorite authors is Shauna Niequist, a writer who shares insight regarding relationships, community, and engaging with one another while gathered around the table, surrounded by food and drink and friendship. Niequist is a compelling storyteller who uses her own life as a platform for connecting with her readers in a genuine, intimate way.

One of her primary topics of focus is cultivating meaningful relationships and diving honestly and openly into a supportive community. She writes about this in her book Bittersweet when she expounds upon the topic of the home team:

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Valentine’s Day can be tough — some people love it and others love to loathe it. While we can surely understand that, we also  think that any day centered on being intentional with those around you is fine in our book. It just may take some reimagining (and a bit of creativity) to see new ways of making someone smile.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with Shutterfly to bring you some foolproof advice for making anyone’s day — Valentine’s or otherwise. Below we’re sharing four key things to keep in mind to ensure authenticity is always at the heart of any gift.

Integrity is the map to achieving our maximum potential; it is the wholeness of our self. As we pursue integrity, we obtain virtues that better us. We all desire to capture the best possible future that exists and make it our present reality; setting standards accomplishes this. Standards are the footprints on the path we hope we’re brave enough to take. They define our personhood and determine our character as we discern the character of others. How we believe we should be treated is directly related to the standards we create.

I can still remember standing in line for dinner at summer camp. My best friend and I had just met six other teenage strangers who we would share a cabin with. As our counselor had asked us to do, we’d gone around the circle to share our name and a few details with each other.

Standing in line for salad and lasagna I said rather brazenly, “Oh my gosh, how annoying was that girl sitting next to you!? Ugh. I can tell she wants to be our best friend, but no thanks. Couldn’t they find another cabin for her?”

I laughed, we agreed — and then I turned around.

A Note From The Editor: Changing the world, wherever we are, starts small. As individuals, before we can think about excelling at our careers, in our relationships, or with our art, we need to take care of ourselves. It’s surprising how so few of us really know how to do the simple things anymore, so we’ve set out to change that with Kara Elise.

I love having friends over for lunch. There is something so special about welcoming someone into your home and into your space. As a confidant, we can practice this art of intentionality when we choose to invite others into our lives. This salad is an easy, quick, and colorful lunch to help create that space.

In less than a month, our little family will leave the town where we have built our lives for over a decade. We are moving to a new state, following new opportunities — and we are excited. But there is also sorrow as we leave the community, town, and jobs that we have had for so long.

The world we live in is increasingly mobile, and in this season of life, many of us may find ourselves moving for school, a job, a relationship, or even for an adventure.

Or, we may find ourselves waving goodbye to our dearest friends as they drive away to a new place while we stay put. Compared to a hundred years ago, it is remarkably simple to transport our possessions across the country. What is less simple is navigating the change in friendships when we — or they — move away.