For my birthday, I received a book of poetry from my Mum, called Two green parrots by Australian poet Anne M Carson. It’s a lovely gift, which my Mum took the time to dedicate to me, that short handwritten note in biro at the front making it so much more personal.
I really enjoy picking it this small volume and reading one or two poems here and there, little stories that draw me back Down Under for a few minutes as I visualise the scene from my memories with sight, smells and sounds.
I especially like her poems about birds. For me the sound of waking up in Australia is amazing, the birds are so much louder than here in Europe and their cries are completely different. Just hearing them in a movie will bring me right back to where I grew up as a child. Here is a little extract to give you a sense of how beautifully the poet expresses it:
“Wattle birds wake up raucous.
They don’t murmur their way into day
or carol the growing light.
They ram their voices into the first chink
that opens between dark and dawn, staking claims.
Voice as a lever, they wrench morning open for themselves.”
Extract from: Wattle Birds, Kew
This inspires me deeply to practise writing about daily scenes around me, playing with words to capture life going on all around me. Merci Maman for this wonderful gift:)
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #123
A few weeks ago I decided to take Monday 1st of April off. There is an event I wanted to attend from 12-13:30 and at first considered cycling there and back on my lunch break from work or taking half a day off, but I didn’t feel like rushing. So I did something unexpected for me: I decided to treat myself and simply take the full day off, just like that;)
It feels so luxurious and wonderful that it makes me question why I don’t do this more often! I am profoundly grateful for the privilege that I have (the confort of a fixed contract where I get paid leave that I can take without worry). Still, usually there are scarcity voices in my head, warning me that I should use my precious days off to visit family, to travel or that I should save days in case of some potential emergency.
Just anticipating this day off makes my soul feel delighted. Spoiling myself in this very simple way is like a deep breath of fresh spring air and gives me a feeling of prosperity. I’m thinking of making this a tradition for the 1st day of each new quarter:)
Tired of shopping for presents just before Christmas in overcrowded shops? There’s nothing wrong with presents as such, but I feel like the pressure to buy gifts pushes us towards quick fixes that are not always satisfying. There has to be a better way, right?
As with everything, I believe it is possible to make the whole experience much more energising and sustainable, both for the person giving and the one receiving:) By being more mindful, we end up with intentional gifts and stories that lead to more fun and greater connection.
- Experience gifts: They are the norm among my family and friends for several years already compared to material gifts. It’s a chance to offer someone an experience, based on their interests that they will remember and cherish, rather than just one more object. You can make it as cheap or expensive as you like (a home cooked meal or time spent together are great options).
Over the last years, I’ve given tickets to concerts, escape rooms and plays, offered vouchers for massages, made vouchers to spend creative time with friends and family…
TIP: if it is an activity for several people, plan a date immediately with all participants, so you have something to look forward to!
- Secret Santa: instead of buying gifts for everyone, organise a secret santa so you can focus on getting a quality gift for just one person
TIP: get people to be very specific about that they want so you get them a gift that makes their heart sing (see below on Receiving).
- Support small businesses: If you are buying material gifts (jewelry, clothes, decoration items…), think of this as an opportunity to support small/local businesses that make you enthusiastic and for who your purchase will make a difference, leading to a happy dance.
TIP: Keep a list of the small craft businesses/independent brands you come across all year around at local craft markets, Etsy or social media, so you can recall them when you need a gift.
- Books: Buy from independent bookstores, this is the chance to browse through all those lovely covers and keep local bookstores alive
TIP: Experiment with books that you don’t know but are drawn to, discover new voices or authors from other countries
- Wrapping: no need to spend money on new rolls of wrapping paper, just recycle newspapers or old magazines.
TIP: Try to personalise the wrapping paper for the recipient (it is a very mindful activity for winter nights:)
Actually reducing the number of physical presents received is quite a lengthy process as culturally we feel we should not to come ’empty handed’. In the past, I’ve written emails to family and talked with friends to try and gracefully explain that I value experiences over material gifts. Slowly the idea is making its way and I have the secret conviction that it will inspire them too;) The experiences I received and participated in were super fun and created memories I’ll not forget like going to London for an incredible workshop with my favorite author or exploring the Japanese gardens with friends:)
Another idea is instead of people searching for a gift, to tell them upfront you would prefer to receive some money for you to give to your favorite charity. Alternatively, you can ask the person to use the money they would have spent on your gift on their favorite charity or to support their favorite artist on Patreon. They have more say on where the money goes and it is a win-win for everyone.
I’d love to hear more ideas! How will you make your Xmas shopping more intentional this year?
I cultivate these gorgeous succulents with lots of love and the rich compost that I collect from my worm bin. The plants are all grown and cared for in my living room and I chose the pots that I think suit each one best.
Need some green in your house? These are the perfect companions to brighten up a corner or decorate a windowsill as they thrive and grow
Are you looking for a gift? Potted plants make wonderful presents as the person receving them will be reminded of you as they watch their succulent grow. This is a really personal present that lasts and evolves.
These plants are really easy to take care of and can easily be left during your holidays.