First things first, went to Random.org to have them pick a number and it came up with the lucky number 7, so congratulations Cynthia. You just won a $25 e-card to amazon. I've just e-mailed it to you at email@example.com, so hopefully you'll find the nice surprise in your inbox when you wake up across the pond. :)
To recap/sum up my 29 day giving project... here's what I did over 29 days (pasted from my Twitter):
day29: Free Boxing Day Giveaway (Enjoyed this...will do it again!) day 28: Made breakfast for James day 27: Canned goods, food items for our neighbors in apt block. day 26: handmade gift day...working on stuff for James and things for others for future. day 24/25: Made snowflakes to decorate downstairs apt noticeboard, donated old stuff to Red Cross + donated to Odette in Rwanda. Day 23: donated to a homeless chap. day 22: Clicking like crazy (and for free) over @thehungersite.com day 21 : Sent warm wishes to people who greatly inspire me on Twitter day 18/19-- Going through all contacts +wishing holiday goodness +/or making amends for my wrongs I've done to them (long list). day17: Got raffle tickets for Annual Menu for Hope. day 16: put on a brave face +joined in-laws 4 lunch. I was kind, I was chatty + I did my best 4 James' sake day 15: gave 50p to a lone teenage trumpet player performing Xmas carols @Borough Market day14: bought a chicken through Oxfam unwrapped day 13: Making cookies today 2 help 2 secretly shut up niece +nephew when they + other 'family' grace our presence this wknd. day 12: Donated to provide musical instruments for women/girls in the DRC through city of Joy/vday.org day 11: Found freerice.com and ripple.org where my internet boredom is being turned into food, water and money for others. day 10: Promised James I'd stop complaining,panicking and being a scrooge for this holiday season. day 9: wrote a much needed letter to my grandmother day 8: donated £2.50 to Room2Read to buy books specifically for girls' education in developing countries. day 7: Cleaning the house so James can relax better when he gets home. Day 6: made a picture for this little one: http://www.29gifts.org/forum/topics/picture-appeal- for-a-very Day 5: Donated £2.50 to the World Food Program in honor of World AIDS Day. A lot of medicines have to be taken w/food!!! Day4: X-mas card to NieNie 2 say thanks 4inspiration: http://nieniedialogues.blogspot.com/ Day 3: made paper snowflakes requested for a 25 yr old woman in a nursing home. Day2: gave £1 to a homeless man Day 1: Post Office + sending goodness.
Realized that I missed Day 20 as I was typing this out, so I just donated to my.care.org to buy schoolbooks for young girls. Ooops!
Thoughts on the Project--
Best Give: Canned Goods/Food to my neighbors. It was fun every time we left the flat to watch the items dwindle down. Some other neighbors even got involved and donated Champagne and stuffed animals. Felt great to help feed so many other people during the holidays.
Hardest Give: Sent apologies out to people I felt I had done wrong to or thought I had made uncomfortable. Got criticism for even trying this by some people that know me and some responses I received from recipients were not positive either. But oh well I guess. I knew it was risky to do it, but did it anyway.
What I learned about myself: That I need to do more of giving. I got a huge glimpse of how giving heals. I knew this anyway, but doing this project...you really begin to understand. James says these last 29 days he's noticed a 'shift' in me in the right direction. So...it would make sense to keep this going. I just need to find out more creative ways to keep 'giving' in my life on a regular basis. Maybe I'll start the project again or find someplace to volunteer in London? Must give this more thought for the new year.
I would love to hear any thoughts from you about the 29 day give? Did you follow me on Twitter these last 29 days? Are you inspired to start your own project in your own community? Do you already volunteer your time? Do you have ideas on 'free' ways to give?
Had a great holiday weekend. It started with a fondue party with James and I on Christmas Eve whilst watching Its a wonderful Life. We love having a fondue but can't do it often cause its so bad for you. I think my arteries were screaming at me after this:
Christmas Day was quiet ...best part was going for a long 3 hr walk through Blackheath and Greenwich:
Christmas Holly---grows like weeds here.
We watched lots of movies, ate well, slept and checked out the Boxing Day sales. It was a fantastic, long weekend. Now, its time for clean-up and getting things done before we head out to Paris (which is our belated Xmas present to each other) on Wednesday. Can't wait. Haven't been back to Paris this entire year and its like visiting an old, dearly loved friend.
P.S.--don't forget to enter my Boxing Day giveaway. Picking a winner tomorrow morning (British time) and the more people that enter...the more interesting and fun it gets. :)
Well today is Boxing Day here in the U.K., not quite sure what the purpose is other than trying to re-coop from eating too much yesterday and maybe checking out the post Christmas sales.
There's rumors that it was created in Victorian times as a day to give presents to the servants. I've also heard that its a day to double check the tree to make sure no presents were missed in the craziness of Christmas. James' family has 'tree presents' on Boxing Day...little fun presents from the Christmas tree. Well, whatever the tradition is its an extra day for a little holiday fun with friends, family and those you hold dear.
Today is also another special day, the very end of my 29 day giving project. If you've been following me on twitter I've tried to do something good or outside of myself for 29 days. I will write more thoughts on this later, but it did me SO MUCH good.
So........in celebration of my last day of the 29 day give and Boxing Day, I'd like to give one of you something. Can't think of anyone better to give to than those of you out there in Internet-land. Employment issues are tough on the ole' social calender and the Internet's been my salvation this last year.
Anyway down to business...
The Prize (selected randomly):
ONE (1) e-gift card to Amazon.com, $25 Dollars (US) OR £15 Pounds Sterling (UK) to amazon.co.uk
**These are the only two currencies I will offer
How to Enter/Rules:
To enter tell me what you do on the day after Christmas, leave a valid e-mail address and either a (US) or (UK) to indicate which amazon site you prefer.
One entry per person.
I'll post the name of the winner on here before noon (London time), 29 December 2009.
The e-card for the winner will be e-mailed on the 29th to the e-mail address left below.
****This giveaway is sponsored entirely by myself, not Amazon.
GOOD LUCK and Enjoy the Day after Christmas!!!!
GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED.....PICKING A WINNER AS WE SPEAK.
Cant wait for this British Classic to come out (and in 3D too) in 2010. Tim Burtons movies are a visual and artistic feast and Johnny Depp isn't bad to look at either. The costumes, the sets, everything for 'Alice' seem fantastic. P.S. I hear it was filmed in Cornwall which is one of THEE most gorgeous places in all of the U.K. Have I mentioned I can't wait???
The last week I've been stressing so much about seeing relatives. I've gotten into arguments with James, been quite angry with alcoholic gifts that they've brought for James that scream 'enabler', refused to meet up with them on Saturday night pulling a sickie, lost sleep because I was freaking out about whether the house was going to be clean enough or if they'd pull the white glove test like they usually do. My temper tantrums this week would seriously give any two year old a run for their money any day.
Funny how the universe works because for the first time in nearly 9 years we woke up to no power. It was very unusual for us as its not like there was a blizzard outside or anything, there was just no power. SO, I had NO choice but to go with James today to meet up with his parents. I'm sure glad I did because we had the most wonderful gift today from a very unexpected person.
We go every week to shop for vegetables at Blackheath Market. Just outside there's a Big Issue chap. Now the Big Issue is a weekly magazine that homeless individuals sell in this country as a way to NOT beg, but try to earn money to feel a bit more human again. Well, for the past year we've chatted to this homeless chap and gave him our small change every week.
Today he saw us coming and went to his bag and when we stopped to say hello, HE GAVE US A CHRISTMAS CARD. We were not expecting anything like this. Well...when we got into the market and opened it it was a huge thank you for what we did over the year.
Funny, I don't think I've ever had such a huge token of the Christmas spirit than that ever in my life . James and I literally were choking back the tears. What a huge gift. HUGE---like bursting hearts kind of huge.
I know we've had a rough year and aren't rich, but this really put things into perspective and frankly I've never felt more rich than I do today.
Anyway, lunch with relatives---I survived. I think what happened at the market softened my cold icy heart a bit.
I'm just grateful the power went out. I'm thinking maybe it should go out a bit more often.
Ok, Ok....I'm just kidding... Don't turn to Jack. Jack can sometimes be quite an unforgiving bloke once you get to know him.
Anyhow, If you are like me at the moment...you're probably starting to feel the stress of the holiday season. I've got relatives coming over who make my blood pressure rise this weekend, endless lists of jobs to do, haven't even decorated the house and frankly feel like the next few weeks are a catch up for tasks that have taken a back burner this entire year (which is a lot). I'm finding it hard to stop and enjoy the moment, time to just breathe. So I'm determined to schedule some meditation time in the rest of this week and do a holiday detox. This article on Oprah gave me a few ideas, but was curious what some of you do to slow down/de-stress this time of year?
Saw two vintage travel books featured in the New York Times today. LOOOOVE vintage travel ads and pictures. They make me wonder so much about where the people in them have been and where they are going, not to mention forgeting for a moment about my troubles:
I have a hard time with christmas for some reason. Its one of the most 'uncomfortable' of the holidays for me and every year it takes a great deal of effort to not unleash my inner scrooge and wish the whole holiday away. One thing that helps my inner christmas beast occasionally is looking at christmas decor online. I know its a bit weird, but because I really like pictures and things that are artsy, approaching the season from an arts/design standpoint makes the christmas holiday seem a lot more interesting to me. You do what you gotta do to get through eh? Anyway, here are some things that I have found recently:
These are from Plumo. I always like their stuff cause of its vintage, travel feel for everything that they do. Wish I could afford their stuff though.
These Christmas Crackers are from Jamie Oliver. Its a English tradition to have these things on the Christmas table. Usually they are stuffed with THEEE most useless presents on the face of the planet, but this is the first time, I've actually seen crackers that are useable. It helps that I like gardening and cooking too.
Finally, these stockings from Sundance. I love weird and unique stockings. These happen to be hand-knit too by a women's collective in Bosnia. So stockings to make a difference you can say.
+ This, cause the Brits like to build half their flats with no double glazing on their windows, so essentially for 5 months out of the year, its freezing all the time in our flat. I walk around with sweaters, blankets, just to keep warm. The socks...I also kinda like soft things on my feet too. Never been a slipper girl, just really wonderful bed socks. Soft feet, I could be happy all day.
So santa, how bout something from the list? If not...I'll be equally happy with a nice day, some good food and a few holiday movies with a big bowl of popcorn instead.
If you could bottle up 'confusion' and put a big pretty label on it and sell it, I think I'd have the market cornered and be a very very rich woman. My confusion about how to fix my situation with my career, 'my finances'--(james is fine, I'm not), my relationship with an early recovering alcoholic, my uncertainty about London, my weight and food addiction issues and my overall future is darn palpable. I have spent nearly every waking moment for I don't know how long trying to 'fix' things. Sometimes, I feel like I'm trying to just begin my life when everyone else has already started it. I feel left out and angry because of it.
But lately I'm beginning to realize that I'm really missing out on the 'present' moment with all my worrying about the future that frankly isn't here yet. I HAVE started a life, a great one. Sure not everything has worked out the way I want, but its ok. So, I'm unique I guess....I'd rather be unique than 'cookie cutter'.
Not everything can be in my timeline. There's a huge universe out there that knows things that I don't know that will be coming my way. With a universe that's created everything in such fine balance and purpose, there's no chance that I was left out of the ole' organizational loop. Its comforting to know that its ok to give up a bit of the control over my life. Sure, I do the best I can every day, but the universe is destined to pick up where I can't go anymore.
So, I know this is easier said than done. But I think today I'm one step closer to trusting that even if I feel like I'm going to fall off a cliff right now, that things are going to be ok. There's something out there that's got my back and e-v-e-r-y-th-in-g is gonna be ok.
P.S. (Isn't 'Everything gonna be ok' a Bob marley song???, if its not this is the perfect reggae song don't you think?)
Its been a great few days: full of good food, long walks, movies, christmas lights and warm blankets as the bitter winter cold seems to be settling in. The weather is gray and drizzly today but it just means a bit of yoga at home, cranking up the heaters, popping in a dvd and enjoying the quiet that the rain brings.
P.S. On track for getting my reward w/the gold stars this month. Thinking I may either get myself shoes cause the holes in them currently aren't winter/puddle friendly or chop my hair. Decisions eh?
I read a story on Oprah.com that has inspired me. Basically its about a woman who was diagnosed with MS and decided to spend the next 29 days of her life doing one act of simple kindness each day. Didn't have to be a material thing, but just one act..like calling someone to say hello, sending a nice e-mail, making dinner for your partner. Well her emotional, physical, spiritual, mental 'buckets' were very very much overflowing by the end of it. She didn't cure her MS, but she sure gained back the ability to live her life.
I've heard a lot about how service is our biggest purpose here on earth. I agree with that. With me personally my problems get so FREAKIN overwhelming sometimes that I forget about others, I forget that there are people out there who have it much worse than I do.
So...I'm going to do a little experiment that I think is perfect for this time of year. I've signed up to the 29 day challenge. I am glad that if you miss a day (or two) that 'its ok' and when you're ready you just pick up where you left off. Gosh, its nice to know I don't have to be perfect with everything.
Anyway, to start the challenge off I'm popping off to the post office a bit later to mail out some goodness into the world. Won't say more than that, other than its lots of 'goodness'.
In the mean time, watch my twitter for updates on what I'm doing each day w/this challenge and I'll report back here at the end of 29 days to let you know my thoughts on everything as well.
1. the fact I'm still here, I'm still standing in one piece
2. warm blankets
4. good books
5. Dr Quinn re-runs to break up the day
6. James for teaching me patience and acceptance
7. Gold Stars (going well, not 100% but sticking to it)
8. The internet
9. Support groups that I've started attending recently
10. meditation and Buddhism for creating it
11. the arts, especially here in this city
12. the smell of crisp bonfire in the cool air
13. a body that still manages to work after what I've put it through
14. pretty pictures
15. my camera and actually starting to figure it out
16. An interview came my way just this week
17. That I have food and a place to sleep every night
18. That I have had the chance to meet people, extraordinary people since living here
19. Kitty and how she runs like crazy every time she sees us
20. Warm showers when its freezing outside
21. Brita Filters
22. Organic Flaxseed + Soya Chips and Hummus
23. Charlie Brown
24. Audrey Hepburn
25. Javier Bardem in Vicky Christina Barcelona
26. Dark Chocolate
27. That I have a few friends that still speak to me even after they get to know me
29. Mildred, our pet duck
30. Long Walks through Greenwich Park
31. Learning to laugh more
32. River Cottage, the t.v. show
33. Ugly Betty
34. How I felt like this week when I got to get myself a new shirt for my interview
35. Jamie Oliver...his new American cookbook, his restaurant, his causes
36. a cheap weekend to Paris in December, that we haven't had to cancel it out of financial ruin or something. :)
37. Finding a new healthy burrito take-out place today...who do California mission style vegetarian burritos full of nothing but healthy goodness.
38. Sisters and Daughters, Waterstones, Anthropologie, Fat Face, Gap---who give me endless ogling hours.
39. Organic icecream and homemade chocolate pumpkin brownies
40. No dead mice on our living room carpet like we found last month
41. Sunday naps
42. Listening to peoples stories. Every story matters
43. Sesame Street...I hear it was their anniversary recently. They taught me to read.
44. memories/lessons from my trip this fall starting to sink in.
45. the muppets for their countless hours of making me smile
46. mushroom soup with toasted ciabatta bread, with organic ham + cheese slightly melted and a teeny bit of mayo and whole grain mustard on top.
48. the smell of baked goods in the oven
49. London, what a gift.
50. the Present Moment, which I consistently try to enjoy better.
I'm incredibly devastated by the news that Oprah's ending her show in 2011. I've watched her most of my life and consider her a huge mentor and hero. Particularly these last 4/5 years when I started initially having a lot of career trouble her and I spent many, many an afternoon together. When I've felt alone like no one was there (which happens a lot), I turned to her show for comfort and it got me through many a dark day. If it wasn't for Oprah I wouldn't have: read Eckhart Tolle's 'A New Earth', discovered Dr Oz, known about the 'healing' place I went to in Arizona (which changed my life), had the motivation to loose the 50 lbs I've lost so far, known about Barack Obama, discovered Martha Beck and Elizabeth Gilberts 'Eat, Pray, Love', I would have never learned ways of coping with stressful times, that I deserved to live my best life, I would have never been inspired by her work in Africa, would have never learned how to organize and decorate my house from Nate Berkus and the list goes on. I really do credit Oprah to who I am today.
I'm hearing a lot of Oprah haters saying "Good, glad she's gone, good riddance" since the news which makes me angry. I feel like how can you hate someone who is my hero?? I guess also for someone who I have found such inspiration and joy from, I don't understand how some can spread such hate. Dislike is one thing, hate is another and to me hate just hurts the individual giving it. I also just don't understand why people would dislike someone who does nothing and has done nothing but good in this world. But, if people choose to hate or choose to dislike something its their decision. That's the great thing about this world is people's ability to choose.
Anyway, Oh how I wish I could get tickets to her last season. Its been a #1 mondo beyondo dream of mine to be a guest and chatting away telling her in person thank you or at least an audience member. Sadly, the demand for tickets are going to go through the roof now and I'm worried that my huge dream will slip through the cracks. Who knows I guess...even putting out my dream like this into the universe, you never know if it may come true.
In the mean time, I'll be mourning my daily source of inspiration. I'm sure it won't be the last of Oprah and I'll be able to still have her part of my life in little ways through O magazine and other things...but I'll still be mourning 25 years of glorious memories and a good friend.
I wish Oprah the best of luck next year in her last season. I hope nothing but blessings comes her way for all the joy that she's brought to people and to me. If I can be half the person she is by the time my life is over, I'll be pretty pleased with things.
James and I met up in the city yesterday, went to the National gallery and wondered through the West End looking at Christmas lights. It seems too early for Christmas. There were carolers, brass bands playing christmas music already. It takes me a long time to get into the holiday mood I guess. I think the lights and window displays are pretty good this year though. Selfridges and Carnaby Street were my favorite:
Anthropologie just opened their first European store here in London. I had heard about anthropologie a lot before, but oh my heck when I checked it out yesterday in the city I was not expecting that I'd like it so much. I really like how everything has an eclectic travelling feel. I read on Oprah that there's a reason for this, the main buyer actually gets things for the store whilst travelling the globe! I like also how things seem so vintage too. Totally, totally, completely me. These pictures below are a few items I saw yesterday that I'm bookmarking to get at some point. The book is actually a journal, looks like an old book but its a blank journal. Boy, my dusty wallet was screaming for a bit of fun money yesterday.
I was also very brave and took pictures inside. I wasn't sure initially cause I'd never done it before, but I saw like a bazillion people taking pictures too so I did it. Here's a few that I managed to snap:
What can I say, I'll definitely be going back. Thank god, not everything in there requires selling a kidney to afford to buy it. In the mean time till I get some money, a girl can dream.
All photos unless otherwise noted are taken by me. If you wish to use any of my photos please give proper credit and link back to this blog (each picture used please). If you wish to use pictures commercially contact me. Thanks.