The Art of Giving

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It’s that time of year again when the weather turns cooler, the days become shorter, and snow is in the forecast, signaling the start of the holiday season. It is a wonderful time for family and friends to share good times together and to give thanks for our blessings. While many of us enjoy the tradition of gift giving, shopping for the perfect gift for everyone on our list can be stressful! The increasing availability of on-line shopping, gift cards and longer store hours makes shopping and gift giving easier, but there is a growing interest in giving meaningful gifts. Perhaps there is an art to giving in the same way there is an art to conversation, writing poetry, or creating music?

There are many great ideas for meaningful gift giving (simply google meaningful gifts) and while I have chosen a few that resonate with me, you may want to start you own list before the holiday season begins.

THE GIFT OF TIME

In our busy lives, time is such a finite and precious commodity that to give our time may be the most valuable gift we can provide. Consider giving time to a community project or a charity. The possibilities are endless; from visiting an old age home, to volunteering at a hospital, your time is a welcome gift! Perhaps this could be a family initiative, which would have the added benefit of time spent together.

THE GIFT OF MEMORIES

One of life’s certainties is that we come into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing. When that day comes, what remains are memories shared with loved ones. A friend of mine recently gave each of her children a camera along with a note about the importance of building shared memories. From that day forward, her family has focused on creating memories rather than giving gifts, a beautiful intention, which has lasting impact.

THE GIFT OF A HANDWRITTEN LETTER

While handwriting is one of the few things that are unique to each of us, the art of handwriting is all but disappearing.  Writing a letter takes time, thought and effort and can be a very meaningful gift. It is a wonderful way to share stories, tell someone how much they mean to us, or tell what we admire about them. Some of my most cherished gifts are the letters written to me by my mother. I can remember who she was through her words and unique handwriting style. There is no time like the present to write a letter to someone you love. All it takes is a pen, paper and a willingness to share what is in your heart.

THE HANDMADE GIFT

In a world where we yearn for simpler times, the lost art of handmade gifts is making a comeback. Handmade gifts show that we value the time, care and attention that went into making something special. This year, consider spending time to make a few gifts, or go to a local arts festival or craft sale to find something unique. Not only will you give a one of a kind gift, but you will also support people who make a living with their hands and creativity.  A handcrafted gift is sure to please and may be one of the few things that may not get tossed out before the next season arrives.

THE GIFT OF NO GIFTS

Invitations for special occasions often include a note suggesting a charitable donation would be appreciated in lieu of a gift. From a child’s first birthday, to milestone celebrations throughout life, the gift of charity is a gift that reaches out to many. This growing trend acknowledges that our presence at an event is the gift, while at the same time provides an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. There are many options available on-line, which make it easy to combine gift giving and donations, so why not consider this for the holiday season or throughout the year?

These are just a few of the ideas that I have discovered and like. You could start your own list of meaningful gifts, and bring the art of giving into your life. You may find you enjoy gift giving and the holiday season more, and I’m sure your loved ones will appreciate it and so will the planet!

This holiday season Toronto’s First Anonymous Art Show in support of Art for Cancer Foundation, is a great source for meaningful gifts. The show will be held December 3-6, 2015 at AFC Place, 1884 Davenport Road, Toronto. Established and emerging artists have donated hundreds of 8”X8” paintings which will be exhibited and sold for $100.00 each.  The artist remains a mystery until after the purchase.

100% of proceeds will go to support free creative programs for people living with cancer offered by ART for Cancer Foundation

Further details available at: www.artforcancerfoundation.org

Happy holidays and happy giving!

Creatively yours,

Angela

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Creatively Yours: The Colour Green

Remember Sesame Street? Each day the program was brought to you by the letter “A “(or B or C and so on).  So I thought what about a colour of the day? Following up on Laurie’s green theme, I would suggest that today is brought to you by the colour green!

Green is the colour of spring! What a delight after the grey tones of winter to gaze upon the yellow-green grass and foliage springing up everywhere. It is almost a fluorescent colour in the early spring before it turns to a deeper hue as we move into the summer months. Take a moment today to let your eyes gaze upon the colour green. Green is the colour found most in nature and so it is no surprise that the “green” movement got its’ name from its association with nature.  Organic foods, natural materials, recycling, and even green energy are all by-products of what nature already does naturally! Man made, synthetic and genetically modified products have brought us great economic and efficiency gains along with great perils to our planet.  Our celebration of Earth Day on April 22 is an important reminder to take care of our planet as our well-being and health is directly linked to the well-being and health of mother earth.

In her book “Colour of the Soul” author June McLeod explores how colour directly influences the way we feel. Our moods can change according to our surroundings and we may not even be aware of it. Colour therapy, as described by McLeod can be used to transform your life, by healing our body and soul.  It is no surprise that green is a powerful colour! Green is associated with the heart and when used as a healing colour brings the quality of balance. Green is associated with unconditional love, compassion, forgiveness and understanding. So how does one use colour therapy for healing? A simple way to experience the healing qualities of colour, is to wear it or use it in your home décor.  As each colour has something to offer, you would first want to refer to her charts to determine which colour/s you need to add into your life.

Kermit The Frog

Image by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer

Wasn’t it Kermit the frog who said “It’s not easy being green”?  I think it would be fair to say that we all need a little more green in our lives.

Get your green on!

Creatively yours,

Angela

Creatively Yours: Connecting the Dots

Heart us

image by amountofcoffee, from Flickr

You may have noticed something new about our blog in 2012. We are connecting the dots! Laurie, Elizabeth and I have decided to build upon each other’s ideas, and so when Laurie asked if you are grateful for your slow cooker, she was connecting to the idea of gratitude. Clever! And that is how conversation goes; we start off talking about one thing and end up talking about something completely different. As I don’t have any good recipes to share, I will let the slow cooker cook, and begin a new conversation on some upcoming events in February.

First off, February is heart month. That is a nice way to get us thinking about Valentine’s Day. Believe it or not, I heard a radio announcer the other day reminding men to remember the date (not once but twice in the same day).  Having just been to the grocery store, I don’t know how anyone could forget.  And then last but not least, there is Family Day, which is that nice extra holiday we get to spend with our families in Ontario. To my way of thinking, these three events cover some very important aspects of our lives: health, love and sense of belonging.

What will you do this February for your health, love and family?

LOVE to hear from you!

Creatively yours,

Angela

Creatively Yours: Gratitude for a New Year

Journal Entry

image by JoelMontes, from Flickr

There has been much written in the past few years about gratitude and how being grateful opens the doors to abundance. Sarah Ban Breathnach, in her book Simple Abundance, suggests we keep a gratitude journal and on a daily basis write five things we are grateful for. She suggests that over time you will find that the small, simple, overlooked things are what give us the most happiness. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and guru of happiness, is also a gratitude advocate.  She says,  “Gratitude is the key to happiness. Consistently grateful people are happier and more satisfied with their lives.”

Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage talks about the “Three Good Things” exercise, suggesting we keep a journal of three good things that happen to us each day. He calls this the “Positive Tetris Effect” which simply means that when we think about positive things we see things in a more positive light, which leads to more positive experiences, which creates more happiness. And, when we are happy we create more positive experiences – and so on.  And who wouldn’t want to feel happier?

But like many other good ideas, it is a matter of choosing something and sticking with it long enough to notice the benefits. Achor suggests that we need to do something for 21 days before it becomes a habit. So there is the challenge! Will you do what you set out to do (your new year’s resolutions or goals) for 21 days to achieve the benefits?

As I mentioned in my December blog post Before the Clock Strikes 12I am not big on resolutions and prefer to pick a theme to focus us.  So for 2012 I have decided that the theme will be gratitude.  Equipped with a beautiful leather bound journal and sparkly pink pen, I started my gratitude journal today.  Day one – check mark!  I’ll let you know how it’s going in 21 days!  And for those of you who have made resolutions or goals for 2012, and those who didn’t – I wish you much happiness and success, and I am grateful for your readership of our blog in 2011 and hope you continue to tune in during 2012!

Creatively yours,

Angela

Moleskine Journal Hack

image by budcaddell, from Flickr

Creatively Yours: Before the clock strikes 12!

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image by carbonated, from flickr

The count down is on – three more days and the New Year will be here!  I don’t know about you, but I for one don’t spend much time thinking about New Year’s resolutions. I might pick one thing I want to focus on and in 2011 it was happiness! I started the year off by reading Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project and made myself a promise to “work” at being happier. According to Gretchen there are things we can do to create more happiness in our lives. I tried some of her suggestions but then decided that I would find my own path to happiness. As the year passed I found myself more aware of what created happiness in my life. A few key things that I am certain increased my happiness quotient this year are:

Peace in my relationships with my husband, children, family and friends. It takes work but it pays dividends!

Getting off the couch and getting regular exercise – walking is my new sport of choice!

Getting involved with a cause I believe in – Art for Cancer http://artforcancerfoundation.org

Making art! Any day is a good day when I create something!

Spending time alone, or in the company of my dog Jessie.

Saying yes to new challenges like biking, hiking and riding horses even when my mind and body agree: “this is going to hurt afterwards.”

Writing for this blog!  I could never have guessed that I would enjoy writing as a creative outlet!

Writing letters to my children!  See my October 24, 2011 blog post Letters from my Mother for why you might want to consider doing this.

Rediscovering meditation – the ultimate gateway to happiness!

So rather than thinking about resolutions for 2012, I will ring in the New Year enjoying the happiness that I have right now. And that I believe creates more happiness than losing 10 pounds!

Wishing you all a healthy and happy New Year!

Creatively yours,

Angela

p.s. if  you want to know the one thing I will focus on for 2012, you will have to read about it in January!

Gifts for the Person Who Has Everything!

Pine cone ornament
It’s that time of year again; shopping, wrapping, eating, drinking (responsibly), partying, scurrying about and relaxing in front of the fire. The Christmas and holiday season is upon us again!  And as you are likely too busy to read anything lengthy and philosophical (I’ll save that for New Years), I thought I would start a list of gift ideas for the person who has everything. Here are 12 ideas to get you started, and out of the malls.

  1. A book – easy to order on line. The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell is a little book I recommend which reminds us that friendship is a gift in and of itself.
  2. A Christmas Tree Ornament- simple! It marks the passage of time and tests our memory of who gave it to us.  It becomes especially meaningful when that person is no longer here.
  3. A bag of homemade goodies along with the recipe – a gift that lasts for generations!
  4. Soothing bath salts and creams – always nice to have!
  5. A Christmas card with a picture of family and friends – something to put into our empty photo albums, now that all are pictures are digital (you can order them on line).
  6. Anything handmade – made by the giver.
  7. A  hand written note or letter – a lost art.
  8. A CD – Michael Buble’s Christmas Album is awesome!
  9. Tickets to the movies or theatre from the person you are going to go with – a win-win!
  10.  Coupons for breakfast in bed, vacuuming the house, taking the garbage out, walking the dog…the possibilities are endless.
  11. A new or old, favorite game – brings family and friends together.
  12. A re-gift gift. Something totally useless that has clearly been passed around a few times. HoHoHo! The gift that keeps on giving!

So, if you haven’t found the perfect gift for the person who has everything on my list, I invite you to add your own gift suggestions to the list in the comments section!

Hold the wrapping paper, and let’s have a green Christmas!

Creatively yours,

Angela
Short Bread - Mom's

Creatively Yours: Three Times Is a Charm

For me, Sedona, Arizona is one of the most beautiful, sacred places on the planet.  I visited for my third time this fall with a group of women for our annual retreat. We stayed at a resort called “Enchantment”, artfully crafted into the red rock of Boynton Canyon. The red rock cliffs and canyons are said to house some of the most powerful energy vortexes in the world as well as sacred burial grounds for Native Americans.  Whether you believe the energy vortexes exist or not, visiting Sedona helps you to see things differently from the many amazing vistas and perspectives that are unique to this desert locale.

Sedona 1

This picture was taken on Bell Rock - the twisted branches on the trees are said to be caused by the energy vortexes.

Sedona 2

This picture was taken just before we set off on our morning hike at 5 a.m. AWESOME!

Daily hikes, meditation, Reiki and massage treatments, visits to town for Tarot Card readings, art gallery hopping and evening dinners under the desert stars were all part of our amazing adventure. Three take aways that I would like to share with you are:

  1. A quote by Mahatma Gandhi that I saw on the front of a T shirt in a souvenir shop. I didn’t need to buy it to bring it home with me: “The way to find your self is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
  2. A book called A Survival Guide for Landlocked Mermaids by Margo Datz.  The book is beautifully illustrated and comes with pearls of advice for landlocked mermaids. A must have for women of every age.  The funny thing is the book was introduced to us by a man.
  3. My own thoughts as I looked out over the vast expanse of red rock………a feeling of being connected to everything….gratitude for family, friends and good health, and a sense that for just this moment, all is well in the world.

Sedona 3
Three is a charm!

Creatively Yours,

Angela