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Everything listed under: Mindful Giving

  • The Gift of the Magi

    Maybe you've read "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry, a short story originally published in 1905 and introduced to me at the age of 10 years old or so, when I was a bit too young to think it was anything other than sad and randomly unfair. The brief story tells of a young husband and wife couple who buy each other Christmas gifts without much money to spend. They each have one lovely and treasured thing. The woman has amazing, long, beautiful hair, and the man has a pocket watch of great sentimental value that belonged to his grandfather. The woman sells her hair to buy a platinum chain for the watch, while the man sells the watch to buy pretty jeweled accessories for his wife's hair. They meet each other at home that night and admit their cross purposes.

    From the vantage point of adulthood, now, I can see the point and the sweetness of how far these people were willing to go for someone they loved and how the useless gifts themselves weren't the important bit. I started my holiday season Thursday by cooking a vegan Thanksgiving lunch for 4. It was simple enough, 4 dishes and about 3 hours of cooking and cleaning tops, but it resonated with me to welcome family and friends to such an easy but well meant occasion. It was decidedly the most peaceful Thanksgiving Day I have ever had (excluding those of my childhood, when I was the unthinking recipient of other people's gifts of love).

    And now I am percolating about how to bring this sense of ease and peace through the remainder of the holiday season with me. How can I give gifts that are based on love rather than on "stuff"? Here are some ideas I have come up with:

    1. Keep it simple.

    2. Give one thing.

    3. Give an experience.

    4. Give in honor.

    5. Recognize that your full and mindful presence is the best gift you can give. Hair can be regrown, and new watches bought, but you can't be replaced.

    Here is wishing you a Holiday Season filled with ease, peace, and simple joys!

  • December thoughts

    Hello from my yellow (and red and green) office in Encinitas. The tree is decorated, the garland is hung, and one of my employees has admitted that she loves Christmas so much that she was driving around with decorations in the trunk of her car for the last month, anticipating the day she could reasonably start decking the office. Ah, the holidays: such a magical time and so full of good things, but potentially overwhelming. Here a few suggestions to take care of your skin, your sanity, and your beautiful Self in December:

    1. Slow down. Accept each moment as it comes. This sip of cinnamon tea. This local street parade. This treasured friend come to visit. This long line. This traffic jam. This empty tape dispenser. This cold morning. This quiet moment under a dark sky. This too, this too, this too. This moment is your life.

    2. Give mindfully. Give experiences: yoga classes, concert tickets, amusement park passes, hot air balloon rides. Wrap gifts in silk scarves or use reusable bags. Shop locally.

    3. Get off the crack. Erm, I mean sugar. Some people can savor a nibble of dessert here and there. Not me, I have to eat the whole thing until it's gone. Then I have a sugar buzz, and then I crash. Then I eat more sugar to make myself better. Rinse and repeat. Something about this time of year makes me want to reach for refined carbohydrates, whether it is the desire for that jolt of energy to sustain all the extra activity or because I'm trying to negate the urge to crawl under my down-alternative comforter and sleep when it's dark at 6 PM. Fortunately, Mother Nature has thoughtfully provided wonderfully starchy, non-processed treats (see the recipe below) that fulfill my craving for serotonin wihtout launching me into a cycle of edgy highs and sluggish lows. Besides, the carotenoids and other antioxidants in a sweet potato are way better for skin health than refined sugar.

    And you? How do you find ease and health amidst the hustle and bustle?

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