Thursday, November 22, 2007

More Links and Inspiration on this US Thanksgiving.

Hold on to what is good even if it is a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe even if it is a tree which stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do even if it is a long way from here.
Hold on to life even when it is easier letting go.
Hold on to my hand even when I have gone away from you.
--Pueblo Blessing

Though my soul may set in darkness,
It will rise in perfect light.
I have loved the stars too fondly
To be fearful of the night.
--Sarah Williams

It's Thanksgiving in the States, and tomorrow is the start of the wild, crazy, consumerist, give-me-all-your-money-right-now nightmare that used to be my favorite time of year! I'm looking for ways to take it back, to recreate generosity, joy, and light in the season. So be warned, blogging may contain gingerbread and plumb pudding recipes!

(And remember tomorrow is Buy Nothing Day!)

I was poking around on jaihn's bookshelf (an EXTREMELY cool thing to do) and found John Lane's "The Spirit of Silence: Making Space for Creativity." Intrigued by the title, I went to Amazon and took a look inside. The table of contents lists chapters like Spiritual Space, Staying Quietly in One's Room (the creative use of silence), The Enemies of Silence (this chapter talks about the exaggerated importance of money and the myth of consumption among other things), Tools for Re-enchantment (The art of the commonplace), Just Live Right (about living in the midst of turmoil)

So I read what Resurgence writer Ian Skelly had to say about The Spirit of Silence.

What Lane argues for, rightly, is the restoration of a deep-seated sense of wellbeing. We should live in the moment rather than through it to take stock of what the moment holds. He suggests as a starting point “ the observation of sunlight on a blade of grass, the sight of a beetle crawling across a leaf; the worship of the day’s most commonplace events” . Beautiful images mirroring Blake’s precise advice to see “ a world in a grain of sand…eternity in an hour”, for it is there.

Lovely! I want to order this book right now, but in honor of buy nothing day I'll restrain myself.

From Resurgence I went to Care2 because they had 14 ways to refresh your life based on John Lane's "Spirit of Silence."

Refreshing Your Life - 14 Ways

"Many of us enjoy leisure, comfort and affluence, but have yet to find a way of discovering a life characterized by deep-seated well-being. Instead our lives are often marked by a void at their centers."

So here are their 14 SIMPLE SOLUTIONS to refresh your life:

1. Pay more attention to The Art of the Commonplace.

2. Give yourself more time for Creativity.

3. Don't forget to entertain Gratitude and Praise.

4. Explore the Healing Power of Nature.

5. Rediscover the Importance of Relationship.

6. Live in the Moment.

7. Spend time Looking for the Beautiful.

8. Consider the benefit's of the Meditative Approach.

9. Learn about Negative Capability (This is Keat's idea about being in uncertainty, Mystery, doubt "without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.") first hand.

10. Treat everything and everyone in your life with Reverence.

11. Don't forget the value of Seeing.

12. Explore the comfort of Simplicity.

13. Explore your world by Walking.

14. Celebrate the Virtues of Silence and Solitude.

From there I went over to New Dream and took a look at their Kids & Commercialism section. They have a lot of free inspiring downloads for parents (and really they are for anyone but I guess parents have the most stressful time during season.) New Dream is all about reducing stress and increasing personal fulfillment.

Here are some of their very lovely, generous, non-commercial gift ideas:

1: The makings for hand puppets: Brown lunch bags (or wild colored socks), googly eyes, stray buttons, scissors, markers, etc.

2: Box of dress up clothes: Old dresses, high heel shoes, cowboy boots, collared shorts, and millions of other fun outfit ideas can all be found at thrift or second-hand stores have great selections. (Here we have Frenchy's. I'd give kids a gift certificate for a trip to Frenchy's. Did this with a nephew, and it is a blast!)

3: Jewelry kit: All you need is string, beads, and metal clasps.

4: Upside-Down Day: Let kids set the day’s agenda (with parental supervision). Take off your watch, wear pajamas under your coat to the movies, eat dessert for breakfast, the list is endless when kid’s creativity is in control.

5: Homemade Bird Feeder Kit: Give your kids a big box of edible decorations (peanut butter, seeds, fruit, nuts, etc.) and some string and jars that they can use to build their own birdfeeders for the yard or balcony.

6: Teach a child to knit: Granted, you yourself must first know the tricks of the trade, but buying needles and yarn and spending the time to teach it can be a great way to spend time together and save on buying a scarf for the winter.

7: Write and illustrate a story with the child as the main character.

8: Booklet of your favorite memories: Write or type up your favorite memories of/with someone and lay it out in a book or on a page.

9: Personalized cookbook: This is a great way to pass along some of your favorite dishes, especially during a time of year when family gatherings mean lots of good meals.

10: Set up a monthly lunch date or phone call: Perfect for elderly friends or relatives.

11: Monthly care basket: Works really well for those who spend most of the year in separate places. Over the holidays send them their first basket of muffins or banana bread for January, and then each month of the year send something new to go with the theme of that month.

12: Gift of art: For grandparents, a framed picture drawn by a grandchild is the perfect present.

13: Make your own cards and send them to relatives and good friends.

14: Make your own calendar using cut-out pictures, photos, and/or drawings.

15: Special activities with a significant other--a candlelit dinner, massage, or outdoor activity.

16: A monthly lunch date with an elderly relative or friend.

17: Gift certificates: Dinner and a movie, a home-cooked meal, a car wash, a day of babysitting, etc.

18: Reconnect with someone: Call an estranged friend or write a letter to someone you haven’t seen in a few years.

19: Shovel snow for a someone, even if you remain anonymous, it will make their holiday season.

20: A jigsaw puzzle for the whole family.

21: Set up a family tournament in your favorite card game whether it is Gin Rummy, Hearts, Spades, War, Go Fish, Twenty-One, Speed, Spit, Uno, etc.

22: Tickets to a favorite cultural or sporting event

23: A family hike, game of capture the flag, tag, or hide-and-go-seek.

24: Buy renewable energy credits: Credits help offset the environmental costs of our energy needs by funding renewable energy sources, like wind and solar power, elsewhere on the grid.

25: Take a friend off of junk mail lists: Generate automatic forms with your recipient’s name and address at Do Not Junk site to reduce unwanted mail by 50 percent. Present the forms in stamped, addressed envelopes ready to sign and mail.

26: Assemble a Turn the Tide gift basket with compact fluorescent light bulbs, forms for getting rid of junk mail, delicious recipes and a note about how the recipients can log on to and see exactly how much of a positive impact they're having on the environment.

27: Buy a potted Christmas tree and replant after the holidays. (You can also have a tree planted elsewhere in someone's honor through American Forests.)

28: Instead of new wrapping paper, reuse old paper—the Sunday comics section, old maps, decorated brown grocery bags, or a colorful piece of material.

29: Alternative Gifts International offers a wide array of global gifts that can be given in the name of your friend or relative. Their partner organizations include 33 projects such as Fuel Efficient Stoves in El Salvador, Conquering Tuberculosis in North Korea, Literacy Training in Senegal, Land Mine Awareness in Vietnam or Organic Gardening in Belize. Contact Alternative Gifts at 1-800-842-2243, P.O Box 2267, Lucerne Valley, CA 92356. Free catalog from or

30: Give a donation to a local cause such as a soup kitchen, a shelter for battered women, a local environment group, etc. Call local churches, synagogues, and charitable organizations for ideas.

31: Give a friend a membership to a non-profit organization. allows you to donate online to thousands of charities.

32: Re-gift: Although many times the idea is misconstrued to be taken as a way to get rid of your junk, when done right it can serve as a great way to save your money, and the earth’s resources. When you re-gift, it makes it possible for that lonely blue sweater that you always try on, but that never looks quite right to become your friends second-date-brings-out-her-blue-eyes sweater.

33: Share a love of reading: Give away the last great book you bought and enjoyed to someone who shares your taste.

34: Shop thrift stores in your area or online: This serves as a large scale version of re-gifting where the options are endless. You’ll be amazed at what folks are giving away free or selling for almost nothing.

35: Cookie Swaps: Everyone loves cookies, but who really enjoys the giant, goopy mess of mixing a gazillion different kinds? Instead, bake in bulk and share. Invite a group of 6 friends over who each make six dozen of the same kind of cookie, and each can go home with a dozen of each kind.

36: Name Drawing: Instead of making or buying gifts for all your nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, grandparents, half-brothers, etc. try a name drawing. Place the names of everyone in a hat and have each person pick a person to give or send a gift to (If someone isn’t there you can pick a name on their behalf). This saves everyone the time, effort, and money of trying to find presents for everyone in the family and instead allows you to focus on doing/making/getting something for just one person.

37: Secret Gifter: To throw a little twist into the Name Drawing you can make it secretive and do lots of little things or give lots of small gifts to your person for a week and then on the last day, with the last gift, you reveal your identity. The secret name drawing is great for groups of friends or family that you see on a regular basis and who live in your area.

38: Dutch Auction: In the Dutch auction everyone shows up with one wrapped gift. You lay all the presents out on the table and then pick numbers from a hat. Number 1 starts by picking a present to open. Once everyone sees what is inside it is Number 2’s turn. Number 2 can either steal the present from Number 1 or pick to open a present from the table. If they take Number 1’s gift, then Number 1 gets to pick from the table again. This goes on with each successive person getting the option to either pick from the table or steal any of the already opened gifts. For example, Number 9 can take the presents of Numbers 1-8 or can pick a new one. There is one final rule. A present can only be stolen once, so once Number 6 takes Number 4’s present, nobody that goes after Number 6 can steal Number 6’s present.

39: Alternative gift fairs offer a chance to channel some of your holiday gift dollars to good causes, while sharing a little goodwill with others in your community. If, however, you missed the fair in your area, don’t despair. Online options abound.

Isn't that great?

Finally Lore reminded my of Sarah Fishborn's blog. Lots of lovely ideas and things to look at there. She even has free downloads from old children's books.


jaihn said...

Another Splendid post, Lani.
Glad my bookshelf offered inspiration... and delighted that it merits your "E.c." rating!
And how funny about the timing of BND...!
Enjoying Sarah Fishborn's jukebox as I write - usually I turn them off immediately...
Giving thanks for your generous creative gifts, dear L.

Lani Gerity said...

You are so welcome!
Keep on inspiring!