Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Gift vouchers

Falling into a creamy cappuccino (figuratively speaking) is something I rarely do but oh how it embraces the soul and makes me feel good for a few moments, when I do. That is what I realized yesterday, as I celebrated reclaiming my life with Darls in a quaint Italian café house in my local near by village and all on a fantastic gift voucher given to us over a year ago.

Gift vouchers are an item you are given for example at birthday times, Christmas or as a thank you gesture perhaps. Often due to you then having to acutely go out and cash them in, at a place you normally would not venture, they find their way into a dark draw, pinned onto a cork board or left lying on the hallway table. Gathering dust, until as you clear some room for another item, they pop up reminding you it has either expired or giving you a guilty feeling of not being at the time “pro-active” and using it.

I have a few of these little treasures in a folder and as at the moment I am redirecting my life (my New Years resolution for 2016) I have decided I will acknowledge their potential NOW. The ones that are still open by me are for a thermal bath entrance, breakfast for two at an Italian café and a voucher for whatever I want from a local reform store. All of them allow me to give myself something I actual love, so I wonder why I have left them over the years to gather so much time on their dates of issue? Lucky for me they are all still valid.

I myself have over the years also provided friends with the typical gift voucher for purchasing that book they would like and not my novel choice. Or a cinema pass so they could view the movie they wished too or a money voucher for cashing in at your favourite shop, on treats you would not normally buy. At least that is what I envisage when I have purchased the voucher. Yet once my Darls mentioned he wouldn’t make the effort to actual go alone to an activity or remember to have it in his wallet when purchasing items at the given shop I have changed my strategy a bit.

I now give personalized “gift vouchers of time”. I purchase a lovely card and write that I will for example go to the movies, art exhibition, have a picnic breakfast on a scenic mountaintop or do an event of your choosing with you. I ask only that within a month of receiving my gift voucher, you set the date so I can do the organizing, including picking you up and taking you, for whatever your gift voucher is. That way the gift is really that – a treat for you. The bonus is not only it is actual used but rather that I can be part of what I give and see it really giving pleasure to the one I gave it to.

I have time to be with the receiver of the gift voucher as well and this is really important. Hence the gift of “time” is given in this manner. It is what actual never exists in our world today right? “I have no time, I can’t find time even to do that? I seem to never have enough time” are regular statements issued by us all. So giving your time for a defined action or event is a gift, which holds immense value. It shows you care about the person. It shows you will make time for that person and it provides both you and the receiver a space in which to create memories of having that special time together that would otherwise not have been.

You could think of this form of giving as “vouching for your gift” within a set space of time and participating in its actually being used. Perhaps you too would love to try this form of giving out in 2016 and see how it can expand your gifts into real moments of delight for the receiver, as well as you.

Warmest regards, your Korus

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Why should I write Christmas cards?

Upon the first day of January my reflective voice said to me;
What heavens above really happened to your Christmas cards from 2015?
Upon the second day of January my rational voice spoke to me;
Are you going to right a “stuff up” and get an email off to friends from the past?
Upon the third day of January my inner voice whispered to me
Leave the past behind, embrace your future but live in this moment “Reclaim your life this year”
Simply just be you …

Reflecting back upon the events of December 2015 have kept me truly “in my head” over Christmas, wrecked havoc with my body and had me do "mini replays" of events in my mind, till I have been literally robbed of sleep. That is often the case for a lot of us when unusual “things” occur and you ponder on the right or wrong of this and that. It is the ego in us, which wants rationalization. It is the adult in us that needs sense and order again and it is the child in us, which desires holding and soothing and reassurance. These “things”, which would seem so benign for many, which seem silly to give time and space recounting what happened though, are for me I would say are a life line. It is a desire for tradition coupled with a need to retain a connection to the past, which makes it’s recounting important from my inner child’s view.

Let me explain. In previous years I have at various times of the day and night got my Christmas list and cards organized. Sometimes I would start one month before the first of Advent to create my personalized greetings. Other times I would formulate a poem and rewrite it, time over time again, on special paper chosen just for the purpose of blending in with the words. Important for me was always to include a hand written letter, addressed to each individual person, with personal comments or reflections on their lives. Why I did this probably has its roots in two areas. My mother always fostered a Christmas ritual of writing out cards to friend, like clock work during the Christmas season. Always with the reasoning that keeping in contact could be done so you would perhaps have someone to visit the following year, if you were near his or her plot of earth. The other was the nuns of my boarding school, insisting that writing a letter or card was a personalized why of reminding someone you knew they were cared about. I liked this idea as a young girl and have fostered it as an adult since moving my domicile half the way around the world. I often receive cards back with comments such as; “I love getting your letters and living a wee bit a part of what your going through in your world” to “when I get your card it is always a reminder to me to reflect on Christmas, friendships and time”.

So this year I reduced my Christmas card address list down to a very small range of people of importance in my life. All got a personalized written message, some a letter. Those who might send me seasonal greetings and had not received anything from me would, I decided; get a new year’s postcard at a later date instead. Then I lost my pile of cards. One day I wanted to send them off and he next day I had a disastrous work experience that clashed with a personal health issue. By the time I was ready to begin living normality again in my life, eight days had passed and my cards were still missing. They were no where to be found no matter how hard I tried to revive them into being “here”.

Ok I stated, what am I being told by the universe? Cancel Christmas? No way. Give up on celebrations? That would be so not me. Forget keeping in contact? Such a shame I though and so passed loads of other dramatic thoughts through my grey cells as in frustration I focused purely on “those cards!” Honestly how could they just vanish? The time spent writing them was one thing; the value of the cards another yet the need to feel I existed for a reason was strongly questioned by this experience.

Only two weeks until Christmas Eve and not a single card had fluttered through my mailbox. So this was probably yes a double sign to give up ever recovering these Christmas cards I decided. The little sad child in me was getting rebellious. Thank goodness the adult soon took over – ok the energy I had invested in the first place in those batches of Christmas cards had already been put out there in purchasing, writing and reflecting. That could not be recaptured. It has now a past item. I was still here in the present. So I should utilize that. Nothing else should be focused on really but reclaiming the moment and acting upon it now. Live what I believe I said to myself!

So new Christmas “postcards” were purchased, addressed, stamped and a poem on the value of time, recited in the limited space given. Then I did something that was a first time for me - composing an electronic letter to all! Computer button punched “send” while also sending cards in the post: a combining of the virtual and physical world of sharing information.

The times are changing and not just because of my age either. My losing my original Christmas cards last year made focus on what is of such importance to me. I have family and friends who have died in the past year and their post has naturally stopped. Yet I also have family and friends who are alive and kicking and they never bother to exchange further a word with me. My writing Christmas cards reflects how I believe we share our lives with others and this plays a role on how we ourselves co-exist in this world.

Therefore in 2016 I reclaim my life and the manner in which I live it, by undertaking small rituals of habit.

Be these writing Christmas cards and sending them off. Thinking on a person and sending them a wish for health. Lighting candles in winter and reflecting on what I would like to shed light upon to understanding the issue in more depth. Whatever it may be that I do, I do it because it is for me correct. It is also part of who I am and who I desire to be. Not a fabricated member of a society ruled by tags and hubs and others perceptions. Rather a person of integrity who can be counted on to be there for you when needed, lend a helping hand or an ear to hear. To help you as well to reclaim your life, its ritual’s and ways as being part of the fabric of living. For me its all about keeping it together, to expand and not tear apart, those little things from the past that make the view into the future, one to look forward too.

With deepest gratitude, your Korus

The Listener

The listener doesn’t need to hear For his soul is already attuned; To the sounds that encase him Like a blanket that fits, Snuggly over ...