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jeshyr: A flower with text "In life's name" (Young Wizard - In Life's Name)
I've been really sick with a nasty virus which seems to cause migraine sufferers to end up with 10 or so days of migraines, but only produce a mild headache and generic virus symptoms in non migraine sufferers. So migraine, migraine, migraine ... it's at a low ebb right now, but if I use the computer too much it'll come back so I'll keep this short.

With Apple announcing their iPad I also had to rush-produce an article about Accessibilty and the iPad which used up what little energy I had collected.

Due to the same migraines, unsurprisingly, gift-related activities have also been small. I've written slogans on about 10 of the origami hearts and promptly given them away ... ahem. That was not my plan, but I felt that each time I had written a few somebody who came here really needed one of them, so I went with what felt right. I'll be making a few more to make sure that I have at least 35 of them on my birthday day, assuming I'm well enough. I'd really like to have 35 of them all finished on day 35!

I've also given away a few more keychains, including (in advance) the one I'm currently working on and one I haven't even started yet! This means I now have negative 1.5 keychains so I had better finish making these two. I've been experimenting with a new method of braiding that produces round braids instead of flat ones and it's tempting to play with new techniques instead of finishing these two keychains. I am nothing if not persistent though, so they'll get done.

My wonderful gift-to-myself new screen finally arrived today, a few days later than expected due to the courier company messing up and confusing the "sender" and "recipient" addresses and delivering it back to the shop before they got their act together. Due to a lack of helpers I haven't even been able to see it yet, but the enjoyment of just having the box in my living room is awesome! Hopefully I can collar a geek or two this weekend to help me - any volunteers?

With the help of my wonderful carers I've been rearranging some of the cupboards in my kitchen (by "I've", I mean that I've been masterminding the process and they've been doing the physical bits, for those not familiar with Ricky-speak). This has included discovering that for some items I've got two (or three, even) of the same item - not so surprising since last year I absorbed all of my Nana's kitchen things into my kitchen. I've put all the spares out on my coffee table to be offered to friends and the local op shop, in that order. Already been able to give a whole, if small, set of cutlery to one friend which is great.

I have given out extra compliments in the form of some emails and comments to friends who came to mind as needing them. Some text messages too. I've also been able to provide hugs and listening to a friend in some emotional distress, which I felt grateful to be able - and asked - to do, but helpless that it was all that could be done.

I have procured a secret gift for another friend, but I'm fairly sure she reads this journal at least sometimes so I'm not telling you about it!

A neighbour with two little children (a 2 year old and one who's crawling) popped her head in my garden door to say G'day today after her elder child came up to the door in an effort to find the cat. I was able to reassure her that the sign saying that children were welcome in my garden really was serious and that if it meant occasionally a toddler pulled out a plant or broke something then that was fine with me and not to worry. I had to say it several times in different ways and explain a little bit why I felt like that before she believed it at all, but I think I was able to put her mind at rest - there's a lot of stuff that little kids can pull, pick up, push around, and so forth in my garden and she was very worried that I'd be upset. Honestly, I adore the fact that the kids like to play here and I love watching them and if a kid manages to wreck something we can always plant another and it will grow again. The fact that these city kids had a chance to play in a garden without too much "don't touch that!", and that I got to enjoy their delight in it, those are far more important - and bigger gifts to me - than any plants or soil or ceramic statues could ever be.

Oh, and I've been practising my expertise as cat furniture for Anekin, especially today as he seemed to be experiencing painful joints again unfortunately. Thankfully, most days have been good days for him and he's doing a terrific job looking after me in this migrainey time.

I guess lots of gifty things have been happening, really. It's just all perspective, isn't it?

Three Good Things


  • Anekin's love, hugs, and lickings while I've been feeling so sick

  • So many wonderful audiobooks and podcasts to keep me from doing nuts with boredom when I'm too migrainey to look at the screen. Currently reading S M Stirling's "The Sunrise Lands", part of a series I've been going through.

  • The weather has been quite mild, which is an extra-good thing while I have a virus. I can deal with hot days with my air conditioner but it's one extra thing I'd have to cope with and I feel that my reserves are very low.


Cheers and love to you all,
Ricky
jeshyr: A flower with text "In life's name" (Young Wizard - In Life's Name)
These are the phrases I've collected and want to put on my origami hearts.

Cut because these are mostly about physical appearance )

Cheers,
Ricky

PS
Sleeping now. Promise!
jeshyr: Blessed are the broken. Harry Potter. (Default)
Trying to remember all the gifty things at 12:07am is perhaps not the smartest thing, but I have missed 3 days of journalling and I'm afraid if I put it off another day I'll forget more.

Dear readers: Here's a gift just for you:

I have (finally!) finished the Small Actions For Charity list!

There are a few other things as well as the click-to-give sites, and all are current as of now. I looked up for each one where the money raised is directed to, so you know, and also the ones which are only for one specific country or area are marked as such. There's a description for each one too. I'm rather proud of it now!

I hope you find it useful. The list's pretty long and overwhelming - how about picking one or two each day? I tried to load every link on that page into Firefox at once and Bad Things happened because there were so many links, so I might suggest not trying that :).

What else have I been up to?

  • I gave away my last finished keyring! I have one which is currently in progress and nearly done, but I don't have any which are finished. I'm proud of this. Sometimes it's hard to give away the ones I like, but seriously I don't even have housekeys - I don't need 50 keyrings :)

  • I have finished folding the 35 origami hearts for my Operation Beautiful project, actually I think I have about 40 as my slight obsessiveness wanted me to fold an equal number of each colour of paper. I also have a list of things to write on them and I have a pen ... so that's the next step!

  • I have been dropping little notes to people via email, phone messages, or SMS (as appropriate) just saying I'm thinking of them and sending love/hugs. It always buoys my mood to find somebody's thinking of me out of the blue and, from the responses, I'm not the only one.

  • I have told a bunch more people about my 35 Gifts project, and about Operation Beautiful as that's essential to understand the final gifts (origami hearts) and their meaning. Responses were very positive!


I'm having dramas with my current flatmate, who's going to be given her 4 weeks notice on Monday unfortunately. I'm stressed about this but dealing with it pretty well so far ... not sure if this is because it hasn't sunk in or because I actually am dealing with it well, though!

Three Good Things


  • Anekin is still going great on his arthritis meds with no signs of pain and no issues with him having all the liquid each morning. Yay modern medicine!

  • I'm mega proud of folding 35+ origami hearts. It was a pretty big effort for me and seemed to take a really long time and I persisted and now they look so beautiful!

  • It's nearly the end of January and I've been journalling here heaps and I am proud of that too, in terms of sticking at things but also pleased because it keeps me more in touch with my wonderful friends (yes, this means YOU are wonderful!) and makes me be more self-reflective which is generally a good thing.


Thank you for being such brilliant friends and a great cheer squad and I love you all!

Remember: YOU are gorgeous and amazing. Yes, I really do mean YOU. Thank you for being here, and thank you for being you.


Cheers,
Ricky
jeshyr: A flower with text "In life's name" (Young Wizard - In Life's Name)
I wrote yesterday about how I hadn't accomplished much "gifty" stuff in the past few days because of my health. [livejournal.com profile] cathy51 astutely pointed this out to me:

i am sure that no one is growling that you haven't got certain things done...we all know how hard [you have] to 'work' at keeping on top of life.


Cathy, you are 100% right. The only person growling at me about this is me, and honestly the point of this project oi really totally completely not to beat myself up about it! I do feel a bit grumpy at my body not cooperating with my ideas though, which of course is an ongoing problem. Sometimes it bleeds over into self-flagellation which really doesn't help the situation in any way.

I looked at the "22" in the subject line when I started this post and felt a little sad that the project is coming to an end. Not because that means I'm turning 35 - I'm very much looking forward to that now - but because I won't be as focused on gifting after the end. I think I'll still carry part of the project with me but I have other priorities I need to focus on too and that makes me a little sad. After the project ends I might start putting some a "gifting" heading in my journal posts like I've started putting the "Three Good Things" down the bottom again. That would focus me a little on gifting.

Today I gave three songs to my friend [livejournal.com profile] mikz. They were ones he'd requested I buy because of silly copyright zoning regulations so I gave them to him instead. He stayed down here with me right at the start of this project and his presence gave me so much enjoyment, a few cheap songs is the least I can do.

I also bought myself (gave myself) a new computer monitor! I've been wanting a newer, larger, monitor and had a lot of trouble finding one which suits my particular specific needs. Today I finally found one which was perfect and although it was a fair bit more than I'd planned to spend for the screen it's an ex-demo model so it's a really good deal. The screen is this 26" widescreen but the price is rather less than that website says. I phoned the company - Imagescience.com.au and they totally deserve the shout-out - and spoke to a very nice guy called Jeremy at significant length about my needs. Even though I must be their most atypical client ever, he was knowledgable and helpful and nice and put up with my fairly ignorant questions with significant class and charm. I have paid the 10% deposit so they can order it, and will pay the rest tomorrow or Monday when the transfer from my savings account becomes available. This is a huge huge gift to myself and I feel nervous and exhilarated and excited all at once - the nervous is "what if it's not worth all that money" so hopefully that'll go soon. I have a good record of my significant purchases turning out to be very much worth the price because I think and research them so very much before buying, so here's hoping this one keeps the trend up!

I worked on more origami hearts for my day 35 Operation Beautiful project today, they're coming together nicely although progress is slower than I'd like. Also worked on some hand-sewing for a cushion I'm making as a new commode seat (the second iteration thereof; the first turned out too small for the commode). In fact, I'm going back to do more origami hearts right now...

Three Good Things


  • The 35 Things project has got me writing in my online journal again, which is truly a huge gift to myself

  • It's gorgeous weather tonight - balmy and about perfect for laying around with windows and doors open, enjoying the smell of my garden outside

  • My room is looking very light and airy and peaceful-feeling after all the recent cleaning out and I'm really enjoying it


Cheers,
Ricky
jeshyr: Pile of wrapped gifts (35 Gifts)
Ugh.

Have not been so well. If this is a virus, it really has its fangs in me. If it's a response to lowering the Propranalol dose just after Christmas then I guess I'll know when I try raising it again next week. Mostly feel like curling up under the covers and throwing myself a very low-key pity party for the rest of the month.

Gifty things:
I've somehow given away all my remaining keychains except one! Not quite sure why, but I'm really pleased about it. It's not really significant of anything since I'm making them on an ongoing basis but I had tons of them around Christmas time and giving them all away seems cool.

Other than that, unfortunately, have been very slack on the giving front. Haven't even finished the click-to-give collation page for you all, although it's close to done.

I really do feel crappy physically, and since this is now been about 3 weeks it's getting a bit scary. I keep getting migraine-ish too - not full blown migraines but a low level of the same thing. The pain type is pretty distinctive so it's not hard to know when it's migraine-origin pain, luckily.

3 Good Things


Since this is a sort of whingey post, here's three good things:

  • The weather is cooler, which is just nice all around but also fits well with my "curling up under the blankets and hiding" mood.

  • Anekin seems to be feeling much better on the anti-inflamatory meds. He's much less snappy and more cuddly and friendly.

  • Cleaned the passionfruit out of my house today as it was getting to look sorta floppy and deaddish. I liked having it in here but it was obviously overdue to go and now that end of the room looks incredibly huge and airy in comparison!


Cheers,
Ricky
jeshyr: Pile of wrapped gifts (35 Gifts)
Phew ... today was a Day Of Drama And Exhaustion.

My cardiologist adjusted my meds (beta blockers specifically, to reduce my heart rate) downwards again this past Tuesday and my heart rate shot skyward. I was hoping (stupidly, in hindsight) that feeling awful was related to the virus I've had but I realised that really was stupid this morning when I stood up for 10 seconds to weigh myself and my heart rate went to 160 beats/minute. By that time I was too dizzy to read the scales so I decided that I probably didn't really want to weigh myself today!

Luckily the doctor in question has email he reads himself and actually answers quickly so after a quick exchange of information we "un-adjusted" the med back to the previous dose. The old dose was re-instated starting at dinner time today, but I still feel like a wrung out dishrag. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Having examined my exercise records I discovered that I've actually only managed the aerobic section of my exercises 3 times since Christmas Eve - I had chalked it up to Christmas/New Year payback, then the heatwave, then the virus but in hindsight perhaps the first downward adjustment of this medication (which happened the Monday after Christmas) actually contributed as well. I'll monitor for a week or two and report back, and I have an appointment with him on the 19th of Feb.

And just in case that wasn't enough stress on me, Mr Anekin Cat was in significant amounts of pain this morning - actually biting when I stroked the side that was sore. I decided to whisk him off to the vet's while the pain was worst on the assumption that the vet would be best able to check the problem when it's most acute. The vet says yes, it's osteoarthritis (left hind knee) and gave him a shot of anti-inflamatories and took blood to check his kidneys and liver were functioning well enough to have some ongoing anti-inflamatory meds. Blood tests are done on site so the results came in this afternoon that his kidneys and liver "look beautiful" (the vet said that, I swear!) so I have to send somebody to grab the liquid medication tomorrow.

Having had the injection, Anekin seems to be feeling much better than I am! Please note that even when ill I appear to be acceptable as cat furniture:

Photo of Ricky lying in bed wearing dark glasses. Anekin is splayed across her chest, relaxed and very asleep.

So Anekin has joined the ranks of the Official Gimp Brigade just in time for his 10th birthday. Time to put steps everywhere so he doesn't have to jump!

Things actually relating to the 35 Gifts project ... mostly this consisted of telling myself that I'd had plenty of emotional and physiological stress for today and didn't need to do anything I couldn't manage and that was OK!

I did fold about 5 more origami hearts and checked out the Operation Beautiful website for ideas about slogans to put on them. Which ones do you folks like?

Maizie suggested in a comment that I could gift you all with the list of the click-to-give charity sites I put together for my own use, which was a very smart idea! So I have been checking them a touch more thoroughly and putting them in order. Don't have the energy to actually post it tonight but it's on its way for you all tomorrow ... or soonish, anyway.

Everybody around me has been so very nice today while I've lain here like a rag doll, especially during the whole vet saga when I was a grumpy, snappy, stressed out rag doll which I'm sure is not nice for anybody around me. Thank you all for listening to my worst fears and not laughing at them. Thank you for all the hugs and shoulders to worry on. Thank you for understanding how important Anekin is to me. Thank you for being great friends!

I'd like to add a special thank you for Maizie. I got another post card today - she's sent me a post card pretty much every week for ... I don't even know how long. Many years! I have, at various times, covered whole doors and walls with Maizie-postcards showing me pictures of little postcard-size bits of places all over the UK and sometimes places further afield. Every postcard I receive brightens my day and makes me feel amazed and wondering that somebody on the other side of the world does this for me for so long, even during the times when I couldn't manage to email any "thank you" messages or reply to her. Thanks Maizie, I could never explain in words how much it means to me that you show me I'm in your thoughts - you'll just have to visit so I can hug you :).

Love & Hugs,
Ricky
jeshyr: Pile of wrapped gifts (35 Gifts)
Wow, 15 days down - nearly half way there and I'm still really enjoying this project!

My main gift for today was a donation to Médecins Sans Frontières who have been doing such wonderful international work for many years and are in the news particularly recently for their work in Haiti.

I also spent a long time today being "cat furniture" for AniCat who seems to be in a fair bit of pain. He's quite often been biting at (not to draw blood, just a "stop it!" warning) people who try to touch/move him, and not moving so much himself. He's going around furniture further to avoid big jumps. He's generally not acting like himself :( I forsee a vet visit on Monday if he isn't back to his usual self ... am thinking likely it's arthritis setting in - he'll be 10 in April and the weather has been hot/cold/hot/cold. Also it doesn't seem centered on any joint specifically, from my prodding/moving-bits examinations. I think he's just snappy because pain makes us all grumpy - I know about that well enough! Send good wishes for him please... if anybody deserves them, he does!

After being reminded by the lovely Ching Ya, I folded a bunch more origami hearts tonight so I've got 10 done. Just 25 more to go before the 3rd of Feb.

More tomorrow...

Hugs,
Ricky
jeshyr: Pile of wrapped gifts (35 Gifts)
Heat wave finally broke last night, ahhhhhhh the relief! It's just slightly warmer than perfect today, so I can deal with that. On the negative side, still feel achy and tireder than usual and grumpy and generally down so I'm thinking [livejournal.com profile] splodgenoodles is right about it being a virus and not just the heat. I hope it goes away quick!

Lots of gifting today though!

Bernadette, the manager of the HomeShare program that organises my flatmates, came over today and I gifted her with a keyring like the Christmas ones. She really loved it and wants to know about the 35 gifts project.

I also got my withdrawn money back from Kiva and invested in guaranteeing two separate loans at United Prosperity. Hopefully as those begin to repay I'll be able to make more guarantees at UP. That felt really good.

And I finally finished the new collar for Anekin and gave that to him! It's been "almost finished" since before Christmas and I thought I had a whole lot of work to do on it but I figured out that I could do just 5 minutes and it would work fine, so I did that. You can see a photo of Anekin sporting his new collar. It's made with the same friendship-band knotting I'm doing the keyrings with.

And now I'm really really really tired and need to sleeeeeeeeeeeeep.

Love to all,
Ricky
jeshyr: Pile of wrapped gifts (35 Gifts)
Was still hot again today and I still feel awful. Achy all over rather like I have been beaten up with a cricket bat, very low stamina, just generally hideous.

Also my brain isn't working so I can't actually remember if I did anything significantly gifty or if I just gifted myself with permission to curl up and be dead all day.

ETA: And now I even forgot to post this. I feel like today is one big dead loss!

r
jeshyr: Pile of wrapped gifts (35 Gifts)
Day 11 was yesterday. It was quite hot and my health is doing it's usual trick of being inversely related to the temperature outside. I don't understand why, it just does. So I was quite sick.

A wonderful friend, Pam, phoned me from her home interstate and we were able to talk. I told her about this project and she said that my audible joy upon hearing it was her on the phone was the biggest gift I could give her. I do really love it when she phones me - Pam is special to me for many reasons too complicated to go into here. She also has CFS so she is always understanding if I'm too sick to talk, or am feeling down. I'm very blessed by my friends who are also sick and hence empathise. It makes me feel much less alone to have people who understand what it's like, even if they are less sick than I am. I think the quote about Trouble shared is trouble halved is very true - to be heard and witnessed and empathised with really makes a huge difference.

One of the gifts I've been giving myself during this time is to try to get done tasks which I have been putting off, especially the ones which I feel are "hanging over me". There are some things which aren't fun and involve lots of time on hold on the telephone, or tedious stuff, and they've been in my "to do" list (actually it's a book) for far too long making me feel bad about not doing them. I've been doing these things to slowly catch up: on day 11 I finally phoned the mobile dental unit to find out why I hadn't had an appointment for so long, and discovered that I had to fill out lots of paperwork. So they're mailing me the paperwork to get back on the dental service. One more thing ticked off the list!

Today, Day 12, I got another task off the list by finishing a letter for my doctor about needing to move house. It's to go with my housing application to move to Mitcham and it had been waiting since the 9th of November - every time I saw it I felt bad but it was overwhelming me for some reason. So today I resolved to just start the task and, not surprisingly, got it finished and have emailed it to the doctor in question. Another one ticked off!

I've started making my origami hearts for day 35, but only got two made so far. My arms have been very painful these last few days, actually today my whole body's been very painful and I've been battling a headache that even painkillers won't shift. I think it's just the heat (top today was 43C/110F and now, at 9pm, 40C/104F) messing with my body but [livejournal.com profile] splodgenoodles pointed out I might have a virus. For some reason I hadn't even thought of that - she's probably right, since I have nausea and low energy to go with the headache and muscle pain. I'm trying to be gentle with myself and let myself rest lots, listening to audio books, when I'd really rather be doing more computer things. Can't have everything!

I really don't think I've given a gift to anybody else today, which is bothering me. Oh, I did go through the list of "click to give" websites but I don't feel that counts, somehow. It feels trivially small. I was planning to give a bunch of new handmade keyrings to the local assisted living facility for birthday presents and "just because" presents but due to the heat the person who was coming to get them has decided to come tomorrow instead. And feeling like this means I'm really not up to doing anything much ... I think I'll make a few more origami hearts - if I make 2 or more every day I'll have them done before day 35, so I will try to do some every day.

Thanks to everybody for all your encouragement and feedback and support - it's really lovely!
jeshyr: Pile of wrapped gifts (35 Gifts)
Wow, up to day 10! I'm more than 1/4 of the way through this ...that seems quite odd, the time's gone fast.

Biggest gift today was a monetary gift I gave to the Australian site I Give A Buck. It's a very new site that I learned about because Mum mentioned in a comment on a previous post (thank you!).

I can also reveal the seekrit gift I alluded to a few days ago which was for my brother's engagement party. He's really not the gift-oriented type, and has been living with his girlfriend for several years so they don't need the sort of "setting up home" stuff I believe is traditional at engagement parties so Mum was saying "What do you want for a gift" and he was busy saying "Nothing" a lot. That's no good, we like giving gifts, so Mum persisted eventually he said that he would love a box of Maltesers.

A bright red bag of maltesers

I'm told Maltesers don't exist everywhere in the world but basically they're spheres of not-very-dense honeycomb candy [ETA: [profile] dammed_colonial tells me this is called "sponge candy" in the USA] about 1cm across covered in low quality milk chocolate. I hate them, personally, but evidently my brothers have less taste than me.

Mum didn't think a box of Maltesers was a suitable engagement gift so she persisted with a request for something a little more complex and he finally said that he would like a dog made out of Maltesers, not being at all serious of course. I think at this point Mum realised she wasn't going to get a sensible answer out of him and gave up. But Mum mentioned this to me and as you might have realised by now I am both insane and have an excess of creative energy... I tried first with florist's wire and Maltesers and completely failed to make a three dimensional dog that would stand up for more than about 3 seconds. A lot like me, really ... standing up is easy, staying up's the problem!

Anyway, I redirected my efforts and ended up using a base of butter icing (I asked for fondant but my carer bought the wrong thing. Luckily it set OK) and sticking Maltesers in a dog shape into it and created this:

A picture of a dog made out of maltesers on an icing base, sitting on a chopping board covered in tinfoil

The ears are the corners of a Cherry Ripe because I couldn't make balls pointy enough to look like ears. All the rest is just Maltesers on an icing base. It was presented to him today along with, apparently, enough Maltesers that he's going to be eating them until he has eight kids. I hope he really does like eating them!

Today is hot hot hot and STICKY and I feel gross and hot and ick and I am resting now. The cat has been clinging to me like a limpet because he thinks I'm trying to freeze him to death by putting on the air conditioner so he needs to share body heat. This is not helping but he's nice to hug!

Cheers,
Ricky
jeshyr: Pile of wrapped gifts (35 Gifts)
I'm writing this the next morning because I was too tired yesterday, but I'm going to write it as if I wrote it last night. So "today" in here means "day 9". I hope you're now as confused as me.)

I gave away a TV today!

OK, so it wasn't actually my TV. Mum and Dad had bought a new TV so they had one they didn't need and nobody they knew needed it so they brought it over here. I didn't need it but I figured I could find a friend who needed it and I did! It was wonderful to be able to offer and give it to the person I gave it to, and she was so very pleased. I was very happy.

I spent some time sorting through the fine print of the "click to give" websites and finding ones which seemed worth it and I've saved the folder of bookmarks so I can open them all at once. It'll only take a minute or two to click on all the pages, which is a very small amount of time and I can do it when I'm busy procrastinating anyway :).

I finished another keyring this evening which was satisfying. I'm still hanging them on my Christmas tree (you can see my Christmas 2009 photos if you haven't already) to give away but it's the 8th of January so I do rather need a different method of displaying them! Perhaps I can find a gum branch to hang them from instead? I have, as I wrote this, added "New keyring display method" to my "To Do" book, so I'll think about it at least!

I can't remember if I wrote about this but I've also been thinking of finishing this 35 Gifts project by giving away 35 individual gifts on my birthday day. I won't be able to make 35 keyrings by then - I can do about 2 every 3 days so there isn't time. Something I could do is make 35 of the flat origami hearts and write messages from Operation Beautiful on them and give those out and ask others to distribute them for me. I have some quite large origami paper that I'd like to use up and it would be perfect for this. So I think I'll do that.

Very tired day today (which is why I'm actually writing this the next day - I fell asleep). Couldn't do all my physio which is depressing. I think it's the heat - even though I'm in my air conditioned cave it still somehow has an effect ... whether it's the constant noise and air movement from the air conditioner or what I have no idea but I still feel worse on hot days.

More resting now. I'll try to write day 10's report on the actual correct day :)

Cheers,
Ricky
jeshyr: Pile of wrapped gifts (35 Gifts)
Mik stayed here yesterday and left today to go back to Canberra. It was great having him here, the company was a real gift to me and he also expressed how much he enjoyed being with me. I really love that he's happy to bring his laptop into the room where I am and we can just both work and be with with only occasional/minimal talking. It's not exhausting to me like having visitors is, and it's hard to find people who are OK just being with without feeling they have to talk all the time. My old flatmate used to do it sometimes (although not as much as I'd've liked), but the new one doesn't do it at all and I am really sad about that.

Yesterday Mik brought Liz (who I know but haven't seen for about a decade) and Maia (who I hadn't really met before and have probably spelt wrongly) over late in the evening. I was very iffy about saying "yes" that they could visit so late but it turned out to be wonderful and low key and not stressy and it was so so SO good both to see Liz and reconnect and to meet a new person. And I was able to gift them both with keychains, so I felt very happy. I told them about the project and how I wanted to transform my feelings about my 35th birthday into happy ones and they seemed to understand which was great.

Mik left this afternoon and I miss him already. His presence made the house feel different even though he had to work most of the time we got to have some great discusions. I tried to just listen when he needed it and I think I did OK - that was another gift I wanted to give him, to just be able to say whatever without being judged either way. Just to be heard.

I have been gifting my angel of a cat, Anekin, with many extra cuddles recently. Not just project-wise, but I can see he's starting to get old and a little arthritic now and he's going to turn 10 in April. I'm seem to have suddenly realised he won't be with me for the infinite future and it's frightening. He's such a special cat and was gifted to my by such a unique process that I doubt will ever be repeated. I'm mostly reminding myself that Burmese cats, especially mostly-indoor cats like Ani, usually live a lot longer than 10 years and that he's not going anyplace soon and don't think about the rest. I have enough trouble without borrowing it!

I have gifted a special secret present for my brother's engagement gift on the weekend. I won't be able to be there of course but Mum and Dad turned up today to pick it up (and visit me) and were able to transport it home. I forgot to take a picture but Mum has kindly taken one and emailed it and I promise to post it - and the story of how it came to be - after the weekend once the recipients have seen it. I hope they get a good laugh out of it.

I withdrew the US$110 that I had sitting in my Kiva.org account because of loan repayments, to find at the end of the process the lovely message that my withdrawal would be processed in 1-3 weeks! This seems really excessively slow to me, which makes me even more frustrated with Kiva. Somebody asked when I posted about switching my loaning from Kiva to United Prosperity what my problem with Kiva was - it's partly that they've switched their mission from alleviating "extreme poverty" to alleviating "poverty" which does not match what I want to do, partly that they are lending money to people in first world countries which is pretty much contrary to their originally stated aims (and to what I want to do), and partly that as United Prosperity uses the loan money as guarantee money rather than as direct funds to microlenders I believe that my small amount of money will do more good there. I don't think Kiva are evil or anything - they obviously do a lot of good for a lot of people. I just choose to help do my good in other ways now. I am frustrating about the "1-3 weeks" my withdrawal will take though, that really seems like they're just hanging into my money and the few microcents of interest they can make on it for a few more weeks which reinforces my wish to go elsewhere. It's a very bad almost-last impression to leave.

I have been trying to gift myself with more non-computer time, whether it's in the early mornings or at other times. It's been nice and something I very much want to keep up with. It's tough though with the internet hitting that reward center in my brain so often! Must keep reminding myself how much I enjoy non-computer time.

My friend Em also came to visit today which was fantastic - I really enjoy spending time with her, and it's very relaxing. We have resolved that once her schedule has settled down she'll come over and have dinner once a week, which is a gift for both of us I think. She lives alone and she's my friend and we enjoy just being together, and I love having her here as she's generally a low-stress person for me to have around.

I am sorting through the myriad of click-to-give websites around to see which seem legitimate and worthwhile. Some, when you read the fine print, are very misleading which makes me frustrated.

I have felt much better today - pretty much back to my pre-Christmas self except for a persistently sore neck which my massage therapist (and a lot of ibruprofen!) is working on steadily. I was able to do my pre-Christmas amount of exercise without any bad effects which is good. Hopefully now I can get back to doing both the physical and mental exercise (scrabble, Free Rice, and coding) consistently again.

I have finally ordered some wall stickers that I've been coveting for a long time. I saw the Fun Play Dream Laugh stickers early last year I think, and I immediately wanted a set done for my own four focus words: Joyful, Serene, Evolving, Fulfilled[*]. I've had those words on my wall as part of my photo board for several years, but now most of the posters have been taken down they're not there. I've finally ordered them and I approved the art today, so I should have those just in time for my birthday which seems right and proper.

In other, perhaps surprising news, I've asked a friend to do a full astrology reading for me. The odd part about this is that I don't actually believe in astrology in the usual sense of the word. I believe in it the same way I believe in Tarot cards: That they are a great way to get one's semiconscious/subconscious thoughts to surface by doing semi-free association. But somehow this feels like a Good Thing to do for myself at this point, so a week from today I'll have that done. I'm looking forward to it.

I've got to agree with others who have done this 29 Gifts type journey about the way it changes one's outlook. Looking around so constantly for ways to gift to others has really got inside my head and it's only been a week ... I hope these changes persist and grow. I feel now like my 35th birthday could be a real turning point for the better in my life - physically and emotionally and mentally all three.

Hugs,
Ricky

[*] Some of you may have noticed me using the nickname "Jeshyr" around the place. It comes from those four words and two more - Hopeful and Resilient. The "y" is for Fulfilled because there was no way I could make a pronouncable name out of the six initials otherwise! So we have Joyful/Evolving/Serene/Hopeful/Fulfilled/Resilient = Jeshyr. I'm very fond of that name.
jeshyr: Pile of wrapped gifts (35 Gifts)
I enjoyed today! I'm still more tired than usual but I managed my physio exercises for the first time in a few days and felt good for it.

Things relevant to my 35 Gifts project: I gave a card to Mik who's staying with me, "Happy 13600" which is how many days old he is today, just writing inside that I was glad he'd chosen to spend time with me and stay here. Cards celebrating so many days old was the idea my friend emailed to me - I realised that for almost anybody if I know their birthday I can easily calculate days, weeks, and months and there's a pretty good chance that one of them is a round number or some number like "66" which looks nice. It's a fun "just because" sort of card, to give.

I also spent some time playing the sort of online games like Free Rice and Help Thirst, and clicking on stuff at The Hunger Site and The Non-Profits. I've loved Free Rice for ages, but haven't visited the others before. If I'm going to be in the sort of mood where I want to play games, I may as well play games which have good uses!

Lastly I did some research for Mum and Dad today, about backup software for their external USB drives. Found what seems to be the best solution and let them know where to get it and that if they brought laptops and drives around that I'd set it up for them. Something that's easy for me and almost impossible for them.

Worked some more on the cards I've mentioned before that I'm going to get the librarian/pharmacist friends to give out for me. The actual cards are finished now - I just need to write in them.

Thought lots about compliments today, and thanking people who do normally thankless jobs - it's something I usually do anyway but I've been extra careful about it today. I had call to phone the Apple technical support help line today and although the problem wasn't totally fixed by the end of the call I thanked the techie sincerely for the great help I'd been given. From the reaction, thanking tech support personnel is a rare event... that's sad. I think society needs more "please" and "thank you" type "social lubricant" in it to run properly - it makes people feel appreciated and worthwhile.

Helping people to feel appreciated and worthwhile is a noble endevour.

That's all for today. I'm enjoying spending time with Mik, even when we're just in the same room doing different things and not chatting - I'm starved for that.

Hugs,
Ricky
jeshyr: Pile of wrapped gifts (35 Gifts)
Today was much better than yesterday!

I still feel very tired and my thinking's not quite right and my heart rate is up, but I'm not as bad as the last few days. Fingers crossed this means I'm just recovering from overdoing it at Christmas/New Year.

Today I worked on the Secret Gift For Brother's Engagement Party with some success and some ... amusing learning experiences, shall we say! Luckily a friend ate most of the bits I ruined, and said nice things about the less-ruined parts :).

I also worked on the anonymous card gifts I described in my last post. I have the basic cards finished now, I just need to write in them and add the $5 notes. I also had the idea of giving them to somebody I know well at either the library or the pharmacy (or some to each) and asking those people to give them to staff/patrons they thought needed them. This would still be anonymous, but at least the recipients would know the cards were safe! It would be fun too, co-conspiring is enjoyable.

Today I gave my spare room to a friend to stay in for a few days, or perhaps a bit longer if he needs. Having him around is actually really nice for me as well, although tiring because I use up energy being around him. But it saves him needing to get a hotel room or crash in his van, so I'm sure it qualifies for gift status! I actually offered him the place to stay several weeks ago and never thought of it from the "gifting" point of view. I'm not sure exactly how the reframing changes my perception of the situation, but it does seem somehow different.

I'm really liking this project today. Thanks for everybody's wonderful feedback, and an extra thank you to the person who privately emailed me with a great gift idea. I won't spoil the surprise by telling you her idea as I plan to use it at some point during these 35 days.

One thing about this project that I'm definitely finding: It's reframing the number "35" as a very positive one!

Cheers,
Ricky

PS
Got myself a "gifts" icon. Not sure I like the image of wrapped up gifts for an icon but I couldn't think of anything else which could symbolise the project.
jeshyr: Hands crafting a braid, with the words 'Clan Mitchell' (Clan Mitchell - Hands)
Yesterday was day 3. I had a very low-energy day. I worked towards giving several gifts:

  • I registered with United Prosperity in preparation for giving money to them.

  • I worked on several keyrings like the ones I made for Christmas, I finished two today and will be making more. I plan to give them to the local supported accomodation homes to give to residents on special occasions like birthdays. I gave ten keychains this way before Christmas and got very good feedback that they were loved and much appreciated, so I'm going to give more. I like making them, anyway, and I am going to run out of friends who want them soon! They make great bag identifiers and zipper pulls as well as keyrings, so they have lots of disability use. Come to think of it, local aged care homes may like them too - I'll make enquiries.

  • I worked on origami hearts which are going to decorate cards. I'm going to make up small celophane bags and ask the assistant who does my shopping to leave them around as she shops. Inside each bag will be a card with an origami heart on the front and a $5 note stapled inside. I'll write something to the effect of "Give yourself a gift - buy your favourite drink, sit down somewhere quiet, and just do nothing for a little while you drink it." I think I might put in small writing on the back a note like "This card is part of a 29 gifts project. For more information go to http://29gifts.com/" in case people are curious.


The gifts I gave on day 3 were very small things. My instinct is not to mention them, but part of the challenge is to see things as gifts even when they seem insignificant:

  • I gave myself the gift of peace and quiet by doing nothing for the hour between when I woke up and when my carer arrived. Usually I'd turn on the computer fairly soon after I woke up and I'd check email and work on my blogs, but I just rested and cuddled the cat and thought about gifts and listened to the birds sing. It was peaceful and nice and I think I'll do it again.

  • I gave specific compliments to several people, although now I'm writing this I can't remember who or what.

  • I spent a significant amount of the day stressing that I hadn't given a gift, but eventually got my insides sorted out and realised that I'm sick and that I'd worked towards several larger gifts (as I wrote above) and done small things so I gave myself the gift of gentleness and stopped kicking myself about it. I think this was important!


Today was day 4 and I was even sicker. I actually thought I'd missed taking the second magic mitodrine dose this morning because my resting pulse rate was about 20 beats above normal with-mitodrine levels, but it's been the same all evening with both pulse and feeling like a truck hit me. The pulse rate isn't signifying an infection or anything, it's just a good way of monitoring my overall health - the sicker I am, the higher my resting pulse rate is. Either I'm having a delayed reaction to doing so much over Christmas or I have some sort of infection/virus, but I feel reallllly crappy with very low energy and muddled thinking and feeling cold and needing to sleep and not feeling hungry and general "flu like symptoms" stuff. I gave myself a "free pass" early this morning not to work on the gifts, although hoping I could at least get the donation gift done. That turned out not to happen but some other things did.

I worked on planning my middle brother's engagement present. I'm not telling here what it is as the middle brother is net.savvy (he works for Firemint, the place that made Flight Control. If you happen to be an iPhone/iPod Touch user you'll probably know it!) but I can tell you it's a homemade Ricky Special(TM) and I'll make sure to take pictures before I give it away and I'll post them here once he's received it! Planning was mostly mental, picturing what I want to make and how it could go together, plus asking some people to grab things I need for construction. I'm excited about this because it's a fun thing.

I left my computer off this morning the same way I did yesterday morning. I really like having a slow and lazy start to the day (who wouldn't?!) although it does feel a little cut-off and lonely at times. It also felt decadent in a way though - interestingly conflicted feelings about that.

Aside from thinking, I don't think I worked on any physical gifts today. I gave (and therefore received!) extra hugs and thanks to people, and extra cat cuddles because they're theraputic, but I wasn't up to anything more. I guess my biggest gift was freeing myself from feeling pressure/worry about gifting for this patch while I'm extra sick. Hopefully I'll feel well in a day or two.

Hugs,
Ricky
jeshyr: Hands crafting a braid, with the words 'Clan Mitchell' (Clan Mitchell - Hands)
It was a glorious day for the first day of 2010. I had a really great day, despite some hiccups that could have upset my mood. The weather was lovely and I was able to sit outside on the step near my bed for just a few minutes which always makes me very happy.

I felt like I spent the whole day thinking about giving! I thought about how almost all my gifts have to be facilitated or actually carried out by somebody else (because of being bedridden), and I'm not sure how I feel about the way that changes gift giving. I've ordered an audio version of Carie's original 29 Gifts book to read, and I don't have a non-fiction book on the go just now so I'll start reading it as soon as I get access to it.

Because I was thinking about giving, I finally looked up a website to use to replace Kiva as I don't agree with some of the things their management is doing. It looks like United Prosperity will work best for me, which I'm pleased about. While asking, I inadvertently triggered somebody else to resume their use of the site which felt nice too!

I was feeling at a bit of a loss about possible gifts which are economically and physically feasible for me so I looked around on the 29 gifts website and found a great thread about simple gifts to give which I found very inspiring. I'm still bothered by the fact I can't physically manage most things without somebody else doing 90% of the work - is it still my gift? Philosophical question, really, but it matters to me.

Today's gifts:
  • I gave extra thanks and hugs to Dad when he acted as my "Knight In Shining Armour" and came to unblock my washing machine for me. Told him about the Knight part and he laughed :)

  • I stayed extra still when the cat was sleeping on my chest, even when I would otherwise have moved. He got lots of extra hugs - he gives me so very much every single day.

  • Made up an amusingly official looking "Certificate Of Wonderfulness" which looked like the sort of certificate you get upon completing an academic course, and addressed it to tonight's carer (it was T) and gave it to her with as much pomp and ceremony as one can conjure up with no other props while lying in bed. She was most touched and gave me a hug. She was still grinning when she left, which was nice.


I also taught T to make mini-quiches. This was mostly for my own benefit as I wanted them for dinner and she didn't know how, but I have a project of teaching her quick and easy meals as she has a strange idea she can't cook. Not sure who or what convinced her she can't cook, as she's quite capable - although lacking in experience and knowledge because she hasn't tried. She was so pleased with them that we took a photo of the finished product to prove to her family she really made them :). This made me think more about the double-directionality of gifts. Even the most anonymous leaves the giver with a warm fuzzy "I did something good" feeling. So in each gifting transaction (each transaction full stop?) both the giver and the recipient benefit in multiple ways (emotionally, possibly financially or physically etc., depending on the nature of the gift). Is there an amount of benefit to the giver where we stop calling it a "gift" and call it something else? If I get as much out of the giving as the person who receives it is that still a gift? What if I get more benefit?

Is it perhaps the intention that matters more than the outcome? If I teach you to bake me quiches simply because I want a quiche, is that less of a gift than if I teach you to bake quiches because I know you'd love to learn - even though the tangible benefits are the same in both cases? I think intention counts for at least something.

A thoughtful Ricky
jeshyr: Blessed are the broken. Harry Potter. (Default)
I gave my first gift!

It was a really hot day today. The top temperature was 38C/100F and it had that oppressive "thunderstorm approaching" feel all day until the storm finally began at 9pm. I suspect there will be a lot of very wet people ringing in 2010 in Melbourne!

I thought all day that I didn't know what I would give ... I had pretty much decided that I'd have to give an online donation to a charity that I support, but I felt like that was a cop-out in some way I can't define.

Evidently the universe had figured things out for me though, even if I hadn't - when my very hard working carer was here I asked what she was doing for the new year and she said she'd probably be asleep as she'd been working hard since 5am. I had a tin of sweets in my lap at the time, and it contained just 2 of the tiny chocolates she liked. I picked them out and gave them to her, saying one was for now and one was for when the new year arrived.

She gave me a huge hug and a smile, and seemed very pleased that I'd thought to give them to her. It was such a tiny gift in terms of money or effort, but obviously it had meaning for her as well as for me. I felt pleased (and a little relieved) that I'd given my first gift.

I'm going to try to think ahead now and make a list of gifts which I can give on days when giving is difficult. Some days I see very few people, or have long stretches when I'm alone. I hadn't thought before now but emailed or snail-mailed gifts are another possibility, although it seems it will make them more remote and almost abstracted. I'm really pleased that I've started this project. Roll on twenty ten!

Cheers,
Ricky
jeshyr: Blessed are the broken. Harry Potter. (Default)
Dearest Friends,

I just read my monthly Wildmind newsletter and one of the things mentioned was a book review of "29 Gifts" by Cami Walker which I have just read (the review, not the book).

The blog entry and embedded video just bowled me over. The basic idea is she gave 29 gifts in 29 days. The gifts were simple things like giving a tissue to an upset friend, or some pocket change to a beggar. The mindset change of the giver is the thing which really mattered.

I immediately thought that it would be the most fantastic way to start 2010 on a positive mental note - by giving gifts all through January. It's 11:30pm on the 30th of December as I write this, and "twenty ten" (2010) still sounds very much like the future to me. I know that historically it's 2011 that's the start of a new decade but it's 2010 that hits me psychologically. I think it'd be wonderful to start it by doing something special.

While writing a response to the blog post, I realised that the end of January is very close to my birthday; which is on the 3rd of February. Why not give a gift every day until my birthday? I was thinking this is a bit more than 29 gifts so I counted up the days. One more day of December plus 31 days of January plus 3 days of February is 35 days. Thirty five is the age I'm turning on that day. I'm not superstitious about numbers in the conventional sense[*], but I like it when things add up like that :)

I have been having a bit of personal angst about my birthday. Nothing major, just realising that 35 is half way to 70 and I haven't really accomplished much in the way of standard life goals and I feel weird about that. (Yes, I know I've accomplished heaps and I have perfectly good reasons for not having got married/bought a house/had a good job, but that doesn't change the feeling much).

So this is what I'll do. From 31 December until my birthday on the 3rd of February my goal will be to give a gift each day. It's not the standard 29 days that seems to have sparked an international "29 gifts" movement but I think it's what is most right for me. It also melds well with doing random acts of kindness, which is something my parents instilled in my from an early age.

So here's my public declaration of intent. I'm hoping to be able to post each day at least a sentence or two about what I gave, I'll make it a priority. If you notice I've missed a few days, you have my permission to poke me!

See you tomorrow :)

Cheers,
Ricky

[*] Note on superstition: I'm not superstitious about numbers in the conventional sense of believing numbers have intrinsic power that's external to me. I know, however, that certain numbers have psychological meaning to me and that makes them "powerful" in a personal way.

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jeshyr: Blessed are the broken. Harry Potter. (Default)
Ricky Buchanan

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