Category Archives: gift idea

Secret of Happiness: Send a Surprise Gift

Want to be happier? Send a surprise gift.

The last few months I’ve been the recipient of a few surprise gifts. I’m still marveling at their impact on my life.

unnamed-11. The window candles.

I was at church one morning last month and my body language must have indicated I was having a bad day. True. I was really sad. Denise found me and gave me a hug. I started rambling on about window candles. Why could I never seem to get them to work? After my mother-in-law’s death, I had inherited her window candles and was so excited to finally be that quintessential New England home with the December candles in the windows. I drove all the way to the store (here that’s saying something,) bought batteries, plugged them all in, and two days later they were tipped over, and all the batteries were dead. Dark windows. #fail

WHY? What was so hard about window candles?  Frustrated, I threw them all away. And was sad and mad.

Whatever. Unimportant. How are you?

“I might have some you can have,” Denise said. “I’m downsizing.” So nice, but oh dear. This would require something from me. They wouldn’t work and I’d have to find the right size bulb, and blah blah blah adding to more stress and stuff. Thank you, anyway 🙂

A few days later I received a present. Inside were six, brand new Christmas candles. No batteries required. All the lightbulbs worked. They light up automatically when the sun goes down and go to sleep when the sun comes up. They stay upright. And every night, for the past month, when I pull into the driveway, there are candles lighting up my dark windows in the middle of the dark winter in New Hampshire.

It’s a small thing. But Denise made this happen for me. And it makes me so so happy.

unnamed-2 2. A handwritten card from my sister, Andrea.

Even now, weeks later, I read this over and over. She wrote, “Thank you for being such a good friend…you wrote on your blog that optimism is your best trait. I disagree. I think your best trait is helping the people in your life feel loved…thank you, Amy, for loving me.”

It makes me cry every time I read it and I will cherish it forever, (especially when I’m crabby and not making anyone feel loved). A small thing. And makes me so so happy.

unnamed 3. Paintbrushes from a master artist.

I was completely overwhelmed when I received these paint brushes, some sample paper, and a letter in the mail a few weeks ago from Leanne. “You must simply start painting with watercolor because your eye is flawless.” Huh? Me? It’s true that I’ve secretly wanted to become Monet for a long time, but…you know. I pretty much assumed that if I hadn’t started by now it was too late. But Leanne said, “you must simply start!” This EXCEPTIONAL watercolorist was telling me I should paint. And so I obeyed! Brynne and I have been putting paint on paper, and artist Jill has invited me to come to her class, and I’m discovering this great art form and loving it so much.

Yesterday I painted a bird 🙂 A small thing. It makes me so happy.

DSC_03464. The gift of the rhubarb.

This past summer I was missing people. One day Tamar called and said, “I have a present for you but I have to give it to you in person.” She showed up with a rhubarb plant.

Oh dear. I had to plant something and not kill it.

“You won’t be able to kill it.” She said this stubborn rhubarb was weaving in and under her porch, reaping all sorts of destruction. She went to work on it, but was dismayed to see that she had unintentionally killed the whole thing!

“I was so sad. Every day this summer I came out to see if my rhubarb was growing back and every day there was nothing but dirt. Heather was dead and my rhubarb was dead and I was so so sad. Day after day. Well one day I came out and there was this tiny green shoot poking out of the ground! And I swear I heard Heather behind me. It was like she was right there and you know what she said? She said, ‘See! LIFE GOES ON!'”

And Tamar thought – AMY! She dug up the rhubarb plant, put it in a pot, drove all the way to my house, and told me the rhubarb story. “See! LIFE GOES ON!” And in my head I could see Heather standing behind me, pointing at the rhubarb in her strong, matter-of-fact voice. “SEE! LIFE GOES ON!”

My friends, none of these women had to bring me a gift. But for some reason, they thought of me, and then they ACTED ON THAT THOUGHT. They were busy with long to-do gifts and they stopped a moment to bring or send me a surprise gift.

They made me so so happy.

Funny the way gifts work. Friends and a sister put gifts in my lap and in the mail. They gave to me. But when I said thank you, I could see that they felt that same joy, too.

The best thing about a surprise gift is that it’s so unexpected. We expect gifts on our birthdays, at Christmas, and yankee swaps. But when a gift lands in  your lap and is so out of the blue, oh my goodness, it’s SO FUN! And it’s so entirely delightful to see the look on the recipient’s face. No wonder Ellen loves her talk show so much – she unexpectedly gives gives gives. Her guests cry and jump up and down, and we, her audience – WE LOVE IT!

If you think that making the world a better place is out of your control, you’re mistaken. Our circle of influence is our most powerful weapon for good. Start there and you’ll see – happiness has a ripple effect and continues far and wide.

Secret of Happiness: send a surprise gift. You’ll see it, you’ll feel it…happy.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

A Runner’s Holiday Gift Guide

Merry Christmas, all you runners.  And when I say all you runners, of course I mean you. 
Since it’s Cyber Week, let’s take advantage of some great prices to help you get moving this year. Even if you hate running (gasp!), I have taken it upon myself to inspire you in the coming year, to find your inner runner and be happy like Buddy the Elf, who was always running. And downing maple syrup.
 
Sometimes “stuff” really does inspire. And when you give it, you’re endorsing the wonderful world of LIVING. Here’s a quick list of inspiration.
 
1.  Socks.  The affordable gift. But halt – not just any socks!  Socks that won’t slip down. Socks that let you sweat. Socks that won’t cause blisters. I love Nike. They have a band around the middle that is super hugging and supportive. But just this morning I ran in a pair of Danskin that I got from Wal-mart and guess what? They were great! The price is nice, too.
2.  Sunglasses. These are just cool.
3.  Garmin Watch.  The price is coming down on these! Still an expensive gift, but just think of the joy on his/her face when this this special watch is unwrapped. Priceless. Even if you went to China, the satellite would pick up and you would know distance, pace, and overall time. I love this watch! They even have pink Garmin watches now. Marathon Glenn is drooling over a very special Garmin watch.
For only $14.99, this is a great piece of equipment. Do your knees hurt? Lay down and roll out your hamstrings, IT Band, and butt – I’m willing to bet you have knots that are pulling on your IT band, which pulls on your knee cap. I will come to your house (or make a video?) of exactly how to do this, but the roller does come with a how-to guide. Since I started rolling, my knee pain and knee tendonitis has never come back. Back pain? Neck pain? Butt pain? ROLL. This foam roller is like a massage, but way more cost effective.  
5.  Running Gloves Take your pick, there are so many good ones to choose from.

7.  Reflective Running Vest. If anything else, your runner won’t be mistaken for a deer or a bear or a moose in the woods.

8.  Runner’s Arm Sleeves.  These are fun!



9.  Headlamp.  You know, for those 5 a.m. runs.


10.  Runner’s World Gift Certificate This is a great, all-around health read.



11.Protein Powder. Jarrow’s is affordable, organic, and comes in french vanilla or unflavored, adapting to any smoothie.

12. Gift Card for Running Shoes. Brooks, Adidas, Nike, Newton Asics: They all provide gift cards! 









13.  Neck Warmer.  Help your lungs this winter. Protect your lips, chin, and cheeks from winter burn. Starting in November, I wear a neck/face warmer everyday until about mid-March. You can buy one for about $10 or cut and sew a piece of fleece together. Works much better than wrapping your face with a scarf.


14.  Itunes gift card for the ipod or make a personalized running CD to upload to the ipod.


15.  Shop the sales racks at Nike outlet right now – all the shorts are marked way down.  Your runner (or you) will be more motivated to go out this spring with a spunky pair of shorts waiting for her/him.


16.  Pedicure.  Your runner needs foot love.


17.  Pay for a race. One Christmas my dad paid for me to run the New Hampshire trail’s series – 6 races in 5 months.  It was one of the best presents I ever received.


18.  Stocking Stuffers:  Hair accessories, GU gels, Clif bars, SPF face lotion, SPF chapstick, massage gift card, Maisymak Runner’s Granola 🙂

19. Honeybells. 

One Christmas we received a big box of Honeybell oranges. Oh my deliciousness! Instead of ordering crap, excuse me, give good stuff!

 










The biggest benefit to any of these gifts?  It shows someone that you take health seriously, that we can do hard things, (which running often is.) When I receive a running gift, it’s validating…you believe in me.   

Perhaps, you will need to forward this post to your own Buddy elf, or stuff a few of these items into your own stocking this year (sometimes we have to help ourselves out, right?)

Happy giving!

Happy running!

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

Wrapping Newtown in Love

I know some moms who have started a love campaign for Newtown…
It’s simple, and lovely.  Cut out a heart from 8 1/2 x 11 size paper.  Have your kids write happy notes.  No need to go into all the details; just write a note filled with love.
Include first name, age, and state.  Hearts of all sizes needed.  Can’t think of a better thing to do with my time during the Christmas season.

Send to: P.O. Box 754 Bethel, CT 06801

Many, many thanks to the volunteers who will deliver our hearts. 
Please share this message so that Newtown can be wrapped in love this holiday season. 

You can find Hearts to Newtown on facebook.

Blessings, friends.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

A Runner’s Gift Guide

Merry Christmas, all you runners.  And when I say all you runners, of course I mean you. 
Be happy.  Run like Buddy.
I have taken it upon myself to inspire you in the coming year, to find your inner runner and be happy like Buddy, who was always running. And downing maple syrup.

But first, you need some gear.  Sometimes that “stuff” really does inspire.  Here’s a quick list of inspiration.

1.  Socks.  And not just any socks.  My favorite?  Nike.  They have a band around the middle that is super hugging and no slip.  Hmmm…Santa, Buddy…are listening?

3.  Garmin Watch.  It’s a pricey gift, but I rarely leave the house without it.  Even if I went to China, the satellite would pick up and I would know my distance, pace, and overall time.  Love.  They even have pink Garmin watches now!

See those prongs sticking out?  Deeeep tissue.  It’s quite amazing.  The $20 white foam roller is still a great piece of equipment, this one just digs deeper.  Definitely more cost effective than regular massage.  

7.  Reflective Running Jacket.  Or a reflective vest goes for about $15.

8.  Runner’s Arm Sleeves.  Buddy, I am seriously dying for a pair of these.  No, that was not a subtle hint.  There are so many colors to choose from!



9.  Headlamp.  You know, for those 5 a.m. runs.



10.  Runner’s World Gift Certificate


11.  Cookbook.  I don’t have this.  But doesn’t it look great?


12.  Cliff Bars.
 

13.  Gift card for running shoes










14.  Neck Warmer.  Starting in November, I wear my neck/face warmer everyday until about mid-March.  You can buy one for about $10 or cut and sew a piece of fleece together.  Works much better than wrapping your face with a scarf.


15.  Itunes gift card for the ipod or make your runner a personal CD to upload to their ipod.


16.  Gift certificates to GNC, Amazon, Nike, or Runner’s Ally (or any running store).



17.  Shop the sales racks at Nike outlet right now – all the shorts are marked way down.  Your runner (or you) will be more motivated to go out this spring with a spunky pair of shorts waiting for her/him.


18.  Pedicure.  Your runner needs foot love.


19.  Pay for a race. One Christmas my dad paid for me to run the New Hampshire trail’s series – 6 races in 5 months.  It was one of the best presents I ever received.


20.  Stocking Stuffers:  Hair accessories, GU gels, SPF face lotion, SPF chapstick, massage gift card, Amy’s Runner’s Granola 🙂

The biggest benefit to any of these gifts?  It shows someone that you take what they do seriously, or believe they can do something hard, which running often is.  When I receive a running gift, it’s validating.  Be Buddy’s helper this year, give the gift of running.  

And, perhaps, you will need to forward this post to your own Buddy elf, or stuff a few of these items into your own stocking this year (sometimes we have to help ourselves out, right?)

There a lot of new apps and gadgets out there that I haven’t used yet.  What’s your favorite running gift?  Let me know and we’ll add it to the list!

Happy running!

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

Countdown to Christmas with Children’s books

Spoiler alert!  If you are the Colorado Makechnies, you must go read another blog today.  Really, shoo shoo.

For the rest, here’s one of my favorite gifts:  Books.
We don’t buy Christmas gifts for every single family in our immediate family.  Every year we rotate.  This year we have Glenn and Kim and their two adorable boys, 4 and 1.  It’s sometimes hard to think of gifts that are useful and wonderful, exciting and fun.  My hope is that 4-year-old Tate will love unwrapping and reading a book each day and Finn will love crumbling and eating the paper!  Everybody wins.

I went Christmas book hunting at my favorite used book store, looking for only brand-new quality books.  It was extremely difficult for me to focus only on the Christmas books because I kept finding fantastic classics like Ferdinand and Little House on the Praire, in a large print, picture form for $1.  I bought them both for later 🙂  I have serious self-control problems when it comes to books.
I found 9 Christmas books, and wrapped them all individually.  Then I wrote out little count-down labels, starting on December 14th-December 24th, for which day to open which book.  The tenth book was for Mama Kim, Deliberate Motherhood.  And papa Glenn got a Santa Mouse coloring book.  Won’t he love that?
My kids have a basket of Christmas books we only bring out at Christmas, but now they say we have to wrap them up for our own little countdown.  And I’m inclined to do it as that won’t be so exciting in a few years.

Packaged, and mailed.  Here’s a link for 50 great Christmas books.  My favorite Christmas book continues to be the one my mother read to us when I was about 10, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  

“But as far as I’m concerned, Mary is always going to look a lot like Imogene Herdman – sort of nervous and bewildered, but ready to clobber anyone who laid a hand on her baby.  And the Wise Men are always going to be Leroy and his brothers, bearing, ham…And I thought about the angel of the Lord-Gladys, with her skinny legs and her dirty sneakers sticking out from under her robe,yelling at all of us, everywhere:  ‘Hey!  Unto you a child is born!'”

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare