The Anatomy of Gift Giving (Valentine’s Day edition)

In the eyes of a Buddhist, maitri is authentic and pure love. It means to feel compassion, kindness, goodwill, and love toward all human beings, equally, without any exceptions—including our partners.” wrote Elayane Youssef on Ethical Elephant.

Last year I wrote about a day of love where Valentine’s Day is not only for lovers but for everybody you love from your partner to your friends, family and yourself. This year I want to follow the Buddhist believe to share the love even further to the people who you don’t know and who might need your thoughts, love and caring. But before I dive into how you can share your love with strangers I thought to discuss why it isn’t usually done and why we should do it.

The Anatomy of Gift Giving (Valentine's Day edition) - byLiiL

Gift-Giving

Very often we are believed and pushed to show our love for our loved ones, whether it is Valentine’s day, Christmas or Birthday, we should be gifting our loved ones. I love giving presents to my loved ones but I do have the feeling that gift-giving days are increasing each year and people who we must give presents to are increasing in numbers. Speaking with others about gift giving I’ve noticed that people put a lot of pressure on themselves for giving ever more expensive presents and Christmas presents are expected to cost a minimum of £100 for each person you are giving a gift. Making a quick calculation that would mean I should be spending approximately £2000 on gifts every Christmas, which would easily take me on 3 holidays.

Then there are, graduations, weddings and christenings, which again are wonderful celebrations, but when planning a wedding you are being told that the guests won’t enjoy the party unless you gift them with amazing souvenirs of your wedding, I start to wonder whether the wedding is for me or for the guests who get a free meal, present and a party in exchange for showing up, congratulating you and possibly bringing you a gift. Then we have leaving parties for the quick turnover staff, all the housewarming parties, great you got a new job celebrations, back from holidays gifts/souvenirs, some people gift each other on New Years (this might be a remnant from Russia where they give gifts on New Years instead of Christmas which is a deeply religious holiday), so will we be gifting the ever-expanding network of people in our lives on Halloween as well?

Is gift giving becoming the synonym of love and care, in the western countries, when we do not actually have time for the loved ones as much as we feel we should? It is shown in the movies we watch and many of us experience it. When I was a kid my dad went often on work trips and I got accustomed to getting a small gift whenever he came back, actually so accustomed that I remember asking him once when he would be going for another work trip as I was really looking forward to a gift. Those days he was away from home well over half the year. Now that I live away from my family and friends I always bring presents home, as though they would reimburse the time we’ve lost.

The Anatomy of Gift Giving (Valentine's Day edition) - byLiiL

Gifting around the World

In other cultures, gifts are not given for birthday and there are many cultures that don’t celebrate Christmas, but rather other holidays. However, most cultures still give gifts, mostly as tokens of gratitude for being invited to a celebration or for a business deal, but sometimes for love and for care as well. The one thing I found out about the different gift-giving habits is many gifts are either money or food, and in many cultures, different items can be perceived as rude such as umbrellas or clocks in China.

Essentially gift giving is an important part of human interaction that can be especially very important in many cultures and social situations. A gift can tell another person that one really cares, although to others it can feel like an unnecessary burden as reciprocal gifts are expected almost all around the world. And some people just don’t mind gifts but rather like support or company of the gift giver more than the present, which you can read more about in the 5 love languages.

The Anatomy of Gift Giving (Valentine's Day edition) - byLiiL

Gifting Strangers

I wondered why the consumerist market is not pressuring us to give gifts to strangers and those we don’t know until I realised that they do but these gifts are masked under the word “charity” or “donations”. Occasionally these charities change the wording to “give a gift of water” or any other gift, which actually sounds like a much nicer way to put it. Why don’t we, instead of just donating money, rather give a gift? Gift giving, as we’ve learned so far, is meaningful interaction. We think about what we want to give others, what would suit them and what would make them happy. Why shouldn’t we make it meaningful when we put money into a donation for a charity or when we are doing a charitable thing? There are many people out there who do not receive gifts, who are lonely, who are poor and who, rather than receiving anonymous money, might like the human interaction with a heartwarming gift. Of course with many charities, you are not able to see how your donation or a gift is actually impacting the other person, but there are some that let you know or see this happening. Alternatively, you can be generous and gift stranger that is located closer to you.

Although giving gifts and showing love and care to those you love is something that each of us cherishes, there are people who might need it more. There are already multiple guides on what to gift to your loved ones which you can google or check some of my older gift guides, but what I recommend is giving them time and possibly give a gift to a stranger. There are some great examples of gifts you can give to those who need them.

The Anatomy of Gift Giving (Valentine's Day edition) - byLiiL

Give Gifts To Those Who Need Them
  • Why not send a loving public letter to the big companies requesting them to send Valentine’s present to the labour making the items they sell and get rich on. The present could be a bonus for working so well or items that they really need in their lives but can’t afford.
  • Why not gift the gift of water to those in need.
  • Why not gift necessary beauty or sanitary products to your local shelters.
  • Why not gift a cup of hot drink to the homeless person on the street to warm them up on these cold days.
  • Why not gift a bag of groceries to the poor neighbour, or even better give two gifts in one by inviting them for a dinner to your house to socialise with them. (make sure that you are safe though)
  • Why not gift your company to the lonely elderly.
  • Why not gift blood at the blood bank, or even better your bone marrow.
  • Why not gift a bee with flower seeds that will bloom in the summer to give them more food.
  • Why not sponsor a child in a third world country and give them a gift of a better life?

Pictures are from Pexels.

The Anatomy of Gift Giving - byLiiL

Why shouldn’t we be thinking and loving everybody on this planet on Valentine’s Day?

With love,

Lii

 

You can also find me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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Best Books I Read In 2018

I read a lot of good books in 2018 and it was tough choosing my favourites reads, but here they are in order in which I read them. I hope they might inspire you to read them or to choose not to.

 

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

A literary fiction book that sets in the 1950s, the ’60s and ’70s mostly in Belgian Congo during a time of upheaval. It follows an Evangelical Baptist family who moves to Belgian Congo to a tiny village to turn them all into Christianity. The story is told from the first-person perspective by the women of the family, who describe the events, other people and their thoughts in the own unique ways.

I really enjoyed the plot, the way the author handled the history and the situation of the country, and how she explored the colonialism and white man’s way of doing things their own way which to them is the only way of doing it right. It is interesting to see the cultural differences and how they bump into each other and the patience of human’s in difficult situations.

The book has quite a dark and melancholy feel to it but is dripped with funny events that feel natural to the storyline.

Best Books I Read In 2018 - byLiiL

A Concise Chinese English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo

The book is a beautiful reflection of clashing cultural differences between east and west. It discusses it from the point of view of lovers, although other relationships do come along occasionally as well. It discusses the English language and the meaning of words and how they can be interpreted in different ways by a different culture. Or how different the expectations are of the relationship by people from different cultures and the different needs of people from different cultures.

The book is about a young Chinese girl Z who comes to the UK to study English. She falls in love with a man and she discovers her sexuality and self-identity through travels in Europe and the rocky relationship.

It is fairly easy to read and it has great insight into the western culture from an easterners perspective. It is fresh and beautiful!

 

Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Ruby tells a story about a black girl who suffers her whole life from the hands of one man who takes advantage of her innocence and fright. The story is mainly concentrated in a small town in East Texas in a black community where everybody knows each other as they do in small towns. Ephram is a reverends son who is in love with Ruby who is considered to be a crazy person and a whore. The story is haunting, aggravating, depressing and beautiful. It tells perfectly how other people can influence your own perception of yourself in bad as well as good, and how difficult it is to get rid of that bad. It tells how love sees into the soul through all the fences and it shows how the minds of a group of people can be manipulated by a strong voice and how any bad action, in a person’s mind, can be turned into a good deed.

Ruby is definitely not for the light-hearted, but it discusses many problems we face in feminism, racism and religion very well. I was so surprised by the story, with its hint of fantasy, and it stayed with me for a long time.

 

Pirate Women by Laura Sook Duncombe

Pirate Women was a very fascinating book which told the fictional and nonfictional stories of the most famous female pirates of the world from ancient Greece to the modern day cinema heroes. It portrays and discusses the female characters who are moved by not only love, but by revenge and joy as well, and is supported by historical and cultural events. It tells stories of strong women who I wouldn’t have probably heard of from anywhere else.

The book is well researched, very sophisticated and critical, but still easy to read and really interesting. It has a strong feminist voice without having to put men down, but with criticism and speculation for culture and women’s position in that culture. If you want to read about several strong women who took their lives into their own hands, this is an excellent read!

Best Books I Read In 2018 - byLiiL

Bear and Nightingale, and Girl In the Tower by Katherine Arden

I was so surprised by how much I liked the two books from the Winternight trilogy and can’t wait to read the next and last part of the trilogy. The fairytale trilogy follows a young woman Vasilisa or Vasya in Russia at a time when a woman had her place in the house making children. When Russian wasn’t yet one big country, but rather where Tatars were controlling all the groups of people around Russian territory including Muscovites.

The books discuss the old faiths and how they along with old cultures are wiped to give room for Christianity. It discusses a woman’s place and how Vasya is trying to challenge what it should be. And it is all wrapped in a historic Rus during the winter. The books are fast paced, filled with mystery and intrigue, and will make you want to keep turning pages. It is easy to read and one of my new favourite fantasy series! I read them as ebooks, but now I really want to get the actual books maybe even hardcovers as I liked them so much!

 

An Almond For A Parrot by Wray Delaney

A book that I couldn’t put down! This is a story about Tully who decides to be a whore to keep her independence and who is a seer. Her husband is adamant on kidnapping her even though she doesn’t know why and she has to rely on the kindness of her gallants and her friends. The book is erotic with a touch of supernatural, of great friendships, love, mischief and mystery. It’s excellently written and not too obvious.

 

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge

This is definitely one of the most important books to read in one’s life. Not only is it very informative, but it raises important questions about racism in our society and about class and equality in our society. It delves into the truths that you might not have heard of because they are purposefully hidden to drive you to think in a certain way. This book is eye-opening to the problems people of different colours and cultures face and to the white privilege. It makes me want to know more and investigate what else is hidden from us by those with power or what is fed to make the class distinction stronger. Read this book before you talk about it!

Best Books I Read In 2018 - byLiiL

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

This is a book that still makes me go aww, it was so beautiful! It is a very unusual story of how life can take its hope from stories or books, in this instance Great Expectations. It tells how sinking into the imaginary world can keep people sane or hopeful when the situation is far from it. I read from the back of the book that the story is beautiful, surprising, charming, heart-breaking and has some horror. While that is all true it made me surprised when the tone of the book, throughout, was melancholy and starts with childish innocence.

It tells how different cultures have to live together and how they accept each other, however, I hoped to read more on that. It is surprising in many ways. And it will make you cry and be horrified by people’s cruelty, but still being very honest at the same time.

 

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

A lovely collection of thoughtful, strong and feminist poems. Very thought provoking and often relevant to each woman’s life. I will be coming back to it over and over again!

 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

A really interesting biography of the life of a mixed raced boy in South Africa at the end of apartheid and time after it. Trevor writes in an entertaining but also informative way with his young naive thoughts and his adult views on the events. It tells about the different cultures in South Africa that he experienced and about his bond and relationship with his mother, which is really special and wonderful to read about. This book made me laugh out loud and cry. It gives you glimpse into another culture and how people survive in it. It also provides you with a different view on crime and what is right or wrong.

Best Books I Read In 2018 - byLiiL

I did finish 36 books, most of which I like, but these were my favourites. Reflecting on this list I realise I didn’t read any books on ethics or sustainability, which I need to change for this year. Also, it looks like I’m reading mainly female authors, but actually the list is more balanced there were just more books by male authors, that I read in 2018, which I didn’t like. We’ll see what the list is going to look like in 2019. Some of the books that I am excited to read this year are Villette, The Bees, Running with Scissors, The Winter of the witch, Spinning silver, Nevermoor, the Immortal life of Henrietta Jacks and a few books on fashion and ethics which I still need to choose.

Best Books I Read In 2018 - byLiiL

What were your favourite books you read in 2018? And what you looking forward to reading in 2019?

With love,

Lii

 

Happy Favourites of December 2018

Christmas – The time I got to take to just be. The end of December was very busy and a bit stressful, so I took a complete hiatus from social media, blog and work. Instead, I’ve spent time with loved ones, played games, watched a lot of tv, eating great food and too much chocolate, and given my brain a rest.

Seeing My Grandmother – Just before Christmas, I visited Finland to see my Grandmother who is staying for a bit with my mother. It was lovely seeing her after over 10 years and after a day of fumbling with how to behave in each others company we spend a lovely time together.

Happy Favourites of December 2018 - byLiiL

Time To Read – My preferred time to read is the morning before I start working or when I am travelling somewhere, but if I am stressed I rarely have the concentration for reading books. Now with the holidays, I spent every day several hours reading books and how I enjoyed it! I managed to finish 7 books in 7 days and therefore finished the year with 36 books read in 2019, which was my goal for the year.

Organising – I finally managed to purchase a storage shelving unit into our walking wardrobe. I’ve been planning it for several months in hopes that it will help us keep the little storage space we have in order. Until now that space has had a clothes rail and a small bookshelf left by the previous tenant, so all our stuff is piled on top of each other and it was a nightmare to get anything out of there. Now thankfully it looks a lot tidier, more organised and we can actually see what we have in the storage space. Hurray!

Forbidden Island – I received this new board game as a Christmas present and have really enjoyed playing it. It is based on co-operative playing where all the players are trying to survive without sinking with the island. It’s either all win or all lose and although it is stressful it is fun as well!

Recycled Wool Blanket – I’ve wanted one for ages as our flat gets pretty cold in the winter in spite of heating, but I couldn’t find one anywhere until I finally found Future Kept before Christmas! The blanket is so warm and cosy, I absolutely love it!

Illustrated Best News of 2018 – This is an awesome idea and so I wanted the post. Although there is a lot we should know about climate change and the affairs of the world, it is also important to see the progress!

Happy Favourites of December 2018 - byLiiL

Watch

Material Girl – Why I Choose Organic – This video by Kate Arnell (I am a bit late on this as it was published in 2017) is like a short documentary on organic fabrics and other items and why it is better to use them. It is informative, entertaining and just excellent. I really recommend watching it!

Read

Trevor Noah – Born A Crime – I actually listened to it on an audiobook which was narrated by the author himself which I think everybody should ‘read’ the book. Trevor brings depth to his book by narrating it and I felt like I was watching a movie or a documentary. The book is great for explaining what life was like for a mixed race boy in South Africa during and after apartheid. And although it doesn’t sound like the book would be pleasant when it is based at such a time, Trevor discusses his experiences with the naivety of a child with some comments but lacking any judgement. The book is fairly humorous when it explains the differences in culture and race. I can truly say I enjoyed this book a lot!

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race – This excellent book took me a bit longer to read, but it is so informative not only about race but about our culture in general and what we don’t see or realise is happening. It’s a book that everybody should read!

Girl In The Tower – A second book in the Winternight trilogy which surprisingly I enjoyed even more than the first book (Bear and the Nightingale). The book is still based in Russia and entangles Christianity and old beliefs with magic to create a wonderful adventure which is both gripping and exciting. I didn’t want to put the book down!

Mister Pip – A beautiful and sat book by Lloyd Jones tells about a story about the magic of stories and how they can transfer your anguish and fright to make people and especially children resilient in time and place which is filled with horrible events. It is set on an island which is in the midst of civil war and where the civilians are facing all the struggles of the war.

Happy Favourites of December 2018 - byLiiL

Support

Labour Behind the Label For UK Garment Workers – UK is getting more and more garment workers each year. This helps many small and ethical brands to manufacture locally, however, it also means that fast fashion brands are able to create sought-after clothing faster but with consequences to the labour. Even in the UK, there are problems with companies that are not paying their employees the national minimum wage. The labour is afraid to report about this or might not know that this is not the norm and the companies take advantage of the situation. They might be paid as little as £3.50 an hour. I have a first-hand experience of this, although, at the time I didn’t realise what was happening. I was asked to work as a freelancer, over the busy Christmas time, for a brand in their factory that is claiming to be ethical and sustainable, however, because they wanted to employ me as a freelancer they paid me by the item and not by the hour. I was naive and agreed to it. After a week of working for them, I realised I had been only paid less than £5 an hour, whilst I also travelled to their factory every day.  They asked me to come back to work for them after Christmas, but when I asked to be paid the same amount as the rest of the factory labour I didn’t hear back from them. Only later did I realise that they took advantage of me being naive and young. I would’ve felt different about that pay if I could’ve worked from home, or if they paid for my travel, but they didn’t. Now, as I see that their company is considered very ethical and sustainable I feel sick and I wonder if any other person has experienced with them what I went through. Now you can help by supporting Labour Behind the Label with their initiative!

Happy Favourites of December 2018 - byLiiL

What were your favourites in December?

With love,

Lii

Happy Favourites of July 2018

July has been the hardest month of the year. It started with grief and it didn’t get much better. Every one of us faces times that are not so easy, but finding little things that make you happy will show you that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is funny to think that the beginning of July was so warm, as now it is fairly cold in Scotland. It is a relief, even though throughout winter I know I will be wishing back those warm summer days.

Happy Favourites of July 2018 - byLiiL

New coffee shop – I don’t go out a lot for coffee or food, but cooped up in my house all day working makes me want to get out every now and again. I already have my favourite spots in my local area and am happy when a new great place opens up. Space speciality coffee has a great coffee selection, amazing cakes and beautiful and instagrammable interior!

Seagull babies – There are two seagull babies on the roof of the house I see from our window and this week we’ve been seeing them learning to fly. It is absolutely adorable seeing their clumsy tries but eventually succeeding. I could spend hours just looking at them in amazement!

The Wonder – I’ve been reading the book by Emma Donoghue, the one who also wrote ‘Room’. She is an amazing writer and I can’t seem to be able to put the book down!

Sustainable period – I finally got myself a menstrual cup and I can’t wait to have a try!

Happy Favourites of July 2018 - byLiiL

Campaigns

A zero-waste shop into Edinburgh – The crowdfunding for a new zero-waste shop that is based on community interest and using profits to support oceanic cleanup and on the local environmental project. It sounds great and especially if you are based in Edinburgh I recommend supporting them!

Team Waveney walk for water – A team of friends and their children have decided to walk for water to raise awareness of the hardship women and children face when they do not have access for clean water easily like we do. They want to mirror the walk to understand the hardship, raise awareness and raise money for those communities. This is an amazing campaign and an important issue to be talked about. I really recommend supporting it!

Support a Not-for-profit Zero Waste Glasgow – A campaign to support a stall which raises awareness of zero-waste in Glasgow and to reduce plastic waste. An important campaign, especially for Glasgwegians!

Happy Favourites of July 2018 - byLiiL

Reading

The Important Truths About Zero Waste – An article by Considered Life that delves into why zero waste is important and what it is we should actually be concentrated on to make our lives more sustainable. Also helps you feel more content with the progress you are doing and doesn’t blame you for getting there little bit at a time. Excellent post, which I really recommend everybody to read!

Zero Waste Near You – This post is excellent if you want to find zero waste shops in your town in the UK! I found out that there already is one such shop in Glasgow, another coming soon and one zero waste shop for paints and other products as well. I will have to check them out soon!

10 Ways To Take Care Of Yourself During Your Period – Some excellent tips that will definitely help you and make you understand your body better during your period.

Bee Saving Paper Could Bring Bee Population Back From The Brink – A new type of paper which is infused with a certain type of glucose which helps provide bees energy and with UV lights that attract their attention, could actually help the bees have food and last longer. This amazing creation is also full of seeds that will flourish into flowers that bees will want to eat. Truly a paper that you will want to through into nature!!

Happy Favourites of July 2018 - byLiiL

Media

Excitedly expecting The Favourite – This short teaser trailer had me completely hooked!

memory: no. twothousandsevenhundredandtwentyfive – A beautiful short video by my friend that portrays grief. Made me cry and I believe would make anybody who is going through grief. It is beautiful, sad and content at the end.

 

What were your happy moments in July? Any little things you want to share?

With love,

Lii

Happy Favourites of the Week – Pirate Women and HBO

Holiday in Finland – I can’t say it is a holiday whenever I visit Finland because the schedule is almost even busier than at home and all the energy is used on socialising with people who you haven’t seen in at least 6 months. This time was the same. Within the first 7 days, we had visited 7 different cities. There were summer parties, surprise visits and more coffee breaks than I would normally do in a month. Still, it is worth it to see all the people we love and by the end of the week, we got to spend very relaxing mid-summer without any extra hassle.

Happy Favourites of the Week - Pirate Women and HBO - byLiiL

Dry oat and seed bread – My mum made me try them and I am hooked! Too bad I only brought 3 packs with me home. They will be finished soon!

Great catsitter – When we are away for a long time I am always stressed about how the cats are doing. It is always tough going on any holidays and leaving them by themselves when they are so affectionate and like being in people’s company. So having a catsitter who reports everything about them with a bunch of pictures is calming! And coming back home to cats who are not mad at you is even better!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Pirate Women and HBO - byLiiL

Big Little Lies Theme Song – The song by Michael Kiwanuka suits the show well, but is also a pleasure to listen!

HBO – My brother loaned me his logging details for while we were in Finland and we managed to watch Big Little Lies, which I had been dying to watch for ages, and we finished the second season of the Westworld. Big Little Lies wasn’t quite as good as the hype around it, but still interesting and the ending was so satisfying!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Pirate Women and HBO - byLiiL

Pirate Women – I recently started reading a book about women who were pirates. It writes about the largely unknown women who were pirates to show the hidden information we didn’t know about the history and about the fascinating lives of pirates. I am hooked already, and I’m only in chapter two!

Friends Trivial Pursuit – I and my friends love playing various quiz games, which has probably come apparent on the blog and Trivial Pursuit is definitely one of the games we play on a regular basis. So it is quite obvious that we run out of questions (or rather have played it so many times we remember all the questions) and we’ve had to start acquiring new ones. I like buying bite size boxes of questions because they take up less space and I don’t have any need for a whole new game. We’ve had versions on Harry Potter and the Big Bang Theory for ages now, but what I’ve been looking for for years has been Friends. And you should’ve seen how happy I was when I finally found them! It’s going to be endless questioning time with these now!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Pirate Women and HBO - byLiiL

Summer Weather – It’s been very uncommon weather in Scotland this summer. We’ve had such a heat wave that the people have started to complain, which I find funny, as usually, I hear in the autumn ‘how poor the summer was’ when they’ve enjoyed two weeks of sun. Well, they can’t say that this summer!

 

How was your week?

Obviously, all of this happened in more than a week’s time and I am considering changing this topic to a Happy Favourites of the Month. Let me know what you think of the change!

With love,

Lii

Favourite Instagram Pictures of March and April

I seem to have forgotten my favourite Instagram pictures from March so I have added them to the April ones. This spring I have been dreaming of light and warm spring and summer days and I think it shows in the posts I like. In addition, I have been enjoying all the empowering messages online, especially to do with feminism and sustainability.

 

What were your favourite Instagram pictures this spring?

With love,

Lii

What Was I Up To In April 2018

April seemed to run by in a second, does anybody else feel like it? I seemed to have more work again and was just trying to keep on top of work before my holiday and suddenly it was May. It feels like I don’t have much to show for April, but I worked a lot and when it is items that I send over to my clients, of course, I don’t see much, but my diary looks full. Then again there was my holiday that helped me to relax, rejuvenate and enjoy myself. It was difficult to get back to work after it and motivate myself so that is what I am doing now in May. At least spring has been showing up a little bit at a time!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Spring Time - byLiiL

April also saw the Earth Day and the Fashion Revolution Week.  I enjoyed to see so many people rallying behind ethical fashion and questioning fashion brands on who made their clothes, even if there weren’t many answers, and I hope this will continue! I also questioned whether recycling is really sustainable, especially as we’ve learned about our recyclables travelling to China and African countries.

Happy Favourites of the Week - Spring Vacation - byLiiL

I hope I have more time for work and my life in May and more lovely sunny days! But let me know how was your April, in the comment box below!

With love,

Lii