Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Surprise Anonymous Gift, TMBFY & The 100 Happy Days Challenge

Something happened yesterday that brightened my day and convinced me to (finally) accept the 100 Happy Days Challenge that has been furiously floating on feeds (which I have been following, but been "too busy" to try myself). The site says 71% of people who start the challenge (to post a picture of happiness in your day, every day) drop out, citing "lack of time" as the main reason. Here's why I decided to start the challenge:

I walked into the Keen Bean Coffee Club in Cowley, Oxford, to meet Ariell, my new yoga buddy, for coffee. I was a bit grumpy at the lack of certainty in my life after my work contract ends in July, albeit excited to finally talk to Ariell in a non-yoga context! Luckily, I grabbed the last table in this small cafe...and this is what was waiting for me on it. 

This Must Be For You! (We moved tables later, and Ariell found one, too)

At first I thought it was an ad...then a joke...and then I thought Ariell might know if it was a trend the cafe started. Ever so cautiously, I went to the This Must Be For You website on my mobile, and then thought, hey, okay, maybe this is for me!  TMBFY is an organisation that teams up with local businesses to leave free, anonymous gifts for people in cafes and other public places, to "reignite [their] faith in human kindness" and brighten up their days.

Here is what was inside:

Chill  out Music! Sorry for the horrible mobile phone quality photo!

Sofar Sounds  is an organisation that promotes "secret" gigs held all over the world. The sampling of music I got was very chill...even Kiara chilled out to it! They are playing in London on April 26th, so I may see if Ariell (or anyone else) wants to go!

Oh, and before we left the cafe (which also has record players and an affordable used music store called  The Truck Store attached to it), this is what we received as a freebie:

Chill Out Music 2
I love the idea of randomly finding little free gifts (or perhaps giving them) to brighten someone's day. Ariell and I are considering e-mailing the organisation and being gift givers, as well. 

Janice started the 100 Happy Days challenge on March 1, 2014 and I've been following her feed. The little exciting event yesterday convinced me to start it on March 29, 2014 rather than waiting for April 1st. Kim is coming over for dinner tonight, so I'm waiting until then to take today's pic! All my pictures will be posted on Flickr (I hate Facebook's low-quality degradation of your photos that they claim to own). Check out this link periodically over the next three months:

I'll post to Facebook every week to remind you to click, if you'd like to see my happy moments. Apparently, you can get a Happy Moments Book if you complete the challenge - I can't wait!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dear Stephanie: A Beautiful Memory 3 years Later

Photo credit: Meghan Cree Smith
Dear Stephanie,

It's 2014. Three years after you so suddenly  descended into what I hope is another world,  a fun world, full of the happiness and delight that countless books, and nearly all religions and novels about death describe. Most of me knows that we have invented these descriptions to pacify ourselves, our inner minds that work so furiously to understand what cannot be understood, to decode the mystical. We hunger for forbidden knowledge. A tiny part of me ponders if, maybe, just maybe, it could be true. If possibly, you have a window to your past life, to the world in which we still live.

Another year has passed in this world, and once again, it has taken me over 10 days to  pen my letter to you.

I saw The Book Thief last night and it reminded me of you,  and of the book I was reading the week before you died. Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones is narrated by a ghost who tries to help the living find her true murderer.The Book Thief, Markus Zusak's novel that I have tutored in English literature lessons so many times, that I have analysed to death, is narrated by Death, who heartlessly steals the souls of the living. Who heartlessly stole you, from us. 

Meghan and I still miss you so much; I keep wanting to go home to Edmonton,  walk into Bogani cafe and have you roll in behind me. To see movies with you and race between the popcorn queue and the ticket queue because no matter how late we were, a movie to you was no movie without the popcorn. To sit at Bistecca or Brewsters and order a delectable, calorie-infused dessert, to share with you, sitting, laughing across from me. Meghan is in New York, and I, in Oxford, and you --we know not where, like a mystery, an adventure, we hope.

My grandmother left to, what I hope, is your world, a few months ago. It reminded me of you. Her death was so unjust, so untimely --hers, in fact, was murder, by incompetent NHS nurses at the hospital. Anger, Hatred, Vengeance. 

Regret, too, for thinking I had time. Like I did with you.

 It still haunts me that I hadn't yet bought your birthday present, six days after your birthday. I thought, I'll buy it next week --and next week, you were gone. That is what I feel.

You would tell me, I know, feel what you need to feel, but anger doesn't help. You can't change the past. Your grandmother and I left for a reason and it will be okay. 

Will you meet up with her for me, Steph? Have a tea with her and laugh and smile and remember? Her name is Koshalya, but we all call her Jhaiji, which I think means 'mom'. 

  I had a dream once, soon after you died, and you were there, in a heaven-like meadow, probably taken from a cross from my imagination and Richard Matheson's novel What Dreams May Come. You were walking though, Steph. You didn't have your chair; it was incredible. I hope it's true.

I hope that, wherever your soul is, it remembers the life that you had with us. If I had one wish for you while you are in your new world, it's that you can still hear us, see us, feel us, read my blog and know about our world.

I'm still in Europe, Steph. Working in England, as I have always wanted. Continental Europe is my next plan, since I've only got a  short contract here, but you would tell me, LIVE IN THE MOMENT. Live for now.  I keep thinking about you every time I see a castle. How you really, really wanted to come to England and Scotland and take the ghost and castle tours. The Edinburgh graveyard. I wish I could take you there. I hope your spirit can see it.

It's been three years and my heart shaped locket still dangles around my neck each day, the clasp loose, the photo faded, the memories of your laughter, your optimism, your undying friendship - stronger than ever.

I will always miss you, Stephanie.

Love XX
My original tribute to Steph is here, and last year's post, is here