It's the beginning of the new year, so it's time for resolutions and reflections. When I woke up this morning, I thought the following: I am happy to be waking up in a warm bed, in a cozy dwelling. I am not hungry, I am not sick, I am alive and I can see the sunlight on the trees and the snow outside, making them sparkle. I have two beautiful children who dazzle me with their growing and person-ness. I have family who loves me and tries to take care of me. I have a few friends, just enough, who support me and love me in everything I do. I have a mind that thinks and creates and dreams and loves impossibly beautiful things.

Everything that I need or I want in this world is possible for me to grasp.

I am so very fortunate.

I just need to remember, and truly believe that. That is my resolution for this year. I will believe that I am fortunate, that I am beautiful just the way that I am. I will do the things that make me happy, and work from a sense of purpose rather than a sense of duty. I will believe in my friends' dreams and cheer them on as they climb. I will listen more. I will encourage my children and try to be the example. I will be my heart, I will listen to it and appreciate that it is unique and crazy and marvelous.

And I will try to ignore the parts of me, and the parts of others, who tell me different.

All the best for 2013. It will be a good year :-)

Guilt-free Shopping

Christmas is coming and the usual crisis is upon me: I want to give my loved ones gifts, but I dread the feeling I get when I walk into a mall full of mass-produced garbage. It goes against everything that I love about the holidays and makes me feel cheap and commercial. Over the years I have taken to finding alternatives that make me feel more giving; I bake and make cookie baskets, I make gifts with my own little hands (I call them "rustically charming"), and I try to shop at stores that give something back. Shops like 10,000 Villages are my preferred haunts for finding presents for my friends and family, and now I have a new one to add to the list!

On my walk down Sherbrooke Monday, I came across a great new shop that takes all the guilt out of Christmas consumption.

Pure Art

Pure Art

Pure Art is a Canadian charity dedicated to alleviating poverty, promoting education, and providing clean water in developing communities around the world. Started by the McKinnon family in Hudson, the Pure Art Foundation has two fair trade stores, one in Hudson, and now one that has just opened in Westmount. An eclectic mix of jewellery, clothing, tableware, bags, cards, and children's toys from artisans around the world promise a unique gift for everyone on your list.

Pure Art - Westmount

Pure Art - Westmount

The friendly and knowledgeable service from Danielle behind the counter was educational and enthusiastic. She was more than willing to answer questions about the foundation and all the beautiful creations available in the shop. Many creations are made using recycled materials, such as purses decorated with pop tops and bracelets made from phone wires. With colourful friendship bracelets made by a shaman in Peru for $5 and an array of reasonably priced necklaces, bracelets, and original clothing, this is one-stop shopping for mom, your best friend, and your children's teachers.

Thoughtful gifts that give back are a trend that I want to see more often.