Blogmas Day 9: The one where I send my airmail Christmas card…

So Rebecca text me during the week (one of those times where I see someone has sent me a text on my way to/while I’m at work and then totally forget to respond in any way) asking if I’d write about how we can use our Christmas Cards to raise awareness.

Every year, I’ve always used the back of the envelope to write messages that can be seen by people who handle the card. I figure that several postal workers at least are going to see it while it is in transit.

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Also, on the inside of the card, I’ve written about why organ donation is important to me. I think Rebecca suggested doing this on her original post about this year’s Airmail Christmas.

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It’s also a tradition that we post pictures of the cards we send/receive on social media (obviously making sure not to share contact information in the process – such as the addresses on the envelopes). You can see last year’s card pictures on the Gallery page. As pictures start to get e-mailed in or popping up on social media I will add them to the page.

Hopefully you’ve already begun to post your cards (I’ll confess I never got to the post office today, so I’m going to have to hope I get a chance on my way to work on Monday).

Please do post pictures using the hashtag #airmailchristmas so I can find them!

Thanks everyone!

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The one about Airmail Christmas 2016…

Four years ago my friend Rebecca met a lady called ‘Robin’ who  wanted her Christmas wish fulfilled by sending a card to a complete stranger. It was her way of trying to spread Christmas cheer around the world before she passed away. That first year, Rebecca asked myself and our friend Holly to help make that happen. Since then we have honoured Mama MB, Anna Basso and Kylie Myers. This year the idea is the same. but with a difference.

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This year Airmail Christmas wants to honour life, and specifically organ donation. Recently our friend Holly, who Rebecca and I met through blogging, had her life saved by receiving a new kidney. It was a wonderful day when we received the message from Holly that her call had finally come. Holly had to wait for her new organ, like so many people awaiting transplants on the register. The sad fact is many of those people waiting die, and this is due to a lack of people signing up to the organ donation register.

Neither of us can imagine having a world without Holly, and so far her recovery is progressing slowly but surely. So Airmail Christmas wants to get people talking through the card exchange. The topic of dying matters and as human beings we can prevent that. In the UK alone there are over 10,000 people requiring an organ transplant. But sadly just 4000 donations take place each year.

One donor can save and improve the lives of up to nine people – that’s amazing! And just that one card could open up a conversation. Then the wishes expressed in that conversation could save many lives, if a persons life sadly comes to an end. 

If you would like to participate in A Very Airmail Christmas, here’s how you can

1) Send us your name & address (it can be your home, work or anywhere else address that you’d like a card posted to you at) to the designated email address: airmailchristmas@gmail.com by Monday 5th December 2016.  Your addresses will be held confidentially and not shared with anyone else apart from the person who will be sending you the card.

If you have a preference of posting a card within your own country (due to postage costs) then please note this in the email.

2) On Tuesday 6th December, Rebecca will be randomly matching Airmail Christmas participants. We will then email you the address of someone else that you can send a card to this year.

3) Write and post your Christmas Card as soon as possible, especially if it needs to go abroad. If possible talk about why organ donation is important to you in the card, or if not you can use the hashtags of #organdonation #donatelife and #airmailchristmas on the card and envelope. It is just something to trigger a conversation. 

4) Wait for your card to arrive. Feel free to send a picture of the card (please be careful not to share addresses from the envelopes!) to us to post in our Airmail Christmas gallery, or post a picture of the card on social media with the #airmailchristmas hashtag.

So lets get this Christmas card exchange started…have a wonderful Airmail Christmas season everyone.

 P.S. Please spread the word and encourage folks to sign up if you feel so inclined, by sharing this blog post on facebook, twitter, your own blog… THANK YOU!

The one where I’m thankful…

…because for the first time in ages, I’ve had two days off in a row.

Actually I think there have been other ‘two days off in a row’ but they’ve usually been for a specific purpose…like driving up to Aberdeen at 5 a.m. to meet electricians or driving through the night to go to weddings, job interviews, training days etc.

However, in some kind of wonderful all the planets aligning way, I got a whole weekend off where I ended up having nothing to do (other than the usual stuff of laundry, supermarket shops, cleaning the bathroom etc). That was exciting enough. But then a couple of days ago I discovered that on one of those work free days, my Mum didn’t need her car.

The whole weekend has been wonderful. My friend brought her kids to my work on Friday evening, and gave me (and many presents that I have bought and had hauled up in our stock room because I knew trying to get them home via public transport would be a disaster) a lift home after my shift finished. Saturday morning I was able to get all my work uniform washed  – I learned last weekend NOT to leave this to my ‘second’ day off, as I ended up being called in to cover for someone’s absence and had to wear unwashed uniform. Ewww. Sorry work colleagues! I went to the supermarket – granted I was reminded why I don’t usually go there on a Saturday, but hey! I got food in my cupboards. And more importantly….

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My friend Nicola and I have a little Sainsbury’s chocolate log tradition, and get very amused by the fact they change the decor on the box for different holidays. This exact same chocolate swiss roll will be packaged for Easter come January. Anyway, such traditions have been shared with our other friends since we currently live 100s of miles apart and sharing chocolate log is only possible through instagram.

In this case, it was taken down to my friends who are planting a church community further down the East Coast. We had our traditional walk, and it was lovely to spend time not only with them, but their godson who I have gotten to know through the surf camps we run each summer. He and Miss S were at a youth event I used to be involved with on Friday night, and more than anything it makes my heart so happy to see them growing into young adults that are kind, compassionate, questioning and making the world better instead of worse. I miss my Soul Surfers family, and have for the last 9 years obnoxiously invaded their lives and self proclaimed myself an honourary member of their clan! 🙂 Oh yeah and Miss S is the same height as me if not a bit taller now. She officially has beaten my little sister, and my little brother for they didn’t manage that until they were 14 and 12 respectively. We had a lovely meal cooked by Vicky (Vicky and our friend Kathy are both amazing cooks, and I’m still hoping after almost a decade of friendship that their talents will rub off on me, but alas I’m still a terrible cook).

And this day was followed by a Sunday off….and it was one where our church have worship services! I turned the corner to the church just as aforementioned friend above was arrived with her two amazing but very tired boys in tow. It was just nice to be worshipping God, seeing friends…including the youngest brother of a university friend who just happened to be visiting Edinburgh for the weekend.

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After church, another friend found me and we headed to the cinema. For a film had come out on Friday that I’ve been waiting a long time to see. It wasn’t amazing, but I loved the creatures and think that Eddie was perfect as Newt Scamander which made up for the elements of the film and the story that frustrated me a little. I now want a Hufflepuff scarf (I am a Hufflepuff after all) and a bowtruckle.

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And so we come to the end of a lovely restful weekend where my heart has been filled up with everything that work, lack of car, commuting and tiredness has kept me from. Now I’m turning to Christmas prep – I’ve promised a post about some of my favourite Christmas reads and to help Rebecca launch Airmail Christmas. It’s going to be different this year, because recent events have led us to change our cause. We’re still working out the details, and although Rebecca will be taking the reins once again, we’re going to use The Koala Tree to launch Airmail Christmas! So please do look out for posts about both books and Christmas card exchanges in the next week.

And last of all…

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This reindeer, who has lovely velvety antlers, Irish green eyes, soft fur, and smells like Peppermint and Chocolate needs a name. Suggestions so far have been

  • Ashsleigh
  • Jingles
  • Charisma
  • Esmeralda
  • Rhinestone
  • Emerald
  • Emerald Mint
  • Peppermint
  • Hamilton*
  • Angelica*
  • Schuyler*

*these were suggested by my sister, who I introduced to Hamilton, and she has become almost as obsessed with the musical as I have been since I heard it for the first time early this year. Because my elf is named Eliza, she thought these suggestions would be suitable. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story, Eliza is also the name of Alexander Hamilton’s wife. Eliza the elf is not named after  Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton.

If you like any of the suggestions, or have another one let me know in the comments! 🙂

Life in dungarees…

My blogging is getting sporadic again, and this week I really have NO excuse not to blog as it’s the Tattie Holidays – which means I’ve got FOUR free evenings this week (this is unheard of).

There’s lots to write about good and bad.

I’m going to start with the bad because I’d rather end on good.

The bad…is that the winter blues have arrived. I suffer from something called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which means when the weather gets colder, the nights get longer I really struggle to go about my daily life. Everyone is affected in different ways, but for me, it usually means getting very depressed (most mornings as I’m getting up I will be very tearful), I struggle to sleep at night and quite often will start having short-term memory loss/lack of concentration (which I think is usually a result of the insomnia). I’ve had a lot of support from my online friends, some of whom have had depression, some of whom also have SAD and discovered a number of things that help. I use an app called ‘Flux’ on my laptop to simulate daylight/nighttime. Trying to stock my freezer up with at least semi-healthy comfort food (as in bad times, I find it difficult to get energy and motivation up to go to shops to buy food to make proper meals) like soups, fruit crumbles and chilli. This year, it really hit me last week and within two days I was climbing the walls with despair, and it took every ounce of strength and courage I had to get myself out the house on a cold rainy day to get to my Italian class. I cried most of the way there, because I honestly in that moment had forgotten what sunshine looked and felt like and felt like I would never see proper daylight again. Last night I bit the bullet and used some of my tuition fees savings to invest in a Lumie alarm clock which simulates sunrise. I’ve been recommended this by two SAD sufferers, and really hope that it helps me this winter season.

Ok. So. On with the good and exciting.

1. I have rediscovered dungarees
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As I wrote on my Girlguiding blog, my Guides were doing a badge created by a unit in Lesmahagow called the ‘Minion Mayhem Challenge’ and on the last night of Guides before the holidays we all dressed up as minions. This meant spending two afternoons going to every charity shop, vintage clothing shop and fashion retail shop in Edinburgh city centre to find a pair of blue denim dungarees. And a yellow top. Eventually I got a pair, they are a little big but man are dungarees comfortable!! I don’t care what I look like, I’m now going to be wearing them more often.

2. Ballet Fridays

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Though soon I’ll be arriving in the dark (sob!) but how can you not love this view that is at the back of the National Centre for Dance? Our teacher is continually getting us to work on the details of our movements and though my feet and legs are often very sore the next day, I’m loving my classes. And I finally found a ballet leotard to fit into. This is mainly so I can wear ballet tights as one of my classmates said “He [our ballet teacher] is the only man I shave my legs for“. And let’s be honest in winter…it’s too cold to walk around in cropped leggings!

3. A reason to go back to Glasgow…Part 1IMG_5944

My friends very generously and amazingly gifted me something extremely special this summer. They got us tickets (so I can go with them) to see one of my favourite bands play in Glasgow. I am finally getting to see Death Cab for Cutie live! I haven’t bought a music album since I got made redundant last year, but found their latest album at a very good price in a music shop while on a search for dungarees last week. I’ve been listening to it in my Mum’s car ever since. Coincidentally their album shares a title with my friend Holly’s new blog: Kintsugi.

4. A reason to go back to Glasgow…Part 2.

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Three years ago I found out that the World Artistics Gymnastics Championships would be held in Glasgow in 2015. Going to see a World Championships (and a Europeans, and an Olympics) has been on my bucket list since 1996. The only problem was that when the tickets came out at the beginning of this year, I was paying tuition fees for university and was on Jobseeker’s Allowance. So I didn’t have money to get season ticket. I realised a few weeks ago that I would likely regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t go. So I bit the bullet and bought two tickets to both the Men’s All Around and the first day of Individual Apparatus Event Finals. I don’t know who will come with me yet mind you, but although I’m going to be in the cheapest, crappiest seats….I AM GOING TO SEE THE OLYMPIC QUALIFYING WORLD ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS CHAMPIONSHIPS IN PERSON. It’s in the same venue as the Commonwealth Games was last year.

5. My brain is confused with all the words

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I couldn’t take Spanish this term (still) and so I decided to learn Italian because I wanted a class that was during the day and midweek, and then because I got that funded, I decided to learn German too. I’m actually enjoying learning German better as I feel the classes are more intensive and I’m learning more and having a better understanding of the language than I am in Italian. One of my old blog friends suggested in jest a few months ago that I should go work for an international school in Germany, and well…if that ever becomes more serious than a joke…at least I’ll know more German than ice cream, chocolate, scoop and apple juice. If I’m still only working part-time and able to get the funding again I may continue with German next semester.

And last but not least…

6. Airmail Christmas

Yes, we will be doing Airmail Christmas again this year. Rebecca isn’t able to coordinate it this year, but as I helped her do this in the first year (as she was in Australia) I’m stepping in again! We have contacted a family of someone we would like to honour, and hope we will have more details about how you can sign up and participate next month.

1 Million Christmas Cards for Anna

A few years ago now, my friend Rebecca ran a series on her blog called ‘Careers Week’ where she asked a whole  bunch of us to write a guest post on our career journeys. I was one of her guests, and another was a college (university to the non-Americans) student called Patrice Basso. I think I’d skipped over to Patrice’s blog before that week, as Rebecca would mention her on her blog or twitter, but I don’t think it was until that week that I subscribed properly to her blog. At that time Patrice’s sister Anna was battling Ewing’s Sarcoma for the second time, and Patrice wrote so honestly and eloquently about it all. Their family friend had set up a website called 1 Million 4 Anna, and I sent up prayers.

Sadly, Anna died a few days after her high school graduation.

Anna’s legacy however continues on through the 1 Million 4 Anna Foundation – which is trying to bring smiles to children going through cancer treatments through Anna’s Closet, providing scholarships to those who want to go on to university education (because of course unlike here, in the USA many of these families will be affected by huge medical bills and university fees are astronomical) and of course, to fund research into finding treatments (and hopefully a cure) for Ewing’s Sarcoma.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Well a few years ago, Rebecca came to myself and our friend Holly (who at the time was living on the other side of the world) and asked us to help her with an idea that she had inspired by one of her patients who had died from cancer. This patient who we nicknamed ‘Robin’ had a Christmas wish which she shared with Rebecca while she was being cared for in hospital. She said to her: “if I had a Christmas wish now it would be really fun, Rebecca, if everyone in the world could just send anyone a Christmas card… it would be fun to send a Christmas card to someone you have never met. We all send our friends and family cards but not to anyone else. It would be fun to spread good will to other people as well too.”

With Robin’s family’s blessing Rebecca started Airmail Christmas, Holly and I promoted it on our blogs, and as I had the week off work I assigned all the participants random numbers and generated Christmas card exchange pairings. Rebecca has continued on the tradition, each year doing it in honour of someone connected with us through our online community. Last year we did it in honour of our friend’s mother who died of cancer that year – ‘Mama MB’.

This year, we will be doing Airmail Christmas in honour of Anna Basso.

So if you’d like to participate you can find the details over on Rebecca’s blog, where Patrice has written a little bit about her sister. The deadline for participation sign up is December 1st, and you need to be willing to pay international postage on a Christmas card (and share an address with Rebecca and one stranger who will send YOU a card)! 🙂