Hey!!!! Hi. :) Welcome to week 7. Lots of positive things are happening in my life but they are coming so fast it's hard to mentally track "the things", leading to stress sneaking in my brain. The beauty of it all, is that it doesn't really matter all that much. Things tend to work out. But, but but... here I am back in blog mode, taking control of 30 minutes of my life.
This week I was thinking about donations to charities and I find it hard to genuinely determine the real benefits of a donation. There's some bad information and complaints out there on any given charity and there's also new studies on the impact on how giving+capitalism can fit together (Tom's Shoes, LifeStraw, Kiva) and survive long-term.
Long story short, I couldn't decide on a charity, so I asked folks in a group-chat simply to name charities and that the first answer would "win". The quickest answer was ASPCA and thus received a $50 donation. Other suggestions included World Wildlife Foundation, charity: water, Autism Research Institute (although I think I would have had to donate tissue, not cash) and the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.
I'm sure the other charities are just as deserving and may even make it to a future giving session. Regardless, giving to a cause like ASPCA feels right. I've had this mental block for a long time on charities - but I was thinking too much, I was bogged-down by all the research I thought I needed to do. I chose "do" over "think" and it felt great.
I made a video! No, not one of those weird sex videos, just a normal video for someone's birthday and it was such a great experience. I've made a few videos before - just silly birthday videos or Valentine's day videos. And well, this one was a birthday video, but the big difference is it was a compilation of a clips friends and family had sent me to use in the overall birthday video.
Over two months, I solicited and received 43 different videos and edited them into 7 minutes. I watched each one of those videos no less than 10 times and it wasn't until the very end that I added in footage of myself. Overall, I probably spent 80 hours on it - editing, fixing timings, changing the soundtrack, and rearranging the order. Within each moment I knew I was building something great. I laughed so much people probably thought I was crazy. I learned a bunch about the editing application (Filmora) and green-screens and transitions.
Yes, this was a gift for someone and that always feels nice. But this was probably the largest DIY project I've done in a long time. It makes my happy. It feels like I'm making light and love and sharing it with the world. I know that I'm making light and love and sharing it with the world.
While at a bookstore awhile ago, I picked up a couple of books that included common greetings, some slang terms and dirty words for a given language. I selected them with the intent to leave them around the office for people to browse at random. But then I noticed they each contained very sexual sessions that weren't exactly work appropriate. So now I am stuck with a couple books. Or am I?? Let's give them away!
There's a friend of a friend who is pretty quiet and we I've always struggled talking with him on anything other than pure technical things - and even then, it's very concise. He knows French pretty well so I decided to give him one of the books. I didn't think much of it and honestly when I did it, I wasn't even thinking of this blog. I've seen him a few times since then and each time he's brought up the book or shared an anecdote from the book. I always figured he didn't really want to connect with me so it's been surprising to interact now much more.
It feels comforting and humanising to connect with people - to have some type of meaningful conversation outside today's weather. Heck, I think we all do but we just don't to do it with everyone. It's hard to find that common ground, you just have to keep looking.
Well, well, well. Here we are again. This week has been wonderful and I'm not sure I even know why. It's just nice out, things are going generally well and I live in a beautiful, beautiful city. But anyway... guess what happened? I bought someone else a cookbook! Genius, right? Maybe not but please look the other way as I recycle the same idea from 3 weeks ago.
But my friends, it's not quite that simple. The first book I gave away was much more thought-out than this time around. I knew a couple months before I started this blog I wanted to buy that book for that friend. I know she had a specific medical hurdle she was attempting to overcome. The cookbook I gave away this time was inspired by a simple Facebook post by a friend. My "single friend" posted he was uninspired to put together something for dinner. Most reactions (including my 1st reaction) were to tell him to order in or grab some take-out.
But, upon closer inspection, it was clear he really wanted to cook, he wanted to create, - he wanted to make something and feel good about putting it in his body. Well, you might saw that's quite the leap. I suppose it could be. But I know him well enough to see what he's passionate about and this is one of those times. Hell, it's easy - we wears his emotions on his sleeve - and that's what attracts me (as friends) to him.
So there I was - helpless to help him. Well, okay fine. I could have figured out one recipe and suggested it. But what I really wanted was to share another one of my favorite cookbooks - Clean Food by Terry Walters. I masterfully socially-engineered his home address and 10 clicks later, the cookbook was on its way to his house.
This felt good - an unplanned gift to a good friend who will get a lot from it. In the beginning all of this giving felt so awkward and unnatural and this week I feel like a pro. I love my friends and family and helping them, it helps me reflect and appreciate the things I value in my life.
Paul in Amsterdam.