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A List with a Twist: The Gift for the Person Who Has it All

A List with a Twist: The Gift for the Person Who Has it All

Gift-giving is no ordinary business, and there is nothing more delightful than giving a gift that makes someone else’s face light up with delight. There are the box gifts where the present is tiny and the box is big and filled with lots of paper, scraps of material, ribbons and string so that it becomes a treasure hunt, or a big box gift filled with lots and lots of small presents that are all related to an activity like a tea set or toy box or a letter-writing set.  There are  funny gifts, food gifts, adventure gifts and activity gifts, and the right gift can be found for everyone if we put some thought into the whole business (or rather art) of giving.

The Difficult Person To Purchase For

Then there are gifts for my friend. She loves debating, thinking about the grey areas in life and weighing each side of an argument . She loves reading, writing and poetry. When it comes to buying her gifts, we start moving into the realm of the impossible. She has the best of everything  in every shape and size possible, so I have to resort to creative genius when it comes to giving her gifts. I have a few other people in my life who fall into this category as well. We all do. They are the ones who we really want to give that extra special gift to, but achieving that is hard.

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Two years ago, I bought this friend an art journal by artist Sabrina Ward Harrison. Instead of giving it to her straight away, I kept it for a while and filled it with my own ramblings, musings and questions. Once I had filled a satisfactory amount of pages to make it feel lived-in, I printed out a number of black-and-white photos which I slipped between the pages. I wrapped it up, placed it in a box and sent it to her. Her reaction was priceless. She set to work almost immediately: answering my questions, posing her own and leaving her doodle markings on every other page. The journal has now crossed the Atlantic twice as we have exchanged it back and forth, filling it with moments and memories. It is starting to bulge in a happy, overflowing kind of way.

One lazy Sunday morning while I was browsing through the bookshelves in Avoca coffee shop I discovered “Listography: Your Life In Lists” by Lisa Nola and Nathaniel Russell. It was a perfect gift for her.

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This is a life list, a legacy and memoir all bundled into page after page of lists. Think: favourite movies, people from history you want to talk to, favourite toys from your childhood, lovers, all the cities you have spent time in and you are only just getting a sneak peek. The book is thick, and trust me, by the time you are done listing all of these things, your life might as well be caught in a snapshot in book-form.

There is a listography app too which means the lists don’t have to be confined to a book but they can accompany everyday activities and travels.

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I haven’t packed and posted this gift yet but my guess is that my friend will enjoy it even more than the previous journal. I cannot wait for her to receive it. And yes, if you think about it, I bought myself a gift too because I get to enjoy all her list musings when she is done.

Seven Questions To Help You Find That Perfect Gift

So, when buying gifts for the friend who has it all, keep the following seven questions in mind:

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  1. What do they love to do? 
  2. What is something they do, that very few people know about?
  3. Can you buy this person a gift that involves you, or someone they love, to enrich the experience?
  4. Will this gift be  a lasting treasure if their children and grandchildren were to discover it one day? 
  5. Will this gift last over time? 
  6. Will this gift create a lasting impression? 
  7. Will this gift create memories? 

Featured photo credit:  christmas woman with gifts box via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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