Gift Idea #1: Braiding Sweetgrass

It's that time of year when most of us are starting to think about gift giving. Christmas Day is just over a month away. Even thought I've scaled back a lot on gift giving I still have people I want to buy gifts for and the number one gift I love giving is a good book. 

Over the next few days I'm going to go through some of the books that I read in the past year and that I recommend for you to read and to give as gifts. I'm not doing this in any particular order. (Spoiler alert: I think I may have already tweeted my favourite book from 2017.) Seriously though, you can't go wrong with any of the books I recommend. 

The first one is Braiding Sweetgrass.

It's a challenge to review a book when I don't have a copy in front of me. The person who I lent it to is familar with my lending rules so I know I'll get it back soonish.  And I'll update this post when to include some of my favourite quotes from the book.  

This book is written by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botanist and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She blends teachings about plants and animalis with scientific knowledge and the wisdom found in the traditions of Indigenous Peoples.

I was left with a deep awe and desire to be far more intentional about the way I interact with the earth. I find myself looking at nature as a teacher with so much to offer to me. As I write this I am away in Northern Ontario (if Muskoka can be counted as Northern Ontario). I've been getting up early to watch the sunrise over the water and to hike through the woods. Rather than get my 5-7 km in and get back I linger with the trees. I take time to listen and to see what is in front of me. I've made a connection that grows deeper with every encounter.

It on my 'most recommended books' list. Reading it changed me. This book has called me back to a part of me that needed to be awakened.  I've started on a journey because of this book. I'm not sure where it is leading me - but I know, everytime I hold the braided sweetgrass in my office, that I'm being called to live differently and to advocate for this beautiful planet we inhabit. 


A Guide to Borrowing and Lending Books

I love books. I am away for 4 days and I have 4 books with me (not including all the ebooks I have on my tablet).  I'm always talking or writing about what I am reading. I guess I am an extroverted reader. When I like a book, I am convinced everyone who I know or have ever connected with in some tiny way should also read the book. When I've learned something I want everyone else to share in that discovery.


I also lend books. All the time. I like to think I am generous with my books.  I just finished a book today and I have already told two people I would lend it to them now that I am done. The problem is I don't know the first person on the list very well.  I started wondering, "what kind of book borrower is she?" Is she the kind of person who will borrow my book and I will never see it again? Or will she return it after she has read it looking like she dragged it behind her car for a couple hundred kilometers? It's a book she is eager to read AND it's a book I want to keep in my personal library. 

There are a few guidelines I would like to offer to you when you borrow a book. I talk a lot about expectations. When it comes to book lending I think they need to be made clear. 

Sandy's Book Borrowing Guidelines:

1. Establish a time line when you would like the book you are lending returned.  I think a month is reasonable. This guideline serves two purposes for the borrower.  First, they are more motivated to read it sooner and return it. Second, they can take the opportunity to say they won't be able to read it in the next month and decline to take the book.  

2. Return books in good condition. If you borrow a book return it with reasonable wear and tear. If you spill a glass of water on the book consider replacing it. (Helpful hint: Don't use the book as a wine coaster - especially if you drip when you pour.)

4. Don't highlight or underline in the book.

5. Don't lend the book you borrowed to someone else without permission.

6. Put your name in the book you are lending. Don't put your name in the book you borrowed.

7. Make a note of who borrowed your books. I've actually taken a picture of people holding the book when I lend it to them. It's quite funny and when I email them the picture 6 months later asking for my book it makes a pretty good case that they did borrow it.

Those guidelines should cover most of your book borrowing challenges. I was thinking today as I wrote this that it wouldn't be a bad idea putting a bookmark in books I lend. I created two and you can download them below.  One is asking for the book back. The other is for those books you don't want back. I rarely read a novel more than once. When I lend them out I often tell the borrower I don't want it back. The second bookmark will remind them to pass it along instead of returning it.

So, do me a favour. Go through your bookshelf and check for any books you have borrowed and not returned. Take some time in the next week and return them. You might want to include a couple of bookmarks as well.

Download the bookmarks here and here




Do you have dreams for your life?

I am a dreamer. I know I am. I think it goes hand in hand with being a learner. I feel like my horizons are continually expanding and there are new lands and ideas calling me to explore them. This year has been such an incredible year for me. It's been a year of growth. In fact, I would say this has been one of the most significant years in my life. 

It's weird because at the same time it's been the worst year I have ever had in my business. In fact, I find myself at a crossroads in terms of vocation or the work I am doing.  I do think that it is part of this transformation I have been going through.  When you start really making shifts in your life you find yourself at odds with what was. 


I always begin the year by choosing a word. This year it was OPEN. I'll be sharing more about the word selection process in an upcoming blog post. My desire was to hold a posture of being 'open' to what I felt was calling in my life. I know it sounds a little woo woo or esoteric. And it is hard to articulate it. 

So I've seen these things happened in my life as I have become more OPEN:

  • I stopped a bunch of stuff including stepping down as President of the business I co-owned with 3 other colleagues, going to church, and spending time with people who exhaust me
  • I started seeing a therapist to deal with lingering health anxiety
  • I went to NYC - very spontaneously with a friend
  • I went to Cuba to read many books and drink many Mojitos
  • I went to Ireland/England/The Netherlands with my sister (the funniest person I know) and I am still laughing
  • I went on a retreat with my podcast co-host and we sort of wrote a book
  • I came face to face with my apathy towards reconcilation and began a project to educate myself and become more involved in understanding and supporting the ongoing challenges facing the Indigenous Peoples of Canada
  • I joined an environmentalist discussion group
  • I discovered the Quakers - and hallelujah they aren't worried about people going to church!
  • I joined the committee that organizes Steel City Stories (a local story telling group)
  • I connected with some new people who seem to be on the same track as I am
  • I decided to return to Cambodia to do an evaluation of the program I started there 3 years ago with a colleague

It's been a crazy year. It's flying by. This week, I've set aside 3 days to do a deep dive into 2018. I've got some dreams and I've got some needs. I've got some ideas around my business and where I want to focus next. 

How about you? Do you have dreams for the future? Are you not sure how to achieve them? Are you lacking confidence or support? I'd love to talk to you about what would help you move forward in your life. Send me an email - let's dream together.