Sift. Shift. Gift.
Lift spirits with 10 carefully curated gift ideas
Welcome to the1st annual gift list from Sift. Shift. Lift. Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to interview some incredibly gifted people—sorry, couldn’t resist the pun. We’ve talked about the issues that engage their heads, hearts, and hands; the art and artists that changed the way they view the world and their place in it; and the people and organizations working hard to be the change they wish to see in the world. As my thoughts turn to gift giving, I find myself reflecting on these interviews, mining them for meaningful gift ideas. It only seemed right to share some of them here with you.
While I am not a fan of gratuitous or competitive gift giving, I derive a lot of pleasure from carefully selecting gifts that convey my feelings of deep affection, respect, and gratitude for friends and loved ones. I love giving and receiving handmade gifts, one-of-a-kind gifts, experiences . . . In this list, you will find gifts that do more than lift spirits, they also show your support for artists, writers, musicians, even cocoa farmers. Bonus: they are all under $100.
P.S. I don’t receive any compensation if you buy any of these products. I am promoting them solely because I love them.
Gifts for art lovers & makers
An art bundle from B.A. Lampman
B.A. Lampman is is an artist and writer who paints in ink, collages, and writes an art journal/ newsletter called Feed the Monster from her backyard studio in Victoria, BC. She has a degree in Fine Art, with Distinction, from Concordia University in Montréal (1989).
Signs & Symbols of our Ancestors by Natalia Zukerman and Lisa Ferraro
Support the kickstarter for the new book created by Natalia Zukerman and Lisa Ferraro, Signs & symbols of our ancestors: An illustrated collection of sacred stories. The book includes 25 stories plus original water colour paintings created by the multi-talented Natalia. Back the project and you can select one of several rewards to give as a gift or keep for yourself, including signed copies of the book, notecards, ancestor cards with prompts, original paintings, and even private zoom events.
Want to know more? Check out the video for Signs & symbols of our ancestors on kickstarter. Then choose your reward before they are all gone.
Gifts for bookworms
Poetry by Heathen Derr (aka Heather Derr-Smith)
Heathen Derr (Heather Derr-Smith) is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (1997) and a poet with five books, Each End of the World (Main Street Rag Press, Editor’s Choice Award, 2005), The Bride Minaret (University of Akron Press, Editor’s Choice Award, 2008), Tongue Screw (Spark Wheel Press, 2016), Thrust (winner of the Lexi Rudnitsky/Editor's Choice Award, Persea Books, 2017), and Outskirts (University of Akron Press, 2022).
Pick up a copy of one of their books from Bookshop or your favourite indie bookseller. Or pre-order a copy of Outskirts for the book lover on your list. (You might want to couple it with one of Derr’s must-read books, The life of poetry by Muriel Ruckeyser.)
Red thread by Chúc Mỹ Tuệ
Chúc Mỹ Tuệ (aka Teresa Mei Chuc) was born in Sài Gòn, Việt Nam. A boat refugee at the age of two, she immigrated to the U.S. under political asylum with her mother and brother shortly after the American war in Việt Nam while her father, who had served in the Army of the Republic of Việt Nam, remained in a Vietcong "reeducation" prison camp for nine years.
Chuc’s poems have appeared in many literary magazines and anthologies. She is a graduate of the Masters in Fine Arts in creative writing program at Goddard College in Vermont.
Fuse by Hollay Ghadery
Looking for a good memoir? Check out Fuse. “Drawing on her own experiences as a woman of Iranian and British Isle descent, writer Hollay Ghadery dives into conflicts and uncertainty surrounding the bi-racial female body and identity, especially as it butts up against the disparate expectations of each culture. Painfully and at times, reluctantly, Fuse probes and explores the documented prevalence of mental health issues in bi-racial women.”
Diane Schoemperlen (Governor General Award winner and author of This is Not My Life: A Memoir of Love, Prison, and Other Complications) praises the book’s “savage clarity, gorgeous language, and remarkable depth of insight.” And, Nila Gupta, author of The Sherpa and Other Fictions, which was nominated for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (2009), calls it a “searing account of the impact of toxic masculinity on a vulnerable young girl's psyche.”
Buy it at your favourite indie book store or get it at Bookshop.
Spiritual rebel: A positively addictive guide to finding deeper perspective and higher purpose by Sarah Bowen
Animal chaplain, writer, educator, and spiritual mentor Sarah Bowen (aka @modernreverend on Instagram) is the author of Spiritual rebel, a Spirituality & Health Magazine "100 Books We Love" pick; winner of the 2019 Nautilus Book Award, Foreword INDIES, and IBPA Book Award.
Order a copy from your local bookstore or get it online at Bookshop. (While you are at it, pre-order her new book Sacred sendoffs: An animal chaplain’s advice for surviving animal loss, making life meaningful, and healing the planet.
Gifts for music lovers
String of Pearls by Annabelle Chvostek
Annabelle Chvostek has composed music for dance and film, co-written songs with Bruce Cockburn, and was once in the band The Wailin' Jennys. Her work has been nominated for both JUNO and Canadian Folk Music Awards. Her latest work, String of Pearls, is one of my favourite albums of 2021.
Get it on Bandcamp or wherever you buy music.
Blues CDs by David Vest
Love blues? What about boogie woogie piano? Check out two new live albums from David Vest. An award-winning blues artist whose career dates back to 1957, Vest grew up in Alabama but now makes his home on Canada’s west coast, where he plays monthly shows at Hermann’s Jazz Club.
Pick up one (or both) of the CDs for the music lover on your gift list.
Dr. Kristy Leissle is the author of Cocoa, a volume in the Polity Resources” series. She also is the creator of the series, “I am a cocoa farmer” for ConfectionaryNews, which profiles men and women who farm cocoa for a living across sub-Saharan Africa.
When we spoke, she voiced her concerns about widespread stereotypes about slavery and child labour in West Africa. Cocoa farming is hard work, and the price for cocoa is low. She cites Abocfa, a farmers’ cooperative for providing a safer, more sustainable livelihood.
Three of Fresco’s award-winning chocolate bars use cocoa from Abocfa. Buy the Academy of Chocolate Awards 2020 bundle, which includes the 68% light roast, 68% dark roast, and 100% light roast bars made with cocoa from Ghana, and the 72% Oka Caribe light roast and 72% Oka Caribe medium roast from the Dominican Republic. A bundle sure to please any true chocolate lover on your gift list.
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