peace of mind : the faq

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It was thrilling to see the response from my earlier post about the gift "peace of mind" that I gave to my man last November. Thank you to everyone that commented or contacted me about this project!

[If you didn't see the post, go have a quick look. Or here's the jist: I thought of all the little to-do’s, house annoyances, tasks and errands that pile up and nag him every time they come to mind. I decided to make a list of all those things — and do them. Thereby giving him: Peace Of Mind. To convey it all, I created a stack of cards in a paper box. The images that follow take you through the entire gift.]

Amidst the ever-growing collection of comments were a number of questions that I will now respond to. Still curious? Post your other questions as comments here and I will do my best to answer them.

How did you get all these things done and still keep it a surprise?

It took some advance planning followed by a lot of last-minute hustle.

The last day before his birthday, I secretly took the day off of work and did as many of the things I could do last minute (such as installing the light switch plate and the ceiling lamp; dishes; organizing the stacks of mail and magazines or bathroom toiletries; moving baskets, bags and posters; taking the knives to be sharpened and the clothes to give away).

There were a few items I did in the week before that I tried to disguise -- for example, I sold our coffee table but told him I'd moved it to the basement for the time being. Other items were done further in advance since I knew he wouldn't discover that I'd sorted all the cd's in their cases or ordered the last of our past-due wedding gifts.

On his birthday, we went out for dinner straight from work and when we came home, I made him keep his eyes closed when entering the apartment. I sat him down in a chair where the surprises wouldn't immediately be revealed, and gave him the box of cards. After opening the gift, we explored the apartment on a very fun tour of the entire list.

What was his reaction?

I was surprised to see how moved he was. I hadn't thought about an emotional component to it -- it just seemed like a wonderful thing to offer him, something that I had the unique power to give. Not to mention, I was eager for an alternative to traditional gift shopping -- he's a tough guy to buy for! One thing he's said about this present is that someone can only give a person a gift like this if you know them really well. The feeling of being truly known was a big part of his reaction and one that gave me the most satisfaction.

How did it feel to give this gift?

It was a powerful experience for two reasons:

1) It felt like a real expression of love. These tasks and to-do's are a hassle by most anyone's standards, but crossing them off the list for him changed the way it felt as I worked through each item. It's like breakfast in bed on a whole different level.

2) It was immensely empowering! A number of these items were on a mutual list of sorts, since we share a household. I had plenty of these to-do's nagging me for ages as well. While working on this present I made the exciting discovery that I can just decide to get all that crap done and do it -- essentially in one day. I attached excuses or cause for delay to so many of those items or assumed that I needed his help to get them done. Instead, no! I hung the ceiling lamp and found the best knife sharpener nearby (A Cook's Companion on Atlantic) and just got the job done. It absolutely gave me peace of mind as well.

Is your boyfriend high maintenance? Does he help around the house?

He is a huge contributor to household tasks and very low maintenance. I'm a lucky woman. But he works so much these days that he struggles to find time to get to all the things that pile up. As do I. And as you all do too, probably. I'd see him come home and glance at the stack of junk mail or spy the lamp shade that we still hadn't hung and I saw how it frustrated him, wishing he'd taken care of it already. And so I thought, let me make that all go away for a day. How marvelous that would feel.

Why would you hang a table lamp from the ceiling?

This question made me laugh. Totally reasonable -- my description was a bit odd. It is a lamp shade hung from the ceiling over a bulb that is situated just above our dining table. A "pendant lamp" is a more accurate title -- something like this.

What is his sock drawer like?

It is an impressively neat and orderly sock drawer. Funny to live with someone for years and never have really examined their sock drawer, but when I pulled it open and saw how the socks were paired perfectly with no floaters, and lined up in categories, I knew I could check it off the list without any effort on my part.

What's with the Obama mention?

On that last card, I threw on a few more items that I didn't think needed an entire card and illustration. With the Nov 08 election just behind us, I listed Obama as something else that brings peace of mind. Although I can't take any credit for his presidency, I decided to include it for a laugh. And because yes, in our house, we had no peace of mind under Bush and expected none from McCain.

How can I give Peace of Mind?

The first step is to start thinking about a list -- what are the things that would give him/her true peace of mind, however temporary. You may find ideas on my list, but it's likely that that each person will have a unique set of to-do's that if completed would bring a sigh of relief. Next, start planning for how to get them done! In the meantime, I can work with you to turn that list into a beautiful presentation -- a serene, handwritten and illustrated collection of cards. Find out more on my website or contact me with questions.

More: Read the original post and view all the cards in my Peace of Mind gift. Find out more about ordering Peace of Mind gift cards.