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BIRTHDAY GIFT PACKS A PUNCH: Claire Potter was looking for something different for her husband's 50th birthday: something appropriately "big" and memorable.

It took a while, but eventually she decided to give him 50 mini-challenges: 50 everyday experiences and adventures designed to make his year as a 50-year-old really pack a punch. She wrote them down, decorated them and put them in a box to open and do, one by one, over the year.

And what did her husband think of his unusual birthday present?

Two-thirds of the way through the year, Potter says the results are already astonishing. "He says he is enjoying the way it is constantly pushing back the edges of his life and taking him up new avenues, as well as old ones he'd forgotten."

Here are 10 items from the full list:

1. Make a loaf of bread.

2. Go to a dance class.

3. Pick a random novel from a bookshop. Read the first paragraph. Do something (anything) triggered by those words.

4. Write and post letter to [their teenage son] Fred to surprise him.

5. Register at the police station as a line-up person.

6. Buy an item of clothing from a charity shop that you really like, but isn't the sort of thing you normally wear. Wear it.

7. Go skinny-dipping.

8. Pay for someone's tea or coffee anonymously.

9. Do a Life Expectancy Calculator test. So, how many years have you got left. Write down five things you'd really like to do in that time.

10. Eat a whole lobster.




PORTRAIT OF A BELOVED GRANDMOTHER: Gemma Green-Hope's grandmother or "Gan-Gan," as she called her, lived with fire and purpose.

When she died in 2010, Green-Hope helped her father sort through her possessions. She inherited some of her clothes, her books on the kings and queens of England, and her edition of Christina Rossetti's poems. She also got her blue bicycle, a Raleigh Traveller.

But what to do with her other items: diaries, boxes full of photographs, jewelry and bits of string? Green-Hope transformed the possessions her grandmother left behind into this poignant stop-motion portrait of Gan-Gan.



POETRY: WHEN YOU ARE OLD: Throughout his life aging was a prominent theme in the poetry of W.B. Yeats.

Yeats was born in 1865, in Dublin, Ireland. When You Are Old is one of his earliest poems. It was inspired by a fiery, brainy Irish revolutionary. He met Maud Gonne in 1889, when "the troubling of my life began."

He proposed to her countless times, over a span of three decades, but she always turned him down.

When You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Source: The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats.



BUILDING A SEVEN-GENERATION WORLD: Canada-based You 177 is encouraging a bigger way of thinking and acting across generations to create a "seven generation world".

Developed by the Legacy Project, You 177 is a social innovation initiative that invites you to make a difference in a big-picture context: one world, seven generations and seven billion people.

In 2014, Whitchurch-Stouffville, a community of 45,000 in the Greater Toronto area, received funds from United Way and a three-year $225,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to launch the WS You 177 initiative.

As a first step, the Whitchurch-Stouffville public library and the Legacy Project invited everyone in the community to read Dream: A Tale of Wonder, Wisdom and Wishes at the same time.

Susan Bosak's radiant book touts the power of dreams and the flow of life and hope from one generation to the next.



Finally, we want to thank our wonderful readers and contributors. We wish you many blessings for 2015!
— Ruth Dempsey, Editor