the art of failure

 

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Embrace failure.  What’s the worst that could happen?  You might fail?  Great odds, considering you will fail without doubt if you never even begin.  The good news is that every failure creates an opportunity to begin again with additional knowledge.  The second time you attempt something you will be in a better position to succeed, likely creating something much more successful than you attempted in the first-go-round. 

Failure lets you know that you can do better.  It’s the personal coach inside your head telling you to push forward and strive for your best.  Do you need to add something to your vision, or take something away?  What mistakes were made the first time, and how can they be remedied?

Failure presents dazzling opportunities for growth and creativity, and, if you play your cards right, success. 

To make failing easier, more of a routine, perhaps, I pledge to 1) Recognize failure as a growth opportunity; 2) Learn from mistakes and shortcomings; 3) Apply new knowledge to all future attempts;  and 4) Remember that I haven’t truly failed until I’ve given up.  

I spent the day creating a baby gift for a dear friend, inspired by the welcome wreath that I made my sister.  My hands and my mind were  clearly up to different things, right?  The thing is, I’ve been spending a lot of time contemplating my current situation, my future goals, and different ways of shortening the gap between the two points.  When I’m busy working with my hands, my mind takes the opportunity to wander freely.  Hope you don’t mind the disjunction between the are of failure and the art of crafting 🙂

As for the wreath, the entire thing was made from colorful papers, glue, and a little tape.  I wanted to put a unique spin on the traditional baby gift, and so I went with a “welcome to the world” shadow box.  You can see the process below:Image
I began by sketching the globe and making notes where the ‘welcome to the world’ would be written.Image
The second step was to create cut-outs of the necessary continents on colorful paper:Image
Tape your circular globe to a plane sheet of paper:
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And then stick your continent cutouts to the globe —  I used a thick tacky glue so that they would pop off the sheet just a bit:Image
Simple as draw, cut, & glue:
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targeted kindness with babycakes

ImageWhen was the last time that you were overwhelmed with kindness?  It’s happened to me a number of times, but more often than not, it’s the goodness of a loved one that inspires me.  Today, however, I was almost brought to tears by the generosity of a stranger.

Samantha recently opened an Etsy shop to sell gifts that she makes by hand with the help of her family.  She read about my random acts of happiness on the blog, and she wrote a letter asking if her Etsy shop could support the project.   I said yes, of course, and waited to see how the collaboration would evolve.  A couple days later, Samantha sent me half-a-dozen baby outfits designed to look like cupcakes.  She included the sweetest note:
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Despite the title of the random acts of happiness, I decided to go a little targeted with this donation by giving the gifts to women in need.  I feel like this is a new rule of thumb:  commit random acts of happiness unless targeted happiness will provide a greater good.  In this case, I knew that the Minneapolis nonprofit Birthright would be grateful for the thoughtful gifts.  Image
Minneapolis Birthright provides one-on-one counseling for pregnant and expecting mothers.  The nonprofit works with single, married, divorced and widowed women to dispense quality information regarding medical care, financial assistance, and childcare.

I spoke with a Birthright representative, and she told me that volunteers usually go yard-sale shopping to find baby items for expecting and new mothers.  She commented that “it is very rare, if ever, that Birthright children own something brand new. “

And so, I decided to break the cycle of giving Birthright women secondhand apparel.  I brought Samantha’s customized gifts to the center, and I told the volunteers to provide them to the women most in need.
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ImageImageImageImageImageImageDear readers, if you want to make someone else happy, try an act of targeted happiness.  Families in need are a great place to start, and a simple Google search with “donations + ‘your area code’” will display a variety of places that would be grateful for your donation.

And, finally, if you’re thinking of donating baby goods, why not start with something from Samantha? You can check out her Etsy shop KaeLilyBoutique, and show her just how quickly good karma comes back around.    And remember:
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celebrate others and increase your joy

happiness is on my mind with the interactions taking place in the rah rah rah series (random acts of happiness).  today i took a second to write down my 13 happiest moments in 2013, and they ordered something like this:

  • my wedding day
  • a friend telling me she’s in love
  • another friend telling me she’s in love
  • a friend telling me she’s pregnant
  • another friend telling me she’s pregnant
  • my sister winning a house lottery (!)
  • moving to minneapolis
  • a friend getting a job offer that she’s been wanting for a while
  • a friend dropping everything and traveling solo to south america because it’s been on her bucket list for soo long
  • jon’s parents giddy excitement as they planned their trip to the baltic sea
  • jon’s parents excitement when they announced their retirement
  • my brother-in-law’s college graduation
  • my bachelorette party in austin
  • my honeymoon trip to isla mujeres
  • visiting good friends in new york city

the list suggests that some of my happiness comes from personal milestones, but a great deal of it comes from celebrating the achievements of friends and family. does it follow that we can be happier simply by celebrating the good fortune of others?  the answer seems to make sense– if the people around us are flourishing and happy, then their joy is capable of increasing our own.  per usual, i grabbed my camera and headed to the streets of minneapolis to test my theory.  i approached strangers and asked them to talk about the last time they were happy for someone else:0
the first man i approached was more enlightened than the buddha himself.  he looked at me like i was nuts, and he told me that he’s always happy for others. always? always.  he said that he’s happy because he has 4 grandchildren — ages 8, 9, 15, and 17 — and all of them are healthy and loved.  he said that being around his grandchildren is enough to make him happy for all of his days.  i scribbled down his words, and then he gazed up at the sun and reflected for a bit.  after, he told me that he’s also very happy that the people of minneapolis have such wonderful lakes and sunny skies.

while the rest of the responses weren’t exactly going to make the buddha smile, they did provide further insights into what’s making the people of minneapolis happy:
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“i’m happy it’s my sister’s birthday, and that we’re together at the lake instead of working.” (girl in blue)
“it’s my birthday!!!” (girl in yellow)
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“i am sophie, and i am happy because my sister just got pregnant. she was trying for a couple years, and it was really tough for her, and then she called from work –even though she wasn’t supposed to be on the phone– and she told me the good news.”
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“i’m happy that my son came home from maryland to visit for a while. he hasn’t been home since 2009, and now i have him here for 2 weeks.” (woman in hat)
“i’m happy my mom’s happy” (man in hat)
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“my sister had a job interview today at the school where our mom works — it would be great if they could work together.”
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“friend of mine just got married – they’re an adorable couple and incredibly happy together.” (guy in sleeveless)
“my sister got engaged” (girl in dress)
“a friend of mine has a coffee-date with a coworker” (guy in polo)
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“a friend got married – or, well, a few did – it’s wedding season!”
7
“a friend of ours just had a baby–and so did we!”
8
“my brother, joe fessler, just dropped a new album. he was working on the mix for over a year, and it turned out awesome.”
9
“my dad just started his own company”
10
“my daughter just had a perfect baby.”
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“our son is engaged to the most wonderful woman.”

i set out to make others happy, but i was definitely the lucky one today — it was so. much. fun. listening to all the happy moments that people shared with me.  i loved hearing the enthusiasm  and love with which people spoke about their friends and family (and yes, they were all smiling while they talked — mission accomplished).