spontaneous dance party

A stranger from Indianapolis wrote me an email saying that I was lovely and we should live together.  Perhaps share a two bedroom near the park? Let me know!  XOXO, Kali.

To be fair, I was the weirdo that posted an advertisement for roommates on Craigslist.  Kali was the first to respond, and we instantly bonded over a mutual love of painting, poetry, holidays, baked goods and spontaneous dance parties.  We found a small mansion in Lincoln Park, scouted out another 2 roommates to fill the house, and moved in a month later.
Jon had a pool party the weekend I met Kali, and so I invited her along to meet my friends.  She’d only known me a few hours, but she grabbed her bikini and followed me downtown for some afternoon fun.  We were sitting on the bus, only 5 minutes from Jon’s building, when it started pouring rain all around us.  I made a comment about the rain ruining the fun, and she said something I never forgot

“Not every day is happy, but there is something happy about every day — let’s put on our bikinis.”

I prompted her for details about where we should do that, and she told me to run behind the dumpster. Ummmm K?  So we did.  To prevent soaking our clothes, we put on our swimsuits, and then we ran the last 4 blocks (through downtown Chicago people — Kinzie/LaSalle) to Jon’s apartment.  We arrived soaking wet but incredibly happy, and we suggested to my dear boy that we take umbrellas to the hot tub.  Problem solved.
Living with Kali made every.single.day happy: we had Trader Joe picnics in the living room, swapped clothes in both bedrooms, and took turns leading designs projects in the house.  The greatest design project, by far, was a mural of the Chicago skyline that Kali did in the main room:
Can you tell she’s a graphic designer?  It’s obvious, right?  She currently does marketing and design for a beauty company, but she just started her own freelancing business, June Mango.  Her designs are vibrant, fresh and indicative of her sweet&quirky personality:
Awesome, right?  Right now she’s actually in a competition on Minted, and you can support my BFF by voting for Kali Edwards in the State of the Art Challenge.

If you’re more into making friends than voting, head over to her blog and say hello.  She’s the best, and, what’s more, you don’t even have to write a creepy Craigslist advt. to meet her 🙂

happily ever now

I truly intend to write about things besides love and kindness. My head is filled with tales of mystery, stories of adventure, and legends of the past.  When I start typing, however, my fingers get all excited about the love stories and, quite simply, ruin whatever else I was planning to write.

Okay, okay, now and again I get to draw silly pictures and make jokes.  More often than not, however, I’m writing about love, friendship, and the kindness of strangers.  Maybe I’ll break the habit, but today was filled with too much goodness to be a starting point.  Perhaps next week I will get to the action-packed sci-fi adventures.

As for today, Jon played hookie from work so we could take a color-drive, visit the zoo, and have dinner at my favorite rooftop restaurant.  When we got home, my sweet friends had decorated the apartment with birthday surprises – it was some kind of wonderful.

My brother-in-law and my aunt have birthdays this week, and so I spent the early morning (before the color-drive) making birthday cards and envelopes.  The envelopes were a fun project because I made them out of wrapping paper and mod-podge.  If you’re wanting to try a fun twist on the classic greeting card, here are the steps:

Pick a wrapping paper, a card (any size) and grab some mod-podge:Image
Place the greeting card in the center of the wrapping paper, just like you’re planning to wrap a present:
Pull the bottom of the wrapping paper over the center of the card and make a solid crease:Image
Wrap the sides of the wrapping paper over over the back of the card:
Cut the wrapping paper where at the top of the greeting card.  Use mod-podge to glue the wrapping paper covering the right and left sides of the greeting card to the wrapping paper that you pulled over the center of the card.  It should look like this:
Cut excess wrapping paper form the top of the card:
Fold the top of the wrapping paper into a triangle:Image
Tape the triangle over the back of the card:Image
Front of the card (mine is being hand-delivered, but you could also put the address here):Image

I made a simple card to go inside:
Just a regular ‘happy birthday’ stamp with white ink on red paper:Image
Here are some outtakes from my day with Jon.ImageImageImageImageImage1-IMG_6691


kinder than necessary

Cultivate a loving heart, and practice being kinder than necessary.  In the course of your day, you will inevitably encounter difficult people, but have patience and practice kindness. You won’t regret it.  In my experience, the most trying individuals are fighting battles of their own, and they are the most deserving of compassion.

I tell myself that the people who are hardest to love need it the most.  My attitude may suggest blind optimism, but I’ve pondered the subject for years, and I truly believe it’s accurate.  When people are hard to love, it’s likely that they don’t consider the impact of their actions on others.  But how do people cultivate a sense of empathy?  How do they develop an understanding for difference?

I believe it begins with exposure to kindness.  Be kind to the people that least deserve it, and I promise that they will ponder your behavior.  They will consider how your actions deviate from their own, and, perhaps, how your behavior made their day better. Maybe that thinking will compel them to be kinder to the people in their lives.  Just maybe, it will compel them to handle strangers with grace.

You won’t regret acts of kindness.  You will never look back on your days and think that you were too considerate, or that you should have treated people more harshly.  You might, however, regret the moments you failed to show someone compassion.

The good news, dear reader, is that while not all of us can cure cancer or win a beauty pageant, we can all cultivate a kind heart.   We can all better the lives of others by being kinder than necessary.

To spread the message, I wrote “Be Kind” with colored tape in various places throughout the city:
After I did my random act of happiness, I spent the afternoon touring vineyards with Chrissy and Lauren.  You might remember Chrissy as the girl that I randomly asked to hang out with me.  That quirky decision definitely paid off:
Once again, thank you to Laura at Apricot Lane in St. Cloud for styling this post.  I keep getting  compliments for my clothes, and I almost feel guilty about it.  It was all you, Laura.

a kind heart behind the camera

Imagethe only thing better than making people smile is capturing that happiness in a photograph.  photographs have this wonderful ability to express emotions and convey ideas that are often impossible with words – essentially letting the photographer express the unspeakable.

i went to cinque terre with a dear friend, emily, a few years ago, and i kept asking strangers to take pictures of us together.  i wanted to document the memory and have images to review when i felt compelled to ‘remember the time.’
emily happily agreed, and she smiled at tourist destinations until my collection of images grew large enough to fill an album.  never once did emily ask someone to take a picture of her, and when i inquired why, she explained that she liked being behind the camera – capturing other people in moments that she could look back on.  she was more interested in documenting the sincerity, genuineness, and spontaneity that characterizes the candid, private photographs.

at the time, her response only prompted me to grab her camera and see what gems her sneakiness had produced.  since then, however, i’ve continually reflected upon that moment as being very revealing of her selflessness.  it takes a kind heart to find the infinite in seemingly ordinary, every day activity.

luckily for me, my wedding photographer didn’t ever get very far from away from her: