make some happy

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I just wanna wear jumpers and jump around the puddles. Or overalls and run over all the hills.  What about shorts and sit behind the shortstop? Am I going too far with this, or should I make a silly about a skirt?

Thing is, I have an overwhelming urge to stick my toes in the mud and walk across the creek.  I want the sun to shine so bright that I can swim in the lake and sip sweet lemonade.  Imagine bare legs tanning and light freckles emerging under the endless summer sky.
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But perhaps I’m jumping too far ahead?  Shouldn’t I be more excited for the spring that keeps promising to come?  The spring, of course, is when everyone is hopeful.  The flowers begin to bloom and people everywhere are excited about picnics at the park and walks by the river and bike rides at the lake.

My imagination is getting the better of me on this cold winter’s day.  To get over my winter blues, I bought myself some ice cream and flowers.  Gotta make your own happy, right?
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Speaking of creating happy – Matt Richardson emailed me about a KickStarter campaign he’s doing for his new greeting card business, Gramr Gratitude.  Matt founded Gramr Gratitude to encourage people to become happier by writing handwritten letters.  The idea that practicing gratitude makes us happier is nothing new, but Matt designed his company so that saying “hello” and “thank you” and “you’re so kind” is not only easy, but fun.

Gramr Gratitude inspired me to do a random act of happiness centered around, you guessed it, thankfulness.  I put together a pre-paid greeting card and left it for a stranger.
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fan mail

fan mail

Disney Fact: In 1933, Mickey Mouse received 800,000 pieces of fan mail–more than any other star in Hollywood.  The first letter I ever wrote was to Santa, letting him know that I wanted all the Nancy Drew books and a Skip-It.  After making my Christmas wishes clear, the second letter I sent was to Melissa Joan Heart.

“Dear Melissa,  Clarissa Explains It All  is the best show on television, and I watch with my sister almost every single day. Unless my brother is watching Ninja Turtles , because they usually come on at the same time.  Luckily he is usually busy playing outside because we only have one TV.  Anyway, I wish I had a friend like Sam that crawled into my bedroom whenever he wanted.  I have to share a room, so you’re doing pretty well for yourself.  Anyway, I think we’d be friends, and hopefully we can meet someday. XO, Jen.”

After that initial letter went out, I received an autographed postcard from Clarissa thanking me for watching the show.  I pinned the postcard on my wall, and then I wrote to Kelly (Saved by the Bell), Alex (Mysterious World of Alex Mack) and Ashley (All That).   Time to grow my list of signatures from famous celebs (aka, best friends).

I’m a huge fan of fan mail.  The concept is just so great — take a moment to share generous thoughts and send kind words.  I got behind the movement when I was 9, and I’m still practicing the trade at 26 (that’s like.. let’s see.. 17 years of fan mail  from yours truly.)

Anyway! This whole post is really just a plea for my readers to let someone know that you appreciate their work.  The web makes it easy to contact almost anyone you admire, so no excuses.  Jot down a couple people who inspire you (designers, photographers, writers, fashion icons, comedians, teachers, etc) and then send them a piece of fan mail.

For example, I’m a huge fan of designer/illustrator Shannon Kirsten.  She has no idea that I scope out her Etsy shop when I’m bored, or that I pin almost all of her designs.  I’m ending all that today with this fan mail addressed express from me to her.

public notice to have hope

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Each morning, Kinzie licks my face until I wake up, and I spend the next 15 minutes or so walking her through the neighborhood. It’s usually a peaceful time of day, and I enjoy sharing the city with Kinzie before everyone wakes.

Today, however, there were an unusually large number of caution signs in the neighborhood due to the construction going on across the street.  Walking Kinzie, I felt like a child being reprimanded: ‘don’t park here,’ ‘stay on the sidewalk,’ ‘trespassers will be prosecuted,’ ‘no-loitering,’ and ‘we tow’  Goodness gracious, doesn’t anyone have anything nice to say?  Shouldn’t someone take some of this community space to say something… kind?

Well, you guessed it.  I took matters into my own hands and decided to write public letters of encouragement and inspiration.  I scrawled words of wisdom and kindness (quoting the greats — not my own) and hung them on trees around my neighborhood.

Hopefully, just hopefully, someone enjoys the change of scenery and finds comfort in the encouraging letters.

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Here are the more permanent signs in my neighborhood:
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graffiti mural in downtown minneapolis

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Graffiti art has been on my bucket list for a while, so I decided to make an abstract mural with permanent marker on my favorite white wall in the city.
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Just kidding!

Did I getcha? 😉

What I actually did today was write letters to strangers on the backside of colorful construction paper, and then turned the notes into paper airplanes.  I placed the colorful planes around the University of Minnesota campus.
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The idea is that a stranger will take the plane out of the tree, and then the letter inside will come be a surprise.  A  discovery, of sorts.  Each letter is unique, and talks vaguely about the importance of taking chances.  When I was in college, I wasn’t entirely sure that studying art history was the greatest choice, but I had faith that the dots would connect down the line.  And you know what? Everything worked out better than I could have imagined.  Nothing at all went according to plan, however.

But still, the message that I wanted to share was simply to be patient, continue to follow your dreams, and don’t be afraid to take a risk.
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageIsn’t the view of the city from the UofM bridge gorgeous?
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The bridge leads right to the art museum, and so, being me, I wandered into the galleries to see some art:
ImageImageImageImageImageAnd speaking of notes, have you seen the Disney short film The Paperman? It’s a ‘must see’ if you have 90 seconds: 

And just because this post is so quirky, I made you this:
quirk

scatter joy around you

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i take pleasure in delaying laundry day as long as possible.  when i was younger, i told my little sister that she could keep one of my outfits if she cleaned them all. in college, i bought new clothes to avoid spending the day battling the coin-operated machines (i also convinced myself that buying new clothes was the same price as washing the dirty stuff). i’ve come to a point in life where i accept that one day a week will be devoted to laundry.  unfortunately, that one day usually looks something like this:Imagemy plans to do whites, colors, towels, delicates, and sheets went down the drain (thankfully) around noon.  i received a sweet letter from my friend dawn — a sort of ‘just because’ note if you will, and it made me smile.  Imagei recognized the sweet card as a simple yet effective way of making someone happy, and so i got out my crayons, paper, stickers, markers, and pins to make some for the neighborhood (my crafts&toys drawer would make any elementary school student want to be my best  friend).ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImagei decided to hang the handmade cards around my neighborhood in the hope that someone i know might find one. i always wonder what the recipients of my RAH RAH RAH projects think about the surprises they find.  i will tell you, dear reader, that some people have raised concerns about whether these projects actually make anyone happier. i’ve gotten a lot of “well how do you know?” and “it’s not sustainable happiness.” fair points, right? i know that i can’t measure the outcome of these projects, but i can tell you that i have faith in the intangible benefits that come out of it.  if one person feels a little more joyful, then i’m OK with all the effort. ImageImageImage

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a friend of mine went to a charity event in chicago last weekend, and someone stole her purse just as she was about to board the train back to minneapolis. bad timing, right? but the worst part of that story is that someone planned to spread pain that day.  like i said before, i don’t have proof that these projects make anyone happier, but i’m committed to scattering joy, not pain, to those around me.