hey stranger hey

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The little phrase ‘take some love and pass it around’ has been floating around in my mind all day.  Perhaps it’s because I find books and love interchangeable?
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Thing is, Alessandra Rissotti, Community Director at GOOD, contacted me about recreating my ‘something for nothing’ book project from 2013.  58 GOOD readers participated last summer, and we’re hoping that even more people will get involved for the 2014 project.
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Last summer, I left my book collection next to a sign that read “something for nothing: take a book.”  This year, I made individual bookmarks that invite strangers to take, read, and share a novel.
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The project is simple and sneaky: take your favorite reads out of storage, dust them off, place a bookmark inside, and leave them around town.
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A happy surprise for a summer day, right?
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Here’s to hoping someone returns the favor.
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If you want to get involved, print out your own bookmarks here

drive-thru flowering

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I’ll do just just about anything to make myself or someone else laugh.  Perhaps that’s why I run amok committing random acts of happiness?The senseless acts are a surefire way to make a stranger smile, and I usually end up laughing about my awkward behavior.  More often than not, other people are laughing about my awkward behavior too.  And you know what?  I’m 100% okay with that.
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My friend Ashely stopped me in the elevator and asked if we could do a kindness project.  I immediately agreed, but then I was a bit stumped: what to do on a cold and rainy day?  The rain has been pit-pat-falling-down for the past few days, and the only thing I wanted to do was curl-up, read, and maybe drink a chai or three.  Except getting that chai meant driving to Starbucks or Caribou and winding myself through the drive-thru.
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A bit of a ‘give-a-mouse-a-cookie’ situation, but I started thinking about how register guys & gals would probably rather bundle-up at home than make me a chai  And then lightning struck (literally and figuratively): we could surprise drive-thru workers with flowers.  And so, that’s what we did tonight.  This video captures the reason I love these random acts of happiness oh.so.much:

literary magic

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Confession: I’m a jealous person.  It’s not something we generally go around admitting, is it?  But if I think about it, dig deep and stay honest, I would bet everyone gets a case of green envy every now and again.

We’re told that comparison is the thief of joy, and jealousy is.. well.. evil.  But I tend to think about it differently, and I might even go so far as to say I like being jealous.   Today, for instance, I was reading Tell The Wolves I’m Home when I came across this passage:

“I felt like I had proof that not all days are the same length, not all time has the same weight. Proof that there are worlds and worlds and worlds on top of worlds, if you want them to be there.”
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I closed the book and thought about the beauty and poignancy in that transcendent sentence – about how lyricism and thought combined into some kind of literary magic.  Sure as luck, I found myself wishing I could write like that – I was jealous.
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But you know what the jealousy did?  It made me want to put down the book and grab my journal and write write write until I came up with something original and true and inspiring.  I might not ever write anything worth publishing, but I’m inspired to try.  If jealousy motivates me to dream and work and strive, can it really be that bad?
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What are your thoughts on the rock  garden I made?  I wanted to take pictures of flowers, but since they aren’t blooming yet, I had to get a little creative.  My idea?  Join the ranks of Love Rocks!  Love Rocks is an organization that encourages people to paint rocks and then leave them around their community for strangers to find.   Bet you aren’t jealous of my rocks… 🙂

worth the wait

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An apple a day keeps the doctor away, and a doodle a day brings creativity your way.  The poem’s my own, and while I’m no sage, I’d be willing to bet a five or ten spot that it holds some truth.  
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To inspire creativity in Minneapolis, I covered a bus stop with butcher paper and colored pencils.  Made me think of changing the ‘whistle while you work’ song to something like ‘doodle while you wait.’
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The random act of happiness was inspired by the League of Creative Interventionist‘s March mission to make bus stops more playful.  Pretty cool idea for a creative intervention, right?  You can see how they come up with project ideas by watching conversational videos on their blog.
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I had barely finished hanging paper when people wandered past and asked what I was up to.  After providing some background info, I found myself doodling with 3 awesome strangers.  One of them happened to be a Minneapolis artist.
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Does it surprise you that the three of us are getting together next week?  Proof that we never know what the day holds for us, right?
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The strangers asked about other projects I’ve done in the city, and it reminded me of a ‘poetry takeover’ I staged in bus stops last year.  If you didn’t get to read about it, you can see the post here:
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Have you ever made friends in an interesting way?  Any ideas for making bus stops more fun?

fire the imagination

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“The city is melting away.”  Promising words coming from anyone besides a fire chief, right?  I’m keeping the windows open to hear the pit pat of snow melting off roofs, and my rain boots are a necessity for navigating the puddles that are here there and everywhere.  The melting makes everything feel clean and fresh and hopeful.  
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For some reason, my thoughts crossed and I realized that firemen probably aren’t too keen on the word ‘melt.’  And then, what do you know, I remembered that my friends at the fire station needed new pillowcases.  
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The last time I was there, they told me that they don’t have a budget for linens, and that the 21 pillowcases inside the station are older than me.  A call to action or a simple statement?  For me, it inspired a random act of happiness — pillowcases for Station 8. 
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mind your mittens

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Too much of a good thing is… well… impossible.  Thing is, if you have lots and lots of something good, that means you have the opportunity to double-up and pass it around and do all sorts of sharing.
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 That’s exactly the position I found myself in after buying 3yards of this navy & tribal & gotta-have-every-bit-left-in-the-barrel fabric to make a scarf.  3yards to make a scarf? Like I said, it was lots & lots of a good thing. 
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So much goodness, in fact, that I was able to double up (make two) and try to share with someone that might need an extra bit of clothing to keep warm.  I’m volunteering as a home interviewer for Habitat for Humanity (assessing the needs of people who apply for housing), and so I brought the scarf along as a donation tonight.
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Except, and I guess I should have known this, Habitat doesn’t take clothing donations. Oops.  What to do with the second scarf? Any suggestions?

dirtier than ever

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I did something a bit, well, strange today.  And you know what? I felt pretty bad about it.  I immediately wanted to scream apologies from my window and do something to keep my karma clean.  It’s not that I felt bad about what I did, but I felt bad for thinking it was so.very.strange. Because in all honesty, it was pretty gosh.darn.awesome.
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Some people count sheep when they can’t sleep, but I use the spare 30 minutes or so to watch TED talks.  The talks inspire and motivate and inform, and, before I know it, I’m drifting off to sleep with new insights and ideas and conversation starters. 
 
I couldn’t sleep the other night, and so I watched Robin Nagle’s talk about trash.  Not just trash, but the 11,000 tons of trash that New York City produces each and every single day.

 Nagle points out that sanitation workers toil to keep the city clean, safe, and beautiful, but that they hardly receive a word of thanks for their efforts.  On the contrary, people tend to attach a negative stigma to the people that risk their own health to clean up after us messy folk.

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I thought about the random acts I’ve done for police officers and mailmen and other types of public officials, and realized I was guilty of the exact bias Nagle was describing – I’d honestly just never thought that much about my trash (I recycle, but I’m not wondering who is picking it up and where it’s going and all that jazz).
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Being that it’s Random Acts of Kindness week, I thought I’d use the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to the sanitation workers that work (often without recognition) to make our neighborhoods such nice places to live.

winter sweet

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Nothing brings people together like subzero temperatures.  When the weather drips and drops and dances into negative temperatures, the majority are brought together indoors for warmth and companionship.  This makes winter a wonderful time for intimate gatherings focused on loved ones rather than the hullabaloo outside your door.

Knowing that we’re all experiencing the same freezing temperatures and snow piles and icy roads helps build camaraderie.  What’s more, when the spring comes, everyone feels an almost overwhelming gratitude for the simple pleasures of sunshine and warmth.
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A friend called yesterday to see how I was coping with the -20 daily temperatures.  Honestly? It makes walking Kinzie a little difficult, but I busy myself with small gatherings and crafting and reading and yoga and baking and cleaning and try to keep warm.  I wear Long Johns and sip hot coffee/tea/anything with steam.  To be honest, it doesn’t seem as much like coping as it does going through the season.

Minneapolis schools have been closed the past few days, and a handful of businesses have followed suit.  For the most part, my friends and I are reveling in the joys of good old-fashioned snow days.  Perhaps this has something to do with my affection for winter?  I love myself a snow day or three or seven.
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Now, winter wouldn’t be quite as nice without snow days, and so I decided my first rah rah rah project of the year would help brighten the day of someone who works year round, despite the whims of weather.  Dog walkers, snow shovelers, mailmen, and trash collectors are all eligible under this category, so perhaps this project continues through the season.  Either way, today I left a small gift for my mailman:
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spirits are light

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The only problem was that the day wasn’t long enough.  How often do we hop into bed wishing that we had a few more hours to enjoy the day?  Jon and I arrived at the cabin late Saturday night, and we spent Sunday enjoying family, friends, and holiday festivities.  What more could we ask for?

A highlight of the day was learning that I had my very own Christmas stalking hanging above the fireplace.  This is my second Christmas with Jon’s family, but the *1st* time I had a matching stalking — his mom sewed it up to match the stalkings she made her children 20 years ago.
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My mother-in-law, Jane, planned a rah rah rah project to spread Christmas cheer to the neighbors.  The plan was simple but capable of spreading lots of joy:  festive ornaments would be placed in the surrounding woods to bring a bit of happiness to passerby.  What do you think? Gorgeous, right?
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Then we finished decorating our own tree:
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Jon and I got competitive with battleship:
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Lucky me, I got an early Christmas present:ImageImage
The day came to an end with one of my favorite things: Christmas baking! Good news everyone (selfish news), this time I was baking baking just  for my family (as opposed to the other two times I baked cookies for strangers and friends).  Finally, at long last, I can dig into the sweet treats filling the kitchen:
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Also, I received a free sample from Ginger Mail.  I love illustration, calligraphy, and design, so the surprise package absolutely made my day:
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Alright, time to rejoin the cabin festivities – sledding in the morning, board games in the afternoon, and movies tonight.  I think we might have a sleigh-ride scheduled for the morning?  Anyway, with all the warmth and cuddles and snowfall and presents, I’m betting that today will be another day that I’m left wishing would go on and on and on 🙂

merry & bright

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What did the doctor give Santa when he broke his leg falling down the chimney?  You guessed it – a candy cane! Bah, a good joke, right? Or absolutely terrible? You be the judge.

You’re probably wondering why that joke ever entered my head.  I mean, what was this girl thinking about all day?  Truth be told? How to best decorate a bus stop with candy canes.

Cane after cane went up in the little bus stop, and soon enough I’m wondering why they are called candy canes in the first place.  At the same time, I’m fielding calls from doctors & nurses about tests results and upcoming appointments. Candy cane experiment meets girl in recovery and poof! – A Christmas joke is made.

Minneapolis temperatures have been hovering around 0 the past few days, and so I wanted to give holiday treats to people that could use a little cheer amidst the cold.  Waiting for your ride with a candy cane is better than waiting for your ride without one, right?  Hopefully the rah rah rah experiment worked to make a couple people smile:ImageImageImageImage
Bus stop decorated, I spent the rest of the day decorating the apartment and getting ready for Christmas (the countdown is officially 1 week). The stalkings went up, the decorations came out, and Kinzie got a new scarf.  I know, I know, a scarf for my dog? I just couldn’t resist.
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Also, how cute is this DIY? Not my own, but just might get some wood while we’re at the cabin and make something incredibly similar. Should be simple, right?
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Are you ready for Christmas?