fallababa disaster

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The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing acts of kindness. – Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

A lovely thought from a fantastic novel.  We don’t need fancy dinners or diamond rings to show someone that we love them.  One the contrary, we need less tangible things like consistency, loyalty, and, hopefully, laughter.  What matters is that your friends&sweethearts understand you, appreciate your quirks, and remain by your side (come what may).

In an effort to remain habitual/consistent with my rah rah rah experiments, I decorated the Minneapolis bike trail with a ‘happy fall’ banner.  The simple banner was made by painting burlap and then stringing the letters together on a ribbon. Happy fall, y’all:
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When the experiment ended, I met up with Lauren for thrift store shopping.  We didn’t find any clothes, so we bought non-prescription glasses for fancy dinners, baby showers, and hot dates.
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I got home feeling pretty optimistic about the day, but wishing my sign had ended with “y’all.”  I made a pretty graphic to make up for it:
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Fallababa:
what you say when you fall out of bed
opps!! i just fallababa!

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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tisket, tasket, lunch for lovebirds in my basket

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I’m the girl walking through town with a book in her arm and a camera around her neck. When I’m reading a book (the hours we spend in bed together is almost akin to dating), I translate the words into pictures, patterns, and designs, and the activity inspires some of my most creative thinking.  I’ll be contemplating the words as the author intended them, but against my own background, experiences, and hyperbolic mind, I often envision a story all my own.

I’ve read a great number of books in which a young person is mentored by an older guide.  These mentors are always filled with wisdom, and just eager to find a student that they can fill with their knowledge of history, people, and ‘the way things were.’  That said, I’ve always thought that it would be great to have one of these encounters on my own – maybe I would help a woman cross the street and then she would tell me all about how she fought for women’s rights.  Or maybe I would sit next to an older man on a bus, and he would tell me stories about Vietnam.  I’ve got a quarter century behind me, 26 good years, but I’m yet to have one of these mysterious encounters that are so prevalent in novels.

And so, I planned a rah rah rah experiment that would make a stranger happy by planning a picnic for them.  And yes, I was secretly thinking that I would end up hearing tales of yonder all night.

To set the scene: I packed a basket with three turkey bacon wraps, a few bags of popcorn, and some pepsi-cola.  I took that basket to the park, and then I proceeded to scan the area for strangers that might want to have lunch with me.  The first woman I approached appeared to be about 70, and she was reading a novel under a shady tree.  Perhaps she was reading a novel about an elderly woman who mentors a young girl, and wishing someone would approach her with a picnic lunch.  Something told me we might be the perfect match for one another.
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I approached the woman and told her about my project, and then invited her to have lunch with me.  she smile gracefully, and then explained that her food allergies made eating with a stranger impossible.  Well fine, fair enough.  I had expected that preparing a meal for a stranger would have some trials (Jon is allergic to seafood, peanuts, zucchini, and squash, and he refuses to eat fruit or vegetables.  You could say I know a thing or two about being picky eaters).
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But I wouldn’t be defeated.  I approached a young couple holding hands on a bench, and explained my project.  Free food? They asked.  I smiled, showed them the contents of the bag, and then plopped down between them.  Suddenly date crashing seemed much more fun than learning about women’s rights and Vietnam.  And so, I spent the next hour hearing about how they had met at the park 2 months ago, and spent every day together since.  He was at college in Duleuth, and she was a senior in high school two hours south.  They were planning to make it work.

It was incredibly happy to share a meal with them and listen to the story of their summer romance.  And as for them, they seemed pretty amped-up about the free food.  Happiness all around.
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The amazing photographer Joy Lengyel made this picnic look like a photoshoot for Martha Stewart, right?  Check out her work, and maybe send her a sweet note (why not?)

Oh, and good news: Jessica Gerke won the scarf give-away from AllThingsAccessories.  Jessica, take a look at the shop, choose a scarf (teal and red retro bird, pink chevron, yellow and grey flower, or blue bird) and send me your address.  Congratulations!

bee you tea full

i was raised to think about beauty in a different way. my mom never wore makeup, never went shopping, and always insisted that beauty is something that radiates out of you — something that you create by being kind, helpful, and friendly.  when i think about beauty, what impresses me is how it connects us to one another.  if beauty is inside of us, then it takes a relationship with other people to make it visible.  

i decided to visualize ‘community beauty’ by creating a series of portraits that demonstrate how we’re beautiful together.  so, minneapolis, here are your bee-you-tea-full pictures:
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and so, dear readers, whatever your age, size, or appearance, remember that you are:
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my friend robyn made all the scarves that i’m wearing for her new etsy shop, AllThingsAccessories. she is giving away a beautiful scarf to one of my readers.  to enter, simply send me a message (use the “say hello” tab), and tell me something that makes you happy.  we’ll announce the winner on friday 🙂  

naked cake party in the streets

A gathering without cake is just a meeting.  Cake transforms events into parties, and the sweet treat has been the honorary centerpiece of birthdays and weddings for centuries.  Last night I threw a party in the streets, and i brought … Continue reading

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.  

 

getting intimate with 387,753 strangers

i got into a debate this weekend about the pros and cons of city vs. suburban vs. rural living.  the city gets my vote time and again because it’s the only living environment that allows you to interact with new people every day, thereby creating the opportunity for endless interactions and exchanges.  my friend countered, saying that the hundreds of thousands of people in the city rarely talk to strangers or neighbors, and so you might as well live in a cabin in the woods.  the topic then switched to where we would want our 5 hypothetical vacation homes, and the conversation was seemingly forgotten.

this morning I confirmed minneapolis is the 47th largest city in the nation with 387,753, residents.  47 is a respectable number if for no other reason that it makes the top 50.  still, I’m convinced that if people make an effort toward intimacy, then a large city can feel welcoming and communal.

if welcome mats could speak, they would say something like ‘hello friend! welcome to this house. please come inside and get cozy.” right?  or no? maybe i’m making odd assumptions about inanimate objects.  either way, the welcome mat seems to hint at the importance of community.

today i made 6 welcome mats out of vinyl, stencils and paint, and then i placed them around the city: 3 for residents in my apartment, and 3 for strangers living in houses nearby.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage
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20 years of mini-golf with gnomes

i suppose most people get excited about friday night dates or saturday afternoon plans, but i’ve always liked lazy sunday mornings the best.  jon and i sleep-in late sundays, and then we usually head to brunch.  today we were out of bed by 11am, and noshing on crimini/brie omelettes at the kenwood by 11:30am.
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after brunch, we intended to visit the walker art museum for artist-inspired mini golf, but we got a bit lost – the drive from the kenwood to the walker is only 10 minutes, but we managed to make it over an hour when we started gawking at the houses lining the streets.  we started a hypothetical game of “would you ever live there?” which quickly became “well, when would you want to buy?” and then “would you want a larger house in this neighborhood, or a smaller house in that one?” our sunday joy ride quickly turned into a talk about the next twenty years or so.  turns out I might not be an apartment wife very long after all…

tee times for mini golf were over an hour at the museum, so we entertained ourselves in the sculpture garden.  to be more accurate, we acted like little kids and i climbed on things:

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we didn’t get to climb it, but we found the largest fish i’ve ever seen:Image
the famous cherry spoon:ImageImage
tree stumps that double as banjos:
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and a giant bell:
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and yes, we eventually played mini golf with gnomes:Image
we ended up continuing our house conversation on the ride home, but this time the conversation evolved into “how many bedrooms do you think we need?”  which, naturally, led to a conversation about when we’ll start having kids. we’ve had the conversation before, but today we put dates and timelines to the hypothetical discussion, and it made it all so much more real – and exciting.

when we got home, i reflected on how busy we’ve been with changing jobs, the wedding, moving, and now planning for the house and kids, and it made me miss my parents. it’s easy to be so focused on growing up, that we forget that our parents are growing old.  it was a nice reminder that as i enter a new life stage, my parents are doing the same, and i should make an effort to show them how much they mean to me as i, too, grow older.

party in the streets for my favorite dead author

i spent six months teaching english at a school for impoverished children at the municipal dump in puerto vallarta, mexico.  you probably just read that sentence twice for all the abnormalities– as in, this girl taught english at a dump?  and the dump had a school?  the short answer is yes, yes i did.  i volunteered to teach english (as in zero pay) six hours a day to 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grade students living off the waste found in the area.  many of the families living at the dump built homes on the side of the pit, and they sold recycled waste to tourists in trendy downtown puerto vallarta. a group of canadians opened a nonprofit english school near the dump so that the children would have a healthy breakfast and learn enough english to work in the tourist zone.

i made a game of finding english books by scouring hostels, coffee shops, and, when necessary, simply asking tourists if they had recently finished anything.  i got lucky when I found Walden Pond in a hostel while visiting the fishing/surfing village of sayulita. i knew a little about the author, Thoreau, from my philosophy minor, but i had never read about the transcendentalist’s solo sojourn into the woods. the first chapter convinced me that we were kindred spirits, and I finished the nearly 500 page novel by the end of the weekend (as in, no surfing or swimming for me – i never left the hammock).

three years have passed since I volunteered in mexico, but I still try to live by the simple wisdom imparted throughout Walden Pond.  this year, i decided to celebrate thoreau’s 197th birthday with the people of minneapolis.  now, you’re probably wondering who celebrates a dead author’s birthday? quite simply, i do.  i baked cookies to look like Walden Pond, and i made cards out of my favorite Thoreau quotes.  with treats in hand, i took to the streets to get the party started:ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

shots shots shots (with kids)

per usual, we began our saturday with a bike ride through the lakes.  jon was feeling sore from softball, and so a bit of complaining was going on (he usually starts singing when he’s upset, so as he was struggling to make it up the hills, he was singing ‘oh what a beauttttiful morning…’ in his most sarcastic voice. just when i thought we would have to turn around to appease him, we saw a lemonade stand.  lemonade, so you know, is jon’s favorite drink besides redbull and coffee.

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jon asked the boys for 6 cups of lemonades, and the kids looked like they had hit the jackpot — 6?!  “yes.. line them up.. 4 for me, 2 for her.”  the two boys counted the cups carefully, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and then stared at jon in disbelief as they poured one after the other.  the lineup made me rap out “shots shots shots, everybody!” in my head, and then jon drank the cups (including mine) in a similar shotgun style.

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since he was feeling better after the lemonade, he decided that we didn’t have to go home right away — we could compromise — and bike to places around the city where you could sit down.  sounds silly, no? i kept thinking that it would be funny if his mom called and asked what we were doing “biking” he would say, and she would ask “where to?” and then his response “anywhere that has a place to sit.”

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we did find some interesting chairs though, no? one was made of stone and the other was made of yarn.  like most of our bike rides, we ended up at the lake — another happy saturday.

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