It’s only Tuesday but I want it to be the weekend. So I am remembering the hike I took and just how good it is to get outside and move, to have something to look forward to.
A fun way to keep people connected and get people outside:
Easter egg hunts are pretty much confined to people’s backyards this year—but Cadbury has created a lockdown solution for those who want to go further afield.
The Mondelez-owned chocolate brand, with the help of agency VCCP, has created a virtual Easter egg hunt using Google Maps.
Consumers can “hide” an egg anywhere on a map and then send a clue to loved ones to help them find it via email, link or WhatsApp. It is also offering people the chance to buy and send a real egg as a reward, when the virtual one is found.
The “Cadbury Worldwide Hide” experience aims to “connect people across the U.K. through the power of generosity,” the brand said.
To be perfectly honest, I usually think of the first two months of any new year as "ramp-up" time. I have learned that the dark, wet days of January and early February where I live are just no good for starting something new. Plus I’m usually still trying to clean up and decompress after the holidays. And that was true even in a pandemic year. Less family gatherings, but the logistics were still stressful. PLUS, we moved house! Also during a pandemic!
BUT, as the days get longer and warmer, and the ground is less likely to be a giant mud puddle, and frankly I’m less likely to accidentally step into a puddle of water on my floor tromped in from various household members and pets, I start thinking about what I can do to renew myself and come out of my winter hermitage. Plus lately I’ve just been thinking about how I can take better care of myself and do more things that make ME happy. And I’m using "take care of myself" broadly. I don’t mean eat healthier, although I should probably do that too. I just mean be things for me rather than anyone else. Not work, not my kids, not my husband, or even renters. Just me.
I started working on a list of things that would make me SOOOO happy. And they’re very…. eclectic. In fact many might find them odd. But that’s another thing I’m trying to do is own my unique interests and embrace what makes ME happy.
And yes, I realize that happiness is fleeting, that is the journey not the destination that truly makes us happy. But as much as I hate the term "fill my bucket" it’s very apt in describing something that we all need to do to sustain ourselves and not become shells of former humans.
So, with that aside…
Bucket List of Happiness:
1. Create beasties again. I used to make cute fabric monsters, and had great ambitions to return to ceramics. I think I need to renew that ambition.
2. Be on an episode of Sesame Street, or interview a Muppet. A true joy of mine during the pandemic has been watching Vanity Fair interviews with Sesame Street characters, and outtakes of guest stars on Sesame Street. I want in! Why can’t I dream big?!
3. More photography. I LOVE taking photos. And looking at historical photos. Seriously, I briefly considered doing my Master’s thesis on historical visual culture a la photographs. Glad I didn’t, but that’s how much it fascinates me. Capturing a moment in time. A feeling. A story. In one frame. If you dare argue it’s not an art I will smite you down!!!
4. Crafting in general. I enjoy making things with my hands, and I really want to start a new hobby, it’s more that I have SO many projects I just want to finish. Which leads me to…
5. TIME! TO! MYSELF! I have come to accept I need A LOT of quiet/down time. On the introvert/extrovert scale, I land somewhere in the hermit zone, which is surprising to many folks. I used to get enough quiet time before kids because my husband and I had different work schedules, so I’d have at least a couple of quiet hours to myself after work before he got home. Post kids…. not so much. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been able to use the bathroom by myself, when it wasn’t also 3:00 am. I did sort of have my commute, at least? Except for the stress of traffic and anxiety of needing to get home by a certain time to get the kids out of daycare or pay extra. But then COVID-19 hit. And I had no time. NONE. To myself. NONE! Walks were a small escape, but in the city you’re never really alone. Even in the park I had to worry about my safety. And not theoretically, I was verbally assaulted at least twice by homeless people in the park or my neighborhood. Since we moved to Bellingham, I’ve been slowly able to go on walks in places that are truly quiet and alone. But honestly I just need to embrace my need to d e c o m p r e s s. By myself. Crafting or other artistic endeavours are a good way for me to give myself quiet time while still feeling like I’m being "productive." Or creative. Or both.
6. Eating bizarre food. I mean, not that bizarre. Sushi. Odd ramen dishes. Ethiopian food. That sort of thing. I enjoy new culinary experiences. And frankly the ambiance of the restaurant makes a difference too. My great aunt would take us to the BEST French and Italian bistros in her neighborhood in San Francisco, and trying new things like squid ink pasta is just the right amount of adventure for me. 🙂
7. Travel. When that’s a thing again. It doesn’t have to be too far, really. We took the kids out to Wenatchee and Leavenworth during Covid and it was. THE BEST!
8. Physical exertion, my own way. I am sort of picky about this. I want to either go on a long hike (I’m trying to pick up trail running again since it’s basically just a faster hike), or hit/kick something. I like kickboxing, like a lot! I’m sure I look like a doofus doing it, but I don’t care. And that is the true sign of something you love! (I think).
9. Affirmations. I’m a sucker for a gold star. I am learning that I can technically just give them to myself. If I gave myself a gold star sticker on the chore list, I’m not joking I’d probably feel better about washing dishes.
10. Gardening. This is something I already do, but it’s a delicate balance of not wanting to take on too much work vs. wanting to see things grow. I am pretty deliberately not planting a vegetable garden in the plot of dirt at our new place (I’ll bet you a nickel there are two tomato plants in there by May), but I did plant a tree in a spot that desperately needed some natural restoration (ssshhhh!)
That’s a good place to stop for now. I hope that by writing these out and sharing these with the world I can hold myself accountable to actually doing them.
How do you hold yourself accountable for your own happiness, self care, whatever you like to call it? Let me know in the comments below.
As we close out the crazy year that was 2020, I think this is a great attitude towards processing the chaos of our lives and moving forward:
After this challenging year, Marina Abramović, perhaps the world’s most famous performance artist, recommends everyone vent their frustrations to a favorite tree in a public park. She tells you to hug one tightly for no less than 15 minutes and pour out your woes to it. Your angst will be “absorbed in the bark,” and you will feel “rejuvenated.” This is tree-hugging on a whole other level.
Abramović believes there is a degree of energy flow between us and our arboreal friends. “Complaining to the tree is also a way of getting energy out of the tree—to you. And healing you.”
I have had many walks this year where I’ve had to just stop and ponder life, whether it was next to a beach, a tree, or a stop sign.
Where do you go to vent?
A lot of people in my life seem to need a friend to reach out to them this week.
To send a virtual hug, to give a pep talk, to say "yeah, that guy IS a jerk!"
To just be reminded they’re not alone.
I’ve never been good about reaching out, but this week I’m trying harder. Not just because it’s Mental Health Day on October 10 (which it is) but just because we all need to be reminded that there’s someone out there thinking of us, especially now.
Who can you send a text to today to let them know you’re thinking of them? Even just a book or TV show that made you think of them? Or use it as an excuse to share a funny GIF you saw. 🥰
Me! I do!
So I made one.
It was a fun project and I certainly could have done more, but it’s a good first start.
The kids helped picked out the spot.
They were worried it might be too high up, but I pointed out fairies can fly, so it’s probably fine.
And we’ll keep working on it, maybe put a deck up for the fairies to land on.
This was inspired both by my daughter’s love of building fairy houses right now, and by my discovery of the Tiny Doors of Atlanta.
I love miniatures in general, and would love to go check those out someday! And make some of my own.
This is an odd time for the world. For the first time in a century we are faced with a novel virus that we don’t yet know all that is involved with keeping it at bay and keeping ourselves safe. Many nations are asking or demanding their citizens maintain “social distance” and/or quarantine themselves in their homes.
A friend pointed out an important distinction – we should be calling this “physical distance” not social distance, as this is a time when we need social cohesion and support more than ever.
And what a glorious age that we live in that we can still do this?
My kids can still call grandma on video calls, even though she is 1000’s of miles away. I can write an email or send pictures to my friends in a nanosecond.
I live in King County, one of the epicenters of the outbreak in the US, and immediately after schools closed parents created a Facebook group dedicated to supporting each other, sharing online resources for videos, workbooks, and fun online activities for kids to do while they were out of school. I’ll post a few of my favorites below.
Music and science groups also started offering their materials live, including free concerts and events. Authors have started offering “virtual” book signings and draw-alongs for kids and adults alike.
There are numerous organizations offering free resources – classes, books, videos – and even free Live events that will encourage our Netflix-enabled on-demand culture to schedule some time to tune in and all watch the same experience at the same time. The magic of the early Television age will be renewed as we will all be able to experience a concert together in real time, granted on channels like Facebook Live and Instagram, Zoom, and other channels.
Italy is demonstrating this social cohesion better than any nation currently. They have had impromptu sing-alongs, flash mob concerts, and just plain rebellious screaming from the balconies of their apartments in Naples, Rome, Sicily, and Florence.
We do not need to feel alone or isolated.
We can create solidarity among our neighbors with symbols, music, and messages.
My kids and I are going to spend the afternoon creating art and then decorating our front yard with art, just to remind everyone we are here, we are alive and well, and we are a community.
There are NUMEROUS opportunities for online learning, these are primarily Resources for online book readings, live events, and other free media that help support social cohesion and reducing feelings of isolation (although if you need those resources, here are just a few):
- Metropolitan Opera nightly concerts
- Seattle Symphony Orchestra Live Concerts
- Database of Virtual Music Events, including Rock Concerts and other pop music
- Book “signing” and draw-along with Ben Clanton, author of Narwhal and Jelly
If you have others please share them and I will post them!
How can a street encourage people to explore, play, and hang out? How can art, plants, and furniture be combined to create a sense of place?
In São Paulo, Brazil, a design collaboration between Brazilian firm Zoom Urbanismo Arquitetura e Design and furniture designers at LAO Engenharia & Design shows how. All Colors Sidewalk draws people in with its funky, organic charm.
In ArchDaily, the firms tell us that most streets in this mega-city, with a population of 12 million, are “very narrow, with irregular or no maintenance, and present many obstacles that discourage the circulation of pedestrians through the city.”
Through their re-imagining of the street landscape, the firms sought to show what an accessible space rich with layers would look like.
Along the 4,500-square-foot street, what grabs attention first is the flexible, wood street bleachers, which offer seating at street level and then perches above. The firms arranged them to create different views for people sitting, and flexible options for groups hanging out. At certain points, the bleachers rise up and form an arbor; at others, they become aerial structures for plants.
It is important to think about the ways we can continue to support neighborhoods and communities to make them friendly and shareable.
Sometimes enriching moments are the quietest ones; the times we find ourselves alone, quiet, with nothing to do or think about other than what is immediately in front of you. A meditation on what is happening now.
I got to experience that tonight. I have been working from home this week and so my normal routines have been disturbed, meaning I have not been taking my normal short walks in the morning and afternoon. The first time I really got to go walk tonight was after the kids were asleep, just after 8pm. It seemed late but I needed to get out, so I strapped on my sneakers and jacket and headed out the door.
I walked briskly to stay warm, although the air was not as cold as I had expected. The street lights were enough that I did not need a flashlight, but still dark enough that I felt the blanket of dark surround me.
There is something much more meditative about going for a walk late at night rather than staying inside and exercising to a TV or on a treadmill. I breathed in the air deeply, smelling the wood fire smoke coming from a fireplace. I could feel the quiet of the night envelop me, I could hear only my own breath, and feel the solitude of the night.
It reminded me a little bit of staying out late in high school and community college. We lived near a beach town, and on summer nights we’d stay out on the beach until well after it officially closed, basking in the dark and fog and solitude and freedom.
I ended up not being the only one out this evening, but with a nod and a smile, all half dozen of us seemed to silently acknowledge that we were each aware of the comfortable quiet companionship of the night.
Sometimes the quietest activities are the most enriching. I need to try and find other opportunities for it.
What has worked for you? What are your quiet enrichment moments? A cup of coffee? Driving home in the car? Knitting? I’d love to get some more ideas. Leave it in the comments below.
Know a spot in your community that could use a little love?
The application period for the 2020 AARP Community Challenge is open!
The AARP Community Challenge provides small grants to fund “quick-action” projects that can help communities become more livable for people of all ages. Applications are being accepted for projects to improve housing, transportation, public space, technology (“smart cities”), civic engagement and more.
In an era when Americans, especially older Americans, are lonelier than ever in history, it’s great to see the AARP creating funding opportunities for organizations to create third spaces of all kinds.
AARP will prioritize projects that aim to achieve the following outcomes:
- Increasing civic engagement with innovative and tangible projects that bring residents and local leaders together to address challenges and facilitate a greater sense of community inclusion and diversity. (Although this category is targeted to local governments, nonprofit organizations can apply for and receive a grant in this category provided they demonstrate that they are working with local governments to solicit and include residents’ insights about the project or to help solve a pressing challenge.)
- Create vibrant public places that improve open spaces, parks and access to other amenities.
- Deliver a range of transportation and mobility options that increase connectivity, walkability, bikeability, wayfinding, access to transportation options and roadway improvements.
- Support the availability of a range of housing that increases accessible and affordable housing options.
- Demonstrate the tangible value of “Smart Cities” with programs that engage residents in accessing, understanding and using data, and participating in decision-making to increase the quality of life for all.
- Other community improvements: In addition to the five areas of focus, AARP wants to hear about local needs and new, innovative ideas for addressing them.
Read all about it at the AARP site.
Hat tip to The Dirt for sharing this out, including a feature about last year’s winner:
In Los Angeles’ Westlake/MacArthur Park neighborhood, Golden Age Park shows the power of placemaking. With support from AARP, a property that was vacant for 30 years was transformed by landscape architect Daví de la Cruz into a community garden with a children’s play area and outdoor fitness space for adults.