what gratitude can hold…

November 21, 2012

It’s starting….the gratitude lists, the thankfulness trees, the season of giving. The time when we take stock of all that we have. When we weigh and score it, and go back to recognizing that our most basic needs are met.

We remind ourselves that we have food (even if it’s ramen noodles), and shelter (even if we always pay the rent late) and are healthy (or mostly healthy, except for that annoying eczema) and it’s true, it’s all so very true and good and important…

…but why is it that this time of year also reminds you of everything you don’t have and shows the craters in your heart that need filling more than you want to know.  Your awkward conversations with your family drive you to liquor up for the 48 hours ahead… or that you shopped at the thrift store of food, the grocery salvage….or that it feels like everyone is in love around you and ridiculously happy…or you want to have your old family together and wish you didn’t have to travel between parents and be with your annoying stepmom…or you just wish that you had a baby to pass around or sit on your hip as you make the green bean supreme and 100 other side dishes.

It feels as though Gratitude asks us to stuff that shit or put it down completely, be GRATEFUL, damn it…and you do, you are, because we want to grateful. …but I wonder if Gratitude never asked us to choose in the first place.

I wonder if she can hold both, because she is that deep, she is that strong, because she knows all of our heart….

I wonder if she is strong enough to hold:

your sadness that your mom isn’t here to cook with you

your clarity of all that matters to you even if it’s sort of messed up

your confusion over why your family is so hard to be with or not together at all

that one prayer your dad still makes everyone pray that means so much to him

your anger for that really old thing that is still wounding you

your souffle triumph

your longing for something more, something whole, a love you haven’t experienced yet

your crazy aunt with all the cats

your frustration that the effin’ turkey is dry every year and no one wants to dress up to come to the table

your deep wish to be in another place in your heart all together

your small moment of happiness when everyone is full and happy after the meal

your kids that can’t sit still and want to bring the DS to the dinner table

your exhaustion from trying to make things special, and will maybe never been seen or acknowledged

your hope that maybe some day, you will be okay on a holiday

your grief, your messy love, your trying

~

I wonder if we let her hold it, it will make space for all the good things we do not see or think we are supposed to see and feel…and maybe just maybe, they can rise and sit together. Side by side, our everything hard and good…and  maybe that will be okay.

…because sometimes, just okay is okay.

maybe then, we can breathe…and let her hold us too.

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from our friends at James River High School, Richmond, Va.

I’ve been meeting with some kids from the Leadership Center at James River High. I was introduced to them by their Ethics teacher Mr. Couillard, affectionately called Mr. C.

I thought I was going to share my story, inspire a bit, blah, blah, blah….but the universe pulled this HUGE switcheroo on me.

I was stunned by these kids, their heart, their intentions, their focus on kindness and change…So when I got their list of plans for a You Are Loveable campaign at their school, I think my heart just melted. The Junior class took this original idea and ran so far with it with so much soul and creativity, I was blown away.

A bunch of guys giving girls lame pick up lines to make them smile

Somebody to LOVE by Queen playing on the intercom

A post-it kindness blast in the school parking lot

Sidewalks chalked with messages of love

I have looked at the list all week, with this silly grin on my face, imagining the kindness descending on that school in a big, big way.

But then today… Mr C. sent me the picture above of the bulletin boards filled with messages- Give What You Can, Take What You Need…and I started to cry a little…realizing this is the heart of kindness, I have something to give and I need to take something too.

I thought of all the sweet things planned for today- the You Are Loveable messages all over, the Cotton Candy Kindness later this afternoon…those are my Give What You Can sort of things…and then there are the Take What You Need things swirling…I don’t think I’ve taken it and I need it today.

Today I need:

Peace while I wait to find out if a big opportunity is going to happen to carry this message so much further (it feels sort of bleak at the moment, your good thoughts would be appreciated)

Community to gather and stand in some more complicated kindness- like the kind where you have to navigate different needs and still stand in what you believe in- in this case, it’s a skate park and finding the sweet middle place of compromise where everyone is valued and heard

Protection for a tender heart and clarity to see this work and this life for all its beauty- the comparison gremlin is knocking at the door of my soul hard right now.

SO on this day of love, please Give What You Can and Take What You Need in the comments…it can be our virtual bulletin board today inspired by Mr. C and the kids.

And just imagine all those high school kids kindness bombing their school, and people finding a message reminding them we are all loveable, and some grown kid eating pink fluffy candy goodness in the park…and know that kindness changes everything.

 

 

written in 2010, but we are bringin’ this one back this year because we could all use a little love right about now…

It all started at breakfast. I told her something terrible I said over slices of cheesecake and diet coke at 10am. The dear friend laughed and said. “You’re so loveable!”
“What?!” while grabbing yet another slice.
“You are!” she held firm and told me stories of people being loveable even at their worst, not to mention half of America is wondering if they are loveable on Valentine’s Day.

and it stayed with me….so here we are at Valentine’s Day and a Guerrilla Goodness mission is born from the kind of wisdom that only comes from real love.

Let’s tell our city, in a million tiny ways that we are LOVEABLE!

Here’s the deal:

Grab a pad of post-its or other pretty paper.
Leave your message (it can be anything) of love for someone to find.
Then trust it is found at exactly the right moment by the perfect person.
Guerrilla Goodness bliss!

here are some good GG spots to leave your message:
bus stops
library books
bathroom stalls/mirrors
car windshields
atm’s
grocery carts
subway seats
dressing rooms
bars
toll booths
the gym
pant pockets
any tiny spot someone might stumble upon

If you decide to join our project in Richmond or some other city, let us know in the comments or upload a picture to the GG Flickr pool or post them on the Guerrilla Goodness Facebook Page.

All is love this Valentine’s Day and I hope you know…you are loveable.

the message tree…

December 10, 2011

“Do you think you can keep on going, I mean you made Thanksgiving dreams come true?” I asked him. We cooked the entire meal together, were up on butterball.com on various phones trying to figure out exactly what you do to the outside of the turkey, we high fived when everything was suprisingly and ridiculously perfect with the meal and family togetherness.

“Let’s go for it! Push the family magic odds…we are on a roll and everything…”

You know, there is always this sort of holiday valley after those peak Everest magical moments…or rather a holly jolly nose dive into everything real. This was the Christmas tree excursion:

1.  One of us, who shall remain nameless, was not exactly excited about the whole chopping-down-your-own-tree thing in the first place….but he/she went along with it.

2.The battery was dead when we got into the car to leave. Yet we weren’t thwarted, onward!

3. It was almost 3pm, the farm was an hour away, children still hadn’t even had lunch…yes, bad idea and parenting all around. So we stopped to grab food and crossed our fingers we could still make it before it got dark.

4. Kids were delirious upon arrival, the trees were sweet- although Charlie Brown-ish in nature, but still, this was just fine with us.

5. Jack and Josiah played tag until Jack’s shoe flew off and he stepped on a sharp twig or old tree stump- crying ensued.

6. Lucy begged/pleaded/whined for a tree nobody wanted.

7. We finally found one everyone liked except Josiah. Josiah also reminded us how often he has to suck it up- which is totally true so we decided he should get to pick the tree.

8. He picked a lovely, lovely tree…except when Jorge (the nameless) went to chop it down, he found a giant pile of dog poop.

9. Everybody laughed…because poop is funny.

10. We missed the memo that a kind tree farm friend would help carry the tree back, so Jorge carried it (along with 3 helpers that made it much harder) all the way back.

11. Got the tree measured and went to pay- tried not to faint when she told me the price- didn’t realize the fir trees were twice the cost of the rest of the trees. I smiled and gulped and told myself it was small business Saturday. Jorge whispered, “Merry Christmas!!” in my ear.

12. Kids got cider but there wasn’t enough and it burned Jack’s tongue. Everyone was now hungry for dinner even though we had just had lunch and on we went. Jorge said he would buy dinner to cheer me up.

13. I sighed/groaned like Marge Simpson and somehow soaked in the beauty of the pink sky on the way home…and managed to capture it from the moving family grouch mobile.

When we got home, I climbed in bed, ignored children, watched Hulu and slept. When I woke up very early, I found the tree in the corner with lots of tiny papers all rolled up and stuck in the netting. I opened each one and found little bits of art.

It was Lucy art- little post-its of sweet Christmas scenes, apparently her Christmas and tree experience was very much intact, still magical mountain stuff or maybe she had just moved on to the next moment. So I drew some pictures and messages and stuck them in the make shift tree mail box. We passed them back and forth for the next few days.

Part of me wished we could just leave it all that way and never open the tree up…but we did…and it was magical and messy and magical.

“You mean NO one is coming over?” he asked.

“Yep!” I replied.

“And we aren’t going anywhere?” he said, clarifying the entire plan.

“Nope!” I answered.

“It’s going to be just us! Niiccceeee.” my dear introverted child said. Some times I wonder how that poor child survives in this family.

I have to admit part of me was sad, I missed cooking with my mom and sisters, being with friends, but there was this kind of deep relief also. This was the Thanksgiving when:

When your mate helps you make the turkey (and the entire meal) and for the first time in Thanksgiving history the bird was juicy, done on time with zero stress. He made Thanksgiving dreams come true with the togetherness.

When your child decides 2 minutes before dinner that he must come to dinner as a pilgrim and is rifling through boxes in the basement to turn halloween capes and a pirate hat into a suitable and proper costume.

When you have to tell little girls that they can not slurp the very exciting treat of blue Gatorade served in vintage green goblets with spoons and straws at the dinner table.

When you got ding dong ditched the most amazing pumpkin spice cake which sort of saved the day because the pumpkin pie you bought molded and you were already bummed you had to buy one in the first place. This cake dominated 73% of conversation the rest of the weekend just trying to figure out what was in it.

When laziness rules.

When you all go to see the Muppet Movie and cry over endearing Muppets and your childhood.

When you realize the amazing and very beautiful family love and connection you hold was born and has grown from an old and deep pain, and you feel kind of grateful and sad for this all at the same time. …and how you can always count on the holidays to bring such epiphanies.

When you know how deeply you are blessed and loved.

 

Oh, please share your holiday with us…what were your highs and lows? even better, give a link or a picture. This extrovert would love to know in the comments…

a turkey love bomb

I looked at the archives… “Do you know I’ve been ‘tired and overwhelmed’ in the November posts for like 6 YEARS?!!”  I told him. “I’m sorry, THAT must have been exhausting for you.”

But can we help it really? The season is beginning, it is equal parts overwhelming and wonderful. I have dear memories of cooking many a Thanksgiving turkey with my sisters and mom (we always named the bird) and at the same time being so very fried, me, not the turkey. We have so many expectations around the holidays and lots of family goodness and dysfunction, and a helluva lot of work. We want it to be special and meaningful (dare I say, magical?) and I can’t even imagine how the retail folk feel at the end…I wondered if there was a mission in the middle of all that somewhere…for everyone.

So Lyra and I went into our local grocery store and post-it/kindness bombed it…with all the things I could imagine that mothers, friends, stock boys/girls, the last minute Melvins may need to hear…or know. We thought you may like to join us.

It’s pretty simple, here goes:

1. Grab a pad of post-its.

2. Write encouraging messages to harried mothers, tired checkout girls and strung out foodies…any kind message will do.

I am grateful for all you do.

You can skip something, the holiday will still be sweet.

Your mashed potatoes are the best I’ve ever had, thanks for making them every year.

All the little things you do matter.

It’s only one meal with your crazy family, you can do it.

Your turkey will be FANTASTIC! ( and not dry at all)

3. Take the pad to your local grocery store and stealthily leave them all over the store- extra points for iphone pics. Or just tell us what city and store has been kindness bombed and we’ll mark it off the list.

4. You have from now until Thanksgiving day and send pics to patience@kindnessgirl.com or post them on our Guerrilla Goodness Facebook page.

I can’t wait to see your holiday kindness in the midst of love and craziness and a mean green bean supreme!

Please share this link on Facebook and let’s see how many stores we can hit!

“It’s like WE are the Easter Bunny!” Lucy (age 5)

It’s so true, it’s so lovely to get to be a magical mythical figure, even just for a tiny bit. A day before leaving for an Easter weekend camping trip (which, btw, was so comical for us city folk), we got together with our partners in kindness crime on our block to do some sweet guerrilla goodness for the kids at our local park.

We wrote our messages and stuffed them along with treats into good ole’ plastic easter eggs and hid them at our neighborhood park early one morning before Easter. Some friends wrote their own and I’m not sure actually had full complete words, but the intent of kindness was just the same so we put them in.

I have to tell you, I was in the grouchiest mood on the filling day, it is always a wonder how kindness can melt you, no matter which side you find yourself on. Just looking at these pics of dear children finding their kindness way pretty much carries me as long as my heart needs.

And then there was one, who just thought the entire thing made no sense at all and held tight to her egg, which was just fine with me…sometimes the whole orchestration is just meant for us to receive.

Thanks J and crew for all the sweet energy you always bring to every kindness project we do together!

Oh how was your Easter? Hoping kindness found you too…