the art of wisdom…

November 30, 2012

suzanne1

the studio and table will be open tomorrow… and there is a place for you.

My dear friend and soulsister Suzanne Vinson will have her annual Holiday Open House tomorrow as part of the LGRA Ginter Park Art Show tomorrow (12/1).

Kindness Changes Everything Stickers (and prints) will be there as well as Be Brave and Kind prints too…along with so many other soulful, wise and pretty things.

I am kinda silly excited about these:

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I hope to stop by after 2pm some time, maybe we’ll see each other there. Here is all the info if you would like to meet Suzanne and take in the art of wisdom:

HOLIDAY OPEN STUDIO & LGRA Ginter Park Art Show

Saturday, December 1st

10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

3421 Hawthorne Avenue

Richmond, VA 23222

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all photos by Suzanne Vinson

 

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words on repeat…

October 26, 2012

The words on repeat in my head until I believe them…you see, I told you all I am going to write a book. The funny part is right after I let the words hit the air, everything sort of fell apart. It’s kind of hard to take on one of the biggest dreams of your life when you are exhausted, when you have painted yourself in a corner in every direction, when you still suck at saying “no” to projects and commit way over your head*…when your head is telling you all kinds of untruths about yourself, when parts of you really need some healing.

…but apparently, I am told by my writing doula Chris, that this is often how it goes…it’s the perseverance mountain climb of your entire existence and you just have to keep showing up. So I tried in the beginning but I was just still too into all the projects I said I would do…so I did them and cried a lot, and my husband (and the mother superiors in my life) helped me sort through the untruths and a really low time wondering what the hell I was doing, then a few small miracles happened… and now here I am.

Things are still sort of rocky, and I am still very soul tired…but the beautiful thing is that kindness can find you wherever you are…even the places that feel so unreachable in your heart.

A while back, my friend Kaycee offered her home to me so I could write…I jumped at her offer and completely forgot about it.  Before I knew it, I was driving here…alone for 3 days- that is the longest I have ever been by myself in my entire life. 

So much kindness and beauty was waiting for me here…so now I show up…for myself for a bit…in the quiet…hoping the words will come.

p.s. i have missed you all…thank you for being my friends. 

*i really wanted to do all those projects…i just said yes to too many at one time. 

Have you ever been on a road trip with a small child? or children?!! There is a whole science to packing, timing leaving, napping, snacks…and yet even at your best, there will be a moment when you will have to stop because no one can take even one more minute in the car. together.

And this is the moment you need a little travel grace. and joy. and busy little hands and minds.

As we are about to take an an 18 hour car trip ourselves, I was remembering the year my mom made these awesome travel kits for a road trip to Pennsylvania for a family reunion. Every few hours we got to pull a new activity out and I will never forget the Snoopy doll with the changeable outfits- it’s burned in my kid that-was-amazing memory. While we don’t have any 80’s Snoopy figures to hand out we thought there might be a trail of kindness we can leave for harried mothers and bored children that might become part of their trip memories.

Kate over at Mini-eco made these fantastic paper beads that I have loved using for kindness projects over the years. They are super easy to make and so visually gratifying. Head on over there for instructions- they really only require some colored paper, glitter glue and a stick. My kids love making them with me.

We grabbed some clear cello bags, brown paper, string , ribbon and threw in a Kindness Changes Everything sticker (so friends could find us or pass the kindness on) and made these little project packs for kids.

I tied a little square at the end of each beading string to avoid the kid drama of making the entire necklace and then letting go of one side and having the beads go all over the car seat- never to be found again among old french fries and dried up carrot sticks.

I also included 2 strings in some of the packets just in case there was a sibling, because how much would it suck if you found this little gift and then had 2 kids fighting over it?! Kindness trip FAIL!

I wrote a different note or message on each but most said something like this:

This Is For YOU! 

Dear mother traveling a long distance with small children,

may this busy little hands and bring some joy as you travel.

Now it’s your turn to pass on another act of kindness! 

Some started with:

Are your kids going nuts yet? Are YOU? Need something to do right about now? 

If you aren’t sure what to write, here is a download for some labels to attach to your kindness project! They fit on a 3.75 x 6 inch cello bag.

Here is the tag! They fit 3 to a sheet to print:

Other ideas for tiny project kits:

stickers and small squares of paper

tattoos

small games and activity print outs

colored pencils and small homemade books

Leave these little kits at rest stops, changing stations, benches, airports, trains, gas stations….any where a family might discover them. Let your kids do the hiding! Have fun!

May you have smooth, easy, happy car rides, even in the 15th hour and lots of kindness on your travels!

I am starting to wonder if it isn’t the most simple ways of connection that hold the greatest hope for change and good.

One man knowing deep in his soul and body that growing something green can bring us together and care for our most basic need that every human deserves

One woman believing sharing salad can heal us and bring life

One family calling in the rhythm of an ancient goodness with drums

…and for one sweaty Richmond night, none of it feels so complicated…it’s just a gathering of people in a community garden, eating salad, while kids give wagon rides and take turns watering the plants…and someone gets an impromptu photography lesson and another financial advice…while others that had no plans at all find their way out of their houses to listen to the drums.

…and the space is held unknowingly and yet with so much intention.

*

…because growth, food and community are the most simple ways to love.

If you live in RVA, you can join us for the garden and salad magic at RVA Salad Fest #2 this Sunday at 7pm at the McDonough Community Garden in Woodland Heights!  Thanks to Duron and Maat for including me!

*these 2 sweet souls had never met but I caught this sweet hug at the end of the night.

i am kind.

June 21, 2012

“You are kind like my teacher Karen. I am sorry those kids were mean” -Lucy, age 6

So you may have heard or seen the story of Karen Klein that raced through the internet yesterday. Karen is a grandmother and bus monitor in Greece, New York. A 10 minute video was released on 6/20 of her being verbally abused by some kids on the bus. Honestly, I could only watch about 3 minutes of it. It was really, really bad. You can read the story here: http://huff.to/PvAgVU (warning: the verbal abuse is graphic- lots of expletives)

The moment you first see something so mean, you say a little prayer in your heart for the person being abused and pray, pray, and wish this is an isolated incident…but somewhere in your soul, you know it probably isn’t. I start to wonder if I live in a kindness bubble, and I know I do….BUT then something else rises in me- this work, this belief we hold so close around here- that Kindness Changes Everything.

There is this drive to hold on to it closer than ever, to return it in an overwhelming expression, to find it in the places you would least expect it, to ask people to stand up tall in it. We have to make the connections for people that have suffered terribly as a result of extreme unkindness. We have to be and offer what we want to see in the world. We have to believe it is not only possible, but real and thriving….and bigger than anything else.

So here is what we came up with:

1. We created a I AM KIND Facebook page for kids, adults, all human beings to take a pledge of Kindness in honor of Karen and all those that have endured a similar experience. We are doing that by offering photos of us holding signs saying “I AM KIND.”  Pictures in front of school buses would be especially awesome!

You can upload all your pics to the Facebook page here. OR e-mail them to patience@kindnessgirl.com .

2. We are leaving notes and pictures with the words “You are LOVED” for Karen on the Facebook page too!

3. We still believe there is some kindness magic in Greece, NY and would love to send them some wands! Does anyone have a contact there or would be willing to hide some there for us? Let us know in the comments or e-mail me!

Thank you all for holding the space for kindness today…and for returning it in critical times when the world and people really need to know it exists! Love to you all!

If you can help spread the word of this project via Facebook or Twitter, that would be great!

Other good news: Funds raised to send Karen on a vacation! over $119K in less than 24hours

another place to share your love for Karen!  Kindness For Karen Facebook Page

i want you to know…

May 29, 2012

I want you to know…

you can crash and burn at trying to be brave and kind…and it’s okay.

it’s a different kind of bravery to decide to care for yourself or lick your wounds

being who we really are brings us much closer together than trying to be something we think we should be

your words and comments stay with me, I think it’s so rad when you guys talk to each other

I am more intense and less gentle than I thought

I am learning so much about myself right now, this is both marvelous and maddening

I am still not done writing notes of encouragement– this pains me everyday, I know people are waiting

I want to learn how to listen as an act of kindness

I am finding my way

This is coming soon, very soon from the soulsisters…and I can’t stop staring at it and holding it in my hands

we can be brave and kind together,

because kindness changes everything.

(and I hardly look like this picture, it’s a really good picture.) 

I knew it was gonna be bad. Lucy’s beloved kindergarten teacher (the one that totally gets her), Mrs. Hines blew a disc in her back. This poor magical teacher soldiered on for weeks trying shots and meds but in the end she needed surgery. She was going to be out for 4 weeks.

Lucy did surprisingly well the first 3 weeks, the substitutes were rough but she stretched herself. She cried a little here and there but we looked at pics of Mrs. Hines, told stories of her goodness, counted the days until she would be back and Lucy pressed on.

The fourth week came, we were mad excited and then the bomb got dropped. Mrs. Hines would not be back for 3 more weeks and the substitute was awful. Luce started to fall apart. Mornings and nights of crying, stomach aches, my girl was down right almost depressed.

“I’ve just been waiting so long mom!” she said.

“I know baby, I know.” I replied, not really knowing what else to do. *sigh*

About a week later, she came to me one afternoon about to cry…and to be honest, I just didn’t have it in me to do it again. I sent her to Jorge thinking he could put in a few Mrs. Hines coping hours. Apparently we were all done with the situation because a few minutes later she came back.

She sat down hard in the chair, tears rolling down her face.

“Mom!” it was the tone of pain, and I instantly looked up.

“Mom, I am not getting the support I need!”  I sat shell shocked by her honesty and ability to call it in.

Her shoulders slumped.

“Mom, I need a lot of love to get me through this. ” She said while heaving.

She is six. And I was in total attention and awe…that she could say what every person on the planet feels and so desperately needs in the middle of something that feels so big. Why don’t we all do this? Just lay it out.

I had done every ritual I could think of…except the kitchen altar candle.

“Oh Luce, the only thing I can think of is when I am really sad and just can’t hold anything more I go to the kitchen altar candle. You know that one next to the sink where I do dishes? I just write down everything I need and what my heart is feeling and I light the candle and let the candle hold it for me. Do you want to try it?” I said.

She nodded her head and promptly filled up 5 slips of paper with her needs.

And when it was time to light the candle I remembered I had something special in the car. My dear friend Suzanne had just sent me one of her sweet sacred strikes. A tiny match book covered in her art with this message:

use these strike on box matches to light a candle in remembrance, as a prayer, a wish, or a blessing, as you strike the match, breathe deeply, breathing in love and breathing out love. breathe peace. breath hope. breathe light and love.

…and I looked at her little face as she breathed deep, following each instruction, taking all of it into her heart. I let her light the match and candle and we sat quietly for a moment. Together.

she asked me to take a picture of her face so she could remember

The next day she carried the tiny piece of art that came with the matches in her pocket to remember someone and something is holding it for her…and that the love you need to get you through is possible.

Maybe we just have to ask (but why is that so hard sometimes?)…or call it in the place of vulnerability and courage…and light a candle.

The candle is in the comments today my friends…feel free to write on your slips of paper, there is all the love you need…