Try It

Sugarland

December 29, 2011

Some time ago a friend and I were having an in depth phone conversation exploring the mysteries of life (or maybe we were talking about shoes – I don’t remember), but I do remember that in the middle of the conversation she bursts out, “I really like to give people candy.” Taking a moment to get my bearings on where she was going with this, she then explained that when she comes in contact with someone, she randomly pulls a piece of candy out of her pocket and gives it to them. I half mockingly asked, “So, in the middle of a conversation with someone, you reach into your candy-stuffed pockets and offer them some sugar for no good reason?” She answered in kind, “Oh, I don’t have to be in conversation with them. I give candy to gas station attendants, store clerks, the mailman – anyone I come in contact with who looks like they could use a little sweetness.” “And why do you do this?” I inquired. “Well, they don’t expect it, for one thing. And they really like it. Their faces light up – and it makes me feel good too.” We laughed saying that it was only a matter of time before random acts of sweetness swept the nation.

And that, my sweet friends, is the topic for this week’s post: putting random acts of sweetness into play to take us into the New Year.

In the south we have a familiar phrase, “Give me some sugar!” In this part of the world, people know that this means, “Give me a kiss”. You might hear it from your mom, grandpa, auntie, or friend but it’s a given that “sugar” (pronounced “sugah”) equals a little love. A little love and a little sweetness is something we can all use. And whether we give it or receive it, we do really like it. And it feels good, like my friend mentioned, to watch someone’s face light up after a sweet exchange. When you consider all the “light up the face” moments of the holiday season, it’s exciting to think about ways to carry that into the New Year!

So, consider this your “sweeten the new year” challenge: Try for one full week to share some “sugah” – 7 days & 7 ways.

Your random acts of sweetness might be like my friend who randomly pulls candy from her pocket. But if you don’t want to take the literal route, there are many other ways to imagine spreading a little sweetness. Whether it’s sugar kisses or wrapped candy kisses (unwrapped chocolate in the pocket can be kinda messy) enjoy sharing a little love with those you come in contact with every day. For one full week, let the sweetness flow to those around you – lead someone from humbug to happy.

You can try these 7 ways to light up faces all around you, or come up with 7 of your own:

Day 1:  Happy New Year Sugah! Find a stranger and give them a piece of wrapped candy with a Happy New Year greeting. Watch as the sweet surprise changes their expression.

Day 2:  I see you. Give someone (friend, family member or stranger) a heartfelt compliment. Notice what they’re saying, doing, wearing, etc. in the moment and let them know that you “see” them.

Day 3:  Public praise. Go somewhere that involves a service person that you normally tip. Add a note with their tip and mention how great the service was. And then tell the manager or other patrons.

Day 4:  Plethora of post-its. In your home or work, take at least 5 post-it notes, write positive messages or smiley faces on them and place them in strategic places where people will discover the pleasant surprises through the course of their day.

Day 5:  Sweet snail mail. Send someone a hand-written note telling them something special that you remember about the first time you met them. While you won’t get to experience seeing their reaction, you know how good it feels to receive personal mail amidst the junk and bills.

Day 6:  Electronic enthusiasm. Offer to take someone’s (friend, co worker or stranger) photograph using your camera phone and send it to them via email. Look for a moment that you think they’d like “captured”.

Day 7:  Rinse and repeat. Repeat your favorite random act of sweetness – often!

Consider what this challenge could do for you. What kind of sweetness would it add to your day? How about those with whom you share a little sugah? I’d love to hear about your sweet experiences. Please leave a comment…

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We all know the familiar carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” – you may be humming it at this very moment! This holiday classic is the basis for this month’s creativity prompt. 

Just like the melody we all know by heart, the directions are easy to follow:

Every day for 12 days, you will follow the lines of the song, but rather than the quirky and utterly space consuming gifts (like 8 maids-a-milking!), you will make note of simple, positive things you notice about yourself each day – big and small.

Storage suggestion: write each day’s “gifts” on a small slip of paper, fold and place in a jar or box until January. Here are some examples of gifts starting with Day One of  The Twelve Days of Christmas:

Day One: “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…” This is where you take note of just 1 positive act, thought, or idea you had that day. It could be something as simple as, “I remembered to say ‘Thank you’ to the grocery clerk after he chased me to deliver the bag I left behind,” or “I gave up that prime parking space to the mom with the car full of weary little shoppers.”

Day Two: “On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…” Following the familiar theme, this day you record 2 items. Maybe today was a day you made the choice not to cave to the perfection pressure and you bought store-bought cookies for an event rather than adding one more stressor to your plate by making homemade fudge! Perhaps you sent a card to an old friend or distant relative just to make their holiday a little brighter.

Day Three: “On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…” You’re rolling now—hopefully you’re starting to notice the little things that mean a lot throughout your days. Today’s list of 3 might include things like: made myself some delicious hot chocolate; told someone “I love you”; dropped some coins in a red bucket and told the bell ringer, “Merry Christmas” rather than ignoring them.

Keep on going for the next 9 days. By day 12, you guessed it! You’ll have 78 positive things that are all about your goodness – things that you’ve noticed about yourself during this somewhat hectic holiday season. Remember, the items on your list can be creatively simple or deep and meaningful. Once you’ve completed your The Twelve Days of Christmas, put the slips of paper away until January.

Once the holiday frenzy has passed and the blueness of winter is knocking at your door, look over your little gifts from The Twelve Days of Christmas. To make the experience more delicious, I suggest that you open each day’s “gifts” (slips of paper) for twelve consecutive days, keeping the spirit of gift giving and the joy of receiving gifts alive into your new year.

Feel free to share with me and other sweet readers what you noticed on any one of the given 12 days.  We’d love to hear about it!

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Take A Walk On The Wild Side

November 17, 2011

Feasting on the exquisite beauty that surrounds us not only brings us into the present moment (where gratitude lives), but also gives us a sense of belonging to this big beautiful world in which we live.

This month let yourself feast on nature’s bounty by taking an art walk in nature and making some impromptu art as a token of gratitude.

Simply:

  1. Head out into nature and take a walk. (Easy, right?!)
  2. Along the way, collect fallen leaves, seedpods, acorns, small rocks, bird feathers, twigs, and anything else that catches your eye. Walk slowly, deliberately and notice your surroundings. Really notice the colors, shapes and textures all around you.
  3. Once you’ve collected your natural treasures, stop and make an “art installation” with them. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or make left-brain sense. Let the natural materials that you’ve chosen guide you in creating a shape or structure. Create it in the location and leave it right there. Then, say thank you! This is your token of gratitude to nature.

Please let me know about the natural treasures you discovered while walking. I’d love to hear about your creative process and your experience with your own grateful art installation…

Looking for more? Then check out Andy Goldsworthy’s work. He’s perhaps the most renowned and revered nature artist of our time. His art installations are amazing, both in their simplicity of the natural materials he uses and in the complexity of his diligence and craftsmanship. Andy Goldsworthy says, “I enjoy the freedom of just using my hands and ‘found’ tools – a sharp stone, the quill of a feather, thorns. I stop at a place or pick up a material because I feel that there is something to be discovered.”

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Ghost Busters

October 20, 2011

We humans are a superstitious lot.

Some believe Friday the 13th is bad luck but finding a penny is good luck.

Superstitions have been with us since the dawn of time. Many evolved from ancient religious or supernatural genres as a way to explain the unexplainable.

Consider the thought that mirrors can strike fear in the heart of the bravest man or woman – maybe even you. This ordinary piece of reflective glass is may be the focus of more superstitions and ghost stories than any other ordinary object in our culture. Ever heard (or said) that if you break a mirror you’ll have seven years bad luck?

The root of the mirror superstitions evolved from a time when water was used as a mirror. Imagining that they were seeing the image of their soul, people would look into the water to see their fates. If the image was distorted it was a sign of the viewer’s demise or death. As the mirror changed form, so did the beliefs.

Many superstitions stem from the human desire to associate thoughts and symbols with events. Essentially, when our brains can’t explain something, we make stuff up. The basis for this made up stuff has its source in instinctual fear – the emotion designed to keep us safe.

Superstitions are harmless and can be playfully fun, unless of course, they limit your luscious living. If you won’t leave the house without your lucky rabbit’s foot in your pocket and a string of garlic tied around your neck, then its time to face your frights.

Start here with this Ghost Busters Mad Lib (PDF). It’s a fun way to let the superstitions that might plague you tickle your funny bone instead. Knock on wood!

What are some of your superstitions? Does bad luck come in threes? What do you do with spilled salt? And what about ladders – would you walk under one? I’d  love to know…

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