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Sometimes I have to slice life into tiny pieces to understand anything. Chop, dice and toss: all in an effort of understanding and stitching together thoughts on why suffering seems to lurk in every corner.   Individually what can we do to collectively make a difference?  How can ordinary gestures add up to anything in a complicated and divided world?  My mind stalls while my heart processes instantly and an internal struggle always ensues.

In the season of overwhelm (admittedly self-induced); I am attempting to embrace Advent with lofty goals like grace and empathy and plans to sprinkle gestures of kindness.

I am implementing a teeter totter strategy this December.  It likely sounds crazy… but let me try to explain.

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Consider balance as a beacon.  Its all about trying to counter my own disingenuous holiday plans and selfish actions (or reactions – like annoyance in line at the post office) with meaningful random acts of generosity.  The key word of course is: trying.

How?

Since I am a fly by the seat planner, I am making it up as I go of course.

Perhaps you will want join me?  The teeter totter has two seats and maybe you can bring me up when I am down.  Please?

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A few humble examples…

Yesterday I was tired, cranky and on the edge of unleashing angst in my house.  So, I left with my camera before I threw out words I knew I would regret.  I found the church aglow featured in the photo above.  A ten-minute detour to a calm heart.

Last week, I stopped at my local GW (Goodwill) and downsized the items in my car.  The “stuff” wasn’t destined for donation, but since I hadn’t taken the time to unload them in a couple of weeks (coat, books, wine rack, etc.), I decided I should release them with an open heart.  Kinda hard for someone who saves ribbon shreds for future projects and still wears her high school cross county sweatshirt.  It’s easy to donate the things I proclaim we no longer need.  In this case, I wasn’t the boss of what I was donating; and it was way harder than it should have been.

While shopping for others, I ended up with a couple of gifts for myself.  I know I should have returned them immediately.  But they are books and I feel like I need them and that books don’t count as selfish indulgences.  My car was parked in front of a laundromat so I countered the behavior by digging for every quarter I could find and I handed them all over to a random stranger inside.  Her smile brought a little equilibrium to my day and I hope it buoyed the recipient’s experience with the washers and dryers.  See how the teeter totter works?

Trusting that even letting someone check out ahead of me in line at the grocery store might make someone’s day.  Ordinary and simple gestures so far.  I hope to connect the dots of December with an extra ounce of grace.  Join me?  Love to hear from you in the comments!!!

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10 Creative Gift Ideas!

1.) Do you shop Sevenly?  The company exists to bring funding and awareness to the world’s greatest causes.  Every item purchased on Sevenly.org gives $7 to the designated charity.  To date, Sevenly has donated more than $4 million to various charitable organizations.  I love the dreamer shirt I bought last summer and I purchased Sevenly gifts today (for others :).  The gift that gives.

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2.) A wise teacher recently suggested a powerful book: Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon.  I read it once and re-read again so I could write my ideas all over its pages!  Mr. Kleon’s message centers on the theme that creativity is everywhere.  And that creativity is for everyone.  It’s a small book, but full of heart.  Another recent read was Shooting with Soul by Alessandra Cave (loved).

3.) Print and frame beloved photos to give to others.  It is like a somersault; easy to convert digital images to the physical world, but we don’t always do it.

4.) Create a set of coasters!  Check out this link for a tutorial.

5.) Hop over to Minted and create a watercolor photo gift! How delightful, right?

6.) Enroll someone in one of Ashley Ann’s two SnapShops online photography workshops.   One class focuses on learning to shoot manual with a DSLR camera and the other focuses on phone photography.  I took the DSLR class last year and found the course content, as well as her interactive teaching style, terrific.  Her blog is awesome too!

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7.) Find and gift a heart-shaped rock.  Include a note about the power of finding hearts in nature!  Or include a book on the topic like All the Love in the World or Find it in Everything.

8.) Plan an experience gift (concert, hike in woods, creative night or insert your creative experience idea!).

9.) Invest in a deck of Vision Quest creative photo assignment cards.  This is the perfect tool to spark creativity and encourage artistic growth with photography.  This product was developed by the wise instructor who lead a recent photography retreat that I attended.  In his words… “I offer these Vision Quest cards to help jump-start your creative process and invite the power of intuition into your photography.”   –Douglas Beasley

10.) Gift a some songs!  Rivers in the Wasteland on vinyl by NEEDTOBREATHE?  Or my friend Keith Pulvermacher’s cd, Midwestern!  Music – the fuel for creativity.

Go forth and sprinkle kindness and creativity!

xo


*I feel compelled to share that I am not an affiliate with any company.  If I ever do become an affiliate, you will be the first to know.