Friday, November 16, 2012

Random Acts of Tangling...

I had mentioned in my last post how - seeing the rocks on the beach gave me the urge to tangle a few and put them back for someone else to find. Random Acts of Tangling. I know there are all kinds of groups doing similar things with trading cards, stuffies, guerilla art... it got me thinking though...

Maybe it's the time of year, the approaching holidays, the lack of sunlight, colds, the constant flood of donation requests, renewal reminders, the unending lawyer bills, the ever increasing vet bills... but I am feeling a bit on the edge of insanity! I keep reminding myself that this is supposed to be a wonderful, magical time of year. But I just don't feel it. I want to NOT focus on the expense and the commercial aspects, but that laundry list above is focused on money. I want to take a step away... what would Zentangle do? Seems kind of corny, but... what would happen if I did take a step back, squint at it, look for patterns... can I break it down into steps? I'll let you know if I figure out how to deconstruct this tangled mess!

Last night, my daughter and I watched a cute, animated version of Yes, Virginia (there is a Santa Claus) on Netflix. It was a good reminder that  - whether or not you will admit to "believing" in Santa, or fairies, or magic, or anything, really - the point is actually "hope". The movie points out that everyone has a chance to "be" Santa Claus by giving hope to someone else. Sometimes, all it takes is a change of outlook. It's not about giving the right coffeemaker, or the latest gadget or toy. The right gift is often a show of support, the right words, or maybe even NOT saying something. Like that quote, I don't know who said it, "Would you rather be right, or kind?"

I think that what depresses me so much about the holidays is the presents. If I think of it like a logic problem... if someone likes you, they buy you a present. If they really value you, or love you, they buy you something expensive, or lots of presents. So then the opposite it true too, right? For the last few years... more than I care to admit... I have been buying my own presents. Birthdays, Christmas... even Anniversaries. I always get gifts that I want. But what's the point? I remember feeling very disappointed, even as a kid. That something was missing. A point. And if gifts are meant to represent hope, rather than your own value, maybe they shouldn't be opened?

When I was a kid, Christmas was in December. The END of December. There were Christmas sales at school, advent workshops, lots of hoopla, but not until December. We put the tree up the first day of the holiday vacation. My grandmother and I would mix up an enormous bowl of gingerbread and spend an entire day rolling and cutting little "poopsies" (gingerbread people). Those cookies were an Estonian recipe - they were crispy and spicey and so delicious! We'd take plates of them to all our neighbors. The happiness on their faces was contagious.  On Christmas Eve, I felt the magic at church. The music, the candles, my friends... the happiness made me want to burst! The pews were so full because everyone had family visiting. And after church, I'd watch the swarms of people heading off to dinner and parties and I wanted to be one of those kids with a huge family! We'd go home to eat cookies and Christmas sausage... me, my sister, brother, grandmother and mom. I remember resenting my tiny family! Now, my family is even smaller. And last Christmas, my kids were with their father and my mom with friends... Christmas for one, truly sucks.

Like Ebenezer Scrooge, I've been shown a bunch of variations, and I know I want things to be different, but I don't know what new traditions or people I can adopt. I know for sure that spending an entire month, or TWO months! - preparing for one day - is a recipe for disappointment. No one holiday could possibly live up to all that hoopla and marketing!

There's a great video from The Story of Stuff folks - Tis the Season to Get Trampled. They are suggesting we stay HOME the day after Thanksgiving and DO SOMETHING with our family members instead of running out for bargain shopping. Their slogan is "Buy Nothing. Do Something." Choose Family Over Frenzy. So I decided NOT to do an Open Studio that weekend. I'm going to hang out with my kids and my sister and her family. Just say no. It's a start.

Then I want to start noticing other ways that I can integrate the whole random acts thing into my life. Because THAT's what feels good to me. And I will start paying more attention to the random acts of kindness that others hand to ME. I admit I get so "stressed" that I wouldn't even notice if all my dreams came true. Wait a minute! I think they have! Darn, I missed it! It's probably all on Facebook.  Point is - when I'm rushing through McDonald's and the server says "Ohmigosh! I love your coat!" That's a RAK - I should acknowledge that the compliment not only means I have good taste (or something), but I DO have a warm, fuzzy, purple coat that makes me feel good. Gratitude. I have what I need. When my daughter's teacher says she is doing really well and not acting out in class anymore. That's not just relief I feel that my kid is not the one throwing rocks. Not just an absence of embarrassment, but a feeling of gratitude. I am proud of my kid, yes, but also grateful that I HAVE this amazing kid.

So this week is Thanksgiving. It's not Black Friday or Cyber Monday or whatever. It's Thanksgiving. It's a reminder that I have SOOOOO many things to really feel grateful about. You try it out too - if you are feeling stressed about the crowd coming to your house? Picture the alternative. Then find a way to appreciate each person and what they are contributing to your life.

I'm curious to know what Random Acts of Kindness you have received? What about RAKs that you DO for others? Wouldn't it be cool to have a Signature Act of Kindness? (A SAK?) That would make us like super-heros - a special power! As an example: when we go to the grocery store and my daughter is feeling a little sad, she has this magical way of cheering herself up. She looks for a woman who is shopping alone and who looks sad too. Then Lilah walks right up to her and smiles a huge smile, "Hi, I'm Lilah, I'm 5!" And she just stands there smiling until the woman smiles back. She runs back to me and says "She smiled. She'll be OK." That's quite a super-power.

And here's a weird thought... if you could make a wishlist of RAKs, what would you most like to receive from others? What would make your day?

34 comments:

  1. I love buying flowers then turning to the person behind me in the grocery store line and giving the flowers to them. Of course I make sure the clerk hears me and that it is a woman. I don't have the nerve to give flowers to a man.

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  2. I couldn't have expressed it better...the world is just full of greed. RAK...I like to deliver fresh baked cookies, cupcakes, slice of pie to neighbors, not only on holidays but just because it's Tuesday. Loved when Oprah did the RAK shows...always made it a point to teach this to my students...results were amazing. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

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    1. Yeh, greed. I feel guilty too. But there is so much good stuff going on too. Today, there was homemade apple pie at our local restaurant. I tried to remember to actually TASTE eat bite and enjoy it. Mmmm.

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  3. WOW! I am sitting here crying - your post has moved me. Thank You! Your daughter is amazing! Aren't kids great?

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  4. I have a SAK that I've practiced for the past 30 years. Whenever someone I know has a baby I bring them a complete turkey dinner that will last for days. When I had my daughter 31 years ago no one brought me food. I never forgot that and how sad it made me. I used that experience to teach me compassion. Makes all of us happy.

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    1. That is SO fabulous. I would have loved for someone to have brought me food when my daughter was born. Company would have been nice too. I'd had a c-section and was stuck in bed. I remember being so lonely. But that is a good reminder that what WE want, is often what OTHERS would like. Thank you.

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  5. This post is a RAK, Sandy, a beautifully written gratitude reminder that has touched my heart. I'm going to share it with friends and I'm going to write my own letter of gratitude. Lilah is a Joy Beam. A gentle beam of living LOVE! Thank you so much for this gift.

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  6. Beautiful! So heart touching! As a single person holidays are very difficult indeed. Cooking for one is challenging all the time though. So I've started my "Cooking on Sundays" - usually something in the crock pot. Makes the house smell so yummy. Then I freeze individual containers of whatever I've prepared. I then take some to share to my neighbor and her daughter. Or bring lunch for a coworker. :D

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  7. This post does not surprise me coming from you. Isn't it interesting how we tend to remember the sad times rather than the happy ones. I used to hate Christmas because of all the bad memories~~the feud in my family when I was young that made my sister cry, having to expain why grandma gave more to the cousins because their mom and dad were divorced, the constant pain on Christmas morning that the kids had to leave their new presents to go someplace else. Then came the time when what few traditions we had were put to rest for new things to do. So now, I look forward to every Christmas to do something different yet again.

    I,too, like doing Random Acts of Kindness, expecially if the receiving person doesn't know I did it. One tradition we do have and I hope we don't end is that we bake goodies for days. On Christmas Eve, we place them on fancy trays, then don our Santa hats and take them to our friends and neighbors. Well, this year will be different yet again. We won't be home for Christmas. But I'm sure we will modify this tradition.

    Sandy, you are such an amazing, gifted person. The mother instinct comes out in me and I want to just smack anyone who makes you unhappy. I think you have realized that the best gifts come from the heart and do not have a monetary value. Thank you for blessing me with your beautiful work and your words of wisdom. I pray that sometime in the future I can be with you again in a workshop. Hope your Thanksgiving is a joyful one. I think you're on the right path to having one.

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    1. Thanks. :-)
      BTW, i can make up a list of a few people for you to smack if you have some free time. Hee hee

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  8. Woohoo, so glad to hear you want a big crowd for the holidays - my horde and I are on our way! Hoping to do some jigsaw puzzles and maybe finally see the top of Kearsarge Mountain, and planning to make sushi for dinner on Friday!

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  9. Sandy, today, traveling back to CT from FL, we were standing in Starbucks and I heard "Psst!" a lovely lady said "I love your tshirt (an EvolveFish, The data is in the strata" tshirt my other half says is sure to get me attacked down South!) we got talking as you do. Then her son turned up and the conversation turned to Ghost Busters and other interests of a 7 year old. He told me very proudly that he was an Artist! So, I told him about Zentangle and how he'd be so cool at school.

    Who knows if he and his Mum will follow up, but his Mum gave me a RAK and I hope I gave one right back!

    Thank you for this post, my family is very small and smaller now my son and his wife are in Korea, my Mum, sister and brother live in Australia, so holidays are bitter sweet.

    Your words mean a great deal to me. Thank you

    Jakki

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    1. Sometimes the best RAK is hearing someone say they "get" you.

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  10. Operation Beautiful - transforming the way you see yourself, one post-it at a time. Go to operationbeautiful.com

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings, Sandy. Our perceptions are the only reality we have. Just look to your Lilah Bean for tips on the right way to see the world (through the eyes of a child). Blessings upon you and your family.

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    1. I have learned A LOT from Lilah! Especially... stamping your feet while yelling "It's not fair!" can relieve a lot of stress. And she has taught me the value of "No." (Which also makes a bigger impact when accompanied by foot stamping. )

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  11. Hi Sandy,
    Your note was just what I needed! I am so depressed about Christmas carols the day after Halloween and 100's of catalogs filled with things that my family already have or don't need - I'm ready for something simple and your RAK's are just the ticket.
    I hope you have a spectacularly simple holiday!
    All the best
    Karen Crosby

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  12. Sandy, I had a very traumatic experience at the end of May and as part of the PTSD I have been very low and struggling to reclaim my life. You gave me a fabulous RAK and I can't begin to tell you how much that started to give me faith back in human nature.
    Thank you so much, you are a very special, thoughtful, talented and wonderful person. With so much love and hugs, Yvonne XOXOXOOX

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    1. Yvonne, keep swimming. PTSD... sucks. I found EMDR to help. I always think of it as "bing-bong therapy", a little like hypnosis combined with photo-processing. Anyway, it helped me get some images and stuff out of my head.

      There are definitely some truly wonderful people in the world, let's keep looking. :-)

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  13. Just like Karen above, your post is "just what I needed" today. RAKs...I love that. Somewhere I do have that little book that first made that famous. Where did I put that? But your post made up for my not finding it. I am not out shopping on Black Friday...it's tradition to decorate my house and put on the very first of my favorite Christmas CDs. Sometimes I weep a little looking at old ornaments my now-grown children have given me over the years. But it's a happy nostalgic weep! I am promising myself to think about RAKs this season a whole lot more. And I hope you won't mind if I quote you today on my blog as you have been far more eloquent that I could have been. I'll post your blog site as a reference of course. Thanks so much Sandy. You are very thoughtful and helpful person. You have indeed given your blog readers a RAK today.

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  14. Sitting here in tears. I have never responded to a blog post that I have read..ever. I have read many. First time for everything. To all posters above...thank you for the largest RAK. Sometimes you think that you are all alone in your struggles. And sometimes you need reminded that you are not. Thank you Sandy and all who posted.

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  15. We lost my sister-in-law to breast cancer in 1999. She was Christmas in our family. I mean she went all out crazy Christmas nutz. That year, Christmas was a bust, we were grieving. But in 2000 we found ourselves dreading the season again. So I had an idea. Called a family meeting and suggested we each pick one thing we would most miss about Christmas and just do those three things. The years went by, Kidlet grew up, moved across the country for university and I got sick. But my one thing is having lights on a tree to look at in a dark room. Decades ago, the same sister-in-law had sent me a little 3-footer when I was working in the Arctic [remember, she was the Christmas Crazy Lady - it arrived pre-decorated!], Himself and Kidlet make sure I have the little tree with the lights brought up to my room. They actually leave it "as is" from year to year, just haul it up and down from the cedar closet. So in the dark [like now when I'm awake and online at 4am looking for tangle patterns] I can have my lights and my candles. But it's too early yet, not til after my December baby's birthday can we do anything Christmassy.

    Oh - it also helps to keep the TV turned off from Halloween 'til the New Year!

    My Christmas RAK from my old life was to take a complete dinner out to the station on Christmas Day and also have over any of the lonely singles that were posted to work over the holidays. It was done for me when I was the young one on station so I continued the tradition when we became the ol' married folk. Until we moved south where everyone had seniority, family and their own lives at hand.

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    1. It does seem like everyone has their own families and friends, doesn't it? Is that another one of those things perpetuated by movies? Doesn't seem like people invite "outsiders" over anymore.

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  16. Hi Sandy, just opened this and after I read it, saw you wrote this on my birthday . You could have described my life and I just thought in wonder how we as humans don't really differ,no matter where we stay. My family is broken, for a lack of a better word, so we don't share Christmas anymore. My husband and I started a tradition long agoto decide on a budged for presents. Even if it is just R10 ($1.2) a person, I would search for a specific present for each person . Something that would compliment their personality. The search and my time is more of a present than the present itself. Two years ago I asked familes over that was also not spending time with family. Each brought something to eat, and we all sticked to the same budget for presents. It was one of my better Christmas's. This year my husband will be working and me and the children will be alone, but I will be ok, I hope. Thank you for your block, and may you be blessed with the knowing that you are loved, even if you are alone this christmas.

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    1. I still tend to spend too much on Christmas. My family is cracked. :-) And now there is the added pressure "Daddy bought me..." I've never been the competitive sort - and I used to buy all the presents for my husband too. Now that we are separate, his girlfriend might be buying the gifts, but it's hard to compete with a bicycle for Easter, Disney World... etc. Makes me feel very Bah-humbug. I keep reminding myself to refocus on the point. :-)

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  17. Hi Sandy; I have never responded to a post either. I am sitting here in tears, for you, and all the others who feel stressed or lonely on Christmas. I too remember, when no store DARED to mention Christmas until at least after Thanksgiving. I grew up in retail and worked hard in December, but we always had a Christmas eve dinner with my retail family, and Christmas morning together. But as years went by, and people acquired more income, we began to spend too much money....oh yeah, can't forget the invention of credit cards. The past few years, (we're retired now) and I guess I'm the nominal head of the family since my folks have past) I've been concentrating on lowering the stress and cost of Christmas. I skipped ahead tho. I have NEVER gone shopping on Black Friday in my life. I refuse to get caught up in that. For the last 30 years, I have had "family craft day" on the day after Thanksgiving. It's always held in my house, and some years I've had lots of kids over, especially when my grandchildren were small. This year there was only me, my husband, two nephews and my sister.....all adults. You know what we did? I completed CZT 10 in September, and I taught them all Zentangle. I gave each of them a small kit with the little bag, a pen, pencil, tortillion and a few tiles. One of my nephews and my husband had to practically be dragged into doing it. Guess who enjoyed it the most!!! And my little sister who is my biggest fan, now understands more about zentangle and why she can find me sitting at the kitchen tangling at 1 a.m. in the morning. I've been suffering with medical issues and depression for about 9 months, and I think Zentangle has saved my sanity, if not my life. Okay, back to Christmas. All my grandkids now get something I made, and a gift certificate to a resterant where they can have a nice meal with their significant other. However, if they want wine or booze, they get to pay for that, lol. What I haven't told you yet, is how important you have been in my life. The first CZT I ever met was Carolyn, who lives in Vancouver. She is now a wonderful new friend, and she sold me my very first book which was written by you. I now have all your books, and I so enjoy your infectious and playful style. You touch many many lives. You are important to many many people. I hope you will be blessed this season, give and receive many RAKs, and have a wonderful Christmas. With much gratitude and love, Linda Selymes

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    1. Actually Carolyn lives in Bellingham, not Vancouver.

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    2. Linda - what a WONDERFUL idea!! I love the Craft Day after Thanksgiving. I have to do that next year. I'm going to write it in my new calendar right now.... done!
      I know what you mean about Zentangle saving your life! It changed mine too. I was so tired of taking meds and talking about why I felt so bad. I just wanted to get ON with life. There's a book there, eh? ;-)

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