Random Acts of Kind Weirdness

#sexyghostOn Halloween night, I was thinking about random acts of weirdness and how they can brighten someone’s day. Of course what got me thinking about this was when I realized that using just my #sexyghost costume, I could really either freak people out or make them laugh by simply standing very still — say, under a streetlight, or in a dark corner of our yard. How much fun would it be to wear the costume around dusk and stand in the woods just off a bike path somewhere? I mean, as long as I didn’t get beat up.

This got me thinking of other random acts of weirdness — something that used to be one of my favourite hobbies. My best friend and I used to do things like rollerskate around the neighbourhood in angel wings (we were 18, not 8), and we had grand plans of setting up a fake Christmas tree in the park in the middle of May. I also like to buy flowers and hand them out to strangers, paint rocks and leave them in unexpected places, or create treasure hunts in the library for strangers. I miss doing these things!

Later that night (because we really got WILD on Halloween, y’all), I was reading The Artist’s Way and thinking about what I might want to do on my artist’s dates. Wait — dressing as a ghost (read: draping myself in a sheet) and standing very still beside a bike path could count as an artist’s date, right? I mean, that sounds super inspiring to me! Were there other random weird acts that I could list as ideas for artist’s dates? I got myself to the googles and started searching for ideas.

Well, guys, it turns out that’s sort of a tricky thing to search. What are we looking for here? Random acts of kindness? “Ways to make strangers smile“? “Weird things to do in public“?

Okay first of all, I’m all for Random Acts of Kindness. But could we come up with some more interesting or inspiring ideas? Paying for the person behind you at the coffee shop is awesome. But it doesn’t necessarily need to be on every list! Some of the ideas are downright abysmal. Compliment someone? Be courteous in traffic? Thank someone for a job well done? We need to read an article about random acts of kindness to think of these things? THIS IS WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE WORLD, PEOPLE!

The half that weren’t exceedingly obvious, cost money. Yes, buying things for people is nice (no-brainer). Gah.

“Weird things to do in public,” it turns out, gets you a list of slightly mean and completely inane activities obviously written by a 14-year-old (I can say this with confidence because it reads like a list I would have written, or probably did write, at 14). Not helpful. The 14-year-old is the only one laughing, not any of the strangers who witness their antics.

Wow, this is long-winded, but MY POINT is that I’m soliciting you fine, creative folk for ideas. I have five requirements, of which any idea must meet at least four; and I also have some examples to get you started on the right track. These can be for one person to do alone, or two or more people to do together.

Suggested activities must meet four of these five criteria:

  1. Will make someone smile;
  2. Is artful in some way;
  3. Is unexpected;
  4. Doesn’t cost anything or could potentially be done for free;
  5. Inspires childlike joy.

The best examples I can find online are Improv Everywhere (they really capture the spirit I have in mind and I’ve always loved their antics), and my favourite homeschooling blog, A Magical Childhood — specifically her “10 Ways to Make Today Magical” posts (not exactly what I’m looking for, but many of her ideas could be adapted to meet the criteria and be done as an artist’s date; plus I think that her activities are whimsical and perfect to teach kids a sense of art, kindness and fun all at once, which is amazing).

Examples (things I’ve tried and ideas from my own list):

  • brush the snow off all your neighbours’ cars (meets four criteria if playing in the snow fills you with glee)
  • leave treasures in the woods, around downtown, around a library (I like these painted stones)
  • guerilla gardening
  • write love letters
  • draw treasure maps and hide them
  • hand out flowers to strangers
  • wear funny hats and help people bag their groceries (my friend and I actually tried this. I stand behind the idea but I have to say, only one person accepted our help. We were wearing bunny ears!)

Hit me up with your best, most inspiring, most fun, artful ideas you guys! What have you done or always wanted to do?

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Monday: If You Want to Get Something, Give It

This post is the third in a series of eight concerning Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents. For the original post and summary, click here.

Monday is a day of giving. The message for today is, “If you want to get something, give it.”

First thing Monday morning, Neko and I had a conversation about this. “If you want others to share, or be nice to you, a good thing to do is share and be nice to them,” I told her. An apt lesson, as she was headed to Mairead’s house for the day, and the two of them don’t have the most stellar record for sharing and getting along. In fact, they know exactly how to push one another’s buttons, and do so on a regular basis. Neko was taking an avocado pit (“dinosaur egg”) to their house and was plotting how she would keep it away from Mairead, so we talked about how if she expects Mairead to share her things, Neko should give Mairead a chance with the “dinosaur egg,” as a start.

We also planned, together, to give out lots of compliments during the day. At the end of the day, we would share with one another the compliments we had given.

In the future, we will also talk a lot about being grateful for the things we have, and how, by being grateful for what we have, it can seem like enough, and we can also have more of what we need come to us almost magically.

It was a really great day, and I definitely had lots to be thankful for. In the morning, before I left for work and to drop Neko off (Justan was working downtown today and took the bus), Neko and I did yoga, I fed the hens (and gave them some whey from our cheesemaking to drink), I made coffee and a double-egg and avocado sandwich, and we had time to spare. Neko had a great day at the bookstore and playing outside, and I was thankful to have an extra staff member to help me during my shift, and good friends who stopped by for hugs in celebration of Chinese New Year – and they brought me lunch, including Pocky and fortune cookies!

I have lots of ideas of things we could do on Mondays in the future…

a) compliment each other and strangers – but remember, it’s important that the compliments are sincere!

b) practice random acts of kindness – all sorts of fun possibilities here! I won’t list them, as there are tons of ideas out there, and I’m sure you can think of your own. Look, there’s a whole website about it!

c) free hug day – I have been wanting to do this with kids for some time. A conversation would need to happen beforehand about only hugging if you are comfortable with it and you and the other person consent, but I think it could be really awesome!

d) talk about the things you’re thankful for at dinner – this is a really simple tradition that can, of course, be incorporated at dinner every day.

e) make a gift – whether there is a birthday or gift-giving holiday coming up or not, this is a great day to think of people you know who might like a gift, or to whom you’d like to give a gift. There are lots of amazing ideas for easy, handmade gifts on Pinterest!

f) send a love letter – for kids who can write (or younger ones who can dictate to an adult), writing a love letter to a best friend, grandparent or anyone else they love is a great exercise in expressing feelings and gratitude. While you’re at it, write one out yourself – maybe even to yourself! Or perhaps a spouse or parent hasn’t been told lately just how much they mean to you. Who benefits more in this exercise – the sender or the receiver?

g) hold the door for people – going out today? Take the opportunity to hold the door for anyone you can.

h) write a story about something you’re thankful for – when I was a kid, I loved making books; and now Neko does too. Take some regular, white, 8×10 paper and cut in half width-wise. Stack these new half-sheets together, fold in half and staple in the middle. Now fill with a lovely gratitude story, and be sure to include lots of drawings!

i) give each other back rubs – giving, and gratitude together! Plus – backrubs!

j) give to charity – this will have extra impact if your child or children choose the charity, and what to give. Something more palpable and less abstract than money, like toys, clothes, and so on, are easier for kids to understand.

k) talk about the Golden Rule – I remember learning this as a child: “Do unto others as you would have done unto you,” or “Treat others the way you would like to be treated.” It is absolutely, number one, the best life rule I have ever learned, and it’s easy for kids to understand (especially once they develop empathy around age seven)!

l) have a mini Thanksgiving dinner – if you celebrate Thanksgiving, how about preparing something similar to what you would serve on that day, only on a smaller scale? This may bring more of a focus to the idea of giving thanks. Be sure to talk about all the things for which you have to be thankful as you eat!

m) take someone flowers – pick some flowers from your garden, or wildflowers (just be careful picking wildflowers! Choose something safe like dandelions or a flower that grows with abandon in your area, and not anything that is threatened or rare), or buy some locally grown flowers in-season from your local farmers market, and take them to a friend. A simple way to brighten someone’s day (including yours)!

I didn’t come up with many ideas for books or movies for today, but as always, I welcome more!

Book ideas: Ribbon Rescue (Robert Munsch), Socks for Supper (Jack Kent)

Movie ideas: One Magic Christmas