Posted in food, gifts, know better do better, marriage, mindset, thoughtfulness

Sweets for your sweetheart

Valentine’s Day is coming up (if January ever ends)…

A gift that provokes anxiety or guilt (or both!) is not a good gift.

If your partner is reducing or eliminating junk food, buying chocolate, cookies, candies, etc. is not a thoughtful thing to do.

Likewise, if you’re reducing or eliminating junk food, don’t ask for or expect junk food. Unless this is a special occasion.

In any of these cases, perhaps have a conversation ahead of time about it so everyone is on the same page.

“I know that you’ve always gotten me this fabulous box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day, but I don’t want to have that much chocolate on hand any more. How about [a smaller portion/ something else/ we just go out] instead?”

Surely there are ways to show and receive love that aren’t filled with sugar? Maybe even aren’t edible at all?

Posted in connections, gifts, thoughtfulness

Be happy

I was at physical therapy.

There was an older woman finishing up her appointment.

She had one of the standard old white lady perms.

Her hair was dyed purple, fading.

She had on a grey long-sleeved T-shirt with an emerald green short-sleeved T-shirt over it which read BE HAPPY in white letters.

And shiny silver high-top shoes.

(I don’t remember her pants beyond that she was wearing some.)

We exchanged a smile and a hello.

Before she left, she said she had something for me.

She said that “be happy” was her motto and that she liked to give these out, and she handed me a glass stone with a smiley face sticker on it.

As quirky and lovely as she was.

So today, I electronically pass it on to you.

I hope you’re having a good day, and if not, you can find a little something good in it anyway.

Posted in about me, ebb & flow, follow-up, gifts, meandering, motivation, vulnerability

Hello? Is this thing on?

I like to been seen. So do you. Might be in totally different ways or contexts or audiences, but we all want to be seen, understood.

As a kid, I was introverted and socially anxious, good academically, and eager to please. In elementary school, I more or less spoke when spoken to. I remember clearly getting in trouble for blurting out an answer once in fourth grade, and while I can’t say for sure that’s the only time it happened, it was rare enough that that once sticks out.

I was “seen” by doing my work well on time. A sticker or a pat on the back. Because that’s good enough at that level and that was enough.

As school got harder, I found a niche and a family in performing arts. I was never great at any of it, but I was dependable, and for what we were, that was enough.

And then we all grew up and life went in planned and unplanned ways, and some combination of social struggles (in part because of childhood emotional trauma, in part because we societally don’t value introverts), and “good enough” and “dependable” not being enough to be seen, and choosing a career path (teaching) that’s considered “less than,” and within that choosing a specialization (band) that is constantly fighting for time, students, space, validation, I’ve spent a lot of time feeling … invisible.

All this to say that this is why I have a stormy swirl of emotions regarding birthdays (and now also Mother’s Day).

Because I want to be seen. And if the anniversary of being born is a socially acceptable day to get positive attention, I’ll take it.

But we’re adults and I’ve certainly heard enough times to grow up, that birthdays are for kids (with the possible exception of milestone birthdays, though their importance is pretty random unless you’re becoming eligible or ineligible for something legally).

Birthdays always runs into gifts, and I’ve written about gifts before.

I don’t like obligatory, “I have to have something to give you” gifts. But I love gifts that are thoughtful. A couple of years ago, The Climbing Daddy threw a surprise party. A few people brought gifts: a stainless steel water bottle; a bag for dance shoes; a vegetarian cookbook for backpacking (or camping) and a gift card for REI; a pair of earrings from a friend who always picks out the best earrings. (Others, but that’s enough to make the point.) They are really different things, and they all say HEAT all over them. Having the party in the first place was amazing enough. Gifts that say “I see you, I know you” were icing on the proverbial cake.

 

 

Posted in about me, gifts, parenting, storytelling

Father’s Day gifts…belated

So … it’s not anywhere close to Father’s Day.

Here’s the story:

The Kid and I went to Burst of Butterflies, a local painting place (canvas, ceramic, etc.) where he painted two small identical tiles that said #1 Dad.

We were traveling for the actual holiday and picked up the tiles after we returned. We had talked about what we were going to do with them but didn’t do it.

And didn’t do it.

And forgot about it.

A week or two ago, I was cleaning out one (of too many) piles in the office and found the tiles.

Oops.

So I mentioned it to The Kid, and we decided to continue with the plan.

What was the plan again?

I’m not sure that what we settled on is exactly what we had decided originally, but what we made turned out well.

He chose a photo of himself with each daddy; I had them printed.

Using some craft foamy stuff, hot glue, and wide popsicle sticks, we made a picture frame for each photo (photo very much not removable), then added the tile to the top left corner, as per The Kid’s requirements.

We agreed that magnets would be the best way to make them hangable—they’re very imbalanced—but I don’t have any on hand. Those will need to be added later.

Overall, they turned out well, and we’re both happy with how they look. As for the daddies? They haven’t seen them yet, but moreso than in June, they’re sure going to be surprised!

Also, on a tangent: as we were getting all of the materials out and organized, The Kid said, “You know, Mom, we could make a video about making this and post it on YouTube. And then other kids could know how to make a great Father’s Day present.”

We could. But Mama is tired. And other minor resistances.

So when I sat down to write a blog post and was completely uninspired, I asked The Kid, “What should I write about?”

“Mom! You should write about making the Father’s Day presents! It’s a good story!”

And so it came to be.

By request:

The end.

Posted in connections, gifts, gratitude, mindset, thoughtfulness

Giving, generosity, and the humanity of recipients

Thanksgiving. Natural disasters. Christmas. Man-made disasters.

Toys. Food. Clothes. Household items. Socks. Diapers. Toiletries.

There are always people in need. There are times when, as an outsider, it seems more dire. And so, we have stuff drives.

My request to you—and it’s definitely not an original to me—is to be mindful with your donations.

The climbing gym has a food drive every winter that includes a sign indicating that expired foods won’t be accepted. Because they had so many people “donating” expired food.

It’s not a cleaning-out-the-pantry exercise. You’re providing food for people who don’t have food or don’t have enough food. Give them something tasty, something decent-quality. Give them something you would serve to guests.

Can you imagine how hard your life would be if you were food insecure? How much pride you’d swallow to eat at a soup kitchen? In that moment, imagine the food you’ve been gifted is not just better than nothing but is actually a treat.

That meal is extra luxurious in the midst of hardship. Simply because a donor spent $15 instead of $6 on donated food.

Clean out the pantry and throw away expired food. (If you won’t eat it, don’t give it to “beggars can’t be choosers” to eat.)

In the wake of disasters, in donating household items, again, it’s not a time to purge things that are not in good condition. Do that another time. Books should have all their pages. Games and puzzles should have all their pieces. Clothes should be clean and without tears or excessive wear.

Again, put yourself in the shoes of the recipient. Your house filled with water. You and your family are safe (or maybe they’re not…) but all of your possessions are gone.

You’re grateful and humbled by donations to get you through until you can get yourself moving again. (Months? Years?) What do you want? Are you “just happy to have something” if the clothes you’re offered smell? Or are stained? Are you grateful to have toys for your kids if the toys are broken?

As hurricane season commences, donation centers will be popping up. The holidays fall in line behind that.

Be generous. Be thoughtful. Be humble. Be grateful.