Say it with pumpkins

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It seems like a little while since I was last delivering brownies, hiding gold stars and generally leaving unexpected things in unexpected places all in the name of making people more joyful. But today I got back on it…

… with pumpkins.

Nothing says “be happy” like spotting a mini gourd in an odd location.

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In honour of Halloween, I left 10 gorgeous gourds with an instruction to get creative. Here’s hoping they made the finders joyful, or at the very least made someone a tasty dinner of roasted squash.

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A treat, rather than a trick.

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A lonely pumpkin looking for a home.

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This gun’s for hire, even if we’re just dancing in the dark

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I love getting messages from you lovely folk. It’s a pleasure to hear your stories and find out what’s making you joyful  (or not) and to try to answer your questions. One of the things I’m often asked is how to get the energy to feel good when all you really have the energy to do is lie face down on the carpet with a cushion over your head (or is that just me?).

There are a few things that never fail to reinvigorate me, but the most fun?

Dancing in the dark.

Not the 80s classic by Springsteen (although it’s a definite mood enhancer too) but gathering in a dingy pub room with a host of other women, dipping the lights and doing whatever outlandish dance moves you desire. All to the sounds of the playlist you’d make if only you could remember every song you’ve ever loved.

In the dark you can be Skakira, Beyonce and Ginger Rogers rolled into one. In the dark you can strut like a sexpot but with no risk of anyone grinding too close. In the dark you can wear flat shoes and baggy t-shirts and feel like a goddess. In the dark you can move.

After an hour of shaking, shimmying, jumping and flailing you leave with the energy to have that discussion with your friend or to stand up to your boss or to deal with the fact that you’ve got a leak in your roof letting in water that smells like an old man’s crotch. It’s my failsafe mood lifter.

My local Dalston group is DanceDancePartyParty and it’s run by the lovely Leah Band and Rita Platts. Across London, the Vauxhall group is run by Sara-Jane. I asked her why she decided to set up the group and she said:

What I love most is that there is no judgement, I can dance how I feel, wear what I want, leap about and just move my body however I feel. This is the ultimate in empowerment. I can be who I am without fear. No one is watching and I have nothing to prove.

I don’t have to edit myself here – I can Charleston, salsa, rock n roll, samba, walk, leap, rave or step from side to side. If I fall over I will laugh at myself. I watch women change in these dance sessions, they arrive, anxious, and leave glowing and joyful.

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Photo thanks to Leah Band

I asked the other ladies how they feel after a class and heard “the feeling of euphoria you get after a particularly good session is like being at a festival”, “nothing makes me feel more uplifted. I should do it every morning” and “seeing 20 Dalston ladies get down to Jean Michel Jarre in the dark is one of the greatest sights I’ve seen.” All absolutely true.

If you’d like to give it a try then find your nearest DanceDancePartyParty group here. There are groups in the US and the UK and if there isn’t one near you then set one up yourself. And if you’d like to try a mixed group then take a look at No Lights No Lycra. The premise is the same and the pleasure is just as great.

Like the idea of dimly lit dancing? Let me know in the comments below.

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Random Acts of Disappointment

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Recently I disappointed someone.

This isn’t entirely newsworthy as I’m pretty sure I cause disappointment on a regular basis. The lady who threads my eyebrows and tuts in frustration when I refuse to let her tint them definitely springs to mind. I did it once and I ended up looking like Alistair Darling.

But this was different. It was real disappointment. It was causing “personal hurt, concern and upset” kind of disappointment. And it felt awful.

I don’t like to upset people. Sometimes I upset people because I’m so wary about upsetting them that I inadvertently upset them. And then I get upset.

This isn’t to say I’m never clumsy, thoughtless or occasionally passive aggressive. I am. I once put an egg in someone’s shoe because I couldn’t voice my frustrations rationally, but it’s not my default.

It doesn’t matter that in this case, I don’t think I’ve behaved as poorly as suggested and the indignant side of me has a defence well worthy of my legal background, there’s still someone sitting at home right now who thinks I behaved badly. And that makes me sad.

So what do you do when you don’t make someone joyful? When your chest tightens and your pulse quickens as you realise that you’ve caused pain?

1. Let’s not be naive

Just because you think that you acted in good faith and your motives are honourable doesn’t mean that everyone else will agree. Don’t think that just because something no longer affects you it’s not going to affect anyone else. It might. And you probably know that.

2. It’s ok to be sorry and not sorry at the same time

I think you and I are pretty similar. I think we’re probably fairly decent people. So when someone’s angry or hurt then we’re probably very sorry that they feel that way. But at the same time it’s ok not if we’re not sorry for the actions that we’ve taken. Without being defensive or inflexible, we can stand by our choices and still acknowledge their feelings.

3. We don’t have to fix it

For someone who likes things to be wrapped up neatly and preferably tied with some sort of vintage twine and finished with a wax seal, this one is particularly hard. But it’s ok to have a different opinion. It’s ok for someone to be sad and it’s even ok for us to be the cause of that sadness. We don’t have to make it better. Let’s not make it worse but, it’s worth repeating, we don’t have to make it better.

4. The last word is overrated

We may believe that the high ground is ours to take, but if the other person thinks we belong somewhere less lofty then that’s completely fine too. Trying to convince them not to feel how they’re feeling with justifications, explanations and tightly-worded emails isn’t always helpful. We don’t have to have the last word. We don’t have to acknowledge their last word. We can walk away.

So that’s me. How about you? What do you do when you feel the flush of someone else’s anger? Let me know in the comments below.

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