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Guerilla Haiku Movement

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Within days of moving to New York City, three years ago, I was approached on several occasions by clipboard holding agents. Each of them asked me to commit to something different. “Love children? Sponsor one in Africa! Don’t have time to chat about the child in Africa? You must be pretty selfish.” “Want a puppy for that apartment you barely fit in yourself? We’ve got bags of them!” “Do you love the environment? Prove it. Stop and talk to me. If you don’t I’ll make sure to note that you hate the environment. Your carbon footprint is the reason our children will never breathe clean air.”  It was in those first days that I made a vow to never hold a clipboard and approach people. Ever. Even if the rent to my apartment depended on it.

This past weekend I broke that vow. But I promise–it was for good reason.

A little over a year ago, I met Caley Vickerman. She is the founder of the Guerilla Haiku Movement, a movement that aims to inspire people to get out and create/make art; a movement that brings joy to people’s lives; and a movement that motivates people to explore and celebrate the temporary and the virtually permanent. How does the movement do this? It’s simple: Through chalk and Haiku.

(Quick reminder: A Haiku is a three line-syllable based poem. The first line must have 5 syllables. The second line must have 7. and the last line must have 5 again).

Throughout the world, Caley organizes events that ask people to take a moment out of their day to pick up a piece of chalk, find a free space of blacktop or sidewalk, and haiku away. Each haiku can be about anything a person wants his or her haiku to be about. Easy.

When I met Caley, I became enthralled by her movement. As someone who can often be caught on the subway counting syllables and noting haiku on her phone, I wanted desperately to be a part of Caley’s movement. Unfortunately, my schedule wasn’t matching up to haiku events, and I kept having to miss them. However, I felt so inspired by Caley’s chalking movement that in December of 2012, I set out on a quest to chalk the word happiness into each of the five boroughs.

IMG_4854_2(THAT’s A LOT OF HAPPPPPPPY RIGHT THERE!)

The joy I felt in purely taking the time to write the word happiness and visit each borough was amazing. It was then that I had caught the chalk bug–I knew that I absolutely would need to take part in Caley’s Guerilla Haiku Movement–as soon as I physically could.

It’s difficult to explain how honored I felt when Caley reached out to me just a few weeks ago about an upcoming event in New York City. She asked me if I could be a haiku agent.  Joyously, I went to type yes–but substituted yes, with an inquisitive: “What is a haiku agent?”

“You’ll stand with a clipboard, a map, a scavenger hunt, get people to join you, and keep track of the hailing/get social media photos, and more.

I hesitated for a moment, while Caley patiently awaited my answer. I sighed. A clipboard. Can I really do this, I thought? I made a vow NEVER to agree to hold a clipboard unless it was for a television or film project.  BUT this past year, I also made a vow to refuse the word “no.”
My friends, that is what we call a catch-22.

Alas, I decided that only the power of haiku could put a clipboard in my hand on the streets of New York City in order to approach people and ask them to do something–because I knew what kind of JOY it could possibly bring someone–even if it were just one person.

And honestly, I couldn’t be more happy that I broke my vow of going against the clipboard. Within minutes of chalking my first haiku of the day in Columbus Circle, I could feel the excitement bubbling. “Okay, this is awesome. Clipboard or not. I get to ask people to have fun doing this?! HECK YA.”

IMG_1951“Go find your passion
and believe in it–Be Brave
never stop reaching.”
-Libs Segal

After penning a few more of my own haiku poems, I met my co-team leader, James and the rest of our team. Their excitement was contagious, and as a team, we decided that infiltrating the park may be our best course of action. Our second best course of action was choosing a small bridge on the south side of the park–where within twenty minutes, tens of people were on their hands and knees haikuing away.

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This chalk traffic continued consistently for the next hour and a half. And through our chalk adventures…

We met people who wrote in Bengali….

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And people who wrote in Gaelic

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We met families!

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We met a father and a son who decided to take a break and haiku, because they thought it would make a great memory on Father’s Day.

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We saw a haiku written about zombies!

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And haiku that went deep–real deep:

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And haiku that made us laugh!

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 We saw people take a second to live in the moment. We saw people say yes to something they may otherwise not say yes to. We saw people leave their comfort zone–talk to a stranger–and slow it down.

And above all? We saw joy and we saw happiness.

What could have been a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

IMG_2015*Art strikes where it strikes*
*We happened upon this bridge*
*Art is where we are*

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If you are interested in taking part in a Guerilla Haiku Movement event (holding a clipboard or not), head over to www.ghm575.com and reach out to Miss Caley Vickerman–The Haiku Mistress.

AND I’m  inviting all to participate in the haiku joy. Submit your haiku below, message it, Facebook, or tweet it to me and  look for it to appear on the site later this week!!!

Cheers

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How to Relax Without Being a Lazy Bum

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After someone told me, recently, that I needed to rest–and to give myself a chance to relax, I laughed. And then I realized she was right–I’ve been on the go a lot. The problem is that when I think of relaxing, I think of the terrifying idea of wasting a day lying on a couch, legs dangling over the end, and a bag of chips within reach.

So I got to thinking what are good hobbies to do when you want to relax–but you don’t want to be a lazy bum? I came up with running, drawing, pottery, and dance. While running and dance may seem TOO active to be relaxing, I’ve learned that you can find ways to really “zen out” while doing even the most exhilarating of hobbies. (Lindsey Lewis over at MindBodyGreen even argues this feeling in the article “Why Meditation is Overrated” as she lists 9 activities you can definitely meditate on.)

I then began to wonder–what are other people doing to relax, but to also stay active both mentally and physically? So I took to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and posed a question:

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The results varied from activities like surfing, which is physical and can remove mental stress (unless of course you are terrified of that ocean like I am), to things I know I need to try– like painting and gardening which give the body a break but still exercises the mind a bit.

Here are some of the responses:

K.M.: “Gardening , it is relaxing and you can see results. Some are immediate but many are gradual little rewards of beauty for steady maintenance and patience. It helps the soul to work with your hands in the earth and with plants. Fresh air , sky and greenery. Also hiking. It’s the nature again, keeps things in life in perspective.”

Robert DeSanti: “I paint/draw pictures of dinosaurs, do tasks in bright colors. I do it cause it’s fun and makes me smile.”

His painting/drawing made me smile too .
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Julia Ember Ricciardi: “Cooking/baking! Because there is always a delicious pay-off in the end!”

Rachel Miller: “Gardening. I love digging in the dirt and being part of the growing process of plants. Plus the added benefits of adding beauty to the outside space and growing your own food.”

Ashley Castle: “Walking through my neighborhood, wine tasting, journaling.”

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 Adam Marland: For me, relaxing can mean a couple things. If I’m drained from a crappy work day or something, the goal is to check out mentally AND physically, and that means comfort food, beer, sweatpants, and movie marathon. If I want to relax physically but be engaged mentally, I just drive somewhere pretty and enjoy; a beach, a scenic overlook, whatever. The drive and getting out is as much the reward as the destination. In contrast, if I need to be engaged physically but not mentally, I find activity therapeutic; basketball if im in the city, but a hike or swimming hole are my favorites.”

Sarah Steeland: “Would have to be surfing for sure” (She even shared one of her awesome doodles to show)!

surfing sarah steenland

R.G.M.: “I love to hike around Turkey Mountain, a local spot with oodles of walking, biking and horse trails … just 3 miles from my house. And my favorite indoor hobby is photo editing. I can play with one pic for hours!”

Grant Ryan: “I have three said hobbies when I want to relax but not be lazy, the first is obvious, running – it might not sound like relaxing but its very zen to me, it clears my mind and eases my stress. No music, no phone, just a pair of sneakers and a road! The second is cooking, I love to create, and i find it artful and soulfully stimulating – it relaxes me in a different way, not so much zen as it is just adult play. Lastly I like to take a glass of red wine, and a new book and let my mind drift to worlds impossible – it might sound lazy, but I find it to be mental excersise and an escape from reality. I can literally go anywhere with the turn of the page. Wine isnt always necessary, but it definaltey relaxes me and it stimulates my creativity for hobby #2.”

Grant Ryan

Bekah Eaton: “Mudding!”

Emelie Samuelson:  “Slacklining, crocheting, or hiking.”

Joe Cicala: “I go to book stores and hang out in the cookbook section. Cooking at home is also relaxing. And at work when I make pasta and when I butcher and cure meat. That’s my zen time. I completely zone out and let my mind wonder.”

Jason Schneider: “I like to play Bass. I learn new songs and feel like I’m being productive/getting better at something, even though I’m just messing around playing music.”

A.M.: “WII Just Dance”

Hannah Brencher: “Is it possible to make gratitude into a hobby? If that be the case then gratitude has been my hobby for a while now. When I want to relax, but not be a lazy bum, I create care packages, and make cards, and just make things for people in my life that matter most to me. I roam the aisles of Target for little gifts or spend the afternoon writing letters “just because.” There is an indescribable feeling that comes from pouring myself onto people I love that never makes me feel lazy but leaves me feeling completely refreshed and relaxed. My hobby is also a remedy.”

PhotoCredTiffanyFarley (15)

Photo Credit: Tiffany Farley

Celeste Headlee: “I have a strong sense of guilt whenever I sit down to watch “Mad Men” or “Downton Abbey” because I can hear my mother’s voice in my head saying incredulously, “Are you just going to sit there?” So, I have a whole host of hobbies that I can do while I’m seated. One of my favorites is needlepoint and cross stitch and I especially love the complicated variety that take months to complete.”

Tammy Tibbetts: “Reading in Central Park, Yoga for Runners class at Jack Rabbit NYC, and watching Mindy Project with my friend Erin to name a few!”

Maitland Ward Baxter: For sure yoga. Pretzeling myself helps me de-stress. #theflexibleshallnotbebentoutofshape

How about you–What are YOUR favorite hobbies to do when you want to RELAX but don’t want to be a lazy bum?

Here’s one of my drawings from when I want to relax–but I don’t want to be a bum…

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Donate! Volunteer! Help!

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A special message from The Hobby Hoarder during these tough times:

I can see the Empire State Building from the front door of my apartment building in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The lights are shining bright. Whether the lights to the south or the north of it are on–on any given night–I wouldn’t be able to tell you. But this past week I know that for a good portion of time, most of the lights south of the Empire State Building were off. And even still, now, many of the lights in Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, the state of New Jersey, and across the Harbor in Staten Island are off.

My family and friends in Pennsylvania spent days in hotels, office buildings, and at bars huddling for phone charges and heat. My professors and friends in Rhode Island watched as the Atlantic Ocean hurdled over the Narragansett Wall creating rivers on main roads, knocking out power to many, and destroying one of the city’s most popular restaurants–the Coast Guard House. Kids were off from schools–hospitals were evacuated–subway tunnels were flooded– the coast of Jersey was completely destroyed, and worse of all–lives were taken.

As we all know, Hurricane Sandy ripped through the East Coast leaving many states powerless and many residents homeless.

Up until today, all the devastation I knew was what I saw in photos–through Tweets, Instagram, and Facebook.

I spent the week working from home, feeling selfish that I wasn’t on the front line helping people–that I wasn’t there putting together recovery packages for strangers–that I wasn’t helping. I realized very quickly that even if I wanted to be on the front line–my help would be exhausted shortly as my strength is not in my arms, but rather in my voice.

When the power went out, for most, on Monday evening, all they saw was darkness. They lost the ability to watch thew news–to follow Tweets–or to get Facebook updates. I kept power–and instead of sleeping, I stayed connected. I followed Twitter until my eyes dimmed, and then early in the morning, I texted my friends who I knew had lost power to see if they were alright. By the middle of the day I had heard from many New Yorkers, and several hometown friends in Pennsylvania. “Can you just update me–I have no idea what happened after it went dark.” “Are the trains going to be able to run?” “What happened?” “When will my power come back?” “How bad was it?” My strength was now my ability to accurately relay messages to them from various news sources including New York Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Morning Call, and the Daily News.

I found myself Tweeting updates–Facebooking the latest breaking news–and realizing that even if I couldn’t be out there in the Far Rockaways where homes had burned down–even if I couldn’t be in Staten Island–even if I couldn’t be in the basement of someone’s home emptying out water–I could be making a difference . I could be informing people.

So I continued informing people, looked for more ways to help, donated food and supplies to the Far Rockaways via friends with cars, and woke up this morning with one mission: Find a way to get out there.

I read through my email of countless volunteer opportunities to see which one I could get to by bike, foot, or limited public transit. Staten Island had a call for helpers in several areas, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to reach many of them without a car–and that I likely wasn’t strong enough for many of the things people needed. And then one popped out to me:

10:30AM: NORTH SHORE. Go door-to-door distributing helpful information about warming centers, power stations and recovery to North Shore neighborhoods still without power. Spanish speaking a plus. LOCATION: State Senator Diane Savino’s office, 36 Richmond Terrace right across from the Staten Island Ferry. RSVP tokmotley@pubadvocate.nyc.gov

I re-read the post. “Go door-to-door distributing helpful information.”

‘I can do that,’ I thought, and so I RSVP’ed right away. Soon after, Piers Morgan ReTweeted a photo by Stephanie Gosk from NBC of herds of New York Marathoners making their way onto the Staten Island Ferry–not to run their race, but to run to places that needed help. If these people were going to run 5-7 miles to the underside of the Island–I could sure as hell get myself, somehow, someway to the Staten Island Ferry and walk across the street, to do what I do best–Give information. A walk, a cab, a train, a cab, and a ferry ride later I was sitting in an office at 36 Richmond Terrace preparing to head out to neighborhoods that had been without power for days.

I realized in this moment–that a little help–goes a long way. As the temperature dips to close to freezing tonight, many people not only in Staten Island, but around the tri-state area, and points further north will continue to live without power–without heat. The information we passed around today informed members of the Staten Island community where they could go for shelter or warming centers. The information we passed along today–could save someone’s life.

I don’t like to preach. I’m more of “an inspire by doing” type person. But in this case. I don’t mind preaching a bit: A dollar you give–a minute you give–an hour you give- a day that you give–blood that you give–could save someone’s life.  Many shelters in New York City are turning away volunteers BECAUSE THERE ARE TOO MANY. This is a GOOD–no–GREAT thing. It means plenty of hands are on deck to help.  Maybe you aren’t into knocking on people’s doors and distributing info, maybe all the shelters are filled to capacity with volunteers, and maybe you don’t have the strength to carry packages of bottled water–but there is always a way to help–and always someone in need.

Oh and P.S. Cause I am a bit of a hippie. Don’t forget about Love. Keep Loving.

To my friends in New York City–My friends in New Jersey–My family and friends in Pennsylvania–and my Professors and friends in Rhode Island–and all those along the East Coast–This one’s for you. 
Check out these places for more opportunities to aid in Hurricane Sandy Relief
 Red Cross
 WNYC
 Brokelyn 
 Life Vest Inside
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“The Resilient Ones”:

“New Yorkers are resilient. They’ve seen the lights go out on Broadway. They’ve experienced bombs rumble under ground. They’ve watched their iconic buildings collapsed. And each time they’ve risen to the occasion to come back—to reassemble—to regain their composure—to help a neighbor—or a friend—or the elderly—or a child. New York is filled with people who fight battles every day to survive metaphorical storms. And today, with this very real aftermath of a devastating storm—New York is still filled with those people—those same resilient people. And I know we’ll all get through this, together. New York City is our home–and it’s not going anywhere–and neither are we.”
-The Resilient Ones
Publishes on Libs on the Reel and One for the Table

The Hobby Hoarder Walks It Out: Stilt Walking

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Each year, on July 4th, there are parades all around America–and in those parades, stilt walkers come out by the dozens–dressed as Uncle Sam, Lady Liberty–and more. When I went to choose my hobby for the week of July 4th, I took a poll on Facebook and Twitter of what hobby I should do. The majority voted that I should stilt walk–and so I did. It felt pretty nice to be tall.

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Special Thanks

Flynn Michael

Lea Perella

Brian Forman

Docking Bay 420

And all those who voted on THIS hobby!

The Hobby Hoarder Builds a Home: Birdhouse Making (Mother’s Day Edition)

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I am pretty sure my mother and I should have our own talk show called Pillo—I mean Patio Talk. 

I’ve never been good at building things with my hands–especially those Ikea shelves, dressers, and desks. Consistently, without fail, I will normally buy a structure to build, pull out all the pieces, place them nicely on the floor, and then run screaming for help. Fortunately, in college my roommates were often able to help me. For building the birdhouse, it was just Mom and Me–the perfect Mother’s Day treat for her, and the perfect hobby of the week for me.

What do you think? Should we have our own show?

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