Episode 187: A Dash of Whimsy
Welcome back to Live Free Creative podcast. I am Miranda Anderson and you’re listening to episode number 187 of the show. This episode is about adding a Dash of Whimsy to your daily life.
Summer of Whimsy
As I am mentally, emotionally, and logistically gearing up for another beautiful fun summertime. Especially as we’re sort of slowly emerging from the pandemic, I feel like we’re going to be able to have a more, what feels like a more normal and exciting and involved, and also calm and peaceful summertime than we have in the last couple years.
I’m really looking forward to it. And I’m planning on some systems and some strategies and rhythms. So our daily life feels manageable and exciting and fun and also peaceful and fulfilling. And along with that, I remembered this episode and I wanted to re-listen to it. And as I really listened, I thought, gosh, I am going to share this again because it’s from episode one of the podcast.
This is an encore episode of 52: A Little Bit of Whimsy, even if you’ve listened to it before. It was in 2019. So it’s been a little while, and it reinspired me with the idea of doing things just for fun. And especially as we’re approaching kind of the transition of seasons out of the regular school year into this.
The weather is different. Our schedules may look a little bit different. I have an an episode upcoming in the next couple of weeks about planning your summer and kind of thinking through the way that you want that to look and feel. And so you can look forward to that and also listen in to this really fun exploration of the idea of whimsy and how we can add a dash of it to our everyday lives, to have a little bit more fun.
It’s just for fun. Before I jump into that Encore episode, I wanted to share a quick Pause for a Poem.
Segment: Pause for a Poem
A squirrel moved into my house and claimed my attic for his summer home.
At first, I thought it was a mouse that nibbled on my insulation foam
outside my window. I see him gathered pine nuts for his winter stash.
Not knowing at the time that he was sneaking in my roof to hide the cash.
Evicting him was hard to do.
He had, it seemed the law upon his side
for using poison was taboo.
IE roasted peanuts, laced with cyanide
For every hole I blocked. He found two others he could use to enter in.
Holes in the eaves holes in the ground.
He was a break in artist veteran.
His midnight scratching drove me mad.
His cleverness upset me all the more
I failed with every plan I had, it wasn’t just a nuisance.
It was war.
It took two months to win the fight
he chewed through steel wool
until I locked him out one night
by stuffing foil into every hole.
I won the war. But to this day,
I’m wary of that squirrel who did me wrong.
And though he now tucks his nuts away
and stores them in a tree where they belong.
I worry that he still recalls those nuts he piled
so neatly in a stack
behind my upstairs bedroom wall.
And that he has a plan to get them back.
The Attic War by James A Tweedy
The fun of that poem cracks me up. I can just imagine that links that this man goes to, to keep the squirrel from coming back in the attic. What a delightful little verse.
I’m excited now to share with you the Encore episode of adding a little bit of whimsy to your everyday life. This episode is from season one of the show. And so you’ll hear a couple of references to the house we used to live in. It was actually really fun for me to listen back to some of the design elements that we added in our blue house for the sake of fun alone.
And as I’m in the current process of designing and decorating our new house, it’s it was just a good reminder to ask myself what elements do I want that just are fun? They’re not necessarily practical. They’re just beautiful and a little bit unexpected. That has been a fun thing to think about. And also, like I mentioned before, I have really loved thinking about the context of these things that we do just for fun, this little dash of whimsy that we can add to our lives as I’m planning for this upcoming season of summertime, the summer break, and that it feels so good to me to have some sort of a rhythm to, to just have a baseline structure with a little bit of, you know, underlying calm and peace.
And also the memories that are made usually happen in the little bursts of joy that may be unexpected, maybe a little bit out of the norm. And that is where whimsy comes into play. So I turn you over to past me explaining about a dash of whimsy, and I hope that you really enjoy the show.
A Dash of Whimsy
Are you ready to talk about whimsy? Isn’t that word even fun? I love the word whimsy. I love the idea of whimsy.
What comes to mind when I say whimsy? What sorts of things do you think about?
We were recently in Disneyland. I shared that we were surprising our kids with a trip to Disneyland when we were in California and I was struck as we were there by the crazy amounts of whimsy that Disneyland brings to life. There are details, just minute details everywhere. Like the garbage cans are beautifully painted with designs and colors that match the land that you’re in.
So when you’re in Tomorrowland, they’re all kind of futuristic and cool. And when we were nearby a small world, they all had that really mid century kind of modern decor and colors that matched the ride. Everywhere you look, there’s just little dashes of whimsy and it made me realize how fun it is to be surrounded by that creativity and that imagination.
Whimsical Is Surprise, Delight, And Inspiration
Do you know what whimsy means? It’s kind of a hard one to define and actually I looked it up and I didn’t love the definition because in my head it feels a lot more than this. But this is what the dictionary tells us. Dictionary.com says whimsy is an odd or fanciful notion and extravagant or excessively playful expression or anything odd or fancy.
Okay. Like yes, I can see that, but I also feel like there’s this element of joy and surprise and delight that happens when I think of whimsy and so maybe odd or fanciful. And then it mentions excessive, which this can be true, but I think that something that is so incredible about whimsy and about things that are whimsical is that the only purpose that they serve is to bring joy and to delight your senses.
Things that are whimsical are not practical or expected. They surprise, delight and inspire your creativity and your imagination. And those are incredible characteristics.
The Magic Of Ribbon Candy
When I started noticing the idea of whimsy while I was at Disneyland, it made me think about other situations or occurrences in my life or stories that I had heard where whimsy comes into play. The idea of something just fanciful and fun that serves no other purpose than to delight. And it reminded me of a story that my mothers mother told me about her mother in law.
So my mom’s Dad, who was the son of Grandma Wright. She was a southern girl, a farm girl brought up and then migrated to California during the gold rush years and the dust bowl years. And she, there’s lots of fun stories about her raising chickens and goats. And I don’t know if this is true or not, but at some point it sounds like she may have raised a family of catfish on the back porch because she missed catfish and it was more readily available when she kept them out on the porch.
Something that my grandmother told me about Grandma Wright was that she was incredibly resourceful and prepared and so she put up fruits and vegetables and had a lot of food storage that she set aside for hard times and, included with all of her practicalities, the beans and the oats and the rice, she had bags of ribbon candy, that old school like hard candy that is twisted into ribbons.
I think it may have been seeing some of that candy that reminded my grandmother to tell me about this. I remember my grandmother telling me that Grandma Wright kept candy with the food storage just for fun because she thought if they were having hard times and using the food storage that the kids would probably need something to help cheer them up and to bring a little bit of light into their lives. And I love that story.
I love the idea of this practical, hardworking Southern woman storing hard candy among the preserves and the food storage so that the kids get a little bit of delight during the hard time or maybe during a long winter that feels like whimsy. That feels like whimsy with intention where you’re purposefully choosing to include something fun just for the fun of it.
Sprinkles On Ice Cream Bring Delight
Another thing that this idea of just adding a little bit of whimsy reminded me of was a journal entry that I made when I was probably in fourth or fifth grade. I have always been an avid journaler. I started my first journal when I, around the time I learned to write well in third grade and I kept one faithfully all the way through until I got married and then I started blogging, which has sort of served as my journal from then on.
So I have just these vivid accounts of my childhood written in my own hand. And I remember going through one one time and I actually have a memory of writing this. I must have gone to the store to get ice cream and really wanted sprinkles and I didn’t get sprinkles on the ice cream.
And I remember writing down that when I was a mom that I was always going to allow sprinkles on ice cream because the 50 cents or whatever it costs to add the sprinkles was well made up for in the amount of joy and delight that they brought to my child’s heart.
Now, if that isn’t a dramatic fourth or fifth grader, you know, feeling really deeply about the rainbow sprinkles. But that has stuck with me as an adult and we usually get the sprinkles. I know that there is no real logical reason why ice cream should have sprinkles, but when you’re five or eight or 10 or sometimes even 36 like me, it just feels extra fun.
Getting ice cream is fun on its own, but the sprinkles add that little bit of whimsy that just serve to delight. You know logically that there is no reason that you need rainbow sprinkles on your ice cream. But doesn’t it just make it a little bit more fun?
Where Is The Whimsy In Your Life?
Okay. So since I’ve been thinking about this, I’ve started to notice more whimsy in my surroundings, in my life and I’m curious: What types of things do you notice in your life that are just for fun? Or do you feel like maybe this all feels a little foreign, everything has a reason and you’re practical and you get it done and there isn’t really a whole lot of whimsy happening?
I’m curious whether or not a little bit of whimsy would serve us all a little bit more than we currently have.
Another way to ask this question is to think about what do you do just for fun for no purpose, no end goal, no check mark on the to do list. Are there things that you do in your life that are just for fun? Just seem fun, creative, inspiring, delightful.
I also like to think about my surroundings, what types of things in my home are just for fun? Where do I add dashes of whimsy within the walls of my own home to create that feeling of surprise and delight and inspiration and creativity in my own space and environment.
Small Brass Armadillo
Some examples that I can think of from my current house are that I have a collection of small brass armadillo. I started it in Texas. I don’t continue to collect them, although I probably wouldn’t turn one down if I saw it at a thrift store. But I started to notice them at thrift stores and antique shops and even bought one at a gas station when I was working in Texas and they’re just fun.
Armadillo are just kind of wild, and little brass armadillo are just unexpected and fun. So I have about six or seven of them and two of them live in my kitchen right now on different open shelves and they serve no purpose. They’re not holding down paper, they’re not, they’re not doing anything except for making me smile when I notice them. They’re just little dashes of whimsy in my otherwise practically organized, very efficient, small kitchen.
If you are familiar with my house or follow along on Instagram, you probably know about our cactus hallway. I have just a peek of bright red and green cactus that shows through an open doorway into the hall. The hall is very small and this brightly colored botanical cactus wallpaper ads.
Just this peek of fun and surprise and unexpected delight from almost anywhere in the main level of the house. You can see a little peek of it, but nowhere is it so overwhelming that you feel like you’re going crazy. Especially this hallway itself is so small that you can’t actually see a whole lot of the wallpaper at once, so it’s a perfect place to add just a little bit of fun and there’s no purpose and it doesn’t necessarily go with the other colors in the space.
I know that Richmond is not known for its Southwestern decor or for its cactus, but it’s something that I love and it makes us happy. It’s just fun. There’s no reason to do it except for that it feels delightful.
Whimsy Surrounded By Simplicity
Now I think that the idea of whimsy starts to lose its potency when everything is extravagant and everything is over the top and everything feels odd or fanciful or extravagant like that definition said. Part of the beauty of whimsy is that it is unexpected and that it is surrounded by simplicity and surrounded by space.
In fact, one of the reasons that I think it’s so fun to work towards a more intentional and purposeful and in some ways practical lifestyle is so that the whimsy is set apart. And not only that, because when you are not up to your eyeballs in energy-draining projects or organization or belongings, disorder, over-scheduling, over-exhaustion, and generally just living your life a little bit in the fast lane, you actually have time for the whimsy.
You have time to enjoy those simple things. You have time and energy to be present in your everyday life and to notice the things that are around you right now that can cause delight and joy. If you’re aware of them and if you have your eyes open to them, the more intentionally you live, the more bandwidth you have for creativity. And for imagination.
You get to be curious and open within your life rather than always rushing to the next thing that you think you need to do or buy or be. You feel at home where you are and that’s when those little touches start to really make a difference and I think this can work the other way around as well. I think if you are just aware of whimsy, if you’re aware of those little things and you start to give yourself space to enjoy them, take a little bit of extra time to notice and appreciate and be present with those fun things.
How To Find Your Whimsy
Just allow yourself to feel that delight, to feel that joy as if you were a kid. Whimsy feels like such a child like virtue or or attribute because children notice it. They’re the ones who will find the whimsy in the world the certain way that flowers hang and they look exactly like fairy wings or the rainbows bouncing off the walls when the sun just happens to come through the window at the right angle.
Those are examples of simple things that exist in the world right now without anyone doing anything that can feel like whimsy if you notice and appreciate them.
I want you to consider the idea that we are responsible for creating an environment of joy in our own lives.And one of the ways that we might consider adding a little extra dose of joy here and there is by adding a little bit of whimsy into our environment and into our everyday schedule.
Recognize The Whimsy That Already Exists
So how can you do this? First, I want you to start recognizing whimsy in the things that already exist in your life. I want you to notice and enjoy them. Notice the fanciful creative, imaginative, fun, and purposeless things that exist all around you right now. That’s a good place to start.
A few days ago I met some good friends at the Richmond Botanical Garden. It’s called the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and we were wandering around and just noticing, I mean there’s so many beautiful things and there were cool displays.
There’s a really great temporary exhibit right now where someone built life-like, I mean like larger-than-life statues out of Legos. So there was like a hummingbird in a trumpet flower made out of 32,000 Legos. And of course my boys loved that. It was so fun.
Picnic In A Basket On A Tree
But one of the things that I noticed as I was sitting watching my kids play was a tree over by the children’s area that had hooks in the branches and hanging on the hooks were wicker baskets. And I thought that was interesting. And as I watched a couple of girlfriends that had little kids with them on a play date, they wandered over to the tree and they grabbed a basket and took it off the hook and went over to another nearby tree that had shade and out of the basket they pulled a colorful sheet that they laid down and they started pulling out books and toys from this basket.
They had been hanging in the tree and they laid their kids out and they sat down and had a little picnic lunch with some snacks and toys and books all on this beautifully colored blanket that had been hanging in a picnic basket in the tree. And I realized as I wandered over and took a look myself that each of these baskets had been hung there with the little picnic set. And then you were supposed to just grab a basket, help yourself to a basket from this tree of baskets and lay out a blanket and enjoy some time in the shade with your kids.
How cool is that? There is no real reason to hang baskets in a tree. They could’ve just as easily put them on a counter or behind a desk where you went and checked one out and wrote your name down. No, no, just for fun.
They hung them on hooks on the branches of a tree so you could wander underneath and grab one out and feel like you were in a story book. It was so wonderful and of course I immediately created in my mind a dinner party coming up sometime soon. I don’t know when, where I am going to serve picnic meals in baskets hanging in a tree in my yard and invite people to just grab a basket and help themselves to some snacks and maybe we can do an outdoor movie and if anyone locally wants to collaborate with me, let’s make this picnic dinner party happened.
Doesn’t that sound fun? Just because I loved it so much. So that’s just an example of noticing some whimsy. I mean that was very thoughtful, very intentional, but the purpose was just to delight and to bring joy. I’d loved it.
What are some examples you can think of? What are some things in your own homes or your neighborhoods or your lives that just are fun? They don’t serve any other purpose?
Crystals Hanging In The Window
It reminds me of John and Sherry from Young House Love. I don’t remember even how this all came about, but they hang crystals in some of their windows, just these little sphere nickel mini disco balls basically of crystal that hang in the window and they just cast light beams and rainbows around on the walls and it’s just for fun.
They just add a little bit of whimsy to the home and what a fun way to cast joy around a room. Literally cast it onto the walls around a room. Then by adding a simple crystal to a couple of windows here and there in your home.
I’ll find the crystals and link them in the show notes. I think they’re just available on Amazon and we haven’t done that yet, but now that we’re home and settling back in, it’s definitely something that I’m going to add to our home as well. So you can head to the show notes to find the crystals to cast a little bit of whimsy around in your living room as well.
What are some other ways you can think of to create a little bit of whimsy? I mean this can come into play in your wardrobe where you put together an outfit and then you add an extra little touch just for fun, like green shoes or a colorful scarf. Just something a little fun.
I built myself a shoe closet in my closet and I need to put a blog post up about it, but I noticed as I went through my shoes that my shoes are brown and black and white and gray and green. I actually have two pairs of green shoes, which when I only have a dozen pairs of shoes in total. That’s a little bit odd, but I guess odd was one of the definitions of whimsy and green shoes must just be one of the ways that I express a little bit of that whimsy in my own. Very minimal, very neutral wardrobe.
I love the idea of lighting a candle just for fun. I have one burning next to me while I work. Lighting candles is also part of my just general like cozy self care practices. I like them at home. I like them when I’m taking a bath. I like them in my office. It just adds this cozy warmth and there’s not a real purpose. I mean, this one smells like grapefruit, so that’s nice as well, but really it’s just because it makes me feel good. It just adds a little bit of delight.
Have you ever lit candles at a family dinner that wasn’t thanksgiving or Christmas? Just like Mac and cheese from the box. Frozen peas mixed in and a couple of candles on candlesticks to make it feel fancy and fun.
I mean, it doesn’t have to take a lot of effort. You don’t have to go buy a lot of things. You can just use what you already have to up your game a little bit every once in a while just for fun.
Whimsy Should Be Easy
Now of course the point goes out the window. If you start to feel stressed out about this or like, oh, there’s another thing that I must do.
But like I was talking about earlier, when you start to create systems in your life and live more simply, one of the benefit, the unsung benefits of a more peaceful, intentional, simple life is that you do have the time and you do have the energy and you do have the bandwidth and the space and the creativity and the curiosity to throw in a fun little thing once in awhile just because.
Buying Flowers: Do you ever just buy yourself flowers at the grocery store or at the farmer’s market or send them to yourself? I’ve actually never done that. I usually just collect a couple bundles at trader Joe’s when I’m there buying groceries that how fun would it be to just send yourself flowers or send them to a friend? Just for fun, just to say, I think you’re great if you’re a mom or not.
Blowing Bubbles: When was the last time you blew bubbles? Bubbles are so whimsical. They’re so magical. They’re just fun. There is no purpose to bubbles. I think there used to be a purpose to bubbles. I think they probably started as the after effect or the side effect of washing things with soap, but bubbles, just blowing bubbles and seeing the delight.
I love bubbles myself, but gosh, my kids could run around popping bubbles for, you know, I was going to say hours. That’s not realistic. They could run around popping bubbles for like five minutes maybe. But even that, what a special five minutes.
We were at a theme park last month and of course at theme parks, there’s those bubble machines that they want you to buy, but we didn’t buy them. We just played with them for awhile and it was one of the most fun parts of the day. My kids blowing bubbles and running around in circles trying to pop them off. It was so fun and so simple and so inexpensive and just a little bit unexpected.
Glitter: I am personally not a glitter person. That feels like a confession, but I know a lot of people really love the whimsy of glitter and how fun that is to see things sparkling. I can handle it if it’s not inside my house. So that can be really fun.
Painting With Fun Colors: Face painting, painting your nails, a fun color, that bright throw pillow in an otherwise neutral living room. I know we all cringe a little bit at the phrase of pop of color, especially when we’re talking about interiors that you guys, the idea of adding a little pop of something, a little whimsy, a little dash of excitement or joy or delight. That’s what this is about.
Now, this episode is mostly just to bring to your awareness the idea of whimsy or to your remembrance. If this is something that you haven’t thought about in awhile, how fun those little things are that just served no purpose except for delight, that you can be more aware of them.
And I want to leave you with just two takeaways. Very simple takeaways.
See The Whimsy That Already Exists
One, to see and enjoy the whimsy that already exists in your life and in the world as we pay attention to it. A beautiful mural painted on a building that we drive by every day on the way to school or work or that beautiful colorful bouquet of balloons tied around the mailbox, down the street, signifying a birthday party. Just how fun and delightful that is. You will absolutely up your joy and delight in your own life as you simply pay attention to the whimsy.
You Have The Power To Create Whimsy
Number two is that you have the power to create whimsy as well. By very simple, simple means you can add a little bit of whimsy to a meal, to a room, to an outfit, to an outing or an adventure.
Just being aware of it helps to get your creative juices flowing and your imagination churning onto the idea of what is something that we could add just for fun, just for that delight and that joy factor that my friends, that’s just a little bit of whimsy in just the last a week or two since I have focused in on this idea.
I have just loved how heightened my awareness has been to these beautiful moments of delight that I might have otherwise missed and I’m so excited to have it front of mind. The idea of creating magical moments with really, really simple means and recognizing the value in an otherwise practical world and practical lifestyle.
I’m fairly practical as a person and fairly efficient and fairly organized. It’s really fun to remember that there is value in whimsy. There’s value in something existing just to delight and add joy to our everyday life.
I don’t know exactly what that’s going to look like for me yet, but I want to invite you to brainstorm with me. And actually, I mean, it feels like it goes against the the theory or the value of the whole thing to like plan it out. Sometimes we need to, if we’re not naturally a little bit whimsical, we might need to make a plan that grabs something just for fun.
Add some sprinkles or surprise your kids by, you know, having just like a silly, super fun ice cream bar one night that really has no, no special circumstance. It’s just for fun. I look forward to adding some whimsy to my life right now, and I hope that you will do the same. Speaking of things that are just for fun.
A couple of weeks ago, I hosted creative camp, which is my creative deep work retreat for entrepreneurs. And someone asked me about the difference between creative camp and summer camp, which gave me the opportunity to say summer camp is just for. Summer camp is a place for women, mostly moms who come, but women between the ages of 25 and 55, that’s kind of the average.
Everyone’s welcome to come and reconnect to themselves, to learn some new things, to do some crafts, to spend time outside, to be in nature, to make a roommate, you know, meet a roommate or come with friends and have a bunk room together. Upcoming grown-up summer camp is in July. It’s in New Castle, Virginia.
I want to invite you to come and let yourself do something that is just for fun. Invest in your ability to spend four days enjoying yourself, getting to know yourself again, connecting to yourself, to that environment, to these other incredible women. It is a transformative experience as an adult person, particularly a woman who were really good at taking care of everyone else and making sure everyone else’s needs are met.
It’s really transformative to invest the time, the energy and the money to. Enjoy yourself to have fun yourself. I want to give you the nudge that you may need. There’s we’re about half full for summer camp. Invite a friend, or come on your own. Join me in Virginia for the most fun weekend that you will remember.
I can promise you. You will not regret making that decision. All of the information is in the show notes and linked on my blog. Live free creative.co/summer-camp. I hope to see you there and I will chat with you again next week. Bye bye