Tuesday, March 6, 2018

DateNight: An Activity Book for Couples

(This is cross-posted from Medium, where it's better formatted)
I’m the kind of person who loves team bonding activities. A structured activity with a goal and a bit of fun thrown in? I’m in!
And hey, if it works for teams, why not for couples?
So I created DateNight, an activity book for couples. Each activity helps you to get to know each other more, and most of them involve creativity, theatrical expression, or friendly competition. For example, “How did we meet?” gets you drawing a comic strip of your origin story, and “Random Access Memory” gets you to act out and guess memories from your relationship.
The activities were inspired by all sorts of things — like self-help books, Buddhist meditations, life coaching exercises, improv games, art therapy, and children’s crafts. Basically, everything that I find fun and interesting. 😀
My hope is that these activities give couples a new avenue for honest insightful communication, plus help create new memories. Not everyone will be into these sorts of activities, so if you’re excited by them, remember to check in with your partner first before assuming they’ll do them with you. That conversation might help you find out what sort of activities they wouldlike to do with you, so yay, you’ll have already learnt more about each other!
You can download the DateNight PDF here, and print out the whole book or the activity you’ll be trying. Note that there’s a blank page between each page, so that you can tear out each activity and template on its own.
I’d love to hear if you try DateNight out and enjoy the activities! Share your feedback here or send me an email.
May you all find joy, love and growth in your relationships. 😊
Thank you to my former partner Jacob Lyles for inspiring these activities and participating fully in them with me.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Company Crafty Hour: Why & How

(This is cross-posted from Medium, where it's better formatted)
How do companies give their employees opportunities to bond, relax, and have fun? The company “Happy Hour” is a pretty standard approach, where they get to drink (typically alcoholic) beverages and chitchat with each other.
I personally don’t much enjoy Happy Hours, for 2 reasons:
  1. I’m not that into conversation, especially of the unstructured variety. If a conversation doesn’t have a goal, then I lose interest quickly, or worse, I end up speaking about things that I would have rather not voiced (like gossip and petty talk), simply to fill the space.
  2. I no longer drink in work situations (for various reasons). I could drink water or tea, of course, but given my reason #1, what’s the point?

So when I work at a company, I try to find alternative ways for me to bond and have fun with my colleagues.
My most recent experiment: Crafty Hour! We all get together and work on a particular craft, typically one that adds to the office decor in some way. I love crafts, so for me, it was an opportunity to bring a hobby to work, and a new way to get to know colleagues.
Every human has their own preferences, so I bet that someone out there is reading this and thinking “Ugh, crafts!” Totally cool, you do you. Ideally, companies would give their employees multiple options for non-work bonding, so each human can pick what’s up their alley.
That being said, perhaps you work at a company with a bunch of coworkers that seem like they’d be totally into Crafty Hour. To help you get started, here are Crafty Hour ideas from my time at the lovely Woebot Labs:

Succulent Terrariums

Our office was in dire need of greenery when we first moved in, so this was the first craft on the list. Succulents don’t need much water to survive, and they take a while to wither away, so they’re ideal for a workplace of people that are too busy and distracted to water anything. 😁
Green growing things in the office, yay! Bonus: sometimes they attract insects :)
How-to: You can encourage coworkers to bring in old mugs from home or pick up a bunch from the local thrift store. You can clip succulents from community gardens and street-side patches, or use this opportunity find out if any coworkers have their own succulent garden.
For a few more details, see my instructable (and subtract the creepy crawlies… or don’t).

Wood burning: Name placards and motivational phrases

As a general rule, I always opt for crafts that are eco-friendly: 1) not requiring too many new supplies, and 2) able to be recycled easily. That’s why I love wood burning: you find wood in nature, you burn something into it, and if you’re not into your wood burning anymore, you toss it back into nature!
My favorite phrase to burn, and something I need a constant reminder of.
Getting the wood: If you’re fortunate to live near the ocean, you can head out to the most driftwood-y beach in your local area and collect a variety of ocean-smoothed wood pieces. If not, you can purchase driftwood on Etsy or see what your local hardware store has to offer. You can also burn wooden circles or wood slices. Hey, maybe a coworker has a second life as a carpenter? It’s time to find out!
The next step is to procure a woodburning iron. My go-to is also the cheapest iron on Amazon, the basic Weller. I hate to think that you’d get an iron just for this activity and then abandon it forever, so please, start a wood-burning habit or gift it to the coworker that seems most likely to start one.
Now it’s burning time (and waiting-for-iron-to-be-free-time). Your coworkers can burn their names, logos, or little motivational phrases. Encourage sketching out the design first on paper, and give them a chance to practice burning on wood scraps before they burn their final wood piece. Also, keep some sandpaper handy, as that’s how we undo in wood burning land!

Laser-Cut Logo Accessories

I’m a recovering laser-cutter addict, and you’ll notice that in my next two suggestions. If you’re fortunate to have a MakerSpace near you and the finances to afford it, I do recommend learning to use their laser cutter. It’s really quite fun and one of the easier fabrication tools to learn, plus you’ll be able to easily laser-cut fun things for your office. If you don’t have the ability or desire to laser-cut yourself, then you can use an online service like Ponoko.
Then you can laser-cut your company logos, like these Woebot ones:
So adorable. Life goal: only work for companies with adorable logos.
Notice the keychain coming out of the middle one? That’s where the crafting comes in! And in fact, if you use your x-ray vision, you’ll notice that the other two logos are actually magnets. Oooo, magnets! You can even make buttons, necklaces, and earrings.
Supplies: Because I’m a bit of a craftaholic, I already had all the ingredients that we needed for this craft, so as always, please do ask around the office to see if any resident craftaholics have extra supplies that are looking for a home. If not, these Amazon links will get you basic supplies: keychainsmagnetspin backs, and E6000 glue (best glue ever).
For a little added fun, you could also get sanding sponges (to sand away burn marks), and polycrylic stain (for that shiny look). You could even try painting them, with diluted acrylic paint or watercolor.

Soldered LED Sign

Laser cutting strikes again! Plus soldering! I had recently gotten into soldering and basic electronics, and thought it’d be fun to introduce my colleagues to it.
Here’s the end result, an LED-backlist sign:
To be honest, there wasn’t very much crafting for my colleagues to do on this one. I laser-cut the sign, put it in the frame, explained soldering, and had a few colleagues solder each of the RGB LED wires. This instructable covers all the steps (just skip the fabric covering part).
It’d be fun to actually let each colleague make their own sign, or have them group up to create team signs. Or maybe you can come up with an electronics activity that’s better suited for company crafty hours? Please share if you do!

What else?

I will confess, I did not keep crafty hour going forever and ever. It takes some time to plan the crafts and gather supplies, so I stopped after our summer quarter ended and the interns left. The crafts I listed here are pretty much all the crafts we did.
If you wanted though, I have full confidence that you could concoct all sorts of other crafts! 3D Mascot Painting? Chocolate Making? Oh, the possibilites!
The point of my post is not the specifics, even though I delved pretty dang hard into specifics. The point is to remind the world that there are other options in the world besides beer and more beer. Over and out, friends!