(A) Take what you need (Valentine’s) day.


What feels like a lifetime ago the Child and I lolloped through OAKtown placing signs all around.

We barely knew the city back then–let alone the Oakland people we’ve come to adore.

In a way, with hindsight, we did it more for *ourselves.*

In the same manner volunteering gives a helper’s high imagining others gleaning what they “needed” from our signs served to make us feel better about not being where we wished we were.


we were new Californians back then.


We created our signs and we took to the streets.

On poles .

On fences.

On trash cans.

On benches.

We left our offerings.


The other afternoon as the child and I walked Charming for the fifth time that day relaxed & she asked what we would do for Valentines day.

 I don’t really have plans.  It’s a school day so I’ll bet you’ll have a party?

She seemed disappointed and shared she’d hoped we had a tradition.


Like the misfit I am, I spent the rest of the day singing and pondering.

You see, as with our beloved Tevyetradition plays a large role in most everything we do.

We have nightly traditions (our prayers), holiday traditions (foods to familial bonding), and newly-created-as-Tornado-grows-up traditions (which I wont divulge here).

These rituals are significant.

They create positive feelings, familial closeness, and serve as a non-verbal way for me to convey my values/what’s important to me.

I hadn’t considered a Valentine’s Day Tradition (outside of  surprising her with matching heart sweaters. I’m sappy that way.) yet it quickly became clear what we could do.

What we should do.

What I long to ask you to do with us.

On this day of “love” so many love-to-HATE we’re taking to the Oakland streets. 


Blanketing, watching what transpires, and–for those of you who fretted last timetaking any remnants down later & promptly recycling.

(This *is* California after all!)


Red in honor of the day.

Created by the Tornado in honor of *her* deciding we needed a new tradition.


 Comments are open–but I ask you skip yer comment and consider making T.W.Y.N. Day papers and blanketing *your* hood!  I’ll be updating our adventures on Instagram.





I originally spied the Take What You Need image on instagram.  I’ve no idea who originally created.


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  1. says

    I love your perception of traditional values & the closeness and bond they form – made me think more highly of them, after reading this article.

  2. says

    What a great thing to do for Valentine’s Day! You’ve taken a cheesy commercial holiday and turned it into something way more important and profound. It’s really not all about romantic love that needs a special day to be expressed in the most cliched ways. Maybe it’s because of the medias forcing the idea of love like that down our throats, but year by year, I find Valentine’s Day to be more about self love and self acceptance.
    I wonder which ones of these are picked the most.

    • says

      I too love the idea of taking a commercial holiday – one during which we are encouraged to BUY, BUY, BUY – and instead making it about giving to others in a selfless (and inexpensive) way.

      And Vanessa, I’m also viewing Valentine’s Day in terms of self-love this year. I actually just posted 5 ways to say “I love you” to yourself today! We are on the same wavelength!

  3. says

    I think it would be fun to get some “secret footage” of people as they see this and take one – I bet there are lots of smiles!!!

  4. says

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this! The NHS has done this at my school before and it was a hit. Maybe I’ll have it return this year.

  5. Dawn says

    What a wonderful idea Carla :) Sounds like a wonderful tradition for you and the Tornado :) Thanks for checking up on me the other day too, you are a “forever cheerleader” for so many, I’m thankful to have you in my corner :) *hugs* and Happy Valentine’s Day to you!

  6. says

    This is awesome!
    I love that the tornado wanted to have a new tradition. My Valentine’s Day tradition started with my Dad giving me flowers every year. Now, my boyfriend makes it a week of fun activities (but never actually ON the day, because he doesn’t like the holiday and has made it his own)

    I got a valentine from a guy at school I’d never met. He was handing them out to all the girls who were standing alone waiting for something (in this case, an exam). It made my day!

  7. says

    I see these every once in a while and they always cheer me up…sometimes just looking at the sign helps me figure out what I need that day and gets me going off in a better direction.
    What a great tradition to get started :)

  8. says

    I love trying something new and after hard work and practise been.able to do it.
    There is no comfort then that, and familiarity with the same thing…but when I try something new and soon accomplish it I feel so very proud,…