I am a freelance, nonfiction writer who cares about the environment, individuality, creative expression, and simplicity. I'm glad you've found my blog, and I hope you'll join in the conversation by leaving a comment. Disagreements are allowed, even encouraged, but cruelty, vulgarity, and slander is not.

The Adventure in Mystery

January 26th, 2009

In an attempt to survive and succeed, the average adult must strategically plan. Thinking ahead is sensible -- until we've gone so far that we've eliminated the wonderment of life. A good life, in my opinion, is an adventurous life.

After all, it's really no fun to "know it all". As a teen, maybe I could have guessed what Nancy Drew or one of the Hardy Boys was going to find, but I kept reading because I didn't know. How dull would the story have been if I'd read the ending first?

The sheer fascination of not knowing something defines curiosity. When we are curious, we stop and look. We ask questions. We open our minds. Without mystery, there is no curiosity and life becomes a bore.

It's the stuff that drove Lewis and Clark deep into the woods. It's what keeps the sculptor intrigued as the piece unfolds. It's what propels a child from his bed in the morning.

As clock-racing adults, we work very hard to remove this mystery from our lives. In fact, we consider it a success when all the mystery is gone. My retirement is fully planned...success. My calendar is synchronized...success. My MBA proves I'm knowledgeable...success. My vacation itinerary is properly scheduled...success.

While planning can help to calm a hectic life, it should never deaden the adventure.

Are your days over planned? Do you look at life as something to be managed or are you willing to let the story unfold?

Let it Snow

January 18th, 2009

I live in a section of the United States where snow falls in winter...sometimes.  Actually, many of the storms we get are more of an ice, snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain mixture. These storms are not picturesque illustrations of children sledding past snow-covered barns. When a storm is photo worthy, the shot must be taken quickly before the moment disappears.

We do get the occasional "Nor'easter" though. Many of my friends remember being restricted from impassable roads for three days after a 30-inch storm in 1996.  We have great memories of that event. This is why, I believe, our media embellishes every winter weather event and why the markets quickly sell out of bread, milk and eggs whenever a few inches are predicted.

We long to be snowed in. It's a chance to use those board games that otherwise gather dust in the closet. It's an excuse to make hot chocolate the old-fashioned way: with milk and chocolate. It's a cozy experience where weather actually forces time to stop the hustle - something that we humans try to do, but rarely achieve.

So when the conditions are right for an impending storm, everyone gets anxious. We complain about the media's exaggerations and everyone's fretting. I believe the anxiety is simply childhood anticipation mistaken as adult fear. Inside, we really just hope it snows like mad.

Fix It or Trash It?

January 11th, 2009

I recently asked a cobbler how much it would cost to replace the sole on my husband's dress shoes.  The answer?  About $45...more money than we paid for the shoes.  Albeit, we bought them on a great sale, but it seems that it is hard to find anything worth fixing today.

Or is it?  I began to think of the hassle of shopping, finding the right fit, the right color, the proper style. I put a lot of thought into my purchases, and I'm not anxious to re-buy the same thing so soon.

When I was young, my Nana always seemed to have a repair project in progress. I loved watching her make something new again. It felt good to rescue the item.  It felt much better than it does to toss away a good paid of shoes.

We've lived in a disposable world for long enough.  Our youth have never known a time when it was worthwhile to repair their belongings.  Do you think that time will ever come to an end?

The Land of Over-Opportunity

January 6th, 2009

Have you seen the trailer for the movie Yes Man?  In it, Jim Carrey's character is optimistically gathering information from a public billboard filled with chances to learn things like the Korean language, how to play a guitar, and even how to get a pilot's license.

My own head spins with options, ideas, and opportunities every day. These include resources for self-improvement, paths to success and chances to have lots of fun. I can learn Italian; film, edit and publish my own movie; jump up and down at an endless string of concerts; network and hobnob with peers and mentors via the internet; learn the art of handwriting analysis; adopt a pet; write a book review; the list goes on and on. Since life gets shorter every minute, I'm compelled to try more and more.  As the guru in film declares, "You say no to life, and therefore you're not living."

But as I'm running from one thing to the next, I know in my simple mind that quality and quantity are two different matters. While it is great to have so many options at our fingertips, it's too easy to say "yes" to more than can realistically be accomplished.

How do you choose which opportunities to grasp and which to let go?  

Gone by the Wayside

December 28th, 2008

Remember the little extra things you used to do? Remember that special care that was applied to everyday tasks? I was reminded of my own past while rushing to wrap a present last week. A voice in my head reminded me that, back in the day, I would dedicate the time to clear a proper workspace, cut the paper straight, carefully crease all the corners, use minimal exposed tape, dig out a matching ribbon and bow, and make the present look downright beautiful. The result was a package pretty enough to double as a decoration while it waited under the Christmas tree. This mindful energy was transferred to the recipient on exchange day as he would stop and admire the present before tearing into it.

Another reminder of extra care gone by came a few hours later. The family pulled out a board game to play. Inside the box, my Nana had written notes about two past family matches on special days complete with scorecards to show the winners. She had noted witness of a clever scenario experienced during a particularly close game. You see, she loved strategy.  She paid attention to the way one rule would effect the outcome. And she loved her family.  She paid attention to who was with her, when, and recorded their winning glory in history.

Both these examples reminded me that it only a takes a few minutes of our attention to exalt everyday experiences. Whether it be the task of wrapping a present or that of putting a game away, proper attention can only be paid if we slow down and listen to the voice when it prods, "I used to be better about this." We must teach ourselves that slowing down can produce fulfilling results, and therefore it is worth our time to give care to our tasks again.  

Is there something you used to do that has gone by the wayside during these hurried times?  Do you wish you paid more attention? How can we teach ourselves to slow down?