It’s the Little Things

The usually quiet dirt road was busy with cars, 4-wheelers, and various farm implements passing by. People riding bicycles or walking with their lawn chairs and strollers in tow, passed by dressed in red, white, and blue garb. Everyone smiled.

The parade line-up was just a few lots down, so we were some of the first spectators to wave and cheer in exchange for candy, beads, and key chains tossed at us.

image

The route of this annual 4th of July parade goes around the dirt road encircling Clear Lake, the home of my husband’s family cabin. Each year, we, whoever is at the cabin, haul our lawn chairs out to the road to watch the 4th of July parade.

I love parades. As long as there are not clowns (most are scary!), I love a good parade. Part of the fun is to see what people consider to be parade-worthy.

Cities around the USA hold parades and huge fireworks shows at night to celebrate the birth of our nation on this holiday. People have cook outs and get together’s with friends and family.

image

At yesterday’s Clear Lake Parade, I noticed how the people on floats, in their collector cars, or on a piece of farm equipment, looked so proud and happy. This parade draws people from nearby small towns all around, and the little things are important. Everyone seemed excited.

It is in the little things that we can find so much joy. And, unfortunately, sometimes it takes a reminder to remember this.

In this culture with all the gadgets, apps, and cool stuff to occupy our time and our minds, it is easy to forget about the world outside that isn’t dependent upon an app or a gadget.

image

I am grateful that I saw this year’s parade and spend the weekend in this small town. I noticed excitement in the air, joy on faces, and people cheering, running to grab candy from the road. It felt like a throwback to childhood, a simple 45 minutes of the good life.

May we all remember to notice the little things, and be on the lookout for them. You never know when a little joy is right around the corner.

May it a good week!

 

To Thrive

I really like words. Reading, writing, learning, and considering the use of various words — I dig it.

In the song called Thrive by Casting Crowns, the lyrics say:

We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives. It’s time for us to more than just survive. We were made to thrive.

These impactful words paint a dichotomous picture. We were made for more than ordinary lives, for more than just surviving. To survive is to remain alive, to subsist, to make it through. But we were made to thrive, to flourish, to grow, and prosper. Thriving is full of excitement, life, and growth.

I notice a difference in my life, in how I feel about my life and activities, in times of survival versus times of thriving. Heck, sometimes survival is excellent, the very best option. There are definitely times where I have been incredibly grateful for survival.

But during regular days, not the life versus death kind of days, sometimes it feels like all we can do is to survive from one day to another, rushing from place to place, never enough time in the day to get everything done. Never enough time to meet everyone’s needs. We look forward to the weekend, or days off, to get off the treadmill of weekday life and to have more time to ourselves.

But to thrive is an entirely different experience. I think of times when I feel like I’m growing, I’m excited, doing something that makes an impact. I feel like I thrive when I am creating a healthy meal, when I am having dinner with an old friend, unaware of the time as it passes. I thrive in new environments, in being part of a group that is moving forward on something. I thrive on the idea that the way I relate to others makes a positive difference to them.

What makes you thrive? Do you make efforts to use your time in ways that make you thrive?

Make it a good week!

The Boredom Experiment

“Boredom: the desire for desires.” ~ Leo Tolstoy

Last week I read a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Dan Cumberland, creator of The Meaning Movement.

Dan asserts that our mobile phones may be keeping us stuck because they are always there for us; we have lost the ability to be bored, to have free time that encourages the mind to wander, feel difficult feelings and dream about our goals and values. Basically, boredom can be an opportunity. This is pretty radical! Read the post here.

Prior to reading this post last week, I knew that the upcoming weekend had little scheduled  for me and my list of “must-do’s” was relatively short. An open schedule like this is extremely rare and it felt a little uncomfortable. I found myself wanting to fill the days, to plan up the weekend.

After reading Dan’s post I decided to leave the schedule open. I told myself not to fill in every moment and to allow boredom to settle in, if it should show itself. I could not remember the last time I felt bored.

“Boredom is… a vital problem for the moralist, since half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it.” ~ Bertrand Russell

I would love to say this experiment was a smashing success.

Actually, I found myself feeling like I was forgetting something, feeling that I should be doing something productive, and feeling like I was missing something by not checking my phone every 5 minutes.

On Saturday, I shopped for spring clothes, dusted the house and swept a couple floors, working at the most relaxed pace possible (read: slow), and was finished by 2:00 pm.

My husband was out all day so I couldn’t look to him to fill my time. I read a book, looked through a magazine, and thought about topics for blog posts. This free time didn’t exactly produce boredom but it did produce some sort of anxiety about not doing more.

Scheduling time to relax, knowing that I will take an hour at the end of the evening to enjoy a book or watch a sitcom on TV, creates for me a satisfied contentment. But free time, purposefully unscheduled time on a Saturday without apps to distract me, left me feeling unsettled, in a knot. I will try the experiment again, try to allow boredom to come, meditate on it and allow myself to just be.

I wish for all of us some unscheduled time so that we remember what life was like before our apps.

Make it a good week!

Advice I would give my young self…

Lately I have been thinking about my age. Not thinking I am old or feeling close to my expiration date. But I’ve been thinking about habits and trying to make some changes.         I read somewhere that it takes 66 days or 66 times of doing something to change a habit… not a particularly easy effort.

It got me to thinking about habits I formed in my 20’s, the decade in which so much of my adulthood was shaped.

If I could go back and give my 20-something self advice that I would actually accept, here are a few things I would say…

1. Don’t fret. Truly, truly, today has enough worries of its own. You don’t need to worry about tomorrow or next week because they will arrive soon enough and take care of themselves. What other people think of you, how to handle an upcoming situation, worrying will not change a thing. The thing will happen and will usually be just fine. You can avoid wrinkles on your forehead from unnecessary fretting later in life.

2. Go easy on yourself. There is no need to beat yourself up (figuratively) for making a mistake or for saying the “wrong” thing. Most people do they best they can most of the time — and that includes you. Be realistic, don’t be a jerk, but be gentle with how you view yourself.

3. Develop good habits. Don’t wait until later. Decisions you make now about how you eat, whether or not you exercise, whether to make reading a part of your daily routine, and most other habits, will stick with you. It doesn’t get easier to develop good habits as you age. And developing them while you’re young provides more time to reap the benefits.

4. Stand tall. You are a tall woman, tall enough to touch the ground at 5′ 9″. There is no need to stand on one leg with the other bent to appear shorter. And no need to feel “less than” because you’re big. Be proud of who you are and show it with your posture. Wear high heels when the time is right. It doesn’t get easier to start later!

5. Consider gratitude. Life will bring challenges your way. People will disappoint you, and your heart will be broken a few times. But you will also have many successes, exciting opportunities, and your heart will be filled with love. Try to consider what you are grateful for every day; gratitude for what you have, for your relationships, for simple things like sunshine. It will help from falling into and remaining in negativity.

I am sure there are many more tidbits my 20-something self would benefit from but these are the few that first came to mind. What would you tell your young self, your 20-something self or your teenage self?

Make it a good week!