The Adventure of Endings

Over the past few years we’ve been seeing brands that we love close up shop. No brand is perfect, you won’t love everything about any brand, but it’s likely that there’s at least one thing, if not many things that you’ll miss when that brand ends. It’s never easy to say goodbye to a cherished brand that you’ve loved for years, but that’s a choice we all have to make at times, that endings are part of our lives. Sometimes we choose an ending because it’s past time and not only is there no going back, we don’t want to go back. Other times we choose an ending because we want to end on a high note and have some good memories left and not drive the brand into the ground. Other times, endings happen because even if we’re not ready to give things up, other people have made it clear that they’re done and don’t give us a choice.

If an ending has to happen, in some ways it’s a lot like facing death and going through the stages of grief. You’ll have some time of denial, possibly some time of rage, some grief, and hopefully you’ll get to the point of accepting the end and maybe even being able to remember the good parts and not feel the loss so sharply. There’s no specific time limits on the process, no one can say that it took them three weeks or three years to go through the grief process and that’s the way it should be for everyone else. You have to do it in the time that you need, but fighting the process and not being willing to go through the stages you need to go through will only keep you in the process longer, and I don’t know about you, but I’d rather think about life that continues rather than life that ends for too long.

So if you’re like me and facing an ending in your life (even something rather insignificant in the scheme of life like a TV show), choose to celebrate what was and look forward to the new adventures that life is just waiting for you to find.

Reality Reflections: What is Adventure Anyway?

In looking for some inspiration for today’s blog post I came across a great quote:

“What is adventure? If a lone wolf lifts his plaintive call into the moonlight near your campsite, you might call that adventure. While you’re sweating like a horse on a climb over a 12,000 foot pass, that could be adventure. When howling head winds press your lips against your teeth, you face a mighty struggle. When your pack grows heavy on your shoulders as your climb a 14,000 foot peak, you feel the adventure. When you suffer freezing temperatures and 20 inches of fresh powder on a hut to hut trip in the Rockies, that could be called adventure. But that’s not what makes an adventure. It’s your willingness to conquer it, and to present yourself at the doorstep of nature. That creates the experience. No more greater joy can come from life than to live inside a moment of adventure. It is the uncommon wilderness experience that gives your life expectation.” Frosty Wooldridge

The sentiment here could be spoken about making victories in our lives as well.  There are tons of ways to get to victories, and tons of challenges to face in our lives.  More often it’s not a question of ‘could there be a victory’ but ‘will what’s necessary be done to achieve that victory’ or ‘is that a victory I can sacrifice for’ or ‘is that really a victory I want to achieve’?  We’re a little over 2 months from the end of another year and I don’t know about you but I’m a little disappointed by how this year has gone so far and am feeling a bit of pressure to have more victories to end out the year.  I’m not seeing a coast to the finish line this year but an uphill climb.  But I know that if I want 2020 to start off right and I want to feel OK about how this year went I need to get to work.

If you’re struggling a bit at this point, know you’re not alone and that help is just an email, phone call or Facebook message away, whether it’s a family member, friend or someone like myself who will suspend judgment on your situation and just help you overcome because my only bias is that your life has value and you’re worth the victories you could be having.  Don’t give up because you’ve only got 2 months left in the year, choose to conquer those 2 months successfully.

Reality Reflection: Intended Destinations

I subscribe to lots of inspirational sites and get lots of articles, quotes and Bible verses on a daily basis (not to mention watch cute puppy videos), I think it’s important for us to get outside perspectives and encouragement, especially with life as challenging as it can be some days. Recently I saw a quote that really spoke to me:

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.” Douglas Adams

I find this quote so interesting because it speaks the truth about so many of our life paths. Sometimes we’re really wrong about how to get from point A to point B (which is actually point F or G), and sometimes the path we take doesn’t bring us anywhere close to our intended destination. It can be really frustrating sometimes to walk the path of life, but I believe that our lives take the turns they take for a reason (sometimes because we screwed up), and with each new step on the path of life we take there’s an opportunity for us to learn something or do something or get closer to being the best person we can be.

I was also recently reminded that we’re human beings, not human doings. Yes, typically to become our best self there has to be actions taken, but as much as it’s about what we do with our lives, it’s more about the person we become through our life journey. Who are you being each day? Are you being someone you’re proud of or someone who is denying the help they need or someone who hurts others?

At the end of the day most of us want to be happy, fulfilled and loved. Some days we barely feel like we manage any of those, let alone all 3, but with a little more care, a little more focused effort, a little more teamwork, a little more wisdom, and a little more patience, I believe we all can end up not only where we need to be but also where we are very happy to be. What is your life path teaching you at this time?

A Summer for New Adventures

This week I’ve been thinking about adventures.  As kids we’re all encouraged to read and dream and be imaginative.  But as adults we’re encouraged to be professional, poised, successful, and dare I say it, boring?  What is the deal here?  Why are we encouraging our children to be creative and imaginative if we don’t use it as adults (and therefore they won’t either)?

Well I’ve had enough.  It’s time for us adults to put down those straight faces and grab up a favorite children’s book or fiction book and do a little dreaming.  What would your life look like with a little more fun?  What would happen in that job you dislike, relationship that stresses you out, and life that is constantly pursuing one goal after another?

What if, just suppose, you got passionate about your life, did something creative, had a fun hobby or decided to live your life fulfilling a dream?  Hmm?  What if you tried it, just for one day.  What if you went to work with the attitude that you never knew what could come around the corner, that each new customer or client was an opportunity to do something different and make a difference in the life of another person?  What if you went out with your partner to the food store and rather than bickering about what to and not to buy, you people watched or reminisced about the fun things you did together?  What if you stopped and took a day off from constantly pursuing that next dollar or goal, and instead went fishing or spent the day in your craft room?

What can you do to make your life come alive?  Your life is what you choose to make it, and if you choose to live a boring, constant, uninteresting life, go for it.  But I am confident that there is something better out there for you, no matter what hole you’ve fallen into, path you’ve traveled down or decisions you’ve made in the past.

I choose to live my life as a new adventure each day, what adventures will you have this summer?

The Highway of Life

The other day I was driving down a 3 lane highway and had multiple cars come up quickly behind me in the middle lane and stay behind me. I was driving a little above the speed limit similar to other cars on the road, and while there were other cars on the road there weren’t so many that they couldn’t easily move to another lanes. You’ve probably experienced this, right? That there just doesn’t really seem to be a good reason for someone to be that close to the back of your car, not moving into another available lane, not to mention the drivers who consistently weave fast through several lanes of traffic.

Having this happen several times throughout a course of several days got me thinking about how we live our lives. We could talk about the issue some people have of rushing and never being on time for things. We could talk about how fast-paced life is and how much faster some people try to live it. We could talk about the inconsiderate nature of people expecting others to just get out of their way. Today what I wanted to talk about is in line with that last one, it’s about having multiple lanes in the highway of life.

I believe that there’s almost always more than one way to get things done, to get to a destination, to become successful, to improve yourself, or to work through an issue, with the most obvious exception being that of salvation through Jesus (that’s a one-way street). I believe that we should always have a ‘plan b’ and an alternative plan or direction if things don’t go as expected (and sometimes a ‘plan c’ and ‘plan d’). I don’t believe it’s smart to rely on one source of income unless you’re in an absolutely recession proof career. I believe you can be committed to just one partner (one marriage) as long as you are both on the same page about being committed to really working things through, tackling necessary changes, talking often, and working together.

With as many resources and options as are available to us, there’s no reason for us to force others to live our way or get in line with how we do things, nor should we expect them to. We also should not feel cornered or stuck in one option and not, at the very least, be aware of the options. Our life journeys can be full and rich, or they can be filled with frustration because we tried to do things one way and only one way when the fact of the matter is life is changing at a very rapid pace that doesn’t allow us to live in the past.

I would encourage you to take a minute and consider if you’re living life trying to force others into your way of living, if you’re feeling restricted by your current life path or if you’re trying to get things done in a way that isn’t truly productive. If any of those are true, I would encourage you to look into options and start opening up your mind to alternatives that are healthier and more satisfying for you and others.

Legacies and Stories

So what’s your story?  We each have a story, it involves the places we’ve been, the people we’ve met, the people who have impacted our lives even if we’ve never met, the things we’ve gone through, the choices we’ve made and the things that have happened in the world that have impacted us.  Each person’s story is different even if we’ve lived in the same place or experienced the same things, we’re all different and react differently to different things.

But the interesting thing about stories can be found in that which we most often think about when we talk about stories: books.  Sometimes the story we tell ourselves about an event or place is complete fiction.  Maybe that’s because we’ve only experienced a small portion of the full story, maybe that’s because we don’t have all the facts, or maybe it’s because we have an overactive imagination. It’s one reason that it’s important to check your facts, gut reactions and find out as much of the story as you can before you write your story.

Your story has a beginning, middle and end.  Most of us are in the middle right now, we hope we’re not too close to the end, we have more living we want to do.  So if you find that the story you’ve been writing in your life isn’t the one that you want to finish or isn’t going the way you want it to, know that you have the ability to change the direction of the story.  You can tell a new story, or make your story all you hope it will be.  Make that choice today.

“Humanity’s legacy of stories and storytelling is the most precious we have. All wisdom is in our stories and songs. A story is how we construct our experiences. At the very simplest, it can be: ‘He/she was born, lived, died.’ Probably that is the template of our stories – a beginning, middle, and end. This structure is in our minds.”  Doris Lessing

2019: The Year of You

This year I hope will be many things for us, but what I really hope this year will be is a year for you. It’s my hope, and my goal, to make this year a year that we take the initiative, that we move ahead, that we stand up for what we want and need and what’s best for us. That doesn’t mean that we’ll exclude or not consider others, just that we’ll include and consider others less at the expense of ourselves, and with greater focus on creating all-win situations (wins for everyone).

In line with this being our year, one of the big themes that we’ll be talking about this year is that of ‘today.’ Having a ‘today’ theme means appreciating the moment, taking today for what it is, conquering challenges one day at a time, focusing on today, living today for the fullest (both for today and the future), living today and not reliving yesterday, and not leaving until tomorrow what can/should be done today.

I wouldn’t say these are resolutions, rather making a lifestyle change, choice or empowerment. Will there be change involved? Yes, because it’s not likely that you’re living as focused-and-empowered-in-the-moment as I’m hoping to this year.

So this year I’ll be focusing on today and whatever it brings, inspires, teaches, requires, motivates, empowers, or creates.  What about you?

Enjoying the Simple and the Complicated

As I’ve been thinking about the simple things of life and about taking a break, I’ve been realizing how not simple life really is. Some of the not simple things are awesome like washers and dryers and roller coasters, but some of the not simple things aren’t so great like all the chemicals that have been added to products we use and consume in our daily lives. And while over the past few years it has been slowly changing with technology, the number of people who used to be involved with bringing one product or service to fruition was quite large. The fact is we’ve done a really good job of including complications in our lives, and sometimes that’s not a bad thing.

I’m not interested in going back to a life that’s overly simple. I like being able to call half way around the world and talk with someone in moments. I like to collaborate with people in Australia and Africa as well as just a few blocks away. I like that the internet works when I need it to without me knowing the ins-and-outs of how it works. I like that I don’t have to be responsible for creating all the food I eat or the products I use. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not important to make time for the simple things.

There’s incredible value to be found in taking time for the simple things. Whether you take time to pick up and enjoy the color of an autumn leaf, you dance around in the first snow flurries of the year, you sit down beside the fire with a good book or coloring page or knitting project, or you enjoy a meal of locally grown products, they’re opportunities to slow down and to appreciate the individuality of life.

As we roll through these last weeks of summer I encourage you to take time to discover exactly how complicated life is, how many parts make up the whole, and how awesome those little parts are.

Reality Reflection: America is Awesome

As I was thinking about what to write today I discovered that National Park Week ends on Sunday.  National Park Week is a great reminder each year of the natural treasures we’ve got here in the US, and an invitation for us to not only visit them but support them too by volunteering on some upkeep and other projects at the parks.  With over 400 National Park affiliated areas around the US, there’s a really good chance that you can check out at least one in the next few months, or make one part of your summer travel plans.

Visiting National Parks as a kid with my family was definitely a highlight of the vacations we took together, especially some of the ones that aren’t household names like the Black Hills and Salem Massachusetts.  I still love getting out in nature as an adult and visiting some of these places that were discovered and enjoyed by many generations that came before me. One of the cool things about National Parks is that if you don’t want to get into the history there’s tons of great nature to explore without ever having to hear about the history side of things, but there’s lots of history if you want to get into it.

But after exploring the National Parks, you’re usually hungry, and there are some really awesome restaurants around the US to enjoy. Shows like Best Thing I Ever Ate; Diners, Drive-ins and Dives; and Food Paradise give viewers a look into some of the best and unique eats around the US. I’m always amazed when I watch shows like these because there are so many different recipes for the same food favorites and takes on classics that you could easily eat something different every day for the rest of your life and not repeat at any one restaurant (even if you might want to). There are so many chefs around America that are doing great things with food, whether you’re looking for vegan, Mexican, fried, salads, sandwiches or classics, whether you’re looking for a great sit-down meal or something on the go, that it’s impossible to give them all credit, but we can try.

I’m so thankful that we’ve got so many awesome opportunities to enjoy life and food here in America, what are your favorites?

Who is Writing the Story of Your Life?

Today I thought we’d get some inspiration from the March-born writer John Irving.  

“Good habits are worth being fanatical about.”

“With every book, you go back to school. You become a student. You become an investigative reporter. You spend a little time learning what it’s like to live in someone else’s shoes.”

“If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.”

“Half my life is an act of revision.”

“I sometimes think that what I do as a writer is make a kind of colouring book, where all the lines are there, and then you put in the colour.”

“The building of the architecture of a novel – the craft of it – is something I never tire of.”

“I write very quickly; I rewrite very slowly. It takes me nearly as long to rewrite a book as it does to get the first draft. I can write more quickly than I can read.”

As I was perusing these quotes and many other bites of insight from him, I was reminded about some important facts of life that we don’t always consider or want to consider.  Sometimes life is more about the distance, enduring and doing the work to see life through.  Life isn’t perfect and that’s something that not only keeps it interesting for us all, but also keeps us thinking, growing and discovering.  It’s really hard to get bored when every day is a new adventure or requires you to be more creative and patient after the events of the previous day.  If life really is like a coloring book, then you’ve got the opportunity to do whatever you want with the colors.  You can color your trees purple, bananas pink, dogs green and sun blue.  You can start your day when and where you want as long as you’ve got enough drive to make it happen.  What story will your life tell today?