Tag Archives: Success

Expectations

I took a lunchtime walk yesterday on the Kennebec River Rail Trail, as I usually do during the workweek.  The day was moderately sunny, although it had begun rather cloudy and certainly cold-a chilly 6 degrees Fahrenheit at my house.  It was around 30 degrees at noon.

I started out bundled up with my heavy winter coat, knit cap, and wool mittens.  I usually shoot for a 30 minute walk.  By the time I was five minutes in I had to remove my cap because I was heating up.  By the time I reached the half way mark, I had also removed my mittens, and shortly thereafter I had unzipped my coat.  I actually had worked up a light sweat by the time I got back.

Here’s the thing:  I had prepared myself for my noon walk based upon expectations I formed at 6:30 in the morning regarding the temperature.  What I should have done was check my smartphone for updated weather information prior to my walk,  instead of relying on outdated expectations.  As it turns out this principle applies to a lot of things in life: make decisions based upon reality not preconceptions.

A hand holding a thermometer in front of some icicles.

Baby, it’s cold outside! Or, is it?

Ripples In A Pond

2016. What a year, huh? We had one of the least enjoyable political seasons I can recall, and I’m not a youngster by any stretch of the imagination. We saw a divisiveness in the United States that hasn’t been seen so overtly in a long time on a variety of issues and which still continues. I admit that early in the year I was right there on social media, getting all wound up. And we saw many people pass away, some close to us and some celebrities, most recently and significant to me, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

Last spring I decided I’d had enough of the negativity. I made a conscious decision to avoid, as much as I could, politics and other such unpleasantness. Instead, I started posting jokes as an alternative to bitterness and vitriol on social media, principally on Facebook and Twitter. At first it was a bit of a whim, inspired by my antics on some long road trips with some of my fellow church members. But here’s the thing I didn’t anticipate: my daily dose of puns took off!

Now, I purposely choose some of the worst, lamest “uncle” jokes I can find or create. Judging by the reactions I get, they work. I’ve been told more than once that folks look forward to my puns. And now I’ve apparently got others doing it. Imagine that!

Sometimes things look so bleak that all you can do is laugh or cry. I choose to laugh and if possible, to get others to laugh as well. You could say that from a certain perspective my puns are a public service! Hey, if I can brighten your day, even for a moment, then I consider my efforts to be successful. In closing this final post of 2016, let me share a joke with you, so that you can share it.

There was a sea monster that kept eating Irish ships transporting potatoes to Wales, one after another, and another, and another and so on. This proves that it is not possible to eat just one potato ship!

Happy New Year!

Eating an Elephant

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

When you are faced with a large or time consuming task it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Feeling that way can lead to procrastination, or even abandonment of the task. Once that happens, you end up perpetuating the condition which created the task.

When you set out to declutter your home, don’t try to do the whole place in one day. Or even one week. Instead, I suggest that you concentrate on one room at most. You may want to break that down even more.

If you are working on your kitchen, start by clearing one counter and either put things away or get rid of them. Then move on to your junk drawer (come on, you have one, so do I and everyone else). And that’s how you proceed-one metaphorical bite at a time!

One bite at a time!

One bite at a time!

Best Laid Plans and So On

Sometimes, things just don’t work out the way we planned them. I think we’ve all been there at one time or another. In all likelihood, we will all be there again at some time. That’s just how life is.

Recently, I was making an Easter display for church. It would have been a wooden frame eight feet by eight feet, sized to fit between two columns. It would have been covered in heavy craft paper and painted to resemble a stone wall with Jesus’ empty tomb.

I got about half way through the project and realized how badly it was turning out. Trust me, I know junk when I see it, not to mention when I create it. I ended up scrapping the project rather than display something truly substandard. The thing is, I could see the end product very clearly in my head. Unfortunately, there was a disconnect between my head and my hands.

When this happens to your plans, whatever they may be, there are two choices as I see it. You can either keep chugging along with something that isn’t going to work, or you can alter your plans. Sometimes this even means abandoning your plans and moving on.

Being well prepared helps but is no guarantee.

     Being well prepared helps but is no guarantee.

Five Myths About Simplicity

1.    Simplicity means I will live in an empty home.

Oh, there are days when I wish this one were true!  I have been divesting myself of excess  possessions for a couple of years now, and I am nowhere near done.  I doubt I ever will be because this process is ongoing.  If something new comes into the house then something old must leave (generally).  But an empty home?  Not even close to the mark!  The idea is not to empty your home and live in a glorified packing crate, but to retain those things in your home which add to the quality of your life.  Anything else is nothing more than a distraction that needs to be eliminated.

2.    Simplicity means I have to give up my dreams.

To the contrary pursuing simplicity enables one to pursue dreams.  Think about it.  If you are constantly dealing with stress inducing elements in your life, you are naturally going to concentrate on mitigating those elements.  But what if those elements were eliminated instead of being mitigated?  Would you not then have more freedom to pursue things which bring you joy?  Joyful things could be any number of creative or contemplative activities.  The important thing is that you would be able to pursue that which bring you joy, whatever it is.

3.    Simplicity means giving up luxuries.

Okay, that one’s just wrong.  What I see as a luxury is not necessarily the same as what you see as a luxury.   That being said there is nothing wrong with luxuries per se.  Simplicity does not mean living an ascetic life of deprivation and self-denial.  Seriously, how does that ever get fun?  Rather, simplicity means eliminating the junk-metaphorical and otherwise-from your life.  Whatever is left over afterwards is basically the cream of the crop.  Isn’t that what comprises a luxury, something that is definably better?

4.    Simplicity means be frugal.

Simplicity is not about frugality.  When it comes to money, simplicity is about spending consciously and setting priorities. It’s about recognizing the things you really value and spending your money only on those.  It’s about giving up the need to buy something just because people around you feel you must have it.  What and how much you spend your money on is not what matters, but what you get in return for that spending.  The key is to analyze what motivates your spending. If it comes from within or satisfies a compelling and genuine need it is the correct decision.  If it comes from the need to show or be seen, then it’s not.

5.    Simplicity means thinking in absolutes.

“Absolutely” not true-wink wink, nudge nudge.   Seriously, if you allow yourself to think only in absolute terms, your brain will rust up and stop working properly. There are very few things in this world that are only black and white, and I’m not talking about penguins and zebras.  In the pursuit of simplicity, as with so much of life, the ability to observe, analyze, and act is more important than adhering to some arbitrary set of standards.  In other words, you have a perfectly good brain so why would you let some outside-imposed standards stop you from using it?

Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.

Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.