Life’s What You Make It

After letting over 100 arrows fly into the lake, tonight I landed a carp. Sports are not my forte, so it was a big deal to score this first success at bow fishing. I’m so thankful for the ones who patiently instructed me.

Success is empowering.

I believe in going after success in what I care about. My dad has one line he always says when we have a career-related question: “If you do what you love, you will get energy from doing it.” I’m a fan of synergy, so I’ve tried to follow this sage advice.

I have very few assets and my life is far from “in order”,  but can you guess what people say to me every week? “You have such a great life.” “I wish I had your life.” I did absolutely nothing to win this life. I just followed my interests and left the rest up to Jesus.

Leaving the rest up to Jesus is a fantastic way to de-stress, did you know that? There’s a place in the Bible where He says, “Don’t worry about what you will say when you are called onto the witness stand. I will give you my words to say.” I think that goes for living your life as well. If the Creator of the world is really the creator of the world, He does not need earthly help to accomplish his plans.

I’ve been transforming my life recently. My culture has a strong flavor of affluence, technology, social norms and workaholism but I’ve decided this is not normal. If it was normal, it would leave us feeling at rest. But we are not at rest.

So I am identifying stress in my life and weeding it out.

First to go? Anything I have not used in 3 years. I have too much stuff! I don’t need it. I don’t use it. “Goodbye to you….”

Also, it isn’t normal to communicate on 7 different platforms. This is something that has been birthed in the last three decades. How has something so young become more normal than the face-to-face communication that worked so well for the past several millenniums? It stresses me out to check multiple places for messages about weekend plans! For me it enough to have three mainstream options: phone, text and email. I don’t have social media messaging on my phone. It feels good to be uninterrupted by notification signals. I’m not apologetic, because you know, my front door is always open!

Next, over-commitment. It is not normal to race from place to place. It destroys focus. I cannot have a meaningful conversation if I’m worried I’ll be late for the next meeting. I am practicing saying “I would love to, but no.” I’ve set aside one day of the week as “family day.” It feels good to have no question about what I will do on that specific day.

Simplicity is a good way to fight stress.

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So what about doing what I love? It’s a challenging goal, but I’m trying. I’m self-employed in multiple  fields, which suits my personality. I’m growing ever closer to my goal of moving into a tiny space. I’m making an effort to carve regular space for myself to create art.  There’s one thing money can never buy, and that’s time.

In order to make the most of time, I need energy. And in order to get energy… you guessed it, I’m choosing to do what I love. I’m choosing to identify social norms that are not normal, and weed them out.

I’m choosing to celebrate the good people in this nation who are making a difference by doing what they love. Success is empowering.

Joy is contagious.

And the catfish from our fishing expedition has finally stopped flopping in the sink, so I’m gonna go filet it and bread it with  Cheez-It Grooves crumbs and fry it in a big round pan. Don’t worry, I watched a YouTube video about how to use a filet knife, so it will be perfectly safe.

In the meantime, you could check out this article about a handful of men who opened a restaurant which employs ex-cons. They believe in change.   

Hollywood Restaurant Giving Ex-Cons A Chance At Redemption

Things to do…. (with kiddos)

Summer is, like, 53 hours away, folks!! ***cue screaming***

And if you are 12, and living in smallville like I was when I was 12….. or have kiddos who are 12 and don’t have a clue what to do…. here are my top 1o free summer adventures, country style.

1) Get WET!!!

Go swimming. Go creeking with buckets and see who can catch the most species of creepy-crawlies. Have a water-balloon war. Make a slip-n-slide out of a smooth tarp or a sheet of plastic (make SURE the area is obstacle-free!)….. add soap for extra speed.

2) Learn a new backyard sport.

Can-jam, ultimate Frisbee, badminton, sand tennis, zoogle, hula-hooping, jump rope, four-square, rip-stick, unicycle….. come on, don’t even try the “I know them all” excuse 🙂

3) Go fishing.

Free anywhere in this state, as long as you’re under the age of 16.

4) Bond with the cat (or dog).

Teach him a new trick. Dress him up in a ridiculous outfit (guaranteed to bring laughs….. trust me!). Take him to see a senior friend who misses their own animals.

5) Play with ice.

Have an ice-cube melting race. Slide down a hill on a block of ice (yes, I’ve done this). Stuff an oversized tee-shirt into each of several containers, fill with water and freeze, then have a race to see who can thaw the shirt and put it on first. Make popsicles.

6) Experience nature.

Plant something. Walk barefoot. Climb a tree. Build a fort. Catch fireflies. Have a mud battle and see who comes out dirtiest. Lay on a blanket at night and see if you can find the North Star (and while you’re at it, count the satellites).

7) Go crazy with COLORS.

Draw a mural with sidewalk chalk. Make your own face paint out of lotion (thick, super-creamy works best), cornstarch, and a tiny bit of food coloring (don’t make the colors too bright, or it will stain!). Ask to decorate someone’s car with window crayons (you can make your own out of pieces of bar soap)……or decorate their house windows… but that would be, you know… a little more boring. Paint a picture on a huge piece of poster board or cardboard and hang it up for the world to see.

8) Strike it rich.

Have a marathon to see how much lost change you can find in one outing. Create and record your own music video or drama. Clean out your room and have a yard-sale.

9) Enter a reading contest.

Check with your local library or bookstores. Cool prizes are usually involved 😀

10. Cheer someone up.

Pick flowers and hand them out at a retirement home. Bake cookies and take some to your neighbors. Make dinner for your family. Write a loooooong letter to someone overseas. Call your grandmother and tell her 5 reasons why she’s awesome.

So….. what were your favorite free things to do as a kid??