Tag Archives: Adventure

Choose Your Adventure: Life

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Have you ever played a Choose Your Own Adventure type game? It’s usually a book that everyone starts reading at the same spot, and along the way you’re given a series of choices that lead you down different paths. The choices you make determine the outcome of your story. You could read the same book over and over and come up with a different ending each time.

Sound familiar? I thought it did.

Life, in its essence, is the ultimate choose your own adventure game. We all basically start the same, give or take some environmental and physical differences. Along the way we’re given choices, dozens of them a day sometimes. And the way we respond to those choices determine the outcome of our story.

You might make the choice to drop out of school or finish and go to college, you might decide to get married and have children or focus on your career, you might choose to rob a bank or work in a factory for twenty years. Nothing (aside from those pesky cops) makes any of those choices any more right or wrong than the others. But they all change the outcome of your story.

Sometimes the choices are smaller than that. Choosing to eat a salad or a candy bar, choosing to save money or buy something. But no matter how seemingly insignificant they are every choice changes your path a little.

The key is to make sure the choices you make every day are leading you to the outcome you want. If your dream is to become a doctor and you choose to work in a factory you may have misunderstood the rules of the game.

You won’t get it right all the time, and there will be detours along the way, but you have a much better shot if you know where you want your path to lead. If you know where you’re going and aim to make your choices line up most of the time you’ll get there. The saying “Begin with the end in mind” applies more than ever to this game.

You have to know where you’re going to know how to get there. So where do you want your path to lead? What type of person do you want to be? Don’t just pick at random, really think about the life you want to live.

If you want to be seen as brave and adventurous you may have to choose not to be afraid when the time comes.

If you want to be someone people see as educated and worldly you may have to choose to read a book instead of watching reality TV.

If you want to be a fitness expert you have to choose to practice what you preach.

If you want to own a business, start a blog, or travel the world you have to make the intentional choices that lead to those paths.

The really fun thing about this game is you are in complete control. Even if you round the corner and find a dragon waiting on the other side, you get to choose how to handle it.

Think about how you want to be known, pick your story, and then make sure your choices line up with it. The time is going to pass anyway, so why not make the most of it?

31 Lessons For 31 Years

It’s become a trend in the blogosphere ( which is an actual word according to my spell checker) to take a moment on your birthday and reflect back over lessons learned in the time you’ve been here. Since yesterday was my 31st birthday I thought I would follow suit with 31 things I’ve learned in these 31 years.

Note: I won’t be including things learned in the first 5 years of my life, because I feel like learning to walk, talk, and not pee myself is probably a given.

So here we go, totally random thoughts in no particular order… other than numerical.

1. Bigger Does Not Equal Better (For Me)

I’m at a point where most people want more stuff. They start moving up to bigger houses with more storage space and extra bathrooms, filling up spare bedrooms with nice sets of furniture and adding TVs to guest rooms. But I’m going the opposite direction. I want less things and more experiences. Even if we do build another house at some point it will be small and simple. I have things I would rather do with my time than take care of a big house and the things that fill it.

2. Being Positive Creates Opportunities

I’m a pretty content person. I’m sure that’s partly just my nature and partly an intentional choice I make to stay positive. But it really does go a long way toward creating opportunities. I won’t get all new agey on you, but positive thinking really is all it’s cracked up to be.

3. You Aren’t Your College Major

I graduated college with a degree in software applications programming. In layman’s terms that means Big Huge Nerd. This is definitely true, but beyond that I’m a creative. I write and draw, I design and constantly look for art in everyday things. This is something I’ve done as long as I can remember, and it’s time to stop ignoring it. The programming background helps when I work on websites, but my college major didn’t define who I am today.

4. Do Everything You’re Big Enough To And Then Some

I’ve spent far too much time being worried about what other people think and listening to the voices in my head that say I’m not one of those people who does big things. This last year especially has shown me how important it is to do what you want and do it now. You only have so much time here, don’t waste it wishing you had done more.

5. Luck Doesn’t Happen On Its Own

Wayne Gretzky had a great quote about this one – “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. I firmly believe that luck is the intersection between created opportunities and hard work.

6. Mornings Are Awesome

I wasn’t always a morning person, but I definitely have been for most of my adult life. Mornings are quiet time, the world hasn’t fully woken up yet, thoughts can float around all free and happy, and you become part of the day as it wakes up. If I sleep later than 7 o’clock I feel like I’ve missed something.

7. Travel Often

Not only is it fun to get away and see new things, but leaving your comfort zone can open up parts of you that you didn’t know existed. Go somewhere new, try a strange food, maybe walk around with an Australian accent all day because no one knows any different. You won’t regret it.

8. You Aren’t Going To Please Everybody

The only way to not have haters is to never do anything. Make the choice instead to make yourself happy, the people that matter will follow if they’re meant to. On the same note, some people will never be happy, no matter what you do.

9. If You Don’t Ask The Answer Will Always Be No

I actually wrote about this one here, and it’s still proving itself to be more true every day.

10. Eating Raw Cookie Dough Probably Won’t Kill You

Despite what my mom said. I ate some last night, and I feel fine.

11. Relationships Are Important

This one seems kind of like a no brainer, but I have a tendency to get so involved in my own life that I don’t take the time to keep up with my friends. I lost a good friend from college that way… I’m sure he got tired of me not answering the phone. Nowadays I try harder to be there, because some things you can’t erase.

12. Cats Are Jerks

Which is probably why they’re so fuzzy and adorable. But they’re still jerks.

13. Investing In Yourself Is Worth It

I don’t like spending money, especially on myself. But I’ve learned that sometimes investing in a course, conference, or just a haircut can have a profound effect on how I feel and act.

14. Everybody Has Fears

I honestly thought I was the only one who had that little voice who said I wasn’t good enough or people would think I was a fraud if I tried to do the things I wanted to do. Turns out, pretty much everybody has some version of that voice. And they’re all wrong.

15. Redbox Is One Of The Best Inventions Of All Time

Seriously, whoever decided to put movies in a vending machine was a genius. The only thing better would be a pizza oven mounted on the side.

16. Better Is Better

This is related to #1. I’ve recently learned that while more stuff doesn’t make me happier, better stuff does. And fortunately enough when you buy better instead of more you tend to spend the same amount of money in the end.

17. If It Scares You It’s Probably Worth It

In general if you find yourself uncomfortable or afraid of taking the next step you’re probably headed in the right direction. Unless you’re approaching a bear, rabid wolf, or giant cave cricket. Then you should back slowly away, perhaps using your Australian accent to confuse them.

18. My 30s Are Already Better Than My 20s

My 20s were good years, lots of great things happened – I got married, built my first house, and had a ton of fun. But as far as my self esteem and attitude towards life in general my 30s are clear winners so far. I spent a lot of my 20’s wondering if what I was doing was right or wrong, wondering what I wanted to be when I grew up, and feeling not so hot about all of it. Now I have a clearer purpose, a better sense of who I am, and better hair… I can’t explain that last one.

19. Marry Someone You Like

I don’t care how uncool it might be to want to hang out with my own husband (really, when did that become uncool?). He’s my best friend and we have fun together no matter what we do. I couldn’t imagine it any other way, and I highly recommend marrying someone you actually like to be around.

20. You Don’t Live In A Bubble

Although I wouldn’t consider myself an introvert I’ve spent years acting like I live and work in a bubble. I’m realizing now that it doesn’t matter what you do or how good you are at it, you need other people around you to succeed.

21. Consistency Matters

You become what you do every day. Do the things that will lead you where you want to go and you’ll eventually get there. Do the wrong things consistently and the grand gestures won’t matter.

22. If You Don’t Make A Change No One Else Will Do It For You

If you are stuck at a certain point in your life, spending your time unhappy and wishing things were different, you have to cause change to happen before it will. No one is going to come along and offer you a new life. Unless you witness a murder.

23. The Journey Is More Important Than The Destination

You should have a destination in mind, but don’t rush the journey trying to get there. Enjoy it, savor it, get lost a little along the way. You may end up somewhere better than you even expected.

24. Laugh Everyday

Even if it’s just at yourself. Find something to laugh at everyday and you’ll be just fine.

25. Don’t Worry So Much

It doesn’t do any good most of the time. I’m not great at this one, but I’m working on it.

26. Find Something You Love And Do It Often

When I was younger I read a lot, wrote often, sketched regularly, made cool things out of random stuff I found outside, and had a ton of fun. As I grew up I quit doing those things because they didn’t fit my new life. Now I find myself going back to the very things I loved to do growing up, and even incorporating them into my dream job.

27. Start Now

Whatever it is you want to do or be, if you start now you’ll be that much closer a year from today. The time will pass whether you start or stay where you are.

28. Do Your Best And Then Let It Go

I’m a perfectionist, if I can’t get something just exactly like I want it I have a tendency to trash the whole thing. But sometimes done is better than perfect, and sometimes the act of doing is more important than the result.

29. Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously

This whole life thing is marvelous, but unfortunately you’re not going to make it out alive. I hope you already knew that, if not I’m sorry for ruining your Tuesday. But now that you know you might as well make the most of it… have fun, laugh, play, work hard, do big things, and eat cake.

30. You Will Regret What You Don’t Do More Than The Things You Did

This speaks for itself. Base your decisions on whether you will look back at the end of your life (see #29) and wish you hadn’t been too much of a wuss to (insert awesome thing here).

31. Keep Learning Everyday

Try your hardest to learn something every day. If you pay attention it doesn’t even take that much effort. There are lessons everywhere, and there is always someone who knows more than you do. Ask questions, pay attention, read everything you can, and soak it in.

Ironically enough I wasn’t sure I knew 31 things when I sat down to write this post, but 1800 words later I guess I’ve proven myself wrong!  If you made it this far I commend you, and your commemorative lapel pin will be in the mail shortly.

Do you have any lessons to add? What would you tell you from a decade ago if you had the chance?

 

Why Did We Bring The Boat Again?

This post was meant for yesterday, in fact that’s when I wrote most of it. But the longer the day went on the worse I felt. My stomach hurt, it was hot outside, and I did five loads of laundry. The most redeeming part of the day was having an excuse to rest and read a little.

Before I go play catch-up though I’ll try to sum up our weekend ‘adventure’ for you. I’m going to leave some of it out because this post got a bit unwieldy while I was clicking away, so you can fill in any of the blanks with either sleeping, cussing, driving, or eating. It’s like Mad Libs.

If you’ve been keeping up with me as you should you know we planned to take the 4th of July weekend and go tent camping in West Tennessee, looking for some property on the river while we were over there. Special emphasis on the word ‘planned’.

We started off by hooking up the boat and loading a tent, two coolers, chairs, and a duffel bag of clothes into the truck on Thursday morning… in the pouring rain. We then drove for an hour, still in the rain, laughing at ourselves for being those people that refuse to call off the tent camping trip due to gobs of water falling from the sky. We’re pretty stubborn determined when it comes to that kind of stuff. Rain schmain.

Luckily enough, it quit raining before we got halfway there. In fact, it stayed basically dry all weekend, other than a few showers Friday night. Which was a far cry from back at the ranch, where it rained the entire time we were gone.

I started getting text messages Thursday afternoon asking if we had floated away yet, which was a tad unsettling since I honestly had no idea. I had zero phone service where we were, so checking the radar or seeing if anyone had posted a picture of the Turtle floating downriver on Facebook was impossible. (If you’re just getting here you can read all about why I’m a tad gun-shy of heavy rain now… go ahead, I’ll wait.)

I’ll save you the suspense and tell you the Turtle is still intact and in the same spot we left it this time, thankfully.

We decided to take a longer route to the state park we were staying at, so we drove up through Clifton Tennessee, which as it turns out is in the running for cutest tiny city ever. So cute in fact that some of the locals described it as Mayberry. The city literally sits on the banks of the Tennessee River, so close that if you were flying down Main Street and somehow managed to jump the little rock wall where the road ends you would land in the water.

People there (Cliftonians?) seemed to think we were a little insane when we kept talking about how nice it was to be somewhere with ‘stuff’. Probably because Clifton consists of a Main Street that is approximately 7 feet long. But unlike where we are now their Main Street is the home of a bar, a neat little restaurant, and a drug store that people actually frequent to pick up prescriptions, watch batteries, and various sundries. And I do like my sundries.

We walked around a bit and stopped for lunch at Ernie’s Smoke House, home of some of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Then we struck out towards Linden, which the hopeful little sign at the edge of town said was a short 19 miles away.

That’s when I learned my first new and unusual thing about West Tennessee: Nothing is 19 miles from anything else.

I don’t care what the sign says, or what Google Maps tells you before you lose phone service permanently. It takes an hour to get anywhere. Anywhere. If you can see it from where you are it’s probably a mirage and will disappear with a loud ‘poof’ when you get close.

But eventually, what felt like 3-4 hours later, we made it through Linden and over to Mousetail Landing State Park, where we had planned to set up camp for the weekend. There’s that word again.

The park was nice enough, but it just wasn’t the place we wanted to be. We had already decided on the way there that we wanted to look for land closer to Clifton or Savannah, instead of Linden and Lobelville like we originally thought. And staying at the park meant we couldn’t really do that with any sort of ease. You know, because it takes forever to get anywhere.

But we had a waterfront site in the primitive campground (read: zero cell service), so we set up anyway. And it was cute.

Our little campin' spot

Our little campin’ spot

For the first time setting up we did pretty good, other than having to make a run to the next town over for C batteries to blow up the air mattress. We bought the only six batteries they had at Save-a-Lot for a whopping $3 and chanted the entire time the pump was running. I just knew they wouldn’t make it through the whole thing, but they did. Pretty impressive for $.50 batteries.

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Even though the park really wasn’t our thing it wasn’t all bad. We got a little fishing in, until Marty stole my rod because his line broke. Then I just wandered about looking in holes in the ground and watching ducks. Which is what I do if left to my own devices.

We also had a great time sitting on rocks on the river bank watching the fireworks in the distance that night. As an added bonus a late night barge came through, lighting up the banks for what seemed like miles with his spotlight.

By Friday morning though we decided to pack up and cancel the rest of our reservations. We were going to take our chances and find somewhere to camp closer to the-cutest-small-town-evah.

Spoiler alert: There isn’t anywhere to tent camp in Clifton.

But we needed somewhere to park the boat while we drove all these twisty-curvy backroads, and we needed somewhere to stay that night. So after much deliberation (really it was only about 5 minutes) we decided to spring for a room at a little place a few minutes away called The Bear Inn. It caught our eye on the way in because of the dozen or so little log cabins sitting outside in a semi circle.

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The cabins were a bit out of our budget, as was the room, but we splurged because I had already realized I forgot to pack any of our medicine. I managed to bring a huge box of pop tarts, but no prescription medicine. Meaning the trip would probably be cut short anyway. So off we went to park the boat (which still hadn’t touched a body of water) and check out a hotel room.

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Definitely the best decision made all weekend. She put us in the suite at the end, which was a huge room housing a king and twin bed, a dining room table and chairs, kitchenette complete with dishes and a toaster, a big closet and bathroom, and a cedar chest. Really, this room was great. Not to sound too much like an ad, but it was clean and had just about everything we could have needed, down to a full set of silverware and a can opener.

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After a few minutes of laying on the bed staring vacantly at the ceiling we headed back out to drive some more. I think in total we spent 7 hours Friday driving around to no avail. Not only is nothing less than an hour from anything else, but apparently Google is in charge of the infrastructure, and they have failed to inform the local officials. There are an inordinate amount of roads that only exist on Google Maps. We sat at an intersection for 10 minutes at one point trying to determine if our brains were fried from the riding around, because a road on the map clearly shot out through an abandoned barn and horse gate. We gave up on that one finally.

I won’t bore you with the rest of the details, but to sum it up for you our tent camping trip consisted of one night in a tent, one night in a hotel, dragging a boat around for no reason, two properties that were already flooded (with no rain), one that didn’t exist, 15+ hours of driving, way too much eating, one really nice property that was way out of budget, and lots of frustrating moments on the side of the road holding my phone over my head and hopping about. One realtor gave us directions to three different properties, all of which turned out to be absolutely terrible… or covered in water. I should have been more specific when I said waterfront.

All in all it was a decent adventure and we still like each other. Semi-Win.

I did come out of it with this terrible stomach ache though, which is much better today but still nagging. Fortunately I’ve now determined that the culprit is eating… so if I just don’t eat anything ever again I’ll be fine. Problem solved.

I assured Marty on Sunday afternoon that I would most definitely be dead by morning, no matter how much he protested. I was certain again last night that I would cease to exist today, but I seem to slowly be getting better. I suppose it’s possible I’m a touch dramatic.

Did you do anything fun for the 4th of July? Did you eat too much and cease to be a productive member of society? I hope you at least had an exciting weekend!

I’ll be resuming a normal posting schedule this week, with some cool things coming up the rest of the month thanks to my Start Experiment starting soon!

The Importance Of Not Knowing

Last Friday my schedule changed substantially. Through a series of events I gained 40 hours a week in which I can do anything I want for the time being. I can work on building up my freelance business, I can write, walk, and take care of the nagging things that pile up when you don’t have time to do them. I also lost a substantial amount of stress at the same time.

I’m excited about what’s to come, but I’ve spent the last few days decompressing and figuring out what my days will look like now. In a happy coincidence this was also the first weekend in a long time that we haven’t had too much to do, so we were able to really enjoy it. We went to yard sales and a birthday party on Saturday and did a whole lot of relaxing between that afternoon and Sunday. There was even some fun hanging out with friends and family, which was really nice.

We also moved to the other side of the campground on Friday, to a corner spot with a bigger yard and a few trees, pictures coming soon. My office windows now look out over a creek, a gravel road, and a big open field… it’s awesome. Which is particularly nice because it looks like I’ll be spending a lot more time at this desk now. All in all it’s been a really exciting few days, and now I’m ready to get down to work.

I’m a planner. I like to plan out my day, my week, my trips, things to do on the weekend, the next 5 years, and well, you get the point. I can think of a million possible endings to anything.

The funny thing is, since we started this adventure, we really don’t know what’s going to happen next. We’re not entirely sure where we’re going to end up or what will change along the way. We know what we’re doing today, and I have some loose goals for the future, but there’s no definitive five or ten year plan. We may end up in a house again in that time, or we may stay in the Turtle for years to come. We may travel full time or we may end up taking lots of smaller trips. I don’t know what will happen with my freelance gigs, or this blog, or what other opportunities will come up along the way.

I’m starting to realize that there’s something really important about not having it all planned out. That realization solidified this morning when I read this short post by Jon Acuff about the unknown. He says that journeys where the outcome is already known are not adventures, they’re errands. And he’s exactly right.

Intentional change is important, and I think it’s something everyone should make a point of doing. Deciding where and who you want to be and taking the steps every day to get there. But at the same time I think it can be easy to become too focused on the life you’ve decided to create and miss opportunities to possibly create something even better.

We have a tendency to only dream so big. Even when the dream feels like it’s at the farthest reaches of your imagination it’s always possible that there’s something you couldn’t begin to imagine right outside the life you’re planning. It may be better or it may just be different, or it may be the same end result but the path you take to get there ends up being more scenic.

Not knowing allows you to say yes to opportunities you might have turned down because they aren’t part of the plan, it lets you veer off course and learn new things, correct your course when you realize something isn’t working. Not to mention there’s just something fun about now knowing what’s coming next.

It’s not an excuse to not do anything at all though, you can’t just float along hoping to end up somewhere great. Do things that energize you, things you love, every day. Always keep moving, but don’t worry so much about the destination.

Right now I have very little idea how things will look in a year, or between now and then, but the possibilities are really exciting. To get there I’ll keep designing, keep writing, keep trying to replace bad habits with good ones.

If you know exactly where you’re going and the steps it takes to get there that’s great, but leave some room for getting lost and ending up somewhere you could never have imagined.