#5TF: Technology Time-Out

Five Thought Friday Challenge:  Week 4 – July 15 – July 21, 2017

I missed 4 phone calls and I don’t know how many text messages this week – on purpose – and it was so nice!

Earlier this year I read a little book called How to Live a Good Life by Johnathan Fields. The book is chock full of practical exercises to help you fill your life buckets (and ultimately achieve a better quality of life). I remember thinking at the time how much fun it would be to do the exercises with a group and after listening to my mom philosophize for a solid week about the meaninglessness of life when you are over 65, I decided this was the perfect intervention. I also know my mom well enough to know that if I hand her a book, it will take up residence in her to-do basket, never to be looked at again. So I printed the introduction and first chapter of the Vitality Bucket (the area she scored least on in the Snapshot360™ Online Quiz) and we started on the Good Life Project together.

One thing I really enjoyed this week was being unplugged. The Good Life Project chapter we’re working on now is about being aware and intentional. One of my favorite quotes from the chapter says:

Everyone and everything else can wait. And if they cannot, which is almost never a reflection of true need, but rather an expectation you’ve trained into others, you process them quickly, without distraction, having made an intentional decision, then move back to your big thing…

I have trained a lot of people since moving back home. I’ve trained them to call/text me when they need answers from Google, when they need a few dollars for gas, when they are having a meltdown over something trivial, or when they need something done immediately but are too tired, bored, occupied, or ___ (you can insert almost anything here) to do it for themselves. I did all of that and I did it by simply picking up the phone every single time it beeped. Well not this week! When we were busy doing something for ourselves, including simply relaxing, I ignored the phone. Once I even realized that I had left it in the car all afternoon!

I am grateful for tomatoes! Okay, I suppose I should rephrase that to say that I am grateful for the wonderful crop that our garden has brought us this year (despite some problems with end-rot and pests). I had no idea that we’d have so many beautiful, healthy, delicious tomatoes and I’m overjoyed by the fact that we likely may not have to buy canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, or spaghetti sauce all winter long.

I need to let go of trying to change other people’s unrealistic expectations of themselves and others. This is always a work-in-progress but specifically this week it relates to the fact that my mom thinks a happy life is a busy life and by busy, she means constantly cleaning, maintaining, and sometimes even acquiring things. It’s sad because the meaninglessness she’s been feeling lately is directly related to not having the energy to take care of her stuff. Despite my best efforts to explain that 1) she has a sinus infection and is supposed to be resting and 2) it’s okay not to do something every day, she just plugs her ears (figuratively speaking) and refuses to hear me. Worse though, she expects everyone around her to want to be just as busy and if they aren’t there’s something wrong with society as a whole. It’s hard to talk to someone who won’t listen so I simply need to stop (and hope that she gleans some of this messaging from our Good Life Project endeavor).

We made progress on putting up veggies for winter. We cut 2 dozen ears of peaches and cream corn off the cob on Saturday, put away 7 quarts of squash, carrots, and okra, and are stewing a bushel of tomatoes for the freezer today. I’m beginning to think we need a bigger freezer! We also gave ourselves a haircut, earned $52 for our vacation fund from a random side hustle off Gigspot, and took a picnic lunch to the lake.

The funniest thing that happened this week is a toss up between our trip to the lake and Angie’s first encounter with a horn worm. On the latter, I’ve never seen anyone jump backwards as far as she did when I pulled the giant green globby worm off of our tomato plant, where it had successfully sheared the leaves off one stem and the faces off a half-dozen green cherry tomatoes. She probably would have screamed too if she hadn’t been struggling to regain her balance. As our appointed worm relocation agent, it’s Angie’s job to dispose of them. Up until now, this has meant tossing tiny cabbage worms in the creek and hoping they never return. When she saw the horn worm, she immediately shook her head and told me there was no way she was touching it much less tossing it anywhere. So I am now a worm murderer. My current body count stands at 2.

As for the lake, well…it definitely wasn’t the peaceful day we were anticipating. Picture instead what would happen if the TV shows Cops and Naked and Afraid ever made a crossover episode. Yes, we saw a “full moon” during the broad daylight (and it was not pretty!) and a man running around gangster style telling everyone he was going to “bust them in the head”. We should have known better than to even park the car when the attendant came flying over in his golf cart and said to us – complete strangers – in one run on sentence, with what looked like a grin on his face, “Metro PD is on the way, there’s a guy tripping out over there, threatening everyone, did you pay the fee? great day to be at the lake, have fun!” I believe this was the most excitement he’d seen in his entire post-retirement career as a volunteer park attendant. For us, it was just another day in the South.

#5TF: Good Friends

Five Thought Friday Challenge:  Week 3 – July 8 – July 14, 2017

We spent much of this week in Florida visiting with our friend, Suzanne. It was a quick trip (and a long drive) but totally worth it! It was good to get away for a few days and unwind on the beach, in the company of someone who shares our minimalist beliefs and values. We had such a wonderful trip that it’s hard to narrow it down to just five thoughts, but here goes…

One thing I really enjoyed this week was paddling Stump Pass. Angie pulled her paddleboard out from under the bed before we left and brought it along for the trip. Thankfully, it’s an inflatable board, otherwise I have no idea where we would have put it in our tiny little car. Suzanne and I rented kayaks from Hooked on SUP (the outfitter where we originally took SUP lessons 4 years ago). They now have a rental kiosk at Stump Pass State Park, one of the few places in the area that we have never paddled. The wind was blowing 8-10 MPH but somehow we managed to paddle into it and make our way to the cove where we had a picnic lunch and watched a manatee swim by.

I am grateful for good friends. Suzanne lives less than a mile from the beach and graciously allowed us to stay in her guest room during our trip. She bought us dinner (delicious fish tacos at Sharky’s On The Pier) and invited us to her dad’s birthday party. We were very happy to see her parents again and enjoyed having lunch with them. Over the 2 1/2 days that we were there, we talked, we laughed, we ate, we swam, we paddled, we dreamed, and we just enjoyed each other’s company. We are both very grateful for the hospitality and for the privilege of having such a wonderful friend.

I need to let go of my homesickness. Every time we come back from a trip to Florida, I feel sad. I miss our life there…our friends…our trips to the beach…the slow pace of everyday living. I never want to let go of the dream of someday going back home but in order not to miss out on our life today, I have to let go of the angst I have about not being there now.

We made progress on our 2017 Happiness Project Bucket List by taking a paddle trip and finding another letterbox. We also stayed true to our goal not to buy anything new (unless absolutely necessary). Before leaving for the trip, we had searched online for a life vest for Angie. It’s a requirement in FL that you have a life vest on your paddleboard at all times. We didn’t want to buy a new one just to use a few times this year, yet we knew we needed one, so we opted to wait until we got to FL and check local stores there. As luck would have it, Suzanne had just purchased a life vest for $5 at Goodwill the very day we arrived and we were able to borrow it for the paddle trip. She also helped us out by giving us her old printer. Our printer was on it’s last leg and we were undecided on whether to buy one or use the temperamental one in our apartment’s office. Again we got lucky that Suzanne had just replaced her printer and was going to give the old one to Goodwill.

The funniest thing that happened this week (besides Suzanne trying to paddleboard, Angie and I getting lost looking for tacos in Chattanooga, and Caesar falling in love with a cat named Sue at the boarding kennel) happened while we were waiting for our kayaks at the rental kiosk. The couple that had rented ahead of us had two young boys (probably around 9-10 years old). They had just pulled away from the launch point when we heard one of the boys screaming at the top of his lungs, “Alligator! Alligator! ALLIGATOR! Shark!” The man at the kayak stand ran down to the shoreline to see what was going on. (There are no alligators in the ocean, by the way.) He returned a few minutes later laughing. A manatee had popped its nose up out of the water beside the boy’s kayak. Having never seen a manatee, he freaked out. When we got back from our paddle trip, the rental guy asked if we’d seen any wildlife. I told him that we saw a manatee in the cove. He smiled and said, “You mean an alligator.”

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