Week in Review – December 9, 2018

I am working on my weekly review & planning session and realized there is much here that others might find interesting so I’m going to try out a new regular Sunday (or Monday or so) post as a way to share some of that. The good stuff comes from reflection questions about what I learned and what I created.

This week, I learned about some really interesting topics.  Some were news to me. Others were more of an exploration of interest. And some were trying to figure out how to do things.

WordPress released a new update: WordPress 5.0, or “Bebo.” I spent some time reading about it before using it and tried the Twenty-Nineteen theme that came with the update. I decided I can quickly get used to and will probabl like the Gutenberg editor, but I am not ready for the new theme. It needs more customization than I want to learn to do right now. 

My youngest informed me that giraffes were originally called cameleopards. It stuck with me because of how she mispronounced it, which still gets me laughing. I wonder if I can get her to record it — it sounds so much more scientific and elegant than just saying camel-leopards.

My dad visited for a bit. It turns out he’s switched to science news in lieu of politics and I don’t blame him. As I would expect, he prefers the weird science, the mysteries. So he told me a lot about how insects are disappearing around the globe and that it’s kind of scary both from considering what might be causing it, and considering what might happen if their numbers dwindle too low.

He was also in awe of a story he read about an earthquake that originated near Madagascar and went around the world. The way Dad told it, researchers held onto the report in hopes of being able to explain it when it was released. Eventually, he thinks, they decided releasing the report was more important than an explanation, in part because they didn’t have one.

My sweetheart and I talked a bit about earthworms, which I posted about a few days ago. Click the link if you’re curious about what they do in winter.

My middle kiddo told me she’d read that China is holding millions of people in concentration camps. That kind of horrified me so I went in search of facts and found this

Lastly, I discovered keyboard shortcuts in Google Calendar. My favorite this week was using “g” to go to a specific date. Much faster than clicking the arrows in the mini calendar to get where I want to go!

I hope you get to have interesting conversations this week as well!

What do Earthworms do in Winter?

I wondered aloud this morning what earthworms do when the ground freezes. Do they slow down and go into a hibernation of sorts like some frogs? Do they burrow down deeper than the frost can reach? Or do they just die?

Since no one at the table knew for sure, we turned to Google and learned a bit.

Turns out that some of them do burrow deeper than the frost. Some of them die in the cold.  However, eggs are protected beneath the ground in sacks or cocoons that protect them from freezing or drying out in winter. They hatch in the spring.

I also learned that some worms can grow up to over six feet long. Worms essentially eat dirt. And most species in North America are invasive. I had no idea the damage they can do!

Knowledge is power. And sometimes, it’s just interesting!

The Fool’s Journey

My last post was about the value of being a Wanderer. Today I’m thinking about the life of a Wanderer. See, for years, I expected it would be utter chaos. How could I get through life without following a detailed plan? I’d be all over the place and never accomplish anything. There’d be no consistency, no progress, nothing worthwhile.

My road trip this past summer changed my mind even though it wasn’t really wandering. We did have a plan and a timetable. But we talked about how we wanted more freedom next time. And it got me thinking about how little planning one could get away with in their travels and in their life. The answers surprised me.

One of the reasons we wished for more freedom on our trip is that there were places we went to that were way more interesting than we had expected. We wished we had more time to explore them. A Wanderer has that freedom. There will be times in the life of a Wanderer when it looks like no progress is being made. They aren’t going anywhere. Really, they’re busy experiencing where they are. Or examining minute details of the landscape to learn more about it. Or maybe resting from (or for) a flurry of activity. Just because the steady progress of the Tourist or the Adventurer isn’t what you see, doesn’t mean there’s no progress at all. The hare might have lost the race to the tortoise, but he also enjoyed the path he was on and rested when he felt the need.

“Losing, in a curious way, is winning.” ~ Richard Bach, The Bridge Across Forever

Another thing I realized was that even a Wanderer will have routines and habits that help them along their path. When we were traveling, even if we’d had no itinerary, we’d still prepare for the day ahead. We would never have taken off to the next destination without tearing down camp and taking it with us. Of course, there’d be no point in tearing down if we were staying another night. There is a natural awareness of what is needed for just the very next step in the journey and no real need to try and prepare for all the unknowns ahead.

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Some Wanderers might totally wing it. Traveling with kids, as I do in life, I preferred knowing a little about what was ahead of me. When we were traveling, I would look at the map to see what was ahead even if I didn’t know where we’d stop. I also checked the weather to see if we might need to stay in a hotel instead of camping. The lovely thing about traveling through life is that you don’t have to commit to one style of traveling. Wanderers can borrow tools and techniques from Tourists and Adventurers and still wander their own path. And today’s Wanderer can always choose to be a Tourist or an Adventurer tomorrow.

“There’s still time to change the road you’re on.” ~ Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven

No way of traveling through life is inherently better than the others. We can always choose something different. The important thing is that we recognize how we are traveling today and that we allow ourselves to be fully present on whichever path we find ourselves. That way we’re less likely to trip over anything.

I’m going to go wander a while. What path are you on today?

Choose Your Own Adventure

Have you ever had the pleasure of reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book? My friends and I loved them when I was little. There was joy in the unpredictability of them. As I grew up, the thrill of surprise lost its appeal. I preferred efficiency, formulas, control. Or so I thought.

Lately, Allegra has been comparing my choices to those of a traveler. One of her favorite analogies is that there are three types of travelers through life, regardless of the path they’re on. One, the Tourist, knows exactly where they are headed, how to get there, and how long it will take. They have an itinerary ready.

The Adventurer, on the other hand, has chosen a destination and knows how to get there, but hasn’t planned much beyond that. Timetables aren’t important to them – they know they’ll get there eventually.

Then there is the Wanderer. They have no idea where they will end up or when, and that’s perfectly fine with them. The joy of travel for them lies in the unknown.

I spent most of my life thinking I should be a Tourist. It seemed like the only way to succeed in life. Everything I read about success and productivity seemed to be telling me that I needed a goal, a plan, a deadline, and the will to work at it every day. Even being an Adventurer sounded better than being a Wanderer. At least Adventurers know what they want to do, where they want to go. I believed there must be something wrong with the Wanderers in life. They spent their time just flitting from one thing to another without any particular goal in mind, no drive to accomplish anything. If they were happy or successful, it must be because they were foolish or lucky. Really, who could live like that?

“Not all those who wander are lost” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

The answer is me. In fact, I’m happiest when I am Wandering. Exploring. Being curious about where I end up when I take this path or that path. Finding out what this road is like, or that one. What has always made that way of life difficult for me is not that it’s the worst of the three approaches to life. It’s not. None of them are. There is no inherent value to how we travel through life, only the value we assign our choices.

No, what has made it difficult for me is simply the belief that I should be on another path. I have never been able to keep my mind on my own path for long, and so I haven’t been able to follow any one path long enough to get anywhere. When I am Wandering, instead of enjoying the journey, I am chastising myself and thinking that I need to cut across to a path with a destination. Or an ETA. Or both. So I get out my tools and I set goals and create a plan and declare, “There! There is where I’m going to go!” Then once I have an itinerary, I look back to the overgrown, unexplored, roads less traveled and I long to be there instead of where I am.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
~ Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

I try to motivate myself to follow the itinerary. I really do. I understand the value of being a Tourist. “Bloom where you’re planted,” I remind myself. “Make the best of it.” And for a while, I can do it. And it works! I move forward, sometimes at a pace that astonishes others. Usually, I’m even mostly happy or at least content when I follow my itinerary. At the very least, I feel like I fit in.

Eventually, though, my wanderlust for life takes over and I go back to moving through life without a destination, without a timeline. Sadly, I’ve never managed to enjoy that for very long either, because I always thought it was the worst way to travel through life. I saw it as the fool’s
journey. The one people look at longingly, wishing they had the nerve to go on while they simultaneously condemn the fool on the road for being lazy, flaky, worthless.

“And may the road less paved be the road that you follow” ~ Jason Mraz, Have it All

It’s been a big deal for me to realize that wanderers and explorers of all kinds are necessary and always will be. They are the ones to find new ways to get from here to there. By taking the lonelier road, the Wanderers are the ones who expand the world for everyone, the ones who forge paths for others to follow.

That doesn’t mean I need to be a creative genius to follow my own path. I don’t need to be a famous innovator and create a new path. I also don’t need to follow a set itinerary or do what everyone else is doing in order to add value to my world. I add value just by mindfully going in whatever direction I choose for as long as I like, and sharing what I find with others.

Because isn’t sharing ourselves with others one of the greatest successes in life?

On Not Being an Expert

I’ve fought this idea of writing, especially writing a blog, for a long time because I don’t feel special enough to take up space on the internet. I am learning that how I feel has everything to do with my thoughts and little to nothing with reality. So I’m writing. I suspect that if I keep at it long enough, I may eventually think and feel worthy. Probably not. And this post explains why, at least in part.

I started this website for a very different reason than I am maintaining it, though the end result looks much the same with some subtle differences. I started the website with a plan to monetize it and create income for myself. At some point, I realized that I wasn’t that worried about money and I just wanted the website as an easy way to share the variety of things I am doing all in one place.

Sooon after it launched, my work on the site ground to a halt. Turns out that I am a lot more worried about sharing myself than I am about making money. Baring my soul online is kind of terrifying. I keep unwittingly trying to walk away from it by not doing the work. If I haven’t written anything because I’ve been “so busy” then there’s nothing to share and no risk.

What keeps drawing me back, though, is the strong desire to help people. This is the best way I can think of to try and do that for now. I can count the people I stay in regular touch with on my fingers & toes. I am not an expert on anything and don’t really want to be. In so many ways, I am just like you. NO one’s asking me to teach or speak or write books or any other way that can get my ideas out there.

Still, I want them out there. So here we are.

I get excited about ideas even though I don’t yet have the skills or resources to bring them to fruition.
My experiences and insights often can be helpful.
I am learning to create a life for myself that I love — rather, to love the life I’ve created. It’s something I believe anyone can do.

This morning, I was fussing to myself about my fears. I am terrified to share all these things because there will be people who don’t like what I have to say. There will be people who think I’m wrong. There will be people who think I’m right, but my ideas aren’t right for them. There are so many things that could go wrong, I thought.

Who am I to think I have anything worth sharing?

Then I remembered. I am who I needed to hear from 5, 10, 20 years ago.

I know that deep down, we all have more in common than we realize. So I am going to continue putting myself out there for the people who will connect. For the people who will read my words and have something “click” so they can move past a sticking point.

They’re out there, and there may not be many. I think there are a lot of blog readers looking for experts. For professionals. For research and studies and science. For proven results. For gurus. I am none of those.

But that’s the point. Because if you’re reading this, you probably aren’t either. And if you can see that someone like me — who is someone like you — can be so enormously pleased with a “mediocre” life, then maybe you will realize that you can do the same thing.