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Archive for January, 2016

Making 2016 a G.R.E.A.T. Journey

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The New Year is already two weeks old.  My birthday was just the other day.  Those facts mean it is time for me to do some thinking and planning to make 2016 a great journey through life.  A good journey involves some plans and destinations as well as a bit of spontaneity and serendipity as well as lots of nature.  For some, each year’s journey starts by making resolutions. I do not.  As others have said, if you are really wanting to make a major change in your life, why wait for a new year.  Just start the adventure!

TearsGoals and plans for a new year make more sense.  But, of course, those need to be realistic and broad enough to not just give you a chance to fail.  You know, I will be more active in the new year rather than I will go to the gym an hour every day.  One missed weekend at the gym and you are a failure vs. having an off weekend.  I tend to agree with Mma. Ramostwe, the main character in Alexander McCall Smith’s series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.  She basically says that humans tend to do what they do, over and over again:

“The trouble with plans, she thought, was that they tended to be expressions of hope. Everybody, it seemed, felt that they should have a plan, but for most people the plan merely said what they would like to happen rather than what they would actually achieve.  Most people did what they wanted to do, whether or not that was what their plan said they should do.  So plans were useful only in revealing what people wished for. If you wanted to know what they would actually do, then the only way of finding out was by watching them and seeing what they did.  Then you would know what they might do in the future—because most people did what they had always done.”  

All this means is that as my new journey begins, I am not making any specific plans.  I made some last year:  blog more (did not), read more (did), travel (did), eat better (did some, but not consistently) and complete various household projects (did a few).  This year, I still have the same basic projects and am hopeful I will be more productive than last year.  My plan is to focus more on attitude and perspective as well as on enjoying the adventure.  These are the real factors that can determine whether 2016 will be a G.R.E.A.T. year or not.

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Basically, I know my year will be G.R.E.A.T. because I commit myself to following the best path possible through the new year: 

GRATITUDE:   There is always something to be grateful for or a grateful way to look at whatever happens. For example, rather than being bummed that I was in a fender bender right before Christmas, I am thankful that no one was hurt and the older gentleman who hit me had insurance.  I always keep a gratitude journal but plan to be even more proactive in finding ways to appreciate all going on around me.  And I will share my appreciation and gratitude with others.  Gratitude—like laughter and happiness—can be contagious!  I vow to acknowledge and voice gratitude frequently!

reflection 5REFLECTION:  Looking back over what has happened, what worked and what didn’t is the true heart of learning. The old adage about experience being the best teacher is only half right.  It is easy to do dumb things over and over again.  What really matters is reflecting on the mistakes, outcomes, successes to become more conscious of the consequences, of the changes or action needed to improve the future.  Without reflection there is no real learning. I vow to reflect on each day and its lessons every week!

EXPECTATIONS:  It is rather easy to go through each day, week, even month just doing the norm, making it from morning to night and then starting all over again.  Something to celebrate surfaces when meeting or exceeding expectations.  Setting those expectations is the key. They cannot be set so high that they can never be reached, but not so low that they do not off the challenge to do more, to push beyond the comfort zone.  Realistic expectations lead to accomplishments which lead to celebrating each small step toward success.  Clear expectations lead to productivity rather than just activity.    I vow to have realistic but definite expectations!

IMG_8534IMG_8526ATTENTIVE:  Too many days are spent on auto-pilot, just going through the routine, getting from point A to point B.  When I was working full time and putting in way too many hours a week, chasing deadlines, it was too easy to never notice the little things that really do matter.  The smile or tear of a colleague, the gorgeous clouds, the rainbow amidst the storm, the stranger who holds a door for you or needs help picking up packages.  Of course, being busy is not the only reason the details—especially of nature—are too often overlooked.  The other day I actually did not notice blooming camellias on the bush outside my door until I was returning home several hours later.  I vow to be more consistently attentive this year! 

TIME:  168.  That’s how many hours we each have a week.  The trick to effective time management is recognizing that and using the available time strategically.  That strategy involves being conscious and deliberate with the use of time.  That means fewer hours mindlessly dozing in front of the TV or missing fun opportunities because time has been mindlessly wasted on doing not much of anything.  I vow to use my time purposely!

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My 2016 will be a grand adventure.  What are your plans for the new year?

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QUOTES ON LIVING A GREAT LIFE

“If you don’t get everything you want, think of the things you don’t get that you don’t want.”   Oscar Wilde

“Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”  Voltaire

“If you don’t think every day is a good day, just try missing one.”  Cavett Robert

“It’s so hard when I have to, and so easy when I want to.”  Annie Gottlier

“Oh, my friend, it’s not what they take away from you that counts.  It’s what you do with what you have left.”  Hubert Humphrey

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”  Winston Churchill

“There are exactly as many special occasions in life as we choose to celebrate.”  Robert Brault

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”  George Santayana

“So often time it happens, we all live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key.”  The Eagles, “Already Gone”

“He who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition will waste his life in fruitless efforts.”  Samuel Johnson

“Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures.”  H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“Every thought is a seed.  If you plant crab apples, don’t count on harvesting Golden Delicious.”  Bill Meyer

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.  One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.”  F. Scott Fitzgerald

“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”  Mahatma Gandhi

“Anyone who doesn’t believe in miracles is not a realist.”  David Ben-Gurion

“There is a saying among prospectors: ‘Go out looking for one thing, and that’s all you’ll ever find.’”  Robert Flaherty

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”  Buddha

“I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.”  Anne Frank

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf.”  Jon Kabat-Zinn

“A strong positive mental attitude will create more miracles than any wonder drug.”  Patricia Neal

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.” 
William James

“Sometimes life’s Hell.  But hey!  Whatever gets the marshmallows toasty.”  J. Andrew Helt

Old Rock Day! Who Knew?

I saw “Old Rock Day” listed on a calendar for today and was rather dubious.  I had not heard of such a holiday before, and I really love rocks so would have willingly celebrated.  When I checked online, I found several sites that agreed the holiday existed, but no one knew anything about its origin and history.  Basically, it is a day set aside by geologists to celebrate rocks and fossils.  I especially like the one site that suggests that it was started by Fred Flintstone, but that he has not gotten back to their requests for more information.

Whatever its origins, Old Rock Day is a great holiday!  Rocks—boulders, stones, pebbles, mountains and peaks as well as fossils of all kinds—are the bedrock of our great natural world.  They are constant, varied, beautiful, useful.  They teach lessons of perseverance and patience, of rolling with whatever forces surface in your world and staying strong.

Garden of the Gods, Colorado

Garden of the Gods, Colorado

Rocks are everywhere!  And they deserve our attention and admiration.  Of course, there are the giant iconic rock formations such as the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park and Zion National Park.  Really, you can just travel to any of the impressive mountain ranges with their spires and canyons and caves as well as to all the coastlines, shores, and mighty rivers that traverse the land.  But you can also find rocks, stones, pebbles just about anywhere you can walk:  city parks, rolling hills, back alleys, country roads, river banks, even major highways.  But you have to stop and notice these great souvenirs of our wonderful natural world.

rule 5 2Bryd Baylor wrote a great little book called EVERYBODY NEEDS A ROCK.  The illustrations by Peter Parnall complement the ten rules Baylor gives on how to select your own very special, personal rock to carry with you always.  As Baylor explains, “There aren’t many things that feel as good as a rock—if the rock is perfect.”  Of course, all rocks are perfect, once found by the right person.  She also stresses that she is “sorry for kids who don’t have a rock for a friend” and that everyone can find that “special rock that you find yourself and keep as long as you can—maybe forever.” 

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IMG_8553IMG_8554I follow her advice all the time.  No matter where I am, I constantly keep an eye out for a special little rocks to add to my collection.  Each rock is unique.  Marveling at the unique size, color, texture of each rock just seems like the right thing to do.  I carry mine with me in the car, in my purse, in my pockets.  I also place many rocks and fossils around the house.  Whether it is a fossilized snail or a butterfly captured inside a geode, some lava, tufa or petrified wood from various vacations, or just bowls of special little rocks and gems, it just feels right to have them close by.  I even have a couple cat rocks created by a great artist who sees the cats hiding in the various shapes evident in the river rocks she collects.

5 x 5 Petrified Wood

5 x 5 Petrified Wood

 

Petrified Wood Close-Up

Petrified Wood Close-Up

 

 

 

 

 

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Geode Design

Geode Design

Smooth Round River Rock, Size of a Baseball

Smooth Round River Rock, Size of a Baseball

If you do not yet have your own special rock or two, get busy.  If you know kids who do not have a treasure trove of rocks, help them get busy.  The rocks are there waiting to be found!  You can always start your search in your own lawn or garden or maybe a local park or country road.  Or seek out other locales where the permanence, beauty and grandeur of the rocks are harder to overlook.  You cannot always collect rocks from national or state parks, but you can see the wondrous rocks that dot the landscape, buy some souvenirs, or collect your own on the public roads near the parks themselves.

Here are some ideas of great places where you can visit and enjoy some wonderful rocks:

Kings River National Park, California

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Mono Lake, California

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Red Rock Canyon State Park, California

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Tioga Pass into Yosemite National Park, California

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Capital Reef National Park, Utah

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Coral Reef National Park 112

Coral Reef National Park 155

Valley of Fire State Park, near Las Vegas Nevada

Elephant Rock

Elephant Rock

Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs

Monument Valley, Arizona

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The Cube Is Bigger Than My Car!

The Cube Is Bigger Than My Car!

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Petrified Tree Trunk

Petrified Tree Trunk

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WHERE DO YOU GO TO PLAY AMONG THE ROCKS?  ANY FAVORITE PLACES?

 DID YOU KNOW ALL BUT NINE OF THE UNITED STATES HAVE AN OFFICIAL STATE FOSSIL ON RECORD?  California’s is the Sabre Tooth Cat.  Alaska’s is the Wooly Mammoth.  Arizona’s is Petrified Wood.  Ohio’s is the Trilobite.

There is a website that gives a full list!

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QUOTES ABOUT ROCKS

Vision connects you.  But is also separates you.  In my work, and my life, I feel a desire to merge.  Not in terms of losing my own identity. . . but there’s a feeling that life is interconnected, that there’s life in stones and rocks and trees and dirt, like there is in us.”  Bill Viola

“Life has evolved to thrive in environments that are extreme only by our limited human standards:  in the boiling battery acid of Yellowstone hot springs, in the cracks of permanent ice sheets, in the cooling waters of nuclear reactors, miles beneath the Earth’s crust, in pure salt crystals, and inside the rocks of the dry valleys of Antarctica.”  Jill Tarter

“Geologists have a saying—rocks remember.”  Neil Armstrong

“The problem is not scientifically illiterate kids; it is scientifically illiterate adults.  Kids are born curious about the natural world.  They are always turning over rocks, jumping with two feet into mud puddles and playing with the tablecloth and fine china.”  Neil deGrasse Tyson

“If it weren’t for the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song.”  Carl Perkins

“The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.”  Tennessee Williams

“TV’s like whitewater rafting:  Without rocks, there wouldn’t be rapids, and it wouldn’t be as much fun.”  Joss Whedon

“Leave part of the yard rough.  Don’t manicure everything.  Small children in particular love to turn over rocks and find bugs, and give them some space to do that.  Take your child fishing.  Take your child on hikes.”  Richard Louv

“What are men to rocks and mountains?”  Jane Austen

“And yet we couldn’t leave—it was as if the rocks were holding us there.  I mean, they were only rocks.  But for some reason, those rocks made lonely feel good.”  Cynthia Kadohata

“A pile of rocks ceases to be a rock when somebody contemplates it with the idea of a cathedral in mind.”  Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“For a tree to become tall it must grow tough roots among the rocks.”  Friedrich Nietzsche

“Teachers who inspire realize there will always be rocks in the road ahead of us.  They will be stumbling blocks or stepping stone.  It all depends on how we use them.”  Anonymous

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