Forestalling Fear Of Missing Out

I have a wonderful life. I know it. You know it. Yet I find myself looking around and wondering why I do not have trips to Europe, a giant savings account or a new car in my life. The dreaded Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) strikes again.

Fear of missing out while I do chores
I have to work SO HARD!

Most of us (all of us?) feel that we are missing out on something. Facebook and easy communications have increased this sensation. My cousins are off on another fabulous family cruise. I sit in Denver working on my to-do list making sure that we have things handled before venturing back to our isolated park in southeastern Utah. My posts on Facebook are about the great stuff in my life but my daily reality includes sweating profusely through my workouts (with nothing to show for the effort, by the way), cooking, cleaning, worrying about money and being sure I am missing everything.

My research has uncovered a great article by Martha Beck (you can read it here). But I will summarize my favorite take-aways.

Combating the Fear Of Missing Out

Fear of missing out sticky notes work
Sometimes I need notes to remember the good stuff.
  1. FOMO comes from thinking other people have better lives than we do. Parts of their lives are great. But they don’t mention the family fights, eating cereal for dinner instead of cooking, the time they lost their phone or how difficult their co-workers are. Our glimpses are only a piece of the truth. One truism says that if you sat in a group of friends and everyone put a list of the problems they face on a piece of paper, you would look through the pile and pick your own set of troubles. Yes, everyone has them. So, pay attention to the good stuff in your own life. I have found I have to make a list of wonderful things we have done so I can remember during those low moments.
fear of missing out the ice cream
Ice Cream is very comforting!

2. We can re-enginer the acronym to work for us. What else could those letters stand for that remind us of what we already have? The author suggests a few: Feel Okay More Often find little things that give us pleasure and focus on them; Find One Magnificent Object appreciate something wonderful in your own life; and my personal favorite Flocks Of Magic Otters.” She adds,What, you don’t think these actually exist? Huh. They’re no more outlandish than believing that everyone you know has a more awesome life than you.” I made up one, too. Focus On My Own. Do you have a car that runs? Someone who cares about you? A home? Comfort food available to eat? Past experiences that make you smile when you remember them? Luckily, each life has its good moments.

What’s Next?

The trick is to pay attention to when we feel sad about what we don’t have and make an effort to notice all we already have in our lives. Yes, it is easier said than done, but has become more automatic with practice. Daily gratitude, being kind to others and noticing other people’s smiles all help me stay focused on the good side of my life. Finally, for me, writing things down always supports my efforts. I feel lucky that you take the time to read my blogs. Thanks!

Fear of missing out the forsythia
There is always something worth enjoying!

 

“In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day–or to celebrate each special day.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru

 

 

 

 

8 Ways To Find Comfort During Change

Surprise isn't always comfort
Life is changing again!

Life is filled with change. We all have to handle the fact that nothing remains the same. The truth is that change that happens to us (without our permission and often without warning) is hardest to survive. But even when we choose to embrace the transition, there are bumps in the road. Here are some thoughts about easing the transitions.

My life, by design, is filled with changes. We are seasonal workers, needing to move every six months or so, and never sure of what is on the horizon. We have chosen to live with fewer things and less regularity. Much of the time, I enjoy the newness and the uncertainty. However, the constant of change wears on me.

Here are ten strategies I have employed to smooth the way and cope with the anxieties that inevitably crop up.

1.  Hold on to something Familiar

Holding coffee mug helps change
Warmth helps with change

When we travel, we have a set of belongings that come with us. They have to fit in our two-door compact car, so we have to be picky about our choices. We love our down comforter, our electric toothbrush, comfortable shoes and a three-ring binder filled with my favorite recipes (yes, it is full of comfort food ideas!). In addition, we only bring one suitcase each of our favorite clothing and personal items. It turns out most people don’t really notice when you wear the same things all the time. The few things we bring are all “old friends.” Our continuing efforts to simplify pay off big time here.

2. Let go of Expectations.

I do research before we head out on our journey and automatically draw mental pictures of what the newest spot will be like. I have to be careful of these expectations. It turns out change is harder to handle when things are not going as I expected. We came up with a saying: “We are on Vacation!” because this reminds us that we have never been here before, that the road is unfamiliar and that is why we are doing this! It is time to be present to what is right in front of us and not what we left behind.

grumpy cat hates change
Change can make me grumpy

3. Ignore negative input.

There are many people who prefer to live in the same house and go to the same job. It is hard for those people to imagine that taking off in random directions could be fun or that change could lead to something better. Because of this, they feel obligated to tell me that what I am doing is a bad idea. It is tempting to listen to them, or even chime in. That’s when I do the next step.

 

4.  Make a List of why I am doing this crazy thing

I write down the reasons I am on the road (or whatever new vision I have created). This has come in useful in the past to get through classes, finish projects or stay in a job long enough to make it to the next step. Some people prefer to draw pictures, make collages, create vision boards or put up sticky notes on their mirrors. We all need reminders that what we are doing is important and why we want what we want. Every now and again I read my notes and ask myself, “Is this still true?  Do I still want this?”  It is okay if the answer is no, but almost always I am still inspired by my goals.

What if the change is not my choice? I focus on who I want to be (and WHY!) while the change is happening and write that down. After all, there are almost always good things that come out of change. We just need to find them.

5. Add structure

When I feel lost, I create to-do lists to get me moving. This for me adds structure, plus I get ridiculous satisfaction from crossing the tasks off. Yes, I am one of those that will add items I have already completed just so I can them off. Other ways to add structure can be making sure you eat at the same times, exercise every day, connect with family or whatever makes you feel more in control of the day in small ways.

change is not comfortable
What!? This isn’t what I asked for!

6. Know that not everything will turn out the way we wanted

The sad thing is challenges occur, even in an exciting, travel filled adventure life. Cars break down, I get tired of being so far from family, weather disrupts our plans, there are bad days at work, people disappoint me. In addition, there are moments I disappoint myself. I accept that those things are a fact of life on this planet and get over it. Eventually.

7. Practice Gratitude

Counting my blessings is a instant way for me to remember all the things going right. I know there are many people who advocate writing down at least three things you are thankful for every day. I am sure it is a good idea and I have seen studies that say that your mental and physical health measurably increase after doing this for several weeks in a row. But I resist this exercise, even though I am a writer in my heart.  Therefore, I prefer to be spontaneously grateful. I am thankful for rainbows, bird songs, cloud formations and hot and cold running water. As a result of noticing all of these, and more, I remember to acknowledge the gifts in my life.

 

Touch helps me cope with change
Keeping in Touch

8. Communicate with my anchor people

Finally, I have several people that I consider my anchors. They are family members and friends who love me. They remind me that I am on an adventure, not an endurance race. Touching base with them frequently helps keep me grounded.

 

“Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes.”

Hugh Prather

Stuck at a Party? – 5 Sure-Fire Conversation Starters

conversation starters invitation
A moment of elation followed by fear

Every introvert dreads party invitations. We have visions of standing in a corner as we alternately hope that someone will talk to us and afraid they will. First of all, my big fear is that I don’t have good conversation starters. What will I talk about if someone comes up? While recently some “experts” have claimed that most introverts dislike idle chatter and crave deep topics, that is not me, at least at parties. I promise I will not be having significant discussions with people I barely know at a party.
However, I do accept that I need and want social connections, despite the emotional energy it requires. I have a trick, accept the invitation when it is offered from people I like, especially if the event is several days in the future.  I can do this, I think to myself as I agree to their offer. Naturally, I then worry and fret out loud until we arrive at the party, because I think I don’t want to go. Yes, I know it is always worth going. So, I just feel the worry and show up anyway.

Luckily, I have found that having a set of conversations starters in my back pocket can help me feel less stuck at the party. Here are some juicy questions that often lead to interesting exchanges so I can feel confident and will be entertained. (Yes, it is all about my comfort!)

5 sure-fire Conversation Starters

1. What was the last thing you checked off your bucket list?

This is a great way to get stories rolling. The anecdotes tend to be enjoyable because bucket list items usually have an element of adventure and almost always have some calamity attached to it. (I know. That shouldn’t be true but the challenges are what make the stories fun.)

2 What are you going to check off of your bucket list next?

conversation starters bucket list
My bucket list needs more ideas

I like this one because whether we call it a life list or a bucket list, we all have things we hope we get to do sooner or later. This is especially good in a group because one person’s idea will spark others. You may go home with new ideas to add to your own list. Bonus!

3. What is the most interesting job you ever had?

One of good things about this question is that it isn’t the usual “What do you do?” but still gives you an idea of their interests and skills. I would suggest having an example of your own in case it stumps your new friend. Sometimes we need time to remember that jobs can be interesting.

4. Do you have a favorite book (or movie)?

This lets them off the hook if they can’t think of one right away. It can also begin a dialogue. Many times it turns out we like the same ones and that leads to a connection. Once or twice I have met people who grew up where movies were not allowed or they never liked to read. Quick. Ask a different question.

5. Have you ever met anyone famous?

conversation starters hollywood
Hollywood is full of famous people

This often leads to convoluted tales of how they sat next to a movie star or how their parents bought Elvis Presley a drink (or whatever story they come up with). By the way, I would not suggest asking this if there is even a remote possibility that the other person IS famous.

A couple of other hints:

Be sure to add your own stories so it doesn’t become a one-way interrogation.

 When someone asks you a question, end your answer with “How about you?” Extra credit: If you are in a group, pick the one who hasn’t talked yet and ask them.

It is never a good idea to talk about politics and religion. After all, you won’t change their mind and they won’t change yours (no matter what they think). Come to think of it, current events right now are possible dynamite. Tread carefully.

– Join in when other brave souls use their conversation starters. There are lots of us out there and we need encouragement.

A final word: People are rooting for the conversation to be entertaining. You already are unique and remarkable. I promise it is worth the effort to engage with others.

conversation starters winne the pooh
I love Winnie the Pooh

 

You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” –A.A. Milne

Living In A Two-Party Household

two-party household argument
We don’t see eye to eye

What do you do when one of a couple has strong conservative beliefs and the other is as liberal as they come? This two-party household has been our reality for over thirty-seven years. Up until now, we have been able to balance our beliefs because our love is strong and our peace keeping skills are excellent. The mantra of “don’t argue about religion or politics” has led us to live a peaceful life. So far.

Granted we have strong feelings about our beliefs. Every two years, we go to the polls to vote and cancel each other’s votes out, straight down the line. One year, we agreed that since we were nullifying each other’s votes, neither of us would vote. We both cheated. I saw him in line ahead of me to vote! Rather than being angry, we have laughed about that for years. Yes, we both thought that we would get our vote to count that year. Now we accept the inevitable and go together to cast our disparate votes. We consider it our right and responsibility to cancel out the other’s opinion at the polls. This is two-party living at its best.

Up until now, we have found that we can agree to disagree about our political views.

Things have changed in our two-party household

two-party household Trump
He voted for him

With this election, our views are so different that we have both been alarmed at the other’s ideas. I believe that our new president is dismantling the government and removing important gains we have made over the past 50 years. He thinks Trump is finally making the government more efficient and streamlining cumbersome rules that have restricted the economy. My fear is that Mr. Trump is endangering the future of the planet. He thinks I am over-reacting and listening to “the enemy media”. In his opinion, it is about time someone takes charge of the runaway government interference in personal freedoms. I feel my personal choices will be narrowed by the decisions of our leader. The list goes on and on.  The truth is that neither one of us will change our mind, no matter what the other one says.

Two-party household liberal
Me too!

For the first time in our marriage, we cannot find common ground to stand on in this arena. We can’t watch the news, look at the internet or read about any political events without one (or both) of us getting angry. So how can our two-party relationship survive the next four to eight years?

My hope is kindness will save the day

In our relationship, when we speak of our differences, we have an unspoken agreement to stop when the emotions start running hot. Anger appears and we take a time out from the discussion. This can be helpful, for we never want to say things that will hurt that other person. I like him! Why would I want to hurt him? Luckily, he feels the same way.

With kindness, there is room for discussion. When I talk about climate change, he is willing to listen to my view of the situation.  I hope I can learn why he trusts Trump to do the right thing. Sharing my concerns about education leads to him speaking about antiquated institutions. We do agree that health care reform is a tough problem, even though we disagree about the solutions. Granted these conversations can and do get heated. Remembering to be kind to one another ensures that we back off, cool down and reconnect to the fact that we love one another. My tone changes, my words soften and I do my best to listen rather than defend my position. He watches my face, my eyes and does his best to keep it to a discussion rather than an argument. While many times, we have to stop talking about it for a while; we can still maintain the respect and trust we have for each other.

Kindness offers a refuge.  Kindness will allow us to survive this period; possibly to learn and grow into a stronger relationship, even in our two-party household.

two-party household Dalai Lama
Kindness Counts

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” – Dalai Lama

Raptor Nest Search

My ranger/friend invited me to join in a raptor nest search. Of course I said yes. This meant that one day this past week, I had to actually get up and move at a much quicker pace than normal.  It was worth it.
raptor nest search red cliffs
Utah cliffs where bird like to nest
Our task: To monitor previously discovered nests in an area 2 hours north from where I live. A ranger from another park joined the party and the three of us went hunting. Our main goal was to scour the area looking for “whitewash”. This is a polite name for bird poop on the cliff walls. A lot of whitewash means there is probably a nest there, but there are tricky spots with less poop that they deemed were “perches” instead of probable nest sites. The actual nests are rare. In the 20 mile area we searched, we only found a couple dozen potential spots.  Luckily, we drove from one cliff area to another so I did not have to walk the whole twenty miles, but at each spot we did a lot of hiking.
While we did not see many birds, we did find a rabbit warren, a prairie dog town, paw prints from a large cat (young mountain lion? large bobcat?) and the remains of a trash pile near the remains of a long-gone house. Among the debris, we found a bunch of rusted tin cans. They had the old church key holes on either side of the top. I had to explain to the younger ranger that the weird holes meant that they were beer cans. We all learned something that day. (Okay, some knowledge will come in handier than others.)
We decided to head back but wanted to check out one last place. Lo and behold, one of the rangers spotted a huge nest on a cliff. Could it be a golden eagle’s home? Sure enough, he was perched on a nearby cliff!  Far enough away that I had to use binoculars to see him, he still looked regal up there, surveying the valley. He stayed there a long time, but we were patient. Suddenly,  the eagle swooped off his perch and flew! Circling the valley, he found his prey. We watched as he dove towards the ground with his talons out. He missed! (Aw. For once I was rooting for the predator.) Finding a spot to perch, he recovered a bit before soaring back up to his distant perch. Our raptor nest search had come to a rewarding close.
This raptor nest search program requires that the nesting areas remain secret to protect the wildlife.  My camera phone could not capture any of the action anyway. The eagle was too far away and difficult to photograph. Naturally I am now considering upgrading my equipment, but today I am still basking in the joy of watching the eagle in action. In a way, it was nice to just watch, knowing I could not take the ideal picture; I had permission to just enjoy the experience.
Raptor Nest Search Golden eagle
Golden Eagle Soars

Eagles: When they walk, they stumble. They are not what one would call graceful. They were not designed to walk. They fly. And when they fly, oh, how they fly, so free, so graceful. They see from the sky what we never see.Unknown

Reconnecting to Joy – Salt Lake City Weekend

Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City from the top of the hill

Our adventures took us to Salt Lake City this past weekend. On a whim, we drove the almost six hours north to visit the capitol city of Utah on Saturday. We prefer booking a hotel close the center of the city. This allows us to walk to the sights. Therefore, we found accommodations only one half block from the center of town. After all, we only had one afternoon and evening to explore the area. We like to be near the action!

Salt Lake City
Mormon Temple Salt Lake City

Naturally we started at Temple Square. Brigham Young and his followers have created an impressive place to tour. While the temple itself is not open to the public, everything else is available. Despite our best efforts, we only had time to explore about half of the twelve buildings there. Eager, friendly young people fill the square and stand at each building, ready to answer any questions. I am impressed by their ability to refrain from pushing their mission too hard while still welcoming tourists.  We watched videos, toured houses, read signs and, as a result, learned a lot. Even our fellow tourists were friendly and kind. Like begets like, I think.

 

Salt Lake City
Utah Capitol building Salt Lake City

Next stop was the Utah state capitol. This sits on the top of the hill above downtown Salt Lake City. Walking uphill increased our breathing and heart rates but the climb was worthwhile. The building is full of beautiful white granite designed to make the most of the natural grain in the stone. Consequently,  wedding photographers from around the area find the capitol a perfect spot to pose in their gowns. We saw many beautiful women being photographed on the steps, in the alcoves and against the sparkling walls. Every single bride looked dazzling.

 

The city lights up at night with trees full of twinkle lights and buildings lit with colorful spot lights. Things felt safe since there were plenty of fellow travelers and many shops open late to lure us in. Those of you who know us will realize we zeroed in on a brewery called Squatter’s. Their motto is “Good for what ales you” and it certainly was. The bartender served us food, beer and friendly conversation. Somehow, he found time on a busy Saturday night to talk with us about snowboarding, traveling and life.

Sunday morning brought the best experience of the trip, listening to the Mormon Tabernacle choir. We arrived early enough to hear the rehearsal. We listened to their accomplished director make small corrections to an already amazing performance. A couple of the choir members talked to the audience about auditioning, practices and finding inspiration in the music they get to sing. Then, after a request for quiet, we watched cameramen filming the half hour live broadcast. The music filled the hall and me with its power. What a privilege to be present for this display of musical talent.

Finally, the ride back to Natural Bridges brought more beautiful scenery. We added in a stop to visit a friend in Green River and another for vanilla malts in Hanksville. I highly recommend all of the three (yes, three) restaurants in little Hanksville, Utah.  Each time we eat here we come home full and happy. This time was no exception. The entire weekend gave us joy.

Brigham Young Salt Lake City
Brigham Young

 

 

Remember, a chip on the shoulder is a sure sign of wood higher up.” – Brigham Young

Snow Days at Natural Bridges National Monument

Natural Bridges home
Our Natural Bridges Home

After three months of teaser storms, consisting of rain, hail and ice, it began to snow yesterday at Natural Bridges National Monument and it hasn’t stopped. My friends in Estes Park will smile and pat me on the head (they have had MUCH more snow than that), but we have received about a foot of snow in the past 24 hours.

Dave is out plowing the roads while I operated a snow shovel to tackle the sidewalks. The Park workers concentrate on the visitor areas and making sure the roads are as safe as possible. I took care of the residential area, making pathways to the laundry area, the office and the only place in the park where we get occasional cell phone service. Shoveling the sidewalks is rewarding, as I can see the results of my efforts. Although the continually falling snow is currently erasing that progress. Consequently, I foresee more shoveling ahead.

Snow on Kachina Bridge overlook
Kachina Bridge – In The Blowing Snow

This morning, I accompanied Dave on his first snowplow pass over the nine-mile road around the park. This drive allows visitors to visit each of the three natural bridges plus offers beautiful views from the pull-outs. The level of the snow changed as we drove through the park. In some areas, the clouds covered the landscape and, at times, the snow made finding the road a challenge.

 

Natural Bridges snow
Natural Bridges Mesa snow

Then the curves of the road brought us to a spot where the sun was doing its best to peek through. The wind died down and the snow quit for a moment, just long enough to snap a picture.

 

Reconnecting To Joy – Traveling To Goblin Valley

In the news about national monuments and known for its national parks, Utah also has incredible state parks. We visited one this week, Goblin Valley State Park.

Goblin guardians
Goblin guardians

These guys greeted us as we drove in. They look like a welcoming committee, standing in a group at the edge of the valley. I could practically see them waving, while I suspect they were talking about us as we drove by.

 

The Goblin Valley
The Goblin Valley

A little further, we came to the parking lot which overlooks a dry, treeless landscape with funny looking mud-colored blobs. Luckily the greeting committee gave us a clue as to the delights in store for us. The mud brown valley looked boring from this point. But we followed that winding dirt path and walked down to the dirt brown expanse. As a result, we found ourselves in another world. The funny shaped mounds sitting here have nooks and crannies that resemble eyes, as well as some that look like they are grinning at us. Many of them reminded us of extras in Star Wars movies (think Jawas – those little people that scavenged droids).

 

Goblin Valley wise men/seals
Is this a monkey with a hat or a wise man?

Both Goblin Valley and Arches National Park were formed in the same geologic era. Arches got the sand dunes that petrified and wore away into, well, arches. Here, Goblins got formed from a petrified tidal flat. This erosion has formed so many amazing bumps and protrusions that we wandered for hours. Sometimes we could agree about what we saw, other times we had to argue for our own opinion.

Goblin King
Goblin King

As we walked through the valley, we could see different creatures. Sometimes they did look like goblins, other times I could swear they resembled trolls. As the light shifted, some looked like animals and others so much like people I was ready to strike up a conversation.

As usual, we happened upon yet another wonderful surprise. I love that we get a chance to visit these places and am also really enjoying sharing them with you. Are you ready to come visit us yet?

“Nature hath framed strange fellows in her time.” – William Shakespeare

Reconnecting To Joy – Sunshine

 

No sunshine, only fog
Foggy Day – No Sunshine in Sight

I grew up in Colorado, where we get over 300 days of sunshine a year. In my neighborhood, if it stayed cloudy for more than two days in a row, we all got grumpy. Due to a recent weather pattern in Utah, we have had two weeks of clouds, culminating in a long two days of fog. While it was beautiful in a misty way, I missed the sunshine. Imagine my delight to wake up to blue skies today! I went for a long walk this morning to bask the beauty. Although it was only 32 degrees out there, it felt warm. I know, it was probably all in my head, but it sure felt good.

 

Sun rising
The Morning Sun Rising into Blue Skies

Science has something to say about all of this. Did you know that sunshine can actually lower blood pressure? The light on our skin releases a pressure-reducing compound called nitric oxide. Some studies show that even a ten minute exposure to the sun can lower our blood pressure for up to two hours afterwards.

We can add to this the benefits of Vitamin D. Studies link this essential vitamin to better immune systems, stronger bones and even a lessening of depression. The best part is that the sun gives it to us for free. We just have to step outside. The lack of sunny days may be why some have the condition known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). This is a fancy name for what our parents called it the “winter blues”. I must admit, when I don’t see the sun often enough, I get sad. Whether or not I suffer from a disorder, I welcome the sun when it returns.

Our place in Bridges
Safe and Sound In Our Home in Bridges

Being a mom and a responsible adult, I can’t talk about the sunshine without recommending the use of sunscreen.  I lost a friend to a melonoma when we were way too young. Having worked in a salon setting for years, I saw first hand the differences in protected skin and skin that worshipped the sun for too long. Sunscreen is important for so many reasons. So lather up before you go outside to embrace the warmth of the sun.

The sun lay like a friendly arm across her shoulder.”

Margorie Kinnan Rawlings

 

 

Reconnecting To Joy – Dancing

Did you watch Seinfeld? (Maybe you still do!) Remember Elaine and her funny dance? Yes, I suspect that is how I look when I am dancing. Yet I get so much joy from moving to the music, I don’t let a thing like “Boy I bet I look silly” stop me from having fun.

Dancing for joy
Dance for Joy

Part of the joy of being an adult and having my own space is that I turn the music up and dance around the living room and the kitchen and wherever I am. I dance while I am cleaning. Cooking to music helps me enjoy it even more and while I am there, I may as well dance! While I can’t actually dance in the car, that doesn’t stop me from rocking out, with my arms waving and head rocking, despite the fact that sometimes people stare. All of this makes my world more fun to be in.

In my early years, I just moved to the music. Then Dave taught me western swing, something he is quite good at.  We tried square dancing. Nope. We took classes in ballroom dance for awhile but we never had much success with that. There are too many rules and structure for my taste. I had the chance to learn line dancing while we lived in campgrounds. Now, that was right up my alley! Being part of group allowed me to have someone to watch plus the music has a great beat. No one ever noticed if I turned the wrong way or made a misstep. Or if they did notice, I was too busy having fun to pay attention.Line dancing is just for fun.

While my current situation doesn’t have line dancing, I still get to play my music and move. I am back to my original style, with no structure and certainly no mistakes. Ah, Joy!

Older woman dancing
I will always dance

“Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.”Satchel Paige