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

 

 

 

 

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

Reconnecting to Joy -Watching My Favorite Movies

 

My favorite movie Lord of the Rings Ring
One ring to rule them all

I have several favorite movies that I can watch time and again, even though I have practically memorized the dialogue. While I clean house or cook dinner, I can listen to them while I work and run back to the television to watch my favorite parts. I don’t need to watch each minute. After all, I know most of them by heart.

Here is a list of my top favorite movies:

  1. The Two Towers (Lord of the Rings) – This is my favorite of the three Lord of the Rings movies. The story is moving along, we know the characters and adventure happens. What’s not to love?
  2. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – Harrison Ford and Sean Connery. Need I say more?
  3.  Juno – This witty movie has so many cute lines I have trouble not just sitting down and watching it start to finish. Who needs a clean house?
  4. Little Miss Sunshine – A dark comedy that I know not everyone appreciates, but I love how the family grows together through their mishaps.
  5. The Birdcage – I know. Cage Aux Folles was the inspiration for this movie and many like the original better. But I enjoy the story line of the American version. Besides, Robin Williams and Nathan Lane are perfect together.
  6. Top Gun – This is Tom Cruise in his prime, in my opinion. High action, fast jets, good looking actors all combine to make me forget to cook.
  7. Independence Day – Will Smith’s jump from television to movies works for me. I am a fan of science fiction, inspirational speeches and I like happy endings. This movie has it all.
  8. True Lies – The interactions between Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jaime Lee Curtis and Tom Arnold are priceless. I think it is the only movie Tom Arnold did that I like! (I believe I am not alone in this opinion.)
  9. Scent of a Woman – Chris O’Donnell and Al Pacino are amazing. The line “I’m in the dark here” comes in handy almost every night.
  10. The Princess Bride – The best lines are “As you wish” and “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

There are few Dave and I always agree on and watch together:

Our favorite movie Red October
Red October, Red October
  1. The Hunt for Red October – I watched it so much, my daughter gave a copy of it to me as a joke. The truth is I still watch it as often as possible. She rolls her eyes.
  2. Blind Side –Such a good movie. Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw make a great combination for this inspiring story.
  3. The Shawshank Redemption – I think this one is almost universally loved. (Is love too strong a word? I think not.)
  4. My Cousin Vinny – Joe Pesci cracks us up. But I think Dave’s favorite is actually Marisa Tomei. Just sayin.
  5. Blazing Saddles – So politically incorrect yet so funny. It is shocking how much they got away with when they made this movie.
  6. Young Frankenstein – A ridiculous movie that makes me laugh every time I see it.
  7. Trading Places – A cast of stars from the 80’s all together to play a Robin Hood story.
  8. Oh Brother Where Art Thou– A clever remake of Homer’s Odyssey and George Clooney. What a combination.

Dave has his own list of favorite movies:

Dave's Favorite movies War
This means WAR!

1. Outlaw Josey Wales
2. Saving Private Ryan
3. Band of Brothers

 

and
4. Super Bad 

 

I do not have kind comments for any of these movies so I will refrain. He watches these when I am out of town or otherwise out of the house. (I have romantic comedy ones that I watch when he is gone. I think that’s fair. Don’t you?)

Final thoughts:

As I look over the list, I realize most of my favorite movies were made decades ago. I have found that most of us prefer the music we listened to when we were in high school. I wonder if my favorite movies are the ones I watched when I was younger. With DVD’s and the internet, I can keep watching the familiar ones. I enjoy new movies but still retreat the old favorites more often than not.

Maybe you want to play the game. Are your favorites on my list? I would love to see your list!

Favorite Movies camera
Let’s go to the movies

 

“The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn’t.” – Joseph L. Mankiewicz

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

Reconnecting To Joy – Action

Current political changes feel as if they are out of my control. I think many of us are worried about the future, on both sides of the aisle. When I am afraid, I become paralyzed. I tell myself I am too small to make a difference. I curl up on the couch under the blanket and despair. Yet, little action steps can lead me out of this scared rabbit reaction. Asking questions rather than demanding agreement, reacting with kindness to angry words and even picking up litter on the trail help me remember that I can make a difference in the world, in this small way.

Action Dumbbells
Action Requires Heavy Lifting

The New Year brings a lot of attention on goal setting. These visions are designed to spur us into action, to take steps towards who we want to be. Though goals can motivating, they are intimidating. It is all good to say “I will lose 30 pounds this year” or I will change the world. It is quite another to actually figure out how to do it. Even harder is to sustain the energy to accomplish large goals. I am very good at coming up with ideas, not so good at the follow through.

Oh, I start out well. Going to the gym for the first three days is exhilarating. The problem resides in the fourth through the three hundred and sixty second day. I understand that many great athletes work out every single day. Though, they do vary their routines to be light on some of those days, maintaining the momentum keeps them on track. Plus, the habit of moving every day becomes ingrained.

While I understand this idea, the thought of never taking a day off sounds exhausting. Then I remember the One Day At A Time philosophy of the Twelve Step programs. I don’t have to do this every day. I only have to do this today. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

Action Eat Carrots
A carrot a day

With that in mind, I find I can take action on my dreams. Often, I only have time or energy to do one thing a day. But three hundred and sixty five actions can lead to big things. Maybe not a belly that is flatter, but towards a body that is stronger, a retirement account that is larger, a blog that is well-written and a world where kindness is the norm. How are your goals going? Maybe just do one thing today. We can do this together.

“Just For Today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle all my problems at once.”Al-Anon Family Groups

 

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 – 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

Reconnecting To Joy – Friends

Luckily, my family falls into the category of being friends. Not everyone can say that. In fact, I know many people have deicded to create new families of the heart, made up of friends who they can trust and depend on through thick and thin. I am fortunate enough to have both friends and family to love.

Friends Mark Twain Landing
Having Fun with Friends

Naturally there have been multiple studies to determine the benefits of having friends. Not too surprisingly, there are many benefits when we have strong relationships in our lives. We have less stress, better health, increased happiness and actually live longer. The support we receive makes such a difference that it helps us make better choices. Studies show that people with good social relationships exercise more and drink less. (Of course, sometimes my crew encourages me to drink more. But those times are always accompanied by connection, laughter and love which feels like a very healthy choice.)

My best friends are the ones who make me laugh. They drop everything to help me when I call. They are ones who come to mind when I need to talk and they won’t judge me. True friends are the ones who let me share my pain, but also tell me their troubles. We take turns being strong.

Two Friends
Hanging onto my friends

The hardest part of traveling for the past six years is maintaining the bonds I have made over time, and still creating a space for new people in my life. I do treasure all the connections I have made. I am grateful for social media in that it allows me to stay in contact with so many people. Friendship is precious, even if it has to turn into a long-distance relationship. My widespread community keeps me steady and grateful for their on-going support. Yes, friends bring me joy.

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”

― William Shakespeare