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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Bears Ears Flip Side

Bears Ears
Bears Ears

We have been living in southeastern Utah for 3 months now, in the shadow of Bears Ears.  This experience has had its ups and downs. In the middle of December, we moved from the nearest town to Natural Bridges National Monument, 45 minutes away from any services. We have some (slow) internet that we share with the 12 or so people who live here but no cell service at all. Well, that is not quite accurate. You can make calls (sometimes) if you stand near the repeater outside of the visitor center. Well, I can’t.  But some people have told me they can. Luckily, I can make phone calls from a wide spot in the road 3 miles towards town. It is an interesting situation.

What is even more interesting is that President Obama designated Bears Ears as a National Monument in December. Bears Ears includes the Natural Bridges National Monument as well as extensive existing National Forest and BLM lands.  The 1.36 million acre designation is bigger than the state of Rhode Island and is designed to protect the lands from development.

However, there is a strong resentment around here.  People feel the government is coming in and doing a land-grab without regard for the residents’ viewpoints. The local people have been against this idea for years. They have private land, plus they have used the area to sustain them with hunting and firewood gathering . The two town meetings that were held to gather opinions did not include National Park personnel, Native Americans who were not tribal leaders or much opportunity for disgruntled locals to speak.

The discontented people cite Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument as an example of how their economy could suffer.  The towns around Grand Staircase-Escalante were declared an economic disaster area in 2015. Plus, the increased requirements to get permits have negatively affected the area. Permits are required to graze cattle, gather firewood and herbs, hold traditional ceremonies or use the land. All of these activities require fees. Those who live in Bears Ears can foresee this happening to them.

To add to the uncertainty, negative run-ins with national government agencies are the norm here.  Therefore, they do not trust that their concerns will be heard. The Utah government is doing what it can to change the decision. There have been protests and demonstrations but there is skepticism that the concerns will be addressed.

To add to my worries, there have been rumors of a takeover similar to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. It is possible that this will happen here. We are packed and live out of our suitcases in anticipation of a quick getaway. While the actions of the state of Utah have banked those rumors, we are living on edge out here.

Yes, this beautiful land of ours needs to be protected for future generations. It is a privilege to live here in the middle of Bears Ears and to get to enjoy the beauty on a daily basis. But I now understand there is another side of the story.

 

Traveling Through Southeastern Utah

One of the best parts of our lives right now is the opportunity to travel to nearby lands.  This weekend we once again explored southward towards the Navajo Nation.

Muley Point Overlook
Muley Point

We drove out to Muley Point, a cliff overlooking the Monument Valley in the Navajo Nation.  The haze clouds the view but adds in beautiful layers. Naturally the view is much better in person but you can get the feeling of the expanse of the land and the canyonlands below.

Navajo Rug
Navajo Rug

On to the next spot: The northern part of the Navajo Nation.  We stopped at a trading post where we could have bought beautiful handmade Navajo rugs (starting at $250 for a small weaving and going way up from there).  The artists deserve the money, for the work is intricate.   The trading post had colored rug yarn for sale, bright and muted colors in bundles on the wall.

However, when we talked to some of the local people, they all said they rarely bought the yarn there. After all they had their own sheep so they would make their own when necessary.  They use every part of the sheep and consider the animals one of their most precious resources. The store also had feed, propane, farm supplies and remedies for curses.  Yes, curse remedies right there in the counter under the cash register.  I wanted to buy one but couldn’t think of any curses I needed to counteract.

Four Corners
Dave at Four Corners

We ended up at the Four Corners monument, the only place in the United States where four states meet.  Dave obligingly touched all four states for the photo. This spot is on Navajo lands, and usually there is a charge to visit, but they sponsored a foot race that day so the fee collectors were busy elsewhere that day. Four Corners has vendors there, with booths set up in each of the quadrants, so there is one set of stands in each state.  We bought some things in the Utah section but spoke to the artists in all four states. What an experience, to shop in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, all within walking distance.  A perfect way to travel, in my opinon.

Going on these trips reminds me why we are on the road.  Sometimes it gets difficult to be so far away from friends and family.  But then we get to visit places like this.  Truly amazing.

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” Edward Abbey

Visiting Arches National Park

La Sal Mountains, Utah on the way to Arches Park
The La Sal Mountains

Utah is the land of national parks.  We were able to visit Arches National Park this time.  The road to this park parallels the snow covered La Sal Mountains.  The wind blowing that snow off the tops made the ride especially beautiful.

Three Gossips Formation in Arches National Park
View of Three Gossips and Courthouse formations

This part of the country is full of surprises.  Around every turn there is another awe-inspiring view and the geology behind the rock formations adds to the magnificence.  Ancient oceans, petrified sand dunes and subsequent earthquakes gave the raw materials for erosion to create interesting shapes.  It is easy to see how some of the rocks were named.

Rock shaped like Lief Erikson in Arches National Park
Is this Lief Erikson?

Other formations invite our imaginations to come out and play.

There are over 200 arches here (hence the name of the park). We only saw a few of them, however the afternoon sky gave me an opportunity to capture the beauty of the day as well as the spectacular nature of the rocks.

Double Arch
Double Arch

 

 

 

 

 

Sand Dune Arch path
Sand Dune pathway

Our favorite hike of the day brought us to a set of stones set on their edge. Following the path between the rocks, we walked on fine red sand until we found an arch tucked inside, hidden away from the road.  Most of the other visitors drove right by this treasure.  I am so glad we stopped.

Sand Dune Arch
Sand Dune Arch

 

 

 

 

I believe that it is important to take care of the day-to-day responsibilities first, but what a blessing it can be to make sure we take time to step outside of our routine.  I am grateful that we choose to visit nearby wonders.  The little adventures are what makes life so good.

Skyline Arch
Skyline Arch

“I’ve got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom.”

– Thomas Carlyle

Distractions

My recent decision to blog has been wonderful.  Except when it isn’t.  I have found that I am susceptible to the most ridiculous urges.  Pretty much when I do not have pictures to post, I struggle with coming up with ideas.

Instead of brainstorming or being creative, I recognize I have 7 different habits that can distract me for hours.

  • The kitchen:  Why is it that when I want to avoid doing something, I get hungry?  Okay, not really hungry, but it seems that anything in the pantry is more interesting than the task at hand.  Even Triscuits.  And that is saying a lot.

tea

  • Hot Tea:  A sub-category of the kitchen trap.  Hot tea allows me to wait for the water to boil, gives me an opportunity peruse my tea bag collection and of course needing to wait until the tea is cool enough to drink.  It even has the added virtue of being calorie free.  This is a deadly combination when it comes to being distracted from my goals.
  • Social Media:  How many times a day can one human being check Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?  The number is staggering.  I finally turned off my phone’s notifications for email.  My phone would beep every time I sat down.  So one temptation is gone.  Three to go.

treble-clef

  • Songs I Know The Words To:  I find myself singing out loud whenever a song I like comes on.  When I have on my I-Pod I am doomed because I like ALL of those songs.  I have found that I have to put on instrumentals (Boring) or I can’t get any work done.

 

  • Television:  We have not had television for months so now that we have satellite television, it is a siren call.  It is especially hard to resist knowing that in 3 weeks we will once again be in a spot with no television reception.  This one is probably one of my biggest temptations.  Luckily daytime television is still terrible.  Remember that song: 57 Channels and Nothing On by Bruce Springsteen?  It is still true, except of course we are now past 57 and inching up into the thousands.
  • The Internet:  Isn’t it fun computerwhat you can search for on the world wide web?  I can follow any subject into a rabbit hole and eat up the entire day.  I always hope that I will find some scintillating piece of information that I can use at the next party I attend.  But I can never seem to remember the facts longer than a few hours, much less long enough for a party.

cleaning

  • Cleaning:  I know.  I only clean when I am avoiding something else.  Lately the house has been spotless.

 

Know that I did each and every one of these things today.  But I also am publishing this blog and accomplished more than I expected at the end of the day.  Thank goodness.  Now to go watch television.  Guilt free.