Monthly Archives: March 2012

Adventure Toolkit: Boundaries

Fence in Penasco, New Mexico

Boundaries seem like the natural enemy adventure. “Don’t fence me in.”  “Run wild and free.” All that sort of thing.

But I’m learning that the proper care and feeding of boundaries is a crucial addition to my growing repertoire of adventure related skills.

Boundaries keep other people out of my time. Don’t get me wrong. I like to help people. Like everyone else, I think I spend a good chunk of my day helping other folks out. I’m a strong believer in the idea that helping each other is what makes the world a better place.

This is something different. We all know that person that just never, ever gets the hint that you might be in the middle of something else.  Being able to politely say “I’m sorry, I have to go work now” means that I get my own tasks done on time, which keeps my free time, well, free.

Boundaries keep other people out of my head. Too often we tend to play back old conversations. “I should have said…” “I can’t believe she said…” Or wonder why someone acted in a certain way. Get stuck in old loops. And while some amount of reflection isn’t a bad thing, it’s too easy to carry a past conversation into the future. The activity we’re doing now gets tinged with the emotion of then. The inability to keep the past separate from the present robs us of being fully here for what we’re doing.

Boundaries keep my own stuff out of my head. I’m constantly working on paying attention to right here, right now. I’m a chronic over planner. Planning for the future, for possible outcomes, for all sorts of things, which honestly aren’t important and seldom make a difference in the long run. Life just changes too fast. I’m learning that boundaries can help keep me focused, that strengthening my boundaries means that I’m less likely to be multi-tasking, that I can pay more attention to what I’m actually doing right now, and enjoy it more.

It turns out that boundaries aren’t so much about fencing adventure off, but about keeping the little things out of the way of adventure.

 Comments: Hi there! These are the ideas about adventure I’m playing with. They may or may not work for you. I’d love to hear what you’re playing with.

Explorer’s Logbook #1 – Come play with us!

In which we record the adventures and celebrations, both great and small, of the previous week.

  •  Fuzzy, the oldest and wiliest of our porch cats, seems to have survived another winter! One day I’ll get him trapped and to the vet… but he’s smart enough to know what the trap is and waits for a less wary cat to spring it. Ah well.
  •  We had snow on Tuesday. Which wouldn’t have been so terrible if 1) the previous weekend hadn’t been so warm, 2) we hadn’t just put down roses and 3) it was the first day of spring! I’m so very ready for my daffodils.
  •  Sean’s music festival found a new partner. Technically, it’s not just his festival, but he’s very attached to it.

Lots and lots of driving on Saturday!

 

  • Long adventure day on Saturday! Down to Santa Fe for an opening at the State art museum, then on to Albuquerque for pad thai and a Chocolate and Coffee festival with lots of our favorite local shops – Windmill Dairy and Black Mesa Winery and Kakewa Chocolate house. Then up the Turquoise Trail with the top down on the car, and on to Penasco and Sugar nymphs for an out of this world dinner topped off with a brownie/brown sugar parfait. All so good, and so rich, that by the end we were defeated, and had to share it!

Moon rise outside of Sugar Nymphs

  •  Sunday Jazz at the art council. A fun hour of everything from bassonova to Monk, played by friends, and a pretty good turn out (including a dog).

 What adventures did you have this week? Large or small, we’d love to hear them!

The Problem of Adventure

I don’t think adventure should be a once in a lifetime event.  It’s not about finding lost cities in the jungle or climbing mountains or about traveling to the other side of the world.  It certainly could be if that’s what you want, but most people have a hard time fitting that into their lives.

However, I do believe we can all benefit from a sense of adventure.  A sense of wonder, and of play.  Of excitement and of gratitude.

But we get too caught up in our day-to-day lives, in paying the bills and keeping our heads above water, in getting the kids to school and homework done and finding time to vacuum or finding the vacuum at all.

Adventure sounds like a very large thing to try to fit into a schedule that’s already packed full.

How to add adventure into every day life? These are the things I’m playing with:

Noticing.  Paying attention to the little things in life. Pretending I’m a journalist, making notes about the adventures I’m having right under my own nose. Deliberately and consciously looking for the parts of life that are already pretty darn wonderful, even if only one or two things come to mind.

Making space.  By looking at my life and deciding what’s there that I don’t want anymore, that I don’t need.  Things I’m holding onto out of habit or guilt or sentiment. Projects I thought I’d do someday, but just aren’t interested in anymore. Commitments I took on out of duty. It’s all in the way.

Schedule the fun. Sounds counter-intuitive, I know. But if I know I have a date with myself to go hula hooping, or check out a new gallery I’ve had my eye on, or whatever I want, it makes it easier to keep that time free. (And if someone asks me to do something, I can say there’s something else on my calendar, sorry! I don’t have to tell them it’s an appointment to go check on the flowers in the park.)

Cultivate a sense of the ridiculous. Being able to get past the seriousness of a situation lets me have a good time, no matter where I am. I’m not lost, I’m exploring. Again.

Let go of old habits. So much of my thinking space is filled by old habits and stories that I have told myself so often that I no longer even question if those stories are true or if they help me. Start asking myself “Why?”

Bring in new qualities. I’m playing a game of listing out five alternate careers. Archeologist? Potter? Manuscript expert? And then doing a little scribbling on what about those alternate careers is interesting to me, what qualities and essences of those alternate careers can I bring into my life now.

* * *

Comments: Hi there! These are the things I’m playing with. They may or may not work for you. I’d love to hear what you’re playing with.

Saying Yes

A couple of years ago Sean’s dad had a family photo taken. The photographer was a very nice man, and quite talented. One of his tricks was to have us say “Yes” instead of “Cheese” or some such in order to get a more natural smile.

It was a long afternoon of saying yes, and I think it was good practice.

It’s too easy to say no to things. No, I’m tired. No, I don’t have time. No, I don’t want to try something new. No.

I do think it’s important to have limits and boundaries. Not to take on more work or commitments than you can handle. Not to agree to chair a committee just because someone else doesn’t want to, and you can’t think of a good way to get out of it.

But saying yes to new things can also ease the way into adventures, open new doors, make possible paths and fun projects that you never would have thought of.

This weekend we went down to Albuquerque for an overnight for some family stuff. It’s been a long few weeks and it was really tempting just to have a quiet night in the room, get dinner brought in, watch something mindless and go to sleep early.

Instead we said yes.

  • Yes, to walking in the wind to dinner.
  • Yes, to the sushi place that has a model train set.
  • Yes, to changing my order on the fly, based on the waiter’s facial expression.
  • Yes, to a long, rambly conversation with an older, somewhat inebriated man at the hotel.
  • Yes, to visiting a new museum the next morning instead of an old favorite.

Yes after yes made for a great weekend, and changed a potentially dull night and morning into something to talk and laugh about, which was what we ended up needing more than a quiet night in.

 

There’s a nebula inside me. And it tickles.

This may get a little woo woo – if its too out there for you,  here’s a link to something more concrete.

However, this week’s adventures were all internal. About how building internal spaces gives me more spaciousness to think, to dream about new possibilities.

I’ve started taking an online class/forum/workshop/playgroup put on by Havi from the Fluent Self.

Two things have been super useful. First, a community of folks who are interested in sorting out their internal stuff in a conscious, mindful manner, and second, a whole library of older calls and classes.

I’ve been devouring the calls.

Last night I listened to one about making internal space, and how your issues with internal space and external space are often all connected. They talked about the notion that external space is infinite, and in many ways, so is your internal space. And then the question was posed: what’s in your internal space?

The first thing I thought about was nebulae. Because we’ve just watched the series How the Universe Works, and it all comes back to stars, and stardust. (it’s not just Carl Sagan.)

One point the series repeatedly mentioned was how everything around us, everything in us, was created in the heart of a star (possibly several stars) and then scattered across the cosmos when that star went nova. And then regathered into our solar system and us.

The nebulae themselves, the star nurseries, are the remnants of other exploded stars.

Then, for a related concept, but of a different scale: They showed a map of how solar systems and galaxies are linked together, in an almost organic looking mesh, and the first thing that came to mind was illustrations of neural networks.

So I got to thinking: if everything that’s in me is stardust, and everything that makes up a star is stardust of other stars, and everything that makes up entire nebulae and galaxies is just more of the same, then it seems like I can do anything. I mean really – next to all of that grandeur and impossibility, what could possibly stop me?

In the past I’ve always put aside spending time on internal processes because I couldn’t see a direct benefit. But now I’m starting to see how a little internal work can clear up space for a whole lot of future possibility.

P.S.  Remarkably enough, I have a link for drawing your own nebulae. Here you go!

 

Early Morning Adventure. With Bonus Cats.

 

Three years ago if I was in bed before midnight, chances were good I was sick. We had weekly card parties that usually ran until two am. On Wednesdays. With a whole lot of wine. Needless to say, I wasn’t much of a morning person.

These days I’ve got a job that wants me at a certain place at a certain time, and I’ve discovered I like having a reasonable amount of puttering time before hand. So I’m usually up around six.

Getting up at four is still a bit of a stretch. But in order to get a shipment of cats up to Denver Dumb Friends League, it seemed reasonable. Mostly.

After we struggled through showers, clothing and coffee, we headed over to where the cats had spent the night. At first they seemed happy to see us, perhaps thinking we were there to free them from the adoption playpens to run about. They were less happy when we popped them into carriers and loaded them into the van.

It snowed the day before, and even through the sky was clear now, there was enough slush on the road to kick up and hit the bottom of the van, providing the percussion line to the chorus of meows. They were not happy cats, even with repeated assurances that they were all going off to find nice homes.

I-25 towards Springer is not the most beautiful part of Northern New Mexico. But then we had predawn light, and the sun started to raise mist from the snow, and it was breathtaking.

In Pueblo we met the very nice family who would take our passengers the rest of the way. I’d always thought of Pueblo as a place to stop and get gas, and then get back on the road. But we needed to stretch, and it wasn’t quite time for lunch yet.

We’ve been looking for a stand for the TV for a while now, so found a district that seemed to have a number of thrift/antique shops. Nothing quite for us, although there was a fabulous pink metal and crystal chandelier that nearly came home as an early unbirthday present for a friend.

 

And then we found the River walk. Did you know Pueblo had a river walk? Beautifully maintained, fun to explore, statues and random art bits, with shops and restaurants moving into the area? We walked down and around it, found the boats (sadly tied up for the season), watched the ducks, met a lovely puppy who’s going to be a very, very big girl one day, and generally had a pretty fantastic time.

We’re talking about going back for a weekend escape to explore more. Maybe taking up the bikes and seeing what their paths are like. Hopefully that’s not just the sleep deprivation talking.

 

Winter Sowing

In January we had an odd request for the young man who staffs the University’s recycling center. We wanted about thirty old milk jugs, for a different sort of recycling.

Over the next few weeks we washed them out, cut holes top and bottom, then slit them horizontally almost in half, leaving just enough under the handle to make a hinge.

On a bright New Mexico winter day we started planting, months before the last frost will come.

It’s called winter sowing – planting seeds in containers that you leave outdoors. The milk jugs make a sort of terrarium environment, and since the plants are outdoors already, you don’t have to deal with the whole hardening off business.

So far we’re having some success, a few beginning leaves coming up, and on the insides of almost all of the modified milk jugs there’s condensation – a signal that the conditions are staying favorable for growth.

Today we have snow. I’m worried about our little seedlings out there, but hopeful that the jugs are doing their job, and that this semi-exposed, semi-protected start to life will give our garden a robust start.

Winter is hard for me. I’m always desperate to see green, to push on through to spring. This winter I’m planting my own seeds early. Making plans, running experiments on how I do things, how I think of things. What do I want to do this summer, and how will I be ready for it.

Maybe I just need to think of winter as getting ready to grow, time to prepare. Without that gift of time, it’d be a poor garden.

We talk about a lot of things here…

Being gentle with ourselves, and the importance of small adjustments towards alignment.

Experiments in happiness and what does adventure mean, anyway?

What can happen when you say "Yes" and what might be waiting outside your front door.

And of course, why pretending to be a pterodactyl is good business.

 

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