What You Can Do

Stop. Refuel.

Doug Fields writes in his book Refuel:

…a life without margins is a life in or rapidly approaching chaos. A marginless day is crammed with running, driving, chasing, little time to catch your breath, and limited time to think something through or decompress…Why is it, with all these luxuries, technologies and time-saving devices in our lives, that we’re still busy, tired and marginless? I believe it’s because a series of lies has barged in and taken root in our lives.

Those lies are:

  • There’s just not enough time to do everything.
  • I’m just in the busy season right now.
  • But this is really, really important.
  • Success and busyness are synonyms.
  • We create much of our busyness for ourselves and then complain we have no time. This has become such a problem in the modern world that Timothy Ferriss writes, “Being busy is a form of laziness — lazy thinking and indiscriminate action. Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing…Being selective — doing less — is the path of the productive.”

    Much of this is in your control. Don’t wake up someday and wonder where the time has gone. It’s always there with this reminder:

    Don’t waste it.

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    Be an Explorer. Yes You.

    A few posts ago, I mentioned some of the activities you should be engaging in before summer vanishes and you start complaining about the cold. They revolved around activities outside. That’s right, outside, as in not in a buiilding.

    Even in the great outdoors, we can’t seem to leave our electronics home. It wasn’t that long ago where if you said you were going camping for the week, that’s the last anyone heard from you for a couple days. Now you’re expected to blog, text, tweet, call and face time every step of the way. There is hope for us.

    Richard Louv expertly argued in his books Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle the importance of nature in our lives. While technology has often improved our lives, it can be an impediment, especially through the “entertainment” it brings with it. So it’s with certain irony that geocaching has brought tech to the woods and let millions become explorers again.

    In the old days, you would use a compass and map to engage in the sport of orienteering. Find hidden caches or capture the opponent’s flag, it could be quite the weekend adventure. Then came GPS and someone said, “Let’s hide stuff in the woods and others can try to find it with their GPS.” Years – and millions of hides and finds later – geocaching continues to grow. In spite of that, it lives a strange existence of many still not knowing about it, to being almost a secret society to others.

    Paul and Dana Gillin chronicle the sport in their book The Joy of Geocaching. They write how it dovetails with many other outdoor hobbies, is an inexpensive way to spend time with friends and family, brings enthusiasts together from all walks of life, among other points. Perhaps most importantly, geocaching appeals to the “restless and inquisitive” and as one geocacher wrote that he found, “most caches were placed in these out-of-the-way places. It’s not what the tourism office thinks you should see; it’s what people in the community think you should see.”

    Indeed, many parks and communities have embraced geocaching, while some government entities (no surprise here) have seen it has something to ban or regulate. I once had a cache in a very scenic, but oft forgotten, corner of a state park. Over the years, many of the cache finders commented on how they didn’t know about the place so close to home or had forgotten it. But apparently increased business on tax-payer funded lands didn’t sit well with the parks and they made it harder for caches to be put in place. Most were pulled out.

    Regardless of such irrationality, geocaching still a perfect way to ignite the explorer in all of us. You can armchair it all you want in front of the tube, but that will never be the same as putting on your Indy hat, lacing up your boots and heading out the door. Even if it’s just discovering what you have been missing in your own community, it’s like discovering a lost world.

    The Space Age has put the power to explore in your hands. What are you waiting for?

    geo

    Categories: Nature, What You Can Do | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

    Summer is Here, Grab it and Don’t Let Go

    Last year I wrote how Dandelion Wine is a classic book setting the tone of summer. This year, let me suggest five goals for your summer:

    1. Catch fireflies (or lightning bugs, as we call them). If nature didn’t have enough lifeforms whose complexity defies chance, here’s one that no kid, or adult, should go the summer months without catching.

    2. Look at the stars. Why spend a cool, summer night in front of the television? It doesn’t take an expensive telescope or pair of binoculars to explore the night sky or the Moon. Be connected to our ancestors who studied the heavens for many millennia. Rediscover Earth’s paradox: A speck among the vast cosmos — a cosmos that conspired to allow it to exist against all odds.

    3. Visit an old-fashioned amusement park. One that has been around for decades and in some ways has retained some of the original atmosphere. Sure, we have enough amusement, but the rides, sounds, lights and people from all walks makes for an experience all too rare. Hopefully, they are not a dying breed.

    4. Build a campfire. Forget the stove or the grill. Build it from scratch and cook over hardwoods like mankind has done since the dawn. Maybe it’s the dancing flames or the aromatic smoke that brings us back to simpler times. Or perhaps the bringing of people together is a reminder of what we have lost.

    5. Notice all these activities are outside? Here are some more: Geocaching, Hiking, Exploring (Waymarking).

    Summer is a time to stop the busyness and replace it with life. The good life.

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    What do You Buy?

    Such a simple idea, but so few do it:

    mjp

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    Are You Prepared?

    It’s National Preparedness Month and I can’t help to wonder why something so simple is so overlooked by many. Just look how quickly shelves went bare a few weeks ago when water supplies went bad in northern Ohio. Or how people wipe out the bread, milk and toilet paper in the face of a two day snow storm.

    Sometimes I wonder how civilization made it this far. What would happen in a far larger, sustained disaster? It doesn’t take much time or money to prepare. I don’t mean you have to be one of those hardcore prepper types, but could you and your family make it a few days without electricity and access to stores? Would your life break down and spiral out of control without a phone and the internet? What would you eat and drink? If it is winter, how would you heat?

    sur

    Fiction is littered with apocalyptic tales of survival. These imagine what would happen in a complete collapse. What attracts so many to these tales is that they are way to explore the best, and worst, in man.

    end

    They also serve as a warning: Pay attention. Don’t get lost in the useless and let others be responsible for the direction of yourself, your nation or humanity. Don’t take life for granted. Many a civilization has fallen, ones far older than our own. We think ourselves as unsurpassed in intelligence and greatness.

    So did they.

    Categories: Books, Fiction, What You Can Do, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Today is the Day

    Angela Misri's author page

    Today is the day Get out there people, write something that makes you Proud.

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    Categories: What You Can Do, Writing | Tags: | Leave a comment

    The Return of the Local Bookshop?

    I’ve seen many “Buy Local” type movements crop up in recent years, including Small Business Saturday this past weekend. The reasoning behind these events and campaigns is that strong local businesses form a foundation for a strong economy. They also know local markets better. Both of these statements are true.

    It is also true that vibrant towns have a mix if employers: Local, regional and national. I don’t buy the “big companies are evil” mantra. They are a vital part of our economy. Nor does supporting local business mean blindly doing so. You can’t sell a product significantly higher than the Big Store down the road and expect people to just buy yours just for local sake. You still have to compete. Contrary to popular belief, Wal-Mart doesn’t have everything.

    Having wrote all that, independent booksellers are making a comeback in some areas. In spite of the rise of ebooks, there is still a market for paper books. The collapse of Borders left a huge hole in many places for book lovers. Indie bookstores can order any book you want, but they also can supply what you have never seen before. Often local authors, indie presses and other books under the national radar. No matter how well-connected I am on-line with books, I’m constantly surprised by what I find browsing bookstores.

    It’s the best of both worlds.

    I spend a lot of time in Barnes & Noble and have been ordering from Amazon since before people realized it wasn’t a rainforest. Whenever I can find a small bookstore, however, I check it out and see if it warrants support. Or I spend time wishing someone would open one.

    A local bookstore can be a focal point of your town. Seek them out and give them a visit. You never know what treasure you may find.

    Categories: Books, What You Can Do, Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

    Ancient Civilizations: Have six hours to spare?

    Ancient history is fascinating, even if you don’t know it yet. But who has time to learn, read or go take a class? Think about all that dead time driving back and forth to work. How about using that time to expand your horizons? Yes? Check this out: Origins of Great Civilizations.

    This 12 lecture course gives a detailed introduction to the civilizations of the ancient Near East: Sumer, Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, Persia and many others. An enjoyable primer to the foundations of advanced societies.

    Update: Want to delve deeper into Egypt? Think about it, their civilization spanned over 3000 years. We haven’t even hit 300. Check out Great Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt for a great primer on the people who preceeded the Greeks and Romans.

    Categories: Ancient Sites, What You Can Do | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

    Historic Preservation

    Another way you can protect historic sites is through the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Go here to learn more and join.

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    You Can Protect History

    Many are interested in our history. We read books on those who came before us. Maybe we can’t go out and dig for ancient artifacts, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some tangible involvement. For every interest or cause there is some group that, with your support, accomplish what you would like to do if you could. Want to protect America’s history? Then check out the Archaeology Conservancy. Since 1980 they have protected hundreds of sites in the United States. We have had a bad habit of burying, flooding or bulldozing our history. Some of this stems from the misconception that there wasn’t much here in the past. That past, however, often whispers advice and lessons that would be beneficial to our future.

    Categories: Ancient America, Native Americans, What You Can Do | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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