Escape from the screens

It’s been cold here in California for the last few weeks. The kids, used to spending a lot of time outside playing in paradise, have taken to sitting in front of screens. And then, when they aren’t in front of iPads and computers, they are bouncing off the walls. I have had to make more efforts to get them out doing things. Neither of them are interested in snow-related outside activities, which is a real travesty living here in the land of world-class skiing and snowboarding. But I follow what they want…

Yesterday, I took them to Ashland, Oregon for some play time. We’re members of the Science Works Museum and it’s one of our go-to places for indoor activities. For a max-claire-sciencesmall town, it’s quite an amazing kid’s museum. Of course, Max is turning into a teenager and turned his nose up at most of the activities while Claire was attacking everything head-on. I did get them both interested in the nanotechnology exhibit, though, so that’s something.

After the museum, we headed to Kaleidoscope Pizza in Medford. As a Chicago girl, I am not thrilled with what the west coast thinks of pizza. Kaleidoscope is the exception. Great pizza, fantastic salads, all in a beautiful restaurant. It’s usually packed, even at 2 pm. God help you if you want an evening table.

We’ve been looking at cars lately. I’ve been driving a Honda Civic Hybrid for years now. I’m really happy with my Honda. It’s given me exceptional gas mileage and great reliability. I’m almost to 100k miles on it. It’s seen every time zone in America. It’s been to the southeast, the northwest, and everywhere in between. It is a GREAT car.

It is a light car, however, and I live in the land of frozen ice packed streets. Last week, I almost slid into a concrete wall. I often have a hard time hauling large loads. Vacations are like car-packing tetris, arranging kids, adults, and a dog who wants to go everywhere with us, not to mention our stuff. If it was just me, I would stick with a smaller car. However, it is never just me in the car. So, I need something larger.

First thought has been to go back to an Audi. I had an Audi before I had the hybrid, and I love Audis. I miss my Audi.

Max, however, has been looking at Mercedes. My mom drives a Mercedes. And so, we decided to look at Mercedes. We stopped at the Mercedes dealership in Medford to check out an M class.

The kids had other ideas. Ideas that involved convertibles and no back seat. The salesman was awesome and let them explore and play.

max-mercedes

claire-mercedes

Funny how they choose cars with no back seat when they’ll be spending most of their time in the back seat of the one I get myself!

I’m sold on an M class for reasons I can’t even enumerate. It’s time to get a new car. And I’m sold on the M350 at this point.

Of course, as soon as I make that decision, I see Audi Q7s everywhere. The universe sure does have a sense of humor.

 

 

Happiness versus Meaning

franklThere was an interesting article recently in the Atlantic entitled There’s More to Life That Being Happy. The article is on Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning, which was one of the most influential books I’ve read in my life. I suppose I owe a thank you to whichever college professor assigned it to me at this point, but I cannot remember which one did!

According to the article, most Americans say they’re happy. But they don’t have much meaning in their life.

We are blessed to live in an amazing place, where most of us have abundant resources at our immediate disposal. We have everything that we could ever want or need. We have a general state of happiness. But we seek to fill the hole of a seemingly meaningless existence by receiving even more. It doesn’t work. And we numb the hole with addictions.

A movie (available on Netflix streaming) called Jeff, Who Lives at Home, deals with a similar issue. I highly recommend it; great characters, great writing, and a great story.

Jeff finds that, even though he has all the comforts of home, he hasn’t found meaning in his life. So he follows synchronicity that leads him to do something extraordinary, something that gives him that feeling of meaning. He finds it. I won’t spoil it, but I will say that it underscores Frankl’s message.

According to Frankl, happiness comes from receiving. Meaning comes from giving.

I would argue that to live a good life, you need a little of both. And I’d also argue that if we think we aren’t receiving or giving, we’re not attuned to our nature as human beings. We’re always giving and receiving. It’s part of our existence here on earth.

Inspired ManifestationIn Mark’s book, Inspired Manifestation, he talks about our natural place in this cycle of life. We’re constantly in a state of giving and receiving. Even if you feel you’re at the end of your rope, you are receiving something.

Even if all you are doing is breathing, you are receiving. And as you exhale, you are giving.

At your most basic level, you have all of the elements of both happiness and giving available to you now. You are giving. And you are receiving.

The key is to notice the most basic level of your place in that cycle, then extrapolate that back up to something much larger than that. Expand your notion of who you are. As you claim your place in the cycle of giving and receiving, you expand your experience and attention given towards your place in the cycle of All That Is.

Expansion Beyond The Self
Your ego, or your sense of self, divorces you from that cycle and divorces you from your ability to receive and give, and give and receive. You think you are the end-all, be-all. OK, ego, you have a place. Thanks for protecting us from being hurt. From bears. From saber-tooth-tigers and angry jerks. But you don’t run the show, ego.

We are a part of something much larger than ourselves. We are no more divorced from the ocean as a drop of water, to be cliche. We are a part of a large community of billions of souls on this planet, and we came here with purpose. With meaning. With something to do. Everyone you touch gives you an opportunity to give, and an opportunity to receive. Every interaction gives you an opportunity to expand a sense of meaning.

Says Frankl, “Being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself — be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself — by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love — the more human he is.”

In becoming more human, you become more than human. In embracing your place as a giver and receiver, you become all that you were destined to become. You find your meaning. You find out who you really are. And you make the world a better place with everything you do.

If you seek more — whether it be happiness, meaning, or experience — then expand your sense of who you are. Live up to the responsibility of who you chose to be here.

You are an amazing human being that has immense meaning on this earth. And like your breath, all you must do is notice that you are. The evidence is already there.

See, isn’t that great? Meaning and happiness are already there for you. Just notice it. No heavy lifting here.

 

2013

snow-flake

We survived the holidays. Barely. Max came home from school one day with a sore throat. Of course, that was the day before the snowstorm hit. Within 48 hours, we were all sick. We also had about 6 feet of snow in the driveway by the end of it.

I was grateful I hit the stores before the storm and sickness, grateful for not having anywhere to go, and grateful that the kids seems to process through the virus quickly. I was even more immensely grateful seeing my awesome neighbor with heavy equipment in my driveway during one break in the snowfall. He cleared the driveway just enough for me to get out to the store and get some more kid’s Advil. Apparently grape flavored Advil is so last year and completely unacceptable to Claire’s discerning palate.

christmas-2012-snow3

I tried clearing the driveway again the next day, but the plows had come through and made a rock solid berm of snow that made me cry. Literally. I stooed at the edge of the driveway with a shovel and realized that there was no clearing the Luckily, awesome neighbor bailed me out again. And as a return favor I had the pleasure of babysitting their awesome dog for a couple of days.

christmas-2012-snow2

I may live in the snowiest microclimate in all of California, but I have awesome neighbors and great views and it makes it worth it. Also, escaping to a warmer climate takes all of 45 minutes.

I really should take up skiing or something if I am going to live here. The locals seem to really enjoy the white stuff. I suppose after 3 years of living in Mount Shasta, I should do as the Romans do and stop pining for paradise.

Can I blame the Midwest for ruining me for snow?

I am not complaining. I lived in Texas for 2.5 years. I think after that, I can live anywhere and be happy about it. With apologies to Texans I actually like (all 5 of them), I didn’t like Texas very much.

I have high hopes for 2013. We continue to be blessed in ways I cannot enumerate. The kids are healthy, growing, strong, kind and hilarious. My work keeps turning into adventures of exploration. I have great friends both near and far.

I have many goals for 2013. I plan on doing about 1,500 miles of hiking, running, and walking. That’s about 30 miles a week. So far, so good. But 1,500 is a lot of miles, you know. Good thing it will be a long year.

Santa brought us a piano, an ice cream maker, and a soda stream. I plan on learning at least 10 songs on the piano, making all sorts of frozen treats that aren’t loaded with sugar, and lots of carbonated water.

I also plan on writing more, taking more pictures, and being more public about the truly amazing miracle that is my life.

Life is so good.