Tag Archives: past

Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Heritage

I’ve posted a series of photos from a recent visit to the Slate Run Historical Farm.  Most of these are from the animals that we encountered, but here are a couple of images that remind us of how a farm in the 1800’s would be run.

First, wood will need to be chopped year-round for cooking, and in the winter months for heat:

Chopping Wood

And the wind will be used to dry the wash:

Clothes Line

These are but two examples of the traditions and practices that we are reminded of when we visit historic places.  For me, these places serve as reminders of the past and reminders that for those of us with electricity and heat, how good we have it today.

And for this specific purpose, they are my response to the Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Heritage from Across the Bored.

Feeding the Ducks

Feeding the Ducks

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

`Albert Einstein, via Interlude Thought of the Day on April 17, 2013

When I was a kid we would travel to my grandparents in Michigan.  On almost every trip we’d pop popcorn on the stove, put it in bags, and head to the local pond to feed the ducks.  I remember how it felt being close to these animals, to look into their eyes and try to understand what it was like living as a duck.

I can’t say that I ever really figured out what it means to be a duck, but I think it was these kinds of moments when I started to gain an understanding that I wasn’t that different. They got hungry just like me, and seemed to enjoy the popcorn just like me.  Some of them would sleep or warm themselves in the sun, just like I enjoyed the warmth of the sun on a chilly day.  They were alive and part of the world, and there I was connecting with them (albeit through bribery!).

I’m not sure if the little kid above is having a similar experience, but I hope that he’s starting to recognize what Einstein did.

Have a great weekend!

Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Special

My grandfather lived into his early 90’s.  He was a lifelong learner with incredible curiosity and passion for life.  After he passed we were going through the items in my grandparents apartment and we came across this piece of paper:


An asana, at least in the west, is typically defined as a body position, often within the practice of yoga.   Based upon the location and placement with other papers, it was clear that this was a recent project.  Not once had my grandfather spoken of a yoga practice, and yet, here is a man in his late 80’s or early 90’s taking the time to develop a practice.

I’ll never know if his intent was to improve physically, spiritually, or both, but I take from this piece of paper the lesson that we’re never too old to learn something new.  We’re never too old to begin a new practice or skill.  As long as we remain curious, passionate, and engaged, we continue to grow.

That’s why this piece of paper is my answer to Across the Bored’s question, “What is special for you?”

The Great Outdoors

Child on Bike

The smell of grass and leaves. The warmth of the sun.  The steam that each breath produces when warm air meets cold with each breath.  The burning of lungs and the soreness of muscles.  All of these sensations remind me of my childhood.

There was a ravine in our neighborhood that we loved to explore.  Sometime there was no water, and sometimes it was a running fast.  We’d ride our bikes, mine was a Murray BMX, to the ravine.  On the other side was a field.  We’d play football or baseball, whatever the season dictated.

No matter the season we’d walk our dog.  I remember one walk that was especially cold – below zero – and bundled up and made a real adventure out of the experience.  We’d survived the extreme cold!

Metro parks and state parks were special spots.  Once we went to beach, but it’s always been the forest and hiking trails that draw me in.  A summer cabin in northern Michigan provided row-boat adventures and fishing stories.

There is a peace that comes with sitting quietly, listening to the wind in the leaves and songs of the birds.  Hiking a trail creates a similar peace.  It’s when I disconnect from the human-made world and integrate with the natural world that I feel most at home.

Yes, being outside, in all the mid-western variations, can trigger a memory from the past.  These memories often produce a smile, sometimes laughter, rarely a tear.  Perhaps that’s why I enjoy being outside so much as an adult.

Defining Success

A man in a car, trapped in traffic yelling at his cell phone above labeled Successful Man, and a man walking with a smile on his face below labeled Unsuccessful Man.

As I was reviewing the posts from the week, I started to notice a theme related to success, and it reminded me of the above cartoon. I enjoy most of Andy Singer’s work, for both its style and message, and this message got me thinking about how I define the success of my life.  Three key points come to mind, with some thoughts about how they relate to the image:

  1. I’m able to provide for my family.  This doesn’t mean that we need to be rich.  It means that we can meet our basic needs. Walking and biking are two perfectly acceptable means of transportation (though we do travel by car).
  2. I have a positive influence on the lives of others.  I realize that this won’t always be the case, but in general, I want to help others reach their potential and live happy and productive lives.  Minimizing my impact to the planet and setting a positive example are two ways that I can do this.  Not yelling at others and being angry with them is another.
  3. I keep a positive approach to how I live my life and to recognize the gift of life.  Taking the time to walk, smile, and enjoy the company of my family (human and non-human) is a key element in accomplishing this goal.

I’m not always successful in meeting all of these goals, especially the last two, but I give it my best each day.  And on the days that I’m not successful, I try to learn and adapt so that tomorrow is better.  Sure, I make mistakes and wish that I could take things back, but when I think it through, I’m not sure that’s such a good idea.

Every significant mistake or action I’d like to take back has created an important learning opportunity.  If I erase the event as if it never happened, I’ll lose the benefit of the lesson learned. No thanks.  My mistakes enable my success, so I’d rather keep them with me.

I think that most people within American culture have goals similar to those I’ve outlined above, though I’ve definitely met many that have the materialistic definition of success implied in Singer’s cartoon.

How do you define success in your life?  Is it different from, or aligned with, your culture’s definition of success?

Utah quarter with a 2007 date

Daily Prompt: Buffalo Nickel

In response to the Daily Post writing prompt on February 24, 2013.

Prompt: Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?

There are two dates on the coin that I found (pictured above – yay! a quarter!). The first is 1896, the year that Utah became a state. The second is 2007.

Dates serve as markers within the linear conception of time. Seemingly frozen, they serve to remind us of events. However, most change doesn’t occur instantly – it happens over time – and this fixed and static view can conceal the natural flow of events that result in the events that are marked.

As I look back, 2007 was a normal year of work and family, and at first glance there isn’t much exciting to report. There are no significant markers. No births, deaths, adoptions, job changes, or other notes that jump out as significant changes or accomplishments.

If we perform a quick search on Wikipedia, we learn that Utah became a state in 1896, but that the process of becoming a state started much earlier. In a similar way, 2007 can be seen as a year that served as a precursor for changes that are etched in the learnrunwrite timeline. Two items that run almost continuously throughout 2007 are:

  1. An interest in expanding my career
  2. An ever-growing midsection 

A little more about each:

Career Expansion – in 2007 I became restless in my then-current role and started to explore career possibilities beyond the boundaries of my role within the organization. I started to network, openly exploring career options throughout the company. I took a few classes and explored different possibilities. Ultimately I landed a new job in 2008.

While the job change falls neatly within the 2008 timeline, the work that made it possible began in 2007.

Midsection Growth – I gained a lot of weight in 2007, or maybe from birth until 2007, but it really became noticeable in 2007. And though it took me a long time realize it, in April of 2008 I started running for the first time since high school. I did this because I needed to lose weight and start living a healthier lifestyle.

Some of the actions I took included starting a run-walk-run program, run 1 minute, walk 2 minutes; run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute, etc… until I could run for 30 minutes without walking. I read, The Courage to Start, by John “The Penguin” Bingham, and other running books.  And eventually, I joined a local running group that led me to the completion of my first marathon in 2009.

It might sound strange, but I believe that had I not packed on the pounds throughout 2007, I’d bet that I don’t start running in 2008.  2007 set the conditions required to initiate change!

So, even when it seems like nothing cool is happening and you feel like your life is boring, remember that you don’t run a marathon all at once.  It happens one step at a time.  And sometimes that means we might not have the large, exciting, shiny milestones to etch into our timelines, but if we keep working toward our goals they will come.

What long-term goals are you working toward?

Learning From The Past

In response to The Daily Post writing prompt on February 9, 2013.

Prompt: So, you turned out pretty good, but is there anything you wish had been different about your childhood? If you have kids, is there anything you wish were different for them?

My childhood was pretty good. Though my parents were divorced, both were around. I didn’t want for much beyond the normal kid stuff. I played sports, had a paper route, and got to go on vacation. All in all, I enjoyed my childhood.

And yet, I’ve spent a lot of time in my life living in the past and not being in the present. It’s little things, daily interactions, bad decisions that weren’t catastrophic to my life but have left me with the sense that I screwed up that I tend to dwell upon. The irony is that for all the time that I’ve spent in the past reliving these moments, the present is the only opportunity I have to act. It’s the only time I can actively determine who I am.

It’s taken me a long time, but I’m starting to learn how to view the past in a way that allows me to learn from it without dwelling on the things that I wish were different. When I find something in my past that I wish were different, I try to uncover what led to the result that I wish could be changed. If there is something that I could have done differently, then I try to keep that in mind as I interact today and make that change in behavior a habit. If it’s something that I couldn’t have changed – like my parents divorce – I try to think about how I can react in a way that facilitates growth instead of getting stuck in that place.

I don’t think that there are many people that can’t find something that, if given the chance, they would change about their past. And though there are many people that have had things happen in their past that are terrible, the impact of the event doesn’t change the fact that we cannot alter the past. What we can do is learn from these events – large or small – and change how we act today.

Do you have any good strategies or techniques for moving from the past into the present?