POTD: Target Practice

Do you ever finish with a long day filled with an overwhelming urge to shoot something? Why don’t you? I know violence is not the answer to conflict when it comes to others. But controlled violence in a safe and friendly environment can be better than therapy. An hour or two spent at the shooting range making some noise and putting a bunch of holes in paper is guaranteed to make your day better.

A few of the ladies from my shooting league met on Friday for an unofficial start to regular practices. We didn’t run usual drills but someone came with a stack of fun paper targets to choose from including zombies, aliens, battleship, bowling pins and even anatomy practice. It’s amazing how quickly you burn through ammunition when the only goal is to have a safe good time at the range with a few friends but it was worth every round and every second.  


POTD: Summer Blooms

The universe was smiling on this Saturday morning at Sunset Hill Farm. I decided to get my weekend started with an early jog but, as per my usual practice, I kept getting distracted by all the beautiful nature around me. Summers in northern Indiana are overflowing with new growth and life and this day was no exception. 

These photos were taken at 9:30am with the Sun already high in the sky and the world aglow with the bright blooms of Valparaiso. Even if you’re on a mission, off to do exciting and important things, always take a little time to stop and smell the flowers. You’ll be glad you did.

Do Something!

Productivity breeds productivity. Today I went for a jog after work at 7:30pm. I meant to go jogging at 5:30 but I sat on my couch and checked Facebook and suddenly it was two hours later. There was nothing particularly special about today’s run other than the fact that it happened. I’ve fallen into the habit of making excuses not to do things. It’s too late. I still need to clean my apartment. I’ll be too tired to do anything else.

No matter what the reason is, there is always a voice in your head whispering why you shouldn’t do something. Such was the case for me today and I almost listened as I’ve grown accustomed to doing during social distancing. Things left to be finished tomorrow are never actually finished. Although I dragged my feet and wasted far too much time bustling around my apartment in search of socks and keys and running shoes, I did eventually do it. 

What’s more, I didn’t stop or walk for the entire route. It wasn’t much, just a short fifteen minute run through my neighborhood. I didn’t do it for distance or speed. I just did it. When I arrived back at my apartment, my legs and lungs burning from their first real workout in weeks, I avoided the couch. I did the dishes, tidied the living room, made dinner and started writing. I achieved more in half an hour than I often do in an entire weekend.

There are a lot of resources which recommend a full social media detox to boost productivity. I personally struggle with this as many of the groups I participate in communicate via Facebook and it is an easy way to stay connected with family and friends in Colorado. I do agree that this complete detox can be incredibly useful but on its own I’ve found that it isn’t quite enough. Reducing negative habits is fantastic but it is doubly effective when paired with strategies to grow positive routines.

Find something everyday, however small and seemingly insignificant, that you will accomplish. If your fluffy sofa is a regular black hole of well laid plans and good intentions then by all means, refrain from plopping down with your phone for some hypnotic scrolling until all other necessary tasks are completed. But success is more than abstaining from idle behavior. It comes when you create, build, grow, learn. So do something healthy and constructive every single day. Do more than stop wasting your time. Use it with purpose.

Chasing Seagulls

This short freewrite was inspired by one of my recent lazy beach days. We found the seagulls at Michigan City Beach to be a bit of a nuisance. They crowded around in a vulture-like fashion as soon as we cracked open the cooler and dug out our sandwiches for lunch. However, there was one person on the beach that was not shy about sending the seagulls flying. 

Her jaw is set, eyes ablaze as she charges across the beach. Small, weather-smoothed stones jut up from the wet sand to meet her bare feet but she hardly notices. A sharp gust ripples the glittering blue to her right, whipping her braids behind her shoulders, threatening to slow her progress. But the wind is no match for her. She unleashes a wild roar, arms thrust into the sky as she meets her foe. The two highlighter orange inflatable bands on her biceps make her look large and menacing. Her tiny feet send up a great spray in the shallow water as she gives chase to an offending flock of seagulls. They’re sent squawking and fluttering down the beach. 

“Good riddance!” She thinks quietly to herself as she turns on her heels and stomps purposefully back the way she came to where her mother waits with a towel and a bottle of 30 spf sunscreen. 

POTD: Unplug and Recharge

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, becoming glued to phone and computer screens. Especially in recent months, when electronic communication has been more important than ever, stepping away from technology has become even more of a challenge. This is one of the reasons that my parents’ visit from Colorado could not come soon enough. It was the first time since Christmas that we were able to spend quality, face-to-face time together. Although I talk to my mom over the phone on a nearly daily basis, there’s an entirely different connection which comes from occupying the same space. We made sure to fill our time with plenty of nature and sunshine. 

Apart from a few quiet moments in the evenings, we spent almost no time on our devices and instead relaxed at the beach or enjoyed walks through the neighborhood. It was a much needed break for all of us. There was no strict itinerary or deadline. We fell into the easy, quiet, hobbit-like rhythm of Indiana, relishing the neatly trimmed lawns, the kaleidoscope of emerald hues, and the gentle thunder of waves rolling across the sand which are unique to Indiana. 

POTD: Toes in the Sand

The lyrics to the Zac Brown Band song play in my head as I lounge in a beach chair at Michigan City Beach. Vacationing from Colorado, my mom was excited to share experiences that she couldn’t get at home. We spent the mornings reading and roasting on the shores of Lake Michigan and cooled off in the bright clear water. The sun-faded red roof of the lighthouse stood out against the pale hazy blue sky in the distance to our left. 

I hope to find more time for days like this throughout the summer. I may even acquire a little sea kayak and tour the waters along the beach and fully embrace the beach culture in northern Indiana. 

No Capes!

I recently had a craving for a refresher of the various adventures of the ultimate superhero family, the Incredibles. I was particularly excited to revisit some of my favorite Edna Mode moments. Sometimes I hear her brisk, matter-of-fact tones in my head, scolding me to confront my problems. 

I thought it would be fun to share a few of my preferred Edna quotes but as I rewatched The Incredibles, pen at the ready, I realized that most of what she says is pure gold. I ended up scribbling down all but a few words of her fantastic and hilarious monologues. In an effort to condense my list, I will only include Edna quotes from the original 2004 movie and I will avoid those that require conversational context. 

The Incredibles' Edna Mode Is Film's Best Fashion Character - Racked

Here are some snippets of wisdom that I learned from Edna Mode

  • “I never look back darling. It distracts from the now.” – Edna is not one to apologize for anything. She fixes her mistakes and moves on with her life.
  • “No capes!” – This was in reference to the many capable superheroes who met their untimely demise because of unfortunate wardrobe mishaps. However, I think there’s an added jewel of wisdom here that can be applied to everyday life. Don’t get so caught up looking like a hero that you forget to be one. Lead by example, not appearance. 
  • “Luck favors the prepared.” – I strive to emulate Edna’s practical mindset on a regular basis.
  • “You are Elastigirl! My god. Pull. Yourself. Together… You will show him that he is Mr. Incredible and you will remind him who you are.” – Edna punctuates each word of this quote by wrapping Helen (Elastigirl) over the head with a rolled up newspaper to knock some sense into her. I think at some point we all need this; that friend who’s not afraid to call it like it is and even go to war with us over our own stupidity if necessary. 
  • “Go. Confront the problem. Fight! Win!” – Stop whining, get up, and go fix your problems. This quote is often set to replay in my brain when I’m having trouble starting on especially difficult projects. 

Here are a few honorable mentions.

  • “My god, you’ve gotten fat.” – This is one of the first things that we hear Edna say to Bob (Mr. Incredible) when he visits for supersuit repairs. There’s nothing funnier than Edna’s brutal honesty delivered in her dry unsentimental tone. 
  • “The fabric is comfortable for sensitive skin and can withstand temperatures of over 1000 degrees. Completely bulletproof. And machine washable darling, that’s a new feature.” – The supersuite which Edna designed for baby Jack Jack combines the necessities of dangerous crime fighting with the needs of every curious young child. Jack Jack will be safe from enemy fire as well as any spills and stains. I love how these two fit together. 
  • “Virtually indestructible and it breathes like egyptian cotton.” – This was describing Helen’s new supersuit. Again, I love the combination of daring deeds with everyday use. It feels like an acknowledgment that Helen is a mom first.

I also came across some other unforgettable quotes from other characters but I may save those for another day.

Thanks Dad

Encouragement comes in many forms, including harsh critiques from your father. I had my first experience with this during my time on the high school cross country team. This is not one of those stories of an adorkable book nerd turned varsity super star after an inspirational pep talk about digging deep and figuring out what you’re made of. I am and always have been the nerd, not gifted with any extraordinary athletic ability. I did sports to stay in shape and have fun but had no dreams of crossing the finish line first. Instead, I lettered in academics and band and was happy with my cross country participation award. Being the fabulous supportive parents that they were, my mom and dad spent their saturday mornings driving to my meets and hiking around the courses to cheer me on throughout each race.

However, toward the end of sophomore cross country season, my dad said something to me that completely changed my attitude. He said, “I don’t think you’re really trying.” Out of context, this sounds like a horrific thing for a father to say to his fifteen year old daughter but, let’s be clear, my dad was not bashing my ability or degrading the quality of my character. It was more of an observation about the motive behind one of my after school hobbies. He wasn’t putting me down. He just felt that my other accomplishments were a bit more praise worthy. 

Still, it wasn’t the resounding congratulations that I’d grown up accustomed to hearing from my parents and it didn’t sit well with me. For one thing, I was rather pleased with myself for having the drive to even sign up for sports in the first place. I was proactively seeking ways to develop healthy habits and make friends which was considerably more than what many of my classmates opted for. But success isn’t defined by what other people choose to do. I think my dad knew exactly what he was doing when he made that comment. 

As previously stated, it didn’t sit well with me and there was but one natural response. “I’ll show you what trying looks like!” I spent the next two seasons giving it my all. I was at every summer practice even when I was the only one there which earned me a commitment award from my coach. He also had the brilliant idea to bribe us all to continue running throughout the summer by giving out t-shirts to whoever ran over one hundred miles during the off season. I rose to the challenge and I still have the t-shirt to prove it. All that summer running paid off when the season started and I shattered all of my personal records. I was still at the back of the pack but I was better than I’d ever been before. 

People always say that you shouldn’t care what others think and in many cases, I agree. You should absolutely be your own person and not waste your time trying to imitate anyone else or fit in with the crowd. But sometimes, it’s criticism from others, especially from those we love the most, that drives us to be our best. Sometimes you have to run like you have something to prove. Thanks dad!

Make sure to tell your dad you love him this Father’s Day.

Creative Rehabilitation

Photo by Gerd Altmann from Pexels

“It is easier to act yourself into a better way of feeling than to feel yourself into a better way of action.” – O.H. Mowrer

I came across this quote while working my way through Getting Things Done by David Allen. It is incredibly sound advice and yet, much easier said than done. Some of my most productive days occurred when I resolved to stay off Facebook and act like an adult; filing taxes, scheduling doctor’s appointments, maintaining the discipline to actually write everyday like I promised myself that I would. It’s so much easier to keep up the productive momentum once the ball is rolling. 

The tricky part is figuring out how to initiate that motion. There are some weeks when I feel like I could climb the tallest mountains and touch the stars. Then, there are those times when everything seems like such a hassle and I hesitate to start anything because I’d hate to run out of time and not be able to finish. This is a completely useless mentality and one which I regularly fight to suppress. Of course things might not get done on time but if they’re never started, they won’t get done at all. 

I’m not sure there will ever come a day when I feel like I have mastered the art of getting things done. Each time I renew my resolve to stay focused and maintain a constant and steady flow of productivity it feels a bit like being released from rehab again. It is a fresh beginning, full of fantastic possibilities. I am cleansed and refreshed and once again ready to take on the world. Sometimes, the eventual trip to creative rehabilitation feels inevitable and struggling against it seems like a lost cause but I always find my feet again. Today marks yet another new start in which I renew my promises to myself.

I will…

  • Go to bed on time.
  • Read and write everyday.
  • Limit screen time.
  • Actually do the dishes as I use them.
  • Exercise everyday, even if it’s only a 10 minute home workout.

These are just a few of my current personal goals but ones that I am constantly struggling with. It’s maddeningly easy to fall off the wagon and lose sight of your goals. Sometimes the best you can do is slap a smile on your face and go about your day as if you were in the mood to be productive. Fake it ‘til you make it and hold yourself accountable.

POTD: What is Happiness?

This was a question that I came across in the 2014 film, Hector and the Search for Happiness starring Simon Pegg. This is an all around heartwarming story and I recommend it to anyone looking for a true feel-good movie. It follows the journey of a disheartened psychiatrist on his quest to define happiness.  

While highly entertaining, it also left me with a question that I’ve returned to over the years and my answer is a little different every time. What is happiness? How do you define it? I may post some of my responses at a later date but for now, I just want to pose this question. Please share your thoughts in the comments. Everyone has their own brand of happy. What’s yours?