inspiration

#MondayMotivation - Get Creative!

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This past week I took an online course to expand my creativity. I didn’t know what to expect, didn’t know what I believed about creativity, and didn’t know how I’d participate. Turns out, it wasn’t hard because the prompts and ideas were all so open and there was zero pressure. Without going on and on about it, just know that I took a ton of knowledge away from this course and it truly opened my mind to other ways to be creative.

The course had me doodling and writing daily, which forced me to slow down and dedicate time to thinking creatively. Taking time to be creative or to get my thoughts out was one of the best things. I wrote daily in my personal journal as well as the creative class journal I was keeping. It felt good to just write whatever I wanted, without needing to present it or do it a certain way.

Sometimes I get stuck on what to read/listen to/write/create next. Sometimes a little push or a search session on YouTube unearths something new. I got creative, and I’m now exploring new ideas and seeing things slightly differently.

How do you get creative? How do you get through a mental block?

#MondayMotivation - Let it go!

If you can, let that shit go. Stop and think, is it worth holding on to this baggage? Is that point necessary? I have to do this a lot, and can stand to do it more, but letting go is the BEST feeling. SO, let it go if you can, and if you can’t I’d suggest finding a way to confront/deal/breakdown whatever the issue is. Here’s a picture or two to distract.

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#MondayMotivation - Go forward and get ready!

Thanks for unintentionally motivating me

Inspiration can come from many places and this time it was a simple message from someone in the online outdoor community who I admire so much and want to camp/hike with eventually. I don’t think the message was intended to be motivational, but here I am writing a little blurb about how it lit a fire under my ass.

Keep going, work harder

I really want to be able to start somewhere at dawn, hike all day, gain thousands in elevation, camp, and hike back out. I think the pros call it “backpacking” or something, but yeah, that’s what I want to seriously get in to and I’ve been saying it for a while. This fall the plan is to hike to Guadalupe Peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park as well as do several practice backpacking runs in local state parks with “primitive” hike-in sites. I’ve never been more motivated to do these things because next year, I want to head to the real mountains (you know, the ones with snow on top and stuff out west) with people and feel completely limitless.

Other things that are motivational this Monday…

  • Cooler weather, though it’s still really damn humid

  • Fall hiking and camping ahead

  • Family camping weekend

  • Potential trips to Minnesota and Washington in October

  • People that just keep livin’ and making the best of life

In other news…

I’ve been on a quest to get healthier and I’m at week 10 with a little bit of a stall, but that’s being revamped too. I’m not exercising enough and I’m not even close to hiking enough. It’s been hot and miserable and I’ve been relying on it as my go-to excuse. I’m sure there’s a pattern of this behavior, if I looked back, because this is how I operate. I get lazy, bored, blah blah blah.

It’s not about the pounds for me and I need to convince myself of that. I just want to be healthier and able to go up that mountain or live past 40. I’m not an all or nothing guy and I shouldn’t treat adjustments to eating and exercise that way either. Everything in moderation, avoid excessive crap, at least walk an hour a day, and continue training for the 5K.

I’m not sure if this is motivation for you, but know that I’m rooting for you in whatever you’re doing and I’m here to say GET IT! Work hard, forgive yourself, and keep going!

#MondayMotivation - Technology Overload

I'm addicted to my phone.  It's plain, simple, and very real.  I always have it with me, rarely make calls, occasionally text and hardly ever use it for emails.  I visit Instagram, Twitter, and occasionally Facebook to stare at things that often don't matter.  I use it to browse Reddit, check the news, take photos, and manage my finances.  I can be found using it for navigating through traffic, tracking my hikes, and logging my meals to stay on track.  It is the most use tech tool in my life.

I am on a Verizon Wireless unlimited plan, meaning I'm mostly unlimited in my data usage until about 22 GB when they often throttle my speeds during peak hours or when I'm in areas with too many users and not enough bandwidth.  By day 17 of each month, I'm hitting 22 GB of usage, meaning the remaining five days are spent using very slow speeds to look at the same thing over and over for no reason.  The problem is, when I need to actually do something productive, it's challenging because I've wasted so much data on the useless and I'm stuck.

I'm easily addicted to things that give me instant satisfaction - my phone, food (for taste and fullness), alcohol, attention, etc.  I'm working to control my relationship with food, so why not try and control my interaction with my devices.  I'm currently downloading an app (seems counterproductive, but hang on) to help train my brain to quit being so dependent on the tech and to help me focus more on life.  I've set alerts for my data usage, early on, so I'm aware and can be informed when I'm indulging too much.  For the sake of value, I want to utilize the full 22 GB, I just want to do it over 30 days instead of 15.  In reality, if I can reduce my usage and keep it consistent for a few months, I'd like to switch to a cheaper prepaid plan.

I know, many people are in disbelief of this whole situation of tech addiction and I understand that disbelief.  As someone that didn't get a smartphone until they were already popular, I didn't think I'd ever spend as much time or money on them as I have in my lifetime, but here I am.

I'm pledging, in black and white, right here...

  1. I will not buy a new phone until this one becomes unusable or 2021, whichever is first.
  2. I will not use more than 22 GB of data, unless I'm on work assignment and do not have access to internet. (as work does pay for part of the phone)
  3. I will limit my usage of social media apps to an appropriate level - may be adjusted as necessary.
  • Instagram - a time limit of 25 minutes per day
  • Facebook - remove the app (done 7/19/2018)
  • Twitter - a time limit of 25 minutes per day, unless a chat is happening

Going forward, when I want to check a social app, I'm going to open my Kindle App instead to get ahead on a chapter in my book - likely a better use of five minutes.  Nothing on social media is worth wasting so much time over.  If people want to connect, they can send me a message.  Fear of missing out is real, but what I'm missing is NOTHING and I need to wrap my head around that.

I'm currently looking for an app to help me train my brain, so any suggestions will be welcomed.  I need to work on my "bored clicking" in Chrome too, but that's another topic for another day.

What are some ways you use to limit the technology in your life?  Leave a comment if you'd like!

This is from our family cottage on Grand Lake - in Presque Isle, Michigan.  With less time spent on social apps, I hope to use that time to re-imagine old photos and write the stories of my past.

#MondayMotivation - Reflect & Regroup.

I think losing someone you love is a long, slow burn. There's the initial spark of immediate grief followed by the moments along the way when they come up and you remember again that they’re gone.  It's not bad, it's not good, it's just life. I feel eventually it’ll just be a low flicker or that tiny flame that will never go out. For now, with everything so fresh, it’s one of those big bonfires you have one when you drink a little too much.

It's been four years since my granny passed and only days since my grandfather and it's the same “woah” feeling every time I come across some random thing that makes me think of either of them.  A memory, a moment, something they would have loved, or something they helped me achieve. I’m not one to dwell on things, but I have been known to get caught up in a moment every now and then and completely lose it over something so small but so important to my memory.  Today I’m using the grief, the moments, the memories, and the flames of loved ones who have passed as motivation to continue to live a life I love and move forward with purpose. I remember the people who passed as strong, helpful, and wise in their own ways and if here, now,  would only continue to push me forward and motivate me to be a better human. Use your pain, past experiences, and downtrodden moments as fuel to keep moving. If you don’t have inspiration right now, take some of mine and run with it, I don’t mind.

Death has this cliche effect on me that causes me to reflect and regroup.  I think it’s natural, from what I’ve read, but I feel it's still cliche and a little absurd.  I wonder if I’m living life the way I should or taking care of myself enough, among other things.  I really do like the excuse to reflect and regroup, but I need to do it more consistently along the way - not just when I lose a loved one.  Here’s to more reflection, but not too much that I fall into a downward spiral of doubt - a happy balance.

Happy trails and I wish anyone reading this a wonderful week ahead.

#MondayMotivation - The nervous and excited energy of just getting out there

I still think back to my first, and only, camping trip to Arches National Park.  It was part of a great road trip involving two friends that went from Michigan to the west coast and back.  My camping prior to 2009 was limited to the Great Lakes and I really hadn’t been in the middle of nowhere like you are in Arches or along US-50 in Nevada.  This trip in 2009 was my first real hiking through a National Park, my first middle of nowhere camping trip, and my first time TRULY appreciating the little things like a campfire, cold beer, or a crappy hotel room.  When I sit here and think it’s too hard to get outside or it’s too far, I think back to that trip.  We camped, road tripped, stayed in hotels, hiked, and everything in between all on a budget and with time constraints.  I now look to my peers and see them doing all of the activities from simple car camping to backpacking trips and beyond and I’m motivated.  I’m glad to be connected to so many people doing things I had never even heard of before.  I’m glad to have memories of being a bit nervous about traveling across the country and camping, but also just so excited.  I’m motivated today by my desire to keep that feeling going and the desire to just go for it – whatever activity that may be.  Happy trails and stay motivated!

#MondayMotivation - 2017 Was a Damn Good Year

Today is my aunt’s birthday, and I was looking back at photos to share in a Facebook post to celebrate her life.  I went scrolling through the 2017 photos to rediscover that we had some fun nights, plenty of summer boat days, spirited holiday gatherings, and a nice hike at one of my favorite local spots.  While scrolling through I got distracted, as I often do, by all of the hikes and all of the beautiful places I visited throughout the year and it led me to one conclusion:  2017 was a damn good year.

I embarked on the 52 Hike Challenge, not knowing what to expect.  Looking back the results were all I could have hoped for.

  • I got out more, every week to be precise

  • I reconnected with nature

  • I met a ton of virtual support

  • I saw new things, beautiful things, some that were right in my own state

  • I started to get a better mental clarity

  • I didn’t really get in “better” shape, but I maintained a weight for most of the year and strengthened my legs

  • I spent valuable time with friends on the trail

  • It let me to find my passion - getting people outdoors - and I’m finally branching into that area of helping people get outdoors and finding that equality balance

  • It didn’t cost me a lot of money, well to actually get outside anyway

  • It kept me sane, grounded, and on schedule with other things in my life

  • It’s helped me get even more fired up for our public lands and all that we need to do to protect and fund them

I visited a few National Park units, plenty of local state parks, and some new local trails.  I spent more time outdoors in 2017 than I had in the six years prior.  I haven’t been this excited for life in a LONG time.  I grew up with hundreds of acres at my disposal and I was always outside.  As I aged into those teenage years, I found myself outside less but still not opposed to spending time in the woods or at the lake.  In college, I camped and road tripped so the outdoors was back in play, a little.  I eventually took a job a city park ranger and did some unrelated trail work for my major - wildlife management.  A few trips here and there through the years had me camping in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Arches National Park, and along the Loneliest Road in the USA.  When I moved to Texas in 2011, the outdoors seemed to be on the back burner.  I did a lot of boating and I did a few road trips between 2012 and 2017, but it wasn’t until the hiking challenge that my fire for the outdoors was reignited.

I can’t picture myself just sitting around all weekend ever again.  Sure, I have moments when I’m just feeling lazy, but the desire to be camping or hiking always wins.  Road trips west to the Oregon Coast, Redwood National & State Parks, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and western Texas over the past six years were the kindling and wood but the 52 Hike Challenge was the flame that set me on fire again.  If you find yourself feeling a bit unsure, find something that will challenge you to be a better version of yourself.  I’m not implying that everyone responds to challenges the same way, I’m just saying they work for a lot of people and maybe they’ll work for you.  Set attainable goals, focus on things you love, and find your happy place(s).  Surround yourself, in person or virtually, with people that support you and your goals.  My year of motivation is something I’m looking back at and I can’t wait to push harder, explore further, and try a bunch of new things in 2018.  Find your passion and own it.  Happy trails!

Here are some of my highlights from 2017:

Be the light. Seek the light.

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Looking through photos from our recent trip and found this one.  The flower is no larger than a dime and the clovers cover the ground and fallen logs.  It's pretty, delicate, and a representation of the variety of life that grows.  Something as tiny as a dime grows right below a towering redwood tree.  They grow in harmony and I think - as cheesy as it may be - is a metaphor for how we need to live.  We have to accept that some will tower over others, but we need to continue to reach up for the light.  Even when we have to stretch or go a few days with darkness, we have to keep reaching and growing.  Even the tiniest plant can flower and find the light and be the light for things even smaller.

*migrated from a previous blog.