The Weekend Fun Folder

My new friend Jody, who I met at work, has a Fun Folder (a Google Doc), which she fills with ideas for destinations, activities and things to do in each new place she lives. After every weekend, she talks about the interesting thing’s she’s done, as if she’s gone on a mini-vacation, even it if was only biking in a new area or kayaking down a river several hours away that I didn’t even know existed.

That’s how she views each weekend, like it’s a mini-vacation. It’s kind of brilliant. While I’m planning all the tedious chores I’m going to accomplish over my weekend, she’s concocting a mini-trip to some place I’ve never heard of even though I’ve lived here 18 years longer than she has. Of course, she’s a lot younger than me, so perhaps her youthful energy has something to do with her extreme fun planning.

A few weekends ago I wanted to join in the fun, so we met up to go kayaking at White Rock Lake in Dallas. The lake is not swimmable and sometimes bodies are found there, but that hasn’t deterred White Rock Paddle from setting up a rental shop on the shore. Of course Jody doesn’t need to rent; she has her own kayak that she attaches to the rack on her car. She’s the kind of person who just exudes adventure. Plus, as an added bonus, she’s always ready for a flood.

This is a photo of Jody and her dog Navi kayaking.

Jody and Navi kayaking on White Rock Lake.

Oh, and did I mention her dog, Navi? Navi likes to go kayaking with her. Many of the Fun Folder ideas include dog-friendly places. After our kayaking outing, for example, Jody found a place that allowed dogs on the porch and probably added it to the fun folder.

Last Saturday, I spent the day cleaning the house. Meanwhile, Jody invited me to go kayaking again with her and Navi in Fort Worth, sending me this photo of the enjoyable time they were having:

This is a photo of a dog in a kayak.

What Navi was doing last Saturday.

Meanwhile, back at my house, my dog was squaring off against the vacuum, which she vehemently distrusts. This is her keeping an eye on the vacuum while I took a break:

This is a photo of a dog staring at a vacuum cleaner.

“Stay right there, or else…”

So what’s wrong with this situation? Obviously, my fun folder was woefully under-consulted that day. However, I did vacuum up what seemed like a whole dog’s worth of fur. So at least there was a feeling of accomplishment. Not fun, but accomplishment.

Next weekend, however, I’m opening the fun folder. Accomplishment is overrated.

There’s Something About Sunrise

I drive to my new job in the pitch-black of early morning, the inky highway dotted with pairs of red lights speeding ahead. Leaving so early allows me to avoid traffic jams and go to the gym, but it also gives me the opportunity to appreciate the sunrise.

This is a photo of a sunrise taken over the tops of cars parked in a parking lot.

One of the beautiful sunrises from the parking lot of the gym.

Being a morning person, I’ve experienced a lot of sunrises. From the car, on the beach, from my bedroom window and even from a deer blind while accompanying early morning hunters. Sunrises never fail to inspire awe in me. The way the rosy light undulates with the cloud formations and bursts outward with as if hopeful that today will be better than yesterday makes me feel like anything is possible.

As I maneuver my car over to my exit, I glance to my right and that’s when, at 6:16 am, I know I will see the vivid reds peering over the dark horizon, welcoming me to the new day. I’m always intrigued by the slight differences each sunrise presents, as if the universe is asking to be noticed and appreciated for its efforts. Like a giant paint brush is mixing new variations of the same warm colors on a global palette and smattering them across the sky.

It’s no wonder that the painting that gave rise to the name of the Impressionist movement was Claude Monet’s 1872 painting “Impression, Sunrise.” It’s one of my favorites, capturing the peacefulness and optimism of a new day.

This is Claude Monet's painting, Impression, Sunrise, featuring the harbor of Le Havre with the sunrise reflecting on the water amid boats.

Claude Monet’s 1872 “Impression, Sunrise” depicting the port of Le Havre, France.

As Robin Williams’ character says in the movie Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, “Smile, my boy. It’s sunrise.” It was one of his last roles and it is how I choose to remember him, sharing our appreciation of the sunrise.

Smile. That’s what I do in my car every morning when I look over my shoulder to yield for my exit and am rewarded with one spectacular splashy sunrise after another. Then, when I get to the gym, I often snap a photo before heading inside.

Feeling Appreciated

As a freelance writer, I often receive payments in my mailbox after completing a client’s resume or Linkedin This is a picture of the outside of an envelope with my name and the words The Best Freelance Writer underneath, which left me feeling appreciated.profile or finishing the edits of their book. Of course, I’m always grateful for the checks. And sometimes clients will attach a sticky note to the check saying how pleased they were with my work. I love when that happens. I was not expecting what I received in the mailbox today, however, and it had me feeling appreciated for the rest of the day. A repeat client sent in her check. On her envelope she had written my name and then underneath, “The Best Freelance Writer.” The fact that it was written in purple pen was even more uplifting. Then there was the beautiful flowery stamp. Not just your regular American flag. What a gift my client gave me. Probably without even realizing it.

(more…)

Welcome, Thieves!

You know when you’re far away from your house and you realize that you left the garage door open? Well, that didn’t happen to me.

This is a picture of an open door leading into a house.

Scary to think what could have happened.

I mean, yes, I left the garage door open but no, I didn’t realize it. Not at the doctor’s office. Not at the Original Pancake House. Not at Ikea. And not at the grocery store. Six hours worth of not realizing my house was open for looting. It was like I was inviting everyone in to help themselves to our mountain bikes, ladders and power tools. And everything in our house.  (more…)

I Have a Different Kind of PTSD

When I was six, my grandfather convinced me to go sailing with him. Not just sailing, but racing. It was his

This is a photo of the author at the wheel of a 30-foot sailboat on a lake.

passion and he wanted to share it with me. He sailed long skinny boats called Two-Tens and raced every weekend in the summer on the North Shore of Massachusetts.

My grandfather sensed my hesitation to go with him. The whole thing would take up more than half the day, and I was unsure about being any farther from land than a swim away and also about tipping over.

“It’ll be fun,” he told me. “I promise this boat will never flip. It can’t. It is physically impossible.” (more…)

Happiness is a Visit From a Harbor Seal

It was a beautiful warm day in Bar Harbor, Maine and I was finally getting to go sea kayaking. Sea kayaking has

This is an Image of a harbor seal's head peaking out of the water.

Photo courtesy Mike Baird via Creative Commons.

been on my bucket list for a long time, but the opportunity hadn’t presented itself until a few weeks ago when I visited Acadia National Park with my husband and son. (more…)

6 Ways to Find Quiet in Today’s Noisy World

I don’t know about you but when I am exposed to constant man-made noise, I get edgy. Bitchy even.This is a picture of the fall leaf colors on my solitary hike in New Hampshire.

The world (or at least the city and the house where I live) has grown so obnoxiously noisy. Leaf blowers and rumbling trucks; air conditioning units and the buzz of the computer; TVs and cell phones ringing; the teenager’s music blasted from the floor below.  There are fewer and fewer silent moments to just appreciate the soothing sounds of the natural world. I’m not surprised that The New York Times has created an online Quiet City map that allows users to find a place in any of the five boroughs where they can hear themselves think for a few minutes. (more…)