In no particular order I’d like to drop some nuggets of wisdom I’ve realized, been told, or learned the hard way.
- Wear your bike helmet!
Buckle the damn fastener, if you crash something needs to hold that brain basket on while you hurtle through the air. Accidents are the 5th top killer of folks in the US because… well lots of reasons I’m sure you can guess. Biking in America is dangerous, wear a helmet and obey traffic rules. Ive been hit twice and hit a biker once, Ive also pulled a bleeding cyclist off the ground (not my fault). I wish with all my heart that I could bike all over town, but cars just scares the shit outta me.
- Be Grateful.
Thats is. Take a bit of time each day to appreciate how damn good you have it. Even on a bad day. I fully realize that I have an amazing family support structure. My loving, supportive, smart, funny, amazing parents live within walking distance. My kids are a wonder and joy to behold each and every snot and poo filled day. And my husband of 12 years is my best friend in the world since I was 17. Pile on a rad job, awesome house, great friends far and wide, a stable government and currency, vaccines, vacation time, health insurance, mild weather, and chocolate. Things are pretty damn good.
- The Internet is amazing.
I was lucky to catch a wonderful segment on Science Friday about the Web turning 25 today. Which reminded me of dialing into Prodigy when I was in the 6th grade to play Othello. For those who grew up as the internet became pervasive, this change/revolution is amazing. How did parents not leave their kids at day care, accidentally, every day? Can you believe we waited an hour to get film processed and it cost $20?! I used to own a dictionary.
The power of instant communication and information has spoiled us rotten. I heard on SciFri that soon the internet will be like electricity, you wont notice its until its out. Thats both exciting and terrifying. A reminder to embrace technology but also return to self sufficiency. You dont want to be the asshole who has no skills when/if the world goes dark. Cultivate some handicraft or manual labor: sewing, gardening, carpentry, music, butchery, cooking, camping… Its fun too.
- Be Kind.
I recently was on my kid drop off routine and spotted a young woman in an SUV broke down in a pretty busy street and I made a snap decision to help. I pulled into a very nearby parking lot and, leaving my 5 year old in the car (to STAY PUT), I asked her if I could help push her car. It was weird, she was so totally blindsided by the car not working, she didn’t even seem to understand what I was saying. “Put it in neutral and lets back it into the parking lot.” I said. “It wont start?!” she repeated. No shit lady, we need to push it. That part was actually fun. Some other guys, realizing what I was trying to do, pulled over and helped and we got that car off the road and avoided a major traffic jam in about 10 minutes. It felt good to be kind, and I got to explain to my daughter what a good samaritan/citizen was.
- Mobile is not all things for everyone. Unplug sometimes.
We talk and talk about the prevalence of mobile phones and how EVERYONE is looking at their phones for everything… and some of that is true. But not everyone uses their phone for everything! And some use their phones too much.
- PTO and Sick time / Kin Care should be separate buckets of hours.
Combining my free/fun time with time I HAVE to take off because I’m sick is hurting business. I will muddle through mindless work and answer emails on my very-ill-bed to avoid using up my precious vacation time (keeping me ill for a longer time). I dont need THAT many days, just 2-3 for when my entire family gets sick (like we all just did). Given the nature of my flexible work schedule, Im happy to check in every few hours on weekdays and make sure nothing is on fire. But the thought of working on every weekend this month in order to avoid using my PTO sucks. I’ll probably just use PTO, but I wish I could use sick time. Lastly, the weekend is when I catch up on what’s going on in the digital world, which directly benefits my job skills… sigh.
- Learn how to use a computer.
Even if you decide to live off the grid you will still need to purchase supplies, like your yurt, composting toilet, solar cooker, or bike to generate some battery-power setup. You’re going to likely need to do research and make purchases on a computer or smartphone.
- Do Things.
I was going to say, love your job, but thats not accurate… sometimes a job is just a means to an end. Just make sure that end is something you are passionate about. Try new things, set goals. Don’t waste time – there is not a lot of it. Take care to learn something or try new every day.
Make a teacup list. Its like a bucket list but much less daunting. I have a bucket list but I doubt Ill ever get to do all the things on it, they are just too big and time/labor/cost prohibitive. But a list of small things I can do in an afternoon (like Karaoke, hang gliding, line dancing, try Korean food) . Thats inspiring.
- Cook Meals.
Don’t misunderstand me here… I love to go out to eat. But cooking, even very basic meals from whole ingredients provides so many benefits in health, mindfulness, community, and general well being that Im glad it’s a “thing” right now. It should be taught in schools along with gardening. Not only is there pride and creativity in making a shared meal, it teaches math, hand-eye coordination, following directions, processes, self-sufficiency, chemistry, unintended consequences, art, and even presentation and social grace.
I think it is such a “thing” right now because there was a time there where we bought everything pre-made and just nuked it. Now we are being reminded that every meal doesn’t need to take hours and be super complicated; simple, quick dishes are bountiful and accessible to all.
- Laugh and smile and move.
My wonderful daughter, who is 5 years old, has some very strong emotions. Not exactly normal strong… so we are always trying to find ways for her to express or manage her moods effectively. One trick that I still use often is to just smile. If you cant help yourself from stewing on something unpleasant, just faking a smile tricks your brain into releasing some happy juice which will lighten your mood and help you shake it off.
We also talk about moving your body. I also let stress fester. I can feel it in my muscles and bones. I run. My kid climbs trees. So much of success in this world is being still and focused that we need to remember to run and burn things off every day.