One Adventure at a Time

food. passion. life.

being who you are

The adventurous life is one marked by being unafraid.  But of what are we afraid?  So many times it’s not outside sources that we are afraid of, its the personal struggle of who we are and being accepted that way.   I am sitting here watching “Ellen’s 20th anniversary of ‘The Puppy Episode,'” celebrating the day that she came out to the world.  I remember as a young girl what it was like to watch all the controversy around this issue.  I remember how much people disliked Ellen for saying, “I’m gay,” on national television.

I personally am not gay, but I do know what it is like to be a weirdo.  I know what it feels like to be afraid of what people will think about you.  I know how it feels when you are afraid to be you and let others see you for who you are.  But the fact remains that we cannot live fully if we hide who we are from the world.  Living an adventurous life is being who we are and not being afraid of who that is.

Though on a much smaller scale, of course, I know how difficult this is.  I had an experience that pointed out to me just how weird I am.  You can read about that experience here.

The fact of the matter is I am grateful that I am weird and love that I, now, am happy to be who I am and would not change any aspect of my life for anyone or anything.  Living an adventurous life is learning to accept who we are and be that person without fear of acceptance from others.  In fact, I have found that the more I allow others to see exactly who I am, the more they love and accept me.  I have found that being true to yourself, no matter what, is a more joyful and happy experience than being accepted by way of social mores.

Thanks to strong brave people, like Ellen, we have examples and can follow their lead to being ourselves.  The best part of being weird and being yourself is that you learn how to accept others for who they are as well.  We learn to be kind to others and let them be themselves, as we all journey through this adventure called life toghether.

always ready for adventure, start here

My journey to living an adventurous life, has been one with many caveats.  I realize that I’ve not been talking about food or travel nearly as often as you have come to expect.  But part of the reason for this is that I’ve been so distracted that I’ve not really been eating that healthy or taking the time to savor the things that matter.

So, thank you to those of you who prefer my posts about food and travel.  Thank you for coming with my on my journey to refocus and rediscovery.  I promise very soon you’ll start to see those posts again. For now more about my journey into minimalism. I know that I’ve been writing a lot about minimalism, and though I don’t want to bore you, I want to help you understand why I’ve gone this route.

Minimalism for me is not just the idea of getting rid of a bunch of stuff so I can go off and live in a tiny house somewhere.  It’s so much bigger than that. As I said in my post, confessions of a reluctant risk-taker, this journey is about learning how to live an adventurous life and all that entails.

The very first thing I’ve learned on my journey is that living an adventurous life means getting rid of the distractions.  There are so many distractions in life that keep us from pursuing adventure, hell we have distractions that keep us from just recognizing adventures right in front of us.  Deciding to embrace minimalism is my way of getting rid of my distractions.

Today is my first day living in my newly minimized space, and I have to say, what a difference it has already made for my mental health.  Without clutter to deter and distract me at every turn, my morning began with light streaming in my window and birds singing.

These two simplicities immediately put me into the right frame of mind.  I got up, put away my sleeping stuff, pulled out my yoga mat and began meditation.  I need to explain here, that I have not meditated in over four months.  I have been too tired to get up, and too distracted by my cluttered life to take the time to simply breathe.  As I focused on my breath for simply five minutes to start my morning, I then transferred that energy into a simple yoga routine.  Again it’s been four months since I’ve practiced yoga.  A total of fifteen minutes later I was out on the front porch with my coffee and book in hand.

I learned something very important about myself this morning.  Without distraction I’m much more disciplined.  Meditation is all about getting in the right frame of mind.  When you are mentally prepared for your day, and present in the moment you can see the adventure waiting around the corner.  You will find the joy in the little things, and without the clutter of your life or your mind standing in the way, you can truly begin to live your adventurous life.

This morning I realized the joy of drinking a cup of coffee and reading outside with the sun beaming down on me.  It was a joy that I don’t often take the time to savor.  I’ve learned it’s the little things in life that bring us joy but to be able to recognize these things we have to be mentally present.

You don’t have to become a minimalist to start meditating on a daily basis, I just found that until I removed the clutter from my space, I had a hard time removing the clutter form my mind.  Now, that I’ve been able to do both, I can’t wait to see what adventures I find waiting for me.

last night I slept on grass…

As you know I’ve been adopting minimalism.  In fact, the reason I missed my first post this week was because I’ve been so busy getting rid of shit.  Well today was the last stretch in my journey. Well, probably not the last stretch, but at least it’s the last stretch towards getting rid of my shit…

As such, I’ve minimized my sleeping situation.  I ordered a Japanese tatami mat and shikibuton.  Well, the tatami mat arrived first, and still no mattress (aka shikibuton). It was not the most comfortable night sleep I’ve ever had, but I do have to say, it was far better than I thought.

Maybe it was just the high from getting my living situation very nearly where I wanted it or maybe it was actually the firmness of the tatami mat.  Either way I slept far better than I could have imagined.  I will offer more tips later for my process of minimalism, but for now let me just say that if you have back intonate back issues as I do you may want to look into this sleeping situation.  Check out this info I found on Japanese Futons



little adventures for the winter shut-in

Once Spring arrives, all I want to do is go on adventures.  Yesterday was the perfect day to get outside for a little trek.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

The bullfrogs were singing their song as the sun came out to warm the earth.  Birds chirped at each other, and dogs said hello to everyone that passed on the trail.  Families, couples, groups of friends, single hikers, everyone decided to come out today.  It seemed as though everyone was in on the secret, Spring is here.  Everyone, that is, except the trees.  Someone forgot to wake them up.

The glen was full of people enjoying the rush of the water.  The sound was wonderful and refreshing.  Lovers just sat to enjoy the background as the talked.  Photographers and artists came to sketch and shoot.  Kids cam to play in the water and enjoy the new breath of life water can give.

This tiny adventure made me realize how much I want to go on a big adventure.  But being out in nature feels wonderful no matter how long. It was a nice respite and a good reminder of the things in life that matter.  Living the adventurous life, doesn’t require all out adventures all the time.  Sometimes these little treks are just enough, find something small that you can do today to increase adventure in your life.

operation read and cede

So each week last month, as promised, I have been picking one thing to change about my life.  I am chronicling this journey and when I am done I will put it all into a book free to the first hundred people to sign up on my email list. (shameless plug alert)

Last month my focus was time.  Every change I decided to make had to do with how I spent my time.  This month in light of the change to spring, I will be focusing on possessions.

Spring cleaning time.

I have been reading a lot from the The Minimalists, they are such an inspiration to me.  And though I am sure my minimized life will look very different from theirs, the basic principles are the same.  Get rid of the shit in your life.

The “shit” as I am fondly calling it is anything you define as a distraction from what really matters in your life.  For me, this sums up about half of my personal possessions if not more.  So in an effort to pare down and reduce clutter in my life, this month each decision/change I make per week will be focused on getting rid of the shit.

This week the decision I’m going to make is to read more.  How do I define “more”? Well you know how I feel about goals, they are just an opportunity for failure.  So rather than setting a goal of how much “more” I will read I am setting an expiration date for each books in my collection.  I have a wide variety of books I have been meaning to read for many years, and never finished, and in some cases never started.  This is after already cutting my collection in half.

How often do you do this?  How often do you hold onto things that you have the best of intentions for and end up never using?  I do it a lot.  I am a criminal procrastinator and books are my most frequently targeted victims.

No more procrastination!

Today, when I decided to go through my entire book collection I started by making two boxes.  One box for donate and another box for sell.  When sifting through my books I looked for the ones that I had previously read. I am not much of a re-reader, I have a fairly decent memory, so aside from a very limited selection of reference books in my library.  If I have read it already, I am not likely to ever pick it up again.  So why keep it?  (This question is likely to become my mantra this month.)  Every time I picked up a book I had already read and asked myself this question I had no answer.

Next I started looking a the slew of books I have owned for a long time but never read.  If it had no use to me anymore, or if I had no desire to read it then into the box it went.  Then I started coming across books that I did actually want to read.  This is where, “So why keep it?” got tough. The answer, of course, for all these books was, “Because I intend to read it.”  So I had to ask myself another question.   “But, truthfully, will I ever read it?”  If the answer was no, it had to go in a box.  If the answer was yes I set it aside, if the answer was maybe, it had to go in a box.  (This was the hardest part because there were books that honestly I do want to read but truthfully I’m not sure I ever will and that saddens me.)

So there I was with a stack of books to which I said, “YES! I will read you.”  I immediately got anxiety looking at that pile of books, it was so overwhelming.  I was overcome with the feeling that I’d be holding onto those books for yet another year (maybe two) of “good intentions.”   I had to find a way to keep paring down this book collection, but truthfully I just didn’t want to get rid of books I really do want to read.  That’s how I finally came up with…

Operation Read and Cede. #readandcede

I knew the most logical way to get rid of more books was to transition them from the unread category into the read category.  My anxiety came back.  But I finally figured out a way to motivate myself to read all these books, and make it driven by fun rather than pressure.

So, here’s how it works. I am going to give each book an expiration date.  And by the end of the expiration date I am going to give it to someone else who wants it.  Every month I’m going to post a picture of books that expire that month, and if you want it just send me a message saying what book you want.  I have always been more motivated by deadlines than goals.  And I have always loved giving stuff away, so giving away the book will be fun for me and hopefully result in my reading much more than I currently do.

IMG_0542Any books in my collection that I have not read by the end of its expiration date, I will simply give away and read at another time, that’s what my library card is for.

Anyhow, this month’s selection is up so please tell me if you want any of these books when I’m done, it’s yours!

(P.S. Please! Don’t judge my taste in literature by these books.  Many of them were gifts and thrift store finds that sounded interesting at the time–not my usual go-tos.)

dream vacations, what no one tells you…

Almost two years ago I was able to fulfill one of my long-awaited dreams, I turned thirty in one of the most beautiful places in the world.  For many years leading up to my thirtieth birthday I was convinced that Italy was my favorite place on earth, if only I could get there.  I knew that was already in love with this place and I knew that was exactly where I wanted to spend the first days of my unfolding third decade.

Realizing this dream was a game changer.  This experience didn’t magically transform my irritatingly mundane life, but her for a moment I experienced the pure joy of life being exactly what you dreamed.  The trouble with moments like this is their brevity.  Eventually we all go back to that same life we left behind for just a week or two.  And its the going back with new vigor or passion that makes the leaving worth it.

I, however, never came back with new vigor or passion for my life here.  I held onto the high for a little while, and tried to recapture the sensation of being in Italy.  But truly the only passion I returned home with was the passion to leave that daily grind for good. But money and debt don’t work like that.  You can’t just pick up and leave, no matter how many times I tried to convince myself that maybe I could.  For me, returning from vacation didn’t feel like coming home, instead it felt like leaving something behind.

I felt like I was leaving behind the life I knew I always wanted to merely survive under the same drudgery I had come to know and despise.  Most of you are probably thinking, what is this girl’s problem?  She was just in friggin’ Italy, that’s an experience of a lifetime, can’t she just appreciate that?

Well, you are right to think and ask this.  But no, I couldn’t just appreciate it.  Oh sure, I told myself I would save up and get back there in a year or two.  But the longing to stay there never went away.  The longing for my life to look like that all the time clung to my soul and didn’t let go.  It’s this longing that becomes the death of real adventure.

It is no secret that I long for my life to look so much different than it does.  I know this is a desire we are all familiar with. We all have things in our lives we want to change, but the ways in which it doesn’t change are testimony to the fact that desire does not produce results.  Just because we want something doesn’t mean it will happen.  I know, I know I’m in my thirties shouldn’t I have already learned this?  Yes, and in many ways I already had learned it.

My problem is that I still haven’t learned to stop looking ahead or behind.  Life is going to happen, time passes whether you are present for it or not.  We can either keep waiting for our life to change, or we can embrace the life we have and live it.

I am not suggesting that it’s easy to do, there is a certain amount of soul realigning that must happen.  Our souls have a nervous system just like our bodies.  Nerves help us to feel, they present sensation based on what our brain tells them.  Nerves have memories and expectations that come from the brain.  Sometimes what our brain expects to feel, the nerves trigger even if the sensation is not happening.

Think of anytime you’ve anticipated receiving a shot.  With your eyes tightly shut, and body tensed you can actually trigger the sensation of pain without the needle being anywhere near your skin.  The brain remembers what that pain felt like last time so triggers the same sensation again in anticipation of it.

Memory and expectation are just as powerful as actual reality.  Experiences are driven by memory and expectation just as much as actual events and can even overshadow the occurrence itself.  This is why after an amputation someone can still feel an itch in their missing limb.  Over time these phantom sensations wear off because the nerves have to realign and learn new sensations. In short, the nerves that are still present learn to be present without the memory or expectation. But this takes a lot of work and reconditioning of the body.

The same is true for our souls.  Learning to embrace the experiences as they happen rather than living in the past or long for the future is hard work. Living the life we have set before us is like the nerves of our souls realigning.  Too often our souls are trained to hope, dream, long.  Or our souls are set to remember, relive, recapture.  Neither of these are healthy on their own.  We need to realign our souls to breathe, enjoy, savor.

When I stop myself from going down the rabbit hole of discontentment, I find there are many adventures just waiting around the corner.  When I accept my life for what it is I learn to appreciate things I didn’t know I liked about my life. I am learning to take each day as it comes and allow the adventure of that day to be its own journey.  I know that if I continue to learn to pause in the present I may just find that my life can be the very thing I’ve always wanted, full of adventure.

Breathe. Enjoy. Savor.

Julie and Julia: looking for a new adventure one day at a time

A woman laughing. Below a woman with a finger in her mouth. The middle horizontal section contains the film title.I’ve been sick this week.  When I am sick, I spend a lot of time in bed watching my favorite movies that I find comforting and funny.  One of my absolute favorite is Julie and Julia.  What struck me this time when I was watching the amazing Amy Adams and the incomparable Meryl Streep, is that this movie is based on a true story that is so real.  I know a “real” true story sounds redundant, but when was the last time you watched a movie based on a true story that didn’t result in you feeling like the main characters were “heroes.”

Those movies are great for inspiration, but sometimes I just want to see stories about real people with real struggles being real.  This is what I love about this story, particularly Julie Powell’s story.  What I love about Julie is that she is a near thirty dreaming writer who has let her life distract her from her dreams.  This is exactly what life looks like for so many of us.

When we are seeking adventure or looking for life to somehow change, we find ourselves in this situation because we have forgotten how to focus.  For anyone who has not seen this film or read Julie Powell’s book, Julie begins a blog where she cooks through Julia Child’s Mastering The Art French Cooking.  She describes this process to her mother as just giving her a regimen, “Something to do every day, one day at a time.”  Simply by creating this regimen for herself her life end up completely changing within a year.

That may not be the case for you and me, but it reminded me that all adventures typically start with discipline.   Discipline is difficult for me.  I have a lot of growth yet to do in this area of my life, but often my biggest problem is that I don’t focus.  Focusing on one thing or one regimen and putting our effort and energy into that will produce results.

If you are looking for a new adventure, but don’t know where to start, this is where I’d start.  Find one thing you want to change and start a regimen for yourself to make that change a reality.  If you need inspiration watch this movie, it doesn’t hide the ugly parts about discipline (i.e. it’s really HARD work!)  If you know exactly what you want to change about your life, don’t think that it’s going to be an over night change, remember a regimen is a daily activity, so it’s not a quick fix.

I have come to realize that I have a hard time being patient, so it’s important for me to set small short-term goals.  When I do that, I can actually see the small adventures in my life that this discipline creates.  But if I work only for the adventure I think I want in my life, instead I end up focusing on too many different things.  When you try to do too many things you end up not doing any of them well.

So, I chose one thing to focus my energy on changing this coming month.  About a month ago I decided I was going to write every day, even by doing this I realize I still go far too long between blog posts. So I am going to commit to a regimen of blogging twice a week.  If I blog more great, if not no problem.  My goal is to do this for exactly one month.  This is my short-term goal.

What do you want to change?  What is a good regimen for your short-term goal?  I promise this is just one small step in permanent change.  If you do nothing else but become a more disciplined person, that will be worth it.  If there’s one thing I know discipline is key to living an adventurous life.

work is not a 4-letter word

Today, I sat down to figure out my general “to-do” list for my day off.  Ugh.

It’s an uncharacteristically beautiful day outside, and believe me there is nothing I’d like more than to blow off that to-do list, and go on an adventure.  But, here’s the thing about adventure.  If you are unorganized and overwhelmed, adventures can lead to really bad things.  Stress. Frustration. Poor decisions.  Etc.   Today, I’d love to pack up my car and drive away from it all, but my car is a mess, and frankly I’ve got a whole lot to catch up on.

The best thing I’ve learned on this journey of trying to live an adventurous life, is that when we use adventure to ignore life, the adventure ceases quickly and simply becomes a short escape.  But, living out an adventure takes careful planning, and a whole lot of effort.  My day could be spent heading to some place that I’d want to go hiking or driving aimlessly, but the fact of the matter is this would be wasted time, for several reasons but I’ll just list two.

1) When we confuse ADVENTURE for ESCAPE, we miss out on other adventures we may enjoy more.

If I were to go out and seek adventure, I’d really be seeking an escape from the things in my life that I have to do.  I would be avoiding laundry, cleaning, not to mention a whole lot of purging I’d planned for today.  If I avoid these things, they will be waiting for me tomorrow.  If I avoid them tomorrow, they will be waiting for me the next day, and so on.  You see we never truly get to avoid the effort we must put into our lives.  The biggest repercussion of continuing to avoid this effort is that there will come an opportunity for another adventure one day, and we will be unprepared for it.  Whether it be financially, or we can’t miss work, or we simply have put off too many things that can no longer be put off, we will miss out.

I have an extreme fear of missing out.  I’m always afraid there is something better out there, or something more fun, or something I should know.  I’ve on occasion allowed this fear to push me into making bad choices.  Buying things on credit.  Going on vacation before I had enough time off accrued.  Quitting my job before I had one waiting.  Jumping into a job before I realized what I was getting myself into.  There are multiple ways I’ve talked myself into these bad decisions because I wanted to see if the grass was greener on the other side.  I’ve come to realize that in some ways this seeking of greener grass is merely avoiding the work of my present circumstance. Which leads me to the second reason going trying to find an adventure today would be a waste of time…

2) Life should be lived, not avoided.

One way or another we all have done this. We have all wanted an out from the work being required of us.  But, here’s the thing, as I’ve already established a true adventure requires a lot of work.  We don’t get to miraculously have everything we want placed in our laps. In the past, when I’ve wanted to have an adventure, there was careful planning and preparation involved.  My trip Italy for my 30th birthday took many years of saving, and it took almost an entire year of planning.  Can you imagine, how much work that was, and I still didn’t feel fully prepared.  When I finally got there, I wished I had sent more time learning Italian, and wished that I had read more about Italy’s driving laws.  But, I cannot express how much of an adventure this amazing trip was.

So, what does that mean for our daily life?

It means we should expect that life will always be hard work, anything worth doing will be look like work.  So, living an adventurous life will, of course, be a life where we must plan, prepare, and work very hard.  Understanding this reality is our first step to actually living out that adventure.

Last post I said I’d keep a journal of the things I’m learning about living an adventurous life.  I’m realizing that changing your mindset is the very first step to changing your life.  Today my mindset has been challenged.  I can no longer use adventure as my escape, instead if I want to live a truly adventurous life, I must make hard decisions, spend time preparing, and work very hard at changing the things in my life that keep me from true adventure.

As I said, earlier I had a plan to purge a lot of my stuff today.  But, right now I’m going to purge my very first thing standing in the way of my adventurous life: my escape routes.

So, I’m off to begin laundry, clean, and keep purging as I prepare my life and myself for the adventures that await.


confessions of a reluctant risk-taker

Time for some honesty…

When I started this blog, I had visions of grandeur.  As, I write this I realize I don’t even know how to spell grandeur.  I thought that if I started a blog about all the travel adventures I went on, I would miraculously start going on more adventures.  Well, here’s the thing about being a reluctant risk taker, emphasis on reluctant.  You reach a point where you realize you bore even yourself with your so-called “adventures.”

Adventures are supposed to be adventurous.  They are supposed to change you and connect you to people you wouldn’t otherwise know.  The way to do this is not by starting a blog and hoping you start taking more adventures, the way to do this is by living an adventurous life.  One that is free from risk, is free from excitement.  So, how do you start to live an adventurous life?  You take risks.  Sometimes I do this and those risks don’t pan out, perhaps that is why I am so reluctant to take risks now as a thirty-one-year-old woman who has never owned anything more expensive than a car.  I have never owned a home, in fact, I have hardly even lived on my own.  So here’s the question I ask myself… Does this make me a fraud?

I have to be honest there are many times that I feel the answer to this question is yes.  I don’t take risks in life, love, or career very willingly.  I have become comfortable with being disappointed in myself.  I am content to live through the lyrics of a Joni Mitchell or Carole King song and sit in my room.  So, many of us know we don’t want the lives we lead, we know there is more out there for us, but we don’t know how to go get it.  Short of quitting my job and cashing out my 401K, I’m not sure I know any better than anyone else how to change my life in the way I want it to look.  Since, I’m a RELUCTANT risk-taker, I’m not very likely to do that.  So, what do I do?

Well, I start by being honest.  Honestly, I long for adventure.  I long for a life that others want to read about.  I long to be the kind of person who others want to be like, and I long to be the kind of person you, my dear reader wants to be friends with.

Rather than focusing on these longings, I know I have to do one thing to change, LIVE!

Living life is the only way to do the things I listed above, but living life can seem so mundane and so tiresome.  How can I be an adventurer who never goes on any adventures? How can I have so many high hopes of grandeur and never live them out?  How?  Because I’m human.

Coming to grips with my humanity is perhaps the greatest adventure I will ever embark upon.  I’m reminded of a line from Hook where Peter says it best.  “To live will be the greatest adventure.”  Living the life right in front of you with all its messiness, all its mundanity, and all its difficulty, this is how adventures are made.  If you are like me and you seek adventure, and keep thinking to yourself, “Someday, I will…”  Let me be honest friend, you and I never will… Like Isaac Marion said, “I want to change my punctuation. I long for exclamation marks, but I’m drowning in ellipses.”  Life is in the ellipses unexplored.  My fellow adventurers we have to stop drowning in the ellipses and have to start changing our punctuation.  And, and the only way to do that is to take our ellipses and banish them.  We have to do, not wish.  We have to live, not wait.  We have to take the life we have and make our days count by doing what we want to do with our lives.

As I said before, short of quitting my job, I’m not exactly sure how to do this.  So, starting small I will pick one thing each week to change about my life and write about it. I will pick one adventure to have or write about one mundane thing that turned into an adventure.  One thing I’m sure of is that life is not meant to be survived, but it is meant to be lived.  Too long I’ve been in survival mode, and now I’m ready to live.

I apologize for missing it before, our lives are the adventure.  The adventures aren’t our lives.  I connect with the music of Joni Mitchell and Carol King, not because their music tells of the adventures they took in their very interesting lives, but because it explored the facts of life, and how we all feel regardless of the adventures we’ve gone on.  We each have a story to tell, we each have people who we love, places we’ve gone, experiences that have changed us.  We all have these stories, and the stories are in the life we lead not in the adventures we go on.

Forgive me for remaining silent on my blog because I thought I had nothing to say or because I’ve gone a while without an adventure, when all along, the adventures were out there waiting for me to just show up in my own life.  How do you show up in your life?  How do you live the adventure we all have set before us? What one thing are you wishing would change in your life, when all along you just need to wake up and change it?  I don’t know the answers on how to help you do all these things, but I will do my best to explain how I answer these questions for myself, as I work to show up for my own life and my own adventure.

Here is my new adventure…

I am going to live.  I am going to pick one thing every week that I want to change about my life and change it.  I will document this journey both here and through a book that I started writing today.

If anything I’ve said has struck a chord with you then sign up below to be on my email list and I will send the first 100 people a PDF copy of my book free of charge when I complete it.

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