Coping with the Age of Opinion

I bought a magazine in the Dunedin airport (in New Zealand) I wanted to read and I thought Sarah Harriet would like. It is called Frankie and in one of the articles it talked about “the age of opinion”.  Everyone has a RIGHT to an opinion, facts be damned. This especially resonated with me. The day before on the train from Middlemarch to Dunedin some US citizen with a southern drawl was telling the train conductor in a loud voice, “Barack Hussein Obama is a secret muslim.” And she was not joking. (We should spend more energy keeping people from leaving the country and not worry so much about those coming in.)

My mouth dropped open at this woman’s conviction and her willingness to parade her ignorance. A sophisticated Chinese tourist sitting across from me caught my eye with that look that is both “Can you believe she said that?” “Are you going to react?”  I still do not know what I could have said.

One way I keep my sanity in the age of opinion is to watch Jon Stewart The Daily Show and more occasionally The Colbert Report. This week is the last week of shows for Stephen Colbert. He will replace David Letterman (sometime in 2015) and will no longer be in character as a snarky conservative news commentator. His last few guests have been as eclectic as his intellect: rap artist Kendrick Lamar and Smaug the dragon from the Hobbit.

There are print satirical antidotes to an overdose of people’s opinions: The Onion, Let me know if you have any other ways of coping.

Here is the link to Colbert’s interview with Smaug:



How I Afford to Travel… And You May Not Like What I’m Going To Say

A kindred spirit for sure. Thanks for sharing Sarah Harriet.

Kate from the States

The honest truth – I never have the money I need to travel, but I buy the ticket anyway. I’ve realized that money comes and goes, but the more I make, the harder it is to part with it and weirdly, the less I have, the easier it becomes to budget.

I don’t do that saving account, checking account, travel account thing either. I am not rational. I am extreme. I want to travel and so I do. There is no in between. While I was working my first career job in public relations, I realized early on that it was going to take me forever to save all the money I would need to see the world. I come from a middle class family, I’m the middle child of five and I live in one of the most expensive places in America – Long Island, New York. I don’t…

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It is December… It must be time to reflect.

After many hours sitting on a St Heliers bench gazing at Rangitoto, I sat on this bench on Rangitoto gazing at St Heliers.

After many hours sitting on a St Heliers bench gazing at Rangitoto, I sat on this bench on Rangitoto gazing at St Heliers.

I have been on a writing hiatus. Unplanned. I thought I would write every day while I was in New Zealand. Everyday was filled with good friends and family, good food and coffee and big adventures. I did not have much time to reflect or write. So the next few weeks will be dedicated to blogging, writing and reflection.

This jandal sacrificed to balance this bench on Rangitoto is a great metaphor: What in my life needs adjusting for 2015?

This jandal sacrificed to balance this bench on Rangitoto is a great metaphor: What in my life needs adjusting for 2015?

I am availing myself of a few tools. Michael Hyatt has a new 3 video series and a downloadable pdf called 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever. I also plan to walk the labyrinth at Davis United Methodist Church and meet with my pastor Kelly Love. I am also going to answer Chris Guillebeau’s two questions:  What went well this year? What did not go well this year?

And then set goals for 2015. And review my goals for 2014. How well did I do?

I am going to get creative about where I do this reflecting since I do not want to part with Lulu anymore this year. Any good ideas for finding time and quiet place admidst the holiday chaos and work life? Please offer them here.

Poem on Rangitoto bench

Poem on Rangitoto bench

Celebrating 52 with my Family in St Heliers

If on Christmas Day 2011, when I left New Zealand heart-a-breakin, you had told me that I would return in 3 years with all of my children (including a newish son-in-law), I would not have believed you. My bank account was busted. I had no idea what was ahead. Today is my birthday and Thanksgiving in the USA. We are celebrating all day!

Sarah, Marcos and Tevis on the ferry to Rangitoto

Sarah, Marcos and Tevis on the ferry to Rangitoto

Essentialism the Path to No Regrets

In Essentialism Greg McKeown quotes Bronnie Ware’s blog post “Top 5 Regrets of the Dying” reposted in Huffington Post to make the case that one of the benefits of living in the essentialist mindset is living without regrets. McKeown quotes number 1. I include number 2 below.5 regrets of the dying

“1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.” (emphasis mine) 

First, clear the mental clutter to know your dream. When I was in Iowa I ate a lot of pork and beef and very few vegetables. I experienced pains in my stomach and so naturally I thought it was either constipation/digestive trouble or cancer. I was awake in the middle of the night pondering what I would do if I was dying of cancer and had only a year to live. The answer came to me with certainty: I would write.

So why is my own writing the last priority in my day to day life? I get everything else done before I get started with my writing projects. Since childhood I have wanted to be a writer and dreamed of writing a book. I would regret not getting that done before I died. Once I recognize the personal importance of writing, it makes it easier to say no to working on other projects I am tempted to take on for the money.

(Bronnie Ware has a blog and book expanding on the ideas of living a life without regret.)

Less is more, really?

This is only a partial picture of Willow Creek Community Church from the "outlook".

This is only a partial picture of Willow Creek Community Church from the “outlook”.

The standing room only crowd at the Storyline Conference break out session called “The Hidden Lies that Keep Our Schedules Overwhelmed” indicates that Joshua Becker is on to something. Not that you can tell from looking at the American evangelical church from the outside. Look at the building we were gathered in (above). Willow Creek Community Church is perhaps the premier megachurch in the USA. The campus is larger than many colleges. It screams “More is more.”

Joshua Becker shared the 7 lies we tell ourselves to keep ourselves busy.

Joshua Becker shared the 7 lies we tell ourselves to keep ourselves busy.

Scripture, however, supports Joshua Becker’s supposition that if you are looking for contentment, happiness or even just the time to follow Jesus, you are better off if you get down to the essentials. It will not be found in your stuff.  More possessions demands time to take care of it, time to work to pay for it, or time worrying about paying for it.

Part of the challenge is pervasive advertising. When I sold everything and moved to New Zealand, my sense of purpose made it easier to do and then maintain few possessions. It also helped that I was not exposed to much advertising. Without television I avoided the constant onslaught of messages that I am not enough without (fill in the blank___).

I also got away from the many demands on my time–the social network that expects me to say yes at work, at church, with family, and with friends. It can be like the million and one emails I have received from the Democratic Party this election cycle. Except that the relationships I have with people make it much harder to press “delete.”

Peeling it all back to the essentials is one of the reasons that I look back on my time in New Zealand with such fondness. It has been difficult to maintain the mindset since my return to California. It takes vigilance. I must stay present and take a long pause before responding to requests.

It also helps to have a plan. Watch this space for practical steps to getting back to basics.

Essentialism: less but better

I was listening to Michael Hyatt‘s podcast and he reviewed Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Love. Intrigued enough to download it onto my tablet, I dove in and read it this weekend. I want to embrace this lifestyle so I am going to reread it more slowly and do a series of blog posts.

What is essentialism? It is the idea that more is not necessarily more. In our world with proliferating choices our quality of life often depends on focusing on those things that really matter to us. As McKeown writes, “Essentialism is not about how to get more things done, it’s about how to the get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”

If you are interested in learning the discipline of essentialism, which includes learning to gracefully say no, making space to think and play and sleep, and how to get over the fear of missing out, then join me. Read the book and participate in the conversation in the blogs that follow.Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less