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[BOOKS]

There once was a girl who traveled the world through the books that she read and placed in her head. She learned things large and she learned things small. Each of the things taught her the lessons. The lessons to think large and think small. To give large and take small. To teach large and teach small. To love large and hate small. To live large although she was small.

So there once was a girl who traveled the world because of the books that she read.

“So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around?” – Kathleen Kelly, You’ve Got Mail

[NEW]

Today is the first NEW day of September. Today I am starting something NEW. Today is the first day of a NEW project that will last everyday this month. I am doing this project with NEW friends. Starting something NEW is intimidating.

It is also the start of a NEW school year. My 15-year-old daughter has a NEW driver’s license and she is very important now. My 9-year-old daughter has a NEW Skylander and she is very easy. Sometimes I think I want a NEW baby and then I think not. The babies I have do something NEW everyday, so I am quite content.

I am not content in my NEW job. It presents a NEW challenge everyday. Sometimes I think that is NEW and exciting. Sometimes I do not want anything NEW at all.

That to-do list (a.k.a. That Lazy Lindsay)

Ironically, this blog comes several weeks after my motivational blog where I promised to write at least once a week, along with a number of other goals I probably haven’t reached…

(None of the three of you who read this held me accountable by the way, so it’s obviously your fault!)

So, since I’ve been kicking myself the last few weeks for all the things I haven’t accomplished on my to-do list, I have decided to go ahead and get real with you about me. I know this will shock everyone – especially my family – but… I can be lazy.

I can be lazy, and: easily distracted, unmotivated, irresponsible, use poor judgment, angry, mean, unreasonable, stubborn, a slacker, a couch potato, too slow, too fast, restless, ridiculous, a procrastinator, the list goes on and on and on…

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In my previous posts I’ve focused on the positive and talked about the way I try to view life. All of that is true – I strive to be and do all those things. And a lot of the time I hit the mark. Well, okay, in my mind I often succeed. I’m sure reality looks a little different from the outside looking in.

It’s probably very telling that one of my favorite quotes is, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” -George Eliot

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Let’s just say my five-year plan is probably more like a 20-year plan, and more often than not the delays in accomplishing my goals and dreams are a result of my own stubbornness and insistence on doing a lot of things the hard way. I don’t regret where those choices have taken me, but hindsight is seriously 20/20.

Sometimes I get it right on the first shot… and those are usually the days I decide I deserve an ice cream or wine celebration, therefore simultaneously blowing a different goal to smithereens. But hey – a girl can only be so awesome all at once!

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Seriously though, it can be very frustrating at times to find the initiative to do more with your life or continue to push yourself, especially in today’s instant gratification society where so much of the time the hard work that goes into accomplishing a goal feels like, well, Work. Even a daily to-do list often feels like Work.

Sure we feel accomplished and at peace when we cross those things off our list or push ourselves to try something new, but most days?…

Most days I just want to curl back up in my comfy bed with my book and the down comforter and perfect firmness pillow, the fan blowing, keeping the room cool, with something over my eyes to block out the light and…

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Whoa – dozed off there.

Sometimes the same people who inspire me to get my butt out of bed are the same ones who make me feel like Lazy Loser Lindsay is never going to begin to accomplish a tenth of what they do, so why try? (Pulling the covers back over my head…)

There are a number of traits about myself that are aggravating. I’m well aware of them, but just as incapable of stopping myself from feeling them.

For instance, it is extremely difficult for me to settle down and bloom where I’m planted. I’m pretty much always searching for the next adventure, the next challenge. I’m restless; commitment to one place is hard; and I would almost definitely rather be traveling pretty much all the time then to stay in one place. This is a trait I am desperately currently trying to curb for my two girls as they are in school – but it is much easier said then done! I’m a born vagabond.

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My second favorite quote by the way… “Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

Another thing, what the heck is it with human beings that we are perfectly capable of accomplishing whatever we set our minds to when we’re in an accountable relationship or a co-worker or family member expects something of us… But then, when it comes to doing something for ourselves – whether it’s cleaning out the attic or fulfilling an item on our bucket list – we just put it off and put it off until it becomes a distant memory with only the faint traces of disappointment and regret hanging around?

Get it together Lazy Loser Lindsay!

This is when I pull out the big guns. Stop feeling sorry for myself and look around. There is ALWAYS someone who has it far worse than I do. What the heck am I complaining about? The only thing standing between myself and that to-do list and that bucket list is ME!

Sure, some days I lose that battle (okay, a lot of days), but there is nothing stopping me from starting over again tomorrow. But where will the initiative to start over come from?

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Well, first I’ll look at my kids and know that every 6:30 a.m. wake up call and every time my roots grow a little deeper is worth… anything.

Then, I’ll look back at my last post and remember all the amazing things my inspiring friends are accomplishing – and most importantly I’ll be honest with myself and remember that I KNOW all those inspiring people. They struggle too, and many of them have far more difficult circumstances in life than I do. Some days they pull the covers back over their heads, but the next day they get up and do life.

So, I’ll take a mental health day; give myself a break. And then I’ll drag Lazy Lindsay out of bed and go do life… okay, I got this.

Maybe tomorrow though.

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That life philosophy

I read somewhere recently the following sentence:

“I’m thankful that there is so much more to learn in my life than there is to forget.”

The thought struck me, because it basically summed up my theory on how I try to live my life – in a nice tidy sentence.

I’m 33, still young with much more yet to see and accomplish – and learn – in life. I have lists of the things I have yet to do. My bucket list is long and varied. Chief among my goals is to see my two girls grow up and follow their own paths to happiness (and hopefully provide a few grandkids too!).

There’s plenty left to do.

And yet, in some ways I’ve already lived several lives. For anyone who knows even a few chapters of my life they know that there is very little in life that I haven’t said ‘yes’ to – very little that I haven’t already experienced, at least on some level.

I frequently have people ask me to tell them my story or to write a book about my life. I’ve also known plenty of people who look at my life and just shake their heads. For most, one major change in their lives is more than enough, and I get that.

To each his own.

For me though, my curiosity always wins out. Even in my adolescence I can remember saying, “I don’t ever want to have to look back and think, ‘what if…’” And I don’t. I can truly say I have few, if any, regrets. What’s the point?

I like who I am and who I am becoming, and each and every thing that has happened in my life has led me to where I am – even the not so great stuff.

Really though – what the sentence above brought home to me is what I’ve been trying to explain to people for years when they ask me how I’ve dealt with different things in my life and still have a smile on my face and a drive to see and do even more…

It’s all in how you handle it people! It’s in the perspective you take when looking back at it. Each and every experience brings with it consequences – some good, some bad – but they are ALL learning experiences and they are ALL an opportunity to grow and change.

For me, change is good. I thrive on the next new adventure and I truly cannot wait to learn more. And even more.

Look, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I haven’t been dragged down by depression over things I couldn’t change a time or two (or three) in my life, but… It’s kind of like my mom (a woman who has shown me incalculable strength through seemingly impossible situations) has always said… “Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying.”

So we do.

We laugh when we make mistakes, we laugh when we go the wrong way, we laugh when as we talk out the solutions. And sometimes we just laugh at the ridiculousness of how utterly horrible the situation is – because really – sometimes life just throws so much at you at once that you can’t do anything else.

So laugh. And do it as soon as possible.

Pick yourself up and ask yourself what you’ve learned. Then look around you and see what else there is to learn. This is a BIG world and you can’t even imagine what you don’t know about it. The events of our own lives – as HUGE as they may seem – are a drop in the bucket compared to what there is left for us to learn.

So, should we try to forget the past?

I say no. I say learn from the experiences and learn also how to laugh at yourself and the craziness of it all. Then take that with you as you go out and see what else there is to learn, because…

“I’m thankful that there is so much more to learn in my life than there is to forget.”

(I may have also gotten a little of this ‘when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade’ attitude from my 86-year-old grandmother who has these gems hanging around her house…)

That Balinese religion

On a recent vacation to Bali I was struck repeatedly by the way religion plays a dominant role in the everyday lives of the Balinese people.

(Wait… What? You went to Bali? …

… So, yes, in my never-ending quest to see all the corners of this amazing planet I was blessed with the opportunity to go visit my best friend, Kylie from Australia, on the opposite side of the planet. It was not my first trip overseas and hopefully will not be my last, but that’s for another day!)

Throughout my week on the island I toured gorgeous temples and plantations, rode an elephant and spent countless hours walking the streets of towns like South Kuta, Seminyak and Ubud that cater to tourists, looking at shops full of everything from carved figures of anatomically correct men’s parts with a bottle opener attached to gorgeous handmade lace dresses.

If there is an item that could be of potential interest to a tourist, it’s for sale in Bali – and usually straight from the creator.

The things that stood out above all else however were the Hindu offerings placed three times daily in front of every shop, home, statue and fountain. You literally cannot walk two yards down a street without needing to step over someone’s offering.

Placed in small handmade bowls made out of palm fronds, the offerings are a Hindu’s way of showing thanks to their gods for the blessings in their lives. Typically each offering contains a small portion of either rice or some other sampling of whatever the family had for breakfast along with a few flowers and a stick of incense left to burn – making the streets a fragrant mixture of smells one might expect in a place like Morocco.

For some, a small wrapped mint taken from the stock of their own shop might be all that can be spared for that day’s offering, yet in Bali you rarely see a frowning face.

The offerings are about gratitude and, as with all things in Bali, about harmony, balance and most of all Karma.

Hindu is the primary religion on the Indonesian island, but there are also Muslims, Christians and a few minority religious sects as well. The thing that is striking however is the ability for all of these different groups to live in relative peace on a small island over-run by tourists.

An island where, by all rights, these groups should be at each other’s throats over merchant territory at the least.

Yet, they’re not, and being ever curious I was on a mission to find out why.

After an hour long conversation with a 40-something-year-old Muslim taxi cab driver named Koko (just Koko – the rest is “too hard for English speakers”) – who I questioned relentlessly on everything from his children, Muslim wedding customs, how he came to speak five languages, the 2002 terrorist attack at a local nightclub, to Muslim/Hindu relations – the one thing I walked away with was something Koko patiently repeated several times, something that is so much a part of the Balinese people that they just live it every day without over-analyzing.

“We help each other,” he said. “We just like for there to be peace. What’s good for my Hindu brother is good for me.”

(For the curious, Koko has five children, along with four grandkids. To get married in Bali both parties have to sign a contract swearing that they have not been coerced into the union. Koko’s wife was Hindu when they met and later converted to Muslim.  Koko only had six official years in a school, yet knows Indonesian, English, Japanese, Italian and some French – all learned through his interactions with tourists. And he missed being in the path of one of the car bombs in front of the nightclub in 2002 by about six minutes and had several friends who were not so lucky.)

A tour of Goa Gajah, an 11th century Hindu temple and archeological treasure that is still actively used by practicing Hindus today, introduced us to a tour guide named Made Ardana who expounded some on the peaceful nature of both local Hindus and the “live and let live” culture of Bali.

Ardana, who had a fresh tattoo on his forearm that said “Live to Learn” in English, was another Balinese educated far beyond his years in a classroom. He was quick to point out how important it is to gather knowledge and learn from others while practicing the extremely important Hindu (and Balinese) art of Karma, where one only puts out what they want to receive back to themselves.

This concept could easily explain the low rates for murder, rape, burglary or other crimes on the island. Despite the deadly terrorist attack in 2002, the island feels safe – with  smiling faces and people practically bending over backwards to make a tourist’s visit both pleasurable and trouble free.

Koko and Ardana, neither of whom has ever left the island of Bali, both claim this atmosphere can be almost solely explained by the island’s predisposition with Karma.

Whether or not the island holds some type of magical powers for peaceful behavior or whether it’s simply the completely dedicated faith of the island’s people and their treatment of tourists in turn, Bali’s culture does seem to draw both curious and faith-seeking groups of people and individuals who are looking for something more in their own lives.

This was only intensified after the popular movie “Eat, Pray, Love” starring Julia Roberts showed her character having a life-changing experience on the island.

For instance, on our second day in Bali we ran into a group of more than 40 individuals, most of whom had flown more than half way around the world to follow Mary Morrissey, a famous motivational speaker and life coach, on a spiritual journey that was supposed to give them guidance on how to live the rest of their lives with some type of enlightenment in a way that made them happier, more deeply fulfilled and more spiritual people.

For the majority of the travelers, that trip allowed them the opportunity to get outside of their regular lives and look at things in a new light so they could be appreciative and try to live fuller lives.

However, for the Balinese – most of whom have never traveled beyond their small island – those concepts come naturally because they intentionally live them throughout each day.

It is simply an essential part of who they are. No shame.

Whether Bali provides that same enlightenment for those who seek it or not, the island definitely provides the surroundings and atmosphere to open the mind and see things in a simpler light.

But is seeing things in a simpler and more appreciative light something we should have to travel away to find?

Regardless of your religion or lack thereof, wouldn’t it be great if living that way was something we could do in our everyday lives right where we are – to take time out to be kind to one another, to think ‘what is good for our brother is good for us,’ to look out for each other, to think of peace first, to think of helping others first – and live it in such a way that we don’t apologize for it, it’s just a part of who we are and it exudes from us in the way we act, the way we talk, and the things we do most importantly.

I think, in the end, when people go searching they usually find what they’re looking for, so maybe the solution is simply to search.

Right where we are. Everyday.

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