Having A Purpose

Why Having Purpose is the Secret to a Longer, Healthier Life

I have known for a long time that I am one of those people who truly requires a purpose in order to be satisfied.  I need to be needed.  If I don’t have at least one goal that I’m working toward, I tend to coast my way through my days, getting very little done.  Even if it’s not a monumental task or project, having something specific to accomplish keeps me moving.

It doesn’t have to be a detailed plan or even be written down, although some people prefer to work it like that (I am one of those).  Even if you don’t write your “to-do list” down, thinking through the things that you want to accomplish and then mentally checking them off as they are completed can provide a sense of accomplishment.  And it’s a positive feedback loop.  Feeling like you’re accomplishing something makes you want to accomplish more.

But one of my favorite parts of the article was the admonition to not get stuck in the planning stage.  Some of us have a tendency to try to get the “perfect” game plan, or choose the “perfect” goal, and wind up accomplishing nothing.  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t plan at all, or that we shouldn’t be prioritizing our goals, but we can’t allow the planning or the worry about which goal should take priority paralyze us.  Just choose something and work at it.

And the best advice ever?  Set SMALL, attainable goals.  This doesn’t mean you don’t set big goals, it means you dice your goals into tiny chewable pieces.  If you have Mount Washmore to tackle, shoot for finishing two loads today.  If you have things still in boxes from your last move, set a mini-goal of a certain number of boxes or a certain amount of time spent sorting and putting away.  If you want to lose 50 lbs, have that ultimate goal in your mind, but set a micro-goal of losing two pounds this week.  Get the idea?

If you break a large goal into smaller pieces, it’s much easier to stay motivated because you’re always getting that feeling of accomplishment for moving forward.  Otherwise, the ultimate goal can seem quite daunting.  So that overwhelming task you’ve been putting off?  Take a tiny bite of it today.  And make sure you have a “purpose” that you’re working towards.  It’s good for your health!

Dream List…Not a Bucket List

I like the idea of a “dream list” instead of a “bucket list”. I think I shall ponder creating one of my own.

Hike By Faith

There is a difference between a dream list and a bucket list. A bucket list are things you HOPE to do before you “kick the bucket” (die). A dream list is something you PLAN to do. When it comes to hiking and backpacking I have a dream list and I’m already making plans and preparing to accomplish my list.

  • Thru-hike the AT – This is a bug dream as it will require at least five months of my life, not working, having the money to do it and a job to come bak to when I’m done. As well as the mental, emotional and physical strength to complete a thru-hike.
  • Crater National – The picture below speaks for itself as to why I want to hike this terrain.
  • Yellowstone National
  • Colorado 14er’s
  • Alaska Wilderness

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What’s on your dream list for hiking and backpacking? Would like to read your comments of…

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More on the Power of Touch

While I have written before on the Power of Touch, I’d like to hit it again, with a slightly different approach.  And this one’s going to be walking a pretty fine line for some of you, so be forewarned.

As I’ve said, I’m a pretty huggy person.  But I’ve been thinking about how our society has some things backward, at least in my opinion.  It seems like the overwhelming attitude is that people are expected to be free with their sexual relationships, but stingy with meaningful touch.  When two people form a close bond of friendship, whether it is two women, two men, or a man and a woman, certain types of physical contact draw raised eyebrows as to whether their relationship is inappropriate.  I’m not really trying to open up the gay/lesbian debate here, I’m mostly just wondering why a frivolous attitude toward sexual intimacy seems to be encouraged, but just touching people is an anathema.

I was kind of surprised that just after I had started writing this post, a friend of mine posted a link to a review about the “Touching Strangers” project.  The project itself was not what struck me as odd, it was that I know that this particular friend is not typically a touchy-feely kind of person, and he thought the project was a great idea.  Think about it: have you ever caught yourself an instant before you are about to touch someone else, and wondered if it would make them feel uncomfortable, or be misinterpreted by someone else?

Especially in the US, we seem to be very reluctant to touch our friends in a caring way, and I think that is definitely to our detriment.  Sure, we need to speak, share time, have moments of communion with one another to really form a strong bond, but sometimes a touch can communicate so much more than words, and sometimes we simply can’t find the words we need.  If we refrain from reaching out in those moments, we are keeping our relationship from being all it could be.

Since more and more of our interactions end up being electronic in nature, I expect this will probably only get worse.  The fact of the matter is, we simply cannot reach out and touch someone through a computer screen. (“Pokes” do NOT count.)  We are without a doubt sensory creatures.  And I don’t want to get all morbid here, but we should never let social mores keep us from expressing to someone how we care for them, both with words and without.  We never know how many more chances we’ll get.

Above all, the issue is this:  intimate does not necessarily mean sexual, and sexual does not necessarily mean intimate (although I firmly believe that it should be, that is another discussion entirely).  If we are close to someone, we should not forgo showing them; we should not be constantly worried about what others think.  Let me be clear:  I’m not saying that you should go around lewdly grabbing your friends.  But we shouldn’t hesitate to put a hand on someone’s shoulder, give them a longer-than-usual hug, or <gasp> touch their cheek when the moment calls for it.  It is the most tangible way we can say, “I understand where you’re coming from, and I’m right here beside you, for the long haul.”

Everyone should have at least a couple of people they feel this way about.  It’s us against the world.  I’ve got your back.  If you’re married, your spouse should definitely be one of those people, and I’m so very glad that mine is.  But it’s not necessarily good for your spouse to be the ONLY person that’s got your back, or that you be the only person that THEY depend on.  True, building that kind of relationship takes work, but it’s so worth the effort.

Photographs and memories

I’ve been pondering the idea of the paparazzi.  While I hate the way some photographers harass and literally stalk celebrities in order to get some stupid sensational photo that they can spin and make a bunch of money at someone else’s expense, I have also seen some great candid pictures that are far better than anything that could come from a planned photo shoot.  Sometimes the best shots are the ones where someone is being totally, naturally themselves.

My sister is a photography fanatic.  When just going about her daily life she takes quite a few pictures, and when something “special” is happening, she literally takes several hundred pictures in a day.  We kind of tease her about it, but I actually really like that I don’t have to worry about it, and I know she’ll get far better pics than I could, even if it’s simply because out of a thousand pictures, there’s got to be a few keepers!

I think part of the reason I’ve been thinking about this is that while I was going through pictures of my grandmother I was lamenting that there were so few of her in her later years, and so few of me with her after I reached adulthood.  This is probably because she wasn’t happy with the way she looked, and always avoided photos like the plague.  I too, suffered from extreme photo avoidance, primarily due to my dismal self-esteem, which I have only recently started to overcome.  But because of that, I have very few photos of the two of us, even as important as she was to me, and even though we’ve spent quite a bit of time together.

We do have a few, from holiday gatherings of family, and I am grateful for those.  But sometimes I wish that I had a picture of us playing Scrabble, or standing around the piano and singing together as granny played, or laughing over some ridiculous thing that someone did or said.  Because most of all, I remember the laughter.  It was never hard, with my granny and granddaddy.  I was always safe, and happy, and we laughed.  There was music, there was joy, there was love, and there was laughter.  And I’m sorry I don’t have a record of more of those moments.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t want to cheapen the memories, or imply that they don’t mean as much just because I don’t have tangible evidence of them.  Those memories will remain just as dear to my heart as they were the day they occurred.  But it would be nice to have a few pictures to make them even sharper.  To keep them sharper as the years cause them to fade.  And I could probably write another page or two about hanging onto and dwelling on the right memories.  We choose the moments that continually replay in our minds.  Make sure they’re the good ones.

But right now I’m talking about physical mementos of those moments that we share together.  It seems like we flood our wedding days with pictures, but then neglect our daily lives with our spouses.  We take pictures at the birth of our children, and on their birthdays, but sometimes we don’t take enough of random happy days.  Maybe this is just me.  Maybe I’m just a deadbeat mom for not taking more pictures of my kids, and WITH my kids, and the rest of you have made that a higher priority than I have.  But I’d like to improve that now.  I want to make a point of intentionally taking pictures with my kids, my husband, my nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, everyone who is important to me.  Look out, people, because I am going to be THAT person.  And I’m hoping some of them will be relaxed and natural, moments in time, candid shots of our lives together.

So I’d like to say, Heather, keep stalking us all.  I want to encourage your love of photography, and all the rest of you out there, take pictures.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re an amateur or a pro, whether you have a several-thousand-dollar camera, or just a cheap disposable or fuzzy cell phone camera.  As lame and corny as it sounds, you will later find gems, even if there are only a few.  And you’ll be glad you did.