Challenge Yourself

Do you ever get bored with what you’re doing? Maybe it’s time to push yourself a bit further. Take on a challenge.

This challenge can be physical, mental, or spiritual, depending on what you need at the moment.

Here is my Challenge:

I just switched majors, from Accounting to Art Studio. (Yes, I know this is a bit of a jump, but it’s a change from something that will pay well to something that I actually enjoy.) In order to complete my degree in 4 years, including a Business Minor, I have to take a rather hefty course load. This semester I am signed up for 22 hours. (15 seems to be a common number, though I have not taken less than 16 thus far.)

I had an advisor tell me that you can’t take that many hours. Her response might have been similar if I had told her that I was going to the moon. “You CAN’T do that.” Which I found rather odd, since I have been signed up for the classes for about 6 months now, and she was the one who ok’d my schedule in the first place. 😀

I know this semester is going to be challenging, but I also know that I can do it if I manage my time well. If it turns out that for some reason I can’t, I still have a grace period of a couple weeks where I can drop some classes to a “normal” level with no repercussions.

So what about you?

What challenge are you going to take on? Push yourself (but leave an out if you need it).

Read Something Out of Your Comfort Zone

I am an avid reader (who has been frustratingly without time for pleasure reading here recently.) With a wide range of interests, I have far too many options when it comes time to choose the next books to read. Even with this many options, I frequently find myself reading similar types of material. In order to stretch myself, I try to peruse different “foreign” sections occasionally.

I am not a poetry reader (much less a writer… if I write it one should not be surprised when it starts with “roses are red, violets are blue”). However, sometimes an author or book will catch my eye and I’ll give it a try. Recently one did just that. After chasing the book down at the library I picked it up and have just begun reading it. For some reason, this poem caught my fancy.

Abecedary
By: Tom Disch
From: Yes, Let’s

A is an Apple, as everyone knows.
But B is a …. What do you suppose?
A Bible? A Barber? A Banquet? A Bank?
No, B is this Boat, the night that it sank.
C is its Captain, and D is its Dory,
While E – But first let me tell you a story.
There once was an Eagle exceedingly proud
Who thought it would fly, in the Form of a cloud —
Yes, E is for Eagle, and F is for Form,
And G is the Grass that got wet in the storm
When the cloud that the Egale unwisely became
Sprinkled our hero and all of his fame
Over ten acres of upland plateau.
So much for that story. Now H. Do you know?
H is the Hay that was made from the Grass,
And I’s the Idea of going to Mass,
Which is something that only a Catholic would do.
Jews go to Synagogue. J is a Jew.
K is for Kitchen as well as for Kiss,
While L is for all of the black Licorice
You can eat in an hour without feeling ill.
M is for Millipede, Millet, and Mill.
The first is an insect, the second a grain,
The third grinds the second: it’s hard to explain
Such a process to children who never have seen it —
So let’s go to the country right now! YEs, I mean it.
We’re leaving already, and N is the Night
We race through to reach it, while P is the Plight
Of the people (Remember?) who sailed in that Boat
That is still, by a miracle, somehow afloat!
(Oh dear, I’ve just nocied I’ve overlooked O:
O’s an Omission and really should go
In that hole – do you see it? – between N and P.
No? It’s not there now? Dear O, pardon me.)
Q is the Question of how far away
A person can travel in one single day,
And whether it’s worth it, or might it be better
To just stay at home and write someone a letter?
R’s are Relations, a regular swarm.
Now get out of the car – we’ve arrived at their farm!
S is the Sight of a Thanksgiving feast,
And T is the Turkey, which must weight at least
Thirty pounds. U is Utopia. V …
V simply Vanishes – where, we can’t see –
While W Waves from its Westernmost isle
And X lies exhausted, attempting to smile.
There are no letters left now but Y and then Z.
Y is for You, dear, and Z is for me.

—————————————–

Find something that is a bit out of your normal comfort zone and give it a try. You might just be pleasantly surprised by what you discover!

Back in the Saddle

Nope, it’s not horse-back riding… I’m back on my bicycle, and it feels good! (so long as the hill is not too steep or long, of course.)

Until about 4 days ago, I hadn’t ridden my bicycle since December. It’s kinda hard to pack a bicycle in a suitcase (especially since I don’t have a folding bike). I was bicycle-less while in Ireland, and again after returning; not that a bicycle would have done me much good during the hectic month or so of cross-country driving.

Now I’m getting back in the swing of things. Work is going strong, finals are coming to a close and school is starting back up. Since everything is ramping back up to full time, and my wife and I’s schedules do not quite coincide, the bikes are being put back into action.

While I am definitely not in the shape that I was back in December (oh how my legs scream on the hills!) it certainly feels good to be riding again. It’s only a matter of time until I get back in shape (and with the way my schedule’s looking… it’ll be a short time).

Not only is it nice to be back on the bike, but it’s also a step towards one of the goals on my list. Some daily riding with longer rides once a week will be the small stepping stones I need to take to get there.

What did you used to do that you miss? Why aren’t you doing it now? No good reason? Go, do it!

10 Ways to Get More Adventure in Your Life

Here are 10 simple ways to put more adventure in your life.

  1. Do something new
    Big range available here… do something that is new to you. This could be trying a new activity, meeting new people, or going somewhere you have never been before.
     
  2. Do something old in a new place
    Any every-day action can be made new exciting when you do it in a new setting. Your lunch will be much better if you eat sitting in a park instead of at your desk. Your supper tonight will be more exciting if you have a picnic instead of a “normal meal”.
     
  3. Pursue an interest
    Pick out something that you have always wanted to try, and start today! What are you waiting for?
     
  4. Go somewhere familiar and look at it in a new way
    There are many places that you visit on a regular basis and because of this familiarity you don’t really look at them. Go somewhere familiar and explore it as if it was new!
     
  5. Travel in a new way
    Either take a new route or try a new mode of transportation. You might be surprised how much you overlook out of familiarity on a habitual route.
     
  6. Try a new version of something familiar
    Do you purchase the same things every time you go to the store? Take the few extra moments next time and try a different version or brand of a product you use!
     
  7. Try a new food
    New food is one of the easiest things that you can introduce some variety into your life. If you don’t like it, you don’t have a large investment, and you can easily avoid it next time. You never know where you will find a new favorite!
     
  8. Take a break
    Sometimes the best thing you can do is give yourself a chance to recharge. On the way home from work, stop and sit in a park for a few minutes. Sit in the yard and read a book for an hour. Enjoy a hot bath.
     
  9. Turn off the TV
    Take control of your time and go have an adventure of your own, instead of watching someone else’s adventure.
     
  10. Plan your next adventure
    Want something bigger than the other 9? Sit down and plan your dream adventure!

Which of these are you going to try today?

How Do You Define a Place?

What makes somewhere worth visiting? After leaving, why do you gush about one place and forget another? I’m sure that everyone will answer these questions differently. However, there is an easy way to determine your personal definition of a place. Think about your favorite trip (or the one you dream about.) What first comes to mind? Is it the people, food, the landscape, music or something else? Whatever it is, that is how you define that place (it may be different for different places).

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The first few weeks my wife and I spent here in Ireland, we visited the largest cities. Dublin and Cork are fabulous places, full of amazing buildings and historic places. However, we came away less than thrilled. Neither of us are city people, we much prefer the wild places. When we pictured Ireland we both saw a rolling green countryside criss-crossed with stone walls, the fields dotted with sheep all watched over by thatched-roof buildings. The cities, of course, offered none of these things.

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Finally, we headed to Galway and spent all of one night there before heading out to The Burren (Irish for Rocky Place). This was the country that we had been picturing; we saw our rolling hills, endless stone walls and sheep. We also visited the Cliffs of Moher. (I got to wave “back home” across the ocean.) The weekend was far too short, and the bus did not stay at any of the stops nearly long enough. We will definitely be returning.

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When you go somewhere, be sure and seek out what really interests you. Don’t allow yourself to get caught in the trap of seeing what everyone else recommends! You might have different tastes than they do. Many of our fellow students are most interested in seeking out new pubs with traditional music. While we enjoy the music, we have no interest in visiting the pubs. So we seek out our own adventure.

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Our own adventure includes not only the amazing landscapes, but also local foods. We are visiting local eateries in search of traditional foods (and yes, this did include a stop at a pub for a pint… gotta try it out, after all!) Our collection of recipes is growing, so that we can prepare our favorites when we return home. You can see a soup recipe here.

As you can see your definition of a place might not be a single thing, but a combination. My wife and I view Ireland as the places, the food and the people. In the places where we don’t experience all of these things to our satisfaction, we will leave disappointed and they will slip from our minds. Once you know how you define a place, you will know what you need to search out in places you visit, to ensure that you have a fulfilling and warmly remembered experience.

What Kind of Explorer are You?

For two weeks we had been doing it all wrong. Finally, it occurred to us: we are not urban tourists.

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What kind of explorer are you? Are you excited by gardens or architecture; do you prefer the historic or the cutting edge parts of town? You already know what interests you, though you might have to decide to focus on those things. Try as you might, until you do, your adventures will not be as fulfilling as they could be.

We spent the first night of a trip following friends around looking for a pub to visit; we have no interest in pubs, though and did not enjoy ourselves – we do not imbibe and prefer more subdued music. Instead, we are coffee beans. We eagerly search out new shops, where we compare our favorite drinks and appreciate the decor over conversation. While there we satisfy our sweet tooth by sampling the offered desserts. This type of exploration is much more our style, motivating us and providing energy. As much as we enjoy our friends’ company, my wife and I much prefer striking out on our own.

What kind of explorer you are influences where you go. Do you want to see the natural areas or tour the city? Since we are visiting a new (to us) country we have been touring the cities and towns, “seeing the sights.” Other than a few monuments and historic buildings, all cities are the same to us. We don’t care about shopping or seeing what the stores have to offer. Once we’ve seen those highlights, we’re left with a city that we have no interest in. At an ancient castle, though, we won’t even have made it inside before most visitors are leaving. We will spend all day exploring the garden and grounds, seeing where all the trails go and watching the wildlife. If that is the only place that we visit, we will be more than thrilled.

This is something that my wife and I consider every year. At least once a year my wife and I go white water rafting. We have two different destinations available within a 5 hour drive. We can travel down to Tennessee, spend the whole weekend and raft on a level 3/4 river for about $150 each (gas, food, camping, rafting, everything), or we can head over to West Virginia for a 4/5 river that costs about $150 for the day trip (just rafting). It’s a no-brainer for us. We are rather frugal and like our money to go further. We prefer to spend the entire weekend; we get to go hiking in the mountains, we carry our climbing gear so we can do some climbing, there is a cave nearby that we can explore, and we get to go rafting! The river is not quite as wild, but it is still a great experience, and the other activities available more than make up for any difference in the rivers.

Don’t think that this is just something that you need to consider when visiting somewhere new; it applies to places near to home as well. When you visit the nearby lake, do you want to go fishing, swimming or rock skipping? All three require different circumstances, found at different spots along the shore. When visiting the park, are you going there for a quiet stroll in the shade, a brisk jog for exercise, or somewhere private for a picnic? These different goals might be best suited at completely different parks, separate locations within the park, or during varying times of day.

Now that we have consciously thought about our preferences, our trips have been much better suited for us. We might never do some of the things that our fellow students are doing, but we will visit other places they will never see. These differences in our respective trips will provide the extra personal meaning that we are searching for.

Adventure Is Not All About Travel!

Often when I tell someone that I am going on a trip, they comment “what a great adventure!” And they are right. However, I think that people often have the mistaken idea that adventure = travel, which is not the case. Traveling might get you to the adventure, it might even be an adventure in and of itself, but adventure can be found wherever you are.

I think that the biggest reason for this mis-belief is because people don’t realize what I said in my first post, that “an adventure is something that is exciting or new to you.” They think ‘adventure’ and picture some grand excursion. In reality, an adventure can take place in your back yard, at your local park, or in your home town.

It all depends on your mindset. When you are looking for adventure, you can find it in the most surprising, dare I say everyday, places. If all it takes is doing something new or something exciting, you can do that in your nearest grocery store. I can wander over to the cheese section and find some very interesting looking specimens. I have never tried any of them, and know nothing about them. For a quick culinary adventure, I could pick out one that looks interesting and ask someone behind the counter what they recommend that I try it with. Pick up their recommendation and go home to sample. I might feel safer to do a quick search online for recommendations I searched for “Merlot and cheese combo” and came up with a list of cheeses to consider: Brie, Camembert, Cheddar, Gorgonzola, Gouda, Gruyere, Jarlsberg, and Parmesan… in about three minutes. If you’re already a cheese fan and have tried everything offered locally, check out the other aisles, I’m sure that you can find something new.

If you are short of inspiration, spend some time with a 5 year old. Any child will lead you on a constant stream of adventures, if you let them. You will explore with a prince or princess, discover exciting worlds and otherwise have an amazing time. All of these amazing adventures to be had in familiar, everyday settings. (Don’t have a 5 year old that you can borrow? I’m sure that if you ask your friends, family, and neighbors you will find someone who could use a babysitter, even if it is just for a few hours of peace during the day.)

As a blog about everyday adventure, I will be mentioning all different kinds of adventures that are available, not just the ones that involve travel. Don’t become discouraged because you don’t have the time or money to go somewhere for a week-long getaway, you can have adventures anytime, anywhere, as long as you are looking for them.

3 Paths to Culinary Adventure

Want to introduce some quick excitement into your daily life? Would an easy culinary adventure fit the bill? There are three simple ways to do this. Three easy things that fit easily into your daily schedule while spicing it up. Without further ado, here are three quick culinary adventures you can try today:

1) Try something you don’t think you will like.
If you haven’t tried it, how do you know you won’t like it? Try it with an open mind and adventuresome palate and you might be pleasantly surprised. This adventure is simple; choose something that you do not think that you will like and give it a try. I do not suggest forcing yourself to eat it as a whole meal, or even the main course. A small portion as a side is enough. If you don’t like it after a bite or two, large amounts of it are not likely to improve its taste. (Don’t forget that this can be a beverage as well as food.)

My suggestion for this adventure is to make it a total experience as much as a tasting adventure. Go to a fitting setting for whatever you are trying. In this way, the focus is not as much on the food as the whole trip. If then you end up being correct about not liking the food, the adventure continues, un-spoiled by the tasting attempt.

Personally, I tried some Guinness. I have yet to find a beer of any kind that I like, and had no great expectations for this one. While exploring Dublin on foot, I decided to head into the Temple Bar and give it a try. What better place to try an Irish beer than an Irish pub that opened in 1840? (The Guinness brewery was closing soon and I couldn’t make it in time for a tour, so they were out of the question.) I ordered a pint of Guinness and then managed to find an empty stool. The first sip wasn’t too bad, better than I expected. About halfway through the glass, however, I came to the conclusion that I still am not a beer drinker. While I did not enjoy the beverage, I enjoyed the experience. I will return and try something different while enjoying the live music, which was fantastic.

2) Re-try something you don’t like.
Over time, your tastes change. You might have loved mac-and-cheese as a kid, but can’t stand it now. Or you hated asparagus but now enjoy it. Every so often it is worth re-trying things that you used to dislike. This easy adventure involves just choosing something that you did not like the last time you tried it, and giving it another chance. As with the first adventure, I recommend trying only a small portion, definitely not as the main course.

You may want to alter some things from the last time that you tried it. Perhaps a new cook (different restaurant), or a new recipe is what you need to begin enjoying it. Last time it might simply have been overcooked,or under-seasoned. You might have had a portion of lesser quality, so you may want to pay a bit extra when you purchase your raw ingredients if you are making it yourself.

My wife is not a fan of seafood. She has tried it a number of times throughout the years and simply cannot stand it. Recently, some friends invited us over for dinner, and we did not realize until arriving that they had prepared tilapia. I assured her that she could have my side dishes and I eat her fish so that she would not go hungry. Bravely she sampled a fillet, and found that she enjoyed it. She even had seconds! This unexpected culinary venture was successful due to a number of variables: new type of fish, new chef, and a new recipe. She is still not eager to order fish as her meal, but she is willing to give it a try in the hopes that she finds more that is to her liking.

3) Try a new version of something you do like.
In case your previous two adventures did not turn out as well as you hoped, this one is almost guaranteed to be good. Everyone has their favorite foods, here’s your chance to enjoy one of yours. Simply pick one of your favorite foods and try a new version of it. This can be as simple as going to a different restaurant than normal and having it there (made by someone new, perhaps with a new recipe), looking up recipes and trying a different one from normal, or finding a new version of it at the store. Unlike the previous two adventures, I do recommend a generous helping this time around. Eat up and enjoy!

This was a simple enough adventure for me. While out shopping, my wife and I picked up some Irish Sausage links. For supper we fried them up, scrambled some eggs, made some toast, and topped it off with some orange juice. Those sausages were delicious! (Not that any of it was bad.) The entire meal took only a few minutes to prepare, and will definitely be repeated on a regular basis.