Going without going

Vacations often come with lots of hassles, especially if there's an airport involved.  Why not save that money, stay at home or close to it, and spend it on fun stuff? Get a massage, go to a movie, buy 20 new-to-you albums at the used record store.

Plan a getaway soon that involves as little driving as possible. Just let go of your normal routine and obligations and putter around your favorite neighborhood.

I find the restorative effect is magnified tremendously by doing this on a day you'd normally be at work – just be sure to leave your mobile phone at home so none of those silly people working can distract you from your vacation.

Rediscover your kid feet

I don't know about you, but when I was a kid, I walked all over the place. The library was a mile away and I regularly walked there carrying many books – even when I was a pretty small kid.

I remember going to the pet store and Pop's, the liquor store with the array of candy. As much as those urban destinations, though, I went with my friends up into the hills – still within a mile or less of home – but scrambling around on rocks & under trees, catching lizards, making up stories.

Or we'd head down to what is now the Martinez marina park, but was then a big tidal flat of trails through the cattails. I'm sure the walk home helped shake enough of the mud I acquired to prolong the life of our otherwise-doomed washing machine.

Pretend you don't have a car available to you and you don't have more than $5 saved up from your allowance. Gotta get home in time for supper, but otherwise you're free.

Go find the world near your home and do some kid stuff.

Discard Party

Having a really hard time letting go of something? Know some friends in the same boat? Get together for a low-key show-and-tell brunch and share the stories of your things. Then everyone hop in the car and head for the local Goodwill or other charity to donate all the these items you've honored.

Thanks to Discardian Melissa Simonson for this idea!

Why do you have more than one of those?

There are some things you really only need one of, so why clutter up your life with multiples?

Are you actually the kind of person who ever uses a multi-head screwdriver in each hand? And while I understand an extra can opener in the emergency kit, do you really need three in the kitchen drawer? Come on. You aren't on the moon; there's a store nearby where you can get another if this one breaks.

Keep the best one and get rid of the inferiors.

For some things – corkscrews, for example – it's worth having one spare so an evening isn't ruined by a broken tool. (But if there's a corkscrew on your swiss army knife, as there is on mine, you've got your emergency backup, so get rid of the big extras).

Take Your Chances/Cut Your Losses

If a great opportunity falls in your lap, but it'll be tricky to bring off successfully, see if there's a way you can give it a try while maintaining an escape plan. If so, set up the timeline for when you will definitely proceed with it or will use that exit. Then go for it.

When you're trying to make a project come together be sure to regularly weigh the work required, time remaining and chances for success. If the picture gets bleak, instead of exhausting yourself for a poor result, choose one of these options

– scale the project back to make it achievable with the originally planned amount of work in the time remaining,

– extend the deadline to allow you to fit in more work at a non-stressful pace,

– decide it will not come out well enough to be worth it, cut your losses and call it off.

As time goes on you'll get better at estimating the work required, calculating the time things take, and judging before commitment whether something will be rewarding. If you let yourself intelligently make some mistakes by taking some risks, you can learn from them.

Discard apathy

Do you feel good about this news? Perhaps that's not what alarmed you most in the paper this week. Whatever has you concerned about what your elected officials are doing, take time this weekend to dig into the issues and their actions in more depth.

Questions to ask:
– what do people on different sides of the issue say happened or is happening?
– how are commentators evaluating these developments?
– has something like this happened before here or elsewhere in the world? What happened in that case?
– do my applicable elected officials know how I feel about this issue?
– is there an action I can take which will put things back on the right track?
– can I share what I've learned with others, even in just an email to friends & family or a letter to the editor of my local paper?

Freedom of information, freedom of speech and representative government are wonderful treasures. Use them.

Friday roundup

Think about who you'll be seeing and where you'll be going this weekend.

Do you have anything that needs to be returned to those friends?
Any errands that are along the way to other destinations?

Make a little plan and gather the stuff to send it on down the road to wherever it belongs.

At a minimum:
– take out trash
– take out recycling
– drop off things you've decided to donate to charity
– return library materials
– do a little stuff patrol around the house to get things to the room where they belong

Watch out for substitution tricks

I don't know if your brain does this, but mine does and it has really helped me to become concious of it.

Sometimes I'll go to the kitchen looking for a snack when I'm actually
not hungry. 9 times out of 10 what I need is a glass of water, but I
perceive the thirst as something more interesting for my tongue.

Sometimes at my lunch break or on the way home from work when I am stressed and mentally tired, I will want to go buy something. Not "I will want to get x", but just a vague shopping urge coming over me. I suspect that I'm remembering being pleased about getting something I desired and so I start to replicate that experience when what I really want is to have spent time doing whatever I damn well pleased instead of working. What I need is to relax and give myself a sense of accomplishment & completion; there are lots of better (and cost-free) ways to do that than shopping.

Be mindful of your actions and urges. Answer your real needs with the right solution, not a placeholder.