One summer, a sweet little camper found his way into my heart. He was one of the littlest campers. He didn’t talk much. He did like to flex his muscles (literally) quite regularly and smile that awkward 4 year old smile. Truthfully, if it weren’t for what he said to me on his second to last day at camp, I don’t know that I would remember him so well.
It went something like this:
Me: Good morning!
Camper: You’re going to miss me when I move to China.
Me: (confused pause)… yeah, bud, I guess I will…
Camper: Yup! (runs off to play)
On his last day of camp I mentioned the conversation to his dad. His dad replied, “Oh yeah, we are moving this weekend.”
That was the last I saw of the little camper, and you know what? He was right. I miss him.
This summer, a preschooler was here for the summer. Guess where he went back to? China, you guessed? Close, Singapore. But still, this little student made me think of my little camper.
Some of my camp friends and I will tell each other, “You’re going to miss me when I move to China.” It is a silly way of telling each other that we miss the other person.
I may even be guilty of having said it once or twice to non-camp people when really what I should have said was, “I am going to miss you when you leave.” I then find myself having to explain my absurd declaration.
I don’t generally rock at expressing my emotions, especially those vulnerable and tender ones, like goodbyes, because sometimes goodbyes are difficult. Usually goodbyes are difficult. I think they are especially challenging when they are the kind of goodbyes we say at the end of summer camp, or really any short lived but deeply loved relationship. It is hard to say, “this was brief, but you ended up meaning so much to me, we might never see each other again, we might even forget about each other, but right now, in this moment, I don’t have to words to tell you how important you are, and I wish I could pause time for just a little bit, I am not sure I am ready to say good-bye.”
So instead I might say, “You’re going to miss me when I move to China.”
A few weekends ago, my longest standing, non-relative, friend (seriously we met when we could hardly hold up our heads) came for a visit. This was a big deal because she NEVER gets time off work. I told her I would never even consider moving back to California until she came for a visit. Guess what, she and her boyfriend were here for almost 5 days! And you know what we did? We went camping.
I might not strike you as the camping kind of gal, but I absolutely love, love, love camping. Mom, Dad, Brother and I did some camping back when we all could fit in a 4 man tent. That is where Brother told me about the Bogeyman, he said the shadows I saw on the tent were the Bogeyman’s hands coming to get me. It turned out to be a tree, but that particular camping trip was one of the scariest of my life. We visited the Redwoods and a few different beaches, occasionally I camped in our back yard. I did more beach camping and Joshua Tree with Scouts. I even camped in England (well sort of, it is hard to call an international scout jamboree camping, it was amazing, but that many people in a field with showers and a pub, it was hardly roughing it). I hadn’t gone camping here yet, you know, floods and winter slowed me down a bit, so when she said they wanted to camp I was thrilled.
We decided to drive up into the Arapahoe National Forest and find a spot to call home for the weekend. It was amazing, incredible, rejuvenating, exhausting, phenomenally dirty and everything I didn’t know I needed.
We talked about EVERYTHING, we always do. I almost feel bad for the boyfriend, but hey he knew what he was getting into. We talked about, religion, politics, family, friends, music, cosmetics, careers, dreams, fears, memories, my blog. I asked her what she wanted me to write about. She said: The 10 Essentials of Life
Before we were down the mountain a few days later this was almost totally written in my head.
I first learned about the 10 essentials through Scouts. We are a scouting family Mom, Dad, Brother, and Me. I remember my first pocket knife that I got to take with me on hikes, it was a pink swiss army knife, my whole troop got them, I think we were six. I still have it. My friend comes from this kind of family too (scouting/ ten essentials type), but in case you don’t, and incase you ever want to go out into nature at least minimally prepared this is what I am talking about (although please don’t use me as your only source of information):
Scouting 10 Essentials
a pocket-knife or multitool
first aid kit
matches and/or fire starter
map & compass
This is what REI lists as “Updated 10 Essentials”, just for additional reference
Navigation (map & compass)
Repair Kit & tools
So, since life is a journey (hence the name of the blog), I had better pack my ten essentials, but what are they? Are they things? I know I have gone on and on about my love for my stand mixer. But that would be heavy and hardly essential. Sure my passport, drivers license, and favorite stuffed animal are things I don’t want to go without, but essential…not in the macro sense, not at all. So, what are the 10 essentials of life, according to me? Well, I am glad you asked. In no set order, other than how they came to me..
1. Positive Attitude
I am a firm believer that a positive attitude will get you farther in life than most anything. This isn’t always an easy thing to have, but with practice it gets easier. Life throws some epic curve balls once in a while, a positive attitude makes that pitch easier to handle. It is a choice, as are most things. We don’t always get to choose what happens, but we do get to choose our attitude.
Some people are blessed with one great passion from the very beginning. Others take years to find their passion. I feel lucky to have so many passions. It doesn’t matter what you are passionate about, it matters that you seek out your passion and pursue it. Passions enrich our lives and give us purpose.
It seems to me that gratitude might be one of the biggies here on this list (I think I am going to have to try and stop myself from saying that about each one). It goes hand in hand with a positive attitude. Having gratitude makes us happier people and it makes those around us happier as well.
We weren’t meant to be solitary creatures. We need community. Often we need multiple communities. Family, friends, co-workers, religious, cultural, shared interest communities, it matters more that we find our people and build those relationships than who exactly makes up our community. Remember how life throws those curve balls? Well let me tell you, community matters. Not just to help you when you stumble, the real joy of community is when you are able to celebrate together. Life is a journey that is meant to be shared.
5. Sense of Humor
Because if you can’t laugh…well, what is the point? It doesn’t have to be the same, perhaps you like dry humor, slapstick, raunchy, witty. Who cares?! Just find laughter in life, try to make others smile, and strive to see the humor in everyday.
Life is an adventure and a challenge everyday. An obstacle, a fear, a “no”, those things shouldn’t stop you from, well anything. Imagine all the things you wouldn’t be able to do now had you not persevered. Walking, that was difficult to learn. Maybe you know another language or you have a highly specialized skill. It took me three hours to change my own oil the first time (it was so much easier once I realized I had to remove the skid plate), but I persevered and I am still silly proud of myself for being able to do that. Just keep at it, you never know what you will discover along the way.
7. Dreams & Goals
Without these, why get out of bed in the morning?! I used to hate in school when we would have to do goal worksheets. Not only did I think I didn’t know what my goals were, they seemed generic, bland, and contrived. When I did know what they were I was self conscious about sharing them. They were after all my dreams and my goals, no one else’s. Things have changed, ask me and I will gladly tell you all about my dreams and goals. They might be small; today I wanted to sweep the floor and wash my car (Brother and his family are coming to visit and I know he is a little particular about clean cars, it is supposed to rain tomorrow and we are going camping when he gets here, but hey its the gesture). Or they might be outrageous dreams. Did you know I would like to be dictator of the world? Dreams and goals give us a purpose and a direction. It is about picking a destination, or at least a highway, dreams and goals get the journey moving out of the garage.
8. Something to Believe In
I think it is important to have something to believe in. For me that something is religion, for other people maybe not. Maybe it is numbers, or science, or other people, or something I haven’t thought of. But I would argue that having something on the macro level to believe in makes us look beyond the micro and beyond ourselves. Too much time spent on the self doesn’t make this world a better place. And why be a part of it then? Believe in something greater than yourself.
I don’t love everyone, I don’t even like some people, but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be treated with compassion. We are in this together whether we want to be or not, so we might as well treat each other in a way that enriches our lives rather than takes away from it. Don’t get me wrong, there are toxic people who don’t deserve to be in our lives, and it is important to set boundaries, I just think we should strive to do it not with a hardened heart, but perhaps with compassion for ourselves too. The more compassionate we are to others, the happier we find ourselves. And I am pretty sure that happiness is contagious.
Being honest and moral are essential to being a person of good character. Again, thinking about the bigger picture, the macro level, this is important. How do we interact with those around us and how to we make the world better? Being someone with integrity.
We don’t get to pack very much in our ten essentials, I had so much more I wanted to add, but this is where I stop. What would you add if there was room for more? Would you leave anything off the list?
It happened so fast I think I am JUST now having it all sink in. The last time I posted, I had decided, but not aloud, that I was ready to have my own place. A few days after that, I mentioned it aloud. Within a week, I was filling out paperwork and getting keys. I didn’t expect it to happen so fast. But that is the thing I have noticed about this crazy journey, when it rains it pours, and then your new city floods….
I got my keys. I had a roll of toilet paper in my purse this time. The first time I rented an apartment in college, my roommate and I signed the papers and were going to run and get a few things and the store before we unloaded (I think our parents were an hour behind us with all our stuff…maybe…I don’t really remember), but first, as is typically with my tic-tac sized blatter, I wanted to make a pit stop. I walked in and realized, “Oh my gosh! I have to provide my own toilet paper now!” Silly, I know, but before this I had lived with my parents or in the dorms, so toilet paper was just always magically there. This time I was wiser. I was prepared. I brought my own roll. I borrowed an air mattress. I ran to store for a shower curtain. I got cereal, milk, and my coffee maker. I settled in for my first night.
It has been a week. I am still moving my stuff in and trying to furnish the place creatively (read: spending as little as possible). I have discovered the usefulness of Craig’s List. Up until now I only looked at it because I found the missed connections section interesting. I have obtained a few tools to help me with the things I have found on said useful site. Friends have loaned me furniture so there is a place to sit if you come to visit, but not if you and two of your friends come over, so bring a chair. It is kind of a BYO whatever at this point. Maybe one day soon I can offer you your own plate, just not today.
I think what feels so good about it is that I am really starting. I am on my own so to speak. I know I am never really on my own. I learned this lesson a million times over these past few years. I have amazing people in my life. Not just the people out west but the ones right here in town. Especially the ones who have helped me make this place home. And even though it hasn’t been a whole week and I am less than 8 miles away, I miss the No-Longer-Pregnant cousin and the My-Actual-Biological cousin and the Wee One. I will be eternally grateful to them. If they hadn’t opened their hearts and home to me, I doubt I would have loaded my car up and headed this way. They gave me a safe place to land and to start rebuilding. Rebuilding was exactly what I needed. Thank you guys.
Taking a job, getting my own place. Those feel like HUGE things for me at this point. They are major commitments for me. The kind I very much intentionally avoided for almost two years. I needed to take that time for myself. To wander wherever my spirit took me. It brought me here, and on a few other adventures along the way. I’ve learned that no matter what the paperwork says, no matter all our best intentions, it can change. It can change because you want or need it to. It can change and you have no control over it. All you do have control over is how you deal with it. So here I am, on this journey, starting out again and I couldn’t be more excited.
I recently started working with 3 year olds. This has been a new experience for me. Prior to this I was working with teenagers, teaching high school and middle school (the latter for a brief stint).
I’ve worked at the elementary school level and I worked at and ran a summer camp for kindergarten through 9th grade. My staff was made up of high school and college age kids. So when the opportunity to teach an age I have the credentials to teach but have never tried, came up I was excited for the new challenge. It has been a about two weeks and I can already tell you I am tired. Tired and happy. I have also made one important observation.
Kids know how to keep it real. We adults could learn a lesson or two from them.
1. When you want to end things with someone, just tell them.
“I just need you to give me my own space right now.”
2. When someone ends things with you, bow out with grace and dignity.
“Okay, I will play something else.”
3. Being clear about your feelings.
“Look I am not mad at you, you just don’t know things, but I am going to give you a chance.”
4. Know what other people like, and how to entice them to hang out with you.
“We should have a dance party. Maybe if we get the cars and a fish the boys will come too.”
I feel like I should tell you the ratio of boys to girls is 14:4.
5. Don’t be afraid to tell people how you feel.
“Aimee, I don’t really like you. Sorry.”
“Me and him are best friends.” “Yeah, I’m the husband.”
“I love you so much, will you be my teacher forever?”
“I am just so done with this. It is time for something else.”
6. Finally, don’t be ashamed to admit your shortcomings.
“Do you want to add a propellor to your airplane?” “No, I can’t. I am not a doctor.”
I am looking forward to finding out what other life lessons these little ones might teach me over the course of the year.