Monday, December 31, 2018

"Turn Off the Main": 2018, A Year in Review

I made a new friend recently, and we sat down for a couple of brewskies and some "Facelook" time. We got to talking about what we had learned in the past year, and I'm happy to say that most of the things we experienced, we could laugh about...and just a few we had to ask the bartender for "another". All in all, we were able to fill the little think clouds over our heads with some pretty good memories...and pop all of the others. That, and a few pints of Guinness...!

He told me a story about how when he was young; he learned a lot from his dad on how to fix things and, as a result, became a pretty good fix-it guy...handy with tools, good trouble-shooting skills, etc. He recalled one job in particular where he was working on a water pipe that had burst, and right when was pretty proud of himself about fixing the pipe, he thought he'd tighten it a bit more with "just one...more twist..." The part broke, and water went gushing everywhere, creating a worse problem than the one before. His father, calmly standing by and watching, said: "Well, did you think about turning off the main?"

Hooray for the teaching moments of life...and some things only need teaching once for the learning to sink in (no pun intended).

Believe me, I'm always looking for those application components of life. I readily admit that there are moments where I can SOOOooo get on overload and distracted, but one of the most important mottoes of my life has been: "Keep it simple and excellent. The more complicated you make it, the more you have to manage."

We could also add: "...and the more things can slip through the cracks and create more problems than the ones before."

So what did 2018 teach me? What did I learn? For me, it was a year of many adjustments, twists and tweaks, but I'm happy to report that I've been able to solve many problems because I remembered to "turn off the mains" and focus on the things that really matter:

My family and friends. My home. My job, my clients. My life. My thoughts and feelings. Choosing my path; deciding what to do and who I want to be. Some of these choices have required great sacrifice. But at the end of the year, I can look back with a brand new friend and honestly say it was a good year, raise the pint and say, "Here's to simple and excellent!"

These are some of the things I've learned in 2018:

- Utah drivers are the worst drivers I've ever known.
Once a month, I usually visit Ogden (Riverdale area) for some R&R...see my massage therapist, catch up on shopping at stores that aren't in Wyoming (Trader Joe's, Bed Bath & Beyond, Ross, etc.), catch a movie at a theater with reclining seats...get my fix for pho and Indian cuisine and other favorite restaurants.
   However, driving in Utah (every time I've gone) is a nightmare! Doesn't even matter what kind of vehicle they drive, they whiz past me at 15-20 mph over the speed limit, cut in front of me with absolutely no regard for what might be in their peripheral vision/blind spot...they tail you unmercifully, even in icy, snowy conditions. Accidents are usually very bad, and jam up the roads for hours.
   It's not even that I'm from a small Wyoming town! I've lived and commuted in San Jose, Sacramento and Nashville. I've driven through St. Louis, Lincoln, Denver, LA and San Diego, and I would still say SLC/Ogden is the worst ever.
   What have I learned? The back roads! 😉

Coffee that is consumed en masse (in one day) can be, like, the equivalent of freebasing crack.
The Roasters Rendezvous weekend (Sept 7-8) was EPIC for this coffee aficionado! Attending this wonderland with me? One of my HS girlfriends, Cheryl [Hubbard] Payton, and we had a blast! Literally. We wandered through the Farmer's Market downtown in front of Bar 10, where they served coffee-infused adult drinks. The next day was the actual sampling of coffees and workshops. It was, like, a Disneyland for rural coffee drinkers. I can't wait until next year. If you wanted to and didn't make it, come on up and make a weekend of it here in Riverton, WY in 2019! Hell, I may just do another open house just for some of the roasters!

When road-tripping...always stop if your gut tells you to.
I've taken several trips in, out, around and through the state this year, and sometimes I would see something, do a double-take...and wanted to stop. I should've stopped...but didn't. I've learned to take that exit...capture that sunrise/sunset photo, check out those tourist traps, stop at that old diner, take that road less traveled.
   This year, I'm gonna make it more about the journey than the destination. I have so many friends to thank for taking me to places I never even knew about...and had enough energy to catch up with me and my road trip spontaneity!
   Have Prius, will travel!
The Grand Tetons

Stream near Dubois

Sinks Canyon, above Lander, WY
It's the little things...that are the BIG things!
The smell of fresh ground coffee brewing in the morning, and that very first sip! Wasabi peas. Bubble baths after a long day. The perfect margarita. Your favorite songs on your playlist. Watching a summer sun set with a cold beer or wine cooler. A game of pool with old vinyls playing in the background. Family/high school reunions.
   Growing a garden. Cooking up some new recipes and getting your "kitchen witch" on! Dancing at a pow wow and sharing an Indian taco. A Sunday drive through the Wind River Canyon.
   Blowing bubbles. Chocolate-dipped candied ginger. Buying an ice cream cone in Farson. Playing vintage music on the piano...listening to vintage music!
   Pop popcorn and binge-watch my favorite shows. Finding a bird's nest in your breaker box. Listening to the horses neigh, the coyotes howl, the owls hoot and the hawks screech...
   Chatting with your best friend until late at night...or early into the morning...
   Saying or doing something nice for someone. Thanking someone for saying or doing something nice for you.

Ignoring and letting go of certain "nouns" (people, places and things) has been a great move towards inner peace.
I have rid myself of the noise of greed, jealousy, hypocrisy and, well...folks just being downright mean, wanting nothing to do with me. That's okay. In fact, it's more than okay, because that saves me a lot of "trouble with the mains".
My philosophy of life is very simple: Be good. Be nice. Be strong.
Be good. We know what it means to be a good person. If you choose to be bad, I'm going to avoid you. Doesn't mean I judge you; it simply means I have nothing in common with you. Everyone knows what it means to be good...even if you've been through a lot of bad. Don't make it an excuse.
Be nice. How difficult is it to choose to just be nice?! I could be nice...or I could be an asshole. You treat me like crap, I could respond with just as much crap. But why? What's your end game in being the asshole, in being known as an asshole?
   Suck it up. Take the higher road. Or better yet, get eye level and say, "Hey, I see you, I get you. I've been there, too." Because, really...we've all been there. Everyone has a story. You might be surprised how close your story is to the life you're judging. So be nice. You may be looking into a mirror...
Be strong. We have ALL been through SOME kind of shit! We all have our battle wounds and scars. They've shaped us, formed us...hell, they may have even defined us, to a point. But they can make you bitter or better. Remember to "shut off the main". If the past or present is what's dominating your mind and soul (no matter what or how you believe), or is consuming you...let it go. Focus on you, and how you want to be...not how others want you to be. Politically, socially, spiritually...ALL aspects of life. Rid yourself of all of the marketing schemes, the motivational speakers, the preachers from the pulpits. You know what is good, nice and right...even if you found out that what is good, nice and right was through the wrong means. Your own timeline and life lived is what will make you strong.

And good. And nice. And that is my hope for all of you in 2019. That we will be good and nice and strong. That we will not accept bad as good. That we will think with our own minds and not what is media-marketed to us.

Because when I sat with a new friend this weekend, thinking about the past, present and future, I also thought about the path that I've recently forged for myself. It's not the "main"...

It's a new path, is a good one.

Happy New Year, everyone!

- Carol [Starks] Harper

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