high school just got simpler

Friday, December 31, 2010

Resolutions: Why They Do and Don't Work

Happy New Year! Colorful Bubbly for You!

 "Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us." ~Hal Borland

Winter break is coming to a close for most high schools. Once back in school, everyone will probably talk about their New Year's resolution.

Resolutions are common, and even a tradition. Everyone makes at least one.

Resolutions can work for many reasons:
  • It can motivate you to become better.
  • Resolutions help clear out past mistakes, and will create a fresh start.
  • You can complete your resolutions with other people, and help keep each other on track.
That's a short list. I couldn't quite think of other reasons to make a resolution.

Even though I love having that spark of enthusiasm in the beginning of the year, I am not making a resolution. In the past, I have usually forgotten about it by April.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review 2010

The other day, I decided that I needed to reflect on the year. 2010 is coming to a close, and I've done some pretty important things.

A short list of what I've done:
  • Fully recovered from my spinal fusion surgery. I have scoliosis, and in October 2009, I had to get some of my vertebrae fused together, and got two metal rods inserted along my spine. After a year of restrictions, I am now fully recovered.
  • Cut out a lot of my commitments. I feel so much better now that I am not spending time and energy doing things that I don't enjoy.
  • Got back into rock climbing. One restriction I had from my spinal fusion surgery was not being able to climb. I am able to climb again, and I love it!
  • Started this blog! With over 500 views so far, and with only existing for less than two months, who knows how far this blog will get in the whole year of 2011.
  • Started a twitter. It's a great way to socialize and get information out.
  • Started a tumblr blog. I started it for my own personal use and documentation.
2010 was full of other accomplishments, and I know 2011 will be too!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Last Minute Christmas

Christmas has to be one of my favorite holidays. It is getting closer, and many people wait until the last minute. That's understandable, since there is so much going on: shopping, snow, fun, and parties. 

But there is a downside to this almost perfect season:
  • Commercials about buying, sales, and so much stuff that no one needs.
  • Getting things you don't need, or really even want for that matter.
  • Waste.There is so much trash during Christmas. Trying to get rid of clutter isn't easy during Christmas, with wrapping paper, decorations, and packaging.
  • Focusing on getting presents. What happened to giving?
  • The less fortunate. When you are chowing away on cookies, or playing with a new gadget, remember that there are millions of people who are struggling to make ends meet this holiday season.
I recently went on an outreach trip with my church to an area that is struggling with food. Seeing the people reactions to a simple bag of groceries has opened my eyes to the true meaning of Christmas. Giving your time and love is a much better gift than anything that can be bought. We focus so much on buying and buying and buying, that we forget why we are purchasing things in the first place. Seeing the joy in someone's eyes when they know you thought about them is something that can't be bought. 

I spent a weekend sorting, packaging, and handing out food to hundreds of families. So instead of going to the store at the "last minute" this year to buy that present, go donate your time, or money, to those who truly need it.

Need help getting started? Here are some ideas:
  • Help out at a food pantry. Pantries are incredibly busy this time of the year, especially since it is so cold.
  • Take a friend to the zoo, instead of buying something. The local zoo in my area has thousands of decorations for Christmas, which would brighten up anyone's Christmas.
  • Shovel someone's driveway. This simple act can really help out this winter, especially if you ask for nothing in return.
  • Getting clothes for Christmas? Then donate your old clothes to Goodwill or a used clothing outlet.
There is still time to help. Volunteer, donate, or simply enjoy this season with someone else who needs it.
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Simple Living: Part 3

Commitments: we all have them. They eat away at our days, weeks, even free time. Most of the time, there isn't any particular reason you are involved. That "spark" is gone, and you have no interest anymore. 

A couple things come to my mind when I hear about this. Either quit, or get enthusiastic

I recently edited a lot of my commitments. Not only did I free up my time, I got myself more motivated in my other commitments. Now that I have more time on my hands, I can use it to either work on my goals or my hobbies.

"Simplifying my life" like this has opened my eyes. Here's what I recommend you do:

Make a list of all your commitments. Create categories (work, school, sports, hobbies, etc).
  • Work: all those hours you need to log can add up.
  • School: do I need to say this? Homework, projects, and so forth. And you can't get rid of this commitment!
  • Religious: a lot of people are involved with churches, or maybe you go to a service weekly.
  • Hobbies: you might run, or play an instrument. Guess what? That's a commitment too.
  • Home: besides all the regular family things, you have the stuff that needs to be done at home.
  • Online: There are so many things that glue your eyes to the computer: email, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google, blogs, and etc. Limit your time on each. It will help. No need to check every ten minutes. (It will be there later, don't worry!)
Ask yourself: What value am I getting out of this? Would my life be worse without it? Does this affect any of my goals? Is it a life priority? Try to limit only a few in each category when you are done.
This can get deep, and challenging.

Try to cut them out temporarily. See how you are after a week of edits. If you like what you're seeing, cut out more. You may feel guilty, but if it isn't helping you get to what you want, why stay?

Remember that it's what is important to you when other people try to pressure you into something. Don't fall into a hole you can't get out of.

Doing this personally has been life changing. I am now only focusing on certain things. My calendar isn't flooded with meetings, appointments, and such. I am able to work on goals, hobbies, and being with friends and family. You will be thankful for simplifying your commitments, I sure am.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Go With the Flow

Rock Garden On The River

There are so many things in life that we cannot control. These things can cause us frustration, stress, and anger. The best way to let ourselves not be affected by uncontrollable scenarios is to learn to go with the flow.

Your day can be going as smooth as ever, but the tiniest thing that happens can ruin it. Life has its twists and turns, and they can frustrate you. You get angry, rush through things, and the change of what normally happens creates stress.

If you go with the flow of life, it will become easier. Take what life throws at you. Instead of being irrational and getting mad, go with the flow. Accept the change, whether its temporary or permanent, and create the best of what happens.

Everyone has their own life. Other people's choices can affect yours. Instead of getting angry, do something constructive about it. You can influence a lot, but many things are just uncontrollable. 

Remember to breathe, and to laugh. Looking at life calmly and with a positive attitude helps when you get something thrown your way. Enjoy the flow of life and accept change.
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Simple Living: Part 2

I've made great progress so far with living simply.

My Venturing Crew has just merged with another. I chose to not rejoin, providing me with more time. The Crew wasn't currently doing anything productive, just wasting my time. But I do not regret being involved. I learned great skills, and it gave me wonderful opportunities. Now I can plan to do more high adventure things without the limits of other people.

Last week, I did a little experiment. I went the entire week wearing only two pairs of jeans, a fleece jacket, and plain, simple shirts. It was so much easier to pick out clothes to wear that day, because I could match anything with jeans. I am planning on going through and removing all the clothes I don't ever wear now.

My school has a separate line for snacks, junk food, and drinks. I have been phasing out buying these foods at school, and I have never felt healthier. I am still buying fries at lunch, which is a problem. Getting rid of fries is my next goal regarding food.

My room has stayed "clean" now for about a week and a half. I am decluttering my room, and I'm loving it. I know where everything is, and I don't have to worry about losing anything again. My friend came over unexpectedly last night, and I wasn't ashamed to bring him into my room. I am currently working on my bookcase, which is a nightmare!

Overall, my goal to live simply is going well. I am seeing more things now that I can change. The process is long, but very enjoyable. It's given me motivation to do more things. Both the outcome and the process are worth it.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


You have probably been enthusiastic about something before. Used the right way, it can drive you to do amazing things.

An old quote that I like to live by is "Be the most enthusiastic person you know." If you go into something with a good attitude, good will come from it. Likewise, if you start something with the mindset of "This is going to suck," then it probably will.  

If you try to have fun, you most likely will! Get passionate about whatever it is you are doing. Whether it's volunteering at a food pantry, or doing chores. Make it fun and enjoyable. It's amazing what can happen when you create an enthusiastic environment. Morale is lifted, and everyone else doing it will enjoy it too.

Enthusiastic people make things go smoothly. They are driven, and are the ones who accomplish their goals. Find something to get excited about, and use that to drive everything. 

Enthusiasm is contagious. So be the most enthusiastic person you know.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Keeping Faith

View of Mountains in Zion National Park, Utah,...

Having something to live for is very important to me. My faith is what I live for. It keeps me going. Having faith can mean going to church, or even just knowing that there will be a better tomorrow.

To me, having any kind of faith is essential to living a zen lifestyle. It gives me motivation. Living simply and having faith go hand in hand. The determination to live minimally and simply bring you that much closer to the world, the community, and yourself.

Faith to me is living for my friends, family, and loved ones. When I am faced with a challenge, I do it not only for betterment of myself, but for the betterment of others. 

Figuring out what you are living for is a personal journey. Using faith as a motivational tool, to me, is what keeping faith is all about. It's my backbone, and I wouldn't be here without it.
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