Friday, April 25, 2014

I was Afraid I'd Be Bored..

I've never really considered myself a big city girl.  And while I love my boots and big hair, I've never shown an animal or driven a tractor, so I don't consider myself a total farm girl either.  I'm not high-maintenance but I do take extreme care of my outward appearance.  I am easily entertained and although I am an extreme extrovert, I don't need other people to have a good time.  I have always thought that my hobbies are some of the greatest things in my life.  They entertain, challenge and occupy in ways that friends, family and technology can not.

For the years I have lived on my own I never purchased cable TV or satellite.  In fact, unless a roommate force-recommended I sit down and watch a movie with them, I rarely did even that.  I've always felt sluggish and wasteful sitting in front of a plastic screen.

When I was growing up, my mother's favorite response to her children's boredom was, "You're only bored if you choose to be bored."

While I assume I directly took this phrase to heart, I also wonder sometimes if perhaps I have an irrational phobia... "The Fear of Being Bored."

I googled the phrase a couple of times and found nothing, yet I'm not convinced it isn't out there somewhere.  I've noticed that even when I do have plans with someone or something, I almost always have a back-up plan in the back of my head.  For instance, if Julie and I make plans Friday night to get ice cream and go out to a movie in a nearby town, I immediately make "just in case" plans in my head that would include meeting a separate circle of friends at a restaurant across town.  And I guess it goes into 3rd and 4ths sometimes too.  Like, "if all else fails I will finish my book that evening."

In fact, it didn't occur to me that this might be abnormal until I was planning out my weekends from January-March when I realized that on January 15, there is a very small percentage of people who care what they are doing on the weekend of March 22.  I guess I have always wanted to make the most out of life.  I'd hate to look back and realize I sat at home watching TV all weekend when I could have been at a rodeo 15 miles away.  There is always something to do.  Events are always happening and friends are always nearby.  As if that weren't enough, I am one of the lucky few to have a packed family schedule as well.  Between birthdays and holidays I find that I sometimes have to purposely break away in order to get any other socializing done. 

When I moved back to my humble hometown a few months ago, I was severely worried about one thing.  In fact it may have been the only thing that worried me.  In a town that size with that little to offer young people, what will I ever do with myself?  I'll be bored to tears after the first month---and I'm an optimist! 
Little did I know how wrong I was.  Since moving back to Frederick I have crossed an unbelievable amount of things off of my bucket-list.  Some of these have involved traveling while several were accomplished inside city limits!

In January I helped plan and execute a fairly large event.  I sat next to a keynote speaker at a head table and designed a program brochure.  I also participated in my first art show and gave a presentation at a local civic group meeting.

By February I was voted on a regional board for tourism, organizing and directing a craft show, and making all sorts of fabulous discoveries about people who craft for a living.  I bought a fondue set (a bucket list item,) as well as a dreamcatcher (another bucket item.)  I also shook the governor's hand and sold my first print as an artist!

In March I took two trips that I had aimed at completing this year.  First Lubbock to visit one of my favorite artist's galleries--Tornado Alley--then to Santa Fe, New Mexico to snowboard and purchase a fabulous print from a local artist down there.  (Turns out he was originally from Southwest Oklahoma!)  Of course, my favorite stop was Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo.

Although I didn't have a Spring Break, I found myself lingering through Medicine Park, climbing Mount Scott and rediscovering the old Volkswagen bug that inspired one of my favorite paintings.  I also watched my mother and 4 other very talented women perform in a grand old theatre that has been around since 1929.

This month I have seen a very popular Red Dirt band in a nearby town, participated in a Fun Run, shot a bow and arrow as well as a shotgun, and experienced "gooseknocking" for the first time.  A woman who has a coliseum named after her came and spoke to my hometown, I visited the most captivating of farms, one of lavender, and saw all of my favorite friends come home for Easter Sunday.

While it's true that several of these events were outside of the specified city limits, it is also true that besides the Lubbock and Santa Fe trips, everything else took place in Southwest Oklahoma--with a majority of it being inside Frederick, Oklahoma.

This all hit me the other day when I realized how wrong I was about not wanting to move back for fear of boredom.  In fact, in the last two weeks I participated in a wine and palette type event (which I wanted to do for years when I was in the city,) and took a nutritious cooking class.  I have also joined a bootcamp (another bucketlist ticket) and started running again.  All four of these things happened in Frederick, Oklahoma!

Moving to rural Oklahoma initially had me mourning the loss of a community Hobby Lobby, fortunately I found a small mom and pop called Thayer Rags, located less than 1 block from my office.  With less than $10 I designed my own dreamcatcher and found a great place to buy biker do-rags at!

And since I'm not wasting all my time driving back and forth through city traffic, I have found myself playing golf twice as much as I ever did living on my own.  The shortage of young people has forced me to play with all sorts of interesting folk I probably wouldn't have played with otherwise.

Of course there will always be the small pleasures that give me euphoria.  I had a down period when I realized Goodwill was an hour away and so was my favorite used bookstore.  The very next day I walked into Trendy Thrift (next door to my office) and learned they gladly welcomed donations.  I then stumbled into the local library for business reasons, only to find my favorite author and a plethora of her writings smiling back at me on a shelf with my name on it.  Not only that--but they still had my library card from who knows when--when I was much smaller and could easily be caught walking and reading a book at the same time.

All this to say--SHAME ON US FOR SHAMING SMALL TOWNS.  As much as I am gung-ho for promoting local businesses and thriving on rural America, I admit it has taken me a while to find my big-city alternatives.  (Fortunately, I'm not a Starbucks fan.)  It does make me wonder though, do all of our citizens utilize these local outlets, or are they still driving out of town for the so-called "fabulous finds" that just so happen to be in the gift shop around the corner.

Is wasting gas still worth it for the over-processed chain restaurant meal, or could we just as easily be satisfied--no, MORE satisfied--if we opened our eyes to the local restaurant down the street that has a Thursday night Steak Special (who knew!)

Small Town, America is great for many reasons, and with the rise of trends like "vintage," "organic," and "hand-made," I believe now is a greater time than ever to capitalize on what we do have rather than what we don't.  

Who wants to drive out of town to support a corporate giant with mega problems when they can walk 200 yards and invest their money in a couple/friend's financial stability?

Most importantly--we must stop making up excuses for not being good enough or exciting enough for young people.  The fear of being bored in a small town is completely irrational!

You're only bored if you choose to be bored.

That phrase has withstood the change of time.  Meditate on the wisdom of that when you are tempted to belly-ache about the lack of movie theatres in your hometown.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Silver Girl: Book Review

Elin Hilderbrand has been one of my favorite authors for about a year now.  Her stories are often set at on Nantucket beach and her characters are always relatable and interesting.  In fact, Hilderbrand is one of the only fiction authors I have ever found interest in.  Last summer when I was working at a used book store I ran across her novel Summer People.  I shocked myself by selecting a fiction, but quickly fell head over heels for the book.  I wouldn't put it down until it was finished.

Hilderbrand's stories are perfect for warmer weather.  In fact they are responsible for a lot of my beachy daydreams.  I always feel like I'm on vacation when I am reading about the lives of her coastal characters.

Two weeks ago I found "Silver Girl" on the shelf at my local library.   Because I love Hilderbrand I knew it would be good.  Indeed I was right, it was another read I could not put down.

Silver Girl is the story of two women who have been best friends since birth, essentially.  The story starts when they are both in their fifties and encountering some very rough times.  Through scandal, death, separation and humility, the two women lean on one another and support each other's weaknesses.

Meredith and Connie go through so much throughout the book.  The novel depicts a true picture of love, forgiveness and friendship.  Though men may come and go, the friendship between women has power to stick forever.

It took me a while to understand the meaning of the title, but once I did the story was that much deeper.  There were so many hidden themes and messages that I wish I had someone to sit with me and pull these things out.

Though much of the story is wrapped in devastation and disappointment, it is hope that keeps the characters alive and joyful.  Sometimes we need to read about other people's lives so we can better appreciate and understand our own.

 Although this is a spoiler alert, I am going to bring up the tiny detail that Meredith had a wonderful relationship with her father.  His love for her gave her confidence to conquer life head-on.  As I found myself mesmerized with the story of her father, I couldn't help but be deeply reminded of the love of my own father and how I often times take that for granted.  This of course, I believe was a bigger picture of the father's love for us.  Even in our lowest hours, he is always there with us and he never leaves.

There is also a pressing importance on healing and finding strength within yourself.  At the very end of the book we see tough and strong Meredith break down into sweet vulnerability with herself.  She spent enough alone time with herself that she finally felt confident in letting down her pride and fully feeling the emotions she had experienced.

Alone time is such an important part of the self-growth process.  I feel that when I am home alone or living by myself I seem to grow twice as fast.  I challenge myself with activities I wouldn't do around others, and I am always finding new ways to entertain myself without depending on others.  The reflection and meditation one finds inside themselves is full of restoration qualities, plus the more a person fills themselves up with the presence of God alone, the more easily they can pour out love and affection towards others.  It's a win-win cycle.

Overall I learned a few lessons from Silver Girl,  and I felt many emotions that caused me to see things more clearly in my own life.

I highly recommend this book as a relaxing summer read to bring you sympathy, joy and forgiveness.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It's About Love

Dear, sweet, child--never forget that you are loved.  Don't forget you are wanted, sought after and valued.  The God of all the universe designed you intricately and lives to watch you bloom.  He poured his heart into your creation and his eyes never leave your delicate face.  Sweetheart, you are perfect just the way you are.  You don't need affirmation from friends, media or boys.  The great affirmer has called your heart wonderful.  You mustn't fret when the attention withers, but rejoice in the companionship of the Lord.

The Lord who loves you sent himself in human form to prove this to you.  He's showing off so that you will notice the depth of his love for you.  Jesus stretched his arms far and wide and he thought of you when he said, "Sweet child, come home.  Run into these arms of mine and rest in my love.  I need you to need me.  I want you to want me.  It hurts me when you turn away, but all the while I have never stopped loving you and I never will.  You are my precious child and I desire to show you more of my passion for you and all the earth.  Come near to me and I will never forsake you."

It's the love of the father that changes lives.  It's the power in his whisper and the undeniable strength in his voice.  Easter pageants aren't the cure.  10am isn't the magical time.  I cannot help you.  Only Jesus.  Jesus is love and love endures all things.  Love never fails.

Love him.  He first loved you.

Love him.  He will never leave you.

Love him, because you need something constant in this life and the next.

Love him so you can be full of life and vigor and meaning.  Everything else is just a chasing after the wind.  Sadly, even your success and degrees and fortune cannot go with you when you leave this world.  Only your soul and what you left behind in the lives of others.

Live a life of love.  Love the Lord your God with your total heart, soul and mind.  Then turn around and pour that love into other people.  Those are our two commandments, the ones that speak truth and shatter lies.
Love. endures. all. things.

Christ is risen, and he is alive.  Easter Sunday is about the remarkable love he showed for us then, and now and continues to show us.

It's about love.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bud & Me: Book Review

Why hello there!  It has been a while since I've sat down at the old typewriter.  It's actually a tad rusty.
Though I will have more intriguing content soon, today I am going to be filling you in on a fabulous book I've just finished.

"Bud & Me", by Alta Abernathy is not a New York Time's Best Seller.  It's not a widely-known book, but perhaps it should be--especially in Southwest Oklahoma.  Bud & Me is the fascinating story of two boys from Frederick, Oklahoma.  Bud and Temple are 9 and 5 when they go on their first of six adventures.  Their first adventure leads them from rural southwest Oklahoma to Santa Fe, New Mexico on horseback in the year 1909.

Their are several crazy things about this story.  First, these little boys were barely old enough to multiply numbers, much less take care of each other in the desserts of New Mexico alone.  Also, much of the U.S. was unsettled in the year 1909.  This was the times of cowboys and indians and outlaws--not the safest terrain for young boys.

Despite the odds these young men went on journey after journey all across the United States in all different forms of transportation--all in the name of adventure!

Though I am definitely not a history buff, I found this book fascinating.  The whole time I was reading it I was giggling, gasping and jumping out of my chair.  The book really captures the heart of adventure in an interesting, funny and historically accurate way.  By the time I finished the book I was ready to plan a road trip across the country with whoever was willing.

I think the theme of the book is to forget fear and go after the journey for the fun of it.

The book is a very quick read; only containing 7 chapters.  Temple tells the stories from his 5-9 year-old point of view, yet he is around 80 when he is recalling these memories.

In Frederick we have an Abernathy Boys celebration in June, and a museum exhibit in honor of these boys.  We also have a nice bronze (?) statue of the boys on our courthouse lawn.  I grew up hearing about the boys, but it was the book that really made it real to me.  These youngsters were legitimate celebrities from the 1900's--and they were more courageous than any young boys I have ever known.

Although the Abernathy Boys are a huge stake for Frederick, Oklahoma--I still feel this is a great book for anyone to read, more specifically 20-somethings.  We read BuzzFeed and EliteDaily all the time.  Articles tell us to fulfill our bucketlist and make memories while we are young and wild and free.  I thought I was doing a pretty good job of this, but Bud & Me puts the word "adventure" in a whole new category for me.  They face their fears and tough the roughest before they are old enough to obtain a driver's license.  Bud and Temple make me feel like I have a whole lot of catching up to do if I want to live the adventurous life in similar fashion.

Amazon sells the book for $20 new and the Frederick Chamber office sells it for $22.  That's not a bad price for the story you are getting out of this deal.  Take a chance on Bud & Me, you won't be disappointed!
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