Pass the popcorn ― how to have more fun

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It’s crazy, waiting for the universe to knock on the door and offer fulfilment on a platter.  ― Shannyn Steel

If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that nobody is here forever. You have to live for the moment, each and every day . . . the here, the now.”    ― Simone Elkeles

I’ve been marking time. Waiting for something to happen. Waiting for something to change. Waiting to find the thing that would propel me into the joyful, purposeful life I’d hoped for. Toward the end of last year the penny dropped and I suddenly understood what I already knew but wasn’t able to acknowledge. It’s crazy waiting for the universe to knock on the door and offer fulfilment on a platter.

After all that waiting I’ve finally twigged that the trick to this whole fulfilment thing is to get out there and do stuff that I want more of in life. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

A startling discovery, made as a result of this brain wave, is that the one thing I want more of in my life right now is not time, not spiritual connection, not more authentic relationships, though that would be nice too. What I want more of in my life right now is fun. Yes, fun. Now don’t get me wrong. My life is not devoid of enjoyment. There are plenty of things that bring me joy; spotting a flower dewy with raindrops; the smell, texture and colour of soggy leaves on the forest floor after a thunderstorm; the smell of freshly cut grass and the sound of kookaburras laughing from the great pine tree in my neighbour’s yard. Those things and more fill me with joy. I also have many pleasant ways to pass the time that would constitute enjoyment too. Long strolls on the beach, reclining with a good book, baking a batch of cookies for my beloved’s lunch. Those things are enjoyable to me. What I’m after is in a whole different category.

Fun to me is more outrageous than enjoyment. It’s buzzy and exciting and perhaps more “in the moment” rather than a slow burn. Do you see the difference?

I have begun gathering a list of big fun and little fun activities in earnest.  Big fun activities are those that may cost a bit of money and require a little planning like indoor skydiving, parasailing, swinging on a trapeze. Little fun is something that could be undertaken on the spur of the moment, is relatively inexpensive and something that could raise the fun factor on any given day. Such as jumping on a swing in the local park and throwing your head back to drink in the sky.

Maybe you’d like to do the same. As ideas come to mind they could be written on a piece of paper, thrown into a big bowl with the intention of pulling an idea from the ‘popcorn’ bowl to infuse life with fun.  I’m going to experience ‘popcorn’ fun weekly and plan big fun, depending on the scale of it, monthly or quarterly. Oh, and I am going to scheduled those big fun activities to give me something to look forward to and to ensure having more  fun becomes a reality rather than a hope, wish or a dream.

Here are some popcorn fun ideas my friend Margaret, a kid at heart who  hasn’t lost sight of how much fun life can be, shared with me to start filling the bowl. I hope you get some ideas to add to your list.

Build a sandcastle or mermaid on the beach.
Water pistol shooting
Play SNAP (the card game)
Bubble blowing
Slide on a flying fox
Chew bubble gum and pop it.
Watch a funny cartoon
Singing in the shower
Dancing nude under the moon
Walk barefooted to the park
Feed the birds
Read Dr Seuss aloud
Pull weird faces and take pictures to replay
Walk on stilts
Dress up as a chicken
Three legged race
Sand dune sliding on cardboard

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Feed and grow your own magic

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”  Melody Beattie

I’ve been thinking lately of how, when one passes away and leaves the earth, our footprint, our stamp on the earth, lasts for a time but is eventually worn smooth as those who love you also pass.   I’ve been thinking too of that moment in time when your voice and your stories are no longer heard and when your image in a photograph is no longer recognised by its viewers. I’m not sure exactly when that occurs and I’m sure it’s different for everyone but it’s been very strongly in my thoughts as I think about my grandparents and loved ones who have passed.  For me, I still feel them strongly.  I hear their voices still and I speak of them often.  But when I go, when my son no longer tells his children of my grandparents, what then? It’s like your echo stops rebounding and there is a silence, a stillness where you once were.

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On a pre-dawn walk, along a magical piece of coastline in Brisbane, just a few days ago I decided, not that I want my echo to last and last, but that I want the echo of places I’ve been, people I’ve spent time with, stuff I’ve done and achieved to echo within me for the rest of my days. A thought, that I guess was always there, bubbled and rose into a solid and conscious knowing and a conviction that I wanted to create moments of joy for myself that would sustain me, nourish me and fulfill me. I want to feel joyous anticipation for life and I want to truly cherish those moments, right now in the present and for years to come.

Often times I catch myself sitting at home and thinking, “Gosh, I should be out doing something. I’m wasting my life”. I’m convinced, on those occasions, that no one has a less interesting life than I.  Then, I think how silly that is. Life doesn’t have to be lived at break neck speed or be jam packed with adrenaline fuelled exploits. Sometimes it’s those quiet moments with a book and a cup of tea that are the most joyful. I can’t tell you how much I treasure the conversations I’ve had with my nana sitting at her kitchen table.  No pomp or ceremony, just us. Just love.

So, as the morning of a new year dawned and as I was enjoying the smell of the ocean bought to me on a gentle breeze I was  drawn to reflect on the year that had been and how the echo of that year affected me.  You know, there were some tough times and dark moments but by golly I wouldn’t write that year off for anything. Dotted throughout, and despite the dull and the dreadful, there were many, and I mean many, small, glimmering moments splattered throughout the year that made the whole bright and colourful and something to be appreciated.

I’m all for spontaneity and living in the moment but sometimes we need to plan our magic and our fun. Sounds technical and contrived doesn’t it? It’s not. Let me explain.

Last year, for the first time in many many years, I set myself a few fun goals to reach. A love list if you will. I wanted to walk the Six Foot Track ( a three-day hike in the Blue mountains), I wanted to go pistol shooting at a range and to see the turtles laying at Mon Repos beach.  I also decided to challenge myself to read  fifty books in the year and to take a photo a day and post it. I wasn’t sure if I would indeed complete these goals and the others on my list but it gave me something to work toward, it gave me a way to make life fun.

I’m proud to report that I actually finished 56 books. Their themes were many and varied. Some were fiction, others not. A few were plays. Many were purchased secondhand from op shops and charity bookstores, some were electronic downloads and a few were gifts.  As I look back over the list of titles I realise I was filled up by the wonder of words. I am still moved by them. I was sated by the magic and wisdom of their authors in bringing me these precious tomes. The echo of these books is within me.

Another action I committed to that bought me great joy was to take a photo a day for the year.  I won’t win any awards with my snaps, all taken on my phone, but the process of taking a photo of something that intrigued me, caught my eye or tickled my fancy and sharing it with friends, via social media, was fun. Now, after sifting through the 365 photos, I am delighted to see my year in pictures. There are themes that reflect my preferences and personality  and some images take me back to places I visited and special moments I enjoyed.  Snapping the beautiful, interesting and plain old quirky has become a habit and I find I’m still reaching to record my days.  Again, the echo and the imprint of those captured moments fills me with gratitude for my life.

A visual representation of some of my love list items for this year.

A visual representation of some of my love list items for this year.

This year I have again written a love list ( some of you might know it as a bucket list). Why? Because I want to fill my life with wonder and joy.  I want to remind myself that, while I might not be climbing Mt Everest or canoeing down the Amazon, while I’m not a famous or accomplished artist or an actor, or a public figure, that my life has meaning, that it’s special, that a life is made up of all the special, little moments as well as the once in a life time moments.  I want the echo of those moments to resonate in my heart, my mind and in my thoughts.  That echo will sustain me. It will motivate and inspire me.  And, thanks to a very thoughtful gift from my son, I plan to collect these moments of joy by recording them on little pieces of colourful and patterned paper and keeping them in a gratitude jar.  This time next year I will again be able to reflect on the magic of the year and be humbled and grateful for the majesty of life, my life.

My advice to myself this year is to – Feed and grow your own magic.

Happy New Year,
Shannyn