#38 Try Stand Up Comedy

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#38

Try Stand Up Comedy

I can only imagine how many people read this suggestion as a way to improve your life and laugh out loud because it may be the farthest thing from something that sounds fun. I suspect there are only two basic perspectives here…  one being that “there’s no way in hell I’d stand up and try to be funny because I’m not” or even if you think you could be funny… “there’s no way in hell I’d stand up in front of strangers”. And still… I stand by the recommendation.

Finding Funny

Everyone has a funny side or at the very least, comedic memories; stories of times when the absurdity of life found you belly laughing. The longer you’ve lived, the more you have to relate with. But, you don’t have to be on the older side if you are a good observer. There’s a lot of funny in the world and your ability to see it and describe it to other people is what makes good comedic material. In many of the basic struggles that we experience as humans, there is a humorous perspective. Some of the most famous comedians have been able to elaborate on the light side of everyday conflicts; relationships, work, raising children, proposals, traffic, etc.

Writing Funny

Where many of us lose the momentum is between writing the ideas and crafting the ‘script’ of the story. The website CreativeStandup.com offers some great advice about “understanding the principles of comedy” versus “applying rules and techniques”.  In some cases, it’s better to record yourself telling the tales and then have the recording transcribed and begin working from that point. In that way you are breaking the creative process into two distinct pieces but allowing the ‘material’ to flow naturally. There are several highly rated transcription services (apps) that are relatively inexpensive.

Presenting Funny

Once you have a few ideas and a routine you’re comfortable with, try an Open Mic night at a local comedy club. It’s a great way to face any fear of public speaking because people are ‘supposed to be laughing at you’. It’s a great night out with friends if everyone is participating and an awesome way to work on confidence and esteem.

You’ve heard the phrase ‘everyone’s a comic!’ – although notably it may have been a sarcastic expression at the time but there’s a little bit of truth in most sarcasm. Use this as fuel to recall some of your most memorable personal experiences, tell the story with as much absurdity as it can support, and …

Try stand up comedy.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#49 Do a Science Experiment

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#49

Do a Science Experiment

I know, when I think of this heading / topic, I immediately think of my refrigerator and all of the items that made their way into the far back; the things that are currently growing various forms of mold and each qualify as hazardous substances. They are unintentional science experiments and not the kind I am recommending you try.

As many people – especially your 7th grade science teacher – will tell you, science is cool. From observing and understanding magnetic properties and chemical reactions, basic scientific principles are interesting to observe and promote our sense of wonder and curiosity – two elements that contribute to feelings of happiness.

Some science experiments are magical. There are several here in this YOU TUBE video that will make you the most amazing aunt, uncle, grandma, pop pop, or parent in the world if you can pull them off. Most of them use household items and create rather magical effects – even though they are all the result of science happening.

If you don’t have a scientific background, I recommend that you stick to those things that you can find in books or online. Attempting to mix chemicals without knowledge of their interaction can be very dangerous and there are more than one news reports of people killing themselves because the lit something or mixed something that shouldn’t have been.

Whether you get a book or go online, there are hundreds of experiments that you can do to satisfy your curiosity or perform magic at the next family party. All you have to do is gather a few supplies and practice. Grab a friend, a kid, or a neighbor and surprise them as you…

Do a science experiment.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#57 Visit a Zoo

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#57

Visit a Zoo

I was able to walk through the Central Park Zoo on a warm spring day last year and really loved being there. The last Zoo I had visited was when the kids were young and we had an annual pass to the Philadelphia Zoo which, after falling in love with the San Diego Zoo… was a disappointment. We bought the annual passes because I am a big believer in educating children about animals, especially those that aren’t house pets.

Controversy

Zoo’s have had a difficult time in recent years. There was a lot of publicity about the mistreatment of animals, poor conditions, and lack of funding for several zoos across the country – leading a lot of people to abandon the idea of visiting animals there. It was a difficult decision to support an endeavor that wasn’t meeting minimum standards versus being there to send loving energy their way and introducing a younger generation to the benefits of saving endangered species.

Benefits

When a zoo is managed and funded efficiently, it offers a plethora of benefits both to the animals there and to the surrounding society.

Zoos connect animals to people in a way that is no longer viable in most urban cultures. We simply don’t get the opportunity to see Buffalo, Elk, or Giraffes running across our sight line. Indeed, we barely see turtles and fox unless you live close to farms and water. Visiting a zoo offers you an opportunity to experience this life form no matter your environment.

Zoos fight against wildlife extinction. They are staffed by professionals committed to the survival and propagation of species. They often collaborate with one another to solve urbanization issues that prevent the animals from organically sustaining their population.

Zoos educate the public and seek to attract benefactors that are committed to helping and sponsoring continued advocacy. The inspire children, teach differences, and motivate respect for animals in general.

Time spent

Of course, spending time at a zoo is a great family activity. There are usually wonderful programs to take advantage of and it just nice to stroll through the property to see something new and different than before. Being in a zoo can be a ‘getting back to nature’ in an odd sort of way; there’s always a little dichotomy to this as you walk from one kind of habitat to another. It may challenge your senses.

Being in a zoo as a single individual may offer you some great ‘me time’… time away from civilization but inside the energy of living beings. It can provide an opportunity to sit back and savor the simplicity of a lions walk across the stone or to observe the complicated maneuvers of barn swallows as they nest in the rafters of an Avian center.

Modern Energy

After the horrific zoo experiences identified in the past, I believe we’ve come to a better place and the zoo’s of America are a thoughtful, instructional, and compassionate playground for animals that people get to enjoy. If you haven’t been in a while, go ahead and treat yourself – if not your entire family and …

Visit a Zoo.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

 

#58 Build a Sandcastle

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#58

Build a Sandcastle

Hopefully, it’s not 30 degrees where you are currently… making this suggestion sound utterly ridiculous and unattainable for several months. If it’s a bit warmer, it may actually be the perfect time to try this happiness tip because the beaches are probably mostly deserted and/or there’s bound to be a sandbox that could use a little TLC this time of year.

Why?

Building a sandcastle may be an activity that epitomizes childhood. We don’t seem to care how many crooks and crevices get filled with sand when we are children and believe it or not – it works our brain.

Cooperation

Most of us don’t build sandcastles alone. When we enlist the help of others, we are automatically thrown into the task of cooperation. It’s a great way for children to learn how to cooperate and for others to delegate. It’s a useful opportunity for a group of people to see how individual efforts contribute to a bigger project and outcome.

Creativity

It may be obvious that building a sandcastle employs a certain level of creativity. Most of us have not studied castle structure or architecture and so we are building based on memory of books and television; maybe even solely from our imagination. We have the opportunity to design anything that we fancy and so it’s a great outlet for creativity.

Spatial Skill

It’s a time when dimension, volume, and depth become important to the overall task. It forces us incorporate vision and make adjustments for scale – at least a little. Our brains will naturally attempt to make modifications when an element is too distorted and so it is good practice for spatial awareness.

Sensory and Motor Skill

Working in the sand engages your brain in a couple of other interesting ways. Our senses are often intrigued with the juxtaposition of water and sand and even more so when they are combined to create an entirely different texture. It’s a great time to be intentional and savor the experience. Additionally, there’s a certain level of motor skill involved; both gross and fine. Shoveling sand to build a mound and then carving the sand for detail uses different muscles as well as different areas of your brain.

Family Time

I’ve outlined why building sandcastles is good for your brain and dexterity. It’s also a fantastic family experience and it doesn’t have to be a summer beach day in order to enjoy it. A sandbox in the backyard or in the park can be accessed at any time and if you can get past the idea of sand covered clothing (it is easier to wash off with a dip in the ocean) ~ it’s a wonderful treat for the entire family.

Treat yourself to a free play day by getting outside in the fresh air and …

Build a sandcastle.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#89 Host a Game Night

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#89

Host a Game Night

Do you or your friends get together for Poker, Bunko, Caton, or D&D? Have you spent any time at a board game cafe? Are you a Monopoly fanatic? Board games are making a comeback and Game Night is a ‘thing’ in many twenty-something circles. What is your favorite game?

Family

Gathering the family for a night of gaming can be a great break from electronics and television. New York Magazine recently published a great list of popular board games – among them, several of our favorites; Codenames, Sequence, Ticket to Ride, and Telestrations. Telestrations in particular is great for a crowd and we are always left belly laughing the night away. When the kids are gathered (adults now), they love Ticket to Ride and have lovingly called it the ‘train game’.

 It can be serious and committed or routy, fun, and lighthearted.

By planning and arranging a game night, you’ll be connecting with like-minded people. You’ll be creating opportunities for belonging and laughter, and you’ll be making memories. All of these things lead to feelings of happiness and well-being.

If you don’t have a favorite game, experiment a bit or visit a local game store to get recommendations, or ask friends for their suggestions. Get your family together and involved with one another more often by …

Hosting a game night.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#110 Learn Origami

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#110

Learn Origami

When was the last time you even had a thought about folding big paper into little paper? For many, it was the last ‘cootie catcher’ you made in middle school or the last paper ‘football’ you made for the high school lunch table. Some of you may have folded paper in more appealing shapes in girl scouts or a crafting class, perhaps as part of a scrapbooking project. Origami though, takes folding paper to a whole new level.

Art

Origami is a true form of art. It’s attributed to the Chinese dating back to the 1600’s but there is reference to the process in different forms as far back as 1000 A.D. in a couple of cultures. Today, there are a number of world renowned artists whose only medium is paper and whose primary method is to fold.

giang-nudeback

Vietnamese artist Giang Dinh

Origami as therapy

Paper folding is a favorite de-stressing activity for a lot of hobbyists. It’s recommended as a ‘tool-box’ item for anxiety and depression. It’s attributed to lowering blood pressure, increasing attention capacity, and improves dexterity in people who’ve had injury to their hands. Some therapists recommend Origami for ADHD, Addictions, and raising self-esteem. It fosters creativity.

Mindfulness

Origami can be instrumental in the development of mindfulness as it brings your attention directly to the present moment and it can be done anywhere, anytime, and by anybody who has a piece of paper. It can help us let go of our need to be perfect and may foster a form of meditation as the skills develop and focused attention is deepened.

Family time

Some of the basic Origami folds can be accomplished by children as young as four years old. It’s a great activity that can bring the entire family to the table with very little – if any – expense. It has the potential to become a familial hobby – or one that is shared in an adult relationship – fostering time away from electronics and societal noise.

Real Deal

Origami as an art, a hobby, and a therapeutic tool is a real thing. There’s a National association, several annual conventions, and Meetup groups that allow lovers of paper folding to connect and share. So, if you saw the title of today’s suggestion and raised your eyebrow, I suggest you find a piece of paper and find out what all the fuss is by getting started on a basic fold as you watch the video and…

Learn Origami

 

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#129 Stargaze

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#129

Stargaze

While the bulk of the population may attempt this with the naked eye during summer evenings when we can comfortably lie outside and gaze above, there is a lot to see in the Autumn sky. The brightest star is Fomelhaut, the overall 18th brightest star in the sky – and it’s sometimes called the lone Autumn star as it seems to be alone up there. As the fall transitions into winter, the Milky Way gives way to the constellation of Orion and all of the neighboring stars. And if you’ve never taken the time to notice, the winter sky looks very different from the summer one.

Use an App

Knowing what you are looking at is easy these days with a smartphone. iPhone users can literally just point their phones at the sky using the SkyView app and identify precisely what is there. The apps NightSky and StarChart are also good options if you want to know more detail about the space beyond.

Telescopes

Another way to participate in stargazing year round is to view the sky through a telescope. Depending on your interest level, you can spend anywhere from $50 to several thousand in order to get a better view. A telescope magnifies and clarifies your view, allowing you to see much more than you might with the naked eye.

Family Time

Stargazing is a fantastic family activity that allows for fun and learning simultaneously. There’s always something to learn about the stars and planets we can see and because our view changes as the earth turns, it’s not exactly the same month after month. Not to mention that it’s a huge sky when you are gazing at it one part at a time so each night, a different quadrant can be explored.

The holiday’s are approaching and it may be the perfect time to consider adopting a new hobby or to introduce your family to an activity you’ve enjoyed through the years. If nothing else, the next time you are outdoors in the evening, take a few moments and do a little…

Stargazing.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#168 Create a Piece of Wall Art

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#168

Create a piece of wall art

Just getting started in your first home? Feeling crafty? Wanting a change of decor? Creating your own piece of wall art isn’t nearly as difficult as you may think! Depending on how industrious you feel, it can as little as a few minutes with some simple supplies or you can go all out, using power tools and scrap wood.

Starting small and easy is generally a good idea. Some masking tape, a couple of canvases, and complimentary paint colors is all you need for this first abstract look.

wall3

I used this technique for the bathroom walls in my daughter’s hall bath a number of years ago. It encompassed a pack of coordinating scrapbook paper, an inexpensive canvas, and some Modge Podge. Any shape works but this ‘leaf’ or ‘pointed oval’ makes a pretty great flower. You can make this for less than $20.

wall1

Using circles is also a great idea. There are lots of options here…  Paper on canvas, wood on canvas, wood on wood, even plastic. You can use a variety of items here or simply spray paint wood circles and clue them to a painted board or repurposed canvas you pick up at a thrift shop.

wall2

Getting more labor intensive, a variety of wood projects are also low cost. Scrap wood can be purchased at surplus shops for next to nothing and joined to create a panel ready to hang. A painted word purchased on Etsy or at a craft show adds a pop of color and personal interest.

wall5

A creative use of different stains can also be interesting. While the picture below depicts inlaid wood – the same effect can be accomplished by using tape and different stains.

This last piece may be as simple as sending the kids outside to pick up a few sticks nature provided the last time it was windy! Cutting them to fit inside a shallow box you’ve built and painted creates a really interesting focal point for a room anchored in natural elements. It brings the outside, inside.

wall4

These are only a few options and a really great way to decorate on a limited budget. It’s also a great way to change up your home decor without breaking the bank or investing so much that you feel compelled to keep something even though your tastes have changed.

This is a great family activity and a fantastic way to encourage creativity. Art is a completely subjective endeavor and so… if YOU like it – that’s all that matters!  Hopefully, this gets your wheels turning about how to fill some empty space on a wall in your home just waiting for you to …

Create a piece of wall art! 

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

 

#170 Roast Marshmallows

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#170

Roast Marshmallows

Yesterday, I wrote about Camping (or Glamping) and anyone who’s had that experience knows the pleasure of sitting around a ‘camp’ fire. Tradition, for our family at least, has been to include marshmallows so that we can roast or toast them as an evening treat. There have been many a conversation about how to do just that.

Perfection

Some people like their marshmallows lightly roasted – the color of toasted bread (perhaps where the term “toasted” originates) – and soft, almost completely melted on the inside. It’s accomplished by finding a part of the fire that is mostly molten coals with a low blue flame,  if any. A slight roterisse action will assure coverage across the entire circumference. It will bubble just slightly and color slowly. If your marshmallow meets matches this description and you wait just a few minutes after pulling it back from the fire – it will be slightly crispy on the outside as the sugar begins to crystalize again – making it absolute perfection – IMHO.

Variations

Others seem to find enjoyment by placing their marshmallow directly into the flame until it, in itself, becomes a torch. Quickly, it turns black and will consume the sugar entirely if it is not blown out. The underbelly of these are still firm and can often be toasted again if only the blistered ‘skin’ was removed. It’s a great way to extend the life of your marshmallow if – you can tolerate the ‘burned’ flavor. There are a few who are fearful of burning and lack patience to thoroughly roast so they ‘warm’ their mallow to the point of being soft enough to quickly dissolve.

Alternatives

A campfire is perhaps, the most favorited location to pass a bag of fresh marshmallows but it’s absolutely not the only way to experience the joy of the sugary treat. In recent years we’ve seen an explosion of homeowners with backyard fire pits or chimineas on patios and decks – offering year round alternatives to traditional campfires. In the absence of those options, there’s always the convenience of a gas grill or the flame of your own gas stove. In a pinch, there’s the heat produced by the electric burner on your kitchen range. Pop a marshmallow on a large meat fork, turn the burner on high and rotate. (I may have resorted to that method a time or two during my apartment living years.) As a novelty, a few companies now manufacture ‘roasting kits’ using a small sterno can as flame fuel. Hey, whatever works!

Savor the memories

No matter how you do it, the simple act of popping a perfectly roasted marshmallow into your mouth or smashing it between graham crackers with a block of chocolate (s’more) will instantly remind you of one of the most fun aspects of childhood. Take yourself back and enjoy a few minutes of pleasant memories by savoring the flavor and all that it brings with the satisfactory act of…

Roasting marshmallows.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below