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Another Year June 12, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Gratitude, Humor, People.
26 comments

Another Year, directed by Mike Leigh, offers little in the way of plot ~ except for a small garden plot tended in each of the four seasons.   Instead, the film, a fascinating and ably acted character study, reveals how our personalities make us . . . or break us.

Tom & Gerri, long time partners, allow life to flow through and around them, not getting caught up in the emotional baggage of others.  Their son, Joe, rolls with the punches and accepts life’s ups and down with deadpan calm. 

In contrast, Gerri’s co-worker and long-time friend, Mary, a middle-aged,  mixed-up, muddled-up mess, becomes increasingly morose, isolated, and dysfunctional as the film progresses.  Like Mary, Tom’s childhood friend, Ken, is  a self-proclaimed “victim of life” ~ unhappy, but unwilling to make changes that might alleviate his chronic depression and dissatisfaction. 

Tom’s older brother, Ronnie, another “sad sack,” expects negatives to be tossed into his life cart, viewing life as something to be endured, rather than enjoyed.   Ronnie’s son, Carl, another victim, is filled with rage, blaming the world for his troubles ~ always pointing fingers “out there” at others rather than taking a good hard look within himself.

And, then, there’s Katie, Joe’s girlfriend, an effervescent and kinetic kangaroo who deals with all the Eeyores by remaining as upbeat as a Tigger on steroids. 

Boing . . . boing . . . boing!

As the seasons change from Spring to Summer to Autumn to Winter, we see subtle changes in the characters and their inter-relationships.

The Tiggers continue to thrive . . . while the Eeyores barely survive.

None of us know how much time we have left.  Any of us could be hit by a bus tomorrow.   

Why not make the most of this moment???  

No rules.  Just write!

Related posts:  The Last Lecture * 25 Simple Ways To Enjoy The JourneyDon’t Bring Me Down * Happiness Resides Within

13 Ways to Enjoy Some Fun in the Sun June 12, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Happiness, Nature.
29 comments

If you’re ready to Kick Back and Relax for Father’s Day, July 4th, or Just Because, here are 13 Ways to Enjoy Some Fun in the Sun:

1. Plan a Weekend Get-A-Way.   One or two night stays at Historic Hotels offer a change of scenery, pace, and place without breaking the bank.

A few years ago, we stayed at The Colony Hotel in Kennebunkport Maine for two nights and took full advantage of the on site amenities ~ including the gorgeous views.  The Colony Hotel, a National Historic Landmark, also happens to be Maine’s first Environmentally Responsible Hotel:

The Colony Hotel is spectacularly situated amid glorious and manicured gardens on a rocky promontory above the Atlantic Ocean. The white wooden structure was built in 1914 and spans a full 300 feet, topped by a cupola and the weather vane of a large ship. The wrap-around Ocean Porch and the gazebo offer views of the ocean and river. The Colony became Maine’s first environmentally responsible hotel in 1994.

If you live in the US, visit the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Historic Hotels of America for ideas on where to stay near you.  To be selected for this program, the hotel must be at least 50 years old, listed or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, or recognized locally as having historical significance.   Members of the National Trust are eligible to receive a 10% discount off the best available rate.  For details:  National Trust Travel & Sites.

2.  Toss a frisbee or play catch.  Round up the kids for some fresh air and exercise.   Toss a Frisbee.  Play Catch, Monkey in the Middle, Tag, Dodge Ball, Kick Ball, Hide & Seek, Croquet, Simon Says, Bocce Ball, Hula Hoop, Duck Duck Goose,  Badminton, Mother May I?, Hopscotch, Jump Rope, or Volleyball.

3.  Make Ice Cream Floats.   Fill tall glasses with vanilla ice cream.  Pour Root Beer, Coke, or Orange Soda over the ice cream.  Add a straw and enjoy a fizzy delight while swinging in the hammock.

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4.  Pack a Picnic for the Park.  Grab a cooler and fill it with picnic favorites and essentials ~ sandwiches, salads, chips, sodas, cookies, and brownies.  Toss some blankets and folding chairs into the car.  Head to a local lake, beach, park, playground, or historic site to have lunch in the great outdoors.   After lunch, hit the playground and swing on the swings, hang from the Monkey Bars, and slide down the slides.

5.  Visit a local Farmer’s Market.  If you live in the northern hemisphere, this is the perfect time of year to eat locally and sustainably grown fruits and veggies.  For example, The Afternoon Market

6.  Check out local art and artists.   With a bit of research, you can add some culture to your day trips by visiting museums, galleries, or local artist enclaves ~ like Village of the Arts in Bradenton, Florida.

7.  Ready . . . Aim . . . Shoot!  Enter the NWF Annual Photo Contest and win up to $5,000!  The 7 Photo Categories include:  Baby Animals, Backyard Habitat, Birds, Connecting People & Nature, Landscapes and Plant Life, Mammals, and Other Wildlife.  Final date to submit ~ July 14, 2011.   Contest Details.

8.  Have a Talent Show!  Give everyone in the family a chance to showcase their special gifts, interests, and abilities ~ singing, dancing, clowning around, telling jokes, playing musical instruments, juggling, reading Shakespeare or poetry, acting in short skits, or performing magic.  Use your video-camera (if you have one) to record the fun.

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9.  Visit a National, State, or Local Park.  Admission at US National Parks is FREE on June 21 to celebrate the first day of summer.  For more ideas, check out Outdoor Fun for the Whole Family.

10.  Camp out under the Stars.  Not Fun in the Sun, but camping out is a great way to connect kids with the wonders of wildlife.  Check out Great American Backyard Campout at NWF.

11.  Go for a Nature Walk or Bike Ride.  Enjoy the beauty of your own backyard.  Take a stroll around your yard, neighborhood, or a local park or preserve.  Stop along the way to discuss any interesting sights or sounds.  Ask lots of questions.  Listen to the answers.  Turn your walk or ride into a Photo Scavenger Hunt and see how many interesting shots you can find.   If you capture any stellar shots . . . see idea #7.

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12.  Plan a House Swap to enjoy a Destination Vacation.  Swapping houses is a wonderful way to enjoy an extended stay in another area of the country (or the world) without being cramped into a hotel room.  For more on the topic, check out Angela Barton’s post, Frugal Summer Vacations.

13.  Host the Summer Olympics in your yard or at the park.  Events might include:  Three-Legged Race, Water Balloon Toss, Mad Hatter’s Mad Dash, Wheelbarrow Race, Long Jump, High Jump, Egg~Spoon Race, or Frisbee Golf.  Keep track of winners for each event ~ awarding Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals (which your kids can make earlier in the week out of construction paper, glitter, and glue).

Life is short . . . laugh when you can.

No rules.  Just write!

What about you?  How does your family enjoy Fun in the Sun?