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Couch Contemplations

This is my couch.

couch

I tried to water that fake tree once. Go me!

There are times I’m convinced we’re dating, as we spend our weekends and weeknights together. There’s nothing I look forward to more than hanging out with some snacks and reading, writing or watching TV—just me and my couch.

I’m not telling you this so that you realize how pathetically happy I am dating my couch and consequently feel better about yourself—although that most certainly will happen as well—but because buying that couch three years ago kind of  “represents” something today.

Let me explain.

When I bought my house and had to buy a couch. Everyone told me to take my time, hit at least half a dozen stores to compare price and styles and then spend 1,000 hours online trying to find a better option and a better deal (only slightly exaggerating.)

I saw this couch at the second store. It matched my new paint, the ends reclined with foot things that came out and the price was about what I expected. I bought it with no second thought. My thinking was that if it was what I liked, there was no point in searching for something better. It was good enough.

In other words, I didn’t want any more options.

While I like options and the choice to choose, most of the time I’m okay sticking with things I know I like—with satisfied—something I think is overlooked (and even looked down upon) in today’s society.  If you’re not constantly striving for the “new and improved” or the next greatest thing, you’re told that you’ll be left behind.

But with so many options for what to read, what to write, what to eat, what to wear, what to buy, it seems that no matter what decision you make, there will be a million reasons to doubt it and a million reasons to justify it.

paintsamples

Do we really need 457 different shades of blue, Home Depot?

Even if you’re happy with your decision, the introduction of more options often invites doubt and insecurity that while what you have might be okay,  it’s not as exciting as something else.  Pretty soon you adapt to that initial excitement and it just becomes expected, meaning you’re always looking for something else.

If that’s the case, when can you enjoy the things you have?

For me, worrying about whether something better is out there—because there is always something better out there— and second-guessing my decisions takes away any pleasure I get from what I already have.

So despite the incredulous look from the salespeople, I was okay with buying a new phone that only lets me talk and text. 

Despite everyone telling me that along with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, I need to be on StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Google +, Foursquare, Digg and still find time to write every day—you have to write every day, right?— while reading a bunch of other blogs in a Google Reader or an RSS feed (or whatever other technical thing I don’t know what I’m talking about,) I’m okay with sticking to a couple options.

The issue is that even trivial decisions become important if we believe these decisions reveal something significant about ourselves, if we think we’ll be judged by what we decide—even if it’s just judging ourselves, as is often the case with me.

The truth is, we probably will be. But if I compare my decisions with the results of others, I’m less likely to be satisfied with what I have, which was what I wanted at the time.

This doesn’t mean I don’t have goals or that I’m shut off from “new and improved” versions of things—especially versions of myself. But sometimes seeking out more options simply means more stress and less satisfaction, more energy spent on complicating things that could be energy spent on something else.

So I keep an open mind about options, but that means my mind is also open to the possibility that what I already have might just be good enough.

And instead of worrying about the next great thing to come along, I simply enjoy the things that I presently have—usually on my couch.

couch2

We’re very happy together.

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Wish You Were Here

As much as I complain about the weather in Michigan—the horrendous heat and humidity in the summer and the feet of ice and snow in the winter—this time of year is truly something special.

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(Sorry my pictures are small. You can click to enlarge.)

The colors are spectacular, and if you don’t live in an area that experiences the changing of the seasons, I sincerely mean it when I say I wish you were here to enjoy them.*

*Unless of course, you’re an emotional vampire or just plain annoying, in which case I would dive behind my couch ninja-like to hide when you rang my doorbell.

At any rate, we’ve had unseasonably warm temperatures the past week that have reached the 70s, and I’ve taken advantage of that by enjoying the incredible mum display at the botanical gardens, going on a hayride and mini-color tour and just generally taking the time to appreciate the fact that nature will constantly leave me humbled and at peace.

gardensFM

I don’t know where you are from, but I can tell you that Michigan—and my city specifically—has a lot to offer. We might not have a Trader Joes or Whole Foods within 300 miles or many celebrity sightings, and we only have one vegan restaurant and the aforementioned craptastically unpredictable weather—where was I going with this?

Ah yes, those issues aside, we do have things distinctly our own, things that make Michigan—and Grand Rapids, specifically—not only a great place to visit, but a great place to live.

The mayor and a panel of community leaders recently ran a contest—My Grand Rapids in Six Words  (MyGR6) — inviting anyone “who has lived, worked or played here to share their sentiments about the city using only six words.”

They won’t announce the winners for a couple of weeks, but almost 8,000 people submitted entries, which says something about community pride. Mine was initially related to sports, but serves as a theme for the city as a whole:

Minor league city. Major league feel.

But if you’re into sports—as you know I am—right now is a great time to be a fan. The Tigers are in the American League Championship Series, the Lions are undefeated, the Wings have started their season 2-0—and the minor league baseball and hockey teams for those parent clubs are right here in Grand Rapids.

fifth-third-ballpark-sign

In other words, we see the stars before they’re stars.

If you’re into art and culture, we just wrapped up ArtPrize, the world’s largest art prize based solely on a public vote. Artists take over and cover the city and venues with their work, visitors come from around the world and conversations result about community, creativity and possibility.

Sports, culture, natural beauty—those are just a few of the things we have going on right now where I live. I’m not trying to sell you on the city—as I said, winters and availability for overpriced hippy food sucks—but rather share with you a little piece of fall where I come from.

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And the changing of the seasons also serve as a reminder to me that no, I don’t have control of everything in my life, but sometimes the most beautiful things happen when I let go and simply enjoy whatever may be.

At least until the snow comes.

Then even I wish I wasn’t here.

But for now, I’ll simply wax poetic about the colors and hope that if you aren’t able to enjoy them where you are, you were at least able to enjoy a piece of fall from where I’m at—which unfortunately, is not Trader Joes, but you take what you can get.

And for now, we get major league beauty.

I’m glad that I’m here.

How would you describe your city in six words?