What do you need right now?

Those times when your happy little umbrella of optimism has blown inside out, and you find yourself face down on concrete.

Then what do you need?

Your first response to this question might involve a change in circumstances, such as,

” I need for [Person Whose Life Is Currently Affecting Mine] to [change some behavior that is making me crazy].”


“I need some basic law of nature (gravity, phases of the moon, weather) to adapt to my current activities.”

Good luck with those.

The chances of your need being met under these circumstances may not be impossible. God can do anything, I am convinced.

But for those times when, for whatever reason known only to Him, He chooses not to change a situation, let’s say that this is not an “I wish” kind of question.

Instead, it’s  a “What’s my need at the deepest level?” thing.

Because sometimes the greatest adventure happens when we investigate what we need within the circumstances we can’t control.

Who wants to know?

Certain members of my family give me endless grief for starting way too many sentences with “I wonder…”

And I get it. The quest for knowledge–aside from sounding like an Indiana Jones knockoff movie–is a phrase that may not turn your crank at first glance, but here’s the truth:

It can send you on all kinds of escapades, practical and frivolous, exciting and thought-provoking, significant and trivial, physical and intellectual, fun-loving and life-changing.

And who can resist an adventure that might begin with something as simple as thinking, “Yeah, I just want to know…”

Not long ago, Ben and I decided that since we were sleeping on a 25-year old mattress, (yes, really), it might be time to get a new one. And since we’d inherited our old one, we needed to know about the positively dizzying array of choices at our disposal.

As it turned out, we also learned a lot about tacky sales techniques.

What if you look stupid?

Remember 1992? If you don’t, then you are super-young, and will not understand the ensuing nonsense.

However, if you do remember 1992, you probably remember the phenomenon of Glamour Shots–when people actually paid money to a business that purported to make you more glamorous (at least in a photograph) than you have ever been or will ever be again in your life.

Since we are close friends, I will admit to you that I fell victim.

One year, I thought it would be fun to surprise Ben at Christmas by getting my picture taken at one of those places. I made an appointment, and arrived at the studio in the mall, ready, willing, and really looking forward to a temporary ultimate makeover.

They were very busy that night, and training a new photographer—a girl who had, up to that very evening, been a makeup artist only. This made me nervous right out of the gate, because I am a bad study for even a great professional photographer.

I wear glasses, for one thing, and I discovered long ago that I have some kind of quirky thing going on with my left eye. Without fail (even in my wedding pictures), my left eye shuts just as the camera shoots. Also, I have hair with a mind of its own.

Well, a hair stylist tamed the wild beast the best she could, the makeup artist shoveled cosmetics on, and the wardrobe lady gave me several binding, sequin-studded denim numbers.

Then I very carefully (so as not to break, lose or fall out of anything) took a seat in front of the camera, where the photographer-o’-the day immediately made a terrible mistake.

What’s on your playlist?

You probably know that the power of music is mighty and mysterious.

It can make your spirit blast off, move you to tears, take you back to a memory you thought you’d forgotten.

It can make you feel young…or old,

inspire longing, move you to action, compel you to dance,

light a fire, set a mood, get you pregnant,

help you grieve, remind you of someone you love (or someone you can’t stand),

toss you into a pit of despair, and usher you straight into the presence of God.

You’re probably already thinking of songs that have done all this and more in your own life.

Go ahead, name one…or a bunch.

And know that all the music that’s worked its way into your soul can also unwrap an adventurous heart if you let it.

Why are you so weird?

Has anyone ever accused you of being a little bit “different” from normal people?  Maybe you have a small quirk that, according to your friends, makes you slightly weird.

Or maybe someone you love (or not) has a behavior that makes you shake your head or look confused…

When I first met my Virginia-native husband at Purdue University, I had to ask him to spell quite a few words that I couldn’t understand. His “really Richmond” accent was a major mystery to my friends and me. He couldn’t even order at a restaurant in Indiana, because the wait staff were alternately baffled and amused by that accent.

Then we got married, and I left the land of my birth to learn the language and customs of his people. I realize that this sounds easy, since we were both speaking English, but believe me, it wasn’t. Here’s a small sample of this foreign lexicon. For your convenience, I have included a video pronunciation guide (click here), because if you don’t live in these parts, you will need it:

Would you want a young person you love to follow your example?

If you’re like most people, your answer is…sometimes.

In some ways.

And if you’re like most people I’ve asked, your face is slightly pinched right now because you’re thinking of the negatives first. The “I’ve dones” that you wish you could turn into “undones.”

Join the club, pals. We all have our stories.

Back when I was young and foolish, my husband, Ben, and I went to a costume party dressed as John Travolta’s character, Danny, in Grease, and Mickey Mouse. (I just couldn’t pull off Olivia Newton-John’s look.)  We had a great time, and came home with some extra un-consumed refreshments from the party, most notably an enormous jug of cider.

As we pulled up to our house, I grabbed the cider, and Ben said, “Now don’t drop that.”

Let’s pause right here.

Wanna play?

What did you used to do for fun as a kid?

Stop and think about it for a minute.

I’m not even in the same room with you, but I can see you smiling…because fun will do that to a person.

And kids are such experts at the joy of playing around–like the three-year-old boy of Beth Levine, a writer who tells my favorite story ever:

One day, she says, “Our son decided that not only was underwear objectionable, the rest of his clothes were as well. I found him running around the house stark naked, only pausing long enough to grab a treat from the kitchen table.

‘Mama!’ he cried, with soul-soaring glee. ‘I’m naked! Naked with CANDY!’

‘What more can you ask of life?’ she asked her husband. ‘I feel like being naked with candy myself.'”

Maybe you feel like it too.

And if you don’t, maybe you should.

Because my guess is that you’ve been a responsible grownup for a while now, and you may well need a break from all that adulting. Adulting can suck the life out of you.

Playing around, however, can blow it back in.

What have you always wanted to know about, but were afraid to ask?

How did you learn about the “facts of life”?

It’s a question that’s almost guaranteed to perk up any boring gathering.

Answers will vary. And I can just about guarantee that hilarity will ensue.

Or awkward silence.

Shoot, just asking the question is an adventure in itself.

You might have learned about the facts of life from a book–like The Wonderful Story of How You Were Born, which I got when I was a kid. I was fascinated with it, but was slightly baffled by a glaring omission. The narrative went from “mommy and daddy love each other” to “the egg and sperm get together and grow a baby,” omitting the crucial step of exactly how they come to meet up.

A few years later, I found a book on our bookcase called Love and the Facts of Life, which I sneaked off the shelf and into my room, and read from cover to cover. (Many years later, my mom told me she told me she put it there on purpose so I would do just that.)

Well, that filled in a few important gaps in my limited carnal knowledge.

When I was a teenager, a book called Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) became a bestseller. I didn’t actually buy it, mind you, but I may have found a copy somewhere and read every single word. Maybe.

On the other hand, you may have received your information from other types of “literature.”

‘Nuff said.

Or you may have had insightful, enlightened, wise parents who sat you down with total ease and explained the details.

Lucky you.

My guess, though, is that, despite enlightened parents and a profusion of pre-internet reading material, most of us procured at least some significant (mis)information from friends.

What are you waiting for?

Someone once told me that if you can’t find joy living “in the meantime,” you won’t find joy at all.

But isn’t all of life lived “in the meantime”?

Think about something you yourself are waiting for: a vacation? a new job? to finish a project? to finally reach your ideal weight?

Or perhaps you’re waiting for pregnancy or parenthood.

For a soul mate. Or a friend.

Maybe you’re waiting on test results. Or chemo to be over. Or healing.

Or life–in one form or another–to resurrect.

Whatever you’re waiting for, I think it helps to know there’s actually a rhythm to most “meantimes.” You know this if you’ve ever experienced, say, a power outage during a storm. Like this:

Having grown up in the Midwest, I was used to tornadoes: they form quickly, move quickly, touch down, devastate, and move on. Hurricanes, however, are a different story, as I have learned after living in Virginia for a while: you know they’re coming days and days ahead of time. This gives everyone plenty of opportunity to prepare for and obsess about the impending doom.

Just as challenging—if not more so—than the actual hurricane is the aftermath.Following are the brief chronicles of one such storm at our house. Perhaps you can relate:


–Hurricane arrives.

–Sit in house ALONE, while storm howls, since husband went far away to a FOOTBALL

— Power goes out.

— Feel like Ma on Little House on the Prairie, when Pa has to forge ahead into the blizzard
to find food for the family (not, however, go to a FOOTBALL GAME).



–Begin to clean up debris in yard; dump it in driveway.

–Visit extensively with neighbors who are also cleaning up debris.

–Get sweaty.

–Want shower, but no running water.

–Need to use bathroom, but no running water.

–Go in woods.

–(Feel like Ma again.)

–Eat lunch: peanut butter and dry cereal (can’t open fridge; hope that
power will come on before everything spoils).

–Talk to Mom in Indiana; so glad land line still works.


–Land line goes dead.

–Use cell phone.

–Clean up debris in driveway. Make 200 trips to dump.

–Get sweaty.

–Accept invitation to use the shower of kind friends whose power just
came on.

–Drive around looking for somewhere to eat that doesn’t have a two-hour wait.

–Eat at Baja Bean Company.

–Realize eating at Baja Bean Company not a good idea when you can’t flush.

–Cell phone goes dead.

–Return home to darkness, which surrounds us like a massive, claustrophobic


–Go to church, even without power. Great service: windows up, fresh air,
birds singing, no sound system to worry about.

–Notice how people are getting to know each other better; neighbors talk
to neighbors they haven’t spoken with in weeks.

–Adversity bringing people together in wonderful spirit of helpfulness and


–Sick of comaraderie; just want to flush.

–Begin inventing fun, creative ways to go to the bathroom.

–Use Grandma Ellis’ chamber pot (get old CD’s out of it first), and dump
contents in woods.

–In afternoon, spy power trucks in neighborhood. Rejoice.

–Eat dinner with more kind friends who have electricity.

–On way home, notice that first two houses in neighborhood have lights on.

–Turn corner onto our street.


–Get tired of making trips to woods. Throw contents of chamber pot out
bathroom window into back yard. Whatever.


–Wake up at 6 a.m. to more howling winds and driving rain. Tornado

–More power outages.

–Instead of sympathizing with additional people who have no power, whine about how much longer it will take to get our lights on.

–middle of the night: Ben tired of propriety when it comes to “no flushing”:
goes out into front yard to take care of business TOTALLY WITHOUT BENEFIT
–Around midnight, bored out of my mind, decide to get creative with camera, and take pictures of household objects in candlelight. Beautiful. Especially the flaming fake deer head which by day looks pretty darn tacky, but by candlelight morphs into something quite lovely.


–Rumor afloat: The power won’t be on for another four
weeks…maybe never, ever.

–4 p.m.: lights come on. Run around house flushing
toilets just to hear the sound.

Honestly, these rhythms of waiting for the power to return aren’t really much different for an outage than they are when we’re waiting for just about anything else.

There’s hope, then despair;

excitement, then boredom;

fear, then peace;

“Oh no!” followed by “Thank you, God!” followed by “How long, O Lord?”

And always, there’s the opportunity to stop and notice that something ordinary has become kind of lovely in a different light.

So how can we make a proactive adventure out of the meantime?

Try doing something that brings you joy–like experiencing a little camaraderie with friends.

Embrace some wonder in front of you–like a flaming fake deer head. It may look different in the darkness of waiting, but it’s still there, in all of its fairly lovely glory.

Boldly venture out of your box to find creative ways to do the mundane and necessary–like target practice in the back yard with a chamber pot.

Or even moseying out to the front yard naked and unafraid.

Whatever helps until the lights come on.


If you’re just joining us, check out the very first post (Your Epic Adventure Starts Here), where you’ll learn about starting a yearlong (52 questions) quest to practice living a life of adventure. As a bonus, you will also find the backstory for that ridiculous herd of buffalo on the header photo of this website…


What about winter in your soul?

Freezing temperatures, black ice, dark days, cabin fever. What’s not to love about winter?

Plenty, according to some people. If you’re one of those folks (and even if you’re not), maybe you’d like to brighten your winter up with a little adventure.

I was feeling the urge when I signed up for ski lessons, where one of the first things we learned was a method of stopping called a snowplow, when you point your feet inward till your ski tips touch and form a wedge shape. “Cool,” I thought. “Sounds like an easy way to control my speed. I’ll be shushing in no time.

Of course, being a nonathlete, I took quite a few spills at first, but after a few hours, I was snowplowing my way down the bunny slopes without breaking anything. When I’d had enough for the day, I made my way over to a wide expanse of snow, where all the trails converged and led to the lodge. It was pretty high up, but I figured I could snowplow my way down and be okay.

Big mistake.