shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

Good Times Jar

December 29, 2014

We are all so quick to remember the bad times: the arguments, the hurt feelings, the harsh words. What we aren't quite so good at recalling are the inside jokes that make us smile, the impromptu presents of flowers picked on a walk, or the simple acts of kindness that brighten our day. About this time last year, I decided to change all that.

It's a fact that by writing something down it gets stored in another part of your brain and you are better able to recall it later on. This works equally well for foreign words, phone numbers, poetry, anything you are trying to memorize. It also works for helping us remember the good times. Enter the Good Times Jar.

I started with a recycled jar (naturally) that had once held jelly. I cut paper into long, 1-inch wide strips and stored them near the jar. Then, every time something happened that made me laugh, feel good, or want to remember the moment forever, I wrote the date and a short description of it on a strip of paper, folded it over, and put it in the Good Times Jar. Combining my birthday with my grandson's first trip to the ocean. Sitting in the driveway before we left for the beach while my son blared the Beetles "Birthday" from his portable speaker in the backseat. Adding chickens to our little farm. Sharing dinners with good friends. (Miss you, Here & Now!) Watching our grandson dance to the ride music at the fair. Seeing Willie Nelson with our oldest son at Farm Aid. Cutting down two tiny pine trees to wire together for our own Charlie Brown tree. Getting my mocko jumbie Christmas ornament in the mail. The year's not over, so I'm sure there are still more slips of paper to go in the jar. I can't wait to read them all.

A jar full of smiles

On New Year's Eve, which will undoubtedly be spent just the two of us, we plan to shake all the slips of paper out and read them at random. I anticipate that each memory will elicit the same smiles, the same warm feelings, and (knowing me) not a few tears as I remember good times shared with various friends, family members, our kids, the wee one, and each other. And when the jar is empty, I'll cut a few more strips of paper and start filling it again.

I recently saw a very similar idea online. A guy filled a jar with 365 color-coded slips of paper to give to his girlfriend for Valentine's Day. There were yellow, pink, and red papers, each designating a different category. Yellow was for shared memories and inside jokes. Pink papers were quotes and lyrics from song. Red was reasons he loved her. Each day of the year, she was to pull a piece of paper out and read it. No matter what the situation may be at the time, whether they had to be apart, were arguing, or had been too busy for each other lately, she could read a memory that would make her smile. Or be reminded of why he loves her. Or read a song lyric that would swim around her brain all day. Until she got to choose another piece of paper the next day. It's a wonderful idea that few men I know could pull off. But don't you think it's worth a try, guys?

Whether you make note of your "good times" in advance or record them as the year progresses, remember that those are the moments we want to fill our lives with. The anger, grudges, and hurt feelings do nothing but make you "sick in the soul" (to quote my favorite movie). Remember the good times. Here's hoping you and yours have a wonderful 2015 and that your Good Times Jar is bursting by this time next year.

MONDAY we'll start the new year with an old idea. Chances are you don't have this in your tool locker, but you should.

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