Susan Craig

Live, Love, Learn……Every story is a journey

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Five Reasons Challenge Lures Us…

fishing lures

What is the lure of a challenge? What is it that hooks us and reels us in?  That convinces us to step outside our comfort zone? In this post I explore five reasons we take on a challenge.

Novelty

1.  A challenge is a break from routine. Usually a challenge involves accomplishing something we have not yet achieved. So a challenge has newness. It brings novelty into our life

Creativity

2.  A challenge sparks our creativity. In meeting a challenge we discover new approaches to what might be old problems. We can’t succeed at a worthy challenge by merely left-braining our way through. We have to access our creative side.

Learning

3.  A challenge gives us a chance to learn. In fact, a worthy challenge triggers an incredibly steep learning curve. It makes us feel young again. When you are a toddler, there is so much to learn—motor skills, language, how to feed ourselves—that all of life is a challenge. As we grow up, we lose the feeling of exhilaration that accompanies great strides in learning. A good challenge can bring that feeling back.

Performance

4.  A challenge brings out the best in us, because it requires us to use all our skills and abilities—to perform at 100%. Operating at 80% is enough to get most jobs done excellently once you have mastered them, but it just doesn’t feel as good as 100% performance.

Adrenalin

5. Some of us are just adrenalin junkies. ‘Nuff said.

young children exploring

If you are raising children, especially those under the age of seven, you benefit from all these aspects of challenge every day. When our children are grown, we can either settle in at 60, 70 or 80 percent, or we can seek new challenges. I vote for 100%. How about you?

What aspects of challenge appeal most to you? Are there some I have overlooked? Let’s talk about it. Leave a reply!

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From Corn Plants to Fire Ants—Costs and benefits of a mobile lifestyle

   

I wrote the first version of this post a number of years ago, when my husband and I moved from a small town in Nebraska to Austin Texas. Literally a move from corn plants to fire ants. We’ve moved again since then, but the costs and the benefits of a mobile lifestyle remain the same, so I offer this post again, dedicated to those who move and to those who stay.

Roadside flowers along barbed wire fence

The adventure of moving on

Home is where the heart is, so they say. But eleven days ago, I accepted a new job in the busy, crazy city of Austin, Texas. My husband and I have until July 1 to vacate our present home in a small town in the midwestern United States, find a house in Austin, and move in.  Fifty-nine days to go. We gain much by being willing to move from place to place. Exposure to new places and people, greater financial stability, career advancement, adventure–these are all benefits of our mobile society.

Today, unexpectedly, I was reminded of what we lose.

I sat in my office at the college, working my way through checking a large stack of final exams, when a former student walked in. With him was a lovely child, his three-year-old daughter. What a treat!  He was in one of the first classes I taught here, probably eight years ago.

corn plants at dawn in Nebraska

And it suddenly struck me that should any former students drop by after July 1, I will not be here to enjoy seeing them.

A benefit of staying

I have a colleague who has been at our university for thirty years now. He teaches the children of his former students. Given another five years, he could possibly teach the grandchildren of his former students. How cool is that?

And when they come to visit, they know he will be here, in the same building, in the same office, giving the same excellent education to their offspring that he provided for them so many years ago. It is a legacy and, these days, a rare and valuable gift.

Home is, indeed, where the heart rests

I value this colleague greatly. His choices have been different than my own, but his dedication to his students and his discipline is as strong as mine, if not stronger.

When we talk of my impending move, his eyes are a bit wistful, but we both know he would never want to leave this place. His roots are sunk deep into the soil of this Nebraska town. He knows the birds, the animals, the trees and grasses. His life is intertwined with the lives of the townspeople. His heart is here.

fields with church steeple in background

The nine years I have been here cannot compare. And that’s okay.

I admire my friend, and respect him, but I have no desire to live his life. You see, I have roots, too. Not in a place, but in a person.

Not in my husband, much as I love him, but in my God. Wherever I go, with my life’s companion or alone, my roots are deep in God, and in his love. So you see, for me also, what they say is true. Home is where the heart is.

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Which do you think is best–to move or to stay? Or some combination of the two?

Weigh in with your opinion in the comment box below! And whether you go or stay, God bless your journey.

Until tomorrow…
–Susan.

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Adventure in Plumbing–

Adventure comes in many disguises–today’s was disguised as clogged plumbing. I felt ashamed yesterday when I had to tell the young man painting my stairs not to use either of the two sinks in my basement. One was clogged and the other leaks. So today I decided to take home repair into my own hands and fix the sinks.  How hard could it be? 

Searching online

plumbing pipes

I searched “repair clogged sink” online to get advice.  Advertisements for plumbing companies abounded. At last I scrolled down far enough to find a video showing how to fix a clogged ink. Great! 

No, not great.

It demonstrated proper plunger technique. Another link showed how to pour  clog-busting liquid through standing water. It was time to change search terms. 

Eventually, searching “clean sink trap” yielded the information and assurance that I sought. It looked pretty simple. I gathered the tools needed and headed for the basement. 

Following directions

The directions I’d found were good. Number one was “remove clutter from under sink.” How did they know?

Ten minutes later, clutter was gone and I had channel-lock pliers in hand. (Called them by name–pretty cool, huh?) “Grasp the nut with pliers and loosen it.” That took a while since the directions didn’t say which way to turn.  

sink and faucet
Photo by Dan Smedley on Unsplash

Eventually I recalled “righty tighty; lefty loosey,” but the pipe was vertical. Do you look at it from the bottom or the top?  Answer:  From the top, even if that does mean you are pushing the handles of the pliers to your right… I learned that today! Finally both nuts were loose and I pulled the trap off the pipes above it.

Water cascaded out. The picture in the video had only shown a few drops falling into a towel beneath. I didn’t have a bucket handy, so I quickly emptied the trash container onto the floor and used that to catch the remainder of the water from the trap. Now my towel was soaked and I had half a trash basket full of water. And why didn’t the directions mention NOT to use a good towel?? 

Then the instructions said to stuff a rag in the open pipe to block sewer gas.  It would have been even better if I’d had the rag handy instead of having to go hunt one down. 

Temporary victory

Finally successful, I took the trap to the kitchen sink to clean it. Except it was clean. Even fairly shiny inside. Maybe the clog had disintegrated over time. 

Glad the sink would be functional again, I reattached the trap, checked for leaks, tightened seals and checked for leaks again. Success. Everything below the sink was nice and dry. I stood to wash my hands.
Water formed a stagnant pool inside the sink. 

I heard the sound of dripping water coming from the workroom on the other side of the wall. The sink there, apparently somehow connected to the one I’d plumbed, was full to the brim, with water dripping onto the floor. 

I grabbed my trusty channel-locks and cranked at the nuts holding the trap. They didn’t give, but water began to spurt out of the bottom of the U-bend. There was a hole rusted right through the pipe. Grabbing for another trash container, I dumped its contents on the workroom floor and stuck it under the squirting water. 

Final defeat

large green snake in tree
No, NOT this kind of snake…Photo by Alfonso Castro on Unsplash

When the water stopped dripping from the rusted trap, both sinks were empty.
I knew where the clog was not.
And I had two piles of trash on the floor to clean up. 

This was when I decided to cut my losses and close the curtain on my plumbing adventure for the day. 

But tomorrow… Maybe if I buy a pipe snake?


Have you had a home repair adventure lately? Share your story!