I never updated after our vacation.

We visited Massachusetts. We didn’t want to do Boston. That’s a trip in itself. Instead, we visited Walden Pond, where Henry David Thoreau wrote Walden. We listened to some of the audio book on the way up to New England. Meagan didn’t remember much of it, so it was a reintroduction for her.

“It’s amazing how much all this still applies today,” she said.

We decided to check out the pond on Wednesday, the day after we arrived, July 12. Not being up on my Thoreau, I didn’t realize it was his birthday. When the thunder threatened to kick us out of the lake, and then finally did, the park rangers invited us to celebrate his birthday party with them.

We decided to check it out. Lo and behold, it wasn’t just a normal birthday – it was his 200th birthday, the bicentennial. How cool is that!

We listened to the flutists play some music. Mr. Thoreau used to play the same music in his home to entertain himself. Not sure he played the flute, though.

Oh, and backing up, we loved the pond. It was all peaceful and not amazing. Just a normal lake with normal people swimming on a normal day, 200 years after the birth of a normal man who ended up writing a book about living a simple but anything but normal life.

How City BBQ did it right

I work at a cool company where the owner buys us lunch each Tuesday. And I’m the one who gets to decide what we get and pick it up.

This week, I chose City BBQ.
When I picked it up, they did something special, two things really:
First, they offered me a free beverage. I certainly took them up on this offer and got myself a sweet tea.
As I did, I thought, “That was pretty smart of them. In a moment, they’re going to have me sign a receipt that asks me if I’d like to leave a tip. With this fresh beverage in my hand, I probably will.”
But then guess what they did…
Second, they didn’t give me a line to add a tip when they had me sign the receipt. Now, some people might read this and think, “They left money on the table because they didn’t provide that line to add a tip.” And they would be right to assume that.
But I was so thankful City BBQ didn’t include that tip line. I felt like they’d given me that drink because they actually cared, not because they were trying to bribe me for a tip.
Isn’t that the definition of generosity, giving to those who can’t pay you back?
It’s so much easier to complain about the annoying policies, or just tip someone on that tip line, than to purposely call out the gestures that inspire me to smile, be thankful, and actually enjoy my experience with a restaurant like City BBQ.

Save what you save

I grew up a saver. I enjoy it. It rarely feels like a sacrifice. I usually enjoy the challenge. I actually get exited about it.

But it’s like the chocolate. I often find myself saving money but not saving the money.

I’ll get the cheaper can of soup, do without the soft drink, avoid the car payment.

But then I just go along my normal life and never see those savings in any tangible way. My bank account has more money, but I don’t notice that, not usually anyway.

What I’m learning now is that in order for saving to matter, I have to actually save the money somewhere.

  • When I get the cheaper can of soup, I need to pull the savings out, like with cash back at the register, and then put that money in an envelope to save toward a goal.
  • When I do without the soft drink, I need to stash a couple bucks from my wallet in that same envelope with the soup money.
  • When I avoid the car payment, I ought to set up a corresponding auto-payment toward a retirement account.

Otherwise, the savings feel like they filter off into nowhere.

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