Why it’s important to be impractical

This text from Daughter Summer a couple weeks ago: “I’m playing around with the idea of going to an adoption conference in Seattle. I was wondering if you’d be available to meet me there and hang out.”

A twelve-hour, round-trip drive — alone — over mountain passes to Seattle from Oregon — in winter — is probably a little on the impractical side.


Taking the ferry  from Seattle to Bainbridge Island

But I can think of at least 5 reasons to be impractical:

1. Children get rescued when practicality is set aside. Daughter Summer is in Seattle attending a conference designed for adoptive and foster parents who care for orphaned and vulnerable children. There were dozens of break-out sessions with topics such as, “The Roles of Trauma on Brains, Bonds, and Behavior”, “Anxiety and PTSD in Children”, and “Transracial Adoption: What You Need to Know.”

When SIL Josh and Daughter Summer added three children to their family last June, it wasn’t all that practical. Three children from Uganda who didn’t speak English. Three children with trauma in their past. Think of the workload. The cost of food and medical stuff; of clothes and shoes; the cost of participating in sports and activities; heck, even the cost of laundry detergent. Nothing practical in any of that.


2. Memories are made when we venture out. It would have been less risky to stay home this weekend. But had I stayed home, there would be no memory of doing girl stuff with my daughter. Browsing through Churchmouse Yarns & Teas on Bainbridge Island. Taking photos of wind blowing sea gulls across Puget Sound. Enjoying tea and crumpets in Pike’s Place Market.


Tea and crumpets in Pike’s Place Market

3. Horizons are conquered when we stretch outside ourselves. I think this one is particularly important for people who find themselves single again. As in, widowed. Yes, it’s important for couples and families to have their horizons stretched. But setting off on a road trip as a family isn’t quite as challenging—and therefore horizon-stretching—as doing it alone. Go ahead. Conquer your fears. Try things alone and see how brave you really really are.

4. Meaning can come from ignoring comfort zones. When Hubby was diagnosed with terminal cancer, it wasn’t very practical to establish a non-profit, write for grant funding, book speaking engagements, and travel and speak while still holding down day jobs. But I can’t tell you how encouraging it was to Hubby to be able to encourage other people dealing with this disease.

5. Life gets lived by signing up for the impractical. Hubby and I had hiked the Oregon Cascades, the Tetons in Wyoming, the Colorado Rockies. Next mountain range: Swiss Alps. It wasn’t all that practical to have this dream, especially when one of us had cancer. We started saving; Hubby got his passport; I got mine renewed. And then we ran out of time. But I went on a walking tour of Switzerland last fall. In honor of Hubby’s birthday and our anniversary. And I met 23 amazingly fun and adventurous new friends as we hiked in the Alps, walked through forests and around lakes, trekked through vineyards and small villages. And life was lived.

There are dozens of impractical things that need to be attempted. Here’s a short list to incite you to get your brainstorm on:

Foster or adopt a child who needs a loving home.

Write a book; seek to get it published.

Enroll in grad school, even if it’s later in life.

Design a beautiful and relaxing space in your backyard; invite people over to sit in your stress-free zone.

Take an Alaskan cruise. Or a Swiss walking tour (highly recommended).

Join that kayaking meet-up group.

Purchase that beautiful old upright piano and sign up for piano lessons.

Invent a better way to dispense laundry detergent.

I hope I always walk this talk of getting off the couch, meeting new people, broadening my horizons. I hope I continue being impractical for all the right reasons.

What about you? What do you want to experience? How can you make your corner of the world better for others? How can you add more impracticality to your life?

P.S. If you found this post helpful or inspiring, please share, tweet or pin!


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  1. Kathy Ward

    Love this, Marlys! How lovely that you stretch yourself and then challenge us to do the same!

  2. Sharon Brorson

    Marlys, I always enjoy your writing, insights and observations on daily life. I also think you are “most adventurous” to drive to Seattle (solo) and deal with “all that traffic”. But your time with Summer, food/drink and scenery were all certainly well worth the trip. Have you recovered…yet? God certainly was smiling on your visit to Seattle….sunshine and blue skies…fabulous!
    By the way I am working on how to dispense laundry detergent in a better way.

  3. Nasus

    Love you and your always bright, appreciative, thankful, creative thoughts! I’m so glad that it worked for Summer to be able to travel so far from home and for her precious mom to be able to be with her! Thanking God for you and your family and asking Him to continue to bless and to guide each of you!

  4. Wendy

    Beautiful as always! I am getting so excited to have you as our keynote speaker for DEFEATcancer in April! Thank you for being so candid & sharing your story. I always feel inspired.

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