Today has totally felt like a pre-COVID Sunday. Outside of a quick run into Kwik Trip and seeing everyone in masks there really was no specter of a world wide pandemic anywhe
We slept in a little – crazy how 8am is sleeping in. My twe
Not too long ago I mentioned how much I was appreciating a very slow and methodical re-read of a great book. I’ve been re-reading Man’s Search for Meaning in this manner. With highlighter in hand I’m finding additional thoughts and nuggets of information I either missed or didn’t fully “get” in my first reading.
With all going on around us the world would most likely be a much better place if everyone took time to read this classic. There is so much we can learn from Frankl’s insight.
It’s been an awesome weekend and I’m pumped for another great week ahead. I know it won’t be perfect or my ideal, but I’m going to choose to find reasons to be thankful for each moment, each blessing, each challenge, and each breath. Each breath I take is one in which I have the opportunity to choose my attitude, my action, and my response to the world around me.
Becky had a great idea for us this morning. When we left the house for our bike ride we were both caught a little off guard by the very dark clouds roiling in the west. As luck would have it neither of us happened to look that direction until we were pedaling down our street. I pulled up the weather quick, confirmed what we were seeing, and decided to pedal around the island instead of hitting the trails. We had initially planned on hitting the trails as we both prefer the quiet of the woods, but we rolled with what life was throwing our way.
The first five miles went well and the clouds were moving much more slowly than expected. Balancing that with the flash of lightning in the sky we opted to go a ways further and biked along streets with tall trees. By the time we go to the north end of the island we did a quick U turn and went back to deck that overlooks Lake Onalaska. The storm clouds looming in front of us changed our plans in a frustrating way. In spite of that, they had a spectacular beauty to them. We paused and appreciated the storm, the very thing that had changed our plans. We were thankful to take a moment to breathe in the pre-rain air, to watch the mercurial shimmer of the silvery water, and to be thankful for the moment. It was not where we planned to be but we appreciated the fact that we were there, alive, and together, in that moment.
Off we went heading to the south end of the island. We almost bumped into each other (100% my fault) and we laughed it off. We had great conversation about important and meaningful things as well as nothing at all. We enjoyed the ride.
There was a little drizzle and we had to make a choice. Stay dry and head home or get some extra miles in like we wanted and risk getting wet. We measured the risk and knew the only thing to fear was wet clothes so we opted for more miles. Right about the time we hit the point of no return the skies opened up and dumped on us. We both laughed it off as I told Becky we should have pina coladas tonight as we obviously both liked getting caught in the rain. You’re welcome for the ear worm 😉 We assessed the risk, chose the right option for us, and enjoyed it even when it didn’t go as expected.
By the time we got home the rain had relented but our clothes were still soggy. Regardless of the cold damp shorts I was now wearing I was smiling from ear to ear. It was a wonderful start to our day and it really set the tone for the next twelve hours or so.
Throughout the day it got me thinking and I couldn’t help but see the similarities between this and life, between the ride and living in Covid times. We rolled with the challenges life presented us. We were thankful for the present. We found beauty in the changes we had to make. We found that we always had the ability to choose our attitude. We chose optimism, positivity, and gratitude. We made the decision to find beauty in the challenge. Gratitude… what a difference it makes.
All morning long there’s been another song stuck in my head – Superheroes by The Script.
When you’ve been fighting for it all your life
You’ve been struggling to make things right
That’s how a superhero learns to fly
Every day, every hour, turn the pain into power
The Script, Superheroes
For sure, COVID sucks for many reasons. We can’t change that. What we can do is find ways to grow through this, find reasons to be grateful, and find ways to adapt. COVID can cause challenges, but it is we who choose how we live through this. I choose life. I choose gratitude. I am finding ways to become better/stronger/more joyful/more positive through this challenging time.
What’s your choice? How will you choose to live? What attitude will you choose?
Camp Grandpa has wrapped up for the 2020 season. Another week of hanging out with cousins at Grandma and Grandpa’s house is in the books. As has been the case each year before it the boys had a total blast!
On the car ride home they were both excited to share all of the details of the fun they had. Learning about all their adventures and hearing the excitement in their voice was priceless. Once we got home we took the dogs for a walk and Gavin went into even more complete detail about all the action. It is so easy to see why it is always one of their favorite weeks of the year and why they are looking forward to the next one the same night the most recent one is complete.
There are so many reasons I am thankful for hearing about their Camp Grandpa adventures. Of course I love hearing that my boys are having fun, that one’s pretty obvious.
I’m also thankful for hearing these stories as I know they are memories they’ll never forget. Eating a crayfish from the river. Marshmallow face burns (Dominic is okay). Grandpa doing flips off the dock. Those memories and so many others are priceless. I’m thankful for hearing they are creating those awesome memories and enjoying those experiences as that’s what life is really all about. At the end of the day stuff comes and goes. Our memories and experiences can never be taken away. They are the true treasures in life.
Why am I so passionate about this? When they kept telling me their stories I kept thinking back to the memories made when I hung out with my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins each summer. So many awesome experiences and memories.
Listening to Brewers baseball on the radio in a screen porch eating butter pecan ice cream under colorful flower shaped patio lights while going in and out to catch fireflies that would never survive the ride back “up north” and Grandma having to remind me to close the screen door virtually each time I opened it (she’s got to laugh each time Gavin & Dominic don’t close it at home). Staying up all night playing video games. Seeing how quickly I can pound a can of warm diet Dr Pepper over and over again. Watching late night cable karate movies. Making claymation and live action movies. Mini golfing.
So many memories, it seems like a lifetime full in just a short period each summer while I was growing up. Each story they told got my brain thinking back to another great memory. Every time that happened I smiled wider as I realized with hope that they will have that same magic moment when they pick up their kids from spending time with us each summer sometime long down the road.
I am so grateful for this time they have with family to create more of those memories for themselves. Thank you boys for sharing all of your stories of your time up north, they warm my heart!
This morning I was tired and went back to bed after Becky woke me up at 4:25am. I laid there for a short while and realized I was wasting my life one moment at a time as long as I stay in bed.
Got up, got dressed, and got on my bike. I attached my Bluetooth speaker to listen to an audiobook but instead opted for some great music. It became evident I was going to need some “pump up” music to get me going. Next thing I knew I was pedaling with the “Imagine Dragons” Pandora station keeping me going.
I didn’t have a plan, a goal, or even a direction. All I wanted to do was go for a ride and get some exercise. And then I saw it. Grandad Bluff. It’s been a while since I last biked up the 500+ foot tall bluff. In that moment I now had a plan.
A little voice in my head asked me why would I want to try it? It’s been too long. You’re not in shape. It’s hot and sticky out. There were a few other weak and halfhearted excuses wrapped up as questions.
“Because I can.” That was my three word answer to myself as I pedaled even more rapidly. The goal was clear, it was attainable, and I was on my way.
The first fifty feet went really well… I had momentum on my side as I started up. Very quickly I seemingly hit a wall and progress was slowed to almost a stop. I decided that I wasn’t going to stop to rest or get off my bike. This gave a combination of a mini adrenaline rush followed by a quick “how the hell am I going to pull this off?” I dropped all the way down in my gears and just focused on each pedal stroke. I continued to move forward and upward.
Whatever It Takes by Imagine Dragons popped up on Pandora and fueled me further up the hill. Talk about lyrics that were spot on! The next song was something from the same vein. Somehow the music gods knew what I needed and they had my back.
By the time I got to the top I was dripping in sweat (combo of hot weather and a very physical workout). I paused to FaceTime Becky to let her know I wasn’t going to be home as early as I’d planned and to show her the view. It was so peaceful chilling up there for a moment. And then I was off and back on my way home.
Today I’m thankful for realizing I was about to waste part of a marble. I realized, in time, that I was about to laze around instead of making something of the moment I had.
I’m also thankful for that voice in my head that seems to often push me forward, especially when I want to do something ridiculous; “Because I can.” That voice has yet to lead me astray.
Hearing the right music at the right time is something I’m also grateful for. I’m continually amazed at the power of music to help me push through the discomfort and fuel me to finish what I set out to do.
And to think, I almost slept through it all this morning. What a waste that would have been.
Within minutes of wrapping up work for the day Becky and I were out of the house and on our way to our date. She’d had the great idea to rent a couple of kayaks and send some time paddling on the river.
Talk about peaceful! There was just enough wind to keep the sun’s heat down while not making it difficult to paddle. Once we got back in the sloughs it was chill and peaceful. Having quiet time to the two of us like that outside felt incredible.
It was funny that just yesterday I talked about the dogs enjoying the moment and simple things as we were in the same boat today. Totally chill. No agenda. No destination. Just floating, paddling, and taking in the moment. Watching the brightly colored damsel flies. Seeing huge turtles sunning themselves on logs. Soaking in the sunlight. Perfect chillness. Hanging out with Becky doing the things we both enjoy outside.
To make the night even better Becky had already made supper this morning so we didn’t have to cook when we got home. Now it’s time for blogging, then ice cream, and then sleep by 9pm. Sounds like the perfect date night to me!
Two nights ago was yoga. Last night we did a lot of walking. Tonight we were kayaking. I’m so thankful for these moments we have without the boys as they help me see that life will be different but still wonderful once the boys are grown and out of the house. I won’t wish that time away, and it’s much easier knowing we’ll have lots to keep ourselves busy once we’re empty nesters. Glimpses into the future like this really help me stay in the present. I know, it sounds weird, but I think you get what I mean.
Our two dogs are getting older and struggle a bit more with the heat and humidity than they used to. They both can easily run 4+ miles when the weather is below 75 and the humidity is next to nothing. Hot stretches like this are tough for them. They want to get outside for their runs and walks but the weather just isn’t good for them.
We waited until it was a little later in the evening and the shadows had stretched across most of the road tonight. The temperature had dropped just enough that we were able to take them for a short walk. Becky still had to bring a water bottle for Skywalker due to the heat. It was almost empty by the time we got back to the house.
There were a couple of life lessons I was reminded of when we walked the girls tonight. Kind of funny how we can learn from so many different sources, isn’t it? Here’s what I picked up on from LuLu and Skywalker tonight:
Live life in the present. At no point on the walk did the smiles ever leave their faces. They were happy, enjoying the moment and 100% present on the walk. No stress or nervousness, only joy in the present.
Some of simplest things in life are the best. All we did was go for a walk and they were so excited you’d think they found out Christmas came 6 times this month! As soon as they knew what was going on they were bouncing and whining excitedly. Over what? A walk. No destination. No goal. Just simple physical activity outside. That’s it. Simple is amazing.
We can learn to do almost anything. Does not having lips that can make an “O” stop Skywalker from drinking out of a water bottle? Nope! She and Becky found a way for her to get the water she needs to cool her down. It’s a little sloppy, but it works.
Smile when it’s over because you enjoyed the time you had. Don’t worry about wanting more. Part of what I picked up on tonight was how they were positively glowing when we got home. They didn’t whine of beg for more. They enjoyed what they had, smiled, and seemed very grateful for the experience. Sometimes instead of looking ahead to what’s next I need to pause and remind myself to appreciate what I’ve just had. Savor it for a while before wanting more.
I’m so happy we took the girls for a walk tonight. I’m not sure who got more out of kit, me, them, or all of us. Regardless, I’m grateful for the life lessons in joy I was able to learn from them.
This past weekend a friend of mine mentioned that they would gladly sacrifice this summer if it helped get us through 2020. I laughed it off, but the more I thought about it I couldn’t help but realize how much I disagree with the comment. For clarity, I don’t blame them in the least for saying it, they put to words something I’ve caught myself thinking once in a while. Over the past few days I’ve had a chance to let it sink in and I’ve realized that when I catch myself thinking that way I’m very much off the path I want to be on.
Have you ever heard of the two containers of marbles some people keep in their closet? They start with one empty container and one filled with the number of marbles equal to number of days of the average lifespan minus the days they’ve already lived. Each day you move one marble from the full container to the empty one. It is a very clear representation of time. Is it perfect? Of course not, but the symbolism is incredibly powerful. That example to tracking time is what caught in my head as I thought of my friend’s comment.
2020 has been a chaotic year to say the least. Where do you even start with all of the ways our lives have been impacted? I’m still waiting for dinosaurs or Sasquatches in the fall followed by aliens in the winter. Just kidding, kinda. 😉 This year hasn’t been an easy one for anyone, has it? Who wouldn’t want to find a way to hit the reset button like on my old Nintendo and start it all over? If I’m not careful I can quickly find myself wishing 2020 away… and that’s the issue.
2020 is happening, period. There is nothing we can do to stop it. We can’t skip ahead, we can’t live our lives for the future. We must live right now in this very moment. Once the world gets back to normal there’s not suddenly going to be a fresh 365 marbles dumped into our containers. As each of these days fade into night that’s 24 less hours we will have on this Earth. Yes, I know it can sound morbid, but it’s something I remind myself often – each moment I life is one moment closer to my death. I must remember to live my life with that in mind and with the gratitude for the present constantly.
We only get so much time, but thank goodness we have the ability to make a choice with how we live it. We can choose to be thankful for being alive. Even in 2020! How fortunate we are to be breathing fresh air? Things may not be as planned, but we’re still alive. We can choose gratitude for all that we have in our lives. We can choose to appreciate the gift of life in each and every moment. We can choose to live a live of love for our fellow human. We can choose to take the seemingly little actions to live into the way we wish the world would be. Regardless of anything going on around us we choose our attitude and our actions – what a gift that is! Each moment we are alive we can make a difference and improve the lives of others.
If I choose to spend my time living for “normal again” or for COVID to be over or for people to treat everyone as they would treat themselves I miss my opportunity to live in the present. I choose to succumb to frustration and a victim mentality versus living a live of gratitude and abundance.
At the end of the day 2020 is going to happen whether I want it to or not. 366 marbles will be gone that I’ll never get back. I’d rather live my life in a way in which I find ways to appreciate each and every single one of those marbles, even if they are cracked and maybe even cut my fingers. They are each beautiful and the opportunity they provide me to live into being the person I am meant to be is totally priceless. Whenever the thought of hitting fast forward on the rest of the year passes my brain I’ll think back to the jar of marbles and remember to appreciate each one of them.
This one seems pretty obvious doesn’t it? No tricks up my sleeve or crazy deep thoughts on this one, just the straightforward gratitude of having a bonus day.
It’s funny how much more productive we can be with a full day off. When I think about it of course I have the overwhelming majority of the day to myself on a work day, but the time doesn’t quite flow the same way before and afterwards. The off time isn’t quite as productive as when I have the full day off to focus.
Having a bonus day attached to the weekend is something I’m always thankful for. It’s a full extra day, and it often feels like two or more days depending on what I’m focused on.
This weekend that meant I had extra time to spend on the over with the family, to go for a long bike ride, to head to church, to work on the last few parts of the deck, to teach Gavin how to change a doorknob. All of those things AND then add an extra day! How awesome is that?
Today most of the day was spent driving, but even then I’m thankful for doing it in a three day weekend. I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish nearly half of what I wanted to while also enjoying more than my fair share of relaxing time had this been the normal two day weekend.
The quote from a handful of days ago was “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Maybe it should be this instead: “Gratitude leads to abundance. Abundance leads to giving. Giving leads to joy.” Thoughts?
Tonight was the first night I was able to head back to our regular church in a few months. It had opened a few weeks ago, but due to schedules and timing I wasn’t able to join the family for mass until today.
There was so much that was different – masks, sanitizer, being ushered to seats, sitting far away from others, no singing, and some more subtle changes. I still remember Father Mark telling us way back in the day how we need to sit closer together and slide to the middle of the pews instead of hugging the aisles – what a change today was!
While the changes were many the rest was exactly the same. It was a place to stop and think, to reflect, to pray, and to be thankful. Sitting in the pew listening to the start of church left my eyes watering a bit as it felt so right in spite fo being so different. I had the words of Father Dodge from a sermon a couple of weeks ago in my head talking about fear distracting us from God. There were changes all around, but the focus wasn’t on them, it was on the “why” we were all together in the building. It felt like home.
Throughout the service I kept thinking about all that I am grateful for. Seeing the guy who looks like and reminds me of Dad. Mary Ellen playing piano with her passionate gusto. Father Dodge cracking a joke or two while simultaneously making sure everything goes as planned. Hearing other people say the Lord’s Prayer and the Nicene Creed. Taking time to kneel and look up to the statue of Jesus. Being there with my family.
My mind also wandered to so many things outside of the four wall of church itself. My family and I are healthy. We live in a free society. We are able to meet at church. The time we’ve spent as a family together. The opportunity to find beauty in a challenge. The ability to find ways to be joyful and love others even during difficult situations.
As my mind wandered on these thoughts I was drawn more and more to the concept that’s been on my mind much of this week. Gratitude leads to an abundance mindset. When we take time to be thankful for all the blessings in our lives – even the challenges – we have the opportunity to choose our attitude and find a way to be thankful for even the most difficult times.
When we consciously choose gratitude we start to see everything around us as it should be, a blessing. We’re fortunate to still be alive. We’re fortunate to be going through this challenge. We’re fortunate to be able to have the ability to choose gratitude. We’re fortunate to have existed.
When we see everything as a blessing we see only opportunity. Some blessings may be very easy to see, others may take some time. Regardless, we know that with the right mindset even the most difficult of challenges will ultimately make us stronger and we can learn from them. Hence, there are only positive opportunities. There is only abundance.
Earlier this week I quoted Yoda: “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” This quote is spot on, but it points in a direction opposite of where I prefer to focus.
Try this one on for size: “Gratitude leads to abundance. Abundance leads to giving. Giving leads to joy.”
I almost started to change it because I started to think out love for others should be listed in that thought process. After thinking about it, that is very much what is at the core of all of it. Love is another example of something to be thankful for, find abundance of, and to ultimately give. Thoughts?
Sometimes writing in the morning just seems to fit the day. One of the parts of blogging about gratitude daily is that it causes me to spend much of my day with a different level of awareness, rather a hypersensitivity, of all the blessings around me. When I wait until the end of the day I’ve had the opportunity to review almost the entire day and have more material to work with.
Writing in the morning is different. There’s a danger in doing so as I may miss something or not pay as much attention with an eye to gratitude. I’m hedging my bet when I write early, what if something really awesome happens afterwards? What if I have some crazy insight I want to save? Hello Mr. Scarcity Mindset, please exit my brain. Of course I could always write a second post for the day, there’s no rule that says I can’t. That’s choosing the right mindset, abundance.
What’s interesting is that when I write in the morning I often make a little extra space for my thoughts to ferment. There’s no pressure, no deadline; self imposed or otherwise. Sometimes when I write at night I have to force it a bit which also doesn’t quite seem right. If you’ve read my blog often you’ve most likely developed an eye for those posts. They’re just not quite the same as the others. When I write in the morning my mind is writing when it feels ready, not because it has to. The thoughts are fresh in my head and are ready to appear right away. Something about that even feels a little more honest at times as there’s zero opportunity to filter the thought. Regardless, it’s liberating and my brain is free to play with thoughts the rest of the day.
One of the things that hit me this morning is how thankful I am to be a morning person. Today was by far the latest I’ve slept in all week (5:55am). Becky and I already got in a bike ride AND a run. Quick side note, this was the first time we ever tried a little bit of the feel of going from a bike ride to transitioning into a run. That was WILD!!! We were all packed up and on our way out to our boat by 9:05. I love having the opportunity to head out and get moving while much of the world sleeps.
What got my brain rolling with gratitude this morning was getting out on the water early this morning. As of this moment we still have our beach to ourselves. There are few boats on the water. It’s totally peaceful. Ahh… chill time. I’m always thankful for that, for opening space to think, read, chill, and spend time with family. Feels amazing!