Day 63 – Thankful for the Book Designing Your Life

This could end up being an incredibly huge, deep, and way too personal blog post…  But based on what time it is and the fact that I just got done grouting the bathroom I’ll cut to the chase. 🙂

There have been many business books that I’ve enjoyed, but it’s nice to find one that bridges between personal and business life.  That’s just what the book Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans did.


While it’d probably do the book more justice to copy and paste the summary I’ll give it a shot.  At the root of the book is a process to walk through your life and find ways to bring more happiness.  The ideas include reviewing how happy you are with a handful of aspects of your life, a tool to pay close attention to the types of activities that bring you the most joy, ways to look at alternate ways to get to your goals, and ways to keep developing yourself.  As I type this I realize that the previous sentence doesn’t make it sound very exciting, but the ideas have been bouncing around in my head for the past couple of months – so much so that I’m in the process of reading it again.

In a short period of time it has already brought me several A-Ha moments.  While I’ve just started actually going through the processes laid out in the book I’ve been able to see the world just a little bit differently.  As I’ve talked about being very calm and happy over the past week I’m realizing that there are many things that I’ve picked up from the book that are starting to sink in.

Whether it’s because of the ideas from the book or it’s just me living life that’s doing the trick, I’m feeling pretty damn good!  If you’d be interested in checking out the book you can find more info on it here.  Also, if you pick it up please let me know what you think.  I’d be happy to go out for a coffee and learn more about how to implement some of the ideas.


Day 62 – Thankful for Christmas Lights

Pulling into the driveway tonight I couldn’t help but smile as I saw the Christmas lights on our house.  There’s just something awesome and Christmas-ish about seeing the multicolored lights twinkling on the house.  And to think that I almost skipped them this year.

Becky had asked me a week or so ago when I was going to put the lights up and I just groaned.  Knowing the projects I already had on my plate it seemed like something that would get in my way.  Yeah, it’s always fun seeing them and picking them out, but there’s usually a handful of moments of stress and frustration.  And then there’s the taking them down, it can be a pain, especially in the cold.  So channeling my inner Grinch I said “I’ll only put them up if the boys ask, and I’m not going to remind them.”

Thinking I was in the clear, yesterday Dominic uttered the words I had been dreading…  “When are we putting up the Christmas lights?”  ARGH!!!  “Today Bud, let’s do it today.”  I groaned and loaded up the boys to make a trip to Menards to pick up some new lights to freshen things up a bit from last year.  Our neighbor Fred had put in a new projector style light that looks pretty cool so the boys and I decided to get one of those…  or maybe three. 🙂

Next thing I knew I was having a lot of fun picking out lights with the boys!  We went home and started putting the lights up and we had more fun.  I decided that putting the projectors in the ground wasn’t quite good enough so I built a box on a three foot stake for one and a stake and platform for another.  Dominic decided that we still needed to use some of our old lights so he did his best impression of Russ Griswald to my Clark.  He was up on the ladder and hanging lights while I figured out how to get power to the lights for him.

Realizing that we were missing some supplies (green and white paint to decorate the boxes, wire ties, and an adapter to cheat power to the third projector on the roof from lights Dominic hung) so Dominic and I headed to Menards again (any good project requires at least two or three trips to be completed, right?)  We finished things up with the new supplies and were in business.


After it was all said and done I had spent a pretty good chunk of the day working on our lights.  The thing that I was hoping to skip had left me feeling good and smiling.  I had a lot of fun with the boys, especially Dominic.  It was cool seeing how much fun he was having with this and I’m pretty sure that I have a partner in crime for years to come!  Kind of funny how sometimes there’s things that I don’t get fired up about for some reason, but once I get started it brings me great joy.  Every time I see our lights this year I’ll remember to keep an eye out for opportunities like this.


Day 61 – Thankful for Gifts that Keep Giving

Many years ago my brother and I started collecting baseball cards.  I still remember sifting through piles of 1986 Topps baseball cards while watching the Mets beat the Red Sox in ’86 World Series.  It was the first time that I really watched baseball and I loved it.  There was so much fun to be had sorting through cards.  Then I found out that there were Beckett price guide books released every year that updated us on what the value of my collection was.  That was obviously long before the internet and my appetite for instant gratification was satiated when I started getting the occasional copy of their monthly magazine.

Part of the fun was trying to put together a complete set, part of it was trying to get cards of my favorite player (pretty sure there were several Don Mattingly for Will Clark trades made back in the day).  Part of it was investing our relatively hard earned allowance dollars on packs of cards which we wee able to buy at Habel’s for only $0.45 per pack.  We couldn’t believe that our dad wasn’t impressed with our investment – Nick and I were going to be filthy rich off of these cards one day!  “But Dad, just look at how much the cards from 1952 are worth!!!”

Of all of the things that Nick and I did as kids, that was one that just kept going and going.  From baseball cards in the late 80’s to basketball and football cards in the early 90’s to hockey cards and comic cards it was a hobby that just stuck.  So many hours of fun looking at them, reading them, trying to find ways to get better ones, digging through piles when an error card was discovered, so many hours of enjoyment.  To this day Nick and I still will occasionally get each other packs and boxes of cards as gifts.

Here I am, many years later and I still have huge boxes of them buried downstairs.  I’m a bit of a packrat and I hesitate to throw something away…  Who knows when I might need it again?  Then a few seemingly random things kind of hit me from different angles.

I read an excellent book called Essentialism which was focused on cutting out the clutter in our lives.  It reminds me on a daily basis to pay attention to the things that I have around me that just don’t get used.

Due to a health issue with one of my favorite uncles I’ve been thinking a lot about my Aunts and Uncles (& other family members like Darren & Jane) and all of the fun times I’ve had with them over the years.  There are so many cool things about each of them that I can think back to and the memories bring me great joy.  As an example, my Uncle Frank and Aunt Andrea took Nick and I to a Brewer game as kids and I remember thinking that he must know some of the players with the way that he hollered to them…  and oddly enough, I remember getting mooned by an entire school bus on the way out of the parking lot!  There have been so many things and experiences my family has given me, I need to work harder on living up to their example.

Then Becky told me about how my nephews Nathan and Nicholas have started collecting football cards and how much fun they have with them.

All of these things kept bouncing around in my brain, and then BAM!!!  I don’t look at many of those old football cards anymore and my boys are more into other types of collectibles than football cards.  What the hell am I ever going to do with them?  How much fun would Nathan and Nicholas have going through those cards and finding some new treasures (and some old ones from back in the mid-80’s)?

As I started digging through my old cards to find a bunch to give them I was damn near giddy.  It was so much fun to see all of these cards again, to have so many memories brought back just by seeing the pictures.  Thinking of stories Nick and I used to make up about the players just based on the picture on the card made me smile and kept bringing back more memories.  Seeing the cards that were super expensive back in the day (over $1.00) and the cards that were insanely valuable (over $10.00) reminded me of how excited I was to pull them out of a fresh pack.  It was awesome!

What made it even more awesome was the reason I was doing it.  As I pulled some of the more crazy cards, some with pieces of a jersey, some made out of leather, one with an autograph) I was imaging just how ecstatic my nephews might be when they saw them.  I still remember the first time I opened an autograph card, my jaw dropped and I just sat in wild amazement for many minutes.  I was going through those cards in a childlike state of glee, enjoying the moment as if I were Nathan and Nicholas going through the cards myself.  It was AWESOME!!!

One other really cool thing happened along the way.  Dominic remembered that he had some football cards too and decided that he should give them to someone who would enjoy them more.  Then he dug up his cards, sorted them by team, put a rubber band around them, and added them to the pile for his cousins.  How awesome is that???

After I boxed them up I sent them up with Becky this past week so she could take them to the boys.  I kept smiling at random times during the week thinking about how happy they might be when they opened their new found treasures.  There were many of those smiles over the past few days.

And then today the gift that I had given gave me yet another gift back.  Becky’s sister sent Becky the following photo…


And then a couple of hours later this one…


How awesome is that?  There they were on the living floor, just like Nick and I were almost exactly thirty years ago sifting through cards that we had gotten from our relatives.  Sorting by team, sorting by set, sorting by year, examining each card and finding some that would be our treasures forever…  Just like when I first got them.

That’s when it hit me.  Here’s a gift that I was given by family many years ago, I enjoyed them when I got them, I enjoyed them throughout the years when I would stumble across them, I enjoyed finding the good ones to give away, and I enjoyed seeing how they are being enjoyed by others.  The gifts I was given have continued to keep on giving.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to help move them along to the next generation to enjoy, it has filled my heart with joy.


Day 60 – Thankful for a Very Calm and Relaxed Day

Ahh…  life is pretty awesome!

Ever since yoga on Wednesday I’ve continued to dive deeer and deeper into a beautiful state of calm.  Outside of a couple of hairy construction moments my blood pressure has been pretty low.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this chill while not on vacation for a long time!

As I try to figure out how I’ve gotten here and how to stay here I’ve done the mental check and I’ve been able to spend time with my favorite people: Becky, Dominic, Gavin, Mom (over the phone, but that counts), Dad, and ME!  It’s been a great mix of time with loved ones and time alone.  I’ve had time to think about work, I’ve had time to work with my hands.  I’ve worked on things that need to be done (tile), and I’ve worked on things that aren’t due for a long time (Cub Scouts boxes).  I’ve had a little down time to watch a movie and I’ve had time to be productive.  It’s been a pretty awesome few days.

So as we just about have a very late dinner (we hit Rotary lights after church tonight), tonight looks to me more of the same…  chillin’.  Life is pretty awesome right now and I am appreciative for that.


Day 59 -Thankful for a Project with the Old Man

Nothing like a good project to create an opportunity for excellent father and son time. While building and creating something alone has its time and place there is something special about building with someone else.  It is even better when it is doing something that has been a part of your relationship forever.  Today I had a wonderful opportunity to work with my dad as we build and then tiled our bathroom floor.

Having my dad here to help was a godsend.  In addition to bringing the tile saw he brought years of knowledge and experience that saved me from many a mistake…  kind of like the ones I made on my own that led to having to replace the tile in the first place.  An extra set of hands always helps a ton and we saved a lot of time by having him cut tile and I set it.  That in of itself would be worthy of being my blog topic today, but that’s not what I’m most thankful for today.

Working with him and spending time with him is why I’m thankful for projects like this.  In all honesty I could’ve struggled through it on my own and thought about going that route, but then I realized what an opportunity this was for the two of us to share time together.  It is also fitting because some of my favorite times with him involve building something, working on something, or cutting brush and trees in the woods.  Having those times together allow us the chance to both have quiet, to create something that would not have been there had we not willed it into being, and all the while have conversation.  The conversation has ranged from deep, complex, and spiritual to instructive and teaching to grade school humor.  In that balance we are able to communicate, be ourselves, and remember to not take ourselves too seriously.  It’s great!

It also reminds me to continue to find ways to bond with my boys.  Time with my dad is also time for me to “sharpen the saw” and learn to be a better dad.  It reminds me of how much I appreciate the time with him and helps remind me that my boys appreciate time with me, even if it isn’t always clearly visible.  I need to remember to keep finding way to connect with my boys so that when they or I need some father son  time we have already build bonds and have ways of connecting.  Maybe it’s projects, maybe it’s Scouts, maybe it’s running, or maybe it’s something  completely different.  Who knows?  What I do know is that it’s up to me to keep an eye open for it.

Today’s work was a huge physical success, just look today’s result compared to yesterday’s post:

The biggest success is something that you won’t see in the picture.  It was the smiles we both had on our faces as we worked together.  I’m very thankful for this project that I worked on with the Old Man.


Day 58 – Thankul for a Chill and Calm Day

This year’s Thanksgiving was pretty different than the ones I’m used to.  Instead of spending time at home with the family or heading out of town I stayed here.  Becky and I had a great morning of sleeping in, grabbing coffee, going for a walk and just chilling until she left for her parents’ house.

After Becky took off I got to work on the bathroom floor.  As I was tearing the flooring up it went pretty well.  There was only a couple of times when I got frustrated, and they really weren’t that bad.  While I wish I would’ve gotten a little further I’m pretty happy with the progress.

In between working and now chilling on the couch I’ve had the chance to FaceTime the boys, Becky, and her family, text my brother, and talk with both my mom and my dad.  I may be home alone, but I’ve had a great day and time with my loved ones.

While untraditional, this is pretty much the day I needed.  A chance to unwind, be productive, and still have time with family.  It was a great calm and chill day…  and for that I am grateful!


Day 57 – Thankful for Starting a Long Weekend With Becky & Yoga

Ahh…  long weekend ahead of me.  Fun project to work on.  Able to start and finish something.  Planning on spending time alone, time with my dad, and time with my family.  Sounds pretty awesome, right?

The only way it could get more awesome is by starting the long weekend with Becky and yoga!

It was incredibly peaceful, relaxing and came with a great workout too.  Throw in being able to chill alone with Becky while the boys are up north and that is one awesome start to the weekend!


Day 56 – Thankful for the Little Reminders that the Boys Love Me

Becky took the boys up north to hunt with their grandpa and cousins for the next few days.  On the way up I was on the phone with Becky and she filled me in that Gavin left a present for me on the kitchen table.  

When I got home this is what I saw on the table:

Turns out that in school today they made these turkeys to put on their Thanksgiving table.  Becky told Gavin that we could take it up to her parents’ house for Thanksgiving, but Gavin decided that he wanted to leave it here for me because I’ll be home alone for Thanksgiving night.  

While Becky and the boys will be up north for Thanksgiving I’m staying home to work on re-doing our bathroom floor and my dad is coming down to help Friday morning.  Becky isn’t heading up until after lunch on Thursday, so I’ll only be alone for less than 24 hours.  That being said, Gavin was still nervous about me being alone so he wanted to make sure I had company.  (Thanks again for the offer to head to your house Kathy!)

Sometimes the little guy drives me nuts and makes me think that he only things of himself, but there are times and little moments like this when I can clearly see how much he loves and cares about me…  and that puts a smile on my face.


Day 55 – Thankful for an Awesome Earworm

ear·worm – ˈi(ə)rˌwərm/ – noun – informal – a catchy song or tune that runs continually through a person’s mind

Last week Wednesday I heard a song for the first time that’s been stuck in my head ever since.  The video is fantastic and there’s an incredible message in it.  Check it out here:

During the end of yoga I can usually get to a fleeting moment of silence and peace in my mind.  This Saturday as I laid with my eyes closed and slowly relaxing all I could hear is this song repeating in my head, and I loved every note of it.

I played it for the boys and they enjoyed it, I’m sure one day they’ll get it.  In the meantime, I’m glad it’s stuck in my head!

The Nights – Avicii


Hey, once upon a younger year

When all our shadows disappeared

The animals inside came out to play

Hey, when face to face with all our fears

Learned our lessons through the tears

Made memories we knew would never fade
One day my father—he told me,

“Son, don’t let it slip away”

He took me in his arms, I heard him say,

“When you get older

Your wild life will live for younger days

Think of me if ever you’re afraid.”
He said, “One day you’ll leave this world behind

So live a life you will remember.”

My father told me when I was just a child

These are the nights that never die

My father told me

When thunder clouds start pouring down

Light a fire they can’t put out

Carve your name into those shinning stars

He said, “Go venture far beyond the shores.

Don’t forsake this life of yours.

I’ll guide you home no matter where you are.”
One day my father—he told me,

“Son, don’t let it slip away.”

When I was just a kid I heard him say,

“When you get older

Your wild life will live for younger days

Think of me if ever you’re afraid.”
He said, “One day you’ll leave this world behind

So live a life you will remember.”

My father told me when I was just a child

These are the nights that never die

My father told me

These are the nights that never die

My father told me
Songwriters: Ash Poumouri / John Feldman / Gabriel Budin-Smithers / Tim Berling / Jordan Matthew Suecof / Nicholas Michael Furlong

The Nights lyrics © Peermusic Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Day 54 – Thankful for Cub Scout Hikes in Late November

I know, it’s been a bit of a broken record lately, but how awesome is this weather?  Seriously, this has to be one of my favorite Novembers ever!

Today we were out at Hixon Forest hiking for Cub Scouts.  It was so nice that by the time we got to the top of the bluffs I had already taken my jacket off.  As per the norm for events like this I had a lot of fun.  It was so relaxing to go for a nice walk with the boys.  

A good time was had by all, the fresh air felt amazing, and it’s always nice to wrap up a weekend with a little active time.