Day 331 – Thankful for Remembering Connectedness

This morning I woke up early and went for a run.  After a shower and getting ready for the day I spent almost the entirety of the next fifteen hours with other people.  Alone for but a short period of time, and then with other people for the rest of the day, and now alone to write today’s blog.

The funny thing is that I really like my time alone.  It gives me energy, I re-charge, I think, I relax, and I chill.  Becky knows when I’ve hit my limit on “people time” because I’ll start to get crabby and just need some time to myself.  That said, it’s also so easy to slip into too much alone time.  I find myself sometimes leaning to that side a little too much and there are times when I’m glad that life nudges me in the direction of more time with people.  Really, in a nutshell, that’s what I’m thankful for today, those nudges that remind me to stay connected.

Without getting into a debate about the entire story of Chris McCandless (read Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer), there was a comment that he made that makes a lot of sense to me on a day like today…

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Today I was reminded about this on many occasions.  Our training day was great and there were so many opportunities to connect with others in the class, the trainers, and other people in OKC that I only see every so often.  There was a moment to share my happiness with a team for hitting a goal for a second straight week.  I was able to connect with a teammate who’d been through this training before and we shared our experiences.  Becky and I were able to at least trade a handful of texts with each other throughout the day.  We had an excellent dinner with several of my fellow trainees and one of our founders, a meal in which we learned more about each other.  We took time to share where we came from, how we got here, and learn more about each others’ purpose.  There was so much connectedness and joy.

On the ride home I sat in the way back of the van, thinking that I’d like to have a little quiet and type my blog.  Fortunately, my friend Adam asked me a question about my blog and we started talking.  At one point he apologized and said he’d be quiet so I could type, but I closed up my laptop.  Where I needed to be in that moment was talking with him, connecting.  It was great!  While he was asking questions about this blog and gratitude I’m feeling like I got more out of the conversation being able to think and share why this is so important to me and my happiness.

Once I got back to the hotel I headed up to my room to type and then remembered that I had missed a call from my brother Nick earlier in the day.  I knew that if I called him I would probably be too tired to run in the morning so I shot him a text instead.  Shortly afterwards I thought of how much I would’ve liked to talk with my dad more and wished I’d taken the opportunity to more often.  With that in mind I called Nick and we shot the bull for a good 30+ minutes.  The conversation was mainly focused on laughing and TV, but there were also a couple of things we both needed to talk about that were more serious.  It was great to have that extra conversation time with him, to connect with him.

Now as I blog I’m finally alone.  As I think about it my day was so enriched by the connections that I had with other people today.  Yes, I’m going to need some quiet and alone time soon, but there will be time for that at some point.  The joy that I have today has come from being connected with others.

Thanks!!!

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Day 330 – Thankful for the Ability of Nature to Humble, Connect Us, and Create Joy

I’ve mentioned before that there are often days in which I struggle to focus on one thing to be thankful for, there are so many to choose from.  The funny thing is that often the unrecognized gratitudes seem to start to bubble up and ferment in my brain.  They blend with one another, share interesting connections, and create something even more beautiful to be thankful for.

Yesterday many of us paused to enjoy the eclipse.  Gavin got to see it for his birthday so he was pretty pumped up.  Our neighbors came over and joined Becky and the boys to enjoy the show.  My experience was a little different as I was flying as it started.  Due to a delay it looked like I was going to miss it, but I was happy for Gavin (and Becky & Dominic) and I was able to enjoy the picture of the boys sitting out in the sun seeing this phenomenon.  My disappointment was displaced by my joy for my family’s joy.

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As luck would have it the airplane touched down earlier than expected and as I walked out of the airport with luggage in hand I was able to catch it one minute before it hit the peak in OKC.  It was awesome!  As I paused for a moment I saw many people looking a little disappointed…  I didn’t get it until I realized that they didn’t have the eclipse glasses so I started passing mine around to others.  Seeing their smiles and awe inspired by nature put an even bigger smile on my face.  It was pretty neat, there were many people all doing the same thing, all helping out their fellow man.  We were all connected, all enjoying the same incredible light show that God was putting on for us.

Eventually I made my way to the cab and got in for my ride to Express HQ.  The driver and I immediately started talking about how awesome the event was, how beautiful it was, and then we both just paused…  a thought hit me like a ton of bricks and I immediately shared it with the driver.

“How awesome is it that right now, in this moment, we’re all one people enjoying something incredible, something so much bigger than us.  Race, religion, politics, none of it matters to anyone at this moment.  We’re all just people enjoying the presence of something greater than any and all of us…  How awesome is this moment?”

We jumped into conversation and were immediately both on the same page.  He started telling me about his grandson in Atlanta that wants to be an astronaut, I shared stories about my boys.  We talked about family.  We talked about our faiths.  We talked about values.  As we kept talking I just smiled, it was like I was talking to someone who could have been my dad.  Nothing was off limits, we were openly sharing many things, helping each other, sharing joy.  It was incredible and by far and away the best cab ride I’ve ever had.

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On Facebook today the old video of Becky and I hiking on the glacier in Canada popped up from this date six years ago.  During a break in training I put on my headphones and watched it.  First I was awed by the size and beauty of what we had seen, then I was stopped in my tracks by the smiles on everyone’s face.  Everyone was experiencing incredibly joy and happiness.  We were a bunch of strangers all mixed together enjoying time and stories with each other all while taking in the presence of something bigger, greater, and more beautiful than ourselves.  The best part is that about seven minutes in there is a smile that Becky flashes a couple of times as she turns to take it all in…  and that’s the smile that I think of when I think of her at her most happy.  It’s an incredible smile to behold and when my number’s punched that will without a doubt be the last image I see.  It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life.

All of these thoughts started to blend and helped me start thinking about something.  How awesome is it that the natural world can provide so much joy to so many through connecting us while humbling us?  Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

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Maybe that’s why I love our nature based vacations so much, there’s this feeling of being completely humbled.  In the bigger picture, with different perspective, I am but one of seven billion.  I am here for but a flash compared to the Earth.  I am tiny, small, and insignificant in that moment.  I am humbled.  To be clear, this isn’t some call for help or lack of confidence or anything like that, it’s purely a dose of reality that maybe I’m not as singularly important as I often think myself to be.  My problems are bigger than anyone else’s, my successes are grander than anyone else’s…  you get my drift.  These experiences crush those thoughts so quickly.

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The second half of why I enjoy vacations is the interconnectedness.  In our humbled state while enjoying this beauty and greatness of the world around us we aren’t black or white, christian or muslim, male or female, better or lesser.  We’re all the same.  We’re all one of seven billion.  We’re all human.  I think of our vacations (especially in Banff due to the video) and realize that almost everyone on the trails were smiling.  We were all experiencing great joy, and a lot of it had to do with how much more willing we were to talk with each other, start conversation, help each other see things we may have missed.  We help each other, we enjoy nature with each other, and we are one.  What a feeling!

As I wrap it up, I’m so thankful for the ability of nature to humble us, connect us, and create so much joy.  If only I took more time to appreciate ALL of the awesomeness of nature around me maybe I’d be even more joyful all the time?  Then, what if we all took the time to do the same?  What a beautiful world that would be!

Thanks!!!

March 2010 Florida Trip 1194

 

Day 329 – Thankful for Gavin!

Day 329 – Thankful for Gavin!

There are some days in which the idea for what I am thankful for is pretty much spoon fed to me. Today is definitely one of those days. Gavin! turns 9 today and he was the first person I talked with this morning, FaceTime actually, which was even more fitting! Even before 7am he was wired, ready to go, and most importantly, smiling and in a great mood!

Interestingly enough, his birthday coincided with the eclipse, a fact you already knew in advance if you’ve spent anytime with him in the past year. Today he got one more birthday present from Grandpa Pete, who must’ve called in a few favors to The Big Guy Upstairs. Yesterday the forecast showed clouds and possibly storms, yet today the clouds held off until the eclipse had happened.

A while back I blogged about how his name should’ve been Gavin! with the exclamation point – that’s just so much more fitting for his personality. Nine years ago today he came in like a ball of fire, and he’s still burning strong. The kid is an Energizer bunny full of happiness and a love of life that is rivaled by few.  As opposed to writing that, here are a bunch of photos of Gavin! in all of his Gavin!-ness!

Thanks for being awesome Bud, you’re an inspiration to your mom and I!  Happy birthday!!!  Love you dude!

Thanks!!!

 

Day 328 – Thankful for an Opportunity for Gavin to Help Me Be a Better Dad

See anything missing from this picture?

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Yup, there was supposed to be a plane there by now…  But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Earlier today I called Charter to cancel our cable TV.  Every year we get a bill that shows a huge price increase, and every year I call to let them know we’ll consider leaving if they can’t do something about the price.  This year we opted to go in a different direction and I was frustrated…  scratch that…  infuriated when they offered a couple of options including reducing our bill by significant amount for essentially the same things we already had plus a little more.  After declining the offer we immediately suffered a phone and internet outage.  When I called back to get that fixed the customer service rep pretty much laughed it off saying “that always happens…”  When it didn’t turn on after a couple of hours I lost my cool and became a little unhinged, letting my emotions get the best of me.  It was finally sorted out, but I spent way more emotional energy on the debacle than I should have.

Later in day Gavin found out that there’s a really good chance that the sky is cloudy (possibly storming) when the eclipse is supposed to occur tomorrow.  With it being on his birthday, science related, and just flat out awesome he was crushed.  It took a very long time (and possibly shooting squirrels off the bird feeder with a paintball gun) to cheer him back up.  I was trying to help him understand that there’s no point in worrying about something that he has no control over, but he just wasn’t having it.

Funny how the Big Guy Upstairs can pull strings once in a while, isn’t it?  I got a notification on my phone that my flight had been delayed.  It had been delayed long enough that there was no way I would make my connecting flight.  Seeing as we live less than a mile from the airport I asked Gavin to come along with me while I went to sort out my ticket face to face instead of over the phone.  He eagerly jumped in the car with me and we were off.

Upon walking in we saw a room full of disappointment.  People who were also going to miss their connecting flights, customer service reps who felt horrible about being powerless to fix the situation.  I kept my cool and helped Gavin understand the situation.  At the counter we talked with the rep to see what he could do to help us out.  He typed furiously on the keyboard and kept apologizing for not being able to do more.  I took a deep breath and reassured him that I trusted him to do his best and that I’d roll with whatever he could come up with.  After a while he came up with the best possible solution, fly out on the first leg, stay overnight, and then fly out early the next morning.  We tried every option, and that’s all that we could do.  I thanked him for his help, and Gavin and I walked out with a smile.

As Gavin and I walked out we talked about what just happened.  “Hey Bud, did you notice that I didn’t get mad or frustrated?  This isn’t ideal and I’d really liked to have gotten there sooner, but there’s nothing I can do about it so there’s no point in being sad or frustrated is there?”  He smirked and fired off a pretty sweet one liner joke at me, “yeah, because you’re trip isn’t nearly as cool as the eclipse!”  I just laughed with him and moved into the next part of what I wanted hime to understand.  “Bud, how do you know that The Big Guy Upstairs didn’t do that on purpose?  Maybe something bad would’ve happened if I would have flown out tonight?  Do you know what His plan is?”  He smiled and we discussed it further.  By the time we got home I know he got what I meant.  I’m hoping it starts to sink in for him at an early age, his life will be filled with so much more joy if it does.

While talking with him the other thing running through my head was how I handled the situation with Charter earlier.  I really muffed that one!  If I could do it over I’d handle it differently, it easily could have been my frustration on each of the calls that led to result.  That said, I can’t change the result, but I can learn from it.

So why did I keep my cool in the face of adversity with the airline tonight while I lost it with Charter earlier?  It’s pretty easy, I saw an opportunity to help Gavin learn through an experience with me.  I handled the situation differently specifically so he could see what the “right” way to handle it was.  I became the role model because there was a lesson he needed to see, and I couldn’t let him down.  If I would’ve gotten upset it would have just reinforced his feelings earlier.  Gavin helped to make me a better dad today.

Funny how everything in life points to parents having to raise kids, but rarely does anyone remind us that by raising our kids we have the opportunity to become better people ourselves.  I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity to learn from Gavin today, it’s put a smile on my face through a potentially frustrating situation.

Thanks!!!

Day 327 – Thankful for Another Family Tradition

Sometimes it cracks me up when two days are so similar yet so different.  Just yesterday I was thankful for the family tradition of grandpas buying pocket knives for their grandsons in Boy Scouts, and tonight I’m thankful for a family tradition that has gone on for a handful of years just like clockwork, the Hause family coming to vistit and spend some time on the boat!

 

This morning they rolled in and the boys all immediately flocked to the basement for an epic nerf gun battle.  After lunch we headed out for the boat and chilled on the sandbar, enjoying the sun…  and maybe a couple of beers!  Next thing we knew almost five hours had flown by.

As I’m sitting outside typing this while grilling the Packer game is on and we’ll just chill in the living room until the boys all crash.

This weekend is always a fun one.  The boys have fun together, the adults get to shoot the bull, and good times are had by all…  and there’s usually an early bedtime as a testament to just how much fun we’ve had!

Thanks!!!

Day 326 – Thankful for Continuing a Family Tradition

A few months before Dad passed away he and I were talking about Dominic’s transition into Boy Scouts.  Through the course of the conversation I brought up the Boy Scout pocket knife that my grandpa gave me once I had moved into Boy Scouts.  As we talked he mentioned that he needed to do the same for Dominic.  I’ve had my knife for many years (25+?) and I think of my grandpa every single time I use it and Dad knew that (I blogged about it a while back).  His wish was to give Dominic a similar knife so he’d do the same.

As with many things in our lives it never quite happened the way Dad planned.  Whether it was other things that had taken priority or it had just slipped his mind, it doesn’t really matter now does it?  Don’t mind me while I ramble for a second as something just crossed my mind.  There are many times in which I spend way too much time and energy thinking about questions like that…  was it because of this or because of that?  Once something happens it doesn’t really matter anymore, does it?  It’s already done.  How much of life have I wasted on meaningless questions like that?  How much energy could’ve been used elsewhere?  It doesn’t really matter though, does it?  It is done and learning from it is all that matters right now.  LOL – thanks for bearing with me on that one!

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Anyways, I knew it was what Dad wanted, to give Dominic that Boy Scout knife, so while he couldn’t do it himself anymore I did the next best thing.  I got it for Dominic and explained that it was really from Grandpa Pete.  He smiled from ear to ear while showing the emotion that he truly grasped the gravity of what I was telling him.

When Gavin gets older I’ll do the same for him, just as Dad would’ve wanted.  As they get older and have kids of their own I’ll do the same for them, just as I want.  If I’ve done my job as a father, one day they’ll do the same for their grandkids, because they want to keep the family tradition alive.

Dad may be gone, but there are memories of him everywhere.  I’m thankful for each of them and the way that they help me look more deeply at myself.  This family tradition encapsulates this concept so well.  It involves giving, an activity that is near all of our hearts (scouting), we use it often, and it has one of Dad’s favorite mental tricks included…  Whenever you pick up a tool take a minute to think about who gave it to you, why they gave it to you, where it came from, and how you got it.  Think of those things, smile, and be grateful for them.

Thanks!!!

 

Day 325 – Thankful for the Hostess with the Most-est, Becky Kreiling

You may or may not know this, but I’m not a huge fan of large gatherings.  Give me time with a small handful of people and life is great, I’ll be smiling the whole time.  A bunch of people and the smile fades quickly and I get drained.  To be clear, I really like people, I just struggle with many at once.

That said, I get a little nervous when I hear a comment like “I’m having a bunch of co-workers over for dinner…”  They’re all great people and I have a ton of fun with each of them, but all of them at once and I get a little nervous.

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Cue Becky, the Hostess with the Most-est…

So Becky to the rescue as she gets all the food prepped and ready, makes sure that everyone will have something that they will like, and that everything is set for a great night.  Never nervous or rattled, she gets everything in line and ready, including me.  Sure, I’m happy to jump in and help, but she’s the brains, the mastermind, behind any get together like this.  I ask her what she needs, she tells me, and life is good.  No matter what type of curveball gets thrown her way she takes it in stride, doesn’t stress, works her magic, and everything works out great.

Tonight was another example of that.  There were approximately 20 of us and everything went of perfectly!  Almost exactly enough food (enough leftovers for one meal), a great time, and everyone was smiling and enjoying each others’ company.  It was awesome!  Even me, the dude who’s not a huge fan of that many people at once, had an excellent time.  She was able to set the stage for everyone in a ways that there were always many conversations going and it never felt like 20-ish people.  It felt like there were a few small groups and every so often the groups switched a little.  It was perfect!

If it were left up to me there would only be small gatherings once in a while, that’s my comfort zone.  Thankfully I have Becky to balance me out and reminding me that I can have a lot of fun with a larger group.  As a matter of fact, I had an incredible night with many people that I wouldn’t have had without her.  I’m so very thankful for her hostessing skills that helped create an awesome experience for all of us tonight.

Thanks Mrs. Hostess with the Most-est, you’re the best-est!!!  Love you!!!

Thanks!!!