Day 483 – Thankful for Using a Simple Checklist to Simplify a Difficult Thing… Behavioral Change

A while back I talked about a great book that I read, Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith. A few days ago I put some time into putting one of the key concepts to work to help me change some behavior for the better. Don’t worry, it’s nothing crazy like rehab, just a few somewhat subtle changes that would help bring more joy to my life.

Back in 2007/2008 I worked on losing weight and was able to drop 60 pounds much more quickly than I’d thought possible. That was the same time that I started running and exercising a lot more. One of the behind the scenes things that made me successful was a simple spreadsheet that I used as a checklist each day. Each item was totally under my control and at the end of the day it provided me the opportunity to reflect on what I had done well as well as see what I did not do well. This reflection both helped me feel completion and success while helping me plan my game plan for the next day. It was wild to see how much that little spreadsheet helped me focus my energy and efforts in the right direction.

Fast forward almost a decade to today. Some of the great habits I had have fallen off by the wayside. Additionally, the changes in life being a decade older have also changed both priorities and goals. As I think about the gap between who I am and who I’d like to be there are more than a few things I’d like to change about how I am living.

I’ve pulled the first six questions straight from Triggers as they are a core set of questions that can help lead to a more joyful life. The next six are specific to the behavioral changes hat I’d like to make. Each day I rate myself on them on a scale of 1 to 10. It causes me to pause, think, and plan for doing better the next day.

Over the course of the day today it’s already led to several things I’ve done differently knowing that I have to answer to myself at the end of the day. It’s kept important things top of mind and has helped keep me pointed in the right direction.

I’m not planning on this perfecting everything in the span of a week, this is a long term project to help me stayed focused. As I feel like I’ve progressed enough on something I’ll take it off. When I think of something else I’d like to work on I’ll add it to the list.

Today has been partially shaped by this simple checklist for the better, and I’m thankful for each wonderful new bit of joy it’s brought. Special thanks to Cheryl, Danielle, & Keli at Express Leadership Academy for bringing this book up!

Thanks!!!

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Day 482 – Thankful for a Random Comment Made at Our Den Meeting

There’ve been many great things today.  I was able to get everything I wanted and then some done at work.  I came home to a hot meal made by Becky.  I got to spend a little time with the boys.  I’ve had many moments that have brought me joy.

There’s one moment that has me still smiling tonight and I’m thankful for the humor it’s brought to my day.  Our den meeting today was focused on planning a meal for the scouts to cook for our pack at our next camp out.

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While in the middle of the den meeting the question was asked, “what is a dutch oven?”

An immediate response came from one of the scouts.  Myself and the other adults all tried to hide our laughter when he blurted out “it’s when you pull the covers over someone’s head in bed and fart!”  There was a round of LOL’s from everyone and it took a few seconds to get us back on tracks.

We made great progress in the meeting and had a productive meeting, but that one moment is still bouncing in my head and making me laugh.  I can only imagine what their poor teachers hear on a daily basis!  Thanks for the great laugh today bud!

Thanks!!!

Day 481 – Thankful for Old Texts with My Dad

Today has been filled with knocking many things off of my checklist.  From pre-making lunches for the week to arranging a hotel room for an upcoming business trip to cleaning off my dresser to getting unpacked to all the normal stuff it’s been a busy day!  With all that going on I’m especially thankful for the chunk of time we took as a family right after lunch to play several games of Blockus, Tenzi, & King Kong with all four of us.  It also felt great talking with my mom and brother for the first time in over a week.  Once I’m done with my blog pretty much everything is done for the day and I’ll be off to bed.

There was one thing that’s been on my list for a while that I just hadn’t taken the time to do and I’m thankful that I did tonight.  Earlier this summer I switched phones but kept my old one as a back up in case something happened to the new one.  At some point I realized that I no longer had the old texts that my dad and I had sent to each other and I was overjoyed to find that I still had many of them saved on the old phone.

When I went back to read them I couldn’t help but smile and hear my dad’s voice reading each one.  I scrolled through all of them and took screenshots of them to save them for the long haul.  Tonight was the night I got them all loaded onto my file sharing info to save.

As I went through the texts I literally laughed out loud at some, smiled happily at great memories in others, and had a tear or two when reading a couple as well.  Reading them was like going back in a time machine and brought back so many memories.  In some ways it felt like he was back with me for a little while – what a gift!  I could hear his laugh and see his smile in each line.

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Dad’s texts are the white ones on the left, mine are the blue on the right.  As you can see, we loved giving each other a hard time!

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As I read through them it helped me remember why I’m blogging daily and why I’m writing a book for my boys about the experience of losing my dad.  At some point I won’t be around for them anymore.  Knowing how much it means to me to be able to go back and hear my dad’s voice on a voicemail or read texts that he and I sent each other I feel that the least I can do is leave them some fun reminders of our times together as well.  At some point it may help to bring them joy and help them figure some things out about themselves after I’m gone.

One text exchange in particular hit the nail on the head in a way that almost borders on eerie as I look back a year and a half later:

May 25, 2016 10:05pm

Me:  Whew…  Today’s blog (click here to see it) was a very happy yet very tough one to write and is a reminder of why I write it every day to take time to appreciate some memories that could otherwise fade away.  It’s also why I share it publicly, my hope is that everyone who reads it will take a moment to think about someone they’ve lost and focus on keeping that memory strong.  Love you dude!

Dad:  Thanks Mike, your blog was so awesome!  I too wish I could have just 5 minutes with him.  Love you, Dad

As I read back through our texts I feel so close to him and am reminded of so many little moments that could have been forgotten.  I’m thankful for these old texts with my dad, not just for the memories of him and joy it brings me, but also for reminding me why I keep blogging and writing every day…  to be able to give my boys the same gifts he’s given me.

Thanks!!!

 

Day 480 – Thankful for Broken WiFi On Our Flight

Day 480 – Thankful for Broken WiFi On Our Flight

Today is one of those day’s in which I’m thankful for the universe conspiring to help me reach my goals.

My initial thought before heading out on our vacation was to work on my book on the flight out, write some more while relaxing, and then type of up more while on the flight home.  The first two parts of the plan worked out great!  The third?

As we waited for our flight I started to have a moment of weakness.  I figured that maybe I’ll watch a movie instead and reasoned that I’d already worked hard on my book and it’d be okay to relax.  I argued with myself for a while and then started thinking about which movie to watch.

Once we got on the plane Becky quickly pointed out the lack of screens on the backs of the seats in front of us.  Holy crap!  Now what was I going to do?  After a short thought about going back to the plan of writing I moved on to Plan B…  Watching a movie on my iPhone using the jet’s wifi and streaming app.

Shortly after taking off we realized that there was a flaw in this new plan – the wifi wasn’t working!  Oh the humanity!!!  At first I got a little frustrated and then I just chuckled.  Okay Big Dude Upstairs, I get it, I get it.  Writing my book it is…

Before I knew it an hour had passed and I was in the flow of writing and it felt great!  Memories were rushing back and I was having new insights that I didn’t even have on my outline.  It was working out great!

At one point I paused and enjoyed the clouds.  It’s tough to see all of the layers in the picture, but there were four distinct layers of clouds that we were flying in.  I took time to appreciate their beauty while also thinking about the physics behind why they were all at different levels as opposed to one mass.

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Later on the flight we were able to see a beautiful sunset that lasted for well over an hour.  There were oranges, reds, and dark grays that were dazzling.  While my attempts at taking pictures didn’t go well you can at least get a feel for what I am talking about below.

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By the time we started our descent I’d finished up one chapter, had time to mentally prepare some notes for the next, and appreciate a couple of views that I may have missed had I been slacking off and watching a movie.  The feeling of completion and accomplishment I had still feels great, and I’m thankful for the moments of appreciating nature’s beauty from 35,000 feet.  Had nature not conspired to help me with broken wifi and lack of screens I’d feel like a bit of a slouch and I wouldn’t have experienced as much joy today.

Broken wifi usually sucks and makes me frustrated, but today it led to a pretty awesome conclusion.

Thanks!!!

Day 479 – Thankful for My Buddy Steve (Again)

There were so many ideas going through my head today for my blog.  Quite honestly, I haven’t done anything crazy, it’s been an entire day of chilling outside with the sound of the ocean rolling in, wave after beautiful wave.  Even with the peace and simplicity of the day my heart has been overwhelmed.  I got a run in with Becky this morning and had many wonderful moments with her.  I’ve had great times shooting the bull with our friends Jeremy & Katie.  I’ve had a fun beer run with my sister from another mister, Kathy.  In between all of that I’ve had time to work on my book about Dad and have had many wonderful thoughts and memories of him running through my head.  A little bit of work and a little bit of shooting the bull with my brother, FaceTime with the boys,  and it’s almost been complete (all I need is some time with my mom and it’s been about as full of a day as I could get!).

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In amongst the drinking and shooting the shit today, one thing has continued to make me smile…  My friendship with my buddy Steve.  In life there seems to be a handful of people that we come across that balance out a handful of factors.  They’re not afraid to give you shit.  They’re open to calling bullshit on a slightly exaggerated story.  They’re not worried about calling you out when you’re being an ass.  An, most importantly, they just get you and where you’re coming from.

That’s my friend Steve in a nutshell.  When we shoot the shit about growing up we’re on the same page.  We give each other hell on a regular basis.  When Becky and I FaceTime the boys he’s open to giving them the “Grumpy Old Guy Advice of the Day.”  We share the same laughs and enjoy many similar things.

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There’s another side to his friendship that also means the world to me.  When I talk with him I am constantly reminded of fun times we’ve had together, the fun we had with my dad while building the garage, the fun we’ve had on vacation, and the great times we had taking the boys on their hike.

Earlier today we had the opportunity to go chill by the side of the ocean.  As we both just stood there quietly and took in the sound of the waves crashing in, one after another, he made a comment the I’ve made in my own head many times.  “I’m not sure which I enjoy the most, the mountains or the ocean…” And it led to a conversation that I remember having with my parents way back when I was a kid.  It was one of those moments when I just chuckled to myself and felt like I could have been having the same conversation with my brother, my parents, or Becky,  I was with family.

While we may have not gotten to know each other until much later in our lives, we get each other.  If I ever need him for anything I know he’d be there to help, just as I would be for him.  Spending time with him reminds me that brotherhood isn’t limited by blood.  I am thankful for his friendship and truly appreciate knowing him.

Thanks for being awesome Steve!

Thanks!!!

 

Day 478 – Thankful for Fun Times with Great Friends on Vacation

Today has been a great day already and there’s still much of it to go.  Becky and I got in a run this morning and then Jeremy had breakfast cooked and ready for us (thanks for the omelet dude!).  After showering there was time to chill.  Even though I’m on vacation it felt wonderful to take some time to get some work done while enjoying some quiet.

The only things on the agenda today were a tour of the brewery and a tour of the distillery on this island.  Both tours were very interesting and there were some pretty awesome samples.  Somewhere in between the two we hit up a roadside grill for some excellent local food (it’s awesome soaking up as much jerk chicken and pork as I can while I’m here!).

On our way back we stopped at a grocery store and picked up some food for supper (and maybe a bottle of dark rum) and a few of us cooked supper and stayed in.  As a couple of us cooked we shot the bull and had a great time.  One of my favorite moments was talking about when Steve helped my dad and I build our garage, so many funny stories that had me laughing (and I know Dad was smiling).  We FaceTimed the boys and talked for a while and Gruncle Steve gave them his advice of the day.  It was awesome!

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As I remove myself from the fun for a few minutes to reflect and blog I’m reminded of just how thankful I am for having such a fun time with great friends.  All of our lives get busy and we don’t get to spend nearly as much time together as we’d like.  Moments like this are so important for all of us to reconnect and have fun.  We’re able to share memories while making new ones, and it feels awesome!  The reason this week has been so memorable and fun isn’t what we’ve seen and done, it’s the people we’ve been doing it with.

Thank you to my friends for making this an incredible experience!

Thanks!!!

Day 477 – Thankful for Knocking Out #15 On My Dream List, Kayaking or Swimming in Bioluminescent Water

Ever since I learned that “bioluminescence” was a thing I wanted to either swim in it or at least paddle through it.  Just the thought that there is ocean water that lights up bright blue when you touch it due to the agitation of the single celled organisms living in it totally blew my mind!  Long story short, when the water moves it disturbs the organisms and they light up like fireflies.  In this case they are super tiny, less than 10% the size of a grain of sand, and they’re everywhere in the bay.

When we started paddling our paddles literally glowed in the water like some cray special effects in a movie and w left a trail of bright blue glowing water behind us that slowly dimmed.  Running our hands through the water caused the water around our hands to glow the same color – it was wild!!!  We could look in the water and see fish darting around below us as they left the same glowing blue in the water.  The only downside is that the glow doesn’t turn out well in pictures so I’m using one from the company’s website to help illustrate what I mean:

 

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Photo from Cayman Kayaks

It was so spectacular that it’s hard to believe that I witnessed this phenomena.  All the ways I imagined it to be weren’t even close to how wild it was to see it in person.

Last night I knocked out #15 on my dream list, and it was AWESOME!!!  There are still so many dreams to go (I swear the more I accomplish the more I add to my list), it feels great to experience and complete another one!

Thanks!!!