There was a very valuable lesson I learned while working in my workshop today. Sometimes it’s best to take a step back to move ahead.
About 9 months ago I started a project that’s been more difficult than I expected. I’ve made a lot of progress on this project, but there’ve been several setbacks and many times when I’ve had to pause and learn something new before moving forward. While I just want to get this project done so I can move on I had an epiphany today.
Pausing to re-think my strategy I smiled to myself and took a couple of steps back. The project I was working on was pretty advanced compared to what I’ve done in the past. I’d never attempted anything like it before and instead of starting simple I went straight to one of the more difficult projects in the book.
Today I took a step back and started on the first box in the book. It’s not overly difficult or exciting, but it’s giving me the opportunity to practice the skills I need to finish my first project. When all was said and done I made significantly more progress on this box today than I’ve made on the other in way more time. The techniques I’m learning will help me greatly when it comes to making the box I’d been working on for a while.
As I’ve had that rolling around in the back of my brain all night I realized how true this is of many things in life. How often have I started of with a grand idea a little too quickly and instead I should’ve worked my way up to it? There are more than a couple of ways I could see this lesson helping me in the future on other projects and ideas… and for that lesson I am very thankful.
Sometimes I can be a little slow on the uptake. Occasionally I’ve been known to skip books just because so many people told me to read it. I know, I’m kinda weird like that sometimes!
My Audible.com account will quickly show that I’m a big fan of biographies, business, and philosophy books. Those are pretty much my bread and butter. There are about a dozen that I have in my next listens list. With that being the case I usually hold off on adding fiction to the list.
For at least four years my buddy Brian has been on me about reading the book Ready Player One. He’s repeatedly told me how much I’d like the book and I’ve pretty much kept saying no just to be a pain in the butt. After a while a few other friends started telling me about it.
This past week I wanted something as a change of pace for my reading. I’d just wrapped up a couple of books for the next month’s trainings so I figured I’d give it a whirl and listen while I drive and walk.
I’m about a third of the way through and it’s AWESOME!!! Full of ’80s trivia and loaded with geek factoids galore, it’s amazing! It’s been non-stop entertaining and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have it done very quickly.
So today I’m thankful that I FINALLY took all of my friends’ advice and picked this book up. Guys, I won’t question your book choices again… probably 😉
There are certain songs that can immediately teleport me away from reality and throw me back into a certain memory or emotion. The first note of the song causes my ears to tune in immediately and by the time the first five seconds have past my foot is tapping and I’m gone. I love those types of songs!
When I stop and think about them they’re from a point in time when the perfect song blended into the perfect moment at the perfect time. Everything has to line up just right for that to happen, tone of the song, lyrics, and the setting. When it’s all synched up it is nothing short of mind blowing.
Isn’t it so awesome that those perfect moments can be recalled with a song?
Today it was while I was working on a project and had Pandora on in the background. As I was typing I heard the initial whistle of the song “Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. In a flash my computer and desk were gone and I was sitting on a porch overlooking the ocean, snuggled into a chair with Becky, looking out over the ocean and champagne ponds in Hawaii. My heart rate slowed, I could smell the ocean air, and I could hear the waves crashing in the background. I was relaxed, at peace, and in paradise.
For some reason every single time i hear that song I think of sitting on that porch in Hawaii. I’m not sure if it was on in the background or if I listened to it earlier in the day, but that moment and that song are forever glued together in my brain.
The lyrics fit perfectly, a song about “home is wherever I am with you.” The music just fits that Hawaiian feel. Everything with the song and the memory fit so well.
I had a really great day today, many new opportunities and ideas, much progress made. So many wonderful moments, including a perfectly placed sunrise as I drove to work. Great conversations, teammates having big successes and wins, all wonderful pieces of the day that I am thankful for. Little moments, like hearing this song, really added an awesome depth of joy to the day that I am very thankful for.
Of all that I’ve encountered and lived over the past year there are three key lessons that have repeated themselves over and over. Today I’m thankful for the combination of the three as they help me stay joyful daily. It’s funny, I don’t always think about them consciously, but they are always there, hanging out in the back of my brain and soul, reminding me occasionally that they are there with me, a part of me, and ready to support me.
Optimism can be defined as “hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.” No matter what I encounter in life I know that the future has the potential to be the best possible future, regardless of what has happened in the past.
Stoicism is a little different twist on optimism. It’s essentially saying that there isn’t good or bad when it comes to external events, each specific event just is. We put the context to it, good or bad. Stoics believe that our happiness lies in our ability to respond appropriately and with the appropriate emotions to each event. The focus is on finding the right emotion to find the positive in the situation and find our happiness there. Marcus Aurelius said it best, “Objective judgement, now at this very moment. Unselfish action, now at this very moment. Willing acceptance – now at this very moment – of all external events. That’s all you need.”
Gratitude… ahh… my best buddy, gratitude. If there was one thing I would’ve asked Marcus to add to his quote above it would have been, “and be thankful for every moment and event you experience in life, it means you’re still alive.” Seriously, it’s amazing how my attitude changes when I am presented with something that could be taken as very bad but I find a way to be thankful for it. When I pause and find the reason to be grateful for it my attitude immediately changes and I smile. I’ve found that an ounce of gratitude can go a long way to healing the soul and bringing joy to my heart.
Today each of these three core values and key lessons have been in the forefront of my brain. I’m thankful for every difficult situation that has led me to embrace them as much as I have, they’ve been tremendous friends and allies to me today.
After getting home from yoga tonight I surprised the boys with something that doesn’t happen very often… a random weekday movie night!
We fired up the new Jumanji movie and laughed our butts off together. At times it was just Dominic and I laughing while Gavin was a little confused which made the two of us laugh even more!
There’s something about time spent with boys like this that makes me smile. I still remember many times when my parents would do random things for Nick and I when only one of them was home. It’s so much fun continuing the tradition.
There have been so many things that I’ve been grateful for that I almost didn’t know where to start. A wonderful run under the stars in warm weather. Great coaching and conversation this morning that helped me clarify some ideas that I’d had brewing for a while. A well timed chapter of a book that’s left me smiling for days. The right song at the right time. Getting a walk in over lunch. Having a successful den meeting. So many moments that brought much joy today!
What really stuck out to me is something that is more personal in nature and I’m going to keep it a little close to the vest. Let’s just say that there was a dream I’d had for a very long time that finally came true quite a while back. It was a wonderful dream that I was so happy to check off the list. This dream is one that we’ve re-lived several times and every single time I feel more joy than the time before.
After a while there was a spark from advice that I’d witnessed first hand from one of my mentors. There was a certain something that they did for a long time that was similar, but after a while they found a way to create even more joy for many others by changing their dream ever so slightly. It was still the same, but so much more different and grand on so many levels. They found that by thinking more fully about the “why” behind the dream they’d realized they had just scratched the surface of their dream. Many years after that spark the resulting growth of the dream is nothing short of staggering.
While living my dream a while back there was a light that went on in the back of my head… a connection that I hadn’t thought about. A way to turn something pretty cool into something much bigger. It’s a long way from reality, the dream has so much further to grow, but I’m thankful for how much it has already grown. As Becky put it, “It’s a dream that’s taken root.” This dream has started to bloom and I can’t wait to see where it goes.
Today I’m thankful for that dream growing bigger, and I’m also thankful for the advice I received from one of my mentors. Seeing them live their dream in a certain way helped me to open my eyes to find a way to make my dreams even bigger… yet again.
One of the boys’ favorite shows to watch on TV is Chopped. It involves cooks getting a “mystery basket” of seemingly random ingredients that they need to craft into a full appetizer. After that one of the chefs is “chopped” and eliminated from the competition. They then repeat the same process with the entree and then dessert. Almost every episode they try to figure out what they would make and have fun seeing what the chefs come up with.
Last weekend they were watching an episode and it all involved leftovers for the ingredients. The boys got pretty pumped and I had an idea… What if i bought a “mystery basket” and they had to make a meal out of it? With Becky out of town for the afternoon it seemed like a perfect lunch for us to try it.
Dominic and I picked up the following ingredients for the “mystery basket” while Gavin was in Sunday School:
Once we got home they went through the mystery basket and started their planning.
The plan in place they worked together as a team to make a full meal for the three of us (and a plate of leftovers for Becky when she gets home). They were smiling and trying new things as they worked very well together to figure everything out. Outside of a couple of little ideas and help it was all done by them.
Their final creation was pretty awesome! They made corned beef rolls with yellow peppers inside fried in coconut oil, tortellini on the side, and a wasabi pistachio pesto with crushed yet crunchy Chex Mix on top for the pasta sauce and dipping sauce for the rolls. It was awesomely delicious!!!
We ate our lunch while watching an episode of Chopped, it just seemed like the right thing to do. After lunch the boys even did dishes without complaining!
It was so much fun watching the boys create their meal together today. They worked together, helped each other with ideas, and both contributed to the finished product equally. While they were very focused they also smiled a lot as they put it all together. I know, TV isn’t something to spend a lot of time doing, but it was pretty sweet to see how they took what they’d learned and brought it to life, all while having fun together. I’m very thankful for the idea and for the experience we shared today.