After cruising through emails for work, heading to church, grocery shopping, and making lunch Becky had the wonderful idea of busting out a great board game – Trekking the National Parks. How fitting of a game is that for our family? The whole point of the game is to journey from park to park doing one of several things that help you win the game. We had so much fun like always – great family time!
Somehow I’ve let the boys down as a father and I hadn’t shared Back to the Future with them until tonight. For some reason or another Becky and I remembered that fact for the umpteenth random reason and Becky ordered it from the library. Tonight we are chilling on the couch watching it as a family. It’s been a blast to enjoy both watching one of my old favorite movies as a kid and seeing my kids enjoy it as well. I’m so glad to see that they’re as into it as I was when I saw it at approximately Gavin’s age.
Whew… the last Cub Scout Winter Camp is complete. The bags have been unpacked, everything has been put away, and there may have even have been a shower beverage 😉
If there was a perfect last Winter Camp, this was definitely it as we had a blast! The entire event was a ton of fun. From a quick donut run with Dominic this morning to a paper airplane building session to hiking to gaga ball to slingshots to sledding to matchstick rockets to broom ball it was an awesome day. Throw in an incredible mid-afternoon nap in the sun while laying outside in the snow on a sled in the sun on a February afternoon and it was tremendous. Add the fact that I was able to spent some time with the boys also and it was just perfect.
I’m so thankful for this wonderful opportunity to spend one last Cub Scout Winter Camp with my boys!
On my drive to Eau Claire this morning I started off with listening to my current audio book but I just wasn’t getting into it. I then switched over to some chill tunes but that didn’t quite scratch the itch either. As I drove in silence for a couple of miles thinking about what to listen to next I figured out that the lack of sound was music to my ears. The rest of the drive (outside of a call with my mom) was spent in silence.
The absence of sound seemed to heighten my sense of sight. The sunrise was beginning and it was awesome to take in the changing colors across the horizon. The drive through the valley heading up into Arcadia was breathtaking! The western sky was a brilliant purple and lavender while the eastern sky was starting to turn orangish red. The subtle change of colors across the sky was amazing!
As I continued to drive the sky kept shifting colors. Even as the sky turned its normal blue the rising sun changed the color of the snow to a golden orange hue. Normally I’m not a huge fan of snow, but in this case I realized how much the white canvas added to beauty of the sunrise. By the time I got to Eleva my face was tired from smiling. It was so relaxing to take in the sunrise in all of its glorious colors to start of a wonderful day!
Over the course of the past few days or so there have been a handful of random reminders of both of my grandmas. It’s funny how one little thing, seemingly out of nowhere, can spark old memories that leave me grinning. It wasn’t a picture, card, or letter, but ordinary things that just take on a different context when seen through the lens of a grandson.
This past weekend Becky and I had a few pots of coffee throughout the weekend mornings. One of the types we have is a whole bean and there was something about the smell of the fresh grounds steeping that reminded me of weekend mornings at my Grandma Lamping’s house. All we needed was the smell of fresh toast and it would have been a perfect match.
A couple of nights ago Becky mentioned the word “kringle” and I immediately started salivating. On our way home from logrolling we stopped off at Festival and picked some up. No visit to Grandma Lamping’s was complete without several kringles in the morning.
Last night I wanted a little snack and I went for something I had the urge for… saltines and butter. This was a favorite snack that we used to have at my Grandma Kreiling’s house often. Simple and salty, they always remind me of being at her house.
On my drive this morning I saw several houses with HUGE icicles hanging off the eaves. Grandma Kreiling’s house used to have huge icicles like this each winter and I remember the warnings of making sure I don’t stand under them because they would cause serious injury or death. It made me smile thinking about all the times we would try to break the biggest ones off in one piece.
In all of the cases it felt good having some great memories of each of them come to mind. Sure, the initial memories were very much on the surface, but each time it led to me spending time remembering spending time with my grandmas. How awesome is that on a cold winter day?
Today was a great example of a lesson I learned from mentors long ago. As opposed to only working “in” the business the majority of today was spent working “on” the business. Sure, it’s only a one letter difference, but that one letter makes all the difference!
It’s so easy to put my nose to the grindstone and just focus on getting things done. It’s often hard to put urgency to things that are very important but never really feel urgent. Today (and parts of yesterday) has been focused on different activities that will really move me towards several goals. While they aren’t things that have to happen right now, they are of the utmost importance for the long term dreams I have. The awesome thing is that through this action I’ve already forced myself outside of my comfort zone and have started viewing some concepts a little differently.
I’m so thankful for taking time to focus on working on instead of in today!
Mother Nature had plans that differed from my own this morning and made life a little more interesting than I’d expected. After getting up I headed out and fired up the snowblower (still incredibly thankful for that workhorse!). I then got ready for work as normal and headed out. The plow hadn’t gotten to our street yet, but I figured it wouldn’t be too bad. Unfortunately the plow had just gone down the main street and pushed a huge pile of snow across our street. Against my better judgement I hit the gas and promptly got stuck. I could only smile and laugh at myself as I could hear my Dad chuckling from above, shaking his head, and saying lovingly, “you dumbass…”
Fortunately for me our neighbor at the end of the road was snowblowing and offered to help. My pride wanted to say no, but I remembered a lesson from a mentor of mine that has stuck with me for years. “When someone offers to help, the answer is always yes.” Those words in my head I thanked him for the offer and took him up on it instead of digging snow with my feet and getting frustrated.
As we tried unsuccessfully to get my car unstuck another vehicle pulled over. Out of the driver’s seat popped a woman about the size of Becky and she was definitely dressed more for work than for helping me in the snow. There was a huge smile on her face as she asked, “I might not be much, but would you like some extra help?” Both my neighbor and I smiled as we said “definitely – thanks!!!” Next thing we knew we had the car backed right off the snow pile. I thanked her again as she headed out to work.
My neighbor then proceeded to use his snowblower to knock down the huge pile of snow left by the plow. As he plowed we were able to shoot the bull and get to know each other a little bit. Before I’d gotten eh car stuck I just knew him as the guy who moved into Whitney’s house. Now I know Neil as the neighbor who was willing to help me out in a pinch. I’m very thankful for his help and for getting to know him today.
With my car freed I headed up north slowly but surely to go to work. While I drove I couldn’t help but smile. How cool was it that I had a couple of people willing to help me out when I needed it? They took their most valuable resource (time) and shared it with me, a total stranger at the time. I also smiled bigger when I realized how thankful I was for the advice from my mentor. Had I not listened to that advice I’d still be happy knowing that people were willing to help… But then I thought of the smile on my face as I helped one of our neighbors by snowblowing his driveway without being asked today. There was a huge sense of pride and joy I felt in being able to make a gift of myself for my neighbor. In accepting the help from strangers they were able to feel that same pride and joy. No wonder they were smiling so big after helping me get my car unstuck.
In closing, I hope this lesson from my mentor sticks with everyone today. Just because we feel strong and independent doesn’t mean we should say no to help when it’s offered. If someone cares enough to offer help the answer is always yes. You’re helping them just as they’re helping you and you’ll both be full of joy afterwards.
Whoever would’ve thought that asking one question, the same question, every single day for over 1,200 consecutive days could bring so much joy into my life? Each day I ask myself that one question continually throughout the day in search of what I will blog about. Some days the answer is found quickly in the morning and other days it’s not until I’m typing that I can quite put my finger on which of the many blessings the day has brought me will be the centerpiece(s) of my post. Regardless, there is one constant…
When I ask myself that question, “What am I thankful for today?” I take time to pause and look both inward and outward. What happened in life that I am thankful for? What has brought joy into my life, has taught me a lesson, or helped me become one step closer to who I want to be? I often look outward to the event, the cause, the thing, the person, or the subject of my blog. I then look inward to see how and why it has impacted me as it has. Once I can see it I then put my thoughts and observations into words and type them in this blog. As I look forward to typing, as I type, and after I am done typing I am in a state of bliss, peaceful calm, and relaxation. All feels right with the world for a moment or two regardless of anything else going on in life.
As I thought about it today, my time to blog (both thinking about it and writing it) is time focused on myself. There is no outside noise or voice, only me and my thoughts. It is a moment of beautiful solitude in which I am able to focus and put the day into perspective. Those moments of solitude are truly amazing in our busy world. I love spending time with others, focusing on others, and being social with others, but I also need this time to be alone. In asking myself the question, “What am I thankful for today?” I’ve created a habit that allows me to focus on and enjoy solitude every day… and that’s a gift I am truly thankful for.
Today’s been a wonderful day! I got to sleep in (8am felt amazing!), had a great breakfast, drank some great coffee, went for a 4-ish mile walk with the girls, Becky & Dominic, fixed our dishwasher handle, spent some time in the workshop while Gavin finished his last Pinewood Derby car, and even had some time to play a few games. Pretty full day!
Earlier in the day I was spending time cleaning up a few desk drawers and going through some old flash drives and memory cards. In putting my phone aside for most of the day it’s amazing how much I’ve been able to accomplish over the past 48 hours! Instead of mindlessly looking at my mobile screen I’ve been getting other things done and have been much more productive.
While going through the old memory cards I happened across all of our pictures from our family vacation in Colorado almost six years ago. It was so much fun looking back to see how much fun we had and being reminded of all that we saw and did on that trip. Even more enjoyable was pausing to see just how much the boys have grown in this short handful of years. I couldn’t help but chuckle in seeing some of the pictures, especially the one with both boys on my back at once.
Today I’m reminded of how awesome vacation pictures are. They are like mini time capsules that bring back so many great memories with family, friends, and loved ones. Many times throughout the day I thought of a couple of those pictures and smiled. I’m also grateful for the reminder to take time to take pictures of the family while we’re on vacation.
Quick warning, you may lose some respect in my musical tastes after reading this 😉
Today has been a great day so far (and now we’re settling in on the couch for a family movie night). The morning started off with our normal workout routine, the boys both had a great time with their friends in the morning, we got some grocery shopping in, and I was able to get a lot done in my workshop. It’s been a very productive and relaxing day.
As I was making quesadillas for supper tonight I stumbled across a song that led me back to an album I had when I was about Gavin’s age… Invisible Touch by Genesis. I used to listen to that album constantly! Not only did I love the music, but it also had several very long songs which were great strategic choices for me as I went to bed. I would ask my mom if I could listen to a couple of more songs before I went to bed, and when she said yes to any number from 1 to 3 this was my go to cassette.
So there I was making quesadillas while maybe even dancing around a little and singing along with Phil and the gang. It was awesome! It had been a very long time since I’d last fired up that album and listened all the way through. Funny how so many lyrics can stick around the brain decades later!
After as fun as it was to trip back down memory lane I might have to fire up another oldie but goodie tomorrow!
Sometimes I can’t help but smile at the serendipity of the insight brought about by reading two seemingly unrelated books. Yesterday I consumed Atomic Habits by James Clear and today I started reading Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.
Atomic Habits was a great book pointing out how positive habits are created and negative habits are eliminated. Throughout the book I kept seeing myself in the Habit Loop, going from Cue to Craving to Response to Reward. In some cases it was a positive loop, but others weren’t nearly as positive. Mentally I tried to focus on having awareness of the habits in my life, good and bad, and started walking through all four pieces of the loop.
I’m not quite a third of the way through Digital Minimalism and I’m totally hooked. It’s putting my electronic habits front and center and I’m not liking what I’m noticing. Based on some of the advice from this book I’ve already taken action on a couple of small steps to help me be even more aware of those habits. It’s crazy! I had no idea just how much of my time I’ve been spending staring at my phone (pretty much a digital slot machine). With a couple of small steps I’m already starting to feel at little more in control.
So today has been full of awareness and action and it has been humbling, but has also been wonderfully liberating. When I get frustrated at what I am aware of I just remember that seeing the true gap between who I am and who I want to be is a great place to start taking action. Without awareness there is no call to action.