Day 931 – Thankful for Walking Barefoot on the Soccer Fields and Leftovers

Gavin’s first soccer practice of the spring season was tonight.  Amongst my favorite moments of the night was kicking off my sandals and proceeding to walk barefoot in the grass.  Yup, I’m kind of strange that way, but walking barefoot feels fantastic, especially on a soccer field.  It’s kind of my way of getting into the spring season.  Look out soccer fields everywhere, there’s about to be a lot of bare feet when I’m around!

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And no, this picture wasn’t from the soccer fields.  It was just the first barefoot picture I found.

Dominic had his first track meet tonight also so Becky and I divided and conquered.  As the parent rep for Gavin’s soccer team I had to be there while Becky headed out to Westby for Dominic’s track event.  With all the running around and heading in different directions I was thankful for one of my favorite meals on a night like this…

Leftovers!!!

For reals, one of my least favorite meals as a kid is now one of my personal favs.  It involves great food, very little cooking, and very little clean up.  When else is it acceptable to mix up what ever crazy combos of past meals into one tasty dish?  As our Spring gets more and more busy I’ll be pretty pumped for this dinner time staple.

Thanks!!!

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Day 930 – Thankful for a Delightfully Simple Question that Leads to Complex Thought

After finishing a fantastic book, Rejection Proof, I was reminded of a challenge from my favorite (and only) daily email.  Earlier in the year the author of that newsletter challenged us to re-read a small selection of books that we’ve already read in order to pull more depth from them than the first time.  I scrolled quickly through my downloaded audiobooks and then I stopped on one that I recently read, Atomic Habits.

Within the first couple of chapters I had to press pause as I needed time to process.  In my first reading of the book I was so pumped about the premise that I’d somehow not completely let one of the very first concepts sink in.  I can’t believe I missed it the first time, but it hit me right between the eyes this go round.  As my brain processed it I needed to take time to think through my answer to the concept.

The basic concept is that there are three layers of behavioral change.  Outcomes focused change is specific to an event, like running a marathon.  Processes based behavioral change relates to the systems we use, like utilizing a marathon training program.  Identity based change is focused on changing our beliefs, such as I run marathons because I live a healthy life style and I challenge myself.

In the past I’ve largely focused on focusing on one specific outcome, changing my processes to get there, and the impact can be a change in who I am.  It’s worked well for me in the past and I’ve been able to accomplish some pretty cool things and slowly alter my identity in a positive way.  An example of this is blogging.  I started with the outcome of blogging once per day for a year, followed the process of daily writing, and have become more thankful as a result.  It worked out well, but it reminds me of when I ran my marathon with Becky.  As it was very much a results or outcome based behavior change I fell into a slump once it was completed and eventually quit running with as much regularity.

The book challenged me to pause on the outcomes and focus inwardly first.  What is my identity and what would someone with that identity do?  From there determine the processes they would follow and then let that lead to the outcomes.  In going this way we find more sustainable behavior change as it is truly who we are.  It’s an interesting twist that really made sense when I read it this time.

So where do I start on this?  It starts with one delightfully simple question that leads to complex thought…  Who am I?  WHAM!!!  That one question hit me between the eyes and forced me to pause and think.  The interesting thing is that there were several parts that I am feeling much more confident in than I have been in the past.  I am joyful.  I am thankful.  I am healthy.

As I peeled back the layers of each of these I started to see where there are gaps between where I am and where I want to be.  In evaluating those gaps I started to find small behavior changes that would lead me to be more joyful, more thankful, and more healthy.  As I thought about those changes I started to see what I could potentially use as milestones on my journey to be more of those things to see my progress and determine future growth.  Most importantly, I can see how much more sustainable it will be as living those behaviors leads me to being more of the me I really am and really endeavor to be.

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At the heart of all of it was that one question that got me thinking and I am so grateful for it each and every time I ask it of myself…  Who am I?  The answer always seems to change a little, but I think I’m finally starting to zero in on it.

Thanks!!!

Day 929 – Thankful for the Boys Stepping Up Today and Time for Them to Create

With Becky down and out today the boys jumped right in and were a tremendous help to me throughout the day.  They volunteered to run errands with me this morning, including grocery shopping.  They both helped in making lunch and cleaning up afterwards.  At no point was there ever complaining or whining, they both jumped right in.  Not only that, but we had a lot of fun with the three of us.  We were incessantly joking around and creating fun around us as we checked everything off of our list.

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With getting everything done as quickly as we were able to there was also extra time for some creation.

A while back Dominic started playing keyboard on his iPhone and thought it’d be fun to try a larger keyboard.  We hopped on Craigslist, found one for sale, and Dominic bought it himself.  All afternoon he’s been playing away making music.  It’s incredible to me, he’s playing songs he’s heard by memory, not reading off of sheet music.  He finds the right starting note and then just goes by his memory of the song and has been playing away.  It’s been awesome hearing him create music and quickly picking up which song he’s figuring out.

Gavin and I headed up to the workshop to put the final touches on his “Kiwi Closet.”  Today we got the doors on and installed the lock.  Additionally, he learned to fill in the finish screw holes with putty.  It’s been pretty rewarding to see just how pumped up he is about his creation.

Time for some family game time!

Thanks!!!

Day 928 – Thankful for Incremental Growth and Many Thoughts of Dad

If you’d have asked me two months ago if I’d been asked if I could run 11 miles without extreme pain my answer would have been no.  After six weeks of training with incremental growth I can now say yes.  Each week our long run increases by one mile.  It doesn’t seem like a lot, it is not overly daunting, and yet it grows us towards our goal.  As I think about it this is a great lesson to remember when pursuing a goal.  I often attempt to take on too much, but one bite at a time makes much more sense for sustainable growth.  Today was a reminder to take one step at a time (literally!).

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Throughout the day there was a smile on my face.  Often my thoughts were pulled in the direction of my dad.  From fixing furniture to using his old Leatherman to seeing some of the rocks from his land there were so many little reminders of him.  While helping Dominic there were a couple of times when I heard Dad’s voice come out of my mouth.  It was also easy to hear Dad laughing in my ear in another one of those “Just you wait Mikey,” moments as I struggled with the blinds.

There were two moments that really got me.  The first was from a text I received from a friend today.  She’d taken her husband, his dad and his dad’s brother to the Twins game today.  In the text was a picture of the three guys all smiling big and said, “Like three kids in a candy store!”  That moment reminded me of times at Brewers games with my dad and my brother and the all fun we had.

The other moment was a classic “Pete” move.  The boys and I were walking into Menards when we saw a 50yo couple walking out of the store with a moving dolly.  Without pausing I walked up to the couple, smiled, and said, “You know, I’m pretty sure that it’s against the law to walk out of a store with a dolly and not use it to give someone a ride…” The couple stopped in their tracks and had a confused look for a second.  Then they looked at each other and smiles stretched across both their faces.  “You’re right!”  Next thing we knew the wife was on the dolly and her husband was first walking, then running, while pushing her.  Their laughter was loud and the smiles from everyone else nearby were priceless.  All I did was exactly what dad would have done and I could feel his arm around my shoulders as he laughed with joy at the fun the couple was having right along with me.

It’s closing in on two years he’s been gone and yet he’s still often nearby.  I am so thankful for that.

Thanks!!!

Day 927 – Thankful for Couch Time On a Friday Night and an Old Pic of Dominic and I

After doing my best to pack a full week of life into a short week back from vacation I was pretty pumped to have a night on the couch.  Dominic, Becky, and I all chilled and threw on a movie that I’m a huge fan of – Odd Thomas.  Between the movie, tasty popcorn, and couch time with the majority of the family it was the paradise I was looking for.

Spending time with Dominic also had me thinking about the picture I saw pop up in my memories a couple of days ago.  Imagine my surprise when one day an email pops into my inbox with this picture as the main topic…

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I still clearly remember how much fun the two of us had on that 5k.  If we were to do that today I wouldn’t even have a chance of hanging this close to him when he’d be this close to the finish line!

Whether we’re on the couch, in the workshop (sneak preview of our plans tomorrow), or running together I always appreciate time with Dominic.  He’ll be a high schooler next year, I’ve got to keep soaking this time up with him while I can.  Pictures like this remind me of how fast time flies and of how many great memories we already have together.

Thanks!!!

Day 926 – Thankful for Thundering Snowstorms

While white knuckling the steering wheel as I slowly drove to Winona this morning I was fortunate to witness something I think I’ve only seen a few times in my life…  a snowstorm that included lightning and thunder!

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Nope, this picture isn’t from today, but it was about as close as I could get.  Due to the condition of the roads there was zero chance of me pulling over to get a picture.  If you didn’t see it, you’ll just have to imagine it and see it in your mind’s eye like I’m doing now.

The skies were super dark, the clouds heavy and steely gray while not letting much light in.  Due to the sunrise there was a little of a yellowish red tint that made the entire hue of the earth a little of a glowing brown even in the darkish light.  On my right the Mississippi looked like a river of dark iron churning like the ocean on a rough day.  The wind was blowing the trees incessantly and many of the trees seemed to be bending further than they should.

As I did my best to keep my eyes forward and on the road I saw a quick bright flash to the north.  It took a moment for my mind to register what had just happened.  Once I realized it and then saw it again a smile pulled across my face.  Thunder and lightning in a snowstorm!  How crazy is that?  The rest of my drive I watched flash after flash, some much closer than I’d expected.  It was so beautiful with the snow in the background as everything seemed a little more crisp, clear and bright against the white canvas.

Trust me, by now I’ve pretty much tired of the gloomy, sloppy, gross weather.  With that said, I am still catching myself looking back at that awesome drive this morning and smiling all along.  One of my favorite parts of a vacation is seeing unique natural phenomena, how cool is it that I didn’t even have to veer off my normal course to see this today?

Thanks!!!

Day 925 – Thankful for a Day of Mountainous Ups and Downs

What a ride today has been!  I’ve been up to summits, down into valleys, and a little bit of everything in between.  There was even some time I spent scrambling through the field of scree that was tax preparation. In each of the spots, whether top or bottom, I paused to take in the view around me and find beauty in it.

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When I was on top I was immediately joyful and took time to breathe in the successes.  I focused on all the hard work it had taken to get to that point, all the challenges it took to get there, and the painful and frustrating moments that combined with the fun moments to create the success.  In focusing on the struggles leading to success I found deeper peace.  Those moments were when I was frustrated and wanted to quit.  Moments in which I just wanted it to be easier and to work out the way I desired, without the painful portions.  By surviving in , thriving in, and learning from and through those difficult times I was able to build the strength needed to get to the successful moments today.  The difficulties were the fuel that raised me to the summit that I was so enjoying.  In taking time to appreciate the difficulties along the way to success I found great joy today.  It made the taste of success even sweeter.

Today wasn’t all about being on the summit though.  There were a few steep descents deep into the valleys.  When confronted with difficult news I paused and occasionally found myself feeling bad for myself, feeling bad for others, and being very frustrated.  As I caught myself thinking this way I paused and thought about the times I’ve been to the summit…  not just today, but throughout life.  In thinking about those peaks I remembered the valleys I’d endured to reach the top.  When standing on top of those mountain tops I felt so strong and successful – specifically because I knew I’d faced incredibly steep and difficult climbs to get there.  It was the surviving of those treacherous times that made those victories feel so good.  I savored those memories of past struggles and pains and then took a fresh look at the valley I stood in.  Where there were once steep rock walls I saw challenges that would make the future success greater.  I could live in fear of pain and challenge, lay on my back, and look up at something I’d always long for but never reach.  Instead I chose to tackle the valley walls head on.  By climbing them, pushing myself, and willing myself up the cliffs I will grow stronger than before…  and reaching the peak of the mountain will be even more meaningful.  I took in the challenges, appreciated them for what they are, and then made forward progress to trek to the top.

How interesting that while on top I remembered the bottoms as they made the top feel more worthwhile, yet while on the bottom I remembered the tops as they reminded me that I’ve been through trials in the past.  It’s not always taking the easy call and enjoying the top while on top or wallowing in the bottom while on the bottom… it’s the focusing on what has made us stronger and on where we can draw strength.  It’s always a choice we each have.  Today I didn’t choose perfectly, not by a long shot, but when I remembered to tell myself to slow down and think I was more often than not on the right path.

Thanks!!!