Day 1,220 – Thankful for Laughing On the Couch with My Family

I’m thinking back through the past several days much of my blogging has been more deeply focused. Even today there were a handful of directions I was going to go, but one thing really jumped to the front of the line by the end of the night.

Becky and I have occasionally remembered great movies from way back in the day and once in a while we remember to dig them up to watch them with the boys. On Sunday we fired up Austin Powers and they really enjoyed it. Tonight we unexpectedly had an extra hour and a half of everyone at home so we fired up the second Austin Lowers movie.

After being gone last night it felt wonderful to set the rest of the world to the side, all pull up some room on our couch (one day I’m pretty sure I should be thankful for our sectional and love seat) and just laugh. The times when we were all laughing were by far and away the highlights of my day. Time with my family, sharing time and laughter, pretty much perfect.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,219 – Thankful for Connecting the Dots Backwards; Free Will, Fate, or Fated Free Will?

What are those moments that you can look back to and say they truly changed your life? How long was it before you realized that the moment had passed?

My mom and I recently had a very interesting conversation along these lines. Personally, I’m more of a believer in free will than in a predestined fate. That said, it really seems like sometimes The Big Dude Upstairs keeps putting the same cup in front of us until we finally give in an decide to drink from it instead of setting it aside.

When I review my life I can almost see a perfect decision tree of major life choices and events that have led to today. In looking back like that I can also start to connect the dots in other directions and start to see other possible realities. The further back I look the more different my life may have played out.

Quite possibly the biggest turning point of my life was on this night.

But would it really have been that different? Would it be as different as a 90 degree turn or would it be more similar to today than I would think?

This is where I have fun thinking about the possibilities and seeing the differences between the concepts of free will and fate. In free will I’d assume that each decision I make is totally of my own volition and there’s no preset destination. A believer of fate would say that it was meant to be and therefore it is. Both have their benefits and their drawbacks. Free will implies freedom, fate could be seen as a prison. Fate is a warming thought that everything will work out well, free will represents chaos.

The reason I’m thankful for connecting the dots backwards is due to the thought exercise itself more so than any possible answer. In thinking about all the little twists and turns, the bumps and the bruises, the good, the bad, and the ugly that have gotten me to here today I can’t help but smile. With the benefit of time and looking back I can see how many of the worst hurts helped to build to today. Many of the joyful moments have come and gone, faded and re-fired. Regardless – each has led me to today.

I am who I am today because of the life I’ve lived and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s far from perfect and far from imperfect, it is my life. I am me thanks to each of those moments. When I spend time thinking about how I got to here by connecting the dots backwards I am reminded to be thankful for each moment that has made me who I am.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,218 – Thankful for Early Morning Motivation Lasting All Day and a Unique Concert Experience

While on the treadmill this morning I fell back on an old standby favorite of mine. I put in my headphones and watched the 2018 Ironman World Championship. To see people pushing themselves to the brink as they swim 2.4 miles, hike 112 miles, and then run a marathon is a wonderful source of motivation. Watching them crush the previous record and do all that in less than 8 hours is mind blowing.

Hearing the stories of some of the other competitors? That’s where the truly powerful stuff comes from. The 85 year old man who completed the entire event. The brother who pulled and pushed his quadriplegic brother the entire way (& vice versa). Those stories are powerful.

Then there are the stories that hit a little too close to home. The stories that add more reality than I’d like to the powerful motivation. An older brother who was completing this race to complete the dream of his little brother who died tragically. His story and the way he tells it hits too close to the heart. A husband and wife who find she has brain cancer but are able to tackle it and have two boys… only to have it come back… and find that their one year old son also has it… and then the mother passes away… and then the son passes away months later. He completes the race as she wanted him to do and walks off after the finish line with his son. Talk about emotion first thing in the morning.

All of these moments and a few others throughout the day today reminded me to focus on what’s truly important and to be 100% present where I need to be. Each moment that passes by is one less moment we each have on Earth and one less that we have with our loved ones. This motivates me as I’m reminded to be so very grateful for all the blessings in my life and to appreciate each wonderful moment I have.

The stories from above of the brother and the husband also remind me that it is up to each of us to find a way to continue to live through hardships, no matter how great. No matter what is thrown our way we can find the inner strength to live on. There’s also a beautiful peace of mind in knowing that should something unexpected happen to me my loved ones will find the same inner strength and live on. My faith also strengthens those beliefs and brings me great inner peace as I know we will all see each other again one day regardless of when each of days on Earth are complete.

Whew!!! That ended up going way deeper than I was thinking it would. I could add another gratitude in here for being thankful for blogging each day. It really helps me work some stuff out.

Gavin looks way too serious and Dominic is messing around. Nothing like a little role reversal!

On a much more positive and lighthearted note, I’m also thankful for a moment we shared with the boys tonight. The middle and high school bands got together for a concert tonight. For the first time ever we got to see both boys on stage for the first time! Kinda… We could necessarily see them both at the same time as we had to crane our necks one way to see Dominic and then another to see Gavin. Anyways, they were both on stage and playing together. It was so cool seeing them both doing something they enjoy so much! Seeing each of them do their thing is awesome, but seeing them do something together is about as awesome as it gets!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,217 – Thankful for Learning From the Boys’ Strengths

Not too long ago I wrote about being thankful for my changing perspective on why I appreciate giving advice. Tonight it was a similar thought process as I saw both of the boys living into some of their strengths. There was a sense of pride that was intermingled with a sense of learning.

Dominic has been doing a ton of homework lately. After he was done tonight I asked if he was going to have that much all week. His response was, “no, tonight I finished my project that’s due on Friday.” From that I was reminded of two great things, hard work and being proactive. In my head I immediately took it to heart and applied it to situations I currently have and how I can perform at my best.

Gavin was in a bummer of a mood after basketball practice. I let him be in the dumps for a while and then reminded him that he has a choice to make. Be happy or be in the dumps. Which one would it be? He flipped the switch and went to a great mood immediately (until we, the mean parents we are, made him go to bed). Watching Gavin flip the script and choose to be happy, wholeheartedly, was awesome. I started thinking about times over the past couple of days when I should have been that decisive in choosing my attitude. He reminded me that i have the power to choose at any time.

Funny how I’m learning from my boys! It seems like it should be the other way around, but in reality I should be learning from everyone I interact with so why would they be excluded?

Thanks!!!

Day 1,216 – Thankful for Summer Planning, Walking with Becky, and the Sting of Missed Opportunities

It is crazy to be thinking of summer plans already, but that’s something g we’ve been doing a lot over the past week or so. Between events and stuff for the kids, time with family and friends, and even an adventure or two there’s a lot we like to pack in… and that’s not even including quiet weekends with no agenda. Taking time to figure it all out and get the most important stuff locked in first helps us make the most of our limited time.

Not only does the planning help for organization, it gets me excited for the summer and what we can expect. Just talking about what we’ve got on the docket for the summer has me feeling warm and happy on a cool and cloudy winter day.

Much of the conversation of planning today was had while walking the dogs with Becky. I know I’ve written about it before but I’m so grateful for our walks together. The runs are awesome too, but the walks seems to involve a little more conversation (I’m not breathing nearly as hard as during the run) and are more relaxed. With all the crazy in our lives it’s nice to have some time to just the two of us to reconnect, plan for the future, and strategize how to tackle the next week. Heck, we even just shoot the bull sometimes!

The other thing I’m thankful for is not one that I’m proud of, but one that I’m still very thankful for. I didn’t live into the best version of me today, not by a long shot. There were several missed opportunities I had to step up and I didn’t. While they still sting a bit as I lay in bed and blog I’m thankful for the knowledge that I could have done better.

Some days I feel very confident that if it were my last day I’d be ending on a high note. If today was my last one it’d be a bit disappointing. That sting of knowing that I screwed up will motivate, push, and drive me to do a better job of closing the gap this week. Long story short I need to remember to focus where I need to be and be intentional with my time and attention. I will do better tomorrow and have already started charting a course for a better day and week.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,215 – Thankful for a Reminder of the Importance of a Wonderful Lesson

Days like today leave me stumped for a little while. When I truly think about the day I’m flooded with gratitude for so many wonderful moments and reminders. Thanks to a wonderful podcast I even woke up thankful to be alive, thankful for another day, and thankful my loved ones were with me. Learning moments for both boys, yoga, time with family, a sermon that had me thinking, a beautiful song, and so many other wonderful things were all observed with a great deal of gratitude.

As we wrapped up the night Be my, Gavin, and I watched Hacksaw Ridge. Wow, talk about a powerful movie!

While the emotion of the story was incredible I found myself with tears running down my face for another reason. How is it possible that mankind is capable of inflicting such horrible atrocities on itself as portrayed in this movie set in World War II? The fact that this truly happened (the battles of the war itself more so than just the movie) blows my mind. My heart aches for past generations who had to live this.

Between the movie, the sermon at church, and so many wonderful books and articles recently I was reminded of what may be the most important lesson shared with humanity. For those of my readers who may not be into the religion thing please bear with me. The lesson comes from Matthew 22:37-39. Whether Christianity is your jam or not please hear me out.

“And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

To me the first line speaks to being thankful to a higher power, be it God, Allah, the Universe, or even The Big Dude Upstairs. It is a reminder to be grateful for our existence. Our higher power also helps us live into being the best possible versions of ourselves that we can be. In learning about and loving The Big Dude Upstairs (btw – I use “dude” without any gender classification because I personally feel that arguing the gender of God would totally be missing the point in the first place) I have a more clear vision of who The Big Dude Upstairs is falling me to be. To sum it up, by loving God I have the opportunity to live into the best possible version of me. That point is so important as it sets the stage for the second portion.

If I have an idea of who the best me could be I need to love my neighbors as that best possible version of me. Not just neighbors, but all people. Even the ones I don’t necessarily like. The best version of me who loves my neighbor as I love myself as I am a reflection of The Big Dude Upstairs means I have to love everyone as I love The Big Dude Upstairs as they are a reflection of The Big Dude also. Yeah, I’m pretty sure there’s some circular logic going on there 😉 but I think you get what I’m saying.

If I truly want to be the best version of me I must love EVERYONE as I love The Big Dude Upstairs. Period. It’s no big secret that I am very much not a fan of our president and I’m almost certain to vote for whoever runs against him, even if it is literally just a baked potato. In fairness, there are several folks on the other side who would also love my vote to the aforementioned baked potato. Regardless of my thoughts of the sub-baked potato politicians I must find a way to love them as I love The Big Dude Upstairs. Talk about a Herculean task!

All that said, I have the option of loving them and others or not, it is under my control to choose my emotions towards them. I decide if I love them, like them, tolerate them, dislike them, or hate them. Deep down in my soul I know that anything short of love is a mistake. Each step from love is one step closer to hate.

As I watched Hacksaw Ridge and toured the WWII museum earlier this year I saw very clearly what hate can lead to. When we allow hate into our hearts we lose our humanity and are capable of the most awful crimes against each other.

We must love our neighbors as we love ourselves, but in order to do that we must love our higher power with all our heart, mind, and soul as that love strengthens us and shows us how to love ourselves first so that we may love others as a reflection of the way The Big Dude Upstairs loves us all.

I truly feel we can live in a world with no more war and hate if only we each focus on love rather than the differences that could divide us.

Wow, that went way longer than expected! To each of you who made it through, please let me know your thoughts. Did I miss the make or was there a point I should consider? Please speak up and don’t be shy.

‭‭Thanks!!! and… I love you all! Thanks for being awesome and loving people!!!

Day 1,214 – Thankful for the Question “Which Possessions Own You?”

Which possessions own you?  How’s that for a deep question on a Friday night?  Let that one sink in and ferment in your brain over the rest of the weekend.  If you have some answers that you’d be open to sharing please do so, they’ll most likely spur on thoughts to help others as well.

Just a couple of days ago I shared how much I was enjoying journaling using a book with a thought provoking question each day.  Each morning I read the question and jot down my initial thoughts.  Later in the evening I write down what else has come to mind from that question bouncing through my brain all day.  To be honest, I didn’t write anything down last night.  I didn’t read today’s question either.  That question from yesterday has been stuck in my head and has appeared in my brain often in the past 36 hours or so.

Which possessions own you?

It seems so simple at first, right?  I’m not much of a “stuff” kind of guy so I didn’t immediately think about physical things.  After some time I thought about some of the little mementos from loved ones and incredible experiences that I hold dear.  Losing them would be difficult, but I don’t quite feel that they own me. 

As I’ve dug deeper into the question I realized that my memories are a possession that in some ways own me.  Remembrances of past adventures are very important to me.  I often blog about those types of memories.  What if I were to lose them?  In some ways I write my blog as a back up to my mental hard drive.  If my internal CPU fails I want to be sure to be able to restore them as much as possible.  My memories own me in many ways. 

My desire to create more of them also has ownership of me.  The thought of staying in one place all year and not traveling feels literally suffocating to me.  My passion for travel and experiencing the natural world have ownership over me. 

 The big one?  My family and friends.  My relationships.  Those who are near and dear to my heart.  They have the ultimate ownership of me.  I would do anything for them.  I don’t want to imagine not having them in my life.  From losing Dad and grandparents I know this will happen and my heart will be broken each time.  Fortunately all wounds heal and I will eventually recover, though never quite whole in the same way.  A new type of whole, but not in the way I was when I was around.  The thought of dropping everyone and leaving all of them behind forever is one that even my crazy imagination can’t even begin to comprehend.

Which possessions own me?  Is it okay that some do?  Should nothing have ownership of me?  Occasionally fear takes control and ownership of me, sometimes I fight it off, and other times I succumb to it.

I’m thankful for the deep question as it has my mind going in a million directions – all in positive ways of helping me explore who I am and how to be the truest form of me I can be.

Thanks!!!