Day 1,280 – Thankful for the Friction Between the Security of Normalcy and the Possibilities of the Unknown

What a wild day it’s been! Nonstop twists and turns. It started off with the normal, an incredible peaceful and serene morning run. Throughout the day there were moments unlike any before as the chaos of COVID-19 seems to pop out from around almost every corner. Such an interesting day filled with normalcy and the unknown; both co-existing unlike anytime I can remember.

The way I see it, there are three options I can choose from. Thanks to the beauty of free will I’m able to choose whichever I’d like and then accept the consequences and rewards of each. Today I really saw the three options more clearly than ever.

I can focus on maintaining normal as best I can. I can be overly optimistic and positive and ignore the wild changes this virus has created. Yes, I’d totally enjoy living in a fantasy land, but I could do my best to live life normal and curl up in the warm blanket of the known. Odds are I’d have moments of happiness in doing the same things I’ve always done, but there would most definitely be things outside the norm that would drive me either bonkers or into a state of deep depression.

I can go with the flow, kick the known and the same old to the curb and go with the wild whirling dervish of change. Toss aside all the things I’ve been used to and become one with the constant chaos and upheaval of tradition. It would so freeing and liberating to be able to go in a completely different direction… but then I’d also have to set aside all the things that have gotten me to this point. All the tools and routines that have helped me be successful. Where would it all stop? At some point it would almost be like change for the sake of change. With no stability I am sure I’d slowly drift out of control and away from my goals.

So far neither option quite seems to fit, but that’s where today comes in. There were time in which I had to realize that I may need to let go of doing things certain ways because they’ve been successful in the past. The world has changed and I need to change with the times. On the flip side, there are com some concepts which are almost always the right answer; they just need to be deployed differently. In the face of constant change the right answer is sometimes found in drawing from the past.

It’s in third option that I found joy today. The changes left me feeling liberated to try new things. My foundation of past normalcy helped guide my responses in the chaos. Throughout the day there was this beautiful friction between chaos and normalcy. In the friction between willingness to change and holding onto the normal were many new solutions that were the best parts of both. Without that strain between them I wouldn’t have found what appear to be some of the correct answers.


Day 1,279 – Thankful for Glimpses of Humanness and an Answer From Dad

There are so many people I look up to for many reasons.  When thinking of each there are many moments in which I see their successes and am inspired.  These are the moments that “made them,” so to speak.  Many of us have heard of the stories of their greatness, incredible works, and career highlights.  We’ve heard of the miracles they’ve performed, the lives they’ve saved, and the ways they’ve changed the world.  I can’t help but be motivated and inspired by them in those moments.

At “home church” today we heard the story of Jesus and Lazarus.  As a lifelong Christian I’m sure I have heard that story well over a hundred times.  It’s one of the stories we hear every Easter season and is often quoted as one of the great things Jesus did.  For some reason something hit me a little differently today.  I didn’t realize just how the story showed a “human” moment of weakness in a couple of ways.

In that moment and in others like it I am so thankful to see the humanness of Jesus.  There’s something about seeing a bit of human weakness that helps me feel closer to Him.  One of my favorite stories is coming up very soon; when He prays in the garden of Gethsemane.  Instead of being the completely perfect being there is a moment when we see that even God in the flesh of man has a moment of human weakness.  It helps me understand that when I make a mistake it’s not the end of the world, how I respond to it is what is important.  There isn’t an expectation of living perfection, it’s not realistic.  By following the teaching of Jesus I can live closer to who I am called to be.  In seeing His moments of weakness I find I can follow him more openly, willingly, and closely.

As I thought about this while on our walk and in the quiet of my workshop I realized that it is in seeing the moments of humanness from all of my heroes that my ability to connect with them increases.  When I see their frailty I can more closely relate to them.  The seem more human than the super heroes they seem to be based on their accomplishments.  I am grateful for those glimpses of humanness.


While up in my workshop I got a little stuck on something.  It was frustrating me and I tried to fix it only to make it worse.  I drew in a deep breath and happened to catch the picture of Dad, the boys, and I that hangs on the east wall of my workshop.  All I wanted to do was call him to ask him for some advice.  As I still often do, and more often in the workshop than anywhere else, I talked out loud to Dad.

“Dude, I could really use your help on this one.  How the heck do I fix this?”

After saying it I felt better already.  It was like the stress lifted a little.  I took another deep breath, rubbed my cheek, and then looked at my project again.  Within less than a minute I had an idea spark in my head.  I grabbed my clamps (one of the tools Dad taught me to use more often than I ever thought necessary) and went to work.  It worked!  How crazy is that?  I’m not sure how or where the idea came from but I’m chalking it up as an answer from Dad.  If he was around to physically answer a phone call from me today I’m positive it’s the solution he would’ve thrown my way.  What a cool way to wrap up some quality time in my shop today.



Day 1,278 – Thankful for a Bonus Saturday

When Becky or I have a special event coming up we usually exchange the same banter. If there’s normally a gift that someone would give or receive for the event we usually have the following exchange:

Me: What would you like for your birthday?

Becky: More time.

First off, she was very surprised when I gave her just that once. I was able to find a Time Turner from the Harry Potter movies to help her travel back in time so she could be in more than one place at once. Too bad for her it was obviously broken. 😉

For reals, that’s the one gift that I’ve realized I would like more than anything. It’s wild to pause and think about how fast live has been flying by. Odds are that I’m either at or past the halfway point which just boggles my brain.

Part of the reason it flies by is that I’m always attempting to pack more in. There is so much I want to do and experience that life can sometimes turn into a sprint. I love it and I am thankful for life like that, but sometimes it leaves me thinking about the “what if’s.”

Due to social distancing for Coronavirus my Saturday went from fully planned to completely and totally unplanned. In some ways it was like having a bonus Saturday. With zero agenda here’s a brief rundown of the day:

  • Slept in until 9 – it was glorious!
  • Breakfast and coffee with the family
  • Family walk before the rain
  • Clean all the floors in the house and rearrange some stuff
  • Relax for a little bit
  • Eat a lunch of bacon and pancakes
  • Prepare a pan of sliders for supper
  • Went up to my workshop to work on a new project
  • FaceTime with Mom and Gavin
  • Make / eat supper
  • Watch Jumani 2 with the family all snuggled up on the couch
  • Give LuLu some bonus petting
  • Chill and blog
  • Go to bed long before 10pm

On a normal Saturday in March I’d be running Dominic or Gavin somewhere while Becky ran the other elsewhere. We probably would’ve gotten up early for yoga and gone grocery shopping late in the afternoon. Most likely church at night and then crash from exhaustion. Usually have a thought nagging in my head thinking I wish I had more time in my workshop or without an agenda. Busy.

Today was a total bonus Saturday and I’m thankful for it. A day like this was more peaceful than I would’ve expected. Usually I love being crazy busy. Today I appreciated the opportunity to go my own speed all day long.


Day 1,277 – Thankful for the Hiking Merit Badge

I am so thankful Gavin has decided to earn the Hiking merit badge for Scouts. Of all the badges he could’ve focused on during this time of social distancing it’s pretty much spot on.

Today we knocked out his first 10 miler at Perrot State Park. Gavin’s hiking plan had to be adjusted slightly as there were many people swarming the parking lot and main trail up Brady’s Bluff. We adjusted and went on several trails that are much less known and were able to avoid the crowds. In total we only saw about half a dozen small groups on the trail and we all have each other a very wide berth.

After spending much time in the house it was so excellent to get out and spend time outside. Being lost in the beautiful bluffs with my family was awesome and just what the doctor ordered. Throw in an awesome workout (just shy of 2,000′ of elevation gain) and it was perfect.

Without the merit badge I’m sure we would’ve had several walks, but nothing like this. With the specific goals to reach it’s helping to motivate us to do more than normal. Today I’m very grateful for the Hiking merit badge, it’s been an awesome experience for the entire family!


Day 1,276 – Thankful for a Short Commute, Lunch with Gavin, Supper at 5pm, and a Family Walk

Today I worked from home.  It was a trippy experience and will take some getting used to.  Not spending time with either of my sets of co-workers is going to take a lot of getting used to.  Video conferencing certainly helps but it’s just not quite the same. While there are so many changes, fears, frustrations, and so on from our current situation there are a handful of bright spots.

My commute today was one fo the shortest of my entire life.  I walked about thirty feet southwest, turned, and went up a flight of stairs.  From the top step I walked about 15 feet to my workstation.  Pretty brutal, huh?  My round trip travel time today was a grand total of four minutes compared to my old normal two plus hours.  Amazing how much more time there is in a day!

I usually head out to my car to grab a bite to eat and to enjoy a bit of quiet alone.  Today was quite the opposite.  I stopped working, commuted all the way home, and spent time eating and hanging out with Gavin.  We shot the bull, played a game, and then wrapped up with plenty of time to head back up for my next conference call.  How cool to have some bonus time with him throughout the day.

Our supper consisted of leftovers so it was pretty wild to stop working, walk in the house, and eat supper at 5pm.  I kept scratching my head thinking that it must be way later than it was after we ate.  This was almost an hour earlier than normal and was another example of finding extra time in the day.


After we ate we went off for a walk as a family.  Being able to have extra time together was great!  It was also so cool to see so many other people out doing the same.  Especially on days when we don’t have our morning run I really appreciate that extra time of chilling while getting a little exercise with Becky and the boys.

I really wish we could go back to normal, but there are many things to be thankful for in the meantime.  Sometimes I need to look a little deeper for them and other times they jump right out and surprise me like today.


Day 1,275 – Thankful for Virtual Happy Hours and Having Time Created

This evening a bunch of my friends and I got together to do something Becky had set up with her friends. We had a virtual happy hour! Talk about a great way to wrap up the day. Of course it’d be better to be hanging out with all of them in person, but this was a close second. At times it was crazy to think we were talking through the screens as it felt very much like hanging out as normal.

It’s funny how this is the second time in less than a week when I’ve had quality time hanging out with friends. Over the past few years it seems increasingly rare to find time to spend with everyone. Between work, events for the boys and other aspects of life we all seem to be moving in different directions. All the action and chaos makes it more and more difficult to line up times when we can all get together.

Of course I would prefer to skip the whole coronavirus stuff, but it’s interesting to find some of the positives in the situation. When we tossed this idea around there was no need for a back up date. We didn’t have to worry about who would be left out because they had something else going on. There wasn’t a concern about being done by a certain time so we could get on to the next appointment. We all have the time available. Throughout the beginnings of this challenge it’s amazing to find the gift it has given many of us, time.

This situation has created so much more time and slack to be able to focus on the things that are truly most important. I’d prefer to skip the whole thing for the obvious reasons, but it’s out of my control. With that being said I’ll make the beat of it and continue to enjoy and appreciate all the time that is being created for us to spend time with friends and family, even if it is online instead of in person.


Day 1,274 – Thankful for Receipt Bookmarks

Something I’ve been doing to help myself fall a sleep better is reading.  Normally I hop on my phone for a quick check of the world before I turn on my side and go to sleep.  I know, looking at light isn’t good before bed.  If I hop on my phone now all I see is news that leaves my heart racing and causes me to not sleep well.  If I take a lesson from Becky and read for a few moments before bed I feel tremendously better and get a more fulfilling night of sleep.

The book I busted out is a fiction I picked up a while ago.  I still remember buying it and reading it.  I can even tell you what new-ish CD I was listening to on repeat while I consumed most of the book.  For a moment I paused and thought about all the memories tied to that book and then started to do the math to figure out when exactly it all happened.  About that moment my book opened a little and my old receipt for the book fell out.  It was the bookmark I used when I first got.

On the day before Thanksgiving in 2000 I was headed off on my first major flight.  Up until that day I’d only been flying in one small four seat airplane.  I was flying out of Minneapolis to go see my new little niece who’d been born in Washington DC just over a couple of weeks prior.  My parents got me a ticket and I was off on my first flying adventure.  I still remember having no idea what I was supposed to do and just wandered through the airport without a care in the world.  With it being before 9/11 there was minimal security.  It was packed with people heading out for Thanksgiving.


I still remember trying to figure out what I was going to do to keep myself busy on the flight.  As luck would have it I happened to see this book in the bookstore.  The recommendations from two of my favorite authors sealed the deal and next thing I knew I was coughing up cash for the book.  Yes, I paid cash as I didn’t have a card or checkbook back then, but that’s an entirely different story for a different day 😉

Book in hand I headed to my gate, plopped myself onto a seat, put my headphones on, fired up my portable CD player, and started reading.  The sound of Lifehouse almost drowned out the rest of the world while I dove into the book.  I remember the rush of feeling the jet take off.  The sudden sound of the landing gear dropping caught me off guard and I jerked back to reality from my book.  My eyes went from side to side to see what others were doing – should I panic or was that normal?  I remember an older lady catching my eye and she smiled at me.  I’m pretty sure she knew exactly what had happened and quickly figured out that it was my first flight.  All in all it was a memorable experience.

I remember hanging out with my parents, my brother and then sister in law, and seeing my niece for the first time.  Much of my time there was a blur, but I remember how great it felt to be with my family as a family.  When my parents took me back to the airport to head home I remember it was raining lightly.  Dad said, “this isn’t going to be good,” just seconds before we saw a reckless driver in front of us lose control and slide across the right rows of traffic.  I remember getting to the airport and the flight back, the search for my truck in the parking ramp, and the drive home.

So many memories from that long weekend and that first solo-ish trip.  Of course I’ll always hold onto those memories, but sometimes it is so helpful to have something that helps bring them back into view.  Sometimes it’s seeing the book itself.  Other times the memories come back when I hear a certain song or two off the album.  Once in a while it’s when I see someone’s head jerk up at the first unexpected loud noise on a flight and I catch myself smiling at them.  This time it was an old airport bookstore receipt that’s been a bookmark for so many years.  I’m grateful for keeping that bookmark, somehow it’s been with me for almost twenty years!  I am looking forward to the moment in a decade or two when it falls out of the book again and takes my memory on an excellent adventure.


Day 1,273 – Thankful for Building a Base of Gratitude

We all have rough days.  We all struggle through tough stretches.  All of our challenges and obstacles are unique and very similar all at the same time.  Throughout our life we never know when we’ll face a trying moment.  One morning we might wake up and BAM! there it is.  Sometimes we’ll see the struggle coming a long ways away and we feel like the Titanic slowly cruising towards the iceberg pulled by our own inertia.  Times will be tough for us.  That’s part of life.

Throughout these past dozen days or so it seems like there are more and more of those moments.  Often they appear to be worse as they are magnified by all of the constant change and seemingly unending state of uncertainty.  In facing these moments today I caught myself being very grateful for something specific.


When the going gets tough, which has been often as of late, my mind automatically goes back to the base of gratitude I’ve slowly been building over the past four plus years.

“How can I be grateful for this?”

“Why should I be thankful this has happened?”

“What can I learn from this?”

“When will this experience come in handy in the future?”

As I ask myself these questions seemingly automatically I am always surprised by the answers.  Each obstacle and challenge I face is something to be thankful for.  The specifics might be negative or very unpleasant, but there’s always something to learn from the experience.  When I view it through the eyes of gratitude I find my mindset much more upbeat, optimistic, and hopeful.  If I view the frustration of the event I become angry, sad, and frustrated.  Gratitude has the ability to lift the heart through any situation, no matter how difficult.

Thank you to myself from over four years ago.  Little did you know then just how many challenges you would face.  Through each you’ve pushed on.  In many you even found a way to smile through it and become better as a result of the experience.  Gratitude, such an incredible gift we all have access to.  I’m so thankful for it!


Day 1,272 – Thankful for Home Church & Hiking

Day 1,272 – Thankful for Home Church & Hiking

Becky had a wonderful idea for us this weekend.  Our church has been cancelled but they have pre-recorded mass for the next few weeks.  The idea Becky had was to “go to church” as a family this weekend – at home.  We decided to do it this morning after we’d all woken up and showered.  She brought up the yoga mats (for kneeling) and fired up YouTube.

Talk about one of the most surreal and bittersweet experiences of this entire situation.  A part of me was thankful for the feeling of routine.  Another part of me felt ripped apart and empty.  I had no idea just how much the impact of being in a church full of of others really had on me as opposed to watching solo.  When church first started I could feel my eyes well up a bit as the realization of just how different life will be for a while started to truly sink in.  There were a couple of times I had to steady my voice as it almost cracked from the sudden and immense sense of loss I was feeling by not being with others in the congregation.  All of that said, I am so thankful for the experience as it is helping me realize just how grateful I am for the opportunity to go to church most weeks.  I sometimes view it as something I kind of feel obligated to do.  Missing it like this is really helping me see how blessed I am to have the opportunity to go each week.

For reals, there were some pretty huge benefits to being at home for church.  These were by far and away the most comfortable pews I’ve ever sat in (our couch).  This was the first time I was able to drink coffee in church – pretty nice side benefit.  When Father Dodge asked us to reflect on what we may have done wrong or failed to do this past week Zeke (our cat) immediately started meowing loudly and continuously for the entire time. I always knew he was evil, I guess I just didn’t realize how many horrible things he needed to confess.  There were a few jokes here and there amongst us.  The dogs and cat joined us for their first church ever – Gavin even gave the dogs each a cracker during communion.  At one point during the homily I paused and saw LuLu snuggling with Dominic with her head on his shoulder, Skywalker cuddled up with Becky and Gavin, and Zeke and I were tolerating each others existence.  None of these things had ever happened at church before so it was a cool change of pace.

Like I started with, it was a very bittersweet and so surreal.  I could focus on how frustrating it is to not be able to go to church or how much it sucks to not have the same routine but what good would that do?  It doesn’t change anything.  Knowing that my ability to go to church as normal is out of my control I focused instead on what I could control.  My family and I still had church and took time to worship as a family.  In doing so we created memories we will never forget.  I’m also hoping the boys see how we value our faith life as it is the reason we do what we do and live as we live.  Regardless of what’s going on in the world around us we will always have our relationship with The Big Dude Upstairs.

One other quick side note…  This was a another great reminder for me of how much better my life is with Becky in it.  Without her idea and focus I most likely wouldn’t have gone to home church with the boys today.  She helped raise my spirits and made a better version of myself today.  Chalk up reason number 1,536,839,348 of why I am grateful for her!


Shortly after church we packed up and headed out to do some hiking.  We headed off to one of our favorite state parks, Perrot, and hit a trail we’d somehow never done before.  Dominic is still working on his Cooking merit badge so he got the camp stoves going on top the bluff while Becky, Gavin, the girls, and I hiked a little extra and explored.  I’m always thankful for a meal made by the boys, it’s cool to see them showing their self-sufficiency.  The views from the top of the bluff were beautiful.  The time in nature was music to the soul.  As I’ve told Becky before, her church is the building and mass (or our house as it was today) but one of my favorite churches is the outdoors.  Spending time hiking as a family, enjoying fresh air, and experiencing all of the wonders of The Big Dude’s creations was exactly what my soul needed today.


Yeah, the world is very different and there is a ton of stress, nervousness, and fear due to the changes.  My mind is still trying to comprehend how different the world was just over a week ago.  The past 9 days have felt like years in some ways and a matter of hours in others.  The scary thing is that I’m certain that the scariest times and trials lay in our future.  With that in mind, there’s nothing I can do to control that.  All I can control is how I react.  I will continue to smile.  I will continue to love.  I will continue to find reasons to be thankful for this challenge.  Without this situation I wouldn’t have had so much time with my family this week.  There is so much to learn through this situation.  In some ways I’ve been more thankful to be alive than I have in a very long time.  Life is short, I am so grateful to be around to continue enjoying it.  COVID-19…  whatever dude, you will never take away my positivity, love, joy, and ability to find a reason to be grateful for any situation.  You can control what happens in the world, but I control what happens in my head, my heart, and my soul.



Day 1,271 – Thankful for a Family Hike at Wildcat Mountain State Park

Okay, I kind of feel obligated to start with this…  It’s a bluff, not a mountain.  Just for clarity in case someone isn’t quite sure of the geography in this area.  Just sayin’… 😉

Somehow we’ve never really gone to spend any time at Wildcat Mountain State Park.  It’s about an hour or so away and very scenic, but for whatever reason we’ve just never gotten there until today.  We’ve driven past it a few times but have never actually pulled in.  With a little cabin fever setting in Becky had the great idea to head over and go for a hike.  It was a great opportunity to enjoy being outside while staying well over 6 feet away from anyone (there was only a small handful of other people there and all small groups were spread out by at least a 10th of a mile).


We had a pretty excellent family hike up and down a few of the trails in the area.  The drift less area is so beautiful, this park showed off that beauty around each and every bend in the trail.  I can only imagine how awesome it must look in the fall.  There is no question we’ll be back again at least a few times in the future.

Both of the boys were using it as an opportunity to help them advance in Scouts.  Gavin is working on his Hiking merit badge so this was the first long-dish hike.  Next comes a 10 miler, another 10 miler, and a 15 miler to close it up.  Dominic has a few things left on his Cooking merit badge so he made, packed, and carried our lunches and trail mix.  How cool to be able to mix some family time in with physical activity and work towards their Scouting goals?

Yeah, there’s some very heavy stuff going on in the world right now.  It’s amazing how all of that stress and fear can melt away while spending time with family and enjoying the beauty of nature.  Throw in some pretty solid physical activity and it’s pretty much exactly what the doctor ordered.  Having the sun pop out often while hiking was an incredible bonus.  I am excited for life to get back to normal, but I’m also thankful for the opportunity to pause and enjoy some of my favorite things in life.