How could I not be thankful for Becky today? Funny thing is that I’m finding myself more and more thankful for her each day. Whatever life throws our way we’ll continue to figure out a way to keep on smiling, growing, and living.
Going through all of the pictures from the past year pretty much blew my mind. So many memories over the past 366 days!!! What I found especially wild was how much we did in the first six months of her forties – I can’t believe we packed in as much as we did. Even when COVID hit we found a way to continue to pack more adventures in during the last six months.
My life is complete when I have the opportunity to create and share so many memories with her. The times we spend adventuring (on vacation and at home) are always appreciated. Her smile brings me joy in even the toughest of times, her love inspires me to be better than I would be without her, and her grit and determination push me to work harder. Beckys brings out the best in me and my life is so much more full of joy thanks to her!
The pictures I pulled from the past year left me smiling and chuckling. One thing I noticed is that if she could only choose one family member to live with the rest of her life the boys and I would be out of luck the boys. See what I mean when you look through the pics?
How did today seem to fly by so quickly? Oh yeah, that’s right, it was non-stop from start to finish! Sitting here on the couch I might just pretend to blog for a while and really just take some time to sleep with my eyes open as I take in the quiet and calm.
So what am I thankful for today? Hmm… I’ve got a list, it’s been a good day.
Becky had an awesome idea to start the day – bike to yoga, do yoga, and bike home. Getting up and getting moving right away was exactly what I needed. There was a definite calm from yoga outside at the park and it felt so good to just chill while exercising. The bike ride was a great opportunity for Becky and I spend some time shooting the bull, including many stories of “way back in the day.” By the time we got back home I was feeling chill and well grounded.
One of my teammates shared the idea of grilling bacon today and they were 100% correct in how delicious it was. Dang! We might have to do that more often… the bacon didn’t last very long after it came off the grill. If my family had a super power I wound’t be surprised to find out that it was the ability to make one pound of bacon disappear. 😉
Gavin had his first soccer game of the season in Waterloo, Iowa. We were very happy with the social distancing and safety measures taken so we headed off to Iowa shortly after the bacon disappeared.
Funny how we often thing of the windy road and the scenic route as both being longer than the shortcut. Today the windy & scenic routes converged (at various times) while becoming the fastest way. It was a cool combo! I’m pretty sure I’ve never been to Waterloo before and the way we took was all new to me after we passed through Deborah. I have to admit it was neat to see some new scenery and a different city like that.
Something else I’m thankful for – though it’s kind of tongue in cheek… I’m glad my parents taught me to use my blinkers when I drive. And in the famous words of Forrest Gump, “and that’s all I have to say about that.”
Watching Gavin’s first games of the season was awesome. He has grown so much in the past year and seeing the physical change out on the field was great. His effort was up, the speed was up, and it was clear that he’s improved quite a bit since last year. I forgot just how much I enjoy watching the boys in their sporting and extra curricular events.
During one of the halftimes we went to a completely empty soccer field. Becky went for a walk and I challenged Dominic to a 1 on 1 game of soccer. This might surprise you, but he won (shocker, right?).It may have only been a few minutes long, but we had a blast – especially when I totally burned him with a couple of sick moves, one that found me misstepping and tripping on the ball. Whoops! At least I scored a goal in the last seconds to make it a respectable 1-2 loss. Spending time with him playing like that was pretty dang awesome!
I’d be remiss to leave out our trip to the drive through of Chick Fil A… ahh..
One of my favorite things in the world is how my friends and I can jump into conversation after extended periods of time an not miss a beat. Tonight we did just that!
Through the magic of Zoom we were able to hang out while practicing good social distancing across three states. No agenda, no plans, just hanging out shooting the bull about whatever topic we happened to land on.
The funny thing is that on each and every topic we were repeating modernized versions of days gone by. At one point we started talking about something that reminded us of an almost exact conversation we had over four years ago.
Somewhere a long time ago I heard someone offer a description of a friend being someone you can hang out with and not say hello or not say good bye, and jump right back into conversation when you get together the next time. That basically nails it with my friends and I. Time may impact everything, everything except the time we spend together.
Becky recently recommended a book for me to read. I ordered it up on Audible.com and have been consuming it. The book is Waking Up White by Debby Irving (you can check it out here).
My mind has been blown with new insights again and again and again. At seemingly every step of Debby’s interesting story I catch myself nodding my head in agreement. Several times I’ve started a thought based on the previous chapter and then the very next chapter reminds me to slow down because my idea was once the same as hers and then she realized she didn’t quite have it right. Her openness and humility are so welcomed as it helps me see that I am not alone in those thoughts. This is definitely a book that will stick in my mind and change my thought processes and actions for years to come.
The stories she shares has helped me start to get my head around what I’ve been missing as I think of race. I’ve always considered myself open minded, kind, and accepting of all types of people. This book has helped me see many things I’d never noticed or imagined and has left me shocked that such things still continue in the world. The true life stories break my heart and have helped me start to see what I’d been glossing over through much of my life. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone and would be happy to grab a cup of coffee and talk about it if anyone would like after they’ve read it.
Last night the Milwaukee Bucks made an incredibly bold decision. Instead of taking the court for their NBA playoff game last night they chose to boycott the game in the name of equality. Shortly after their incredibly bold move the NBA postponed all the games for that night, a couple of baseball teams did the same, as did others in the sports world.
If you disagree with their decision, that’s up to you. I’m not judging you or the viewpoint of Bucks. Each of us has an opinion, usually very deep seated, about a situation like the one in Kenosha. We won’t get into that here and that’s not exactly the point of my gratitude today.
What I am thankful for specifically is the guts and courage the Bucks showed in standing up for something they believe. How inspiring to see a group of people so willing to show their support for something that they are willing to choose taking a stand over doing something they love and are paid well for. They knew some people would disagree with them and they may lose some fans (I truly hope that number is very small to help keep my faith in mankind), but they did what they felt was right regardless. They had the guts to do the right thing. Bucks, kudos to you all. Thank you for reminding us that we should all be so bold! I can only hope to be so courageous and bold when fighting for something I believe in as well. Thank you for leading by example and showing how big of an impact a small group of people can make!
Birthday season continues in our house with Dominic’s birthday today! How in the world have 15 years flown by so quickly? Looking back through all of the pictures of Dominic from the past years leaves me dropping my jaw for many reasons.
He’s grown so much, it’s crazy!!! Give him another year or so and he’ll be looking down on me, how wild is that?
The number of new hobbies and interests that Dominic has taken on over the past year has been impressive. In addition to his mad Cubing skills he’s added a handful of other activities to his repertoire including skateboarding, butterfly knives, boat driving, home improvements, and bicycle repairs. Did I mention his snowboarding? Even in the summer he’s put on his boots and board and has been out practicing on a blanket in the backyard!
This past year Dominic’s really grown into his own personality. I’m so appreciative of the depth of conversations we can get into and then quickly jump into humor and joking. His work ethic continues to shine and there’ve been several opportunities for his to continue growing his leadership skills. He’s maturing so rapidly and I’m so proud of the person he is growing into.
I went through all of the pictures from the past 366 days and found some great ones that really highlight many of the things I love and appreciate about Dominic and his personality – enjoy!
Dominic, happy birthday bud!!! Love you tons and I’m so proud of the person you’re continuing to grow into dude!!!
I love when everyone in the family reads the same book. It’s so much fun being able to talk about the story and have everyone involved. Becky and Gavin just wrapped up Ender’s Game this week. Dominic and I read it a while back and both loved it. Over the past few days it’s come up in conversation more than a couple of times and I enjoy being able to talk about it and hear their takes on it.
What made this even more special was that I just happened to be in the room with each of them when they hit a certain part of the book. I won’t say anything more than that in case you haven’t read it, but if you read you already know exactly what I am talking about. How I happened to time it perfectly twice like that blows my mind! Hearing their reactions cracked me up and reminded me of when I read it a while back. So awesome!
I’m thinking we may have to figure out another book for all of us to read in the not too distant future again. It’s a little difficult finding one scratches each of our unique itches, but when it happens it’s pretty awesome.
LOL – so my inspiration for today’s blog came from earlier today, but I was just reminded of why I’m thankful for this after attempting to write my blog in the living room while Gavin watches an episode of Parks and Rec.
When we learn something new and put it to use it is very helpful. When we practice that new skill it becomes more useful. When we blend in other skills we can turn it into a habit.
With so much focus on what I am putting my thoughts and energy towards I really looked at today very differently than I would have a couple of weeks ago. Instead of attempting to pack too much in I kept some flexibility. When things started to twist a bit off course I paused, took a deep breath, and created a buffer. I realized I’d set a self-imposed deadline that wasn’t necessary. Putting the busy-ness of the day with the newly re-learned concept of having a buffer I made a move that significantly lifted stress off my shoulders while simultaneously creating more space for me to perform better at what needed to be done. A couple of weeks ago I would’ve plowed right through and not completed as much as well.
One of the things that made a big difference today was adding a thought process from Atomic Habits to Essentialism to help me embed the behavior I wanted to live. The exact thought exercise was to pause and think, “how would someone who was an incredible essentialist respond to this moment? How would they react?” In removing myself from the situation the solution was clear. Move back the deadline and create some buffer space. Once I had that answer I moved ahead and felt much better.
There was another habit I started using a similar mindset. Gavin’s practices for soccer are at 5:30 and end at 7:00pm. Two nights each week I take him and Dominic to Gavin’s practice, drop him off, go to the YMCA with Dominic, weight lift, and then pick up Gavin. When I think about what’s important to me this habit covers so many bases. I get to spend time with my boys, I get 1 on 1 time with Dominic, I get to exercise and become more fit, and I have the opportunity to make Becky’s life a little easier. Talk about wins all around! Instead of packing random stuff in or dropping off, going home, driving back, and picking him up I am able to use that time to live into how I feel the true version of me should live. It feels great!
As I started the blog with, there was another reminder of progress I am thankful for today. I need to eliminate the distractions when I want to get something done. I thought I had the will power to resist the urge to watch the TV show with Gavin while I typed, but I was wrong. After watching for several minutes I realized I needed to eliminate the opportunity to not focus so I headed downstairs and am blogging where it is quiet and peaceful. Am I going to stay focused and head straight to bed? That is yet to be decided 😉
Today I’m thankful for the opportunity to practice the ideas I’ve been working on and to hone my thought processes instead of letting my old bad habits control my day.
Talk about beautiful bookends to the day. This morning Becky woke me up early so we could get our bike ride in and we caught a brilliant red sunrise. This evening we went for a walk a little later than normal and caught a brilliant orange sunset. Nice bit of symmetry for the day!
What a lesson I learned today! There’s been a pile of old project supplies I’ve needed to take back to the store for quite some time. When I got all the old receipts together and got everything ready to take back I noticed something odd on all the receipts. There was a date in which you could no longer return something. I was furious! I figured I’d still go to return them, but the entire way there I was thinking about how they would say no, how I would try to negotiate, how I would ask for the manager, and the tizzy I would throw when they denied me. I should go back and look at my heart rate monitor, I’m sure I had quite the spike for 15-ish minutes. I was so wound up I had to take a couple of deep breaths before I walked into the store.
Guess what happened?
“No problem at all, let’s get everything rung up. Would you prefer cash or in store credit for everything? Would you like it to be one transaction or several?” asked the service desk person with a huge smile.
I couldn’t help but laugh at myself all the way home. How foolish for me to worry and get worked up? Not only did it do zero good, but it was totally unnecessary. With everything I’ve talked about with gratitude and presence it was disappointing to lapse like that. That said, I am thankful for the experience as it reminded me how much more I have to learn and why I focus on gratitude.
While listening to some old music today I realized something pretty wild. Many of the songs I’d felt like I’d identified with in the past just didn’t quite ring as true today as they did back in the day. It was rather strange, all these lyrics I used to feel hit very close to home now felt almost uncomfortable.
When I stopped to think about it I realized something. The growth and focus on gratitude and presence has helped my attitude and joyfulness more significantly than I’d realized. In the past the songs were about dreams that hadn’t quite come true, things I wanted instead of wanting what I had, living in the past and the future. The lyrics got me thinking about how that situation could be turned into a positive, how the singer should focus on the present instead of looking ahead, and so on. It was crazy! That’s when I realized how much progress I’ve made. There’s still so far to go, so much to work on, but seeing a measuring stick moment like that is something I am very thankful for today.
What a beautiful sunny day it was! With a few of our nephews in town it was the perfect weather for heading out on the pontoon. So much sun, many laughs, tons of outdoor time. Perfect! While it seems like the weather has worked out a lot for us this year today was another one to be thankful for.
While out on the water I read while the boys played. I finished reading Essentialism for the umpteenth time. Of all the times I’ve read it I don’t know that I’ve taken my time to read it this in depth. It seems like I’ve gotten so much more out of it this time than in the past. I’ve read a lot of other books since the last time I went through it. Since the last time I’ve read it a lot has changed both personally and globally. Reading this time through a lens polished with new thoughts was quite enlightening.
I’m finding some very common themes across the books I’ve been reading lately. One of the core concepts in almost all of them is stripping away the extemporaneous in favor of living simply. This has really struck a chord as I’m finding just how difficult it can be to live simply. I don’t just mean get rid of worldly possessions and whatnot, but all of the extra “stuff” going on in our lives at any given time. The projects or meetings at work that don’t truly move the dial. The attention focused on non-productive things like surfing the web and social media. Everywhere I turn there’s something else vying for my attention, time, energy, and resources. Which leads to the next common theme…
Actively choosing how to live. Each moment of each day we may not control the circumstances around us, but we all have something that can never be taken from us… Choosing how we live. Our attitudes, thought processes, and perspectives are up to us to choose. Similarly, it is up to us to choose where and how we spend our attention, time, energy, and resources. By not actively choosing we are allowing someone else to choose for us. This book and the others before it remind me that it is up to me to actively choose how to live my life.
Another thought that permeates is remembering that I am finite and I will not live forever. I had a wonderful conversation with a friend about this topic recently. In the past I’ve written about my occasional trips to a cemetery to remind me that I will die. This isn’t a cold or dark thought, rather it’s one that leads to great joy. When remembering that there is an end I am reminded to live in the present and enjoy the life I have. If I don’t take time to remember that it is so easy to waste so much time. In this reading of the book there were so many reminders that I need to stay present in the moment and focus on what is truly important to me in life. To suck all the marrow form the bones of this life.
Whew! I wasn’t planning on going quite this deep tonight, funny how sometimes my daily blogging works as a release valve for my brain.
Here’s the cliff notes version. I’m thankful for the beautiful weather we had today as it helped make some wonderful memories on the water. I’m thankful for re-reading Essentialism slowly and deliberately as I got even more out of it than in past readings. I’m also grateful for all of the books, articles, podcasts, and life I’ve lived in the past year or so that continues to help shape me. The gap between who I am and who I should be is still more expansive than I’d like, but each day I continue to focus, think, and live in the present I can close the gap inch by inch. Slow but consistent progress.
How in the world has yet another year flown by so quickly? It feels like it was just last week that I was blogging about Gavin’s birthday. Here we are again already, another birthday in the books for Gavin. At 12 years old I’m floored when I consider that he’s 2/3’s of the way through his time at home already. In just a handful of year’s he’ll be heading off to college about this time.
I’m thankful for Gavin every single day – though some more than others 😉 He’s non-stop, upbeat, positive, kind, energetic, happy, smiling, joyful, playful, respectful, and has a huge heart. Over the past year his maturity and personality have continued to blossom and I’m so thankful for him.
In following along with my tradition I went through all of the photos of him from the past year and found a handful that remind me of different reasons I am thankful for Gavin.