Day 1,577 – Thankful for All the Stuff on the List Today

Days like today are amongst my favorites. For the past several minutes I’ve been sitting on the couch with my laptop ready to go. I’ve had the same blank screen staring me down for a few minutes while I think back throughout the day. My mind has been racing with many different things I’m grateful for today and I feel like my brain is spinning the the roulette wheel to see which gratitude I land on. In rapid fire session, here are some of the contenders:

  • Morning routines, habit stacking, and intentionality: This morning I started the day by reading my one page Stoic focus point for the day. The interesting thing was that it was talking about the power of morning routine! After reading that and closing my eyes to think on it for a moment I reached for my phone and reviewed my values and 2021 framework. I then went into a different note and read my updated dream list – which is now up to 34 and growing. By starting my day with this routine I’m reminding myself to focus on what’s most important first and priming my brain to be actively thinking about my dreams, goals, and ways I can best live into myself.
  • High energy, upbeat, and positive people: The energy of others can be totally infectious. Today I’m thankful for so many people in my life who’s attitudes, spirits, and positivity amplify my energy and emotions. To all of you who put a smile on my face today – thank you!
  • A Walk In the Sun: One of the benefits of working from the home office today was midday walk over lunch with Becky, Gavin, and the dogs. As luck would have it the sun was out and getting a combination of fresh air, exercise, and sun powered me to a very productive afternoon.
  • Flexing into strengths: My afternoon was largely spent in a couple of arenas that fit my strengths. One was a great client call focused on ways we will be working together the year. The other was finding ways to find, interpret, put meaning to, and then prepare workforce data into a useful tool for helping businesses attract and retain better employees. Living into a strong sense of purpose felt great.
  • Cooking supper: With the music on and the boys helping me cooking supper was a lot of fun! It may not have been the most gourmet meal ever, but there was a deep satisfaction in taking on a project, focusing 100% on it, and seeing it through to completion.
  • My weekend To Do list: Yes, I’m actually almost giddy to start knocking things off of my to do list this weekend. There’s nothing crazy complex nor anything exceedingly fun. That said, I’ve got a list of many small tasks to knock out and I’m excited to spend the day powering through.
  • Blogging to wrap up my day: Spending time thinking about today has me smiling even bigger than I have been through most of the day!

LOL – so… what am I thankful for today? All of the stuff! Yup, I’m totally going there today. I’m thankful for all of the stuff today. It’s been an awesome day and thank you again to everyone who had a positive impact on it!!!


Day 1,576 – Thankful for Choosing How to View the “Dreadmill” and Finding Ways to Blend Dreams

Due to the weather dipping below zero this morning I opted for the “dreadmill” instead of going outside. I fired up the TV and stared at it for a minute before deciding what I wanted to watch while I ran. Instead of filling my brain with something mind numbing I went back to something I learned a few years back. With a grin I typed feverishly on the TV remote and pulled up exactly what I was looking for.

Funny how a subtle shift in attitude can make all the difference. Instead of running on the “dreadmill” I hopped aboard the “dreammill” and watched something that was a wonderful blend of several dreams I want to accomplish. Some of the themes of my dream list include:

  • Enjoying the outdoors
  • Traveling
  • Physical activity
  • Mountains

What I decided to watch while I ran was this: a video of runners participating in skyrunning.

While I was running and going absolutely nowhere my brain was blown by the sights I was seeing on the TV in front of me. People running up mountains, running on almost invisible rock strewn trails, running past mountain lakes, and then running down snow covered glaciers. I had read a little about skyrunning before, but the video really sparked my imagination. By the time my run was done I’d added a few new entries to my dream list. Seeing a combination of several of those main themes added even more joy and motivation.


Day 1,575 – Thankful for a Second Short Vacation to the UP

You never know just how things are going to play out, all we can do is find the best way to roll with what we’re given. Becky had a perfect idea a few months ago when it became clear that COVID wasn’t going to be solved anytime soon. Figuring we all love the UP why not head back up even though we’d been up there only several months ago?

Ever since one of my first college search trips I’ve felt a pull to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My first drive up there was marked by the sight of a bald eagle sitting only feet off the road eating a deer. When I hit the brakes and turned around for a second look the eagle only glanced my way and went back to feeding with only two lanes of highway separating us. The landscape, the wildlife, the rock formations, the forests… the place just feels like home. There’s something about the place that brings a deep level of serenity to my soul.

The majority of my time in the UP has been spent there during summer and fall. Being up there to appreciate the winter was particularly awesome and added even more depth to my appreciation of the area. The side by side comparison of one of the waterfalls below shows how there is beauty to be found in all seasons up north:

After this weekend I can’t help but get even more excited for our next trip to the UP next summer. Who knows, may be there’s another long weekend or two in our future too!


Day 1,574 – Thankful for Appreciating Winter

Day 1,574 – Thankful for Appreciating Winter

Full disclosure, the first winter after we retire I plan on spending three months living in New Zealand. Our winter is their summer and one of my dreams is to live out of a camper van while touring around both islands. Even with everything I’m about to write, that is still my plan 😉

Gavin joined Becky and I for our snowshoeing this morning and we had a great time while Dominic snow boarded. I’ve written about the peacefulness of being in the woods the past few days so I’ll do my best to take this in a slightly different direction. What I enjoyed the most about snowshoeing and the rest of the day was appreciating winter.

For much of my life winter has been my least favorite season. I sometimes go stir crazy and spend time waiting for it to be over. With everything going on this year and with my focus on being outside I’ve really found this to be the winter in which I’ve fallen back in love with it. This probably sounds sick, but I’m thinking it might take over the number three slot from spring (fall being in first, summer a close second).

In the woods today I kept smiling as I drew fresh full breaths of cold air through my nose. The blanket of fresh snow covering everything accentuated so many features. The occasional unfrozen spring water caught our attention and really stuck out. The frost and snow covering the milkweed pods caused me to stop and take a moment to take in the view. All the branches were covered with a light coating of snow and sometimes when the wind would blow just right there’d be a little mini avalanche of snow falling from limb to limb until it hit the ground.

As if that wasn’t quite enough Becky had an awesome idea. After snowshoeing and a quick lunch we headed out to the same waterfalls we visited only seven months ago. The road into the park was almost impassable and completely void of any fresh tracks. We had the entire park to just the three of us and went from observation deck to observation deck taking in the spectacular sights from each. Have you ever seen a waterfall spouting the water through ice? It was wild!!! The ice formations around the water were so surreal and the snow in the surrounding forest valley enhanced the mind blowing view. That is a sight I’ll keep treasured in my memories forever.

Once we realized that we were only a few miles from Lake Superior we hit the road and hiked out to the beach we’d gone to this summer. The sand was gone and replaced with ice and snow. The waves slammed the shore and launched gallons of water into the air like we’d seen in the blowholes in Grand Cayman and Maui. The entire landscape was so frozen, wintery, and beautiful.

Only a year or two ago I would’ve groaned about it being winter. Over the past few days, especially today, I’m grateful for taking time to remember all the reasons I should pause to appreciate winter instead. What an awesome season that is full of its own forms of beauty!


Day 1,573 – Thankful for Profound Peace In the Woods While Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing through the snow covered forest is surreal experience. The white of the snow washes out most of the world into various shades of gray. Sound doesn’t travel nearly as well through the forest and bed of snow which causes an acoustically pleasing level of quiet. The only sounds heard are the crisp sound of the crampon of the snowshoe striking the ice crusted snow just right and a deep bass sound as my foot settles on an almost hollow sounding crust of snow.

Going into the woods during a winter day is medicine for the soul. The stress of outside life melts away as I have time to pause and reflect on what life truly should be. The quiet rhythm of footsteps crunching on the snow quiets my mind. Viewing the beauty of the trees, the little stream (separating MI & WI – kind of wild in of itself!), and the rocky outcroppings stir something deeper within my soul.

I cannot help but wonder with each footstep, “what if I never left the woods?” Would my soul find a deeper meaning and live a more meaningful life? Would I eventually tire of the setting and want to leave to return to modern life? Would I find that the magic of escaping into the woods is the escape and opportunity to exist in it for short bursts? Maybe one day I’ll find out and maybe I won’t. 😉

Today I’m grateful for the increasing level of profound peace within my soul during my time in the woods. I feel more rested than I have in a very long time and even more excited to truly live.


Day 1,572 – Thankful for Going Into the Woods and Snowshoeing with Becky

This morning Becky and I hit the trails for some snowshoeing and enjoyed some quiet time in a true winter wonderland.

There is a deep level of stillness to be had in the middle of the woods on a snow covered day that no words could ever truly explain. All the sounds of the world are muffled by the layer of snow on the ground. All the colors are amplified by the bright white of the snow. The air seems so much more dense and fulfilling in the cold. The lack of people around leaves me feeling like we’re alone in the Alaskan wilderness.

There is no stress. There is no time. There are no demands. There is only us in the moment exploring the beauty of nature. From bent and curvy trees to juts of rocky outcropping to curtains of ice draping over the entrances of caves the entire landscape is magical in so many ways.

As if all of this could not get any better… I was able to experience all of this with Becky.

I am grateful for this opportunity to snowshoe in the UP and enjoy going into the woods with Becky.


Day 1,571 – Thankful for Learning to Drive In the Snow In Northern Wisconsin

Driving through a snowstorm on lightly traveled snow covered roads can either be a nightmare or oddly peaceful and serene. Outside of being stuck behind a couple of people who certainly were seeing it as the former I was largely in the latter. When everything else is dark and the only color is the bright white of fresh snow in my headlights it can be a very awesome sight indeed. Everything takes on a black and white kind of feel. The little flashes of color – the vibrant yellow of a highway sign – seem to pop all the greater. Being surrounded by snow covered forest on either side add a comforting and warming sensation to the setting.

While I’m thankful for the peacefulness of winter driving like that what I’m even more thankful for is growing up in northern Wisconsin and learning to be comfortable and confident while driving in snowy conditions. The roads weren’t always plowed right away. Dad used to show Nick and I how the truck could fishtail in the now. One time I still remember him spinning us in an almost complete 360!

While it may not have been the safest thing ever, I remember often taking advantage of being on a quiet snow covered road or an empty parking lot and seeing just how the snow handled. Picking up speed, hitting the gas, turning the wheel hard, figuring out how to correct when owing control. At the time it was 100% curiosity and fun, now when I look back I see it as some excellent practice. Thanks to growing up driving in snow I’m able to take a deep breath and chill (pun totally intended) while enjoying the beauty around me.


Day 1,570 – Thankful for a History Lesson, an Outdoor Story, and Dream Fuel Rolled Into One Book

A few weeks ago I was wrapping up the second listen of Jim Collins on the Tim Ferriss podcast. When it was done I had intended to listen to a different one of Tim’s podcasts but somehow I’d screwed up and it wasn’t downloaded. As luck would have it there was one more podcast downloaded to my phone, but it was with some dude I’d never heard of. Seeing as I’ve yet to be disappointed with a Ferriss podcast I fired it up and listened to some dude named Steven Rinella.

How I hadn’t heard of Steven Rinella yet still leaves me shaking my head. Since listening to the podcast he’s come up in no less than four conversations. Rinella is an incredible outdoorsman, hunter, conservationist, survivalist (the practical kind, not the apocalyptic kind), and writer. After grooving on what he discussed in the podcast I pulled him up in Audible and downloaded one of his books, American Buffalo, In Search of a Lost Icon.

A story about one of my favorite animals, Alaska, the outdoors, and some science and history thrown in for good measure? Yes please! In just the first half dozen chapters I’ve learned a lot and have become very hooked. While running some errands tonight Gavin asked me to fire it up so he could listen as well and was very much quickly interested.

There’s a long ways to go, but I’m already grateful for picking this book up. It’s got my brain going in overdrive in a variety of directions and my urge to get back up to Alaska has never grown stronger. I love books like this that are focused in the headspace I’m already in. They amp up my energy, fuel more wild dreams, and are an excellent source of knowledge and wisdom.


Day 1,569 – Thankful for Signs of Intelligence, People Who Share Difficult Feedback, and Pausing Before Hitting Send

For a variety of reasons my mind has been reminded of The Stockdale Paradox often today. If you didn’t read my post about The Stockdale Paradox you can check it out here for more detai Throughout the day my mind was buffeted with possibilities and solutions. At one point I even said to myself out loud, “remember The Stockdale Paradox – how can I stay positive and optimistic while confronting these brutal facts?” I then sat in quiet while my brain searched for the answer. In only a few minutes I was back on track with planning for challenges while knowing it would all work out.

There’s a quote from F Scott Fitzgerald that also popped into my head as I was thinking about this challenge today. “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” This is exactly what the Stockdale Paradox requires – two opposed thoughts held in the mind at the same time.I’m also thankful for people who share difficult feedback today. It can be difficult to share tough feedback sometimes – or almost all the time. When someone is courageous enough or loves me enough to push themselves out of their comfort zone to provide feedback intended to help I am grateful for them. My life is improved by those individuals as they help me become better.One piece of feedback I’ve been given is that I send too many emails with too much information. At some point the message of each is lost in the sea of information. On a podcast someone once talked about never writing an email in their email app. Instead they wrote it elsewhere and let it sit for a little while. After considering the email and its importance they would only end up hitting the Send button on about 40% of their emails. Over the past couple of days I’ve kept that thought in mind. I haven’t done great with it, but it is funny how I’ve avoided a few emails that wouldn’t have furthered my purpose. Even the ones I’ve sent and then realize I should have waited on have caught my attention and showed me how I’m already growing by noticing that was the case. I’m grateful for the progress I’ve made and will continue to make on pausing before I hit Send.


Day 1,568 – Thankful for Going Into the Woods, Two Consistent Concepts, and More Questions Than Answers

My mindset of “Into the woods” doesn’t always mean a literal foray into the forest. Most often it is lived through taking a deep breath, looking inward, and focusing my attention inward. There have been several of those moments throughout the day.

Amongst the ideas rebounding in my skull today are:

  • Memories of the conversation with Dad when he removed the cabinet with almost no effort after I’d sweated and strained with no success. The core is remembering to pause, focus on seeing the entire picture, and then applying all of the energy in exactly the right place.
  • A podcast starting off very similar to parts of my own life – making the decision to quit smoking, lose weight, run a marathon, start a blog… and then he grew into his dream of writing for a living and has over 2 million followers. Where did our paths split and why? He was willing to pay the cost for one dream over another. This has me thinking about what my biggest dreams are and what I’m willing to give to attain them.

My mind has come back to these two core thoughts often for a variety of reasons several times each today. For both concepts – focusing energy in the right spot and choosing the right dreams to pursue – the right answers can only be found after taking time to think in stillness. If I am to answer both correctly I must go into the woods to create space to think.

The counterpoint to this is that there have been many opportunities to react as opposed to pausing to breathe. I could just as easily reacted with my initial gut feel, the first emotion, or just followed the deepest ruts of habit. Often it seems as if inertia of the moment pushes me towards action immediately instead of suggesting I pause.

I wonder if I spent enough time in the woods to focus could I have such clarity that I could both react immediately while also going in the direction that is the right one? If enough time was concentrated up front to attain more clarity would I be able to respond more quickly without requiring time pause?

Today I am thankful for taking time to go into the woods to process. This wasn’t perfect and I did not execute it as precisely as I would like – I have much work to do on this. That said, I am grateful for the times I took to pause and consider energy and direction as it guided me down the right paths.

In a weird way I feel like I may have asked myself more questions than answers with my blog today – and I’m grateful for that as well. Writing this blog is one of my favorite ways to escape to the wilderness of my brain each day to find inner peace.