Day 1,646 – Thankful for Early Hikes, Dominic’s First Soccer Game of the Season, and the Greatest Catalog of All Time

4am never felt so good!

Today I hopped out of bed at the ripe hour four in the morning to start my day. After spending time researching our backpacking plans for the summer last night my mind was racing. I’d pulled the maps of the routes to see the elevation gains for each day. Nothing too crazy, but there are a couple of thousand foot days. We’ve also got a couple of mountain hikes with over 4,500’ but at least those won’t be with fifty pounds on my back. Regardless, I was pretty amped up before I went to bed last night. Instead of hopping on my bike or sleeping in I had a different idea. Before laying down I grabbed my pack, loaded it up, and left it out.

When the alarm went off this morning I got dressed and headed out to Granddad Bluff. In the dark I shouldered my pack and knocked out a wonderful quiet and serene hike. My morning started with an hour and a half of mental stillness while walking in the pseudo-woods. Not too shabby of a way to start the day!

Dominic’s first soccer game of the season was tonight and it felt great to get another step closer to normal-ish life. I thoroughly enjoy watching all of the activities the boys are passionate about, but soccer holds some weird sweet spot in my heart. I’m grateful for the opportunity to watch anywhere from 3-6 soccer games a week for the next month or so!

Right before Becky and I left for Sparta to watch the game I ran out and grabbed the mail. In the mailbox was quite possibly the most awesome catalog I’ve ever seen in my entire life…

Get this… It is a catalog of nothing but vacation and travel!!! While I drove Becky was reading off some of the crazy adventures we could sign up for. Some of them were interesting and ones we’d already done on our own or planned on doing after we retire. Others brought back past ideas and dreams of places we want to go. Still more led to some pretty spectacular new dreams – fly around the world in a private jet in 24 days stopping in incredible places like Easter Island, Samoa, Great Barrier Reef, Serengeti, and Petra. Are you kidding me??? That knocks out several of my dreams all at once! Talk about the greatest catalog of all time. Period.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,645 – Thankful for Simple & Profound Questions and the Motivational Power of Dreams

There are certain questions one should always ask. Often times they are so simple by their very nature that they only receive a cursory thought and are then passed over. Sometimes the question is so simple that it seems as if the quick and simple answer is best. Though half of that is correct the other part couldn’t be further from the truth. When helping someone else it is so easy to ask the question, yet when I am asked the question it is so easy to dismiss it.

What is the the purpose of this action? Why is this important to you? If you could distill the thought into one sentence what would it be? Why?

Such simple questions and yet profoundly thought provoking when focused on and truly considered for an answer.

In pursuing one of my biggest dreams for this calendar year these questions were posed to me. Though I’ve worked on the project they were pointed at for several years I struggled to answer the questions with the concise and simple answers the questions (and my dream) deserved. My initial explanations rambled on and I quickly caught myself lacking the pinpointed direction I should have been able to answer. Over the past week my brain has been fixated on them in some fashion at seemingly all hours. I hope to answer them within a week as they right simple answer filters and percolates through my mind.

Had the questions not been asked my thoughts wouldn’t have been complete. If my answers are not clear, simple, and concise I must pause and refocus. It is only when my answers are as simple as the question that the thought will be complete. I am grateful for these simple and profound questions.

Another thing I’m thankful for today is the ability of a great dream to motivate me to be a better version of myself than I would otherwise naturally be. As certain dreams are coming closer and closer to fruition I am reminded of the importance of grit and perseverance. To let up on the gas now would put the dream in jeopardy. By having a clear dream in front of me with a very clear finish line I am able to change my otherwise normal behavior in positive ways.

What’s also especially motivating are the reminders of past accomplishments of dreams. I still remember the empty feeling I had when I finished the marathon with Becky a handful of years ago. We’d trained so hard and often together that once it was done there was a big empty space. As I focus on the dreams ahead I think back to that feeling and remind myself of the importance of savoring the journey in each and every difficult step. Once the dream is complete I will most likely remember the journey as much as the dream itself. Embrace the discomfort and remember that it is a sign of growth.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,644 – Thankful for a Renewed and Increasing Passion for the Outdoors

At about this time last year we started working as a family to help Gavin earn the Hiking merit badge for Scouts. The sudden increase of time at home provided a unique opportunity for us to spend more time outside hiking and enjoying what was some spectacular March and April weather.

From a few small hikes we grew into the bigger hikes including a 20 miler. After that was under our belt we moved on to camping in the woods in the “Dollar Store Challenge.” Then we spent more time hiking. And more time hiking. More camping. More hiking. Once the snow hit we started snowshoeing. We camped in the snow. Throw in some skiing and snowboarding for good measure and we spent more time than ever outdoors. As the weather has warmed back up we’ve jumped right back into it and have gone hiking with loaded up backpacks the past couple of weekends.

Looking ahead we’ve got a small handful of backpacking trips ranging from a few days to a week. Camping is being intermixed as well. We’ve got a hiking trip planned to summit a couple of mountains in Colorado and are considering a crazy one in the fall pending the first couple of backpacking trips.

All this outdoor time would likely not have happened quite to this extent. There would have been outdoor activity, but nothing quite like this. All this from the world hitting the Pause button for all of us last March.

Over the past twelve months I’ve greatly enjoyed the renewed passion for being outdoors and in nature. It’s always been there, but this past year has really awakened a sleeping giant. Each moment we spend in the woods fuels that flame even more to be out there more and more often. Hot weather, cold weather, it really doesn’t matter. The being outside to enjoy fresh air and the beauty and simplicity of the outdoors has been the music my soul has needed to hear.

This morning on our hike we saw many migrating birds. There were the calls of eagles, cranes, coots, and crows. The trees creaked in the wind. The water was moving so quickly that the sound of it was always just in the periphery. There were almost no others around and the ones who were all had huge smiles as they enjoy the same majesty we were. No cellphone calls, no texts, no distraction, only time in the outdoors. It was perfect.

And to think we walked this almost exact path almost exactly a year ago… and now Dominic is almost as tall as me and Gavin towers over Becky!

As we look ahead to the next several months I am absolutely giddy with my passion for being outdoors. I am grateful for so many opportunities to scratch the itch!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,643 – Thankful for Repeats of Past Posts

There are two very distinct mindsets I struggle with when thinking of which book to read next. The friction between those strategies is what’s led me to my post today.

The first and most natural mindset is to go with something new that I haven’t read before. When living this mindset I build a huge library of books in which I read each once, file away key points, and then set them aside. This mindset is why I have almost 200 audiobooks in my online libraries as well as stacks upon stacks of books at work and home.

The second mindset is to really drill down on a specific book. I read it, re-read it, re-re-read it, re-re-re-read it, and so on. By the time I’ve truly consumed it I’ve read the paper copy at least half a dozen times and listened to the audio copy four or more times. In diving that deeply into it I’m able to better grasp the info and apply it to life. When this is the mindset I’m choosing my brain is forced to work harder to stay focused on staying the course instead of going for something new and shiny.

One of the original intentions of my blog was to write about my gratitude for something unique each day. In many ways I thought that being grateful for Becky, the boys, my family, my friends, and so on would have been very repetitive and too easy. There wouldn’t be much of a stretch to write about why I was thankful for something I’m already regular thankful for. I knew each day would get progressively more difficult and I counted on that as a way to increase my gratitude practice.

As I started really dissecting my day I kept coming back to the same challenge. While I had three very distinct topics I was most grateful for they were things I’ve blogged about in the past. They are a bit off the beaten path and haven’t come up often, but they’ve already been written about nonetheless. This left me at a quandary… blog about one of them again or find something different. Sure there are other things to I was grateful for but they would have rung a little hollow. I must follow my heart on this one.

That left me with three topics to attempt to blog about. Each one alone would be worthy of one of my much longer posts, yet by diving too deeply into all three each would have lost some of their luster. They each deserve their own moment in the spotlight… which they kind of each have had in the past.

Still scratching my head I couldn’t help but smile as I saw the common theme binding them all into one. Today I am thankful for repeats of past posts.

When left to my own devices I will naturally lean towards reading many different books. I enjoy variety and it provides a very wide foundation to work from. When there’s something truly important I switch to the deep dive and read and re-read the book over and over to attempt to understand the complexities and subtleties otherwise missed in the fast read. My daily blog often is more like the strategy of reading many books. Sometimes it is okay to dive deeply into one or two key gratitudes as there are so many levels to unpack.

That’s where I’ve landed today. I’m grateful for those times when I want to repeat past posts. In some of those posts I find I’m starting to get the lesson but there is so much deeper I could go into my gratitude with them. Today I could have easily written about being grateful for:

  • The story of Jesus praying in Gethsemane
  • Actively pursuing a dream rather than crossing my fingers and sitting back
  • The lesson of remembering the why of the story rather than just the details

Just a hunch, I’l be writing about each of these in coming days and weeks even though I’ve written about them in the past. There is just so much to dive into in each that they are well worth repeating. I’m very grateful for blog posts that scream to be repeated, that’s were the learning is!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,642 – Thankful for an Awesome Speaker (Father Mark), the Dream Ledge, and a Hysterical Text String

This evening our church had a virtual “Soup & Sustenance” class with an incredible guest speaker, our old priest, Father Mark Pierce! He spent an hour walking us through one of the best science history lessons I’ve been through in a very long time. The conversation was focused on the balance of science and religion and how the two complement each other very well. His talk walked us through the history of science and religion going deep into BC and moving forward to today. Over the course of an hour I was quickly reminded how much I appreciate his deep breadth of knowledge, his research, his open mindedness, and his ability to speak in a way in which everyone can understand… with an awesome dry sense of humor mixed in.

Earlier today a question was posed to me. It’s now time to decide how badly I want to reach for a dream. What I’m grateful for is the opportunity to test how important the dream is to me and how much I want it. It’s a very cool ledge to stand at the edge of!

There was one of the most epically hysterical text exchanges I’ve been the part of in a very long time today. The best part was that it was between two individuals who don’t normally interact. There was a connection between personal friends due to business and a common friend, me. Next thing I knew I was connecting the two while laughing my butt off at the text chain they exchanged. It was amazing!!!

What a great day – one that kept me smiling all day.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,641 – Thankful for Eight Trips of Eleven-ish Minutes & Musical Drifting

For anyone interested I can tell you that the drive from our house to Logan High School is almost exactly 11 minutes. I’ve tested that route 8 times today and found that to be a solid average. Yup, eight times I’ve driven from home to the school or from the school to home. What’s funny is that it was oddly soothing and peaceful.

Half of the rides provided an opportunity to chill and talk with Dominic. Sometimes he drove, sometimes I did. Regardless of who had the wheel we had time to talk. That was pretty awesome.

One of the rides without Dominic wasn’t solo for long as I picked up a hitchhiker part way home… Gavin! He was on his way home from school and it was pretty cool to surprise him and spend some time shooting the bull with him. Those little moments of one on one time are special and I appreciate each of them.

One of the benefits of that much driving is that I only have time for a two or three songs while I make the 11 minute drive alone. Over the past week I accidentally stumbled onto an album that I had really caught my attention a couple of years ago. For some reason I had not listened to it for quite a while and as soon as I fired it up the songs got stuck in my head again. On the drives today there were a handful of the songs that were on the short drive playlist…

For some reason my brain then went back to one of my favs by Hollow Coves:

and then I drifted into a song in the movie “starring George Costanza’s dad’s real life son” as I once put it…

As I started to type my blog tonight I fired up each of the videos for these. Sometimes I really enjoy just chilling on the couch and listening to music when everyone else is asleep. Tonight was totally one of those nights. I just chilled and drifted from song to song. I even took the advice of YouTube and listened to a song I’d never heard before.

Time alone with each of the boys. Time alone with my thoughts and music. Tomorrow morning will be time alone with Becky on our run. I am so thankful for that time with each of them individually just as I am thankful for the time with all of us together. A sweet soundtrack in my head only makes it sweeter 😉

Thanks!!!

Day 1,640 – Thankful for a Literal Shot in the Arm

I really don’t like needles. Not at all. Not one bit. When I get a shot I get lightheaded. The tattoo artist who gave me my one tattoo had to pause several times to lift my legs up so I didn’t pass out. Yup, I’m that guy!

The last time I had to get an IV there was a disclaimer I gave to the anesthetist and the nurse taking care of me was something along these lines. “Here’s what’s going to happen when you stab me with that needle. I’m going to get very lightheaded. My blood pressure is going to crash. I’m to just about pass out. Within 15-30 seconds I’ll be fine.” They both chuckled a little and it was clear they didn’t quite believe me. The look on their faces when the monitor started screaming when they stuck the needle in was priceless!

Yes, when it comes to needles I am not fan.

Today? I am very grateful for a shot in the arm. Seeing as my BMI is too high I was contacted by my healthcare provider as being eligible for the vaccine. After confirming that this was correct and not in error I immediately signed up for the COVID vaccine. This morning Becky and I both got our first doses – how awesome is that?

I know that it doesn’t immediately fix things and that the world isn’t suddenly back to where it was 13 months ago. I’m thankful for being one small step closer to that reality. Knowing that we’re moving forward is something that has me smiling from ear to ear.

Whoever would’ve thought that the dude who really dislikes needles would be grateful for a shot? 😉

When My Fear of Needles Caught Up to Me
https://img.thedailybeast.com/image/upload/c_crop,d_placeholder_euli9k,h_1439,w_2560,x_0,y_0/dpr_2.0/c_limit,w_600/f_jpg/fl_lossy,q_auto/v1492109440/articles/2016/09/18/when-my-fear-of-needles-caught-up-to-me/160917-Dexter-Nale-Needle-phobia-tease_f6zd8b

Thanks!!!

Day 1,639 – Thankful for Nights When the Blogging Isn’t Easy

Nothing like the days when I start to type… pause… and then backspace the entire thing. I start over… pause… and then delete everything again. Repeat. Over and over. Tonight has been that in a nutshell and I’m not quite sure that this will be kept, though it feels like I’m starting to get on track. Hmm… Yup, I think this is the winner.

I’ve blogged before about being grateful for the nights when there are so many things I’m thankful for that I don’t quite know where to start. There are times when I find a loose connection between several of those gratitudes and proceed to weave them into a complete whole. In those nights I smile as there is so much to be thankful for and it is obvious.

There are other nights when I’m at a loss and have to stretch. Nothing really jumps out and I have to scour my memory of the day to find what I am grateful for. Those nights are easy to be grateful for as well, as crazy as that may sound. When I blog on those nights I’m reminded that the difficult work of blogging is doing exactly what my original intent was – focus on being more grateful when I am not. I smile at those times because the blog is fulfilling its purpose.

Nights like tonight are an entirely different animal. I’ve got much I’m grateful for. For some reason the words and thoughts get a little stuck in my brain and aren’t quite able to make it all the way to my fingertips. There’s a deep and insightful thought that wants to come out but it is just not quite ready. Each time I try to grasp it I feel as if I am walking the desert and reaching for the mirage. I am reaching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. My hand passes through the illusion just as I think I am about to grab it.

These nights provide their own unique reason to be grateful. They are the times when I must work the hardest to extract the idea, to coax it from hiding. Instead of just typing I must pause, compose my thoughts, plot a path, erase a bit, re-plot the path, and then finally start to make my way forward. Blogging on a day like this forces me to put my thoughts together completely instead of just rattling of a description of something specific. These nights are when some of my greatest growth happens, I am pushed outside of my comfort zone and am forced to find a new way.

All that from what was initially going to be a blog about making progress towards a dream, how crazy is that?

and to think that this pic of my dream book was about to be the main centerpiece… Heck, why not still include it? 😉

Tonight I’m thankful for the nights when I have to work at it. The nights when the real work happens. The times when it doesn’t come easy and I must find another way. For sure, they are the most difficult to blog during, but they are beautiful in their own way.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,638 – Thankful for Listening to the Words of Yoda by Enjoying the Craziness

Ahh… I almost wasn’t going to type this one, but I really feel like I must.

Tonight I’m sitting on the couch long after my normal bedtime typing this blog. I’ve been up and running for about sixteen and a half hours. Becky and I got our run in and had a great time talking about our upcoming backpacking trip to Isle Royale. Then I jumped on my laptop and cranked out a bunch of work before hitting the shower. Throughout the day I was bouncing between Zoom calls, phone calls, and several projects. I snuck in a nice walk in the sun over lunch. Once work was done I spend a little time chilling with Gavin and then helped grill supper. By the time the last bite was taken Becky had to head out to pick up Dominic from soccer practice. A few minutes later I was in the car driving Gavin to his soccer practice across town. While he played I worked on my book. On the way home I talked with my brother. Once home I played a game with Gavin for a little while and then left to go pick Dominic up from Pep Band practice. Wait a few minutes, send a couple of texts, ride home with Dominic so he can get his night time driving hours in. Take a deep breath, bust out a snack, a drink, and my laptop. Blog. After this I’ll just sit here and enjoy quiet time for a couple of minutes and then off to bed before waking up before 5am again to do it all over again tomorrow.

Normally, this would be one of those days when I’d be frustrated about going nonstop in so many directions. Thanks to the past 12 months? I’m totally grateful for the opportunity to be thrust right back into the thick of the chaos that was our life pre-pandemic. Spending a year without this much has reminded me to take time to enjoy the moment I’m living in.

An article I read today referenced a wonderful line from the original (and best) of the Star Wars series… To quote the great philosopher Yoda:

“This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph.”

Yoda

Yoda, today I was looking right square in the eyes of today. To now. The present. My mind was focused on where I am. What an awesome way to remember to be grateful for each day of life – the normal, the routine, the crazy, the chaotic – each day is a gift.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,637 – Thankful for Trials of Miles and Miles or Trials

One of my favorite books related to running is Once a Runner by John L. Parker, jr. The story focuses on both grit and having a growth mindset. As the protagonists discuss their practice for a race they often mention, “trials of miles and miles of trials.” It is an incredibly succinct way to show how they are willing to test themselves through their runs while their runs test them as well. Whenever I am on a run, a hike, or a long walk I can’t help but here the phrase ringing through my head. It reminds me that each footstep is a test of my soul, my willingness to grit it out and continue. It reminds me that that there is no finish line for the test, it will continue for at least the rest of my life. Trials of miles. Miles of trials. The path to joy.

Why in the world do I bring that up today?

This morning we loaded up our backpacks with weight and headed out to Twin Bluffs State Park in MN. With our trip to Isle Royale coming up in the next few months we wanted to start testing out our gear. This was the first real test of both distance and weight. My pack got loaded up to 50 pounds and was pretty close to what I would be carrying on our 40+ mile hiking trip. We knocked out a little over 5 miles on some relatively flat trails.

Throughout this trip we were adjusting straps, shifting weight, and trying out different ways to get as close to natural walking as possible. It was a definite trial run, one of many we will have before June. What was great was the ability to keep a learner’s mindset throughout as this was our initial test. As we continue to test out what works best we’ll keep slowly getting it all dialed in.

Though we may be able to figure out what the ideal set up is I’m already planning on things not going as planned on the trip. Something may break. Something may change. Something unexpected will happen. At that point I’ll still be walking my trial of mile and miles of trials. You know what? I’m thankful for the trials – they mean that I’m living intentionally. I’m thankful for the miles – they provide the opportunity to test myself.

Trials of miles and miles of trials… how beautiful is that?

Thanks!!!