My drive to Menomonie started fairly early. A quick shower after our run, get dressed, and out the door I went. Thanks to the sun rising earlier and earlier each morning I had an awesome view of the sunrise over the Mississippi River Valley for the first hour of my ride. I know, I write of the drive often, but today here was an extra healthy dose of wildlife to complement the scenic views. There were well over a dozen bald eagles, some overhead, some in trees, and one all alone in a field. Ducks and waterfowl were scattered throughout the wetlands. What really took the cake was the view of a beaver swimming across a fairly large backwater pond what a treat!
One of my habits while driving early in the morning is listening to my audiobooks. The one this morning was Effortless by Greg McKeown. My mind was almost 100% focused but I’d catch myself drifting off in thought a little. As luck would have it that was right about the time he talked about ways to stay focused. Perfect timing! One of the points brought up was remembering that we must pause to re-charge sometimes.
I took note of that idea and paused the book. Within seconds I had some music playing instead and I opened the moon roof. I sang, I relaxed, and I enjoyed the ride. After a short period of relaxation I turned on some very chill music without words and proceeded to put tremendous thought into a few challenges I was working on today. My brain felt refreshed and I was able to process my thoughts more clearly.
On my ride home I balanced out some deep thinking, some chilling, some podcasts to let my brain wander in other directions, and some calls. The balance was a great way to get my head back in the right place for the week.
Tomorrow is another crazy one as is Friday, but I’m glad I’m taking time to re-charge throughout. I’ve already been able to see a few things more clearly thanks to that quiet time. Throw in some beautiful sights on the drive and life is good!
Sometimes I get a little bit of a one track mind. Of course I’m also focused in on the other important aspects of life, but I can get a bit fixated on something when I have moments of quiet. You know, the little spots when my mind is free to wander and isn’t focused on a specific task. As you can probably guess this focus has been on backpacking and hiking recently.
When left to my own devices I tend to plan for every crazy possible scenario. This leads to packing twice as much as I’ll need. You know the feeling? Pack for a week long vacation, go on vacation, get home, unpack, and realize that only half your clothes were worn. I prepped for everything and then had more than enough, but at the cost of extra weight, extra baggage, and a somewhat messy and unfocused mind.
When we first went to Hawaii I made it my mission to pack an entire week’s worth of clothes and stuff into a single backpack. Thanks to the little bit of extra room in Becky’s suitcase I was able to make it work 😉 In all seriousness, I ended up packing almost the bare minimum needed for a pleasant vacation. There was very little left unused during the trip.
To make this happen I started packing well before the trip. I stated with what I thought I would need and had it separated out. Over the course of a little over a week I’d slowly start eliminating the extra and unessential. My mind would continue to work through the possibilities and realize that there were ways to go without, or, better yet, find ways to multipurpose one item for two things. By the time I left I had everything honed down and was left with almost only the essential.
Since then I remember the sensation of a very focused trip. I’d thought through the trip in advance and prepped for what could happen. I then adjusted for what would most likely happen. I felt very focused on knowing I was both 100% prepared and not carrying extra just for the sake of carrying extra just in case.
As we prep for our backpacking trip it’s been a very similar process. I started with a big list of what I needed. Then I added to it and added to it. Now I’ve started to cull the herd. What do I really need? Do I really need three different ferro rods, four different knives and two compasses for a three day / two night backpacking trip of 20 miles or so on a heavily traveled trail in a park in which we’re never more than 8 miles away from our car? Nope! But the process of over preparing has been beneficial as it forces me to think through all the possibilities. Then once I start to narrow it down to the probabilities I’m able to shrink down the pile of gear. Eventually I get down to the essential which allows me to enjoy the confidence of knowing I have everything I need while also leaving me carrying only what is needed.
So while we’re still just under a couple of weeks away I’m thankful for pre-packing and eliminating the non-essential. My mind is already feeing better knowing I’ve considered almost all possible scenarios and I’ve got everything I would need to stay safe while also carrying as little as possible to allow me to more perfectly enjoy the serenity of the woods.
On our run this morning I remembered a handful of life lessons from one little event. Just as the sun was rising I was reminded of a handful of life lessons from one simple event.
Ingenuity can solve any problem
Laughter is better when shared
Pay attention to your surroundings before passing the point of no return
Always wear socks when running
When life happens a question is posed to me. “How will I choose to respond?” This morning I chose another question as the answer and it made all the difference. “What can I learn from this?”
Over a drink sometime you might be able to coax the story out of me. In the meantime let me leave this story with a picture that’s worth a thousand words:
While the morning started with an early run the evening is ending with an epic yoga workout. Blog, shower, bed. That’s the plan for the rest of the night. A day bookended with exercise is one in which the eyes close quickly and sleep is almost as quick.
Another full day in the books to wrap up a wonderful weekend. A while back Becky suggested that I stay home while she takes Gavin to his soccer tournament as it would be one of the last weekends I have at home for a while. After some thought I agreed that it would be nice to stay home and enjoy some downtime before jumping back into our normal crazy string of weekends. Rather than chill it has been a weekend of almost constant motion – all in good ways. Sitting on the couch and taking a deep breath while I blog is exactly what I need before I crash in bed.
A couple of specific things really hit me today. For as much fun as I’ve had with Dominic this weekend I’m just as thankful for the wonderful time Becky had with Gavin this weekend. We often talk about making sure we get some one on one time with each of the boys to keep building, deepening, and strengthening the bond between each of us. Hearing about how much fun the two of them had this weekend has me smiling big. I feel so blessed to have a family who enjoys spending so much time together in any combination.
The picture Becky texted me after the game has my mind reeling a bit. Is this the first picture of the two of them in which Gavin is clearly taller than Becky? Crazy thinking that our youngest is no longer our shortest!
One other thing I’d be remiss to point out today is my gratitude for the beauty of spring flowers. This little flower really caught my attention on our hike. There were thousands of them just off the trail. Each one caused me to smile at the wonder that they each are. So delicate, beautiful, and simple. How fortunate we are to live in a world with beauty such as this!
What a full day it has been! Sitting on the couch and unwinding my face keeps smiling as I think about where to start my blog tonight. Pretty much all day Dominic and I have been hanging out and I’ve been enjoying every moment of it. Becky is with Gavin in South Dakota for a soccer tournament so it’s just Dominic and I for the weekend.
After Dominic’s soccer practice we came home and made lunch. Then we packed up and went for an awesome long hike in Hixon with our packs on. We may have happened to choose a route home that went right past and ice cream shop and we may have picked up a couple of malts. 😉 Next up was home, showers, and off to church. Grab supper on the way home, take the dogs for a walk, and then eat some Jimmy John’s while watching TV. Play a game or two, and then chill on the couch while watching a movie.
All day long, just the two of us shooting the bull. Talking life stuff, joking around, and just hanging out. Talk about awesome! Having time to the two of us has been a sweet opportunity that we don’t often get. I’m thankful for every moment of it.
Dominic and I spent some time wandering through Woodman’s this evening. With the clock ticking towards our backpacking trips we wanted to get a jump on preparation. One of the most important factors of a successful trip is making sure we’ve got the right food to keep us going for a handful of days. We were able to figure out what seem to be some pretty tasty ways to hit our 3,000+ calories per day.
Tonight I’m thankful for all of my years of Scouting and outdoors experience. One of the most tried and true – and consistent – training mantras is to be prepared. We never know exactly what we will encounter on any given day or trip, but we can be prepared for almost any possibility. By taking time to think ahead, plan, and prepare, we set ourselves up for success in even some of the most difficult situations.
One of the other benefits of preparing early is being able to test things out, experiment, and then prepare even better. Tonight Dominic and I took the time to think through our food choices, test some hunches, and take a test run of our nutritional plan. Our odds of a successful (and enjoyable) trip have increased significantly thanks to our preparation tonight… all 36 ounces of it 😉
LOL – yup, quite the list today but each component played a part in the day.
Yes, my alarm clock went off before 4am… on purpose 😉 There’s a different feeling in the air that early in the morning. The night owls have gone to bed. The early risers are largely still horizontal. There is an indescribable stillness at that time of the day. The world sleeps while I stir. It’s a wonderful sensation of solitude and serenity. I may have to do this more often.
I’ve blogged about this often but I can’t help shake the feeling that I’m putting myself in the right place at the right time. Spending more time outdoors has been a big focus for me this year and I’ve certainly accomplished it thus far. Getting outdoors early in the morning really scratches my outdoor itch and energizes me for the remainder of the day.
Some days at work are better than others. Some days are shining examples of success. Some days include a strong feeling of accomplishment. Today was one that was very prosperous. Maybe not immediate results, but one in which much progress was made and seeds were planted.
As luck would have it I was in Eau Claire today. Dominic has a track meet tonight in Sparta. I love watching him and Gavin in their respective sports but I wasn’t sure about driving 30+ minutes to watch him run approximately 60 seconds and then drive back home. With the drive from Eau Claire it was much more palatable to zip from EC to Sparta and home. All told it’d only add a total of 20 minutes of driving. That was an easy snap call of yes. Gotta love when timing and calendars line up well!
I also have to give a nod to karmic luck. While typing the last paragraph Dominic called… which was really odd as his race was just about to start. Turns out he’s moving from the 400m race (about the middle of all the races) to the 4x400m relay. That is the absolute last race of the night. He felt bad and apologized for making me wait. I totally laughed it off and relished in the extra moments of sitting in the sun, typing my blog, listening to music, and chillaxing. I’m pumped to watch his race and I’m grateful for being exactly where I’m supposed to be. Either I needed extra chill time or I needed to be humbled a little for my last paragraph about perfect timing. The perfect timing is the timing that happens.
This evening the boys and I were on a mission. We’ve got a project we’re working on so after supper we headed up to the workshop. During a team meeting today someone asked what our favorite activities were. Travel with the family was right up on the top of the list, but spending time in the workshop with the boys was right near the top of the list too. Any time spent up there with them is time well spent.
While we were up there I kept remembering times when we’d been working on other projects. We’ve done a lot up there together and once the sawdust is flying I can’t help but smile at the memories of past times shared up there. The time with them also reminds me of so many times when I would help Dad on different projects – as a kid and as an adult. So many awesome memories of time spent with him while creating. Time with the boys reminds me of time with Dad while making me hope the boys enjoy and appreciate our time together so they can have the same incredible duplicity of time like I have been blessed to have.
One of the things I did more than once tonight was apologize to Dad. I know he’s not there with me physically, but I know he can still hear me. Why was I apologizing to Dad tonight? There were farts from both boys that stunk up the workshop. There were times when simple math and measuring escaped their crazily intelligent brains. There was an instance of a tape measure being lost and declared un-findable… though it was within a foot and a half of the person the entire time. The use of a drill was a struggle at times. All in all, there were so many moments in which the boys did things I remember doing to Dad back in the day. “Just you wait Mikey…” How many times I heard that one! When I caught the boys doing what I’d done all I could do was look to the sky and apologize to Dad. Only now in this dark hour do I see the folly of my ways as a kid 😉
In one of my not so finer moments I had a flicker of a thought cross my mind on Sunday night. “I have more contact lenses for next week, right?” I shrugged and was pretty sure I must have an extra box. Out came my contacts and into the garbage they went. Why not throw them away when I’m pretty sure I’ve got more ready for the next day.
Imagine my horror when my search on Monday morning proved fruitless. Oh no, I’ll have to wear glasses! For sure, many people wear glasses and I think they look great on them. For me it is the same reason I don’t like wearing pants – I like the feeling of being unencumbered (and yes, I wear shorts when I am not wearing pants). Glasses on my face feel uncomfortable, especially when I’m exercising. Contacts feel so much more liberating to me.
Thanks to modern technology (an online eye exam at 6:30am on Monday morning from my home) and insanely quick shipping I was able to put contacts in within a day and a half of realizing I was out. Becky chuckled as I put them in right away when I knew I’d take them out within a few hours. I agreed it sounded silly, but it felt great getting them back in.
I was just joking with a friend a little while back that if there was a zombie apocalypse I’d be running to the pharmacy to stock up. Medicine and medications? Nope. Contact solution. The last thing I’d want would be to get killed by a zombie because my glasses fogged up 😉
Today was another reminder of how easy it is to be grateful for something after you lose it for a while. I’m grateful for my contact lenses mores today than I have been in a long time.
Another step back towards a combination of the life I lived pre-COVID with an appreciated slice of post-COVID insight.
Tonight was the first night Becky and I went back to yoga at Root Down. Pre-pandemic it was our at date night at least once each week. Sweating while stretching our bodies out in a heated room was one of the ways we’d decompress and enjoy some time together. The focus on breathing helped me to stay 100% focused on the present moment while helping me to release the stress of a busy week. Throw in some wickedly unexpected exercise and it was a wonderful way to pause while doing something I deeply enjoy with someone I greatly enjoy spending time with.
As one could imagine yoga wasn’t very COVID friendly. When the classes were full there were people a foot to my left, a foot to my right, and a foot behind me. Dozens of people all sweating together, respirating in a confined space together, and exercising until we were all breathing heavy. Kinda gives me a panic attack now just thinking about it 😉 Of course it wasn’t that bad, it just seems so unlike what we are supposed to do today.
Tonight was AMAZING!!! Sure, we were wearing masks and spaced out from each other by at least 6-8 feet, but it was still every bit as wonderful as id remembered.
Stretch. Breathe. Great reminders / stories by the instructor. See the people we’d see every week. Exercise. Sweat. Be present. Chill. Awesomeness.
What made it all the more special was a slice of wisdom from living in post-COVID world… I was even more grateful for the experience as I’d had the opportunity to experience the loss of this treat. It was made all the more special today as I appreciated it more than think I ever have.