Day 1,860 – Thankful for a Moment at the Beach I’ll Never Forget

With the sound of Lake Michigan waves upon the sandy shores over the past few days an old memory was stirred to the surface of memory. The reminder of that day, and another like it, have brought an added level of calm to my life.

Way back in my senior year of college I took a spring break road trip to a quiet beach town in Mexico. This wasn’t the party all day and night experience at crazy college bars that you may be envisioning. The setting was much more chill and relaxed, I think we only went to a single bar for a very short period of time. While the road trip and time with those friends were my favorite parts of spring break there was a single moment in which a deep state of inner calm was found and has been tapped back into often.

Not from that night, but a very similar evening many years later.

One of the nights my friends were all chilling out in the beach house. I felt compelled to sit out on the beach. In the moonlight and under the stars I sat on the beach, looked up to the stars, and became hypnotized by the rhythm of the ocean waves. There was no nervousness, fear for the future, stress about the next chapter of life, or anything like that. I had no past, I had no future, I was completely immersed in the present.

When I put that memory into focus I can almost swear that I am back in that moment. I can see the stars overhead, the wisps of clouds, the glittering moonlight on the waves. The repeating sound of waves landing on shore, the slight ocean breeze blowing across the beach, and the silence of the rest of the world all echo in my ears. I can feel the sand under the palms of my hands as I lean back with my legs outstretched as I sense cool air blowing across my legs, face, and hair. The scent of the ocean air hangs around me. Even my lips have the faint taste of salt upon them. I remember the waves, I remember that moment, and my soul is stilled and I am there again.

Over the past few days that memory has re-surfaced and I am so thankful for it. In a calm waters, stormy seas, and everything else in between this moment is a refuge of serenity. Breathe in, picture that moment, breathe out, and I am there.


Day 1,857 – Thankful for Scenic Hiking Side Trips

Day 1,857 – Thankful for Scenic Hiking Side Trips

Becky had a brilliant idea for our trip to Madison this morning. She grabbed her Wisconsin State Parks map and found a couple parks we’ve never explored just off the beaten path we were traveling.

Talk about enjoying the journey and not just the destination!

Nothing like almost empty state parks early on a fall morning shortly after the sunrise. Fresh and crisp autumn air, a cool breeze, and the smell of forests and leaves were all around us as we saw beautiful vistas and fantastic rock formations.


Day 1,856 – Thankful for a Stunning Sunrise and a Serendipitous Shelf Shuffle

Day 1,856 – Thankful for a Stunning Sunrise and a Serendipitous Shelf Shuffle

The drive up the Mississippi River Valley was so stunning I felt compelled to pull over and grab a picture. The steam was again rising from the river into the cool air while the sky was positively pink and purple in one direction and blue and orange in the other.

When a day starts like this there is no doubt it will be a great one should I choose to carry the stillness of that moment into my day.

Later in the afternoon I was looking for a book on my shelf. In the process of looking I moved a couple of books around. For some reason my eyes were drawn to the back of How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins. Most books have a summary on the back, but this one had a quote instead:

Whether you prevail or fail, endure or die, depends more on what you do to yourself than on what the world does to you.

Jim Collins

Sometimes the world is trying to help us hear the message we really need at a specific time. Other times it goes so far as to tie it to another message – in this case the irony of the title in the context of a recent challenge. Regardless, I am very thankful for the serendipitous shuffling of books on my shelf today!


Day 1,855 – Thankful for a Quiet Early Morning Drive, Living Into My 2021 Goals, and a Student Uber

My drive to Eau Claire was a very calming endeavor. The sun slowly rose while I drove. Rather than a book, podcast, or music I chose the sound of silence as my driving soundtrack. With all of the busyness of the last weekend it was refreshing to pause and think. With few cars on the road it was easy to focus my thoughts on what I had going on today as well as a handful of near and long term future projects and decisions as well.

This quiet time also helped me better live into one of the goals I set for myself for the year. By taking time to prime my brain in the right way I found it easier to still my mind and focus on listening more than talking. It made a very positive difference in the results of my day.

Another thing I’m thankful for today is the reason I’m currently blogging while laying in bed rather than driving back from picking up Gavin from soccer… we’ve got Student Uber in our house. Dominic offered to take Gavin to practice but instead I asked if he’d pick Gavin up so I could head to bed early. How awesome is that? A few extra zzz’s for me tonight!


Day 1,854 – Thankful for a Filling in the Gap and Gavin’s Cheering Section

Day 1,854 – Thankful for a Filling in the Gap and Gavin’s Cheering Section

My first reaction to seeing the schedule for Gavin’s soccer games in Eau Claire today was a very loud sigh. An 8am game in Eau Claire meant waking up at 5am to get there on time. The 2:40pm game meant a 5 hour gap in between games when we’re 90 minutes from home. That seemed like the worst possible schedule to me. An entire Sunday of soccer, well over 12 hours away from home. Then I took a deep breath and remembered to appreciate the time rather than wish it away.

Becky had a perfect idea to fit in between our games. We drove a half hour west towards Menomonie and did some hiking. The trails were stunningly beautiful with so many colorful leaves drifting slowly to the earth. The sun caught each in just the right light and it made for a stunningly unreal sight:

Afterwards she had the idea for pizza at the Lucette Brewery, the place we ate for Kala & Dylan’s wedding reception a little while back. The wood fired pizza was THE BEST pizza I’ve ever had – dee-lish!!!

We headed back to Eau Claire, ran a couple of errands and then headed back to the field. Rather than being a terrible schedule it became an opportunity to spend more time with my family enjoying the types of things we enjoy doing. It was the perfect way for us to fill the gap in the schedule and looking back I wouldn’t change a thing.

At the second game Gavin had his own cheering section! Becky’s parents and the Hause family all showed up to support Gavin and his team. It was obviously a success as Gavin’s team won the match 3-1. Pretty awesome to have an extra cheering section 🙂


Day 1,853 – Thankful for an Anniversary Party with Friends

Tonight we celebrated Steve and Kathy’s tenth wedding anniversary. Spending time together as a group of friends was fantastic! After the past year and a half I am so much more grateful for events like this. It’s always been a great time with friends, but after experiencing prolonged time without event like this I appreciate each gathering so much more.

Thinking back to ten years ago was a trip and a half! Going through old photos brought back foggy memories and has us laughing all over again. Spending time together to reminisce was an awesome way to spend the evening.


Day 1,852 – Thankful for Seeing the World Through a Different Set of Lenses

One of my favorite songs, Lucky by Seven Mary Three, has set my brain wandering. The line has been my foundation today.

“Son, time is all the luck you need.”

Jason Ross, Seven Mary Three

Today I’ve been lucky, another day around the world. Another opportunity to live. The fortune to grow further into myself. The chance to practice gratitude for all the splendors of life.

Why this has hit home so hard today is rather interesting. So much of my life I do out of habit, good or bad, for better or worse. When I operate on auto pilot the blinders are put on.

On days like this my mind focuses on seeing clearly and through a different set of lenses. Two questions really put those new glasses on for me.

What if…?


Today both of those two questions came up for various reasons several times. They helped me see potential paths to a better future, one in which I live into my truest self. The questions led me to some slightly unexpected answers, answers which both clarified and muddied at the same time. No decisions made today, only opportunities created. Time for winnowing will arrive soon, but not yet. More opportunities are to be created before they are to be sifted through.

Quite honestly, these two questions have made my life more complex and yet somehow more simple. The beauty lie in distilling the complicated into the pure essence. While I’d love to boil it all down quickly the aging process is where the magic happens. In so many ways the aging in of itself is the true magic….

So many new thoughts, so many new possibilities, all from asking two questions, all from looking at the world through a different set of lenses.

Today I have been lucky. Lucky to have the opportunity to grow, collect, process, and age. I was given the gift of time.

BTW – I’d be remiss to not mention how much I appreciate our family viewing of Free Guy this evening. The metaphor of lenses comes directly from it as does some of the perspectives drawn today. Fantastic movie with many wonderfully well timed themes for my life.


Day 1,851 – Thankful for Blogging at a Scenic Detour

The right opportunity always awaits, do I pause and heed its call?

Today I listened to the pull of nature. My plan to meet my brother before Dominic’s game changed slightly, just as I happened to see the sign for Natural Bridge State Park. I hit the brakes, abruptly turned right, and was on my way to heeding the call of the outdoors.

I am writing this blog in a pocket of autumn paradise. The smell of fall surrounds me. The beautiful color changing leaves are all around me. The rock wraps itself around me. In all directions I hear the sounds of wildlife.

I am present. I am at peace. My heart is full of joy.