Life is a series of choices and trade offs quite frequently. The easiest route to take is the one of habit, the well worn path, the old reliable. Once in a while the right decision requires jumping out of the rut. There may not already be a path there and the travel will be more difficult, but it is the right decision.
This may sound a bit crazy, but writing this blog has, in some ways, become the rut I need to pop out of. This evening is a case in point. Gavin’s track meet went way longer than it should have (4 full hours), and though he did very well it threw off our plans of calling it a relatively early night. By the time we’d finished supper it was already a little after 9:15 and I was planning to go to bed to blog and go to bed. I had a long blog mentally written and it was going to take a while. Meanwhile, we’d just gotten to one of my all time favorite episodes of Seinfeld, both Dominic and Gavin wanted to watch one more episode, they were both in laughing and talkative moods, and it had been a week since we’d spent time together. Rather than write the long blog post I stayed up and had a very enjoyable 21 minutes of laughter with them. That previously mentally written blog will wait another day. I’m way too fielder now and need to crash.
I’m tired and I’ll likely wish I’d slept more when my alarm goes off early tomorrow morning. But I know I made the right call. The past we gave me an opportunity to get extra sleep – I chose early bed on vacation rather than late nights – and the will help me power through tomorrow.
Trade offs and decisions – I’m thankful for making the right one and for getting extra laughs with my boys.
How on Earth could two decades have flown by so quickly while also being so completely filled? When I think about the length of time twenty years covers it seems like almost an eternity. When I think about the life I’ve lived within that 20 years I can’t imagine how we could have packed so much in.
Today Becky and I celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Twenty years ago were married in an incredible late-April snowstorm which was so intense it took out the power to the town it was in later in the evening. The day before I was wearing shorts, the day of we had friends helping to shovel the sidewalk to the church.
Throughout the past twenty years we’ve shared so many moments and experiences. The highest of highs, the lowest of lows, and everything in between. We’ve had time to experience life as a married couple without kids, having two kids, and now seeing the end of the boys’ time at home dwindling more rapidly than expected. There’ve been so many wonderful successes, so many dreams accomplished, and yet more are added to list more quickly than they are crossed off. Together we’ve experienced profound loss, setbacks, health issues, career challenges, financial stress, and so many other difficult moments. In looking back those moments made us stronger and seem to fade a bit from memory while the former gave us the strength to push through the latter. All of the moments experienced together.
When looking back I know my life is infinitely more joyful thanks to sharing the journey with Becky. She’s propped me up and been my foundation when I am weak and in pain. She’s motivated me to live grander and grander dreams while supporting me as I reach for them. She’s given me the difficult feedback and advice I’ve needed when I haven’t lived into the person I know I should be – but always in a loving, respectful, and kind way. She’s the first to celebrate my successes and always is there to bring an extra smile to my day – sometimes through no action other than just her sheer presence in my life. She pushes me through example to be a better person, to live a better life. Becky brightens my life in so many awesome ways.
Twenty years of our journey in marriage lay behind, who knows how many lie ahead. I cannot imagine anyone I’d rather spend an eternity with than her. While I push myself to be appreciative of and blog about something unique each day, there has not been a day in the past twenty in which I wasn’t thankful for her.
Here’s to the past twenty, the next twenty, the twenty after that, and then maybe even another twenty… May our travels be many, may the journey include the difficulties we need to grow while full of living our dreams and enjoying each incredible moment we are gifted to share together.
The inspiration for today’s post comes from a handful of moments, interactions, and insights from the past handful of days. What’s interesting is that there was a common theme of the majority of them, a connection that I’m finally starting to come to grips with more than I have through the rest of my life… at least for the majority with the exception of a handful of moments.
After four and a half decades I’m finally getting to be more comfortable in my own skin.
For so long I’ve let labels, the opinions of others, and especially my own opinions and expectations of myself be the lens through which I’ve seen myself. In so many ways I have been the insecure kid who sits back and awaits validation of a job well done, of looking good, of doing “the right things” and wilts when my striving for that validation is absent.
I’ve stifled down much of my own being, my thoughts, and my ideas in being something I felt I should be in order to “fit in.” Rather than acting as I’d prefer I most often would live into “what I should.” All the while the sense of insecurity grew and grew like a snowball rolled off a large mountain.
What I’ve realized more and more is that I’m okay being me. I don’t need to be anyone else. The more I live into the real me the more joyful my life is, the more I can be joyful and brighten the lives of others. Rather than socialize with a ton of people, it’s okay for me to chill and read a book on my own. Instead of going out late and having several drink I can head to bed early, relax, and skip the alcohol. Why do the vacation someone else loves when the one I enjoy is so very different? I can be myself rather than who I feel like others expect me to be.
One of the beautiful reasons I so enjoy vacations is the way they create space for me to breathe, to think, and to take a new perspective. This vacation has totally lived into that as well, it’s been a wonderfully insightful time to pause and be okay with me, to enjoy time as me, and to relax and heal.
Full disclosure, a specific streak of mine ended two nights ago after a run of 112 days and I’ve had a couple of Mai Tais this evening. 😉
Fantastic days for numerous reasons, but most begin with the extreme state of chill my brain has been in all day long. When I pause to think about it there are three life lessons learned/remembered today for which I’m very appreciative.
First off, I’ve got an epic quote from Gary Rogowski’s book, Handmade: Creative Focus In the Age of Distraction:
Everyone starts from a place of ignorance, if you forget your beginnings. If you forget how many mistakes you had to make in order to become the master you are, you will forget that the master needs the greatest trait in order to train others. If the master has learned well, he or she will emanate this quality. It is humility.
Next up, an insightful quote from Anne Lamott in her book, Bird by Bird:
This is our goal as writers, I think; to help others have this sense of – please forgive me – wonder, of seeing things anew, things that can catch us off guard, that break in on our small, bordered worlds.
Lastly, an insight learned from Becky tonight… Some of the best things in life aren’t things we have or receive, they are the things we give away.
While reading on the beach this afternoon there were a line of clouds slowly heading our way. For a fleeting moment it looked like we would be spared, but we received a nice long dose of liquid sunshine. Sure, it was wet, but it was still plenty warm. Rather than fleeing for better cover we chilled under our little thatched roof sun umbrella. It didn’t cover all of us so we did our best to keep the rain off our faces and torsos.
The quiet the rain brought was a beautiful contrast to the ongoing background noise of fellow vacationers. The sound was soothing and made even better by the continued sound of waves washing against the shore. So peaceful and chill.
At one point we covered up a bit in our blankets. Becky got a nice little nap in while I chilled and enjoyed the sounds around me. Here’s a selfie I got of myself during the rain 😉
After a while the rain started to slow and people re-emerged. The stillness in the quiet of the rain while on the beach was something I won’t forget. How wild, I always hope for perfect weather on vacation and I’ve been so fortunate to have it so many times, but some incredible moments – like the stillness today – have been made specifically because the weather was anything but perfect.
I’m still not quite sure how it happened, but I’d never read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. In many ways I’m a bit disappointed in myself for not having picked it up before. The crazy sense of humor blended with some science fiction goodies was right up my alley.
Equally as surprising was my avoidance of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Becky had recommended it long ago and Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. I figured I’d read it at some point but it never quite was the right choice.
What changed that caused me to read both of these books? Oh, did I mention that I’ve read both of them in the past 36 hours?
One of my favorite parts of vacation are the extended periods of reading time. While the backpacking / hiking / adventure vacations are typically my jam, a beach vacation like this one is the perfect opportunity to get back and snuggle up with some good books. Two down in the past two days, a handful yet to go. I can’t wait!
Seven years ago if someone had posed the question, “would you like to know more about the writing process,” my answer would have most likely been muffled by my yawn. Hmm…. Maybe I’d rather do something, anything, else. Writing? Nope, not me, I’m more of a talker.
I’ve always had a creative itch, but only once do I remember the act of writing become the scratch (the research paper I did in college was much more enjoyable due to the process of researching rather than writing). Put new problem to solve in front of me. Spend time in my workshop. Not writing. Ugh… sit in front of a keyboard, or, god forbid, write with a paper and pen? Yuck.
Then life changed in its slowly evolving nature as it seems to always do. First a blog. Then writing a a book. Now working on a few different book ideas at once. The process has become intoxicating in many ways. Not for the sake of writing in of itself or as a way to become rich and famous, rather, it forces me to take time to walk through my thoughts and ideas. To go from a blank page to creating something means I must pause, think, consider, translate the abstract thought into a cohesive whole. As I write I am spending time alone focused on understanding myself in previously unexplored ways. It is a form of deep meditation, soothing while simultaneously discomforting and unsettling. Crazy, right?
Yesterday I was in between audiobooks so I opted to fire up a podcast I’d downloaded quite some time ago. Tim Ferriss had an interview I just HAD to listen to with one of my favorite authors. Neil Gaiman is definitively on my “Mount Rushmore” of writers and experiencing an insight into his mind was something I could not miss. The podcast and interview did not disappoint, the only knock on it was that it was only an hour when no less than 8 would have satisfied me.
What’s really been resonating in my thoughts over the past 24-ish hours was the insight into his writing process. Since I’ve started to enjoy the act of writing I am finding myself more and more fascinated with the ways in which authors ply their craft. There are technical aspects which are interesting, the timing, the rituals, the typing versus hand writing. So many various ways to actually write and create.
Even more fascinating is the thought process, the creation, the ideation process. Start with a simple thought and write straight through. Start in the middle of the story and then work backwards and forwards. Create an outline as a skeleton and then add the flesh. Start an idea, lock it up for months for “aging.” Start with a question. Start with a character. Start with a twist.
Additionally, it is interesting to hear how perfectly imperfectly human they each are. Start with fears of getting the idea right. Nervousness about making the first keystrokes which mar the perfection of a clean document. The impostor syndrome, the fear of their work not being worthy. In hearing and reading about each author I’m able to more strongly connect what I do with the craft they’ve turned into their livelihood. They suddenly go from being “authors” to “people,” and people I can relate to.
While I continue down my current path of writing I’m blessed to have access to so many interviews, notes, conversations, and stories with these folks who’ve found the joy in the craft I’m enjoying more and more.
Days like this almost make it feel a little too easy to blog, but seriously, look at this scene! On our way back from the halfway point of our run we encountered this incredible view. The sun getting ready to pop out from behind the bluffs in the distance. The calm waters of the Black River. Pelicans floating in the background. In case that wasn’t enough a great blue heron started to fly across.
Starting a day with exercise, being outdoors with Becky, and soaking in the scenery like this? Perfect. Absolutely perfect.
Today was a focused effort from start to finish. I started with a handful of tasks from the past couple of days and added many more to cover the next week or so. Some of those tasks also included mapping out the next four plus months which was pretty wild.
There’s a joy to be found in being able to go from one task to the next, crossing them off one after another. While I often find the most joy in strategy, the beauty in knocking out tactic after tactic felt amazing. Really knocking the crap out of that list on Wednesday felt pretty amazing!
Another thing I’m thankful for is the bearing of the next finish line. I’m a fan of looking at much of life as a series of sprints with a little recovery in between each race. I’ve been going strong for quite some time and I’m really looking forward to hitting the next finish line in the near future. My body and mind can tell that I’m getting to the point when I need to take that deep breath, pause, and recharge. See you soon finish line!