Day 1,149 – Thankful for Fellowship with Business Partners, Not Caring Who Sees Me Doing Yoga, a Subtle Reminder of Dad, and No WiFi

It’s been an incredibly full day. I’m in bed, typing, and ready to call it a night shortly after finishing today’s blog… maybe I’ll sneak in a chapter or two of the book I started today 😉 There’ve been many things to be thankful for today. Some include pretty deep thoughts and realizations but I think I’ll let those simmer and ferment for a day or two. Today there were four things that stuck out in their own unique ways.

First off, when Becky and I woke up we were going to head out to do some yoga on the deck over the ocean but there were a few people there already. As opposed to disturbing their quiet moment of watching the sun rise wee headed over by the pool to get our yoga on there. It’s pretty much right in the middle of the condo complex and the focal point of many of the units, but I could’ve cared less. Back in the day I would’ve been way to self conscious to do this but today it felt just fine. It was very liberating to not care who saw me doing yoga.

The overwhelming majority of the day was spent in fellowship with my business partners. So often when we meet there are specific business goals and activities we’re working to accomplish. Today there was none of that. Very little business was spoken, the majority of time was put into rekindling and improving our relationships together. That is something I’m very thankful for. Those moments are few and far between and I’m always excited to take advantage of them.

At dinner tonight I ordered a beer. For some unknown reason I did something that I haven’t done in a very long time. I dumped a little salt in my beer. It was an odd habit my dad used to have that I had picked up from him but somewhere down the line I’d stopped. It’s probably been a couple of years since I last did it. Tonight for some reason it felt right so I did. As soon as I was in the motion of it I smiled and thought of Dad. How cool to have a subtle reminder of him like that to make me smile? I’m pretty positive he was smiling too.

Last, barring some crazy Christmas miracle in the next few minutes, this blog won’t get posted on the day it was written. It is currently 9:20pm as I write it and our WiFi is out. I’ll finish writing it all tonight and post it tomorrow. Remember, I write a blog each day, sometimes I don’t get to post one each day. With all that out of the way I’ve got to say that it’s been incredibly liberating to not be on my phone or laptop for almost the entire day. Times like this remind me of how little I truly need to be connected that way. They also remind me of how much I appreciate being able to work from afar as much as I can thanks to wifi and modern technology. (LOL – just as I was about to close my iPad the wifi clicked on!)

Off to reading a chapter before bed to cap an awesome day.

Thanks!!!

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Day 1,148 – Thankful for Remembering to Swim with the Tide

This morning I was all types of excited to get out on the paddle board for a little morning exercise. Almost as soon as I stood atop it in the ocean something felt off. Try as I might I just couldn’t get my brain to slow down and relax. My footing was totally unsteady and my only focus was on not falling – exactly the opposite of what I should have been focused on.

I paddled out for a little ways hoping to loosen up along the way. After a few short minutes I gave in and headed back to shore. For a moment I paused and just couldn’t bring myself to call it quits so I turned around and headed back out. For a couple of strokes I felt okay, but I was then hit with totally unsteadiness and was unable to get my head cleared. This time I totally gave in and carried my board back up to the shore.

Feeling frustrated I paused and considered going out on a kayak instead. As I attempted to get it out I became bent out of shape from the bugs that decided to swarm me. Once I had the kayak out I realized the seat wasn’t attached and I became more agitated at my inability to get it buckled on.

Right as I was about to throw a tantrum I laughed instead. Are you kidding me? I’m in paradise by the ocean on a beautifully warm and sunny day and I’m about to throw a fit like a little kid!

Laughing at myself I took a deep breath and thought about why I woke myself up early and headed outside this morning. The whole reason for attempting this was to relax and enjoy a nice workout in the morning. This was about the exact opposite of what was happening. In that moment I made the decision to swim with the tide as opposed to against it.

I put everything away, headed up to my room, and changed into my running clothes. Off I went on an excellent 5 miler that was one of the best I’ve had in a long time. It felt amazing and left me smiling.

In taking the time to listen to what the universe was trying to provide I was initially set on imposing my will on it instead. Once I relented and went with the universe I had an amazing time and accomplished even more than I’d initially hoped.

Shortly after this experience I started mentally writing my blog. Interestingly enough, I had the opportunity to follow that advice again later in the day. I am very certain that the focus on this concept helped me respond correctly later in the day.

As I went forward with the plan I had in mind I received feedback from my peers to do something completely different. I paused as I heard their advice and had flashbacks to the paddle board this morning. With that visual in mind I considered what the universe was passing my way; wonderful words of advice from peers I know and trust. It would’ve been easy to argue and push back (partially because I can be competitive and want my idea to win – how silly is that?). But had I pushed back it would have been like me fighting the tide… Instead I listened and swam with the tide. As I’ve had more time to consider this I realize just how right my peers were on this one and I am so thankful for their advice.

This is a simple story I’ll remind myself of often in the future. Pause and listen to what is going on around me. Before I fight the tide be sure to see if there’s a way to swim with the tide or if this is the time to push back. Be conscious of taking the time to make the right decision as opposed to just reacting to it.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,147 – Thankful for Remembering to Balance Optimism with Realism

On days like today I’m tempted to write about being thankful for “blogs that help me work out my thoughts.” I’m pretty sure I haven’t written that one in the past 1,512 posts and at some point I probably should. There have been many days when taking the time to pause and reflect has been greatly appreciated. To be able to get my thoughts out through writing leaves my brain feeling more sorted out. Today has been very much in that same vein.

While putting together our strategy and plans for the upcoming year it is a great time to pause and review the past year as well as the several preceding it. As I wrote about a while back I have saved many of my notes and it is great to start with where we’ve been before looking to where we’re going.

As some of you may have noticed I am sometimes an optimist to a fault. I’ll do my best to find the upside of just about any situation and make plans around everything working out perfectly as they happened in my head. As one could imagine this can lead to many great things and more than it’s fair share of mistakes and disappointments.

I can also quickly downshift to being a hardcore realist. Based on past data and indicators I can find reasoning to prove how something is likely to work out. This isn’t nearly as uplifting and can lead to additional stress, but it also tends to save me from horrible mistakes.

Finding balance between these two mindsets has been a huge challenge for me. My optimistic brain can dream up some pretty amazing best case scenarios and dreams. My read list focused brain can find one hundred ways that something can and will most likely fail. My optimistic brain causes me to have blind spots and rush into mistakes. My realist brain can scare me away from making the big decision that may make all the difference.

Over the past day I’ve been in spots in which my realist brain was the right one to listen to and others in which my optimistic brain was the right one. I need to spend more time reflecting on how I choose which brain style to start in and how and when to engage the other. Today there were times when I was able to bounce between both and made some tremendous progress. I would love to say it happened naturally, but in reality it only happened when I paused and reminded myself to look at the situation through both brains. When that happened it was wonderful to see the two sides create together.

Optimist Brain: What about this crazy goal?

Realist Brain: Hmm… Remember how last time you tried this and failed, thrived that and it didn’t work out, and then the other one worked out? What should that tell you about this crazy goal?

Optimist Brain: Oh… I kind of forgot about that one. Dang, that really sucked. I did learn this though and if I change this other piece too…

Realist Brain: Hmm… That might actually work out. You did this once before and then you did that a different time. Hell, let’s give it a shot!

It is still far from feeling natural, but I am so thankful for remembering to take the time to listen to both brains today. I’m confident that the goals we set will be much more on track thanks to both sides being present in the discussion.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,146 – Thankful for a Story Reminding Me to Remember My Why and to Check My Ego

For reals, if you enjoy woodworking and want something uplifting and thought provoking please, please, please pick up the book Handmade: Creative Focus in the Age of Distraction by Gary Rogowski. I often read books quickly and voraciously. This allows me to take in many subjects and ideas quickly, but sometimes I miss out on the finer details. As I’ve read this book I’ve taken a conscious effort to slow down and savor each and every delicious bite. I’m so thankful for slowing down to truly enjoy this one, it’s amazing.

There was a story in the book today that really gripped my interest and wouldn’t let my mind wander too far from it throughout the day. I’ll do my best to summarize and put it into my own words. The more and more I reflect on the story it keeps focusing my mind on the words grit and why. I hope you enjoy and find it as thought provoking as I did.

Once upon a time there was a beautiful old college in England that was founded in the the late 1300’s. When it was started they built a great commons area for the students. In the great hall were breathtaking oak beams. They were almost two feet by two feet and spanned about twenty feet. Such beauties like those are very difficult to come by.

Four hundred or so years later someone discovered that the beams had been infested by beetles, as oak has a tendency to have happen after many many years. The school was at a loss on how to find magnificent beams to replace the old ones. After much thought and consideration they contacted the school forester. As luck would have it the school had several plots of forest and they were hoping to stumble upon trees that would fit. Their call to the forester proved to be very interesting.

“Well sirs, we were wonderin’ when you’d be askin’.” The forester went on to inform the college that way back four hundred years prior to the call the college forester at the time planted a grove of oak trees. He passed on instruction to the next forester that they were to be saved and used only as the replacements for the beams. Over the course of four centuries the foresters passed this information from generation to generation.

Imagine that for a moment… For the length of each individual’s career they were trusted with the task of protecting those trees and passing on the knowledge. How many generations of foresters contributed to support this? Each helping to support a goal / dream / future that they would never see realized. With the exception of the final forester they did not receive accolades for their hard work and contribution. They did what was right and needed to be done without concern of personal success and reputation. They did it specifically because it was the right thing to do.

This really hits home for me as I continue to battle my own ego. I like recognition for my hard work and efforts. Why? This is so foolish. If I’ve put in the hard work why should it matter whether anyone notices or not, whether someone says something or not. At the end of each day. I go to bed knowing if I put forth my best effort on the right tasks in pursuit of the right purpose. My happiness and joy should not be derived from the compliments of others, rather from the knowledge and self-reflection of a job well done. This story will be one I call to mind often to help me temper my need to placate my ego with the compliments of others.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,145 – Thankful for a Reading a Book and Knowing Dad Was Laughing with Me as I Read It

Day 1,145 – Thankful for a Reading a Book and Knowing Dad Was Laughing with Me as I Read It

What an excellent day filled with so many things to be thankful for! Each piece of the day fit together so well, from an early start to everything being on time to incredible fellowship it’s been a dandy.

What really sticks out today is the few hours I spent reading a great book. It was recommended from a different book I recently finished and it seemed right up my alley. The book Handmade: Creative Focus In the Age of Distraction was written by a master woodworker. The focus for the story is the author sharing how he initially fell in love with woodworking and his journey. It’s chock full of woodworking metaphors and really captures the incredibly satisfying feeling of creating something with your own two hands. There was also an unexpected twist, he loves the outdoors, hiking and rock climbing – how could I go wrong there? The time spent reading the story itself flew by, I was so caught up in the story and seeing so many parallels. Funny how sometimes we can learn so much from an unexpected teacher using very unexpected metaphors.

As if the book itself wasn’t enough I swear I could hear Dad laughing along with me at some of the stories. So many of the things that the author describes are events I either witnessed firsthand with Dad or heard about from Dad. I could see him shaking his head at parts and then start telling his own version of a similar story. There were times I could hear him telling me, “See Mikey, I warned you about that,” while smiling all the while.

So much of the joy my dad found in life came from creating things. I’m so grateful for all of the opportunities I had to learn some of those skills with him (though not nearly as many as I’d have liked). While he’s not physically here to keep coaching and teaching me the experience today made it very clear that he’s still with me. That sensation is something that I am incredibly appreciative of today.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,144 – Thankful for Saving Old Notes and Feedback

Every once in a while my packrat tendencies pay off.  Over the past few years I’ve worked on reducing the amount of “stuff” I save.  In spite of my best efforts there are a few stacks of old notes that I can’t bring myself to get rid of.  It would be very easy to scan and save them electronically, but there’s something so satisfying about physically holding sheets of paper.

This particular stack is old notes and feedback from teammates and mentors from past planning sessions.  Each year we get together to set our goals for the year and work together to help each other watch out for blind spots and improve upon strategies.  One of the things I appreciate most about the group is that we really don’t hold back punches.  Yes, it can sting at times, but there’s a mutual respect and love for each other that helps us all get better and grow.

As our planning session starts next week I paused today and took a few moments of solitude to re-read those notes.  Pouring back over them reminded me of what I may have been overlooking or over thinking.  They reminded me of some of my tendencies and helped me focus on looking at our plans from other perspectives.  One other wonderful benefit was that it reminded me of the voices of past mentors who I don’t see nearly as often anymore.

That stack of notes was read specifically because it was on paper.  Had they been electronic I would have most likely passed right by.  There’s something about having a physical manifestation of peer and mentor feedback that helps me focus on reviewing and remembering those old notes.

I’m happy that I’ve started getting rid of many piles of old “stuff,” but today I’m especially thankful for the “stuff” that I’ve kept.

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Thanks!!!

Day 1,143 – Thankful for Taking Action; Digital Minimalism

For the umpteenth (yes, that’s a technical term) time I’m feeling very grateful for the advice of reading and re-reading the same small handful of books.  I haven’t stuck with it perfectly as I like mixing in different viewpoints, but I’m cycling back through some favorites while adding some new ones to the list.  The one I just wrapped up was Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.

So here’s the deal…  please be sure to note that I’m not passing judgement on anyone other than myself when I say this.  When I’ve looked at the “Screen Time” feature on my iPhone I really want to barf.  Yes, I use it for work also.  Yes, there are useful things it provides.  Overall, I spend too much time on it.  I’m not proud of my Pavlovian need to check it every time it dings or buzzes.  Re-reading Digital Minimalism has made it even more painfully obvious how unhappy I am with how much of my focus I give that screen.  Nothing like finding that gap between who I am and who I should be to motivate me to close that gap.

Thanks to so many great ideas I got from the book a second time I’ve taken a few big steps today.  The first time I read the book I knew I should take them but then kind of set them by the wayside.  After letting it sink further in during the second read I’ve made immediate action.  The biggest already has me twitching a little bit…  which also has me realizing that it may have been a bit overdue.  I’ve deleted all of my social media apps from my phone.  If I want to hop online, which I know I will from time to time, I’ll need to dig out my iPad or laptop.  This one extra step will undoubtedly reduce my screen time significantly.  I’ve also deleted my beloved Sudoku game from my phone and have a different activity that will take its place when I go to bed.

They may be little steps, but I’m already seeing how I can make more time in my life for those people and activities which are most important to me.  Below is even a little hint of what’s up next 😉

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Thanks!!!