Day 1,672 – Thankful for Letting Reflexes Take Over and My Boat Back-er Upper Coach

While Becky was volunteering at the soccer fields and Dominic was reffing Gavin and I were getting the pontoon ready this morning. The weather wasn’t right for boating, but it is always nice to get it ready to go so we can drop it in the water on a random weeknight. The task largely consisted of loading stuff into the boat, but we also had to gas up for the start of the year.

There’s a specific Kwik Trip I like to go to for this task. The one on Rose Street has a lane that leads straight out to the road and the hose is exactly long enough to reach our tank (the height is all wonky with the pontoon being trailered). I’ve been known to wait until that exact pump is open to avoid having to make any crazy turns or having to back up.

As luck would have it the pump was open so I started pulling in. Once the front of the car was already past the pump I noticed that the alley exit was closed due to construction. A brief wave of panic rolled through my brain as the concept of having to back up rose up form the pit of my stomach. I took a deep breath and figured, “what’s the worst that could happen?” Yes, there was a long list of awful possibilities, but that’s what I have insurance for, right?

After gassing up I had Gavin hop out to keep an eye out for anything I may hit. I took a deep breath and then did my best to let my reflexes kick in rather than overthink it. Next thing I knew I was backing it up perfectly straight as I needed to. When we got to the right point I jack knifed the trailer in the exact 90 degree corner I wanted to move it into. Gavin jumped in the car and we pulled out. No second thoughts, no over thinking, no damage, and not even a single re-do or correction. Everything went perfectly!

The only part that I was disappointed by in this endeavor was that Becky wasn’t there to witness it. Ever since we first got our pontoon she’s been the one who’s coached me on how to back it up correctly and efficiently. Becky taught me all the tricks I know about backing up the boat and all those lessons paid off today.

I’m glad I remembered to let reflexes kick in and even more grateful for the coach who’s helped me develop those reflexes. Thanks Becky!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,671 – Thankful for Finding a Place of Serenity On a Road Trip

Oops!!! Somehow I missed hitting the “Publish” button after finishing my blog last night. At least I wrote it on the day I was supposed to 😉

Dominic’s last high school soccer game of the season was today. While Becky went to Gavin’s game here in town I hopped in the car and drove an hour and a half down the Mississippi River to Prairie du Chien. I opted to head across the border into Minnesota and then into Iowa before crossing the Mississippi a second time to go back into Wisconsin.

Of all the drives to and from La Crosse this one has to be amongst my all time favorites. The entire drive has scenic views of the bluffs, the river, and all the wildlife in between. There is little traffic and very few towns which adds even more to the feeling of serenity on the drive. I saw so many migrating birds, eagles, pelicans, and other signs wildlife. Focusing on the road was difficult at times as my eyes, imagination, and wonder pulled me towards the spectacular views of the Mississippi River Valley.

On my way home I remembered something I had noticed as I’d crossed into Iowa. Just a few minutes across the border there was a sign for the “Fish Farm Mounds” and there was a little parking area. After sitting in the car for a while it seemed like a great spot to get out and stretch my legs while taking in more of the view. I am so thankful I chose that exact spot.

When I pulled into the parking area my car was the only one there. I saw a hint of a trail that ended in some barely noticeable steps leading to seemingly nowhere. In a flash I found myself going up the old grass and moss covered carved rock steps. After a dozen or so steps the trail turned sharply to the left. Another dozen or so steps and it turned sharply to the right. At the end of the stairs I stood frozen.

When I have read fictional stories telling of a fairy tale like forest I couldn’t picture anything more idyllic than the glen I walked into. The outside world seemed to fade away when I walked a few steps into this area. It was a large open grassy area surrounded on all sides by thick brush and trees. Several trees provided what would appear to be the perfect amount of shade on a sunny day. I swear I walked out of reality and into a fantasy world. It even felt different in the core of my bones. I wish I sufficient words to share exactly what I mean, but all I can say is that it was so vividly serene.

What made the area even more special were the dozens of burial mounds from indigenous Americans… some from over 2,000 years ago! The most recent amongst them are believed to be from the year 650. No, I didn’t forget the first digit – the newest ones are almost 1,400 years old. Seeing the mounds throughout the area added an additional depth to the magic of this location. It was so easy to see why they would have chosen such a place for the final resting spot of family. I must admit that it was quickly added to the list of places I would like to see my ashes spread after the time of my earthly body has come to an end.

I took a couple of pictures to remind me of this place, though they will never do it justice. The true magic was in the place itself, in the land, and in the history surrounding it. Whenever I read a story of someone running into the woods this is the spot which will be in my mind. I’ve already seared the memory into my heart, or, more fittingly, this place has left its mark upon me.

I am so thankful for taking the time to explore the outdoors. Never in a million years would I have imagined finding a little piece of heaven on Earth like this.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,670 – Thankful for Chilling on the Couch as a Family on Friday

This has been a great week for a wide variety of reasons. There have been ups and downs, but we definitely won way more than we loss.

The way we’re wrapping up the week is about as perfectly as I could hope… family time on the couch. It doesn’t happen often, but all four of us are now home, chilling on the couch, joking and laughing together as a family.

Everything else today is secondary to a moment like this.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,669 – Thankful for Business Sales that Pay Off Now and Even More In the Future

Sorry blog-o-sphere, this is going to be a short one. The 2nd COVID shot has officially kicked my butt and I’m about to crash. The good news is that I’m. Is in the home stretch I’m expecting to feel great by the time I wake up tomorrow morning.

It’s no secret that I love business to business sales. Learning about their challenges and crafting solutions to help them is something I enjoy immensely. When I’m able to find a way to help them save money, recruit and retain better people, and pay those people more I’m smiling from ear to ear.

Of course I’m very interested in seeing the financial wins of a new sale as well. Not only do the solutions help our business eases but they help me provide more for my teammates. When we pull the sale off correctly everyone involved will see financial gain.

That said, over the past week we’ve had a few sales meetings which should prove to be very profitable. More important than the initial gain is the long term development of my teammates as a result of the sale itself. Of course I’m excited to see the financial win, but I’m even more excited to see how these sales help grow our entire team for years to come. I’m thankful for the opportunity to see sales that help a lot now and even more in the future.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,668 – Thankful for One Step Closer to Normal(ish), Listening to the Advice of Others, and Learning From the Past

As of 8:15 this morning I’ve now got the matching pair of Moderna vaccines. Woo hoo!!! I am incredibly grateful for everyone involved in the research for and creation of the COVID vaccines in such a wildly short amount of time. When I pause and think about it my mind is blown by how quickly these vaccines were created compared to those in the past.

No, I’m not going to immediately get right back into everything I’d been doing thirteen months ago, but it is awesome knowing that I’m one step closer to the normal I used to be used to. There are parts which won’t be the same, for better and worse, but there will be so many more options now that I’ve gotten the second dose.

When talking with others about getting vaccinated I am grateful for all of the advice they shared – especially about what to expect with the 2nd shot. The experiences all varied significantly, but there were definitely some common themes. Being very tired, needing extra sleep, and spiking a fever were some of the most frequently heard. I listened to all of the and prepared in advance by keeping my day largely open and flexible today to withstand any side effects I felt. Hearing the advice of others helped me prepare for the possibilities of what may happen.

After the first dose I was tired within a few hours and kept getting more and more tired until I crashed by 7:30pm. In looking back at the experience I really wished I would have taken a nap earlier to give my body the rest it needed when it was signaling that it needed it. I learned from that experience and kept a more open and flexible day in my work schedule. When I started to crash I shut everything off, crashed hard, and slept. By the time I woke up I was already feeling way better. Who says you an’t teach an old dog new tricks? 😉

Thanks!!!

Day 1,667 – Thankful for Surprising and Encouraging Signs of Progress

This morning I arose a little before 4am. A long commute to work ahead of me, but I knew I needed some exercise and outdoor time prior to getting in the car for 90 minutes. Off to the bluff trail system I went. My left achilles was a little tight and I knew I was going to be pressed for time so I called an audible and left my backpack in the car.

Over the past several months almost all of the hiking I’ve done has included my 50# pack. With out upcoming trips I want to make sure I’m in the right type of shape to not just accomplish the goal, but to enjoy every minute of it as well.

Unencumbered, I swear I floated up the bluff this morning. It was absolutely wild! Never in my years has going up 500′ on trails felt so incredibly effortless. At no point was my heart beating fast or was I out of breath. I just floated all the way up the bluff trails. By the time I got to the top I paused and had to double check my GPS watch to ensure I hadn’t missed something. Nope, I’d gone up so quickly I had time to explore a little and take an extra bit of trails on my way back to the car.

Talk about building confidence in my ability to handle our future endeavors! Surprising signs of progress like this are so much fun to stumble into. I knew I was slowly but surely getting stronger, but I had no idea I’d improved that much. Sure, Thursday I’ll put the pack on and go back to what has been my new normal, but I’ll do so with some added encouragement and confidence.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,666 – Thankful for The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

A couple of weekends ago I awoke to a message waiting for me in Facebook Messenger. It was only by chance that I happened to open the app as I don’t have the notifications on for it (of most of my other apps, but that’s a conversation for another day). My inbox contained a message from my friend Steve. There was no note attached, only a link. You can check it out here.

A handful of years ago Steve went on a road trip to Colorado with the boys and I. As we drove down an old country road surrounded by aspen we pulled over for a little hike. When we got back in the car and started driving Steve went on the recite the entire poem The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost… from memory. To this day when the boys hear the poem they confirm that it is the one Steve told them on that trip.

Over the past week and a half I’ve considered blogging about The Road Not Taken, but it didn’t quite feel right. From the past five plus years of blogging I’ve learned a valuable lesson. Some blogs need to grow, ferment, marinate, and age before they are ready. Tonight I’m thankful for waiting on this one as it finally seems right today.

When I hear this poem referenced it is often focused on the lines:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

When read in a vacuum this seems to be a call for originality, to be a rebel, and to go your own way. It these were the only three lines this would most likely have been the intent.

If one focuses only on those three lines it is so easy to misunderstand the full meaning of the poem and to miss out on the beauty that is the uncertainty of the conclusion. Thats one of the reasons I am grateful for this poem today. The complexity, uncertainty, and duality of meaning is seemingly rivaled by only life itself. Heck, even the lines before the three above add both feelings of remorse and satisfaction at the same time. We are left to decide for ourselves which the author is feeling as they write.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

When one listens completely there are so many meanings behind the poem. Almost every sentiment could be taken in different ways. The mood I am in seems to influence it differently each time I read it. Sometimes I find it inspiring to go where other’s haven’t gone. Other times it reminds me that life is about choice. There are also times when I realize that any path while walking in the woods is the correct choice.

Personally, the piece that has been resonating with me recently is one from the picture below:

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

What this stirs in me is the acceptance of choice – both in the path chosen and in accepting that some paths will go on untrodden by my feet. The nature of decision itself is in taking one path and thereby not taking another. Even if time allows another opportunity to travel the original road not taken the hike upon it will not be the same as before as I, the traveller, will be a different person than I was when I made the original decision.

The realization that the other path can never truly be taken the same way can be a stressful and fear inducing thought. If not considered appropriately I will never know what might have been. In a moment of stress and weakness I may look back to that path and become upset at my “incorrect choice.” When that happens there is one of the most insidious of emotions, regret.

On the converse, the thought of choosing to take one path can be the cause of great joy – even in, especially in, moments of stress and challenge. If I choose an emotion of gratitude I decide to want what I have instead of attempting to have what I want. When my choice is gratitude I see the other path as nonexistent as it is no longer there, there is only the path forward.

As I choose other paths in the future it will all be one path melded through gratitude rather than an ever weakening spiderweb of regret.

For me, today, this poem reminds me to accept the need to make a choice and to accept that the road not taken will be no more.

My thoughts of the past week have gone back to this poem on many occasions. In thinking on it and learning about it my life has been enriched. That is something I will be eternally thankful for.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,665 – Thankful for the Perfect Harmony of the Day

What I’m most thankful for today has been the flow of the day. The majority of days seem to either be a bit rushed at times or felt a bit disjointed. Many times there are curveballs thrown my way which knocks things a little out of true. These are not bad days, for sure, but they have moments that make the day feel like it is isn’t a perfectly synchronized work of art.

In the Dan Brown book Origins there’s an interesting comparison made. A crowd of people at a gathering hear what sounds like a small child banging away on a piano. Random notes, no chords, zero rhythm, and it is painful to listen to. After a short period of time the noise fades away and is replaced by a wonderfully performed symphony on the same piano. People are stirred to emotions and feel moved. The technical sounds are the same, the organization of them is how they transform from noise to beauty. The order creates flow.

From our hike today 🙂

Today each activity flowed beautifully from one activity to the next. There was seemingly no wasted moments while never feeling rushed. From the moment I woke up until now there’s been an incredible synchronicity to today. I had just enough time to start the next step of one project before Becky pulled out Butter Braids out of the oven. There was exactly enough time to work on the next step of one project and wrap up another before we ran to the grocery store. Grocery shopping seemed almost too simple and carefree. At home there was enough time to prep the sliders for our lunch while taking care of a couple of other things. Grab food, drop off Dominic for his referee assignment and then knock out a sweet 5+ mile hike with our packs on. We wrapped up just in time to get Dominic after his game was done. Becky and I ran a couple of errands, came home and knocked out other projects. She ran the boys to Scouts and we had an upbeat and positive unexpected phone call that landed at exactly the time we both were in between activities. Pick up the boys, finish grilling, eat, go for a walk with the dogs, back up to the workshop, help Gavin on a project, come inside, blog and soon go to bed. Everything perfectly in harmony, perfectly timed.

Today I’m grateful for the reminder to pause and be thankful for days like this when they happen. Enjoy the sensation of everything being perfectly in tune. Also, remember how these days happen. Yes, some of it is due to serendipity. That said, there’s also much credit due for focusing on the goals I want to accomplish, thinking ahead in how things will fit, giving myself extra time, and remembering to roll with the changes without emotion, only logic. The perfect timing of today didn’t happen merely by accident. There are so many ways I can control what I can control to help make the day flow like this. It won’t always work, but it will more often when I live intentionally.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,664 – Thankful for a Saturday Full of Stuff I Enjoy

I was going to find something more specific or witty, but the title really fits what I am grateful for today.

After waking up this morning I showered up and took Gavin to his soccer game. With the extra 40 minutes I had I reclined the seat a little and read in the quiet car. It was exactly how much time I needed to finish the book I’ve been reading, The Push by Tommy Caldwell.

Gavin played well in his game as I watched while standing in the sun. The heat of the sun felt so amazing after the gloominess of most of this past week. Seeing Gavin have fun playing with his friends was enjoyable and rewarding as always.

After his game I ran to Kwik Trip to grab some more water for him before the next game started. The drive provided an opportunity to listen to a little more of my current audiobook, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. By the time I got back to the fields I was already engrossed in the book.

Gavin played well in the second game too and I was still in the sun. Hey, if it was awesome the first time it was just as awesome the second.

After lunch I went up to my workshop to knock out the next steps on a project. Everything flowed well, went according to plan, and I felt great peace and calm as I created with my hands. I still smell the maple saw dust in my nose and that makes me smile!

Dominic was reffing in the afternoon so I went to pick him up. He drove us home and we shot the bull. Some extra time with just the two of us, the way I’d had with Gavin earlier in the day. So much fun spending time talking with my boys.

After a quick shower we were off to church. Another pleasant service that left me thinking and in a deep state of calm.

Sushi for supper, yum!

Not from today but kinda fits the next paragraph 🙂

After supper Dominic, Becky, and I took the girls for a walk and enjoyed even more fresh air. Getting out moving with a belly full fish was exactly what I needed. Exercise, fresh air, time with the family? Yes please!

Now it’s time for a movie and chillin’ on the couch before hitting the bed.

See what I mean? It has been a Saturday full of stuff I enjoy. To focus on any one part would have missed the point. It has been an awesome day!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,663 – Thankful for Forced Ingenuity and the Right Tools

Way back in the day when I first got a router it was as a gift from work. I didn’t really have the cash available to buy a router table for it so I did the next best thing… I made one for myself. Between an article talking about how to make your own router plates to memories of Dad’s router set up I figured I could give it a go. The result wasn’t pretty, not by a long shot, but it was reasonably functional. When I used it there was initially a sense of pride in using my own creation to create other things…

After a while it transformed into frustration over the imperfections caused by the flaws of my design. It wasn’t easy to set up and adjust. The screws weren’t perfectly flush which led to scratching on the surface which in turn caused more sanding. The lines and angles were close, but needed a lot of love from my sander to get them looking balanced. Heck, the lack of safety features even caused the worst woodworking injury I’ve ever had. If you ever need to measure something to see if it is truly 3/8″ just use the palm of my right hand to see if the scar is the same size.

The situation I was in forced me to improvise and use ingenuity to figure out how to create a workable router table. In doing so I learned several new skills I may not have picked up before. There were many lessons in how a router works as well which has helped me use this tool in different ways.

Fast forward to tonight. I had some work to do on a few projects and the next steps involved the router. From past experience I was looking at 45-60 minutes per item based on what I needed to do with each, a total of approximately two and a half hours. After a bit of hesitation I ran to Menards and finally bought myself a router table. I cringed at the price and almost changed my mind, but in the end I ended up with something like this in my workshop:

Gavin came upstairs to help me set it up and make sure it was ready. We then proceeded to finish all three projects within 15 minutes! How wild is that? From two and a half hours to 15 minutes – all thanks to using the right tool for the job.

This interesting dichotomy wasn’t lost on me as I wrapped up my work on the projects tonight. The forced ingenuity helped me find my own way, to learn more about the process, and led to one sense of accomplishment. Using the right tool made life so much easier and helped me get more of the one resource I can never replace – time. There was a different sense of accomplishment in knowing I would be able to produce so much more thanks to the time savings and my work would look so much better.

Today I’m grateful for both sides of the coin – forced ingenuity AND the right tool for the job.

Thanks!!!