Day 1,833 – Thankful for the Simplicity of Nature and Hiking the Ridges

Day 1,833 – Thankful for the Simplicity of Nature and Hiking the Ridges

I have a tendency to make life so much more complex than it needs to be. Busy schedules, technology, financial management, business, and so on. There is so much I pack into life that is unnecessary and self imposed.

In the woods everything fades away. The noise of daily life is muted by the simplicity of existing in nature. Trees who’ve stood before I was born demand my attention. The rocks and hills I observe have existed long before man walked the Earth will remain long after I’m gone. The sounds of the streams provide a more beautiful music than any I would play on my iPhone. Everything I need is there in the woods, in the simplicity, and in that exact moment.

In that moment all of the busyness of life fades from existence. There are no deadlines and tasks, only serenity and wonder. My ego is replaced with the reminder of how small and temporary my life is compared to so much of what exists around me. I am lost in the moment at the very time I find my true self in the woods.

The simplicity of nature surrounding me is deafening.

Today that simplicity was shared with Becky and Gavin (Dominic was refereeing soccer games). The ridges we hiked were so amazing. I could bring a hammock and backpack and stay up there for days. The peacefulness provides a profound state of chill and introspection while my wonder and curiosity often lead me off the trail to observe interesting plants, rocks, and tree roots. Those heavily canopied maple and oak forests are some of the most magical places in the Driftless.

My soul is full.


Day 1,812 – Thankful for Being Called In Rather Than Called Out

Day 1,812 – Thankful for Being Called In Rather Than Called Out

I recently watched an intriguing podcast on racism, action, and how to actually make a difference. The speaker did an excellent job of explaining the differences between being “called out,” “called on,” and “called in.”

Call outs are straightforward and don’t often get a positive reaction. The person being called out usually digs their heels in deeper rather than change.

Being called on is similar to being called out, but in a way in which you share your positive views of the individual and ask them to help reconcile the difference you’re seeing in what they’ve expressed.

Being called in is to invite another into the conversation. There is no judgment, only curiosity in learning where the person is coming from. Thus starts a conversation and dialogue allowing us to hear the other person. Essentially it is the concept of “seek first to understand.”

Today I was called in to a conversation. The experience was wildly positive and helps me see how calling in can really make a difference. Prior to this call in I would have just put out my hands to stop the conversation, but this time was very different. Rather than feeling the need to go on the defensive I felt honored. What a huge difference in attitudes in me specifically because of how a conversation was started?

Another day, another moment of learning!


Day 1,810 – Thankful for a Quick Virtual Trip to the Porcupine Mountains

My drive to Eau Claire was crazy foggy this morning! There were times when I would go from driving through a cloud to rising above the clouds and seeing islands of bluffs peeking out to back down into the clouds. Crazy!

After listening to my audiobook for a while I paused and listened to The Woods by Hollow Coves. While the song played my mind went to our backpacking trip to the Porcupine Mountains this past Spring. I remembered the last day of our hike specifically.

The cold river crossing early in the morning.

The rocky, gray, and quiet forest transforming into a lush green forest seemingly out of nowhere.

Climbing through the fog.

Looking into nothingness in the clouds.

What beautiful memories!


Day 1,809 – Thankful for the Journey of Writing with Dad

As the pieces come together on my writing I’m continually grateful for this journey. Losing Dad was the most difficult time of my life to date. The pain can still be raw at times. I often wish for an opportunity to have a few more minutes with him, another conversation, or another hug. The sense of loss will never leave my soul.

What’s interesting is that the more I write the more my thoughts shift from loss to gratitude for the time I had with Dad. So many wonderful moments, memories, and experiences with him. I am so fortunate to have had Dad in my life.

The more I write the more memories come back. The more I write those memories down the more memories that also rise up to the surface. And so it goes.

In many ways this journey has brought me closer to Dad. I’m seeing more clearly the impact he’s had on my life and the legacy I hope to leave my boys. As I write I’m seeing the good and the bad, what I’d love to grow into and the gaps I need to cross.

LOL – my hair, his mustache… two things we’d both like to forget 😉

All the while I know Dad is with me in this journey. I can feel him supporting and guiding me. We do this together. It isn’t my story I am writing, it is our story we’re writing. Each step is a smile, a discovery, a lesson, and a moment I’m grateful for.


Day 1,801 – Thankful for a Normal-ish First Day of School Pic

For the third time today I can’t help but chuckle as I remember that it can be so difficult to be thankful and appreciative for something until it is gone. There are so many things in life I’ve taken for granted and have only noticed once they were removed. The appreciation is so much easier afterwards as I can start to more fully grasp the impact that was made by it.

The first day of school is one of those things. When I was cruising back through some old pictures I came across many first day of school pictures until I got to 2020. There weren’t any. I paused and asked Becky if I was looking in the right place. She reminded me that they were non-existent as they were schooling online. Crazy! How quickly I forget. Then I paused and remembered just how special these first day of school pics are.

Each year this is a day when there is almost guaranteed to be a photo of both the boys side by side. Just like the rings in the tree we can se the growth of the boys by looking back through the old first day of school pics. For instance, here’s 2015 on the left and 2021 on the right:

The way these boys have grown blows my mind! It is difficult for me to grasp just how quickly they’ve grown in such a short period of time.

What made these year even crazier was their ride to school. No bus for these boys for their first day. They loaded up into their car and Dominic drove them to school. Peace out school bus, hello freedom through personal transportation!

I’m thankful for getting back into the habit of the first day of school pics even though I’m suddenly feeling way older than I did when I woke up today 😉


Day 1,793 – Thankful for a Specific Moment at the Springsteen Concert

Seeing Bruce Springsteen live and in concert was mind blowing on so many levels. The entire event seemed so surreal. I often would pause and realize that I was actually seeing this in real life. Bucket list item checked off, was well worth the wait, travel, and cost.

The best part of the entire night was a single moment which I’ll have burned into my memory. A moment which will always bring me a smile. A single moment of pure Becky joy that topped anything Bruce did all night long.

Late in the show Bruce was talking about how his purpose was to help people through his music, whether in good times or bad, or vacuuming or doing laundry – which nailed Becky to a T as she often has Bruce on in the background on Saturday morning me as she’s doing things around the house.

At the point he said the last part of that line becky let out a sound of joy followed by a huge joyful smile – either of which I’ll ever forget. In that instant I witnessed the physical embodiment of someone realizing a dream, and it was perfect.

Springsteen’s show was amazing, even more than I expected, but that one moment was the single best part of show.

I didn’t take any pictures of the show, I burned the memories into my soul


Day 1,789 – Thankful for Pausing to Savor a Moment of Simple Repose

Often my thoughts and blogs are cluttered with unnecessary words and details. In an effort to clearly communicate I talk or write too much which detracts from the thought of emotion I’m attempt to convey. Occasionally I feel compelled to write more to “prove” my point, a terribly ridiculous thought when I’m writing for myself in the first place. All of these feelings and habits lead to more words, overcomplicated rather than accurately portraying my thoughts.

Tonight is different.

Amongst the busyness of a large family gathering I saw the moon slowly rising over a mirror of a lake. I walked to it in silence. I paused and took in the simple repose of the majestic sight. In that moment there was only stillness, peace, and beauty.

I paused and took it in, allowing my soul to mirror the simplicity and stillness surrounding me. I breathed it in and was grateful for life.


Day 424 – Thankful for a Little Vacation R&R

Day 424 – Thankful for a Little Vacation R&R

If you’ve vacationed with us before or have heard stories of our vacations you’ll know that we typically pack 8-10 days worth of activity into every 7 days of vacation. The great part is seeing and doing so much while we’re away. The downside is the amount of energy it takes to keep that pace going for a prolonged period of time and it usually requires some recharging time afterwards.

Due to Mother Nature’s disagreement with our plans for today we found ourselves with a day in which we had nothing planned – truly a rarity on our vacations! Taking advantage of our luck we opted to sleep in, we took our time getting ready, and then headed off for a bonus hike in a New Zealand’s best geothermal area. It was pretty cool, very similar to and yet very different than Yellowstone.

After that we went on a short walk by a waterfall, headed into town for a relaxing lunch, bummed around town, and then headed back to the hotel to chill poolside. The boys are having a lot of fun together and Becky are enjoying some chill time (though I’m still feeling a little stir crazy, hence blogging right now and then working on my book once this posts!).

Normally we wouldn’t have quite this much downtime in a day, but it really feels great and we’re enjoying it.