Of all that I’ve encountered and lived over the past year there are three key lessons that have repeated themselves over and over. Today I’m thankful for the combination of the three as they help me stay joyful daily. It’s funny, I don’t always think about them consciously, but they are always there, hanging out in the back of my brain and soul, reminding me occasionally that they are there with me, a part of me, and ready to support me.
Optimism can be defined as “hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.” No matter what I encounter in life I know that the future has the potential to be the best possible future, regardless of what has happened in the past.
Stoicism is a little different twist on optimism. It’s essentially saying that there isn’t good or bad when it comes to external events, each specific event just is. We put the context to it, good or bad. Stoics believe that our happiness lies in our ability to respond appropriately and with the appropriate emotions to each event. The focus is on finding the right emotion to find the positive in the situation and find our happiness there. Marcus Aurelius said it best, “Objective judgement, now at this very moment. Unselfish action, now at this very moment. Willing acceptance – now at this very moment – of all external events. That’s all you need.”
Gratitude… ahh… my best buddy, gratitude. If there was one thing I would’ve asked Marcus to add to his quote above it would have been, “and be thankful for every moment and event you experience in life, it means you’re still alive.” Seriously, it’s amazing how my attitude changes when I am presented with something that could be taken as very bad but I find a way to be thankful for it. When I pause and find the reason to be grateful for it my attitude immediately changes and I smile. I’ve found that an ounce of gratitude can go a long way to healing the soul and bringing joy to my heart.
Today each of these three core values and key lessons have been in the forefront of my brain. I’m thankful for every difficult situation that has led me to embrace them as much as I have, they’ve been tremendous friends and allies to me today.
After getting home from yoga tonight I surprised the boys with something that doesn’t happen very often… a random weekday movie night!
We fired up the new Jumanji movie and laughed our butts off together. At times it was just Dominic and I laughing while Gavin was a little confused which made the two of us laugh even more!
There’s something about time spent with boys like this that makes me smile. I still remember many times when my parents would do random things for Nick and I when only one of them was home. It’s so much fun continuing the tradition.
There have been so many things that I’ve been grateful for that I almost didn’t know where to start. A wonderful run under the stars in warm weather. Great coaching and conversation this morning that helped me clarify some ideas that I’d had brewing for a while. A well timed chapter of a book that’s left me smiling for days. The right song at the right time. Getting a walk in over lunch. Having a successful den meeting. So many moments that brought much joy today!
What really stuck out to me is something that is more personal in nature and I’m going to keep it a little close to the vest. Let’s just say that there was a dream I’d had for a very long time that finally came true quite a while back. It was a wonderful dream that I was so happy to check off the list. This dream is one that we’ve re-lived several times and every single time I feel more joy than the time before.
After a while there was a spark from advice that I’d witnessed first hand from one of my mentors. There was a certain something that they did for a long time that was similar, but after a while they found a way to create even more joy for many others by changing their dream ever so slightly. It was still the same, but so much more different and grand on so many levels. They found that by thinking more fully about the “why” behind the dream they’d realized they had just scratched the surface of their dream. Many years after that spark the resulting growth of the dream is nothing short of staggering.
While living my dream a while back there was a light that went on in the back of my head… a connection that I hadn’t thought about. A way to turn something pretty cool into something much bigger. It’s a long way from reality, the dream has so much further to grow, but I’m thankful for how much it has already grown. As Becky put it, “It’s a dream that’s taken root.” This dream has started to bloom and I can’t wait to see where it goes.
Today I’m thankful for that dream growing bigger, and I’m also thankful for the advice I received from one of my mentors. Seeing them live their dream in a certain way helped me to open my eyes to find a way to make my dreams even bigger… yet again.
One of the boys’ favorite shows to watch on TV is Chopped. It involves cooks getting a “mystery basket” of seemingly random ingredients that they need to craft into a full appetizer. After that one of the chefs is “chopped” and eliminated from the competition. They then repeat the same process with the entree and then dessert. Almost every episode they try to figure out what they would make and have fun seeing what the chefs come up with.
Last weekend they were watching an episode and it all involved leftovers for the ingredients. The boys got pretty pumped and I had an idea… What if i bought a “mystery basket” and they had to make a meal out of it? With Becky out of town for the afternoon it seemed like a perfect lunch for us to try it.
Dominic and I picked up the following ingredients for the “mystery basket” while Gavin was in Sunday School:
Once we got home they went through the mystery basket and started their planning.
The plan in place they worked together as a team to make a full meal for the three of us (and a plate of leftovers for Becky when she gets home). They were smiling and trying new things as they worked very well together to figure everything out. Outside of a couple of little ideas and help it was all done by them.
Their final creation was pretty awesome! They made corned beef rolls with yellow peppers inside fried in coconut oil, tortellini on the side, and a wasabi pistachio pesto with crushed yet crunchy Chex Mix on top for the pasta sauce and dipping sauce for the rolls. It was awesomely delicious!!!
We ate our lunch while watching an episode of Chopped, it just seemed like the right thing to do. After lunch the boys even did dishes without complaining!
It was so much fun watching the boys create their meal together today. They worked together, helped each other with ideas, and both contributed to the finished product equally. While they were very focused they also smiled a lot as they put it all together. I know, TV isn’t something to spend a lot of time doing, but it was pretty sweet to see how they took what they’d learned and brought it to life, all while having fun together. I’m very thankful for the idea and for the experience we shared today.
Gavin had a friend sleep over last night so I asked Dominic if he wanted to join me in the workshop for a while. I’m glad that he did!
While I was working on a bandsaw box that I hadn’t picked up on over 9 months Dominic started working on his sword. It was pretty awesome, as I set the safety on the bandsaw he told me exactly how to set it. Turns out he was paying very close attention in shop class. He went right to town and even showed me a couple of things! I’ve been pretty much self taught on using a bandsaw so it was great to learn a little new stuff from Dominic. After he’d finished cutting it out i showed him how to use a handheld router and he picked it up quick.
In a very cool way I was spending time with him and my dad at the same time, and I was thankful for every minute of it.
This evening we’re out with some friends having a lot of fun. We started the event with getting locked up in an escape room. I’m happy to say that team Technical Difficulties set the record for the fastest escape time in the room we were in. More importantly, we had a blast hanging out and figuring it out together. Now that we’ve been crowned champions we’re celebrating with nachos and drinks downtown in what will be another night of awesomeness. Speaking of which, I’ve got to get back to hanging out with my friends so I’d better wrap this up…
Another great day, another day with so much to be thankful for.
Tonight I’m having a lot of fun playing a giant pile of tabletop games while eating pizza and drinking a beer or two. We’re only a couple of hours in and already having a blast!!!
Earlier in the night Dominic took on a very special mission to help Becky and I out… I can’t say anymore as it is a top secret operation to bring happiness to Gavin and his friend. He took it on with a huge smile, enthusiasm and zeal, and I’m very thankful for that!
The poor souls who were unfortunate to be in Festival this evening while the boys and I were there heard this very heated debate:
D: “Cello is better!”
G: “No, Violin is better!”
D: “No, Cello is better!”
G: “VIOLIN IS BETTER!!!”
While I was finishing up supper I heard the following coming from the living room:
D: “I’m cheering for Kentucky.”
D: “I picked them in my bracket.”
G: “I’m cheering for Davidson.”
G: “So they beat Kentucky.”
And on and on it’s gone, pretty much all night. Brothers doing what they do best, driving each other bonkers, going out of their way to annoy the other.
The one thing they both agreed on was one thing I totally disagreed with. Knowing that my brother wouldn’t let me down in this argument I called him up on speakerphone. Nick didn’t disappoint, he stood with me on this one. It was another case of brothers doing what they do best, sticking together for each other when someone who’s not their brother disagrees with them.
As I wrapped a couple of things up and came into the living room I saw this:
There they were, doing another thing that brothers do best. Even though they try to bug, harass, and annoy each other they somehow ended up right near each other on the couch watching the basketball game and getting along like the best friends they are when no one’s watching.