“Just you wait Mikey… you think time goes by fast now, just wait until you get older.”
Dad certainly hit the nail on the head! For so many years I was looking ahead to “when the boys are out of the house…”
Throughout the years many have told us, “you’re going to miss it.” I would laugh it off and think they must have been drinking early that day or we’re offering some crazy joke.
Turns out the joke was on me. It is wild to see how quickly the boys have grown and how little time is left in their lives at home with us. Today I had a great parent teacher conference with Dominic’s accounting teacher prior to his National Honor Society induction. Earlier in the day we had a planning session with Gavin’s guidance counselor to start helping him plan for high school next year. Both events quickly reminded me of the upcoming transitions for both of them.
What I’m thankful for today is pausing to remember this, recognize this, and appreciate the time I have with them now. I took extra time talking with Gavin and hanging out before supper. After getting home I spent extra time sitting on the couch with Dominic doing nothing but talking. Today has been that great reminder to stay present and not wish today away for a tomorrow that is not guaranteed. It is easy to get ahead of myself or to get tired running from event to event… but that is where life is at right now and I will appreciate each moment while I’m blessed enough to have it.
Time flies by quickly. Rather than rushing across the river and fighting the current I’m going to lift up my feet, float with the stream, and enjoy the view.
A while back I made mention of an app that has been much more enjoy than I expected it would be. WeCroak has proven to quickly become one of my all time favorites. Several times each day a new quote appears on my screen. As often as possible I pause for a few seconds, read it, and reflect on the line.
Two of the most recent lines have really resonated with me. Since they’ve popped up my mind slowly wanders back to them and traces its fingers slowly across the text.
The thing about working with time, instead of against it, he thought, is that it is not wasted. Even pain counts.
Ursula K. Le Guin
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.
Charles A. Beard
Our lives, my life, is filled with challenges, setbacks, obstacles, and hurt. I am thankful for each of them. That is when I grow. That is when I know I am truly alive. That is when I find beauty in gratitude. Each of those moments help me truly appreciate joy.
Last night I awoke from a dream and found myself in one of the most profound states of peace I’ve ever felt. The details escape me, but the core concept remains vividly clear.
There were two choices I faced, there were different complications, challenges, and potential outcomes. As I metered out the options my heart was completely quiet and calm. I saw neither option as good nor bad, they both existed purely as options, I had not assigned my emotions to either of them. My soul understood that my decision – regardless of of my choice – would still have the same final destination given as much time as either would need… at some point I would die, regardless of the choice. To be clear, this wasn’t a life or death decision, rather, given a long enough timeline eventually either path would conclude upon my passing. This may sound dark, but it was actually rather soothing in an odd way. There was no need to rush to conclusion as either pathway would get me to the same place.
Ultimately I realized that the proper way to make the decision wasn’t to rely on emotion, fear, nervousness, passion, or greed, rather, it was to live into my true self. By acting as the best possible version of myself, by choosing to live into the decision by my values, by becoming the true nature of who I was created to be, that was the right way to choose my path. Upon that realization my soul was full and satisfied.
Then I awoke. I awoke in a bottomless ocean of peace. My soul was full in ways I can’t find words to describe it truly. Even as I think back to it I find that memory is already starting to pull at the loose threads on the edge of the dream. That said, I can still sense that state of perfect calm and serenity.
My best hypothesis was that in my dream I skirted the edges of enlightenment in ways I’ve never experienced in life. Only in the vacuum of dream was I able to catch a tiny glimpse… but just enough that I will remain hungry the remainder of my days.
There were quite a few projects I wanted to take care of today. Some were fairly simple like cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen. Others were a bit more thought intensive – adding a door for the snowblower/mower shed that won’t get stuck due to snow. Throw in a handful of other odds and ends like putting in a closet shelf and designing a snowboard wall hanger and it’s been a pretty busy day. Sitting down to type this has been the first time I’ve sat down other than for meals and driving to and from Menards.
Being this productive on a Sunday has been fantastic. The sense of accomplishment is wonderful. What really set it apart form other times was the lack of one thing… no headphones.
Usually when I’m doing things like I did today I’m listening to a podcast, an audiobook, or music. There’s almost always something playing in the background to keep my mind busy. I like utilizing project time as an opportunity to catch up on reading or to listen to some good tunes.
Today was different. For some reason I set my phone down out of reach and didn’t turn anything on. I left my headphones off and didn’t really have the urge to put them on. I went through my day – largely flying solo – without anything else playing in my brain. It was beautiful!
I was sure I’d have some deep thoughts and maybe have some profound insight or something. Instead I experienced something else. Peace. Serenity. Focus only on the task at hand. I was one hundred percent right in the moment mentally and it helped each project flow so well. There were no mis-cuts. I only had to measure everything once. My plans worked out better than expected. It was wild! There was a different level of calm in my brain as I focused intentionally on each specific thing in the moment.
While I’m most likely not going to do this often in the future it was an enlightening experience. I am not good at pausing or doing only one thing. My brain loves to wander and attempt to take multiple trails at once. Staying on track was an interesting change of pace and felt really good.
Gavin had an epic first this afternoon – his first deer! This morning he saw a few deer and decided to wait until there was a better shot. He was rewarded for his patience with this dandy little six pointer. The shot was about as clean as it gets.
This is one he’ll remember for the rest of his life. Doing it with his Grandpa Ken makes it all the more perfect. Check out the size of both of their smiles below – that makes me a happy dad!
The radio in the office must’ve known it was the 23rd anniversary of the first date Becky and I went on together. There were at least a couple of songs from that fall many years ago. Those songs led to me mentioning something to two of my youngest employees about how the songs came out in 1999. They each then shared that they were both born in 1999. One of them is a month younger than Becky and my relationship! How crazy is that???
Becky and I were talking about our first date earlier this morning. I am amazed at how well the memory of that date has stuck in my head. What an incredible first date it was! By the time I left La Crosse there was no question this was it. I even started a countdown to the day I would move away from Minneapolis to La Crosse.
And here we are 23 years later, constantly chasing the boys from event to event, traveling whenever possible, and still enjoying time together. The years may have flown by but it doesn’t feel like it’s been over two decades already.
Time has flown by and I’m reminding myself to enjoy every crazy moment of it.
The path to tonight’s blog is a twisty path with many divergent game trails. I’m sure they all will ultimately run in approximately the same direction, but the destinations are all slightly different. Which path to choose? Which one feels more right than the others?
In many ways the opportunity to hike the above trail system tonight is the end in of itself. My day has been marked by many events, interactions, lessons, experiences, conversations, and memories for which I am grateful. To be sure, they weren’t all positive on the surface. They were a mix ranging from frustrating to dream creating to anger inciting to pulse raising to joyful and inspiring. A broad spectrum – all with one commonality. If I chose to view them properly they all lead to growth. Each experience was an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to close the gap.
As I lay in bed reflecting on the day I can’t help but realize that is what I’m most thankful for. Each gratitude has been but a piece in the bigger picture of what has moved me the most today. Put those pieces together and I’m firmly ensconced in a sacred forest of gratitude. My soul is full today as a result of both the opportunities to be thankful as well as actively choosing gratitude as my default mindset and proactively seeking it out throughout my day. My search created the forest surrounding me.
What a beautiful choice there is to make each day. Will I actively choose a mindset of gratitude? When I say yes my blessings grow tremendously and I live more into my best true self.
While waiting for Gavin and a couple of his classmates at their Wednesday night church class I finished reading the most recent version of my manuscript from my editor. Two things really struck me. First off, Phyllis has managed to take a dumpster fire like of pages and turned it into a great story! She is a miracle worker and a half!
The second insight I drew was just how much the process of writing has impacted my personal growth in a positive way. The process itself has been a wonderful exercise in thinking and processing the events of the day. Behind that there’s another very special bonus. Each bit of writing becomes a sort of memory time capsule.
When I go back and read what I wrote so many memories come back. Each could have been so easily forgotten had they not been downloaded from my brain shortly after they happened. With the benefit of more life experience I’m able to dissect the memory further and glean even more information from it. I learn from it in the moment, I learn from it when writing, and I learn from it when I read what I wrote. Four times the lessons from each experience!
Tonight a handful of specific memories really helped me out some difficult decisions into context and were the source of inspiration on how to solve them.
Yet another reason to be thankful for the practice of writing each day!
“How do you decompress each night with everything on your plate?”
Over the past twelve hours or so I’ve been asked this question, or on like it, at least a few times. The answer is shockingly simple – remembering I have a choice.
I cannot control all of the circumstances and events impacting my life. The amount I can truly control is so infinitesimal that it could almost be depressing without the right mindset. That said, regardless of anything life can throw at me, there is one thing that is 100% under my control… my choice of how I will respond.
At one point this morning I was particularly frustrated for a variety of reasons. After about fifteen minutes of stewing I paused and said something out loud in my car to myself.
“I could very easily die today. This could be my last day on Earth. Is this the attitude I would want to have for my last day?”
Hmm…. Hell no! I would want my last day to be one in which I lived my values into my purpose with a heart full of joy.
And with that choice I change my mindset and it made all the difference in the world all day long. Each crazy new situation was an opportunity to learn, to live my values, to live towards my purpose, to help others. Yes, it was still ridiculous, stressful, and chaotic – but the attitude I chose helped me thrive throughout it. Today and all it threw at me made me stronger. I am incredibly thankful for that!
Sometimes life provides a curveball or two. Today life threw a few knuckleballs. At least you know the general idea of where a curveball is going. Not even the pitcher himself knows where on God’s green Earth the ball is going when he throws a knuckler. The pitches today were straight out of some crazy chaos dimension.
Thankfully Becky already had half the cure on tap as is last night. After supper we hit Root Down for one of the most soul relaxing yoga sessions I’ve had in a very long time. The focus on breathing, stretching, and sweating helped me see the stitches on the knuckleballs.
When I got home Dominic gave me the birthday present he and Gavin made me, a rock holder made out of rocks! They made it the perfect size to hold one of Dad’s favorite rocks – very awesome and greatly appreciated!
After that Dominic and I fired up a game of Yahtzee. He proceeded to get THREE Yahtzee’s in the game and more than doubled my score. We had a blast! To wrap up some quality time we fired up Rick and Morty and had some great laughs together.
Life is never perfectly scripted, but it works out exactly the way it is supposed to. It is up to us to keep level heads and focus on hitting any knuckleballs thrown our way. I crushed mine tonight thanks to yoga, Yahtzee, and time with my family.