Day 1,564 – Thankful for Perseverance, Connectedness, Disconnectedness leading to Connectedness, Excellent Customer Service, Wonderful Teammates, Great Mentors, and Family Chill Time

Hmm… last night’s blog seemed to work out fairly well so I’m going to roll with it and type as I think. Most often I have a general idea of the direction of my blog, tonight, not so much yet. I’ve got a handful of interlocking ideas that haven’t quite connected yet. Maybe as I blog they’ll come together into one cohesive whole… or this will be a bit of a rambler 😉 Either way, I am thankful for taking the time to pause and think in stillness.

Between the cold temperatures, the high humidity, and the stiff wind in my face I almost turned back within the first few moments of our morning run today. Instead I took a deep breath, shivered for a second, and then kept going. By the time we were on our way back home I ended up losing my jacket and t-shirt with well over a mile to go. I’d heated up by then and already was sweating. I’m thankful for sticking with it and pushing past the discomfort.

A friend texted me late last night after I was already in bed (I think it was at 8:30pm or so). He provided some pretty awesome insight into a concept I’ve been spending much time contemplating. It was spontaneous, out of the blue, and reminded me of the importance of maintaining a certain level of connectedness with the world. Interestingly, he texted me as I’ve dropped off of social media. By disconnecting I was still connected and able to have a conversation about connectedness. Kind of funny 😉

Gavin finally saw one of his dreams realized today… he got a cellphone. Becky upgraded her phone so we figured it was about time to get him rolling with one for contacting his friends. In almost no time he was online texting friends and using it to set up his Discord conversations with friends. There are drawbacks and things that make me nervous about it, but I’m grateful for the connection with his friends that he’s already enjoying less than 12 hours in.

In getting his phone set up I had a wonderful conversation with the customer service rep in the Philippines. His oldest son is Gavin’s age and before we got off the call we’d gotten to know each other well. His upbeat nature was great and he was very helpful. One of those conversations that remind me of how many wonderful people there are in the world.

Work was pretty awesome today. The biggest reason I was thankful for it are all of my teammates. We had some crazy conversations while also accomplishing a lot. I am so blessed to be surrounded by the awesome personalities on my teams!

I’m very thankful for the coaching and mentoring I received early in my Express career 20+ years ago. When I pause to think about how I’ve gotten to where I am I can’t help but pause and be thankful for the many gracious and encouraging leaders, coaches and mentors who were there for me. I’m so blessed to have had as much time with each of them as I did.

Family game nights happen quite often in our house. Once in a while I think back to all the craziness that would normally be going on during a usual Friday night. I wouldn’t change that for the world. Spending time chilling with my family, playing games and relaxing, and heading to bed well before 10pm sound amazing and exactly what I would like.

So what specifically am I thankful for today? Perseverance, connectedness, disconnectedness leading to connectedness, excellent customer service, wonderful teammates, great mentors, and family chill time… Doesn’t quite roll of the tongue but that doesn’t stop me from being thankful for it.

Thanks!!!

No reason for this pic other than it caught my eye today!

Day 1,563 – Thankful for Intentional Daily Rituals

I’m not quite sure how this one if going to turn out, so here goes nothing!

One of the reasons I blog about something I am thankful for is that it is a tripwire to remind me to pause all the busy-ness of the day and think. There are no other looming projects, there isn’t a TV show on, there isn’t a game being played. There is only me pausing to think and reflect. To add perspective to all that has happened throughout the day. By making this behavior change of blogging daily I’ve been able to re-wire my brain to get back to doing something it should have been doing anyways. In these moments of stillness I’ve found deeper joy and satisfaction in my life.

My recently added ritual of reading my goals before I get out of bed and before I go to sleep has only been going on for almost a week. The impact it is having on me has already been shown in action on countless occasions. I’ve responded to situations differently. My reactions have been more of what I want them to be rather than what they had been when they were seemingly on auto pilot. The simple act of reminding myself of who my best self is and how he responds has caused me to live more into that person than the person I was.

That said, it’s also been very frustrating as there has been a huge increase in moments of cognitive dissonance as my will power and discipline haven’t always lived into the ideals of my best self – not by a long shot. In those moments I know what the right answer was or what action should have taken place, but I opted to act otherwise as I wasn’t able to stay disciplined. It’s interesting, much of it is behavior I’ve been doing for a very long time, but by priming my brain in the morning with the framework of who I would like to live into I can see all the imperfections so much more clearly than I did before. This brings the faults to light which stings, but also is beautiful as I’m seeing more clearly all that needs to change.

My life has been full of rituals based on ruts. I can’t help but think of the Thoreau quote:

It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves.

Thoreau, Walden

By making minor changes to the daily rituals I’ve been able to increase my joy and happiness exponentially. In this past week I’ve already seen the gap between who I am and who I am called to be start to close a bit (even if there’s still many miles to go!). By changing my route ever so slightly I’ve become much more aware of all of the other rituals that I wish to break out of.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,562 – Thankful for Acclimation and My News Free Zone aka My Workshop

At this time last year I would have been running in many layers of clothes. A cold morning like this and I would have had on a light pair of long underwear, a pair of wind pants, a light jacket, and probably a sweatshirt. If it was cooler than 40 degrees (f) I would definitely not wear shorts.

Fast forward to today. This morning by the end of the run I was wearing only a pair of shorts, a hat, my gloves, and socks and shoes. That was it! Everything else was peeled off by then. The funny thing was that not only was I not cold, but it felt wonderful.

Over the past month and change I’ve been working my way up to this. Bit by bit getting my body used to being in the cold like humans used to be way back in the day. For sure, I’m happy to be warm and in my house right now, but for a brief period of time the cool fresh air felt amazing! I’m grateful for becoming more acclimated to the colder temperatures.

My focus has drifted to the events in DC more than I care to admit today. Earlier this morning I texted my little brother and shared how I was thankful I wasn’t in DC today and followed it up with the iconic Star Wars line, “I’ve got a really bad feeling about this.” I never would have guessed it would turn out as it did.

Mentally, I’ve been struggling with balancing my curiosity over what has happened and is happening with some of the new behaviors I am trying to live into. Staying focused on what is truly important in the moment, living deliberately, and going into the woods all fly in the face of wanting to know what’s going on. The logical part of my brain tells me to shut it all off and if I really want to know what happened read about it briefly in my Wall Street Journal daily update email tomorrow morning.

What’s interesting is that I accidentally stumbled into a wormhole and ended up in a “news free” zone this evening. There are a couple of projects I’m working on in my workshop so I went upstairs and got rolling on them this evening. I turned on my music, set my phone aside, and got to it. An hour and change later I’d made progress on my project AND had completely stopped focusing on the news! Not only was I not getting any more updates or checking it online, but I wasn’t even thinking about it. When I finished up and came inside I was back to thinking about it and talking about it with Becky. That’s when it hit me that I’d found a news free zone.

Not the current project, but a pretty cool one I can share now 😉

While my workshop was my “news free” zone today, I’m thankful for the lesson it reminded me of. I chose to not focus on the news as I was 100% focused on something I love and was 100% in the present moment while doing it. I can create a “news free” zone anywhere and at anytime, it’s up to me to focus my thoughts and stay disciplined. There are times for me to set my curiosity free and there are other times when I need to bottle it up for a little while.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,561 – Thankful for Gaining Momentum and Rise by Eddie Vedder

One of my favorite books shared the idea of creating lasting change feeling similar to pushing hard to get a flywheel moving. It takes a lot of effort to get the mass moving, but each step gets increasingly easier. After a little while the inertia of the flywheel is so powerful that instead of needing to push hard to make it move there has to be significant pressure pushing AGAINST it to get it to slow down. The initial push is the most difficult and the point when it is easiest to stop. Once momentum is on our side the action becomes so much easier.

This picture just seemed to fit today – the confidence, the journey, the wild, the endless possibilities.

Today it felt like I had momentum on my side. Don’t get me wrong, it took much work to keep as focused as I did, but I could already feel parts of life flow much more easily than yesterday. I kept the same pattern as yesterday, followed the framework, and accomplished more than expected. I feel I’m at the start of a long journey, but I’ve got the wind at my back and it’s helping to push me along. I’m grateful for the feeling of momentum – it helps me both see the progress being made while reminding me to appreciate these moments at the initial push and to savor the additional work they are taking.

After a quick search of old blogs I realized that I haven’t blogged about the song Rise by Eddie Vedder before. Crazy! It’s one of my favorite songs for so many reasons. You can check it out here – it’s a beautiful ear worm. Once momentum is on our side the action becomes so much easier.Once momentum is on our side the action becomes so much easier. https://youtu.be/kjDxxKMDf0Y

There are a handful of reasons why I’m grateful for this song, but this morning it just seemed to hit the right chord for me. As I focus on living more intentionally and striving to live my life the way I would truly like this song hits the nail right on the head. It’s a song about moving forward, finding the path, picking myself back up, and continuing to find my way. When I caught myself singing along to it in the shower I couldn’t help but smile.

Such is the way of the world
You can never know
Just where to put all your faith
And how will it grow

Gonna rise up
Burning black holes in dark memories
Gonna rise up
Turning mistakes into gold

Such is the passage of time
Too fast to fold
Suddenly swallowed by signs
Low and behold

Gonna rise up
Find my direction magnetically
Gonna rise up
Throw down my ace in the hole

Eddie Vedder, Rise

Thanks!!!

Day 1,560 – Thankful for Getting Back Into a New Rhythm

How’s that for a funky title? Kind of like Back to the Future, but in its own unique way.

Each Monday I have a short call with one of my mentors and business partners, Norm. The purpose of the conversation is to quickly achieve clarity on what my most important three objectives for the week are. Each week I do some prep, shoot him a draft, and then we talk through my plan for the week. He listens to my strategy and then does a great job of asking questions and throwing out ideas from his perspective. The insights I’ve received through these calls has been outstanding and greatly appreciated. Essentially it is a tripwire to remind me to be intentional and to act upon my week instead of having the whirlwind act upon me.

On our call today I couldn’t hide just how giddy I was for this week to start. I love taking time off, but there’s a beauty in the rhythms of “normal” life that can only happen during “normal” weeks and I was very excited to get back into the usual routine. After a small handful of weeks of different routines I was pretty amped to get back at it.

What added to the joy of the day was that it was the first work day for me after putting together the framework I am choosing to live 2021 by. Before doing anything else I paused, reviewed my theme, values, goals, start doings, stop doings, and remember to’s. Intentionally preparing my mind for the day was a new twist to the “normal” routine and I was very interested in seeing the impact that it would have.

Not only did today get me back into the normal rhythm, but my day was very much enhanced by the practice of reviewing the framework. There were more than a couple of times in which I paused, thought about my plan, and then took different action as a result. So far, so good! It’s a long way from being perfect and from being an actual habit, but the first day has me even more optimistic.

What’s better than getting back into rhythm? Getting back into a better rhythm than ever before. 😉

Thanks!!!

Day 1,559 – Thankful for Vistas of Frosty Tree Covered Bluffs Surrounding the Mississippi River

Hmm… I’m starting to notice a theme happening here 😉 Another day, another post about something in nature I took time to appreciate today.

Our drive back home today wound the majority of the way though the Driftless. This fact in of itself makes it one of the prettiest drives we do with some level of regularity. Today there was an added bonus – the hoar frost covered everything outside. The further south we drove the more dazzling the whites of the frost were.

The frozen air already made everything seem a little more crisp than usual. Add in a layer of white frost and the vistas were brilliant! Everything seemed to take on an almost black and white visual feel while simultaneously causing some colors to just pop – like the red brick building outside of Stockholm. As we passed by Perrot State Park I whipped a U turn and pulled into a scenic pull out just to take a picture of the view… which still didn’t do justice to what were we seeing.

Another day into 2021, another day of the beauty of nature. Into the woods…

Thanks!!!

Day 1,558 – Thankful for Pausing to Enjoy an Awesome Sunset

In keeping with the outdoors related theme from yesterday I have to pause and be grateful for an experience from our time outside late this afternoon. Sometimes the most awesome moments are the ones that happen every single day but I don’t always take time to pause and appreciate.

The sun was already on the way down when we started sledding. Each moment that went by it descended a little lower and turned a little more orange. At one point it seemed the same coppery color as the sun in Australia during the wildfires.

When it was just above the horizon I just stopped and hit the pause button on life. Watching it drop so slowly was flat out amazing. It seemed to grow bigger and shift to a deeper shade of orangish red each second as it kept slowly descending.

In pausing to watch the sun slowly set there was nothing else in that moment. I was able to be completely present and focused on the simple beauty of nature. What a wonderful moment of simple serenity!

Not from today, I was too busy savoring the real one today 😁

Thanks!!!

Day 1,557 – Thankful for a Thoreau Inspired 2021 Theme

Over the past few weeks I’ve been very focused on reviewing my values, considering the dreams I want to accomplish, and the ways I can best set myself up for future successes. I’ve been able to build a framework that is easy for me to review on a daily basis and has already helped curb my behavior and thought processes.

The only part I’ve been struggling with is a theme to tie it all together. Like a good movie I was interested in finding a creative tag line for the framework. Something short and to the point, a way to quickly remind me of the way in which I am choosing to live life this year. A succinct reminder to point me in the right direction.

I’ve read and read a few paragraphs of Walden more times than I can count over the past 24 hours as there’s been a strong gravitational force from my souls pulling me in that direction. This morning Becky and I went for a run on the quiet country road we usually run on. While enjoying the sensation of being outside in nature it all came together.

I could see the words of Thoreau appear before my eyes…

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

In an instant I saw all of the values, dreams, goals, and the rest of the framework I’ve been building flow into three words. Within only four syllables lay the mantra that will be rolling through my mind on an almost constant loop this year.

Into the woods…

With those three short words my mind instantly calms and sees the path I am choosing to take this year. A year of simplicity, living deliberately, focused on the essential. While I would love to go into the woods in real life, the idea of metaphorically going into the woods already brings peace to my soul. My direction is clear and all my thoughts can quickly be focused with this one phrase. This was exactly what I was looking for.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,556 – Thankful for a Spontaneous Reading from Thoreau as We Left the Woods

I’ve got to give it to my friend Steve. When we head out to the woods there’s never a shortage of surprises. From his seemingly never-ending pool of wilderness knowledge to deep thoughts to well timed jokes you never quite know what to expect. Today was no different.

We’d packed everything up and were about to leave the woods when he stopped us. He pulled out a book and said he wanted to share a quote with the boys and I. Steve told us the story of when it was first shared with him and when it came up a second time for him.

“I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one. It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves. I had not lived there a week before my feet wore a path from my door to the pond-side; and though it is five or six years since I trod it, it is still quite distinct. It is true, I fear, that others may have fallen into it, and so helped to keep it open. The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men; and so with the paths which the mind travels. How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity! I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. I do not wish to go below now.”

Henry David Thoreau – Walden

For many reasons – including the obvious first line – this was such a perfect way to wrap up our time in the woods. As I’ve mentioned to several friends and within this blog I’ve felt depending yearning to be in the wilderness. When the time comes to go back to reality I can completely understand and appreciate the quote above. I had never heard this quote before, or if I have I was not ready to really hear it and receive it.

Hearing Steve read it while my boys listened was wild. I am not sure that they truly get it yet, but I hope it is a seed that will lay in their souls until it’s the right time for it to truly sprout.

When I got home I hopped online to re-read the quote. Not only did it resonate even more deeply, I happened upon the next paragraph in the book after this one.

I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

Henry David Thoreau – Walden

This paragraph also hit me right between the eyes. Over the past week as I’ve spent time in thought and reflected on my goals and dreams for next year and how I wish to live into them I can’t help but find more inspiration in Thoreau’s paragraph. How true it is that by even living in the directions of our dreams we can start to find success? Time to build the foundations.

Escaping to the wilderness has always been music for my soul. Sitting alone by the campfire before anyone else awoke this morning gifted me the opportunity to enjoy a serenity that can only be found alone and in the wild. There was only nature and I and we enjoyed each other’s company. Hearing Steve’s spontaneous reading from Thoreau added more depth and context to that experience.

Steve – thanks for the awesome quote, it is greatly appreciated!!!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,555 – Thankful for Nights with a View Like This

Tonight’s blog is being written from inside of my wildly comfortable and surprisingly warm CRUSA Koala 2 hammock. As we wind down for the night I thought it’s be a great time to chill and type my blog.

While often I’m overly verbose, tonight’s a little different. I’m thankful for this view of the fire as we chilled out and shot the bull around it. I’m thankful for this opportunity to sleep out in the wild and breath only the freshest of air with only a thin layer of Mylar separating my face from the heavens. I’m thankful for the opportunity to create life long memories with my boys while sharing old memories and stories with my buddy Steve.

I am thankful for enjoying the view and enjoying this moment to its fullest.

Thanks!!!