I may not know the question, but hiking must be the right answer. If that isn’t quite right I might follow up with one of these as the correct solution: …time outside. …spending time with family in the outdoors. …enjoying the fresh air. …soaking in the silence. …simplicity. …take time to be grateful for the beauty of nature. …presence. Those are all the right answer.
Our hike in Hixon this morning was awesome. The weather was perfect, the sun came out, the scents of fall surrounded us, a deer watched us from a safe distance, the bright blues and reds of blue jays and cardinals caught our eye, and the Mississippi River Valley amazed us with its majesty as usual.
My mindset was so calm and still, there was no stress, no thought to the future, only the present moment and occasionally a little trip down memory lane as we remembered our trips to Isle Royale and the Porcupine Mountains earlier this summer. Time in the outdoors, especially when getting in some physical activity, is always the right answer, always what my soul is craving – particularly those times when the time is shared with loved ones.
For sure, my favorite part of the day was spending one on one time with Becky. The boys are both up north hunting and it’s been a sneak peek into empty nest life in a handful of years. It will definitely be different, but I know we’re going to enjoy each other’s company (& the travel!). Walking, church, takeout, games, relaxing…. Ahh.. More fun planned for tomorrow, looking forward to some hiking 😁👍
I’m replacing the outlet for our stove and had no idea just how many times I’d have to shift and adapt. Without a doubt I am extremely thankful for Menards only being about ten minutes away! Each of my three trips would have been frustrating rather than calming had the drive been an hour or more😉
Taking a cue from yesterday I remembered to pause, breathe, center and focus this morning. I went to the office very early in order to work more on my upcoming presentation on increasing job appeal. Getting into a flow state seemed much easier off of the heels of yesterday. I also had a secret weapon 😉
I started my early morning focus with a little rage… while I storyboarded out my presentation my head, neck, and shoulders were moving in unison with rage… Guerrilla Radio and Sleep Now In the Fire by Rage Against the Machine blasted out of my iPhone and got my brain pumping. Exactly what my mind needed to lose myself in the moment and capitalize on complete focus.
This afternoon I wrapped up work a little after 4:30, had a fun phone call, and then Becky and I were out the door by 4:45pm to hit our early dinner on date night. Drinks, dinner, dessert, and back home around 6:30. Yes, it was early. Yes, I’m already in bed as I type this. And yes, I’m not only cool with it, I’m thankful for it.
Late eating leads to lower quality sleep. Changing my weekly sleep pattern leads to lower quality sleep. Sleep charges my batteries and is the reservoir from which I draw from. Eating out early keeps my sleep solid, my mind still, and my soul joyful.
I’m also thankful for a wonderful partner who can appreciate early dinners and bed times. How awesome that we can both be quirky in our own crazily similar ways!
Pause. Breathe. Relax. Zoom out. Prioritize. Focus. One step. Another step. Breathe in. Action. Breathe out. Action. Repeat. Intentionally present. Enter flow.
What a powerful tool the mind is. Used intentionally the focus is unstoppable. Pause, focus, enter a state of flow. This can be done at literally anytime. Yet I do it far more rarely than I should.
When left reacting to emotion each wave becomes like another would be rescued hoping to save a drowning person by jumping in with them only to be drug down to the depths while adding another victim to the situation. Emotional response to emotional response only compounds and exacerbates the challenge.
Pause to focus, to breathe, and to grasp what can be controlled. Set emotion aside for its proper time and take logical and intentional action to solve the scenario first. Enter a state of flow through focused effort and complete the goal.
Today I was the calm in the center of the storm. I paused. I breathed. I focused. I took logical and intentional action. Emotions were set aside, my presence was targeted at the right task with no distraction. I was in a state of flow until the task was completed.
I realized that I have the opportunity to do this at anytime. I need only choose it. So easy to say and see, so difficult to do. Practice, practice, and more practice.
Today I saw a glimpse of the other side of the gap. The beauty on the other side so close at hand and so difficult to attain. The memory of today will steel my will to practice to work towards it more.
It is one thing to read, study, and visualize doing something. It is wholly another to actually do that same thing. While training is all well and good it is easy to think I know how I will respond. Today I had an opportunity to reality test how much my practice has helped.
When something unexpected happens I have a choice to make. All that practice paid off as the muscle memory went right into action and I responded in the way I wanted rather than reacting as I would have. In this scenario it made all the difference.
I was offered an opportunity to exercise my stoic practice today. In some ways I found success and in other ways I found opportunities for improvement. Pausing to think was great, not foreseeing and thinking through the possibility of the change was not so great. The opportunity to learn through real life exercise was priceless and will continue to help me grow and close the gap.
This evening I attended the 2021 Hatch event – an event similar to Shark Tank. Eight different entrepreneurs came up to the mic for five minutes to present their business idea. They then answered questions from the judges while the crowd voted for which presentation they liked best.
The event itself got my creative juices flowing. So many people working to make their passion a reality or to grow it beyond their humble beginnings. It was awesomely inspirational!
My notebook is filled with notes about presentations, follow up ideas, concepts to utilize within my business, and reminders of who I would like to reach back out to. Hearing their stories got me motivated to get moving on a few of my own ideas as well.
This was my first time attending an event like this, but it certainly won’t be my last!
Dominic is starting to work on his Eagle Scout project. The potential project includes creating a dog park in our neighborhood. The first step before he can even put his proposal together is to ask all the nearby home owners if they would be okay with that.
No worries, Dominic just put on his Scout uniform, grabbed his notepad, and started knocking on doors. How wild is that? Even better, he doesn’t know who more than half the people are! Dominic is basically going out and doing cold calls voluntarily in support of a good cause.
That simple action makes me so proud. It’s be so easy to take the easy way out and find a different project, use a over, or some other form of communication. Nope, he’s grabbing the bull by the horns and has received some tremendous feedback already.
One more reason I’m proud of Dominic, he understands that some of the best things in life lay well beyond the point of discomfort. Never give in to fear when courage is the right answer.
The boys and I just spent an excellent weekend up north with Becky’s parents. Spending time in the woods with their Grandpa Ken was awesome on so many levels. Time outside. Working with my hands. Time with my boys. Time with my father in law. Enjoying the intergenerational interactions between all of us. Lessons learned. Learning new skills. Talking about carpentry. “Shopping” for lumber in Ken’s shed full of wood. Hearing new stories. Sharing last memories. Laughing out loud often. Feeling Dad’s presence. Many new memories created.
At home I spent time focused on cleaning up my workshop. It’s going to take a while as I’ve really led it slide throughout the spring, summer, and fall. For a moment I was overwhelmed. Then I remembered to take just one action and I was off and moving. My mind was focused specifically at the task at hand and didn’t wander or stray. I somehow slipped into a zen like state of flow as I put tools away, vacuumed sawdust, and sorted through wood. Time flew by while I focused on each individual thing I was putting away. Afterwards I paused and reflected on the experience and realized just how calming, peaceful, and joyful it was for me to clean – specifically because I was present throughout. Serenity can be found in even the most mundane of tasks.
The process of conceiving this blog is another gratitude tonight. In my gut I knew I was grateful for many things, but it was more simplistic – time up north and hard work. There was more to my thankfulness and had I not blogged I would have left it at that. In pausing to gather my thoughts I was forcing myself to truly start to process the thankfulness on another plane. By really focusing on the specifics of why I was grateful I found new insights I would have missed otherwise. Taking time to journal daily provides me an opportunity to see my life more clearly.
Full disclosure, I’m exhausted, horizontal, and will be sleeping within five minutes of finishing this post. I’m tired in a fantastic way which is only felt after spending much time outside in the late fall.
Dominic and I assembled a tree stand while Gavin helped his grandpa fix a U joint on a four wheeler. We all went out and set up a few tree stands which included stacking some firewood, clearing some brush, and other activity along those lines. We moved and reset another stand and put up another. Gavin got some rifle practice in while Dominic helped his grandpa with a couple of other things. By the time it slaws all said and done the majority of the day was spent outside in the fresh air.
Now I’m feeling the impact of all that fresh air. This type of tired is a beautiful thing, it means I’ve done the day right!
Rather than boarding a flight to an ocean beach I was wandering the woods in the snow. Quite the contrast, right? I was exactly where I should be.
Becky and I spent most of our morning at Pike’s Peak outside of MacGregor, Iowa. Due to the cold weather and snowfall we were amongst the few in the entire park. Once we were more than 100 yards from the observation area we never saw another soul.
I drew in breaths of fresh autumn air through my nose and concentrated on soaking in each exquisite little detail of the sights and sensations around me. The bright red leaves and even more scarlet berries of one type of plant. The drops of water resting on the waxy underside of oak leaves. Each little “brick” in the elaborate lattice work of the limestone rock outcroppings. The sensation of the cool winter-ish breeze and snow rushing against my face and tickling the hairs of my beard. The lighting of the woods shifting and transforming as the sun danced amongst the clouds. The music of Becky’s voice as we shared our joys of the wilderness. Each step. Each breath. Each individual second. Pure magic, pure joy.
Our morning was spent in a walking meditation in the stillness of the woods. Exactly where I was called to be in those moments.
If this were my last day I would go peacefully, full of joy, fully satisfied, and with a heart full of love. Today I have lived.