Throughout the day and over the past week I’ve had more than a few things come to mind that I am incredibly grateful for, but they are the kinds of things that are better left unshared. Nothing mean or negative or controversial or anything along those lines. They are pretty amazing things, things that fill my heart with great joy, and that bring a deeper sense of purpose to my life.
I share my gratitude very openly and publicly, but this is one of the few times in the past 1,165 days that there wasn’t a way for me to tap dance around what I’m thankful for. As such you’ll just have to trust me that I’m taking the time to appreciate what they mean to me. As the kids nowadays say, “#sorrynotsorry.”
It’s funny how as I think about some of the activities I enjoy most there are some common themes. Often they are things that I’m not particularly good at off the bat. They usually involve a certain level of stubbornness and persistence to be successful at. The activity also has some way of seeing improvement with practice, not crazy quick improvement, but slow and somewhat steady progress towards a goal that will continue to move further out of range with every step I take.
One of the other things I’ve noticed is that many of the activities I enjoy most require 100% of my attention and focus. For me to be more successful and get the most out of them I have to be 100% present and have nothing else going on in my brain. That is quite the task for me as I usually have a handful of things going through my head at any given moment.
What got me really thinking about this tonight was how focused I was while logrolling (with the slight exception of when I went off on a tirade about Aaron Rodgers and how badly I missed Brett Favre… during which I had pretty much my best roll of the night!). All the rest of the time I shut my brain down and only focused on a couple of thoughts before I started… Are my knees bent? Am I reaching back with my left hand? Are my feet in the right spot? From there my focus goes to the far end of the log and I’m off. Each second only thinking about the position of my body and it’s relation to the log and its rotation. No thoughts about work, responsibility, life, philosophy, no songs running through my head, no random ideas… just me and the log. It’s incredibly relaxing!
I find that activities like logrolling and yoga help quiet my mind and leave me feeling so much more calm and focused afterwards. The sensation of focus continues from those activities into the next and it feels amazing!
If anyone has other ideas of crazy things I might like that require focus like this please let me know, I’d be very interested!
Yeah, this title is probably going to leave some folks scratching their heads. Let’s start this out in the manner I’ve become accustomed to on a blog post like this. Nope, this isn’t a cry for help, a sign of depression, or a reason to be nervous for my well being. It’s actually quite the opposite.
Mike and I were talking about many things after our sales coaching call today, and somehow we got on the topic of parents. He had a very insightful thought that really sparked several others. The net of the thought was how important it is to appreciate every moment of our life. We only have a finite time on Earth, instead of spending time wishing for what we could have we should be continually thankful for what we do have and what we have had. It reminded me greatly of a quote from Brandon Lee in the last interview he did before his accidental death while filming The Crow:
”Because we do not know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well, and yet everything happens only a certain number of times . How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood that is so deeply a part of your being you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more? Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps, twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”
How true is that thought? When I think of life and time it’s easy to be under the illusion that they are both infinite. Inexhaustible resources that I will own forever, as will all those I love and care about and all those that they love and care for… until there is the presence of death to remind me that each of those resources truly have limits. Death reminds me to appreciate life and time.
Death also reminds me that there is no scheduled timeline of life. I could be gone tomorrow regardless of my desire to persist forever. While I can have the grandest of plans there is no promise that tomorrow will happen for me, let alone a day for all those plans that are years and years away. Death keeps me grounded in and appreciating the present.
When there’s a brush with death there’s usually pain. Heartache is usually death’s companion and visits both when someone dies and when there are memories of someone’s death. When I peel back the layer of pain I find love and joy. The reason for the pain is the appreciation of the love I have for that person. As I pause I remember that I feel the pain because of how much I love that person and how thankful I was to have had the opportunity to know them in life. The thought of death reminds me to appreciate each chance encounter with those I love as I never know how many more times I’ll see them again. Death reminds me of the love I have for others.
As I pause and think about all I can learn and remember from death I can’t help but appreciate it. I dislike it’s icy touch and the result it brings, but I appreciate the concept of death greatly. Death reminds me to appreciate my life and the time I have. Death keeps me grounded in and appreciating the present. Death reminds me of the love I have for others. Death reminds me to strive to be the best person I can be on a daily basis. Knowing that one day I will die reminds me to really live every single day.
Today’s been a busy day, but one that’s been full of time with family. After church, grocery shopping, and lunch we split up what needed to be done around the house amongst the four of us, hit it hard, and then had time to play games for a couple of hours as a family. Sure, we were busy pretty much the whole time until we played games, but most of it involved us being near at least parts of our family. All that time together felt great after a couple of weeks of feeling like we were getting pulled in several directions.
There were a couple of moments when I could feel myself shifting away from being a cotton headed ninny muggins towards full blown Christmas cheer. We watched a handful of Christmas movies over the week, Becky’s been listening to Christmas music, we got out Christmas tree and put up decorations, and we had the Christmas party last night. With all I’ve had on my plate over the past month or so and the upcoming couple of months it’s been tough to even think about Christmas coming soon, but now I can see it on the horizon and I’m getting pretty excited.
Today a visit from Santa pretty much capped it and pushed me right into full blown Christmas mode. I had so much fun seeing just how excited Gavin was to still go see Santa. It’s most likely the last year that there’s some magic like this for him, it was wonderful to soak it in and appreciate it. He jumped right on Santa’s lap and had a great time. His smile shows the whole story 🙂
Becky got an early Christmas present and got to drive the fire engine too 😉
Tonight was our annual Christmas party in Rochester. We totally nailed the right date and picked the first nasty winter storm of the year 😂!
The event itself was awesome as always, a wonderful time with my Express family to celebrate Christmas and another successful year. The only thing that would have made the event itself any better would be for it to be extended by a few hours to spend more time in conversation.
That said, I’m thankful for making it to and from the event without any issues. We took it nice and slow and everything went fine in both directions. Now that we’re home I can relax my white knuckles, take a deep breath, and unwind as I head off to bed.
As we ate supper tonight I asked Dominic how his day was. He said, “pretty good,” and then put his head down. “Well, it wasn’t all good… Part of it was pretty bad…” As he is saying this his shoulders are sagging further and further and his head is lowering.
We asked him what happened, and he said that he had a bad fall on the snow and hurt his leg. Being the concerned parents we are we asked him if he was okay. He stood up and said, “it hurts pretty bad and I have a pretty big bruise here” as he moves his hand down his leg. I follow his hand and when it stops I see this:
My eyes immediately shoot up to see a huge smile on his face. The little bastard then walks over and punches me in the arm two times and we both laugh.
We’ve got a standing “Circle Game” on in our house, and if you get someone to look at your finger and thumb while it’s in that position somewhere below the waist you get to punch the other person in the arm twice. Everyday he’s become more and more sneaky about how he’s gotten me.
The feeling of being busted by him, seeing the huge smile on this face, and sharing a big laugh afterwards all still have me chucking! I love his sense of humor!
My brain has been running constantly around ideas for my offices in 2019 over the past week and change. Our planning session over the past couple of days fanned the blaze even more and I’ve struggled to not have work related thoughts throughout most of the day. As I was wrapping up the work day on a call with Nicole I shared that we were going to yoga tonight. Even though I can usually count on yoga to calm my brain I shared that I was pretty sure that my work thoughts were going to keep pouring through.
And in a weird way that’s kind of what I was wanting… A simple, straightforward, standard yoga practice that didn’t require much thought and would totally let me drift in an out of what I’ve been thinking about all day. Kind of weird, I know, especially seeing as yoga is normally my time to be present and focus.
In actuality it was the complete opposite. It turned out to be an incredible workout with many different poses and transitions, several of which I’d never done before. With all the change I had no choice but to focus 100% and be present in the moment. I had to use all of my concentration on keeping my breathing on track while bending and twisting in new ways. It was amazing and it turned out to be exactly what I needed.
As we drove home I heard a very specific song playing in my head that shared everything I needed to learn from this experience…
No, you can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime you find
You get what you need…
How true Mick, how true…