Day 1,202 – Thankful for the Unceasing Patience of The Big Dude Upstairs and the Example to Follow

I am so thankful that The Big Dude Upstairs has unceasing patience. Over the past 43 years I’ve made mistakes, haven’t learned, strayed off the path, let my ego blind me, have made poor decisions, openly questioned, have been disrespectful, been selfish, and so on and so on. Throughout each of those mistakes God has been patient with me, has continued to love me, and continues to be present with me.

What a role model The Big Dude Upstairs is for me to follow. Throughout the course of the day I’ve lost my patience more than a few times for a variety of reasons. As I reflect on it I can say with certainty that each of the items that left me frustrated were significantly less important or severe than many of the mistakes I’ve made. God stayed patient with me through worse stuff while I got frustrated and angry at some pretty petty and trivial things.

Knowing that someone is so patient that they’ll never ever give up on me is a powerful thing. Not as a crutch to allow me to go crazy, but rather as living into the high expectations that someone has on me that I should live into. With that in mind The Big Dude inspires me to live more into who I am called to be by Him. Knowing that He’ll continue to cheer me on and dust me off when I make mistakes is an added bonus. Remembering and emulating that patience, forgiveness, and love will help lead me towards being who He wants me to be. That example to live into is something I’m incredibly grateful for.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,201 – Thankful for a Day Full of Assorted Gratitudes; Especially a Trick, a Story, and the Memories They Triggered

Today has included an awesome assortment of gratitudes. I have been thankful for many things today.

Early morning hot yoga to start the day. Watching Gavin’s basketball games. Reminders of the importance of growth mindset. Hearing about Gavin’s sense of humor. Joking with friends. Reminding myself that everyone sees the world a little differently and my way isn’t always the only way. Grocery shopping with Becky. Spending time alone on a drive to pick up Dominic. Spending time alone with Dominic shooting the bull. Concocting crazy pizza ideas. Escape rooms with friends. Remembering purpose to enhance experience. Hearing stories from friends and being motivated by them.

Of all of those things there is a specific breadcrumb I want to leave for future Mike. While hanging out with Vance and Brenda tonight I learned an awesome skill involving a Grolsch (swing top bottle). Even cooler than the trick itself? Hearing the story behind it. Even cooler? The awesome memories I have of watching my Grandpa Lamping perform his tricks like this as a kid and young man. Those memories still have me smiling as I prep to go to bed and remind me to enjoy life, laugh, and to keep my sense of wonder sharp.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,200 – Thankful for 100 Hammer Blows

What cliche have you heard that made sense but didn’t really sink in until long after hearing it?

You’ve probably heard the cliche of the stone cutter. When they hit the stone with the hammer the first time nothing visible happens. After the second blow of the hammer there is still no change. This process repeats one hundred times and there is seemingly no change. When the hammer strikes the stone for the one hundred and first time it break apart perfectly. It was a stroke exactly like the rest yet the result was tremendously different.

In my own life I too often celebrate and focus on the 101st hammer blow. I think about it, research it, and develop theories on how to make all the strikes of the hammer the same as that one definitive stroke.

When I do this I’m prone to missing something and making a mistake. I’m jumping to the flashy, shiny, and action filled activity; the most recent activity. I’m forgetting the entire journey it took to get to the end.

Often I’m not celebrating the earlier strokes. Instead of seeing them each as equal progress to a goal I see them as ordinary and redundant. I feel like I am toiling as opposed to working with passion. If only I remembered to appreciate each exactly the same as necessary progress towards a goal my mindset would be more easily changed to joy.

Today I’ve been focusing on remembering to appreciate the first one hundred hammer blows. In taking time to be thankful for the opportunity to make progress towards an incredibly long term goal I’ve already found more joy. Each swing if the hammer brings me closer to my goal and I appreciate each of them even if there isn’t a perceived progress. The journey wouldn’t be complete without each and every one of the first one hundred, they slowly shape me I to who I am supposed to be.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,199 – Thankful for Another Nugget of Wisdom From Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Are there books you go back to often? Maybe it’s the story, maybe it’s a a specific character, or maybe it’s the lesson learned. For some reason you are compelled to go back to it often. Which book is it for you?

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius seems to have its own gravitational pull. When I have a moment to choose a book to read next it can quietly sneak into my mind and not let go. When traveling for work or fun I can’t help but pack it in my backpack. When I’m lost in thought I’ll occasionally have one of the lines pop into my head.

After finishing up my last book on my early morning drive today Meditations just seemed right. In a crazy way this and the last book (New Seeds of Contemplation) seemed to be a perfect match for each other. They almost seem to line up in surprising ways.

When reading Meditations today there was one section in particular that stuck in my head and has been rolling around in the back of my mind all day:

It’s unfortunate that this has happened.

No. It’s fortunate that this has happened and I’ve remained unharmed by it – not shattered by the present or frightened of the future. It could have happened to anyone. But not everyone could have remained unharmed by it. Why treat the one as a misfortune rather than the other as fortunate? …does what’s happened keep you from acting with justice, generosity, self-control, sanity, prudence, honesty, humility, straightforwardness, and all the other qualities that allow a person’s nature to fulfill itself?

So remember this principle when something threatens to cause you pain: the thing itself was no misfortune at all; to endure it and prevail is great good fortune.

What a great bit of knowledge to keep in mind as I face difficulties. Stay calm, view the challenge accordingly, do what is right, and be thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,198 – Thankful for Running Hand in Hand with Mother Nature; a Lesson in Acceptance

Mother Nature and I have had many talks over the years. Almost all of them seem to be pretty one sided with me doing the talking. I often find myself negotiating, pleading, whining, fighting, and ignoring her. When I don’t get what I want out of her I get frustrated. Often I act out of spite and do my best to stick it to her.

Imagine my initial thoughts when I saw this when I woke up in the morning (this pic was from when I got back to the ouse after running):

Yup, lots of “come on’s,” “really’s,” and even a “watch this.” I initially decided I was going to run just to spite Mother Nature. Somehow in my moronic and egotistical brain I thought I’d found myself in a zero sum game with her. I was going to show her who was boss.

Then I had a moment of clarity and started laughing at myself. A couple of thoughts form the book I’m reading popped into my head and I realized I was looking at this all wrong. I went to work resetting the script in my head.

Mother Nature isn’t against me. She just is. The weather will be what the weather will be. Me “fighting” it won’t prove anything other than that I can be very egotistical and stubborn. Instead, I decided I was going to run with Mother Nature. I wasn’t even going to just run with her, I was going to take her hand in mine and run along with her.

Instead of a mindset of opposition I viewed it as us working together. It was a goofy thought, but I considered how she was helping to train me for future cold runs. When I got a little chilly the wind would almost die down. When I needed a little bit of a push I got a nice little tailwind. We ran together like old friends and I smiled like a damn fool the entire time (behind two layers of face masks). It was rather enjoyable.

In choosing this mindset I learned a lesson in acceptance. Instead of fighting back and trying to dictate my will on something else I should look for more ways to give in to the will of a greater force. Fighting nature is a ridiculous concept, it wins every time. Even if I try to claim a moral victory I in no way had any impact on it and didn’t cause it to change in the least. There isn’t a winner and a loser, there’s just me in nature with one version of me having higher blood pressure and more stress than the other version.

Mother Nature (aka The Big Dude Upstairs, The Universe, God), my bad. Thank you for showing me patience as it only took me 40+ years to learn to that it’s always better to follow Your way instead of trying to shape my own. I’m sure I’ll need to be reminded of this many times before it truly starts to sink in.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,197 – Thankful for Smiling, Planning, Thinking, and Reflecting While Driving

One of the benefits of winter time is the drive to Eau Claire. Yes, it’s a hike and sometimes snow and ice make it a little more difficult, but there’s such beauty as well. Thanks to the timing of my drive I was able to see both the sunrise and sunset and all the colors on the ends. Watching the colors slowly change while reflecting off the snow in the rolling hills is so awesome. I was smiling almost the entire way there and back today.

While it’s an hour and a half drive it’s certainly not wasted time. On my way to the office this morning I never once picked up my phone or turned on my radio. I was able to spend time in thought thinking through and planning my day and actions. Funny how sometimes the best thought time I have isn’t in an office, but on the road. I’m thankful for how much more smooth my days go when I have time to mentally prep and plan on the drive in.

On the way home I took a slightly different path for much of the drive. I still kept the radio off but spent time reflecting on the book I’ve been reading. The book really has my head spinning and has helped me learn a lot about myself. Spending time reflecting and thinking was a great way to let some of the ideas really start to sink in. Having that quiet time alone surrounded by the incredible beauty of God all around me was wonderful and an excellent way to focus my thoughts.

Lots of driving today, but also lots of smiling, planning, thinking, and reflecting. Who says windshield time can’t be productive or joyful?

Thanks!!!

Day 1,196 – Thankful for Waking Up to Becky, Creating Five Minutes of Space to Learn, and a Lesson I Finally Started to Get Several Years Later

Was there a lesson someone tried to share with you that didn’t quite sink in right away? Why didn’t you “get it” right away?

Each day I attempt to write about something I’m thankful for that’s a little different than any of the fifteen hundred plus blogs before it. By the nature of the blog it will continue to get more and more difficult to find something “new” to be thankful for. This also means I often stretch outside my normal stuff to find something a little more unique. To take this a step further, this also means that I often don’t blog about some of the things I’m thankful for every single day.

Today when I woke up to Becky and then went for a run with her while the world slept I couldn’t help but pause and be incredibly thankful for waking up to her each day. My days are better and more joyful with her in my life. I’m so grateful for her presence in my life. She may not be the topic of my blog everyday but she could be.

As is the case with almost all of us there’s never quite enough time for everything I want to accomplish. This leads to trade offs due to my inability (unwillingness?) to perfectly utilize my time. Today I was able to notch out an extra five minutes of thought time in different way… I fired up a podcast while I was in the shower. Even with washing and scrubbing I was still able to listen and focus on the content. The podcast even helped me take action today that I wouldn’t have without listening to it. I might have to do it again tomorrow!

Better late than never, right? In reading The New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton I think I’m finally learning what Father Mark Thought I could learn from this book. Several years ago I jokingly told him he’d hit me between the eyes with a spiritual hammer after a conversation we’d had. In the following conversation he suggested I read this book. I’m once again a nail being driven in by the hammer. Not even halfway through and I’m already getting excited to read it again. So much to think about and take action on. It has taken me years to finally start to learn the lesson Father Mark was trying to teach me and I’m thankful that I’ve finally listened.

Thanks!!!