Day 1,883 – Thankful for Remembering to Listen

Two wonderful reasons to remember to listen today, both for very different reasons.

The first was remembering to listen rather than react. My mind quickly races to an answer, long before a question is asked. If I react too quickly I miss hearing the correct question and answer incorrectly. Pause, listen, think, and then respond if necessary. Too often I’ve responded when response was needed. Today reminded me of the power of listening completely and then responding in due time. Remember to listen rather than react.

The second was remembering to listen closely and attentively in the stillness. The voice can be heard anytime, but I must find stillness to hear it. Create space, eliminate noise, and listen with more than my ears. In that space if I listen closely with my soul I will hear the call. Remember to listen closely in the stillness.

Two simple lessons, both profound. Remember to listen, the reward is so much greater than talking and responding.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,883 – Thankful for Remembering to Listen

Two wonderful reasons to remember to listen today, both for very different reasons.

The first was remembering to listen rather than react. My mind quickly races to an answer, long before a question is asked. If I react too quickly I miss hearing the correct question and answer incorrectly. Pause, listen, think, and then respond if necessary. Too often I’ve responded when response was needed. Today reminded me of the power of listening completely and then responding in due time. Remember to listen rather than react.

The second was remembering to listen closely and attentively in the stillness. The voice can be heard anytime, but I must find stillness to hear it. Create space, eliminate noise, and listen with more than my ears. In that space if I listen closely with my soul I will hear the call. Remember to listen closely in the stillness.

Two simple lessons, both profound. Remember to listen, the reward is so much greater than talking and responding.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,879 – Thankful for a Glimpse of the Other Side of the Gap

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.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,876 – Thankful for Dominic’s Courage to Do Anything

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.

Super proud of you dude! Love you bud!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,873 – Thankful for Walking Meditation and Stillness in the Woods

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.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,871 – Thankful for the Abundance of Opportunity Which Surrounds Us All, Waiting for Us to Know to Seek It

I often pause in amazement of the universe’s ability to provide seemingly exactly what is needed at exactly the right time. What I realized today is that it was less of the universe creating a specific opportunity as it is my eyes being opened to the possibility.

This morning I spent time with some teammates walking through the goal setting framework I created for myself for 2021. As I shared with them, I wanted to impose my will upon 2021 rather than vice versa. 2020 was a wonderful year for testing and growing resilience and adaptability, but it was largely reactive. My goal in 2021 was to live the year proactively while still exercising adaptability and resilience as the year threw challenges and blessings at me which were out of my control.

My goal was to live more intentionally, to focus on specific goals and dreams, to remember past lessons, to stop behaviors and habits which got in the way, and to create new thought processes and responses. I took time to focus on what I wanted to get out of 2021 to make progress towards or to reach some of my dreams. If I took time to focus my energy and mindset in the right directions I would have a better opportunity to accomplish what I wanted. If I did the same as usual I would have the best of intentions but would drift with the tides of life rather than propel myself towards specific dreams.

When putting the presentation together for my teammates over the past couple of weeks I had time to reflect on the first three quarters of the year. What an incredible nine months it has been! It has been far from perfect, yet it was lived so much closer to the year I’d imagined than I ever would have thought possible. Much progress was made towards each of my three key goals. Behavior was shifted towards the better. So many lessons learned through both failure and success. More living of values, more opportunities to understand why each value is important. Working towards dreams while also seeing both where I need to continue growing and where I need to move on to the next dreams.

As I started tonight’s blog with, my initial thought was intense gratitude for all of the amazing opportunities and chance meetings the universe offered up. A perfectly timed email from an author friend which led to the progress my book. The podcast I listened to at exactly the right time to help me start the year with intention. The reading of a short quote which opened my eyes to different thought processes on mortality, impermanence, and presence. A passing thought coupled with a short term business goal transforming into a speaking opportunity. Treasure troves of serendipity surrounding me throughout the past year… right?

And then I started to realize how shallow my view was. The universe didn’t just suddenly manifest these opportunities. They have always been there! What changed was me. I started to watch for opportunities and I saw them. They’ve all been all around me, surrounding me, screaming at me for attention, and I was too aloof to pay attention. Once my eyes were opened I could finally see what has been surrounding me this entire time.

The universe, The Big Dude Upstairs, God, or whatever name you want to call it, doesn’t just create opportunities for us at the moment we feel is the right time. They’ve created those opportunities in extreme abundance and have seeded our lives with them. The trick is that we must open our eyes, our minds, and our souls enough to see them.

Of all of the lessons I have learned this year, this one will remain as one to remember for life. Opportunity is there. The exact thing I need is already waiting for me. It is up to me to keep my soul open to finding it, and my eyes will not be opened until I understand and focus on what I am truly looking for.

Today I am thankful for the abundance of opportunity surrounding us each and every single day – all of it just waiting for us to realize we are looking for it.

A frozen waterfall in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in January of 2021

Thanks!!!

Day 1,869 – Thankful for Whipping a U Turn to Enjoy Dessert on My Ride Home

During a break in our monthly “Think Day” my phone showed a notification of my WeCroak app. It was time for one of my daily quotes. I opened it up to find the following quote:

Life is short and unpredictable. Eat dessert first.

Helen Keller

I smiled, thought about the quote more deeply, smiled wider, and then took a screenshot to save it for later. The quote was in the back of my mind for the rest of the meeting.

On my drive home from Winona I was mesmerized by the way the the last rays of sunlight were hitting the bluffs. The contrast of the cloud shaded bottom of the bluff and the orange lit top of the bluff was striking. It reminded me of a place in Death Valley named The Beacon due to the way the very top lit up in the sunrise.

The quote from earlier in the day rang through my soul. I grinned, turned on my blinker, and whipped a U turn into a scenic pullout area. This was my dessert. I was going to take a few minutes to enjoy it more deeply.

Life is short and tomorrow is promised to no one. Enjoy the moment. Eat dessert first.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,861 – Thankful for a New Trail to an Old Lookout

Day 1,861 – Thankful for a New Trail to an Old Lookout

After church and lunch Becky and I headed out for a hike. The weather was perfect and we both felt compelled to get both fresh air and a little exercise. Becky had noticed that there was a new trail opening this past week in Hixon so that was our destination.

The trail itself was certainly brand new. They had just knocked it our not too long ago and the smell of soil was fresh in the air. The path itself was nice and soft as it hadn’t been packed down by many travelers yet. Most of the trails in that area have been traveled many times by us, it was awesome being in an area we were unfamiliar with. Each new twist and turn showed us sights we hadn’t seen before. The autumn colors were fantastic and the rock formations we had not seen prior were very interesting. All in all, it was great taking a new path.

As it worked its way up to the top we re-connected with a trail that leads to a scenic overlook. We’ve been up there before, but it was a long time ago. The views of La Crosse may be amongst the best from anywhere in the city. We were able to see the power plant in Genoa a little less than 20 miles away. All along the valley we saw the various colors of leaves in the trees. Throw in the perfectly picturesque clouds and it was nothing short of beautiful.

Ahh… time in nature. There’s not much else in life I’d rather be doing, especially with my family and friends.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,860 – Thankful for a Moment at the Beach I’ll Never Forget

With the sound of Lake Michigan waves upon the sandy shores over the past few days an old memory was stirred to the surface of memory. The reminder of that day, and another like it, have brought an added level of calm to my life.

Way back in my senior year of college I took a spring break road trip to a quiet beach town in Mexico. This wasn’t the party all day and night experience at crazy college bars that you may be envisioning. The setting was much more chill and relaxed, I think we only went to a single bar for a very short period of time. While the road trip and time with those friends were my favorite parts of spring break there was a single moment in which a deep state of inner calm was found and has been tapped back into often.

Not from that night, but a very similar evening many years later.

One of the nights my friends were all chilling out in the beach house. I felt compelled to sit out on the beach. In the moonlight and under the stars I sat on the beach, looked up to the stars, and became hypnotized by the rhythm of the ocean waves. There was no nervousness, fear for the future, stress about the next chapter of life, or anything like that. I had no past, I had no future, I was completely immersed in the present.

When I put that memory into focus I can almost swear that I am back in that moment. I can see the stars overhead, the wisps of clouds, the glittering moonlight on the waves. The repeating sound of waves landing on shore, the slight ocean breeze blowing across the beach, and the silence of the rest of the world all echo in my ears. I can feel the sand under the palms of my hands as I lean back with my legs outstretched as I sense cool air blowing across my legs, face, and hair. The scent of the ocean air hangs around me. Even my lips have the faint taste of salt upon them. I remember the waves, I remember that moment, and my soul is stilled and I am there again.

Over the past few days that memory has re-surfaced and I am so thankful for it. In a calm waters, stormy seas, and everything else in between this moment is a refuge of serenity. Breathe in, picture that moment, breathe out, and I am there.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,857 – Thankful for Scenic Hiking Side Trips

Day 1,857 – Thankful for Scenic Hiking Side Trips

Becky had a brilliant idea for our trip to Madison this morning. She grabbed her Wisconsin State Parks map and found a couple parks we’ve never explored just off the beaten path we were traveling.

Talk about enjoying the journey and not just the destination!

Nothing like almost empty state parks early on a fall morning shortly after the sunrise. Fresh and crisp autumn air, a cool breeze, and the smell of forests and leaves were all around us as we saw beautiful vistas and fantastic rock formations.

Thanks!!!