Day 25 Gratitude Challenge

Yesterday was a great day. Great weather for Thanksgiving. Two long walks with the dog. One along the bike trail and the other at Good Earth State Park. Lots of family time including wonderful meal and some trivial pursuit. Closed it all out with a Vikings win.

Today will be interesting. While many will be out shopping form deals, I will be working. The last time I worked on a Friday after Thanksgiving, Bill Clinton was President.

The challenge today is a repeat. It is a pay it forward and/or random act of kindness kind of day. If you have the day off, enjoy it but remember others are working. Maybe leave them a bigger tip, give a compliment, or do something kind. Maybe you buy a stranger coffee, breakfast, or lunch. It doesn’t matter what it is, it just matters that you act.

Day 24 Gratitude Challenge

Today is Thanksgiving. Many have the day off from work. Many will gather with friends and family to overeat, watch football, and tell stories. What a fantastic tradition to gather In gratitude with those you care about.

Today I am reminded of past Thanksgivings. Growing up we shared Thanksgiving with close family friends. I have many great memories from those gatherings. In more recent years, our family gathers at a local club for amazing food and disappointing football (my youngest is a Detroit Lions fan). We gather again with a larger group (three generations) in a couple of days.

Today, rather than blog to start the day, my faithful companion took me for a walk. During the walk, I took time to think about all the things I am grateful for. I am grateful for my family and friends. I am grateful for my health and the health of those I care about. I am grateful for my home. I am grate for the opportunities I have. I am grateful for my job, my coworkers, customers, and organization. I am grateful for so much more than listed here but this is a start.

Todays’s challenge is to make a list. Make it a long list. What are you grateful for? Include everything whether big or small.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving. Thanks for reading.

Day 22 Gratitude Challenge

A couple of nights ago, Michael J. Fox won the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian award. “The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, an Oscar statuette, is given to an ‘individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.’” It isn’t surprising he won the award.

In the 80s, Fox was one of the top stars in the world. His characters in television and film were iconic. In the early 90s his life changed with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. Fox kept his diagnosis secret for many years. In 1998, he went public with his diagnosis and ever since has been advocate to find a cure for the disease. Learn more about his efforts at the Michael J Fox Foundation

I took time to watch Fox’s acceptance speech for his award. Watching the speech I became overwhelmed with emotion. I was reminded of his optimism, compassion, and humor. I reflected on his career. I wondered what career had have been. Side note: My favorite movie of his is Doc Hollywood.

Mostly, I was reminded of my mother. Like Fox, in the early 90s, my mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. I remember her optimism when Fox went public with his diagnosis. She was hopeful his money and star power would help find a cure in time for her. While the cure did not come in time for my mother, I remain hopeful that a cure will come in my lifetime. I am grateful for the attention Michael J Fox has given Parkinson’s Disease.

He ends his speech with the following words:

“Because my optimism is fueled by my gratitude. And with gratitude, optimism is sustainable.”

The challenge today is to be optimistic. We all have challenges but can we face them with the optimism of Michael J Fox? Use your gratitude to sustain your optimism for a better world.

Day 18 – Gratitude Challenge

I have to admit that yesterday was one of those days that got away from me. Not sure exactly what happened but I didn’t get everything thing I wanted done. I lost focus and a bit of motivation. While I was grateful, I didn’t do as well I hoped in keeping the list. Today I will do yesterday’s challenge again.

In addition, I will do the challenge scheduled for today which is to focus on the gift of life. So often we forget that merely being alive is a great gift.

Each day I get to spend with family, friends, and coworkers is an opportunity to live, laugh, and love. So today, take moments to live. Be grateful with each breath. Listen to your heart beat and be grateful. To live is the great adventure of all.

Day 11 – Gratitude Challenge

For many, today is a holiday. It is a day off from work. But it is, and should be, so much more. It is Veterans Day.

In 1926, Congress passed the following:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

Millions of people have served our country, including many I care deeply about. My grandfather, father, uncles, cousins, and many others have served. So today, I am grateful for the veterans, living and dead, who served our country honorably.

Day 8 Gratitude Challenge

Yesterday was a success. I paid it forward at a local coffee shop. I didn’t make the impulse buy. I complained less than usual. College basketball is back on. It was a god day.

Today is Election Day. I am grateful the unnecessary mail, television ads, and door knocking will be reduced. While I am grateful for the opportunity to vote, I don’t like the negativity of the election cycle.

Recently, I was decluttering. This is a never ending process in my house. I found a letter written to my dad by a friend when my dad was in the hospital. The letter said “Please take good care of yourself and take it easy. We need a healthy Dr. Harris in South Dakota. I am grateful that you are on the mend.” I remember that illness. My dad almost died. I can only imagine the impact the letter I had on my father.

The challenge today is to put down your devices. Get off social media (after you read this) and take time to write a letter of gratitude to someone that has made a difference in your life. Then mail the letter Delivery by hand, interoffice mail, or carrier pigeon are acceptable methods too. Bonus points if you send more than one.

Not sure who is worthy of a note? Here is a possible list – grandparents, parents, spouse, child, sibling, coworker, mentor, teacher, professor, or candidate for public office (just have a dialogue change if we sent notes thanking candidates rather than throwing beer cans or attacking with hammers).

One final thought, do you want to take this challenge to the next level? Perform two of the previous challenges each day. Imagine how you will feel if you write a note, pay it forward, and do not complain all day. Imagine how others would respond if you did so. Imagine a better world.

Momento Mori

Today is a day of reflection for me. Two years ago, I went to bed unaware my life was about to change. My oldest brother Jeff had tested positive for Covid-19 ten days prior. He was holding his own and showing mild symptoms. Many, myself included, thought he was going to survive. Yet, at around 2am, a police officer notified us that my brother had passed.

My brother was the 200th person in my state to die with Covid. As of this writing, the number of deaths is over 3,000. I don’t wish to argue about the pandemic. Rather, I want to talk about one of the things the pandemic taught me.

The pandemic taught me life is precious. It can be taken in a moment. The pandemic also reminded me that we are all mortal. We will all die. Towards that end, each day is important. It is important to embrace what life gives you each day.

So I close by asking a favor, before you go to bed tonight (and every night), tell those you love how much they mean to you. For if something should happen before you wake, let the final words be ones of love and gratitude.

The Answers are Within

I’ve told this story to close friends but not it distributed widely. It’s possible, only close friends will read this post and that’s okay.

I am not an overly religious person person and not a fan of organized religion. However, I am spiritual and do believe we each have a purpose in this life. Further, I believe there is something after this life which I hope is better.

Over 25 years ago, my father suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Though his health had been failing for years, his death was shock. No matter the circumstances, you are never ready to lose a family member.

At the time of his death, I was still in the early stages of my professional career and had recently started a new job. Our complicated and sometimes volatile relationship was improving. But now, with his death, our unresolved issues would remain. Further, I was thrust into a familial role I was not prepared to take. My mother looked to me for guidance. I longed for his wisdom, insight and support.

In the months following his death, I would often dream of spending time with him. In my dreams, we were often doing the things we did when he was living or things I wished we had done. In the dreams, there was no sense that we were living in different worlds as we were both alive.

Approximately six months after he died, I had another dream about my dad. This time it was different. This time it was clear I was living and he was not. The sensation still gives me chills.

The setting for the dream was in the house my parents were living when my father passed. My mom, sister and I were at the house when I stepped to the garage grab a cigarette and smoke (it was a nasty habit I had at the time).

When I entered the garage, my dad was there. I gave him a big hug. I felt a calm and peace that I have not felt since. In the garage, we talked about a lot of things while smoking. It was amazing. Imagine getting a

chance to spend a few more moments with someone you love after they pass.

At the end of our meeting, I asked him if he wanted to come inside and see my mom and sister. He looked at me and said “They aren’t ready to see me yet.” I was disappointed by his answer as I knew my mom and sister missed my dad as much as I did. I still don’t understand this part of the dream.

If the dream ended here, it would have been an amazing experience. But it didn’t end there. As we said our goodbyes, I asked my dad “When you die, do you get the answers to the questions?” My father looked at me inquisitively. “What do you mean?” he asked. I explained that I have always wanted to know the answers to many of the questions. Some serious and some not. What came first – the chicken or the egg? Is there a god? Will the Vikings ever win a Super Bowl? Once he understood what I was asking, my father looked at me and said, “The answers are within you, always”. And then he was gone.

I’ve spent the last 25+ years wrestling with his statement. Perhaps it means nothing and was just a dream. However, what if my dad was spot on? What if, we always have the answers within us? Does this mean that to have more success, you need a better questions?

I’ll end here, if the answers are within, asking better and empowering questions will lead to better and empowering answers.

One last thing, mark down 2026…that’s when the Vikings will win the Super Bowl.

Favorite People of 2021

In reflecting upon the year that was 2021, I think about the people who impacted my life. Why are these people my favorites? What did I learn about them this year? The list is long and perhaps too long for a blog post. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this blog post is 1000 words long because of these people. My favorites in a picture.

There are others that make my favorite list. Rather than list them here, I will write notes to them over the next few days. Perhaps you can do the same.

Favorite Moments and Memories of 2021

As 2021 comes to a close, I plan to spend some time reflecting upon the year that was and the year that will be. Likewise, I plan to share some of my thoughts here. I also hope that you take the time to reflect.

  1. When I think of 2021, I will always think of what I started in 2020 – My health journey. I lost approximately 40 pounds (in addition to the prior 25 pounds in 2020). I walked at least 10,000 every day. NOTE: Current streak is 659 days with 10,000 steps or more. 10,000 steps is approximately 5 miles. My average daily steps is just under 16,000 step or approximately 7 miles per day. My eating has improved. I feel much better now than I did at the begining of 2021. Though I remain 10-12 pounds away from my revised goal and haven’t fully incorporated a fitness routine beyond walking, I still consider 2021 to be a success.
  2. 2021 is the year my youngest child graduated from high school and all that entails. I enjoyed a spring of “final” events. It culminated in his graduation in late May. I enjoyed his final high school tennis season. I enjoyed his graduation ceremony. I enjoyed his graduation party. I enjoyed going to the graduation parties of his friends. Though it was series of final events, it was also a begining of new stage of life for all of us.
  3. 2021 was the year my wife and I celebrated 20 years of marriage. We celebrated the entire year. It seems foolish to celebrate only one day year! We celebrated by returning to Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. We spent our honeymoon there and have been back many times. Yet, it was the first time we had been back to the island in five years. Without a doubt, this was a highlight of our year.
  4. In July, a visit from my mother was fun. I had not seen her since the start of the pandemic. Near as I can tell, a good time was had by all.
  5. Mini-Trips. This year, my wife and I took a series of mini-trips to Minneapolis and Omaha. These trips allowed us to visit our children, visit old friends and make new friends.

This list is not exhaustive. It includes many of my favorite moments from 2021. My initial list was very short. But as I thought about the past year, I recognized all the great moments that happened this past year. What are your greatest moments of 2021?

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