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5 Things I am Grateful For

a person sitting on wooden planks across the lake scenery

“5 Things I am Grateful for Today”.

This blog will feel like a recap of all the writing I have done to this point because I feel that I sprinkle my gratitude into everything I write. There will be a few new things that may show up on this list, but anyone who has followed along for any of my blogs could probably guess my top 3 at the very least.

1. I am grateful for my wife Kyla. When Kyla and I first started “dating”, we were in the third grade, maybe more seriously in the fourth grade though haha. What even is dating when that young? I remember a lot of notes passed back and forth, and that was the extent of it because we didn’t have social media or cell phones. My parents must have known there was something special about this little girl when I wanted my Dad to chaperone our school trip to Camp Wilson so that he could meet her. Through the years we grew apart as we were put in classes with opposite lunch schedules until we finally went to a dance together in 8th grade and dated some in high school, but never “officially”. Our paths crossed a couple times after graduation, but it still took a couple years until we finally ended up together. It is funny how life works, how people move in and out of each other’s lives, but you cannot force God’s Will, and I’m glad we found our way back to each other because I have never been happier in my life than I am now. We have the perfect life with our two dogs Twiggy & Basil, our son Zander, and a whole lifetime of possibilities ahead of us.

2. It was tough to decide between number 1 and 2, but without the wild journey with 1, we wouldn’t have had my 2nd thing I am grateful for – my son Zander. There was always a part of me that knew I wanted to have kids – and yet another part of my brain questioned whether I could do it or handle the stress of it all. Two and half months after our wedding, Kyla was feeling funny and it turned out she was pregnant. I have never had such a weird feeling of joy & anxiety in my life. It wasn’t until we saw the ultrasound of him moving his arms around, and heard his heartbeat that I felt this was real. In that moment I choked back tears of joy and amazement, and it really sunk in that we would be parents; we were going to have a baby. The ensuing months of pregnancy were interesting and fun, but I wanted Zander to come so his Mama was not so miserable. The day that she went into labor, I felt a primal fear I can’t explain, but once he was safely out into the world, it was a relief to know that my baby and my wife were both safe. Hundreds of giggles and milestones later, I can say that I am a happy & proud Dad. Being a Dad can be stressful, but the joy of raising a child far outweigh any stress or negative feelings one could have. I am grateful when he cries because it means his lungs are healthy. I am grateful when he poops because it means things are normal. I am grateful for his life, and the joy he has brought into mine.

3. I am grateful for family. We are so blessed to have such loving & thoughtful parents who have loaded us up with clothes, toys, and baby accessories – and for the love they give to their first grandchild. The meaning of family takes on a different shape and type once you have a child on your own. It feels like you have been initiated into a club, but you also feel a deep appreciation for all that they went through to give you the best life possible. I don’t know how my parents did it, but they sacrificed and gave me the best life. Our grandparents also have a deep love for their great-grandchild and I love seeing the Happiness it brings everyone. Even my brother Adam and his wife Chelsea (who say they don’t want kids) are obsessed with Zander and I am grateful that he will have such a great aunt & uncle that he can learn from – and workout with.

4. I am grateful for my job. I currently work as a Business Development Rep at Ferguson Construction Company, and while I wasn’t sure if I would thrive at this job, I love it and the company. A strange turn of events – call it a mixture of luck & fate, and a dictate from God landed me at Ferguson. It was time for a change, time to remove myself from a position of comfort and to move onto new & exciting challenges that I didn’t necessarily think I wanted at the time. The truth of it all is that Ferguson is a company I have wanted to work at since I was little and my Nana (great-grandma) would take us on walks past the building. They had (and still have) a piece of modern art that looks like a giant concrete donut out front, and it always intrigued me. What went on in the building with the donut, red roof, and reflective glass facade? Growing up in Sidney, Ferguson was a staple to the town – it seemed that they built everything and you constantly saw the name. Of course, seeing the heavy machinery at work on the sites is also an alluring sight for a little boy – and even for me now as a grown man. It seemed that signs of Ferguson followed me, and I always felt pulled to it. When driving with friends in Columbus in college, I remember seeing a giant Ferguson banner off the highway and telling my friends that was a Sidney company. The position I now hold was one of the first jobs I applied for out of college, but as with Kyla, our paths would cross again and so now the journey begins – and we build from here.

5. I am grateful for many things, but I think that it all ties back to God. I am grateful for God to have blessed me with such a wonderful and perfect life. It has taken years of struggle, but I finally feel that I am in the right place; where I am meant to be both physically & mentally. I thank God because in a way, our relationship with God is a relationship to ourselves, and I feel mine is finally healthy because I have submitted my troubles to Him and I know that everything will work out as it is meant to be. I thank God for Kyla and I thank Kyla for pulling me closer to God. All my life I have felt blessed, some might call it lucky, but I realized that it is the love of God and now that I can acknowledge that instead of trying to justify it as ‘the universe’ or ‘synchronicity’ or something else, I know who is looking out for us.

I am grateful for everything in my life: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – it all has an ultimate purpose if we can reorient our understanding and not get blindly caught up in our pasts or our current struggles. Life will always have struggles to overcome, that is kind of the point. How would anyone become great by living in comfort? Be grateful for your struggle because it gives you an obstacle to overcome & conquer and become the champion you were meant to be.

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Live, Laugh, Love my Life

laugh neon light signage turned on

“What makes you laugh?”

I have to say that I think these prompts are not my favorite because it does not put me in a position to be creative, but rather it puts me in a position of writing a biography. Perhaps that is the point of a blog, though, and people want to get to know the person writing the blogs more than they want to see their creativity or intelligence – or maybe that is where I am not executing well enough on the prompts and my approach is too straight-forward. We cannot blame the prompt of life, the outside forces, but we must look inside ourselves to see how we can manipulate it to our satisfaction.

What makes me laugh?

Everything makes me laugh. I feel that all my life I have been naively laughing at the world and looking for the joy in it. Even when I have been at the hospital with a broken bone or injury, I make jokes to lighten the mood for myself and others – and if there are no jokes coming from me, then things must be serious.

As a big fan of Adam Sandler when growing up, I love the stupid, slapstick humor that is on the edge of funny – or being a Dad joke. You could say that I highly identify with Phil Dunphy from Modern Family – and Kyla says that I am Phil Dunphy with many of the things I do and say. I remember the first time we watched Modern Family and she would stare over at me with a big beaming smile, or a face in disbelief when the similarities stacked up to a point where even I was reacting with amazement and a laughter that I had been holding in. Some part of me did not want to be pegged as the goofy Dad, but that’s what I am now and I accept that title with gratitude and pleasure. To be fair though, Kyla pegs me as just about every character, so either I have multiple personality disorder, or I am a theatrical guy with a wide range of emotions that I wear on my sleeve. However, there is no doubt in my mind that Kyla is a combination of Cam & Gloria – sassy, fabulous, and confident, but most certainly she has the theatrical output of Cam.

But beyond TV shows and Reels, what really makes me laugh is playing with my son Zander. It begins as soon as I get home from work. He will spot me when I walk in, or when I go to hang up my coat and this look of shock morphs into a smile so gigantic that it looks like he lights up like the sun rising over the horizon. His smile is so big that he bashfully hides it as I talk to him and Kyla playfully asks him,

“Who is that? Is that your favorite guy? Is that your best friend?”

The rest of the day melts away in a moment and my mind is only laser focused on this perfect little family we have.

Our dogs Basil & Twiggy are also going nuts this entire time, begging for attention and I try to give it to them without getting my dress shoes scratched or dog hair on my pants. No matter how many times she does it, I have to crack up when Twiggy belts out a “roo”, somewhat like when Huskies talk, and then I know I have to give her more love for a moment. Basil tries to copy her and belts out this cute mixture of a roo and a bark that we call her chicken bark, and then she gets her love too. Of course, Basil is doing all this with a tire toy in her mouth and usually a racquetball too.

In this crazy world with weak leaders, and constant talk of mandates, pushing of propaganda – all we can do is laugh and find joy in the small things. I used to be so tied up in it all and then I realized that it probably always was this way, and it probably always will be this way – meaning we could always look at the government and criticize – but what are you going to do about it?

It is better to release your psyche from the madness & to focus on that which you can control.

Begin with your immediate surroundings and work your way out – actually, begin within yourself. If there is no light within your soul to laugh and burn the fuel of confidence of your Self, then you will never be truly Happy. Cheap laughs are easy to come by, but the deep belly laughs are a product of a full life sustained by love for others, love for life, love for your Self, and love of God.

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Tilling Another Garden

As I sit down to type out my Nightly Blog, a navy hue hangs in the air extending dusk deeper into the night more & more every day as we inch towards the Summer Solstice. Today was another ultra-productive day that began with a slower-than-expected start & a later-than-expected wake time – but it all ended up perfect in the grand scheme of things.

I stayed up late last night finishing my nightly blog while Kyla conked out from all the work we put into scrubbing the front of the house. I find that I really enjoy writing the nightly blogs, but it is difficult to focus, and to properly articulate my day because I am so exhausted, and coming from a point of spending all my energy through the day, not from a point of pure pursuit of passion.

With that being said, I woke up early, cranked out my Morning Pages, then enjoyed my morning coffee with Kyla & the dogs before heading up to my parents’ house to get their garden prepared for the season. At the beginning of the year, I didn’t think that they would have a garden because I didn’t think they wanted to care for it (and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to care for it) but I’m really pumped that they changed their mind so that we can plant tons of sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkins, cucumbers, & sunflowers.

Today’s project was long overdue, but had to be done – I needed to till up my parents’ garden. Yesterday we had a cookout at my parents’ and my grandparents were there as well. My Grandpa took a look at the weed patch that used to be a thriving garden for the past 4-5 years and asked me what I was going to be doing with it. I replied that I needed to till it up and that was all it took to get him rocking & ready to go.

“You wanna get that done in about a quarter of the time? I’ll bring the Kubota down and grind that up into a fine powder in no time,” my Grandpa said with a smile and a gesture with his hand like he was crumbling dirt.

“Hell yeah, let’s tear this yard up!” was my reply as I was laughing at my Grandpa hopping on the opportunity to help me with my gardens – and any excuse to use his new trailer and play with heavy equipment. But doesn’t everybody love playing with heavy equipment!?

It was funny because earlier my brother Adam texted me asking me if I remembered playing Army men on the dirt hills at Grandma & Grandpa’s house. I replied with an ‘of course’, and a burst of flashbacks of playing with Tonka trucks in the dirt with my brother & cousin – I feel like that was basically my whole childhood right there, just playing in the dirt with my dudes!

But after that wave of memories flooding back I realized something – I took those dirt mounds from my Grandparents’ house to build my parents’ garden into what it is today. So it was weird that Adam had those memories pop up – because it happened when I was tilling up the dirt that we played upon as kids. And the spot where my parents’ garden is located is where our childhood swings was; I’m just growing fruits, herbs, & vegetables on the mounds of our memories.

My Grandpa took the first few swipes on the Kubota and then handed it over for me to grind up the soil into the lush loam that all gardeners desire. There is nothing I love more than running heavy equipment or tractors – it just makes the job so much easier and it really makes you feel like a real Farmer 🙂

Grandpa on a tractor tilling up a garden
My Grandpa on his pride & joy

After I criss-crossed the garden I noticed that I had a heavy clay area in the southern portion of the garden. I had no manure, rice hulls, perlite, or anything to loosen the soil up – but then I found pine needles under the pine trees growing in the yard. After dumping 3-4 wheelbarrows-full onto the area, I tilled it in and it loosened the soil to an acceptable, and workable, consistency.

With the garden tilled up, we packed the tractor up and I followed my Grandpa back to his house to help him unload. Once we got there, we put the tools away and went on a little garden tour to see all that he has started so far this year. He always has a nice large garden, but this year it feels like he’s taking it to another level; I think I’ve got some competition. What I didn’t realize though was that he was actually growing potatoes for my CropBoxes – we’re still not sure if we will offer them at the scale we have, but it looks like we might have to with the volume that the whole family is growing!

After rounding up the kittens and then hugging my Grandma & Grandpa goodbye, I headed back to my parents’ to finish up the garden duties there. The last piece of the puzzle was to cover the garden with ground cover fabric to eliminate the weed problem, then I will burn holes in the fabric where I want to plant plants. As these things go, I ran out of anchor pins with only 2 more swipes of ground cover needed, so my plan is to get more anchor pins tomorrow & finish up the Garden of Gains North tomorrow if possible.

With sweat pouring off of me, I trudged from the garden to the garage to eat a double burger that my Dad made for me. There’s nothing quite like a thick, greasy burger after a long day of hard work under the hot sun. And it was also nice to get to spend more time with my parents, grandparents, Adam & Chelsea, and Kyla this weekend. I think we all take advantage of the value of the relationships that we have, but we realized how much we missed people, and how much we love people, through this whole Covid situation & social-distancing. Though it may have been necessary, it isn’t natural for humans to be separated from each other. We need each other to live, to heal, & to thrive.

Farmer in a straw hat on a tractor tilling up a garden
Me, living the American Dream