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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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Advice for my Teenage Self

astronomical clock in prague

When I saw that the first writing prompt for Bloganuary was “advice for my teenage self”, I balked at it and felt slightly discouraged. To me, it seemed slightly out of place to have the writing prompt for New Year’s Day to be focused on looking backwards instead of being hopeful for what the future may bring. Perhaps it was my own experiences in my teenage years that made me feel this way, or maybe it is my current disposition to only look forward; to stare out into the horizon and to envision what is coming rather than to crank my neck in retrospect and dream of “what if” and think of all the things that I could have done differently.

The truth is that I would not have done anything differently, and I would find it difficult to offer any advice to my teenage self because I believe that everything worked out well – and everything happened for a reason whether I realized that in the moment or not. Life and time is not something that can be changed or manipulated after the fact, but rather it must be faced for what it is and what it was.

The advice I would offer my teenage self would be to listen – so I suppose that is not advice at all, but it would be lending an ear to hear what I needed in that moment. Would my younger self offer anything up to a stranger? Would I know that it was me from the future? And even if I did have the knowledge that it was me, would I have the courage to say anything? I think that I would wonder why my future self was asking a question rather than offering advice – or maybe he just remembered the struggles that raged within my mind & heart; the thunderstorms of my soul.

Certainly I could offer advice on the stock market – and tell myself to buy 10 Bitcoin when I was pondering it at $800 – or maybe I could catch myself when it was pennies for a Bitcoin. What would life be like if I were lucky enough to realize what I was dealing with when seeing such a foreign concept?

Rather than looking back at what I would say to my teenage self, I now wonder – what advice would my 50 year old self offer to me at 31? That seems like a more reasonable question to ask, and one that makes you think in a futuristic position rather than wishing and wanting to alter your past. It makes me wonder whether the Metaverse will be the next Bitcoin – or whether it is a trap. It makes me wonder if my current thoughts are correct – “the way of the past is the way of the future” is one adage that I live by that I believe is a gold mine.

There is so much advice that we wish we had when we were younger, but what do we need right now? How can we position ourselves to be successful in 20 years? I do not think that we can quite comprehend that because our society tells us that we need to obtain our successes right now and they shove the success of the .000001% in our faces constantly while ramming propaganda down our throats. To be successful is not to be rich, to not make mistakes, and not to look backwards with a desire to change our past – it is being Happy in the moment and realizing all of the riches of the blessings that we hold in family, friends, and in our Self.

I guess I cheated this prompt because I would not change a thing about my journey through life because it shaped me into who I am today, and every little thing that occurred happened for a reason – down to the very second so that I can be in the place I am today, living with my soul mate, my newborn son, our dogs, on a career path that I love, and with a world full of excitement & opportunities ahead of me.

Plus – do I really think that my teenage self would listen to any outside advice?

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Sunburnt & Smiling

Today was a great day.

I feel like it’s not often that you get to say that, but it truly was – even though I am thoroughly exhausted and trying to write this while Kyla, Twiggy, & Basil sleep soundly around me.

Our busy day began mid-morning as we felt the heat creeping up on us while drinking our coffee on the patio. Though my phone said it was only 72 degrees, you could feel the potential for heat in the air and we immediately began to gather our supplies to begin cleaning the front of our house before going to my parents’ for a cookout later in the day.

Cleaning the siding on the front of the house was priority numero uno, but there was a deeper issue that was causing the buildup of mildew on the siding – my gutters were clogged, which was causing rain to collect in the gutters, not drain, and spill water out and down along my siding. Once I set my ladder up against the house, I climbed up with a rake to attempt to unclog the gutters; although all I could really see was water & some of those helicopter seed things that fall from maple trees.

I reached my rake along the gutter and heard the water & seeds shift down the downspout.

Progress. But the water was still plugging the gutters.

I raked again and heard another shift.

I raked one final time and then a tsunami of stagnant rainwater and a bucket-full of maple seeds rocketed through the downspout & finally completed its journey back into the ground.

From the point of the gutters finally being cleaned out, the next task was to get scrubbin’ the siding!

It took a little Dawn dishwashing liquid, a scrub brush, and some balance on the ladder, but we got a huge portion of the siding and our porch railings done. It’s really amazing what a little soap, water, and hard work can do to make a place feel like brand new – and to give you pride in what you work for; what you own & to have pride in the place you call Home.

Aside from the work and the results of the work being fulfilling, it was great to see our neighbors outside and to feel the warmth of human engagement & interaction. It was funny because at one point I looked up and saw two people riding their bikes by our house and say Hi to us, only to find out it was one of our friends (who is also our hairstylist – yes we go to the same hairstylist hah!).

But either way – I loved the fact that they stopped by to talk, and ended up seeing our crazy garden that engulfs half of our backyard. I have been loving having people stop by to get plants, or to randomly say hi so that I can show them the garden; introduce them to this madness that keeps me sane.

Cleaning the front of the house was therapeutic for me & Kyla’s soul, but once we got rolling on projects we just had to keep it going. Next up was rearranging the landscaping so that we had a more balanced landscape – making sure we had a solid mix of colors, textures, & heights – but I won’t bore you with all of that. The biggest thing I had to say about this is that I couldn’t believe what happened next. As I was digging out a shrub in the landscaping to transplant, I was wearing one of those farmer sun hats with a broad brim and then a truck drove by, slowed down and they yelled, “HOLA” at me.

I’m not sure if it was just a joke – or if they thought I was Mexican – but I just stood there confused and just started laughing & was like, “Holy shit, I think I was just racially profiled”.

With all the plants in place, the dogs fed, and both of us showered, we headed up to my parents for a cookout. Normally we would have steaks and burgers, but today my Dad went with smoked chicken halves & they were absolutely primo. The chickens were marinated in either Mesquite or Cajun marinade, then smoked in the smoker for 7-8 hours with Mesquite & Apple wood chips – and you could taste the sweetness of the applewood in that chicken – again, primo.

Somehow Adam & I lost in corn hole 2 games to 1 to my Dad & my Grandpa, but the real victory of the day was that I landed my first ollie on a skateboard on concrete. I may have only gotten 3 inches off the ground, but the fact that I conquered that fear of skateboarding has me pretty pumped up & ready to keep attacking it to see how much further I can push the boundaries. Needless to say, I’m ordering a helmet & pads – gotta protect this body from my clumsiness! It’s funny because I feel that I’m athletic, but as soon as I’m not in athlete mode, I trip over my own feet.

Good food and good conversation filled the rest of the night as we yelled across the deck about the insanity of the news, the government, and politics – though we said we wouldn’t talk about those things – yet how do you avoid it.

Either way, I think the biggest thing we realized today is that we all need each other; people need people – especially family. So while times are tough, and things are uncertain, enjoy the things in life that are certain – and enjoy your time with the people you can’t live without.

And so it is sunburnt & smiling that I slip into my slumber 🙂