Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanks--30 Days in 1

Many of my friends have been participating in 30 Days of Gratitude in the month in which the United States celebrates Thanksgiving.  I decided not to at the beginning of the month as I was not sure that I could maintain participation.  However, with a little bit of extra time on this Thanksgiving day, I figured I would put in all 30 days at once.  So that this entry does not go on forever, I will write just a few sentences about each thing I am thankful for.  

1-Sherry...from some "chance" meetings in the dining hall in East Halls when she ate dinner at a crazy early time because she was working some evenings and I ate dinner at a crazy early time because I was just hungry to 21 years, 5 months, and now 8 days of marriage, I have an enormous amount to be thankful for.

2-Chance meetings...chance meetings back in college were not always as random and chance as they may have appeared, but chance meetings in general are fun.  And when they happen with family and good friends, they bring a smile to my face that is worth an enormous amount.

3-Randomness...chance meetings are just one reflection of randomness in life.  Serendipity.  Things happen by chance in a way that turns out to lead to wonderful new opportunities and insights into life.  Sometimes the randomness can be a curse, but more often than not in my life it has been a blessing. way to keep a marriage going is to live in a community of good friends who listen, who are willing to be straight with me when things are not going well, who share their burdens with me, who share my goal of a lasting marriage for me, and with whom I can laugh.  Of course, all these things need to go for me and Sherry as well, but having close friends you can turn to for advice is a great way to help to keep things going.

5-Serenity prayer...this is another aspect of keeping a good marriage going.  To realize that there are some things that cannot change.  To truly have the courage to change the things I can.  And to have (and pray to God for) the wisdom to know which is which.

6-My sons...having mentioned my thanks for Sherry and the community of close adult friends, I have to reflect on the fact that Sherry and I have raised three pretty incredible boys.  We'll never know what would have become of the two other pregnancies but the lives we were lucky enough to bring here to live independently on Earth have turned into pretty amazing people.

7-Extended family...this completes the circuit on family.  I have so many incredible people in my family doing interesting things in interesting places, and yet much of the family is still in the same area where I grew up making it relatively easy to get together when we can all find the time.

8-Time...mentioned at the end of #7 and something that is incredibly precious because so many people seem so pressed for it.  I am thankful that I have the time to think about the deeper meaning of things in life (even if Sherry and others sometimes wish I would focus on more basic things.)

9-Long many of life's finer points just take time to sort through.  Long conversations with one other person or with a group who can focus and give their full attention to an issue are always gifts.

10-Naps...another thing that time can be used for is naps.  Recuperative.  Regenerative.  Resting.  Just time to let the body heal or catch up.  Naps are a very good thing. thing that time can be used to measure is performance in races. I love races as they let me measure progress, performance, and my sense of value.  Of course, not all value is in my races.  There is value in my being a good husband, father, friend, family member, coworker, and manager.  And while time is not the only measure or even the most important measure for all the things from which I draw value, it is a sign of trying to measure up in all things in life. 

12-Sports...races are just one of many sports.  Sports are a key activity for one of my sons.  And a second has certainly tried his share.  They are such a nice way to learn so many of life's lessons about striving, focus, and accomplishment.

13-Teamwork...from sports I go to teamwork.  My sons who are either only a little into sports or not at all certainly have their share of teamwork activities (singing in choir and playing in orchestras or other music-based groups).  I have been lucky enough to be a part of many teams, too.

14-Music...I mentioned two sons' interests in music.  The third is interested as well, and it has been something that has brought my immediate family together (and extended family and friends together) in many ways over time.  My own musical ambitions and interests have always been sidetracked as it has never been the most important thing for me, but I do love to listen and play the best I can when I can. a particular type of music that I enjoy listening too in person when played well.  I particularly enjoy one aspect of jazz--improvisation.  So much of life is about making things up as I go along no matter how much I might want to lead a planned life.  Just taking it all in has worked wonders for me.

16-Storytelling...some of this is reading to others, which I have done for all three boys and found it extremely rewarding.  Some of this is why music is so interesting as it can be used to tell a story either with or without lyrics.  And some of this is what makes my work life go--telling stories as illustrative anecdotes or telling stories to sell ideas.  All of it involves sharing ideas me, these are a form of storytelling.  One that I can work with an artist to express in a picture. And a story so precious to me that I want to take it with me forever.

18-The NCR trail...while I have mentioned running and randomness, this ties together running with good friends and long conversations and just wanting a sense of certainty about something in life rather than randomness.  I have joked with fellow runners that for very long races on the trail the best and worst thing about the trail is that you pretty much always know what is coming.  Very little (but some) slope.  Rather straight.  A place to go when I want to run but not think about running and just lose myself in thought.

19-The Y...while I am not always a fan of the treadmill, to have a place I can go to exercise when the weather is inclement, or a place I can go for non-running exercise, where I can bring the family, and where I feel like the person at the front desk knows me and cares about why I come is a pretty nice thing to have.

20-St. Pius X...I grew up in a parish where my main exposure was going to mass each week and to CCD.  I know my dad participated in the archdiocesan appeal and we had baseball sign-up there.  I didn't feel involved at any deeper level.  For 17+ years now, St. Pius has provided me and Sherry and our sons with a place to become involved in so many interesting ways to meet so many interesting people.

21-Bread...something I love to bake.  Kneading is therapeutic.  Fruit and vegetable breads have a wonderful flavor.  Biscuits are wonderful for working the butter or shortening in. And bread something that I would love to have represented in a second tattoo if I ever get one.

22-Wine...this goes back to family and friends and long conversations and bread.  Good food and good beverages do so much to enrich the ambiance and promote good conversation.

23-Cold...goes back to my running and should be clarified as cold but not too cold.  A moderately cold day with a clear blue sky at sunrise (perhaps over Druid Hill lake) is a great experience for running.  It helps to clear the mind as I don't have to worry about dehydration so much.

24-Teaching...goes along with storytelling.  But teaching has become more than just a career for me.  It has been something that I think about in terms of how to do it well in my leadership position.  It has become something that I focus an incredible amount of my energy on.  It even extends to St. Pius X as I have taught Sunday school for a decade. has brought me together with some very interesting people and made it so easy to get answers to questions to satisfy my curiosity that goes along with the storytelling and teaching.

26-Books...I love to read about ideas that people have found a way to string together in an extended format and to really explore ideas.  In addition to long conversations and telling stories of my own it is great to read what other people have thought and the ideas and themes they have explored.

27-Back on My Feet...while there are many aspects of running and I don't get to run with Back on My Feet as often as I would like any more, the number of stories and long conversations that came out of my participation in this organization is amazing.  Both resident and community members alike have amazing stories to tell.  And both symbolize hope.

28-Home...our house is not as big as we'd like.  Our house is not as neat as we'd like.  And our house has more issues than we'd like.  But it is the place we call home.  It is the place we come together to talk, to eat, to cook, to work, and to share.  And it is ours.  And it is home.  For me it is the home I have lived in longer than any other.  The only other place I really thought of as home was where I lived from 5th grade until I graduated from high school.  This home in Baltimore is the only home my boys have ever known. be out in it is just amazing.  And for me any question of whether there is a God was answered by seeing some of the sights of natural beauty.  While it is just a matter of faith my mind could not wrap itself around the idea that some of the natural wonders of the world arose completely at random.  Of course, other parts of nature may make me question the judgment of whatever God there may be, but nature is amazing.

30-Silence...this goes along with time, the NCR trail, running, St. Pius X, and many other items on my list.  Sometimes silence is all I need.  Silence to think. Silence to test how comfortable two people or a group are.  Silence just to experience the world as it is.  To watch.  To observe.  To take it in.  And to use what I learn in the silence to become better.

Reading through, I find that even my gratitudes are woven together to connect dots and tell a story.  I can't escape the desire to see things in a way that brings them together and closes a loop in my mind.  And those who read the whole thing will have a pretty good idea of what makes me tick.  

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