Untethered Dog

You Never Know Where He Will Go

Gratitude Journal

December 2019

10 Tuesday

  • Whoever cleared my sidewalk on a cold night.
  • Heat. My god the heat!
  • Being your own coach.
  • Taking it one day at a time.
  • Mobility practice.
  • Sun lamp light.
  • Memories of a funny night.
  • Brioche.

9 Monday

  • Car rides with my dog.
  • Pet store coupons.
  • Finding out you were wrong about someone.
  • Eye drops.
  • Brussel sprouts.
  • Insecurities. They ain’t all bad.
  • Feeling more secure in what you do and who you do it with at work.
  • Pillows.
  • Vulnerabilities. Where all the good stuff is.
  • Turkey without the stuffing.
  • Connection. Even if across states and time and ages.

8 Sunday

  • Days off.
  • Long mornings.
  • Extra rest.
  • More time with the little buddy.
  • When sleep gets in your eyes.
  • Water.
  • The washing machine.
  • Honesty.
  • The capacity to be honest when being honest might cost you something.
  • Nancy Pelosi.

7 Saturday

  • Free pizza.
  • Extra dough. Cash, that is.
  • A workout that energizes you.
  • Steak for breakfast.

6 Friday

  • Loss.
  • Facing fears.
  • Not holding on.
  • Not chasing.
  • Letting go.
  • Relief.
  • Learning from your actions. Not even learning from your mistakes, really, because sometimes the learning opportunities aren’t wrong actions per se — just instances in which you identify that it might be helpful to take a different tact at a future time.
  • The value of having and building equity in multiple areas. When you get disappointed by something in one area you can lift yourself up on the foundation of another area.
  • Coffee.
  • Momentum.
  • Being in a highly energized environment. It’s draining and intoxicating at the same time.
  • Sadness.
  • A cheeseburger after a stressful day.


5 Thursday

  • Dreaming of your little buddy finally catching the squirrel.
  • Late-night texts.
  • Morning naps.
  • Reading a mediocre memoir.
  • Writing during the work day.
  • Memories of past jobs.
  • Always having access to a piece of chicken.
  • Going weeks without spending money in the cafeteria at work.
  • Seeing progress as a saver.
  • Seeing progress in the form of a faster metabolism.
  • Seeing progress toward paying down a debt.
  • Darkness. Especially in the morning.
  • Motion sensor lights.


4 Wednesday

  • Three words: free chocolate milk.
  • Extra time to teach.
  • The chance to teach with writing.
  • Realizing you can handle another’s disappointment so well now. (Used to be a particular challenge for you.)
  • Steak and spinach salad.
  • Squirrels that still run around like it’s not winter.
  • Warm evenings for winter walks.
  • Your dog’s breath. Still on a great pace.
  • The chance to make a little extra cash before the holidays.


3 Tuesday

  • Busy days.
  • New opportunities.
  • Security.
  • Smiles.
  • Your breath.
  • Being enough.
  • Feeling pumped.
  • Baked beans.


2 Monday

  • Compost Days: days when you rest extra, yet remain gently active, writing and reading and letting life energy replenish.
  • Waking up alive.
  • Not giving in to fear.
  • Not reacting from the original wound.
  • Chicken drumsticks.
  • Clarity of purpose.
  • Spinach.
  • Choosing greater self-trust.
  • Looking out the window in the morning the day after it snowed almost all day and seeing the path you shoveled is still clear.


1 Sunday

  • Real conversation.
  • Sweet lips.
  • Calm canines.
  • Colby Jack cheddar.
  • Living the dream.
  • Dreaming the life.
  • Extra groceries.
  • Getting the groceries a day early so you don’t have to go anywhere on the usual day to get groceries, Sunday.
  • A day to rest. After the shoveling is done, of course.
  • Finishing a notebook.
  • Starting a new month.
  • Not being in a hurry.
  • Asking the right question at the right time.

November 2019

30 Saturday

  • Your past.
  • The present day.
  • Possible good times in the near future.
  • When you are enough.
  • Worshipping the right Gods.
  • Extra water.
  • The blahs.
  • Messing around in the gym at night.
  • The woman named Emma you talked greens with in the grocery store.
  • Naps.

29 Friday

  • Sleeping through the night.
  • A warm house.
  • The feeling of the side of your dog’s head on the side of your foot.
  • Stuffing.
  • Being able to talk about politics at Thanksgiving — among other real conversations.
  • Clear sidewalks.
  • Listening to David Frum, William Crystal and other conservative intellectuals talk with the integrity that comes from putting principle over party.
  • The chance to analyze your dreams.
  • A great visit to the the vet.
  • The morning routine.
  • Turkey the next day.

28 Thursday

  • Turkeys.
  • Chickens.
  • All birds for that matter.
  • Dogs.
  • Trees.
  • A clear (more or less) driveway.
  • Patrick Reusse’s Turkey of the Year.
  • George Conway.
  • Gyms that are open on Thanksgiving because when do you need to burn calories more?
  • Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Note the book John Candy’s character is reading the first time he talks to Steve Martin’s character. Ha!

27 Wednesday

  • Snow days.
  • A tidy house.
  • Wide awake at 3 a.m.
  • Power naps because 3 a.m.
  • Getting three significant things down at work in a span of 16 minutes.
  • Pumpkin pie.
  • The neighbor who clears your sidewalk.
  • The sound of Scott Russell Sanders’s voice on the page.
  • The day before a holiday.
  • The firefighter who stops her snowblower for you and smiles at you as you trudge on by through new snow.
  • A warm shovel.

26 Tuesday

  • Thanksgiving Day workouts.
  • The power of letting go.
  • The last frontier.
  • Early mornings.
  • Short weeks.
  • Potlucks.
  • High-fives.
  • Sporks.
  • Creamed corn.
  • Confrontation.
  • Your favorite hoodie.
  • David Corn.
  • Being your own influencer.

25 Monday

  • Complicated dreams. Dreams you can sink your teeth into.
  • Feeling things deeply.
  • Going to bed early, waking up early.
  • Aaron Sorkin.
  • The sensation of hunger.
  • Never having to be truly hungry.
  • Sleepiness.
  • Sadness.
  • Being excited to hear from someone.
  • Sun boxes.

24 Sunday

  • Delayed feeling.
  • The power of “I Am Enough.”
  • A great laugh.
  • An easy smile.
  • When you find yourself giggling a lot.
  • When the values you hold most dear serve you in direct ways during big days.
  • Bright red lipstick.
  • When the checkout guy at Trader Joe’s asks how your day is so far and you have to say that up until that point it has been pretty close to perfect, with writing and lifting and meaningful conversation and coffee and spending time with someone special and blazing a new trail (new to you) with your dog at the Falls. And now you have a pesto pizza to top it off.

23 Saturday

  • Lifelong challenges.
  • Being ready.
  • Carrying it all with you.
  • Putting it all to use.
  • Setting it all aside.
  • New days.
  • New ways.
  • Being enough.

22 Friday

  • Who you are now.
  • Hearing from someone special unexpectedly.
  • Buns with butter on them.
  • The healing power of a lacrosse ball that you roll over tender muscles.
  • Tuna-avocado-radicchio times two.
  • The end of the day and it’s way late, as you had to work late, and the dishes are done and you are done, you are fed, the dog is fed, and you both have moved enough so that you are able to be still. The music is right and you don’t want to do anything else or be anywhere else. You just hang with your dog, stroking his soft fur, and dream, waking-style, before you soon slip into the nocturnal dream state.

21 Thursday

  • The middle of the night. The hours between the days. Sirens in the distance.
  • When an Amazon locker comes to the convenience store a half a block away. You don’t order a lot but it is the world right now and what that will do to discourage people with dubious intentions from even driving down the street.
  • The Southwestern style.
  • The sound of rain on the roof.
  • Corn.
  • Sean Maloney.
  • Anxiety.
  • Days that fly by because you are immersed in writing.
  • Memory.

20 Wednesday

  • A healthy appetite.
  • Waking up in the middle of the night and realizing you can still sleep for three or more hours.
  • Warm November days.
  • Being able to go for two walks a day with your little buddy.
  • Routines.
  • Hard-boiled eggs.
  • Pull-over shirts.
  • Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.
  • What you learn when you teach.

19 Tuesday

  • The chance to teach a colleague.
  • The way the body knows, waking you up early and keeping you up all day, when there is something you need to tend to.
  • The bunny on the lawn before dawn that your little buddy chases off.
  • Early-week rest days.
  • A baked potato dipped in olive oil and sea salt.
  • Adam Schiff.
  • Happiness at home.

18 Monday

  • A good night of sleep. Cannot be rated highly enough.
  • Quiet moments at the end of the day with your dog.
  • Paring back. You wanted to do more but you did not have it in you to do it all.
  • Chicken wraps.
  • Cereal with pumpkin seeds in it.
  • Fresh sheets on the bed.
  • Baby arugula.
  • Doing push-ups all day, nine at a time.
  • Getting all the laundry done.

17 Sunday

  • The plants in my house. Even though I can’t name them.
  • The chance to read and write with my dog at my feet, content and asleep.
  • The urgency I feel now.
  • The chance to self-correct.
  • My job.
  • Good books.
  • Bad books.
  • Pizza delivered to my door.
  • Pam Houston’s “How to Talk to a Hunter.”
  • The large red spider I found in my basement the other day. May he be well on the other side of my walls.
  • My furnace.
  • Ray Carver’s “Cathedral.” I have read it at least four times over the years. Still fabulous. Bub!

10 Sunday
– The National Wildlife Refuge.
– The life of the dead mole we saw at the National Wildlife Refuge.
– Chocolate milk.
– A cozy home.
– The challenges ahead.

9 Saturday
– Seeing a bald eagle float through the air not very far from your head.
– Watching the Gophers win.
– Laziness. Another avenue to learning.
– The way you come alive when you are around people who also want to dig into the common challenges of being human.

8 Friday
– Decorating a space.
– When you can write about the past and not get worn out.
– Cardinals.

6 Wednesday
– Organizing a space.
– When you can write about your everyday and find yourself come that much more alive.
– Bluebirds.

5 Tuesday
– Two-walk November Tuesdays.
– Chicken sandwiches.
– Power naps.
– Recovering the day after a wasted morning.
– The sight of someone special.

4 Monday
– Having a lot of energy for the day.
– Getting so much done.
– The power of 10 minutes of meditation.
– French Toast.

3 Sunday
– Speaking truth to strangers.
– Saying what you have to say to a friend.
– Accepting the fact that you can’t reach some people at least some of the time — not excepting those you have reached before.

2 Saturday
– Showing up to the party and having a really good time.
– Pretty women who don’t act like they know they are.
– Adding carpet to the basement. Then watching your little buddy run on same.
– Cleaned out gutters.
– Motion-sensor lights with fresh light bulbs.
– Being ready for winter. As ready as you can be anyway.

1 Friday
– Making it another year above ground.
– Bringing donuts to work.
– A Baker’s Wife: the best donuts in town.
– The chance to teach a colleague.
– Working out with good guys: what a great way to start the day.

October 2019

31 Thursday
– When the cheap carpet actually perfectly matches the room.
– Birthday gifts that that simultaneously thoughtful and funny.
– Halloween.

30 Wednesday
– Finding a good doctor.
– Feeling listened to.
– Yoga during the work day.
– Hours that go by in a flash.

29 Tuesday
– Vulnerability.
– The good that comes from speaking your mind.
– Squared cereal.

28 Monday
– Smiles.
– The Mississippi River.
– The red in leaves.
– Feeling like maybe, possibly you are growing a chest.
– One tree full of red leaves in front of an old house.
– When you correct your posture and hear that faint click of bodily alignment. So satisfying.
– Weather just warm enough to walk in — with a hat, that is.
– Cheese-and-chicken sandwiches.
– Cottage cheese.

27 Sunday
– Having the gym more or less to yourself.
– The way you feel the writing in your body.
– Big sale at the co-op on a apple cider vinegar.

26 Saturday
– My dog. Born on this day 12 years ago.
– Visiting the old stomping — and sniffing — grounds because … birthday.
– Cheap carpet.
– Meeting a guy named Steve Martin. No, not that one. Not the wild and crazy guy. The one who knows about cheap carpet.
– Gorgeous fall days.

25 Friday
Productive Friday nights.

23 Wednesday
Opening up your email in the morning to find a note from a history professor at your alma mater letting you knowing your book is part of his curriculum.

22 Tuesday
– Going to the meeting.
– Meeting a maybe new friend at the meeting.
– Free dinner. Indian. And pizza. And shepherd’s pie.
– Having the cake, too, because why not? Did you mention … it’s free.
– Picking up your little buddy from the vet.
– When you get a free visit to the vet.

20 Sunday
– When tears come during a writing session.
– Authentic conversations.
– Going to a new coffee shop and discovering you are 400 feet from the otherwise out-of-the way pet supply you wanted to get to this weekend.

19 Saturday
– The woman who sang while you ate dinner at Hell’s Kitchen.
– The gin cocktails at same.
– Anniversaries: one year at home.

16 Wednesday
– The RE Store.
– All stores that are dog-friendly.
– A hungry dog.
– Finding a hose hanger for $3.50 plus tax.
– Making an old colleague laugh.
– “The Swimmer” by John Cheevers.

15 Tuesday
– Writing all day.
– Working out at home.
– Soaking in warm water.
– The letter W.

14 Monday
– Fall early evening skies.
– Writing in the day’s small spaces.

13 Sunday
– The Highland Water Tower.
– Sun that comes out just in time for the evening walk.
– Heavy squats.
– Making time for writing throughout the day.
– Keeping the grocery bill down. But still getting some chips for guac because those avocados aren’t going to eat themselves.

12 Saturday
Being the only one in the office with time to get caught up.

11 Friday
– Not having any bills to pay. At least not today.
– Going to an art gallery in the middle of a weekday.
– Seeing an art history graduate student at the gallery, there by herself, studying — the voluntary kind.
– Small Yukon gold potatoes, sauteed and smothered with salt.

10 Thursday
– Doing what you are meant to do. If only for part of the day. So energy-infusing.
– Davani’s pizza.
– Guessing right when the correct answer is Zellweger.
– Clean teeth.
– Walking in the rain.

9 Wednesday
A chance to teach.

8 Tuesday
A chance to learn about money.

7 Monday
– The Mississippi River.
– The drive over the Mississippi River.
– The woman with blond curly hair who smiled at you and also laughed at your joke. Sometimes a moment means more than that. Even when shared with a stranger.

6 Sunday
– A new rug. One with the perfect colors. The kindness of strangers.
– A side order of pancakes.
– When bad customer service is made right by good customer service.
– Driving by an old haunt.

5 Saturday
– Sharing your idea with a group and getting more good ideas than you know what to do with.
– Support. A little bit goes a long way.
– A clean house.

4 Friday
Removing all the clutter. Getting ready to clean.

3 Thursday
– Functioning headlights.
– Extra spaghetti.
– Having more energy at the end of a long walk than at the beginning.

2 Wednesday
Blue suede shoes.

1 Tuesday
Extra writing time.

September 2019

29 Sunday
– Rainy Sundays.
– Writing time with a friend.
– When your essay takes a new turn.
– Coffee shop conversation.
– Buttermilk pancakes.
– Having so much to eat you give some of your meal away.

28 Saturday
– Having something to push against.
– Strong arms.
– Reading a printed newspaper at the end of the day.

27 Friday
The whistleblower.

24 Tuesday
– Doing a really good, detailed job that makes someone else’s day a little easier.
– Being so immersed during gym time you nearly go past your allotted time.
– The Highland Park neighborhood.
– Car rides with the little buddy. He still gets as excited as a kid riding on a roller coaster.

23 Monday
– A great workout.
– Fantastic weather.
– The perfect-sized pizza.

22 Sunday
Your abilities to talk to people. Always more comfortable communicating with words on paper, recent signs suggest you can speak pretty OK, too.

21 Saturday
– New seasons.
– Hip bridges.
– Signs you are stronger.
– Mediterranean egg bake.
– Paprika. Not sure which is better — eating paprika or saying paprika.
– How easy it is to write now.

20 Friday
– Muggy fall days.
– Being able to walk to the store.
– Kemps chocolate-chip ice cream.

19 Thursday
– New parks you go to on a whim.
– Gas stations at night.

18 Wednesday
– Being able to wear shorts and Ts on long walks this late in the year.
– Feeling pumped up in those shorts and Ts while on a long walk this late in the year.
– Getting to write all day.

 17 Tuesday
– Healthy eyes.
– New opportunities.
– Having a friend with whom to share the good news.

16 Monday
– The chance to cry.
– Feeling something so deeply you can’t not.

14 Saturday
– Talking to a group of sensitive and thoughtful people and just feeling so alive with possibilities and personal insight.
– Having a good conversation with your hair cutter.
– Green tea in the afternoon.
– Making progress on something important.

10 Tuesday
– Finding a good cardiologist.
– Medical professionals who are patient.
– Being able to see your little buddy’s heart beat.

9 Monday
– Extra gym time.
– The feel of the bar.
– Doing a whole bunch of dead-lifts.
– Early walks.
– Rainy afternoons.
– Making it on time.

8 Sunday
Having a good person as a good friend.

7 Saturday
– Chuck Taylors.
– Making a whole room laugh.

6 Friday
– Squatting heavy and feeling the weight get lighter with each set.
– Sea Salt at night.
– Having someone else observe how many people so positively respond to your dog.

5 Thursday
Learning of another chance to teach.

3 Tuesday
– Old radio interviews.
– T.D. Mischke
– Overhead pull-throughs.
– Steak for breakfast. Oatmeal for lunch. Coleslaw for dinner.

2 Monday
All the people who worked so hard so that I wouldn’t have to work as long each week.

1 Sunday
– Anniversaries of milepost life events.
– Shared purpose.
– What happens when you try to help someone else: usually you help yourself more.
– Sitting by a big window while it’s raining hard.
– The last hour the grocery store is open.
– Old haunts.

August 2019

31 Saturday
– School supplies. Especially crisp, clean notebooks. Mead notebooks. Twenty five cents!
– Going back to school. Even if you are not formally enrolled.
– The chance always to learn anew, to start from the ground up, the beginner’s mind.

21 Wednesday
Hitting the sweet spot in the gym, between working too little and too much. Such a great way to start the day. Better than coffee, even. But, then, why choose?

20 Tuesday
– Chekhov.
– Taking a deep dive into a single short story in the company of thoughtful readers.
– Dark and heavy rain storms in the middle of a summer day.

19 Monday

– Intellectual stimulation.
– Having problems that need solving.
– The calm mind that comes from deep reading. Thank you, James Wood. I don’t always understand what you are saying but I do get rewarded by your turns nonetheless.
– Finishing an assignment and knowing it is a little better than good enough.
– The good that happens in your mind when you space your bodily workout throughout the day.

18 Sunday
When the words just come out and you hardly have to try.

17 Saturday
– Absolutely amazing mornings, with the sun coming up, the air clean and cool, dew on the ground, squirrels prancing on fence lines, and seemingly everyone out walking their dogs.
– Writing fast.
– Writing funny.
– Honesty.

16 Friday
– When you depart on a four-day break from your job and leave behind only a tidy small stack of work.
– Tackling tasks on the weekend to-do before Saturday even arrives.

11 Sunday
– People who wrestle with what it means to live well.
– Epictetus.
– When my little buddy stretches all four of his legs out as far as they go while he is sleeping.

10 Saturday
– Seeing a once familiar face in a strange place.
– The benefits of reading throughout the day.
– Meaningful conversations.

9 Friday
– D-load week.
– Realizing you have greater understanding of your limitations.
– Being asked to help someone important.

8 Thursday
– Fast work weeks.
– Late starts.
– Short dreams during short naps that give you a bit of assurance.

7 Wednesday
– Being able to spend hours outside during the workday.
– Connecting with colleagues.
– Free guacamole.

5 Monday
A stranger’s sweetness.

4 Sunday
– Shared purpose.
– Coffee conversation.
– Getting just what’s on your grocery list. Plus a cookie.

3 Saturday
– The power that comes from sharing of yourself with a group.
– The power that comes from hearing another share. You mean you really face that challenge, too?
– Fixing the air conditioner without having to pay for a service call.
– Kind neighbors with cool toolboxes.
– Being around people who make you want to be kinder and slower. One way you see it is in how you drive in less of a hurry.

2 Friday
– Strange days.
– Pay day.

1 Thursday
– That the false alarm fire alarm went off ten minutes before you went to work rather than ten minutes after.
– Understanding supervisors.
– The chance to show someone something you know a lot about.

28 July 2019

There is an upside to financial challenges: the need to scrutinize one’s choices. If you have greater monetary resources than are necessary you might think less about your purchases. Purchases result in the acquisition of things that must be used/cared for and the accumulation of commitments one must budget time for. There is freedom in restriction.

22 July 2019

I am keen on the natural gifts today:

– The expanse of green grass before me as I type these words.

– The sun that warms my shoulders.

– The robin nesting in the lilac bush to my left.

– The dog who makes a bed in the mulch beside me.

– The sounds of leaves cheering near and far each time the wind returns.

21 July 2019

Art Fairs at community celebrations are the best. Today’s: Highland Fest. First-time goer. Like most, it was free, in the sunshine, and had tents full of variety. Plus, you get to talk to artists, some of the coolest people on the planet.

21 July 2019

I am grateful for people who teach me the value of less. This might be someone in the popular media — in newspapers, on YouTube, or via a radio show/podcast. This could be a conversation with a friend or a colleague at work. Certainly, the wisdom of writers shows me how to spend …

… less attention on activities that do not align with my aims.

… less money on things I do not need.

… less time focused on images and in environments that do little more than divert and distract — and often depress.

The culture encourages more.

The culture conditions us to believe we need to acquire certain things and must do certain other things. The culture is not always correct.

Yet you don’t always know to consider what does not serve — what goes against your default settings — if you haven’t been taught.

Why I am thinking of those who, directly and indirectly, do that job. Even if they don’t know that they are.

To save time, money, energy — to retain or gain any of these precious resources — what a gift.

20 July 2019

Thank you, Patti Smith, for writing Just Kids. I read the last touching sections this afternoon. To summarize is to obscure but forgive me: a story of rare friendship, written in a way that is instructive and revealing a devotion to art that is inspiring. What a love note.

20 July 2019

There are few better ways to start the day than with back-squats. There are few better weather events than the moments before a storm.

This morning I had the chance to back-squat outside right before a rainstorm.

The program I am on at present called for supersets of barbells on my back and dumbbells loaded in front. I did a dozen or more reps on both ends of the set.

I burned, I sweated, I caught my breath below. The clouds above gathered and the wind blew.


17 July 2019

Thank you, baby rabbit, for greeting me on my way home from the gym this morning. And especially for nibbling on the pavement salad sprouting through the cracks of my driveway. I did not mind getting out of my car to see you squat there — did not mind waiting to pull in until you finished your breakfast.

9 July 2019

Being able to go for walks in the evening wearing shorts and T-shirts. Just slip on some shoes and go. This far into the summer it’s easy to take that for granted. You are reminded not to because on this night your buddy takes his time sniffing and peeing and maybe he’s soaking it up, too. At point, in the middle of a community garden he frequently guides you through, he stops for a minute and looks around. He has us you wait a few minutes and while you do he draws the interest of a lovely lady with long hair who squats to greet him and ask about him and make his tail wag before she resumes a stroll with her girlfriend and before the two of you leave the garden to find new things to sniff and pee on while walking slowly under the sun and in the comfortable warmth of the evening.

8 July 2019

Making all the lights. Such a satisfying way to go to back and forth to work on the first day following a long holiday weekend.