Untethered Dog

A Commonplace By Tom Swift

Gratitude Journal

April 2017

28 Friday
– Being so immersed in your work that the hours slip by.
– Climbing a long rope, straight up.
– Taking care of yourself.

27 Thursday
Having some extra time.

26 Wednesday
When the long walk to work becomes a dance thanks to the buds in your ears.

25 Tuesday
– What happens when you honor the rut: the dam breaks and the flood of expression flows.
– Surprising a friend with gift that makes her smile.

23 Sunday
– Days that are made for sticking your head out the window, whether or not you are a dog.
– Going to the zoo. Yeah, the zoo. Won’t soon forget the way that brown baby pig plopped down in the middle of a pile of white ones.

22 Saturday
– Feeling wanted and loved.
– Wanting and loving.

21 Friday
– Standing on the edge of a pond and seeing the geese come to you. Come to you!
– Feeling’ in the groove pretty much all day.
– Sitting in your shit. And being OK with that.

20 Thursday
What happens when you stop trying too hard.

19 Wednesday
Jazz in the woods.

18 Tuesday
– Mirrors.
– Extra-long smiles.
– Driving extra-long miles with an empty tank and making it safely.

17 Monday
A moment in your thinking when you see how naturally your instinct could kick in, has, in fact, started to kick in, a pinky toe of thought, that could and used to by default send you down a familiar and unflattering path, but instead you pause, you allow nothing to take hold, nothing, as if your palm opened after picking up some sand, and just then another thought, this one newer but known, fills in the void. That thought: the old one doesn’t hold any more. It does not … hold … any … more. You have this. You need nothing. You have this.

16 Sunday
– Sundays.
– Mornings.
– Warm sun and a light cool breeze while walking on a Sunday morning.

15 Saturday
– Emptying the tank.
– Snuggling with a furry friend in the afternoon with no particular place to go.

14 Friday
– Feeling like you’re fitting in somewhere new.
– Rainy nights.

13 Thursday
The good thing that happens when you let go.

12 Wednesday
– Moments when you are who you were meant to be.
– Moments when you are challenged to get back to that place.

11 Tuesday
– Watching your dog strut into his kennel, ball in mouth — ready for sleep, but staying prepared for more play.
– The return of evening walks.

10 Monday
– Acceptance.
– Writing time. The kind of writing that’s just for you.
– Steak night.

9 Sunday
– Talking to the neighbors about a running joke you have with a friend.
– Thinking of telling the friend what you found.
– Being with a curious companion.
– Receiving something angry — but not going there, too.
– Spring.

8 Saturday
– Clarity.
– Confusion.

7 Friday
– Stephen Wright. Live. After all these years.
– Being in the groove. At least for a few hours.

5 Wednesday
Hearing your friend react to the postcard you sent — the same way you figured he would react when you wrote it out the week before: Ha!

2 Sunday
Long walks with a happy dog.

1 Saturday
A friend who stitches your sweatshirt and makes it look better than it did when you bought it — then asks for nothing in return.

March 2017

31 Friday
– Flying late at night.
– Writing in small spaces.
– Being the shoulder for a tired cheek.
– Drawing in an unexpected place.
– Art that makes you cry.
– Being goofy.
– Surprising someone while being goofy.

30 Thursday
– Picking up red and white rocks during a long hike.

29 Wednesday
– Live music in a new venue.
– People who tell you things.
– Snow-capped mountains.

28 Tuesday
Late breakfast on a Tuesday.

27 Monday
Friendly faces you are meeting for the first time.

26 Sunday
– Eating at the airport.
– People-watching at the airport.
– Reaching a place you’ve only seen in pictures and finding it is even better than you expected.

15 Wednesday
Driving in the left lane … during a long and crowded morning commute … on a nervous morning … Tom Petty singing a new favorite … a song about a highway … and ahead … a half dozen cars all signal … they all merge to the right … the roadway opening up … as if the world is making space for you.

12 Sunday
The magic of touch.

11 Saturday
Mark Knopfler’s voice.

10 Friday
– The moment you realize you’ve turned a corner.
– What it means for you when you thank another.

9 Thursday
– Asking another to step up.
– One good glass of wine.
– The anticipation of a vacation.

8 Wednesday
Talking fast and free.

4 Saturday

A new place with good food. Including pizza.

3 Friday
– Sneaking an extra cup of coffee just because you need one.
– Listening to the internal rhythm.
– Realizing the right way is to calm down, slow down, let go, not hold on.
– Helping others with love.

2 Thursday
Sitting in the sun. In the cafeteria at work. Pen in hand. Time to spare.

1 Wednesday
– Learning at work that which matters.
– Getting things done even when the weather gets in the way.
– The power of appropriately applied anger.

February 2017

27 Monday
– New faces.
– Smart minds.
– Being you.
– It’s enough.
– Realizing you are where you should be.
– Having a reason to pinch yourself.

26 Sunday
– A dog that misses you when you’re 12 feet away.
– A friend who texts you from the same distance.

25 Saturday
– Moving weight fast in the morning.
– Not moving a muscle in the evening.
– Movie night.

24 Friday
– The calm of the night.
– The possibilities of morning.

23 Thursday
The transformative power of the movie theater.

22 Wednesday
– Clarity. It’s there — when you let it in.
– Realizing a rare connection.
– Two hundred lunges. No breaks.
– Lunch. On the menu: time with an old friend. You know you have to part but you also know it’s not goodbye.
– Feeling the fear. Moving forward anyway.

21 Tuesday
– Mexican meeting night. One last time.
– Hugs.
– The gift of laughter.
– Being around people who arouse that gift.

19 Sunday
– Kaki King’s video guitar.
– Low lights and live music.

18 Saturday
Making it to the comedy show.

17 Friday
– Running. Outside. In the cool of the morning.
– What happens when you say something hard and true.
– The anticipation of an evening stroll under the lights.

16 Thursday
– Waking up and feeling rested.
– Morning coffee. Even when it’s cold.
– Laughing before 5 a.m.

15 Wednesday
Cinderella Man. In the middle of the afternoon. “You can do it, Jimmy!”

January 2017

30 Monday
– Rest.
– Repair.
– Muddling through.

29 Sunday
– Katie, deliverer of chocolate chip pancakes.
– Spaghetti night.
– Sunday night.
– Movie night.
– Mark Ruffalo.

28 Saturday
– A drink when you need one.
– A second just because the first was so fun.

27 Friday

26 Thursday
Squatting 235 pounds 19 times in sixty seconds. Then squatting 235 pounds 20 times in sixty seconds.

22 Sunday
A coach who cares as much as you do about your progress.

21 Saturday
– Spontaneous movie break — and a good one!
– Laughter.
– What the eyes reveal.

20 Friday
– The half day.
– Feeling needed.

19 Thursday
Jerry Seinfeld. Live. An act that never gets old.

12 Thursday
– Steven Wright’s stand-up routine from the 1980s.
– The magic of YouTube: laughs when you need one.

9 Monday
– I don’t have Ebola and no one I know has Ebola, either.
– Lying down and watching a movie, my little buddy gnawing on a treat beside my leg, first a foot away, then an inch, then touching.
– The instinct not to decide before you’re ready to.
– Little sleep. Much angst. No smiles. Empty tank. Tough workout: squat cleans, enough to knock you down. Winning the day anyway.

7 Saturday

6 Friday
– A friend who cares.
– Another who asks.
– French toast.
– Work you can do well.
– Warmth, shelter, and a full belly.

5 Thursday
– The tire is flat, the shower won’t turn off — a constant stream of water! — the dryer’s on the fritz — what a start to the day — and — yet — you feel fine!
– Happy dog.

4 Wednesday
– What happens when you allow.
– What happens when you support another.
– Finding clarity while sifting through the muddiness.
– The energy of friends — specifically, smiles — at the start of the day.
– Pizza for breakfast.

3 Tuesday
– Using your feelings — all of them. Not just the easy, good ones.
– Self-trust: reading the internal compass during a moment you used to completely ignore it.
– Taking care of yourself, not just for the day but for the long-term.
– Happy faces returning to your world.
– Catching a small detail everyone else would miss.
– Messing up and then making it right.
– Friends who buy you coffee.
– Colleagues who give you a free breakfast.

2 Monday

1 Sunday

December 2016

31 Saturday
– Eating cereal. Are you kidding me? Yep, milk in a bowl with flakes and everything. First time in … who knows? Yum!
– Leftover pizza, too, because why not?
– Sharing with a friend.
– Cheering others on.
– Hearing another root for me. I mean, he really seemed to care.
– Pushing yourself to exhaustion. Then givenr’ again.
– Rare trust bestowed upon you.
– Hearing from a friend with whom you speak the same language.

30 Friday
Tough days. Really? Really. They show you what’s missing.

29 Thursday
– The day before a long weekend.
– Joking around with friends before most people in your time zone are awake.
– Looking into a friend’s eyes and sensing the friend noticing a difference in you that is real and that you like.
– Catnaps!

28 Wednesday
– Working through the mental muck, churning, churching, not stopping until … finally … clarity.
– Running errands and discovering a happy place, thanks to a bit of unforced honesty and a couple conversations with strangers.
– Alcohol tolerance. Caffeine tolerance. Angst tolerance. At least the last one shows signs of increasing!

27 Tuesday
– Waking up early and smiling under the covers … because you got enough sleep.
– Finding out that you are stronger than you thought you were.
– Picking up more weight than you ever have in your life — twenty-five pounds more!
– Watching movies more than once. Sometimes in the same week.

26 Monday
– Giving it all. Then getting up and giving it all again.
– Finding out you have more to give than you thought you did.
– Brownies for breakfast.
– Naps after breakfast.
– Guys who help you out of a jam and don’t take payment — even when you’re offering beer.

25 Sunday
– The story you expect to hear.
– Being challenged by the story’s teller in ways you did not expect to hear.
– The word mercy.
– Candlelight. And young Corey’s earnest help.
– Not leaving right away.
– The family of four assembles in a rush in front of the glowing tree. You know them only barely and yet in this moment you feel like you can see them at every age. Someday, the older son will razz the younger one for how in this moment he cocked his head and smiled like he had a harmonica in his mouth. Maybe the husband, the father, will remember how his wife, the mother, beaming at the camera while simultaneously gathering her twitchy family around, told him at the last minute, the picture-taker ready to do the duty, to take off his stick-on name tag, which he does, just in time, hiding it by wrapping it around his back and sticking it on his own butt. Stop there. The moment right there. Before the camera flash there is the other kind. You see it. Maybe more you feel it. The way this life is. Forty years in an instant.
– “Appalachian Spring” in the winter. Under the covers. Warmth all around.

24 Saturday
– The wisdom of the internal voice.
– Not talking over the internal voice.
– Writing early.
– Lifting heavy.

23 Friday
– When I can jump up and down and not get tired.
– Not chasing – even when it takes everything I got to hold me back.

21 Wednesday
– Evidence of increased resiliency.
– Opportunities for deep growth.
– Easy conversation. At the very right time. Twice.

19 Monday
– The Sun.
– Answers that find you rather than the other way around.

18 Sunday
– A new favorite place.
– Lifting the equivalent of a piano, over and over and over and over and over.
– What is revealed by the eyes.

17 Saturday
Naps. Plural!

16 Friday
– Sushi. Yep — again with the sushi.
– The Hickory Huskers.

15 Thursday
Beating Shute.

12 Monday
Laughing in the morning. Laughing to start the day!

11 Sunday
Two words: “Seinfeld” binge.

10 Saturday
– Me time.
– The first conversation with a new friend.

9 Friday
– Learning about the mystery of sleep.
– Choosing to go big.

8 Thursday
– Working at a place that cares about its employees.
– Having many people at work that you like to talk to (and laugh with).
– Being in a crowd and realizing — whoa! — no pressure.

7 Wednesday
– Finishing work that took you 15 weeks. Sweet release!
– Being nervous. And talking in front of a group anyway.
– Laughing with a friend during an otherwise underwhelming car ride.

6 Tuesday
After three years, finally hearing the words, “you’re good at that.”

5 Monday
– Waking early.
– Smiling easy.
– Working fast.
– Walking slow.

4 Sunday
– Working while in the sweet spot.
– Daydreams.
– Nap time.

3 Saturday
– Witnessing a woman struggle to pull herself up in front of a crowd, over and over.
– Observing a boy, cleaning his hands, apologize to his father for getting sick.
– Eating a new favorite: sushi!

2 Friday
– Being so happy you laugh for no reason.
– Making a friend laugh for a good reason.

1 Thursday
– An insightful person you interrupt your morning to see.
– A friendly face who makes a point to interrupt your afternoon.

November 2016

30 Wednesday
– Writing before 4 (a.m., that is).
– Winning without your best stuff.
– Not leaving any tools in the bag.

29 Tuesday
Squat day.

28 Monday
Opting for self-care.

27 Sunday
Opting for self-care.

26 Saturday
– New venue.
– Kind strangers.
– Music played with heart.
– The evening.

24 Thursday
– Writing on a holiday.
– A little good wine.
– Making the turkey at home.
– Not having to search for things to be grateful for.

23 Wednesday
Playing along sometimes.

22 Tuesday
– Taking care of something that has occupied too much psychic space for too long.
– Thanksgiving errands.

21 Monday
The clarity of fatigue.

20 Sunday
The clarity that comes following a day of rest.

19 Saturday
Squatting first thing in the morning. With heavy weight. For an hour.

18 Friday
– Caroline Campbell’s violin.
– Chris Botti’s drummer.
– The stage presence of musicians who are born to play.
– Led Zeppelin turning up where you least expect them.
– Being wrong about something — and finding out how.
– Gifted eggs.
– Showing up all day long.

17 Thursday
– The right amount of wine at the right time.
– Authentic conversation with a person who asks thoughtful questions.
– Getting home from work before dark. In mid-November.
– Walking without rushing to be anywhere.
– A hallway of trees.
– Giving away donuts.

16 Wednesday
Steam rises from the lake in the day’s first light and the echo of the moon’s glow from the just ended night. Geese convene in the chilled water, gliding over the reflection of still-green trees. Before you is a small figure. You know it is a rabbit. You see them often in this spot, just across the highway from home. The rabbit moves into the middle of the path, now coming into focus, as another enters the scene; she is closer to you than was the first, as your dog, not paying attention, sniffs in the grass behind you. Just then the first rabbit runs down the path, whoosh, down then out, dashing into the brush. The second stays, let’s you get closer, closer, that is until the dog stops sniffing the ground and gives her a chase. The second rabbit runs down then out, too, down the same path, down the same runway, to catch up to the first.

15 Tuesday
– A few minutes in morning. Just breathing. The little buddy resting his chin on my shin.
– The clarity of dreams.
– Acceptance.

14 Monday
The moon. Super or otherwise.

13 Sunday
Laughing so hard.

12 Saturday
– Honesty when it isn’t easy.
– Competition.
– Letting go.
– Speaking freely.
– Stabding at the correct distance.

11 Friday
– Watching a deer gingerly cross the street in front of your car.
– Stopping, waiting, yes, there is a second. Watching a second deer gingerly cross the street in front of your car. They are now together.
– Your own good work.
– Another’s healing hands.
– The calmness of night.

9 Wednesday
– “I’m sorry.” That’s all she says — the woman who usually only giggles at your lame jokes.
– “I’m sorry, too.”
– The hopeful words of a poet delivered by a decimated student.
– The long faces from Kentucky, Green Bay, Colorado, gathered outside your office. You can see them reaching for one another and even though you cannot hear their speeches or the words that pass between their hugs, their slow nods, their clenched teeth, and their tears speak so loudly.

8 Tuesday
– The quiet of the polling place.
– The energy of the polling place.
– The dichotomy of the polling place. All that rancor! All this silence. A few hushed tones between the helper and the helped.

6 Sunday
– Walking in the woods.
– Gorgeous morning.
– Catching the dog immediately before he rolled around in something stinky. Twice.
– The Work!

5 Saturday
– Sticking the neck out a bit!
– Realizing it’s seldom the next thing, even if that’s all you can do to get to where you need to be.

4 Friday
Free lunch.

3 Thursday
– Sleeveless in November.
– Morning yoga.
– Making someone smile.
– Learning how to be a better friend.

2 Wednesday
– Sleeping in.
– Goofing off.
– Making serious progress.

1 Tuesday
– Pizza slices bigger than your head.
– Spotting a friend far from home.
– The energy of an NHL arena.
– The number 44.

October 2016

31 Monday
– Mushy pumpkin guts.
– Memories of the holiday.

30 Sunday
Two girls. Two races. Two faces. One smiling, the other not so certain.

They pop out of a car. The driver stays inside. It is cool. Not late-October cold, but cool.

They have a minute to run to the jungle gym. They stop anyway. They cross the parking lot.

“Cute dog.”
“Can I pet him?”
“Thank you.”
This is Barry.
“Is that a Chihuahua?”
No. Just big ears.
Thank you.
“Have a nice day!”
Have a nice day!

29 Saturday
Making the drive. Four hours. To figure out one thing. One important thing.

28 Friday
– Moments of fearlessness. Even if rare.
– Mint chocolate-chip ice cream for breakfast.

27 Thursday
Free (second) breakfast.

26 Wednesday
– The little buddy.
– Running free.
– Playing ball.
– Eating what he shouldn’t. Extra helpings.

23 Sunday
– Going out of the way. Helping a little.
– Brunch.
– Stretching slowly on a Sunday morning.

16 Sunday
– Laughing.
– Not caring. Too much.
– Napping.
– Playing.

15 Saturday
Watching hockey.

14 Friday
– Showing up for the show.
– Needing ice cream — and finding some. And mint!

13 Thursday
Realizing you need something, after all, that you had wanted to do without.

September 2016

21 Wednesday
– Watching a friend go higher than she thought she could.
– Giving shit to a friend who gives it right back.

20 Tuesday
– Yoga. Well, the five minutes of shavasana at the end of yoga.
– 240 push-ups, 240 sit-ups, 4,000 meters of running.
– Finishing first.

19 Monday
Paying the bills. Really.

18 Sunday
– Art. Sun. Watching child light up over pottery.
– Dreams. Even the flickers that come during a catnap.

17 Saturday
Friends. Especially the ones that make you laugh.

15 Thursday
First yoga class since May. And a sweaty one.

14 Wednesday
– Helping a classmate.
– Research. It’s like so cool.

10 Saturday
Breaking through. Not always easy to do.

8 Thursday
– Work.
– Rest.
– Work.

7 Wednesday
Getting back to the work you need to do.

5 Monday
Not losing yourself when you easily could and almost did.

4 Sunday
– The State Fair.
– Turkey sandwiches.
– Skyrides. At night.

3 Saturday
– The right thing at the very right time.
– The kindness of a stranger.
– The guidance of a familiar voice.
– Everything coming together, if for only one lovely moment.

2 Friday
– Getting faster at the end of a long workout.
– The point at which anger takes over.
– Quick, strong legs that cannot be defeated.

1 Thursday
– Flow.
– Clean teeth.
– Being good at something.

August 2016

31 Wednesday
Walking to the car with a colleague. Easy conversation. Perfect early evening.

30 Tuesday
Catnap at noon.

29 Monday
One more day of summer hours.

28 Sunday
Watching an old movie with someone seeing it for the first time.

25 Thursday
– The chance to learn.
– To sit with others who also want to learn.
– Passing a milepost that in the past gave your reason to stop.

24 Wednesday
Friends first thing in the morning.

23 Tuesday
Catching up.

22 Monday
The woman who cuts my hair.

21 Sunday

20 Saturday
Lanterns at twilight.

19 Friday
The new season.

17 Wednesday
– August mornings.
– Rainy nights.
– Cowardice.
– Courage.

16 Tuesday

15 Monday
Finding the way back.

14 Sunday
Getting lost.

13 Saturday
Kevin Costner-styled sports flicks.

12 Friday
The primal scream.

11 Thursday
– Thursdays. Thursdays are good days.
– Morning storms.
– Pitching well even when you don’t have your best stuff.

10 Wednesday
New day. New energy. Maybe a little more than the usual amount.

9 Tuesday
– Facing fears.
– Pushing through.
– Making just enough room.
– Warmth. Sunshine. Slow walks.

8 Monday
– Pure life moments.
– Pausing long enough to know you’re in one.
– Lying beneath the clouds with my little buddy, letting the world go by.

7 Sunday
– The right work of art at the right time.
– Showing up.
– Faces that are friendly for no reason.
– Quiet, light laughter.
– Unexpected windows.

5 Friday
Early morning. Up early. Coffee made.

4 Thursday
– Morning rain.
– The wisdom of the body.

3 Wednesday
– Easy sweat.
– Going slow.

2 Tuesday
The concert to come. Tickets in hand.