Untethered Dog

You Never Know Where He Will Go

Gratitude Journal

7 July 2019

You were overdue to clean the fridge. You were up way early and the energy struck. Which, in the direction of fridge cleaning, seldom happens at any hour of any day. Really wouldn’t take that long. It’s Sunday; grocery day — we don’t got much in here anyway. So you cleaned the fridge, start to finish, before five a.m. What a light feeling the rest of the day: you open the door, realize again what you did, and sigh contentedly.

6 July 2019

You hesitated when asked. You are grateful to people who volunteer at animal control centers. But you do not like to visit them yourself. At shelters of any kind. And you heard less than good things about this one. You had driven by before and even that, just driving by, aroused unpleasant thoughts of what might be happening inside. You do not like to see dogs who do not have homes. You expect uncleanliness. You expect sad and lonely animals. You expect to be depressed. To walk away depressed. But you know you should go. This spontaneous opportunity — you would not have decided this but now that it is here you know the planned coffee with friends … that will go on without you. A few blocks from the pound you see a volunteer walking one of the dogs with the same colors as your dog — brown and white — but bigger with sleeker fur. There is some pit bull in there, must be. The volunteer’s body language is that of a person carrying out a chore. On the other end of the lead he the dog explores the world the way dogs do — all in an all there. You have agreed to go with a kind soul who fosters cats. The place is cleaner than you expected. After holding some kittens, giving out a little love, talking to a volunteer, and a couple who will go home with at least one more cat, they just can’t decide which one(s), you agree to go into the dog area, where you see the boy who had been on the walk on your way there. A few minutes later he will walk out the front door again — for the last time — this time with a woman who looks like the female human version of him, who is taking him home. She leaves to cheers from others who are in line. You will also meet a Mastiff who initially struggles to leave his cage but eventually does. Then sits with a woman who wants him. There is something not right with this big boy. Stress? Is it neurological? Two different volunteers use that word. The woman is on the phone. The Mastiff looks out a window. Turning around in an adoption room he bangs his head on a wall. You don’t wait to see how it turns out. Good things are happening. You have more love to give and you should be like these creatures and caretakers and not hold it back.

5 July 2019

To the woman working at the craft store … watching YouTube (or some such) as you approach her desk with your questions … who does not turn off the YouTubs (or some such) as you ask your questions … questions you ask at length not knowing exactly what you are looking for … as she slowly lifts her head away from the screen, listens to each of your questions, not wanting to get up to show you things but doing it anyway … revealing a space between where the back of her shirt ends and the top of her jeans begin, a window into her backside that is altogether lower than she probably intends … and while she is more comely than she might give herself credit for this is not sexy but makes you see her as you are and we all are — as real and flawed and not exactly put together as we might always like … you hope some day the smile she never shows you comes out, stays out — that she finds work that lights her up brighter than the screen you just took her away from.

24 June 2019

To the young rabbit nestled in the grass next to my home who greets me upon my return from the gym in the morning, sweaty and ready for the workday …

… and the slightly older rabbit, on its hind legs, perched on the step of the house across the street, regarding me, as I pull down my bed sheets, ready to rest at the end of the same day …

The thought occurs that you are one in the same, that you moved over there to get a better view. You are the embodiment of the symmetry and symbolism of my waking hours. More likely you are two — two cousins — dual-effort reminders that I am one, too.

To you guides who show the speed of the days as contrasted by the stillness of the moments … thank you.

14 June 2019

After coming back from a fifty-minute walk your little buddy sprints down the line of the fence to chase a squirrel racing down the top, prompting the squirrel to leap onto a tree branch — six feet up being not high enough for comfort. Then he, the little buddy, sprints back into the yard, turns, and sprints with the ball you just rolled his way, pushing that bigger-than-his-head-ball with his nose, sans break stride, popping up when the ball bounces, getting low when the ball rolls, adjusting when the ball runs into the fence, playing it off the wall (as they say in baseball), coming back the way he came, ball still with him — up, then down, left to right, yeah, buddy, go — as he growls the growl he’s earned, the growl that comes with the DNA for play. After all these years he still has that mojo. He still can make the moment. He shows you that.

May 2019

 31 Friday
– Sweet ladies at the DMV. They do exist. You have proof.
– Long workouts with chocolate milk after.

30 Thursday
– Buying just the right amount of mulch.
– The person who invented the sprinkler.
– Your therapist.

29 Wednesday
– Extra sleep.
– The Dairy Queen.
– The one-eyed dog you saw at the Dairy Queen. So sweet. So ready to play. Further proof that dogs are the best.
– The way the unconscious comes up with way better solutions than does your monkey mind.
– Walks that veer off course.
– Comedy clubs.

28 Tuesday
– A rush of adrenaline to tackle projects early in the a.m.
– Itty bitty birds.
– Warm nights with nothing that you particularly have to do.

27 Monday
– Greasy burgers and good fries.
– Left-hand milk stout.
– Rainy days.
– Enough of a break in the rain to take a walk. You aren’t into this one but it’s good for you nonetheless.

26 Sunday
– The Trylon.
– The Coen Brothers.
–  Walks after the sun has already gone down.
– Second winds.

25 Saturday
– Mid-day coffee.
– Thrift-store shopping.
– Writing funny. The effect it has on you.
– Wasting time.
– Afternoons that are the perfect balance of warm and cool.
– Your father.

24 Friday
– Happy returns.
– Detours.
– Patient customer service people.
– The mouse who poked his head out at the garden center this afternoon.
– Opportunities to learn to delay gratification.
– Extra rest. Just need it now.

23 Thursday
The day before vacay.

22 Wednesday
When a problem gets solved for you — like that — poof, it’s gone.

21 Tuesday
– Kind people who work at vet clinics.
– The power of speaking out when someone does you wrong.

20 Monday
– Green grass.
– Night lights.

19 Sunday
– A sweet call.
– A day without the phone on.

18 Saturday
– Thunderstorms.
– Free lawn watering.
The Sun. The magazine. Note that this is no slight against the celestial body of the same name.
– Extra rest.
– Moments of calm.
– Moments when you want nothing and fear nothing.
– Being nervous and excited to see someone.

17 Friday
The anticipation of a rain storm.

16 Thursday
Taking time to breathe in the world with your buddy by your side.

15 Wednesday
– Finishing an essay.
– Earning a promotion.
– Some days are just bigger than others.

14 Tuesday
Mornings when it doesn’t take long to write long.

12 Sunday
– Making your own rainbow when you turn your hose just so.
– Cool but clear and comfortable mornings that are made for walking with your little buddy.
– Spinach and egg scramble, with garlic and onions.

11 Saturday
– Pulling weeds from the ground.
– Green grass.
– The little critter you see crawling in your grass.
– Finding flowers early.
– The discoveries of spring.

10 Friday
– The good that happens when you ask for what you need — even if you don’t exactly get it.
– When you wake up and feel good about the conversation you stayed up late to have the night before.
– Minnehaha from below the Falls.
– Meeting a woman named Siri — a real one, not the one who lives in your phone.
– Talking on the phone.

9 Thursday
Lenny’s Cookies. Chocolate chip, of course.

8 Wednesday
Think Thin bars. Brownie crunch is where it’s at.

5 Sunday
The Russian Museum of Art. Sundays are good days to look at art.

4 Saturday
– Meditation time.
– Seeing your breath in the early morning hours and yet it’s not all that cold out.
– When it’s a bunny bonanza during the morning walk.
– The DavidPal 36.
– Meeting a fellow writer and talking easy about everything that comes.
– Gerten’s.
– Ice baths.

3 Friday
– Easy people.
– The Fish Philosophy.
– Making funny at work.

2 Thursday
The month of May.

1 Wednesday
– Watching a fox amble in the early morning light.
– Spotting two rabbits watching you on the mid-morning walk.
– Getting your squats in. And the rest of the reps, too.
– Making mindfulness progress. Finding practical applications.
– Speaking up.
– Listening well.
– Exploring an area of the neighborhood for the first time.
– The promise of chocolate.

April 2019

30 Tuesday
Cold showers.

29 Monday
Cold baths.

28 Sunday
– Walks along the Mississippi River.
– Light-jacket weather.
– Good coffee, better conversation.
– Getting your workout in after a couple crabby days off (you had to take).

27 Saturday
– Extra time to stretch.
– Extra time to write.
– Extra sips of coffee.
– Full bags of yard waste.
– A full fridge.

24 Wednesday
– Surprising someone.
– New life in the form of budding plants.
– Sudden death in the form of overtime hockey.

23 Tuesday
– Rabbits.
– What you can do to get a quick workout in with just a couple of rubber bands.

22 Monday
– Lactose-free yogurt.
Rain.
– Hard things.
– Grass.
– My fence.
– Kale.
– Himalayan pink salt.
– Ginger paste.
– My home.
– The Earth.

21 Sunday
Iodine.
– Good grocery store customer service.
– Egg and bean burritos.
– The mist at Minnehaha Falls.
– Mark T. Bedard.
– Trees.
– People who remind you to come back to this moment and not resist anything.

20 Saturday
– Fatigue.
– Free tables.
– Freedom.
– Fish.
– Kind strangers.
– Naps that feel like they were all day when really they were like an hour.
– Trying a new restaurant.
– Being invited to a party.
– Unexpectedly being able to check things off that had been on your list for a long time.

19 Friday
Sharing an accomplishment with your colleagues.
– Buying a card for someone who won’t expect it.
– Bringing just enough food to get you through the work day so you don’t have to spend money at the cafeteria.
– Egg and avocado sandwiches.

18 Thursday
– Overdue haircuts.
– Special ordered doughnuts.
– Swiping clean that nearly impossible-to-reach corner on the far, low side of your claw foot tub. So satisfying to see the dirt on your rag rather than on the floor.
– Learning about running.
– Making all your squats.
– Lifting a little extra.
– Leisurely coffee on a weekday.
– Putting the recycling out a whole eighteen hours early.

17 Wednesday
– Mornings at the gym you set aside as play time — time to work on form, stretch a bit, and hit a few reps in some challenge areas, priming the pump, starting the momentum for tomorrow’s time to push.
– Knowing that is all you have to push tomorrow. Thank goodness for PTO!

16 Tuesday
– Late walks.
– The bunnies that greet us as we stroll through the neighborhood at night.
– Long mornings.
– A long-anticipated appointment.
– A week that breaks the routine.
– A happy dog.
– Seeing the neighbor outside without a shirt on after sunset. Editor’s note: a detail shared entirely as a way to affirm the warmth of the night.

15 Monday
The taxes that pay for our roads and bridges and schools and laws and courtrooms and even the street lights that guide us home in the middle of the night.

14 Sunday
– The Weisman Art Museum.
– Sun that warms a large room.
– The Minneapolis skyline.
– Good conversation.
– Tiger Woods.

13 Saturday
– Working all alone.
– Rhythm and blues.
– Cheap pizza and chocolate chip ice cream and a cheeseburger because what would cheat day be with them?

12 Friday
The chance to teach.

11 Thursday
Minnehaha Falls. Even when it is cold outside.

10 Wednesday
– Feeling confident when you ask questions about things you don’t know.
– The NHL playoffs.

9 Tuesday
Phone conversations in which the only goal is to talk. You know, like people used to do.

6 Saturday
– The sound of rain on the roof.
– Mid-morning naps. Sometimes you need a little extra sleep to recover from the week that was. Get it and you are good to go.
– Connection.
– Disconnection.
– Long talks at the coffee shop.
– Albert Camus.

5 Friday
– Feeling comfortable at work.
– Asking for advice. Getting it. Learning because of it.
– Gym mornings in which you can just play around and practice. You don’t have to hate it — it doesn’t have to be hard — in order to make gains.
– Getting your reps in in other ways, too: another day of doing what you do. The experience, the knowledge, it’s accumulating, even if you don’t see it in the every day.

4 Thursday
– Chicken salad wraps.
– Seeing bunnies scurry across the alley in the morning.

3 Wednesday
– Finding a kind and capable dentist.
– Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
– Tony Kornheiser.

2 Tuesday
– The sweet, stocky dog who sits, at attention, as you and your little buddy walk on by. May he be untethered soon.
– The single leaf that floats in front of your door, riding a wave of wind.
– The man that goes by Moon Dog.
– Sunlight in your dog’s eyes.

1 Monday
– Reminders that prompt you to buckle down and focus anew on something important to you.
– Difficult days.
– What anxiety says.
– The houses on 44th Avenue.

March 2019

31 Sunday
– A certain guy named Larry who remembered your name.
– Sitting in the back pew in a church that is new to you.
– Finding out a given place isn’t the right space for you. Check one more off the list.
– Cod sandwiches.

30 Saturday
– Sunlight.
– The sensation of being open and ready to learn.
– A boosted metabolism.
– Hazelwood’s rotisserie chicken.
The Social Network.
– Reading about philosophy.
– Marcus Aurelius.

29 Friday
– A solid plan for the weekend.
– The Friday night unwind.
– Suddenly being able to process more protein.
– Seeing how excited your dog is to sniff fresh ground — nearly every inch of the park.

28 Thursday
Making a former colleague laugh.

27 Wednesday
Palpable signs of increased (but quiet) confidence.

25 Monday
– Waking up with a juicy dream to write down.
– Spring walks before dawn.

24 Sunday
– Watching your little buddy run on a golf course. Playing through!
– Making it through Trader Joe’s quickly — just like you said you would, unlike what you usually do.
– Failing on the last deadlift and being just fine with that.
– Brazil nuts.

23 Saturday
– Forgetting something at the gym, walking back inside to get it, running into someone with a happy smile you otherwise would have missed.
– Writing time.
– Talking time.
– Coffee time.
– Steaming hot pot roast with medallion onions.

22 Friday
Staying a little late on a Friday to help out.

21 Thursday
A free piece of pizza.

20 Wednesday
Sharing time.

17 Sunday
Finishing a good book.
– Trying a new kind of coffee in your old French press.
– Seeing almost all of the snow, just days ago piled so high, nearly vanished from the roof of your garage.
– Looking up and seeing your dog walk on the snow. What’s the big deal? It seems like it’s been so long since that snow wasn’t his Kilimanjaro.
– Consignment shops.
– Finding a new pair of jeans.
– Long walks through puddled sidewalks.
– The good that happens when you follow the energy.

16 Saturday
– Going to a new coffee shop.
– Connecting with fellow writers.
– Being able to go for a walk with your dog and pick up his poop without freezing your hands.
– The man at the library who has the morning newspaper in-hand as you walk in but immediately offers you sections.
– The calm of the library.
– The reward of a fixed toilet.

15 Friday
– Being funny with someone you don’t know.
– Getting something wrong for a good reason.
– The raccoon you could have easily run over had you not pumped the breaks when you saw the 6 a.m. shadows. Poor thing sliding around on the ice: he looked up at you after you stopped as if wondering where his skates were.
– Seeing the same raccoon saunter up the walkway of the house before you with a gate that said: “I’ve had enough of this. I’m going back inside.”

14 Thursday
Being able to negotiate your car down a Minneapolis alley. For two-plus days, that seemingly simple thing … not possible given the height of the ice and the depth of moats of water running as wide as your tires.

13 Wednesday
– A safe, dry home.
– Inner strength.
– Dreams that challenge you.
– Challenges to your dreams.
– More clarity than you’ve ever had as an adult.
– Daily challenges to staying on that path.
– Journalists. The real ones. The ones that go after the truth, chasing a story for weeks, months, sometimes years. It’s possible they have never been more important.

12 Tuesday
– Laughing before 5:30 in the morning.
– Making up the lost hour of sleep from Daylight Savings.
– The moment you pour hot water into the French press and the coffee soaks and steams.
– The mental health effects reading good books.

11 Monday
– ACE hardware. Because you know you can walk in there with your mistake in hand and that they will help you fix it.
– Taking Monday off.
– Full body workouts.
– Finding a new way to track your food.
– Extra sun in the living room.
– The smell of ginger chicken in the crockpot.
– Chocolate milk. What a treat. Been so long.

10 Sunday
– Heavy sleep.
– Heavy snow on light tree branches.
– Digging out from a snow storm first thing in the morning.
– The philosophical work of Elizabeth Anderson.

9 Saturday
– Library meeting rooms.
– Being able to check out fifty things from a library at one time. Fifty!
– Perspective: yeah, this winter has been hard. But life circumstances for people experiencing winter across history … not even close.
– Extended writing time with others. Shared experience, shared purpose.
– The amount of good you can get done in a span of five minutes.
– Fried fish sandwiches.

8 Friday
– Morning naps.
– Reading in bed.
– Free time with plenty to do.

7 Thursday
– People who make you laugh.
– Getting things in order before you take a break.
– Showing up.
– Showing up early.
– Finding a new comedy club.
– Chocolate stout beer.

6 Wednesday
– Carbs. It’s not a dirty word. It’s not an illicit action to eat them. There’s a reason to eat them, even beyond the need to occasionally find comfort. You don’t believe all the hype. There is almost never only one way.
– Feeling ready to speak your mind to the world.
– Preparing to see a friend.

5 Tuesday
– Doing what you need to even when the world puts up road blocks.
– Not trying to rely on those who aren’t reliable.
– Knowing you made a wave and being OK with that.
– Signs that a seasonal corner has been turned: temps are heading in the right direction, the sun is out longer, melting will soon occur.
– Kind front-line vet staffers. There is a special place in heaven.

4 Monday
Starting a new workout program. And it’s all on you.

3 Sunday
Finding new ways to self-start, self-motivate.

2 Saturday
– Helping out a sick colleague.
– Helping out kind, elderly women.
– Being mostly alone for a few hours at work.
– Scratching all the items off your to-do list (redux).

1 Friday
When the official piece of paper arrives in the mail, saying you earned the prize.

February 2019

28 Thursday
– Learning something about trees.
– Getting all snow off the roof.
– The end of a challenging month.

27 Wednesday
– Getting to work safely. Because you couldn’t say you’re grateful you got to work on time. Not when the highway is a parking lot like that.
– Getting to spend your days fumbling with words.
– Anniversaries.
– Bosses who praise you.
– Working at a place where people share of themselves.

26 Tuesday
Facing a fear. Then finding out the fear was for naught. Is there a greater source of energy to be found in all of the universe?

25 Monday
Extra writing time in the morning.

24 Sunday
– Digging into a good book.
– The Sunday breakfast burrito. A new tradition.
– The Sunday newspaper. An old tradition.
– When your mechanic calls on you on a Sunday to tell you he can get the job done sooner. I mean, seriously.
– Cauliflower.

23 Saturday
– Jimmy Shubert.
– Seeing a new stand-up for the first time that you would see for a second.
– Showing up to the group outing. Leaving at the right time for you.
– Soaking up the night on the way home from a show.
– Stopping by the coffee shop just to see who is playing tonight.

22 Friday
– Laying low.
– Ankle weights.
– An orderly room.
– Extra time with your best friend.

21 Thursday
– Speaking up.
– Realizing that no one else knows it all, either.
– Ron, your mechanic. What a fantastic fellow.

20 Wednesday
– The chance to teach.
– Getting the snow moved. Again.
– The storytelling powers of Tracy Kidder.

19 Tuesday
Look how fast February is flying by! Doesn’t seem like it now but it will be spring before you know it, buddy.

18 Monday
– Small meals.
– Arriving early.
– Humidifiers.
– Hot tots.
– Tartar sauce.

17 Sunday
– Getting lost so that you can find yourself.
– The myriad ways at your disposal to readily learn. Reading a printed book still being among the best of these.

16 Saturday
– Librarians and library aids. So sweet. So helpful. One in particular today.
– Weather warm enough to walk in. Finally.

15 Friday
– Pizza Night.
– Parkway Pizza.
– The hour you take eating pizza, reviewing the calendar, scribbling notes, so as to move from weekday mode into weekend chill — from structured requirements to unstructured enjoyments.

14 Thursday
– Chocolate fountains.
– Graham crackers.
– Fun days at work.
– Love.

13 Wednesday
Squirrels that run into the road and up the snowbanks, around bushes, down trees, stopping their play only long enough to look at you as you drive by.

12 Tuesday
– The light rail.
– Moments when you connect and share and suddenly experience an attitude change. So much can happen with one touch of the thread.

10 Sunday
– The self-healing power of a body.
– The self-cleaning power of an oven.
– Having enough cash at the register to keep the card in the wallet.
– Compound interest.

9 Saturday
– Michael Moore movies.
– Getting up and shutting ‘er down: we give up, Mother Nature. You can have your snowbanks and icy-covered sidewalks today. We’re staying right here.
– A young woman named Hazel who inexplicably recalls your dog’s name weeks after meeting him, and immediately gives him some love.
– Knowing that when you are out in the world your dog makes so many people smile.
– A thoughtful article about a subject you really don’t usually have much desire to spend time reading about, cannabis, and, really, it’s more about our values than anything else.

8 Friday
A rare quiet day at work. And just when you need it. You are cold and worn out: the polar vortex is gonna getcha, getcha, getcha.

7 Thursday
– The positive results you can get from good old-fashioned toe-touchers.
– Just feeling like a million bucks all day … that is, until you slip and fall on the ice at late in the evening. Nothing is perfect.

5 Tuesday
– People who do good journalism.
– People who plow snow.
– People who take care of dogs.

3 Sunday
Turkey meatball sandwiches on grilled, buttered brioche.

2 Saturday
When the words just come out easy.

1 Friday
– Being trusted with a sensitive assignment.
– Knowing when you need a break.
– Making memories new again.
– Having a smart gut.

January 2019

31 Thursday
– When it’s a thousand degrees below zero and you pull up to your gym at 5:04 a.m. and not only is the place open, the same faces are there.
– Au revoir, January.

30 Wednesday
– Positive feedback.
– Negative feedback.
– Feedback from a person you trust.
– Feedback you give yourself in the day after the usual kind.

29 Tuesday
– A warm place for your little buddy to be during an otherworldly cold day.
– The experience of once-in-a-generation cold temperatures.
– Knowing that cold is going away soon.

28 Monday
– Koalas.
– People who care about koalas.
– People trying to save the planet.

27 Sunday
– A few bites of blueberry and almond French toast.
– A day to just be. A day to read and write and think and sleep and eat and honor that way you best connect with the world.

26 Saturday
– Driving by people in the ditch thankful it is not you.
– Long drives on behalf of your little buddy.
– The clarity that comes when you do not eat food.
– Heat that isn’t yet in the room but soon will be.

25 Friday
– The perfect sized pizza for you.
– Finding a new pizza place that you actually like. Strange but true that in recent years this has not been easy to do.
– Early evening naps, late evening productivity.
– Paying bills. It really does feel good — not just to check off an item on the to-do list but to meet your obligations. Better, really, than not even having those obligations.
– Reading time.
– Writing sarcastic comments to a book’s author in the page margins.

24 Thursday
– Baked potatoes for breakfast.
– Baked potatoes with extra sea salt.
– Baked potatoes dipped in steak juice.

23 Wednesday
Knowing your dog really likes someone in particular that he gets to spend time with today.

22 Tuesday
When the fog of stress is lifted and you are interested in almost everything all at once.

21 Monday
– The energy that follows self-expression.
– Evening naps. It’s a thing.
– Speeches that move you decades after they were delivered.

20 Sunday
– A rare day in which you scrap your plans and just get a whole lot of rest.
– Woodward.
– Bernstein.
– Cold days.
– The body repelling something it doesn’t need.
– The mind resisting something that doesn’t serve.
– Sebastian Maniscalco clips on YouTube. Instant laughs when you needed them.
– Baked lemon-pepper chicken.

19 Saturday
– The black dog.
– A clean dog.
– Writing practice.

18 Friday
– Homemade hamburger buns. Such an under-rated item.
– Nice eyes. Eyes you can talk to.

17 Thursday
Having a rich imagination. It can sometimes get you in trouble, no doubt. But oh the places you can go!

16 Wednesday
– A place you can trust.
– The freedom to go.
– Speaking out loud.
– Not trying too hard.
– Not thinking so much.
– Learning a new way to make a baked potato.

15 Tuesday
– Reading the New York Times — a print copy, that is.
– Getting through a stressful day and ending it with laughter.
– It’s so warm.

14 Monday
– Comfortable evening strolls in the middle of January.
– Finding a reason to make a friend laugh.
– Waking up and feeling lighter than you were when you went to fell asleep.
– The compound effect of daily reps.
– Sweet potatoes cooked so long they melt in your mouth.

13 Sunday
– Returns. They are always happy. Except when you have the wrong receipt. But in the end, it is almost always good to have less of whatever came from a store.
– The Riverview Theater.
– Turkey meatballs.

12 Saturday
– A whole day of articulating yourself with written words.
– Working with someone to solve a problem when the person could easily be upset or impatient but is neither and then, finally, after days of trying, you reach resolution for this person and you convey that resolution with complete confidence and from that small place in you in that is complete kindness. It’s one of those exceedingly rare moments in this life when it truly is all good.
– Alpha waves.

11 Friday
– Small moments of human connection. Oh gosh, it’s so big for you.
– Realizing that without vulnerability those small moments don’t happen.

10 Thursday
– Working the legs hard. Seeing it payoff. Feeling it. In your thighs, in your butt. The legs feed the wolf, as the great Herb Brooks used to say. Indeed.
– An impromptu date night with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. You bring the fish-and-chips and Bailey’s (just a small sip for you). She brings the funny. Perfect.

9 Wednesday
– Active recovery day.
– The great good that can come just by using some resistance bands for fifteen minutes.
– Great big salads with cabbage crunch and yummy, not-awful-for-you dressing. At least once a day, for sure.
– Tired dog, tired you, home and warm in the evening and snuggled close. Exhale.

8 Tuesday
The regularity of a predictable schedule.

7 Monday
Being excited to run into someone.

6 Sunday
– What happens when you focus on the most important things at the start of the day.
– Red squirrels.
– Live sports.
– Meal prep.
– Your sigh after you return home after being gone for a few hours.
– A few small bites of French toast with maple syrup glazed on. Just a few.

5 Saturday
– Being in a room full of writers.
– New connections over coffee.
– The energy unleashed when you don’t eat for 18 hours.
– A clean home.
– Sidewalks you can walk on again. Though ice should not be melting in Minnesota in January.
– Forty degrees never felt so good.
– Crock-pot chicken.

4 Friday
– The way one small conversation can brighten your day.
– Car rides with your little buddy. He’s still always so excited to go.
– Don’t tell anyone but 494 is not as crazy-busy in the mornings as it used to be.

3 Thursday
– That your mother was born.
– Reaching the end of this day. So busy at work. Been a long week. Truly a hump day. Pass the carbs.
– Black squirrels.

2 Wednesday
– Spending most of your day manipulating words.
– Seeing pictures on your break during work that make you happy.
– Crashing on the couch after dinner.
– Bran flakes mixed in honey yogurt. It’s a thing — you didn’t you know?

1 Tuesday
– Holiday pay.
– Gyms that are open on new year’s day.
– Having extra time in the morning.
– An easy start to the year.
– Waking up without a hangover.
– Being ready for what is to come.

December 2018

31 Monday
The safety and comfort of home, especially when you have extra snacks.

30 Sunday
– The sound of a tank filling with water.
– The love in dogs’ hearts.
– Being unexpectedly immersed in something on a Sunday morning.
– Sparkly snow.

29 Saturday
– The man at the hardware store you knew would know.
– Who knew new sink strainers could make you so happy?

28 Friday
– Having a good, fair, kind, affordable mechanic in your life.
– Finding the faucet you ordered sitting on the front step.

27 Thursday
– New tires.
– Figuring out a way to save two hundred bucks on tires.
– Easier commutes than you expect on a sleety weekday.
– Managers who take time to talk to their employees.

26 Wednesday
– Noticing that you make difficult decisions faster than you used to.
– Back to work and it feels like you’ve been gone for well more than the five days you had off. Ahh-umm.
– The short week has a long week’s worth of stuff left to do in it. But OK. You’ll plow through.
– Broccoli slaw. With a little extra dressing. Yeah, you use dressing.
– Long walk. In the evening. Not too cold. New area of the neighborhood. Done minutes before the snow flies.
– The way your hands feel stroking your dog’s fur at the end of the day.

25 Tuesday
– Gyms that are open on Christmas.
– Finding the new weight belt you bought three days after you left it near the rack. Merry Christmas to you!
– Quiet Christmas mornings.
– New coffee to try in your French press. Mmm.
– Doing a hundred back-squats with your body weight on your back and feeling fine.
– The resources at your disposal to learn things.
– The anticipation of what is supposed to be a good movie.
– A crowded theater but spots open in the middle.

24 Monday
– Epigenetic researchers.
– Losing 2.4 pounds (this week).
– Losing twenty pounds (seven-plus months).
– Lasagna-smothered bread.
– Unexpected candid conversations.
– Sunny afternoons made for walking.
– Christmas Eve night.
– All the good that happens in your body when you don’t eat for sixteen or eighteen hours.

23 Sunday
– Thin layers of snow.
– Hot ginger tea.
– Coffee shop writing time.
Charlie Brown Christmas music.
– Live jazz. Even if you can’t see the musicians.

22 Saturday
– Cleaning floors. Even in the corners where all that dust and lint and gunk collects.
– Being ready for Christmas.
– Learning about car tires.
– Taking walks in the winter evening, seeing the lights, not in a hurry to get home, it’s so comfortable out!
– Sipping Bailey’s Irish cream.

21 Friday
– Churches that do Winter Solstice services, which, let’s face it, is the reason for the season.
– Being in a night-dark sanctuary with a thousand other people who also hold lit candles.
– Visiting a new (to you) grocery store, one that is manageable in size and staffed by faces and you meet with easy smiles.
– Paying a big bill. Two of them, actually.
– Solving a financial dilemma that has been hanging over your head for weeks.
– Using your rage with calm. She didn’t mean to break your glasses and, look, here is a solution you can live with, one that may actually be better than had the break not occurred in the first place.
– Naps.

18 Tuesday
– Black birds.
– Visits to the vet.
– Watching your dog run in the snow.
– Buying books.
– Peanut butter chocolate smoothies.
– Rabies vaccines.
– Money dilemmas. It is the paradigm. In the challenge is where you find the reward.

17 Monday
Darkness.

16 Sunday
How little it takes to change your mood in a positive way.

15 Saturday
– Sleeping rock-solid after a long, long week.
– Dreams about running as you do, strong and true, with an occasional corner cut.
– The power of gratitude journals.
– Squirrels that talk to you. Literally. You can hear that one squawking from across the street.
– The steam that rises from the side of a house when the furnace is on.
– Being in an architectually favorable neighborhood. Seriously, if you could measure a person’s health, well-being, and life satisfaction in aesthetically poor and then again in aesthetically pleasing settings I think the difference between the two scores would pretty much freak us all out.
– Time to think at work.
– Finding a new dog park. New to you. anyway.
– The curry chopped salad at Trader Joe’s.
– Clerks who ask what you are up to and care about your answer.

14 Friday
– Soft blankets.
– Trash day.
– Corn chips with lime. You could eat guacamole all night.
– The park at night. You can’t believe how many people you encounter still in this weather.
– Being close to a body of water.
– Art, even if it’s a television show, that moves you a little.

13 Thursday
– Thursday. Thursdays are good days. Over the hump, stuff to do, yeah, but weekend ahead.
– Having taken a few small steps forward on Wednesday night so that you wake up a little lighter than you othrwise would on Thursday morning.
– Having the bed made before 5 a.m.
– Another day, another rabbit greets you.
– Possibly finding a good place for a Winter Solstice service.
– Unexpected free time.
– Late long walks late on a warm winter evening.

12 Wednesday

– Rabbits that strike a pose in the early hours. You see them as you return from the gym, as you walk about in the morning dark with your dog. Every day this week they are there.
– Being in a position to teach someone.
– Being asked to take on more.
– Long winter walks, up and down the block, taking in the holiday lights, closing out the day.

11 Tuesday
– Seeing pictures of your dog in the middle of the work day.
– Finding additional love for your dog to break up the work day.
– The Brandenburg Concertos.
– Free spaghetti. With meatballs!

9 Sunday
– Running into a familiar face you have not seen in fifteen years.
– Two hours of work on Sundays are worth at least four on every other day.
– Small pottery galleries open on Sundays.
– People who walk right up expressly so they can pet your puppy.

8 Saturday
Great tacos. Good conversation.

7 Friday
– A dog with a hop in his step.
– People who walk their dogs even when they would rather be inside and warm on the couch.

6 Thursday
Tall, wide trees with several squirrel dreys spread about the top half of the branches.

1 Saturday
– Neighbors who ask for your number. Just to be neighborly.
– Neighbors who tell you what you should not do. Just to be honest.
– Big flakes of snow.
– Learning how to do a real bicep curl. After all this time.
– Writing for its own sake.
– The Mississippi River.
– The fact that November is no longer. With the flip of a calendar a conflict is finally over.
– Not having to go anywhere.

November 2018

30 Friday
– Late breakfast, cheesy eggs and quesadilla.
– Receiving positive feedback.
– Giving a warm welcome.
– Getting an unexpected break in the middle of the day.
– Getting ahead.
– Long walks well after dark.
– The glow of night lights on street corners.
– Movie houses.
– Big sweet potatoes you dip in butter.
– New treats for happy hips that the little buddy loves.

9 Friday
– The writing saves you. And it always can.
– Finishing a chapter. Few things better. Or more energizing.

8 Thursday
– People who provide friendly, necessary services at a reasonable price.
– Putting new breaks on the old car. Ready for winter. Well, almost.

7 Wednesday
– People who provide friendly, necessary services at a reasonable price.
– Filling in holes in your new home. Ready for winter. Well, almost.

6 Tuesday
– The calm and peace of a polling place. Everyone who works there is friendly. Everyone who stands before or after you in line is patient. We are all engaged in the same practice for similar reasons even if we choose different candidates. No ads. No placards. No shouting. No horn-tooting. As so little of life is spent this way you don’t even mind having to register first. OK, take your time, you say, whatever you need, no rush, this is good, you’re good, I am here, we are all here, something, at least, is right.
– Walking in the rain. So what if it means the little buddy’s going to need a bath.

5 Monday
– A short chat in the morning with one of those people who seem to be born to do what they do.
– People who really listen to you.
– Initiating conversations. Following the kismet of the encounter.
– The body: the world’s best lie detector.
– Hemp protein. Who knew it was so good for the skin?
– Discounted sardines.
– Hours at home in the evening, lowering the pile of mail, cleaning the floors, lowering the pile of stress, cleaning the disorder in your mind.

4 Sunday
– Pull-ups. The single best metaphorical exercise of them all.
– Working on a Sunday. Every hour counts as two.
– Raking wet leaves in the dark. On one hand, what a moron. On the other, look, you are almost done.
– Hacking down perennials.
– A short encounter at night with one of those people who help you understand your ignorance really isn’t so strange. You are maybe a little less of a moron about the land than you thought.
– A place to fail. A place to learn. Your laboratory. Increased responsibility.
– Falling asleep in seconds because you are just … so … tired.
– Listening to Seth Godin describe the clarity he has found about how to spend his days.

3 Saturday
– The power of daily progress.
– Getting to know a piece of land.
– Trying a new way to workout.
– Rocking the rowing machine.
– Coffee with a new friend.

2 Friday
Having a place to go to untangle the mess that so often is your mind.

1 Thursday
Being so immersed in the day you don’t even realize it’s your birthday.

October 2018

31 Wednesday
Neighborhoods that really do Halloween.

27 Saturday
Ducking into an old movie theater late at night and watching the original Halloween on the big screen.

20 Saturday
Sitting on your front step after a long and stressful day. A moment to see where you are. A moment to check-in with that part of you that can get muted in the shuffle and clash of the day. See what you should do about a conflict. Actually, you were there for this one. That was you. Nice work. Now you have a thousand and one things to do. But for a moment take this in. You have done something big. You are doing something important. No one else may see it that way; that’s OK. This is not for anyone else. It is important, it is big, for you. See those gold and orange-brown leaves on the grass as you rest with bent knees. Feel the sun on your nose. Listen. You are home. What a perch. Forty-five years to go four feet up. Yeah. You breathe.

19 Friday
Doing something you didn’t think was possible — something, frankly, you had written off years ago even attempting.

12 Friday
A meeting that goes better than you expected, producing the sensation that a goal you thought would be completed in 2016 might actually, finally, happen yet this year. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Oh the motivation of that light.

7 Sunday
The transition from one season to another: a bottleneck through which your body must pass. Temperature, light, energy — all these are different, shifting, lessening, and your systems do not adjust as quickly as they used to. OK. OK. OK.

6 Saturday
– An extra nap just because you need it.
– Talking a long walk in the afternoon.
– Running with your little buddy.
– Yelling while running.
– Watching him dash about an open pitch of green, green grass. Go buddy go.
– Checking the scores from around the league.

5 Friday
– Being complimented while taking someone’s complaint.
– Making the call you need to make but don’t want to.
– Staying late to help someone.
– Talking with total confidence about a subject that is, let’s face it, hard for people who don’t do it for a living to understand.
– A takeout bacon cheeseburger and fries just because that’s what you’re feeling to finish the week.

4 Thursday
Getting your flu shot this year. We’ll see if it works!

3 Wednesday
– Opening night of the hockey season.
– Leafs vs. Canadiens.
– Original Six teams.
– Cool sweaters.
– The way Auston Matthews toe-releases the puck on a shot from the slot. Goal!
– The last gasp of summer — a storm that sits over the horizon, just beyond the houses across the street, Mother Nature’s pouty face.

2 October
– Your brother’s birth.
– Honest first conversations.
– Room to be better at this.
– One good idea.
– The sound of wood creaking beneath your feet as you walk across the room.
– Wind that brings a new season, and shakes leaves from the trees.

1 Monday

A big day in a lot of ways and yet you just show up, take a few deep breaths, and by the end of it, your fears once again proved to overshoot their perceived threats. And besides, free bagels!

September 2018

30 Sunday
– Taking your time.
– Being willing to scrap parts of the plan.
– Weakness. It’s there. Don’t fight it.
– Insights that come when you confront the beast inside.
– Fall afternoons with wind and leaves and squirrels scurrying.
– Birds that fly so high overhead that they can and do glide for minutes at a time, just glide, glide, high up in the sky.
– Good food. No crap today. You need a day of solid choices. You give that to yourself.

29 Saturday
– The potency of dreams.
– The power of self-honesty.
– The solidity of preparation.
– Brisk mornings.

28 Friday
People who help you as though your concern were theirs.

27 Thursday
Broken bits of tree meat in the form of fruit and shells splattered on the sidewalk, presumably the debris from a squirrel party, that you step on and over on the evening walk home.

26 Wednesday
Wearing short sleeves on a chilly day, defying the Mother Nature as long as you can, you rebel you.

25 Tuesday
Really good, organically grown chicken thighs, baked with butter, falling off the bone.

24 Monday
Powering through a draft you have written before, and more than once, arranging the pieces, trimming nearly all the fat, but only nearly all, you’ve got to leave a bit — got to.

23 Sunday
Football games that allow time for naps.

22 Saturday
Being so immersed in a project that you let other things go, including the dishes.

20 Thursday
– An important conference.
– A way forward.
– You got this. You can do this. You will.
– The way your body reacts to an unblocked emotional barrier: muscles can be happy, you know — legs and arms and the way you speak without fear and with much humor you wonder why you would ever not face something you need to. The biggest high, way better than chemicals can produce.

19 Wednesday
High-rep squat day.

16 Sunday
Waking up and getting into the day, without delay, even if slowly.

15 Saturday
– Getting little things done in the small spaces of time.
– That it’s still warm enough to wear a T-shirt for your little buddy’s early morning pee.
– Realizing how great an upset it is for you to be this close to achieving a goal.
– Time spent studying.
– A friendly, patient, young face at the restaurant counter. You don’t see those every day.
– How quickly you can unblock energies that hold you back.
– How important it is to have someone who can help you unblock energies that hold you back.
– That your parents got together all those years ago.

14 Friday
– Hearing from a former employee who is now in law school.
– Facing your fears at work: relearning an old skill and putting it to practice.
– Shining the spotlight on a colleague and not trying to stand at all in the glare.
– When your mind keeps working out a problem, coolly and (somewhat) calmly, even when you told it it could rest for awhile.

13 Thursday
An hour and a quarter of one-on-one education from a good teacher.

12 Wednesday
– Serving as someone’s reference.
– Finding a customer service person who gives you her direct dial. Then calls you right back when you use it.
– Paying obligations back before you have to.
– Finding out those obligations might not be as sizable as you thought.

11 Tuesday
– Hearing from a former employee who is now a writer.
– Writing and working out in the same morning.

10 Monday
When you are looking for a designer and then suddenly you have a conversation with one who just might be available.

9 Sunday
Evening walks that you don’t want to end because the weather just might be impossible to improve upon.

8 Saturday
– When your intuition saves you seventy-four bucks.
– A guy named Ferris.
– Bringing your little buddy to a special place for the first time.
– A woman named Kim.
– Meeting members of your tribe.
– A guy named Dylan.
– When you can rep out 365-pound DLs.
– A woman named Veda.

7 Friday
Good news. On top of other news that has the potential to be good, too.

6 Thursday
– A woman who rescues squirrels.
– A dream that shows you the way home.
– A person who cares enough to get frustrated by you.
– People who care about pigs.

5 Wednesday
– Getting back in the game.
– Chickens everywhere around the world.

4 Tuesday
Going back to school. Figuratively at least.

3 Monday
– When the words that were so hard to find the night before appear, like that, the next morning.
– When you’re a little intense, and you show it, but that’s OK!
– Knowing it will happen now. Or later. You can’t control the when. But it will come. The wheels are already turning!
– Driving down the highway when Madonna’s “Rain” comes on the radio as raindrop appear on the windshield.
– The men and women who brought us the weekend.
– Egg bagel sandwiches.

2 Sunday

… it worked. Oh yeah.

1 Saturday
Sometimes, frankly, it sucks to be one who perceives the world through feel and emotion. The head always comes in. And it must, of course, but here there is a distinction that very probably won’t be articulated just now in a way that the reader will understand, but the intention is there for that. The mind can join the flow or it can interrupt it. Sometimes, interruption is good. Needed. Of course. Yet the mind can also be a task-master that serves only to block you from the path that is before you. This is when we should all over ourselves. Or, in the case of some (ding-ding, winner right here), when the mind presents challenges upon challenges; it’s about all the mind sees. It’ll stop you in your tracks, by golly. Yet the world wants exactly what this mind conjures — logical explanations for actions. You must access them or what else would you say during conversations? Except if you process in these other modes you either have to honor that or you’ll die. Today I am grateful that in a key moment I listened, listened, listened to my feelings, that I regarded my emotions, and that applied my mind in the service of both. Scary as hell. But …