Second Summer

It's that time of year where the days get shorter and the inevitability of what's coming (Winter!) looms large. Thankfully we have been gifted with a couple weeks worth of fantastic weather. Dry air, temps in the low to mid 70's, and high wispy clouds. Just perfect, day after day. It's like a second summer for us.

The weather enabled me to get out a couple of times this weekend and do some fishing, painting, and biking. This time alone always allows me to reflect on where I'm at, where I'm going, and where I've been. It is during these times of assessment and inventory that I realize how lucky I am. Whenever I start to get down or worried about the future, it helps to take stock of what I have and what I've been through. Doing that today absolutely changed my perspective.

Sunrise on Beaver Lake
Part of what I was mulling over was the rich set of friends I've cultivated in the past few years. Some are brand new, some are old friends that go back decades, some are Facebook friends,  but all are part of who I am right now. I'll confess that I am the world's worst friend, but I've managed to surround myself with people that know me for who I am. They know I'm not going to call them on a moment's notice and say lets hook up for coffee or a beer. But they also know that if asked, I will welcome the chance to catch up on things. As a friend, I follow well, but lead by seclusion, if that makes any sense.

I guess I've always had a good set of friends, but my writing group has increased that exponentially. These friends share the same interests and because of them, I've met more people than I ever dreamed. As my wife will confess it's changing me from a total introvert to a closet extrovert. (Shhh...don't tell.) I enjoy people more than I ever have and frankly, it's kind of scaring her. (And me too.)

And on my ride and in my kayak I thought about the summer gone by. The trip to New York, the book release, Sarah's graduation, the book tour, and the cabin in Mercer. I tend to always look to the "next" vacation and seem to forget all the ones I've been fortunate enough to have taken. This summer was epic by any stretch of the imagination, and I needed a bike ride to reiterate that to myself.

I thought about the joys and sorrows I've experienced and how each of them has become part of my "badge". The joys of a beautiful, loving, loyal wife and two children who I couldn't be prouder of. Couple those gifts with the tragedy of losing a father, brother and sister at an early age, and you kind of cover the complete emotional spectrum from joy to sorrow. But each event has made me who I am. As much as I hated going through the death of my brother, it has changed my life, my outlook and my path in ways nothing else could. God is and will use it for good.

And lastly I got to ponder the beauty of our natural world on a larger scope and the splendor of the autumn season in Wisconsin. I got to witness an amazing sunrise on Beaver Lake on Saturday and keep having my breath taken away by the tree colors around Waukesha and Milwaukee. Every year I seem to appreciate the changes more than the year previous. The changing of the leaves is one of God's miracles. Sometimes He's such a showoff.

So, this post so badly describes what was running through my head on my bike today as I cruised at 15 MPH in the thick of one of the best fall days ever. It's probably because I think much clearer under the sun with nothing but the wind in my ears and the sun on my back. But what I did want to emphasize is that if you're feeling down, or worried, or just kind of blue, it helps to take stock. Big problems get much smaller when you put them in their place along the timeline of your life.

And it's best done outdoors on a perfect fall day.

Blogging off...


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