Our disappearing paths

img_2920

I bought this coffee mug in 2016 at the Glacier Point gift shop in Yosemite National Park to add to my collection of mug memories. My son and I were on day three of our summer trip to California. Printed on it is a quote from naturalist John Muir.

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”

It was the perfect senitiment to capture this adventure of ours through central California. We’ve hiked a lot of paths together over the years, and more than a few of them have been dirt.

IMG_5764

Read More

Sipping a little memory each morning

Each morning I’m home, I follow the same ritual. I clean the coffee maker, grind the beans, fill the water reservoir, and press BREW. I reach into the cabinet to choose from double stacked memories, from coffee mug mementos that remind me of events, experiences, and eras of my life.

Aside from photos, I don’t keep many physical reminders of my past, but the coffee mugs are an ever-present exception. I wake up my brain and fuel my morning from these vessels, sipping from the emotions and lessons they still hold.

Read More

Redefining his summit

From July 16-27, 2017, my son and I, along with three other boy scouts and two other dads in Crew 716-J-02, backpacked 84 miles through Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmarron, New Mexico. This story takes place on Thursday, July 27, Trail Day 11.


We came to a sudden halt just a few miles from the end of our trek. Why were we stopping?

I was sixth in line, a couple of hundred feet from my son who was in the lead. We’d assumed lightning spacing a mile or so before, remembering the ranger’s advice if we got caught in the middle of one of Philmont’s daily thunderstorms.

“Keep at least 50 feet apart on the trail, so that if one of you gets hit by lightning, it doesn’t jump from one person to the other.”

The sky rumbled and my annoyance grew in concert with the intensity of the rain. We didn’t have time for a break if we were going to beat the storm back to base camp. My son turned to look up the line as I walked toward him, and my frustration became concern as I got close enough to see the fear in his face.

Read More

Hiking, even when it hurts

I love hiking. There’s nothing that makes me feel more alive than being outdoors and connected to nature. This weekend was different. Hiking with a fully loaded pack is a completely different beast, one that threatens to tear the enjoyment out of the experience. For much of the hike, we were silent except for our labored breath, focused on the next step. When one ravine ascent was followed by yet another, I felt every bit the 45-year-old guy who on most days is just a few clicks over sedentary. My calves felt ready to explode, my hips and shoulders ached. The kid’s face held the expression of what we were both feeling. Pain. I stopped and looked at him and said, “You know what gutting through the burn feels like. It’s just like running the 400. You just have to convince yourself you can.”

We can do hard things.

Easter renewal

For the past several years, I’ve used Easter weekend to get out into nature and feel the emerging Spring fill me with new life. Yesterday in the middle of a six mile hike through Forest Glen, I knelt down beside a small creek, closed my eyes, bowed my head, and just listened to the forest.

IMG_9641.jpg

Read More

Renewing myself at Emiquon

March has been a month unlike any other.

My work responsibilities have expanded and new opportunities for professional growth appear daily.

I’m helping guide a group of 10- and 11-year-old boys as they learn what it means to be leaders as Boy Scouts.

I’m doing my best to give my son my undivided attention when we’re together.

I’ve been intentional about being present and investing in those relationships that I hold dear, those close and across the miles.

I’ve even been able to dabble in the world of garden speaking, presenting three workshops to Illinois gardeners whose senses have awoken at the hint of spring.

I’ve never felt more engaged in life, yet I’ve fallen down when it comes to taking a moment to recharge myself in the best way I know how — getting outdoors and allowing Mother Nature to fill me with renewal.

Read More