Thankful to #OptOutside

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Yesterday, Elizabeth and our daughter and I “opted” to go outside and join millions of other people across the U.S. who use Black Friday as an excuse to get outside and enjoy outdoor adventure, rather than buying more stuff they really don’t need.

Lest you think I’m riding a moralistic high horse, the reality is that some things I want to buy I may just buy on a different day or online—just not on the Friday after Thanksgiving 🙂 In other words, I’m not above the day, I just like to support getting outside as a lifestyle.

Along with my brother and his family, we went for hike at Great Bear Ski Area at about 11 a.m.. The sun and warmer temperatures, not to mention lack of snow, made for a great outing, especially considering the ski area has not opened up yet, and the grassy hills remained mostly dry. Another plus was the lack of wind—a rarity in South Dakota.

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Growing up I spent a lot of time skiing at Great Bear.

Opt Outside is a national day that was started a few years ago by REI. On the Friday after Thanksgiving, the outdoor retailer giant closes all stores across the country (and even online shopping) and instead encourages customers to get outside and enjoy outdoor adventure. The phenomenon has definitely caught fire. Check out #optoutside and you will see more than 2 million posts—I know this because I tried to find my post from yesterday and couldn’t!

I usually don’t really need a national day to motivate me to get outside—in fact I’ve spent a lot of my life opting out of things to get outside—perhaps even to excess 🙂 It probably started in college, when my friends and I used most Saturdays to go whitewater kayaking, rather than join 30,000 other people at the UM Grizzlies home games. I like watching football—but I like kayaking even more.

There are so many benefits to getting outside—It’s always refreshing to spend time in God’s Creation.

And especially these days, it’s been healthy for Elizabeth and I to keep doing the things that give us life, especially in light of my cancer journey. One aspect about facing this disease that is especially challenging (and there are certainly many) is how it threatens to define me—that somehow the largeness of this disease overshadows all I am or have done. I’ve already lived 38 years of my life and there are many things that I would much rather have define me, like writing and outdoor adventure, being a husband and father, and my relationships with family and friends—and especially my relationship with God.

Getting outside helps me keep in touch with who I really am.

Thanksgiving week always brings a fresh reminder of gratitude. And this Friday brought one more reminder of how grateful I am for the opportunities to be outside.

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