getting deep in the northwoods...

If you've ever read any of my posts before you know full well that I wear my emotions on my sleeve.  I get super deep here all the time.  Mostly because that is how I want to live.  Obviously these posts would reflect that journey to live inspired.  I recently returned from an annual family trip to Northern Wisconsin.  The Schaetz clan and my own have made this northern migration for over 25 years.  The memories are priceless, and the moments are as rich as ever.  Sally, mother of the Schaetz tribe, has been in the flight of her life with cancer.  She is an inspiration and a guide.  Watching her see life through the eyes of someone who is relishing in each and every moment with the appreciation that only a cancer fighter can understand.  I can't understand, but I can gain inspiration and wisdom from her life's example.  Her husband, Dave, is one tough "hombre" too.  Not only has he been right by Sally's side throughout, but the morning after Christine and I got there he had to rush off to surgery for a detached retina.  I would have been a wreck with the threat of blindness lingering, but he was as jubilant as ever as he explained to our disappointed faces that he had to rush home to go under the knife.  Glad I got a little time to hang out with him, but I sure was missing his story telling around the campfires the rest of the week.  Good news though is that they were able to put him all back together again.  We could enjoy ourselves a little more once we knew he was seeing straight again.    

^Calm waters and blue skies lifted our spirits from the docks of North Twin Lodge near Eagle River, Wisconsin.  This place and these lakes have a special place in my soul.

^My brother's wife, Nicole, myself, and my dad watch with nervous energy as Sally awaits her eldest son, Mike, to give the boat the throttle to pull her out of the water.  Sally set a goal to take a ski run on this trip.  Last year she resisted, but this year she was going for it.  Her cancer has severely weakened one of her arms, and she basically had to pull herself out with one arm tied behind her back.  Try that one on for size.

^Sally has the will of a tiger, and there was no doubt amongst us that she would pull it off.  Watching her was an inspiration and a blessing that I will carry with me for a long, long time.  

 ^My mother has not skied in a dog's age, but Sally's stellar show convinced her that it was time to give it another go around.  

 ^There she goes! Overcoming her apprehensions, once again.

 ^All the excitement and my big brother, Tyler, needed to take a break.  Some of the best napping I ever do is on the old sofas in the crisp northern air of these cabins.

 ^My pops, Nicole, and Lynn Schaetz appear to be trying to talk Lynn's young daughter, Evelyn, into something.  Evelyn was so fun to watch as she made leaps and bounds in her quest to swim.  She made it all the way to the raft, and even did some assisted cannon balls.  Three cheers for her!

^Nicole, and my wife, Christine, dropped the pontoon bikes into the lake for a stroll.  Not a care in the world out there.  Except maybe whether or not they'll have the legs to get back to shore.  In an environment like that, who cares?

 ^My old man taking advantage of the crystal clear calm waters to glide around the shoreline for a bit.  

^Our faithful watcher.  Eagles and Osprey streak the sky in these parts keeping a watchful eye to all the action.  Very cool.
 ^Evelyn got out of the water every now and then to rip some laps on the three wheeler.  I can respect the need for some ripping.  Hammer down, Evy.

 ^My mom and dad chilling on the deck after a beautiful day.  Two families of friends around an outdoor dinner table on the deck is the real deal kind of stuff.  So thankful for times like these.
 ^Of course, bocci ball calls for less dinner conversation and more smack talking.  I think that is everyone's favorite part.  Ribbing your neighbor, and gunning for their ball.  Good times.

 ^Evelyn, telling Grandma Sally how it is.  She has blossomed into quite an entertaining young personality, and Grandma is eating it up every last drop of it.  Doesn't get much cuter then that.

^My old man drawn to one of his old past times.  Fire poking.

^Soon to be newlyweds, Bobby Schaetz, and his fiance, Jenna.  I don't know about you all, but to me she appears to be happy with her decision to keep him around in this photo.  Christine and I are already super pumped to see all these folks again at their wedding in Minnesota just over a month from now.  Congrats, Bob and Jenna.

^Evy and her Momma enjoying the campfire classics.

^This annual trip always leaves me in a good place when it's over.  This year, as I reflect, I am grounded yet again.  I take deep inspiration, wisdom, and appreciation from Sally.  I take a lot of things away from all of it, and everyone there.  Each and every one of the Schaetz clan inspires me in many different ways.  My family and I are blessed to have life-long friends like them.  My brother said it to me very well when he uttered the observation of, "families full of friends, and friends that are like family."