Day 269 – Thankful for Pausing to See How Far We’ve Come – Thanks Express Family!!!

While taking care of some business things today I found out that one of our teams had hit an all time high for Clients Billed (one of our most important metrics) this past week.  The reason this number is so important is that means we have many people working at many different businesses in our communities.  The more businesses we work with the better the selections of jobs we can offer people to help them find the right career.  If we could only measure two things in our business, this would be one of them.

I was ecstatic when I saw that number and was so proud of how all of the hard work of my teams had paid off and was now benefitting them, our clients, and the associates we put to work.  As I started to type up a congratulations email to the teams I paused and decided that I should add some perspective.  When I went back to old reports for comparison I was shocked and amazed at just how much growth my teams have had!

Way back in February of 2010 we made the call to expand in one territory to a second office.  Since then we’ve expanded again and now have three offices in that area.  In another market we’ve grown, and grown, and grown…

Back in 2010 those offices were putting people to work at 60 different businesses…  Today, I am proud to say that my teams have people currently working at over 140 different businesses in the same markets!!!

How awesome is that?  Thanks to the hard work of my teams we’ve more than doubled the number of different businesses we help people find their new career at.  I am so pumped and proud of them!!!

When I first saw our client count I was very happy, but I was on top of the world when I stood back and got some perspective.  Thanks for the awesomeness my Express Family!!!

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Thanks!!!

Day 268 – Thankful for Starting Something(s)

There are many times in my life when I have a great idea, I put some thought into it, I never started action on it, and it faded away.  An opportunity lost, a wasted idea.  In some cases the concept might have been a failure, other times it might have been huge.  When I don’t start it I’ll never know for sure.

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Between last night and today I’ve started something(s).  I made the first step.  I’ve taken action to start bringing an idea to reality.  Whether or not it turns out or not I’ve got the feeling of starting something and it’s great!  Creating is one of my favorite things in the world and it is awesome to get something(s) rolling!

There’s a lot of work ahead of me, but today I’m thankful for taking the first step.  What’s the old saying?  A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.  There’s been an idea or two that have been swimming in my head for quite some time and today I’ve taken the first step in setting them free…  and it feels AWESOME!!!

Thanks!!!

Day 267 – Thankful for Becky’s Love & Support

These past couple of weeks have been completely surreal.  It seems like the world stopped turning and then started moving in a different direction.  Up was down, chaos and turmoil was the norm, and everything was in a constant state of upheaval.  There’s always been one rock I could stand on, that would support me, and was always there when needed…

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Throughout these past weeks Becky has been there for me in any way imaginable.  She’s been there to hug me when I’m down.  When I needed time alone she stepped back.  Several times she reminded me to take care of myself.  In the moments that I needed to collapse she held me up and wiped the tears away.  The nights I stayed over in the hospital she kept the house running, the boys fed, and all going to the right places at the right time – never once giving me a hard time or complaining.  Whatever was needed, Becky was there for me.

When I wasn’t sure what to do she pointed me in the right direction.  The couple of occasions in which I just wanted to run away or shirk my responsibility she encouraged me and coached me.  When I lost sight of what was really important she guided me.  Every step of the way, whether present with me or not, she was there with me, supporting me.

As she did all of this she stayed strong for me.  She misses my dad as much as I do and has her own sadness to deal with, yet she set it aside to take care of me.  There were many sacrifices she made as she has kept me going over the past couple of weeks, I am incredibly grateful for her presence.  Without her love and support I wouldn’t have made it through this.  Every day Becky helps me to become a better man.  Every day she supports me.  Every day she loves me.  For that I am extremely thankful!!!

Thanks!!!

Day 266 – Thankful for a Normal Day, with an Unexpected Reminder of Dad

Everything was almost back to normal today.  The normal car passed Becky and I and we traded waves as we went for our regular run.  I got back into the regular routine of getting ready for work and heading in to the office.  At the office I got back into the usual Monday morning meetings, one after another with just a couple of exceptions.  After the standard Monday work I headed home.  Just like normal I called my mom and we talked while I headed home.  We ate dinner in a hurry as per the norm and then headed out to logrolling.  We went out for a quick drink afterwards and then headed back home to get into our typical Monday routine.

Today was ordinary, standard, regular, basic, the usual, typical, and exactly what I needed.  It was a chance to get back into the normalcy of every day life.  No worries, no sadness, no loss, a chance to lose myself in routine…  something I’ve been longing for over the past couple of weeks.

As I realized just how much I was appreciating this basic day it made me smile.  There’ve been many days when I get frustrated at living the same old same old.  I’ve wanted a break, something different, some excitement.  Extra time to relax, more time to try something else, just a change of pace.  Contrast that with today as I am soaking in the awesomeness of the mundane.  Today I am thankful for have the regular day of life to get back to feeling normal.  It just feels right, and I am very appreciative of that.

There was one point of the day in which reality hit me hard.  It was an unexpected reminder of my dad that brought on a case of the feels.  When I pulled up my Facebook for a moment I saw the reminder of last year’s blog post

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This was my post from Father’s Day last year, when Dad was still alive and there wasn’t a hint of a clue that it would be the last Father’s Day he would celebrate.  We were able to talk about the post, bond over it, and share our love for each other.  I’m thankful to have written it while he was alive to read it.  It helped me share and express my love and appreciation of him in a different way.

Reading this post brought back memories and feelings.  Mainly it was an appreciation for what an awesome father I was fortunate to have.  It also seemed fitting to have used the line “He’s one of my best friends and talking with him always puts a huge smile on my face and in my heart.”  Even though he’s gone I still talk with him and it always puts a huge smile on my face and in my heart.

Love you Dad!

Thanks!!!

Day 265 – Thankful for a Father’s Day Gift from My Dad, a Better Understanding

Over the past few days (and couple of weeks) my dad has given me quite the unexpected Father’s Day gift.  As I’ve rekindled many relationships and built others there’s been an ongoing theme…  Many stories about Dad and the impact that he’s had on so many people.

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When we talked and got together we were always talking, sharing stories and updates of what we were up to.  Somehow in my brain I was kind of focused on the dad that I knew and assumed that was all there was to know about him.  Seriously, I’ve known the guy for 40 years, how could there be any surprises, right?  Over the past couple of weeks I’ve learned just how naive a thought that was.

Between time in the hospital, messages on Facebook, conversations at the funeral, in cards, and everywhere in between I’ve heard more stories about my dad than ever.  Dad was a very proud man and liked to keep somethings private, I will respect that by speaking in generalities.  Also know that as I share, there are so many more stories that I would love to share, but I can’t find a way to do it without sharing more than he would like.  Here’s a short list of some of the things I’ve learned about my dad or seen much more clearly from these stories:

  • His inventing skills were top notch!  One of his most recent creations still has me smiling from ear to ear.  It was an incredible example of Dad’s ingenuity, attention to detail, and focus on quality execution.
  • In an incredibly heartwarming letter I learned about ways my dad had been known to go out of his way to cheer up a friend.  It was something that was way out of his comfort zone, but that didn’t stop him from doing it.  I teared up while reading it and was so proud of Dad for doing it.
  • The number of lives he brightened still blows my mind.  In one example that particularly touched me Dad went out of his way to have a conversation with someone who was in a really tough spot, brought happiness to them, and moved them to happy tears.  I heard this story right before the funeral and knew that if I was going to break down emotionally during his eulogy it was going to be due to this story being that fresh in my mind.
  • Hearing stories of ways Dad has given of himself have been coming non-stop.  From financial, time, skills, emotions, and smiles there’ve been many examples of how he’s helped other.  He’d shared a few of these with me as they happened, but I had no idea the extreme depth of his generosity.

Over the years I’ve shared my passion of the analogy of a shoebox diorama (Day 332 of last year).  When making them as a kid I’d make a scene in the box close it up, and then look in through an eyehole.  If I cut a new hole in the box I’d see the same thing, but from a different direction.  The same details, but with a different meaning due to the change in perspective.  The more holes I looked through the better the understanding one would get.  This Father’s Day my dad gave me the gift of several new vantages to see his life from.  He punched new holes in the shoebox diorama that was his life and opened it up to view him differently, to get a more complete picture of who he really was in total, not just “the dad” role that I saw him from.

I’d give most anything to have him back with me, to be able to hop on the phone and wish him a happy Father’s Day, to have some fun texts between the two of us and my brother, and have life go back to normal.  All that being said, I can’t imagine going back to not seeing all of these great things about him.  As big of a hero as he already was for me, his legacy continues to grow, my respect for him increases, and I’m even more proud of him.  Each story reminds me of ways that I need to be better in order to follow in his footsteps, and help raise my boys to do the same.

Dad, thank you for this awesome Father’s Day gift, the ability to see your life from new perspectives and angles.  I’m more proud of you than I’ve ever been.  Happy Father’s Day Dad – Love you!

Thanks!!!

Day 264 – Thankful for Planting Trees, Paintball Chicken, Picking Rocks, and Bonding Time with Dominic

There’s still a big hole in my life today…  There’ve been several times in which I was about to call Dad but then realized that he’s not around.  While I still talk to him it’s just not the same and there’s a feeling of loss every time I think of calling.  That’s why I’m thankful for some pretty awesome distractions that helped me out a lot today.

The day started off with a couple of my uncles coming over to help move some small trees to a new location near the house.  There was something therapeutic about planting those trees, it was something that we can look back to and remember fondly.  It also provided some quality time with my uncles, brother, and Dominic.  As we wrapped up I had the opportunity to see my dad’s most recent shed and it left me smiling.

Later in the day Nancy, her sister Patsy, Becky, the boys, and I pulled out the paintball guns and played the game they loved with Grandpa Pete, Paintball Chicken.  We laughed, giggled, had a great time, and had a brief respite from grief.

Before heading out we spent time picking rocks in the pit.  This was one of Dad’s favorite hobbies and we always had fun doing that with him.  I felt close to him while searching out the best rocks.  Over the course of the week I ended up with a 5 gallon bucket full of rocks. 🙂

On the way home Becky and I drove separately (a result of timing for Thursday) so Dominic rode with me.  The ride started with Dominic playing his iPod and me listening to an audiobook.  After a while he put his iPod down and I turned off the book.  We were quiet, then started chatting, and then proceeded to rock out to the tunes he had on his iPod.  We jammed out, did some car dancing, sang loud, and laughed a lot.  Next thing I knew we were back home, but both smiling.  Dad would have been proud (of the time together, not the musical choices!).

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To be clear, we took this once we were parked in our driveway 🙂

I have a sneaking suspicion that it’ll be a long road until life starts to feel normal again, but as long as I can keep finding moments like there were today I know that I’ll be alright.

Love you Dad!

Thanks!!!

Day 263 – Thankful for Dad’s Funeral

Tonight I’ve got to start off with a warning…  I’m emotionally exhausted and am not quite sure where this is going to end up.  Often times I have a somewhat preset direction that I’m going to go, but tonight I’m shooting from the hip a la Dad’s favorite football player ever, Brett Favre.   There were so many reasons I am thankful for Dad’s funeral, when I try to pinpoint a few I’m completely overwhelmed with so many thoughts and emotions.  I’m going to try to go chronologically in order to not miss anything.

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If a picture of Dad would sum him up, this would possibly be it.  Helping others smile while staying in the background, watching with love, big smile of happiness, pride and love on his face.  Love you Dad!

I’m thankful for the huge numbers of people who came in to pay their respects to Dad.  It warmed my heart to see just a fraction of the people he’s impacted in his life.  There was constantly a line of people coming in, the church was packed, and there were even a few friends from out of town that had to listen from the basement due to the upstairs being filled.

Seeing so many people from my childhood, my past, dad’s friends, high school acquaintances, and other people from around town that I haven’t seen in a very long time.  I’m very thankful for seeing so many familiar faces.

There were so many friends from out of town, in town and all around that came in. There were some that I knew were coming and there was a handful of surprises that left me choked up.  Having that much support and love all around me was nothing short of awesome and greatly appreciated!

During the funeral I spoke for my dad.  It was one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life.  My hope was to put myself in Dad’s shoes and share what he would want to be said at his funeral.  (I’ll copy the speech down below as I had a handful of requests for it)  Knowing that I was about to address many people about a very emotional topic I was very nervous about my ability to make it through without breaking down.  During one of our car conversations Dad made it clear to me that he would give me strength.  As I spoke I felt his hand on my shoulder and it wasn’t until the last couple of sentences that I struggled.  After the dust of the funeral settled I had a moment of silence that I filled by talking with Dad.  In my head (and in my heart) I heard him tell me he was “proud of you bud!”

There were so many stories of my dad shared that I struggled to keep them all in my memory.  Most of them involved Dad cheering someone up, helping someone out, or helping others appreciate each day of their life.  It was awesome!  I always knew my dad was a super hero, but this just added to his legacy.

So many hugs, cries, and expressions of love were shared.  While my heart hurts from missing my dad, my heart was filled with all of the love today.  I could feel him jumping in on the hugs from time to time.

After the funeral Nick and I spent some quiet time with just the two of us drinking beers while sitting on the rock wall talking about the day, Dad, and life without Dad.  The bonding that was done was priceless and will always be remembered.

Becky’s been watching all over me today, taking care of me, holding me up, and making sure that I keep making it through.  I’m so thankful for having her in my life!

There were a couple of other moments that I am thankful for, but they’ll either have to wait or are a little more private.  

One last one to share, I’m thankful for this day to end.  I’m emotionally exhausted, in a weird mix of sad yet very happy…  maybe satisfied is the better description?  Regardless, I also feel an overwhelming sense of love and a great deal of pride for my dad.  There’s also some nervousness as I realize just how big of shoes he’s left for me to fill.  That said, I’m ready for bed.  I’m ready to start a new day.  I’ll hold this one in my head and heart for eternity, and am very thankful for it, but it is time to rest.

Thank you again to everyone for the hugs well wishes, prayers, and so on.  Whether you were here or not I know so many were with us in spirit today to celebrate my dad.  Thank you all for the love, it is greatly appreciated!!!

Love you Dad!

Thanks!!!

Reflection of Dad at His Funeral:

There was a man who brightened the lives of all who had met him, and his name was Pete.  

That’s really it, isn’t it?  The whole story of my dad in a nutshell.  In just one sentence you probably have a flood of fond memories of him.  Let me re-read that sentence…  Take time to smile about the memories that come to mind…

There was a man who brightened the lives of all who had met him, and his name was Pete.  

For me this brings back memories of building a treehouse with Dad and his grandsons.  It reminds me of putting in a ceiling light with Dad and my brother.  I remember the smile and giddiness of my dad as we happened to drive past his old bible camp on a trip into the UP.

Those memories are the ones that will bring us happiness in this time of sadness.  Dad gave us all a great gift, those memories and we need to hold on to them tightly.

We also owe it to Dad to not only keep those memories alive in our hearts, but also to create more memories like them for others.  If Dad had one wish it wasn’t for a huge crowd or a fancy funeral, it was for all of us to help each other.  To create more happiness for each of us. 

Each and every day of his life Dad lived to his set of core values.  As we continue to live our lives we may think of him and smile as we live those values.  For instance, when you start a conversation with a stranger and they walk away smiling, Dad was with you.  

Dad was a family man.  Living his Christian ideals this meant that the word family wasn’t limited to just blood, it was inclusive of everyone.  Whether son, spouse, brother, friend, or stranger he loved you and you could feel it.  

There was an appreciation for life Dad Pete had that inspired each of us.  He was present in each moment and every conversation.  Always playful, he could always find the way to bring a smile to anyone at any time.

The harder the work the greater the reward for Dad.  In the woods, in his workshop, at a friend’s house, or wherever his help was needed he enjoyed the pleasure that comes from hard work.

Most importantly, Dad’s focus was on helping anyone who needed help.  He was always giving of his time, skills, and anything that was ever needed.  Whether taking time to sit with a friend, help with his church, listen to a friend, coach a little league team, bring a smile to someone who’s hurting or answer one of about a thousand home improvement questions for his sons, he was always there to help.  His generosity and love of helping others will continue through all of us.

If we wish to honor Dad’s legacy and help it continue here are three ways he would like us to do that.

1. Start a conversation with a stranger and leave them smiling, maybe buy lunch for someone you don’t know in a diner, but help a stranger smile

2. Be willing to make a gift of ourselves and help someone who needs it, there’s always a way if you are willing

3. Appreciate every day God grants us.  Love your family (& all of mankind) and share that love with them.  Stay positive, smile, and be thankful for what you have.  Be present.  That’s how we show appreciation for each day.

The biggest tribute we can give him is to live those values and help others smile.  Dad may have passed away, but his legacy will live on through many for generations.

There was a man who brightened the lives of all who’d met him, and his name was Pete.  We’re all better having known him…  and I incredibly fortunate and proud to have been able to call him Dad. 

I love you Dad.