Day 1,529 – Thankful for Another List Kind of Day, a Day Full of Gratitude

Wow, where do I start today? There’s a ton that I’m grateful for and I’m kind of struggling to figure out a theme… hmm… I guess it’s another “List Day”! Without further ado, here’s a bunch of things I’m grateful for today, but please note that it is certainly not all encompassing. I am thankful for:

  • how quickly my body is adapting to the cold
  • talking with Becky on our run
  • not getting frustrated at myself for not having a good breathing practice today – this was a time to grow and learn to better quiet my mind
  • hot coffee
  • an awesome email that kicked off my work day with a huge smile
  • knocking off several tasks rapid fire well before 8am
  • seeing all of the smiles of my teammates
  • having the opportunity to help someone out
  • Becky’s excitement over a successful work meeting
  • a sunny walk over lunch
  • productive and enlightening conversation with a business partner
  • progress towards a project I’ve been working on for a while
  • time to think and reflect
  • running through a practice run of setting up a hammock and tarp for camping
  • packing for a mini-adventure
  • supper at the dinner table with my family
  • the smell of pine needles from the dining room as Becky makes a wreath
  • typing my blog and struggling in writing it due to too many ideas and gratitudes
  • thankful that there’s more time to be thankful for more today
  • more Australia memories including this gem of a sunrise one year ago

What an awesome day!


Day 1,528 – Thankful for an Awesome Gratitude Video, #GiveThanks

Sometimes The Big Dude Upstairs seems to have a little extra patience with me, something I’m eternally grateful for. There are often times when I see something and feel a pull to it, but I disregard it and figure I will get back to it some other time. When I don’t get back to it or kind of forget about it The Big Dude takes pity on me and puts it in front of me again… and again… and again… until I finally get it.

I saw this for the first time on a newsfeed talking about what a powerful statement it was. One of the people I respect greatly and look up to for many reasons, my friend Reid from Express Leadership Academy, posted the video and then started sharing his seven days of gratitude using the hashtag #GiveThanks. This past week one of my teammates sent out the video as the learning session topic for today.

After seeing all of those times I finally paused, shut everything else down, and focused on watching the video. To say I was touched greatly would be a huge understatement.

Regardless of your religious and spiritual leanings I am sure everyone would appreciate this message: This was the first time I’ve heard President Russell Nelson speak and I was greatly impressed.

Enjoy!!! I hope it warms your heart as it did mine today.


Day 1,527 – Thankful for Choosing to See Perfect Imperfection

Life really is about what we choose to make of it, isn’t it? Things happen, neither good nor bad, rather, they just are. The events happen and they are devoid of positive or negative connotation. They are the event and that’s it. Once it has happened it is up to us to individually apply our mindset and viewpoint to it.

This morning was very much imperfect. Several things did not go according to plan. Systems issues, twists and turns, unexpected things. At one point I caught myself getting frustrated and just about screamed to myself. Instead I laughed.

How foolish to let the imperfection of life frustrate me? I am alive, would I rather spend time enjoying it and being grateful for the opportunity to exist in it or would I prefer to get frustrated, nervous, and worked up over something that has already happened?

To be sure, in either case there is the action of correcting the situation as best as possible, that doesn’t change. What I’ve learned about myself is that I will take more time and be more drained if I focus on the negative. If I pause, find a way to be grateful, and view the imperfection as an opportunity to learn and grow I can accomplish so much more and more quickly.

Many things have not gone as planned in 2020. How’s that for the understatement of the year? 😉 That said, I am thankful for the opportunity to live through it. In choosing to see the perfect imperfection of it I’ve learned more about myself than I would’ve learned through an easy year. Last year we travelled a lot and had so many experiences away from home. This year has been completely opposite. It would be easy to get frustrated and angry and to view this as a bad year, but it’s actually been a beautiful year in so many unexpected ways. The imperfection of the year has been perfect. It has been life and I’ve been here to experience it – what could be more perfect?

When things don’t go as planned I need to remember to take a deep breath and find the beauty in the perfect imperfection of life. The twists and turns may not necessarily be the most comfortable, but they lead me to being a better version of me if I choose to appreciate them as such.

Last year this was our view as we rode the ferry back to Sydney… such great memories!


Day 1,526 – Thankful for Surprise Kringle, 31 Years of Christmas Vacation, & Australian Memories

Today was totally a first for me. I got a text from Becky that a package had arrived for me. Someone shot me a couple of surprise kringles fresh from Racine, WI! I’d help out with something and she thought it’d be fitting to re-pay me in insanely delicious flaky layers of almond and apple goodness. Kringles are some of my favorite dessert foods as it is, but today I learned they’re even sweeter when they’re a surprise.

Tonight we fired up the movie that really sets the mood for the holidays in our house, Christmas Vacation. As luck would have it today is the 31st anniversary of the movie’s theatrical release. I can’t believe it’s only 31 years old, I’d swear I’ve watched it every year since I was 5 or so. After all these years this is the movie that gets me officially into the Christmas spirit.

One year ago today the world was a very different place, wasn’t it? Last year on this day we knocked off one of the dreams on my list when we saw a live platypus swimming in the Taronga Zoo in Sydney. We spent much of the rest of the day wandering around Sydney looking at all of the Christmas decorations while we were wearing shorts. We caught a show at the Sydney Opera House that night before heading back to our AirBNB.

In some ways it is crazy to think that was a year ago already and it also seems wild that it was only one year ago. What an odd twelve months it’s been since then. I’m even more grateful for all of the traveling we did last year, all of these memories keep filling my heart on an almost daily basis.

Surprise kringle, Christmas Vacation, and vacation memories… what a full day!


Day 1,525 – Thankful for Shifting the Boundaries of My Self-Imposed Paradigms

When we headed out for our run this morning it was about 23 degrees (23F is -5C for my friends from other parts of the world) and the The wind chill dropped it to 16F (-9C). There were steady blasts of 12+ mph coolness in our faces as we ran north. What’s crazy was that the cold didn’t get to me at all. The only discomfort was the feeling of trying to breathe while running into the stiff wind. The temperature itself was very much acceptable to me, heck, I was even sweating by the halfway point!

My attire this morning on our run? A t-shirt, a very light jacket, hat, gloves, socks, shoes, and shorts. Yup, I was wearing shorts. Last year in this type of weather I would have most likely have been wearing a long sleeve Under Armor shirt, the light jacket, and a windbreaker or sweatshirt over top the rest. My legs would have been totally hidden underneath wind pants and possibly (likely) a base layer of Under Armor. I would have been very sweaty by the end, and I still started the run cold.

Why the change? I’ve been reading more and more of the benefits of cold exposure for my cardiovascular system, joints, and a few others positive health impacts. Over the past couple of months I’ve been taking cold showers (with only the occasional hot shower). I’ve only been wearing shorts on our runs, sometimes losing my jacket and finishing in my t-shirt. This past Saturday on our hike I wore only shorts and a t-shirt. The more and more I’ve been practicing adapting to the cold the more and more my body is showing me that it is okay with it. Not only is it okay with it, but my resting heart rate has even dropped a few beats!

A few months ago I never would have thought I’d be running in the cold weather with as little clothing as I have been. My mental paradigm was that I needed to bundle up and stay warm, cold was to be avoided. After practicing and pushing myself slowly I’m seeing that cold could actually be my friend (probably never my best friend, but that one that you enjoy hanging out with once in a while but wouldn’t really want to ever go on vacation with – that friend). Through minimal suffering I’m finding ways to feel better that I would never have thought possible.

How true is that to so many things in life? When am I living into my self created paradigms and finding comfort there instead of continuing to push the boundaries to find what really brings me the most joy? When I am comfortable I should remind myself to find the edge.

Running in the cold in shorts today actually felt quite amazing. It was refreshing and my legs felt more fresh at the end of the run than normal. I wouldn’t have imagined that just a few months ago.


Day 1,524 – Thankful for Taking Time to Think and Reflect Yesterday

My blog post last night was focused on being thankful for days when things don’t go as planned in the workshop. There were several things that didn’t work out as I would’ve like yesterday. When I wrote my post I took time to think through each of my errors and write notes to myself.

Today I re-read my post prior to starting to wood work again. I reviewed my mistakes from yesterday. Before doing anything else I walked through my plan modifications to salvage one of my projects. I drew it out and then proceeded to craft.

The notes from yesterday helped a ton! Instead of getting frustrated and seeing things not work out everything seemed to fall into place. In a couple of spots I paused for just a second, thought about yesterday, and then realized I needed to do something just a little different. Each time I paused I was able to figure out the right solution.

At one point I was about to glue up my project so I paused and took my time. I practiced my clamping technique one more time prior to gluing. I carefully pre-adjusted the clamps to be approximately the right size and had them lined up on an empty bench in order of application. Once I started gluing I moved slowly and methodically, double checking each piece prior to adding glue. When a piece stuck and didn’t quite fit for a second I took a deep breath, relaxed, and then fit it together. Where I felt rushed and stressed yesterday I felt totally calm and chill today.

The results were awesome – if I do say so myself. Everything worked out very well. Even when things didn’t quite go to plan I paused and figured out a way to make it work. I’d bet that no one would ever guess the issue once it is completed.

So why did today go so well? I paused to soak in the results of yesterday. I took time to assess my mistakes and determine how I could improve. I wrote notes to myself to remind myself how to improve. I didn’t get frustrated, I remembered that I am still learning and yesterday was a day full of lessons. In soaking all of that up yesterday everything flowed so much better today.

What a valuable lesson for me to remember. Take time to learn from failures and successes. Think on them. Write them down. Review prior to starting the next project.

I couldn’t show the projects themselves yet, but I figured I could share one of my weapon of choice 😉


Day 1,523 – Thankful for Days In the Workshop When Things Don’t Go Perfectly

Yes, you read that correctly. I am truly grateful for days in the workshop when things don’t go perfectly.

Do be sure, I am also thankful for days when everything goes smoothly and according to plan. Those mythical days are kind of like unicorns and are deeply appreciated in the moment but also cause me to keep looking over my shoulder to see what impending disaster is trying to sneak up on me. 😉

So what’s my crazy logic for today’s gratitude? Maybe we should start with what happened first.

There were a couple of small things that went as planned. These were projects in the tail end of production and all there was to accomplish on them today was a clear coat. All good there, I didn’t suddenly forget how to use finish or kick up a cloud of dust as the lacquer dried. That all went well.

There was a new design for a box I was trying out. It was going to be more of a throw away attempt at something new, but last night it started to go much better than expected. With that in mind I’d gotten excited about having an unexpected gift to give someone. And then today happened. I was so nervous about trying a couple of new joints and clamping everything up correctly that I missed something important… I put the bottom in upside down and didn’t notice it until after everything was glued, clamped, and dried. Did I mention that I was also using dowels for decoration and stability? Those were also glued, inserted, and dried before I noticed my error. Instead of a great looking gift I have a semi-useless piece of hickory.

Later in the day I thought I would redeem myself and try something new. I’d already battled through a handful of learning opportunities before I mis-cut a piece that really wasn’t supposed to be mis-cut. Who’d a thunk it, right? Instead of getting angry I just let out a sigh…

I set everything down, and then paused to see what I could learn from the day.

  • First off, when trying something new remember to idiot proof the set up. I’m working with wood, it’s very easy to sand off any pencil marks. Next time I’ll write something like “this side up” to remind myself which way it should go.
  • I’ll remember to take my time and slow down. An extra 30 seconds won’t ruin the project. Yes, I have to work quickly when using glue, but remember to slow down, take a deep breath, and get it right.
  • When using wood try to use pieces at least 1/2″ thick. When I’ve ripped boards down to 1/4″ they are so much more prone to cupping. Go a little heavy.
  • Remember to use more pencil marks to show what needs to be cut out versus just using lines as normal. It’s very easy to forget which side of the line to stay tight to.
  • Pause and think about which side of the board should go through the saw first. I sometimes think it will all look the same, but there are times when it really matters. Get used to thinking through the cut on all pieces.

And that’s why I am thankful for days in the workshop when things don’t go perfectly. Each mistake may sting, but if I keep my cool each mistake is also a lesson to help me improve. If I pause to think about the mistake and how it could have been prevented I will prevent future mistakes from happening. Also, mistakes usually mean I’m trying something new and I’m growing. Yes, it sucked making mistakes today, but I was also trying new skills. Of course I’m not going to be perfect each time. If I choose the right attitude I’ll find ways to improve the next time.

Yes, I feel like the scoreboard wasn’t quite in my favor today. It’s okay. It was practice and I’m learning and growing. Tomorrow will be better and the projects I make in the future will be improved as a result of what I learned today.

Instead of a picture of my mistakes, here’s something that went perfectly today… our hiking up Twin Bluffs State Park in MN. Ahh…


Day 1,522 – Thankful for a Solid Sequel, Ready Player Two

I usually keep to my reading order of business / self improvement, fiction, biography. This triad of books styles helps me stay balanced and focused on learning new things, seeing how others have applied them, and then zooming out to see the ideas in action in the vacuum of fiction. I totally skipped that order and jumped right into a new one on Tuesday and just finished it up today.

I was a huge fan of Ready Player One after some friends recommended it to me a while back. The story is filled with so many of the ’80s pop/nerd culture that I grew up with. Almost each page brought back some great memories for me. I still remember where I was when I read it the first time (listening on audio) and can tell you where I was waling during many of the parts. The book was right up my alley and one of my favorites.

On Monday night I hopped onto Audible to see which book I should fire up next. Usually I stick with my wishlist and pull one from there, but I opted to check out the New Releases section for a moment. When I started scrolling through I couldn’t believe my eyes… Ready Player Two was being released the next morning! Without a moment of hesitation I set it up to auto download as soon as it dropped.

Sometimes sequels aren’t so good. Maybe I should phrase it differently? usually sequels are terrible. I was a little nervous at first but then that fear quickly abated as I dove in.

I’m guessing many haven’t read it yet so I’ll be careful to avoid any spoilers. Long story short, it was a fun story and a very entertaining read just like the first. The characters are the same and everything flows very well. Most importantly, there’s a ton of the ’80s and ’90s nerdy Easter eggs that endeared the first book to me. Wow, I really wish I could write more about it! Do us both a favor and read the book so we can talk about it, okay?


Day 1,521 – Thankful for My Newest Nephew, Cooper Nicholas

My little brother and my sister in law had about the best possible Thanksgiving present possible today – a little seven pound bundle of adorable awesomeness, Cooper Nicholas!

The day has been filled with many things I’m grateful for. I’ve had a lot of time with family. Becky made a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. There was plenty of physical activity including time on my bike and a family walk. Dominic put up Christmas lights. Gavin found joy in exercise after initially thinking he didn’t want to. I got some time to work on a couple of woodworking projects. We had a supper of pie. Family game night is now being followed up with the first Christmas movie of the year, Elf. It’s been a solidly wonderful day all the way through.

All that said, the safe delivery of my newest nephew is by far and away what I am most grateful for today. Our family has grown by one. The smile on my little brother’s face on FaceTime to give us our first view of little Cooper was absolutely priceless. The joy that little Cooper has brought to him and his family already is pretty awesome!

Of all the things to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day Cooper reminds me of what is the most important thing in world today – family, love, health, and joy. Thank you little Cooper dude for brightening the day for me and so many today! I’m totally looking forward to spoiling you in the future, kind of like your dad does for my boys.


Day 1,520 – Thankful for a Thanksgiving Eve Tradition, Pies by Grant

There are many different holiday traditions in our family. Today marks one of the most delicious ones!

For the past few years my friend Grant has been making very tasty pies for all of his teammates – including me! The week prior to the holiday I look forward to the question, “Which type would you like this year?” Each year I’ve gone with same response, though each year he has a few different options for us to choose from. Pumpkin pie cheesecake… ahh…

On Thanksgiving Eve Grant brings in a pile of pies and leaves them at each of our desks. Talk about an incredible way to start the morning! This morning was an added bonus… he had an extra pie! Pumpkin pie cheesecake for breakfast? Why yes, I think I will. It partnered wonderfully with my coffee.

After supper we ate half of the pie – the other half has a bonus couple of hours to survive before it’s devoured later this evening. All of the sound around the table was the same… the sound of eating followed by groans of enjoyment and chased with comments like “that’s amazing!”

Grant, thank you so much for an awesomely delicious Thanksgiving Eve tradition dude!!! My entire family appreciates it greatly and are grateful for the awesome treat. Thanks for an excellent dessert and a great friendship!

Is it wrong that even though I’m full I’m getting very tempted to go back for another bite? 😉