Day 143 – Thankful for Crash Test Dummies

Yeah, I’m going a little old school tonight.  Way back in late 1993 I heard the song “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” and immediately had to rush out to buy the album.  If you want to relive some memories and watch the video you can check it out here.

While I got the album (in CD – no digital downloads back in the day!) I instantly fell in love with so many other songs.  The song that I bought the album for quickly became one of my least favorite, not because it was bad, but because of how awesome the other songs were.  As I listened to the lyrics and heard the stories I could totally get what they were singing about.  In a twisted way, they almost sing what my brain is thinking.

One of my favorite tracks is “God Shuffled His Feet.”  In the track God pulls a bunch of his people together for a picnic and chills with them.  As soon as they start relaxing they hit Him up with questions.  He shares a story to help them see the folly of the questions they’re asking Him (it involves a boy with blue hair – which is why it popped into my head today).  They don’t like the answer and ask if that was a parable or a very subtle joke.

They cover things from aging (Afternoons & Coffee Spoons), to introspection, to the dangers of messing with loosening inhibitions (Two Knights and Maidens).  

Another that always makes me smile is “The Psychic.”  When I listen to it I chuckle because every thought and question he poses in the song are exactly the same as questions I’ve thought to myself while imagining what I would ask a “real” psychic (not saying that I believe in them, but I imagine a lot about a lot of things I don’t believe in – just cuz it ain’t real doesn’t mean that I don’t have questions about it!).  It is just spot on with the way my brain works!

Anytime a song of their’s pops into my head I have to fire that old album up, and if I’m alone, I’ll sing my ass off and smile the whole time!  How can I not be thankful for that?


Day 142 – Thankful for Letting Kids Be Kids

When it was Dominic’s turn for a haircut from Kathy tonight he decided that he wanted to go with blue hair.  Seriously?  Like, for reals?  Yup, he wanted blue hair.  Maybe we could pick up some temporary dye and you could try it out and then decide to get it really dyed.  Nope, he wanted it really dyed blue.

I don’t know why, but I kept thinking that he shouldn’t do it.  Maybe he wouldn’t like it.  Maybe his friends wouldn’t like it.  Maybe other kids might give him a hard time about it.  Maybe…  

Maybe I should chill out on the “maybes” and let him try it.  Maybe every thought that went through my head was an indictment of my own insecurities that have held me back from doing things.  Maybe I would be happier if I just did the things that I wanted without worrying about what others would think, after all, when I’ve done that I’ve been at my happiest.

Maybe he’s being a kid and part of being a kid is figuring out things like seeing what you like.  Maybe he will be more willing to take a risk knowing that almost everything in life is temporary.  Maybe he’ll learn that if he does what makes him happy he’ll be happier, regardless of what others think.  Maybe he just needs to see that he has some freedom and is learning to be more independent…

Maybe his mom will kill me if I let him do it!  “Becky, you’re cool with Dominic dying his hair blue, right?”  Whew!!!

All those thoughts, all that personal bought and insight all in the quick flash of hearing “I want to dye my hair blue.”  At the end of the day, he’s a kid and I want him to be a kid and live life like a kid.  Gavin wants a mohawk?  Dominic wants blue hair?  I’m kind of jealous and wish I would’ve done it when I was a kid!

I’m thankful that I remembered to let the kid be a kid today and do the things that make him happy, and I’m thankful that he reminded me to do the same!


Day 141 – Thankful for Uncle Frank Allowing Us to Hitch a Ride on His Dream

Talk about a surreal moment…  Driving to Eau Claire listening to the La Crosse ESPN Radio affiliate and the following local news spot starts off with “Congratulations to Frank Lamping for being the 19th fan elected to the Green Bay Packers Fan Hall of Fame…”  It was awesome!!!  The entire local news spot was focused on my Uncle Frank and his recent induction.  As the few minutes of recapping why he was selected I just smiled and had tears of happiness running down my cheeks.

What I’m thankful for today is for Uncle Frank allowing many of us to hitch a ride on his dream.  Over the past 24+ hours it’s been a crazy ride of hearing congratulations from friends and co-workers, seeing news stories everywhere about my uncle, sharing hugs and conversations with family, helping people understand that yes, he really is the first person in the stadium every game day…  Hearing it on the radio just struck a chord for me.

Shutting off the radio to have time to take in the moment and just think about this entire experience was exactly what I needed.  As my mind went over everything from going to games with Uncle Frank to the fan voting process to yesterday’s events I just kept coming back to the same conclusion, how amazing is it that not only did he accomplish his dream, but he allowed all of us to share in that dream with him?


By hitching a ride on this dream he helped us learn several amazing lessons if we take the time to think about them.  As I drove there were three that really stuck out for me.  As you have time to think about this please let me know what other lessons, ideas, or inspirations you’ve gotten from this experience.

The first is the power of giving.  One of my mentors explained it to me in a very easy to understand way once.  “Give.  Just give with no intention of ever giving back.  Give more than you think you can afford to give, you’ll find that you can afford it.  After you give, the rewards that will come back to you in the end are priceless.”  Uncle Frank’s journey is a testament to this.  One need only look at the many members of the community who united to support him.  How many lives has he touched in a positive way?  How many of us were given something by him, whether a thing, a helping hand, an experience, a hug, or anything?  Never asking for praise, never asking for re-payment, he just continues to give.  In living this dream it’s so powerful that he was able to see a glimpse of just how many people he’s impacted in his life.  For each of us that he brought along, how many conversations have we had with friends and family who voted for Frank even though they’d never met him?  How many times did people vote for him because they knew us and wanted to help us and give us a gift?  Uncle Frank, you gave again through this experience, you gave each of us a chance to see some of the lives we’ve impacted.  Thank you for reminding us of the power of giving!

The second lesson is that attitude truly is everything!  That said, life is too short to choose anything but optimism, happiness, and positivity.  You’re always in a great mood!  Everyone is drawn to that positive energy and want to be near you because of the constant source of happiness.  You remind us to be aware of our attitude and our ability to choose it.  With your health diagnosis it would be easy to say “why me,” but instead you choose to kick cancer’s ass and not be a victim to it.  No matter what you face you hit it the same way, with happiness, a positive attitude, a smile, and passion.  As Frank’s story has been told many times how many of us have paused at one time or another and realized that we were bummed about something or playing the role of victim or complaining only to stop and remember that when you got the news that no one wants to hear you stayed positive, optimistic, and chose the right attitude.  Thank you for reminding us to choose our attitude!

Lastly, thank you for sharing the power of passion.  The passion you have for the Packers.  The passion you have for your community.  The passion you have for your family and friends.  The passion you have for Aunt Andrea.  The passion you have for life.  At every step of the way it was truly this overwhelming passion that just exudes from you that helped you win this honor.  You live your life with incredible passion, and based on the following quote by Vince Lombardi, we can see why you received this honor.  “Once a man has made a commitment to a way of life, he puts the greatest strength in the world behind him. It’s something we call heart power. Once a man has made this commitment, nothing will stop him short of success.”  Thank you for reminding us of the incredible force of passion, of heart power.

Hitching a ride on your dream has been incredible and has helped me look at my life and my values in from a different perspective.  Uncle Frank, while these three lessons have been very impactful for me and for many others, I have to say that there is one thing that I am thankful for more than them.  There’s one thing that is so awesome I feel that my words won’t do justice to the gratitude that I’m feeling.

You taught my boys that nice guys finish first.  Gavin and Dominic were able to see a real life example of how someone can reach their dreams.  They saw how living a life of the right values leads to rewards greater than winning.  As you put it, the journey is the reward, and we had to explain this to them when there was a chance that you weren’t going to win.  Of course they still wanted you to win, but they saw that you had already won because of the way you’ve touched the lives of so many others.  You taught them that going with your passion, in any direction that it may take you, can lead you to great reward.  You taught them to stay happy, stay upbeat, and stay positive.  You gave them a story that we can go back to when discussing values, you gave them a story they’ve met and hugged.  What an incredible gift you’ve given them!

To close up, is there a more fitting way than another Lombardi quote?

“….I firmly believe that any man’s finest hours – his greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear – is that moment when he has worked his heart out in good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”


While we all know that you never ever stop or slow down, and we’re all pretty sure you’ll never lay exhausted on the field of battle, we do know that you’ve worked your heart out in a good cause and are victorious.  Thank you for letting us all hitch a ride on your dream!


Day 140 – Thankful for Modern Connectedness 

In case you missed it, Uncle Frank was selected to become the 19th member of the Packer Hall of Fame today!!!

While I wasn’t able to make it to Green Bay for the festivities it felt like I was right there.  I paused everything at 11:00, texted my brother Nick, and he came through in the clutch.  He fired up FaceTime and streamed the entire event to me live.

With my phone’ mic on mute I was able to watch the introductions, hear Uncle Frank’s name get called, and then share in the eruption of cheering and applause.  It was awesome!!!  Seeing the emotion on Uncle Frank’s face was incredible, as was hearing the sounds of happiness.  I laughed at some of his comments, and had a little awesome welling up in my eyes as he choked back his emotions.  It was an incredible moment to be able to share, I’m so thankful that I was able to enjoy it.  

The other thing it reminds me of is what an awesome relationship my brother and I have.  There’ve been many times in which we’ve been able to share in a moment like this (well, okay, not quite like this) via phone, FaceTime, or text and it’s felt like we were there hanging out together even though we were hours away.  While it’s always better when we’re in the same room or stadium I’m always impressed with our ability to connect for things like sporting events…  I don’t know how else to explain it, it’s just pretty freaking awesome, and I am very thankful for it.


Day 139 – Thankful for Travel Books

“You know what the three most exciting sounds in the world are?   …Anchor chains, plane motors, and train whistles.” – George Bailey, It’s a Wonderful Life

Amongst the things I love most in this world are my family, my friends, creating things, and vacations!  Travel is far and away one of my favorite hobbies.  As I re-work my dream list of 100+ things I want to do before I die there’s an overwhelming number of vacations on there.  There’s so many on the list that I am wondering if I should have two different lists, one travel based and one everything else 🙂

Today’s mail included the latest travel book, one on the Cayman Islands.  When I snuck out of the office for lunch I just found a quiet place to park the car and read for about 20 minutes, soaking in as much info as I could.  Anyone who would have walked by would’ve wondered why the crazy red headed stepchild was smiling so big!


That big smile is what got today’s blog going…  While the travel itself is always awesome, the travel book does such a great job of helping to build even more anticipation.  Like today, reading about great snorkeling areas, swimming and kayaking in bioluminescent ocean water, and visiting Stingray City – Hell Yeah!!!!  I’m ready!!!

Thanks for building anticipation and excitement today travel guide, you put a huge smile on my face!


Day 138 – Thankful for Tubing on a Perfect Winter Sunday

This was a great weekend with the family, so many fun moments together.  The one that’ll stick out the most in my memory, besides my homemade deep dish breakfast pizza, is definitely tubing with Cub Scouts today.

The weather was PERFECT!  The sun was out, the air was relatively warm (40’s in February is all good in my book!), and there was still enough snow to enjoy the hill.


Becky and I walked up the hill at least a dozen times, using the lift only once, so we got a pretty sweet workout in too.  Three hours of enjoying the fresh air, speeding down the slopes, and laughing the whole time.  It was AWESOME!!!

It was about the perfect way to wrap up an incredible weekend, spending time outside with Becky and the boys while having fun and laughing.


Day 137 – Thankful for Awareness of Time Passing

Okay, I’ve got to come clean on this one, I’m actually starting it a little bit early (like last night), but it is one that I could feel brewing that needed a little more time to distill and is important enough that I capture it and not let it slip by.
What I’m thankful for today is what I consider the sixth sense.  Forget ESP, what I’m talking about is something more tangible.  It’s a real sensation that is closely tied to other senses, so much so that I have a tough time describing it without typing words like ‘see’ and ‘feel’.  The sixth sense I’m thankful for today is the awareness of time.
Maybe it’s just old age setting in and I’ll have some friends and family older than me share the truth that I’m merely getting old.  Maybe it’s some crazy form of enlightenment form being thankful for so many days.  Who knows, maybe I’m just delusional…  that’s what the voices in my head tell me!
Over the past few days there’ve been many moments in which I’ve been acutely aware of the passing of time.  From talking about how quickly time flies by with my dad to touching a tree that’s over a century old to having the same conversation I’ve had with adults when I was a kid, so many moments that made me pause and feel time flowing by.
So many of the moments of my life (all 21.2 million of them – seriously, I’ve lived over 21 MILLION minutes) go by without any awareness of time going by.  I’m either in the moment or ignorant of the moment.  It passes by and is gone, never to be lived again.
In many cases I am thankful for this fact.  While sitting on the porch overlooking the Pacific ocean with Becky and feeling the sea breeze blowing lightly across my face I didn’t want to feel a moment go by, I wanted to stay in that moment as long as I possibly could.  I didn’t feel time because I chose not to.
There are so many other times that time goes by without my notice out of sheer ignorance.  I’m “too busy” with things like my phone, the news, social media, or just doing nothing.  In these times I miss the passing of time because I’m not being grateful for the moment like I should be.
Other times, in between the other two extremes, I swear I can pause, shut off my normal five senses and just sense time going by.  The crazy thing is that it comes through the other senses but is felt in my soul as opposed to any physical part of my body.  I listen closely and hear the sound of leaves rustling and the subtle whistling of the wind and I can sense time moving by.  Sitting by the ocean I can feel time passing with the crash of each wave on the shore.  Standing by Wind Cave I remember hearing the Earth “breathe” and had a similar feeling.  Hiking near Devil’s Lake I remember seeing roots pushing through the paved trail and I could see time when I looked closely at it.  In all of those times and many others I feel acutely aware of time passing and it brings me peace.
Time passing is neither good nor bad, it just is and will continue to be.  Anything I do won’t change it, there is no way for me to exercise some level of control over it.  I’m pretty sure that’s where the sense of peace comes in…  It gives me perspective to see my place in the universal pecking order…  I’m tiny!  It’s similar to the feeling of being in the mountains and just looking up and realizing that the entirety of my life is just a flash of lightning in theirs.
So why the sense of calm and piece when I feel that small?  It reminds me that I only have so much time, I’d better get off of my ass and use it in the right way.  Time will keep going and pass me by without so much as a care of how I’m using it.  Knowing that I need to remember that it’s up to me to get the most out of the time I have.  When I’m in touch with that sixth sense and am aware of time passing I seem to make better decisions on how I use the most precious resource I have.  When I lose that sense I can quickly find myself slipping into the old habits of staring at my phone, vegging on the couch, and just doing nothing.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that as long as that is what I choose to do, but the issue is that when I lose track of that sense I let time happen to me instead of me asserting myself.
While I haven’t made perfect use of the time I’ve had so far today I’ve at least made more good decisions on how to spend my time, I’ve been more intentional with my actions.  When I have days like this I can feel my happiness increase…  and the root cause of this happiness is the awareness of time passing.

Day 136 – Thankful for Outdoor Activities Through Summit Environmental School

Tonight we had a pretty awesome way to wrap up the week, a moonlight hike through the marsh in La Crosse courtesy of Summit Environmental School and WisCorps!  In addition to the hike we had a great story told about how the loon got its white coloring and why the moon goes from new to full and back again each month.  We learned a lot about the giant cottonwood in the middle of the marsh and got to see the results of an awesome photography project in which a picture was taken of the same tree every single day for a year (hmm…  sounds kind of familiar!).  Some snacks and hot chocolate and the event was wrapped up.



The weather was awesome, tons of families were out, and it was an excellent time with Gavin (Dominic was over at a friend’s house).  It was so entertaining to see him interacting with his classmates while we hiked.  His personality was out in full force and all we could do was smile as we listened to the conversation.

Today I’m so thankful that we have a school that focuses on both the outdoors and family events.  Principal Hunter is an incredibly outstanding man, I’m always so impressed with how well he knows EVERY kid and EVERY parent – it’s impressive!  Even more than that, you can just tell that he has a passion and love for watching those kids grow and having a positive impact in their lives.  His smile at events like this lights up the room and all the kids love him.  To have Gavin in a school like this makes me so thankful.

The week is a wrap and it’s on to the weekend, I can’t think of a better way to kick it off!


Day 135 – Thankful for Bill Leonard

When we got home from work tonight there was a pretty cool letter in the mail addressed to Dominic.  It took us a while to place the name and we kept scratching our heads trying to figure out who Bill Leonard is.  We weren’t sure at first if it was a teacher or someone from Scouts.  After a while Becky stopped and said, “isn’t that ‘the guy’ from church?”  If you remember way back to Day 329 from last year you might be thinking of “that guy” that reminds me of my dad, but it’s not him (that’s Dennis).  Bill is the other “that guy” from our church, the guy who, coincidentally, almost was the topic of my post on Sunday.  The only thing that got in the way of that post was this really awesome newspaper clipping about Dominic being Student of the Month…  Which, oddly enough, ends up front and center again today!


Bill is quite the guy, one of those individuals you can just tell right off the bat is a great man.  I still remember hearing him do a reading in church for the first time and wishing he did it every single week.  His voice is tailor made for reading from the bible, it has a raw power that commands attention while at the same time having a calm and soothing undertone that helps you hear the care in his words.  Over the past few years we keep bumping into him and we’ve started sitting pretty close each week depending on what time we get there.  He and his wife are always at the 9am on Sunday in the second section in on stage left, about 5 rows back, and we’re somewhere nearby.

Every single Sunday there’s at the very least a nod and a big smile, but most of the time he goes out of his way to shake hands and talk with us a little bit.  Now all of that in of itself is great, but the thing that really makes me appreciate Bill is how genuine he is.  I don’t know how to describe it, but you can tell he is exactly who he says, and he’s as great of a guy as he seems.  This past Sunday as he was walking by at one point he placed his hand on the back of my neck and gave me a good squeeze.  As I type it I know it might sound kind of weird, but there was something that was just so loving about that squeeze, a personal connection, something that either of my grandpas, my uncles, or my dad would do.  It was a personal connection of approval, of caring, and it brought a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.  That’s what I almost typed about on Sunday, this simple gesture of love that was out of the blue and very much appreciated.

Now fast forward back to today…  “Isn’t that ‘the guy’ from church?”  Yes, it had to be.  While we didn’t have any proof, we both just knew.  It was totally something that he would do.  So as Becky drove to yoga I pulled up a Google search of his name and saw this face smiling back at me from my iPhone screen…


While today I am thankful for Bill and how he not only took the time to recognize the photo, but then sent a handwritten note, I’m also thankful for all of the happiness he’s brought me each week over the past several years.  He has no idea, but there have been many smiles created by him and many mentions of “I really need to take that guy out to coffee and get to know him better” after church.  Bill, thank you for all of the happiness you’ve brought into my life and the life of my family.  Each of those smiles bring me joy and remind me of how important it is to really connect with our church family.  They also remind me of how important it is to smile at others, you just never know when it might warm hearts that need it.


Day 134 – Thankful for 500 Crazy Days of Thanks

While today is only Day #134 of this blog it marks the 500th Day of being thankful each day.  Holy crap!!!  500 days in a row of doing something, that doesn’t happen very often!

Today was pretty much a great microcosm of why I do this blog.  It was filled with many little moments and events for which I am thankful.  Some of the highlights include:

  • Becky’s intensely happy mood in the morning
  • Being able to get the boys on the bus and get to work on time
  • Demonstrating a sales call for a new teammate
  • Meeting with a client over a delicious cup of coffee
  • Taking time to think
  • Getting some incredibly insightful feedback from a team member
  • Receiving some very awesome praise fro another team member
  • Hearing some of the backstory of one of my teammates
  • Seeing several emails in my inbox from teammates praising other teammates
  • Great training that is helping me with a tough conversation
  • Having the $10 extra bucks to be able to impulse buy a lava lamp for Gavin
  • Preparing for the scout meeting in advance
  • Becky gently reminding me several times to prep for the scout meeting in advance
  • Being able to help Dominic learn how to make a tough decision (ask Becky for advice)

And then to wrap up the night (at least until this point, there’s still a good hour until bed) I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to lead Gavin’s scout meeting.  The boys were full of crazy energy as always and it was awesome.  While I had a beer at home to relax afterwards, it is so awesome that I’m able to help the boys out and create a memory for them.  One of the things I love the most is being able to create something and there’s nothing better to pull together out of the aether than a memory.  Tonight we made a tornado in a bottle, Alka Seltzer lava lamps, and glittery slime.  The boys were smiling and it was AWESOME!!!


Day 500 was a fantastic day!  The funny thing is that now that I take the time to think about what I am thankful for it seems that the fantastic days have grown exponentially and the crappy days are few and far between…  And even they have their silver lining if only I take the time to look.  500 days is a long time, and it’s also a great first step!  Here’s to the next 5,000 days of gratitude!!!