Day 338 – Thankful for Becky’s Passions for Travel and Nature

Day 338 – Thankful for Becky’s Passions for Travel and Nature

In wrapping up birthday week(ish) it’s only fitting to be thankful for something related to Becky.  As she jokingly put it earlier this morning, I should be thankful for her every day!  It’s totally true and I am.  The boys even added to the fun today.  At various times they reminded us of how they wouldn’t exist if Becky didn’t have a birthday, and that I wouldn’t be with someone nearly as awesome if Becky didn’t have a birthday.  Later I made a joke about tall people being genetically superior.  Gavin looked confused and said, “but Mom is greater than you are and you’re taller.”  Thanks Bud, love you too!  But I digress…  Yes, I am thankful for Becky every day, but today on her birthday I wanted to focus on two things I am especially thankful for today…  her passions for both travel and nature.


Holding true to a family tradition we went for a hike today for her birthday.  While driving we put together the skeleton of our upcoming trip to New Zealand with the boys in November.  She was getting so pumped up as we figured out what we could realistically see on this trip while starting a list of things to see the next time we go.  The smile on her face was huge and she was totally locked into the task of picking out what we each would probably enjoy most.  Between volcanoes, hikes, geysers, Hobbiton, tide pools, and so many other things she was absolutely beaming.  It was awesome.  Traveling and exploring the world are hugely important to me, I’m thankful to be with someone who’s passion for travel eclipses mine!


The other part of Becky I’m especially thankful for passion for nature.  If it were possible I’m pretty sure she’d be happy spending the rest of her days on a trail or in the ocean exploring all that Mother Nature has to offer.  Her love of nature is so contagious for all around her.  If you’ve been in the wild with her you’ll know what I’m talking about – she can get you pumped and excited about bugs, plants, rocks, animals and everything along those lines.  The unbridled joy that shines from her as she soaks in the natural world is one of the things I love the most about her.  When I’m in that moment with Becky the joy in her has me looking at the world like a little kid, totally full of wonder, wanting to learn more and to experience more.  It’s a pretty awesome experience…  and I am so thankful to be able to do it with her often.


Of course there are so many reasons that I am thankful for Becky, but those two passions of her’s really stuck out for me today.  My life is so much brighter for having the opportunity to travel and experience nature with her often, I am so grateful that she is in my life.


Thanks for all of the many ways you bring awesomeness into my life Babe, you’re the best!  Love you tons!  Happy birthday!!!



Day 337 – Thankful for the Right Music at the Right Time – The Strumbellas

Ever have one of those days when things aren’t quite on track the way that you’d like them to be.  Maybe things are just off a little and not lining up right.  It’s close, but it’s just off…  Know what I mean?  As I was heading home from work today I had that same feeling.  I leaned on an old friend to help me feel on track…  the car radio.

The music of choice today hit the nail on the head and got me going again.  The build up of the music, the infectious beat, and awesome lyrics helped me smile and feel right again.  It was an example of the right music at the right time, and I am very thankful for it.

The Strumbellas were the band today, and I was jamming out to their album Hope.  In particular the songs that just hit it right were Spirits and Wars.  Crazy names, but just what I needed.

As Spirits hits its stride I was jamming out in a full on car concert of one…

And I don’t want a never ending life
I just want to be alive while I’m here
And I don’t want to see another night
Lost inside a lonely life while I’m here

When the singing on the song Wars started I couldn’t help but sing along…

I climbed a mountain and never came back
I will not quit, and I always fight back
And from this moment, for all my life
What could I say
I was born to be this way
And what could I say
Just living for today


There’s something that just seems so right when I listen to the right music at the right time.  I sing, I smile, and I live.  There’s a bond between the song and I, that feeling that there’s someone else out there who gets me right at that moment.  Whether the lyrics, the music, or the memories that it brings up I’m immediately feeling connected…  and everything else seems to work itself out.

Thank you to The Strumbellas for hitting the nail on the head today, you provided the right music at the right time, and it is greatly appreciated!!!


Day 336 – Thankful for People Who Inspire Me – Cheryl Moreno

This morning I had that moment in which I paused and considered going back to sleep instead of running.  I was tired and the sound of a four mile run just didn’t sound too good.  Then I thought of my friend Cheryl Moreno and my run seemed pretty easy.


At 2am tomorrow morning Cheryl is waking up to hike the Grand Canyon from rim to rim.  20+ miles of hiking with some pretty crazy elevation changes.  That is a pretty crazy hike!  And if you think that’s crazy, you should see some of the training plans she’s had to take on to get to this point!


Aside from being a huge hiking fan Cheryl is the heart of the Express Leadership Academy, a training program she helped imagine and build to help the most successful Express franchisees become even better.  Her trainings are always top notch, and she doesn’t shy from pushing us out of our comfort zones.  She’s the tough instructor that gives us the hard truth when we need it and the supportive coach that we need at other times.  The way she can bounce back and forth is impressive.  My experiences with Cheryl in Leadership Academy have had a tremendous impact on much of the successes my teams are seeing.

One of the things I appreciate most about Cheryl was the way she helped me understand Situation Leadership (SLII), an incredible concept designed to help us get and give the coaching, support, and direction needed as we take on new tasks.  Many years afterwards I still remember how she helped me truly get this concept, one that has helped me get through some of my toughest challenges.  From running a marathon the first time to driving on the wrong side of the road in Australia to helping be a better coach for my teams, her training has stuck with me for the long haul.

All that said, you know what about Cheryl really inspires me the most?  Her passion and grit.  She dreams big, busts her butt to make it a reality, and is smiling the whole way through.  She can accomplish anything.  When I see her dream something up I smile knowing that it will happen.  The things I’ve seen her take on are huge and she has to put in tons of hard work to get them accomplished, and she has the grit to do that.  Throughout the struggles, work, and set backs she smiles, stays positive, and keeps on going.

Cheryl, thank you for being an inspiration to me and many others.  Your grit and passion are truly amazing and motivate many.  Kick some butt, take some names, conquer the Canyon, and dream up the next big dream!


Day 335 – Thankful for Tough Days When I am Missing Dad

You’re going to have to bear with me on two very different fronts on today’s blog.  First off, as you’ll quickly see, this is kind of a tough one to write.  Secondly, as you see why it’s difficult to write you might cock your head at why I’m thankful for it today.  Trust me, you’ll see it come together at the end.


I really miss my dad today… a lot.  Of all of the days since his funeral I’m pretty sure this is the toughest one I’ve had yet.  Life is getting back to its normal pace – a departure from the non-stop busy-ness of the past few months.  Training is done, travel is done, the kids are in between events, and I had a day at home without plans.  Next week is a pretty sane week, back to normal.  As I have time to breath I’m feeling a big empty hole that Dad used to fill for me.

One of the biggest reasons for missing him today has to do with what I’ve been doing today.  We went for a hike to Perrot Park and had a great time, but it reminded me of a time when Dad hiked it with us.

After lunch I built a replacement screen for Dominic’s window and there were several times I just wanted to call Dad to ask for advice.  Three months ago I’d call him on something like this, he’d give me some hell, and then coach me through it.  I made it through the project successfully with the help of Becky & Dominic, but it wasn’t the same.

Insulating my workshop before winter is a project I’ve been going back and forth on doing myself or hiring a contractor.  Today I decided I’d give it a shot.  As I started looking at what needed to be done I immediately knew my first step…  call Dad.  That crushed me.  I felt like a little kid, completely lost.  After a bit I pulled it back together and went to a book to coach myself out of it.  Deciding to give it a shot I headed off to Menards for the first wave of materials.  While there I just wanted to call Dad up and shoot the shit with him…  but I couldn’t.  Once I got home and started working on putting up the baffle and thinking through more of the details I just kept wanting to talk with him more and more.

Projects like this were one of our times, one of our connections, one of the foundations of our relationship, and this was the first time I’d taken something like this on since he died.  It was more rough than I ever would have imagined.


As I could feel myself getting more and more sad I pulled from ideas from past blogs and the Book of Joy, and I flipped my thinking.  How amazing is it that my dad and I had so many great times together that I miss him this much?  How awesome is it that as I do these things that we’ve done together so many times I still feel this close of a connection to him?  How fortunate am I to have had him as my dad?  How cool to be able to have learned so much from him?  When I start thinking of it that way I can’t help but smile.  Yes, I miss him dearly, but I start to focus on all the incredible memories we made while working on projects like this and I feel happy.  I start thinking about the projects we worked on together, the times I called him for advice, and the smiles of satisfaction we would share after a project together.  I remember those times and my heart is filled.

So here’s the transition point.  When the dust settles on today, it was a tough day.  That said, I’m thankful for the tough days like this.  They hurt like hell, but they hurt like hell specifically because of how much I love Dad and the memories we created.  I am thankful for days like today because they remind me of just how much happiness and joy in my life has come from my dad.

Dude, I really wish you were here today.  It’s been a rough one.  That said, I know that you are here with me.  I’m so thankful for all of the time that we had, I wouldn’t trade that for anything.  Love you bud!


Day 334 – Thankful for Dominic

Birthday week is in full swing and I’m happy to be thankful for Dominic today!  For his 12th birthday he hitched a ride to the Dells to take an all day soccer referee class.  When I woke him up at 5:30 this morning he was smiling, happy, and ready for a great day.

There are so many reasons that I’m thankful for Dominic.  He’s incredibly kind and wants to make sure that everyone is included and enjoying themselves.  He’s giving of his time, always willing to help others out, and understands the joy that comes from helping others.  The kid got some pretty tremendous smarts from his mom and isn’t afraid of challenging himself to learn new things.  He dreams big and works hard to achieve them (like climbing to the top of the mountain!).  Throw in the fact that he a pretty amazing big brother.  I may be biased, but all in all, the kid is pretty awesome!!!

Super proud of you dude, thanks for being an incredible son and friend.  Your mom and I are so very proud of you and are thankful to have you in our lives!  You may not know this, but you help push me to be a better dad for you.  Thanks for being awesome!!!  Love you Bud!


Day 333 – Thankful for Being Inspired by New Friends

This past week of training in Oklahoma City has helped me out tremendously in several ways.  The training is specifically set up for new Express franchisees opening up a new office.  This is the training that gets them prepared to run their new office, build it from the ground up, and learn the ropes of the staffing industry.

The reason that I wanted to get this training after being with Express for almost two decades was to learn what I was missing, to see how things are supposed to work, and find ways to help my great teams become even greater and positively impact the lives of more people.  To that point the training was an incredible success.


What I wasn’t expecting was the incredible motivation that I received from all of the new (& couple of old) friends throughout this training.  Being surrounded by so many successful individuals who were embarking on a new venture with Express was AWESOME!  They were pumped, excited, nervous, confident, and ready to become the newest superstars in our amazing organization.  Their positive energy was contagious and kept reminding me of why I got into this business in the first place.

In most cases they came to Express to help people, to create something special, and to become business owners.  Some wanted a change of pace from larger corporations.  Others wanted to live their purpose and find a way to help more people.  In all cases they came to Express for the same reasons that many of us have – a family of professionals united in helping people and creating new opportunities.


While I’m excited to go home and start using the skills I’ve learned, I’m going to miss all of the people I’ve trained with.  While we are all scattering across the country, I’m going to be thinking of them often.  When I’m down I’ll remember their excitement and get fired back up.  They are the heart of what our organization is all about, people willing to take a risk to help others while bettering themselves while living out their dreams.

Thank you so much to each and everyone I’ve had the honor of training with in both of these weeks, please know I’ll be thinking of you often, sending positive thoughts your way, and in contact to ask your advice when I get stuck.  I look forward to seeing you all at ILC and cheering for each of you as you head up on stage to get your award for hitting Fast Track…  the first of many successes you’ll have within Express!

A special thank you also to each of our trainers, the Express HQ team, and everyone else who made this an unbelievably successful training.  I’d also be remiss to not thank my wife and boys letting me chase my wild dreams with Express.


Day 332 – Thankful for a Beautiful Night at the Ballgame

Tonight’s blog doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation if you’ve ever been to a baseball game.  To wrap up training our last night in Oklahoma City we had an excursion to the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark to watch the OKC Dodgers game.

The weather was perfect, the food was great, the beer was cold, and the company was fun.  All in all, it was a perfect night at the ballgame!  There’s just something that feels like summer when I’m sitting in the park relaxing like that.  I may not have made it through the entire game, but I enjoyed every minute of it that I was there.



Day 331 – Thankful for Remembering Connectedness

This morning I woke up early and went for a run.  After a shower and getting ready for the day I spent almost the entirety of the next fifteen hours with other people.  Alone for but a short period of time, and then with other people for the rest of the day, and now alone to write today’s blog.

The funny thing is that I really like my time alone.  It gives me energy, I re-charge, I think, I relax, and I chill.  Becky knows when I’ve hit my limit on “people time” because I’ll start to get crabby and just need some time to myself.  That said, it’s also so easy to slip into too much alone time.  I find myself sometimes leaning to that side a little too much and there are times when I’m glad that life nudges me in the direction of more time with people.  Really, in a nutshell, that’s what I’m thankful for today, those nudges that remind me to stay connected.

Without getting into a debate about the entire story of Chris McCandless (read Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer), there was a comment that he made that makes a lot of sense to me on a day like today…


Today I was reminded about this on many occasions.  Our training day was great and there were so many opportunities to connect with others in the class, the trainers, and other people in OKC that I only see every so often.  There was a moment to share my happiness with a team for hitting a goal for a second straight week.  I was able to connect with a teammate who’d been through this training before and we shared our experiences.  Becky and I were able to at least trade a handful of texts with each other throughout the day.  We had an excellent dinner with several of my fellow trainees and one of our founders, a meal in which we learned more about each other.  We took time to share where we came from, how we got here, and learn more about each others’ purpose.  There was so much connectedness and joy.

On the ride home I sat in the way back of the van, thinking that I’d like to have a little quiet and type my blog.  Fortunately, my friend Adam asked me a question about my blog and we started talking.  At one point he apologized and said he’d be quiet so I could type, but I closed up my laptop.  Where I needed to be in that moment was talking with him, connecting.  It was great!  While he was asking questions about this blog and gratitude I’m feeling like I got more out of the conversation being able to think and share why this is so important to me and my happiness.

Once I got back to the hotel I headed up to my room to type and then remembered that I had missed a call from my brother Nick earlier in the day.  I knew that if I called him I would probably be too tired to run in the morning so I shot him a text instead.  Shortly afterwards I thought of how much I would’ve liked to talk with my dad more and wished I’d taken the opportunity to more often.  With that in mind I called Nick and we shot the bull for a good 30+ minutes.  The conversation was mainly focused on laughing and TV, but there were also a couple of things we both needed to talk about that were more serious.  It was great to have that extra conversation time with him, to connect with him.

Now as I blog I’m finally alone.  As I think about it my day was so enriched by the connections that I had with other people today.  Yes, I’m going to need some quiet and alone time soon, but there will be time for that at some point.  The joy that I have today has come from being connected with others.


Day 330 – Thankful for the Ability of Nature to Humble, Connect Us, and Create Joy

I’ve mentioned before that there are often days in which I struggle to focus on one thing to be thankful for, there are so many to choose from.  The funny thing is that often the unrecognized gratitudes seem to start to bubble up and ferment in my brain.  They blend with one another, share interesting connections, and create something even more beautiful to be thankful for.

Yesterday many of us paused to enjoy the eclipse.  Gavin got to see it for his birthday so he was pretty pumped up.  Our neighbors came over and joined Becky and the boys to enjoy the show.  My experience was a little different as I was flying as it started.  Due to a delay it looked like I was going to miss it, but I was happy for Gavin (and Becky & Dominic) and I was able to enjoy the picture of the boys sitting out in the sun seeing this phenomenon.  My disappointment was displaced by my joy for my family’s joy.


As luck would have it the airplane touched down earlier than expected and as I walked out of the airport with luggage in hand I was able to catch it one minute before it hit the peak in OKC.  It was awesome!  As I paused for a moment I saw many people looking a little disappointed…  I didn’t get it until I realized that they didn’t have the eclipse glasses so I started passing mine around to others.  Seeing their smiles and awe inspired by nature put an even bigger smile on my face.  It was pretty neat, there were many people all doing the same thing, all helping out their fellow man.  We were all connected, all enjoying the same incredible light show that God was putting on for us.

Eventually I made my way to the cab and got in for my ride to Express HQ.  The driver and I immediately started talking about how awesome the event was, how beautiful it was, and then we both just paused…  a thought hit me like a ton of bricks and I immediately shared it with the driver.

“How awesome is it that right now, in this moment, we’re all one people enjoying something incredible, something so much bigger than us.  Race, religion, politics, none of it matters to anyone at this moment.  We’re all just people enjoying the presence of something greater than any and all of us…  How awesome is this moment?”

We jumped into conversation and were immediately both on the same page.  He started telling me about his grandson in Atlanta that wants to be an astronaut, I shared stories about my boys.  We talked about family.  We talked about our faiths.  We talked about values.  As we kept talking I just smiled, it was like I was talking to someone who could have been my dad.  Nothing was off limits, we were openly sharing many things, helping each other, sharing joy.  It was incredible and by far and away the best cab ride I’ve ever had.


On Facebook today the old video of Becky and I hiking on the glacier in Canada popped up from this date six years ago.  During a break in training I put on my headphones and watched it.  First I was awed by the size and beauty of what we had seen, then I was stopped in my tracks by the smiles on everyone’s face.  Everyone was experiencing incredibly joy and happiness.  We were a bunch of strangers all mixed together enjoying time and stories with each other all while taking in the presence of something bigger, greater, and more beautiful than ourselves.  The best part is that about seven minutes in there is a smile that Becky flashes a couple of times as she turns to take it all in…  and that’s the smile that I think of when I think of her at her most happy.  It’s an incredible smile to behold and when my number’s punched that will without a doubt be the last image I see.  It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life.

All of these thoughts started to blend and helped me start thinking about something.  How awesome is it that the natural world can provide so much joy to so many through connecting us while humbling us?  Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

Arches 10

Maybe that’s why I love our nature based vacations so much, there’s this feeling of being completely humbled.  In the bigger picture, with different perspective, I am but one of seven billion.  I am here for but a flash compared to the Earth.  I am tiny, small, and insignificant in that moment.  I am humbled.  To be clear, this isn’t some call for help or lack of confidence or anything like that, it’s purely a dose of reality that maybe I’m not as singularly important as I often think myself to be.  My problems are bigger than anyone else’s, my successes are grander than anyone else’s…  you get my drift.  These experiences crush those thoughts so quickly.


The second half of why I enjoy vacations is the interconnectedness.  In our humbled state while enjoying this beauty and greatness of the world around us we aren’t black or white, christian or muslim, male or female, better or lesser.  We’re all the same.  We’re all one of seven billion.  We’re all human.  I think of our vacations (especially in Banff due to the video) and realize that almost everyone on the trails were smiling.  We were all experiencing great joy, and a lot of it had to do with how much more willing we were to talk with each other, start conversation, help each other see things we may have missed.  We help each other, we enjoy nature with each other, and we are one.  What a feeling!

As I wrap it up, I’m so thankful for the ability of nature to humble us, connect us, and create so much joy.  If only I took more time to appreciate ALL of the awesomeness of nature around me maybe I’d be even more joyful all the time?  Then, what if we all took the time to do the same?  What a beautiful world that would be!


March 2010 Florida Trip 1194


Day 329 – Thankful for Gavin!

Day 329 – Thankful for Gavin!

There are some days in which the idea for what I am thankful for is pretty much spoon fed to me. Today is definitely one of those days. Gavin! turns 9 today and he was the first person I talked with this morning, FaceTime actually, which was even more fitting! Even before 7am he was wired, ready to go, and most importantly, smiling and in a great mood!

Interestingly enough, his birthday coincided with the eclipse, a fact you already knew in advance if you’ve spent anytime with him in the past year. Today he got one more birthday present from Grandpa Pete, who must’ve called in a few favors to The Big Guy Upstairs. Yesterday the forecast showed clouds and possibly storms, yet today the clouds held off until the eclipse had happened.

A while back I blogged about how his name should’ve been Gavin! with the exclamation point – that’s just so much more fitting for his personality. Nine years ago today he came in like a ball of fire, and he’s still burning strong. The kid is an Energizer bunny full of happiness and a love of life that is rivaled by few.  As opposed to writing that, here are a bunch of photos of Gavin! in all of his Gavin!-ness!

Thanks for being awesome Bud, you’re an inspiration to your mom and I!  Happy birthday!!!  Love you dude!