Day 391 – Thankful for Dominic Not Being Afraid to Try Something Different

This past spring Dominic surprised me a bit when he told me he had decided to do cross country instead of soccer in the fall.  Knowing how much he had enjoyed soccer I was pretty sure he would change his mind and go back to it before the season started.  He stuck with his initial thought and has enjoyed it ever since.

It’s easy to see that he’s enjoying it and having a great time in his new sport.  The smile on his face and the way he talks about it tell the whole story quickly.  He’s done well and continued to improve.  Tonight was the last meet of the year for him and I was glad to be there to watch him finish it.


When I was his age I was a little hesitant to try something new like switching sports.  Even through high school it wasn’t until my senior year that I changed up the sports that I played.  There was always a fear I had of trying something new and not doing well {not that I did exceedingly well in any of the sports I was already in 🙂 }.  My fear held me back then, and has held me back other times as well when I knew that I wanted to change but was afraid to do it.  Sure, there’ve been more and more times when I’ve taken the chance, but often that didn’t come until I was older.

To see Dominic willing to change things up and try something different at his age makes me smile.  It’s awesome to see that he can make a change, keep a growth mindset, and try new things to find what brings him the most joy.  I’m super proud of him and it inspires me to not back down from any fears of change that I may have.

Dominic Dude, you’ve inspired me yet again.  I still remember the conversation you and I had that moved me to trying out the Tough Mudder and getting over some of my fears to accomplish something that I wanted.  Thanks Stud – Love you tons!!!


Day 390 – Thankful for Getting More Done Than Expected Today

Each day when I work on my  workshop or any project there’s usually an amount that I’m expecting to get done based on how much time I have to work on it and how difficult I think it is going to be.

Today I was working on insulating the floor of my workshop which is also the ceiling of the main floor of the garage.  Going into it I was hopeful to get about a third of the way done today.  When it was all said and done I finished up about three quarters of it!  Everything was moving quickly and going fairly well, there were minimal interruptions, and I had Becky there to help me out a couple of times.

Gavin posing in front of the load of styrofoam and OSB from Menards yesterday.  I was going to post a picture of the insulation progress, but that’s pretty boring compared to this guy!

Usually I bite off more than I can chew, today was one of those days in which everything worked out well, I got in the groove, and just kept humming along.  It was pretty awesome!


Day 389 – Thankful for Another Successful Spook O Ree

Day 389 – Thankful for Another  Successful Spook O Ree

This year’s edition of Spook O Ree was pretty awesome!  Not only did we have perfect weather for all but 10 minutes of rain, but we also got to stay in the Staff’s cabins – they even had beds!

Gavin and I had a blast hanging out with each other, going through the haunted house, playing gaga ball, shooting archery, going on the haunted hay ride (which had bus seats instead of hay bales this year!), and so many other scout related things.

The part that I am the most thankful for though is the time spent with Gavin.  It was great to have some time to just the two of us mixed in with time with his scouting buddies.  It was nice having some chill time with my best-est buddy – Thanks Gavin!!!


Day 388 – Thankful for Memento Mori

Day 388 – Thankful for Memento Mori

Over the past couple of weeks it’s been go, go, go for our family and at work.  Almost all of it has been good things, positive things, things that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and learned from.  The issue is that I’ve gotten tired and feel a little run ragged.  Times like this is when I’m more likely to get frustrated, be less upbeat, and not the positive and optimistic me that I enjoy being most.

In the past few days there’s been a phrase that’s been hanging around in the back of my brain…  Memento mori…  It just stays behind a couple of more active thoughts and then quietly whispers in my ear when I start to forget that I heard it the last time…  Memento mori…  As I’m enjoying a moment with family or at work it slips back into my head…  Memento mori

Finally, it clicked.  I happened across an old quote from Teddy Roosevelt that helped me lock on to this thought and figure out why it’s been haunting me for the past few days.  “We must all either wear out or rust out, every one of us. My choice is to wear out.”  

In a snap, I had the spark of inspiration I needed.  I left the office to go on lunch, hopped in my car, and headed out to a place I’d never gone in my almost two decades of working in Winona…  Woodlawn Cemetery.


I drove in a little ways, parked my car, and just walked.  It just felt right so I threw in my headphones and listened to The Strumbellas (one of the lyrics included “We walked in the night past the pines, the graveyard told stories of everyone’s lives” – fitting, huh?).  Wandering with no specific destination in mind I just walked…  and was present in the moment…  taking in the smells of autumn…  feeling the cool breeze blow across my face…


At one point the wind blew life into the trees and I was instantly awash in a storm of yellow leaves.  It was awes inspiring, feeling like I was in the middle of a giant flock of butterflies.


I walked past the stone markers that showed where a person who was once alive now was laid as they were absorbed back by the earth.  In passing them I quickly read their names, the dates of birth and death, symbols of their faith, and their titles… Mother, Father, Child, Baby…  That was the only story told by their gravestones now.  The dash, the most important part of their life, left a mystery to those who past.


In life they were vibrant, human, and full of emotion.  They probably had many accomplishments, failures, memories, and friends.  Maybe they had money, maybe they had none.  In this place now they are all the same, all equals, all of the earth.  To a person I would imagine they all wished they could’ve had one more day, that they would’ve done something extra, had tried something new, had told someone that they loved them one more time…  But that chance was gone, they ran out of time.


Life is the race that we’re all destined to lose at one point, we need to remember to enjoy the journey, to pull every last drop of life we can from it.  To burn bright, enjoy life, be happy, and work hard.  We’re meant to give all that we can.  In the end, there aren’t any more moments to try harder, to finish what was left undone, to try what we were afraid to do, to accomplish what we were too tired to do.


Walking through the graves reminded me of those thoughts, helped me see the world through their eyes, to see what would they have done differently if they could have a second chance.


Memento mori…  Latin for “Remember you will die.”


On the surface it seems so cold, so harsh, so final, but in actuality it is a beautiful gift.  Remembering that we will one day die is one of the greatest gifts we have.  We know that our time is limited, we just need to keep that in mind and remember to live with that thought in mind.


Memento mori

Yes, I could slow down.  Yes, I could take a breather.  Yes, I could pause…  But I don’t want to!  “My choice it to wear out.”  Feeling tired is proof of the success of this endeavor.  Memento mori



Day 387 – Thankful for Katie Rurup

Today we say good bye to an incredible teammate, Katie.  While I wish her all the best in her next career I can’t help but miss her already.  As she continues to move forward to reaching her dreams I am reminded of all of the reasons I am thankful for the time that I’ve had with Katie.


Over the past two and a half years Katie has had a tremendous impact on both my teams and me personally.  Her work ethic has been incredible, she’s always taking on additional responsibility.  Katie never backs down from a challenge and will always do whatever it takes to take care of her clients and associates.  As others have sen her do this they can’t help but be inspired by her.

Not one to do something just for the sake of doing it, Katie would often hit me with some very tough and direct questions.  I appreciated those questions greatly, I always knew exactly where I stood with her and her thoughts on that specific situation.  I’m not sure if she knows this or not, but when she would ask me those difficult questions she helped me grow as a leader.  Her questions helped me pause and re-assess my strategy.  Her insights often helped to guide us down the right path.

One of the things that I’ve appreciated the most about working with her was her willingness to say “no.”  I know, it sounds a little crazy, but when something didn’t quite seem right she spoke up and did what she felt was the right thing to do.  When she would say no it was always in a very professional way.  In most cases it is very uncomfortable to say no to a leader, but as a leader we need people around us who are willing to speak up and say it.  Katie was always excellent voice of reason in that way.

The majority of our current team members had Katie as a trainer when they started, she did a great job of helping to grow our team’s talent base.  Between those trainings and the training she did for about one hundred other Express people in Dallas Katie made quite the impact on many of us within Express.

As I look back over our time working together it’s amazing to see the impact she had on our team, its success, and on me.  Man, I wish she was still here on our team, but she’s leaving our team in better shape than it’s ever been.

Katie, thank you so much for sharing your time, energy, work ethic, and awesomeness with us for the past two and a half years!  It’s been an awesome journey, thank you for helping us be a more successful team in so many ways.  Kick some butt and take some names in your next adventure, we’ll always be here to cheer you on and help out in any way that you would ever need.  Thank you!!!


Day 386 – Thankful for Three Days with a Thought Leader

Day 386 – Thankful for Three Days with a Thought Leader

The past three days have been an absolute blur of non-stop activity.  Our offices made an investment in signing a contract with an wonderful author and thought leader to bring her to our area to help our clients become even better.  Marlene Chism is the expert in stopping workplace drama and helps businesses in many ways ranging from executive coaching to supervisory training and consulting.  Her two books are great reads for anyone in the business or supervisory world – Stop Workplace Drama and No Drama Leadership.


While the above maybe sounds a little too business-ish, here’s the scoop…  Marlene is an incredible thought leader who has, more than a few times, led me to new insights that I’d missed – both about myself and leadership in general.  She and I immediately built a strong rapport, and in her I had found a kindred spirit who quickly understood me and was able to relate her similar past experiences to me.  As we’ve built our business relationship we’ve also developed a strong personal friendship.  She’s quickly become a coach, a mentor, and a friend, and prior to this week we’d only met once in person.

Over the past three days we’ve had three client forums to help both supervisors and executive leaders look at ways to stop workplace drama and be better leaders.  I’ve had the pleasure of driving and attending each of these events with Marlene and her assistant Heather.

In that time together I’ve been able to see so many sides of Marlene and pick her brain on many ideas I have and challenges I’m facing.  I’ve been able to have that “Wizard of Oz – look behind the curtain” type of tour with her, seeing how she reacts in speaking situations and hearing the origins and bigger picture of her concepts.  It’s been helpful to hear the message, hear the story and thought behind it, hear it again, and then have her right there to answer questions for me.  It’s kind of like listening to a book on and then immediately speed dialing the author to pick their brain!


I can’t even begin to express just how much I’ve learned from her over the past three days.  While it’s led to having to put in extra hours to stay caught up with other work responsibilities, it has definitely been well worth the time.

Marlene, I can’t begin to express just how grateful I am for the experience of working with you over the past three days.  Our time together will lead to lasting positive impacts on me, my teams, and my clients.  Thank you so much for the time and knowledge!


Day 385 – Thankful for the Elephant and the Rider

The elephant is a massive and incredibly strong beast. It grows to over ten feet tall, weighs over six tons, and can carry almost one ton on their backs.  Talk about your immovable object and irresistible force all rolled into one!  That said, the elephant likes routine and consistency, it does not like change.

On top of the elephant is the rider.  The rider knows where he wants to go, where the elephant should go, and should be in charge.  However, at 225 pounds and 6’2″ the rider really has little control over the elephant.  All the rider can do is try to show the elephant the path to follow and coax it to go that way.

The elephant has the muscle and the force to make things happen, and the rider knows what the best thing to do is.  If working in tandem they are unstoppable, but out of sync it’s a disaster.

Several years ago I first learned that analogy of the elephant and the rider from the wonderful Dan & Chip Heath book Switch.  If you’d love an interesting read discussing how to change habits, be sure to check it out.

So why am I thankful for the elephant and the rider today?  Knowing the schedule I had there was only one way to get my run in before work…  Wake up at about 4:30am.  When the alarm went off and Becky shot up out of bed as normal, I just laid there for a moment.  The rider stood up, and then the elephant laid back down.  The rider stood back up, took a couple of steps, and then the elephant crashed back into the bed.  The rider then got up and told Becky that he was going to run, but then the elephant quickly staggered around, came up with excuses, and laid back down – taking LuLu back to bed to snuggle and keep it warm and help it go back to sleep.

In desperation the rider threw a Hail Mary and said, “if LuLu goes for a run, I’m going for a run.”  The elephant grunted and knew that LuLu would stay in bed.  Lo and behold, LuLu jumped out of bed like a flash.  The elephant wanted to stick with its herd so it arose as well.  The rider smiled knowing that it had just helped the elephant see the right path.

This obviously Dominic, not the elephant or the rider, running in this picture 🙂

Becky, Skywalker, LuLu, and the elephant/rider went for their morning run and it felt WONDERFUL!!!

We all have the elephant AND the rider in us all the time.  Sometimes we want to change the path, change the habit, and go the new direction the rider can see, but then elephant stays on the path that it knows, keeps its normal pace, and does its best to ignore the riders voice.  While the elephant is powerful, the rider is smarter and can make incredible things happen if given the tools to beat the elephant.  When I make changes I often think of this analogy and watch for all the ways the elephant is trying to go back to its old ways.  Sometimes the rider wins, sometimes the elephant wins.

Today I’m thankful that the rider won.