Day 378 – Thankful for Being a Nerdy Family

Yesterday’s blog was pretty deep and heavy, today’s is much more light hearted.

Long story short, I love my family.  Tonight we enjoyed something as a family that is a little dorky, but all types of awesome in my book…  We watched the new Star Wars trailer together and followed it up with a short video breaking down the trailer!

The fact that all of us were sitting mesmerized and staring at my laptop as the preview played makes me love my family all the more!  I am thankful to be a part of a nerdy (and proud of it) family!


Day 377 – Thankful for Grief

Grief is a pretty messed up thing.  Even its definition is crazy complex:

Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, cultural, and philosophical dimensions.

Seriously?  Could it be more complex?  Pretty sure that when the word “multifaceted” is thrown into a definition it is there only because the definition is really too complex or difficult to really understand.  Some writer at Webster’s probably had a go at defining it for a few days and and finally said, “screw it, there’s no clear way to define it…  I’m just going to say it’s ‘multifaceted’ and call it a day.”

So you’re probably wondering where this is all coming from and why I’m thankful for it today.  I know, kind of a weird rabbit trail today, isn’t it?

While driving home today I fired up some music and just took some time to chill and think.  The song that started once I plugged in my phone was the very sad, yet hopeful, theme song to Gattacca – The Departure by Michael Nyman.  It is hauntingly beautiful, flowing with obvious sadness, but even though there are no words, you can hear the hope in it, the optimism of something better.  As I listened I thought of my dad and remembered the movie.  There were themes crossing paths as I thought of his passing and the end of the movie that were sad, yet loving and positive.

After that song I went for another that seemed to fit the mood – a song that is a combination of This Bitter Earth by Dinah Washington and On the Nature of Daylight by Max Richter.  This song fits a similar bill, sad yet hopeful.  Once you start to listen you can’t help but start to get sucked into it.  I don’t know that I’ve ever listened to it just once, it’s always better twice in a row.  If you are having a tough time picturing where you’ve heard it before – it’s in the movie Shutter Island.

From there I stumbled into 7 Years by Lukas Graham – a song that Dominic had on a playlist and I recently listened to a couple of times when hanging out with Gavin in the workshop.  I know, totally pop music-ish, but the concept of the song just felt right, especially the lyrics, “Soon I’ll be sixty years old, my daddy got sixty-one – Remember life and then your life becomes a better one.”

Once I got home and started firing up the grill I had another song pop into my head and had to play it right away – Good Grief by Bastille.  While the lyrics are focused on grief and the pain of loss, the song is incredibly upbeat.  As they wrote it that was the entire focus and meaning behind the song (think of the title, kind of an interesting play on words):  “Smith wanted the song to encapsulate, ‘the stages of denial, shock, depression and complete euphoria’ that come with feelings of grief, and the alien feeling of being at a funeral. ‘It could be a massive celebration of someone, or hugely sad. There could be moments of euphoria and people getting pissed and collapsing on the floor.’ As Smith explains, grief is a ‘complicated reality’.”  Pretty much nails the feeling of grief, doesn’t it?

As we started wrapping up the night I was blogging on the couch and played a couple of music videos for the boys right before they went to bed.  After the one I said would be the last I made the mistake of looking to the right column of YouTube and I saw one that I HAD to click on with the boys…  after starting it Becky put down what she was doing and took it in with us.  The song/video?  The Nights by Avicii…  a song that always makes me think of Dad and of being a dad.

There are just some blogs in which the picture just screams out that it’s the right one for the day – this was one of those days 🙂

As I look back at it, today I’ve felt “a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed,” – I have felt grief.  I’ve been sad, I’ve cried.  The funny thing is that while I’ve had those two feelings, they’re in the overwhelming minority.

Most of what I’ve felt has been the following:

  • Happiness – so many incredible memories that I’m so thankful to have.
  • Love – my family has surrounded me most of the night and we’ve enjoyed each other’s company.
  • Laughter – thinking back to memories we’ve had together, the jokes we shared, seeing the world through the eyes of a dad and thinking of how he must’ve felt at various time.
  • Gratitude – as I’m a father I’m so thankful to have had a dad who was an incredible role model for me to follow in the footsteps in.

Today I’ve felt grief for the loss of my father… and it felt really good.  I miss Dad, but even in his passing he’s helping to bring me joy.  If grief can bring joy as much or more as it can bring sorrow, I am very thankful for it.

Dad, this was an interesting day.  Mom had warned me that there was just something about Fall and missing parents and loved ones, she was totally right.  It’s funny though, I started off sad and missing you.  You probably saw some of the tears and gave me some shit (as much as you are allowed to in Heaven anyways).  That feeling of sadness didn’t last very long, it was quickly replaced with joy, love, happiness, laughter, and gratitude.  I miss you tons, please know that you are still bringing me joy even though you’re gone.  I love you Dude!


Day 376 – Thankful for Sweet, Sweaty, and Delicious Successes

Ahh…  The feeling of success…  and then more success…  Throw in a chaser of an exciting Packer victory and there’s nothing but an after taste of success!


Becky and I finished our half marathon this morning and we did way better than either of us expected.  It was pretty awesome to spend time running with Becky as we completed a goal we’d set together.  Not going to lie, it was kind of funny thinking back to our first half marathon when I was all bubbly and excited, helping to keep her going when she wasn’t feeling the strongest.  Here we were today in completely flipped roles.  She was bubbly, encouraging and cheering everyone on and I just wanted to find a ditch to die in!  She kept me going and we finished.  It was a sweet and sweaty success!


After cleaning up Becky headed up north to pick up Dominic, the Deer Slayer!  Dominic hunted in the Youth hunt with his Grandpa Ken and shot his first deer.  He was pretty pumped and excited, I’m so happy they had a successful hunt.  If you’d like to hear an awesome story be sure to ask him how he shot it.  I can guarantee he’ll be smiling the whole time.

While they were driving back to La Crosse Dominic called to let me know that I wasn’t supposed to pick anything up to grill for supper, we were going to grill up some of his venison steaks…  They were AWESOME!!!  Delicious success!

Life is always full of ups and downs, this was a day that ended with pretty much all ups.  Sweet and sweaty successes.  Delicious success.  Did I mention a Green & Gold success?


Day 375 – Thankful for the Smell of Construction

There are some smells and sounds that trigger happy memories. As I spent time working on insulating my workshop today there was one smell that was constant, and I’m thankful for that smell… the smell of construction.

The smell of freshly cut wood reminds me of spending time with my dad on one of many different projects. I thought of him often as I worked today, and every time I walked back into the garage from the house that smell hit me and I thought of Dad.

It’s rough working on this project, the first big one since he passed away. He’s not a phone call away like before. He’s not answering carpentry questions for me. He’s not there to send pictures to and to brag to when I do something better than expected. He’s not here helping as he normally would. That said, as I smelled that new construction scent I knew he was there with me. And for that I’m thankful.


Day 374 – Thankful for Kickin’ It Old School with My Best-est Buddy

It all started this morning when I walked into Kwik Trip and heard an awesome ‘80’s tune. Colin Hay belted our “Who Can It Be Now?” as I grabbed a soda. Before I knew it I was singing it in my head while shopping. And the rest, as they say, is history.

After work it was just Gavin and I, Becky was taking Dominic up north to hunt with his grandpa this weekend. We decided on an old school dad feel kinda meal… Bacon ranch grilled cheese sandwiches. Dee-lish!!!

While driving to the grocery store we talked about “old school” video games including Donkey Kong. I shared my memories of watching Dad play Donkey Kong at Skyline way back when we were kids. I loved watching him play and I used to love playing that game. It was awesome to hear about Gavin’s interest in it.

As I cooked supper Gavin played with a couple of games. I blasted several Men At Work songs before diving into my ‘80’s Pandora station. Chilling and listening to the songs of 30 years ago felt pretty damn awesome.

To keep the old school feeling going we fired up Godzilla while eating supper… and not the new one. Now we’re chilling on the couch and enjoying the movie.

It feels pretty awesome to kick it old school with my best-eat buddy on a dreary night like this.


Day 373 – Thankful for an Incredible Sunrise and Nowhere to Pull Over

Quick disclaimer, the picture attached is not from this morning.  It is meant to help describe what I saw this morning.  As the title of today’s blog reads there was no good spot to pull over for a picture today.  


As I walked out of the house to my car this morning the sunrise really caught my attention.  The outlines of the many layers of clouds were all highlighted with a very deep reddish pink, they appeared to be glowing.  I smiled, made a comment to Becky and started looking forward to my drive to work.

Stopping at the end of the street I was greeted by another incredible sight.  Looking past the airport and into the Mississippi River valley there were purplish pink clouds letting loose purplish pink rain in wide streaks across the sky.  It was amazing!  The sky seemed a watercolor painter’s canvas, all pastels and blending.

At this point I started thinking to myself that I need to find a spot to pullover so I can get a picture of the beautiful sunrise.  Mentally running through the checklist of places I’ve stopped before there wasn’t one that would have the right elevation or angle for what I wanted to get.  Another thought popped into my head and I decided to take my chances and drive, it was a ways away, but the only spot that I could think of that was on the way and that met my criteria.

Crossing the river and turning north I was welcomed to Minnesota by another scenic view.  Further up the valley was a bright pink rainbow.  It had the normal rainbow colors buried in it, but it was so vibrantly pink that it almost looked like a purely pink rainbow.  Due to the sun being just below the horizon the angle of rainbow was not normal.  The rainbow seemed to go almost straight up into the heavens, a beacon from Earth to The Big Man Upstairs.  As I observed the landscape I was eventually able to find where it came back down – another pillar of pink rainbow that seemed to go completely vertical.  The other part of the rainbow that was so awesome was that the lighting east of it was a soft purple and pink, but the light to the west was a stark contrast, blindingly pink.  The rainbow the line of delineation between one beautiful and muted purplish pink sky and a dazzling pink one.  Wishing I could take a picture I just smiled and realized that there was no way for me to do it justice in a picture.

Driving further up river and turning onto 61 the sky took on that eerily beautiful golden hue that I only see a couple of times a year at either dusk or dawn when the conditions are just right.  The colors of the leaves became more vibrant, everything else shifted color slightly, and it played tricks on my eyes.  It was gorgeous, seeing the world through a cloud of gold.

By now I’m getting closer to the spot I wanted to stop and I’m realizing that there are a few problems with my choice.  The sun is coming up higher and the colors are dampening.  The clouds are rolling in, the rain is starting to fall, and the colors are being muted by gray.  The angle is a little different than I’d remembered and there’s not a good way to capture the entire sky like I thought.

Instead of getting disappointed, I’m smiling.  In my head I’m hearing the line from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, “If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera.  I just want to stay in it.”   I’m realizing that I’ve been burning this series of beautiful views of the sunrise into my memory for the long haul, I’ve deep down known that I might not be able to capture it in a picture, but I know I can hold it forever in my brain.  There’s also a thought in my head helping me realize that maybe The Big Dude Above wants me to remember this lesson – there’s a time and a place for a picture, but there’s also a time to be in the moment.  So many thoughts, but not one of them is focused on disappointment, just gratitude for having experience this series of moments.

What an awesome start to the day?  Beautiful sunrise and views, life lessons, and gratitude.


Day 372 – Thankful for Pausing the Chaos to Enjoy Nature for a Moment

Another day of crazy busy. Up by 5am, running with Becky and the girls. Off to work, get many tasks knocked of the list, handle a couple of curveballs. Head home, kiss Becky, eat supper, Becky heads out to pick up Gavin, a few minutes later I head out to drop Dominic off at church…

The script then read something along the lines of “chill in the car, get some work done, bring Dominic home, sell popcorn on the way, and crash at home.” I guess I’ve never been great at following scripts, I prefer improv… and that’s exactly what I did. Of course I’ll be back on track soon, but I took a 30 minute detour and I’m very thankful for that.

As I was driving Dominic to church Becky told me to check out the moon, it looked huge! The color was also pretty awesome and I got an idea. I dropped Dominic off at hutch and then hit the gas and headed out towards Granddad’s Bluff. My plan was to drive out and get a sweet pic of the moon.

As luck would have it, I struggled to get the right angle and the brightness never quite panned out… I smiled to myself and was just happy for the chase to see something awesome, to pause the chaos for one fleeting moment, to enjoy nature.

When I whipped a U turn the deep red of the western horizon really caught my eye. I hightailed it to the top of Granddad’s Bluff just in time to get a few sweet shots that made me smile.

As I was walking from the parking lot to the observation area I paused to enjoy the cool fall weather (1st date with Becky weather). The breeze felt amazing, the smell of fall hung in the air. I was in the moment, my senses loving every second of it, enjoying the non-hurried feeing. It was exactly what I needed today.

And now back to reality… sitting in the car, getting work (& this blog) done. Soon Dominic will come out and I’ll start heading home, selling popcorn for Scouts along the way. Shortly after getting home I’ll crash. Right back on script… but there’ll be one difference… I’ll be laying in bed smiling at the memory of pausing the chaos for a moment to enjoy nature today.


Day 371 – Thankful for Another Milestone

Super proud of, and thankful for, my Winona team today!  In every business there’s usually one goal, maybe two, that really tell the story of your team’s success.  In our case one of those two measurements is the number of local businesses we have our people placed at.  The more businesses we have people placed at the more different opportunities we have to offer, the more opportunities to offer the better the odds of getting them in the right career.

Winona started out the year averaging 45 clients each week (clients is the term for the businesses we have our people {associates} placed)…  This past week we hit our highest total almost ever (with the exception of a special project a handful of years ago).  We have our associates working at 64 clients just in Winona!!!  Up until last week we couldn’t quite break past 61, but this week we jumped huge!  Over the past four weeks we’ve averaged over 60 clients per week, we’ve increased by 33% since the beginning of the year – how awesome is that???


My team has been busting their butts over the past 9+ months and I’m so thankful that they’re seeing the incredibly awesome fruits of their labor.  I’m beside myself with pride and gratitude for this team, they continue to blow past what we thought was possible and reset bigger goals.  Congrats on crushing it!!!


Day 370 – Thankful for a Milestone

Just when I think that I’ve got the perfect idea or two for the blog something happens and I change it up.  Today was that kind of day.  There were things that came up completely out of the blue, making progress on projects, and a philosophical idea that I was going to focus my gratitude on, but as the day kept going I knew there was really only one direction to take my blog today.

Exactly 18 years ago today I was able to sweet talk a beautiful blonde into giving me her phone number and agree to a date the next weekend.  You can read about the actual event on blogs from last year and the year before (click here and here).


I still remember riding to my parent’s home from the wedding and telling my mom and dad that I’d met the woman I was going to marry.  It was already a done deal in my mind, zero question.  There haven’t been many, if any, moments when I’ve been so sure of anything.

Here we are 18 years later, that memory is officially an adult!  My mind is blown thinking that here we are, our relationship growing from newborn to adulthood, and I’m happier and more in love than I was at the beginning.  Sure, life is complex and it’s not all perfect, but there’s a joy in continuing to find ways to stay happy, in love, and having fun the whole time.

18 years later my life is even more complete than I’d imagined it would be on that early October night.  For that I am grateful!


Day 369 – Thankful for an Awesome Article On Leonardo da Vinci

Days like today are amongst the toughest to decide what to blog about.  The reason being that there were so many moments that I’m thankful for.  Amongst those moments today was having Becky make homemade tomato soup when it was perfect soup weather, a trip to Menards with Dominic, knocking out our last long training run for our marathon, cleaning up a chaotic mess of stuff on my dresser top (I’m a piler, not a filer), and getting more done in the workshop than I expected.  I’m thankful for all of those moments and many more today.

As I think of where my thoughts have been today there are two articles I’ve read recently that had brain going all day long.  The one that really kept resonating was an article about Leonardo da Vinci by one of my favorite authors, biographer Walter Isaacson for the Wall Street Journal.

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It was so intriguing to learn that he wasn’t necessarily the smartest guy around, as evidenced by the fact he often made mistakes in calculations.  While not the smartest, there were a few things that he did exceedingly well that helped him to be the genius as we all see him as.  It is in considering those key qualities my brain kept thinking about what I am missing, not seeing, or not taking action on.

In the article the skills or qualities that really made Leonardo special were:

  • His passionate, playful and occasionally obsessive curiosity
  • His curiosity was aided by the sharpness of his eye, which focused on things that the rest of us barely notice.
  • Just as he blurred the boundaries between art and science, he blurred the line between reality and fantasy.

My brain has continued to ponder these qualities today, thinking about the clouds differently, how to do some construction a little differently, considering an idea I’ve had in my head simmering for a while, and cleaning things up in my bedroom so I have more clarity for my brain to think.  All from one article, and I’m thankful for that!