Day 418 – Thankful for an Awesome Start to Vacation

We’re not even close to half way through our first “day” of travel, but we’ve already had a ton of fun! Without Becky to supervise us it’s been a little more crazy in the airport than normal.

To pass time while waiting for our first flight we walked to the end of each gate for a picture. While wandering we may have, I️ can neither confirm nor deny, done pushups on the moving walkways, taken a completely unnecessary elevator ride specifically because the walls were all glass, and spent a lot of time walking the wrong way on the moving walkways. We laughed, goofed off, and burned a lot of time while enjoying almost the entire time.

boarded the jet the flight attendant asked if the boys wanted to meet the pilot. Next thing we knew the boys were in the cockpit with Gavin sitting in the pilot's seat… quite possibly the scariest sight ever on a flight!

ow we’re grabbing a bite to eat and chillin’ in the Frisco airport, talking sports and relaxing (maybe having a beer!).

The first day isn’t even half over and we’ve already had a ton of fun. I️ was initially crazy nervous about traveling with the boys and no Becky, but we’ve turned it into a special “Guys’ Trip” and are enjoying it.


Day 417 – Thankful for Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations

Over the past few months I’ve read Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle Is the Way. It’s a great read focused on the philosophy of stoicism. Over the course of the book there are many quotes from Marcus Aurelius’ book, Meditations. Seeing as I️ thoroughly enjoyed The Obstacle Is the Way why not read one of the books it references?

While driving today I️ finished it, and it was AWESOME!!! At times it was a little tough to read due to language, but it was nothing short of widely thought provoking.

There were a couple of quotes in particular that really hit me right between the eyes:

  • “Imagine that your life should have rightfully ended now, and therefore live the remainder, this gracious addition, according to nature.”

  • “Take care not to feel towards evil in human people as they fee towards their fellow man.”

Quite honestly, there was so much to soak in that I’m planning on buying a paper copy to work my way back through as well as listen to at least one more time. It was exactly what the doctor ordered for my drive time today!


Day 416 – Thankful for Hugs From My Dad

What a day it’s been already, and it’s hardly past halfway done!  Once in a while I spend time writing a blog focused on one thing, but as the dust settles and I get some time to reflect I realize that there was a deeper meaning, something I initially missed…  Today was that exactly.  The original title was much different, but as I’ve been writing this title really fits.


This was the last official day of Express Leadership Academy and it was amazing on so many levels.  Pretty much the entire agenda was focused on one thing – sharing a 3-5 minute presentation of what we’d learned over the past couple of years.  We were to share where we were prior to the program, how we’d grown, and where we were now.  To say it was powerful is an understatement.  We shared the good, bad, and everything in between from a business standpoint, but that was only the beginning.

In each presentation we each bared our souls.  There were stories of our personal struggles and growth.  Sharing of tough family issues.  Insecurities were revealed ad opened up for all to see.  It was amazing.  All of us successful business owners, all of us with our inner struggles, and while they were all different, it was a chance for us to see we’re all the same.  We’re all people struggling to be the best possible versions of ourselves we can be, stumbling and making mistakes along the way, yet staying focused on becoming better each day.  It was incredible!

As everything wrapped up there many hugs as we said our thank you’s and goodbye’s to each other.  Funny how closely connected we all are once we start opening up and become vulnerable…  Pretty sure that’s a blog in of itself at some point.  It was big hug after big hug as I made my way through my friends.  There were many bear hugs, one after another, some that were some of the biggest hugs since…

One of the last was my friend Reid.  I reached out to give him a “bro hug,” but he wasn’t having it.  He came in for a full on bear hug, one of the biggest that I’ve had in a long time.  It was pretty much one of the biggest hugs since…

As we loaded into the shuttle van for the airport I saw the driver and though that he looked a little familiar…  After a moment I realized that it was the same driver I had the day of the solar eclipse (I wrote a bit about him on that day).  What are the odds of that???  It was funny, but as we were talking so many memories from our first conversation came flooding back.  Of all the cab rides I’d had in the past this was one of the few that I have burned into memory.  We quickly got re-acquainted and I learned that he now had his fourth grandson on the way from his daughter.  At the airport after he unloaded our luggage it just seemed right to give him a hug, and he presented me with about one of the biggest bear hugs I’ve had in a very long time…

They were all some of the biggest bear hugs since…  the last hug I gave my Dad.  I still vividly remember that last hug, the one he gave me as he left my office in the end of May.  As were all of the hugs from him it was a great, solid hug.  It was full of love and happiness and you couldn’t help but smile afterwards.  The hugs he gave were some of those “I don’t care if you don’t think it’s manly, you’re still getting a big hug” types of hugs.

When I started typing today I was more focused on the idea of leadership, learning, and other things, but really, at the end of the day, I’m thankful for each and every single one of those big hugs.  As I started typing I started to type about one of those hugs and I suddenly thought of Dad…  As I started typing about another one I suddenly thought of Dad again…  That’s when it hit me, in many ways those were hugs from Dad.  They were the result of living the legacy he left behind in me, and they were shared in the way he would have when he was proud of what I had done.  There were a couple of times specifically when I knew he was there with me, smiling, holding back a tough moment of emotion by putting his hand on my shoulder, and he was there with me in every single one of those hugs.

I’m so thankful for the hugs from my dad today, they brought much joy today!

Dad, I’m still amazed at how well you instilled your legacy in me without me even realizing it.  Many of the decisions I made today were the direct result of what you and Mom taught me through the years, I know you were proud to see them.  It sucks to not have you here to hug, but there’s something so awesome about knowing that you’re with me more than ever now.  Thanks for the hugs dude, love you Bud!


Day 415 – Thankful for a Blog that Woke Me Up Early and Stayed with Me All Day Long

At about 4:15 this morning I woke up and was thinking about my blog from yesterday.  The concept of leaving a legacy, what does that legacy look like, and how can I better live it kept flowing through my brain.  Try as I might to sleep, I just couldn’t get my brain to shut off.

This morning in training we started by thinking back to the conversation about legacy and again my brain was going in a million different directions.

During a couple of comments throughout the day I thought of my dad, I thought of my mom, and I thought of many of those who’ve had an impact on me in my life.

Trading stories at our table I couldn’t help but smile when I heard the story of the relationship of my partner and his dad.  The legacy his father has left with him is etched in his words and actions, just as I’m sure his legacy will live on through his kids.  Again, the concept of legacy was running rampant in my brain.

Normally I’d dive into a ton of detail on a day like today, but due to several reasons I really don’t feel comfortable sharing a ton of details.  Let’s just say that there were many, many more moments throughout the day that had me thinking about the concepts of legacy.

What is the impact that I am leaving that will live on through others and linger for eons longer than the memory of me itself?

Today has been pretty awesome.  One of those days in which I start to drift in thought and find myself being pulled into the gravitational pull of yesterday’s blog.  Just a hunch, but I’m thinking it’s going to stick with me for quite some time…  and for that, I’m thankful!



Day 414 – Thankful for Thinking More Deeply About Leaving a Legacy

The first day of Express Leadership Academy started out with an incredibly thought provoking question – What is the legacy I want to leave behind?  Let that sink in for a moment…  What is the legacy that I want to leave behind?

Many times I try to line up the right picture for each blog and it is an easy connection to make.  Today this is the picture that I had in my mind as I wrote.  Both of my parents have had such an impact on who I am and the legacy that I want to leave that I couldn’t imagine a more fitting photo for today.  🙂

When I answer that question, what does that say about me and who I am as a person?  With that question in the back of my head how would I change my behavior?  If I focus on the legacy that I want to leave am I️ willing to put aside the distractions that get in the way to live a life that leads to that legacy?

If I’d been asked that question six months ago I would have answered it very differently than I did today.  I would have focused on something that serves the greater good, but in a way in which people remember that it was MY legacy.  My focus would be less on the legacy itself and more on how people would remember ME.  I know, it probably sounds very egotistical – because it is – but it is very honest.  Six months ago my legacy would have been all about me.

Don’t get me wrong, it would be about something having a positive impact on others…  ME being a great dad… ME having a positive impact on others… ME helping people dream bigger…  All of it with the intent that I am remembered for being that person who left the legacy.  Actions to better others, but in order to make ME look better, to make sure that I am remembered and recognized.  It’s humbling to admit this to anyone who reads this, but part of the reason I write this blog is to share the honest thoughts and emotions in my head and in my heart in a search to be closer to being who I should be.

Since Dad’s death I’ve taken much time to reflect on many things, death, legacy, and impact being some of them.  It probably sounds morose, but I’ve found comfort in spending a few minutes in a cemetery once a week.  Don’t worry, it’s not a cry for help or anything like that.  The time I spend there reminds me of the temporary nature of life.  I  am only here for a very short period of time, I need to remember that fact, appreciate it, and live a life that I will be more than satisfied with when it’s my time to go.

In spending time in the cemetery I’m drawn to the grave markers and headstones.  Some are grand and others are small and crumbling.  Some have many footprints from recent visitors, but the majority appear to not have been visited for ages.  When I think about the reason behind the marker it is often to remind people that we were here.  “I existed,” is what they seem to scream desperately to anyone who happens to pass nearby.  It is a way for us to leave a mark, to be remembered for being here.  Sadly, at some point people will stop coming to the marker and the individual will be swallowed up and vanished in the great river of time.

The way my head was wired before was trying to be remembered for actions, deeds, and values.  To have my name remembered and passed on.  Going back to ancient times people have long fought to be remembered, to have their names passed on through ages, to never be forgotten.  It’s almost as if we are able to find a way to cheat death by being remembered through time.  If enough people remember me for long enough I’ll never actually die….  We will all be forgotten at some point.  Our names may be passed on, but at some point the lines between fact and fiction will blur, and it’s only a shell of who we were that may be remembered.  Hollow words forming the name of someone who’s been forgotten.  Enough generations will go by and the memory of us is blown into the wind and disappears.

Thanks for cheering us up Kreiling, right???  I know, it sounds brutal, but it’s actually an incredible understanding that opens the door to joy.  What is there really to live for if we are going to be forgotten in this life eventually?  Simple, our legacy.

The definition of legacy that was offered up today was “the difference we make in the lives of others.”  Our legacy is the lasting impact we have on others, positive or negative, that passes on from them to others.  It is the ripple we leave in mankind as we live our life.

Our legacy is the act of kindness that we do that makes someone smile.  That person is moved by that act of kindness and passes it on to a couple of more people.  Those pass it on to others, and it spreads like wildfire.  When you ask someone who inspired them to do that act of kindness they’ll share the story of the person who did that for them.  They won’t even know who started the domino effect in the first place, but it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that someone committed the first act of kindness and it continues to be passed on.

Who started the action is irrelevant.  What is most important is that it has created a ripple effect that has bettered the lives of many others.  No credit needs to be taken, nor should any be given or asked for.  We live to better each other, each future generation, and all of mankind.

When thinking of legacy in that way I am finally starting to see that the ego piece of my initial view of leaving a legacy is so wrong or misguided.  At some point I will be forgotten on this world.  I won’t even be a memory.  It’s tough in some ways to let that soak in, but anything else would be a lie to myself.  That said, I do want to leave a legacy.  I want to live a life that makes a difference in the lives of others.

So what is the legacy that I can leave that will make a positive difference in the lives of others – now and in the future?  I can be joyful and share that joy with others.  Short, sweet, and simple.  If I can live a joyful life and share that joy with others the world will be a slightly better place.  My name won’t be remembered, I’ll still slowly fade after death, but I’ll have the peace of knowing that I’ve left a positive impact.

Keeping that in mind it is a great guiding principle to remember as I live my life.  Am I living in a way that is joyful or am I too busy being stressed out?  Am I being introverted and hoarding my joy to myself or am I actively seeking opportunities to bring joy to others?  At the end of each day I can take time to reflect on that guiding principle and evaluate how I’ve done.  What went well?  What could I have done better?  I’ll never be perfect at it, but I can continue to strive for perfection.

While the conversation on legacy today really helped me put some of these thoughts into words it’s the really work of much thought and consideration over the past six months that have led to this post today.  I am so thankful for spending time deep in thought on the concept of leaving a legacy, it has brought me both peace and joy.


Day 413 – Thankful for Travel Days for Work

I know, this probably sounds a little crazy, but I’m a fan of travel days – for both work and pleasure.  In the case of pleasure the reason is pretty obvious…  I’m either going somewhere fun on vacation and Im excited to get there or it’s been an awesome vacation and I’m ready for a night in my own bed again.

The work travel day is great for a different reason entirely.  When I have one coming up I start to pile up the little tasks that need to get done, but aren’t necessarily urgent.  They start to add up a couple of weeks before heading out and once I’m in the airport I’m going to town.  It feels great to knock them out one after another, and it’s easy to pause in between when I need to board, find my gate, etc…

Today was very much like that.  Not only was I able to take care of the list I had, but I was able to make headway on a another couple of projects that I’ll need to spend more time on in the upcoming months.  Knowing that I already have a jump start feels great!

Speaking of which, two more things to check off the list and then this old guy is off to bed.


Day 412 – Thankful for the Nexus of Family Life and Work Life

Not gonna lie, there’ve been at least a dozen things I almost blogged about today.  From our 4:30am run in the crazy cool fog with a sliver of a moon to a cozy sweatshirt (pretty sure you’ll hear more about that one in the future) to an unexpected reminder of Dad in a song that made laugh out loud to packing for two trips at once, there’s been so much to be thankful for.  Even after 777 straight days of blogging about what I’m thankful for each day I’m still humbled and amazed at all I’ve been blessed with in my life.

Today we had Marlene Chism (and another of my awesome sisters from another misters – Heather Joyner) in Eau Claire to present on leadership to over 40 of our clients and fellow business leaders.  As I’ve come to expect from Marlene, the presentation was fantastic!


What made the event even more special was that it was one of the first times my mom has been at an Express event.  It was so awesome to see her in a different light.  I’m so used to seeing her as “Mom” that it was pretty cool seeing her as a business professional.  We talk work often on the phone, but it was just wild hearing her share stories side by side with me.  It was AWESOME!!!

I’m also grateful that she had the opportunity to meet my work family in the Menomonie and Eau Claire offices.  It was cool that they were able to quickly see where I get a lot of my personality from.

Over the past couple of months I’ve been noticing more and more how I have the people closest to me put into my paradigms of who they are based on my relationship with them.  While this is how I’m used to seeing them I’m realizing that there is so much more to everyone.  In this case she’s not just “Mom” she’s a business professional.  It feels weird to see her in a different light like that, but it helps me appreciate her even more.  Times like this remind me that I need to keep digging in deeper to really get to know the loved ones in my life better, not just the paradigm of them that I have in my head.

I’m so thankful to have had this extra time with my mom, the opportunity to learn alongside of Darlene the HR professional, and for the chance to get to know her a little better.  It was a pretty sweet nexus of family and work life that I’m grateful to have had.


Day 411 – Thankful for Quiet Time in My Oasis – My Workshop

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of preparation for being out on vacation in the not too distant future.  Once I’m back there’s going to be a lot to do in order to get caught back up even though I’m prepping in advance.  Travel is awesome, but the few days beforehand can feel rushed and chaotic.  All of the busy is welcomed and appreciated, and in a weird way feels really excellent!

Today I was able to pause the feeling and enjoy a different sensation…  spending some quiet time working in my workshop.  Becky took the boys to a scouting event so I could get caught up on my insulation project.  Unbeknownst to me the ringer of my phone was off and I never heard any texts or calls.  I had the Packer game blaring on the radio and it was just me working on the workshop.

There were no thoughts of travel, no consideration of anything work related.  I wasn’t mentally prepping for stuff with the boys, or coming up with crazy future plans.  I was present in the moment, working on ceiling and listening to the Packer game.  Nothing else mattered, nothing else existed, just the quiet calm of building something while the sounds of the radio kept my brain at ease.  Pure quiet would’ve led to thinking, talking with others would’ve distracted me.  The environment was perfect to get in the zone and just exist for a while, enjoying every moment, even laughing at myself when I screwed up.  It was quiet, peaceful and calming, just what I needed.


I’m already jumping back into preparation mode, packing for this and that, and getting my thoughts wrapped back around work, but it all feels much better and less stressful after having some quiet time in my personal oasis, my workshop.



Day 410 – Thankful for a Saturday at Home

The past few weekends have been pretty awesome, filled with great times with friends.  Many memories were made and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.  The next several weekends are going to be spent on vacation, and I’m sure they will be pretty awesome.

Today was quite different, I was home with my family.  I got over nine hours of sleep, woke up well rested.  Before a run I was able to get many things packed for our trip and even put up some insulation in the garage.  Becky and I got a run in and it felt awesome!  After the run Dominic and I ran a couple of errands.  I then spent some time alone putting in more insulation.  After a while I had a couple of helpers in my workshop.  A little while later I only had one, and Dominic was a huge help.  He kept me company on our trip to Menards and then helped me put up the last of the insulation in the ceiling.  Dominic and I then made supper for the family and we all chilled for some down time watching a movie (we’re working our way through the Harry Potter series… again).


It was a relaxing day, a productive day, and a great day at home with family.  Nothing exceedingly epic, just an awesome normal day…  and I am very thankful for it!