Day 793 – Thankful for a Life Lesson from The Rolling Stones

My brain has been running constantly around ideas for my offices in 2019 over the past week and change.  Our planning session over the past couple of days fanned the blaze even more and I’ve struggled to not have work related thoughts throughout most of the day.  As I was wrapping up the work day on a call with Nicole I shared that we were going to yoga tonight.  Even though I can usually count on yoga to calm my brain I shared that I was pretty sure that my work thoughts were going to keep pouring through.

And in a weird way that’s kind of what I was wanting…  A simple, straightforward, standard yoga practice that didn’t require much thought and would totally let me drift in an out of what I’ve been thinking about all day.  Kind of weird, I know, especially seeing as yoga is normally my time to be present and focus.

In actuality it was the complete opposite.  It turned out to be an incredible workout with many different poses and transitions, several of which I’d never done before.  With all the change I had no choice but to focus 100% and be present in the moment.  I had to use all of my concentration on keeping my breathing on track while bending and twisting in new ways.  It was amazing and it turned out to be exactly what I needed.

As we drove home I heard a very specific song playing in my head that shared everything I needed to learn from this experience…

No, you can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime you find
You get what you need…

How true Mick, how true…


Day 792 – Thankful for Becky’s Infectious Grit

LOL – this is definitely one of the titles that’ll I remember as sounding great in my head but then comes across a little different in print!  Regardless, it really fits today!

In our planning session yesterday we went around the room and shared what our biggest personal successes were from the past month or so.  I mentioned that I was super proud of Becky’s focus, determination, and hard work in pushing through the final stretches of her PhD program.  In sharing that I also said how cool it was to hear how many times her research has been cited – including in a textbook!  Over the past 24+ hours I’ve smiled many times at thinking about just how she is gritting out this dream of hers.


Spending as much time as I do with her I see her reading, researching, and writing almost constantly at all hours of the day and night.  For reals, I’ve woken up in the middle of the night to find her reading some research papers in the wee hours of the night / morning.  Seeing just how much work she’s put into this dream is truly spectacular…  and then remembering that she’s also a full time and very involved mother and wife makes it al the more incredible!

One of the values I hold closest is Grit.  As I’ve mentioned before, grit is the passion and perseverance towards a long term goal or dream.  For as long as I’ve known Becky she’s had a dream of earning her PhD.  Over these past couple of years I’ve been blessed to see just how hard she is willing to work to make that dream a reality.  It’s mind blowing how many hours and how much blood, sweat, and tears she’s already put into this.  In spite of all of this she’s often nervous about whether or not she’s being a great mom (she is!) and a great wife (always!) and is being attentive to the needs of her family (she totally is).  As if she weren’t already gritty enough focusing on her studying she’s just as gritty at home and with her family!

And that’s what I’m thankful for today…  Her grit is totally infectious!  Each day as I talk with her I can’t help but find times when I push myself harder towards my goals to keep up with her.  Seeing Becky work this hard for her dreams and focus so tightly onto one goal like this inspires me to work harder towards my goals and focus more keenly onto that which is the most important.  Long story short, she inspires me to be a better me.  How awesome is that?  Her grit is bringing her joy in accomplishment of her dreams while bringing me joy in inspiring me to focus more on reaching mine while helping her reach hers.  What an awesome combination and force!

Thanks for inspiring me on a daily basis!  How you find the time and energy to be such an incredible friend, mother, wife, and so many other roles all while reaching towards a crazy huge dream (and still finding at least an hour to workout each day) is crazily awesomely motivational.  So happy to be spending this crazy life with you – love you!


Day 791 – Thankful for Reminders of How Differently I Can See the Same Thing at Different Times

On this day last year we went for a hike that was to be one of the highlights of our trip to New Zealand, the Tongariro Crossing. Mother Nature had other plans and decided to throw us a curveball. It was so foggy that we couldn’t see anything, let alone go on the hike. We still drove up and did a different hike, but the pic below tells the whole story… on the way up we took the top pic, the way down we took the other pic. Both in the same place, of the same thing, but a very different view.

That picture seems so appropriate today. Sometimes I have this perfect vision of where I’m going and how to get there. Out of nowhere a fog rolls in and distorts my view. I know the same destination is out there and remains unchanged, but it is hidden away. If I pause, take a deep breath and stay calm the fog will lift and I’ll find my way again. If I panic I can get off track, get lost and turned around, and possibly even find myself further away from my goal.

When I find myself in the fog I must remember to pause, take a deep breath, and see the fog as a warm blanket to be appreciated. In that changed view there is beauty and sometimes different perspective. If I choose to panic instead I only get further lost in the fog and will need extra time to reorient myself afterwards.

Today I stood calm in the fog and soaked it in. As it has slowly lifted I’m seeing the view I’ve known has been there the whole time and I have a different and deeper appreciation for it.


Day 790 – Thankful for “A Great Day to Be Alive” by Travis Tritt

Sometimes I have to wonder where exactly my eagworms come from…  I’m not a huge country fan, not by a long shot.  Regardless, I’ve had a specific song stuck in my head over the past week and change.  Ever since driving back with the boys it’s been fading in and out of the back of my brain.  Even tonight as I sat down on the couch with my laptop and started thinking about my blog tonight it popped right back in…  and I couldn’t help but smile as I heard it in my head (and then fired it up on YouTube).

Not the greatest song ever, there lyrics aren’t overly intense, or anything specifically awesome about the song, but it still just makes me smile and be thankful to be alive to enjoy the day.  I hear it and I smile, I even sing along at certain lines that make me laugh to myself because I totally understand the feeling (though I need to buy a Harley first):

Well, I might go get me a new tattoo
Or take my old Harley for three day cruise
Might even grow me a fu man chu

And it’s a great day to be alive…

Ahh…  I love ear worms like this that make me smile, regardless of how goofy the reasons or songs might be!


Day 789 – Thankful for Quiet Time In the Workshop Talking with Dad

To be clear, yes, I still talk to my dad even though he’s been gone for almost a year and a half.  There are still times I swear I can hear his voice in my head and heart.

There’ve been several moments today when something was brought up by either the boys or Becky that my dad / Grandpa Pete is probably laughing or calling you names right now.  Each time I’ve smiled because they were right on the money.  Whether it was when I was frustrated with one of the boys, made a silly mistake, or just had one of those moments I was reminded of my dad and knew that they were 100% right on the money… Dad totally would have been saying something or laughing and shaking his head.

The day has been totally packed from sun up until now, outside of about 30 minutes that I had to myself.  Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed my time running with Becky, grocery shopping with her, running to Menards with the boys, putting up Christmas lights, planning a Cub Scout meeting, and then heading up for a dinner with friends in Winona – it’s been an awesome day.  In the 30 minutes of time to myself I went up to my workshop to put wheels on the base of an old tool from my dad.

As I was struggling with unforeseen challenges with what should have been a very simple task I paused and chuckled to myself.  After taking a deep breath I proceeded to talk to Dad while I was trying to get it back on track.  It felt so good to say the things I would’ve said to him on the phone as my blood pressure went up.  Just like I always he’d give me a hard time and then help walk me off the ledge.  While I didn’t hear his responses with my ears I did hear him in my heart.  It felt like he was there with me and he helped me take a deep breath and appreciate all that I have around me.  I can’t even being to say how wonderful that felt and how full of joy my heart is as I think of it.


Two years ago on this day Dad helped me out on what was our last project together in our house – tiling the bathroom floor the day after Thanksgiving in 2016.  It’s almost three years ago to the day that we worked together (with Gavin) to help him build some cabinets in his garage.  Spending a little time in my workshop talking with him today was exactly what the doctor ordered and I’m thankful for every moment of it.


Day 788 – Thankful for Reminders of Vacations Past and New Travel Ideas

Much to be thankful for today, a great sermon, the opportunity to get some work done that I enjoy, time with the family and my mom, a slow relaxing ride home, shopping for total fun with Becky, and chilling out on the couches watching A Christmas Story…  All good stuff!

Earlier today as my mom and I were shooting the bull about a plan we have for this summer my mind started to wander and next thing I knew I’d come up with a pretty sweet possible game plan for a short road trip this summer.  With Becky at a conference in New York state the boys and I are planning on driving out to pick her up and catching Niagara Falls on the way back.  Instead of heading right back the fast way though I realized it’s only be a few more hours of driving to head up into Canada and come back through the UP.  It was fun coming up with some travel plans!


Tomorrow we’re getting together with some friends who are planning a trip to New Zealand and we’re going to share pics of what we saw last year.  In going through the pics I realized that it was exactly one year ago today that we were in Hobbiton.  What an amazing experience that was!  From there we went to the beach and Facetimed Becky’s family as they were having Thanksgiving dinner the previous night.  It was wild to be on the phone with them from “the future” and with the sun shining and weather hot while they had darkness and snow.  I clearly remember how badly I wanted to stay right there for the next three months and not head home!

All in all it was a pretty great day, and it was made all the better planning future travel plans while remembering some excellent past vacation moments.


Day 787 – Thankful for a Chill Day at Mom’s

Days with a very loose agenda are so relaxing! Today the only plan was to head up north to my mom’s sometime before noon. Outside of that there were no timelines, agendas, or tasks. No lists of things to accomplish, no responsibilities, and no urgency.

Getting ready to head up was no rush. On the way we took the scenic route and enjoyed the scenery. Up at Mom’s we shot the bull, ate, went for a walk, and played games. It’s been super chill and I’m enjoying every chill moment of it!

I love the feel of going 100mph all the time, there’s a sense of accomplishment that is wonderful. It’s tough for me to totally unplug and chill, I have a tough time slowing myself down and having idle hands. All that in mind, a day like today is exactly what the doctor ordered and has been AMAZING! Time to head back to the chillin’ and games!


Day 786 – Thankful for a Thanksgiving at Home with My Family

It’s been a while since I’ve been home with the family for Thanksgiving. I hadn’t really thought about it, but the past few years have included a trip to New Zealand, staying home to remodel a bathroom with Dad while Becky and the boys were up north, and a trip up north. As we went about our day I just kept thinking about how much I appreciate the time with the family and being home.

As far as holidays go this is one of my favs, but you probably figured that out already 😉. A entire day that is focused specifically on gratitude is one that I can get behind. There were many moments when I was thinking about all I am thankful for. It’s funny, even though I blog about being thankful each day it feels so great to focus on all the ways my life has been blessed. My heart has been full of joy all day.

This morning we did the Turkey Trot as a family and had a great time getting some exercise in early. Dominic ran so fast that we didn’t even attempt to keep up. Gavin did an excellent job of running his first five mile race. There were smiles, laughs, heavy breathing, some life lessons, and great times shared as we made some fun memories together (& each earned our personal pumpkin pies at the end).

As the day unfolded we did one of our family traditions and also spent time chilling in the house. Gavin helped Becky cook and bake while I got some work done and relaxed. Later in the afternoon we took the girls for a walk and had a wonderful time outside while the sun was out. Dominic helped me paint the workshop and we had some good bonding time just the two of us. Throw in a huge and delicious Thanksgiving meal including taking time as a family to pray and say what we’re each grateful for. Now we’re on the couch watching a movie as a family and it’s been a great day!

It’s been a fantastic change of pace compared to the past years, I’m so thankful for having this day to share with my family at home. My heart is full and I’ll fall asleep with a huge smile on my face.


Day 785 – Thankful for an Incredible Day Capped Off with Embedding the Travel Bug In Our Boys

Today has been one for the ages, a day filled with many wonderful moments, cheesecake, family time, and gratitude.  In general there was a over arching theme of thankfulness.  What an awesome focus for a day – and it’s not even Thanksgiving Day yet!

When becky and I went for a run this morning we talked about the list we would have for the boys.  With them being off of school we knew we needed to have a good list to keep them rolling through the day.  Last night Gavin was even hinting at what would be on the list.  Becky had the great idea to have the boys write a list of 10 places they’d like to visit.  I threw a little twist on it and said they had to make a short PowerPoint presentation complete with pictures to share their lists.

Tonight before dinner we sat down as a family and the boys presented where they’d like to go on vacation in the future and it was pretty cool!  Easy to see that we’ve really instilled the travel bug in both of them.  It looks like they’ll have many adventures in their lives – from Iceland to France to Japan to Nepal to Antarctica and everywhere in-between!


Travel is one of the things that Becky and I treasure above almost all other “stuff,” and it’s so cool to see that the boys are giving it the same value.  On the anniversary of our adventure to New Zealand it seems only fitting to dream big about travel in the future, isn’t it boys?


Day 784 – Thankful for an Excellent 2019 Planning Session with Nicole Kauphusman

Isn’t the power of attitude amazing? The way I choose to see something really shapes the rest of the experience and how things unfold. In past years I’ve seen our annual planning session as an opportunity to show of my ideas and presentation skills. It was a time for me to show everyone just how awesome I thought I was and how mind blowing I thought my ideas were. I’d dream up huge things and ideas all by myself and use the opportunity to share them as an outlet to prove my worth to myself. When there was rejection or disagreement with and idea I had I’d get frustrated, nervous, salty, and angry. What a pompous and arrogant moron I was! How many times did I have an audience of peers and experts who could’ve helped a ton and saved me from myself had I only listened and asked for help instead of just presenting my ideas.

Fortunately I’ve got a great mentor who’s worked with me on this for several years. I’ve still got a ways to go, but it’s getting much better year after year. I’m eternally thankful for the patience he has had with growing me.

While there’s been continuous improvement over the past few years it feels different in a very positive way this year. Choosing an attitude of a growth mindset has helped me stay open to seeing this as a learning session. With that in mind if already pointed out several faults in my own plans and will be asking for help on how to fix them. I’m also excited to find the flaws I’ve missed that could make all the difference. That said, there’s more to it than just an attitude shift.

This year as we prep for 2019 I had the opportunity to spend most of the day with Nicole. There’s something about working with her that seems to bring out my best. As we walked through all of our possible solutions we were very open, called each other’s ideas out, pushed each other, challenged our thoughts, and talked each other into seeing other perspectives. Not only that, but we did it with a smile! Working together we were able to put together even better ideas than either of us would have had on our own. We both added and edited the strategy until it was truly a mix that was our’s. Even cooler was that we’ve been pulling thoughts and ideas from our teams over the past few months to help us so it’s actually a joint effort of ALL of my teammates. While we’re very pumped to share our ideas we’re even more excited to see how our cohorts help us to improve the strategy for 2019. Were stoked to get their feedback and find more ways to be successful in 2019.

As if the planning itself wasn’t enough fun it was fantastic to be able to walk through the “why” behind our thoughts, often sharing our values and past experiences. We talked about family, work, faith, teams, and everything in between. It was an awesome opportunity to get to know each other better and see our staffing world through someone else’s eyes. I’m thankful for the time that we had to bond and continue to calibrate. It already seems like we’ve worked together for more than the short years that it’s been.

Between a choosing a better attitude and working with a wonderful teammate and friend planning for 2019 has already been an incredibly positive experience. I’m so grateful for my past failures that have led me to this point, a wonderful mentor with the patience of a saint, and a fantastic teammate.