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 ūüėČ. 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.


Day 783 – Thankful for a Wall Full of Gratitude

Our Winona team started something awesome in our office. ¬†As our applicants and associates are coming in for work or for their paychecks we are asking them if they’d like to jot down something that they are grateful for. ¬†Over the past couple days I’ve enjoyed reading all of the notes.


Some of the leaf notes that I found to be the most touching were:

  • “I am thankful for my family’s continuing support as I strive to get my college degree.”
  • “Thankful for the extra income to supplement my sss check after my retirement and also to work after my cancer battle.”
  • “I am thankful for my family & friends. ¬†I’m thankful for the good Lord above & all he good things in my life.”
  • “I am thankful for my family. ¬†I am not sure where I would be without them. ¬†They are my reason for working through Express and for living!”
  • “I’m thankful for the opportunity you guys gave me. ¬†I moved up from FL by myself with no job. ¬†I was able to get a job in 3 days. ¬†It helped me pay all my debt so I’m able to live peacefully without that heavy load.”
  • “So much to be thankful for. ¬†I’m thankful for my family and the support they give, for good health and weather, to have food in my stomach, clothes on my back and a roof over my head. ¬†Thankful I have a job and money to spend. ¬†Most of all – thankful to be alive!”
  • “Thankful for my family in this tough time we are having. ¬†Happy we can all be together for the holidays.”
  • “I am thankful that my son has grown out of one of his fatal food allergies. ¬†That most of those in my life are healthy and that those who are not have found answers to they can take better care of themselves.”
  • “That my children and grandchildren are healthy!”
  • “I am thankful for not being homeless anymore and having a great job to provide for my kids. ¬†I’m grateful for life & blessed that Express hired me at my lowest. ¬†Thank you!”
  • “Thankful that I’m almost 60 because it’s better than the other thing.”

And this one got me a little misty eyed and I just wanted to give them a hug: ¬†“I am thankful for my dad. ¬†He is ill. ¬†I want him to be well. ¬†That is all I want.”

I’m so thankful for so many people sharing what they are thankful for. ¬†Their gratitude has had me smiling, thinking, and being more grateful for all in my life.


Day 782 – Thankful for Road Tripping with My Boys

Tonight much of the evening was spent driving the boys back from hunting with Grandpa and their cousins. ¬†When Becky and I first laid out this plan I was less than enthusiastic as it meant that much of my day off would be spent in transit. ¬†Up until late last night I was going to pick them earlier so I could get home and have some time to catch up on things at home. ¬†For some reason it finally hit me that they should be able to spend the entire day hunting and then head home after it’d gotten too dark to hunt. ¬†I’m not sure why it took me that long to come to my senses, but I’m glad I did.

With that subtle change in mindset and realizing that the boys should have as much grandparent time as possible I soaked in the rest of the day with a positive mindset and thoroughly enjoyed myself. ¬†Driving alone meant time to think and listen to some great audiobooks. ¬†Visiting was enriched by not being in any kind of a hurry or on a schedule. ¬†Of all the parts of the day that really brought me joy there’s really no debate as to which will be the most cherished memory… ¬†my road trip home with the boys.


When we took off we spent the first chunk of time talking about hunting and their time with everyone. ¬†That spun into crazy deep conversations involving religion, we talked about equality of all types, and other very weighty topics. ¬†We also spent a lot of time goofing around and laughing. ¬†There were many jokes and times when we gave each other a hard time. ¬†With about 40 minutes to go we fired up the iPod and played DJs for a while. ¬†We each would pick a song or two and proceed to jam out together, even occasionally singing along and not caring how bad we sounded. ¬†Sometimes we’d talk about what we thought of and remembered when we heard certain songs, other times we’d soak in the story of the song, and the times maybe do a little bit of road trip dancing. ¬†It was a blast!!!

This is another wonderful example for me to remember of how much difference the right attitude can help me either see something as a “chore” or appreciate it as an incredible experience. ¬†I’m pretty sure the boys and I will all remember the fun we had on this simple road trip home for quite some time.


Day 781 – Thankful for Multiple Reminders of Dad’s Presence In the Past 24 Hours

Last night I received a very cool text message out of the blue from my friend Sammi. ¬†She’d heard a song that a year and a half ago she had suggested I listen to after my dad passed away. ¬†There was a sudden rush of memories and emotions as I thought about my dad.


Several times throughout the day I had memories of hunting with my dad float in and out of my brain. ¬†There were so many happy moments with him in the woods. ¬†Seemingly every time I thought of the boys out with their Grandpa Ken my mind would wander back to those time with Dad. ¬†From getting my first buck to shooting at a huge “bull elk” in Colorado to the laughter when he saw my scorched face on opening day after I’d done battle with my propane heater. ¬†So many wonderful memories that are re-kindled with this hunting season.

While running to Menards I thought about all of the phone calls we shared while I made that same trek in the past.  When I bought something on sale I could hear him giving me a hard time about buying the cheap option.

In my workshop this afternoon I ran into a problem that pretty much spelled the end of a project I was working on, and not in a good way. ¬†I swear I heard his voice in my ear, “deep breaths Mikey, time to take a break.” ¬†Smiling to myself in spite of my frustration I put everything down and called it a day. ¬†Even in that situation when several hours were erased with one small mistake I couldn’t help have a heart full of joy thinking about Dad.

What really did it tonight was a small and simple moment at church. ¬†In the past I’ve talked about the gentleman at our church who looks very similar to Dad. ¬†They have the same head, neck, ears, hair style, and some of the same mannerisms. ¬†As everyone took communion I happened to notice him walking back to his pew. ¬†Just as I saw him he looked at me and smiled… ¬†and then his smile got a little bigger and he waved to me… ¬†just like Dad would’ve done had he been there. ¬†I know it wasn’t Dad, but at the same time I’m pretty sure he was there with me. ¬†I quickly took a seat, drew a deep breath, and held back the emotions lest I started crying in the pew for seemingly no reason.

So many little reminders throughout the day, so many moments of happiness and joy. ¬†I’m so thankful for all of the wonderful memories and moments I had with Dad.


Day 780 – Thankful for Dream Dissonance

Day 780 – Thankful for Dream Dissonance

Hey gang! ¬†Two quick sidetones to start today’s blog. ¬†First off, I usually start with a title and work my way forward off of that. ¬†Today the title is currently blank and I’m going to go with the flow and see where this ends up ūüėČ ¬† Second, as I blog please keep in mind that I am being very honest and open as I write. ¬†This sometimes means I share insights that may be surprising or cause nervousness in others. ¬†Please note that I’m not planning on “just packing up and moving away” – I’m just sharing a portion of my inner dialogue. ¬†With those two notes in mind…

I’m not really sure where the though initially came from this morning, but all of a sudden it was right there in front of me, staring me down. ¬†While driving to work I found myself getting frustrated at the car in the right lane that would slow down until I was about to pass them on the left, they’d suddenly speed up and cut me off to go around a slower vehicle, and then repeat the process a couple of times. ¬†Taking note of my increasing heart rate I took a deep breath, smiled to myself and fired up the song “Better Man” by Judah and the Lion. ¬†It’s an awesome tune about trying to be a better person and it helped my nerves settle a bit.

Feeling much better after that song I skipped back a couple of songs on the album to a tune called “Stockholm.” ¬†It’s one of my favorite songs on the album as it tells the story of going somewhere far away, falling head over heals with the new land, and never wanting to leave. ¬†“I don’t know if I’ll ever make it home, if I’ll ever make it home…” ¬†The traveler feels the land calling to him as his new home and he just wants to linger there forever.


If past lives are truly a thing I can guarantee that I was Polynesian back in the day. ¬†The ways I’ve felt about Hawaii and New Zealand mirror the song exactly. ¬†When we were in Hawaii I was almost in tears realizing that I had to leave it as I sat outside alone on the second floor of the airport gate. ¬†Becky and I’d spoken with a resident who’d moved there and we’d asked her how she knew it was the right place for her to stay. ¬†She told the story of how she was literally sobbing as she boarded the plane to leave Hawaii after her third trip and realized that her home was Hawaii. ¬†In the past three days I can think of at least half a dozen times I’ve somewhat joked about dropping everything and moving to Hawaii or New Zealand if Becky gave the green light.

I can already picture it in my mind so clearly… ¬†A small home on the coast, just off the beach… ¬†Working in a small workshop crafting puzzle boxes and other gifts to sell to tourists… ¬†Taking time to hike, explore, and lose myself in the beauty of the world around me… ¬†Ahh… ¬†If I think about it just long enough I can smell the ocean air…

That seems like heaven to me, but is it really the right thing? ¬†Is that where I should be? ¬†And I think this is where I really get into what my blog is about today… ¬†Being thankful for the friction, the rub, between my dreams.


As perfect as that scene is (and trust me, it is perfect in my brain!) I am pretty sure that there’s another equally as perfect dream. ¬†That one is right here, in Wisconsin. ¬†I love this area and am continually in awe of the beauty of the bluffs, the power of the Mississippi River, and the awesome collection of birds and animals. ¬†We’re close to family, close to friends, and in a city that’s just right for us, not too big, but not too small. ¬†I freaking LOVE my career path. ¬†I am over the moon with joy to be able to work with the teammates I work with. ¬†The dream we are starting to create is INCREDIBLE! ¬†There’s a very noble purpose in what we do and we very much live our values in how we do it. ¬†Sure, it’s stressful as all get out at times and it’s incredibly hard work, but it is so rewarding I can’t even quite put it into words. ¬†This life I am living, this dream I am living, is pretty much perfect as is and where it’s going.

So how do I balance two dreams at once? ¬†Which one is the right one? ¬†I can still feel the serenity, peace and joy I felt while in Hawaii and New Zealand… ¬†but I can also feel the accomplishment, purpose, and joy in the moment living this life. ¬†If I consider my purpose and legacy to be to live a joyful life and share that joy with others does one side win out more than the other? ¬†It’s something that I struggle with on a regular basis. ¬†Rather, it’s something that I consider on a regular basis. ¬†This is where it might sound weird…

I truly love and appreciate the dissonance of these two dreams! ¬†(and there’s the title for today) ¬†Both of them are 100% the right dream to chase. ¬†Yes, they are both perfect. ¬†In knowing that they are both perfect I get to diagnose the why behind them. ¬†Why do I love the serenity and peace in one and the purpose and accomplishment in the other? ¬†Because they are both different parts of the one unified whole. ¬†In order for me to find peace and serenity I need to first feel purpose and accomplishment. ¬†In order for me to find purpose and accomplishment I need to first feel peace and serenity. ¬†Both dreams must be present at once for me to be the best version of me.

Knowing that I will bust ass in order to find quiet on vacation reminds me to enjoy the grind. ¬†The quiet of vacation recharges me and leaves me missing the grind that is missing. ¬†As I’ve started to come more and more to grips with this it also leaves me struggling a bit with things like the idea of retirement… ¬†How will that next stage fit if I don’t have the work to help me appreciate the play?

I know a few friends who struggle greatly with this concept. ¬†They think that there is one right answer that they should pursue. ¬†The thought is that only one can be right. ¬†If only one is right please God let me be wrong! ¬†The magic is in finding how to get the opposing dreams compliment each other, work with each other, and fit together. ¬†I appreciate this dream dissonance because it also forces me to find ways to live them both at once. ¬†It pushes me outside of my comfort zone and think creatively about how to live them both at the same time (crazy ideas like opening Express offices in New Zealand!). ¬†If I didn’t take time to appreciate the friction I would choose only one, live a life of mediocrity, and miss out on half of the awesomeness. ¬†Which really makes me wonder, have I settled too low with only having two crazy dreams? ¬†What if I attempted this with three or four? ¬†How much more joyful could my life be?

As you can see, this has been rolling my brain for quite some time. ¬†Full disclosure, I still sometimes struggle to appreciate the rub between these two dreams and sometimes wish to have just one of them. ¬†Days like today remind me that when that sensation comes over me I need to remember to appreciate the dream dissonance because that’s where the magic and joy really live.