Day 883 – Thankful for Memories of New Zealand and Plans Slowly Coming Together

So I thought I would blog about something besides vacation today, but then I was caught totally off guard while running early this morning. On the treadmill I was able to select which trail I would see on the screen and one of the options jumped off and I had to choose it… The North Island of New Zealand!

While putting in my miles I was able to re-run some of my favorite views from our trip to NZ including Cathedral Cove. Seeing it on the screen brought back a rush of emotions and I had a flood of memories come roaring back. It’s funny, but I remember seeing the rock formations from inside the cave the first time so clearly… Just as I can remember the smiles on Becky, Dominic, & Gavin as we played in the ocean and enjoyed the beauty of the area.

Once that trail was completed I went through the process a few times and was reminded of so many other hikes in New Zealand as well as other places. It’s funny, I didn’t quite realize some of the similarities my favorite places on Earth all have until I had to stop and remember that I was seeing a trail in New Zealand and not in Olympic, Yoho, Glacier, Sawtell, or Seward. So many glorious places and incredible natural beauty!

Throughout the day several plans all started to come together in my brain. Some personal, some business, and some a mix of the two. While there’s a legitimate chance that none of them will pan out it feels great to see the plans slowly forming. Even if they don’t work out I know I’ll be better from the experiences and will be able to either move closer to each of those dreams or come up with a slightly different and improved dream in the process.

Maybe it’s something nagging in my brain from a week ago today, but it almost feels like I’m taking more time to enjoy the journey and the moment. When I am putting thought into these ideas I’m enjoying the process of thought ideation and creation. We’ll see where they end up, but for now it’s feeling pretty awesome and I’m thankful for the slow but steady progress.


Day 882 – Thankful for Talking Vacations with Strangers, a Comment From a Teammate Last Week, and a Quote from Two Years Ago

Earlier today while waiting in line I struck up a conversation with someone.  We’d both had the shared experience of having to “donate” a Leatherman to the TSA as we’d forgotten them in our backpacks while travelling.  Before I knew it about 10 minutes had passed and we were still talking vacations.  As we talked there were several times when he was asking me about places that we’d gone, how old kids should be before he takes them, how much time they should take, and things along those lines.  Amongst those questions I was also learning about their upcoming trip to Glacier this summer and gave him some ideas of places to see along the way if they decide to drive instead of taking the train.  It was a blast!  Nothing like talking vacations to get me all fired up and my heart all full of joy.

Last week I was talking with a couple of teammates and we got on the topic of vacations…  I know, that topic seems to follow me often!  At one point my teammate asked how I take so many cool vacations.  It led to a great conversation on two parts.  First off, it reminded me of the biggest reason we go on them…  they are amongst the most important things in life to Becky and I.  As such we prioritize them and put them ahead of many other types of expenses.  Secondly, it was a great way to share some financial thoughts and dream / life focus with my teammate.  As I drove back that comment from her kept rolling in my head and I just kept smiling.  It was a moment for me to remember why we put the focus where we do, we love the experience of heading out into nature to see and experience new things and to enjoy the peace.

My blog post from a couple of years ago yesterday popped back up and left me smiling as I went to bed last night.  In my hotel room in San Francisco I saw this quote on a magazine for the hotel chain… “Travel lets us see ourselves in a new way.  With our minds free to dream, goals become clearer, moments grow richer, and we return home fuller than when we left.”  That quote has stuck with me and reminds me that while I love travel, there’s a secret takeaway that I need to remember in my daily life.  Any moment of any given day can have that same magical travel feeling…  if I take the time and mindfulness to be fully immersed in the present.

Today all three of these thoughts popped in and out of my head and I’m so thankful for all of them.


Day 881 – Thankful for a Great Morning that Included Yoga with Becky, a Beautiful Sunrise, and Gavin’s Battle of the Books Success

Day 881 – Thankful for a Great Morning that Included Yoga with Becky, a Beautiful Sunrise, and Gavin’s Battle of the Books Success

This morning was pretty awesome!  Due to the cold weather running outside with the dogs was’t really an option, but luckily Becky had a great idea.  One of our favorite yoga instructors was teaching the 5:30am class so after a round of early morning sit ups at home we were in a 96+ degree room sweating our creaky joints off.  The first few minutes made me feel like I was doing an impression of the Tin Man but by the end I was melting right into my mat.  It felt amazing.


On our drive home we were able to take in a scenic sunrise.  Is it just me or are the sunrises more beautiful in the super cold weather like this?  Regardless of the scientific reason is was so relaxing to go from yoga to seeing the vibrant reds and pinks in the sunrise.

One of the reasons we were able to go to yoga this morning was Gavin’s Battle of the Books event at UW La Crosse.  Thanks to being one of the top two teams in their school Gavin’s team qualified to take on the best teams from other schools in La Crosse.  They faced off via 45 questions on 20 different books (15 questions in each of 3 rounds).  It was so much fun watching Gavin and his team interact during the event.  There was no question that when they knew it, they knew it!  They’d fly out of their seats, grab the right answer, and then smile from ear to ear as they waited.  It was pretty awesome to observe.


As it turns out they tied for 3rd place out of 20 teams, not too shabby!  They were smiling big when they got their medals in the awards ceremony.  Regardless of the results I’m just super thankful for how much he loves to read, be on a team, and challenge himself.  Seeing them finish so high was a pretty sweet bonus!



All of that before 11:00am…  Seems like a pretty amazing morning to me, and one that I am so grateful for.



Day 880 – Thankful for Using Extra Time to Let Ideas Ferment

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been pushing myself to not trust my instincts to grab my phone whenever I have a free moment.  You know those moments when there’s an unexpected silence or a wait?  Instead of looking to my portable screen to provide a quick fix of news, sports, or some other form of entertainment I pause and do something a little crazy…  enjoy some time to think.  Sadly, it’s taking some getting used to.  The first split second of “non-entertainment” I feel an urge to grab my phone and fire it up.  It’s weird, I didn’t realize just how much of my time was getting gobbled up in that manner.

Over the past week I’ve had some excellent thoughts and ideas pop up during those down times.  I’ve thought about some changes to my book, pondered some business opportunities, considered a slight change in my exercise and diet plan, and have even put thought into a change to this blog.  As I’ve found more and more short bursts of thought time each day I’ve been able to to push some of these thoughts and concepts further along than they ever would’ve been without taking time to let them ferment.


It really hit me while I was upstairs in my workshop this afternoon.  Becky took the boys to Scouts and I had time to myself up there.  Instead of firing up music or some other type of audio I just stood there in silence as I sanded and thought.  It felt amazing!  There was a moment in which I had almost that same feeling of being on vacation…  an inner peace while focusing uninterrupted thought on something important to me.

Today might not be the most exciting post I’ve ever written, but I get this weird sense that it is a turning point of sorts.  More focus on directing my time, focus and energy on where I truly want it to go as opposed to letting life happen to me.  I keep getting a line from Essentialism in my head…  either I don’t prioritize my life someone else will.  There are a handful of things I need to focus strongly on over the next few months and I’m keeping a better eye out for what’s non-essential to those goals.


Day 879 – Thankful for Dominic’s Willingness to Put Himself Out There

Earlier this morning Dominic and some of his fellow bandmates had a Solo & Ensemble competition in Onalaska.  It was pretty cool to see Dominic and many of his best friends up on stage playing together.  They did a great job and sounded fantastic!  Afterwards they were also able to get some coaching from the judge and they did showed excellent growth mindset as they learned some ways to improve.

Later in the morning we went back for Dominic’s solo piece.  Talk about putting yourself out there for everyone, it was him up in front of everyone (approximately 20 people – students, parents, teachers, and a judge).  He gave an intro to his piece and then played away with only his teacher accompanying him on piano.

He was nervous, but he stayed focused and kept playing.  It was wild to see him in front of a crowd like that.  I’ve done enough speaking to know how nerve-racking it can be to put yourself out there, but what he did blows my mind.  It was only few months ago that he started playing the trumpet and this was his first solo.  Talk about putting yourself out there for the world!


Dominic, way to step out of your comfort zone and try something completely different bud!  You were an inspiration for me yet again and I’ll be sure to keep the thought of you in my head when I’m questioning whether or not I should put myself out there.  The amount of courage and strength it took today was incredible, you made your mom and I proud of you yet again.  Love you Bud!


Day 978 – Thankful for Starting to Re-Read an Instant Classic – Essentialism

One of the tools I used to kickstart 2019 was a list of activities to focus on to make it a wonderful year.  Today I started following one of the fourteen activities…  re-reading five of the most important books I’ve read recently.  While I love reading a wide variety of books there are some “classics” that could be even more beneficial for me if I read and re-read them in more detail.  Diving in deeper into each of these books helps me get the concepts and insights more than by giving them each one good read.


The book I started going back through today is Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.  It’s a wonderful concept to go back to fresh off the heels of Atomic Habits and Digital Minimalism.  All three tie so tightly together it’s pretty amazing.  Once this is finished I’m going to head back to Designing Your Life as it seems to be the next in line on this series.

In reading it today I was amazed at some of the details and actions I had missed or forgotten the first time around.  There were also several concepts that I seemed to see a little more clearly now after taking some of the advice to heart.  This is proving to be a great way to pause and evaluate the gap between how I am performing to how I would like to be performing as well as showing me the roadmap of how to get there.  I can’t wait to see where I am in about 3-6 months when I read it again!


Day 977 – Thankful for Bluetooth Hands Free Calling and Other Car Features

Cue the awesomely horrible scratchy voice of the ’80’s hairband Cinderella…  “Don’t know what you got til it’s gone….”  Tears of sadness roll down my cheeks as I type this and am missing something that was so beautiful in my life…  bluetooth and other car features.

I didn’t realize that there was something lower than a base model car until about 8am this morning when I got a loaner from the body shop.  A couple of months ago I was backed into while in a parking lot and it’s now getting fixed.  The loaner car the shop has for me is about the lamest ride I’ve had in a long time, but it’s really helped me appreciate some of the car features I didn’t realize I was taking for granted.


I know, total first world problems here, but I knew I was in trouble when I found the 8 track player while searching for a USB plugin.  Not only is there no place to plug in my phone there is no bluetooth to connect my phone to…  ugh!  Up until now I had no idea just much I should appreciate some of those basic features with all the driving I do!

Time to go back to crying while singing my ’80’s power ballad for my recently lost and finally appreciated love…


Day 976 – Thankful for Moments of Clarity In Which We Define Ourselves, Part II

Quick note – yes, the picture is the same as yesterday and that’s totally on purpose… you’ll quickly understand why.

Most days I find something throughout the day that really jumps out at me and sticks out as the topic for my blog.  It isn’t very often, but sometimes the thoughts that are still rattling through my brain from the previous blog create that topic for me.  It’s interesting how taking time to think like this has helped me consider some things on a different level than I normally would have in the past.  Where something may have been a fleeting thought it’s now getting the time and attention to grow into something with deeper roots that provides more insight.  Today is one of those days.

As I laid in bed last night I chuckled to myself as I thought about my blog from yesterday.  The choice of picture was a little difficult to pin down.  I kind of wanted to put in a picture of a video clip from the episode, but that didn’t quite fit.  After some thought I was going to use a picture of “Big Mike” from 2007 to highlight the transformation, but that just didn’t feel right either.  After some consideration I went with the picture of Becky and I after we completed our first marathon together.  It was a perfect example of moment that most likely wouldn’t have happened had I not had that moment of clarity in Nashville.  The funny thing is that it is the picture itself that led to today’s post.

In that moment there is a huge look of joy on my face.  We completed our goal and it felt amazing!!!  It was so much better and more meaningful completing it with Becky than when I’d finished marathons on my own.  Within hours I started to fall into a state of sadness.  Over the six months prior to the race Becky and I had spent so much time together training and talking about the marathon.  We had a common goal and vision that we were working towards and it provided a sense of joined vision and purpose for me.  After the successfully completing the marathon the purpose had been completed.  The dream was done.  The vision was reached.  All that remained was a deep emptiness, a great void where that awesome dream had once remained.  It was the strangest thing, but I just felt empty.  How weird, here I am supposed to be elated about reaching our goal yet I’m feeling down.  That moment was one that stuck with me and offered up a moment of clarity to me once I had time to fully let it ferment in my brain and soul…

What I learned from that one moment was that I had put too much energy into the goal itself.  The goal was where I had put the importance and it was the only thing that mattered.  In the process of pushing towards the goal I completely forgot to be thankful for the journey that it took to get there.  For some reason I was thankful only for the accomplishment of the goal and felt sad that there wasn’t something next.  There wasn’t a next high to fill the void.  In some ways, this was an incredible way for me to start learning to handle loss appropriately.  When I net it out now, the goal had been reached and was now gone.  I was mourning that shared goal we had as it no longer existed.  Instead of being grateful for the experience I felt only loss.  I felt horrible!  

Funny how as I now type and process this even more deeply, I hear the words of Pastor Reiff when we Dad was in the hospital…  “Be thankful for the time you’ve had…”  He totally nailed it!  I’d moved on to mourning instead of pausing to remember and be thankful for the experiences and journey Becky and I had to get to our goal.  It wasn’t until Becky and some friends helped me change my perspective to the right direction that finally was happy again.  When I think of this picture now I only partially think of the goal itself, most of my focus is on all of the time Becky and I spent together working towards making that moment.

As I look back I learned so much from that one moment.  In that moment I initially chose mourning for what was lost.  After time and help I was able to switch my mindset to being thankful for what I’d had.  The moment itself was not good or bad in of itself, I put the context to it.  Initially I chose poorly, thankfully I adjusted my mindset to the right place.  Moving forward I’ve remembered this lesson and use this moment as a reminder to enjoy the journey and not the destination…  to be thankful for what I have, not what is lost.  So much learning from one moment…  So much that I may had missed and not thought as deeply about had I not taken the time to express my thoughts last night…


Day 975 – Thankful for Moments of Clarity In Which We Define Ourselves

I still remember hanging out in my hotel room in Nashville on a Saturday afternoon in February of 2008. On that day I had a moment of clarity that changed the direction of my life. Funny how things like that work, isn’t it? Sometimes inspiration hits us when we least expect it. Quite honestly, I was just laying around wasting time while I waited for our annual “Evening of Excellence” with Express to start. I was sitting on the couch flipping through channels, prepping to go brainless while I stared at the TV. As I scanned through the channels I happened to land on a program that I’ll never forget and that I’ve watched many times since in its entirety on YouTube… the 2007 Ironman Championship from Kona, HI.

I almost immediately became totally engrossed in it and the outside world melted away. The personal stories of each competitor blew me away! Seeing what they were voluntarily putting themselves through was unthinkable… 2.4 mile swim in the ocean, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run. It was ridiculous! They were literally willing their bodies to go past the point of exhaustion and breakdown to accomplish their dream.

At the time I had just started working out and eating healthy. My weight had peaked and I had realized it was time for a change. I had momentum and progress on my side, but I didn’t really have a concrete goal I was shooting for.

Over the course of a couple of hours I heard stories of the training plans of the elite athletes. I was amazed at the hours and hours and hours of blood, sweat, and tears they put in.

More impressive were the stories of the others who were tackling the Ironman triathlon in spite of other challenges they faced. There was a young man so horribly injured in a car accident that he was praying for death until his dad gave him a pep talk that set him on the right direction. He was using the Ironman as a way to prove to himself that he could overcome anything.

There was the story of a 67 year old woman who’d volunteered at the race for years and completed the event. One competitor rolled across the finish line in honor of a competitor who’d crossed the line that way to raise awareness for ALS. When he completed the race had ALS and was dead in less than two years from the disease.

A blind grandpa finished it to show his grandkids that they can do anything they set their minds to. He also reminded us all to focus on and be thankful for all that we have, not what we’re missing. Speaking of focusing on what we have, a big dude, bigger than me, did just that. He completed the race without legs.

One of the elite athletes ran into health issues at the start of the run and decided to walk the 20+ miles. Even though he was in pain and wasn’t competing any longer he continued to walk and cheer everyone else on as they passed him. When asked why he didn’t just quit like so many others had he said that he continued out of respect for his fellow athletes.

All of these stories moved me and stirred my emotions. I was smiling and then sobbing and then back to smiling. Seeing this embodiment of the human spirit was incredibly powerful. As I watched I couldn’t help but be inspired. If these folks could push themselves to do this I could certainly do something more grand than I had done to this point. It was at this moment that I clearly saw a huge gap between who I was and who I wanted to be. In that moment I decided that I would run a marathon to get me on the right track and make up some of that distance.

In training for and completing that first marathon I learned so much about myself and what I have in me. I was forced to rely on grit to get me through and positivity to lift me. Finishing that first marathon unlocked a part of me that changed who I am. It raised my confidence, lifted my spirits, and dared me to dream bigger. I’m a better version of me thanks in part to that I be moment of clarity and the dreams it ignited.

I’m so thankful for that seemingly innocuous Saturday afternoon. I think of it often and smile. If I were in a comic book that would definitely be a part of my origin story. One of the best parts of treadmill time in the winter is that I find that old episode on YouTube and watch it for a reminder of where I’ve been and to dream of where I’m going.


Day 974 – Thankful for Gavin Becoming a Boy Scout

There are no longer any Cub Scouts living in our house as of tonight…  only Boy Scouts!  Gavin and his fellow Weblos crossed over into Boy Scouts this evening.  After five years of Cub Scouts they’re now moving on to their next adventure.


As Gavin went up to receive his Arrow of Light I was beaming with pride.  Seeing all of his hard work and focus pay off in earning the highest award for Cub Scouts was awesome.  Seeing the smile on his face as he started to cross the bridge was priceless.  When he walked over the bridge he was visibly reading each of the Scout values and it warmed my heart.  Walking alongside him while remembering my own walk with my dad across the bridge when I crossed over was incredible.

Once Gavin was greeted by his fellow Boy Scouts each former Weblos had a Boy Scout line up behind them and then replace the Weblos’ blue shoulder boards with the green boards of Boy Scouts.  Behind Gavin was Dominic, and they were both smiling as Dominic helped Gavin officially become a Boy Scout.


Congrats Gavin!!!  I’m more proud of you than I could ever hope to express.  You yet again have brought tremendous joy into my life and I’m so thankful for your awesome personality.  So glad you’ve enjoyed Cub Scouts, I can’t wait to hear about all of your future Scouting endeavors.  Love you Bud!!!