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!!!


Day 973 – Thankful for a Great Family Game that Fits Our Family Well and Sharing a Classic with the Boys – Back to the Future

After cruising through emails for work, heading to church, grocery shopping, and making lunch Becky had the wonderful idea of busting out a great board game – Trekking the National Parks.  How fitting of a game is that for our family?  The whole point of the game is to journey from park to park doing one of several things that help you win the game.  We had so much fun like always – great family time!


Somehow I’ve let the boys down as a father and I hadn’t shared Back to the Future with them until tonight.  For some reason or another Becky and I remembered that fact for the umpteenth random reason and Becky ordered it from the library.  Tonight we are chilling on the couch watching it as a family.  It’s been a blast to enjoy both watching one of my old favorite movies as a kid and seeing my kids enjoy it as well.  I’m so glad to see that they’re as into it as I was when I saw it at approximately Gavin’s age.

Back to the Future


Day 972 – Thankful for Our Last Cub Scout Winter Camp

Whew…  the last Cub Scout Winter Camp is complete.  The bags have been unpacked, everything has been put away, and there may have even have been a shower beverage 😉

If there was a perfect last Winter Camp, this was definitely it as we had a blast!  The entire event was a ton of fun.  From a quick donut run with Dominic this morning to a paper airplane building session to hiking to gaga ball to slingshots to sledding to matchstick rockets to broom ball it was an awesome day.  Throw in an incredible mid-afternoon nap in the sun while laying outside in the snow on a sled in the sun on a February afternoon and it was tremendous.  Add the fact that I was able to spent some time with the boys also and it was just perfect.


I’m so thankful for this wonderful opportunity to spend one last Cub Scout Winter Camp with my boys!


Day 871 – Thankful for Watching the Ever Changing Colors of a Sunrise In a Snowy Winter Wonderland

On my drive to Eau Claire this morning I started off with listening to my current audio book but I just wasn’t getting into it. I then switched over to some chill tunes but that didn’t quite scratch the itch either. As I drove in silence for a couple of miles thinking about what to listen to next I figured out that the lack of sound was music to my ears. The rest of the drive (outside of a call with my mom) was spent in silence.

The absence of sound seemed to heighten my sense of sight. The sunrise was beginning and it was awesome to take in the changing colors across the horizon. The drive through the valley heading up into Arcadia was breathtaking! The western sky was a brilliant purple and lavender while the eastern sky was starting to turn orangish red. The subtle change of colors across the sky was amazing!

This wasn’t from this morning, but you get the idea 😁

As I continued to drive the sky kept shifting colors. Even as the sky turned its normal blue the rising sun changed the color of the snow to a golden orange hue. Normally I’m not a huge fan of snow, but in this case I realized how much the white canvas added to beauty of the sunrise. By the time I got to Eleva my face was tired from smiling. It was so relaxing to take in the sunrise in all of its glorious colors to start of a wonderful day!


Day 870 – Thankful for Relatively Random Reminders of My Grandmas

Over the course of the past few days or so there have been a handful of random reminders of both of my grandmas.  It’s funny how one little thing, seemingly out of nowhere, can spark old memories that leave me grinning.  It wasn’t a picture, card, or letter, but ordinary things that just take on a different context when seen through the lens of a grandson.

This past weekend Becky and I had a few pots of coffee throughout the weekend mornings.  One of the types we have is a whole bean and there was something about the smell of the fresh grounds steeping that reminded me of weekend mornings at my Grandma Lamping’s house.  All we needed was the smell of fresh toast and it would have been a perfect match.

A couple of nights ago Becky mentioned the word “kringle” and I immediately started salivating.  On our way home from logrolling we stopped off at Festival and picked some up.  No visit to Grandma Lamping’s was complete without several kringles in the morning.

Last night I wanted a little snack and I went for something I had the urge for…  saltines and butter.  This was a favorite snack that we used to have at my Grandma Kreiling’s house often.  Simple and salty, they always remind me of being at her house.


On my drive this morning I saw several houses with HUGE icicles hanging off the eaves.  Grandma Kreiling’s house used to have huge icicles like this each winter and I remember the warnings of making sure I don’t stand under them because they would cause serious injury or death.  It made me smile thinking about all the times we would try to break the biggest ones off in one piece.

In all of the cases it felt good having some great memories of each of them come to mind. Sure, the initial memories were very much on the surface, but each time it led to me spending time remembering spending time with my grandmas.  How awesome is that on a cold winter day?