Day 1,036 – Thankful for Taking the Time to Listen to the Music My Soul Was Yearning to Hear

The past couple of days have been filled with so many excellent ideas – leadership concepts, tactical techniques, jaw dropping realizations, and thoughts about life in general.  There’ve been so many of those ideas all mixed with great times with so many of my Express Leadership Academy cohorts that by the evening my brain was getting full.  Instead of adding more to the mix I paused and listened to hear where the Universe was leading me.  I’m so thankful I did.

Over the past couple of months I’ve been so focused on a couple of specific aspects of my life that I’ve found that there are other areas I’ve been neglecting.  With all the running around on the weekends I haven’t been to church in well over a month.  There’ve only been a couple of times in which I’ve gone to yoga in the past month.  My eating has taken a turn for the worse and I’m catching myself have a drink more often.  Exercising has gone right down the tubes and I’ve put too many pounds back on in a short time.  I’m so wore down by the end of the day that I’ve spent more time on meaningless and mindless crap at the end of the day instead of focusing on something productive.  In short, I’ve focused on only a couple of the most important aspects of my life, let many others go by the wayside, and instead have filled my time with “stuff” that doesn’t lead me towards my dreams.  Over the past few days this has really moved more and more into my line of sight and I must change it immediately.  To be clear, this isn’t a “feel sorry for Mike moment” or anything, it’s a simple realization that I have some decisions that I need to do a better job of making.

This afternoon we had some free time and decided to listen to what my soul needed.  I opted for a run and it felt incredible.  Once showered up I knocked out a bunch of work that was on my mind and that needed to be done.  Instead of going out to eat I ordered in room service and kept working – it actually felt fantastic to have quiet time to be productive!  After working I realized it was getting close to the sunset so I put in my earbuds and headed out to the beach.  I Facetimed Becky so I could experience the sunset with my travel buddy.  I sat in a chair on the beach and just soaked in the ocean air and the beauty of nature all around me.  The clouds changed color and shifted across the sky while I sat back and enjoyed the view.  No thought, no focus, no worry, only the heightened sense of truly experiencing the present moment and all it had to offer.  I could hear the waves washing up on the shore underneath my quiet music.  The ocean air was salty on my lips and I could smell that sea smell.  I walked and felt the powdery white sand in between my toes as I stepped.  I looked out over the ocean and saw such beautiful sights.  It was amazing and reminded me to pause and remember why I do what I do.  In those moments all of my senses combined to play the music my soul needed to hear…  the simplicity of the beauty of nature in the present moment.  Soaking in the joy that comes not from possessions or accomplishment, the pure joy of appreciating the wonder of life in the moment and being so thankful to be alive and experiencing that moment.

The time I spent on the beach will be fresh in my brain and has already been catalogued with so many of my dearest memories of being totally lost in the moment.  Listening to the Universe reminded me to pause and be thoughtful in my actions.  To focus on the right directions.  To enjoy and appreciate the present moment as tomorrow is not a promise.  To live and appreciate each day as if it were my last.  So much to be thankful for and to remember when making a decision which could lead me in a wrong direction.


Day 1,035 – Thankful for Having My Mind Blown By Thoughts of the Future, Incredible Teammates, and an Incredibly Supportive Family

In our leadership retreat today our speaker was very much future and technologically focused. His presentation helped me imagine some of the possibilities of our future – both in leadership and digital application. To take time and pause to consider just where we may be heading as a society and its implications was nothing short of mind blowing. To think of all the change we will see, both humanitarian and technological is wild… Thinking realistically about what that means in our industry within the next decade or so is amazing. When I go to bed after writing this I’m sure I’ll spend a fair amount of time looking at the ceiling and imagining. What a feeling!

Throughout the day I was caught by a feeling that I’m so thankful for. At no point was I panicked and nervous about being away from any of my offices. It’s a wonderful feeling that only comes in those moments of stillness when I see someone else hop out of class to take a call or to send an email. In those moments I pause and feel this gravitational pull towards my phone to check it and make sure all is well. Instead I caught myself before I’d subconsciously grab my phone and I could feel my heart rate slow. I remembered that I have great people in each location that I trust greatly. With that thought in mind I didn’t even lift my phone. At the end of the day when we had some time I checked my emails and, just as I’d assumed, they had everything covered. For me to be able to take time away from being in the office to focus on growth is so greatly enhanced by having great teammates who are able to thrive without me. I’m so thankful for them!

Throughout the day I also spend time in thought about how grateful i am for such a loving and supportive family. To leave on a leadership training trip like this certainly doesn’t make life easy, especially when life throws a few curveballs. I’m so thankful for having such a loving and supportive family who not only allows me the opportunity to attend trainings like this, but actively push me to reach for my dreams. I can’t even imagine what life would be like without them (or maybe I just don’t want to).

It’s been a wild day, ups, downs, and everything in between. At several moments I caught myself pausing to think about just how blessed I am for all the incredible people in my life. So much love, so much support, so much friendship, so much motivation. If today were my last day on earth I would go on to the next with a heart full of joy. I love you all so much!


Day 1,034 – Thankful for Pausing One Book to Re-Read Another

I’m really enjoying The Name of the Wind, but today a different book started calling out to me. It’s one I’ve read a few times in the past. Over the past handful of years I’m pretty sure it’s gone on more trips with me than any other which is very fitting as I still remember buying the paperback copy of it in the San Francisco airport while headed to New Zealand with the boys. Funny how even after eighteen hundred years it is still so relevant.

One of the things I appreciate most about Meditations is how easy it is to apply to life in a short period of time. To be sure, it is very dense and many paragraphs need to be reread a time or to in order to fully sink in, but the concepts are so simplistic. As is the case with so many simplistic things the actual living out and execution of those simple things is much more difficult.

A few of the lines that really hit home today were:

  • Time is a river, a violent current of events, glimpsed once and already carried past us, and another follows and is gone.
  • If you seek tranquility, do less. Do less, better. Eliminate the nonessential by asking every moment, “ is this necessary?”
  • Uncomplicate yourself. Life is short, get what you can from the present- thoughtfully, justly.
  • …run through the list of those you knew yourself. Those who worked in vain, who failed to do what they should have – what they should have remained fixed on and found satisfaction in. You’re better off not giving the small things more time than they deserve.
  • Nothing that goes on in anyone else’s mind can harm you.

And the line that really hit home today:

It is fortunate that this has happened and I’ve remained unharmed by it-not shattered by the present or frightened of the future. Does what’s happened keep you from acting with justice, generosity, self-control, sanity, prudence, honesty, humility, straightforwardness, and all the other qualities that allow a person’s nature to fulfill itself? The thing itself was no misfortune at all; to endure it and prevail is great good fortune.

So many wonderful reminders and thoughts to ponder and take action on. I’m thankful for taking the time to put these thoughts and several others into my head today. Now begins the much more difficult work of putting them to action and practice.


Day 1,033 – Thankful for Times When the Boys Get Along Incredibly Well

Times like this are amongst my favorites.  While the boys and I have been together this afternoon and this evening they’ve been truly enjoying each other’s company.  They usually get along to be sure, but there are just some occasions like today when they act  like great friends.  We’ve played many games together and there was never a sore loser or frustration – it was truly a ton of fun!

They were both hamming it up for a picture after volunteering at the fish boil for Boy Scouts  🙂

This summer has been pretty crazy for both of them – Gavin was gone last week at camp and now Dominic will be gone next week for camp.  I’m sure the time away from each other reminds them to appreciate each other more, but it seems like there might be more to it than just that.  Regardless, I enjoyed every moment of I had with them today and am so thankful for how well they got along with each other.  It’s so cool seeing their relationship continue to grow and develop.


Day 1,032 – Thankful for Book Recommendations From Friends – The Name of the Wind

You know it’s got to be a great book when you’re already over the moon within the first 100 pages. It’s even more wild when you text your friends who recommended it to you to share how much you’re loving it already and their responses include:

  • Yep, beginning is great, but it’s really just a tasty appetizer for the food coma that’s coming
  • Definitely gets better! Don’t get me wrong, I like the first couple hundred pages. But they’re not really representative of the book as a whole.
  • Nice! Glad you are enjoying the beginning. It only gets way better from there!
  • Way better!

Seriously??? This book is already moving into some pretty hallowed ground as an all time favorite and they’re telling me I haven’t even gotten to the good stuff yet? AWESOME!!!

My friends recommended The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss when we’re hanging out the last time and each of them said it was amongst their all time favorites. I figured I’d follow their lead and see what I was missing, I’m so glad I did! Thanks guys!!!


Day 1,031 – Thankful for Exploring the Countryside On a Morning Run

This morning I really wanted to go back to sleep when the alarm went off. I laid there for a few seconds and then rolled over and turned on the light. After shaking the groggy fog out of my brain I laced up my shoes and headed out.

I was staying a hotel I hadn’t stayed at in EC before and, as luck would have it, it was just on the edge of town. I headed out on a road that went past Kohl’s down a hill, and then disappeared into the countryside. It was wild, from retail to wilderness.

As I ran I kept admiring the beautiful vistas as the sun was beginning its daily ascent. The air was cool and still and everything was so peaceful.

Had I not gone for my run this morning I never would’ve known that this awesome wilderness oasis was so close to where I work in EC. I’m so thankful for the way running helps me explore so many beautiful news areas.


Day 1,030 – Thankful for a Visual that Really Hit Home Today

During a teammate’s 1 on 1 meeting today my friend Joy mentioned a bit of advice intended to help the other teammate.  It’s a piece of advice I’ve heard her say many times in the past, but for whatever reason it hit me right between the eyes today.  

“When the flight attendant is giving instructions, what do they say to do with the oxygen masks?  Put yours on first before helping others with theirs.”

As the words came out of her mouth I was also reminded of something Father Mark said in one of his sermons, “If you would be a river, first you must be a reservoir.”

In an instant so many realizations came to mind and I looked around me with clarity.  While trying to focus on helping others and solving other challenges I suddenly saw the chaos I have around me.  The piles of papers around my desk were suddenly visible.  The lack of clarity in my focus was evident.  I’ve been working so hard, but I haven’t necessarily paused to breathe over the past couple of weeks.  Sure, I had some time off, but even that was a blur and I truly shut work out of my brain the overwhelming majority of that time away.  With that one phrase I saw the need for me to pause, take a deep breath, and focus.

This evening I’ve been going through much of the clutter and have started clearing things out of my way.  I’ve still got a lot to work on, but I can see the trail now.  Before focusing on anything new I will be taking time to put my oxygen mask on first.  This doesn’t mean not helping others, rather, it reminds me that to truly help others as much as possible I need to get myself on track.

Tonight I’ve started to put my oxygen mask on first and will be able to better serve my teammates with it on properly.


Day 1,029 – Thankful for Quality Time with My Express Winona Family and an Unexpected Road Trip with Dominic

Tonight we wrapped up our annual Halftime planning session for our Winona team.  While the majority of the time was focused on strategies to improve our already record setting year we also took some time to relax as a team as well.  I’m so blessed to have such an excellent team and I’m always thankful for the time I have with them.  Their energy and passion for what they do always fills my heart with joy.


After our time together I headed home, picked up Dominic and we headed off to Brownsville to drop off our lawn mower at our mechanic.  We were in no hurry, had no specific agenda, and had fun spending time with each other.  DJ Dominic fired up some tunes while we drove, sang, talked, listened, and laughed.  Having some quiet time to just the two of us like that was greatly appreciated with all the busy-ness we’ve had this summer.  Those little moments are magic for the soul.

Now off to bed so I can have some quiet time with Becky in the morning as we walk the dogs before heading out to work tomorrow!


Day 1,028 – Thankful for a Thoughtful Gift and Talking to Myself (Self Awareness)

When I got to my office in Eau Claire today I was greeted with a very thoughtful gift – a hand written card and a great book.  Joy, our Regional Developer, left them for me when she visited our office last week.  Not gonna lie, it was a pretty amazing way to start my Monday in the office!  I followed her directions from the card and flipped to a random page and was greeted with a thought that’s suck with me all day.  Thanks Joy!


On my drive home I was spending some time thinking through a challenge I am currently facing.  Without thinking too much about how I was going about solving it I had a moment of clarity in which I caught myself not thinking about the problem correctly.  Without thinking I caught myself talking out loud to myself, “Dude, slow down and focus on what you really need right now.  What exactly do we need to solve this?”

After chuckling at myself I realized that I was 100% right in correcting myself from the mistake I was making.  Thanks to a moment of self-awareness I was able to stop myself from letting my thoughts go to where I am comfortable, idea creation and brainstorming, to a less comfortable but more time appropriate thought process – practical problems solving.  Isn’t it funny how when I pause for a moment and put my focus on myself from the third person perspective I’m more apt to give myself better advice?  I really need to work on that more, though preferably without the talking to myself! 😉


Day 1,027 – Thankful for Continuing a New-ish Family Tradition and Driving Through the UP

Over the past handful of days we’ve kept up a relatively new family tradition. Each summer we head out to a cabin near water and spend time with our family. Most often this includes being out on the water, going for a bike ride, eating out, and hanging out spending time as a family. It’s an awesome little oasis of family time in the the craziness that is our busy summer.

Without something like this to rally around as a group it’d be tough getting us all in one spot at one time (although this year we’ve totally lucked out and have been able to get us all together a couple of times already!). I am so thankful we take the time to figure out a way to keep this going each year. I had a great time this year and am already excited for next year’s outing and to see where we end up next summer!

Our ride home today has been a bit long and we’re still on the road. Gavin has a summer camp up north that we dropped him off at along the way. Currently about an hour and a half out… about 10.5 hours after we left this morning.

On a positive note we spent much of that time going through the UP. I LOVE that area!!! From the lakes, rock formations, forests, and everything in between it oddly feels like home. Our ride took us past three Great Lakes and one of my favorite areas up north, Munising, MI. It has been a long trip, but I am always grateful for some time touring one of my favorite places on Earth.