Day 1,067 – Thankful for a Very Becky Birthday

Day 1,067 – Thankful for a Very Becky Birthday

Today has been about the most Becky birthday we could ever have celebrated as a family. With it being kind of a big number one it was especially cool to have checked so many of her favorite things off the list.

First things first – we were sure to have a meal of ice cream, found a beautiful lake to sit beside (in the desert), we did a science related field trip to the Glen Canyon Dam, and there was even a math lesson in the car in between!

The real icing on the cake was hitting the Lower and Upper Antelope Canyons and the Grand Canyon (National Park #29 for us – only 32 to go!). To be able to spend time with her exploring such natural beauty was awesome.

Of all the awesomely Becky things we did today there was a moment that I’ll never forget for as long as I live. The look on her face and the emotion she showed when she first lay eyes on the Grand Canyon is something I will remember forever. In that one moment there are so many reasons I love her so dearly.

Thanks for sharing your special day with the boys and I today! Love you!!!


Day 1,066 – Thankful for a Day Full of Dam Jokes

While there are some days when I get a little deep and philosophical there are others when I can’t help but go totally surface level. Today was totally the latter.

The boys wanted to see the Hoover Dam so we headed there this morning before heading to Page, AZ. On the drive the jokes started to flow. Where’s the dam road? Do they sell dam souvenirs at the dam gift shop? Are we going to take the dam tour? Where’s the dam visitor center?

Even the nice lady working at the visitor center scanned Gavin’s ticket and said, “Enjoy your dam day.”

We saw some pretty awesome stuff, had a great time together, and enjoyed a wonderful day. When all is said and done I’d be surprised if we don’t all remember it as a pretty fine dam day! 😁


Day 1,065 – Thankful for the Benefits of Travel, Finding My Truest Self

Long ago I got advice from a respected business leader on what types of books they read. While I was expecting it to be a steady diet of business strategy books I was shocked to hear what their rotation actually looked like. They rotated between three types of books; business strategy, biographies, and fiction (preferably science fiction). Their reasoning was very straightforward. The strategy books keep them in touch with their business skills. Biographies give them real life examples of individuals living their values and add depth to strategy. The science fiction reminded them to have a sense of wonder and imagination while also helping share abstract ideas that round out old ideas and inspire new strategies.

While I don’t follow this methodology to a tee it does help alleviate the guilt I sometimes feel when enjoying a fiction. What’s also so very astonishing to me is how many lessons I’ve pulled from my most recent fiction, The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. Lessons in leadership, humility, action, values, chasing passion, learning from mistakes – all have hit me in the gut to the point where I sometimes had to pause and realize I was learning from a work fiction.

So Kreiling, isn’t the blog today about travel or something? What gives with the long explanation? How does this tie together?

Funny you should ask, I was just getting to that. 😉

One of the lines from the book hit me very unexpectedly between the eyes. As I considered it I ended up pausing the book just to focus on the thought.

No man is brave that has never walked a hundred miles. If you want to know the truth of who you are, walk until not a person knows your name. Travel is the great leveler, the great teacher, bitter as medicine, crueler mirror-glass. A long stretch of road will teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet introspection.

As I thought this over I held the concept in the hands of my mind, twisted it, turned it, prodded it, and manipulated it. This concept really has validity to it.

Sure, I love vacation as it is the opportunity to see beautiful and wonderful things. There’s a passion for the experience itself as my senses delight in something outside of the normal.

Beneath the surface there are parts of me that are also craving the escape. To travel is to get away from the normal routine, the normal schedule, the normal me.

When I travel I peel off layers of myself; specifically the roles and responsibilities that I hold myself to. What’s left when travel is not Business Mike, Professional Mike, and often not even Dad Mike or Husband Mike. There’s just Mike. This is most true when I travel alone.

In those moments of solitude it is very interesting. I am just me and I’m left with my thoughts and my actions. In moments of solo travel (& distance running; they’re oddly similar) I am left with my thoughts. Those moments have helped me learn so much about myself. I still think back to my solo time in Australia, Colorado, and my first couple of marathons. I was confronted with positive things and realizations of strengths while also facing weaknesses and disappointments. In almost each occasion I walked away from the experience with tangible lessons I could use to live into being a better Mike moving forward.

In those moments of travel with my identities stripped away I’m more clearly able to see the truest version of me. I’m able to get a better feel for where I’m at and what the gap is between who I am and who I should be. In travel I find ways to close that gap.

What a gift travel is for the soul in so many ways!


Day 1,064 – Thankful for “The Winner Song”

What weird family joke do you and you siblings share many years later? One that Nick and I share is one of the things I’m most thankful for today. Seemingly out of the blue he made my day and had me smiling for hours.

This afternoon I got a text from my little brother that had me literally LOL-ing:

“Winner song is playing on the OR”

Way back in 1985 when my parents were hauling Nick and I all over northern WI for wrestling tournaments we didn’t have a fancy cassette player in our car. We relied on old fashioned radio to get us through the drive time. When “The Walk of Life” by Dire Straits came on Nick immediately called it “The Winner Song.” As someone who lost so bad that I sometimes didn’t even get a participation ribbon I had no clue what “winning” felt like. Nick said that this song sounded like winning and I took his word for it. He always ended up with medal (usually gold) so I figured he knew what he was talking about.

Here we are almost 35 years later and we both remember the song and the nickname for it. How awesome to have a childhood memory and joke that still lives on so many years later?

For those of you who might not know the song you can check it out here: . Not gonna lie, now that I have an idea of what winning it is this song seems pretty close!


Day 1,063 – Thankful for Stoicism In Action; Smiling Through a Flat Tire & Missing Dominic On His Birthday

How true it is that sometimes we need to face adversity to see just how far we’ve grown.  We need to occasionally work through an unexpected challenge to see just how far we’ve come.  Today was a day that had a few of those challenges.  In one I noticed how calm I was and the other I didn’t notice until I started to type this blog.

On my drive home tonight there was a little surprise waiting for me once I hit I90.  My car beeped at me and my tire pressure light flashed on.  I was then able to watch my back right tire’s pressure slowly drop from 25 down to 5.  In that moment of time I took a deep breath, did a quick calculation of how far I could go, and then smiled as I realized I should have just enough to get to a rest area very nearby.  I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that I would be able to change it in a parking lot instead of on the interstate.  When I popped the trunk to fish out the spare I caught myself smiling at realizing that in almost 160,000 miles in this car I’ve never had to actually pull out the spare out of the trunk before.  The bar was a little different than I was used to, but I was so happy to see how it folded in order to make it easier when lifting the car and removing the lug nuts.  I was grinning when the bolts only took a couple of sharp kicks to loosen.  As I was placing the spare on the car I paused and chuckled to myself.  I wasn’t quite whistling while I worked, but I wasn’t far from it either!

As I was present in the moment fixing the car tire I hadn’t noticed how seamlessly I’d cycled through any emotion and transitioned right into, “it’s happened, there’s nothing I can do to fix it, might as well enjoy it” mode.  Instead of getting angry or frustrated I just rolled with it and looked to the bright side.  I am so thankful for the emotional energy I didn’t waste and for finding a way to let the challenge bring a little extra joy to my day.  Crazy, isn’t it?

When I started typing this I realized I was missing something.  Today is Dominic’s birthday and I realized that I am super thankful for him and should be blogging about that.  When I thought of how I’d write the blog I thought to all of the time we’d spent together in person today…  hmm….  There hasn’t been any!  Dominic was still asleep when I headed into work today.  By the time I got home he’d already been long since gone to soccer practice and was then off to band until 10-10:30ish.  With an early start to the work day today I’ll be in bed before he even gets home.  All day will pass and I won’t have seen him (although I’m thinking I may have to wake up and give him a hug when he gets home).  We talked on the phone earlier today.  We texted each other.  When I first realized this I was amazed at how I wasn’t feeling crushed or disappointed that I won’t be spending time with him.  My mind had actually gone in a different direction though.  The day is what it is, planned the way it is.  The nice thing is that we spend a ton of time together and interact on a very regular basis.  Sure, it’s a special day, but how many of my birthdays have been spent without my parents present?  When it was possible they were around, when they weren’t we always talk on the phone.  I love my parents to death and it’s not based on whether or not they are present on a specific day, it’s based on how present they’ve been in the entirety of my life.  While it would have been great to spend more time with Dominic on his birthday I’m just as thankful for being able to spend time with him on a random Tuesday afternoon.  I’m so thankful that my brain processed all of that on its own without me having to think through it all.  It wasn’t until I was about to write tonight that I even realized that I’d processed it that way.

Maybe this whole reading and studying about stoicism is causing it to finally sink in more completely.  I’ve got a very long ways to go, but I’m grateful for today’s reminders of seeing it in action.


Day 1,062 – Thankful for Learning Through Seemingly Unrelated Experiences

Over the past couple of days I had the opportunity to watch all four of Gavin’s soccer matches. In each there were opportunities for him to learn, grow and develop. As I pause and think I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to do the same through watching those games.

I am a creature of habit. This even extends into learning and acting. When left to my own devices I follow the schemas and paradigms I’m used to. An interesting thing I’ve observed is that sometimes my greatest learning comes when I not looking for it. In those moments when my brain is 100% present and focused on something seemingly unrelated I sometimes find a moment of clarity that ties back to other situations in life. This weekend I was able to pick out a handful of fantastic learning experiences that were definitely not intended.

As an example, during Gavin’s game today the opposing goalie had quite the foot on him. When he’d scoop up the ball and punt it there were a couple of times Gavin charged in only to have it bounce in front of him and go right over his head. When this was about to happen the second time I so badly wanted to holler to him “Back up!!!” Thanks to the parent coaching our club and coach has done I but my tongue and grimaced as the same thing happened a second time. Afterwards Coach asked Gavin a question, “where should you go next time he kicks it?” Gavin thought for a moment and motioned backwards. When Gavin was later subbed out I could see Coach walking through it with him again and Gavin was responding and nodding in agreement. When Gavin went back in I held my breath as the goalie punted the ball. Gavin paused for a half a second and then backed up to get in the right position. The next time there wasn’t even a pause before he dropped back.

I’m thinking about the experience I thought of my own tendencies both as a leader and a doer. When leading I am always so tempted to “fix” the situation right in the moment. How many times should I have paused and waited until the right time to coach? When should I ask the question to let my teammates learn more effectively instead of barking directions? When I’m doing something should I pause to ask myself a rhetorical question to help embed the lesson better?

So many ways to peel the onion and so many lessons to take away from one brief moment; especially a moment that is seemingly unrelated to leadership training.


Day 1,061 – Thankful for Teachers Who Go Way Above & Beyond, Kim Novak

We’ve been so blessed to have had so many excellent teachers for our boys.  Our experiences at Summit Elementary and Logan Middle have been truly outstanding.  The teachers have wonderful attitudes, help foster a growth mindset, and are so passionate about helping the students grow and develop.

This summer Gavin’s been working on some additional math classes online to help him prep for some crazy math this fall.  Once in a while I’ll happen to walk past Gavin as he’s taking the course online and I hear a very familiar voice.  His online classes are all recorded by our friend, Kim Novak.  

Kim has been recording all these classes in her spare time and has been busting her butt to get them all done.  I am so thankful for the time and energy she puts into creating these classes.  Based on everything we had scheduled this summer there is no way Gavin would’ve been able to attend enough in person summer classes to help him learn what he needs prior to the school year.  Thanks to her passion for helping students and willingness to put so much energy and effort into creating this content Gavin will be able to be one year ahead of where he would have been without her. 

As if that wasn’t reason enough to be grateful for her there are so many other ways in which she’s gone above and beyond the call of duty.  When we’ve run into technical issues she’s been there to help – seemingly at all hours and responding within minutes.  When Gavin needed to learn a valuable lesson about taking his time to practice the lessons prior to haphazardly taking the quiz she was right there with a great mix of a smile and sternness.  It was very clear that Gavin learned from that experience and has done much better since.  Throw in her flexibility and willingness to accommodate our crazy schedule.  We’re so thankful to have such a wonderful teacher taking awesome care of our boys and all of her students.

Thank you to all of the teachers the boys have had throughout their years of school, and a special huge kudos to Kim for going so far above and beyond what is expected.  Our boys are so fortunate to have teachers like you guiding them.  If (hopefully “when”) they find future successes later in life I’m positive they’ll look back fondly to their experiences with you just as I do with many of my past teachers ( )

To all of my friends and family who teach – thank you so much for giving so much to help our children grow and to help make the world a more beautiful place.  You are appreciated greatly!!!


Day 1,060 – Thankful for Getting Out of the Car

LOL! Yup, total going with a surface level gratitude today, but it’s one I’m truly thankful for. I’m finally out of the car for good today!

I headed up to the Eau Claire office today and had an appointment in Chippewa Falls. Once done with work for the day I hurried south back home. At home I packed, loaded up, and we were headed out to Sioux Falls. Even the welcome feeling of getting to our hotel was short lived as I realized I’d hurried so quickly that I’d completely forgotten to grab my contacts case. Gavin and I headed back to the car, drove to Walmart, and then drove back to our hotel.

As I lay here and relax I’m realizing just how much drive time I’ve had today. I’ve been awake for just over 18 hours and have spent approximately 8-9 of those hours in transit. Getting out of the car feels great!!!


Day 1,059 – Thankful for a Surreal Moment; Dominic’s First High School Soccer Game

Dominic was texting me earlier and that’s already something that I’m still getting used to. Talking with him almost eye to eye is still a little crazy. Seeing him in his full soccer kit for his first high school sporting event was totally surreal.

In an instant Dominic went from being a middle schooler to a high schooler right before my eyes. My mind is still reeling from the shock – I should probably wait to finish writing this to let it all sink in. Nah, part of what I’m thankful for is the crazy emotion!

So proud of the young man Dominic has become and so thankful for witnessing this awesome moment!


Day 1,058 – Thankful for Birthday Night Chaos

Memories of hanging out with friends for birthdays still make me chuckle and smile. Sometimes it was a party, sometimes it was just a couple of us. Always it was awesome!

With all the soccer and life going on in the Kreiling household it was pretty fortunate that the one single night without plans in a two week span fell on Gavin’s birthday. Seeing as we’ve got two birthdays to celebrate it worked out very well to have the Lyga boys head on over – two Lygas with on stone, isn’t that how the saying goes? 🤷🏼‍♂️😉

Sitting here listening to and interacting with the boys is cracking me up. So crazy to see all their personalities shine through. I’m also chuckling while hearing some of the same jokes and goofs we used to do back in the day while also learning some new ones.

I’m so thankful to be hanging out with them on their special night and for having the opportunity to re-live and revive old memories.