Day 1,158 – Thankful for Long Distance Flights

Sometimes it’s easy to look past some simple yet crazily complex things that lead to great memories and experiences. One of those came in the form of our flight.

As I was in between cat naps I paused for a moment and considered just how ridiculous the whole thing was. Think about it…

A machine weighing 127 tons loads up with almost 300 people and then flies almost 9,000 miles (over a third of the way around the Earth) in about 17 hours. Oh yeah, we also travelled so far across the globe chasing the sun that from sunset to the sunrise we saw this morning was about 18+ hours and we never really experienced Black Friday.

How ridiculous is that??? When I stop and think about it my mind is blown. I’m so thankful for a long distance flights – had it not been for that modern miracle it would’ve been almost impossible to get this pic of Becky and the boys.


Day 1,157 – Thankful for Thanksgiving Dinner at Dumpling Den

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

Nothing quite screams Thanksgiving dinner like a traditional meal of ramen, pot stickers, wontons, and egg rolls, right?

With dinner on the road today we opted for something a little out of the ordinary. As a kid I still remember pretzels at Epcot on Thanksgiving. When we were younger I remember watching fireworks in the horizon as we drove on the 4th of July. Last year we travelled on Christmas Day. There’ve been several vacations in that either started on or continued during a holiday.

I’m not committed to most standard traditions, things outside the norm usually end up being my favorite and sometimes become my own weird little tradition.

Just a hunch, but I’m thinking that the Thanksgiving dinner at Dumping Den is one we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.


Day 1,156 – Thankful for Sneakily Strenuous Yoga, a Delicious Pie from Grant, Mentally Prepping for Difficulty, and the Out of Office Feature

Yoga felt awesome tonight, but it was sneakily strenuous!  Beth did an awesome job of getting us thinking it’d be a little more chill before she quickly dialed up the intensity.  While I was initially most interested in the mentally chill piece of yoga today the strength work she put us through was exactly what the doctor ordered.  What a neat surprise!


To counter balance the healthy impact of yoga we finished up our pumpkin cheesecake from Grant.  For the second year in a row he created an incredibly tasty treat for our family.  That dude is one tremendous cook!  Thanks again for making our Thanksgiving a little extra special Grant!!!

I had some important stuff to take care of up in Eau Claire today.  As we all know the weather forecast from last night for today was pretty sketchy.  With that in mind I started prepping myself last night for a slow and snowy ride up north.  I fired up a great audiobook, had my coffee, and turned on the seat heater while taking my sweet time driving today.  Had I not paused to get my head in the right place I surely would’ve been frustrated when I got stuck behind slow moving traffic.  Thanks to the peace of mind I’d already created I was sure to stay a long ways back and didn’t get frustrated in the least.  I need to remember to do that more often when I’m prepping for something difficult.

On my way out of the office today I turned on the “Out of Office” feature in my email.  What a great way to mentally flip the switch to vacation mode.  I might even end up shutting down email on my phone while I’m out!  My blood pressure has already dipped knowing everyone will get that wonderful auto-reply for now.


Day 1,155 – Thankful for Stubbing My Toes On Vacation Memories

Yeah, I’m even questioning my blog title on this one. I’m going to stick with a writing lesson from Stephen King (not even close to a direct quote, but my best recollection of it)… when writing use the first phrasing that comes to mind. You could always change it to be better but the first version is usually the truest.  In my head I can see what I’m thankful for and stubbing my toe was the first thing that came to mind.

Imagine me walking in the dark of the night. Not too closely, no one needs that horribly scarring imagine in their head! Just minding my own business as I shamble into the kitchen for a glass of water.

Out of nowhere and completely unexpectedly a bolt of lighting explodes from the ground straight up my big toe! Bang!!! Only the practice of doing this in the past helps me swallow the screaming of expletives that are about to erupt just split seconds after the pain hits.  I take a deep breath, clench my fists, and hold still for a moment.  Whew…  the pain subsides and I walk towards the kitchen again for my water.  A few steps and BANG!!!  Found the other leg of the couch.  The process repeats…

How’s that for a strange comparison to something awesome that I’m thankful for?  Like I said, I’m just rolling with how I saw it in my head 😉

Today I was wandering through the day and BANG!!!  I drilled my toe on a seemingly random vacation memory.  After taking a moment to savor the memory I did my best to keep a straight face and get back to the task at hand.  Shortly afterwards BANG!!! I’d run smack dab into another vacation memory.  The process repeated over and over throughout the day.  Instead of extreme pain each stubbing on a toe was followed by an extreme amount of joy.


My thoughts today went to a Thanksgiving meal of pretzels in Germany at the Epcot Center as a kid.  There were several memories of New Zealand, specifically touring the Maori cultural center.  Remembrances of our trip to Australia were frequent as was time in Hawaii.  Memories of trips to Belize were also very clear and common.  Seemingly around every corner I stubbed my toe on a past vacation memory and each one was amazing!

It’s no secret, taking trips to experience and see new things is a passion of mine.  All of the times I stubbed my toes today reminded me of how thankful I am to focus on creating so many awesome memories in following my passion.


Day 1,154 – Thankful for a Lesson that Stuck and Intense Pre-Vacation Focus

When we remodeled our kitchen I clearly remember taking out the old cabinets with Dad.  They were pretty old school and fastened way more tightly than they needed to be. Had I realized it sooner we could’ve just hidden in the cabinets in case of a tornado!

I remember working myself into a lather twisting and pulling and wrenching and prying with my crowbar to remove them.  At times I swung it like a hammer and then proceeded to use a sledgehammer when the frame refused to move.  All the while I was sweating like a dog and out of breath…  and Dad just sat there and smiled while watching me, even chuckling sometimes.

After a while Dad stepped in and asked for the crowbar.  The specific piece wasn’t coming out and my temper was flaring.  I handed to him and smiled.  There was no way he was going to get it out.  He flashed me an even bigger smile and calm walked up to the cabinet.  He positioned his crowbar and gave it a little nudge.  He moved it about an inch and applied a slight amount of pressure.  Dad then looked at me, smiled, and, with almost no effort, popped the cabinet right out of place.  Then his smile got even bigger.

“Mikey, while you’re young and strong you think you can power your way through anything.  When you get older and your strength fades a little you have to learn to use your head more than your muscle.”

He then proceeded to share the lessons he’d learned from an old timer while working demolition in Milwaukee.  He’d shared with Dad the secret to being able to stay healthy and sane while doing demolition…  never waste a movement and work as little as you have to.  This didn’t mean sloughing off or anything.  If you pause for a moment to consider the best way to do something you can accomplish much more with less effort.  Apply the pressure in the right place and work is minimal.  Don’t think and just use brute force and you’ll wear yourself out in no time.

The lesson in a nutshell?  Think twice, act once, complete more.  Take time to think and work with your brain and you’ll save your physical strength to accomplish more.  I’ll never forget that lesson – thanks Dad!

Kreiling Christmas 2005 3

Today I’m also thankful for the implementation of that lesson.  As I prep for heading out on vacation soon time is definitely not my ally in one manner, but is the most motivating of companions in the other.  With less than a few days to work with I am working on creating space to accomplish about two weeks of work (both work work and personal work).  Time is not on my side, but the lack of time is helping me get into that hyper focus that seems to always precede vacation.

With limited time I don’t have the luxury of missing any of it.  This means I must think, plan, and act quickly on each task.  The more I pause to quickly plan the more I can quickly accomplish.  Just like in using the crowbar I have to think twice (quickly) and act once in order to get everything done.  Throughout the day I’ve thought of Dad with the crowbar and have been doing my best to see how I can save a little time by thinking through the right action so there’s no wasted thought.


Day 1,153 – Thankful for Sleeping In My Bed, Mary’s Willingness to Watch the Boys, and Long Drive with Talkative Boys

There is something so magically familiar and comfortable about sleeping in my own bed. I sleep just fine in all sorts of beds, chairs, futons, cots, hammocks, air mattresses, pads, and floors. Laying down on my own bed just feels like all is right in the world. The bed itself isn’t anything too crazy or anything, but it’s what I’m used to and it pretty much feels like home.

My mother in law, Mary, came down to take care of the boys while Becky and I were in Belize. I’m so grateful for her willingness to pretty much move into our house for the week and make sure the boys were all good. As I take time to think about it I’m even more thankful for her willingness to do this. It means a week away from the comforts of her home, a week away from her normal routine, and a week away from Ken. I’ve said it before, I’m thankful for winning the in law lottery. Thanks for helping us out this week Mary!

This afternoon I headed up to pick the boys up from hunting. On the way home we spent pretty much the entire three plus hours talking. Nothing too crazy or serious or anything, just shooting the bull. After a week away from the boys it was even more enjoyable to spend all that time in conversation with them. Thanks for making it an awesome and memorable ride home boys!


Day 1,152 – Thankful for Airport Adventures, Yoga On the Ocean at Sunrise, and a Thought Provoking Book

Tonight I’m really thankful you aren’t listening to me suck wind as I write this! Due to a slight delay our flight into Chicago was as bit late and we didn’t have much time to cover most of the airport to get to our next flight. The last of our group made it on with less than a couple of minutes to spare – thank goodness!

Even though my heart rate is elevated, I’m breathing hard, and, I’m seating heavily, much to the misfortune of those seated near me. Regardless, it’s another airport adventure to add to the memory banks. Just as we regularly bring up the time we missed our flight well now have the story of making it as well. Gotta love bear miss and barely win stories!

The past fifteen minutes were quite the contrast to how the day started. Becky and I woke up early and did yoga on the palapa over the ocean as the sun rose. Talk about breathtaking beauty! While Becky stayed very focused on her practice I stopped on several occasions and watched the sun, the ripples in the reflection of the clouds, the changing colors in the sky, the birds flying by, and even some fish jumping. Spending time doing yoga in that moment and being 100% present was incredibly refreshing.

Norm told me about a book I’d most likely be interested in and as luck would have it he had a copy there to read. The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston is a great read focused on the search for an ancient legend in Honduras. I was quickly hooked. There are stories of the jungle and the hazards they faced including snakes, insects, jaguars, and prehistoric diseases. Part of it was an interesting archeology lesson as they shared different theories on the hows and whys of the civilizations as well as the technology used to find the ancient city. Throw in some wildly interesting stories of politics, the history of the banana trade, drug runners, and ethics. But that’s not all, the end was focused on pandemics – the causes and impacts of.

As I read and soaked it in I was reminded of many of may favorite college classes. A wide variety of topics stretching my thoughts and beliefs while helping me look at the world through a slightly shifted viewpoint. There are many stories from this book that I’ll hold onto for quite some time.

Whew… time to get back to breathing and getting my heart rate back down. 😉


Day 1,151 – Thankful for My Friend and Business Partner, Justin

While my friend Justin has already left town and gotten home I couldn’t help but to be thankful for him today. We had a great time as a slightly smaller group without him and Alicia here today, but there were more than a couple of times that I realized I missed having him hang out with us.

I’m sure we all have the friend that Justin is, or at least I hope we do.

He’s the one with incredibly well timed one liners. At any given moment he’ll drop a quote from an old movie that only us “cool kids” will understand. If there’s a way to tie a conversation back to Seinfeld he’ll always beat me there by a second. Any conversation that Justin is involved in is guaranteed to lead to many smiles and laughs.

Justin’s also got a great business sense. He gets the difficult balance between running a business and doing right by everyone involved. There are many times I’ve learned from him in the way he handles things with his team and his clients. He’s a great person to ask for advice on running and growing an office. One of the reasons he’s a great one to talk with is his humility and humbleness.

While those previous aspects are both greatly appreciated there is one more reason that sticks out even more. He’s a good man. Period. True to his word always. This means I can trust him on anything. Justin cares about the success of everyone and finds ways to help everyone work together better. How could I ask for a better partner? Without a doubt if I ever need anything Justin is always there to help me and all of his partners, friends, and family out with anything.

Today was that wonderful reminder of appreciation through subtraction. We had a great time without him, but there many times when I knew that our time would’ve been even better with his presence. I’m so thankful for his friendship and partnership. I can’t even being to count the number of times he’s brought a smile to my face – through a joke, support, friendship, listening, or helpful advice.

Justin, I appreciate you greatly dude! Thank you so much for being a great friend and partner. I would be proud to be your latex salesman, importer/exporter, marine biologist, or architect anytime.


Day 1,150 – Thankful for Trying Something Completely Different and Alone Time with Becky

One things for certain, I’m a huge fan of yoga. There is nothing quite like in terms of helping me get a great workout, push myself, and find peace and calm. One hour long session and my mind is completely clear. Funny how 60 minutes of taking direction from someone pushing me to stretch my body in ways it doesn’t naturally want to go can help me take a deep breath and relax.

Today I had the opportunity to try something completely different, aerial yoga. Instead of what I’m used where my feet and hands are connected to the mat my appendages were suspended above the floor via a crazy piece of silk. Talk about crazy, it was like being a little kid playing on the playground.

I felt completely out of my element but in a very good way. From past lessons I listened to direction, trusted the teacher, just let go, and attempted to move into the poses the instructor was describing. I didn’t always make it work, but I had a great time trying. Nothing quite like trying something completely different to humble me and cause me to remember how the mind of a true learner really thinks like.

When we woke up Becky and I hit the kayak for a nice early morning paddle. After yoga together we headed out on bikes and got a great ride in. Lunch was just the two of us and we then had time together by the water. I may have been doing work during that time together, but it was just the two of us.

I love spending time with my Express family as well as with my boys. Today it was nice to have one of those beautiful albeit fleeting moments of time with just Becky and I. It seems like it doesn’t happen often outside of our early morning runs, I took full advantage of appreciating the time we had today. Nothing like spending a little time in paradise with Becky to warm my soul.


Day 1,149 – Thankful for Fellowship with Business Partners, Not Caring Who Sees Me Doing Yoga, a Subtle Reminder of Dad, and No WiFi

It’s been an incredibly full day. I’m in bed, typing, and ready to call it a night shortly after finishing today’s blog… maybe I’ll sneak in a chapter or two of the book I started today 😉 There’ve been many things to be thankful for today. Some include pretty deep thoughts and realizations but I think I’ll let those simmer and ferment for a day or two. Today there were four things that stuck out in their own unique ways.

First off, when Becky and I woke up we were going to head out to do some yoga on the deck over the ocean but there were a few people there already. As opposed to disturbing their quiet moment of watching the sun rise wee headed over by the pool to get our yoga on there. It’s pretty much right in the middle of the condo complex and the focal point of many of the units, but I could’ve cared less. Back in the day I would’ve been way to self conscious to do this but today it felt just fine. It was very liberating to not care who saw me doing yoga.

The overwhelming majority of the day was spent in fellowship with my business partners. So often when we meet there are specific business goals and activities we’re working to accomplish. Today there was none of that. Very little business was spoken, the majority of time was put into rekindling and improving our relationships together. That is something I’m very thankful for. Those moments are few and far between and I’m always excited to take advantage of them.

At dinner tonight I ordered a beer. For some unknown reason I did something that I haven’t done in a very long time. I dumped a little salt in my beer. It was an odd habit my dad used to have that I had picked up from him but somewhere down the line I’d stopped. It’s probably been a couple of years since I last did it. Tonight for some reason it felt right so I did. As soon as I was in the motion of it I smiled and thought of Dad. How cool to have a subtle reminder of him like that to make me smile? I’m pretty positive he was smiling too.

Last, barring some crazy Christmas miracle in the next few minutes, this blog won’t get posted on the day it was written. It is currently 9:20pm as I write it and our WiFi is out. I’ll finish writing it all tonight and post it tomorrow. Remember, I write a blog each day, sometimes I don’t get to post one each day. With all that out of the way I’ve got to say that it’s been incredibly liberating to not be on my phone or laptop for almost the entire day. Times like this remind me of how little I truly need to be connected that way. They also remind me of how much I appreciate being able to work from afar as much as I can thanks to wifi and modern technology. (LOL – just as I was about to close my iPad the wifi clicked on!)

Off to reading a chapter before bed to cap an awesome day.