Day 1,180 – Thankful for Keeping My Australian Cool During a Project and Laughing Loudly with Friends

I’ve been continuing to work on keeping my Australian cool for just over a week now.  While it’s been far from perfect today showed me that I’m making progress.


While working on a project (picture above isn’t it, just the most recent pic of a started project I can show) this afternoon I ran into three very different challenges I wasn’t expecting.  I’ve been trying some different types of work I haven’t done before and, as one could imagine, I’ve run into roadblocks I haven’t run into in the past.

Depending on my mindset these challenges can often lead to extreme frustration.  It’s not out of the realm of possibility that I get so frustrated I have to set the piece aside for a little while and go do something completely unrelated.  Today I thought of how relaxed I was on the beach in Byron Bay and then went to work on the challenge.  I took a deep breath, took time to be thankful for the opportunity to learn something new, and then attempted solutions I’ve never used in the past.  Everything worked out even better than expected!

This evening we hung out with our friends Adam and Kelsey.  Isn’t it great to have friends who keep you laughing loudly?  I can’t even being to count how many times I laughed loud and hard at a comment or joke.  My core is a little tired from the laughs.  Thanks for a great night, it was awesome!


Day 1,179 – Thankful for Family Nerd Time

The family that nerds together stays together, right?

Spoiler alert: this blog contains no spoilers. As I’d love to share some of my favorite moments from the movie I’ll hold back. Except for one thing… some stormtroopers die. 😉

For reals, I’ve had this date penciled in my calendar for about a month. Not because of the movie, but because it is a family event. All of us are Star Wars nerds (you know we have a dog named Skywalker, right?) and this is an opportunity for us to hang out together doing something that stretches generations.

While I might not clearly remember watching A New Hope or Empire Strikes back I sure as heck remember my Star Wars wallpaper from when I was three and going to watch Return of the Jedi in a theater with my Aunt Diane. I even remember the collector glasses from McDonalds that I probably should’ve taken better care of after Return of the Jedi.

To share this moment with the entire family was pretty awesome. I’m thankful for moments like this when we can all come together and bond in our shared nerd-ness. 😁


Day 1,178 – Thankful for an Entertaining and Enlightening Sortabiography and Always Look at the Bright Side of Life

What’s the song you listen to when you need a smile? Which song are you happy to have stuck on replay in your head?

I’m in the autobiography cycle of my reading queue (business/non-fiction, autobiography/biography, fiction) and I stumbled into a great one! Before our flight left Sydney I took a quick run through the book store and took pics of all the books that looked interesting. One that caught my eye immediately was Always Look On the Bright Side of Life (A Sortabiography) by Eric Idle. I was even more excited to find the book was read by the author on Audible.

As a Monty Python fan it seemed like a great option. What also interested me was how little I knew of him and the mix of his age and nationality. Having been a small child in England in WWII added an interesting bit of history that’s fascinated me. Several books I’ve read recently have referenced WWII and I was curious to see how that impacted his life.

The book itself was amazing! I had no idea all that he’d accomplished. What also stood out was an excellent mix of self deprecating humor and wonderful life lessons. The entire way through I was often laughing, almost always smiling, and usually learning.

Another thing I appreciated greatly was how it reminded me of the song Always Look On the Bright Side of Life from Life of Brian and Spamalot. A quick listen to that song and I can help but shrug off seemingly any amount of stress. Try it – play this link whenever you’re in the dumps . You’ll be whistling along in no time!

Cheer up, Brian. You know what they say.
Some things in life are bad,
They can really make you mad.
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle,
Don’t grumble, give a whistle!
And this’ll help things turn out for the best 


Always look on the bright side of life!
Always look on the bright side of life 

If life seems jolly rotten,
There’s something you’ve forgotten!
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing,
When you’re feeling in the dumps,
Don’t be silly chumps,
Just purse your lips and whistle — that’s the thing!
And always look on the bright side of life 
Come on!

Always look on the bright side of life 

For life is quite absurd,
And death’s the final word.
You must always face the curtain with a bow!
Forget about your sin — give the audience a grin,
Enjoy it, it’s the last chance anyhow!

So always look on the bright side of death!
Just before you draw your terminal breath.

Life’s a piece of shit,
When you look at it.
Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true,
You’ll see it’s all a show,
Keep ’em laughing as you go.
Just remember that the last laugh is on you!

And always look on the bright side of life 

Always look on the bright side of life

Come on guys, cheer up

Always look on the bright side of life 

Always look on the bright side of life 

Worse things happen at sea you know

Always look on the bright side of life 

I mean, what have you got to lose?
you know, you come from nothing
you’re going back to nothing
what have you lost? Nothing!

Always look on the bright side of life


Day 1,177 – Thankful for Sunrises on Super Cold Mornings

What do you appreciate the most about extremely cold days? Is it something you notice or see more clearly when it’s an arctic wonderland? What are you reminded to be thankful for in weather like this?

While heading up to Eau Claire this morning I was fortunate to catch this amazingly beautiful sunrise. I’d been enjoying the view for a while and once I saw the steam rising from the creek I knew it was time to pull over for a moment.

The air was so cold that everything seemed to be a little more clear. The landscapes were more crisp than normal. I don’t know if it’s just me being weird or if it has to do with the cold, but I swear everything looks a little more vibrant on cold days like this.

I’m also incredibly grateful for a working car heater – that would’ve been a long and chilly ride without one!

To be honest, I’m much more of a warmer weather person. That said, there’s still some awesomeness to be found in the cold. This morning I was reminded that even the extreme cold can warm the soul when I choose the right attitude.


Day 1,176 – Thankful for Remembering to Choose Which Lens to Look Through

What are the tricks you use to help you remember to choose the right attitude?  When something doesn’t go as planned how do you help yourself pause in the moment and find the right response?

Last night I’d fallen asleep and was headed towards my first full night of excellent sleep since returning from our trip.  Previous nights had resulted with me waking up part way through the night for extended periods of time, but last night was going to be different…

Screen Shot 2019-12-17 at 9.01.55 PM

Then at 1:04am my cellphone went off.  I tried to ignore it, but then the house phone rang.  I got out of bed, checked them both and saw it was the alarm company for our office building in Winona.  A quick call back to the security company alerted me to a very concerning issue – the temperature in our office had dropped significantly and we were facing potential issues like frozen pipes and unhappy tenants.  It was apparent that I was going to have to get dressed, put gas in the car, drive 30-ish minutes to Winona, figure out and fix the issue, drive back home, and then attempt to catch a couple of hours of sleep.  As I hung up the phone I was faced with looking at the situation through one of two lenses.

This one:  You’ve got to be kidding me!!!  ARGH!!  This sucks, I was just about to sleep.  Now I’ll never fall back asleep.  This was the worst idea ever.  Why did I answer the phone?  They would’ve called someone else and they could’ve dealt with it.  Why tonight?  Why not one of the nights I couldn’t sleep?  ARGH!!!

Or this one:  That’s kind of a bummer.  Oh well, I guess it’s time for me to earn some of the money we’ve made on this.  No biggie, I’ll figure this out and go back to sleep.  Even if I don’t sleep as well tonight I’m sure I’ll sleep better after yoga tomorrow night.  I’m sure glad that I got u and called back before they called anyone else.  The team’s got a lot going on and they could probably use a good night of sleep.  How could I make this more enjoyable?  Yup, totally going to eat some chocolate and listen to some podcasts while I sleep.  No big deal, this is part of the life I’ve chosen to live.  I’m thankful for all of the past nights of sleep I had before vacation was over, I’ve got some extra zzz’s in the tank.

So I’ll make this admission, I didn’t choose perfectly or stay looking through the correct lens the entire time.  When I caught myself sighing or getting frustrated I forced myself to laugh and then went back to the right mindset.  You know what?  It actually wasn’t that bad or the end of the world.  No biggie.  In a weird way I actually felt a sense of pride when I got home about keeping most of my focus through the correct lens.

There’s always a choice on which lens to look through.  I’m a long ways from perfect in choosing it, but times like this help me see that I’m slowly but surely making progress.  I’m also thankful for moments like this as they allow me an opportunity to practice and improve.

Off to bed for this guy.  Maybe tonight’s the first full night of sleep?  No worries either way, life is awesome!


Day 1,175 – Thankful for Catching Up with Mom, Dinner at Home, and Reminiscing with Becky

Who’s a family member you love catching up with and why? What are some of the “usual” dinners you have that make you feel even more at home? What are some of your favorite wedding memories? I hope those questions bring some awesome thoughts and memories to mind for you!

No matter how old I may get I still enjoy talking with Mom. While in Australia I didn’t talk with her much. Tonight it was great to have extended time shooting the bull with her and to catch up on some of what’s been going on over the past few weeks. Just a hunch, I bet we’ll talk more later this week as we haven’t gotten around to talking about recent work life yet.

Sometimes I still feel like a big kid when I talk with her, bragging things up, telling stories, getting caught up what’s going on with family. It’s the same types of conversations we’ve had for many years. I’m always thankful for my mom, tonight I’m extra grateful for having the opportunity to catch up with her.

Ahh… dinner at home. Nothing crazy, one of our staples; venison and pasta. I’m thankful for taking the time to have dinner as a family at home. Vacation dinners were fantastic as well, but supper at home is special in its own unique way.

After putting the boys to bed Becky and I somehow got on the topic of past weddings from way back in the day. I still can’t believe just how many weddings we went to in our first handful of years together! It seems like almost every other weekend we were heading off to another one. Funny how even though it’s at least a decade and a half in the rear view there are still so many vivid and clear memories. Spending time reliving them was a great way to wind down.


Day 1,174 – Thankful for Productive Insomnia and Much Needed Workshop Time

Ever have tough times sleeping? What tricks do you use to bring on sleep? What if those don’t work, what’s your Plan B?

Last night I struggled to fall asleep. I was exhausted but my brain was still thinking it was 4pm at 11pm. After tossing and turning I fell asleep only to be woken up shortly thereafter. The last time I saw the clock it was 2:45am.

While it didn’t quite fit the plan I initially had I decided to learn from past lessons and lean into it. I had a couple of project ideas to create in my workshop but I wanted to see what other inspiration I could find (I figured going out to my workshop at midnight to fire up tools was t the most sensible option 😉). Lo and behold I found several projects! I might even have found a couple of things to add to the puzzle box making.

Sleep would have been awesome and greatly appreciated but it wasn’t the way things worked out. I’m glad I decided to roll with it and was able to turn it into productive time.

This afternoon I was able to head up to my workshop and start creating. With being gone I’ve been itching to work on a couple of projects. In some of my thought time over the past few weeks I’ve really noticed how much enjoyment I get out of making something. Between revisiting my dream book and seeing things related to creating, reading an excellent book focused on woodworking, and realizing how long it’s been since I’ve had more than one simple project I head an itch that needed to be scratched.

Spending a handful of hours up there was amazing! Everything went way more smooth than it had any right to. I even got more accomplished than expected!

Even though it involves work, stress, and deep thought I’m so grateful for the time I get up in my shop. Building and creating really helps to energize me.

No worries about sleeping tonight, I’m off to bed! If I can’t sleep at least I know I’ll make the most of it.


Day 1,173 – Thankful for Lifelong Memories and Mission Accomplished

How do you determine if it was a successful vacation? Are there mental criteria you use or could it be summed up by the picture of Gavin below?

Mission accomplished!

We’re just about home; only a short hop from Chicago to Rochester and then a short drive home.

Talk about a successful trip. We’ve been going through some of the experiences we’ve had over the past couple of weeks. It’s wild but it seems as if we were gone for more than a month. We packed a tremendous number of lifelong memories into a short period of time and yet feel totally relaxed.

When I think about travel I usually am looking to do the following:

    Create lifelong memories with family and friends
    Experience new things, see new sites
    Create space outside “real life” to breathe and dream
    Take time to enjoy stillness
    Appreciate home a little more than I did before I left
    Fill my soul with joy

New memories with family and friends? Check! So many new memories that we’ve chuckled often and said, “I almost forgot that happened on THIS vacation.”

Experience new things and see new sites? Uh huh! Dolphins, turtles, sharks, kangaroos, and platypuses oh my! Throw in different cultures and a PhD graduation and it was hugely successful.

Create space to breathe and dream? Roger that! Seeing Becky’s PhD journey culminate in graduation was amazing dream fuel. There’ve been many moments in which I was able to put thought into which dreams are most important to me and why. It was great to spend some time working on another dream of mine while I was away.

Time to enjoy stillness? You bet! This vacation had more extra unstructured time than we’re used to and it was a great way to spend time in thought. Driving on “the wrong side” is becoming so much easier and I was able to spend time in thought while driving the countryside.

Appreciate home a little more? Yessir! While I’m still waiting for Becky to say, “Let’s move to New Zealand (or Hawaii),” I’m thankful for what we have where we have. There is much to be thankful for at home. I’m even excited to see the dogs! By the way, our own bed is going to feel AMAZING tonight.

Soul filled with joy? You know it! My heart is about to burst. So many memories made, so much time with family, celebration of Becky’s success, time in thought, time with the boys; it’s been pretty much heaven! Oh yeah, the 80+ degree weather, extended sunshine and beautiful ocean views don’t hurt either. 😉

Back to reality on Monday. Bring it on reality, I’m ready to dive back in with about the biggest smile and a heart so full of joy it’s about to burst. Looking forward to Monday 😁


Day 1,172- Thankful for an Excellent Book Recommendation from Mike D – Everybody Always by Bob Goff

What’s a great book you’ve read that really got your mind turning? Which one had such an excellent message that you couldn’t help but start using what you learned immediately?

My friend Mike Dieter recommended both of Bob Goff’s books awhile back. I loved the first one and took it to heart (I’m pretty sure I even blogged about it, but due to being on a flight without wifi I am unable to confirm that). This second book, Everybody Always really caught my attention and has me thinking very deeply about many of the points. Being able to take my time to read the paper copy while removed from the hustle and bustle of daily life was exactly what my soul needed to take it in. Without question I’ll be reading it again in the not too distant future if, rather when, I start to feel the impact wear off a little.

The basic concept of the book is very straight forward. To live a joyful life and to live into our fullest potential we must love everyone. Period. That’s it. Love others.

While on the surface it’s very simple the part that hit home most for me was when I thought about friends and family. I already love them, but sometimes I don’t give them love when I should. Sometimes I get frustrated and angry. Sometimes I don’t treat them with the love they deserve. When I first thought of this group I felt pretty good about doing a decent job, but that was quickly followed by about a thousand different times when I should have acted differently. This book started to help me see more of that gap and how to overcome it.

When the book talked about strangers I felt pretty good about how I usually treat strangers. I give a smile, and sometimes make some small talk. Then as I thought about it I considered how many times I’ve averted my eyes, put my headphones in, or found some other distraction to help me avoid loving a stranger. I was humbled at how many times I have felt that pull to do or say something to help someone smile or to open up to be the person to listen that a stranger may need – but then I consciously ignored that urge and didn’t want to engage with the person. Bob’s stories helped me see so many ways I could be a better “lover of strangers” and how I could possibly help brighten the day for others. The other reminder for me was something one of our priests one shared and something I’ve experienced and received through another; the Holy Spirit works through people. Instead of ignoring those nudges I occasionally feel I should listen to them and really lean into them.

Towards the end the book helped me take a hard look at a spot that I know that I’ve got a huge gap to traverse… loving my enemies. Dang, this is a tough one! Bob shared an excellent example of how he was able to find a way to love someone who do some truly unspeakable things. The interesting thing was that he helped me feel much more human about how this can happen. While he showed great love he also explained (& I’m paraphrasing), “I really hope he’s not my roommate in heaven, but I’m sure we’ll talk”. I’ve filed many of these thoughts and stories and am considering ways to truly take action. This will be a tough one, but I know I can make progress.

On another note, this book also reminded me I should open up the Bible a little more often. In particular, I felt impelled to re-read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 through 7). One particular concept that really stuck out from this book was Matthew 5:14-16.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

This strikes home in two very different ways. First off, it is not right to hide my joy and shield myself from sharing it with others. When I ignore someone that is exactly what I’m doing, covering and hiding my light. On the other side of this thought when I ignore others or don’t take the time to listen to them instead of talking at them I’m putting a blanket over myself and avoiding the sight of their light. By listening and engaging I might be filled with their joy.

Funny how many wonderful nuggets about how to love and live there are tucked away in a few chapters of a book from a couple thousand years ago. I’m grateful that this book has reminded me to go back to it’s pages a little more often to find the help, inspiration, and guidance I could really use sometimes.

Whew, that’s a lot from one book! Mike, thank you so much for the recommendation dude, you knocked it out of the park again! Seeing how you really live so much of this book is one of the reasons I so appreciate your friendship. Thank you for helping me find ways to become a better me.


PS: Seeing as we never really had a Black Friday this year due to traveling across the International Date Line I figured I may as well write two blogs today. Also, due to the air travel the way it works out on the way back today will be a 41 hour day for us. If I only blogged once in almost 48 hours I’d probably get all twitchy! 😉

Day 1,171 – Thankful for Mental Bookends & Memories Between Them

When you think back to a slightly hazy memory and can’t quite remember when the event occurred what are the mental markers you use to pinpoint the approximate date of the event?

Sure, there are some easy and obvious ones like getting married and having kids, but we each have our own memories that help light our path. Which ones do you use? Why are you thankful for each of them? If you don’t have a few that pop into mind right away don’t fret; the next time you’re trying to remember when something happened one or two will come to mind.

I’m especially thankful for these memory markers today as we’re wrapping one big one up today. In years to come I’m sure I’ll pause and think, “was that before we went to Australia” or “was that before Becky became Dr. Kreiling?” These past couple of weeks mark the end of one chapter of life and the beginning of the next. They help establish a timeline better than a calendar ever could. For instance, I could never tell you what year we replaced the windows of our house, but I can tell you it was sometime after Dominic was born and before Gavin was born. Dates are only numbers; mental bookends are life itself.

What I’m thankful for today is a combination of two somewhat contrary things. The mental bookends are the events which mark the time as mentioned above. The other half of my gratitude tonight is for the opposite of the bookends, all the memories that lay between them.

Those memories between the bookends are the overwhelming majority of life. They are all the minor ups and downs that make up our daily life. They might not be the most memorable in of themselves, but the add all the depth to the others. They help the bookends become larger than life. They sometimes get their fleeting moments in the sun as well as our brain stumbles across them or has a light shown upon them.

It’s easy to see these past weeks as a bookend, whether it’s to start a new shelf or complete an old one really depends on context. Regardless it’s a marker made up of incredible memories which will perfectly frame so many awesome daily memories in life.