Day 1,250 – Thankful for a Week of #Adulting

What a week it’s been! It’s not quite over yet, but we’re in the home stretch and I can see the finish line. Becky’s been on vacation since Saturday morning so it’s been the Kreiling boys alone at home this week. With Becky being out I’ve had to do adulting all week long. Whoever would’ve thought I’d be responsible enough to do that, right?

I’ve been been very thankful for all the adulting I’ve done over the last week for a variety of reasons.

It’s a reminder of just how much Becky does to keep our family moving each week. There are many things she does that I always notice and appreciate but sometimes I don’t quite grasp just how much time it all takes. For reals, how many loads of laundry actually get done in this house each week? ūüėČ

Times like this also make me more grateful for the teamwork in raising the boys. It’s difficult to find the energy to take care of everything over the course of a week. With a strong team of the two of us I have so much more energy and focus. I’m thankful for the way Becky and I work together so well to keep our lives headed in the right direction.

I’m also grateful for the opportunity to spend so much time with the boys. When it’s just the three of us we end up doing almost everything together. It’s only a few years until Dominic heads off to college so I’ll soak up every moment I can. Weeks like this don’t leave much of an option but to spend a lot of time together and I love it.

When Becky gets home tomorrow I’ll welcome her home with open arms and will hope she’s not leaving us for a long time. I’m excited to spend time with her and our complete family. Until she walks back in the house I’m going to enjoy every last moment of a week of adulting.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,249 – Thankful for Time with My Boys, Chair Lift Thoughts, and the Beauty of the Driftless Area

After school and work today the boys and I headed off to the ski hill. You know the phrase, “don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out”? That was totally us today; we were on a mission!

I had such a great time on the hill with the boys today. We had time together while skiing, chilling, and riding the chairlift. Being with them while they were having fun is always something I’m grateful for. Tonight we went skiing. Last night we played cards. The night before we hung out and watched our favorite show. Before then we hung and talked while we ate. I’m so thankful for all of this time with my boys.

When we first got going the boys and I were all going our own pace. Dominic moved on to a different hill for a while, Gavin was going down three times to each of my two. For a little while I was on my own. At one point I was chilling on the chair lift and there was no one within about 5 chairs in either direction. It was so peaceful to have the feeling of floating above everything , enjoying the silence, and soaking in the view. My mind was completely empty and relaxed. There was only peace and appreciation of that peace in the present.

The other thing I’m thankful for is the beautiful views of the driftless area. The bluffs, the river valley, the rock formations, and the slowly setting sun were breathtaking. Like I told the boys, I would totally go there at sunset any day. This area is so incredibly serene and I can’t imagine living anywhere else (besides a handful of other places for 90 days at a crack ÔŅľūüėČ)

Thanks!!!

Day 1,248 – Thankful for Incremental Growth and The Eisenhower Box

Today had a moment that caused me to pause and smile. Without getting into too much personal detail it was a moment in which I saw tangible progress. I often write about closing the gap between who i currently am and who I should be. Many times I find myself aware the opportunity to utilize something I’ve been working on and push myself to act correctly. In those moments it takes a conscious effort on my part to take the action. In this instance it wasn’t until AFTER I’d already taken the appropriate action that I realized I had done what I had been working on. I am so thankful for that moment of awareness to help me see that I’ve been making progress!

When I’ve got a lot on my plate I often think I have it all under control. After about a week of the pressure mounting there’s a tool I often go to for relief. About 15-30 minutes of quiet focused time with this tool and I can feel the stress melt away.

Check out: https://jamesclear.com/eisenhower-box for the how to

The Eisenhower Box (or Matrix) is an excellent tool to consolidate everything that’s on my plate at any given time. I cruise through my inbox, my stack of papers, my task list, and my note pad and jot down everything that’s been slowly adding up. For each item I pause and consider its urgency and importance. It’s then put in its appropriate box and then eventually prioritized.

After everything is out of my head I can feel the pressure already start to drop. When I then see my action items in Box 1 I’m almost excited to be off to the races! I’m so grateful for such a wonderful tool. Please check out this website for more info from one of my favorite authors: https://jamesclear.com/eisenhower-box

Thanks!!!

Day 1,247 – Thankful for Awareness, Preparation, Focus, and Presence

There was a point in my day when I thought I was about to go bonkers.  My brain had approximately three thousand thoughts and tasks going through it all at once.  It almost felt like the world was spinning out of control and out of my grasp in every direction.  There was a numbness starting to flow out of my brain and then I realized that in about five minutes I had to be 100% focused and locked in on the task at hand.  In that instant my heart sunk even more.

45OurJIhJj3l

Out of nowhere a giggle bubbled up. ¬†By the time it lifted from my gut and came out my mouth it was a full blown laugh. ¬†I couldn’t help myself but laugh and say out loud to myself, “you dumbass!” ¬†It was like I was Red Forman and Eric Forman all rolled into one. ¬†In that instant the fog of the chaos of stuff in my brain started to lift. ¬†I was suddenly aware of what was happening; of where I’d made mistake. ¬†I wasn’t present.

Once I realized my mistake of getting so caught up in everything I paused and smiled wide. ¬†I’ve prepped for this. ¬†I’ve done much to help myself out in these exact situations. ¬†There’s so much I’ve read, so much I’ve done, and so much practice I’ve had in taking a breath and focusing on being present. ¬†All of that preparation helped me take the next step in confidence.

I paused and went to a simple way to focus. ¬†Three long deep breaths. ¬†Saying out loud to myself, “I am right here. ¬†I am right now. ¬†I am in the present. ¬†Focus”. ¬†Before I even started the second sentence I could feel the shift. ¬†All the “stuff” in my brain quieted… except for what I needed to be focused on in that moment. ¬†All the other garbage, worries, ideas, thoughts, and other “stuff” could wait for another time. ¬†I was focused.

With that focus I felt 100% present in the moment.  There was no stress or worry.  I knew what I needed to do and was confident in my ability to do it.  It felt amazing to be in the zone and the flow in the moment.

So today I am truly thankful for awareness, preparation, focus, and presence.  It would have been so easy for me to work myself into a mess and screw up a wonderful opportunity.  Instead I not only took full advantage (and then some!) of the opportunity, but I also remembered that I am 100% responsible for my ability to be present.  Regardless of what is going on around or within me at any given moment I have the ability and power within myself to calm my mind, focus, and be present in the moment.  What a wonderful reminder that was today.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,246 – Thankful for the Driver Tailgating In Front of Me (For Reals!)

When’s the last time someone was tailgating you as you drove? How close were they? Did they do the constant swerving to see if they could get around you only to angrily swerve back behind you and inch closer to your back bumper? How annoying, right? Who are these awful and horrible people who obviously didn’t have parents who loved them? How do these people even have a license?

Sadly, I know who those people are. I’ve been one. There’ve been more times than I care to mention when I’ve been “that guy.” Fortunately I’ve focused on not driving like that and am continuing to keep my Australian driver mindset of relaxing and getting there when I get there.

This morning as I headed up to Eau Claire I had a unique experience. I slowly caught up to an SUV that was obviously in a hurry but was stuck behind a semi truck. At first I paid no attention and hung a ways back. I quickly realized that there was something a little off. The car was about 15 feet behind the semi truck.

Over the next ten minutes or so I watched the tailgating dance continue. The driver of the car would slide into the other lane sharply, see the oncoming traffic and jerk the wheel to get back in behind the truck. They (I almost wrote the gender of the driver, but it doesn’t matter in the least – we’re all equally horrible drivers ūüėČ) would then shrink the distance between their bumper and the back of the trailer to less than 10 feet.

As this continued I noticed something else. The truck driver went from going 55 to 45. I’ll never be certain, but I’m pretty sure that the trucker was getting frustrated at the person behind them and decided to teach them a little lesson.

As one could imagine this just further escalated the tension. The SUV driver was now bouncing in and out of their lane even more. It was ridiculous! At one point they finally found just enough room to get by and they were off.

I chilled and drove and thought. So many lessons in that brief quarter of an hour. Over the next 20 minutes or so I continued to unpack those thoughts and lessons. Here’s what I realized:

  • When I drive like the SUV driver I’m a complete jerk. It was easy to see emotion get the best of the driver and create several unsafe moments. Staying relaxed helped me stay aware of keeping a safe distance (even a little more than the two seconds in case the SUV had an issue).
  • Because the SUV driver was so close to the trailer they couldn’t see what lie ahead. There were a couple of times they had to jerk the wheel back so they didn’t get hit. From my safe distance behind them I was able to see clearly.
  • The truck driver was most likely letting their emotion get the best of them as they slowed down. By “teaching them a lesson” they lowered themselves to the already low standards of the driver. By letting emotion take over they both fell to the lowest common denominator and continued to spiral downward.
  • When I got to the first stoplight in Eau Claire guess who I ran into? Yup, the SUV. They must’ve hit the light just wrong. Even though they thought they were saving time by risking life and limb they took just as much time as I did by going slow.
  • How powerful are the stories I make up in my own mind? The story I created involved an insanely aggressive driver who’s angry at the world and feels they are entitled to going faster than others. The trucker was a petty and bitter person who’s always felt slighted and relishes the opportunity to put others in their place. Who foolish is that? It could have just as easily been a parent speeding to the hospital to kiss their dying child one last time. Maybe the trucker was someone who’d had bad luck the previous year and needed to avoid a ticket or accident to save their job? Maybe they were actually slowing down to let the person pass but it didn’t quite work out with oncoming traffic? In any of those situations my brain goes to a completely different place. I should remember to not write the story of those I don’t know. I should also initially assume the best in others.

Isn’t it interesting how one can learn so many lessons from one interaction? I can guarantee that many of these thoughts will be going through my head when I catch up to a slow driver or have a vehicle tight on my tail. Take a deep breath. Remember to be safe. Assume the best of others. Don’t write a negative story. Stay calm. Slow down and enjoy the ride. Drive like an Australian.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,245 – Thankful for an Impromptu Leadership Training and Team Appreciation

What a day it’s been! Nonstop since this morning and there’s still stuff to get done this evening. With that in mind I’ve been so thankful for today as I’ve been smiling all day long.

This morning I met up with Becky’s PhD advisor, Martin, for coffee before work. He was in town and I always appreciate the opportunity to meet with him. While we talked today the conversation drifted towards leadership. While we traded stories of leadership lessons learned I had a lightbulb moment. In the span of several minutes I had a realization of something that all of my best mentors have done. Long story short, they pushed me to the edge of what I dreamt possible while making sure I knew they loved me too much to allow me to fail. More on that realization down the road once I have it fleshed out a bit more cleanly.

Some of my best learning seems to come when I’m not necessarily looking for it. Also, it often seems to happen when I’m talking with someone outside of my normal sphere of business. Now that I mention it I realize there’s much learning like that when I’m on vacation as well. Hmm… regardless, I’m so thankful for an impromptu leadership lesson mixed into a conversation with a friend.

Mike, the manager of our Winona office had a wonderful idea for our team meeting today. We each went around the room and shared why we are thankful for each of our team members. What an awesome experience in so many ways! The opportunity to share our gratitude for each other while receiving it as well was an incredible way to keep growing our team. Needless to say there must’ve been a ninja hiding in the room cutting onions more than a couple of times.

Time to start wrapping up the night and prepping for tomorrow. If today is to be my last I’ll go with a smile knowing I was leaving on a high note.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,244 – Thankful for Time with My Boys, a Deep Dive Into a Short Chapter, and Safe Travels

Let’s go in reverse tonight! ¬†Once in a while we’ve got to live a little and do things a little differently, right?

First off, I am so thankful for safe travels. ¬†Between all of my Express cohorts, myself, Becky, her family, and the boys we’ve been so blessed to have had travelled without issue. ¬†Sure, there may have been some bumps in the road here and there, but we’re all safe. ¬†It is something that I often take for granted, but today I caught myself thinking just how fortunate we’ve been with all our recent travel.

I know, you’re probably starting to get sick of me talking about Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. ¬†Much of my second flight was spent on re-reading the same chapter of Meditations several times (most of my first flight was spend examining my eye lids for cracks). ¬†I even fired up the audio version to close my eyes and listen to in order to get things at a slightly differently level than when reading the paperback. ¬†Even tonight I’ve gone back through that one chapter a couple of more times and have been jotting down notes to myself.

The entire chapter is Marcus taking time to say why he is thankful for many of the most influential people in his life. ¬†As I’ve gone through it I’ve noticed a pattern of themes that appear over and over again. ¬†In finding those commons themes of the seven values he seems to be grateful for most often I’m seeing a roadmap to how to shorten the gap between who I currently am and who I should grow into.

The themes I’m seeing repeated over and over are:

  1. Gratitude – The entire chapter is essentially an exercise of thankfulness.
  2. Simplicity – Marcus often points out how so many of those around him could have lived lavishly but instead chose a path of simplicity
  3. Logic РThis is repeated over and over throughout.  The ability to pause, think, and focus on the correct answer as opposed to emotion was critical.
  4. Love – While much of the chapter is almost “anti-emotion” there is a strong sense of loving thy neighbor that keeps coming through in many different ways.
  5. Learning – He was continually focused on those who asked questions, surrounded themselves with others who were more intelligent, and had a passion for learning.
  6. Work – It is very clear that Aurelius valued hard work and those who never shirked their responsibilities when the path got too difficult.
  7. Optimism – How interesting that one of my favorite quotes from the Dalai Lama would have sounded natural being penned by Marcus; “What can I learn from this?”

In spending so much time reading and re-reading it I am catching more than I normally would. ¬†How funny that it was brought about by a quote from the book… ¬†“To read attentively – not to be satisfied with ‘just getting the gist of it.'”

IMG_6556.jpg

Last, but certainly not least, I am thankful for time with my boys. ¬†Even though we weren’t apart for very long it felt like we had a ton to catch up on. ¬†They must’ve felt the same way as they were totally in on everything from going to get the dogs with me to walking the dogs with me to spending more time talking than watching during our show tonight (Alone). ¬†We spent more time in attentive dialogue with each other than normal. ¬†Funny how sometimes the absence of those most important in our lives reminds us to appreciate those times we have with them even more. ¬†So similar to what I wrote about on Friday in a very different yet oddly similar way.

Being home with them and spending time with them was exactly what my soul needed today. ¬†I am so grateful for each moment we get together… and we have much more of it planned for the week ahead.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,243 – Thankful for Four Simultaneous Adventures, Getting Reacquainted with Country Music, and Remembering/Rethinking the Why

For most of the day all four members of our family were each on their own adventure. As luck would have it we were all heading in different directions and each had our own adventure planned for the day. Gavin had a sleepover and a basketball tournament, Dominic had a Scout camp out, Becky was flying to Hawaii, and I was in Nashville. Each of us headed in our own directions and having our own adventures.

I absolutely love the time with my family when we are all together. I also appreciate times like this when each of us is independent enough to each go off on our own. Knowing each of us can go our own way without hesitation and knowing each of us is happy for the others’ experiences is awesome.

With that in mind, I am also thankful for the time we all are together again late next Sunday.

After our experience at the Grand Ole Opry I’ve had a couple of songs stuck in my head… all of which were played by Dustin Lynch. While getting a sweat on today in the gym I was listening to many of those songs as well as many of his others. From there I drifted into other country music I used to like back in the day. It felt good to take some time to enjoy country music again. It’s not usually my jam, but it felt good to spend some time getting reacquainted today.

This last one isn’t necessarily going to be a complete thought. Throughout the day and past few days there’s been a recurring theme focused on the “why” of what I do for a living. It’s been great to have some time thinking about why I do what I do. What is it that is truly important to me? How do I make the most significant impact in that direction? Why do I do what I do?

It’s an interesting thought process. Pausing to think about why. There are so many ways to make a living and so many reasons to live the way I do. As opposed to just defaulting to the direction that life has pulled me towards what if I looked deeper into the why. Would I do things differently? Would I do more or less in the same of other directions? The why really set the tone and I need to pay more attention to it. As one of our speakers said, “If your premise is wrong every decision afterwards will also be wrong.” Taking time to think about why is a healthy way to confirm that we’re headed in the right direction or to signal it’s time for a change. Today I’m thankful for that thought process.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,242 – Thankful for Unexpected Spiritual Learning

When I came to training this week I was firmly focused on very tactical and technical learning. I usually come to events like this with the mindset of strategic learning. Instead this has been a well of spiritual learning (and healing).

Funny how I go into something thinking I know exactly what I need. My mind is already made up of knowing that I will hear exactly what I expect. In some ways I am wasting my time in this mindset. If I already know what I am going to learn I can just skip it, right? My head was already pulling in this direction before I came to Nashville. Imagine my surprise as I’ve really noticed more focus on spiritual learning (and healing) over the past few days.

There’d already been a small handful of moments in which I’d had lessons along those lines, but today I was hit head on. This morning was our prayer breakfast. Yes, our organization has a beautiful prayer breakfast which is truly 100% and it’s something that I’ve grown to appreciate more and more each year.

Our speaker this morning was Annie F. Downs, an author, podcaster, and speaker who pretty much blew my mind. She shared a couple of stories that really helped me see the world just a little differently, but both in deeply profound ways. Annie walked us through a personal event and tied it back to a story form the Bible that I don’t really remember hearing; the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

I’ll share my own super condensed version of the story to give you context and then get to the good stuff… the specific lessons that hit me so hard today in a wonderful way.

Three young men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow to the idol of a false god that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, commanded all to do. Their faith in God told them they were only to bow to their God. Nebuchadnezzar was obviously very angry and ordered them to be thrown into the fire, specifically the furnace that was so hot that it was used to cast the idol. He chides the three young men and asks them who their god is who will deliver them from his fire. They respond that their God will save them, but even if he doesn’t they are still only serving their God, not his false god. As the guards push them towards the fire the guards die from the fire and the heat. Nebuchadnezzar looks into the furnace to watch their death and sees that their shackles have been burned away. He also sees them completely unscathed by the fire. He also sees a fourth person walking with them in the fire. All three came out of the fire unharmed and unbound. Like I said, this is the super short version, check out Daniel 3 in the Bible of your choice for the full story.

There were several points that Annie made that hit me right in the heart in positive ways.

First off, they didn’t know how the story would end. We have the benefit of being able to read the story and see the way it ends, but they did not. In each of our lives we never have the opportunity to see the end until after it’s come. We can only look backwards to connect the dot, not forwards. We have to trust that we are in a specific situation for a reason and it is our duty to help find the reason.

Next, only the shackles were burned off in the fire. Sometimes we have incredibly difficult challenges and struggles in our lives to face. In those times we must remember that sometimes we need those to burn away what may be holding us back. The struggle or fire may hurt, but it’s in order to help heal us. This is tough because we don’t like pain, but sometimes it has to happen to help us be healed. Think of it as a spiritual band aid being ripped off. Through the pain our healing begins.

Finally, and this line is continuing to haunt my thoughts, “but even if He doesn’t…” Things aren’t always going to turn out as we’d hoped. It doesn’t mean The Big Dude Upstairs doesn’t care about us or or wish us ill will, it’s just that we don’t always have the full vision of the how and why of our life. He gets the big picture because The Big Dude Upstairs is The Big Picture (btw – I can’t help but giggle seeing that the auto type feature of my iPad now follows up the words ‘The Big” with “Dude Upstairs”). Even if God doesn’t do exactly what we’d hoped it doesn’t mean that we should act differently. We should always focus on doing, acting, and loving the way He wants us to, regardless of it may put us in His favor. I need to remember to do the right thing even if He isn’t going to make things better / easier / healed. My faith must grow stronger than asking for a bargain or proof. I know, it’s not all the way fleshed out but that’s one of the reasons I blog… it helps me work stuff out.

After Annie’s presentation and a wonderful rest of the prayer breakfast my heart and brain were both full. My head has been spinning ever since as I think through that story and see so many new facets of it and apply it to so many different aspects of my life.

Another interesting thing along those lines have been several somewhat serendipitous conversations that have also helped me focus on why I do what I do. Not just work, but the way I act in general. How and why do I maintain my optimism and positivity? How much has a mindset of gratitude improved my life? How have I turned my mess (lack of gratitude) into my message?

While I was anticipating technical answers to practical challenges my soul has been filled and renewed with a much more important type of learning, spiritual learning.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,241 – Thankful for Hiking and Running In New Zealand This Morning

Sadly, I was not ACTUALLY hiking and running in New Zealand. Fortunately I had the next best things; a treadmill showing videos of hiking in New Zealand and memories of being on those trails in real life.

I definitely prefer running outdoors to being on the “dreadmill” but sometimes it’s just easier. This morning was one of those times. When I got on the treadmill there was an option of watching a hiking trails. Seeing tours of both the north and south islands of New Zealand had me grinning from ear to ear. Without a second thought I fired up the North Island and I was off!

It was pretty wild to be hiring along the same trail I’d hiked before to get to Cathedral Cove. I remembered many of the twists and turns and we hiked as a family. While I watched the screen show more and more locations I’d been to I would occasionally space out and get lost in my memories.

What a wonderful start to the day. Exercise always feels great, but to do it while being mentally transported back in time a couple of years was amazing. My time in New Zealand was amongst one of my favorite family vacations ever (for numerous reasons) and to be reminded of that experience was priceless. After we retire we plan on spending our first winter living in New Zealand and I think of it as one of my “homes.” The others include The Big Island of Hawaii and La Crosse. This morning I got to spend some time at home while I exercised – perfect!

Thanks!!!