Day 1,310 – Thankful for An Unexpected Gratituder and a Shock to the System to See I’ve Been a Boiling Frog

I had a shadow in the office with me today!  While it was awesome having the company in the ride up to the office (it was just the two of us in the office, all good from a social distancing standpoint).  After he got his homework done he pooped out of his office and asked if he could record his first #EXPRESSingGratitude video.  Gavin said he’d enjoyed recording the ones with me so much he wanted to record his own.

I’m so pumped to see he’s soaking up the gratitude value Becky and I have been focused on!  So proud of the little man taking action to show and focus on his appreciation.  It was awesome to have an unexpected Gratituder hanging out with me today!

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You know the old story of how to boil a frog?  The one when, for some completely unknown reason, someone wants to boil a frog.  They place the frog in a pot of room temperature water and slowly turn the temperature up one degree at a time until it slowly increases to boiling.  The frog doesn’t notice the change as it is very subtle and not abrupt.

The changes of the past month and change have been quite the shock to the system.  One of the benefits of it has been the realization that I’ve slowly been boiling myself.  It started off slow and changed subtly over an extended period of time.  After this shock to the system it’s been eye opening to see just how much the shift has moved.

While of course I’d rather have things go back to normal I am very thankful for the shock  that’s helped me pause and how I’ve slowly boiled myself.


Day 1,309 – Thankful for Re-Reading Grit by Angela Duckworth with My Teams

Over the past couple of weeks my teams and I have started reading Grit by Angela Duckworth and then spend an hour or so dissecting a few chapters together each week. Let me start by saying how thankful I am for this specific portion. Spending time with my Express family talking about what we’ve learned and sharing insights into our thought patterns has been awesome. I’ve enjoyed this unique opportunity to get to know my teammates much better. It’s also been wonderful getting back into the habit of learning as a team. What a wonderful way to continue honing our value of Growth Mindset!

Re-reading the book itself has hit me on a different level than I was expecting also. I’ve read it a few times before this and enjoyed it each time, but this time around seems different somehow. I’m not sure if it’s due to the timing of what’s going on around me, where I’m at in my life, or because I’m forcing myself to take it in smaller pieces (only 2-3 chapters each week). Regardless, this has been a wonderful experience.

I pride myself on not being a quitter and as someone who can fight through just about anything. That half of Grit (in the book she refers to this as Persistence) I feel pretty good about. There’s still much room to grow, but I already feel strong there.

The other half (Passion) is a whole different story. Of course I have high levels of passion for things, but the object of my passion seems to shift more than it should.

Something that really hit home for me while reading it this time was a quote by Pete Carroll. Quick aside – Dad has got to be rolling in his grave over this, he really did not like Pete Carroll. “Do you have a life philosophy?” Such a short and simple question that would be so easy to snap call yes only to realize that the answer was no. When I reviewed this section again I realized that my answer was much different than in the past.

When I’ve read this book before I went right back to a canned response that I’ve had for many years that has seemed close, but never quite right. Several mentors and coaches have pointed out its flaws and it has taken me a while to see what they meant. With the benefit of time and reflection I can see that my answer wasn’t quite on track.

Reading Grit this time around I have been thinking of this question much more and I’ve gone in a slightly different direction. When I answer the question from my heart I end up with something more along the lines of “increasing the joy in the world one smile at a time via gratitude.” I think it’s still a ways from being finished, but I can see it coming together in my head. When I view it as something to live by I can see how I am already doing it in some ways and I can also see ways in which I need to modify my actions. Hmm… who knows? If you have any ideas I’m all ears.

While my brain keeps noodling on this I can’t help but realize how thankful I am for re-reading Grit. For whatever reason it is hitting home harder than before and that’s something I’m very thankful for.


Day 1,308 – Thankful for Bonus Wedding Anniversary Memories

Thank you again to everyone for all of the anniversary wishes today! Talk about making a couple feel loved 😁 One of our neighbors, Margie, even rushed out her front door to wish us an in person Happy Anniversary as we walked by their house – how awesome is that??? Thanks again Margie!!!

We had a great evening together and wrapped it up by going back through old photos in our wedding albums. Seeing how much younger all of us were 18 years ago was wild! Where have the years gone? It warmed our hearts to go back through so many photos of loved ones. Each smiling face brought back memories.

There were a handful of smiles that brought back some extra special memories. Spending some time remembering our grandparents really filled my heart.

Grandpa O did an amazing job officiating the wedding. Grandma O’s always big smile. Hearing stories from Grandpa Thums when he was a kid.

Of all of my hugs with Grandma Lamping that’s one that I’ll always remember clearly. Seeing the picture above and also a picture of that hug were like getting a hug from her from above. What an anniversary present that was tonight!

Thank you all to everyone who was there celebrating our wedding with us, in person or in spirit. Your presence made our day all the more special!


Day 1,307 – Thankful for Days When Blogging Isn’t Easy

My mind has been struggling with my blog post all day.  It’s funny, in my head I know there’s a deadline looming each day… but it’s one that’s totally set by me and is completely arbitrary.  Regardless, there’s this little voice in the back of my head that’s always asking me, “what are you thankful for today?”  Quite often it is also, “is this what you’re blogging about later?”  Throughout the day my mind focuses back to gratitude for result of writing a blog.  For me it’s incredibly therapeutic and keeps gratitude at the front of my brain.

Let’s look at today for instance.  What am I thankful for?  The following have all popped into my head at one time or another (in no particular order):

  • Blogging while sitting on the deck drinking a Miller Lite.  Yes, it’s not a great beer, but theres something nostalgic about it for so many reasons.
  • Trying to create a new recipe that doesn’t quite work out.  Sure, it would’ve been cool for it to be incredible, but it was also great that everyone in the house helped me when I asked for feedback and ideas.  Not everything is going to work out, but family will always be there to support and strengthen me.
  • Our anniversary is tomorrow and I’ve been thinking much about being married for 18 years.  Seriously, how did our relationship become an adult already???
  • The short board in the middle of our living room’s hardwood floor.  I happened to catch the sun glinting off of it during home church today.  When I see that board I still remember the way Dad’s eyes lit up when we were putting the floor in and he saw that piece.  “Mikey, we’re going to put that one in the perfect place.”  He set it aside and waited until he’d found the perfect spot for it, right in the middle of the floor.  Each time I see that specific board I remember my time with him and the lesson he taught me that day.  That’s most likely a blog for a different day. 😉
  • Cleaning the garage with the boys.  Seriously, it just felt good to have the three of us working on different aspects of cleaning it.  Now that it’s done it’s even more rewarding!
  • Spending time with Becky just chilling while we walk.  So peaceful and nothing else in the world exists when we have that time together.
  • Getting close to wrapping up a project and having a little extra time to start the next is a great way to spend a few extra minutes.
  • Seeing the #EXPRESSingGratitue starting to get legs.  I just saw the first third generation gratitude and it made my heart sing.
  • Starting a list of all the people I want to thank next week.  It’s wild how long the list is getting already!  I am so blessed to have so many awesome, loving, and talented people in my life.
  • And many, many more…

When I think of all of those amazing things I struggle to choose one.  Sometimes I focus on finding a theme to relate most of them back to… which I guess I am still kind of doing in this one.


Days like today are amongst my favorite and happen more often than I deserve.  My day has been filled with so much to be thankful for that I struggle to pick one thing.  I LOVE days like this and am so thankful for them.  When I boil it all down these are the days when I have been most present, most thankful, and have felt most loved.


Day 1,306 – Thankful for a Wildlife Filled Hike as a Family & a Mind Blowingly Delicious Anniversary Meal as a Family

We knocked out the last hike for Gavin’s Hiking merit badge today and it was a doozy!  Well over six hours after starting we wrapped up and headed back home.  In that time together we saw so much wildlife, it was crazy!  Amongst the critters we saw were muskrat, mink, beaver, snakes, osprey, bowfin, other random fish, turtles, sandhill cranes, hooded mergansers, blue wing teals, coots, geese, mallards, warblers, dragonflies, butterflies, and a bounce of other birds.  It was AWESOME!!!  How cool to see so much of our local wildlife while being out and about.


Time out in the sun outdoors, viewing so much wildlife, soaking in the beauty of the driftless, getting a wonderful endurance workout in…  awesome.  Having the opportunity to do all of that with my family?  Priceless!

Under normal circumstances Becky and I would usually be heading out to a nice dinner for just the two of us to celebrate our anniversary.  Obviously that’s not much of an option so we decided to go with Plan B.  Becky had the wonderful idea of getting food from Lovechild to share with the entire family.  Why not include the boys while we celebrate, right?


The food was AMAZING!!!  For reals, it totally blew my mind due to its deliciousness.  Outstanding!!!  We had a great time enjoying the meal as a family.  For the entire meal the boys were totally polite and nice to each other.  Everyone passed everything around so we all had the chance to try a little of all the awesomeness.  By the time the dust settled we were all full and pretty much everything had been eaten.

The food was outstanding, celebrating our anniversary was great, but spending time with the entire family made it all the more awesome!

Isn’t it funny how when we take time to look around us we can see so many blessings, around us?  As I think through all of the gifts that today has brought I realize that none of these would’ve happened had we not had everything going on as it is currently.  While I can’t change the situation itself I have the opportunity to decide how I will act on the situation and what attitude I will choose.  Today I choose gratitude.  I am so thankful for the bonus time with my family!


Day 1,305 – Thankful for Quality Time with Gavin Talking About Gratitude

Over the past couple of days I’ve greatly enjoyed having a buddy up in my workshop helping me out with my gratitude videos.  The first one was his idea to jump in for me.  Today I asked if he wanted to join me and he jumped right in – he even picked out who we were thankful for!  We wrote up a script, went upstairs, practiced a couple of times, and then recorded.


I’m so thankful for this time together for a few reasons.  Helping him get used to public speaking and presenting is an excellent skill that I’m happy to help him work on.  Showing him the importance of gratitude, especially for others, fills my heart.  Spending time with him one on one?  Each moment spent like that with him is priceless.

Gratitude, life skills, and time with one of my boys?  Doesn’t get much better than that!


Day 1,304 – Thankful for a Very Full Heart

Wowza, I wasn’t quite ready for all the love today! There were so many moments that filled up my heart that it feels like I’ve got about year’s worth of gratitude built up in only one day. For reals, this is one I am going to remember for a very long time for many reasons.

The day started with Dominic heading to the office with me in the morning. I was shooting a video for my Express family and thought he might appreciate the opportunity to sneak out of the house. We grabbed breakfast on the road, shot the bull, and had a lot of fun on the way there and on the way home. It was a blast spending time with him 1 on 1. As he’s continued to grow into his teens I’m reminding myself to soak in and appreciate these moments more and more.

To have the opportunity to spread the message of gratitude was AWESOME!!! The responses I got from my Express family from the presentation pretty much blew my mind. So many emails, texts, and messages of support and thanks. It was amazing!!! Being able to hear the smiles through the messages was nothing short of awesome.

Back at home I went back up to my home office / woodworking shop. It wasn’t one before I had a visitor, Gavin. He was reading while I was catching up on a few things. I gave him the heads up that I was going to record my gratitude video for the day and without hesitation he asked if he could record it. Why not??? Next thing I knew he was recording the best daily gratitude video yet. It was so much fun seeing him get into the spirit of the video! Without a doubt that opportunity will stick in his brain. Just a hunch but I’m guessing he might make another appearance or two in the future.

Watching the Express video later in the day with the family was great. I was so thankful they each had the opportunity to hear that part of the reason I can stay happy in tough times is because of them. They bring so much joy to my heart and it was so cool for them to hear that.

We went out for a family bike ride that should have been very uneventful. (QUICK SPOILER – GAVIN IS OKAY) Unfortunately Gavin had other plans and decided to accelerate while going down hill before a sharp corner. He crashed at full speed into the guardrail and it led to a wildly scary few minutes that involved a 911 call and police. After a handful of minutes we were able to confirm he was okay… though his bike was busted up beyond repair. I’d never seen handle bars that thrashed before! Why do I mention this in a blog about a full heart? Nothing like a couple of moments of possible loss to remind us to be thankful for each little moment we have. My heart is still racing but it is full knowing he’s okay.

Dominic made supper for us which was AWESOME!!! For some reason he had the idea that he wanted to make us “smash burgers.” They were DELICIOUS!!! He grilled up the entire meal himself and was smiling pretty much the entire time. So cool to see him getting into the flow and enjoying himself like that!

To wrap up an insanely heart filling day I then saw a video posted by my friend Johnny Adams. Wow. Awesome, humbling, and inspiring beyond words. That put me completely over the top and has left me with a heart that’s fit to burst with joy. Talk about an incredible way to wrap up the day!

So many blessings, so much love, so much joy, and so much gratitude. To each and every person who played a role in my life today – thank you from the bottom of my heart. This was one I’ll remember for ever. Thank you all so much!


Day 1,303 – Thankful for Incredible Wisdom from Almost 2,000 Years Ago

Yes, I know, I know.  I’ve blogged about Meditations by Marcus Aurelius more than a few times over the past handful of years.  Here’s the thing: of all of the books I’ve read in my life it is easily on my personal Mount Rushmore of influential books (most likely accompanied by The Book of Joy, New Seeds of Contemplation, the Bible, Essentialism, and The Obstacle Is the Way – yes, that’s more than four, but I’d also modify the true Mount Rushmore slightly if I had the chance).

There’s been something rolling through my head often this week… I’ve been focused on answering a very specific question that is one that seems incredibly simplistic.  Aren’t those some of the most frustrating yet energizing questions?  One that seems way to simple when you first read it that your brain kind of glosses over it, gives the easy surface answer, and then starts to move on… and then you have that, “HOLD ON, WAIT A SECOND!!!” thought that causes you to stop in your tracks.  You pause, re-read the question, and quickly realize there will be no quick answer to it.  Next thing you know your brain is going a thousand miles an hour trying to figure out the insanely complex question you almost blew right past without a thought.  That’s what I’ve been having go through my head.  I’m really hoping you understand, if not I just might have shown a first stage of insanity 😉

After our run this morning I could almost answer the question but it wouldn’t quite roll off my tongue.  I paused for a second, looked at my book shelf of my most influential books (yes, they have a special shelf in my bedroom) and BAM!!!  I had it!  In a few feverish moments I cruised through a couple of books just to make sure I had it right and there it was… another awesome piece of wisdom from Meditations that almost answered the question.


Objective judgement, now, at this very moment.

Unselfish action, now, at this very moment.

Willing acceptance – now, at this very moment – of all external events.

That’s all you need.

The interesting thing about Meditations was that this wasn’t something Marcus necessarily wrote for anyone else.  It was his personal notes to himself, the lessons he’d learned about how he felt life should be lived.  The writings were meant to be a guide for him to study as he added new thoughts and observations while living his life.

Some of what hit home so deeply in this were not only the points themselves, but also the focus on now, the present.  That is definitely one of the keys to my answer.  Staying in the now, being present, focusing on what’s at hand.

I would love to be able to go back to talk with him as he wrote this.  There’s a piece that I’m not quite seeing but I feel he would say it is woven in it.  How amazing it would be to sit and ask him his thoughts.  Seeing as I can’t I’ll have to do the next best thing… guess.  Either way, I am thinking that the only thing that is not clearly (or at least cleanly) threaded into his answer is gratitude.

Marcus, thank you so much for taking the time to write your thoughts so that others may learn from them.  Today your words of advice helped me answer a question I was struggling with.


Day 1,302 – Thankful for Connecting the Dots Looking Backwards and Having Faith

In his awe inspiring commencement speech for Standford Steve Jobs said:

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

I’ve loved this comment ever since I heard it the first time. What I’m learning as days go by is just how true the comment is and how much I am thankful for it.

Earlier in the day I had a beautifully honest conversation about my past recession experiences and how they relate today. As I shared past experiences – both mistakes made and lessons learned – I couldn’t help but notice just how much of an impact that rough time had on me.

That was by far and away one of the most difficult professional times in my life. Throughout that time I stressed about so many things, both within and outside of my control. There were times in which I had gotten so stressed and worked up about all of the what if’s that I couldn’t sleep and it was taking a physical toll on me. Quite often I would get frustrated discouraged and struggled to stay positive.

Today in our conversation I started to realize how much I learned through those times. While it was incredibly difficult to live through I learned so much about business, sales, stress management, and so many life lessons. While in those times all I could do was persevere and keep faith that it would all work out in the long run. It turns out that it did.

In going through our current challenges I’d almost taken for granted all that I’d learned through the last recession. Many of the reasons I’ve done what I’ve done and stayed as calm as I have through most of this has been drawn from that experience. Without that experience I can’t imagine just how difficult it would be. Now that I have the benefit of hindsight I can see how those trials back in the day have helped to prepare me for now. I can see how some of the dots now connect by looking backwards.

As I get frustrated, nervous, and unsure throughout this current challenge I am going to remember that this experience will help me become stronger and better for the next challenge I face. I may not be able to see how it’s helping me now but at some point I will be able to look backwards to connect the dots. I have faith that everything will work out and I must remain positive.


Day 1,301 – Thankful for Additional Nudges from The Big Dude Upstairs

Almost a year ago I wrote a blog post titled “Thankful for Paying Attention to the Nudges the Universe Provides.”  Tonight’s post is very similar, but just a tad different.  Today I’m thankful for the nudges themselves.  Just a warning – as I’m writing this I’m not quite sure it’s making sense quite the way I intended…  if someone wants to jump in and take a stab at it to help me out that would be greatly appreciated!!!

What do I mean by nudges?  You ever have that feeling that you’re about to head in a potentially wrong direction and something happens to help get you on track?  Maybe there’s something you’re doing right and about to change but you get that gut feel to maybe stay the course instead?  To me those moments are when The Big Dude Upstairs is helping to nudge us in the right direction.  Nothing crazy, not like a light bulb going off or a miracle from above, rather just a subtle nudge.

Over the course of the past couple of weeks I’ve felt a few of those nudges.  Some to get me back on track, some to keep me on track.  Nothing crazy or drastic, but just that little shift that could make all the difference if I heed it.

That’s also one of the reasons I am thankful for nudges.  The Big Dude could just push us, force us, or make the call for us.  A nudge is very different.  It’s something we can feel and that gets us thinking, but it’s up to us to take action on or to read correctly.  In some ways it’s kind of like the rumble strips on the highway; it’s an extra warning system to keep you on track.  With it being this close to Easter I can’t help but wonder if it has something to do with the human experiences The Big Dude had while alive.  Just my own personal hunch, definitely will be worth a conversation with Him someday over a cup of coffee in the great beyond.

The fact that a nudge is given and we’re allowed to make our own choice of how to respond is an incredible thing.  It reminds me that the situation is one in which I still have the ability to decide how to move forward.  I’m also reminded that The Big Dude is helping to watch out for me and doing Their best to help lead me to the right place.  It also shows me that I am loved enough to allow me to make a mistake if necessary to help me grow.  If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.


Thank you so much for all of the nudges recently!  I am taking them all in, doing my best to point myself in the right direction, and hope to do what’s needed to be the best me I can be.  Thank you for taking time to help me stay the course and reminding me that I always have a choice.  Thank you for being patient with me, I can be a slow learner sometimes.  Thank you for nudging me at times to remind me I might already be on the right track and need to stay on course.  Big Dude, thank you for loving me enough to nudge me.