Day 1,376 – Thankful for Seeing More Correlations to Gratitude and Abundance Mindsets and Returning to Church

The quote from a handful of days ago was “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Maybe it should be this instead: “Gratitude leads to abundance. Abundance leads to giving. Giving leads to joy.” Thoughts?

Tonight was the first night I was able to head back to our regular church in a few months. It had opened a few weeks ago, but due to schedules and timing I wasn’t able to join the family for mass until today.

There was so much that was different – masks, sanitizer, being ushered to seats, sitting far away from others, no singing, and some more subtle changes. I still remember Father Mark telling us way back in the day how we need to sit closer together and slide to the middle of the pews instead of hugging the aisles – what a change today was!

While the changes were many the rest was exactly the same. It was a place to stop and think, to reflect, to pray, and to be thankful. Sitting in the pew listening to the start of church left my eyes watering a bit as it felt so right in spite fo being so different. I had the words of Father Dodge from a sermon a couple of weeks ago in my head talking about fear distracting us from God. There were changes all around, but the focus wasn’t on them, it was on the “why” we were all together in the building. It felt like home.

Throughout the service I kept thinking about all that I am grateful for. Seeing the guy who looks like and reminds me of Dad. Mary Ellen playing piano with her passionate gusto. Father Dodge cracking a joke or two while simultaneously making sure everything goes as planned. Hearing other people say the Lord’s Prayer and the Nicene Creed. Taking time to kneel and look up to the statue of Jesus. Being there with my family.

My mind also wandered to so many things outside of the four wall of church itself. My family and I are healthy. We live in a free society. We are able to meet at church. The time we’ve spent as a family together. The opportunity to find beauty in a challenge. The ability to find ways to be joyful and love others even during difficult situations.

As my mind wandered on these thoughts I was drawn more and more to the concept that’s been on my mind much of this week. Gratitude leads to an abundance mindset. When we take time to be thankful for all the blessings in our lives – even the challenges – we have the opportunity to choose our attitude and find a way to be thankful for even the most difficult times.

When we consciously choose gratitude we start to see everything around us as it should be, a blessing. We’re fortunate to still be alive. We’re fortunate to be going through this challenge. We’re fortunate to be able to have the ability to choose gratitude. We’re fortunate to have existed.

When we see everything as a blessing we see only opportunity. Some blessings may be very easy to see, others may take some time. Regardless, we know that with the right mindset even the most difficult of challenges will ultimately make us stronger and we can learn from them. Hence, there are only positive opportunities. There is only abundance.

Earlier this week I quoted Yoda: “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” This quote is spot on, but it points in a direction opposite of where I prefer to focus.

Try this one on for size: “Gratitude leads to abundance. Abundance leads to giving. Giving leads to joy.”

Nice to see the boys on the giving side of the equation 🙂

I almost started to change it because I started to think out love for others should be listed in that thought process. After thinking about it, that is very much what is at the core of all of it. Love is another example of something to be thankful for, find abundance of, and to ultimately give. Thoughts?


Day 1,375 – Thankful for Blogging Early, Being a Morning Person, Getting On the Water Early

Sometimes writing in the morning just seems to fit the day. One of the parts of blogging about gratitude daily is that it causes me to spend much of my day with a different level of awareness, rather a hypersensitivity, of all the blessings around me. When I wait until the end of the day I’ve had the opportunity to review almost the entire day and have more material to work with.

Writing in the morning is different. There’s a danger in doing so as I may miss something or not pay as much attention with an eye to gratitude. I’m hedging my bet when I write early, what if something really awesome happens afterwards? What if I have some crazy insight I want to save? Hello Mr. Scarcity Mindset, please exit my brain. Of course I could always write a second post for the day, there’s no rule that says I can’t. That’s choosing the right mindset, abundance.

What’s interesting is that when I write in the morning I often make a little extra space for my thoughts to ferment. There’s no pressure, no deadline; self imposed or otherwise. Sometimes when I write at night I have to force it a bit which also doesn’t quite seem right. If you’ve read my blog often you’ve most likely developed an eye for those posts. They’re just not quite the same as the others. When I write in the morning my mind is writing when it feels ready, not because it has to. The thoughts are fresh in my head and are ready to appear right away. Something about that even feels a little more honest at times as there’s zero opportunity to filter the thought. Regardless, it’s liberating and my brain is free to play with thoughts the rest of the day.

One of the things that hit me this morning is how thankful I am to be a morning person. Today was by far the latest I’ve slept in all week (5:55am). Becky and I already got in a bike ride AND a run. Quick side note, this was the first time we ever tried a little bit of the feel of going from a bike ride to transitioning into a run. That was WILD!!! We were all packed up and on our way out to our boat by 9:05. I love having the opportunity to head out and get moving while much of the world sleeps.

What got my brain rolling with gratitude this morning was getting out on the water early this morning. As of this moment we still have our beach to ourselves. There are few boats on the water. It’s totally peaceful. Ahh… chill time. I’m always thankful for that, for opening space to think, read, chill, and spend time with family. Feels amazing!

The ladder in the middle is my makeshift foot rest, had to make myself comfy 😉


Day 1,374 – Thankful for My Work Buddy and Handyman – Dominic

My work day today was AWESOME!!! I had the opportunity to spend much of the day with an incredible commute and work buddy. Dominic decided he wanted some time out of the house and asked to join me on a road trip to our Eau Claire office and I was glad he did.

The entire hour and a half drive there and hour and a half drive back home was filled with conversation. We shot the bull the whole time we were in the car and covered everything form careers to jokes. Spending time with him explaining what our business does was pretty cool. Having some bonus time in the day with him was even cooler.

Once we got to the office he put on his handyman hat and went to town. Dominic helped move an old desk out of the office and into storage. He proceeded to take apart the outside of a couple of our AC units and cleaned out all the pollen, leaves, and cottonwood. Heck, he even put them back together afterwards, something that would be a solid 50/50 bet at best if I did it 😉 Was he done there? Nope, he proceeded to help me out some other stuff including programming the garage door opener for the office.

We grabbed some lunch on the way home and jumped right back into conversation. At one point my heart was overfilled with joy when he randomly stopped the conversation and thanked me for taking him up with me today. How awesome is that??? Thinking of that puts a huge smile on my face.

I’m so thankful he had the opportunity to get his hands dirty and get some work done for our business. Spending time with him in the car talking with him one on one like that was priceless. I hope he remembers some of these moments as I do, both as a father and son, for the rest of his life. Dominic singlehandedly made it an incredibly rewarding and memorable day for me today.

Thanks Bud! So glad you enjoy spending time with your old man. Love you Dude!!!


Day 1,373 – Thankful for a Different Perspective of Winona

Day 1,373 – Thankful for a Different Perspective of Winona

Today was our annual Halftime planning session for our Winona team. This event is an opportunity for all of us to hit pause on reality for a handful of hours and spend time in thought looking at what subtle strategy changes could make all the difference in the second half of the year.

Mike (other Mike, not talking about myself in 3rd person) took the lead in planning this year’s event and kicked it off with a very cool activity. We hiked up the bluff on the east side of Winona and got up to the base of Sugar Loaf. Somehow I’d never taken that trail in my 20 years of working in the area. For those who may not know Winona well, Sugar Loaf is the remnant of a quarry on top of the first major bluff in town as you roll in. It is an iconic Winona image that has been featured on many logos in the area.

I’ve been up and down many bluffs in the area, but this one was a little different. There was something about standing next to this rocky outcrop that first caught my eye the very first time I drove through Winona was special. The panoramic view of Winona below was nothing short of breathtaking. The view up and down the Mississippi River Valley was mind-blowing. Seeing the bluffs as far as the eye could see was awesome. In my brief time up there I was reminded of almost all the reasons I am so in love with the driftless region.

The concept of starting with this hike was to take a moment to see Winona from a different perspective. When I looked down I didn’t see COVID, social distancing, social issues, or political frustration. Instead there was a beautiful community so blessed to be nestled into one of the most beautiful natural areas of the world. I saw a community of endless opportunities. In a flash I saw just how small I am in the big picture, but how I could be a part of a much bigger whole. My thoughts were focused on community, not individualism.

I wonder how this change in perspective made others feel? Would the community be a better place if everyone took a few minutes to head up on top of the bluff to take in the beauty around them, to see the bigger picture, and to treat the entire community with love? I’m positive that it would be difficult to hold onto a scarcity focused mindset when I see the abundance laid before us in the valley.

Grant, Mike D, & Katie taking in the view

Mike, thanks for a thought and spirit provoking start to our Halftime, it is greatly appreciated! Also, happy birthday dude!!! Thank you for sharing your birthday with us!


Day 1,372 – Thankful for an Interesting Intersection of Two Seemingly Unrelated Thoughts Colliding Into an Epic Star Wars Quote and Butter Pecan Ice Cream on the Deck In the Summer

How’s that for a long title??? LOL – I love when I am going to blog about a couple of relatively simple topics and the title ends up being huge! Heck, I’m going to go a little crazy and go in reverse order even. If this post is already starting off the rails I may as well keep it that way.

When I was a kid and would head down to Union Grove to hang out with my grandparents for a week there were certain activities that were just a given. One of my favorite groups of memories include eating butter pecan ice cream on the deck while listening to the Brewers game. Quite often when I experience even just one of those ingredients I think back to those awesome times with my grandparents. Talk about memories that I’ll treasure forever.

Tonight Becky was going to run to the grocery store quick and asked if I wanted anything. Gavin was going with to pick up ice cream for himself. When those two thoughts collided I immediately thought of Grandma and Grandpa and asked Becky to pick up butter pecan ice cream. We ate it on the deck just because we could. I smiled just like I did so many times with my grandparents before.

Last night I got caught up on the past couple of sermons from our church as I’ve been out of town the past two weekends. One of Father Dodge’s sermons was focused on fear. He shared a very interesting story from CS Lewis in which two devils are talking with each other and one says, “keep them afraid so they don’t think of God.” This was the first time I’d heard the quote and it really hit home. Over the past 24 hours that thought has been fermenting and bubbling in my head. More on that in a minute.

This afternoon our teams got together to review our most recent chapter of Mindset by Carolyn Dweck. The concept was focused a lot on when we are in a growth (abundance) mindset versus a fixed (limited) mindset. In a growth mindset we see limitless opportunity and see failure as learning. With a fixed mindset we see only the path directly in front of us and see failures as proof of our low personal value.

What hit me today is how closely fear is related to a fixed mindset. When I think of the CS Lewis quote it makes me think of how fear shifts us into a fixed mindset if we are not diligent. When we are afraid we tend to hold on very tightly to what we have (see the recent toilet paper shortage as evidence). When we are happy and confident we’re more apt to share and help others.

As these thoughts combined I looked at it from both the mindset of instead of fear hold on to The Big Dude Upstairs and He will provide. If we choose fear we become selfish and live a fixed mindset. Look to the positive and be thankful instead of being afraid. When in a stressful moment / situation choose the way of the optimist and find how you can grow through the situation. If we choose fear instead in that moment we will miss opportunities to grow and hold on to what we already have – in the darkness.

The more and more these two thoughts swirled in my brain the more and more I thought about our current societal challenges. How many of our current challenges have come from fear? How many could be solved with love instead?

And then I caught myself thinking… “Hmm… I’m pretty sure I’ve heard this before.” All night I’ve been trying to recall what quote summarized my thought so clearly. It’s been driving me bonkers because it was so much more clear and concise than my stumbling words.

And then it hit me…

Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

– Master Yoda

And there it is, the little green wise dude hits another home run! For reals, I couldn’t have put it any more perfectly.


Quick bonus, one of my other favorite Yoda quotes:

We are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.

– Master Yoda