Day 1,524 – Thankful for Taking Time to Think and Reflect Yesterday

My blog post last night was focused on being thankful for days when things don’t go as planned in the workshop. There were several things that didn’t work out as I would’ve like yesterday. When I wrote my post I took time to think through each of my errors and write notes to myself.

Today I re-read my post prior to starting to wood work again. I reviewed my mistakes from yesterday. Before doing anything else I walked through my plan modifications to salvage one of my projects. I drew it out and then proceeded to craft.

The notes from yesterday helped a ton! Instead of getting frustrated and seeing things not work out everything seemed to fall into place. In a couple of spots I paused for just a second, thought about yesterday, and then realized I needed to do something just a little different. Each time I paused I was able to figure out the right solution.

At one point I was about to glue up my project so I paused and took my time. I practiced my clamping technique one more time prior to gluing. I carefully pre-adjusted the clamps to be approximately the right size and had them lined up on an empty bench in order of application. Once I started gluing I moved slowly and methodically, double checking each piece prior to adding glue. When a piece stuck and didn’t quite fit for a second I took a deep breath, relaxed, and then fit it together. Where I felt rushed and stressed yesterday I felt totally calm and chill today.

The results were awesome – if I do say so myself. Everything worked out very well. Even when things didn’t quite go to plan I paused and figured out a way to make it work. I’d bet that no one would ever guess the issue once it is completed.

So why did today go so well? I paused to soak in the results of yesterday. I took time to assess my mistakes and determine how I could improve. I wrote notes to myself to remind myself how to improve. I didn’t get frustrated, I remembered that I am still learning and yesterday was a day full of lessons. In soaking all of that up yesterday everything flowed so much better today.

What a valuable lesson for me to remember. Take time to learn from failures and successes. Think on them. Write them down. Review prior to starting the next project.

I couldn’t show the projects themselves yet, but I figured I could share one of my weapon of choice 😉


Day 1,523 – Thankful for Days In the Workshop When Things Don’t Go Perfectly

Yes, you read that correctly. I am truly grateful for days in the workshop when things don’t go perfectly.

Do be sure, I am also thankful for days when everything goes smoothly and according to plan. Those mythical days are kind of like unicorns and are deeply appreciated in the moment but also cause me to keep looking over my shoulder to see what impending disaster is trying to sneak up on me. 😉

So what’s my crazy logic for today’s gratitude? Maybe we should start with what happened first.

There were a couple of small things that went as planned. These were projects in the tail end of production and all there was to accomplish on them today was a clear coat. All good there, I didn’t suddenly forget how to use finish or kick up a cloud of dust as the lacquer dried. That all went well.

There was a new design for a box I was trying out. It was going to be more of a throw away attempt at something new, but last night it started to go much better than expected. With that in mind I’d gotten excited about having an unexpected gift to give someone. And then today happened. I was so nervous about trying a couple of new joints and clamping everything up correctly that I missed something important… I put the bottom in upside down and didn’t notice it until after everything was glued, clamped, and dried. Did I mention that I was also using dowels for decoration and stability? Those were also glued, inserted, and dried before I noticed my error. Instead of a great looking gift I have a semi-useless piece of hickory.

Later in the day I thought I would redeem myself and try something new. I’d already battled through a handful of learning opportunities before I mis-cut a piece that really wasn’t supposed to be mis-cut. Who’d a thunk it, right? Instead of getting angry I just let out a sigh…

I set everything down, and then paused to see what I could learn from the day.

  • First off, when trying something new remember to idiot proof the set up. I’m working with wood, it’s very easy to sand off any pencil marks. Next time I’ll write something like “this side up” to remind myself which way it should go.
  • I’ll remember to take my time and slow down. An extra 30 seconds won’t ruin the project. Yes, I have to work quickly when using glue, but remember to slow down, take a deep breath, and get it right.
  • When using wood try to use pieces at least 1/2″ thick. When I’ve ripped boards down to 1/4″ they are so much more prone to cupping. Go a little heavy.
  • Remember to use more pencil marks to show what needs to be cut out versus just using lines as normal. It’s very easy to forget which side of the line to stay tight to.
  • Pause and think about which side of the board should go through the saw first. I sometimes think it will all look the same, but there are times when it really matters. Get used to thinking through the cut on all pieces.

And that’s why I am thankful for days in the workshop when things don’t go perfectly. Each mistake may sting, but if I keep my cool each mistake is also a lesson to help me improve. If I pause to think about the mistake and how it could have been prevented I will prevent future mistakes from happening. Also, mistakes usually mean I’m trying something new and I’m growing. Yes, it sucked making mistakes today, but I was also trying new skills. Of course I’m not going to be perfect each time. If I choose the right attitude I’ll find ways to improve the next time.

Yes, I feel like the scoreboard wasn’t quite in my favor today. It’s okay. It was practice and I’m learning and growing. Tomorrow will be better and the projects I make in the future will be improved as a result of what I learned today.

Instead of a picture of my mistakes, here’s something that went perfectly today… our hiking up Twin Bluffs State Park in MN. Ahh…


Day 1,522 – Thankful for a Solid Sequel, Ready Player Two

I usually keep to my reading order of business / self improvement, fiction, biography. This triad of books styles helps me stay balanced and focused on learning new things, seeing how others have applied them, and then zooming out to see the ideas in action in the vacuum of fiction. I totally skipped that order and jumped right into a new one on Tuesday and just finished it up today.

I was a huge fan of Ready Player One after some friends recommended it to me a while back. The story is filled with so many of the ’80s pop/nerd culture that I grew up with. Almost each page brought back some great memories for me. I still remember where I was when I read it the first time (listening on audio) and can tell you where I was waling during many of the parts. The book was right up my alley and one of my favorites.

On Monday night I hopped onto Audible to see which book I should fire up next. Usually I stick with my wishlist and pull one from there, but I opted to check out the New Releases section for a moment. When I started scrolling through I couldn’t believe my eyes… Ready Player Two was being released the next morning! Without a moment of hesitation I set it up to auto download as soon as it dropped.

Sometimes sequels aren’t so good. Maybe I should phrase it differently? usually sequels are terrible. I was a little nervous at first but then that fear quickly abated as I dove in.

I’m guessing many haven’t read it yet so I’ll be careful to avoid any spoilers. Long story short, it was a fun story and a very entertaining read just like the first. The characters are the same and everything flows very well. Most importantly, there’s a ton of the ’80s and ’90s nerdy Easter eggs that endeared the first book to me. Wow, I really wish I could write more about it! Do us both a favor and read the book so we can talk about it, okay?


Day 1,521 – Thankful for My Newest Nephew, Cooper Nicholas

My little brother and my sister in law had about the best possible Thanksgiving present possible today – a little seven pound bundle of adorable awesomeness, Cooper Nicholas!

The day has been filled with many things I’m grateful for. I’ve had a lot of time with family. Becky made a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. There was plenty of physical activity including time on my bike and a family walk. Dominic put up Christmas lights. Gavin found joy in exercise after initially thinking he didn’t want to. I got some time to work on a couple of woodworking projects. We had a supper of pie. Family game night is now being followed up with the first Christmas movie of the year, Elf. It’s been a solidly wonderful day all the way through.

All that said, the safe delivery of my newest nephew is by far and away what I am most grateful for today. Our family has grown by one. The smile on my little brother’s face on FaceTime to give us our first view of little Cooper was absolutely priceless. The joy that little Cooper has brought to him and his family already is pretty awesome!

Of all the things to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day Cooper reminds me of what is the most important thing in world today – family, love, health, and joy. Thank you little Cooper dude for brightening the day for me and so many today! I’m totally looking forward to spoiling you in the future, kind of like your dad does for my boys.


Day 1,520 – Thankful for a Thanksgiving Eve Tradition, Pies by Grant

There are many different holiday traditions in our family. Today marks one of the most delicious ones!

For the past few years my friend Grant has been making very tasty pies for all of his teammates – including me! The week prior to the holiday I look forward to the question, “Which type would you like this year?” Each year I’ve gone with same response, though each year he has a few different options for us to choose from. Pumpkin pie cheesecake… ahh…

On Thanksgiving Eve Grant brings in a pile of pies and leaves them at each of our desks. Talk about an incredible way to start the morning! This morning was an added bonus… he had an extra pie! Pumpkin pie cheesecake for breakfast? Why yes, I think I will. It partnered wonderfully with my coffee.

After supper we ate half of the pie – the other half has a bonus couple of hours to survive before it’s devoured later this evening. All of the sound around the table was the same… the sound of eating followed by groans of enjoyment and chased with comments like “that’s amazing!”

Grant, thank you so much for an awesomely delicious Thanksgiving Eve tradition dude!!! My entire family appreciates it greatly and are grateful for the awesome treat. Thanks for an excellent dessert and a great friendship!

Is it wrong that even though I’m full I’m getting very tempted to go back for another bite? 😉


Day 1,519 – Thankful for Things I’d Rather Not Share Tonight

LOL – one of the problems with writing a blog about gratitude that I share openly is that there are occasionally times when I’m really thankful for something specific but I’d rather not share it with everyone. I swear, its not trying to be selfish, it’s just that sometimes the thing I’m grateful for is something that doesn’t need to be shared with everyone.

Today is totally one of those days. There’s been a ton to be thankful for including safe driving in the first snowy weather, playing games with the boys, and great books, but the one I’m most thankful for is one I’ll keep to myself today.

Hope everyone is having an awesome Tuesday and finding much to be grateful for this evening!


Day 1,518 – Thankful for Leadership Lessons from Ender’s Game

On our drive back from “Up North” yesterday I had a little quiet time. Part of the drive includes zero cell coverage. During that same part of the road trip the boys each had their own things going on. Dominic doing homework and Gavin was reading. I popped in an earbud and fired up an audiobook. I finished The Wim Hof Method (I’d highly recommend it!) and went back to the fiction I had been reading intermittently, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

After seeing how much Becky and Gavin enjoyed it I decided to add it back to the rotation of books. In my second reading I caught so much more of the action and found it to be an even more fulfilling experience than the first time around. All the details that I didn’t quite put together the first time added a rich complexity as the plot unfolded during the second reading.

What really caught my attention yesterday was a leadership lesson I’d forgotten from the first time I read it. The lesson itself is relatively buried but shined like gold when I read it this time.

Long story short (& without spoilers), there’s a point in Ender’s training in which he moves up to controlling a ship. He then moves up into having a squadron. After a while he grows into an entire fleet. At first he continues to act the same as before, attempting to control the battles himself, thinking in all directions at once, and taking action alone. He quickly finds that he needs others to help him and he cannot rely on his own abilities alone. Once the team of leaders are in place he has to trust them, coach them, mentor them, and give them the space, freedom, and flexibility they need while also giving them the direction, vision, and strategy they also need at the same time. In doing so he learns to let go of control in order to maintain control. It’s an interesting study in delegation. There was also a lot more which I won’t get into at risk of spoiling the story for others.

This concept is one I’ve struggled with often in my career. I like to do things myself. Seeing the way he grew reminded me of own career path and helped me zoom out to see what great would really look like. As with many times when I look across the wide expanse that is the distance between who I am and who I am called to be this is one of the lessons that could help me reduce the distance a bit.

I’m thankful for that advice I got long ago to read a combination of business/self-improvement, biography, and fiction. Initially I had my doubts on the importance of fiction, but days like today remind me of their ability to help us see something from “real life” in a very different light. Today it helped me grow.


Day 1,517 – Thankful for Stillness Creating an Awesome Experience

Usually when I am talking about stillness I’m thinking of it as a moment in which my brain and soul have peace and quiet. There’s not outside stimuli causing me to lose focus. Stillness, in that meaning, is when I am able to pause and think, learn, and relax.

The stillness that created an awesome experience today was quite a bit different.

When Gavin and I would post while hunting we usually did so in a spot with only one small tree stand. This meant that he’d go up to the top and I’d figure out a way to get comfortable next to him. Sometimes that would involve sitting at the base of a tree, standing on the ladder, or standing right next to the tree.

On one of the drives today I stood by the tree and kept my hands on the ladder – largely to keep myself anchored and still. I was doing my best to not move at all and that’s crazy difficult for me to do! Gavin also struggles with sitting still so we were both totally out of our element. That said, we were obviously doing a pretty solid job of sitting still.

From behind me I hear a couple of birds start flitting about around us. Suddenly, one of them landed on the tree not two inches from my hand! I watched it and did my best not to too smile to big and scare it away. A few seconds later and it flew up… and landed on the barrel of Gavin’s gun! I almost laughed out loud when I saw that! If Gavin needed proof that he was capable of sitting still he certainly got it.

Several minutes after the birds had flown off I heard them start making their rounds back in our direction. I could hear the beating of the wings getting closer… and closer… and closer… and suddenly I could feel the wind from the bird’s wings on the back of my neck! He landed right on my shoulder! Again it took all the self control I had to not laugh out loud at the sight of me standing there with a bird on my shoulder. When it flew off it must’ve decided it wasn’t through with me. He flew from my shoulder to a branch and then right onto my hand. Sitting atop my glove he looked right at me and just sat there for a bit. Once he’d thoroughly checked me out he took flight again and went back to the branches.

What an incredible experience!!! I remembered Dad telling me stories like that back in the day but I didn’t quite believe him. After today I think he may have been telling the truth.

Stillness, both literal and metaphorical, has led to some profound experiences in my life and I’m very grateful for it.


Day 1,516 – Thankful for Climbing a Tree

Crazy! My internet coverage must not have been good enough last night to upload. Here’s my blog post from yesterday today 😁🤷‍♂️

Almost all of the daylight hours were focused on hunting today. The weather cooperated incredibly well (sunny, no wind, and fairly warm) even though the deer didn’t (except for the big buck that my brother in law got early in the morning). All said there were many miles walked, tons of outdoor time, and lots of joking. This was my first time out on opening day in a very long time (over 25 years?) and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to get back in the hunt… see what I did there? 😉

With all of the awesomeness of the hunt, you know what I am the most thankful for today? Climbing a tree. Yup, 100% for sure, it was climbing a tree. For reals!

At one point Gavin and I were waiting for others in the group. Gavin went up in the deer stand, but there was only room for one. Seeing as I didn’t have a gun and I wanted to stay near Gavin I had to find someplace for me to watch from. In an instant I saw my answer. Near the Gavin’s stand was a huge oak tree with some low hanging branches.

Next thing I knew I was swinging myself up a branch and up the tree. For a moment I questioned my ability to get up in the tree but then figured why not? Funny how my mind can sometimes question my ability before I had attempt something. I need to remember to shut that little voice down more often.

I continued up the tree until I found a perfect little perch. I sat there, relaxed, and looked over at Gavin. He smiled at me, I smiled back, and I kind of felt like I was his age again. There we were, two kids out in the woods, climbing trees.

The sun popped out while I chilled on my branch. At one point I even rested my head on the branch above me and almost fell asleep. The entire time up there was so peaceful and relaxing in a way that I can’t even begin to describe. It was exactly where I was meant to be in that moment and I savored every second of it.

The entire day has been full of outdoor awesomeness and I’m grateful for each and every second of it. While all of it was awesome, climbing a tree was special in a crazy kind of way that I appreciate greatly.


Day 1,515 – Thankful for Awesome Memories of Airport Adventures and “Good Morning”

Seven years ago today I shared a video on Facebook that cracks me up and makes me smile to this day. I’d just gotten back from a run in the morning and got a huge “Good Morning!!!” from Gavin. He was bright eyed, bushy tailed, and ready for action! Hearing his little 5 year old voice was wild. The voice may have changed, but the personality is totally still there. For some reason I wasn’t able to find the video in my library but it is shared to my FB Timeline if you want a dose of high energy guaranteed to make you smile.

The memory from three years ago was from our first day in New Zealand. To be sure, I’ve got a pretty good hunch that I’ll write more about NZ over the next few days. Tonight I was thankful for a completely different memory related to this trip.

Becky had left for New Zealand a few days before us for her conference – the reason we decided to take the trip down there. That meant that I was taking the boys to another continent on the other side of the world solo. Initially I was nervous, but by the end I saw it as one of the best “boys only” adventures the three of us have had together.

We got to the airport in Minneapolis very early and it ended up being even earlier than I’d planned. To help us burn a couple of hours we ended up touring the entire airport including visits to the highest numbered gate of of each concourse. Along the way we did pushups and goofed around on the moving walkways, ate junk food, watched jets, and laughed a ton.

By the time we got to San Fransisco we were ready for more adventuring! We spent the entire waiting time doing more of the same in San Fran. At one point Gavin was leaning on a spinning chair and was literally spinning in circles using the chair! Next thing we knew we were on a flight halfway around the world.

The adventure of getting there was one that I’ll never forget. The boys and I still joke about it from time to time. It was one of my favorite parts of our trip to New Zealand which feels weird to write, but it’s 100% true. The memories we made of having fun in the airport are ones I’ll hold deep in my heart for the rest of my life. We were on an adventure and enjoyed every moment of it (all 30+ hours of it!).