Day 1,556 – Thankful for a Spontaneous Reading from Thoreau as We Left the Woods

I’ve got to give it to my friend Steve. When we head out to the woods there’s never a shortage of surprises. From his seemingly never-ending pool of wilderness knowledge to deep thoughts to well timed jokes you never quite know what to expect. Today was no different.

We’d packed everything up and were about to leave the woods when he stopped us. He pulled out a book and said he wanted to share a quote with the boys and I. Steve told us the story of when it was first shared with him and when it came up a second time for him.

“I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one. It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves. I had not lived there a week before my feet wore a path from my door to the pond-side; and though it is five or six years since I trod it, it is still quite distinct. It is true, I fear, that others may have fallen into it, and so helped to keep it open. The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men; and so with the paths which the mind travels. How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity! I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. I do not wish to go below now.”

Henry David Thoreau – Walden

For many reasons – including the obvious first line – this was such a perfect way to wrap up our time in the woods. As I’ve mentioned to several friends and within this blog I’ve felt depending yearning to be in the wilderness. When the time comes to go back to reality I can completely understand and appreciate the quote above. I had never heard this quote before, or if I have I was not ready to really hear it and receive it.

Hearing Steve read it while my boys listened was wild. I am not sure that they truly get it yet, but I hope it is a seed that will lay in their souls until it’s the right time for it to truly sprout.

When I got home I hopped online to re-read the quote. Not only did it resonate even more deeply, I happened upon the next paragraph in the book after this one.

I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

Henry David Thoreau – Walden

This paragraph also hit me right between the eyes. Over the past week as I’ve spent time in thought and reflected on my goals and dreams for next year and how I wish to live into them I can’t help but find more inspiration in Thoreau’s paragraph. How true it is that by even living in the directions of our dreams we can start to find success? Time to build the foundations.

Escaping to the wilderness has always been music for my soul. Sitting alone by the campfire before anyone else awoke this morning gifted me the opportunity to enjoy a serenity that can only be found alone and in the wild. There was only nature and I and we enjoyed each other’s company. Hearing Steve’s spontaneous reading from Thoreau added more depth and context to that experience.

Steve – thanks for the awesome quote, it is greatly appreciated!!!


Day 1,555 – Thankful for Nights with a View Like This

Tonight’s blog is being written from inside of my wildly comfortable and surprisingly warm CRUSA Koala 2 hammock. As we wind down for the night I thought it’s be a great time to chill and type my blog.

While often I’m overly verbose, tonight’s a little different. I’m thankful for this view of the fire as we chilled out and shot the bull around it. I’m thankful for this opportunity to sleep out in the wild and breath only the freshest of air with only a thin layer of Mylar separating my face from the heavens. I’m thankful for the opportunity to create life long memories with my boys while sharing old memories and stories with my buddy Steve.

I am thankful for enjoying the view and enjoying this moment to its fullest.


Day 1,554 – Thankful for an Unexpected Benefit of 2020, 17 Extra Days

At the end of December there’s a form I always have to fill out showing how many business miles I’ve driven that year. The total has bounced around some pretty high numbers over the past handful of years. With several offices spread out over a few hours away there hasn’t been a shortage of windshield time.

2020 has certainly changed many things. One of the differences really hit me when I completed my mileage form today. I drove approximately 25,000 less miles this year! That number seemed huge and then I did the math…

Let’s say I averaged 60 miles per hour for that entire 25,000 miles. That would mean I drove about 417 hours… over 17 days!!! If I assume I sleep 8 hours a night and all my driving was done during active hours it was the equivalent of 26 days, almost 4 weeks!

No wonder I’ve felt like I’ve had more time in my life this year. More time for work, more time for life, more time for everything.

Yes, there have been a ton of challenges this year. That said, I’m very grateful for the gift of the one resource that I can never make more of… time.


Day 1,553 – Thankful for Clamps

“I love it when a plan comes together.”

John “Hannibal” Smith

If you’re scratching your head at the quote above I think it’s safe to say you weren’t watching one of the greatest television shows of the mid-80’s. Check out The A-Team and you’ll understand the quote and it’s context tonight. At one point tonight in my workshop I almost felt like I could kick up my, fire up a cigar, and utter that infamous catchphrase.

Many moons ago Dad told me that one day I wouldn’t be able to out muscle the problems I’d face while woodworking. He said I’d have to find ways to work smarter instead of harder. The time when this still makes me smile most is thinking back to pulling out our kitchen cabinets. I was beating up on one stuck unit and had worked myself into a lather. Dad laughed, asked me to pass him the crow bar, and studied the stubborn cabinet. With a wink he took a few seconds to position the crow bar in a very specific spot and lightly nudged it. Next thing I knew and the cabinet was loose. “Think first and make every movement count.”

One of his “smart” weapons of choice were clamps. It’s taken me longer than I’d like to admit to understand why he was so enamored with these pressure creating devices. They are such a versatile tool and have helped to save my butt on many occasions, specifically several over the past couple of weeks. Try as I might to get everything perfect and square there are just times when wood does whatever wood decides it wants to do. I can either try to get creative or I can use my head and grab a few clamps to apply pressure in just the right place.

When I started blogging a handful of years ago days like today were very much what I had in mind. How many times have I used a clamp to make life easier and yet this is the first time I’ve actually paused to give thanks for this amazing tool. My blood pressure would be much higher if it wasn’t for them 😉


Day 1,552 – Thankful for Living “The Kreiling Paradox” Today

LOL – I am still laughing at how I’ve found a way to fit this much life into one day! The alarm is going to ring a little earlier than I’d like it to, but what’s a dude to do? The little extra tired feeling is a very small price to pay for a wonderfully jam packed day.

What I’m most thankful for today are days like this. After burning the candle on both ends (in a healthy way) I’m in a hurry to write my blog and go to bed. I really don’t want to short change the day, but the day was so packed I’m exhausted! To follow up from yesterday’s blog post maybe I should deem it “The Kreiling Paradox.”

Living a day to its fullest, so much so that by the end you’d really like to write about all of it, but you’re so exhausted that you rush through your gratitude for it because you’re ready to crash in bed.

The Kreiling Paradox

Long story short, I am also thankful for saying yes to a hike. There’s a time sensitive project I wanted to work on in my woodshed today, but Becky and Gavin were going to go for a hike while Dominic went snowboarding. I followed my own advice – when someone asks you to go on vacation with them, exercise with them, or hike with them, the answer is always yes. To this day I’ve yet to regret going on a hike instead of doing whatever else I was going to do.

We headed out to Wildcat Mountain State Park and enjoyed a winter wonderland completely devoid of anyone else. The only company we had on the trails were the three deer watching us from a hillside. Being in the wild is always music for my soul, the snow added even more peacefulness and serenity to the time out there. I’m excited to head back down to that neck of the woods later this week.

It was a little snowy 😉

After getting home I went up and got to work on my project. Part of it didn’t turn out as I’d like so I started over which was simultaneously frustrating and liberating at the same time. The hours flew by as I made tremendous progress in spite of the do over.

Before sitting down to blog I opted for a board game with the boys. We’d played Wingspan for the first time last night and LOVED it so we fired it back up again. I probably should have looked at the clock before starting the game, but again, I’m so grateful for the time I had with the boys playing games and joking around. What an excellent way to wrap up the weekend.

Time to crash and enjoy falling asleep before my head hits the pillow!


Day 1,551 – Thankful for the Stockdale Paradox & the Similarities to Man’s Search for Meaning

Something that has really hit me for several reasons is the concept of the Stockdale Paradox, a concept made famous by Jim Collins in the book Good to Great. You can read about it in more detail here (and I highly recommend you do as I won’t do nearly the justice it deserves).

The extremely short version is that when Admiral Jim Stockdale was taken as a POW he noticed that there were people of a certain mindset who survived (as he did through SEVEN years or so of being held captive and tortured) and people of another mindset who died of a broken heart before they were able to experience freedom again. The biggest difference in mindset was optimism… and not for the better. Crazy, right?

The people who had this optimistic mindset that they would be released by a certain date would fall apart when that day came and went and nothing happened. They believed that they would be set free, but they also blindly believed that things would work out in a certain way and in a specific timeframe.

The people who survived were able to do a very Stoic balancing act. They firmly believed that everything would work out. Many believed that their experience, horrific as it may be, would be something that would transform them for the better. They would survive and become stronger as a result of the experience. This would be a defining chapter in their lives. The ones who survived had an unwavering belief that they would make it.

They balanced that mindset while confronting the brutal facts around them. There was no timeline in which they could count on this to end. There was no specific way they would get out. There were terrible things happening to them that they had to survive, and those terrible things would continue to an undetermined amount of time. They dealt with the brutal facts while holding onto their unwavering faith that everything would work out.

What’s interesting is that this is very similar to what Viktor Frankl shared in Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl said that those who set a falsely optimistic goal of being set free by a certain time often fell apart once their self-imposed deadline came and went. By focusing on something they created in their own head they pushed beyond what should have been possible, but then fell apart when things didn’t change on the other side of their fictional finish line. The ones who survived absorbed each moment and knew that it may continue forever – though their faith was that they would find a way to utilize their suffering to make the world a better place. The survivors found purpose in their suffering and decided they must survive – no matter how long it continued – in order to transform their suffering into purpose.

So why am I thankful for this today?

As 2020 keeps winding down there are more and more messages all around us portraying this epic shift in all of our lives at exactly 12:00 midnight on January 1, 2021. That’s not going to happen. Everything that is currently going on will continue into next year. Remembering these two examples is critical for my mind to to keep at its forefront right now. I’m finding it’s easy to let the changing of the calendar fool me into a false sense of security. It’s so easy for me to mentally skip past the next week and see it as a “throw away” as the last week of the year.

By remembering the Stockdale Paradox and Man’s Search for Meaning I am reminded to have unwavering faith that everything will work out in time. There is much I am able to control, my locus of control lies in my ability to choose my mindset and to live in the present knowing that there will be a brilliant future – in time. Regardless of what happens around me I will soak up all that happens and see it as opportunities to grow and become stronger. I will maintain my unwavering faith in the future while recognizing that any of the challenges of COVID are far from over. I do not know how long it will last, but I do know it will not last forever. I am grateful for the opportunity to be tested and to forge my soul through the current fire. It will all work out in the end, even if it is difficult and hurts in the moment.

Have faith that better days are ahead, live fully in each moment – even until this happens. Do not wish my life away for something out of my control. Even though it may hurt and cause discomfort it is the sensation of growth.

What a day we had in Maui only a couple of years ago. One day we will be back.


Day 1,550 – Thankful for a Very Kreiling Christmas

One of the things that is nice about being a red headed step child is that you learn to march to the beat of your own drum. Fortunately for me my family and I all march to the same crazy beat. Our Christmas Day has been a very “Kreiling” kind of day… and I am grateful for each moment of it.

The entire day has been filled with laughs and time together. We went for a drive to pick up the dogs. We made and ate a delicious meal together. We went for a walk together. We’re now chilling on the couch and watching a movie together.

Throughout the day we’ve spent a ton of time doing one of the things we enjoy most – playing games together. Between a gift from friends and gifts for the boys from us we had quite the pile of games to play. We didn’t quite get through playing each of them today, but we had a great time playing the ones we did!

Why I appreciate most about days like this is all the time we get to spend together. I can’t imagine a better way to spend Christmas than as a family like this. Laughs, smiles, love, and togetherness. It was a perfectly Kreiling Christmas.


Day 1,549 – Thankful for a Seven Minute Extreme Cold Meditation and the Residual Impact of Values Focus

While the day has been filled with many blessings there are two moments (or series of moments) which really stick out and are thing I haven’t blogged about in the past.

This morning after I showered I got only about halfway dressed. I donned only my shorts and a pair of shoes. I grabbed my phone and I stepped outside. In a temperature of approximately 1 degree (Fahrenheit), 85% humidity and 6mph winds I stood in only my shorts and shoes. For seven minutes I had couple of songs playing quietly in the background on my phone. I reached my arms out to maximize the surface area of the cold air. Over the next seven minutes I focused only on my breathing. It was incredible.

While breathing and doing nothing else but existing in the moment the present seemed more clear than ever. The birds quickly flew back to the nearby bird feeders and paid no attention to me. They quickly realized that I intended no harm to them and resumed their breakfast. The gusts of wind sent ghosts of snow across the field. Each inhale was intensely crisp in a profoundly satisfying way as I drew air in through my nose and expanded it from my belly up through my chest before exhaling.

Rather than hiding in “the pain cave” and avoiding the sensations I savored each every single second of it. Interestingly enough, I wasn’t cold in the least. The breathing and my practice in cold kept me plenty warm. Each time the wind would increase I would relish the feel of it going across my bare skin and tickling each hair as it rushed past. I felt intensely alive and was hyper tuned in to the present. What an excellent seven minute extreme cold meditation!

After spending many moments yesterday thinking about my personal values, purpose, and goals for next year there was a lot of residual impact today. Several times I caught myself about to act or about to say something and then thought back to my values. In an instant I was able to rinse it against the sieve of my values to catch the impurities. Unfortunately there were more times when I caught myself AFTER I’d already acted or said something. Nothing major, but mildly frustrating as it helped me see there’s a lot of gap for me to cover.

What I’m most grateful for about those moments today was the residual impact of focusing on my values yesterday. After spending time in thought on my values yesterday it brought them back to the forefront of my brain and I was much more cognizant of them. One of the “Top 3 Starting Doing” activities I’m considering this year is to start my morning with a quick review of my values. Today certainly has pushed me more strongly in that direction.


Day 1,548 – Thankful for 2020 and Reviewing My Dream Journal

This morning I saw an update on my phone talking about getting ready for the new year. The title of the article was something along the lines of “Good Riddance 2020.” Allow me to channel my inner Dennis Miller here. Now I don’t wanna go on a rant here, but….

I am thankful for 2020. I am not a fan of each of the individual challenges it has presented, but I am thankful for the year itself. Anything I survive is something I can find reasons to be grateful for. 2020 very much included. This year has been incredibly challenging on so many levels, but there are so many lessons I’ve learned this year that will have a lasting positive impact on my life. These lessons are largely those which can only be learned through adversity.

One of the biggest of these lessons is to appreciate each and every single minute, day, and year I have on Earth, 2020 included. If I were to push this year aside and do my best to rush past it I would be missing the point. If I were to look to slamming the door on 2020 and told it not to let the door hit it in the ass I’d risk not being fateful for each and every moment I had left in 2020.

If I were to die tomorrow and knew it would be the case would I rush it away as the entire year has been challenging? No way! I’d find a way to savor each last moment and breath – even the difficult parts. My time is so limited and finite, I must remember to appreciate each moment of it. As I’ve often learned, the most difficult moments in my life are often my turning points, my opportunity to grow and improve, to close the gap between who I am and who I should be, and have created and led to some of the most joyful memories of my life. Yes, it hurts in the moment, but if I’m smart I find a way to soak in the pain, use it as fuel, learn from it, use it, and live better and more joyfully as a result of it.

Good riddance 2020? Hell no! 2020 – thank you for the challenges you’ve presented. I would have preferred a little less adversity, but that was not in my control. 2020, you provided me opportunity to grow in many unexpected ways and while you’ve left some scars they are ones I’ll look to fondly as they helped me live more into the life I was meant to live. Thank you for showing me the power of gratitude to rise above pain, showing me more of the depth of the gap between who I am and I am should be, and for providing me opportunity to continue closing that gap. While I can’t honestly say I’ve enjoyed every moment of 2020, I’m grateful for each breath I’ve taken in 2020.

One of the lessons I’ve also learned from 2020 is how much I’ve let momentum and gravity guide my path over the past few years. There’ve been many reminders of what brings me the most joy in life, what I hope to accomplish, and habits I need to re-shape and focus on.

Fun fact, there’s a New Zealand $5 bill in my dream journal to remind me of one of my favorite long term dreams 😉

Earlier today I spent some quiet time reviewing my Dream Journal. I went through each of the past three dream lists I’ve created – each including over 100 dreams I hoped to accomplish. There’s also a section walking me through which ones I’ve already accomplished.

By taking time to review both it helped me see I need to spend time in thought re-creating / updating my dream list based on lessons learned over the past couple of years. Once I have those completed I can set my Top 3 goals for 2021 (although I’ve already started jotting some down) and then get my 2021 personal plans in line with where I feel called to be. This is very different than the past couple of years in which I’ve let momentum and gravity pull me along through life. I will live proactively and with purpose more so than I have in recent years.


Day 1,547 – Thankful for a Difficult yet Rewarding Mindset Shift and Thinking To 2021

Without getting into too much detail today was the culmination of a mindset shift I’ve been working of for a few years. It has been difficult and required many mental calisthenics while continuing to learn through mistakes.

Over the past handful of years my cohorts and mentors have been working with me on this shift. Mentally, it made perfect sense. However, sometimes there are habits that are very difficult to change. While hearing how much of a difference it would make I kept feeling the gravity of past action pull me back to what I’ve always done and what I’ve always known.

In many ways it fits the “ball in cup” model of regime change and resilience that Becky wrote about in her PhD thesis. Today felt like the point in which I went over the peak of the next cup and can feel the momentum pulling me towards the next stable state. I don’t know a better way to explain it other than how incredible it felt to have a sense of positive progress.

What’s most interesting is the different sensation of reward that came from this mindset than from the previous one. It was more profound and also showed so many more opportunities. I’m so grateful for everyone who has helped push me to this point!

Something else that’s been on my mind a lot is a practice a business mentor follow each year. They look ahead to the next year and set their Top 3 goals for the next calendar year. They then look at the Top 3 Supporting goals for those Top 3 goals. Once they have those goals (6 in total) written out they then look at what are the Top 3 things they need to STOP doing to accomplish their goals. They then move to setting the Top 3 things they need to remember in order to meet their goals. These lists are what they review at the very beginning of each day to help guide them through what is the most important.

When I heard this the first time I thought about how time consuming it would be to do this – setting it at the start of the year and then reviewing that list each and every single day. And then I started thinking… What are the three biggest goals I would like to accomplish in the next year? What would I need to stop doing? What would I need to start doing? All day long my brain has been thinking on this topic.

Over the next week I’ll be spending time in thought and jotting notes to myself to get this list down. Over the past almost 2,000 days I’ve taught myself how to one activity daily, one that is time consuming and requires additional thought and is grit intensive… and it’s had a tremendous positive impact on my life. Why could I not do one more thing daily to more deeply enhance the joy in my life?