Day 1,615 – Thankful for Rest and Taking Adam Grant’s Advice

Last night I did something crazy. Becky and the boys were up at her parent’s house for the weekend while I stayed back due to work yesterday. This meant I had the house all to myself for the night. Usually that means I’d watch a few movies, chill out on the couch, listen to some music, and then eventually go to bed sometime around midnight wondering where the hours had gone. Last night I tried something pretty wild… I was in bed before 8pm!

When I got out of bed this morning it was just after 7am. I woke fully rested after a wonderful almost eleven hours of sleep. Over the past few weekends I hadn’t gotten as much sleep as normal and I’d gotten out of my normal weekend rhythm. Last night got me caught right back up with where I should be on a regular basis. I got out of bed with a little extra spring in my step and got to work on what I wanted to accomplish for the day right away in the morning. Amazing what that much sleep can do for my attitude and mindset!

While getting some of my tasks knocked out today I took some advice from Adam Grant and took in a different opinion. During the Democratic primaries I pretty much wrote off Andrew Yang right from the start. His idea of a universal basic income sounded ridiculous to me on the surface. I scoffed at it, laughed at it, and thought it was a horrible idea without giving it any more than a fleeting thought. When people would mention it I would politely move on to the next topic and couldn’t understand why they would ever think that it would be a good idea.

As luck would have it I was looking for something I’d seem a long time ago. It was a graph showing not just the typical “Left v Right” of American politics on the X axis, but it also incorporated a Y axis – Authoritarian at the top, Libertarian at the bottom. I’ve never felt my views really fit either the Democratic or Republican ideals and often find myself voting both sides of the aisle. This chart reminded me that there is another dynamic and maybe I have a bit of a different view than others. When I found the chart it also showed where all of the 2020 presidential candidates fell on the chart. Low and behold, Andrew Yang was the closest to where my personal beliefs are. I hopped online, did a little research on Yang and found that he’d written a book, The War on Normal People. In a matter of minutes I was downloading the audio version.

His book was very interesting and got my head going in many directions at once. To be clear, I’m not in 100% agreement with him on everything, I haven’t decided I would vote for him, or am not sure how I feel about his “Freedom Dividend.” What I do know is that by listening to someone else’s differing thoughts I had to pause and question some of my own ideas. There was information that was a little different than I was expecting. There were interpretations of happenings that were different than I’d heard in the past. All in all, my brain got some wonderful exercise in while listening to the book and it has me thinking more deeply – rather re-thinking more deeply on some of the ideas I’ve had in the past. Reading the book has definitely widened my perspective.

If you’re looking for an interesting take on why labor participation has been dropping I would highly recommend it. If you have a book recommendation for me please let me know in the comments section as well – I’m working on being more and more open minded to books outside of my current personal perspective.


Day 1,614 – Thankful for the Learning the Story Behind the Creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

Normally at this time of the year I’m flying to a different part of the country for training and a celebration of the previous year with Express. Last year at about this time we were all in Nashville and were wondering what this COVID stuff was all about and wondering what impact it may have on our business. Never in a million years would I have guessed how different the world would become just a few weeks later.

Thanks to the power of technology we were able to still have the meeting this year, albeit virtual instead of in person. The main speaker this morning was Richard Montanez, the creator/inventor of Flamin Hot Cheetos. I had not heard of him before and was not sure what to expect from his presentation.

From the beginning of his presentation I was hooked. He shared his personal backstory, how he’d grown up, and how he went from being a janitor at Frito Lay to presenting his wild new idea to the CEO. You can check out much of it yourself at – it’s a wild story!

What I appreciated the most about Richard’s story was his grit and how he looks at the world differently. As a janitor he volunteered to ride along with a sales rep on his day off to learn more about the business. Once he had an idea he kept driving and pushing until he got it presented. He saw a niche and an opening where no one else did.

This morning it reminded me to focus on my passion, to push towards my dreams, and to stay gritty while looking t the world through my own eyes. I may never come up with something as wild as Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, but I’ll credit Richard for a little bit of whatever it is I do come up with. His speech this morning was some pretty awesome dream fuel.

Whoever would’ve thought the backstory of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos would be inspirational?


Day 1,613 – Thankful for a Milestone Moment, Dominic’s Probationary Driver’s License

Whew, another milestone today! I took a short break from work this afternoon to drive Dominic to the DMV. Today marks the halfway point between 15 and 16 for him so he wanted to get his temporary driving permit. He flew through the test with flying colors and walked out with a paper copy of his license… and a huge smile.

When we got off the interstate on the way home I pulled to the side of the road. We both got out, switched seats, and then I saw this:

The next thing I knew we were cruising down a quiet road coaching him on how to drive. It’s all easy when it’s online, it’s another thing the first time another car is coming towards you. He did an excellent job and knocked out his first 15 minutes of driving. He’ll certainly be doing more of that in the near future.

My mind is blown thinking about how quickly he’d growing up. Dad always said time would fly by more and more quickly and I’m really seeing that now.

So proud of him for getting this license and getting one step closer to adulthood.


Day 1,612 – Thankful for Un-swollen Knees and Reminders of Ocean Vacations

First things first, I am grateful for healthy and un-swollen knees this morning! After some icing a couple of times yesterday my knees were back to normal this morning and I was able to run with no issues whatsoever. Yesterday I was thankful for the reminder of how blessed I am to have no normal knee issues. Today I was grateful for no pain and no swelling in my knees. Feeling healthy is one of the best blessings I could ever ask for.

As we wind down for the night the boys and I opted for an episode of River Monsters. While watching Jeremy Wade solve the mystery of which fish killed people in the Atlantic Ocean we were reminded of many memories of our times on the ocean together. Snorkeling over sharks. Seeing dolphins and seals playin in the water. Observing some of the blue-set blue ocean water. Getting close to volcanic islands in the middle of the ocean.

I’m grateful for the memories of our ocean vacations, especially seeing as we haven’t been able to go for a while. I’m also especially thankful for the opportunities we took to make so many memories in the ocean. Watching these episodes with the benefit of real life experience makes it even cooler… and it brings back some awesome memories!


Day 1,611 – Thankful for Swollen Knees

For the most part I wasn’t in too bad of shape this morning after my first snowboarding experience last night. As the day went on it felt like the legs of my pants were not quite feeling right. At one point in the afternoon I took a closer look at what was going on and was shocked to find my knees were both pretty swollen. They didn’t hurt, but they were definitely not looking good. Usually I work at a standing desk and that extra work coupled with the snowboarding experience last night left them a little worse for wear. I grabbed a couple of ice bags, sat down, and elevated my legs while I worked. In no time the swelling was already starting to subside.

The ice bags reminded me of a time a long time ago (like almost 20 years ago). Way back in the day when I weighed a lot more than I do now we took a trip to Glacier National Park. After our hike to Iceberg Lake I was pretty much in tears because my knee hurt so bad. The hills and trail had left my knees all beat up, especially the downhills.

My knees were terrible back in the day due to a variety of reasons. They would hurt after almost any physical activity. After awhile I just got used to the consistent pain. It really sucked.

The way my knees feel today is nothing at all like they used to feel. Today the only sensation is the feeling of them being swollen and almost stretching the skin above and below my kneecap. No pain, but just enough of a reminder to take me back to the memories of what they had been.

After losing 60+ pounds and changing my running style my knees have been fantastic! I’m so fortunate to have had both a condition that was curable AND found the solutions to fix them. Since those two changes I’ve been able to hike without issues, run marathons without pain (in the knees), bike as much as I want, and have pretty much no limitations (I’m still hesitant to put the broom ball shoes back on).

Today my knees may be a little swollen, and I’m thankful that they are. Thanks to the swelling I’m reminded of how blessed I’ve been to have had such knee health since the issues I used to have. The sensation of swelling reminds me to be grateful for the normal lack of swelling and lack of limitations I’ve had due to my knees.


Day 1,610 – Thankful for Learning to Snowboard, Coach Dominic, and the Joy of Being a Beginner

LOL – while I’m grateful for something specific now, we’ll see how I’m doing tomorrow morning when I wake up. It might be a pretty rough run. 😉

Earlier in the year Gavin and I talked about learning to snowboard. Life got busy (doesn’t it always – even when we live intentionally?) and now the ski/snowboard season is almost done and we had not gone snowboarding.

On our run this morning Becky made a comment about taking Dominic snowboarding sometime this week or next before the snow melted. Something clicked in my head, I checked my calendar and saw I had a window to pick him up, drop him at the ski hill, and would pick him up later. I asked him about it and he was pretty pumped. Later in the day he texted and said it would be a great night for Gavin and I to go with and he’d teach us how to snowboard. How cool is that? Next thing we knew we changed our plans and headed to the hill right after work.

Dominic and his buddy did an awesome job of coaching and teaching Gavin and I how to snowboard. He was right alongside of us coaching us through each step and maneuver. When direction was needed, he gave it. When support and motivation were needed, he gave it. Dominic did an absolutely fantastic job of catching the two of us snowboarding rookies for a couple of hours.

Gavin and I were high five-ing each other after some of our turns, laughing hard at our spills, and enjoyed learning something new. At no point did either of us get frustrated or discouraged, we just kept going up, trying things, improving incrementally, and then doing it again. It was a blast!

The humility of starting something new was so calming and peaceful as always. Something about getting into the learning mindset before attempting it really makes it go from something scary to a wildly joyful event – even when I really sucked at it from the start! Nothing like being a novice to set the entire ego aside to focus on being okay with starting from scratch and building from a starting point of nothing.

All in all, I had so much fun learning to snowboard with the boys tonight. It’s a night I’ll remember forever and one I’ll draw ongoing motivation from. If I can be okay with and enjoy hurling my 44 year old self down a hill covered in snow with a board attached to both my feet, laugh at myself while falling, and get back up to attempt it again I’m pretty sure I can be okay learning just about anything new.

As I started with, we’ll see how I feel in the morning 😉


Day 1,609 – Thankful for Sticking With It

I am a self-diagnosed sufferer of “Shiny Syndrome.” This affliction is closely related to “SQUIRREL!!! Disorder” and can lead me in the wrong direction from time to time. For those of you who are more inclined to stay focused and on one path both of these fun diagnoses mean that when something catches my attention I tend to lose track of what I was focused on then follow the new thing. In the case of “Shiny Syndrome” I’m usually drawn to something shiny, glittering, or bright.

Throughout life I have a tendency to see something shiny and create a big shiny dream to go with it. I’ll focus on it (thank you Gollum for defining it as “my precious”) and latch on to it… until a new shiny thing becomes my new precious.

What’s been interesting to me is the shift in my morning behavior to start my mornings. For almost two months now I’ve kept the same process going. On a daily basis I’m finding I live “into” who I want to be more and more often than at any other point in my life. I’m more focused on my goals and have them in mind as I take action.

There have been many things I’ve been grateful for today and I’m finding that many of them have a common theme… they were inspired, at least in part, by my sticking with the morning routine. By intentionally reminding myself each morning what I want to accomplish and who I am as I live into those goals I’m more naturally living into the person I want to be. Sticking with it certainly seems to be paying off!


Day 1,608 – Thankful for Another Epic Playlist Curated by Rick

Everyone has a slightly different taste in music. We each have our favorite types of music, instruments, types of lyrics, and so on. Even if we have best friends who have a lot in common there are apt to be many differences in musical opinion. One person is more a Lord Huron type, another is more of a jazz fan, others are Pearl Jam dudes, and maybe even a Tool fan thrown in for good measure.

My buddy Rick has a knack for noticing and listening for what types of music each of his friends enjoy listening to. When the opportunity is right he’ll spend hours of time building an epic playlist that will scratch the musical itch for all involved. To be honest, it is an art. How he’s able to find ways to take old favorites and combine them with more niche artists and songs that we’ve never heard before to create a unique musical experience. I’d put his brain up against the algorithms of Pandora and I’d bet that Rick would win.

His most recent endeavor has left me listening to music in the periphery of my day. I’ve downloaded more new music in the past 48 hours than I have in the past several months. The music has led to great conversations and has left me smiling throughout much of the day. Heck, did you know that you can play a game called “Guess which of the songs off of the Dixie Chicks album Taking the Long Way were written by Dan Wilson of SemiSonic.” If you’re a fan of Closing Time and Singing In My Sleep you’ll probably pick them out pretty quickly!

For reals, I am also truly thankful for so much and so many deep emotions today I’m sure I’ll write about one day in a future blog. They’re just not quite ready to be written about, they need more time in the cave to age. In the meantime I’ll spend more time listening to great tunes I’d never heard before.


Day 1,607 – Thankful for the Days When I Need to Remember the Purpose of My Blog

Once in a while my blog could get in the way of its own purpose. Crazy, right? How does that work?

The reason I started blogging about my daily gratitude was to be more grateful for the many blessings in my life each day. Essentially it was to live more intentionally in the present through taking time to appreciate it.

If I wrote a crazy long blog today it would get in the way of appreciating the moment as I live it. I’m currently having a blast hanging out with a friend of over four decades. It’s a rarity for us to have time together and I’m going to appreciate each and every minute we get to hang out.

All that said, I’m thankful for remembering to stay focused in the moment and live the intention of my blog by staying in the moment.


Day 1,606 – Thankful for a Day When a Simple Quote From The Shawshank Redemption Says Everything That Needs to be Said

I find I’m so excited that I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel. A free man at a start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.

Ellis “Red” Redding, The Shawshank Redemption