Thankful for Quiet Time On the Sandbar and On the Deck – as a Family

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So much has gone on in the past week… highs, lows, and everything in between. There have been many moments of chaos, of tears, of laughter, of smiles, and of frustration. When I went to bed Sunday night I thought it was going to be a pretty chill week. By the time I went to bed last night it had been a pretty ridiculous one instead!

After Dominic cleaned up the wreckage of a sleepover with friends and a zombie-Gavin rose from the grave known as his bed after a post-week of scout cam slumber, we all headed out to the pontoon and got settled on our normal sandbar on the Mississippi River. Even LuLu was back to her almost puppy like self as we relaxed on the beach. We all read, relaxed, talked a little, but mainly just enjoyed each others company while relaxing.

Once we got home we each showered up and headed out to church. Becky took us out to the Greek restaurant downtown and we had a meal as a family. It was pretty chill as we are all pretty zonked, but it was a perfect opportunity to kick back and chill.

To wrap up the night we’re all out on the deck enjoying the incredible weather. Dominic and Gavin are both laying next to LuLu and joking around about some goofy game on their phones. Becky is reading a book that I’m excited to talk about more in the future and I’m here blogging and soon to be reading. We may not be all interacting, playing a game, or doing something big as a family, but we are all relaxing and enjoying quiet time as a family. Just being in the presence of each other to relax and enjoy quiet after such a wild week is exactly what I needed.

Sure, I’m usually a dude of action. Tonight I’m enjoying the opportunity to share a night of inaction with my family as we all soak in the quiet on the deck together.


Thankful for Leadership Wisdom from Gavin

Day 2,132

Tonight was Gavin’s last day of Scout camp. This year he was the Senior Patrol Leader (SPL) for the troop which meant he was responsible for leading his fellow scouts for the week. This involved organizing who was doing what, keeping their camp clean, and making sure everyone was in the right place at the right time. He helped his troop win the Honor Troop award for being the most organized and spirited troop – woo hoo!

On our way home he was telling us about what he learned about leading and he summed it up pretty well in one sentence…

When you’re the leader it like you have to do all of the jobs, but it’s also like you’re really doing none of them.

Gavin Kreiling

Amen bud!!!! You nailed it in so many ways!

Congrats on also being elected to Order of the Arrow – super proud of you dude!!!


Thankful Being Off Balance


At Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) yoga there was a moment when I was arching back into a modified bridge on my board. There was a great deal of wind and the water was a bit bumpy, yet somehow I still managed to find myself looking at the world from an inverted view in which the shimmering water was on top and the sun peeking through the clouds was on the bottom. I was spellbound by the beauty of the clouds in the sky, they were positioned just right to scatter the sunlight into a dozen or so bright beams of light. The clouds blocked the sun directly but still created beauty.

In my head I kept thinking back to the Anthony de Mello line from an old saying. “The nature of rain is the same, yet it grows thorns in the marshes and flowers in the garden.”

As that line was echoing through my head a slightly bigger wave of gust of wind or my own lack of coordination caused me to completely lose my balance. I barely caught myself before falling off the board and into the lake.

I took a deep breath, focused, and got back at it… with wisdom which can only be learned through trial and error.

…and that’s when it all started to slip into place.

So much of the last week has been a cycle of being balanced and the knocked off balance. Valleys followed by peaks and peaks followed by valleys. Just as I get my code centered and my feet under me there’s something else pushing me off balance. For sure, it has really frustrated the shit out of me!

In that moment on the board it all came together though. While many of the events causing the imbalance really suck, like the prospect of losing a beloved dog, they are all lessons I can learn from, events I can grow through. They still profoundly hurt, but I can be better if I learn from them.

Being knocked off balance strengthens us. Our muscles strengthen, our coordination gets smoother, and it will take a much larger or different force to knock us off again. If I remember to learn from this, to grow through this, I will be better because of it. The events that hurt and sting are the ones which can help me better balance myself in the future.

I would really appreciate some calm water, some stable ground, but if that’s not what’s presented I’ll use the experiences to grow stronger, to better close the gap between who I am and who I am called to be.


Thankful for Smiles and Snuggles on the Deck

Day 2,129

The majority of my time at home this evening has been spent snuggling with LuLu. She really wanted to be out on the deck so she could enjoy all the smells in the world while I rubbed her belly and snuggled up with her. As soon as I’d stop or if I wasn’t rubbing the right way LuLu would quickly redirect me to get back to work in the right places. She’s still spunky after all these years.

For a while I laid with my head next to her, an arm around her and letting her shoulder. I focused on watching LuLu smile and it was awesome. She’s really got it figured out, living in the present moment, enjoying the outdoors, and relaxing with loved ones. That’s all she really wants and was 100% engrossed in nothing but the present. I did my best to take her lead and was quickly lost in the clouds, the color of the sky, the greens of the leaves in the tree overhead. I focused on the warmth of LuLu’s body against my face, the way the light reflected in her eyes, but especially the smile on her face.

Thanks for reminding me to live in the now LuLu! The smiles and snuggles were exactly what I needed.


Thankful for Being Humbled By and Learning From Loss

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Our LuLu is definitely showing her age more and more quickly each day. She’s got some serious elbow issues that are causing a great deal of pain. The vet has her on a few doses of pain pills to help until we figure out if there’s any viable way to help her get healthy-ish.

LuLu has quickly brought the specter of loss into my life again. In many ways I know Death awaits us all, but when it gets close enough to sense it feels like a whole different level of awareness.

This evening I couldn’t help but chuckle at a somber realization that here I am, my book about grief just about to be published, and I’m humbled the impending sense of loss. We haven’t even gotten the worst of news, yet the feeling of loss is already catching like wildfire… and it feels wildly humbling. There is zero control I have in this part of the future, I have a similar feeling to being in Iceland alongside the mountains – I am so powerless and insignificant compared to the power of death and of nature.

While this feels (& sounds) very dark in many levels, there’s also an appreciation for the sensation buried down deep past the emotions. If I allow myself to look into the abyss of loss and don’t struggle in futility to gain control the sense of being completely humbled can feel oddly comforting and centering. I can only control how I respond, how i react, and how I process the moment. Truly letting go and accepting the lack of control, the tremendous powerlessness allows me to more clearly focus on choosing my response, how I frame the loss, and how I find purpose in the loss. It still hurts like hell, but there is a faint glimmer to be found when I look deeply enough for it.

We feel the fullest loss for those who we’ve loved most. The more the hurt, the more the love there’s been. As someone put it when Dad was dying, “don’t be sad for what you’ve lost, rejoice and be grateful for what you’ve had.”

As I laid next to LuLu on the deck, snuggled with her, and rubbed her belly I was on used on all we’ve been blessed to enjoy together. She’s brought me so many smiles, so much joy, and more love than I’d dreamt possible from a furry companion. LuLu has created so many awesome memories I will cherish forever and continue to talk with family about for as long as I’m blessed to walk the earth. I’m so fortunate for all the love she’s given in our years and years together.

I’m thinking back to what I learned from losing Dad I’m also reminded to more deeply appreciate each moment I get with her. She’s not gone yet, and who knows, she could still be with us for a very long time. One of the beauties of loss (& yes, I just said that) is the reminder it provides us to appreciate each moment we have. The specter of loss may be looming, but it doesn’t have to create shade.

As the old saying goes, “the nature of rain is the same, but it makes thorns grow in the marshes and flowers in the gardens.

Tonight I’m choosing to embrace the specter of loss. I will use it to create flowers in the garden of now until my tears water the flowers of tomorrow.


Thankful for the Quiet Time for Contemplation at Church

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Our church recently merged with another church for a variety of reasons. As can be expected the changes have caused an increased awareness of so many things related to church. The two masses we normally go to were both switched to the “new” church. Many of “our” traditions were kept while blending some of “their” customs as well. Whichever church one started at there has been plenty of change to keep them on their toes.

During the quiet space that church creates, especially the 10 minutes before service starts, allows so much room for thought and contemplation. There are no distractions to be found and there isn’t much conversation. In that quiet space I have time to think…

Today that space helped me see a huge gap I must work on, remembering that I both don’t know everyone’s story and need to remember that each fellow human is my brother. I caught myself thinking about others rather than talking with them. I thought differently of “them” when I really should have been focused on “us.” So many changes I need to work on internally to be a better human. They thoughts and lessons from that quiet time today will resonate with me throughout the next weeks and help me be cognizant of the gap while also working to close it.

What a gift!


Thankful for Running Into a Dream in Real Life

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Just as we were about to start our hike at Twin Bluffs State Park we happened to notice a fantastic camper van in the parking lot. I quickly started up a conversation with the owner and learned a ton about the van itself. It was a beauty!!!

Throughout the day I was researching more about this model as well as other camper vans for Becky and I to look at. We’ve dreamt of giving ourselves a gift for Gavin’s graduation, something we will use to keep knocking out our travel dreams once we are empty nesters. Spending time dreaming was pretty awesome today, so glad we ran into a dream in real life!


Thankful for Real Life “Origin Stories”

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During our NextGen Leadership Retreat we were fortunate to hear from two Express franchisees. They both shared their life stories with us to help us see all the different paths we have taken to grow into this role. There were laughs, tears, hugs, and so many notes taken. Having the opportunity to hear someone’s real life “origin story” is a powerful thing. So many times we don’t know all the challenges people have faced to rise up to where they’ve grown. As someone who’s shared their story the same way I can say how humbling it is to open up and share all the good, GM bad, & ugly – but yet it is so easy as it is done out of love to help others grow and find their path.

If you were to share your story, what would you include? What are the most important turning points and paths you have taken? Why have they had such a profound impact? In taking time to just sketch it out there is so much to learn about ourselves.

Today I was blessed to hear two incredible stories while also having time to think about my own. So much food for thought!


Thankful for Being Okay with Being the First One to Bed

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The alarm will be going off early tomorrow morning. I always do better and feel better during the day if I get my run in early.

Back in the day I worried more about what people would think of me for going to bed early. Now I realize I need to take care of my physical and mental health if I want to be the best version of me.

Ego, so tiny and truly insignificant yet so overpowering when not kept in check.

Time for bed!