Day 1,370 – Thankful for a Nonstop Thrill Ride of a Week That’s Left Me Feeling Exhausted AND Refreshed & Relaxed

I’m feeling pretty exhausted tonight. In a very good way. It’s been 11 days since I was last at work. Thinking back on it now I am kind of in shock. How exactly did we fit that much life into that period of time? Over one thousand miles of driving. Activities of some sort or another with family each and every single day. Finding ways to work some alone time in as well. In many ways it seems like the week and a half off has been more like a month or two! How awesome is that? Bonus time without having to take bonus time!

When I put it all together my head is spinning a bit. Not out of being tired or over exertion or anything, rather trying to figure out how we broke the time space continuum. For reals, when I put it all together I’m not sure how this all worked out so well:

  • Friday night: Pack up for camping / dollar store challenge
  • Saturday: Dollar Store Challenge – wilderness survival with the boys and Steve
  • Sunday: Come home from camping, go out on the boat, pack up to leave on Monday
  • Monday: Drive up to the UP, spend time on Lake Superior, go for a long walk
  • Tuesday: Walk the Lake of the Clouds area – 8+ mile hike, go for a walk after supper
  • Wednesday: Hike the Mirror Lake trail 8+ miles, long family bike ride
  • Thursday: Drive to waterfalls, go to top of Copper Peak, chill on the beach of Lake Superior
  • Friday: Long bike ride on way home, drive to Union Grove, have a wonderful time hanging out with family
  • Saturday: Uncle Frank’s funeral, drive back to La Crosse, family walk, chill for a movie on the couch
  • Sunday (today): Early AM bike ride with Becky, out on the boat with the boys, read in the sun on the beach, games with the boys, family walk, chill time

Dang, I’m even more exhausted after I read the list again! That said, it’s a wonderful kind of exhausted. I’m not stressed, worried or dreading going back to work, nothing like that. I’ve got that same deep state of chill I’ve had all week long.

The funny thing is that this all happened off an idea Becky had not too long ago. We were supposed to have a couple of other vacations this year but COVID had other plans for us. I’m so glad she talked me into taking a week off to do a mini vacation like this, it was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Time to head off to bed, I’ll take all the sleep I can get tonight (and probably tomorrow night too!).

Thanks!!!

Day 1,369 – Thankful for Time with Extended Family & Uncle Frank’s Legacy

Today we said goodbye to one of the all time greats, Uncle Frank.

While he wasn’t physically with us last night I’m still sure Uncle Frank was nearby as many of my relatives and I spent time with each other. There were several times when I’d catch a little of Grandma and Grandpa in the smiles and comments of my aunts and cousins as well. Each of those moments brought a little extra joy to my heart.

One of my favorite themes of memories with Mom’s side of the family revolve around time spent around the dining room table. Last night was an extension of so many of those past wonderful times. The huge group of us all hung out around the dining room table and talked, laughed, shared memories, and caught up with each other. That time together was priceless and leaves me excited in anticipation of our next family get together. Thank you so much Aunt Peg & Uncle Tom for opening your home to all of us so we could share that time together!

Over the past week since Uncle Frank passed away I’ve spent time thinking about why I am thankful for my time with him.

As a nephew there are so many incredible moments he created like taking us to a Brewers game way back in the mid-80’s. Those memories are treasures to hold onto tightly. They are those first person direct contact moments in which I’ll always think of his big smile, larger than life positive personality, and his big hugs.

Over the past few weeks I’ve become more and more grateful for something else, the indirect stories and memories of others. There have been so many beautiful stories shared about Uncle Frank by so many people. Stories of the positive impact he made in their lives. Stories of his positive and upbeat attitude. Story after story after story about his selflessness. And if I thought I’d must have heard most of them by now imagine my surprise when his eulogy added more and more layers as well!

The lasting positive impact he made on so many people is awe inspiring. I’m grateful to have heard so many of these stories as they are a wonderful reminder of the legacy we can leave when we live for others first. The legacy he left for all of us continued even after his passing – one of the reading choices he made for the funeral mass today was a great reminder of taking care of others, praying for others, and staying focused on helping others rather than ourselves.

As I’ve had quiet time to reflect over the past week it’s led me to realize there are some things I need to work on. Having Uncle Frank’s legacy to look back on and use as a guidepost is something I’ll be forever grateful for.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,368 – Thankful for Enjoying Every Last Minute of Vacation and Transcendent Vacation Thoughts

The last day of vacation is usually a kind of odd one. Often it’s that time to pack up, head home, and start getting back to reality. It’s a time when the transition to real life starts. So odd, isn’t it? Going from a state of total relaxation back to the stresses of reality. If I answered honestly it mostly likely always my least favorite or least memorable day.

Due to a variety of consequences today was very different from other last days of vacation. Instead of just heading home we decided to enjoy every ounce of family vacation time possible. We slept in a little. We drove a little and then got out on our bikes to explore some beautiful trails. Healthy lunch? Nope, half of it was ice cream – the same lunch we started with on Monday. All in all it had a very different feel than past end of vacation days.

This got my brain flowing in a few different directions this evening.

What if that beautiful feel of vacation was something I experienced daily? What if the end of the vacation transitioned into an insanely rewarding and stress free non-vacation time? Why do I feel the big difference between vacation and reality? How can I choose a reality more similar to vacation? How do I view the world differently during “real life” and why?

For clarity, I’m not saying always being on vacation, rather, how do I choose a life and mindset that transitions from vacation to a reality that doesn’t feel like gears grinding against each other? There’s something I’m missing, a subtle yet key change in perspective that could make a huge impact. More to think on for later.

Separately – yet very possibly very similarly – when I think of my favorite moments of vacation they are so simple in nature. They consist of no devices or electronics, very little equipment or specialized stuff, and are so simplistic in nature. The beauty of the outdoors. Enjoying the slow twist of bubbles in an eddy after a waterfall. Seeing a bright reddish orange toad. The look of being stunned by the beauty of nature on the face of my family. Such very simple things.

Between this time away and our recent camping trip I’m seeing more and more just how little I truly need. Why do I grasp onto the desire to have more? How could I bring that simplicity from vacation into my life more regularly? More purposefully?

Definitely more for me to consider over the next few days while it’s all still fresh in my head.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,367 – Thankful for a Sharing a Deep State of Serenity with My Family

Waking up and going for a peaceful walk alone by the shore of Lake Superior. Road tripping down country roads with almost no other traffic. Hiking trails as a family without distraction. Spending countless moments taking in the beauty nature provides in the form of waterfalls, forests, and rivers. Getting almost 300 feet above the world and taking in the sight through a unique perspective. Splashing in Lake Superior with no agenda. Enjoying the feel of sand in my toes and and the sun on my face on our private beach. Typing my blog while sitting outside looking through a small swale into the endless sea of the lake.

The rest of the world is a million miles away. All there is nearby is family and nature. Time alone. Time with family. Time talking. Time in thought. Time to dream. Time to be present in the moment.

Of all of the many blessings of today I think I’m most thankful for the deep state of serenity I’m sharing with my family. 2020 has been a crazy year already and has thrown many curveballs. Spending time in the wilderness with my family has been such a blessing. Sharing this experience of a deep state of serenity has been amazing.

It seems the boys are understanding that they can always find this state if they so choose. It’s out in the wilderness and forests and the water waiting for them whenever they need it. This level of peace, calm and presence isn’t to be found in technology or large crowds. It is most often found in the quiet places of our soul. Escaping to a place as visceral as this helps us find that presence so much more easily and adds a beautiful extra layer to it.

Sharing this deep state of serenity with my family (and because of my family) is priceless.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,366 – Thankful for Active Family Vacations

Dang, I am exhausted! My legs are in that beautiful rubbery state of recovery after a couple of days of heavy use. It’s that feeling after a great workout where it’s not enough to hurt, but enough to be uncomfortable, and helps me realize that I’ve pushed myself. What a great feeling!

The funny thing is that this is pretty much par for the course on a Kreiling family vacation. Many of the things we enjoy most as a a family include physical activity. Sure, we have the occasional down day, but even during those we tend to find ways to keep our bodies moving.

Today was a wonderful example of our type of normal. The morning started with an awesome hike to Mirror Lake and back. The trail was so peaceful as we got out before many others were out. There were some pretty gnarly stretches of uphills that got our heart rates up and the sweat dripping.

Afterwards we grabbed lunch at our rental place, showered up, and then headed out for a bike ride. We stumbled upon a sweet stretch of lightly populated and not heavily traveled road heading along the lake starting in Ontonagon. The long rolling hills weren’t quite what we were expecting but they added to the fun.

I thought we’d hole up and play some games, but instead we headed back outside for some stone skipping and then the boys hit the trampoline just to make sure they were completely worn out.

All totaled the day was a lot of physical activity. Yesterday was a lot of physical activity. Tomorrow? Not so much, but who knows, we tend to find a way to get some extra exercise in.

What I am most thankful for today is that the boys are seeing this as normal. They’re seeing the example of being physically active. Throughout the entirety of our hikes and bike ride I have yet to hear a single complaint about exercising (fighting with each other? That’s a whole different story!). I am so grateful for our ability to go on a vacation and find a way to truly enjoy being even more active than we would be at home. I know, some people probably find that really twisted, but it’s something that is very important to us. Many of the things Becky and I enjoy doing the most require physical activity to accomplish. Seeing that not only are we living it but that the boys are truly enjoying it as well fills my heart with joy.

I love our crazy Kreiling vacations and all their days full of activity. Tiring, but totally rewarding and I love it.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,365 – Thankful for Our Fortress of Solitude Part 2 and the Perfect Album for This Trip

This morning we all slept in. We didn’t really stay up late or anything last night and the time was an hour later than what we were used to due to the time zone change. Funny thing is that we all obviously needed to crash more than we thought we did. After our time today we’ll most likely be heading to bed early. Kind of a crazy way to spend a vacation day, but it’s nice to get caught up on some rest and also be ready to get moving much earlier tomorrow morning.

I’ve been to the Porcupine Mountains twice before. Both trips were very short and consisted of basically getting out to see the lake and then heading out shortly after. This was my first time spending any real amount of time in the park.

On our hike we all kept mentioning how similar the feel was to Isle Royale. The rock colors were similar, the formations looked the same, and even some of the lakes and rivers seemed to be cut form the same cloth. I was impressed with how big the Porcupine Mountains are. As Dominic put it, it’s sure not Colorado but it feels like a lot like a north woods Colorado. Personally, it was so wild to see something this beautiful this close to our home. The vistas were breathtaking!

I’m thankful for finally taking the time to explore and enjoy this park further. I’m especially pumped for our next set of hikes over the next few days in the park’s other areas.

I’m not sure if the time in the woods this past weekend just primed me more for it, but I was so impressed with the amount of solitude we had out in the woods. Sure, there were some people at the trailhead and a handful we passed on the trial, but for the most part it was quiet, peaceful, and without others. Spending time talking with my family and also having quiet time in thought was great. I’ve mentioned before how Isle Royale is our “Fortress of Solitude.” This was a lighter and more accessible version.

I know I’m kind of strange about some many things. One of my idiosyncrasies is seeming to always find a song or album that fits each vacation. Once in a while it’s the music that fits the feel of the trip. Most often it’s something about the lyrics. The best is when the music and lyrics both line up perfectly to match the feel of the vacation.

The album I’ve latched onto this trip was pretty much totally by accident this morning. There was a song stuck in my head while I was in the shower so I fired it up. The last time I’d checked there weren’t any of the bands albums on iTunes but that was a month or so ago so I figured I’d try again. As luck would have it their albums are online now! Without hesitation I downloaded their most recent and listened. In a few beats I knew I’d hit the nail on the head for this one.

The album and band? Moments by Hollow Coves. The title track pretty much nails this week on so many levels. You can check out a live recording of it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eT41LeBG8o

Here are the lyrics – you can probably see why I’m grooving on it very quickly. Enjoy!

We ran so fast up the mountain as the sun fell low

We climbed so high to chase the light sent from the sunset glow

‘Cause time won’t wait for us

It fades away so fast

And soon these days will pass

So make these moments last

We stood and looked out as the colours in the sky ran wild

In that moment, I felt like I was seeing through the eyes of a child

‘Cause time won’t wait for us

It fades away so fast

And soon these days will pass

So make these moments last

Seek to reach the heights of the alpine

Seize the golden light when the sun shines

Realise that time is a precious gift

So make these moments last

I’ve found that time flies like a camera flashing in my eyes

So, blind, I turned and the moment simply passed me by

‘Cause time won’t wait for us

It fades away so fast

And soon these days will pass

So make these moments last

Seek to reach the heights of the alpine

Seize the golden light when the sun shines

Realise that time is a precious gift

So make these moments last

Seek to reach the heights of the alpine

Seize the golden light when the sun shines

Realise that time is a precious gift

So make these moments last

Back to enjoying some family game time!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,364 – Thankful for Returning to the Upper Peninsula (UP) and an Unexpected Very Deep Thought for Future Mike to Ponder

One of my favorite places in the entire world is the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan. As we get within 50 miles of Lake Superior it starts to feel a lot like home. Yes, I know, I’ve got several places that feel like home including La Crosse, New Zealand, and the Big Island of Hawaii. When I go back “up north” my soul quiets, all stress subsides, and it’s an oasis of natural beauty and serenity.

If you haven’t been up to the UP before let me explain. The population density is very low. The forests of pine, birch, popple, and maple give way for beautiful rock formations and wetland marshes. There are rolling hills that are similar and yet very different from the Driftless. Throw in the beautiful Lake Superior and you can start to see the picture.

I first traveled to the UP to check out the Michigan Tech campus in Houghton while I was in high school. Each and every time I made that drive I’ve fallen in love with the area over and over again.

Michigan Tech was where I went for my first year of college, my first time living somewhere other than home. There was a time when I had much stress and struggles and the UP was where I went for a long weekend retreat. For a while I tried talking Becky into buying a place up here. I’ve often thought of opening an Express office up here just to have a reason to be here more often. I brought up a nice endurance run to Becky specifically because it meant a trip up here several years ago. I’ve completed two marathons in the UP. There are many memories we made with Dad up here as well on a few trips up here. So many wonderful moments, memories, and escapes up here.

Each time I’m up here my heart tells me I’m exactly where I need to be right at this moment. Just as it’s telling me again today. My soul just feels at home up here.

Do I still want to move up here like when I was younger? Nope; the winters are way too long for me. I think I’m finally realizing that the appeal to the UP is more of a retreat back to quiet and solitude. If this was an every morning thing it wouldn’t quite be the same. Hmm… food for thought for Future Mike when he reads this again sometime:

I appreciate it more specifically because it is a limited resource, my time here is finite. It is more easy for me to be grateful for the time I have up here specifically because I know it will end long before I want it to. I must enjoy each second, be in the present each second, and live each second here to its fullest. Funny thing, this is the view I should also have about life and time. Sometimes I don’t see it the same way as it feels so much more infinite as there’s not a scheduled date and time within a couple of weeks in which I know it will end. How can I remind myself more frequently that life is finite, my time is finite, and need to live with this in the front of my brain at all times. Never with a fear or worry for death, rather as a way to remind me to truly live in each moment. – Mike Kreiling, 6/22/2020

Whoa… that was deeper than I thought I was going today – sorry gang! I’m totally going to add a note in the title to give you a heads up that this was coming.

So here I am, home for the present. I am so thankful for the opportunity to experience the beauty and serenity of the UP again. My soul is already feeling recharged.

Ok – for reals – if you haven’t been up to the UP before please add Copper Harbor to your bucket list. Look it up, it’s amazing! Then again, pretty much anywhere along the coast of Lake Superior is amazing,

Thanks!!!

Day 1,363 – Thankful for Spending Father’s Day with My Boys

Watch out world, this one could go in one of MANY different directions. Instead of force fitting my blog into its title I’ll let it write itself and then figure out the big bold letters on top.

I don’t know that I could’ve scripted a much better Father’s Day than this one.

In many ways it actually started yesterday morning for me and the boys and I met up with Steve for our $10 Dollar Store challenge. Each of us had a budget of $10 (plus tax) to buy the supplies we would need to live as comfortably as possible out in the woods for 24 hours. Outside of clothes, sunscreen, bug spray and water we weren’t allowed to bring anything not included in our $10 budget at the dollar store. We love watching Alone on TV and this was a way for us to reality test parts of it.

After hiking through the woods for almost four hours we found a perfect spot to set up camp. Each of us built a shelter and we each built very different shelters. There was a lot of positive support and encouragement all around. We helped each other catch flaws in our plans, helped to share resources, and worked together to solve unexpected challenges. I don’t know that I’ve heard the word “learn” or a variant of it mentioned so many times in a short period of time. Talk about a growth mindset that made me smile wide.

When the sun rose before six in the morning I woke up to eat smiling face of Gavin wishing me “Happy Father’s Day!” Dominic did the same the firs moment we had alone. We broke camp, headed home, and got cleaned up.

The boys presented me with the most epic Father’s Day present they’ve ever made for me – a toolbox with drawers! Dominic created an awesome toolbox and added in drawers of his own design. Gavin added some touches including the wood burning on the front and sides. I was amazed at what a great job they did with it. The only thing they received any help on was using the table saw; everything else they did themselves. To see them build something like this on their own made this papa so very proud.

We got a nice family hike in. We ate lunch as a family. We played a board game. The boys and I played a card game. We ate supper as a family. Throughout the day we’ve had so much time together as family and I’m thankful for every moment of it.

That thought takes me back to last night. I wrote one of the shortest blogs ever as I wanted to stay present with the boys. It was interesting, Gavin was asking about how many straight days I was on and it reminded me that it was right to take a little time to blog. At the same time I knew that part of the reason I blog is to remind me to be thankful for what I have. Almost everything I could ever want was there in that present moment with my boys. Talk about a weird catch-22. Break from the present to blog about appreciating it or stay in the present but then risk breaking the habit that has helped train me to be in and thankful for the present.

After a quick moment of thinking through it I opted to keep the streak alive but know that the words I wrote were not what was important, the way I was living them with the boys was. Tonight I realize that one of the reason that I’m savoring this Father’s Day so much is because of the time and presence I’ve had with them over the past 24 hours. I’m thankful I stayed in that present with them for the overwhelming majority of the time and only broke from it for a moment.

Over the past few weeks I’ve talked with several parents of younger children. As we talk and I can hear the tired tone of their voice I share with them, very honestly, that each day with the boys becomes better and better. Over the past day and a half I’m reminded of this more than ever. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be their dad and to spend time with them. I am grateful for the love, fun, challenges, and excitement they bring into my life. There is no question that their presence in my life helps me to be a better person.

Boys, I love you both tremendously, so much so that mere words will never do it justice. I am so proud of the men you are becoming and am so thankful for the relationship and bonds we have built and continue to strengthen each day. I am so thankful to be your “Old Man.” Love you boys!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,362 – Thankful for Camping In the Woods with the Boys

Quick note – I wrote this one last night and didn’t post right away due to cell coverage. Now we’re back and I can post 😁

Having a ton of fun out in the wild today with the boys and Steve. More details to follow tomorrow I’m sure.

Long story short, an entire day outside, hanging out in the woods and spending time outdoors.

Loving every moment of it, going back to it and being in the present with them.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,361 – Thankful for Heeding Wonderful Advice from Others & Extremely Hard Working Teams

Whew!!! This past week has been a wild one! Work life has been crazy busy. We’ve made several interesting changes and investments and are already seeing some things pay off. More importantly we can all feel the shifting momentum.

As of right now we have over 200 open jobs available in the Eau Claire, Menomonie, Chippewa Falls, and Winona areas. Yes, you read the correctly; 200 jobs. The majority of these are for manufacturing and warehouse positions of many different skill levels. Almost all of these positions could lead to long term employment.

Surprisingly, somehow even in a recession we’re finding a shortage of people who are looking for employment. Had you asked me if this were possible even four months ago I would’ve struggled to find any possible way it could happen. Regardless, here we are now.

And that’s where my gratitude for today comes in. I’ve received some truly wonderful guidance, ideas, thoughts, feedback, and support from so many people over the past few weeks. The ideas and concepts piled up quickly but just as quickly started to blend together in actionable ideas that are very aggressive and yet very complete-able. My teams and I have put together some truly special solutions as a result.

Thanks to all of this great advice from so many we’re about to see some of the best progress we’ve seen in a very long time. As the pieces ad strategies all come together I’m so excited to be able to share the successes with all of those who helped to shape and create it. For clarity this includes all of my teammates as they not only helped in creating these ideas – they’ve been busting their butts to make it all happen. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to work with them!

Watch out world, there are some very exciting things happening in the world of employment!!!

Thanks!!!

PS – If you know of anyone who’s looking for a new career please send them over our way and we’d love to talk. We pay a $150 referral bonus directly to you after someone you refer works only 75 hours!