Day 864 – Thankful for Awareness and Action

Sometimes I can’t help but smile at the serendipity of the insight brought about by reading two seemingly unrelated books.  Yesterday I consumed Atomic Habits by James Clear and today I started reading Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.


Atomic Habits was a great book pointing out how positive habits are created and negative habits are eliminated.  Throughout the book I kept seeing myself in the Habit Loop, going from Cue to Craving to Response to Reward.  In some cases it was a positive loop, but others weren’t nearly as positive.  Mentally I tried to focus on having awareness of the habits in my life, good and bad, and started walking through all four pieces of the loop.

I’m not quite a third of the way through Digital Minimalism and I’m totally hooked.  It’s putting my electronic habits front and center and I’m not liking what I’m noticing.  Based on some of the advice from this book I’ve already taken action on a couple of small steps to help me be even more aware of those habits.  It’s crazy!  I had no idea just how much of my time I’ve been spending staring at my phone (pretty much a digital slot machine).  With a couple of small steps I’m already starting to feel at little more in control.

So today has been full of awareness and action and it has been humbling, but has also been wonderfully liberating.  When I get frustrated at what I am aware of I just remember that seeing the true gap between who I am and who I want to be is a great place to start taking action.  Without awareness there is no call to action.



Day 863 – Thankful for Awesome Customer Service, Caribou Coffee

The roads to Menomonie were a little slick this morning so I took my time driving up.  Fortunately for me I’d just started a great audiobook that was helping to keep me company on the longer than normal commute.  Almost as soon as I made it to Menomonie the snow started to fall…  and fall…  and fall…  

One of the meetings scheduled for the day was at Caribou Coffee.  By the time we walked in we’d already gotten well over 4 inches of snow.  When we ordered coffee we struck up a conversation with the person at the register.  In that conversation I’d mentioned my drive from La Crosse earlier that morning.  She was immediately concerned for me and my safety and asked if I was staying in Menomonie for the night.  I kind of laughed it off and explained that I was going to drive home and would just take it slow.  Now I had already been impressed with her customer service, but what happened next took it to a whole different level.

“I have a voucher for a free night at a hotel in town, why don’t you use it and stay safe?  Really, the roads look terrible, the snow is supposed to keep coming down through the evening.  It’s okay, why don’t you use the voucher instead of risking a drive home?”  

Say what???  Not only was she concerned for my well being, she was willing to offer up something valuable to help me stay safe.  How awesome is that???  It’s one thing to be concerned for your customers, but offering something personal is a whole other level.  To say that I was incredibly grateful for the offer would be a huge understatement.  This was one of greatest customer service experiences I’ve ever had, period. 

To be honest, I shouldn’t be surprised with this superbly high level of customer service coming from a Caribou Coffee teammate.  So often their service goes well above and beyond.  From offering up free chocolate coffee beans for a care package being sent to someone on active duty to making a new drink as requested to some good old fashioned awesome conversation the folks at Caribou Coffee always do an amazing job with customer service!

Being the stubborn person I am I politely declined and made the slow (& thankfully uneventful) drive back to Winona.  Many times throughout the drive I thought of her kindness and generosity and had a smile cross my face.  It got me thinking about how I could raise my customer service level for my clients, associates and teammates.  She’s inspired me to find ways to elevate my game, and that’s something I’m hugely thankful for!

Renee, thank you for going way above and beyond the call of duty for a customer today – you made my day!!!


Day 862 – Thankful for Stumbling Across a Picture that Warms My Heart

Earlier in the day I was cruising through some old files in search of some training materials from many years ago.  In the bottom of an almost empty folder I happened across an old Polaroid.  Way back in the day we used to do a client appreciation fishing outing.  We would get a bunch of fishing guides and invite some of our clients out for a morning of fishing on the Mississippi.  The picture I came across was from over a decade ago (hence the reason it was a Polaroid!) when I’d taken my client and friend, Teresa Knutson, on our fishing trip.  We had so much fun on that trip!  My stomach and sides hurt the rest of the day from laughing so hard.  It was awesome!!!

Teresa was one of the perfect people to hang out with on a boat like that.  She was always laughing and smiling.  Her positive energy was so contagious!  Teresa would single handedly light up an entire room with her quick smile and loud laugh.  Whenever we met up there was sure to be laughter and smiles, even when we would be getting some serious work done.  She helped me see how to be both very professional and very personable at the same time.  There were many days when I would go out to sell and I’d stop out to talk with her first just because I knew I’d leave with a smile.  In a nutshell, Teresa was amazing.

Unfortunately Teresa passed away just over 11 years ago very unexpectedly.  I still clearly remember hearing the news and being almost dropped to my knees.  She was so full of life and personality I just couldn’t, or didn’t want to, imagine a world without her in it.  I’m not sure that I’ve ever shared this with anyone before, but she’d passed away as I was just getting back into exercising and watching my weight.  When I would go on my long training runs for my marathon I often imagined her right there with me cheering me on.  In those moments I could’ve swore I heard her voice while I ran and it always brought a smile to my face.

Seeing that picture today really reminded me of just how fortunate I was to have had time with Teresa.  So many wonderful memories and moments with her, I am thankful for each of them.  I am so grateful that I happened across this picture today, it’s filled my heart with joy as I’ve thought of her often.


Day 861 – Thankful for Dominic Taking On Additional Responsibility and Gavin’s Plans for His Future Lottery Winnings

Today’s one of those proud parent moments in which I’m thankful for things our boys have done or said today. In both cases it makes me smile seeing that the boys are soaking in some of the things Becky and I are trying to live and impart in them. I’m grateful for the opportunity to see the imprints we’ve left on them so far.

Dominic got some great news today, he’s been selected to be one of the Stage Managers for his middle school play. This is something he’s wanted to do since he participated as a stage hand last year. I’m taking on this role he’ll have a lot more responsibility to his team and I’m proud of him for taking that on. This is one of a growing handful of areas in which he’s taken on more responsibility and leadership, and it seems to fit him very well. Super proud of him!

In school today Gavin was asked what three things he would buy if he won the lottery. His answers have me smiling and beaming with pride. First, he’d buy investments so he’d have more money for the future (I just got him a copy of the Rich Dad, Poor Dad book for kids which he obviously soaked up 😁). Next, he’d buy an island in the ocean and put a good sized house on it (with the plan of buying more islands with the return from his investments). Last, he’d give the rest to charity (obviously Becky’s been making a strong impact on him!). I’m so thankful to hear that he’s got three solid priorities – though I’m not quite sure of the order 😆. Regardless, it’s great to see he’s grasping the concept of investing versus spending to he has more to give in the future.

Like I started with, it’s a pretty proud parent kind of day! Of course as I’m typing this the boys are bickering a little in logrolling… “Dominic cheated!” followed by “No I didn’t!” Music to my ears… sounds like we’ve made progress with the boys but we’ve still got a long ways to go! 🤪


Day 860 – Thankful for America’s Finest News Source, The Onion

For the most part I’ve quit watching the news, but there’s still one place I go to keep updated on what’s going on in the world…  The Onion ( ).

Last night during the Super Bowl I stumbled upon a few of the articles they were continuing to post dragon the game.  Each of them had me full on belly laughing as I read them.  In many cases I had to share them with others.  The greatest of the night was possibly this one:


I still remember grabbing a copy of The Onion whenever I was in Madison in college.  I’d read it from cover to cover and enjoy it tremendously.  My friends and I still often joke around about and quote some of our favorite old articles like Death Star to Open Day Care Center and, well, others that shall remain nameless as I plead the fifth for my sense of humor.  😉

Today’s been full of many great moments and things I’m thankful for.  In a few cases I even started writing tonight’s blog about them.  As I sat down to type Dominic and I went through a handful of the headlines and were laughing again so I took it as a sign that I was on the right track.  Keep up the fantastic reporting Onion!!!  I’m thankful for the smiles and laughs you bring on a daily basis!


Day 859 – Thankful for a List Kind of Day

Days like this are amongst my favorites.  Thinking through the day there are way too many things to be thankful for to narrow it down to just one thing.  Many times these days are “list days,” days when I go with a list of gratitudes instead of just one.  Today I am incredibly grateful for one of those days today.  While there hasn’t been anything insanely crazy it’s been a day filled with ordinary awesomeness.  Here are several of the highlights:

  • Getting a good 9 hours  hours of sleep
  • Waking up early enough to grab a full breakfast before church, complete with a great cup of coffee
  • At church as our priest is asking the congregation for things they love he works his way from the far side fo the church to our’s.  When he gets to our side he asks again and Gavin shouts out, “Video games!!!”  The entire congregation bursts into laughter and Father Dodge comments, “I think that’s more of an obsession.”  Gavin just smiled from ear to ear.
  • Running into a friend we haven’t seen in a long while after church.
  • Grocery shopping after church was about the most efficient, chill, and peaceful shopping trip we’ve had in a long time.  For reals, it was actually almost relaxing!
  • Shooting the bull with my mom just always feels right on the weekends and today was no different.
  • Lunch was leftover ribs from last night.  Mmm…
  • After lunch the boys went up into the workshop to help me clean up.  After painting it’s been great to get everything cleaned up and back in its place.  The boys being up there with me made it an enjoyable chore.
  • It was also cool putting up more of the old tools and whatnot from my dad, but more on that in the future… 😉
  • Becky’s been watching the forecast like a hawk and saw this afternoon was our best opportunity to run outside for the next few days.  We jumped on the opportunity and got a wonderful run in.  Being outside and running in shorts felt invigorating!  The fog added a really awesome dreamlike quality to the run.  It felt perfect spending time outside running with Becky (& the girls).
  • Gavin opted to help me cook supper tonight and I was thankful for his help and company.  He now knows how to bake bacon and slice cheese like a pro.
  • While cooking I had a string of over 6 straight awesome songs on Pandora, all of which that hit the mood perfectly.
  • Speaking of supper I went way back to one of my favorite childhood meals for our Super Bowl dinner…  Mexican Hero Sandwiches!  Cheesy, meaty, bacon filled, goodness!!!
  • Black licorice for dessert…  mmm…
  • Dishes?  No need for me to do dishes after cooking, Dominic volunteered to do them himself.  How awesome is that?
  • Chilling as a family in the living room is the perfect close to the weekend.  We’re all doing our own things to unwind, but we’re doing it as a family and it feels wonderful.  While we’re doing different things we’re regularly engaging in conversation and joking around.  It’s a perfect end to a wonderful day.

There you have it, a day of a list of things I’m thankful for…  a day of lists.  I’m so grateful for all the blessings in my life!

What a view, endless possibilities…  Running in thick fog is so peaceful…


Day 858 – Thankful for the Social Media’s Ability to Connect Us to Those I’d Probably Never Bump Into Otherwise

Over the past few years I’ve had some unique opportunities to connect with individuals I’d probably never have connected with in the past. After reading a great book I’ve found that I can often reach out to the author directly with questions. When digging into a topic it’s easy to find a subject matter expert and reach out for insight. In other cases I’ve used those media to reach out to bloggers and content creators to just pick their brains a little.

This morning was a wonderful example of how some of these connections can inspire new or fuel existing dreams. One of my favorite podcasters, Josh Lee Kwai, has some amazingly beautiful pictures of his current vacation to Iceland. The pictures were stunning! On my dream list Iceland occupies not just one, but two spots… one trip during the summer (preferably a month long road trip in a camper van) and one trip during the winter to experience just how dark it is for how long and to see the landscapes in a different light (pun totally intended 😁). As luck would have it Josh has now done both! It was great to reach out with a couple of questions and he was able to help me start making plans for my future trips out there. On an interesting side-note, Josh has also done a great job of pointing me in the direction of a couple of great books including Snowcrash, Spin, & Ender’s Game.

That’s why I’m thankful for the ability of social media to connect me to people I normally wouldn’t have bumped into. How awesome to find a great resource with some similar tastes to bounce questions off of and gather ideas from?