Day 1,574 – Thankful for Appreciating Winter

Day 1,574 – Thankful for Appreciating Winter

Full disclosure, the first winter after we retire I plan on spending three months living in New Zealand. Our winter is their summer and one of my dreams is to live out of a camper van while touring around both islands. Even with everything I’m about to write, that is still my plan 😉

Gavin joined Becky and I for our snowshoeing this morning and we had a great time while Dominic snow boarded. I’ve written about the peacefulness of being in the woods the past few days so I’ll do my best to take this in a slightly different direction. What I enjoyed the most about snowshoeing and the rest of the day was appreciating winter.

For much of my life winter has been my least favorite season. I sometimes go stir crazy and spend time waiting for it to be over. With everything going on this year and with my focus on being outside I’ve really found this to be the winter in which I’ve fallen back in love with it. This probably sounds sick, but I’m thinking it might take over the number three slot from spring (fall being in first, summer a close second).

In the woods today I kept smiling as I drew fresh full breaths of cold air through my nose. The blanket of fresh snow covering everything accentuated so many features. The occasional unfrozen spring water caught our attention and really stuck out. The frost and snow covering the milkweed pods caused me to stop and take a moment to take in the view. All the branches were covered with a light coating of snow and sometimes when the wind would blow just right there’d be a little mini avalanche of snow falling from limb to limb until it hit the ground.

As if that wasn’t quite enough Becky had an awesome idea. After snowshoeing and a quick lunch we headed out to the same waterfalls we visited only seven months ago. The road into the park was almost impassable and completely void of any fresh tracks. We had the entire park to just the three of us and went from observation deck to observation deck taking in the spectacular sights from each. Have you ever seen a waterfall spouting the water through ice? It was wild!!! The ice formations around the water were so surreal and the snow in the surrounding forest valley enhanced the mind blowing view. That is a sight I’ll keep treasured in my memories forever.

Once we realized that we were only a few miles from Lake Superior we hit the road and hiked out to the beach we’d gone to this summer. The sand was gone and replaced with ice and snow. The waves slammed the shore and launched gallons of water into the air like we’d seen in the blowholes in Grand Cayman and Maui. The entire landscape was so frozen, wintery, and beautiful.

Only a year or two ago I would’ve groaned about it being winter. Over the past few days, especially today, I’m grateful for taking time to remember all the reasons I should pause to appreciate winter instead. What an awesome season that is full of its own forms of beauty!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,573 – Thankful for Profound Peace In the Woods While Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing through the snow covered forest is surreal experience. The white of the snow washes out most of the world into various shades of gray. Sound doesn’t travel nearly as well through the forest and bed of snow which causes an acoustically pleasing level of quiet. The only sounds heard are the crisp sound of the crampon of the snowshoe striking the ice crusted snow just right and a deep bass sound as my foot settles on an almost hollow sounding crust of snow.

Going into the woods during a winter day is medicine for the soul. The stress of outside life melts away as I have time to pause and reflect on what life truly should be. The quiet rhythm of footsteps crunching on the snow quiets my mind. Viewing the beauty of the trees, the little stream (separating MI & WI – kind of wild in of itself!), and the rocky outcroppings stir something deeper within my soul.

I cannot help but wonder with each footstep, “what if I never left the woods?” Would my soul find a deeper meaning and live a more meaningful life? Would I eventually tire of the setting and want to leave to return to modern life? Would I find that the magic of escaping into the woods is the escape and opportunity to exist in it for short bursts? Maybe one day I’ll find out and maybe I won’t. 😉

Today I’m grateful for the increasing level of profound peace within my soul during my time in the woods. I feel more rested than I have in a very long time and even more excited to truly live.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,572 – Thankful for Going Into the Woods and Snowshoeing with Becky

This morning Becky and I hit the trails for some snowshoeing and enjoyed some quiet time in a true winter wonderland.

There is a deep level of stillness to be had in the middle of the woods on a snow covered day that no words could ever truly explain. All the sounds of the world are muffled by the layer of snow on the ground. All the colors are amplified by the bright white of the snow. The air seems so much more dense and fulfilling in the cold. The lack of people around leaves me feeling like we’re alone in the Alaskan wilderness.

There is no stress. There is no time. There are no demands. There is only us in the moment exploring the beauty of nature. From bent and curvy trees to juts of rocky outcropping to curtains of ice draping over the entrances of caves the entire landscape is magical in so many ways.

As if all of this could not get any better… I was able to experience all of this with Becky.

I am grateful for this opportunity to snowshoe in the UP and enjoy going into the woods with Becky.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,571 – Thankful for Learning to Drive In the Snow In Northern Wisconsin

Driving through a snowstorm on lightly traveled snow covered roads can either be a nightmare or oddly peaceful and serene. Outside of being stuck behind a couple of people who certainly were seeing it as the former I was largely in the latter. When everything else is dark and the only color is the bright white of fresh snow in my headlights it can be a very awesome sight indeed. Everything takes on a black and white kind of feel. The little flashes of color – the vibrant yellow of a highway sign – seem to pop all the greater. Being surrounded by snow covered forest on either side add a comforting and warming sensation to the setting.

While I’m thankful for the peacefulness of winter driving like that what I’m even more thankful for is growing up in northern Wisconsin and learning to be comfortable and confident while driving in snowy conditions. The roads weren’t always plowed right away. Dad used to show Nick and I how the truck could fishtail in the now. One time I still remember him spinning us in an almost complete 360!

While it may not have been the safest thing ever, I remember often taking advantage of being on a quiet snow covered road or an empty parking lot and seeing just how the snow handled. Picking up speed, hitting the gas, turning the wheel hard, figuring out how to correct when owing control. At the time it was 100% curiosity and fun, now when I look back I see it as some excellent practice. Thanks to growing up driving in snow I’m able to take a deep breath and chill (pun totally intended) while enjoying the beauty around me.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,570 – Thankful for a History Lesson, an Outdoor Story, and Dream Fuel Rolled Into One Book

A few weeks ago I was wrapping up the second listen of Jim Collins on the Tim Ferriss podcast. When it was done I had intended to listen to a different one of Tim’s podcasts but somehow I’d screwed up and it wasn’t downloaded. As luck would have it there was one more podcast downloaded to my phone, but it was with some dude I’d never heard of. Seeing as I’ve yet to be disappointed with a Ferriss podcast I fired it up and listened to some dude named Steven Rinella.

How I hadn’t heard of Steven Rinella yet still leaves me shaking my head. Since listening to the podcast he’s come up in no less than four conversations. Rinella is an incredible outdoorsman, hunter, conservationist, survivalist (the practical kind, not the apocalyptic kind), and writer. After grooving on what he discussed in the podcast I pulled him up in Audible and downloaded one of his books, American Buffalo, In Search of a Lost Icon.

A story about one of my favorite animals, Alaska, the outdoors, and some science and history thrown in for good measure? Yes please! In just the first half dozen chapters I’ve learned a lot and have become very hooked. While running some errands tonight Gavin asked me to fire it up so he could listen as well and was very much quickly interested.

There’s a long ways to go, but I’m already grateful for picking this book up. It’s got my brain going in overdrive in a variety of directions and my urge to get back up to Alaska has never grown stronger. I love books like this that are focused in the headspace I’m already in. They amp up my energy, fuel more wild dreams, and are an excellent source of knowledge and wisdom.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,569 – Thankful for Signs of Intelligence, People Who Share Difficult Feedback, and Pausing Before Hitting Send

For a variety of reasons my mind has been reminded of The Stockdale Paradox often today. If you didn’t read my post about The Stockdale Paradox you can check it out here for more detaihttps://thankful4forty.com/2020/12/27/day-1551-thankful-for-the-stockdale-paradox-the-similarities-to-mans-search-for-meaning/. Throughout the day my mind was buffeted with possibilities and solutions. At one point I even said to myself out loud, “remember The Stockdale Paradox – how can I stay positive and optimistic while confronting these brutal facts?” I then sat in quiet while my brain searched for the answer. In only a few minutes I was back on track with planning for challenges while knowing it would all work out.

There’s a quote from F Scott Fitzgerald that also popped into my head as I was thinking about this challenge today. “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” This is exactly what the Stockdale Paradox requires – two opposed thoughts held in the mind at the same time.I’m also thankful for people who share difficult feedback today. It can be difficult to share tough feedback sometimes – or almost all the time. When someone is courageous enough or loves me enough to push themselves out of their comfort zone to provide feedback intended to help I am grateful for them. My life is improved by those individuals as they help me become better.One piece of feedback I’ve been given is that I send too many emails with too much information. At some point the message of each is lost in the sea of information. On a podcast someone once talked about never writing an email in their email app. Instead they wrote it elsewhere and let it sit for a little while. After considering the email and its importance they would only end up hitting the Send button on about 40% of their emails. Over the past couple of days I’ve kept that thought in mind. I haven’t done great with it, but it is funny how I’ve avoided a few emails that wouldn’t have furthered my purpose. Even the ones I’ve sent and then realize I should have waited on have caught my attention and showed me how I’m already growing by noticing that was the case. I’m grateful for the progress I’ve made and will continue to make on pausing before I hit Send.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,568 – Thankful for Going Into the Woods, Two Consistent Concepts, and More Questions Than Answers

My mindset of “Into the woods” doesn’t always mean a literal foray into the forest. Most often it is lived through taking a deep breath, looking inward, and focusing my attention inward. There have been several of those moments throughout the day.

Amongst the ideas rebounding in my skull today are:

  • Memories of the conversation with Dad when he removed the cabinet with almost no effort after I’d sweated and strained with no success. The core is remembering to pause, focus on seeing the entire picture, and then applying all of the energy in exactly the right place.
  • A podcast starting off very similar to parts of my own life – making the decision to quit smoking, lose weight, run a marathon, start a blog… and then he grew into his dream of writing for a living and has over 2 million followers. Where did our paths split and why? He was willing to pay the cost for one dream over another. This has me thinking about what my biggest dreams are and what I’m willing to give to attain them.

My mind has come back to these two core thoughts often for a variety of reasons several times each today. For both concepts – focusing energy in the right spot and choosing the right dreams to pursue – the right answers can only be found after taking time to think in stillness. If I am to answer both correctly I must go into the woods to create space to think.

The counterpoint to this is that there have been many opportunities to react as opposed to pausing to breathe. I could just as easily reacted with my initial gut feel, the first emotion, or just followed the deepest ruts of habit. Often it seems as if inertia of the moment pushes me towards action immediately instead of suggesting I pause.

I wonder if I spent enough time in the woods to focus could I have such clarity that I could both react immediately while also going in the direction that is the right one? If enough time was concentrated up front to attain more clarity would I be able to respond more quickly without requiring time pause?

Today I am thankful for taking time to go into the woods to process. This wasn’t perfect and I did not execute it as precisely as I would like – I have much work to do on this. That said, I am grateful for the times I took to pause and consider energy and direction as it guided me down the right paths.

In a weird way I feel like I may have asked myself more questions than answers with my blog today – and I’m grateful for that as well. Writing this blog is one of my favorite ways to escape to the wilderness of my brain each day to find inner peace.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,567 – Thankful for an Interesting Implementation of a Counterpoint, an Awesome Christmas Present, and My Boys’ Love of Woodworking

Over the past month I’ve talked often about going “Into the woods” as my theme of the year. Many of my favorite quotes and ideas involve going into the desert, the woods, or someplace else relatively alone. The point is focused on taking time in solitude and stillness to focus on the truly important.

A few days ago a friend of mine brought up the idea that completely disconnecting isn’t the correct answer either. There’s a balance to be struck between time “into the woods” and staying attached to what is happening in the rest of the world. I’d understood his point immediately but wasn’t sure how to tackle the balance.

Between yesterday and today my pre-“get out of bed” readings happened to be focused on this exact concept. How crazy is that? Here are the two highlights that really caught my attention and have been in my brain all day:

It’s not by eliminating outside influences or running away to quiet and solitude.  Instead, it’s about filtering the outside world through the straightener of our judgement.  That’s what our reason can do – it can take the crooked, confusing, and overwhelming nature of external events and make them orderly.

The Daily Stoic, Ryan Holiday

Epictetus is reminding you that serenity and stability are results of your choices and judgements, not your environment.  If you seek to avoid all disruptions to tranquility – other people, external events, stress – you will never be successful.  Your problems will follow you wherever you run and hide.  But if you seek to avoid the harmful judgements that cause those problems, then you will be stable and steady wherever you happen to be.

The Daily Stoic, Ryan Holiday

Today I’m grateful for the serendipitous solution to the riddle we’d been discussing last week. While the implementation is never as simple as the concept itself, I’m thankful for the opportunity to see the answer in a way that I can work on.

Last night Dominic went up to the workshop with Becky and I to help on a special project. For Christmas Dominic made me a set of three hexagonal shelves for my workshop. The three of us hung them up on the wall exactly where Dominic had envisioned them. I am very grateful for the thoughtful and handcrafted gift. Along with my toolbox they’ll be amongst my most treasured possessions. As someone who understands how much energy and love are put into the gifts we create for others I hold the value of his present higher than anything I could buy.

In addition to Dominic’s gift there’s been another Kreiling kid doing some additional woodworking over the past couple of days. Gavin decided that he wants to make his own wooden Catan board. Over the majority of the afternoon and evening he’s been working alone in the workshop sanding all 19 of his tiles and the number tokens to go inside them.

Both of the boys are seeing the joy that can be had while woodworking and I’m so happy for that. Seeing something that was a passion for multiple generations starting to take seed in the next makes me smile from ear to ear. Who knows, maybe they’ll dive deeper into it. Maybe they’ll tire of it and move on to something else. Either way, I’m glad they’ve been enjoying woodworking!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,566 – Thankful for Workshop Time with Gavin, Another Thought Provoking Sermon, and Seeing More of What I Choose to Focus On

Over the weekend Gavin and I have had some time in the workshop. There are some projects that I’ve been working on recently and I really wanted to focus on them more than I did. As seems to almost always be the case there just wasn’t enough time in the day to accomplish all I intended to. The decision I was faced with was either making less progress on my projects or not helping Gavin with a project he wanted to start. Well, I wasn’t able to come to a perfect decision, but I was able to find a way to get both rolling AND enjoy some quality time with Gavin in the workshop.

Yesterday he helped me for a couple of hours on my project as well as again this morning for a little while. After I got to a good point more quickly than expected thank to his help we moved on to his next project. Over the span of another couple of hours we cut all of his “Catan” tiles for the wooden version of our favorite board game he is going to make. In that time we talked about and demonstrated table saw safety, building jigs for multiple cuts, and how to cut angles. He even got to use what he’s been learning in geometry to confirm the 30 degree angles we needed to cut for the hexagons.

Sure, I’ve got some catch up to do on the other projects, but that’s okay. Spending time with him and engaging him in both processes was well worth finishing the project a little later than expected. By spending time with him we were also able to get his project to the point where he can do much of the work himself over the next week or two. Time with my boys in the workshop is always the right answer.

The sermon at church last night has been at the top of my mind all day. The focus was on remembering that favorite place for The Big Dude Upstairs to hang out is in the heart of people. Not just people who think the same way, but all people. If I truly love The Big Dude Upstairs I need to remember to treat each and every person as if they were Him as they truly are. This was powerful in the wake of all that happened last week. I’ve got much practice to do on this, but I am thankful for the reminder.

Have you watched the movie The Sixth Sense? Just to be safe I’ll do my best not to spoil it for you. When watching the director’s cut of it with commentary from M. Night Shyamalan he points out this really awesome hidden fact. At each very emotional point of the movie he uses the color red to emphasize the point. When watching the movie over again I couldn’t help but see the red so clearly and wonder how I’d missed it the first time around. Once I knew what to watch for I saw it often. Before I knew to focus on it I never consciously noticed it.

In reading my 2021 framework each morning and night I’m keeping it at the front of my brain. Throughout the day I’m seeing more and more “red.” There are so many more opportunities for me to exercise the right judgement, to act the right way, to live into my values, and to move one step closer to my dreams. Seemingly around every turn I’m seeing “red” that I never would have noticed before. Like I’ve written about often this week – I’ve still got a long ways to go before I’m living perfectly into it, but I’m seeing progress and, more importantly, I’m seeing the opportunities for improvement and growth.

Thanks!!!

Heck, we even made time for Gavin’s first driving lesson yesterday… backing the car up in our driveway.

Day 1,565 – Thankful for More Eyeholes In the Shoebox Diorama of Life

This morning I went through my new ritual as I have for much of the past week. I started with reading a stoic passage – this one was focused on remembering what’s truly in my control and what’s outside of my control. The one page contained enough wisdom to help point my day in the right direction. Afterwards I moved on to reading my 2021 goals and framework. This reminded me of the direction I want to stay focused. It started my morning with a deep seated level of serenity and purpose.

After doing some weekend stuff around the house we dropped off Dominic at Mount La Crosse for some snowboarding while Becky, Gavin and I went for a hike. We went to a trail not very far from the ski hill. Surprisingly, it was a trail I’d never been on before. I’ve lived here for over 20 years and done a lot of hiking but somehow I’d never ended up on this trail.

As I’ve written about often over the past months the peace of being in the woods is nothing short of awesome. One step into the snow covered forest valley and I felt at home. The quiet stillness of the woods had me wide eyed and smiling in awe. Sharing the experience with my family made it all the better.

Walking along the ridge provided astonishing vistas on both sides. One side was overlooking the forested valley. My eyes scanned the woods for signs of movement to catch a glimpse of wildlife like the few deer last weekend. This side looked like it was straight out of a painting and was exactly the view I’d love to have from my backyard each day (minus the winter wonderland).

The other side was a panoramic view of La Crosse and the Mississippi River Valley. We could see the majority of the city and multiple rows of bluffs in the distant background. The view was simply breathtaking.

What really caught my attention was that this was a new view of the same valley I spend the majority of my life in. It took a moment for me to re-orient myself as the view was different than I’d seen in the past. The valley was the same, the city was the same, it was my perspective that had changed. Seeing it from a different angle allowed me to see different parts and to observe the landscape from vantages I’d never used before. I was grateful for the opportunity to see the “same old” differently.

That got me thinking to the way my morning started. I am still living the same life I always have. I am still me. That said, the change to my morning routine has allowed me a different vantage point to view my life from.

In August of 2016 I wrote a blog post about the metaphor of a shoebox diorama (you can read it here). I love the metaphor of having a shoebox diorama with an entire scene put into it. When new eyeholes are put in I can look in on the same scene from a different angle and I’m able to enjoy the new view. It provides the opportunity to catch new details never seen before and to gain a deeper meaning based on the additional view.

While looking at the city from a new perspective on the trail I thought about that shoebox diorama. Then I thought of the diorama of my life. The new eye holes I’ve recently punched in to view my life – daily reminders of my values, daily reminders of my goals, living intentionally – have allowed me the opportunity to view my life from a different perspective and I’m very grateful for that.

Thanks!!!