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!

Day 1,360 – Thankful for a Larger Than Life Uncle

My heart is heavy at the loss of my Uncle Frank today, but it’s also been full of joy as I remember times spent with him. He’s helped to create some wonderful memories for me and my family.

Today my mind is continuing to be blown away by the positive impact Uncle Frank left on so many. So many people have shared stories and memories with Uncle Frank over the past few days. Whenever I open up my phone there are more Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, and even new reports about him.

Each shared story and memory has several common themes. The overwhelming positivity and upbeat attitude. The way Frank gave so much of himself. His huge heart. The way he helped other people feel. His passion for the Packers. The loved he shared with everyone.

As the past week has gone on I can’t help but continue to be so grateful for a larger than life uncle. There is so much to learn from how he lived his life. The lasting positive impact Uncle Frank has left on so many continues to become more and more apparent.

A little over three years ago I wrote a blog post about Uncle Frank. When I read it today I couldn’t help but smile and see such more true the post was today than ever. https://thankful4forty.com/2017/02/16/thankful-for-uncle-frank-allowing-us-to-hitch-a-ride-on-his-dream/

Uncle Frank, you’ll be greatly missed by many. You’ve left such a wonderful legacy that will live on in the memories of so many and inspired them to do the same.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,359 – Thankful for Adjusting My Mental Diet

Want to lose weight? When I dropped 60+ pounds I learned something very important. Exercise and calorie burn are a key component of weight loss. They pale in comparison to diet. I tried everything to fight this and prove it to be wrong. “If the engine is burning hot enough it’ll burn anything as fuel,” right? Nope. Not by a long shot.

When the pounds melted off and stayed off it was when I was fastidiously tracking my food intake. When the pounds have come back on it is usually when I’m not tracking anything. If I’m not focused on intake and tracking it my habits drift away from my goals and suddenly I find myself going backwards.

Yuck… Dieting… Gross…

One benefit of our current situation is a reduction in car time. It’s great, there’s more time to be productive AND more time to live. I’m finding there is a significant challenge to this change that I must work on.

If I’m in the car 12+ hours per week it’s easy for me to read via audiobooks and podcasts. My mental diet is usually very good. I eat my vegetables (some bland business related books and short thought based podcasts), enjoy my proteins (autobiographies and books by favorite authors), and even sneak in a dessert or two (a fun podcast and fiction). It’s very balanced and there is a consistency to it.

I haven’t been driving nearly as much and my diet has really gone to garbage. It’s not that my intake is of bad choices (I’ll avoid FoxNews and CNN like the plague), but rather I’m not consuming as much as I should be.

So that’s probably a little too extreme. It’s not really terrible. That said, it’s not where I want it to be. What I’m learning is what my reading “stable state” is currently. To use Becky’s research terms I’m finding that this “basin of attraction” has caused my “stable state” to change due to the “regime shift.” LOL – I still love the way she explained that part of her work, it really helps me see a visual of how we shift from one “normal” to another.

This is very much like my eating. I now know my stable state isn’t what I want it to be. My mental diet is not as healthy as I’d like it to be. Time to buck up and move it back to where I want it to be. Funny thing is that the term Becky would use for that is resilience. Both of the books I’ve read and am reading currently include Grit and Mindset. The focus of each? Essentially resilience. What did it take for me to lose weight (and accomplish several of the other goals)? Resilience.

I know I can do this and will get back to the mental diet I know I prefer. I just need to follow the steps I know will cause me to be successful: Set the goal, determine the lead measures to get me there, determine how to track my progress, and get to work. Pretty simple.

Bring it on mental diet, I’m ready!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,358 – Thankful for Life Lessons from SUP Yoga

One activity that lends itself very well to social distancing is Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga. For the first time in many months I had the opportunity to participate in a real life yoga class again and it was AWESOME!!! Everyone was very spaced out from each other throughout the entirety of the class so it was great way to be able to have a class and stay very safe.

This was from last year’s SUP yoga – I still can’t believe I held wheel like that on a paddle board!

While out on the water there were so many moments when I caught myself chuckling, sometimes aloud. Throughout the entire practice there were little reminders of life lessons – many of which seemed very fitting in the moment for many reasons. Here are a small handful that really hit home:

  • Shift slowly – The more you move and adjust quickly the more likely you are to fall. Easy movements keep you dry.
  • Stillness is your ally – Balance is so much easier to keep when I quiet my mind and become still. The answers to challenges are right in front of me, slow down and let the clutter get out of the way.
  • Go with the waves – Certain forces are 100% outside of my control. Recognize the quickly and go with them as opposed to fighting them.
  • Trust in yourself – I can do this. I’ve done this before. The variables may be slightly different, but I know how to be successful. Trust myself.
  • Dissect your fear – Quite often I was nervous and that fear got in my way. What was I afraid of? When I really thought about it the worst thing that could happen was falling into water that comes up to my shoulders on a hot day. Did I mention the water was already very warm and refreshing? What was there really to fear? Why would I let it hold me back from anything?
  • Choose my attitude – During the practice there were three young men playing loud music, splashing around, and making all types of noise. For one nanosecond I was frustrated. That quickly changed and I choose an attitude of gratitude. With that change I was suddenly flooded back with memories of hanging out with my buddies during summers as kid. We had so much fun doing those exact things they were doing. I couldn’t help but smile when I heard something loud followed by a loud laugh from them. With the wrong attitude I heard noise, with the right attitude I heard joy and nostalgia.
  • Presence is the key – There were moments of pure bliss when I totally lost myself in the moment. I felt no worry, no expectations, and no fear. There was only life, love, and a deep appreciation of both in those moments.

So many beautiful lessons wrapped into an hour and a half of serenity. What a blessing it was to attend yoga today.

Thanks!!!