Thankful for Taking a Breath, a Life Changing Moment, and Listening with Presence

Day 2,198

Growth:

What a ride home it was today! While waiting at a red light I was rear ended. I pulled to the side of the road, saw there was damage, and then got back in to pull over in a safer place. While I did that the driver of the other car hit the gas and drove away.

Rather than getting angry I took a deep breath – heeding my advice from yesterday’s blog. I calmly called the police and they were able to get everything rolling. While I sat in the car and awaited further instruction I took another deep breath and started typing this blog.

I would normally have gotten very upset in a situation like this. Having just written about this very topic only yesterday helped me remember that what was done was done, there was no point in wasting emotional energy over it. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks! 😉

Appreciation:

Way back in the day a friend really caught my attention by asking a very simple question.

“Are you okay? You don’t seem yourself.”

For ways I’ll keep to myself that question literally altered the direction of my life for the better. I can honestly say the likelihood of my life being the same is almost zero thanks to her moment of focus, concern, and caring. I learned so many valuable lessons in that moment – about myself, life, and others. It was transformative.

The question was simple, the intent heartfelt, the impact profound. I appreciate that question, that moment, and that friend tremendously.

Presence:

Sometimes we must listen with more than our ears. I know, technically you can only “hear” with your ears, but I swear there are other ways to “listen” to other people. Today I’m thankful I paused to really listen and take the appropriate action. I’m also thankful for the moment I described above as that helped me see the right action to take to help.

Thanks!!!

Thankful for Pausing, Reflecting, and a Single Maple Tree

Day 2,197

Growth:

The growth moment for today is one which has presented itself in a handful of ways over the past week or two. The lesson has shown up as a very clearly and directly as well as undervocer as a metaphor and as a lived example of why it is important. All around me are these clues and gestures which point to a better way of being.

The lesson? There’ve been a handful of subtle variations but at its core is this…

Count to three, take a deep breath, and then respond. Don’t react immediately, take a moment to pause and think, and then take action.

So wonderfully simple and easy, yet wildly difficult. So much more work to put into my practice of doing this correctly.

Appreciation:

My gratitude today comes as a result of a few different articles in APNews.com recently. I am so blessed, fortunate, and grateful for my life in this country. While I drive with my family to go for a leisurely hike in the bluffs there are so many people living through unspeakable challenges throughout the world. The situation I live in each day is very fortunate and I’m thankful for the life I’m able to live. My heart aches for those in difficult situations, I know I must do better to help others who need it.

Presence:

Hiking in the bluffs always brings about such calm. The smell of the woods mixed with the spectacular vistas could help me lose myself in the beauty of the present in an instant.

What really jumped out to me today was something truly exquisite. While atop the ridge of a bluff we looked over the expanse of the Mississippi River Valley. So many trees, plants, rock formations, backwaters, and so on along the river, beauty ot be found everywhere. Where I lost myself in the present during that time was when my eyes chanced upon a single maple in blazing red standing all alone amongst a sea of green leaves. It was simply stunning.

Thanks!!!

Thankful for Shackleton, Naps, and Time with Teammates Outside of Work

Day 2,196

Growth:

At a dinner with friend this evening we spent some time talking about a variety of topics, one in particular really caught my attention. For a number of years the story of Shackleton and the Endurance has been one I’ve wanted to learn more about. Two of the people I was talking with got into a discussion about that specific story. In less than ten minutes of conversation I was hopping into my Audible account to add South to my wish list. Why add this to the “Growth” section today? Reading is one of my favorite things, the opportunity to learn new things is always high on my list. Hearing these stories had me re-energized to learn more about this incredible journey.

Appreciation:

I’ve been going pretty hard for quite a few straight weeks now and definitely was feeling it. After taking LuLu for a walk in the sun I listened to my body and took a nap. It was glorious! I’m so thankul for taking a moment (or twenty) to rest, relax, and recharge. The rest of the day was much improved as a result.

Presence:

At the Maple Leaf Parade for Oktoberfest in La Crosse I had the opportunity to spend a little bit of time with one of my teammates. I met more of her family, spent time joking around and shooting the bull, and enjoyed their company. It was awesome! As I walked back to the rest of my family I realized how great it was to be 100% in the moment with my teammate and her family, to have great conversation, and to enjoy their company. Good stuff!

Thanks!!!

Thankful for Glimpses of the Power of Purpose

Day 2,054

As I prep for bed and conduct my daily ritual of blogging my mind is going in a couple of different directions for my blog. There are a few distinct appreciations which all seem to flow into a common theme. Just a heads up, this is all going to sound familiar as the path is one I’ve traveled recently.

Starting my morning yesterday with an early morning hike with Becky was outstanding. To share time in the woods with her while we both take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors is something I enjoy immensely. Amongst all I do in life this type of activity hovers continually near the top. Not only does it provide moments of awe and wonder leading to extreme presence, but I get to share it with my best friend and soulmate. Doing what we love while sharing in that love together is something I do not take for granted. We are so fortunate to have the common love and appreciation of nature. Those times together hiking the trails, whether exploring a new to us National Park or wandering the same old trail for the ten thousandth time, are one of the ways I re-charge, refresh, and refill my reservoir of energy. By taking that time to the two of us I have the strength and energy to live into my sense of purpose and am much more likely to live more closely into the person I am called to be – it helps me work on the gap. All the while my heart is filled with tremendous joy.

This morning I spent a lot of time with a teammate I haven’t had a ton of one on one time with. The entire experience was incredibly enlightening as well as a ton of fun. I was able to learn so much about her, hear about her motivations, her dreams, and her story. Throughout I kept thinking about how this was exactly where I was supposed to be at that time. Hearing her share her experiences helped me see how we’ve made progress towards living into our purpose while simultaneously providing an opportunity to dream a bigger and better vision of what living that purpose could look like. It was a conversation which will leave lasting fingerprints on our future.

During the day there was a moment in which I took a couple of actions which I would have most likely skipped in the past. Before I could help myself I was leaping into action and unaware of moving myself outside of my comfort zone. The action itself was taken because it was necessary based on purpose, on our why. So many times in the past I’ve taken action more for ego’s sake, if I’m completely honest with myself. This time was 100% for the cause, to protect the purpose. I was reminded afterwards of a comment from Tribal Leadership: the right purpose, the right reason, they work through us. This was a moment in which the purpose warranted action and action was taken immediately. Afterwards a passing conversation in an elevator showed me the importance of the action. Purpose caused necessary action which wouldn’t have otherwise happened.

Purpose, such a powerful thing. It is truly humbling, each time I feel like I’m understanding the power of purpose more I quickly realize how little about the power of purpose I truly know. Each time I start to get a glimpse I quickly see there is so much more than what I am getting a glimpse of. What a beautiful journey this has been and will continue to be!

Thanks!!!

Thankful for Remembering Lightbulb Moments Aren’t Created In an Instant or Alone

Day 2,025

Been an excellent day for a wide variety of reasons stretching from getting to know teammates better, learning new tricks, seeing the boys excel in school, having unexpected downtime, making progress in the areas that matter most, seeing incredible potential, and a profound sense of calm. As per the norm, throw in a handful of moments which remind me of the value of purpose. Wild. Even as I type all this my brain can’t quite realize this was all in only one day. Wowza!

Earlier in the day we had our monthly Think Day in Winona – that time when we pause reality for four hours to focus on working “on” the business rather than merely “in” it. Many insights, new ideas, and potential solutions throughout that thinking time together.

At one point I had one of those “Eureka” moments and had an excellent idea. For the briefest of seconds there was a tremendous sense of pride as my ego gave itself a quick pat on the back for the genius is so obviously thought it was in that moment… and then reality kicked in. This wasn’t a struck by insight moments in which I caught lightning in a bottle, nothing could be further from the truth.

This stroke of insight and genius was the result of MANY hours of life lessons, training, learning, thinking, and the like. When I really dissect the genesis of the idea I could see the different influences of books and articles I’ve read as recently as earlier in the day and as far back as a couple of decades. Conversations with clients, teammates, mentors, friends, family, and strangers all planted the seeds of the idea. Stories shared by others each left their own individual impacts. The focus on our values, the intensity of my preoccupation with purpose, and even some huge takeaways from a training in London, Ontario about 20 years ago all played into this idea. This wasn’t a spur of the moment, flip the switch, A-Ha moment… it was the culmination of a tremendously large number of hours spent honing a craft and knowledge.

As I was then complimenting my work ethic, drive, and wisdom, I realized something. This wasn’t even my idea! Honestly, it was an idea from a teammate which was generated by another teammate which was the result of a different idea from a conversation about an entirely different topic. This wasn’t “Mike’s Incredible Genius,” rather, this was the work of so many teammates, mentors, coaches, associates, clients, and the like. This was their idea, their genius all put together and on display.

By the time I’d realized this I was chuckling to myself, I swear I could even hear Dad loving call me one of my favorite nicknames in moments like this… “dumbass,” a la Red Foreman from That 70’s Show. 100% in a loving way, and 100% well deserved.

A stroke of genius which seems so obvious the moment it is uttered that we kind of stop and wonder how we all missed it. Not a lightning strike of insight – rather, the result of many, many, many hours of hard work, learning, and sharing of ideas between an incredibly large network of wonderful people, without any single one of which the idea may have never came to fruition. I just happened to have the opportunity to help connect the dots, I was the one who found the last puzzle piece laying on the floor after all but that piece was put together.

Those magical “Lightbulb Moments” are usually the result of so many hours of learning by so many people. I am thankful for that reminder today.

Not gonna lie, it felt good to put the last piece of the puzzle in place, but it feels even better to stand back and look at what we all created together. That’s success.

Thanks!!!

Thankful for Feeling the Positive Results of Training and ANOTHER Bison Sighting

Day 2,022

Last week’s 9 mile training run was brutal. Nothing felt right, it was all off, and it was one of the less pleasant runs I’ve had in a very long time. Regardless, I did it. Today I was able to reap the benefits of it.

Our training run today was on a paved trail in Ankeny, Iowa. After a couple of miles the trail was completely out of town and we were running in between farm fields with only the occasional little bit of brush and some barbed wire fences. The way out we had the winds at our back, on the way in we were running into a 20+ mph headwind. The sun was out and the temperature was in the mid forties, pretty much ideal.

In continuing a weird streak this was the second time when I happened to run past the very much unexpected bison! How wild is that???

One of the best parts of this run was how great I felt before, during, and after the run. Everything clicked throughout the ten miles. Even now I’ve only got a little bit of stiffness in one ankle, the rest of me feels fantastic. If I was pressed to I know I could take off on a 5k right now, very different than last weekend’s ordeal.

I am so grateful for seeing the positive impact of training today. All runs, even especially the difficult ones, strengthen me up for the next. Each longer and longer run beats my body up just enough to break it a little so that it heals itself stronger for the next one. I could 100% feel that positive impact today.

Quick note to my future self who may be reading this sometime later… What a wonderful reminder of how we all grow through difficulty and adversity. True growth occurs during periods of challenge.

Thanks!!!

Thankful for a Perfectly Surreal Winter Running Experience

Day 2,020

I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks! Rather than stay out and bark at the moon with some cohorts I chose to be in bed before 10pm. This move allowed me to get up and moving a little before 5:30am this morning.

Even though I was out of town for work I still wanted to knock out my Friday morning run, especially knowing that there was a lot of car time in my future. I got up, knocked the rust off my joints, and got ready to head out for my run.

As luck would have it there was what appeared to be a nice little trail only a couple of blocks from my hotel. Off I went into the snow, ice, and stiff wind with my headlamp on and my headphones playing an album from one of my new favorite bands that I’d never listened to before.

Only a couple of days ago my friend James turned me on to The Rural Alberta Advantage and I’ve been working my way through all of their albums. The next one up was Mended with Gold – I’d highly recommend giving it a listen.

The music was beyond perfect for the winter run. I’m struggling to put into words the reasons why it fit so well. The best I can come up with is that it was just perfect. I know, great work in being descriptive Kreiling, right? The sound, the tempo, the lyrics, the emotion in the voice… everything fit the cold, bitter, windy, snowy, and icy run in the pre-dawn lighting. Hmm… the music was raw in almost a primal way, the way the run felt.

As if that wasn’t already enough to create an epic running experience I crested a hill, turned a little corner, and saw this…

Yessir, those are buffalo! Bison Bison if you will. The trail skirted the little zoo and wildlife park in Marshfield, WI. Unbeknownst to me this meant I had an opportunity to get relatively up close and personal with one of my favorite animals. The hairy giants added to the surrealness of the run. It was only the bison and I out and about as there were no roads, houses, or people nearby.

Just before I encountered the bison the song Runners In the Night, a wonderfully perfect soundtrack for that exact moment.

I had to pause and just take it all in. The entire event was so surreal on so many levels. The profoundness of the presence I experienced in that moment is indescribable. It was a perfectly surreal winter running experience. Beautiful in so many levels, my heart still swell with joy as I think about it.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,993 – Thankful for Family Helping Each Other Through Grief

Our boxer, Skywalker, passed away suddenly today after doing her favorite thing, going for a walk with Becky and LuLu (Skywalker’s sister). The loss of one of our family was very much unexpected and rough for everyone in our home. It still feels very surreal and seems to hit each of us at different times.

The boys and I were up at Mom’s when we got the call from Becky. We quickly realized that the right place for us to be at that moment was home with Becky and LuLu. Huge thanks and appreciation to Mom for understanding our need to cut our trip very short. Our ride home was brutal, each of us dealing with the sudden loss. The two hour drive seemed to last three times that long.

Once home we spent time together in the living room snuggling with LuLu and looking through old pictures and videos of Skywalker. From there we all just crashed on the couches and fired up a movie while snuggling with LuLu. Pretty soon I’ll be off to bed.

Tomorrow we’ll start our first day without Sky around sharing her positive energy with us right away in the morning. At least we will continue helping each other through the loss as a family. As difficult as it is to suffer loss, I am so thankful for our ability to help each other through it as a family.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,992 – Thankful for Swapping Two Words to Swap My Attitude and Opportunities to Practice Stillness

Yesterday morning I was on an enlightening webinar featuring Dr. Cindra Kamphoff. While there were many notes taken there was one line which stuck in my brain. “Things don’t happen TO you, they happen FOR you.” Let that one sink in for a moment… “Things don’t happen TO you, they happen FOR you.”

With one little phrase the key to reframing our mindset can be changed. The key is to consider how whatever is happening can be used as an opportunity to learn. In many ways it’s a twist on one of my favorite questions, “What can I learn from this?”

Today I had more than a couple of opportunities to practice this. They presented themselves as mild annoyances. Someone driving 20 mph below the speed limit on the interstate a couple of miles from my exit with a line of over a dozen cars behind it. Someone parking in the second to last spot in the lot and parking about six inches over the line and into the last remaining spot. As I type this I know how lame both of those sound and it’s pretty disappointing to admit I was frustrated by both of those moments. I was stuck in the mindset of thinking about how each of those things had happened TO me.

As I was slowly calming my brain down and working back into a good headspace in yoga I could feel the stress fade away. I focused on my breathing and the stretching and all was good in the world. At the end of our practice we moved into final rest, a few moments of complete quiet and stillness, one of my favorite parts of the practice. Complete stillness…

…until someone coughed. Then a sneeze. Then some heavy breathing. The sound of a water bottle being moved. Someone nearby moving a little to adjust themselves. Distracting sound followed by distracting sound, one after another, after another.

As I lay on my back with my eyes closed and a towel over them I almost started to laugh. I could hear Dad’s voice in my head, “how’s the stillness now Mikey?” as he laughed along with me. Each time there was another noise I could feel my body starting to convulse as I fought back deep belly laughter.

While I was not in a deep state of calm and there was noise all around me I chose the right mindset. This was all happening FOR me. What an opportunity to remember how important it is to choose the right mindset, to choose growth over frustration.

One of my favorite quotes from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations was going through my head as I started to laugh quietly during yoga.

“Choose not to be harmed – and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed – and you haven’t been.”

Today I am grateful for the opportunity to practice swapping two words to swap an attitude and opportunities to choose stillness.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,990 – Thankful for Surreal Moments, My Brother-In-Law Curling in the Paralympics

I’m a huge fan of getting enough sleep each night. Sleep is one of my favorites, no question. Now, that said, I have not been sleeping well at all lately. And it has been 100% on purpose. Why on earth would I sacrifice my sleep when I value it so much? The answer is pretty simple and totally surreal.

My brother-in-law, Matt, is the Skip of the Team USA Wheelchair Curling crew in the 2022 Paralympics in Beijing! A couple of quick clicks and we had access to watch all of his Paralympic curling matches live and on our TV. Talk about wild, we are watching Matt curl on our Living room TV!

Being able to watch “Uncle Matt” living out his Olympic dreams has been awesome. Completely surreal, and totally amazing. We’re all having so much fun watching him and Team USA compete with best countries in the world.

Thanks for letting us hitch a ride on your dream Matt!!!

Thanks!!!