Thankful for a Beautiful Winter Run in the Spring and Making Maple Syrup

Day 2,028

This morning Becky and I went for our long training run for the week. When Becky picked our half marathon it was in the hopes of being able to get some nice trail runs in with some nice Spring weather. As we all know now, that hasn’t really been the case. Due to Mother Nature’s insistence on extending Winter we’ve had neither trail runs (too wet & muddy) nor nice weather (unless you really enjoy 20+ mph winds and temperatures below 20).

The run this morning started off ridiculously frigid as we ran directly into the stiff wind as the snow pelted us in the face. I, as the big dumb animal I sometimes am known to be, opted for shorts in this 20 degree weather which felt like 9 including wind chill. Not my brightest move. The first couple of miles were pretty rough.

Becky had the idea to take a gravel side road through the woods to cut down on the wind. We were immediately significantly warmer due to the woods breaking up the gusts of wind. The road we were on went alongside the Jump River intermittently and gave us some spectacular scenery. There were several turkeys, ducks, pheasants, and a pair of turkey vultures joining us occasionally. At one point Becky and I had a couple of horses in a field joining us from their side of the fence. Everything was so peaceful and chill, it was exactly why I enjoy getting into the woods. I was realizing how the “marathon monks” are really onto the right idea with the running meditations. My favorite part of the scenery was a specific bend in the Jump River. The woods opened up and the river was on full display with a high embankment on the other side making it feel a lot like being up in the UP of Michigan (which we’re really not that far from). It was awesome!

Yes, the weather and conditions were less than ideal. That said, as is the case with anything in life, it is up to each of us to choose where we put our focus and the lens through which we view the world around us. I chose to focus on the beauty of the outdoors, the time in the woods, and the appreciation of doing something out in the wild with Becky. Totally one of my favorite activities in the world.

After we got back and showered up I had an opportunity to help my in laws make maple syrup. They were kind enough to save about 50 gallons of sap to boil down specifically with us. The timing hasn’t worked out in the past for us to help and participate in this activity in the past, I was so pumped to help out this time around!

The entire process was incredible to experience. The time and energy it took to boil out all the water out of the sap to go from 50 gallons of sap to just over a gallon of syrup was wild! Throughout we took out samples, tested the sugar content, and kept the sap boiling. In addition to the fun of observing the process I got a ton of bonus time with my father in law, always something I appreciate. Having the opportunity to shoot the bull with him was awesome, he had me smiling and laughing the entire time. I can’t begin to put into words how much I appreciate my father in law, he’s amazing in so many ways!

Being able to say I helped to make syrup still has me smiling. Each time I gobble up some maple syrup I’ll be sure to remember all the work that goes into making it and will be even more grateful for everyone who made it for us.

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 1,995 – Thankful for Awesome Acts of Kindness by Teammates

I’m not sure what happened, but there were a couple of onion cutting ninjas running about our office this afternoon. When I went to sit down for our team meeting I couldn’t find where to sit as all the seats were full except for one that had a plant and card in front of it. My teammates must’ve seen me struggling with the math and told me to sit at the seat with this in front of it:

Talk about incredibly thoughtful. The ninjas started cutting onions and my eyes started to water to the point I had to walk out of the room. They must’ve cut more onions later as I looked at the card and the plant while alone in my office. One of them even snuck into the car and went to work while I drove.

For reals, what an awesome act of kindness from the team. My entire family enjoyed the card and plant, it created many hugs and watery eyes. I’m beyond blessed to have such loving and caring people in my life.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,989 – Thankful for Sharing Many Moments of Joy, Love, and Beauty

What a fulfilling day on so many levels. Seemingly around each corner was an opportunity to grow, to love, to support, to help, or to feel incredible sense of purpose. Not everything went as planned, but even the things that didn’t happen as expected presented opportunities for beauty, love, and joy.

When I stopped at Caribou Coffee to pick up some drinks for my team I was presented a new opportunity. The cashier was hearing impaired and smiled and pointed to the whiteboard. This was a first for me and it was an experience I’ll never forget.

Without spoken language we communicated the order for six drinks with various intricacies. We laughed together at various times, helped each other through hand motions, and shared so many smiles together as we proceeded through the transaction. At one point when she was trying to help me answer a question she resorted to wrapping her arms around herself and acting like she was shivering. “Iced!” I proclaimed with glee and a giggle. It was amongst the most pleasant and joyful customer experiences I’ve ever had.

As a writer and speaker I’m a huge fan of words to communicate. In many ways they are the tool of my trade, my most trusted implement. With the inability to use them it was interesting to see how quickly we were able to adapt and still make a connection. At a deep and primal level it helped me see that we are all truly wired for love.

There were so many other moments which touched my soul. Receiving coaching from teammates, listening to friends, seeing how past mistakes were translated into learning which was passed on as wisdom. Seeing how different we all are as people and yet how perfectly similar we all are. Recognizing our shared anxieties and helping each other through them. Realizing a profound sense of purpose in both helping others and in receiving help. Sharing in our humanity, sharing love and joy even in, and especially in, moments of pain and frustration.

If today were my last day upon the earth I would go into the next completely peaceful and knowing I’d spent much of my last day of this life witnessing the beauty, joy, and love we are all capable of.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,988 – Thankful for Another Gift Within a Gift at Yoga

Another Monday night yoga practice, another moment of profound insight nestled in the deeply calm state of presence.

The two biggest reasons I love hitting yoga are the physical workout as well as the focused presence. Put those two components together and I’m always grateful for taking the time to get all namaste.

While those two are the headliners there’s an awesome added bonus which sometimes appears when my mind is deep in that state of serenity. Occasionally an idea will hatch during the practice. A little nugget of wisdom worth more than one hundred times it’s weight in gold. A magical moment of clarity and understanding which help me understand some better than before.

Tonight that gem was the realization that when learning and attempting something I’ve never done there is no stress about anything else in life. The act of focused and intentional learning create a state in which there is no concern or anxiety about anything outside the task. If I’ve truly set my soul properly there is also no anxiety in what I am learning, there is only the bliss of play. How wild is that? When I find myself stressing or anxious I need only play a little game with myself – what can I learn from this – to transition from anxiety into calm.

That bonus lesson buried within a yoga practice was yet another example of how much can be gained by pausing the busyness of life and intentionally choosing stillness and presence. As Becky pointed out on Friday, the world would be a much better place if everyone paused for a moment to practice yoga. The entire world would quickly become all namaste.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,988 – Thankful for Another Gift Within a Gift at Yoga

Another Monday night yoga practice, another moment of profound insight nestled in the deeply calm state of presence.

The two biggest reasons I love hitting yoga are the physical workout as well as the focused presence. Put those two components together and I’m always grateful for taking the time to get all namaste.

While those two are the headliners there’s an awesome added bonus which sometimes appears when my mind is deep in that state of serenity. Occasionally an idea will hatch during the practice. A little nugget of wisdom worth more than one hundred times it’s weight in gold. A magical moment of clarity and understanding which help me understand some better than before.

Tonight that gem was the realization that when learning and attempting something I’ve never done there is no stress about anything else in life. The act of focused and intentional learning create a state in which there is no concern or anxiety about anything outside the task. If I’ve truly set my soul properly there is also no anxiety in what I am learning, there is only the bliss of play. How wild is that? When I find myself stressing or anxious I need only play a little game with myself – what can I learn from this – to transition from anxiety into calm.

That bonus lesson buried within a yoga practice was yet another example of how much can be gained by pausing the busyness of life and intentionally choosing stillness and presence. As Becky pointed out on Friday, the world would be a much better place if everyone paused for a moment to practice yoga. The entire world would quickly become all namaste.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,984 – Thankful for a Gratitude Filled Day with Think Days, Excellent Teams, Honoring Dad’s Legacy, a Book Causing a Visceral Response, Gavin’s Growth, and Uncle Matt on TV

Wowza, where do I even begin today? The day has been packed with so many gratitude filled moments, I’m definitely going with a conglomerate of appreciation. Even in this fashion my biggest hope is that I don’t miss one of the key moments.

My Winona team and I had our monthly Think Day and it was one I’ll remember forever. We helped each other work out some very important things and bond more as a team. Seeing the growth everyone has had over the past handful of months was incredible. There is a magic to teams in which you feel 100% comfortable being who you are, sharing emotions as you would with family, and supporting each other throughout all of life. I’m blessed to be a member of a couple of those teams.

In a moment of reflection I found an awesome way to honor Dad and help continue his legacy. Taking action on it this week has been more rewarding than I could have ever dreamt. More details to follow on May 26th. 😉

I finished reading 1984 today, fitting seeing as this is blog 1,984. This was the first time I can remember having a profoundly visceral wave of nausea strictly from reading. As I said a couple of nights ago, if you haven’t read it for a while you may want to pick it up. Mindblowingly impactful on numerous levels.

Gavin’s parent teacher conference this evening was incredible. During the last one he found a couple of things to work on and he totally crushed them over the past quarter. Hearing the glowing reviews of his teachers was music for my soul. Gavin’s leadership skills, focus, and growth make me burst with pride. Excellent work bud! Love you dude!

Becky’s brother, Matt, is in the Paralympics in Beijing for curling and I wanted to make sure we have everything set up to watch his matches live on TV. In doing so we happened to stumble across the preview pic for the match… and it was Matt!!! How wild is that??? Seeing someone we know and love on our TV was crazy! Super proud of him and so pumped to see how he and his team do.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,979 – Thankful for Creating Space in Nature in a City

I am currently sitting outside our hotel and convention center. If I look with my eyes there are people everywhere, buildings, concrete, fake grass, and palm trees with 2×4 board supports. Anything but being outside in nature. The smell of chlorine, food, and cigarette smoke linger in the air. The breeze blows the sounds of people talking, traffic, and rushing water from the water park towards me and into my ears.

I can choose to focus on this if I wish. If I choose nothing specific to put my attention towards they suffocate my senses. They lock me into a place I don’t find peace, the put me into a self selected purgatory of sorts.

I have made the choice to not see it, to not hear it, to not smell it. I am outside, under the sun, and in nature.

I close my eyes and think about my recent walk around the large pond. Though it may technically be a retaining pool it was a treasure trove of the outdoors for me. The only sounds I heard were those of turtles splashing into the water as I walked by, the wings of birds propelling themselves across the lake in search of fish, and the quiet stillness of the breeze. I don’t see the traffic on the nearby interstate, I choose to see all the miracles of nature in the water. So many birds, fish, and turtles. No gators like earlier in the day, but still so much to see.

I am thankful for the reminder today of how being out in nature is a mindset that is ours to choose and seek out, even when surrounded by people and in urban areas. It’s all a matter of intentionally choosing what I want to focus my thoughts and energy on.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,975 – Thankful for Driving On Snowy Roads

This may sound crazy, but I’m thankful for snowy roads today. My commute to Eau Claire was a bit longer than usual due to the road conditions. Between snow, ice, & wind the speeds in all directions were significantly slower than usual. This led to a couple of unexpected benefits.

Thanks to the slickness of the roads I knew I’d be in for a long ride. With that mindset I calmed way down, accepted whatever was thrown my way, and I could feel my blood pressure drop. It was so much more relaxing when I knew I was in no hurry. Instead I leaned into the slower pace and totally chilled while driving.

The extra time in the car also helped me make some serious progress on the next book I’ve been reading. With the added calmness I felt as if I were able to retain significantly more than usual which was great! There was also time to pause, reflect, plan, and then get back to the book itself. Bonus reading time!

Sure, it’s not ideal, but if I choose the right mindset there’s even something to be thankful for on snowy roads.

Thanks!!!