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Holiday Reflections and the Passion of Impact

I woke up in rural Wisconsin on Christmas morning. When I peeked out the window of my mother-in-law's home it was seven-below on the thermometer. I grew up in rural Wisconsin -- that is how it is supposed to be on Christmas morning.

What do I mean by rural? Well, driving the last seven miles on a twisting county road during a blizzard means no plowing, drifting snow and no actual idea where the road was. Rural also means no cell phone coverage or e-mail connections unless I drove 15 miles to a McDonalds to find a wireless connection.

But what rural really means is making time to talk to my 89-year-old mother-in-law recovering from knee replacement surgery. Every morning, I would wake and the coffee would be ready, a Danish would be on a plate and we would sit in our chairs and watch TV. Or she would read a daily devotional and we would talk -- just good conversation -- until she dozed off. In the afternoon I might nap or drive to the local small-town (population 268) bar and order pizza or sandwiches for dinner. While I waited, I would sip a beer and chat with the one or two folks at the bar about the upcoming Packers game.

On two days, I went for a walk. It had gotten up to 20 degrees and the snow was still crunchy but the air was crisp, clear, almost light. If you have not felt that kind of Wisconsin fresh air, you are missing out. I had forgotten what it does to your nose and lungs -- it is a cleansing experience.

As I trudged down the street the people in the few cars that went by waved as if they knew me. It is what you do in small towns. One day, I walked into the Pigeon Falls, Wisc. meat market to buy meatball mix and lefse (Norwegian tortillas) and the owner came up to me and said, "You're Thoreson, right? I saw you on Facebook!" Amazing.

It was a quiet few days to reflect, reunite with family and friends, share laughs and stories, and end with warm hugs and big smiles. It is where I come from.

There were other experiences, as well, but what I returned with is a continued reinforcement of the blessings we have, knowing that many others in this world don't have them. I have a continued commitment to do what I can to help others improve their lives and inspire them to succeed. In a recent speech, I talked about the impact others had on my life -- but the reality is the more you impact the lives of others, the more personally successful you will be.

Posted by Ken Thoreson on December 28, 2012


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