I transferred photos the other day, to a big external hard drive… LOTS of photos.

I spent around 2 hours on Tuesday morning, watching the progress bar on my monitor, barely move. But it started first because I wanted to clear out my DSLR camera’s memory cards before Thanksgiving. That didn’t take much time at all. I had summer vacation pictures and baby pictures, but only a couple hundred.

So then I moved on to my Dropbox account where my phone uploads pictures I take. I moved a couple thousand snapshots to my computer. Then I cleared that online cloud storage folder.

After that I tackled the telephone – only another 4500 pictures needed to be copied from it. That is when the progress slowed waaay down.

An hour later, I had everything transferred and cleaned up. WOW, it appears that I take a LOT of pictures.

What are they really though? These digital images? Why do I spend a bunch of time saving them or trying to back them up?

Physically, they almost don’t exist. I have no idea how my computer’s drive saves them. I know how to retrieve them and edit or print. But, physically I am not aware of how they work. I do know that each of the pictures on my phone are at least a couple megabytes each in size. I know that they are each a rectangle shaped jumble of multicolored pixels.

Physically then, it is true that each picture on my phone is exactly like every other one. The image may lend itself to be more zeros than ones, in the binary format, based on how light or dark it is. But looking at each pictures actual ‘physical’ code, doesn’t tell us much of anything about them.

Physically, at the structural level, they aren’t much use to us.

Ahh, so there must be more reason for me to spend two hours saving them then…

Of course. The photos on my phone or yours are not merely the sum of their digital code.

The content of the picture, the still image, the frozen captured snapshot of a real-life moment is what could be important to us. Important enough to save.

I have lots of them that are worth it. I have pictures of my wife and my nephews, of the funny staff of our restaurant, and of course, my baby too. I have LOTS of pictures of my baby!

Thousands of them, and physically they are worthless, but spiritually they are like refreshing sips of a life altering elixir. The spirit awakens and dances within when we look at a picture of our family, of places we visited, of our children. The value of a photograph is individual and special and exciting to see, when you connect to it in a personal way.

I have lots of photos that I saved that are just documents. Maybe it is a part number of a piece of equipment, or contact information, or a blank screen from an accidental shot. Physically, they are the same as all the others. Spiritually, they don’t connect.

There is a physical size to things. The world shows us the mass and the size and the contour and cost of each ‘thing’ in our lives. The divine shows us the beauty, the comedy the nostalgia and history. These things cannot be captured in a physical sense.

The spiritual is everywhere, it is just as important as the physical world we inhabit.

On Thanksgiving week, a meal of food is served and we are filled-up, just like every other week. The company though, the blessing of togetherness and a warm-hearted family gathering is fulfilling, it is spiritual satisfaction and a moment of immeasurable joy.

At least ours was.

I hope yours was too :)


Aaron Nichols

Go on – Brush your shoulders off!

I remember the birthing process vividly! Well, I at least remember the birth of our daughter very clearly, it was only 3 and a half months ago. My own birth? Well, that one is a little fuzzy.

I was absolutely astounded with the entire thing. I won’t go through all the details here. You other parents know what I am talking about, it is AMAZING! But, one thing in particular has stood out to me from the moment I found out about it.

Every naturally born baby has to dance its way down the birth canal. Well maybe not the Macarena, but it does not just simply swoosh down the slide like a day at the park! I was told before our daughter came along that she would have to work her way toward the outside world one shoulder at a time…

Huh? One shoulder at a time? Yes, it is a fact that the design of the system is such that the widest part of our baby bodies cannot fit without a lot of flexibility and a spiraling turning motion. The baby usually starts face-up and has to spin, one shoulder at time to a face-down position to work it’s way to freedom.

As for me? I personally didn’t figure that part out, and was born cesarean with a nice little nick to my forearm that is still scarred up today. Ha! (Remember that part in a minute.)

Our baby girl found her way to us at 7:00 on a sunny summer Sunday morning. She did the spin-turn dance and we were elated to meet her.

Now she is trying to learn to spin again. Actually, it’s the movement of rolling over, that she is practicing. I have not seen her complete the roll as of yet. I did record 8 minutes of phone video the other night, just sure that I would capture her first real rotation.

We were told that the baby-sitter has seen her do it both ways several times… Grrr… she must be aware that her Daddy isn’t really ready for her to be mobile yet, and is kindly holding off for the moment, for me. (Ha!)

Again it’s her shoulders that are stopping her. Again it is a one-shoulder-at-a-time twisting motion that she will soon learn. I can see her trying to spin. Laying down facing the ceiling she throws her head waaay back. She leans over, very far to the side. Her bottom and legs will keep rotating around. They will end up all the way flat faced down.

It is the arm and shoulder that is the hang-up. At the beginning of the spin, it helps steady her, but eventually she’ll have to learn to tuck it down, so it’s out of the way. Or she will reach out above her head, where it won’t stop the progress.

From even before we are born, we have to practice a shifting of our shoulders.

So what! Big deal. It’s not earth shattering, right?!?!

Well, I think that it’s true that. “How some things work, is how all things work.”

Our shoulders do what? If you have to move through your own life, what do you physically use your shoulders for?

I tend to think of our shoulders as the place where we carry our heavy loads. When I buy a 40lb sack of Roxy’s food at Seven Cedars Purina Feed Store in Princeton, KS, I throw it up onto my shoulder to haul it out to the car. When we go hiking on a trail in the mountains of Colorado, or the woods of Arkansas or the Ozarks of Missouri, I hang my snacks, water and camera in a backpack strapped to my shoulders.

The shoulders are our sturdy foundation that we rely on to help us lug around our extra cargo, our stuff. I am carting things on my shoulders all the time. They are not always physical objects though.

Sure, just like a lot of people, I tend to bear a burden and walk heavy with unhealthy loads of emotional cargo. I might hold onto grudges, or keep a knapsack of future fear and worry. I probably pack a great tinderbox of frustrations ready to ignite, when I perceive the circumstances require my irrational angers!

It’s a wonder I can walk around at all, with the mile high pile of junk I rest on my own shoulders all the time. I am sure, this is the reason I get quite stuck from time to time. I can become lodged into tight immovable moments, between proverbial rocks and imaginative hard places. It’s the load I keep locked onto my shoulders that wedges me in…

God is showing me through my adorable daughter, that the grand design is for us to become flexible. The way out of a tight spot, to get unstuck, is to shift and turn and spin. I have to deeply drop my shoulder down. So deep that everything hanging from it, will fall off. I have reach high with the other, so high, that the baggage will have to be let go. I have to reach high without extra weight, straining and restricting that movement.

I have to be born again, each time I want freedom from the stalled and gridlocked moments of my life. If I want to learn to roll, just like my infant wants to roll, I must learn the same motions she is learning.

I wasn’t born in the natural way. I didn’t learn then, the flexibility I needed. I don’t know if I ever have. It must be a lesson that I’m saving for ‘someday’ to get it right. It’s okay to let go of the mountain of miscellaneous misgivings and mistakes and memories that don’t serve me well anymore. That is the only way we are allowed forward on this journey. We gotta go on and brush our shoulders off…

Only then, we can see what new worlds, possibilities and exciting moments of love await us.

Until next week, take care.

With Love


Aaron Nichols

Is WORK the only thing that matters?

Do you know how the world works? I’d like to know if your answer is yes, how you found out? Did you learn how the world works all through your own experiences? Did someone teach you? Did you buy a book, watch a film, or rub a magic lamp and ask the genie to tell you how the world works?

Do you care about this question at all? I would guess that we all have wondered how the world works, in relation at least to the ways which we interact with it, on a regular basis. We want to know what to expect from the world around us. We don’t want constant surprises hitting us left and right.

Recently I have been listening to Rabbi Daniel Lapin on his weekly podcast. The main purpose he expresses at the beginning and throughout each episode, is his desire to share with the audience “How the World RRRREEEAAAAAAALLLLYYYYYY Works!” His enthusiasm is electric when it comes to his life’s mission and purpose!

The entirety of his show is devoted to covering general and universal topics like relationships, business, politics and even parenting. He uses modern examples, but steps back and digs down to the very core of the driving force behind all these human experiences. He doesn’t give much for opinion. In fact, his teaching comes from Ancient Jewish Widsom. The Torah itself is the instructor and it reveals over and over again, the counter-intuitive and very counter-cultural design that God has knitted into the fabric of the world around us.

It is a fascinating and free resource that I love to listen to.

I was thinking the other day though, about how Rabbi’s extra intentional growling emotional delivery of the show’s purpose sounds so unique. His statement is bold! He can tell me how the world REALLY works?? Hmm… That is perhaps the most interesting topic I’ve ever been interested in. It is probably the reason behind this blog I am typing on right here. I am quite curious about how the world really works. I am glad that he’s made it so clear.

But what if I have been thinking all along, that I am constantly finding out these answers everywhere I look? I mean, that I am curious about the world, and I might have been collecting clues all my life, maybe we all are.

Is there any other topic being discussed, in any communication, at any time, than the question of ‘How the world works?”

Too abstract?

Okay, what about modified versions of the question. Like ‘how does my world work? Or Yours, or hers, or theirs? Or celebrities or millionaires or warlords or the sick and dying? Or how did the world work, in ages past? Or how does the fictional world work, in this movie onscreen? Or does the world really work, as described in this pop song? I can see that I am always looking at this question and constantly modifying the organic answer.

I see that there are movements and voices and concerted efforts to push certain themes out the general public, about how the world really works. I don’t think all information out there on the topic is designed for my own good. The Enemy it seems has powerful grip on the various microphones plugged into the popular culture.

I like that the Rabbi shows principals and truths that stand firm throughout time and specific circumstance. God’s plans it seems, don’t change, they don’t adapt, they are perfect and unpopular all at the same time.

I am a student, and a poor one, but I know that clarity and simplicity of universal truth, when I hear it. It cuts clean through the chaotic calico calamity of the cultural clutter. There is no mistaking it. Thanks Rabbi Lapin, and thanks to You, the fantastic and fanatical readers of this tiny weird space, I write in every week. You all are appreciated and part of my ever-enlightening journey :)


Aaron Nichols

In case of fire, get the baling wire!!

My heart was already pounding just a little too heavy, when Chad startled me by yelling to ‘Be Careful!’ I was just about to lightly touch the center portion of the wall switch that would engage the main overhead fire extinguishing system in our restaurant kitchen. The switch had been damaged, and it appeared that it may implement the whole-kitchen chemical fire suppressant at any moment. Like a hand grenade with the pin just about to fall out, we were handling it very delicately!

The box mounted on the kitchen wall is connected to our system by metal pipe. It has a small red plastic rod that holds the inner PULL-HERE finger-ring in place. That red plastic rod was broken on one side. Whoa. We just noticed the problem as we were closing down after a long night of serving food for our hungry customers. We were especially nervous to see that the inner PULL-HERE ring was already beginning to be cocked at an angle, like it was going to be released at any time.

As three of us guys looked at the halfway broken switch, we were imagining a kitchen full of foamy stuff to have to clean up, without any fire at all. We were being extra careful and working quickly to strap down and secure the ring, so it could not move and make a huge mess. We found some baling wire and with hands holding it tight, the guys locked ‘er down.

Whew! Crisis averted for the moment! Wow, that was a close call. We were quite glad to have avoided the expense and hassle of our extinguishing system shooting off for no reason.

So I then called in the Fire Suppressant expert to service the switch and check up on the rest of the components as well.

When he arrived, I was proud to ask him, what he thought of our nicely wired-down lock on the wall switch. He kinda chuckled and made a suggestion that surprised me greatly.

He said that he would have rather we put just a piece of tape on it, to hold it in place. ‘Huh?’

He said that in case of a fire, we would want to easily remove the tape, and the baling wire, could have been hard to work around…  ‘Okay… I get that part at least.’

‘But, but, but what about the pressure on that inner ring. Surely the tape wouldn’t have held that! What if the spring would have let loose on us! That would have been really really bad, right??”

What pressure, he asked? What spring?

I told him that we were sure that was how it all worked… But nope, we were waaay wrong.

He then explained how the ring was connected to a piece of chain. That chain had about six inches of slack. He told me that even if that inner ring would have fallen completely out of the wall plate, we would have had to pull firmly on it, past the extra slack, then yank enough to release the valve for the foam….


Umm, yeah.

So basically, our keen senses of observation and imagination had completely overblown the dangers at hand. There really wasn’t any at all. Even though we could see the chaotic calamity of the kitchen full of fire retarding foam, it was never going to appear in real life. We had no real understanding of the mechanics of the system, yet we just knew that we were almost in big big trouble.


Shows what we know.

That service tech probably had a good story to tell his buddies about how we’d baling wired the thing. He did mention that we were probably ‘from the country’ and yes he was right about that.

How much of our lives is spent, holding our breath, tight with tension, locked onto fears about outcomes, that will just never materialize. What if we aren’t as smart as we think we are? What if we really don’t understand the construction of the very systems we inhabit every day? What if the design of our world has much more forgiveness and love knitted into it, than we ever imagined? What if we are making things much harder on ourselves than they need to be?

I think it’s funny that we were sooo wrong about this emergency switch. I was glad we weren’t needing to pull it, because of fire. I am happy to now know how it works, without experiencing the devastation that could come with flames in our kitchen.

These little metaphors and examples show up in my world all the time. Will I ever learn anything from them? I dunno. I hope so though. I do like to share them here with you. Thanks for reading. I’ll see you next week J

With Love


Aaron Nichols


…On Losing a Limb…

Back in the spring, as I began to plant my garden, I wanted to remove some tree limbs that hung above it. Late into the morning and early in the afternoon they would cast shade on the black dirt that held my tiny seedlings. I bought an extendable fiberglass pole that had a curved saw-tooth blade on the end. I whacked up a big old pile of backyard branches that day.

I found the trimming easy, with my new toy. The saw munched easily through the base of each bough. I could use the string to actuate a lever-jaw too, clipping off the smaller stuff cleanly.

I picked the lowest limbs and cut them all off. All around the yard I went, each tree got a trim.

When I made it around, back to the garden area, I looked at the two medium sized hackberrys that hung above it. I had to make tough choices about how much to remove. Many of their limbs were blocking the sun from my little patch. The veggies needed more light. I started slicing and carving on those two trees. I wondered even if I my cutting went too far.

There were heaps of smaller leaf covered branches all around me, piled on the ground, when I was done. Only a couple main stick-like stems reached skyward from those two trees afterward. I had made toothpicks out of them, it seemed.

“Oh, well. The garden is my baby, I had to do this. It will help my vegetables grow big and strong.”

Now, as the weather is cooled off, and garden season is over, I walk past those trees twice a day. I look over at them, I’m amazed. The trees have flourished over the summer. They now are taller and fuller and prettier than ever. They musn’t have been too bothered by the amputations.

I thought I was almost killing them, and really I was just pruning away the old low hanging branches. The trees know nothing but to grow. Grow they have.

I like having some shade on my garden. It seems to help in the hottest part of the summer. I still have some of that shade. The trees do just what they are supposed to do. The veggies too. Nature grows and lives and expands.

I am encouraged by the trees. They thrived, just when I thought I had hacked them up so badly. Maybe our lives work like the trees do. They need pruned sometimes, so that they can grow to new heights. :)

Until next week…

May God be with You.


Aaron Nichols

Kidding For Real

Just noticing this week how a kid comes back when they’re given a little attention. I have a funny pair that always harass and joke with me at the restaurant. One is a young and sassy girl, then big brother joins in too.

I could almost give you a word for word description of every time an adult took time to engage in a conversation with me, when I was a kid. When a big person, swings their attention away from the other big people, and lean down into the little person’s level, it creates an amazing bond.

I know that it meant a lot to me, when I was growing up. I probably connected better with some adults who wanted to really talk to me, than the kids my age who just wanted to goof around. Well, that’s just the way I was, and still can be now.

I hope I keep remembering, as my little girl grows, the importance of seeing eye to eye with the little ones.

These days I have my mini-friends visiting often at the Brand’N Iron, and they are some of my very favorite guests. A couple packages of crackers keep them happy. I know we are all doing a good job, when the smallest diners are smiling :)

Until next week, say hi to the kids for me.


Aaron Nichols

Letting the TV raise our Baby

If our baby tries to watch the TV, we stop that crap in it’s tracks! My wife and I joke that our 2 month old has a ‘technology minutes’ allowance, and that she usually has already used them all up. ‘Oops, lil’ JoJo, You’ve already used your technology minutes, no more TV for you!’


The bright colors and motion of the television do seem to grab her attention. She will sometimes try to crank her head and neck to watch it, if she catches a glimpse of it, after a feeding in the living room recliner. In general, we think it is too early for her to want to be a boob-tube baby, so we just move on to something else or click it off and play one-on-one.

Funny though. I would like to have her not watching the TV, while I am watching it. I would like to feed her, or burp her or have her contented in my lap, while I catch up on some PBS shows or maybe even Netflix. Why don’t I see the same problem with my own television addiction, as I seem to have with hers.

Well, just like most other things in life, I can be keenly aware of what someone else ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ be doing. It is actually a very easy task to run down a list of actions or habits or reactions or plans that I think another person would benefit from in their life. I can even be impressed with my own intelligence and awareness of them. I am so smart, everyone should listen to me!!

Ha, not hardly.

Years ago, we didn’t even have a working TV in this house. I am pretty sure I got along just fine without it. Now we have a big one, and a crystal clear signal from an antennae high on a pole outside. Our Roku device grabs movies and documentaries and TV shows too from internet. I just watched one about Knuckleballers late into the night on Wednesday after the Royals’ big win.

See, I am the one with a TV problem. Not the baby.

She has only watched a couple minutes per day, because it is flashy and visually stimulating. I am watching it to let my free time be sucked away. I want to avoid something else more important or maybe harder, like helping my wife around the house with laundry or dishes or picking up the tornado of mess that has collected on my working desk and elsewhere…

So maybe I am the one who needs the technology minutes allowance schedule. I have probably already used them up today, and if I want to earn enough to watch Game 2 later today between the Royals and Blue Jays, I’d better do some extra credit.

But most likely, I’ll just doze off for awhile in this comfy recliner and watch some more Dog Whisperer… it’s only on every Saturday Morning you know…


Aaron Nichols

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? – Matthew 7:3




Finding fixes in a sturdy foundation


I can really struggle with the simplest of handyman jobs. My limited skills and tools selection can turn a little quick repair into a drawn out mini-catastrophe. I’m too cheap to buy brand new. I’m usually unwilling to pay somebody else to fix my stuff. I’m better in this digital computer, or artistic world, than the straightforward mechanics of nuts and bolts.

Tomorrow I want to be camping with my family in the ‘gently used’ popup that Lindsay and I purchased a few weeks ago, from a craigslist ad. I found out last Sunday that a threaded driveshaft assembly on the lift system was stripped out, and the top would not pop. Shux! It was a must-fix if any time would be spent in the camper with weekend.

After busting some knuckles and identifying the issue, I went about ordering parts. They were expensive, but available and I had them shipped 2nd day air. After arrival I began to disassemble the original pieces in order to replace certain parts with the new. One little roll-pin was being quite uncooperative!

I only had two pieces left that needed to be separated. The roll-in connected them. It was a short driveshaft and toothed gear. First thing was finding a hammer and a punch. Check. Then I needed to whack away at the little end of that pin. Well, just finding a way to set it in place was very hard.

I wanted to secure the part, so I could hit it. I needed it to sit solidly and not move around while I worked on it. I tried using a length of pipe and sticking the driveshaft into it. That worked for a little bit. Then it started to bounce around, the harder I smacked it with the hammer.

I didn’t own a vice, but that is exactly what I needed. Without a way to clamp down and hold it tight, I couldn’t get a good solid thump on the end of that roll-pin.

Throughout the afternoon, I tried many ways to work on the piece but eventually, I made a trip to town and bought some new tools and a vice too. I brought the stuff back home and set the vice on the workbench in my garage. Even at that point, there was more work to do. I didn’t buy big lag screws or bolts and nuts to secure the vice to the bench. I used some deck screws and tried to temporarily hold the vice tight to the countertop.

Then I could clamp down of on the gear. Then I could hit the pin with the punch. Then the roll-pin began to move further out the other side of the gear, closer to release!


If I have a problem in my life, I now see a couple truths about that situation. I might need to find some tools to work on the problem. I may already have some, or I may need to get new ones. Once I have my tools, I might find that pressure and tension and being clamped down upon, might help me focus and pinpoint the solutions. Even if the tools are present and I am locked down ready to pound, I have to be secured firmly to a strong foundation.

The little rolled metal pin stuck in the gears, had to come out, for me to fix the functionality of the camper as a whole. I had to find a strong structure to work from, in order to make any progress at all. Without the solid wooden tabletop, and the heavy-duty metal vice, the pieces just jumped around and became impossible to do anything with.

Eventually, I couldn’t get any further, and had to ask for the help of someone who was better with these things than me. Luckily, my step-dad Joe worked his magic on it. All is well, and the camper is now fixed and ready to take to the lake just a few hours from now.

My personal internal foundations have been tested at times. Do I always remember to lock down my issues and study them against those immovable and unchanging truths? Probably not often enough. Thank God, for steadfast love that endures forever. I pray that I may learn to lean into Him, always.

Reminds me of a song I’ve heard on Sunday mornings :)


Aaron Nichols

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.


OMG!!! You gotta hear what I think about this!

See, the thing is this: I am adept at noticing problems. I can string together clever sentences and point them out in a snarky sarcastic way. I could get lots of clicks and likes if I want to spend my time expressing the shortcomings of institutions, corporations, laws even or especially people.

I have a vast network of online connections in which to congregate and unite with others who are also noticers of problems too. It works best when I gather with others who feel the same way, who side with me, who are right, just like I am right…

In fact, one of the main things I accomplish on this blog itself is to notice and point out problems. Usually I am holding the magnifying glass over some unsightly defect in my own character. I find it therapeutic to wax poetic and ‘share’ my innermost insecurities or shortcomings. Somehow, I once decided that this act in and of itself defined a certain level of bravery. Currently-popular is the concept of personal authenticity. I must believe that defining my own problems publicly can separate and elevate me in a unique way.


Even as I am typing this tonight, I am feeling the drag, like I’m wading waist-deep in my own Bee Esss.

Something occurred to me this week, as I posted a screenshot, notifying the facebook world that I have now hit the 4 year mark on this journey of sobriety. I had a realization that the effort of refusing alcohol as a way of life, was the actual work and the actual progress made, after noticing it was causing problems in my life.

For years, I knew that the results of some interactions with alcohol were negative for me, and sometimes for others. For years, I was aware, cleverly and snarkily and sarcastically, that alcohol wasn’t the savior and salvation of life’s problems like it commonly referred to be. I knew about the problems, but that didn’t make any impact at the time. I still experienced all the ups and downs, good times and bad, all the while knowing dangers inherent.

My point is this: Lots of time is spent these days, talking about, typing about, reading about and discussing problems. These problems may be inner ones, like my love-hate relationship with beer, wine, scotch and whiskey. They may be problems with the world around us, like gun violence, presidential candidates, or the dramas recorded on Franklin County Swap and Talk. All these things grab our attention and beg us to comment upon them. We can build ourselves a whole personality, just focused on the style and type of problems we are experts at noticing…

Anyway… We are now able to ‘do’ commentating as a hobby in quite public and dynamic ways. We can share posts online or write our own words of wisdom. All of it however, is a waste of time. Maybe this blog itself, could be categorized like that too.

The actions of sobriety have very little to do with being able to call someone else out on their drunken mistakes. Self-loathing and hungover hours spent wallowing in an emotional pity party, aren’t solutions either. The physical moments of passing on the opportunity to drink, are the hardest parts of them all.

I am not sure that experiencing 4 years of sobriety has even improved my life that much. Honestly, it has brought me almost as much heartache as drunken debauchery did. It is too hard sometimes and God has to carry me through, when I don’t want to do it anymore on my own.

The point here is this: There is actually very little to talk about, when we are solving problems, instead of just discussing them. Solutions aren’t only based in words spoken, or text typed on screen, or definitely not present in a quickly forwarded article post online. Those moments are times when we are putting off and giving ourselves just a little more distance and time and procrastination before really creating a true solution.

When we are in the moments of solving our problems or problems in our community or world at large, the silence tells the story. It may come across more in the salty sweat of hard work, or the repeated heartfelt action of a kind gesture, or a solemn moment, moving away in self-control, from the draw of temptations.

In the still, small voice of God, lies the peace of Christ, and endless love. The clamor and clatter, thumping loud blasts of opinion and rhetoric are vapor and glittery mist. The substance doesn’t lie within those words, but in the physical brute motion of our intentions. Our feet will show us what is actually important, where we find them, we find our truth.

Thanks be to God that I was blessed enough to believe for a small moment that He would help me on my journey if I asked Him to. So far, God has not abandoned me, one tiny, silent, hard-fought sober moment at a time.


Until next week.

Aaron Nichols


A baby’s guide to getting what you want out of life…

Baby Joella causes things to happen. At only 6 weeks young, she has power and control over her environment, in certain ways. She makes requests and those requests are fulfilled most of the time. Without recognizable English language skills, or even rudimentary pointing and grunting, she can specifically communicate. It’s pretty amazing, although quite plain and normal and ordinary too.

I expect most babies make understandable declarations, just like she can.

She has many ways to translate her condition and how she is feeling at any given moment. We like it a lot when she is showing signs of peaceful sleeping, or bright eyed curiosity. We like it too, when we know what will silence her cry, like milk or a clean diaper.

These are the kinds of things you expect a new dad, to type about on his blog; The fascinating and mundane moments of living with a newborn and today, I’ll share my findings… kinda…

So far, I know she needs her Momma, and sometimes me too. I know more about babies and nursing and how to install a carseat, than I ever have before. I also, was just shown a profound truth about the nature of life itself this week, while playing with our little Joella.

See, I tend to believe that our most pure intelligence is brought with us, from the ether of no-where, to the substance this world, the now-here, right at the beginning of life, after birth. A newborn baby has clarity of mind and a singular understanding, a clean slate, completely uncluttered.

Our baby has showed us only a few things so far, about what interests her. Obviously she likes to eat, and to stay cleaned up. Now she is starting to develop her recreation and exploring modes.

She has been reluctant to spend much time in her mechanical swing. She does do some tummy time with toys, but doesn’t want to grab the rattles and shake just yet. She likes one of us to talk to her and coo and make faces, but something she really truly seems captivated by, is her Mobile.

We have a sea-life themed, battery operated plastic blue whale that has a stem coming out the top. It is strapped to the side of her crib and the hook that dangles three small stuffed fishy creatures, can rotate either over the crib, or over her changing table. We sometimes set her in the crib, or during a diaper change and turn on the device… She’s enthralled! You can see her lock-in and gaze at just one of the little animals at a time. They are dancing in a circle and she can only follow them so far. Once out of site, she tracks back across their path and picks up a stare at the next one in line.

There is one specific yellow smiling crab that seems to fascinate her more than the others. Sometimes she gets very worked up watching her mobile. She kicks out with both feet and her clenched tiny fists bounce as her arms wave in little circular motions. Lindsay is sometimes concerned that it is too stimulating to leave her with the thing for too long.

It’s funny though, her attention to this toy is what has created the instances where she gets to play with it. HER focus on it, gives us a reason to put her and mobile together. She is making this happen, even more than we are. She has a swing, it sits empty often, because she doesn’t seem to have interest in it. So we are trained to bring her the thing that is interesting to her, and to not engage in things that don’t.

It’s fun to watch her ‘play’ with the mobile. I see her looking at the little yellow crab. I wonder if she knows it is the same one again, once she has lost sight of it from before. I watch her less enthusiastic gaze on the other two fishies, certainly she doesn’t grasp, that these are on an endlessly repetitive slow-race course above her head. She can’t possibly know yet, the simplicity of this system. These three danglers just keep coming, again and again, she still seems so excited by it…

Such is our own experience of life, isn’t it? How have we missed the scaled-down metaphor of our own existence present in this cute little example? How can I honestly say, that I am any different at all, than my newborn daughter, when it comes to things that grab my attention, the things spinning constantly and repetitively, into my vision too.

How clearly I now notice that things I see in my grown-up world are the things I have always seen, just passing again in front of me one more time. How true it feels to examine circumstances and experiences and opportunities too, as just fresh examples of the same issues again and ever again. I feel that I have been shown a glimpse of the mechanical clockworks of life, while watching my daughter watch her cheap Chinese-made toy.

The Law of Attraction is something that I have read about. Maybe you have too. It has been touted as a secret key to getting everything you want out of ilfe. I think it may have worked for some, in the format presented in books and videos. However, the concept of it, never was concrete for me, until I saw this phenomenon with Joella.

Less a magnetic force, and more of the only answer to an equation we constantly are authoring, I see the attention she gives to something, to be the most powerful tool she has. Good or bad, her Attention is attracting the experience in again and again.

I give things attention too. Things, or people or circumstance or problems or joys or concerns or surprises or fears grab my focus. I see now that these issues seem to become danglers on the repeating mobile of visions that pass as thoughts across the inner theatre screen of my mind.

Some of the entities that live on the massive menagerie on my own personal mental mobile, have been cruising by my brain for decades. Some of these ideas captivate me, they can overtake my entire consciousness for awhile. I may want them to pass, and be gone for good, but it is my own fierce lock and fascination with the problem, that in essence, brings it around again, and again.

I can clearly recite, situations that have come to me, over and over and over again, different people, different locations, different almost everything, but the same sensation of frustration, or anger, or disappointment shows up again. That emotion, the one that I grab onto and study and dissect, mulling over and over, is the one that will arrive again soon, suited up in slightly different garb next time.

It is the fun side of this truth that I seem to let slip away in the last few years. Back in the day, in the party times and younger years, I would have all my attention and focus on the next elation experience of intoxication with friends or family. I loved those moments of a slight buzz and laughter all around.

Too many times, the buzz went too far, droning louder and louder, vibrating the world inside my head. The low thunderous tones of that deep drum would send me sometimes into the blackness, the abyss. Then, when the hangover later came, I would focus once again on the emotional crap-storm of consequences that climbed out of that dark hole.

Whatever it was, that held my attention, would be riding around and around and around, on the mega-version of the My Life Mobile. I could try as hard as I wanted, for things to change for me, but until I gave less attention to something, it just wouldn’t go away.

Just like in our little house, we introduce things to Joella, and see if she gives them her attention. A force of love bigger than I could ever imagine, must do the same with me. So much for me changed when I decided to shift my attention, to new things, and let the old ones pass by, without me engaging them.

That, for me was transformation.

My personal mobile of experiences and circumstances and opportunities too, has changed drastically in the last few years, mostly for the better. I am not done yet though, learning about what lessons are important for my soul to encounter. I see now, that if I choose to lock my gaze, either in love or in fear on any one thing, it will continue to show up and again and somehow magically again.

I do have powers to steer my own environment, and to consciously begin to co-create a world that I enjoy the experience of, more than dislike. If Joellla can do that, in her world, without any words or ability to do almost anything herself, surely You and I have those capabilities too.

Just the noticing that I have used my attention to request the repetitions of situations in my life has really helped me in this most recent week, navigate difficulties. Maybe some of these words typed here can bring light and assist you in your own personal journey too. I hope in some way it does.

God Bless J


Aaron Nichols

2015-09-21 17.58.25