The most exciting thing I’ve done all summer!

With only 25% left to upload, it won’t be long until you can watch a 4 minute video about my roadtrip to San Diego and back, a couple weeks ago. Yes, I think it will be interesting to some, but probably not to most.

Even though I have great camera gear, and saw awesome scenery, the video came out a little dark. I rode over 3700 miles in the drivers’ seat on that trip, and veiwed first-hand everything from prairie to mountains to desert to ocean, there isn’t much landscape in the movie I made. Actually, the continuous walkaround ‘film’ I created just shows how I packed my car for the trip…

Big Whoop!

Actually, YouTube is full of videos that 99% of viewers would consider a complete waste of time to watch. There seems to be enough people clicking around on the interweb though, that somebody may find it useful or amusing to them.

Along with my stepdad Joe, we built an organizer system for the rear cargo area of my SUV. It gave me a short but deep space to slide an under-bed Tupperware box for my tools. On the other side of the divider was a place for my tent and tent-mat, a chair and my folded up sleeping cot too.  I screwed metal anchors to the top of the plywood ‘floor’ to tie down various tubs. I made a special spot for the Dog Roxy too, complete with her own rubber floor protector that she seemed to like to lay on any chance she got.

I thought back to my previous long roadtrip to make some improvements on my in-car storage solutions. I spent a lot of time before my trip deciding just how I wanted to arrange all my essentials and non-essentials and hope-I-don’t-have-to-use-at-all items inside the car. It may seem silly to You, but I just love designing things, and this overland voyage to the coast and back gave me a nice opportunity to do that with my camping gear.

In fact, finding tiny ways to improve the efficiency and organization of critical items is something I seemed to be obsessed with.

This car camping setup, is just one of many projects that I have spent a bunch of time planning out and fussing over. At our restaurant, this same drive has prompted me to reconfigure and re-imagine almost every area of our kitchen, bar, dining room, back room and office too. Tiny changes here, big changes there, I love to look at a setup and play with ideas on how we can make it better. I’ve certainly been made fun of, for trying to save our staff just a couple steps, or to reduce one set of actions down to its most important core.

Over time and over now thousands of plates of food later, I know that tiny adjustments to our equipment or procedures or even a change in the direction of the swing of a door, has made a huge difference. At least I’d like to believe it has anyway.

I am delighted when I can work or in this case, drive and easily have with reach, the tools and items I need most. When our staff can concentrate on cooking your meal, instead of fiddling around looking for utensils or an ingredient, I smile. You may laugh when I tell when I tell you that I spent several minutes looking for a cinder-block to hold open a door, rather than just go in and out of it three or four times. I’d say that next time I want to unload a bunch of stuff out of the car, that cinder-block will be right there, where I can use it.

If I were leaving tomorrow for another 3700 mile highway romp with my always-ready pooch Rox, I would again make adjustments to my vehicle setup. Overall though, I love the project itself and then working with the designs and ideas to see how they perform.

If you have four minutes that you don’t care about, and are somebody who watches the mundane on YouTube, click here, I’m glad to show off the most exciting thing I’ve done all summer… Pack for a Roadtrip!

Until next week, have fun my friends designing and improving your own world, as best you can.

God Bless

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Don’t be fooled by the Glory

Don’t be fooled by the majesty of the snow-capped-in-summer Rocky Mountains. Don’t be tricked by the pastel beauty of the Arizona desert at sunset. Don’t even get deceived by the blazing blue Pacific slapping powerfully again and again, against the sandy and sunny Southern California coast.

I was looking at these wonders of creation last week, on a cross-country roadtrip, where I met my wife and daughter in San Diego. As part of my trip, I wanted to capture various thoughts and realizations that appeared along the way. I spoke words into a small battery-powered voice recorder, and one of the segments included these words. “Don’t be fooled by the colored layers of the rocks and the heights those mountains and even these eye-popping views.”

Driving almost solo, for days on end, with only Roxy along for the ride, is one of my favorite ways to unwind from the world. Seeing the American West, in its vast and untamed glory, is thrilling every time I experience it. I love to look at jagged ranges of rock and shallow valleys that provide 100 mile views all around. It was interesting to me, that I was reminded during this amazing trip, to not be fooled by these awesome spectacles of God’s handiwork.

It reminds me of one experience I had on a bus down in the Ozarks. My wife and I were loading up with a crowd of canoers to head back to camp after a day on the river. One guy in particular wanted to talk to me, he was pretty drunk, and wanted to philoso-phize about life. I was sober that day, and offered him a water or a diet sprite, I think he took it.

He was talking about how his ‘church’ was a day out in nature. He respected the mighty Oak tree and saw it as a beautiful creation. I’m not sure he meant that he worshiped the tree itself. He was adamant though, that the tree was just as worthy of his attention as anything else. He was satisfied spiritually to sit in the presence of that tree and enjoy its profound elegance.

Blasting along the highways out West, I was feeling the same way. I was sucked into the grandeur of the scenery. One divine moment happened when I was slicing through the narrow plains by Rifle, Colorado on I-70. Mountains soared to the South and the rose slightly less to the North. It was late evening, but the sun was still out. A deep purple mass of storm lay ahead. I hammered the gas pedal toward it, taking on rain and pebbly hail as the light around me faded away.

The pitch black visibility was snapped and flashed intermittently by bolts of lightning. The loud rain smacking the windshield was only quieted by the deafening crackling thunder. The rain increased until I was driving through a shallow river on the road. Obviously, I had to slow way down and ride carefully through this downpour.

In my CD player, I had inserted a disk that was a recording from one of our Westminster Presbyterian Church services. It happened to be from the July 4th weekend from the year before. The evening I’m talking about was also on July 2nd, coincidentally. Just as the storm was at it’s worst, I heard a single booming voice through my speakers… “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord”… It went on, almost a capella… I cranked the volume… “He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword: His truth is marching on!”

Our pastor Ron’s voice emboldened my weakening and tired spirit! I was instantly enthused and invigorated! The Battle Hymn of the Republic restored my confidence with instant rejuvenation!

Perfect timing, perfect song, perfect moment in a tempest squall in a tight mountain canyon! There was a raging river to my right and a vertical wall to my left. It was all chaos in the darkness and hail.  With Ron’s golden voice singing God’s power though, nothing could penetrate the breastplate of my faith.

Even all this though, the perfectness of it, the power of it, could be a moment of deception. Later on, as I watched the mountains touched by the colors of a clear sunset, and all the noise had calmed down. I wanted to tell myself not to be fooled by the awesomeness of it all…

See, as amazing as all this is, and was, these are the outward, worldly and even tangible proofs of God’s mighty hand of creation. The rocks and rain and even Ron’s powerful vocal chords are just things. All things have a short life in the grand scheme. As incomprehensible as it is, to gaze upon the Grand Canyon from the Southern Rim and drive along it’s vast openness, it won’t last forever. These objects we see with our eyes and touch with our feet are not the limit of God’s creative force. These are just reminders of God’s power.

The same exact Almighty, that crafted these world wonders, can duplicate these creations within the human heart. Our inner spirit is made of the same clay and can be molded by the same divine Potter. The mountains and the valleys and the vast deserted open plains within us, can be shifted by God. Where there was desert, God can make fertile soil. Where walls of solid granite stood, God can turn them to dust. Where the ground underneath is all quicksand, unsteady and loose, God can transform it to polished marble.

All the possibility we can see with our own two eyes, gazing upon these astonishing landscapes, or the intricate lodgepole pines, or the tiny mountaintop wildflowers, are nothing, compared to the changes God can make in our own hearts. If we open the invitation to Jesus Christ, the mountains move instantly, the murky seas dry up, blooms pop where there was desert before.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that all God’s beautiful work, is expended upon the world. There is immeasurable creativity left, for You and for Me. The Lord knows how much I still need it, and this small reminder encourages my Soul. My being is forever changed with God’ transformative power at work on me. The rest will be dust in the wind, and yet the beauty of new life with God, lives on perpetually…

Until next week my friends, Be Well, and may God Bless all your travels, as He has mine.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

MacGuyver Gourmet on Vacay!

So I ‘cooked’ my wife breakfast in the bathroom sink on Monday. High on the 28th floor of this Bayfront hotel in San Diego, California, it was the only option I could think of at the time. See, we are staying at a very nice place, but without a microwave or even a mini-fridge, our food options are limited.

Sure we could buy every meal at one of the many restaurants around. Or I could have ordered her room service, like I did this morning. However with almost a week to stay here, that $30.00 plate of two eggs would have added up real quick!

Since I was out walking with little JoJo in her stroller, and we cruised to the grocery store, I bought some bagels and cheese and a package of pre-cooked frozen sausages. Back at the room, as my wife was waking up, I told her that breakfast would be ready soon. I had put the brown round pucks into a ziplock baggie and laid them in the bathroom sink. With the water on full-hot, the sausages thawed out and even warmed up. Sous-Vide MacGuyver style, Yum!

We dined on a sandwich that was quite the opposite of the setting. It was basic and cooked in the bathroom. But these are the things I will probably remember about our trip.

We are in a stunningly beautiful setting this week. San Diego has weather that is almost unbelievable. Every minute outside is perfect for tee shirt and shorts. The people are friendly, and everyone you work with says ‘Have a beautiful day!’ Ha, how could you not!

Last Saturday and Sunday, I blasted across the open West, cruising many times between 85-90mph. The roads where open and the speed limits high. I made it down here in two long days of driving from home in Princeton, Kay-Ess. I loved the scenery, the freedom and the mission, to come see my ladies, here in sunny San Diego.

Why is it that the hiccups and the snafu’s are the items that stand out to me in memory about these fun vacation experiences? Why is it that the hotel room is just as much adventure for our little Joella, as the Zoo, or the activity of Mission Beach? As people, we must be wired to forget the comfortable, the neutral, the ‘good’ moments in time. The wide grey band of dandy happenings on this trip are like a card catalog that I have to search through to remember already. The best moments seems to come from the worst circumstances, if you can call anything here ‘worst’?

I tend toward the times that we had to ‘make do’ or improvise and get creative with our plans and activities. I am curious about what it would be like to vacation with money as no object. We could get a car to take us wherever we wanted to go. We could eat out for every meal and shop till we drop at every store we saw. It would be nice to just valet an Italian sportscar, instead of picking our way through the tight parking in my dog-stinky 96 4Runner…

But really, I cannot make myself believe that without any challenges or mini-adversities that we would enjoy ourselves that much more. We did spend a day at the beach, an a couple more would be fine, but after that, what fun is there just lying around all the time? We would want to stir up some mischief somewhere, right?

As of this afternoon, I will begin my journey back to Kansas. I might leave in just a couple hours. Right now, I have no idea which direction I am taking exactly. East seems like a good bet.

Having everything perfectly planned out, isn’t my idea of fun, and so I’ll pick up the dog and maybe then decide to which highway we will start motoring back in our road-ready 250,000 mile SUV.

The return mission is just like the first. See some country, drive like the dickens, and get home safe to see my girls, any which way I can. That is the perfectly un-predictable plan, I can appreciate, even when leaving such a spectacular place like sunny Southern California.

Until next week, my friends… ‘Have a Beautiful Day!’

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

They come in threes

I got three quickies for ya. Read on if you dare…

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About a month ago, I replaced all the exterior door locking hardware on our house. I bought the parts from a shelf full of them. They had about the same features and design all around. Some were fancier sure, but basically they were the same. When I installed them, I had to make some adjustments so everything lined up. The little plate and the catch, needed to mate up. I studied this arrangement for the hour or so I spent messing with it.

Overall, a flat piece of metal with a hole, is held to the thin wood door frame by a couple short screws. A spring loaded metal thingy snaps into the hole and that’s it. Overall, this system is so flawed. No one who really wanted into our house would be stopped by it. Yes, I installed the deadbolts too.

But still, our most basic form home security, isn’t real secure.  And even if it were, my house has windows. That glass could be broken without much effort. My personal sense of peace, in increased when the place is locked up tight, but I’d be foolish to think no one could get in. Criminals, Cops or a well-meaning concerned neighbor could break through if they thought it was on fire.

If I want real security in my life, I’d better look to something more than a new lockset and little metal keys for well being and peace of mind. 

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In the garden my plants like peppers and tomatoes are growing quite well. These little tiny sprouts I stuck in the ground have developed and expanded. If all goes well they will flower and set on fruit, as many already have. From the tiniest of seeds, these organisms contain all they need to make a colorful bounty starting mid-summer through fall.

I could take the chance that a little water and some fertilizer will do enough to make their one season  life prosperous. But I do more than that. I build strong wooden trellis frames for my tomatoes. I hang a substantial string down to their bases. They twist around and hold tight to this support. They grow right up it, in fact. The peppers too get a stout bamboo stake to stand beside. I wrap a tie around that mini-post and the plant. Their flimsy green foliage blows in just a little breeze. Strapped up they stand a fighting chance against the storms of summer.

When the storms of my life come along, what foundational support structure am I going to hold on to? What is there so much stronger than me, that no matter what I’m facing, it is more powerful yet?

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I water my garden with a hose. It’s just a flimsy tube that H2O can flow through. I am an amateur plumber with little experience, but I do know this. Water flows downhill. The slightest drop in elevation and water begins to run that direction. I also know that it cannot flow uphill. It will not climb or jump or crawl it’s way any higher than from where it originated without assistance.

I was hold’n my hose, shoot’n some water on my squash-bug-infested squashie plants and something occurred to me. I was holding that sucker at waist height. Water was blasting everywhere. The hose hooks up to the hose bib on the house at knee level though, at least a foot or more lower. How can that water flow uphill, through the hose and fire out with such force? Water doesn’t run uphill…

Well, even though my green and orange 25 foot hoses connect together, then connect to the house at knee-height, that isn’t the original source of the water. Nope, that water comes through my main line, which is not higher yet, it’s probably lower. It goes from my crawl space down into the ground and out to the meter. So that water is coming uphill right??

Of course not. My water line coming to the house is fed from a central City of Princeton water tower, probably like yours is too. That tower is waaaaay up high. I could stand on my roof with my garden hose and even though I was hooked in down at the ground, it would shoot with gusto, because the tower is so tall. I will always be downhill of that beautiful blue tower, and the pressure will always be strong. Especially strong enough to water my little garden spot easily…

When I am personally plugged into a flow of life force, I think it works the same way. I may get confused and see a local connection, that I can feel and regulate with a knob. Truly though, the real power comes not from where I can see, but much higher than that. The tower I’m talking about is beyond imagination. I think the force working in our lives is endless and always abundant, but only if we understand that we aren’t personally the source. It’s way up there, and providing all we need down here.

Until next week my friends, I wish you a week of noticing the truth all around you. Showing and telling the reality of creation and sometimes, glimpses of the genius behind it…

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Like a BOSS!

Eye rolls and underbreath comments, a quick glance to a co-worker as I walk away, I am certain that I have created little moments like this at our restaurant quite often. I am the ‘manager’ of a small family-owned bar and grill, we have a fantastic staff and awesome customers. There are lots of times however, that I am asking a person to put in more effort, or take on an unfun project, or to quit a habitual way of doing things.  This usually isn’t a people pleasing moment, and they may not like me right then.

I guess that I am the ‘boss’ of some people, but I really don’t look at it that way. I never take any pleasure in ordering someone around. I am however more committed to creating a great experience for customers at the restaurant, than I am with always being liked by my staff. Of course, I always prefer that our crew knows what needs done and executes it to our high standards without my reminding or persuading.

At least now that is how I view things.

I used to be on the other side of this coin. I have been the employee who felt victimized by the desires of my boss. I have certainly been one of those people who can pick apart and complain about the decisions, actions or lack of actions in my work environment. I have been there done that, for sure. Sometimes I find myself doing it these days at one of my jobs, where I’m not in charge.

Funny thing though, working both as employee and employer, something has become crystal clear. The times that I have a problem with things around me as an employee, have to do with my commitment level. Also, conversely, as a boss, all the things that I ask done by my staff, have to do with my personal commitment level to our business.

At the Brand’N Iron, on any given rush shift, I am the most committed person in the room to the success of that place. There are a few caveats to this statement. For one, our staff is VERY committed to doing a great job. I think we have the best staff of any restaurant around. Also, the commitments that I feel strongest about, are the things I act upon. This intangible bullet-point list may not house the same activities, or principals, values or offerings that all of our customers and team would agree with. I have my perfect mental vision of our place, and it surely doesn’t match everyone else’s.

When I am in employee mode, working as a graphic designer at Front Row Sports, I cannot possibly embody the same commitment, held by the owner himself, Dave Cox. When I have inner complaints bubbling up, they all come from a place of straddling and unsure commitment. As a team member there, I may have many of my own inner commitments competing with the needs of the business. I am not the most committed person there, it’s true and its inherent to the position.

I am not laying down judgements about the clarity I’m receiving with these two opposite ‘jobs’ of mine. I am however pointing out to myself the obvious. I will always be pushing for my commitments, wherever they may lead. I can’t expect anything less from everybody else. Sometimes the personal commitments between people or organizations can be stretched too far. When the deep held principals of two parties span a large gap from one end of the spectrum to the other, there is no way to keep them together. It just can’t continue to work anymore.

However, just the awareness that our ‘boss’ is the most committed guy or gal in the room can make a difference. I certainly can look back at my own working life of over twenty years and notice that I have worked for some fantastic, highly committed individuals. Some of them got waay more of my negative attitude and complainy reactions, than deserved. I have more respect now than ever, of those trying to manage a business, which is really managing people. Truly, people (especially like me) are the biggest challenge we face above all others.

I will somehow always see where my compass needle is pointing me in life. My deepest commitments will show up in my navigation log record, as the places where I stood with my two feet and the projects I gave my energy to, with my own two hands. The dreamworld out there of somedays and somehows won’t ever materialize without deep and almost undivided commitment.

Speaking of which, I’d better commit myself to heading to work right now!

Until next week…

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

One fine day at a time…

The little infant baby girl in some pictures around our house is gone. That tiny face, with miniature features of a newborn only exists in memories now. Our daughter changes and grows every day. She hardly resembles the helpless little bundle we carefully brought home from the hospital. She does big kid stuff now.

I was looking at her pictures and longing for that irreplaceable moment of fresh newness that came with her arrival. I am no grizzled veteran of parenting by any means, but it was such a wonder and thrill to see her back then, when I hadn’t ever seen her before at all.

My JoJo is the light of my life. I wouldn’t trade her for anything. Even though I make jokes about her growing up too fast, I enjoy every second of our time together, just as she is.

So she is here, right? New and fresh every day it seems. She develops and matures by the nanosecond. The old her is hardly a flash of a memory and she moves on to new discoveries, new challenges too. She’s just doing what everybaby does, it’s natural.

I talked with a dear friend once, who wanted to help me learn about myself and transform as a person. She said that a helpful concept was to think of the end of each day as a death. She considered every morning a birth. She wanted to live in a way that opened with energy and possibility at daybreak, and rested with complete release at nightfall.

This isn’t so different than watching my Joella at play. She wakes into instantaneous movement and vigor for adventures within the crib. At night, she’s completely out, cached from a day where she gave it all she had.

At some point in my life, I began to use the morning to mull over regrets of the night before. The day might be spent in half-hearted gear-jamming. I can be stuck between wanting to pursue twenty directions at once and get nowhere. The nighttime can again blanket the mind with worry about the week to come or stuff I shoulda’ done.

Instead of a single day taking me from precious possibility through passionate production and on to relaxed completely forgiving rest, I hang on. I attempt to grasp together and hold all my past mistakes and grip the ghostly gossamer of the untold future. This exercise tires and torments. It’s self-mutilation and leaves me exhausted and vulnerable to rising tides of emotion.

Birth and Death, a completed life cycle, all in one day, somehow is manageable. If we really followed through and committed to this simple craziness, we might live full-out, one quickly passing day at a time.

Death isn’t a concept I take lightly. Death has touched us all in painful ways, including a dear family I love, that was rocked this week… It’s a foreboding word to even type out on the screen, capital D and all. In this context though, I loved how my friend conveyed the idea, that we could literally relieve ourselves of all anguish at the moment of nightly sleep. We could pardon ourselves from all the unchangeable steps we took or failed to take. I loved how she showed me that it’s okay, to just be okay, with what was, just  as it was and is, there is a new day a new birth coming in the morning.

Our 10 and half month young daughter hasn’t yet learned the ways we adults judge ourselves and others. She is still in pure wonder and action and basic need. Jesus refers to the fact that we ‘mature’ and loose that childlike faith and release into the arms of our heavenly Father.  In Matthew 18:3 the Word shows us this; ‘And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Until next week my friends, I hope that your mornings bring fresh possibility and youthful energy. I hope your head hits the pillow at night, without a care, leaving behind all but the quick prayer of thanksgiving for a day well lived, by the grace of God.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

ooowedowedooooooooo

Why dowedo the things wedo? I have a ton of actions and behaviors that I cyclically repeat over and over in my waking and sleeping life. Some happen several times a minute, some only once every five years.  It seems to be true that we chose our steps in life, and they aren’t thrust upon us by some wicked outside force. We either consciously, or maybe subconsciously act out our inner commitments and strong-held beliefs all throughout our day.

I sometimes ask myself, (which is a strange statement right? Who am I really? Two people, who can converse with each other?) “why is it, that I do the things I do?” One easy example is this blog itself. I can ask myself at 1:32 am after a long day of work, ‘Why self, would I stay up this late to agonize over writing an article that may not have any point to it all?” This is not part of my career. I don’t make income from it. I sometimes don’t enjoy the tension of deciding on a topic either. I could answer myself, that ‘I don’t know why I do what I do…”

All week long, at our restaurant, I have been examining the details of a building and equipment upgrade project. The original kernel of this idea was quite simple, and it has now exploded into a full blown intensive and expensive possible proposition. After cussing and discussing at hours on end I have picked apart the importance and the options available for this expansion. Before the quotes have even arrived, I know that I have far exceeded our initial small mental budget. So then, Why would I go ahead and attempt to do this thing at all? What takes us from thought to action, on an endeavor like this?

Why dowedo the things wedo?

After long conversations with my beautiful wife, I mentioned that really, we need a long term gameplan to measure the worthiness of this large scale upgrade to the business. We need some context, an generalized equation, or a bullet-pointed screenplay manuscript to try to fit this current decision into. We need to know where it is that we really want to arrive at, out in the liquid vast future of space, in order to make plans now, to navigate toward it.

So far, we still haven’t come up with those plans 🙂

Same thing as this blog I’m writing tonight. It sure would be more effective, to have an idea of some target or purpose that I am aiming to achieve, to know what to try and convey to you right now. If I had the context of a future book idea, or themed series, or YouTube channel that I wanted to create, based on these blogs, then I may be able to craft them with determined ambition. Right now, it’s basically about not breaking an almost six year weekly date with myself and a keyboard… that’s it.

The other day, I used a remote control to switch from Netflix to the antenna channels on my TV. I used a button indicated with INPUT. There were several options, only two or maybe three did anything at all. I changed the SOURCE, that was feeding images to the flat 55 or whatever inch screen. With the simple click of a button, I could access a whole new world of content, by switching the source.

Several years ago, the SOURCE input of my spiritual life was changed. It may have been by a remote control that my subconscious held, but I know that I spoke out loud a request for it too. Ever since then, a entirely new and different menu of mental items has shown up on the inner watching screen of my mind. That one significant change, certainly has had a TON to do, with why I do the things I do…

So, nowhere near perfect, I do choose different paths that are available to me now, Thank God. I choose different actions at 1:54 in the morning, than I used to. And maybe the answers of “why dowedo the things wedo”, is more about our inner relationship with the true source of God… or lack thereof, than anything else…

With Love, I might see you here next week 🙂

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Made in the Shade

Where did we get the idea that perfection is required in all things at all times? I don’t think that one iota of myself is perfect, but subconsciously it does seem to be the static benchmark I measure against. Accepting imperfection and opening up to the fluid ebb and flow of the charmingly chaotic world around us may be a step toward more inner peace and well being.

My garden is planted in probably the best spot in my back yard for vegetables. It’s almost perfect in fact. The ‘problems’ though are two hackberry trees that live right on it’s edge. They are getting quite big as of this year, and stretch out up top, creating lots of shade.0604160916b

Plants need sun, and heat units from it, to grow. The shade isan area that sun doesn’t reach… The trees are probably parasitic to the available water my veggies need. The trees are likely growing so well because of the extra fertilizer, water and special treatment that filters down to their roots.

Some may suggest that in order to have an even fantastiker garden, that I should cut down those trees. I could get full sun all day to my tommy-toes and peppers that way. They wouldn’t have to share their water with the trees. I may get higher yields of tender yellow squash or bright acidic Better Boys or spicy Japs to share with Harlan Proctor.

The ever striving reach for perfection may drive me to that someday, but not yet. Not now, those trees and my garden coexist just fine. I seem to really enjoy my gardening experience regardless of the morning shade onthe west side and the afternoon shade on the east. I am amazed every year that the tiny brown oval shaped seed is so packed with potential. It jumps out of the ground with green life and begins it’s work, whether or not a tree is casting shade its way. It just does what it can do, exactly where it is, right now, constantly and unceasingly.

Our little daughter is the same way, she just does and does and does at all times, she isn’t waiting for perfection first to begin her exploration. It’s just right now, all the time…

All of us have massive trees that cast a shadow over some area of our lives. We want sunshine and brightness to exist everywhere, but it rarely does. The shade may not always be a negative, it could be protecting us too. In the triple digit temps of late July and August, the hackberries screen out excessive heat. My plants may have an advantage that time of year, vs living wide open to every wave of the suns radiation…

I can’t answer for sure which is the better way. I know that perfection isn’t what it’s about. The lessons that perennially sprout up from the dirt are the real fruit of my garden. It’s about a cute moment with my daughter walking around looking at the plants and the dog and waving to the cars passing by.

The whole thing is in balancedperfection, from God’s eye view, even if we don’t see it from where we are standing.

Until next week, be well my friends.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols0604160916d

Playing in the Puddles… Indoors!

I’m really glad that I have a leaky camper. Water gets in from the outside and that is great. The floor area gets wet, and some of the wood has soaked up the moisture, making it spongy and damp. The storage box located at the front of our popup Coleman rig took on quite a bit of water this week. It weathered a couple storms this week, and water came, I’m happy to report!

Why would I seem so jolly about a seemingly problematic issue with our family camping tent-on-wheels? Well, it is just that as I was prepping the pop-up this morning for a weekend at the lake, I was diagnosing the source of the water I found inside. I knew the general area to look and pinpointed at least one main area that rain could have drained through a crack. This is good news for several reasons.

  • The first is that I didn’t find water on the king size foam mattresses, or in any of the other cabinets.
  • I found that the roof probably didn’t leak at all, which is really good. I discovered that the one main crack in the front plastic was most likely the only place where the camper has water issues.
  • In the few minutes I had to work on it, I stretched some ugly black gorilla tape over it, layered the strips together, and poof! The quick fix will probably block most of the water and seriously improve the situation easily and cheaply.
  • Also, I have the thing stored under cover, so this is only a problem for very few days out of the entire year.

See, the water on the floor and what was soaked into a few items laying down there, was not a pleasant thing to find in and of itself. I did however appreciate that the H2O led me toward an issue that needed my attention. I was glad to only find this small leak, instead of many much larger ones.

No matter what though, I was helped to move forward, and either fix this camper or move on to another one, maybe with less damage repair needed, had it been really bad. The leak itself helped me, to address and improve a situation in my personal world.

I need to remember that in my regular everyday life, when I discover problems, they can be assisting me, not just aggravating me. These various annoyances can point and direct my attention to a place or activity that I have neglected. I can take the opportunity to examine the source. Maybe I’ll tweak and touch-up, or retool and rebuild. Maybe I’ll do nothing at all and come back to it later when the situation gets worse. Any way I handle it, is my conscious choice as a commitment to response.

Luckily today, I didn’t find that my camper was completely rotted, from the core, throughout. But I have had days where I found out devastating news about big things in my life. I’m sure you have too.

Eventually, I wonder if we will somehow come to realize and appreciate the divine nudges and enlightened paths of life. Sometimes it seems more like rough shoves and slamming doors from every direction. Opportunity must live within it all though. It’s a moment for us to engage in decision and reconnect the core values we really hold as most true. What will we do with the leaky shell and the unwanted puddles on the floor of our canvas topped world?

Today I chose to love the whole thing, somehow for the good points along with the bad. Today was a good day.

I hope your today is good too.

God’s Love and Blessings to You.

Sincerely

Aaron Nichols

Another sunny day in May – 33 years later

Back in 2011 I wrote the story of my life, memory by memory from the start to the present moment. Maybe you have done the same at some point yourself? I was in a class and this was an assignment. Reading it now, I can see that I have healed and grown as a person, even since then.

My writing style at age 32 was different. I hadn’t practiced as much as I have now. I was doing it as a personal project and because of the scope, my details were bullet pointed, short and brief. On this blog, I tend to elaborate and examine small moments of life, constructing 700 words out of a brief thought. The ‘My Story’ document wasn’t built like that. My experience of looking at the way I looked at things probably had long lasting transformational effects. I suggest you challenge yourself to it sometime.

Today marks 33 years since my Dad’s living bodily presence was felt by his loved ones and friends. He’s been gone now longer than he was here. Today is a Saturday, just like May 21st was back in 1983, the day he drowned in the river while boating with his friends. Already this morning has started as sunny and delightfully springy, maybe like that one. I have spent time with my little girl and we visited the garden together. I suppose that weekend in 83’ started out about like mine did. It’s ending though, changed the course of the trajectory of our family for sure.

Here and now, I just want to acknowledge that this life event (or death event)  came in a flash, and yet touches so many of us still to this very moment. During the recording of my life story, I tried to capture all the flashbacks that I could recall from actual family moments before my Dad died. I was four years old then, and interestingly the quantity of those memories with my Dad could easily be tallied on one hand.

Here is a short excerpt of recollections, as written in 2011…

I don’t know the ages on these memories, but I would have to say Very Young. I’ll throw them out as scattered and incongruent, as I remember them to be.

  • My Dad coming home from work, and having Candy Necklaces for my sister and I, in his shirt pocket, and pretending not to. Every Day.
  • I had a pair of rubber boots that I liked they had a cartoon character on the bottom. And a cowboy hat too, my favorite outfits always included sweatpants.
  • I hated shoes in which I couldn’t wiggle my toes; drove me crazy.
  • Mom would lay on her back in the living room, with me on her bent knees, she’d hold my hands and bounce me and sing songs and play pattycake.
  • I had a little red dump truck that would hold a half a pack of Smarties, they tasted best eaten from it.
  • On Saturday mornings, we’d always be up early for cartoons. There was food too, maybe donuts, or cookies from the bakery or a trip with Dad to the family Restaurant downtown. I know at least one time I asked for ice in my chocolate milk, and got it.
  • I remember our house that had a transition. My parents remodeled it at some point. I heard later, that my Dad sold his motorcycle to pay for a new kitchen….

Maybe someday, I’ll return to this project and expand it where I can. Maybe then I could come up with more. To this day, I still hear new stories of my Dad from people I meet in public. He left a helluva mark on this place. I love though, the personal and intimate moments that I can access of my own. They are few but special. And yes, especially on days like this, I miss Him, a lot…

Dad-me-carwashUntil next week my friends, be well. You are loved beyond imagination. Your effect on this place is magnificent. You are important and someone somewhere will always be holding you in positive and warm thoughts, always…

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

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