The Curious and Quirky are Welcome HERE. A tribute to Mr. Hazell

His name is Alva, and the only Alva I’ve ever met. I think he was a school teacher, but he did brain surgery on the side. I looked him up the other day on Facebook and in probably 25 years he hasn’t changed a bit. He’s doing video production (quirky) and art projects (awesome) near Lebanon, Mo, probably among a lot of other things.

He operated on my skull when I was a teenager, while I was at a summer camp called DLA (Drury Leadership Academy). It took place in a classroom at Drury College, in Springfield, Mo, while we all sat around in a circle on the floor. I made sure each year that I signed up for whatever class he was hosting, it didn’t matter the name or the subject.

He is one of those people who can guide a young mind on incredible journeys of discovery. He woke up the rarely challenged spirit of invention and creativity in children. Most people are content to let kids be kids, but he seemed to want us to see possibilities beyond just ‘kiddery’.

I remember crafting new contraptions out of a box of discarded parts and batteries. I ‘invented’ a device for installing into bathtubs. It gave a signal when the preset water level was reached and warned if the temperature was too hot. I was probably 13 or 14. It took just a couple days. We only used  random Radio Shack junk, And it worked!… kinda.

He gave kids the confidence that they could accomplish ANYTHING. Wow! Mindblower for me!

Another time he sliced open my noggin’ and operated on it, was an exercise I’ll call Song Dissection. He took popular radio songs (which we thought was so cool!) and played them in short clips. REM had a song called Losing My Religion. He’d play – “ I thought that I heard you laughing” then we’d talk about it for a bit. Next was “I thought that I heard you sing” then “I think I thought I saw you try”.

Basically we broke down the songs, line by line. He wanted us not to just hear the music but to listen, to look closer and even comprehend the meaning behind the words. This was the first time I can remember someone encouraging me to pull back the curtain, to question the questions themselves and to not take everything just at face value.

His version of brain surgery must’ve been powerful. I’ve remembered those moments in his class often in my life. I’m sure he didn’t care if knew the real meaning of those REM songs back in the early nineties. I do think though, that he’d be glad that his operations ignited deep mental curiosities that are still burning in me today.

How much do we just intake information from the ever expanding explosion of media around us? How often do we question and probe with in-depth examination the concepts, the catch-phrases and the content pouring into our minds through TV, Radio and Internet?

I think Alva, excuse me, Mr. Hazell, would be glad to know that we don’t just constantly set our minds on cruise control. If I had that capability as a youngster, I think he helped to carve it out and toss it away. Thank God, and for that surgery, and thank Mr. Alva Hazell for making it FUN!!

Until next week my friends… Question EVERYTHING!!


Aaron Nichols

It’s a Coast-To-Coast Hissy Fit!

The country is crying right now. The wailing is shrill and coming from every direction. It seems as this election draws nearer the volume is doubling by the day. It’s loud and we can hardly hear ourselves think among all the noise. I believe though, the fact that our country is crying, is a good thing.

Just this morning, my little ‘turkey-monkey’ daughter was playing around the house and had waddled off to another room. It wasn’t long before I heard a banging crash sound. I wasn’t able right then to rush to get her. I was really wanting and hoping and so relieved to hear her cry. Her howling told me exactly what I wanted to know.

When I was young and watching our antenna TV, I remember the commercials that repeated tragic video clips of starving African toddlers. The spokesman quoted that we could adopt one of these children for just pennies a day. I remember seeing some of those kids bawling and letting loose their voices, in response to their hunger. I was more impacted though, by the sincere gaze of one small boy, who was quiet and just let the flies crawl around on his face. He wasn’t swatting them or yelling for his mother. It seemed as though, he might have given up hope…

The crying of a child indicates pain. The wailing is fear, discomfort, annoyance and a loud ear-piercing request for help! A cry tells Mom or Dad lots of important information. From the pitch and cadence, most parents know exactly what the issue is, that will soothe the fit-throwing baby.

A cry is language, in the most primitive form. A cry is positive because it announces that major bodily systems are functioning properly. The senses are working, the lungs are healthy and the kiddo wants some relief, right now!

The point of a cry, is not to simply practice the art of it. The reason we cry, is that we want things to improve. It’s an action meaning ‘we want change!’. It says that we are healthy enough to recognize the wrongings around us. It means we have hope yet, we haven’t given up, and we are trying the things we know to try.

Lots of people are more than concerned about our country and its future. I have children myself that will be living into the world that seems so incendiary right now. The good thing is that our great American citizens are raising their voices. They are saying, ‘This isn’t right’, and for all their attacking each other back and forth, it’s still a positive sign.

Beware the time when the collective voices begin to hush one-by-one. Be watchful if suddenly, there isn’t any more sound of resistance. Gather close your loved ones, if you notice that our country has gone mute, through censorship or forced restraint. If those words are too ominous, at least keep vigilant that Hope herself is tended to and nursed lovingly. If she passes away, I think we have far more to fear than either one of the next POTUS candidates.

Cry loudly my friends, but don’t stop there. Do your own part, to affect the things within your personal power, to make America Great Again. Don’t be fooled that the few on TV have much of anything to do with it.

Until next week, Take Care of Yourselves and may God Bless the U.S.A.


Aaron Nichols



Do you believe in Baby Magic??

Our baby has a magic face. Maybe your babies’ faces are too. Do you think it’s possible that every face, on every baby is supernatural?

I’ve been wondering if that could be true.

We have a baby who has one complete set of facial features, like most do. It consists of two eyes, a nose, some cheeks and mouth with tiny teeth coming in. I think it’s a cute one, but that’s nothing notable, I’m her Dad, of course I do!

Other people though, seem to have vastly varying opinions when they comment on our daughter’s appearance. People like to point out, what family resemblances they see in her little mug. Listening to the array of names that are mentioned, it makes me wonder if we are all looking at the same kid!

Is it possible that somehow she’s transforming and conjuring up completely different countenances for every person she sees?? HA! Don’t Think So!

Here is a list of just the remarks I can remember, and I am surely leaving some out!
“Oh, how cute, She looks so much like:
A Roecker Kid
A Nichols Kid
Her Mommy, Lindsay
Her Daddy, Me
Her Grandma, Linda
Her Aunt Alexis
Her Cousin Robbi
Her Dad’s cousin Megan
Her Dad’s Aunt Melissa
and even Her Mom’s Grandpa Al!

(it’s late right now, after a loooong day, I am surely leaving out a bunch of them)

Anyway, there are tons of different faces that our baby’s face seems to be a copy of. Interesting isn’t it? How can any one of these opinions be true, and still allow the others to have merit? Is her face so generic that it can look like anyone else’s? Is it somehow a perfectly designed face-puzzle that uses genetic pieces from each family in perfect alignments to look like all these other people? Or is it actually just magic??


Situations like these birth questions in my mind that completely intrigue me. So here is my insight that I’ve come up with so far…

The face of the baby is a fresh image upon our realm of existence. It’s new and therefore hasn’t had time and repetitious enough viewage to have staked an exact claim of identity for itself. It is also constantly changing and growing and yes, full of two family forests worth of DNA.

But ‘who’ the baby looks like, has so much more to do with the observer, than the lil’ tike themselves. It seems to me that there are images in the minds of the onlooker, that are being searched out of their mental catalog and are undergoing a matching process. The more the observer is familiar with a certain family member’s facial features, the more likely they are to relate the new child to them.

We tend to see things that we have already seen. We tend to observe things as a pattern of our past observances. We can powerfully overlay characteristics of which we are accustomed, onto an almost blank canvas of possibility…

Hmmm… did I stray too far there to follow??

I wonder if a new day in front of us, is just like the face of that dear little lovably bright-eyed child we see. I wonder if situations we encounter in our lives work the same way too. I wonder if the nature of life itself, has a construct embedded, in which we project outwardly onto the physical plane, the patterns and images we catalog internally in the ether of the mind.

The vast array of observers of my baby’s face, have actually created a montage of memories that correspond to Their individual consciousnesses. They’ve magically made something out of almost nothing. To a stranger, they may say, ‘Hey, nice baby ya’ got there,’ but they probably wouldn’t attach remembered emotions to that viewing. And all the time, it’s the same one JoJo face.

As much as I hate to admit it, I can look at the infant of a day born right in my lap first thing in the morning, and begin to design it instantly. I can say ‘Oh it looks like all these days I’ve had before!’ ‘Oh, it looks like another crazy day at work.’ ‘Oh great, it reminds me exactly like that one bad day, and I can’t wait to get it over with!’ I can expertly recall memories and project them into the immediateness of the Now, even when I don’t like the way they look.

I might want to be careful with that. I might want to start looking less at the way, I know they have looked in the past, and more about new possibilities that I haven’t even begun to imagine yet!

I mean really, how do we know exactly who Joella looks like. We only have us old people to compare her to. It could turn out that she looks identical to her new delicate baby sister, or her bouncing baby brother. She could match them better than everyone else! And it would stand to reason that she would.

For that though, we’ll have to wait until early May of 2017. Who knows, maybe by then, this Daddy will have learned to project more positively and prosperously into the blank canvas of our families’ future, than ever before. Let’s hope for our sake, that we all do 🙂

Until next week

See the powerfully creative self that you are and always have been, beautifully.

God Bless –

Aaron Nichols

Where I Went Wrong with Sobriety

Ha! I couldn’t have made a sillier or more massive mistake! I only purposely rerouted my lifepath based on complete falsity! This weekend will mark 5 long years since I last felt the sting of hangover or the snazzy exhileration of a red-wine buzzzzzzz…. But truly, I screwed up with this sobriety thing!

I think I have mentioned here on this blog, the events that led me to cease habitually drinking alcohol way back when I was only 32. Although I do share extensively my inner feelings and probably too personal information, I have already typed about it enough… right?

I don’t want to waste more of your precious time going over the same ol’ stuff, but there is a Big, and I mean BIG misstep that I’ve made with regards to giving up drinking, and I might as well post it here for the world to laugh and mock at! I mean there are around 20 of you die-hard blog readers here who might get a kick out of it, who knows 🙂

Anyway, I remember that loooong Saturday morning and excruciating afternoon of October 1st 2011. It was my last hangover,  and it seemed like just yesterday.

Waking up late in the morning, maybe like 11:00, I was physically and emotionally drained. I had a few too many drinks, several laughs and  one real good conversation the night before,  but something was wrongly different with me that day. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had just sadly repeated myself again for the umpteenth time. I once again, set out to just have fun with friends and ended up blackout drunk.

It didnt’ help that I was in between jobs at that time. I was claiming to be starting a couple different businesses. I clung to day-dreams while I sat and waited for some magic to happen. I wasn’t moving forward in nearly the ways I wanted to be, and ultimately wasn’t willing to really work for. I felt like a failure as a person, and that Saturday afternoon, wadded up on the couch in a heap, I probably looked like one too…

My twisted and recovering mind was stuck on a looped repeat of how awful of a human being I was. Everything about that day was dark and sick and bloodshot…


Until a fresh thought surprisingly cut through the thick puke-green fog in my mind.

“God can only use me if I’m Sober”

That sentence threw open the blinds, blasting away the darkness of  my mind, body and soul, washing me in 4 o clock afternoon sunlight. The tone was vibrant and unapologetic. The delivery came without a finger shaking loosely pointed right betwixt my eyes. In fact, there was no judgement toward me at all.  It came across, simply, boldly and matter of fact. It was just perfect wording and a perfect message to make me question if this might be my moment to drop away this crutch I’d used so long…


It must’ve worked.


It had to be divine intervention.




This is the big mistake that I’ve been leading you along to hear. This major flashing signpost in my life, that I used to make a complete U-Turn and quit drinking over, was FICTION!!!

I may have written that sentence here before. You may have seen the silly-ness in it before I did. You may already know what I’m about to explain next, but anyway!

‘God can only use me… If I’m Sober?’

What a joke!

  • God needs me to get sober, in order to be somehow allowed to use me? Heck NO!
  • Since I hadn’t been sober in a long time, then God had never used me? Heck NO!
  • If I got sober, then automatically that would require God to enlist me on some Godly mission? Heck NO!


I think the sentiment that God did provide me that day, was that I would be more comfortable and self confident and relaxed with myself, (eventually) if I let go of this drinking habit that had become an ugly Halloween mask, I called my persona. God knew that I would insinuate within this message, that God would use me more for Good, than for Bad, if I was sober instead of inebriated. God sent the message I really needed, just as I needed to hear it, at the exact right moment, just for me…

But it really doesn’t hold water now…

God is always using us. There is no way that we aren’t always part of the bigger choreography of creation. Everything we are doing, or not doing or pretending and procrastinating upon is part of God’s plan. I am sure that every drunken night I ever spent in my life, God was using me for something.

There is no limit on God, and we’ll never see all the extended ripples and effects of our lives, but they do occur. I was an absolute poster-boy perfect example of  the tragedies that alcohol can create, for so many people to see. Back then I was constantly on display, being used by God, to show why they call it being wasted and trashed.

God didn’t need me to be sober. I needed me to be sober. I was the one using God, as my excuse to try it. I’m lucky so far that God doesn’t seem to mind that too much.

It’s pretty clear that specific things have improved for me since I decided to give this sobriety thing a shot. Although the struggles never seem to cease, I don’t have to wake up hungover wondering what I did last night to compound or extend them out further into my future. I am no saint, and never will be, but releasing the regular and repetitive action of drinking to fix my problems, is a start.

I have been asked if it will last forever. I truly don’t know, or even try to think about that. Like waaay back when I first started, I just try to do today, without it.

It’s possible that I’m becoming more comfortable with myself as a sober being. I didn’t always see the falsities in this one sentence that changed my life. It’s good though, to keep learning new ways to look at things. It’s reassuring that the longer I stay on this path the better it gets. I like feeling that upward spiral circling back around to the places we already have been, but on a slightly different trajectory, a better one. 🙂

Until next week, be well my friends, Do for you, what You need You do to, in love.

And if you would like any reassurance, God and I do, Love You.


Aaron Nichols

A Dirty Dictionary Definition

Designed through methods we may never understand…

The scattered chaos and grimy lather of our striving to just make it through the danged day…

Is dotted by vanishing glimpses at joy and yes maybe hope…

Almost microscopic and instantaneously they take flight as soon as noticed…

Then back again into strenuosity, into tension and fear…

But The Designer Knows…

It’s all about the definition,

The one the Devil stole and keeps hidden, while a shinier and attractive one was left in its place…

That phony definition causes a world full of problems…

It’s the sweat, tears and the fight too. It’s the exhaustion of the mundane battle to stay barely on our own winding and ever-looping washboarded beaten path. It’s an occasional simple smile and a fleeting hint that the slightest difference was made…

It’s these daily opportunities to engage in torment again, to be gripped and to do some gripping ourselves at the edge of the ether of the advancing Now.

The true definition of Perfection, comes clothed in rags, it’s humble and plain. It doesn’t feel special or exhilarating. The true definition of Perfection is exactly unlike our imaginary picture of it.

And somehow, someway, I hope I can remember after this moment that the small still voice whispered it to me tonight…

Until next week my friends, notice another truer version of Perfection everywhere you look.


Aaron Nichols

What’s the Difference!!

Being able to identify the difference, the contrast, the uniqueness is important to finding the email you want, among thousands. If your inbox is like mine at home or at work, there are legions of messages and they seem to multiply by the millisecond. It’s important to know the fastest way to retrieve the ones you want, unless you want to spend your day scrolling. I think of this fact often while working at my graphic design desk.

Throughout my day I need to refer to the artwork requests that my customers have made in their emails. I need to pull up specific notes among thousands. I greatly helps to find unique search terms. An email consists of three basic parts; the subject, the body and the return address. Say my customer’s name is John Smith and the subject is Tee Shirt Order and the body says something about Shirt, these generic words don’t help me much. I will pull up everything with a John or all the Smiths or every message with Tee and Shirt in it, which is like all of them!

I have to find something singularly particular and exclusive to this one message or person. I need a school name and sport or I need their actual email address spelled correctly. Basically, I want to focus on only on the things that are different about this one message. That’s the helpful clue to finding a needle in a haystack.

I can remember a time in my teenage life, when sameness is all I desired. I wanted to blend in and be just like (a mythical) ‘everyone else’. I had the idea that I should not stand out, but be indistinguishable. A carbon copy of the in-crowd, sounded like heaven to me.

Oh, back then all I could see of myself was the ugly differences in my body, in my abilities, accomplishments and pretty much everything else. I did go through a time when I was sick and couldn’t participate in sports and middle school stuff. I’m not real sure I would have anyway. I would have been too self conscious to really try… You know, because of my differences and all…

So here we are, many years later, many experiences accrued since then. Life evolves in front of the windshield screen of our eyes. I see differently now in some ways. It is our differences themselves that are the most important and special and valuable to us. Being like everyone else is deplorable actually. A grey world, a boring medium brown-grey and without a speck of bright color, sounds ugly to me.

In my position as a manger of a business I can see now more than ever, that it’s the differences that make our restaurant special. Our people are not just like everyone else, when it comes to our Team and our Guests. They are wonderfully uncommon and unique and awesome. I can see better now, that investing time to slow down and find out about individualities is our number one job.

As big or as small as our projects are, it all comes down to identifying the spark of color, among the dimly lit mass of mundanity. This blog space is a place, not to write, but to revisit and give opportunity to my own unique inner voice. These sentences would have terrified the teenage me.

Sometimes I still see people or things around me and want to copycat or emulate. It’s wasted energy though. I can though open up to my own spiritual wisdom, allowing guidance by God not the world. I can’t forget that I was made unique, purposefully not to be just like the rest of His children. Why else would He have bothered?

Enjoy today, the things that make YOU, only YOU, and Me only Me and even (a-hem) those tough to love, those tough to love.

Until next week my friends, be well and be YOU!


Aaron Nichols

Devastating news about my Daughter

My daughter is a crappy walker. I guess she’s trying to learn how to do it right, but c’mon. She can take several wobbly steps in a row, but she crashes all the time! Geez! Little things in the way, CRASH. Quick change of direction, CRASH. Trying to walk while carrying her pink blankie, step on the blankie, CRASH. I don’t know if she’s better at walking or piling herself up on the floor in a heap!

She started stepping independently almost two weeks ago. Now, she’s moving quick enough that she’s colliding into household objects out of my reach. Her cutie face has new red marks all the time, from the bashing it takes. Yesterday it was the vacuum and its attachments that caught her fall. Today already, the rough edge of a cardboard box scraped a new geometric design on her cheek. Who knows what she will fall into while I’m sitting here typing on the computer!

Have I made it clear that my kid has failed a lot, at this new skill she’s learning called walking?

It appears to me that if she was measuring her progress, at how much she’s failing, she might as well give up already!! Why wouldn’t she do that, I mean falling hurts. She could cause real damage to herself or to our floor full of pots and pans. This crashing thing may be too big to overcome and if she gave up now she could save herself a lot of bumps and bruises!

Crawling is just so much safer. Crawling is a sturdy and secure way to get around. Crawling is almost as good as walking, but without all the danger. I’m wondering why she can’t see all the benefits of the Conservative Crawlers Movement, becoming popular among children her age.

“Why Walk!” Is a great slogan!

I see the onesies printed with ‘Why Walk’ all around and being posted online by intellectual babies who have put real thought into their own well-being. When we crawl we’re cute and someone will pick us up if needed. It’s nice to be picked up and held. Those wobbly walkers don’t get nearly as much cuddling as a cute crawler. Their independence is arrogant and a rude way to treat those who’ve raised you this far, just running away, like a game of chase all the time.

There is so much wrong with walking, yet my daughter seems determined to do it anyway! Ugh!

I’m glad I’m not like her. When I fall down and fail, I really study it. I stew and ponder each moment of the whole event. I sometimes spend days or weeks mulling over a single failure that I’ve committed. Yup, I’m not like her at all. She seems to not even care that she crashed hard to the floor! She just gets right back up tries to walk again. Duh! You’re going to fall again I think to myself, and sure enough, down she goes for the hundredth time today.

I’m so much more mature and prudent than her, since I’m 36 years older. She should ask me how to deal with her failures, I could set her straight. I could tell her, that she needs to start mentally collecting them, and adding them together. If she could just inventory and categorize these crashes she could see patterns so that she could be sure to know that it will only happen again if she keeps trying. This would make her so much more educated than the other babies like her, who just keep trying and keep falling down, over and over and over again.

Yeah, someday hopefully when she can start to talk, I can converse with her about all the ways that she can avoid falling in life. I could tell her how to never feel any impact at all. She could stay away from banging against anything whatsoever. If I could just teach her, to never try, then she would see that she could never fail! How wonderful that would be!

Until I can really get that implanted into her personality, I guess she will probably continue on like this. Poor girl. I can’t believe it, but she seems to not even be fazed by the constant slip ups and smack downs. She does it at home, and in front of people in public. She has little falls and big wipeouts and everything in between, but she doesn’t seem to have the capacity for embarrassment. I hope that virtue grows soon, so it teaches her how wrong it is to look silly in front of others. Honestly, it almost looks like she doesn’t give a CRAP what other people think! OMG! LOL!

Well, it’s obvious that I have a lot to teach this little toddler about life. I’d better get to it. She is playing in the background and been racing 100 miles an hour. It’s like she never stops. She just goes and goes, almost relentlessly at pure play! It’s weird I know, but it appears that with her playing all the time, she’s improving by little tiny increments at everything she does. She’s not taking it seriously though, she’s all sillyness and squeals of laughter with her constantly experimenting behavior. It’s so childish!

Also, she tries to make everything a toy! It doesn’t matter what it is. She’s ‘reading’ books that she doesn’t know the word to. She ‘cooks’ with plastic blocks in a mixing bowl. She even makes a jungle gym out of the legs of our barstools. This girl has it all wrong. It’s like she’s having FUN all the time, no matter what!

I’m sorry to have to tell you this devastating news about my JoJo. Hopefully someday she will ‘grow up’ and be more like us adults with our safe and calculated cyclical repetitions. That’s the kind of life we can be proud of, day after day after day after day after day after day.

Please pray for me and my family. We will need that kind of help to get through this. Sometimes, when I watch her, being so rambunctious and carefree I’m tempted to act the same way! I hope to hold my ground, continuing to mull over all my past mistakes and not forgetting a one of them. It’s hard though. Joella’s spirit of adventure is really contagious. Please, please do what you can to learn from her frivolous follies today.

With all the (wink-wink) sincerity I can muster today 🙂 Crash yourself into a fantastic weekend!

Sincerely (really though)

-Daddy and JoJo

I want “I can’t.”

A strong feeling overwhelms me every time I speak with the phone system of a mega-corporation. I am filled with emotion listening to detailed instructions from a computer voice that finally maybe leads to a real person’s voice which hardly helps my situation at all! It takes a lot of effort not to exclaim aloud into the microphone this intensity!

JEALOUSY is coursing through my being when I deal with situations like this!

Is that what you thought I was going to say?

Yes! I am admitting that I sometimes feel envious of a Pepsi Co or Budweiser or Verizon when I am dealing with them in my work or personal life. Usually the only time I need to talk with them on a phone is when there is a problem. I am dumbfounded and flabbergasted at the minuscule amount of help that a gigantic operation like theirs can provide. I only have to call when I have an unusual situation that may require a little flexibility on their part. I find that I am more often than not, stuck without a way to accomplish what I would like, when they tell me that magic word.

“No” seems to be the way in which my requests are responded to. Or maybe “We Can’t”, or “That isn’t an option” or even my favorite “We could have an hour ago, but now it will be another week.” WHAT?!?

This is the thing that I find my green jealousy centered around. This uncanny knack for saying NO to a ‘valued customer.’

See, I have never been a corporate guy. I have worked in some decently sized companies, but in each case, I was personally working for the original owners… in person, in the same building. I have never worked on a campus or been part of a team that was in a division of a region within a larger incorporated structure. The rigidness of the big boys is totally foreign to me.

It almost seems, that the bigger the company, the better they are at telling me (their customer) No. Interesting isn’t it?

I’m probably not really jealous, but at least bothered by the fact that we aren’t getting the full truth when we run into the words No or I can’t. We aren’t being honored as a customer or even as a human being with the courtesy of the actual answer to the question.

In my small business background, working in small town America, when someone asks me a question or makes a request, I am rarely going to give a Pepsi Co style response. Looking a person in the eye, and asking them for something, can be intimate in a way. They want something from you, and you have to Decide whether or not you will make their request happen.

I can spend time unpacking my reasons. I can express a verbal essay about why I would or wouldn’t attempt to help in this specific situation. Truly though, if I simply say “I can’t”, I am telling a fib.

Being on both sides of this coin, I know that there is another response we all are aware of, and it goes something like this:

If I wanted to badly enough, If I gave it my 100% focus and attention, If I committed myself completely to this task making any sacrifice necessary, I could accomplish dang-near ANYTHING!

We know this to be true about ourselves. We know this to be true about others. We know that if Pepsi Co really wanted to deliver me a single 3 gallon box of Tropicana Pink Lemonade by tomorrow, they could ABSOLUTELY do it! They have the lemonade, they have the trucks and they have my address… So really, the truth is that they don’t want to do it. Or the computer program that shows them how to be profitable says it isn’t, and they’re following that. Yes, it is my fault that I forgot to order it, I made a mistake. However, if they really wanted to help me out they could…

So go ahead, call my number, text or send a facebook message or email to me. Ask me anything. Force my hand and make a request, simple or complex, you pick. I will see if I can be like the corporate giants and save time by saying a simple NO. Someday though, I hope to hone those response skills.  I might calmly and rationally express without guilt or shame or fear of your opinions, that I am choosing to decline. In fact, I have decided to commit my time, energy or money to other things instead.

A few years ago, one wise person showed me the truth that I was lying to myself and to them, when I said ‘I can’t’. It was sort of devastating in the moment to realize that I had the power of yes, but wasn’t willing to step out of my comfort zone. I had the capacity, but not the gumption. I didn’t want to try as hard as I really could. And my way around those embarrassing choices was to say ‘I can’t.’

I don’t know if there are people who listen in to the phone conversations that I have had with the representatives from those big companies. If there are, I wonder if they feel that same twinge of regret when the answer comes down to ‘We can’t do that.’

I guess it’s sarcasm or me just going for the corny surprise-factor, to say I’m jealous of those entities who say ‘I can’t.’ I am glad that I don’t hide behind it day in and day out. I do know that it is an art form to construct and maintain your own personal boundaries. I have a lot to learn about that. I can’t always be out to please everyone, with a YES! smiling while over-promising and then sad-facedly under-delivering.

Knowing our own commitments so deeply that we choose, act and produce instantaneously is surely a high form of self-love and respect. You can see plainly that I am still working on this concept for myself, even with typing out these words, at 1:23am early on Friday morning. My commitments vary and flex and fall off and falter. So there, I am just as small and human and broken as anyone, and I guess it would be a lie to myself to say that ‘I can’t’ do anything about that.

Until next week, fortify your boundaries my friend. Defend them with your life. In short, just Choose, and don’t use those two cuss words… “I Can’t”


Aaron Nichols

‘Hold WHAT!’ says my tongue

At the ripe old age of 37, I’m probably better now at holding my tongue, than ever. I can stay quiet while those precious few seconds pass by, instead of spouting off the first thing that comes to my mind… Sometimes…

The problem though, lies in the fact that a thought or reaction or concern has occurred to me, and I need to quickly decide that I will not immediately express it verbally. I can be in a conversation, or see something happen, or maybe get a text message, that I want to instantly respond to… negatively.

As the saying goes, ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.’ Right?

If I am happy with what I see and hear, it’s perfectly appropriate to congratulate or encourage or celebrate with someone at good news… but that’s not what I’m blogging about here.

That little saying is designed to remind us that our brain is going to serve up our fears or insecurities or especially judgments and we aren’t helping ourselves or others by barking them out at every opportunity.

There is another issue however, in that the holding back of those thoughts, rarely goes unnoticed. Emotional fakery is easily detectible. I seem to radiate tension into the space between people, when I am thinking something negative, but choosing to keep it verbally canned up. The air gets thicker and time ticks slowly with loud heartbeat thumps for those awkward moments between sentences. At least in my own mind it does. I don’t think any one of us is oblivious to the true inner dialogue and feelings of another person, even if they aren’t talking about them.

So we have a dilemma.

Even if I get really good at holding my tounge, I need to do more than that. I need to stuff down and hide my feelings far away from the detectors of my family or staff or customers or guy at the gas station… right??

Impossible and shady and on some level I’ll become a professional politician, always blurring the boundaries between truth and bullshit. I don’t think that is our answer.

This week, I was given a little hint at how to deal with these situations, that seem to be bursting like popcorn all around me.

‘If I don’t have anything nice to THINK, I could choose to not THINK anything at all.’

Instead of being aware of the words about to leave my lips and halting them, I could notice the thoughts themselves that constructed those mental words. My mind constantly fires off a barrage of observations and predictions and YES negative judgments about the world and people around me. Sometimes that helps me to survive and avoid bodily harm. Most of the time however, it leaves me in a general dismay about things I see and hear in my day-to-day life.

If I begin to decide that not all of those mental pictures and negativity are helpful, then I can make a new plan. Like changing the channel of the TV away from the evening news, to something, ANYTHING else, I can break the momentum of that hostility between my ears.

Just taking a microsecond to redirect my inner attention can stop that dark snowball effect. I am not assisted positively by every darn thing that I ‘think’. I don’t have to believe everything I think. I can step back momentarily and return later with a fresh perspective and then decide whether further processing is necessary.

A quick judgement is rarely the best one. I am not being chased by a wild jungle cat. I don’t need to kill or be killed. These primitive warrior instincts can overtake my overly pampered and plush lifestyle in the modern day Midwest.

All this is easier to say (or rather to type) in the silence of my living room, than to live out, for the rest of my today. I will give it a try though. I will let go when I can, and just ponder quietly another mental photograph, any other one, as long as it clips the thought chains that are dragging into darkness.

Until next week my friends, I wish you well being. Even more important though, I wish for you, the ability to create your own well being, in all circumstances.

God Bless.


Aaron Nichols

Just Killin’ It!

The sweetest little moment of my one-year old falling to sleep for her morning nap nestled in her pink blanky and my arms was rudely interrupted this morning. As we gently rocked in our cushy recliner one tiny-winged black-bodied housefly kept landing on us!

The dang thing would jump-fly from my arm to my hand and even to my face! I would swat it away, and almost immediately, it was back and bugging my barely sleeping baby! She would snort and shift and dislodge it momentarily, just to have it switch back to landing on me.

After a fun morning was slipping away with an increasingly cracky-tired little girl, I was so enjoying my moment of peacefulness and rest with her. EXCEPT FOR THE STUPID FLY!!!

Anyway, I tried to just ignore it. Then I tried to swing quickly and quietly with my hand to snatch it. These precious few seconds of constantly interrupted cuddling had to end. It was time for the fly to DIE!

I put the baby down and picked up a proper swatter. Right away, I spied the annoying insect and BAM!

Ahhh… all better… at least until another comes along 🙂

So there, your key to life for the day. Something to take with you and use as you see fit. Got it? Good.

Okay… Okay…

How often in our worlds are we just trying to enjoy the bigger picture, to appreciate our blessings and to be contented among the overall goodness of the day… Only to have a small but exquisitely irritating problem distracting us completely! That happens to me all the time! I am so fortunate in my life and blessed beyond words! Yet often I find my mind focused on a tiny issue that consumes all my attention!

Maybe it’s a problem at work. Maybe it’s a list of undone tasks. Maybe it’s money or a relationship or car trouble. Maybe it’s a broken cell-phone or that tiny voice in the back of my brain nagging negatively about almost EVERYTHING!!

Well, the other day that voice got the SWAT! Walking through the store in the afternoon, my mind was buzzing with mental gar-bage and just like that tiny housefly, I had to stop what I was doing and KILL IT!

SHUTUP! I yelled quietly into my own mind! I don’t think anyone around me heard it 🙂 but that little voice sure did. Immediately, it stopped. The train of troubles steaming along between my ears was vaporized instantly!

Sometimes we are not going to be able to just ignore these small but powerful annoyances. Sometimes we can’t just co-exist with our issues. We shouldn’t have to learn to enjoy the feeling of the flies in our lives crawling all over our skin. At some point, we have to just decide to stop what we’re doing and deal with the thing itself! Just kill it and rejoice in our action.

No, it’s not a permanent solution. There will always be another problem ahead, but we can’t continue to ignore these things until we are covered head to toe and pretend that we’re fine all the time.

Luckily this week, I was annoyed enough to just tell my own brain to SHUTUP! Luckily I was irritated enough to just set my sleepy girl in the chair and kill that dang housefly. Doing something about the problem always beats trying to just live with it, like it doesn’t really exist…

Until next week my friends, kill all your flies and relish it!


Aaron Nichols