This weather hits me right in the ‘feels!’

Even though I ‘feel’ like complaining and I can tell myself there are lots of real reasons to do so, it probably doesn’t help. This week there was a tragic Icemaggedon Storm predicted and so far, it hasn’t showed up. I notice a lot of emotions within myself about how the issue has played out. I could even write in detail about that here…

However, it seems that the focus on these negative ‘feelings’ wouldn’t help me out much. I can’t bring back lost revenues or un-ache my head from dealing with lots of conversations about ‘What if it gets real icy out!’ It almost seems to me that if I could forget about the flavor of those feelings altogether, I’d be better off.

In reality, all is well in my world. I have a beautifully pregnant bride, a bright-eyed bundle of fun daughter and work hard in two successful small businesses. It’s hard to complain about much, from a birds-eye-view.

Those darn ‘feelings’ though can be tricky.

I’m wondering if the warm tension in my gut and dull throbbing of my head don’t come from ‘feeling’ too much of my ‘feelings’… I have probably spent a long time and lots of effort on dissecting the inner world of my emotional responses, and instead it may be more helpful to overlook them.

Discipline and determination, faith and perseverance all operate contrary to and in-spite-of feelings. These habits and character traits are forged straight through the burning desires to procrastinate, or to change course, or quit altogether. In this sense, the ‘feelings’ themselves can be an enemy!

We may put too much weight and importance on the existence and elaborate behavior of our feelings. I know I have done it myself this week. I wonder too, if THE Enemy, uses our feelings as bridle and bit, to direct our attention, our momentum toward his lies and corruption.

If effective and positive progress toward God’s will, is to be made, we may have to disregard our own feelings from time to time… Soooo, much easier said than done.

Until next week my friends, be well and operate beyond the boundaries of just what ‘feels good’.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Watch that bottom line!

I was a little startled at the price I heard coming from the other end of the phone call.  A chunk of plastic should be cheaper than that, right? Then I was even more surprised when the person told me that if I looked up the part on Amazon, I could save our business $15.00… Well that was a NO BRAINER!!

‘Order it up please. I would much rather buy it from you locally for only $15.00 more. Thanks for your help on this!’

Especially when I’m spending money for our restaurant, The Brand’N Iron, I feel compelled to keep as many dollars as possible circulating within our local economy. We are patronized mostly by the community around us. There aren’t a large percentage of our customers from the City or other states. I feel responsible to trade in the neighborhood whenever common-sense shows it’s possible.

We are always appreciative when someone chooses to dine with us, instead of driving out of town. I want to treat other businesses the same way, with our equipment and supplies issues.

Of course spending more money when it could be saved happens to impact the bottom line. I understand that too. The bottom line is that we are a community establishment, and part of that is working together as much possible. That’s the real bottom line.

Until next week my friends, choose to support your hometown community, whenever you can.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Happy New Now

A lot of anxiety is based on the possible ending of things. It’s more than just a physics law, and it seems we actually prefer the objects already in motion, to stay in motion. Another way to put it, as I’ve heard, is ‘The only person who likes change, is a baby with a dirty diaper.’ And I can add, that even the baby doesn’t always like that!

New Years is different on the surface level. The celebration is about the next thing coming, a fresh start, and excitement for possibilities to come. Ho hum, big deal, that’s not what you clicked here to hear.

The End and our relationship with it, has everything to do with… well… Everything.

I can create a stream of sentences describing the inner panic that washes over me, when I think of various ‘Ends’ that could and most likely will occur, in the average person’s life. As a self aware control freak, I could blame the mystery of the timing and circumstances surrounding those ‘Ends’ to be the problem, but I’m fooling myself there too.

I wonder though, if the truth isn’t even stranger than we can conceive. I think it would be easy to prove that our current understanding of our coordinates within this journey of life, are off. How else could we be thrown off, when changes come our way? If we had pinpoint accurate knowledge of our position in relation to work, or our relationships, or our intellectual and spiritual path, then how could surprises exist?

Therefore we must, at all times, be experiencing a margin of error in our own interpretation of the world around us. This error could be miniscule enough that we live out day after day, month and year after year as ‘same crap, different day’. We may be cycling around in the same ol ruts, and know it, finding comfort in the repetition. That’s not most of us. Would you agree?

I see my world unfolding in a constant version of California freeway driving: full throttle, slam on the brakes, full throttle again! This is most likely because of a slight misperception about what I am actually experiencing. Even though I feel the waves of emotional impact one after the other, it’s just because I stick to the idea that I’m in a concrete world, not a fluid one. No sailor would be surprised by the movement of a boat on the water, somehow I freak out at each dip or rise.

The illusion of linear time, the imagination of security vs uncertainty, the impression of permanence is all between my own ears. Believing untruths about nature, about God’s creation, when we repeatedly experience it otherwise could be defined as insanity.

Oh well, all I could do is give up my lunacy, my death grip on delusion. Then when things come unhinged or doors slam shut in my face I could smile in the knowing that doors and hinges are made of smoky ether. This substance takes on lots of imagery, but any physical reaction is conducted from within.

I can celebrate the New Year, yes. 2017 seems like a high number right now. However, there aren’t even things like years, that can exist within the tiniest becoming moment we experience as Now. Here is where life actually happens. With faith, there is always a way to experience the touch of Almighty God, in that place, no matter what your perception tells you, about the End of this or even the Beginning of that.

Until next week my friends, find a tiny now, breathe and enjoy.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Don’t Copy Me, Don’t Copy You

I prefer to create, although copying is easier. It’s been written that ‘there is nothing new under the Sun.’ So then, how can I even claim original creation, it’s probably more like the cleverly rearranged copying of existing ideas.

Take these words here that have been clicked out weekly for over 6 years. Are they fresh language, never before uttered and new to all ears? Not hardly. My limited vocabulary is easy to spot and the lack of higher education evident throughout my blogs.

However, the attempt at creation is made. The blank page is tackled character by squiggly character. Too often these days we want to repost instead of post. We want to acknowledge a word picture that someone else created, to identify ourselves. Social media is chock-full of ways to decorate your personal space online with cute, sarcastic or deeply profound images… most of which we don’t make ourselves.

What then will it look like, years from now, if one were to read back over the digital trail we leave behind as legacy? Decade after decade will be recorded into the future and I’m wondering if our personal story will be revealed as one simple idea expressed over and over, or if it will be like a kaleidoscope rotating to constantly reveal new patterns, colors and combinations of shapes?

In an English class a long time ago, I remember the lesson being about ‘flat’ characters in a story vs. ‘round’ characters. We had to identify those who ended the tale with the same outlook or actions that they started it with, vs. those who had transformed in some way. The ‘round’ characters interested me the most. I wanted to know about when and why it was that they had a change of heart, or how they lost an enthusiasm they once had, or watching hope arrive where none was before.

The birth of Emmanuel, the Christ Child, has given the roundness to an otherwise flat world. Barbarism existed before the Nativity and after, but the unmistakable impact of Jesus is a bending and re-shaping of the human collective consciousness. In the macro sense and the micro, in our culture at-large, and in the tiniest personal moment within our own minds, Jesus is catalyst for change.

I try not to be just a copy-cat, wanting to gather information, experiences and moments, and author my own new story out to the world. There is only one, that attempting to copy, is worth the try. There isn’t any part of life, that can’t be challenged, changed and left forever anew, through a connection with a baby in a manger, that we worship this Sunday.

Merry Christmas my friends, may you allow this moment to encircle and enlighten your heart in the truth of the Spirit of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the Light of the World, our Good Sheppard and Savior.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

not drugs… hugs

Sometimes, very late in the evening, my daughter cries out from her crib. She’s tossed and turned and almost woken herself up. I go into the room and feel around for where she’s at. I pick her up and immediately she’s nestling her head on my shoulder, trying to get back to that deep sweet baby sleep.

She didn’t need a drink, or a diaper or late night snack. It seems to me, that she just wanted to know that someone is there. What is provided to her in the dark and the quiet is a comforting cuddle, and nothing else. This need for reassurance and closeness is born into us. We don’t grow out of it.

I don’t usually cry out in the middle of the night. I do however, throw tantrums and fits. My inner baby seems to be alive and well. In many instances I’m aiming my frustrations where they don’t belong. It’s juvenile, I admit that.

I forget though and fear. Somewhere within, I’m caught momentarily alone. As much as I value independence and self-reliance, I’m afraid of it too. In a flash I can find myself on an island.

God gives us strengths sure, but they are not absolute. We do need each other. We do require a warm embrace from time to time. We do flourish instantly with a text that says ‘I Love You’, from someone dear.

I hope on this windswept snowy night, that your cries out will be heard. I’m blessed that even through my tantrums, I have a warm home to return to. Maybe lil’ JoJo wasn’t fussing as much for her own needs, as for mine. Her calls gave me an excuse to hold her, and hug, and whisper lightly… ‘Daddy Loves You.’

Until next week, enjoy an embrace and hug on each other.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

A luckily painful childhood

My daughter is recently learning about pain. At 16 months old, she’s more mobile than ever. Her adventurous climbing and clamoring on-top-of, in-between or from-one-to-another is an all day activity. Sometimes a mistake or misstep causes a big crash.

Just this morning while in my half-asleep care, she fell hard. Lots of crying, some hysterical and big red drops of blood from her mouth, meant that she’d bit her tongue. A few moments in Mom’s arms and things improved quickly. She is quite resilient and was soon laughing and eating breakfast.

I said initially here, that she is learning ABOUT pain. Most of the time JoJo is rambunctious and everything goes okay. It’s all giggles and smiles. There are moments though of quick shock and surprise when the table corner catches her noggin, or the footy-jammies slip out from under her on the slick wood floor.

Pain hurts and she’s finding that out.

At her age, she quickly rebounds and goes back to her play. She will probably crash again and again and again…

That is unless at some point she begins to learn FROM the pain. The stings and ouchies she’s experiencing can be very useful if they help direct and guide her away from activities that cause them. The pain is a great tool that can educate our kid to either get better at balance and body-control or quit trying to climb from chair to end-table to couch and up the back of the couch and front flip off of the couch.

I wonder about my own world. Sometimes I think that I have noticed the reality of certain pains, and kinda stopped at that point. Just learning ABOUT pain, is only half of the lesson. Of course I’m not just talking about physical pain, but emotional pain, spiritual pain, monetary pain, social pain and others. Sometimes when I make mistakes in these areas, I shut down at the awareness of their existence. Rehashing and discussing these pains may be my primary focus.

When JoJo is in the throes of that harsh discomfort, we try to distract her and move on to another acitivity. We grab a toy or book that she really likes to get her mind going in a new direction. We do comfort her, but only for so long. We want her to bounce back to her happy self, and not dwell too long on this passing sensation.

Honestly, I don’t do the same with myself. I find that my mind in pain, wants to search my memory banks for more instances of the same type of problem. I can look into the future and forsee more of these moments that haven’t happened yet. I can try to convince myself that the agony will never end and I might as well learn to live like this forever!

Well… hopefully, I can remind myself of this story sometime and begin to not only learn ABOUT pains in life, but learn FROM them. Maybe I can ask myself to take new steps to improve my abilities or avoid certain situations in the future. It’s possible that I could, at 37 years old, take lessons from my 16 month old, on how to grow and mature enjoying life more, even though pain exists as part of this world.

Until next week my friends, don’t be afraid to crash and burn, you just might learn something from it.

Take care, and God Bless.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

A Theory of Relativity

Relationships are HARD!! Especially relationships with PEOPLE! Ugh!

I have a hard enough time with my relationships with inanimate objects like the clutter of my desk, the food I heap on my plate or the piles of leaves on the lawn. These material things in my life can be out of balance, and my relationship with them a struggle. In all of these examples, I have almost total control and fail to tame their chaos.

When it comes to people?? Well, let’s just say I don’t do quite as good of a job, as I do with eating junk food constantly! Once I bought a book called, Dealing with People You Can’t Stand. I showed it to my bosses at the time… I told them I bought it because of them. HA! That’s a true story!

Anyways… I have a widely varied mix of relationships with people, and I haven’t done my best to caretake them. I have strained relationships, and distant ones. There are awkward, tense, embarrassing and regretful relationships in my personal catalog. I have done the damage to them in many cases and been the catalyst for personal problems of all types. At certain points in my life, I was so full of inner-turmoil that I would instantly transfer it to anyone near me like an electric shock!

Luckily, not every relationship I have with another human being is like that. There are people that I sit in admiration of. There are persons that I honor and believe in. I am in contact and connection with others that I truly deeply love and always want the best for them. There are people that I serve, and want to invest my time and energy to assist as much as I can. So I guess I’m not 100% rotten J

My favorite moments though, happen when the culmination of relationship and opportunity equate to marvelous serendipities that prove the Hand of God. You’ve experienced these instances I’m sure, when something amazing happens in the real material world that is important and far reaching and only because of your relationship with someone else. I can think of a few of these times in my life, and they are soul-satisfying.

God wants his flock to be in a healthy loving and supportive relationship with one another. There ways we can easily assist each other by just cultivating and keeping alive our special relationships. I have so much to work on in this area, and at the same time I’m so blessed by people around me all time.

This post today isn’t designed to show how I stand apart from anyone else. It’s just here to remind us that we all are connected, deeply and these ties that bind are actually the most important ‘things’ in our lives. In this season of material focus and consumer frenzy take a moment to reflect that your most valuable possessions aren’t possessions at all.

Thanks for being here, with all of us, just exactly as you are, right now. You are Divinely Valuable and I Love You.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

A short thought of Thanks

I have my priorities screwed up most of the time. I’m focused on the unimportant and not urgent, instead of the opposite. I’m behind the eight ball, in a game that I haven’t gotten around to starting yet. I overall rarely use discipline to keenly discern the highest priorities for long term big picture payoff.

But this week, this Thanksgiving holiday week, I’ve been content with that.

Turkey day snuck up on us fast this year, and I threw together our plans at the last minute. I didn’t do a lot to make the most of it and multitask it to the max.

Thursday was a great day, just as hectic and overindulgent as it was. It wasn’t perfect and that was 100% fine by me. I still am recovering in some ways, and happy about that too.

It’s all okay, because I have SO MUCH to be Thankful for. I did notice the tiny moments that I caught a kind word from my wife. I got to watch our silly daughter play with her rambunctious cousins. I appreciated the amazing meals prepared with love. I saw family gather, and share. In one fine moment after another, peace was passed around the rooms in so many ways.

There is a ton of things I didn’t do and I could have done better and could have prepared more for. Oh well, this is real life, and this is just about as good as it can get.

I thank God for the many blessings in our world and may you feel them yourself just as I have this Thanksgiving.

Until next week my friends, Take Care and Give Thanks!

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

On a dark desert highway

If I need to escape into a daydream and flip through my mental memory rolodex, I instantly transport to an empty and undulating desert highway. The late evening summer sun is finally settling behind a far-off mountain range. Every color in view is another shade of reddish brown. It’s been hours since civilization, and my speedometer is reading around 80mph.

I have no radio signal, but for some reason my phone is able to stream a Royals game. The slow pace and the uneventfulness of several scoreless innings are well-matched to the static landscape all around. Nothing out here is moving but me and I can barely notice that either.

This is southeastern California, there is no sparkly beach or buildings or congested population. This is no-man’s land.

It was already late afternoon when I finally picked this route to Lake Havasu. I was worn out with the traffic leaving San Diego; it took awhile to decide which way to escape that mob. I probably should have stopped earlier at Joshua Tree, but I was so detached and oblivious from our week of vacationing, that I missed it altogether…

Nope, out here, there is no National Park. It’s not pretty enough for that. This is just barren desert.

Eighty miles per hour may seem fast for a narrow two-lane. Without even a chance of seeing a patrol car, I could have easily added another ten. I kept it somewhat reasonable though, since every couple miles, the road dropped out from under me for a hundred feet at a time. Calling them ‘dips’ doesn’t give these cutouts much credit. I think these reverse bridges are designed to let water cross the road, in the slim chance that rain ever finds this place. This strip of asphalt is one long sandy roller coaster.

I wasn’t quite lonely out there. I was so far removed from the real world that Roxy lying silently in the back was companionship enough.

Two hours back, there was a four-way crossing. A sandblasted brick box used to be a service station. I slowed down as I got near. There were two relics resembling gas pumps. Both were occupied. One with a large red-caked old Winnebago and at the other a frustrated soccer mom stood by her SUV. I passed on through, with a foolish confidence. My gauge read just over half. Surely enough to make it one of the other towns on this map…

I came upon them, every 40 miles or so. Back in history there was an established town there. At least I would guess that’s why the map showed a name. They were now nothing but tumbleweeds and rock. My journeying wasn’t limitless, the tank only holds so much. This road is much longer than I had thought it to be. The fuel stops I hoped where there; weren’t. I motored forward into the young desert night, not knowing when I might run out and then how soon help might arrive.

This is the sort of place that isn’t on the way to anywhere. Most people wouldn’t have a reason to be this far out in the desert. I knew I would need to be on-guard if stranded here… Finally, after a couple long hours watching the needle of my gauge dropping, I drove up to a general store. There were gas pumps with electricity. A 4×4 highway patrolman sat across the road. But sadly the place was locked up, and pumps on the fritz. Dang, I had to pee…

Nothing to do, but head back out there, now with less than a quarter tank, I still had miles to go. My nervousness was on constant increase on that last stretch heading into Arizona. The pastel pinks and purples of the clear sky darkened into navy then midnight blue. In the distance I finally saw tiny spots of yellow, it was Parker, a real city perched alongside the Colorado River.

I don’t think I had but a few fumes left, when I pulled into the Terrible’s Quick Stop and let Roxy out the back. I was hungry from a long day on the road. I still had to find a place to camp for the night. I narrowly avoided being stuck in that desert. It was real relief to hear fuel gushing through the hose.

I drove around 3800 miles on that trip from Princeton, KS to San Diego and back. That late evening blast across the sandy moonscape of California was maybe my favorite of the trip. It was a bookended moment in time that etched itself into memory. I was enchanted with the area. I was maybe in actual danger. I drove along a razor’s edge at 80mph and damn, it was fun.

My life here at home is pretty pedestrian in comparison to that night. I have routines and awesome moments with my girls and I’m glad that I don’t fear for our safety here. I wouldn’t want a Mad Max existence, barreling around constantly in battle for survival. On that night though, I began to question the boundaries of my safety net. I powered myself right into that problem, and luckily coasted on out.

Memories are hard to make, when everything is perfect. Those times when it all goes right, can be somehow forgettable. Like I said back on the first line of this story, when I daydream, I find myself way out there, so far from home and uneasy in my seat. That was an experience of real adventure and the impression upon the mind is vivid.

Scarcity can be so satisfying in hindsight. I did make it through; there was no disaster at all. I probably had a mile or two to spare even. I entertained more fear than necessary. It was special though, that drive across nowhere.

Without surprises, those other segments of the trip were curiously forgettable. All those well-fueled and carefully planned miles I navigated fade into the mundane. I guess it’s ironic, to think I spend a lot of my energy planning to avoid life’s problems…

I guess the moral of this one, is to appreciate the unrest, the lack and the will to drive where others don’t. These might just be the only memories to cherish someday. The ‘normal’ ones could blow away like the dust, in the wind.

Until next week my friends, take yourself out there, where no one else will go, and enjoy every minute of it.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

You Gotta Fight for Your RIGHT!!! Right??

I hate to admit that there few things I want in life more than this. It’s embarrassing and probably immature, but true. This one thing seems to trump (ha!) most other personal values and I’m ready at any time to fight for it. I relish the moments it happens and regret whenever it doesn’t. Sometimes all I’m doing all day long and probably in my dreams too, is yearning and aching To Be RIGHT!

Being Right is My FAVORITE!!!

It’s sad but true, it seems that I can’t help it, and I’ve just always been that way. WHOO HOO, I LUV TO BE RIGHT! Hitting the lottery for me, would be that I could spout irrefutably undeniably and authoritatively with absolute faultless correctness whenever I spoke! How AWESOME would that be!!

Yeah!

Well…

Um…

Actually, wanting to be right, as much as I love it, isn’t always helpful even though I want it to be.

I must not be the only person in the world like this, because as our recent social media opinion-s’plosion shows, it’s not uncommon to see folks spreading their own righteous assessments around like manure. In fact this blog here, is my personal field to fill with my own bull-stuff every week!

I do think however, there is a reason you are reading my words online, or someone else’s FB posts, or listening to a podcast, or clicking on a video or even tuning into a cable news channel. I believe that if you are engaged and listening, that you somewhat agree or relate to the content. At the very least, you can stretch to understand their presented point-of-view somewhat. Enjoying media that is congruent with your own preconceived ideas, can reaffirm ones’ inherent correctness about world and life issues. My writing may help you confirm your own handle on life’s truths.

Now, I know that some of you are mature enough to watch or read the articles of your opposition. If you are like me, you even seek them out. I have several podcasts that I religiously follow, and one happens to be from an atheist. His words are slowly delivered with a greatly varied vocabulary, and he sounds extraordinarily intelligent. Yet! I do listen to his hour of oration, merely to hear for myself, how right I AM, and how wrong HE IS. His obviously misguided attempts to replace the perfection of God’s lushly created universe, with random chance mutations of stardust and lightning strikes is bafflingly enlightening!

Again I find myself in search of affirmation, more than transformation of my own limited and admittedly wee small-mindedness.

I won’t apologize a bit, for wanting to strengthen and develop the inner stance and core belief structure that I want to use as my life’s navigation compass. A sailboat needs a rudder. A mission requires a map. ‘If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up someplace else!’ You see my point, right.

But, we come to a real impass and problem, when I have decided that I completely know all that is right, and that YOU are incorrect about EVERYTHING. If I am conservative and you are liberal, we have nothing positive to discuss. If I live sober and you enjoy booze, forget it, you’ve lost me at ‘Beer-Thirty!’ If I deeply appreciate the profound rebirth of my life through Christ, and you think the Bible is an old tired book of fairytales, then excuse me, but we will end the conversation there!

How can I continue to swim and splash and wallow in my own personal correctness, if I am to interact with any entity that doesn’t agree with me already! It’s almost impossible’!

Although I truly enjoy being right, when I am, (which is like almost always :)) I know deep within that it’s fear and weakness and low-level egotistical nonsense that requires I only always be right in my own mind. It proves in fact, that I must not have concrete 100% bulletproof belief, or else it could easily withstand an opposing opinion at any time.

Assertive compassionate self confidence with a reserved humility is how deep-rooted well-being dresses. An established inner stance can play and interact with the world around it, without lashing out at everything that moves in an opposite current.

With this being election week, and our country in surprised shock at itself, the boxing ring bell is dinging; ‘Insecurity!’ ‘Insecurity!’

If we all really had it figured out, and we were so right about all our opinions, there wouldn’t be much to say at all. We would simply and intentionally live out our personal values to the fullest possible extent. It wouldn’t even take words to do that. We would do, instead of talking about doing. We wouldn’t try to explain our side; we would powerfully be the change we want to see in the world, enough that others would really want to follow our lead.

That’s too hard though, too big a task, waaaaay to much work for me, when I have a daughter to diaper and a business to get running in a few hours from now. Instead let me snort and spout off a few more words. That’ll do pig. That’ll do… This way, I can set my mind at ease in my own airtight case of self-righteousness and sleep easy knowing I have said what could be said, and that’s that. I’ve done my part!

Surely, I get to be right again about all this now… right?

Until next week, take care my friends. I truly appreciate You, even if you don’t 1000% agree with me.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols