Once Upon A Mid Night Mind Clear

Holding this moment of silence, just feeling the brushed and shallow breath grow a little deeper each time, the dark stillness of night is pure. Some say that this super mid night hour is a great time to awaken. The earliest of morning is a moment that the world slumbers and God will converse through the depth of the blackness.

It’s 3:11 am. And I do need to head soon to bed.

The compounding and contorting kaleidoscope of the day has slowed down. A click clock tock competes only with the hum-rush of our heater, struggling keep the winter outside. Both are loud tonight.

Across the room is painting on the wall. I found it a couple weeks ago. It was tucked into a big cardboard box. There were several boxes that Mom had saved. Stuff from my childhood. Memories among the stuff.

The painting is signed by me. I crafted it, and it’s pretty terrible. The landscape scene is of a bridge, over a river. The vegitation is confused. Some tufted tree thingies live along the water. A huge tree limb angles across the sky. I attempted reflections in the stream, but they don’t match up with anything, really. The colors are muddled. A pale yellow and light blue sky somehow lend a vibrance to the water. It’s surface is quite vibrant.

I don’t remember each moment of painting this thing. I do however think I was attempting to channel Bob Ross. But Bob, I aint’.

Anyway, I have hung this painting up in our house. Near our ‘office’ area, I can see it every day. I’ve been wondering about it lately. It seems to grab my attention often. I notice it, I’m aware of it’s faults. I laugh when I realize how poorly it was designed and executed.

I’m sure I painted it for a class. I wonder what the grade would have been?

Hmmm.

I do know this though, as bad as the painting looks to me today, I am proud of it. I think it is quite remarkable that maybe twenty years after I put that acrylic onto the canvas, I pulled it out of a box and hung it on the wall in my home. It somehow stuck around.

More than that though, I am proud because I made it. I chose the parts, I used my two hands and my two eyes to set each brushstroke on the media. It is caked on and too thick of application. This is the work of a beginner. I don’t remember painting much at all when I was young. This is almost a first-timer effort.

I did not choose to stick with this type of artwork. I didn’t pursue the mastery of it. I’m not sure I ever painted again, after this image.

But I did make this one. I did try and put effort into it. I see the results of my work, and I am not wanting to compare it to a Michelangelo, but compared to me, it is just great; as is. I tried, and I made something. I was given the materials and I produced a result.

I could learn to love my life, in the same weird way, of loving this ugly painting. I could give myself a break. Realize that I have tried and have given my efforts toward creating something on the canvas of this world. Someday, at the end of it all, I can sign my name to it. I was the artist who brushed on the strokes of my own composition.

I don’t have to constantly compare it to the old world masters. I could look at my own life, as a stand-alone work of art. My art. I could try that sometime. Ugly is a term that carries negativity. It speaks of disproportion and disfigurement. Sometimes I look at my life with that same distaste for my own creation.

I could though, instead, decide to see something I made. I created it with the tools and the experience that I had to work with. I crafted it with love and with care. I wanted to make it pretty. I added in the things I wanted to be there. I left out the things I considered unnecessary.

I could decide that my painting the best thing I ever painted. I could see that I made the best life I could make; as is.

Hmmm….

I was thinking all week about problems. I saw them almost everywhere. My brain hurt, considering the options, juggling possible outcomes. I sunk into black negativity, when the sheer size and breadth and depth of them loomed overhead.

In one brief second, after days of mental exhaustion. I saw that maybe, ‘seeing the problems’… was the problem.

I could have seen just stuff. Just neutral-ness and perfection in the chaos. I could have seen this calm moment at the center of it all. With God’s true heart inviting me always to abide in Him.

My painting, is just that. It’s mine. It full of problems, yes, but all of it, is a creation that I know, no one else could have made. It’s uniquely me. Another will never duplicate it.

Until next week. I invite you into the middle of the calm of the night. All things in this tiny flash of a moment slow down. They all become perfectly ugly. The beautiful transfigured life. In a couple more hours the day will awaken. The motion returns. Another cycle can throw us around. Not for right now though. Not in this one deeply calmly breathed epoch of a split second.

Hello Life, I Love You :)

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

(3:52 am)

I believe I’ll peer into the weirdness…

As a grade school philosopher, I clearly remember a crowning moment of achievement. One day I came up with a question, a sentence, that twisted my tiny mind. I was stumped without an answer to it, and yet, I had ‘created’ it. Just like making up a joke, or crafting an adventurous story, my childhood imagination, marveled at my wordplay invention…

“What does ‘mean’ mean, if ‘mean’, means ‘mean’?

umm… well… I still don’t know, or much care to answer this silly question tonight.

I do think though, that I want to tell you all, every reader here, that I always felt ‘weird’ about using my mind to think up these little questions. I did a lot of pondering as a kid. I wondered about the how’s and the why’s of life, and the world around us, as long as I can remember.

When hanging out with friends, or in a class, I would sometimes mention some of my deeper questions. Maybe I would express a mystery that befuddled me. I seem to remember that others were quick to dismiss it or laugh or maybe just let a blank stare lead to silence. Even to this day, I can only recall a few people who I could really conversate with, who were willing to discuss my rudimentary questions and views on science, the arts, the nature of reality, or spirituality.

I do know that this little blog is place where I feel free-er and free-er to write out my quirky inner conversations. Instead of just having this discussion between my own ears, one big reason I wanted to talk to other people about these deep issues, is that I wondered about how other people observe and understand this curiosity called ‘Life.’

What do you believe? What leads you to believe what you do? What do you notice and understand and expect out of best and worst moments of your known existence?  Did you get your beliefs from somewhere else? From a person, an experience or just from a gut-level certainty that you were born with? Do your deepest beliefs change? Have you watched them transform over as your life unfolds? Do you think that core truth has always been the same, but shows itself in different ways?

….

Okay, now I am beginning to lead things on, and shape some answers…

Back to my youth. Back to being embarrassed about wanting to care and become concerned with philosophy, with meaning and cause and effect. I felt that I was the only person in the whole world maybe who wondered about this stuff. Untrue, but still a very vivid insecurity.

Us human beings do lots of talking. We do it all the time. We get together, one mouth starts and then the other responds. Words, ideas, emotions and information is all shared between us with our language. We are constantly giving, receiving and processing the words from others…

I wonder tonight, if there is possibly more than one real question? I wonder if every word uttered relates to just a single core inquiry? I could just quit blogging right now, if I could properly ask the question and receive the fullness of your answer. If I could even put my own articulate and concise thesis together, to share with you, I could save you from ever having to read another of these silly online bloggy posties.

‘What do you really believe?’

and to answer with my own

‘Here’s what I really believe.’

Simple, right?

Nah.

Not only, does every one of my conversations, have this question at it’s core, It also breeds actions. All of my actions, are a result of my deepest committed beliefs, and yours are that way too. All of my observations and yes, judgments, of actions I see, bounce against this question as well. We know, our own deepest beliefs, by the steps we take each day. The place where I find my feet, tells me the truth of my heart.

Ha!

Well, I must believe in beliefs.

What if they are illusion as well? What if there is no you, or there is no me. What if the ‘I’ that is referred to, doesn’t even exist? God, the creator, has planted mysteries and puzzles among the intricate simplicity of the grand design.

I am only glad today, that I can type these words in the blackness of night, and not still feel the same shame, I once did…

It’s good be weird…

I hope you feel empowered to share your weirdness, and yes your beliefs, with someone today :)

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Just that one dang thang

It’s easy actually, to quit writing a blog like this. Every Friday I post it. Been going on four years now, I guess. But it is easy to just drop it.

At least this morning it was.

At 12:55 a.m. on Saturday, the 14th of February, I am finally getting around to putting some words up on this screen. I did have intentions to complete a post earlier, but something else happened.

I freely and happily left that task undone. I didn’t follow through. I almost began, at one point, but then, nah, switched gears.

There is a really simple reason for this. I had a focus. I had decided what my number one priority was. I knew, without any doubt, that preparing our restaurant for our big Valentines’ weekend was THE thing that I really needed to do most. So this morning, that is what I did, it is all I did, instead of my normal routine of writing a blog post.

Ahhh…. the relief of that ‘knowing’ was delicious. Just for once, having the ONE thing in my mind, on my radar and in the crosshairs of my scope of conciousness, was such a tasty change. Usually, I do NOT have just ONE thing on my mind. In fact, it almost never, ever happens that way. Lately even, the reserve spot on top of my ToDo list is empty. Really, it is. I spend many days, going through some motions, but without any solid idea of what I am aiming at.

I halfheartedly complete some tasks and do the minimum required actions to inchworm my way along, till the next night’s rest finally drapes over me. I do hope that this part of my world changes, when a new life enters our little family. I expect, I won’t have a shortage of new tasks and jobs that need my energy and attention.

This weekend though, at our restaurant, has ignited that inner fire again. I have made lots and lots and lots of plans for it, over the last several weeks. Together, Chad and I have talked and talked and talked about ways we can serve our customers best. I have bought new equipment to make the flow in the kitchen, just right. I have put together advertisements and made up special recipes too. All these things are extras and stuff that I don’t really Have to do, I just want to. It excites me to spend some energy and make this the best Valentine’s weekend that I have been a part of. I hope it is :)

Either way though, the journey and the hard work, is where my delight has come, in this process. The end result could just be a cherry on top. These are the types of words you hear from people who are describing a great career in sports or business successes.

RARELY, and I mean RARELY, do I have this much focused enthusiasm for just one event, anymore… I used to put together parties and trips and celebrations, quite often. I used to love to do that. To host people, and to provide a great experience is thrilling to me :)

Tonight, I think we did a real good job. Our people worked the systems very smooothly. I reviled in it’s precision and in their abilities. Lots of compliments came from all around.

……………. Too bad, I don’t really focus my energy like this more often.

Too bad, I don’t get this excited, just by waking up each day. I probably function on some level of habitual depression and negative attitudes, pretty much most of the time. Really, this upbeat commitment to this one project weekend has been good for me. I can leave distraction by the wayside and just keep driving to the one direct and clear goal, when I have decided what that goal is…

Cheers, then. Cheers to the Choosing. Cheers to making a more full decision. When 100% of me is focused on just one thing, then there is nothing left to dilute or disperse my energy.

I hope that this new year, and this new life, coming to ours, can help me remember that it is so much easier and more fun, to know just one thing. To commit to one idea, whatever it is, saves me, from wasting time on all the piddly other possibilities.

Now, another day awaits. Another chance to play and to serve well. I hope I am ready and I hope we have prepared enough, I’m looking forward to the challenge :)

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Restless tonight

Cause I wasted the light
Between both these times
I drew a really thin line
Its nothing I planned
And not that I can
But you should be mine
Across that line

If I traded it all
If I gave it all away for one thing
Just for one thing
If I sorted it out
If I knew all about this one thing
Wouldnt that be something

I promise I might
Not walk on by
Maybe next time
But not this time

Even though I know
I dont want to know
Yeah I guess I know
I just hate how it sounds

If I traded it all
If I gave it all away for one thing
Just for one thing
If I sorted it out
If I knew all about this one thing
Wouldnt that be something

If I traded it all
If I gave it all away for one thing
Just for one thing
If I sorted it out
If I knew all about this one thing
Wouldnt that be something

Even though I know
I dont want to know
Yeah I guess I know
I just hate how it sounds

Even though I know
I dont want to know
Yeah I guess I know
I just hate how it sounds

If I traded it all
If I gave it all away for one thing
Just for one thing
If I sorted it out
If I knew all about this one thing
Wouldnt that be something

If I traded it all
If I gave it all away for one thing
Just for one thing
If I sorted it out
If I knew all about this one thing
Wouldnt that be something

If I traded it all
If I gave it all away for one thing
Just for one thing
If I sorted it out
If I knew all about this one thing
Wouldnt that be something

If I traded it all
If I gave it all away for one thing
Just for one thing
If I sorted it out
If I knew all about this one thing
Wouldnt that be something

Keeping crazy commitments, vs. commitments driving you crazy???

While shopping a few weeks ago, I made a silly promise to a silly girl.

Little Gracie was cruising by, sitting in the cart. She probably made a funny face, or said something goofy to me. I reached out to the nearest thing I could grab, and tossed it at her. The deep blue pack of Halls cough drops landed in her basket. Lindsay and I talked with her and her Mom. We all said the normal, Hello’s and See-You-Soon type things. Then Gracie threw the bag of mentho-lyptus back at me.

She said she didn’t want them. I told her that, the next time I saw her at our restaurant, they would be waiting for her. ‘You probably will, You crazy guy!’ She said. Before leaving the store, Lindsay asked if I wanted to put the cough drops back on the rack. I said ‘Nope, I told Gracie, I would have them for her, so now I’ve got to do it.’

So fast forward, from a few weeks ago, to last night. I walked up behind Gracie and her family at our table #15, I told her that I was sorry, I was all out of animal crackers, but I did have ‘these’ for her. It was the blue pack of cough drops. She rolled her eyes and her Mom laughed. It was a fun little moment, Gracie and I are buds :)

I told a kid, that I was going to do something. It was simple, it was easy. Most of all, it was silly. The thing is, that I had to complete that little promise I had made. Actually, I shouldn’t be throwing around promises, unless I am willing to keep them. I call it a promise, and even though I didn’t say that word specifically, I know that little kids listen and retain and I might as well, be saying ‘promise’ anytime I commit verbally. Especially, to this little girl :)

Throughout this week, I have been amazed at a few moments, when people have let me down on their promises. Just yesterday, I had my jaw on the floor of my car, reading a text, in which, a new team member at our restaurant, was backing out of the three day week, she had agreed to work with us, and I had four hours notice (this was after I had offered free gas money to get her started, since the first paycheck had not arrived yet) :( Just like little Gracie, I am still choosing some level of belief that when a person makes and agreement with me, then they will follow through, as best they can.

Once I got over my initial GRRRRRRR, at being let down with such short notice, I proceeded to draft messages and try to the get the shifts covered. Luckily, another kiddo, stepped up, and came in to save the day… again. Overall, everything worked out, like it always does. Yet, once again, I was questioning the limits of my sanity as I attempt to staff our restaurant.

The bigger issue, with falling short of fulfilling our commitments, isn’t even the person we are letting down. If I had chosen not to buy those cough drops, and not to put them in my car, where I could go get them, next time I saw Gracie, it would have been no big deal. If it was even mentioned at all, I’m sure her Mom or Dad, would have said something like: ‘Aaron has other things to worry about, than bringing you a bag of cough drops!’ And it would have all been fine…

Even this new team member, who is leaving me to prep and cook by myself this morning, instead of coming out to make some money and bring her assistance, is probably better off, the employee of someone else, rather than us. Overall, this is just one of many instances, that I have dealt with before, and will again, I’m sure. The restaurant still finds a way to function, or at very least dys-function, while with the people who staff it, come and go.

The bigger problem, is within ourselves, when we don’t follow through on a commitment or a promise. The real issue, is the bruise and the dent left behind, in our own being, when our words and actions do not make solid repetitive connections. I am no freaking saint when it comes to follow-through. Believe me, I am not throwing stones in my glass house here. I do want to bring some attention though, to this simplest of ideas. When our words and our actions match up, we are building integrity. That is a big thing. It stays within us, it can be seen by others too. It is intangible, but soo powerful.

Other than honesty, and strong moral soundness, the definition of integrity includes ‘undivided’ and ‘the state of being whole’.

In order to be undivided, we cannot make too many commitments. We have to say no, we have to strongly, confidently and with compassion, be able to say no. This act itself is so merciful. When we say no, and keep our commitments within our means to accomplish, we are building our integrity, bit by tiny bit. I need to say no, more often. I need to practice this and play with it. I can edit and cultivate my commitments, caging them and supporting, so they don’t grow wild and out of hand.

Years ago, I learned from Dave Ramsey, that the number one trait of the successful people he admired, was Integrity. This human characteristic is free to us all. It doesn’t matter how much or how little we have, we can always keep our promises, or refuse to make them, if we can’t keep them.

I know there are places where I need to improve and polish up my own integrity. I know that one little bag of cough drops isn’t going to redeem all my failures. That one pack of Halls though, is practice. It is a tiny reminder that even a silly little promise kept, can put a big smile on the cute face of a little girl :P And the best part was, that Gracie told me, they were her favorite kind of cough drops :)

Until next week, be blessed :)

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

 

I finally bought the TV Service they sell at Wal-Mart… NOT.

It is a real wonder that I have ever tried anything new or different in my life. Sometimes I begin to wonder if I ever really have. I can pinpoint my patterns that have been in perpetual repetition for as long as I can remember. I am talking about patterns of behaviors, habits, emotional responses and most especially cyclical thoughts that ever return, over and over again.

Funny then, that the idea of repetitiveness comes from my encounter yet again, with the TV sales guy at Wal-Mart yesterday. I don’t know if you visit that store as much as I do (and I hope you don’t) but for several months they have allowed a team of salespeople to bug you about buying their TV service anytime you walk past the electronics department.

Grrrr…

I walk past there several times a week. So then, I am constantly asked a little ‘opener’ question about what TV service I have. I already know what to expect. I have seen them from down the isle. I usually (only halfway politely) respond with the fact that I have free TV service that comes out of the airwaves. They usually tell me that they have a great service also, and at a really good price. I have not yet found it to be as cheap as FREE, but maybe by the time the 150th salesperson engages me, they will find a way to describe it as so cheap, it’s almost free… Yeah Right.

Anyway, as I walked away from Mr. TV Guy yesterday, I once again said a little ‘good thought’ prayer for him. I do hope that he finds productive valuable work and can give his talents to something more substantive than bugging shoppers to sign his contract.

I was thinking about how I really don’t ever like to be ‘sold’ something. I was thinking about how I do not ever want my current mission to be derailed and rerouted into the ‘swinging deal’ that some salesman is hawking. I don’t let the root of my intentions for my day, be redirected into becoming the pawn in someone else’s sales goals… not without my permission first, and very first.

Of course I do engage in purchasing and consuming like most other people. I have signed contracts and bought things and helped someone else hit their sales goals. I do it probably every day, on some level. However, I much prefer the open door, the business who provides a good product or service, and I get to hunt them down, when I want to.

These are tiny examples of my personal ‘come-from’ and probably a lot of other people’s too. I think of this idea in terms of business ideas I have tried, and also failed at. I have tried to create services that offered things people could need. Like marketing/advertising/web design for your small business. I have tried to offer personal financial fitness coaching, to help people feel more in control of their money problems. I have also done some life coaching.

Selling things like this was hard for me. I felt that people (like me) didn’t want to be sold on something, they wanted to be able to ask for it, hunt it down and feel they were the ones who made it happen. (Like Me)

According to Mr. Steve Chandler, this idea in itself is a mental blockage.  A life coach is someone who can bring a cool drink of water to the sun-baked and thirsty desert wanderer. He expressed new realms of thought around the idea of selling and allowing someone access to a product or service.

I do love hearing him speak about those exciting concepts… However, I usually crawl back into the dark hole of my well-known comfortable past experiences. I want the alleviation that complacency allows. I want the same problems again, because I know them well. New ones would be scary, I guess. Maybe even better problems, more exciting and fun and fulfilling, but I tend to keep new and different at bay.

So there I go, settling back into the deeply contoured seat that my the fat butt of my being has worn over and over again through the decades. I think I return to the same issues and experiences, that I truly always have.

I see my young nephews developing their personalities. At four years old, you can see now, things that were noticeable almost as infants. I have a kid on the way too. I wonder what specific shapes their personality will carry throughout their lifetime?

I know some people who work on this stuff, trying to ‘fix’ it. I have met and talked with those who have attended Landmark Forum seminars, they have tools to reprogram the mind, they say. I have seen the work of Byron Katie, who seems to take the opposite approach, she teaches to Love What Is. Michael Neil, who I have met and talked with, has a book out called the Inside Out Revolution, where all the work we need to do is within our power, inside of ourselves, and then the world becomes what we want it to be…

I know about all this ‘life coaching’ and behavior stuff, because I was interested in it. I hunted it out. I wanted to learn about new possibilities for me, for others. It wasn’t because someone caught me passing by and ‘sold’ me on it…

I may always be curious and always wanting to learn about new streams of thought. I may always choose to stay stagnant and stuck, even when help is right across a thin line of action. I know my own victim-mentality better than ever now. I know I could start the conversation with the TV Sales Guy. I know I could witness to him, probably get him to avoid me :) I could do a lot of things…

I probably will do things I have done before. Until I am just completely fed up, and the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of change. (Dr. Henry Cloud)

Until next week. Take Care.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

“We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.”

― Henry Cloud

You won’t believe what my Wife got me for Christmas!

My wife gave me a special present for Christmas this year. It was totally unexpected and I was blown away that she was able to completely surprise me. This is a post about a gift, yes, but as always there is more than just some consumer review for you here at weirdforgood.com

I opened the squareish hard plastic packaging of my GoPro camera, a few days before Christmas. Lindsay insisted that I go ahead and spoil the surprise. She was smart. I needed a few days to get used to the thing, before the family togetherness, so that I would know how to use it.

I began right away, making a mini video of her and I just sitting around the living room. Then I had fun with my nephews running down the hall at Mom’s house too. Anytime you put a couple three-year-old faces on the screen, cuteness ensues :)

I spent hours working on editing and processing family videos over that first week. I also found the urge to upgrade the accessories I have for it. I also dumped a few hundred more dollars into my computer for faster processing speeds.

I know a lot more about the whole world of GoPro today, than I did when I first opened the package. My intelligent and thoughtful wife, found something she knew I would enjoy, and spent the money to give it to me :) I am blessed :)

I watched some interviews with the founder of the GoPro company. He is a guy that just wanted some good shots of his experiences out in the water, on his surfboard. He did the research, found a camera maker to work with, and the rest is history.

He said that these little, super-mountable cameras have become a ‘life-capture’ device for the tons and tons of people who now have them. He is right. I have been using mine for basic ‘life-capture’.

See, I not only have taken shots at family events, but I bring the thing to our volleyball games too. I also can be found setting it up at the Brand’N Iron, where I eventually plan to make a fun little video for showing people our food, our place and most importantly our great team. I will post it on facebook and our website, I think it will be lots of fun :)

Now that I have several and I mean several hours of footage of my own life, I have started to notice some problems… See, when I see myself on video, I don’t always enjoy watching that footage…

I see in the volleyball videos, my unathleticness…

vid-3

 

I see my body from new, and unattractive angles…
vid-4

 

 

I see missed opportunities and moments where I’ve failed myself and the team.

vid-5

I even filmed some practice from yesterday. It felt good at the time, but I see in the video, how much room I have for improvement… Wow, look at that jump! Bleh!vid-2

At the Iron, last night, I shot more clips there too… Upon review, there are certain things I will choose to leave out…  :(vid-1Sure, I have some good moments in all these activities. I even win points sometimes in volleyball, even with my dismal athletic prowess… But the super interesting thing to me, is how completely different my own life experience feels from driver’s seat inside my mind, to how it looks from the completely objective perspective of that little camera’s lens.

In fact, what this GoPro device really does, is remind me of the time I was really working on the art of Life Coaching. This camera performs a service, which is quite useful and powerful and presents us with a way to understand ourselves better than ever.

If I shoot a video of you, I look at it, and see, what I usually see. But when I take footage of myself, I see something that I can never, ever, ever get in any other way. I see the truth of how I walk, how I talk, how mobile or not, I appear from outside my own body. I get to sit with the images, the audio and the story of me, told by a completely opinion-less device.

In the coaching world, we understand that people are absolutely unable to perceive their own selves without a mirror, another person, or another lens that looks at them from the outside. When I see my own problems from inside my mind, looking out at the world from my own skull, I cannot physically or metaphysically understand all the possibilities and tools and opportunities I have at my disposal.

From inside my own self, my perspective is a tiny sliver of the spectrum of truth. It is filtered through a lifetime of regrets or low self-esteem. Huge dangerous dark risks can be overlooked from that point. Inherent hope and bright white light may not be noticed from the inner space of my tiny mind.

The best coaches that I ever met, worked a lot like the little GoPro camera. They just captured a moment of my life, then showed it to me. They could report diligently and without any opinion or judgement or any shielding of the cold hard truth. They simply showed me, what was. They then gave support or ideas or cleared up the moment to help me decide what I wanted to do about that truth we experienced together.

The little GoPro is not a replacement for a life coach. I don’t recommend everyone swap compassionate human intelligence for chunk of plastic and wires. There is huge value however in noticing ourselves from a brand-new perspective. I see now, how I want to make changes in myself. I want to do that, to better connect and to bring closer together the ideas in my mind, to how I operate in the world.

I can be soo negative on myself. I can get lost in the muck and mire of every-day-ness. With my little camera, maybe I can start spinning some new loops of thought into old broken records. Maybe I can see myself at work, at play and in moments of success. I can let those little filmstrips play on repeat and begin to build something fresher, more positive and delightful as a way of being, than just noticing my faults again and always again.

Even though the lens captures ugliness, there is beauty there too. I see our team. I see hard work. I see family and smiles. I see myself trying and failing, but at least trying to create something fun and bright and unique in this ever mind-numbingly repeatative world.

Thanks My Love, My beautiful pregnant wife, who I am so honored to be blessed because of. I appreciate you so much :)

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

 

My big belly and my dinky head

How soon does your gut tell you the truth?? When does it let you forget the truth? The stomach-brain is something I have heard of before, probably blogged about before, but really have no education on. I was thinking about my stomach-brain yesterday morning.

That ‘thinking’ is done with my head, my skull-brain, I guess. I was working with a professional serviceman, he was there to help us. Actually he was late, compared to the time we were told he would arrive, to help us. As the problem was being diagnosed (at our restaurant) and technically dissected, I got messages from my stomach brain.

I knew a couple things about the situation: Overall, everything would be fine. In the long run, we would be back to good working order, and even better than before, eventually. I knew we would have a hassle and extra effort for the next few days working without our main big walk-in refrigerator.

We had already cleared our inventory and found other less-convenient places to put the produce and dairy and meat, but it was not easy to find the pieces in our new tightly packed puzzle. Yet, I was not knocking my knees together, wondering how we could operate for a couple short days.

The next thing I knew was that our technician and the company we were dealing with wasn’t a great fit for my personality. Throughout the day this became more evident as the expected phone call and bid, never arrived. I still have yet to hear any real numbers as of this morning. We were told that the fix could possibly be underway quickly, even Today, possibly. Yeah, that ain’t happenin’.

So what, big deal, crap happens. This I get. I am not upset or derailed or angry over it. I do want to acknowledge the wisdom of my gut however. When a professional suggests a time, or an action that will take place, their stock drops quickly, for every minute they are late, or that phone doesn’t ring.

In our business, at The Iron, we don’t guarantee times of delivery on our menus or for the drinks and especially the food. We would be in hot water, when things get backed up and the food takes a long time. Either way, people have a reasonable expectation and need to be talked to and communicated with, about their orders. I try to do a good job of that.

My stomach-brain is so much more steady and relaxed than my flickering-twittering-strobe-flashing-hamster-wheel in my head. It is a deeper and more understanding place to operate from. I got that funny unsettled feeling in my gut yesterday, about the way this repair job will play out. Again, in the big picture, it will all be fine. Life goes on. We may pay more than we like, it may not happen as quickly as we’d like. I do trust that things will be installed correctly. I will update you, if my gut has mislead me on these truths.

Today, I only want to take the time and energy to write out the concept of noticing the wisdom of my gut. I do want to shed the physical jiggling mass of the belly around it. But I don’t want to disregard the power and depth of it’s intelligence and concrete discernment.

For the last several months all the energy went through my head, I thank God, that somehow the flow is shifting ever again, and my gut is doing some clear-headed talking.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend. Wish me luck, as we move forward, always with a challenge, but always able to rise up with the demands of it. Some how some way, by God’s almighty Will.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Duct-tape mountains and pyramids of sand

I want the ‘Once and for Always’ solutions usually, no make that… Always. Maybe it’s a man thing, maybe it’s a ‘me’ thing, but when I engage and work on a problem, I want my hard work and time invested to create such a fantastic fix, that the problem never occurs again…

Reasonable, right??

Uhh… nope.

Specifics you say?? Well, just this week I was down under the bar at our restaurant. I sawed and cut apart pipe, then glued new pieces together. I taped and threaded heavy brass chunks together, making a monstrous combination of plastic and metal. It was unorthodox plumbing work, to say the least. We had been experiencing a leak back there for a couple weeks, and I wanted to create a final and permanent solution to that problem…

I almost did. I stopped 99.9% of the water from dripping onto the floor and that is a big improvement over the mini-ponds we’d been mopping up lately… The fix for today does seem to be holding, but how ‘permanent’ can I really expect it to be? The last incarnation of this poorly designed water supply lasted almost ten years. Even ten whole years is faaaaaar from forever.

Other examples at, The Iron, include; designing a dynamic scheduling system online. I have made a snazzy Google document that anyone on the staff, can view from anywhere. I can update it from my phone or computer, wherever I may be. It is a tool that is key to the operation of our business… but it ain’t a permanent fix. In theory, I would love to just plug the names in, and leave it be. A weekly rotation that works for everyone, and keeps our place working smoooooth… Ha. I did create it with good structure, but it needs constant effort to function properly.

At my tee shirt designing job at Front Row Sports, I want the same permanent fixes to our artistic problems. I intentionally send a customer three or even four design ideas for their team or organization, because I crave this finality to all my work. I want to give them several options so that I do not have to return to square one, and start again from a blank slate, as I did before. I want to give them something, anything, that can be used to continue on and build from. Most of the time, they choose one of the ideas sent, and we finalize from there. Those are great for me.

These little examples pale in comparison to other foreverness and permanence that I notice in the world. As a kid, I was always intrigued by earlier world cultures. I loved reading Greek mythology and seeing the works of the Renaissance artists, but especially I loved picture books and stories of ancient Egypt. The pyramids and tombs, the Sphinx and all those hieroglyphics fascinated me at a very young age. Talk about permanence! Those structures are mighty and built to last. Somehow, the ideas and work and stone from thousands of years ago is available today to go and view and tour. I would like to do that myself someday.

In the presence of Prometheus and the other Bristlecone Pine trees in the White Mountains of California, I felt a profound calm. Some of those exact trees were young, when the Egyptian pyramids were young too… These beings are alive. They aren’t stone or paint on an underground wall hidden from the desert elements. They survive exposed on the peak of a rocky hillside, waay above other trees. As far as living things go, they are the most permanent single individuals we know of, on our whole planet.

We walked past in the blink of an eye to them. We, as modern Americans have visited them for just a single breath of their venerable lives. We are as transient and quick as the clouds across their high altitude sky.

Ha! Permanence is a joke, and I want it in everything. Funny huh? I beg for problems to go away, once and for all. I yearn to put things behind me, never to return to them again. I’m dying to step forward onto newer ever greener grasses and to always leave a trail of fullness and completion in my wake…

Are you laughing right now?? You should be. I should too :)

My infinitesimally microscopic existence is such a minute pinprick of a fraction of a millisecond, that almost everything I do or say or produce, will be gone instantly, as soon as I am. The world and time and the universe suffer nothing as they spin forward, onward and toward mystery. I am clutching a solidity that just has never existed.

The pyramids are tough, yes. They are big hunks of stone, but stone crumbles. The ancients left us great works of architecture and art, but we’ve got to be here to observe them to notice their significance, and maybe we won’t last forever either. Even the Bristlecone Pines, will eventually all die. There are threats to them right now, and we may watch the death of their five-thousand-year reign on top of that mountain.

Even the mountain itself, wasn’t always, always. There are fossils up there, rocks that used to be at the bottom of a great sea. Amazing that the floor of the earth can grow to the ceiling. I’m betting that if the bottom can make it to the top, then the reverse is possible still.

I can relax a little now. I’ve spent these few minutes reminding myself that not one thing that I can see is permanent. Nothing I can can create or work on, or try to fix, will be that way forever. If I know this, then maybe I can calm myself easier, as the broken record returns again and brings me a recycled old issue that I wish would just go away.

God has created me to want forever. It seems to be stitched into the core of the fabric of my being. I notice this vast contrast between the perceivable world, it’s flawed and rotten constant deconstruction, and one true absolute divinity. The creator of all is the essence of Always. The one true God could be measured as the equation that explains everything, but that equation would blow our minds to pieces, with it’s simplicity and power. Impossible-ness, exists simultaneously with the reality we experience every day in God.

I want God. It’s not even a religious thing. God is the want, I wake up to every day. I may think it’s food or money or booze or sex or health or family or kids or business or success or prestige or comfort or even love. All those pale in comparison, they are just a flash of a hologram. The inexplicable foundational truth of God, isn’t.

My subconscious watches the world deteriorate, second by quickly passing second, and it begs me to grasp ahold of the only thing that doesn’t. Maybe my ego, my spiritual idea of myself, does not want to die. It wants to see itself live on, somehow, anyhow. It cannot handle the idea that it won’t be here forever. And it won’t, in the same way that it is now.

My soul, my essence could, however return to the Creator, to the Always, and maybe have a chance to experience something beyond these wet paper walls of planet earth…

I thank the Savior of the World, Jesus the Christ, today and every day, for his gift of everlasting life to me and to you.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

No Year Resolutions

Do you remember back when I posted a blog, almost as if a demon was typing? The words were about that evil spirit’s boredom with me. I assume that my subconscious on that evening, wanted to expel some darkness. I needed to let out some frustrations and anger, probably that I had attributed to choosing sobriety a couple years ago… Well, that blog, is one that I am truly proud of.

It’s kinda insane, to write like that. It really pushed the limits of what I was willing to publish for my family and friends to read. It scared me to see it on the screen. I was scared to think, what you may have thought about it, as you read it.

That’s what made it so goooood. For me.

I have to someday, finally and fully detach into a space that allows complete expression, for this writing thing to ever produce nutritious fruits. I must get there. I cannot stay in the shallows, just prancing along the water’s edge, unwilling to fully immerse. I can of course, do that. Do it forever. I don’t think that is what I truly want though. I have to release and let go of insecurity, to become the conduit for inspired work.

‘This writing thing’ could be replaced with many different ideas however. My weekly blog is a place where I can forever stay small, keep myself contained in this tiny pond of my own pretentiousnesses. I could speak about other areas where I do this too though. My work as an ‘artist’ designing tee shirts for local kids to wear while they play baseball… This work of mine is the same way. It is art, yes, but barely. It is more of a clipart puzzle game, filled with a million fonts. That’s it. There are some people however, who may use this medium to truly express ideas. They have and will change the world, with simple ink on tee. I probably won’t though.

I can keep thinking up areas in my life where I live into caution and conservation. I probably, sickeningly, do it all over my little world. Last week, we invited Bethany Chapel  Baptist Church, to worship with us, at Westminster Presbyterian. The congregation of Bethany Chapel is the Black Church in our community. They came and showed us what true expression is all about. Between their general enthusiasm, their divine musicality and the fervent, demanding and deeply spiritual sermon of their Pastor Walker, I was truly convicted. As a whole, they worshiped their hearts out. Individually they spared no gift. Wow, is all I have to say. I was in tears many times, just watching and hearing their souls singing out.

I clapped a little, and out-of-time, but I again stay in my little comfortable box. I don’t want to really let it all go.

This is a new year. Another chance to somehow start clean and make a bunch of promises to myself, most of which I won’t keep. I see that now, more as a moment to reflect, than to project. I am at least pretty good at reflecting…

Yes, to think and to dive into darkness between my ears is something I can make big resolutions about. I will certainly follow through with them. Almost without any gain or progress to show, I will run ultra-marathons in my mind in the upcoming year. Funny how the more I use my mind to run circles, the less in-shape it actually is. Allowing these dead end thoughts and re-runs to run rampant, is the couch-potato-ness of the brain.

Maybe this blog is one more place where I exercise this sloth of mind. It’s an excuse to spew my mental diarrhea, while I claim it is contributing to the comprehensiveness of the collective consciousness… Hardly. It’s another reason to sit and do nothing, instead of something great. I type this, instead of the next great novel. Not that I want to do that either.

Nope. I forsee from Jan One, a year like most my other years. I see that I am not the center of the universe, but I am the only point in which I can play with it. I pass on so many opportunities. I walk tightly the line between cookie-cutter-consumerism as religion, and begging for personal spiritual Armageddon. I want to live out some extreme sports fantasy, and yet do it, while barely moving, hanging in a hammock in my garage in Princeton, Kansas. Ha…

Yes, No matter what takes place this year, it will be like all of the other ones. It will pivot upon my ability to let go and just dance playfully with life, or my stubborn resistance and fear of failure. I can stand along the wall and watch others take center stage. I can do it again every year, forever. If I do, I hope someday to enjoy this place more. I want to at least appreciate exponentially the ‘here-ness’ of the instant I do inhabit.

I am blessed in so many ways. I suppose it could be pure lack of appreciation that allows my mind to mistake today for just living on the sidelines. I could be right in the middle of an epic moment and never know it. I think I could try harder though. I think I have more in me, than I let out. I think that something electric is awake, even if I remain prone and still.

God has put this resignation in me for some reason. Maybe 2015 will be the year I start to find out, what that reason is.

With Love, to everyone who has given their moments to befriend me on this journey, I say God Bless You. I Love You.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Greatly Given and Thanks Again, I was one Lucky Kid

Trouble for Trumpets is an oversized elegantly illustrated children’s book I was given as a kid. Each page is chock full of beautifully detailed drawings. Of particular interest is it’s attention to the natural world and even little ‘key’ elements that explain what every plant on the page is. Trumpets are a group of peaceful happy summertime creatures, and their enemies the Grumpets aren’t. They are evil and mischievous, they want to conquer and destroy. They love dark cold wintertime.

I probably read that book a hundred times in bed at night, as a little kid. With so many tiny surprise discoveries to be made, I eventually found them all. Even a couple topless Trumpets are there, if you look real close.

Anyway, the thing this book reminds me of, are the gifts I was given as a kid. There were so many generous people around us, as we grew up. Of course our family bought presents at birthdays and Christmas, but my parents friends did it too. The ones that stick out most in my mind, are the puzzles, the brain games, the unique and even weird things that I was given.

I don’t remember as much about sports items or spider-man. I do remember though, the science experiments or books on ancient Egypt. I thought that people wanted me to explore with my mind. I thought they saw value in creativity and exploration. I thought the lack of being given everything Spiderman or all of the Transformers was kind of a blessing.

I don’t remember other kids having as much interest in National Geographic Maps that I always found in my grandparents basement. Their collection of those magazines were my ‘internet’ and ‘google’ as a kid. You could just grab a stack anywhere in the dozens of shelves worth, and travel the world.

It was christmas just yesterday. We gave some kids some toys. I loved watching their faces and seeing their excitement. It is hard to not want to just spoil the crap out of them, because I get so much joy from it.

I hope that being involved in the lives of my nephews gives them a different look at the world than what they will find prevalent in our modern culture. I hope something I do, will impact them later on in life. I am thankful for the present I got long ago, a book called Trouble for Trumpets. Someone took the time to purchase something unique and interesting for me.

In the case of my Grandparents and their massive magazine collection, it didn’t stop there. Every day-trip I remember with my Grandma, was fun, but always educational too. She wanted us to see museums and discover.

I hope something I do, out of my own interests, shows a kid the world. I hope just pointing my attention in a unique direction will shed light on something the normal world isn’t already gilding in flashing neon.

I was a lucky kid. I hope that I can help some other kid too feel lucky, and not just spoiled, even at a time like this. Like Christmas.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols