Bringing Down the House… Literally.

Or Else!

I remember clearly sitting at Poncho’s in Ottawa, Kansas, having a lunch with Mother, when she was describing a highly charged emotional topic. We’d talked about the details of her plans and how things had better start moving forward, and how this issue was really important to her! In fact, it ended with the quote “Or Else!”

Honestly, I thought, I this was just a little overboard, and possibly kooky, since we were talking about her kitchen remodeling project… and being a guy who doesn’t particularly, care about the subtle difference between a speckled-beige or spotted-taupe colored floor tile… I said, “Or Else What?!”

I could see in this moment that my dear Mother’s world was focused intensely on this project. She had put tons of thought into what she wanted the outcome to look like. She’s had it, with 25 years looking at the same kitchen and she wanted to see something else. Something New. Something updated and fresh. A Change!

Just because I view her kitchen as a fully functioning, and nicer than mine, space that has made meals and memories for a loooong time, it’s not good enough for her anymore. Even though, to me, it’s a great kitchen in a great house, that I would be perfectly happy with, she’s not willing to not try to make it better. Even though, to me, it may be unnecessary, there is something inside all of us, that drives us to improve our worlds.

Well… I can respect that!

I can even show you, here in this blog, how I too, have had that burning, intense desire to make something change in my life… ‘OR ELSE!’

Mom’s doing a kitchen remodel. I’m doing a life remodel: Same things.

We can be in a perfectly good place, that is functioning accordingly, and has served us well for a long time… in our lives. Doesn’t mean we don’t want to see improvements. We can have what other people think, they would like to have. Doesn’t mean we won’t want to see what else we can achieve. We can be sincerely grateful for our old lives, that brought us to this point, be truly thankful, and yet demolish them, and move forward into the new.

That’s the thing about a remodel. It ain’t pretty.

You gotta tear things apart. You gotta make a mess. You gotta break and bust and destroy the things that were faithful and useful and served you well, for so many years. You have to make it all look worse, before you get to make it look better.

Funny isn’t it. Mother’s kitchen has actually looked worse through the course of the makeover, than when she started. We’ve had family gatherings standing on plywood floors. We used a sheet of plywood instead of a countertop to serve Christmas dinner. There were decisions to discuss halfway through the project that seemed to be foundational to the whole thing working out. She had started before every detail was buttoned-up, how dare her! Even now, with the new cabinets installed, the updated sink and dishwasher and countertops and flooring and lighting and other stuff that I don’t even know about; she’s missing the new tile backsplash. It’s just the ripped up sheetrock and bits of construction adhesive, that held those old ones in place so long. It doesn’t look good… yet.

Why are we willing to make something ugly, in pursuit of something prettier. If it’s the look, we’re after, that is a little confusing, right? Wouldn’t it be better to not change anything, and at least keep it looking decent, than to tear it up, spend time, energy and money, to make it look crappy? Then finally rebuild the whole thing?

I don’t know why exactly, but it is in our innate nature. We are human beings and YES, this little example of a kitchen makeover is a perfect model of the Heroes Journey. We all have something inside us, that drives us to improve. We are willing to sacrifice, and pay a price and make things look ugly, before we can overcome and return, looking and feeling better than ever. I have been on a major personal life remodeling project since right around 3 years ago. It was 3 years ago that I sat here in this same house, and agonized over the thoughts of leaving my job of 10 years at Hasty Awards. It was fine, there was nothing in particular, wrong with it. It had served me well for that whole time… yet something was just eating me alive inside… and I felt like I had to leave… Or ELSE!

After the initial rush and well wishes all around, I hit the road, and drove the western states of our America. I camped on mountains, and by the Pacific. I blogged, and shared. I cried and laughed and missed people, and became a hobo. The life remodeling project began with big applause all around… Until, it got ugly.

Yes, just like all Heroes Journey’s the changes lead to destruction, and battles and loss. The death of me. The dark night of the soul. The old ways becoming obsolete as I moved forward and chose new ways of being.

You caught me. There is still lots undone. You can criticize me. My projects are unfinished. My tiles are missing. There is raw plywood, with splinters and stains, where a nice laminate spread out before. I am rickety and temporary and slapped together and exposed. Not everything is cleaned up. I still have decisions to make. I started before I had it all figured out,  how dare me. You get to point your finger, and be right, I’m a mess. I will not rebuke that statement. But I am in a process. There is an end goal in mind. I have good help. I am working.

That I will FIGHT you on.

No One, Fights Harder Than Me. No One, Get’s Uglier, than Me. No One, Not No One, is in more awareness of the status of this project, and the work to be done, Than Me.

I got proof aplenty. I didn’t remodel my kitchen. I tore the whole damn thing to the ground. I ripped the foundation out. I dug deeper than that. I got down to bed-rock.

I will go deeper than you will go… any day, any time, guaranteed. I am proving that right now. I hear your criticism. It’s dust in my storm. I destroy and I rebuild, and it is hard. All of it is hard. All of it, has a purpose. I used to live in a straw house, with layer upon layer of the same ol stucco and paint, that was loose and flaky. It was a sham. I was too.

During the teardown, it fell quickly. The cornerstones of this new life are here now. A relationship with God: Paramount. A divinely appointed Marriage, of Commitment and Togetherness and Communication: Structural Integrity. A Sobriety, a discipline, a daily discipline, stability to maintain. There is a whirlwind of activity at all times. It sometimes involves throwing out more of the junk in my way. Releasing more of the old, that I thought was already gone. This week, it was the approval others. What will it be next week? I don’t know, but I do care.

We all are tigers who’ve been raised among sheep. We all are more powerful, than our environment shows us to be. There is something inside of you, that awakens, when I sear this screen with a scorching hot sentence. It’s the tiger, the hero, the warrior, in you.

You’ve had the thoughts, that things are okay, they’re fine, but you’re not going to take it anymore, without trying something NEW, a reinvention of your world… “Or Else!”

It is Holy Week. It is Easter. It is time to look at the Peace of Christ. What Peace? On Good Friday, the day of crucifixion, do you think there was peace in the mind of our Lord and Savior? I doubt it. There was pain and suffering and an actual demolition of body and of a frail human mind. But he shows us the utmost, the almighty, the ultimate: Resurrection. His soul, was sent to liberate us. To remodel an old system. To bring a new covenant to our world. Our world today, in our hearts. In our souls, in eternity.

It’s ugly. It’s painful. It’s the ultimate of all Hero’s Journeys. He came for You. He destroyed his life, for yours. You get the shiny new version. You don’t have to die on a cross, he did.

This is how God made us. To see beyond the ugly, to see beyond the pain and suffering, to know in our hearts that it is better to tear down the good, in order to build the great. It is not pretty… have I made that point clear yet? It is, in the end, worth every tear.

Is the makeover, the point of it all? Is the nice new countertop, and slick new sink, the purpose of this journey? It doesn’t seem to be. The knowing that we’ve begun down the road toward better, the pitfalls and the development of new skills and new muscles is satisfying enough. To see that the project is not yet done, but that we Are working on it… That is enough. To know that we didn’t give up, before we even tried. That is the point. Being on the journey is the enough. The final destination, the showroom, only gives us pause for a moment to recognize our hard work, and to share it with the world. Then it’s back into the fray. Back into a new journey, in a new game, to play hard again.

I’ve heard a criticism this week, through the grapevine. I invite you to share this post, let everyone read it. Including my critics… Make sure they read the quote below from Theodore Roosevelt… AND, please, if you’ve ever considered me a friend, or family, or someone that has meant anything in your life. Watch this movie, Finding Joe. It explains alot, about what drives me, and what drives You, to create something amazing in your own life, right now. Be your own hero. We need You to… “Or Else!”


Aaron Nichols

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

.Theodore Roosevelt

“Citizenship in a Republic,”
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

Want to Jump in on the next REAL discussion about a Remodel of our Life!

You’re invited to join the next weirdforgood hangout, and engage in our online workshop – you’ll need a free Google+ account, 45minutes to work with us, at 5:30 CST. You need a device with a camera & headset/microphone. If you can Skype, you can do this, (it’s actually really easy  ) Then email me at – before Tuesday – I’ll send you the hangout invite through Google+ when we start.

Check out all of my video workshop Hangouts here, to get a feel for it. Join us if you dare!

5 thoughts on “Bringing Down the House… Literally.

  1. Aaron – tear it down, buddy! You are only stronger because of it. The rebuilt man, the healed limb, the reconstructed life – is only stronger than before. I SO enjoyed “Finding Joe”. Watched the whole thing.

  2. Pingback: Weirdforgood Hangout – 10 – The Heroes Journey, A Life Remodeling Project | weirdforgood

  3. Pingback: Weirdforgood-010-Remodeling-Your-Life–The-Heroes-Journey | weirdforgood

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