the Title is the most important word here

I fret over them. I worry about them. I construct and crochet them. On the good days, that is. Usually, I toss them around. I let them fly. I notice halfway through that I maybe could have used them better. I feel their power, and notice their absolute weakness too. I gamble a relationship on them, sometimes I lose. I can also use them to dip someone in gold, to polish and admire. I am using them right now, to explain themselves… ironically.

This week I have experienced the power of words. I am sure you have too. This is nothing new, no fresh discovery. I noticed them though uniquely in the last few days.

I had conversations, that I wished I didn’t have to have. I am using the adage I learned from Dave Ramsey, that ‘Conflict is best served fresh.’ I guess if I erred, I did so with quickly opening up dialogue that I usually would put off, maybe to stew over, to let boil. No, this week, a couple times, I have chosen to sew together words that question, that reiterate, that make a stand. A stand not popular with the other party.

Also this week, I wrote words on screen. No, not just these, but words of encouragement and words that recommend. I did something that I remember asking my employer to do, while I was in High School. I wrote a letter of recommendation. Yes, I am getting old, when someone asks this of me. I am not the kid anymore… darn. Anyway, I wanted to do it well, for this person. I was glad I have practice typing out these words here. I remember an exact sentence from a letter written by Bill Allegre, when I was a teen. He said I had ‘business knowledge beyond my years.’ Wow, I that stuck with me. True or not, I thought it was sooo cool, that he said that about me.

What words we use to describe a person to themselves can be absolutely foundation rocking. I could get into the truths that maybe words have no power unless we let them, but in the larger experience of life, I know they do. I’m no theologian, maybe we could talk about the true source of them. We could accurately explain that inflection and context can change the entire conversation. Truly though, the word, is something so mysterious and amazing, right on the tip of our tongues, yet forever out of reach.

I misuse them alot. I waste them often. I miss opportunities to share them. I need them too. I needed them last night when I got home late, and my wife was fast asleep. I just had to interrupt her, to exchange words, and spill my guts and connect about my day. Crazy isn’t it. Nothing, not one action or physical object was adjusted in the slightest, because of talking with my wife. Everything about my world felt better though. My anxiety was calmed. My stomach untied it’s knots. I could breathe again freely. I slept sound. Before the conversation, I was abuzz with mind-garbage. Probably would’ve been mulling things over all night long…

This week, the kids are back to school and the FUNdraising has started. I say this sarcastically. I see no fun in overpaying for things I don’t need, all in the name of raising ‘money’ for a local school group. I do however LOVE the idea of actually donating right to the cause. I want all of my money to go to the kids. I don’t want Mr. Popcorn Company CEO, or Mrs. Cookie Dough CEO to get my dollars. If I want popcorn or cookie dough, I’ll just buy that stuff at regular fair pricing, thank you. I want to GIVE to these kids. I want them to take the money my family has made and use for things they need. I want them to have all of my $16 or $20 (or more), not just the small leftovers after the ‘junk’ was paid for.

I always offer to support the group. I always refuse the product. I want to make a point. (I know, I’m no fun and should just go along… Ha!) Anyways, as I did my normal routine this week of gladly accepting their invitation to donate to the group, I once again, refused the items. The severe misuse of words is apparent during these conversations, as I am usually asked to please pick an item to buy, so that they can ‘win’ their ‘contest’ to get a ‘free’ whatever…

Riiiiight! I am really disgusted with the coaches and parent leaders of these groups, who have not explained to the kiddos that a donation, in lieu of buying an item, is Better for their group. They get more money. Winning the contest, and selling the most cookie dough to get something ‘free’ is hilarious! The ‘free’ item costs that fundraising company real money. (it’s probably a cheapo version anyway) They buy it with your dollars, that you used to pay them for the overpriced dough.

Why is does this sound like such a foreign concept???? Yes, I’m ranting on this. 🙂

I detest, that the words have been misused enough that the kids believe them. I detest hearing words that advertisers have so surgically and purposely manipulated as to lull us into consumer zombie-ism! Hearing a car dealer ad on the radio is case in point. “Buy Now with No Money Down, and $500 Cash Back! Just Sign and Drive!” COME ON!!!

Pssssst…. that’s not buying…. (Buying is when you trade money for an item, before you have traded the full price, you didn’t buy it yet, if you have a loan on it, only the loan is yours… not the item!)

Come on guys and gals. Let’s notice for ourselves how powerful words can be. It overwhelms me that I am such a poor vocabulatic tactician. In fact I even make up my own words like ‘vocabulatic’, because I’m too lazy to actually expand the scope and range of words I know.

I do type out words here. Who knows what impact they have if any. I do know that my hard work and my actions to accomplish things outside of this space, are valuable right now. This may be wasted time, that I am frittering away, when I could be actually doing something else… Funny thing about this universe that God designed, my words will last on, even after I’m gone. Maybe no one will ever read them. That part isn’t up to me. These words themselves however, have only been linked together in this exact way, just this one time. Never again will this happen forever for the rest of eternity. That is quite amazing, even if my story isn’t.

I do know that John 1:1 says “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” I do believe that. 


Aaron Nichols

Inhabiting a chamber in the revolver

When people have asked lately, ‘how’s it goin’?’ I have answered that I have been doing my favorite things and been having fun doing it. I need to remind myself sometimes, of what those favorite things are.

At the restaurant we have an upcoming remodel project. We are installing a new floor in the kitchen. Along with snazzy new ceramic tile, we have a chance to re-look at the setup of the whole thing. I have focused a lot of attention on the dish washing corner. It’s a highly important piece of our food service puzzle. I did some drawing and had discussions. We talked about options and better ways to do things. Easier ways to operate and a more efficient flow have showed up in concept. Now I get to facilitate their physical creation.

Buying equipment, and actually installing some, looking over and over at the simple wire shelving and seeing how much a small change can improve things, is my favorite thing. We have more new cool features to construct. Our guests won’t see them first hand, but everything about the experience we offer, will be enhanced, when we put time, money, focus and energy into enhancing these ‘background’ fixtures…

Also at my other job this week, (as a graphic artist) I had a mountain of designs to create. With school just beginning and the coaches and teachers hitting the classrooms, it seems they all pressed ‘send’ at once, on the tee shirt requests for their teams, clubs and organizations. I saw an email over the weekend that previewed the workload ahead. Wow, a biiiiig pile of them. I took it as a personal challenge, and plowed through them, tens at a time. With so many jobs on deck, there is little time to fret and fuss with the intricate problems inherent in the ideas and artistic opinions of the customers.

Throw together some options. Use artwork I already have on hand. Grab a popular layout and redesign it for this application. Sometimes my work is better, when I don’t have time to ponder it. Funny how that ironically and predictably becomes true.

Another favorite thing this week, was arriving at the hospital to meet my new nephew for the first time. Only the third baby in our growing family, it is such a special moment to see this little person I will eventually know so well. Being there to see his first day out, is mesmerizing and magic.

Also this week, I have experienced splashes and waves of frustration. Quick anger, and eye-rolling boredom over oft-repeated problems occurring again. Along with all the cool stuff going on, I still notice plenty of darkness and shadows between the bright white spots of light. All through the week, and weeks and months, it seems this way. More darkness than light at times.

I thought about these extremes as I walked through the revolving glass door of Olathe Medical Center yesterday. I was going in, to meet a brand-spanking-new baby boy. Maybe the person behind me, wasn’t. He seemed hurried, he was a little too close as we waited for the massive turbine to slowly spit us out on the inside of the hospital. He seemed to want to pass me, and push his way in quick. As we transitioned into the hallway, he went close to my side and then, poof, gone!

I have walked through the hospital doors the same way before. I think about that entrance. It must be washed in every shade of human emotion as people exude their feelings as they pass through. It must have noticed the tears of both joy and anguish. I have passed through with wide eyed wonder about both the good and the bad.

Just like life, those doors are a gateway to all of our experience. The same doors both foreboding and wide open to freshness. My life has seemed that way this week. Both ends of the spectrum, simultaneously, congruently, consistently…

Maybe that is just normal. Maybe it’s not weird at all. Somewhere I picked up the idea that we were ‘supposed’ to experience a greater measure of the good stuff and just some little bad stuff here and there. Nah… It feels like a big load of both lately… And maybe that is just a big load of blessings and blessings in disguise. It’s a ride I get to be on. It is exactly where I am supposed to be and what is part of the bigger picture.

I hope your walk through the doors of this life, bring you the full gamut of what it means to be a human, being in this place, a spirit, among the thin veil of this ‘real’ world.


Aaron Nichols

I put a cherry bomb in my mouth…

The mild morning air and fresh sun on the garden plants, had a calm but purposeful energy. I stood in the relative quiet. The dry hay mulch crackled just slightly underfoot. I wanted to move slow, stay tired and just relax. Overall, this time outside, noticing the browning of leaves, the many little bugs, and the curled up, shriveled bumpy cucumbers feels like an ending of things. Late Summer in the garden, a peaceful death.

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My body had aches from a short night’s sleep. and general lack of fitness. My mind was still junked up, with a tough ending to the Friday night shift. I had to let go, part of team. Hard to do, wish it could’ve been different. A very full day ahead, felt daunting. I was just in my shorts and a comfy tee, almost pajamas, walking among the plants…

I just felt sort of blah, and I hadn’t even brushed my teeth yet, to start the day. I noticed a small fruit. It was orang-ey yellow. Really round, and small. A bite sized tomato.

2014-08-16 08.11.48Without thinking much, I grabbed it, rubbed it around in my hand, and popped it into my mouth.

WHOA!!! POP!! GUSH! Brightness and Acidity, a little sweet, VERY TART! Boom! Flavor! That’ll wake ya’ up! Wow, I know how vibrant a fresh garden tomato can taste. I’m no stranger to it, after the last few years of growing these things. I shouldn’t be the surprised in the least! But I was. Happily Surprised…

My dull and brown morning, was so opposite of the flash of blaze from this baby flavor grenade. It almost jerked me out of the foggy mindstate I was in. I appreciated the message, that even among this dying jungle of leaves, there is still a lot of potency left. Nothing has gone bland or tasteless yet. In fact, there is still lots of ripening left to do, before the winter comes.

My days and weeks sometimes feel like this melancholy morning moment. I can get bogged down, staring at the holes eaten by parasites to my life. I can show you the browning edges and half-broken roots, from the harshness of a Kansas summer. When thinking about my jobs or my relationships or my material ‘things’ I see that the harvest is looking slim. The varieties I’ve chosen, are low producers. They are slow producers, and I could’ve cared for them better.  I left them to fend for themselves, I didn’t nurture enough this year…

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I can show you a garden full of failure, and life full of it too, if I want to. I can show you that the spring is long gone. The midsummer was very dry. The fall is approaching fast. I wish for those more optimistic May days. Back then, the whole of possibility lie ahead. The black crumbly canvas seemed more blank and fresh. Now, it’s light brown and cracked. Bugs crawl openly, they hang underleaf. Little deep green poops are evidence of their destructive chewings…

Back in May, there was not much to eat in the garden. Maybe a snow pea pod, but nothing more, not in mine. Now there are tomatoes, a couple peppers maybe, ugly cucumbers that are probably bitter as heck. But fruit has arrived. The plants have produced. The process is further along, I could enjoy this, if I wanted to.

Rarely does my mind, want to be, where it is. It usually wants to remember back to days golden and passed. Maybe it wants to shoot ahead, to some imaginary moment, where everything is perfect, and there is no more yearning, no more hoping for difference. I want everything I have, I have everything I want. Not the material, not just the material, but everything. The spiritual, the physical, the mental and shiny toys too, with travel to anywhere and everywhere simultaneously…

I remember Wayne Dyer talking about the morning, afternoon and evening of life. How we experience the whole of our trip upon the earth in stages. I see them in the garden too. I see the early spring. The youngness, the fragility and freshness of youth. I see the weeds come in and want to infest our garden. I see the plants develop, mature, begin to flower. Now these days there is fruit on the vine. It ripens, but not just as I would like it to. I know there is a timeframe, the end is out there. These are not immortal tomatoes.

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The brightness of the flavor hit me like a blast. I woke up to the power of that tiny red ball. A cherry bomb, exploding. Do we produce like that too? Do we develop and ripen creatively in a way that explodes with our own unique flavor? I hope we do. I think of Jesus saying 
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” (Matthew 12:33) And I wonder about mine.

I guess the tomato I ate this morning, didn’t grow, to dine on itself. It probably will never know how good, or how bad or dull or vibrant, it’s own flavor is, to the one who eats it. It just grows and becomes. It doesn’t try or not try. It just tomato’s. I was the one who decided it was good. I wonder if God will decide I am?

A big question, comes from this little moment this morning. Am I producing good fruit? I hope so. Although I’d better not sit around and wonder about it too long. The seasons are progressing, time does move forward. I’d better get on with my Aaron-ing 🙂

I pray that you keep moving on with yours 🙂

Live beautifully my friends 🙂


Aaron Nichols



A beat up bum and rubber legs

When every stroke of the pedals created another raw burning abrasion to my bum, I was sure wishing for a softer place to perch my patoot! Mile after hot sweaty mile, I got closer and closer to home, but I couldn’t get there fast enough! Muscles were aching and I felt beat, what had I gotten myself into!

I decided to take a bike ride on Tuesday. I had a rare day off mid-week, and I wanted to do something fun outdoors. Recently Lindsay and I had ridden our bikes to Ottawa and back, and after a flat tire ruined the end of that fun, I was wanting to get back on the steel (pedal) horse again soon.

Several years ago, in my later twenties I took up cycling as a way to get more fit. Back then I rode a lot. I bought some sweet gear and spun many miles on my bikes. Now, I rarely ride, but when I do, I have nice equipment to play with.

Tuesday I wanted to ride the Flint Hills Trail, East from Ottawa to Rantoul. So I set out northbound from Princeton around 10:45 in the morning. I made it Ottawa with a steady pace, and proceeded down 7th street to embark on a new, but very local adventure. I was thinking to myself about my early days of riding bikes. I was noticing the clean shifting and smooth ride of my Jamis Nova, Cyclocross bike. It is just perfect for these chip-gravel trails. I was commenting to myself about learning to appreciate these human-powered machines.

2014-07-29 10.50.42I have never ridden a very high-end expensive bike. I have an older Schwinn road bike, that is classic and cool. I have a scratched-up, but trusty Trek mountain bike too. I remembered how I had started out on a Wal-Mart-Special mountain bike. It was heavy, it had psuedo-sloppy-suspension and I wore out the crank assembly after only 500 miles… It was a gift to help me get in better shape, and it did 🙂 It also was a great way to start my adult bicycling hobby.

These bikes I have now, are a step up. The components are higher quality, they perform much better, they will last a long time. For as much as I ride now, they may last forever 🙂

I remember getting that first bike, and something I wanted was a ‘nicer’ cushion-y seat. I probably bought one and installed it. Along with any other gadgets I could find on those back shelves in the corner of the Wal-Mart store. It seems that being a beginner biker, a lot of people want to have a more comfortable seat on the bike.

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Funny thing about my current bikes, even though they are more advanced bikes, meant for real riding, and lots of time in the saddle, the seats are not very well cushioned. In fact, they are slender and smallish. The seats on my ‘nice’ bikes, just aren’t really that… well… nice.

Years ago, I began to see that most of the ‘real’ bike riders didn’t have big cushion-y seats on their bikes either. The more ‘serious’ the cyclist,  it seemed, the more slight the seat. Along with a smaller frame, the lighter wheels, the condensed gearing components, and a much bigger price tag too. The more you pay, the less you get, weight wise that is.

Once a person has more experience with riding a bicycle longer distances, you start to learn the more proper ways to mount the thing. You learn about the ‘sit-bones’. You learn that there are these two very tough, very hard bone ends that you use, instead your flabby butt, to sit on. With regular and enthusiastic time in the saddle, you learn that a small seat is actually comfortable, and it doesn’t need a bunch of padding to be so.

So, toward the end of my 36ish mile round-trip ride on Tuesday, I was whining and wishing again for that big padded couch sized pillow, that I had bought long ago. I was wanting the comfort instead of the performance version. I was hurting, and so I took breaks.

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See, as an amateur pedal biker, and as a now, out-of-shape rider, I look to the seat to solve my problems. I look to the options I could go and buy to make my experience more comfortable. I want to think of ways to instantly transform a painful situation into a soothing one. I think the problem is the seat itself. My butt hurts, it is on the seat; must be a bad seat…

Ummmm WRONG!!

Actually the problem isn’t out there, on some object or situation to do with the bike. The problem is in here, it is with me, myself and I. The problem is that my ass, is out of practice. It has gotten tender from lack of use. If I don’t exercise on my bicycle regularly, I lose the stamina, the strength and toughness of tush, it takes to ride comfortably 36ish miles through Franklin County.

As much as I wish I could blame something outside of myself for causing my discomfort, the spikes of pain originate within my being, not within the seat of the bike. My discomfort is coming from within, and the ability to extinguish the pain is within me too. When I decide that I want to improve myself, and I want to master this thing, I will again spend several days a week, astride the bike. I will invest more energy, doing the thing that creates the pain, and through that process will toughen up and enjoy it more again.

I have never been a big fan of exercise, or routine, or being some fitness freak. My personal relationship with my body’s health is one of complacent avoidance until a streakish stretch of focus gets me closer to where I want to be. Then I let it go again.

I have the answers to making this all easier. I have the equipment to do it. Within myself is the only place worth investing my energy pointing fingers of blame. That is a painful notion in and of itself. Calling the seat the problem, is soo much easier. Then I get to rest on my excuses about the cost of the seat, or not having extra money, or why didn’t they install a more comfortable seat in the first place. I could talk all day about the reasons I am experiencing a pain in my butt. I could expend all those words and never speak the truth that the problem is me.

Something else I considered on my dusty Tuesday ride, is about other bikers. (Mistakenly, I do compare myself others too often.) I wondered about those guys out there, who are in wonderful health. Like two studs we met on the Rail Trail last week. They were riding from Garnett to Topeka, wow. Also there are some local guys who pedal every day from Ottawa to Garnett and back. More than I can easily do. To me, they are masters of this cycling thing… I am not.

I wonder about Happiness. I tend to connect Mastery with Happiness. If only I could be in optimal health, then I could be Happy. Or if I could create a super abundant income, that would do it. Or even, if my spiritual connection to God, was crystal clear, surely I would then, finally, be as Happy as possible…

I’m back again to the ‘ol seat analogy… If something I’m connected to would change, then I could be more comfortable…

Nope. I think that between the steel-legged stud cyclist, or the flabby amateur, the one who is Happy, is truly: The one who decides to be…

And I am the only one who can make that decision for me.


Aaron Nichols

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Although I found it hard to smile after my Tuesday ride, I do recommend our local Prairie Spirt Trail (north-south) and also the Flint Hills Trail (east-west), we are really lucky to have such quick access to safe and scenic pedaling.

Also, just FYI, I do own some padded shorts, and am aware of the benefits of Monkey Butt creme. There are ways to ease some comfort of bike riding, I chose to leave them out of this analogy, to keep it more concise 🙂