‘Hold WHAT!’ says my tongue

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

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

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

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

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

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

So we have a dilemma.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Bless.


Aaron Nichols

Just Killin’ It!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay… Okay…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Aaron Nichols

Digging Deep into the Nightly News

So, do you want the good news, or the bad news? Do you want to hear the positive or the negative? Do you possess the restraint to handle awesome excitingness with humility? Or can you muster up the fortitude to endure the exposure to the details of a tragic tale?

I know there are times in my life, when news arrived or clarity manifested and it seemed that it could only be taken as either good or bad. It was easily black or white, no smudges of gray variations.

However, upon review, some of the bad news that arrived on my mental doorstop, was later proven to have been good, and a disguised blessing. And I’m sure the opposite was true. A story or experience that I took to as fortunate and even lucky, turned out to be not that at all…

I have met people who seem to receive all information with a smile and they can lightly brush away any hint of calamity in the air, instantly. I have met those that can notice the tiniest of harmless details and magnify them to mountainous monstrosities.

I’m usually somewhere in between. And as I’ve examined it lately, it all has to do with my attitude. In a way, it’s my own attitude that I’m usually reacting to, more than the situation at hand. Recently in fact, I’ve watched myself (weird) handle tough moments with a smile. I’ve also been aware that through overall peaceful well-being, I have burrowed myself deep into pocket of darkness.

So then a question arises about situations themselves. Do they truly exist as concrete force-fields that corral us into absolute certain reactions? Upon review, it seems that the observer has a quantum-level orchestrative power to control the momentum of almost any piece of data. You hear all the time, that some folks see God’s blessings in everything, everywhere. Some don’t seem to ever come across them.

I can be aware of this suggestion within my mind, inside of the present moment in time itself. I find though, that my skill or practice or strength at steering my own reaction is weak. Instead, a lot of times, the tidal wave of my instinctual judgment washes away any tiny squirt of detached neutrality.

Saying ‘That’s just me, just how I am,’ is a cop-out though. And I know that too. Darn.

I guess the tiniest glimpse of self-awareness disallows a truckload of victimhood. Although it would be so much easier that way… wouldn’t it? To have an enemy that we can point at ‘out-there’, takes away all our responsibility to be the change, instead of just wanting to benefit from others changing.

I found a freezer tonight, on my way out the restaurant door, that showed twenty degrees instead of zero. That was bad news. I unplugged, emptied it out, cleaned the coils and turned it back on. This was bad news, but it would have been much worse to find in the morning. I may even return to the bar tonight, to check on it.

The news cannot be identified as absolutely good or bad. It can show me however, the truth about the direction my countenance is facing. And that can be exhausting news, because the work is all mine to dig into…

Until next week, my friends take care, and God Bless.


Aaron Nichols

Make it till Morning

Sometimes I’m asked questions about living sober. It’s usually like “How long’s it been since you last had a drink?” I always answer with a smart-aleck comment about drinking all day, every day. I mean, everybody has to drink to live, right?? I drink H20 and tea and sprite and coffee and lots of other things like La Croix sparkling water!

Anyway, there is too much about this sobriety thing to type out in one short blog, and a lot of it would be predictable and sappy. Jesus himself MUST have something to do with it, I mean really, I have no ‘will-power’ of my own.

I just spent the last week consumed night and day, with the ins-n-outs of either replacing my recently broken cell phone with the same ol’ model or upgrading to something swanky and new. My personal will-power to stay on-task with my normal stuff has disappeared! Just phone searching 24-7, HA! What a joke!


Living sober sometimes sucks, especially in the evenings and after a long day of work. It’s no fun when planning a weekend away and wanting to really relax and let it all go. When in the presence of friends and family who are enjoying a stiff drink, I usually always want one too… Don’t ‘need’ it, but sure, I want it.

One thing though, that has been super-duper easy with sobriety… Absolutely amazingly simple and clear… positively powerfully and remarkable is the waking up in the morning.

Not one time in well over four years of it, have I ever, and I mean EVAR, wished that I had been drinking alcohol the night before. The tension completely lives in the anticipation, or in the present moment. While remembering the recent past, I never once have harbored a single regret about a missed opportunity for a dark blood-red thick-stemmed glass of Malbec, or a frosty mug of draft beer.

A man recently told me, that he thinks I am blessed and lucky and I should be thankful for all I have in my world. He’s certainly right. Sometimes that is easier said than done. The uphill battles we all face, can be daunting day by day.

This sobriety thing, has always been that way for me. Just today, just right now, no promises, nothing guaranteeeed. In the morning I’ll probably be satisfied, if I pass on the booze. My hindsight will tell me the absolute truth about my choices.

And you know what they say about hindsight…

Until next week, be well my friends. I love ya!


Aaron Nichols