Where I Went Wrong with Sobriety

Ha! I couldn’t have made a sillier or more massive mistake! I only purposely rerouted my lifepath based on complete falsity! This weekend will mark 5 long years since I last felt the sting of hangover or the snazzy exhileration of a red-wine buzzzzzzz…. But truly, I screwed up with this sobriety thing!

I think I have mentioned here on this blog, the events that led me to cease habitually drinking alcohol way back when I was only 32. Although I do share extensively my inner feelings and probably too personal information, I have already typed about it enough… right?

I don’t want to waste more of your precious time going over the same ol’ stuff, but there is a Big, and I mean BIG misstep that I’ve made with regards to giving up drinking, and I might as well post it here for the world to laugh and mock at! I mean there are around 20 of you die-hard blog readers here who might get a kick out of it, who knows 🙂

Anyway, I remember that loooong Saturday morning and excruciating afternoon of October 1st 2011. It was my last hangover,  and it seemed like just yesterday.

Waking up late in the morning, maybe like 11:00, I was physically and emotionally drained. I had a few too many drinks, several laughs and  one real good conversation the night before,  but something was wrongly different with me that day. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had just sadly repeated myself again for the umpteenth time. I once again, set out to just have fun with friends and ended up blackout drunk.

It didnt’ help that I was in between jobs at that time. I was claiming to be starting a couple different businesses. I clung to day-dreams while I sat and waited for some magic to happen. I wasn’t moving forward in nearly the ways I wanted to be, and ultimately wasn’t willing to really work for. I felt like a failure as a person, and that Saturday afternoon, wadded up on the couch in a heap, I probably looked like one too…

My twisted and recovering mind was stuck on a looped repeat of how awful of a human being I was. Everything about that day was dark and sick and bloodshot…


Until a fresh thought surprisingly cut through the thick puke-green fog in my mind.

“God can only use me if I’m Sober”

That sentence threw open the blinds, blasting away the darkness of  my mind, body and soul, washing me in 4 o clock afternoon sunlight. The tone was vibrant and unapologetic. The delivery came without a finger shaking loosely pointed right betwixt my eyes. In fact, there was no judgement toward me at all.  It came across, simply, boldly and matter of fact. It was just perfect wording and a perfect message to make me question if this might be my moment to drop away this crutch I’d used so long…


It must’ve worked.


It had to be divine intervention.




This is the big mistake that I’ve been leading you along to hear. This major flashing signpost in my life, that I used to make a complete U-Turn and quit drinking over, was FICTION!!!

I may have written that sentence here before. You may have seen the silly-ness in it before I did. You may already know what I’m about to explain next, but anyway!

‘God can only use me… If I’m Sober?’

What a joke!

  • God needs me to get sober, in order to be somehow allowed to use me? Heck NO!
  • Since I hadn’t been sober in a long time, then God had never used me? Heck NO!
  • If I got sober, then automatically that would require God to enlist me on some Godly mission? Heck NO!


I think the sentiment that God did provide me that day, was that I would be more comfortable and self confident and relaxed with myself, (eventually) if I let go of this drinking habit that had become an ugly Halloween mask, I called my persona. God knew that I would insinuate within this message, that God would use me more for Good, than for Bad, if I was sober instead of inebriated. God sent the message I really needed, just as I needed to hear it, at the exact right moment, just for me…

But it really doesn’t hold water now…

God is always using us. There is no way that we aren’t always part of the bigger choreography of creation. Everything we are doing, or not doing or pretending and procrastinating upon is part of God’s plan. I am sure that every drunken night I ever spent in my life, God was using me for something.

There is no limit on God, and we’ll never see all the extended ripples and effects of our lives, but they do occur. I was an absolute poster-boy perfect example of  the tragedies that alcohol can create, for so many people to see. Back then I was constantly on display, being used by God, to show why they call it being wasted and trashed.

God didn’t need me to be sober. I needed me to be sober. I was the one using God, as my excuse to try it. I’m lucky so far that God doesn’t seem to mind that too much.

It’s pretty clear that specific things have improved for me since I decided to give this sobriety thing a shot. Although the struggles never seem to cease, I don’t have to wake up hungover wondering what I did last night to compound or extend them out further into my future. I am no saint, and never will be, but releasing the regular and repetitive action of drinking to fix my problems, is a start.

I have been asked if it will last forever. I truly don’t know, or even try to think about that. Like waaay back when I first started, I just try to do today, without it.

It’s possible that I’m becoming more comfortable with myself as a sober being. I didn’t always see the falsities in this one sentence that changed my life. It’s good though, to keep learning new ways to look at things. It’s reassuring that the longer I stay on this path the better it gets. I like feeling that upward spiral circling back around to the places we already have been, but on a slightly different trajectory, a better one. 🙂

Until next week, be well my friends, Do for you, what You need You do to, in love.

And if you would like any reassurance, God and I do, Love You.


Aaron Nichols

A Dirty Dictionary Definition

Designed through methods we may never understand…

The scattered chaos and grimy lather of our striving to just make it through the danged day…

Is dotted by vanishing glimpses at joy and yes maybe hope…

Almost microscopic and instantaneously they take flight as soon as noticed…

Then back again into strenuosity, into tension and fear…

But The Designer Knows…

It’s all about the definition,

The one the Devil stole and keeps hidden, while a shinier and attractive one was left in its place…

That phony definition causes a world full of problems…

It’s the sweat, tears and the fight too. It’s the exhaustion of the mundane battle to stay barely on our own winding and ever-looping washboarded beaten path. It’s an occasional simple smile and a fleeting hint that the slightest difference was made…

It’s these daily opportunities to engage in torment again, to be gripped and to do some gripping ourselves at the edge of the ether of the advancing Now.

The true definition of Perfection, comes clothed in rags, it’s humble and plain. It doesn’t feel special or exhilarating. The true definition of Perfection is exactly unlike our imaginary picture of it.

And somehow, someway, I hope I can remember after this moment that the small still voice whispered it to me tonight…

Until next week my friends, notice another truer version of Perfection everywhere you look.


Aaron Nichols

What’s the Difference!!

Being able to identify the difference, the contrast, the uniqueness is important to finding the email you want, among thousands. If your inbox is like mine at home or at work, there are legions of messages and they seem to multiply by the millisecond. It’s important to know the fastest way to retrieve the ones you want, unless you want to spend your day scrolling. I think of this fact often while working at my graphic design desk.

Throughout my day I need to refer to the artwork requests that my customers have made in their emails. I need to pull up specific notes among thousands. I greatly helps to find unique search terms. An email consists of three basic parts; the subject, the body and the return address. Say my customer’s name is John Smith and the subject is Tee Shirt Order and the body says something about Shirt, these generic words don’t help me much. I will pull up everything with a John or all the Smiths or every message with Tee and Shirt in it, which is like all of them!

I have to find something singularly particular and exclusive to this one message or person. I need a school name and sport or I need their actual email address spelled correctly. Basically, I want to focus on only on the things that are different about this one message. That’s the helpful clue to finding a needle in a haystack.

I can remember a time in my teenage life, when sameness is all I desired. I wanted to blend in and be just like (a mythical) ‘everyone else’. I had the idea that I should not stand out, but be indistinguishable. A carbon copy of the in-crowd, sounded like heaven to me.

Oh, back then all I could see of myself was the ugly differences in my body, in my abilities, accomplishments and pretty much everything else. I did go through a time when I was sick and couldn’t participate in sports and middle school stuff. I’m not real sure I would have anyway. I would have been too self conscious to really try… You know, because of my differences and all…

So here we are, many years later, many experiences accrued since then. Life evolves in front of the windshield screen of our eyes. I see differently now in some ways. It is our differences themselves that are the most important and special and valuable to us. Being like everyone else is deplorable actually. A grey world, a boring medium brown-grey and without a speck of bright color, sounds ugly to me.

In my position as a manger of a business I can see now more than ever, that it’s the differences that make our restaurant special. Our people are not just like everyone else, when it comes to our Team and our Guests. They are wonderfully uncommon and unique and awesome. I can see better now, that investing time to slow down and find out about individualities is our number one job.

As big or as small as our projects are, it all comes down to identifying the spark of color, among the dimly lit mass of mundanity. This blog space is a place, not to write, but to revisit and give opportunity to my own unique inner voice. These sentences would have terrified the teenage me.

Sometimes I still see people or things around me and want to copycat or emulate. It’s wasted energy though. I can though open up to my own spiritual wisdom, allowing guidance by God not the world. I can’t forget that I was made unique, purposefully not to be just like the rest of His children. Why else would He have bothered?

Enjoy today, the things that make YOU, only YOU, and Me only Me and even (a-hem) those tough to love, those tough to love.

Until next week my friends, be well and be YOU!


Aaron Nichols

Devastating news about my Daughter

My daughter is a crappy walker. I guess she’s trying to learn how to do it right, but c’mon. She can take several wobbly steps in a row, but she crashes all the time! Geez! Little things in the way, CRASH. Quick change of direction, CRASH. Trying to walk while carrying her pink blankie, step on the blankie, CRASH. I don’t know if she’s better at walking or piling herself up on the floor in a heap!

She started stepping independently almost two weeks ago. Now, she’s moving quick enough that she’s colliding into household objects out of my reach. Her cutie face has new red marks all the time, from the bashing it takes. Yesterday it was the vacuum and its attachments that caught her fall. Today already, the rough edge of a cardboard box scraped a new geometric design on her cheek. Who knows what she will fall into while I’m sitting here typing on the computer!

Have I made it clear that my kid has failed a lot, at this new skill she’s learning called walking?

It appears to me that if she was measuring her progress, at how much she’s failing, she might as well give up already!! Why wouldn’t she do that, I mean falling hurts. She could cause real damage to herself or to our floor full of pots and pans. This crashing thing may be too big to overcome and if she gave up now she could save herself a lot of bumps and bruises!

Crawling is just so much safer. Crawling is a sturdy and secure way to get around. Crawling is almost as good as walking, but without all the danger. I’m wondering why she can’t see all the benefits of the Conservative Crawlers Movement, becoming popular among children her age.

“Why Walk!” Is a great slogan!

I see the onesies printed with ‘Why Walk’ all around and being posted online by intellectual babies who have put real thought into their own well-being. When we crawl we’re cute and someone will pick us up if needed. It’s nice to be picked up and held. Those wobbly walkers don’t get nearly as much cuddling as a cute crawler. Their independence is arrogant and a rude way to treat those who’ve raised you this far, just running away, like a game of chase all the time.

There is so much wrong with walking, yet my daughter seems determined to do it anyway! Ugh!

I’m glad I’m not like her. When I fall down and fail, I really study it. I stew and ponder each moment of the whole event. I sometimes spend days or weeks mulling over a single failure that I’ve committed. Yup, I’m not like her at all. She seems to not even care that she crashed hard to the floor! She just gets right back up tries to walk again. Duh! You’re going to fall again I think to myself, and sure enough, down she goes for the hundredth time today.

I’m so much more mature and prudent than her, since I’m 36 years older. She should ask me how to deal with her failures, I could set her straight. I could tell her, that she needs to start mentally collecting them, and adding them together. If she could just inventory and categorize these crashes she could see patterns so that she could be sure to know that it will only happen again if she keeps trying. This would make her so much more educated than the other babies like her, who just keep trying and keep falling down, over and over and over again.

Yeah, someday hopefully when she can start to talk, I can converse with her about all the ways that she can avoid falling in life. I could tell her how to never feel any impact at all. She could stay away from banging against anything whatsoever. If I could just teach her, to never try, then she would see that she could never fail! How wonderful that would be!

Until I can really get that implanted into her personality, I guess she will probably continue on like this. Poor girl. I can’t believe it, but she seems to not even be fazed by the constant slip ups and smack downs. She does it at home, and in front of people in public. She has little falls and big wipeouts and everything in between, but she doesn’t seem to have the capacity for embarrassment. I hope that virtue grows soon, so it teaches her how wrong it is to look silly in front of others. Honestly, it almost looks like she doesn’t give a CRAP what other people think! OMG! LOL!

Well, it’s obvious that I have a lot to teach this little toddler about life. I’d better get to it. She is playing in the background and been racing 100 miles an hour. It’s like she never stops. She just goes and goes, almost relentlessly at pure play! It’s weird I know, but it appears that with her playing all the time, she’s improving by little tiny increments at everything she does. She’s not taking it seriously though, she’s all sillyness and squeals of laughter with her constantly experimenting behavior. It’s so childish!

Also, she tries to make everything a toy! It doesn’t matter what it is. She’s ‘reading’ books that she doesn’t know the word to. She ‘cooks’ with plastic blocks in a mixing bowl. She even makes a jungle gym out of the legs of our barstools. This girl has it all wrong. It’s like she’s having FUN all the time, no matter what!

I’m sorry to have to tell you this devastating news about my JoJo. Hopefully someday she will ‘grow up’ and be more like us adults with our safe and calculated cyclical repetitions. That’s the kind of life we can be proud of, day after day after day after day after day after day.

Please pray for me and my family. We will need that kind of help to get through this. Sometimes, when I watch her, being so rambunctious and carefree I’m tempted to act the same way! I hope to hold my ground, continuing to mull over all my past mistakes and not forgetting a one of them. It’s hard though. Joella’s spirit of adventure is really contagious. Please, please do what you can to learn from her frivolous follies today.

With all the (wink-wink) sincerity I can muster today 🙂 Crash yourself into a fantastic weekend!

Sincerely (really though)

-Daddy and JoJo

I want “I can’t.”

A strong feeling overwhelms me every time I speak with the phone system of a mega-corporation. I am filled with emotion listening to detailed instructions from a computer voice that finally maybe leads to a real person’s voice which hardly helps my situation at all! It takes a lot of effort not to exclaim aloud into the microphone this intensity!

JEALOUSY is coursing through my being when I deal with situations like this!

Is that what you thought I was going to say?

Yes! I am admitting that I sometimes feel envious of a Pepsi Co or Budweiser or Verizon when I am dealing with them in my work or personal life. Usually the only time I need to talk with them on a phone is when there is a problem. I am dumbfounded and flabbergasted at the minuscule amount of help that a gigantic operation like theirs can provide. I only have to call when I have an unusual situation that may require a little flexibility on their part. I find that I am more often than not, stuck without a way to accomplish what I would like, when they tell me that magic word.

“No” seems to be the way in which my requests are responded to. Or maybe “We Can’t”, or “That isn’t an option” or even my favorite “We could have an hour ago, but now it will be another week.” WHAT?!?

This is the thing that I find my green jealousy centered around. This uncanny knack for saying NO to a ‘valued customer.’

See, I have never been a corporate guy. I have worked in some decently sized companies, but in each case, I was personally working for the original owners… in person, in the same building. I have never worked on a campus or been part of a team that was in a division of a region within a larger incorporated structure. The rigidness of the big boys is totally foreign to me.

It almost seems, that the bigger the company, the better they are at telling me (their customer) No. Interesting isn’t it?

I’m probably not really jealous, but at least bothered by the fact that we aren’t getting the full truth when we run into the words No or I can’t. We aren’t being honored as a customer or even as a human being with the courtesy of the actual answer to the question.

In my small business background, working in small town America, when someone asks me a question or makes a request, I am rarely going to give a Pepsi Co style response. Looking a person in the eye, and asking them for something, can be intimate in a way. They want something from you, and you have to Decide whether or not you will make their request happen.

I can spend time unpacking my reasons. I can express a verbal essay about why I would or wouldn’t attempt to help in this specific situation. Truly though, if I simply say “I can’t”, I am telling a fib.

Being on both sides of this coin, I know that there is another response we all are aware of, and it goes something like this:

If I wanted to badly enough, If I gave it my 100% focus and attention, If I committed myself completely to this task making any sacrifice necessary, I could accomplish dang-near ANYTHING!

We know this to be true about ourselves. We know this to be true about others. We know that if Pepsi Co really wanted to deliver me a single 3 gallon box of Tropicana Pink Lemonade by tomorrow, they could ABSOLUTELY do it! They have the lemonade, they have the trucks and they have my address… So really, the truth is that they don’t want to do it. Or the computer program that shows them how to be profitable says it isn’t, and they’re following that. Yes, it is my fault that I forgot to order it, I made a mistake. However, if they really wanted to help me out they could…

So go ahead, call my number, text or send a facebook message or email to me. Ask me anything. Force my hand and make a request, simple or complex, you pick. I will see if I can be like the corporate giants and save time by saying a simple NO. Someday though, I hope to hone those response skills.  I might calmly and rationally express without guilt or shame or fear of your opinions, that I am choosing to decline. In fact, I have decided to commit my time, energy or money to other things instead.

A few years ago, one wise person showed me the truth that I was lying to myself and to them, when I said ‘I can’t’. It was sort of devastating in the moment to realize that I had the power of yes, but wasn’t willing to step out of my comfort zone. I had the capacity, but not the gumption. I didn’t want to try as hard as I really could. And my way around those embarrassing choices was to say ‘I can’t.’

I don’t know if there are people who listen in to the phone conversations that I have had with the representatives from those big companies. If there are, I wonder if they feel that same twinge of regret when the answer comes down to ‘We can’t do that.’

I guess it’s sarcasm or me just going for the corny surprise-factor, to say I’m jealous of those entities who say ‘I can’t.’ I am glad that I don’t hide behind it day in and day out. I do know that it is an art form to construct and maintain your own personal boundaries. I have a lot to learn about that. I can’t always be out to please everyone, with a YES! smiling while over-promising and then sad-facedly under-delivering.

Knowing our own commitments so deeply that we choose, act and produce instantaneously is surely a high form of self-love and respect. You can see plainly that I am still working on this concept for myself, even with typing out these words, at 1:23am early on Friday morning. My commitments vary and flex and fall off and falter. So there, I am just as small and human and broken as anyone, and I guess it would be a lie to myself to say that ‘I can’t’ do anything about that.

Until next week, fortify your boundaries my friend. Defend them with your life. In short, just Choose, and don’t use those two cuss words… “I Can’t”


Aaron Nichols