NOT your Typical Teenagers!

I can’t help but enjoy the moment and relish in sheer amazement at a job well done by our awesome staff of TEENAGERS and young adults at the restaurant… AFTER THE FACT that is…

I can’t stop myself from wanting to mentally watch the replay of our team coming together. They became a well-oiled machine and handled an absolute RUSH of hungry guests. It’s so fun to think about now… AFTER THE FACT that is…

It’s so satisfying and soothing to know that the heat of that battle has cooled. The challenge was met and conquered. The fight against the clock was furious but now it’s over, until next time…

It reminds me of my ski trips from many years ago. I never became a real pro, but after some practice, I did swoosh and slice down a couple steep runs. At the bottom I would turn around and look back up the hill. Looking up (instead of down) at that great slope, I wondered how on earth I had safely descended, with all my gear still attached, and in one piece. What a thrill!

Umm, yeah. So my point is that the exhilaration of victory, for me, comes directly AFTER the win…

And so that begs the question… What about the other side of this coin. How do I approach and begin into and commence these adventures? Am I so positively Polly-Anna and proud as I stare down an entire dining room of newly arrived guests? When I see that all of our tables have filled at once, and all l the menus have been passed out simultaneously, am I such a prancing peacock? Back on that ski mountain, at the top of those steep drops, was I a giddy schoolgirl, full of glee ready to rock and roll right down??


It would be an absolute lie and a pretty uninteresting story, if I were to exclaim that I am just some bouncing ball of bright-eyed buoyancy all the time. I can’t claim that I have even an ounce of optimism when up against a big challenge. In fact, it’s the opposite. I am maybe the worlds’ most gifted observer and foreseer of fatalistic flaws and future flub-ups!

Tonight in fact, just as the door to our dining room framed a constant stream of new faces, my mind offered up visions of pure catastrophe. I headed to the kitchen yelling aloud warnings and foreboding tales of woes to come. I wasn’t cheerleading and starting some rah-rah chant about ‘We can do it, Yes we can!” In fact, it was the opposite!

I was seeing complete meltdown imminent and barking threats right and left! Fear, tension, anxiety and instant depression banged out the too-quick rhythm of my heartbeats. Optimism?? Ha! More like the opposite. I saw all possibilities headed toward failure without a small miracle!

So there… These action-packed moments in my life, look quite different from either side of the timeline. In front of them, the inner roar of perturbation is deafening. Afterward, the velvety calm is so soothing and serene, it’s a reward all unto itself.

How do we get from there to here? How does it actually occur that the challenge is accomplished and measured as success? What can be done to create repetitious cycles of triumph instead of defeat???

Heck if I know. I haven’t begun to grasp anything reliably mechanical about winning in these situations. I can’t give any advice at all on the real reasons it all comes together. It’s so unpredictable. The variables are in constant flux. It’s probably a small miracle, and definitely nothing I can claim as my own personal achievement.

Tonight our team was magnificent. Our internal chemistry experiment yielded near perfect results. It was absolute chaos and disarray and yet I couldn’t be prouder to work shoulder-to-shoulder with our crew of young people. Their focus and execution was fantastic. At one point, when a question was yelled by one person to my left, it was instantly answered with enthusiasm by multiple voices to my right. Wow!

Way to go Team Iron. Job well done!

Until next week, find a moment to enjoy the ride. Whatever part of it you may be on at the time.


Aaron Nichols


The Curious and Quirky are Welcome HERE. A tribute to Mr. Hazell

His name is Alva, and the only Alva I’ve ever met. I think he was a school teacher, but he did brain surgery on the side. I looked him up the other day on Facebook and in probably 25 years he hasn’t changed a bit. He’s doing video production (quirky) and art projects (awesome) near Lebanon, Mo, probably among a lot of other things.

He operated on my skull when I was a teenager, while I was at a summer camp called DLA (Drury Leadership Academy). It took place in a classroom at Drury College, in Springfield, Mo, while we all sat around in a circle on the floor. I made sure each year that I signed up for whatever class he was hosting, it didn’t matter the name or the subject.

He is one of those people who can guide a young mind on incredible journeys of discovery. He woke up the rarely challenged spirit of invention and creativity in children. Most people are content to let kids be kids, but he seemed to want us to see possibilities beyond just ‘kiddery’.

I remember crafting new contraptions out of a box of discarded parts and batteries. I ‘invented’ a device for installing into bathtubs. It gave a signal when the preset water level was reached and warned if the temperature was too hot. I was probably 13 or 14. It took just a couple days. We only used  random Radio Shack junk, And it worked!… kinda.

He gave kids the confidence that they could accomplish ANYTHING. Wow! Mindblower for me!

Another time he sliced open my noggin’ and operated on it, was an exercise I’ll call Song Dissection. He took popular radio songs (which we thought was so cool!) and played them in short clips. REM had a song called Losing My Religion. He’d play – “ I thought that I heard you laughing” then we’d talk about it for a bit. Next was “I thought that I heard you sing” then “I think I thought I saw you try”.

Basically we broke down the songs, line by line. He wanted us not to just hear the music but to listen, to look closer and even comprehend the meaning behind the words. This was the first time I can remember someone encouraging me to pull back the curtain, to question the questions themselves and to not take everything just at face value.

His version of brain surgery must’ve been powerful. I’ve remembered those moments in his class often in my life. I’m sure he didn’t care if knew the real meaning of those REM songs back in the early nineties. I do think though, that he’d be glad that his operations ignited deep mental curiosities that are still burning in me today.

How much do we just intake information from the ever expanding explosion of media around us? How often do we question and probe with in-depth examination the concepts, the catch-phrases and the content pouring into our minds through TV, Radio and Internet?

I think Alva, excuse me, Mr. Hazell, would be glad to know that we don’t just constantly set our minds on cruise control. If I had that capability as a youngster, I think he helped to carve it out and toss it away. Thank God, and for that surgery, and thank Mr. Alva Hazell for making it FUN!!

Until next week my friends… Question EVERYTHING!!


Aaron Nichols

It’s a Coast-To-Coast Hissy Fit!

The country is crying right now. The wailing is shrill and coming from every direction. It seems as this election draws nearer the volume is doubling by the day. It’s loud and we can hardly hear ourselves think among all the noise. I believe though, the fact that our country is crying, is a good thing.

Just this morning, my little ‘turkey-monkey’ daughter was playing around the house and had waddled off to another room. It wasn’t long before I heard a banging crash sound. I wasn’t able right then to rush to get her. I was really wanting and hoping and so relieved to hear her cry. Her howling told me exactly what I wanted to know.

When I was young and watching our antenna TV, I remember the commercials that repeated tragic video clips of starving African toddlers. The spokesman quoted that we could adopt one of these children for just pennies a day. I remember seeing some of those kids bawling and letting loose their voices, in response to their hunger. I was more impacted though, by the sincere gaze of one small boy, who was quiet and just let the flies crawl around on his face. He wasn’t swatting them or yelling for his mother. It seemed as though, he might have given up hope…

The crying of a child indicates pain. The wailing is fear, discomfort, annoyance and a loud ear-piercing request for help! A cry tells Mom or Dad lots of important information. From the pitch and cadence, most parents know exactly what the issue is, that will soothe the fit-throwing baby.

A cry is language, in the most primitive form. A cry is positive because it announces that major bodily systems are functioning properly. The senses are working, the lungs are healthy and the kiddo wants some relief, right now!

The point of a cry, is not to simply practice the art of it. The reason we cry, is that we want things to improve. It’s an action meaning ‘we want change!’. It says that we are healthy enough to recognize the wrongings around us. It means we have hope yet, we haven’t given up, and we are trying the things we know to try.

Lots of people are more than concerned about our country and its future. I have children myself that will be living into the world that seems so incendiary right now. The good thing is that our great American citizens are raising their voices. They are saying, ‘This isn’t right’, and for all their attacking each other back and forth, it’s still a positive sign.

Beware the time when the collective voices begin to hush one-by-one. Be watchful if suddenly, there isn’t any more sound of resistance. Gather close your loved ones, if you notice that our country has gone mute, through censorship or forced restraint. If those words are too ominous, at least keep vigilant that Hope herself is tended to and nursed lovingly. If she passes away, I think we have far more to fear than either one of the next POTUS candidates.

Cry loudly my friends, but don’t stop there. Do your own part, to affect the things within your personal power, to make America Great Again. Don’t be fooled that the few on TV have much of anything to do with it.

Until next week, Take Care of Yourselves and may God Bless the U.S.A.


Aaron Nichols



Do you believe in Baby Magic??

Our baby has a magic face. Maybe your babies’ faces are too. Do you think it’s possible that every face, on every baby is supernatural?

I’ve been wondering if that could be true.

We have a baby who has one complete set of facial features, like most do. It consists of two eyes, a nose, some cheeks and mouth with tiny teeth coming in. I think it’s a cute one, but that’s nothing notable, I’m her Dad, of course I do!

Other people though, seem to have vastly varying opinions when they comment on our daughter’s appearance. People like to point out, what family resemblances they see in her little mug. Listening to the array of names that are mentioned, it makes me wonder if we are all looking at the same kid!

Is it possible that somehow she’s transforming and conjuring up completely different countenances for every person she sees?? HA! Don’t Think So!

Here is a list of just the remarks I can remember, and I am surely leaving some out!
“Oh, how cute, She looks so much like:
A Roecker Kid
A Nichols Kid
Her Mommy, Lindsay
Her Daddy, Me
Her Grandma, Linda
Her Aunt Alexis
Her Cousin Robbi
Her Dad’s cousin Megan
Her Dad’s Aunt Melissa
and even Her Mom’s Grandpa Al!

(it’s late right now, after a loooong day, I am surely leaving out a bunch of them)

Anyway, there are tons of different faces that our baby’s face seems to be a copy of. Interesting isn’t it? How can any one of these opinions be true, and still allow the others to have merit? Is her face so generic that it can look like anyone else’s? Is it somehow a perfectly designed face-puzzle that uses genetic pieces from each family in perfect alignments to look like all these other people? Or is it actually just magic??


Situations like these birth questions in my mind that completely intrigue me. So here is my insight that I’ve come up with so far…

The face of the baby is a fresh image upon our realm of existence. It’s new and therefore hasn’t had time and repetitious enough viewage to have staked an exact claim of identity for itself. It is also constantly changing and growing and yes, full of two family forests worth of DNA.

But ‘who’ the baby looks like, has so much more to do with the observer, than the lil’ tike themselves. It seems to me that there are images in the minds of the onlooker, that are being searched out of their mental catalog and are undergoing a matching process. The more the observer is familiar with a certain family member’s facial features, the more likely they are to relate the new child to them.

We tend to see things that we have already seen. We tend to observe things as a pattern of our past observances. We can powerfully overlay characteristics of which we are accustomed, onto an almost blank canvas of possibility…

Hmmm… did I stray too far there to follow??

I wonder if a new day in front of us, is just like the face of that dear little lovably bright-eyed child we see. I wonder if situations we encounter in our lives work the same way too. I wonder if the nature of life itself, has a construct embedded, in which we project outwardly onto the physical plane, the patterns and images we catalog internally in the ether of the mind.

The vast array of observers of my baby’s face, have actually created a montage of memories that correspond to Their individual consciousnesses. They’ve magically made something out of almost nothing. To a stranger, they may say, ‘Hey, nice baby ya’ got there,’ but they probably wouldn’t attach remembered emotions to that viewing. And all the time, it’s the same one JoJo face.

As much as I hate to admit it, I can look at the infant of a day born right in my lap first thing in the morning, and begin to design it instantly. I can say ‘Oh it looks like all these days I’ve had before!’ ‘Oh, it looks like another crazy day at work.’ ‘Oh great, it reminds me exactly like that one bad day, and I can’t wait to get it over with!’ I can expertly recall memories and project them into the immediateness of the Now, even when I don’t like the way they look.

I might want to be careful with that. I might want to start looking less at the way, I know they have looked in the past, and more about new possibilities that I haven’t even begun to imagine yet!

I mean really, how do we know exactly who Joella looks like. We only have us old people to compare her to. It could turn out that she looks identical to her new delicate baby sister, or her bouncing baby brother. She could match them better than everyone else! And it would stand to reason that she would.

For that though, we’ll have to wait until early May of 2017. Who knows, maybe by then, this Daddy will have learned to project more positively and prosperously into the blank canvas of our families’ future, than ever before. Let’s hope for our sake, that we all do 🙂

Until next week

See the powerfully creative self that you are and always have been, beautifully.

God Bless –

Aaron Nichols