Tag Archives: blog

Coffee and Christmas Lights

I’m not sure where this blog post will end up, but it will cover coffee and Christmas lights. The idea for this post comes from the book Coffee: Philosophy for Everyone: Grounds for Debate, which I recently finished. I loved the book! It got me thinking about lots of things, but mostly coffee.

I proposed to my wife at the local coffee shop, The Blue Moon. We even had wedding photos taken there. I helped create their signature drink, The Silken Moon. 

It is past 9 o’clock in the evening and I have a cup of coffee next to me and the Christmas lights on. I’m drinking a holiday flavored coffee. The cinnamon mixed with the warmth of the coffee fills my soul. The Christmas lights make me smile.

The house is quiet. The coffee cup has a tangible weight to it, like the serenity of the darkness at the edge of the colored lights. I know I am here. I know the world is moving outside the house. There are moments happening right now that are breaking people’s spirits. I hate knowing that. It is sad to feel helpless to change it.

But I am here.

I take a strong sip, the coffee flows down my throat in a warm wave. A blue Christmas light is flickering, but staying lit. And I am doing what I love to do, writing. Creating a moment through words to share with loved ones and strangers. I may never change the world, but I can create a moment that helps build up someone instead of tearing them down.

I can share a symbolic cup of coffee with you. Share a moment of peace that shines like a Christmas tree. This post will be a connection between us, even if it is for just a few minutes. I hope it warms your heart.

My cup is empty, the hour is late, here is to a new day and a chance to feel loved.

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An Open Letter to a Dream

My intentions were to write a scathing, angry letter to you. To address all the failures and heartache this dream of being a writer has caused me. I wanted to tell you about the sinking feeling I get when I read another rejection email. How my stomach becomes a rock that pulls my confidence down into a dark hole. Even the edges of my vision go grey like an Instagram filter.

I wanted to ask what the purpose is for having this dream. I have been writing since the fifth grade. My personal blog, It is all Connected, has over 100,000 words. My creative blog, Creative Corner, has 187 posts, most of them poems. I participate in the Twitter very short story (#vss365) community. I have self published five books.

For what?

If I stopped writing, nobody would care. 

But I have this dream of being a writer. That when someone says my name, they mean poet. I have this dream of someone recommending my book to a friend. That a poem I wrote is someone’s favorite poem. 

But instead of an emotional letter, I am caught again in the tangles of writing. I feel the joy of articulating my thoughts onto paper. The power of creating an emotion or thought through words for the reader. I am looking forward to creating the blog post for this letter. I will create a cool title banner for this. Maybe find a video to end with…

But what you have done is light a fire in my soul. I am thankful for this dream. Even with the frustrations and rejection emails I will experience in the future. I have this dream of being a writer, even though I know deep down that the dream has already come true. These words prove it.

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An Open Letter to the Pandemic

Dear Pandemic,

I got it. I cry uncle. You win. Whatever it takes for you to leave, I’m ready to do.

I’m not sure you understand the destruction you have caused. You have killed us, divided us, and have brought us to the verge of total chaos. You win. I’m done.

I don’t know why you appeared. Was it to teach us a lesson about the butterfly effect? I already blogged about that in 2012 (“The Butterfly Effect”) in a more positive light.

Maybe you just wanted to stir things up. To teach us a lesson. The lesson I gained was that we need each other more than we will admit. You took everything that brings us together away, concerts, sporting events, weddings, birthday parties, and even simply eating out. At the moment we as a nation may be the most divided we have ever been. There are so many lines drawn in our culture. If you wanted to see us fall, I fear you might achieve that.

Why? Why are you here?

I will admit that personally, you have forced me to reevaluate some things. There have been some positive effects from you being here. I wrote a book, April 2020. The whole family plays tennis now.  We have some new recipes for dinner (also a few that we won’t make again). I do appreciate the time and the people in my life.  But the negative outweigh the positive.

There is an underlying current of fear and anger that perpetuates our everyday existence. There is a sense of mistrust of everyone. That connection of energy from a smile or laugh is gone. Not knowing if someone is positive with COVID weighs down every interaction. The list goes on for us as a country and my personally. You have had an effect on every single person in this world.

Is that the lesson? By taking away our connections, even the simplest gestures of a smile, you are showing us that we are all connected?

If so, this is the toughest lesson I have ever had to learn… I hope we all pass this test, together.

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100,000 Words

It Is All Connected. My little corner of the internet where I have spent seven years writing about life. I hope I have inspired readers, made them laugh, and maybe think about things at a deeper level. In a few lines I will hit a crazy milestone; 100,000 words on just this blog. (I do have two other blogs.) I know it is cheesy, but I wanted a certain word to be that 100,000 word, while also reminiscing about my writing journey. I have about ten words to that milestone, the word is…

WHY

There it is.

I considered lots of words to be the milestone word. Words that reflect what I believe, what I do, who I am. But, in the end, the word WHY reflects a central idea to my life. Answering the question, understanding my reasons for doing things has given me a clear, yet still difficult, path to follow in my career, family, and personal life. Now that I have passed that milestone, let’s look back and discuss WHY I write.

This blog has been an adventure. 2012 was the second year of this blog and the highest word count: 21,183, yet only one like for the whole year. Last year, 2019, was the highest year for likes: 281. In one way, not very impressive. I only have just over 8,000 views total for my blog. In our social media culture this means I am an unknown. Yet, I know that people have read my posts.

  • There are 105 different countries that have read my blog.
  • For the last 5 years someone has read a post I have written every single day.
  • Over a thousand times, someone has found my blog because of a search engine result.
  • My “National Honor Society Speech” is the single most read blog post.

So, why do I write? 

First, I just have to. Writing is the lens I see the world through, especially my poetry. (You can read all my poems I wrote for the Poetry Month Challenge at my creative writing blog.) I have notebooks filled with poems. I understand the pain and joy of this world through the written word.

Which then brings me to the second reason I write, to connect with people. Every writer wants to know that someone has enjoyed their works. It means that a part of the writer has made an impact with another person in this world. That is a powerful thing. I hope my works have inspired, moved, enlightened others. Simple as that.

The final reason is that writing, creating, is fun. I love the process of creating a blog post. Creating a header, finding a video, deciding on the layout. It brings me joy, even when I write about the hardships of this life.

Here is to the next 100,000 words. And thank you, to you reader. Whether this is the first post you have read, or the hundreth, I am glad we could connect.

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One Word 2020

New Year, new word…

But I will get to that in a moment. First, I do have some resolutions this year and I am going to share them in this post. My plan is to update my progress on my resolutions through a blog post each month. It is a way to be held accountable for my goals. SO, here are my resolutions.

  • Weigh 200 pounds by Dec 31, 2020. Current weight: 221.
  • Have an average screen time of just two hours a day. Current average is 4.5 hours a day.
  • Read sixty books in 2020.
  • Write the blog that takes me over 100,000 words posted on my main blog, It is all Connected. Current word count: 93332 (And I have a plan for the 100,000 word…).
  • Publish my poetry book, These Words Believe in Ghosts
  • Publish one of my fiction books that I have in drafts.

As the year progresses, I will keep you updated.

So, it is time for my one word for the year…

I really struggled finding the right word for my vision for this year. Even this word doesn’t “click” as a perfect fit, but it will work. The simple idea is to have experiences that leave me and others saying, “That was cool!” Simple enough.

Thank you for reading in 2019. I look forward to sharing more posts with you in 2020… and maybe even hearing from you in the comment section how cool the post was. Happy New Year!

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L is for

The L in L.I.F.E. stands for love.

And I mean all aspects of love; romantic, sibling, friendship, and humanity. I have written about the power of love before (Why Love Series), but this post is centered on three ideas that make love a foundation to a great life.

  • First, love is action.
  • Second, love is showing a person that their life matters to you.
  • Finally, love is a choice.

All three work together to create a powerful life. Before I dive into the aspects I just mentioned, I want you to know that I also know that there is a magical aspect to love, an unexplainable power that no blog post can express. There is an emotional aspect of love, a crazy stirring in our hearts when we gaze into the eyes of our partner. Or a joyful pain in our chest when our children hug us. But the power of love is not just in those magical moments. Love is a factor in our lives when we choose to act so that another person knows they matter.

Action is important. Yes, saying that you love someone is important but love is expressed through action. A date night. Playing My Little Pony on the living room floor. Taking a walk. Watching a movie (without a phone). Dancing in the kitchen. All relationships need action to grow. This is the most powerful way you show someone they matter to you; spend time together.

Action isn’t the only way that you can show someone you care about them… how you talk is important, too. How you talk to a person and how you talk about them with other people makes a difference in the relationship. I’m learning that how you talk about a person to others is a factor that builds or destroys a relationship over time. A powerful factor. If you tear down a person to others, if you bring up all their faults, just vent to others, that negativity will filter into your view of that person. You’ll soon find that negativity move into the way you talk in the relationship. That’s not love.

We are not perfect. We all have flaws. We all are works in progress. Our words either build or destroy people. That includes text or social media. The way you speak shows people how much they matter to you. Your words are one example of how we choose to love.

The most important factor is to be honest about how much of love is a choice. You decide to open your heart. You decide to be respectful. You decide if you are going to love someone. There is an emotional aspect to love, but those emotions can be generated by the actions you take. It doesn’t matter what type of love or relationship it is.

Want your relationship with your partner to be more romantic? Do something to generate those emotions, like buy flowers, or dance in the kitchen. Want to have a better relationship with a friend? Do something. Send them a handwritten note or go out for coffee.

It sounds simple because it is. Love is choosing to act in a loving way to the people who matter to you. And that is part of a great life of a great relationships.

Below are a few media recommendations that correlate with this blog post.

Books

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom is a must read for so many different reasons. But at the heart of the book is the idea of how important love is in all relationships.

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman is a great book to consider how the people in your life view actions as a way of understanding love. The book will equip you with ways to express love to people.

Movies

Hoosiers is more than a basketball movie. The movie deals with the idea of forgiveness, family, and why it matters to do the right thing in relationships.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a great movie that highlights the importance of action in life. Now, I don’t endorse missing school, but can’t deny the message about friendship and living life.

Songs

Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw is just a great song!

Tim McGraw on Stage

My photo of Tim on stage singing the song.

Share this post with anyone you feel would enjoy it.

I is for… (you will have to read the next post).

 

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Acronym of LIFE Series

I was thinking about life the other day while I waited for my daughters to finish their first day of practice for Cinderella Jr. So many little ideas bounced inside my head. I will be turning 50 in a few years. It is nice to have summer break again (been four years). The story lines of the Star Trek movies my wife and I have been watching (one through five at the time). This floor is hard. The idea of time presented in the movie, Arrival. Amazement at making it to this moment in my life. The new band Haevn I discovered.

Ideas like that, then something clicked in my head. Life became an acronym. Each letter represents an aspect of how to live a great life. I ran with the idea, jotted down some notes, and decided to write a blog series on this idea. After this introductory post, I will dedicate a post for each letter.

My goal of the blog series is:

  1. To be inspirational for you, the reader
  2. To satisfy my joy of dealing with deep ideas
  3. To satisfy my drive for writing

So join me over the next two weeks as I discuss the acronym of LIFE. I will share my ideas, share some book or media recommendations, and hopefully give you, even if it is just one idea, something that will help you live an awesome life.

L is for… (will have to wait till the next post)

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Why It Matters

My three oldest children are dealing with tough situations as they try to accomplish their goals. Each of them are faced with obstacles that are out of their control, but stand in their way of fulfilling their dreams. We continue to support them and to encourage them to continue to work hard and be true to themselves. But, it has become such a stressor that my oldest son challenged me the other night at dinner.

“When has following my heart ever paid off for me?”

This challenge was in response to a specific goal he has. Now, I’m not going to discuss the specifics of each of my children’s situations. This post isn’t meant for me to just rant about how unfair things are… It’s going to be an honest post about being a dad during times like this. Times when my kids feel life is unfair. That no matter how hard they work, others have control of their goals. Times when it feels like success will never come.

If you search for “Motivational Video” on Google you will get, “About 382,000,000 results” (just did this search). I have a playlist of about 15 of these videos. They do motivate. The videos emphasize not giving up. The person yells about how success comes after pain, or when you least expect it. Success is right around the corner, if you work hard… In one way I am going to disagree with them.  And by disagreeing with them I am going to answer my son’s question.

First, the motivational videos don’t give a clear picture of success; at least not on a deeper level. Success is not around the corner… and for sure it is hardly ever a straight line! Reaching your goals is more like the path a jack rabbit takes when it is spooked. Right! Left! Hide in some grass, then dart off again!

Reaching a goal is hard (this part the motivational videos and I agree on), in part because of the path you have to take to reach it. Then the most complex aspect of success kicks in…

What you define as success changes as you travel on that path. Left! Right! Hide… change in definition of success… now what?

I have been involved in athletics and education for over 20 years. I have been a part of many athletes’ and students’ journeys.

I’ve seen goals reached in seconds, then taken away before the finish line.

Courtney was a freshman 400 runner for me at Centura. She still holds the school record at 59 seconds. In the prelims of the 400 at state she ran the fastest time to earn lane four in the finals, 59 seconds. But she would not medal. In fact for the finals of the women’s 400, lane four was empty. Courtney had broken a bone in her foot at the 200 mark in her prelim 400. Yes, you read that right. Courtney ran a 59 second 400 with a broken foot. She would return to state to earn a fourth place medal. But a goal was earned and taken away in a single race.

I’ve seen goals take miles and years to reach.

The above snapshot of Variety’s “About” page shows the name of one of their newest online video producers, James Aitken, who is a former student of mine that wanted to attend college in California to study film. He did not get accepted. James went on to the University of Nebraska to do some cool things in the media field. He graduated from UNL in 2014. He started his newest job last May, in California.

Working hard is an aspect of reaching your goals.

Another sprinter, Ryan, worked hard for three years. As a junior he was ranked third in both the 100 and 200. He worked hard for three years! He puked after practice. He strengthened his form. Ryan believed in the process… He won both races at districts to earn a spot at state.

But many times, dreams change as we grow.

The 2018 Miss Nebraska, Jessica Shultis, is another former athlete and student. Jessica placed 10th at the 2019 Miss America contest in September. She is living a dream I don’t think she had as she played basketball and ran track in high school, or as she battled cancer at the age of 19.

Now to address my son’s challenge.

You do have to work hard. That is important.

Success is not a straight line. Enjoy the journey.

Your goals will change. That is OK.

But always follow your heart as you pursue your dreams. In one way, the quality of your life is revealed in how you strive for your goals. You may succeed. You may fail. But if you follow your heart, your life will always be true.

 

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A Year Without a Smartphone

I don’t know if you have heard, but VitaminWater is going to give one person a chance to win a 100,000 dollars if they can go without a smartphone for 365 days.

Yes, I have entered for the chance.

Have you? Could you go a year without your smartphone? I doubt I will be selected. To enter you have to post on social media how your life would be different for the year. As I write this, Instagram says there are 59.3k posts with the VitaminWater’s contest hashtag, #NoPhoneforaYear. So, I doubt my three entries will even be seen.

But it is an interesting question to ponder. Two of my entries were focused on writing more and being more involved as a father and husband. Common ideas from other people. My third entry was based on what I would miss…

Smartphones do enhance our lives. I listen to music. I take pictures all the time. In fact, I was going to do the 365 photo challenge again for 2019, but decided to wait till VitaminWater chose the person for their contest. I would miss the instant communication with my family. Even the quick text to let them know I love them. Yes, I even play games on my phone. I have played Puzzle and Dragons for 1661 days (this is why my oldest son doesn’t think I could make it a year without my phone).

When I told my students about the contest, one student said 100,000 dollars wasn’t enough money to give up their phone.

Now, I could reference all the articles and studies about the power of screens in our lives. This is a cultural debate, but also still a new development in our society. The iPhone is only 11 years old. Think about that… both the positive and negative of what smartphones have done for us.

But again, this post isn’t about that, either.

Would you live a year without a smartphone for 100,000 dollars? I think I can.

Would you live a year without a smartphone for your goals?

I’m trying. I’m not giving up my phone. But I am putting it down to write this blog. I am leaving it on my nightstand more. Yes, I have played Puzzle and Dragons today. I have texted my family. Took a crazy photo at lunch. But I am letting my life dictate my phone use. I’m not letting my phone dictate my life.

Would you live a year without a smartphone for your goals?

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Why You Won’t Read This

Wall with title of the post

I know that you won’t read this post. Here’s why.

  1. I am not saying anything you don’t already know. Whether I am writing about fatherhood, love, school, or any other topic, my views are found in books, YouTube videos, and other blogs. At the moment of writing this there are already  2 million new post on the internet according to WorldOMeters. In fact even opposing views are found through these channels. My beliefs are centered on my personal story and do correlate with many other people, even you at times. I am not alone in my views, and neither are you.

 

  1. I am not popular. On Twitter I only have 2,477 followers. I only have 272 friends on Facebook. On Instagram I only have 58 followers, and my most like photo has 19 likes (I do have some videos with more likes, but I think it is because my sons are the subject of the videos, so they share them). Katy Perry has 100,365,254 followers on Twitter. Cristiano Ronaldo has 103,576,615 likes on Facebook. Beyoncé set the record for the most likes on Instagram with her pregnancy photo; 7.8 million likes in 24 hours.

 

  1. I don’t have a focus. Most of the advice on making a blog work is centered around focusing your message, or branding your identity. There is also the advice about writing great headlines or building email lists and that post should be short. I use the free version of WordPress, and have a basic layout. No pop-ups or banners to get you to follow me. I do have a Flickr feed, though, I think that is cool.

So why am I even writing this? Why have I been writing a blog (in some form) since 2009?

Because of you.

Because of me.

Because of life.

Because it is all connected…

If there is one post, one sentence, or idea that helps you make your life better, it was worth writing it. I may never meet you in person, but that doesn’t mean our lives are separated. Honestly, if you think about it, technology allows us to build powerful connections that can make a positive difference in this world. And not just in a grand way, but in our everyday life. A single tweet, picture we share, or reading a post can make a bad day better. That’s awesome.

So, thanks for not reading this post today. I hope it has been a bright spot in your day. I’ll talk (write) to you soon.

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