2018 & Beyond

A new year is upon us.

For the past few months I’ve been pondering some thoughts regarding my energy, my time and ultimately, what I would like to exercise my concentration on. I want to announce some long needed changes to this site.

Most people hear the word “introvert” and equate it with shyness. If you’ve actually done any reading about it, you know that’s not the case. True introversion is a primary focus on one’s inner self, deriving value and meaning from that activity, as opposed to from the external world. Introverts can interact socially; they’re not afraid of social situations or interpersonal activities–rather they simply thrive more on solitary activities or with fewer people.

To the surprise of exactly no one who knows me, I’ve long understood myself to be this way. I’m totally capable of being social and thriving in those situations, but I prefer quiet environments, and more focused interactions with people. I also spend a non-trivial amount of time analyzing myself, my thinking, and my actions and trying to use this activity to learn more about myself, how I engage with the world around me, and how my actions affect other people.

I’ve always been a thoughtful person, even from a young age. But as I got older, different dimensions took shape and as my worldview continues to expand, the position where I place myself in the narrative of my life will often change.

Somewhere along the way I became interested in being someone on the internet. I started a blog, began using social media, and through those actions created an identity online, as so many of us have. It was great fun, I met a ton of terrific people, and explored new things with them. For about 10 years, it was a big part of my life, and somewhat how I defined myself as a person in the world.

But something changed in the past few years. I’ve found myself doing less online. Leaving social networks. Not publishing as many posts, and not beating myself up about it. All but disappearing from the public spaces I once inhabited, and reducing my voice to an occasional whisper in the dim of the dying night.

At the same time, I began focusing on other things. The balance of my life shifted. I began journaling even more, and making it a bigger part of my life than it had been. Actively reflecting more, and putting more effort into capturing my thoughts for myself. Talking about this with people, encouraging them to do the same. Always writing—because I do still love to write—but only for me, and not any other audience. Keeping those muscles in shape, but with a very specific purpose in mind. I use the app Day One on iOS and my Mac. I’ve talked about Day One to exhaustion but for good reason I believe. The app makes documenting your life so simple. The learning curve is close to nothing, and I truly believe the average person could use it and gain immense value in their life. So for the last time, go buy Day One right now… its like 2 bucks and fantastic.

I’ve tried to keep blogging, because I’ve had lots of people tell me they enjoy it when I do write, which is an amazing compliment and more than I could hope for. I mean, what better outcome could you have for writing something than for someone to say “I like that thing you wrote, thank you for doing that”?

But the fact of the matter is that I’ve lost whatever thing inside me made me want to write and put it somewhere on a steady basis, and I’m not sure why. I’ve lost the desire to do pretty much anything on the internet in any public capacity, and part of it is just who I am at the moment, and part of it is my ever-growing disenchantment with the rest of the world at the current time. So I’ve decided to just become an element of background scenery.

I wasn’t even going to write this post, but I figured I should. Because this isn’t me just being lazy and not blogging anymore, it’s a premeditated reflection on how I feel and why, what the effect of that feeling is, and how it manifests in my actions. Which exactly is the point. This is what I do. I’m just sharing this one with everyone, in case anyone gives a crap. (Presumably not, which is absolutely fine too.)

The internet is not the place it was when I started being really excited about it, and rather than stay here and complain about it like an old, cranky dude, I’m just going to leave it to other people for whom it’s still interesting.

I’m not disappearing off the face of the earth, I’ll still be around, and still work on deep, reflective blog posts that I enjoy sharing and hearing feedback on. I just don’t expect myself to churn in small post after small post. Week after week.

Like I mentioned in the beginning, the real life of less has already started for me. The discovery of minimalism and beauty of simpleness has already affected me greatly. It was only natural to reach my blog.


The Search for Silence

Our minds are poisoned. I hate being so pessimistic but it’s true.

What’s even more heartbreaking? I’m not totally sure were at fault. A combination of the times we live in and the attractiveness of things. If you take a step back and look at your life, you’ll very clearly see a picture of static surrounding you. What is that static you ask? One word I came to find: Noise.

Noise could come in many variations: sounds, screens, opinions, jobs, motives, goals, etc. Really, you name it, it could turn into noise. Believe it or not a bunch of our time is spent in noise. Noise controls, surrounds and for the most part, dictates us. Whether we agree with that notion or not, noise is a constant companion to our lives.

In our homes, we turn on our televisions. In our cars, we turn on the radio. When we exercise, we put on our headphones. Even when waiting in elevators or on hold with customer service, sound fills the void. I challenge you to find an area in your everyday life where you achieve peace and quiet. Report back, please. I promise you the task is sadly difficult.

That’s where the search for silence started for me: the realization that tranquil, calming moments were strangled by a stronger force. I started to see how routine noises had become, how it seeped into my life. And unfortunately, how it didn’t seem to bother me much.

You know, sometimes life has a way of swooping you up and turning the volume on so loud that we forget what no volume is like. Truth is, I can’t say I really miss the silence because as much as I think I’ve experienced it, I haven’t. Neither have you. Think about it. There is so much noise surrounding us. So much clutter, and so much distraction. Maybe it’s because I’m a minimalist at heart but all of this noise was an overwhelming force I had little control over. That bothered me.

A lightbulb then sparked: my quiet was gone, my God given rite to tranquility stolen. Like stillness was something I used to hear about. Like a distant relative that you don’t see any more, that doesn’t come to any family parties. I started thinking very intently about the sense of silence and about what benefits moments of quiet brings. Here’s a crazy thought exercise: What would the world be like if we all had a designated time of quiet? What changes would spark? What realizations as a people would we come to?

One of the biggest realization for me was taking control of my time. I don’t have to live a life of distractions and unnecessary detours. Although it doesn’t always feel like this: I am empowered to choose. The problem is, choosing is hard. Because habits are hard to break, especially bad habits. I started to focus on my bad habits. Social media…noise. Radio……noise. Podcasts……noise. Sports…….noise. I’m not saying all these had to go. But balance had to be achieved. My scale was way out of whack.

Like I mentioned earlier, all of our quiet to noise ratio is overwhelmed by the latter. We just don’t realize it. We’re overpowered and unaware of the noise. That really got me thinking. If I’m so out of balance, it’s impossible to see what I’m missing.

So, what am I missing? Are there benefits? Benefits to having quiet in our lives? Or did silence go by the wayside for a reason. Was it unconsciously chalked up as unnecessary?

Is silence worth saving?

Well, I deemed yes and i’ve started searching for ways to achieve silence. It meant breaking habits and routines. It meant odd, long spaces of nothing. It meant unnatural long pauses of quiet. It meant many bonfires by myself and long quiet walks. It honestly meant going out of my comfort zone and all I’m used to.

What I’ve found thus far has been startling, though.

I want to talk about focus and reflection a little bit. When I started quieting down elements I sensed something creeping back into my life. Something that was there, but much harder to achieve. I’m talking about focusing. I’m unsure if I’ve been a clearly focused, but knocking down the distraction of noise has helped tremendously.

Looking deeper though, it seemed most of my noise came from my wanting of content. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but I really wanted to know what I was missing in those time blocks of noise. I found that when left to just silence, I was reflecting on my past a whole lot more. Not in a depressing manner, but in a pro active learning objective. This was super interesting to me.

The focus and reflection I achieved that resulted from times of quiet where astounding and equally priceless to me. That’s an amazing notion, huh? That we could possibly produce something priceless with no worldly amount tagged on. In this case, my priceless product of silence was focus and reflection. I was able to think more clearly because I felt so much more in tune with myself. That made sense to me. Connecting with myself was an inability before, now it seems more reasonable based on reflection time in silence.

Of course, It goes without saying that I’m still in the very beginnings of this exercise, but what I’m finding is eye opening and demands personal documentation, in my opinion.

At the end of the day, what are we as a people if we don’t think, focus and reflect? I think piling on so much noise that prohibits silence is an extremely hazardous habit that equates to us being a whole lot less human as a society.

I fear the value of true, unobtrusive, calming, personal quiet time is fading softly into a dark sea. What I fear even more is that no one even flinches. Like throwing a life jacket is too much of a hassle. Personally, if I lose my quiet time, I lose myself and thoughts with it. Over the past few months, I’ve become aware of how valuable quiet time can be. It can be an escape in times of crisis. It can be as comforting as a warm blanket or as soothing as a hot cup of tea.

The truth is, silence is what you make it. But you can’t make anything out of what you can’t find.


Rewatching My Movie 10 Years Later

I don’t talk or write about my movie much and I often ask myself why. Writing, filming, post-production, etc. Honestly, it’s difficult to list everything I was responsible for before my mind gets exhausted. Making ‘The Fiction‘ was one of the highlights of my life and If I die tomorrow, to have been able to make a movie from start to finish would be one of my favorite, most cherished experiences of my existence.

Truth be told, the finished product just didn’t end up the way I envisioned it. What I didn’t realize before filming was how immensely hard making a feature film is. Especially when you have extremely little experience. I think anyone who read the script before shooting knew there was something special, but most people politely instructed me to not film it. To sell the script and move on. The ever repeating phrase of first time filmmakers hardly ever work, just never faded from consciousness.

I look back now and of course see mistakes I made. From inexperience, to just being entirely exhausted by the time we got to filming. I had that odd combination of being completely driven where no one, and I mean no one, could have stopped me from making that movie and combine that with not really knowing how to execute on a level this script deserved. In hindsight, I should have sold the script and starting work on something else. But that’s a lot easier said then done, especially now.

I often forget that when you believe in something so much, it takes a lot more than sense to sway you. Honestly though, I’m proud of that. I’m proud I had that characteristic in me at such a young age. I had a no tolerance, take no prisoners approach to getting the film done. I was stubborn, but in a good way. In a way you would want your kid to put his head down and dig hard for a goal. Show some mental toughness. Unable to be swayed by the world. I had that for sure back then. I don’t so much now. I’ve lost a lot of that energy as of late.

A few nights ago I did something I was dreading for a long time. Almost 10 years after wrapping on The Fiction, I watched it. I was nervous about this for so many reasons. I mean, I was nervous about being nervous. But I went to Amazon, rented a copy of my own film and watched.

Magic doesn’t work through time, the film still has many shortcomings as I remembered. Like I mentioned earlier, there were many technical issues as well as experience issues that plagued me throughout production. So watching through the other night couldn’t hide any of that. Those emotions rushed through me. I remember those feelings well. Being in our dark editing room months after shooting only to realize there is no way this scene is going to work as planned. Thats a scary feeling. At one point I remember driving home from an editing session and looking at the script sitting on my passenger seat, almost like it was staring back at me in disappointment.

The rewatch didn’t spawn all bad feelings, though. Actually, most of the viewing really comforted me. It comforted me to know that that was me. I know that sounds stupid. But its been 10 years now. It feels like another life ago. But it wasn’t, it was me. Still in the same skin just 10 years removed.

I loved seeing the cast. Eric, Andrus and all the heavy lifting they had to do to make up for my inexperience. They were sweet and gracious at every point of the production. I admired seeing Jeff play his multiple roles. I loved seeing young Allie play a role she was so committed to. Watching also made me recollect on the crew. Mike and Spike immediately come to mind. I have never and certainly now don’t mind saying this; The Fiction would have been half the quality it was without those guys. They did an amazing job with cinematography and Mike with editing. I am forever indebted to them. Of course I remembered Chris, my sound guy and long time school friend, who dropped everything so he could help me. He wasn’t completely comfortable with all the responsibility of a full sound team squeezed into one person, but he did it because he cared. I will always be appreciative of that.

Speaking honestly, watching The Fiction felt like a breath of fresh air. I know its a movie and to strangers, thats all it will ever be. But, to me it’s a time capsule for my life. Good or bad, I achieved this. Success or failure, no one could take it away from me. It was a tremendous learning experience about filmmaking, team work and most importantly, friendship. I would like to think everyone else on set felt this way, but I felt an extreme closeness to them while filming and anytime I saw them afterwords. Even when I rewatched, that feeling came back. The memories of jokes in-between takes and script revisions, prop placements and plot discussions. To me now, all that stuff feels so special.

After the rewatch I really wish I could hit the rewind button and go back. Not to fix little sound problems or acting quirks. Not to rewrite a scene to make it work a little better. Not to make different choices on set or off. I know it sounds crazy but I wouldn’t change a thing. I want to hit that rewind button so I could feel the warmth and camaraderie that the filming experience induced. I know I’ve tried to explain in words what I mean, but its just impossible.

Everyone involved in ‘The Fiction’ holds a very dear, special place in my heart. Who would have known the most important result of filming my own movie wouldn’t have been a completed film, but friendships and experiences that I never deserved and could have never achieved on my own.

Without a doubt, creating The Fiction was the biggest challenge of my life. But undisputedly, without question the most rewarding.

This is in no way a shameless plug, I promise. That was never my intention. But, if you read this post and are genuinely interested in seeing the film here are some links:

Attention as a Resource

The other night I had a dream. It was vivid, inspiring and downright admirable. Sometimes my dreams are so far in fantasy that I know I’m dreaming. That has to sound weird but it’s the honest to God truth. This particular dream was so soaked in reality, confusion wouldn’t begin to describe my emotions. I woke up realizing the unfortunate truth. This was only a dream.

I had a dream of a world where people can sit through long, dull conversations, without feeling the need to douse themselves with instant-gratification delivered through glowing plastic screens.

I had a dream of a world where people were aware of not only their own limited attention, but the precious attention of others and wouldn’t start texting in a movie theatre, totally killing the mood of a dramatic scene.

I had a dream where our devices would be comfortably allotted as the occasional supplement to our lives, and not used as a poor replacement for them. Where people would recognize that the constant and instantaneous delivery of information has subtle costs associated with it, as well as its more obvious benefits.

I had a dream of a world where people would become aware of their own attention as an important resource, something to be cultivated and renewed, to be built and cherished, the same way they take care of their bodies or their education. And this new cultivation of their own attention would have oddly set them free. Not just free from the screens, but free from their own unconscious impulses.

I had a dream where respect for attention would extend to the world around them, to their friends and family and the acknowledgment that the inability to focus is not only harmful to oneself, but harmful to one’s relationships and ability to hold and maintain intimacy with someone.

If all this really happened, if all this was real, we would let freedom ring, from every village and every county, from every state and every city, we would have been able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, would have been able to join hands and sing “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we’re free at last!”

Maybe somewhere in the world, humans act like this. Hey – a guy can dream, right?

Yes, this was my dream. But i’m awake now. Its very clear smartphones have just about taken our full attention. Myself included. You could call this a dark outlook. I unfortunately call it reality.

Truth is every human has an ongoing war with their attention. Whether they know it or not, their attention is in high, high demand. Until we can start thinking about and treating our attention as a resource – a limited resource at that – we are all in very big trouble.

The Conversation Triangle

This is kind of a follow-up post from my previous. I was informed that Lindsey and 2 close friends embarked in an in-depth conversation last night. Not that anyone needs my permission or anything, but I strongly approve of moments like this. This isn’t the first time and probably won’t be the last I harp on a such a subject as important as conversation.

I have told Lindsey many times I feel like the art of conversation is slowly dwindling away. Especially, meaningful conversations where one can grow and learn. I mean think about it, when was the last time you had a significant exchange of words with someone who was 100% invested in what you were saying?

With the rise of social media and the style of “connecting” it spawns, all the little nuances of actually sitting down, looking someone in the eyes and listening to them are lost. Social media disables you to “feel.” You can’t read heartbreak on someone’s voice when you’re reading text on a computer screen. You can’t sympathize through pixels. What social media unfortunatley does enable is quick judgements, silent spectating and empty assurance. It really is a poor excuse of connecting and if thats all the next generation of humans have; they will be sharply cheated out of real, genuine companionship.

In-depth conversations are not only profitable, they are needed. As living, breathing people, we long for connection and bonding, at least I do. And it’s a rare feat when it happens. But when it does, you can bet you’ll know. You feel the presence of something special. Something foreign that only happens when you invite it. From my experience, it takes honesty, patience and listening. The conversation triangle.

Regardless of what subjects were talked about during Lindsey and their conversation, if one yearned for understanding and achieved some sort of answer, thats all that matters. To be able to sit down and reason is a God given right and a necessity.  Sometimes we lose sight of the simple things. Like just listening and learning from other people. Even if you don’t agree; switch your brain to learn, its unpopularly profitable.

In conclusion, I’m super thankful we have good friends and family where this is possible; good conversation. Sure, it’s a rarity in todays life. But almost all the battle is having the other half to talk to. We do. When Lindsey told me about their conversation, it served as a great reminder that we have friends who are there to talk when there is a need. And to me, thats priceless.

I had this client in Connecticut named Fred Russel. Fred was a warm, insightful man. He is one of my favorite people i’ve ever met. He was one of those individuals that you just wanted around. When he walked in the room, the atmosphere lit up with positivity.

I’m left thinking of something Fred always said at the end of his haircut. He would never fail to say: “Dan, another long conversation that seemed too short.”

I’ve always thought to myself: “ya, thats the mark of a good connection.” A long conversation that seemed too short.

Sprinkle some honesty, patience and listening on top, and you have something extremely rare and uniquely special.

The Bible, Completed

About a year ago I challenged myself to actually read the bible all the way through. Front cover to back. Today I can report I’ve finished. If your new to this personal venture of mine, you could read the midway update post. I wanted to check in with everyone to state what I learned in the past year. The act of consistently reading everyday has taught me about myself, God and the bible itself.

To play quick catch up: Everyday I read my bible according to a set plan. Some days I was required to read 2 chapters. Some days 10. After a while things got more and more difficult. But I stuck with the task. It was worth it. I was explaining to Lindsey yesterday although I’ve read all the way through, I don’t feel I am some bible scholar now. And if early readers recall, that was never the point. The original objective was simple, just read!

You see, I was having issues with the “just read” part. I think a bunch of people do, but we’re all ashamed to say anything. We’re ashamed we *really* don’t care. I have no shame in saying that. That’s definitely how I felt a year ago. I just didn’t care. To be incredibly honest, I couldn’t care less. That realization was overwhelming frightening to me. Thats why I pushed so hard to make this a priority. I wanted to read for my own sake and my families sake. I was introduced to the King James Bible a little over 8 years ago. So in that sense, I’ve always felt a little behind the eight ball compared to life-longers . But when I was finally honest with myself and realized I just didn’t care about reading, I felt like a scared hypocrite.

Maybe Christians nowadays don’t want reading the bible to be a priority, or more accurately, maybe they don’t think the “act” of reading it should be hard. Maybe they think because reading in a consistent manner is so time consuming and difficult, something is wrong with them and they look the other way. Nothing can be further from the truth, though. Reading is hard. Dedication is hard. Discipline is hard. Anything you do that is worthwhile in life is going to be a hard, upstream swim. Why should reading the bible be any different?

After 1 year of day in and out reading. I could tell everyone this. If I can do it, any of you can. The gains were worth it. To become familiar with the bible is worth your time and effort. Im not saying that in a “from the pulpit, talking down to you” sort of way. Im saying it in a human to human way. This book is worth the praise. The accolades were right. The praise is accurate. The King James bible holds up like no other piece of art form I’ve ever experienced before.

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m not all of a sudden a bible scholar. Very, very, very far from it. But I now have a good “feel” for the bible like I’ve never had in the past. I could really sense the broad strokes of the New Testament very clearly now. Thats something you get with personal, concentrated, quiet time. Thats how you build. Constructing relationships take time and effort. Why did I assume Bible reading and my relationship with God would be different?

Church is fantastic. It’s a great place to go and fill up and be around like minded people. It’s not the whole thing though. Very far from it. Reading the bible through for a year has taught me to turn my Christian life inside out. To refocus my aim and effort. My focus is now more on the days in between church and attempting to reach people. Thats what the Bible has taught me the most this past year. People. Reaching out. Helping. Having compassion.

You could certainly say I should have known this from just going to church. And I did. But by reading my bible for 365 days straight. Now I believe it.

Looking forward I am going to continue my reading. But I’ve made some changes. Some of the cons of last years plan was the amount of reading they required a day. For me, some content went by the wayside. I never liked that. In 2017 I am just focusing on the New Testament and 1 chapter a day. Im going to accompany that one chapter a day with studying on that chapter after.

If 2016 was about completing the bible for the first time. 2017 will be about digging through the NT. I think thats a natural progression. Reading through the bible has given me a decent to good foundation on everything I thought I was familiar with. Now concentrating on just the NT will allow a clear focus.

Im really excited about what 2017 brings and what I will learn from God and His word. I also want to thank some of you who emailed me after my initial post and either encouraged me or gave me some guidance. That was very cool and unexpected.

It’s a funny feeling to finish a year long plan of reading. About a month before I completed I started thinking of what direction I wanted to go in next. In the back of my mind was the not read option lingering. Immediately, I squashed it. After a reading the same book for a year. Leaving it at this point would be leaving a part of me. I don’t want me and the Bible to ever be strangers again. I understand I need to it way more then it needs me, but our relationship is just growing, I pray. So, after reading for year, I can honestly say I don’t have any intention of stopping. Usually when you embark on a reading plan your always eyeing that finish line. I feel at this point in my life this is just the beginning, though. And with God’s help, I pray I never reach a finish line.

If you are reading this today without a starting point, I hope this post didn’t hit you with a punch of condemnation. If I meant to do anything by writing this, it was maybe inspire someone who is in the same place I was a year ago. I implore you to try and read. Just a little.

Many have asked what tools I used to read. I picked the YOUVERSE BIBLE app for iPhone and under plans I selected “CHRONOLOGICAL” . Like I mentioned, some days it got tough, but hopefully your desire outweighs the difficulty. I particularly liked YOUVERSION’s layout and simplicity. The app organized my daily reading in a very simple way. You could even configure it to push you reminders for your reading.

Again, Thanks everyone for following this journey with me. Here to hoping I can continue through this year and to your and my reading in 2017!

2017: The Year of Less

2016 was an extremely long, busy, excruciating year for me. This wasn’t by accident. This was very much by design. I made personal career goals and if all went well by the end of 2016, those goals would be completed. Well, 2016 came and went. I worked hard, had many sleepless nights. But thank God, each goals I set out to achieve was realized.

Although I learned a lot last year, this was hardly the first time I pushed myself to do something hard and out of my comfort zone. I’ve filmed my own movies, I’ve competed in worldwide competitions just to name a few past events. But I learned last year I’m still capable of doing more than I think I can. We all are. We all sell ourselves short much of the time. I don’t know why. We just do. We’re all really good at putting a ceiling over our heads and claiming that’s the spot we stop at.

Somewhere in the craziness of 2016 I came up with an exile idea. Around August, when in combination of driving all over Florida for classes, and doing my EMT practicals, ride alongs and studying for my advanced firefighter Cert. for Florida and Georgia, I found myself thinking about the upcoming year, 2017. Seemingly so far away at that moment, 2017 was going to be a chill year. A year where I spaced out and did nothing. This sounded fantastic. It was a perfect follow up to the hectic, whirlwind 2016 was. I named it 2017: The Year of Less.

Although the “Year of Less” was going to be about the obvious: less. The more I considered the idea, the more the word “less” wasn’t hitting the mark. I thought a lot about what I wanted to spend my time on in 2017. What was important to me.

First, family. Whether realized or not, family takes a huge hit when your pursuing something. Be art, working overtime or taking a bunch of classes, etc. Family time is the first to go. In many ways its our most expendable time. Which is sad. So I figured in 2017, I was going to spend much more personal time with my family.

Not just all of them at once though. I want to spend time with each individually. This may sound silly, But I just want to let them talk. Me, listen. Try and identify what I missed last year in their growth and thoughts.

Going to the movies has always been a very personal, extremely special thing for me. In 2016, this kind of fell by the wayside. I would like turn up the dial a bit on the movie going experiences. Maybe not once a week like when I was a little guy. But certainly more often then 2016.

Movies have a way of enforcing reflection. I missed that in 2016. I’m hoping a return to normalcy in the film category will help me learn new things about myself and others. Help me identify emotions better and learn new subjects, people and stories.

I also would like more thinking time. Being busy 24/7 really makes you long for quiet time. Really, it makes you appreciate your personal time more. I love walks and bonfires. They have always been a form escapism for me. More so, I love what they produce. They evoke a calming atmosphere, where I am allowed to unplug this world.

As I’ve gotten older, realizing the value of thinking has really hit me. I turned into someone who loves to think. Think about upcoming events, possible outcomes of things and my stance and opinion on everything. Thinking on things allows me to identify myself in a authentic, non-influenced way. This has helped me learn more about me in a honest fashion.

Those are just 3 topics I could think of that fit into a nice, neat box. But there are many more no doubt. Many tiny spread out fragments floating that I need to connect together to make sense out of.  All in all, I would just like 2017 to be a year of personal growth and improvement.

The “Year of Less” in many ways will be more. More of the aspects of life I would like to focus on. More intention to grow as a person, Father and Husband. More ways to execute balancing in a productive manner. More ways to self discover without outside influences.

If 2016 was overflowed with “career” goals, 2017 will be filled with “personal and internal” goals. I like those goals, no one can judge them or fail me.

What If I Don’t Matter?

It’s an interesting concept, isn’t it? The idea that we matter so much. So prevalent because honestly, we all fully believe it. We all believe we matter. We all believe we count. We all believe our words mean something and we all believe we are right in the majority of issues. Whether that be the latest opinion on Facebook, or how you judge someone without getting to know them. Of course were right, because were always right. Right?

This thought came about during the most recent election. I’m not a republican, nor a democrat. So to me, election time is always a spectator sport. This year was different though. The divide between the two major parties was the widest gap I’ve ever witnessed. I started thinking; how can two large groups of people have such different views? Such different opinions on the same issues. It was a striking realization. All these people, everyone, felt like they were right. That they mattered. It was something I could relate to. Because quite honestly, I felt I mattered.

A short time after this I really started pondering why everyone (including me) felt we needed to be right. Why it means so much for us to be stamped with approval (others or our own). This led me down a long, dark hallway of self realization.

Some of the big characteristics I try to improve daily are open mindedness and better comprehending others. This election was many things, unfortunately not any of those traits, though. So with all that noise going on through the election I started to ask what is an effective way to understand people? As grown up humans, we sometimes think we come out of the box ready to go. This was one of those moments for me. I’m OK in this area because I’ve always done it (place your way here).

Now I want to be clear, I don’t mean “figure people out” and place them in a box. I mean truly understand where they are coming from. I also don’t mean accepting their views or changing to their stances. I mean just simply understanding them. By all means after the fact, if you resonate with something you should listen to that feeling very closely. But the idea wasn’t to go fishing for change, it was to just simply try and understand someone else.

After a while and a lot of thinking of past interactions and situations in my life, almost all of my answers came back to this one idea. The reason I feel so strongly about anything is because I think MY view matters. I perceive my view to be the ultimate. To be end game.

Speaking for myself, when my view takes up so much space, there is very little room for anything else. That kind of scared me, but mostly didn’t shock me. How could it be surprising? We live in a time when the only thing that matters is us. What we want, how we want it, when we want it. If anything, I would have been shocked if I came out thinking not enough of me was in my views. Of course I inhibit all my head space. The world we live in is a “me” world. Im not pushing back on that, it just is what it is. A good realization to keep in mind.

So, where from here? I’ve established my views are selfishly mine without room to breathe any fresh air. Is that it? We have our views, or opinions and we die? Sounds boring yes, but also horrific in a sense. Somewhere down the line I was speaking to a man at the fire department and in mid conversation it hit me like a ton of bricks. What if I don’t matter? Is it a scary thought? Sure! But is fear a righteous foe for self improvement? You decide.

What if I don’t matter? A big question. A scary question. But the more I kept pounding in my head when others were talking, the more things felt right. I would actually listen to people because frankly, I wasn’t thinking of some witty comeback to prove my point. It was enlightening. Refreshing even. If nothing else, the idea that I didn’t matter really assembled a healthy way to interact with people. I started to care for people more. Simply because, when you remove yourself, all thats left is everyone but you.

This practice was really, really effective. It made me an excellent listener and an even better solver for my own problems. Surprisingly, when you take yourself out of your own problems or scenarios, your next move or decision becomes a lot easier to navigate. You see, we inhibit so much thought and care about ourselves, we muddy up any clear water in the defense of us and our well being.

Living a life of me not mattering wouldn’t be easy, but certainly rewarding. There was a problem though…

I do matter. Maybe not to me in the sense of this practice, but to my family in CT I do. To my wife, and my 2 kids I matter and I’m thankful. You may read that and think it sounds idiotic or simple. But it’s the truth. They care what I have to say. They care how I feel. They care what happens in the my life. I also know, to be the best husband/dad for them, I need to feel self worth.

So like many other discoveries made, I find balancing has been the answer. Discern when to not matter. When someone is hurting because of a recent event, that exact moment is not the time to preach on how you would have done this or that. When you are driving home and see someone on the side of the road who needs some help, that exact time would not the best to judge that person. You’re not him or her, you don’t know what brought them there.

Do you see what I’m getting at? If you can accurately execute when to not matter, you can be a powerful force for good in this world.

I can understand how some would have a problem with this. Some would say you must stand for what you believe in. You must not waver to others opinions. But you see, you are the people I view every election fighting the other side with closed minds and clenched fists. I also see your finish line. If your party wins, you are happy for 4 or 8 years boasting the best option won. If your party loses you spend the next 4 or 8 years saying and thinking toxic, mind crippling thoughts about a person you’ve never met, but can only paint with broad strokes.

Like I’ve said in the past, I’m not saying throw away everything you believe in. I’m a firm supporter for standing for what you deem important. What I am saying is know when you could get real, real small. So small that you could convince yourself you don’t matter. It’s not easy, but when you can get there you can start seeing some beautiful things. Like people other than yourself.

The Most Skippable iPhone?

Like a kid at Christmas, there I was doing my part. I waited patiently. I was ready. This year though, Apple had other plans.

I have been anxiously awaiting this years iPhone release for more than a year. It has been my customary tradition to upgrade my most used tech device every 2 years. Even when Apple introduced their now infamous “Upgrade Program,” I still held off. Because frankly, I like keeping my phones for 2 years. I don’t why, I just do.

So around June-ish the rumors started to hit pretty heavy that the new upcoming iPhone is not what we thought it may be. It’s not redesigned, it’s not exciting and most notably it’s not even garnering the most attention. Turns out this year, the next next iPhone is getting more attention then the soon anticipated one. The rumors started to hit hard that Apple was working diligently on a revolutionary, edge to edge screen design for the 10th anniversary iPhone that would release in 2017. This was a first. I didn’t know what to think about this. Essentially my mind translated all this into: this new, unreleased iPhone (2016) is already outdated.

I didn’t like this. Who would? Here I am intentionally waiting for the new hotness, only to start hearing rumors that the new hotness is not the new hotness. I thought to myself, “Be Patient”. Wait and see. And wait I did…

Fast Forward…. Enter September 7, 2016. Apple officially reveals iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The rumors were dead on. Not newly designed. Not exciting. Not new hotness. To be fair, the iPhones 7 have a lot going for them. This marks the first time Apple has ever made a design 3 times in a row. At this point I would assume they have perfected it. So a big benefit is naturally, if your buying an iPhone 7, your receiving a very well polished, solid device to surely last you 2 years.

So there I was faced with this unusual situation I never chose to be in. I waited, I did my part. Apple showed their cards and I’m kind of left scratching my head. What do I do? I thought about this a bunch. I didn’t want to waste my upgrade on a phone only to be left out in the dark when/if Apple does release this magical, unicorn, 10th anniversary iPhone next year. Also another huge element in my decision making was Apple’s new operating system, iOS 10. In my mind, iOS 10 was going to make or break my decision. If it ran awful on my current iPhone 6 my choice would be an easy one. If it ran silky smooth. That would pull me in the keeping the 6 camp.

On the other hand, iPhone release week is a fun time to be an Apple fan. You get caught in the excitement extremely easy and naturally, you want to be a part of it and on my traditional 2 year cycle, I usually am. Another huge benefit I was to gain is simply having a new phone. My current phone is 2 years old and showing some age. The great thing about buying a new phone every 2 years is really receiving upgrades from 2 new phone generations, not 1.

So honestly speaking, the night preorders hit, instead of my usual super excitement, I set my alarm for 2:55 AM with an indecisive (who me?) mind. My alarm sounded, clock showed 2:55. Here I go. Pull out my trusty laptop. Apple.com here I come. Do all my preorder set up and come to the moment of truth: the “place order button.”

Excitement got the best of me. I preordered feeling “OK” about the decision but also in the back of my head knew iOS 10 dropped in 3 days. If iOS 10 would run smoothly on my current iPhone 6 and I wasn’t impressed with the 7, the plan of action would be pretty clear: my usual return policy which is return everything! Lindsey now calls it my “ride of shame” which I laugh at because it unbelievably accurate of my emotions when I’m driving to the Apple store with a receipt and a box.

So, iPhone 7 preordered and coming on launch day and awaiting iOS 10. The day of iOS 10’s release I was excited. Kinda like the excited I used to be for new iPhone releases. And that spoke volumes to me. I asked myself why? The truth I came to find out was simple. I really didn’t want the iPhone 7. In many ways I was hoping to pass on it. If I passed on it, I would have many, many options for next year.

iOS 10 released and I honestly think my phone runs better then it did on iOS 9. The big things checked out: battery life, responsiveness, all good! I was excited. I felt confident my 6 would be good to last another year, Then my 7 came in the mail. And to give Apple credit, the phone is gorgeous. I ordered the matte black model and boy I’m happy I did. Even without a new design, somehow Apple made this phone better looking then ever. I was tempted briefly to keep it (of course I was) but after some clear thinking and adding up all the moving parts: iOS 10 performance on my current phone, next year impending magical phone and keeping my upgrade intact. I just couldn’t do it. Ride of shame, we meet once again.

So thats it, thats my story (so far). The back up plan is if something happens to my third year iPhone that deems it unusable, I’ll bite the bullet and head on over to Apple and pick up a 7. Until then I feel at peace with my decision. An odd choice ill be the first to admit. I’ve never had a cell phone for 3 years. So we will see how that pans out.

I should note, people have mentioned the obvious to me. What if Apple’s magical unicorn phone does not come out next year? Do you hold on to your iPhone 6 a 4th year? The answer: I don’t know. I doubt it, but we’ll see. For the record, I’m really hoping Apple comes through.

Like many reviewers currently out there, I can’t bash Apple. My decision was based on what I wanted and not what Apple did or did not do, if that makes sense. Sure the iPhone 7 didn’t ring my bell this time around. That doesn’t mean it’s not a great phone. In fact it is a great phone. Any time Apple makes something 3 times over you better believe its a solid product. You also have to give Apple props that my current daily driver (iPhone 6) is 2 years old and simply running better then ever. What other tech company can boast about something like that? So in one way the iPhone 7 is Apple’s most skippable phone. In many others, Apple’s most conceived phone. Its all in how you look at it.

If you ordered an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus. Be excited. It’s a worthy representation of the newest iPhone. But as for me, When I returned mine I finally got to play with one in the store. The best way for me to sum up my hands on experience of an iPhone 7 is simple. IPhone 7: next year’s iPhone hidden in this years casing. Its extremely clear to me that this years iPhone is a transition phone until next year. And you know who can’t wait to be excited again for a new iPhone announcement? This guy.

How I learned to Stop Avoiding & Read My Bible

I’ve heard and later learned that the first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging you actually have one. The realization of said problem’s existence is key in the repairing process. Usually such a phrase is found in the depths of addiction interventions. The beautiful thing about allowing yourself to believe such a notion is quite frankly, freeing. Admitting you have a problem (big or small) is you being honest with you.

Before we go any further let me put something on the table. This post was extremely hard for me to publish. There were late nights of pondering if publishing this would produce criticism of myself or help to someone. Like many posts on this site, this is personal. But particularly this one is different. The bible seems to be a dividing subject for people. So let me be clear. Nothing in this post is meant to hurt. Only to help, if no one else, then just me.

I have a problem: I don’t read my bible. There it is, I said it. In blind site standing naked; a simple, honest truth. In a consistent manner, I have never read my bible. Sure from time to time I will pick it up and pretend to understand a chapter or two. I think we all do. But if I’m being honest, I was barely even doing that. My other problem: I’ve never read the bible all the way through (obviously). After much time of reflection on this, I am somewhat disappointed in myself, but thats the reality. My life is busy and finding time to give the bible the attention it deserves has proven to be difficult. Of course thats an excuse, but a persuasive one that was effective, until recently.

A while ago I started really thinking about this. You know, really analyzing the situation from all angles. My family and I go to church 3 times a week. I hold a pretty time consuming position in our media situation at church. I claim to be Christian and yet why, when I leave church, I could honestly care less about reading the bible.

The realization hit me hard. There was something wrong and quite honestly I was sick of it. You see its important you understand, I had to be honest with myself. I had a problem and no one was going to fix it except for me. Thats scary when you actually believe it.

I had to analyze my situation. I go to church. Why? Honestly, why? Why do I spend so much time somewhere called church and how has reading the bible slipped (really never started) from my life. Its certainly not the Pastors fault. I have been really blessed to have had only two Pastors my whole life and they are both in their own way, exceptional. Can’t blame them. I had to direct the blame towards me. And a few months ago, I did.

I feel many Christians are utterly incapable of admitting reading the bible is difficult and a daily task we push off intentionally because frankly, we find many more things much more enjoyable. Becoming a Christian late in life I guess has helped me in the sense of common sense. I’m not afraid to say my bible knowledge is nowhere it needs to be because I have no one to impress, I have no expectations to live up to. I can’t cling on to the excuse that growing up my family read the bible 3 times a day because we didn’t. So I’m left looking in the mirror with my kids in the rearview.

Sometime ago I was unsure of some topics and I intentionally delved into them on my own. I didn’t tell anyone, I just jumped in privately. Surprisingly, I loved the experience. I enjoyed no influences and I really got excited when I discovered something in my bible, on my own. To be clear for some people, I can intelligently discern between influences and guidance. I welcome guidance and am thankful for it, but sometimes influence makes me nervous. To me, digging on your own builds character, it shows dedication and most importantly it produces a relationship between God and I. Almost like building memories. And then it hit me; thats what was missing, memories.

Like I mentioned early and can’t be stressed enough, I started to ask why. Like a lot. Why don’t I read daily? More importantly, why don’t I want to read daily? I should want to know this stuff, right? Sure life happens, but thats no excuse. Especially if you claim that the Bible is God’s written word. So with the fire burning and ready to begin. I stopped asking why and began asking how. A scary, but good first step.

I set a goal. The goal would be a simple one. Read the Bible through in 1 year. For me this was going to be extremely hard, but long overdue. If my intention was to read through the entire bible, I knew it couldn’t be a me thing. I clearly don’t have the drive to complete such a task on my own and I have to be honest about that. It would commission much prayer and (in my case) intelligent use of what I have a good understanding of, technology. I know, I know… But please keep reading.

I decided early on I wanted a double dynamic experience. I wanted to hear and read simultaneously. So I knew turning to apps was the right move. I didn’t want to just read, for me hearing and experiencing help me understand much, much better. So I found an app for my iPhone that has dramatized and non-dramatized versions of KJV. Also accompanying that app is an actual reading plan to keep me honest and organized and ensure my finish date. So I don’t have to guess if I am on track, the app will tell me “OK, this is what you need to do today.” Also and for me most critically, an 1828 Webster Dictionary App to know what these words meant near the time of being penned. That’s really important to me, maybe it’s my writing/filmmaking/storytelling background. But intentions and meanings are vital in written narratives. So after some researching I settled on a bible app, that included reading plans, vocal read back and reminders combined with a capable 1828 dictionary app. I was set. Well, the setting up part.

I should note, all of this planning made my nerves roll. Just because I’m doing all this research, doesn’t mean I’m going to actually follow through. And the truth was, I really felt like this was my last shot. I know that sounds silly. But I felt like, if this doesn’t work when I’m this ready and willing, it will never work. I didn’t really know what was going to happen. I knew I felt confident my plan was appealing to me and I set the right tools in front of me, but who knew what would actually happen. I certainly didn’t.

So I started.

Here’s where the story gets interesting.

I remember day one very clearly. I opened the my Bible and paused on the cover page for Genesis 1. I said a prayer and asked God; “if you want me to learn about you, please just help a little.” I was nervous. I didn’t want this to fail. I know this will sound funny but, I also wanted to actually like it. I smirk when typing that but its true. I heard so much about this book from so many people. I really didn’t want to be the guy who didn’t enjoy it. I ended my prayer, took a deep breath and pressed play on my app. Here we go. The narrater started and my eyes moved in unison. My 3 chapters for the day were finished. “That wasn’t that bad” I thought…

The first couple weeks I slowly began looking forward to what would happen next in Genesis. Then merging into Exodus I felt extremely accomplished finishing my first book. This may sound extremely elementary to you professional Bible readers, but that wasn’t enough to discourage me. I was starting to catch my stride. I was excited/learning about God. For the first time in my life, I could honestly say that was true.

I continued and pretty soon, none of this felt like work. Sure in the beginning it was difficult (like any new habit). But after time reading the bible was just part of my day. The fact that I went from no interest in the Bible to actually looking forward to opening it daily is nothing short of a miracle to me. Currently, on this publish date I am exactly half way through. Im not sitting here saying I’m on the road to finishing. Because I’m not. But I could say I am enjoying my time with it. I am thrilled to be putting my focus on something that matters. And I know if it ends tomorrow, I will have done more than not doing anything at all.

Looking back now, I can honestly say I sold the bible short. I took for granted it’s scale, it’s style of writing. I completely overlooked how beautiful the stories are told. I ignored God’s effortless storytelling. I forgot that the Bible is a collection of an epic narrative. I think we all do. And truthfully it’s not our faults. We go to church so much and have information spoon fed to us, we are obnoxiously numb to God’s magnificence in his written word. We lose the hunger to see and experience the bible for what it is. A masterful book which is so epic in proportion no one in its existence has come close to pinning down every detail. It’s a book of mystery, of betrayal, of companionship and revenge. It’s the ultimate and original love story to the unworthy. It truly has all you would want. The bible spawns life lessons with ease. What other book captures all these elements and is able to put a bow on top?

I guess what I’m trying to say is do what works for you and try, read and get excited. For me, it was much prayer and adding technology. Daily reminders, reading plans and dramatized audio in combination with an 1828 Webster dictionary app ready to go. But please don’t misunderstand me, i’m not saying that’s the right way for everyone, I’m saying there is no right way. Just find what works for you and begin learning about God. For real.

As a new(er) Christian I honestly thought church and fellowship was sufficient. And I could totally see how anyone else would also. But, maybe we should stop thinking of Christianity as a group effort and start executing a solo plan and take responsibly for ourselves, our actions and our knowledge. Stop thinking of reading the bible as an act of the establishment and start thinking along the lines of you being personable with God. Stop thinking attending church is sufficient enough when it’s your duty to understand the Bible and live its principles.

To not read is to not experience what is the most prolific, miraculous groupings of words ever assembled in my opinion. To not try for me was the most worn out, faded sweatshirt that just didn’t fit anymore. I was the best at pretending, now I just want to be decent at trying. Like I mentioned, I don’t know what lies ahead. I know I want to remain faithful and surge on. I am really, really enjoying reading. I admire how it has become a part of my everyday life.

Building any relationship is difficult. Especially when one person just isn’t interested. In this case, I was the uninterested. The biggest takeaway I’d like to tell people is nothing magical, yet mundane. To build a relationship with God, like any other entity, a requirement is time spent together. Since starting my reading plan, I feel a closeness I’ve never felt. I find myself caring about what God cares about. I’ve discovered less of me and more of Him is extremely wise. I believe, to truly feel these emotions, they can’t be fabricated overnight. They can’t be manufactured after a really good church service. Like any relationship hard work and dedication are a must. Mine and God’s relationship was no different. You can’t spend zero time with someone and claim to love them. It just doesn’t work, and whats more heartbreaking; that other someone will never believe you love them.

If your intention is to read the bible and learn about God but are stuck in a rut, step 1 is being honest with yourself. Then try anything that may help: Read half a chapter a day. Read a verse day. If you think I’m joking, I’m not. Because I was there and maybe i’ll be back there. Please, do whatever it takes to get you to open this book. I promise you It was made to be opened, something I’m grateful to be learning day by day.