Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday Funhouse: Feb. 1, 2013

Not so much funny as overwhelmingly true of me.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Getting Back on the Horse -- Plus an Update

Doing anything consistently is hard. Blogging isn't any different.

It requires a discipline -- an attention to detail. And it very easily gets shoved violently to the bottom of the "to do list."

When life gets busy, it's difficult to justify taking a few minutes to write. It feels irresponsible, sometimes, almost like I'm chasing a fantasy fairytale when I should be taking out the trash or some other chore on the list.

Then, when I finally do get myself to a mental place where I'm ready to write, my head spins with all these menial boxes to check that don't really matter all that much.

Is this a post that will stir up a response and get a decent amount of comments?

Will this post have a headline that garners successful SEO stats?

Am I writing from a pure place, or am I writing just to write?

And what I find is, if I have those conversations and let those questions be serious boundaries around the foundation of my writing...

...I don't write.


This past week has been that way. I have weeks where I write four or five posts in a row. I feel passionate about them. I get a great response. People share them on Facebook and Twitter. I feel like I'm really writing like a pro.

But then I get hit with a setback. I feel like I can't live up to the week before. I feel tapped out creatively. I've got nothing.

At the end of the day, I believe it's okay to "write just to write." Writing is an exercise, and if you only exercise that creative part of your brain when you have a beautiful, mind-rending epiphany, you just won't write regularly enough to be worth a crap as a writer.

So, I'm trying to be better about that, and I'm sharing my frustrations with you guys, so that we can hold each other accountable.

I also wanted to update you on what's been going on in my life.

God has been good to us. Really, really good. I currently have more graphic work than I can even keep up with. It's a good problem to have, but it presents a set of problems I've never had to deal with before. I'm adjusting, and I'm just grateful that the tides are beginning to turn.

In addition to my freelance work through KR Graphix, I also was recently hired by my church to serve as "Head of Communications," which essentially just means I'm their lead graphic designer. It's great, and it provides a little more money to help towards the monthly totals.

So, life is good. It's just really hectic right now. I'm going to really try to keep writing regularly, and I'm sorry that I neglected the blog this week.

As always, I don't want this to be a one-way street. Whether you're a writer or not, please share in the comment section below how things are going for you right now. What's new? Can we pray for you specifically in any particular way?

Bring it.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Funhouse: Jan. 25, 2012

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Before You Thrive, You Have to Survive

When I was in High School, my friends and I used to play a game called "Flicks."

It was dumb. Really, really dumb.

The object of the game was to hold your hands together, fingers outstretched, and allow your opponent to flick you anywhere on either one of your hands, and vice versa. They flicked you. You flicked them.

So on and so forth -- until someone gave up.

I was the best.

It wasn't because I flicked the hardest. According to the other guys, I didn't even flick that hard (though, by the end of the year, that changed too). No, it was a lot less about the damage I inflicted, and more about my defense.

The game was psychological to a large extent. Whenever I played, I made it a goal of mine to never let my opponent know he had hurt me, even remotely. The truth of the matter is that it usually hurt a lot, but I resolved to hide that fact from my face. I did not flinch. I did not wince. I did not allow my hands or fingers to shake or tremble. They would give me everything they had, and I would just smile at them.

It was deflating. None of the other guys could believe I as willing to go as long as I did. They'd say things like, "Come on, man! You know that hurt!" and "Dude, just quit already!"

But I didn't. I never quit.

Eventually it got to the point where no one would play with me anymore. It wasn't fun for them. I never lost, and everyone was afraid to look silly playing against me.

Why do I bring that up?

As stupid as it may sound, that game (and games like it) taught me something. I learned to accept the pain as a reality, push through, and then give back more than I'd received. It's Jedi Mind Trick that got me through jobs I hated, situations that scared me, and conversations I would have preferred to have avoided.

It's an ability I've relied heavily upon within the past year.

I bought my first house. I moved almost an hour away from the area where I'd spent the previous 18 years of my life (and where my family still lives). I lost my job. Kim got pregnant. She lost her job (or, rather, we decided for her to give it up). I started my own business. It started off great, but then it hit a huge drought that had me awake on many sleepless nights wondering what we were going to do.

And now? We're on several different kinds of government assistance. We're behind on some of our bills. Chiefly, we're behind on our mortgage, and there's a possibility we'll lose our house (though I believe strongly that the Lord is not going to allow that to happen).

I pursued a dream. I jumped out of the airplane without even knowing if the parachute would work. I held out my hands and LIFE flicked me in the knuckles a hard as it could.

And I'm still standing.

I'm not telling you all of this so you'll feel sorry for me. I'm not telling you this so you'll think I'm awesome or noble.

You might think I'm brave or exceptionally strong, but I promise you, I'm not any braver or stronger than YOU are capable of being.

That's the point.

Following a dream is hard. Some days, it straight up SUCKS! But it can be done. I'm living proof that it can be done, and that you can accomplish more than you think you can.

My graphic design business is coming around. Slowly but surely. I also have picked up a part-time graphics gig with my church.

We're getting there. But we never would have if we'd flinched. If we had quit, we'd never know what it felt like to get to the finish line.

In some ways, I'm not sure we ever will get there. I think it's going to be a lifelong journey that is difficult. Difficult -- but worth it.

So don't quit. Don't give up. If you were called to something, chase after it with everything you have. It's why you were put here, and someone is watching you who needs to be inspired.

What dream are you chasing? 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sometimes, You Just Need to Shut Up

For months, I had little to no work as a freelance graphic artist. There were days when I thought it would never turn around, and I'd need to pick up a pizza delivery job, just to be able to make ends meet.

Things are still pretty tight, but within the past few weeks, business has picked up tremendously. It's been really good.

Then, this weekend, I had an issue with a client. I won't go into details, but it had to do with a check written and the way the client wanted to handle straightening things out.

I was really flustered by the whole thing, and I took to Facebook to vent and get feedback from friends (particularly my fellow freelancers), regarding how they thought I should respond.

The response was loud and clear.

Though they were all very kind and diplomatic with their words of wisdom, the prevailing commentary was essentially a reminder that I should be grateful for having work at all, and that I needed to extend extra grace to the client.

They weren't wrong, and it wasn't rocket science. I guess I just needed to hear it.

It's just remarkable to me that I even did need to hear it, you know? Why can't I be grateful for what I have? Why can't I just grin and bear it and extend grace when people do things that don't merit such a response?

I'm a slow learner, but I'm thankful that God does extend that extra grace to me.

Sometimes, you need to ask for wisdom. Sometimes, you need to surround yourself by friends who care enough to speak truth into your life. Sometimes, you need to slow down and not act hastily.

Sometimes, you just need to shut up.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Funhouse: Jan. 18, 2012

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Satan Never Takes a Vacation

Everything was going great.

Honestly, everything still is. Within the past few weeks, I picked up several web design clients. I picked up a part time job working with people I love and doing things I enjoy. I have a wife, a baby and a house I love. I don't skip meals (as evidenced by the growing tightness of all of my clothes).

But today has sucked.

It shouldn't have. I should be happy. My wife and son are off on a play date, so I should be being productive and kicking life's behind.

But I'm not.

I had to take the trash out in the rain. The weather sucks. It's been raining for three days and I'm over it. I'm tired, because the previous three days have just bulldozed me, and I've had little to no breaks since Saturday.

I also now have a couple of clients who are doing what they do best and are being finicky about "sealing the deal" to use me as their web designer. I should deal with it better, but when potential clients do this kind of stuff, I want to call them and tell them I have an overdue mortgage and a baby boy to feed. People are selfish and think the world revolves around them. I'm sure of it.

(Sidenote: No, the fact that this little rant is fairly self-involved is not lost on me.)

I have a "to do list" that I don't think will get done. I'm overwhelmed.

The Christmas decorations need to be put away. The towel rack in the bathroom STILL needs to be fixed. I have paperwork to fill out. Phone calls to make. Bills to pay.

I feel like I'm tied to 15 different horses, and it's just a matter of time before something spooks them and I'm ripped into pieces.

So, I've been less productive today than I should have been. That's not to say I've done nothing. I've done a lot. But not enough.

And I don't want to do anything.

I want to turn off all the lights, silence my phone, lay down on the couch under a blanket and watch movies all day.

Satan doesn't take vacations.

He seeks to devour and destroy us. He knows I was happy. He senses the awesome way God has been and is still moving in our lives. If he can get me to be depressed and despondent, he wins.

And I lose.

So, I'm not going to let that happen. But I am going to sit here for a few minutes longer before I really kick it into gear.

I might even watch a movie.

Author's note: Posts like these can come off as pandering. Specifically, pandering for encouragement. Totally not the case. Me writing this post was my "pick me up." I only hope that posts like these radiate with you in a way that shows you you're not alone. WE'RE not alone. We all feel this way. We all have to get up.