Posted by: Brad Stanford | April 16, 2017

What Would Happen If You Got What You Wanted?

Whenever I ask a random person what they need, the answer is pretty universal: “More money! They say this because they have confused a tool with a solution. Most people do this with their dreams:

“If I could only ________ then I wouldn’t have to worry about ________.”

Note that the problem is worry, not whatever is in blank number two. This would be an actual solution: “If I could only stop giving worry permission to enslave me, then I wouldn’t have to worry about anything.” That’s a solution that would actually end worry, rather than increasing it like more money tends to do.

The most notorious dream along these lines is winning the lottery. “If I could just win the lottery, then…”

But a different notorious – The Notorious B.I.G – famously rapped about Mo Money, Mo Problems in 1997: “The mo money we come across the mo problems we see.” Or, take Jim Carrey who said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” King Solomon wrote an entire book called “Ecclesiastes” that described how when he denied himself no pleasure on the earth, he found it was all chasing after the wind, a waste of time.

Listen to Joe Elliott, lead singer of Def Leppard, who said he got in a band specifically to get rich and have all the women he wanted: “It got really boring after a while. It was just too easy. Women throwing themselves at you every night.” I know, I know – a devastating reality check for aspiring band members  and, well…men…everywhere.

What about Will Smith?: “We spend money that we do not have, on things we do not need, to impress people who do not care.” This from a man who had a hit single before he graduated high school. He purchased a giant home, gave money to friends and family, and said he did stupid things like buy 22 pairs of the same shoe, in all different colors. He was often paid in cash and paid no taxes, as almost every high schooler would do, I’m sure, seeing as receiving large amounts of cash does not suddenly make one an expert on taxes or investment. When the Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air came on, Smith was paying 70% of those earnings to the IRS for the first three years of the show.

And after all that, his advice was: “We spend money that we do not have, on things we do not need, to impress people who do not care.”

What’s the deal with all these guys? A lot of times, we tend to say, “Easy for them to say – they got what they wanted!” But we give ourselves way too much credit for thinking we would act any differently. See, there’s a secret about waiting for your ship to come in: nothing really changes about you.

If I move you into a bigger house with servants to take care of your daily needs along with a budget to match, nothing has really changed. You’re the same person you were minutes ago now suddenly thrust into a new scenario you’ve never even been close to before. You haven’t earned the ability to maintain the gift, so you’re destined to squander it. We aren’t wired for sudden maturity. Think about what would happen to your body if you went from age five to age twenty overnight. It hurts enough going from 11 years 20 says to 11 years and 21 days, as growing pains testify.

The best way to enjoy something is to court it, learn about it, prepare for it, then commit to it. Sometimes this is referred to as “work” or even “hard work”. However, a better description is “patience”. Indeed, patience might be one of the most impressive things you ever accomplish.

I love flying. I’ve entered sweepstakes to win airplanes. Truth be told, I was scared of winning. After winning there are sudden responsibilities that I know about, but have never had to exercise, like renting a hangar, purchasing aircraft insurance, and paying for maintenance. Thankfully, I’ve never won. I also decided to quit entering those contests until I had the resources to actually enjoy the gift rather than worry about it.

Committing to the pursuit of something you want without considering the cost of achieving it is sentencing yourself to a life of cruel and unusual punishment. This would be like a girl spending all of her growing up years planning her dream wedding, only to find out that there’s a whole lot of married life to be had after the wedding that she never planned for.

Not that such a thing ever happens.

If I were give you the desires of your heart this very second, what would you do? Would you be able to keep the gift and care for it, or have you not thought past the getting?

We imprison ourselves for years trying to achieve something that we have never learned to maintain because we spent all those years getting it rather than earning it. When all of your energy is spent on access rather than training, it’s a recipe for disaster.

If I actually won that sweepstakes airplane, and jumped into it without training, I would increase the number of wrecked airplanes on the planet by a factor of one. So then what should I do? Start saving up for an airplane over time so I don’t rush into it?

No! All that becomes is a slow-motion lottery.

What I really need to do is spend a little money on some flight training. Then maybe learn how to wash an airplane properly so I don’t break anything. It might be a good idea to talk to long-time pilots about the long-term effects of owning an airplane. Maybe hang out in that community constantly and meet people and make friends. Each step actually brings me closer to owning an airplane the right way: by earning it. Not monetarily, but through actual steps that train me in the art of being an owner-operator, and not just a dreamer.

The goal, then, is not really owning an airplane but flying an airplane myself. Once viewed that way, the path to the goal changes into something achievable.

When I was a boy with posters of airplanes on my wall, I imaged what it was like to fly them. As I got older, I got some flight training and even earned my Airline Dispatch ticket, which is flight planning for the airlines. Once I got to see what aviation was really like, the romance of it all faded away. When I realized I still loved it even without the romance, I knew for sure that I should somehow continue to pursue it as life allowed. But it no longer possessed me.

Few people have been able to pilot an airplane during their existence. At some point I have to be satisfied with that, and let everything else be icing on that cake.

Your goal should be to not waste your time on something that ultimately disappoints. You have to spend a lot of time as a wannabe to figure that out before commitment. That takes patience, which we don’t like, especially in America. But it’s far better to learn how to be content while exploring your options, than suddenly having all things given to you, only to be disappointed when nothing changes.

Avoid the mistakes of those who thought accomplishing their dreams would solve all their problems. Learn first how to be a person that solves problems while being content. Then when mo money bring mo problems, you’ll be ready.

Don’t count on your dreams to fix things. Count on you. And if that’s harder to accept than believing in some fictitious ship to come in, start there. After all you’ve been through, you’re still around to read this. Do you understand yet how strong you are?

Jesus was right: you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Posted by: Brad Stanford | March 10, 2017

I Was Reminded Of You

I saw an amazing thing last night, and it reminded me of you.

I was at a fun little pageant that was designed to let little girls aged 5-7 dress up in beautiful fancy dresses and feel good about themselves, with friends and family cheering them on.

They get to do the pageant thing of walking the stage and having their bio read. And then, at the end of their walk, they get asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Each year, this mostly goes off without a hitch, and with some interesting responses. But tonight was a bit different.

There was one girl who was beautifully out of place. Her ethnicity was different than all the others. Although multiple ethnicities were represented, she was the only one of her background there. She looked like a storybook little girl that would grow up to be a storybook princess. Disney artists have been striving to draw someone like her for years. She was so peaceful. Her smile was charming. She had perfect posture. Everything seemed to be just right.

But when it came time for her to answer her question, something happened. Something subtle, yet profound occurred right there in front of everyone. As the MC knelt down with the microphone and started to say, “What do you want to be…,” a single, transparent tear slid down her left cheek. The MC didn’t stop, and neither did the girl. She answered the question with the same peace and poise with which she had ascended the stage.

“A dentist, so I can help people be healthy.”

She said it with an air of intelligence which communicated that all that was left was the doing. There was no wavering in her voice to mirror the tear that slid silently onto the stage. Just pure presence in the face of a difficult circumstance. It was so amazing that I immediately wanted to start a trust fund for her dentistry school. I wanted her to know that with such strength , she would be able to be whatever she wanted.

Then, I thought of you.

I thought of all that you’ve been through to get this far. I thought of that time there was no other way but to face your fear, and you did. I thought of how inspiring you are. I thought how important it is for you to be proud about who you are and what you want to be. I thought about how you usually don’t see yourself that way, but you should.

“Adult” merely describes your physical maturity level. In a universe that’s been around awhile, every last one of us is a child, exploring a world that’s always slightly different than the one our parents knew. No one has this down. Even the ones who seem to have everything together can be brought to tears if placed on a certain stage. No: this life – your life – is the first time your life has ever been lived. But learn this from a seven-year-old princess: you can make it through the tough questions, and get safely off the stage.

Then you can move on to being whatever you wish.

Posted by: Brad Stanford | March 4, 2017

Joy

Imagine, if you will, that I invited you to a bonfire. You arrive to discover that the bonfire is a mere six inches high and twelve inches across.

That’s not the expectation set by the word “bonfire”. It would burn out quickly, and unimpressively.

But take that same size, make it a pile of red-hot coals, and put it in my stove, and I can warm the entire front end of my house during winter.

This is the difference between happiness and joy.

Happiness is an emotion that burns brightly. It’s the bonfire, the party, the good times of the experience spectrum. Joy, however, takes time to build. To understand, think of building a fire.

On any given winter’s morning, you can find me repeating the same ritual: pile some kindling in the stove, get it lit, wait. Add larger kindling, wait. Add a log. Wait one hour, add another log. Wait another hour or two, poke the logs into pieces. Add more logs. And so forth.

By 10 or 11 am, I’ll have a decent pile of coals, and a warm house. By evening, it could be too hot, if I’ve run it full of wood all day long. Those small pieces of burning wood all pushed together sure doing amazing work. But it sure takes a lot of time.

A block of time in our lives can be heated by a number of things: a fantastic experience, a narrow escape, a devastating blow. Pile those things together in the stove, and you get the  glow of joy. That is, if you know why all those things are so valuable. The good times are obviously valuable. They are self explanatory, to the point that people worship them. Ironically, people will abandon everything from common sense to their families in search of the next happy moment. They chase happy moments like they are the most important things on the earth,

But bad times are also part of the equation of joy. In the same way the good times reveal the wiring of your pleasure center, the bad times reveal your character. It is through the successes, failures, and improvements of our character that the bad times become contributors to joyfulness – joy-fullness. In this way, the bad times become highly valuable.

The great indicator of not understanding the value of the bad times is bitterness. Bitterness comes because bad times are always taking something from us, and we get tired of the bully, yet we feel powerless to do anything about it. So we chase the good times. Rinse and repeat. This seemingly endless cycle births hopelessness. Hopelessness then solidifies the idea that the majority of life will always be bad. We get bitter not only about what we have already lost, but what we’ve decided will be lost in the future.

And this is the secret of joy: joy is just as much present-future as bitterness is. Just as bitterness accounts for the present gain that will be lost in the future, joy accounts for the harvest that will be reaped from the present sufferings. Bitterness calls the game before it starts. Joy lets the dame play out before declaring a winner.

Like fire, experiences show up, burn, and disappear, leaving behind only photographs and memories, as Jim Croce would say. You can stand in the middle of them and get burned up with them, or you can learn to position yourself outside of them, and be warmed by them.

Joy is both a choice and a gift. The gift is getting through the experiences that could have been devastating, but weren’t. You can then choose what to take away from those experiences. If you consider it dumb luck that you’re still here, or are simply braced for the next bad experience, joy will be continually out of reach, something that is only possible over there, where the grass is greener.

But if you can stop for a moment of reflection and see that no one owed you that last breath you inhaled and yet you received it, that is the beginning of joy. More than just counting your blessings, it’s the ability to see the purpose of those unmerited favors in the grand scheme of things.

Happiness is fantastic, for sure, just like fireworks are beautiful to watch. However, chasing explosions seems less useful than sitting next to the fire warming oneself in the middle of cold days. Joy is a far better measure of life than happiness. Your ability to see or estimate how the events in your life connect to your destiny will tell me more about your quality of life than your lists of favorite activities and pet peeves. Quality of life comes from what you’re able to handle, not what you’re able to do.

Joy comes from knowing the result of getting through the next thing, good or bad.

The secret to joy, then, is going through things, not escaping from them.

Posted by: Brad Stanford | February 25, 2017

Back From The Dark Side Of The Moon

Sorry for the delay in posting, recently. I hope you’re still up for some life observations and encouragement. In that vein, I have three posts for you: one about what your life is for, one discussing rising above, and one about turbulence.

I see my job as that of a photographer. I’ve said before that I like and dislike photos for the exact same reason – they show me incredible moments in time that I missed. I see my reflections on life in the same way. I offer you images and angles seen as only I can see them. And like any other art, the intent is reflection, increased awareness of the world, and a vehicle for exploring yourself.

If you’ve been wondering what happened to me and why you haven’t heard from me lately, start with Turbulence. Otherwise, enjoy the freedom to receive encouragement in any order you wish.

Posted by: Brad Stanford | February 25, 2017

Turbulence

Previously, I wrote from 30,000 feet. Today, I’m on the return trip. But there was an interesting difference on this flight.

Turbulence.

Aside from the toll it takes on the airframe, I quite enjoy turbulence. That’s because it lets me know I’m in flight. Otherwise I’m just sitting there. Of course, the side of me that wants to read, type, or not spill drinks in one or multiple laps begs to differ. But the flight side always laughs and says, “Too bad, suckers!” and throws his hands up, enjoying the roller coaster.

Turbulence in its most basic form is a section of air that is moving differently than the air around it. This actually bothers no one, and that’s important to understand. It only affects an object that enters that space. This is unlike tornadoes or hurricanes which tend to seek out trailer parks and gulf coast states, respectively, as if trying to meet a yearly quota. Turbulence moves, but far more mindlessly, itself being pushed around by other forces, rather than being a force of its own.

Airplanes are trying to get from one place to another. They move through sections of air to do so, and lots of them. This is the equivalent of running through all the front yards of all the neighborhoods in your city. Eventually, you will find the old man that yells, “Get off the lawn!” He did not go looking for you. You found him. That old man is turbulence.

After a month or more of turbulence in my business life, I finally have found some smooth air. This does not mean I have arrived. Please don’t confuse the two. Smooth air is simply the space between pockets of turbulence, a place of temporary peace. This is the moment we can reflect and change course if necessary, or be honest about our course, and reset for the next encounter. This is where I find myself: now at 39,000 feet, with periodic small jostles that remind me we’re still flying, and there is still the potential to run into something rough up ahead.

When you think you have arrived – you just finished getting everything stabilized after a lot of hard work – and you hit turbulence, it’s a double shock. The first shock is the actual jolt itself, when suddenly what used to be dependable no longer is. We tend to be disagreeable with this condition. The second shock comes from being surprised by the instability. You have to be able to admit that you fooled yourself. You thought you had landed, but you’re actually still in flight.

The faster you can get through the second shock of realizing you are in flight and turbulence is to be expected, the faster you can free yourself from the anger caused by the interruption.  This is critical for handling the turbulence.

Expected or not, planning your reaction to turbulence in advance can determine how you emerge on the other side. There are three possible outcomes: 1) continued shock, 2) neutral and 3) ready. If you end up in condition 1, it means you now must get yourself back to neutral before being able to get ready for the next encounter. If you are neutral about it, you can immediately begin planning for the next occurrence. Ready means that your plan for handling rough spots worked – as in shock absorber – and you have to spend zero energy on preparedness.

It is this last case that makes things smooth, even when they aren’t. Giving turbulence a place defuses its ability to mess with things. The wings on an airplane flex in the bumpy air. If they did not, the wings would be torn off. Thus, turbulence is not allowed to have full reign, and disaster is averted.

If you are finding wave after wave of things happening, look for what stiffness can be jettisoned. The kryptonite to Super Turbulence is flexibility. More often than not, it is our unwillingness to let go that gives turbulence free reign. Notice, too, that I didn’t say to seek fairness or justice. Sometimes letting go of what you are duly owed is the best shock absorber.

After all, what does the universe actually owe anyone? It’s more like the old man of the neighborhood is making a concession: I’ll let you stay on my lawn as long as you make yourself useful.

But he’ll still yell at you now and again. No one is surprised by this. 

You shouldn’t be either.

From 39,000 feet, somewhere over the great southwest, I wish flexibility, readiness, and de-fool-ation in your general direction.

Don’t be shocked. Be ready.

Posted by: Brad Stanford | February 25, 2017

The View From Thirty Thousand Feet

At 30,000 feet over the Southwestern desert, I’m reminded of a word that was spoken over me about my love of airplanes and flying: “You’re supposed to be above it all.”

I find myself in the middle of a story where old things are ending and new things are starting (or startling, depending on what they are). We all know from the house-flipping craze that the first step to a remodel is bringing in the demolition crew. And while it looks exciting and encouraging in its edited form, being surrounded by swinging sledge hammers and flying debris day in and day out is somewhat difficult. In fact, it’s easy to start believing that this is how it will be from now on: all destruction, all the time.

Truth be told, that has happened and can happen. We’re not that dumb – if it rains, we go inside. If fire breaks out, we escape. If the circumstances start to crumble, we’re smart enough to run. It’s not rocket science.

Except, in this case, it’s not always right to get out of difficult circumstances. Ask anyone who quit exercising if they got more healthy by doing so. Some scenarios are meant to chisel of off you what doesn’t belong so you can become the beautiful thing you’re meant to be.

Here’s the rub: the last time you started a season, the same thing happened. It chiseled you. You lost something. You grew to appreciate what was left. And just as you made peace with it, the chisel struck again, and you lost something. Perhaps something bigger (or a lot of littles – same thing).

We seem fixated on getting stabilized, not realizing that we are pottery in progress. No wonder so many are unhappy, unhopeful, and content to be tossed around by life. They spend their time getting calloused so nothing will hurt, not understanding that pain is important. And getting uncalloused takes a lot of rest and attention that life does not gracefully make room for.

As I watch the wings flex in the relative wind outside my window, I am reminded how efficient birds are. When we copied them, we tried to make wings that were stiff enough to support us, but light enough to fly. Birds not only have that covered, but they include the mechanical complexity to fold and store them away in a space so small, you hardly notice them. We eventually learned that flexibility is not an option for wings, if you want to fly comfortably. The degree of flex is up for debate, but you will flex. Stability and flexibility are brothers, not enemies.

Our best course of action is to learn to flex with the situations we encounter. That means less pride. It means not being an enforcer but an example. It also means being an expert on who you are. Only then can we have peace during demolition, fun as we learn the new stage, and find ourselves above it all.

Because it’s really beautiful up here.

Posted by: Brad Stanford | February 25, 2017

Your Life Is Just For You

Your life is just for you.

You are the only one that experiences things your way. Taking photos or movies from your perspective might help communicate your perspective, but it doesn’t replicate your feelings. Telling the story might explain your feelings, but you can’t make another person feel them. Your life is designed to be experienced by you.

I used to be afraid of being forgotten. Or worse, being misrepresented after I was gone. But what I’ve come to understand is that it doesn’t matter. I get to experience this place on my way to another. It doesn’t matter if you understand how I experienced it, or if you even know that I existed. What matters is that I live my life without the burden of requiring that I communicate it to others. And especially without the impossible assignment of making sure that they think about me the way I want them to think.

The real trigger for me getting past my fear was this: I discovered I’m already misunderstood. I also became keenly aware of my inability to completely understand another person. It seemed obvious that the plot line of the story that’s being written is not how people understand each other. Instead I’m supposed to be writing my own story, and let different pieces of it impact different people in whatever way happens naturally.

This is not an excuse for selfishness. In the same way that my life is meant for me to experience, there are certain things that only I can accomplish. Not accomplishing them might injure or break people, places, or things. So the race is on to figure out who I am and what I’m supposed to be doing at each stage in my life, to maximize impact.

This is different than maximizing one’s experiences. There are certain people called to do that as a lifestyle, for sure. But it’s not all of us. Neither does that negate the desire to make each activity the best it can be. It’s how you measure “best” that makes the difference. You have to learn what’s best for you so you don’t spin your wheels trying to do what you perceive everyone else to be doing.

Legacy has some value, but it simply expands influence. There is no personal gain for legacy. Since the impact happens after you die, you can’t even feel good about your legacy because it hasn’t happened yet. But legacy is actually about what you did while you were here. Focusing on leaving an incredible impact behind is like trying to make peripheral vision the main way you look at things. That’s not how it works.

Like most of life, there is an irony about being known, understood, or remembered. You have to give them up to get anywhere close to them. Focus on what you are doing, and do it well. People are only able to think about it what their perspective allows them too.

When trying to watch clouds from the bottom of the pool, the depth of the water matters a lot. Getting rid of the distractions between you and your calling is critical to happiness. And don’t worry if you’re not sure of your calling. It will find you.

Posted by: Brad Stanford | February 3, 2017

Recovering From A Bad Week

[Read with the voice of Morpheus.]

Perhaps you’ve had had one of those weeks that made you say, “Really? Out of all the ways a week could go, you had to go like that?”

Maybe you’re finishing one right now.

When you find yourself peace-less in the midst of a situation, it tells me that something is being exposed in you that needs some attention. Not an attitude that needs to be adjusted, but a wound that needs some protection and healing. A place of deep hurting that just got touched by the air.

A broken bone gets a cast. A headache gets aspirin. A cut gets a band-aid. What happens when you find a mental or spiritual injury? What do you apply? How do you protect it from infecting the rest of you? How do you bring it back into proper alignment?

Many will try to self-medicate with sex, drugs, alcohol, or rock and roll. Perhaps they will lose themselves in a few hours of watching television. They will order their favorite pizza, go to their favorite club, or text with their friends for hours.

But this simply numbs the pain for a few moments. When morning comes, the same problems exist. Nothing has changed. And they will eventually have a bad day, week, or month all over again.

But you…you are the one. The only you. You are a limited and valuable resource. You may be valuable every minute of the day, or you might have one perfect moment on the earth that changes everything for every person. But your purpose is important.

If you have had one of these difficult days or weeks, There is one thing that you must do.

Believe.

Believe that the force you have created in pursuit of your purpose has created a natural – and impersonal – reaction. If you punch the punching bag, does it not come back in your direction with the same force?

Believe that when you do good things that bring you closer to understanding your destiny, there is an equal and opposite reaction in nature to try and return you to neutral. These are reactions to your chosen actions.

When you begin to rise above, to believe, to see further than you’ve ever seen before – when you’ve invested great effort into something creative or meaningful, there is a natural force that will try to burn it down. In a fire, both the fuel and the fire die, once again returning to a state of equilibrium. No more fuel, no more fire, just leftover, unburnable ashes.

When you strive to do something – from just surviving, to changing the world – you become vulnerable in the universe. If you build a tower of blocks, gravity is not content until the blocks have found equilibrium on the ground. If you try to be more than “normal” – which is what being yourself is all about – you will inevitably expose the forces that were holding you down to begin with. The higher you go, the more you will be assaulted by those forces.

It’s not personal. It’s natural.

Do you have the audacity to believe that normal is not for you? Will you try to numb the pain with pizza, Netflix, and Facebook? Or do you dare to believe that the reason you’re experiencing difficulty is because you’ve discovered something important? Perhaps to reach the next level, you have to tend to this wound that will be a hindrance to you. You’ve been walking to this point, but at the next level you need to run. You’ve just exposed something that will slow you down. It’s time to deal with it.

So if your week got all over you, turned you around, flipped you upside down, and didn’t apologize for doing so, and you reacted to it, there is a muscle that needs strengthening. You need to get rest for your mind, get centered spiritually, and decide who you are. The King’s son reacts to trouble by calling for the guards to come help him. The poor son must defend himself, or run away.

If you know who you are, you will know what to do.

Believe that you are the King’s son for just one moment, and see if you get your peace back.

Trust me.

===============
[Brad voice]
I had a week that laughed at my plans, my efforts, my sanity, and my peace. This was actually me writing to myself as a way to reset. Hearing it in Morpheus’s voice sounded much more convincing than my own. I post it here for anyone else who has had, is having, or will have a difficult week.

Posted by: Brad Stanford | January 30, 2017

Angry Monday

Monday has been angry today. But it’s not really Monday’s fault.

It started last week. At the last minute, we were invited to be subjects in a world-famous photography boot camp. We had been subjects two years prior, but couldn’t do it last year for some reason. So this year we were very excited to be able to participate again.

However, this meant hat we had not planned around it. We had very much a normal schedule in a very abnormal situation, and that lead to tripping over some things, so to speak. So this week already had pressure on it to account for that.

Then, this weekend’s schedule was changed. Instead of going to our normal church this weekend, we set to to check of one of my life list items, which was to see T.D. Jakes in person at the Potter’s House. It was a really great trip! But the two-hour drive there and back made for a less than restful Sunday, and left far less time for thinking through the next week than I usually have.

To relax, I worked on our house plans, but ran into a rendering error that took longer to fix than I expected. This caused me to stay up later than expected, which is always something that throws everything else off.

Since i stayed up late, I didn’t light a fire in our fire place. I checked the temperature, and it was only 51°. My threshold for a fire is 45°, and it wasn’t going to get there until 3am. What I forgot to check is the wind. If the wind is blowing and there’s no fire drafting air up and out, then it’s all down and in. This allowed the cold wind to blow down the pipe all night, making it 60 degrees in my living room by the time I got up.

Additionally, I forgot to bring firewood into the house. Now I had to get up on a cold, blowing, Monday morning and go straight outside.

Then, I found out we were almost out of matches. At least, I  thought we were. My wife found some later, but all i could find at the time were two almost-empty fold & light cardboard  matches. And I didn’t have light enough kindling to be lit by one of those, because I forgot to bring that in too. I eventually went through all of them without having a fire lit, and resorted to a birthday candle lit by our gas stove.

When I finally did get something to light, it didn’t make enough heat fight the wind coming down the pipe, so it started filling the living room with smoke. This meant that I had to open the outside door to equalize the pressure, making it even colder on the inside.

In the meantime, I moved one of our heaters into the bathroom. I usually use the heater out of my office, but on this particular night, the kids had slept upstairs with us. So my son’s heater was available from his room. This meant i could continue to warm my office and the bathroom at the same time. That is, until i found out that his heater drew so much current it kept tripping the breaker in the bathroom. Troubleshooting meant running outside – again – to the breaker box to flip the breaker back on. More cold. More failure.

I got the message after three breaker trips, and decided to do what I normally do and move my heater in from my office. Except, it’s been giving me trouble lately, and sometimes won’t turn on after you move it. Which is exactly what happened this morning.

I had to call my wife down to help with the fire because she knew were everything was – paper, extra matches, etc. She got it lit pretty quick with me manning the cold open door making sure the cats didn’t run in.

Ans that was just the start to the day.

There was, of course, some other things that changed my plans throughout the day. Even now, I was supposed to read to the kids 30 minutes ago, but I’m still waiting fro them to get their stuff done and be ready. So I came to finish this up.

Everyone has days like this. While everyone is displaying their high notes on social media, I’m content to be here, with you, in the real world, reminding you that we’re all in this together. We have good days and bad days, and just some normal days.

Monday was angry, today. An I’m sure there will be an angry Monday again. But I will keep going, knowing that everything cycles. There is yin and yang, ebb and flow. Since Monday is now out of the way, it has made room for a better day tomorrow.

Upon further review, a better day happens when I do what I know to do. No laziness, no giving up early. Always finish strong, and enjoy the power in those little things that keep the machine well-oiled. The alternative is not worth the momentary lapse of energy.

Posted by: Brad Stanford | January 14, 2017

Leaving Facebook Behind

I’m closing my Facebook account today, and I’m loving every minute of it.

The things we tell ourselves about “staying connected” and such I’m sure are true for some people. But not for me. I find that the actual connection moments on Facebook are much like trying to find something to watch on Netflix. Most of the time you see lots of things, but make no commitment, and gain nothing.

Plus, we’re just now learning how short bursts of non-attention are affecting us.

But mainly, I find I’m not growing where I’m planted. It’s far more comfortable to talk to my old friends in a way that I can edit beforehand, rather than getting out with the people around me and being as human as possible. Thus, I do what humans always do – the easiest thing – and I miss opportunities to actually live. We need to share mistakes, pain, and facial expressions in our interactions. Facebook and other text-based tools are great for certain scenarios, for sure – like blog articles that require reading and reflection, for instance. :^)

But what we need – crave even – is the shared jokes, the spilled drinks, the shared smell of fresh cut grass in the neighborhood. We need to join up with people who love the same things we love. It’s amazing how valuable a starting place of common ground is to a relationship, and to social interaction. How tempered we are when there are bridges we don’t want to burn. Contrast that to people who argue online who care not if the other person walks. That’s not how we’re supposed to build relationships.

Not to mention Facebook’s whole design is to keep me there to see ads. The design is created to make the FB experience as addictive as possible. How many of you sit down to FB just to check a couple of things, and find a an hour disappearing just like that? There’s a reason for that. I wish to spend my time more productively.

Speaking of ads – scrolling through the random thoughts of people is like looking at an endless list of ads for their lives. “Hey – join me in what I’m thinking/doing/celebrating/hating/enjoying/watching/playing!” I just don’t need that kind of clamor for my attention.

In terms of time, I might – maybe – have one more chance for for a 20-year run on something. At least, with enough energy to really make some moves. An hour spent on Facebook at the very least is my hourly rate lost, and at the worst, a new opportunity lost.

It’s fascinating to #tourtheship and think about all the good things that have happened on FB. And there was a time were it was new and amazing. There was a time when it was necessary, even. But now, it’s time to do something different – deeper, and more meaningful. Hitting the delete button just now was admittedly difficult, like hitting the “buy” button on a high-dollar ebay purchase.

But the feeling of release is evidence that I’ve chosen correctly. I have broken out into a spontaneous 80s-music review tonight, enjoying the fact that everything changes now. I have a lot of things I’m looking to get done. I might even get to read a book for the first time in ages! I’m excited like I haven’t been in a long time.

There’s something about this Facebook attachment that we haven’t thought through. And we won’t understand it until it’s too late. Like how putting chili inside a hotdog is not a better idea than doing it the traditional way with the chili on the outside (I’m looking at you , Frank-n-stuff.) And my spidey senses are telling me to back away from the trouble that’s brewing before the teacher shows up to take names and assign detention. I can’t fully explain it, but I know that feeling.

Anyway, I can’t expect this to apply to anyone else, really. This is a timing thing for me. You go on and enjoy Facebook. And I’ll go do my thing. And the world will turn, the moon will go around the earth again, the sun will rise and set, and life will continue.

Perhaps with a little less noise.

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