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Sep 18, 2017

When I Make Something For You, I Am Offering You My Humanity

Earlier this year, I agreed to complete a woodworking project for my wife. Actually, I offered and volunteered myself to do it. She has a particular storage need in her office, and because of the weird layout, access issues, scale, etc, it's not something that exists anywhere. It has to be custom built, and installed in the space.

The truth is, I've been avoiding it. It's a big project, and it was easy to move to the bottom of the project list when it was the height of summer. We had houseguests coming in and out of our home, and the days were long and full of activity. 

But now, that season is over, and it's time to start building. I realized this week why I've been putting it off: I'm afraid. It's beyond my skill level, and requires a lot of moving parts that need to line up, just so. In any other situation, this wouldn't be something I'd agree to do, because it's too big of a leap; I need to learn to do too many new skills inside the same project. 

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Aug 30, 2017

7 Idioms, Adages, and Old Sayings That Are Actually Pretty Good Pieces of Advice

You know the ones. Those classic, advice-supplying stock phrases that might be from Shakespeare but could be a religious text and/or folk wisdom, yet we all seem to absorb nonetheless. Those almost-too-simple lines that are always shared by well-meaning people in sometimes appropriate, but usually irrelevant, situations that don't actually apply.

But, I suspect that we all have a few of these that actually do make sense to us. True, "a penny saved is a penny earned," doesn't really resonate with or motivate me. But I know it's a code that many people organize their lives around. Nor do I agree that you should "never go to bed angry."

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Jun 21, 2017

7 Things I'm Totally Obsessed with This Month (June 2017 Edition)

These are thoughts, the artwork, the news stories, the tools, the food, the conversations, and whatever else we just can't get out of our heads this month.  

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Jun 19, 2017

How to Say "I'm Sorry" Like You Mean It

Newsflash, amigos. Sometimes we mess up, and sometimes we need to say we're sorry. But if offering an apology starts with the line "I'm sorry if you," then you're not actually apologizing; you're simply expressing your own regret that you and the other party are not on the same page....namely, that they don't agree with you. In fact, we're deeming the word "if" inappropriate for apologies altogether. The other person can never be the subject of an apology.

 If you're apologizing, you're the subject not just of the opening clause, but the whole paragraph: it is you that is sorry, you who owns the responsibility for the conflict in the first place, and therefore you who needs to put things back together again. An apology is not an opportunity for you to move past the other person's offense in an argument so you can return to making your same point as before. The apology is a pivot point that changes the nature of the conversation altogether.    

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Jun 07, 2017

You Are Exactly What You Do, So Make It Count

Point blank: life is too short to do something you hate. The core of me believes that, but, when things get tough, I forget. All jobs trade our hours for dollars. But we must strive to do more than just survive. 

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Jun 01, 2017

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Inner DIYer

created at: 08/11/2015

When you're new to the world of DIY, starting even the smallest of projects can be a daunting task. How much money will it cost me? How much time will I waste? Do I even know what I'm doing? Questions like these can easily deflate a well planned weekend of hard work when you're not comfortable with yourself and your abilities. 

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May 31, 2017

These Are Questions You Should Be Asking Around the Campfire

Have you noticed? It's summer! It's the time of year when we dust off the backyard with friends and linger late into the night. There are so many great conversations I remember around a flickering fire, and I'm looking forward to more this year. But good conversations don't always come easy, so here are a few tips to get into the kind of convos you'll remember for years. 

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May 23, 2017

How To Handle Someone Else's Win (And How You Can Win Too)

It's the classic finish to every story. The hero overcomes the odds, beats the villain, and rises victorious from the ashes of his enemy. But is that how life really works? The real world doesn't seem to support such a clear-cut approach to how we "win". My experience so far tells me a very different story, and we'd all be better off if we marched to a much different rhythm.  

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May 10, 2017

5 Traits Of A Life Well Spent

A few days ago, I listened to a eulogy for someone I didn't know. He was a friend of a friend, and passed away much too young. But it was clear from the message at his service that in his short life, he made an amazing impact on those around him. He was dealt a truly short hand in life, with serious obstacles, but through the words of others, his story made me, someone he never met, experience amazement and ultimate respect. His short, hard life was thoughtful, impactful, and a direct challenge to me to spend my time well. Here are my thoughts on how I plan to be remembered.  

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Apr 06, 2017

Instilling the Habit: How to Start Something Hard

The older we get, the harder it becomes to start new habits...and break old ones. We begin in earnest, but soon we fall back; the good seem to slip, and the bad seem to creep in. The best way to keep yourself accountable is to ask yourself this simple question (looking into a mirror is optional):

Am I doing what I want?     

 

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Mar 20, 2017

Yes, Every Man Needs A Journal. Here's Why.

I spent some time last week making a few DIY journals, and it made me think a bit about why I always have a stack of them filling my shelf. After looking through a few in the pile, I decided yes, they're definitely worth the effort. Here are a few reasons why.  

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Mar 15, 2017

Play the Long Game: Why You Should Commit Now to Commit Later

Let your big goals be long ones.

Don't think: "I want to write a book."

Instead think: "I am going to work on a book this year, and next year, and the year after that."

It's empowering to shift your timeframes this way, and I encourage you to try it. Here's why:

Long-term goals are commitments

Short term goals are small aspirations. They're about things you want, not about the person you want to become. When you let yourself to approach something over a period of years, or even decades, you make bigger choices and commitments about who you want to be.

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Feb 24, 2017

How I Succumbed to the Soothing Repetition of Routine (and Why I'm Happy About It)

I used to hate when things were the same. I grew up in a family where everything was always changing. We never ate the same thing twice, we had no hallowed holiday traditions, no yearly vacation spot, no alarm clocks, no bedtimes, no church, no chore chart or laundry days. We did everything ad hoc, on the fly, winging it from sun up to sunset.

Sometimes, on a weekend morning, we'd leave the house, all of us together, with some vague destination in mind – maybe a museum or a park – and end up somewhere completely different (a cemetery or a different state). If we went out to dinner to celebrate a birthday, we usually chose the

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Jan 12, 2017

This Nearly 2,000-Year-Old Piece of Advice May Help You Wake Up & Get Out of Bed in the Morning

If you're a morning person — congratulations. Seriously, we're legitimately happy for you. The ability to sleep well, feel rested, and then be ready to get going nice and early is a real gift, and you're lucky to be wired that way.

For the rest of us, mornings can be rough. Especially in the wintertime, when it's dark, and cold, and tens of thousands of years of natural selection are encouraging you to stay hibernating so you can protect your genes from freezing off. 

But, of course,

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Jan 03, 2017

How to Win the Argument..Without Losing the Friend

I love to connect with others to hear about the gems they've mined out of life lately. But, sharing ideas and experiences isn't always easy, especially when we don't agree. When we all meet at the collective table, whether it's a family get-together or coffee with friends, some disagreement is inevitable. But just because they're missing something or making a logical leap doesn't mean you have to fight. Here are a few tips to remember the next time a conversation steers down that road.  

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Dec 29, 2016

If You Actually Want Your New Year's Resolutions to Stick — Do This, Not That

There's lots of scientific research on why setting goals on January 1 never really works out, and by March or April, we've all backslided into our old habits. Often, it's because goals aren't specific enough, or we haven't found the best way to track the work we've done. Or, perhaps we don't actually believe we can achieve that new version of ourselves for the long term.   

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Dec 28, 2016

40 Ways to Be a Better Man in 2016

created at: 12/29/2015
On this day a year ago, we shared this post on ManMade. We're bumping it to the top again to see if there's anything you tried this year that really impacted your life. Share your thoughts in the comments, please. 
 

A new year brings new opportunities to continue to grow. You don't have to tackle every item. Just pick five that resonate with you, and see what good you can do.   

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Dec 09, 2016

Inspired: Some Favorite Quotes to Get You Moving (and Keep You Sane) This Weekend

If you hadn't noticed, I'm kinda into quotes as of late. (See my how-to for creating a wooden desktop inspiration holder) For some reason, this season, I'm touched by the power of keeping a few mantras in the front of my mind. It's been helpful as I meet new people, work to improve old relationships, and just get through the daily grind. Here are a few of my favorites this week. 

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Dec 06, 2016

How a Decade Changed My Idea of Success

Ever thought about how a decade changes everything? A lot has changed, and I'm looking back at how that has made a huge difference in how I define success.  


I turned 34 yesterday. Like many 30-something birthdays it came and went with a bit of well-wishing and then was quietly another day. Not to say I didn't enjoy it but it was a different enjoyment, a mature moment where I did what I wanted with the time and then settled back into the thrum of daily life. Of course, I use this yearly event to take a breath and look at how far I've come, and how a bit of life under my belt has changed everything.

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Nov 28, 2016

What Song Do You Want Played at Your Funeral?

Over the holiday weekend, as we were digesting our second plate of leftovers, we stumbled across the 1983 film, The Big Chill. My mom, being the definition of a baby boomer, had seen it countless times and could list every track name on the soundtrack. My wife, being the child of baby boomers who happened to own it on VHS as a child, had also seen it repeatedly, and was full of quotes and minor plot points. And then there was me, who simply hadn't gotten around to it. 

So, long story short, we put it on, and did that combo chatting, reading magazine, and movie watching thing that families do over holidays.    

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