Journeys

I read a wonderfully thought provoking quote today at the end of a book by Brandon Sanderson.  I thought it worth sharing:

“A journey will have pain and failure.  It is not only the steps forward that we must accept. It is the stumbles.  The trials.  The knowledge that we will fail.  That we will hurt those around us.

But if we stop, if we accept the person we are when we fall, the journey ends.  The failure becomes our destination.

To love the journey is to accept no such end.  I have found, through painful experience, that the most important step a person can take is always the next one.”

What will your next step be?

Pen and Paper

There is something magical that happens when pen and paper meet.  When it’s a story I am writing it is just fun to watch the characters develop and see what comes next.  When it is a picture I am drawing there is the anticipation of how it will look in the end.  If you haven’t used pen and paper to express something special to you in a while–I challenge you to try it.  I challenge you to send a letter, write a thank you note, write a story, or draw a picture.  See the magic of pen and paper.  Here is the start of a drawing I began at work today of a historic house I have seen many times.  The picture is nothing amazing but it was a magic way to spend 10 minutes.

#LightTheWorldWithBooks

Nominate your favorite #LightTheWorld participants to win good books! Every year the LDS church encourages us to focus on Christ by lighting our world with good works. This year, authors at Cedar Fort and other presses would like to say thank you to those candles on the hill. When you find a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter post that you think lights the world, please comment using the hashtag #LightTheWorldWithBooks.* Both YOU, the nominator, and YOUR FRIEND, the nominee, will automatically be entered to win one of 25 books, mailed right to the doorstep. For official rules and details on the prize books, visit nikkitrionfo.com. 

*PLEASE NOTE: If the original post is private (as many on FB and especially IG are), to guarantee we at Light The World With Books see the post, you may also share the post on our Light the World with Books Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LighttheWorldwithBooks/. A screenshot works; a share; a post that simply says who you are and who you nominated–any of that is fine. We don’t need to be technical; we just need to see you!

Christmas Gifts

When the weather starts to cool it seems there is just a natural tendency for me to break out my wood working tools.  Something about Christmas time makes me want to build something for those I love.

It has been this way since I was 12 years old.  I remember that Christmas very well.  All around me others were eagerly writing wish lists for Christmas of very expensive toys and gadgets.  I was right in there with them!  We were looking at glossy catalogs and cool stuff and each night my dreams were filled with new toys.  It’s hard not to get caught up in the hustle and bustle.  One Sunday a talk in church caused me to stop and look at my own behavior; I felt guilty and ashamed for my own  greed and avarice.

My first response is something I can’t say I am proud of—I made a colorful sign to hang in my window.  It was my own protest to the commercialism of the season.  The sign in fancy lettering read, “Bah Humbug.”  My siblings teased me and called me, “Mr. Scrooge.”  It wasn’t Christmas I was protesting with my sign, but rather the greed that had consumed me personally.  What brought me out of it was making a gift with my own two hands for someone else.
This time of year I often break out my tools to make a gift or two.  Something about the process of making a gift always brings me back to the meaning of it all.  Somehow it helps me put everything back into focus and put Christ right in the forefront of Christmas where he belongs.  Perhaps it helps me because Jesus was a carpenter.  Perhaps it’s simply the art of creation that reminds me of the creator of all things.
Last night my son came and told me of a gift he wanted to make for his sisters.  It would involve saws, nails, hammers etc.  It was the perfect way to get me back on track this season.  I am grateful for the chance to get back in touch with the master creator and make something for Christmas.
Feeling lost or frustrated this Christmas season….maybe you should try making a gift for someone you love?

Book Release and Events

I am excited to announce that my new book, “Quiet as a Church Mouse,” is officially out today!  You can find my book through my publisher Cedar Fort, or through Deseret Book, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

In addition we have three great events for this upcoming Saturday November 18th, 2017.  At 10:00 AM I will start the day at the Mendon City Library.  There will be live music, stories, art/drawing, and a Q&A opportunity.  At 1:00 PM we will be at the Hyrum City Library for a similar event.  Then at 4:00 PM we will have a party at The Book Table in Logan, Utah.  If you are in the area I hope to see you at one of these events.  If you won’t be able to make it to these events there are more coming-so hopefully we can see you next time.

Mondays

Like most people–Monday means it’s time to get back to work.

Camping trips with the scouts are done.  Hikes with the family are now pictures and fun memories.  Walks with the dog get a little shorter.  And the daily grind begins.

This morning, on a short break, I couldn’t help but make a little doodle about how I felt this morning.  I hope it makes your Monday a little better.

 

Patience-‘line upon line’

You know when I was a kid I remember going to the elementary school library.  I borrowed a book on drawing people.  The book started by having you draw a circle then add a few lines here or there.  But that circle didn’t look much like the end result a few pages later.  I didn’t want to ‘waste time’ drawing circles so I jumped right to the page with the finished picture. I did my best to draw that final picture with none of the construction lines or process.  I just jumped to the last page and gave it my all.  The end result– was a picture that looked pretty bad.  The proportions were all wrong.  The ears were next to the mouth and chin, and the legs were too long erc.  It didn’t look much like the final picture in the book.

It wasn’t the books fault, it was mine.  I chose not to tackle the project ‘line upon line.’  When we try to move too fast, when we skip the basics because we are not patient– eventually to paraphrase Isaiah, we realize we have fallen, we are broken, and we are caught up in the snare.  The trap of impatience led us to mistakes and a lot of wasted time.

On the other hand when we move slowly and with patience when we listen to those who have tread this path before, when we willing follow the best example, ‘line upon line,’ step by step we see successes.

Patience is a virtue we could all benefit from.  A virtue that could save us a lot of time snared in traps and replace it with a lot more joy.  Yet sometimes we all find ourselves skipping to the last page huh?

Perceptions

I once had a boss who told me there were three sides to every story; “your side, their side, and the truth.”  Sometimes our preconceptions or frustrations influence our perception of an experience.
A classic examples is visiting the local driver license office.  Sometimes as an outsider standing in line you see the license official acting kindly and professionally, but the person in front of you–who is yelling at the clerk, sees something very different.  I drew a simple cartoon to illustrate.

This sadly happens between friends, and family as well.  We perceive something very different from what happened when we get upset, or because we are afraid.
My friend Daniel and I went someplace together and we were turned away.  As we left and discussed what happened, his perception and mine were very different.  I was frustrated and he was quite content.  Once I looked at the situation again from his perspective I felt foolish–because he was right.
Give others a chance.  Choose not to get upset and not to demonize other people; for they too, are God’s children.

Autumn Memories

Autumn- the time of year that lasts the shortest where I live these days.  One day you are charbroiling in summer and then the next you are trying to find your winter coat because it is 30 degrees!?!

I do love seeing the leaves change from their various shades of greens to reds, yellows, and oranges.  The splash of color on this desert landscape reminds me of the vibrant fall colors of Maryland when I was growing up.  I remember the hard work and the sweet taste of apple cider, as well as preparing fields for next years planting.  I remember sitting around a campfire with other farmhands and playing guitars and singing.  I remember walking through the woods and finally taking time to visit friends that summer work kept me from seeing as often as I wished I could.

I remember using some of the last of the summer produce to help at local homeless shelters.  I remember long walks from the bus stop with my mom, and long bike rides where my fingers would get cold as the temperatures started to drop.  (Where did I put my gloves last year?).  I remember 50 mile overnight hikes with fellow scouts and friends.  (Speaking of which– the four of us really need to do that again, and invite a few more people–but no snakes on the trail this time!)  I remember so many things of autumn that make me smile.

What memories do you have of autumn that make you reach back in your memory and smile?  Please share.

Keep Trying

My grandmother was an amazing artist.  I clearly remember watching her draw and paint and I remember that feeling of awe at her talent.  I wanted to be an artist just like her.

When we got to Grandma’s house she didn’t show off her paintings, but instead she let us use her art supplies to paint something for her!  I loved how I felt when she would praise my art and hang it up with hers.  I loved her, and I loved to draw.

A couple of sad experiences when I was 12 years old changed everything, I lost all my confidence and my will to even try.  I realized my artwork was never going to be very good because I was foolish enough to compare–and I quit.  I quit drawing for about 26 years, because I wasn’t as good as I wanted.

About a year ago I decided I was just going to practice and try to be better at art.  It started with simple and cheap mediums.  Cheap paper, oil pastels, colored pencils, and pens.  I drew on and then threw away one piece after another.  I watched video tutorials and tried some more.  I carried a sketch book with me just about everywhere.  Finally things started to improve little by little.  I was spending at least 15 minutes a day drawing, sketching, painting, and doodling.  Each day I just tried.

Although my art is still not great, it is finally getting to where I don’t mind showing it.

Basset Hound in pastels.

If you have a dream don’t quit, just keep trying and you will get better.  Keep going and you will find that eventually you can look back down that trail of countless steps and see just how far you have come.  It may not be your destination yet, but it will definitely be closer to your goal.