Acceptance vs. Appreciation in a Relationship

When you are in a relationship with someone, especially a close one, there are going to be things that they do that drive you nuts. Whether it is a spouse, sibling, parent, friend, etc. There are just going to be those things that are different from how you would do them or diametrically opposed to who you are.

This is OK. It’s natural. People are different.

We can’t really ignore these things. It’s not like we can just shut off our feelings. It’s very, very, hard to turn off the way we feel.

If we just simply accept these things, that might be OK — for a while. Every time your partner does that thing you can just shrug it off. Pretend it does not bother you. Let it go — until the next time. And then the next. And all of this shrugging takes a fair amount of energy. Eventually, you will tire. It will wear you down. Then the resentment will creep in. Then, those tiny little annoyances will either become much larger annoyances or add up cumulatively be the thing that breaks your relationship in two.

I’m here to offer another path. One that I have taken.

Find a way to appreciate these things. Find the something in them that leads to why you love this person. The motivation behind the thing that drives you nutty might be the thing that makes that person a really good friend or great at their job. Find that, see it for what it is, and above all learn to appreciate it. Instead of a path to resentment, this then will become the path to deeper respect, understanding, and love.

My Friends Write Books Too

It would seem this is just the time of year for books coming out. It’s not just I that has a new book out, many of my friends do too. I thought it would be nice to make mention of those.

  • Rebuilding Blocks: How the Game of Kubb Put My Life Back Together by Garrick van Buren — Garrick is one of my closest friends and a personal mentor. Besides being a successful consultant and father of four, he also is an active tournament-level player of an ancient, nordic, strategy game called Kubb. This book is part memoir, part strategy guide, and part inspirational. But the whole thing is fantastic and a touching story of how an overworked and overwhelmed guy turned it around and now helps others do the same.

  • The Art and Science of Vaping: A Beginner’s Guide to Electronic Cigarettes by Brett Kelly — I don’t vape. I don’t plan to vape — ever. Just not something in my wheelhouse. That said, I have many friends that now do and often wonder myself what it’s all about. That’s why I’m going to purchase my friend Brett’s book. This has the “everything you need to know” part covered.

  • Consumed by Aaron Mahnke — Aaron has really impressed me with his growth as a writer after reading his last book. Therefore, I’m very much looking forward to this one. A thriller about an aspiring author who’s car breaks down in a small Rhode Island town. It’s not quite out yet but is available for pre-order.

  • Raw Materials: Collected Essays by Matt Gemmell — Matt is one of my favorite writers on the web. This is an excellent collection of his best work to date. Highly recommended.

  • The Mobile Writer by Julio Ojeda-Zapata — My friend Julio’s book has been out for a while now but it is still an excellent guide to getting writing done on your mobile devices. Tips, tricks, apps — it’s al covered here. Including case studies with many authors who write on-the-go (including your’s truly).

  • See You in Paradise: Stories by J. Robert Lennon — A well written and fun collection of short stories by a wonderful writer. He has a number of books but I’d start here. It’s a great introduction to his work.

I may add to this list as I remember others. Like I said, there’s a lot of great stuff coming out right now or real soon. Perfect for stocking up for next year’s reading goals or to give as gifts.

This Could Help — Now Everywhere


A little self promotion. My latest book, This Could Help, is now officially available on all platforms. It’s a collection of essays and asides, all of which could potentially help you in some way. Each one is purposely written to land hard and make an impact that matters.

It would make a great gift, especially for anyone in your life who could use helpful advice and encouragement. And, frankly, who couldn’t use that?

Here’s where to get it…

Of course, I would be honored if you checked out and considered buying any of my books. If you enjoy the work I do here, you will certainly enjoy those.

Thanks for everyone who has read my work in any format this year.

Items of Interest #16

Here are some things. Things you might enjoy. Things that may inform. Things that may entertain.

That should keep you busy for a while. It’s a short week so I know you weren’t planning on getting any work done anyway.

I’m a writer. Writing is how I make this world a better, friendlier, stronger place. If these words improved your day, please let me know by contributing here.

Items Of Interest #14

As I traversed the vast valley of information this past week, here are the destinations I found worthy of sending you this collection of postcards from:

  • Like my friend Andy at Woodclinched (which is a great pencil and paper related blog, by the way), I too am wondering if the Barton Fig notebook is worth the hype. This notebook’s life — like so many products these days — began as a highly successful Kickstarter project. They are now available for sale to the public. So, I have ordered one to see. Perhaps I’ll do a brief review here once it comes.

  • Of course, I’m sure it can’t out do the holy grail of paper notebooks, The Tomoe River Paper Journal

  • I just received a cover for my Hobonichi Techo journal made by One Star Leather Goods and I am blown away by it’s fit, quality, and attention to detail. The products they make are just spectacular. All hand cut and stitched. Because of this, they are currently on hold in taking new orders so that they can catch up with demand. A good problem to have and a sure sign that it is worth waiting for. I’m absolutely smitten with mine.

  • Now that I have revealed just how deep my paper problem runs, it should come as no surprise that I’m absolutely smitten with the idea of Harlequin Creature. It’s a zine where every copy is individually hand-typed by volunteers. The remainder of this will now be hand typed as the fingers of the other hand hover over the Buy Now button…

  • Joshua Ginter has a nice review of the Hellbrand Field Notes Cover I mentioned in an interview as part of Chris Gonzoles Artifacts series. If you are looking for a nice cover to carry your Field Notes style notebook in, this is the one you want…

  • In case you have not noticed I’m a sucker for leather covers of all sorts. I’m probably carrying half a cow on me at any given moment.

  • Here is a lovely essay on keeping a journal and being OK with recording your life offline. I love this: “All you need is sentence, a word, a thought, and suddenly you remember who you actually were.”

  • I’m a bit more obsessed with paper related stuff than normal as of late. OK, fine, here is one non-paper related link…

  • My little girl only recently became obsessed with Superheroes. We actually just watched The Incredibles today. I have not seen it since it’s theatrical release. So, learning these cool background facts about the Pixar hit comes at a very opportune time. So cool!

Go out and make it a great day.

Announcing Tweet Small Change

Here’s a project that my wife and I are officially launching today. It’s called Tweet Small Change. What is it?

Tweet Small Change is a project to bestow $140.00 micro-grants given to compelling arts projects that are pitched via tweet.

In other words, we invite artists and creators to submit an idea via tweet for what they would do with $140.00. Submissions are open for 48 hours once announced. The best are chosen — up to 10 per round (i.e. each round is funded at $1400.00). All we ask is that creators share their funded projects on social networks with the hashtag #tweetsmallchange.

That’s it. No strings. No crazy submission process. Just $140.00 to make great art. And, we hope, make the world that much better, stronger, and beautiful.

The idea for this came from my wife, Bethany, who is an Arts and Non-Profit Business Consultant and has long and deep connections to the arts community. After coming home from one of the many receptions her work requires her to attend, she came home absolutely buzzing about this idea she came up with there. We talked all night and though the next day about it. And, we decided that, if we wanted to make a real difference, we had better put our money where our mouths were.

So, this first round we are funding completely ourselves. We will judge and choose the submissions and write the checks to those we pick. If this is a success, we might do it again in the future and/or invite others to help fund a round and pick some projects.

For now, we hope that people simply check it out and consider pitching their $140.00 ideas. On social media we are at:

Also, we hope you spread the word. Please share it with your friends, followers, etc. Especially if you are an artist/creator or work within that community. Because, we really do believe small changes can have big results.

Items Of Interest #12

I have a ton of stuff backlogged to share with you. Strap in…

  • Two of my favorite writer’s and makers are making the bold and honorable move to take their online writing work full time. Matt Gemmell is one of the most compelling and refreshing voices on the Internet today. Brett Terpstra is a tinkerer who has worked for years writing and producing really useful tools to make our computing lives better. Both are more than worthy of your attention and support.

  • Deckset for Mac is an app I’m keeping my eye out for. While Keynote is pretty straight forward for creating presentations, sometimes and some folks require something even faster and easier. Deckset looks like it will be perfect for fitting that bill.

  • A Reddit Quick Start Guide for Geeks Who Aren’t Into Memes and Listicals by Nick Wynja is very useful.

  • Cory Doctorow argues that digital failures are inevitable, but we need them to be graceful. In other words, the way things fail is as important as how they work. I largely agree. Still pondering this one. I like the idea quite a bit.

  • Austin Kleon has a new book coming out called Show Your Work and has started a new Tumblelog launching of of the idea called Think Process, Not Product. I’ve really been enjoying it so far.

  • John at 50ft Shadows has released the next entry in his wonderful 50ft Radio mixtape series. This series is the only music I keep on my MacBook Air.

  • Huckberry currently has some crazy good prices on Kaweco Pens. I have two of the Classic Sport Fountain’s that I use almost daily (only $19.98). Use this link to join and we each get credit (That brings the price down by $5.00). I have ordered from Huckberry before and check it twice a week. They source great products and, for a limited time, offer them at prices you are unlikely to see anywhere else.

  • Though not much of a pencil guy myself, but a pen and analog fan in general, I found myself spending more time than I really should have at Woodclinched , a site devoted to the love of wooden pencils.

  • "The idea was to create something that was simple in concept but heavy in impact." Two Words Period is out to prove how much one can say with so little. Right up my alley.

  • Black History Album …. The Way We Were. Yes. More of this please. Much respect.

Until next time, breathe deep and seek peace.

Things I Learned In 2013

With the close of the year, here is a not nearly complete list of the things I learned this past year:

  • If you decide to do something, you can do anything. All you need is to get past that comma.

  • The first part of your life is spent finding out who you want to be. The second part of your life is spent finding out who you really are.

  • You do not discover the future. You create it with the actions you take today.

  • The fanciness of your process only reveals your resistance to the dirtiness of the work.

  • If you find yourself unusually productive in one area of life, ask yourself what tasks you are avoiding in the others.

  • "Work, without love, is slavery." — Mother Teresa

  • The secret to making kids that travel well is to start them traveling young and keep them doing so.

  • Schlag is a Viennese term for homemade whipped cream that is seeing a certain renaissance as of late (in order to differentiate it from the canned stuff).

  • We don’t buy things, we buy into things.

  • One should strive to use all things until their usefulness is no more.

  • I’m not sure I will ever be as emotionally fulfilled by digital technology as I am by a good pen and a nice blank page of paper. Nor will it hold, for me, the same feeling of possibility.

  • Chindōgu is the Japanese art of inventing ingenious everyday gadgets that seem like a solution to a particular problem but cause so many new problems it is effectively useless.

  • So much of modern tech is beginning to feel like Chindōgu to me.

  • Sometimes, you have to come up with the completely crazy idea that could never work to get to the slightly less crazy one that will.

  • It’s worse than we could ever imagine.

  • One of the most dangerous ideas in a free society is one in which we believe that rights are granted, not guaranteed.

  • Fight fear, with facts.

  • “Fear is just excitement without breath.” –Fritz Perls

  • Most of what we call truth is merely consensus.

  • Unlike other trees whose roots are deep and thick, California Coastal Redwoods, some of the tallest of trees, are thin and wide. They stand tall by binding their roots with others near and far.

  • The first approximation of others is ourselves.

  • How much better “how to” posts/sites would be if they led with “what for”.

  • "Why?" would be good as well.

  • The GORUCK Challenge taught me more about myself in 13 hours than I learned this entire year. Especially the first item in this post.


Kindness. It is amazingly simple to practice. It avoids so much suffering. Yet I’ve seen so little of it as of late. Especially surprising given the season.

If Justine Sacco had practiced kindness, would she have been more mindful of how hurtful her words may be? If those who read those words had practiced kindness in their response, would she have lost her job or had the opportunity to learn and, thus, be even better at it?

If those on the Angry Mac Bastards podcast had practiced kindness in their constructive criticism of Aaron Vegh’s webpage, would he have had the opportunity to make it better? If the response from Aaron and others who took umbrage would have been that of kindness, would there have been opportunity for all to understand a way to communicate disagreements better?

These are just two recent and raw examples of cases where I really think that kindness and compassion displayed by either side would have helped. Instead, we have people who have lost their jobs or felt forced to shutter something they enjoyed. And, the hurt feelings, anger, and feeling of having been attacked remain on all sides.

And, here’s a little secret I’m going to tell you — kindness in the face of an adversary immediately gives you, the kind practitioner, the upper hand. It often throws those gripped by anger off balance. It often diffuses the tension. It puts one in a position of power to effect positive change. And, even if it fails to do any of those things, it garners the support of those viewing from the outside. Who can fault the person who tried to bring kindness, compassion, and understanding into a bad situation? Who can fault the person who stands with peace in opposition to aggression? Who really has the moral power and respect of others — one who takes up arms against another or one who lays theirs down in response?

I would argue that it is my practice of kindness in such situations that gives me the most power. So, instead of being disheartened by the lack of it I have witnessed lately, I’m encouraged to practice kindness even more. I invite you to do the same.

Items Of Interest #11

Further accounting of my travels through the vast ether. Reporting things of wonder you must see with your own eyes to truly be believed… Or something like that…

My friend Mike Rohde is celebrating the one year anniversary of the publication of his excellent Sketchnote Handbook with a giveaway of a whole bunch of stuff (including my book, enough).

Speaking of books, if you are a lover of libraries, bookshelves, and other things of a bookish nature, this borders on pornography.

Of course, you will need some light to read all of those books with. Why not use a portable, stylish, take-anywhere lamp that unfolds like a book.

While not a full book, an unreleased collection of J.D. Salinger short stories, including An Ocean Full Of Bowling Balls, which is obliquely related to The Catcher In The Rye, was recently leaked. As a huge Salinger fan, and one who is respectful of the late author’s wishes for privacy and secrecy, I will neither confirm nor deny that I immediately downloaded it from one of the many outlets it is now easily found. But I will tell you that Ocean is a very satisfying nugget of Caufield wonder.

Kindling Quarterly is a literary journal that explores fatherhood. I have recently discovered a love for such journals. I have read severaI. This one is very high on my Christmas wish list.

Finally, a reminder: You have now. It’s all you’ll ever have.