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Are elves really elves?

By Adam Crawford

Elf

If children, in elves they believe;

Then, beautiful creatures, they must be.

If at the North Pole they spend all their days;

They’re no further than Heaven from me.

And if at this moment in time and space

This elf you’re holding is more than you see

That scarf looks like wings; that bell’s glowing bright;

And a halo it might, could quite just be.

If at the North Pole they reside,

And Heaven’s no further from me,

Then what if this elf is much more.

What if this elf is an angel,

Sent down from Heaven for me?

What if? A Birthday Thought

By Adam Crawford

Today is my birthday. It’s the 27th one I’ve had though I only remember about 22 of them.

As I was sitting around holding my baby boy this morning I started to think about something: what if we aged like Benjamin Button. What if instead of each year we went backward instead of forward. This would provide an odd sensation of knowing when your time was coming to an end.

It would provide an even odder sensation of knowing that you’d have Alzheimer’s at some point for sure, around the time you reached the reverse age of five. You’d have little or no recollection of the rest of your life. It would be as if it hadn’t happened. What would you do with information such as this?

I’ve heard people say that being given a terminal cancer diagnosis has truly taught them what it means to live. That being given a finite shelf life has forced them to treat every day with a different set of emotions – a true sense of purpose for each day if you will. And while I don’t pray to be diagnosed with terminal cancer, that sense of purpose for each day is something I think would certainly change the outcome of each day.

Today is my birthday, it’s not something that seemed to really matter when I woke up. I mean, after you turn 21, what really is another year going to do for you? But then I had the thought. What if today is my last birthday? I’m not trying to be morbid, but it’s a possibility. If it were my last one, would I be proud of the work I’ve done since I arrived on this Earth?

I feel I would be, but could I have done more? Of course.

One can’t change the past, and you can’t change the future because it hasn’t happened yet. You can only change the present. But changing the present will change the potential outcomes of the future. So basically in order to change the future we must change the present.

Last night I stayed up really late working on this website. It had been a good while since I’d spent any time on it at all. The last post was a few days after our son was born. Since then I’ve been rather busy and life just seems to keep rolling on like the Fast and Furious franchise. The cool thing though, is that I’ve spent a good amount of time on it in the last 24 hours because it’s purpose within the grand scheme of my life has shifted once again ever so slightly.

I’m not ready to reveal what the new purpose, or direction my life is headed just yet because there are some things in the works that could point me down one path or another. Either way this website is and will continue to be a large part of it.

If you’ve been a reader of my work on this site for any amount of time you’ll first notice is much more stripped down than it’s ever been. I did this because the writing is the only reason there is a site in the first place. From now on the words on this screen are the most important thing on any of the pages within this site. I’m working hard to convey that message to anyone who stops by.

All of the previous articles from the past 18 months are in the archives which can be found at the bottom of the page. I will continue to make some minor tweaks that you may not even notice over the next few weeks. I’m trying to look at this website as if it’s reverse aging. Like I know what the end date for it is, because if I can do that then I’ll put every ounce of effort into making it the best it can be for you each and every time I log on.

I want to help you make your life better. I want to share my experiences and my beliefs with you so that maybe we can learn and grow together.

So, what if you were reverse aging and you knew when you’d no longer be living the life you know of right now? What would you do?

What’s your transitional object?

A couple of weeks ago I had Bruce Van Horn on The Old Soul Podcast (you can find that episode here).

One of the things we talked about on the episode was transitional objects. The main example we used were children and their relationships with things such as stuffed animals, blankets, and pacifiers. Bruce talked about how those objects are ways for us to express or convert our emotion through during times of transition.

As I’ve gone on for the last couple of weeks I’ve thought about it quite a bit. I’ve thought back to transitional objects in my life. There have been a few.

There was a beanie baby bear. There was a pillow. There was my thumb (which took me way too long to give up). And there was an Alladin comforter.

Now, the Alladin comforter nearly went to college with me.

After I graduated from Basic Training in the Army and came home to get ready to go to college, I began packing my bags. As I packed up my room my dad was helping me put clothes and books into a suitcase and some boxes. I folded up my Alladin comforter that had been with me for as long as I could remember. I was 18 at the time.

As I started to put the blanket into a bag my dad stopped me. “Are you really going to take that with you?” He asked.

“Well…Yeah.” I said. But then I looked at the comforter and I looked back at my dad. In that moment I knew it was time to give it up. But I didn’t want to.

It wasn’t really the comforter itself that I was attached to. It was the comfort it brought me. The memory of being nestled in my bed for as long as I could remember.

It reminded me of safety.

Going to college didn’t automatically make me think of being unsafe. But it was uncomfortable. I didn’t really know what to expect. And the comforter was supposed to give me some continuity.

It was supposed to be something consistent in a time of transition.

But objects are just objects. Why do we attach such sentimental value to objects?

Maybe it’s something a loved one gave to you.

Maybe it’s something you bought at a yardsale while you were with someone you care about.

But ultimately the object just represents some memory of a time, place, or person in your life.

So the continuity isn’t with the object. It’s with your memory.

It’s with you.

If you feel as if you’re stuck in a time and place then take a look at some of the things in your life. Some of the things you feel a special attachment too. Are they transitional objects? It’s not as if I’m asking you to burn things in your backyard, or throw all of your belongings away. But if there is something you’ve been looking at for years and wondering why you haven’t gotten rid of it, maybe it’s the thing that’s keeping you stuck.

Not just the object, but the mindset of being tied to a certain time or place.

The world changes with or without you. And people are scared of change. But in order to move forward you have to accept change. And sometimes in order to do that, to really embrace the change, you have get past transitional objects.

Getting past transitional objects doesn’t mean you have to strip the memories. In fact I want you to do the opposite. I want you to remove the object from the memories and allow them to live freely.

This might seem a bit philosophical, and it is, but when you tie memories and experiences strictly to objects, you’re not allowing yourself the freedom to enjoy those memories and experiences independently. And doing that is what will allow you to move forward and create exponentially greater memories.

So, what’s your transitional object?

5 Reasons Writing is My Form of Therapy

The beginning…

When I was in high school I had a humanities teacher, Mrs. Bonds, who was rather eccentric. Often she would walk into the classroom with some ethnic dress on from either an African or European or Native American culture.

At first glance one might think she belonged in an institution. But her enthusiasm for teaching her students the wonders of culture soon overshadowed any doubts of her sanity.

As a typical teenager I didn’t buy into her methods, or really even care about her class at all, until one day.

We had been in the class for about a month and she gave us a photo project. It was due a month later (which was difficult for me at the time because I couldn’t just sit down and crank it out). We were required to pick a subject and take between 20 and 25 photos of this subject with each photo bringing a new perspective—a new purpose.

I chose staircases. 

I had always been fascinated with intricate staircases (I think this stemmed from the first time I saw the grand staircase in Titanic…) and how they served such a clear purpose but were also such a clear part of the design and beauty of any structure.

Along with the photos we had to write a poetic caption bringing out the nature of the photo.

This was my first real experience with writing for a purpose.

Sure, I’d written portfolios and what not, but I never cared about the purpose behind those. These photo captions had to capture the essence behind the photo. I understand it deeper now than I did then, but I still grasped the concept. And it was intriguing.

I took most of my photos in downtown Louisville, Kentucky while I was on a Beta Club trip. They were all taken with a disposable Kodak camera (black and white version for effect) that you had to real after each snap of the plastic button. Next I had the photos developed at a 1-hour photo booth at Walgreens (classic, I know!).

As much as I enjoyed taking the photos, I enjoyed the captions much more. I learned a lot about what it meant to provide insight into an image. And I learned a lot more about the photos after they were developed.

It was the first time I enjoyed writing.

Storyteller

Once the photo project was complete I didn’t think much about it until years later, but there was an exercise we did that I have always kept in the back of my mind.

The exercise I wish I’d have taken to heart much sooner.

We came into class on one of the last days of the school year and Mrs. Bonds had the lights turned off and a few candles lit. (I think I even remember incense burning but that could a self-edited detail.) I noticed a record player at the front of the classroom that hadn’t been there before. We all sat down and the room was oddly quiet compared to usual. Mrs. Bods was no where to be seen.

A couple of minutes pass and she walked into the room dressed as a Cherokee Tribal Leader. Feathers sticking every which way from her head. She didn’t say much, but her instructions were clear.

“I’m going to put on a record. It’s tribal music and we will listen to it one time through. About twenty minutes. I want you to take out five pieces of paper and a pencil. When the music begins I want you to start writing. Don’t think, just write. I don’t care what it’s about, I don’t care if you write the same sentence over and over again, but you will write for the entire song. Any questions?”

For the first time all year nobody said a word.

It was clear.

Just write.

Photo credit - Sarah Reid

Photo credit – Sarah Reid

So we did. I did, at least.

When the music started I closed my eyes and I couldn’t help but see this Cherokee warrior standing next to a fire. And I started writing his story. Or at least, what I thought his story might be.

I have no idea what the end result was as she didn’t give us time to read what we wrote. But I will never forget what she wrote on my paper under the numeral “100”.

You are a natural storyteller. And don’t ever forget it.

I’m not sure if I’ve never forgotten it because she told me not to, or because it’s true. I’d like to think it’s true. But she could be pretty convincing.

Whether I’m a natural storyteller or not, I do know what I got out of that exercise, and especially what I’ve gotten out of writing for the past year—

Writing is therapeutic

There are many reasons why this is true, but I’ve narrowed it down to five for you:

1. It forces you to slow down and focus on one thing.

If you sit down to write and you don’t slow down, get rid of the menial distractions such as email, facebook, texting, snapchat, or whatever, then you won’t put more than a couple sentences together. You learn really quick that writing is not a multitasking activity.

Focusing on one thing can do wonders for your psyche. It will help declutter your thoughts, allowing them to flow more clearly and thereby affording them to make more sense. More ideas and thoughts that make sense equals more ideas, equals better ideas. The best way to have great ideas is to have A LOT of ideas…

2. It allows you to flush out any negativity.

Write anything you’re thinking down on the page and get it off your chest. Hate filled rant? Paragraph full of slander? Get it out and then delete it. This option is much better than doing so face to face with someone you care about, or could impact your life.

Vent on paper, not on Facebook!

Maybe one reason girls mature faster than boys is because they are more likely to keep a diary…just a thought.

If you’ve ever done this and allowed the negativity to just flow onto the page and then discard as you should, then you know number 1 becomes true shortly after.

3. Writing doesn’t have to make sense if it’s a form of therapy.

There are 163 posts on this website, an average of about 750 word each, that’s roughly 122,000 words I’ve published. For each word published I’ve written two that I didn’t publish. This could be for many reasons, but mostly in relation to number one or number two. When you sit down to write because it makes you feel better then you don’t care about what comes out. It’s very similar to talking to yourself on a walk (which is also great) but you have less chance of looking like a crazy person if you write it down.

Sitting down to write without the pressure of having to worry about someone reading it frees you, it’s liberating, because you know that you can write whatever you want. Get it out, however you need to word it, and move on. Then you can take a deep breath, print out what you wrote, fold it up, and burn it. (This symbolizes moving forward and forgetting about your worries…)

4. Writing can transform into a hobby, a craft, an art form, and even a way of life.

It’s hard for me to rationalize that going to a therapist will become my hobby, my craft, an art form, or a way of life (not discounting that it might need to be a part of my life—I do see the benefit of talk therapy from time to time). Though, writing can become all of those things, which will only enrich it’s therapeutic value for you.

Writing is something that can transform your outlook on life. It can change the way you look at how you are living your life.

I’ve been reading Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life; it’s a memoir about how he learned to live a better story. He learned this lesson, in part, because he was asked to help adapt his previous book, Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spiritualityinto a screenplay. He learned how to apply the pieces of a good story to his personal life and not just in his writing. His writing led him to live a better story. How awesome is that?

5. It’s something you can do for the rest of your life.

There will come a time when you can’t play pick-up football. There will come a time when it’s poor judgement to try and free-climb a rock face, or bungee jump, but unless you lose your hands in a tragic accident (at which point you can still dictate your writing—probably to some robot by then—to someone or something), you can write until the day your soul leaves this your body.

Maybe you will never write a bestseller. In fact, 99% of people won’t. But that doesn’t take away the value and impact writing can have on your personal life.

Even if it’s just a one paragraph journal entry per day, I can promise you that you will gain something from developing a daily writing habit. It’s impossible not to get some sort of value out of an intentional writing habit, no matter what stage of life you are in.

So, what are you waiting for? Go write!

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My #1 Tip for Making 2015 the Best Year Ever

Money is a driving force in every person’s life whether they realize it or not. That doesn’t mean it’s the most important. It just means that almost every major decision you make will have a money factor involved.

So the famous question is, what would you do if you didn’t have to worry about money?

I know what I would do.

I’d get up, take my son to school, then write from about 9 am until noon.

Then I’d go to the golf course and play golf the rest of the afternoon.

You may not be able to decide the one thing you’d do the most, but it’s an interesting exercise.

You’re life is important. And you’re choices are important. They should not be constricted by something such as money. But they are—it’s inevitable.

So how do we get past the money factor?

You embrace the present. Carve out time for the things that bring you the most joy and find something to master.

The journey of mastering something is what brings so many people joy. A way to escape the every day hustle and bustle. It’s why there is a store called “Hobby Lobby”.

If there is nothing else you do differently in 2015, then please, find something you have a desire to master.

In 2014 I spent a significant amount of time doing the following things:

  • Woodworking
  • Video Shooting/Editing
  • Running (Marathon Training)
  • Writing
  • Golfing
  • Web Designing (Learning basic HTML)

I don’t provide you those examples because I think you should try them all, though they do all have their own appeal. I just want you to find something in 2015 that really lights your candle.

Find something you want to talk about non-stop. It truly will make 2015 your best year ever, one way or another.

Leave a comment and share what hobby you either tried in 2014 or plan to try in 2015.

 

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