Lessons from my watch.

This is the part where I apologize for not posting in for-frikkin-ever and come up with some great excuses, but in the words of Sweet Brown… “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

So, let’s get to it.

I got this sweet new “smart” watch for Christmas from my parents this year. I love it. I understand that I can pull my phone out of my pocket and see all the notifications there, but I love new technology and I didn’t have to pay for it so stop yelling at me 🙂

Anyway…unlike a normal watch this one has to be charged on occasion. Not a big deal since I am in the habit of charging almost half a dozen other tech items I own on a regular basis. Today, my new smart watch notified me that it’s juice was getting low and it was due for a charge. So, I started searching for the specific cable to charge this specific device. I looked upstairs by our bed. I looked by the computer. I looked downstairs. I looked in our box of random cables. Nothing. We just got back from our holiday trip to Florida, so I started searching in bags and luggage and the car and in everything that made the trip down with us. No luck.

Panic began to set in. Now, I know we live in a beautiful, tech savvy culture where I can order a replacement and have it delivered to my house within a week, but my device would be dead by then and life would end as I know it. (ok…a little dramatic, but you get the point)

Then it hit me…this is exactly what happens to us. Whether it’s physically, emotionally, relationally, spiritually, we find ourselves in time of emptiness, or close to it. We start to dry up and realize that we are about to hit the wall and metaphorically die.

We need to recharge. We need to plug in and let ourselves be refilled with what gives us energy and the ability to continue doing life.

I’ve been sick for the past month or so and just recently I’ve started to get better. My congestion has subsided, my cough has almost stopped and I’ve been able to get almost a full night’s sleep. Now, I’m the type of person who stops taking my medicine as soon as I start to feel better. Right after I got off work today I began to feel my body telling me it wasn’t fully healed yet. That I had cut the recovery time short. So, after searching for almost an hour for this stupid cable to charge my super cool new techie watch and after taking a nap from mental and physical exhaustion  I began looking for my medicine, which also made the trip with us from Florida.

Lo and behold…in the paper bag that held my prescription medicine was the cable to charge my watch. How? I have no idea. Coincidence…I think not.

Don’t forget to recharge.

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Living The Dream

Sarcasm.

Say what you will about it, it is incredibly prevalent in almost all of our day to day conversations. So much so that sometimes it’s hard to even distinguish whether or not someone is being sarcastic or truthful.

This happens to me a lot. I speak sarcasm like a 2nd language. It tends to roll off my tongue without me even trying to. Sometimes to the point where people don’t know if I’m being serious or not. And while I like to keep people on their toes, it’s not always a good thing.

Usually, I am being sarcastic, but when I’m not and people think I am it tends to be unfortunate. Let me give you an example.

So, I’m at the coffee shop I work at and someone comes to the counter. I greet them and ask how their day is going. “Fine,” or something to that affect is said and, if their chatty, they will usually ask me in return how my day is going. To which I usually respond with, “Living the dream.”

Now, right off the bat that might sound sarcastic. After all, most people aren’t living the kind of life they dreamed about. Most of us aren’t in the work environment we dreamed we would be in. So, when someone responds with “living the dream,” what they’re usually saying is sarcastic and means something to the affect of, “I wish I was doing something else with my life.” Maybe not that dramatic, but you get the idea.

Here’s the problem…I’m not being sarcastic when I say that!

I really am living the dream. It’s a dream I’ve had for a little while now. A dream to become a greater part of the coffee community here in Raleigh. A dream to help create a place where people can experience the sense of community I’ve experienced through coffee. To learn and grow in my knowledge of coffee and the coffee industry.

I know not many people get to say that. Not many people get to say that what they are doing or where they’re working is what they dreamed about.

Herein lies the problem. Such a big problem, might I add, that it is automatically thought of as sarcasm when you tell someone that you’re living the dream.

So, it catches people off guard when I tell them, “No, really. This is the dream. This is exactly what I what to be doing with my life right now.”

It’s unfortunate that it does.

If that’s you, if you immediately hear “Living the dream,” and think sarcasm, then I want you to hear me now…figure out what your dream is and go do it. Forget about the obstacles. Forget about the ‘what if’s’, forget about what other people say and pursue that dream.

You only get one life. One chance to live out your dreams. Why waste anymore time not doing what you dreamed about?

And, by the way, you may fail. As a matter of fact, there’s probably a good chance you will. But, that’s no excuse for not trying.

My Post for the Raleigh DLA

I was recently asked to write a post for the Raleigh Downtown Living Advocates on the opening of a new restaurant in my neighborhood. Since I live so close to it they thought it would be cool to have a residents perspective. So, here it is:

For the past couple of years I’ve had the great pleasure of living about 100 yards from the amazing food and people at The Market Restaurant. Chad and his staff are great and the food they’ve been putting out at Market is only matched by the sense of community they’ve fostered in that space.

So, naturally, when I heard that Market was moving I nearly had a panic attack, but luckily I found out they were moving just down the road. After I calmed down I quickly realized that there was going to be an empty space in our community.

That empty space kinda scared me. We had developed such a great sense of community with Market. What if it just sat there? What if our North Blount St. area was left with a gap in it? What if someone did come in there and didn’t share that sense of community? There were a lot of “what ifs.”

Recently, I found out that a new restaurant is coming into the space on North Blount Street. I love new places. I love trying to food. And I love meeting new people. From the first line of the press release I saw on the opening of Stanbury I was really excited; “Drew Maykuth and brothers Joseph and Will Jeffers are opening Stanbury.”

I’ve always thought that the best work is done in teams, in community, and Stanbury already seems to be starting off that way. Not only the 3 guys starting it, but the community of farmers, gardeners and brewers who will help make Stanbury a community restaurant.

I have no doubt that this new neighborhood restaurant and bar will be a hit in the North Blount Street community. Despite the fact that they will be offering mostly local and seasonal items, including sweet breads, fish, meats, homemade pastas and gnocchi, which sound amazing, Stanbury, it’s owners and employees will be welcomed into our community with open arms.

Can’t wait for opening day.

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Guest Post: Today is my Favorite

I have a treat for you today! Today is the first guest post here on my blog. Elizabeth, her husband Mark and little Henry have been good friends of Cynthia and I for about 3 years now and I think she is a great writer. Her outlook on life encourages and challenges me every time she writes. I love being able to do life with them and they are part of the reason why I love community.

When we first started talking about swapping blog posts I asked her to share with you a little bit about why she blogs. It’s good stuff. Check it out:

hello, friends of aj!  my name is elizabeth.  i am a 30 year old wife, mother and blogger.  i mostly blog about my faith, family, randomness and just life in general.  


today, aj and i are switching things up with a guest post.  so if you came here looking for words of wisdom from that guy, head on over to my blog and check it out.

not too long ago, aj’s wife, cynthia, was giving the message at our church about making every day your favorite.  her message really resonated with me and what my blog, best.day.ever., is all about. 

here are some examples she gave, in my own words:

    • birth – “hello world, this is my favorite time!
    • learning to walk – “im mobile.  Woo hoo, today is my favorite”
    • getting your license – “freedom!  This is my favorite.”
    • losing a job – “thank you God for the opportunity to learn something new.  Today is my favorite.”
    • failing marriage – “this is a great trial in my life that will teach me to lean on you, Lord.  today is my favorite.”
    • root canal – “thank you Lord for the dentist’s education and my future pain free mouth!”

… ok, so that last one is mine, but you get the point.

this is what i strive for and let me tell you, i am no expert!  it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  its hard to find joy in pain and heartache … but it can be done.  my blog started out with my journey to seek … to be a better wife, sister, daughter, friend, aunt, cousin, employee, Christian, person.  basically, i was trying to make sure i sought God in everything, which is awesome.  what i ended up doing is having really high expectations of myself and others which ends up being disappointed in myself and others, constantly.  that is not a joyful spot to be in.  so, after a while i decided to start on the inside and work my way out.  for me, that meant making the most out of any day or situation. 

i like practical steps i can take to help me with things like this.  so here is my practical guide to making every day your favorite … or at least a hell of a lot better than it was.

step one:  choose joy.  stop fuming and stirring and pouting and CHOOSE to not be those things.  its totally possible … hard but possible.

step two:  make a mental or physical list of wants/needs that have been met over the past 6 months.  how have you been blessed? 

step three:   do something for someone else.  focus on someone else’s needs (big or small) and make it happen. 

step four:  make a list of people in your life that encourage you … call or text at least one of these people and thank them.

step five:  find someone else to encourage and lift up in prayer.  invest in others and you will have more joy.

there you are.  don’t worry, there won’t be a test … but feel free to follow my blog and we can help encourage each other.

Hi, my name is A.J. and I’m a cynic.

I don’t remember when it started. I don’t remember making a conscience decision to be this way. It’s not like when I was a kid I said, “You know what? Instead of seeing the best in most people, I’m just going to assume you’re wrong or have some ulterior motive.” No way man.

A cynic is defined as “a person who believes that only selfishness motivates human actions and who disbelieves in or minimizes selfless acts or disinterested points of view.”

What a crappy way to go through life, right?

Maybe you’re a little cynical at times too. Don’t we all want to be people who believe that people are capable of selfless acts? That what motivates the good deeds others do is not selfishness, but compassion and goodness. Why don’t we?

Maybe we’ve been burned before? Maybe we’ve had a bad experience that’s tainted our outlook on the rest of the world?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like it. I don’t enjoy always assuming there is some other story. I don’t enjoy trying to figure out what’s not being said or what someone is really saying. I don’t enjoy believing that no matter what someone is doing that their real goal is selfish. I don’t like it and I imagine you don’t either.

So, how do we stop? How do we start to fight the urges of cynicism?

I think we can start by looking at what the opposite of cynicism is. The opposite of a cynic is a believer. Someone who trusts. Someone who has faith in others.

How do we stop the cynicism? We have to fight the temptation and the mental battle to distrust, to disbelieve and to not have faith in people. Because it really is a mental battle. It’s you fighting against yourself. When we choose to have faith in humanity we are waging war against cynicism.

Now, that doesn’t mean we start blindly accepting everything at face value and never search for the truth or remain cautious when something feels out of place. It does mean that we will have to start giving people the benefit of the doubt.

There is too much good in the world and in our hearts for us to see the worst in people.

I haven’t got this figured out, but I’m trying. Cynical, is no way to go through life. That much I know for sure.

Join me in fighting against cynicism and believing in people again.

May hope be with you.

On Death…

100%

It’s a depressing statistic when you think about it. It doesn’t matter what you do, how hard you work, who you are, what your socio-economic status is…you are just like everyone else. You are part of the 100%. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

100% of humans will die at some point. There’s no way around. No one is getting out of this life alive.

Sorry to be so depressing, but it’s a reality we all need to be more aware of.

In 1722 Jonathan Edwards, an early American Theologian, wrote set of personal resolutions. #9 on that list was this:  “To think much, on all occasions, of my dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.”

I know it’s morbid, but I’m sure that it gave him perspective.

This past weekend my wife lost a close friend she’d known since elementary school. It was a tough loss for her and for his family. But it wasn’t completely unexpected. You see, he had Cystic Fibrosis. So, for a long time they knew that his life expectancy was going to be much shorter than most. And as tough as this was for him and for everyone who knew him and loved him, I sensed at the funeral that this knowledge helped him live a life worth remembering.

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(These are the balloons we released in honor of every year of his life.)

The funeral truly was a celebration of a life. Friends and family shared story after story about the pure goodness that was found in knowing him. His life was a blessing to others and everyone who knew him is better off because of him.

Living with the knowledge that your life will come to an end encourages you to live a life worth remembering. What kind of legacy will you leave? What will people say at your funeral?

While there were many tears shed at the funeral this week, I can assure you that everyone’s heart was filled with joy.

At the risk of being too morbid I encourage you to think much of your death. Not the way in which you will die, but the type of life you will live up until that moment.

I Put Sugar in my Coffee Today

I know…I know, but before you start to cast stones hear me out.

This past weekend I had the cool opportunity to do coffee samples for a friend of mine at an independent grocery store. It was a lot of fun. I made pour overs, gave out free coffee, used a Chemex and basically got to talk coffee with a bunch of people. My favorite part was letting people try great coffee. That always makes me happy.

However…there was something that I noticed. Even though we had sugar and cream on the table where we were giving out samples, there were quite a few people who refused the free sample by saying, “no thanks, I don’t like black coffee.”

There seemed to be this automatic assumption that if they weren’t a black coffee drinker then they weren’t welcome.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I usually drink my coffee black, but that’s because I drink good coffee. I spend the time and the extra couple of bucks to make sure my coffee is fresh and tastes great, but not everyone does that. I think the more really good, fresh coffee you start to drink the less you’ll use cream and sugar, but there shouldn’t be this stigma against drinking coffee with cream and sugar.

While I may be a purist and enjoy coffee black that doesn’t mean everyone else should have to.

Like I told the people who I was giving samples to, life’s too short to drink what you don’t enjoy.

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So, yes…I put sugar in my coffee today (mostly because I tried to blend some old beans I had laying around and it didn’t turn out great so the sugar helped mask the taste), but it’s nothing to be ashamed of. If you’re a coffee drinker who has to put cream or sugar in your coffee to enjoy it don’t be ashamed.

I would suggest trying better coffee and maybe giving good, freshly roasted coffee a sip before you add what you have to, but life’s too short to drink what you don’t enjoy.

Cheers.

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