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Try Again

November 15, 2014

There is a wilderness just beyond these walls. Just beyond our securities, our routines, our distractions – its conditions weather the heart of stone. It lies between who we were and who we’re meant to become. Between selfishness and selflessness. Between self-reliance and dependency. Despair and joy. Apathy and desire. Callousness and vulnerability. It’s the substance of our favorite stories, but it must be experienced first hand. It’ll last longer than you hope or expect. You’ll step into the desert carrying everything you thought gave you identity, purpose and value and walk out empty-handed. We all face forks in the road, but do not fret. The road less travelled doesn’t exist. The one you take will always lead to the wilderness. And there, cold, weak, exhausted, rejected, betrayed, and broken, you will know grace.

Stronger Than That

July 5, 2014

Be disturbed. I do not mean that you must create disturbance, but embrace the disturbance that inevitably finds us all. I’m grateful that all of my post-graduation plans of employment and romance dried up in Chicago. I’m grateful for the job that suddenly brought me to Seattle before it suddenly disappeared. I’m grateful for the soul-killing job that followed, which introduced me to my loving community, made me the efficient designer I am today, and gave me the courage to quit a stable life for one that is full. I’m grateful for the work that sustained me during my year as a freelance designer and revealed both my strengths and weaknesses. I’m grateful for the painful, exhilarating wild ride at a failed startup. I’m grateful for a new job that challenges me in every way. I’m grateful for my rescue dog, who requires more from me than I thought I could ever give. And I’m grateful there are more questions, challenges, road blocks, and unexpected changes ahead. These disturbances have continually shaken selfish dreams, distorted perspectives, and notions of self-reliance from my stubborn hands. It’s not that we are capable of more. It’s that we are so much more.


Lost in the Dream

June 21, 2014

On June 5th, I leaned against an overgrown railing in SoDo, lit a cigarette, and, like a lone survivor drifting away from the wreckage, watched the fiery aftermath as my company sank beneath the midday sun. I found myself suddenly, tragically, unemployed.


Remembering 2013

December 25, 2013

For me, 2013 was the year I became a successful business owner… after a friend lent me a large sum of money so that I could make rent. It was the year I was a stay-at-home dad, working from home and taking long walks with Charlie. I fly fished for the first time and faced my demons on the edge of a cliff. And then missed my flight home, thanks to LA traffic. I also tried Netflix for the first time and watched everything. And briefly tried online dating – before deleting all of my accounts. I sent a girl flowers to express how I felt. I went backpacking into a thunderstorm. I walked home from Oktoberfest through a golf course in Leavenworth at 2am. Twice. I was offered my dream job. And it was the year I found out my best friend will be moving to LA.

Ola Flåten

A Moment’s Grace

October 29, 2013

“It gets better. I’d tell you what happens, but you wouldn’t even believe me.” That’s it. If I could send a letter to myself 10 years ago, 5 years ago… last week, even, that’s what I’d write. That’s the way this works – it only makes sense looking back. This last year of self-employment has been a faith-testing journey of 11th-hour provisions and mana-filled deserts. A whole year. Two weeks ago, Lively invited me to interview and – once I learned what they were about – I had to meet them. I’ve been offered my dream job. I start on Monday. My passions of graphic design and music have finally aligned. And I’m dumbfounded. Change comes swiftly. The air is crisp and warmly lit. The leaves have burst into flame. My world, my heart, is glowing. I’m dwelling on gratitude this season. It’s true; you may reap what you sow, but make no mistake. This is all a gift. And it only gets better.


Shot At The Night

October 5, 2013

The title of this photo reads lo único que se ve en la oscuridad es la luz, or “the only thing you see in the dark is light.” And the things we don’t see are replaced with our worst nightmares. As kids, we imagine monsters, ghosts and velociraptors. As adults, we imagine that we are unworthy of love. In every shadow, we hide our deepest fears. In each closet, we bury our shame. But we mustn’t focus on what we can’t see. We must embrace the unknown, but not lose ourselves in it. I’ve been single for awhile now – 3 years, actually – and I know how consuming it can become if you allow your heart and mind to dwell on the void for too long. It’ll drive you mad. You start filling the darkness with expectations, regrets, and self-pity. And after awhile it becomes all that you see. So let us not forget the bright, shining lights in our lives. The few cherished friends who, with a look, can read your mind. That first sip of Bulleit Rye. Sunshine on a crisp, Fall day. That exhilarating hope that change is near. And a certain 80s nostalgia that we can’t help but dance to.


Mixtape: Enchantment

September 9, 2013

The secret to backpacking is to thrive in the pain rather to simply endure it. To dwell in its proof of your existence. To cherish the mere ability to feel it. Only then will you find the courage to take one more step. And your feet will take you to places you never thought possible.

4k YL-Leaders-Retreat-Breakfas

Second Chances

August 31, 2013

When my Dad first confessed his love for my Mom, she was startled. “You love me?” He was calm. “Love is like a tree,” he answered. “It starts small, then grows over time. Even the redwood trees begin as seeds.” She thought about it. “Well, then I love you too.” Today, my parents celebrate 33 years of marriage. My Dad stayed true to his word – he loves her more today than he did 33 years ago. And it’s not only that he adores her more, but he puts her needs and desires before his own. I’m blessed to be a witness of their example. And it’s not because their marriage is perfect. It’s not. Like any marriage, it’s been a difficult road, full of second chances. But I look at who they are today and who they were at the start and confess that they are more loving, more generous, more forgiving, more gentle, more selfless and more peculiar than ever. The world is a better place because they joined their lives together, which seems to be the point. After all, love is like a tree. It starts small, then grows over time, offering shade and protection for anyone blessed to walk beneath its canopy.


The Harbinger

August 28, 2013

Standing frozen in St. Mark’s parking lot, neck throbbing with adrenaline, I gazed beyond the majestic cathedral towards a barricaded encampment. Established as a roaming camp for Seattle’s homeless, Tent City 3 is just one tent city of SHARE/WHEEL, the largest shelter-providing organization in the Pacific Northwest. Tent City 3 and 4 provide food, shelter and community for up to 100 homeless men and women in the city.


Blink Behind the Leaves

August 5, 2013

Anytime I see a piece of garbage in the street, I think of my first girlfriend. Hold on, let me explain. We were walking through downtown Chicago when, mid-conversation, I left her arm to grab a wad of newspaper and threw it in a bin. To be honest, it was mostly the compulsive impulse of a designer who craves order and 90-degree angles. Nevertheless, upon my return, she squeezed my arm firmly. The gesture, so small, told me something of her, which revealed something of me. That moment became cemented in my mind. Now, there was a time in my life, not so long ago, that I wore this memory as a hole in my stomach. A pang telling of loss or a void once filled. After some slow shifts in perspective over the years, however, I’ve allowed myself the grace to see such pain as a marker. Of the young man I once was and of the man I’ll become. It is not North, but it’s a star that helps me find my bearings at times. And so anytime I pass a piece of litter and pick it up, I remember the best that someone I cared about once saw in me.

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