Archives For Miscellaneous

You know, it’s been one of those weeks, hasn’t it.

It’s been one of those weeks for everyone with the death of Robin Williams. And then it was made more complicated as all of the conflicting opinions about depression and suicide started washing over social media.

It has been an extra weird week living in Missouri. And even though I’m in Kansas City, four hours away from Ferguson, it’s impossible to feel like this doesn’t hit very close to home.

There has been a reason I have not commented on these events. I just cannot find the right words at just this moment, and to be honest, I feel free to not say anything just yet. We so often rush to social media and our blogs in the heat of the moment, desperately wanting to say something, if only to assert that, yes, we have an opinion. And it just makes things worse so much of the time. So for now, I just pause and try to take it all in and when I say something, I’ll try to measure my words.

All that being said, there were tons of truthful, necessary words written over the week and you’ve already read them. But just yesterday, as I was so weary at reading the news, I was reminded of this video of a couple of cops in my own town. For all of our talk of police brutality and militarization, there are at least a few who go out on the streets every day to protect and serve, not search and destroy. I haven’t been prouder of my city in a long time.

Next week, I’ll be away from the blog as I take a little cross-country drive – to visit my team at Moody Publishers in Chicago, talk on a couple of radio stations, go down to Louisville to meet some cool people, and get back home.  When I come back, I’ll tell you about it.

Yesterday was the last day of classes at my school.  I know, some of you are still trudging your way to the finish line.

Farewells were made.  Cards and treats were exchanged.  And while the last day comes as a relief, I also get a bit sentimental, because it is another indication that time is passing, and my students are growing up.

Getting sugary treats from students on special occasions is nice.  But I really treasure the words students give me.  Seriously, I’ve kept every card or drawing that students have given me.  But yesterday, I got the best card I have ever received.  The simple message inside, accompanied by a couple of hearts scrawled in pen made me laugh instantly, but also gripped my heart.

“Mr. Appling, I am glad you are my art teacher.  Thank you for helping me with my projects, even when I think it’s a disaster.”

Keep in mind this student is a notoriously stubborn perfectionist.  In other words, she thinks every project is a disaster.  There are many days that I am not sure she is glad I am her teacher.  We butt heads like two stiff-necked animals as I insist on believing in her when her belief in herself remains obstinately, defiantly low.

What gripped me (after I laughed) was how, in my own perfectionism, I rarely believe that I have done enough for anyone, including my students.  I don’t think I’m a great teacher, a great friend, a great husband.  I’m okay.  But I could do more.

But sometimes, all a person needs is someone to believe in them, to tell them that things aren’t as bad as they look, to assure them that it’s not a disaster, to stubbornly, obstinately believe in them, though they insist on not believing in themselves.

Who was the last person who insisted on believing in you when you thought everything was a disaster?

Making_Manifest_Cover_grandeImagine some tools from you garage: a saw, hammer, glue, pliers, a screwdriver.

Now, try to think about some tools from you kitchen. The catch is, the kitchen utensils must in some way be opposite of the garage tools.

If this sounds like a challenging and strange exercise, it is.  And I love this kind of thing.  

My new friend, Dave Harrity, has just released Making Manifest, a book that’s equal parts logic and poetry, thoughts and emotions, body and spirit.  It’s a book that leaves a lot of space in the margins, because it’s in the margins that the magic happens.

So what exactly is Making Manifest?  Dave says that it’s a “28-day devotional book grounded in the acts of writing, creativity, imagination, solitude, and community building, all designed to help you ‘re-vision’ the way you understand and interact with the kingdom of God.”

Now, I’m the kind of guy who hates, hates, hates devotionals.  Of any kind.  I haven’t found a good one yet.  When I hear the word “devotional,” I yawn.  I also hate “journaling.”  I’ve never successfully journaled (which makes the existence of this blog all the more baffling.)

Guess what?

This is the kind of devotional that I can get into, the kind of journaling I can look forward to actually doing.  It’s intellectual as well as spiritual.  It’s concrete as well as abstract.  It’s all about stretching your thinking and making some beauty manifest in your life through creativity.  If you’re looking for something to help you refuel this summer (like I am), this is a great place to start.  If you are looking for a new kind of spiritual practice, I can’t recommend this highly enough.

Today, I’m making it super easy for one person to win a copy of this excellent book!  All you have to do to enter is tweet the following:

“Win a free copy of “Making Manifest” from @MattTCoNP and make creativity your new spiritual discipline – http://wp.me/pSZSu-1nK

Make sure you bring a writing utensil – you’re going to be doing a lot of writing!  Oh, and check out Dave’s organization, Antler, where you can learn more about creativity and spirituality.

If you want to be inspired, watch the second video.

If you want to cringe, watch the first.

For your Friday pleasure, I’ve got two short clips.  They ran back to back on The Sunday Morning Show last week.  I’m a huge Sunday Morning Show fan.  And Downton Abbey.

Anyway, if there ever two more polar opposite people, I haven’t met them.  The first story is one of completely living for yourself.  The last 30 seconds are unbelievable, if you catch the subtle irony of the voiceover paired with the video.  The second story, is a man who no one would blame for hating the world, and yet has more love than most people we’ll meet.

I’ll stop talking.  Watch them, and then tell me what you think.

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People don’t always look like their online avatars.

2012 meetup banner

I guess I would’ve learned the same lesson if I were online dating. But that’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned every year I’ve attended a Bloggers Meetup. People who I meet also often seem surprised that I am, in fact, a human being, and not a cartoon character.

Yes, it is that time again. Time to register for the 2012 Bloggers Meetup in Atlanta, the evening of October 3.

I went to my first Bloggers Meetup in 2009, and I was hooked. In 2011, I was asked to help put the event together, and I jumped at the chance. This year, I’m co-managing the Meetup, and we’ve found a great new venue, and we’re looking forward to a really fantastic night.

It is always a great opportunity to hang out with bloggers you’ve been idolizing from afar, and get acquainted with bloggers you never knew existed. We’ve expanded capacity to 150 people, and tickets are a paltry $5.00, so you’re practically losing money if you don’t go!

If you are anywhere near the Atlanta region on October 3 (or you are there already for Catalyst), you just have to be there. I’d love to meet you!

Give me a shout out if you plan on being there, or tell me the last blogger you got to meet in person!

It just needs a finishing touch: meat.

Have I found that new and improved “me” yet?

As you may remember, a week ago I told you that I was launching, much like a church or a corporation, a new and improved “me.”  A complete “rebranding” if you will.  In other words, I want to get healthy.

I had a plan, or a “vision” (as plans are now referred to).  It started with the humble goal of doing a juice diet for longer than my brother (who broke down after 48 hours and went to McDonald’s.)

So, is the new me a success, or did we have a failure to launch?  Here’s what I’ve learned, ten days into this “health” thing.

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