A digital commonplace for a Regular Guy called Charlie Pharis

Category: Life Issues (page 1 of 2)

A Word and Some More for 2024…

Hello, you loyal readers…all both of you! And happy New Year from this little dusty spot on the interwebs. Traditionally, today has been the day for reflection on the year just past and commitment to be better in the year that is just starting. And as someone somewhere opined, “New year’s resolutions are a to-do list for the first week in January.” That’s about right, because that’s just about how long they last.

Anyway, enough about that. Let’s get to what you came here for, shall we?

Some random thoughts on a new year…

One Word. There are folks out there who subscribe to the idea of having One Word for the year. One word that ideally and hopefully will define your intentions for the year, and guide you as you live, work, and love. One word to remind you of who you want to be and what you’re doing to become that person. One word to rule them all, so to speak. Having never been much on that kind of thing before, this year it seemed appropriate to me to think about it. So my word for 2024 is going to be elevate. Stay tuned for more details. (How’s that for piquing your readers’ interest—and setting up a reminder, a prompt to further develop a thought?)

Into the Crowd…

Today marks the beginning of the first conference/convention/etc. I’ve attended in a long time. I’m a little bit anxious.

It’s not that I don’t like people. I do. I think I have a servant’s heart for people. I do. But as I get older, my tolerance for people’s BS has diminished. I don’t relish the thought of sitting/milling around/interacting with a crowd.

Anyway, we’ll see how it goes. Get ready to send in the rescue team.


Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

It’s all about the details. The little things matter.

Is the colon aligned vertically when representing time? Or is it sitting on the baseline in the default position? Did you even notice? Did you change it? What about the dash between times? Did insert the n-dash or just settle for the hyphen key and call it good? What about the kerning? Did you follow the style guide?

Did you take the time to make the shadows realistic on the composite image? Or did you just duplicate the layer and position it somewhere in some sort of alignment? Did you think about where the light would actually hit? Did you make the shadow black instead of a gradient of grey-blue?

Did you check your spelling? Your punctuation? Did you leave the passive voice, or did you even think to re-read the copy?

Did you leave the piece of paper towel on the restroom floor? Did you send the thank-you note? Did you remember your customer’s name?

The details do matter. The little stuff does count. The little things do add up to big things. And if you do the little things consistently, it will become a habit. And the habit will become excellence in practice.


Image: “Needs, ” by Taber Andrew Bai  https://flic.kr/p/d1nLBW

Random things I need, in no particular order…

  • I need to lose 60 pounds by Thanksgiving. That’s 30 weeks away from right now, and losing an average of 2 pound per week is doable.
  • I need to learn InDesign, Illustrator, and maybe QuarkXPress.
  • I need to decide on the new side gig at The Y. Or I need to quit.
  • I need to write consistently and well.
  • I need to save more money.
  • I need to set up a new credit account.
  • I need to call my Dad.
  • I need to get a more positive attitude.
  • I need to read something inspiring, informational, uplifting, etc.
  • I need to get outside more. OK, I need get outside. Period. Full stop.
  • I need to unplug more.
  • I need to take all the jobs seriously, “as for the Lord.”
  • I need to get the oil changed.
  • I need to lead better–from the first chair, and the second.
  • I need more confidence.
  • I need to do stuff that matters.
  • I need to live the rest of my life in a way that counts.
  • I need to read what the boss is reading.
  • I need to contribute something of real value.
  • I need to complete a leadership certification that I’ve put off for a year.
  • I need to sleep more and better.
  • I need to listen more carefully.
  • I need to be a better friend.
  • I need to find some friends.
  • I need to get a used trumpet or flugelhorn.
  • I need to get a hobby.
  • I need to get on top of my email.
  • I need to walk the walk.
  • I need to stop hiding behind the Cynical Old Coot mask. Or the Regular People Loving and Trusting Guy. Whichever one is the mask.
  • I need to do something for the sheer joy of doing it.
  • I need to exercise more.
  • I need to encourage my son.
  • I need to do something with my son.
  • I need to take my wife somewhere.
  • I need to go somewhere I’ve never been before.
  • I need a Bucket List.
  • I need to preach better sermons.
  • I need to sing out loud, just because.
  • I need to go the library.
  • I need to go the music building at a college, sit in the hall, and listen to students practice their craft.
  • I need to leave the campus before they call security on the old coot sitting in the hall listening to students practice their craft.
  • I need to practice my craft.
  • I need to discover what that craft is.
  • I need to stick up for myself.
  • I need to know my neighbors.
  • I need to pray more.
  • I need to read some poetry.
  • I need to go to the art gallery or museum and stand there in “the pose,” and contemplate beauty.
  • I need to do the same with nature.
  • I need to offer to mentor someone.
  • I need to start a podcast.
  • I need to blog more consistently.
  • I need five more words. One.
  • I need to go to bed.

To all a good night.

What I’m Thinking About This Friday Afternoon…


Roberto Trombetta via Compfight

Fridays seem to be the worst and best of times lately.

The worst, because it seems the darkness feels heavier and the hope feels fainter.

But Fridays are often the best, because for whatever reason, my brain often kicks into another gear and I think about more stuff more deeply.  So here’s a rare installation of some the random thoughts that drip out on a typical Friday. Like today…

  • There are racist charlatans on all sides of the political and cultural spectrum, including some I’ve been proud to help along the way.
  • The best thing we can do as advocates for others is to model what we advocate, e.g., if we advocate for people’s health, maybe we should set a healthy example, etc. Extrapolate that out to whatever area of life in which you seek to influence others.
  • The problem with clients is that they really don’t know what they want. So when they tell you what they want – and you do that thing – then they change it. The other problem is that they’re paying the bill so they pretty much are entitled to change it. The other problem is sometimes, they aren’t paying very much on the bill, so it seems a lot like unreasonable expectations.
  • I really need some outdoor time. A good dose of a state park or a beach somewhere might be just what the doctor ordered. Or it might help me avoid the doctor’s inevitable order.
  • The mornings seem to be a blur these days, and I’m not sure why. There’s plenty of interaction with others, and there’s plenty to do. When quitting time comes, though, it appears that the time has whizzed by with no recognizable features.

October Blur…

Blurry Beijing: Lots of LoadCreative Commons License Alexander Mueller via Compfight

October has been a blur so far. I need to land a moment, to step away from the rush, to breathe, to touch base with reality, so I don’t lose touch. The best way I know to do that is to dump what’s in my mind. Here goes…

  • This is the week I’ve dreaded, ever since taking on one, two, three side gigs. This is the week that all the gigs seem to collide. I don’t know about you, dear readers (all two of you), but I must have skipped class the day they taught How To Be In More Than One Place At One Time. Because I need to do that, and I’m discovering again that I can’t manage to do that.
  • This song made it into the predawn jaunt playlist this morning. Who knows, indeed.
  • Oh, and in case you missed the lyrics
  • Speaking of the power of music, this story about Helen Keller “listening” to the great Beethoven Ninth Symphony grabbed my heart today.
  • I’m preaching about leaving a lasting legacy during our worship times this month. This week, we’ll talking about being a person of hope, and I sure hope I get something out of it. One of my Facebook memories from a couple of years ago reminded me I’m sure glad there’s a future and a hope, because the present is killing me.
  • I hate to be such a Debbie Downer, but the truth is, reality is just so real some times. Just putting it out there.

Back to the blur. I’ll see you when I can step out again. Hopefully sooner rather than later. Peace.



Tom Simpson via Compfight

This morning, I’m asking a lot of questions and not finding many answers. Questions like…

  • Am I just being lazy?
  • Am I due for a much needed break?
  • Am I avoiding responsibility?
  • Is there anything I’m missing?
  • Is there something I need to do next? Now? What is it?
  • What different things do I need to do?
  • What do I need to stop doing?
  • How can I improve my attitude?
  • Is the Cynical Old Coot the real me or is it a mask I once put on and can’t get off?
  • What if my best days are indeed behind me?
  • What do I do now?
  • How can I change my trajectory?
  • If I quit one of the side gigs, what would we do without the income?
  • Is the income from the side gigs worth the anxiety?
  • Is giving up the side gig income worth a different kind of anxiety?

Frederick Buechner says we often build castles to protect ourselves from others and the outside world. But we soon find those castles become the prisons of our own making, that hold us captive and restrict our freedom to function as we were intended and designed. He goes on to say that the simple words, “Help me” are the keys that open those gates, and release us to our better selves.

If that’s the case, then the questions may help us get to the place of asking for that help.

Leslie Brandt, Psalm 25…


jugrote via Compfight

I am reaching for You again, O God.

From the abyss of defeat,

   the suffocating shame of failure,

   I seek Your mercy and Your help.

Enable me to see something of Your will for my life,

Break through this stifling darkness

   with some direction, some meaning,

   some purpose for my existence.

You are my God; You have promised me salvation.

How long must I wait for Your response?


Part of Me…

Confused Signal

Stef via Compfight

Part of me wants to cry a lot of tears.

Part of me wants to write a “Dear ____” letter. Not to get involved in anybody’s business, but to say thanks for the good parts and get clarity on the bad.

Part of me wants to stay away.

Part of me wants to stick around and see what happens next.

Part of me wants to say it’ll be OK.

Part of me wants to say, “Wake up, grow up, quit messing around, and get on with your life!”

Part of me wonders why.

Part of me says it’s really not my concern.

Part of me says yes it is.

Part of me wants to help.

Part of me wants to know what happened.

Part of me wants to get over the possibility.

Part of me is glad I never had to do this in the age of social media.

Part of me hopes somebody else comes along, if that’s the way.

Part of me wants to reach out to one, part to the other.

Part of me wants to gather both together.

Part of me is grateful.

Part of me is confused and angry.

Part of me doesn’t know what to do next.

Part of me says it’s not up to me.

Part of me doesn’t want to see it end.

Part of me is relieved.

Part of me wonders what might have been and still might be.