In the Hands of the Maker

A few days ago, I had the wonderful experience of learning how to turn a small block of wood into a beautiful pen by using a wooden lathe.

In a word, it was awesome!

I’ve never made something like this before and I had a blast! It also made me think of the symbolism of the master carpenter. I hope you don’t mind if I share my rambling thoughts with you 🙂

Making a Pen

In order to make a proper pen, there are several steps involved. First, you need the proper materials, tools, and environment in which to work. All of your tools must be sharpened, wood properly measured, and location appropriately placed.


Next, the wood is cut, drilled, and glued in order to fit the proper equipment inside. From there, you place the piece on the lathe, turn on the machine, and gently use your cutting tools to round out the rough edges. It takes a soft but firm hand in order to smooth out all of the corners. If you jab too hard the wood can catch and potentially force your chisel to slap back at you. Too soft and you won’t be able to carve away the pieces that aren’t needed. Also, you must keep your chisels straight, or else you can gouge and ruin your work.

This whole process goes from a blank piece of wood into a beautiful piece of equipment.


Shaping my own piece revealed to me the time and care a master carpenter must put into their work. Once they have their craft mastered, they can create amazing works of art in a short amount of time that will stun potential customers. It’s crazy to think that a little piece of wood can be carved into something so unique and useful.

And that reminds me of life.

Each of us starts off as a blank slate.


We have our own personalities, features, and characteristics that make us who we are (just as wood has different textures, hardness, grains, and colors). Throughout life we go through challenges that slowly shape us into the people we become. Oftentimes life is fun like being polished, but other times, challenges are like blades that chip away at our character and teach us powerful lessons.


In the end, the hope is that we’ll become the incredible beings we were always meant to be. It’s not easy. And it’s not always fun, but with a gentle and firm hand the creator shapes us into powerful influences. Whether for good or ill per our choice, he is always shaping us.


It’s easy to forget that. I know I do. But no matter how long we’ve lived and what we’ve experienced, the master carpenter always has his hand on us.



Why You Matter

It’s true. In your tiny spot of the trillions of galaxies surrounding us, you matter.


Here’s why.

Out of the billions of people who exist on this planet, there’s no one like you. No one’s lived in your circumstances or been through the same stuff. No one thinks like you, not in the same way.

Do You Know How Incredible You Are?


Everything you do influences the people around you. A simple touch, look, smile, may transform someone you’d never suspect. You have the power to shape the lives of millions of people.

You might think that’s crazy. I know it’s hard to believe. How can you affect that many people? You’re just one person.

Well, think about this. What if a smile you gave someone helped them choose to live another day? What if, because of your smile, they decided to push themselves and become the scientist who discovers the cure for cancer?

What if your hug today, saved someone’s life?

You’re probably thinking, yeah right. That might be true for some people, but not me. That’s impossible.

Impossible? How many times have we proved the impossible, possible? That someone from Canada can communicate with an Australian in seconds by the flip of a switch should be impossible. That hundreds of thousands of pages of information are uploaded into this huge system known as the internet should be impossible. That you’re reading this right now should be impossible.

But it’s not. And neither is it impossible that you have the power to inspire the people around you.

You’re never gonna meet anyone like you. That should be impossible. Even if you have a twin, they’re not completely like you. No one is. And amazingly enough, no one ever will be.

Time always ticks forward, and no one’s gonna occupy your space in it.

No one has your smile, your touch, your influence. No one’s gonna transform the world like you. Think about that.

You’re Irreplaceable.


Your best friend won’t find someone like you again. Your parents aren’t gonna have a child like you twice. And even if you don’t have any friends or family, that doesn’t matter. No one’s got your eyes, your smile, your heart. No one’s gonna touch the world like you.

They can’t. They’re not you.

It’s hard to know if our lives mean anything. Trust me, I know. But no one can take away your influence.

No One Will Ever Be Like You.


Even if you don’t believe me, I want you to try something. Close your eyes and breathe in deep. Shut out the sound and look inside. Do you hear that? It’s your heart. And there’s nobody on this planet who’s got one like it.

So get out there. Be you. And transform the world.

Five Tips To Help You Reach Your Goals

1. Clean Up Your Space


It’s amazing what a little organization can do for your ego. I recently moved to a new state and for the past month have been living in a room that just looked and felt like a pig sty.

And it destroyed my creativity!

Every time I entered my personal space, I just wanted to veg out and crash. Definitely not a good motivational boost.

When I finally buckled down and moved my shoe rack into my closet and my leatherworking stuff into the basement, it felt like entering a brand new room. I was so excited, I decided to go ahead and clear up my desktop space as well.

That move really got my creative juices flowing. Every time I open my laptop now, I get a warm fuzzy feeling of pride. (Course, it took me until 4:00 in the morning to do… Figures…) But it was worth it!

2. Exercise

I don’t know what it is, the endorphins, or what, but exercising is an amazing boost for finishing your projects. Two days ago, I finally decided I was just going to get over it and exercise for twenty minutes.Exercise

It. Was. Amazing.

The exercising itself was brutal of course, but afterwards, I was so pumped I decided to get into the shower and put on my war paint! (Haha, what I lovingly call my make-up. It’s the only thing that gets me to put the stupid stuff on :P)

And let me tell you, when you’ve got in some exercise and your best clothes on, you just feel like strutting. When you exercise, you get your crap together. It’s just plain and simple.

3. Listen To Motivational Stuff


The kind of things that you listen to make a huge difference to how your day will play out. At my current job, there are moments where I have to mentally blast some intense music in order to get moving. My job can be very fast paced and it’s easy to drown if I’m not bookin’ it!

What you listen to can make or break you. Anything that you feed your brain will influence your actions. So make sure that food is the best stuff possible! Motivational Speakers, Ted Talks, Uplifting music, anything that helps you get to where you want to go.

4. If You Don’t Know What To Do, Just Do Something


It often takes a small step of faith to move in the right direction. I don’t know how many times I’ve opened a link or clicked on a webinar out of curiosity and it led me to a bunch of other opportunities that paved my way forward.

Sitting around, scratching your head in confusion will get you nowhere fast. Make a decision and just go for it. Decide what you want to do and take the steps to get there. Set a date. Buy a ticket. Set a goal. Get in your car and drive if you have to.

Stop waiting around and just do it. You won’t regret it. 🙂

5. Dust Yourself Off And Try Again

IMG_0004It’s going to happen. You’re going to trip and fall. It’s probably going to hurt. It’ll probably be frustrating. You know what? It’s okay.

Get up. Try again. Failed one goal? Try another. Losing interest? Try something else. Learn from your mistakes and try again.

Haha, I can’t even tell you how many websites I’ve tried to set up and failed. How many blogs I’ve created and given up. But I’m not done yet.

Sometimes all it takes is that little switch and you find yourself in the right place at the right time. Just keep getting up and trying.


Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes it’s hard to find the motivation to keep following your dreams. In fact, it’s often really hard. 🙂

But as long as you keep learning and trying, you’ll get there some day. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. All that matters is that you’re on the right track.

Just Believe

Seven Amazing Things About You

1. You’re Alive

A photo by Ben White.

What a beautiful thing it is to be alive, today, right now. Nothing can take away the influence that you have on the world around you. Nothing can take away you. What a beautiful thing that is.

2. You Can Change


Isn’t that amazing? No matter what life has dealt you… you can always change. You can make the most out of the situation. You can learn and grow. It doesn’t have to be the same day in and day out. You can create your own destiny.

3. You Are Loved


You are loved by so many. Even if they may be unseen, there are people rooting for you. People who love you so much. There are strangers in the world right now who want to meet you and become friends with you. There are people that want to lift you to greater heights. You matter.

4. You Can Change the World


That’s right. You. You can gain the know how. You can find the right people at the right time. You can influence hundreds if not thousands of people. Even millions. One step in the right direction can lead to a better, more hopeful planet.

5. Pain Makes You Who You Are


Believe it not, it’s the scars that make you more beautiful. The scars that you have make you unique and bring you closer to those around you. The hard things in life help you recognize the good. Pain can be an excellent, but difficult teacher.

6. You Are The Only Thing Stopping You


It’s true. The only thing keeping you from achieving your dreams is you. It’s as simple as that. Master yourself, you master your life. Conquer your fears, you tear down the wall blocking you.

7. If You Believe It, Nothing Can Stop You


Stop and think about that for a moment. If you truly believe something, truly, with every single cell in your body, there’s absolutely nothing that can stop you. If something’s important to you, really important, you’ll cling to it with everything you’ve got.

Do you know how powerful you are?

It’s incredible.


Drop the Reins and Enjoy the Ride

I’m sorry that I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been in the process of moving and it has taken every last ounce of my time and energy to get everything packed and organized. But now that I’m settled in, I wanted to write about some advice my good friend gave to me the night before my big move.

Drop the Reins


When I suggested the idea of packing up and leaving town, my parents believed that it was unsafe for my little junker car to make the drive from Arizona to Utah. They decided to pull it by trailer and make the journey with me.

Now that I look back on it, it was so sweet and definitely something they didn’t have to do, but my independent heart hated the idea in the moment. Thoughts like, what would people think of me or I would look like such a brat kept running around in my head.

When I told my friend this, she just gave me this look and said, “Drop the reins.”

My good friend is a country girl at heart and knows that I am too. Her words struck home.

While horseback riding, there’s a temptation to tighten your grip on the reins when you feel nervous or helpless. It’s easy to tense up and try to take control of the situation. However, when you do that, it can agitate your horse. This leads to a bad situation potentially getting worse.

It’s why my instructor always told me to count to four when I breathed so I could relax. When I relaxed, the situation became calmer and I rode more confidently.

Anyways, when my friend said that, I felt caught. I could just feel my cheeks burning up and I stumbled to find something else to say.

She was right

I was trying to take control of a situation and be strong when I didn’t have to. My parents were doing something nice for me. I didn’t have to be so high and mighty about it.

I probably could have stuffed everything in my car and made the drive. My Saturn Ion might’ve been just fine. Except, coming up with my parents grew to be a blessing.

When I got to Utah, I realized that I had no idea where my apartment was. I struggled to contact the girl whose room I was moving into. It became a bit of a fiasco that I had also come a day earlier and forgot to let my roommates know.

Anyways, thankfully, my parents had smart phones so I could quickly message people in order to get the help I needed. Without them, I probably would’ve been stranded. (I’m still saving up for my own smart phone :P)

Also, how sweet of it was for my mom and dad to take the time off to make sure I was taken care of? A lot of people don’t have both their parents around and, even if they do, they may not be willing or able to drive their child to another state. The action made me feel helpless, but it truly was a service on their part.

And it just made me think.

How many times have I wanted to take the reins?


And how often has that denied someone the opportunity to serve and help me?

We were put in this life together in order to help each other grow. If people were meant to be alone, we would’ve been placed individually on our own planet, but that’s not the way things are.

We were placed here to connect and serve one another. Sometimes I get so worked up about wanting to be by myself and living on my own that I forget the importance of the relationships in my life.

In my search to be strong and alone, I leave myself open to a great deal of pain.


As Master Oogway said in Kung Fu Panda, “My old friend, the panda will never fulfill his destiny and you, yours, until you let go of the illusion of control.”

When I drop the reins and turn to those closest to me, it gives me strength. As I open my heart, others are able to come in and buoy me up. Life’s always a give and take or a balancing act.

I’m so grateful that my parents were willing to make that drive for me. I’m so grateful for the wonderful people in my life who give me the advice that I need to be better.

I would not be who I am today if not for them.


What about you? What’s helped you to drop the reins in your life? How has that experience changed or taught you?

Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you! And share if you liked the post! It helps me so much and you can follow me by opening the menu, scrolling down, and clicking the follow button. 🙂


As always, thanks for reading and have a blessed day!

You Are Stronger Than You Think You Are

The first day I started working at my job in the wilderness therapy program, I was ready to quit.

That night we slept under makeshift tarps. I stayed up for hours listening for hungry animals. Also, I walked into something prickly while having to go to the bathroom. This cholla, I soon discovered, grew all around me getting stuck in my hand and pack while loading up the next day.

Needless to say, I woke up tired, sore, and depressed.

This was a job I had been wanting to do for years and I wanted to quit right after the first day. And I thought, how pathetic is that?

Something that I’ve dreamed of doing for so long and I’m not strong enough to do it.


Why am I so weak?

Then we started hiking and I was done for. Lagging behind the rest of the group, exhausted, weighed down, I felt myself breaking. I had to sit down while everyone walked past.

What was wrong with me? Everyone looked perfectly fine as if they could go on for hours. I felt like I would shatter the next minute and it took all my strength not to crack.

One of my co-workers sat next to me and I told him I really needed a break which he said was fine. I don’t remember much from that conversation except telling him that I was afraid that I may not be able to do this. That I wasn’t strong enough and I felt foolish for even trying.

Well, he encouraged me to keep going. The first couple of weeks were always the hardest, but it would get easier. I nodded and breathed in deep. I wasn’t going to cry in the middle of a hike.

Then we pressed on, but I was invited to the front of the group. Another blow. This meant that I was the slowest hiker.

Could I really do this? Who was I fooling?

Anyways, the rest of that day was exhausting and I continued to worry if this was the right thing for me to do. But I didn’t want to give up. I couldn’t.

I don’t know if it was just my stubbornness, pride, or heart. But I wasn’t going to give up. Not yet.


The next day, we’re working on busting our first primitive fires. Already, a few of my colleagues had successfully made their own flame.

Once again, I seemed to be failing. Frustrated with myself, I had to put the task aside and work on something else.

My boss sat next to me and started to ask me some things about myself. What I liked to do, what I wanted to do with my life etc. etc. Eventually we got onto busting a coal. I can’t remember how it started, but I remember asking him this.

“Do you think I can do this? I’m just struggling for some reason.”

Implying the fears that had been dancing around in my head. That drew his attention. He explained that busting a coal was hard. That not everyone could do it. Inwardly I thought, “Yeah, tell that to everyone here.”

“I just don’t know if I can do this,” I said.

He looked at me with kind of this knowing smile.

“I think you’re stronger than you think you are.”

Those words jolted deep into my being.

“What makes you say that?”

Hah, his reasons came in the form of an analogy 🙂 A man who was stuck in a wheelchair finds out that he has the potential to walk again. Is it going to be easy for him? No, but is he capable of doing it? Absolutely.

But, he has to put in extra time and effort to make it possible. He’ll have to exercise, stretch, and work. It’s going to take more out of him than anyone else to be able to walk and, at first, he may not have the strength to do it. However, he is capable. He will walk if he chooses to do so.

My boss then smiled at me and said, “I know you can do it.”

The next day I busted my first coal. In moments, after careful blowing, it grew to a flame. I cried out with ecstatic joy and hugged my friends.

I had done it


For the next eight months I embarked on an incredible journey in the wilderness helping youth to find their seeds of greatness. I met so many amazing people who taught me so much. I grew a greater understanding of myself and the world around me.

Photo credit to Lana Strathearn

It wasn’t easy. There were a lot of moments like my first weekend where I wondered. Could I really do this?

But I did.

From that experience, I know that each person who chases after their heart song will face challenges. They will face things that will make them think.

“I can’t do it.”

“I’m not strong enough.”

“It’s too much.”

But let me tell you what my boss and good friend told me.

I think you’re stronger than you think you are.


5 Easy Steps to Accept Criticism

This is something that I struggle with. I’m excited to try out these steps in my journey.


butterflyWritten by Eric C., MA., PhD Candidate (USA)

Founder of:MakeItUltra™

“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain, but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” ~Dale Carnegie

My fiancé can’t stand the way I drive. I, of course, do not agree with her criticism and defend my driving skills as if I ama professional formula one driver. I am not special in regards to accepting criticism. No one likes to be criticized, but it is part of myexistence unless Ibecome a hermit who lives in a cave. In the current age where criticism is only a “Yelp” away, being able to accept criticism, whether it is fair or not is both necessary and vital for growth.

Here are five easy steps to accept criticism:

1. Don’t let a knee jerk reaction make a jerk out of you
Don’t be reactive. When criticized we may…

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