There’s a lot of helpful how-to content online, and I’m often thankful for it. If I want to fix a broken appliance or learn a new skill, there’s bound to be a video tutorial posted somewhere that I can follow. In some ways it’s sad that our first place to seek advice is now Google instead of a real life social network of family, friends, and neighbours. However, my friends and family have almost certainly never replaced a ball-bearing unit on a Hotpoint X350KW. So I am thankful for strangers who make online tutorials.
They certainly make a lot of them. You can get how-to content on pretty much anything these days. One popular genre, which I’m sure you’ve seen, is successful influencers and millionaires posting about how they made their money or gained their audience, and how you and I could do the same if we would just follow their five-step fail-proof system. First, they talk about how they started with so little (showing their common, ordinary origins), and then they describe their ascent to greatness before coming back around to their humble beginnings and finishing with an encouraging comment like, “If I can do it, anyone can!”
Continue reading If I Can Do It, Anyone Can
“She’s so generous,” he said.
If he said it to you, what would your first thought be about the person he described? Would it have anything to do with how she uses her money? Probably it would. Money is the context we almost always use the word “generous” for. And that’s not bad—we need far more financial generosity in the world. But let’s not forget that the word (and the reality it stands for) applies to far more than our finances.
Continue reading Generous Patience
Communication is powerful. Written and spoken words can carry ideas, and ideas can change the world. This week, I’d like to share with you seven books that changed the way I think about things. There are many other books that I love and many that I have enjoyed greatly, but for a book to be on this list, it has to have changed my perspective on something. Here they are, in no particular order:
Continue reading Seven Books That Changed My Perspective
When we bought our first house, we bought it as-is. We knew that included the broken glass in the back door. We just counted that as part of the price. But someone we knew gave us different advice: she said we should wait a little while, then claim the window as damage on our new home insurance.
Clearly, her plan had advantages. It had taken everything we had to get in the place. It was a miracle that we had been able to cover the bare concrete foundation with cheep flooring. To say the money would have helped is an understatement. And anyway, insurance companies are rich, right? They could hardly need it as much as we did.
Continue reading The Ends and the Means
I wasn’t born in a barn, but I did live in one for a while. My parents had bought some land in the country, and the barn went up fast. Construction of the house was slower, so we lived in the barn while it was being built. There was no insulation, and in most of the internal doorways we hung curtains instead of actual doors. I remember shaking my shoes out before I put them on in the morning to make sure there were no scorpions inside. I also remember being happy. Yes, we were roughing it in a lot of ways, living without a lot of normal conveniences, but life was good. When the house was finally finished and we moved in, it was nice to have fancy things like doors, but it didn’t change the basic dynamic that was already well-established: my parents had created a positive atmosphere, and that was the air I grew up in—it didn’t matter if I was breathing it in a barn with scorpions or a house with doors.
Continue reading When I Lived In A Barn
In the year of our Lord, 1858, the Shirleys of Lough Fea boasted that their estate house contained the largest room in County Monaghan. The honour was not secure, however—a nearby Baron, Lord Rossmore, was determined to claim it for himself. He extended the drawing room of Rossmore Castle to steal the distinction from them. But the rivalry wasn’t over. Lord Rossmore had to extend the drawing room five times to stay ahead of the Shirleys’ relentless construction, and in the end his drawing room still came in second to their Great Hall.
Even though it lacked the largest room in the county, no one could deny that Rossmore Castle was beautiful, built as it was on top of a hill with a panoramic view and 117 windows to see it through (the Shirleys only had 96). Its towers and turrets looked as if they had been lifted straight out of a fairytale illustration, even more so when there was a party on, and there were a lot of parties. The guest lists were star-studded as well—the Prince of Wales was a personal friend of Lord Rossmore. But, as can happen in fairytales, the castle vanished. This had more to do with dry rot than magic, but the effect was the same.
Continue reading The Invisible Castle