You’re looking at posts marked Plainlife . More Categories »

A note to Ice to the Brim readers about Alan Watts

Hey y’all! (I’m talking mostly to you, email subscribers.) It might seem like my blog’s been taken over by Alan Watts quotes. Yes, it has; you’re not crazy.

I’m in the middle of an excellent lecture series by Alan Watts called You’re It and it’s kind of hitting all my buttons.

What I’ve known of Watts before always left me feeling pretty good about him, but I never dove deep into his work. Now, however, this book is giving me full on hunger pangs for more.

Listen, if you’re interested in this kind of stuff too, shoot me a lil’ tweet or something. I don’t know, feels like this stuff could matter a lot and it’s kind of lonely out here.

K. Hi. Sorry I don’t write to you more!

Miscarriage from the father’s perspective

I woke up on our first full day in Dallas to the sound of my wife crying loudly from the bathroom. To my mind it could only be one thing. I was right.

We had been pregnant. 13 weeks. Just basically right at the time where you could expect things, statistically, to go well. But, as my wife, Mellisa, puts it, “I’m cursed so statistics don’t work on me.” She had started bleeding. It didn’t seem very heavy, but it was blood, and it brought back a rush of fear, sorrow and insanity.

In July of 2013, 2 and a half years ago, we lost our son Rowan in full term labor. Pregnancy with him seemed fairly normal. We moved ourselves down to the bay area from Portland to be closer to my family. In one emergency trip to the hospital all those plans extinguished, blown out, lots of smoke left over to live through.

13 weeks isn’t a long time for a pregnancy. But it’s a pregnancy. It’s life. It’s a thing you change your life and your self for. It’s a thing you have to open yourself to. And the life inside a woman starts speaking with her almost immediately. The language of the body, sickness, nausea, giddiness, hunger, premonitions.

We had one of those going. It is gone now.

We talk to some experts back home, “go to an emergency room if you can, get an ultrasound to check on things.” We did. Took the better part of that day. I tried not to be disappointed to miss time with my friends while we were in the same town, a rare time for internet friends. I did well. I know not to tread on the impulses of motherhood. We had to wait for the ultra sound technician, they don’t keep one on staff. We waited.

I knew this feeling, waiting on an ultrasound tech. This very same thing happened with Rowan. “I really don’t want another doctor to look up from an ultrasound screen and say, ‘I’m really sorry to tell you this…’”

The images of an ultrasound are black gradients of blobs and bubbles. I saw one bubble I knew to be our baby (not my first ultrasound.. by a long shot). But 13 weeks is very small. Apparently, by 13 weeks the baby already has unique finger prints. I couldn’t see the finger prints from the black and gray blobs onscreen.

In a moment with emergency ultrasounds there’s not a screen for the mother to look at. They keep that view for the doctor. But dads can see. And I saw. With Rowan, I knew. There was no movement, utter stillness. His fully developed infant heart, usually so clear to see on the screen, stillness. I knew before Mellisa.

I knew this time too. That’s a lot of responsibility for a man, those moments between the screen and the pronouncement. In this case the technician had to leave, wasn’t allowed to tell us anything, by law needed to save that for “the guy who gets paid a lot more than me,” the doctor. Mellisa and I had about 30 minutes together before the doctor came.

I wasn’t sure if I should tell her what I saw. Because there was a moment in there where I think I knew. Well, I knew, but I wan’t to make room for possibility because I am not an ultrasound technician and I don’t know what’s what (especially at this early stage of pregnancy).

But there’s one part I knew real well.

When you go get a regular ultrasound in early pregnancy, the best part, the main event, is the heartbeat. They turn up the static and you hear gurgles and slushing as the tech moves around to find the baby before you hear a… wait… there it… in and out the tech moves to zero in on it. And, like a cinematic reveal, bang, slow motion, beauty shot of the heartbeat. You can hear it like a faithful old generator at a cabin, whirring away in time. You can also see, on the LCD screen, the blips on the time line as the heartbeat is measured visually. You can see it clear as day.

This day in Dallas, our tech didn’t turn up the volume, but the screen was clear as day. There was no heartbeat.

“Heartbeat.” When the tech left and we were waiting for the doctor, I wanted to tell mellisa what I saw, but “heartbeat” felt like too much of a word. It speaks to the person of our child. Doctors use terms like “fetal demise” to be exact and to, I can only imagine, protect somewhat from this kind of person-hood. (They have to do this shit all the time, I don’t blame them.) And in that space, when we were waiting for the doctor, I didn’t know how to tell what I saw to Mellisa, life giver, mother of the heartbeat. Eventually it just came out, “I really… I think the baby is gone… there was no heartbeat… like, in the little lines.”

It was during the ultrasound that the baby became a person to me. As a dad you don’t feel the impulses of pregnancy in your body. I didn’t really sense the personhood of my first son until he started showing signs of recognizing me. With Rowan, it wasn’t until I saw his intensely delicate and detailed finger tips. (I still lose a breath when I remember I never saw his eyes.) In this ultrasound I could vaguely see the arms and legs, the shape of this baby, him or her, and he or she became a bit of a real thing to me. What had, up to then, been plans and calendar dates, was now this isolated little person in some real way.

Maybe you become a person when your heart starts to beat. Doctors pronounce you dead, not when your heart stops, but when your brain activity stops. Brain activity begins to show itself pretty regularly (EEG something-or-other measurements) at 25 weeks into a pregnancy. Seems no matter where you draw the line on when someone is a human, you’re doing the same thing a concentration camp worker has to do: define boundaries, who’s in, who’s out.

When I felt for this baby, when I loved him or her, that’s when a real sense of loss came. Not just loss because we had timed it pretty well this time — some other friends having a baby close to us, with some holiday’s scheduled just right. Not just because we had been trying to have a baby for about 4 years, losing Rowan after a complete and healthy pregnancy. Not just due to the planning and calendaring and striving, but due to the loss of this person I just now realized I cared about deeply.

And you must know that miscarriages really happen. They happen often. 15–20% of pregnancies in the US come to a miscarriage. That’s pretty damn close to 1 in 4. We miscarried once before this, before Rowan, and before our healthy 6 year old Aiden. This was our 4th pregnancy. Only 1 of 4 survived for us.

It’s hard for my wife not to feel cursed. Instead of a warm and welcome space for her children, she can picture her body to be dangerous and uninhabitable. She wants to think of Aiden as our miracle child, the only one to survive the harsh climate of her broken body. Can you imagine feeling that way? Can you imagine how difficult to hold those thoughts at bay, to prop up a sense of hope and self love in the face of it? How tremendously tiring for her to stay in the mindset that life sprouts up abundantly, without help, all over this planet.

If that mentality takes root it chokes the whole garden. We prop ourselves up in the face of it. Pregnancy, motherhood, fatherhood, family, tribe, village, these are the names by which human life has survived, and the ways we’ll keep plowing on as a species. Most of us don’t deal with death and life regularly like our ancestors did, but we have the tools for it. It’s deep code in ancient language. You may not have felt deep personal loss before, chances are you will. And you may not have felt that singular experience of losing your own. If you reach toward recreating human life, whether your child survives or not, you will feel more than you knew possible.

Please, help us and help yourself to open to that great vulnerability. It sometimes seems that things all around conspire to close and harden us. But even now — maybe especially now — life is big. I want to keep greeting life with as big a love as I can muster.

My Best Writing in 2015

This year I found a bunch of amazing moments and quotes about the creative process. I’ve collected the best of the year here in the Editor’s Picks page. Some of my favorites:

If you’re interested in how amazing people think about creative work get on the list and I’ll send you one email every saturday morning with a few to chew on: get on the list »


Essay-ish Posts

I’m experimenting with using medium for more thinky-writey stuff, using IcetotheBrim.com for quotes, links, and smaller stuff this year. We’ll see how that works in 2016.


Podcast Episodes

If you only listen to one, do the first. These episodes are some of the most popular this year from The Fizzle Show. I hate how these headlines sound but if you give us an hour of your time you’ll see how much further these conversations go than you’d expect.


Large Small Business Pieces


Big Ass Projects


Heading into 2016

My wife and I have been in therapy together for almost a year now. It’s been excellent. I’m seeing a little under the surface of the desires and impulses that push me around my life. I’m very engaged in this process and it’s just getting started.

Here’s a piece that shares a bit more about what I’m seeing and what I expect to shape what the first part of 2016 looks like: Every Morning I am Pulled Apart.

Happy new year, you guys.


Personal Moments of 2015

Highlights from my reading of Dune

“It should be one of the tests,” the old woman said. “Humans are almost always lonely.” Highlighted on Friday, December 18, 2015 at 9:01 AM in Dune by Frank Herbert

A world is supported by four things … ” She held up four big-knuckled fingers. “… the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous and the valor of the brave. But all of these are as nothing … ” She closed her fingers into a fist. “… without a ruler who knows the art of ruling. Make that the science of your tradition!” Highlighted on Friday, December 18, 2015 at 9:21 AM in Dune by Frank Herbert

This world has emptied me of all but the oldest purpose: tomorrow’s life. I live now for my young Duke and the daughter yet to be. Highlighted on Friday, December 18, 2015 at 9:01 AM in Dune by Frank Herbert

Then, as his planet killed him, it occurred to Kynes that his father and all the other scientists were wrong, that the most persistent principles of the universe were accident and error. Highlighted on Friday, December 18, 2015 at 10:09 AM in Dune by Frank Herbert

That girl! She was like a touch of destiny. He felt caught up on a wave, in tune with a motion that lifted all his spirits. Highlighted on Friday, December 18, 2015 at 11:03 AM in Dune by Frank Herbert

“I’ve been a long time waiting for you,” she said. “Here is my life.” Highlighted on Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 9:01 AM in Dune by Frank Herbert

knowledge about it, understand what it was doing to his mother, but the knowledge lacked a natural rhythm, lacked a system of mutual reflection. Highlighted on Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 9:07 AM in Dune by Frank Herbert

This drug–he could assemble knowledge about it, understand what it was doing to his mother, but the knowledge lacked a natural rhythm, lacked a system of mutual reflection Highlighted on Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 9:07 AM in Dune by Frank Herbert

Paul felt himself at the center, at the pivot where the whole structure turned, walking a thin wire of peace with a measure of happiness, Chani at his side. Highlighted on Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 9:12 AM in Dune by Frank Herbert

I am a theater of processes Highlighted on Tuesday, December 22, 2015 at 4:42 PM in Dune by Frank Herbert

When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Highlighted on Tuesday, December 22, 2015 at 5:48 PM in Dune by Frank Herbert

She had quoted a Bene Gesserit proverb to him: “When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way.

Their movement become headlong — faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thought of obstacles and forget that a precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it’s too late.” Highlighted on Tuesday, December 22, 2015 at 5:48 PM in Dune by Frank Herbert

I must not die. Then it will be only legend and nothing to stop the jihad. Highlighted on Tuesday, December 22, 2015 at 9:11 PM in Dune by Frank Herbert

I know the reasons for this, she thought. I shouldn’t let it stir me. Highlighted on Friday, December 25, 2015 at 11:48 PM in Dune by Frank Herbert

Expect only what happens in the fight. That way you’ll never be surprised. Highlighted on Monday, December 28, 2015 at 1:53 PM in Dune by Frank Herbert

What If You Made Up Your Own Holiday Traditions?

So, a friend asked this a couple days ago: we don’t have any Christmas traditions and I want to make some up for my son and I. What do you guys do, what do you like about it, what do you wish you did?

I got really excited about it. I have a 6 year old son, a gorgeous and smart wife and we live pretty far from both our families. I would love for Aiden (my son) to have a sense of holiday tradition that feels like us — thoughtful, goofy, inclusive, inebriatory, lots of moments where I cry in parts of kids movies, etc.

Read More »

The Best Men’s Boxer Brief Underwear 2015

The best boxer brief of 2015 is by far ExOfficio’s Charcoal Heather Give n Go.

The Heather part in there is important. It uses a different fabric (47% nylon/47% polyester/4% spandex) which is much better than their standard fabric (94% nylon/6% lycra spandex).

I tried 15+ pairs of undies in the last 8 months and was planning on doing some fancy little review… but as I pulled on my fudgies (that’s what my dad calls underwear) this morning, I felt the guilt of keeping life changing science from men everywhere who are out there sweating and sticking and funking up their world.

So, there you have it. Don’t take my word for it… or do yourself a favor and just do.

The Reeve Will Watch the Manor

“Originally in Anglo-Saxon England the reeve was a senior official with local responsibilities under the Crown e.g. as the chief magistrate of a town or district. Subsequently, after the Norman conquest, it was an office held by a man of lower rank, appointed as manager of a manor and overseer of the peasants. In this later role, historian H. R. Loyn observes, “he is the earliest English specialist in estate management.”

[…] Each unit had a court, and an officer to implement decisions of that court: the reeve. Thus different types of reeves were attested, including high-reeve, town-reeve, port-reeve, shire-reeve (predecessor to the sheriff), reeve of the hundred, and the reeve of a manor.”

Wikipedia


My last name is Reeves, so I found this lil’ wiki article a hoot. I have always had a knack for estate management.

Favorite Things I Wrote in 2014

I wrote quite a bit this year (I’ll attempt a full list at the bottom). But here’s a few of the pieces I think may just be pretty decent.

First of all, it should be said: this podcast is probably my favorite work of all. It’s not brief or clean, but I have the most fun here and speak most honestly in this verbal format. Ok, back to the list.


Greatest Hits This Year

Hopeful Perspectives 1 Year After My Son’s Birth/Death — Medium“It’s wednesday. Hump day. Last week we planned our first son’s 5th birthday party. This week we plan the remembrance of our second son’s birth and death.”

As I Write This. Depression, Anxiety & Entrepreneurship“I’m getting spun up, like a roiling boil. All this activity, all these thoughts, all this motion, and all of it so clearly pointless.”

One Simple Tip to Aim True & Stay Focused in Your Business — I get to talk about Marc Maron + Billy Connolly, that’s an instant hit right there. (God, i fucking hate headlines.)

10 Thoughts on Focus“You are a human. We think that’s your greatest business asset.”

Jim Henson’s 1961 Paper Animation — Just for the little poem I try to remind myself of from time to time.

Crave“So, last night I find myself going through old videos on YouTube. I stumbled across one that was so confusing and painful and brilliant and terrifying.”

Campaigns for George“Ever heard of George McGovern? There’s a story about this guy’s run for presidency that’s instructive for any of us looking to do good work in the world.”

Third Tier Lessons“That right there was the Third Tier moment: do we sheepishly hedge our bets, hoping to be at the right place at the right time to hear about the party more important people than myself will be going to?”

13 Successful Founders Share First Product Stories — Less of a written thing, but a lot of work and some great insights found.

10 Tactics to Better Work-Life Balance“What’s your job? What’s your life? How do they commingle, reflect and refract one another? What’s at stake if you screw this balance up? Your marriage? Your friendships? Your health? Your business success?”

Is Creative Fulfillment in a Career Possible“I used to fancy myself more of a creative. Almost an artist, but that’s, like, a heavy word, man.”

Insights About Customer Service That Will Change The Products You Make (FS067) — it’s a podcast, but the interview in here is still shaking my world up.

Failure Is An Option“I received an email today that my good friend’s company is shutting down, pulling the plug, closing up shop.”

2 Questions to ask Yourself About the “Equal Odds Rule”“Have you seen any Woody Allen movies? Whatever you think of Woody Allen, his love life or the quality of his movies you cannot argue with the sheer NUMBER of movies he’s put out over the course of his life.”


Everything I Wrote this Year

On The Sparkline

On Medium

On Ice to the Brim

  • Too much to recount, but I updated the editor’s picks with my favorites from the year.

Barrett, one of my partners on the podcast, said this a few months ago: “Work today for the body of work you want to have in 5 years” . It haunts me. I’m not sure what I want to have made in 5 years, but I’m pretty sure none of this is that. But there are bits and pieces, little truths and discoveries and hopefully places where someone feels a little more comfortable in their own skin.

Not sure what the theme of my work will be over the next year, let alone the next several, but my existential crisis (discussed in this talk at pioneer nation) led me to this: make people’s lives better in small and meaningful ways. That can’t be too hard, right?

Some of the Better Things I’ve Written

A friend is interviewing me for his podcast. He wanted to immerse himself in things I’ve written to prep. I wondered what I’d tell him.

So I looked through the analytics, ran my favorite engagement report, and collected the most engaged with stuff. Here’s that list, with a few other bits and bobs.


Some of the most engaged with posts at IceToTheBrim.com:


My posts at The Sparkline & Fizzle:


The two biggies from Medium.com


Rowan stuff at the Tumblr:


However, my life’s work will probably be the marginalia found in the descriptions here:

You DID say “immerse.”

This is a screenshot from a webinar I did with Pat Flynn. One of the attendees made this image and put it up. I loved it so hard it hurt. And now there’s a peace there.

Here’s the first of a growing thread within Fizzle. Darlene’s awesome. (Fizzle is the thing I build for a living. I’m fired up, grateful, honored, engaged, in love.)

It’s the 1 year birthday of the day I launched my first product. I was a part of an amazing team with Corbett and Caleb. We worked our asses off, created the seed of Fizzle in a few months, opened it to our large and dedicated audience at Think Traffic, and sold out the first 150 seats in just over two hours. Today we sent this gif in a lovely email to the 40-odd members who signed up that day and are still with us today. Fired up, you guys.