Transition

8 Feb

I’ve transitioned over to a Tumblr account as of late which you can follow by the link. Thanks for your continued interest…

http://mikelehr.tumblr.com/

Iron Man 3: an Introspective Look (CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS)

21 May
credit: LA Times (Disney / Marvel Studios)

credit: LA Times (Disney / Marvel Studios)

I saw Iron Man 3 last night.  I am a fan of all of the films; I think they are well done and I love the way that Robert Downey, Jr. comically and egotistically brings Tony Stark’s character to life.  This post is in no way a detailed review of the film.  

This film is much more focused on Tony Stark dealing with his “demons”: those resulting from the trauma he has experienced and those resulting from his own actions.  One scene in particular stuck with me.  Tony befriends a young boy named Harley who allows Tony to use his barn to repair his suit and nurse himself back to health (mostly emotional).  At one point, Tony  is frustrated and depressed by the lack of progress in repairing the suit.  He has also been overwhelmed by anxiety attacks, depression and feeling sorry for himself.  At one point he seems unwilling to go on or at least not sure how to.  Harley says, “You’re a mechanic, right? Why don’t you build something?” (very loose quote since I could not find the actual one online)  This seems to snap Tony back into doing what he does best, use his intelligence and tinkering ability to create more gadgets to get him out of his current situation and complete his mission.

It struck me after watching this scene how applicable this is to our lives (mine especially).  We often find ourselves in a similar position to Tony.  We are at the end of our rope, frustrated, depressed, and not sure how to move on.  In many cases, the solution is simply action or as Mark Twain said, “write what you know.”  I have also found that we need a Harley in our lives to speak into our state of complacency, depression, lack of motivation or frustration to call us out and rouse us into action.

So if you find yourself, like Tony, stuck and not sure how to move ahead, consider this the call to get up and do what you know.  I am certain you will not make any progress dwelling on how stuck you are or wallowing in self-doubt and frustration.  The world needs you to build something.

My enemy

25 Feb

Some days more than others I feel that I have an enemy; not a super villain who epitomizes evil, boldly and visibly attacking me. No, this one masquerades as rest but is quickly uncloaked as laziness. He conceals himself as boredom and monotony but removing his mask reveals his true face: lack of motivation.

Seasons like this come occasionally. I have found the worst thing to do is sleep a little longer or sink deeper into that comfortable chair. This is the type of enemy who can only be fought by action; writing, working, exercising, being there for your family.

Now and then the call of depression beckons me to come, to stay a while, to rest more, to do less, to feel sorry for myself.  I will not submit, I will press harder on…

Qtown Coffee video

14 Dec

I have some exciting news! As most of you know I have poured the last two years of my life into a dream: Qtown Coffee.  We have had an amazing year raising start-up costs, casting vision and making new friends and partners.  Most recently, the Broadcast Journalism class at Gwynedd-Mercy College filmed a promotional video for us that released on our website today. I am sharing it here as an update and to ask for your help to get the word out and keep the momentum rolling.

Thanks for your support as I continue to pursue this dream.

Lights. Camera. Action!

 

When you are finished watching you can support us by making a donation on our website here.

Aside

Becoming a master of the interruption

13 Oct

This season makes me pause more than others.  Fall is marked with interruptions.  I am interrupted by the beauty of the changing colors around me.  I am interrupted by the cool breeze that reminds me I am alive.  Ultimately these “interruptions” grant me perspective and help me to remember what is important.

A pastor friend recently told me that Jesus was a master of the interruption.  He allowed people to interrupt him constantly.  He even seemed to believe the interruptions were just as important as where he was headed.  Why?  Each interruption was a person in need.

I wonder if one of the keys to life is being a master of the interruption. What does that look like?  Maybe it is allowing ourselves to be interrupted without becoming angry or frustrated.  Maybe it is building more time into our schedules so we allow, even embrace, these interruptions.  Maybe these interruptions not only help us bring clarity to our own life, but allow us to bless others in the process.  As a culture, we are busy people.  We seem to crave busier lives and busier schedules.  We all want to be loved, valued, and needed.

I am finding when I allow interruptions, even embrace them, I become a blessing to others.  But I also find that I am blessed in the process.

Are you living a great story or settling for a bad one?

31 Aug

I just finished reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller.  The subtitle reads, “what I learned while editing my own life.”  The background story of the book is the process it took for Don and the movie directors to make his previous book, Blue Like Jazz, into a movie.  At the foreground, and what makes it so compelling, is what Don learns throughout the process: that writing a good story, making a good movie and living a good life have many things in common.  Don confesses early in the book that he didn’t know going into it what it took to make a good movie.

It seems he learned the most about film-making and story from his new friends Steve and Ben, Blue Like Jazz’s director and the cinematographer, and a seminar he took from the famous Robert McKee.

The book itself actually has little to do with the actual process of turning Blue Like Jazz into a movie.  There are some scattered stories here and there about the team moving the writing of the film forward and discussing good film-making principles, but the majority of the book focuses on Don’s discovery of story and how it begins to change his life.

Not only was this an inspiring read, but it was obviously a pivotal book for Don.  If you’re not familiar with his writing, he is never afraid to spill his true feelings out onto the page.  But rather than the documentary-style, memoirish read of Blue Like Jazz, this is much more personal.  Don takes you along for the ride on his journey to a better life, inspiring you along way.  This book is a gift that Don shares freely with the world, and I am better off after having read it.

While reading I began thinking more about my own life and story.  Is my life story worth reading or watching?  Would it inspire or captivate anyone?

I am now more convinced that we are so obsessed with being entertained (watching movies, television series and reading books) because we are living boring, mundane and meaningless lives.  This is not to belittle the art of cinema, television and writing.  I highly value all of them.  But if we dig deep down, are we entertaining ourselves all the time to be distracted from our own dull lives? We were not meant to live these bad stories, but we settle for them all the time.  As Don mentions in his book, we are less concerned with entertaining ourselves when we are too busy living our own great story.

The music of David Ramirez

16 Jun

I discovered David Ramirez last December.

I first downloaded his free live album, Live at the Cactus, and I have been hooked ever since.  The power of his pure and raw voice combined with his acoustic live sound and amazing songwriting just blew me away.  Paste Magazine calls him, “the best damn songwriter you don’t know yet.”  I fully agree.  He also has a free EP download available called Serialbox Sessions.  This does not disappoint either.  Two of my favorite songs are featured here in Fires and Shoeboxes.  In addition to these albums, David has another EP called Strange Town and a studio album called American Soil and he starred in a small independent film released last year called Between Notes for which he also provided music.

David just recently completed another studio album that is due to drop on August 28th, which I am very excited about.  In order to remain a completely independent artist, he started a Pledgers opportunity for fans to participate in giving Apologies a proper release through Pledge Music.  Within days, he reached his goal and added the caveat that 10% of the money raised after reaching the goal will go to benefit Invisible Children, a great charity that David, “cares deeply about.”  The beauty of being a committed pledger is that David has offered free downloads, previews and other great features.  The songs he has shared so far continue to set the bar higher.  One in particular that immediately captivated me is “Find the Light.”  David’s performance (which I have embedded below) is true to his pure, acoustic style; just him and his guitar.  The lyrics are just as powerful. Here they are (I personally transcribed these so I cannot guarantee their accuracy):

I wish upon you peace

I wish upon you grace
I wish for less of what you want
And more of what you need
I wish upon you an old life
with a heart that stays young
but most of all I wish upon you love
 
I wish upon you truth
When all you feel is doubt
I hope you know that an open mind
Still knows when to shut things out
I wish upon you a brave heart 
That will always rise above
But most of all I wish upon you love
 
As the sun sets, the moon begins to rise
So even in the darkness you’ll find the light
You’ll find the light
You’ll find the light
Yeah, even in the darkness, you’ll find the light
 
I wish upon you an easy life
I wish upon you hard times
I hope you know that both joy and pain
Both need their moment to shine
I wish you ears that are quick to listen
And you’re slow to use that tongue
But most of all I wish upon you love
 
Cuz as the sun sets, the moon begins to rise
So even in the darkness you’ll find the light
You’ll find the light
You’ll find the light
Oh you’ll find the light
Yeah, even in the darkness, you’ll find the light
 
I could not help but think as I listened to the song that this is a prayer I would pray over my children.  There is so much depth and wisdom to these lyrics.
 
Last week, I had the privilege to hear David perform at Chaplin’s Music Cafe in Spring City, Pennsylvania.  It was a very small and intimate venue which was the perfect place to see him.  You could hear a pin drop during his performance.  His voice powerfully holds your attention as he pours out his honest stories of life and love.
 
I do not blog about music often, but I have been influenced and inspired so much that I want more people to know and experience the music of David Ramirez.  I think you will be better having heard it.
 
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