Goodbye, Two Graf Life!

Sometimes, a project fails. Sometimes, it’s completed. And sometimes, a project with no real plan never goes anywhere. That’s what happened to Two Graf Life, a good idea that I never really gave a chance. In its nearly 3 years in existence, I managed to write only 27 posts for it.

So I pulled the plug. I deleted the blog, let the domain name go and moved on – just a few days ago. Now, those 27 posts along with the About page that introduced them are here for you to enjoy.

After all, you deserve more than a one graf life.

About Two Graf Life

Welcome to Two Graf Life, a secret blog project by Gip Plaster. You see, I started this blog without promoting it online or telling anyone about it. So if you’ve found it, I hope you’ll consider yourself lucky. There’s some really interesting stuff here. And if you know me personally and have found it, you’re doing even better.

This is a personal blog cut down to size — without fluff. It’s simple in a way that those bloggers who write 2,000-word posts could never imagine. Every post is just two paragraphs. Why only two paragraphs? That’s plenty of space to address any one issue or comment on any one thing. If I have more to say, I’ll say it another time. My time is valuable and so is yours, so there’s no point going on and on about any topic. When you’ve made your point, it’s time to stop.

The 27 Posts Of Two Graf Life

A First Post That Says It All

April 12, 2016

Maybe I shouldn’t give everything away in the first post, but I’m doing it anyway. This is really a test post to make sure the blog is working right, but lots of things in life are about testing the waters. I’ve created this blog because I’m a forty-something guy who still hasn’t figured out the purpose of my life, and I’m going to explore life’s many purposes here with you — just a couple paragraphs at a time.

Here’s what I know so far: a meaningful life must include people, places and things that feel important. It doesn’t necessarily include travel (as so many bloggers suggest) or a big family (as so many bloggers suggest). But what are the essential components of a good life? What needs to be rejected? And what does it mean when a test post sets such a broad pathway for a blogging project? Let’s find out.


Another Blog Nobody Reads

May 3, 2016

Is that really what the world needs? There are thousands — maybe millions — of blogs online that no one reads. Why should I start another? But some blogging projects are more for ordering the minds of the people who create them that for reaching an audience. Still, I suspect people will soon be reading — and commenting, even on old posts like this one that no one saw at first.

There’s something very liberating about writing for no one to read. You’re free to say what you like. I write thousands of words for my writing clients every day, and some of those never get read either. It makes sense that I’d write a few for myself as well — even if they never find an audience. It’s cathartic if nothing else. Besides, there’s no harm in writing a blog no one reads. The words may eventually reach someone who wants or needs them.


When You Need A Plumber…

May 7, 2016

When you need a plumber, the first and smartest choice may be to become a plumber — at least for a few minutes. When it was time to replace the inside of our toilet tank recently, I kept putting it off because I remember how hard it was last time. But I have experience now. While I could have shelled out a couple hundred dollars to have my toilet fixed, I opted to use $12 of my money and less than an hour of my time to solve this minor plumbing issue. It worked out fine, and it was much easier and quicker than I remembered it being.

I like the idea of being the change you want to see in the world. I like the old Army advertising slogan encouraging you to be all you can be. And sometimes, what you need to be is a plumber. There’s nothing scary about it or even particularly complicated. You simply have to learn the skill in the same way you learned to groom your beard, paint your nails or blow into a trumpet. And the sound of a perfectly functioning toilet after months of gulps and glurps is indeed music.


It’s Time To Get This Started

June 11, 2016

Finding ways to express myself is important to a more stable and happy future. Could the same be true for you? I’ve found it difficult to find happiness and fulfillment recently, and one of the biggest obstacles standing between me and greater contentment is a feeling of being disconnected, stifled or unable to connect with others. Sharing two paragraphs with a very small audience won’t solve that problem, but starting each morning by focusing on offering a positive message based on my life experiences certainly can’t hurt in my quest to move forward with my life.

So it’s time to get this blog project started. I’ve put up a few explanatory and test posts in the last few weeks as the idea for this project was formulating in my head, but I feel like I’ve reached an important point in my life — one from which I can now move forward. More on that later. For now, I hope you’ll find a way to move forward from whatever challenges you face as I use this blog project as one of the tools to help me have a happier and more fulfilled life.


Crisis Point

June 13, 2016

I can’t pin down exactly what’s been happening in my life that led to a lower level of happiness and satisfaction than ever before, but I know that I’ve reached the crisis point and am ready to climb out, move forward and reach greater heights than ever before. As a tall person, achieving the height of personal satisfaction should come more naturally to me.

I can’t point to any incidents that have resulted in reaching this crisis point, but I feel it within me. And I feel a stronger desire to overcome this mid-life obstacle than ever before. Life can wear us down at times because there’s so much to do, so many negative influences to which we can succumb and so many ways we could have done better in the past. But the future holds endless possibilities when we put aside our insistence on dwelling on the negative and look at how many circumstances are working toward our good. I feel pretty good right now, and I hope you do too. Let’s maintain some positivity as we move forward from our crisis points and move in hope toward a future with so much potential that it can’t be contained.


Maybe The Good Life Doesn’t Need To Include Travel

June 14, 2016

So many people advise that travel is an important part of reaching a full understanding of life and your place in it. But I’ve always had a problem deciding how I feel about that. I’ve been inspired by churches, natural beauty and human-created marvels in cities near and far, but I often don’t sleep well in hotels and don’t like driving or riding around all day. Sometimes I wonder if my mind has the ability to create better experiences that I can find by exploring the world.

I don’t have an answer here. But I think this much is certain: life isn’t empty, hollow or narrow if you can’t or don’t travel. Travel is one way to expand your horizons, but it certainly isn’t the only way. Meditation, attending local events and meeting new people also expands your viewpoint. The important thing, I think, is to keep doing new things to challenge yourself. Otherwise, life gets dull and stagnate.


Midlife Crisis

June 16, 2016

What’s a midlife crisis? According to my dictionary, it’s a crisis of identity and perhaps self-confidence that happens to some people as we get to early middle age. That sounds like what’s happening in my life. It’s interesting that many sources also include the idea that people start buying things they don’t need and start trying to act younger as they enter a midlife crisis. But I don’t want to be young again. And I don’t want any more stuff.

In fact, I want less of most things. I’ve found that being surrounded by things makes me nervous and even unhappy. To find greater happiness, I need less junk, a clearer head and more meaningful and interesting things to do that make a real difference in the world. I don’t need a Corvette, and I hope you don’t either. My midlife crisis is about simplicity and usefulness, not about showing off how many things I’ve acquired. And some definitions of a midlife crisis include erratic behavior that hurts people, and I don’t want to hurt anyone.


I Think It’s Called Contentment

June 16, 2016

The feeling that I’m searching for in life is an elusive thing called contentment. It’s more than just moments of happiness. It’s a long-term and perhaps permanent feeling that everything’s okay — and maybe even very nice. It’s a consistent baseline feeling that I don’t always have. Having contentment means there’s no room in your life for despair and that temporary setbacks like bad news and bad circumstances don’t completely derail your life.

The goal for my life — and perhaps for you — is to expand the contentment that I sometimes feel to form a safety net under my whole life that keeps low moments from going too low. With that net in place, it’s easier to recover from the hard times because the climb back up to normal isn’t as steep or as high. I’m on a journey toward permanent contentment, and I’m glad you’re with me.


An Appointment To Get At The End Of The Line

June 17, 2016

When a tire store near me first started offering appointments, I set one up to have my tires balanced and rotated. When I got there, they told me there was a long wait. That’s no problem for me, I said, since I have an appointment. I was informed, however, that an appointment qualified me to get at the end of the line when I arrived. Years later, I tried an appointment at the same shop and arrived 15 minutes early. When I asked what was taking so long to get started since the shop wasn’t busy, I was told that they were waiting for my appointment time before starting on my car.

Yes, those things actually happened. Even though the people at the store seemed reasonably intelligent, they couldn’t see past their misunderstanding of company policies to see how ridiculous these two situations were. They were caught up in rules. Why make an appointment to get at the end of the line when anyone walking in can do that? And why delay the work of someone with an appointment until the clock looks right? If you don’t understand the problem with these two situations, you just might be too caught up in silly rules and nonsense yourself. And I hope you aren’t.


Writing Is My Compulsion

June 21, 2016

As you’ve probably already guessed, writing is a kind of compulsion for me. You see, I don’t usually plan what I write when I’m writing these essays. I simply start typing, and a relatively well-organized bit of text emerges. The process of writing like this helps me arrange my thoughts in a way that I can’t do if I’m not writing. The process of putting a couple of paragraphs of heartfelt prose into the world makes me feel better. This doesn’t happen when I’m doing writing work for other people, however. It’s something special that happens when I write without an agenda.

Do you have something in your life that you feel compelled to do by some inner force that you don’t understand? If you’re compelled by money, a family member or something else, that’s not the same thing. But if there’s something in your life you feel motivated to do for no particular reason, it’s probably really important. And you won’t find happiness unless you find ways to do it.


Am I Actually The Luckiest Guy In The World?

June 22, 2016

Some might say that I’m among the luckiest (or most blessed, most fortunate) people in the world. I have someone to love and have since I was 17, I have a job writing, which is something that I love — and I set my own hours. I rarely work all day, and when I do, it’s by choice. But why do I often feel like something’s missing from my life?

I know that my life doesn’t involve as many friends as I’d like and it doesn’t involve as much variety or as many new experiences as I’d prefer. But really, is there all that much wrong? Do you have the same problem I do? Do you often wish for and hope for things toward which you aren’t working? And do you fail to notice just how much you already have going for you? You may be a lot luckier — more blessed or even happier, perhaps — than you realize.


Writing Is Also Therapy

June 23, 2016

I mentioned that writing is a compulsion for me — something I must do. But it’s also a kind of therapy that helps me organize my thoughts and get things off my chest. In fact, when I don’t have a blog project or some other way to express my feelings, I don’t feel right. No other means of expression impacts me in the same way that writing does.

You must have something like that in your life. What do you do to clear your head, improve your perspective and simply make you feel better? I’ve heard others mentioning that swimming, hiking and doing jigsaw puzzles can have a therapeutic effect. For me, it’s typing words onto a page, just as I’m doing now. I feel better already.


Finding Time For Happiness Instead Of Work

June 29, 2016

I write hundreds of words every day — and thousands of words many days. Yet most of the time, it’s only the writing that I do for myself and my own projects that really makes me feel good. Interestingly, I have trouble finding time to write these two paragraphs for Two Graf Life even though I’m always writing. In a way, that means I’m having trouble fitting happiness, satisfaction and contentment into my life.

Are there things you really enjoy doing? And do you have trouble finding time to do them? If that’s the case with you as it is with me, I would suggest that there’s a flaw in how your life is organized. While it isn’t always possible, why not put pleasure ahead of all else? You, your family and others who are important to you come before work, errands and chores, don’t they? So why are our lives organized as if work is what’s most important? It just doesn’t make sense.


Are The Sore Shoulders From Writing Or Worrying?

June 30, 2016

When I type a lot in a day without much variety in my activities, my shoulders get sore. Or at least I think that’s what happens. I sometimes think that worrying about hurting myself by working too much is harder on my shoulders than the work itself. If I could take a more relaxed attitude, there might be less pain in my life.

Do you do things every day that cause you pain? Could it be that the pain is the result of worrying about the things rather than the task itself? It may seem like a strange idea to you, but I believe most of my pain issues are caused by stress, worry and attitude. While typing can cause pain, so can stress and worry. So why not join me in trying to put aside actions and thoughts that derail your life unnecessarily?


“I Failed To…”

August 27, 2016

I have a relative who often says “I failed to write that in my checkbook” or the cashier “failed to give me a receipt” — when what she means is “I didn’t” or “he didn’t”. It must be really hard on your self-esteem to consider every small misstep or tiny variation from the usual routine a failure. I’ve never failed to do anything, but I have made a few mistakes along the way.

Even if you’ve experienced something that seems like a failure, it’s important to realize that the situation is only temporary. If you’ve failed someone you love, failed to write something on your grocery list or failed an important test, you’re not a failure. You’ve just experienced a temporary blip, a momentary power failure or a fleeting fowl-up. But when you let failure language creep into your everyday life, you’re setting yourself up for real failure. And you don’t want that.


I’m Focusing On Medical Issues For A Season

October 22, 2016

With some members of my family focusing on medical issues for a while, I’ve decided to focus on a few medical concerns of my own and get a physical. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the doctor. Dwelling on health issues seems to magnify them, so I prefer to avoid them. Doesn’t it make you feel worse to think about your chronic issues? Isn’t it easier when you just ignore them and get on with your life?

But some health issues can’t be completely ignored. While I don’t like the idea of focusing on what may be wrong with me, I’m allowing it in this season because there’s already a lot of talk about medical problems around me anyway. And there are some things with my own health that really need attention. I hope that by the time spring comes, I’ll be experiencing a renewal in my own life. And then all this focus on medical issues can fade into the background — where it belongs.


Rethinking The Medical Profession

November 1, 2016

On my old blog, So Much More Life, I wrote a post called Does A Simple, Minimalist Approach Work With Health Care? I didn’t express an entirely favorable view of the medical profession. And I still don’t like the idea of placing our health in other people’s hands. But some recent health issues in my family have proven that excellent medical care is available in some cases.

Still, the American healthcare system is needlessly complex and often uncaring — and I don’t like big systems much anyway. But this system works in many cases. When you need healthcare, I hope the system works for you. When combined with prayer, meditation, a positive attitude and support from others, our medical system can be one part of staying healthy. But I don’t recommend that you turn your well-being over to anyone — even if they’re trained professionals.


Questioning The Benefits Of Being A Complainer

November 8, 2016

I’ve never been shy about sending an email when I don’t like something about a restaurant or store. I even complained to the state insurance board when an insurance company refused to issue a refund I deserved — and eventually got it. But I’m questioning the idea of complaining to big companies and institutions now. I’ve noticed that fewer companies respond or offer any compensation now, and I don’t think putting all that negative energy out there in the universe really does any good.

As a side job, I’ve written some management responses for online hotel reviews for a large Internet company in India. I write a lot of content for them too. I know that when I write the review response, it means the people in charge at the hotel may never read the review. I also know that all the complaining I read in those reviews seems petty, silly and useless. Who cares if the gravy at breakfast wasn’t very hot. And does it matter that a tile on the bathroom floor was cracked? Do I sound that way when I complain? Do you? Complaining may not be part of a happy life.


Building A Full Life From What’s Around You

November 15, 2016

I believe it’s possible to build a great life from what’s already around you. If you live in a situation that isn’t your ideal — too rural, too high up or too noisy, for example — you can learn to make the best of it. If you live with people who don’t support you fully, you may be able to adjust your interactions with them to make the best of what they have to offer without being brought down by their negativity.

You see, it’s tempting to say that life will really get going once you solve some of your problems. But those problems are life. You’ll always be surrounded by issues that need your attention as well as people and situations that are less than ideal. But there’s no reason to let those small failings become major obstacles for you. Life is, as they say, what you make it. While it may be motivating to strive for more, what you have now could be plenty for today. Don’t you agree?


Growing Up To Play Games

January 3, 2017

I didn’t participate in sports when I was a kid, and I didn’t play many other kinds of games either. I may have played Chinese checkers with my parents or messed around with Connect Four, but I didn’t allow much time in my life for game-playing. I certainly didn’t watch others play games like football or baseball on television. But I find myself playing games now.

In 2016, I got involved in two different hobbies that are essentially scavenger hunt games. And I like them. My work as a writer keeps me inside, and these games get me out and around. I’ll tell you more about the games later, but I thought you might find it interesting that I had to grow up before I became interested in games. I’m in a phase in my life where I welcome frivolity, and I hope you are too.


Don’t Be A Hard Shell

June 23, 2017

When I was a teenager, I overheard a conversation between my mother and the pastor of the church that she and I attended. She was telling the pastor that some of our relatives are “hard shells” — which he correctly understood to mean they were associated with the Hard Shell Baptist — or Primitive Baptist — church, a very conservative sect. The denomination doesn’t believe in working with other congregations on mission boards and other projects. They keep to themselves and practice the old ways.

“Maybe someday, somehow, that shell can be cracked,” our pastor said. Maybe. My relatives involved with the sect died years ago, but it still exists. And I’m happy to let people practice whatever religion they want — as long as they don’t try to interfere with other people and their beliefs. But I don’t like the idea of being old-fashioned or rigid. Do you?


You Deserve More Than A One Graf Life

July 6, 2017

There’s a reason this site isn’t called One Graf Life. Life isn’t meant to be a one-act play, a short story or a single paragraph. I believe life is meant to have multiple phases, facets and sections. If you’re living a one paragraph life — where everything aligns to a single idea — you’re missing so much of what this world and your existence have to offer.

When you get a chance, change the subject — or at least approach the subject of your life from a new way. Try to live a two paragraph life — or one that’s made up of three, four or even more parts. When you do, you’ll see that some of your firmly held beliefs slough away. What’s left is your core. It turns out that when you explore life from multiple perspectives, you learn more about what matters most to you.


A Focus On Words In 2018

January 10, 2018

For 2018, I think I’ll focus on words. Words are my job, and words are my passion too. Today, even simple messages are often presented in a graphical format — like memes, for example. But great words stand on their own. They very literally speak for themselves. In generations past, generating images wasn’t as easy as it is now. And communication was deeper and more thorough, even if was less often.

Maybe this will be the year when words rise again, at least in my life. I work with words and play with them too. I use them as I was trained to use them, and I break a few rules when it suits me. I ask questions. I give answers. I offer advice. I comment. And for all of these forms of expressions, I use words. I love images as much as anyone — and I take a lot of photos. Sure, sometimes a picture can speak a thousand words, but words can conjure up great images too. Will you join me in focusing a bit more on the unmatched power of words?


RVs Were The Original Tiny Houses

January 11, 2018

During a discussion with a full-time RVer recently, I had an unoriginal thought: RVs are the original tiny houses. While tiny houses are part of the downsizing movement that seems to be sweeping — or at least creeping up on — the world, thousands of people have been living by choice in travel trailers, recreational vehicles and similar abodes for years. They’re saving money and sometimes saving their souls.

I think a lot about housing situations because I’m not entirely happy with mine. Yet I already have what most people are striving for: safety, comfort, just enough space and a rural setting, among other things. So what am I worried about? I’m concerned that there could be a better way for me to live that I haven’t discovered yet. And it would be foolish not to consider all my options. Are you living your best life in the best possible living situation?


Not So Routine After All


Yesterday, we left the house a little earlier than usual for a day when we didn’t have any scheduled plans. It was getting cold later in the day, and we wanted to be home before that happened. I find comfort in keeping to a regular routine sometimes, but I also really enjoy doing things differently when it suits me.

By leaving early, we got home early, and I got a lot of writing work done that I wouldn’t have finished otherwise. We also saw a sheep and some goats at the mall, which we hadn’t planned or expected. (They had been brought in for a morning children’s program.) When you shake up your routine, you might find the unexpected as well. Isn’t it time to throw out the program, at least for a day or two?


Putting Clean Laundry In Dirty Baskets

January 13, 2018

When our washing machine stopped working a few months ago, we visited a laundromat for the first time in about 12 years. We saw something that I think is incredibly strange: people would bring in dirty laundry in a dirty basket, wash the clothes, fold them carefully and then put them back in the same basket to take them home. They were putting clean clothes in a dirty hamper.

I see all kinds of life lessons in this action. Most importantly, someone who puts clean clothes into a dirty basket can’t be present in the moment, careful or mindful. And they certainly aren’t progressing very far in the game of life. Do you make mindless mistakes like that in your daily life? If so, why not be more attentive? Why not be good at everything you do? Why not be careful, mindful and sensible? When you pay attention to the details of life, you may find that life treats you better.


“You’re No Different Than Everyone Else”

January 26, 2018

That’s what the dentist told me. He said that most people think their dental problems are unique, but most people’s issues are actually very similar. He said the mouthguard he recommended and that I bought would work for 98 percent of people. But mine didn’t. Fortunately, he’s a person of integrity, so after trying to make adjustments, he gave me my money back.

It’s true that we share many things in common with those we think are different. There’s a lesson in that. But do we really share similar dental issues? I’m beginning to think mine really are unique, and that’s okay. There’s a lesson there too. Sometimes, we’re alike. Sometimes we’re just slightly less alike.


Image: Pixabay