Just Married

All I can say is “wow.”

Which is strange because I’m generally a man of many words. But this last weekend was such a flurry of love and activity. I’ll do my best.

The first thing I want to say is how much I love this woman that married me again. Through all the chaos that is Tom Cummings there has been Mrs Cummings, Mrs C, Suzie – she has always been there to help right the ship through every storm. To say she is my rock is to understate the value and strength she adds to my life. To say I’d be lost without her is to assume I’d have a direction at all. Thank you, my love, for making life worthwhile.

And then I want to thank the rest of the people that came out to enjoy our day! You make our lives worthwhile every day with your companionship, your strength, your humor and your love. I’d take a little time here to thank each and every one of you personally, but so many of you came that to do so would put me over the 400 words Cory laments! So I’ll just say thank you all, and let you know that Suzie and I love you so incredibly much. You fill our hearts!

Next, I want to thank Chapel of the Flowers for doing such incredible work for us! The whole thing went off without a hitch. I watched the video of the ceremony this morning for the first time and was thrilled with it! How often can we say that? Just amazing.

I’m still sorting through all the pictures they took for us, and they are really good! I’m hoping to get some of them out there for the world of social media and the readers of TomBeingTom to see. My only enemy since returning is time. Well, I have two. “Recovery” is the other one.

Lastly, I want to thank Las Vegas for accommodating me, Mrs C, and our band of crazies. For the most part they tolerated our indiscretions (you know who you are, hallway food cart riders!) and kept up with our alcohol intake the best they could. I haven’t received a single bill for damages. 😉

There will be many more things to say in the days ahead about this trip, the biggest one our group has taken yet! And there will be many more amazing trips to come.

Thank you again, Mrs C, for renewing with me on our 20th! This was so much fun we’ll have to do our 21st!

On second thought, let me review the financial damage from last week first. 😎

I guess I had more to say than I thought. I guess I always do. Bless you all for being a part, and I’ll link the video to it below. Please click it, sign the guest list, and watch the ceremony! She was spectacular!

I get a passing grade. 😏

View our ceremony here!

Where This Thing Has Been and Where This Stuff Is Going

I write TomBeingTom.com because I like writing, and I like Tom. It’s important, I think, to know ourselves, to like ourselves. I like me enough, and what goes on in my head enough, to share it with the world. Generally speaking, two or three dozen people read each new blog I post. Sometimes, that number doubles. Sometimes, it halves.

It isn’t “successful” or viral, but it is fun.

When I started it I knew, it would be neither successful nor viral, it would just be fun. A personal blog. Me, writing about stuff. Something for me to write and friends and family to read. I never figured it would be very interesting to people who didn’t know Tom, and I was right.

But it might be time to say goodbye to Tom, just being Tom.

Not because I don’t enjoy it anymore or that people aren’t still reading it. I love it more now than I did on day one, and I have more of a following now than I did then.

But …

The reason I started TomBeingTom.com was to get myself to write, to challenge myself to become a writer. To prove to myself that, if I put my heart into it, I could write consistently. And consistently well. I think I’ve proven that.

So, if TomBeingTom.com has fulfilled its original purpose, then it is time to evolve that purpose, if that purpose can evolve, or to put it on the shelf as a memento to my very personal and internal success.

In other words, it’s time to find my niche.

If TomBeingTom.com had a niche it was this: me, talking about stuff. Any stuff. Politics, religion, ghosts, dogs, love, my day, her day, moving, Stephen King, crime, the future, seasons, beer, yadda yadda yadda. In fact, when I first started it I told people I had the Seinfeld of blogs. In the 90s, Seinfeld was often jokingly characterized as a show “about nothing.” My blog is a blog about nothing. I come up with an idea, I write about that idea for 400-1400 words, I post it on my blog, summarize it on social media for friends and family, and they read it. Sometimes I get comments or even questions, or a kudos, and sometimes I get pretty much nothing at all in response. Great. My formula worked to perfection.

But for a blog to be “successful,” the sphere of reach must necessarily be larger. And from the very beginning I knew that a larger reach comes from a specified niche. To understand that, just think about what folks type into Google machines when they’re looking for a topic. Almost nobody in the world randomly types in “Tom” to see what Tom is being.

Bless you if you do. 😉

So, to drive the world to Tom I need to be more than just Tom. Really. Apparently, that’s a thing.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been googling “how to be a successful blogger” and all sorts of things (that were not Tom) popped up in response. Some of it I’ll get to in a minute, but the best summary is this:

  • Find your niche
  • Add value

There are a lot more, deeply important, responses, but these two are vital. I have to know what the overall theme of my blog is and, every time I write, I have to add value to that theme and to the lives of the reader.

I tell my boss and co-workers all the time (or, at least, I used to) that the first, most important aspect of running a successful business is to define its core mission and values. Every decision we make from then on can refer back to that core mission and those core values.

That same principle applies to a successful blog or, if you’d like to get all existential and stuff for a minute, to a successful life. Define your mission. Define your values. Work, write, and live according to them. So easy an ape could do it.

But I’m not here to change your way of doing business or your life. At least not yet. I’m here to change the way I write. To find a niche. A mission. To add value.

To add value to my mission and to your life I have to be more than honest, interesting, and original, three things I think I did pretty well on TomBeingTom.com. I have to, in some way, help you, the reader, discover something new. All the other things are important – consistency, outreach, identity, authenticity, transparency, originality, honesty, and great content – but none of it matters to the larger world without value.

All those things are true in business, too, by the way.

So, from now on, Tom will be thinking about something more than Tom. Tom will be thinking about his core mission and trying to find that one thing he’d be passionate enough about (besides Tom) to write about every day.

Tom is going to try to find his niche.

And then, by god, he’ll find a way to add value to it and value to the lives of every person who stumbles across it.

Because, in the end, it’s not about me, being me. It’s about something bigger than that.

P.S. When I say “successful” blogger I don’t mean money or fame or notoriety or even lots and lots of readers. All of those things can be byproducts of success, but they are not the definition of it. The definition of success, to me, for my blog, would be this: defining my core mission, passionately writing about it, and getting great, interactive feedback about it every time. If that happens I will know I have done something I truly love to do, and that it has added value to the life of the reader.

What could be better than that?

P.P.S. Having a niche does not exclude a variety of topics, or content. It doesn’t mean writing the same thing every day and changing the adjectives and nouns. It means that every topic of every blog falls under the scope of the mission, and relates back to it in some way. For example: when running a business you can sell a variety of products (topics), but how you sell them and who you sell them to relates back to your mission (niche).

Does that make sense to you?

P.P.P.S My wife just told me I can’t completely quit BeingTom, or she would cry. I’ll find a way to do both, for love. 😎

The Promise Inside the Declaration of Independence

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”

And so it went, 241 years ago today, when the founding fathers of the United States of America made their declaration of independence. In the course of human events, they felt it necessary to dissolve political bonds with a despot. They set a course to free themselves from tyranny.

It was a good move, and the document they wrote was one for the ages. Contained within were powerful, flowery words encouraging a government by the consent of the governed. It declared unalienable rights like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It was a watershed moment, the beginning of the modern liberal democracy. There was a promise of equality, and opportunity for all mankind. They lit the spark of egalitarianism. Others used the document in the decades to come to stoke the fires of freedom again. Slavery would be abolished, in time. The right to vote would eventually come to all.

In the ensuing years the entire world would embrace liberal democracy. “By the people and for the people” was repeated in nation after nation. Freedom became a trend.

It is a great story, and a great beginning, but we have only just begun to live up to the promise of that original document. The revolution that rocked the world less than 250 years ago has only just begun.

America, the nation, is a work of fiction. Harari says that what has separated our species most from other species on the planet is our ability to create such fictions. No other animal draws a line on a map. No other animal believes in God. Only we, the sapiens, can draw ourselves together in shared beliefs and rally around that belief to create a day of celebration, a monument to greatness, or a war.

Only we can create or overthrow a tyranny.

Our mythology is a strong one. We have made great heroes of these founding fathers. We have an enduring belief that we are the greatest nation on the planet. That fervor, that patriotism, has enabled us to become the strongest nation in the world, in the history of the world. There has never been a military might like this one. And if military might is the measure of greatness, then we surely are the greatest nation on Earth.

But that was not the promise of our fathers. The promise of our fathers was liberty and equality. They despised the bully. They rallied and railed against the king. The founders spoke out against injustice and inequality. They were children of the Enlightenment dreaming of an egalitarian world.

We have not realized that dream yet. In modern America, we have come to worship capital instead of liberty. Greed instead of happiness. War instead of life. We are divided, partisan, and bitter. We risk, once again, tyranny.

I still believe in the promise of America. I still believe, in my heart, in the mythology created by the founding fathers. The world does not have to belong to kings; it can belong to all.

I re-read the Declaration of Independence today. I am emboldened by its promise. We have suffered this “long train of abuses” by our political and capitalistic leaders. Greed denies us our destiny.

But that is not the end of the story. Recent events have derailed an otherwise long-term upward trend. 240 years is a blip on the radar of history and the next era in America can define or destroy us. We can, if we choose, have health care for all. Or, we can conquer the world and take their oil. We can, if we choose, focus on universal education and equality. Or, if we choose, we can protect the gains of only the few.

We can have great kings or we can have a great people.

History will remember the kings. They create mythologies around the might of rulers; the plight of the people is forgotten. But history, they say, is written by the winners.

In an equal society, the people are the winners. In an unequal society, it is the kings.

As we move forward into year 242 in the story of America, let us remember what the foundation of this country was, as listed in the original document we celebrate today. Read it. And then, amidst the sparklers and libations, the grilling and the laughter, think for a moment about what you’d like tomorrow for America.

And then let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work. For the people.