I Am Finley

My Story

Hope in the Ballads


In our regular office jesting of camaraderie, my love for heavy music has been poked quite a few times. In response to my coworker saying that the lyrics could never be heard in metal music, I reminded him of the ballads present in most metal albums.

I’m here again
A thousand miles away from you
A broken mess, just scattered pieces of who I am
I tried so hard
Thought I could do this on my own
I’ve lost so much along the way

Working on a review for the latest Red album, I am once again reminded of how much I love their ballads. I got their first album back in 2006. With my girlfriend— now wife— with me, I popped the CD into my car’s player. With the screaming and distortion coming hard, we both looked perplexed when Pieces came halfway through the album. This is still one of my favorite songs.

I’ll never be the same
I’m caught inside the memories
The promises, our yesterdays
When I belonged to you
I just can’t walk away
’Cause after loving you
I can never be the same

Before proposing to Nikki after a Red concert in 2009, Never Be the Same was playing non-stop on my iPod. This album is still one of my favorites overall.

Slowly fading away, you’re lost and so afraid
Where is the hope in a world so cold?
Looking for a distant light, someone who can save a life
Living in fear that no one will hear your cry

I worked for a church, what I considered my dream job, between the end of 2009 and the start of 2011. As I have mentioned before, that didn’t end too well. Until We Have Faces came out less than a month after I lost my job— along with half the staff— and a little more than a month before I got married. Not Alone and The Best Is Yet to Come helped me get up and out of my broken will.

Sometimes I need to scream out my terror, my rage, my fear. But sometimes I need something to hold onto. Hope in Christ echoes through the words of Red’s ballads. These songs have gotten me through a lot. So I thought I’d share them with you. You can listen to them on Spotify or buy their albums on iTunes and Amazon.


Writer’s Block


As previously alluded to, due to a very low point in my career, I got hammered with writer’s block. I couldn’t write anything the way I wanted to. Everything that came out was wrong. It wasn’t long before I stopped writing. So often I have looked to solve my writer’s block, but couldn’t. But I missed something in searching for the answer.

Over the years, I transitioned my writing to social media. Little, short blips of commentary here and there. A bit of sarcasm. Twitter prevented me from ranting. From time to time on Facebook I’d post something more long and bloggy, but mostly kept to a link and something simple.

My expectation, I guess, was that I’d get back to writing full articles more quickly. Like a marathon runner that broke his foot, I didn’t want downtime. So I kept searching for answers to my writer’s block without realizing that I could write myself out of my writer’s block with consistency.

It is said that it takes two weeks of consistency to develop a habit.

So Finley.im, on it’s fourth week, has seen over 70 posts. Six of those have been “feature” articles, the rest have been links. A habit of writing is forming once more. As I said two weeks ago, for once in my experience blogging, I have a backlog of entries.

As I try to keep my writing consistent, I am keeping my finger off the publish button. Between three and five posts a day is what I want here. So as I find links, they get saved and scheduled out to be posted over days. When something hot comes in, I push colder links back. Holding off on publishing allows things to stew a bit. I can take time to edit my thoughts. I don’t have to be reactive all the time, as my editing is worse when I am.

Writer’s block comes when you give up. The cure to writer’s block is to write. Write something. Write anything. Momentum is only built by objects in motion.


SimpleBits and Blogging


I am not big on resolutions, but like many of you, I’d sure like to write more this year. Writing was the single biggest factor in helping my career, and it’s led me to start new projects, find new interests, helped solved problems, etc. I’m a horrible note-taker, and far too many thoughts and ideas permanantly live in my mind. Which doesn’t scale—especially for someone at my age.

One of the earliest blogs I followed is making a comeback. Completely agree with the sentiment here: “Writing was the single biggest factor in helping my career, and it’s led me to start new projects, find new interests, helped solved problems, etc.” My first blog was called Cochon d’Vol and lasted from high school through my early years of college. Then I launched a more fiery blog called From the Gates of Hell, covering theology, culture and life. That went on for a few years until I graduated college and then I launched the original Finley.im with much the same subject matter. That and a development blog called Pixel Faith lived through the end of my job at Community Christian Church in Naperville.

It was the end of that job that snuffed out my voice. From around 2002 to 2011 I blogged a few times a week. It ended abruptly. Part of that was a purposeful choice on my behalf. I was in a bad place leaving Community. After a tumultuous December, coming back in January (the first day back after Christmas) I was one of some 20 employees let go. The way that I was treated that morning scorned me. Relationships I had formed there were burned quickly and I felt at a complete loss. Throw in that I had three months before I was supposed to be getting married and needed a job A.S.A.P., I feel I was just in feeling cynical. Because I couldn’t write my thoughts in a way without rant, I didn’t.

The weeks passed into months without writing, allowing that cynicism to brew. Initially justified by the events that went down, it just became something more. I don’t like what it did to me inside. So much was lost by letting that happen.

When we got married, having luckily gotten a job and sticking to the date we had, I said over and over that we should launch a blog. But I couldn’t write. All designers know what I’m talking about. Redesign the blog a few times a year and not put the effort into the writing. I designed the blog more times than I would like to admit. But finally, in 2013, we launched it. I kept away from the topics that I used to write about, knowing that theology curtailed into that cynicism still, I changed the tone of my writing style to be more family-oriented. Within a couple months we found out we were expecting our first child, providing me more to write about. With the birth of my daughter in August, I was writing more in Day One than I was posting on Finley Home.

Sometimes you just need to write. As an introvert, I do. It’s my way of getting what is in my head out. So I have changed my way of sharing to allow me to write more. Instead of sharing every interesting link I find throughout my day on Twitter and Facebook, I save it as a draft in Ghost. When I have the time (usually in the evening or early morning) I write a small blurb or decide that the link isn’t worth sharing. I’m keeping myself to three to four links a day. I’m also posting less to social media and just journaling my thoughts to see if anything can be developed further.

So far, it’s working. For once in my experience blogging, I have a backlog of entries, keeping to about two days out. It is said that it takes two weeks of consistency to develop a habit. One week in and I’m learning a lot.