Dear Holly: Your School’s Christmas Program This Year

6 years, 7 months.

Dear Holly,

It always means so much to me to be able to see you perform on stage. This past week, the 1st grade at your school had their Christmas program. You had been practicing for so long for it.

Everyday for weeks leading up to it, I would watch you set up your school laptop in the living room and sing along with all the songs.

I was so proud to see my little Holly up on the front row.

My offer always stands for me to teach you how to play the guitar, in case you want to ever follow my footsteps…




Dear Jack: You Now Love Music from 1983, Like Me

9 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

As I was getting you ready for bed Tuesday night, you showed me Mommy’s old cell phone with a cracked screen, and said, “Daddy, watch this.”

I immediately knew what it was from the first note of the song: It was the music video for the song “Our House” by Madness.

You were so excited when you learned that I have owned that CD since I was in high school, along with Men at Work; another band whose string of hits you can’t help but love: “Who Can It Be Now?”, “Down Under”, and “Be Good Johnny”.

This week as I’ve worked from the kitchen table (which currently serves as my office), you have been playing a music video playlist from 1983; which happens to be my favorite year of music.

While you play war with your action figures, along barricades you made from Jenga blocks, you have Mommy’s phone propped up playing the soundtrack: “We can dance if we want to…”



Behind the Music: My New Original Song about Emotional Intelligence, “Maybe It’s a Dream” by Nick Shell

It might be easy to forget at this point in my life, but when I moved to Nashville back on September 11th, 2005, it was because I wanted to build a career in music; as I have been singing, writing songs, and playing the guitar for over two decades.

However, my focus changed about a year and a half after I moved to Nashville, when I met my wife. Two kids and a decade later, the music thing has been on hiatus.

But this week, I decided to finally record a song I’ve been working on for four years.

It’s called “Maybe It’s a Dream”. The song is about the journey of emotionally intelligence; what it’s like living in the paradox of now understanding how it’s a conscious decision to realize that other people only affect my emotions if I give them permission; and that once I began taking control over that part of my life and I unplugged from that master of puppets system, it made me feel both more alive, yet more isolated from the world.

When I started writing the song, I was 32 years old; I just beginning to learn about emotional intelligence. Now, less than a month away from turning 37, I feel like I am becoming on expert on focusing on what I can control, not on what I can not: including other people.

The opening line of the song, “I am a skeleton with meat on my bones”, is my way of acknowledging the ability to separate others’ perception of who they think I am, versus my own perception of who I think I am. In reality, my identity is somewhere in between.

Later on in the song, I admit, “My perspective of reality will die with me.”

We live in somewhat of an illusion of who we think we are, and we struggle to not worry about what other people think about us; yet in reality, how others collectively perceive us ultimately is part of who we actually are.

So it’s even more groundbreaking of a concept when a person chooses to control their own emotions exclusively; not giving permission to others to “hurt” their feelings or offend them.

This leads to a sense of a confused state of being for a guy like me: “Maybe it’s a dream. Is this even real?”

In other words, if I can control so much of my life now that I understand only I control the breaker switch of my own emotions, life starts to feel a little bit like I’m part of some grand scheme of a social experiment. Maybe this is my version of The Truman Show.

I hope you enjoy my song and I hope you can personally relate to it in some way. It is truly an extension of my identity. To understand who I am (or at least who I think I am) is to understand this song.

Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest, Webisodes 1-27: The Complete Series… So Far

Uncle Nick Official Title Card

After filming 22 webisodes of Jack-Man from May through October of 2015, I decided to take a break from that and create a new web series; one that is specifically designed as a kids’ show, as opposed to the sci-fi super hero sitcom format of Jack-Man.

My idea was to create a show in which my niece could watch and be entertained by on YouTube. So I began combining elements of entertainment I thought would be appreciated by a 4 year-old.

Think of my new show, Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest, sort of as an updated version of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, but that is more outdoors based.

In Webisode 1: Annie the Anteater, Uncle Nick helps consult an anteater who has been bullied by Freddie the Fox.

The show always begins with me introducing the audience to an old trinket that I just found. In the first webisode, it’s a harmonica.

I taught myself a few riffs the day before I filmed, and decided to record the theme song based off of my experimentation.

Another ritual is that I remind the viewers how to do my “enchanted animal call” before I put on my puffy vest.

Once we arrive outside in the Enchanted Forest, I lead the viewers in officially doing the enchanted animal call, which then invites an enchanted animal to the scene.

These first couple of webisodes feature the theme of bullying.

My plan is to continue featuring my son’s stuffed animal collection as the characters in the forest.

Webisode 2: Rocky the Raccoon introduces another forest creature who Freddie the Fox has teased.

My dream is to one day host my own kids’ show on a television network. This is me building my dream.

In Webisode 3: Freddie the Fox, Uncle Nick confronts the culprit.

For the next batch of webisodes, 4 through 6, I added not only a new song (“Animal Hat”) but also a segment where I try to guess which color the viewer is thinking of, while I play the drums. (I also play the guitar on camera now, in addition to just the harmonica as I did before.)

After the indoors portion of each show, I then take the viewer outdoors to my Enchanted Forest (the woods of Fort Payne and Mentone, Alabama) for a magical adventure, featuring talking animals.

I filmed 8 webisodes during my 3 day Christmas vacation last week, with help from my dad and brother-in-law serving as camera men. (That means I soon will be releasing even 5 more.)

During that time, I took advantage of the fact that the area was experiencing a flash flood. I based these 3 (of the newest 8) webisodes around that, making that the overall story arc for them.

In Webisode 4: Betsy the Bunny, I must rush to the rescue as Betsy the Bunny gets trapped in a tree alongside a rushing waterfall (Little River Falls in Fort Payne, AL).

Next in Webisode 5: Tiny the Turtle, I must save Tiny the Turtle before his home is swept away by the flood (DeSoto Falls in Mentone, AL).

And in the final segment of this “flood” story arc, in Webisode 6: Scuttles the Skunk, I must help Scuttles the Skunk move forward in his life as he deals with the aftermath of losing his home in the flood as well.

I designed the outdoors segment of each webisode to be a good mix of action, adventure, and psychology. However, the first (indoors) part of each webisode is designed to engage the viewer in creative thinking.

Sure, right now, Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest is just getting off the ground. But I am committing to this show. I am not giving up until I reach my goal of taking my show to the big screen: the TV screen, via a major network.

I believe that I have the talent, skills, creativity, charisma, and personality to host my own TV show on a major children’s network. This web series is my way of proving it to the world.

Webisode 7: Paulie the Puppy– When Uncle Nick decides to hike a new trail, it leads him to an empty old building and a mysterious barking sound.

Webisode 8: Pokey the Pot-Bellied Pig– Uncle Nick must figure out a way to cross the river to save the little pot-bellied pig who is stuck on the other side.

Webisode 9: Ralph the Red Panda– While hiking later in the evening, Uncle Nick discovers a rare animal as it begins getting dark outside.

Webisode 10: Slither the Snake– Freddie the Fox gets trapped by a hungry snake at the top of a large rock. It’s Uncle Nick to the rescue!

Webisode 11: Barry the Bear– When a scary-looking bear is soon in the Enchanted Forest, Uncle Nick decides to investigate; leading to a lesson about not judging a bear by his cover.

Barry the Bear was first introduced 4 months ago in my other series, Jack-Man:

Kids Show: Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest- Webisodes 4-6; the Flood Story Arc

I’ve made it no secret that I am legitimately attempting to become the next Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood/Blue’s Clues.

My main hobby right now is to crank out as many webisodes I can of my new web series, Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest.

It is my hope that eventually my show will catch on and that I can get enough traffic to gain the attention of the talent scouts for major networks like PBS, Nickelodeon, Disney, Animal Planet, and the Discovery Channel.

My agenda with each webisode is to provide innocent and engaging entertainment for children who are watching YouTube on their parents’ smartphones.

Kids’ Show: Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest- Webisodes 12 & 13: Beanie the Bat and Petey the Possum

As part of my plan to quickly build the library of my newest web series, Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Kingdom, I am now shooting new webisodes during my lunch breaks at work.

One of my coworkers just happens to be one of my most faithful watchers, so I didn’t really have to twist his arm in order to convince him to be my camera man/assistant director on these “during our lunch break at work” video shoots.

He and I shot two webisodes; during one 60 minute period.

First is Webisode 12: Beanie the Bat, where Uncle Nick serves as a real estate agent to a bat who likes to live in trees; with a sort of “House Hunters: Animal Edition” style of plot line.

During the shoot, I sliced my hand on the tree I was climbing. I just wrote it into the script.

The other webisode we filmed is Webisode 13: Petey the Possum. There is no doubt this is one of the most stand-out webisodes of Uncle Nick.

Very close to where I work, there is a drain tunnel the same height as me. I decided it would make the perfect setting. I am so pleased with how it turned out.

Not only do I feel the plot line is captivating, but the tunnel itself is intriguing because it’s a rare event to get a tour down into something so mysterious.

I’ll say this; I wouldn’t be willing to walk in there alone.

I feel my Uncle Nick series has so much potential and that kids would really like it if they watched it. But for now, it remains undiscovered in the corner of YouTube.

But that doesn’t stop me from continuing to grow my collection.

Uncle Nick has plenty more up his sleeve!

Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest 14 through 19: The Blizzard Webisodes

From January 22nd to the 24th, I filmed 6 webisodes of Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest. Similar to the way I filmed 4 webisodes after the Christmas 2015 flash flood, I took advantage of the weather condition, making it the plot line of these half a dozen webisodes.

And starting with Webisode 18, I introduce a fun new theme song as well as a new animal hat…

I got to the point where I pretty much just keep my camera, tripod, and Uncle Nick costume in my car with me; in order that I can always be prepared to shoot an episode on the spot.

Good thing I was ready on Friday, January 22nd, when the blizzard kicked in. I have a coworker, Shane Moore, who is quick and faithful to help me out with some of the shoots.

So he served as my camera man and assistant director for the first 2 webisodes of the blizzard story arc.

In Webisode 14: Baby Bear, family members get separated during the beginning of the blizzard. It’s up to Uncle Nick to reunite them!

In Webisode 15: Haley the Husky, we are introduced to a poor little homeless Husky who is stranded out in the middle of the snow storm. Uncle Nick must find her a new home to get her warm.

The remaining 4 webisodes of the blizzard story arc were filmed Saturday and Sunday morning; just me and my tripod.

Webisode 16: Piper the Penguin shows a poor penguin who is frozen to the ice. Uncle Nick must find a place to keep her safe until the other penguins return.

In Webisode 17: Lenny the Lizard, Uncle Nick must resuscitate a lizard he finds who is literally freezing in the river.

Then in Webisode 18: Pinky the Pig, Uncle Nick encounters a sleepwalking pig, who is headed towards a frozen lake.

And finally, in Webisode 19: Fluffy the Frog, Uncle Nick must discover, and uncover, a frozen frog on a log.

February was a big and busy month for filming new webisodes of my children’s adventure/fantasy series, Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest.

After December’s flood story arc, and then January’s blizzard story arc, February presents a new story line, beginning with Ground Hog Day in Webisode 20: Gordon the Groundhog; where it is revealed a villain will be arriving in the Enchanted Forest.

Next in Webisode 21: Bruno the Blue Jay, the predicted villain, Demetrius the Shadow Caster, turns 5 of the animals of the Enchanted Forest into pennies.

From there, Bruno and Uncle Nick continue to team up as they discover other mischief that the Shadow Caster caused, while trying to find a way to turn the pennies back into animals.

They encounter in Webisode 22: Bernie the Bear, they meet a bear who is trapped underneath a tree that the Shadow Caster pushed down.

After that in Webisode 23: David the Doggie, Bruno and Uncle Nick find the defenseless little doggie who is separated from his Mommy, also because of the Shadow Caster.

So in addition to turning animals into pennies, the Shadow Caster is also pushing trees over in the Enchanted Forest.

In Webisode 24: Benji the Blue Cheetah, Bruno and Uncle Nick finally get some answers at the top of the Enchanted Mountain when they encounter the legendary blue cheetah.

From there, Uncle Nick and Bruno journey closer to saving their friends, but first pi

ck up two new friends…

In Webisode 25: Baby Bunny, they discover a tiny animal who decides to hitch a ride with them.

Then in Webisode 26: Sylvester the Snake, they must rescue a shivering snake from a mountain top, on the way down to the Enchanted Pond.

Finally, in Webisode 27: Steinbeck the Stegosaurus, the animal reunion occurs as the coins return to their animal state!

Coming up in Spring 2016, a new sidekick will be introduced when Magellan the Mouse finally catches up to Uncle Nick.

I’m really looking forward to that because it will mark the beginning of me using an actual puppet instead of a stuffed animal.

The funny thing is, I purchased the puppet using a gift card I received from Ben Wilder, the person playing Demetrius the Shadow Caster!

Stay tuned…

Dear Holly: I Don’t Believe that Anybody Feels the Way I Do about You Now

20 weeks.

Dear Holly: I Don’t Believe that Anybody Feels the Way I Do about You Now

Dear Holly,

It has now been a week since we found out you are our baby girl named Holly. Mommy and I have been so truly happy.

Mommy bought you some dresses and other clothes online already and we have been trying to figure out which baby blanket to buy you as well.

Like I mentioned last week, you really have been over 7 years in the making. We have hoped for you for a long time; it’s only now that the timing would be perfect.

Yesterday as I drove home from work, I was listening to what I believe is one of the best musical recordings of all time, released 20 years ago in 1995; Oasis’s (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

While I was listening to “Wonderwall”, a song that never gets old to me, I thought about you, as certain lines from the song played over the speakers of my Honda Element:

“I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now…

There are many things that I would like to say to you but I don’t know how…

And after all, you’re my wonderwall”

Perhaps to some people, the term “wonderwall” never really made much sense in that now classic Oasis song.

But to me, it always made sense- and it especially makes sense in regards to how I perceive you:

I write to you as if you are a real, living person, here with me right here and right now.

But the thing is, you are.

There’s simply a technically in that you are still in Mommy’s tummy, where you’ll be until around April 21, 2015.

So until then, you are my wonderwall.

You are this mysterious wall I can’t climb or get over to the other side; yet you are right there in front of me.

While I can’t yet look you in the eyes, you are just as real and familiar as if you are already here with me in the outside world.

You are my daughter. Man, that seems weird to say.

But seriously, how can anybody else in this entire world feel the way I do about you now?