ulcerative colitis update

I’m so thankful to all of you for the support and encouragement as I’ve expressed where I am in my journey battling Ulcerative Colitis (UC), and I thought it was time for an update.

After many years of subduing my body with pharmaceuticals, I thought it was time to take a different approach. I started seeing a naturopath in October of 2016 and began my journey equipped with food choices and supplementation. I began with a blood test and a 90 day elimination diet called the Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP), eliminating all probable inflammatory food suspects [imagine if Paleo was on a diet… it’s like that].

My blood test came back with a CRP level [a measure of your body’s overall inflammation] of 6/10 [0 = fine and dandy, 10 = Snap! You should already be in the ER w an IV drip … so a 6 is not so hot.]

The AIP diet after 90 days didn’t prove to reduce my symptoms by much, but when my blood test came back at this point, my CRP levels had reduced to 1.8… which is absolutely astounding. Especially considering by the end of the 90 days I was no longer on any of my previous medication [I was fully medicated when I took my initial blood test @ 6/10 CRP]

So, at the suggestion of my naturopath, I’ve continued with a simple Paleo Diet, along with some light supplementation.

While my current experience with UC has not reached remission status, I am feeling much better than I have in over 3 years. I am continuing with the Paleo Diet over the next 12 months and then, depending on where I find myself, we will begin to think through next steps.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support, and know that I feel and experience you all in very impactful ways.



Phil Rice — philrice.blog
Executive Director of Ember

Turnkey organization and the great American detox

Here’s a starting place:

google search turnkey defined -> of or involving the provision of a complete product or service that is ready for immediate use

A complete product or service that is ready for use. I walk into one grocery store to get all the groceries I need. Oh yeah, and I’ll grab a pack of batteries while I’m there… and maybe throw in a pack of white v-neck tee’s while I’m here… Oh… and I’ve been meaning to get my oil changed. I’ll do that here too. Convenient.

Why should’t I get my oil changed while I get my groceries and the newest blu-ray release? What’s wrong with capping a burger and fries with a McLatte? Nothing is necessarily wrong with it… it’s convenient. And if you don’t mind your latte tasting kind of like that burger and fries, then go for it.

There we have it… a complete product or service that is ready for IMMEDIATE use — so convenient.

But, do we lose something in the turnkey rat race? Do we lose something when we can walk into a place and get everything we need and everything we want? Does some inner fortification of my soul die within me when I open a single iPhone application to make 99% of my purchases, promising to arrive at my doorstep within 48 hours? I mean… it’s totally convenient… but is there a hidden cost somewhere flying just below the radar?

I love the german originated Aldi Grocery Stores for this very reason. It’s the consumer’s AA rehab protocol. Americans Anonymous — My name is Phil … Hi Phil… and I’m American. I feel entitled to get anything I want, whenever I want… I need help. Aldi stocks one kind of most — not necessarily all — grocery items. One week they may have lightly salted cashews and only lightly salted almonds the next. No apology. They have found a way to simplify their business model and have somehow convinced their patrons that we are not entitled to get everything we want. Thank you Aldi… I needed that. Want a shopping cart? That will be $.25. Oh, don’t worry, you’ll get your quarter back… after you return your shopping cart exactly where you found it. Grocery sacks? That will cost you a few pennies as well. Or, you can use these boxes that we have lying around after stocking the shelves. Need something that Aldi didn’t actually carry in stock this week? Sorry, maybe try next week. The best way I can describe this transcendent experience is #thegreatamericandetox — sometimes… it’s healthy for my soul to not get what I want.

Thanks Aldi.


Phil Rice — philrice.blog
Executive Director of Ember

Reality Distortion Field

I first came across the concept of the Reality Distortion Field (RDF) while reading the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.

The Reality Distortion Field (RDF) was said by Andy Hertzfeld to be Steve Jobs’s ability to convince himself and others to believe almost anything with a mix of charm, charisma, bravado, hyperbole, marketing, appeasement and persistence. RDF was said to distort an audience’s sense of proportion and scales of difficulties and made them believe that the task at hand was possible… — Wikipedia, Reality Distortion Field

Jobs’ biography and Wikipedia depict both the awe and contempt of being brought into the Reality Distortion Field, but what struck me was the incredible company that was constructed within it. Yes, apple has had a rocky journey. Yes, Steve Jobs had a reputation of being hard to work with. But… I mean… it’s Apple.

As my team and I build Ember, the reality distortion field concept is always humming somewhere in the back of my mind. WE CAN DO THIS — whichever “it” we happen to be discussing.

If I only have external forces, tangible resources, and frustrating obstacles as building materials, then I will never create something newly inspiring. Ember will never offer an experience unavailable elsewhere. If all I have as my blueprint is what everyone else already sees, then I have no reason to build. It has already been done. The problem has already been solved and I am simply franchising someone else’s reality and perspective.

But this isn’t the case.

Ember is the product of a reality distortion field. Each member of our team brings a unique and unseen reality — and together this becomes something that’s never been created and never been done. Ember is unique because no other team has the combined forces of Zack Robets, Stephen Ibach, Emmery Nyanat, Anita Lane, Jordan Solis, and Phil Rice — to name a few. No other organization has the unique combination of personalities and giftings that collectively make up our prayer room and creative endeavors.

Ember is unique. And in it’s otherness it is valuable. Yes, there are prayer rooms. Yes, there are creative companies. But the ingredients that we’ve built into Ember and the perfect combination of people adding them, do not exist elsewhere. People who come to work for us, those who find our prayer room, individuals that happen upon our Ember Perspective podcast are grateful we exist, because of the opportunities or experiences we create that they do not find in other places. My intention is not to sound arrogant, but simply to highlight something. Building from the architecture uniquely imbedded in each of us is immensely important. There is only one Phil Rice. I am the only human that sees the world the way I see it. I should not be ashamed of or hold back from painting this canvas.

When I work with my team, lead my family, interact with those I come into contact with, I distort their reality, I disrupt their perfect internal world, which a moment before was completely devoid of me. I bring my experience, my hope, my faith, my understanding of how the world works and what I think we can achieve. The question becomes, what kind of reality am I imposing? Do I bring with me a reality of hope, faith, and love? Or am I imposing a reality of worry, offense, and fear?

It’s not that we don’t face the brutal facts, as Jim Collins so wisely describes in Good to Great, but rather, we meet those facts with the unique blueprint imbedded within each of us, along with the determination to see that blueprint realized. Even when we have to scrap a method along the way, we always work toward the next method that has the opportunity to take us and our work to the end that we envision.

Here’s to your reality. Cheers.

Phil Rice — philrice.blog
Executive Director of Ember

Interruption by iPhone

In his book, 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Farriss addresses the question — How much time do you spend looking at your email inbox and is it the most productive use of your time? Personally, my honest answer to the question was staggering. I was checking my email multiple times an hour. My reasoning behind this frequency was that I wanted to keep my inbox clean. An empty inbox is a perfect inbox, right? Tim suggested otherwise. A new email equals a new interruption.

While this may seem simple, it has been hugely helpful for me — things that bring interruption take me out of the present moment. Even a moment of interruption will take me away from the present task or individual I am engaging. In response to this idea, I decided to try a week long experiment. What if I removed my iPhone from the interruption equation for a week? What would I miss? Or would I even miss anything of value? Here are a few small changes that I made during that week that I have since adopted as lifestyle. This has been absolutely groundbreaking for my quality of life. I kid you not — quality of life.

Interruption by email

The first and most obvious response to this concept was simple. Phil… stop checking your email so much. That’s easy to say, but so hard to do, especially when my iPhone tells me exactly how many emails I am missing out on right there on my home screen!

Did you know that you can actually remove that little red alert number in the corner of your mail icon?

Settings –> Notifications –> Mail –> Badge App Icon –> Off

But honestly, let’s be real… why not go a step further and simply turn off notifications all together?!

Settings –> Notifications –> Mail –> Allow Notifications –> Off

Now before you go all freak out on me and tell me all the reasons why you need to know the moment you receive an email… wrestle through the following question. Which is more valuable to you, your ability to read and respond to an email instantly or your ability to be present in the task or with the individual right in front of you? …Insert creative project, task, friend, spouse, child HERE.

Now I understand that there are people who do need to be accessible all the time, but the question is, should people actually be using email when they need a timely response? This might take a little training, but why not encourage people to text you for a more timely response?

The second thing I did was, I removed my mail icon from the home screen of my iPhone altogether. I moved it one over so that it wouldn’t be staring me in the face every time I unlocked my iPhone.

I then set a specific time each day (or every few days) to check my mail. I allotted about thirty minutes to an hour each day around midday to work through email. Messages I needed to go back to found their way into my calendar. Emails I could reply to quickly got a short response. And in cases where I knew the person would be sending me timely information, I simply asked them to give me the needed information in a call or a text.

Interruption by text message

Once I worked through this filter for email, everything else fell like dominos.

Why do I need to be on call 24–7 for the off chance that someone will possibly send me a text message?

Once again, here is the question to wrestle through. Which is more valuable to you, your ability to read and respond instantly to a text message or your ability to be present in the task or with the individual right in front of you? …Insert creative project, task, friend, spouse, child HERE.

Our information infused culture demands that we respond immediately to every ping that comes our way. There is an overarching sense of rudeness or that it is uncourteous to wait an hour, or heaven forbid, three to four days to respond to a text message! But why? It’s true… we may miss out on the most recent series of .gif files filling our message app from one of our many group texts or we may even miss the reminder to say happy birthday to so-and-so on their actual birthday and we may have to recover the next day… but, think about the trade off! We are being given the opportunity to be present within our day with the people and projects that are right in front of us, and in doing so, we are taking back control and determining our own priorities.

Once again, to respond to this practically, I did the following.

Settings –> Notifications –> Messages –> Allow Notifications –> Off

WHAT?!?! Can we really get away with this? Of course we can.

I am now able to check my text messages a few times a day on my own terms. I receive no alerts and there are no numbers next to my messages icon.

A side note, if I’m waiting on on a specific email or text from a specific person and don’t want to wade into the abyss of my inbox when I’m not ready to do so, Seri comes in very handy.

Holding home button –> ” Seri, read any unread message — or email — from so&so.”

If you do in fact have an unread message/email from this person, Seri will read it to you and ask if you would like to reply, without ever opening your mail or message app. Pretty cool.

Interruption by phone call… gasp!

Since I was on a roll, I thought… why not? There’s this handy feature on the iPhone called Do Not Disturb. This feature allows calls, texts, notifications to ping your phone and not make a sound. I know, wild. So I took a step deeper into my experiment. Unless I am waiting on an important call, I leave my phone on Do Not Disturb all day long.

Settings –> Do Not Disturb –> Manual –> On

There is one exception to Do Not Disturb mode. My wife. Solution — a cool function of Do Not Disturb is the option to allow calls from your favorites list. So, my favorites list consists of my wife, Becky. If I’m waiting for a call back from someone, they get to land on my favorites list until I get the call. Other than that. Anyone who calls will get a response from me when I have time in my day to check and respond to my calls.

Settings –> Do Not Disturb –> Allow Calls From –> Favorites

Phone –> Favorites –> + (add favorite)

The opposite problem?

You may be on the opposite side of the spectrum… You never get back to people and you need to check your email/text/whatever more often. I feel like the same rules apply. Don’t let it take over your life or your thoughts, but don’t ignore communication either. Find specific space in your week for checking and replying to your pings. Reply to the necessary and disregard the unnecessary. Just because you received an email/text/voicemail/direct-message/etc… doesn’t mean you are obligated to reply back. Before you set out to please everyone in the world, make sure you are taking care of yourself and are making time for your nonnegotiables.

Non interruption by lifestyle

What started as a week long experiment has become a lifestyle. I have yet to miss out on anything too important. And even for those moments where it would have been nice to be alerted immediately, the trade off is worth it for me. I feel more centered in my life and more present in my projects, with the people I work with, with my wife and kids, and with my friends. Even when I have a little extra time here or there, instead of going to my creative distractors I can simply stand in line at the grocery store and ponder a question I’ve been working through, open up my kindle app and enjoy a few minutes of reading, or even spend a moment in thankful prayer. Or I can just take it all in — How do I feel? What do I see? What do I hear? What do I smell? I can choose to be present in my life experience. Its opportunities like these that help me slow down and take pleasure in the present moment. And I much prefer life as a series of creative, meaningful, and enjoyable moments.

Phil Rice — philrice.blog
Executive Director of Ember

Ember — it’s prayer and it’s a creative company

it begins in the prayer room

I have a high value for the quiet, personal place of worship, prayer, and communion with God. In my experience, knowing God deeply and intimately begins with private understanding. This idea is even mirrored in a gathering of like minded people also desiring to commune with God together — in Ember’s case, the prayer room. But this still feels like the quiet, intimate place. It feels safe, because there is no immediate cultural environment challenging the reality or understanding of God or our experience of Him. I don’t mean to say that we aren’t challenged in our understanding of God through his truth, but simply that there are no blatantly opposing social forces directly moving against the culture we are creating within the prayer room.

But when we begin to navigate outside of the prayer room, or any like minded spiritual community or gathering, in order to bring hope and impact to others of a different cultural or spiritual perspective, the metaphysical joins the practical. It’s from this place that we have the opportunity to share a taste of our normal experience and connection with the Spirit of God. As we share our reality with others, we have the opportunity to give people a new perspective of how God sees and wants to relate to them.

as a creative company

In this spirit, Ember takes the substance of hope—the testimony of Jesus—cultivated in quiet and intimate experience with God in the prayer room and works to multiply it beyond the walls of any one spiritual community — through music, video, blogging, and podcasting. He is Emmanuel, God with us. And his desire is for all to know him in a close and intimate way. Our desire is that through our perpetual content, individuals will taste little glimpses of experiencing God, prompting them to seek him out in deeper and more personal ways in their everyday experience.

Phil Rice — philrice.blog
Executive Director of Ember

One time decision & meaningful work

I have a high value for simplicity and rhythm. The core of my personality moves against non simplicity and things that feel chaotically untethered or messy. I am not communicating this as a positive or negative quality in and of itself. It’s simply a hinge point for how I approach the world. And it fuels my creativity.

Don’t strive for variation—and thus increase option consideration—when it’s not needed. Routine enables innovation where it’s most valuable. – Tim Ferriss

Simplicity in daily routine and systematizing daily decision making is a bedding for my creativity. These terms allow me to give mental equity to meaningful work, while flipping routine decisions over to autopilot.  I give time to problems and how to solve them. I think of beats and melodies for new songs I write. I dream up more effective ways to communicate ideas. I don’t want to think about what to eat for breakfast on Tuesday morning or what I should wear on any given Thursday.

The ways I work out daily rhythms change from year to year and season to season, but my need for them does not change. This year, I decided to take two specific items off of my “daily decision list” — clothing & breakfast — two early morning time consumers.

1. I paired my wardrobe down to my favorite things… and then I paired it down again. This is what remained: white v-necks (no surprise to anyone who knows me), black jeans, a pair of vans and a few pairs of boots — in the name of “variety” — and I kept a black cardigan for times when I need to “dress it up” a bit. And I included two pull overs for colder days. This is my one time decision wardrobe.

2. I decided on a breakfast menu for the coming months — frozen mango, assorted frozen berries, spinach, cocoanut, white tea or water base, and into the blender. Once again, the problem is solved and I have headspace to think about more meaningful things. This is my one time decision breakfast.

And there you have it. A peek into my one time decision. Again, the goal here is not to become ridged and systematized in every possible way. The goal is to free up mental equity from routine tasks while converting that capacity into meaningful and creative work.

Phil Rice — philrice.blog
Executive Director of Ember