Blue Monday on a Thursday.

Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.

– Henry Wandsworth Longfellow

Today is a low low day.

Several little things all at once are affecting me at the moment. This time of year and the pressures it brings. A job that I don’t hate or dislike as such but one I would (if I could) give up tomorrow. Lots of little niggly things that are becoming a big pain, a constant pain. These two things with 2 very close reminders of how fragile life is. Learning of someone who died suddenly and someone’s parent who as just been given days to live after finding a tumour.

I am tired of floating through life. The older I get the closer the end is coming. The more I am aware of the pain I will cause my children when I die. I hope to be old enough to see them in to adulthood. Strong enough and wise enough to cope with it.

I don’t want them to think I just floated through life aimlessly. I’m tired of working bloody hard with little to show for it. Not material things, experiences. A feeling of having made a difference.

We have to work, it’s a huge chunk of your life to feel dissatisfied about. A chunk of life you can never get back. I recently met a man who retired at 55. I can’t imagine been able to retire let alone at an age which still allows me some time to be able to enjoy it.

The economy in the UK is becoming tighter and tighter. Month on month stretched and stretched. The problem with unstable economies means it’s harder to move or change directions. You need the security however uncomfortable and painful it may be on a daily basis when everything else is becoming unstable around you, especially when you are the sole provider.

Today has gotten to me. Its reminded me how fragile life is, and how I’m not living it.

Just thinking out loud.

Andy.

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10 years

The iPhone is 10 years old. In ten years we have become addicted to our little screens losing the art of small talk. Missing the world we live in. Unaware of our surroundings and those around us. Sat in the same room as people, totally disconnected from them.

The more we use technology and social media to be “connected” the more disconnected we become with the world.

Our world.

Tis the Season

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.

– Henry David Thoreau

Below is a spoken word piece that i wrote recently.

I was feeling depressed and truly overwhelmed with Christmas coming up. My wife as been amazing and 80% of the gifts we “need” to buy have been bought. we can now relax a little and hopefully enjoy this holiday period. Not been religious in any shape and form and a great believer in a secular society i find it a non celebratory time. However when you have children you can’t quite announce there is no Christmas; especially when your wife and children believe in the imagined man in the sky pulling all our strings.

So i hope it doesn’t seem too bah humbug.


Tis the season to be jolly

Tis the season to be jolly,

Tralla Lala la la la laaa.

That time of year when it gets dark, wet cold and gloomy.

That time of year when I can feel the weight on my shoulders.

The weight of an imaginary pressure so heavy it feels real.

Heavy that it aches and affects my mood and all my daily choices.

That time of year of want, want, want.

That time of year of manipulation,

greed and guilt.

Showing how much you care by what you can afford.

Not one need,

hundreds of wants.

That time of year when the already tight income is to be stretched and juggled and manipulated and checked and re-checked and balanced and checked and stretched again.

For one day.

The presents.

The extra food and drink.

The stress and thoughts of how will we cope and get through this month just for that one day.

For one day.

For one day for people to celebrate a religion and god they don’t believe in.

A message they don’t believe or agree with.

A history they don’t think happened.

For a man many don’t believe existed.

“But it’s tradition”

They say

As the tree lights, tinsel and fairy goes up.

We need new lights and decorations too.

We can’t  have the same as last year.

So presents are wrapped.

I lie and hide all the worries and concerns

All the worries and stresses i say we can afford it,

don’t worry it’s all fine.

Really, it’s fine.

To see their faces on that day.

Excited about toys and games

Opening presents with whoops and cheers and huge big hugs and thank yous’.

Toys and gifts that they will forget about in a month or two.

That day where we sit and eat to excess.

“I’m stuffed, I couldn’t possibly eat anymore”

All the waste has food is scraped away.

All that energy and stress wasted thrown away.

Thinking of those with nothing.

Thinking how close this month as got us so close, overstretched and ending up with nothing.

That time of year when it’s all over and people begin to say.

I can’t wait for the sales.

That time of year of giving greed and more greed

The time of year

 The time of year that i can’t wait to be over with.

I really, really do not like this time of year.

 


Have a wonderful holiday season however you decide to enjoy it.

Andy.

Lose your Ego

“Youth ends when egotism does; maturity begins when one lives for others.”

Hermann Hesse

I don’t believe I am wise, however I try every day to take a step towards been wiser. To be a better role model to my children.
Different careers and life experiences both bad and good have shaped me and changed how I look and view things compared to how I did as young man.

You might be mistaken in thinking this is a given. I wish it was.
I can’t tell you how many adults I know who continue to act as they did in their youth. Never learning from previous mistakes or life changing events continually in a cycle of broken repetitive behaviour. Followed by excuse after excuse as to why they behave and continue to behave in such a way. People who have an impact on my children’s lives. Behaviours that I don’t want my children to develop. A  lot of this behaviour comes from ego. Like many in this world something we need to learn to lose.

“Stupidity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” 

With time and experience you begin (i hope) to see the world very differently, hopefully not too cynically.

I at no point expect my children to be good people because they are told to be. I expect my children to be good people because they have watched and seen myself and others behave in a way that they recognise that behaviour as been a good person, behaviour that is a standard, a standard they set their behaviour by.

Whilst clicking from one YouTube video to another I stumbled upon a video where a person set out that day to go out of his way to be as altruistic as he could be. It pretty much ended with almost everyone turning down his offer of help and advice. A video sadly i have not been able to find again since saving this post as a draft a few weeks ago.

So i will leave this one for you as a motivator.

It really captures the first reaction on the people’s faces that i myself encountered. the look of defensive judgment the look of why ?!!! would you offer to help.

Which in itself is a sad thing to see.

I decided to give it a try myself as best as I could purposely looking at helping as many people as I met that day.

(Edit-  for some reason this post saved as a draft rather than publish, everyday i have continued to offer at least one person an act of kindness. Like below i have found it a mix bag of responses)

Leaving the supermarket I saw a lady struggling with the weight of her trolley. I offered to help and push it to her car for her. She became quite reluctant and very firm in saying no thank you.

As I was walking home from the shop I saw some neighbours struggling carrying furniture into their home it began to rain I offered to help and take some of the furniture in for them. Straight away their body language became defensive and they politely said no thank you. I offered again as they looked at each other dumbfounded and again declined my offer.

Have we become so cynical that an offer of help is met with dismay and questioning the motive of the person offering help.

I believe help is always there.

The question is will you be willing to take it when offered ?

Lose the ego.

Andy.

Switch off, log out

“Show me someone who isn’t a slave! One is a slave to lust, another to greed, another to power, and all are slaves to fear. I could name a former Consul who is a slave to a little old woman… No servitude is more abject than the self-imposed.”

– Seneca, Moral Letters, 47.17

I’ve had a complete cull of social media bar my instagram account. I have not deactivated Facebook I have completely deleted it. I am quite ashamed to report I had some withdrawal symptoms. Feelings that I was missing out on conversations or shared jokes and upcoming local events. When you change from the “norm” you become hyper aware of the thing you are trying to avoid. Aware of others talking to you whilst typing on their phones or checking it mid conversation to see if they have notifications, which when you are not partaking in doing the same becomes fucking annoying and rude. Feeling you are second to a like on Facebook or someone sharing a share. Sadly I have to use 3 apps for work. Otherwise I would not have a “smart” phone. I have stopped using google maps and get out the old A to Z. I check my thoughts and memories without double checking google. If I want to know of local events I check notice boards or the library when passing. Or as I did today I asked someone if they knew of a local panto and was given a local church newsletter which had exactly what we wanted on it. Something google had not been able to find.

I’ve actively messaged friends, where as before a simple like on a post of theirs would suffice. Instead I’ve checked up on them to see how they are. By cutting out and avoiding social media I’ve become more social and better in communicating. The very thing that is designed to keep us all more connected made me feel disconnected.

Smart phones do have they uses.

One of which is finding this Article from a few years ago.

“1. When you’re without a cellphone, time expands. It’s incredible how much time is wasted looking for the possibilities of engagement on our phones. By day two I felt that involuntary itch to check my texts subside. My thumbs begin to relax. I discovered that I had time to simply think and observe my thoughts and my surroundings – oh and my thoughts about my surroundings. Had I been missing what was going on around me while staring at my phone every 60 seconds? (Note: this is a rhetorical question.)

2. You have less email to contend with. Note : change this to notifications

It’s weird, but it’s true. When you stop checking your email constantly, you stop half-replying to stuff, and that means fewer emails being batted back to you, and fewer emails all around. This actually helps streamline communication, because you address a thing head on instead of bandying half-formed ideas about without resolution. How quaint: You actually think about what you are going to say and when you’re available, you respond!  How cutting edge: You start wishing everyone would lose their phones or at least vow not to answer until they have considered their response.

3. You’re not unreachable. There was a time when we found each other without phones. Even when you’re off your mobile tether, people who want to find you will find a way to get in touch with you. That anxiety we feel when we don’t have immediate access to people feels real, but it quickly abates when you realize that you do not vanish when your phone does.

4. You hyper manage the drudge out of your life.  Our lives are a hybrid of drudge and fulfillment; balance comes with apportioning the required with the good stuff.  Where does my phone fit into this? I used to think it helped me manage down the drudge but what it actually does is perpetuate my focus on the drudge, because I’m constantly checking and refining schedules and plans: I can make dinner reservations for next Saturday while I am waiting for my meeting to begin; I can see what yoga classes I could take when I’m in Williamsburg, NY, next week while I’m on hold with a client.

Seems like smart multitasking, but having all of that at my fingertips throughout the day actually detracts from what is important and fulfilling. Without my phone I had to quickly and efficiently decide how to manage all the planning, arrangements, decision-making about how to get from point A to Point B today and tomorrow once and for all, rather than all day long.

5. You’re not lost. I live and die by Google maps, even in my own city. We all do. So what happens when you can’t take a digital bird’s-eye view of your geolocation on the spot every minute? I had to do something I also hadn’t done in a while: Ask for directions. You know, rely on and interact with another person to get where I’m going, which I have to remind myself, I did every day pre-Google. Not to mention, that allowed me to listen to the radio and just drive.

6. You check your thoughts instead of your phone. Because I wasn’t scanning for emails and texts, I could actually scan my own thoughts and tune in to how I was doing, which, admittedly, I hadn’t done for a while. How did I sleep last night? What is the weather? Did I get sufficient exercise yesterday? Gee, I actually know this without looking at my phone. But instead of looking at that stuff (as well as learning what a former colleague thinks of a new restaurant she just ate in), I can focus on how am I feeling instead, and ask, What am I looking forward to today? What is holding me back and is it real or imagined?

7. Empathy is a boomerang. It comes back and rewards you in spades. Empathy is a key characteristic of resilience, and encouraging your employees to be empathetic will not only make them happier and more engaged, it will make your customers more satisfied.

After I lost my phone, I asked six Delta employees for help, and only two—two!— exhibited any sign of empathy or actually thought for a moment about how to solve my problem. The other two-thirds essentially said, Move along, Are you boarding or not?, or started rattling off some company-speak about their Lost and Found (which by the way, has a stated Method of Operation best described as  ‘Don’t call us we’ll call you’).  In contrast, almost any small hotel, salon, health club, you’ll find that 9 out of 10 employees know how to find a way to help you when you lose a phone, need to send a message, left something in your room. They can find a way to get you your phone inside of a day, because they’re there to serve you. Not so with the airlines.

But here’s the kicker: The two employees who showed empathy and tried to help me best they could actually seemed far happier than those who did not (the four who did not offer help were grumpy and stressed). This confirmed for me what I know about the empathy effect: You get back what you give, and it lifts the mood almost immediately.The value of empathy is that is not only helps your customers, it helps  you and your employees with engagement and success.

In the meantime, I have come to terms that I will never see that phone again. The good thing? They’re 100% replaceable. But the impact and tremendous value of human connection is not. That’s a lesson worth learning.”

______

Switch off and log out for a while you will be amazed what is around you.

“Make yourself invulnerable to your dependency on comfort and convenience, or one day your vulnerability might bring you to your knees”

Andy