Be child like

“A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who does not play has lost forever the child who lived in him.”

⁃ Pablo Neruda

My children reminded me how to be. How to move naturally yesterday. To be child like and just enjoy the present.

For weeks, actually months my older 2 daughters have been nagging and nagging to come along for a run with me. I submitted and agreed they could come. In fact I’ve given them two days they can run with me. Full on runs for them but nice active rest runs for me. When I normally run I think too much. How my stride is, what my body position is doing, checking my pace. It isn’t normally until 3-4 miles in that I find a steady relaxed pace and some what quieten down my inner dialogue. Only then do I begin to enjoy it.

We set off at a comfortable pace for us all. Not once did I think about what I was doing. I was checking on my daughters, making sure it wasn’t too tough on them. Encouraging them when they found it tough. Living and laughing together. Hearing them saying they are proud of themselves, learning to push through when it’s tough. To know and feel achievement.

Something I haven’t done on a run since I don’t know when.

I run as a necessity not a want or something I like to do. Now I’m counting down the days to our next run together.

Now I’m paying attention to playing. To been child like. What’s the point of been fit for life if you don’t play and enjoy it.

Now If i could just sit in a seated squat like my 2 year old.

Andy.

live like jay. Be like Goggins.

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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.

Journaling with Evernote

“ I don’t want to live in a hand-me-down world of others’ experiences. I want to write about me, my discoveries, my fears, my feelings, about me.”

⁃Helen Keller

I have found a feeling of vulnerability since becoming a parent. Not only aware of the fragility of my children’s lives but the fragility of my life and the speed that the years fly by.

If I was to die tomorrow I’d like the children to know who I am. Not to be told your dad was like this or that he thought this about that subject and so on. Or worse, for them to be told you are like your dad. I want them to know exactly who I am ideally from sharing a long fulfilled life together.

If that isn’t an option I’d like them to know who I was and what I thought from my own words, which lead me to writing a journal.

I struggled to write a journal I would aim to write it daily. It isn’t something I am able to carry with me on a daily basis. So it’s something I would write at the end of the day.

I started well sitting down before bed and writing thoughts and synopsis of the day, slowly it became bi-daily and then weekly and eventually a chore. Trying to remember a weeks worth of thoughts ideas and events became something of homework I didn’t want to do.

I began writing down notes on my phone as thoughts came to me or funny moments that I wanted to share along with a brief daily synopsis to then transfer into my journal. This became even more of a chore and felt like it was taking up too much time copying one to the other. I looked at several apps as I always have my phone on me. It had to be free ( Tight git ) It had to be accessible to others if I die. It had to be backed up some where without a data or word cap on it. I tried several but non were as customisable as I wanted. I was still new to journaling and struggling with getting my thoughts across and brief if time was short.

Ideally you should, I feel find the time to sit in a quiet corner and really focus on the day and what you want to put down in your journal. However this isn’t always possible. So I looked for a hack a quick and easy way to journal.

Which lead me to bullet journaling.

There are hundreds of YouTube videos of beautiful and amazing bullet journals and ideas. Which as clever and creative as they were, again became time-consuming. I really like the idea of bullet journaling and the several categories and symbols you can create. You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to bullet journaling. But once again it would involve carrying a journal around with me or making notes and adding them to my journal. Again searched for apps but found none of them were as customisable as I wanted.

Whilst searching for ideas I was reminded of Evernote a place to store documents on-line and control who can see the notes and documents you post. It’s also fully customisable as I want it to be.

In Evernote you create notebooks with these notebooks you can create stacks.

As seen here

You can see that I have created several stacks.

With stacks Evernote always puts them in chronological order.

So ensure you number them in the order you wish to have them appear.

Each stack is basically a list of notebooks. Within these notebooks you can add unlimited amounts of notes. Again they show in chronological order. I always put the date as the title so they show in order of latest entry.

Within each stack I have notebooks with my customised categories.

 

 

Daily journal.

This is my everyday journal. Not always a written journal sometimes it can be a photo or photos that I have taken of that day.

Reflection.

This is a list of philosophy and poetry that have struck a chord with me. It is always growing and I will often go back and re-read it.

 

Books to read.

This is a list of books I have read and yet to read.

 

Selfish wants.

This is an unusual list.

It’s a list of material things that I would buy if I could. They are not huge items. It’s things like a watch, trainers, camera etc. Things I could afford but it would mean pulling money from one area to another. It’s things I can do without to make sure it’s spent on the girls. It’s more of a backwards reminder for me, to remind me what I am happy to go without.

 

Places to see with the girls.

This is a list of places and things that I’d like to see and do with the girls. Something’s are ticked off and if they are a description of where, when and what we did with photos is attached to that note.

One very good feature with Evernote is the ability to search via keywords. So if you have a particular day or trip away for example you can easily search it out.

If I struggle for something to write that day I always refer to my journal ideas and questions.

Journal ideas

Feeling proud today.

Internals rather than externals.

Thought for the day.

Mood of the day.

Failed/ struggled with today.

Something nice for someone today. “Altruism”

Trained today.

Brief description of the day.

Hopes, adventures and future plans

I also decided to become organised and adult a little.

I have a finance stack.

Within this is a list of monthly bills. Outgoing’s, dates and the amounts etc..

I also have a notebook where I can scan receipts and store them for safe keeping. Warranties etc.. fortunately, touch wood, we haven’t had to buy or replace any large items or white goods.

But it’s handy to have if we need to.

I should add a caveat here that this isn’t sponsored or paid and endorsed by Evernote. It’s something I use and found extremely useful.

Do you use a journal?

If you have any tips or ideas to use as a busy parent please share in the comments.

Andy.

The Bug

I am tired of being tired and talking about how tired I am.

– Amy Poehler

Currently in the UK we have the bug.

A sickness bug.

Traveling from area to area from school to school.

I generally lack sympathy. I am very empathetic but sympathy for people I have non.

Which might be some what of an oxymoron. I don’t know.

Children are pretty much little walking Petri dishes of bacteria and illness ready to attack at any point.

This weekend we had our 3 year old daughters 4th birthday party. All week building up to it kids have been pulled out of school or worse, children were been dropped off looking an interesting shade of green whilst their parents disappeared like a flash out of the school gates. Reports of children been segregated into the ill class room with other children who had the bug at both ends. Parents strangely we’re now Un-contactable.

With this information we decided to take all our children out of school for the last 2 days of the week.

We have spent a lot of money ( to us ) on a party with surprise magician clown and we did not want her or her sisters missing it due to catching the dreaded Bug.

My wife took them to the new local library. Been educational and all since they were out of school. 5 minutes into been there a child puked all over the place. The mother of the puking child did very little by apology and tried to rub it away into the shiny new carpet.

So after that we had two days of lock down. We did it. We managed to have them all there with no sign of the dreaded bug.

A great party and a great fun day.

11 pm that night.

Shit.

Pukesville.

Our eldest can not stop throwing up.

What a trooper though, she amazed us. She is very much the dramatic and sensitive one.

Too tired and too ill to moan she wouldn’t leave the side of the toilet incase she was going to be sick again. Which in turn means tag team time for me and my wife. Passing each other with heavy bags under our eyes.

She is fortunately better and now back to her normal self.

Moaning about anything and everything.

Now I just hope we have managed to keep her quarantined enough that the others do not get it.

Because I’ve got really tired of it.

The hardest thing as a parent especially in a larger family is the ability to be able to function when one or a few of you are ill. The border line sleep torture followed by a lack of much needed structure means daily happy life goes out of the window. Tempers fray due to the lack of sleep and generally feeling like crap.

I can’t wait for normality to return. Or at least children with the energy to moan and for me to have the energy to cope with it.

Andy.

Stoicism saved my life and makes me a better parent.

“The task of a philosopher: we should bring our will into harmony with whatever happens, so that nothing happens against our will and nothing that we wish for fails to happen. “

– Epictetus, Discourses, 2.14.7

A cliché I know.

For a while now I have been on a journey of self-improvement of mind, body and spirit.
It as been my saving grace, along this journey I have found ( as enlightening as “found ” sounds ) Stoicism

Stoicism has saved my life.

I am depressed in the same was an alcoholic is an alcoholic. In the same way that once you are an alcoholic you always will be an alcoholic. Hopefully a sober one.

I’ve looked back to try to pinpoint when I became “depressed” to continue and use the analogy of an alcoholic I don’t think they is one specific moment when I had my first drink and that was it. It’s been somewhat of a life long slow spiral which ultimately resulted in hitting rock bottom and almost taking my life.

I hate excuses and actively try not to make them for my circumstances or frustrations or for the reason that I am depressed.
Our actions knowingly or unknowingly ultimately lead us to the lives we live and are living today. It’s then for us to adjust it accordingly. This can mean taking several paths constantly trying to change the course of our journey as we take every step. Many of us live in a system we can’t change and for many years I fought against it. Blaming the way the world is set up as the reasons for my depression and frustration.

Stoicism as helped to change how I think and view the world. I would often stay awake debating in my head how I could help countries that I’ve never visited change their laws and the way they treat their citizens. Frustrated at the way people are forced to live, in my own country the depriving situations people find themselves in. Angry and deeper into my depression, using the excuse of the way politicians act to justify how I acted and felt. Blaming them for my situation and unhappiness.

The repetitive consistent daily practice of Stoicism along with regular exercise keeps me balanced more than any medication, like many things in life you can’t change and become “better” until you are open and willing to. Thankfully I was willing to.

The one thing that Stoicism has given me is the tools and a different way of thinking to deal with life. Tools I either forgot, lost or never had before.

Tools that I try to pass on to my children.

I don’t want my children to be depressed. I don’t mean sad. I mean depressed like I am at times. Unless you have felt or lived with the suffocating feel of depression its a very hard thing to imagine or sympathise with.
I want them to be strong.

Mentally strong with the tools to handle life and the shit that is often continuously and relentlessly thrown at you.

For a long time I saw parenting as a sprint race I wanted them to know me and all the skills needed for life, now !!!!
I didn’t expect to be alive and was very aware of how quickly it could all end.
I now see parenting as a long ultra race. Months and months of preparation ready to steadily hit the path in front and keep going through the highs and lows along the way.

Toddlers lose their shit at the slightest thing.
Their socks feel funny, the kiwi fruit looks too hairy, their sister said they’re a poo head. The list goes on and on.
I would try to force wisdom into them at these moments explaining that a hairy kiwi was normal, that this is how it had grown. That the amount of hair on the outside was irrelevant when all the tasty bit was inside of it.

yes it went as well a you are imagining it went.

I now try to lead by example, not losing my shit when I get cut up in traffic or when the cashier at the till is rude.
Little sayings and mantras are drip fed without their knowledge. Mantras they now repeat, changes in behaviour with each other and there frustrations as become visible to us for the better. slowly but surely we are all getting better. slowly there are developing coping measures that they need to live life.

Of course all of this is well and good until they lose their shit over the last crisp they are eating falling on to the floor.

At which point my Stoic practice goes out of the window and I go and rock in the corner until the crying stops.

Realising I know nothing and to just try to hang on to my own sanity and hopefully they will turn out right.

If they don’t I’ll give them a few books and wish them good luck.

Andy.

Be like Goggins, Live like Jay