Friday, 17 December 2010

Last Christmas

I was just musing about the song 'Last Christmas' and I had a quick thought. What did I write in the blog about my feelings about Christmas a year ago? I went back and had a look. I guess it's not really plagiarising if you simply lift your own writing, although it could be seen as being a tad lazy. But I actually quite like the mood of what I wrote back then so I'm taking the easy route and putting it down again:

"Not long to go now. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I don’t care what your religious predilection is or the fact that the holiday season is really the shopping season for many. Bottom line is the season stands for “good”. Not hatred, or anger, or retribution or all the many other meanie moods that just happen to pop up every day of the year. And it’s not as if we don’t see hurt and bloodshed and tears at Christmas. Because we do. But it’s what the time represents that’s important. You can’t help but expect some people to try to poo poo things like love and happiness and good. And you may not even be in the festive mood. But just remember this: it all comes out of a sense of goodwill to everyone."

I still believe the same now. Merry Christmas to you all.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Please don't stop the music

I’m a little bit peeved with myself at the moment. I can’t find my iPod. It’s not anything to do with the cost of replacement - the main reason I want it is because of Christmas. Over the years I had downloaded various Crimbo tunes, some mainstream, others a little obscure, all with memories. But for the moment, at least, they’ve gone. I’m only now slowly getting into the spirit of what is still a wonderful time of the year. Some of the best songs ever written were written for this season. I'm sure I'll get a proper fix over the next week. In the meantime, I’m now finding myself spending more time in shops listening to what they churn out... I enjoy getting sentimental once in a while. But more comments on the joys of Christmas soon.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Back in the USSR

As an Englishman, albeit one that isn't actually living in the country at the moment, I was desperate for the nation to win the chance to host the 2018 Football World Cup. Imagine that - sometime in the future being able to watch some of the greats of the game on your doorstep. As it turned out, England fell short and the organising committee stumped for Russia. Despite my allegiances and the shrinking chance of being able to say “I saw it in my lifetime”, I'm sure the Russians will put on a great show.

I often view sport as a good vehicle for peeling back the layers of what’s going on around us. Yesterday's news did get me thinking about how the world is constantly changing, even if a lot of us haven't quite woken up to the new reality. If I were to think back 20-odd years I would have been hard pressed to imagine two closed Communist states (one of which was still part of the wider confederation of the USSR), a developing country best known for its favela gun crime and samba, and a country still trapped in an apartheid regime, being given the chance to host the two biggest sporting events on the planet. But China, Russia, Brazil and South Africa have just been, or sometime in the next eight years going to be, the setting of the Olympic Games and Football World Cup. Brazil have admittedly already hosted a World Cup before – but getting the chance to do it again and the Olympics as well?! Throw in the fact that India has just hosted a Commonwealth Games and Qatar won the 2022 World Cup bid and you get a sense of changes in our lifetime. This isn’t an economics piece on the shift from old world to emerging world; it’s just an observation of what we can expect in the future. Embrace it and don't get left behind.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010


I fell upon a wonderful quote from 'A Course in Miracles', though apparently is often misattributed to Nelson Mandela:

"Our worst fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God; your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone, and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Very cool.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Thank you for the days

Returning to my recent conversation with my friend and coaching subject, Kate, she came up with a very interesting conclusion. We talked about the fact that we, living where we are, having three-square meals a day and more, a decent disposal income, good health, great friends and exciting experiences, are extraordinarily lucky. Extraordinarily so really because we don’t have any divine right to such opportunities bestowed upon us in our lives. A different outcome of the throw of the celestial dice and we could have ended up in a slum in the poorest part of India, or could have been scavenging for food and shelter in sub-sarahan Africa.

We are very lucky. It’s that simple. And we should be grateful for it. And the way Kate viewed it was that not only should we be grateful for it and be willing to give back, we also owe it to those less fortunate to live our own lives more fully – otherwise we're just wasting the gift that we've been given. Obviously, we can always find something to moan or stress about in our day-to-day lives but in the bigger scheme of things we've got to honour and celebrate what we've got. Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Get up, stand up

I went on a public speaking course today. It was a refresher to one I attended about a year ago. The funny thing about it was that although I so often see myself as a poor presenter, it actually made me realise I'm not so bad after all. Don't get me wrong, I have my fair dose of nerves and jitters that we all get - everyone from President Obama all the way through to your best friend at a baby shower. But I'm finally mastering better ways to control the fears rather than letting the fears control me.

Interestingly enough, I was talking to one of the other attendees and she mentioned a friend of hers runs stand-up comedy workshops. It's an area I've never ever ever ever had any interest in at all but today for some reason it piqued my interest. In fact, it even energised me into thinking about it. Maybe I was just in that zone. I don't see myself as the funniest man in town. Far from. But if I were to do such a course I'm sure that would be a real step up in the public speaking stakes - if you can handle that you can handle anything.

The next workshop isn't until January and there's every chance that after a good night's sleep I'll have a dose of second thoughts. But at least, for now, it does make me wonder what any of us can discover if we dip our toes into those unchartered territories that have out of the blue made an impression on us.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Say, say, say

Every day we find ourselves having all kinds of conversations with all kinds of people. Sometimes they're deeply profound, sometimes they're pure templated small talk, sometimes they're just a shopping list of aches, pains and TV trivia. And a much of the time we're able to simply forget we've even had such conversations.

Well, the other day I bumped into a friend of mine, Kate. Some months ago I completed a part-time Executive Diploma in Corporate Coaching, and as part of my ongoing process of fine-tuning what I had learned I happily provided sessions for friends for a small fee of a glass of vino afterwards. "Wine 2 Whine" I called my sessions. Quite catchy I thought. Anyway, the last time I properly chatted with Kate was during one of these meet ups.

During our session we discussed a few work issues she had. The next day I got a polite thankyou email and we left it at that. So running into her at the weekend was quite refreshing when she said that something in our conversation had got her thinking a lot and she'd started to see and apply a few things differently. So much so that when she heard her brother was being overwhelmed by his own issues, she found a way to plant a similar idea in his mind to take action. He did. And he's much happier.

I'm not saying I've got all the answers, far from it, but Kate did find a grain of value in our discussion and paid it forward to her brother. It's true that our conversation was in the context of coaching, but in the bigger scheme of the world imagine what good could be done if we were all consciously offering a positive message that could be passed on to others.

Thursday, 4 November 2010


I was reading the other day about the demise of the Sony Walkman, the trailblazer for playing personalised portable music. When I was growing up I didn't really have the kind of funds to go as high-brow as that so I tended to end up with some cheap knock off from the local market that used four AA batteries rather than two - always a tell-tale sign. Back in the day, I used to religiously tape directly off the radio, trying to ensure that my 'mix tape' wasn't too badly interupted by commercials or inconsiderate DJs.

Well, a few weeks ago I was trawling through my brother's attic and I fell upon some of the tapes that I had put together all those years ago in the late 1980s or 1990s. It was a bit of jolt to the system. Did I really like some of that stuff? But it was songs and sounds that immediately and joyfully brought back memories that had been too easily buried beneath years of work, conformity and cynicism. Were they better days? Probably not. But it didn't really matter. The tapes threw into the mix so many vivid stories, good and less good. The fact that I was able to laugh at some of the more unfortunate memories just showed me that time really can be the great healer.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

What's the name of the game?

One thing that I know that definitely works for me is momentum. Throw in some energy and a bit of excitement and I’m away. Now, getting me to the start line, that’s been an issue. Inertia takes hold like a warm cosy blanket on a dark winter’s night. Why should I expend energy when this is so much easier? I'm so easily distracted.

Well, I’ve discovered that one thing I like is to play games. A kid at heart, that’s me. And with that in mind I’ve been trying to reframe a few things in my daily existence as a game or mini competition. And wham, bam it's got me engaged.

On a simple level I play my 10 minute rush around game. I get home from work and soon as I'm able I set the timer on my iPhone. I then rush around trying to "sort things out". It’s got harder the more I’ve done it, even more so since I have a cleaner. But it’s amazing what you find stored away that you have just shoved away and forgotten. It’s all part of the declutter process and it's actually quite exciting. I now set myself challenges and time trials for all sorts of things. It’s the first of a few ploys I’m looking to use to trick me out of my stupor. Game on.

Sunday, 24 October 2010


Today's just one of those days - the Monday after two weeks out of the office and within hours it feels that you haven't been away. The emails have mounted up, the old rhythm kicks in and it makes you wonder whether it was worth it. Well, in reality you know it was worth it. Those hours of complete and utter contentment I experienced last week are something I'd like to be able bottle and use in those more trying times. As I haven't quite mastered that skill yet I realise that I've got to make more of what's in front of me. To be honest, work isn't so bad - it's just a game I've got to get better at playing. I need to ride on the parts of my day I actually quite like and just roll with the rest. I guess that's what life's about anyway. Plus, holidays aren't always a bed of roses - there's so much added pressure to have a good time. And there are only so many pina coladas a man can take...

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Everybody was kung fu fighting

I guess I'm in a space of increased awareness, for want of a better phrase, as I'm more and more often finding ways to associate random day-to-day existence with the essence of spirituality. Then again, I might just be good at shoe-horning the irrelevant into a story that suits my purpose. I like to think the former, but I would say that wouldn't I...?

Yesterday, though, I did have a moment of clarity at a kung fu class. The basis of Wing Chun is more than simply learning to be a poor imitation of Bruce Lee, the best-known proponent of this form of kung fu. It's very much about working with a centred and relaxed version of yourself. I've been cutting my teeth, so to speak, for a couple of years now but I still instinctively kick into real world behaviour. I tense up. I focus on the elements in front of me rather than the wider story around me.

I get stuck in my head thinking about what I think ought to be done, without being balanced and letting it exist in the outside world and just flow. As my instructor said, "Find the balance." Be connected in a less judgemental, less analytical, more engaged way. It was a classic moment of cogruence between mind, body and soul - all on the same page. Wing Chun by its nature tries to encourage that. But in our own random day-to-day existences I'm sure we can all find those moments when it happens to us. It just helps to be a bit more aware at times.

Friday, 1 October 2010


I was watching an episode of 'Glee' the other night (which, I must say, is a brilliantly fun show), when the cast kicked into a rendition of the song 'Smile', made famous by everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Nat King Cole to Michael Jackson. I hadn't heard the song for years but just hearing it stirred something inside. It's just one of those songs I wish that I had written. The words, the melody, the emotion - it's just beautiful. So I thought I'd just put down a few lines of the song, which speak for themselves. Beautiful, just beautiful:

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


It’s so incredibly easy to be distracted. One minute you’ve got a great idea for a blog entry, the next you’re sucked into a bit of reality TV. A bit of reality TV you’ve already seen, at that. And before you know it a whole week has gone by and the blog idea has disappeared somewhere into the ether.

As simple as that. And that’s where I find myself. But it is interesting as to how easily I find my attention shifted onto something else. Sometimes it has a bit of value, a lot of the time it most certainly does not.

The reason this got my thinking again was because I fell upon a piece by a guy called Harvey Mackay entitled, “Stay Focused On The Big Picture.” The basic principle is ‘the person that is everywhere is nowhere’. Decide what’s important and focus on it.

Too many goals, objectives, distractions, questions etc etc. Focus on the issue at hand and cut everything out. If I may, I’ll borrow a golfing story that Harvey quoted in his article about Arnold Palmer. The golfing legend recalled a tough lesson he learned about focus:

'It was the final hole of the 1961 Masters tournament, and I had a one-stroke lead and had just hit a very satisfying tee shot. I felt I was in pretty good shape. As I approached my ball, I saw an old friend standing at the edge of the gallery. He motioned me over, stuck out his hand and said, "Congratulations." I took his hand and shook it, but as soon as I did, I knew I had lost my focus.

On my next two shots, I hit the ball into a sand trap, then put it over the edge of the green. I missed a putt and lost the Masters. You don't forget a mistake like that; you just learn from it and become determined that you will never do that again. Trust me, your friends will understand!'

It’s unlikely that most of our lives will consist of a golfing major but even on the most basic level there's definitely something to be taken from that. Knowing what to do is one thing. Focusing and getting it done is entirely another.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Lady (hear me tonight)

Having recently picked up an Oprah magazine in my local supermarket, I accidentally followed that up by buying a montly mag entitled 'Psychologies'. I say "accidentally" as I thought it was an academic work rather than a woman's magazine. I guess the picture of Julia Roberts on the front should have been a bit of a giveaway, though I must confess I was happy to be seduced by it.

But the interesting thing about the mag is that it's really quite a nice take on personal development. It's tag is "Know More, Grow More", which pretty much sums up where it's coming from. Yes, it tackles some of the usual ideas you'll see in women's mags but it also talks about streamling your life, confidence, developing your curiosity, the spirit and so on. I can honestly say that I found a few nuggets that I could use. It's another example of the need to not limit our sources of inspiration - in this case it came from Julia Roberts....

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

God bless the child

I was browsing through the 'Financial Times' the other day when I fell upon a piece by one of the paper's columnists, Lucy Kellaway. The article was a light-hearted look at things that CEOs and toddlers have in common. Nothwithstanding the less positive commonalities like the "lack of common sense" and "issues with listening", some of the ideas did make me think, particularly in the context of we, the individual, running our lives as businesses. The positive traits of CEOs and toddlers that came to mind were: 1) Both are full of energy and enthusiasm; 2) Both are natural risk-takers; 3) Both are persistent; 4) Both are inquisitive - they will not be fobbed off with a stock reply; 5) Both are creative; 6) Both have great interpersonal skills; 7) Both are assertive and very good at saying no; 8) Both are good at making decisions.

The list is probably endless, as any analogy can be if you choose to extrapolate enough. But it did make me think that all those years of instruction and shaping and 'evolution' have actually taken me further away from some of the qualities I'm actually looking for now...

Friday, 10 September 2010

Genie in a bottle

Don't you just love Oprah. I've never actually sat down and watched a full edition of her programme but I know that the essence of the Oprah experience is to do good for others. Yes, she's made more money than I'll ever see over a good few lifetimes, but I don't begrudge that, particularly as a large slice of it is being redirected towards good causes.

Anyway, I was having one of those supermarket shopping experiences where you pick up random things to give it a try, when I fell upon Oprah's magazine. It's not my norm to pick up women's magazines but there's no real reason why I shouldn't - if there's value, there's value. So I stuck one into my basket and took it home.

The tag line of the mag is "Live Your Best Life", which to me was a good enough reason to give it a go. A flicked through and fell upon an article talking about charisma, that intangible seductive characteristic that allows individuals to stand out in the crowd. Although I still think it's hard to pinpoint magic ingredients, the article did highlight some interest theories. According to some eminent individual, charisma is made up of three things: 1) expressiveness (a talent for striking up conversations and conveying feelings; 2) control (an ability to fine-tune your persona to suit situations); 3) sensitivity (a gift for listening and sussing out others' mindsets). In a nutshell, it's the art of communication and connection.

And the best thing about it all is that individuals aren't necessarily born that way - they can be made. It might seem a little false and shallow, and it's true that if you're not being genuine or authentic then the facade will fall apart at the seams like a cheap nylon suit. But growing into your character, that intrigues me. Who can forget how Princess Diana was when she was introduced to the world as this shy Lady Diana individual with all the confidence of a young Bambi? She developed a charisma as she threw off her shell. Yes, circumstance did force her to but in my opinion she stayed true to herself. Anyway, I'm committing to working on my charisma - as random and ethereal as that may sound. To me, it's simply focusing my energies more on what genuinely interests me - people and development. It beats spending my time with another DVD box set. Thanks, Oprah.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010


Back on the “woe is me” tip, a lot of time you hear people saying “life’s unfair”. Maybe I’m being a bit naive and rose-tinted about some things but I tend to try and view that big realm called "life" as whatever you make it out to be. Yes, it's simplistic but that’s the way I see it. What you choose to believe is true enough.

The reason it came to mind was an analogy I read. It talked about life being up and down but it’s really for the individual to enjoy the ride, rather than resisting it and wasting the moment. There's no point in trying to control it, simply control yourself. As the piece put it “life is a funfair” – that has so much more charm than viewing life as unfair….

Monday, 6 September 2010

Let it be

Falling upon one of my favourite websites, I found the line “I have manifested this because I like it.” It wasn’t talking about achieving some beautiful and wonderfully long-held dream. On the contrary - it was all about the crap that is in our lives that we choose to take on board because we get some weird kick out of it. It’s the old ‘devil you know’ syndrome. It takes some gumption and a fair bit of discipline but if you really wanted to change your perception of any given situation you can. But saying that it's so much easier to be the victim, or the struggler, or over-worked, or the unloved, or the put upon, or the… And it goes on.

There are so many individuals out there that set a shining example for the rest of us. Sure, it's still not all a bed of roses for them. But just thinking about the likes of Nick Vujicic ( makes me think sometimes I need to suck it up and get on with it. If you manage to take a deep breath and go head on against the 'comfort' of feeling crap, as it were, you might actually surprise yourself. Get aware. As ever.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Leader of the pack

I’m at peace that I’ll never be CEO of General Electric or a President at Disney. Sure, the free invitations to film premieres would be nice, the private jet whizzing you around the world would be cool, and the gold name plate above your river view office and incessant fawning of staff might even be quite entertaining for a while. But sometimes you know it’s just not what you’re all about. There’s a trade off with all these so called perks and if you’re just not wired for that world then that’s a lot of misdirected energy you’re expending trying to get there.

I was at dinner the other night and one of my friends mentioned that having been made boss of her team on an interim basis it wasn’t actually as much fun as she had hoped it would be. She’s a creative thinker, a journalist to be precise, and she found the bureaucracy and man management that comes with the role was preventing her from doing what she was good at and enjoyed – writing. Similarly, an email went round at work today telling us that a team leader had requested to step down from his role so that he could focus on what he liked best – servicing clients. Not all of us are cut out to be top dog or have that inner drive to be so. It’s become more and more apparent to me what I like and what I don’t like, regardless of what everyone else thinks I should or could be doing. We all need something to shoot for, otherwise the merry-go-round could get quite tedious, but as long as it's in keeping with what you're all about. I'm comfortable with that.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Human nature

I was walking around the supermarket a few weeks ago when I bumped into a friend, Olivia. I've known her a few years now and she comes across as a party-loving, red-blooded Australian that works in sales. Her basket was filled with various meats, taco shells and an assortment of less than dainty foods. We chatted about a new butcher she had discovered that did decent cuts of meat that could be thrown onto the "barbie", before we went on our respective ways. I thought nothing of it all until about a week later when I noticed a posting of hers on Facebook. She had set up a side business making cupcakes for all manner of occasions.

Looking at her exquisite and funky designs I was so impressed by this creative streak that I'd never seen and it just showed firstly how little I knew about her or her passions, but also reflected the prejudices I was happy to pander to. Maybe some of it was down to a persona that Olivia had created. I'm not sure yet. But at the same I'm sure many people have an impression of me that isn't really "me". We're all like that. Pretending to be, for want of a better phrase, for so long does become second nature but also has its limitations - it can hide some of our natural vulnerabilities and some of the really interesting bits. For example, I've written over 100 songs but it took me years before I showed any to anyone. The challenge for me is to provide a more honest and open image gilded by as little ego as possible. I can but try.

Monday, 16 August 2010


I went to watch the film ‘Inception’ yesterday. I must say it’s pretty crazy. Brilliant at times but still a little left-field and crazy. Without ruining the story for those yet to see it, a couple of central premises revolve around the concept of planting an idea inside your head and the grey area between what’s real and what’s imagined. My dreams tend not to have Leonardo DiCaprio running around in them but the film did get me thinking about how ideas come to us, how deeply some of them resonate with us and how much we are able to consciously control.

There’s a lot to be said about pondering how we think, from the perspective of being a little more conscious about it all. It makes me want to immerse myself and connect a lot more into all the realities I try to project for myself, even if I can lose focus (and not that there’s a film worth making about my world, to be honest). ‘Inception’ admittedly dances around a lot more weird and wonderful places but it’s nice to come out of a movie theatre and actually find yourself thinking on a slightly deeper level to when you walked in.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

I'll do it all again

I've had one of those weeks, I guess. In a good way. You know when you've been thinking about doing something and before you know it 10 years have passed you by. Well, a couple of situations were addressed in recent days. I can be the master procrastinator, but once in a while I just think "to hell with it" and just get on and do whatever I've been putting off. So I bought a flute.

I don't entirely know why I did but it was something just gnawing away at me in the last year or two. Admittedly, I learned to play one between the ages of about 11 and 13 but I wasn't really that good at it. My excuse at the time was that I didn't like what I was being taught. Notwithstanding a clinical aversion towards regular practice, I think now that there was something to be said for that. Okay, the laziness element hasn't entirely been cured but at least now I can blow away to my heart's content on my own terms.

The other thing I did was get a tattoo. Just a small one, mind you, but it reflected something that I had for so long talked about but never gone through with. It's in the form of an insignia of the sun, and takes me back to the middish-90s when I first had the desire for such a symbol after meeting a girl while I was backpacking around Asia with a bigger and bolder version. But that's another story. The fact is I'm actually quite pleased with myself and my silly little whims. I didn't let the critical and negative voice inside sensibly talk me out of it. I would even pat myself on the back for what I've done, only it's still a little bit sore...

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Count your blessings

I remember when I was growing up being dragged kicking and screaming to my mum’s church. It tended to be quite a colourful affair. Lots of singing, plenty of animation and a fair bit of drama, if you ask me. There was a song at church that we used to sing once in a while entitled "Count Your Blessings". It was all about being grateful for what you had and what God had given you. I hadn't really thought about the song (or those Sundays for that matter) for some time, until I received a 'Thought for Today' in my inbox at work. Having signed up for the pleasure, these daily pick-me-ups come from those lovely people at Yesterday's went as follows:

"Even when you feel as though things aren't going well in your life, you have reasons to be grateful. Today, take time to appreciate the gift of life and all its wonders. Count your blessings and cherish what you have."

To the point and a powerful message.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Good vibrations

Over the weekend I went for a coffee with an old friend of mine that had just left our firm. He'd sent an "au revoir, see you somewhere, sometime" email to the main distribution list and then was kindly escorted off the premises so didn't get the chance to say proper farewells.

Fortunately, I completely randomly bumped into him (which given that we were based in two different countries was actually a surprise indeed). Anyway, over coffee he told me that he'd finally found the cajones to do something really exciting by going into a business partnership with two friends of his. It was brave, it was scary but it was all very exhilirating for him. I say "scary" but actually that was more the way I saw it than him. He was at complete peace and, as he put it, held no fear "for the first time in my life."

It was a very bold move and it's not the sort of thing that most of us could or would do. But one thing that did interest me was when he said it all started as an idea. "It only became a 'good' idea when I did something about it - otherwise it's just another plain old idea in my head. And we all have loads of those." His thinking kind of tied in with a blog entry I made fairly recently, which was all about giving legs to those internal reflections. I was once told that any new insight that doesn't lead to action to help the quality of your life is just a waste. My friend clearly went further along the line with his new concept but it does give me food for thought on so many levels.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010


It's sometimes easy to forget how effective the "little and often" approach to change can be. It's the "marathon and not a sprint" way of thinking; the "get rich slowly" as opposed to trying to quickly. I'd like to think I'm instilling the approach across my existence - admittedly, with varying levels of success.

Now, I'm not saying sartorial elegance is the be all and end all of the process but I was walking down the street the other day when I past a chap wearing the exact same polo shirt that I used to own some time ago. I think it was from H&M and I used to absolutely love wearing it. Too much I'd say in hindsight. By the time I peeled it off my back that final time it was way past its best days. But one day I consciously decided that it and a few other tatty garments had to go. It was time to upgrade everything around me. Seeing that guy in my top did give me a bit of a jolt but, at the same time, it did in some small way show me that I haven't been going round and round in circles making no effort to improve myself. Silly, perhaps, and hardly a goal-defining moment but it still brought a bit of a smile to my face.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Don't look back in anger

A former colleague of mine passed away last week. It was a heart attack and all very sudden. One minute he was seeing off his wife and children as they went to visit family abroad, the next thing a few days later he was making a final taxi journey where he failed to reach his destination. We weren’t majorly close but we did sit opposite each other for a couple of years prior to him leaving the firm a year ago and I got to know him and his world. He may not have had the healthiest of lifestyles, smoking quite a lot and being a bit overweight, but he still was only in his mid-to-late forties. He even used to joke about my twice a year detox and salad lunches – “you’re going to live a very long and boring life. What’s the point?” he’d laugh. Whether or not there was any irony in it, in a perverse kind of way there was something to be said for his comment. He saw certain acts as depriving yourself of enjoyment, and regardless whether that should apply to living a healthier lifesty;e he certainly seemed to love life. A few years back he took a couple of years out and him and his family moved to New Zealand simply to experience a different reality.

Whenever these kind of events spring themselves I do tend to get a bit more reflective – “why?” and “what’s it all about?”, kind of stuff. It’s only natural to do so, or maybe more so in cultures and environments that focus more heavily on the earthly rewards over the heavenly. I read in a book once that one reason why individuals fear death is because they are not living a life that’s true to them – not living their “dream”, compromising too much, living falsely, living in the never-never and so on.

Whatever the raft of fix-it books might suggest, not everyone can take the big step to achieve some crazy long-held dream. Real-world conditioning tends to bite. And even if they do jump there really is no guarantee of success. We always hear about the success stories but, as they say, history is written by winners and not every attempt will be 'successful' in the way they originally perceived it. Some people just swap one type of unhappiness for another kind of misery. There's absolutely nothing wrong with chasing dreams (and in reality it's definitely desirable to have something to shoot for), but sometimes we really musn't forget about the many joyous things right in front of our noses.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Eye of the tiger

There's a new instructor at the kung fu club I go to. Very laid back and every bit the identikit hippy. He speaks in a very soft but focused manner - you know when he speaks he's often got something worth listening to.

Today we were going through a bodily movement sequence, something which over the last couple of years I've done dozens upon dozens of times. As I came to a particular moment in the routine he noticed that I was not quite flowing as much as I should have been. He came over and said, "Now just get aware of everything around you. You're still in your head." I was so heavily focused on the internal workings of Wing Chun that I was getting a bit lost in my head. Overthinking, overanalysing and becoming detached from the reality around me.

On the way home from the class it got me thinking about a couple of previous blog entries, one that talked about "zooming out" and the other that discussed finding a balance between the internal and external realities. I realise now that I have a bit of a habit of getting lost in the fog of my thinking, analysis paralysis or simply drowning in the details of what's right in front of me. By doing all that I tend to lose sight of the need for a better connection and balance with the bigger picture. If I can get used to being more fully aware and live less in my head, I think I could be onto something very interesting indeed.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The love I lost

I've just had one of those days. One of those with complete doubt for myself and my capabilities. I suppose I'm quite glad that I'm not in denial of one of my biggest weaknesses - self doubt at certain times. On the surface, I seem to ooze a certain air of assuredness, bordering on cockiness at times. And yet it's all too easy to expose my Achilles heel - speaking in public. It's not even necessarily 'public speaking', per se - talking in meetings, talking on the phone at work and, of course, presentations. Yes, it's definitely more common than you think but you can't tell me that when my throat is doing 'the strangle' and the palms start to sweat.

Thinking about it, I can think of a variety of times over the years that it's manifested itself - the end of year presentation at university, the knocking knees syndrome at junior school when standing in front of the school, a specific job interview (though I actually got the job). But thinking some more, it's also amazing how many times I've performed amazingly, and ultimately in the context of 'fun' rather than 'work' it often is a performance. That has given me something to chew on - I've done it before so I can do it again and again. I already have the formula, the experiences and the tools and all I have to do is be disciplined enough to apply them. Being more consistently in the right zone, with a dash of relaxation and a bit of self love thrown back in, that should do the trick. A bit more of doing what you know rather than just knowing what to do.

This blog entry is a bit of a stream of consciousness one today but I'm feeling better already. I'm glad I got it off my chest.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Ball of confusion

Back on the World Cup tip, I was having a thought about the ball they're using.

What I find quite interesting is just how many players from the various teams competing seem to really hate the weight/flight/design of the ball. Quite a number of people think it's no good. But not Adidas. No, they say the ball is perfectly fine. The best ball ever - etc etc etc. I can't say that I've ever reached a pinnacle much beyond 'jumpers for goalposts' in the local park, but from the way I see it if the people it’s intended for say the product is rubbish then, well, it must be rubbish, whatever the maker would like to suggest.

Obviously, from a commercial perspective they'd never admit that they got it a bit wrong. But in a world where it's always good to see people accept when they've obviously made a mistake, it's just a shame when they choose to try to convince us otherwise.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

I'm so excited

Every four years Planet Football completes a full rotation on its axis. Yes, it's the football (or soccer, if you will) World Cup! Along with winning an Olympic gold, one of my earliest ever dreams in life was to play international football and win on the biggest stage possible. Well, I guess Usain Bolt has got the next Olympics covered so I guess that leaves me with the footie....

Actually, having taken thousands of turns in life that took me away from being anywhere close to achieving that goal, I look forward to watching from an armchair or in a pub those guys that had always dreamed about playing in the tournament and had now reached the highest of the high in their sport. In sporting terms, I'm way too long in the tooth to even take up competitive tiddly winks but such sporting occasions still touch me at the deepest level. It doesn't matter what sport, really. I've seen 300lbs grown men cry as they show off their Super Bowl rings, having achieved something that their 10,000 plus hours of hard dedication had taken them to. Brilliant.

And as I watch England gloriously win/lose/draw perched as I am in a faraway land, I'll also know that as one of the two gold-standard true global sporting events, peoples and nations everywhere will be crying, cheering and tutting together as a family. I just love it. It's what dreams are made of.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Move on up

Back in the day I tried to be an incredibly responsible individual at university and signed up for a computing course to accompany my main course of study. An ‘Introduction to Computing’ course, to be more precise. Now this was in an era when simply turning on a computer and actually getting it to do anything for you really was a science. I figured back then that this computing lark might be quite a useful tool to have in the future. As it turned out, this was my supplementary course in my first term of my first year at university, and quite frankly Tuesday morning lectures after a very late night at the regular student night at the Black Orchid nightclub really didn't go hand in hand. And because I’d often miss the Tuesdays, I figured the Thursdays weren’t really worth attending either. Somehow I managed to bumble my way through the coursework, thanks to my friend Fiona who for some reason was far more reliable than myself. And, of course, my very generous tutor passed me with 40% - the pass mark was 40% and I took note of the polite inference.

It’s amazing where we are now, some 20-odd years on from those less techno days. One irony in all of this was that had I not done that course I might have done something that I genuinely had an interest in - Art History, for example; something by its nature wouldn’t have changed a whole heap to this day. And looking back, I wish I’d done something like that, something I’d actually liked rather than signed up for something that I thought I ought to do. Okay, I was young and little did I know that everyone would be walking and talking down the street with a computer in their hands all these years down the line. But, intrinsically, the field was never my bag. Hopefully, these days I’m learning to be a bit more true to myself.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Smoke gets in your eyes

I recently finished a part-time Executive Diploma in Corporate Coaching. As you may be able to tell from my blog, I've always had an interest in transformational thinking and personal advancement so I figured that a 5-month course telling me more about life coaching and the ilk would be money well spent. And indeed it was. Since completion I've done a few coaching sessions with friends, trying out some of the techniques that I took on board and ultimately with one eye on doing it as a part-time venture and, eventually, something to do in retirement (which, truth be told, is a long, long way away but still useful skills to have in reserve).

Anyway, one approach that I continue to use on the people I'm coaching, as well as myself in everyday life, is "zooming out". In a nutshell, it's all about getting some perspective on the stuff, the noise, the fog that seems to be grinding you down or you see is your main issue. It's all about taking a step back and getting some perspective, rather than getting into the nitty-gritty detail of the "he said, she said" storyline. By zooming out, I've been able to often get a much clearer picture about what's really going on. You step away from the blame game and the excuses, blow the smoke away what's just obscuring your vision and basically see your reality in a clearer manner.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Three's the magic number

It's amazing how easy it is to get overwhelmed by best intentions. I'm a greater planner, amazing list maker and totally cutting-edge dreamer. Man of execution? Not so good...It's as if I've got way too many brilliant ideas on how to improve the way I make a smoothie or refine a press-up or work my finances out. So I've taken on board the art of simplifying things in life. In order to get a bit more focus, I've just got to cut back on a lot of the great strategies that are just proving to be a distraction. They can just wait.

So what I've been trying out over the last few weeks is the 'Rule of 3'. I think I fell upon the concept in a book or on the internet some time ago. Basically, it's all about keeping things a bit more bite-sized. Rather than write a list that goes on for ever, just target three things that you want to accomplish or at least attack today. I'm sure you can think of a thousand other things that you want to be doing but by at least getting those three things out of the way you know you've been making progress.

And it's certainly been working for me.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Push it

It's amazing how time flies when you're really not doing anything of any worth at all. Earlier today at work I was writing a(nother) list of things that I really, really must sort out and realised that I'd been having these same thoughts only last week. And the week before. Etc. And it's not as if I don't want to get some of these things done but...Well, to be honest I probably don't really want to get some of these things done. But I NEED to get some of these things done.

And so here we are today looking for inspiration for getting on with stuff. A few things did come to mind, though, when I was procrastinating earlier. Firstly, doing, doing and doing again really doesn't necessarily get you anywhere soon. You're always doing something simply to complete it and never really enjoying it. So it's time to do a bit more of this "being" bit that the gurus keeping guiding us towards. Busy for busy sake isn't very healthy. On the same tip, I was thinking that by "being" more I could actually find a way to make the chores and tasks more interesting and entertaining. Put the "fun" into "functional", and all that. And by making the process more like play I can then appreciate the discipline required more as a skill that you develop and augment over time.

Well, this is all very stream of consciousness as you might or might or not have guessed. Bottom line is I know that there are things I want/need to do and I have to push myself in a way that works best for me. Okay, back now to tidying my spare room with some Marvin Gaye to sing along to in the background.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

The look of love

I was watching one of those makeover programmes the other day. You know the type - Joe Bloggs or Jane Doe has a negative self image of themselves which ultimately limits their ability to see their true potential. The episode in question was about a woman that ran a slimming club, having in the past lost something like 80lbs in weight. In front of club members she carried herself well, being the embodiment of what you could achieve if you put your mind to it. And yet she still had deep-rooted body issues. She was regularly putting on a performance for club members when in reality she held herself in such low self esteem.

Suffice to say she managed to be suitably inspired during the programme to re-wire the way she saw the world and felt far more comfortable about who she really was. And it got me thinking. You occasionally hear stories about celebrities that seem to have everything that anyone could desire and yet they are desperately unhappy or lonely or lost. They experience the human condition as much as the next person and yet are elevated by others to be a bit more than the rest of us. But they are just like the rest of us. Yet it's amazing how much we project ourselves into the realms of other peoples' worlds wishing, hoping and all that to be just like them. If only we planted our own feet more firmly on the floor, took in the view, enjoyed the journey and kept ourselves with ourselves.

It really is easier said than done and, yes, it's a sweeping statement but as I've said before: comparison really is the mother of all misery.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Yesterday once more

Well, my little dalliance in ‘Facebook stalking’ (it’s not actually stalking but you know what I mean) opened a small can of worms and got me thinking about other girlfriends from the past. For some reason I started thinking about Rachel. She seemed to tick so many boxes – beauty, simply lovely deep down, very coincidentally went to school with my best female friend and loved some of the obscure left-field grooves that I was into at the time. And if that wasn’t enough she also taught at my old school (after I’d left, of course). We looked like a lovely twosome, if I do say so myself. Hot to trot. Talk about a match made in heaven. And yet it wasn’t quite.

At the time, it didn’t work for her and she pulled the plug. And in hindsight I’m glad she saw it in good time. We were kind of like your fake Louis Vuitton purse - it seemed great from a distance but up close and personal you could see it wasn’t real and only served a purpose. Life throws up one or two of those type of situations from time to time, in various guises. Like those: “would we really be friends if we weren’t homesick and thousands of miles away from home?” or “is this really me or am I just doing this because everyone else is or thinks I should be?” Sometimes it’s unclear but sometimes, deep down, you just know. You know what is really you. As for Rachel, she was a lovely girl. Shame she’s not on Facebook…

Monday, 12 April 2010


Used in the right way, Facebook is a brilliant innovation. For me, it’s a way of staying in contact with friends and family living on distant shores without the need of having to put pen to paper (though I must confess there's something special about receiving a handwritten letter, rare as they are now). It’s a great way of staying connected and having a window into friends' worlds and vice versa.

And then, of course, there’s the other side. I found myself indulging in something I didn’t really think I was about – Facebook stalking. Snooping is one thing but going a little deeper is something else. Okay, for some context: it was a boring Sunday night, there was nothing decent on TV so I clicked onto Facebook to skim through a few friends’ pages. While browsing through one friend’s profile, I fell upon a name from the past that had commented on his page. It wasn’t so much the name itself but the name I associated with the name. The comment was basically from a woman called Jo, a friend of an ex-girlfriend of mine. I hadn’t seen or heard from this ex since the heady days of the mid-90s. But having seen Jo's comment I thought “to hell with it” and started digging.

Before long I found myself scanning through some of Jo’s photos (she had kindly not limited access to her pictures which enabled random strangers like myself to view them). It did feel kind of creepy snooping in this way - I hadn’t been invited as a “friend”, Jo probably wouldn’t even remember me from Adam, I didn't even know whether they were friends and, heaven forbid, what would she think if she found out. But there I was looking through her photos, her family events and her memories in search of something vague on a distant ex of mine. And without having to dig through too many holiday pics and bithday parties photos, et voila - there she was. The first picture of the ex I discovered her new surname. The second, her new baby.

Yes, it was a little bizarre. But what surprised me most was my general reaction. Okay, the memories started streaming back about a female that I had fallen head over heels for during a fairly fleeting but intense few months. I had thought a number of times over the years about where she was now, what she was doing with her life and what I would say if we ever bumped into each other. And now 21st century technology had given me a window in. But looking at the pictures was an eye opener. She looked exactly the same now as she did back then. Still cute, still elfin, still with that cheeky glint in her eyes. But, strangely, I couldn’t actually recognise her. Or, more is the point, I couldn’t recognise myself. I couldn't recognise or connect with the feelings of the past. There was no skip of a heart beat, no long deep breaths, no pining. It was just a picture of a pretty girl that I once knew. And I wish her the best. I'm glad I found the pictures. Thanks Facebook...

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

That's what friends are for

It's odd how our lives evolve. One minute you're a gangly teen running headless around a rugby pitch, freezing your extremities off in shorts big enough to fit your dad (and in the knowledge that you're meant to grow into them), and the next minute your sitting in a warm rugby stadium with two of your old team mates decades later many pounds, miles and realities away from those halycon days in south London. And so it was that three great school friends living on three different continents met up at the world famous sporting event, the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens tournament. The event (a seven-man version of the sport) is the biggest of its kind in the world - a festival of noise, colour, partying, the coming together of cultures and, of course, top-class rugby over a weekend. I would heartily recommend the occasion, though clearly it suits a certain disposition.

I'd been to the event a number of times before and it's a great occasion for making new friends, some fleeting, some a bit more lasting. But this time around it was about friendships that had stood the test of time and distance. We have all moved on a fair bit in our lives and loves. And wherever any of us is the world, there's at least the knowledge that there's a certain connection still going strong out there. So here's to friendship! And it was great to see that I was wearing better than they were, which is always nice....

Thursday, 18 March 2010

I dream a dream

I went to dinner a couple of nights ago with a friend of mine, doing our periodic catching up session. We always have a decent chat about life and she’s always an interested and interesting individual – very bright, quite driven and always seems to know where’s she’s at. For all my moments of insight, I can be a bit flaky or lacking in confidence to push on, so it’s always nice to hear her version of the world. The interesting situation this time, however, was that my friend had recently had a few realisations. She left a job she really liked a few years back as she felt that she should be going further and faster up the ladder. So she took time out to do an MBA. Following this she managed to find her perfect job working for a development agency. On top of that she met and fell in love with a guy that ticked all the right boxes.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t always march in a straight line. She told me that her perfect job had sadly not lived up to expectations. Or to put it another way, she absolutely hated it - the hours were awful, the bureaucracy was excessive, the business focus was all out of kilter, the people were a complete waste of time. At the same time as this disillusionment with work, her boyfriend of four years decided that he didn’t feel it was working for him – he was a bit younger than her, he was still finding his feet and they were in different places. You know the story.

She's had time to adjust to the new reality – dreams can come true but they don’t always turn out the way you expect. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to dream. It just means we have to adapt sometimes. Time for Plan B.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Somewhere over the rainbow

I've been doing this blog thing for a while now and it only just came to me that I haven't got into the habit of putting on photos with my comments. Admittedly, some of it was down to pure techno-ignorance. Something so simple was something so beyond me. Anyway, it was time for a bit of trial and error. So I thought today, "Why not give it a go?". So here we are. And there's something I love about rainbows and that feeling of pureness in the air and regeneration. After the storm comes the rainbow to say that everything's okay again. I like that.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Trouble sleeping

So a week on from my "21 days to become absolutely fabulous" and I've kind of hit a few bumps in the road. I had a friend's surprise birthday party on Saturday night, which was pretty good only it went a bit too into Sunday morning for it to have been adding much value. I rolled into bed at goodness knows what hour knowing that my Sunday night sleep would also be a write off. Sure enough, after a full day of the living dead I couldn't get to sleep that evening. At one point I thought about one of those "take the edge off" night caps to help me doze - or to extend my weekend, I wasn't entirely sure. But I thought better of it, what with it giving the impression of a more deep-rooted alcohol dependency issue...

Anyway, having had a few crazy dreams and random bouts of night angst ("damn, I didn't send that email on Friday", type of nonsense), I woke ready to crawl back into bed for another eight hours. Suffice to say today wasn't the greatest work day for me, and had it not been for a presentation I had to prepare for tomorrow, my duvet would have got its wish. So what did the whole thing teach me? Stuff happens basically. Yes, I could show more discipline along the way but at the same time I know that there are some days I'm off the charts with transformational momentum. So I'm not going to beat myself up about it. I trust myself enough to know that I'll have some incredible moments over the next few weeks. Anyway, I've another couple of parties this Saturday....

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

All I wanna do

Just like the next man or woman, I have down days. I’ve read books on positive thinking, been on the seminars and would have bought the T-shirt if I thought it would have done some good. But human nature still does tend to kick in and the last few days have been a bit rocky. It hasn’t been anything major, simply a crisis of confidence - lack of confidence in my ability to do my work to the proper level, lack of confidence in my goal setting ability and motivations, and just one of those overall general funks, really.

Since November I’ve been doing a part-time Life Coaching/Executive Coaching diploma – twice a week and 120 hours in total, plus four assignments. Sitting through yesterday’s class I found a bit of inspiration in a theory, and it is only a theory, that lasting change can be implemented over 21 days of continuous application of a new habit. I don’t know the science of it all and it was only a passing comment that wasn’t dwelled on, to be fair, but I decided that today I would put in place a 21-day process to elevate myself above where I was yesterday. Stirring stuff and a little big in many ways. Anyway, I started brainstorming today as to what to be thinking and doing, and basically how to “be”. A lot of the usual concepts came to mind and I gave them a nodding acknowledgement. But what really energised me, and actually surprised me, was my spin on the “Just Do It” principle. I simply noted down “F*** It” - pretty crude in a prosaic kind of way. But for me it connected with my “no more pussyfooting around” mindset – grab the bull by the horns, so to speak, and a spin on the great universal question: “so what?” (i.e. stop worrying, as everything is just small stuff). And I’m very much of the opinion whatever works, works. Hopefully, it’ll kick start and kick arse these 21 days – I’ll let you know….

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Lucky Star

I was chatting in the office to a woman that sits right behind me about day-to-day stuff and she mentioned that she’d seen on the news testimonies relating to the Toyota acceleration pedal problem. I must confess I’ve been going through a “low news” phase of effectively avoiding most television news programmes and less in the way of the printed word, simply because there’s a lot of unnecessary noise that comes with it all. Still, I was very much aware of this hot topic though missed the testimonies in question. My work colleague told me how she had been touched by the story of a woman who had been driving along when the car wouldn’t stop accelerating. The lady in question thought she was going to die and phoned her husband, aware that he was helpless to do anything but just wanted to hear his voice just one last time. Thankfully, she survived to tell the tale but it was one of those wake up calls on the fleetingness of life.

In the course of our conversation, we then progressed onto 9/11, and specifically flight United Airlines Flight 93, the plane that was so bravely, but tragically, diverted by the passengers to avert a full-blown disaster. The thought of those final phone calls made to loved ones in the knowledge that they weren't coming back are still so haunting. But the added twist in our chat was that my colleague was not only visiting Washington DC for the very first time that week, but as she put it: “I still have the entry pass: ‘8.30 tour of the White House’” Had things turned out differently with United 93, she may not have been around to tell the tale. She said it has put an entirely new slant on her life and she keeps the entry pass as a reminder – to remember what’s important in life and what’s not. Hopefully, we don’t have to experience such wake-up calls before we live the life we want to live.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

One night in Bangkok

Bangkok does still have a reputation for the seedy, the salacious, the sinful. And to be honest, that’s all there if you’re looking for it. But at the same time if you are looking for a different type of experience it’s actually quite a cool place. Great cheap shopping, fantastic food and some top-notch bars. And it was at one of these bars on a recent trip I was fortunate enough to have there, that I got thinking.

We found ourselves at a bar-restaurant called Vertigo, on the roof of the plush Banyan Tree hotel and sixty one floors up. On a clear night like we had the view is breathtaking – a sea of lights and silhouetted buildings as far as the eye can see in every direction. The sky just felt huge and so all around us. And as we sat and took in a late night drink, I couldn’t stop thinking about how small everything was down there. Loads of lives living behind all those lights yet from where we were sitting it all seemed so distant and inconsequential. Being able to take a step back from it all made all the noise in my little head seem so small in the bigger scheme of things. It’s so easy to get lost in the fog of what is immediate and just around us and fail to fully appreciate a grander perspective. So if you ever get the chance to go to Bangkok, check out Vertigo for another view on life.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

All you need is love

It’s that time of the year again when husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, “lovers”, prospects and the hopeful get excited about that very special day. Ok, maybe it’s not all a ‘walking into the sunset Hollywood ending’ moment, but I’d like to think that beneath all the commercialism and ‘pressure to do what’s right’, people are at least thinking a bit more about that certain someone. Who knows, you may have read my blog a year ago and had an entirely different someone that time round. It doesn’t matter as far as I’m concerned. As long as the spirit of giving is there, that’s cool. We’re going to be lounging around a swimming pool in Bangkok, as one does, sipping all sorts of colourful fruit juices laced with a kick. It kind of works for me… So, spread a little love I say and put a smile on someone’s face.

And as it’s also Chinese New Year, Xin Nian Hao / Kung Hei Fat Choi/ 恭賀發財

After all, what the world needs now is love sweet love, as I like to say.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Money’s too tight to mention

There's one thing that I'm really trying to get to grips with - money. It's not money, per se, as I have enough to eat, sleep and make merry, but I seem to find myself beating myself up over nothing at times. A case in point - I have a pretty tatty and rubbish mobile phone and have been thinking quite a lot about getting an iPhone or some other new-fangled smartphone. I can afford it and quite like the look of those kind of things. But I just can't quite dig into my pockets.

Without wanting to over-analyse the basis of this, I was brought up to be very aware of how I spent money. We didn't have much and knew how to make money stretch so to speak. I guess I developed a sense of the importance of value. To be fair, I'm quite good with money - I don't get enticed into spending by a nice window display or a bad mood. I tend to know how much I've got in the bank, where I can get discounts and when I should be investing. But I still don't think my relationship with money is as healthy as it could be. That's because I think I'm limited by fear. Fear that I'll need the money one day, perhaps. I can almost feel the caution overwhelming me everytime I go into a mobile phone shop. Very strange.

And being limited in such a way I kind of feel I'm symbolically doing the same for life generally. I don't have any great urge to splash incessantly, and I guess I'm reasonably generous towards others. Maybe I need to get it into my head that I can deserve some of the nicer things and damn the cost. I need to be a little more trusting that I'm actually pretty decent with money and always will be. I can't let this limit the need to upgrade things generally in life. Food for thought.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


I had one of those breakthrough moments today. I've been doing Wing Chun kung fu for about 18 months now and I go through moments of trying hard to really get it right. But, let's face it, Jackie Chan won't be losing any sleep over my performances. But today I stopped forcing myself to do things in a way that I felt I was meant to do things and just relaxed into it. Okay, the instructors have been telling me for months and months to just chill a bit more but today I actually couldn't be bothered to force things. And, voila, things felt so much easier. The focus was just on relaxing. That's a message for many things in life for me. I really must do what I'm told more often.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

My favourite things

Once in while I’m so in the zone it just feels bizarre. I see things I’m “meant” to see, hear things “intended” for me and just basically find all sorts of inspirations. And so it was today that I was suddenly thrown into this vortex. I guess that in recent weeks I’ve been trying to ask myself some of the powerful questions that the gurus suggest you should be asking yourself on a daily basis: “What’s my unique gift to the world?” or “What makes me happy”. Well, a few minutes of thinking about it earlier in the day and there I was in the gym, trying out the rowing machine, when out jumped the word “goal” ahead of me. I could see it written on a running machine to denote how much time had been used or calories burned. I just focused on the word.

And I don’t recall what music had been on my iPod prior to all of this but up popped the song “My Favourite Things”. It was a version of the song by Al Jarreau (it’s safe to say I don’t have much Julie Andrews in my collection) and all of a sudden I felt more aligned. Yes, it could all have been something about nothing and might not last long but at least for a little while things felt different. I simply remembered my favourite things then I didn’t feel so bad…

Monday, 25 January 2010


I always love reading inspirational writing. It gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling that just seems to come from nowhere. Let’s face it, they’re just words. No one has come up to me and given me a big old hug, handed me a winning lottery ticket or promised me that I wouldn’t age a single day from hereon in. But words of inspirational always add a certain something.

Sometimes they help me reframe my little old world into seeing it as a big and wonderful abundant universe. Sometimes they help me remember the great memories I had from another, more carefree time. I could go on. Bottom line is, for me, words of inspiration add value rather than subtract.

But then what? You’ve had the non-saccharine sugar rush and you’re flying higher than a kite. But what happens next? For me – and it won’t be the same for everyone – for the sensation to last a little longer I need to act upon it. I don't have to do anything big. It doesn’t necessarily need to be relevant to what I’ve just read. It just needs to be something that reinforces my mood. Anything that kind of reflects some gratitude for what I've just read really. And today having fallen upon some wonderful insights from Jim Rohn I was inspired to just get down some thoughts of my own. And here we are - actions speaking louder than words and all that.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Glad that I live am I

You know those days when you can't get a song out of your head you'd heard earlier on the radio. Every time you get a bit of silence you just keep on getting that catchy chorus jingling between your ears.

Well, imagine the song that keeps on playing isn't one you've just heard but is in fact one you can safely say you haven't heard since you were about nine or ten years old. That kind of happened to me last week. I don't know where it came from or why it did but I recalled a ditty we used to sing in school assembly: "Glad That I Live Am I".

I'm guessing I was having one of those really good days, where everything felt right with the world. We all have them, probably not often enough. But we all have them. And so it was the song just popped into my head and the words - that hadn't left me after all these years - seemed to make so much sense to me. It was a good day:

Glad that I live am I,
That the sky is blue.
Glad for the country lanes
And the fall of dew.

After the sun the rain,
After the rain the sun,
This is the way of life,
Til the work be done.

All that we need to do,
Be we low or high,
Is to see that we grow
Nearer the sky.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

What the world needs now

Well, there we have it. One whole year of blogging. It was only last January after months and months of umming and ahhing that I finally got round to putting something down. And what a fun experience it's been as well! Even writing it down and reading back months later is a learning experience for me. It's kind of like looking back at a thoughtful diary without the moany and stressy stuff.

Okay, I kind of messed up on the blog address and blog name - basically I was determined to have a Burt Bacharach moment but ended up using two song titles rather than a more sensible one title. Hence it juggles "What the world needs now..." and "Always something there to remind me" - which quite frankly are both cool ways at trying to look at life a bit differently.

So we're in 2010 now and I'm keen to keep evolving this page in the same vein and with the same spirit as it was originally intended - keeping the positive vibe. For those that have been reading it on occasion, many, many thanks and hopefully once in a while you've found something to make you stop and pause.

Anyway, off we go towards the next anniversary...