If You Can Buy It…It Isn’t Real

It Isn't Real

I know the literal-minded are going to think this is a fallacy. They’ll say I bought my house. It’s real. I bought my car. Seems real to me. Some people might even have bought their husband or wife. They’ll argue that companionship is real too.

The real thing I am writing about is more than that.

Oh you can buy a lot of things with money. Mostly material things. You can even buy love, or the illusion of it. They might seem real.

You can touch them, feel them, see them. But the thing that is truly real can’t be seen with the naked eye. Can’t be touched with your hands. It can be felt. But only felt from within.

For the record this is not an anti-wealth post. There is no denying the importance of money. We live in an economic world after all. If anything I encourage you to go out and amass as much wealth as your heart desires. Enjoy all the things associated with that.

Just don’t delude yourself into thinking that it will make you happy. It might temporarily. And it will certainly make some aspects of your life easier. There is no denying that. But one thing you can’t deny is that it will not satisfy your heart, your sense of being or purpose, your feeling of belonging, of who you are.

You might argue that money has helped pay for your education. That the qualifications you have because of that are real. Everyone recognises them as so. But that money only paid for the course you took that provided you with the information. It paid for the teachers, the examinations.

The learning, the growth. That came from within yourself. You can’t buy the information in your head, the skills you have learned. Money doesn’t put it there. You do.

Nothing of any real significance can be bought, with the exception of food and water. Not the really important things in life anyway. They have to be earned. Love, respect, a feeling of self-worthiness. These things don’t just come to you because you can throw money at them.

They have to be built. They take hard work, effort and time. There is no instant replacement for this. No amount of monetary wealth will help you get it. Or keep it.

You might be able to buy that illusion of love for an hour or two, maybe even a few years. You might have people around you that will fake that respect because of your wealth. Like the waiter at your table in a restaurant. Like an employee on your payroll.

Everything of real importance comes from within yourself. The love you have in your life? That has come from the love you have given out. The effort you put into helping it grow. The sacrifices you have made for others. Your family, friends and loved ones.

The respect you have? That’s from the respect you have shown to others. That has been cultivated by your attitude to people in the world. Respect can be commanded, not demanded. Respect that is demanded is only given through fear.

And all those nice things you have. Those things you’ve bought. Are they going to snuggle up to you on the sofa? Are they going to fill your heart with the warmth of love? Are they going to ask you for valued advise? Are they really going to give you true satisfaction?

The beauty of the ‘real’ things is that they are available to everyone. You, me, anyone who is alive. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you have in material worth. How big or small your house is. How much money you have in your bank account. You can’t buy them.

They don’t even cost money. The only price you might have to pay is some self-sacrifice. A little time. A little effort. A little consideration. Be selfless instead of selfish.

And the rewards those ‘real’ things give you are unmeasurable and potentially timeless. Their value is of the greatest worth. A worth that can’t be bought. A worth that is more ‘real’ than anything.

Find Your Thing

Find Your Thing

Everybody has a ‘thing’. That special something they are good at. That they enjoy doing. That makes them feel satisfied and happy.

Some people are fortunate to have made a career out of their ‘thing’. Are able to earn money from it. At the very least, cover their living costs, at best, bathe in financial luxury.

I say these people are fortunate. I’m not implying lucky. They most definitely have had to work very hard to be able to utilize their ‘thing’ to make it economically viable. To turn it from maybe a hobby into something more successful.

I’m saying they are fortunate to have been able to find a way of making their ‘thing’ work for them. I would even guess that they received some sort of support in pursuit of their ‘thing’. Not all of them. But at least some.

That support, especially in their early stages, can be invaluable.

I guess what I am trying to get it here is that lack of support for most. Especially the younger people, the ones in their teens and 20’s. The time when that support matters most. The time that support could make all the difference. Especially to their future happiness.

When I was growing up the idea was you went to school, got a steady job after, stayed there the rest of your life, and were meant to be happy with that. There was this belief that a ‘secure’ job was the be all and end all. That was the tradition.

Not much has changed now. I would imagine the only difference now is you are advised to go to school, then university, then get a steady job after that. That’s the new tradition. Same as before but with a few extra years schooling, and much more debt.

To me that is a very narrow path. A very constricting path. A path to unhappiness that many young people are being almost pressured to walk. The same people who, when they reach the ages of their 30’s or 40’s, find themselves desperately struggling with the life they have built for themselves.

I understand that path. It’s the one most young adults are strongly advised to take by their peers. Parents, teachers, society in general. That path works for some. Maybe they are lucky that their ‘thing’ actually falls into the nice learning brackets provided by standard education.

That path doesn’t work for everybody. The worst of it is that if you do not walk that path, especially as a young school leaver, you are viewed as a failure. Destined to be a minimum wager. To fill some sort of menial job where you are given very little respect. That sort of early damage can have a long-term effect.

Look, I am not putting people in those positions down here. I worked those types of jobs for the majority of my life. I’m not that far off the wage those jobs offer myself and having a job is better than not having a job.

But if you are working those type of jobs be truthful, at least to yourself, about why you are there. I know I was there because I didn’t put enough effort into doing something about it. It was easy. The path of least resistance. Because I had given up on my ‘thing’.

I understand that anyone who is working that type of job may be doing the best they can do. That’s ok. That might be the ‘thing’ they are good at. We all have different roles to play in life after all.

But if you are there and you know you could do better. That’s all on you. You can’t blame the reasons you had before, the reasons that put you there, forever. If you are living you always have a chance to do something about it.

The point I am trying to make, especially to those still in their development stage. Don’t worry if the traditional route isn’t working out for you. Don’t worry even if you ‘fail’ at the standardised education. Don’t let that define who you are. What your life will be.

You know you have a ‘thing’. You know there is an impulse within you to follow a certain path. Build your life a certain way. Why not follow that?

It’s probably being smothered by everyone else’s idea of what you should be doing. You’re probably being misdirected by those around you. Those closest to you. Those whose opinions matter to you. And they are probably doing it with the best of intentions. They want you to be safe and happy. They don’t want to see you take what they perceive as risk with your future.

Bare in mind though that they have been unknowingly programmed into accepting the traditional route as the only route. As I’ve mentioned that route does work, for some. Not all.

The best advise I would give. That I give and will continue to give to my son. That all people should be giving. Especially the people of influence. Parents, teachers, leaders.

Find your ‘thing’. Work hard at it. Then work harder. Don’t give up on what you love. Keep pushing, be unrelenting. Persist long after anyone else will have given up. There will probably be people who have already made a success of the same or similar ‘thing’. Look at their example. See what it takes for you to get there too.

If your ‘thing’ is really unique. That’s almost better. You have something special to give. Something different to add to the world. For example, when I was growing up there was a guy I remember from tv. His name was Stevie Starr ‘The Regurgitator’. It was the first time I ever saw someone swallowing live goldfish and then spitting them out again, still alive! That man has toured internationally, featured on many television shows all around the world, has made a successful career out of regurgitating various items likes coins or billiard balls.

Can you imagine what opposition he must have received in wanting to pursue his ‘thing’? What his school career advisor must have said to him? What everyone must have thought?

There is a power to be found in your ‘thing’. It can lead to a life that you’ve always wanted. Find it. Live it. There you will find your best chance at happiness, at fulfillment. There lies your best hope at finding some satisfaction with life.

Don’t worry if people even find that ‘thing’ strange or unusual. It’s your ‘thing’. And the thing about your ‘thing’. It’s the best ‘thing’ for you. Just ask Stevie.

The Beauty At Your Front Door

Beauty At Your Front Door

I’m posting this video for two reasons. Firstly, it was because a follower of mine had mentioned they would love to see Northern Ireland sometime. (I really don’t like the word ‘follower’ by the way. It’s too impersonal. Anyone who likes what I write is not a follower to me. They are a welcome, thinking, interactive, online friend! But I guess that isn’t as snappy a term 🙂 )

The second reason is one for us all. It’s about appreciating the beauty at your front door. The joy that is always within your reach. It’s about not taking for granted the things that others possibly don’t even have.

With that said here is a little panoramic of the drive I take to work. It’s from the East coast, along the foothills of the Mourne Mountains. I hope you enjoy the sight as much as I do.

Much love to you all, Chris.

When To Care…Or Not?

When To Care...Or Not

Don’t care what other people think! That is a statement I’m sure we’ve heard or been told at some point in our lives. It’s even a statement I have encountered quite often in a lot of personal development books I have listened to. It is easy to say and hard to do.

Thing is, I don’t necessarily think that is true. I also don’t think it is entirely possible. If you are human, and have a heart, you will care at some time or other.

I would assume that the people saying that statement also care. At least a little. If it’s a statement you read or heard in a very popular book by a popular author do you not think they would care if no one had bought that book? If you are spending all that time, and effort, into creating something, something that obviously means a lot to you, surely you have to care how it is received to a certain degree.

Of course it is true that generally people might not care about what you do as we don’t think outside ourselves most of the time. We are inherently selfish after all. We filter everything through our own thoughts.

I don’t think it is a case of not caring what other people think. I think it is more a case of knowing when to care and when not to. Even this is hard to do.

Most of us would care about what a family member or loved one thinks of the thing we are doing, the way we behave, the way we live our life. If they disagree with us, disagree with what we are doing, even and especially when it is something close to our hearts, we are going to care. We might fight back against their idea, or belief. We might disagree with what they think. But we still care. We might even take it as a personal attack. An insult to the person we are.

However, if it is just some random stranger, an acquaintance, a work colleague, and they are saying how that thing you like doing is a waste of time. Like telling an artist their artwork is terrible, or a poet that their poems are pathetic. Then it is easier not to care. We can rationalise that away. We could tell ourselves that they don’t know what they are talking about. That it’s not like they are experts in that field. That they only have an uneducated opinion which could be based on a number of things, possibly jealousy.

I guess how much we care depends on the nature of our relationship with that person. As I said it’s easier not to care about what a stranger thinks or says but not so easy when it is someone close to us. It’s the people closest to us that can hurt us the most after all.

Deciding when to care or not is a difficult thing to do. There is certainly freedom if you can reach that state of mind where you truly don’t care. The great Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu is even quoted as saying: “Care what other people think and you will always be their prisoner”.

But then we have the metaphysical English poet John Donne with his infamous “no man is an island” quote which implies that despite our inherent selfishness and perspective we are still a part of a bigger whole, a society, a world. Surly to be a part of that world you have to care at some time or other. If no one really cared anarchy and destruction would rule.

People like to pretend they don’t care. They might even say it. I’ve said it myself at times. But is that true? If you’ve ever said it did you not reflect on that moment later? The moment that led to those words coming out of your mouth. In truth, I know I did. In reality, what I said wasn’t always true.

I don’t think it’s as clear-cut as not caring what other people think. I think we have to choose our cares wisely. Choose when to care and when not to. Choose when caring or not will work against us or be in our own best interests. There is no ‘one size fits all’ answer or convenient quotable soundbite. Only you can know which is best for you and when.

Face It…Before It Faces You.(Updated)

Face It...Before It Faces You

It’s safe to assume we’ve all got something on our minds that we have to deal with. It could be something life-changing or something fairly innocuous but just enough to be bugging us. If you have that something right now you’ll know what I am writing about. It’s the thing you where you would much rather do something else, much rather put off, than actually face it.

The thing is, it is probably taking up quite a bit of your thoughts, your time, causing you a certain level of anxiety, even fear. You’ve probably even been running through a variety of different scenarios in regards to how that issue will go when confronted. What the possible outcomes will be.

At best, the result could be what you really wish for. At worst, it could be the type of situation where there is no good result. Just a result with varying levels of heartbreak or hurt. With more worry and anxiety added to the mix.

We always hear about people talking about procrastination. The Cambridge dictionary says that to procrastinate is ‘to keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring’. But usually people are applying that to a particular task, like work that has to be done, something physical.

Less often is it applied to a difficult conversation that must be had. A conversation that isn’t work related but something personal. It may even be a conversation you just have to have with yourself. Something which could affect your life in ways you may not necessarily welcome.

It might just be something that is niggling at the back of your mind. Something that just doesn’t feel quite right. Something that doesn’t really have a big effect on your life just yet. But it’s there. You know it.

You just might not want to admit it. Might not want to face it. You might even rationalise that it is such a small thing that if it becomes vocalised it could turn into something much larger and that is something you feel you really don’t want.

The problem is if you have any such decisions, or conversations, looming ahead of you and you haven’t done anything about them, you will be in constant fear of them. They will always be on your mind. The bigger the problem or imagined consequence the less you might actually want to face it. The bigger the fear you will carry because of it. Some people carry those fears for days, weeks, even years.

We’ve all been in a position where we have had to face a situation like this at some time or another. A situation where we have had a build up to making a decision. We’ve probably thought about it for quite a while, prepared for all the possible outcomes, prepared all those erudite and eloquent responses in our heads, only to find that when the time comes the actual outcome is nothing like we imagined. Things are said we weren’t expecting. The reaction not what we believed would happen.

Just to be clear. I am writing this as someone who is experiencing all this right now. I have something I need to face. I think I have thought of all the possible outcomes. Really, I don’t know what to expect. I’ve prepared for the worst. I am hoping for the best.

This has only come about after a dream I had where the ‘worst’, and possibly the truest, outcome was repeatedly thrust in my face. I don’t know if it was my subconscious mind trying to get me to face up to my reality. A reality I am having difficulty with. A reality I am not too clear on either. It’s hard to tell with dreams.

A combination of this and a blog post and comment I read from the blogger in question the following morning made my mind up for me. And inspired me with this post. (Thanks Suki! https://baffledmum.com/ )

Thing is, that day I had 2 opportunities to face my difficulty. And I still didn’t. As I’m writing this now I’m telling myself today is the day. That opportunity is coming around again. I cannot delay any longer. I must have courage. I need the truth. Only through the truth can I see where I stand. Only through the truth can I see the road I must be on. Only through the truth. No matter what that truth may be.

Does it not make sense? Why wait for the problem to come to you? Why not face it before it faces you? At least then you will be in the position of being on surer ground. It might not be the ground you want to stand on. But at least it will be solid. It will be your ground. Not someone elses. You’ll be instigating not just receiving.

You won’t feel like the boxer on the ropes trying desperately to defend against the onslaught. You’ll be standing tall, with your guard up. Standing face on. Ready for the challenge!

P.s. The opportunity didn’t come around as hoped today. It might later. All I know is the next time it does it will be faced. That’s the only way forward.

Update: So I got the chance. The opportunity I was waiting for. It still took me 2 consecutive cups of tea before I could muster the courage to say what I needed to.

At the moment I’m finding it difficult to pick the right words. The conversation is over. In actual fact it is not just the conversation that is over. It’s a chapter in my life. It’s finished, done.

I am quite sad about that. I’m not entirely surprised. It was half what I expected. Let’s just say my subconscious mind was right. There is a reality I now know for sure I have to deal with. I’m not really ok with that. But that’s for me to live with. To get over.

It’s not all bad though. I surprised myself with a new sense of composure. Normally when I am dealing with something emotional, especially something life-changing, I can get very flustered, annoyed, angry. Not this time. I put into practice the things I have learned. I was calm, collected. I was facing this on the terms I imposed upon myself. Not someone elses.

I also now know where a line has been firmly drawn. I know where and where not my future thoughts shall dwell. Yes, there is a sadness. Yes, I secretly hoped it wouldn’t turn out the way it did. Oh how I hoped.

At least now I can move forward, move on. My heavy heart will lighten. A new chapter will be written. My story isn’t over yet.

 

 

Liebster Award Nomination

 

I am happy and humbled to have been nominated for this award by the lovely Huguette Antoun. Huguetta My Emotional Fingerprint https://huguetta.wordpress.com .

Huguette is a blogger who writes from the heart. Her passion is easily felt through her words and her posts are always interesting and stimulating. They command your attention and you think about them long after you are finished reading. Absolutely wonderful stuff!

Thank you Huguette and much love and respect to you!

 

What is the Liebster Prize?

The Liebster Prize is an award that exists only on the Internet and is awarded to bloggers by other bloggers. The first case of the award goes back to 2011. Liebster in German means sweet, kind, dear, charming, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome. It really is an excellent way to meet other bloggers and gain more visibility in the community.

There are some simple rules to follow:
Add a link to the Official Liebster Award page in your blog post the Global aussie:
https://theglobalaussie.com

Rules:

  • Thank the blogger that nominated you and give a link to their site.
  • Do a post to show your award. Answer the questions given to you.
  • Nominate 5 bloggers or more.
  • Create more questions for your nominees to answer.
  • Let each nominee know you’ve nominated them and give a link to your post

Here are Huguette’s questions and my answers to them:

Can you recall a moment that took your breath away? Describe it.

There is only one that comes to mind immediately. The first moment I held my son after a long and difficult birth. It was both wonderful and frightening. I don’t know who was crying most. Him or I.

Would you marry a person from a different religion?

I already have! Here in Northern Ireland there is a traditional ‘divide’ between two particular Christian faiths. Catholics and Protestants. Although I am not a practicing believer I was raised Catholic. My then wife was Protestant. Thankfully neither of our families were concerned about the perceived ‘divide’. As for my wife and I then being in love was greater than any faith.

What makes you smile instantly?

Oh gees. I’m going to sound really soft here but it’s when I hear my boy giving a hearty, truthful laugh. Knowing he is happy in that moment puts the biggest smile on my face 🙂

You have a gun and murder is not a crime at all, whom would you kill?

Regardless of it not being a crime I couldn’t take another life. However, if I had to kill someone, it wouldn’t just be one. Any and all gun manufacturers. Let them reap what they sow.

You woke up and you’re 5 years old again but you remember your entire life you already lived, how would you act? What would you change?

First off, I would actually be a bit depressed. I would feel so sad about the life I was living and now have to miss. It hasn’t all been good, or easy, but I am pretty happy with where I am now, the people I have in my life, and the direction it is taking. One thing I would change would be to never to start smoking marijuana.

What’s your best quality and worst trait?   

I would say my best quality is I am very empathetic. I can’t stand seeing people hurting or suffering. If I could wave a magic wand to take that away from people I would.

Oh my worst trait…I am quite fiery. If I feel wronged or put upon I will let that person know and may be quite vicious verbally in doing so. Even though I’m quite small (5’5″) I have a big mouth!

 

My questions for the following nominees are:

1 If you had no electricity and 24 hours free time how would you spend it?

2 You have the choice of knowing when you are going to die. Do you find out? or not? Why?

3 If you could change one thing about the world what would you choose?

4 What is your favourite thing to do?

5 Movies, music or books. You can only have one of these for the rest of your life. Which one would you pick and why?

My nominees are:

https://ididnthavemyglasseson.com

https://alifelesslivedblog.wordpress.com

https://photopaulm.com

https://motivatingdaily.com

https://bonestobulk.wordpress.com

 

There are plenty more who deserve to be nominated and some who already have been. You all are great!

Much love to you all!

 

 

 

 

The Only Person You Can Change

The Only Person You Can Change

I’m sure we’ve all had someone in our lives whose attitude or actions made us frustrated or annoyed, even angry. It could have been a family member, a loved one, a friend. In fact, it could have been anyone. Possibly even someone you only met once.

They were probably doing or saying something you just couldn’t understand. Possibly even something destructive and not just to themselves. Maybe you couldn’t fathom how someone with an apparently logical and reasonable human mind could seem to rationalise their contradictory attitude or actions. How they could be so blinkered to reality.

It’s easier understood for someone with an addiction. Like an alcoholic for example. They can be keenly aware of the issue they have but that impulse, that drive to drink, seems to override that common sensibility they have where they know what they are doing is harmful, even destructive, not just to them but those around them also, but they just can’t control themselves when it matters the most.

When it is a belief system you might be challenging. That’s something else entirely. Especially if it is a belief that has been ingrained since childhood. Where the person has basically been indoctrinated into thinking a certain way. Firstly by their parents, then their friends, then the society in which they live. I think there is no hope of changing that.

You see whilst it is possible to educate, encourage, influence, even inspire someone. It is impossible to change them. You cannot change the way a person thinks with words or actions. You cannot change a person at all. Change can only come from one place and that’s from within that person.

I had a heated debate with someone this week. I allowed myself to get frustrated at the fact they were completely unwavering in what they believed. Even when presented with a logical argument. It was like the thought that argument presented wasn’t even considered. Like they had their view on the matter and that was that. End of story. The shutters were closed. Elvis hadn’t just left the building. He was on another planet.

In my head I went off on a rant about how that is one of the problems with this world. How people have the ability to completely shut out anything that might make them question who they are, what their belief means to them, what actions they take, and how it affects the people around them.

Then I remembered my soon-to-be ex-wife. All the times she wanted me to change certain aspects of myself. All the times I simply ignored her. Even when I knew she was right. Coincidently all the things I have since changed about myself. By myself.

It made me realise that even though someone might be trying to explain something to us which in our own best interest, to encourage a change, a change for good, that influence is not necessarily going to make it happen.

Change can only come from within despite any efforts you make with that person. They have to want that change. They must seek it out for themselves. They have to have their own reason why such a change is actually what is best for them. No one can do that for someone else.

In reality the only person you can change is yourself. There’s no point butting heads with anyone else trying to prove otherwise. You can debate, or inform, or encourage, all you want. At best they might listen to your words or see the actions you take. They might let some of that sink in or ignore it completely. They quite possibly won’t even give it another moments thought. Their response can range from apathy to ire.

They most certainly won’t make a change at your insistence. If anything that may only reinforce their belief or idea, no matter how antiquated it may seem, especially if it is an idea their entire foundation as a person is based upon.

All you can do is politely put forward your case in a measured way. Getting frustrated doesn’t help, neither does raising your voice. If anything the more energy or forcefulness you put into your delivery the greater the barrier you will encounter. To hope for someone to recognise what may be easily seen for most requires subtlety, a softness in approach, where an idea isn’t forced upon someone but allowed to formulate in their own minds.

Then all you can do is hope that someday that idea will grow into an action. That they will recognise the need for change themselves. And then make that change.

.

Mindshift

Mindshift

I feel broken.

In truth it has been building for days. That palpable sense of unease. That dark cloud looming on the horizon. The storm that was swelling.

It just let loose. It’s flooding my mind.

Thing is, I’m not going to let it stop me from doing what I have to do. I’m not going to let my mind defeat me the way it used to even though right now I just want to curl up on the sofa.

As I’m jotting this down I’m trying to make dinner. I’ve opened the wrong cupboards looking for ingredients I know are not there. I know the potatoes are kept in the tall cupboard beside the fridge. I looked in the one that contains the canned goods. I know the vegetable oil is in the cupboard above the oven. I opened the cupboard that contains the plates. There are no cooking items or foodstuffs even in there.

My phone is buzzing. Notifications from WordPress. I know I have to be respectful. Especially to the people I do respect. I know there are comments to reply to, posts I’ve saved that I have scanned but not read. I just can’t face them this minute. I know I will.

Sometimes it’s easy to hide behind words on a screen. Words can belie how low you are really feeling. I can’t even do that right now.

So what happened?

I’ve been allowing certain thoughts to enter my mind. Thoughts I have no right to entertain. Dwelling on the past. A love that was lost.

I made the mistake of reading something about heartbreak and loneliness. I really should have waited until I was in a better frame of mind. It was a beautiful post. But like the spectre of lost love it is haunting me.

My son is in the living room waiting for his dinner. He’s watching YouTube. He has no idea how I’m feeling.

Earlier I saw a girl I know but haven’t seen in a while. She was in a hurry. Literally running past me. She smiled, said: “Hello Chris”, as she was passing. I said hello back.

It made me realise that with the exception of my soon-to-be ex-wife I haven’t actually spoken to another woman besides my mother and sister in weeks, maybe more.

I saw a few posts earlier about being grateful. The rational side of my mind is telling me I have a lot to be grateful for. I have a son who loves, and lives with, me. Few separated men have that blessing. I am in good health. I have good friends. A house. A job.

The irrational side is screaming at me to ignore all that.

Anyone who reads what I write will notice one thing. I write from the heart. Most times that heart is filled with love, life, positivity, optimism.

Right now that heart is a bit too heavy. I can feel its weight.

Dinner is almost ready. I have to go for now. The cat is still at the window. She’s telling me not to forget…

Part 2

What you read above was a glimpse of what happens when things get on top of me. We all have our little demons. And mine was prodding me with its pitchfork of self-pity, loneliness, negativity and sadness.

At the same time I was trying to regain control. I still knew the daily things I had to do. I must do if I’m to make things better. I knew that at times like that the most important thing is to keep going. Keep persisting (Thanks cat). There’s a lot to be said about movement.

I gave my son his dinner. We sat and ate together and talked about Fortnite. Just as we were finished his friends called and he went out to play.

It took me longer than usual to clean up and get the dishes done. I put the washing machine on after. There was a moment where I could have easily just gave in. Said I was done for the day. The person I was before wouldn’t even have hesitated.

But I forced myself out to my little gym. The routine I have seemed harder than usual. I made a point of not cutting it short. I haven’t done that and have no intention to. I’m not selling myself short anymore.

Afterwards I had a quick shower. Normally then I do a bit of writing. Work on my blog and other little projects. Not tonight. I needed time being close to my son. We just sat on the sofa the rest of the evening. My mood had lifted.

His mother called after a while. We had a civil conversation. At the back of my mind I still felt the regret. The regret that the person I was had pushed her away. That’s on me and me alone.

When she left it was time for bed. My son and I both went upstairs. As he fell asleep I kept thinking about how I no longer have the luxury, nor time, not to get my daily tasks done.

I reminded myself of what it takes to forge the life you want. I reminded myself of all those successful people I am constantly listening to. I reminded myself.

So up I got. The frantic train of thought from earlier got typed up. The addition made to show how things went after. And now I’m going to do a little more work elsewhere.

But there is a point to the post. It’s actually a point taken from one of my earliest posts. The one entitled A Low Day. This was my first real low day since then but the message is even more pertinent now. As much for myself or anyone else.

“The biggest struggle is always going to be with yourself and your own mind. If you want to be better it means you are not entirely happy with the you now. Do you really want that person controlling you? Or do you want to endure your negative feelings and forge a better, happier you?

“These days, the low dark days, the days that are harder than most, are the defining days. These are the ones that have the potential to break you. But if you see that and realise that your biggest gift, your own advancement and growth, can be bourne from days like this you see them as something far greater. They are an opportunity. A chance to rise to your own challenge. Find the gift in them and give light to that darkness.”

It’s getting close to 12pm. It might be dark outside. But I’ve found my light. I hope anyone else who is struggling finds theirs to.

You Are What You Consume. And I’m Not Talking About Food.

You Are What You Consume

I would hazard a guess that currently there are millions of people thinking about what they eat. Worried about their weight. Concerned about their calorie intake. On a diet.

But what about what we are feeding our minds? Isn’t that equally, if not more, important? I would think it’s safe to say that for a majority of people what they are filling their thoughts with has no real value. No positive value anyway. They are not having sustaining meals, not even quality snacks, they are just having chewing gum for the mind.

Think about it. There is a plethora of information out there in relation to your diet. The best foods to eat to achieve the physical result you want. There are countless articles and advertisements on social media, in magazines, online. There’s even a staggering amount of television programmes. You are what you eat? being the first one that comes to mind.

It’s all focused on the exterior. How you look to the outside world.

But what about what’s inside? What about your mind? The way you think?

I know that from my personal experience anything I have seen in relation to that has come from specific sources relating to personal development. You almost have to seek out such information. It isn’t as all-pervasive, as prevalent, as the information on your eating habits. It should be.

Think about your week. What have you consumed that has benefitted your mind? Your mental well-being? The way you think? I would imagine that unless you are specifically working towards something the answer would be very little, if anything.

Now think about the stuff you have read, or listened to, or watched, that has been meaningless. The things that have left your mind as quickly as they entered. Oh they might have had some flavour as you (I was going to say ruminated but that implies deep thought) temporarily considered them.

But once that flavour was gone. They would have left your mind like that flavourless chewing gum would leave your mouth. Spat right out and added to the trash. Some might be worse than that. Some might have left a bad taste in your mouth. Left you thinking negative thoughts. The worst of it is all this was probably done unthinkingly.

Imagine how much time of your life you have wasted on social media, watching pointless television programmes, playing computer games etc. There is a lot of distraction out there. A lot of ways to waste time. Waste your mind.

It is not my intention to preach here. I used to be just as bad, if not worse. I used to spend pretty much all my so-called free time watching pointless films and television programmes. That is wasteful enough. At the same time I was probably wasted from smoking marijuana. A double whammy.

Look, I understand we all need time to unwind, relax, turn our minds off for a while. That’s ok and necessary. But if you truly look at those habits I bet they account for an awful amount of hours in your week. Hours that add up over the years. Hours where you are doing nothing really. Hours where all you are doing is wasting your life away. A life that only contains a finite number of them.

Since I started becoming more conscious of the things I do, and didn’t do, and since I started finding the time to do the things I needed to do to grow, to develop, to progress. I started to recognise all that wasteful time. All that time that was either doing me no good, or causing me harm. All that time my mind was going to waste.

Take the news for example. Why do you watch it? It contains rarely anything positive. It’s mostly reporting negative events. Which do what to your mind? Make you annoyed, angry, frustrated. If you watch or listen to the news everyday. You are assaulting your own mind with negativity. It gives you a skewed view of the world. It makes it look all doom and gloom.

I’m not even going to write about social media. It is well documented just how negatively it can impact people.

Whatever fills your mind is what your mind becomes. I have found that since I cut out the news from my life, stopped watching hours of pointless television, even drastically cutting down on the amount of music I listen to, and started replacing all that with listening to audio books, always factual by the way, I have found myself becoming happier. Feeling much stronger as a person. Being able to cope better with life’s little problems. It is actually quite remarkable.

But all this isn’t common knowledge. No one on television or radio is going to tell you such a thing. They want your attention after all.

So it’s time to make a decision. Time to think about what you consume. Time to think, full stop.

Why fill your mind with so much emptiness or negativity? Stuff that has no real value. When you could be nourishing it instead. Helping your mind to grow.

I think the band Jefferson Airplane said it best at the end of their song White Rabbit. Feed your head. Feed your head!

The Snarling Lion

The Snarling Lion

We all have it inside us. That ferocious beast, that irrational being, the snarling lion of anger. Normally mine is subdued, peaceful, at rest. Chained by the rationality of my mind.

Not now.

Anyone who has followed my blog will see I am all about looking for the positive, the hope, finding inspiration. Those people will also see I’m real. I’m not always like that. I don’t always have the answers. I’m not like Buddha, or Jesus, or Muhammad. I’m a flawed human being just like the rest of us with our foibles and imperfections.

Sometimes I am just struggling through. Trying desperately to find the right path and stay on it. Sometimes I find it hard just to see where that path is. Sometimes I’m just waiting for a new day, a new sense of perspective, a new hope.

In a way this is one of those sometimes. In another it isn’t.

Something happened this afternoon. It wasn’t even anything major. It involved my son.

It has left me bubbling under the surface. Bubbling with a certain degree of anger. A feeling to lash out. I haven’t. I don’t think I will. We’ll see how the day goes.

Thing is, that little incident has made me realise something about myself. I’ve talked before about how my son is my reason for driving myself on to being better. How he gives me my sense of purpose. How that gives me strength.

I’ve just realised how he can be my source of weakness also. When I see my boy hurting, feel the emotional pain he is in, I just want to lash out. Not physically I might add. I don’t like violence. But verbally. Verbally I can be downright destructive, unrelenting, almost savage. Verbally I can let my lion run free and no one is safe when he is on the loose.

Since my ‘wife’ and I separated my boy hasn’t seen his granddad on her side of the family in months. I thought today we would try a little visit. It was only going to be short. No more than 10 minutes. It was all he would agree to and I didn’t want to push him any further. I knew his grandparents would be more than happy to see him no matter how little the time was.

We made it to the house. It is only a mile up the road. He had even got out of the car. But then he saw his mother’s car and someone else’s we didn’t recognise. He wasn’t expecting that and got so worked up he started crying. I certainly didn’t want to put him through that level of upset so we quickly jumped back into the car and came home.

When I got home there was a text from his mother. She was just saying what she was doing that morning, what she planned to do that evening, and asking how her son was.

I told her about the failed visit. About the upset.

Now if that had been me receiving the news the first thing I would have done was drop everything I was doing and come and see my boy. As far as I would be concerned everything else could wait.

Needless to say that wasn’t her response. She was having lunch with friends. Was visiting relatives later. Plans that couldn’t be interrupted or delayed it seems. Not one word was asked of how he was right then. Had he settled down? Did he want her to visit?

The lack of visible concern loosened that chain. I felt that lion’s snarl starting to rise, wanting to turn into a roar. The animal wanting to pounce. It didn’t. I didn’t. My reply was curt. That was the best of the options I had running through my mind at that time. Avoid a confrontation. No point unleashing my anger over things outside my control.

In the past 12 months I have worked feverishly trying to improve myself. In the most part that is actually now quite easy. The exercise isn’t a problem. The steps I need to take to achieve my hopes and dreams are, if not exactly easy, quite simple and straightforward. I know I can do that.

But when it comes to emotions. The feelings of my heart and my son’s. I have a long way to go.

Granted today was a small step in the right direction. I didn’t unleash my beast. In fact the only people who will even know about it are the people reading this now. And it has helped me to see where my greatest weakness lies.

Even in the course of writing this I have felt the anger subside. No harm has been done and for that I am thankful. I guess, I hope, I am learning.

Speaking in anger is no good for anyone. It will achieve no good thing. All it can do is make things worse, compound your problems, add to your regret. So I’m asking you please, if you find yourself in that situation, find your anger starting to rise, do whatever it takes to tame your beast.

If it’s a problem that needs addressing leave it to when you are thinking clearer. Are more rational. When you head and thoughts aren’t clouded by emotion. When your lion is subdued and back in chains. You’ll be thankful later. I know I am.