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Introduction

First things first: I have a baby nephew! One week old today! Hoorah! ¬†After decades of fabulous female offspring: welcome to the world little man, you’re going to have an amazing time! I cannot wait to meet you ūüôā

It’s been a good week, despite a bout of man-flu aka the common cold which got eased by a surprise¬†text message from a friend. I probably hadn’t seen her for nearly a year, so had to check whether her joyous invite was indeed for me. It was.

She is one of those rare people who has the ability to team creative with commercial, or let’s say business, she’s not selling her soul. She seems to keep her integrity well through the many projects she does and more importantly she seems to be enjoying herself. This is something to aspire too, so apart from the usual catching up, we spoke about my desire to take this writing-marlarkey to a new level.

I see myself having two choices:

A) Find a way in to a creative enterprise and get to know the ropes and work towards my own writing.

B) Find a more commercial writing position and …

No wait, actually writing it down like this makes it very clear. In a perfect world I’d prefer Option A, ¬†I would prefer a non-perfect job in a perfect environment for growth.

Actually maybe creative enterprise is too generic. I would like to find a role in an enterprise that reflects my values and my passions. ¬†During our catch-up¬†my friend asked whether I could define what I value, what I stand for if you like, I didn’t know what to reply. “Encouraging people who want change” seemed like such a naff thing to say. “Inspire optimism that life is what you make of it” made me reach for a bucket… So incredibly cheesey…but kind of true.

You see, ¬†this is my litmus test for life choices: every time I have to make a life decision, I wonder about my gorgeous nieces and now little nephew… “What choice would I want them to make?” I wish the best possible life for them, so why not for me? It is not about choosing the easy path or avoid disappointments, hell I would have chosen something else by now, ¬†but simultaneously let’s not make ourselves suffer because of some warped sense of martyrdom.

My lovely friend was an amazing soundboard and the next day she returned to me with this:¬†http://caseforoptimism.org.uk/¬† People who look for a creative response to the troubles of our times, ¬†creative support during transformation. It does sound a bit hippy-dippy to me too yes, but this blog does have the subtitle: my own way to deal with the global doom and gloom. By a co-incidence there’s an event next week just around the corner from me… Hm, I’ll attend on Thursday and report back.

To Be Continued…

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Life’s been busy lately and the days seem to fly by: all of a sudden it is Wednesday again. More importantly, we are now half way through the year so let’s review the challenges that are left:

– Learn to shoot a gun
– Learn to sing the Ave Maria
– Learn to play the mouth harmonica
– Spending a day with my 13 year old cousin
– Going on a short silent retreat
– Run a half marathon with my sister
– Write courage on Ipanema beach.

Learn to shoot a gun, will have to involve booking a clay pigeon shooting day. Real guns are hard to get by and you have to get through too many checks for just a bit of blog malarkey. Does it matter I only have one eye perfectly working? The other one I read with…

Ave Maria

Ave Maria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Singing the Ave Maria, this needs some co-ordination with Maya who was interested in helping me, but then we never got around the details. It will be nothing like the picture ¬†of Beyonce, not sure what the concept behind the dress choice was…

Learn to play the mouth harmonica: so this one is a bitch. It needs patience, something I lack profoundly. Anyway, that’s the point of a challenge I guess.

In two weeks time I’m hopping over to Neverneverland for family business so will speak to cousin then and try to arrange meeting up – if she is still interested of course.

Running is on track, found a new route today: hoping to hit 10K in two weeks. Have also found out that the race is sponsored by another energy drink than I trained with two years ago. Hopefully it will taste better, though I fear it won’t. #firstworldproblems

Brazil… well that is going to be the real challenge: time and money required. Usually you have one or the other. Have to think about how to make that work.

Anything left? Ah yes the silent retreat…Options galore, be it in convents or buddhist tribes, but the real question is: what do I want from it? And why am I so reluctant to think about that question…

*to be continued – no doubt.

Today I met up with a friend, who recently lost a friend in an accident. Or a friend, yes it was I guess: it was someone she knew well enough for it to make an impact. It triggered memories of five years ago, when I found myself in a similar situation, twice in two weeks unfortunately. I can remember the phone calls, my reaction in slow-motion. The first time I screamed, the second time I just crumbled. The impact their deaths had on my life was huge: at 22 I had found myself paralyzed in existential angst and this shook me into moving. Life is short, get on with it.

It was by no means an overnight change, there was a period of working through it the only way I knew how: I wrote. I wrote songs, I wrote theatrical anecdotes, I wrote articles, I wrote blog posts. Some pieces were published and performed, others were not. None were masterpieces but writing became what I did and it’s still what I do.

Five years have passed and still every now and then, whenever I see colourful painted toes in flip flops under leggings or see blue and yellow field flowers waving in green grass,  it jolts a memory. Sometimes it makes me smile, sometimes it makes me a little sad but every time it reminds me not to rush the days or wish my life away.

When I’m planning these 12 challenges, it sometimes feels like the year will pass too quickly (“Man, I can’t plan that retreat until October.”) while at the same time the day-to-day dealings with trying to carve my life and writing career seem to go frustratingly slow. Two minuses don’t make a plus.

So today I once again got reminded to live more in the moment: accept the day-to-day dealings for they build the path towards my goal and enjoy planning a challenge because while walking towards something you might as well admire the scenery.

 

Right, so here’s a confession: I’m not sure whether I want to do this any more. It seems I just cannot get myself motivated enough even to write a blogpost. I seriously considered cleaning the kitchen and brushing my teeth, pottering around, hoping too much time would have frittered away to still write something.

When I read through my challenges I don’t understand why I feel this way. All my challenges are achievable. Really, they are in some kind of way: whether the problem is sourcing money (Ipanema) or time (training for a race) or just logistics ( arrange to spend time with friend and with cousin.) Still I find all kinds of reasons why not to push through with this.¬†If I don’t achieve all challenges, I think I’d just shrug. Who cares right? Does it matter I never made my own croissants? It is easier and cheaper to buy them, what is the plus side to this challenge?

flickr by josullivan.59

As I’m writing this, I realise I’m turning into one of those people who always finds an excuse not to do something. ” If I had money/time/nice friends/ loving relatives/a home/ a dog/a cat/ a goldfish, then I would do go on a worldtrip/ read a book/ bake a cake/ learn a language.” Or a variation on this ” I could go surfing in Hawaii/ do a pottery class/grown my own potatoes but that’s not important right now is it when I have to pay the rent/am gunning for a promotion in the office I hate/ try to make things work with my partner.”

The 12 challenges shouldn’t be a burden, they should be enjoyed: when else am I going to make croissants ever ( it is cheaper and easier to buy them ‚Äď forget trying to get to Brazil or shooting a gun, the making of croissants is the one that no one seems to understand. “WHY?!”) or when else will I make time to spend a day with my cousin?(She is currently a lovely 13year old, puberty and subsequently hate of the world will reach her soon and she will not want to hang out with her boring ancient and uncool cousin. Gah! Race against the clock!) ¬†No, it doesn’t matter if a challenge isn’t completed before the end of the year but I think I should have fun trying.

Guess my 12 challenges are a little bit like the normal challenges in life, usually not unachievable to conquer but you do just have to do it.

Rain is falling down on the ¬†glass roof top amplifying its gloomy noise. Government posters warn us of a country wide drought and if only this rainy spell would help ‚Äď alas, we are being told this does not even touch the sides of a two-year lack of summer rain.

Running joke... *swoon*

This morning the BBC reported that the ¬†UK hit a double dip recession.¬†This new recession is blamed on the troubles in the eurozone and indeed, back home the government has fallen over deep disagreement how to solve the economic crisis. Keeping in mind this is one of the stronger economies in the EU, it really doesn’t bode well for what is still to come.

However, it is clear that the world as we know it and the economies hang together, so really as we are all shackled to each other: what is the point in pointing fingers or putting your foot down, refusing to move? Maybe it is time to revise the strategies to be the biggest, richest, strongest and help each other to create more stable society. Not even out of fluffy bunny charity but out of sheer survival. Have we not learned that the heavy elite cannot stand on a weak base of society: it will collapse.

Surely, there must be a clever economist out there who can provide us with a template for Capitalism v.2.? An incarnation which perhaps even ties in an ideology moving away from emphasising money. Don’t get me wrong, this is not propaganda for the ¬†so-called ‘equality’ of Communism: money gives you freedom to explore your individuality, as you invest it in your passions and interests.

Money should be a tool, not the goal. A couple of months ago I met a group of guys in a bar, all working respectable jobs but 4 out of 5 said it was to make ends meet, while they followed their passions. Passions were as diverse as pilot training to art school. One of them however insisted that he just wanted to make a lot of money. I asked him what he would do with the money but he couldn’t give me an answer, he just wanted to have a lot of it. It was not to help his mother or go on a worldtrip, he just wanted to security of money. Security from what exactly, I never found out. It was very strange, suddenly it just sounded so Neanderthal.

This blog is my own way to fight the doom and gloom that seems to enclose us so often these days. How long the crisis will last for no one seems to really know and I refuse to look back on this period of my life (Let’s forget world history, damn the effect it has on my life!) as one in which nothing happened.¬†I’m no economist, no part of the power-elite but not only will I survive triple dip recessions with sprinkles on top: by jove I shall live.

Happening Live!

Image via Wikipedia

Is it still happening? Yes of course! I agree the updates have been a bit sparse, sorry, this is the first one since February started really. Not much has been done I have to admit, this whole “you only need 30 days to change your life “-thing is not for me. Some things take longer and the others shorter, that is the beauty and the freedom.

What I have done is some prep: my very cool sister and I will try to run a half-marathon Sept/Oct time. Giving ourselves plenty of time to train haha, and hope that the weather is nice: not scorching hot or icy cold. (There is the rain of course, which we shall ignore for the time being.)

Tomorrow I’m meeting someone who I shall ask to help me learn Ave Maria by Bach. She doesn’t know this yet, so if you read this: Hi! Guess what…

Pictures for the photo album are still an ongoing project. I’ve decided to start with a small album of my baby nieces first. They are only tiny for so long and I just want a memory of their baby-hood,¬†when they still like me. One day, they might wake up and decide that it is all over.

My dance classes I can take until July, so I have time to faff about still. Yes, procrastination you do not know how much I fear this. I will do it but I shall wait until the very last minute.

Then the Silent Retreat, now there is a challenge. Sometimes I feel like i’ll explode if I don’t talk through my thoughts or write them down. Hoping/Knowing that won’t actually happen and after a friend mentioned it, I thought I might give it a go. There seems to be a lot of choice in silent retreats: all I know is that I want to be out of London to do this. The city is its own bubble and my ambitions and worries are too close. If I’m to reflect on life, on my 10 years abroad I shall be doing it somewhere pretty ‚Äď thank you very much. (I love the map in the link, the UK tellingly disproportionate to the rest of Europe. Suggestions on where to go, very welcome.)

Still left of the 12 challenges are: making croissants, the birth (it’s not Spring yet!), the day with TA and day with cousin, the harmonica ( I need an empty house for that, wouldn’t want to torture my flatmates) and Ipanema beach where I might learn to shoot a gun. (Joke, mother.)

Enough to do still, better get going….

The 12 challenges for 2012 start here.

It should be fun. Today was spent setting up this new blog, in the coming days I shall write about my challenge-project. Feel free to browse and read up on the concept.

More shall be added soon but for now: let’s make 2012 a great year!

photocredit: Flickr – IceNineJon