The armband

In sports, the captain is considered the leader. The person who is responsible for the team during their game or competitive output. They are the manager’s mouthpiece, the one who will drive the team to win when facing defeat.

When a friend of mine asked the question, do captains of football teams matter these days, I duly fell down the rabbit hole.

I looked at the list of captains that had won the English Premier League since it began and saw a list dominated by central defenders. The average personality, the footballing phenotype was that of the hard man, the rock em sock em type. Pull you up by your bootstraps and hang you by them if you fail. They set the standards, command your respect and demand your attention let alone application.

For me we are in the era where that role has been greatly reduced and leaders now need to be throughout the team. They need to be able to communicate in more than one way. A prime example would be Ander Herrera (currently a Manchester United player) who will have his arm around a player one minute and have strong words with others in the next. All of this while looking to do his own job on the field of play.

I believe captains should be emblems of their team. The game is more cerebral now. It takes poise, speed of thought and skill to truly play at the highest level. In ice hockey we are no longer in the era of the enforcer, a player who exists solely for the rough stuff. In modern business we are no longer in the era of just whipping the work force until they get to the level you want them to be.

Masculinity has evolved to allow a greater range of types to make the team. It has evolved to grant the diversity of voice or playing style, a degree of value, and the ability to work without fear.

A captain may epitomize the team’s hard work or even their manager’s style. Those familiar with ice hockey will note the use of the letter C and A. With several assistant captains, the emphasis is on not being a 1 man team from a leadership perspective.

With that in mind, I consider a potential winner of the 2018/19 season, Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson and what he stands for. I see him as a “keep it simple” captain who prefers to lead by example. He’s not a brand, he’s an honest fellow and that’s it. While he may have been usurped in terms of visibility, a Jordan Henderson may be all you need to get a tune out of the rest of the team.

An architect will create a blueprint but you’ll need a labourer with knowledge of tools and materials to build. Who’s the captain? Is it the one who screams at you to get it done or the one that spots something to be done, communicates this to the team and fills in the gaps if necessary?

We like to think of ourselves as the captains of our own ships. If that’s the case, what are you doing to ensure that the team on the journey with you is doing what it needs to?

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Random Poetics

Bark n’ Bite

Silence, oh silence, detox or prison? With no mobile phone, pen, paper or words around my hospital room felt like the latter. As I waited for my operation in this big barren establishment, my mind sought solace from the solar flares of anxiety.

I was only having four teeth out under general anaesthetic, nothing major. A routine operation by all accounts, yet thoughts of it all going wrong and not waking up had played a 3 day concert in my mind. Despite having an enjoyable day 24 hours earlier watching ice hockey live, memories were non-existent.

I wondered, what if I was in this situation again, not so much as in a hospital but isolated from technology or a canvas, away from connections to people I care about, what would keep me going? I’m entertained but what knowledge have I taken on recently? I’ve ridden the storms of instability in my professional life for the last 2 years through a mix of outlets but what have I learned that doesn’t have emotions attached?

“You only live what you’ve learned”, screamed Chester Bennington of Linkin Park on the song Points of Authority. He was right. In that moment I was transported to core beliefs I held as indisputable, things that no amount of hell could shake me from.  As the plethora of medical staff entered, asked questions and left, I momentarily breathed easier. I took facts from them while regaining a sense of resilience through humour.

The last thing I said to the operating team before I fell asleep was “I trust you”. I woke up 2 or so hours later, glad to be alive glad that this was completed. Immediately thanking the staff for what they’ve done.

According the operating professional, my wisdom teeth had roots like spades” and made it a longer and more challenging operation than expected. I feel more pain in this recovery phase than my wisdom teeth ever caused. Yet I am grateful that things have been done this way.

Anxiety may flare again at some point with another situation, yet in the silence, without my preferred weapons of distraction, I recognised my true tool must be sharper. Entertainment can dull pain for some time but knowledge may be the higher dosage that kills it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Just Living

Halfway House

“One day your metabolism will slow down and your appetite will catch up with you.”

“Go to the gym now so that you don’t have to work as hard when you’re older”

“You look OK from the back but you’re a mess from the front”

“I like that you’ve got something to hang on to”

Being physically appealing from the neck down has never appealed to me. However, as time has gone on, despite eating healthy without calorie counting, my lifestyle has impacted what I can wear. In 2017 I was wearing hoodies 24/7 to disguise my burgeoning belly despite walking 30 miles a week.

By the end of 2018, I had outgrown even the new shirts and had begun to wear a big jumper over what I had. I looked at myself in the mirror with disgust and shame. Even the stress of work couldn’t take away from the fact that I was a mess, and I couldn’t trust myself to do a solo workout in the gym I’d signed up to.

I saw that an 8-week challenge was about to happen at my gym (True Grit Training) and thought I’d give it a go. High-intensity circuit training wasn’t new to me, I’d done “caveman training” beforehand lost some weight. However, the Paleo diet they preached wasn’t for me, I resented the food choices available. Heck, this week I’ve eaten cauliflower for the first time in about 3 / 4 years.

The first 3D scan told me I was practically a chocolate Buddha standing at just over 6ft tall – my heaviest in 10 years. This time I couldn’t rely on a messy break up to lose a stone in a week, it would be sheer hard work and disciplined eating. I sought to motivate myself over the long term so I set my weight target for the year and not the program. I also adjusted my approach to eating this time around. Rather than have a specialised set of foods for the purpose of the program, I chose to apply the lower carb higher protein principle to what I would eat on a regular basis.

In practice, the evening meals have been the same mix of fish, white and red meat with rice or sweet potatoes that I eat week in week out. Breakfasts and lunches have seen switches away from cereals and sandwiches or heavier cooked meals.

After 40 classes over 8 weeks, days before my final scan, I am ready to treat myself. I know I’ve lost over a stone in weight, I am one waist size down in formal trousers. When I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t see a crazy amount of change in my shape. What I do see, is a man who is on the right path, a man who has put his mind to a mix of extreme, spinning, strength and other circuit classes. I don’t yet have the body I want but to paraphrase Bon Jovi, oh ….I’m halfway there.

Leave a comment

Filed under Just Living, Non Poetic Blogs

New Year New….Journey?

New Year New….Journey?

Some things have to stay in the past, no matter how hard you want to drag them into the present. That goes for good things that happened in the previous year too.

I could give you half a dozen titles and hundreds of words for blog posts I wrote (and remain in draft form) reflecting on 2018. I had hoped to give you a glimpse into practical highs, crushing lows and express thankfulness for everything in between. Instead I posted a poetic expression of a very stressful that situation that occurred recently.

I’m not the New Year, new me type, never have been. Maybe that was my go with the flow mentality. Significant changes every year for who? Me? For a few years, my end of year reflections started in October and changes began in November. Whatever calendar you work with, change has to start as soon as you’re ready to start changing. Simple, isn’t it?

Just knowing you came out the other side is as inspirational as any detail you could explain. The new you begun before anyone else could start putting up social media posts about what they would or wouldn’t be doing for the next year.

A new year may not bring or require wholesome change. There may be situations or seasons that have started at different times and require your investment to maintain or improve them. You could have started a job or taken up a hobby, you may be a parent and simply have seen your child grow up a little more. It is likely that you will have different things in different areas of your life that require your efforts. There is a journey to be had whether you are starting, maintaining or finishing something.

Can you trust yourself to acknowledge what has happened at a particular time and simply take only what is necessary into the next interaction, the next phase? Take enough fuel for the journey and burn it accordingly.

Although the stories of how we got from A-B are incredibly important. We cannot carry every book in its entirety with us. For us to live and move forward in life we must let them live in their space. That space may be the museum of unshared blogs or diary entries. That space may be a one off reading at an open mic, a WhatsApp message. That space may even be a single photo, a phone call or meeting at a café.

What are you keeping in your space in this season? What are you fuelling your journey with?

Leave a comment

Filed under Just Living

0301

Crushing pulses of pandemonium pilfer my purposes.

Pathways of reeds rushes and leaves distressed with canned candour cover cracked screens.

Wearing patchwork seems fashionable when colours fill a shape.

What’s a super man without a cape?

I escape. Into waterways washing banks with interest.

Though laundering loveliness is endearing even Bambi died.

Can’t expect a leopard to have a spotless mind.

The carousel of well fayres have finite loops.

They say ride the one that suits you.

 

I keep tailoring top and tales hoping for a body of work

Sell me for what I’m worth

A magnetic moment ironing flaws as I walk steeled

Tired of staring at my bruises.

I want to heal, I want to feel.

For once this onion can remain unpeeled

Just give me A and B so I can see the road and walk along

Somewhere I belong

Wherever that is.

 

I’m sick of tripping from this slapstick

I searched my soul so much I asked google to map it.

If I must burn than can it be without sack cloth and ashes?

If I must burn, how come everything I think is fire strikes to take away my matches?

Cashed in passion feels like a coma because I’m strapped into this madness.

Thought there was treasure at the top, all I see is a flat chest

Pawn in this mad chess

There’s no checks, every move is contactless and strafing with strife

Blood drips so much I wonder if I’m cut for this life

Since they let the electric slide, I can’t fight the power.

The death of I in team and time in our, has come.

Let us dance

 

Let’s dance to algorithms of these coarse decisions

Hold the baby in an unwanted divorce and call him Moses

Fill our faces with roses instead of head stones.

Let him grow in the hope that this shall be lauded.

Give ourselves the life we were afforded

Leave a comment

Filed under Just Living, Random Poetics

Pistons

Carry me home

Slay bells toll

A maze in this mould, bridging the gap

Burning soles find heaven I’m trying to put my face on the map

Why smash your pumpkin when you’re a sweet potato

I carry me home on this crowded railroad.

Adding carriages can be painful and I hate reservations.

Carry me home shattering webs and fathoming dust.

 

Die? Me?

I rust raging rainbows

There’s levels to this painting.

 

Your stares dress me on fleet streets where you’ll find that I’m a neon pink and lime shrine

You’ve got to be a pupil to see me in more than black n’ white

Oh, you think death is strange?

So it’s not just I.

If life is a cycle I’m here for the ride

 

I’m here to shake chandeliers of shamanic tears till diamonds find their way to their crown.

Is death an emergency stop or a slowing down?

 

Carry me home canoodling setting concrete.

Carry me home crowd-funded by choruses and crashes.

Feed me clashes to comb

There’s science to the magic but I don’t want to know.

As I know sure as the slay bells toll

I’ll just use it to carry me home.

Leave a comment

Filed under Random Poetics

Squatting in Space

Railing from missteps

Time slips through my fingers

I can’t catch breaths

With every blink, I beat my breasts and suckle solar flares

Somehow I’m running from my right to be bare

Yeah!

I wash in polarising pools of platitudes and curses

What’s love if they only say patience is a virtue?

My life ain’t chapters they’re verses

I hammer definitions like a wordsmith.

Flattered by my flaws there’s no iron in my steel.

I’m arrested by bars but.

Somehow I am the keys I can’t feel.

How can I drive my life if everything else takes the wheel?

You tell me

What’s the formula one needs?

Is it bleed, heal and repeat?

Is it greet, grope and retreat?

Is it please, police, preach and never teach?

When you’re aiming for the stars….

You don’t lighten the darkness reaching for bleach!

Leave a comment

Filed under Random Poetics