Category Archives: Just Living

The Living Library

I’ve wanted to write a book forever, I’ve wanted to call it the Diary of a Late Bloomer forever. Over time I’ve given up on that, perhaps, because I’ve started to bloom.

When the opportunity be a human book on the shelves of a Living Library arose, I jumped at it. They say the aim was to shatter myths, stereotypes and much more.

Who would want to spend their free time flicking through my pages? Would people even connect with what I had to say? What would I say? I committed myself to the full 2 hours with nothing but the title in mind and hoped for the best. I was pleasantly surprised.

How did it work? There were several “books”, people would choose a title from the library and be given a library card with a time to return their book.

Each of my readers had different connections to the title and the mutual curiosity allowed for conversations that could have easily tripled in length. There were conversations where I was like a child racing at a million miles an hour in open space before returning to the measured adult I’ve become.

I enjoyed every minute, from the first with the reader who passed their driving test in their early 50s, to the last person who ended up with me because of a mix-up.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to share stories with other late bloomers and would happily do this again.

A version of this appears on https://www.upmen.co.uk/the-experience

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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

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