5 Share Friday 26 October 2018

1. Quote I’m pondering this week “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”Albert Schweitzer

2. Most thought provoking read this week: Seth Godin interview at Onbeing. This one is excellent, covering such things as the connection between struggle and hope, learning from failure and constant change in our lives. It’s a 10 minute read or you can listen to the episode too (links on the webpage)

3. Most interesting purchase: These little silicon ‘ends’ for food and jars. I use a lemon each morning. I squeeze juice from half a lemon into a glass, add water and drink. It’s the first thing I do before anything else when I get up. Now I’ve discovered these silicon ends I can put the other half of that lemon in the fridge and use it the next day without it going dry and crusty, excellent!

4. Most used app this week is WeatherBug. Since moving to Denmark my favourite weather app doesn’t work (Dark Sky), it simply won’t pick up radar coverage. I’ve been researching and testing other apps and have chosen WeatherBug (a desktop version available too). It’s free and quite frankly wonderful. It’s available on both iPhone and Android so if you’re looking for a weather app with a difference (it’s particularly great if you have allergies by the looks of it) look no further than WeatherBug.

5. Following on from last week and my kale extravaganza at home, we found a humdinger of a curry recipe based on kale. If you’re into kale and like a warm curry on a winters evening, then you won’t do much better than this one.

You and I are gonna live forever

Recently I’ve been thinking about mortality, I’m in my forties now and in my early twenties I’m not sure I thought I’d ever make it this far. Now I’m here I’ve been looking around me, at my family, friends and even  strangers on a train. Who’s healthy? What age have people died? What are the commonalities?

On my fathers side it’s cancer and my mother’s it’s strokes. So I’m looking at this and preparing. It will soon be the anniversary of my fathers death, 12 years ago he died and left a gaping hole, one I had never prepared for.

“You can’t predict. You can prepare.” Howard Marks

I heard the above quote on a recent Tim Ferriss podcast, it reminded me I have to prepare for my own passing. What happens if I die in the next 12 months? 2 years? 5 years? I have yet to make a will, I also don’t have a legacy I’ve worked hard enough on, so what would I be leaving behind?

Death is a subject many of us shy from and I’m uncomfortable thinking and writing about it yet I know I need to prepare, we all do.

So my focus right now is on preventing an early death. I can look at my lifestyle and make changes based on current knowledge around cancer. I can make sure my mind is active and that my blood is strong for prevention of heart problems, I can do many things to eliminate the risk. It may or may not help yet I can’t sit back and do nothing.

“It’s not lost on me that everyone dies, but some people have a kind of immortality about them, and you can’t imagine that they will ever be gone.” – Henry Rollins 

What are you thinking about for your life? Each morning I write “I’m grateful to be alive ” in my gratitude journal. It’s easy to forget how simply being here, on this planet, in this universe is actually a miracle.

There’s a 3 minute song from Monty Python describing this view better than I can:

“…Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
That’s orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it’s reckoned,
A sun that is the source of all our power.

The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,
Of the galaxy we call the ‘Milky Way’.

Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
It’s a hundred thousand light years side to side.
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
But out by us, it’s just three thousand light years wide.

We’re thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
We go ’round every two hundred million years,
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.

The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute, and that’s the fastest speed there is.

So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth…”

You can listen and watch the video at the following link, it’s funny and thought provoking, enjoy! https://youtu.be/buqtdpuZxvk

5 Share Friday 19 October 2018

1. Quote I’m pondering this week “Age may wrinkle the face, but lack of enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.” – Danish Proverb

2. This week my wife Mandie found a gem online. I’m reminding myself to review it each morning in order to make the change from sorry to thank you. It rewires the brain and creates a more positive interaction, amazing, see below:

3. This week we had a Black Kale error on our veg delivery and accidentally ordered 4 bags of kale. Since we’ve been looking at boosting our immune system for the winter we’ve found this Kale pesto to make at home. It’s not only tastetastic, it’s full of goodness too. It’s a simple 5 minute recipe and you can easily swap the almonds for walnuts to make a truly winter tasting pesto

4. Talking of walnuts one of our neighbours has a fabulous walnut tree in their front garden. He came over to give us a nice bag of them. Yesterday evening I put on some Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel, sat down with my 14 month old son and we washed them in a bowl together. They then went in some old tights and we hung them in the basement for drying. They’ll be nice and ready for Christmas!

Walnut trees are more common than you might think, have a look here to help identify one and have fun collecting and eating non supermarket nuts.

5. Last week I found myself overcommitted, not leaving enough time for new short deadlines at work. I had to let go of something and chose to drop training at work on how to learn. I was so enthused about attending this training I almost used a ploce word here to emphasise how disappointed I am (I’ve just learned ploce, what a great term).

There’s always a bright side to things however, and this situation made me look at my own ways of making sure I have my usual space to learn each month. Taking inspiration from a recent Microsoft post on ‘building a culture of learning’, I’ve used Trello to make my own learner board. What a fantastic idea, the Microsoft post is a 3 minute read and well worth it for those interested in understanding the importance of continuous learning for the modern workplace.

Less is more

During my first week in Nigeria I was posted in Kano, a Northern city where volunteers of the VSO (similar to the peace corps) learned basic culture and wellbeing.

After landing, I remember standing in the open doorway of the plane and feeling the heat for the first time, it was hot, really hot. I was assigned a shared room with 3 other guys, a room with one bathroom and mattresses on the floor. On the first morning I awoke to cockroaches on my sleeping bag, not something I was used to or happy with and gathering them up in a bucket then throwing them outside became a morning ritual that week

That wasn’t the thing that surprised me the most however. What surprised me the most was how happy people were, especially the children. Walking through the alley ways and streets of Kano was an education in itself. The slum like living of many families was familiar to me from watching TV shows and movies. Now I was experiencing it for real it was something I could never have prepared myself for.

Back in the UK kids would get upset and cry if they weren’t given the  Playstation or Nintendo game they wanted. It’s common for kids to get upset when asked to go to bed at night, even though it would be a comfortable bed, with heating in the house and food on the table for breakfast the next day. The kids I saw in Nigeria had none of that, they had nothing yet they had  everything. They had no material belongings, what they did have was a whole lot of love and friendship.

So love and friendship was part of what made them happy. This was the epiphany I had that week, the realisation that we don’t need things for happiness. I wasn’t overly materialistic yet I’d never really understood that belongings and things don’t make a person happy and can ultimately lead to unhappiness.

“The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.” – Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

It’s been 20 years since that time and it’s still one of the best life lessons I’ve had. A lesson that’s stuck with me, one I’m passing on to my own children as best I can.

Anytime I find myself upset over losing something or not being able to get what I want, I think back to those kids I saw in Kano and remember I already have everything I need.

“You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.” – Vernon Howard