Wednesday, January 7, 2015

credit where credit is due

Credit where credit is due

At New Year I was questioned about my year without drinking, and because my blog had stopped mid term, had I actually reach my goal.

Well, it gives me great pleasure to announce, (and a little pride), that on 30th September 2014, and after 365 days with out a drop of alcohol, my mission came to an end and I celebrated with an evening of the finest cocktails.

So credit where credit is due! And last night a friend asked me what I got out of the process? Here are a couple of pointers.

If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans – (Mexican proverb)

When I started the process on October 1st 2013, I was clear about two things. By the time the experiment was complete, I would have found the most rewarding, lucrative job on the planet and secondly my psoriasis (that I have had for 20 years) would be totally clear.

You can tell that God is laughing! When I finished the challenge last year, I found myself unemployed and my psoriasis was the worst it has ever been.

That is the bad news.

The good news is the challenge gave me an opportunity to consciously deal with my own shit, without the constant need to find the nearest escape valve. And in doing so I learned the most valuable of lessons…..

If I do what I have always done I am going to get what I have always got

Sobriety rocks!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Head or Heart

So it has been a few weeks since my last post, and I find myself in pretty much the same position and trying to understand what I am going to do work wise. Nothing has really changed; I have moments where my glass is still half full and other times where half empty is an understatement!

I have been working in the field of climate change for the last decade and where my heart still lies. The issue has always been a distinct lack of leadership, and with the recent flooding; the environment is back on the agenda. Understanding what role I should be playing is where I find myself right now and in doing so have been struggling with the fiasco of following ‘head’ or ‘heart’.

My head says, ‘you have responsibilities my friend; a family to support, a mortgage to pay, a car to run etc. What ensues is looking at jobs that are well paid, in my sector, but invariably are in the cities.

The impact might well be job satisfaction, and one would hope financial stability but it comes at a cost, namely; being away from my family during the week and the inevitable stress than brings.

My heart says similar things, but is much more interested in me finding a job locally that allows me to do all of the above and remain a conscious, present father who can watch my kids grow up and be part of the family rather than some misnomer that rocks up every weekend thinking he owns the place!

Frome (Somerset) was voted the 4th best place in the country to live by the Guardian recently, (F%^K knows how), but it is a creative hub, and for whatever reason does seem to be the epi-centre of the universe as we know it!

I have spent the last month following my heart and in the process exhausted every contact I know within a 20 mile radius of Frome and without success. It has not been through lack of trying and therefore I beg the question of whether it is meant to be right now?

The reality is that ‘trusting the process’ is becoming that much more challenging as my options diminish, and although I am a firm believer in following my heart, I am challenging the space as I know it. On saying that I came across the following quote by Simran Khurana and loved it!

If you think with your head, a heart is just an organ that pumps blood. But if you think with your heart, you know that a heart is the core of human existence. A heart feels, emotes, and expresses. With a heart you can perceive, understand, and judge.

Maybe I really do just need to follow my heart and trust in the process!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Right Hook

We never know what surprises are round the corner and a couple of weeks ago I was told by the organisation I worked for, that they had completely run out of money, and my position was untenable.  It was a mighty ‘right hook’ and totally pulled the rug under my feet. Now the reality is I disliked my job, the commute and the salary, but that does not warrant the lack of warning I received, and in turn the lack of security I now have. I mean I only have four kids and a fat mortgage to worry about!

So the issue here is what am I going to do about it? Right now, I haven’t got a fucking clue, but tomorrow I probably will. I have the best part of 3 weeks to turn this around and if I don’t find a descent job, I will turn my hand to painting and decorating which has always got me out of a pickle in the past.

This is a universal dilemma when we receive bad news. It doesn’t matter if you have; split from a loved one, developed a critical illness or lost a job. There are only two responses possible and either your glass is half full or it’s half empty. Or put another way, you either rise to the challenge and remain positive or fall into being a victim. The reality is that most of us find ourselves somewhere between the two, which is where I find myself right now. Slightly of the schizophrenic variety, where one moment I am in middle of a mid-life opportunity and the sun is shining or get me an hour later and I am firmly having a mid life crisis and have reverted to a puddle on the floor!

I don’t need to go into detail of my strategy (unless someone out there has a cracking job for me :), but what I know is that not drinking has played a fundamental part in which of the two camps I spend the majority of my time. It would be much easier for me to go home tonight and crack open a beer, run for the hills and escape from the realities I am dealing with. Choosing not to enables me to go home and face the music, which in a nutshell is one of feeling incredibly vulnerable and insecure.

If life is a lesson in itself, then feeling into that pain is where I am going to find the treasure and although easier said than done there is an old adage that states ‘out of chaos, magic happens!‘ – I just wish it would hurry up J

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

commit and let providence follow

And he is back….. OK it's the 14th of Jan and not the 1st but it's a start!

Why am I finding this blog so difficult? Probably something around being a Virgo and everything has to be so f&^%$ing perfect all the time. Maybe it’s just a simple commitment issue, or perhaps a combination of the two. But the pattern is familiar, with the net result being I have so many great ideas, which never get completed.

So my new years resolution is not to give a damn what people think, commit and just see what happens. Take a risk!

So I had a sober Christmas and New Year, which was odd to say the least, but it allowed me to take stock of how I was really feeling. New Years eve, Zoe went out and I ended up baby-sitting.

Without wanting to sound like some kind of martyr, it was out of choice, but I did what I wanted and it felt good. I spent the evening visualising how I wanted 2014 to be, acknowledged how great I felt to have given up drinking and at midnight did a meditation. 

I must admit I did pat myself on the back a couple of times, but the message here is that by following my heart, and actually doing what I wanted, (rather than what other people might expect,) I had the perfect evening.

And that after all is why I am writing the blog, to capture those subtle changes and in doing so change the rhetoric that has kept me down the rabbit hole for too long. Its also an opportunity to test that old age adage of ‘commit and let providence follow! Or put a slightly more eloquent way,

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness, concerning all acts of initiative [and creation]. There is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans; that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. 

A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe/ Sir Edmund Hillary

Happy New Year Groovers!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Removing the Mask

I have had many a defining moment in my life; driving overland back from India on my 1965 Enfield, crashing into the sea in a helicopter whilst filming in Dubai and last week going to my great mates Joseph’s 40th and being sober!

For those who don’t drink this is not a big issue, but for those that do, big social occasions such as these, are so much easier to cope with ‘armed and dangerous’.


I guess, because it offers an opportunity to put on a mask, and escape from the rigmarole of daily life. We can conjure up a new fa├žade that makes us feel more special, beautiful, confident, but invariably has the opposite effect. The mask fills the void - that uncomfortable place where our emotions are real and raw, and present themselves as; fear, insecurity, loneliness, abandonment etc. And it is precisely those emotions that need to be acknowledged and nurtured because they are real and who we are. The mask just helps us hide from these.

The reason why this is so prevalent for me right now is because the man behind the mask I know so well. He is my shadow - the ‘party man’, and we are great friends and have been on many journeys together. But my challenge right now is how much does this ‘mask’ serve me and more importantly who am I without it? The honest answer is I don’t have a clue, but I am willing to find out.

Anyway, back to the party………

We had hired a house down on the coast where the sea lapped at our feet. It was really good friends from far and wide coming together to bless and honour one man’s birthday. We had the band, the dj’s, the kegs of beer, cases of wine, and of course my favourite – fine tequila.

It is precisely this scene that warrants the mask. How am I going to get through this without some assistance? Under normal circumstances, it is precisely at this stage that the most over whelming feeling takes over and I decide to have a drink. There is a  little gremlin which sits behind my right ear and is better known as the ‘fuck it switch’, whereby I instinctively go against my better judgment and invariably have a drink or roll a smoke.

But something changed for me this night and when that gremlin showed itself, I took myself down to the sea and took a few deep breaths, felt my feet on the ground and the wind in my hair and gave myself a little talking to.

It went something along the lines of, ‘if you want to go back up there and pour yourself a pint and get stuck in it is entirely your choice and no body is stopping you. But the challenge is that you will fall back down the rabbit hole, which is exactly where you do not want to be. Why would you consciously do that?

So I guess that is where the self-sabotage comes in. 99% of the time, the urge to put on the mask is so strong and very often sub-conscious, and I end up getting fairly smashed, waking up with a hang over from hell and regretting the night before.

So it felt good to have broken the habit,  I was in bed by midnight and woke up clear as a bell feeling like I had a real break through.

I have said from the beginning that this is an experiment and what I noticed just from that night alone is that I was much more present, grounded, interested and the impact was that I talked to people that I would normally have given a wide berth, and consequently were enriched by their stories. I woke up clear as a bell and was able to engage with my four kids fully rather than nursing a hang over and best of all I followed my heart and it felt good.

Wishing everyone a wild wacky Christmas, ‘pissed as a fart,’ ‘high as a kite’ or  ‘sober as a judge’ - we are all on our own journeys !