I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

So it’s probably time for an update on the big plan to change my life.

day 29 - international kiki day

I’ve heard back from Austria and, all being well, I should be fine for staying on there after my TTC (Teacher Training Course). I’ve sent the application anyway, so now it’s just a question of seeing how both sides feel during the TTC. I want to stay for 8 weeks, doing 8 hours of karma yoga (work) a day. That shouldn’t change, I don’t anticipate any problems, but you never know. I’ll be booking my flight back for the 25th of November anyway.

After that I’m going to start making my way round the world. I think maybe 3 weeks in California (San Francisco), with one of those weeks on silent meditative retreat at a cabin in the woods.

Then it’s off to Oz on about the 19th/20th December to spend Christmas at my boyo’s place near Perth. Stick around there until the new year, then head east. See some friends, chill out a bit, find some retreat to go to. 2013 is where the plan gets ultra vague.

the warlock of firetop mountain

I’m not getting too stressed about organising the after Austria part of the plan. That’s just stuff I can book, so there’s nothing needs doing on that apart from laying down the cash. I might not even book it until I come back from Austria. In fact I won’t unless there’s significant savings to be had. That’s something I need to check out this week.

Been delayed in my planning because of work. On the last of my night shifts this week and, man, is it tiring! I mean they were hard enough before, but now I know I’m leaving I can barely keep my eyes open. I just want them over with.

Got just two more to do, then 2 weeks of mid shifts (7 shifts, 11am-11pm), and that’s me done. I finish on the 23rd of August, which gives me 1 week to pack, move, dispose of my car oop norf, before jetting off to the Alps for 3 months. Crazy huh? Been planning this Brand New Life for ages and now it’s finally happening!

I don’t know what the future will bring (who does) but I look forward to finding out. Just 27 days to go and the adventure begins! Wish me luck. šŸ˜€

So… Where Was I?

Right! Regular readers out there will know I’m well past due an updated on my life changing plans and blah blah blah. Well, let’s see shall we?

the death of analogue

As I think I mentioned previously work have decided to turn down my sabbatical request. It seems that spiritual development, charity work, and visiting family overseas is insufficient reason to give someone time off. That, or they think I do a shit job and will be glad to see the back of me. Either way, see the back of me they will. If they don’t give enough of a damn to want to retain me services I’d be a damn fool to stay there, wouldn’t I.

So I’m gonna book the yoga teacher training course in Austria in September, which will cost about Ā£2000. Quite a hunk of dough, but I can afford it. For one thing, I’ll be moving out of my flat at the end of August, and putting all my stuff into storage, so that’ll save me Ā£5-600 quid.

morning reflections

It’s been a cosy place to live, cheap, warm, free from aggro, and it’s meant I could save a lot of money up to go do stuff with. But it’s also quite small, and a bit damp, and it needs decorating, and there’s crazy neighbours, and mice, and all that kind of things. So I may as well take the opportunity of being away for a month to make a move, and hopefully end up with something better (with more than one room, lol).

Basically, though a big part of me feels sad at having to say goodbye, this place has been good to me, it’s time to move on I reckon. Otherwise I’ll turn round one day to find myself a forty-something bachelor living in rented accommodation with no view and a kitchen where half your stuff ends up on the floor coz there’s nowhere to put it all.

sneaky shot 2

And that’s the other reason I’ve got to jack in the job and get out in the world again too, wimmin! Shift work is not conducive to finding, starting, or having a relationship. You’re off when everyone else is working, asleep when everyone else is awake, and even your friends don’t call as much as they used to because you’ve had to say no one too many times.

So for my own sanity, my own future, and for the warmth of my own bed, I need to make a change.

a guide to the girl guides' maze

Hmm… kind of feels like I’ve gone a bit off topic there, so let’s recap.

Jack in the job end of August. Go do TTC in Austria. October/November I want to spend in an ashram practicing yoga/meditation/etc. Then off to Oz for a month or so in December, to just travel and have a bit of a holiday. And then after that, who knows?

I have got this idea brewing that I’ll spend a year writing. I’m not sure where yet, but it’d be between my 39th and 40th birthdays (8th of February 2013/2014 respectively). I’d bookend it with riding an elephant and seeing the northern lights, the two things I want to do most in the world. I just think that, if I really want to write, I should have a good go at it, see if I’ve got what it takes. I mean, I know I can write! But can I get published?

if only...

So that’s where we are at the moment. Still a little vague I know, but there should be some clarification in the coming weeks. A friend of mine is a life coach, and we’re going to do a little exchange of services. In return for my teaching her some Tai Chi she’s going to do some exercises with me to help me understand what I do and don’t want to do. Hopefully once that’s happened I’ll have some more news for y’awl.

It’s all very exciting, and a little nerve wracking too. But aren’t the best things always that way a little? Butterflies in your stomach as you approach the girl at the bar. Packing your things to move somewhere new, not knowing how things will be when you get there. It can be difficult stepping out of your comfort zone, giving up the apparent safety you’ve built up around yourself. But if you only do what you’ve always done, you’ll only have what you’ve already got; and I don’t know about the rest of you, but there’s only so many nights I can sit at home eating chips and watching DVDs before I start to wonder if I’m wasting my life? (top tip: the answer is… yes!) šŸ˜‰

Where To’s That Then?

(brace yourselves, this is a long ‘un – oo-err missus! :P)

Oh Spring, where have you been? Away for so long, I thought you’d never get here!

tree flower

But now finally the equinox has come and gone, the days are longer, the nights shorter, the sun is out, and we’re about to go into summer time for 2012. Oh yes, things are looking up! That’s up as far as the weather is concerned anyway. Elsewhere the forecast is not so bright.

Work are humming and harring a little about giving me a sabbatical. They’ve sent me a list of questions, the general gist of which is “How will this effect the company?” and “What’s in it for us?” Now of course I’ll answer their questions in detail, but I just get the feeling they’re gearing themselves up to say no.

If they do though I’m pretty sure I’m going to take some time off work anyway (ie: hand in my notice). I mean if it’s a choice between that and my gravestone reading:

Here’s Lies Keith Dickinson
He Kept His Job

I know which one I’d prefer!
 
it's boring waiting for the sun to come out
 
Ok, so never mind spring, where the hell have I been? 2 weeks it’s been since my last post. I feel bad for neglecting my blog like that (don’t take it personally, it’s taking me a week just to respond to personal e-mails at the moment). I’ve just been working constantly, trying to make a bit of money to help pay for future shenanigans.

I have been doing other stuff too though, things more in line with My Brand New Life!

For one thing I met up with a friend of many years, Rakka, who I’ve actually never met before in real life. She’s a Flickr Friend, someone I’ve followed for 44 months (literally the third person I started following on there), and a very creative artist and photographer. It was her ‘My Name Is…’ Diego Montoya that caught my attention, and I’ve been an avid fan ever since.

She comes over to the UK once a year or so to get her fix of Britishness (a wee bit of an anglophile she is) and so we reckoned it was high time we met up. Actually we tried to meet last year but she was so ill we had to call it off.

Anyway, we met up in Islington where she and the guy she came over with, Leff, were going to be meeting a famous cat (?). Hey, who am I to judge, lol.

I took my friend Amanda along coz she works in the area and she was highly amused by the idea of meeting up with someone you only know through the online world. Rakka also invited along another online friend of hers, Nathalie, to meet for the first time, as well as another guy they know from the States, Chris, who just happened to be over here, so all told it was a pretty mixed bunch!

I have to say I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. Who knows how you’ll get along when you know someone one way and then meet them in an entirely different context. But I needn’t have been worried. She’s lovely, her friends were lovely, my friend got on with her and her friends, and all in all we managed to prove that the world is indeed just a great big onion, lol.

We had a right laugh once we were comfortably ensconced in the pub (alcohol helps in these kinds of situations, though I’m glad to say the fact that I don’t drink anymore didn’t prove to be a hindrance). Topics of conversation included (but weren’t limited to):

* Which parts of the UK are like which parts of America? – The North of England is like the Deep South (apparently, though I contest this a little), London and Edinburgh are like New York and L.A., and Leicestershire is like Ohio (ie: boring, hehehe ;))

* Icelandic Emo Ponies (or Ice Po’s, as we called them) – check out this link if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

* Portlandia – “It’s true. It’s all true!! They think they’re making a joke but they’re not, that’s what it’s like!!!

And…

* Sexy Neaderthals – Which is just so (unintentionally) hilarious! You’ve got to check it out. Just be sure to stick with it to the end.


 
As you can tell, we had fun. It was so great meeting up with everyone, I’m so glad we did it, and it just goes to prove the old adage –

‘There’s no such thing as strangers, just friends you’ve not yet met.’

 
So, apart from that, what else is going on? I’ve been writing a bit, which is nice. Actually coming up with some good stuff at the moment. The hard part is finding the time to write. For example I haven’t had time to do anything yet today, it’s nearly midnight, and I’ve got work tomorrow. Not conducive to good output. But that’s just an excuse. I need to make the time, and come Monday I will! It’s all good. šŸ™‚

I’ve got a 10 day residential meditation course coming up which I’m really looking forward to. It should be amazing. Very intensive, quite hardcore (up at 4:30am!), but definitely worth it. Can’t wait to see what I learn from it.

Between now and then it’s just work work work. Might get some cooking done, in fact I better! I’ve bought the domain name http://www.myveganlife.co.uk (which you can type into your browser but it just leads you back here at the moment, lol) and I’m going to start an all vegan blog which I’ll be launching in a month or two (haven’t even started building it yet!). It’ll be the public face for all my cooking shenanigans.

Don’t worry, I’ll keep this little baby going. This is where I come to share silly things, make dick jokes, and talk about all the weird stuff I got going on. I just need somewhere I can build into a ‘proper’ foody site that people can really enjoy (and that might lead somewhere in the future). Coz that’s the one thing all this faffing about with work has taught me, that not only does no one get rich working for other people, and if you always do what you’ve always done then you’ll always get what you’ve already got, but if you don’t do it now, then when?

So it’s time to crack on! Who’s with me??? šŸ™‚

…and a Happy New Year

Start as you mean to go on they say. I started 2012 by sleeping til gone noon, then lazing about the flat playing online games and watching movies. So, a lot like 2011 then, lol. šŸ˜‰

Ok, technically I started 2012 at the Sivananda Yoga Centre enjoying their new years eve celebrations. I went along early, did some cooking, some cleaning, a yoga class, then stayed for the puja, meal, and chanting for world peace into the new year.

It was a lovely evening, made all the more lovely by the company of good friends, the fine food, and just the all round happiness and positivity of the occasion. I’m really glad I went as it was an excellent start to the year, a year that hopefully holds a great deal of change for little ol’ me.

If all goes as planned, by this time next year I’ll be a trained yoga teacher with some experience, I’ll have visited Austria, Canada and Australia, and I’ll be contemplating a trip to Thailand to ride an elephant before heading back to Europe to see the northern lights. Then… well, who knows?

Of course, as they say, if you want to make God laugh tell her your plans. But still, you’ve got to give it a go because the alternative (same ol’ same ol’, day in, day out) just doesn’t bear thinking about does it.

last bit of christmas cake

I’ve made just 2 resolutions to kick off the new year. First is to meditate every day. That is the one area where I need most work. I want to do just half an hour a day. If I can manage to do that for 366 days (it’s a leap year this year, remember) I will consider it a significant victory.

My second is just for a month, but it’s to cook everything from scratch, and to not eat ready made overly processed foods all the time. I mean I don’t do too badly, but every day there’s a hash brown or Linda McCartney sausage in there somewhere (usually at the same time – oh Full English, how I love thee!). I’m going to make all my food myself for a while, thereby avoiding nasty stuff, convenience eating, and taking sandwiches to work every day.

Apart from all that my ongoing plans still revolve around writing, vegan cooking, and going out and having fun. Expect some developments on each one of these very soon!

And so there you go, that’s it from me for now. Actually, I think that’s enough to be going on with, don’t you? Happy New Year everyone. I hope you have a great and wonderful 2012!

Om Namah Shivaya. šŸ™‚

Disaster Recovery

Ok, “Disaster Recovery” is probably a bit over dramatic. It’s just a phrase you hear often in TV for dealing with any number of transmission problems – power cuts, terrorist attacks, a plane landing on top of you – and I just like the sound of it. šŸ™‚

sword practice

I’ve been dealing with my own ‘disaster’ recently, what with the whole ear thing. Man, you wouldn’t believe how debilitating it is not being able to balance! (or maybe you would) When it happened I couldn’t even roll over in bed without feeling like I was going to fall over, and going to the shops was an interesting experience to say the least. I felt like I was walking on marshmallows a lot of the time, and I had to be extra careful to keep my head level and not look around too quickly just in case.

I had over a week off work and even when I went back I still wasn’t quite right. In fact it was just yesterday, 2 weeks after it came on, that I finally felt like my old self once again. So far today there’s been no sign of it but I’m watching out to be sure I’m not just being overly optimistic.

xmas at tunch's

All set for Christmas? I’ve got all my presents (well, I’ve ordered all my presents – still waiting for 2 of them to get delivered). As always I’m working Christmas Day itself, so I’ll be heading up to Carlisle on the 17th for a few days to see the family. Plan on driving up which will be epic (about 5-6 hours) but it’ll be so good to have my own car when I’m there. My parents live in a village so if I want to go anywhere I have to get a lift or public transport, and that sucks, so this year I’m going vehicular, lol. You know it makes sense.

3 for 2

I just realised that I finished part 2 of my book over 2 months ago and I’ve done almost nothing since! (a couple of pages but that’s it) This is not good. I mean, I can account for about 3 weeks of that with the meditation course and felling ill, but still I should have done more in the time I’ve had. Time to pull my finger out methinks.

an englishman at the seaside

I’m in the process of figuring out what I want to do for my sabbatical. Work have agreed to it in principal, now I just need to decide when I want it for how long. The plan in general is 1 month doing the Sivananda Teacher Training Course in Austria, followed by a month or two just working and practicing at one of their Ashrams (though which one is the big question), then I might take some time off and travel a wee bit. I’m thinking maybe Australia as I’ve got some friends and family down there, and it’d be a good jumping off point for hitting Thailand.

There’s two things I really want to do in life – see the northern lights and ride an elephant – and if I’m in Oz then Thailand seems to be the place to do it (ride an heffalump that is, obviously). Just found out I’ve got the offer of somewhere to stay out there for the next year so it’s a golden opportunity. And it ties in quite nicely with heading back this way from the Land of Milk and Honey. And that brings me back to Europe just in time for Aurora Borealis season.

So I’m thinking:

August – TTC
September – Ashram work
October – Ashram work
November – Australia
December – Australia/Thailand
January – Aurora Borealis

It’s still a little sketchy as I don’t really want to spend 2 months traveling (being somewhere without something specific to do bores me). The question is where do I want to spend Christmas? How long do I want to be away really? And what do I want to do when I get back? (ok, that’s 3 questions)

I might take a year off, spend 5-6 months away, then come back, find somewhere cheap to rent, and spend 6 months just writing and see if I can make a go of that. Back in the UK in the middle of winter with nowhere to live? Not very tempting.

And can I afford all that (without spend all my savings)? As you can see there’s a lot to figure out. But I’ll get there, I have to, because if there’s one things all this being ill has taught me recently it’s you’ve got to go out there and enjoy what you do! Because no one is immortal, and people who stay home, stay safe, pay all their bills and plan for the future die just as often as people who go out there, have fun, and enjoy themselves.

Definitely, maybe…

Ok, so what have I decided?

Nothing, that’s what. I know I said I’d be making a decision at the end of the month and blah blah blah, but the truth is I haven’t. I’ve come to some conclusions, some things have just happened, and some things are still undecided. So with that in mind let’s have a quick look at what’s what.

I’m not moving house any time soon. I’m probably going to be here until the start of next year at least.

I’m going to do the TTC in Austria in August. I’m in two minds about Buddhafield. I don’t know if I want to go away before or after all that, if at all.

I’ve signed up for a one week meditation course in November which should give me a good idea of what it would be like to be a live in karma yogi. I’m going to do a meditation based 30 day challenge leading up to that. I definitely need to meditate more.

I also need to write more. Writing is my way out, and I need to be more disciplined in how I go about it.

Working for other people is a mugs game. If you’re going to live within the confines of a capitalist society you have to work for yourself, it’s the only way that makes sense.

I’m seriously thinking about spinning off a vegan blog. It will give me more impetus to come up with new recipes, possibly leading to a cook book, and provide me with a forum to sell the recipe cards I’ve been working on.

recipe card outtake 2
(recipe card out take)

And… that’s it. I’m not going to fill the rest of this post with pie in the sky drivel. Those are the things I’m actually going to do, with just the vegan blog and Buddhafield being the only uncertainties in there. I’ve got five days off next week, which will give me time to catch up on my writing a bit. And then the next 30 days challenge begins on Wednesday the 12th, so keep an eye out for that.

For now I’m off to bed. It’s been a long weekend already, and I have to get up at 6am to go to work… again. I’m telling you, whatever else I do, IĀ need to get away from this job!

A General Update

It’s been a long time since I did an all round update of my pursuit for a Brand New Life. The reason for that is simple, I’ve been out doing stuff. I’ve also been avoiding going on about things too much so as to avoid a false sense of achievement, as outlined in this video (check it out, it’s only a few minutes long).

My avid readers (all 3 of you) will know what I’ve been up to – yoga retreats, green man, a gig or two – and those who can will remember that I said I would be making some changes soon, but that I was putting off any final decisions until the end of September.

Well, the end of the month is fast approaching, and it’s decision time. And what conclusions have I come to? Not as many as I should (maybe).

I know I’m going to do the Sivananda Teacher Training Course, probably in Austria in August, and I’m very tempted to do the Buddhafield Festival set-up in July, but what about between now and then?

I could stay in work, get some cash together, then quit come the summer. Or I could quit, go traveling – Australia and Canada spring to mind – and maybe do 3 months karma yoga at an ashram. Or I could do the karma yoga after the TTC (my preferred choice), but then what after?

Of course I’m just spouting hypotheticals at the moment. I’m not looking for answers from you guys. When it’s the right time the solution will present itself. The Universe has a funny way of doing that when you’re on the right path. And I do feel like I’m on the right path, even if I have to hack through a few weeds for a while.

The quandary, if there is one, is giving up the job. Not only is it the security of a regular (and pretty decent) wage, but it’s nice to be able to just go out and get whatever I want. Like getting my car fixed – Ā£518:06 – or buying a new camera – Ā£203:67. Even being able to go get a haircut whenever I want and not have to choose between that and train fare (believe me, there have been times…!). But when I think of the alternative, to stay ‘secure’ and never go for it, a shiver runs down my spine.

Anyway, that’s where I am at the moment. Unclear I know, but that’s the way it is unfortunately. I’ll post my decision on Friday, in the meantime here’s a few observances and updates on what’s happened this week.

A Spiritual Test

It’s one of the 5 basic precepts of Buddhism that you never lie. Now, I was in work Thursday, when I really could have done with the day off. I had lots to do, and I knew that my being in work meant nothing to anyone (the nature of the shift that day was that there was nothing for me to do). I was very tempted to call in sick.

But I couldn’t do it. To do so would be a lie, and as a friend of mine is discovering at the moment, lies only cause you trouble. And what did I get for my diligence? 11 hours of pure tedium and a journey home that took an hour and a half and was full of drunks and dodgy situations. I’d have been better off if I’d chucked a sickie (or so it seems).

I guess if you’re going to try and live a more spiritual life sometimes you have to take the rough with the smooth. Or better yet, find a way to see it all as smooth, no matter what. Now there’s an idea.

Tell you what though, I’m never getting the train to work again. It’s downright dangerous!

Making Choices

Our one freedom in life is choice. In fact it’s the ultimate freedom, that’s why people try and take it away from you all the time (don’t ever take it away from yourself!).

I was going to do a meditation retreat today. 6 hours just… meditating. I want to do more meditation. I feel that’s an important part of my path. But when it came right down to it I just didn’t want to go.

I’ve been in need of a proper day off for ages. A chance to stay in, read, drink tea, watch a DVD and eat pizza, and so that’s what I did. But I couldn’t do nothing, that would have been a waste, so after organazizing (sic) my life I planted some cherry trees.

cherry, tomatoes

Ok, so they’ve got a long way to go. More just pips than trees at the moment. But one day they’ll be big, beautiful, cherry trees, and I’ll plant them along the drive down to my gorgeous house in the countryside. And every spring, when I come home, I’ll drive down an avenue of tumbling cherry blossoms, and it will make me smile.

Heck, I’m smiling already. Om everyone.

šŸ™‚