Live A Better Life

This is an excellent talk on not only how to increase your longevity, but also how to enjoy the years you do have so much more!

It’s by Jane McGonigal, creator of SUPERBETTER.

She starts off talking about games, but quickly goes into tips for better living. All the ideas she offers are real and familiar, and are backed up by real world science. But the absolute bonus are the practical tips and exercises she gives you at the end to help you improve the quality of your life.

It’s very fun and life affirming, and I’m glad I watched it (which is why I’m sharing it here!). πŸ™‚

And because I don’t say it enough, thank you all my friends and followers for checking out my blog, leaving comments, and taking an interest in what I do and what I’m doing to improve my life. It really means a lot to me.

Be happy everyone, and remember to follow your dreams! It’s the only thing that makes any sense in the long run. πŸ˜‰


You’ve got to celebrate your achievements, whatever they may be. Big, small, it doesn’t matter. Enjoy what you do and you’ll always be happy.

I did my first scorpion today. For those that don’t know, it looks a little something like this.

Of course my scorpion was far less impressive and a damn site shakier than the one pictured above, and I needed a little help in getting there, but I did it, I held it, and I’m pretty damn pleased with myself (not to mention a little surprised, lol).

Of course my little achievement is nowhere near as impressive as these guys,

but so what? I did it, I’m happy, and that’s all I care about. πŸ™‚

PS: How ridiculous is that shot?!?

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. πŸ™‚

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.

Reasons To Be Cheerful… 1, 2, 6!

Recently I’ve been concentrating on the negative side of things, and whilst this has been helpful in instigating change, it doesn’t help to wallow. After all, the negative is just one side of the coin. Sometimes you’ve got to accentuate the positive too.

I had a moment today as I strolled through the rain to the shops where I passed under a tree, and the pitter patter of drops on my umbrella ceased briefly.

In an instant I remembered how much I like being outside in the rain (provided I’m under cover that is). I remembered the day when it rained back home, and I took a chair and an umbrella out into the garden and just sat there enjoying the rain and not getting wet.

I was young, it was a simple pleasure, and remembering that made me think of all the other things I enjoy in life. Here, so far, is my list for today.

1. Being outside in the rain

cottage in the woods

I love the atmosphere in the air when there’s a good rain on. If I’m indoors I’ll open a window or a door just to enjoy it. When I build a house I’ll have a massive covered rear doorway so I can open it wide during a rainstorm and enjoy it as much as possible (without getting wet).

2. Cherry flavours

fruit n' cake

Dunno what it is at the moment, but I’m loving all things cherry. Cherry yoghurt, cherry apple juice, no cherries as yet (out of season I think), but it’s just a matter of time.

3. When God wakes me

hyde park at dawn

I hate my alarm. It’s just wrong on so many levels. The best days are when God wakes you. When you rise of your own accord feeling refreshed and alert and ready to enjoy the day.

4. Richard Stark

richard stark

I love his books, not only for what he’s written, but for the inspiration he’s given me to start on a novel of my own for the first time in ages. Seeing that an author can get published for writing such simple, concise, yet gripping stories has been a real eye opener for me, and in many ways has given me permission to value the way in which I write and to do it for the love as much as anything else.

5. Tea

tea at the tate (with soya milk)

There’s nothing like a good cuppa, either with a good book (see above) or, even better, to share with a good friend. Lazy afternoons down the Kitchen Pantry chatting nonsense and dreaming of better things in lovely company; there’s no better way to spend the day.

6. A full English

square meal

If a picture paints a thousand words, then nuff said methinks. πŸ™‚

So what do you enjoy? What makes it worth getting out of bed in the morning?

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

“This means something. This is important.”

You got that right Dick. After his surprise hit withΒ Sugarland Express, and the enormous Jaws (a movie that literally created the Summer Blockbuster!), Close Encounters of the Third Kind pretty much cemented Steven Spielberg’s reputation as the daddy of mainstream cinema. Good job too, because he followed it up with the dire 1941, a movie so bad it would have ended most careers (and famously caused John Wayne to give Spielberg a dressing down for treating war in such a casual, light weight manner – an incident that had great effect on him when making films such as Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan); a career which he pulled out of the bag right afterwards with the outstanding Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Usually alien movies are in either one of two camps – the lone, alien-out-of-water, “Show me more of this earth thing called ‘kissing'”, visiter type; or the suck your brains out, give us your planet, “My God, it’s an invasion!” type. Thankfully, CEOTTK avoids all that, mostly by not showing us the aliens for most of the movie. Oh they’re there, and they make their presence known (in oh so many cool and interesting ways), but we don’t get to see them until the final scene, which of course makes them much more interesting, and scary, than they otherwise would be (a little trick he picked up during the making of Jaws).

Richard Dreyfus turns in an excellent ‘everyman’ performance as Roy Neary, the power company employee who encounters the aliens and can’t stop thinking about them, with Teri Garr as his poor, beleaguered wife who doesn’t know what to make of all this. What would you do if your other half kept going on about aliens and doing weird things with mashed potato? They’ve also got a couple of kids who, as in all Speilberg films, are annoying little brats, but I’ll look the other way for now as they’re not in it very much.

Francois Truffaut is in it too, doing an excellent turn as the French alien ‘expert’, with a nerdy interpeter side-kick played by Bob Balaban (who couldn’t speak a lick of French by the way, but got the part by conning Spielberg into thinking he could – Spielberg wanted a French speaker to play the part – by memorising some lines to do in the audition) – for more info check out his book on the making of Close Encounters, Spielberg, Truffaut & Me.

But for me the real star of this movie is the music by John Williams. He’s a scoring genius, of that there can be no doubt, and his orchestration at the end of the movie is just brilliant. You have to see this film for the final scene alone, it’s just so good! How good? I was in HMV on Oxford Street once, and they were showing Close Encounters on the big screen. When that scene came on, and the music played, I swear the whole top floor of the shop just stopped to watch. Seriously, everyone put their shopping on hold for 2 minutes just to watch, and listen, to the ending on Close Encounters. Now you can’t say fairer than that, can you?

As always, I’ve done my best not to give too much away (note how in the previous paragraph I don’t say exactly why or how it’s a brilliant scene exactly – which kind of undersells it a bit, but I don’t want to spoil anything). I did find a clip of the final scene in fact, which I was dying to put here, but it’s just gives the whole game away. So instead let’s check out Roy meeting some aliens (pardon the spanish subtitles). πŸ™‚

Now if that hasn’t whetted your appetite, I dunno what will!