Ask Yourself Why?

This fascinating presentation by the South American business man and entrepreneur Ricardo Semler asks a lot of great questions about work, life, and what it’s all about (it’s also pretty funny too!).
 


 
It certainly gave me a lot to think about.

I had an interesting chat today with a guy I used to work with a couple of years ago. We both spent a long time at the same company, and we were both generally (but not specifically) miserable for a great number of those years.

As with all these things, it’s only once you get away and look back do you realise just how unhappy you were, and you wonder why you put up with it for so long?

Thinking about it, it occurred to me it’s like the frog in a pan of water on a low heat. Turn the heat up slowly and frog will boil to death before he even realises what’s going on. But try to toss him into some already boiling water and he’ll jump straight out again!

So it is with unhappy situations. The really terrible ones are so shocking we escape from them immediately. The truly nasty, pernicious ones worm there way deep down inside us without us even realising it (often until we explode and don’t understand why?).

I got out by choice, training as a yoga teacher and then going traveling round the world. One of the best decisions I ever made. My friend had a little less of a choice about his exit, which made it a much harder and more painful experience for him.

But looking back now he truly believes it was the best thing that could have happened to him (work-wise, at least). He’s happier now, he’s about to embark upon his own business venture, and to quote him directly, he feels that “…a great weight has been lifted from [his] shoulders.”

Change can be hard, especially when it’s not by choice, but if we can take that change, build on it, and come out the other end with something that benefits us, then it makes it all worthwhile.

That’s what I think anyway. 🙂

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes…

Well, the pigeons got their revenge!

After my accidental obliteration of one of their brethren a bunch of them got together and decided it’d be a good idea to sh*t all over the hood of my car. Not a problem you might think, just get the car washed. But no! Pigeon poop is like acid. Take that, plus one of the hottest days of the year so far, and you get a lot of dropping shaped damage to your paintwork. I’m hoping T-Cut will be able to sort it out, but if not we’re looking at a re-spray.

Talk about instant karma (not that there should have been any. I didn’t kill the pigeon deliberately).

Had a few Olympic moments this past week, from seeing the torch come over Kew Bridge,

torchy torchy

to weird adverts in foreign languages appearing on the side of double decker buses,

got drink?

to seeing the opening ceremony on Friday night.

My quick capsule review: not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Yes a lot of silly English in jokes, but done well I reckon. Got a bit confusing in places, like when the Arctic Monkeys showed up after the parade of athletes, but all in all hats off to Danny Boyle for producing something pretty decent. It was a lot better than Slumdog Millionaire anyway.

Still no major changes to my plans yet. I keep striking out on finding places to go do some volunteer work. Looks like I’m going to have to cast a wider net. Still waiting to hear from the TTC in Austria, see if I can stay on there after the course, help out for a bit; and if not I might try France, see if they need anybody.

I can’t believe I’m having such a hard time giving my time away. I’m willing to work for free, full time. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that? Yes I’ve had one or two offers of places if I’m willing to pay, but that doesn’t work for me. If I’m paying (and it’s not a course) I want a holiday. If I’m working I’m worth the board and lodging, and I’m not paying for the privilege. Simple really.

It’ll all work out eventually. Whatever happens in life, you always end up doing something. And you know the bit I’m looking forward to the most? Putting all my stuff in storage. I can’t wait to divest myself of all this clutter and just travel light for a while. It’s gonna be a blast! 🙂

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!). 🙂

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. 😉

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 – £518:06 – or buying a new camera – £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.

🙂

You’re All Going To Die!

Relax, this isn’t my declaration of intent before I go postal and do something loony at work. Actually it’s a quote from the film Zulu (the quintessential Sunday afternoon movie if ever there was one!). It always pops in my head when I think about mortality and our approach to it.

dalston church

Generally we don’t think about dying. Sure we acknowledge the fact in our own way, but really we kind of pretend that death is something that happens to other people, or that when it happens to us it’ll be some time in the far distant future.

But death can come at any time. It’s trite to say, but it’s true, you could get run over by a bus tomorrow. The psychiatrist RD Lang once said

“Life is a sexually transmitted disease and the mortality rate is one hundred percent.”

To help them understand the impermenance of the human body Buddhist monks will sometimes sit and contemplate a rotting corpse, so that they can come to understand the transitory nature of life. Yet with life able to end so swiftly why do we choose to fill it with such worthless moments.

We go to work and get angry about things that don’t really matter. We spend our lives in misery worrying about things that aren’t necessarily real, or at least no more real than anything else. This is what we choose to do with our time, and we do it without thinking, unless something happens to snap us out of it.

It is a staple of cinema to have the life changing experience. The moment that shakes someone out of their mindless stupor and onto the road of adventure. I’ve mentioned this before when I wrote about the movie Stranger Than Fiction; a guy knows his death is imminent so he asks his best friend “What would you do if you knew you were going to die?” Well that’s just it, you are going to die, we all are, so why don’t we act accordingly?

dead mouse

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to try and keep this idea in mind from now on. I always think there’s a tomorrow, that I can do it (whatever ‘it’ is) some time in the future. But this is your starting point, right here, right now. Whatever it is, if it’s worth doing, now is the time to do it!

So don’t waste your time. Make sure you enjoy the life you’ve chosen for yourself, because otherwise what’s the point? For me that means changing my job, doing more interesting things, meeting more nice people, and asking this girl out I fancy because I know I’ll regret it if I don’t.

When I was 24 I had this job managing the runners at a post production house in Soho. I hated it. The boss was, like many bosses, a mean, nasty little man who ran his company through fear and intimidation. I wanted to quit, and do it in a very vocal manner to his face! But everyone advised me to wait, to bide my time, to find another job before I did something like that. Everyone, except for one person.

It was the guy who came to fix the lift. I got on really well with him, we always had nice chats when he came around. One day when he came I was particularly pissed off. He said “Come with me,” and we took the lift up to the top floor where he dropped it down a level, opened the doors, and we climbed on top so that he could inspect the doors from the inside as it went back down again.

Traveling down I told him what was up and he said one of the most memorable things anyone has ever said to me. He said,

“Next time you get angry, and want to quit, do it! Because when you’re old and gray those are the memories that’ll put a smile on your face. And don’t worry about work. You’re a smart lad, you’ll find something. Even if it’s just sweeping the streets for a while.”

I’ll never forget that day. I promised myself that next time I felt like having a go at the boss I would. As it happens one of my many job applications hit not long after that, so I didn’t have to, but just the idea of it, the idea of being able to do that, meant a lot to me.

Y’know, I haven’t thought about that day in a long time. Here’s me going on that you don’t need life changing moments, and yet there I am with one sitting in my back pocket. Maybe it’s time I heeded the advice and made some major changes. What’s the worst that could happen? 😉

And to finish, here’s the scene from Zulu with the quote in it I mentioned above. My apologies for the incorrect aspect ratio. Out of my control I’m afraid.

A Flying Visit

So much has been going on lately, both in the world and in my life, I must apologise for my blog negligence (“blognigence”?).

First of all I am alive and well. My thanks to all my friends worldwide for their concern when the whole riot thing was going on. I dunno what that was all about but I can assure you, not only do I not live anywhere near where riots might occur, but momma Dickinson didn’t raise no fool; if I even thought a riot was heading my way I’d get the ‘f’ out of there sharpish. I mean I’m all for civil disobedience and that, but that ain’t the way to go about it man. You idiots achieved nothing.

Secondly my summer missions, which started with the Sivananda Yoga Retreat and ended with Go Ape last Wednesday have now come to a close. I’ve got a few little things lined up for September, but for the most part my major (planned) undertakings have come and gone. I’ll be blogging the Buddhafield/Green Man festival thing shortly, once I figure out how to get the pictures off of my phone, but for now I’m settling into a planning/creating phase that should lead me into the start of next year and hopefully yield some interesting results.

With that in mind, I’m starting to get an idea of what/where I want to do/be, instead of what I am doing at the moment. Decision time on the job/flat is still the end of September, which gives me a month to formulate a proper plan, but I think I know what I’m going to do next, I just need to figure out how I’m going to do it.

So it’s all change in the life of Kiki. I really feel like I’m finally moving towards something new, something interesting, something worth getting out of bed in the morning for. Om everyone. Stay tuned for further developments. 🙂

Week 44 : Frustrations

I’ve been trying to decide this week whether to continue with this blog or not. As I come up to 1 year of blogging I have to admit that My Brand New Life has pretty much failed in it’s mission; ie, to generate a brand new life. I’m still in the same job, in the same flat, still single, and still uncertain about where I want to go next.

It hasn’t been a complete loss. I’ve given up drinking booze. Yesterday was my 6 month anniversary of that (not counting a couple of mojitos I had a couple of months ago) and I’m happy with that decision. I’ve also done a lot more writing this year than usual, and I may have a script and/or book finished by the end of the year. And generally I’ve done lots more new stuff that I’ve found quite interesting (full report/examination on December the 6th). But is it enough?

Truthfully, the answer is no, it isn’t. I need to do more to be satisfied. But it’s a start, and that’s better than nothing. Is it enough to keep going with this blog though? Now there’s a question. I’ve already started thinking about doing a vegan specific blog, and if I decide to do a filmy one too what does that leave for here? It is a quandary.

I’d been pondering all this, then I came across this quote:

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you will begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson


I need to let go of what was and move forward from where I am now. Like I tell people when they ask about becoming vegan, you’ve got to forgive yourself. You’re going to make mistakes, what matters is where you go from here. Don’t use them as an excuse to give up, use them as a starting point to begin again.

And so…

I’ve signed up to do a 6 week introductory yoga course at the Sivananda Yoga Centre. I met them at the Yoga Show last Sunday and they were just so nice I had to pop along to their open house yesterday. Again, everyone there was really lovely. The course was very knowledgeable, the introductory lesson nice and simple yet challenging and concise, and I was generally impressed by their warmth, openness and understanding, so much so that I signed up there and then. I’ll have to swap some shifts around to make the classes but it’ll be worth it. I have a feeling I’ll be doing yoga for quite a while.