August! An emotional month.

Vialetters live at Humber Street Sesh 2019

I always knew it would be an emotional one, especially with the background that is going on in my family (something I alluded to in previous blogs, but do not yet want to go into details).

The month started with a bang, when Ben (the Bass player on the right in the picture above) and with the Vialetters played Humber Street Sesh (our local festival and smashed it. It was truly a proud moment, and must admit I did shed a tear when I looked around and saw how many people were watching and cheering them on.

As well as that Jack (my youngest) whose band where not quite ready for this years Sesh volunteered during the festival, helping to set it up and manned one of the stages. I know it is a bit sentimental, but I feel so blessed to have such amazingly talented and generous sons.

What a wonderful weekend that was.

Then halfway through the month Ben got his ‘A’Level results and secured his place at BIMM Manchester (British and Irish Modern Music Institute) to study Music Journalism, which was his first choice. That was a strange day, I was immensely proud of what he had achieved, but was tinged with sadness, with the realisation that he was really going to be leaving home.

To top this Vialetters have managed to secure 2 pretty amazing support gigs. The first is on the 14th September playing at Bonus Arena Hull (the biggest venue they have ever played in) supporting a local band Bud Sugar, and the other is supporting one of the most exciting new bands in the country, Cassia in October. I tell you my head is beginning to spin.

This week (all too fast) Ben left home to move into his shared house in Manchester. He has gone early to settle into the area and find a job. The prospect of him leaving was heartbreaking. Since he has left, I think I have spoken to him more frequently than I did when he lived here (mostly my doing). I am sad for me and Lisa as our life has to change and that is difficult to adjust to, as we all love to cling on to what is familiar and comfortable. On the other hand I am excited for Ben and so proud of the young man he has become. So I will cry as I mark the passing of my old life and smile at the opportunities my new life brings. After all we have to do this all again with Jack next year. I am starting to cry just thinking about it.

Yesterday myself and Lisa traveled to Manchester to take the rest of Ben’s stuff, and take him shopping. We went out for lunch with Ben and Liv (his girlfriend, who is staying with him for a few days, I think to organise him) and they took us to a vegan diner. That was a first for me, I am still not quite sure what to make of it. It was nice enough but it is still resting heavy and I fear it might take a few days to digest. His house is really nice and is just on the edge of Manchester City centre. You can see the skyscape of Manchester changing from his bedroom window.

You can just make out the Hilton in the distance

Before we came back we did a food (inc Beer and Wine) shop with him and Liv. I found that really stressful and emotional. I am still trying to understand what I was feeling during that shop. It might be coming to term with endings and leaving him behind, I am not sure. What I do know is, that I am proud of the man I helped forge, and I am certain he will be all he wants to be. I think the hard part is playing less part in that and not always be able to witness his life first hand.

In my own world there is potentially some exciting news coming up, I am reluctant to share publicly yet, but once I have more details I will share.

What a life-changing month this has been.

My writing has taken a back seat recently, and my book is collecting dust. I will get back to it soon, once I get my mojo back and clearly define my new direction and purpose.

Onwards and upwards. Follow your interest and realise your dream.

We all have a choice

I read a tweet this morning by Paul McGee (@TheSumoGuy) that invited us to make a choice today. We could choose to be grumpy about whatever was irritating us or getting in the way of our life, or choose to be grateful for what we have and what is around us.

I was out walking the dog when I read this tweet and it made me think of my surroundings and look around at the beauty of where I live. I took this picture.

Now to you, you might be thinking, that is nothing special, but to me it sums up a walk through my village on a Sunday morning in the summer, and how lucky I am to live here. 2 minutes earlier I had been irritated by someone saying something annoying on Facebook and by my dogs insistence on sniffing every blade of grass. This tweet reminded me to not forget the reasons to be grateful.

I and I am sure most of you find it easy to focus on the negative, to expect the worst, look for what is going wrong, expect that people cannot be bothered to do a good job. This is our default setting, this was how we were taught to think. These neural pathways have been trodden on for years. So seeing life through an alternative lense is not easy, new pathways need to be formed. Also it would not be helpful at all to have a wholly positive outlook in life, for one you will seriously piss off your friends and family and two it is just dangerous, you have to keep your threat sensors on. The world is tough so you must be aware of dangers around you.

What is important is to have a choice, of an appropriate response and give equal air time to the negative and the positive.

There is a lot in my life right now that makes me feel sad and grumpy, and so it should because it is horrible, so I have been practicing everyday to give it air time, to appreciate the emotion, but not to stay there for too long. I have been trying to look for what there is right now to be grateful for, and boy there is an awful lot to be grateful for, in fact a lot more than there is to make me grumpy or sad.

The stuff that makes me really sad is important and big but is out of my control, so all I can do is articulate what I am feeling and give it the attention it deserves, amazingly that gives me the space, and energy to appreciate all the wonderfulness I have in my life. So in a way I am grateful for the bad stuff, as it has made me really examine what matters to me, I wish it hadn’t happened but it has and therefore I need to accept what it is, and move on. So I have chosen to be grateful, but only when I have chance to be grumpy. Being grumpy takes me to the place where I can see what I am grateful for.

Thank you @thesumoguy for your inspiration.

You know what? I might just be living my dream.

If you are a regular reader of my blog you may have noticed that is has been a different kind of week for me. The big giveaway is that I have blogged 6 out of 7 days. It has been pretty special, not amazing, but pretty special.

The most notable thing this week has been that I have spent the vast majority of the time in the present. Being in the present and appreciating what was happening in real time, has actually made my future prospects far more attractive and much less scary.

I said at the beginning of the week that I still had some residual tension and that I could feel that in my jaw. As I have been writing this, this morning I have just checked in with my body, I have got no fingernail marks in the palm of my hands, my jaw is relaxed and I don’t have that faint feeling of nausea I usually experience in the morning. In other words Foggy has got his feet up and is having a snooze. He is content that he is not needed at the moment. Everything is on an even keel, he is particular dose of realism is not required.

Now I am not saying I am really happy, and that is the point, that is why Foggy has got his feet up. I am neither ecstatic or miserable, I am just content to allow both emotions the space they have in my mind. I have not suddenly reached another plain of consciousness, I am not sat cross legged in the middle of the floor at one with my inner being. I have, however consciously paid attention to and appreciated what surrounds me, how my body feels, what I am doing, and what is happening to me. This has started to calm my thoughts, to the point that I have woken up this morning quite relaxed. I am knackered and full of cold and physically feel a bit rubbish, but that is not having a detrimental effect on my state of mind, it is just something I am experiencing. It is weird and fascinating to experience mindfulness (if you want to call it that) in action. It works, it really does work. I have been setting myself free from my thoughts all week and thoroughly enjoying the journey.

So why do I think I am living the dream?

I do a job I absolutely love, a job that allows me to follow my interest and work within my values, so much so that my role has become an intrinsic part of my identity. People have enough belief in me as a coach at work that they allow me and encourage me to pursue my interests, to the point that they are willing to fund me to complete a course on strategic coaching.

I am writing a book. I have always wanted to write a book, but never thought I was good enough. I listened to my self critic. I listen to my self critic less now I am writing it, because people like me can and do write books.

I write a blog. Writing a blog is my release, it helps me make sense of my world, and according to feedback I get it helps other people make sense of their world and has inspired them to take action in their life, and for a coach there is no better motivation to do something.

I have a loving family. They laugh at me and sometimes look at me sideways, but they love me and I love them. Every time I see my sons my heart swells with pride, they are handsome, kind intelligent and talented and there is not a day goes by when they do not amaze me. Just as I wrote that my youngest just cycled past the window on his paper round and a little bit of joy jumped into my heart. On Wednesday we went to watch Ben my eldest play in his band (Vialetters) at a local venue. I am so blessed to calm them both my sons to the point I look for opportunities to talk about them to others on a daily basis, and I will often talk about them when I teaching.

So that is just a few highlights about why I am living the dream. I am not rich or famous. I don’t live in a big house and drive a fancy car. I am enough , I am alive and I am making a difference.

Are you living your dream? Have you checked? How often do you pay attention to what is going on around you?

Being mindful does not mean you have to meditate or do something dramatic. Just pay attention to what is really happening right now in the physical world, not the world constructed in your mind. It is really obvious but takes practice to actually do.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Remember to have the Christmas that really plays to your values. Have the Christmas that sits comfortably, the Christmas that feels warm, cosy, familiar and natural.

For me that means getting up at 6:30am and baking some bread, wearing the traditional Christmas morning outfit, my Christmas onsie.

Whilst waiting for the bread to prove I will often take to Facebook bemoaning the fact that my children are too old to get up this early.

The smell of baking bread always gets them up to be fair. We then have our present opening ceremony where Holly (our dog) takes centre stage.

This is her in pre-Christmas build up.

Once the presents are open and thanks are given, it is bacon sandwiches (vegan bacon for Ben) with freshly baked bread and Bucks Fizz.

We then tidy up and wear whatever wearable gifts we have received. We speak to various family members over the phone.

Before I know it, it is time to start cooking Christmas Dinner. I love cooking so this is a source of great joy. A bit of festive music, bucks fizz, a hot oven, and veg to prep and I am in heaven.

We have dinner at about 3,and then settle in front of the telly for the rest of the evening. Simple but enjoyable.

So whatever you do, do it the way you want and do it well.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Those Wonderful Moments of Parenthood

 

We all remember the day our children were born, their first steps, the first time they say mummy or daddy. Then there is that moment when you say goodbye to them on their first day of School. Then all their landmarks throughout their school life and childhood.

Last night we went to see my eldest and his band support a nationally recognised band called Blaenavon. Now I have seen Vialetters play a few times now, each time they get better and better. Then there is my youngest who generally leads the moshing in the audience. Anyone that knows me well, knows that I am an emotional soul. Last night at one point I was overcome with emotion. It was a special moment, the band were playing well and the reaction from the audience was incredible. At that moment I was so incredibly proud of both my boys.

When I was thinking of writing this I started looking at some pictures of my boys through out landmarks in their and our lives. If I say so myself  we have done a pretty good job.

There are times when you are bringing up your kids the way you think is best, and it just doesn’t seem to be working out. Some days they just behave like little shits, and you wonder what you are doing wrong. You are not doing anything wrong, you are trying your best to do the right thing. There is only one thing worth asking, is your behaviour in line with your values? Are you being true to yourself? If you are crack on, no one said it was going to be easy. But I tell you what the rewards are pretty high. All those early mornings stood in the rain watching your boys play football or netball, listening to them read the same stories you read at school, being knee-deep in shit and vomit, are all worth it.

As Brene Brown says (of course I was going to mention her) be the adult you want your children to be.

Below is a bit of self-indulgence, to let you know how proud I am of my boys. Have a look through some of your photos and remind yourself what a good job you have done.