Music on my commute to and from work

It’s been a while since I shared a playlist.

I am not sure if anyone listens to them, but I really enjoy putting them together.

With it being Mental Health Awareness week it is important to remind ourselves to give some attention to our mental health. One suggestion is to do something everyday that you enjoy, if you can it is best to spend an hour doing something that makes you happy. Now putting together this playlist took slightly less than an hour. So I have another 45 minutes left to fill today. Now that is fairly easy on a sunny Saturday. However during the week that can be a little more challenging. Trying to fit a an hour in our busy days can feel a little indulgent. Trust me, it isn’t, it is vital, vital for your health and well-being.

So if it is we have to be a little more imaginative about how we fit that time in. Firstly though we all need to examine our days, and think about those activities we do in a day where we derive enjoyment, that could be spending time with our children, taking the dog for a walk or cooking. Create an inventory of enjoyable activities, once you start you will realise how happy you can be simply by appreciating the things you already do. When you add them up you may be halfway there. Now cherish those activities, and if you need to move them up your importance order.

Once you have created your inventory, then look at those redundant parts of the day, such as your commute to work. My commute is about an hour a day, 30 minutes there and 30 minutes back. To fill that time I know put my music library on my phone on shuffle and sit back and listen. Now I have a couple of playlists that automatically update with new music that is downloaded onto my phone, so when engage the shuffle option I can listen to a song for the first time. Therefore that anticipation of not knowing whether I am going to listen next, it could be an old favourite or a new classic is so exciting.

My boring 30 minute commute is transformed and flies by. So why not in the car, on the bus or train put your music on shuffle sit back and see what happens. For me I have nailed in hour of happiness.

Because I like to share here is a playlist made of a shuffle I did this morning, not on a commute but sat on my sofa. Have a listen if you like, if you don’t that’s ok too, I have had my fun.

My commute shuffle

A walk up Snowdon

Last weekend , I met up with a few of my old school friends, and we went for a walk up Snowdon, as you do!

Now normally we meet up in a pub in Chester, have a meal, reminisce and get hammered. Not all of us manage to get to these sessions and even when most of us are there we don’t always get the chance to speak to everyone before we all go our separate ways.

Well back in December most of the lads, not me however, met up in Chester, and the idea of spending the weekend together, and hiking up a mountain was formed. All the best ideas are born in a drunken stupor, don’t you think!

Luckily the idea did not fade with the hangover, but actually grew and by late January early February had become a thing, a thing we had all become committed to, both financially and philosophically. Many of us in the group (when I say many, I actually mean myself and possibly Lee) had no idea what the reality of walking up Snowdon was. Thousands of people young and old walk, run and even cycle up Snowdon every year. Colin even did it over Christmas when it was -15 (I will get back to Colin later). So how hard could it be.

So the day came to travel to Chester to meet up with my friends and travel on to the farmhouse we had hired for the weekend (their was 8 of us and it was quite reasonably priced before you think of us as flash gits). I was so excited, it was like Christmas Eve when I was 5.

We stopped off on the way to collect supplies in Colwyn Bay. My advice would be if visiting Colwyn Bay, do your shopping before you get there. This shopping experience however did not dampen my excitement.

When we arrived Colin and Rich Turner (there are 2 Rich’s) decided to test out a route before the main ascent the next day. Like 2 demented fools myself and Lee gleefully volunteered to join them. My glee soon soured as we clambered up a hillside through muddy fields and over styles. I thought my legs were going to fall off and my lungs explode. Rich informed us that this was a trial to see if we could cut across to the trail we would use tomorrow to prevent us from walking along the road for half a mile. When we reached the said trail, I thought to myself how the fuck am I going to walk all the way to the top tomorrow. What had I committed myself too. I had seriously over estimated my level of fitness and ability to walk on slopes. It was like waking up on Christmas morning and discovering that Christmas was in fact just a really long Maths exam. I didn’t want to show myself up too much, however the few of us that had taken on this mini adventure had witnessed my distinct lack of ability on slopes.

Fuck it! I thought, give it a go, and see what happens, I said to myself.

Ian had stayed behind during our recce to cook tea, and what a fantastic tea it was, veggie chilli, and tequila! The rest of the party except Rich J arrived later that evening, and much merriment and laughter ensued.

Throughout the evening and into the night, I grappled with my self 1 telling me to bow out, fake an injury or illness, anything just don’t do it, because at best you will look fat and useless and at worst you might die, self 2 saying, just do it, think of the views, the sense of achievement.

I went with self 2 clearly but resolved that I would go at my own pace, just to keep self 1 happy.

Rich J arrived just after breakfast and we set off. We walked along the road to the Ranger trail, we had decided that was a sensible option.

When we got to the trail, I struggled from the off, and had to stop regularly to release the tension in my back or get my breath. My fitter, and thinner friends were all very understanding and regularly waited for me or walked with me. Colin being super fit, went off ahead (he had already run 7 Miles before we set off). At times the others were grateful to take to wait for me and have a breather. I was determined to finish, to reach the top. To do that I had to go at my slow pace. This walk up Snowdon had turned into a personal battle. My self 1, the cautious me, wanted to stop and go back, my self 2, the spontaneous me, the achieving me wanted to carry on. Throughout my life when it came to physical achievement, and pushing myself, self 1 would nearly always win. This time self 2 was going to win. I used Colin as a focus, to me Colin always appears to let his self 2 take the lead, so during that walk up Snowdon I was allowing Colin to inspire and motivate me. He didn’t know he was doing it, he was doing something he enjoyed. I needed something or someone to focus on and Colin fit the bill. I imagined him waiting for me at the top and that thought pulled me up. Every time I wanted to stop, Colin said to me give it another 5 minutes then see how you are. (Colin never said that Colin was too far ahead to notice me) That got me to the top.

When the summit came into view I cried, in fact I wanted to break down and sob. I didn’t, I managed to hold myself together. I had done it, I had managed to prevent my self 1 from getting me to give up, my self 2 had one. This personally was a landmark moment in my life. That is why I wanted to breakdown and cry, I was so relieved.

Anyway enough sloppiness. When we arrived at the top, it was packed, there was a queue to the summit! Worse still the cafe didn’t open for another week, and it was snowing!

After some food when started our descent, via another trail, this trail was partly along a ridge that Rich T said was nice and safe. He might have thought that! I was terrified! Looking at some of the pictures the views from the ridge were incredible, I couldn’t see them, I had lost my peripheral vision by this point.

This was harder than the ascent, most of the time we were scrambling down rocks, trying not to slip. Again my athletic prowess meant that I brought up the rear. I was cold, wet and mentally and physically exhausted when I arrived in the pub nearly 6 hours after we set off.

That first pint was the nicest pint I ever had. After another we all went back to the farmhouse for showers and food this time cooked by Rob. We had a selection of curries, That frankly were wonderful.

That evening was a little more subdued, than the evening before and a little less alcohol was drunk, but still a wonderful evening was had nonetheless.

After a fitful sleep and a hearty breakfast we said our goodbyes, with a promise of doing something else in the autumn, perhaps a little less challenging than Snowdon.

After coming back I have felt strange a little subdued, and a little unsure of myself. Whilst writing this I have realised why. That weekend I did something I rarely do, I pushed myself beyond the limits I set myself. I realised that I am really unfit, and I need to do something about that. More importantly I have learned that I can go beyond what I think is my limit, all I have to do is listen to self 2 more. It is easy said in coaching sessions, but doing it is different, now I understand how I can turn my self 1 down. I know I can achieve far more than I think I can.

Being able to use this experience in my coaching will be invaluable. Giving the client the space to explore what their self 1 and self 2 are saying to them, will help them determine who has the stronger voice and who needs to have the stronger voice.

A bit of escapism

I Love to daydream. It takes me to a happy place, when I am feeling a little fed up.

Most days foggy makes an appearance as I have mentioned before. That on the whole is fine, I have come to accept him and his negativity, he is me after all. Some days the things he says are more painful than others, and I find it a little harder to be passive and not try to suppress what he is saying. This is normally when he is highlighting my shortcomings. Paradoxically in the long run him shining a light and exaggerating these failings is useful as it spurs me into action, to at least go some way to addressing them. That is no doubt why they are more painful.

To help me handle the discomfort I will often reach for my music to help distract me, to take me to another world. If I am feeling sad a melancholic I might go through my back catalogue of sad songs to allow me to wallow and enjoy the misery of self pity. Now self pity is a comfortable state to be in as it requires no action. The thing is I want action, I don’t want these shortcomings to be shortcomings I want to turn them into actions. I need to be forward thinking.

I still reach for my music, music creates emotions and changes the way I feel. When I want to be positive and forward thinking I listen to new music, music I have never heard before, sometimes it is brilliant, sometimes it is ok and sometimes it is awful. It is always exciting and creative and optimistic. It makes me feel creative, optimistic and forward thinking.

Now I will not address all my shortcomings because I listened to Father John Misty’s latest song but I might just start working towards some of those neglected goals and remind myself of all the things I have achieved over the last week.

We all find our ways to pull us out of our funk, just remember do the thing that makes you happy and creates optimism, not what you think you should do, or what makes other people happy.

Writing this blog always makes me happy. Sharing playlists makes me happy.

So here’s both my blog, and below is a playlist. An Apple Music one this time. If you want it on Spotify let me know otherwise enjoy my little bit of escapism this month.

My New Music Escapism Playlist

If you want to discuss how you can create an optimistic future for yourself get in touch via Facebook, Twitter or this blog.

Have a great rest of the week and remember we have a rough times, it’s what we do with them that counts.

Have a Hug on Me

Everybody needs a hug, some of us more often than others.

The restorative powers of a good heartfelt hug are amazing. If you are feeling out of sorts or mentally and physically drained, a proper hug will leave with a spring in your step and a song in your heart.

A hug reminds you that you are appreciated and people do care. A hug lets you know that someone thinks you are great and they are interested in how you feel.

Now I love giving out hugs, because I think most people deserve a hug and that most people are pretty amazing. The thing is I understand that there are a lot of people who feel uncomfortable being in close contact with people they hardly know. I think that is strange but I respect their choice, the last thing I want is to make people feel uncomfortable. The whole point of my hugs are to make people feel empowered.

So with that in mind and the fact that I can’t hug you all, I thought I would offer you all a virtual hug. A hug for your ears and your soul. A musical hug. In fact a heartfelt musical hug.

This morning I lovingly put together a playlist of songs that make feel warm and fuzzy, hoping that at least some of you with feel the same.

Why not share this hug with your loved ones or make your own musical hug. Just imagine what our world would be like if we shared our hugs rather than our hate.

So hear accept it with my love.

Gizza Cuddle

An Easter Gift from Me to You

At the moment I seem to fluctuating between a positive week and a challenging week. This week has been a challenging one. Some of the projects I have running at work have been stumbling and faltering. Nothing unusual just the normal obstacles encountered when undertaking projects. Everything seems to be happening at once I suppose and by Thursday I was feeling overwhelmed with all of it. I needed to take stock, as I could feel the negative commentary in my head was beginning to take over. I needed some mindfulness and then a plan of action. Well I created a plan of action and then sat back today and cleared my head. On Friday I organised a coach for myself, and today I have been for a run (first one for over a month) and then put together a playlist. Both these activities clear my head. They are engaging activities I can immerse myself in the activity without bringing in unwanted interference. I can do them purely for the sake of it.

This mindfulness is reflected in the playlist I have put together today, it is an eclectic mix of whatever took my fancy this morning. None of it has any connection to Easter other than I created it the weekend before Easter. It does have some of my favourite songs, such as:

I love you Honeybear by Father John Misty

Seasons (waiting on you) by Future Islands.

The other thing I love to do is to share, so please accept this Easter Mix Tape with my love

Mattycoach Eater Mix Tape

A Week Off My Birthday and Foggy

I always book the week of my birthday off. I rarely do anything, but I just like having the time off with nothing in particular planned, a week of chilling out.

Well there was certainly a lot of chilling with ‘The Beast From The East’ arriving in the Monday. I had the first few days by myself, which was perfect, some time just for me, apart from a short meeting at work on Monday. To be honest both Monday and Tuesday were largely taken up with work. With the first day of the coaching course starting on Monday I wanted to do some preparation. I needed to refresh my memory of some of the reading materials and feel comfortable with what Anthony has planned. I didn’t have to do it, but I wanted to. I don’t see coaching as work, it is as much a hobby. I enjoy it so much.

If I am honest I have spent most of the week, reading about coaching. Well the weather was so cold there was not much else to do. I spent some of my time writing some notes about my story. This is s project I have written a lot about and published a blog the other day based on those notes. I find writing about and dissecting my early life quite helpful understanding why I react the way I do.

The cold weather prevented my Mum coming for my birthday, which was a real shame, as we were all looking forward to seeing her. We will however being seeing her at Easter, which is not that far off.

Saturday was my birthday and the last day of the cold weather. As Birthdays go it was quite low key, with just a trip out to the pub for lunch. It was lovely spending the afternoon with my family, eating drinking and laughing.

The highlight of the day was getting a flat cap and a pair of doc martens. A man of simple pleasures. It has been about 20 years since I last owned a pair of docs, and I have wanted a cap for about a year. The kids think it is hilarious, simultaneously having a middle aged crisis and embracing middle age at the same.

This morning I was woken up by Foggy. God knows where he came from, I have felt really positive and optimistic for weeks. Then all of a sudden he fills my head with negative thoughts and pessimism. I woke up with a pit in my stomach and a feeling of hopelessness. I was at a loss to why this was happening. Now previously I would try to fight it or start to feel sorry for myself. This time I just let the feeling sit there. I concentrated on the physical feelings I was experiencing. My jaw was tight so I focused on my jaw and it started to relax, the same with my neck and shoulders. Just by focusing on them, they relaxed. This is something I read again recently in John Whitmore’s book Coaching for Performance. The first time I read about it a year or so ago, I thought it was interesting but didn’t actually give it a go. After reading about it this week again I thought I would give it a go. It works! On top of that it helped turn Foggy’s volume. By concentrating on my physical symptoms the negative thoughts gradually dispersed. I am certain it will not chase Foggy away, but it does help turn him down, more quickly than just letting him act out. No doubt he will be back tomorrow before the course starts, amplifying my anxiety so I will give it a go again.

Music can change the way you look at your day

Following on from yesterday’s post I thought I would share some more of the music I have been listening to this month.

It doesn’t matter whether the music is happy or sad, for me it connects me with the hear and now, it helps me to tune out the regrets of yesterday and the fears for tomorrow.

Music creates a feeling that is current, it is happening to me now, I suppose it creates a simple mindfulness. I am then able to feel more relaxed, more positive and more creative.

I have put together a Spotify playlist, feel free to listen.

Mattycoach71 Feb Mixtape