The lessons they teach us..

Today is my birthday (relax; I don’t want anything..)

We planned to visit the local Sea-Life centre but by the time I’d managed to mobilise the cubs, it was too late. I decided that we should go for a bite to eat instead.

‘McUsual dad?’ my daughter asked. ‘Nope’ I replied, wondering if I go there more often than I think. I decided to try an american diner that I drive past every day on my way home from work.

My son was asleep almost as soon as I’d shut the car door; I guess he’s growing again.

Table manners

In and seated by a very gregarious waiter who then spent an enormous amount of time and energy attempting to de-wobble our table. Fail.

‘DAD; IS HE A SERVANT?’

‘no’

Her voice was still set to outdoor but I think he was out of earshot.

Service; eventually..

The place wasn’t overly busy but there seemed to be more managers than waiters. We eventually got served but when the food arrived, my daughter’s order was wrong. I politely refused and asked for our original request.

After a few minutes he came back ‘It’ll be about 5 minutes i’m afraid’

‘That’s fine; thank you’

After another few minutes he came back again;

‘You did say beefburger right?’

‘No; cheeseburger; please’

I hadn’t managed to convince my son of the correct etiquette of the 50% rule of waiting; he had shifted the figures to 33% and was already pushing hotdog into his face hole.

Lonely

Her food arrived and we all tucked in. It was absolutely average. The cubs were already planning dessert. Then came the wait.

We waited; and waited; and waited but still the table remained uncleared, let alone a dessert enquiry. The two managers were now having some food at the bar, talking to a 3rd member of staff.

The cubs decided that we’d had enough and that they’d rather just go home now. As the smiling waiter came over I asked for the bill.

Then we waited; and waited…

Time

I eventually got up and put my coat on; the cubs duly followed. The waiter took the hint and rang everything up. He handed me the card machine at the gratuity screen. I hit the no button and entered my PIN. He looked disappointed when I handed the terminal back to him.

Before we walked out, he let the cubs take a balloon each from the static display.

We walked back to the car and drove home; I was already planning a tripadvisor roasting. As I did so, I must have muttered my discontent aloud. My daughter asked what was wrong, so I regaled everything that wasn’t right about our meal. She thought carefully and replied:

Well he was a very smiley person and seemed like he was the only one doing any work. He also apologised for messing up my food and was very nice to give us a colouring sheet and balloons; you probably shouldn’t be too hard on him because he looked like he was trying.

That 10% now sits heavily in my pocket.

learning

BSD

When your body talks…

You’d be wise to listen to it.

You may remember a while back I started a ’30 day burpee challenge’ where for 30 days, I would do 30 burpees per day. The clue was in the name. It all started so well.

Body talks..

After about 5 days, bits of me started to hurt. When you’re used to training and pushing yourself, this is nothing new, but this pain was new and unusual. I was beginning to experience some intense, shooting pain in the base of my toes and it didn’t feel good.

I expected pain in my quads and core but not in the base of my toes. That was just weird. 

Pain such as this is usually associated with poor technique so I checked mine. Whilst I was doing it it felt right but the pain was evident almost immediately. I stopped.

One thing I had noticed a long time ago (approximately 14 years) was that my body took longer to heal almost immediately after my 30th birthday. Decades of martial arts training had put my body under a lot of pressure and from time to time the inevitable would happen and parts of me would fail. Immediate injury management was necessary, followed by either passive or active recovery. Anything remotely serious could be overcome in around 6 weeks. Up until the big 30 that is.

The change was noticeable.

Fixing things just started to take longer. Clicks, creaks and groans replaced the subtle swish of my combat clothing. Ce la vie.

I spent a while fighting it but then I got smart.

The human body was designed to move.

Just be clever about how you do it. New pains that aren’t part of the muscle growth process should be taken note of. Adjust accordingly.

I haven’t given up; not totally.

I still need to add some serious CV to my routines. In the meantime, I have replaced the 30 day burpee challenge with the Men’s Health 500 rep challenge. When I can move my arms again I’ll make another video.

BSD

Ps, videos are new! I discovered an editing suite called Lightworks v.14. It’s free to use and comes with great tutorials. I will get better!

Sunday was supposed to be so good…

I had it all planned out.

It was my weekend with my cubs. We’d been a bit housebound so to stop us all getting cabin fever I’d planned a walk across the nearby fields.

My daughter had her eye on this stretch of land for a long time. It was at the edge of a football pitch and was fantastically uncultivated. Meadow grass, wild flowers, daddy height thistles and all the fauna to match.

My daughter had reliably informed me that it was the perfect environment to track down the creature that had long eluded her; the grass snake.

My daughter has found a hero (other than me of course) in adventurer/explorer/naturalist and climber Steve Backshall. She’s seen everything he’s done and hangs on his every word and that’s fine. I love nature and the outdoors and so she does too. She had earmarked this bit of land as her hunting ground.

I primed them both for the big walk on Saturday promising a picnic and some pioneering off of the beaten track.

The big day arrived

I was up at the usual 06:00 and the cubs weren’t far behind.

The problem was, they’d woken up tired. I’ve seen them like it before so we lounged on daddy’s bed for a bit and had a cuddle. My daughter then asked if we could watch a movie; my son was nodding in agreement so we watched a movie.

I must admit that I had a little snooze during the movie and felt better for it. I was also determined that we would go for a walk in the countryside.

After much prodding and persuasion I got them both washed and dressed. We had breakfast then packed my rucksack with various snacks and our raincoats; it was glorious sunshine now but rain had been forecast.

I shouldered my trusty D5000, with the intention of getting some good shots for a blog entry under the ‘Activities’ heading; the premise being that I would illustrate how quality time doesn’t have to be expensive.

Off we went.


The sun blazed down but spirits were high. Both the cubs were freerange as we made our way across the top of the pitch and up a beaten path into the meadow. Then it began.

Two stinging nettles were enough to convince my son that the safest place for him was in my arms. Instead of picking him up, I showed him how to stand on the low ones and circumnavigate the taller ones. In his defence, I wouldn’t be comfortable in 6 foot stingers so I cut him some slack. We pressed on.

5 minutes were enough to convince my daughter that she would never find a grass snake so she disengaged stealth mode to see if she could convince some other elements of nature to reveal themselves through the medium of undergrowth kicking.

I don’t remember seeing Steve Backshall kicking nature into plain sight!!

She agreed, before catching a grasshopper in her hands.

My son had run off ahead up the hill and was now proudly holding and waving something green and plastic at me. It was a cigarette lighter. The grass was tinder dry.

One daddy sprint later and disaster averted. I gave him a chocolate bar from my bag and told him not to pick things up off of the ground. We pressed on (again)

I saw my first photo opportunity in a macro of a thistle. I could foreground it with my son running up the hill behind it, blurred into the background. Genius.

I lined up me shot and pressed for autofocus before manually adjusting. The D5000 responded with the idiot bleep and the message No SD card inserted…’

My daughter held up the cigarette lighter and called out; ‘Dad; I’ve found this!’

We went home.

As we entered the park to reach the main road, she found two feathers. one appeared to be from a Jay and the other from a Buzzard. She turned to me:

Best walk in the countryside ever!

 

Here is a photograph of my camera. That’s all I have to offer.

IMG_0115.JPG

BSD

CONTROLLING THOSE LIMITING BELIEFS – time to stop running and start hunting. pt.4

Time to start hunting.

My inspiration; and my first plug

I was introduced to this book 10 years ago when I started going through management training. I was very skeptical at first. It’s plays quite heavily on religion and even though I was a Christian at the time (more on that paradigm shift later!) I found it quite heavy going. I was missing the point.

Move forward a decade and the pages of my copy are well thumbed, dog eared and colour coded.

I’ll try not to make this a War & Peace length post but here’s my interpretation of this bestseller

  • Be proactive. (Get ahead)

More racing

Don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen! One great excerpt from this chapter is “act or be acted upon.” There have been times in my life when I’ve procrastinated myself into a needless situation. No more. I now practice Flexible Planning.

  • Begin with the end in mind

black-and-white-sport-fight-boxer

You need to know where you want to end up, but not necessarily how you’ll get there. Take those first tentative steps and you’ll be surprised at what doors open.

  • Put the first things first

first things first

Estimate a timeframe. How long you think it should take to achieve. Then work backwards. If I want to be achieve X in 5 years time, where do I need to be in 2.5 years? I’ll need to have achieved Y. To achieve Y in 2.5 years where do I need to be in 1 year? Where do I need to be in 6 months etc, all the way until I have an idea of what I need to do next.

Taking those tentative first steps is a little easier when you know where to plant your feet. The importance here is to be flexible! Life tends to get in the way of plans but stay focused!

  • Think win/win

win win.jpg

This took me a while to fully understand. I used to think in a binary terms of win or lose. For me to win, someone had to lose and vice versa. Wrong. This ideology placed me in direct competition with everyone and anyone and is destined to fail. It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are, how knowledgeable you are, how fast or strong you are, someone will be that little bit better than you. Read my lesson in humility here..

I now aim for win/win, or no deal. What if we work together? Imagine what we can achieve? Find others to help you reach your goal and help them reach theirs. If someone is where you want to be or doing what you want to do, learn from them! Read what they read, do what they do and if possible, move in their circles.

Don’t ever compromise your values to achieve a deal. This will not sit right with you and will be unsustainable in the long term.

  • Seek first to understand then be understood

listen

Shift your focus a little. No one is obliged to understand you. Other viewpoints exist and just because they do not align directly to yours, it doesn’t mean they are wrong.

Senator John McCain defended his then opponent Senator Barack Obama at his own Republican rally, when one of his supporters began a personal attack. What amazing strength of character. I’m a Brit by the way but I’m interested in politics and great orators.

Look to understand someone else’s viewpoint and you will understand what drives them. This involves active listening.

  • Synergise

synergize.jpg

Creative cooperation. Working together to achieve more. For example, I’m involved in a number of projects outside of what was the norm for me. It has taken a lot of learning and self discipline to get where I am (I’m not actually broke!) but there is still work to do. I planned this blog for 6 months before I began it but there was only so much I could do alone. I had to jump in and then the second part of my learning could begin. I now learn from you, my fellow bloggers. I read your blogs for information, entertainment and more importantly in order to  improve mine.

  • Sharpen the saw

stacked stones

The principle of renewal and the greatest invest of all; the investment in yourself.

  • Physical (exercise, nutrition and stress management)
  • Social/emotional (service, empathy, synergy and intrinsic security)
  • Spiritual (value, clarification and commitment, study and meditation) and
  • Mental (reading, visualising, planning and writing).

Balance and clarity in these areas can help you achieve balance in life. I have prioritised or neglected all four of these at one time or another and suffered the consequences. It’s a work in progress.

Time to go and get what you really want.

Sticking to this stuff takes discipline. Mine fluctuates! When I stick to it; life works!

Don’t just take my word for it; read it for yourself.

Follow this link for a hardcopy 

Or here for the audiobook

 

BSD

Today served as a stark reminder

Time waits for no one.

Nothing I didn’t know and I’m sure you’re the same. Let me talk you through this one.

Sunday is the day that my ex and I plan childcare arrangements for the week ahead. We actually do this a month at a time, but Sunday is confirmation day. This week, it was also when we entered ‘Meet Year 3 teachers‘ for this afternoon at 16:30.

Head down in projects and deadlines I lifted it above the parapet at 16:10. No drama; the drive isn’t far and work is flexible enough for me to pick up the slack later.

Driving affords me the great opportunity to be alone with my thoughts

I’ve known where my priorities are ever since my first born came into the world. Parenthood had a profound affect on me, and where I had been a career driven promotion hungry chap before that day, my focus undoubtedly changed when I became a dad.

I got to the classroom one minute late (time means a lot to me) and squeezed my huge frame into those chairs that are perfect for little people. The two new teachers were at the front, presenting; the parents were scattered around the classroom on a combination of chairs and desks (If only I’d been a couple of minutes earlier..) and our respective children playing and reading quietly on the far side of the classroom.

Then, a no so subtle signal that I’d got my priorities right; my daughter looked up from what she was doing and spotted her daddy across the classroom. Without hesitation, she stood up, made her way through her soon to be teachers, through the parents (who were smiling, knowing where she was heading) made it over to my side and threw her arms around me. Decision qualified.

School 1

This is not the focal point of this entry. My point is this; it quite literally seems like yesterday that I walked her into school on her very first day. It all seemed so wrong! she was my baby! she’s way too young! she’s not used to these people or this place etc… She was still so small and vulnerable. I took a photograph of her in her new uniform and shiny shoes as she sat on a bench outside the classroom, waiting for her day to start.

That yesterday was actually 3 years ago.

crayons

Life does not hang about waiting for us to make the right decisions; we have to get up, get out and live. We make decisions without knowing if they’re life changing or not; those effects won’t show themselves until years later but, we have to do what we feel is right.

For me, the right decision is to put my cubs first. A missed deadline, an unanswered email or an embittered boss will pale into insignificance in 12 months but my daughter remembering that her daddy was at sports day, at the summer dance, at the nativity and at the teacher meet will last forever.

Choose wisely; you don’t get that time back.

stop time

BSD

This weekend…

Well, technically last weekend.  

Saturday 
I’ve decided to give myself a lazy day today. I’m laying in bed watching movies. 
We’ll see how long it lasts. I already feel uncomfortable and I’m finding things to do mentally. Never was very good at relaxing.

 

Still saturday, but a bit later
This is what being lazy looks like to me; Kitchen cleaned, downstairs loo cleaned, all rooms dusted, upstairs bathroom cleaned, ensuite cleaned, wash load done, dishwasher on. I’ve got a feeling that my cooking may suffer.

It did….

BSD

CONTROLLING THOSE LIMITING BELIEFS – time to stop running and start hunting. pt.3

But as I said last week; a day is just a day. We make it what it is and our internal coach has a huge part to play in that.

Neutrality

Ok; we’ve established that now; there is no such thing as a bad day or a good day, but how do we really live up to that? How do you stop that one occurrence in the morning from clouding your whole day?

You need to coach your inner coach, and here is why.

You wake up, you stub your toe getting out of bed; what does your coach have to say about that?

“Awesome start you klutz!”

Now at this point, you have a choice; write it off as a one off or let it snowball..to some degree it does depend on what happens next, or more importantly how you reference what happens next.
A thought that becomes an > expectation that manifests into > a reality that forms an > experience.

Let’s go deeper; what if that whole process I described is repeated, and the experience is the same?

Kolb’s Experiential Cycle

This is a theory that really stuck in my mind when I was studying psychology. My mind likes order and I see in models and algorithms.

Kolb

 

Concrete Experience

You stub your toe; you lose your keys; you get toothpaste on your tie; you ladder your tights; you’re stuck in roadworks….

roadworks

Reflective Observation

You think about what’s happened/happening  and give that event a label mentally.

Abstract Hypothesis

Here is the watershed; the fork in the road. You can label the event as ‘bad luck’, or ‘That wasn’t the outcome I wanted; I should change my approach’. This is the most important part of the cycle and where thoughts are reinforced in our minds.

Fork in the road.jpg

Left or right…?

Active Testing

Deal breaker; if only we recognised it.

Active testing is the part of the scientific method (a set way of doing and testing things. This is where in theory, we test our concrete experience against our perception of the outcome. For example, leaving the house at the same time, taking the same route and becoming stuck at the same set of roadworks, instead of either leaving earlier or taking a different route.

OK, I’ve over simplified things in that example but it serves to illustrate my point.

If you attribute too many experiences to bad luck, you will conclude that you are an unlucky person. This isn’t true.

It self fulfils and we now have a behaviour that is based on those concrete experiences that just keep happening to us. We expect it to happen because it has done so many times before. So we find ourselves in the situation again and guess what? The same thing happens..

Why?

This know as a self fulfilling prophecy and usually climaxes with an ‘I told you that would happen’ from that internal coach. It can work for us, stopping us from engaging in harmful activities, or it can work against us, stopping us from pushing through our barriers.

But if our thoughts are that powerful, what would happen if we could only imagine the best for ourselves, all the time?

Breaking the cycle

Now we know what our limiting beliefs are we need to take action to stop them. This is easier said than done, don’t forget you’ve probably had these thoughts all of your life; I know I have.

Perhaps given to you by your parents then reinforced through those oh so real experiences they are now well and truly engrained.

Technically speaking it should take the same amount of time to rewrite them. If that’s correct, I’ve got something to look forward to on my 86th birthday.

Well I’m not having that; and neither should you!

Next week: Let’s finish this. I’ll explore some scripts that work for me in pt.4

BSD

Champ

School run

It’s business as usual by the time I pick up my daughter. 

My son is asleep within 5 minutes of me driving off. The day is warm so I don’t blame him. 

She is full of energy and big hugs which is always something I look forward to. I ask her about her day. 

My friend hypnotised me with a piece of bread and I’ve been practicing my kicks. I can kick to a child’s head!

Ok. I don’t want to know how she knows that, but as I received no phone calls during the day, I’m good. 

BSD

Cooking, drinking and thinking…

Thankfully the sun is still shining when I get back to my car and in fact all day, it has been seasonal bliss. 
Ingredients time! I intended to do a shop on the train home but I actually fell asleep! I have a habit of keeping late nights and early mornings and my body is starting to rebel. 

On the way home I visualised salmon, salad onions and vegetable rice smothered in sesame seeds. 

I read somewhere about the benefits of turmeric (I can’t remember exactly what it did) so I got some of that too. Add some paprika and pesto (thinking ahead) and we’re in business. 

I must say I really do have the cooking bug now and it’s a lot of fun, and so much easier to eat healthily. 
Salmon something

Wash a cupful of rice in [filtered] water. Place in a small pan and add more [filtered] water. I’ll stop with the parenthesis soon. Add a dash of sesame oil and a sprinkle of paprika. Place on a low heat. 



Pre-heat the grill to a medium high heat and foil line a grill pan. Wash the salad onions and chop finely. Grab some garlic and chop that too. Drizzle some oil on the foil and add paprika and turmeric. Drop the chopped stuff on it and mix with your hands. 

Wash and dry your hands and then realise that your ingredients will stain anything you touch

Take the salmon and rub it in the chopped stuff; place it all under the grill.


This one is a pretty quick cooker, depending on how you like your salmon. 


From coming in through the door to serving up in under an hour; not bad going. 

Shame it didn’t taste so good. I think i’ll ditch one of the big spices next time. 

Following dinner I spent a considerable part of the evening sitting in the lounge and being with my own thoughts. As the evening drew in I lay there, feet up and sipping wine, thinking. 

Where I am right now is where I need to be right now, but it’s not where I will stay.