Mystery Blogger Award #1

By… 

The creator of this award is Okoto Engima.

First up, a massive thank you to BThought1 for awarding my exceptional blog Clear-Air-Turbulence this most prestigious award!!! I joke of course, I’m not sure how prestigious this award actually is… 😂 Seriously though, it’s an absolute honour you thought of my poky blog given the sheer amount of truly exceptional blogs out there. It’s connecting with wonderful individuals such as yourself that has made blogging so meaningful for me. To all of my lovely readers I highly recommend checking out his excellent blog. He’s a very insightful writer.

So what are the Rules for this most prestigious blogging award?

1. Put the award logo on your blog.

2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

3. Mention the creator of the award.

4. Answers the five questions you were asked.

5. Tell the readers three things about yourself.

6. Nominate your favourite bloggers.

Notify the bloggers( tell them you nominated them) by commenting on one of their posts.

7. Ask your nominees five questions with one weird or funny one.

8. Share a link to your best posts.

Onto the questions!

1. What keeps you motivated in these difficult times?
As a pilot I can tell you it isn’t flying! Aside from playing with my very silly family I’d have to say that blogging has become my favourite lockdown activity. It’s more productive than binge watching NETFLIX at least…

2. Are you a story-teller or a story-listener?
I’m a terrible listener – mainly because that requires patience. Telling a good story on the other hand is all about embellishing the truth, or omitting it entirely. This I’m very good at. 

3. Who inspires you the most?
Without a doubt my ridiculous two year old son. He has shown me more about what it means to be alive than any adult every has.

4. Why do you enjoy writing and blogging?
I think too much. Writing is an amazing way to focus the monkey mind on something positive. Left to its own devices my brain usually goes places it shouldn’t. A bit like walking around a dodgy neighbourhood past midnight. It’s actually quite dangerous.

5. What music do you like to listen to?
Before children I used to listen to many different types of awesome hipster music. Now all I’m allowed to listen to is the wheels on the bus go round and round. It’s ironic that my son thinks it needs to be played all day long as well.

3 things about myself

1. I’m half kiwi (the animal, not the fruit).

2. I became a pilot to travel the world not to fly aeroplanes.

3. I’m obsessed with psychology and philosophy .

My nominees are:

1. Pointless Overthinking

2. Word Of Wayne

3. Junkiegenius

4. Glitter In The Darkness

5. The Magpie Fancier

To all my lovely readers – all your blogs have inspired me in some way so please consider yourself nominated too! 

To my nominees please use the same questions above.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about me. It’s getting late here in Hong Kong so I’m gonna turn in. If you want to read some more of my fine work please click here. I would caution that my writing usually requires a pinch of salt.

Love to all X

Motivational Mondays – 03/08/20

Hello fine readers and welcome to my Motivational Mondays Post – a weekly newsletter that attempts to rewrite the narrative Mondays are the most depressing day of the week. (Or at least start it off in a slightly better fashion.)

Following a 4:3:2:1 approach, it contains 4 exceptional thoughts from me (ha), 3 admittedly better quotes from others, and 2 things I’ve been reading and/or listening to this week that have helped me grow

As always I’ve finished with 1 something silly to hopefully make you all smile. 

Love to all X

(To my lovely readers: If you have any suggestions, thoughts or ideas about today’s weekly post I’d love to hear from you in the comments at the bottom. Thank you all so much for reading.)


4 x Thoughts From Me:

What if the only thing that is wrong with you is that you think there is something wrong with you?

Sit down every night and pat yourself on the back for the things you did well and then examine the ways in which you could have done better. Bring both your sense of accomplishment and willingness to improve into your next day. You will go far by making this a daily habit.

We talk about the possibility of being alone in this universe as if the world we live in isn’t enough. I think we all need a better understanding of what enough actually is.

Intelligent self interest is about understanding we are all part of the same world. That to hurt another is to hurt yourself. I would go so far as to say how you treat others is how you treat yourself. Kindness to others extends inwards as well as out. The same is as true for anger or hatred. You give fuel to those feelings within by acting on them. Be sure to choose forgiveness over resentment, kindness over hate and love over fear.


3 x Quotes From Others:

“There are two core fears: losing what you have and not getting what you want. There is one solution: falling in love with where you are.”Jeff Foster

“Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?” – Rumi


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This fantastic Ted talk by Ethan Hawke on why being creative is so vital (my favourite quotes from the transcript are beneath):

MY FAVOURITE QUOTES:

“I believe that we are here on this star in space to try to help one another. Right? And first we have to survive, and then we have to thrive. And to thrive, to express ourselves, alright, well, here’s the rub: we have to know ourselves. What do you love? And if you get close to what you love, who you are is revealed to you, and it expands.”

“It’s a thing that worries me sometimes whenever you talk about creativity, because it can have this kind of feel that it’s just nice, you know, or it’s warm or it’s something pleasant. It’s not. It’s vital.”

“What makes kids so beautifully creative, is that they don’t have any habits, and they don’t care if they’re any good or not, right? They’re not building a sandcastle going, “I think I’m going to be a really good sandcastle builder.” They just throw themselves at whatever project you put in front of them — dancing, doing a painting, building something: any opportunity they have, they try to use it to impress upon you their individuality. It’s so beautiful. “

“If you want to help your community, if you want to help your family, if you want to help your friends, you have to express yourself. And to express yourself, you have to know yourself. It’s actually super easy. You just have to follow your love. There is no path. There’s no path till you walk it, and you have to be willing to play the fool.

2 – This BBC article – How being realistic can be key to your wellbeing. A study comparing optimists, pessimists and realists found that, “overestimating outcomes and underestimating them are both associated with lower wellbeing than getting expectations about right. Realists do best.” This is worth the quick read.


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

Having spent the last 4 days confined to a hotel room it was a relief to arrive back in Hong Kong this morning. 

Unfortunately, because of the recent spike in cases here, it’s now mandatory that all crew, as well as passengers, be tested for COVID on arrival. 

As I waited in line a lady dressed in a bio hazard suit assembled my COVID testing kit. She explained to me that I needed to deposit my specimen in a small plastic cup over in one of booths set up behind her. 

She’d omitted the word saliva…

I couldn’t help myself.

“That’s an awful lot of pressure,” I replied jokingly. “Do you have any magazines or anything that might help the process along?”

“Oh yes,” she replied clearly not registering, “you can watch a video that demonstrates how to do it on one of the big screen over there.”

“Hmmm, I’m not sure that will help,” I said as she handed me my testing kit.

She was clearly perplexed.

Probably a good thing she couldn’t see me smirking behind my face mask.

I walked to the booth in shame.


Till next week…

Have a Happy F***ing Monday Everybody!

P.S. Don’t forget to exercise your silly muscle this week!

One bonus question for you all to ponder:

What does success mean to you?


PREVIOUS MONDAY POSTS:

Motivational Mondays – 27/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 20/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 13/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 06/07/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 29/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 22/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 15/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 08/06/20

The Simplest, Most Effective Way To Overcome Writer’s Block

Are you struggling for words? 

Stuck in a loop? 

Don’t know how to proceed? 

Do you feel like everything you’re writing is a pile of s***? That you’re making everything ten times worse than what you’d originally put down on paper?

Well fear not my friends, for I have the answer and boy oh boy is it a doozy!

I hope you’re ready because this will surely blow your mind.

Here it is…

The simplest, most effective way to overcome writer’s block is to…

KEEP WRITING

Yep, it’s that simple. 

Keep going. 

Keep plugging away and never give up. 

You have what it takes but you have to keep going.

You have to have the faith you’ll figure it out. That the words will come. Sometimes it takes revisiting and editing a damn post so many times you’ll wanna throw your laptop (and yourself) off the top of the highest skyscraper you can climb. 

Don’t do that.

Keep going. The struggle will pay off in the end I promise. Trust. 

I’ll add a couple more bonus tip for you.

You don’t have to write anything you don’t want to. Make sure you enjoy it.

Make sure you’re doing it because you love and believe in what you have to say

Forget the number of likes. That’s your ego’s need for attention. Listen to your heart. Your mind is meant to be its servant not the master. 

And if it really is too much. If you have been writing incessantly but only seem to be digging yourself an even messier hole to write yourself out of. 

Get outside and go for a walk. Or spend half an hour punching a bag. Whatever it is get out and do some exercise then come back to what you where stuck on. 

This always works wonders for me. In fact some of my greatest creative inspirations and solutions come from walking in my local park everyday. 

It really is be the best antidote. But once  you’ve had a healthy amount of time away don’t forget to come back and tackle that beast of a post you were stuck on. 

You will defeat it, if you simply keep writing…

(Sorry I ran out of words to say at this point so went outside to listen to the birds chirping in my local park. If you have any suggestions please do leave them in the comments section below.)

Happy F***ing Mondays – 29/06/20

Hello fine readers and welcome to my Happy F***ing Mondays Post – a weekly newsletter that attempts to rewrite the narrative Mondays are the shittiest day of the week. (Or at least start it off in a slightly less shit fashion.)

This week it contains 4 thoughts from me, 4 quotes from others and 3 things I’ve been reading, watching and/or listening to this week. 

As always I’ve finished with one something silly to hopefully make you all smile. 

Love to all X


4 x Thoughts I’ve Been Thinking:

If you want to be an expert at something it’s best never to consider yourself one. That way you’ll always be open to learning and growing. 

Why we need to give ourselves real problems: If you don’t have any real problems your mind will create them. Those problems – the ones created by the mind – are the hardest to solve. Give yourself real problems that are larger than you – such as helping others and the world at large – and your mind won’t be so concerned with creating problems for itself. 

Acting from a place of simply wanting to be better vs a place of feeling inadequate. There’s a big difference! In both cases you want to be better but if you’re trying to make up for something you feel you’re not, it’s much harder to actually do so.

A Better You = A Better World. 


4 x Quotes I’ve been Pondering:

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow you gotta put up with the rain.” Dolly Parton

“Reading is the nourishment that lets you do interesting work.” – Novelist Jennifer Egan

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” – Benjamin Franklin 

“Enlightenment is an accident – but meditation makes us accident-prone.” – American Zen Teacher Baker Roshi


3 x Things I’ve Been Listening/Reading/Watching this week:

1 – This Mark Hyman Podcast episode about How To Live In Flow-Motion. In this mini episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy Mark Hyman talks with Reverend Michael Beckwith and Dr. Andrea Pennington, about how we can connect to our highest selves. (I loved Rev. Michael Beckwith’s description of what he sees as the 4 stages of spiritual growth: ‘The first is the victim stage where everything happens to us. We are constantly looking to blame others for our lives – we cannot grow in this stage. The second stage is when we apply learned laws of the mind to the real world (we are accepting and taking responsibility for our reality by asking empowering questions). The third stage is the flow state (‘being in the zone’) – where our higher purpose acts through us. The forth stage is the being stage where we are act as one (with the wider world).’) The video version of this episode is posted below:

2 – This No Stupid Questions Podcast: Is Incompetence a Form of Dishonesty? In this episode Stephen J. Dubner and Angela Duckworth debate two questions: Question #1: Is it immoral to slack off at work when others are depending on you to do a good job? and Question #2: How valuable is it to have a personal mission statement? I found the debate on the latter particularly interesting. My notes and quotes from the show are below.

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • Often people have too much emotion around failing so avoid trying in the first place (instead of simply acknowledging mistakes without emotion and then seeking to understand/correct them). 
  • What do competence and honesty have in common? There is a standard and there is integrity. It matters if you reach it or fall short. 
  • There is a psychological phenomena where if you feel you have credit, morally speaking, in one area people feel they can slack off in another. (You ordered a Diet Coke so you can order super sized fries). This accounts to both incompetence and dishonesty. You’re telling yourself it’s good enough when it’s not. 
  • The problem is satisfising is not a great way to look at morality. You have a standard which is good enough as opposed to continually reflecting on how you can be better
  • Better is a better goal than perfect 
  • Perfect puts us off because we tell ourselves we can never attain that and so give up on simply being better in the first place. 

On having Top level goals (a personal mission statement): 

  • What is it? It’s a mission statement. It’s the why behind everything you do. What is the why behind everything you do? 
  • It’s important to be clear about your core principles and values. 
  • ‘Improve human kind’ is too abstract – A good mission statement should be a specific statement about the mission. 
  • There’s a trade off between abstraction and specificity. Too specific and there is no flexibility.
  • It can be very useful way to point your moral compass in the right direction.
  • A good top level goal helps better direct and prioritise low level goals (such as your todo list – which are more specific) 
  • “Use psychological science to help children thrive” – Angela’s Top Level Goal
  • “Everyday try to suck a little less” – Stephen’s Top Level Goal
  • In psychology we distinguish between Approach Motivation vs Avoidance Motivation. One you want to get better. The other is you want to fail less. 
  • Trying to eliminate mistakes is more motivational than trying to be better because the latter leads you to compare yourself with others. 
  • Top level goals are not necessarily needed for everyone especially if you have your priorities in order. However if you’re stuck or unsure of what direction to take in life it can help. 
  • Trying to say what you’re all about (10 words or less) can be a very valuable exercise. Particularly useful for leaders. 
  • If a top line goal or mission statement is well written in can help. But too vague and it’s lost. 

3 – This Intelligence Squared podcast episode: The Reckoning: Kwame Kwei-Armah and Idris Elba on the Arts and Black Lives Matter. Two leading voices from the arts, Kwame Kwei-Armah, artistic director of the Young Vic, and Idris Elba, star of The Wire and Luther, discuss what should happen and is likely to happen in the world of culture as we move forward in the wake of the brutal killing fo George Flyod. My notes and quotes from the show are below.

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • When you take away art you take away people’s voice. This becomes a pressure cooker for disaster. 
  • People need their voices. They need healthy ways to express their thoughts and feelings. It’s going to be an explosive time when people are allowed to express themselves again. 
  • When my 15 year old son asks if I can join the march despite the threat of covid I ask why. When he replies that a white knee on his neck and structural inequality are a bigger threat than covid what can I say? 
  • History often forgets what has comes before
  • It’s up to the older generation to be both inside and outside the house. To be encouraging the noise outside the house but also listen on the inside and make the changes needed to fix this. 
  • We must lead by example. Don’t wait for others to put their hands up. If you know the answer then speak. 
  • Knowing the answer is getting on with it.
  • Its easy to fixate on how bad the past was – to talk about our history. To look and marvel at how far we’ve come. But this can be self defeating for our future. 
  • We should always be thinking about where we are going 
  • Diversity of thought is so important. To have people who think completely different to you around you. To get you to think differently. 
  • How do we change the ratio of ethnicity in the work place? By diversity of thought. 
  • Art and artists. Everything is born of our imagination.  Everything. Look forward with your eyes open. 
  • If you want to make it in this world as a black mane you have to be twice as good as a white man. 
  • This intention is feeding a generation.
  • Telling our children to be twice as good has become a huge advantage because we have become multifaceted. We are no longer simply hustling on one front but multiple fronts. 
  • Our progress is coming home to roost. 
  • While our burden has become our strength and made us better it has come at a cost. We don’t want our children to keep growing up worrying about having to be twice as good and fight racial inequality. 
  • Change is coming but it isn’t going to happen over night. The mistake we’ve made is thinking the storm has passed. The storm is still here.
  • The future is alive and well in our children. Look – it’s already here! They are out and fighting. They already see themselves as a joint generation. We didn’t and they do. This is progress. Stay positive and believe in the change. Get on board. It’s happening. Get on board. If you don’t you’ll end up drowning. 

1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

We were talking to my parents over video call the other day when my mother apologised for arriving a little late. She explained she had been busy baking buns. Something she’d been doing a lot of recently. #covidlife

I said, “It sounds like you’re on a bit of a roll.”

I got the usual sarcastic moan. 

I continued, “It’s ok, I can see how it must be a lot of bun!”

The laughter was deafening…


Till next weeks terrible joke,

Happy Fucking Mondays Everybody!

P.S. Don’t forget to exercise your silly muscle this week!

One Bonus question for you all:

What ‘bun’ things have you been doing lately?


PREVIOUS HAPPY MONDAY POSTS:

Happy F***ing Mondays – 22/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 15/06/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 08/06/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 25/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 18/05/20

Happy Silly Mondays – 11/05/20

Happy F***ing Mondays – 08/06/20

Hello fine readers and welcome to my Happy Fucking Mondays Post – a weekly newsletter that attempts to rewrite the narrative Mondays are the shittiest day of the week. (Or at least start it off in a slightly less shit fashion.)

To my regular readers who almost certainly don’t care that I missed last week – I’m sorry – I was busy flying, believe it or not! I did manage to post my monthly roundup though – Notes From My Journal – which can be found here.

This week, to make up for missing last, it contains 5 thoughts from me, 5 quotes from others and 3 things I’ve been reading, watching and/or listening to this week. 

As a bonus I’ve finished with one something silly to hopefully make you all smile. 

Hope you enjoy!


5 x Thoughts I’ve Been Thinking:

When thinking in terms of being right, you’ve lost. When thinking in terms of trying to learn and be better, you’ve won. This is true regardless of the outcome. 

Forcing your views on others doesn’t make you right. 

The biggest mistake people make is spending their whole life trying to build up their ego instead of letting it go. If you can learn to do that you’ll be truly unstoppable. 

True peace comes from changing your relationship to your own mind. It has little, if nothing, to do with external reality. 

One reason why parenting is good for you: You become comfortable covered in piss and shit.


5 x Quotes I’ve been Pondering:

“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.” – The scientist, astronomer, and author, Carl Sagan.

“Each second we live in a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that never was before and will never be again. And what do we teach our children in school? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all of the world there is no other child exactly like you. In the millions of years that have passed there has never been another child like you… You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is like you, a marvel? You must cherish one another. You must work—we must all work—to make this world worthy of its children.” – The cellist, composer, and conductor, Pablo Casals.

“When everything seems to be going against you remember, that an aeroplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford

“Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” – Abraham Lincoln 

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality.” – Vietnam War. Admiral James Stockdale 


3 x Things I’ve Been Listening/Reading/Watching this week:

1 – This brilliant article : 5 Ways to Build Resilience and Conquer Adversity by Mark Manson. I’ve been a big fan of his writing ever since I read his first book: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. Both are worth your time.

5 quotes from the article:

Psychological resilience doesn’t come from positive feelings. It comes from leveraging your negative feelings. Resilience is the ability to create positive adaptations to negative events.

The easiest way to overcome that anxiety is not to get rid of risk, it’s simply to make the risks worth something. Find some cause, some mission, some deeper purpose to your actions.

Those who are prepared for pain are the most resilient in the face of pain. Those who expect challenges are the most ready to face challenges. Therefore, an optimal mindset towards life is a dual-sided approach: an outward pessimist — “Life is fucking hard and the world is shit” — but internal optimist — “yet I can handle it, and I’ll be better for it.”

When I think about the most resilient people I’ve ever known, what strikes me about them is that they don’t just invite struggle into their lives, they adopt an identity around their struggles. They allow themselves to be defined by their struggles.

If you are currently suffering, the most valuable thing you can do is reach out and connect with someone, talk about your problems, and share your pain. It’s the most necessary ingredient to coping with any sort of psychological trauma.

2. This insightful Mark Hyman podcast on The Science Of Creating Happiness with Laurie Santos.

Some of my notes from the show:

‘We have become human doers instead of human beings. We forgot it’s in being – savouring the present moment – that we find true peace and happiness.’

‘Studies have shown that writing down 3 to 5 things a day you’re grateful for has been linked to significant improvements in happiness within just two weeks.’

‘Being of service to others – giving more to others – doing charity makes you happier over time because you are connecting often with people less fortunate. This helps you appreciate that what you have is enough.’

‘Never in our history have we had an object so compelling as the smart phone. It’s taking an attentional cost that’s taking us away from presence that we need for our wellbeing.’

‘Rates of depression and anxiety spiked around 2007 (and have stayed there) – this correlates with the invention of the first iPhone.’ 

‘Post-Traumatic-Growth’ – great way of rephrasing how you responded to difficult periods/trauma in your life.

3. This excellent Tim Ferris podcast with Jim Dethmer on How to Shift from Victim Consciousness, Reduce Drama, Practice Candor, Be Fully Alive, and More.

Some of my notes/quotes from the pod:

“You don’t find peace through understanding, you find peace through acceptance.” 

“If we could think our ways out of our suffering we would have done it already.”

“When dealing with suffering often acceptance beats thinking. Be present and allow your emotions to manifest.” 

Blame is always a limiting contracting fault finding energy. It’s always rooted in the need to be right.”

‘The addiction to being right is so strong in us – our ego doesn’t believe it can survive if it’s not. So we find it incredibly difficult to move past our fixed beliefs regardless if they are right or wrong.’

‘You want a life of full aliveness – it is heavily rooted in integrity. In feeling whole.’

‘So many of us destroy our aliveness through pretending.’


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

For some reason my son has been having a little trouble pronouncing the ‘tr’ at the start of the word ‘truck’, replacing it with what can only be described as a ‘f’ sound instead.

This is particularly strange given he’s never had any trouble with words like ‘tractor.’

Equally he’s taken to dropping the p from the end of the word ‘dump.’

We tried hard not to give attention when we first heard him proudly announce “dum-Fuck” as he held up a toy dump-truck in his hand.

This went well until his grandparents asked him what he was holding when on a Zoom call with our entire family in attendance…

‘Dum-Fuck’ is now his favourite toy and word.


Till next time,

Happy Fucking Mondays Everybody!

P.S. Don’t forget to exercise your silly muscle this week!

One Bonus question for you all:

What’s your favourite toy and word?

NOTES FROM MY JOURNAL – APRIL 2020 – On COVID-19, Fear setting, practising Compassion, Gratitude, cultivating Mindfulness and more…

Hello fine readers and welcome to my monthly newsletter – a series of my thoughts and feelings from my journal.

Included is a round up of what I’ve been reading and writing, plus a collection of my favourite bits and pieces from around the web, and finally a collection of thoughts and ideas from yours truly. I hope you enjoy!


WHAT I’VE BEEN WRITING:

12 Personal Commandments for a Happier Life

As inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s wonderful Happiness Project, I decided to put together a list of my own 12 commandments for living a happier, healthier and more purposeful life.

5 Mindfulness Hacks to Help Bring You Back to the Present Moment

5 Mindfulness Hacks that I like to use informally throughout the day to help bring me back to and fully engage with the present moment.

How to Gain Enlightenment While Taking a Dump. – Favourite Books for Moments of Profound Pooing

A fun post about creating the habit of reading books while on the loo!

Am I doing this because of Fear or Love? – a question for motivation and guidance

A post based on the question; “Am I doing this because of love of fear?” that I heard from the following Tim Ferris podcast: Dr. Vivek Murthy — Former Surgeon General on Combatting COVID-19, Loneliness, and More  

Now is the time – What will you do with yours?

A piece to inspire action from isolation as inspired by the following Kitty O’Meara poem:

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

The Nature of my Child

A short post inspired by my son/this quote:

“Every child has a god in him. Our attempts to mould the child will turn the god into a devil – A. S. Neill


WHAT I’VE BEEN READING

BOOKS:

2 books have dominated my reading and re-reading for the past two months – both of which I can highly highly recommend reading, especially during this time of great uncertainty.

The first is RADICAL ACCEPTANCE by Tara Brach

From Amazon: “Writing with great warmth and clarity, Tara Brach brings her teachings alive through personal stories and case histories, fresh interpretations of Buddhist tales, and guided meditations. Step by step, she leads us to trust our innate goodness, showing how we can develop the balance of clear-sightedness and compassion that is the essence of Radical Acceptance.” 

The second is AWARENESS by SJ Anthony de Mello

Although written some time ago now – this book is the best I’ve read that translated to me what spirituality means and why cultivating greater awareness is something we all need.

Another book I can highly highly recommend is the beautifully illustrated ‘THE BOY, THE MOLE, THE FOX AND THE HORSE’  by Charlie Mackesy. 

It’s not only deeply moving and thought provoking, it’s a beautiful piece of art in its own right. I could pick any quote and it would be worth sharing, but I’ll leave you with just one that hit home for me on a personal level.

“What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” asked the boy… 

“Help”, said the horse.


OTHER BITS AND PIECES FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Fear setting – who Tim Ferris described as the most valuable exercise he does every month – is an exercise in defining some of your fears about a difficult decision you are considering making, versus the longer term costs of doing nothing. I used it this month to consider what might happen if I lost my job and found it a very reassuring exercise.

This inspirational video of a speech by Orator Jonathan Roberts addressing graduating seniors at Harvard’s Senior Class Day ceremony on May 24, 2017 at Tercentenary Theatre.

THOUGHTS & IDEAS FROM MY JOURNAL:

ON COVID-19, DEALING WITH FEAR, PRACTISING COMPASSION AND BEING GRATEFUL:

Gratitude, with rare exception, gives you a more accurate interpretation of reality.

Do not try to change people, that’s the wrong approach. Instead try only to help people.

The inability to forgive each other and people’s unwillingness to admit they’re wrong go hand in hand.

The Chinese character for crisis translates as danger + opportunity. I think this is brilliant. Danger meaning a need to be careful and vigilant – a need to act. But as with any crisis there is also opportunity for growth and to learn – to profit from setback.

Make your mission about helping others, not validating the ego. Make your mission about inspiring hope, not criticising others for acting out of fear. After all, are we not all irrational when acting from fear? Have compassion for those who are scared and forgive those who acted rashly and misled the public based on limited, information. We are all fools in this together. Don’t attack. Be kind.

ON DEVELOPING THE MIND AND MINDFULLNESS:

As a rule: Clarity first. Action second.

The great thing about momentum: eventually is becomes easy.

It matters less what you choose to do, but that you give that thing your undivided attention.

Everybody’s mind is filled with bullshit. Wisdom comes from shifting through that bullshit and picking out what you know to be true in your heart. 

The egos need for validation will never be satisfied! When you feed it, its appetite over time only grows. You have to let it go!

Your insecurities prevent you from showing your true self.

The desire for others to say something positive about me is a reflection of my own insecurities. 

Your resistance to other people only serves to strengthen their position in your mind.

The mind is a tool – something to be used. If you fail to remain aware, the mind will take over and use you.

Learning to continuously question your beliefs, to unlearn everything you’ve been taught, to treat what you know with a very large amount of skepticism, is one of the most important skills one can cultivate.

ON PURSING YOUR DREAMS/DOING THE THINGS YOU LOVE:

Doing the things you love gives you the energy to the do the things you need but don’t. 

Better to be happy in failure than unhappy in success.

Ask yourself whether you are making this decision because of fear or love. A perceived need for more money is often driven by a fear of losing out, a fear of not having, or losing the things you already have. Of course thats not always the case. If you’re doing it for your family, for a better education for your children, a better neighbourhood for them to grow up, for certain their security, then those decisions clearly stem from a place of love. However that’s often not the case. What I want to stress is to the need be clear of the reasons for choosing to pursue a certain career or path. If the decision is about finding purpose – follow your heart.

ON PARENTING

I think in our efforts to make something of our children, we often do a disservice to that which is already there. I don’t need to make him into anything. I simply need to encourage what is already there, for him to flourish and realise his full potential. 

There is no need to force parenting, just be present and you’ll understand what you should do.

ON HONESTY, EXPECTATIONS & FORGIVENESS

Being honest with someone is important, but unless you do it compassionately you’re probably wasting your time. People aren’t willing to receive rocks if you hurl them – they’re either going to duck and hide, or throw them back. 

The truth hurts because we are breaking down that persons reality – pointing something out they didn’t want to hear. That’s why it’s important to be kind, but to be kind while being courageous enough to tell them the truth.

People often expect an apology before they’re willing to forgive. Forgiveness should come first without any expectations. Ones apology will often be returned with far more sincerity if you do. 

The Power of Routine in Cementing Habits, Lifting Mood and Increasing Productivity.

“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.”

― W. H. Auden

I’ve worked hard on perfecting my day to day routines over the last half year – in the process cementing a number of positive habits that has had a profound effect on my general mood, motivation and productivity.

Not only have I been far more consistent in going through my morning routine, the implementation of an evening routine (as recommended by my therapist) has, among a number of other benefits, helped improve my relationship to sleep tremendously.

For those interested readers I have listed a breakdown of my current morning and evening routines in detail below. Hopefully it will serve as inspiration should you be looking to build upon your own morning and evening routines.

My Morning routine:

#1 Wake up – Drink a glass of water and make my bed first thing! (This sets the tone). 

#2 Go to the bathroom – brush my teeth and weigh myself. 

#3 Change into workout clothes – then meditate for 10 – 20 mins without fail!

#4 Exercise for 5mins (if nothing else) to 1 hour (usually 30-40mins of HIT or Weights/Strength trainingFor those interested in doing similar I can highly recommend checking out fitness blender online or via YouTube. They have hundreds of brilliant at-home workouts for all levels, that require nothing more than a yoga mat).

#5 Shower and get changed into my best clothes for the day! 

#6 Make Brunch – low carb/high protein – and take my vitamins (I usually skip breakfast as part of my fasting window in which I only eat during a block of 8 hours a day) with coffee or tea. 

#7 Go to Office –review my day plan/goals and write in my journal. (I keep my journalling very simple – tip hat to Tim Ferris for the inspiration – by asking myself a few questions. Those are: What am I grateful for? What is worrying you most today (and what can i do about it)? What would make today great (how would you spend it if it were your last)?)

#8 Write or work for 1 hour. (Sometimes in the chaos of playing with my boy or doing other things I’ll ear-mark a period in the afternoon- usually when my son has his nap – for work and/or writing ✍️). 

My Evening routine:

#1 Have dinner as a family at the table – mention one thing you’re grateful for today and one thing you could have done better (works well as a conversation starter).

#2 After dinner – run through Liam’s bed time routine and put him to bed. 

#3 Go to the office immediately after and write tomorrow’s plan/goals and also in my journal. (Again I ask myself a few simple questions. Those are: 3 amazing things that happened today? What did you do well? How could i have made today better? What did i learn?)

#4 Shower and change into pyjamas. 

#5 Make a cup of tea to enjoy on the couch – watch some TV/play games (Limit to 1 hour or 1 movie) and/or read. 

#6 Stretch – 30 mins of gentle Yoga (I usually do this while watching TV)

#7 Brush teeth/get ready for bed then TALK TO HOLLY EVERY NIGHT WITHOUT FAIL! (How have you been doing today? Are you OK? What are some things you have been thinking about or are bothering you?)

#8 Reading

#9 Evening meditation (visualisation) then sleep. 

Routine is massively underrated and something I now believe to be so so important.

Some key takeaways… 

Start small and do what you can. On a near perfect day I’ll tick every item off the list but I rarely do. Thats ok. I don’t imagine many would ever be able to run through their routines perfectly, so if you can’t do, for example, 20 mins Meditation then do 10. If you can’t do 10, do 5. If you can’t do 5 (really?) do 1. If all you have time for is 1 push up then just do that. Tick it off and improve the next day. The important thing is to show up. 

Change it to suit your needs on the day. I often have to change the order if I don’t have the time for something like getting in a proper session of exercise. In this case I’ll try reschedule it for the afternoon or count it as my weekly rest day. If it doesn’t get done don’t beat yourself up – simply get on the horse the next day. 

That said I have found that if I do just 3 or 4 out of 8/9 on each list, I’ll have a much better day than having done nothing. For that reason I have a few NON NEGOTIABLE ITEMS.

In the morning these are making the bed and meditating first thing. I also make sure to write in my journal (I’ll do it over breakfast if I’m really pushed for time as it only takes 5 minutes. This is about the same amount of time it takes to brush my teeth, so I feel there are no excuses).

In the evening my non negotiable items are making my plan for the following day and again writing in my journal. Also talking to my wife at the end of the day, if only for 5 minutes. I like to think of these non-negotiable items as my abbreviated MRs and ERs.

If all else about my day fails and turns to complete dog shite, I can at least to go to bed knowing that I’ve done these simple things. I showed up even on a bad day.

With the world in isolation because of the COVID-19 I might add that now is the perfect time to start implementing your own morning and evening routines. Ones that help to build healthier long-term habits to hopefully last far longer than this crisis does.

January Review

“How noble and good everyone could be if, every evening before falling asleep, they were to recall to mind the events of the whole day and consider exactly what has been good and bad. Then, without realizing it, you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day; of course, you achieve quite a lot in the course of time.”

Anne Frank 

STATS:

Meditated  – 31/31 days (currently 144 days in a row)

Exercise – 17/31 days (Injured back lifting weights)

Writing – 20/31 days – Published 1 post/week on blog (5 total)

Reading – 24/31 days – Finished 3 books (The 4 Hour Body – Timothy Ferris. Tools of Titans – Timothy Ferris. How To Self-Publish A Children’s Book – Eevi Jones).

Alcohol free days – 20/31 days – 1 x alcohol free week (1st – 7th)

10k + Steps – 21/31 days

WHAT WENT WELL?

Meditated every single morning. 

Got plenty of reading and writing done – resulted in reading a total of three books plus publishing a post on the new blog every week (5 total)! 

Diet has been consistent, keeping to largely protein rich/low carb meals during my fasting window of 12-8pm. 

Completed alcohol free week (1st – 7th). 

Body weight = 75.2kg and body fat = 17.1% as of Jan 31st. Although my body fat loss has plateaued in recent weeks I’m mindful of the fact I’ve not been lifting weights or doing HIT because of my back (see below). (Also I’ve been having a few more cheat days as Mum and Dad have been in town to celebrate a belated Christmas and Chinese New Year!) At any rate I’ve not gained weight which is a plus. 

Injury setback through weight training. Despite this I managed to modify my exercise regime – replacing planned weight and hit workouts with lots of swimming (FYI swimming is awesome!). It has also given me a few ideas for upcoming blog posts. 

In terms of admin got plenty done – filling my UK tax return and paying my HK ones. Also organised new mortgage for UK property. 

WHAT DIDN’T GO WELL?

Work – haven’t performed as well as I would have liked although, in my defence, I’ve not done much flying this month. At any rate, still plenty of room for improvement. Lack of motivation still an issue too. How might I resolve this and find my former enthusiasm for flying? Honestly I think I’m suffering a little burn out following nearly ten years of long haul flying. A longer break this year is planned for exactly this reason. As a way of resting, resetting and coming back stronger. 

Injury set back. Managed to hurt my back during weights training. This stopped me from working the second half of the month due to lower back pain associated with sciatica. The warning signs were there – a small twinge but definitely felt something before stupidly going ahead with weights training when I should have backed off. MISSING ONE WORKOUT TO PREVENT INJURY IS ALWAYS WORTH IT! Listen to your body!

At home I’ve not prioritised writing a will which I keep putting off – mainly because I’m lazy which is no excuse. Get it done!  

WHAT DID I LEARN?

Mentally it’s been a tough month with this back injury. I have felt angry and frustrated, failing to see the bigger picture – ie. it will pass and NOTHING IS PERMANENT. I think finding the time to BE MORE PLAYFUL and HAVE MORE LAUGHS with friends and family should be a priority for February. Mercifully I have some leave this month and plans to go to skiing in Japan (back permitting) with the family. I must make the most of it regardless of how much skiing I can actually manage. 

TALK TO YOUR WIFE more (insert expletive) head. She’s your partner and wants to help you (just like the rest of your family!). Communication clearly still a weakness for me. My idea of talking every night before bed is a good one but I must MAKE A POINT OF REALLY ENGAGING. Asking more questions and listening intently. Just as importantly TELL HER WHAT’S REALLY ON YOUR MIND

Two things I can think of implementing straight away: 

MEDITATE MORE OFTEN, not just in the morning. Meditation really helps but I think I’m simply going through the motions a bit with my morning practice. My plan is to experiment more with different times during the day when I have a quiet moment and to meditate in the evening just before I go to sleep! 

When talking to my wife in the evening come prepared with THE SINGLE GREATEST CONCERN you have had during the day and TELL IT TO HER. Don’t keep it to yourself.

There is always an opportunity with any set back and it’s important to look for it. Following my injury I told myself NO EXCUSES, that THERE IS ALWAYS A WAY TO MODIFY even if you have to scale way back! Adopting swimming has been a great way to do this given the circumstances and is something I’m particularly proud of implementing. It turns out SWIMMING IS AWESOME and I believe is what’s responsible for a marked improvement in my cardiovascular system. My resting heart rate dropped from the mid to low fifties into the mid to high forties for the first time in a long time! Not to mention it’s been brilliant for my back pain. 

Another silver lining regarding my back injury is I’ve had more time to read and write. TAKING NOTES OF THE BOOKS I READ is something relatively new I’ve been doing but has proven a GREAY WAY TO CONSOLIDATE MY LEARNING. One thing I’ve noticed is that I’m spending more time on writing blog posts then continuing with my children’s book. I must revisit notes from how to self publish a children’s book and WRITE A TIMELINE TO FOLLOW. Approaching an editor will be a close second objective. 

My 2020 GOALS & PLEDGES

Following on from my 4 part 2019 review, below are my pledges and goals for the coming year. I intend to do a monthly review of these goals as a way of holding myself on accountable as the year progresses. I hope you enjoy!

MY 2020 PLEDGES

By the end of 2020 my wife and I will have begun trying for a second child (or be pregnant with the second (and last!) on the way). 

With regards to work I will be “command ready” having worked to further my operation and confidence to its highest ever level. I will have attended a performance based course to help in this regard. I will have taken an extended period of 3 months off work from May till July. 

Health wise, I will be far more consistent with regards to my exercise and healthy living habits, sticking to my morning and evening routines that incorporates yoga and/or some other form of physical exercise. I will have completed one alcohol free week every month plus one alcohol free month during the year. My eating habits will much improved following a ‘slow carb diet’ 5 days a week. I’ll also have found a new activity based hobby that I enjoy outside of the home. As a result I’ll be as fit as ever having achieved my desired body fat percentage of 14%. My back injury will have completely healed.

My mental health will be vastly improved due to a more consistent practice of meditation, reading and writing that I’ll have better incorporated into both my morning and evening routines. I will have attended at least one silent retreat and a transcendental course to further my practise. I will have opened up to my parents about my previous difficulties and become much closer to them as a result. I will talk to my wife every single night when at home before bed.

In my spare time I will continue to write everyday. My first goal will be to write and publish a children’s book for wiggles. I will also start a new blog that explores the question of how to live a healthier and happier life at home and at work, as well as being a better father, husband and all round human being. I will have taken the time to volunteer and start annual donations to two new charities. 

At home I will be far more environmentally conscious having done a large amount of research into how I can live more sustainably. This will act as a model for Wiggles as he grows up.

Financially we’ll be in very good shape having organised a better tracking/savings system as we look to the future. We will have made a significant investment into my brother’s hedge fund and also a third property. I will have also invested in renewable technologies and/or an environmental project aimed at helping save the planet. Insurance wise we will have reviewed and updated all our policies and plans as necessary and have set up a will. 

MY 2020 GOALS

HEALTH

MENTAL

  • Meditate 365 days/year
  • Attend a silent retreat
  • Complete a course in transcendental meditation 

PHYSICAL

  • 5 x Exercise days/week
  • 4 x Alcohol free days/week
  • 1 x Alcohol free week/month 
  • 1 x Alcohol free month/year
  • 5 x low carb/high protein days/week (during intermittent fasting window 12 till 8)
  • 4 x long fast/year (24hr-76hr)
  • 14% body-fat goal 
  • Stretch/Yoga daily

OTHER

  • Perform LASIK
  • Heal back injury
  • Find new activity based hobby to commit weekly
  • Oxfam Trail Walker 2020?

CAREER

AVIATION

  • Be ‘Command Ready’ by 2021
  • Complete Performance course through work
  • Logbook journal after every flight – write 1 thing I did well and 1 thing I could do better
  • Take an extended period off work (3 months following LASIK? – May – July)

WRITING

  • Publish first children’s book
  • Start new blog (with a particular focus on health this year)
  • Post 1 new article/week
  • Write daily (As a minimum in my 5MJ)
  • Read 2 books/month
  • Read daily

FAMILY/HOME/TRAVEL

FAMILY

  • Set Liam goals to help his achieve throughout the year
  • Date night x 1/week
  • Talk to my wife every night when at home
  • Open up to Mum and Dad

HOME

  • Environmental research/piece on blog about how to live more sustainably/responsibly at home for the family to centre around 
  • Set goals and make changes based on this research

TRAVEL 

  • Skiing Japan Trip (February)
  • April/May getaway with Holly
  • Silent retreat (May in Bhutan?)
  • UK Trip (June)
  • Croatia and Serbia – Villa plus Ogi and Mia wedding (September/October)
  • UK (Christmas)

FINANCE/INSURANCE 

FINANCE

  • File/pay UK Taxes
  • File/pay HK Taxes
  • Research new mortgage for London apartment
  • Invest in my brother’s fund
  • Invest in third property
  • Sort better tracking/savings system with longer term goals in mind

INSURANCE

  • Write a will
  • Set up loss of income insurance through Union

CHARITY

  • Set up annual donation to 2 x new charities
  • Volunteer locally

My 2019 Review – CAREER, WORK and WRITING✍️

Hi there and welcome to part 2 of my 2019 review! Today I’m looking at work, specifically my career in aviation and as a writer. As before two major questions are driving my thoughts. Those are, ‘What went well?’ and What could I do better?’. I hope you enjoy.

AVIATION

In terms of my job (the one that pays the bills), I’m flying less often as a result of requesting a long haul roster, which means I get more days off. Given how young my boy is, family time is simply a much bigger priority for me at the moment. I don’t feel guilty about this however, the result is, quite naturally, a less proficient operation. Approaching my command I will look to focus more on my operation again, but for now and looking forward to 2020, given it’s still a way off, my focus will remain on improving my own health and well-being on top of becoming a better father to Liam and husband to Holly. 

With that said I would at least say I have achieved a much healthier relationship towards work, especially with regards to flying through the night, which previously occupied a much greater and more negative space in my head. Working with my therapist has paid dividends in this regard.

I also have a better handle on my anxiety toward flying with certain, shall we say, personality types. Although rare, previous experiences had left me feeling nervous almost every time I showed up to work. Outside of my family it was perhaps the biggest driver for me to seek help. I used to take work home with me all the time – worrying about my performance, lack of drive, who I might have to fly with, the havoc night flying must be having on my health – basically A LOT OF NEGATIVE SHIT. Without getting into too much detail about my therapy, we worked out a great deal of these thoughts stemmed from an underlying belief of inadequacy that I had been carrying around with me for a very long time.

I can happily say my perspective has changed significantly. The boundaries between work and home are much clearer – more or less forgetting about work when at home and feeling more excited and motivated when back at it. I’m less hard on myself when I don’t have the best day and far better at taking the positives.

Next year will very much be about bringing this improved perspective toward work consistently. I still have demons to fight, but unlike before I now look forward to the battle. I now want to put myself in the uncomfortable situations – take the more challenging sectors with the more difficult captains – knowing that I’m more than capable of dealing with them, but that I still have things to learn and room to grow. We always do. 

I think it’s fair to say I haven’t really felt like a captain yet up to this point in my career – settling and becoming too comfortable with my role as First Officer and Second Officer before that. However far off it may be, I want to feel that I am truly ‘Command ready’ by the end of 2020, so that the course may be less of a shock to the system than previous upgrades have proved. This will be my ultimate work goal for next year.

To achieve that I will look at perfecting my routines around work as well as at it. I will never turn down a sector offered and I will challenge myself at every opportunity to put myself in the captains shoes. I will seek to attend a command performance course. I will ask the question, “What could I have done better/differently?” Beyond that I will remember, It is a privilege to be an aviator and I owe it to the profession to give it my all. 

WRITING

Consistently writing every day has to be a major goal for 2020. Setting myself the goal of one post a week, or however many a month, has not proven the best way to get me writing. If anything I find it demotivating when I inevitably miss the deadlines set for myself. I think much more important is the process or routine of writing. Making it a daily habit. If I simply do, then I know I’ll be more productive regardless of how many articles/posts/books I actually end up producing.

Like a lot of things, I’ve had too much of an on and off relationship with writing, as has been the case this year. Happily I’ve seen a major improvement, in the latter part of this year. I have been writing almost everyday. In the past month. I’ve written my family Christmas newsletter, finished my first draft of my children’s book, which I hope to get published next year, written in my 5MJ every day and started this blog. Let see what I can get done in a year by committing to the simple goal of writing just one lousy paragraph a day.