Pass me the cheese, please.

As I was scrolling through the online comments below a newspaper article recently,  I saw one particular comment that made me stop and think.  So I noted it down, and here we are.  I can’t remember the subject of the article, but the comment read something a little like this:

“All this public soul-searching and self reflection is too much, we’re driving ourselves insane by overthinking everything”

I feel like that today.  Unusually, it’s a grey, rainy day here in Sydney, and it’s a Monday, and I drank a little too much wine with my sister last night.  The cobwebs have cleared, but my mind is foggy.  I feel quite glum, which is unusual for me.

For whatever reason, I’m sat here at my desk, unable to concentrate properly on my work, because instead of doing something, I’m thinking about what I’m supposed to be doing.  Which is madness, because I have bills to pay, and work to do.  And why am I thinking about what I’m supposed to be doing?  Because a few months back I had an experience that started a chain of events, that led to this blog.

So what, Chris?

So to you, the person reading this, you invest the 5-10 minutes it takes to read the post.  So you read it, absorb some of the bits you find interesting or funny, and then move onto the next thing in your life that grabs your attention.

Meanwhile, little old me over here, sits and types, and thinks, and types, and thinks some more, and so on.  The early posts I wrote flowed out of me, like pent-up sexual frustration being released by a good shag.  There was obviously stuff on my mind that I needed to get out.  The posts I write now require some thinking, and researching, and then I write some stuff.  But it doesn’t stop there, because then I stop writing and go away for a bit.  Then I come back and question everything I’ve written.  It’s the process I guess, but it can feel slightly exhausting at times.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the writing, but that questioning yourself part, it’s hard work.  And is it worth it?

If we do what the so-called experts in the area of personal growth tell us to do, and go deep inside to find out who we truly are, do we run the risk of questioning our lives and selves too much.  To slip, seemingly intentionally, into the world of neurosis?  Or insanity?

I don’t know the answer to this, but I shall definitely let you know if I lose my mind. I’ll give you a view on where I think I’m at right now though.

So, the positives – I feel happier, healthier, calmer and somewhat more content than I have done in a long while.  I am putting a lot less pressure on myself than I think I have always had the habit to do so in the past.  Kind of accepting myself, or some shit like that.  I’ve also cut out dairy (again) and feel wonderful for it.

The negatives: I miss cheese. And yoghurt.  And I’m also starting to develop a gnawing, unsettling suspicion that all this self-pondering is going to lead to me having to take some action to implement some changes – which is a scary proposition.

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In Tony Robbins’ second book – ‘Awaken the Giant Within’, he talks about the importance of taking action.  It’s a pretty obvious piece of advice when you think about it.  If you want to achieve anything in life, even retrieving a piece of mature cheddar from the fridge, you have to take action.  The problem we have, as I see it, is this: Going to the fridge to eat some cheese is a rather easy action to take, the payoff is known, the cost of taking the action is known (unless you’re lactose intolerant and don’t know it).  Embarking on a path of self-reflection and mental growth, however, is whole different ball game.  It’s not an easy action to take.

I know how to walk to the fridge.

I know how to eat cheese.

I know how I’ll feel after I eat the cheese.

I do not know how to grow as a person in the same way I know how to eat cheese – well not exactly true, but fuck me, where do you start?! What does ‘growth’ actually mean?

I also do not know what the outcome could be, 6 months, 12 months, 5 years into the future.. Can I be sure it’s a positive one?

I also don’t have a clue if it’s an action I should be taking.  What if I get to the fridge, and it’s a Danish Blue that I don’t particularly like, which has turned bad, and makes me sick.  I don’t want to be eating that piece of cheese when I could have been sat here happily chomping on a nice piece of Red Leicester (there is an underrated cheese if ever I saw one).  Fuck, I miss cheese.

Is my old view on life the Red Leicester?  Reliable, creamy, mild.  A known quantity that goes well on toast with Branston pickle.

I think it might well have been in my twenties.  I spent that decade happily chomping on the safe option.  However, as I neared closer to thirty I reckon that piece of Red Leicester started to turn a bit mouldy.  It carried on getting mouldier and mouldier, until I hit that point a few months ago when I opened up the fridge door (at that cacao ceremony) and saw a piece of aged Stilton.  This veiny blue and white cheese with a pungent aroma was obviously very intriguing to my eyes, and nose.

To nicely round off this analogy, I think what has happened is that I’ve started to take little, furtive nibbles on that Stilton.  I’m intrigued by it, and I’m starting to suspect that it is a far superior cheese to the big block of Red Leicester still sat in my fridge.  If I did throw out the Red Leicester and dived head first into a diet of just Stilton,  I reckon I’d have some major problems on my hands, and they wouldn’t simply be digestive.

Maybe what I need to do is trim the mould from the sides, and eat a bit of both.

Hit that 1000 word limit again.  Lunchtime is over, I should get back to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dating – it ain’t always so bad…. ;/

Ladies and Gentlemen, please let me introduce you to an old friend, and occasional foe.

My lovelife.

I should advise you, dear reader, that I could, and probably eventually will, fill twenty blogs posts charting the ups and downs of my romantic endeavours.  However, I’ve been advised that my last two posts were “a bit long”, so I’m desperately trying to keep this succinct.

“Endeavours”

LOL.  Car crashes more like.

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That being said, I do actually quite like dating.  Do I like the fact that I’m still dating at 34, when seemingly all of my close friends (on both sides of the world) are busy starting families with their loved ones?  Not particularly.  But, the act of dating itself, I rather enjoy.

I typed that out, but then I re-read it.  I’m questioning whether that is actually true or not.  So the format for this post is a good old-fashioned list of my pros and cons. Without the cons. They might come later in a follow up post.

PROS TO DATING

A) Meeting new people

Going on a date with a person you don’t know is great in this sense.  How often do you get the chance to sit down with a new person and interrogate the shit out of them?  I don’t mean in an aggressive sense, but it’s rare to be afforded a few hours of one-on-one time with a stranger.  Not only that, but to also be encouraged to pry into their lives, views and opinions.  When I used to go on dates in my mid-to-late twenties I didn’t really comprehend this.  My approach back then focused on trying to be entertaining and nice, thinking that would get me the girl.  Vomit.

IT NEVER GOT ME THE GIRL.

I’ve found that since I consciously focused on finding out about the other person, not trying to sell myself, my dates became more rewarding, and more successful.  It’s no surprise; I’ve removed a lot of the pressure I was previously putting on myself.  As a result they’re more fun.

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B) The thrill of the unknown

Walking into a place and not really knowing what to expect, it’s a buzz.  The extent of this varies depending on how I’ve met the girl sat on the other side of the bar.  Obviously if we’ve met in circumstances that haven’t involved a ‘swipe to the right‘, I’m going to likely have more of an idea than if this is the first time we are meeting.

Controversially, I’m going to notch up a small win for dating apps here.  Walking into a bar and spotting your ‘blind’ date looking incredible is a cracking feeling; jubilation and relief.  A bit like England winning that penalty shoot out against Colombia.  Mini internalised fist pump goes off.  Then a reminder to oneself to play it cool.  Don’t accidentally headbutt her whilst greeting hello.  Or touch a boob.

C)  It’s a good excuse to check out new bars and restaurants

Single people go out more. (quite often a) FACT.  We have to.  What’s the alternative?  Stay in and write a blog like it’s 2009?  As it turns out, you can do both.

I’ve been walking past a charming, little wine bar on my way home for over a year now.  I’ve always wanted to check it out.  Lads do not go to ‘charming, little wine bars’ together, we go to pubs.  I think this is a shame as I quite like charming little wine bars.

Recently I went on a date with a delightful Venezuelan lass, so I took her there.  It was worth the wait.  For Sydney locals, this is the place

In the absence of a significant other (don’t cry for me), a date is the golden ticket to the Willy Wonker Barossa Valley chocolate wine factory for adults.  Especially living in a major city like Sydney, where such places are everywhere.

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D) Conversation Topics Galore

I don’t mean conversation topics to discuss with a date.  I mean the absolute gold material that arises from ‘being active in the market‘.

If I had a dollar for every time I get asked about my love life I’d be a rich man. Well, no, but I’d probably have close to a grand kicking about.  And the compound interest is stacking up as I get older.

What I mean by that is, as more and more of the people I surround myself with couple up, and settle down – the more my stories of the dating world seem to be in demand.  I sense I’m being used for vicarious purposes.  I couldn’t care less.  As you can tell from this blog I’m not exactly scared of being open about what’s going on in my life.

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E) The Chase

Just like anything in life, if it’s worth having, you have to work for it.

Apparently it’s easy when you meet ‘the one’, if that’s the case then I definitely haven’t met her yet.

I went on a date with a friend of a friend recently, it was good fun, we got along well, but sparks didn’t exactly fly.  I think we both knew this, but because she acknowledged the fact I instantly became more interested.  I’ve been chasing her for a second date ever since.  I’ve rather enjoyed the chase even though I’ve accepted that nothing is likely to happen.

Do we place too much importance on the initial sparks?  – that probably deserves a more detailed assessment in another post.

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F) The new shirt

I am not a fan of shopping for clothes.  Shopping for food at the market – I can’t get enough, but traipsing round a shopping centre trying to find garments that a) I like the look of, and b) fit well, is not my idea of fun.

However, if I’ve got a date coming up, I seem to get a boost of energetic enthusiasm for buying something new to look good in.  I think there’s a pretty good chance that if I didn’t date, my wardrobe would consist of blue jeans from Uniqlo, black t-shirts from Zara and grey jumpers from wherever I find them on sale.

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G) It’s something to do

Literally.  Everyone around me, bar a couple of lads and my sister is settled down.  Plus we’re all in our thirties now and work responsibilities have grown significantly since the carefree days of the mid-twenties.  Dating offers a bit of a social lifeline.  Although I’ve also taken up Salsa dancing and play in a football team.  Can’t go into those dates too desperate for human interaction now, can I?

And with that, my friends, I’ve just breached the self-imposed 1000 word limit.  Have a good weekend.  Wish my right thumb luck.

#swiperight

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Lessons From Hunky Uncky Bill

Let me start by apologising to you, dear reader, for I fear this post will only be half as good as it may have been.  Reason for that later on.  It might also be twice as long as it may have been.  Reason for that – my ‘editor’ has swanned off on holiday for 2 months, thus leaving me no option but to write AND proof-read it myself.  The selfish git.

Anyhow, let’s get started.  A few weeks back I attended an SLG Day with my current employer.

“What’s an SLG Day?” I hear you ask.

SLG stands for ‘Senior Leadership Group’.  A chance for the makers and shakers of a business to come together; to review and discuss the past, the present and the future.

Look how far I’ve come, Mum and Dad!  I’m a fully paid up member of an SLG…. #madeit #myinvitationwaspossiblyamistake #epiclunchbuffetthough

As ‘SLGs’ go, this was one of the best I’ve been to.  Why?  In no small part it was thanks to an 80-year old aboriginal elder called ‘Uncle Bill’, and the ‘Welcome to Country’ talk he gave at the start of the day.

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Stock Photo – I sadly lost the actual photo I took of Uncle Bill (and ALL of my photos) when Apple wiped my phone during a ‘routine’ battery change.   There’s a lesson there.  BACKUP.

Uncle Bill’s message was refreshingly frank, so beautifully delivered, and so absurdly lengthy (like this post will soon turn out to be), that five minutes into it I decided to start taking notes.  And here is why I had to start with an apology: I took the notes with me to Bali last week with the intention of writing them up whilst I was away.  I lost the notes.

“Woah.  Back up.  What are you on about, Chris?  What does ‘Welcome to Country’ mean?”

Most of those residing within Australia will have heard this term.  ‘Welcome to Country’ is a ritual, during which a recognised elder of the aboriginal clan native to the area, will conduct a short ceremony welcoming the guests to their land.  (There’s more info on this ritual in the footnotes).  

‘Welcome to Country’ speeches are typically delivered during the opening of Parliament, major public events, and major meetings for Government organisations.  The few that I have benefited from witnessing have been short in duration (~5 minutes), and not particularly memorable.

That is, until I heard Uncle Bill’s.  His was a blockbuster.  Some argue that these speeches are ‘tokenistic’, since the British stripped the Aboriginal clans of their lands two hundred years ago.  Bill’s did not feel like a token at all.

As I mentioned earlier, Uncle Bill was eighty years of age. He was as spritely as they come.  He spoke with an unerring speed and a thick accent, making it hard to understand what the hell he was saying at times.  A task made doubly hard by his knack for chucking the odd bit of aboriginal language in the middle of a sentence here and there.

At the very start of Uncle Bill’s speech, he asked the 200-strong crowd to find someone nearby who they didn’t know, and say hello.  Fairly standard stuff.  The crowd complied.  The energy in the room ratcheted up 10%.  I noticed ‘Big Willy’ stood watching the room whilst we ferreted about making small talk with strangers.  He had a massive grin on his weather-beaten face.  Like he knew something we didn’t know.

We returned to our seats, and he resumed.  Uncle Bill began to talk of times before Captain Cook arrived in Port Jackson and decided to drop anchor in what is now more often called Sydney Harbour.  This was a time when, according to Bill:

  • They lived semi-nomadic lives with their clan, on the land of their fathers (and their father’s father, and so on)
  • They drank clean water from the rivers
  • The men hunted plentiful bush turkeys and other wild game which roamed the land
  • The women swam in the seas and rivers, catching fish and lobsters by hand
  • They slept under dark skies, going to sleep as the milky way trundled past overhead
  • Families within the clan lived together and supported each other
  • Children were raised and taught the ancient and respected ways of life, by their parents and other clan members.  Duties were shared.  Raising the young was everyone’s job.
  • The elders were respected
  • Work was catching and foraging food, maintaining camp, making tools, and raising the next generation
  • Play was catching and foraging food, maintaining camp, making tools, and raising the next generation.  Plus a bit of artistry, dancing and singing thrown in for good measure.
  • Bill didn’t specify this one, I’m making an educated assumption: They had lots of time on their hands: no literature, no commute, no netflix, no fancy brunches, or fancier wine bars, no gyms, low stress.  I’m betting they were shagging like rabbits.

Personally I find it ironic that we call the aboriginal way of life primitive and uncivilised.  LOL.  We gave the aboriginal people Coca Cola, and bread and jam, alcohol, cigarettes, and Smallpox.  They gave us, NO.  We took their beautiful land in return.  And since then we’ve systematically set about stripping it of resources, polluting its waters and laying down tarmack.

Before Captain Cook arrived, the indigenous people were strong, healthy and happy.  Smallpox and other western diseases wiped out over 90% of the pre-European settlement Aboriginal population – thought to be circa 1 million. Now they have the worst health of any demographic in the nation.  Great work  Cook & Co.

Bill kept on with the story telling, and I wish I had those notes so I could recount some of his tales to you.  They built up to a crescendo of a message which boiled down to this.  We are forgetting our connection to the earth, to mother nature, and to each other.  That everything on this planet of ours is interconnected.  We are forgetting that we have a duty of care.

Bill’s speech was allotted ten minutes in the agenda for the day.  He went on for a full thirty.  It was bloody brilliant.  The organisers comically exchanged worried glances back and forth every few minutes.  At one point, during a particularly raucous moment, I even shouted out for him to keep going.  I knew that a talk from the company CEO was up next, he could have been Barack Obama for all I cared, in my mind there was no way he could trump the poignant, yet hilarious Uncle Bill.

At the end of his speech, Bill asked us to stand once more, embrace the people stood near to us, and tell them that we love them.  We followed his orders.  The energy in the room went through the roof, the chatter and laughter was deafening.  I found this surprisingly easy, told a few strangers that I loved them, no biggie.

It would be easy to read the bullet points I’ve listed above and romanticise that old way of life that Bill so eloquently described.  Call me romantic if you like, but that’s exactly what I do.

I love going camping with mates, cooking steaks and veggies on an open fire, telling stories and jokes, drinking a bottle of red and sleeping under the stars.  I like clean water, I like fresh, organic produce.  I like being surrounded by friends and family, more than I like being alone.  I’m fairly sure I’d adapt pretty darn quickly to a life with my clan, hunting wild game, building fires, teaching and playing with the children.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I also like sex, and would gladly be having more of it.  Especially under the stars.

The success of agriculture and modern civilisation means we now exchange much of our time for money.  Normally this means working for someone else, so that we can afford to buy food, clean water, shelter, and then a whole host of other stuff.  Stuff to distract ourselves from the fact that we’re living a life wildly different to the one that we’ve evolved over countless millennia to live.  All that good stuff used to be free.  Now we have to pay for it.  And we call this progress.  It is what it is, but personally I think we have progressed too much.

I read the below quote a few years back, in a book called ‘Against the Grain‘, written by a chap called Richard Manning.  It’s an excellent read if you’re interested in stuff like this.

If you would have a group of hunter-gatherers watch the behavior of people in our society, they would think we were crazy because of the way we behave… because we are.

And we have become crazy because we have lost that physical contact with what goes on around us. We are sensual beings.

We try to replace it a million different ways… but it’s a substitute for what was there all along.

He’s essentially saying the exact same thing as Uncle Bill was at the SLG.  We use our time to buy money, and we use that money to buy things and experiences.  Cars, toys, tech, clubs, drugs, trips, gigs, shoes, art, subscriptions, prescriptions, etc, etc, etc.  In more primitive times we did not have access to such frivolous purchases.  Were we less happy?  Were we fuck.

In my last post I talked of my trip to Bali, and how, despite the food poisoning, I had a marvelous old time.  In retrospect, what I enjoyed most about that holiday, was not the exotic location, the 5* accommodation, the lavish meals, the day trips, or the pool parties.  Don’t get me wrong, that stuff was all appreciated.  No, what I most enjoyed, was being surrounded by a large group of friends for the entire 7 days.  Never being alone, unless I wanted to be alone.

I’m realistic, this ‘hunter gatherer’ way of life has long gone.  I listened to an excellent podcast with Jeff Leach recently (link in footnotes).  He’s an incredible guy who runs the ‘American Gut Project’.  He has also spent many years studying the lives, and the intestinal microbial diversity of the Hadza tribe in Tanzania.  He estimates that it is only a few years, maybe a decade before their traditional way of life is gone too.  Many of the tribe members have mobile phones, they have started to trade with modern civilisation, they take tourists out hunting with them, and antibiotics have inevitably appeared as civilisation brings disease.

Hunter-gatherer tribes like the Hadza, who have avoided the trappings of modern life, have microbiomes that are CRAZY diverse.  What does this mean?  It means a shed load more species of bacteria inside their intestines.  Is that good?  Yes – it most certainly is. Science now tells us that diversity amongst your gut bacteria colonies is the key to good health, to good immunity – to happy bodies, and happy minds.  City-dwelling folk who rarely visit the wilderness and subsist on a poor diet will have much less variety than the Hadza.  Hence why autoimmune disease rates are shooting through the roof.  Messed up microbiome = messed up human.  I have learnt this first hand unfortunately.

Doom and gloom could easily be the order of the day, but it need not be.  There is a chance, through technology, that we will find a way to resolve this quandary.  Alternatively, Mother Nature may force us back to the ‘old ways’.   Action is starting to be seen on a micro level.  The surging popularity of local farmers markets is evidence of this.  Young people are eschewing corporate 9-5 jobs.  I believe people, dissatisfied with the status quo, and priced out of extortionate property markets, will start looking to invest in land with friends and family, re-creating mini-modern day clans.  Growing our own food, spending more time with our children, supporting each other, and the precious Earth, may become in vogue again.

The results are in, leading physically-disconnected, but digitally-connected, indoor lives does not result in optimum happiness and/or health.  Maybe it’s time to learn to love camping, get out in nature as much as you can, invite all your friends.  It’s scientifically proven to make you happier and healthier.  Grow some vegetables in your garden if you have one.  Ferment cabbage.  Buy organic.  Walk lots.  Unplug.

Fuck.  The more I write and think about this stuff, the more I turn into a hippy.

Who’s up for starting a commune?

Footnotes:

Welcome to Country:  Prior to European settlement, each clan’s survival was dependent upon its understanding of food, water and other resources within its own ‘Country’ – a discrete area of land to which it had more or less exclusive claim. For this reason, traditional Aboriginal culture was highly territorial: visitors risked violent reprisal for crossing a tribal or clan boundary without permission.  Although there is no record of a welcome to country ceremony having existed in any traditional Aboriginal society, each group had mandatory protocols for seeking and granting permission to enter land. Wikipedia

Link to podcast on the Hadza microbiome: https://chrisryanphd.com/tangentially-speaking/2018/2/26/307-jeff-leach-microbiome-expert-anthropologist

Bali Belly Bliss (and a couple of earthquakes)

Let me preface this piece, right now, right here, by warning you, dear reader, that I am a tiny bit / a lot drunk as I type out this latest installment.  I’m going to aim to just type as I think, no drafting, no checking, just pure diatribe.  No plan, no heartfelt message, just what pops into my little hazy head.  It may, therefore, be a bit crap.  Conversely, it could also turn out to be genius, so read on.

I’ve just sprayed a load of dodgy Indonesian mosquito repellent all over me,  I found it down by the pool, I can’t read the ingredients.  I think it’s insect repellent – there’s a picture of a bug on the front.  I’m slightly intoxicated by the fumes, could be the beers, but this stuff stinks.  And it’s also stinging the skin on the back of my neck.  I think I’ll take a shower before bed.

It’s my 6th day in Bali, and bloody hell what a cracking week it’s been.  We’re here, a group of 11, celebrating my good friend Mark’s 40th birthday.  It’s quite an eclectic bunch.  We’ve got Mark; musician, personal trainer, trainee nutritionist, corporate high-flier, property investor, oh and he flies planes upside down, in loops, and vertically (literally) for fun.  I was introduced to Mark as “the overachiever”, almost three years ago.  It’s apt, but he’s also a lovely bloke, generous, funny, and a proper go-getter.  It’s hard to not feel inferior sometimes.  He doesn’t have a blog though.  Yet.

Mark’s Swedish girlfriend, Cecilia is also here (try not to sing the song as you say that out loud, oooooohhhhh Cecilia…), my sister, Charlotte, my long time friends Rupert and Melissa, whom I know from my time working at IBM a full ten years ago (holy shit!), my Aussie flatmate, Anthony.  Anthony’s friend; Vietnamese born, Aussie raised, and perennially chirpy, Rosa.  It was no surprise that her and my sister hit it off, Charlotte is a constant ball of positive energy too.  We’ve also got Mark’s friend from the UK, father of three, Richard, easily one of the best listeners I’ve ever met.  Richard didn’t know what a meme was until this week.  He has now been educated.  Rounding us off are Mark’s friends from work here in Sydney, Chris and Tamara (they own a boat – good people to know).

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Handsome bunch. We’d lost a few members of the group to food poisoning and early flights by this point.

I’ve been on group holidays before, but for the most part they were lads holidays.  This one has been quite different.  I’m here with 4 couples, a married dad on a rare break from family duties, and my sister.  Sounds like it could be a bit lame, as a 30-something single chap.  Au contraire.  The dynamic is different, but it’s been mucho funzo.  However, I am aware that I’m now officially the anomaly.  Couples are everywhere, the numbers of my fellow singletons are in terminal decline.

I’m not going to walk you through the activities of the holiday in detail.  We’ve had meals – so many meals.  We’ve had drinks -so many drinks.  Singing along to Chris and Mark’s guitar playing – so much crooning, preferably to Coldplay.  We’ve been to beach clubs, to hipster cafes, watched sunsets on beaches overlooking the Indian ocean, rainforests (I missed that one, thanks dodgy chicken nasi goreng), local markets, and yoga sanctuaries.

Incidentally Coldplay is playing on the UE Boom as I’m writing – Up&Up is the current song, it’s making me feel uplifted, or is that the mosquito repellent infiltrating my blood stream?).

I’m also suddenly aware that a bird is chirping in a tree nearby, why the fuck is a bird up at ten past midnight?  Do nocturnal birds exist?  I thought bats held the monopoly on late night flight.  I have barely touched the surface of this island, home to 4 million.  I’m definitely coming back.  When I do, I’ll do more yoga, and less drinking, maybe.

Oh by the way, if you’re in the market for a new bluetooth speaker, the UE Megaboom is perfect for a party of 11 and fills a large villa comfortably.

So, the dreaded ‘Bali belly’ has struck 5 of the 11, I was one of the unlucky 5.

Update: this number rose to 6 on the final day.

I was, however, the luckiest of the 5.  A single vomiting episode, and a mere 24 hours of fever and feeling weak AF.  Some of the others have not been so lucky.  Reports of “exits from both ends” have been rumoured.  The poor bastards.  I came armed with a large collection of probiotics, natural herbal antibiotics and antifungals, and I’m also a big fan of fasting.  When I was struck down, I tripled the doses, and didn’t let anything but water touch my lips for a full 24 hours.  Back. In. The. Game… Sort. Of.

Something Like This‘ just came on the MegaBoom, so let’s run with that.  Chris Martin wants “something just like this“.  What does he want?  Well I know what I want.  I want to feel these relaxed vibes that I’m currently enjoying – more often.

Why do I want this?

Because it’s how we’re meant to be.

Sure, we’re meant to work hard sometimes, but let’s dig deeper.  We’re meant to be surrounded by our people, trusted people. We’re meant to eat wholesome food (the food in Bali is outstanding FYI).  We’re meant to have fun, we’re meant to laugh, we’re meant to enjoy ourselves.  We’re meant to be switched off.  We’re meant to be free.

Conversely – we’re not meant to be connected to the internet 24-fucking-7.  We’re meant to sleep when our bodies need to sleep.  We’re not meant to be sat at desks tapping away at computers for 8-12 hours a day, crushing our internal organs.  We’re meant to spend time surrounded by plants, by people, by other species.

Sure, we’re probably not meant to eat epic breakfasts of all sorts of wonderful foods every day, but heck, I’m on holiday.  If I want three eggs, scrambled, with bacon, and spinach, and mushrooms, and tomatoes, I’m going to have it.  Sod it, keep going, I’ll take the hashbrowns, and some hummus, pumpkin toast and pickled cabbage too.  Just give me all the foods.   Except the gluten.  Or the E-Coli.

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Bali Brekkie looks a lot like an Aussie Brekkie…

“I’m on holiday”

It’s a weird concept when you think of it.  We take holidays to escape our day to day lives.  Why do we need to do this?

BECAUSE WE LEAD CRAZY FUCKING LIVES.

We really do.  I look around Sydney a lot and think to myself, “fuck, a lot of these people look unhappy”.  Or they look like zombies, staring at their phone with no emotion at all.  And to those of you reading this back in England, Canada, wherever.  You lot often look more stressed and pissed off more than the Aussies do.  Maybe the Vitamin D does them some good.  For the record, I’m just as guilty of looking unhappy and stressed as everyone else sometimes.  I’m not saying I’ve got it all worked out, I’m just aware that we have a strange status quo going on these days.

Bollocks, I said this wasn’t going to be a piece with a message or an agenda, but yet here I am on a full charge rant.  I realise that many of you will acknowledge what I am saying is true, obvious even.  This is nothing new, and I’m not aiming to preach here.  To rant is one thing.  To offer solutions is a whole different ball game.  I don’t have a magic pill.

I do however have an intention.  They talk in yoga of setting an intention for the class.  The same applies in life – here’s my drunkenly compiled, tropical holiday-inspired list:

  1. Spend as much time with your loved ones as possible.  Not just the immediate family and best mates.  See everyone you like and care for.  MAKE THE EFFORT.
  2. Get out and talk to people who you don’t know as much as possible.
  3. Get out in the sun.
  4. Take as much time off from the daily grind as you can.
  5. Do not put work above everything else.  Trust me, health is way more valuable than financial wealth ever will be.  You will never be healthy if you are chronically stressed.
  6. Let go of the shit.  Especially if you’ve got food poisoning.  Do not keep it in with closed loops of rumination.  Or Imodium.
  7. Eat good food.  Nutritious food.
  8. Turn off the technology every now and then.
  9. Play more board games.
  10. Re-learn how to sit and do nothing.  The buzzword is meditation, but that’s all it is really.  Do nothing. without distraction.  We all have this in us, it’s innate.  I think a lot of us have forgotten.  It’s the easiest and cheapest way to relax once you re-learn.
  11. Find a way that helps you to relax and do more of it.  If you don’t know what that is yet – just implement the 10 steps above as much as possible.
  12. Failing all of the above, book 2 weeks in South East Asia with a group of mates.

It’s getting late, even that chirpy bird has gone to bed.  I’m aware I haven’t talked about the earthquakes, maybe I’ll go into that experience in some more detail another time.  I will just say, for now, that it was quite a moving experience.

In keeping with the theme of the blog, ‘my best self’ (I’m aware what a slightly ‘wanky’ title it is, but, well you’ve got to stand for something…), I’m going to print up the list above and hang it on my wall at home.  I’m not suggesting you quit your jobs and ‘follow the dream’, or some tired cliche like that.  But maybe devise your own list of intentions, similar perhaps to the one above.  Have it printed and framed, hang it in the kitchen, and it will serve as constant reminder to do the things that will, ultimately lead to a happier, healthier life, for you and your families.

Happy holidays you lovely bastards.  Holiday is not a place you go.  It’s a frame of mind.

Namaste.

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‘Welcome to your practice’ #yogawanker

Gate 63

‘flying away’

Such an alluring prospect, isn’t it?

As I sit at gate 63, waiting to board my Virgin Australia flight to Bali, I open my laptop and the Windows-generated landscape photograph is one of horses grazing in front of a mountainous backdrop.  It got me to wondering: what did people do to ‘fly away’ before there were planes in the sky?  Was jumping on the back of a horse and galloping off to pastures new considered in the same dreamy, romantic manner that aerospace travel is today?

horse-ii

I’m sat on the black leather chairs, across from Gate 63, thinking to myself: would I rather travel to a destination by aeroplane or by horseback?  Tough one to answer, given I’ve never ridden a horse.  Unless a short trip up and down a blustery Isle of Wight beach on a sad-looking donkey counts.

I don’t think it counts.

By contrast, I’ve been flown on a LOT of planes.  Before I moved to Australia, I spent 18 months doing weekly work visits to Dublin, as a result, I reckon I’ve clocked up well over 200 flights in my time.  How’s that for a carbon footprint…

I don’t mind flying, but I don’t particularly relish it either.  It’s a bit of a faff, the food holds no appeal, and I struggle to sleep sat in a plane seat.  That last drawback is obviously wonderful when you’re flying return from Sydney to London at least once a year.  Invariably I’m a stumbling, slurring mess as I touch down at Heathrow, partly due to the lack of sleep.  The combination of out-of-date Thai Valium and herbal sleep tablets, that I’ve chugged down with copious amounts of the free red wine may have something to do with it too though.

Sleep aside, the biggest challenge of air travel that I personally face – is trying not to buy a new pair of Raybans every time I pass through Duty Free.

Seriously, what is it about Sunglasses Hut that I simply cannot resist?

I am proud to announce that as I sit here, at gate 63, I am smug in the knowledge that I have succeeded in avoiding this latest temptation.  That’s not to say I didn’t pay Sunglasses Hut a visit to try on a few pairs first.  For me, trying on a pair of sparkly Raybans, and not buying them, is akin to a junkie being tickled with a loaded syringe, and opting to squirt it down the loo instead of his or her favoured, ravaged vein.

Plane food.  Meh.  For the most part, it’s garbage.  There has, however, been one exception, I had a delicious Singapore noodle dish on an Etihad flight to Thailand once, there was even stainless steel cutlery to accompany it.  I still think favourably towards that airline purely because of the quality of their spicy rice noodles.  Airlines spend fortunes on marketing campaigns and loyalty schemes to encourage increased passenger numbers.  I don’t know why they bother, just serve up some half decent grub and the punters will flock.  Can you imagine if you could get a steaming, crispy half-chicken, sweet potato fries, coleslaw and a buttery corn-on-the-cob, whilst travelling at 5000ft?  Nandos in the air. Sorry vegos, sign me up!

I am a picky eater.  Not because I have an immature palate, but because I have a compromised digestive system.  This fact makes the in-flight choice between the chicken and lamb rather easy.  Neither thanks.  Fortunately, this budget flight to Bali isn’t serving a complimentary hot meal, so I won’t have to put up with the concerned look on the flight attendant’s face as I politely decline the ‘tantalising’, foil-encased morsels.

When I flew to the UK last Christmas I didn’t eat any food for the 30 or so hours it takes to get from door to door, I just drank water.  It cracks me up how panicky us spoilt, first world types get when there’s a risk we can’t shove some carbohydrate-laden crap down our insatiable gobs every 3-4 hours.  I schnaffled down plenty of calories in the form of delicious roasted and salted macadamia nuts before I jumped on this plane (I’m now no longer at gate 63, I’m in the air, real time reporting here, kids).  Those nuts will keep me going until tomorrow if I need it to.  Heck, my body fat could keep me going until next month if things got really tough.  I’m going to write a dedicated post about the trials and tribulations of my diet journey, and the perks of fasting, at some point, so I’ll leave the rant for now.

Side note: I’m still waiting for Chris Rea to release the sequel to ‘Driving home for Christmas’.  Surely it’s needed in today’s globalized society.  ‘Flying home for Christmas’, when living in Australia, is essential if you want a ‘proper’ Christmas.  It just aint the same Down Under.  I fancy myself as a singer, maybe I’ll release a cover, when this blog has made me rich and famous enough to make it financially viable, of course.

I like to think that I’d rather travel by horseback than aeroplane, I mean, sure, it might be a touch uncomfortable, the journey times may be tad longer, I wouldn’t be able to write this blog post, or take a shit during a patch of gentle turbulence.  However, I reckon trotting along on the back of Rufus the Horse, taking in my surroundings, stopping at the occasional inn for a feed and a glass of mead…. hang on, did I just join a fellowship, on a quest to destroy the ‘one ring to rule them all’, to Mordor?  Would be considerably more interesting than staring at the back of the seat of the person in front of me.

Of course, I haven’t travelled anywhere by horse, so I can’t answer this question from a position of experience, but I’ve got some trapped gas at this very moment, probably from consuming too many macadamias.  Bouncing along on the back of a horse would definitely sort this.  Trumpety trump.

I think most people would disagree with me on opting for the horse.  I get it.  It’s 2018.  The time for horses has passed.  Us humans, we all want to get where we’re going as quickly as possible.  Why on earth would you undertake an epic, 5 week slog to complete a journey, which could be done in an hour on an aeroplane?

Well, the internet is awash with quotes droning on about the ‘journey’ being more important than the destination.  We all ‘know’ this, it’s just a shame ,that for the most part, we don’t KNOW THIS.  A lot of us haven’t foggiest how to properly enjoy life in the moment.  Maybe we do in the micro sense, i.e. sat in the garden on a summer’s day, enjoying a bbq with friends, but the macro is much harder to come to terms with.  We rush, eager to get to the next milestone, the next place, the next promotion, the next upgrade.

This insatiable appetite for progress is sometimes labelled ambition.  In today’s society, ambition is often a politer way of saying you want to earn more money.  Possibly so you can buy a bigger house, or a flashier car, so people will envy your nice house, and flashy car.

What a crock of shit all that is.

I used to label myself ambitious in this sense, I was on a constant drive to further my career, so I could earn more money.  Then I got sick, and all my priorities in life went all up side da head.  I am still ambitious.  More ambitious if anything, but my ambitions in life are very, very different now. Playing the game to reach the upper rungs of the corporate ladder is no longer my objective.  That’s not to say I’m going to quit my job and become a fulltime cowboy, riding my steed in the outback, blogging about Australia’s red centre.

No, my goals in life now revolve around ensuring my health, happiness, acceptance, of both myself, and others, and growth.

I’ll continue to work as I do: I’ve been in the project management game for a decade now. I know what to do, and how I can add value to an organization, ideally without working myself into the ground.  However, through the time and effort I’m investing in this blog, and the work I’ve been doing with an amazing life coach (shout out to Julie Rice @ www.thoughtcoach.com.au), I’m starting to identify other, loftier ambitions.

I know, I know!  I have a life coach.  What a w@nker!  It’s funny, but it’s true.  But, I ask you, why would you not want to work with someone who can provide a bit of guidance in this messy old existence that we call life?  Think you’ve got it all worked out?  LOL.

What’s all this got to do with horses and planes?  Well, it’s a metaphor, peeps.  I used to be all about the planes, now I’m more about the horses.  I’m learning how to take it slow, watching the scenery change about me as I trot along the highway of life, stopping for the odd chat with a fellow traveler.  Enjoying the ride, man.  The ambitions I currently have are small fry, but they amount to a better me.  A version with a deeper inner confidence.  When a bigger plan comes along, which I think it will, in time, that inner confidence is going to be paramount.

In the meantime, however, horses can’t swim to Bali, can they?

Bali

Classic British tourist. White pins. Stupid hat.  Liked the artwork.