helpgrowchange

Picking up past projects

I read an interesting article the other day about how Isaac Asimov could write as much as he did. One of the main points that struck me was how he wouldn't stay "stuck" on any one thing. If he did feel like he was stuck, he'd simply move on to another project he had on the pile.

With my renewed focus on writing and planning some future pieces, I decided to look through my unfinished projects to see if anything came up. This snippet of a fictional story I started about 2 years ago stuck out, which I think you might find quite interesting.

I would love to know what you think?

Sam couldn’t wait to get out of the soaking rain and into the air-conditioned train. She couldn’t handle the rain matting her hair and ruining the collar of her favourite work blouse. Once aboard the train, she located a row near the back of the carriage where a tired looking, dark haired man sat by the left window, trying to fall asleep. An old man in a beige trench coat sat at the right window. She decided to sit next to the old man, thinking that she wouldn’t have to contend with snoring, or awkward positioning from the potential sleeper leaning over in his sleep.

Sam usually didn’t mind sleeping passengers on her commute, she just didn’t feel like it today. She had had a rough night with her toddler. He had come down with a fever yesterday and tended to overreact when he wasn’t well. After being woken up throughout the night, Sam was not in the mood to contend with discomfort.

“Good morning," said the old man with a smile as she sat beside him. Wow, what a voice, she thought to herself. She smiled and replied, “and to you”. “You look a little tired this morning, bad night?” he continued. Soothing, like honey on a warm slice of toast. “Yeah, my 3-year-old son is sick, and has a tendency to keep the household awake.” “That’s a shame,” he said. “I remember when my boy was that age. He would be very similar to your son.”

A crystal-clear image of a young boy emerged in her mind. This man’s voice. It’s rapturous. Why do I have such a perfect image in my head? The man continued with his resonating, pure voice “He would cry and cry. In his eyes, his mother was the only person who could comfort him”.

Just then, Sam was sure she heard a crying child – softly, almost as if it was at the far end of the train. The crying died down to a whimper, and a mother’s soft soothing murmur could be heard. Out the corner of her eye, Sam thought she saw a woman sitting in the empty seat across the aisle. She rocked gently, whispering soothing words in this child's ear. But when she turned to look, there was nothing. What the hell? She shook her head telling herself that the lack of sleep must be playing with her head.

The dark-haired, sleepy passenger across the aisle opened his eyes as Sam was watching. He glanced at the seat beside him, just where Sam's vision had been, shrugged his body uncomfortably, and closed his eyes again. Did he notice it too? Surely not, she thought.

Who is the old man? Why is his voice so captivating? Did Sam really see the woman and child?

Intriguing, I think I might just carry on this little project.

I'd love to know your thoughts on this snippet. 🙂

My family’s health and cherishing every moment

My friend has Hydrocephalus. I cannot begin to understand how hard it must be to live with something like that or any other debilitating condition.

I know of someone else who’s child suffered leukaemia, another person who’s wife is suffering cancer, and I’ve also worked with people who have keeled over with a heart attack or were killed in a tragic motorcycle accident.

These events and conditions of people that I am close to (and converse with on a daily basis) bring me to think about my own life and the health of my little family – and just how lucky and sheltered we are.

There is just no time to waste in our lives.

Every moment should be cherished.

But it’s not that easy, is it? Life gets in the way. Children whine, and bad customer service ruins our days.

It’s simply impossible to breathe in the moment all day, every day. I feel it, and I’m sure you do too. Everywhere on the Internet nowadays, we are being bombarded about mindfulness and embracing the Present. I struggle to do this all day.

What I have found, though, is if I consciously take a couple of minutes first thing in the morning and when lying in bed before I go to sleep, I find myself growing to appreciate a whole lot more in my life.

Make a conscious effort twice a day

In the morning I really concentrate on my first sip of water. I feel it across my tongue and travel down to my stomach. How the cold spreads across my chest. I truly try to appreciate that I am able to afford this drink and am able-bodied enough to lift it to my mouth.

I take just another moment to really feel grateful that all I needed to do was turn the tap and water filled my glass. I didn’t have to fight for it or walk 3kms or even boil it first.

Try it for a week. You might surprise yourself.

Then, just before sleeping, I tend to rewind my day through my head and highlight about 3 things I’m grateful for that happened. They are not always ‘big’ things.

Remember, it’s the small things that can be the most important.

For example, I might be grateful that we could afford a healthy dinner (and that my wife loves cooking healthy dinners ), or that I got a window seat on the train to the office, or that my house is still standing after the earthquake we had today.

What I’m trying to say is that you don’t have to follow these articles plastered all over the Internet saying you have to do it all the damn time. Just take a little of your time each day to acknowledge just how lucky you are.

What I fear the most

What is it that you fear the most? Heights? Spiders? Being rejected? I fear looking stupid in front of other people. Yeah, I’m hesitant of heights, can’t touch any animal with 6 legs or more (or no legs for that matter), but the one that really keeps me in my shell is embarrassment.

This is usually encompassed in activities such as dancing, being silly, or attracting attention in public. I don’t know what it is, but there is just a mental block when it comes to doing something in public.

I’ll go crazy and use dancing as an example.

Dancing is ok if I’m performing the minimal side-to-side stepping, but anything more and I risk looking like an idiot. My two-footed failed jive will be the laughing stock of the dance floor. The legend of my drunken-like stumble will grow. I’ll be laughed at for years to come.

I know it is stupid to think this, I guess that is why it’s called an irrational fear, right?

Just saying that out loud sounds stupid. In other areas of my life I push to challenge myself – I take opportunities at the office, I randomly navigate new ways to a destination using my gut for direction, I show my true self through this blog for all the Internet to see.

Yet, I still can’t bust a simple move on the dance floor, or risk being generally silly in public. I must look composed and professional at all times.

I don’t think it’s a neurotic fear, one that will make me freeze up or pass out. I believe it’s just one of those things that I have just never been comfortable with, and over time it has developed into a fear.

There are those unfortunate people that have real, life threatening fears. The type that cause heart failure or worse. The fears in those people seem to be more deeply rooted in their souls. You can feel the fear emanating from them when they are faced with it.

It can be scary watching people when they are faced with their true worst fears. It is so unpredictable as to what they will do or how they will react. Are they going to freak out and run? Are they simply going to faint? Or will they confront it?

Human nature is unpredictable at best.

I really should confront my ‘fears’ before they really do grow into these gripping fears that will freeze me up, and not be able to react when the time is required. I wouldn’t want to be caught in a life or death situation and freeze up due to a stupid fear I have.

I’m lazy, though, and will probably not tackle these fears until absolutely required. That will be to my own detriment, I understand that.

But what is a guy to do?

My Sunshine Award nomination

No matter what anybody says, we all love a little recognition. We all appreciate a little acknowledgement for the effort we put in. Something to show that what we’re doing is being heard.

This is what happened recently when Titia from w{e}mbrace nominated me for a Sunshine award. Thank you, Titia. Thank you for taking the time to remember my blog. It makes me glad my message is getting through to at least one person.

The Sunshine award is an award bloggers pass on to other bloggers to encourage them to carry on with the great work they are doing.

The rules:
According to the rules, a nominee should:

  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Answer the questions from the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate other bloggers for the Sunshine Award.
  • Write the same number of questions for the bloggers you nominated as you received with your nomination.
  • Notify the bloggers you have nominated.

Titia’s questions with my answers:

Why did you start blogging?
I wanted to make a positive impact on the world around me. My blog allowed me a place to take the words out of my head and put them somewhere. As I published more, I discovered people were actually reading my stuff, and it was changing their lives. That’s why I continue to blog.

If you could give other bloggers one tip what would it be?
Be yourself. Don’t try too hard to fit in with what the masses are writing or doing. There are other people out there like you. They will read your articles, they just need to find you first (which comes down to content marketing).

Bonus tip: have an effective content marketing plan if you want to be found. And no, I don’t have one…yet. 🙂

If you had unlimited funds what would you do with your time?
Tough question. I certainly wouldn’t be sitting on my ass. With unlimited funds, I think I would find ways to make environmental sustainability attainable and affordable in my community/town/country.

What are you most grateful for?
My loving wife who has supported me since we met. My 2 healthy young boys. A roof over my head at night. Everything else is a bonus.

If you could change one thing in this world, what would it be?
Our world will never be perfect, no matter what we change. But I think money has a lot to do with the state we’re in at the moment. So, I’d get rid of money. No more rich/poor. No more societal status. No more corporate greed. Eventually (hopefully?) it will be a world of bartering and re-use, rather than a money-making machine.

What’s one of the top things on your bucket list?
To fly. Whether it be a glider, or hand glider, I want to be soaring through the air with no machine noise.

My questions to my nominees

  1. What inspires you to be the person you see in the mirror?
  2. What phrase or quote do you tell yourself when you’re in need of a self-peptalk?
  3. What are you most grateful for?
  4. What is your favourite post on your blog, and why? (Be sure to include a link)
  5. What awesome lifehack have you discovered recently that has made you more productive?
  6. If you could gain any superpower you wish, which would it be and why?

My nominated blogs

Mind Fuel (http://mindfuelstuff.wordpress.com)
Paul Jarvis (http://pjrvs.com)
Skye Water (http://skyewater33.wordpress.com)
Winnie Lim (http://winnielim.org/)

No matter our status, we are still human

Every day we deliver judgement on people in higher societal status positions such as Presidents, CEO’s, celebrities, even our managers. We expect them to be 100% correct all the time. We expect them to act perfect all day every day. We lambaste them when they falter.

What we fail to realise most of the time, is they are still human – just like you and me. They, too, love watching a good movie. They also enjoy the relaxation of a lazy Sunday afternoon, or the sweet success of finally completing a personal project.

And – again, just like you and I – they fail. Often.

Recently, I watched the first few episodes of a new T.V. series named Lip Sync Battle. It’s a show in which celebrities attempt to perform a live act on stage while lip syncing to a song of their choice. It’s hilarious.

What was more interesting to me, was the opportunity to see a little more of the people behind the celebrity faces. Dwayne Johnson letting off steam to The BeeGees, or Anne Hathaway pulling off Miley Cyrus. The banter they had going between sets added further personality and insight into who they are.

It’s about time we stopped putting celebrities and people of power on a pedestal. It’s time we stop perceiving them as unattainable, different, or better than us.

Because they are not any different to us. They are still human.

Next time you’re reading the gossip magazines, or news headlines about some mistake one of these people have made. Stop. Try put yourself in their shoes. Would you act the same way? What would you do in their situation? Have some empathy and compassion, as they are making the best decisions for them at any given point in time.

Bringing this closer to home, think about your managers, your friends, your family. What compassion can you show them when they have made a decision? What are they feeling when they make certain decisions? Sometimes, they certainly make bad decisions or a different one to you, but they made a decision all the same. How do you want people to treat you when you make a bad decision?

I’m guilty of being judgemental of others’ decisions. I have laughed at celebrities, or baulked at a politician’s personal response. I know I’m wrong, and I’m an ass for even thinking it. But I believe our world won’t get any better if we continue in this way.

These people are human. Just like you and me. I can’t imagine the pressure of the world watching me 24/7. Watching, waiting, pouncing on every word I speak with a vengeance, and talking as if they know me.

So, I’m going to cut them a little slack. How about you?

How to make social media meaningful

We all interface with social media in one way or another. We like and share with our friends on Facebook, tweet on Twitter, or share our vintage photos on Instagram. There are a plethora of options for sharing ourselves and our views of the world on the Internet. But why is it that we still ‘do’ social media so wrong?

Because we don’t interact. We don’t engage enough. We don’t connect with another.

Think about when you have a face-to-face conversation with a friend. They’ve come over to your place for a cup of coffee (or tea if that’s your preference), and you two are chatting away.

Do you both talk at the same time – trying to shout over each other? I doubt it.
Do you just ignore a story of theirs, and carry on with your own? Nope.
Do you shout something at them, then get up and walk away without saying a word when they comment about it? Of course not!

Many of us are still coming to grips with how socia media is impacting our lives – and where it fits into our social spectrum. We still see these platforms as shouting boxes for people to see us and how awesome we are, but we don’t take the time to truly connect with others online.

Make connections

I’ve been on Facebook since 2007, and I’m only now beginning to understand how to use it as a medium to connect and grow the relationships – almost like another means to get to know and understand them better.

It’s about commenting on their status, showing empathy when it’s needed, tagging them where necessary, or simply liking their posts.

The more you interact, the more meaningful your social media experience will be.

I’ve built some real connections online over the past few years. Friendships that have formed purely online across continents, people such as Jay, Brandon, or Annie. We interact fairly often, and I anticipate meeting them in person one day.

And as for the people I have met in person already, social media is another tool I can use to strengthen these relationships further.

It’s all up to you

You need to think about why you want to be on social media. Do you just want to brag about your successes, shout out your opinion at anyone and everyone who might be interested? Are you online simply to spy on your family, friends, and acquaintances? (I really hope you’re not, that is just creepy and wrong)

Or do you want to be a better person. The person who wants to really connect with their friends and family in a meaningful way. Keep it simple. Treat your special connections with extra attention. Add some personality to your posts. They will remember it, remember you.

Today, while you are browsing your Facebook or Twitter feeds, why not reply on someone’s post and ask a question? Spark a conversation. You never know where it might lead.

All articles