Saturday, December 27, 2014

Week Fifty-two – The end is only the beginning.

52 weeks later here I am typing my last blog of 2014 having achieved my goal and feeling very proud of myself! But this is only the end of a new beginning.

So this is it, fifty-two blogs done, each and everyone of them unique and an account of my day-to-day life and experiences as I travelled and dealt with all sort things that got thrown at me. And the more I think about it, the more I realise that the challenge I set my self was not about being able to write but to be able to see the world and draw from it to share experiences and situations that hopefully would have, in some way or another, helped you all.

And I don’t want to make this week, the last week, an exception. I knew I would have plenty of material to write about, with Christmas in it and a large family gathering, so I wanted to find something interesting or cleaver to write. I have been thinking about it all week, I really want to make week fifty-two special, in away I want to go out with a “big-bang”. But the more I’ve been thinking about it, the harder it has become to come up with anything good to write.

Yes I could give you a run down of the large family gathering we had, 24 people in a house we hired to celebrating Christmas. It was fun, chaotic and noisy! It made me realise that we are all Humans and what brings us together is tolerance and understanding and realising that without external influences (there was no Wifi, or mobile signal) there is a lot we have to share. This Christmas was no different to others with the exception of the setting, being away from home in an environment where we were all neutral. This was none’s house, and we were all guest. There was no communication with the outside world, so we had to stay focused on the moment. We went back to basics. But for me this isn’t the biggest learning this week, I don’t want week fifty-two to be about this.

So I continued to scratch my head thinking of that subject worthy of week fifty-two, after all this is the last week of my challenge. I thought I could give you all a round up of the year, in 2014 I learnt a lot. Many things happened with three mayor events taking the headlines - I suffered the loss of my father, been in hospital with a suspected heart attack and I run my first ever Half Marathon. But I guess you all know that right? I mean, if you have been following my blog and read some of the weeks you would have know this. As I asked myself these questions trying to decide if I should just do the “top ten moments of 2014” I came to realise that may be it is a good idea to do this, as some people may not have read some of these events.

But again, I decided not to do this! I didn’t want my last blog to be just a re-collection of what I had written about! In a way I thought that was cheating by just copying and pasting previous blogs.

I sat and I continued to scratch my head. What can I write about? What is so big, so important, and so meaningful in my life, that it should be the subject of my last blog? And then it finally came to me! And when it came it reminded me why I am doing this! Yet another epiphany! What have I learned this year? I have learnt that I can write, and I can write about anything I see in life. I have accomplished something extraordinary, which has allowed me to mature in my writing. And what does this mean? It means that I should continue to write and never give up. Now, a great dear friend of mine reminded me of this last week and of my motto “I write because someone out there reads”. She read blog fifty-one and commented, “Don't give up writing them.........NY resolution is to see if you can do another 52???? I love reading them” and I knew that this is what I need to do, I must continue, because some of you out there read what I write.

So I want to dedicate this blog to you all, the people for whom I write. For those of you who continue to support me and encourage me to write.  Writing is some times a very lonely job, and the satisfaction of writing something is knowing that someone has read what you have wrote.  As well as getting all my thoughts out on paper and express myself, I relish the thought of people enjoying and learning from what I put down every week in my blog. As a script writer I have always longed to have audiences enjoy a night out at the theatre, as a blogist I get satisfaction when I know people have twenty minutes where they enjoyed reading what I have to say.

Dear all out there that read my blog, I will endeavour to continue to share my experiences with you every week! And thank you for reading what I have to say, more to come in 2015!

So it is time to close the year; let us reflect on what we have achieved, and it is time to start planning what’s to come next.  My experience form this has been that we must all set ourselves a new challenge every year, I know I will, and stick to it, work on it and make sure we keep our promises to ourselves. Whatever you decide to do, it will help you be better, better in everything you do. I hope the last 52 weeks I have shared with you have been useful, and if anything at least entertaining, Remember the end of something is the beginning of something new.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Week fifty-one – Taking Stock.

Would you believe it? I have only one more to write before I reach my goal of writing a weekly blog for 2014! So it’s time to take stock and reflect on what I have done and achieved this year.

one of my proudest moments!
 As we all know, traditionally most people give themselves a “New Year’s Resolution” to help them change something in their lives, which in the previous year hasn’t work or they failed to achieve. These vary from “I will give up smoking” to “I will call mum every week” or the classic “I’ll loose some weight”. And all of these resolutions help us, at least for the first couple of months, to stay focus on something we really want to do or achieve.

And like everything in life, it is hard work! Soon after the resolution is made, we struggle to keep up with it. In the busyness of our every day life, we find ourselves over committed and this new thing is stretching us to the limits. Remember I have always said it is easier to say no than to say yes when it comes to going for a run or staying fit; but this philosophy applies to almost anything in our lives. Two months after our “new year’s resolution” most people generally have or start to dropped that self-commitment to improve or change something in their lives. It became easier to say no, and when you say it once, it becomes easier to say it again and again until you feel it’s time to move on and ditch the promise you made to yourself (or in some cases put it on hold until next year and try it again!)

So here I find myself writing blog number fifty-one of fifty-two blogs I committed myself to write this year. The challenge, if you remember and read blog number one, was to see if I could sustain writing on average a thousand words on different subject every week for the entire year. The idea was to challenge my ability as a writer and see if I have it in me to write so much, and to share with you all experiences and life learning lessons, which would then serve as the basis of a self book I could consider publishing in the future. It hasn’t been easy to do, I can assure you, and the time and effort that it takes to write these weekly blogs is tremendous. But one thing that has kept me going is the commitment I made to myself; It is almost as if I don’t want to let myself down by not writing one week (and I guess this is what is about, letting yourself down and no one else). I have had a feeling every week that if I don’t do the blog, the chain is broken, my challenge is lost and a piece would be missing therefore the challenge would be void.

Just like any of you who made commitments back in January this year, I have been tempted not to stick to my goal and give it up; many times too much work could have stopped me from writing any of the weeks, having been in hospital with a suspected heart attack would have been enough for anyone not to write that week, the death of my father, holidays, family commitments, or even the weeks where I had to really search for something to write as I faced a “writers block” right up to the last minute… and don’t forget preparing for my Half Marathon! Some many times it would have been easier to say “no I don’t have the time now, I’ll go back to it next week” But I focused on saying YES! Yes I can do it and yes I said I would do it, so get on with it and stop looking for reasons not to do it! Often your time is better spent looking for reason to do it and not on reason why not to do it.    

I had a great year, and I think I have accomplished a lot. These fifty-one weeks have helped me become a better person. And I don’t know if it is because to some extent I have been documenting my life that I feel I can look back and really relish on what I have accomplished, what I did, what I learned and what I will take away from all these experiences.

As I write this words I am also starting to wonder, what will I write next week? This very philosophical and reflective blog should have been week fifty-two, the final one, yet here I am rounding up my year with one more week to go. But you know what? This is exactly what I am talking about; now that I got it out of my system, week forty-one, I guess you could say “look none will mind or know if you don’t write a blog next week, anyhow you will be in Christmas mode, and enjoying the festivities” but I cannot stop, not on the last hurdle! So I am sure I will find an interesting subject to write about; anyhow the festive season always gives plenty of material to write about, specially with all the family together in one room! I bet you can’t wait till next week for the final chapter of my 2014 challenge!

I hope this week has inspired you to start thinking about your 2015 New Year’s resolutions and this time really stick to them! No matter what you want to do, achieve or change, remember that the key is to stay strong and don’t give in to the temptation that is saying no; no I won’t do it today, this week or this month. Next thing you know you have broken that commitment, you have let yourself down and broken that chain. Stick to it, work at it and you will see the marvellous effect of believing you can do anything you want to, it just takes that magic word to do it… YES.

Why not label 2015 as your year of YES – your Yea of Excellence and Self-discovery!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Week Fifty – and a happy merry expensive Christmas!

On the first day of Christmas my true love said to me – get your wallet out because the season for spending has arrived!

No yearlong writing blog challenge would be complete without a Christmas Blog! With two more to do after this, I could not resist the temptation to write about my favourite subject… NOT! Christmas has come to town! Actually it is Santa that comes to town in the song, but his arrival and Christmas arrival are equally as expensive and commercialised as each other. And for those of you who are thinking “airtight Grinch, get of your pedestal” it is not that I hate Christmas (well may be I do) but what it actually means and not what is meant to be.

The idea of writing about the never-ending commercialisation of this season came to me when I saw someone on the underground with an I-phone 6, which had a phone cover that made it look like an old I-phone! The cover was big, bulky and square, but at the back of it there was a very intriguing picture I could not make out. I am guessing he was attached to the cover because of the picture and not the horrid shape of the ugly structure surrounding this masterful piece of equipment that is the I-phone 6. If you’ve not seen the new I-phone yet, it is a very slim, rounded design with a very delicate metal structure very pleasing to both the eye and hand of its owner.

So why would anyone spend money on an ugly cover covering a very expensive phone? This question is what inspired me to write about the season to spend money. Trarlalalala tralalala! (see how I got the xmas theme going here? J) Manufactures of phone covers have commercialised a market, which kind of doesn’t make sense. You spend thousands of pounds in a new bit of gear which every time gets more and more sexier, and then we go and spend more money to go and cover it up! Some times with ridiculous covers that completely and utterly take away the beauty of the device, which is what you paid for! It’s like the guys who sell antivirus; its rumoured they are the once who produce the viruses! It’s all about making you spend more money!

So let’s get back to our Christmas Carol story and why I don’t like Christmas. The ghost of Christmas past comes to me every year to remind me of my childhood and my experiences of this time when I was still at home with my family. I guess back then I didn’t know any better and what child does not like to have a visit from the white bearded man bearing gifts? I guess back then my memories of Christmas where happy, as I knew no better. We used to have big family gatherings, which somehow will always end up in some sort of trouble with an uncle getting too drunk or some truths coming up fumed by alcohol

In my Christmas Carol story there is the Ghost of Christmas adolescence that comes to remind me about my time in my late teens and early twenties. This is the time I found myself away from my family when I moved to England and not feeling the pressures of Christmas what it all means. I guess it was strange at the beginning but pretty soon I got used to not having to turn my world upside down for 6 weeks of the year (In Mexico we also celebrate all the way to the 6th of January with the arrival of the three wise men, one more reason to spend money!) and you know what? I liked being away from it all!

And so it brings me to my Ghost of Christmas present where I now have my own family and they love Christmas! In fairness to me I am not as bad as I am making myself to be (I’m fighting my own battle here, as I know some of you are really thinking “Baa Humbug”) and I do get into the sprit of the season… a bit.

To prove this, I do buy Christmas presents, I do attend company Christmas do’s, I do drink and eat holiday season food, and I do occasionally sing Christmas Carols. I even tell my favourite Christmas joke every year: What’s Father Christmas wife called? Mary – Mary Christmas! LOL!

What I do not like is the commercial drive to the festivities, which in my country of residence, UK, starts from as early as October! That is insane! When we have just taken down our skeletons and pumpkins people are begging to display Santa and Rain Deer! We start to see television adverts tempting you to “buy” for loved ones and closer to December the array of useless box-set gifts begin to pour in the shops. People walk around possessed by the holiday season demon carrying thousands of bags filled with gifts they “hope” the recipients will like.

Buying for someone when you are pressured to do so, (secret Santa specially) confused by the unusually large selection of bric-a-brac in the shops and a limited budget, which has to be spread amongst all the people in your list, can only be bad for your health! And in my opinion, unless you enjoy the experience of shopping under these conditions, it takes away the important message that was set, I am sure many years ago, as to the meaning of this time of the year for many around the world.

I am not suggesting the world should stop and cancel Christmas, I am only asking for all of us to take this as an example of how commercialised our world has become. When retailers focus on how they can flog things to us we don’t need and in some cases at ridiculous prices just because is the season to be jolly (£4.50 for a small cup of warm wine called Mulled!), we are in danger of becoming more and more the victims of a society that pressures us to believe that by giving someone something you don’t really need at Christmas, you are now in the spirit of whatever two thousand years ago was started and came with a message of peace and love around the world.

PS – Dear Santa, this Christmas what I really want is peace on earth… I’m not kidding…  but if you really want to give me a gift, come back in September for my birthday; here is my list….

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Week Forty-nine – Highs & Lows!

One minute you are up, then the next you are down; life can be such a roller coaster!

Have you ever got out of bed and felt like you were right on top of the world? Some times we do, we “get out of bed on the right side” and we feel the world is at our feet. Some times we also have important events which we work hard for and when you reach the end result and you’ve done a good job, again you feel on top of the world; what a lovely feeling that is, the “Highs” in our lives.

But on the other side some times we also encounter the “Lows” that brings us right back down and you may even hit “rock bottom”. These events often take place right at the start of our day, and we get that feeling of “getting out of bed on the wrong side” setting us off to have a series of disasters which makes our day get worse and worse. We may even look for the 3rd event to take place so we can get out of this bad patch; you know, the “things come in three” feeling.

We all go through these feelings and emotions in our lives; it’s part of being a human. But have you ever experienced Highs and Lows on the same day? Yes I am talking about hitting high and low in 24 hours, and I mean very high and then rock bottom! If you’ve never experienced this, it can be emotionally draining and leave you feeling completely disoriented! One moment is good and then it all goes bad! So how do you deal with this? How do you keep your wits about you and survive? Not easy as it all happens too quickly and that feeling of disorientation and dizziness lingers for a long time. I guess it’s what they call in show business “your 15 minutes of fame”; one moment you are the talk of town and then no one wants to know you!

So if think you’ve never experience this before let me give you some examples to help you understand what I am talking about. I guess the most obvious one would be when you get some good news in the morning follow by bad news! You get that phone call from your boss informing you will be getting a pay rise for all your hard work and dedication to the company; you hit a High here. And then you get a call from home to let you know the house is flooded and it’s not covered by your insurance! You’re on a Low now. That would be a real rollercoaster of emotions all in a very short space of time!

We often experience this at work too; I know I have. You’ve been working hard on a piece of work or a project, which you hand in and get praised for the excellent effort. At that moment you feel good, accomplished and ready to take on the world! You are on top of your game and you can’t get enough of it! And then boom! Something goes wrong, you make a mistake, something that should have been done or looked at was not and now you find yourself having to own up to it and fix it! All the “high” from the good work you did is gone and you are scratching the bottom of the barrel trying to get out of the situation you find yourself in! You no longer have the glory but the guilt, no longer the praise but the questions, you now feel emotionally drained because your adrenaline has gone from very high levels of excitement to very high levels of stress and your body can’t take it any more! Talk about a rollercoaster! You have just been on one and you had a front row seat!

But you know what they say? Life is a rollercoaster and you have to ride it. Remember that which does not kill you can only make you stronger! To get through these emotions in one day and come out the other side in one piece you need to stay together and focus on the task ahead. Get off your high ride and focus on your low drive. At the end of the day you only have one option – fix it and move on. Don’t dwell on the past and what you could have done, that’s all gone.  Your passed successes are there to support your mistakes, don’t just ride on the glory days, but drive the tough times too. Everything is a balance, and ok you are now deep down, but surely someone will remember what you did this morning too!

That’s the balance in life; “Highs” and “Lows” are there to help you be better at what you do. Highs remind us of what we can do well and achieve, it is a way to re-charge the batteries and leave evidence that there is something good we have to offer. Lows help us remember we are also human and sometimes things will go wrong, we will make mistakes and we need to learn from them using the experiences to better ourselves. In a way the lows permit us to learn and produce more highs as a result of these experiences, they need to exits for highs to be created. Without one the other does not exist. I guess no one can ride a rollercoaster that only goes up, it will eventually run out of track and then you face a massive drop. I rather have lots of reasonable highs and lows to make it fun and more interesting!

I’m grateful for all the experiences I have in my life. Not only do they help me learn and become better but also they are great sources of inspiration for my writing! This is week forty-nine of my yearly blog challenge, I only have three more to write before I am done, and believe me when you have written forty-eight weeks, it seems that subjects are begging to dry up! Thank goodness for that rollercoaster called life with its Highs and Lows, without it I’d be thinking, “what am I going to write about this week?”