Saturday, January 30, 2010

From the Shinings of my Reflections: 2010

This post has grown from my Reflections on 2009.

After reflecting it makes sense to look forward and create. I'm enjoying doing this. First there was the Sign "☮" the Times in 2008, then there was Flash-Back, Flash-Forward in 2009 so here are some things that 2010 will be for me.*

Now I'm not necessarily one for setting specific goals or 'resolutions' as such. That doesn't mean I don't have things that I'm not committed to achieving. Not at all. Me being 'anal' and getting what I want out of life seems to annoy some people who know me.

That's up to them.

Something I've come to enjoy in the last year, is picking a particular quality to engage with and then enjoying what shows up. This relates to some stuff I've read and heard that who you're 'being' will give rise to what you 'do' and therefore what you 'have'. If I'm 'being' happy, then I'll 'do' the things that happy people 'do' and 'have' the things that happy people 'have'. Equally if I'm 'being' angry I'll 'do' the things that angry people 'do' and I'll 'have' the things that angry people 'have'.

Not sure I've explained that very well...but it kinda relates to one thing I chose last year, namely 'trusting the process of life' and I quote from my Flash-Back, Flash-Forward post:
But trusting the process of life is akin to using the Force (yes alright I had to get Star Wars into it somewhere for fuck's sake). Trusting God. Listening to Buddha. Walking through Dharma. Following the Tao. Whatever you call it.
Engaging with that in the last year has had all sorts of things show up. It's only looking back that I can see what it gave rise to. I mean I have no clue what the future holds - only a pretty clear idea of what I'm up to - but that future could be all sorts of things.

Even miraculous things.

Hahahahahah...there I said it!

So 2010. Here are the three themes. One is a specific, two are 'being' thingies.

1) Creating a house, a home and everything in it...
Kinda obvious this one and it's the specific. After last year. I was chatting with her a couple of days ago and she asked if we could have bought a house given last year's circumstances. I replied I thought we could - if we could have seen how the year would pan out - only it's not that easy to predict the future. Part of me can't help but think a smooth life would be a boring life (a bit like flat-lining).

So yeah - 2010 will be our chance to move into a house.

Of course a house needs a valid reason for having three bedrooms. The house is the foundation for a family. Some people think that their whole purpose in life is to create a family. To propagate their genes. To keep the species going. Who knows?

Well as far as I can tell, one's whole purpose in life is down to what one chooses.

And having a house is definitely building the foundation for a family.

So many of my contemporaries are doing it or have done it. I've even had some tell me I'm taking my time.

Well I'll do things my way thank-you-very-much.

Besides, creating a home is much bigger than just the house.

2) Completion
Related to the whole house thingy this is a being thingy. I speak to one of my close friends twice a week to empty my head of what's going on so I can make up the next experience. A bit like Dumbledore and his Pensieve it just means I don't have to carry around any more nonsense in my head than I already do.

Now the thing is, saying something like this means the first thing that I'm going to start noticing are all the things that are NOT complete. It's already happening. I'm seeing the things I put on my to-do list (of course I have one of those - what kind of Android-using geek would I be without one?) ages ago that I haven't done. Uh-oh.

Completion is also a bit more than getting things done. It's one of the 'being thingies'.** I'll explain it by quoting one of my Daily Insights:***
When there's something left to say, there's unrest. When there's nothing left to say, there's peace.
I suppose it's a bit like what Hollywood/ Cheesy TV calls closure. You know - when one door closes another opens...that kind of thing. You get it now? That's my first Being Thingy for the year.

3) Power
Now I'm not talking about some Greyskull He-Man phenomenon here. Dictionary.com says (along with other stuff)

- Noun
1. ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something
I'm taking that ability to do or act a bit further. I've heard it described as the amount of time between saying something is going to happen and it actually happening. The quicker it happens in reality, the more power one has.

Now I know I've gone all conceptual, abstract and maybe even all weirdo but we all have it inside us. This particular Being Thingy is best expressed by Coach Carter's question: What is your deepest fear?

Here's what one of his students responded:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Those words were written by Marianne Williamson.

So I'm engaging my deepest fear.

Or said even better - conquering my Dark Side.

Hah - had to get Star Wars in there.

And that's number three!

2010...let the roller-coaster begin...

Oops it has already.

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*I aim to be doing this when I'm old. Oh wait - according to some I am already!


** At this point I realise that I'm using this phrase quite a bit...because I quite like it. Being Thingies. I'll capitalise it from now on.


*** I've started my own daily musings. I'll do one for January on this blog soon. Watch this space. If you think it's pretentious - good! Hehehe. Now write your own.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Unpredictable

Sometimes life throws stuff at you.

You can catch it, drop it or it hits you in the face. Hard.

Well perhaps that's a bit unfair because some might say that life is a created out of our own thoughts and intentions. We're spiritual beings experiencing the physical.

Whatever.

Sometimes things happen that you don't expect to have to deal with. And guess what. You deal with them.

Never underestimate your own ability to deal with life.

I said that. I wrote that. I've learned that. You can quote me on it* - as long as you attribute me as the source.

*It was profound enough for my friend to re-tweet it. He's even started a blog.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Reflections. 2009

My blog has charted the progress I've made in my life.

The passing of one year into the next is always my time for reflection. Perhaps it's a little self-indulgent, but I enjoy it. I think it helps me.

This year has thrown up a few ideas...and of course from these I'll be thinking about 2010.

Here are my standout moments from 09.

1. I Can Follow A Recipe
Until this year, I never experienced being in the kitchen as something that was particularly enjoyable, or even relaxing. This year I've enjoyed getting on with stuff. I don't really care that I like to follow instructions. I don't care that perhaps it's 'anal'. I'm not bothered about being a great chef.

But I like making something that tastes nice!

And I really indulged that this year with cakes and sweets. I don't think I could have predicted making a pavlova for family Christmas celebrations! I've always felt that doing something like that is a bit like opening yourself up, only to be stomped on. Families are brilliant at that because they know everything there is to know.

I'm just glad it went down well and met with a few seals of approval.

I made other stuff through the year - it wasn't all just desserts - but I think the wider aspect of the cooking was the entertaining. It's not just about the food, but about making people feel at home. The fact that we created the food ourselves is an added bonus, and makes the whole experience more personal.

When I eat, I'm not that fussy - I enjoy most stuff. I know people who cook what tastes nice to them. I've always felt nervous about cooking to what I like because I don't think others would eat it. By sticking to the recipes, it at least keeps the stuff I've made vaguely edible for other people around me.

But perhaps they're able to do that because they have 'good taste' in the wider sense of the meaning. They know what works together to create something. I'm not so good at that with cooking, but I can do it in other areas of life. Who knows.

Food has been enjoyable in 09.

2. Achieving 192 bpm using downstrokes for Master of Puppets
This is actually quite a big deal because it demonstrates progress to myself. Ever since I was about 17 when I first learned the song, I always played it with alternate picking. James Hetfield plays the song with downstrokes only. Whenever I've tried playing the song with downstrokes, I've barely managed above 150bpm. But - nothing succeeds like practising - and I'm now up much higher!

This achievement indicates a wider improvement in my ability with the guitar. I thought I had reached a plateau. This proves to me there's no such thing - there's always the next level. It's becoming more and more about how I express myself using a guitar.

The actual song is around 216bpm. One day I'll get there.

Guitar has been good in 09.

3. 333 days of the Shaolin Workout
During 09 the workout I learned in 08 became habit. The 333 days of the year included 93 consecutive days.

Obsessive? Perhaps. I don't give a fuck because the mental, physical and spiritual benefits are worth it.

And like playing guitar - there are never-ending levels of progress to work towards.

Flexibility has been fine in 09.

4. Chocoholism
Ok I'm only half serious about this. But I know I have a sweet tooth. And I do love chocolate. I could quite easily eat chocolate all day.

I think it's probably quite similar to any drug. Perhaps I associate a particular emotional state with the consumption of chocolate. Or maybe the taste itself stimulates a section of my brain that leaves me wanting more.

Whatever it is, during 09 I became more aware of my own desire for chocolate. I don't think it was strongly apparent previously. I've just made it more dramatic for attention-seeking purposes probably.

Chocolate revealed itself as my Dark Side in 09.

5. Android
Forget the iPhone. My piece of technology this year has been my HTC Hero. Not so much for the phone itself but more for its OS. I loved Palm and its simplicity - it was my first PDA and Smartphone. Making the jump to Windows Mobile felt like a retrograde step - especially after acquiring my Macbook (which is still functioning adequately after two years!)

But watching and reading all the information was interesting. An iPhone was never quite my thing - it just wasn't customisable enough for me. And the Palm Pre wasn't available quick enough for my impatient mind.

Of course the truly interesting thing about the Hero as I've mentioned is the Android OS - which was built from the ground up as open source with Google behind it.

Say what you want, but I'm a fan of Google's products and I use them for getting things done.

The ultimate endorsement of my phone came in the form of someone I know getting the same phone as me - and them enjoying using it too.

Geekness vindicated in 09.

6. The Year of (Not) House
Frustrating, annoying and disappointing. Difficult circumstances. But that doesn't mean shit really! The Year of the (Not) House meant the mini-D'Souza plan is also on hold. As I've said before - I/ we march to the beat of my/ our own drum.

It's gonna happen - just never conventionally. (See number 8. below).

No House in Oh Nine.

7. Affirmations Work
This has surprised me a little. Reflecting on 09 has made me understand just how powerful they are. And I mean affirmations in the Louise Hay sense of the term. I use them every day. And when I don't - all sorts of nonsense occurs!

Someone I know used them to great effect this year.

Affirmations effected change in 09.

8. Trusting the process of life
Tough one this. Something I explored in 09. And was challenged everywhere. Looking back on the difficult circumstances earlier in the year, it's possible to say that it benefited me in the long run.

Easy to say with hindsight. Fucking hard when you're in the middle of it.

Some part of me kept looking beyond. The edge of my consciousness kept a nudging little thought that 'there has to be more than this' like 'a splinter in my mind'.* That's what kept me going. Steve Jobs refers to this as 'connecting the dots looking forward'.

Some people call this fate or 'everything happens for a reason'. This doesn't quite explain it for me because it smacks of abdicating responsibility for oneself. I made a conscious choice to at the beginning of 09 to trust the process of life. IMHO this only has an effect if one is clear about what one is creating...and that's the hard part.

Do you know what you want?

Or said in a better way - do you know what you're creating?

Or said in an even better way - 'Use the Force'.

Trust was out there in 09.

9. Growth at Work
This is also the most obvious area where 'trusting the process of life' showed up. I'm getting to take on a greater accountability at school, and I got to mentor a trainee teacher. These are things which I'd talked about a few years ago, but hadn't really done much about.

As it happened, the first involved specific actions: conversations, appraisals, demonstrating my own skills etc. The second involved taking on an opportunity that presented itself - and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Perhaps I took the 'Master' and 'Apprentice' thing too literally, but it had me up my game, and I'm pretty sure it had a positive effect on my 'Padawan learner' (not sure he'd appreciate that...but he knows I'm a [Star Wars] geek).

Aside from that, I organised 'Enterprise Week' at Ewell Castle. It wasn't necessarily agreed that I would; it wasn't promoted that I would - I just went ahead and pretty much did it. And got some feedback from everyone involved (good stuff and bad stuff!) It was a good experience putting something together that affected the whole school...it just meant that the run-up to Christmas was particularly mental!

Work was good to me; I was good to work - in 09.

Hah! I've actually just realised - that's 9 moments for 09.
A fortuitous piece of writing? Fate? The Gods communicating with me? The Language of the World?

Whatever it is...10 will be interesting - because I'm not going to write 10 for 10. Ten is too much. Perhaps I'll do Ten Moments from Twenty Ten at the end of the year. For now...well I'm still thinking...something will emerge from the ashes of this post. Or should I say, from the shinings of these reflections.

Here's to an unwritten future.

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*to paraphrase Morpheus