Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Beginning is the End is the Beginning 2 of 3: 2011

Part Two of the Trilogy...


6. House
We moved in 2011. It was stressful and wonderful in equal measure (but probably more wonderful). Our house is now our home and I'm so grateful for all the help we had. Especially from Them and Them. I can't imagine going back to a one-bedroom flat.

We've hardly needed/ wanted to do anything to the place and we're discovering all the wonderful maintenance issues that go with house ownership - but more than that - our house is becoming a home because we welcomed so many people into it.

I think that's been one of the coolest things: having the room to take care of people, creating a space for people to come together and enjoy themselves. We know it's entirely because of how we are together that people like being here - in our space.

7. Writing (and Reading)
The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book (Calvin and Hobbes Series)
Through 2011 I found my voice. This is no mean feat for someone who writes. One of my colleagues has referred to me as a writer too! Another one of Her friends (the wildly impressive and creative Sloppy Dog) thinks I write very well.

2011 also saw me publish my first guest blog post - all about my Urban Krav Maga experiences. You can see it here. I'm quite proud of it, as someone I know has now attended a few classes and says that his experience matched what I described in my guest blog post which is very gratifying for me! This of course means you should click the link and then come to a class...just to see how my writing stacks up!

All this feeds into the ongoing idea in the back of my head for a book. In fact, I've talked about writing a book since I was about 19. I've had many different ideas for structure, thoughts for topics and musings for what should and shouldn't be in it.

But - I've finally settled on the short-story as my chosen format. It'll be a series of them. Connected and yet not. I've shared the first two with various people in my life and had some very good feedback. Apparently the short story is difficult form to get into but writing a blog lends itself very well to the short story style.

The discipline of a diarised monthly blogpost is great - it forces my creativity. It's kinda crazy to think that I now have two years worth of Daily Insights on my blog! Writing keeps me going, keeps me reflective and ultimately keeps me sane.

8. On Being Goan
There's actually enough on this one for a standalone blogpost; or a book; or perhaps a PhD into Weird-Mixed-Up-People-Originating-From-Western-India-and-Migrating-Across-The-Planet. I intended to write a post all about the 2011 Global Goans Convention - but I never did.

2011 actually saw me bring into the open some of my ongoing issues about my culture and identity (or cultural identity...or identified culture). One of my biggest frustrations with my community is that everyone finds it difficult to speak the truth. It's as if there's some congenital disease amongst the Goan Disapora* that prevents people from actually being open, honest and above all *real* about their experiences. Instead of continually moaning about it, I organised an event called 'Filling In The Cracks' the purpose of which to was to celebrate Goan culture - but with a twist. I had three different generations of Goan share their experience of what their cultural community means to them. This meant three very different perspectives about the same thing.

Tasting Goa in London
I organised it in a restaurant that sells Goan food (the Palms of Goa) and there were about forty people. I called it Filling In The Cracks because too often my experience of growing up has never been shared. The Goan experience often 'falls through the cracks' in multi-cultural London. London is an amazing city - a true melting-pot of influences around the world. Each community has managed to establish its own distinct cultural identity. People have heard of and experienced Jewish, Irish, Sikh, Gujarati, and Italian communities - and there are many more examples in London. However, mention Goan and people either don't know or the word evokes images of holidays, hotels and hedonism - which is kind of annoying.

Equally, Goans themselves are so backward and insular they're too busy focusing on either themselves or their past to actually understand what's happening *now*. I've blogged about all this before in a previous post here. Reading that post again, I can see the energy that went into that frustration and anger finally found positive expression in 2011** - in fact that's what happened through organising 'Filling In The Cracks' - some space opened up. Hearing three generations of Goan openly and honestly sharing their experience: the growing up; the changing country; the cold; the uncertainty of being Indian and yet not; the problems of where one identifies oneself; the lack of community. For the first time in my life, I was amongst a group of Goans who were being honest about the issues that from our past we're dealing with, and the issues that face us as a 'hidden minority'.

A special point was that there were movers-and-shakers within the Goan community who came along. They sat. They listened. And they were inwardly shocked. Here I was articulating what they found so difficult (I was a kind of compere to the event).

What made it extra *extra* special (and particularly moving) was They came - and They loved it. I even got an email praising me for putting it together! All I can say is - They did a good job with me and Her.

I'm proud of this contribution I made to my community. From there it was obvious for me to attend the Goan Convention - which I actually found enjoyable and frustrating in equal measure. I met some great people (including Jason K. Fernandes - who was as offensive, cheeky and polemic as me!) What was most refreshing was that a group of Goans were collected together to actually Discuss Interesting Topics instead of getting drunk, dancing and arguing. It was revelatory - the thought that a Goan Intelligentsia existed across the diaspora (there's that word again!)

The future of my contribution is getting clearer. I'm going to participate in an oral histories project during 2012 - so I'll be discovering, opening up and letting go of even more this year.

9. School: Colleagues and Pupils
2011 saw me work with some great colleagues and some not so great colleagues. That's natural and part of every workplace across the planet. I've also had great pupils and not so great pupils. That's natural as a teacher.

I suppose what's also natural as a teacher is to stumble across times of reflection. We're taught to be 'reflective practioners'. What this means in practice (for me anyway) is to go through periods of complete (but not quite debilitating) doubt in my ability as a teacher and frequent bouts of frustration with not being able to put things across effectively - despite turning myself inside out to create interesting lessons.

Such is the 'Year 11 Effect'.

I learned from it.
2011 did actually see me go back to the drawing board. I stumbled across a brilliantly irreverent but profound book about teaching (simply called How to teach). Completely not aimed at someone as (supposedly) experienced as me. It was written in such a brilliant and hilarious way I could not but helped be taken in by it. I mentioned my experiences with it in October and November. It was so excellent I keep talking about it because from that I've added in liberal doses of creativity and taken out the Sound Of My Own Voice.

It's also rekindled The Fear that every trainee and new teacher experiences when they embark on this wonderful career. The tense pre-lesson feeling; the rising sense of panic as certain pupils enter the room; managing to stifle your own fight-or-flight response as the first (of several) paper aeroplanes flies across the room; the burning sensation on the back of one's neck and ears as the class refuses to get quiet...etc.

It does beg the question why I'd do this - but really - it comes back to the fact that I love people and want to contribute to the planet.

I've gone back to the drawing board with a wonderful sense of excitement and fear. I'm sure I read somewhere that they're actually the same...

Aside from my own practice, I moved rooms in 2011 - twice. I now share an office (yay) which means I have all my stuff in one place...although I am nomadic...and teach in eleven different rooms scattered across the school (no - there is no designated area for Business Studies, Psychology, Economics or PSHE).

Rooms are a very precious thing for teachers. If we have our own room it becomes part of us. It's our identity and our special little area. A bit like a dog with his territory we must mark it. In our own special way.

Of course I've marked lots of areas across the school...

I *do* feel like I've gone up in the world.

10. Community
2011 saw me complete my civic duty. In the summer I completed jury service. What a fascinating thing to be part of! I was pleasantly surprised by the other jurors. They reflected the diversity of background, culture, class, opinion and gender that I love about London and its suburbs. Admittedly, there were three secondary school teachers (including myself) and one primary school teacher...but it was great being with them.

I also learned how important it really is for the functioning of society.

Apart from this community service, I took part in something else that started and gradually stopped. It was one (of two) of those things where 'good intentions' were driving me - but saw little return - and that's the local Neighbourhood Watch.

When we moved in, I went to a local community meeting with the main police representatives for the ward. I got to see some of the local faces (and they got to see me). Another neighbour was there who volunteered to be the representative for our road.

I said I'd give her a hand. We spent one morning going round and meeting all the people on our road (a cul-de-sac). I did get to chat with a lot of the neighbours and I've established some kind of relationship with them...

...but done nothing with it since...

Perhaps that's all I need to do. If there's an emergency I know I could speak with someone.

But part of me feels like there's more I could bring...I'm just not quite sure what yet...

Since then - two more families have moved in on the road. Both really nice groups of people. They've established themselves on our road.

We all know each other...and yet we don't. We're all in close proximity to each other...and yet we're not. It's the paradox of the city suburb. It's made me think a lot about our isolation from the people around us and how it contributes to a lot of the problems we experience every day. But this is the topic for another post. Suffice to say 2011 made me think a lot about it...but do little.

11. Creating and Earning
Starting at the end of 2010 actually and through 2011 I began to explore the idea of creating more money. Specifically, looking at ways I could earn more. What's driving this, is the Very Male Thing to take care of one's family. I'm not one for massively getting into one's gender role but in discussions with Her, I can see that would like to be the Provider as she starts to evolve into the role of Carer.

But - 2011 saw me come up against my limiting beliefs about money. Thoughts like "the only way you can make money is with a job" or "it's not possible to make a living doing something you enjoy" and even "I could never run my own business" (oh the irony!)

Deeper than these - the truth is - I sometimes feel I don't deserve an abundance of money. Like it's bad for me to have lots of it, to earn lots of it and to enjoy having lots of it.

Too challenging to read?
Over the years, I've dealt with so many of my own opinions and truths about so many aspects of my life. Even with money, my world has shifted hugely. It's mainly due to discovering a hugely interesting and challenging blog ostensibly about money but *really* about psychology. I've implemented some of the stuff and moved forward - but then get stopped. I'm delving into but haven't resolved my blind spots...yet.


What I'm discovering is that as well as putting myself under pressure - it's *really* about creativity, having a systematic approach and understanding how irrational I can be - and anticipating it.

Recommended but not read...
I've been frustrated and surprised in equal measure. The truth is in 2011 I discovered (and I write this with not an insignificant amount of trepidation - because I've never really let this out) - I'd *love* to set up and run my own business (not completely sure what); I'd *love* to earn enough money to create and provide for my own family so She can focus on other stuff; I'd *love* to take care of Them and Her to support them as they move on in their lives; I'd *love* to challenge the conventional paradigm most people find themselves in and create my life how *I* want it.


But a different kind of Fear kicks in and stops me. As it did in 2011. I wonder what 2012 will be about?

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So that's it. Eleven from Eleven. My highlights and lowlights. My examples of, struggles with and learnings about Creativity, Contribution and Mastery.

Part two is over. 2011 is complete.

Now, what about 2012?

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*God I love that word - when I found out its meaning, I really see how it relates to my community.
** Don't worry - I haven't mellowed a fucking bit

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning 1 of 3: 2011


Another Year Ends

Reality becomes a reflection of reality becoming real...or some such stuff.

This time of year enables me to look back and forward at the same time. Last month was particularly reflective for me anyway but the purpose of writing this is to shed the skin of 2011.

I've also been doing this for quite a few years now:

So my blog's functioning as even more of an interesting record of the progress I'm making.

This post describes my Eleven from Eleven whilst rounding off the areas I chose as themes for the year. It's also about 'Highlights and Lowlights' - a phrase I've nicked from my friend Adam Cohen the Circus Boy.

For 2011 I picked three areas. Creativity, Contribution and Mastery. They showed up in varying degrees in my Eleven for Eleven; I'm not going to make it explicit but it's clear for me how they showed up. They're written in the order they came to me. Enjoy.

And yeah, this is a long post...for a lot happened...so much so I've split it into a trilogy...this is Part One!

Little Miss Sunshine [DVD] [2006]
1. Family and Friends 
Looking back over the year, it's felt as if December 2011 was not only the end of they year, but also the apex to which everything had been building. Steve Jobs talked about 'joining the dots forwards' - meaning that you can never know the purpose of something until after the fact and that trusting that the things you do now will benefit you later - is how to make the most of the opportunities life presents.

One: Establishing Her Self
I had a part in supporting an important someone in getting started in their dream career. My support was unconditional, challenging for me to be there but ultimately vindicating of my stand for this person. Her life has moved on incredibly and I'm so proud of Her: the graduating, the moving, the driving, the starting in a job, the establishing Herself (and Her Self).

Her life has changed so much in 2011. She's stepped up and handled everything that's been thrown at her. We'll all be right by her side in 2012.

Two: Family Communication
I've spent more time actually communicating with members of my family. Early on in the year, I started simply picking up the phone and talking to the members of my immediate family. It made a big difference to my experience of them, when I saw them again and all that.

My parents *are* cool. (And they do value me being around).

One of the difficult areas for me and our family has been supporting a particular family member as their life moves on to another stage. Being in communication has made a big difference to my experience of helping out - I'm available to my parents more so than previously - but I'm not doing any less in my own life.

It also made it so much easier to contribute to them - that's all I really want to do - contribute to the people I love the most.

But it also made me realise that there's much more than just my tiny little life - they've got stuff they're doing and dealing with.

Three: Resolution.
The difficult relationship between two very important people in my life got resolved. Not because of any one thing I did in particular (although it has been something I've stood for having in my life for a long time). It was more as if I got out of the way. I stopped trying to force and fix the issue.

But I honoured my truth.

It was really tough for me because I want to be the one that solves everyone's problems and helps out - it's a way of making myself feel valuable and validating my existence.

This time I stood back and let things take their course. I trusted the people to get on with it, handle it honestly. I provided support when asked and told them both how much I loved them, but that was pretty much it.

There were some fireworks and brutal honesty. But it moved forward.

Authors and others have called this surrendering to life. I've heard it expressed as 'being with' and 'being present'.

Four: Our house remains empty.
And that's OK - for now! In perhaps a similar theme, trusting that it will happen is the toughest part. There have been contrasts: our partnership is stronger but we are concerned about getting older; we enjoy being together but we want to create something together; we have particular skills in our jobs but we've not both had stability; we sometimes get frustrated when we think things don't go our way but we always handle it.

Leaving all that aside - this is the year!

Five: We love our friends loads...
...and our house is a place of warm welcomes. Through 2011 we had people over; we entertained and we took care of people. My family, Her family, individual friends, small gatherings and big parties. I enjoyed doing it and so did She. One of the early dreams/ goals we created together was bringing people together in our space - and we've done that.

I'm so grateful for everyone that's been over. I've loved it.

Six: December
Looking back, it's felt as if the events of December have been the apex of the year. Looking back it's almost as if everything until that point had been preparation. The resolution, the communication, the friends...in hindsight that was all very effective laying of foundations.

It meant that we were able to step up and deal with challenging circumstances in a way that I'm proud of.

2. GTD
Clarity
I wrote about this in the May insights. GTD = Getting Things Done. Implementing it fully has been revelatory. I really hummed and hawed about putting myself into it - but once I did, I haven't regretted it. It took a while to establish and get it up and running but haven't ever experienced such clear-headedness on a consistent basis.

To get my hands on clear strategies to be able to generate it consistently is amazing.

Being able to find stuff; being able to know that stuff will get done; not having to try and remember things has (paradoxically) meant I remember more. I also have fewer arguments on a day-to-day level with Her and Her and Them.*

Fundamentally, it's freed me up to help others.

3. Android
It wouldn't be right and proper if there wasn't some gadget love in this end-of-year post. Most people who know me are aware that I don't favour the iPhone (despite being a Macbook user). Nope - I'm much more of a fan of the open-source world of Android.

I wrote about Android at the end of 2009 in my 'Reflections' post. It's a love affair that promises to be eternal. The endless customisation, tweaking and permutations (yet relative ease of use) appeals to my inner (and outer) geek.
Geek Love

That and its brilliant integration with Google's services (yes I am a google-o-phile).
Through 2010 and part of 2011 I was using my trusty HTC Desire. I loved it...but it began to overheat and run out of memory...I needed more! So in July I jumped from HTC to a Samsung Galaxy S2. And I'm pretty much in Smartphone Heaven.

Whilst the phone is great - it's the OS that makes it. There are particular apps that have helped with 2. above - in particular Springpad.

But me being me, I have almost 90 different apps (mostly free or something like 10p) that I've used to enhance my experience.

Forget implanting a chip into me - I've got my smartphone.

4. Injury and Exercise
2011 saw something happen to me that I *never* thought would ever happen to me.

I sustained a sports injury.

Hard men
OK the sport was the martial art Urban Krav Maga but it was still a SPORT-RELATED injury.

The knock-on effect (as I mentioned in August's posts) was that I experienced what it was to MISS EXERCISING!

Now this is beyond normal for me. It's unprecedented.

This meant I had a limp through August and was healing through September. I didn't in fact feel brave enough to go back to an Urban Krav class until the end of October/ early November...

The lack of exercise also meant that I put on weight. An inevitability I suppose. When I returned from my holiday, I was almost 11 pounds heavier...

...but it wasn't a total lack of exercise. As I mentioned in the November post, I started doing Body Weight exercises. Working my way methodically through the book (I'd actually started in July), I was more able to start stuff from this book that jumping (literally) back into Urban Krav or Shaolin. I can't completely tell, but I'm pretty sure it's made me stronger. At least once She has mentioned my arms looking bigger - but She is biased.

I received two boxes...
The result of putting on weight was drastic action - in the form of a game - related to chocolate. I just decided to myself to see how long I could go without eating chocolate. After one day it really did become easier. After one-week even easier.

I made it to SIX WEEKS WITHOUT CHOCOLATE!

That's another unprecedented feat given my previous relationship to the stuff. I even (half-jokingly) made reference to it in my post about 2009! (And then Christmas happened - but that's another story).

During that time I lost something like seven/ eight pounds in weight. I was really buoyed up by this and inspired. And then I realised that all that had happened was that I'd been exercising regularly again and I was back down to the weight I was before I got injured.

Nice.

5. Guitar
2011 saw me hit the magic 200. And all because I spent a bit of money on myself.

Playing guitar has become something I do to relax my mind. It's always really helped me but it's now moved out of the realms of obsession into the world of hobbyist and creativity. I spent a lot of money on guitar-related stuff acquiring a Line 6 JM4 Looper and new Takamine Acoustic Electric guitar.

Joy!

Classic
These have opened up a world of experimentation that I hadn't explored. Playing a musical instrument is a different kind of creativity to writing. It's more physical and perhaps more outwardly expressive. That's not to say I've not experienced more introspective moments playing guitar - it's more about the performance as well as the creation of the music.

The investments also meant that I topped 200bpm on Master of Puppets using downstrokes only. This is something I've been working towards for years and it's quite satisfying given I first mentioned it in 2009. Perhaps it'll be a bit like what happened after Roger Bannister ran the first 4-minute mile...

End of Part One!

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*You'll have to guess who they all are. I'm quite enjoying being obscure about those people!

Monday, January 02, 2012

JDS Insights: December 2011

My December threw up a lot.*

I hope you get something from reading this (rather long) post.

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December 3rd, very early in the morning, my Father-in-law passed away.

I was there.

It was something that was quick and slow at the same time. He'd been pretty ill for a number of years, including being in and out of hospital. It almost felt like another 'routine' visit to hospital on the Friday night when I got the call from Her.

When She texted again though, the content was far more serious. Until that night, I'd only every come across the words 'heart' and 're-started' in the same sentence when they were uttered by some random actor on tv.

When we arrived at the hospital** the seriousness of the situation was highlighted by the look on the faces of the two people already there and the fact that they had been advised to contact family. When the doctor from A&E came in and spoke to us, the straightforward question was asked: "Could he die?" The candid answer was a 'Yes' followed with a point that people do recover from the position he was in and go on to lead a normal life. This was further qualified with the fact that he was very ill.

The evening was turning into a series of slow-motion moments. There was nothing for me to do apart from deal with whatever was happening in front of me: no past, no future just the present.

The other immediate family member arrived and we lapsed into discussion and speculation - which isn't always helpful - but can be more comforting than the deadening silence of our own thoughts. There were goings-in and goings-out for cigarettes and phone calls but waiting can be utterly mind-numbing.

A&E were attempting to stabilise his condition. Absorbing earlier recounting of the day: from coughing fits to doctor's visits; from ambulance rides to hospital beds, I listened to a key moment being described. He was in A&E when one of the hospital machines started to make a bleeping sound; at which point about six people seemingly materialised from thin air and began to do the things you see in television dramas.

As my brother-in-law explained this, it became clear that this was the point he probably suffered a heart-attack and his heart was re-started. The doctor had told us he was staying in A&E until he was stable enough and a free bed was available in the 'ICU'.

Time passed and we went upstairs to the ICU. As we came out of the lift and were buzzed in by some hospital staff we were shown into a room called the 'Relatives Room'. It was quite a small rectangular room with seating around the edge of most of it. There was a water cooler in one corner and an over-flowing bin as you entered next to the door. It was decorated in the dull nondescript shades of hospital blue and grey.

Apart from these pointless details my brain took in, the room was filled with the members of a large family. So much so there were only just enough seats for the five of us to sit down. We sat together and continued our speculation and discussion, peppered with visits to a snack machine and gently winding each other up whilst avoiding the big elephant in the room. I could feel the tension mixed with tiredness in the air around us.

I can't really tell how long we were in there but like I said, the night was turning into a series of discrete, punctuated moments rather than a long event. We were getting a little more riled as time passed - purely because we couldn't go and see him and we didn't know what was happening.

At some point, a doctor appeared and herded the members of the other family into another room next door. I didn't think much of it until the silence swallowed us. We were suddenly aware of how loud our voices were.

After a few minutes, the members of the other family emerged: quite a few in tears. As they all came back into the Relatives Room the possibility of what was going on began to roll over us like fog. It was a sobering moment.

Eventually it was our turn. The doctor took us next door into a small room with a few chairs in. What stood out was the table with boxes of tissues on it. The doctor locked the door, asked us to sit down and started talking to us.

He explained how ill my Father-in-law was: how his blood acid was high because his kidneys had stopped working and he was on drugs for this; how he was on a the highest level of adrenaline for his heart; how his heart stopped and blood flow stopped to the brain; how if he did recover there was a significant chance of brain damage;  how he was breathing with a machine; how he was sedated and how he was being monitored for a response to the treatment but that it was unlikely that he would survive.

As he spoke those words, time slowed down. I was struck by how much space there was in the conversation; how clear he had been and the high level of respect and awareness he brought to the situation and to us. This was not unique. The doctor in A&E had shown a similar level of calmness and clarity. I thought all the staff were amazing.

He knew how much it was for us to take in with such a short space of time and he let my mother-in-law say everything she wanted to say: no interruptions, no misdirections, no distractions and no looking away. Truly brilliant. He let us ask questions and then left us to do whatever we needed to do.

They would only allow two people at a time to see him. I waited in the Relatives Room. I saw one brother-in-law come in, face white, sit down and put my fedora hat on top of his head covering his face. I happened to have with me an unopened packet of tissues and gave him one. The second brother-in-law came in and again I gave him some tissues.

When She came back, she was upset too, obviously.

When I saw him on the bed, machine breathing for him, eyes closed, all the nonsense and pettiness of my own thoughts fell away.

We sat in the Relatives Room for a while longer before we were called again into the small room next door. I made sure the tissues were accessible for everyone. This time the doctor spoke some more but used the words 'prolonging his death'. Now there was open crying and visible upset. Raw humanity.

A priest was contacted for last rites. Rosaries appeared.

She went for a cigarette with her brothers...which explains the gravity of the situation because She doesn't smoke. I was in this small room with my mother-in-law in pieces at the situation we were confronting. I offered what support I could as a son-in-law.

As the wider family had started to arrive, things began to become more ordered. We had another discussion about organ donation - and again the hospital staff were unbelievably amazing. We then said the rosary in the room with him. Religion gave some structure, sense of identity and means of understanding the incomprehensible and articulating the amorphous.

Then a nurse came in and turned off the machine. We were all silent. For the next few minutes I watched the machines and everyone in the room as his breathing slowed and his heart stopped. One of the aunties began to sing a favourite hymn of his. She was barely into the third line when the nurse came in again - which took us all by surprise.

It turned out that he passed away as the hymn started. It also turned out that he passed away on the anniversary weekend of his Father's death. No doubt he would have been aware of this.

Being in the room as someone dies is one of the most humbling experiences I've had.

After he had gone, his body was there but I felt it was obvious that his presence wasn't. He had left. Yet She kept saying that it looked as if he was asleep and that if She called his name - he would just wake up. The struggle to comprehend what had just happened was palpable.

If ever I felt the obviousness of the separation between soul, mind and body it was in that hospital room. Even then, when I saw him earlier with the machine helping him, there was very little of the Father-in-Law I knew in the room.

The funeral of course had an air of finality yet inevitability. He definitely had a great send-off though. The weather summed up the day: cold, windy but bright sun. A member of the family had died but he would be remembered with brightness. At the service, the priest told a story about him that had people laughing: this is how he would want to be remembered.

Seeing my brother-in-laws be part of the group that lowered the coffin into the ground was real closure.  My thoughts were with them, my mother-in-law and my wife. Any distance that existed between myself and my mother-in-law and brother-in-laws had evaporated.

This has also opened the door to conversations with my own parents about death, dying, grief and wills: something we'll all face.

Now as a final point, I'm not being flippant here, but at some point during this process, I was put in the mind of a Star Wars quotation from Yoda. In The Empire Strikes Back, whilst training Luke Yoda says: "Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter".


Writing this post has had me revisit everything this month. Looking back, apart from the obvious, I'm not entirely sure what order all of this happened - perhaps time stops being as linear as we think when stuff like this occurs.

Since then, events in December really have been a blur. I have taught some more, played in two school concerts, sung in a carol service, done some Krav, driven around family lots, participated on a GTD webinar, supported my sister, bought, wrapped and received some presents and said more rosaries in a week than I have in my whole life.

I've been moved and emboldened by this whole experience. My relationship to Death has deepened.

I'm almost looking forward to January.

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In other news: I started eating chocolate again towards the end of the month.

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Dec 01: Words cannot express the infinite.

Dec 02: Words necessarily place borders and limits on our experience. But they also articulate and create.

Dec 03: Some experiences cannot be communicated with words.

Dec 04: There is always depth behind the words. But it requires deep listening.

Dec 05: I don't just listen with my ears but with my whole experience and being.

Dec 06: Listening is not a passive phenomenon.

Dec 07: Listening can be conscious or unconscious. It's interesting to note where I spend most of my time.

Dec 06: When we speak of someone they are present in the room.

Dec 07: My judgements are my judgements. They're not right or wrong.

Dec 08: Everything you say has an effect on people whether you (or they) realise it or not.

Dec 09: Death and life intertwine.

Dec 10: My body is a vehicle.

Dec 11: What happens to my body is only a part of what life has to offer.

Dec 12: There is so much more to the experience of being human than we realise.

Dec 13: Context creates pejorative terms not the words themselves.

Dec 14: Words are context and content at the same time.

Dec 15: Being asleep and being awake can sometimes blur but it's all life.

Dec 16: Colleagues are not always friends but they are not always enemies.

Dec 17: Some people reveal more with what they don't say.

Dec 18: What I don't say is a communication to the self-aware.

Dec 19: Truth communicates no matter what.

Dec 20: Adults run away from their truth more than children.

Dec 21: Families are not always the best people to turn to for support.

Dec 22: Support comes from anyone at any time. Are you listening?

Dec 23: God communicates through everyone we meet. Are you listening?

Dec 24: Time reflecting is time well spent.

Dec 25: Too much reflection becomes navel-gazing and pointless.

Dec 26: What you believe is not necessarily a truth worth imposing on another.

Dec 27: Standing for something you believe is an act of self-definition.

Dec 28: The World is neither bad nor good. It just keeps on Living.

Dec 29: The world does not revolve around me. Yet I can make a difference to the world.

Dec 30: Own all of it and I can change some of it.

Dec 31: Look back and learn. Look forward and create.
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*All my shizzle. Most of these (from the 8th onwards) were written last night. Such has been the nature of this month.


**St. George's, Tooting. The hospital staff were fucking amazing.