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Don’t Read This, you haven’t got the Time.

You’re just a rebel, aren’t you? Reading this, despite being directed not to. Oh well, your fault if this turns out to be a waste of your time.

Time. Time is the only thing worth worrying about. Time is the only currency you should be concerned about spending. You get no refunds and there is no time owed to you. Your account balance is in a constant decline, there are no top-ups. There is no way to earn more time. Yet time is often the one key thing ignored by people and constantly wasted.

Time is constantly moving, sadly in the one direction. We often spend too much of our precious time wishing we could go backwards or forwards. Time spent wondering about tomorrow or annoyed about yesterday and no time spent on what you’re doing right now.

I see it all the time, you know. People living in different times. Chasing that feeling they had yesterday. Recording a moment to relive it tomorrow. Stop! For f**k sake, stop. Put the phone down. Pull your chin up. Look at what you are doing right now and be there.

It’s easy to say we’re in the present. It’s real easy to say we’re connected. It’s hard to stop, unplug and appreciate the little moments. Next time you’re at a gig or if your child/partner/spouse/dog/cat/stalkee is doing something wonderful, think about where you are. If you’re thinking about living that precious little moment through a 5 inch screen, stop. For f**k sake, stop! It won’t happen again. Take the feeling from that moment and embrace it. Put the poxy phone down and be there. Put your worry aside and be there.

There will come a day when your balance hits zero. What are you going to think then? Are you going to worry about yesterday? Perhaps you’ll have some regrets, we all have them. Are you going to worry about tomorrow? What’s the point, tomorrow has never come, every day in history has been today, the rest is just record keeping and guesswork.

I hope my final thoughts will be made up of snapshots in my head of all the beautiful little moments I have had. Pay attention to feeding the positive memories in your head. Be here, right here, right now. Need some inspiration? See below:

What’s your Fuel?

I drive two cars regularly, one an unleaded family wagon and one a diesel hatchback with its routes stretching back to people wagons of old (the less said about that the better, don’t mention the war and all).

Everytime I fill them up I’m fairly fastidious to not mix up the ingredients. For a diesel engine putting unleaded in may not be the end of the world, but the other way another would be a system killing disaster. I’m careful with that. As any good vehicle owner is. I have seen people mess this very basic thing up and for them I wonder how they put their socks on by themselves.

The other day I had a can of red bull and I found myself wondering what the flip (I have a kid now, I can’t curse, well not openly anyway) I was doing. I mean yeah, I was tired, but then I thought about it. Why not just get tea or coffee? Why put that heart palpation causing crap eh, stuff, into my body. I’m careful with my cars, but not myself, that seems sorta stupid really.

Now I’m no Chuck Norris but it seems that since my daughter came along I am way more concerned about what happens to myself. So that’s what got me thinking about that. Realistically an engine is only going to run as smoothly as it can with the right fuel. If you really need proof then fill up with the wrong fuel at the garage the next time you’re in, see how that goes.

So, what does all this mean and what the flip am I, eh, pooping on about? Well I’m going to try something over the next month and the wife will say I’m stealing her ideas. No fast food. No fizzy drinks. No processed meals. Lots of water. Lots of proper home cooking. One coffee a day.

I’m going to see how that goes and I’m going to judge it’s effects by the following areas;

  1. How do I feel?
  2. How do I look?
  3. How much money did I save?

That alone should be a fairly good indication of the effects of giving in to the marketing and buying the red bull.

I invite anyone who reads this to try the same thing and let me know how you get on in the comments below.

Good luck!

5 Reasons to Vote No

There’s a referendum coming up, just in case you didn’t know. The referendum concerns two issues:

  1. Should the age of a Presidential Candidate be lowered from 35 to 21 years of age and;
  2. Should marriage be extended equally to all persons regardless of sex.

The second one, as you would imagine, is gathering more interest. What with it concerning all people having equal rights and all. Here are 5 reasons you should vote No on number 2, maybe even number 1.

  1. You like things just the way they are: Change, why would you change anything at all? You like things the way they are. Everything in its place. Change is scary after all. The fact is that if this passes and we as a country vote Yes then Ireland will slip off the shelf and plunge into the Atlantic…FACT!
  2. Standards of Weddings: If we allow everyone to have equal rights and marry who they love then the fact is that the LGBT community will probably set the standard for Weddings impossibly high. There will be colours and themes that the average Irish man could never dream of or indeed live up to. Look at Panti Bliss for example. That chick knows how to throw a party. Imagine that. Shindigs like the country has never seen before.
  3. Increase in Tourism: Ireland voting No in this referendum will send a clear signal to the world that we are still that country which likes to segregate people, push people to the fringes of society and deny equality to all. We could see an increase in visitors from groups such as the Neo-Nazis, the KKK and perhaps even The Westboro Baptist Church.
  4. Parenting: Voting yes in this referendum might give LGBT people more power to have, raise, adopt and love children of their very own. Two people of the same sex raising a child couldn’t possibly do a good job of that. Never before in human history have we seen two people of the same sex raising a child. Nope, never. It would be a disaster. Like a Mother helping her Daughter raise her child or a Father giving advice to his Son. Imagine a child having two loving Mothers or two adoring Fathers? Awful stuff altogether.
  5. You’re a moron: That’s right. You should definitely vote No if you are a moron. If you believe it is absolutely paramount to deny equality to all people then you should vote no. If you believe that not all people deserve happiness then vote no. If you believe you have the right to interfere in other peoples decisions and who they can marry then vote no.

Ireland is on the verge of change right now. We have some very draconian traditions and laws which quite simply have no place in the modern world. Love is one of those things you don’t choose, it just happens. To live in a country where you are made to feel like a second class citizen because you are denied a basic right afforded to others must be heart breaking and utterly demoralising.

I became a father recently. My little girl is on the verge of turning 6 months old. I want nothing but happiness for her in her future. If she grows up and decides that she would like to marry the love of her life then I hope she can do so without impediment. It shouldn’t matter if that person is a male or a female, it should only matter that she loves them and that they love her.

I’ll be voting Yes in this election. My generation and the generations before me still refer to people as straight people, gay people, lesbian people, transgender people and bisexual people. Maybe a yes vote will take us one step closer to my Daughters generation just having people. One big group of happy people.

Hiking Tips

I like the auld bit of hiking. The whole thing of getting outdoors and pushing yourself. It’s a great mix of nature and exercise. When you’re doing it you’ll often see other hill-walkers and climbers and you’ll exchange a pleasant hello and maybe a bit of banter. Then you encounter the people who don’t do it as much and you’d almost have to pay them to talk to you.

The first group are grand. They’re friendly and welcoming and usually share the same interests. Mainly being the love of getting out. They’ll also have a common look about them. They’ve got the gear and they genuinely look happy about being out. If you’re planning on getting into hill-walking or climbing the bigger mountains there are a couple of things you should put on a checklist;

  • Clothing: Wear appropriate clothing for the conditions. Head to any of the many outdoors shops around Ireland and you’re sure to pick up proper pants, t-shirts, jumpers, jackets and socks. They’ll make a big difference to your morale and indeed your safety. In winter time and in cooler weather warm and appropriate clothing could be the difference between a successful climb and an accident. Hats, gloves, scarves should all be in your bag. Bring spares as well. Spare socks and tops are the big ones, but try fit some spare pants in there too.
  • Footwear: Invest in decent boots. Decent boots will pay dividends in protecting your feet and keeping you steady on the rocks. Don’t just buy the cheapest or indeed the most expensive pair. Try them on, see if they support your ankle and the sole of your foot. These two things will be most likely to bother you on a hike. Also, try and make sure they’re waterproof. Mountains and hills tend to have rivers, bogs, large ponds. Soggy socks will ruin your day. Gators are handy too.
  • Equipment: Walking poles are extremely handy. Especially on windy days and on longer hikes. They are very effective in helping you climb and keep your balance. Know how to use them. When you should keep them shorter and when they should be longer. They’ll also make for handy splints if you or one of your party hurts something in a fall or slip. Bring a compass and map and do your best to keep orientated on your hike. Electronic GPS devices are cool and all but can be absolutely useless. Try and do a bit of research on your route as well. Do not rely on your phone for anything but calling for help.
  • First Aid: Bring a basic first aid kit. Plasters, scissors, bandages, that kind of thing. You may not need them but somebody else who is injured may need them. They weigh very little so why not bring them.
  • Supplies: Food and water are the big ones, especially the liquids part. For the longer hikes you will sweat and need hydration so try bring between 1.5 and 3 litres of water. Some lucozade can also be a good pick me up. Soft drinks though are mostly useless and work against your energy levels and hydration. Brings snacks and a main snack for when you reach your peak. Fruit, sandwiches, tins of tuna are all good choices. A hot drink in a flask can also boost you on the trip. Toilet paper. Bring toilet paper. You never know when you’ll need it, but surely it’s one of those things you’d rather not miss having.
  • Talk: Tell people where you’re going and roughly how long you’ll be. That way if you get injured or stranded you shouldn’t be missing for too long. If you’re driving try not to hide your car when you park it, that way people will have a good indication as to where you started.
  • Bag: why bring all that nice dry stuff and then bring a bag that will soak up the water like a sponge. A good waterproof bag will cost you between €30-€50 and will come with a cover for when (WHEN) it rains. Try go for a 33/35 litre bag, they’re the perfect size. Lots of places to put all your stuff.
  • The Weather: The weather rules, you will not beat it. Look at the forecast. If it’s not too bad you’re good to go. If it’s to be particularly poor then maybe choose a different hike or less challenging route.
  • Plan: Have a plan (at least a rough one). Know where you’re going, what to expect, when the sun goes down, the basics really. Plan to bring what you need. Don’t go crazy though, there’s no point lugging a massive pack around if you’re only out for a relaxing hike.

The last time I went hiking with a small group there was a wind warning in effect and on a mountain or a hill you really feel that. I was fine. I was snug in my ski pants, jacket and 2 layers underneath with my hat, gloves and scarf. I was astounded and shocked by the people I saw coming up as I headed back down, the second group of people you encounter on days out. There was one group of ladies with no jacket between them all wearing a t-shirt and yoga pants with flat runners. It was a recipe for disaster and on the way down I could hear it in them.

One lady complained that she couldn’t feel her hands and nearly started crying. I don’t blame her. As she was saying that her friends where leaving her there. Which was in particularly poor form as the one lady with a small bottle of water had passed me already. They were clearly not prepared for the day that was in it and the climb ahead. I also once encountered two hikers who had relied on their GPS, which failed them. They went a long way in the wrong direction. Luckily for them it wasn’t too late to correct their mistake.

In not preparing in even the slightest way they were putting themselves at risk. In doing that they were putting others in harms way. If we’ve seen anything over the past few months it is that there is a network of brave volunteers out there who are prepared and ready to go rescue and help people who get stuck or injured. Yes, sometimes the shit just hits the fan and you need to get help. However, I can’t help but get the feeling that they wouldn’t have to go out so much if people just got the basics right.

So…KISS. Keep it simple stupid. Plan ahead and try avoid the hassle of making the news. Try not to go beyond your abilities. Over time you will be able to do more, but take it easy. Most importantly, get out there and enjoy yourself. Take in the fresh air, the sights and the relaxing feeling that comes with putting your boots on the ground.

Please do share your own tips in the comments below. What would you add in?

The Tank was Empty

Myself and the wife have been fairly good at keeping up the Couch to 5K, although for the sake of honesty I’ll say that the good lady has been a lot better at it than I. But hey, it’s not a race, thankfully.

This morning was odd, I just wasn’t feeling it at all. The Tank was Empty. I had no get up and go and I most definitely had that familiar anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach and it was not nice. I have gotten this in the past and I’ve just kept going and it usually went away. However, this morning was different and difficult. The anxious feeling I had affected my legs and I literally had no energy. Into my third lap I just had to stop. There was nothing there and I just had to stop.

Today is also my counselling day. The day when I head up to Navan and talk through the issues which have been taking their toll on me and indeed on the people around me. Today I felt bad, last Monday I didn’t, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Today I could talk about what was going on and see what bubbled to the service. Christmas 2012 was when I lost an important person in my life, my father died. It’s half the reason I’m going to counselling now, so I can be around for my daughter for as long as possible. Not long after going in did I start to talk about that and I did something I haven’t done in a long time.

I cried.

I cried about missing him, about what’s gone on since he died and about what he’s missing in my beautiful daughter. It hurt to bring it out, but it felt a lot better. It was like a weight was lifted from me and I felt energised. It’s amazing how what was primarily a mental block had manifested itself in such a strong physical way. I wasn’t feeling what was going on up top so my body decided to make me listen.

That’s ok though, I should listen to my body, to what it tells me. Some days you just need to stop and take it easy or you’ll be made to.

It was nice to have that revelation and to not feel crazy for still going through the grieving process even this far down the road. But then that doesn’t hold much water either. Grief doesn’t care for my time schedule. It could be twenty years later and I’d still miss him.

It’s all about watching out for the little things and giving yourself a break every now and then.

A Social Friend

Social media is a hobby of mine. It’s an annoying, rewarding, draining and informative hobby of mine. It is many things and it has many purposes. The one underlying selling point behind any social media networking platform is that it is meant to make it easier for you to stay in touch with people. So my question this week…is a social media friend a real friend?

Unfortunately the answer is not as easy as a straightforward yes or no, it’s a kinda depends answer. It also depends on what you’re using. Twitter for instance is usually a no. I have 1,000 or so followers on twitter at the moment and I doubt I will ever get to meet 10% of them. Instagram, that’s another one. I interact with people purely based on photos and little else. LinkedIn is for business. I never LOL or LMAO on LinkedIn (in fact I haha, not LOL). There are many more and they all produce the same answer. Yes, it’s nice that you follow me and I appreciate it, but let’s not swap addresses just yet.

Facebook, now that’s the one that’s getting all too real. For some people their whole lives are lived out on Facebook so it would be just logical that their friends on that are their real friends, right? Wrong. Facebook is strange. It really has integrated itself into every part of our lives.

It’s an odd one really. Facebook allows us to show our best sides to the world. It turns the introverts into the extroverts and the passive into the militant. All without doing a thing. It allows us to feel connected when in reality we’re isolated. It also allows us to become the ultra creeps that reality and society wouldn’t tolerate. If you end a relationship, be it a partner, friend or just somebody you can no longer stand you are expected to move on. However, Facebook makes that impossible. Which in my eyes makes Facebook unhealthy. If you break up with someone you don’t stay outside the house waiting for them to do something, yet you’ll stay on Facebook waiting for them to check in or upload a photo, thus negating any positive action you had taken to move on. Remember, the person you see on Facebook is not the real person.

In recent months I’ve had people who are on my Facebook friends list completely blank me and not attempt to say hello. It’s not a nastiness in them, I don’t think they dislike me, I just don’t think we’re friends, and that’s ok, we don’t have to be. As I type this a lady within ear shot has taken someone off her wedding invite list because they’re not a Facebook friend and they never added them as a friend. But really, is a social friend a real friend? No, I don’t think so.

People who maintain social media friendships are fair weather friends. They choose when to interact with you and when not to interact. They make a conscious decision that they only want to be there for the good stuff. A real friend is there for the good and the bad. The tears and the laughs. The ups and the downs. A social friend is there exclusively when they want to be. That to me is counter productive to the human condition.

Facebook is dragging online issues into the offline world. It’s making us into an awfully anti social bunch altogether. Perhaps it would help us all if we cared less about who was liking our updates and cared more about who wanted to meet for coffee. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing if we paid more attention to the people in front of us and less to the people stalking us online!

What do you think? Is social networking the most anti social thing to have happened to us? Do you type LOL more than you laugh with people? Let me know in the comments!

 

Being Social has never been so Anti-Social

Social media. I love it. I use a lot of it. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, Foursquare and even Google Plus (for some reason). It’s a bit of a contradiction though, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not actually very social at all.

It’s worrying to see people out on nights out, having dinner, going for a walk, trying to relax and being slaves to their mobile phones. When did it suddenly become acceptable to ignore the real life people in front of you in order to engage with those who you may never actually encounter? I’ve witnessed this first hand, people who will actively like and follow your life online but who will blank you in real life. Is it that those people don’t like you? Possibly, but not necessarily. It may just be endemic of a bigger problem. A failure to stop and talk to people or to engage on a real level is making people anti social, while allowing them to perceive that they are in fact popular and fully involved.

I love social media for studying consumer and personal behaviours and development. It allows me to see what sort of profile people are trying to put out there. Are they the ultra social people checking in at every opportunity and throwing up the excited #selfies? No, but they would like you to think that. You have got to wonder that if someone was that much in the moment or if they were really enjoying themselves then would they have the time to whip out the overpriced smarty phone and tell the world about it? No, again, I’d imagine not.

Look, I’m guilty of it too, trying to show my best face in public. Sometimes you feel low and sometimes you want to reach out and sometimes the best way to do that is online. I’ll always believe that we need the tactile sensations that come with a hug, a kiss, a handshake, a laugh and not a LOL or ROFL in order to grow as people and to help us heal when we need to. You can get as many nice comments and likes as you want, but in my experience, they will never replace spending time with a close friend or a loved one.

So is it too late? Not yet, but it could be soon. It’s a well known fact that social media addiction is growing. So when you get that urge to reach out to a friend, don’t just poke them on Facebook or reach out for their handle on Twitter. Get your ass off the couch and go actually say hello. Ya never know, it could make the difference to someone someday. #LittleThings.