Tag Archives: Action

I Don’t Believe it!

I don’t. It can be such a devastating phrase. I don’t do this and I definitely don’t do that. It can often define us in such a negative manner. I don’t is very much a character defining phrase, it makes up your beliefs and who you are. However, I would theorise that we can turn I don’t into an empowering phrase. Why just use it to show what we’re limited to? Why not use it to help us!
It’s a psychological thing though you see. It’s all in your head. It’s far easier and much firmer to say you don’t do something and to stick to it then saying you can’t do something or that you shouldn’t do something. For instance; “I shouldn’t have another beer” is usually followed by another beer. Similarly we have; “I can’t stay out too late” which usually leads to coming home in the early hours. Try it the other way now. I don’t drink more than 4 pints and I don’t stay out past half 11. It’s firm, it’s steady and it’s almost a certainty.
I don’t is a solid answer whereas the other answers are all susceptible to suggestion. It’s even easier to convince yourself of what you’re saying. I shouldn’t have dessert versus I don’t have dessert are two massively different answers. One is open to suggestion (the hungry fat voice at the back of your head) while the other is an end to an argument before it has even begun. It’s the difference between leaving with cheesecake and cream all over your face or with the dignity of knowing your pants will still fit in the morning.
So I’m going to give it a go. Here’s an example of some of the things I’m going to try and not do anymore:
I don’t eat dessert. A simple way to try and stop imitating the size of the equator with my waist line. This one should be ok since I’m not a massive dessert fan and the price of dessert is pretty hefty anyway. Besides, if you have Cheesecake as a starter it’s not a dessert, right? NO!
I don’t drink much. Again the wallet is being taken care of here. The hangover too, or rather, lack thereof.
I don’t dwell too much. What’s the point in wondering about what ifs and what could have been? Dwelling on something will only ever make sense if you have a time machine. Pick yourself up and move on. I did that today. Cycled in and forget my wallet and instead of dwelling on it I went to my wife (kind of like a little annoyed baby) and now we’re doing lunch.
I don’t do fizzy. No Coca-Cola. No Fanta. No Club Orange. No Red Bull. No Boost. No sugary carbonated drinks. They may taste nice but they ruin you, in many ways. Consider this: I use Coca Cola to unclog drains. Metal drains. Imagine what that does to your soft tissue.
I don’t curse. This is mostly for the benefit of my beautiful and wonderful daughter. It will be football boots this and cupid stunts that but I will endeavour to trap the words and my lips for fear of an embarrassing shopping trip full of expletives.
So there, there are 4 things I don’t do. It’s a paradigm shifting change. Give it a go. Find some things you don’t like and don’t do them. Everybody has them, the annoying habits and routines they don’t like. Empower yourself, don’t do it!

Eating Outdoors

I’m an outdoors kinda guy so it will come as no big surprise that I like to eat outside, have a coffee outside or have a pint outside. However, I find that leads to a problem for me, I hate smoking. I don’t try to shove that opinion in peoples faces but there it is, I hate smoking.

Smoking is peoples own business, if they wanna smoke, do it, it’s fine. It’s insane to me, I don’t understand how anyone sees any sense in it but fair enough. What I am seeing now though is a cultural shift against smoking.

It’s no longer all that acceptable in daily life. Even Leo the lion is getting smokers off government property. One employer even said he does not hire smokers and neither would I in his position. I even think we’re finally getting to the stage where one of the most addictive substances humankind willingly ingests is coming to an end.

My questions; are restaurants, pubs, cafes etcetera going to follow suit? Are the outdoors areas forever going to be refuges of smokers? Who is going to introduce non smoking outdoors areas?

Some people complain that all the new rules regarding smoking and the social stigma attached make it harder for them to enjoy their habit. Good! It’s not a habit, it’s not a treat, it’s not a pleasure, it’s an addiction. It’s a filthy, dirty and expensive addiction. Plain and simple. I feel sorry for smokers, sorry that they’re caught in the grasp of one of the most addictive legal drugs available.

I’ve never smoked, I will never fully understand it, that’s true. All I’ve ever seen of it is the damage it does to people I care about. When people tell me they had the power to quit I genuinely congratulate them, that must be extremely tough.

Maybe it’s time that smoking is pushed to the fringes of society. Not the smokers but smoking. Make it a chore to smoke. The chore may push people over the edge of quitting. It might make them sick of going out of their way to bring their chemical balance back up towards normal. That’s all it does by the way, it doesn’t give you a high it just levels you out so you’re on the same level as a non smoker, for a little while anyway.

So, people who sell booze, food and coffee, please have a non smoking area outside, that would be great.

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!

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?

Best Little Country

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about Ireland becoming the best little country in the world in which to do business. That, in my opinion, is an error. It translates to me as “Ireland should be the best little country in the world to do business…right now…but feel free to go somewhere else in 10 years”.

I think our priorities are all wrong. Ireland should try and be the best little business in the world. That way we might look at a sustainable future and concentrate less on small wins in the short term. It may even help remove the petty politics and poor decision making which have left us a battered nation.

If one where to examine the issues which plague the country at present then you would have to explore the possibility of treating this little island of ours as a business. Consider the following 3 problem children;

  1. The HSE: The dreaded HSE. In its current form it is not fixable. It is in essence beyond hope. It is that way because it has been allowed to be that way. There is unfortunately an underbelly in the HSE which is happy with the way things are and which has no desire to see the organisation change and evolve in the way it so desperately needs to. Our hospitals are at breaking point. The doctors, nurses, midwives, support medical staff and paramedics are giving their all and are really at the point where they can give very little more. They are doing a wonderful job under very hard working conditions and they are seeing very little return for their investment. Now, the problem is not with the people on the ground doing the job, but the people at the top of the ladder throwing the muck down on them. Think about the HSE like a business. Would it be allowed to continue? Would the current chain of management be allowed to stay in their very well paid jobs? Would the doctrine which dictates every archaic and disastrous decision be allowed to remain?
  2. Irish Water: Where to start. Irish Water, which is State Owned yet seeks no advice or conducts no research before implementing its own decisions is a disaster. It was set up with the one original overriding objective of securing the water supply and infrastructure for said supply for Ireland going into the future. Thus far it seems to have abandoned that idea in lieu of gratuitous perks for its own staff. For unnecessary water meters which will fail before 2030. For laughing yoga retreats for its staff. For unnecessary and costly breaches of data protection. In short, it seems the only future Irish Water has secured is its own. If it were a private entity completely culpable to its shareholders would it be allowed to continue in its current guise? Would it be allowed to abandon its original mission in order to pursue its own interests? Would it be allowed to make mistake after mistake without being gutted and restarted? Would it be allowed to ignore the calls of its shareholders?
  3. Politics: It’s a general one alright, but it is a problem child all the same. Political games and name calling are ruining Ireland. Politicians are far too busy scoring cheap shots off each other to recognise that Ireland is on the cusp of disaster. Its people are desperate. History has taught us that desperate people make desperate decisions. Both World Wars are prime examples of this. Closer to home you need only look at the volunteer ranks of the IRA and how they rapidly grew in Northern Ireland in the 1970’s. In all cases nothing else was working so the people thought they’d listen to the lads who sounded mad a few years ago. While Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour trade tacky and inane insults the people lose their patience. While they deeply analyse each word their opponent utters there are people lying and dying on trolleys in our overwhelmed hospitals. They talk about job creation and skew the unemployment figures while the young people think of emigration and become ever more disillusioned with a system which only talks a talk full of empty promises. If the government was a business entity completely answerable to its shareholders would it be allowed to continue with its current board? Would the shareholders stand for all the broken promises? Would they stand for all the spin talk? Better still, would they really choose the same people to represent them the next time around? The big giant issue with Politics in Ireland is that they are all gathered around the same pot, eating the same meal and singing from the same hymn sheet. One talks job creation while the next talks about creating jobs. Even Lucinda and Eddie have missed the point. Lucinda is the shunned Fine Gael poster girl. Her public views will change to reflect her unemployment fears. The issue with who we have to choose from is that they are all the same underneath. They are just wearing different colour shirts.

I know there may be a certain level of apprehension in relation to the concept of Ireland being thought of as a small business as opposed to a small country. If we all were to be considered as shareholders and stakeholders and not merely voters then maybe we might be able to enact the change we so desperately need. Maybe we might attract the right people to the right positions. What we need are balanced and experienced people with the necessary skill set to truly get Ireland on the road. We need the people who say little and do a lot. We don’t need the same old same old. We don’t need the guy who promises to fix your fence for a vote taking up a seat on Kildare street. We need the people who can cut the dead wood from the problem children and ensure that we can keep this great train of ours on the tracks. The people who I believe can do that are afraid of putting their necks on the line. They are, in my opinion, afraid of the stagnant machine which is the Irish Governmental system. With that in mind, maybe it’s time to stop the train and change tracks? We are acutely afraid of failure. Maybe it’s time our country failed so we could start anew. Iceland failed. Go to Iceland. There is very little to be afraid of there. The Icelandic people hold their heads high. They made the difficult choices and came out the other side all the better.

We didn’t make the difficult choices. We bailed out people who should have been placed on bail awaiting trial. We accepted our politicians are corrupt. We continue to accept they are serving their own needs and do little about changing it. We fear what is different and unknown. The known is slowly killing us, so maybe it’s time to delve into the unknown? At the moment our beautiful little country is formed on a rust ridden Republic and we are merely painting over the rust. When a building is damaged beyond repair you don’t move your family in and hope for the best. You knock it down and start again.

Best Little Country awards are all well and good. The problem with little countries is that they have very little margin for error. A little change for a business invested here will affect massive changes on our people.

A small business now that can grow and adapt. Small businesses have to think about what they’re going to do 20/30 years down the line. Small businesses are not solely obsessed with 4 year time frames. They have to think about keeping their workforce happy. They have to think about delivering results on their promises. They have to worry about the people who support them. They have to worry about keeping the books in order and in the black. Think about the people who have crippled this country with their ill thought out decisions. They had very little to lose. They were still walking away financially secure until the end of their days. They were not accountable for their inept choices and abhorrent behaviour.

A small country run by politicians with a 4 year life span? Seems like small vision leading to limited success. A small country run like a small business. That is a breeding ground for other small businesses and entrepreneurs.

We need to pull ourselves out of this slump and not continue to allow ourselves to be pulled down any longer. It’s much easier said than done but we need to face into the unknown and try something new. We need to find our pride again. We need to find our reason for being. We have gotten used to being stood on. We have paid and we continue to pay for the mistakes of others time and time again. It is time to be brave and start again.

Our future is unwritten. I don’t know about you, but I need a new story.

The Little Things

So Enda Kenny recently tweeted Twitter, it’s been a while… but it’s time to talk about the #littlethings“. Little Things, in case you don’t know, is the motto for the latest mental health PR campaign to hit Ireland and is run by the HSE. Ya know, the same organisation which manages our healthcare system.

So, Ireland and mental health. Yeah, we don’t even like saying mental health here, let alone do we like to talk about the issues surrounding it. It’s taboo, it’s worse than talking about anything else in the country. Mental Health issues? Nah, next topic please! The problems with these campaigns are that they never stick it out. The posters are left up for a while, the tweets flow for a little bit and the buzz words do the rounds on Kildare Street. We need a long term strategy to help the nation. We need to make our kids know that it’s ok to talk. That it’s ok to cry. That it’s ok to not feel strong all the time. Above all else we need to let them know that a permanent solution to a short term problem is not the answer.

What’s harder to ignore than mental health issues are the consequences of just presuming someone will be grand and ignoring the figures. For a moment I want you to think about how many funerals you’ve been to that were caused by suicides.

7. That’s how many I can recall right now. 7 funerals that were wholly avoidable if someone had just talked, or perhaps, if there was less of a stigma behind saying that you need help. 7 funerals. There were whispers at each one, whispers met with glances which clearly meant we don’t talk about that sort of thing. I heard an interview on the radio years ago and it has stuck with me ever since. A lady lost someone to suicide and she said something which has stuck with me ever since. As long as we keep whispering suicide we’ll still be dealing with suicide. As long as we keep denying that suicide exists we’ll still be dealing with suicide.

I am of the opinion that we are not a mental health friendly country. It’s all fine and well to show the public face on these things. It’s great, it definitely makes it look like we’re doing something. But are we making it more acceptable to stand up and say I need help? No, I don’t think so. We’re all supposed to grin and bear it and have our problems on our own. After all, we don’t want to make someone uncomfortable, do we?

It’s an unfortunate situation and it’s a high pressure one. For me the strain is starting to show. I’m getting married in less than a week, I’ll have my first baby in less than 5 weeks and I don’t have a steady income at the moment. It’s not that I don’t want to work, I have looked and applied and I have been rejected countless times. It’s killing the confidence, to be honest. So much so that I have a serious amount of doubt in myself at the moment. I find myself thinking;

Did I just waste all those years in college? What was the point in getting the masters? Why bother applying, you don’t have the experience, they won’t want you! It would probably be better if I wasn’t here!

It may sound crazy, but these are thoughts which flow through my head every time  I apply for jobs or even consider applying. These thoughts are made much better when it’s suggested I should just get a job (somehow I don’t think lack of applications is where I’m going wrong here).

I found myself at the recent open day for CarTrawler looking at jobs I was really interested in, but when I got in there I had a panic attack and I could not wait to get out. I put on a nice suit, brought copies of my CV, polished my shoes, had a haircut (Thanks to the lovely Michelle, without whom I would lose my freaking mind altogether) and even cleaned the car. As soon as I got in there I convinced myself I did not belong and thought about nothing but getting out. That was alarming. It felt like the weight of the world was on my chest and I could not breath. This has happened before so luckily I was fairly certain it wasn’t a heart attack. I just stayed in the car for 15 minutes, calmed myself down and kicked myself the entire way home, as you do.

The truth is that I’ve never really stopped kicking myself. It stops when it gets bad and everything just kind of comes to a head. Luckily I have Michelle and my Mother to read me like a book and help me through the rough patches. On the whole though, I’m a stubborn Irish man and I believe that I should be able to just get on with things. I should be strong and silent, but I’m afraid to talk about my mental health, that’s why I stay silent on the matter.

I’m afraid to talk about it because there is still a stigma in Ireland around the whole matter. Depressed? Nah, you’re just feeling down at the moment! Stressed? Nah, probably just a hangover! Suicidal? Sorry, eh, that’s my phone, see ya later!

I don’t know what’s crazier – Admitting I’ve thought about ending it all (I don’t anymore, I couldn’t do that to my wife-to-be or unborn child) or being afraid to ask for help for fear I might be shunned like a leper! 

Why would I be so open about this? Hopefully this might ring a bell with someone and make them feel less alone and less hopeless. Hopefully it will make someone look for The Little Things in their life which make them happy. So what do we need? We need to have a long term view on this. We need to be able to stand up and say “FUCK IT! I’m not alright!”. We need to teach the next generation that it’s ok to talk and that it’s ok not to be strong all the time. It’s ok to let someone else take a bit of the burden.

We need a change in thinking and to destigmatise mental health issues. But overall, we can only do this by changing little things as we go along. It’s easier to move rocks than it is to move mountains. Little steps, little things.

 

My Ultimate Film

Basically it would be a combination of “Taken”, “The Guard” and “Intermission”. And it would be called “Hard as nails C***s” (the name can be negotiated.

So what do these films have in common? Liam Neeson, Colm Meaney and Brendan Gleeson all play rogues. Liam Neeson is the lethal weapon, Brendan Gleeson is the happy go lucky craic having cop and Colm Meaney is the dedicated agent of the law.

How hard could it be to get these 3 into a film together? Gleeson and Meaney already played Guards (we all know Gleeson survived at the end of The Guard). All we need is for Neeson to have a stopover at Shannon that goes on a bit too long and then BOOM…something happens. Anything happens. It doesn’t really matter what happens. All that matters is that these 3 are combined in hitting back.

OK, now I’ve put that idea out there, could someone please do that? PLEASE?!