2000 Trees 

I’ve just got back from 2000 trees festival where I spent my time staying in Betsy the camper van, drinking cider , eating fantastic vegan food and listening to the most amazing bands.

If anything this adventure has healed something that was long missing in my heart and mind. It took away the pressure of the day job and life. It gave me the voice to sing with 5 thousand other like minded people and to dance like an idiot.

This was my second year at 2000 trees and I’m gutted that it hasn’t been in my life longer. It’s a beautiful place, no rushing, no queuing, no pretentious fools and full of amazing people.

It’s curated for the fans of live music by a bunch of guys who are actual fans of live music. Guys  who understand not to clash your favourite bands, guys who don’t want to charge you stupid money for a beer, guys who will take the time to stand with you in the crowd and watch a band with you. 

I heard familiar bands, I watched bands I’ve never seen before, I’ve seen bands do crazy acoustic performances and I’ve danced with lead singers at the silent disco. I’ve sat in a forest , I’ve stood in the glorious sun and I’ve danced under the stars.

I could go on and on about how amazing this festival is but what I really want to say is sometimes letting your hair down with like minded people can restore your faith in a world that at the moment is quite frankly crap.

Supporting music, bands and festivals like this gives us a chance to sing our hearts out and just be happy. Music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but to some of us it’s a way of life, a family and a safe place. 

Notes:

These are my 2000 trees festival highlights

Arcane Roots 

The Xcerts  

Grumble Bee 

Black peaks 

Moose blood 

Will Varley 

Creeper 

And so I watch you from afar

Additional note  :

Whilst writing this one of my favourite bands just released their new single which premiered on the radio one rock show. Deaf Havana have a place in my heart and their new single “Sing” just captured everything I was feeling in sound&words. 

I have seen these guys perform so many times and got to witness their amazing headline set at 2000 trees last year. They have never left my playlist and they are always around for me like a old friend who pops up to tell you it’s going to be ok.

Sing by Deaf Havana

Eat the Veg – Save the World

As many of you know for the past few months I have been dieting and trying to get more healthy.

It’s been tough going at times following a strict diet , exercise and cutting down on things I like to eat/drink a lot of.

Through this process I cut out dairy, meat, bread and snacks. I also cut down on alcohol. At the time it made sense as it was for weight watchers and it meant Becka and I were cooking one meal instead of a meat dish for me and a vegan dish for becka.

As the months have gone by the difference in my health, weight, skin, energy and confidence has been amazing. I also started to realise that I hadn’t really missed the things I had cut out. I actually liked soya milk and started to drink more herbal teas. I didn’t miss fry ups and steak and had started to appreciate vegan dishes. Experimenting with new foods and flavours became a new hobby. I also found so many good alcoholic drinks that are vegan friendly and taste so much better through natural brewing techniques. 

Also exercise was fun for the first time in since I used to run for the school track team.

The other side is what I had done on a bigger scale – I am in no way a expert but from what I understand from Becka these simple changes to my diet was making a difference to the world. I’ve always detested animal cruelty but never realised some of things that go on to get a pint of milk or a steak on the table. Maybe that was just ignorance because they were things I liked.

So with all that taken into account, I have made a decision to become a full time vegan. I don’t expect it to be easy and I will be that annoying person in the queue in the canteen reading all the ingredients or checking a website to see how the beer is made.

I don’t expect people to understand but I’m hoping that people may see how my lifestyle has improved by making some simple changes. Give Meat Free Mondays, vegan month or a vegan dish on a menu a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.

The sound of silence 

I remember a time when mental health was such a taboo. 

It was dealt with by the tougher people telling the sufferers to “get on with it” , “you need a holiday” and “eat more greens”

Luckily things have changed a lot and support is better and people can get help now. The main thing is how these days it is recognised as a illness. It’s a illness that people are standing up and saying “that’s me, I suffer from that” and are sharing their experiences to help others.

The scary part is people are still suffering in silence.

Seeing loved ones and friends slipping into those dark and lonely places. Watching them not being able to function or telling you what you want to hear when you know they just want to curl up in a ball and cry. It’s hard and terrifying for all involved.

For the person watching this happen, it’s so hard and almost like walking on eggshells. Do you ask if they are ok, do you give them space and do you tell them when they’ve done something out of character? Sometimes you look at that person and you don’t recognise them.

I have seen so many people in my own life struggling with these illnesses and I admire them all for their bravery. Some are still fighting , some are rebuilding their lives by finding new adventures and hobbies to cope with the darkness. 

The hardest part of any illness is the first conversation. It won’t be easy and it won’t be pretty. There could be tears, there could be anger and it ain’t going to fix everything. However it will help the people involved by having that honest conversation about what everyone needs to help make this situation a little bit better.

Depression, anxiety and stress can all be silent killers. The effect these things have on your body, well being and mind is exhausting. Not just for the person who is suffering but for the loved ones involved. But there is help available in so many ways.

The main thing is not to suffer alone


Notes
Below are a few websites that may offer some support 

http://www.samaritans.org/

https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/

http://www.bipolaruk.org.uk/

http://www.thecalmzone.net/

http://www.mind.org.uk/

And many more which can be found here 

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/mental-health-helplines.aspx

To post or not to post…that is the question

  
After great long weekend away I realised a shift in my social media habits for a few days. The couple selfie, the friends picture, the band picture and the amazing hot dog I ate for lunch (don’t tell weight watchers I had a day off) 

 
Also the mad story about finding a toy crocodile and how it’s now on tour with the band we went to see.
  
 

My posts over the weekend have made me question my place on social media.
Twitter is a mix of both personal and work. I’ve always said that it would be this mix as I can connect with work people, people who do what I do , people I respect and look up to. Also it lets me connect with my own personal interest such as music, film, geek things,food ,bands and the occasional funny parody account. 

My weekend posts got me thinking does that amazing L&D person who I admire want to see that picture of a toy crocodile? Does that really cool band that follow me because I shared some of their music want to know about my NHS adventures? I just don’t know…
I started to think about splitting my account, setting a new one up and migrating personal things to the new account. I then thought about moving the personal things I like onto other platforms and keeping Twitter all work like and professional. 

This is where the battle comes in, why shouldn’t I post what I like (as long as it isn’t going to get me the sack). People don’t have to follow me I guess. However do I want to be forgotten like that dodgy mate we all have who everyone doesn’t want around but on occasion says or does something amazing? 

Total chimp meltdown !!

When I started Twitter I did it to follow celebs and traffic updates, it’s grown since then into a great way of meeting and communicating with some amazing people and it’s something I don’t want to be scared of.

In reflection I am who I am (sure that’s a song)  and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. I don’t sit behind a work desk 7 days a week but I have a love and passion for what I do in my job. I like beer, wacky bands and a crazy story or two. I’m a person who works hard to enjoy my life. 

I’m a human (with a terror of a chimp) who posts and writes for himself and if anyone wants to read it that’s a bonus. 

So maybe the question isn’t should I post that tweet, maybe it’s up to my followers to decide if they want to listen?

  

Don’t mind him, that’s my chimp…

A few months ago, Alistair started talking about his chimp. At the time I thought he’d got a new pet or needed some help. I didn’t really understand all the references or the change in how he approaches things but after today I wish I’d found out sooner.

Today I attended a wonderful talk hosted by Steve Peters of chimp management, and I have had my mind blown. The concept is so simple – we all have a human part of the brain, a computer part of the brain and a chimp.

The human is the person we are, the computer is were we store our values and the chimp is the mischievous one who hijacks everything. So basically there isn’t just one voice in your head.

Steve explained all this wonderfully (which I recommend you read about or go to one of Steves talks).

Steve told us write down the things we want to be. I wrote confident, brave and positive. Steve then explained we are actually these things and our chimp hijacks it and tricks us into think differently.

It’s hard to explain but if you want some chocolate the human says I want a piece, the chimp says it wants the bar. The chimp is stronger, smarter and in control so you end up eating the bar. However you can program your computer with values which will help keep the chimp on side. If you dont have values the chimp can be dangerous.

Thing is the chimp ain’t all that bad if controlled. Chimps make us laugh, enjoy life and have fun. But they are needy and need tlc and will always be insecure. You need to be friends with your chimp.

Steve touched on techniques on how to work with your chimp. Your chimp is always going to fight back but you have to expect it and accept it and then take care of it. He even told us that we can call on our chimp to help us in times of need, but always be weary as the chimp will always be mischievous.

He also spoke about how our chips interact and how other chimps can wind up our chimps.

All the descriptions and stories about the people Steve had helped just struck a chord with me and also made me realise my chimp is a terror.

I am the things that I want to be and that chimp of mine is often taking over. 

In a way I’ve started to fight back already over the past few months, not through will power (chimps like to break will power) but by looking at my values and beliefs. I think today’s talk cemented this in my mind but also gave me the final parts of the puzzle. I also understand now what Alistair has been banging on about (looking forward to talking this through with him).

I think realising that I’ve always done my best and living my life fully are key. Also being proud of myself and the values I live by and not caring what anyone else thinks. 

I also need to keep a eye on that chimp of mine and make sure he doesn’t hijack my thoughts as much.

Chimp watch – one week on….

I’ve been mulling over this blog for a week, deciding is it good enough. I think my chimp has been throwing his weight around since I found out about his presence. However on the other side he’s been easier to keep on side. I’ve noticed a change as I question why I’m doubting my ability. I even called on him for help today with a difficult scenario. I guess this is a relationship that’s going to take some work 

Comfortable in my own skin

For years I have really struggled with my confidence as a person but also by the way I look.

When I was younger I was the skinny, tall, glasses wearing geek in my group of friends. The joke at home when my friends telephoned the house phone was always the same – which Ken do you want to speak to (I share the same name as my dad), my friends would say little Ken, which led to the reply little Ken is bigger than big Ken. 

Throughout school I was alway tall and awkward, I think the only friend who was ever taller than me was Big Dave. 

 
As I got older I still felt uncomfortable and spent years changing my hair style and my fashion sense. I even started to wear contacts as I felt like my glasses were a barrier. 

I wasn’t very conscious about my weight and fitness, I ate when I wanted and what I wanted. I don’t think I realised how much my lifestyle was effecting my mental health, my body and my confidence.

 
Eventually I lost my way and my insecurities that I’d hidden were on show. I lost belief in myself.

I started to get back on track, with the support of the people closest to me. Then the news about my mum came and it was my turn to look after the person who always loved me for me.

After everything I didn’t get angry; I turned that into wanting to make my mum proud. Part of that journey was to get healthy and build my confidence. 

I didn’t realise how far I’d come until this past week when I had to buy smaller clothes sizes as I’d lost 2 & 1/2 stone. I looked in the mirror and actually felt proud of myself. Also for the first time in forever I felt good in my own skin.

So what changed? I look after my mind and my body alot more these days. I’ve become more mindful. I also have love in my life and purpose. 

I go walking nearly everyday and keep active. I have more energy and less can’t be bothered days. I eat healthier. I’ve done this by eating a mix of vegan and meat dishes. I also cut down on my main food vices like cheese, milk, sweets and bread. 

I’m able to wear the clothes I want and I actually like wearing my glasses now. In a big twist I’m also short now compared to all my school friends who must have had a few years in grow bags. Well, all apart from Big Dave who is a giant still. 

It’s also been great for my confidence that people have seen the change in me and complimenting on my weight, how healthy I look and how I am in myself. 

I’m not here to preach or tell people what to do but I think what I’m trying to say with this story is you dont have to let insecurities rule your life and you don’t have to make huge change to make a differance. 

Go out for a walk or try a healthier dish. When it comes down to it you are that amazing person you always wanted to be, you’ve just got to believe in it. 

  

Lighthouse in the dark

  

I was playing around with my blog page the other day and came up with a working title….
“A pocketwatch, a compass and a world of adventure”

An odd title indeed with a mix of random items, but to me those items make a story and memory.

I enjoy imagery in storytelling. Using descriptions, items and scenery to create something in my mind or to remind me of a particular time.

I remember being told a story about a lighthouse recently which was so beautifully told it stuck in my mind. 

Of a day the lighthouse was just a lonely structure, sat looking out to the sea. The sun catching it’s glass work every so often causing a diamond effect. It’s peaceful and calm, just the sound of small waves crashing and the seagulls flying around.

But then the night comes and with it a storm and this is were the lighthouse comes to life. The bright light is shines guiding ships safely in the night, piercing through the storm and darkness. To the sailors the light is a beacon of hope, they are near safety and they are nearly home.

The darkness passes and the storm clears. Calm and order returns. The sailors are safely home and the lighthouse returns to its quiet state, just watching over the sea.

In my mind the imagery is so clear; the waves crashing and the storm roaring. The ship being thrown around and the light being bright warms the air around it. Then the quiet after the storm, the calm of the sea and the towering lighthouse unaffected by what has happened around it. Everything is back to normal again.

Now to me the beauty of storytelling and creating these visuals is what it awakes in you. The feeling it gives you or the place it can take you. 

It may mean nothing, that lighthouse did its job that’s why it’s there. 
However it may mean a lot more. It may have made you think or maybe it inspired you to create your own story about things that often pass us by or we take for granted.

  
Notes – lighthouse pictures from https://weather.com/travel/news/amazing-lighthouses-world-photos-20130702