The blog.

New Year…New Rules

(Part one of what I am sure will be a very short series)
So, this is 2015. Interesting no? Age is not the only thing that is nothing but a number. However change can be instantly achieved regardless of the date.
A prime example of this happened recently (I know….at the time of writing we are only seven days into the year). I received a friend request on Facebook.
No big deal I hear you cry. Get them all the time the vain people at the back are mumbling to themselves. This time however I had to think about it for a moment before deciding if this ‘association’ should be added.

You see I was at a course/function/gathering about three years ago when I was less cynical about a lot of professional pursuits and more in a tune with the real me. I met this person there and I gave a lot of time and energy making sure he did not feel left out in life. Being a person who loves connecting with and hearing the stories of those of us who are more experienced in life is the one thing I know feeds my intellect and my sprit. That is just the way I am wired. I thought we got on great.

Anyway, a few years go by and I see the person again but this time they are dismissive, un-engaged and full of themselves (it was their night to shine apparently) and in my customary way I left it right there where it belongs.
So, I fire up my newish grandad sized iPhone this week and opened Facebook only to see a request from the very same person. Had they forgotten who they ignored last time? Do they feel they will gain some career advantage by sending this request at this time? Do these questions matter?
The last one is very easy to answer. No. These questions and many more should not even figure in your minds and in truth do not matter at all.

We all have choice. We can surround ourselves with likeminded people who may not agree with you all the time but at least you both feed each other’s sprit in a way where some level of positivity will emerge. I no longer engage with energy vampires or professional destructive hate talkers .

So the request has been deleted. I hope they forget about the request in the same way they would forget about their behaviour. That way balance is restored to my universe which, hopefully, will spill into your universe.

The day my father died and the lesson he left me

It was a year ago today that I received a call that we all may come to expect but is still a shock. The voice down the line was my stepmother from America, crying and screaming. “He’s dead, he’s dead! Your father is dead”. “How?” I first asked without realising that how he died was of little consequence. I set about the task of telling the rest of my family here in the UK.

After the calls and with a good measure of rum in a glass I sat down and started to think about my father life. He had made a choice not to be with my mother when I was 15 and that had made me mad and bitter for quite a long while. Nobody could understand the choice at the time and we were not in an emotional and financial position to just pick up the pieces and start again. But over time I came to forgive my father and find peace with the situation. I had gone through worse and was still going to go through other times that would test me so holding a grudge was never an option and in life it never should be.

At the times that I met with my father he always seemed far more happy, adventurous and settled as a person. In fact far more than he had been in his time here in the UK.

And then the penny dropped. He was doing exactly what he want to do without fear or judgement. It had seemed as if he found the kind of freedom that we all crave. That balance we all talk about but do not quite reach because of our fears.

My stepbrother Mark summed it up perfectly when he said to me last year that my dad “…did it his way…” and that is the one lesson I strive to take from all of this.

At some point we all need to do it our way. Walk from the toxic if it cannot be silenced. Stand tall everywhere in everything you do. Make sure your voice is heard however you may express yourself and keep on keeping. Forward motion everyday no matter how small that movement seems.

One day we all will be stopped in our tracks. Never make that day the time you are enjoying on earth. And enjoy it, for all of its waves of happiness and hardship, we must. It is our duty.

Rest in peace dad. Here’s to doing it our way.

Beware the switchers

Just a short blog entry this time as there is a point where we all need to spend our energies elsewhere and for me this is the last time I will talk or even think about this subject.
I have experienced something twice now that calls in to question my role as an emotional advisor when the going gets tough for others and I have given the type of person who does this act a name. I call them switchers.

Here’s what happens. At some point in the past a person who would normally not seek your council approaches you for advice. Although you find this unusual you still allow them your time and hopefully help them. You now feel that whatever distance there was between you and the person you were advising has gone and you are able to talk freely in a more open and adult manner. Hold that thought for a moment.

What happens is that in the passage of time that person will normally return to the “me” economy we are all so comfortable with today and past deeds no longer count. A kind of social business as usual attitude when their world is fully intact. When they return to “me” world their memory of your past efforts are, in the least case, forgotten or in the worst case angered against.

This is worrisome. How are we meant to gauge who to help in the future if your help will be used against you later on down the road? We all know that it is human nature to take kindness for weakness but to do so for emotional gain must be a new low surely? Are we now at a point where material gain is not enough and we must now try and crush other peoples spirits or act in a grandiose way above our fellow man to feel better about ourselves?

What I can only predict and I am sure I will see a lot more of in the future is a greater distance between those who help for no reason or gain and those who abuse such help. There is an economy of scale with these matters meaning there are far more people who need help than there are helpers.

Those of us who are exploring our own sense of self are able to use the internal dialogue to reach out to the right type of help. Some will use the help of a guru of sort who must be good because I am spending money on their services. Others, will use certified practitioners to “off load” whatever ails them but if your moral compass is off course then you will interpret the help you receive incorrectly and feel that to raise yourself up you must do so on the shoulders of other. The problem with that. The shoulders you stand on will tire of your abuse.

In this fast acting Internet world it is very easy to react without thinking as long as you realise that the same thing will happen to you and it will not be the easiest of situations to deal with if you are unable to have the right internal conversation first.

The Festival Diary – it’s emotional

So onward the festival weekend went and with no screening at the Southbank it was once again off to Piccadilly to harvest the best that Raindance can offer. Luckily, due to a little festival burn out I had decided to take the easy route and commune with other wary soul journeying through the desert of creative thought.
So after a quick visit to the Raindance cafe it was back to the cinema to see ‘Hinterland’, a slow burning road movie it which not a lot happens but says more than most movies about our relationships and how they sometimes “devolve” over time. It has a real charm about it which makes the end note of the movie far more touching than a lot of movies which try to force an emotional response on you.
After another long gap the movie ‘Cesar Chavez’ dealt out a history lesson on the civil rights leader who changed the way in which migrant workers were paid and treated. It has some stand out moments but in the main the story is told in quite a straight forward fashion considering the stella cast assembled which goes to prove that, although this was not a bad movie, A big name cast does not guarantee a big emotional experience.
And talking of emotion the last film I saw on Saturday was meant to be shown as part of the Raindance MA short film program. ‘Beyond The Cage’ tells the story of two MMA fighters Alex Reid and Tony Giles as they prepare to fight each other in a match. The impression I had of the sport and of the individuals involved were shattered into pieces as they explained their prep method but also their highly emotional reason for their drive towards fighting. Tony spoke in a mini Q&A after and I really get now how personal struggle can work for and at time against you but his drive and determination plus his endless support he feel from his son to do better has left a deep emotional crater that will be hard to fill for a long time.
Sunday mornings shorts program offered some light and shade with the stand out film ‘Mr Invisible’ a bench mark of things to come from the film making team.
The feature ‘Fourever’ showed the darker side of long term friendships (a theme that has ran through the festival on and off screen as of late) with the main protagonist tricking his friends into a home party situation with disastrous consequences. A very slow starting moving at first and a technically difficult film to watch it eventually fumbled its way to some very “ah-ha!” moments later on down the line. Then after more networking and my second hot meal of the festival I took in the music documentary ‘Take Me To The River’ which open our eyes to the joy and pain of the Memphis music scene and it’s bi-directional effects on the wider community. A gala screening packaged with a Gig at the 100 Club made the night worth the headache the next day.

Bouncing back to the BFI on the Southbank Monday morning and the morning screening of ‘Kelly & Cal’ show the more surreal way in which love and infatuation knows no bounds. Even if the one of the would be lovers are physical bound through disability the story still wrapped us in a realistic but cute version of suburban hell.
Meanwhile after a quick Raindance cafe pitstop I sat through the UK Funds talk which still had some supprises even for me. The comedy ‘Down Dog’ with Nick Moran told the story of a man wrongly told he has a year to live who decides to try and turn his life around and reconnect with his son. Funny. Not laugh out loud funny in my view but the kind of comedy that I am sure Sky TV will lap up.
After a very short breather I was invited to the screening of the new Richwater film ‘We Still Kill The Old Way’, a comically at time dark tale of revenge and urban gangland style warfare with the older generation taking on a careless youth gang. For me it was a welcome break from the claustrophobia a festival environment can be. Also. They ran out of space at the ‘Boozin N Smoozin’ event so at least I was left completely out in the cold. Not that anyone would purposeful do such a thing……would they?

To round off this diary entry quickly both screening at BFI, ‘Queen and Country’ as well as ‘NAS -Time Is iLLmatic’ we’re both fresh and worthy of the bouncing around between the Sourhback and Piccadilly.
At Raindance and my film choices were not going well. Both ‘The Ninth Cloud’ with Michael Madsen and the later screening from Sadie Frost ‘Buttercup Bill’ were too out there for words. Luckily the Gala screening of the Manchester United mockumentary ‘United We Fall’ round the day off with at least one hit on planet Raindance.

It has been a weird few days during this festival time as the highs and lows of people energy can draw blood if we are not careful. Film can be a very emotional medium both on screen and especially off screen…..if you let it.

The Festival Diary – it’s all a blur.

For me it’s that time of year where I step away from the overcooked laptop and see what daylight looks like. With the BFI industry screenings (which I can’t talk about, even though I have just mentioned it) and The 22nd Raindance Film Festival plus The London Film Festival bring up the rear it is going to a busy 4 weeks for sure.

So after a couple of days enjoying the calm that is The BFI NFT scenes on the southbank I readied myself for the un-plannable but for me, over planned Raindance Festival.
Dubbed by me as the only festival my wife lets me go to Raindance is not just about cramming In as many films in a day as humanly possible despite my best efforts but it is about meeting with like minded people who you can connect with on one level or another.

The opening gala which featured the film ‘I Origins’, a film I was planning to see when released in the UK, gave us the promise of the festival. That promise being an open window into films you would normally not get a chance to see either for a long time or not at all.

The after party was a chance to let off some steam, catch up with your festival crew and network with what will be the new festival buddies. As well as that the Roland Gift set blew my sock off. He sang and performed like the true gift he is.

With only four hours sleep to my name the first full day of the festival gave me my first film ‘The Word’ from Poland (showing again on Sunday 28th Sept – 6:00pm). A story of teen angst and murder it demonstrates once again that Poland do not skimp on quality. The second film of my day was ‘The Beat Beneath My Feet’ with Luke Perry staring. A mix of musical and drama was executed in an original fashion (showing again Sunday 4th Oct) made me sit up and listen not only to the songs but the message as a few difficult subject was wrapped in an inventive but popular format.
Last of that day was the ‘Children Of the Sun’ gala screening. A loving, dreamy tone poem wraps this drama about a family trying to escape the local mafia. The after show drinks helped to wake me from the shockingly airy way the conclusion was played out.

Friday morning and after taking in The film ’71’ at BFI I proceeded to head back to the festival to see ‘Gregor’ which contains an “N word” joke which spent way too much time to dig itself out of a hole. Luckily I had a get out clause with the Raindance MA student screenings which showed three short but could not show the forth due to a technical error. With luck it gave us a chance to speak to all of the filmmakers and a few star in the form of MMA fighters including Alex Reed. I can truly say my perception of the sport and the sportsmen involved has change for the positive and especially catching up with one of the fighters (Chi) I now have a new sport to follow.
After a brief munchy I had the pleasure of meeting up with my fest buddies and catching the screening of ‘Show Pieces’ short film trilogy. This Alan Moore/Mitch Jenkins collaborative work deals with the regret and guilt (yeah I said it) of passing into the afterlife. As well as this superb eye opening thriller hitting me with shock and humour in equal measure the Q&A afterwards with Alan and crew was just as irreverent.

I feel uplifted and tired. And it is only a week into the festival and screenings. I look forward to more energy giving cinema over the coming weeks. Also, if you are reading this in time for the Raindance Film Festival my motto is simple. Book, get passes……Go!!

Raindance has begun…

So tonight sees the opening gala of the 22nd Raindance Film Festival. I will be there (in body at least with only 4 hours sleep in my bones) enjoying 10 days of eye opening and awe inspiring movies short and tall.
I will try and maintain a daily short report but for now, I hope to see you there.

Post holiday truths – How to use your ‘stop and think’ time.

Post holiday truths – How to use your ‘stop and think’ time.

Writing this on the plane back from the yearly family getaway I was struck this year by how calm I have become over the 10-day period. Somehow I don’t think my favorite drink had anything to do with it.

No, it was much deeper than that. This year I had decided long before we traveled that I would have some ‘stop-and-think’ time. It was time to take stock of everything but not to stress too much about an action plan when I got home.

The more I ‘stopped’ the less I was thinking and I found that, without much work on my part, answers and ideas came, not more frequently but more creatively, free from any time constraints. I feel, for me, that the more I try to think my way out of any situation the more false urgency arises about what I need to do and when it needs to be done. Yes, there are things we need to do and organize in a timely fashion but if you do not have a viable and creative plan of action the circle of failure you are trying to escape will become larger and larger, increasing the time it takes to finish your task.

“Just do it!” is great if you are a person who enjoys risk without planning but I would like to add another soundbyte-ready slogan. “Just stop it!”

Also “Just think it!” could work as well at the same time.

The one mistake I will not make is to come back from holiday assuming that I have all the answers. The one thing I will assume is that I have a new set of questions ready for a number of scenarios and challenges.

To stop, or not to stop? That is the question. When do we get the time? That is simple. One less Facebook post. One less soap episode. One less gossip-filled telephone conversation. One less over-priced coffee and the time spent queuing for it and believe me you will have the time (and a little more money in your pocket if you like coffee as much as I do). Just stop. And just stop long enough to think.

Also keep a notepad handy. You will be surprised at how much a good brain clear-out can do for your week.

You don’t have to go on holiday to do this either. If you have a lot going on and none of it is working particularly well then you do have the time to stop. A lack of success in any area is normally accompanied by long periods of nothing and nowhere moments. If everything is working out just fine for you then congratulations! You are officially too busy for any problems because your life is working exactly the way you want it to. Go have a drink. Or maybe not – as it may hinder your progress!

I am constantly reminded that thoughts are things and that even when they look as if they have not produced a physical result, there is some physicality to what those thoughts do. Even if it is just to stop you in your tracks with fear or some other useless or incorrectly used emotion.

How will I track my personal progress and growth with my newfound open plan approach? I will track it with how happy I am with the results or even lack of results I obtain. I say happy with the lack of results because sometimes, letting a moment or opportunity pass you by maybe exactly what you need to do.

I know what you are thinking – Does it matter if I do?

We spend an awful long time thinking about how we are perceived by others. How do I look today? Did I say something wrong? What if they don’t like me? So on and so on. The list seems endless.

What if you knew the answers? Would you feel better armed with the truth?

The trouble we face is that in real terms amongst all of your peer groups, trusted or not, the truth is in extremely short supply and when you are faced with it the effects can either be liberating or devastating.

Being aware of yourself is the best way to assume what others think of you but this has to be done with a large degree of balance. Over-estimating any personal flaws will deflate you to a point where change (if needed) is hard and under-estimating means that you may miss out on changing a behaviour which will, ultimately, help you improve not for others but for yourself. A perfect example of how you can over- or under-estimate your behaviour is when you meet any of your personal heroes. I was once warned to take care which of your heroes you meet. Some may fall short of your own personal expectations.

I say take care which of your heroes you meet because at the 2013 BVE expo I had the opportunity to meet one of my creative heroes who shall remain nameless. Prior to meeting him I’d built a mental picture of how I imagined that person to be and that picture was of a kind and sensitive person. Nothing could have been further from the truth. When we met he came across as suspicious, awkward and, to be harsh, soulless. This was in stark contrast to the benevolent image of them in my mind. I understand they had limited time but there are ways and means to extricate yourself from any meeting or conversation and as an older person they should have known this. I see this pattern again and again and wonder if it is me or my projected perception of myself based on the behaviour of others. And then I had a revelation. I was not mapping my own behaviour; I was actually mapping the behaviour of others.

Using the term “all human behaviour mapped” it can be said that through the thousand of years of written human history conclusions can be made as well as recommendations. It is the recommendations where the best chance of any improvement should be found. But how to choose which recommendations are suitable for you?

As you will hear me say time and time again on this blog I can only draw from my own experiences and I have been known to be wrong but strangely very rarely. What I will say is that most of us presume and judge but very few of us analyze and question our own thoughts. One way to analyse is to stop, move away from the phone, TV, mobile device or computer right immediately, remove all distractions and think independently (even if you are reading this blog – give yourself a moment).

Allow the space in your head to be filled with whatever social and relationship issues, good or bad, you want to think about right now.

Sometimes we may feel that the world around us is not working towards our best interests but does this matter if it is or not? What matters is this. Are you working towards your best interests?

Once we all learn to analyse ourselves in a non-judgmental and targeted way, removing conclusions we may have about ourselves that do not tally with the way we feel during our high moments of joy and usefulness, maybe, just maybe, we can see beyond the presumptions.

Hello. Time we had words, don’t you think?

Hello and welcome to the blog. Well, why blog and why now. I think now is as good a time as any. There are a lot of stored up opinions and stories for me to tell. Why blog? Well they do say that if you want to hide the truth put it in writing.

When it comes to matters relating to self-improvement and if the stories used to highlight such subjects involving others, names will be changed to protect to innocent but the intention will always be the same. To express feelings about an event in my own and others lives, trying to conclude or find solutions (if any) to these situations.

I will also be reporting from events I visit, any other things that interest me in the world of media, technology and life whilst maybe opening a small window into what and where I am physically and spiritually.

As always I am usually open to debate about most subjects but I will strongly ignore abuse and poor behavior so you have been warned. Let’s make sure that if you want this to be a two way street, make sure you send back your best self and not your oppressed self. Be open but mindful in your comments.

Most of all let us all learn and have fun together. Yes I will be dealing with some very “hard to deal with” subjects as well as the light hearted stuff we all need but it is with hope that we gain some insight into how we tick and learn about the stuff that will inspire us to tick for just a little longer.

So again welcome. Come back every now and then to say hello and read some of my news and home brew science. And remember….it’s all connected. I will try to be as regular as possible but we all become distracted……or do we?