Take it outside

Hi – how are you? Did you have a good Christmas, a happy new year? I hope so. I’ve not been around to ask you these questions because of my determination to take a proper break from work. I haven’t written for well over two weeks and though putting the tools down felt odd at first, I soon relaxed into things. Until my Dad bought me a DeWalt drill for Christmas and that led me to toolish adventures of different kinds. More of that another day. Perhaps.

I went for a run with Carole on Friday morning. She runs often and I’ve not done so since leaving school. When I was at school I was one of the saddos who volunteered to do cross country running. Yep – I did it by choice, I enjoyed the grinding muddy trudgery enormously.

Why did I agree to this run on Friday? Well I’ve learned not to say no to Carole 😉 and I thought doing something out of the ordinary would help me get my getting ready for work head on. And those of you who’ve been around here a while will know I’ve done some fairly serious cycling before now. Riding up huge French mountains, 100 mile time trials, that kind of thing. After a couple of nasty moments on my bike a couple of years ago I’ve fallen out of love with cycling somewhat. I’d like to get back, so this short run is the beginning of a return to some fitness. I’ll set me a few small goals and let’s see how I get on – more of that down the road.

What struck me most about this short run was the simple beauty of being outside. OK my shortness of breath bothered me too sometimes, but simply being outdoors is fabulous. The picture above is taken at my outdoor gym. I confess I joined a regular gym once. I hated it. Smelly, impersonal, stuffed with toned and buffed showoffs – I’m never going back.

Did you make any new year resolutions? I hope not – new year resolutions suck. And if you are thinking that a healthy body makes a great double act with a healthy mind then I wish you well. And please – take it outside. Gyms suck your enjoyment and your soul and dump them somewhere unspeakably damp, smelly and horrible.

How did I get on yesterday? Well I made it all the way (3.6 kilometres) without stopping, Carole tells me I did pretty good and that will do for me. Thanks for the encouragement Carole. Hello fitness, I can see you way off there in the distance and I’m coming to get you.

Update: Hat tip to Mervyn Dinnen for pointing out this article in the Telegraph about gym rage.

Update: Hat tip to Jorgen Sundberg from Link Humans for pointing out this article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s a backhanded list of reasons to help get the best out of the gym, I like these two observations:

“Fancy gyms can be seductive, but once you get past the modern couches and fresh flowers and the water with lemon slices, you’re basically paying for a boutique hotel with B.O.

If you’re at the point where you’ve bought biking shoes for the spinning class, you may as well go ahead and buy an actual bike. It’s way more fun and it doesn’t make you listen to C+C Music Factory.”

I Love it When a Plan Comes Together

The A Team

Truth be told I did not plan everything that I’m about to tell you, but enough was planned to warrant trotting out the famous A Team saying. The past week has been overwhelmingly excellent.

It exploded into life last Friday as Ailsa, Jose and I sat on the 12.06 train as it slid out of Paddington. The prosecco cork popped and we were on our way to a camping weekend near Croyde to which we and many others had been invited through connections made on Twitter. The camp was a blast and I suggest you read Mel’s blog post about how she came to be involved.

Everyone who went contributed to the fun, the food and the fooling about – it felt like a real community gathering. Lots of high quality goings on happened and I want to tell you about two things which people said to me about me that were truly uplifting. I’m not going to mention names but I’m so motivated by these two things I can’t resist sharing them.

On the Friday evening I got my guitar out and tuned it then played for a while. I just fiddled with a few tunes then someone stuck an Ipod on so I stashed the guitar. I lack confidence at times and this was one of those times. The following day one of my fellow campers referred to my playing the night before and he used the word magical. I’m grinning as I type. His feedback was magical and helped motivate me to lead a good 90 minute singalong later that evening.

Shortly after camp closed I dropped a line to a fellow camper to say thanks for the fun, great to meet you and all that. I got a lovely reply:

It was lovely to meet you and I found your willingness to just have a go and learn new skills quite inspirational!

This was in part a reference to my latest experiment where I’m teaching myself how to paint. These two moments stood out for me in an aready outstanding weekend.

On Monday I had a bit of a whinge about a poor customer experience. What’s so excellent about that? The company involved picked up on it via Twitter and engaged and went above and beyond the call of duty to fix things. As a direct result they now have a happy customer, me, at least one more new customer, and hopefully a bunch of curious people keen to find out more about them. Read all about it here. Well done Naked Wine.

On Tuesday my laptop went pop. What’s so excellent about that? Well not much but a lack of readily available technology got me talking on the phone with folks and scribbling instead of typing. It’s easy to forget the art of conversation and writing, this minor bump in the road steered me in enjoyable directions (though if you’re reading this mister repair dude I’d really like it back soon, thanks).

On Wednesday I met Rob for lunch. We had a great conversation that focussed largely on how to grow my business. It was fabulous to get such constructive, useful straight talking from someone I know and respect. Cheers Rob, you are a super star.

On Thursday Alex sent me a box of brownies. Delicious chocolate brownies. What a fabulous surprise. Go here, buy some, enjoy. Later that day I collected Keira from school which is always a real pleasure. We concluded our time together that evening with a storming game of Super Mario Bros on the Wii – what a laugh!

Today is Friday. I’m heading into town to meet Flora for lunch. Trust me that is an exciting and motivating treat in itself. Then, after lunch I’m off to Never Records to take part in the Merge Festival. I’m going to record the wonderful Human Resource and it wil be pressed onto vinyl. No need to panic about me storming the charts there will only be two copies pressed. One for me, one for Never Records. I am superexcitednervous about this – I hope it will be enormous fun.

So there you have it. A somewhat indulgent post about a somewhat excellent week. All made possible through high quality relationships and practice. The more we practice the luckier we get folks. Have a stunning weekend, I couldn’t have done this without you.

What is the point of us living?

Keira and I were returning from a fun day out late yesterday afternoon. Bowling had been followed by air hockey, then lunch, then the best seats in the house to see Mr Popper’s Penguins. We were choosing penguin names for each other. Keira decided she would be Captain, I would be Stinky, and I thought Nimrod suited Carole well. Then out of the blue Keira asked “What is the point of us living?” “That’s an interesting question. Why did you ask it and what do you think the answer is?” I replied. “Oh, I don’t know…” said Keira, and the conversation moved on. Quite a question eh?

On arriving home we posed the question on Twitter. Here’s how the dialogue unfolded:

@intheseheels: “to keep the earth turning. Everything on the planet has a role to play. Even the smallest things. Keira’s is obviously to be cute & ask hard questions”

@stirthesource replied: “wow! BIG question – I’d be curious to know what K thinks if she was asked. not deflection, just love the thoughts our kids have”. Then a short while later came: “after deflection, comes reflection. My take ~ to love, learn, experience & shift certain things consciously & unconsciously”

@wedge suggested: “To discover and create our own point to life”.

@phynbarr reflected that: “we’ve all asked that at some point or another” and @changecontinuum had the temerity to suggest: “isn’t that your job Mr Shaw? If you get stuck I suppose @chapmanbear might know…” We did ask Chapman Bear but his answer was something about poo, we think he misunderstood the question.

@allinsona offered some reassurance: “both ours asked this when 11 ish. Tried meaningful replies, love, zest and laughter etc. Best answer is the long game though.” before kindly going on to add: “and I suspect you are not so bad at that, and by the long game I mean, the by example approach :)”

News of last night’s utter vandalism on the streets of London was beginning to seep through and so for Twitter, this conversation closed. I think we gained useful insight from it. Just before bedtime I asked Keira her question again, this time she replied “to have fun”. “Is that all?” I asked, “yes, that is all” came the response. I thought back to our earlier air hockey game in which Keira trounced me 7 goals to 2. And I remember Keira’s happy looking face and all the laughter we shared.

Having fun, that’s what it’s all about alright.