Monthly Archives: June 2014

Making time for what is important

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least” (Johann Wolfgang van Goethe)

I have a mantra in life. That is we make times for the things are important to us. I too much hear people say how they haven’t got time for people and tasks they enjoy, and my response is always the same. Our lives are about priorities and we make time for things that we enjoy that is the nature of the beast. If we don’t make time for things that we enjoy and make us happy well we should change our priorities.

Time is our most valuable and finite resource, who we give it to is our greatest gift.

This reminds me of my father, when I was young he used to work massive amounts of overtime to ensure his family lived the best life they possibly good. We always had holidays, we always had presents at birthdays and Christmas and we always had basically whatever we wanted. Whether this lead to two very spoilt kids is a question for another day.

However one of the most memorable moments of my life that is stuck in my head is the time just before I was due to emigrate to Australia. I remember I sat in a pub with my father and mother, and my dad said to me, I wish I’d spent more time with you when you growing up, I missed so much of your childhood because I was always working. That was and still is quite an emotional moment for me and a great driver in my life to not repeat that mistake with the people who are close to me.

I suppose you prioritise on what makes you happy in life but also need to be mindful of what will make you happy in the future. In the short term we all think going to certain events or heading out on rainy evenings is painful, but I think there is a much longer game to be played there. Although the thought of these things maybe painful, in my experience once I’m there I enjoy them and these events maybe ways to cement friendships or build relationships with people I’ve never met.

The point is sometimes our thinking is so short term and I guess humans are programmed to think that way. The great economist John Maynard Keynes famously said “In the long run we’re all dead”. But do we really know what damage we’re doing with our short term focus?

Don’t get me wrong, I agree we should live every day as though it is our last and after my incredibly lucky escape on a Victorian road nearly 14 years ago, where a brake adjuster pierced the windscreen of a car I was in and missed me by inches, my whole outlook on life changed and I still to this day wake up every morning with an optimistic outlook to my day ahead knowing there was a chance I may not even be here.

I see beauty I would never have seen before that event. It really is everywhere I look I just need to open my eyes to it. The sunrise, the sunset, people laughing, friends, scenery, the food I love, beer, a shop I’ve never been to before, creating something from nothing, a chance encounter with a stranger or achieving things I didn’t think were possible.

But I don’t necessarily think they are conflicting ideals. The live everyday like your last mantra can be balanced by considering the legacy you want to leave.

We should all be concerned about our legacy, because it comes from the way we live our lives. What do I want my legacy to be? I want it to be about positiveness, integrity, being happy with the actions I’ve taken over my life, not repeating mistakes, kindness, not walking on people, not letting people down and doing what I think is right.

All of that is a lifetime’s work though and something I need to continue to build on.

IJS 24/06/2014

The Quiet Mind

I have a sonnet on my desk at both work and at home. It is a reminder in the turbulent times about what’s important and how we should walk peacefully through this world appreciating what we have.

The story of how I found the sonnet is that I was an avid watcher of The Tudors, the dramatization of Henry VIII’s life. In one of the episodes the Earl of Surrey, Henry Howard is translating a sonnet to English. The first few lines are read and they really resonated with me. After the programme I searched for the sonnet and found the whole version which is an incredible piece. Only four verses long, but the rhyming and the rhythm of the whole piece just creates such a flow whilst delivering such an important message.

To me it’s about walking through this world contented leaving my own footprint whilst being happy with the actions I’ve taken and how I’ve gained what I have. The great thing about words though is they mean so many things to different people.

As I read, I feel the peace the sonnet talks about. It sort of puts things in perspective for me. Its incredible to think a bit of poetry from the 1500s is still as relevant today as it was then.

On to the sonnet itself, I hope you enjoy:

My friend, the things that do attain
The happy life be these, I find:
The riches left, not got with pain;
The fruitful ground; the quiet mind;

The equal friend; no grudge; no strife;
No charge of rule, nor governance;
Without disease, the healthy life;
The household of continuance;

The mean diet, no dainty fare;
Wisdom joined with simpleness;
The night discharged of all care,
Where wine the wit may not oppress:

The faithful wife, without debate;
Such sleeps as may beguile the night;
Content thyself with thine estate,
Neither wish death, nor fear his might.

IJS 17/06/2014


History is a friend of mine, she comes over to my place and we have a good time, but the memories she sometimes brings with her get out of line, get out line. Show me things I don’t wanna see, remind me who I thought I was gonna be, take me places I used to go, a long long time ago. (The Proclaimers, A Long Long Time Ago)

Is there a place for Nostalgia?

Well first maybe I should start with a definition. Nostalgia according to the dictionary is a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past.

I’ve long made a habit in many areas of my life of never looking back and keeping going forward. But tonight I found myself strangely drawn to a bottle of Directors in Dan Murphy’s and although this is almost a comical example I have to ask myself why.

Well firstly you might think, his probably always being drawn to strange bottles of beer in Dan Murphy’s and in the whole you are probably right. I do like to try new things, and beer is very much a passion of mine.

However, I’ve drunk Directors many times in my life with the majority of those being in the UK. To give you a bit of history Directors is named because the beer was originally brewed just for the Director’s of Courage Brewery. It was so popular they had to make in available to the wider audience.

So back to the question, why did I pick it off the shelf?

The answer maybe is Nostalgia. The smells, tastes and sight of that beer evoke memories of times gone by. We tend to view our pasts or times in our past through rose tinted glasses, we tend to imagine we were happier or more carefree than we were. This beer brings back memories of my life in the UK. I vividly remember a time when my father, grandfather and myself all went down the pub at 11 o’clock on a Christmas morning for a beer whilst my mother, grandmother and sister cooked Christmas lunch. I can remember thinking at the time how amazing it was that three generations of my family were drinking together (not really taking into account the three female generations were cooking dinner for us).

I guess I associate this beer with that feeling of pride, happiness and security, that world where I made little or no decisions, lived with my parents and everything appeared taken care of in the world. I associate it with thoughts of my parents and grandparents and Christmases in the snow with lots of presents and lots of relatives dropping in. But we paint those pictures ourselves, I’m sure if I lived through those times again, I’d realise that in fact what I’ve done is jumbled different times into one perfect scene.

I sit here now and can honestly say I wouldn’t change a thing about my life, I love where I live, I love the people who surround me, I love how I’ve evolved over the years to where I am today but sometimes its nice to spend a moment or two reflecting on the old days. Thinking back and smiling at the journey that’s brought me here, the people who’ve passed in and out of my life, the smiles and laughter that echoes inside my head.

Is there a place for Nostalgia?

Yes in those fleeting moments when I’m not looking forward. I found a lovely quote the other day by Carl Bard and I’ll finish with that “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending”



Running as a metaphor for life


I have the above picture on my study wall. A picture to remind me of struggle and however hard things are to never give up. To realise I can achieve anything I set my mind to, if I’m determined enough about it. The picture in question is of me about 20 seconds out from the line at the Melbourne Marathon. The pain and tiredness is etched into my face. People might look at the photo and say why would you put yourself through three and a half hours of pain? My answer would be, you can’t see my face 20 seconds later, the exuberance, the thrill of finishing and smile and sense of achievement that didn’t leave my face my months.

Running is very much a metaphor for life for me. Its about struggle and success, the will to carry on when your have nothing left (or in the words of Rudyard Kipling If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone). The ability to prove people wrong, to turn that negativeness into something so positive.

Running for me crystallises my thoughts, its one of the only times I feel I have complete clarity of thoughts, I see things clearly, I truly feel at one with myself. I realise the things that are important in my life and the things that aren’t.

Running teaches me another important lesson, the race is only against one person, myself. Its a battle against those little voices in our heads, those voices of self doubt that mutter their way throughout our lives. That a huge percentage of the ability to run is mental is in my mind not in doubt.

The final lesson that it teaches me is that the finish line isn’t really the end, its just the start in my need to constantly improve and strive to be better.