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Showing posts with the label Self-Improvement

Returning To The Office: A Parent Perspective

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"Lord Sugar will see me now." Exciting news, I went back to the office! It's one day. But technically, I'm back, and it feels great. The day arrived, where Dad would battle henceforth and mingle in the city. It took my youngest son by surprise. Why was dad leaving the house? Are we going to war? Has mum kicked him out? No dear boy, this is how the world works! He was just eighteen-months, in March 2020, when we entered lockdown. There's a "lost" generation who don't understand pre-pandemic protocols, or ever seeing their fathers in suits. But  "the times they are a-changin'" (Dylan, 1964) . Some parents are tormented by the "return to office" dilemma. Routines and childcare arrangements may change. But frankly, I'm happy and this is why. The Commuting Experience Thumbs-up to commuting! Strangely, I enjoy my commute. To some, commuting feels unnecessary or unproductive. Or time that could be used better. But would you ever

Why I'm Ditching Amazon Prime

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Alexa, can I cancel Amazon? Recently I cancelled my Amazon subscriptions.  Amazon Prime went first, which was costing me £79.99 a year ($110). It's a premium service, offering next-day delivery and some streamed services. I also cancelled Amazon Music, their Spotify equivalent. This was £9.99 a month ($13). I guess I had an epiphany. I was struggling to find value, and without value, what is the point? Cancelling them saves me £200 a year ($270). It's your call, but consider your relationship with Amazon. What value are you getting? Is it laziness? Are you consuming too much? Would you miss it, if it went? Read on and I'll provide a bit more insight. Amazon Prime = Too Much Consumption Consumption is fine, in areas of necessity. But too often, we overconsume. Amazon make it too convenient and easy. Goods are cheap, particularly on sale days and "Black Friday" events. But Amazon aren't always cheapest. I prefer to support local business, in these post-pandemic

Cycling 52 Miles: London To Southend

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We are the champions, my friend. Recently I had the pleasure of cycling 52 miles, from  London to Southend. I say "pleasure" in the loosest sense. My ass felt so sore, I walked like John Wayne for two days. The whole event was a random occurrence. A  friend was planning to complete the circuit with his wife.  Unfortunately she pulled-out with injury, so he asked me if I fancied it (the bike ride, not his wife).  Without thinking, I agreed. I'm moderately fit, how tough could it be? I guess with hindsight, I jumped into it too eagerly. I didn't want to bottle it, and let down a friend. I resumed cycling, just last year.  Back then, my focus was to remain fit and fend-off the "dadbod".  If you've read my ' Cycling: Embracing The Bike, Tour de Dad ' post, you'll know my story.   My longest cycle was  20 miles; well short of 52 miles! It probably  screamed "mid-life" crisis. My wife certainly thought so. The good news is, I survived and

Showing Compassion, In A Scary World

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September 11th, 2001. A serious post today. Yesterday marked twenty-years since the 9/11 attacks. Thousands of innocents died that day. Imagine the family impact? Many mothers and fathers, did not return to their loved-ones. The world suddenly seemed cruel and brutal. Back then I was much younger. It was shocking and still I can't process it. It didn't make sense. For my generation, it felt like a significant period in time. Much like the JFK assignation or the moon landing, you remember where you were. Years on, as a parent and family man, I view it with further sadness. A generation of children were left without a parent, and are now adults themselves. For twenty-years, they have functioned through grief. Time doesn't heal everything. Their loss must feel as real today, as it did back then. Showing Compassion Sadly terrorist attacks still occur, all over the world.   And the world feels divisive, and in conflict. Terror attacks, wars, pandemics and climate change, only ra

5 Tips To Work From Home, And Parent

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Home-working, what a thrill, what a Buzz! The children returned to school this week, but there were no changes for dad. It's now eighteen-months, since I joined the 'working from home' gang. School closures, lockdowns, and Joe Wicks workouts, seem a distant memory. The world is (supposedly) returning to normal, but not for me. Imagine working from home for so long, ABBA have reformed, and put out new songs! In some respects I'm lucky. Being at home affords me time with the kids, and that's a blessing. For now, there's no alternative option. But I'm not fully onboard. I miss the office life, personal space and even the commute. Because, by default, I'm an introverted lone soul. Imagine working from home for so long, ABBA have reformed, and put out new songs! That said, I'm making the best of this situation. With planning, structure and boundaries; you can operate as worker and parent. So this is how I do it, for what it's worth. 1. Create A Dedica

Stay Young, And Invincible

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"Stop it dad! You're 40!" Don't get old, never get old! Always, maintain a youthful approach to life. Impart your wisdom, but stay young. Be mature, be adult, but never lose a sense of fun or adventure. It's a common trap, as we become adults (or parents). The aging body, transcends into an aging mind.  That's what I admire about kids. They attack life with youthful exuberance.  Life is there to be attacked with fun and purpose. Live by this philosophy. Be the cool mum, dad, uncle, aunt, etc. Don't get old, never get old! Don't Become Boring Life places expectations on us. Society has a template for adults, and we foolishly play along.  Society has a template for adults and we foolishly play along.  Too many people, approach adult life in 'mundane mode'. Sadly, for many, our best personal qualities disappear. I say screw the rules. Stay young of heart, and stick two fingers up to convention.  Maintaining A Youthful Mindset I read a book recentl

Parent Fitness, 7 Principles of Healthy Living

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You've got this dad! I just read a book called ' Total Fitness After 40 ' by Nick Swettenham. It blew my mind. It covers the seven principles of health. I was prime clickbait. A forty-year old dad, overcoming injury. My injury occurred in May, after I cracked a rib. During the recovery, I pondered my mortality. Where can I improve? What can I do better? Parent life is exhausting. Who doesn't what more energy?  I realised there were was room for improvement. Health extends beyond nutrition and exercise. As you age, you must cover all aspects of body health. Sadly, too many don't! Forty seems to be that age, where the excuses creep in. Parent life is busy, but find time to maintain yourself. Don't fall apart, sort it out! This is serious business, so I won't be cracking many jokes or ribs! Staying Healthy, As We Age I believe the impacts of aging are overstated. For men, our testosterone depletes a little, but we can still gain strength and muscle. It may be h

How To Make 'Dad' Friends

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Social Dad, up for a beer! Recently I've been trying to obtain 'dad' friends. That's right, what a loner! I have friends, but I don't have many 'dad' friends. As such, it can become difficult to relate to your friends. It's nobody's fault, friendships don't stay perfectly in sync. Today I discuss parenting awkwardness. How I overcame it, to win parent acceptance and dad friends. The journey began in September, when my son started school. I work from home, so school-runs are my job.  Soon I was surrounded by cliquey mums in the playground, sharing feminine anecdotes. "Samantha, can you make Zumba on Friday? You can? Oh brilliant!".  The school playground is a lonely place for dads. In fairness, I attracted the odd smile. Half-smiles, not the real McCoy. The type reserved for neighbours and strangers.  Perhaps in the early days, I exuded weirdo vibes? Who knows. But slowly I rescued the situation. This is my journey from shrinking violet

Why I Started A Blog, Six Months On

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Joe (Dad) Bloggs. Happy blogger-versary, six months in! Blogging works for me. I'm too busy for podcasts and YouTube, they take effort. It's a passive hobby, some fun, nothing more.  Not everything works in blog world. I'm learning that. Some posts hit, some do not. If you are reading this, I suspect you have some interest in me. Thanks for reading! Aside from last month, I've been consistent. I post weekly, no pressure. Sometimes it resonates, sometimes it doesn't. That's ok. I just get it done. Why do I blog? Let me take you on a journey. Why I Started Blogging When I graduated (in 2019), I stopped writing. I got lazy. When you study, you write continuously. In my final year, my prose were tight. Words flowed  like Angela Lansbury on Amphetamines ( click here, if you don't get that reference ) . Then I graduated, and the writing stopped .  Without deadlines and dissertations, the motivation went. If there's no incentive to write, you don't write! T

Dealing With Slumps and Regaining Motivation

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Demotivated dad! I seem to be stuck in slumps-ville. Slumps are destructive little buggers. They creep up on you, and before you know it, you aren't attacking life with the same zest. I blame my recent injury for this decline. A number of weeks back, I cracked my right rib, getting out the bath, dumbass. It was clumsy and stupid.  Weeks of soreness followed, on prescription painkillers. Exercise took a back seat, as I recovered. Ribs take around 6-8 weeks to heel, so I'm waiting it out. I feel like a wounded animal. A dad losing his edge. Fitness and health levels have declined. Never underestimate the importance of a healthy life.  Low motivation becomes a cancer. It can damage all parts of life. Now it's time to snap out and stop feeling sorry for myself.   Passions like music, reading, learning, blogging and fitness are taking a backseat. It's time to reset, recalibrate and get things going! Calibrating Body and Mind Slumps normally have a trigger. Low motivation doe

Broken Hearts and Broken Bones

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Breaking Dad, Breaking Bones. Nothing like a bit of physical and mental pain. First my wife's grandfather passed away unexpectedly, which was really sad.  I then went and cracked my rib, ouch. More on this later, but my sides are sore and I'm on prescription pain killers! I try to remain upbeat, when life throws out these challenges. Finding the motivation to write blog posts, becomes tougher.  But that's life, full of unpredictability. The route out of every hole, is always up.   Dealing With Loss Her grandad Robin was a fabulous guy. He could talk forever, but he had the stories. That's the tragic part of loss. You never get to hear their stories, in their words, from their perspective, again. You never get to hear their stories, in their words, from their perspective, again. All loss is tough, but unexpected loss is worse. You aren't prepared for it, and then it comes. But you always have the memories. There's a famous scene in Blade Runner, when Rutger Hauer

Five Podcasts For Dads & Podfathers

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Are you a Podfather? Make no mistake, podcasts are big business. Everyone is listening to podcasts (it seems), it's a growth area. Big media corporations have spotted the trend. Spotify for example, have spent fortunes buying podcast content. The likes of Joe Rogan, Michelle Obama and Dax Shepard have all joined the stream giant. All tastes are catered for in podcast land. It's niche after niche. We even have podcasts about podcasts.  Today I'll discuss the phenomenon and share my favourite 'Dad' podcasts. Brief History of Podcasts Let me take you on a journey. I've been listening to podcasts since 2004, welcome to the party. In 2004, my favourite podcast was the 'Daily Source Code'. It was presented by former MTV presenter 'Adam Curry'. His podcast was slick and ground-breaking at the time. He revolutionised podcasting, earning the title 'Podfather'. He still podcasts today, on the satirical show ' No Agenda '. Curry is a podcast

Cycling: Embracing The Bike, Tour de Dad

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I like to ride my bicycle. Cycling has enjoyed a surge in popularity of late. According to sources, the pandemic generated an additional £1bn of UK bike sale s  (Forbes, 2021). What the Wiggins is going on? Bike rides were a large part of my youth. Back then, I had the freedom to roam and explore. I feel for kids, who've lost this freeness and adventure. Social media connected us, then convinced parents that the world was unsafe. You can't fart without it hitting Twitter. Plenty of my friendships were cemented over bike rides. Think of the movie 'Stand By Me', on bikes, with less Corey Feldman and corpses. Until last year, I hadn't rode for twenty years. Now I'm back in the saddle, making up for lost time. This post is about my journey back into cycling.  Getting Into Bikes Again   So since shifting lockdown pounds, I have been maintaining my fitness. As it happened, my 40th year came at the right time. The good wife treated me to a hybrid bike, which was not ch

Studying For A Degree, With A Family

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University challenge! Unlike many, I didn't go to university after school. Armed with average grades, I concluded that I lacked brains. Plenty of intelligent people drop-out of university, what chance would I have? Why demonstrate my stupidity on a grandiose scale? So I dismissed the pipe-dream and moved on.  As it turned out, this was rubbish. I was stupid, but only for doubting myself. Learning is a long-game and nobody is defined by poor grades, or achievements in school.  I recall one teacher describing me as a "constant daydreamer". That part was correct, I dreamt of not being in his class. Naturally I felt pigeon holed as a "non-academic". As I progressed through my twenties and early thirties, I could not shake the feeling. I had "unfinished business" in academia and something to prove. So in 2014, I had a mad moment and enrolled for a degree programme. Five years later, aged 38, I graduated with a BA (Hons) in Business & Management, at the

DIY Projects: Getting Creative and Making Stuff

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This is not a drill. Time for a bit of "show and tell". In this post I share some of my DIY projects and creative moments.  I love to create, repurpose and upcycle things. My wife is cut from similar cloth, and together we embrace it. Our house is full of creative pieces and practical DIY projects. I suppose we are habitually built this way! The purpose of this post is to throw out some ideas and get you thinking. The Internet is a fine place for creative inspiration, such as sites like Pinterest and Etsy. Creativity exists in us all, it just needs coercing out. How To Get Creative Many people claim they lack creativity, but I don't buy it. Dismissing your creativity, is falsely declaring you don't possess ideas. We all have ideas and we all see opportunity. Us creative types just act on it and follow it through.  Dismissing your creativity, is falsely declaring you don't possess ideas.  Ideas should not remain ideas, get them out and share with the world. I love

Learning Guitar: How And Why You Should

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We rock tonight! I have played guitar for years and once again, my six-stringed friend is keeping me sane. Studies have shown that playing instruments can prevent diseases like Alzheimer's, by boosting cognitive abilities. Guitar is effectively brain training, and a way to sharpen your reflexes. Progressing through the early phases of learning is hugely enjoyable. Nobody turns into Jimi Hendrix over night (or ever), but with consistency, a decent standard is possible in six months. As hobbies go, it doesn't have to be pricey. I own a few expensive guitars, but there are brilliant guitars under £200 ($275). If that's too much, explore the second-hand market where bargains are plentiful. Mental Health Benefits My early twenties were perhaps the more challenging moments of my life. My family had moved back to Essex and I felt a little lost in the world. I was stumbling through temporary jobs, not knowing what I wanted from life and lacking motivation. This period lasted a coup