A Poem for 2009

This was scribbled in pencil on the first page of an orange spiral-bound notebook discovered at the bottom of a box. Written, I guess, around Christmas 2009. Thought I’d share in honour of National Poetry Day.

Christ…
The Reason for the
Season is a fantasy.
Dragons, the Four
Horsemen, blood and
Fire behind
Moonbeams. What
Do we celebrate?
A hole torn in the fabric of civilisation. The
Pulse of the planet
Skipping in fear or anticipation.
Twenty centuries of
Stony sleep vexed
To… a storm in heaven?
Nine years: one for
Every alleged feline life.
Signs and wonders, three
Wise men. Three
Blind mice. See how they
Run. Salvation isn’t
Free.
Jesus.

Raw Mocha Truffle Recipe

Raw Mocha

The most decadent chocolate imaginable. Ready in minutes. Who needs Mars Bars?

Raw Mocha Truffle
serves one

Ingredients

1tbsp cocoa powder
1tbsp light agave syrup
1tbsp coconut oil
1/4tsp ground coffee
1/4tsp ground cinnamon
1/8tsp Marmite


Preparation

Combine all dry ingredients in ramekin
Add agave, coconut oil and Marmite (dilute with a few drops of hot water)
Stir vigorously with a teaspon till smooth
Refrigerate at least 20 minutes or until coconut oil sets

Inspiration via Salma Hayek

Never thought I’d find myself quoting an A-list Hollywood actress for her wisdom but hey, life is full of surprises. Salma Hayek’s advice to “ambitious women” is too brilliant to not share.

You have to believe in yourself. You have to take care of yourself, work for yourself, believe in yourself, and also be patient with yourself. Learn when not to push too hard, and give yourself a break. Make sure that what you want is what you want, and not what society expexts of you, or how you can impress the idiots.

Free Money Day 2012

Wednesday, 12 Sept, I had the privilege of seeing Patti Smith and her band blow out the lights at the Brighton Dome with their performance of Free Money.
Thursday, 13 Sept, I sat through a marketing conference where men talked excitedly about “cashless payments” – the technologically-enabled manifestation of the truth that money is nothing but a figment of our imagination.
Friday, 14 Sept, I found out about Free Money Day “a global invitation for people to explore, in a liberating and fun way, what it might be like if our relationship to money was a little different”.
Saturday, 15 Sept, I will join people from all over the world in giving a little of “my” money to a stranger, two bits at a time, and asking that the recipient to pass one note or coin on to someone else.

Free Money Day
bills the event as “An opportunity to start fresh conversations about money [and] sharing.”
I say it’s a gesture of liberation. Money is a construct, a spook that haunts our collective consciousness. As long as we prioritise money above health, happiness, relationships, or creativity it owns us. Give money away and it loses its power, but gains in worth.


Participate in Free Money Day

Happy (to be an) Amatuer

Terrific post about writing from Molly Flatt, and it applies to any creative field. In a nutshell: do what you love, do it for the right reasons and don’t sweat the rest. Wisdom I’ll be taking to Creative Writing Ibiza with me in just a few hours!

Focus on the work itself, create goals you can control, and make sure the journey is as satisfying as the end game. Become a happy amateur, and you might just have a chance of becoming a happy professional after all.

Be Yourself


A GENIUS IS THE ONE MOST LIKE HIMSELF.

-Thelonious Monk (via Lists of Note)


“The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tasks. See the line from a sufficient distance, and it straightens itself to the average tendency. Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Choose Your Success Carefully

If people are highly successful in the professions they lose their senses. Sight goes. They have no time to look at pictures. Sound goes. They have no time to listen to music. Speech goes. They have no time for conversation. They lose their sense of proportion – the relations between one thing and another. Humanity goes. Money making becomes so important that they must work by night as well as by day. Health goes.
— Virginia Woolf

Further reading

Secrets of Success
Life is What Happens When You’re Making Other Plans

Action Is Hope

Magical words from Ray Bradbury (Paris Review interview)

I don’t believe in optimism. I believe in optimal behavior. That’s a different thing. If you behave every day of your life to the top of your genetics, what can you do? Test it. Find out. You don’t know—you haven’t done it yet. You must live life at the top of your voice! At the top of your lungs shout and listen to the echoes….

Action is hope. At the end of each day, when you’ve done your work, you lie there and think, Well, I’ll be damned, I did this today. It doesn’t matter how good it is, or how bad—you did it. At the end of the week you’ll have a certain amount of accumulation. At the end of a year, you look back and say, I’ll be damned, it’s been a good year.

Decision Making

Are you looking for the road less-travelled?


As I’ve chipped away at the Family on Bikes story (a paragraph or two over Saturday morning coffee, a stolen few minutes between advertising case studies at work) one word is always on my mind: choice.

The Vogel’s story is, at root, a story about making decisions. About waking up to the fact that if you don’t call the shots in your life someone else will because someone has to. (Shots get called. That’s how it works.) Talking to Nancy has made me aware of the gap between how we perceive decision making and how we do it. I suspect we give ourselves more credit for autonomy than we actually deserve. We think we’re free-wheeling, decision making machines. But how many of our choices are honest? How often do we stop and reflect on what we really want as opposed to simply reacting to what we think is expected of us?

Nancy bumped up against this when John suggested hitting the road with Daryl and Davy. Her knee-jerk “that’s not what parents do” seemed like a decision until she thought about it, mulled it over, and realised it was just a reaction. Parsing her response helped her choose based what she really valued versus what she thought she was supposed to value.

That is real decision making and it is absolutely a discipline. To make good decisions we have to reclaim our instinctive selfishness. Children, and adults who have a healthy level of self-interest, make decisions based on what makes them happy, satisfies their physical needs, and makes them feel loved and secure. Education warps this innate good sense by teaching that there are more important things than love, health, and self-determination. Money is accepted as a definition of “success” and culturally-constructed notions of what people “should” do are given priority. “Normal” takes over from natural as a guiding principle. The process is insidious. Most people are barely conscious of having sacrificed their freedom to simple convention. Nancy discovered she was not immune. “Quitting your job and putting your kids on a bicycle just wasn’t done. I had no role model,” she says. “Nothing out there that was telling me this was okay, this was do-able. It was an internal struggle.”

The struggle is essential and inevitable. It forces you to decide what you value, which may not be as obvious as it sounds. Fantasising about hitch-hiking across Mongolia is one thing but if you can’t imagine life without HD TV and an espresso machine you need to reconsider. Making good decisions means being honest about what you want, not what you think you should want, or what someone else expects you to want.


Further reading

Decisions
Self-Education
Self-Determination