The grass isn’t always greener…

As I look out of the window, the rain is beating against it and I can barely see outside.

Today is a very strange day, I’m not often affected by the weather but the past few weeks we’ve had nothing but rain – and I think I’m growing a little tired of it.

To lighten my mood, I’ve been listening to music, writing, drawing and thinking about the things I’m blessed with:

Financial comfort
Family
Good food
A roof over my head
Running water
Electricity & gas
Freedom

So what is it that makes us feel these things aren’t enough?

I think a lot of it has to do with our desire for a better life, our belief the grass is always greener.

It reminds me of something I heard once…

If the grass is greener on the other side – tend to your own damn lawn.

It makes me think of a miserable old man sitting in a rocking chair on his patio, complaining about the state of his grass compared to his neighbours.

His neighbour waves across to him while he mows the grass, while the grumpy man looks on with jealousy. Not realising that he too could have a pristine lawn, he just doesn’t want to work for it.

Even recalling the story makes me smile.

I try not to look at anybody else’s life with envy because I understand most people worked hard to get where they are, and I have the ability to choose my own path.

The key to happiness is choosing to be happy as things are right now, with the knowledge that everything else is a bonus. I’ve always understood life can always be better and we have the power to make it so.

I wrote a silly poem in around 2001, I’d like to share it here…

It’s called – The Ant in His Pants

The ant in his pants did rant and rave –
that to his queen he was but a slave.
The curious weasel advised the ant,
who looked quite humble in just his pants:

To put on a suit, walk with a cane
and wear a monocle; which the ant thought insane!
But he gave it a go, and true as I stand,
the queen, in marriage, asked for his hand.

It came to pass that the ant and the queen,
lived happily, or so they’d have you believe.
But the one thing the weasel declined to foretell,
was the one thing which made the poor ant’s life hell.

How does a colony sustain its size?
The ant declared with tears in his eyes,
that he is father to a million more.
Dejected, defeated and feeling quite sore.

Compared to this, life was a walk in the park –
now his poor testicles glow in the dark.
Spare a thought for our six legged friend as he cries.

And if he asks, advise him…

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Nobody cares…

I’m not joking here…

Nobody actually cares!

The sooner you realise that, the sooner you can get on with your own life and be happier.

In the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks on Paris, I find myself thinking about what drives people, why they do what they do and the complete lack of empathy shown by the majority of humans on this planet.

Sure, social media is full of ‘let’s all cry for this and that’, but how long does that really last?

Who actually sits up and makes a change in this world.

It’s fashionable to join in with the conversation when a terrible event occurs – but as a whole, we pay our little bit of lip service and carry on with our lives.

After all, ‘we’ are the center of our own universe and nothing is ever going to change that.

With that in mind – knowing that most people don’t really give a shit what happens outside of their own bubble, why do we place so much emphasis on what people think of US?

I truly believe we shouldn’t.

Everyone has an opinion, but why should somebody else’s opinion be more powerful than our own?

Have you ever had a day where you’re on top of the world, you’ve bought yourself a new outfit and had your hair restyled? You’re receiving compliments from all your friends and family.

Then you overhear a jealous work colleague commenting on the way you dress and it brings you back down to earth with a thud.

In an instant, you become self conscious, uncomfortable with the same choices that made you feel amazing less than 20 seconds ago. Because somebody else said something to change your point of view.

You didn’t even like or respect this person to begin with, but now their opinion has put you in a negative state for the rest of the day.

We give people far too much power over our lives.

For most of us, it’s the negative people who have most influence too.

In our desperation to fit in and be liked, we allow complete strangers to dictate our choices.

Sometimes, the fear of rejection is so great, we refuse to make a choice altogether.

What about the BIGGER decisions such as:

Whether to try for a promotion
Whether to change career
Whether to adopt a more healthy lifestyle
Whether to ask out the person you’ve always liked

Any time you’ve ever considered making a change and asked friends for their opinions, or received opinions you didn’t want, you handed over control to somebody else.

I’ve done it myself…

I’ve listened to friends who told me not to do things because they were too hard. So I didn’t try.
I’ve listened to family who told me to get a job after leaving school. So I did.
I’ve listened to colleagues who told me ‘nobody ever gets a pay rise here’. So I didn’t try.
I’ve listened to school teachers who told me ‘that career is too hard to get in to’. So I didn’t try.

When we give away our power to other people we become helpless and very unhappy.

So what’s the solution?

It begins with a question…

“Who should have power over my life?”

And the answer should always be…

“I do”

I’m guilty of doing the same things – I give power to everybody else and rarely exercise my own power. It’s difficult, but with practice and constantly asking yourself the right questions, new habits can be formed.

I’m making that decision today – I’ll be asking myself the question over and over until I give myself permission to take control of my own decisions without fear of judgement from others. I invite you to do the same.

Ultimately the decision is yours, will you do it?

Why I told my boss where to shove it

I’ve never had a very good relationship with ‘real life’…

Go to school
Get a job
Work until you’re too old to enjoy it
Die with regrets

I made a decision to be my own boss before I even left high school.

My first business was going to be ‘MultiPlay’ – a world-wide multiplayer skill game with cash prizes. I had it all planned out, venues, costs, break-even points.

My parents had other ideas.

I agreed to go to college, then when that didn’t work out as planned I got a job in a warehouse – my dream to be my own boss took a massive detour.

I drifted through life, working for businesses I had no desire to work in, with people I didn’t care about, for bosses who had no interest in my dreams…

I wouldn’t say working for other people was a complete waste of time and talent…

I have learned many valuable skills along the way – but having a boss always felt like I’d given up.

Everything came to a head after I began freelancing.

At the time, I worked as a property negotiator for an estate agency, I started freelancing on the side.

I had a little money coming in and very few responsibilities.

I have a rather different view of ‘authority’ figures than most people. I don’t see a position, I see a person. For me, if you want respect, you earn it.

My boss at the time never earned my respect – she was a bully, and spent a lot of her time publicly mocking her staff.

One day I’d had enough.

In a weekly morning meeting, all the staff were discussing sales figures and projections – when out of the blue, my boss picked on something I’d said and mimicked me by putting her tongue into her bottom lip and repeating what I’d said.

She was basically telling me I was an idiot – in front of a room of my colleagues.

I kept calm, despite seeing red – and told her we’d talk about this after the meeting.

I stayed behind after my colleagues left the room and calmly told her I would be leaving.

I stood up to collect my jacket, and was met at the bottom of the stairs by her.

She looked quite shocked as she told me “You’ll be working your notice…”

And even more shocked when I smiled back and said “No, I will not”

Nobody should be forced to do things they don’t want to do, be somewhere they don’t want to be, or spend time with poisonous people.

That was a turning point in my life, I’d burned my bridges and decided I’d never have a job again.

Things didn’t quite work out that way – I did return to employment for around a year when the business wasn’t doing too well – but I kept building, and as soon as I was in position to leave, I quit for the last time.

That was 8 years ago – and freedom has never tasted so good.

An open letter, to myself…

This is a letter to me, to hold myself accountable from this day onwards.

Something I can look back on every time I need reminding that today is the day I made a decision…

A decision to change – to be a better person.

I have failed!

Three years ago I held the universe in my hands…

– I was in the best shape of my life
– I had goals, dreams and motivation
– I had money, opportunities and charisma
– I was respected and liked
– I was happy
– I was an inspiration

Today, I look back at who I was then and who I am now – and I don’t like what I see…

– I hand control to external factors
– I make poor decisions
– I have no drive or vision
– My dreams and goals turned to ‘if only’
– I make excuses instead of taking action
– I let other people choose whether I fulfil my goals or not

Somewhere along the line I stopped writing my own story and became a passenger in my own life.

In the past 3 years, I’ve been blessed with things I’ve waited my whole life for…

Meeting Anne-Marie – the missing part of me, the most understanding, loving, beautiful person I could imagine – who chose me, and gave me a future I wanted.

Becoming virtual step-dad to Lauren – although not my ‘first-born’, she is my ‘first child’ – I’ve watched her grow into a beautiful, confident, intelligent six year old – one day I’ll show her how to make all her dreams come true, and that you don’t ‘find’ happiness… you ‘make’ it.

Becoming a father to Jasmine – who turned my world upside down. Every day, I look at her and am amazed. Unfortunately, I missed Lauren’s first three years. I’m lucky to be given the chance to ‘build’ a human from scratch. To make mistakes and correct them, while watching a new-born baby grow into one of the most intelligent creatures I’ve ever encountered.

I’ll protect them until the day I die, I’ll make mistakes, but I’ll make up for them.

The sad thing is, I haven’t been able to fully appreciate everything because I haven’t been ME.

Today, that changes – it has to…

Without change, I can’t help make our dreams a reality.

I must be there to help Anne-Marie and both my little girls have every opportunity in life…

– To travel the world and expand their minds
– To experience the true beauty of this world
– To learn lessons for themselves, with our help
– To live a life that makes them happy
– To be loved unconditionally

Nobody will ever stand in the way of their happiness, certainly not me.

I’ll show them how to dream, and how to make those dreams come true.

Even though I make it hard to believe sometimes, the three women in my life are my reason to be alive.

Which is why I need to change.

The old me dies today, he is broken, I’ve tried to fix him but I can’t…

When something fails to work…
You can’t always fix it…
Sometimes you just have to tear it down…
Tear it down and rebuild it from scratch…

At midnight tonight, I begin rebuilding myself, in the image of the perfect human.

– A strong, healthy body
– A strong, healthy mind

There will be obstacles, there will be mistakes – I will go through, around or over the obstacles and I will fix the mistakes quickly.

The past stays where it is – a stranger to me, a lesson and an example of how not to be.
The future is an open book – one we will write together.

The new me is:

– Proactive, not reactive
– Grateful for everything
– Always improving
– Always helpful
– Ready to learn
– Willing to do what it takes, no excuses

I will not fail.