Tag Archives: lifestyle

Coffee Time

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Towards the end of July I decided that I’d go caffeine free for the whole of August.  This was partly inspired by Dee removing processed sugar from her diet for July, and partly from January this year when I went without alcohol for the month.  I reckoned missing caffeine would be more difficult than missing alcohol – and I was right!  It wasn’t about just not drinking coffee, but not drinking or eating anything with caffeine in it, so “normal” tea and energy drinks like Red Bull were also off limits.

Normally I drink a lot of coffee, and I don’t drink the mild stuff.  Dee calls it “rocket fuel”, because I probably have 4 or 5 mugs a day (on average) of the strongest coffee I can find, always black and always without sugar. I don’t use a spoon to measure it out, just pour it in the typical Norwegian way. Having spent a week in Norway towards the end of July, where everywhere gives you unlimited refills, I was probably as caffeinated as I’ve ever been.

August 1st brought such severe headaches and flu like symptoms that I had to go to bed immediately after dinner. The headaches and symptoms faded over the next few days, but I probably only felt well after about a week or so.  I also felt permanently tired and worn out for the first couple of weeks, though perked up a bit after that.

So what did I drink instead?  It’s been quite warm so I had a lot of squash and / or fruit juice.  I also bought a number of speciality teas – I quite like the options provided by the Yogi brand – so had a lot of spiced chai, mint tea, fruit teas, that sort of thing. I enjoyed them, but probably not as much as coffee.

I made it to the end of the month in one piece, and hadn’t touched caffeine at all. I’m very pleased that I managed it, despite strong temptation from time to time.  Did I feel the benefit? Honestly, I’m not sure. The headaches had gone, and some of the cravings had also gone, but I love the smell of coffee so stopping off in a cafe while shopping was tough. I’m sure that my heart was glad of the break: I probably should have checked to see what my resting heart rate was at the beginning of the month and at the end.

During August I treated myself to a coffee grinder (I have always wanted to grind beans myself) and a cafetière, so I got up a bit earlier than usual on September 1st and set to work making my first “real” drink for over a month.  The image in this post is of that first cup, and it was worth the wait.  What I hadn’t bargained on was the headache that followed, and the feeling of being spaced out for several hours afterwards!  I only had one coffee that day, and only one yesterday, and am having one as I write this: whether I go for two in a day remains to be seen because I’m still getting a bit light headed as the caffeine hits me.  I’ll still drink the “special” teas as well though, because I did enjoy them.

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Respect Yourself

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I’ve had cause over recent months to question my own worth, my rights as a person, and my place in the world. Were it not for my lovely Dee by my side, I think that I would have hit an ever descending spiral of dark mood and emotion.  She has been my shining light.

Over the past couple of years I’ve been gradually purging my life of those who don’t enhance it, or those who don’t contribute to it in a positive way. That may sound very harsh, but in this day and age there is so much bitterness, hatred, discrimination, racism, bigotry and judgmentalism that I decided that there had to be a better way of living.

I turned my back on those who sat in judgement of others for their own entertainment or glorification. I know that to some extent most people judge others, but making assumptions about who someone really is just because he is overweight, or because she has tattoos, or because they are trying to work out whether to buy two or four slices of toast with their breakfast: that’s the sort of judgmentalism I can live without. He may be overweight, but maybe he’s already lost 10 stone and is working hard to lose more, or maybe he has a medical condition which has seen him react badly to his medication. Her tattoos may be messages of hope and support for friends having a hard time. They may be so poor that the fact the price has gone up for toast means they can’t even afford those two extra slices of bread.  Everyone has their own story to tell, and everyone has a right to be treated with respect and care.

I turned my back on those who indulge in gossip, which is simply one way people have of looking for faults in others and relishing in them or trying to feel superior because of them. So what if so-and-so didn’t put their name to a funeral notice for a member of their own family? Who are we to judge? How do we know the circumstances that led that to happen? Most importantly, what business is it of ours? What does it matter to me what Fred down the road did or didn’t do, or what Freda was wearing the other day?  I don’t know them, and it’s of no concern or interest to me.  It’s their business not mine.

I turned my back on those who, when I asked to be treated with kindness and good manners, chose instead to retaliate verbally with unfounded accusations of all sorts of wrongdoing. Instead of saying “I had no idea you felt that way, or that I seemed to be behaving like that, I’m really sorry and I’ll do better from now on”, they chose to treat my plea for help and compassion as a personal attack on them without stopping to think why I’d felt compelled to speak out.

I turned my back on those who, when faced with the outrages in the world today suggested that those who wanted to be suicide bombers should just kill themselves (when their attacks also kill scores of innocents) and could not see that exhorting any one person to kill themselves was a bad thing.  How can telling someone to kill themselves (whatever the reason) ever be justified? Where do you stop? Is assisted suicide for those in pain and / or terminally ill to be met with “just get on and do it”?

In this process, I’ve lost people I loved and respected, but who didn’t seem to love and respect me in the same way.  I’ve lost people who I thought were friends but it seems I was only of use as a friend if I continued to indulge in tittle-tattle and hate. Through those losses, I was made to feel that I was in the wrong, that my behaviour and beliefs were unreasonable, that changing my life at my age was a bad thing, that I didn’t have the right to make those decisions.

The only way out is through – Robert Frost

However, I know for certain that I have gained clarity about the things that really matter. I’ve made new friends and acquaintances who see life through the same lens, who don’t want to live their lives the way I used to.  I have found validation in my pursuit of happiness, of becoming a good and kind person.  I’ve found people I belong with,  who want to make the world a better place, who make me happy.

I was told recently that a “happy ever after life” is elusive.  Maybe it is, but I know that I’m happier with my life having made these changes than I was before I made them, and I know that now I’m surrounded by people who are kind and compassionate about their fellow humans it’s a much more likely outcome than if I’d bumbled along in my previously unhappy state.

DIY Flat(pack)ery – Image #131

Let me ask you a question or two. Do you like building flat pack furniture? Do you find it easy? If yes to both, did you build model aeroplanes, boats etc in your youth?

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I have to say I love building the stuff. But then, I also like building Lego. And anything else that means you get to use tools. Or gadgets. Gadgets rock!

Today I bought a flat pack wardrobe, which only has metal rods and some canvas. Pages 5-9 of the instructions were missing. There were  at least 8 different configurations, according to the pictures on the box. It took about an hour, and I’m pleased with the results, though there was one downside. No tools were required, other than my brain! Not a single Allen key or screwdriver! Several points now missing off the fun factor!

There was a small amount of redemption about half an hour after I finished though, in the shape of Elliott, our cat. He had decided that sitting on top of the new wardrobe was the best place to be, though he did struggle to find a way down!

Never lose again – Image #112

I saw this while browsing Facebook earlier, and thought it was pretty cool. It doesn’t quite cover losing loved ones when they pass away, but in general I think it’s right.

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I think you can see examples of this in nearly everything. How about this – please bear with me. Several years ago I was on a business trip to India, and to say it was hectic is an understatement. We left London on the Sunday evening, landing in Mumbai around lunchtime on the Monday. After a shower and a bite to eat we headed for the office, then back to the hotel for dinner. Next morning, it was on to Pune for a day of meetings then a flight to Bangalore in the evening, arriving at our hotel quite late. One of our party was by now suffering from having eaten something that didn’t quite agree with him. Bangalore office the next day then another evening flight to Delhi, which was delayed by two hours then, after having circled Delhi in a thunderstorm with lightning flashing across the sky all around us for over an hour, we were diverted to Jaipur to refuel before heading back to Delhi, to get to our hotel about 3am. After work the next day we got back to the hotel to find out they’d only recently opened and had no bar, so we checked out and moved to another hotel, where we only just caught happy hour, then home the next day.

On the flight back, my boss asked what I’d thought of the trip, the delayed flights, the storm, the stopover in Jaipur, the hotel without a bar,  the “Delhi belly” etc. I replied that for me it was all about the experience. We did what we set out to work wise, which was good, and the rest of it all made for an unforgettable trip.

I know of people who would have complained bitterly about every little setback, every minor change to plans, every inconvenience, ill health etc, but that’s not me.

Life is not a dress rehearsal, and I’m determined to make the best out of mine, taking in and rising above any “learning experiences” which come my way. I want to embrace life and all it has to offer, and am very glad that I now get to do that with Dee by my side.

Inspiration starts here – Image #47

On the way to work today I was watching this TED talk.  I’ve been watching a few recently, and this one had me sitting on a packed commuter train, with tears literally rolling down my cheeks.   Matthew Williams (pictured below) competed for Canada at the Special Olympics last year.

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He has an intellectual disability which marked him out as “special” from an early age and he explains what that felt like.  He explains how getting into sport has helped him find friends, find a place in this world, get a job and improve his chances of a longer life.  He also explains why the “r” word is so hateful and hurtful.

There are many things that moved me about this guy.  Not least was the fact that he stood there for 15 minutes in a packed conference hall, without notes, and spoke eloquently and articulately about his experiences.  If he was nervous, it didn’t show, and the standing ovation he received before the end was well deserved.

His description of a number of his opponents in the basketball final receiving hearing aids for the first time ever the day before the game was so moving, that’s what set my tears going.

44% of Americans claim they don’t know a single person with an intellectual disability (and I’ve not idea what the figures are for the UK): Matthew Williams showed how much they are missing out.