Hello computer games, my old friend

I am going on a direct debit cleanse. Asking what I have leaving my account each month, which ones aren't needed.
This is all part of my plan to be more content with what I already have and also make room to give more money to things we care about.

I cancelled Sky TV (a whopping £55 pcm), I don't even watch much TV. I had in my mind from being a very small child that I would always have Sky, I thought if I could just watch the Simpsons every day I would be successful. I've spoken in previous posts about how Kristian jr missed the point A LOT.

I've been gradually reducing the amount we spend on Sky, taking sports off etc. In September we shall no longer have SkyHD in all its expensive glory we will have Prime Video, Netflix and Now TV.

Now TV is the reason for this post. I can get all the box sets, movies etc for £50 for 6 months, rather than one month.

No brainier.

Trouble is I need something to play it on. All smart TVs have the option to add it, my TV is definitely not smart. It works perfectly so no matter the amount of banter I get from my friends it will not be replaced until it breaks (I still think it's lovey, a gigantic bezel isn't that much of an issue…).

Enter Xbox one.

I traded in old Xbox 360 bits and bobs and got it for cheaper than buying a now TV box and definitely than a new TV.

No brainier mk2.

It plays all of the above TV apps and incredibly fun games.
I haven't regularly played games since I was 19.
I won't be playing tons of games but it's fun to play games online with my little brother who lives an hour away.

The whole reason for this post, THE MOST FUN GAME EVER!!!

Just Cause 3.

Everything explodes. You have a grappling hook, parachute and wing suit available at all times. There is missions, a gigantic world to explore and all kinds of vehicles to go in.

Kristian Jr would have loved this. Kristian of today loves it a lot.

I took a helicopter, flew to the highest point in the game and jumped off and rode my wingsuit as far as I could.

Pointless but so fun.

I've fought playing computer games for ages as it feels like a waste of time. I played for half an hour last night, relaxed and got back on with the learning I wanted to do.

Xbox, it's nice to meet you. Computer games, its turns out you are even more wonderful than I remember.

Happy memories


This is new music, but there is something wonderfully familiar.

Pop-punk (my catch all name for music like this) has a very special place in my heart.

The first band I was in was focussed solely around the music of Blink-182. It reminds me of skateboard events we used to put on in summer and of beach fires with friends. It reminds me of my friend Matt who we lost 6 years ago after bravely going 12 rounds with cancer. It reminds me of driving to Brighton with my little brother, explaining which words in the songs he shouldn't use.

Music has the ability to trigger nostalgia in me more than film or even place, though often music will help me to recall places and time of my life.
I was sat in my room on the floor incredibly bored the first time I heard the Outkast track, Ms Jackson and ran downstairs to beg my mum to drive me to a shop to go and buy the album, one I revisit often.

I was channel surfing the first time I heard Ocean Avenue by Yellowcard, turned the TV off, got on a train and went to buy the album.

Hooray for memories, friends and the good ship pop punk (and a sub-hooray for Outkast) and all who sail in her.

A quiet time

Kristian and Nala the Vizsla

I haven’t posted for a while, and yet I’ve been writing more consistently than ever. Each time I turn on my computer or phone I try to take some time to journal in Day One. I love this app and have always come back to it after trying many others.

This is an aside to the real reason for my post. To explain the quiet. I bought a new Kindle on Prime day and have become a book reading machine. well, I’ve been reading more at least. You get the idea… My reading has been focussed on St Francis of Assisi and surfing Buddhists. There has been a consistent lesson in both, take time for reflection and stillness.

I’ve been learning to be a dad in the last seven weeks, that has meant being intentional with everything, when to walk Nala, when to do email and even when to shower. My plan is to not just get through the time of less sleep and change but to enjoy every minute of it.

Quite a grand idea right?

I’ve watched more starry skies and sunrises since Joshua Jack was born, 5 am is his key time to need a change of scenery. My heart is full and I haven’t been able to put into words what that looks like in any meaningful way for people to read. The average Day One post is as follows:

“Joshua slept 6 hours last night. He’s so amazing. When he woke up he smiled at me and I cried because I was happy. Then he cried because he was hungry. Nala has been a brilliant dog sister. I caved and had caffeine today, it really isn’t my friend long term”

That’s it.

Along with all the other things to be intentional about, this season also needs intentional space for learning. I notice if I go more than a few days without moving towards a new skill or project my mind gets cloudy. Get my brain a quick workout and all is well.

Learning whilst having a seven-week old baby is interesting. I’ve worked on building websites with him strapped to my chest (if you have need of a baby carrier I can highly recommend this one by ErgoBaby) and I’ve sat joggling his buggy whilst working on support cases.

I love it.

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.

Voltaire

This time of quiet hasn’t been true quiet, more a time to adjust and prepare for the next stage of life. Life is good, I’m just working out how to do this season well. I’ll be back more I promise.

 

The calm, mindful me

I have been experimenting with various mindfulness techniques over the last 12 months or so.

I work in a city called Brighton in the UK. Lots of people in Brighton seem to love mindfulness and anything to do with their spirituality. I began to hear more and more people speak about mindfulness.

Conversations on the train:

‘Sorry, I didn’t hear you talking to me. I was doing my mindful breathing exercises’

Conversations in coffee shops:

‘I’m only drinking Pu erh tea now and trying to drink mindfully’

There’s even a book for mindful dogs, though as I’ve stated before, Nala doesn’t need it. She’s very advanced for a dog who fell in a pond twice today and was sick because she drank salt water.

My journey took its first real steps when I heard about the Headspace app via the Tim Ferris podcast. I took the 7 day trial and loved it.

The soothing tones of Andy Puddicombe made you immediately feel at ease.

The animations made you believe that in the cartoon world everything was relaxing and you too could live there as a happy lumberjack who slept well (Just me? Ok…).

I then started to read more books about mindfulness and came to the conclusion it was a wonderful thing. I looked into going to the Oxford Mindfulness centre to learn to become a mindfulness teacher later on. I took every opportunity to tell people they should try the app and see if it works for them. I bought books and read everything I could about it.

Cut to me falling into a the trap of reading too much and not applying enough. It fell out of my routine, to be replaced by a variety of other good things (reading, writing etc).

These last few weeks I’ve started up again. I’m trying the Calm app, and trying to catch myself before my mind becomes too busy during the work day and trying to take a few moments to breathe and focus again.

After just a few days of this I notice the difference. I’m calmer, kinder and more focussed. Looking forward to seeing what a difference a few weeks will make.

Venice in the rain, being away

Venice in the rain

My triumphant return to blogging. If you can play the trumpet, insert your own fanfare or watch this one. Triumphant isn’t it.

I took a short break from blogging after my best run EVER posting new content.

I needed to pause, I wasn’t too tired or bored of blogging. My computer was still alive and well. My fingers could still type. Allow me to take a moment to explain why this blog holiday was so required.

I am a man of finite resource and time. I can’t do everything all at once, even if I would like to and in the past would have tried to.

My April was made up of online courses, reading, preparing my house for a baby and also preparing my mind for fatherhood. Something needed to move to allow for the other things to be picked up.

I took myself off social media and limited the amount of TV I watched. The only reason I watched anything was because Silicon Valley came back. I wasn’t going to miss out on that. Obviously.

I am finding more and more that these pauses are good for me. They reaffirm what I need to be working on, and also what I shouldn’t be working on.

The picture above was in Venice on a rainy Saturday in April. My favourite trip ever. I took my phone but ignored it for the 5 days we were there. The TV in our apartment had one English speaking channel. Pippa had my full 100% attention and my mind had a bit more space to think. I think I look back so fondly on that trip in part because I was very present, not lost and distracted in e mail or news.

The wonderful part about the current blogging pause? I really missed writing. I am not sharing this blog anywhere at the moment, just practicing my WordPress building skills and practicing writing.

I wont be attempting to scale the dizzy heights of posting every day at the moment as I am still working hard on those online courses and baby T is due any day now, but I will be posting again.

It’s nice to miss something and to be able to start again.