Tag Archives: Self-Improvement

Dreambook

Feeling a greater sense of meaning and purpose in Life.

An American friend has sent me a most wonderful and thoughtful Christmas gift ~ which I have already opened!

It’s a book; Rituals for Living, Dreambook and Planner.  When I say it’s a book it’s kind of a journal, and diary, and project planner.  The project in this case being My Life.

Stop playing small and start seeing yourself as the magical creator that you are.  You can create anything you want.  We want to help ensure that what you’re creating reflects your highest potential and most authentic self.  ~  thedragontree

It’s about connecting with what’s really important to me; identifying my core values, gifts, and life purpose.

It’s also about developing habits and rituals to help me to realise my dreams.

At heart I am an engineer, I like planning, I need to make plans before starting any new enterprise or project. Well, this is a new project, it’s the rest of my life.  A big project that deserves some big plans.

We firmly believe that if you set out to achieve your goals while remaining steadfast on the necessity of playing, caring for yourself, connecting to family, friends, a higher power, and the natural world ~ you actually amplify your ability to succeed.  ~  thedragontree

I firmly believe that this book, the gift my American friend has sent to me, will help me achieve my fullest potential and realise my dreams.

In part it’s about self-awareness and self-actualisation, and in part it’s about developing habits and rituals which will lead towards the fullest and most congruent realisation of my desires, dreams, and goals.

You know what?  This is a wonderful gift, and I know it was sent to me with love.

One of the benefits of writing this blog is that I can publicly thank my friend for this wonderful Christmas gift.  Oh, and the kind friend concerned also has a blog.  https://therobynbirdsnest.com

There are a couple of websites which sort of go along with this life planner;

http://www.thedragontree.com   and  dreambook.vision

 

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

 

 

 

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Stay Young ~ Eat Walnuts

A dog, a wife, and a walnut tree, they more you beat them the better they be.

It looks like a simple change to our diet, like eating a few walnuts a day, boosts our health in some amazing ways.

I’ve long thought that eating nuts was a good idea, and now some scientists at the Louisiana State University agree with me.  After some experiments they say that eating a couple of ounces of walnuts a day improves your digestive health.  Seems it’s all to do with prebiotics again, and that walnuts have their beneficial effects by nourishing the friendly bacteria in our gut, helping them to thrive and multiply.

These good bacteria have anti-inflammatory properties, and chronic inflammation is now thought to be central to the onset of arthritis, various cancers including prostate and breast cancer, depression, early aging, various heart / circulatory diseases, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

It’s better to get the nutrients for healthy skin from food, not supplements.  Salmon, walnuts, blueberries, spinach…  lots of my favorite foods happen to be amazing for skin too.  ~  Gail Simmons

Scientists and nutritionists say that the health of our digestive tract is central to the health of our whole body.  Walnuts act as a prebiotic, meaning that eating these nuts helps keep our digestive system healthy.

Gut health is an emerging research area, but we are seeing greater bacterial diversity may be associated with better health outcomes, whereas low diversity has been linked to conditions such as obesity and inflammatory bowel disease.  ~  Professor Lauri Byerley.

Walnuts and hazelnuts are just about the oldest tree foods known to man; their importance going at least at far back as 7,000 BC.  Walnuts in particular;

  1. Help with weight loss.
  2. Improve good sleep if eaten late at night~ walnuts contain lots of melatonin.
  3. Are good for your hair, in fact eating walnuts may help prevent hair loss.
  4. Are very good for your heart and circulation.
  5. Help to lower your bad cholesterol.
  6. Help to prevent type 2 diabetes.
  7. Makes your skin healthier.
  8. Can keep senile dementia at bay.
  9. Help to prevent various cancers, especially breast and pancreatic cancers.
  10. Will help you to live a longer, healthier, and less stressful life.

Personally, I firmly believe that eating almost any type of nuts and seeds is a beneficial addition to one’s diet, but walnuts may be better than most as they are the only nut that contains a lot of omega-3 fatty acid.  And, as we already know, omega-3 fatty acids are good for us.  Walnuts also have a lot of protein, fibre, phytochemicals, and antioxidants in them.

Walnuts are a tree nut, along with Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia, pecans, pine nuts and pistachios ~ each of these has it’s own nutritional properties, (I can’t abide macadamia nuts and I hate pecan pie).

Walnuts have the vitally important amino acid l-arginine, which give loads of benefits to people with heart diseases, or who may become prone to suffering from heart and circulatory problems.

These almost magical nuts also contain neuroprotective compounds, such as vitamin E, folate, and melatonin.  Research shows that eating a half a cup of walnuts a day may stave off senile dementia.

Allegedly, walnuts also make men more sexually potent, and are good for pregnant women…..

There is one nut which is not generally thought to be quite so healthy; peanuts.  These are legumes anyhow, and basically legumes are either peas or cattle food.  The main reason that early farmers grew legumes is that they improve the soil, and not because they’re good to eat.

Nevertheless, there are health benefits to be found from the humble peanut; they’re full of fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals, the anti-aging molecule resveratrol, and phytosterols that help reduce bad cholesterol.

Nuts and seeds are a far better snack than the other disgusting crap many people munch on, especially late at night.  So don’t snack on potato chips, crackers, popcorn, blue cheese, ice cream, doughnuts, pretzels, candy, chocolate, cookies, cake, s’mores…  have some walnuts instead, or almonds, or hazelnuts, (or any nuts and seeds).

The good news is, that glass of red wine you like late at night is good for you too.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

always buy organic walnuts

Food on Friday~ Mediterranean

Good food begins and ends with good talk.

Some say that a Mediterranean diet is good for you.  And, that if you eat a mostly Mediterranean diet you’ll be healthier and live longer.  All I know is that you should always have a really good extra virgin olive oil.

From Greece, tzatziki is basically a mixture of yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, garlic, and mint, and you can buy it from your local store, or you can even make your own.  The Bojon Gourmet has this nice little farro and cucumber salad with feta, dill, and mint that not only would be nice with some tzatziki, but also combines its flavours.  Both would go nicely with some grilled goat.

Farro and Cucumber Salad with Feta, Dill, and Mint

And now, from Heidi at foodiecrush we have this outrageous herbacious Mediterranean chickpea salad.  (I had to include this just for the name of the dish.)

Outrageous Herbacious Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

From Heather Christo this week we have Mediterranean pasta with grilled swordfish, lemons and gremolata.  Gremolata is also dead easy to make for yourself. (I love grilled swordfish, but some say we shouldn’t buy swordfish ~ I will go on eating it, because whatever I do won’t affect how much fish the Japanese rape from the sea.)  This 25 minute dish is perfect for a barbecue with the kind of friend who doesn’t expect a burned burger in a cheap bun.

Mediterranean Pasta with Grilled Swordfish, Lemons, and Gremolata

Sardines are a quintessentially Mediterranean dish, and Petra from Food Eat Love has some super taste combinations in this dish of fresh sardines, roast baby beets with whipped avocado and feta.  As you’d expect it’s the beetroot that going to take the longest to cook here.

Fresh Sardines, Roast baby Beets with Whipped Avocado and Feta

This is another Mediterranean dish I love, grilled lamb kebabs, this time from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest.  (Do you want to know my own secret ingredient for grilling Mediterranean style?  7Up ~ when the charcoal gets too hot and the meat looks like it might burn, I sprinkle 7Up over the grill.)  Tieghan’s is a half-hour dish, but one should really marinade the lamb overnight.

Mediterranean Grilled Lamb Kebabs

Dana at The Minimalist Baker has the ultimate Mediterranean bowl, looks fabulous, and it’s easy, healthy, and gluten-free.  However, I would definitely add a little more extra virgin olive oil.

The Ultimate Mediterranean Bowl

For hose of us who like recipe collections, Olive magazine has 19 of the best Mediterranean recipes, including this cod, cherry tomato, and green olive tray roast.  Looks smashing doesn’t it.

Cod Cherry Tomato and Green Olive Tray Roast

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

get yourself a cookery book

How to Stay Healthier and Live Longer

Life is not merely being alive, but being well.

If you adopt a healthy lifestyle, not only will you feel better, you will also add ten or more years to your life.  But, what is a healthy lifestyle?  Turns out that not smoking, (nor abusing prescription or street drugs), drinking booze only in pretty strict moderation, and keeping to a healthy weight are the three pillars of a healthy lifestyle.

Smoking and drinking may look cool, for a short while, but after a short while those pastimes will turn an attractive women into a cackling, wrinkled, old hag.

The reason fat men are good-natured is that they can neither fight nor run.  ~  Theodore Roosevelt.

Personally, I would add another three things we should all do if we want to be fit and healthy well into our senior years; get plenty of good quality sleep, get plenty of appropriate exercise, and eat a good, healthy diet.  Therefore, if you don’t want to suffer a horrible and early death, from this moment on you should;

  1. Stop smoking.  Stop smoking weed too.  Smoking is dirty, disgusting, anti-social, and it will kill you in a selection of particularly nasty ways.
  2. Drink only in moderation.  If you regularly take more than a couple of drinks in an evening, if you empty a bottle of wine in a couple of days, if you have a cupboard full of half-empty bottles of spirits ~ then you have a drink problem, and eventually it will make you very ill.
  3. Don’t be fat, don’t be obese.  It is very easy to stuff yourself with burgers, take-outs, canned food, and other unhealthy crap calories.  Type 2 diabetes will make you very ill, and then it will kill you.  There are three foods / ingredients you should never, ever, knowingly have in your diet;  sugar-free / diet soda, high fructose corn syrup, wheat, wheat flour, wheat products.
  4. Get plenty of good quality sleep.  Lack of sleep doesn’t just make you feel tired and grumpy.  Lack of enough proper sleep causes accidents, makes you stupid, kills your sex drive, and puts you at greater risk of; heart disease, heart failure and heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, and type 2 diabetes.
  5. Take enough appropriate exercise.  Just a daily walk can add 7 years to your life.  You don’t need to join an gym and lift heavy weights.  Both yoga and tai chi have a myriad of health benefits, improving your balance, control, fitness, flexibility, reducing the risks of falls, sprains, and other injuries, easing pain, and reducing the symptoms of depression.
  6. Have a good quality and healthy diet.  And, there are lots of cool diets to choose from; Atkins, Paleo, Mediterranean, Pritikin…  The key is don’t eat junk, have plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, eat slowly and chew your food properly, and don’t stuff yourself at every opportunity.

Americans and the British are much less likely to live long and healthy lives than do the inhabitants of most industrialised western countries, and it has nothing at all to do with the standards of medical care in the USA and the UK.  In fact, the Japanese have the highest average healthy life expectancy in the world ~ and it doesn’t have anything to do with either sushi or rice.

Japanese people give attention to health in all aspects of their daily life.  Professor Kenji Shibuya.

Some things you can do today to work towards that fitter, healthier, happier life in your senior years are;

  • Change your attitude ~ tell yourself, convince yourself, that you will be fitter, healthier, stronger, more capable, filled with self-confidence, and more self-aware.
  • Get your blood pressure checked.
  • Eat a better diet ~ stop eating junk.
  • Stop knocking back the booze in the evenings.  Especially DO NOT drink just before you go to bed.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Start exercising.  There are both mental and physical benefits to regular exercise ~ at least 30 minutes a day for at least 5 days a week.  Walk, (at least) 10,000 steps every day.
  • Walk don’t drive.  Learn to drive in a slower, calmer, more relaxed manner.
  • Don’t get stressed.  Practice meditation and mindfulness ~ just relax.
  • Don’t hang out with people who eat junk, smoke, drink, and slob about just watching sports TV all day.  Stay out of pubs, bars, and down-market restaurants. If you can’t do those things you need to get to an AA meeting.
  • And for goodness sake, stay out of hospital.  Hospitals are incredibly unhealthy places to be for very long.

These are all simple lifestyle changes, and each one is pretty easy on it’s own.  Taken together these lifestyle changes will make a massive difference to your health, fitness, and happiness.  As a side effect you will stop throwing huge hunks of change down the drain.

A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.  ~  Paul Dudley White.

Being angry, hateful, jealous, negative, stressed…, will all damage your physical, mental, and emotional health.   In fact, just believing you are healthy cuts your risk of an early death by three-quarters.

Mens sana in corpore sano ~ a healthy mind in a healthy body.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

 

 

you can buy this book from Amazon

Gluten Intolerance

A gluten-free diet is more than just a fad.

Some say that gluten is safe for everyone except those who have celiac disease.  And, that non-celiac gluten sensitivity isn’t a real medical condition.  All I know is that I’ve felt healthier, fitter, and more alert since I realised that wheat is bad for you.  Especially genetically enhanced, chemical laden, pesticide sprayed, modern American wheat is really, really bad for you.  If you have the sense your mother gave you, then you should stop eating anything made from wheat.

Gluten intolerance and celiac disease are direct results of American agriculture policy and, specifically, the government’s wading into the food arena.  ~  Joel Salatin.

Gluten is what makes flour and water as sticky as glue.  Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains like; wheat, spelt, rye, barley, bulgur, oats, and seitan.  There is no gluten in either quinoa or rice.  Nor is there any gluten in potato or beans.  However gluten is found in almost all processed and packaged foods, sauces, and canned food.

Non celiac gluten sensitivity is poorly understood, and there are no specific medical tests of your blood, stool, or urine that can reliably diagnose gluten intolerance.  You and your doctors can only reliably diagnose gluten intolerance by the symptoms and health problems you have.  On the other hand, there are reliable diagnostic tests for full-blown celiac disease.

Common digestive and health problems caused by gluten intolerance include;

  • Irritable bowl problems such as abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, constipation, and diarrhoea.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Irritation of the mouth and throat.
  • Brain fog, difficulty concentrating, problematic memory.
  • Frequent headaches.
  • Mood changes, anxiety, depression, irritability.
  • Low energy and chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Muscle and joint pains.  Osteoporosis.
  • Peripheral neuropathy, numbness and tingling in the hands, arms, feet and legs.
  • Skin problems, dermatitis, eczema, rosacea, skin rashes.
  • Nutrient deficiencies, vitamin deficiencies, iron deficiency, anemia.
  • Asthmatic attacks.
  • Higher risk of learning problems including autism and ADHD.
  • Sexual problems and in women missed periods.
  • Gut autoimmunity, damage to the gut biome

Gluten intolerance will affect every single part of the body as the bacteria in your gut help to control everything from nutrient absorption, to hormone production, to metabolic function, to the way your brain works.

The problem is that gluten from wheat is found in just as many products as that other evil and unnatural food; high fructose corn syrup.  One should read the labels before buying any food, and certainly avoid these foods

  • bread, crackers, pizza, burritos, tortilla, cakes, cookies and the like
  • beer, lager, stouts, ales
  • barley malt
  • packaged, store bought chicken broth
  • malt vinegar ~ buy natural organic apple cider vinegar instead
  • most salad dressings including mayonnaise
  • veggie burgers unless they are certified gluten-free
  • soy sauce
  • packets of seasonings and spice mixes
  • noodles unless they are rice noodles
  • all pasta, (unless it’s marked gluten-free)
  • most condiments
  • non dairy creamer
  • miso
  • bullion cubes and stock cubes
  • canned soups
  • cheese spreads and other processed cheeses
  • sausages and hot dogs
  • ice cream, frozen yogurt, and milk unless it’s from grass-fed cows.
  • Sour cream, which may contain modified food starch.

If you are even mildly gluten intolerant you will need to be very careful when eating out.  Eating out is fun, however,when eating out becomes the norm, and you find yourself eating out two, three, or more times a week, then eating out is no longer a healthy treat and is instead a bad habit.  If you are gluten intolerant dining out is very bad for your health. The same goes for buying Chinese take-out which is likely to be stuffed with MSG, (Monosodium Glutamate).  When eating out avoid fried foods, thickened sauces, and obviously bread.  Only drink gluten-free booze such as cider, wine, spirits and liqueurs, (there are gluten-free beers).  And, if you’re drinking spirits don’t have diet soda as your mixer ~ diet soda is also bad for you.

Some say that gluten intolerance might really be glyphosate poisoning.  And that pre-harvest spraying of wheat and sugar cane with Roundup makes for an easier harvest.  All I know is that I don’t want to eat food contaminated with weed-killer.

Glyphosate is for sure, in every bite of food that contains wheat.  ~  Nancy S. Mure

As it goes, wheat flour and refined sugars are just so very bad for you that your best choice is to avoid them all together.  The list of health problems caused by these two staple foods is both long and nasty.

You may want to look for non-gluten alternative foods and products, and there are lots of these if you make the effort.  Personally I have merely given up anything made with wheat flour, including; bread, cakes, pizza, pasta, cookies, canned soups… ~ and I now also make an effort to read the labels on the stuff I buy at the supermarket.

For most of us, giving up bread and beer is a pretty easy and very beneficial thing to do.

If you want to be really fit and healthy, start by never again eating anything made with wheat flour, you know it makes sense.

If you want the full story then you have to click on the links.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

there is plenty of reading

Being Overweight

It’s simple, if it jiggles, it’s fat.

These past few weeks, I have been lacking a little in energy and bounce, and I decided that one reason for my lack of ‘get-up-and-go’ was that I’ve been putting on weight.  So, I decided to look into what being overweight really was, and if I was actually overweight, what it was doing to me.  Quite frankly, I was horrified at what I discovered.

I hate overweight, because it implies there is a weight standard I should be adhering to.  ~  Camryn Manheim.

You know what?  There is a weight standard, and we should all be adhering to it.

There are lots of health and fitness problems attached to being overweight ~ and the older you get the worse the health problems of being overweight become.

To begin with, are you overweight?  How does one know the difference between a little curvier and softer than we used to be, and truly overweight?  What is the difference between being overweight, obese, or morbidly obese.  Well, the chances are you’re overweight or obese ~ in the UK 68% of men and 58% of women are overweight or obese.  In the USA more than two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese.

One easy way to tell if we’re overweight is to forget the scales and just grab a tape-measure.  Measure you height, and your waist at your belly button, (without sucking in your gut).  Your waist should not be more than half your height.  If your waist measurement is more than half your height you’re overweight with the worst kind of fat ~ visceral fat, (which will kill you).  More scientifically you can calculate your Body Mass Index, (BMI), but that won’t tell you as much about visceral fat as will a tape-measure.

There’s also a cut-off point to assess the overall risks to health just by waist measurement.  In men it’s 40 inches, and in women it’s 35 inches.  So if your waist is bigger than that, you’re officially overweight / obese and in danger of suffering serious health and fitness problems.  Having love handles is another bad sign, presaging heart and liver disease in your future.

Medically defined, a healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9,  overweight is having a BMI of more than 25, obese is having a BMI of more than 30, while morbidly obese is having a BMI of more than 40, (or 35 if you also have something like diabetes or high blood pressure).  There are plenty of online BMI calculators.

There are a myriad of downsides to being overweight, and even more downsides to being obese.  Some of these are;

We know a great deal more about the causes of physical disease than we do about the causes of physical health.  ~  M. Scott Peck.

The above are the worst of the medical problems.  But look at it another way ~ just how fit are you?  Can you walk up three flights of stairs without getting out of breath?  Can you run for a bus?  Can you walk five miles without collapsing?  Can you easily find clothes that fit, or do you have to buy plus size?  Can you still play sports, or are you limited to gentler activities?  What’s your performance in bed like?  The chances are if you’re overweight, then you’re not happy with your honest answers to any of those questions, because you know you’re not as fit as you would like to be.  Maybe you should take an online test?

It turns out my BMI today, as I write this, is 25.7.  However, according to another set of criteria I’m quite fit ~ much fitter than my chronological age, by 25 years or so.  But do you know what?  I’m going to lose some weight, starting right now.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

I can do that yoga position, but I don’t look as good as that.

 

Yoga for Men

Yoga is a type of meditation ~ and done properly it’s difficult.

Calling this post Yoga for Men isn’t as sexist or as misogynistic as you may think.  When I was a much younger chap, far more cynical, and much less worldly-wise, I used to think yoga was a bit ‘strange’.  In my mind yoga was something that girls did, and perhaps men who were a bit metrosexual.  Now that I’ve grown up a bit I realise that yoga can be a strenuous and difficult workout ~ the kind of workout that hurts while you’re doing it and makes you ache afterwards.

It turns out that there are lots of reasons why more men should regularly practice yoga.  Some say that yoga strengthens your immune system and relieves stress.  And, that regular yoga improves muscle tone, flexibility, agility, posture, stamina, and core strength.  All I know is that regular yoga exercises and nurtures my body, mind, and spirit.  Some also say that yoga will give you a better sex life.

Just in case you don’t know, yoga involves holding postures, and holding some of these postures for any length of time can be damn difficult.  Even the few, (simple), postures I use require a great deal of strength, balance, and concentration.  Because holding these postures take a lot of strength and stamina, your muscles become more toned and develop greater power and endurance.

Yoga also helps with proper breathing, better posture, better balance, better concentration, better digestion, and increased mindfulness and serenity.   Regular and difficult yoga improves the way you look, stand, walk, and talk.  I have been told, by a very close friend, that regular yoga also greatly improves one’s sex life, and increases the pleasure you can give to your partner.  Also, some yoga poses work as great sex positions and increase the intensity of the female orgasm.  Allegedly, it’s possible for women to have an orgasm just from doing yoga.  Who knew?

So, these are the yoga positions I use regularly, and if I have the names wrong… well I’m not a yoga instructor.

The Tree.  This classical, impressive, and elegant position promotes strength and balance in your feet, ankles, legs, and core.  Like all yoga positions I’ve tried it also aids concentration, calms your breathing, and improves your grasp of mindfulness.  Don’t worry too much if at first you keep losing your balance, what’s probably happening is that you’ve lost your mental focus.  The tree pose puts all your weight on one leg at a time, but the balance, poise, and elegance has to come from the whole body.

~

Downward Facing Dog.  Allegedly, this is one of those yoga poses that’s also a great sexual position ~ I can see that.  This position throws a lot of weight on the upper body, wrists, arms, shoulders, and chest.  It stretches the whole of the back of your legs and  body ~ your spine, arms, shoulders, ankles, calves, and hamstrings.  For me, unless I’m doing it wrong, it also strengthens my knees.

~

The Bridge.  This position is especially designed to strengthen your pelvic floor, (and backside), which is good for all kinds of reasons, up to and including sex.  The bridge position builds strength in your core and lower body ~ personally I can really feel this in my lower abdomen.  This is another of those yoga positions which is also a fabulous sexual position ~ or so I’m told.  When I do this, I keep my back straight and my belly flat ~ I have no idea if that’s a good idea or not.

~

The Plank.  I find this pose tremendously difficult, not because I don’t know how to do it, but because it calls for a tremendous amount of strength.  Done properly the entirety of one’s body weight is brought into play to build core body strength, exercise the arms and shoulders, and increase one’s fortitude.  There are three basic variations of the plank, and the easiest is to rest on your knees rather than stretch out your whole body and rest on your toes.  The second easiest is to support your upper body on your forearms, while the hardest of all is to be in a push-up position with all one’s weight on your toes and hands.  Right now, I can hold this position for one minute only ~ which is a bit pathetic really.

~

The Warrior.  This should be so easy, trust me, it isn’t.  The warrior pose stretches and strengthens the legs and core muscles of the body.  For me it also works the arms and shoulders.  More than that, this is the one position that should be so easy that I want to do it properly and elegantly.  Where that gets difficult is the whole being straight, having one’s belly and backside tight, steadiness and ease thing.  The lady in the picture looks a bit wimpy because her right arm is dropping.

Right now I only use these five positions, and the list above is in the order I do this stuff.  I hold each position for as long as I can, and that varies from 5 minutes per position, to less than a minute, depending on the pose and how I’m feeling that day.  And, again depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll probably run through all five positions a couple or maybe even three times.

However, there are stacks more great yoga positions, and if you really want to learn about yoga, then I should strongly suggest that you take a proper class, there will be one near you.  There are even a bunch of good online yoga classes.  (I took one actual class at my local gym, once, and never went back ~ but that’s just me).  Who knows, you may find yourself alongside some fit, supple, young women.  Who will probably make you feel totally inadequate.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Effective Time Management

Procrastination is the foundation of all disasters.

You can grasp the important essentials of effective time management in 20 minutes ~ living with it, really using your time wisely and to your own best advantage, well that takes a little more work.

So, just what is this time management thing?   Effective time management ~ it’s all about making a little go a long way.  It’s about improving the way in which you use the 86,400 seconds you get every single day.  Time management is about doing away with; displacement activities, delay, deviation, distractions, hesitation, indecision, indulgence, procrastination, repetition, sloth, stress, tardiness, and waste.

I am definitely going to take a course on time management… just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.  ~  Louis E. Boone.

Effective time management is all about doing the important things, at the right time, and spending the right amount of time on them.  Like everything good and important in life, effective time management is also about control, restraint, and self-discipline.  What time management is not about is making certain that you are doing the right things ~ that’s something else entirely, something we will talk about at a later date.

You already know the basic techniques for effective time management, it’s just that you never use them.  So here’s what you should do, from now on, every single damn day.

  1. Make a list.  Start with a to-do list.  These are the things you should / must / want to do today.  (Actually, tomorrow, because you should start writing your to-do list the night before.)  You can even buy a ready-made to-do list App, packed with colourful features and supposed benefits.  Don’t bother to waste your time and money.  Get a notebook, or just some sheets of paper, and write down what you need to do.  You can use different colours for different categories or importance of tasks if you like.  Personally, I merely number things, in order of importance.
  2. Cross tasks off your list only when they’re completely done and tangibly, measurably delivered, and then forget all about them and move onto the next task with a clear mind.
  3. Do the worst / most unpleasant / most important things first.  Getting the nasty stuff out-of-the-way early in the day makes the rest of the day both easier and much more enjoyable.
  4. Make more lists.  These extra lists are for sub-tasks.  For example your to-do list may say ‘do grocery shopping’ ~ so you need a shopping list, (never, never, ever go into a store without a list of what you want / need / would like to buy).
  5. Break big and unwieldy tasks down into smaller and more manageable bits.  This is called chunking, and it can be used in all kinds of situations.
  6. Keep a journal.  As well as writing down what has happened and how you feel about it, you can also use your journal as a detailed day planner, and as a place to plan and manage future events / tasks / projects.  Properly used a journal will stop you turning up for things unprepared / on the wrong day / without your passport.
  7. Avoid meaningless distractions.  These come in all kinds of shapes, but the most insidious and pointless time-wasting evil right now is social media.  If you use social media at work, or first thing in the morning, or last thing at night, or during your lunch break, then stop it.  You are just wasting time while turning your brain into mouldy dough.
  8. Take regular breaks.  Just sitting at your desk for 4, 6, 8, 10, or 12 hours a day is not the way to be productive.  Worse than that, sitting at your desk for long periods is literally killing you.
  9. Get plenty of good quality sleep.  If you are tired and irritable you are also unfocused and unproductive.
  10. Develop good regular habits.  If you can run part of your day on auto-pilot, if doing some routine essential tasks becomes a habit, you are saving a hell of a lot of time and mental energy for the really difficult stuff.
  11. Learn how to say NO!  Agreeing to things that are unimportant / meaningless / we don’t want to do anyway, uses up a huge amount of our time, mental effort, and spiritual energies.  Along with that, drop people who waste your life and suck up your energies.
  12. Multi-task the routine stuff.  For example, prepare dinner while the bath is running, and let it cook while you’re soaking away the aches and pains of the day.  But be wary, multi-tasking doesn’t work for important stuff.

And then there is the tricky and oh so important number 13.

13. STOP DICKING AROUND.  There a billion things you could do instead of actually doing the stuff you really want to do, should do, need to do, absolutely must do.  Recently I read where a guy got sacked for spending all day at work looking at internet porn on his cell phone ~ if that’s not a definition of dicking around then I don’t know what is.

All of this is pretty much common sense, actually you knew most of this already, so why aren’t you using these good practices?  Probably because you’ve been lazy, lacking in self-discipline, or you think that ordinary rules and good advice don’t apply to you.  Well, let me tell you, little sister, you’d better shape up if you want that good quality, rewarding, spiritual, healthy life you’ve been promising yourself.

Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.  ~  Pablo Picasso

Procrastination doesn’t cut it.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Walking Meditation

Through meditation the higher self is experienced.

True health and fitness can only be experienced and enjoyed when the body, mind, and spirit are all in balance.  You cannot be healthy in one part of your being, if you are not healthy in all.

You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body.  ~  Juvenal

To be truly fit and healthy one must exercise, take care of, and nurture all aspects of our being.  Although physical health is deeply connected to mental and emotional health, I believe there is little point in just ‘hitting the gym’ because all that is likely to do is strengthen our body at the expense of our mind and spirit.  I firmly believe that to balance our body, mind, and soul we need to incorporate an integrated health regime into the totality of our lives.

When people tell me they can’t afford to join a gym, I tell them to go outside; planet Earth is a gym and we’re already members.  Walk, run, climb, sweat, and enjoy all of the natural wonder that is available to you.  ~  Steve Maraboli.

One of the activities I use to balance the physical, mental, and spiritual parts of my being is to get out into the sunshine and fresh air for a couple of hours brisk walk every day.  Walking is excellent exercise, but more than that I can also practice walking meditation.

When I was much younger I thought that meditation was weird, nonsensical, even ‘girly’.  But back then I also thought that prayer, self-discovery, spirituality, and yoga were also distinctly odd.  These days I embrace all of these good practices ~ although I still don’t consciously pray to a ‘God’.  With maturity I have begun to understand that these are methods by which I can know myself and become an emotionally healthy man.  To be truly healthy we all need to get outdoors for at least an hour every day.  We all need to exercise our own mind and spirit if we are going to escape from the fortress prison we have built for ourselves.

If there was a mature and peaceful woodland nearby I would take my daily walks there, enjoying forest bathing, what the Japanese call shinrin-yoku.  This is a meditative and spiritual activity that is known to improve one’s mindfulness.  Trees are well-known to possess healing powers.

However, in the here and now of my life it is more appropriate that I take my daily walk by the sea, under the open and  ever-changing sky.  Both the sea and the clouds are peaceful, they help me to experience serenity and mindfulness.  The clouds fire my imagination.  The sea is a primeval and primordial force of nature, a part of the Mother Goddess to which all things return at the end of days.

Walking meditation is an easy thing to do ~ providing one is not distracted by everyday activities.  I don’t use my cell-phone on my meditative walks, I don’t use my camera when I’m in a meditative state, I walk alone, and I don’t talk with anyone ~ as a matter of fact I don’t even notice other people.  Walking meditation is a peaceful part of my life where I can be in touch with the more enlightened part of myself.  Time and space cease to exist in the normal way, the world becomes fully open for me to explore in my mind, I become open to appreciate all things with acceptance and understanding.

The secret to walking meditation is to get outside, on your own, and walk in nature for a while ~ an hour or more is good.  Empty your mind of all immediate concerns.  But most of all, walk.

Even if you have to walk fast for 30 minutes, five days a week, by all means do so.  Never make excuses to why you don’t have time to work out.  Your body deserves to enjoy the taste of a good health.  Never settle for less.  ~  Edmond Mbiaka.

Obviously, just taking a walk each day isn’t enough exercise to keep me fit and healthy.  Walking does little for strength and mobility.  For that I practice yoga.  I used to believe that yoga was the sole preserve of incredibly fit and supple young women, but then I learned that yoga is also for men like me.  Done properly, yoga will improve your health and fitness in body, mind, and spirit.  Done properly, yoga for men hurts a little bit.  If it feels right, you can incorporate yoga into your daily walk.

We can experience so much, appreciate so much, and understand so much, if we are brave enough to open our minds to the wonders of the Cosmos.

I enjoin you; get outside into the fresh air, and walk.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Never being sorry

Sorry is not enough ~ sometimes you have to change.

What is a real and genuine apology?  It’s an acknowledgement and acceptance that one has done something wrong.  An apology is also an acceptance and acknowledgement of responsibility for the hurt one has caused, and a pledge to change one’s ways in the future.  A real and genuine apology is an expression of guilt, regret, remorse, and a pledge to try harder to do better in the future.  A real and genuine apology is not merely a platitude in order to placate the aggrieved party.

Feeling guilty is not a substitute for loving somebody; it is only an indicator that you have failed to love somebody.  ~  Clifford Cohen.

Sometimes just saying that you’re sorry will not do.  Ofttimes an apology is only an empty gesture made to ‘keep the peace’.  Sometimes the things that we do and say, the books we read, the movies we like, the people we listen to, sometimes these things reveal a deeper truth and our glib apologies are shown for the fatuous banalities they so often are.  An oft quoted line from John Wayne movies is; ‘Never apologise, mister, it’s a sign of weakness…’  A greater truth would have been if his character had said; ‘Never apologise, mister, it’s meaningless…’

If we are truly dedicated to the truth, and if we have good inside us, then we should never need to apologise, because we will never do anything so bad that we need to say ‘sorry…’  However, we Englishmen are prone to apologise, to say sorry all the time.  If you tread on my toe, I will naturally say sorry.  If you barge into me because you’re not looking where you’re going, I will naturally say sorry.  Any English Gentleman of my generation has been brought up to be polite, to always show exemplary manners, to show women and girls the utmost respect.  To mind one’s language, never swear in front of women and children, to be careful of the topics we discuss for fear of giving offence.  And, an Englishman should never, ever, talk about; God, women we have ‘known’, how much money we make, and politics ~ not even with our closest friends.  Englishmen regard politicians with utter contempt, and we extend that contempt to anyone who dares to lecture us on religion, or political matters, or how to make money, or how to be successful with women, or what the English do ‘wrong’.

A side effect of the English ideal of ‘Good Manners’ is that we look askance at most American men, and would rather not include any boorish American men in our circle of friends.  The average Englishman doesn’t think the average American guy is a ‘good person’.  Sometimes this means that even a cool, calm, patiently understanding Englishman will get angry with Americans.  Recently we Englishmen have been quite annoyed / furious at Clinton, (both of them), Obama, Trump, Meryl Streep, and anyone who dares to lecture us about terrorism on English soil. Conversely, of English politicians we like Boris Johnson, (whom most Americans dislike intensely).

 In order to rise from its own ashes, a phoenix must first burn.  ~  Octavia E. Butler.

If an Englishman does get angry, then usually, after a while, his innate ‘good common-sense’ returns like a phoenix rising from the ashes, and he will attempt to rebuild burned bridges, to forgive and forget, to understand and accept.  Disagreeing with the things people say, and then getting angry about it, is not the mark of a good man.  There is a saying; ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the Death your right to say it…’  Voltaire I think.  I prefer the pithier and more honest; ‘You’re right, but I don’t agree…’  We may have to dig deep, but a real English Gentleman will eventually find the fountain of good within himself.

Look within.  Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up if thou wilt ever dig.  ~  Marcus Aurelius

I may like, care about, and respect some people in spite of their opinions, the things they do, the things they have done, and the things they are planning to do ~ even if I am hurt or profoundly disagree with their opinions and actions.  After all, I cannot change what happens to me, I can only change how I respond and react.  It matters not one iota whether another person ever feels the need to apologise when they have clearly been wrong and hurtful ~ after all, one should never apologise, it’s meaningless.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

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