coffee-cyrano

Nothing Like A Coffee And Some Time

I’m sitting on a lovely, ever-so-slightly battered brown sofa in my favourite bar (Cafe Cyrano) in Almería, my recently adopted ‘big city’, listening to my new favourite album (‘Hey Mr Ferryman’ by Mark Eitzel) with a cortado coffee and an orange juice.

Lovely & slightly battered old sofa

I’ve just put my car in for a service. Not a big deal for most people, but not having owned a car until recently, it feels like a strangely grown up thing to be doing. I dropped the car off at 9.30am and am told it will be 3 hours, so I’ve popped into the city to mooch around and am really enjoying it as it’s not something I can really do in the village where I now live.

I’ve been walking around for a while enjoying the buzzy morning atmosphere of a working day here. As with many cities, there are lots of ‘things to do’ here, some of which I’ve done and others that I will do, but as is often the case, I find myself doing a similar thing ie ‘not very much’ to some people.

But the joy I get from simply sitting in a bar with a coffee, listening to music on headphones, writing, reading and reflecting on nothing in particular is immeasurable.

Some people these days might call this being mindful. I don’t know why doing this works for me and maybe it’s best I don’t know, so in the meantime, I’ll just enjoy the positive and calming energy it gives me.

Hope you’re having a good day too…

leonard-cohen

Bring It On…

I haven’t posted here for a while. Not for any particular reason. It just kind of happened and maybe we need time away from things or even people to reflect and appreciate them more when they come back. I always wanted this blog to be about rallying against the negativity and cynicism in the world by seeing and appreciating the positive that is in the smallest things. Today I felt the need to post…

 

I can’t believe that given my privileged position that I’m saying this, but I haven’t been happy recently. One of the primary reasons is that I got annoyed and frustrated by something somebody said and after much dwelling on this, it became a thing. Or more to the point, I let it become a thing until it sapped my energy to the point where I couldn’t see anything else for a while. And then over the last couple of days, I have been lucky enough to have been in touch with close friends I have and new friends who I have only known for a short time and the lovely thing is that I have realised that I am happy. And very much so.
 

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View from my house

There will always be negative people saying negative things in the world and at this moment in time, politically the world is going through some major changes which are worrying. And yet, I feel I’m coming through the other side of this fog through which I’ve been navigating of late to see clearly how lucky we are and how lucky I am. There’s a lot in the world to rally against, but perhaps

 

if we focus more on what positive contribution we can make to the world, then the naysayers and the negative world they live in, can be beaten.

 

I sit writing this in my new studio (aka converted garage) listening to records which I have recently rediscovered and albums which I have always loved. My lovely wife Mrs Cortado and our recently adopted dog Grace are asleep in the warmth of the house next door – it may be the south of Spain, but it still gets chilly at night in November – and I’m listening to Joni Mitchell and reflecting on where we really are today.

 

We moved to the magnificent city of Granada in the south of Spain three years ago and almost six months ago, moved to where we live now, a tiny village in the province of Almeria, still in the south of Spain, which is unquestionably an outstandingly beautiful part of the world. One of the wonderful things about saying that sentence is that I/we always hoped of living ‘abroad’ and after some time in Italy, we chose Spain and love our life here. It’s not perfect. Nothing is. But the good far outweighs the bad. For example, we live in a beautiful place, have met some very kind and friendly people since we came here and are now lucky enough to have some close friends.
 

Grace Standing (1)

Grace

We loved our life in London, but we left at a time that was right for us and now that life seems like such a long time ago. We have worked to have the life that we have and though at times, it can be a challenge, I appreciate the incredible opportunity that this experience is. Some people are not open to change as it can be difficult, however I can now see that some people never want to or are simply too afraid to change and maybe that works for them. However, as a result of recent experiences, I am now reminding myself not to permit others negative filters and perspectives to distort my choices and also to have more faith in my own decisions.

 

I am hugely thankful for our life and every day, we still look at each other as if we have somehow moved into some other parallel time continuum and are living someone else’s life. But as each day passes, I see this is our life now and after nearly three years away from the ‘normality’ of our almost twenty-year old London lives, this is now the new normal and London has become the distant, strange, exotic place which is nice to visit for a few days, but then you want to get back home. In my twenties, I never thought I would say that, but I’m now in my late forties and it feels perfectly natural.

 

We’ve recently had some work done on the house that is coming to an end and the changes have made living here feel quite different and in an incredibly positive way. Perhaps it wouldn’t be that big a deal to many, but they feel more significant. It’s not just that I have my new studio, the whole place has more of a Zen feel with more space and natural light and it’s almost as if we are starting a new chapter of our lives in our ‘new’ house.
 

And so, although over the past few weeks, I have felt somewhat distant from our life here, finding the smallest things frustrating and also missing the urban-ness of the city, reflecting on recent experiences and especially sitting here now listening to the recently released late and incredibly great Leonard Cohen album – which is wonderful – I feel so much stronger to be able to deal with whatever comes my/our way.

 

bruce-lee

 

So now I say, bring on the naysayers and bring on the negativity. Like Bruce Lee said – be like the water. And if it worked for Bruce Lee, I’m happy with that too.
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Be Yourself And Loudly

I have always enjoyed reading self-help-type articles including the multitude of lists that comes with them, however, I’ve recently found myself questioning their validity. Of course, the will is good and by all means, read what you feel you need to read, but isn’t every ’10 Ways To Be More Productive Beyond Your Wildest Dreams’ post you read ironically keeping you one step further from getting you to where you want to be while you’re trying to assimilate yet another list into your life? And in truth, how efficient and productive do you really need to be?

What’s stopping you being brave? What’s stopping you giving your own voice the chance to be heard above the white noise of the world? If you’re always reading information about how to do things well, that can be a good thing for a while, but when do you actually start doing the thing you want to do? Whatever your field of interest may be, what’s stopping you daring to have the confidence to follow your own path and contribute something of quality to help the world? It could be music, art, photography, a book, a good day at work, volunteering at a charity, spending time with your family, gardening, cycling or starting a business. It doesn’t matter what it is that you do as long as it’s your thing.

What do you really want to happen after putting yourself out there? Maybe millions will read, listen, appreciate or acknowledge what you have done. And maybe they won’t. Maybe people will love you. And maybe they won’t. But when you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you really need to do or say today? Now even? So much so that it would physically hurt you if you didn’t?

And of course, feel free to think that this is just another post full of white noise. That’s your prerogative. I would much rather you make your own noise. Be yourself. And loudly. Contribute something of quality to help the world. This is one of the ways I do what I need to do. What’s yours?

Feature image by Sebastiao Salgado

Flower Green

The Lost Art Of Being Positive

What are you doing right now?
As opposed to
What are you not doing?

Are you enjoying reading a book and relaxing?
As opposed to
Wasting time when you could be being much more productive?

Are you talking to a friend about an issue you may have with them?
As opposed to
Not doing so and letting any potential issues fester?

Are you focusing on what is actually happening?
As opposed to
What could be, but may not in fact be happening?

How would you prefer to spend your time with the mental and emotional energy you have?

Would you rather focus on the positive elements of any given situation?
As opposed to
Choosing to focus on the negative?

And note, it is a choice.

What is it giving or even costing you focusing on what may go wrong as opposed to what may go right?

Have you not spent time with somebody who does that? If so, how did you feel? Inspired? Or simply much more depressed than you were before you’d seen them?

It may not be easy at times and of course, I’m not saying that we can will things to be good, but wouldn’t it be worth the effort and be better for ourselves and everybody around us to focus on what we can change as opposed to what we can’t? On what good there is or could be in a situation as opposed to what bad there is or could be?

In a world of seemingly fashionable and infinitely easy cynicism and negativity, let’s make a choice together to be brave enough to stand out from the crowd and focus on the good things or even what could just potentially be good as opposed to the negative alternative. It wouldn’t just be better for you, but for everybody around you and that would be a good place to be for all of us, wouldn’t it?

Feature image by Christian Widell/Unsplash

Child Playing

I’m So Bored Of Goals

I’ve always been a great believer in the power of setting goals as they really help focus your mind on where you want to be and what you want to achieve in your life. 

However recently I’ve been thinking a great deal about now. This very moment. And as each second passes, yes, we could be one step closer to our goals, but achieving that is in the future and not now, so in truth we are also losing opportunities to live now, where we are physically, emotionally, spiritually and psychologically.

We cannot control the past as it’s been and gone and although our society seems transfixed on living and achieving things in our futures, it hasn’t happened yet and we have limited control over it. What is happening now, at this very moment, is surely more important than preparing for a tomorrow that in truth may never arrive.

Mrs Away From The Noise and I recently got a dog (Grace) and it has been a tremendous learning curve, as well as being fun, however one of the things I’ve noticed most about Grace is how in the moment she is. Nothing exists beyond now. It’s a wisdom which pets and children instinctively share and is something I’m quite envious of at times.

Clearly, there is a time and place for goals in our lives, but I just wanted to highlight the importance of being aware of and enjoying who we are, who we are with and what we are doing right now. While we still have the chance…

Feature image by Cengizahn Konuş/Unsplash
Image of Grace below by Mrs Away From The Noise

Grace Standing (1)

Grace being wise… and just a bit cute… 

 

 

Image by Paul Skorupskas https://unsplash.com/pawelskor

Como Ser Un Realista Más Positivo

Ayer yo estaba en un bar de Granada escuchando una conversación entre dos amigos.

Uno de ellos decía
“No me gusta  este compañero de trabajo, pues no puedo trabajar con él. Va a ser una semana imposible.”

Hay gente que dice ‘No soy cínico o negativo, soy realista’ y tal vez es verdad pero de hecho, ¿qué cosas realistas dicen estas personas? Puedo imaginar la conversación entre estos dos amigos que podrían tener en el mismo bar a finales de la semana que viene.

El ‘realista’
“¡Que semana he tenido!. ¡Ha sido imposible! Sabía que no podía trabajar con este compañero. ¿Te lo dije, no?”

O algo así.

El amigo realista está cansado después de una semana difícil y enfadado con su compañero pero por lo menos, él puede culpar de todo a esta persona. No tiene que tomar sobre sí mismo la responsabilidad de su vida. Al final, era verdad que no podía trabajar con el compañero  y tal vez, si, tenía razón, pero ¿cuál es el precio de tener razón en este caso?

Si tuviera una actitud diferente, digamos más positiva, ¿qué diría?

El realista antes de que comience la semana
“Es verdad que podría gustarme más  este compañero, pero tenemos que trabajar juntos esta semana, pues voy a intentar  sacar el mayor provecho de esta situación. Quizás, ¡podría aprender algo!”

¿Es diferente, no? La situación es exactamente igual pero la actitud es completamente diferente y claro está que  no hay garantías de que vaya a pasar pero la probabilidad es que cuando transcurra la semana, la conversación podría ser así:

El realista más positivo
“Podría haber sido una semana imposible esta semana pero aunque no seamos amigos, trabajamos bien juntos y de hecho, he aprendido algo de él porque tiene experiencias diferentes.”

Es como estar hablando de otras personas en otra situación, ¿no?

Sin embargo esta vez vez lo único que ha cambiado es su actitud y su lenguaje, ahora  ambos son más positivos. Más realistas y positivos.

No tenemos que reformular todo lo que decimos en positivo. Me gustaría tener 1.85 m de altura pero eso no va a ocurrir. Tengo que ser realista. Esto no puedo cambiar. Pero la cuestión de cada día es ¿cuánto soy de realista? Yo prefiero  ser un realista más positivo.

Sé que puede ser difícil pero si se usan palabras positivas en lugar de negativas, la situación puede cambiar en algo más positivo. Por ejemplo:

Negativo
– No voy a poder nunca hablar otro idioma con fluidez. No soy capaz de aprender idiomas.

Mientras, la misma situación con un actitud más positiva:
– Tal vez algún día podré hablar mejor este idioma. Será un reto y voy a intentar hablar más en intercambios  para mejorar mi idioma . Voy a valorar el progreso que hago.

Es importante coger control de tu situación y no ser una víctima de uno mismo que no puede ayudarse. Tu vida es tu responsabilidad. Es demasiado importante para culpar o dar esta responsabilidad a otro.

Pues, ¿qué es más importante?

¿tener razón porque has predicho ¿? una semana terrible?,

¿ dar la responsabilidad de tu vida y tu felicidad a otra persona que no te gusta?

O decirse al final de la semana que has tenido una semana difícil  pero has aprendido algo.

Finalmente, ¿quejarse porque no puedes hacer nada?

¿O cambiar tu actitud en positivo e intentar hacer una cosa que quieres hacer?

¿Qué opción es más positiva?

¿Qué opción preferirías?

Sé cuál elegiría yo.

¿Y tú?

 

World Of Dust

World Of Dust

Other than writing blog posts, hanging out in Spanish cafes and my new dog, my primary passion in life has been making music. For many years, writing songs on my old acoustic guitar and in the last few years, I’ve also been using my laptop. My latest project is called Pearl Viper and the mOnk and in January, we released our first EP ‘Immortal’.

Like all Pearl Viper and the mOnk tracks, ‘World Of Dust’ came about after listening to one of teapotmOnk’s ‘Empty Your Cup’ podcasts. In this post is new artwork for the song based on a photo taken round the corner from our studio. What do you think?

We will also be posting each new title on our Facebook page (with accompanying artwork) each week when we are not also working on our new video for the first song from the EP ‘Right Now’ at Viper Studios.

As someone with an interest in Eastern philosophies and taoism in particular, I’ve always liked the idea that we are merely dust in the wind. We are born, we live our lives and we die. The much more important world does its thing around us while it gives us temporary permission to take up some space, live and make our own contribution to the world.

TeapotmOnk says:
“Dust is everything that holds back that drop of pure spirit within each of us from riding a boundless wave of energy, from wandering between crossing paths, from delighting in spontaneity and moon light and laughing to the rhythm of music in the wind.”

I wanted the sound of ‘World Of Dust’ to be quite primeval, hence the heavy percussion throughout the track. It was also a nod to Burundi drumming and my childhood heroes, the very drum-friendly Kings of the Wild Frontier period Adam and the Ants.

You could even say that Pearl Viper and the mOnk literally have our own world of dust not far from Viper Studios in the desert of Almeria in the south of Spain. However, it’s the awareness of the metaphorical dust which helps us to live better lives, isn’t it?

Jason (Pearl Viper) & Paul (teapotmOnk)

‘World Of Dust’ is the second song on the new ‘Now’ EP of Taoist-inspired songs by Pearl Viper and the mOnk which will be on Spotify, Itunes, Apple Music and all online download/streaming outlets in May 2016.

In case you haven’t seen or heard any of the songs on the ‘Immortal’ EP which came out in January, you can do just that via the links on the Pearl Viper Facebook page.