How To Be Excited

On a coach trip to Seville recently, a young (7-ish year-old) boy clambered up onto to the seat next to me. He asked to sit by the window and then urgently proceeded to rub his nose against it to see what was outside. He was excited. Really excited. With lots of exclamation marks!!! I had no idea why. Maybe he was looking for something. Maybe he was expecting to see his favourite footballer walk by. It doesn’t really matter. It struck me just how excited he was at that moment.

This experience just got me thinking about how we sometimes lose that feeling as we get older. Perhaps inevitably we don’t have as many ‘first-time’ experiences any more, but from time to time we do and most people just don’t seem to get too excited about it. Maybe we just don’t express it as openly as we did as children. We develop more inhibitions over time. Or some people just don’t jump up and down as much when they hear good news. That’s neither good nor bad, it’s just the way it is, but how we express it is not important. We do it the way we do it. But actually experiencing that sense of excitement is my point here. So when was the last time you were really excited? So much that you couldn’t sleep the night before?

And so you know, the boy’s mother was in the seat in front of me on the coach. She told me that she had no idea what he was looking for either but that he just liked looking out of the window when they travelled. So, it looks like he was simply excited about all the possibly amazing things that he could see looking out of a coach window. This could have included his favourite footballer or some sheep. That was it. Looking out of a window. Perhaps, there’s something in that for us all…

Feature image photo by Henrique Ferreira on Unsplash

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Sky Full Of Morning Stars

It’s 6am on the first day of November and quite dark outside. I couldn’t sleep and so I tiptoed through the house so as not to wake Mrs Cortado and our dog Grace to go outside and get my phone which I’d left in the car. On my way back, I promptly dropped it (clearly no coffee yet having an impact) and happened to look up to see an incredible sky full of stars.

I’d never really thought about there being stars in the morning and don’t ever remember seeing them at this time of the morning, but of course one of the lovely things about living in this part of the countryside in southern Spain is that there is no light pollution and so the darkness of the sky is beautifully and very brightly illuminated by thousands of stars. And all you have to do is drop something to see it…

Just think, if I didn’t drop things, I wonder what else I’d miss noticing?

Photo by sergio souza on Unsplash
(I tried to take a picture this morning, but there’s only so much you can do with an Iphone. I much preferred this shot.)

Do Your Work And Then, Step Back

A while ago, I spent a few months travelling across the USA and one of my favourite places was the rather laidback city of Portland, Oregon. There is a thriving food, art, music and craft beer scene and it’s also renowned for its slightly hippyness. What’s not to like?

Maybe I could sense something in the air, but it was while wandering around this wonderful city that I started thinking about the words ‘Do your work and then step back’ by Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism.

From my point of view, everything gets done and works well in Portland but there seems to be this wonderful consciousness there that whatever you are doing, your intention is to do it well even if it takes a little longer and this includes everything from working on one of the infamous (and rather fabulous) food trucks to making coffee which is practically an art form there.

Yes of course, there are the overly pretentious, hipster places as depicted in TV comedy Portlandia, but it’s even the ‘regular Joe’ coffee shops where there is a sense of pride in everyday work. Community is very important there and after only a few days you really notice it. Portland has a downtown/centre, but the heart of the city is not there, but in the thriving centre of each local neighbourhood.

One of the barmen I met there said one night: ‘The slower you chill the ice, the fewer bubbles you get and you have clear ice’
or as I interpreted it:
‘The more slowly and mindfully you live your life, the fewer obstacles there are and so, the clearer things become.’

Being in Portland reminded me of the benefits of being more conscious and mindful of things you do each day, however small they may seem. It doesn’t have to take time, just a momentary awareness and focus on what you’re doing. A kind of mindful meditation I guess.

It was lovely hanging out in Portland and I can see why people want to live there. It’s a quietly inspirational place which encourages you to do your own thing in your own way whatever that may be. Again, what’s not to like?

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…

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?

 

Do Your Thing, Then Step Back

I recently spent a few months travelling across the USA and one of my favourite places was the rather laidback city of Portland, Oregon. There is a thriving food, art, music and craft beer scene and it’s also renowned for its slightly hippyness. What’s not to like?

Maybe I could sense something in the air, but it was while wandering around this wonderful city that I started thinking about the words ‘Do your work and then step back’ by Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism. 

From my point of view, everything gets done and works well in Portland but there seems to be this wonderful consciousness there that whatever you are doing, your intention is to do it well even if it takes a little longer and this includes everything from working on one of the infamous (and rather fabulous) food trucks to making coffee which is practically an art form there.

Yes of course, there are the overly pretentious, hipster places as depicted in TV comedy Portlandia, but it’s even the ‘regular Joe’ coffee shops where there is a sense of pride in everyday work. Community is very important there and after only a few days you really notice it. Portland has a downtown/centre, but the heart of the city is not there, but in the thriving centre of each local neighbourhood.

One of the barmen I met there said one night: ‘The slower you chill the ice, the fewer bubbles you get and you have clear ice’
or as I interpreted it:
‘The more slowly and mindfully you live your life, the fewer obstacles there are and so, the clearer things become.’

Being in Portland reminded me of the benefits of being more conscious and mindful of things you do each day, however small they may seem. It doesn’t have to take time, just a momentary awareness and focus on what you’re doing. A kind of mindful meditation I guess.

It was lovely hanging out in Portland and I can see why people want to live there. It’s a quietly inspirational place which encourages you to do your own thing in your own way whatever that may be. Again, what’s not to like?

Been A While…

Some of you may have noticed that this blog has been quiet for a few months. This because I went travelling across Spain, the USA and Cuba for a few months. Mrs Away From The Noise and I had an incredible time and now we’re back home in Granada settling back into everyday life again.

While I was away, I continued podcasting and posting, however after a while, I sensed the need to just be wherever I was and enjoy the experience without writing about it at the time. That was right for then, however I did make notes and take pictures on the way, so from now on I will be incorporating some of this into future posts.

It’s the end of the year and I hope you have had a good one. And if not, I hope that 2016 will be full of joy and opportunity for you. Thanks for reading my blog and for sticking around while I’ve been away. It’s always greatly appreciated. I’m looking forward to writing more posts, reading more blogs and more importantly, connecting with all my readers again.

Happy New Year!