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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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…

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.
 

View from house.JPG

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.

If We Were Having Coffee… What’s Next Is Now

If we were having coffee, I’d say that moving to a new area where you don’t know anybody can be a challenge and moving to a new country even more so. Although my Spanish is reasonable, there can still be a language and cultural barrier at times which can be frustrating, but that’s part and parcel of moving to a new country. There are inevitable a few downsides, however there are also enormous advantages and fundamentally, this is the choice we have made and we are very happy in our ‘new’ home in the south of Spain.

 

One of the most challenging things about moving to a new place where you don’t know anybody is getting to know people and socially ‘starting again’ which can be both a hugely exciting and challenging prospect. We’ve made a few (Spanish and English-speaking) friends in the 18 months we have been here which has been lovely, although sometimes there are good days and bad days, but that’s life and happens wherever you are regardless of your location.

 

Moving to Andalucia has been a dream for such a long time and now we have realised it, I’ve recently been struggling to see what’s ‘next’, but the more I think about it, the more it seems to become clear that the ‘next thing’ is in fact now. Right in front of me. Really obvious perhaps, but there you go. I got round to it eventually. In my own time.

 

So, unlike other times when I’ve looked beyond now and today in favour of a supposedly more exciting and interesting tomorrow, I’m choosing who I am, where I am and with who I am here and now. Maybe there are benefits in getting older after all.

 

And now I know that what’s next is now, I wonder what’s next?

 

The Smiths never wrote a song called ‘What’s Next Is Now’, but they did write the glorious ‘How Soon Is Now’. Enjoy…

 


 

The title of this post is from something I saw on Suzie81Speaks. The ‘If We Were Having Coffee’ series was created by Part Time Monster. Share your coffee posts on Twitter every Saturday with #WeekendCoffeeShare

How To Get Away From The Noise?

After living in London for 17 years, my wife and I decided to move to Granada in the south of Spain in 2014 to get ‘away from the noise’. Most people assume that the ‘noise’ was the urban-ness of the millions of people and the traffic chaos of the big city and to some extent that’s true, however in reality, it was more about the noise of our lives in general.

We just wanted to slow things down and have more time and space to travel, breathe, think and just be. And live in the sunshine and glory of Granada and the south of Spain of course.

It sometimes feels that our lives here have changed beyond recognition and yet at times, it also feels like it hasn’t changed at all as we of course still do ‘normal’ things like the laundry and the weekly shopping. However, one of the most fundamental changes is that Mrs Away From The Noise and I have more time here for our individual selves to pursue our own interests and also for each other.

Seychelles-Island

In hindsight, I’ve always enjoyed being ‘somewhere else’ in my ongoing search to get away from the noise and have regularly mentally, emotionally and physically escaped to places of tranquility because they are beautiful places to be, however I also learnt a long time ago that escaping or changing your geography is not the solution to whatever may trouble you. The usual insecurities and problems tend to follow you. They won’t change unless you do. Wherever and whoever you are, this is an ongoing battle.

Getting ‘away from the noise’ has meant that I now have time to do things I enjoy including songwriting, travelling, teaching English, exploring new interests such as minimalism and writing two blogs Cortado Ingles and this one.

As for the origin of the blog name, I’ve been writing songs for a number of years and a common theme has been wanting to be ‘somewhere else’ and the name ‘Away From The Noise’ has also been around for some time as a potential song title. So when I was looking for a name for this blog, it not only seemed to fit from a sound and meaning perspective, but it also felt like a part of me as it had been with me for a while. Since starting the blog in October 2014, I also find myself learning a lot, both as a part of writing, editing and publishing and also from other bloggers in the community.

In fact, the more I write on the blog, the more I learn about the benefits of being present and living in the moment as opposed to being or wanting to be elsewhere.

So, there you go, that’s the origin of the blog name and why I enjoy writing this blog.

I hope you find it gets you away from the noise too…

This post was written in response to the WordPress Daily Prompt as part of Blogging101 challenge.

Gothic Gin And Tonic With A Bit Of Verdi

As you know, this blog is called Away From The Noise and if you’ve read it before you’ll know that among other things, I like getting away from the noise by hanging out in cafes, listening to music, writing music/blogs and simply walking around Granada in the sunshine (it’s 34 Celsius / 93 Fahrenheit today – so, rather lovely and sunny).

But as it’s the weekend, I thought I’d do something else and as I was flicking through another blog I have Cortado Inglés which is more specifically about living in Granada/Spain, I found a post from last year called My New Favourite Gin Palace In Granada.

Verdi chandelierFortunately, this fabulous gin bar is less than a minute’s walk from my flat in the city centre and other than the fantastic gin cocktails, what I love most about this bar (which is called Verdi) is the rather sumptuously decorated neo-gothic interior which upon entering immediately transports you to another time and place and makes it so easy to simply get away from whatever noise you have in your life or in your head. So, this is where I’m going this weekend.

I know some people go to the beach, others read, do sport or hang out in their garden, but when things are getting a bit much and you need to clear your head or get some space, what do you do or where do you go?

The Spontaneous Sound Of Summer

Have you ever heard a song on the radio, Spotify or wherever when it seems to be the perfect moment for you to have heard it? As a big music fan, I love discovering new songs and every now and again I unexpectedly get the chance to rediscover something I’d forgotten about.

I love walking around in Granada listening to music and yesterday doing just that, a song came up on Spotify that I hadn’t heard for about 15 years and it made me smile so much. Not only because I hadn’t heard it in such a long time and felt like I had discovered a ‘new’ song, but also because it felt like the perfect moment to be listening to it while walking around this lovely city in the sunshine.

The song is ‘Such A Sound’ by Birdie, an English indie pop band. You would think that listening to a band with such an English summery guitar pop sound would not work in the heart of southern Spain and yet, it works beautifully. When I heard it yesterday, it somehow felt like the perfect soundtrack and is now without question, the sound of my impending summer.

Birdie

Birdie

In a world which can often be full of negative energy, when such spontaneous moments of joy come into our lives, it’s important and perhaps even vital to appreciate them while they are around as they are often fleeting. I often find these moments in music, but everyone has their own way of experiencing this joy. Maybe it’s reading, writing, cycling, working, cooking, swimming or gardening, but whatever it is, it’s lovely to have.

If it’s been a while since you’ve experienced that sense of spontaneous joy, maybe you could make some time to perhaps artificially do so today as a gentle reminder of how happy it can make you.

Anyway, here’s the video for ‘Such A Sound’ by Birdie. Hope you like it.


Read my other music-related posts

How To Celebrate The Sunshine

How Headphones Can Enrich Your Life
Songs That Take You By Surprise