Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Could be me


 

Today I was teased for the very last time

And I ran from the room to write down this rhyme

To capture the hurt and to capture the shame
That I felt when I heard the crowd call out my name

You’re so noisy they said, you talk far too much
You mean well, we know, but it’s always a rush

You’re hard on the ears, and perhaps we could mention
How it seems that so often you don’t pay attention

Your voice is too loud and your hair is too wild
Apparently, both since you’ve been a young child

You know that we love you but honestly mate
Could you tone it right back - and try not to be late!

And as for the drama that dogs you each day
Perhaps it’s your own that gets in the way

It’s a maelstrom that enters the room don’t you know
And we feel like you have to be star of the show

Well…the thing that hurts most is that all of it’s true
I know I’m ‘too much’ - for me - not just you!

Perhaps I’ll be quiet, say ‘I’m fine thanks, and you?’
When asked how I am at the next public do

I’ll sit in the middle, and tie my hair back
So I do not offend, but blend into the pack

I don’t need reminding, I know how I am
And ‘good-natured teasing’ won’t help with this jam

Friday, February 07, 2020

it's just a matter of faith

October 2014

Last weekend I found myself in the most unlikely of places - invited to the house of a friend, I expected to be '' meeting new people'', but in fact discovered that of the 8 families there, I knew 6 of them, and all bar two of the adults sat somewhere on the ''faith scale'' - a pastor at one end, and...well...probably me at the other.

Conversation with two (whom it turned out I have known since teenage youth group years)  turned, as one might expect to things spiritual.  Was I going to church and if so where? No? Oh, why not? I found myself frustratingly clumsy in response - mumbling about being ''churched out'' and ''taking a break from formality'' - and feeling more than a little deceitful with it. Because although both of those things are true, the story is rather more convoluted than that.  Like many things - the complicated questions can have simple answers and the simple questions often have (very!) complicated answers!

February 2020

Part of the annual spring clean (which I tend to do over the summer break) includes a tidy up of social media, emails and so forth.  My blog has sat largely untouched for a long time, for a bunch of reasons, including that I write a lot for a living and so don't really indulge in it for pleasure much these days.  So today, as I was scrolling through the half-finished posts, deciding what could stay and what could go, this one caught my eye, still in draft form from 2014.

Since I wrote the lines above a lot has happened in my life and world view of things spiritual.  I've been grappling with whether I even need to be writing it down for posterity, but it's interesting to look back on these things...so here it is.

Not long after writing those words, I found myself back at church. It was an 'of course I'll go with you' kind of thing rather than a conscious effort on my behalf, coupled with a vague idea that if I could get my kids interested again it might be a good way to get them into the youth group.  The problem was, I'd sit in church feeling grumpy and resentful that I was there, being all judgy about the people in the room (and wondering how many were there with the same motivations as me) and really not communicating at all with the God I was supposedly there to meet with, and in whom I wasn't sure I believed in the first place.

I came to the conclusion I was better to stay away - echoes of the 'better to be cold or hot than lukewarm' bible verse in my head.  Time went on.  I reached the conclusion that God wasn't overly concerned about my lack of Sunday commitment.  More time passed...I accepted that the beseeching I had done of God in the previous year or so had had absolutely no effect at all - either I wasn't asking with a pure heart, or he didn't care or maybe didn't exist...

And now, in 2020? I want to believe there is a God because I don't really want to have to accept that the world is just some kind of cosmic accident (and ergo, so am I). But do I believe that God is interested in me? That I can have some kind of personal relationship? That my eternal life is dependent on this Judeo-Christian belief I have had around me my whole life?  Nope, and I don't know if I ever did.

What I do know is that I have a responsibility to do my best by the world - which means to walk lightly on the earth, be kind and generous with others, respect myself, all those things that make us good humans.  Does God fit in there somewhere? Possibly, but not in the way I thought and not in the form I've always reverted to imagining. 

It seems to me that the Christian version of God is one of many.  A truth perhaps, but not THE truth. It's just a way of us mere humans making sense of the world.  Just as every Muslim or Buddhist or Taoist does.  When I do the Beliefnet quiz I almost always get 'Sikh' as my most closely aligned religion - seems strange until you read what the framework is.

The thing I just can't get my head around is the New Age type stuff. It seems it is a never-ending, self-perpetuated cycle of self-improvement that has little to do with others - that is definitely not the religion for me.

I read somewhere recently that to be spiritual is just to have an awareness that life is bigger than we are. You don't have to say you're a spiritual person (ick), or 'act' like one. That the rest doesn't really matter.  I think I like that.



Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Annual Family Poem - 2019


Christmas 2019 – the Annual Trodden Poem

On the First Day of Christmas, my good life gave to me
                A proudly earned a Bachelor’s Degree

On the Second Day of Christmas my good life gave to me
                Two gorgeous children and
                A proudly earned Bachelor’s degree

On the Third Day of Christmas, my good life gave to me  
                Three sold-out shows, two gorgeous children and
                A proudly earned a Bachelor’s degree

On the Fourth Day of Christmas my good life gave to me
                Four quotes in the paper, Three sold-out shows
                Two gorgeous children and
                A proudly earned Bachelor’s degree

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, my good life gave to me
                Five pets at home,
                Four quotes in the paper, Three sold-out shows,                 
               Two gorgeous children and
                A proudly earned Bachelors Degree

On the Sixth Day of Christmas, my good life gave to me
                Six dancing classes, Five pets at home,
                Four quotes in the paper, Three sold-out shows,                
               Two gorgeous children and
                A proudly earned Bachelor’s Degree

On the Seventh Day of Christmas, my good life gave to me
                Seven days of driving, Six dancing classes,
                Five pets at home,
                Four quotes in the paper, three sold-out shows,                
               Two gorgeous children and
                A proudly earned  Bachelor’s Degree

On the Eighth Day of Christmas my good life gave to me
                Eight awesome staff, Seven days of driving,
                Six dancing classes,
                Five pets at home,
                Four quotes in the paper, Three sold-out shows
                Two gorgeous children and
                A proudly earned Bachelor’s Degree 

On the Ninth Day of Christmas my good life gave to me
                Nine driving lessons, Eight awesome staff,  
                Seven days of driving, Six dancing classes,
                Five pets at home,
                Four quotes in the paper
                Three sold-out shows, Two gorgeous children and
                A proudly earned Bachelor’s Degree

On the Tenth Day of Christmas my good life gave to me
                Ten grand of new boobs, Nine driving lessons,
                Eight awesome staff, Seven days of driving,
                Six dancing classes,
                Five pets at home,
                Four quotes in the paper,
                Three sold-out shows, Two gorgeous children and
                A proudly earned Bachelor’s Degree

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, my good life gave to me
                Eleven massive concerts, Ten grand of new boobs
                Nine driving lessons, Eight awesome staff,  
                Seven days of driving,  Six dancing classes,
                Five pets at home,
                Four quotes in the paper, Three sold-out shows,                 
               Two gorgeous children and
                A proudly earned Bachelor’s Degree

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas my good life gave to me
                Twelve awesome ladies,
                Eleven massive concerts, Ten grand of new boobs
                Nine driving lessons, Eight awesome staff,  
                Seven days of driving,   Six dancing classes,
                Five pets at home,
                Four quotes in the paper
                Three sold-out shows, Two gorgeous children and
                 A proudly earned Bachelor’s Degree








Monday, February 19, 2018

manpower mandate motivation

As is oft the case I have a theory. 

Over the past 15 or 20 years I have met with literally dozens of people who have great business ideas, and very often those ideas are born from a passion for a hobby or interest that they want to monetise.

Whilst there are many good reasons to grow a hobby into a more sustainable income I've also seen the same pitfalls present themselves over and over again, and this is almost always due to a lack of understanding about purpose.

Before anyone starts a business I recommend that they really come to grips with the 'why' - because that matters even more than the 'what'.  Why do you want to be self employed? Why do you want to sell this particular product or service? Why do you think there is room for this in the marketplace?

The answers are likely to be...because I love this thing...because I'm good at this thing...because I want the freedom of working for myself, and it won't feel like a job... Because I feel like I've got something great to offer.  All of which are GREAT reasons to add to the PLUS side of the list.  

In the for-purpose world (used be called charities, non-profits or community organisations) those values exist too, but the primary goal is to engage people, develop a community, create passion and purpose for the outcome - and whilst having enough money is important (non profit doesn't mean for-loss!) the driver is not income generation.  

And so, for people starting a business from a hobby, there is an immediate confusion for their customers.  This is particularly apparent in the arts and sports worlds.  Where large groups of people come together to enjoy something (a play, an orchestra, a fitness class) they will generally be happy to pay a fee. They'll probably be happy to help set up, pack down, do the dishes, and all the other things that go with running a club.  No organisation survives without ongoing, enthusiastic and high quality manpower. But when those same customers realise that the people running the organisation are doing it as a business, their enthusiasm for 'helping out' will quickly wane.  The business owner might initially be viewed as wearing a technicolour dream coat that every one wants to touch - and the more charismatic you are as a business owner, the more attractive your service, the more likely this is.  Eventually though, the hardworking 'volunteers' that your business (and it is your business) requires will move on to other things.  

They may have the usual volunteer fatigue that goes with the for-purpose sector, or they may simply need to rationalise their time, but the most common reasons for this are firstly that they don't feel valued (because they're doing everything for free - and that includes your perceived generosity in offering 'free' classes, 'free' food and so forth), and secondly that they see the head of the business profiting from their hard work.

People will only want to touch the coat so many times

So what is the solution? The first is, as mentioned earlier, to understand your motivation, and to show integrity in this decision. If you're setting up your business to monetise a hobby, do the numbers. Can you actually make this work by paying people fairly? Can you cover all your costs from your income, even in the early days?  Are you really a business, or is it a hobby? What are others doing?

Ask the big question - what is the mandate? - it a true purpose that could engage and motivate a community and is thus really a social enterprise (think of Eat My Lunch, Agoge and others).  If it is, do the research, and then set the organisation up that way - be honest with your 'customers'.  Invest in getting the structure right and the marketing, the business plan and the success will follow.

The main different between the two options is motivation. For purpose literally does exist for the purpose, for profit to make money. Both can exist beside each other as long as there is clear boundaries, strong structure and true understanding from all the stakeholders including the users of your service. 

But whatever you do, don't think that you can go on forever, relying on the goodwill of others to give you an income.  There's already more than enough for purpose organisations out there doing that, who will value their workers as true volunteers.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

A song and dance about nothing

I love a party. I mean I REALLY love a party. Lots of food and drinks, people spilling out everywhere, music belting out in the background.  And I'm very happy for anyone else to have a party. Usually. Mostly.

But over the past couple of years I have become less and less tolerant of parties. In fact it's not even the parties. It's the music - or even more precisely, the pounding bass that comes from speakers at such parties. 

And, unfortunately for me, there are two places near my house that LOVE their bass.  The worse bit for me is the lack of control - I'm in my own house, minding my own business, and I have to put up with the walls vibrating and that horrible 'boom boom boom' that hits you in the solar plexus but doesn't really make sense without the tune, that is conveniently muffled by my locked doors and windows.

I hate that I am feeling pushed out of my own home.  I hate that I have no choice about when that noise begins and ends, and worse, that whether it is once a year or once a week, it is relentless.

Besides, working in the events industry, it staggers me that such noise is even allowed, when I consider the hoops that my own organisation has to jump through to stage an event. 

I'm told that I'm the only person that cares.  In fact in what is not my finest hour, I lost the plot completely last night (picture this: me in my nightie, standing at the front door screaming and swearing at the 'perp' who came down at 11 pm in response to my (very polite I thought) Facebook post requesting the music get turned down and ...mostly... spoke in a measured voice and told me I needed to 'calm down and relax more'. Yep that was really going to work). Maybe I am the ONLY person in a kilometre radius who actually does care.  But you know what, that does not make my response any less valid. And something tells me I'm not (oh..it might be the people that tell me they aren't happy either.. but have either given up or are too scared to say anything).

It is a song and dance about nothing? Do I need to be more tolerant once a week, once a month, once a year?  

Maybe I do, but that fact that I am now considering leaving the home I love because I have absolutely had enough of the neighbourhood, makes me sad beyond measure.  And that is nothing to sing and dance about.