Author Archives: robz

My three words for 2019: responsible – source – alive

In 2016 I chose three words to focus on during the year, following a suggestion by Chris Brogan, and I repeated this in 2017 and then 2018, when I chose: nibble – rest – clear. How did I do in 2018?

  • Nibble – I succeeded in making a lot of changes and once I had started, these seemed to snowball. Small tasks I completed grew into bigger projects that I am now really enjoying. It works to nibble at a big task to increase progress.
  • Rest – Whenever possible, I made sure I had a rest from work to refresh and recharge. It isn’t always possible, but it has certainly made a difference. A whole weekend away from screens is so refreshing and energises me for when I start the new week.
  • Clear – Being open to new ideas and not restricting myself in my thinking. My History MA has really helped here and I have learnt a lot in the year. Approaching a topic with an open mind is essential to learning.

Taking into account any progression, what are my three words for the year ahead?

responsible – source – alive

Why have I chosen these three words for 2019?

Responsible

Since my 20s, and probably earlier, I have believed in the power of taking individual responsibility to make things happen and to improve life, not just for me but for everyone. I can remember, way back in 1984, a discussion – on the A4 at Hammersmith in a shared car on the way to work – when I stated that I did not believe in rights, but in privileges. I believe life itself is a privilege and like any privilege it can be taken away from us just like that. This hasn’t been a popular view, but I don’t think I’m the only person to believe this. For decades, we have outsourced our personal responsibilities to government and other organisations which have eroded care and concern for individuals, leading to the current widespread loss of faith in ‘systems’ disconnected from people and built to fail. I believe taking personal responsibility is now more important than ever before. It doesn’t matter how small a matter is, taking personal responsibility will have a beneficial effect, which will snowball if more people do it. I understand that it’s not always easy and that not everyone is capable of doing it – I have been through times when I let so many things in my life slide into chaos that I was barely able to function mentally – which is why it is important for those of us who are capable to be responsible and why I am focusing on it.

Source

What are we? We are what we eat and drink and breathe. What is true? The news? Gossip? Videos? Stories? Where do the things we use come from? From mining? Agriculture? Factories? Everything we use, from ideas and beliefs developed from what we read, hear and see to material items like phones, clothes and cars, has a source. Often we don’t know where something comes from, whether it be a rumour or a gadget, and I believe it is important to know. Because we are often so far removed from the source and production of things, it is difficult to know what impact we have when we consume or use them and whether, if we switch from one thing to another, it would be better for everyone and the environment. 15 years ago I switched to a diesel car because it seemed less polluting, only to find it was not necessarily the case. Being aware of the source of things, ideas and beliefs is essential to trying to understand our place and our impact on this world, and to living a better life and making life better for all.

Alive

As I grow older, life passes faster. It seems so. And every second is more precious. Living vicariously through the record of others’ experiences is a waste when every second can be used to experience raw life. Whether walking in wind and rain, catching a rainbow or surprise sunset, or simply being with another soul, just being together in silence, is what makes us come alive. Joy, sadness, laughter, melancholy, excitement, weariness, wonder, fear, hope – all bring us alive. I will be more selective in my online presence as I spend more time feeling alive.

Starting now . . .

I’ve already started with these and will be interested to see where they go.

Do you have a direction you have set for yourself in the year ahead?

Good luck with what you believe and want to achieve, and may you have a wonderful New Year.

Posted in a musing.

The genuine article

pencil | robzlog.co.uk @robertz

I’m not a fan of clipart or stock photography.

I think this comes from seeing so many web sites and brochures showing pictures which have nothing to do with the organisation publishing them. If a company wants to demonstrate that it has happy, smiling employees, why not feature photos of its people rather than stock photos of idealised employees?

It’s something that puts me off a web site when the first thing I see is a stock photo. If the company can’t even be bothered to take an original photo, how bothered will it be to look after me as a customer?

As for clipart, I know that it can be useful for demonstrations and explanations, but very cheap, amateur-looking clip art does not give a good impression.

strawberries and clotted cream | robzlog.co.uk @robertz

Readymade images are obviously convenient, but original photos and artwork can make a web site or document stand out from the crowd. Isn’t that what businesses want?

Original imagery takes time, thought and creativity and can cost more if you don’t have a good photographer or designer in your team, but I think it is definitely worth it. And with today’s digital cameras and phones, it has never been easy to create original photos and video.

Well, that’s my Thursday rant. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

Woolacombe sunset | robzlog.co.uk @robertz

Posted in a musing.

Waste not, want not

Clock | robzlog.co.uk @robertz

The clock in our kitchen stopped working at the weekend. It’s a quartz clock with a battery in it, nothing special, but it’s useful for keeping an eye on the time when cooking or when we need to go out or do something at a specific time. We changed the battery, but it wouldn’t go. We tried another battery, but it still wouldn’t go. We thought we would have to replace it.

Now, we don’t like waste. Also, it’s sad that items on sale now just don’t seem to last as manufacturers cut corners to cut costs. We’ve found this with many appliances, even those produced by companies with a supposedly good reputation. And it doesn’t seem to make a difference whether they cost a little or a lot.

I didn’t want to buy a new clock for these reasons, so I took it down and fiddled with the contacts and put the battery back in. The clock went for a few minutes and then stopped. I had another go later in the morning and the same thing happened. I tried it several more times and eventually it carried on working and is now keeping good time.

I’m glad I persisted because there was no need to get a new clock and it would been a waste to throw this one away.

It’s a small achievement in the war against unnecessary waste.

Due to family members ageing and passing away, we have accumulated so many things that we need to find new homes for. We don’t throw them away because many of these household items, quite ordinary in their own way, are far superior to anything you can buy today, yet few people value them. We have been taking them to car boot sales, advertising them on eBay and generally trying to find people who will appreciate books, china, ornaments, tools and a lot more. It would be a waste to throw them away.

This has also led me to declutter my own collection of possessions. There are many things I have accumulated over the years which I have no real use for and recently I have found owners who will appreciate them.

Because of this approach, I’m a terrible customer for retailers because I just want to maintain the things I have and not buy anything unnecessary. It matters because the economy relies on appliances breaking down being replaced regularly. I think this has to change.

I am glad I got the old clock working. I don’t like waste.

Posted in a musing.

My life’s essentials 12: feet

feet | robzlog.co.uk @robertz

Yes, feet are essential and my feet are essential to me.

I walk a fair amount, usually between 15 and 22,000 steps a day, but I didn’t always.

When I was younger, I used to cycle a lot, but then stopped when I started work and got a car. For quite a few years I did little exercise, especially when I started working from home. I remember one wintry day in the 1990s when I opened the front door to go out to post a letter, but the wind almost blew me back in and I decided to go another day. As I started to use the internet and email more for work, sometimes I had little reason to go out for two or three days at a stretch. I was slowly putting on weight and starting to bulge a little.

Then, in 2000, we got a dog. A puppy. A spaniel. A little darling. I’ll write about him in another post.

One of the reasons for getting a dog was to get me on my feet and out of the house. Another reason was to have fun. We accomplished both.

From being a stay-at-home stick-in-the mud I turned into an all-weather-outdoor stick-in-the-mud, usually in the middle of a muddy field in the rain. I loved it and still do.

I walk in the dark, in the light, in the dry, the snow, the rain, in howling gales and on beautifully clear, calm days, paddling in the sea.

I play ball with our dog – now our third after losing our first two five years ago – and sometimes we both toddle along, letting our minds wander or admiring plants and trees, views or anything that takes our interest.

Walking is what I enjoy most now, thanks to my feet.

I have come to realise how essential they are after various conversations with many lovely people, some of them now passed on. When they told me stories of their past adventures of walking, touring and sailing, their feet could no longer carry them up a hill and sometimes we had to help them back on to their feet if they took a tumble. Their feet had served them well, but there comes a time for us all when we have walked as far as we can and we have to put our feet up once and for all.

So I make sure I look after my feet as well as I can because I realise how important they are to me. I walk as much as I can while I am fit because one day I will walk no more and then I’ll tell stories of where my feet have taken me.

• I mistakenly posted My life’s essentials 14 after 11, so I’m catching up with this post.

Posted in my life's essentials.

Open up

Cool blue sea and sky | robzlog.co.uk @robertz

I am working with a business colleague to launch a new business exhibition in the area. It’s quite exhausting, but also frightening to get this off the ground. A lot of preparation has gone into it and we are just starting to promote it. We’re at the stage when you do things and get no response, and start wondering whether it was such a good idea.

I have organised events like this before for other organisations so know what results look and feel like.

Over the weekend, I relaxed by baking a cake, cooking some meals, working on my art project and reading a history book for my MA, as well as walking with our dog. I deliberately didn’t spend any time on business so that I was fresh this morning.

Just now, I heard an email arrive and when I looked, I saw that our first exhibitor has booked their stand.

I now think: We are on our way.

It’s almost as though I had to back away to give it space and let things start to happen.

Being asked to blog for the Ultimate Blog Challenge on a song lyric or phrase that sticks in my mind, the following suggested itself:

“Just open your eyes, and realise,
The way it’s always been.
Just open your mind and you will find
The way it’s always been.
Just open your heart and that’s a start.”

This is from The Balance, written by Graeme Edge and Ray Thomas for the Moody Blues’ A Question of Balance album way back in 1970, but I think the words have a lot of value.

Sometimes I find myself focusing too narrowly so that I pass by other things without seeing them. I need to consciously relax and open up to other influences and see what happens.

Opening my eyes, mind and heart seems a good approach to life.

Posted in a musing, music, books and writing.
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