What To Do Next?

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As you might be aware of recent I’ve been a bit quiet on the social media, blog front. Just because I’ve been left feeling very deflated and . . . . well like this.


Stuck in a lifestyle that I am not a great fan of anymore. Don’t get me wrong I don’t want to bad mouth these aspects of my life because they have served me well and I’ve learnt and grown from them. But it is now time to move on and take a bigger step forward. Though how realistic is that?

Not to moan about money but sadly this is what makes life tick over. I know I should live in the moment. Enjoy what I have. Can’t take it with you bullshit. But sadly Karen that isn’t the world we live in. The fact of the matter is if I don’t earn X amount a month I won’t be able to pay my bills, buy food or get by. So if I bring home less than that or I have a sick day and don’t get paid. I feel the pinch.

It’s horrible.

But what can I do? How can I make my life better? I’d love to go freelance. In photography or media or blogging. But taking that plunge is an unrealistic step for me. I’d love to get into charity work. Especially Male Mental Health based work. To help give a voice to people. To do something meaningful and to make a difference but sadly in the most none selfish way that won’t pay my mortgage. Not to begin with anyway.

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A very supportive and lovely friend said the following to me earlier – “You really could do it full-time I believe in you buddy! You’re written word is fantastic, I love your content and you are always one of the first people to boost people up in this community! I honestly couldn’t think of anyone who deserves it more than you.”

Which is crazy cute and mega supportive of her and it made me think – who else thinks this of me, maybe I could be this figurehead that people look up to, maybe I could help everyone.

I’m thinking about setting up a movement / brand / organisation that focuses on those goals of raising awareness and money for Male Mental Health charities. Which is where I will need your help.

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I just hope something like this can and will give me purpose and until I find my feet I will have to keep going with my current affairs but in time, maybe one day, I will be able to stand up tall and look back at what I have done with pride.


 

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Welcome to StrongMen

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StrongMen – What is it and what it is doing.


Just so you know this if not an AD, the Charity didn’t come to me. I asked them if I could write about them to help spread the word of who they are.

As many of you might know recently I discovered Channel 4’s S.A.S Who Dares Wins. Which pits a team of average joe recruits through a version of the selection progress for the Special Forces, lead by a tough team of Directing Staff which is made up of Ex Special Forces Operatives; Ant Middleton, Jason Fox, Matthew Ollerton and Mark Billingham.

Each season highlights the recruits back stories and reasons for taking on such a challenge, and each season for me has a couple of people who really stand out with some truly emotionally touching stories. Earlier seasons showed me Ehrem’s story and the season just gone showed me Mark and Milo’s stories. All dealing with grief, loss and a drive to prove themselves in honour of their lost family members.

Obviously as the world is very social media driven I jumped on the bandwagon to follow both Mark and Milo on Instagram. Only to find out their relationship has continued after the show and they are embarking on a Charity Climb of Mont Blanc in July with Ollie Ollerton. All in the name of “StrongMen”. Which got me thinking, who are they?


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StrongMen is a non-profit organisation set up by several Ex-Recruits and a D.S. from the show. Their mission, to tackle Mental Health issues caused by bereavement and suffering in men. Offering weekend retreats for Men aged 18-55 who have suffered a bereavement of a family member.

With grief and loss being one of the main causes to depression, stress and other such mental health issues the team at StrongMen have set up retreats to focus on several aspects of life; from diet, to exercise, to leisure activities – all with the goal of helping men open up and talk about their emotions and problems. Even if you are not effected by such things I strongly urge you to check out, look into this group and support the team at StrongMen.


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Mental Health is an ever-growing concern in this modern world, as it becomes more widely recognised and accepted. There is still a stigma behind Men and their diagnoses but with the help of organisations like StrongMen we can move away from that stigma and make it socially acceptable to be worry free and open to discuss what is really going on in our mind.

Men can still be the strong characters they always have been, but there is also no shame or harm in being open about what is going on inside your head. Especially if it results in help.

 

 


With all of this new and fresh in my mind it’s really made me take a step back to evaluate my own personal mental health. The up’s, the downs and the vague patches in the middle. Evaluating my own thoughts and well-being has been on the forefront of a lot of discussions recently. Growing as a blogger I have had the pleasure of meeting and interacting with several Mental Health bloggers for both Men and Women and this has helped me dramatically change my opinion on the topic for the better.

IMG_20180121_224107_636I suffered a bereavement nearly four years ago now, where I lost my Mother. I was 24. It was the start of the summer and I was sat in a beer garden in Northampton with some friends. Just a standard evening of drinks after work to unwind. When I got a phone call. My sisters number, but it was my Dad on the phone. He broke the news to me that she had passed away. Regardless of my relationship with her it was still a shock and worse of all I couldn’t do anything to fix it. I couldn’t even drive the 70 mile trip home there and then because I was in a beer garden. Though I have always be a strong-minded character I think that deep down I have never properly grieved. I just took a deep breath and got on with making sure my sister was ok and putting my Mothers affairs in order as I organised a funeral. (My Parents were Divorced as this point, so power of the estate was in my hands).

I’d never thought about this as a contributing factor to my Mental Health before, but with life getting busier, Adulthood creeping in and responsibilities racking up that tower of Life begins to wobble and lean a bit from time to time. Maybe throwing “Money worries” “Frustration at work” and a dash of “Road Rage” into a pot on top of a ungrevied significant moment in my life isn’t a great move – but then on the flip side maybe I am at ease with it all and how I dealt with it was perfectly rational and understandable during that time in my life.


It is a serious discussion we should be having and with the help of organisations like StrongMen I truly believe that discussion will be taking place more frequently.

As much as I am no professional, I like to think I am a supportive guy who will help anyone, with that in mind – if you want to talk, open up or even just have the knowledge and thought that someone is there. Here I am. Don’t be shy.

I will always be there for you all.

February Round-Up

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That’s it, Feb is over – two months down, ten to go! It’s a bit crazy to think in the working world I only have 12 pay days a year. Like in the scheme of things that doesn’t sound like a lot. Maybe if I can make it full-time as an influencer and all round social good guy I can up my paydays to a few more. Here’s hoping.

Washing the CarAnyway what have I been up to? There has been a lot of adulting this month, like if I had a score card I would have a bucket load of points. I washed the cars with a bunch of fancy car cleaning products, I put up an outside light, tidied and organised the garage, bought a lawnmower and gardening tools in an attempt to start making the garden look nice for the summer, along with some the addition of some black rattan furniture and a smiling Buddha – it’s coming along nicely.

We had the new bathroom arrive which is being redone in the next week or so – which will be a major tick in the house saga. So we’ve just been getting all that in order. Picking tiles, mirrors and rubber ducks. Once this is done we will be in such a better place – the entire top floor will be complete and then it leaves one room. Which to say we moved in to the house in October – that’s not bad going at all really.


Caroline's Kitchen Review

This month also saw me get the opportunity to go to the theatre to review a play. Caroline’s Kitchen Review can be found here and I was lucky enough to be asked by the Royal and Derngate of Northampton to come along and review. I had my blog name on an Envelope, complimentary drinks in the bar and everything. It was swanky and so much fun.

We also saw the NFL end at the start of the month with the Super Bowl, which as a game was a very defensive low scoring game which saw the Patriots claim another Super Bowl ring.

Feb Films consisted of; The Lego Movie 2, Fighting with my Family and On the Basis of Sex. Which I feel both the Lego Movie and Fighting with my Family can be summed up in the same statement. “Good, can say I have seen them, but nothing special – few key parts make them worth watching”. While On the Basis of Sex was just as you expect. A motivational uplifting true story about Ruth Bader-Ginsburg fighting for equal rights. It was brilliantly acted by Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer – who I have always said is such an underrated actor. He deserves to be bigger than he actually is in the world of film.

Feb Films also consisted of The Oscars – what a turn up for the books. I guessed 5 out of 8 in my Predictions which isn’t bad going. There was some amazing films up this year and deep down they are all winners. The Gaga / Cooper Shallow performance did it for me – so emotional, such an amazing song and brilliant movie – if you have not seen A Star is Born I highly recommend you go do so. Make it a challenge for March.


Monthly blogging goals are doing really well too. Smashed Feb’s goal and just overtook last years best month. So 2019 as it stands has generated 33% of 2018’s views which is overwhelming and simply amazing. I can not thank you enough. I must be doing something right as you keep coming back for more.

 

Hope you had a great month guys. Let’s see what next month brings.

 


 

30 Before 30 – Mk2.

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At the start of last year I did a post about my “30 Before 30” list. Which can be found just Here‘ – but recently we’ve been talking about these lists at work. My friend has just turned 25 and is set on doing on. So he is in the midst of making his list. Which made me look at mine and kick-start my lazy bum into finishing it.

You might notice that a few of them have changed since last year, that is allowed.

Turns out I have 17 left to do and 22 months to do it – which is nearly one a month. Scary right!

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I need your help. Below is my list – I need to plan the fluff out of it to hit targets. I love a challenge and I am not prepared to fail right now. So this is what I am aiming for.

Learn a Language – Currently using Duolingo to learn Swedish
Visit Auschwitz – I believe there are talks of visiting this next year.
Cycle London to Brighton for Stroke Association – Worried about how realistic this one will be
Get out of Debt – Tough as I am so bad with money. But confident I can find a way.
Vegas for my 30th – This one won’t help the above one. But I will be ending this list in Vegas in 22 months time.
Write a Children’s book – Something I constantly go back to, but can’t workout the best idea or plan for it just yet.
Start my own business – Hey if this blog takes off maybe I could claim this as that.
See the northern lights – Always wanted to, but the risky thing is, they are never a guarantee to see, even in the Arctic Circle
Write a film script – Similar to the children’s book, I have several started projects floating about, but I fall out of love with them.
Learn to dance (Salsa or Ballroom) – Gotta impress on my Wedding day right?
Learn an instrument – Uke – Sitting in my spare room collecting dust. I might tweak this to “Learn A song” to give myself the edge.
Re-Visit New York – Tempted to treat the GF and link this to the next one for this year.
Spend New Year’s Eve in a different country. – I have to do this this year as there is no other New Years Eve before I am 30.
New Job – One day!
Get a Dog – So close, by this time next year I am sure we will have one.
Sex in a tent – Who even likes camping?!
Take up Golf – Clubs are in the garage. Time to hit the range.

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Caroline’s Kitchen: The Review [AD]

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[AD, Gifted] – I was asked by the Royal & Derngate Theatre Northampton to review Caroline’s Kitchen in return for free tickets to the play – this is my review.

Last night I had the pleasure of watching “Caroline’s Kitchen” a dark domestic comedy from the mind of Torben Betts, produced by Tom Hackney of The Original Theatre Company and directed by Alastair Whatley at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton.

The play follows Caroline Mortimer (played by the fabulous Caroline Langrishe), a beloved celebrity chef who has it all; an amazing career, loving family and a top end kitchen that we could only dream of. Life is good – or so it seems, but once she is away from the lights and the camera’s, a dark cloud begins to appear over her private life. A storm is brewing and it’s about to wreak havoc.


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Set across the course of one day, the whole play is set in the Kitchen – the heart of the home, as we watch Caroline’s life spiral out of control, the set and the kitchen mirrors this. Starting off as a prim and proper, clean set by the end of the play it’s just like Caroline, the Kitchen is a mess – it’s broken and disjointed. Which is a subtle but very clever way of personifying an object or space to represent a characters transition or mental state. Caroline’s perfect life revolves around her work and more importantly her Kitchen, which is a mirror of herself.

For me it started off at a slow pace – I was a bit lost on what was going on and where it was going but halfway through the first act it really got into its stride and by the interval, I was hooked and on the edge of my seat. Eager for the second half to kick off and continue this mini roller coaster.

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The turning point for me was the introduction of Mike (Caroline’s Golf-loving Husband, played by Aden Gillett) a retired banker who is dealing with a form of depression, looking at life in a bleak miserable way – wishing he had gotten more from life instead of working and then being left as an old broken man. Playing the role of a stereotypical upper-middle-class white man, with his casual racist and politically incorrect outlook on life, he resembled a lead from an old Ealing Studios film. Which I found hilarious and couldn’t get enough of. I guess this probably suggests something about my level of humour and old man mentality.

This is also in no disrespect to the rest of the cast, I really enjoyed both Jasmyn Banks and Elizabeth Boag’s performances. As Amanda, Caroline’s Sassy Drugged up PA and Sally a disgruntled visitor with more on her mind than a house viewing. Both of these women in my eyes dominated the play when they were on stage. Drawing focus from the likes of Caroline, Leo or Graham the remaining cast members. There is a clear divide where the cast range from amazing and captivating, to lacklustre and boring. The latter in my eyes was Graham – the carpenter. I couldn’t gauge his accent as it changed from North London to pure Northern at times. His timing wasn’t on par with the other cast mates and when he was on stage I just felt awkward wondering what he was going to say or do next. I’m not sure if it was meant to be intentional and that his character was a bit slow but sadly that is how it came across.

This was my only gripe so let’s move swiftly on and not dwell on the negatives too much.

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Overall I really enjoyed this production, the best way I can describe it is by comparing it to that final episode of season one of Dr Foster. Where the truth is coming out and the repercussions are flying around that family meal. It rolled around nicely and with every comment or quip, I was left on tenterhooks waiting to see how the next character would react. It might leave you thinking what just happened for a moment but then once it has settled in you can really appreciate the tone, themes and dynamic of the play. Questioning Morality, Monogamy, Depression and Mental Health – while spreading a dark twisted sense of humour on top.

I would say this play could engage a younger generation who aren’t as ‘Into’ theatre as other generations and something like this would be a great way to spark that passion. The script is snappy and sassy which I would say would be appealing to a younger audience, but still with enough humour and references to engage a more mature audience. As I saw last night, there was young and old sitting together laughing at the same things, bringing people together.

It is showing at the Derngate Northampton for the rest of this week before moving onto Liverpool, Cheltenham and a few other places until the end of it’s run in April. I would highly recommend watching it if you get a chance. You will be pleasantly surprised.

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I also want to thank the Derngate again for giving me the Opportunity to review this production.

 

 

 

 

 

January Round-Up

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So the new year rolled in, the Christmas decorations went down and the bank balance looked scarily low. January is notorious for being a LONG month, it’s dark, you are constantly tired and a break or holiday usually seems like a long way off.

I’ve decided to do a roundup post of what I have been up to in the month, let’s see how it goes. Came back to work after a week off which is always to short a break, getting back into the swing of things was tough but after a few days it was like we’d never been away – which I am unsure if that is a good thing or not.

 


This month I’ve noticed the light creeping back in. The nights are getting lighter, spring is on its way. But the snow is coming too. Constantly on Snow Watch waiting for that miracle 3ft downpour that leaves us stranded at home.

In the motivational push of January in an attempt to avoid the January Blues I joined a gym again. With the intention to get fitter, build some muscle back and just become a better person. Which I have loved – getting back into that routine, working out and pushing myself.

This can go hand in hand with my latest TV / Celebrity Influencer obsession. Which is Ant Middleton and S.A.S Who Dares Wins. I’ve always wanted to watch the show but never got round to it until this new season started. Something within the show, the speeches, tasks and activities clicked inside me. I am not sure what it is; maybe the positivity, the way of thinking, the ideology behind it. Whatever it is Ant Middleton and his team are inspirational stuff. On the hype I purchased his book “First Man In” which was just like the show – Eye Opening. I am not a strong reader, but this book I couldn’t put down and finished within a week. Which in my eyes is an achievement. So maybe deep down something inside me has changed and I am looking to get the most from this change. Be that on here, in the gym or in my life.

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Caught a few films this month too. The best in my eyes was Spiderman – Into the Spiderverse. If you haven’t seen it I urge you to go and check it out. Everything about it was superb, fun and just an all round amazing watch – also Oscar Nominated. So fingers crossed. Though I did also watch Mary Poppins Returns which on the other hand was a bit . . . meh in my eyes. Sorry. Emily Blunt was as always amazing but the film was a bit deflated.

Also another highlight of the month is my Smile. Ever since I was a child I have had a mark on my front tooth, a little black spot. Dentists have always put it down as a knick, a mark, a hole that can’t be fixed. Just one of those things. Until I changed dentists and the first thing she said to me as I lay in the chair was – “we’ll fill that one!”. I was over the moon but also angry at the same time – this could have been fixed long ago but I was told one thing after another. But now I am smiley with a white set of gnashers.

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So overall not a bad month really. Stats are up, interactions are up. You guys seem to be loving what you read and see of me – which is always a plus. I challenged myself to beat last years stats; Jan 18 vs Jan 19 – and mid month I beat it, then I started pushing for beating my best month in 18. Smashed it. Then out of the blue I hit 1000 views in a month. Which was amazing, over the moon. Can’t believe it. I have YOU to thank for that and it’s been amazing, here is to next month. You ready?

As far as months go, it’s been a good start to the year for the blog and myself. Let’s keep it up.

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Super Bowl Sunday.

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The Super Bowl is here and what an eventful NFL season it’s been. My first real season following the mighty Houston Texans start off with zero wins to three losses, then to smash an amazing nine game winning streak and to finish the regular season eleven wins to five losses. We made it to the Wildcard round as Champions of the AFC South but sadly our road to the Super Bowl ended there after losing to the Colts.

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Now with the final draw we see the New England Patriots face off against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday 3rd February, as both teams fight it out to get their hands on the Lombardi Trophy. Putting Brady against Goff and Belichick against McVay.

This result could have been very different as Championship weekend was eventful to say the least. With both games; the Saints / Rams and Chiefs / Patriots running into overtime for the win to be clenched. Both losing teams (Saints and Chiefs) looked strong throughout their respective games and on a different day the Super Bowl fixture could have been very different.


As things currently stand in the stats, the figures and the history – The Patriots are the greatest team of all time. Since 2001 they have won their division sixteen times, reached the Championship games thirteen times and now this will mark the ninth time they have visited the Super Bowl, winning five and attempting to make this their sixth – where as the Rams have only played in three and won one Super Bowl. On paper it looks like a clear winner.

Saying that, Rams head coach Sean McVay in the two years he has been at L.A. has cemented himself as a phenomenal coach, with a bizarre yet strangely satisfying party trick of being able to recall any play his teams have ever played or ran. Just watching it, listening to him remember and call it step by step is amazing. But going up against the longest-serving coach in the league right now Bill Belichick will be a whole new party trick to learn – beating the Patriots. Belichick has proven over the past 19 years that regardless of who they are playing, he is able to find, exploit and us to his advantage the weaknesses of his opponents.

So what might have looked like an easy victory from an outside glance for the Patriots – as they are THE team, might shape up to be one exciting game with the Rams giving all they’ve got to try to prove something. With Jared Goff going against Tom Brady – a battle of young vs old. Goff (24) is the sixth Quarterback under 25 to start a Super Bowl (with Brady being one of them) and Brady (41) being the only 40+ quarterback to start. Giving evidence to the saying “Don’t fix what isn’t broken” – Brady is still going strong into his 40’s holding his own against the young upcoming stars who are set to take his mantle. While also something I have learnt from watching this season, literally ANYTHING can happen. You can go into a game thinking, I can call this – easy. Then suddenly it’s bottom of the 1st quarter and that call is long and truly out of the window.

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As it stands right now odds wise the Pats are tipped by the bookies to win 3/4 with the Rams at 11/10. But that could all change in the next week. Personally I am backing the Ram’s – like I said McVay is a mastermind and I’d love to see him call this right. What are your predictions? How has the season been for you?


Also at the start of the week the England game fixtures for next season were released. Texans in the UK – Bring It On! I can’t wait.

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