Humanity’s True Strength

May 22nd saw some horrific attacks against Manchester. Men, women, and children were injured, killed, and left terrified by these attacks. People lost their children, their siblings, their families and I really don’t have any words that can ease that pain. I can only say that my thoughts are with them.

What I want to talk about though… is the response. For as many posts I saw across my social networks with upset and fear, I saw posts of genuine altruism, of true human empathy. I saw Muslim men offering free taxis, I saw Jewish Rabbis bringing drinks to officers, I saw white women taking in and looking after children; I saw people helping people. Regardless of race, of nationality, of sex, of orientation, I saw a larger community coming together; I saw people helping people. When the attacks occurred we responded with compassion and aid, we came together regardless of arbitrary cultural boundaries and we helped each other. This is testament to our collective human spirit and it is the exact answer we need in the times of crisis. It’s the answer we need at all times, really, and whilst it’s upsetting it often takes these tragedies to elect this response from us, it’s still fantastic that it’s there and being shown.

There is often far too much focus on the ‘Terror’ caused by ‘Terrorism’, but I’m a firm believer that this only propagates more terror. When we respond with fear, or anger, or negativity in general, we are showing that these attacks are working. When we respond with love and care, when we help our fellow human regardless of our differences, we show that we can’t be broken and that their attacks ultimately serve no point. When we respond with chants of “close the borders”, or we respond by attacking people for being different, we only fall into an awful, vicious cycle that will do humanity more harm than good. We play into the hands of the aggressor and lose any power we have for ourselves. What we need in these times, and at all times, is to truly focus on the good that humanity can do, the love that we can show each other. When we respond by coming together that is true strength.

I got Nominated for the Hidden Gem award!

 

WOW! I honestly didn’t expect this at all. I’ve been following the Bloggers Bash (who hasn’t?), but I never thought I’d be nominated into one of the Award Categories! Someone out there actually thinks Clockwork Clouds is a Gem! Wow.

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If you can’t tell I’m absolutely buzzing about this news. So buzzing, in fact, I want to post this blog right now… but I’m saving it for Tomorrow. A: So it can be a Friday Feeling and B: Because I have to be in work at the stupid time of 2:30am and this will be a serious reminder that life is good when I’m beginning to flag!

Just like yesterday’s post, but a slightly less serious, please go to the Voting Page and place a vote! Also like yesterday’s post, I’d advise you to check out all the candidates first and vote for the most deserving in all the categories. If you want to vote for me, I won’t stop you at all, but I would rather you did it because you agreed with it rather than just by my own influence.

Honestly, what amazing news! This has made my whole week, perhaps my whole blogging year! Thanks to anyone who nominated me, and thanks in advance to anyone who votes!

(Did I link to the voting page enough?)

Breaking the Cycle

Due to the success of the post I wrote for Monday – When Problems are their own Solutions. – I’m writing again for Today!

The thing is, the more I write the better I feel, the better I feel the more productive I feel, and the more productive I feel the better I feel… It goes on and on like that. I thought I’d utilise a Friday Feeling to get it all out in the open.

Mondays post mentions I wasn’t feeling great, that I wasn’t writing much, and I wasn’t feeling in a ‘good place’ productively. Thing is, I don’t often realise these things are amiss until they’ve already become a problem, and at that point I can reflect back and think: Fuck.

As I wrote before in 3 Steps to Help Combat your Anxieties!, we need to not just treat the smoke, but understand where the fire came from and how we put it out; we need to realise what is causing our feelings and how we can stop it before it even begins. My feelings of stress recently? My feelings of anxiety? They’re caused by having so much to do, and from having done nothing of it. If you’re interested, then please read on!

Last Saturday, Kirsty and I had a lovely day appreciating the sun. We had a brunch out at the Deco Lounge in Shirley, and we went to visit my parents. There, we started talking about all the things we needed to do to the house. We moved in last year, it’s one of the best things that’s happened to me, but due to a lack of activity on our part its now also a cause of stress. As we started to list all the things we needed to do, I started to panic. There’s not a room in our house that doesn’t need something doing; it’s a major source of anxiety for me. I wanted to end the conversation there and then, avoid it, not talk about it, and let it slide for a few months. Would this help? It might cure my immediate upset, but it doesn’t treat the cause of the problems. Instead, that night Kirsty and I made a list of the things we needed to do.

Yes, the solution was we made an actual list, on actual paper; not just talking and letting imagination get carried away. It felt so much better to have it written down; where we knew what needed doing. From there we made plans to treat the areas we can do first, we set a date to go to B&Q, which we’ve followed through on, and we set a date to get the garden sorted. It felt more productive and it lightened my stress. There’s still a lot to do, but we’ve taken a small step forward, we’ve engaged in productivity and it’s made things more manageable.

So, the house was causing me stress. I’ve talked before how it should be a Sanctuary in Seeking Sanctuary: A Monday Blog, but this was the opposite. It became a topic I avoided talking about, which in turn made it harder to talk about when it came up. Not to mention it made Kirsty feel I was disinterested, when it’s not the case at all! The thing is, it wasn’t just the house getting to me, the rest stemmed from somewhere else.

The rest of my stress stemmed from, as it often does, the chasing of my goals. It stemmed from my writing and my photography, or lack there-of.  The thing is, the past few weeks I’ve been feeling rubbish with toothache and dental surgery, and it’s hampered my productivity no end. Before that I was working a lot, working thirteen days straight with some twelve hour shifts thrown in. Since, I’ve been trying to relax and enjoy doing nothing, which normally would be a welcome break, but when you add it all together it’s just a month of zero productivity when I actually have so much I want/need to do.

As I’ve learnt from the house, the more I do nothing the harder doing something becomes; it’s that inertia. The more I do nothing, the more stressful something becomes for me, and the more stressful it is the more likely I am to put it off; a vicious cycle that continues like a malevolent ouroboros. How do I go about solving this? By breaking the cycle. When I was writing a post in time for Monday, it occurred to me that simply by writing I was feeling better, simply by being ever so slightly productive I was feeling less stressed about my productivity as a whole. The more I write, and as I write now for Todays post, the better I feel. Breaking the cycle is liberating.

How are you feeling this Friday? Let me know in the comments below!

How Some News Changed My Week

Ever had some good news out of nowhere that just blinded you?

This week was going to be a right off, if I’m honest. Similar to last week, we’ve had a bit of upset, a lot of stress, and some of those moments where you sit back and think “What am I even doing with my life?”. It’s a case that I don’t think my life is where it wants to be, I don’t think I spend enough of my time doing what should be important, and I make excuses as to why – a lot of my excuses are “I’ll do it when I have my study”, as though that is the great solver of my problems.

However, sometimes life springs up to let you know that some things are going in the right direction, and it’s because of the effort you’ve put in to it.

As you may be aware, if you’re a regular up here on the Clouds, that I also run a Photography company: Level Up Photography LLP. Well, we weren’t official. We were two guys who did a few Weddings/Events on the cheap for Friends and Family with a distant goal of one day ‘Making it’. We got together before Christmas, we filled out our Paperwork to become a Registered Company, with the Companies House, we sent it off and… Nothing. Lost. No word on it. We were frustrated.

But we tried again, we filled it at the end of January, sent it off, and this time had it tracked by Royal Mail. We eagerly watched the tracker over the weekend, no real movement, but no problem! It’s the weekend, right? Monday came, Tuesday came, the scans never came. The letter didn’t move, we were at a loss. Greg asked if it was a sign from the universe, I told him to sit down, shut up, and we’ll do it again! We’ll do it a million times if we have to!

Then comes today, just as we’re about to fill it all in again, send it all off again, wait patiently for a delivery that never comes again, Greg has a last check on the Companies House.

AND THERE IT IS.

So, now I can proudly say: I own my own Company! More importantly, I can also proudly say, Level Up Photography is now taking your bookings!

At the end of a shit week, where nothing seems to have been going quite right,  this has been a message to carry on; this has reaffirmed my passion, straightened my back, and sent me headfirst into the future.

If you’d have asked me my mood at the beginning of the week, I was deflated, disinterested, and didn’t really know a remedy; I was more concerned with wallowing in all I felt was wrong in life. Now? Well, now I think my goals are achievable again, and the most important lesson is… It was through our own effort.

How about you? How was your week? Had any signs from the Universe recently? What keeps your Clockwork oiled? Let me know in the comments below!

Last Week: A Friday Feeling

So, I’ve been a bit lax on the blog this week, my motivation has pretty much dried up, and I fully blame the caffeine (or lack, thereof).

Work has also been super busy, with my manager away I’ve had to step onto the plate, and it’s left me tired, drained, and a little bit moody.

That’s not the attitude though is it?!

The purpose of Friday Feelings was to discuss something positive; it was to be a reflection of the week gone by and find the good in it. I think one of the best things you can do to promote gratitude and positivity in your life is to reflect and give thanks for the things/people/events in your life. It’s the purpose behind the Happiness Jar.

So, after a crummy week of too much stress and too little play, I want to tell you all about last weekend, because as I alluded to on Tuesdays blog,it was damn good.

Friday Night

Friday Night was Date Night for Kirsty and Me. We may live together, we may spend almost all of our free time together, but we still insist on having a Date Night. Much like a reflection, a showing of gratitude, it is a way for us to make a moment of time be just for us. Sure, we eat together almost every night, sure we go to bed at mostly the same time and sleep next to each other, but to take a moment where we get a little dressed up, and sit with phones off and eat good food… that’s pretty perfect to me. This Date Night had been a long time coming, but we’d been saving it till Kirsty passed her qualification at work… another thing to be proud of this week!

Saturday Night

Escape. Live. Birmingham.

I don’t need to say more, but I will. EscapeLive, for those of you who don’t know, is a team based game where you’re trapped in a room with clues to solve; don’t solve the clues, don’t escape, simple as that. Think Crystal Maze without Richard O’Brien. So, Kirsty and I, armed with two friends Andy and Jess, took on Time Machine. This was the second time we’d ever done an EscapeLive and it was just as fun as the first time. There’s always that slight worry that it was a novelty, something that when you’d done once, you’d done them all; but it’s not the case. The first room we’d done, Dr Wilsons Office, was a brilliant introduction to the concept of the Escape. Time Machine kind of spun that on its head and kept it fresh. I strongly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

So there you have it, the week might have been a bit crummy, but last weekend was strong. This weekend is looking great too, with my first ‘night out‘ in ages (I’m getting old) and an early Valentines Day meal tomorrow… What’s not to look forward to?

See you on the other side!

Determination: A Friday Feeling

Today’s Friday Feeling is determination.

I’m feeling good about this year already, and I think it is almost 100% to do with my mindset. Nothing else has really changed in my life, if anything we’re in that post-Christmas fatigue when there’s naff all left to look forward to. What I’ve been doing instead, though, has been being determined. The best thing is I didn’t even really realise it!

You see, last week I made posts about the direction of 2017, improving myself, and about looking back at 2016, and showing gratitude/remembering the good times. I strongly feel that just writing these posts, and keeping these things in mind, has really changed the way I’ve been thinking already this year.

I strongly believe that 2017 is going to be a good year; I already feel as though I’m doing more towards it. I’ve been keeping up on my blog posts, writing them in advance and getting them scheduled, and I’ve been actively commenting and searching the blogosphere for more people to follow and learn from; so far I’ve already found a ton of interesting posts!

Outside my blog, I’ve been making other plans in life; I’ve been booking Cinema trips and family events. I’ve started back at Yoga with my Mom, I’m just back from seeing an amazing theatre performance I almost thought was too much hassle to go to, and I even forced myself back to the Gym (though I’m not boasting too much, not this early on). The thing that’s been highly prevalent through all these activities is determination; I’m not just living in a land of maybes. “I might go to Yoga”, “I could see my friends”. I’m not dwelling; I’m doing. It actually feels good, it feels good to not doubt myself, to not muse over my actions and to just put them to the test. It also feels a damn-site more productive as well.

How is 2017 feeling for you so far? You feeling determined in the year? Are you a dweller or a doer? Let me know in the comments below!

My Happiness Jar: A Friday Feeling

Continuing my weekly theme of New Years, with Mondays resolutions, Thursdays 2016 Thoughts, I wanted to do a Friday Feeling in the same vein. Thursday highlighted what made 2016 a great year, it was full of positive reflections and helped me to really reminisce about the year gone by. I think, more often than not, that’s the problem; that reminiscing can just be so hard when you don’t take the time to keep reminders.

Whilst many of the more prominent moments of 2016 were easily brought to mind, without the use of Facebook, I would have left some of my memories behind. I don’t like the thought of that. I know we can’t remember everything, but I want to remember as much as possible.

Well, luckily, 2017 is going to be a bit different. Not only will I have this blog to look back on, but I’ve invested in a jar. A Happiness Jar, to be precise.

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A Happiness Jar slowly filling with memories!

Ok, so at the moment it’s just a jar… but you get the idea. Over the course of the year, Kirsty and I will slowly fill this jar will all the happy memories we make. Then, on the 1st of January 2018, we’ll open this up and read through everything that made 2017 a great year!

This was an idea brought to me through the powerful medium of Shelley Wilsons blog, and it instantly struck me as something I wanted to do. Every year, without fail, I try to start a journal. I am obsessed with starting brand new notebooks where I write down my happy things for the day… As with most things, I’ll miss a day, then a week, then a month, and then these poor little notebooks get left by the wayside. This jar will be different. It’s pride of place in my lounge, and Kirsty and I are already filling it up with different slips of coloured paper. It’ll look beautiful as it fills with a rainbow of different paper slips and, come January 1st 2018, we’ll have a big jar of memories to open and look back on.

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My new diary! “A Good Plan”

All that said, I can’t really give up my notebook addiction. I helped to fund the English translation of this fancy little notebook, “A Good Plan“, at the end of last year; you can find it on their site here. It’s a bit more in depth and reflective than my other journals, but the tagline for it really appealed to me: “Because the most important book in your life should be about your life”. Let’s see if I can keep it up!

How are you keeping track of the year to come? Relying on memory? On your blog? Or on a something entirely unique? Let me know in the comments below!