I'm a Christian, a designer, and a gadget fan who lives in Cheltenham, UK.

This is my blog, a creative outlet to mess around and play with as well as a place that logs my thoughts and inspirations.

Archives

Back in Octo­ber of 2014 I wiped this blog and start­ed all over again in an attempt at a fresh start and the begin­ning of more reg­u­lar post­ing. The lack of bag­gage was sup­posed to be the cat­a­lyst to help me post, to a degree it has worked and I’ve been post­ing here much more reg­u­lar­ly since the turn of the year. The Week in Links has helped, and is approach­ing it’s six month anniversary.
On Mon­day evening I read a post by Paul Sta­ma­tiou about his years of blog­ging. I was struck by a par­tic­u­lar sen­tence half way through:

The era of the per­son­al web­site is over. It’s now just a per­son­al land­ing page with a pho­to, bio and link to a Twit­ter profile.

I under­stand exact­ly where he is com­ing from, but I also dis­agree, to a cer­tain extent. It’s true a lot of web­sites have dis­ap­peared over the last few years, but over the last few months I’ve seen a resur­gence in the per­son­al site/blog. Some­thing that I want to be a part of. It got me think­ing about my own per­son­al site, and the changes it’s been through over the last decade. I’ve nev­er binned it to replace it with a per­son­al site, but I did recent­ly delete all my posts and before that I had anoth­er blog that has gone the way of the Dodo.
It struck me how wrong that is. I put a lot of time and effort into writ­ing those posts, and for them to be erased is just plain wrong. For­tu­nate­ly I man­aged to locate a back­up of this site from just before I wiped it, and I’ve now added all the posts back into the archive. There’s still a bit of tidy­ing up to do but for the most part the archives now extend all the way back to Jan­u­ary 2011. I’m also hop­ing to be able to locate an old back­up of my very first blog, the one that exist­ed pri­or to this one. I’ve been writ­ing on the inter­net for near­ly a decade now, it should be pre­served and main­tained in some form or anoth­er not con­signed to oblivion.
All of this to say, I’ve added the archives back to this place. If you’re inter­est­ed and have the time, why not have a dig through and see what you can find.

Bored

I won­der how often the phrase “I’m bored…” came out of your mouth as a child? I know it crossed my lips a fair few times, dur­ing my years at pri­ma­ry school. As I grew old­er the phrase appeared less and less, in fact I can’t remem­ber the last time that phrase crossed my lips and I don’t recall it ever cross­ing them in my years since university.
That’s troubling.
Does it mean I’m no longer get­ting bored? Do I get bored and no longer acknowl­edge it pre­fer­ring to let myself while away the hours fid­dling around on the inter­net or vedg­ing out on the sofa?
Am I capa­ble of get­ting bored or does the con­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion pro­vid­ed by the var­i­ous apps on my iPhone pre­vent it?
We live in a world where con­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion of bore­dom is read­i­ly avail­able. A world where chil­dren are grow­ing up with iPhones and iPads avail­able to them as soon as they are talk­ing, if not before. Will these chil­dren be able to get bored?
These are wor­thy ques­tions to con­sid­er, if peo­ple can no longer get bored, and I mean real­ly bored. How will cre­ativ­i­ty flour­ish? Cre­ativ­i­ty out of bore­dom is a dif­fer­ent kind of cre­ativ­i­ty to that which takes place at work. Bore­dom cre­ativ­i­ty is far stronger and more expres­sive than any oth­er. When we are so bored that we decide to do some­thing because it inter­ests us, that’s when some of the most excit­ing cre­ativ­i­ty hap­pens. A child who picks up a gui­tar and starts picking/strumming a song sim­ply because they are bored isn’t play­ing that gui­tar for prac­tise, they’re play­ing it with a desire to cre­ate. A desire to occu­py their mind and to express them­selves in a way they’ve per­haps nev­er done before. The same goes for an artist who picks up a sketch book, and a writer who picks up a pen.
This is as much a chal­lenge to myself as it is to any­one read­ing this. Do we allow our­selves to get bored? To get so bored we are com­pelled to do some­thing pro­duc­tive out if it. Are we capa­ble of let­ting cre­ativ­i­ty born out of bore­dom take place, or do we just occu­py our minds with the lat­est free game on the app­store that’s tak­ing Twit­ter by storm?

Building

I’m great at mak­ing state­ments and promis­es about things that I want to do. It’s easy. I think of some­thing I wish to do, decide there and then a means by which to do it, then post to my blog declar­ing it in the pub­lic domain.

In prin­ci­ple it’s a good tac­tic. The pub­lic dec­la­ra­tion should be enough of a moti­va­tion to make sure I stick to some­thing, but the real­i­ty is that more often than not I fall short. I might stick to it for a cou­ple of weeks, but then life will hap­pen and that’s it, the idea slides out of exis­tence. Why? Because of a lack of discipline.
When it comes to dis­ci­pline I’ve gen­er­al­ly been quite good when it comes to doing some­thing that real­ly mat­ters, or some­thing that I have to do. The trou­ble was when it came to doing some­thing I want­ed to do, like writ­ing for this site. So as part of get­ting back into it, I’ve been tak­ing lit­tle steps, to build integri­ty, trust and discipline.

Integrity

Build­ing integri­ty with myself is crit­i­cal. The num­ber of times I’ve set out with an aim to do some­thing, then not suc­ceed­ed to do it are count­less, and this car­ries over into start­ing new things. Whilst the inten­tion and desire can be strong, the belief that I can do it less so. It’s been errod­ed by years of unful­filled promis­es to myself about start­ing to write on a reg­u­lar basis.
The trick, I’ve dis­cov­ered is to start small. It’s not a new tech­nique, but I tes­ti­fy that it’s start­ing to work. I start­ed with The Week in Links, my week­ly post shar­ing a few links to good arti­cles or inter­est­ing things that I’ve seen around the inter­net over the week. As of the time of writ­ing, I’ve now post­ed an edi­tion of that post for nine­teen weeks run­ning. I’ve built integri­ty with myself that I can post to this site on a reg­u­lar basis, on a sched­ule I decid­ed and want­ed to com­mit to.

Trust

Now I have built some integri­ty and belief that I can do some­thing I want to do and not just some­thing I have to do. I’m build­ing trust in myself that I can actu­al­ly do it. I trust that I can man­age the rest of my day well enough, to be able to set aside time to write.

Discipline

The trust in myself that I can do this, builds the dis­ci­pline that I need to actu­al­ly do it. Hav­ing estab­lished a pat­tern of turn­ing up each week to post The Week in Links, I’m now dis­ci­plined enough to carve out that time each week to make sure I keep doing it.
It’s a knock on effect, or maybe more of a cir­cu­lar cycle. The more belief that I have in stick­ing by my stat­ed inten­tions, builds the trust I need to be able to make those inten­tions in the first place. In turn, that builds the dis­ci­pline I need to exe­cute those inten­tions, thus giv­ing myself more belief. It’s why this week I’ve added anoth­er step into my morn­ing rou­tine so that I can be sat here at my desk and do a half hour of writ­ing before my work day begins. Not only am I build­ing trust that I can work on writ­ing for my site with reg­u­lar­i­ty, I’m also build­ing trust that I can get up and go through my morn­ing rou­tine with the time to do all that I both want and need to do.
Of course there is anoth­er side to this. If I do miss one of my carved out writ­ing slots, I must not give myself a hard time about it. Life hap­pens and I won’t always get to do these things. When that’s the case I need to be able to say nev­er­mind, reset and go again the next day remem­ber­ing that for the past how­ev­er many days I’ve been able to do it.

Barriers

Bar­ri­ers are a strange thing. In the real world they exist to form a sep­a­ra­tion, a phys­i­cal divi­sion between two things. They can be per­ma­nent or tem­po­rary, but they exist for a spe­cif­ic rea­son. Their pur­pose though, is always the same, to pre­vent you from going some­where you shouldn’t.

In the men­tal world things are slight­ly dif­fer­ent. Bar­ri­ers exist of course, but for dif­fer­ent rea­sons, though their pur­pose is sim­i­lar to their real world coun­ter­parts, they stop you going some­where or doing some­thing. The trou­ble is, they aren’t phys­i­cal and that makes them immea­sur­ably hard­er to overcome.
Eigh­teen weeks ago I start­ed post­ing a week­ly arti­cle with a col­lec­tion of links to inter­est­ing arti­cles I’ve read dur­ing the week. I start­ed it because I want­ed to get back into writ­ing for my blog. I thought hav­ing a reg­u­lar post to com­mit to would remove the bar­ri­er that I seemed to have errect­ed over the last cou­ple of years. To a degree it’s worked, post­ing to my blog reg­u­lar­ly has helped me to rebuild my inter­est in it, it’s helped me to estab­lish a desire to post, but it hasn’t removed the barrier.
For the last few weeks I’ve start­ed each week with the aim that this week would be the one that gets me writ­ing a post a week. Sev­er­al times I’ve draft­ed some­thing, but each time I’ve failed to pub­lish it. Fear seems to be the bar­ri­er pre­vent­ing me from click­ing that but­ton. That lit­tle voice that says “No one will read it, no one real­ly cares what you have to say” squarks away as my mouse hov­ers over the pub­lish button.
So I’ve decid­ed, this week is going to be the week that I break­down that bar­ri­er. The lit­tle voice will be silenced and I will post an arti­cle every Wednes­day from here on out. It is a chal­lenge, but one I want. I have no idea what I will post about, but as Shawn Blanc says I have ideas it’s just a case of let­ting them grow and tak­ing a bit of action on some of them, regard­less of whether they are good or bad, as well as hav­ing a bit of courage to press pub­lish at the end of it.

Rediscovering the Personal Site

It’s been an inter­est­ing start to the year to say the least, but one pos­i­tive from it has been the renew­al of my inter­est in both my own blog and the blogs of others.

I’ve been read­ing blogs, or per­son­al sites would prob­a­bly be a more accu­rate term in 2015, since I came across them in my sec­ond year at uni­ver­si­ty in 2006. Back then I loved the idea of peo­ple pub­lish­ing some­thing to the inter­net and quick­ly set my own blog up. I came across a num­ber of great writ­ers who like me were just find­ing their feet in the world of Web 2.0. In the 8 years that have passed since then, I’ve had a num­ber of my own blogs and lost my motivation/desire to post to them all at var­i­ous points in time.
In the ear­ly days of the blog, there was what felt like a strong com­mu­ni­ty. A group of peo­ple writ­ing about what inter­est­ed them in a way which was new and excit­ing. It was inspir­ing to see oth­ers shar­ing in this way and it made me want to do the same. In the years since I left Uni in 2007 there seemed to be a change amongst the blogs I read. They became focused and some­what same‑y in their con­tent, it felt like the blogs lost their per­son­al­i­ties as their authors pur­sued a desire to be bet­ter writ­ers. A few of them man­aged to main­tain the per­son­al­i­ty that drew me to them in the first place, but, many didn’t and as a result the blogs either died off or my inter­est in them waned. It was sad and with that homogenis­ing of con­tent my own inspi­ra­tion and desire to write also dried up.
Over the last few months I’ve start­ed to notice some­thing dif­fer­ent. Per­haps it’s just that my own mind­set has changed, or it could be that I’ve been find­ing a bunch of new sites, or a reac­tion to the likes of Face­book who seem to want to be the inter­net rather than part of it. But the per­son­al site seems to be ris­ing like a phoenix from the flames.
Many of the sites are spe­cialised, with focused con­tent, but they no longer seem to be of one voice talk­ing about the same thing all the time. They have per­son­al­i­ty. The posts, whilst often being focused around a sim­i­lar sub­ject, are var­ied and seem to be a reflec­tion of the peo­ple who write them. It’s both inspir­ing and a joy to read these sites. They might be writ­ing about a pen, a note­book or a new Mac, but they are doing it in a way which is inter­est­ing and engaging.
These per­son­al sites have the pol­ish and high stan­dard that the web in 2015 demands, but they seem to be return­ing to the per­son­al­i­ty and inter­est that was so appar­ent in the the rise of the blog back in the mid naugh­ties. It’s refresh­ing and I’m thank­ful for it. I applaud those behind it and I hope it con­tin­ues long into the future.

Let me make a note of that

Ever since I got my first iOS device, a 2nd gen­er­a­tion iPod Touch, I’ve been on a quest to work out the best way to take notes. I’ve tried a shed load of dif­fer­ent apps, Sim­plenote, Ever­note, Notesy, the built in notes app, NVAlt… in fact if you can name it I’ve prob­a­bly tried it. I’ve always read with inter­est arti­cles on note tak­ing setups, how peo­ple use them, how their go to app on their iPhone works so well for them, and I’ve always strug­gled to fig­ure out how or why that is.
You see I’ve tried so many times to get into the habit of using an app, or a suite of apps, to make my notes in. But for what­ev­er rea­son I’ve nev­er been able to stick with one. I’ll go through a spell of forc­ing myself to use them, to form a habit so that my first thought is to use my phone or the Mac app, but they nev­er stick. I can nev­er get to the point where I can declare, so and so is my goto note writ­ing app.
Except, now that I think about it, I can.
My goto for notes sits right beside me on my desk. In fact for the whole of my work­ing life it’s sat right next to me on my desk, or in my back pock­et. What’s it called?
Well it’s called paper, or a note­book, and I make my notes on it with a pen. Try as I might I can not break the habit of using a phys­i­cal note­book to make my notes.
The habit stretch­es back to my school days. I always had a note­book, or the back of my exer­cise books, which I would doo­dle and scrib­ble in. Then when I was 16 I start­ed a Sat­ur­day job in a fam­i­ly run hard­ware store which fur­ther ingrained the habit. I always need­ed a piece of paper and a pen in my pock­et, to make a note of mea­sure­ments, stock num­bers, phone num­bers, deliv­ery address­es, you name it and it was on my note paper.
Then when I start­ed uni the habit con­tin­ued, my sketch book was always with me. I’d use it to make note of ideas for projects, to record com­ments from crit ses­sions with my tutors and when I got the odd free­lance job, to make notes from client meet­ings. The way I use my note­books has bare­ly changed since then. When I meet a client I take my note­book and my iPad, but it nev­er feels nat­ur­al to pull out my iPad to make notes (I use it to show work). It does how­ev­er feel nat­ur­al to pull out a pen and jot down some comments.
There’s some­thing about the con­ve­nience of a note­book and pen that an app and my iPhone just can’t break. The tech­nol­o­gy, which on the sur­face presents a far more supe­ri­or expe­ri­ence doens’t seem to be able to break the hold a nice note­book and pen has over me. With my iPhone I can make a note, I can tag it, it’s auto­mat­i­cal­ly dat­ed and I can search to eas­i­ly find what I need. It should be the best way of mak­ing notes. Except it isn’t.
Tap­ping out a note on my iPhone, just doesn’t give me the men­tal con­nec­tion that I need when mak­ing a note of some­thing. It may be less effi­cient, in the sense that it might take me a lit­tle longer to find a note because I can’t search for it, but I do (gen­er­al­ly) remem­ber where on the page I wrote it and over time I’ve devel­oped lit­tle quirks to help make things stand out. Tasks get a lit­tle box to the left of them, if I think it’s impor­tant when I write it, it’ll either get a star or often a box drawn around it. Infor­ma­tion gets seg­re­gat­ed on the page by lines, but more often than not, the sim­ple act of writ­ing it down is enough to com­mit it to my mem­o­ry. It’s some­thing which, in this dig­i­tal world we now live, I fear we will lose. Pro­cess­ing some­thing in an ana­logue man­ner can have a far more last­ing effect than doing some­thing digitally.
There’s also some­thing rather nos­tal­gic about using a note­book and pen. I have every sin­gle note­book from my pro­fes­sion­al life as a design­er on a shelf. I can pick them up and look back to a cer­tain moment in time and have an instant con­nec­tion. I can remem­ber where I was, who I was with and what was going on in my life at the time. Some of them are all neat and look like they’ve bare­ly been used from the out­side. Most of them are nice­ly worn, weath­ered with age they bulge in the mid­dle. But I think most impor­tant­ly, they present a phys­i­cal instance of the work I’ve done in my life. The vast major­i­ty of it is cre­at­ed on my Mac, sure some of it’s print­ed, but the ideas and begin­nings of it all are in my note­books. You don’t get that with a list of files on a com­put­er screen, you don’t get lit­tle sketch­es or doo­dles that seemed like noth­ing at the time but which turned into a sub­stan­tial piece of brand­ing. The throw away moments that are so com­mon­ly cre­at­ed in a note­book don’t even get con­sid­ered in a notes app. Those are the very moments I can’t give up, the very moments I won’t give up. They’re the very moments that bring the best out of me and my pen and note­book are the most pow­er­ful tools I own.

30 Things I’ve learned in 30 years

When the year turned 2014 I began to reflect on my life, who I am, where I am and what I’m doing. Why should a sim­ple year change cause such a mood to dawn on me? At the end of Sep­tem­ber I turned 30, it also hap­pened to mark the 10 year anniver­sary since I left home and moved to uni­ver­si­ty here in Chel­tenham. These are two sig­nif­i­cant events in my life that mark the begin­ning and end of the last decade, one which has been full of hap­py times and inevitably it’s fair share of low times. Rather than this become a telling of the sto­ry that has been my twen­ties, I thought it more pro­duc­tive to look at, if I can, thir­ty things I’ve learned in the last thir­ty years.

  1. Faith is important.
    Where you put it and in whom you put it has the biggest influ­ence on your life and how you live it. Don’t waste it by putting it into things or peo­ple, they will only let you down. Instead, place it in Jesus, He is the only firm foun­da­tion that will nev­er go away or let you down. My Faith has helped me through both the highs and lows of the last 10 years in a way which is incred­i­bly hard to describe, but rest assured I will nev­er place it in any­thing oth­er than Christ.
  2. Fam­i­ly matters.
    In just over the last 10 years (I know I’m break­ing the rules slight­ly) I’ve lost 4 grand­par­ents, they are all missed great­ly and espe­cial­ly so when big events occur. If you have grand­par­ents spend time with them. Find out about their life before you exist­ed, who they were, what their dreams were when they were your age. Lis­ten to them and invest in them as much as you do your par­ents and broth­ers and sis­ters. One of the things I trea­sure most is a let­ter my Grand­dad wrote when I was 11 telling me his expe­ri­ences of the 2nd World War. When I read it I learn as much about my Grand­dad in that let­ter as I did when he was alive to speak to.

  3. Friends.
    They will come and go, you will keep in touch with some, you will drift away from oth­ers, there’s often noth­ing you can do about this (although often there is). Make the most of them while you can, go out of your way to help them, sup­port them in all they do and in any way you can. You may nev­er know how much it means to them.

  4. It’s ok to be an introvert.
    I used to, in fact I some­times still do, strug­gle with the fact that I am a nat­u­ral­ly qui­et per­son. At school, even at uni, I used to see peo­ple who can eas­i­ly strike up a con­ver­sa­tion with some­one they’ve nev­er met before and feel like there was some­thing wrong with me because I find it so hard to do. It’s tak­en many years, a lot of read­ing and think­ing, but the real­i­sa­tion that I get my ener­gy from deep­er friend­ships and not from a room full of strangers has been incred­i­bly free­ing. The trick is to not let this become a crutch when in a room full of strangers, I still need to work on step­ping out my com­fort zone, but at least I know what that zone is.

  5. Don’t be afraid to tell your friends what they don’t want to hear and don’t be offend­ed if they don’t take it on board
    My best mate has nev­er shied away from giv­ing the kind of advice I don’t want to hear. I’ve not always act­ed on it, but on reflec­tion months lat­er I often find it was very good advice. I hope I’ve returned the favour.

  6. Be vul­ner­a­ble
    I don’t mean go spilling your heart out for all and sundry, but get­ting to know peo­ple prop­er­ly means you have to be vul­ner­a­ble. It some­times means shar­ing ele­ments of your life you may not be very proud of, but it means your friends will be able to sup­port you in ways you real­ly need, and it means you’ll find out who your friends real­ly are.

  7. Smile
    Don’t be so wrapped up in your own world that if you ran­dom­ly make eye con­tact with some­one you pan­ic and look away. Instead, smile. Not a forced one, a gen­uine one. It’ll make peo­ple feel like they mat­ter and that they’re not a repul­sive monster.

  8. Work isn’t the be all and end all that peo­ple make it out to be
    If you’re hap­py in it great, keep going. If you’re not, put your all into it no mat­ter how down you feel about it. You will prob­a­bly meet more peo­ple through work than through any­thing else in your life and peo­ple can tell if you don’t like your work, but peo­ple can tell more if you don’t like it and don’t care about it.

  9. Time Alone
    I’m not being anti-social when I dis­ap­pear off to my room/office. Time alone is incred­i­bly valu­able, too much of it can be a bad thing, but not enough of it can be very dan­ger­ous. It’s ok to want to just spend time alone, doing my own thing. In fact I crave it some­times, and when I don’t get it I can be touchy, cranky, less enthu­si­as­tic about things and just gen­er­al­ly drained.

  10. Not Know­ing is OK
    It’s ok to not know where you’re going. The world is full of peo­ple who give the impres­sion they know exact­ly what they’re doing and where they’re going. Real­i­ty is they’re prob­a­bly just as lost as you are and just bum­bling along in a slight­ly more con­cealed way than you feel you are.

  11. Hav­ing a Plan is OK
    Expect­ing that plan to work out exact­ly how you want it to and the world to be a nice fairy tale end­ing isn’t. That plan you had for your life at the age of 20 is very unlike­ly to work out, that’s ok. Recog­nis­ing you are not as in con­trol as you think you are is a good thing. Sur­ren­der­ing to God and his plan is even bet­ter. Often it will take a big event to make you realise this, but it will bring you out the oth­er side in a bet­ter position.

  12. Don’t be too introspective
    I realise this one is some­what iron­ic com­ing from a guy who is look­ing back at his life and inward at him­self as he reach­es what feels like a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone. It is impor­tant to reflect on life, the uni­verse and every­thing, but doing it too often is a bad thing. It sets you up for fail­ure as you inevitably com­pare your­self to your friends, the plan you had when you were 20… we are bro­ken peo­ple and we nat­u­ral­ly look at the neg­a­tive in these cir­cum­stances. For every intro­spec­tive moment, take a minute to look at the now, you’re healthy, God has blessed you with anoth­er day on his beau­ti­ful cre­ation, you have peo­ple you care about and who care about you. Dwell on that for a moment, then go and enjoy the day.

  13. Trust
    Trust peo­ple. This is, on some lev­el, linked with point 6. You can not be vul­ner­a­ble with peo­ple you don’t trust, but equal­ly you can not get to the point of vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty with­out trust­ing some­one first. So trust peo­ple. Don’t be naive, there are peo­ple out there who will abuse your trust to get some­thing they want. In my expe­ri­ence, you’ll work out who they are before it’s too late and the ones you don’t, you’ll learn a lot from. In those cas­es it will be painful for a while after, but in the long run prob­a­bly worth it.

  14. Don’t let fear beat you
    That girl you’ve got your eye on, go speak to her. Don’t let the fear of what might hap­pen, or the fear of fail­ing stop you from doing things. Stop think­ing of the neg­a­tive what if’s and focus on the pos­i­tives. Go, do and learn. This isn’t easy. In fact of all the things in this list it’s prob­a­bly the thing I strug­gle with most and it’s also prob­a­bly the thing I get most frus­trat­ed about because I have no clue how to beat it.

  15. Be dis­ci­plined
    You’ll nev­er get what you want done in life with­out being dis­ci­plined in some way. With­out a bit of dis­ci­pline you’ll spend most of your time doing what’s easy.

  16. Read
    When I was grow­ing up I used to read a lot. When I got to my twen­ties what I was read­ing changed from books to web­sites. The last cou­ple of years I’ve been active­ly try­ing to reverse that change. I still read blogs, but I’m picky about which ones and I make a lot more effort to read books (and my bible). Books have more sub­stance. They’ve tak­en hun­dreds of hours to write, been refined over and are writ­ten by peo­ple who are experts about the top­ic they’re on.

  17. Think
    Think about things. Think about top­ics of impor­tance, take time to dwell on them and to under­stand them.

  18. Don’t apol­o­gise for who you are
    You’re who you are because God made you that way, don’t be ashamed of that. I’m thir­ty and have grey hair. I’ve nev­er once, despite the rec­om­men­da­tions of some of the youth I’ve worked with on beach mis­sion in Wales, been tempt­ed to dye it. God made me and He said I was “very good”. Why would I try and change that?

  19. Drink lots of water
    The last cou­ple of months I’ve con­scious­ly been try­ing to drink more water. It’s had an inter­est­ing effect, I’ve felt more alert and able to con­cen­trate much bet­ter. My skin has been clear­er and I’ve lost weight as well.

  20. Stop check­ing Face­book at every avail­able opportunity
    Just don’t. Your life will be bet­ter off with­out the con­stant stream of peo­ple fil­ter­ing their lives to make them­selves feel better.

  21. Keep a journal
    I wish some­one had encour­aged me at the age of 20 to keep a near dai­ly jour­nal. There have been sev­er­al spells over the last few years where I’ve kept a jour­nal. Most of those times have been to help me through dif­fi­cult times. One day I might read them, but I’d much rather read them and be remind­ed of hap­py times and fun times that will help me when I’m going through the dif­fi­cult times.

  22. Speak to your friends
    That might seem like some­thing that goes with­out say­ing, but bare with me. We live in a world that relies on tech­nol­o­gy so much that it’s tempt­ing to fall into the trap that it’s the best method of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. My best mate lives 4 hours dri­ve away, in fact for the 9 years that I’ve known him we’ve only lived in the same place for 2 years. Had we just relied on tech­nol­o­gy (Face­book, Twit­ter, Insta­gram and the odd text) to keep in touch we like­ly wouldn’t still be the friends we are. Friend­ships can only be main­tained over a dis­tance by putting in effort to speak reg­u­lar­ly. Pick up the phone and give your friends a call. Speak to them.

  23. Laugh
    Find peo­ple who make you laugh. Find peo­ple who will laugh with (at) you when you do some­thing stu­pid. Find peo­ple who will do things stu­pid that you can laugh with (at).

  24. Exer­cise
    Don’t just sit on your back­side all day, get the endor­phins going. Get on your bike, go for a run, walk real­ly quick, what­ev­er, just exercise.

  25. Pray
    You spend time with friends, so spend time with God.

  26. Have per­spec­tive
    Don’t just look down at your feet. If you’re so focussed on the now, you’ll for­get what’s been and miss what’s to come.

Look up. Look back. Look forward.

This was the phrase I end­ed the stu­dent bible study with last week. Look up at God because you belong to Him for He bought you at great cost. Look back at Christ and remem­ber what He did for you on the cross. Look for­ward to the day when Christ will return in glory.

  1. Sleep
    Get enough sleep. If I don’t get enough sleep I get tired (well duh). I can’t con­cen­trate on my work, I lose focus when talk­ing to friends, it affects me in many oth­er ways and I see it in oth­ers as well.

  2. Organ­ise yourself
    Make lists or use a todo app, but do what­ev­er it takes for you to be organ­ised. You’ll nev­er do all the things you want to do if you don’t know what you’ve got to do.

  3. Shoul­ders back, head up
    It’s amaz­ing how many peo­ple I see walk­ing down the street look­ing at the ground or star­ing at their phones. Get your shoul­ders back and your head up, be con­fi­dant and move with pur­pose, the very least it will do is make you feel con­fi­dant. It also means those peo­ple with clip­boards are less like­ly to both­er you.

  4. Lis­ten
    Be will­ing to lis­ten to oth­er people’s thoughts and opin­ions, espe­cial­ly if they are oppo­site to yours. Show respect to what they are say­ing and they will show respect to you when you share your opin­ion. Nev­er shut peo­ple down with a blan­ket state­ment that dis­miss­es their opin­ion as wrong and clos­es down any dis­cus­sion, it is nei­ther pro­duc­tive nor constructive.

Fresh Start

It dawned on me today that I’ve been writ­ing a blog, in one form or anoth­er, for the last 8 years. Ini­tial­ly, I was full of the youth­ful enthu­si­asm of some­one who had just dis­cov­ered the medi­um, I could eas­i­ly sit down at my Mac and with­in half an hour have pub­lished a new post. With­in a few months I had found a num­ber of oth­er blog­gers who wrote with a lit­tle more qual­i­ty than I did and with a lit­tle more dis­cern­ment when it came to top­ics they wrote about. They had built a bit of a larg­er audi­ence than I had, but with some their encour­age­ment I pushed on regard­less. By the time I grad­u­at­ed uni­ver­si­ty in 2007 I had built an audi­ence of around 300 subscribers.
It was a decent num­ber of sub­scribers, but bore an unfor­tu­nate con­se­quence. The num­ber of sub­scribers caused me to stop enjoy­ing my blog. I want­ed to pro­vide val­ue to my read­ers, say pro­found things. I felt I need­ed to bring a focus to my blog in order to do that and I began apply­ing pres­sure to myself. Even­tu­al­ly falling into the beliefs that the posts I was writ­ing weren’t good enough.
Things dried up and I stopped writ­ing until my blog even­tu­al­ly died.
Since then I’ve been try­ing to regain the blog­ging vigour I had when I first start­ed. I just can’t seem to shake the pres­sure that what I write has to be amaz­ing. I haven’t been able to break the fear of post­ing to my blog.
I’ve even made things more com­pli­cat­ed. When I first start­ed blog­ging, I would just write what­ev­er came into my head. It would get a tag or two and then be post­ed. But when I start­ed to strug­gle I began to seek out solu­tions to make post­ing eas­i­er. I added linked list posts, so I could just post a link and a lit­tle bit of com­men­tary. Then I added quotes, and soon after pho­tos. But it nev­er real­ly worked, rather than mak­ing things eas­i­er, I had real­ly just added a lev­el of com­plex­i­ty that I didn’t need.
When I start­ed work­ing for myself, I thought I would quick­ly begin blog­ging again. I hoped I would be able to add anoth­er cre­ative out­let, one that I had once found so valu­able. The trou­ble was, I didn’t know what the blog was for. Was it for my busi­ness or was it per­son­al. It had my name on the domain but I want­ed it to grow so that aware­ness of my busi­ness would grow. Con­se­quent­ly noth­ing real­ly changed and, despite a few spells of post­ing links, it’s large­ly sat dormant.

Starting again

Over the last two months I’ve final­ly start­ed to use an app that’s been on my iPhone for most of the last two years. I’ve begun to use Day One in a way that has bought me to a place that I want to write. Almost every evening for the last 2 months I’ve writ­ten an entry in Day One that has been tagged “3 Things”. Each post con­sists of 3 things that I’m thank­ful for from the day that has just passed. Occa­sion­al­ly the entries get an image, some­times they get expand­ed on and I add some thoughts about what­ev­er I’m think­ing through at the time. One thing that it has helped me with, is find­ing that I’m start­ing to enjoy writ­ing again. Start­ing to want to blog once again.
It’s with this in mind, that I find myself here. Start­ing again.
I’ve reset my blog. Gone is the archive of posts that are made up large­ly of links. Gone are the mul­ti­ple cat­e­gories and post types along with the com­pli­cat­ed theme they need­ed to look dif­fer­ent. Gone are any oth­er bits of cruft that have built up over the years. Instead, posts are now posts, cat­e­gories don’t exist and posts will like­ly be tagged. The site struc­ture is sim­ple, there’s the home page and the posts. An archive and an about page will fol­low at some point, but for now there are just posts. The theme is sim­ple and clean, designed to be read and for any pho­tos in the posts to look good.
In some ways it’s a sad and dis­ap­point­ing move. I’ve delet­ed an archive of work that has tak­en a few years to build up. But I need­ed to take away the bur­den of expec­ta­tion, I didn’t want any­thing to feel like it didn’t fit what had come before it. I didn’t want a bar­ri­er to my blog and it felt like my blog itself had become that very thing.
So this is the new PhilBowell.com, it’s my blog and if you’ve made it to the end of this post I’d like to say thanks for your time hope to see you again soon.