Advice for carers

There is a shortage of advice for carers, particularly those, like me, who did not start out in life with the idea that we would be spending the best years of our lives stuck in the house with an ill person, or people in my case.  I will give you a short history before I continue.

I finished up with postgraduate study in 2003, as by this time my father was bedridden and my mother, despite having the help she was entitled to, was struggling.  I continued to work as many hours as I could, some jobs being completed on the way home from other jobs, and found various inventive ways of fitting in as much work as I possibly could around providing support for her in the form of looking after her property and lifting my father when necessary. This still meant that I had to work in temporary, hence easily ditchable employment. My mother would not admit that she required help, and so the siblings found it quite easy to belittle my efforts alongside providing no help.  Just before she succumbed to a stroke I was working full time as a banking consultant, part time as a government research interviewer, and doing some corporate research during mealtimes.  A total of about 17 hours a day, six days a week, the remaining time being spent on maintaining the house and gardens and letting her get out.

My father became steadily worse over the five years between 2002 and 2007, and it was impossible to take the reins due to the fact that my mother was extremely difficult before her stroke.  When it became apparent that she had a heart problem, I spent two years arguing with her as I tried to tell her to go to the doctor.  It was obvious that she was not going to take this advice, and again the siblings ignored my entreaties to invite her to their house to give her a break, or advise her to go to the doctor as requested.  Therefore it became pointless to speak to them at all, since it was clear that they were not prepared for their parents dotage, nor willing to listen to me at all. I have never had much of a relationship with them, since my unexpected arrival over a decade after they thought the family was complete, came as a bit of a shock to them, so it was no great loss.  Their subsequent behaviour has been so poor that I frequently have cause to think I would be better off with no siblings at all.  These are middle class, respectable people who are in late middle age, so this came as quite a shock to me, never mind anyone else.

There is no legal or supportive body to go to if you are in this position.  I have been told by several care homes that I worked in on a temporary basis whilst trying to help my mother, that it is entirely normal for the absent children to attack the unfortunate carer, and there is no help for you on this basis at all.  You have the responsibility, you have the loss of your own life, and you have the daily drama of caring for your relative.  The last thing you need is to be attacked by your own family.  Having been through a particularly bad example of it, I can tell you that the only backup you are likely to receive in the face of such attacks is to be told, after investigation that you are off the hook.  You are basically at the mercy of adults who are functioning as particularly nasty children.

My advice is to opt out completely.  Despite what you may be told, there is no reason why you should make yourself available to be attacked.  My course of action was to ensure that I was notified of the impending visits in order to avoid them.  For the first few years of looking after my mother, I simply avoided the house during these visits.  Recently, I have been more inclined to guard my belongings, and ensure that my mother is not left alone as she tends to forget what she has been told within a few minutes.  I get no time off at all.  The vulture-siblings are not aware that she rarely gets through a night without needing something, and they have chosen to be so unhelpful and vicious that I am trapped in the house 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is preferable to accepting help from a third party, with associated worry garnered from years of my eldest sister seeing any third party involvement being an opportunity to accuse me of things I have not done.

Considering the amount that each carer saves the taxpayer, in the course of their poorly paid excuse for a life, and the associated knowledge of the person being cared for, who is almost always receiving far better attention than they would in the conveyor belt care home system, I find this lack of support astonishing.  Yes, there are courses available, should you need them, to help you react correctly to the situations with the person being cared for, there are day care facilities provided by local bodies where you can drop off your patient, should they agree to it, but nobody cares if you are persistently victimised by your own family.  Nobody cares that your life has been destroyed, and nobody cares about your privacy.  You can, if you do not care about privacy, get help from a third party with the direct daily activity of caring, but in my position, with two vicious sisters, this is not at all helpful.  I have learned over the years to either take my mother with me, when I do need to go somewhere, or schedule it at times when it is either impossible or unnecessary to inform them at all.  All this to protect my mother and her assets from attack by her own family.

You will find that your house becomes messy very quickly indeed.  It is amazing how much mess one tiny woman can generate.  Your family may also attack you on this basis, especially if you lack the funds or inclination to redecorate frequently.  Personally, I spent several years decorating whilst caring for my parents and neighbour, and became a familiar figure, covered in paint, in my local area as I was rarely out of my painting clothes.  I am about to have to start again, as this house is large and I keep it on a five year cycle.  As long as you enjoy this process, it is something you can do whilst your patient is sleeping or watching TV nearby.

You will find yourself crying a lot, particularly if you are female and are looking at a life with no children or opportunities to go out.  This means that you cannot even hope that a gallant gentleman will save you from destitution in your dotage, so you have a bleak old age to look forward to, whilst your selfish relatives roll around in the money they were able to make by being selfish.  The only good part about this element is that you are forced to be inventive.  Towards the end of the period of my being able to work, I worked from home to avoid claiming the benefits I was entitled to.  This is considerably easier to achieve than it used to be, thanks to the internet, but particularly with a progressive illness, you will have to give this up eventually in favour of something that you can either do whilst providing care, or nothing at all.  Be prepared for some dark moments as you realise your hope of the life you previously worked for is diminishing with time.

As your patient’s illness progresses, it will become increasingly difficult to keep up with even the simple things that you were able to easily cope with, so it is wise to be extremely mean as you may have to draft in a gardener or painter that you did not need to begin with.  The time you spend in a chair with your patient is still valuable to them.  If you are fortunate, you will have some means of utilising this comfort companionship.  Artwork is particularly good for the elderly generally, so if you can find some creative spark, especially craft related since you can get them to help, this is a good way of reducing your inevitable feelings of helplessness and loneliness.  Again, being online, you can find various places to dispose of what you have made once you have come up with a product.  Cooking may be your thing, but make sure you have an audience to consume what you have made if this is the case.

There are some examples of fairly high powered people who are in exactly the same position as you, and who have admitted that caring is the hardest thing they have ever done.  You have to be tough and self aware to pull off the whole caring thing, and being a nice gentle person will not cut it when the person you are looking after becomes difficult.

Some days are horrific, and you will feel like the worst person in the world because you did not cope as well as you should have.  You are a person too, so it is important to remember that the scummy person criticising you has no idea what you are going through, or that nobody becomes an angel at age 70.  My elderly best friend was one of the most evil, fun people I have ever encountered.  She would have been fun at 30, and she was fun at 89.

There are times when your patient will start a fight out of boredom and frustration, and it is in the nature of dementia, in particular, that they will play people off against one another for sheer spite.  It is in your interests to remain out of it, for your own sanity as well as ensuring that your patient does not inadvertently catch themselves in the crossfire.  There are very few cases in which carehomes are the best option, so even if you have a bad month, it does not make you a bad person.  Two years ago, my mother did not let me sleep for more than two hours for four months.  It was appalling, but we got through it, just as we got through her stroke, the death of her husband and brother, and the dishonest and despicable behaviour of her children.

Finally, pat yourself on the back for your commitment despite all this.  You are probably stupid for being so softhearted and allowing everyone to take advantage of you. Congrats for having what it takes to tolerate the bullshit that goes with it.

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Online education

The world of online education has developed considerably since I last checked five to ten years ago, and, having had an unexpected windfall, I am currently exploiting it to the full.

This has meant that I have postponed a lot of the stuff I was working on, in order to develop the next strands of work.  Apologies if you were happy just with the old ones, but every so often I have to rampage off to learn something in order to develop the next chapter, so to speak.

I have managed to cobble together about 3000GBP worth of courses for around 200GBP, and look forward to using my new found skills during my next assault on the cold and stony heart of Mr Wolfe.

To avoid aging and becoming stale, I recommend that a personal review is done every five years or so, especially if you have ongoing creative work.  Here are a few options, often free, for online learning:

 

EDX – courses from the World’s best universities

Coursera – free online courses

Udacity – free online courses

Alison – free online courses

Udemy – free online courses

futurelearn – free online courses

open 2 study

Derby University

Free Master’s Degrees in the EU

I am sure you could find more, but these are the ones I am working on at the moment.  I will stop occasionally, but I need to get about 30 courses complete before the next stage of the project, and I have encouraged Twisty to do a few also, so I guesstimate that the first games will not be complete until June.

Do enjoy looking through the courses, and be aware if paying for a course, that if you would like more than one, they tend to send you special offers when you buy one, so be prudent!

 

Ina

The post Online Education, free and paid for appeared first on Ina Disguise – Author.

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Creative Funk and Blockages

Writer’s block means that you are either processing something, have yet to experience something necessary to your development, or simply have too much to worry about. It is not something that you should ever put yourself in the position of fearing. As someone who has many creative strands to my work, I usually deal with it by using one of the others, whether that is making cartoons, games, artwork or helping other people work through their stuff.

Chatting to a friend earlier this evening, we were discussing why he does not seem to want to promote his acclaimed work. It turns out that bad experiences from his past prevent him, on the grounds that he is somehow jinxed. This, coupled with having had successful projects hijacked, has led to a creative block that has been extremely frustrating for me as the viewer, and extremely limiting for him. Despite this, he has managed several small projects, but is suffocated by what I can only describe as a sense of despondence and fear of success.

In this case, it is film-maker’s and graphic novelist’s block, rather than writer’s block. He, in common with another film-maker I have had dealings with, limits himself by not effectively working around the blockage. This is an intermittent, rather than a constant, problem, and in the meantime I take the rather selfish approach of involving him in my stuff (he does all the photography for the store, and is creating the covers for this year’s crop of books.) I feel quite bad about this, however, as his time would be better spent generating more of his own work and starting new strands, in a holistic development. You often find, on your downtime from one area that you work in, that you unexpectedly grow in a new direction.

I have many authors on my friend’s lists, and barely a day goes by that someone does not complain of being blocked, or that they feel guilty that they have not written that day. In comparison, I frequently do not write for months at a time, and feel nothing at all about it. As I have previously mentioned, Agatha Christie said that she knew she was a professional writer because she wrote things she did not like, at times she did not want to write. I have no plans to be in this position. Deadlines are helpful, but you do not become better by hammering out pulp. I am lucky enough to be feeling quite vital at the moment, but should this change, I have a game to construct and some artwork to do.

It often does not look as if you are doing anything at all, when your work is creative, and then you look back on your day and you have written a press release, researched another couple of textures, absorbed some patterns and shapes, tidied your workspace, sorted some materials for another day. If you look on your writer’s block in a similar way, your brain does need time to store information, process it, and proceed to output mode. You can try scribbling tasklists and notes to yourself in the meantime, to try to speed up this process, but it will happen by itself eventually. Mindmapping was a useful technique I used at university, and it certainly helps a lot with business plans and presentations. Plotting the thought bubbles sometimes makes things a lot clearer.

Negative events often cause you to remain in this state of blockage or funk for several years, when you could just break it down into neat chunks. I was very aware throughout this particular creative period, of what was going on, because I had seen it all before. Years ago, I might have bothered to meet Wolfe, on the assumption that there was some magical source of the waterfall of emotion, but even two years of personal misery did not deter me from the creative outcome, thankfully.

Be aware, as a creative person, that the bad things that happen to you are probably even more useful to you than the nice things. Relentless positivity is for insecure, easily threatened people that are unwilling to develop in a realistic way. The bad years, you will find, provide a more stable footing for your growth in the good ones, if you teach yourself to look on it the right way. My friend can now make well regarded film with minimal money, due to the horrific things that have happened to him. If I can just get him past this unwillingness to shout about it – there is no reason why he cannot expand on this if he wants to. It has taken probably the whole fifteen years I have known him for me to understand why he strangles himself with the hostile form of self-doubt that prevents us finishing certain projects. Which brings me to my final point – unfinished projects should not be binned – it is possible that your brain awaits a future event to teach you what you need to know. Growth is not always a smooth process, but it gets a lot smoother when you learn to protect yourself from shock, and that no material is bad material when you are a creative flower.

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Make it happen

Let me tell you a story, today, about my sister.  Not the off-the-planet crazy one, but her sidekick, the drunk.  She is fifty five years old, and has nothing positive to contribute to the world.  If asked about any subject at all, she becomes aggressive and defensive, and will not lift a finger for anyone unless there is a self-serving reason for doing so.

 

Many years ago, when I was still a child, she told me to ‘get as much as I could’ because I wasn’t in the will, as it was made in 1964.  Little did she know, that neither was she.  My father took pains to tell me that his money had been amassed purely for my mother’s benefit, and that she was to have as much fun as possible.  The year that my sister told me this, my mother told me that I was ‘to look after her once they were gone, as she wouldn’t be able to cope.’  And so the world turns.  The selfless must care for the selfish.

 

Several years later, and this particular sister was telling me that I could not possibly understand her dilemmas on life, as ‘my life changes every day.’  This is true, if I want to change something, I do not tend to see obstacles in the way of my changing it.  It may take a long time, or, as in the case of Wolfe, be improbable, but nothing is out of reach as far as I am concerned, even now. (in case he drops in on one of his ina-binges, this aside does not relate to meeting him in person as I would regard this as a waste of my time)

 

My sister has been in a constant rut since she was fifteen years old.  She will do almost anything to avoid thinking for herself, and seems to believe that her rut is not only righteous, but a source of comfort.  She is one of the unhappiest people I have ever met, despite having amassed quite a bit of money by staying in stable but mind numbing jobs which require a plodding non-initiative based approach.  In short, the drunk is a screaming, poisonous bore.

 

This stability, and the effects of long term drinking, has led to her becoming a bitter, vindictive and malicious person who imposes her very narrow view of the world on anyone she perceives as weaker than herself.  In the company of the narcissist serial bully, she is extremely dangerous, since she believes whatever she hears from the stronger personality, and carries out her deranged instructions.  One of their many complaints about me began with ‘my elderly mother is extremely well looked after.’  This as they dumped my unwell mother back at our home and called in a complaint implying that my eldest sister’s inability to look after her was all my fault and that I should somehow be punished.

 

The lack of rationality aside, these women are both extremely unhappy, despite having comfortable and unrestricted lives.  When I compare them with my own extremely constricted situation and frequent hardships whilst looking after my mother, I wonder why their freedom seems to go with such intense unhappiness that they must spend quite so much of their time inventing fantasy complaints about the life of my mother and I.  Considering this liberty and affluence, I fear having nothing to strive for.  Would it turn me into a bitter, grasping and nasty waste of space, clawing at the air in a deranged search for meaning in my life?

 

This week, I suggested to her that she might be happier moving away from the rest of the family and getting a life of her own.  Her immediate reaction to this is likely to be that I am being manipulative.  How she could manage to find manipulation in my stating clearly that this is what she should do, to free herself of the influence of the very spoilt and vindictive eldest sister, with the worry and spite that goes with it, I do not know, but I am entirely confident that she will complain to anyone that will listen that I have suggested that she simply go and seek happiness elsewhere instead of interfering with our lives for the benefit of nobody.

 

The likely outcome is that nobody will challenge this stupidity, and she will remain a thorn in our side, stopping us from doing anything remotely pleasant, for my mother’s remaining years.  This is extremely tiresome.  Her rut is now gaping wide enough for us all to fall into it.

 

If you are unhappy, you affect everyone.  Make it happen.

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You will spend your money on….

This is the time of year when you have just slightly overspent on your family and friends, and socialising in the event that you have employment and suitable friends/colleagues.  You will now be considering diet products, as you will seek to lose weight for your forthcoming holidays, which are traditionally planned at this time of year.  In the event that you have the time and inclination, you will also be considering a New Year’s resolution, which may also cost you money.  After the debauchery season, comes the austerity season.

Your spending is highly regulated by media influence throughout the year.  This is much the same whatever your income bracket.  It is a skillfully managed machine that has become finely tuned over the last three centuries or so, since the rise of the department store and initial increase in marketing budgets that led us to where we are today.

It is alarming, when you are unused to it or know how the system of manipulation works, how smoothly you are induced to slip into a state where you are easily induced to spend with the herd.  Your diet is as relevant to this as any other part of it.  Take out the traditional food, socialising, willingness to conform and you quickly realise how often, and how fully you are lied to in the course of the year.

I used to wonder why people would want a holiday every year, because I loved work so much.  Now that I am ‘on duty’ 24 hours a day, 7 days a week I actually need a holiday once or twice a year, in line with those who chose to have children or who have been trapped in a particularly tedious job and lifestyle by circumstance.  Most things that people in the west want are actually social constructs to make someone else a living.

Once you accept this, and try swimming against the tide somewhat, you will discover just how fast the streaming goes.  In my lifetime we have gone from 20 year spending phases of life to 5 or less.  It used to be that you had the childhood phase, the disposable income phase, the young family phase, the mature family phase, the post family phase.  Now we have more individualistic phases to extract the cash from a wider range of people. Computers and gadgets have caused a proportion of the population to genuinely believe that they need the latest phone/social media/computer/game/movie, and they need it now.  To fund this, they need a ready supply of fairly meaningless and unfulfilling work, and during the course of this they need to lie, agree to say nothing about things they don’t agree with, or pretend to like someone who really is not at all admirable.  The age of the role model, and the age of integrity have gone in favour of the great Capitalist con.

The irony is that our national economies performed much better when we favoured honesty and were shown examples of heroic rebellion.  Saying yes to people we have no respect for, on the grounds that they have a nicer suit or car, is what led to the economic crash.  Banks and supersized companies alike, favour the cheating robot over the honest and devoted employee.  This is not healthy.  The Western economies fully deserve the downfall they will suffer in the next century or so as a result.  Sooner or later, command capitalism or simply a well educated, well motivated developing nation who admire progress will eat us all alive, unless we learn how to look back and learn.

As individuals, we need to learn to swim against the tide.  Every time a stupid acquaintance remarks on our old car or clothes we should learn to righteously sneer at their frivolity and congratulate ourselves at avoiding the great capitalist con that keeps them in debt.  There is no actual joy to be gained from being endlessly available or engaged in pursuits that are simply designed to drain our finances into someone else’s pocket.

It is important to remember that the multiplier effect only goes so far.  We in the West dropped the idea of real money some years ago, in favour of virtual money that moves as a number without any currency to back it up.

Be ahead of the game, rather than sorry at the end of it. Any economic growth they report now is directly at the expense of another nation, students or sectors of society that you are told to hate, for a variety of increasingly spurious reasons.  Hate the fat, hate the elderly, hate the disabled in relation to the welfare bill or the NHS.  Hate the Muslims whilst we destroy their countries for yet more gain.  Hate whoever they tell you to hate, but do not be deceived that it has anything to do with anything apart from the money.

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Widely Spread Lies

Anyone can be anything they want – no, they cannot.  Life is a series of trade-offs, for a variety of reasons associated with their mental capacity, commitments outside work including geography, family and social.  People select the best available option, they do not get to choose from a wide variety of options in many cases.

Avoid negative people to get further in life – unless you choose to be alone most of the time, this is not really possible.  Negative people can be helpful in unexpected ways.  Where would Eeyore be if Winnie the Pooh, piglet and Robin acted like that?

You cannot avoid your family – yes you can.  My mother’s children certainly aren’t people I would choose to associate with.  They are greedy, irresponsible, dishonest nasty people and I refuse to parent people who are quite a bit older than I am.

Your destiny is your responsibility – this goes with anyone can be anything they want.  It is a lie.  See previous answer.

Friends are important – no, they are a nice-to-have.  They are expensive, time consuming and assume undue influence on your life.

Love conquers all – no it does not.

To give is better than to receive – again not true.  As someone who has spent most of her life being told that it is somehow unacceptable to give away my work for a variety of reasons by a variety of unworthy people, I can tell you that giving is often used as a reason for making you feel bad.

It is selfish or negative not to capitulate to a majority in a social situation – nope.  I had to again put my foot down today as I was being railroaded.  Even working from a chair in your own home involves standing up for yourself, apparently.

Karma – this does not exist.  Bad people will probably not ‘get what’s coming to them,’  and as I have hopefully begun to demonstrate, bad people are not necessarily bad if they are simply not doing what you want them to do.

Famous people are special, separate from the rest of the population, more attractive and more pleasant than the rest of the world – no, definitely not.  Celebrity ain’t what it used to be, and there does not appear to be a school for gracious stars to tell them how to handle themselves.

Superficially, we seem to be creating a heavily Americanized culture of what I would term obese superficiality, in which we tell each other the same lies every day. Not everyone is going to reach their star, and it is just as well because if they did, it would not be worth reaching.  Talent takes work, for most people, and there is a world of difference between someone creating a persona and someone actually having the quality they would like you to believe that they have.

So, what to do when you discover that no part of your life is going to be even slightly pleasant? Change direction.  Sometimes the direction will be unclear, sometimes the goal will be blurry, not everything will work out.  All you can do is try.  I once made the point to a group of students that the emphasis on lending money to small businesses was somewhat spurious, and led to thousands of people a year losing their future prospects to failed ideas.  If you reconsider your ideas, generally there is a cheaper way of starting out on almost any project.  To demonstrate my point, I started a business with ten pounds, and by the end of four weeks had made eleven hundred.

Flexibility and determination is a lot more important than capital investment. Not believing the bullshit you are fed is more important than blindly believing anything in the hope of gain. Never assume that anything is as it appears, and you will not only become a more critical thinker, but a happier person and then, and only then, we can all get along much better and not sit posting the lies of the powerless rather than actually getting a life.

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The True cost of Celebrity

The True cost of Celebrity

Piers Morgan, Tony Blair, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, Gordon Brown, JK Rowling, Eddie Izzard.

These names alone will ensure that this blog entry will be read by several new readers.

The reason for this is much the same reason that people used to read tabloid newspapers.  They want to be shocked by something that doesn’t actually affect them at all.

Yesterday, Nicki Minaj’s many complaints about Anaconda not being given an award, despite her having followed some formula that she had seen in Marie Claire about nudity in pop videos, were very, very significant on Twitter, aided and abetted by Piers Morgan’s counter complaint that she had not realised how terribly important his children were once upon a long, long time ago.

May I remind you that none of the people in the first row of this article wish you well, or intend to promote you or your work in any way.  They are just generating  publicity to line their own pockets.

It used to be referred to as being a ‘lickspittle‘, back when the general population still had a decent education. You are welcome to look this up. They distract you from the truth, so that you continue with your lives and do not take any action to better or help yourselves. ‘Spokespeople for the establishment,’ who would like to make sure that everything stays the same.

Anaconda was not a particularly bad video, indeed for a song which must have taken Nicki Minaj all of 20 minutes to write, I am sure she put a great deal of work into it.  Her public image, only partially derived from that of Lil Kim, is, I am sure, positive for many people who think that buying makeup and clothes will somehow lead to a better life for all youth, not just the outraged black youth that were so keen to avoid reading Piers Morgan’s article yesterday, branding him a racist.  He probably is a racist, but that is not what his article was about, and it does not matter what you think, as long as you are sufficiently aroused to notice his name when you see it.

Do not be deceived, Piers Morgan is trying to revive his profile in America, because he would like to be on TV.  We in the UK, as with Russell Brand, are delighted to oblige you with as many annoying celebrities as you care to pay. Nicki Minaj is complaining for your attention, Taylor Swift, the current darling of the establishment, already has it.

Meanwhile in the UK, we have the same sort of illusion in politics.  Tony Blair is pretending to care about the Labour leader election, because he wants a right-wing acolyte party that closely resembles the Conservatives. He also wants to distract you from his charging  330,000GBP for appearing at an event for world hunger.  Tony, as you can see, cares about you, and you should listen to every word he says, as he takes every self-advantageous opportunity that comes his way.

Gordon Brown, a man now so hated in Scotland that he dare not stand in his own constituency, also thinks he will up his after-dinner speech fee by pretending to come out of retirement to save the Labour Party, a Party so hamstrung by the cult of personality that nobody can make a decision until someone else tells them to.

Even well established authors are not immune from this famewhore behaviour.  J. K. Rowling, an English author who chose to live in Scotland, invested heavily in trying to sway the Scottish referendum.  Since then, she has continuously complained that she is not liked in Scotland.  She has had many column inches, varying from how great she is on Twitter, to, em, how great she is on Twitter. She has done very well with her spare million, in terms of column inches, and potential placement on the honours list.Eddie Izzard, a rather faded star these days, also felt that Scotland was a good publicity opportunity, and so he and a few media friends came up to support Jim Murphy, a politician so dreadful that he tried to associate himself with a can of Irn Bru during his campaign.  Because Scottish voters are clearly stupid according to Jim.  Are we clear on this yet?

THESE PEOPLE DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOU AT ALL.

They do not care about your life, they do not care about politics, they do not care about bettering the world, they do not care what happens after they die.  They are not lofty, special beings.  They are here to make money and get ahead.  They do not care.

Almost all the news is just a distraction to make you think you are keeping in touch with reality.  You aren’t.  Let me give you an example:

During Gordon Brown’s term, a news programme came on TV.  Two stories were of note.

1. Children of women who stay at home do better at school.

2. Chinese people rescuing baby pandas from a flood.

Ah, I said, There aren’t enough jobs for everyone, and Gordon Brown has signed something for the UK to do business with China.

I went out, got into my car, put on Radio 4.  The news came on, the first two stories were:

1.  Unemployment has increased, and several thousand more jobs are to be lost shortly.

2.  Gordon Brown has signed a deal with China.

This is reality. There is no them and us.  There is you, and then there is the power hungry fool you voted for, bought a newspaper from, or bought music from. You need to take your wallet and give it a long hard stare.

As I have been telling you, it is all a distraction.  The only person who can really change the world is you.  Yes, all of you. Each of you.  If anyone were to stop and think about an ideal world, this would not be it.

#youmatter

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Problems with Motivational Speaking

So, now that I have given you a rough guide to why Wolfe is not such a bad guy after all, (see previous posts) I would now like to go into the problems of the methodology of American motivational speaking.

Strong elements from the past also render it extremely weak for the following broad reasons:

Plain English – motivational speaking is popular because of the homely tenor of delivery – speakers such as Earl Shoaff were poorly educated guys who took to network marketing to earn some extra buttons in the early part of their life.  Jim Rohn himself was basically a sales trainer for Herbalife in the latter part of his career.  I cannot imagine the level of worship that he enjoyed being replicated in Europe, for a number of very good cultural reasons. Whilst I have no problem with imaginative and non-patronising explanations for things – I once used doughnuts to explain the main theories in social philosophy, for example, sticking with a formula which worked sixty years ago is extremely limiting.  I watched Wolfe in the early part of his career becoming extremely frustrated with the apathy he was confronted with as he tried to grow various early versions of his model. (kudos to Wolfe for leaving this material online for me to gawk at)  Since then, he has found other ways around the problem. Suffice to say, the world has changed considerably since the Dale Carnegie/Earl Shoaff golden era of smartly dressed and respectful audiences writing down every word their chosen guru says. Today’s audience is more focused on education and a level of information provision that Shoaff and Rohn simply did not have to worry about. So, the answer here is to develop a more advanced methodology which includes a little tragedy with the optimism and present a more balanced and believable picture than in the past.

The rich are too rich – One of the more interesting features of Rohn, in this case, is that he does not bother to present himself as a particularly nice person, the grin that does not reach his cold dead eyes is particularly marked.  His assertion that we should wish to leave the 90/95/97 percent behind simply does not suit modern thinking – economically speaking, people are now well aware that having a tiny percentage of extremely rich people at the expense of everyone else is not a feature of a healthy society. So, rather than a ‘forget the negatives and affirm yourself to wealth’ approach, today’s speakers would be well advised to shoot for an informative way to implore the audience to collectively raise their personal bar of achievement.  I had a look at The Secret a few years back, and it was so despicable in its approach that I was unable to continue with it.  Reality check – people are starving to death and we all hate banks – social capital is the future, not leaving people behind to die whilst we roll about in our money. Interestingly, economic anthropology shows that we are thinking more consciously about others in the west as our countries are richer – third world experiments show a far more dog-eat-dog mentality.  So, unless you plan to market to a developing nation – try to show some sign of ethical values.

Plagiarism – keeping a journal of things to make you richer is a very bad idea unless you plan to reference everything extremely carefully.  It is considered to be acceptable in oratory, because obviously it is impossible to reference every line you say in the course of delivering information.  It is, however, relatively simple to paraphrase, and equally easy to mention the source of your great ideas. Rohn’s premise of journal keeping, and using anecdotal material to get your point across is just not going to cut it for the future. Instead, it is again quite easy to pepper your material with useful or otherwise stimulating information and heartfelt goodwill to your fellow humans.

The pyramid must die – This is a personal observation – it is time to kill the pyramid – the one percent sit at the top of it.  There are other formulations, from the time of the Medici, which I am able to go into, but will save this for a different post or possibly book. If you are employing or being told to employ your affirmations or motivational techniques as part of a sales scheme in which you are on the lower ranks of yet another layered network, just get out of it and find some ideas of your own.  You are not onto a winner in the vast majority of cases.

Stop hitching your wagon to other people – I have witnessed life coaches and motivational speakers alike who speak in almost religious terms about their inspiration.  I think I have demonstrated from my non-relationship with Wolfe that it is entirely unnecessary to worship your inspiration.  It is entirely possible to see people for what they are, admire them for the good bits, and kick them in the ass for the bad.  It is called, amusingly, being objective.  Objective objectification, in my case, presumably, given my ongoing project. I do this mainly because I want him to get what he wants from his life, but this does not mean that I have any responsibility for his success or failure, that is entirely up to him.  My direction is parallel, rather being on the same wagon trail. The point is that there is no answer – you should be shooting for your own path, not dragging your heels on someone else’s. Which brings me on to my final point for this evening –

Original Material – despite the many problems I would love to get my teeth into, (alas I am not a 22 year old beach bunny) Wolfe’s use of whimsy kept me listening to him for several weeks before I realised why it sounded so familiar, and yet so odd.  His timing is impeccable, just when you are thinking you have heard enough about premium spirulina, along comes some random wildness that shocks you back into your chair.  Whilst this is to be applauded, it is important to self-generate something that is completely your own.  You need to wallow happily in your own filth, to a certain extent, to be producing something that you are so comfortable with that you own your topic, whether you are writing, or speaking.  Being confident is not about following a model, it is about making use of a model for your own purposes.  It is imperative that any keen audience get some sense of acceptance. Bringing a sense of dignity to your audience whilst raising their consciousness may seem like a return to an evangelical approach, but it is perfectly possible to instill pride, and make use of it, in an audience which has been lulled into defeat by an increasingly oppressive meritocratic approach.  This does not mean that you start every speech with tales of poverty and anecdotes of failure, as used by Zig Ziglar, but it does mean that you remove the barriers from an increasingly cynical and browbeaten public.

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A Goal is a Dream with a Deadline

One thing since my family disaster in the form of both parents getting dementia has been the death of the personal deadline. I should be concerned about this, since I have traditionally been fond of work deadlines as a method of avoiding the rest of my life.

I am going to fly in the face of any motivator and tell you the truth – deadlines are no good for quality. I have got much further since I abandoned the deadline. I do things when I feel like it, for as long as I feel like it and the rest of my time is pretty much eaten up by 24/7 responsibility for my mother and her property.

The fact that I am trapped in the house by her illness and the lack of support has meant that I have no distractions in the form of looking after or enjoying myself, and so I feel I can afford the luxury of time. Some of the first batch were being thought about for over a year before they were actually completed, and I can honestly say this has made my work better.

The work went into the 3rd dimension only after a personal crisis brought about by an event outlined vaguely in Best Scandal Ever. Finding out that I cannot expect even the smallest amount of respect from a desk jockey agent when trying to help somebody basically caused me to decide that nothing mattered, and the removal of time and the restraint of ambition has meant I have all the time in the world to perfect this one thing that I can confidently say is unique to me.

So much for your standard motivational garbage then. A disaster of rejection has led to me finally doing what I probably should have done in the first place – ignore everyone and do whatever I feel, whenever I feel like doing it.

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Introversion improves Confidence

Do you ever find yourself saying what you think people want to hear?  Do you cringe at what you have said and wonder why you felt you had to say it?  Are you the hardest worked life and soul of the party you know? Do you regard yourself as over-reactive and try to compensate with over-generosity or putting even more work into making people like you?  Do you ever fall victim to ‘running your mouth?’  If you answer yes to any or all of these things you may be an extrovert introvert.

An extrovert-introvert is basically an introvert who chooses to appear as an extrovert.  This may be for a variety of reasons.  Work was mine.  Head chefs in particular, may think that they are necessarily loud, big personalities who dominate the space they are in because it is expedient for the purposes of getting the job done under pressure. eg. Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White etc.  Some of the best chefs I have met, however, were actually shy, quiet people who worked to greater technical specification and gained more respect from the art itself. eg. Anton Mossiman, Andrew Fairlie.

I remember when I was very young, saying that I could not cope with any more crowds as I was getting tired from having to be six or seven people.  Quite apart from the callow and impressionable youth, I was expressing my introversion. Living in a very large house, I had always had the luxury of several hours a day with no-one bothering me, which I would spend reading or making things, since music was frowned upon, but that is another story.

If you frequently find yourself beating yourself up over stuff you have said or done, it may be time to admit to yourself that you actually prefer your own company and spending some time ALONE.  It is almost certainly better for your health than constantly tripping over an overactive tongue, and may save you future problems with your existing relationships.  I certainly found that after I became a recluse, the people who wanted to see me badly enough to seek me out, were doing so to get some sort of guidance that I had no idea I was providing.  You are nearly always stronger/brighter/quicker than you think.

After ten years away from my old friends when travelling, I was astonished to find that the vast majority of them had done nothing apart from seek validation from each other since I had left.   This seemed to me to be very sad.  Now, as an unashamed introvert, having distanced myself even from them, I achieve a lot more and am better rested and considerably more confident than I ever was as a bad tempered, brusque chef who was always in charge.

It is wise to conduct a cost benefit analysis, and figure out if you can squeeze yourself some time alone.  Make it a priority and find out who you really are.  I can tell you that almost all of the time, you are better off without the advice of even the most well-meaning friend, and you are certainly better off without the warped role playing advice of your family.

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