In Pursuit of Awesome

In search of a not-so-normal life.

Month: August, 2013

Gotta Get Away.

These past two weeks for me have been very crowded. By that I mean there have people absolutely everywhere. Ev-er-y-where. On walks, in cars, hotel rooms, living rooms, lunches and dinner – sometimes even in my own bed. I’ve been completely surrounded. No matter where I go, someone, somewhere needs me to do something, or just feels the need to talk at me. Even as I write this, I have a dog gnawing at my foot for attention and the gardeners have just starting mowing the lawn. On both sides of the house. (Note: No animals, feet or gardeners were harmed in the making of this blog post)

And it’s completely burned me out.

My appetite has been less, my overall mood has been lowered and my ability to put up with small talk has been almost non-existent. It’s safe to say my irritability setting has been set at ‘high’. There is nothing I want more in the world than to be alone right now.

As I pointed out in my power of personalities post, I’m a bit of an introvert. I like my own space, time to think and I thoroughly enjoy my own company at times. Sometimes, it’s really hard to find.

Thankfully, I’ve found a method of finding my own solace in a world that just wont stop. And it only takes me a few minutes, sat upright in a quiet room on my own. (No, not doing that, c’mon, my mum might read this.)

Meditation: My Ultimate 5 minute get away

Okay, don’t run away just yet.

In my time I’ve read a fair bit about spirituality, self-help and goal setting. Working with clients on a long term basis, I found it helped significantly to get the most out of people. One thing that a lot of things touched on is Meditation.

Initially this is always something I glanced over and never gave a second thought to. I used to think, ‘You’ve got two hopes of me sitting on a rock in someone’s garden wearing hammer pants and chanting ‘Ohm’ for an hour’. It was just a load of old tripe, right? Well I guess the fact it’s still around after a few thousand years should have given it some merit.

Meditation for those who aren’t too familiar is the art of sitting still, breathing and being alone with oneself. People use it for different aspects – aiding mental clarity, problem solving and just downright escaping the real world.

Now this isn’t a cure-all. It’s not been a magic fix, but it’s made my days far, far easier. It’s helped me escape some of the noise and be alone for a small period of time. There is no replacement for me to being alone, with a notebook and a little music. But I’ve found it useful, and I think it’s a worthwhile tool in everyone’s arsenal:

 

If you’ve had any experiences with meditation or have your own way of escaping, share it in the comments section below. I’d love to know how you manage with it.

 JJ

The Importance of the Wolf Pack

“Wait a second, could it be?” And now I know for sure, I just added two more guys to my wolf pack. Four of us wolves, running around the desert together, in Las Vegas – Alan Garner, The Hangover

The wolf pack. For those of you who don’t know, it’s the ingenious creation of a scriptwriter, for an amazing film that started one of the poorest trilogies ever. It describes the group of people that Alan Garner surrounds himself with. He starts off as a loner, and is very choosey about whom he adds in to his pack – despite the fact he is socially inept and can’t add many people anyway. The wolf pack becomes your closest friends, the people you surround yourself with the most. The ones who influence your life.

My first real exposure to a ‘wolf pack’ comes from my cousin. Growing up, he’s been like a big brother to me. As long as I can remember, he’s always had the same key group of close friends. They’re probably just about heading in to their second decade of friendship. The group has always grown, shrunk and been apart for long periods of time. But they’ve come back together, and the pillars of the group have always remained.

All these guys are successful in their own right – professional athletes, engineers, business owners, managers, teachers and actors. Their networks are extensive, and they’re always willing to help you if you need it. When I spoke to my cousin about this in a bar in Hamburg he said, ‘We’re all pretty successful, and we just seem to attract successful people’ – That may be slightly misquoted because we were a good few beers in by that time. But the point still stands.

But, do they attract successful people because they are successful – or are they successful because of the people they surround themselves with?

Who are you spending your time with?

A good way that a psychology lecturer once put it to me is, ‘You are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with’. Your attitude, desires, fashion sense, word’s you say, mannerisms and work ethic – all these things can be influenced by the people around you. Don’t believe me? Look at your current group of friends, and the way they say things. If you find that one person starts saying ‘Awesome’ to describe something, within a good week you’ll be using it for everything. There will be something in there that you’ve either picked up, or influenced yourself.

Successful businessmen tend to surround themselves with others that are like them. Athletes spend most of their time around other athletes. People on Jeremy Kyle spend a lot of their time around other people with no teeth and welfare cheques. If you surround yourself with a certain type of people, then you get a certain outcome.

Let me hold it there though. I’m not saying if you surround yourself with Fortune 500 company owners, you’ll become one. These guys work hard, day and night to achieve these things. You are not entitled to anything because of your group of friends. What I am trying to get at is the people your mind-set would start to change and you’ll want those things. Your network would also be better suited to your goals.

Traveling in the way I am right now, I find myself forced in to other peoples company. Living, working and spending long car journeys with people you sort-of know. These guys all come from different backgrounds, with different views of the world. Some can be cynical and negative; others can be positive and life affirming.  I find a lot of people with Limiting Beliefs (that’s a whole topic for another day) that resign them to certain paths. These are people I try to avoid or cut from my social circle. Not because they are bad people or I don’t like them – but because I don’t need that influence in to my life.

There is nothing wrong with your friends

Your friends are probably pretty good people. You’ll have people you want to go down to the pub with, and people you would want to be the best man (or bridesmaids) at your wedding. I don’t know any of them, so I can’t judge. And his or her influence will be perfect on someone’s life.

The ultimate question though is – Is this persons influence good on my life?

If you’re overall goal is make a big life change and say, lose 50lbs. But you have a friend who keeps twisting your arm and you end up going out for pizza and beers 3 nights a week because of their influence. Do you need that person in your life?

Of course there is always the question about willpower, but without that influence there life gets easier. It’s like trying to quit drinking in a brewery – the odds are stacked against you.

The people you surround yourself with is paramount to your overall success, in anything. Old friends will always be there, but you have to make sure that these people have a positive effect on your life. People who hold you back just stand in your way, even if you have been friends since you were 3 years old.

Cutting people out of your life if hard, but in the pursuit of an awesome life we only want to be surrounded by awesome people. Vampires, Critics and people who hold us back have no place in our lives.

JJ

The Route of Pure Awesomeness

This week has been one of the best weeks of my life, period. It’s not very often we get a week off out here. We work pretty niche hours with plenty of free time, but we’re always bound to be somewhere. This week was different though, we managed to score a week off to work our way back to California. Houston to Los Angeles is the best part of 25 hours sat in a car. With 4 sweaty guys in a Chevvy Impala that’s less than ideal.

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Here’s the challenge for the week off; Houston to California by Friday (we left Saturday) with a pretty simple route; Houston – New Orleans – Dallas – Albuquerque – Williams/Grand Canyon – Las Vegas – Los Angeles. Also known as the ‘Route of Pure Awesomeness’ by…literally nobody, except for me. Not even the other guys in the car. Each of these places has been picked because they have something stand out that we can do in a snapshot – we sometimes had less than 18 hours in one place – and take a brilliant experience from. Here goes nothing.

New Orleans, LA

This place is absolutely surreal. The 36 hours I was there were crazy. I haven’t been anywhere like it and I don’t think I ever will go anywhere like it again. The skyline tends to be a big indicator to me of how a city is going to be – the prettier, the better – and it didn’t disappoint. Towering high-rises, the super dome and the obvious French touch to some of the smaller buildings makes for some impressive viewing.

This is the only place I’ve been where to where I’ve been forced to do the trouser skank every 4-5 steps. The trouser skank is where you check every single one of your pockets to make sure everything is still there. One of my only drawbacks is that pickpockets are rife, more so than anywhere else I’ve been so far. Suburbs and ‘Ghettos’ (I use that term because, well, that’s how the locals described them) are still hit by Katrina some 8 years later, and people have to resort to things.

Putting that aside though, the culture there is unreal. There are quaint little French buildings, coffee shops, jazz music and seafood restaurants coming out of your ears. Bourbon street itself to me is reminiscent of Amsterdam – or anywhere on mainland Europe for a night out – lots of bar’s thrown in to a tight little area, perfect for crawling from side to the other. Sometimes literally if you have enough of the 3 dollar oversized beers.

ImageNOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) is by far a world away from anywhere else in America, but if you like friend shrimp sandwiches, coffee and crazy amounts of alcohol, it’s worth a visit.

Dallas, TX

My time in Dallas was just a short run through. We got to our hotel at 11pm, and we checked out at 8am. The plan was to see as much of the city as we could in the morning, then hit our 11-hour drive to New Mexico. In proper fashion though, we miscalculated our times and gave ourselves a little less time than expected. So, armed with about 2 hours worth of enjoyment-time, we headed to AT&T Stadium. For those of you not big on NFL, this is home to the Dallas Cowboys – America’s Team. The stadium is $1 billion worth of structure and is one of the most impressive things I’ve seen close up.

This unfolded to be one of my most worthwhile experiences ever. And I mean, we’re talking I could probably tick the ‘die happy’ box after that morning. We caught wind that you were able to do a self-guided tour for $17.50, which allowed you to go on to the field. A few million dollars worth of professional NFL turf. For $17.50. Yeah. That was happening. After a quick purchase of a small ball, we headed to the field for one of the most amazing things ever. I kicked a field goal, scored a touchdown, celebrated, did cartwheels, fell over and cut my knee. Best. Morning. Ever. I think my video below can do it more justice:

Yeah, I know. Sign me up. All in all I was pretty disappointed that I couldn’t have seen more of Dallas. But I fulfilled some dreams and went somewhere most NFL fans will never go, that’ll do me.

Albuquerque, NM

I’m sorry to report that the home of breaking bad was very much just a rest stop on our way to the Grand Canyon. After all the fun in Dallas, 12 hours cooped up in the car left us very little time to do anything. We slept, ate, brushed our teeth and hit the road again.

I will point out that this is the most cockroaches I have ever seen in one place. Not even in the houses. On the cars, pavements, tree’s and homeless people.

Williams, AZ

Also known as the ‘Gateway to the Grand Canyon’. The Canyon essentially is a massive hole in the ground. Eroded my the Colorado River and snowy winter conditions, it covers over 270 miles in length and 18 miles at it’s widest. It’s also one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

Have you ever had one of those moments where the world just stops? You hear nothing but silence, what’s happening in front of you becomes all encompassing and you’re lost so deeply in something it moves you? That’s what happened as soon as I stepped out on to the viewing platform. I could have stayed there for days, just taking it in. We stayed for a few hours, just finding different spots. Taking touristy photo’s and finding the most safe-yet-enough-to-make-your-spine-tingle overhangs to look down in to the gaping chasms from.

Don’t even think about it. Just come here and see it for yourself.

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Las Vegas, NV

This isn’t my first time in Vegas. This was round 3. And this time, it was personal.

I’ve never written about Vegas before, but it’s a wonder in it’s own right. The bright lights, the people, the towering intricately designed casinos, and the energy around the place. It’s a whole world within itself and the suburbs surrounding it seem a million miles away from whatever happens on the strip.

Our final night was already pre-planned. A pool party with Otto Knows performing a DJ set. Straight up baller. Now, I’m not usually a dance music fan. But there is just something about being in a pool, surrounded by strangers; drinking $8 dollar bottles of water that make it just feel right.

As they say ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’. But I will say that although the night was definitely out of my comfort zone, and I was burnt out from all the travelling, it was one of the best nights I’ve had in America.

Los Angeles, CA

6 states, 42 hours of driving , $250 of gas and a million memories later, here we are. All the way back to California. It’s not changed since I left 2 months ago, but I’m definitely glad to be here.

 Getting to LA officially marks the end of my summer. The next 3 months of my life are going to be spent here in Los Angeles, coaching soccer and seeing what experiences await me. To say I’m excited is an understatement.

JJ

The Power of Personalities.

Okay, so here I am. I’m sat here on my bed, completely wiped out. Some of the other coaches are out on a night out and all I can think about is curling up on my bed, reading my book and listening to Ben Howard on a loop. I’m definitely the epitome of fun right now – I’m the guy every girl wants to be with, and the guy every one wants to be, right? It’s all strobe lights and techno over here.

 Let me set the scene for you though. I’ve just finished a run of soccer camps that have been going on since June, most of which have been full or double day camps. The heat is intense and most of the day I can be found doing this:

I know, you’ve got the worlds smallest violin playing for me right now. It’s not exactly work. There are those of you sat reading this who would literally steal your bosses Sandwich just to trade places with me. But you see, this isn’t my natural arena. Standing in front of crowds, being the life of the party, singing and dancing – these are things I enjoy doing, but not the things I am meant to do.

 It might come as a surprise to some of you, but I am an introvert. I work well with solitude. I enjoy my own company and I’m pretty well designed to just sit and read book, watch a movie or go walking with my headphones on. Being in front of people all day burns me out and it takes a while for me to be ready for Monday when I’m going to do it all again.

 Some of you are probably thinking something along these lines right now, ‘Public speaking and a bit of jumping around all day? Sign me up, right now.’ – You guys would most likely be known as extroverts.

Introversion and Extroversion are terms you’ve probably heard thrown around a lot. They go through phases of being the en vogue term to describe why somebody is who they are. You’ve probably already got some sort of slightly stereotyped idea of whom each type of person is. The introvert probably being the shy, quiet, reserved guy with a pocket protector and a penchant for Mine-craft. The extrovert being the jock-like character who is always talking to someone and tries to get you to the local dive bar after work on a Friday. Once we understand where we sit on the spectrum between the two, we can really take hold of our lives and understand how we work as people.

 It’s all about energy

Our lives are not always congruent with our temperaments and personalities. In the day-to-day we might find ourselves in different situations that don’t best suit us. You might be an extrovert who works in payroll and spends a lot of time on their own in an office, and you might be an introvert who has to host and entertain clients on a daily basis. Either of these things would be a drain on your energy, because they don’t fit with you as a person.

In order for us to lead awesome, fulfilled lives with copious amounts of energy we need to learn to harness ourselves and understand what works for us. You can try and hammer a nail with an inflatable hammer all you want, but the nails not going to go anywhere.  If we understand how we should allocate our down time, we can be much more productive, better and assertive people.

So, how should I spend my down time?

You need to spend it how you want to spend it. If you’re an introvert, you’ll find yourself drawn to a good book, a long walk or something that involves you being by yourself. Giving yourself time to think, sit back, relax and assess things.

If you’re an extrovert, you’ll find yourself drawn to people. Socialising, being around people and even spending some time in the spotlight will help you replenish and get back on track.

There are no right or wrong ways to spend your free time, but make sure what you do is what you want to do and not what you think you should do.

How do I find out?

There are a few ways to find out, but I’m going to narrow it down to two options here to keep it simple.

First off is a Myers-Briggs test. Some of you may have taken one of these as part of testing at your place of work, or at a psychological assessment. It’s kind of the litmus test for your personality, and it allocates you certain letters for your personality type, learning styles etc. This is the test I took to find out I was an Introvert and I found the data it gives you extremely useful. You can take this test here; http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

Another way is to take the test on Susan Cain’s website. Susan is a leader in the Introvert world and has written some great stuff – You should check out her book, The Quiet – and her website has a more informal test which puts you in an either or category. It’s less founded in the science and more in personal preferences. You can take that test here; http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/quiet-quiz-are-you-an-introvert/

Now, time to take action

In our pursuit of awesome lives and living to the fullest, using this information to understand ourselves is high on our list. If you’re an introvert, listen to your quiet inner voice. If you’re an extrovert, go out and spend time with people – just don’t get arrested in the process. This information has made a world of difference to my life, and I’m sure it can only help you positively.

JJ

Lone Star Love.

Texas isn’t a place I would ever really have chosen to come to. It just seemed like a really angry Australia to me. It’s all cowboys, Indians, rednecks, trucks and country music right? A Bar fight on the way back to the horse and carriage would be regular sight, and there would be ten-gallon hats coming out of the woodwork. So when I was walking around the Science Museum in leafy green Portland Oregon and I got a phone call basically saying ‘Erm, James, you’re off to Houston mate. All the best.’ I was slightly underwhelmed to say the least.

6 weeks in 113 degree heat and 90% Humidity later, here I still am on my ultimate week in the Lone Star State. And to be perfectly honest I’ve loved it. There have been cons – I probably worked more than I anticipated, and it’s been insanely hot. But the pros have far outweighed that. For starters, the skies here are some of the most beautiful in the world. Having no horizon or hills makes for a big gaping sky that’s filled with pastel colours and thick Simpson-style clouds. At night, the Stars are so close it feels like you could reach out and touch them.

The people here are probably some of the nicest I’ve ever come across in America. Everyone is helpful and friendly (They’re also armed to kill you – but we’ll come to that later). I’m yet to meet a Houstonian who won’t give it to you if you need it – and no, not like that, get your mind out of the gutter. The host families here have been absolutely amazing. I think I’ve put on a good 30 pounds from the food and drink I’ve been faced with. And even though we’ve worked double day camps and slept mostly in the middle, they’ve made our stay very welcome and helped us experience things in Texas I wouldn’t even have thought existed.

One of those things is a Honky Tonk. If you guys have never heard of one, this is something you need to experience once in your life. Then, keep it as a fond memory and drive right past it to the next club along. For those of you who don’t know – which I’m assuming is most – A Honky Tonk is a country music club, with a big wooden dance floor full of people two stepping in cowboy hats, shortly followed by line dancing to ‘The Wobble’. If you love being punched in the back by a guy with a feather in his hat, this is the place for you. (Edit: It’s also fantastic if you love cowboy boots and short shorts). In my opinion, they’re really fun to go to, but if you’re wearing a button-up Polo shirt and not a waistcoat, you definitely stick out like a sore thumb.

Texas is also a place where the ‘right to bear arms’ should be put as the slogan on the flag. Most houses I’ve been to have a gun, and you see shooting ranges almost as frequently as McDonald’s. This week, I got to shoot my first gun. Which was an absolutely amazing experience. I only got 20 rounds, but it was 20 rounds of pure unadulterated fun. That paper target got exactly what it deserved.

Minute Maid Park was also one of the highlights on my list. Despite the fact that the Astros are currently the baseball equivalent of Justin Bieber taking a foray in to the heavy metal scene, the game was actually a pretty fun experience. This was technically my second experience of baseball, but the park was absolutely stunning and the fact it was indoors also made it much more enjoyable. 4 innings were spent shouting ‘Barnes, give us a wave, Barnsey, Barnsey give us a wave‘ to the outfielder and ‘Just hit it, it’s not that hard’ because there was a slight lull in play. But I’d definitely do it again.

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All in all, my experience of Houston has been really enjoyable and I’d recommend a visit to anyone. Just be prepared to sweat a lot and eat lots and lots of junk food. It’s also taught me to remain open to new places like I did when I first started traveling, because there’s always something to surprise you.

From here on out I’m not sure where I’m heading. We find out on a Friday, we go on a Sunday. All I know is that I’m in Burbank, California for the fall season and there is a 25-hour drive between me and there.

JJ

(I know a lot of my host family parents will read this – and not just the ones from Texas – but I’d like to thank every single one of you for making this experience possible so far, you’re all amazing people and if I can ever return the favour, don’t be afraid to ask).

Fleeting Meetings.

I’ve always had a strange fixation with Teachers, coaches and mentors. They’ve definitely played a large role in my life. Whether it was Mr Hammond – the one teacher in school who made me believe I could do anything I set my mind to. Or Spikey the kids club coach from Hull who made my holiday in Cyprus one of the most memorable times of my life. They all had a positive, defining effect on my life and they’ve definitely been role models for me.

Before I carry on, I don’t believe in Idols or Guru’s. Seeking help or guidance, and following someone else’s creed are two very different things. We all need people to look up to. To help up and keep us on the right path. But they are not living your life or working alongside the people you work with. (Working in fitness you’d see a lot of people apply one singular philosophy from one guru or another, even though it had no benefit to that particular client.) Use their advice, but don’t treat it as law and don’t put them on a pedestal.

 Role Models are very rarely in your life for a long period of time though. They come, do their thing and leave. Just like everybody else in life – you just notice it more with people you want to stick around. But they make the most of that small period of time. But in that small time they make it very rewarding, with very little ask in return. Positivity, warmth and an approachable demeanour flow from their presence. They’re helpful, understanding, humble, truth telling and strict all at the same time.

 The same thing goes for the rest of us. Our lives are full of small encounters. Things we wouldn’t even think of. Like a 2-minute conversation at the gas station or helping a woman carry a baby carriage up the stairs. Other times, it’s a bit more extended. It could be a two week stay at a friends house (Nobody ever gets called Uncle Jimmy for being a negative influence), a night in hostel in a back corner of Asia or working with somebody new on an extended project.

 Wrongly, we’re all judged by these encounters. But the judgement isn’t my point here. In these short, almost insignificant times, we can have a massive effect on somebody. Acts of kindness and gratitude can go a long way and can help shape a more positive world. Nothing we do should ever intrude or negatively affect someone else’s life, unless absolutely necessary. Making the most of these small snippets makes the world a better place.

 Now, I’m the guy who gets to stand at the front of the class. I sing, I dance and I try to make soccer camps as fun for the children I teach as possible. The response I get from the kids is overwhelming. Admittedly, I’m probably on the same mental wavelength as most of them; but that’s neither here nor there. I’m the guy who’s having his phone number and e-mail addresses taken by parents. I’m the guy who kids say is their favourite coach and they want to run their teams. The one whose parents say they go home mimicking, copying all the songs, dances and games I do. I’ve become the role model.

 Sadly, I very rarely get a follow up from a kid. They too, like me, have already moved on to the next thing by the time they’ve sat on the sofa when they get home. But I take a lot of pride in knowing that in the brief snippet of their life I had a part in that I managed to make a positive difference.

So, my question to you is; If you know you’re only going to have a small input in to somebodies life how do you think it would look?

The answer might surprise you.

JJ

The Coach James chronicles.

Things kids do have been the basis for lots of things over the years. Television shows, song choruses, books, parent’s Facebook statuses and probably more than just a handful of court cases. That’s because life through a child’s eyes is an epic adventure. Their imagination is limitless. They can do, be, say or see anything that they feel like. There is no such thing as a boundary. If you don’t believe me, ask a four year old what they think about your hair – You’ll get the most honest answer you’ve ever heard.

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Being around children can teach you a lot about life. How to not take things too seriously. That If you fall, it’s pretty easy to get back up again. Fart jokes are actually pretty funny. And the fact that you can actually do anything you think you can (Ask a group of 3 year olds who can draw, and every single one of them will put their hands up – and argue over who is the best. Ask a group of 30 year olds, you might get one hand at a push.). Mostly, you’ll learn that kids actually do say the funniest, craziest and sometimes most crushing things. They’re an endless source of entertainment.

Today I’m going to share with you something I’m going to call the ‘Coach James Chronicles’. This is basically an assortment of quotes and put-downs I’ve had from the children that I’ve coached so far. Every time a kid asks me something it starts with a high pitched ‘Coach James…’ and then is usually followed by asking for the bathroom. Sometimes though it’s followed by absolute comic gold. Something no adult could ever make up on the spot, and is beyond most rational thought.

Welcome to a day in the life of Coach James…

The Coach James Chronicles

‘Coach James, sometimes I pretend my shoes are space ships. Zoooooooooooom.’ (You can follow this with them proceeding to do 3 laps of the square)

‘Coach James, did you know I can speak parrot? SQUUUUUUARK. That means I love you.’

‘Coach James, sometimes I wear my shoes on my hands just for fun’

‘Coach James, this one time I ate a pickle and I nearly bit my thumb off’

‘Coach James, I can fit three toes in my mouth at the same time’

‘Coach James, I did three cartwheels once and threw up on my dog’

‘Coach James, did you know that people in England eat 80 million chickens every day?’

‘Coach James,

‘Who’s your favourite coach?’
‘You are.’
‘Is that because I’m funny, smart and handsome?’
‘No. It’s because you bounce me on the trampoline.’
‘So, would you like me if I didn’t bounce you on the trampoline?’
‘Probably not.’

‘James, you dress funny’
‘Why’s that?’
‘You don’t suit those Jeans’
‘What would I suit?’
‘Yellow shoes’

Kids, eh?

JJ

Me, Myself and I.

As a traveling soccer coach, we stay with host families. Remarkable people who are willing to open their homes to a complete and utter stranger. They feed us, entertain us, take us to do things and really immerse us in American culture. There is no form of reimbursement and they only ask a few things of us. Firstly, don’t lose or kill their child. Then let them learn about you and your culture. It’s that simple. No strings attached. Pretty sweet deal, right?

Sometimes the questions you get are pretty odd; ‘Do you get Black people in England?’, ‘What Language do you speak over there?’, ‘What size shoe does the Queen wear?’.  Okay, they weren’t from families. They’re genuine questions from a gas station attendant somewhere outside Houston. And none of the answers were sarcastic…honest. Living with families though you can expect a little bit of a grilling. Not in a ‘Why should I let you date my daughter?’  way. But more in a way of people trying to learn about something that is completely alien to them. Some coaches thrive on this and love it, whereas others want to hide in their bedrooms and wait for camp to be over. Each to their own.

 Personally, I enjoy the questions. I’ve got a few set answers and jokes that run like a stand-up comedy routine. I get questions daily about what I want to do with my life (The answer to which is still very much eluding me), where I’ve been, where I’m going, who I’ve met. The list goes on and on. I love teaching and by answering the questions I feel that someone is learning from me. Plus if they’re willing to feed a 6’5, 230lbs guy for a week then it’s the least I can do. That’s no small feat in itself.

Most of all though – I like the questions because they make me reflect. And I think reflection is a lost art.

Reflection to me is being able to watch your life like a movie. You can pause it and look at yourself right now. You can then rewind it and check the events leading up to it. The beauty of this movie is you have a say in how the following scenes unfold as well. You can’t control or predict the future, but you can have a say about the direction the story line takes. No two movies are the same, and you never have to worry about copyright infringement either.

The ability to sit back, close your eyes and think about yourself for a while is very important. As much as we should give time to helping others, time with you is just as valuable. Most of us live a hectic life, jumping from one thing to the next with very little thought in between. Downtime for most of us involves being around other people or tuning the world completely with the television. People rarely take a step back and look at themselves objectively.

If you were able to take a look at your life right now, how would it play out? Would it be a brilliant Spielbergian (Yeah, I think I just made that up) affair with drama, excitement and heated love scenes? Or would it look more like you were checking CCTV tape of the office to see who stole your last M&M’s snack pack? Would you see decisions that you were happy about, sad about, or just things that you’d downright want to change? If you could make it happen, how would the next scene look? Would you take the left or right fork in the road?

There is no right or wrong way for it to play out. Just the way that pertains to your life. It is only right or wrong as it’s seen through your eyes and relates to your goals and happiness.

A lot is said about forgetting the past and focusing on the future. And to some extent I think it’s right. Some things just need writing off as done, and you plough forward with your life. But, life is a process. Everything is a process. We start from A and end up at B. Sometimes via various other points, but we still move in the linear. Sometimes, we need to acknowledge where we’ve been, to figure out where we want to go. The mistakes we’ve made, the positive movements, the happiness, the sadness and the everything in between all took us to where we are right now.

Give yourself some time, even if it’s just 10 minutes a week. Maybe even 5 if you have a really hectic schedule. Find a place where you are really comfortable. That one place where you can just be you. Living room, Poolside, Bedroom, Starbucks or take a quick getaway to a Caribbean island. Then take a look at where you are, and where it positions you for where you want to be. Emotionally, professionally or physically. Whichever fits for you right now. Take stock of your answers and feelings. Then next week you can review them again and see if you’ve progressed, regressed or changed focus all together.

Time with yourself is very important. Enjoy it whilst you can.

JJ

In an effort to get organised, I’m putting a schedule on my posts! I can’t say a definite time, but I’m going to be posting on Mondays and Thursdays for the time being.

Set your watches people!

JJ