Minimalism

A suggestion for Christmas 2019.

I went to Debenhams earlier.

No wonder why retailers are in such trouble.

All I could find was rehashed and rebranded items, amazing to find an entire section Donated to Stranger Things!

And while yes, Stranger Things is pretty awesome and cool, I had to un-dupe myself and question what is this item in my hand?  Is it a merely a mug? Or is it a £16 porcelain hot water vessel featuring the branding of an 80’s style Netflix show?

Looking deeper, the whole store was filled with more and more items that preyed upon people who have more money than sense.

A larger container of flying saucers, a classic pick and mix sweet containing sherbet powder, my dad’s favourite.  The container emulated a glass sweet jar, reminiscent of extinct British corner shops, Open All Hours for example.  £12, yes £12! for what is arguably a £1 worth of sweets and a mock jar that I know my old man would say “oh these used to be made of glass”.

I’m not against buying items, I’m not against retailers designing items for consumers to buy.  I am for intentional gift giving, I want my family and friends to smile when they open the gift I have curated for them.

The secret? Just buy them the gift they want? Why should you let the high street “inspire you”, to know your family and friends better than you do!

Next year I’m proposing a new and radical idea.

My family, friends and I, all buy their own gifts… that’s right, they buy exactly what they want, define their own budget and most importantly buy it only for themselves.

You wrap it for yourself, and don’t tell anyone about said gift.

Then on Christmas day, in front of your closest family, you have to open your own gift.  You get to share exactly why you bought it, your rationale, and what this particular item means to you.  Not only do you not have to bear the pain of watching a loved one pretending to look satisfied with their item, but you gain a more valuable insight into the people you love.

Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Cab

If I wasn’t at work, I could be doing so much more with my life…

I could learn piano

I’d get into really good shape

I could write a book

No, you wouldn’t. Not directly from the new found time anyway.

I would argue, the freedom of time may create a blank canvas, but simultaneously removes any template or outline you could follow to achieve those goals.

As previously stated on this blog, I studied to be a London cabbie to open my possibilities to how much I really needed to work and what great breaking things I could cover in life.

And for the past few months, It’s been a struggle, I feel I haven’t achieved a great deal outside of work, does this job enable me to lead the best life within my given circumstances?

I know I still have to work but the flexibility of my job allows me to work short weeks, start early/late or just take weeks off where I fancy.

With this freedom, surely it should be so easy to find time to go to the gym, do the hobbies that matter most to you or socialise with family and friends? Well I’ve found that the presence of freedom is more restrictive due to the aformentioned absence of structure.

Take this as an example; you work Monday-Friday 9-5. You know that those hours are non interchangeable, therefore all other “non-work” activity happens clearly in those other hours. It gives you a strong structure to routine such activities. (At least this has worked well for me previously).

Trying to impose structure on a relatively flexible job I’ve found problematic. It’s comparable with going on holiday and trying to routine your days, it defies the idea and freedom of a holiday.

Instead I am beginning to self impose “rules”. Rather than; “I must be at the gym 9am, workout for 1 hour, go home write for 1 hour”. I am trying to adhere the habit that before I go to work, I have go to the gym. There’s no time deadline to it, merely a sequence for me to follow, a habit. I’m hoping as it is less time dependent and more of a binary, yes/no achievement it should be relatively easy to stick to.

I hope to build on this process, maximising my working, social and other freedoms, but without imposing deadlines or accountability that will instantly contradict the former.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts, if you didn’t have to work how would you spend your time? And what would give you the urgency to get it done?

Still growing.

Tom

Minimalism

Plunge pool

Self induced, temporary shock and sometimes even sudden pain.

This is true for the things we know are most beneficial in our lives; gym, a diet, a good budget plan. Temporary deprivation for much longer lasting and beneficial gains. I found this to be the case with my experience of an ice cold plunge pool.

When I exit the metal freeze bucket to my new found freedom, I gaze over the hot jacuzzi. Approximately 20 people occupying every corner and prolonging their inevitable exit.

Synonymous with most pleasures of contemporary society; an overindulgent meal, mindless drinking, excessive spending. All intensely pleasure-able at the time, near enough instant regret once over, and no long term benefit.

Plunge pool your way to long lasting pleasure.

Cab

Daytime drink your way to a better and longer life?

Daytime drink your way to a better and longer life?

Most of us know that drinking caffeine late into the day/evening is a bad idea.

Caffeine keeps our brain active, disrupts the quality of our sleep, whilst you may believe it is the tiredness that is the biggest drawback from late caffeine consumption, it is actually the disruption to the brain’s precious REM cycles during sleep that is most endangering to health.

Where caffeine is a stimulant, alcohol is a sedative, completely numbing out the area of the brain that regulates the REM cycling of sleep, essential for restoration and well running of the brain, a bit like defragmentation for your computer.

Consuming caffeine in the Am gives our body/brain an amount of time break the caffeine down and restore to regular brain function for efficient sleep, shouldn’t we be doing the same for alcohol?

With this in mind I shall certainly be abstaining from late night alcohol sessions.

This small insight is one of the many I have learnt from Matthew Walker’s book; “Why We Sleep  I am highly fascinated on the power of sleep on the brain, and how it the most abused and un-utilised essential tools we have in contemporary society.

I urge you all to read it and live a better life.

Minimalism

Skinny Venti Latte

All you can eat buffets, Venti lattes, and 55” TV’s they all promote more.

It’s a status symbol, a challenge, getting the most of something we supposedly need.

“Yea I need to eat, lets not set a cap”

“Yea I need coffee, lets get as much of it in one serving as possible”

“Yea I need to watch some TV, lets cram the biggest in the space I have possible”

The badge of honour, my cup is bigger than your cup, oh your TV is only so big?

The point I’m trying to raise here is; when is enough too much?

I did a 3 month stint at Starbucks. Throughout my time I begrudged making a Venti Latte, it was not the process of doing so, it was understanding the buyers motivation that perplexed me, even more so when they ask for a Venti Skinny Latte (That’s 3 Shots of espresso, a whole lot of skimmed milk).

If you really want your coffee to be skinny, just buy a small?

But western society has educated us (who knows from where), that bigger is better.

As a Samsung sales rep I would have people demand 55”+ sized TV’s, when questioned on the size of their living room they either didn’t know or had inadequate space to accommodate the LED panel (not physically but aesthetically for viewing pleasure).

This is where the problem lies, there is nothing inherently wrong with going bigger, but it is when we lose the intention of the initial need that we have a problem.

My tip, don’t be afraid to downsize, accept the better fitting alternative. Would you buy all of your clothing 2 sizes bigger for the sake of getting more material? of course you wouldn’t, you buy what fits and suits your need best. Something that evidently some have lost with regards to buffets, coffee and TV’s.

By the way, my preference. Yes to all you can eat buffets but plate accordingly to how you feel, enjoy the food and allow ample time to process before getting more.

With coffee the maximum amount of milk is a flat white arguably the perfect milk/espresso ratio.

If I’m on the go it’s all about the turbo espresso; double espresso with bit of caramel syrup to take the edge off, perfect when I’m in the cab as it’s the smallest quantity of liquid you can get for a coffee.

TV’s, I don’t believe in investing so much in an object that doesn’t provide equal returns/pleasure. Not to mention the amount of space it takes up in your living room.

Cab

Moody 50

“Do you take £50 notes?  I know some cabbies get a bit funny about them?”

“Yes not a problem Sir, where would you like to go?”

You learn a lot of things in life the hard way, this simple exchange last week was one of them.

I picked up a young man from China Town, requesting to go to his hotel in Mayfair as he had believed to left his lost bank card there.

We exchanged quite natural and organic conversation, about the stresses of such situation and how in modern life it really isn’t that bad to lose something.

Once at his hotel, he requested to leave the meter running and left his bag behind as a symbol that he wouldn’t do a runner, why would he? He is staying in a Mayfair hotel after all?

The young man returned from the hotel lapsing no more than 20 seconds.  “Nope, no bank card there, can you take me back to China Town please?”

He then proceeded to phone his bank in a cool and calm manner, overhearing this conversation he provided various proof’s of identity to cancel said card without his account number present. All good so far.

We arrive back at our starting destination, he produces the £50 note, even asks if I needed to check it or exchange for another; “No not a problem sir, here is your £35 change”

“Thanks, have a great new year”.

As soon as the passenger door slammed, the penny dropped.  I’d been done over.

My first fare of the afternoon and I’m down £35!  He had just hustled a snide £50 note into my possession via a cab journey.

I evaluated the facts and made my assumptions;

  • This young man didn’t look like the mayfair type (yes an assumption but when recalling it made sense).
  • The conversation we exchanged on the way to the hotel was very Derren Brown-esque, telling me about his experience at the casino the night before, reinforcing my confidence in this man ensuring great success in this hustle.
  • He was in and out of his “Mayfair” hotel far to quick, he needn’t be a guest to convince me of this, why not just phone the hotel?
  • The conversation with his “bank” was far too calm and collected, transactions could have been exaggerated, another ploy to convince me that he would be the kind of person to possess £50 notes.
  • “You can check that it’s real” was a line used to dispel my ideas that it could have been a fake.

I was cheated, I felt awful.  I trusted this man and did my utmost to help in this situation, only to be deceived.  It’s not the theft that upsetting, it was the level of deceit involved.

It completely threw me off track for the rest of the night, it also meant I had barely any change for my later customers of the evening, then having to explain this moody £50 note to them and apologising for the large handful of shrapnel they had to accept as change.  I had been hustled and I learnt the hard way.

But… this was all an assumption, only my assumption.  What if the note was real?  For the rest of my night it replayed in my head, I further convinced myself of the fake, but still had a small probability it could be real (I’ve worked in retail since leaving school so handled cash for many years, I honestly couldn’t tell if this was fake).

There was only one moral way to conclude this conundrum.  I went to the bank. I handed over the solitary note.  It cashed. It was real.

Lesson learnt.  Always assume positive intentions in people, unless you have damning evidence.

you-watt-m8

Also invest in a note checker.