Category

WELLBEING

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Please read this poem:

Our first Christmas together

I had been so excited to have

him

around

I started tiptoeing

down the stairs

And he had a surprise waiting… he threw me

a party

He knows how to spoil

A simple girl!

He called me

in front of everyone

Then he cut me off

a sprig of mistletoe

We shared a kiss underneath

Our friends cheered as

outside, the snow silently settled

Now read the poem again, but read the last line, then the second to last line and so on.

So you’re reading from bottom to top.

Refuge.

Domestic abuse charity Refuge has a history of using shock in campaigns.

This new Christmas campaign, created by McCann Bristol, continues this trend.

As a young boy I lived with a man cowardly enough and stupid enough to think that there are reasons for a stronger person to bully a weaker person. A woman or a child.

There are none.

Help.

If you sense domestic abuse is happening, take a closer look.

Help them.

If you see domestic abuse is happening, report it to the police.

www.refuge.org.uk

There’s a photograph with this story that you’ll need to see, at 50odd.co.uk, if this is going to make sense to you.

I have a question and it is:

Do you have a recent photograph of you that you like? That shows you how you really are at the moment, and how you are comfortable being seen?

I ask this because the image of me with this story, which was taken by my friend Pete Zulu, is the image I have that makes me feel like this.

It just took me by surprise that’s all.

It reminded me that I am quite a private person.

A furry-faced, hat wearing guy that can be quite awkward. That likes being at home and sitting in the same chair doing the same things with the same people. And it’s dark and safe and enclosed.

Yes, that’s me.

The Other Me. 

There is another me though.

The other me is Always Wear Red.

Because it has a purpose that I created.

It was born to ‘create confidence’.

Always Wear Red is making people feel like the bees knees because they know that what they’re wearing is fecking brilliant!

And I like the idea that these beautiful, likeable people are using their swagger and confidence to good effect.

I want to change people so that they can be – or remind them that they already are – amazing!

So I wonder why I am so drawn to this dark, quiet version of me in the picture? Perhaps its because I feel safe there.

And it will have something to do with the photographer of course. I think a lot of Peter.

You.

So what about you?

Do you have a photograph of you that captures you authentically at this exact point of your life?

And if you don’t, what would it look like I wonder?

I think I’ll be able to ride a bike until the day I die.

Unless I get some awful debilitating somethingorther that means my limbs don’t work. Or my ability to balance just goes away.

But I am hopeful.

Hula.

That said, I tried to hula hoop recently, and I can’t do it.

If you are a 50(ish) year old chap like me, I challenge you to try this.

OK so I know that as I am getting older there is an increasingly long list of things that I can’t do. But I imagined this to be things like ‘turn heads’ or ‘have a chest that sticks out further than my tummy’ or ‘run very fast for a long time’.

All of these things reflect an increasing wrinklyness, baldness, fatness and unfitness.

But bloody hula hooping?!

I wonder what else I am losing the ability to do that I once could.

I dread to think.

Help.

Anyhow, help me out a bit.

If, like me you have used up about 600 of your 1000 months on earth, try hula hooping and let me know how you do.

Or is it just me?

And my definition of hula hooping is keeping the hoop going around your waist (if you still have one – a waist not a hula hoop) for 30 seconds.

Send a video.

Please.

Just a little something to think about…

I heard someone say that some sportsperson or other ‘made history’ this week.

I can’t remember who it was or what they did.

But they, apparently, ‘made history’.

Firsts.

As a general rule, people use the term ‘making history’ when people do something for the first time.

But now I have a 2 year old daughter, I think about this saying quite differently.

As I get older I think quite deeply about what I am doing each day, and how I can make Izobel proud. Even though all she wants from me at the moment is cereal (the dinosaur one, not the monkey one), milk and a cuddle.

I can see that every decision I make today and everything that I do, no matter how big, small, significant or insignificant is – quite literally – making history. Because it’s my history and Izobel’s history. She will know about it one day.

And that’s quite a responsibility.

Tomorrow.

So tomorrow, and today as it goes, if you’re feeling tired or overwhelmed or confused or bothered by things – that’s OK.

You’re meant to feel all of those things if you’re really trying.

After all – you’re making history.

When I was a child I once wandered into a police station, up to the counter, and peered over.

I was about 14.

I was tall enough that my eyes were above the counter top. But my nose wasn’t.

A policewoman looked down at me and raised an eyebrow. Her hands were in her pockets.

I’d been waiting outside for an hour or so.

I’d never been in a police station. And this was before ‘The Bill’ so I didn’t really know what to expect.

I’d only seen ‘The Sweeney’.

Hello.

I said.

Can I report something that hasn’t happened yet?

I asked.

I mean; I’m pretty sure that something bad is going to happen but it hasn’t happened yet.

The policewoman asked me to explain.

My stepdad beats my mum up a lot.

I said.

I think that one night he’ll kill her. I hear them most nights. The crying and the bumping about downstairs. Choking sometimes. I stand on the landing. Listening.

This went on for a bit and it felt good to say the words.

But the world wasn’t ready for this conversation.

It wasn’t that the policewoman seemed too busy. She just didn’t know what to do with me. Without speaking to my mum. And I didn’t want that. It might make things worse.

So whilst the policewoman was mildly sympathetic she, albeit politely I seem to remember, offered nothing.

Childline.

There are loads of causes I care about.

In 2006 I set up an alliance inside one of my little businesses with Childline.

Every time a client renewed their website hosting, we’d donate £8, or two phone calls, to Childline.

It was easy, fast, was a personal thing for me, and paid for a few hundreds of phone calls.

All good.

As my current business Always Wear Red develops I will link it to something I care about. Once we start to make money.

I am not sure what yet.

But what I do know is that I’ll do it quietly.

I’ll whisper.

Just enough bluster so people understand and can get involved if they want.

But it won’t headline our brand communications.

I don’t really like brands that (for example) paint their stores in colourful stripes for one week a year. It feels too commercial to me. Gay people are marginalised and misunderstood by stupid people every week. Not just this one week.

So yes.

When I do it again.

I’ll whisper.

I am in my 6th decade. Because:

  • 1-10 was my first decade.
  • 11-20 was my second decade.
  • 21-30 was my third decade.
  • 31-40 was my fourth decade.
  • 41-50 was my fifth decade.
  • 50-60, the decade I am in now (I am 50) is my sixth decade.

To come (maybe):

61-70, my seventh decade.

71-80, my eighth decade.

81-90, my ninth decade.

91-100, my tenth decade.

100-110, my eleventh decade.

Death. 

All of the figures below are approximate because I looked at the UK and America and a couple of other European countries and took an average. And also it is massively influenced by when you were born and how old you are now. As a general rule, the younger you are now, the longer you will live.

15% of men die during or before their fifth decade. 85% of men go on into their 50s.

30% of men die during or before the end of their sixth decade. 70% of men go on into their 60s.

45% of men die during or before the end of their seventh decade. 55% of men go on into their 70s. 

65% of men die during or before the end of their eighth decade. 35% of men go on into their 80s. 

90% of men die during or before the end if their ninth decade. 10% of men go on into their 90s.

Over 99% of men die during or before the end if their tenth decade. Under 1% of men live over 100.

Almost all men die during or before the end if their eleventh decade. Very few men live over 110.

No man has ever lived into a twelfth decade. No man has ever lived over 120.

So What?
If:
  1. You read and accept the above as fact. And you should. Because they are facts.
  2. You build in that almost all the percentages (except the last one) may swing (say) 5% and even 10% either way. And that you might die today.
  3. In the light of knowing these truths, you are not spending every SECOND of your waking life either:
    1. Being the version of you that you really love and want to be, or
    2. Working towards being the version of you that you really love and want to be, or
    3. Helping someone else to become the version of themselves that they really love and want to be…

… you’re an idiot.

You’re welcome.

Every morning, when I get to my toothbrush, I find these two tablets.

Each day, I pick them both up and I swallow them.

I am honestly not sure what they are. But they’ve been there for a few months now.

Occasionally, if I forget to take them, the next day the dose is doubled.

So on those days, I am given four.

Trust.

It struck me today that I could be being murdered. Slowly but surely.

Murdered.

But because I trust Lisa I just take the tablets.

However this morning, as I left the bathroom, I looked over at her through slightly squinted eyes.

She looked back.

Nothing.

This cold and terrible act. This frozen blooded monster, killing me slowly. Silently.

Thinking back, I think she gave me a half smile this morning. And then glanced over my shoulder to check the pills had gone.

Then she left the bedroom.

Evil.

What evil is this?

I shall face her tonight. And for anyone reading this, if I don’t write a story ever again, you know who to talk to.

Lisa.

I am glad I am thinking reasonably and rationally about this. And not stirring myself into a panic because of silly self-talk.

I never do that.

And before I go, the front door key is under the green plant pot. THE GREEN ONE.

Just in case anyone needs to get into my house to give me CPR tomorrow morning when SHE, after reading this, accelerates her evil plan.

Thank you you for being there for me.

So, Lisa gets back from the supermarket and texts to let me know she’s OK.

She’s got some ‘treats’ for Izobel (she’s 2) and some ‘treats’ for me too.

Treats.

I pause before texting back to ask what my treats are.

I like Brewdog.

And really adventurous pizzas.

And really great coffee. Maybe Lisa has found some really ‘treaty’ coffee that I can grind and release the flavours from, as I do with my Extract Coffee subscription each month.

Or wine. A £10 bottle of red wine is a treat for us. Especially if it was reduced from £15. We look out for those.

Anyhow, I texted back eventually to ask what my treats were.

I didn’t get a text.

I got a picture. It’s attached to this story at 50odd.co.uk.

Is this really what ‘treats’ look like in your 50’s?

I said thank you.

Then quietly got on with my day.

Apparently, when groups of children are asked to respond to this, very few put their hand up.

Put your hand up if you like yourself.

What a shame.

And I’d bet if groups of adults were asked the same question, there’d be a similar response. Maybe a few more people would put their hands up. But certainly not everyone.

I wonder why?

For me, it could be guilt.

Guilt

Not walking the dogs enough.

Or being with Lisa enough.

Or being with Izobel enough.

Or doing enough for good causes.

Or working hard enough so I become better.

Or being good enough so I don’t have to work so hard.

Or something else I can just pluck from thin air at a moment’s notice.

Or if not guilt, then comparing.

Comparing

I am not rich enough.

Or successful enough.

Or fit enough.

Or tall enough.

Or good looking enough.

Or a good enough partner.

Or a good enough dad.

Or trendy enough.

Or consistent enough.

Or reliable enough.

Or adventurous enough.

Hands

I wouldn’t put my hand up if asked to think about this.

I think it’s because I am aware, more than anyone, of my shortcomings.

And, for some reason, I’d think about them first if asked to consider this.

So I suppose to fix this situation, and put my hand up, all I have to do is to celebrate the good things about me.

I’d have to not worry about what people thought of me too. Because admitting you like yourself is weird isn’t it?

I don’t know. It’s confusing. It feels weird. Even though I know it shouldn’t.

What Would You Do?

There must be something about timing built into this. Because if today was my dying day, I’d put my hand up.

I’m OK, actually. I do like me.

I’d stocktake ‘me’ differently if I was about to pop my clogs.

Maybe, as I hope I am going to be alive for at least a bit longer, I worry that I am not doing enough?

I’ll work on that…

What would you do?

Would you put your hand up?

Do you like yourself?

This is a small post about a very simple thing. 

First a question,

What do you think it’d feel like if someone saw something in you – today – that you did not see in yourself?

Something good.

And then they told you.

For no other reason than to let you know.

I think it’d feel pretty amazing, for two reasons.

Firstly because that person took the time out of their lives to notice something in yours.

Secondly, it’d be amazing because we’re not that good at seeing the good in ourselves. We tend to concentrate on and be more aware of the broken things.

So I imagine it’s genuinely heartwarming when someone sees something in us that is good. So that we can take a little look at that thing too.

Capitalise on it maybe.

Grow it.

See.

So, if we all agree with the above, we can wait around for someone to see something in us that we don’t see in ourselves, and comment on it. We can wait for that warmth. And it’ll be lovely if and when it comes.

But we can do a second thing too of course.

This second thing is much more controllable and immediate.

We can take the time to look for, and see, something good in someone else – then tell them.

Cool.

Do this today if you like. For no other reason than it’d be a cool thing to do.

I consider myself to be a good(ish) person. But if I am honest, I don’t do this very often.

But today, I will. I’ll take a closer look at someone. Or maybe even everyone.

I will find something brilliant about them, and tell them.

They will feel how you just imagined you would feel. And I will feel good too.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Photo: By me. At Do Lectures, Wales, 2018. A place where lots of people say a lot of nice things to each other. And mean it.