Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Kindle or No Kindle

I've been asked by a few people when my book will be available in paperback.

This I don't know - although I'm 90% certain it will be this year.

If you don't have a kindle you can still download my book on to your computer or iphone etc. When you have my book on screen (click on the link at the end of this post to take you straight to it) look on the right hand-side (you might have to scroll down) and there will be an option to 'download free kindle for PC'. Just click on that and follow the instructions. Then you can read my book, and any other ebook, on your PC.

If you do download it I hope you enjoy it and get something of value from it.

The book link -

Friday, 23 March 2012

Rushing Roulette

Being a postman, I deliver to 540 houses. On a daily basis this takes me on average of about three hours and the distance I walk is approximately 7.5 miles. I've been on this delivery for the best part of seven years.

Because of this, I've got to know loads of people. For example, this morning I was talking to someone for about three minutes and in that time four or five cars went passed hooting their horns at me, each time the drivers' hand waving out of the window.

I've seen families form and families crumble. I've said goodbye to people, only to find out the next day that they've died overnight or over the weekend.

A lot of people I deliver to no longer look at me as their postman, but as their friend.

Someone walked passed me last week and said, "You always have time for everyone, don't you" and smiled.

And this is one of the things I've found out that people want: time - which equates to your presence.

I've said to a few people, "There's not enough time to rush".

Now, on occasion I do find myself walking faster than normal and I also find that when I'm in this mode, I find my patience being put to the test when someone is talking to me. There's a part of me that wants to move on. "I must keep going. I must keep going."

This is the result of lack of awareness, because the majority of the time I'm rushing for no apparent reason whatsoever.

It's only when I become aware of this unnecessary state of being that I can drop down a gear.

And what happens when I drop down a gear?

I start to ease into the moment and my surroundings come alive (of course, they were always vibrant, it's just that I was blinded by my state of mind).

I become aware of my breathing. I can hear the birds and the wind in the trees. I can smell the air. I can feel the sun's heat on my face. I can hear the traffic. I can hear a distant siren and a barking dog (one of the worst sounds for a postman to hear - mixed with the sound of pounding paws galloping their way towards you is a common nightmare amongst us post folk!).

But what I have found is that when I slow down I gain something.

And that something is time.

Kind of ironic.

I'm more present. Slowing down brings me back here. I look and listen more intensely. But I also get to share this presence with others.

By doing this I become less selfish and more selfless. My time stops and is replaced by Time.

What do I mean by Time?

This shared moment - a continuum which we can't be separate from. It can't be owned.

It's now.

And now.

And now.

And now.

When we're here it's blissful and when we're not here we tend to suffer in our ignorance.

When you're here you're in Love.

It's funny that we're always in Love, but can't see it because we're preoccupied with other things which we think are more important.

It's like we're gambling with our state of mind.

"Would you do . . . if you knew you were missing out on . . . ?"

When you sink into IT you'll have all the time in the world - the last thing you'll want to do is rush.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Kindness on Ebay

Kindness is one of those things which has little effect if it isn't put into action. Whether it's a kind word expressed or a good deed done, if these actions are held back because of fear of ridicule or rejection (or any other reason), then the intent withers away.

I see it as a single flame being put out by a wave of water. That flame has so much potential. As the buddha said, a single flame can light a thousand candles.

Imagine what effect the right word at the right time has on someone. It can change their life.

Even if it's just a smile!

That single smile is like the candle. It can make someone feel great (one candle lit). Then that person, because you smiled at them and lifted their spirits, might smile at someone else which might have the same effect (another candle lit) . . . and the process goes on and on.

I've recently put a few items on ebay: DVDs,CDs etc. Amongst the DVDs were three boxsets. Series 1, 2 and 3.

Series 2 sold.

As I was putting it into the padded envolope, I looked across at the unsold DVDs, series 1 and 3, and knew what I had to do.

I put them in the packet too and wrote a little note:


It felt ace!

It still does.

Knowing how surprised that person is going to be puts a smile on my face.

And the thing is, I didn't stop there. I had several imported CD singles that didn't sell. Someone from Romania kept sending me messages asking what to do because he really wanted them but couldn't bid because I had selected UK shipping only.

Like I said, the CDs didn't sell, so I sent him a message asking, "If you had've won the bid for the CD's, what address would I use to send them you?"

He sent me the address and even told me instructions of what to do on ebay so he could choose the BUY IT NOW option. This guy really wanted these singles.

With his address at hand, I put all the CD singles, even more than what was originally on ebay, and posted them to him in Romania. Again, I wrote a note:


I could've quite easily put that intent to one side, put the CDs on ebay again and let him buy them. But it didn't feel right. What did feel right was for him to receive them unexpectedly as a gift from a stranger.

My good friend, Paul Walsh, walked into Borders bookshop, picked up a book on how to get rich quick and put money in it before putting it back on the shelf.

How ace is that?!

Another friend of mine, Susan Dewhurst, when putting the lottery on, bought a lucky dip for the person behind her in the queue.


What random act of kindness can you do today?

. . . I have a dog named Talk, and I Walked it . . .

Sunday, 11 March 2012

That Really Sucks, but Thanks.

You know when life doesn't seem to be going according to plan? When things seem to be going wrong all the time? Sometimes it can seem like one thing after another; your car breaks down, your pet gets ill, you come down with a cold, you run out of milk or bread etc (left the worst till last).

You end up saying, 'Come on, Life, just give us a break!' Sometimes, if things really get on top of you, you might take on the role as the victim and end up saying something like, 'Why me?'

Been there. Done that.

But life is never personal.

Life is an impersonal process.

The bigger picture just has to be seen.

About three weeks ago I came down with Laryngitis. Then on top of that I had a flu-like bug. It (and I) wasn't pretty. I could feel my physical ailments getting the better of me - and the answer to my problem lay in that one sentence. I could feel my physical ailments getting the better of me. When I saw that I wasn't my physical ailments, I detached myself from them, and therefore was no longer them.

I became the observer.

As the Zen master, Suzuki, said about his cancer, 'There is pain there, but there is no suffering.'

So my attitude to Laryngitis changed. I started to say thank you for the experience. I had no choice but to lay in bed, read, watch films, and basically just chill out and rest. I hadn't done this for a long, long time. So I started to feel really grateful for the opportunity.

Can you accept the crappy circumstances (if there are any) going on in your life? More importantly, can you see that the circumstances, the opportunities to grow, aren't crap?

That may be a tough one, I admit.

I wouldn't be saying all this if I didn't practise it myself. So believe me, I know it's hard. But to see everything that goes on in your life as a blessing, a gift, an opportunity to grow, your suffering lifts, and your spirit goes with it. You'll feel lighter. You might even smile at whatever it is that has happened - depending on the severity of it.

Remember, Triple A:
  1. Accept
  2. Adapt
  3. Acknowledge
Your car breaks down; accept it. You get Laryngitis; accept it. Your pet gets ill; accept it. It's already happened, so by accepting it you don't resist it. Resisting what already is, surely, is a waste of time and energy.

As Ram Dass said, resistance is like picking up all the leaves in Autumn and trying to stick them back on the tree.

By accepting the fact your car has broken down, you don't resist it and therefore you can adapt to the situation more easily, more calmly.

Acknowledge that the happening is for you and your growth. You will grow (you are forever growing). You will learn things about yourself. You will never get to a point where you say, 'I've learnt all there is no learn about myself.'

'Life is a process of continuing growth.' Bruce Lee.

Whatever life throws at us, it's our emotional involvement that decides whether it's something big or small.

. . . When really, in reality, everything that happens, just is.

. . . Look! Spring's here . . .

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Happiness - The Big Issue

On my day off yesterday I decided to catch the train to Leeds to visit the art gallery.

I woke up in good time and was on the 8:45am train.

Once in Leeds I headed straight for Cafe Nero (a favourite place of mine) and had a bowl of porridge (with maple syrup) and a latte (with caramel syrup). After finishing my oaty breakfast I sat back in the nice leather chair with my latte and began to read an article in the Nov/Dec issue of Resurgence magazine. It's a special 'wellbeing' issue. The article I began to read was called Happiness as a Higher Good written by Richard Ryder.

It starts off with the following:

The word 'happiness' did not appear in English until the 16th century. It derives from the much older word 'hap', meaning 'chance' or 'good luck'. We see it still in 'haphazard', 'hapless', 'mishap', 'perhaps', and so on.

In between reading, sipping my coffee and trying to lick the maple syrup from my fingers, (it might've looked like I had a problem because my fingers would not stop being sticky so I kept on licking where I thought the syrup was) I looked up and noticed a man selling The Big Issue. He was getting soaked from the rain and yet there he was smiling at everyone who walked passed him, saying good morning to them and even waving to people on the other side of the road.

He walked around in a kind of square, getting excited when someone walked passed him, all in the attempt to try and sell the £2 magazine. He looked so happy to be there, to have that job, to be out in the open and be talking to strangers.

I got to the end of my article which ended with:

We now know there are seven main factors affecting human happiness, probably in this order of importance:
  • family relationships
  • financial security
  • work
  • friendships
  • health
  • freedom
  • personal value
I sip the frothy dregs and put the magazine in my bag, take the tray to the counter, say thank you to the staff and leave the cafe. The rain has got heavier now so I zip up my coat a tad further, which doesn't make any difference whatsoever, and cross over to this happy fellow on the corner of the street.

He has a woolly hat on. It's red, brown and yellow. He has a beard which gives him an unkempt appearance, but his eyes - it's his eyes that shine. There is so much joy coming out of them.

'Morning!' he says, waving at me, even though I'm only a few yards away.

I return the greeting and walk closer to him.

'Can I just tell you,' I say, fiddling with the coins in my pocket, trying to figure out what felt like a pound and what didn't, 'that you have made my morning.'

He looks perplexed. 'Why's that?'

'Because you're the happiest person I've come across so far today.'

His face softens. 'Thank you,' he says, nodding his head and smiling.

I pull out two pound coins and hand them to him and he gives me an issue of the magazine in return.

His smile oozes gratitude.

'Please keep it up,' I say.

'I will,' he says, grinning.

I walk over to the art gallery and try the door. It's locked.

'Doesn't open till 10, mate,' says a voice. It's a young guy putting chairs outside the gift shop below to my left.

'Cheers, buddy!' I say.

I have half an hour to kill so I wonder further up Headrow towards the shops. I walk into Whittards and look at the different teas, coffees and teapots. I catch the girl behind the counter smiling at me so I smile back.

'It's so cold,' she says.

'Compared to the last couple of days it is, yes. Everyone seems a lot happier when the sun's out, don't you think?'

'Definitely,' she says. 'I look out there and it's just,' she scrunches up her young, pale face, ' . . .grim.'

I laugh.

'Grim?' I say.

She laughs at her own comment, which I don't think she would've done if I hadn't have laughed in the first place.

'Yes, it's grim,' she says.

'You know, I've just bought a copy of The Big Issue from one of the most happiest people I've come across. Without doubt the happiest person I've seen today.'

Her face lit up.

'The guy that shouts morning and waves to people on the other side of the street?'

'Yeah, that's him,' I say, sounding quite surprised.

'You know,' she says, 'he has been like that for about seven years.'

'Maybe he's an enlightened one,' I say.

She shifts her gaze away from me without moving her head, as if pondering on what I've said.

'Maybe,' she says, coming back to me.

'So think on,' I say, heading towards the door, 'it's not grim.'

'It's not grim,' she says, smiling.

'Spread the joy not the grim.'

'Spread the joy not the grim!!' she says with passion. The other two customers look at her and smile uncomfortably.

I laugh.

'That's going to be my motto for the day!' she says. 'Spread the joy and not the grim . . .' she ponders again.

'Good bye,' I say, interrupting her thoughts.

'Yeah, see you!'

After two hours of looking at awe inspiring art in the gallery, I head home on the train and open up the magazine at the next article. It's called A Better Way of Life by Richard Layard. On the page there's a Happiness Pledge that reads:


If you see the happy Big Issue man him tell him how great he's doing and thank him for being the way he is - and you might as well buy a copy of the magazine whilst you're there too.

...and remember, spread the joy not the grim.