BRITISH TEA (RIP)

Well my dearly beloved…I had prayed the day would never come – and yet…here it is…I’m saddened to report that I have indeed…sorry I promised myself I wouldn’t cry…

…ahem, I am saddened to report that…I have ran out of tea, and with this dagger to the heart – I have also ran out of hope, I am absolutely beside myself. 

Tea

RIP.

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Where Does The Time Go?

Something happened today – it was a seemingly every day, boring moment…but it seemed HUGE in its meaning somehow, actually, that is a colossal understatement…this realization shook my world by the shoulders and screamed ”WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT IZZZZ THISSS?!”

You see, I was in my kindergarten class, when one of my kids started wiping their runny nose with a clean sleeve, naturally I intervened with a tissue, rather than watching them leave a crusty yellowish snail trail on their shirt (that would probably be rubbed off onto my jeans later, foresight ladies and gentlemen!);

“Big blow! Come on…wheeyyy, well done, feel better now? Good boy!”

WHOA. In that moment I was suddenly frozen still, slack jawed and wide eyed, as the whole world faded to a halt around me…where… had that came from? It was just a few short years ago that I was in that seat with snotty nostrils! Wasn’t it? Seriously what happened? When did this transition occur? I don’t remember my child-self tagging in the adult version…in fact I don’t feel any different right now, I feel like I am that same child with sky high dreams and a vibrant passion for life…it’s not my fault that a big fat adult shape grew over that boy, and suffocated him to death with arguments over education, debt and career prospects…

But I didn’t ask for this physical growth spurt. No one did…I am sure we would all like to stay in our protective child cocoon, where people blow your nose for you, hold your hand and tell you everything is alright. But the fact is, it isn’t going to be alright, no one gets out of this thing called life, alive.

It seems like you click your fingers and the next thing you know it’s a year later, five years later, ten years later, more! Indeed our wildest hopes and dreams may be limitless, but our time on this earth is most definitely limited, and the clock is ticking. I feel like…in fact, I know, that I will have a similar moment ten years from now, when I’m putting my own child to sleep…”Good night son, sleep well”WHOA, when did all of this happen?! And yet again I’ll pause and question time, space and the meaning of it all…well until I tune into my new favourite TV drama of course.

You see life just gradually rolls on, it doesn’t pause to check if we are okay, it doesn’t stop to pick us up when we fall, it just keeps going. This seems difficult for our brains to comprehend, so more often than not we ignore our worries and concerns until they pop up like an ugly hemorrhoid to remind of us of our morality, and it may squawk something like, “WAAAHHH, YOU’RE OLD! GET A NICE CAR AND IT’S BASICALLY LIKE THE LAST TEN YEARS DIDN’T HAPPEN!” But I think we all know that isn’t how it works.

If it is then get in touch, I would be ready to make that investment tomorrow.*

 

So I urge you to live in the moment, follow your passions and do what makes you happy. After all, you may snap out of a daze and realize a huge chunk of your life has just passed you by. I heard a lecture by a South Korean writer recently, who described how children do what makes them content in the moment and don’t possess that very adult worry of how long it will last or who else will see it and give it value, instead they pour their heart into creating the most fantastically wonderful sandcastle they can make and then shrug with a smile as the tide washes it away.

If only we could possess this mentality, if only we were not so obsessed with celebrity and legacy…after all, in a way we are all that sandcastle…we may build ourselves up and layer ourselves with the best decorations, but ultimately the tide of time will wash every one of us away too.

So tell me, when it’s all over, will you shrug with a smile as you enjoyed the time you had to the fullest? Or will you fade out as a blank…regretting those years that are now lost into the ether forever, the choice is yours. But listen, if there is a God I am sure he would want you to enjoy the gift of life…and if there isn’t, don’t you want to enjoy your life because it is all you get?

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So don’t let your childhood be “the happiest days of your life”…live so that every breath you take fits that bill.

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Broke? Travel Anyway!

I often get emails, and messages from people – asking the same question – “how do you afford travel? Are you from a rich family? Do you have connections? Did you get some crazy compensation deal – and have decided to blow it all on roaming the world rather than making sound investments?!” 

Well, no. No to all of those. I wish it was something as easy as being in a car accident – and getting free money, but it isn’t. It’s kind of like The Wizard of Oz…it looks like a spectacular vision until you see the cogs turning behind the curtain. Yes, the actual facts of the matter are a lot less glossy – and  whilst this may be hard to take for some…I actually work. 

Take my first major trip on my own, for example. My year abroad studying in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

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For two years before that I worked at an electrical store, moving televisions around, and trying to sell people outdated SCART cables they didn’t want…taking overtime whenever I could, whilst also taking shifts at my Aunt’s pub on the weekend…all the while squirreling away money whenever possible. With no disrespect intended, I wasn’t like the others that were accepted on to the study abroad programme (Newcastle UK – Atlanta USA) there would be no money from my Mother, or Father…I’m one of five children, I would feel rude even asking.

But I made it – and before I knew it I was in the midst of my own travel scrapbook! Carving out new memories for myself…whether it be visa worries at passport control, attempting to make the transition to the different pace of American life, or dancing insane jigs with Waka Flocka, I had flew from the ordinary day-to-day, and was living out these once impossible fantasies!

Sounds dreamy, dreamy – I’m sure? But the truth was my budgeted money soon ran out, and there were a couple of very hairy months – I recall that after weeks of eating next to nothing I sent my parents a whimpering email explaining the situation…and I received something along the lines of – “you’ll figure it out.” And I felt it was harsh, but the fact is…you will…if you want it that badly – you will. (And I’m still alive, so I guess I did!)

Study abroad programmes can be a great way to get away, and experience a different culture first hand – there are often great schemes, and incentives – with mine I was actually reimbursed for any costs throughout the year. Which meant I had thousands to play with at the end of it all – long story short, two weeks in Greece with some of my best friends from back home. 

My second major trip came just after I graduated university- although I was recruited before I had even been given my degree…and a month after I flew out to Beijing, China.

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Again I had saved, and saved working some terrible job – this time around it was a sportswear store, selling people trainers, and trying not to touch their sweaty feet as I assisted them with trying on their shoes. Not ideal – but a means to an end. This was just so I had some initial spends, as the programme actually flew me out at no cost, and many of the site-seeing trips, and other interesting adventures were paid for, or massively subsidised.

Either way, there I was again – in a totally foreign, and unknown environment…forced out of my comfort zone…but that’s what it’s all about…I was experiencing all of the weirdness, that was so different to anything the 9 to 5 version of myself would be encountering…whether it be bizarre disputes over taxi fares, relaxed views to public pooping, or trying to sample local dishes without being sick (such as dog) – I knew these were memories that would last a lifetime.

And thanks to the cheap day-to-day living China affords, I was able to save a little for the NEXT trip…you see, that is important – always have the next trip in mind. 

My third major trip to Scandinavia came unexpectedly…but was well worth it…

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My sister – someone who has worked all over the world with nothing more than a can-do attitude, and flexibility – found a two month long  job in the Arctic Circle at a remote lodge…it was placed right between Sweden, and Finland. Did I fancy it? Well…OF COURSE I DID! There was a catch though, we had to fly out (again at their expense, so no worries) the following day! You see, sometimes the opportunity comes abruptly, and if you ponder over it too much, it will go to someone else – you sometimes just have to grab it, and say YES! 

And I certainly did. Before I knew it I was crashing snowmobiles in Sweden, experiencing The Shining effect first hand in Finland, and after I finished my contract – experiencing the raw natural beauty of the Norwegian Fjords first hand.

The work was often not pretty; six day weeks, with long hours – and if my boss was ever pissed off he would make me scrub toilets for an ungodly amount of time…but still…huski racing? The Northern Lights? Spending a night in an igloo? You can’t tell me that wasn’t worth it. 

For my next major trip, I was off to South Korea! I scraped together the last of my meager savings – put up with the horrendous visa process…and then went on my way!

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And I couldn’t have asked for more! Yet again I was flown out at my employer’s expense, provided with a cosy home to stay in for free, and continue to live very comfortably – whilst also having an amazing time, with some amazing kids, in a truly amazing country! And, using Korea as a base, I have been able to save very efficiently, which allows for a great many adventures; including a  Christmas trip to Vietnam,  an interesting excursion to North Korea’s border, a heat-stricken jaunt to Nepal…back home to England, and Scotland – then on to Italy, Hungary, and Austriathen…well, you get the picture – the world suddenly doesn’t seem as hugely inaccessible as it once did!

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You see it’s not difficult, you just make it difficult. If you really want to travel, like really, really want to…then be willing to work, and be willing to take every opportunity. Rich, or not – you’ll get there – so stop just posting random sunset photographs, with “W A N D E R L U S T” etched over them, and start planning that next trip…and start filling up your passport, and with it your little book of memories. 

~

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REJOICE MANKIND!

I HAVE SOME FANTASTIC NEWS FOR YOU! NEW, AND VERY SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH FROM MY KINDERGARTEN CLASS! BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ PEOPLE!

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LOOK UP! (Little Things)

Sort of carrying on from my post about enjoying every day of your life (not just the weekends) with this one…except with this video I am talking about paying attention in life, so that you don’t miss some potentially beautiful moments! 

Of course I touch upon a number of other things throughout this particular ramble – including N*Sync, how amazing grandparents are, confusing baby talk…and much, much more! 

Oh, and remember – any video request ideas – send them over to me! Would be great to hear from you…

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Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!

Breaking Bad: Kindergarten

You could say we had a little…erm…”science experiment” today…

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Because, errr…we did! And it all exploded in my face, and now I smell horrendously bad. You see we had to mix sodium hydroxide with vinegar – and then the subsequent reaction would blow up a balloon…amazing I know! What I wasn’t warned about was that if the kid hadn’t attached it all together properly this would launch madly into the air, and slather me in wretched liquid!

Now I have a meeting, and no time to shower…excuses people – quick, quick, quick!!

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Bad hair day

Today has been, well, not the best. There were some good parts; like been put in touch with Samsung to do some editing work for them, and then there was warming up yesterday’s pizza for lunch (apparently my diet has…well…died.), oh and an old friend of mine from Georgia State, named Katie Adkins, suddenly found herself thrusted into internet fame due to her featuring in the comedy clip, Too Many Cooks, which according to my news feed became a viral sensation all of a sudden.

Not too shabby. 

Then I tried to leave the house, and all hell broke loose. I was already in a bit of a pissed off mood; I had messed with the caffeine levels too much – pushed myself too far, yes I had got to almost 25,000 words on my novel – but I hadn’t got the coffee balance right. So I was in one of those moods where everything seems like it is falling apart, and it also appears that the whole world (despite being inanimate objects) are out to get you, and only you! So you stub your toe on a chair, and kick it back which surprisingly hurts as well – so you then find yourself having some kind of physical altercation with the thing, littered with one-sided expletives, and probably more kicking, and punching – as it just stares at you all…“really, like really?” Then you go to pick out a shirt, and it is tangled up somehow, so the rest of the shirts fall…cue, huge almost suffocating sigh. You put the shirt on back to front, inside out, miss a button…you know the drill; sod’s law. Milk spills, handles come off in your hands, towels don’t cooperate and come flying off the rail for some reason. Everything was just going to shit basically, it was like a carnival crazy house today, except not fun. And I wasn’t paying with any form of currency, I was paying with my fucking SANITY.

It was then that I took a moment to just drink some water, breathe in, and breathe out. Clear my head.

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I then lied to myself, saying “ahhh…that’s better.” Although clearly nothing had changed. 

The next few minutes went by pretty smoothly, as I was ultra careful, and extra polite to my surroundings. I got to the final stage of doing my hair, and I had decided that I wouldn’t wash it properly as with the way the day was going, I would probably squirt shampoo in my eyes, and make myself blind for life…or even worse, in one eye – and then everyone would call me a pirate…a sham-poo-pirate, a pirate made of poo, who is a sham, because he didn’t get his eye patch through banditry, but instead because he was an idiot who couldn’t wash his hair properly…oh, the gossip, and rumor that would circulate the galleons…I couldn’t cope with all of that. So, obviously I couldn’t let that happen. 

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So I just brushed it back, in an attempt to renew yesterday’s gel, and grabbed the hairspray to cement it in place. It looked shit, but it wasn’t like I was going anywhere important – just wanted to get out for fresh air, and then a coffee shop for a change of scenery, and hopefully more writing. But my hair wouldn’t agree with me, it kept sprouting up at regular intervals, and down-right refusing to stay down…I would press it, and spray, spray, SPRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY – but then, pop! It would be back up again…as if someone was holding an invisible balloon above my head, charged with static.

To combat this, I brushed it a different way – more spray, spray, spray-spray, SPRAAAAAAAAAAY! Again it would just pop! back up. I think it thought it was being fucking cute, but I can tell you now, I was not amused in the slightest. The room was starting to fill with this obnoxious spray, this horrible gas – it was filling my lungs up, and tasted like urgh…locker rooms.

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I tried to just breathe through my mouth instead, but I could taste it too…so I gave one last SPRAAAAAAAAAAY, then combed it back – and stared at this frustrated, and exhausted husk of a reflection that looked back at me. He was begging me to shoot him in the head, so that this day would be over…but instead I marched over to the other side of the room, and picked up a cap – and pulled it over my head.

Done.

As I was packing up my laptop, I decided I would throw out the useless hairspray that had given me so much hassle, I mean if it doesn’t do its job then I don’t need it, right? Well…that’s when I caught sight of the label…Nivea Men: 48 Hour Silver Protect. I threw it in the bin anyway, take that inanimate object – you’re not getting the better of me! And anyway, if I started getting hot-headed over minor details later on, at least I wouldn’t be all sweaty about it…

Well, I wish that was true – but instead I spent the rest of the day, thinking there was some smelly bastard behind me, or in the surrounding area…but each, and every time – it was me.

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