Update: Finding Nirvana

buddy

It has been a while since I posted anything on this blog: two years in fact. There weren’t too many people listening back then and with my continued absence – I suspect it may only be my dear mother who reads this latest post but, conveniently, my objective for writing this blog was never to have scores of readers (although it would be nice) – it was designed to be a tool to help me escape the rat race and create a career of my choosing.

Well, guess what I realised during a truly inspirational week, last week: I did it. I created a career of my choosing, I’m doing it and I’m getting it paid for it. Stick that in your hypothetical pipe and do as you please with it, all those people who doubted the philosophy of Screw Work Let’s Play.

My final epiphany moment and the moment I realised, I was indeed a writer, happened when I became overcome with emotion whilst reading quotes about writing on Pinterest. Oh, there I go again – just writing this sentence, undeniably, resonates with my heart and soul and confirms, without question, my true life calling.

writers

Since making this discovery, I have been in a constant state of unadulterated joy and the more I write, the more my soul connects with the concept of ‘Do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life’. I’m permanently levitating, above the ground, in that sweet spot they call: Nirvana. Who knew just how satisfying that could be? Nope, not even I when I cautiously, but optimistically, set out to begin this journey of spiritual self-discovery.

Hang on a minute, I didn’t set out to spiritually awaken myself, I set out to exploit the anarchist within and avoid having to take one more step inside a soul-suffocating office or be forced to ignore my natural, circadian rhythm and get up at an ungodly hour but perhaps, most importantly, I chose never to answer to an adult-sized baby in an Armani suit – ever again!

However, it would appear, unequivocally, the two are inter-connected like the jigsaw puzzle of words and conjunctions which continuously dance upon my neurons, joining together to form a picture-perfect, poetic landscape of profoundly satisfying prose.

I won’t ruin the moment by explaining the minutia of how I did it; all I will say, for now, is – I found my bliss!

PS it would appear I knew what I should be doing – 2 years ago!

Image: Buffy’s Write Zone

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30 Day Play Project

play pic

Following more good advice from John Williams and Selina Barker, in Ignition, I’ve done as they suggest and started a play project…

What is a play project?

Well, I am committing myself to 30 days of, basically, playing at something I enjoy doing and I’ve decided that, for me, playing will involve starting a blog/ web site dedicated to good, clean, healthy living: a subject I’m very passionate about.

I’m sharing it here now, in its very early stages, so I can chart my progress over the 30 days.

Throughout the project I will, mostly, be playing around with writing, research and food photography: all activities which I’m drawn to…

So, without further a do, here it is:

this blog

Read more about Play Projects here.

Image: witanddelight.tumblr.com

New Day, New Page…

#sunrise in Newcastle

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I was, going to write a simple post on how I’d finally managed to select a suitable ‘Playbook’ to use for Ignition but, in the words of Carrie Bradshaw, ‘I got to thinking’ …about the symbolism of a blank page when approaching the subject of career change, then this famous quote popped into my head:

‘At any given moment you have the power to say:

This is NOT how the story is

going to end…’

Blank canvas! #ignition #playbook #SWLP

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I’m very grateful that I possess a deep, eternal optimism which enables me to truly believe and subscribe to the ‘Screw Work Let’s Play’ philosophy. Some may say I have the odds stacked against me:

  • I don’t have a degree and my highest level of qualification is an HEFC Diploma (3 A Levels).
  • I’m over 30.
  • I have a chequered career history with lots of changes in direction, compounded by an 18 month gap whilst undergoing surgery and recovering from an accident.
  • I can’t sing or dance…

Luckily, I don’t agree and refuse to accept an average work-life or any kind of life for that matter. When I consider my options I still see a blank canvas. My only problem, at this stage, is I can’t quite visualise the finished picture.

That’s where my new Playbook comes in. One of the first steps, John William’s recommends, in Ignition and the original book is to get a Playbook: to record all of your thoughts and ideas as you work through the programme. Intended to bring you closer to doing what you love by capturing everything that pops into your head from notes on things you enjoy doing, right through to that multi-million pound idea which comes to you in the middle of the weekly supermarket shop!

So, here it is.

#ignition #playbook #SWLP

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I must admit, I experienced some difficulty in choosing my Playbook as John suggests buying a book you really love and enjoy writing in. I like this book but I don’t love it. However, in the name of progress (I have been searching for a book since I first read Screw Work Let’s Play, over 6 months ago!), I have acknowledged this about myself and put it down to the ‘seeker‘ archetype being dominant in my personality – believing there is always something more or something better out there – and I’ve compromised on a book which I am growing to love 🙂 …and herein starts the next chapter!

not-the-end

Image: Happiness is a Lifestyle

I’m not Bi-Polar. I’m Bi-Scanning…

I was talking to a friend who is now reading Screw Work Let’s Play this morning. I asked him if, like me, he was disguising the cover of the book whilst reading in public. All credit to him, he said no but, it got me thinking. Why did I feel the need to do this?

I know why. I knew people would think I was crazy and be thinking “yeah right, you crazy fool!”. For most people, the getting up and dragging themselves to work, politely suffocating in a job they hate and going home miserable and exhausted, ready to get up and do it all again tomorrow is ‘normal’. Thankfully, I’ve always been a little crazy. I’ve always believed I don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. Being a little crazy makes me creative and interesting. I can think outside the constraints of the box that ‘normal’ people are locked inside; which brings us back to unique talents. I wonder how ‘a little bit crazy’ would go down on the average CV?

To break free from the chains of a miserable work-life and become a successful scanner you need to be a little bit crazy. You need to embrace risk as part of the process and not be dis-heartened by the non-believers who brand you crazy. You might fail but, you will never know until you try and the conformists will always be left wondering, what if…

Charlie Sheen is considered the epitome of crazy. So, with this in mind, I’ve re-worked the words of his famous rant to create a motivational rap for myself and my fellow scanners.

For the non-scanners among you, specifically my good friend Victoria who really doesn’t understand why I’m writing this blog, a scanner is a creative person with multiple interests and lots of ideas.

Scanning Lyrics
By Francesca Roll

I have one gear: GO – epic scanning
Are you bipolar?
I’m bi-scanning
Scan here, scan there, scan scan everywhere
Absolute victory
(Everywhere, where)
I’m on a quest
(We’re gonna scan everywhere)
Right every single wrong
(Right every wrong)
I’m a total frickin’ rock star from Mars – scanning
C’mon bro, I got tiger blood – scanning
You borrow my brain and you’re like DUDE, can’t handle it
Scan here, scan there, scan scan everywhere
I’ve got a list — help me sort this
From the epic scan to the desperately scanless
Aim for the stars – SCANNING
Chasing your dreams – SCANNING
Do something different every day – EPIC SCANNING
Joyfully jobless – SCANNING
Do what you love and love what you do – SCANNING
Following a career plan because ‘that’s what you do’ – WEAK
Changing your mind – SCANNING
Go with the flow – SCANNING
Get paid for playing – EPIC SCANNING
Creative ideas – SCANNING
Multiple interests – SCANNING
Living the dream………
duh, SCANNING, SCANNING
7 figure income, that’s how I roll – scanning
I have one gear: GO – epic scanning
Are you bipolar?
I’m bi-scanning
Scan here, scan there, scan everywhere
I’m a total frickin’ rock star from Mars – scanning
C’mon bro, I got tiger blood – scanning
You borrow my brain and you’re like DUDE, can’t handle it
Scan here, scan there, scan scan everywhere, everywhere

I make no apologies for how my brain works.

Original Charlie Sheen version.

Image: Carbon Clothing

Working out what I really want… Part 1

The first stage of getting paid for doing what you love is, of course, working out what you love…

One of the first exercises, in the Screw Work Let’s Play book, suggests imagining you’ve been given 12 months off work, with all the money you need, to do exactly as you wish. How would you spend a year of total freedom?

I think the key to this task is not to think too much about jobs and careers. Just try to catch exactly what your heart desires before your inner-voice steps in and starts shouting things like “that’s ridiculous” or “how is doing that ever going to translate into actually paying the mortgage?!”.

Scribble your little heart out… Notice how you feel. Do any of your ideas scare you?

Anyway, back to me. I have to admit that the perfectionist in me feels compelled to produce a finely executed list of everything I want and everything I love doing but, Rome wasn’t built in a day. So, I’m going to break from the old routine and in an out of character experiment chuck everything out there and refine later.

Here is the raw, unedited version of how I would spend my hypothetical year off (Part 1):

1. Italy
I would travel to Italy; take cookery classes in Sicily, sample the finest organic olive oil – maybe even try my hand at making it or stomping grapes to create an award winning red wine.

I would drink good coffee and visit local food markets & delicatessens whilst taking in some of the grand architecture and historic monuments.

2. China
I would visit China and spend some quiet, reflective time up in the misty Huangshan Mountains amongst the pine trees.

3. India
I would experience the colour and vibrancy of India, embracing my spiritual side and learning how to practice Yoga.

I would take photographs, write about my experiences and sample freshly grown Coriander before it even gets within sniffing distance of a supermarket packet.

4. Whale Watching
I would go whale watching. Seeing these animals in the wild, in their natural habitat, must be a life affirming experience! It’s a wonderful world…

5. Chase the Aurora Borealis
I would chase the Northern Lights in Iceland. This one needs little explanation but I’d experience everything Iceland has to offer while I’m there too…

6. Glamping
I would go Glamping and have some good old fashioned fun with my nieces and nephews, exploring the countryside and cooking on an open fire…

To be continued…

Death; the greatest motivator of all…

Menehune Fishpond, Kauai
Menehune Fishpond, Kauai

I started this blog to record my journey through the Screw Work Let’s Play book and to see where it takes me…

So, let’s start at the beginning or rather, let’s start at the end. I’m going to die soon. Probably, as somebody pointed out to me recently, in approximately 33 summers. That’s not that many summers, is it? It may be more but, considering I have already been hit by a car and run-over twice, it could very well be less.

John Williams, the author of the book Screw Work Let’s Play, talks about death in the first chapter of his book. He tells the painful story of losing his father at 34, when he was just 5 months old, and how this tragic event became the catalyst to his success and the reason behind his decision not to waste another minute of his life doing unsatisfying work. Unrealistic some may say but, even though I haven’t yet made it a reality, I share his vision.

This exerpt from a speech by the late great Steve Jobs, CEO and Founder of Apple, at Stanford University in 2005 – sums it up beautifully:

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.”

Full Steve Jobs’ Commencement address.

I can’t even pretend to be in the same league as the amazing visionary Steve Jobs but I wrote a short story recently which touches upon the same theme and describes an event which, no doubt, has contributed to my desire to make every day count. I’ve decided to share it because whilst writing it and sharing with others I felt totally and utterly high on ‘flow‘. I hope you like it.

The Fish Pond

It happened one afternoon when I caught a fleeting glimpse of the ‘man’; the man behind the character I had come to know and love. A moment in time, one that I will remember, forever, and a moment that taught me about hope and how to smile in the face of adversity. I’m just not sure whether this story is going to win me many friends? It is possibly one of those stories where you had to be there; but here goes…

The man was my Grandad. An iconic character I worshipped from afar. He encompassed everything a Grandad should be; his clothes were various shades of green and brown – even the co-ordinating trilby he wore whenever he went out. He smoked a pipe, he hand-built a glass greenhouse in the garden and had a room upstairs he called ‘the workshop’. ‘The workshop’ housed his collection of tools and old bits of everything, combined with the evocative smell of his tobacco pipe, which wafted around the house like the memories that float through my mind. He was the epitome of a gentleman. Quiet and gentle and the closest he ever came to swearing was the occasional ‘bizzing’.

The long winding garden was the backdrop to my childhood. It was even the place where my sister and I learned that my parents were divorcing, when I was six. There were apple trees, rhubarb, blackberries and raspberries, flowering sweet peas and a mysterious patch of horseradish. Everything was custom-engineered; a see-saw made from an old plank of wood, two make-shift swings hung from the trees and, of course, the infamous Fish Pond.

The Fish Pond was the centre of the garden and the centre of my story, as we will come to later. This was possibly, second to the telescope, the greatest of all his creations. Designed to feature two ponds, large and small, joined together by a trickling river of water, topped with flat stones that the frogs used to hide beneath. However, the pièce de résistance was a fountain, magically controlled by a switch in the garage. Still to this day I’m not sure how he pulled that one off. I remember spending hours challenging myself to run and jump from one side of the pond to the other, falling in and getting completely drenched, at least once.

Before becoming my Grandad in 1978, he was a highly regarded Lieutenant in the army, in World War II. It was during this time he met and fell in love with his beloved wife. The evidence of their wartime romance remains to this day in the, meticulously recorded, memoirs he wrote whilst they were separated. Later, he became an engineer at Merz & McLennan. I don’t exactly know what he did there but I know he was somehow responsible for the Tinsley Cooling Towers, the famous Sheffield landmark. Maybe he built them brick by brick. As a child, I thought he was capable of just about anything.

In addition to being my Grandad, he was a devoted husband to my larger than life Grandma, who sadly developed Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 68. At the time of this story, she lived in a residential care home after very reluctantly being forced to accept that he could no longer look after her himself.

I came to be in the garden that afternoon as I had been driving him to visit my Grandma, as I did every other day. It was a couple of miles, there and back. We never really talked, apart from discussing the weather. We certainly never discussed how he felt about my Grandma’s cruel illness. The only time I ever witnessed his pain was, one day, after we had been in to visit. I checked my rear view mirror and saw a silent tear roll down his face. I was touched by the bitter irony of this lonely tear against his golden, sun-weathered skin, wrinkled like tracks in the sand from all their happy holidays abroad together.

When we got back to the house, I always popped in for a quick cup of tea, before going back to work. On this particular day, he asked me to come out into the garden and handed me the fishing net. Then with a serious look on his face, not saying much at all, he motioned for me to catch a fish. I wondered what on earth the crazy old man was up to but did as instructed and went off to catch a fish. I picked out a fish, from the over-crowded pond, with no real thought about which one I was picking or why. That’s when it happened. My Grandad picked the fish out of the net and with a glint in his eye as I watched on in horror, thinking he too had lost his mind, wrapped it in a tea towel and with all his strength, smashed it down on the concrete ground. After the shock, we laughed together like we had never laughed before.

When I think about this story, I recall another memorable moment with my dear Grandad when he knelt on the floor beside me, as I cried, because my Grandma didn’t recognise me. He rested his weary head on my knee and whispered softly but intently “We’ve had our lives. It’s your turn now.”

I often wonder, when I look back on the incident with the fish, with fondness and humour, whether this was in fact the same lesson, presented a little differently.

I don’t want to waste another minute.

R.I.P Steve Jobs, the ‘fish-killer’ and all those who have gone before us.

Try this Tombstone Generator, for a bit of fun, if you think you’re brave enough…

Image: Kauai.com

I’m not getting paid for this, I’m just playing…

I just wanted to point out that, although I have been waxing lyrical about John William’s and his book Screw Work Let’s Play, I am in no way connected to them and am not getting paid to write this blog. I’m simply ‘playing’ and teaching myself ‘how to write a blog’ while I’m at it.

I think the idea is, once I finally manage to work out how to operate my Amazon Associates account, that should anybody wish to click-through and purchase John’s book, after reading my review, then I will be rewarded with a few pennies for helping to expedite that process. However, unless millions of people around the world suddenly decide that they like my slightly cynical tone of voice (my mother doesn’t) then I am unlikely to be up there hob-nobbing with Bill Gates any time soon.

Should anybody wish to pay me, to do just about anything, please forward your enquiry to francescajroll@gmail.com. Thank you, please.