1,000 Shades of Grey

I’m a neurotic mess.

This is not going to be coming as massive news to anyone who’s held a conversation with me which lasted more than 5 minutes. Therefore, my mind is always awash with various ideas and thoughts (usually self-deprecating).

However, this week my mind has been more clouded than usual.

This is not just due to my growing disappointment in humanity as more and more political decisions are showing a growing tendency towards an “Us vs Them” insular way of thinking. It is also down to my own personal situations and where I see my life going in the near future.

I’m currently living my life in what is described as the “grey area”. For those perhaps unaware, the “grey area” means something that is not clearly defined; or “that which is uncertain.”

 

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes grey areas are fantastic …exciting, even.

 

Let’s take relationships is an example…

 

At the start of a new relationship, the “grey areas” are the adrenaline rush which makes this period so bloody exciting! You don’t know your new partner that well; they are new, their decisions are unpredictable.

Perhaps you don’t even know where you stand with your new partner?! Are you “together” … or just “seeing how it goes” …or maybe even, “casual” (we all know what that means).

Can you imagine a world where we started every new relationship without these grey areas? A world where you presented a relationship CV perhaps…

 

BLAIR STEVENSON

 

PROS

  • Successful track record of monogamous relationships
  • Experienced conversationalist
  • Reasonably self-aware

 

CONS

  • Neurotic
  • Not comfortable displaying/discussing emotions
  • Will probably write about you…

 

How backwards would this be for everyone to deal with?

Maybe you would even have to sign a contract;

 

“Do you accept the full terms and conditions of dealing with *ENTER NAME*:________”

 

This sounds horrific, especially when you consider how people change and develop over time. We would all be in breach of contract very quickly!

 

The issues with “grey areas” and relationships come with the length of time it has existed. As the “grey” grows old, it tends be become one-sided. One person dictates the pace of the relationship while the other gets dragged along behind the horse; unsure of quite what’s happening, but hoping for the best.

This is how people ended up getting hurt.

 

(Quick Tip; If you are unsure of your current relationship situation, ask your partner to go to a show that is a few months away … the response you receive should tell you everything you need to know!)

 

However, these “grey areas” can permeate other aspects of your life too.

  • Your social circle (“is this guy my friend or just a work-acquaintance?”)
  • Your family (“I think my sister might actually be my mum…”)
  • Your job (“I’m not sure whether to take this contract with Silence Ltd.”)

…the list is endless.

However, a strong ability to deal with these “grey areas” can be a fantastic positive for your career trajectory. It has been proven time and time again that the ability to work under the pressure of uncertainty; the ability to take risks, is a fast-track towards a promotion!

How do you deal with “grey areas”? Are you dealing with any just now?

I currently believe that I am living with TOO many.

 

Note to self – be more decisive, state your intentions more clearly, learn from your mistakes.

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A Million Tiny Sacrifices

“I am just going outside and may be some time.”

 

Have you heard this saying before?

Are you aware of the incredible context with which these simple words were initially delivered?

The infamous words were said by Captain Lawrence Oates during the Terra Nova Expedition.

 

The Terra Nova Expedition was an expedition to the Antarctica which took place between 1910-1913. The expedition was the brain child of explorer Robert Falcon Scott, who aimed to lead the first group to reach the geographic South Pole. Captain Lawrence Oates, a former English cavalry officer, was selected to be a part of Scott’s team for this expedition.

 

Over the course of the expedition it became evident that both Oates and Scott strongly disliked each other. Oates wrote in his diary;

“Myself, I dislike Scott intensely and would chuck the whole thing if it were not that we are a British expedition. He is not straight, it is himself first, the rest nowhere…”.

Scott, somewhat more even-tempered wrote in return;

“The Soldier [Oates] takes a gloomy view of everything, but I’ve come to see that this is a characteristic of him”.

 

Despite the in-fighting and mismanagement of the journey, the team attained their goal in January 1912 when they reached the South Pole.

 

…from that point, things went south [pun intended] – and no one from the Terra Nova made it home alive.

 

 

Now, at this point of this article you’re probably starting to think “why are you sharing this harrowing tale with me, and where does the quote at the top fit in?!”

That’s understandable, I’ve rambled a little bit.

…but bear with me.

 

 

During the return leg of the journey, Captain Oastes’ feet become severely frostbitten and old war wounds had (reportedly) re-opened, leaving him very weak and unable to walk the distances needed each day. Oates’ increasingly slow progress coupled with the unwillingness of the rest of the team to leave him behind had caused the team to fall dangerously behind.

 

On the morning of 16th of March, Oates said the simple words quoted to his companions;

“I am just going outside and may be some time.”

Oates then walked from the tent, into a blizzard and −40 °C temperatures, knowingly to his death.

His death is viewed as an act of self-sacrifice; aware that his ill health was compromising his three companions’ chances of survival, he chose certain death.

While questions can be (and regularly are) raised about the capability and organisation of the team on the Terra Nova expedition, what can never be questioned is the bravery and self-sacrifice of Captain Oates.

 

The story of the Terra Nova came to my attention for the first time in many years last night and it stuck with me as I lay in bed and tried to sleep. I tried my best to put myself in Oates’ position and replayed it in my mind repeatedly, trying to judge what my own reactions would be in a similar position. The truth is, I can’t. You will never know how you will act in such terrible and extreme circumstances. The only thing I could do was try to learn from it, use Oates’ self-sacrifice as an inspiration to improve my everyday life.

I began to think of the little self-sacrifices that I do/could make every day. How these can positively impact both my own mood and the mood of those around me. Simple examples such as;

  • When your technophobic family members ask you to show them how to check their emails for the 40th time
  • When you can’t have that beer because your friend/family needs you to drive them somewhere
  • Slowing your stride on a narrow pavement because the person in front of you is on crutches
  • …visiting anyone in hospital!

 

I’m going to strive to be more patient in life.

I’m going to take more deep breaths and enjoy the tony moments of “self-sacrifice” in everyday life.

Things could always be worse…

 

 

 

 

p.s, The Terra Nova wasn’t successful in being the first expedition to reach the South Pole.

A Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen had preceded them by 34 days.

REVIEW – Othello: The Remix

Bars are great, right?

I mean, this is a universal opinion, yeah?

We all know they’re awesome….

 

During my extended stay in New York, bars have been my second home. Being here alone, I can disappear into the crowd of a busy bar and meet all sorts of weird and wonderful people.

Some of those people even have particularly interesting jobs…

Recently, in a local bar named Daltons, I got speaking to a few friendly guys who just so happened to be part of an off-Broadway show called Othello: The Remix. These gentlemen (The Q Brothers) were even kind enough to offer me two-tickets for the next evening’s show. Didn’t I say bars are great?!

Othello: The Remix is a hip-hop based spin on the tragic tale originally written by the legendary William Shakespeare. Essentially, imagine if Shakespeare had written Othello during the fan-faire that followed the release of the 8-mile movie. I’ll be brutally honest and admit that I didn’t know much about the The Q Brothers and their previous work before this show; but after a quick Google search (can’t say I don’t do my research for posts…) it appeared that Othello wasn’t the first of the Bard’s work that the guys had given a modern adaption.

For me, this was a sign for the positive, multiple shows is surely a sign of quality, right?

It also became apparent that Othello: The Remix had toured …pretty much the entire world by this point! With runs in multiple locations across the U.S.A, Korea, London and even a stay at the infamous Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

(Ok, possibly a bit of hyperbole in that initial statement.)

I was looking forward to this!

 

The show itself was extraordinary.

With only 4-actors and a DJ on the stage, what they produced was a “remixed” but respectful adaption of Shakespeare’s classic in 80 minutes. There was no intermission, which was a clever move by the creators. The energy of the show was intense; to break half way through would have definitely been detrimental for both the actors performances and my own enjoyment.

In “The Remix” we see the cast sticking true to Love, Betrayal and Death – the themes of the original classic (and most of Shakespeare’s other work). We see Othello – the hottest hip-hop artist on the planet – falling for an (unseen) beauty Desdemona. With Othello success and love, comes problems. With jealousy brewing between other members of Othello’s clique … slowly beginning to descent into chaos.

The show is set entirely to music, with well written hip-hop songs being used to move the story along at a rapid-fire pace. As expected in a 4-man show, each actor had a multitude of characters to play … with costume changes consisting largely of wigs and aprons which had “outfits” depicted on them. It was a very creative and clever way of minimising change time while still giving the desired effect of creating the visual impact of a new character. However, despite the “novelty” way in which the story is portrayed, the performers knew how to bring the show back to its serious, tragic, theme when needed.

For me, the stand-out performers of the night were the Q Brothers themselves; GQ and JQ. Their grasp on the material was simply outstanding. Their jump between characters and their understanding of the necessary tone was perfect in pretty much every aspect. This is perhaps to be expected from guys who carry the titles “Writers / Composers / Directors / Performers” of the show; but impressive nonetheless.

If you are in the New York area between now and the end of their run; head along to the Westside Theatre and check out Othello: The Remix. It’s worth the trip!

othello-1othello-2

 

 

Photos by Monica Simoes

You’re The Best.

I can make a paper hat which fall apart at the slightest touch,

You can go to brunch and drink too much.

I can drive a car across the European continent,

You can pretend on social media that you’re confident.

 

I can paint a room and take care of baby,

You can make time to read the papers daily.

I can listen to a Columbian pop-rock band,

You can get brand new Fibre Broadband.

 

I could fly a commercial airliner across the Atlantic,

You could meet a partner who wants things “tantric”.

I could eventually get a fucking backbone…you could design the next god-damn Iphone.

 

I can be anything I want to be,

You can be anything you want to be,

All it takes is training and practice,

And someone to financially back us.

 

Never doubt your ability or your value.

 

Never.

 

 

Sleep: The Short Cut to Being an Intelligent and Handsome Bastard.

Since the disastrous decision from my compatriots in the United Kingdom to drag me kicking and screaming out the EU, I am not ashamed to say that I have been losing sleep.

…and it’s beginning to show.

More and more this week, I have heard myself utter that infamous alpha-male rhetoric, “I only need about four hours”. For some bizarre reason, during the teenage male years it becomes a sign of masculinity to not sleep. I’m not sure where this started, I mean I can’t see why sitting up until 3am re-watching Community Season 2 and masturbating suddenly makes you the ideal partner for anyone…

The truth is, that it doesn’t.

Sleep is an incredibly important support system for our body composition. Everything from our mental capacity, strength and feeling of overall well-being can be easily linked back to our levels of sleep.

The experts say (not me…) that the average amount of sleep necessary for males between the ages of 17 and 35 is between 7-9 hours. However, much like in nutrition and calorie intake, your lifestyle and activity levels can play a huge factor in your own needs. The “harder you live”, the more sleep you will need. Play around with your levels and find your own unique levels.

By this point in the article you’ve probably scoffed at least once, but I promise you I can back my preaching up. To highlight the importance of sleep, I’ve pulled together some reasons why it is important for us … not just mentally, but physically too.

 

MENTAL IMPORTANCE

Sleep levels have been proven to be heavily linked to various aspects of necessary brain functions, such as cognition, concentration and productivity. You will have found in your day to day life that a good night’s sleep can improve your speed, accuracy and reaction times. It’s important to remember that your brain is like a machine. Much like all other machines, there needs to be rest periods otherwise the machine will overheat and performance will no longer be optimised.

However, your brain is actually incredibly active during this “rest period” too. During your much needed slumber your brain acts to strengthen memories and “practices” new skills you’ve learned during the day. Which means whether you’re learning Spanish, samba dancing or just learning to breathe – you’ll do it better after sleeping!

Finally …you know that cranky co-worker that no one really wants to speak to?

They probably don’t get enough sleep. A lack of sleep speeds up our tendency towards anger and mood swings. It can increase feelings of sadness, causes a lack of motivation and has even been linked to depression.

Summary: Sleep = Good.

 

PHYSICAL IMPORTANCE

You want to be handsome? You want to be fit? Get some sleep.

The non-ironically named Growth Hormone (GH) is responsible for making you grow big and strong like Schwarzenegger. Your body produces most GH when you are asleep, providing you with bigger and more impressive biceps.

Sleep also promotes fat loss and reduces the storage of fat within your body. Those with a lower sleep duration tend to weight significantly more than those who get adequate sleep. This is believed to be due to a number of reasons, including genetics, calories intake and the motivation to exercise.

Therefore, sleep reinforces everything you do in the gym. Most people buy ridiculously overpriced powders to do that job, when in reality, all they needed to do was finally step AWAY from their own reflection and get their regular 8 hours a night…

So Sleep helps you manage your weight and build muscle, what else does it do?

Your skin repairs itself during the sleep process, so without that period of rest, your skin’s ability to rebuild itself diminishes, which results in blemishes, dark circles around your eyes and an acceleration of the aging process.No one wants that.

So let’s put it another way; they don’t call it beauty sleep for no reason.

The more time you spend in bed … the more time you’ll spend in bed 😉

 

So what can you do to help yourself improve your sleeping patterns?

 

STEPS YOU CAN TAKE

1.Prioritize Sleep

As discussed at the start of this article, men tend to view sleep as secondary to …well, procrastinating. In order to realistically make a change to your patterns, this needs to be altered.

 

  1. Create your own Bedtime Routine

The human body loves repetition. It loves to know what lies ahead and so that it can prepare itself. In order to create your own bedtime routine, give yourself 20/30 minutes to play with before you want to fall asleep. In this time, relax and cement your routine; brush your teeth, wash your face, put on your Pug Pyjamas and read something.

This leads me perfection to Point 3.

 

  1. Avoid Electronic Devices In Bed

Words can not describe the improvement I found in my sleep when I moved my mobile phone away from my bedside cabinet. The modern worlds reliance on electronic devices have greatly impacted on our ability to obtain adequate sleep quantity AND quality. So if you are going to read in bed, make sure it’s not “14 Greatest Movie Scenes Recreated by Cats” on Buzzfeed.

Switch off your device… it will help your brain switch off!

 

  1. Exercise

Who’s heard the infamous line “You’ll sleep well tonight!”

It’s funny that no one ever tells you that after a nine hour House of Cards marathon.

Tiring the body out is key to landing a deep, rewarding, sleep. Also, it has great benefits for your snake-like waistline.

 

  1. Create The Right Sleep Environment

To get the best sleep, try to reduce light bleeding into your bedroom as much as possible. This can be a large culprit in keeping you awake. Subconsciously your brain has paired light with day-time. Distracting noise can also keep you tossing and turning for hours.

It would be beneficial to look into purchasing black-out blinds and sound proofing if necessary.

 

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Gallus Lad Playlist – February 2016

Hey guys,

 

Sorry it’s been so quiet the last half of February.

Things have been a little crazy in my personal life – unfortunately I haven’t found the time to provide you with the quality content you deserve!

I will be back to normal with my weekly posts as of next Tuesday. Apologies.

 

In the meantime – have a swatch at the playlist I pulled together for you guys!

 

P.s …

For those that don’t know …here is the definition of the word swatch:

SWATCH
verb;
To have a brief look at. (Glaswegian Scots)
i.e give us a swatch of yer body!

Sailing into Venice Harbour…kind of.

This week I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to get behind the scenes at the recently unveiled City of Glasgow College campus. The new Riverside location for the College is a modern, seven story tower crammed to breaking point with the utmost state-of-the-art technology.

It should be too…

The newly revamped “world class campus” cost a massive £66m to build; and you can tell from the moment you walk in that they have raised the bar in architectural technology. From the high-security entrance-way to the cloud-based teaching styles, this campus offers learning at its most technologically advanced.

The main reason for my excitement of this visit was two-fold:

  • The location and height of the Campus building offered a view of Glasgow which I was very intrigued to experience
  • The campus’ new Marine Engineering Workshops featured Scotland’s very first Shipping Simulation Suite … and I was invited to use it!

This essentially meant that I was given the opportunity to (pretend to) steer a Super Tanker or Cruise Ship through the world’s most famous harbours!

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Gallus Lad Playlist – October 2015

Things are a little quiet on the blog at the moment due to the fact that I am currently in Dubai on Holiday.

However, I thought I’d share some tunes with you while I was away…

Included this month are my favourite band of all time – Devil Sold His Soul – along with some true classics from Scotland’s own The Xcerts and Young Fathers.

Enjoy yourselves and hug yer maw!

Gallous Lad Playlist – September 2015

Hey Folks!

It’s late on in the month, but here it is – the playlist for September.

It’s a solid mix of different musical styles that have been on regular rotation on my Spotify this month. I’ve broken down why each track has been selected below:

Justin Bieber – What do You Mean? (Acoustic)
I’m really not a fan of Justin Bieber; musically or otherwise. However, from the moment that I first heard this acoustic version of his new track “What do You Mean?” I was completely mesmerised.

No matter what your opinion of the Bieb is – give this one a go, it’s worth it, I promise.

 Letlive. – Banshee (Ghost Fame)
This one will be divisive.
I am a man who very much enjoys the heavier side of rock music …and this is one of the best heavy rock bands I’ve had the pleasure of being introduced to in the last 12 months. If you don’t like it – it’s understandable – skip to the next track!

Walking on Cars – Catch Me if You Can
Walking on Cars are an Irish pop band who are yet to release their debut album. An album is expected later this year – but in the mean time check out this teaser single. I can’t get enough of it.

Lene Marlin – Here We Are
You may remember Lene Marlin for her smash hit “Sitting Down Here” which rocketed up the charts in multiple countries many years ago. However, Lene is still delivering great tracks on a regular basis and this one of my recent favourites. A beautiful voice and person.

Mana – Labios Compartidos
Mana are essentially the Latin version of U2. I am currently learning Spanish and learning to Mana has really helped me accelerate and reinforce my learning. I have become addicted to this song. Let me know what you think.

Lonely the Brave – Backroads
Lonely The Brave are one of the most promising British bands to appear over the last few years. Their debut album This Days War was my favourite album of 2014. Backroads is one of the highlights from that album, you will definitely enjoy.

Lightguides – Old Bucket Seats
Lightguides are a Glasgow-based rock band. They are my favourite home grown band and I am very excited to share them with you.

Beartooth – The Lines
Another heavy track, for those who are into that sort of thing. This one is an absolutely belter.

Nico Stai – One October Song
After the head banging you will have been doing during the Beartooth track, I thought it would be good for us to settle back down with this slow acoustic track by Nico Stai. An incredible track which has been utilised in many films and TV programmes.

Barenaked Ladies – Odds Are
Canada’s greatest music export – Barenaked Ladies!
This is being thrown in here as I am going to see them live for the very first time this week and I am very very excited.

Gallous Lad Playlist – August 2015

Hi Folks,

 

I would like to introduce you to one of the “pillar-posts” of this blog – my regular music playlists!

These playlists will be curated by myself and will largely be the artists which have been through regular rotation on my Spotify.

As best I can, I will be hoping to highlight artists that you may not be aware of; however, this will not be essential.

Some classic tracks by famous artists will also be used as and when they take my fancy!

 

So with this, I would like to introduce you to August 2015’s playlist:

Call of Return – Story of a Cell

Herculean – Sparks

Daddy Yankee – Sigueme y Te Sigo

PVRIS – St. Patrick

Autopilot Off – Alcologic

The LaFontaines – King

Jim Adkins – I Will Go

Lupe Fiasco – Words I Never Said

We are the Ocean – Machine

Coasts – Modern Love

You can listen to these incredible tracks here:

Get in touch and let me know what you think!

 

Until next time,

Gallous.

Get in touch and let me know what you think!