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Yoga ruins your life*

At the beginning of 2013 – spurred on by the knowledge that I was entering my 50th year, and confronting the intimate reality that we are all mortal, due to the passing of my Mum – I decided I needed to do something to improve my health & wellbeing, and to proactively go about the business of doing what I could to extend my time here on Earth.

So, I began my yoga practice.

I started to go to a local yoga class, 6.30 am, 3 times a week, and immediately fell in love with it.

Nearly ten months in, I’m still enthusiastic; the class is reduced from 3 to 2 days, but I want to be there as often as I can manage because I have felt the benefit. I’m calmer and more chilled than ever. I’m ever so slightly more flexible, and I feel this is something for the long haul.

Here’s a vid to inspire!

• Check out yogatone online
Follow my yoga teacher on twitter

*HT to Richard Freeman for the “Yoga ruins your life” vid, and blogpost title

Pumzi – How did I miss this?

pumzi_2

 

Three years ago I became absorbed and excited by the work of a young writer coming out of Accra, Ghana, Jonathan Dotse, through his original Afrocyberpunk blog, and his nascent novel, Accra: 2057. I interviewed him here, and have stayed in contact via Twitter since. Afrocyberpunk has since decamped to a new home, here, and continues to explore Africa, Science Fiction and other related topics

  • It was through Afrocyberpunk that I discovered the fabulously talented South African writer, Lauren Beukes, who introduces the BBC radio show “Is Science Fiction Coming to Africa?”, which I’ve linked to because it also mentions  most of the other names that I became familiar with through Jonathan Dotse.  Lauren’s brilliant Zoo City will one day make an equally brilliant movie, I’m sure. Buy it and read it!
  • It was through Afrocyberpunk that I discovered Nigerian American author Nnedi Okrafor, who continues to inspire
  • It was through Afrocyberpunk that I discovered the fascinating and innovative collaborative crowd sourcing comics of 3bute, which are so ahead of the curve I’m still trying to figure out what the form is
  • It was through Afrocyberpunk that I discovered –and I’m amazed that this remained under my radar for so long – the work of Wanuri Kahiu – and most particularly the quite beautiful Kenyan scifi short, Pumzi

 

There is so much good stuff coming out of Africa right now, and I have to thank Afrocyberpunk for opening my eyes to it.

 

Welcome to Africa, welcome to the future…

Stephen Hawking on religion

Last night on UK’s Channel 4 News  Stephen Hawking gave a fairly simplistic response to a simplistic question re religion on night.

 

 

Go to 1:46 to hear Jon Snow ask “Do you think religion has been a force for good in the history of man?”

It felt like an easy set up shot, placed delicately to allow Hawking to hit his slam dunk on all of religion.

I would have loved to hear more – more vigorous questions…more of Hawkings views.
Here are a few questions, I would have liked to have heard him consider.

  • What IS religion and why is it so enduring in the story of humanity?
  • How would you distinguish between religion and people of faith – or do you consider them one and the same?
  • Some would say that it is part of the human condition to communally express worship – whether it be God, ideologies, athletes, gifted musicians etc.  Do you recognize that compulsion, and how do you explain it?
  • What is it that motivates and mobilizes people of faith to do good in the name of that faith – particularly in the areas of social justice, peacemaking, and reconciliation?
  • Who do you think Jesus was, and do you have a view of what some understand to be his teaching*?

*If you don’t know any of Jesus’ teaching, dear reader…check this out

 

What would you have asked Stephen Hawking?

 

Check out the new “Hawking” documentary trailer

Wise old voices

tnh-gongAs I get older – I hit 50 in May this year – I’ve been much more inclined to turn towards older people as a source of inspiration.

50 is an interesting place to be – you feel mature – yet live in hope that you are blessed enough to still have many years ahead.

I feel easier in my skin than I’ve ever done, and am less inclined to be put in box about what I believe, who I associate with and from whom I look to inform my worldview.

Although I still am stubbornly orientated MUCH more towards looking forward to the future than looking back to the past, I have increasingly turned to older voices to guide my way to that future.

So, in purely alphabetical order, here are a few voices that have been whispering in my ears…

  • Alice Walker – scraping in at a mere 69 years, Alice Walker is most famous, I guess for the Pulizter Prize winning novel, The Color Purple. Alice’s life & work is so much more than that one piece, and has all kinds of important things to say about words, race, activism, women’s role in society…the list goes on.I’ve resolved to watch this movie as soon as I’m able

  • Jacque Fresco – is a good deal older, as at the time of writing has reached the age of 96. I don’t agree with great chunks of what he says, but I am impressed with his energy and intellectual alertness. Jacque has a very particular view of the future, and a broad background in structural & architectural design, cybernetics, energy efficiency and holds strong views about socio economics
  • Jimmy Carter – stands as representative in this list of elder voices as one of “The Elders”, an independent group of global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007 to work for peace & human rights. Beyond that, Jimmy seems to me be an amazing example of how to forge a role in the world that continues to thrive and flourish for the benefit of others, even after having probably the biggest gig in the world when he was POTUS and I was in my teens
  • Nelson Mandela – no introduction or explanation required
  • Thích Nhất Hạnh – is a relatively new voice to me. I was drawn to him because of one of his books, whose title – Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothersintrigued me but I’m yet to actually read. (I have a “to read” list a mile long). I’m glad to have discovered this eminent and much revered Vietnamese Buddhist monk and Zen Teacher, though, and will doubtless explore some of his writing. A copy of his “Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh: 365 days of practical, powerful teachings…” has already made it into Casa Laird
  • Desmond Tutu - is a long term hero – and so esteemed that his is the quote that I use in my “Who Am I?” page on this very blogWho are the wise old voices for you?HT to Shambhala Sun for the pic

     

Gearing up again

imagejohnnylaird.net the blog has been more than a little dormant for a long time now, but it’s time to write again.

It’s been a very long hiatus, caused in part by a change in life patterns and life events

The return to a much appreciated steady job in the industry I’ve been part of for almost all of my adult life has seen me shift from a fluid and flexible workshifting paradigm – bouncing from coffee shop to coffee shop, and pulling the occasional overnight-er to a more disciplined office based gig somehow impacted my ability to make time to write much more than I would have guessed.

Combine that with a more seismic shift; the loss of my dear Mum – a full 12 months ago – meant the blog simply went on hold.

I simply wasn’t ready to write.

Now, I am again.

So, with new resolve…and a kindly kick in the pants from JD Blundell to inspire me…the blog is on!

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!

HT to William Shakespeare for the quote ;-)

Support Bone Cancer Research – for a dear friend

In 2009, I took to fairly serious running, for a very serious reason.

Inspired by others, and most importantly the plight of a very dear friend from childhood days – Andy - who had very cruelly hit by Bone Cancer.

At the time, I blogged about my Abject Stupidity at agreeing to run, fully aware of my limitations, being then something of a couch potato.

Andy_C6

Since then, I and many others  -  collectively  known as Andy’s Angels –  have done a little bit to earn some cash for the Bone Cancer Research Trust
first in support of Andy…and latterly in memory of him, as he lost his courageous battle later that same year. We celebrated his life in a beautiful uplifting service, but the pain of loss was almost unbearable.

So, after taking a little time out from sponsored events for nearly two years, the running shoes are going on again – and I’m appealing for your support as I stagger around the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October

What can you do?

  • Firstly – the most obvious thing is to go straight to the Andy’s Angels JustGiving page and sponsor me
  • Beyond that, if you could even share this blogpost on Facebook, tweet about it, tell others, generally get your Social Media mojo working on my behalf, I’d be extremely grateful.

With love to Andy and Sara and the kids…

 

More on running for Andy on johnnylaird.net

Dare to be different?

I’m not sure I’ve even worked out quite what this ad is saying to me, but I’ve found it in equal parts funny, intriguing and slightly moving.
It’s making me consider what it’s like to step out of your comfort zone, whether I would rise to the challenge of taking a seat, and also how – thankfully – I tend personally not to be freaked by what people look like.
Your impressions?

Another booze ad that made me think

Oxted Digerati 2.0

With the Tech City Map and Silicon Roundabout grabbing all the headlines, it’s about time I gave an update to what’s happen with all things digital in my home town of Oxted, as a follow up to last year’s Oxted Digerati post.

More and more local people in Oxted are becoming active in entrepreneurial initiatives and digital story sharing.

From the classic “do one thing and do it well” school comes Giraffe in a Scarf, to continent-crossing tech firms like Natterbox, and local bloggers Diana Stavely and Allister Frost the Oxted Digerati are more active than ever.

Near neighbours in Limpsfield Village Shopping have grasped the nettle in using Social Media to promote their small but perfectly formed high st, and established favourites like Footprint going from strength to strength, while Big Yellow Bag is gearing up nicely.

So, what’s happening where you are?  What are you doing to contribute to your local digital community, and how serious are you being about taking the online…offline?

Feel free to let me know if you’re part of the Oxted Digerati, and I’ll give you a shout out too!

More on Oxted on johnnylaird.net

HT to PhillyClarke for the vid

Fairfield Christmas Concert with The Salvation Army

My Church community – The Salvation Army in Croydon – has been holding a Christmas Concert in the Fairfield Halls in the town for close to fifty years.

It’s a great way to start the Christmas Season with Carols, music from our Bands and Choirs and a traditional Nativity Presentation.

This year is no different, so if you are close to Croydon and would enjoy this traditional family event check out the details on Facebook,  email christmasfairfield@croydoncitadel.org or hook up with the Fairfield box office.

Christmas Carols + Marathon = Carolton

Even with a few short weeks to go it’s almost unimaginable that I could drag my carcass around London – only periodically stopping to blow some Christmas Carols through my no-doubt gasping lungs as part of Chapel St’s Carolthon.

Chapel St is an amazing organisation working to improve health and wellbeing in the UK’s most deprived neighbourhoods, and that’s enough of a motivation for be to try and take part in this crazy caper.

I’d love your support – as would Chapel St.

So, you can do that at my Just Giving Page, or the main Carolthon Just Giving page – I don’t mind either way.

If there are other ways you’d like to be involved – in on-the-day support, by running or playing yourself that’d be cool.

Finally, a super cheeky request help me to put some Social Media kick behind this by Tweeting, RTing, blogging, throwing out a shout-out on Facebook, Liking etc etc…you know the score!

Thank you so much…

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