Living a conscious life?

manchester skyline may 1st

I hadn’t really considered that I might be living my life in a conscious way. But the more I look into it, the more I see the difference between my life previous to my brush with death.

So what is a conscious life? A life which is deliberate and thought-out, by listening to yourself and making conscious choices.

There’s no absolute, but rather a number of common elements which point in a certain direction. After some research and thought here’s a small incomplete list.

  • Do what makes you happy
  • Feel comfortable with saying no
  • Accept yourself and stop comparing yourself to others
  • Ignore the messages of the mainstream
  • Live in the moment
  • Be choosy
  • Focus on what you have
  • Practice a life with gratitude
  • Don’t let your ego lead
  • Spend your time and resources wisely
  • Let go of negativity and judgement

Its easy to see how all of these can seem either obvious, patronising or some hippy spiritual nonsense? I get it, maybe 10 years ago I would be thinking a similar thing. Maybe its just one of those things which you are ready for or not?

So how does this manifest in my life?

Happy Programmers

Do what makes you happy

I pretty much do what makes me happy and ignore much else. Its not out of ignorance but rather feelings of overload. I guess this is why I can sleep well at night? Don’t get me wrong, there are feelings/tensions about this being selfish but I tend to balance it out in my head by helping people when possible.

Help takes many forms but trying to encourage more people to be a little more conscious is something I quite like. Although I guess in retrospect, it can seem like I’m pushing my ideology on to others? Of course its about balance and also if the person is receptive to the advice.

Going back to doing what makes me happy. My trip to Japan was a great example. I got much advice about where I should go and visit from a great number of people & places. Although I took them on-board, I spent most of my time in Tokyo wondering the streets of different prefectures of the city. I visited every single roller coaster park except the Disney ones. I did what made me happy and still ended up trying new things. So this isn’t about the filter bubble. Its not uncommon for me to end up in the middle of a new city and just go exploring, alone or with others. Usually on a quest for the best cocktail establishment in that city.

This also applies to what I see and experience. This does unfortunately means making some tough decisions about places, things, friendships, etc…  Doing what makes me happy also means I tend to go and do things which others wouldn’t do alone. Its not unknown for me to go to the cinema, city, dinner, holiday alone. I’m quite comfortable with my self and don’t need others to reaffirm my happiness.

Feel comfortable with saying no

Following on from the previous one, saying no and personal happiness are connected. Saying no means theres less guilt and less mental pain. Saying no does mean being honest and rejecting people, but in the long run, its a much better place to be. Its great being strong willed too, great for the character. This has also stopped me from ending up in places/doing things I honestly wasn’t happy about.

Accept yourself and stop comparing yourself to others

This is something I learned very early on, maybe back when I was in primary school to be honest. I was taken out of class to go up to a special room, where a teacher/specialist would give me tests for dyslexia. That combined with being one of about 3 black kids in the school, all this made me less focused on comparing myself. I also wasn’t the most photogenic person in school, but it didn’t matter so much to me. This followed through into later life and

I’d argue this also fits well with not letting your ego rule, because what others do with their lives doesn’t concern me much. Its only when it affects others or myself I start to wonder.

Every once in a while people near me, have said they are jealous of one thing or another. I always say,

“don’t be jealous, focus on how your going to get better”

I try and get people to rethink the situation by turning that early stage envy around. Be happy for the other person and use them as a pointer. This does require some re-framing but is important and directly fits with the notion of being conscious not just reactionary.

Live in the moment

I alluded to dyslexia and links to living in the moment, but honestly my personally has expanded quite a bit to seek out more opportunities, now I notice them more. Its one of the big noticeable differences after my brush with death. Lisa Upton talked about it too, so did Derren brown’s in the secret of luck and of course there was what happened at TedxManchester3 with  Carrie Green.

Funny enough I recently found where the coffee conversation with Carrie went; into her book She Means Business: Turn Your Ideas into Reality and Become a Wildly Successful Entrepreneur.

From the chapter – The little voice in your head

A guy called Ian Forrester climbed up to the stage, I handed him £20, the audience applauded and he went and sat down. A few weeks later we met up over a cup of tea and he told me how a brush with death a few years earlier made him make the decision that he was never going to let anything stand in his way. He said, “People are paralyzed by their fear of what might happen, and so they won’t reach out and grab what’s in front them. And that’s pretty much what I did.”

I also remember a while ago hearing about smutslam and decided to give it a try. During the course of the evening, I decided to give it a shot. I ended up winning 2nd place. Totally living in the moment, just going with the flow.

Practice a life with gratitude

Been thinking about this one quite a bit, especially since I attended Sarah Raad’s workshop at Thinking Digital Newcastle. The benefits are huge for such a simple practice.

There are many gratitude apps and platforms, I’m just trying to pick one which contains all the things I respect like being opensource, decentralised, multiplatform, etc.  Currently I’m drawn somewhere between using Mastodon and trying Micropub.

What ever I decide, I’ve started writing weekly in Standard Notes, which also has a nice little micro blogging system called listed.

Let go of negativity and judgement

This is a big one. It was a workshop talk from Bobby from the happiest which unfortunately closed not long afterwards. (still like to see a distributed take on happiest); which got me thinking about negativity and how much we hold on to it (or it holds on to us?). He said something like 65 million thoughts we have everyday, 85% are negative. Although maybe not right, it got me thinking quite a lot about the possibility of changing our thought process.  Could we learn to accept and let go? Why do we hold on to negative feelings so tightly?

For me the totally irrational fear of injections was overcome by conscious thoughts of the same mind which was hosting that fear.

Although still fearful, I do feel much lighter because I was able to let go.

Tips and ideas for Madrid & Lisbon please?

Madrid

Over the last year, although I was away a lot; it was for work. It meant I have a lot of holidays left over to use. So I’m making the most of the holidays and heading to Portugal again (twice in 2 years, Lagos and Madeira); this time Madrid and Lisbon. I want to soak up the freedom to wonder around Europe before Britain cuts ties with Europe. (I’m have plans for Scandinavia later in the year)

I’m pretty free and easy about everything but I’m planning to check out the amazing culture in both cities.  There is one solid thing I must do and thats visit the amazing rollercoaster parks in Madrid.

Any tips, suggestions and places I should stay are very welcomed…

OKCupid starts screwing around with messages

Stop Screwing with okcupid

I proposed a few times in the past that dating sites may not necessary showing your messages to certain people because of a number of reasons (maybe you are sending too many messages, maybe you are deemed no beautiful enough!)

Well OKcupid quietly announced this change over the holiday season.

Hi! We’ve made some exciting changes to how messaging on OkCupid works. You see, from member feedback we found that our messaging system needed some help: members were getting too many unwanted messages, which was distracting them from the messages they actually wanted to respond to. After all, the conversations that end up leading to something are between people who actually like each other, so we wanted to make it easy for you to focus on just those messages. So now, although you can still send a message to anyone, you’ll only see messages in your Conversations from people you’ve liked. People who have messaged you but whom you haven’t liked yet will be highlighted in DoubleTake (and everywhere else, too) — just visit their profile to see the message. And if you’ve already liked someone, their message will automatically show up in your Conversations. Easy! And now for the best part — after testing these changes for weeks, we’ve found that this new way of messaging increases matches by over 30%! So thanks to your feedback, we’ve been able to make some pretty exciting improvements in time for the new year.

It sounds like a reasonable change, but I do wonder how much further they will go with this? It wouldn’t be hard to not show messages because of x reasons.

If you think about it also, OKCupid is slowly pushing people towards the ways it prefers to connect with people. No longer can you browse, read peoples profiles and send a message hoping to connect that way. I understand why but once again where does it lead us?
Update

After a little discussion with the amazing Lydia about this. I do think it’s good that okcupid is listening to it’s audience, but we do agree they may only be doing this due to falling numbers to the likes of tinder (owned by the same company) and bumble (match group tried to buy recently).

The skeptical me (anything okcupid does right now I am very skeptical about) thinks there might be a better way to educate users about their poor inbox filling messages. But it’s clear from okcupids founders own book Dataclysm, the mass produced non-personal messages seem to get conversations started (much to my dismay of humanity when reading this). Its also clear men are the biggest culprit of sending these and although a 2nd inbox (similar to Facebook?) to sorted by liked unliked people is a good for women. Maybe okcupid could educate the men before the message is even sent?

We seen (we see everything!) you copied and pasted this same message over and over again (5x times in 24hours), we are not going to send it till you think of something more original or read the profile!

Okcupid is a safe place for ALL its users…

Now that would be bold, helpful and move the emphasis from the victim to the culprits.

You could even quota the sent messages which resets when there is a reply and reduces further on blocks? But this all needs to be transparent and educational otherwise the user will just setup another account out of spite or frustration?

My new years resolutions for 2018

Ian at Sarajevo Unilimited
Talking Object Based Media from the Sarajevo Unlimited stage

Its been 10 years since I’ve  blogging my new years resolutions and I’m still convinced its a good thing to do.

Following my review of last year… here’s my New Years Resolutions for 2018; which follows on from 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010.2009, 2008 ones.

  1. Take Kate out of her comfort zone
    Part 1 completed in Ireland in 2017, now its time for Japan or Hong Kong with a bunch of twists.
  2. Head further a field with the new scooter
    New Scooter, new waterproof wear, its time for a ride into Europe before the UK leaves Europe (said with a very heavy heart)
  3. Ride a roller coaster in another country
    Closely related to the previous one, its got to happen in 2018. I love them and its time to go further a field to see what others are doing.
  4. Go to a new part of the world
    Regular resolution and its a great one to have.
  5. See more comedy
    I can’t really believe I didn’t go to any comedy last year, got to make changes to include some comedy in 2018.
  6. Explore more about the brain using neuroscience
    Massively interested in the power, quirks and processing of the brain; from the dreams it creates to the way it processes memes. The recent talk reminded me how much I love this area. Certainly like to see more talks like that.
  7. Only eat artisan chocolate unless its Kitkat, Twix or Maltesers
    I like chocolate but I decided a while ago that I should only really eat a certain percentage or higher. My tolerance for lower cocoa is dropping and like my cocktail choices; its time to avoid the rubbish stuff. Chocolate tasting confirmed this and the cocoarunners subscription should offer enough to keep me away from the rubbish stuff. I decided I should give myself some outs.
  8. Do more with my Estonian e-residency
    I want to do more with my e-residency and its about time, I started using this state backed digital identity to do more. Even if its just signing documents as me.
  9. Make better use of the online services I have paid or invested in
    I have paid for quite a few services like Plex, Standard Notes, Trakt, etc. They have all passed the point of me thinking this is good and I should support it for what ever reasons. Certainly need to connect them up with local services like ttrss, etc using ifttt.
  10. Be more daring in matters of the heart
    Last year was a quiet year for me, mainly because I was away so much and frankly I’m quite disillusioned with the current online dating platforms. Its time to find something else. There has to be better and I need to find it.
  11. Explore the future of online dating
    Following on from the previous one… I have thought about this, written about this, talked about it and its time to try something.
  12. Decentralise more and use POSSE more
    Time to move away from these centralised services and look for open source alternatives which value a distributed, federated, loosely connected models. I take what I said about my role in Mozfest quite seriously. Started using Mastoden more and been using things like Standardnotes, Wallabag, etc… then syncing or publishing elsewhere under my own steam

A review of my 2017 resolutions

Ian in Iceland

2017 what can I say? Its been quite a different year from what I was expecting.

Looking from the Quantified Self point of view

  • 69 mins of sleep deficit over the whole year, which is massively down from the previous year.  My average sleep this year has been 8 hours 22mins (massively up!). Average deep sleep has been 4.18hrs almost 51% of my sleep.
  • According to Gmail I have had 41,481 conversations, have 26,442 emails in my inbox and sent 6,741 emails this year
  • Have 48, 142 photos and 2,688 photos albums in Google photos.
  • Tasks wise I have 231 open tasks and completed 2435 over the year
  • Been on 44 trips including Tallinn, Sarajevo, Funchai, Edinburgh, Reykjavik, Dublin, Amsterdam, Berlin and Cologne this year
  • According to Trakt, my most played show was Real Time with Bill Maher and film was Trainspotting T2. Most listened to podcast is the Guilty feminist.
  • I spent 417 hours watching films (34.7 a month) and 411 hours watching TV series (34.3 a month)
  • Spent 989 hours working in Media City UK, 129 hours working in many coffee shops in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, 116 hours working on a train and 113 hours working at home. Theres a very long tail with lots more locations like hotels, Nottingham Uni, York Uni, Ravensbourne, etc.

Regardless of the data he’s the review of my new years resolutions from 2017.

Be taken out of my comfort zone by Kate and take her out of comfort zone

Holiday with Kate in Ireland

Well half of this happened, in March. Kate took me literally to the edge of comfort in a bright yellow camper van. Rough camping on a cliff face in Ireland was too close to my limit. There was a point early next day when I had to insist on a camp site because at least they had toilets and was far less exposed to the gale like winds (remember the first ferry was cancelled because of the winds).

I had planned to take Kate to Tokyo next year but this has been put on hold a little longer.

Head further a field with the scooter

No Northern Ireland trip but I did make it to Ireland via Kate. I did ride to Hull to see how the new scooter would handle the long ride and get a feel what it would be like if I went on the ferry to Netherlands or Belgium. Recently I have been riding with proper winter clothes, combine this with the better handling of the new scooter and I’m more likely to go for long rides in the rain.

Improve my circus skills

Jamming with a LED diabolo - Photo credit Ian Wilson

Still the Vertex is still not quite there, more practice is needed. But I’ve also been going to the Firejam’s in Castlefield Arena. I’m now reconsidering getting a fire diabolo again. I know its bloody dangerous but fire is just so cool compared to LEDs.

Visit a Japanese styled spa at least once every 4 months in the UK

I knew every 4 months was achievable so this is a tick.  I went to Liquidrom in Berlin once, the Midland hotel twice and had the pool to myself at the Melia Madeira Mare. Still really need to find a better spa near Manchester but the Midland Hotel isn’t bad, especially when quiet.

Ride a roller coaster in another country

This will have to be a task for next year. However I noticed Alton Towers and Blackpool pleasure beach have new rides coming in 2018 now. My hope is to combine the trip on the scooter with going on a roller coaster park in Europe.

See the Aurora (Northern lights)

me taking a shot of the northern lights

This is a massive tick. Its always been on my list forever and thanks to brian suda who introduced me to the man/legend Snorri Por Tryggvason, who took me on a unbelievable journey which had us out and about near Reykjavik. Will never forget this.

Read more

This certainly happened thanks to Wallabag, Tiny Tiny RSS and Audiobook syncing using Plex. Was hoping to sync things to Goodreads but goodreads app is horrible on my ebook reader. According to Wallabag I’ve read 232 article over the year. Last of 2016 was Janet Street-Porter talking about routine not time.

Go to a new part of the world

Tallinn, Estonia

Another few places not planned at all. Reykjavik Iceland, Tallinn Estonia and Sarajevo Bosnia & Herzegovina. According to Google maps I’ve taken 44 trips in the last year, but that includes trips to London, Newcastle, York, Cardiff, Bristol, etc.

Don’t shy away controversy and get more political

Absolutely and I’ve been digging at the deeper issues facing society with data ethics, private & public and machine learning.

Go to more comedy clubs and contemporary theatre plays

What if women ruled the world

No comedy at all this year…

However the Manchester International Festival was great from a theatre point of view. Party skills for the end of the world, Fatherland and I guess Party skills for the end of the world counts as immersive theatre.

Take an improvisation class

No this didn’t happen at all, sadly…

Replace my scooter

Honda Silverwing at Hull

This happened and I’m looking forward to going places in 2018.

Happy Holidays to family, friends and followers

Happy Holidays 2017
Taken while on the hunt for the Northern Lights in Iceland in March 2017

Unknown to me, Facebook threw up a old post I created in 2014.

Why?

I have absolutely no idea, but honestly makes me trust Facebook even less. Usually Facebook and Google will surface stuff from the past and ask if you want to share/make it public. This isn’t one of those, it just appeared and friends started commenting and liking again.

Regardless, I was planning to do something similar again so here’s my holiday card for the holiday period; for family, friends and followers. Happy Holidays and look forward to 2018, as 2017 has been pretty poor (but not as bad as 2016)

Chocolate Tasting Evening with Cocoa Runners at Takk

It all started when I tweeted some chocolate I bought from Takk coffee shop in the northern quarter.

I was showing Brian Suda (Never was sure if Brian actually saw the original tweet, as I missed a space in the original tweet) that they have Icelandic chocolate from Omnom in Manchester. Out of the blue Molly (who I’ve never met or spoke to before) jumped in with

I was slightly shocked, Hershey’s KitKat is one of the worst Chocolates I’ve ever tasted. Of course I quested how she could make such a statement but at the same time savvy Takk jumped in, saying their partners Cocoarunners supply many types of Chocolates and they are doing a chocolate tasting night in December. I was sold!

Having been to another Chocolate night under Funnzing, I was very happy to see the format was very different and much more interactive. The whole thing was fun and less of a lecture. My worry about nuts was crushed when I asked at the start, to which the answer was none of the chocolates have nuts but may contain traces.

Chocolate Tasting Evening with Cocoa Runners at Takk

Cocoarunners ran through the different types of chocolates and dispelled a load of myths including the cocoa percentage myth. Higher percentage of cocoa doesn’t always equal more bitterness. The first two chocolates were similar percentage but from different locations changing the nature of the taste quite a bit.

She also talked about why we should consider artisan Chocolate over the others, comparing the choice to artisan coffee and artisan wines.

Chocolate Tasting Evening with Cocoa Runners at Takk

She showed us how to really taste chocolate (snap, smell, place on the tongue and let it melt). It was a great night and found some chocolates I certainly want to have.

Chocolate Tasting Evening with Cocoa Runners at Takk

A few of my questions I came with were answered including;

  • Why is there little chilli really dark chocolate?
    Trends in chocolate making have just moved on, some stick some don’t. Most people who have very high percentage chocolate want to taste just the Chocolate.
  • Why is American chocolate so horrible/why does Molly like Hershey Kitkats?
    Hershey tried to copy chocolates from elsewhere and got the milk slight wrong but it was too late to change the formula (that would be brand suicide if they did, as cokecola found out with new coke)
  • How is 100% chocolate classed as chocolate, and if its 100% how does it gel together without something else? The definition of chocolate is everything from the bean and doesn’t include fat, milk or sugar. Out of the bean you get cocoa powder and cocoa butter. Both combined keeps the whole thing stable enough to make a bar.
  • What is the trend for Raw Chocolate? Marketing nonsense and likely a not very safe one if it really was raw.

Chocolate Tasting Evening with Cocoa Runners at Takk

Ultimately I was half convinced of artisan chocolate before I even went along, and still like a UK Kitkat and Maltesers. But life is too short for rubbish wine, coffee, tea and chocolate. Even some of the white chocolate surprised me to be honest.

I was introduced to some very nice chocolates and I will be adding a category for great chocolates to my notes. From the same evening…

65% Naive Ambrosia from Boliva/Lihuania was good, balanced and tasted quite sweet.

100% Manufaktura Czekolady from Czech Republic was so smooth and took quite a few people by surprise. As they assumed 100% would be like “eating dirt” – someone said surprised. To me it was like eating a 85% dark.

70% Solomans Gold from New Zealand had a smoky Lapsang taste and was wonderful to eat. Can imagine it as a late night treat while drinking lapsang tea.

Chocolate Tasting Evening with Cocoa Runners at Takk

I’m signing up for a monthly chocolate delivery! Can’t wait! Just need to make sure they don’t send me any Hershey nonsense, no matter what others say/like…

Anaphylactic shock from walnut-based sandblasting

When I first heard this news

I was shocked and horribly sadden by the nature of what happened.

An Edmonton man died of anaphylactic shock after being exposed to a walnut-based product being used for sandblasting in the same building where he was testing air quality. On Oct. 2, David and Mabel Mathews received a call that their son, Justin Mathews, 33, had been taken to the University of Alberta Hospital.

When they arrived he was unresponsive, on a breathing machine and in a coma. “The doctors said 80 per cent of the brain is not active at all,” Mabel Mathews said.

Then came the tough decision to take him off life-support, as doctors had suggested. He died after being taken off a breathing machine five days later. Walnut dust prompted an anaphylactic reaction, causing Mathews’s throat to swell up and leaving him short of breath.

I always worry about being in a small room with any nuts, but to imagine the room being sandblasted with nuts is frankly terrifying.

Harry and Meghan good for black culture?

Suits TV show backdrop

I’m anything but a royalist and rarely care what the royal family are up to, but I did hear the news that harry & meghan are going to get married. Yes even I saw that news, although I first heard about they were actually an item only few days earlier while listening to The Nod podcast from Gimletmedia,

In the podcast, the panel ask if Meghan & Harry getting married is good for black culture or not; This might sound weird to many people but let me give you a couple of scenarios.
Barack Obama, good for black culture or bad? I would say its a yes but I understand the debate. While, Bill Cosby is not good for black culture. You get the idea!

So is Harry & Meghan getting married forwarding black culture or doing damage?

Well worth a listen as I don’t think the announcement was made till way after the podcast?

BONUS: A Royal Good For The Blacks

BONUS: A Royal Good For The Blacks
Is the relationship between American actress Meghan Markle and the UK’s Prince Harry good or bad for Black culture?

What does your circadian rhythm say?

It’s always been clear that sleep is a big deal and more and more research is coming out to show the massive effect sleep can have in our lives. Especially at critical times of our development.

I have been tracking (quantifying) my sleeping solidly for about 3-5 years and its surprising to see the effect of the things like different alcohol drink, cheese, coffee, milk and chocolate. I also been to many events, with the last one being Cafe Sci: Myth and Science of Sleep. I generally track my dreams now, which is quite different from previously when I use to track them with a lot more detail.

Tracking sleep can seem a but of nonsense; I mean leaving your phone on your bed while you sleep or using a wristband device to collect data can seem poor for data collection. However with some calibration and a few months data, it becomes clear through the patterns whats good quality and bad quality sleep; oppose to the length of sleep. The key being the cycles of sleep… Light sleep into REM into deep sleep into light sleep and over again.

Sleep as Android data

Here is me sleeping in a hotel for 5hrs 49mins after drinking cocktails in London during the week of Mozfest. You can see the alcohol puts me into deep sleep quickly but it takes a while for my body to get back into its normal sleep pattern. I also had a done a lot of walking that day.

graph_detail_20171019_1.11

This clearly shows although I had 7hrs 21mins of sleep when I woke up, I felt like crap. To be fair I had red wine, and was on cold meds to get rid of my long lingering cold. Once again I was in a hotel, this time in Sarajevo. No coffee this time.

graph_detail_20171119_1.30

This is from todays sleep, even with a few scoops of ice cream and coffee, I slept extremely well and woke up feeling pretty fresh and ready to take on the world.

I use Sleep as Android with my Pebble watch. I do sync everything to Google Fit, Google Drive and Dropbox to make a personal back up for myself.

Ultimately I would clearly say I have learned so much by looking at the patterns, especially over a longer period of time.

In memory of Damian Cox

Damian with a pie butty
Only in Manchester can you get a pie butty, held by the late Damian Cox.

Damian Cox was more than a character, he was an incredible outspoken figure and a joy to be around. It was a shock to hear the news that he had died suddenly.

The funeral is this week and unfortunately I’m in Maderia Portugal for ICIDS 2017 and can’t be there. Death is always shocking and scary but having been so close myself I tend to have a slightly different view on death and want to celebrate life more than ever.

Because of this I wanted to share a few of the reasons why Damian was just such an amazing person.

When I first moved up to BBC Manchester on Oxford Road I met quite a few people and I did some publicity work for the BBC as they wanted to recruit more locally. Now I don’t know for sure, but Damian claims he joined after seeing my mug shot somewhere. He use to call me the pin-up boy, which use to make me laugh, even many years later.

I clearly remember him showing me some of the northern delights like the pie butty which without realising made it to the top of the only in manchester list in buzz feed.

At BarCampMediaCity, I clearly remember Cristiano coming to me and someone else on the Saturday evening and saying, we need to talk to security because someone is clearly drunk; he was joking, laughing, touchy and being loud about everything.
I asked who (wondering) and Cristiano didn’t know his name but described him having a flat cap, northern accent and cheeky smile. Within a single heart beat, I remember saying with someone else; is it Damian Cox? Christiano looked puzzled.
Thats just Damian, he’s always like that… we laughed.

Damian was fun, full of spirit and a joy to be around. He told it exactly how it was, wouldn’t hold back and wouldn’t be without his flatcap. Even during the heat of of Hacked.io in the O2, he stood out due to that bloody flatcap!

Hacked 2013

He will be so missed by not just by his family, friends and colleagues; but BBC North and Manchester. He embodied the reason why the BBC moved to Manchester.

Rest in Peace Damian Cox

What its like to love someone who’s dyslexic?

couple

I saw this blog about bipolar a while ago and thought it would be interesting to try and do something similar for dyslexic. Partly because most people still think of dyslexia as simply a learning condition, and have no idea of the bigger picture especially when it comes to relationships.

I’m going to start this off by being completely honest; loving someone who’s dyslexic can be easy or hard; like loving anyone. Being dyslexic myself, I am pretty bias and may find some of the things pretty easy and understandable. I actually like dating people with dyslexia to be honest, as things seem to make more rational. So this comes from personal experience rather than fact or research papers. I think there could be a sit-com idea out of this, in the same way there is the big bang theory which focuses on academically intelligent but socially awkward characters.

I also used dyslexic and person with dyslexia through-out this post, don’t expect any consistency from me – sorry!

Basically don’t take any of this to heart! Its meant to be light hearted

First thing, not every dyslexic person are alike, in the book the dyslexic advantage; the writers talk about 4 different strengths which also come with some disadvantages. People with dyslexia tend to have a blend of the 4 MIND strengths.

  • M-Strength for Material Reasoning, which is primarily reasoning about the position, form, and movement of objects 3D space
  • I-Strengths for Interconnected Reasoning, which is primarily the ability to spot, understand, and reason about connections and relationships (e.g., analogies, metaphors, systems, patterns)
  • N-Strengths for Narrative Reasoning, which is primarily the ability to reason using fragments of memory formed from past personal experience (i.e., using cases, examples, and simulations rather than abstract reasoning from principles)
  • D-Strengths for Dynamic Reasoning, which is the ability to accurately predict using patterns derived through experience the future or the unwitnessed past

As you can imagine these have a impact, but how it affects relationships is still very unknown and up for debate.

Once again… don’t take any of this to heart, think of it as poking a little bit of light hearted fun.

Usually late

Dyslexics tend to be late or have to work harder to be on time. This can seem like laziness or lack of attention when actually this isn’t as such true. As Victoria says.

Dyslexics live in the “now” and not aware of their schedule or anyone else which often makes them seem as if they are in their “own world”

Expect lots of excuses and don’t take their lateness as a insult because when you are with them.

Dyslexics however are solidly planted in the moment and if they are spending time with you, that is where they are mentally – 100% with you. They may seem distracted as their minds may drift or catapult to a stimulating tangent or many tangents as you chat due to the conversation sparking new and exciting thoughts for them, but they are with you.

Think of it like a state of flow.

Remember that thing…?

Expect to have conversations about favourite media or books, for which the dyslexic can’t remember the actual title. Usually explaining the plot or key moments will awaken the dyslexic mind to the fact they have read/seen/heard/experienced it before. It can be frustrating to have that conversation again and again but once awoken expect vivid retracing; like where they first read that book or which cinema they first saw the film in.

Mishearing and misreading

Dyslexics tend to have extended hearing (hears things not said or apparent to others – maybe something to do with the mind working over time?); this can cause issues which can lead to miscommunication, confusion and misunderstanding. Not exactly what you need in a relationship really. Exactly the same is true of misreading, especially when rushed. Don’t rush them, if you do expect miscommunication and mistakes.

Focus on the bigger picture

Its clear dyslexics have a grand vision and see all the possibilities. Its not that they don’t care about the details, but rather haven’t considered them yet. Once locked into the details, there is a certain amount of  perfectionism which creeps in but generally details are boring… and for boring people (smile).

They tend to be 3 steps ahead but haven’t considered what step 1 or 2 actually are. They tend to work backwards not forwards. Dyslexics tend to have great intuition, think of everything being loosely connected and I imagine its really annoying but some understanding of this will help greatly.

Remember they are holding back their natural state and creativity to fit in a world where its less respected. Go with their intuition as magical things will happen.

Expect the unexpected

Ask a dyslexic for the plan and they will tell you one thing but ask them again in a few days and it will change. Theres a element of keeping all the options/possibilities open and bouncing around the options at will.

This can be exciting because everyday is new but this can also be exhausting. A lot of dyslexics force themselves to routines but left to their own means would happily change it up in a flash.

Things will be lost

Lots of dyslexics tend to misplace things and lose things quite a bit because they put it in the wrong place. Its common for dyslexics to leave things in the fridge, bathroom or at someone else’s house.

This can be seen as absent mindedness but its usually because their mind is working 4 times the speed of others and the details of where things are just don’t matter as much. I can imagine this is frustrating but you can help by, giving nudges of reminders (not too many however!)

Expect lots of contradictions

Consistency isn’t a dyslexic trait. One day its one thing another day its another thing. You kind of need to get use to it, as its easier if its openly discussed and not simply judged. Dyslexics tend to like playing devils advocate a bit, so watch for that.

The mind is simply sexy

Simple as it says, they really love minds and the term sapiosexual really applies here. I’ve looked at this quite a bit and I think its down to the idea dyslexic people can experience thoughts as reality. Dyslexics also tend to be more curious about things then the average person, making them geeky about many things including the brain and ideas.

Expect lots of meta and deep conversations when you really get to know them.

Passion and emotional intelligence

Dyslexics tend to think in visions instead of language. They describe things with passion, are highly intuitive and insightful (hence the 3 steps ahead). They tend to take in or perceive through all their senses not just what they are reading or seeing.

This means a simple story can turn into something quite a bit more than expected.

Most neurotypical (not my term, but an interesting one) people are captivated when they meet or hear someone with dyslexia talk. They are totally caught up in the passion, which you don’t hear much. This is why the likes of Steve Jobs could cast his magic (Reality distortion field) They have a change the world stance which can be honest and genuine.

Team this up with a level of emotional intelligence and maturity not usually seen in most of the population and you got a one heck of a partner.

Give them space and be flexible

Don’t give up. It’s worth it in the end. I promise!

Serious point…

Saying all this, it really depends if they know and embrace their dyslexia? Many don’t know they have dyslexia and/or actively fight against it causing many other problems like low-self esteem and depression as they fight to be neurotypical.

Its a real shame and really blows me away when I meet people who have been diagnosed with dyslexia but are forced to keep quiet (hide in the wardrobe?) because of the shame they will face. This can be the difference between having a job or not sometimes. So many people I have met, work 4x as hard to make sure no one notices their mistakes, difficulties and natural state.

Was helpling actually helping or just causing hassle?

Alexandra Depledge

I had a cleaner, shes a friend and before her another person who became a friend. However the last cleaner left the city centre, it became clear it wasn’t fair to have her clean once a month when the travel was so painful in Central Manchester.

Some of you maybe thinking or want to ask,

why the heck have you got a cleaner Ian?

Well I do clean the flat but I’m extremely busy, don’t like it and have a level of cleanliness set from my parents (aka close to perfection). To get close to that would require constant cleaning every few days. So thats why I outsource this and happily pay someone else to do a big clean once a month/every 3 weeks-ish. On top of this I do Airbnb and its simply not on to charge how much I do for a semi clean place.

I heard about hassle.com via Alexandra Depledge at Thinking Digital Newcastle. Signed up and got a message saying there was no cleaners in my area (Central Manchester!) anyway about a year later I gave it another try this time with some success.

In my original query, I asked for once every 3 weeks rather than every 2 weeks. At the time the options were weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Hassle support put the request to my cleaner and she accepted it, we were all good – or so I thought.

My cleaner was Portuguese but African decent. She was good but out of 7 scheduled cleans, only cleaned 4 times. 3 were missed because of problems her end. The last time, she didn’t even text me to say she wasn’t coming. (I usually wait in the flat then leave them in there while I go get breakfast or brunch). Just nothing! I enquired what happened through the helpling dashboard (when I started using it, it was hassle.com but somewhere along the line changed to helpling.co.uk). But in the end had to speak to help support.

After a few days they told me, my cleaner was no longer available and I would need to get another one. But the kicker was the information that I hadn’t hit the minimal number of cleans and my deposit wouldn’t be returned!

Firstly I would like to apologise for any confusion caused here – When you make a regular booking with Helpling, you agree to commit to bookings with a Helpling cleaner for a minimum of 3 months, this counts for a minimum of 10 cleans for weekly bookings and five cleans for fortnightly bookings, as outlined in our terms and conditions. (https://www.helpling.co.uk/terms). If you are unhappy with the cleaner that you have been matched with, we will be happy to assist with finding a more suitable replacement at No extra fee. However if you choose not to complete the minimum number of cleans required, we reserve the right to charge the full value of the remaining bookings to your registered credit or debit card (up to a maximum value of £60).

Of course I was pretty peed off about this and told them exactly what I thought. They said if I get another helpling cleaner, it would be returned. So I tried. I really did try!

Short story is I did this 3 times (trying once a month and once every 2 weeks). I even had cleaning agreed and secured by 2 different cleaners but everytime on the day or day before they cancelled or gave an excuse why they couldn’t come and clean.

Hi Ian — we wanted to let you know that all your future bookings with S*** ******** have been cancelled.

Hi Ian — we wanted to let you know that all your future bookings with J************* have been cancelled.

Hi Ian — we wanted to let you know that all your future bookings with K********* have been cancelled.

This of course meant I changed my plans to stay in each time for no reason.

My last email reads…

SEP 30, 2017  |  03:03PM UTC
U******:

Hi Ian,

Hope you are well.

I just wanted to get in touch with you in regards to your request for a cleaner from Helpling.

We have been in touch with all cleaners in the area, but unfortunately, nobody has accepted. I am very sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Please let us know when you are available for a cleaner to come and I will be happy to help find a great cleaner!

Looking forward to your response.

After the 3rd time I have given up but want my deposit back again!

I’m seriously wondering if Helpling were/are actually helping because it seems my experience was strangely problematic for a simple idea of a cleaner in central Manchester?

My honest thoughts is in the buy out of hassle, something changed?

Marmite, I hate it! Actually I ******* hate it!

Marmite

It was brought to my attention that I may have never tried Marmite (I don’t remember it or I might have blocked it out). I know I have tried Bovril but maybe not Marmite or Vegemite.

So because of this, and my thoughts about stepping one step outside your comfort zone. I spent the money buying a jar and a friend convinced me to take a bite and try it.

Marmite

I did and the results are in the bin. I also had to wash my mouth out with water, drink steaming hot black tea, eat a bunch of pineapple slices, then brush my teeth and scrub my tongue.

Marmite I hate it!

Don’t worry Marmite fans, my friend got a free jar for her collection. The rest of my toast went in the bin

Sign this allergen declaration before you can eat here

I have had quite a few issues eating out in the past with my allergies. But even I was shocked when visiting Leaf in Manchester for a second degree dinner.

As usual I told the server about my allergies, she stopped me and said the manager needs to take my order separately. I got use to this, so didn’t think much of it. When the manager came, she was carrying a allergy sheet for the food which is what I was expecting. But she also had a form which I needed to sign!

Yes if I wanted to eat at Leaf, I would have to sign the document to free Leaf of any responsibility of any allergic reaction I might have! The manager explained multiple times certain foods are from external suppliers and can’t be guaranteed as nut free; regardless of me saying trace is fine; she wasn’t going let me order unless I signed.

As usual, I actually read the declaration/wavier, which at the time seemed more like a disclaimer. But it was written to resolve Leaf of any responsibility in the unlikely chance I have an allergic reaction, end up in hospital or even die. As I signed it half knowing this can not be enforceable and part of me loving to see this as a court case in the UK. I signed it with a Red pen, which I remember being a issue with contracts.

I ordered the Chorizo in Redwine sauce as a starter which based on the allergy menu contained nuts (It was just Chorizo, Redwine some herbs!). My main was basically steak with veg and little potatoes with no potential nuts. The cheese cake also no nuts or coconut. So I was fine! No allergic reaction.

Next day I spoke to a few people. Some said I was being discriminated against and wondered if they would get people who are physically disabled to sign something just encase? Vivid lounge staff pretty much all laughed about the whole thing, suggesting they might do the same just for me alone.

Regardless I thought it was all ridiculous and I wondered if this was worst or better than being turned away from Home Sweet Home ages ago?  I understand there are people with far worst allergies but signing something to cover the restaurant’s ass is just shocking! It really didn’t fill me with any trust of what is going on back in the kitchen, to be honest. As long as you are told especially by the manager, that should be enough. I get accidents do happen but this feels so wrong and left a horrible taste in my mouth (pun intended!).

I was willing to get up and leave but as everyone had ordered, but its unlikely I’ll be back…