She means business

While doing some research around Living a conscious life. I was pleasantly surprised to find Carrie Green had included part of a conversation following the Tedx talk above, with her in North Tea Power in her book.

When I discovered this, I decided well I might as well get a copy for my ever growing library. Today I got my copy…

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.”

Thank you again Carrie for the quote and everything, I will never forget the moment.

Think like a child?

Many people have said and commented I think like a child or that I am childlike…?

On the face of it, it can be seen as a negative thing, I mean who wants to be compared to a child? Heck theres even game shows asking if you are smarter than a child. But I don’t see it that way.

This is a side effect of my dyslexia in daily life, and has a interesting affect on relationships. However I and the freakonomics think this is a good way of going about life

It may be that we embrace the idea in this book of thinking like children because we’re kind of, you know, childlike. We have kind of obvious observations sometimes. There’s observations that strike people as obvious. We ask a lot of questions that are not considered, you know, the kind of questions that people ask in good company or smart company. But one of the most powerful pieces of thinking like a child that we argue is thinking small.

Thinking like a child is a gift and a advantage I would argue.

…what I find is that kids are better at paying attention to more than one thing. Their attention is more diffuse. Adults are really good at focusing on one thing and ignoring peripheral distractions, whereas kids are really good at sort of shotgunning their attention all over the place. Which is a good way to learn. It’s good when you’re first learning how things work, when you’re first exploring the world. But in magic, you want the person to focus on one thing. You want to direct their attention to one particular thing so that they won’t see what’s going on in the shadows…

Ah attention… They tell us that multi-tasking is a bad thing but regardless I feel better when multitasking. Unless I’m delving into the flow state with others, but I’m still wondering elsewhere.

…I think it’s also that they’re approaching it with this curiosity and it’s this sponge-like desire, and that they’re always making theories. That’s the other thing. I don’t feel like adults are like that. I sort of feel like they watch it and they’re waiting for the punchline, and then they sort of see it, and then they maybe go back and think about it. With kids, you get this sense that at every step of the way they’re trying to understand it. From the second they see it, they’re always coming up with theories

I think the general picture, when you talk about risks as adults, when we’re trying to decide on a course of action, we’re always balancing the risks and utilities. Whether that’s a risk to my reputation or my ego or my future interactions with other people or just a risk to my profit margin. And kids aren’t in that world of—or at least, if they’re being taken care of properly—they’re not in that world of risk and utility calculations. That liberates then, that frees them to, as we say, play.

Curiosity and play, something which we as adults seem to lose for many reason. Risk of being wrong in front of peers is a big one. This seems linked to the fear of rejection in my mind. But I guess risk is a better word for it in general.

The point I’m making is, a child like outlook isn’t a bad thing and actually we might be better off with child like thinking.

There is something about being a child, about having that particular childlike mind and brain, that is the thing that’s letting you explore more and, in some sense, be more creative. And that there are things that we could do even as adults that put us back into that kind of state.

If I was offering advice to young dyslexics…

… what advice would I give…? Well first I would watch the video above!

This is a question I ask myself after reading the Guardian’s post about writing tips for dyslexic kids.  I think myself and Tom are pretty much in agreement, but here’s my thought alongside his top liners.

Tip 1: sometimes the things we struggle with can be the most rewarding.

I struggled with writing for many many years and now I write almost every single day and publicly. Many of non-dyslexics fear writing publicly but I do it for myself. Its hard when you get people picking holes in your own words but keep going it is very rewarding. Its the grit of getting knocked and coming back stronger, which will make you stronger in the future.

Tip 2: never be afraid to think visually.

Absolutely, and its important not to feel ashamed for thinking differently. You are gifted in many ways. visual and spacial thinking is beautiful and fascinating. The medium still needs to catch up but push it and make it work for you. I’m no longer waiting, I’m building it to suit me. You should do the same.

Tip 3: Try not to get annoyed and throw a book/custard pie/tantrum at anyone who corrects your reading*.

They just don’t understand and will never understand how painful it is having people corrected over and over again. Its not you being dumb, its only one disadvantage, in a massive arsenal of advantages. Feel better by doing something you love straight afterwards if you feel the need to get very upset.

Tip 4: don’t be afraid to surround yourself by what you love.

If you are not doing what makes you happy find ways to escape, ultimately it will make you unhappy. Treat it as a problem which needs to be solved in the most creative way you can. This also applies to people as well. If somebody is making you feel rubbish, tell them and if they still won’t listen, avoid them, basic communication till they change. Love is passion and underestimated by many

Tip 5: if anyone goes at your work with a red pen, grab it off them, snap it in two and throw it out of the window, then ask them to read what you have written, rather than correct it.

Absolutely! Recognise that its always easier to pick holes and correct than start. Put a blank piece of document/paper in front of them and ask them to start writing, see how they get on with the pressure. Conformity is boring and will make you ultimately unhappy.

Tip 6: poetry often works to a structure, you know that a certain line rhyme with another, it makes you think about words. It’s like the foundations of a house are laid out in front of you, and you have to add the walls and roof.

Poetry can be messed with, there is plenty of room for your creativity. The constraints are there to drive creativity not hinder it. Think on your feet and don’t try and emulate somebody else.

Tip 7: don’t be scared of a blank piece of paper, it’s the best thing in the world.

A blank paper, screen, wall, etc are a world of possibilities. Its waiting for your ideas and inspiration. Make your mark and never apologise for making a mark/your mark.

Tip 8: learn about what dyslexia is, read about it, you’ll find yourself going “I totally do that!” quite a lot. There are many others like you, all of them probably have felt isolated, stupid, like they didn’t belong at some point too.

There are others like you and me. If you understand the advantages and disadvantages, you can learn where you’re strengths and weaknesses lye. There are some great people who are dyslexic, but even better you can help others.

Tip 9: writing is about you, they are your thoughts, the things you have to say, and those can never be wrong.

No matter what people say, don’t feel the need to censor yourself and write personal things in somebody elses voice. Be creative with your words and don’t be ashamed when making up new words. Just put some quotes around it, like “thingybob” and then define it.

Tip 10: stop reading this and go write something amazing.

Agreed…  and never be ashamed of your writing and voice.. Anthony below further expands on the themes above…

Coma hallucinations and dreams

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Its almost 4 years since mybrushwithdeath. And about this time is when I tend to remember how lucky I am and of course remember what happened during that whole period. As I say in the TEDxManchester2 Talk, that whole period is pretty much blank but I do kind of remember some of the dreams I had.

From Mindhacks,

Intensive Care Medicine has published a wonderfully written and vivid account from a teenager who spent time brain injured and hallucinating in an intensive care unit.

The writer describes how he was admitted to intensive care at the age of 15 after suffering a head injury and had intense and bizarre hallucinations which are, as we know now, surprisingly common in critical care patients.

Have to agree, when I was in ICU, I had some crazy dreams and hallucinations. The weird part is looking back on what I can remember, some parts I starting to question they were actually real. I won’t talk about my dreams because they were disturbing and slightly worrying.

But a couple weird things which I assume were hallucinations include thinking how super clean the hospital was, in my head a cleaner would clean every hour regardless of the time or day. Somewhere along the line, I also thought the hospital was owned by Google (I assume the Google IO and Google Health must have been  more than just playing on my mind)

I remember having a real conversation about USB/HDMI power and the maximum load with Tim at some point? Heaven knows why…

I knew when something really nasty was going to happen. I could always hear the same alarm going off. It was a signal for the monsters to appear, for the centipede to attack, for bombs to be dropped, I would be sacrificed…I was very afraid.

I guess the scary part looking back is the blend from reality to mild hallucinations. I wasn’t seeing stuff coming out the wall or anything like that but I certainly had some odd thoughts about the world cup based on my curtain which surrounded my bed in ICU (a few weeks before it had even started). Maybe I was picking up on something being talked about or something?

Its interesting to hear how common hallucinations are in ICU, I assumed it was just the high powered drugs.

Mind over the matter

My bleeding finger after a small blood test

Some of you know I have a couple of great fears in my life.

  • dogs
  • needles and/or injections

I’ve been bitten by dogs many times, the last time I was walking along a quiet street and a little yappy dog came out of the front garden where the owner was cutting the hedge. Walked across the road and came up behind me, then bite me on my lower right leg! Then ran off back inside. The owner instantly ran over and took me to hospital in a car.

But for my fear of dogs, living with one for over a year was one heck of a challenge. Yep after marrying my ex-wife, she brought her dog (jack) over to the UK. I got use to him after a while, and although I’m still fearful of them I’m not so bad now. However my fear of needles has never been damped in actual fact it maybe gotten worst over time.

So why the fear?

  • Well I’ve had a few negative experiences which I still remember
  • When I was about 2, my mother took me to have my vaccinations and when the needle was going in to my arm I felt the pain. I reached out and made a grab for the needle, therefore prolonging the whole experience.
  • When I was at school, someone had TB so of course everyone had to have a injection, just in case. I find ways to put the whole thing off for about a year! In the end they got me and the nurses told me I almost crushed there hands when having the injection.
  • I had a volleyball injury and went to see the doctor to get my finger sorted out. It was going slightly green from all the puss in my finger. Anyway, the doctor looked at it, turned around and asked me to hold my hand out. When he turned back around, he held my arm and whipped out a needle from his other hand. He then quickly pierced/stabbed my finger with the needle and let the puss drip out along with some blood. It was so quick and caught me by such a surprise I was in total shock and threaten to call the police.
  • Every time I go to have anything done at a hospital, they want to do a Sickle cell test before anything else. So a while ago I had surgery on my arm and they did a test. This time they put some pads of creams on the back of my hand to "relax the skin" left it there for about 45mins. Then proceeded to give me a very very painful blood tests in the back of my hand (hence the antiseptic pads don’t work). However I had hidden in the bathroom for the 2nd round. It took 3 doctors to drag me kicking and screaming to get me out and and ready for the 2nd injection.

So yep I’m seriously terrified, and trust me I got more storys/experiences.

Blood testing kit

Hypnotherapy

I’ve been carrying this fear for ages and well frankly I was willing to try anything to get over it. I even considered taking drugs to numb the effects of the needle. So I decided before I go to such extremes I should try hypnotherapy.

I asked the team of physiotherapist at Manchester Hospital and they suggested I check out a portal site for hypnotherapy. Having found a couple in central Manchester, I sent out emails and Shannon douglas from Mind body balance studio, replied with a nice email suggesting I come in for a free session to discuss everything. So I did and thats where it all started.

Shannon is a interesting ex-pat Australian, shes relatively young, very thin, some would say attractive and quite charming. When I say charming, I don’t mean in a creepy, social engineering type of way. Actually shes more innocent and caring that I imagined. My natural barrier were very high when I first stepped in the room but I started to relax with everything that she said. What really got me was the fact that she was newly registered on the NHS referral index and that she could do it in 3 sessions (each session being 1 hour long).

After the first session, Shannon put me under for about 20mins. It seemed like 5mins. (when I say put me under, I really mean put me in a very relaxed state where I’m more receptive to external ideas, it not like how you imagine hypnosis to be (stage hypnosis for example) its quite relaxing and your mind won’t do anything you don’t want to do. Its like giving up smoking, you can only really do it if you REALLY want to) The great thing is that the sessions are recorded and Shannon puts them on Cd for you to listen to later in your own home. She recommends listening to them everyday between the sessions. Its works well because you can really relax in your own home and listen carefully to Shannons voice.

Funny enough Shannon uses a dj app (Virtual dj) to mix between tunes when your under as she reads aloud the pre-paired personalised script. Shannon’s great at what she does but shes not very technically savvy, We did talk about ways to improve her web profile but thats for another day. Back to the therapy and I’ll skip to the last session.

The last session

In the last session (the bridge session, as I’ll call it) Shannon asked me to look around the room afterwards. I noticed the sharps bin (yellow) behind her massive microscope. I also started wondering why she had the sharps bin and the massive microscope. Anyway she explained she does Blood analysis too and showed me what was in the bin. There were these little grey cartridges which Shannon showed me had a needle in it. They were small and very compact. I played with one for a while and Shannon showed me how it works by pushing the orange stick in and twisting it off. Then she pricked her finger by pressing the button and put the blood on a slide which went under the microscope.

It was amazing to see the blood cells so close up, I’ve never seen them like that before and Shannon pointed out certain things in her own blood. You could see tons of red blood cells, white blood cells and many more parts (I wasn’t that bothered what was there, just seeing them so close up, got me going). Anyway, I started wondering what my own blood looks like. My curiosity has just over taken my fear and I think Shannon knew this or at least identified this. The only thing was that I would need to give myself a blood test if I was going to find out.

So after a long long time, I plucked up enough courage to do it. I was almost crying before I did it but I did it!

The relief of doing it was almost unbearable, it was like something had been lifted off of me. Shannon was amazed and was close to tears herself, as she said,

"You’ve come such a long way, in such a short time. Carrying around all that fear for decades must have been debilitating… I’m so proud of you"

And honestly I believe she really meant it.

Blood testing kit

My Fear is gone?

So is it gone? Well not exactly… But I feel much more at ease with the idea of injections. I can now also watch a blood test on the TV without turning away like I use to. I still don’t like it but in my mind everything seems a lot clearer that before. Its like the grey cloud has been broken up into small manageable chunks. Its all very impressive and I’m sure the Cds will come in useful for future events.

The power of the mind is unmeasurable, this is part of the reason why I’m so interested in the flickr for dreams startup, mydreamscape. As Cob
b in inception says
,

"planting a seed in someone’s mind could define a man; change him"

Shannon’s hyponotherapy certainly has helped me change my perspective on this fear I’ve been living with for decades. I wish I had it done it years ago. Thank you Shannon, I hope things pick up for you, but doing some of the things I suggested might help too. This is a giant step forward and my life will change for ever more because of this…