Now The Future’s Brighter, The Past Doesn’t Seem As Dark

Now I’m feeling better, I can look back on my years of depression and think I wasn’t useless, after all

Candles, poo, flowers, Keith Richards skiing

Original Images: Raph_PH (Wikimedia Commons), cathfinch73, Beverley Buckley, Erzsebet Apostal, Patrick Hodskins, Willy Sietsma (all via Pixabay)

MAYBE IT’S JUST the Spring that’s making me feel better but I feel strangely…. hopeful lately.

Just like the irises, hyacinths and daffodils starting to break through the cold earth in our front garden, little hopeful thoughts have been pushing up all around my mind.

It could be just a trick of the – fast-lengthening – daylight, but it’s beginning to feel like the end of my decades-long depression and, finally, the start of something better.

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Why I’m The Only One, Running In The Snow

I hate always having to run, but it’s the only thing that turns my mood round

snowflakes swirling around an eye

AS YOU MAY have gathered by now, I love running. But, sometimes, I hate having to do it quite as much as I do.

I’d like to be Less Is More and only run when conditions are truly agreeable. I’m thinking: azure skies, green fields, little pink candyfloss clouds and white bunny wabbits cheering as, serenely, I float past.

But lemons, lemonade: some days you have to settle for running through grey South London in the snow…

I really didn’t want to go out yesterday morning. It was just a notch or two above zero, with the winds whipping big wet snowflakes down at a rakish angle and pregnant puddles everywhere I might want to plant a foot.

I had an upset stomach, limbs still stiff from 13 miles at the weekend, and I’d necked an inevitable beer or three the night before – all of which made me feel far from the acme of mature athleticism I like to pretend I am.

I knew it would be unpleasant, going out, but I needed to change the old brain chemistry after a setback in my job search. I kept telling myself it was only a small setback, but they tend to look much bigger when you’re 50-something and haven’t worked for year.

So off I went…

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Finding Work At 50: My Hugh Grant Life

It’s tough to stay motivated when you’re trying to change career – so, like Grant’s character in ‘About A Boy’, I’m proud that I haven’t gone under   

A man and boy slump on the sofa

I DID 150 Side Planks as I was microwaving my porridge this morning.

As the oven chimes sounded to announce that the two minutes of cooking were up – and I gasped through the last half dozen reps – I reflected that I was getting pretty good at time management.

I’d done all the morning chores and waved goodbye to the wife and kids; I’d fitted some intense body-firming exercise into an otherwise idle moment; and I was on schedule to start work at 8.40, as usual.

Except that there wasn’t actually any work to go to…

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If I Can Run The First 200 Metres, I Can Handle Anything

Today’s run is all about rediscovering confidence and willpower

A road going uphill
Image: Ave Calvar/Unsplash

Before I go on any run, I worry.  

I worry that my knee will give out…  

I worry that I won’t make it round…

I worry that I’ll do a Paula Radcliffe (and I don’t mean breaking World Records…)

But most of all, I worry about running the first 200 metres.

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Get Over It – I’m Middle Aged And I’m Tech Savvy

It’s time to ditch the prejudice that older people can’t work with technology

THE POST-MATCH huddle after my son’s rugby on Sunday was a bit unusual.

Normally, the Under-18s all squeeze together briefly to review their rush defence, the lineouts and what not, but The Coach had a different message for them this time.

“Lads, your parents are struggling,” I heard him say.

“They can’t do this new RFU* computer system and if they don’t get their heads round it and register you, we’re going to have to cancel games.

“So can you sit down with them, lads? Help them with it?

“You know what old people are like when it comes to computers…”

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(Don’t) Push It

Trying to change career in my 50s is giving me panic attacks on top of my midlife crisis. I need to remember that I still have time to change.

Pete Tong, Arthur Fowler, Jacques Chirac and Leon Haywood in a shed, thinking about social media

I COULDN’T HELP IT –  I had to get out of the house.

My pulse was quickening, and I felt light-headed and anxious. So I slung a leg over the bike and raced to the allotment.

Like Arthur Fowler, I know that when things go well and truly Pete Tong, it’s time to head down Me Shed.

But why did I need consoling?

I’d been on Facebook promoting this blog, you see. And social media always does strange things to me…

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Let’s Invest In Being Happier

US Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang wants to rescue society by giving everybody a $10,000 guaranteed income. By coincidence, I was given £10,000 last month – and it’s already transforming my life.

Coins sprouting green shoots
Image: Nattanan Kanchanaprat/Pixabay

TODAY, I’M SEEING my psychotherapist for the first time in three months – and at last I have some good news to give him.

In fact, I hope he will still recognise me, because a lot has changed since we last met.

Back in the summer, I was a cynical, depressed, old guy who felt trapped in his long-time role as a House Husband and Teaching Assistant.

But now, I feel younger and more hopeful.

I am – at last – making realistic plans about how I can change my life, and am putting them into practice.

I sense that I might return to work, and again reap the benefits – financial, social and emotional – that come with doing a job I like.

And, as a result, I feel suddenly, giddily, happy.

All at once, I am grateful for myriad things: from the beauty of this morning’s sunrise to the autumn splendour of the trees at the top of my road.

I am even pleased that today is Monday, because Monday is the day my favourite podcasts come out.

And what has made the difference to me is – more or less – money.

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Holding Out For A Hero (Who Advocates A Guaranteed Basic Annual Income…)

Heard of Andrew Yang? He’s the progressive genius who might yet save us all…

Andrew Yang campaigning
Image: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

MAYBE there really is a light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s a dim one for sure – and almost obscured by the black pall of hopelessness generated by Johnson, Trump, prorogation, austerity, Iran, yada yada – but it is there.
And the person holding the torch is a progressive American politician called Andrew Yang, who wants to revolutionise the way we live and work in the western world.
For a start, he wants to give us free money.
And after that, he wants to turn upside-down the way we think about work – so that a mother or a care assistant might be regarded, and rewarded, as highly as a banker.
Yang is one of 10 candidates left in the race to become the US Democratic Party’s candidate to take on Trump in 2020 – and currently polling fifth behind Big Beasts Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.
More excitingly, he claims he is “peeling off” disillusioned Trump supporters from 2016 with his promise of a so-called ‘Freedom Dividend’ – or a guaranteed $1,000 monthly income for all Americans.

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Loneliness And The Middle Aged House Husband

I’ve been feeling quite alone of late. But maybe I’m just feeling more free?

An empty bird's nest
Image: F. Muhammad/pixabay

THERE ARE FOUR people living in our house still, but it’s starting to feel like an empty nest.

After my wife leaves for work around 8am, I sit alone in the top room writing and often don’t see anyone for hours at a time.

My son is, theoretically, present but – blessed with epic Summer Holidays after finishing his GCSEs in June – has done what most teens would, and turned almost completely nocturnal.

His sister, meanwhile, is finally about to start University, after a Gap Year working 9-5 in an office out west.

As a family, we are poised for change.

No-one is actually leaving the house but, by Christmas, the kids will be deep into their A-Levels and degrees, having taken another step up in maturity and a step further away from us.

And like British shipyards, steel works, coalfields, my House Dad business (Est. 2002) will feel closer than ever to locking its doors for the final time.

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Work It?

CHANGE is coming to how we work. But at my age, I’m not getting my hopes up

A roadworks sign

YOU CAN TELL a lot about what a person is thinking from the books they buy.
Out of all the volumes in all the shop yesterday, I chose
1) a volume of cricket history,
2) Jog On: How Running Saved My Life, and
3) a memoir about how being a teacher is wonderful, and life-affirming.  
And what my choices tell us is:
1) I feel a need for comfort and certainty;
2) I really want to run again regularly, and fervently hope to get over my depression; 
3) I am still fantasising about getting a ‘proper’ job as a teacher, despite quitting within a month last time I tried.
But perhaps even more interesting was the book I picked up and didn’t buy: Not Working: Why We Have To Stop, by Josh Cohen.
As I weighed it in my hand I thought: I know what this is aboutThis is about giving up our pointless jobs and doing what we really want with our lives. *
And then I put it down again, quickly, because I couldn’t bear to read that.

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