It’s been awhile since we had a virtual coffee date together. Over 3 months, in fact!
Hope you’re all well especially now as life is returning back to ‘normality’ around the Globe.
Got my coffee, so grab a brew and let’s have a catch-up!
In truth, I’ve not been too great of late. It’s a combination of many things, mostly just how busy life has become recently. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, however sometimes I’m well aware I spread myself to thinly which causes stressful situations.
I could beat myself up about it, in fact I already have to a point. I could quit but that’s not an option. So I decided I must try to manage my time a bit better which isn’t easy when there’s the School Holidays on here in the U.K.
University wise, an admin error meant I was well over studying which I could do had I not returned to comedy and started a business. So I’m in talks now to try to get that sorted out which means it’ll take a touch longer to get my Masters but it’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with waiting another year or two and I must keep telling myself that.
Comedy wise, it’s been crazy since May! I’m trying not to take too much on as pre-pandemic sometimes I had 3-4 gigs a week which is fine on paper but when you’re driving a total of 5 hours for probably a total of 20 minutes on stage, it’s not that glamorous at all. I’m really pleased with the two venues I run nights at. And I deem it a success that I’ve booked up every date til Christmas with quality new and not so new acts on the Circuit.
This Tuesday, I’ll be performing for Tom Douglas at his night in Sheffield here:
Then on Thursday, I’m running Comedy @ The Commercial again here:
Consulting/Learning wise, I’m still in the process of getting the first course finalised and ready to go so hoping that we’ll have a fully deliverable programme in the very near future.
Of course with it being the Summer Holidays, I’m absolutely shattered. We aren’t going anywhere this year as it’s not worth the risk or extra costs involved due to COVID19. But little man and I are having some lovely days out and just enjoying being at home not having to do school runs and lazing in pyjamas if the mood takes us. But? I’m really tired. Was chatting to a friend the other day and I realised I’d not read a book since 2018 other than any reading for university. I’ve tried, but I fall asleep after a few lines. This is extremely out of character as I am an avid bookworm and it’s actually quite upsetting because I genuinely feel like I don’t have the time to just sit and read.
I’m not sure if it’s just a case of poor time management, or getting older and losing the ability to concentrate, but it’s frustrating. I’m finding driving longer distances really take it out of me too and that makes me sad. It’s becoming more frequent that I feel ‘mortal’ now and with that comes such a sense of despair.
I still have hopes, dreams, goals, objectives. I’m not ready to die just yet.
So, I’m hoping I can find the motivation to carry on and maybe get a good night’s sleep.
Today, I’m joined by Yker Valerio, Founder/Editor of Bon Vivant Caffè. Which makes perfect sense as this is a virtual coffee date! It is almost impossible to not smile when you talk to Yker because he is such a passionate character.
This is his story:
“When the Pandemic began, I was working for a consulting firm. I’d been there almost ten years. I was teaming up with another consultant and a client’s Project Manager. Although it was an exciting project, something felt a bit, ‘off’. I couldn’t put my finger on why though.
Leading up to this, I’d been directing my energy into some freelancing projects, mostly translations and writing. I didn’t realise at the time but I’d found my calling.
Writing is a lifelong passion for me, and I just felt it was time to write more. So in 2020, I made my mind up and decided to start my own business as a freelance writer and entrepreneur”
Yker’s next move is great advice to any budding entrepreneurs out there.
“Well, I decided to start my niche research right away, was a coffee blog a good idea? I took Authority Hackersapproach to advance and started working on my coffee blog in July.
Curiously enough, the quarantine helped me to focus and my productivity rose very quickly. Commuting time and small-talk at the office suddenly transformed into productive time and made a huge difference for me.
Then, I realised that I needed some time to work alone. So, I prepared to launch my blog and took a part-time contract as a writer, so I could transition away from my full-time job”.
So as the World rolled down its shutters, Yker was able to reflect on his place and purpose in this world.
“All of my career I’d been around HR-related consulting, with some hints of innovation, transformation, and change.
From my standpoint, I was working in supportive roles most of the time, which was essential to me.
I felt worried about the people around me, but something made me think I would be better working on my own. So, when the crisis was becoming overwhelming for most people, I felt liberated actually.
It sounds terrible, and self-centred, but my experience as a remote freelancer and entrepreneur have given me so much autonomy and productivity I can barely understand how I functioned before this.
It still worries me the current status of the people around, but I can’t think about returning to work the way I did it before. I wouldn’t do it, as I know how I can be a lot more productive now.
With the support of my wife of course, she has always been very supportive. I was a bit afraid of my parents’ response, but without my wife I don’t think I’d have progressed as well as I have.
Fortunately, my whole family and friends have been at my side at every step. I can’t thank them enough for the encouragement and good vibes.
I think it’s key to have a supportive circle of people around to sort the hard times, and I am lucky enough to have a beautiful family and good friends around me”.
See? It’s impossible to not smile…
“I can’t ignore the huge pain the Pandemic has inflicted on so many people.
Still, it has forced many organisations, institutions, and individuals to be more open about remote working, engaging in chats, social media, and all-sorts of new conversations.
I have enjoyed many online events during this year, including some coffee-related stuff like High Density, which was completely mind-blowing. I still watch the replays and learn from them.
E-learning was another huge part of my year, since I developed lots of new skills through online learning. I worked, and studied, and researched, and wrote, round the clock. I can’t imagine how difficult it’s for people without access to the internet to face this pandemic.
Every time I hear the story about people struggling because they don’t speak English, or don’t have access to the Internet it saddens me.
I honestly wish more people could have more opportunities to thrive, even in these challenging times.
Many people are afraid and anxious. Others are optimistic. Still, I think the major difference between them is those want to return to the old normal opposed to those who want something different.
As I touched on before, when I realised I was more productive and energetic working on my own, I chose to take the entrepreneurial path.
It’s risky, but no one is safe during a crisis like this one. So I took the bold step.”
Iagree with Yker, itwasa riskthoughI understand the motivation behind it.
“Energy or lack of, was the biggest reason that compelled me to take action. I felt tired after a meeting as a consultant, but could write the whole Saturday for my blog!
When I noticed I could focus for 10 hours in a row on my writing, I decided that I needed to take it seriously.”
I asked Yker to reflect on the decisions he made, here’s what he said.
“I have had my ups and downs, but I feel confident that I took the best decision.
It’s challenging to deal with financial instability, but I didn’t have any guarantee it was going to be any different as a full-time employee anyway.
I have a lot more mental stamina than before. The Pandemic put everything in perspective and it’s easier for me to see petty obstacles, just as they are.
Additionally, I am more creative and productive than I was. On the downside, I am more sedentary!”
Yeah, you and most of us now!
“I care more about impact than perceptions now. Working as a full-time employee I did my best to contribute to my employer’s bottom line, while presenting myself as an expert consultant.
Today as a freelancer and business owner, I can only see clients, providers, and partners as people. It’s incredible how alienated I was from this simple idea, but as I see human beings in business, my decisions are better grounded and easier to make.”
And that’s not all Yker learnt from this experience…
“Process and results are equally important. We tend to focus so much on goals that we forget that they come from our effort, energy, time, and skills. The pandemic has made me think about my fragility.
My advice is don’t overthink about your purpose, and put top. skills to work instead. I tried to convince myself about my purpose. Yet, my goals and skillset are evolving, day after day. Looking for a purpose can be exhausting and confusing. Since I found that out, I do my best to put my skills to work whenever I can.”
And last piece of advice?
“Love. Sounds cheesy, because we’re so blind that we’re afraid of loving and even say the word. It’s the most powerful thing we have, so sharing love with everyone has become crucial for me”.
Yker drives home a great point here.
“There’s no magic solution or a Eureka moment that deals with lack of purpose or an odd feeling about your job or your business. It’s easier to find good things in what we have, than waiting for dreams to come true.
I just prefer to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. And I honestly believe everyone can do that as well”.
And as that concludes our interview, readers can connect online with Yker.
“My passion in hobby and business is coffee and writing about coffee, so the easiest way to know more about me and engage with me is on the Website
Back on the 3 in 1’s just for convenience… I ain’t judging you!
Since the last coffee together, we had the Easter Break, some of Europe went back into Lockdown as the U.K. is starting to come out of it.
There’s been a couple of high profile and celebrity deaths, it’s also snowed here for the first time in April since 1984! I remember the day well as I was going to hospital to have my tonsils removed.
Schools reopen tomorrow and boy, will I miss my child terribly. Many people are so happy for their kids to return having gone stir-crazy yet my son really is my best mate so I’m going to really feel his absence.
It does feel strange, venturing back to some semblance of normalcy after a year of restrictions. And if I’m really honest, I’m not looking forward to it. I noticed my local shop getting busier and people not keeping 2 metres away in the queue and it unsettles me. I realise just how much I dislike anyone in my personal space, now and it can be quite anxiety-inducing.
Having already been through such an emotional rollercoaster of a time, I’m taking stock just how much my mental health has been tested.
On the plus side, I live in the hope that soon my wingman and I can travel again. I’d love to know your holiday plans, so please do tell me in the comments!
Join me again next week for a virtual coffee date!
At first, I was a little anxious about this prompt for a number of reasons that made a over-thinker come up with questions I now share with you:
Who the Hell am I to critique anything?
What difference would my critique make?
Where do I pick the right piece of work to start to critique?
When to critique anything as if it’s not timely, is that then not just another no-body’s opinion?
Why do I put myself through this?
How will I get readers to actually read a critique objectively especially if I pick a provocative piece?
Do I dare Disturb the universe?
T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland
Then, it happened!
The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The ‘lightbulb’ moment!
If you have to say or do something controversial, aim so that people will hate that they love it and not love that they hate it.
Criss Jami, Killosophy
So I decided to tackle this task as an ‘open letter’ of sorts to a young couple that we have all heard of. To a husband and wife that we have all had an opinion on. To two people in the limelight. To a mother and father that are no different to any other parent that wants to protect their families. To a man born into a way of life and the woman who worked to find her way of life.
My aim is to tackle this task with objectivity. I’m neither conformist or anarchist, I’m neither right or wrong. I merely write from what I have seen and heard from them via many sources. I merely write as I felt a resonance when they described how they felt.
There’s a sort of ‘mob mentality’ surrounding this couple. Anything in the mainstream and social media about them seems to create a knee-jerk reaction of anger and disdain. Anyone who tries to voice a fairer opinion on some channels, gets laughed at or shut down.
Now, that doesn’t phase me at all. I’m quite resilient to online trolls having dealt with real life ones for a long time. What does phase me is the hypocritical nature of this behaviour. I mean how can you post “be kind” today and then slate this couple tomorrow? It makes no sense, whatsoever.
You don’t just cherry pick who deserves kindness and compassion and who doesn’t just because you have a personal issue with their very existence which by the way, impacts your life in no way.
At this point, if you think you can guess which couple I’m talking about, share your answer in the comments below.
It is a little uncomfortable when it has been neglected, as I collect what I can into a McDonald’s paper bag destined for the bin. The seatbelt restricts me no matter what height level it is set at and I notice it’s always worse when the weather is warmer. The gentle breeze slips in through the window as I wait, engine off in the car park. Ooh peace.
As I wait enjoying the silence before the schoolyard screams as the concrete block releases its people, before the stereotypical dad comes swerving in, in his souped-up tinpot of a car that’s unnecessary to rev as much when he lives within walking distance of the school. As I wait for his glare which I meet confidently every day until he looks down defeated again. I laugh inwardly, remembering the only time he mouths off is when he drives away. Ooh big man.
The field surrounding the greying concrete block pops its greenery, birds flocking looking for worms or dropped crusts from packed lunches. The gauge reads 17 Degrees Celsius yet it feels warmer. Ooh it’s hot.
We texted earlier, I know how his day went up until lunchtime. I’m nervous now, silently praying nothing happened in the last hour.
The heavy black metal doors swing open and out pour the uniformed souls of varying ages, heights, genders, races, creeds. Some race to their parent’s cars with big smiles, some skulk off to the bus stop. Some just mill around looking lost while others play fight and chase each other. Ooh banter.
The minutes pass by, where is he?
We’re all looking for our kids, but what do we really see? Do other parents feel the pang of nostalgia at their bygone schooldays? Do they look at other parents in silent judgement? Does anyone notice the irony in a big girl calling an even bigger girl “a fat bitch” for no apparent reason? Why doesn’t anyone call out that sly little sod tripping people over? Am I parallel parked in a parallel universe here ? Ooh it makes me mad!
And then, I see him. His eyes meet mine over his mask through my windshield. I see him. Tall, smart, purposeful in his stride. Wary of crossing moving cars to get to me. His discreet wave. He opens the passenger door, greets me cheerfully and puts his bag in the footwell. I greet him back and we hug in the car. I don’t want to let him go but I can’t sit there all night. He fills me in on the blanks of his day, as people drive off towards home for the evening. Ooh what’s for dinner?
Course, I haven’t seen them… I was too focused on him. It’s only evident it people left as we are the last car in the car park.
Today’s lesson provides five Tweets as a blog post prompt. The idea is to choose one that elicits a response. I’m not on Twitter anymore nor do I intend to return to it, however this is the tweet I chose from the lesson:
We’ve all wondered why certain things are taught in schools when other things aren’t. There’s so many memes and posts that state as much. Here is a great example:
Whilst I can’t be 100% certain of the original context Koh tweeted that post, my take on it is that you can be academic but not streetwise or you can be resourceful in many ways, yet not academic.
In the U.K. the Curriculum hasn’t evolved much from when I left school to now as I watch my son homeschooling. Yes the tasks are more relevant and fun than what I remember and are certainly more engaging. Yet still I wonder if English is a core subject, why aren’t we learning in school how to write a CV and cover letter? Maths is a core subject, why aren’t we learning basic book-keeping and budgeting/bill management in school? Science is a core subject so why aren’t we learning about reducing our carbon footprint for example.
PSHE/PSE, Science and Religious Studies touch on Reproduction and Sexual Education yet don’t touch on subjects like all forms of contraception, dealing with emotions, how to protect yourself from Domestic Abuse, how much weddings cost, the implications of divorce…
Geography doesn’t touch on entry requirements to other lands, vaccinations needed in certain countries, currency converting. Even booking a holiday, applying for passports etc. All that are things we do as adults that we never learned to do as young people. Why doesn’t PE cover eating disorders and body dysmorphia? Why doesn’t Home Economics & Food cover household matters, menu planning, shopping and budget?
For a minimum of 13 years, you’re in school and when you leave what have you really learned? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below
Today’s task is finding inspiration from one word, there’s a list of words to pick from so I’ll start at the beginning and work through the others in due course.
Definitively, hope is “a feeling of expectation and a desire for a particular thing to happen”. My interpretation of that raises two questions:
What do I want?
What am I waiting for?
Though these questions are way too generalised. Right now, I want another coffee and I’m waiting for the kettle to boil!
There are so many contexts to which these questions apply. I could answer them professionally, materialistically, personally, wistfully, emotionally and even spiritually. I could answer them for myself or in regard to my family and friends.
I think hope in the definitive sense, is ever-evolving. What we hoped Santa would bring us at age 6, we’d probably laugh at as adults. Although at 43 I’m still open to Santa bringing me a Mr. Frosty set!
We may have hoped that a relationship would be happy ever after yet it ended badly. We may have hoped to get to the top of a career ladder yet made redundant after only a couple of years. We may have hoped for children yet never had them, hoped to pass a driving test yet fail the first few times.
In terms of what I want, I’ve noticed that since I became a parent and as I get older my wants have shifted from frivolous to more secure and stable things.
On my 40th birthday, I had a few friends round and after a good takeaway and a few drinks we set about writing bucket lists for a laugh. Each with a sheet of paper and a pen listing “Things to do before I die” and after we compared them to see if we had any the same which strangely, the four of us had many, so the more realistic ones, we did together over the next year. And these weren’t outrageous really, mostly places we dreamed of visiting, concerts we’d have loved to have gone to, that type of thing. And it was a beautiful, fun, enriching year.
In terms of what I’m waiting for, I’ve learnt to expect nothing. Then, you can’t be disappointed.