Just Another Manic Monday

Just Another Manic MondayBy now you know that Monday isn’t my favourite day. A whole weekend worth of questions and issues, a shed load of orders to process, and two of the lads out of the office. The perfect storm.

But having weathered said storm, resolved the issues, answered the questions and processed the orders, there was still time enough to lose all the work I had done since Friday … nightmare !!!

But you know what was really amazing. Despite all the grief, all the angst, I was stoic and composed, I took it all in my stride. The day flew by, so much to do, so little time to do it in, but another set of challenges dealt with and another tick in the ‘we’re getting there’ column.

Determination To Succeed

Determined To SucceedThe world’s population has just passed seven billion, and our small planet is obviously not getting any bigger. To support all these hungry mouths we have to collaborate more closely than ever, to stop fighting and start farming.

All those hundreds of years ago, Nichiren was utterly convinced we could change even the most dire and painful reality, including the danger of war, and indeed that it was imperative that we do so.

This conviction underlies his unwavering determination to create a peaceful society by disseminating the teachings of Buddhism. This is why we are working with endless determination today, to achieve Kosen Rufu, World Peace.

Constructive Criticism

Criticising-OthersIt is very easy to be critical of others, particularly when they are out of earshot. It is, however, valuable to also look for their strengths, as you gain nothing by only criticising others imperfections.

In fact, it is helpful to take a step back, for even a moment each day, and try to consider the feelings and positive qualities of those of whom you are critical.

Crunching The Numbers

Crunching The NumbersApart from being a dedicated Nichiren Buddhist, I have a science and maths background, and I love to know how and why things work. So I’ve been doing the maths behind my weight loss, and the numbers are almost unbelievable.

In the past three months, to be precise, 82 days, I have lost 13.3kg or 2 stone 1  pound (29lbs) in old money. Now the accepted calorific value of each pound of body fat is 3500 calories, so by multiplying the number of pounds lost, assuming I have lost fat and not bone or muscle, we arrive at a staggering 102620 calories. Dividing the total by the number of days gives us an average of just over 1250 each day, every day, amazing.

Whilst the numbers are pretty staggering, it just shows why it is so difficult for people to lose weight. When you consider that running up stairs burns 30.7 calories per minute, to burn off that number of calories would entail doing that exercise continuously for over 2 days 8 hours. Burning them off on an exercise bike, peddling at a moderate pace (around 10.8 calories per minute), would take over 6 days 12 hours.

The only way I have managed to make this work for me, is by using the hunger pangs and the nagging temptations from my Dark Passenger, to build my determination. I have learned to enjoy the hunger pangs, which sounds a little masochistic. But if I am feeling hungry, my body is burning reserves, which means I am losing weight. This method works for me. Maybe I’m strange? But if you want to do it for yourself, and most people I speak to say that they would like to lose a little, you have to find a way to increase your determination to the point that it overcomes the stream of daily temptations to over eat.

The Perfect Sounding Board

I love my MomDoes it sound sad to say that my Mom is my best friend? I don’t think anyone would describe me as a mommy’s boy, but speaking to her virtually every day, shows me that she is just that, my very best friend.

We have a similar outlook on life, albeit that we are a generation apart, and the changes in life between those two generations are vast. She doesn’t always agree with the things I say or do, and will tell me so, but she doesn’t tell me what to do, or how to live my life either.

She has always been there when I have needed support, and that is true for my brothers too. She tells me that I am her golden boy, but I’m sure she says the same to the other two too. She always tries to see both sides of a situation, and puts her point across with wisdom, courage and compassion. We always know where we stand, and we know that she will always stand by us in times of trouble.

So yes, my Mom is my best friend, and I feel very fortunate to be in that position. As someone who has lost her best friend in this lifetime, namely my father, I would like to think that I can, in some small way, reciprocate, and be her best friend now, in his absence.

If it wasn’t for the fact that she is a devout Methodist Christian, she would make a marvellous Buddhist. We talk about the differences between our beliefs, though neither of us would try to impose those beliefs on the other. We both take comfort from the other having a faith on which to base their life. I love you Mom, thank you for always being there, and I hope I can support you in any less happy times as much as you have supported me when I have needed it.

Bring Forth Wrath

Roaring LionNichiren wrote that wrath can be both good and bad. Self-centred anger generates evil, but wrath at social injustice becomes the driving force for reform. Strong language that censures and combats a great evil often attracts adverse reactions from society, but this must not intimidate or deter those who believe they are right.

Remember, a lion is a lion because he roars.

An Unexpected Failure

The gaiter is the bit that looks like a set of bellows ...Today was the day that all motorists dread, the annual MOT test, a day of anxiety and disappointment or elation. Sadly mine was one of disappointment. It’s a strange feeling, handing the keys over to a stranger, not that Tom at Volvo Poole is really that strange. But it’s a bit like leaving your kids with a new babysitter, you just hope that they know what they’re doing and take care of your pride and joy.

I knew that the car needed a new inner track-rod joint, it’s been on the cards for a while, but I had decided to bite the bullet and get it fixed before it caused any trouble. But when the dreaded phone call arrived, the news was not what was expected. The car had failed, a split steering gaiter being the culprit. So I had to agree to getting it replaced, there wasn’t really any alternative, they had my car and would hold it hostage until it had a pass certificate.

Now I do look after my car. I get it serviced at the dealership, use original parts when they are needed and generally give it a deal of TLC. So when it fell at the first hurdle, even though it was because of a part, so well hidden, I would never have spotted, it is disappointing. Of course I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill. The nice man at Volvo replaced the part and a nice crisp pass certificate duly appeared. All I had to do was hand over the dosh. However, and this is the interesting bit, having risen to the challenge of dealing with the failure in a calm and composed manner, I was rewarded by a generous 10% discount off the bill, both parts and labour. Cause and effect? Do you think?


Scales Don't LieI’ve been on this diet since early August, and it’s been going really well. I’ve lost over two stone (13kgs) and I feel terrific, but it’s so easy to get back into bad habits and undo all the good work. Saturday was a perfect example. Being invited to the cafe for breakfast was going to be a treat, teacakes, coffee and all. But it’s all too easy to think, ‘well I’ve had this and that, so I might as well go for it’. Stupid and a big mistake.

Like most challenges in life, it’s far more difficult to stick to the goal than it is to ignore it and let your urges take over. Sadly the scales don’t lie, and I know it wasn’t the teacake that caused all the trouble. One way I have stayed on course is by not having temptations in the house. But Charlotte’s place was full of goodies. A half eaten birthday cake, a box of flapjacks, even a box of Dunkin’ doughnuts.

I managed to avoid most of them, but whether it was because I was tired I don’t know, but I just felt hungry, and gave in to temptation. A couple of crumpets with cheese, coffee with sugar and several Caramel and Crunchie mini bars later I was feeling better, but suitably miffed with myself.

I knew that things would have taken a backwards step when I weighed myself yesterday, but having ‘been good’ all day I was even more dismayed to find things were no better this morning either. So today has been a day for quiet contemplation and sticking strictly to my self imposed rules.

It’s so much easier, and pleasant, to put weight on than it is to get it off. But the hardest of all is to lose it, and then put it back on when you know that you let your fundamental darkness take control. Double the pain, knowing that there is a chink in your determination, and that it really wasn’t worth all the angst. So get thee hence Dark Passenger. My new cycling bits arrived today, so I’m going to put them to good use and burn all those stupid calories off again.

SGI – An Overview

SGI - An OverviewBeing a member of the SGI (Soka Gakkai International) sometimes raises questions about who we are, what we do, and why. Soka Gakkai is Japanese for Value Creating Society, and the organisation is dedicated to helping communities and individuals to create value and happiness in their lives.

Trying to explain this to people who ask can be a little tricky, so I was pleased to see a simple video, posted on Facebook by Jayne this afternoon. To get a better understanding, and to see a cameo appearance by Ken Hawkins, simply click on the image below …

A very smiley Ken Hawkins (click to view the SGI video)

The video is only a couple of minutes long, but it encapsulates the spirit of the SGI and explains a few of the principles behind the organisation.

Teacakes And Tenderness

Charlotte's CakesAnother early start and a drive up to Bristol to see Charlotte, Hannah and the rest of the gang this morning. I have to say that I really don’t like these dark mornings, but at least I did get to see a beautiful sunrise as I neared Bath, so a real silver lining to the clouds.

On a day of real highlights, the one that stood out for me, was just how well Charlotte looked and sounded. She’s getting her hair back now too, so by Christmas she hopes she won’t need her headscarf any more. All the boys, Jake, Stanley, Zach and particularly Oliver are growing so fast, and it was wonderful to get a cuddle from each of them.

While Rob, Jake and Zach went to Jake’s football training, Charlotte, Hannah, Oliver and I went to Coffee#1 in Keynsham, where it was reported that the teacakes were as big as your head. The reports were exaggerated, but not by much, they are huge. With a thick layer of real butter and strawberry jam, washed down by a caramel latte of industrial proportions, it was bye-bye to the diet for today.

Charlotte had booked a cake decoration course for the afternoon, so Hannah and I entertained the boys while Rob was working on the latest phase of the extension he’s building. By the time I was ready to set off for home I was pooped. How Charlotte and Rob cope with their three lads, along with all the oncology treatment is beyond me. All in all, a perfect day, so even though I am dog-tired, it was worth every ounce of energy expended.

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