I’m listening to a debate on local radio in Belfast about gay rights. Recently, an influential journalist reported that Northern Ireland is a cold place for gay people. Listening to the debate I have to agree.
I have four children. What if one or more of them is gay? Will I love them any less? Of course not! But listening to some callers I despair for our wee country. How are we to move on when we live in a society that, and I quote “hates” what a section of our community does in private?
What business is it of others what others do? It’s not illegal and it harms no one. Of course the old argument came out about how the bible says its wrong. God did not write the bible, man did! If we did everything that books told us to do we would be playing quidditch at weekends and trying to destroy rings in volcanoes! Not to mention what Fifty Shades Of Grey teaches us.
I’m bringing my children to Belfast’s Gay Pride parade. I want them to grow up being proud of who they are. I’m proud of them and always will be, no matter how they turn out.

Hello Everybody,

First, an apology. When I started this blog I intended it to be a weekly record on how a positive attitude can influence a positive effect on life. For a long time it worked well for me. However, due to unforeseen financial reasons, I found myself falling into depression again. It just seemed to me that no matter how hard I tried, I always seemed to fall short of money at the end of the week. As a result I was unable to continue with my driving lessons and have missed my deadline of being a qualified driver by August. The shitty weather hasn’t helped lift my mood either. So you see, I’ve fallen off my own cycle of change. What to do? Simple, I just got back on it!

Yes, I am sorry that I have not been keeping weekly updates but it felt wrong to be writing a blog about positive mental attitude when positivity was in short supply. I had let myself down and worse, I’ve let you, dear reader, down.

Anyway, I have sorted out my finances and put my driving dream on hold. Onwards and upwards as they say! Maybe I just bit off more than I could chew. I’m going to use a strange analogy about myself but it just seems right.

” My life is like a natural water spring, bursting forth from the ground. As it travels downhill it encounters many obstacles, determined to block its path to the sea. The obstacles may slow it down but eventually the water WILL reach the sea.”

Things will happen to me which cause my life plan to stagnate, but eventually I’ll get there in the end. Anyway, I’m enjoying the journey. I’m glad you are still joining me on it. Your company is truly appreciated!

My friends and family think I am a workaholic. I have lost count of the amount of  arguments that I have had with them over not taking time off for important family events. I have always had a deep rooted fear that if I take unnecessary time off then my employer might see me as surplus to requirements. I have explained in previous  blogs how my job involves, well, not a lot. My fear lies in the fact that when I do have a rare day off, my employer fails to get cover for me. In this present climate of austerity I fear that my job security is at risk. Hence my not so unselfish desire to help the tenants in my building. If I make myself indispensable to them then they will continue to pay their rent and therefore my wages.

But at what cost to my friends and family? I want to be a part of the events that make their lives so fulfilling. This week my youngest son graduated from his nursery school. His school went all out on the event. The kids all wore gowns and mortarboard hats. When my son walked up to get his certificate, the look of pride on his face moved me to tears. In his smile I saw at once all the school plays and sport days I had missed, and all the future events that right-minded parents would crawl over hot coals to go to. Had I been controlled by my irrational fear of loss, I would have went to work and missed out on yet another milestone in my family history. I’m so glad I pulled a sickie! Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t condone this type of behaviour. But I wasn’t missing this event for the world and I don’t intend to miss any more either!

Hello, everyone! First of all let me apologise for my absence lately. However, if you read on you will learn just exactly what I have been up to. 

    Those who are regular readers will know that I am on a mission to change my outlook on life and, hopefully, my life in general. For the past few weeks I have been working hard on my driving theory test and am pleased to report that I have successfully passed that particular hurdle! I am still on track to be driving by August. Unfortunately my driving instructor is currently off the road and I am patiently awaiting my return to the highways of Northern Ireland. My lessons have been progressing well and I am full of every confidence that I will have my license by the beginning of August.

     Something else has also kept me from my blog. As an avid reader and aspiring writer I was intrigued by the success of the Fifty Shades trilogy by E.L. James. I had to read the books to find out what all the fuss was about. It was only after I started reading the stories that I was informed that it had been dubbed “mummy porn”! In all fairness to Mrs James, yes there is a huge amount of pornographic material in the books, however there is also a great story and believable characters that you actually begin to care about. So much so that you are hoping that there is not so much detail in the bedroom scenes ( and the bathroom scenes, the hallway scenes and the elevator scenes!) and that the author would just get on with the story. Even as a man reading so-called chick lit it is a fantastic story and very easy to read. E.L James must be congratulated on crafting such an engrossing trilogy.

         Driving tests and erotic novels aside, I have had a lapse in my positive mental attitude. Although I have tried to put a positive spin on the many trying events in my life, I occasionally just can’t be positive sometimes. To tell you otherwise, that everything is rosy in Jagwal’s life would be an insult to you dear reader. To be truthful, only  delusional people are 100% positive 100% of the time. What makes my journey different is how I deal with my lapses in positivity. I have a system in place which is my cycle of change. It consists of four points in a circle. A leads to B, B leads to C, C leads to D and D leads back to A. Still with me? Let me explain.

A) Think about change

B) making a change

C) Keeping the changes going

D) Having a lapse

    I start with thinking about making changes in my life. Until recently that is as far as I went. The hard part is making the change in your life. Once that is done its just a matter of keeping the changes going. It gets easier with time. However, temptation is around every corner and this can cause you to have a lapse. This is where it is very easy to fall off the cycle. It is all right to have a lapse. But once it occurs you have two choices: fall back into the old ways or get back on the cycle at point A. 

     I have been fortunate in that with each lapse I have had the determination to continue with making the positive changes in my life. I am very optimistic about the future and I want everyone to optimistic in their future, whatever that may be.

In my quest to better myself I have looked into a range of different courses and hobbies. At 31 I still have no direction in my life. I have set myself targets of things i want to achieve and so far I am on course to hitting these targets. These small projects will give me a greater purpose in life, though they still wont give me a specific direction that I wish my life to go in.

               Before you ask, I still don’t have any idea where I want my life to go. I’m just having fun finding out! In the meantime, I have taken it upon myself to become more helpful to others. Regular readers will know that my job consists of mostly sitting around doing nothing. Recently I have been volunteering my services to the tenants in my office building. I don’t feel as if i’m doing nothing anymore! I’m only doing small jobs like putting together furniture or re-organising a store room. I am not expecting any payment for helping out. All I am looking for is, for even a short time, to feel useful. It gives me a sense of satisfaction to know that something I’m doing is having a positive effect on others.

           I have been baking a bit more! This week I was asked to provide a cancer charity cakes for a fund-raising coffee morning.I can’t tell you how great I felt helping out such a good cause. It also felt good that someone had chosen me to do the baking. It was such a confidence booster. Helping out others is something I would never have done in the past. I would always want something in return. The only thing I want now is experience. I’m in a job that pays the bills but now I’m also in a job where I have made several contacts with people who regard me as a useful asset. That’s better than an extra couple of quid in the long run.

There is nothing, and I mean nothing, worse than filling in an application form for a job. For someone who is at their lowest ebb, the idea of putting down your life’s achievements (or lack thereof) onto paper is akin to pointing a loaded gun at your head and pulling the trigger. I have lost track of the amount of times I have sat looking at an application form, thinking “What’s the point? There is probably someone better for the job.”

I have recently had an opportunity to apply for a job that I knew was way out of my league. The reason I applied was not for the job itself (though that would have been nice!) but rather use this  as an opportunity to re-evaluate my life in a more positive way. Regular readers will know that I don’t put much stock on my life achievements, so this seemed like a mountain of a challenge.

This application was different to others in that it laid out a list of essential criteria that required an example for each point. When I first saw the list, my heart sank. Was I qualified for this job? Did I have the relevant experience? This was looking like another failed application. But I stuck with it and went through each point one by one. With each point, I simply took an episode from my life and fitted it around the relevant criteria the employer was looking for. Before long I had a comprehensive list of desirablequalities about myself that I wouldn’t have believed to be true about me. A sudden realisation had dawned on me. I haven’t been wasting my life!

I didn’t get the job but that wasn’t the point of the application. The application allowed me to see what I havetruly achieved so far in my life. It also showed me where the gaps in my life are that need filled. So if you are about to start an application for a job, get rid of all negative thoughts beforehand and use the form to show off your strengths. It worked for me! And now I feel more positive about my future.

After what seems like an eternity in the darkness, I finally see my life emerging into the light! Nobody’s life is perfect, and neither is mine. However, I now have a sense of control over my life. My destiny is in my hands, so to speak. Before, I always had a feeling that dark forces were at work in  my life,dragging me down the wrong paths and causing a sense of disbelief in my abilities to fester. But no longer! Now that the clouds of depression are clearing away, a world of opportunities is being illuminated in front of me.

               This is highlighted by the fact that I have started driving lessons and have started studying for the theory test. I am determined to be driving by August. I also can’t believe how far I’ve come in writing my book. It is a long way from being finished but it is taking shape! I also got some news this week concerning my son whom I have been trying to get contact with. I won’t say anything yet for fear of jinxing it, but it is looking good! On top of all that the sun is shining and everywhere I look there seems to be an embrace of good feeling from the people of Belfast. 

                 Also this week I have been struck by an immense feeling that something big and good is about to happen to me. I don’t know what it is, I just know…   

What’s missing from my life? At a glance it seems that I’m getting life good. Got a loving and supporting partner that I adore and kids that just mean the world to me. My job just about pays the bills yet gives me the opportunity to work on other projects. I also have a great group of friends. There just seems to be something missing! After a bit of soul searching I’ve discovered what it is. I don’t drive. I can’t drive, just never got around to learning. Looking around at others it is clear that being able to drive gives a person that extra bit of independence. The ability to just get up and go and not be dictated to by public transport timetables sounds amazing. Not only that, but my family have a caravan at the seaside which we could use anytime we wanted. That is, if we had the means to get there. 

                         So in this next chapter of my life I will learn to drive. I’ve got my provisional license and have already started studying for the theory test. We are going to the caravan in August and I want to drive my family there myself. The only person holding me back from achieving this goal is me. I won’t give up on this. I can’t and I won’t! 

                  I am slowly identifying the gaps in my life and one by one I am filling them in. I am also being careful not to bite of more than I can chew. I have taken stock of what I want to achieve and am working to my own timeframe to accomplish my goals. I’m making each day count. Hopefully so are you!

Finally! I’m having one of those weeks. I knew it was coming and this week has certainly delivered.What am i talking about? It feels like since starting my new outlook on life I have been getting it pretty easy. The weeks have passed without major incidents for me to comment on. This week in work, however, has felt like a disaster movie. It started off bad and has got progressively worse. And it is only Wednesday! And I had Monday off!! It started with no running water in the building- that was quickly put right. Then a strong chemical smell had me searching the basement only to find, to my horror, the oil tank was leaking and was now sitting in a pool of diesel. One misplaced spark and I was going to be getting scraped off the walls with my remains put in a pizza box!

 I knew I couldn’t panic. I quickly turned off all nearby electrical equipment and alerted my boss. A plumber was summoned who promptly sealed the leak. A clean-up crew arrived to remove all spilt diesel and any other flammable materials that were lying about. So no harm done! Only problem is that while I wait for the repair, the entire building has become a giant ice-box. It’s freezing!

   After that was sorted (well, nearly sorted) I went upstairs to discover that the ladies toilet had become blocked. Not just the one, oh no, that would be too easy, but all three of them were blocked, leaving the building  with no ladies toilets!!! Just in time for that conference being held in the building tomorrow with over fifty women attending. And I said my job was boring!

   Plans are underway to have this problem sorted. It seems to me that staying positive in the face of such problems is a hard task. It isn’t easy, but I have remained in good spirits and have managed to avert disaster without having a complete breakdown. What this week has shown me is that it is not going to be an easy ride, and that life will have a whole toolbox of spanners to throw in your works. Problems are a part and parcel of life. Nobody said it was going to be easy! All we can do is face our problems head on. Deal with them quickly or they will only grow and grow until they spiral out of control. The old me would have sat back and most likely would have let disaster strike. But I chose otherwise. I chose to act when action was needed and as a result my building is still standing!

Do you have in you what it takes to make a difference in this world? Easy answer to that is, yes you do! I’m not talking about earth shattering changes but little changes here and there.Tell me, what do you see when you look in the mirror. I ask you this because a few months ago when I looked in the mirror I saw a useless man with nothing to offer the world. Useless is what I saw and useless is how I felt. My job does nothing for the greater good of humanity. You most likely have passed by someone in my position and not given them a second thought. I work at the front desk of an office building and “greet” people as they enter. That is my job. To say hello to people. Is it any wonder I feel useless? I believed for a long time that this was my lot in life, with no other purpose. Thankfully I began to change my life. I took a long look at myself and realised that no Fairy Godmother was going to appear and change my life for me. This change would only occur when I took the leap and did something about it myself. And so I did.

                   It started with me looking in that mirror and seeing, for the first time, what my life could be. I should stop whinging and start using my potential. Albert Einstein and I share the same birthday. He wrote his theory of relativity while working as a desk clerk. He didn’t give up on life just because of his meaningless job. And neither shall I! I have always been a writer, I just haven’t had the drive to write anything down. Reading the musings of other writers has shown me that great writers dont get it right on the first go. One piece of advice I was given was, “write,write and keep writing. Even if it’s terrible get it written down. It can always be re-written.”

                  And so my first novel has started life! I’ve always had great ideas for stories but never the desire to tell them. I have, in the past week, begun to put pen to paper on one of my stories. I took on board what was said about rewrites and feel a lot more free when I’m writing. Once the outline is down I will then, and only then, go back over the story to give it any improvements that it may need. Look out best-seller lists. I’m coming for you!

                 Writing this weekly blog has given me extra purpose and added desire to improve myself. I thought that no-one would read this but you have been, and I thank you for putting up with my ramblings. Thank you all also for your kind comments and remarks on twitter and facebook and indeed certain podcasts also! I’ve stopped living in constant fear of failure. We all make mistakes. That’s why pencils have erasers and keyboards have a delete function. We can always try again. That is what makes life so wonderful. That’s what the handsome guy in the mirror tells me anyway!