I’m putting together a little portfolio of some of my creations. I am having a spring clean of the overall blog too. Out with the old and in with the new. I have come to terms with the fact that I will have less time to blog on my 3 year doctorate course. However more than ever I feel it is important to keep connected to my creative and reflective side.
Vanilla is not ordinary.
Scents of fleeting memories,
Lingering sweet taste of something familiar.
A fair flower wilting into black,
With powerful extract.
From Orchid to vial,
There is beauty in delicacy and more in complexity,
As in breakfast blueberry pancakes,
Brief encounters to fuel the day ahead,
And form pumpkin spiced friendships,
To complement compassionate notes,
Like juniper, mint and lime,
The fabulous flavours of black vanilla,
Highly valued for their qualities,
Needed to spice life for a longtime after,
Long-after we ask why.
At the heart of any writers life is number one, a place in which to get a good cup of coffee; and number two, a second.
I was delighted to help to do the cupping for a new café where I live, (just a Stones throw away!) the Royal Arsenal. The cupping day was exactly the right mix of people in the area. We tasted 13 different espresso meticulously. In the end Union Coffee came out miles above the rest as a versatile espresso which was rich in this chocolate-covered-plumb aroma, heavy body, fairly acidic and very sweet with an amazing cherry after-taste. It was a double-blind cupping event, so even the Barista didn’t know which beans he was grinding. Although there were amazingly interesting coffees such as light and floral ones, we decided that this blend was an any-time-of-day kind of espresso which was good with milk and sugar if needed.
It’s great to see a community come together in helping such an important Cornerstone of modern life to flourish. In the Royal Arsenal there is such an un-London neighbourhood feel that I think having a place to catch up, wind down, get out, and to re-connect is so welcome.The building has a perfect corner location… ideal for pre-work hits, and post-work fixes. The staff pull a good espresso consistently and are authentically personable. There is also nice music, free Wifi and air conditioning.
I find it difficult to critique such a beautiful professional venue, having worked in some of the quirkiest Art-Cafes such as Nexus in Manchester whos underground culture of artists, musicians made something unique and magical. I guess this develops over time. Also as a writer and coffee lover, I see cafes meeting these two needs first and foremost! So I am biased. In the future I would perhaps like to see some local artwork of some kind because it has bountiful light from the open ceiling for it. Also I like my coffee the Italian way – with a small shot of water, so some orange or minty water in jugs (which seem to be all the rage) placed near the amazing array of jams and cheese-and-buscuit style produce, might get people closer to the shelves. Also Piccolo latte cups*… and maybe one day even actual Cortados. (*different sized espresso-to-milk ratio drinks, with their own sized cups. “Piccolo” is Italian for small and is a Ristretto, or short espresso, topped with milk and “cortado” is from the Spanish cortar, to cut and is an espresso with a cut of milk – they’re about 1:1 ratio and the milk is added after the ristretto/espresso. It’s practically how the french do machiaato, or une noisette or if it is 1:3 Portugal, is the Galão) Also I would love if there was a way to be able to get a single glass of wine without food. These would be my suggestions.
Little details which will naturally fail or fly as the business develops may eventually kill two birds with one Cornerstone. I am not a business man so there might financial trepidations in using a suggestion box, but with my Psychologists hat on, I think because the community are such a Crucible of modern professionals they could be realistic and useful. With the use of social media the cafe is already utilising customer feedback suggestions and ideas which is fantastic. It kind of reminds me of knocking to see if next door can lend any sugar. The customers here are this very special kind of customer – Neighbours.
For me, this is what makes Cornerstones different.
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Posted in City Living, Coffee, espresso, London, The Cornerstone Cafe, Writing
Tagged City Living, Coffee, Cornerstone Cafe, Creative Writing, Espresso, London
I was once told that, after hard periods of work, there is a type of energy which returns to our bodies like sap returning to a tree after a long winter. I often wonder why University held some of the best times of my life, and I wonder if it was all the points of draining work, draining my sap, to make a vacuum of space. After which I would either party with friends, work out, or make Art-collages, do creative writing or learn French. Accomplishment in my opinion is a feeling which we should talk more about, because it is often that our own standards are higher than what we need them to be. Further, they are different to the standards set by us on a daily basis. The only standards that really matter are our own. So much of happiness discourse is focused on Gratitude, and in a way Accomplishment is Gratitude to ourselves and what we give to others.
I don’t seem to always have this ‘Heart’ energy readily available as a Mid twenty something Northern [England] Alien in London. For me to have Creative energy I almost need to express another form of energy: Intellectual energy. I found that before this even, I need to express Physical energy. At the moment this is how they fall into each other. I can go to the gym, then go to work, and then I will feel like sketching or listening to music. I’m sure if they were weighted differently that might change, for instance if I had a Photography job I might feel like reading philosophy after I have reached a point perhaps. Even when I paint and draw I find that there needs to be a part of me at rest, a logical brain perhaps.
For me personally these Head, Heart and Hands energies are really distinct and I take the time to let them divide. They are Saltwater, to Fresh water, to Glacier water. Looking for ways to balance them and let them energise each other without privileging either. However when they are compartmentalised it is also helpful then to think about how they can flow into each others riverbeds.
For instance at work I try to tie in my creative side, whilst also being mindful of my Body and if I need to go for a walk or nourish myself. In the art studio I try to tie in societies context or important values as if the “Purpose of Art is to give life a shape” as Shakespeare said. I would also like to feel my physical state informs my work too and I guess much like Yoga is for Meditation, it is important that health and muscles are poised to free the images onto the paper or canvas. Even when thinking about my physical energy I often look for ways to seek beauty or lessons along the way, which is to me, a case of balancing nature and technology in clever and creative ways such as going for a Mindful walk, or using an electronic reward star-chart to reach goals.
The place in my life I find myself, is like an exciting new home which needs individual touches, drawing from these three resources like a tidy tool kit.
What about you?
Posted in Art, City Living, Tree House Studio, Work Life Balance, Work Work Balance, Writing
Tagged Art, cat, emotional energy, energy, hands, Head, Heart, iamamiwhoami, intellectual energy, life, London, physical emergy, Sketch, spiritual energy, Work Life Balance
Right, so I have an interview coming up and something has got to give. I’m not normally a nervous person, or at least I don’t think I am. I tend to get a tiny bit nervous at the beginning of making a presentation. However this soon goes. I am quite comfortable speaking in public too, my first job was at a Safari Park giving Sea Lion and Parrot shows to thousands of people. But there’s something about this interview that makes me have extreme butterflies.
I think the reason is that this one Interview comes up only once a year, and after some big application form hurdles already. These are not pleasant. They often mean hunting the post man and lots of people anxiously holding their breath for you. Also, if I name a Pink Elephant, there is something about being assessed by Psychologists. People who are trained to look at human behaviour, turns of phrases, non verbal communication, physical presentation and everything in-between. Further, because I feel so ready for this, I also feel a sense of deep desperation, like I have to go above and beyond myself. Which I don’t – I just have to be casual and talk with honesty.
So this year, although I feel beyond ready for the course, I will be reminding myself for the interviews sake, that it is not the destination but the journey. I can say this without meaning it, but I need to really give it thought. If I don’t get it I am young and there is always next year. I live in a bustling exciting city. I could do so much in a year. I could do the things I’ve been imagining would be a squeeze if I was on the course, with ease. I’m already learning so much at the position I am in now, so although it would be a shame, it wouldn’t matter if it was for a year longer.
Off the back of this, I have really learnt that it’s what you are doing in the moment that really counts. If I don’t get on, I will truly be doing very similar things: going to CPD presentations and seeing cases in particular. In a way I have already started the journey a long time ago. The rest is a Chekovs Gun.
There are, however some Mindful things I guess I could do to help my Butterflies.
Weeks Before the Interview
- Have a Mock Interview:learn what made me nervous
- Name it, however irrational, yet rationally tackle it. For me this is learning one or two things they probably wont ask me anyway just to remove that ounce of uncertainty. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail.
- Meditate on the lead up to the interview: In the morning and the evening.
- Create Mindful Cues to remember to be Mindful.
- Use some of my own passions in my revision prep: Let my personality shine through
- Less is more: Don’t cram, rather break down some key bits.
- Remember key areas of what not to say if I am tempted to waffle (Which I can do!)
- Practice saying things outloud: stretch your muscle memory
Just Before the Interview
- Remind yourself that Imperfection is fine!
- Staying with the Butterflies. I once heard a great phrase: Don’t push your Butterflies away, get them flying in formation.
- Drink lots of water
- Bring thoughts to the present: take an object to study like a pebble
- Contemplate the bigger picture: Nature and the Planet and Space! This always makes Human happenings seem the right manageable size.
- Staying in the moment in the interview
During the Interview
- If you start the most nervous: take a big moment to pause and relax.
- Say “I just would like to first of all say feel free to chip in throughout any of my answers”
- Relaxing my muscles – my stomach and shoulders in particular
- Sit in a comfortable position for me (Screw all this matching body language rubbish!)
- Be me – be honest
- Pause, pause and pause again. Silence is fine!
- Smile, Nod and use fillers like Hmm and Ok, to punctuate my silence if it helps keep rapport
- Notice my breathing
- Take sips of water
- Notice my lower body weight
- ‘Show my working out’ – speak through my ideas and structure outloud. Take time.