Life Explored.

A new course, a new year. Life Explored is a continuation of the all-so-popular Alpha sessions which we finished a little before Christmas.

With 7 weekly meetings, LE has already got me hooked on the insight into the Christian world of what, who, how, where and why? The ‘man’ himself, God, has been the focus of tonight’s session and has had us all thinking about what he is telling to us / trying to communicate to us on a daily basis.

For those of you who know me, this is not my usual blogging theme, and you may think I have gone a little crazy, but these courses have really made an impact on my thoughts ever since the first Alpha course started back in October. It really made me look at my life and I was amazed how I take so many things for granted.

Alpha was so powerful over the 8-9 weeks we attended because it gave an insight into so many different people’s lives; everyone’s opinion was stated on a range of different topics and it was inspiring and empowering to hear. References were often read out from the Bible and it was great to hear that everyone could relate to this in one way or another.

Tonight’s first LE for me was more vocal than normal. I gave opinions on different questions that were asked (focusing on and around God) but related them to my life. It made me think of something which I believe is true for every single person in the World, the condition being it’s how much each individual wants it:


“A path has been created for each and every one of us, but we as people have to walk it ourselves to find out what we are destined for in life. We are restricted by our own self-belief, if we fail, or don’t achieve something, we only have ourselves to blame, nobody else.”


This is maybe a more refined version of the old cliché, ‘You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be lead’. The message is still the same, but in my own words and not as cheesy!

I am not a practicing Christian by any means, and nor am I a regular church goer, I just believe what I want to. For those who are reading this and are wondering what or who created us here on Earth, if you are like me think ‘How can God be real?’ – Just ask yourself:


“How did we get here? How can we explain infinite space? What happens when we die?”


These are a couple of the topics we touched on briefly tonight, and they are incredibly fascinating but frustrating for me, I guess there is a lot of us in the same giant boat on this one!

So, all-in-all, a very enjoyable evening and it was nice to see some of the same faces as we saw in the Alpha course. Onto the next one and I’ve already made a start on being a man of my word and not procrastinating as Emily quite rightly pointed out tonight!

One of my hidden passions i am fairly certain has been becoming bilingual so I have signed up to Spanish classes online and have set myself learning goals!

Hasta la vista!

Tonight’s post is dedicated to a very loving, loyal and special family member. ‘Lucky’, or ‘Lookey’, depending on your pronunciation, sadly left us on Monday, after a short and sudden illness. Rest in peace Mr Vamos. You will be missed, greatly.

 

Celebrating Polish Style!

Drinking, dancing, eating, laughing… what a way to spend New Years’ Eve to see us into 2019!

I suppose this is exactly what you think of when someone tells you that they’ve been to a party for NYE, but it’s been probably 20 years since I have been to something like this, involving a mass crowd, and even then it was only 20-30 people.

We were invited by friends Piotr & Dorota to a shindig @ Little Wenlock village hall where we’d be the minority; an approximate ratio of 150:2 was what we stumbled across when we arrived! (Polish:English/Colombian!)

I have never seen so much food, alcohol & people on so few tables! Incredible scenes Jeff! Nevertheless, we danced the night away (me doing a combination of classic Dad dances and my usual swarvalicious moves), ate as much food as possible and drank like fish! Well, some of us did anyway.

For Adriana, the Jack Daniels shots came thick and fast from some chap called Simon, who was incredibly welcoming, chatty and hospitable with his multiple offerings of homemade wraps and other miscellaneous meats (Brian Butterfield anyone!?!). On top of this came Vodka from Piotr, and Prosecco brought from home… how she wasn’t sick… I will never know!

One can only assume the South-American culture can rapidly burn off their over-appetised-alcoholic-intake with their Latin-American shape throwing… who knows. This may be one of lifes mysteries for thousands of years to come! indulgant

I think you get the picture of how good it was, how much we enjoyed ourselves and how it was great to do something different! We’ll have to try hard next year to beat that when we see ourselves into 2020!


She’s Wonderful.

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Coffee and toast in bed this morning brought to me by the one and only ACMG. The toast (mouth is watering already!) was made to perfection! An inconsistent blend of butter & jam spread on so unevenly you would think that Stevie Wonder was prepping in the kitchen! Perfecto mi amor.

Running isn’t the hard part; it’s the ‘keeping going’.

I was out running this morning and I was thinking about writing another post, but was unsure of what to say, then this idea popped into my head.

Yes, of course running is hard, when you are exhausted and are struggling for breath, but I think what is even harder is the mental struggle I personally have to keep going and achieve what I set out to do. I stopped several times this morning because I felt I couldn’t continue with running, I felt I had to revert to walking for a while, to catch my breath, but every time I thought:

“Why am I actually stopping? Do I really need to physically, or is it more mentally challenging me?”

For some reason I just couldn’t keep going. I was tired physically but I would say more mental challenges were getting in my way. I just couldn’t keep going and finish with no stops.


I seem to be in a bit of a vicious circle at the moment. Eating bad food, half-hearted exercise, moaning about how I am not happy with the way I look… I’m sure 99% of the UK population are in the same boat as me here, especially after Christmas!

On a serious note, my weight (appearance really) has been an ongoing concern for many years. I am not really bothered about what weight I am on the scales, but it’s how I feel and look. We all know too well that if we are not happy with what we see in the mirror then we can be affected greatly by this.

I am going to try combining my passion of sales and numbers with losing weight and getting what I want out of life in relation to fitness, looking and feeling good.

Life is all about numbers, they are every single place we look, so I am setting myself a target weight (to start with) of 90Kg. I am approx. 100Kg now, so that’s 10 I want to lose. Again, it’s not really about weight for me, but setting this target should sub-consciously kick my brain into gear and make me shift some unwanted poundage before beach seasonDodgeball, anyone?

Fighting the ‘fat’!

Okay, I’m not exactly fat, or obese, before the someone thinks it, but I want to change my body shape. 16 stone is my current weight, but weight doesn’t bother me, it’s how I look and how I feel; I guess that’s the same for most of us.

The alarm goes off at 0615 and I barely have the energy, ability and determination to rise from my pit!

I eventually get psychologically pushed out of bed, as opposed to physically, and start my journey for the day.

Running just over 1 mile in around 11-12 minutes, I get back home with not only sweat on face, but a smile. Inside and out.

I wouldn’t say this is the start of me eventually one day becoming the fastest runner in the World, but it’s a start and the first step is always the hardest!

Avocados on waffles with a coffee as my reward.

Mr Will Power.

Why is it so hard to remain focused on something you feel so passionately about? Does there always have to be an underlying reason to stick at something? The mind boggles.

Okay, so 24th July 2017 was the day I stopped drinking alcohol, completely cold turkey. The underlying reason was depression, coping with this better and trying to do all I can to eradicate this from my mind, life, everything!

So that’s why I believe deep down I was able to stop something I felt I was so ‘addicted’ to and something I had done socially for the past 16 years. Since the age of 14 (not to make me sound too much like an alcoholic!) I had sipped the odd beer or so and it continued from there, like any normal boy/man does when he grows up, it’s just the norm these days.

521 days on, I really do feel that alcohol has played a huge part in being depressed. Now I’m not drinking, I feel like I have a lot less ‘down’ moments and it’s really help me focus on something big. On a bit of a tangent, the longest stint of any employment I have endured at the ripe of age of 31 has ben 18 months, and I have just completed 17-months alcohol free. This, to me, sounds very strange, because I can’t seem to hold a job down but I can stop drinking something at the flick of a switch!

Does it really take something like depression, which can bring you minutes away from suicide, to make you pull your finger from your ass and stop something which is so harmful to you?!

“Yes, the mind does boggle”


So, what’s it going to take for me to stop eating and drinking shit which isn’t good for me??

Diet starts Monday, diet starts tomorrow, I’ll start the gym next week… blah blah… how many times do people say that on a weekly basis? I wonder how many new year diets will start on 1st Jan? Hmmmmm…

Maybe I will have to have a heart attack, be inadvertently submersed into a diabetic coma and be hit by a 3-tonne double cheeseburger causing a broken arm … all at once, just to realise what I am eating on a regular basis is actually pretty bad for me…

I think stress, anxiety, depression and all those other health-related worries are key. When people are stressed, anxious etc. when some people are stressed, they eat, comfort eat, and this is where the addiction begins. For me, this is spot on, and I am sure there are a lot of others out there who suffer from the same symptoms as I am describing her and thinking

“Yes, this guy does have a point here” *puts down the big mac and fries*


What will tomorrow bring?

Hopefully not a heart attack!

Giving something back; Becoming a Pastor, not a Pasty!

Is it Friday or Saturday night? If you are stuck for things to do, volunteer yourself as a Street Pastor, it’s a fascinating, compassionate, caring and phenomenal thing to do. What a way to spend 6 hours throughout the night.

Monday the 24th, Christmas Eve, marked the 17th month anniversary of my t-total mission. It’s almost been 18 months since I’ve had a full beer, shot, bottle of lager, or anything like that of an alcoholic nature.

I am very proud of myself; and so are friends and family. It has been a very surreal journey, especially as I went ‘Cold Turkey’ and just stopped one fine day back in July 2017, but the days, weeks and months went past and I haven’t looked back since.

Ever since I was helped on the streets of Shrewsbury, by a Street Pastor, back in the days of getting drunk, being paralytic and probably (most definitely!) being a massive pain in the arse, I have wandered what it would be like to see things from the ‘other side’ of the bridge.

A few weeks ago. I was driving back through town late at night, when I saw the Street Pastor van. I decided to park up and speak to them about my passion for helping people and wanting to demonstrate how I felt I could help the local community by offering my compassionate and caring nature to those in desperate need of help.

So, last Friday, I volunteered myself to help the Street Pastor volunteers and parade around the streets of Shrewsbury caring, looking after and being compassionate with the people who would be inevitably be drunk, depressed or in need of some urgent attention. I am stating these ‘issues’ quite clearly because from the age of 18-29 I was a normal ‘lad’ who went into town with my friends, did the usual drink thing and then ended up somewhere I either didn’t know, didn’t want to be or didn’t like.

The night started at 10am where we met in the office, had coffee, tea and a chat for about 45 minutes about how the night was going to pan out. I first thought we would be jumping straight into the action and I would soon be covered in blood, guts and sick, but then reality took over and I realised we were in Shrewsbury, not the computer game Grand Theft Auto.

Being a Street Pastor, to my understanding, is a Christian-based volunteer group which was setup to provide those with a caring, compassionate and dedicated nature to help those who are in need of the utmost delicate and urgent attention, when out in town on a Friday & Saturday night when they are having this so-called ‘fun’; something which I now like to think about as hell. The hangovers are just the start of the beginning of my long list of ‘Why I hate drinking alcohol to the excess’.

We comprised of two teams, one was foot patrol and the other was in ‘The Donkey’, the name of the vehicle which carried all of the gear for the night out; defrib, coffee machine, blankets, flip-flops and lollipops etc.

I started on foot patrol, alongside 3 others, (sorry guys, I can’t remember everybody’s names at the moment!) and we started to edge around town. First port of call was The Alb, where we liaised with the doorman to see how the evening was panning out for him and to see if he any ‘action’; this, being trouble.

We then moved along Smithfield Road and greeted passers by, making our presence known to the locals or visitors to Shrewsbury, basically, anybody and everybody. I noticed that the Pastors have a well-known presence in Shrewsbury, even before I started my shift, going back many months & years, I had heard of there existing and the great work that they do.

We started seeing a lot of people around Albert Shed, so we walked towards that end of town as a 4-person group. All of a sudden, this moderately drunk woman came across and told us what a great job we were doing, she rambled on for a little bit, but it was nice to hear. We were just about to move on when she told us about her abusive partner, how he called her a *@&% on a regular basis, made her feel so so small and was horrible to their kids. This was a shock, as I didn’t think people we this upfront with their feelings and emotions especially to total strangers, but I guess this was for 2 reasons:

This lady needed and wanted somebody to talk to, and the Street Pastors were there. Secondly, she had been drinking, this gives people the confidence to come out of their shells and speak the truth about what they are ‘passionate’ about. In this case, the woman was passionate about leaving her husband in the new year, finding a new lease of life and leaving all of her ”shit’ behind her.

We solemnly wandered further and headed up into the town, where we scanned the main streets and back alleys for people who may be in need; this could range from people who are fighting, those who are intoxicated and unable to walk / stand up straight, those who look down and depressed or those who were simply on their own. We’d quite often say:

Hi mate, how you doing? You having a good night? What’s been happening?

This was simply to start a conversation. Now, if you were to say this to a randomer in a supermarket, they would probably look at you all weird and want you to leave them alone, but drinkers, they become your best friends and you can’t stop them talking once they start!

Oh! I forgot to mention this! The Street Pastors have 2-way radios, and they are linked to the same channel as those who monitor the town’s CCTV, SAR (River Search & Rescue), the Police, doormen/women and other volunteer groups, so if in danger, or in need of any type of assistance, you can radio through with a certain phrase and people will come to your aid – Pretty cool!

There is genuinely too much to write about from this night, but the one main thing I want to write about is a man we come across about 11 o’clock. His name, I will keep anonymous, because disclosing this might reveal his identity, somehow.

What I will say is when we were called to a certain fast-food shop, we were informed of a young chap who had told the doorman that he felt suicidal. I didn’t know this information, until after I had seen him, but as soon as I saw him, I knew that he wasn’t drunk, or sick, I knew he was depressed. Whether it was a sixth-sense, or just the way he looked, or maybe because I have suffered from this before, but somehow knew what was wrong with him.

A couple of the more experienced Pastors attended to this chap, and I was in the background talking to another of my colleagues about this and that. We didn’t like to overcrowd him, because when you feel that way, talking is the last thing you want to do, especially when there are many unknown faces around you!

We ended up taking this chap to the Sanctuary, in Abbey Foregate, which is a 24-hour mental health type support centre. We ensured he was taken care of in here and then left and headed back into town. That was our job done. We intercepted this man at a key time in the night, any later and something much more serious could have happened to him. Although we found him in a really down and what looked like to be a depressed state, he could have acted on his thoughts a lot earlier. It felt very good to look after this man and take him to a place of safety. We prayed for him in ‘The Donkey’ and wished him a speedy and healthy recovery.

The best thing about then night, by a long way, was the very last person we looked after. He was severely intoxicated, paralytic and hadn’t a clue what was going on around him; he only had alcohol to blame. He has been carried from near the Shrewsbury Hotel by two very kind gentlemen all the way to Efes Kebab house. He had then been slouching on the bus shelter seat for some time, and had attracted quite a crowd.

We tried for a while to get his name, get something which meant we could identify him and just tried so hard to get him to speak, but it was no good, he was gone, just in a world of alcohol. The lads which has brought him all the way from the pub decided to search his pockets… keys, tobacco, rolling papers, loose change… everything but an ID.

I don’t know how, I really have no idea why, but someone all of a sudden shouted out the name ‘Sam Edwards’; as this is my full name, I was quick to respond with a “Yes?” – But nobody replied back to me, it turned out that this paralytic guy had the same name as me! Not only this, but his sister was also called Kirsty, again, the same as mine, and last of all, we found out from his sister (through contacting her on Social Media) that his Dad was actually on his way to pick Sam up from his drunken state.

“Woah woah woah! What the hell is going on here? How can this be happening to me? I don’t know if we are born and supposed to be in certain places at certain times, and I don’t know if the person who created us has a unique plan for all, but this was too much to be a coincidence!”

This was all too familiar! My dad used to do this for me when I was in my early 20’s, just like Sam was. All sorts of things were racing through my mind and if I am honest, I was just in complete shock as to how many things I shared with this person, especially the name. This doesn’t happen a lot, if at all, in Shrewsbury. To have the same name as somebody, is fairly uncommon, but to be looking after them, when they are doing what you used to do, and have the same sisters’ name as you and have their Dad pick them up, just like mine used to do for me is just unreal!

Where is my life going?! (Positive heading)

A little exaggeration but it seems only a few days ago when I wrote my last blog but now I have just checked it is more than 4 weeks! So much has happened since then!

I think the first thing to talk about is I have been back to see my counsellor, Andrea. We established a great connection this time last year and I stayed with her for 3 months, but I then felt ‘better’ so I left and tried to carry on with life. I guess, looking back, this was not a good idea, as I didn’t feel better deep down as I can now say the root of the problem was not identified. I would not have known this back then, but retrospectively looking back I feel I can say with confidence that I made the wrong decision.

So, from the recent stint with Andrea, we have established the reason why I have felt ‘depressed, down, anxious, sad’ etc for all these years. Since I can remember, it has been since 2006, when I first started my retail career in Currys, but I think subconsciously it has been since a lot further back than this date.

For all of my life since leaving university in 2005, I have worked in a number of jobs with various managers, members of staff and other people who I have interacted with, predominantly the public. The ‘conflict’ I have experiences over the years has come from all different aspects of the job, and some of this unwanted conflict has come at a price; it has either cost me my job because I have been ‘let go’ or I have felt I have had to leave the company because I thought I just couldn’t cope with my line manager at the time and the way they were speaking to me.

Andrea and I have been talking and the main reason for me being like this, in fact, let me be honest, the only reason, is because of one particular person who showed violence towards someone close to me when I was younger, starting from the age of 10!

“Sam, this was 21 years ago, you need to forget about it, it’s in the past, just move on, drop it, man up!”

I’ve had a few people mention this to me and it really isn’t helpful. What they fail to understand is that this sort of abuse, being psychological, is like a volcano, in its power, its force and its destruction – It can and does remain dormant for years, and then later on in life, it will erupt and cause nothing but problems, destroying everything and anything it comes into contact with. The only positive to my volcano, is that I am strong enough to battle against the relentless psychological lava which often refuses to stop flowing; but the barriers of my mind are strong, battling hard every day and willing fight this every step of the way.

That’s the only metaphor I can think of from the top of my head at the moment but I think it’s a pretty good one!

Some people say that I write about depression a lot, and that I am always sounding negative. I guess this is true to some extent, but like someone always tells me at work, it’s how it is perceived. Luckily I won’t get in trouble for writing my own personal blog (I hope!), but I feel I have to go through the shit in life to come out good the other side. I have written about my ‘Dark Days’ ever since July 24 last year, and I do not want to stop until I feel better, I learn to manage the effects this person has had on my life, all those years back, and I want to become stronger, more powerful, show the people who care that I will never give up, but most of all, I want to be me again.