Tuesday, 4 October 2016

My 2015 10Q answers

I've been doing this exercise in personal reflection every autumn since 2010 (see also my 201120122013 and 2014 answers). I really seem to have embraced the upside of quitting over the past few years. It's often at this time of year that I realize I need to quit something. It's pleasing to see how much I've changed, even if it doesn't feel like it at the time because the process of change is so incremental. But this process of self-reflection definitely helps by echoing the conversations I'm having with myself and others about how I live my life and how I want to live it, which aren't always in alignment.

Here's what I was thinking this time last year. If you want to find out what I'm thinking now, come back next year (or ask me!).

Day 1:

Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?

My answer:

I have finally got a girlfriend! My frustrations with women turning me down have been a common theme in previous years' answers. Last year, I sensed something was changing. This year has been the breakthrough.

It has had a big impact on my life. I now have someone to share things with. I'm immensely grateful. I feel so lucky.

Yes, I'm relieved. I knew, someday, it would happen. But I had to wait a long time. My only other girlfriend was 15 years ago when I was 17.

I can be myself with Fran. I love being in our own private world together with our own lexicon and in-jokes. I hope we are also fun for other people to be around, but I think that's something that will come with time as we get more comfortable with each other's friends and family.

Being with Fran is everything I've hoped for. I've been preparing for this mentally and emotionally since I was about 11, when I developed my first real crush on a girl.

I'm so happy and content. I feel complete, at last.

Day 2:

Is there something that you wish you had done differently this past year? Alternatively, is there something you're especially proud of from this past year?

My answer:

I'm proud of making some big life decisions. I quit refereeing touch and rugby union. I realized they weren't making me happy. On the contrary, they were stressing me out, making me grumpy. I didn't feel fully appreciated and wasn't enjoying it as much as I used to.

I realized that just because I've been doing something for a long time, it doesn't mean I have to keep doing it for the rest of my life. It's OK to quit. Abandoning my DPhil back in 2010 was a positive move. I now have the courage to make those kinds of decisions.

They're not snap decisions. I discuss them with trusted friends and family. I find myself complaining about the same problems and eventually I realize that I can avoid the problems by quitting whatever it is that is causing them.

I'm going through a similar phase with Sol Samba at the moment. I'm taking a break and I'm not sure I want to go back for the start of the new season. I may stand down from the committee.

I don't think I've got any major regrets. I guess there's a guy at work who I hired that isn't working out particularly well at the moment. He was the best candidate, but maybe I shouldn't have accepted a sub-standard candidate; maybe I should have waited until the right person applied for the job.

Day 3:

Think about a major milestone that happened with your family this past year. How has this affected you?

My answer:

My sister had her 4th baby. It hasn't affected me at all. I wasn't able to attend the christening because I was on holiday in France. I feel a bit weird about it, to be honest. I'm not interested and it makes me feel a bit guilty. I haven't even met the father. I feel estranged.

Day 4:

Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

My answer:

Jeremy Corbyn winning the Labour party leadership election. I went to see him at a hustings in Oxford and was impressed by his integrity and moral reasoning behind opposing nuclear weapons, poverty and inequality. I'm a Lib Dem party member, but I'm thinking about switching - even though there are many things about the Labour party (from the Blair years) that I don't like. I believe more in the man than the party. I really hope he changes how politics is conducted in the UK and manages to engage the younger generation of voters. He's very inspiring. His leadership victory address made me cry. I hope he has the same impact on the quality of political debate in the UK that the SNP has had in Scotland with its progressive policies.

Day 5:

Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you? "Spiritual" can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth.

My answer:

There have been a few times when I've been wild swimming that I'm awed by the beauty of nature, the soft feel of the water. I was also humbled when cycling up Mont Vonteux during my recent holiday in France. The sight of the famous climb to the summit made my eyes water during our recce drive up to the top and I felt broken by the time I reached the top. It was very emotional.

Day 6:

Describe one thing you'd like to achieve by this time next year. Why is this important to you?

My answer:

I'd like to pay my parents back the £3,000 I borrowed to buy my car in 2012. I've been saving up the whole time but have had to dip into my savings for various reasons. This year I moved house and now live alone, which put a bit of a dent in my savings because of the large deposit.

It's important to me because I don't like being in debt and I'd like to stick to our agreement to pay it back in 3 years. I can then start saving for something else!

Day 7:

How would you like to improve yourself and your life next year? Is there a piece of advice or counsel you received in the past year that could guide you?

My answer:

I'd like to get into the habit of turning up 10 minutes early to things. I used to be more punctual than I am. I can use that extra time to talk to people, watch the world go by, be mindful or read. I don't like lateness in others. I find it rude. So I shouldn't do it myself. I need to take note of how long it takes me to get ready.

Day 8:

Is there something (a person, a cause, an idea) that you want to investigate more fully in 2016?

My answer:

I'd like to continue to spend a big chunk of my time with my girlfriend, Fran. We've spent a lot of time together recently. We sometimes see each other 5 or 6 days a week. I've met many of her friends and family. She hasn't met as many of my friends - but I don't have that many close friends.

In the past week, I've really started to get back into chess via the Chess.com app on my iPhone. I used to play when I was at primary school but haven't played regularly for 20 years. I'm really enjoying exercising that part of my brain.

I'd like to continue to declutter my life. I started doing it at the beginning of the year in preparation for moving house. Partly because I've spent so much time with Fran, I haven't had the time to process some of my possessions such as my DVDs, CDs and other junk that could be recycled. There's always something more interesting to do. But I really felt lighter when I got rid of some of my old clothes and academic notes. There's also a whole bunch of admin to sort through and recycle.

Day 9:

What is a fear that you have and how has it limited you? How do you plan on letting it go or overcoming it in the coming year?

My answer:

I don't think I have many fears. I used to be staunchly against dancing. Now I find myself dancing in front of Fran to amuse her. I'm not sure I'm ready to do it in public yet.

I'm sometimes afraid of being found out at work for slacking. If I was managing myself, I'd want to see more productivity. But my clients and my line manager seem to be happy with what I do. I could overcome this by developing better habits and getting rid of the bad habits. And also by being less tired, getting more sleep.

Day 10:

When September 2016 rolls around and you receive your answers to your 10Q questions, how do you think you'll feel? What do you think/hope might be different about your life and where you're at as a result of thinking about and answering these questions?

My answer:

I hope I'll continue to be in a good spot this time next year: still seeing Fran, still very much in love and enjoying each other's company; still stimulated at work, but perhaps more motivated than I am right now. I feel a bit overworked and overwhelmed sometimes with too many competing demands on my time.

I think I'll feel quite proud of the progress I've made over the past year or so.

There's probably nothing revelatory in my responses this year: nothing controversial, nothing to be embarrassed about.

I guess the one big thing that might be different is that Fran and I could be living together.

Day 11:

What are your predictions for 2016?

My answer:

Still with Fran. Life keeps improving.

***

Record your own answers this year at www.doyou10q.com.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Netflix category codes

Browsing Netflix can be a pain. Use these hidden category codes to jump to the genres you are interested in.

Action & Adventure
Action Comedies
Action Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Action Thrillers
Adult Animation
Adventures
African Movies
Alien Sci-Fi
Animal Tales
Anime
Anime Action
Anime Comedies
Anime Dramas
Anime Fantasy
Anime Features
Anime Horror
Anime Sci-Fi
Anime Series
Art House Movies
Asian Action Movies
Australian Movies
B-Horror Movies
Baseball Movies
Basketball Movies
Belgian Movies
Biographical Documentaries
Biographical Dramas
Boxing Movies
British Movies
British TV Shows
Campy Movies
Children & Family Movies
Chinese Movies
Classic Action & Adventure
Classic Comedies
Classic Dramas
Classic Foreign Movies
Classic Movies
Classic Musicals
Classic Romantic Movies
Classic Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Classic Thrillers
Classic TV Shows
Classic War Movies
Classic Westerns
Comedies
Comic Book and Superhero Movies
Country & Western/Folk
Courtroom Dramas
Creature Features
Crime Action & Adventure
Crime Documentaries
Crime Dramas
Crime Thrillers
Crime TV Shows
Cult Comedies
Cult Horror Movies
Cult Movies
Cult Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Cult TV Shows
Dark Comedies
Deep Sea Horror Movies
Disney
Disney Musicals
Documentaries
Dramas
Dramas based on Books
Dramas based on real life
Dutch Movies
Eastern European Movies
Education for Kids
Epics
Experimental Movies
Faith & Spirituality
Faith & Spirituality Movies
Family Features
Fantasy Movies
Film Noir
Food & Travel TV
Football Movies
Foreign Action & Adventure
Foreign Comedies
Foreign Documentaries
Foreign Dramas
Foreign Gay & Lesbian Movies
Foreign Horror Movies
Foreign Movies
Foreign Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Foreign Thrillers
French Movies
Gangster Movies
Gay & Lesbian Dramas
German Movies
Greek Movies
Historical Documentaries
Horror Comedy
Horror Movies
Independent Action & Adventure
Independent Comedies
Independent Dramas
Independent Movies
Independent Thrillers
Indian Movies
Irish Movies
Italian Movies
Japanese Movies
Jazz & Easy Listening
Kids Faith & Spirituality
Kids Music
Kids̢۪ TV
Korean Movies
Korean TV Shows
Late Night Comedies
Latin American Movies
Latin Music
Martial Arts Movies
Martial Arts, Boxing & Wrestling
Middle Eastern Movies
Military Action & Adventure
Military Documentaries
Military Dramas
Military TV Shows
Miniseries
Mockumentaries
Monster Movies
Movies based on children̢۪s books
Movies for ages 0 to 2
Movies for ages 2 to 4
Movies for ages 5 to 7
Movies for ages 8 to 10
Movies for ages 11 to 12
Music & Concert Documentaries
Music
Musicals
Mysteries
New Zealand Movies
Period Pieces
Political Comedies
Political Documentaries
Political Dramas
Political Thrillers
Psychological Thrillers
Quirky Romance
Reality TV
Religious Documentaries
Rock & Pop Concerts
Romantic Comedies
Romantic Dramas
Romantic Favorites
Romantic Foreign Movies
Romantic Independent Movies
Romantic Movies
Russian
Satanic Stories
Satires
Scandinavian Movies
Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Sci-Fi Adventure
Sci-Fi Dramas
Sci-Fi Horror Movies
Sci-Fi Thrillers
Science & Nature Documentaries
Science & Nature TV
Screwball Comedies
Showbiz Dramas
Showbiz Musicals
Silent Movies
Slapstick Comedies
Slasher and Serial Killer Movies
Soccer Movies
Social & Cultural Documentaries
Social Issue Dramas
Southeast Asian Movies
Spanish Movies
Spiritual Documentaries
Sports & Fitness
Sports Comedies
Sports Documentaries
Sports Dramas
Sports Movies
Spy Action & Adventure
Spy Thrillers
Stage Musicals
Stand-up Comedy
Steamy Romantic Movies
Steamy Thrillers
Supernatural Horror Movies
Supernatural Thrillers
Tearjerkers
Teen Comedies
Teen Dramas
Teen Screams
Teen TV Shows
Thrillers
Travel & Adventure Documentaries
TV Action & Adventure
TV Cartoons
TV Comedies
TV Documentaries
TV Dramas
TV Horror
TV Mysteries
TV Sci-Fi & Fantasy
TV Shows
Urban & Dance Concerts
Vampire Horror Movies
Werewolf Horror Movies
Westerns
World Music Concerts
Zombie Horror Movies

I got them from this Mashable article. I thought it would be more useful to provide them as a list of clickable links. Please let me know if any of the category names are wrong. I haven't checked them all.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

My 2014 10Q answers

I've been doing this exercise in personal reflection every September since 2010 (see also my 2011, 2012 and 2013 answers). I was starting to sound like a broken record, complaining about the same problems year after year, but over the past 12 months I've made a number of breakthroughs and this time last year you can see I was starting to sense that things were changing for the better.

Day 1:

Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?

My answer:

I've fallen in love twice this year. Both times I told the girl how I felt about her and both times my feelings were unrequited. I'm getting used to this, sadly.

The first time, I kinda knew the response I'd get. She doesn't really do boys. But I thought I had to tell her all the same. I figured it would help us both out: it would stop me living in doubt and it might be nice for her confidence to know how lovely she is.

I'm grateful that I had the courage to do it instead of stewing on it in painful doubt for months. I'm relieved to have an answer. I'm saddened that it was a "no", but at least I know.

I dealt with it by talking about it with two close friends. One of them challenged me to ask another person out. So I did.

I asked out this other girl that I'd met through work at the beginning of the year. I liked her immediately, but I figured she was so lovely she was bound to have a boyfriend, so I didn't do anything about it at the time.

The challenge from my friend helped me. It gave me a reason just to take the plunge. I asked her out and she said yes. We had 5 lovely dates together and after the fifth, I told her how I felt about her. She wanted some time to think about it, but the signs weren't good.

Indeed they weren't. She was quite upset when she told me that she wasn't in the right place at the moment and couldn't give me what I want. This was harder for me to accept because I'd got my hopes up, but I do accept it - even if I don't agree with it.

To be honest, I still have (very) faint hopes it's not over, but I know that's not fair on her. We've agreed not to talk to each other, but we still have occasional contact on social media and email.

I was saddened by this and it made me grumpy for a few days after we'd agreed not to talk to each other. I'm mourning the loss of the future I'd imagined together. Again, I worry that I take things too far and fantasize about a future in my head instead of living in the real world.

I'm trying to smile because it happened rather than cry because it's over. It certainly was a lovely way to spend the spring and early summer and I'm grateful for the wonderful time we had together.

Day 2:

Is there something that you wish you had done differently this past year? Alternatively, is there something you're especially proud of from this past year?

My answer:

I tend not to have regrets, but I do wish I'd acted on my urge to kiss a girl. Once when I gave her a hug to keep warm after we'd been swimming in the sea. And once when we were lying side by side in a forest glade of bluebells. I had the thought in both situations, but it didn't feel right at the time. I respect her a lot and sensed it might not have been welcomed.

I'm proud of the fact that I have more courage when it comes to telling a girl how I feel about her. I've done it sooner this year when I have less to lose. The rejection doesn't hurt as much and it allows you to move on to the next person. I feel like I've been collecting rejections this year. They still hurt, but I'm getting used to dealing with them.

Day 3:

Think about a major milestone that happened with your family this past year. How has this affected you?

My answer:

I'm not sure if all of this happened within the past year, but my sister broke up with the father of her three children and got together within another man who is now the father-to-be of her fourth.

I'm not sure if I've seen her at all this year. I feel a bit estranged. It's partly my fault, of course. I make occasional attempts to Skype but don't follow through with it if she's not available. I also haven't been to visit her in Ireland since (I think) 2010 or maybe 2011.

My niece, her eldest, is now at the age (9 years old) I was when I was a proper human being and able to interact with adults on what was starting to feel like a more level playing field (my uncles, my rugby coach).

I haven't made that effort to know what's going on in their lives and to be a part of it.

It's a pretty big deal: your sister having her fourth child. Why don't I care more?

I think I'm a bit jealous of the intimacy my sister and I used to share. She has changed quite a lot and I'm sure I have as well. I guess I want to talk to her about our lives, not about the kids all the time; but the kids are a huge part of her life (but not all of it, of course).

Day 4:

Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

My answer:

I always find this question difficult to answer. I'm not that much affected by world events. Well, that's not totally true. I actually listen to the news less now than I used to. And I don't watch TV news or read the newspaper. The news has a negative impact on my mood, so I prefer to listen to podcasts while I'm driving alone. To and from work I sometimes listen to Radio 4, but we sometimes talk over it. I'd rather stretch my mind with new facts and thoughts than pollute it with more of the same depressing stories of war, rape, abuse and political corruption.

Day 5:

Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you? "Spiritual" can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth.

My answer:

When I was in Rio de Janeiro in February, I had an afternoon out with the girls. They wanted to go shopping for carnival accessories. We then went for posh afternoon tea. I then persuaded them to visit the local cathedral. It looks like an upturned bucket from outside. Inside, I found myself looking up. It's like a giant wonderbox, tapering up to a crucifix in the apex of the roof. The atmosphere was so peaceful in there. A sanctuary of cool quiet. It definitely had an effect on me. I let it.

Someone once said you should visit other people's places of worship, even if you're not religious yourself. I like this idea. I can still share their sense of wonder, even if I don't share their belief.

I've also started communing more with nature. I have been awed by seeing the sunrise three times. I found my happy place in a glade of bluebells. I saw the girl I was with get flowerdrunk. Maybe I'm being a bit loose with the meaning of "spiritual" here. But then maybe I'm not. My spirit was moved by each of these things. I was inspired. My heart expanded. I wondered at the world and the people in it and the things they do to express themselves.

Day 6:

Describe one thing you'd like to achieve by this time next year. Why is this important to you?

My answer:

I'd like to be able to pay my parents back the £3,000 (+3% interest) I borrowed from them to buy my car in June 2013. I'm nearly there.

It's important to me because it will free me up to save for something else and I'll take a certain sense of pride in paying off the loan a year earlier than planned.

Day 7:

How would you like to improve yourself and your life next year? Is there a piece of advice or counsel you received in the past year that could guide you?

My answer:

I think the usual thing of getting more sleep, snoozing less in the mornings. I got 9 hours' sleep last night and snoozed for another hour this morning and still felt tired during the day. Same stuff every year, right?

I think my eating has improved slightly. I've had slightly smaller portions. I've lost a bit of weight and I've kept up the regular exercise even though the microgym has closed at work.

Day 8:

Is there something (a person, a cause, an idea) that you want to investigate more fully in 2015?

My answer:

I would love to get to know Bethany Crowe better - if she'll let me. I met her this year but then we stopped seeing each other for a while after I told her how I feel about her. But we've recently got in touch again and she wants to share her ideas with me about #CitiesForPeople, digital placemaking and the playable city. I read her notes about it last week and it made me so excited: it set my brain on fire - not just the prospect of spending time with her again but also exploring her ideas about this stuff with her and being a sounding board. I love spending time with people who are really enthusiastic about something. It rubs off on me.

Day 9:

What is a fear that you have and how has it limited you? How do you plan on letting it go or overcoming it in the coming year?

My answer:

I'm sometimes afraid of talking to people. My big brother, Gregory, for example. I find it hard to respond when he gives the impression of wanting to be left alone with his monosyllabic answers. He seems really shy these days.

I'm also afraid of my housemates, sometimes - particularly after they seemed cross with me when the cats brought fleas into the house. I tried to be open and honest with them and tried to repair the damage and do the bulk of the cleaning. There were a few awkward moments where we were both in the kitchen doing our own thing and not talking to each other.

To overcome that, I should probably just make the first move and say something and then keep the conversation up - even if it's difficult. Confront it.

Day 10:

When September 2015 rolls around and you receive your answers to your 10Q questions, how do you think you'll feel? What do you think/hope might be different about your life and where you're at as a result of thinking about and answering these questions?

My answer:

I might be proud of the fact that I seem to have realized how to do life well. I feel really happy at the moment. I've learned to be comfortable in my own skin most of the time.

On the other hand, this time next year I may be in a really dark mood and feel a million miles from the state of bliss I feel today.

I sense there might be a lot of life circumstances changing over the next year. I'm open to change.

I very much hope I'm in a loving relationship. If it is with Bethany I'd be dreaming. I'm stupidly optimistic right now. I might be due for a big fall. But at least I'm mindful of that now.

I usually moan that nothing has changed. This year, I feel like something is different for the better.

Day 11:

What are your predictions for 2015?

My answer:

She will love me back, finally.

***

Record your own answers this year at www.doyou10q.com.