I Wonder …? Are you Setting your Resolutions?

This week is close to, or exactly what you might expect in terms of questions and discussion. As the New Year dawns, I want to know:

If you are making any resolutions this year?

What are they?

How do you feel about ‘A New Year, a New Me’?

Leave a comment and let me know, get the discussion going!

Advertisements

A New Year, A New Me? Well the Same Me, or at least Not the Old Me.

Here we are, standing at the precipice, timidly looking over the edge into the great abyss, the bleak never ending unknown. Filled with hope, desire, excitement or perhaps trepidation, taking the plunge is not a choice left to us. As we nervously look towards our futures, the restless pendulum of time, forever swinging, edges us ever closer. Whether we like it or not the new year is arriving, and it’s here to stay.

It seems almost obligatory these days, to end the year on a note of reflection. However I seem to have committed a slight faux pas, in that a wrote about my reflections a little prematurely. Although you can still check them out here. This year will be slightly different, in that I won’t be setting any resolutions for myself. In the background I can hear a great sigh of relief coming from some of you. I always seem to find around the new year the developed world (I say this because I believe some parts of the world have slightly larger problems) splits into two camps, those ferociously posting comments and memes around the notion of a new year, a new me is all a load of rubbish. The other camp taking time to set a list of goals they optimistically hope to achieve in the coming year. Then, for a period of time, these two tribes do indeed go to war.

Putting that all aside, I’m not stating that I do not wish to optimistic, in fact it couldn’t be further from the case. At the same time, I don’t wish to promise myself I’ll eat better or healthier food, or that I’ll spend everyday in the gym sculpting iron clad abs. Instead I wish to leave the year a little more open, to take the hand of fate or destiny, so to speak, and see where it chooses to take me. I cannot predict the future, nor am I willing just to idly sit by and watch the world unfold before me. But I have yet to conjure a resolution in my mind that honestly feels worthwhile. Sure the goals that people do produce will effect their life in some way, more than likely it’ll be in  a positive way. But these goals or resolutions certainly don’t feel special or in any way monumental. They can be decided upon at any time of the year, and that’s what takes the real magic out of them. So until I can think of something worthy of the occasion, I feel it’s best that I graciously bow out of proceedings.

Having said that, this air of self-improvement is almost inescapable. Of course we are expecting gyms to be packed, diets to be launched and all manner of things to be undertaken against a backdrop of eye rolling from those who believe it won’t last. In my opinion, no matter how brief, any measure or attempt to indulge yourself in self-improvement is time well spent. I salute you all. I understand, sometimes life does get in the way, and resolutions become less important or just crumble away. It’s not a reason to abandon them all together. I haven’t abandoned them, I just haven’t found the right one(s). If you do wish to start the year as you mean to go on, then surely a sprinkling of optimism and energy are the right way to go about it. So I implore you to make you resolutions and nail them to you front door for the world to see, embrace the tradition and become that all-elusive new you, after all, you can’t go back to being the old you.

 

Have a Happy New Year and I wish you all the luck in the world.

I Wonder …? How did you spend your Christmas Day?

Firstly, Merry Christmas to absolutely everyone, it’s a day to celebrate family and friends and it always passes with a bang.

Secondly, thank you to everyone who took part in the inaugural I Wonder …?

So here we are, the second daring instalment, hold on tight! Staying on the holiday theme, and simply because it is currently Christmas Day. I would like to know, how did you spend your Christmas Day? Where were you? Who were you with? What did jolly old Saint Nick/Santa Claus bring you? Let me and everyone else know in the comments below.

 

Merry Christmas!!!

Feeling Blessed

You’ll have to excuse the some what cheesy title, but at the current moment I find myself in an odd mood, following strange lines on inquiry in this crazy mind of mine. But it’s not as bad as it may sound, or indeed as it may appear. At the tail end of these trains of thought, I have repeatedly found a smile, well more of a smirk in fact, awaiting me, positively uncontrollable I’m afraid.

So what has inspired this rather nonsensical post? Well a number of things. Firstly, I set a goal to post at least twice a week, so even if it does turn out to be nonsense, at least that goal is met and more importantly I am still writing. Secondly, recently I’ve been watching a series of uplifting films, like Disney films and oddly Southpaw, which you may not consider uplifting. But at its core, the story is about a man’s struggle to turn his life around and regain what he had lost. A pretty noble cause if you ask me. Finally, I suppose the whole cliché of reflection that is very common place towards the ending of a year is also partly to blame for this unedited stream of consciousness onto this very blank page. I’m not sure if it’s culture, or something more innate that causes us to look back, but try as we might, we can’t avoid it. Of course there are the famous notions, and well founded notions, of the lessons we can learn for the past, but this form of reflection seems to hold another purpose.

Perhaps we are looking for a way to justify our actions, or to justify the position we find ourselves in when the clock strikes twelve and the bells call out to us. Was it all worth it, could I have done better, been more? Perhaps it’s simply a matter of observation, a method of comprehension and understanding. We look back to discover the how and the why, the reasons for why we are where we are and how we acted. Maybe it’s just an exercise to better understand ourselves. After all, not matter how much you plan, living is very much more a reactionary game then anything else.

The conclusion of my reflections? I do feel blessed. Now I feel it’s important to understand that I’m not truly a religious man, so when I say blessed, I doesn’t quite carry any such religious connotations. What I mean is that I have my health, my family and my friends, both new and old. I’ve embraced a fantastic opportunity to move to the other side of the world. I’ve met many challenges, some of which I have overcome, and others that have taught me lessons. I may not be entirely satisfied with everything, like my living arrangements, for example. But, on the other hand, I’m grateful that I do have somewhere to live, somewhere to rest my weary head in relative comfort. Quite simply, I have enough, and it’s a real joy, pleasure and privilege to mutter those words. As the new year approaches it is always a good time to reflect on what you’ve achieved and to search through your past for the lessons waiting there to be learned. So I encourage you to take some time and do just that, reflect. Although I’m more than certain, your mind will wonder those corridors whether you want it to or not.

I Wonder…? When is Christmas well, Christmas?

There comes a certain time each year, a particular event, some kind of a sign or feeling, one magical occurrence or special memory that makes Christmas really feel like Christmas. I think that this moment must differ from person to person, at least to some degree and that’s what we are going to find out!

For me, the moment Christmas truly arrives is when I see and hear it on television. The first time is see that fabled convoy of Coca-Cola Christmas lorries (or trucks) rolling through that snow covered village, set to the joyful singing of “Holidays are coming”, I know in my heart, that Christmas has arrived.

christmas coke

So I leave the floor open to you, when does Christmas arrive for you? Why? What makes that signal so special to you? Please feel free to comment below and get the snowball rolling!

 

A Culture of Names

What does your name mean? I’m sure you’ve considered this question at least once. More than likely you’ve turned to the powers of the internet to provide yourself with an answer to that very mystery. Personally, I know I’ve often found myself curiously pondering over such a query, eager to know just it meant to be called my name. So in spirit of my curiosity, take my name:

 

Daniel James Mannering

 

It’s got a pretty nice ring to it, if I don’t say so myself. Thankfully, between the internet and my parents I have found exactly the answers I was looking for. Let us start with my first name. A quick internet search reveals Daniel is of Hebrew origin. Its meaning varies slightly, but generally centres around “God is my judge”, “God is my shepherd” or something very similar. After consulting with my parents it seems the biblical nature of my name played somewhat of a role in its selection, being a good strong catholic name and relating to the story of ‘Daniel in the Lion’s Den’, from the Book of Daniel. It was also tied to family and memory having been chosen, in part, because of my Mother’s fond memories of her Grandfather singing ‘Danny Boy’. Originally written by the Englishman Frederic Weatherly and played against the tune of ‘Londonderry Air’, quite touching really.

 

The declaration of my middle name, James, turned out to be a much simpler affair. It was chosen modestly, owing to the fact my parents liked it the sound of it, they enjoyed the melody and rhythm it gave my name. James, at one point or another, was potentially to become my first name, but my parents didn’t quite warm to the idea that I may be called Jim one day, no offence to any Jims out there. The final part of the puzzle, my last name or family name, Mannering, remains a little bit more of a mystery. Without some serious digging it is likely to remain so. Surnames are the ties that bind our families together. They make us and our families instantly recognisable and are wholesomely prominent throughout our lives. I have often been told the same is true in China, if your family holds the same last name; it is likely you descended from the same family a long time ago.

 

What does that all mean? It means that my first name holds some real significance, not just to me, but also to the people who named me. This, in some aspect, varies rather greatly from the methods of selection often undertaken by Chinese parents.  But let us quickly look at the similarities. Some parents may choose their child’s name simply because of the pattern or rhythm; they may solely want their child’s name to possess a nice ring to it or a more melodic feel. Having undertaken mini-interviews with a sample of my Chinese friends and colleagues it appears a generational gap is forming in the means of selection. It appears to be more common place that names are being chosen simply because they sound nice, a practice that has been prevalent in the west for some time, as opposed to, dare I say, a more traditional form of selection. The predominant difference in the meaning of our names lays in the difference in western languages and the Chinese language. The individual letters of my name, for example, are all but meaningless unless they are combined in the correct order. The Chinese language however is expressed in characters, with each character carrying an express meaning. Therefore, a Chinese name is often chosen to reflect the characteristics a set of parents hope their child will grow up to reflect, or things they hope they will possess. Characters indicating things such as beauty, wisdom and wealth for example seem to be popular choices, and why wouldn’t they be? However, it isn’t always the sole choice of the parents, who may seek the advice of someone older and wiser than them or other members of their family to provide a degree of consultancy. Aside from our given or first names, you may have noticed that the family name comes first in China. This is distinctly different from the west in which our surnames rest firmly at the back of our names. Why is this the case? The character in Chinese for family (Jīa) also means home, they are one in the same. Both home and family are central to both the Chinese and their culture, a notion that has, perhaps, been forgotten slightly back home. The fact that the family name comes first is issued to reflect this declaration of the importance of family.

 

In China, names, it seems, tend to hold greater meaning then we may place upon them in the west. Not only are they a form of identification, but a stamp declaring the sort of person it is hoped you will be. I know in some small way it was hoped  that by giving me a name tied to a more honourable character, I would grow up to possess something of that quality. However if a pair of Chinese parents hoped their child would grow up to be honourable, the character would likely appear directly in their name. Now this isn’t to say names aren’t important in the west, it just seems to me that names here hold more of a direct meaning and importance. In essence, you are your name.

 

What does your name mean and what does it mean to you?

 

Blogging 201: Nailing down your goals

I recently applied for one of three free courses being run and delivered by WordPress. In this instance the course is designed to give your blog focus and teach you how to build and develop a brand, skills I feel will be useful both here and in the future. So what is the first step along this process? Step one is defining the goals of your blog; what you hope to accomplish and achieve.

Firstly I need to consider what this platform is all about. Basically it boils down to a place where I can express myself, my thoughts and feelings and generally just write about what I want to write about. But there other facets I would like to engage with. I would very much like to create a space that harbours and encourages discussion. Of course this would need to be a friendly, non-judgemental and non-bias place. I wouldn’t want to limit discussion or prevent people from putting their opinion across. But at the same time there is no reason to attack anyone for their opinion, not all of us are keyboard warriors, seeking to create conflict for no good reason, after all. For this to happen however, I’d need a much larger and active readership. It would also fall to me to provide enough interesting stimulus to get these debates rolling.

These desire can be broken down into quantifiable and tangible goals. Translating them however forces you to measure your own ideas of success and put yourself out there, so to speak. If for example you state your goal is to increase your readership by a given percentage by a given date, you very much make yourself accountable for that goals success or failure. It feels a tad daunting, but presents, at the same time, a fantastic learning opportunity. If you are met with failure you can ask yourself why? What could I have done to achieve that goal? What didn’t I do? If you are met with success there are still questions to be asked, like: how can I move forward and/or continue to grow? Now that I have achieved what I want, do I still want the same things? What more can I do?

The task states you should set three goals, so here it goes:

  1. Increase my readership by 20% by February.
  2. Increase commenting and participation by the same date.
  3. Publish/Post at least twice a week.
  4. (Bonus) If at all possible, post a Guest post once a month, or at least just one.

These goals will not only make me accountable to myself, but to those who may choose to read what I will come to write. I’m looking forward to seeing what else this course has to offer and to improving this little blog of mine.