I am an atheist. That doesn’t mean I hate God or am angry with him for not making me wealthy or genitally blessed; I simply don’t think he exists. I wasn’t abused as a child, I’m not in deep pain or distress, I don’t see a shrink, and I’m not a Devil-worshipper. I simply think that the facts do not show that God or gods are real. Furthermore, I think the facts show that, on the balance of probabilities, the Christian story (and the Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, and so on) is not true. I see the lot as myth.
Yet Christmas is the most important day of the year for atheists.
Let’s not forget at this time of the year, that Christmas always has had Christian and non-Christian elements. I tend to use the word “Yule” for this non-Christian festival that takes place around the Winter solstice. Yule, the olden Germanic, pre-Christian winter time of feasting. Holly, snow, pine trees, yule logs, feasting: this is just as much as a part of the season of “Christmas” as mangers, three kings, Bethlehem, and Jesus.
Yule is the festival of friends, family, feasting, boozing.
And yes, Yule is the time for thinking of others, gentleness, giving, and reflection.
But for me, there is no incarnation of God who was born this day.
Let us all respect each other at this time: Christians and, err, Yuleians.
So Merry Christmas and a Happy Yule 2016 to you all!
© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry
featured image from http://sheamacleod.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/yule.jpg
Here’s the private note I wrote myself in January 2016 to keep focused. Spelling and formatting as in the actual note. Never looked at it till now, so kinda defeats the purpose. Anyway, in red ink (‘cos red = emergency and thus unforgettable, so went my thinking) it reads:
If I want to achieve my creative and linguistic goals, I need to dedicate SUFFICIENT time EVERY DAY.
…… I don’t have the time. Therefore, I need to think how to filter this time throughout the day, e.g., vocab. cards on the train.
So ….. Come up with a daily plan that gives me …..
* 2-3.5 hrs of screenwriting/novels/etc (=BIG creative works) per day
* Vocab cards + listening/speaking of 30′ + Memrise
= 1 hr / day per language
–> Swedish, Spanish, and….. Other langs = only Memrise. But langs I am serious about, do above.
* Blogging = 1 hour
* 21CLF — sth, even a subsection 30′ per day
Think about how to thoroly embed my serious langs into my life in order to speed up my learning
Can’t say I disagree with my own conclusions. But I’ve been very inconsistent.
- “Big” creative works, e.g., screenplays and novels. FAIL! Well… definitely haven’t done any work at all on these for several months, and very little in any case in 2016.
- Language stuff. SUCCESS! I have been doing, more-or-less fairly consistently, flashcards, reading, speaking, listening, and so on, in both Spanish and Swedish. At least half an hour each language a day; very often, an hour or so.
- Blogging. More-or-less SUCCESS! I haven’t been doing an hour every day, but I work on my blog (behind the scenes) almost every single day, and throughout the week, I easily tot up an average of one hour a day.
- “21CLF” is one book I am writing. FAIL! I have actually done a lot on this during 2016. However, it has been in fits and starts. Mainly, other stuff periodically take precedence and this book gets sidelined. But I was right: I’ve gotta at least look at this project on a daily basis or it’ll never come off.
- Thinking how to embed my languages in my life. MIXED! I’ve done this somewhat, but not extensively. But then I didn’t set myself a SMART goal. That is, no specific, measureable, broken-down targets; therefore, how can I judge my success?
I need to start setting myself SMART Goals for 2017. That is, goals which has are distinct and definite parts so I can measure my success, and a predetermined timeline to do them by. All of my above goals, despite specified time to be spent, are still a tad vague.
Also, speaking for myself, I find I work very well when I have a series of deadlines stacked up and am forced into planning more. Hence why I tend to do well on courses and in work-based assignments. Hmm, maybe there’s a lesson there for 2017…
© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry
featured image from http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/rhl_JDtTp-E/maxresdefault.jpg
I decided in 2013 to set a five year plan for myself during this cross-roads period of my life (ages 28-33). Well, 2016 is the forelast year, so I thought I would look over my goals to see what I have achieved and where I haven’t quite lived up to my own hopes. Click on the picture above for an enlarged version. With one year to go, there’s everything to play for.
Sometimes goals change. That’s good and fine. But we can’t lie to ourselves and say that our failed goals were things that were no longer relevant.
I’ll talk about both personal and professional goals (often, they are mixed: learning Spanish, for example, involves both), what went right or wrong, and how should I take things forward now. Who knows, maybe you’ll get something out of this exercise in self-analysis, too. (key stuff I’ve highlighted with red text colour).
1. Have achieved C1 level (lower advanced) of Spanish and be going for the C1 DELE certificate.
I started out as A2~B1, and four years later I am… B1. Albeit, more solidly. Was my initial goal realistic? Yes, it was. Around three hours a day, every day, for around six months would have got me to C1. Around an hour a day would have got me there by around two years ago. So why have I failed?
Partly, I have been inconsistent. There are been large chunks of the last four years where I haven’t studied Spanish at all. Likewise, I have reassessed my goals. My thinking has shifted to this: when me and my wife finally decide to go and live in Spain (she is Spanish), if indeed we ever do, then and only then will I dedicate myself to hardcore studying.
2. To have achieved the levels and qualifications in Swedish B2 and Ancient Greek A-Level
I wanted to also get to B2 or above in Swedish, with the qualification to prove it. And have carried on with my ancient Greek and have an A-level in it to my name. Both have fallen by the wayside. Mainly because they aren’t essential to my life, they have been squeezed out. But I still desperately want these things and plod away, sporadically, at trying to achieve these goals. Yet: if I cannot commit 100%, that includes regularly, to these goals, perhaps I should ditch them totally, no matter how much I want them…
3. Have finished a few particular screenwriting projects I had in mind and have sent scripts off to companies.
The worst of all my goals. I am exactly where I was four years ago. Although I am at least regularly blogging, so I’m getting some writing practice. However, I set up this blog mainly so I could warm up each day before getting on with the “real” writing: my books and screenplays. The blog was meant to be the starter before the main course!
My failure to move forward on the writing front is gutting. I had a plan, though: write this one particular short book, then rework one particular screenplay, then turn back to this other specific book, and then get back to this other screenplay. So two specific books and two specific screenplays. Not unrealistic at all given that none of these projects would have been from scratch. All I have done is a bit of work on book one, and virtually nothing on any of the other projects.
The main reason for the failure isn’t that I lack the desire. And it isn’t that this goal is not very important to me. Rather, the goal requires serious dedication day-in, day-out over a period of months and months. Yet real life keeps getting in the way.
4. Have a car
I originally thought that I would learn to drive in the second half of 2015 and have a car by 2015. I actually started learning to drive this year, 2016, and am about to do my theory test. So, I missed my deadline, but I am in the process of doing it now. Delayed almost success? Let’s call this a one-quarter success; when I pass my tests and get a full licence, that’ll be half success; and the car ownership part would be the full deal.
5. Get married
Some success at last! Despite various hardships that we were subjected to, happening at the worst time, we managed to put on the wedding of our dreams in 2013. And still married after three years. Wahey! We simply said, “We do not care what the world throws at us! We’re doing this and that’s that, no matter what sacrifices need to be made!“
6. Save up and buy a house
Me and my wife cracked it and bought the house last year. It’s going well. We saved, saved, saved, and then, guess what? We saved a bit more. We rented cheap, shared flats. We didn’t spend as much on takeaways and Gucci Hyratchis
7. Finish writing a particular book
This is a case where I completely underestimated the enormity of the project. So I switched to another more manageable book project to work on first. But sadly, I have not quite sorted that one either. Mainly, I have had to keep sidelining the project due to other more pressing day-to-day priorities.
8. Do an MA in English Linguistics at UCL: 2014-2016
This one was always dependent solely on finding the right time to finance this. I started the MA a few months ago. It’s going very well. But there is still a long road ahead. Will I succeed to the level I want? Only time will tell. I’ll chalk this up as a half-success right now. I’m due to finish in 2018.
9. Build a career in politics
I wanted to build a career in politics. Not because I like that seedy world, but because I have strong beliefs and think that getting elected is the best way to get my views implemented. I ran for local council and, whilst I didn’t get elected, I did quite well. The plan was to then have a tilt at the General Election in 2015 and all other upcoming elections. Sadly, I was simply not able to sacrifice enough time to make this happen and decided to knock it on the head for the meantime. I mean, 40 hours unpaid a week was already too much!
10. Freelance more
I still do freelance language lessons and editing and proofreading. However, the percentage of my income coming from this has more-or-less stayed the same. I was hoping to significantly increase my earning power. However, I’m not too disappointed about this as I had intentionally, deliberately prioritised other aspects of my work and life. This goal is important to me, however, so I need to formulate a new long-term strategy.
11. There were various other goals I have had which didn’t feature on the above list…
11a. Become a member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders and improve my standing within it and the profession.
This goal is on-going as I haven’t yet reached the top of my potential. However, I did indeed join the SfEP and keep working away.
11b. Join on a full honeymoon to Thailand
Fail/Change of Goal
We went on a mini-honeymoon which I have termed a “snackimoon”. It was brilliant. But we still had designs on Thailand. However, over the last three years, whilst we both still want to go to Thailand, it’s not actually that important to us anymore. At least, not compared to what it was.
11c. Get into and stay in shape
I got into shape for my wedding and stayed in shape for a while afterwards. But bad habits reasserted themselves. Maybe I need to renew my vows every twelve to eighteen months!
13 key life goals. A five year period. Four years down, one to go. My current score? 3.75/13. That can definitely be improved upon.
© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry