Family First

It’s that time again, no not that one. Or that one. But the end of January. Unlike our other office breaks this season is not a public holiday and is, perhaps, the least understood.

It wouldn’t be too far of a stretch for the outside eye to think I’m slightly lazy or part-timer for taking a break so close to our recent Christmas break. But, in reality, I’d like to suggest it’s quite the opposite.

You see, when it comes to business, most shut down over the Christmas break. But because our businesses are so diverse, we power-on through. So in reality, even though our offices are shut over Christmas – we aren’t really on a break at all. In fact we were often chasing orders, replying to emails and preparing for the year ahead.

So, even though it’s a challenge for most to go back to work after the Christmas, I’d perhaps argue – we are less rested than most. Our kids are savvy to this also. While we are able to give them 100% over Christmas Day and the few surrounding days, anything more than that is a bit of a luxury for us (and them). With that in mind, we have January.

The last two weeks in January are very special for our family. Not only is it my birthday, but it’s the time that we set aside especially for each other. We enjoy each others’ company. We go out to places during the days. And we make up for all the time that we are otherwise busy.

It may not be ideal timing for everyone who has to wait until we come back to work on February, but I thank-you for understanding. For me and my business, it will always be Family First.

So please don’t judge us for taking time out, we’ll be back in full-force on the 4th February to take on 2019 head-on. Thanks for understanding.

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Driving HOME For Christmas

After what feels just shy of a millennia, today is a very special day. No, not the fact that it’s Black Friday – although it is a purchase. In fact, I can safely say this is the largest item I have ever bought on a Black Friday, or (actually) ever. And yet, this is a purchase that I won’t get told off for making. Black Friday 2018 finally saw the completion date for our house. We finally closed the deal and purchased a home!

The relief is perhaps so palpable in light of the efforts and tribulations that we endured along the way. Nearly a full month after I posted the (what I hoped the be) full story, the conclusion has finally arrived. Not without its’ own mini-dramas, of course. Even today, on completion days, I still had a few curve balls that needed batting out of the park. But no more. It’s complete. No chance of undoing it now.

If you missed it, you can read the full story of the journey we’ve been on- titled ‘The Battle of Mort Gage’. Told as an epic battle between us and those trying to stop us, it poetically reflects how long and painful the journey had been for us. While the story couldn’t include every detail and battle we fought, it certainly gives you a taste. You can read it here.

Whether you read my previous post or not, I’m sure you will have gathered by now that this was a beast of a journey for us. One that so many people have to walk through in order to gain ownership of their home. It’s a sad reality of the age we’re in. And I am SO thankful to God for pulling us through – but also for the people involved who had the power and ability to help us where we needed. They know who they are. This victory, perhaps, proof that if God can do it for us – then He can do it for anyone! I had the lowest credit score, the biggest debt and I’m self-employed.

My hope from this journey is that it will show other people in the journey that they aren’t on their own. That other people that have, and are, walking through this incredibly long and -at times- painful battle can see it does end. That you do come out the other side with a victory that is monumental. My other hope is that the lessons I’ve learned through it will inspire me and my family to remember how blessed we are and perhaps that some day, we too could be the ones with the power and ability to help others complete their journey to property ownership.

Over the battle, I ended up formulating a playlist of songs that I found myself listening to regularly as they depicted the season really well. You can listen to them, if you’d, like here:

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The Battle of Mort Gage

This one is a long read. But it’s one I have crafted carefully over the last season.

You always hear that life is a battle. But a wise man once told me that it’s not always about the victory, sometimes it’s about the honour in how you fight. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but now I can safely say that I have lived this legend. And telling it is easier than walking through it. This is the story of how a thirty-something family man tried to get a mortgage in the UK.

The battle to own a property has been one that I’ve fought over the last three years. Along the way, I’ve been challenged, disassembled and rebuilt more times than I’d care to count. Through this process I’ve fought financial, stereotype and mental battles that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

I don’t know why, but while the whole story is still raw, I thought I’d write about it. Thank you for humouring me. This is ‘The Battle of Mort Gage’.

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McDonalds Monopoly 2018 Winning Tickets Wiiiin!

Without further ado – here’s the quick way to check if you have a winning ticket at this years’ McDonalds Monopoly.

  • Brown – Old Kent Road
  • Light Blue – Euston Road
  • Pink – Northumberland Avenue
  • Orange – Marlborough Street
  • Red – Strand
  • Yellow – Coventry Street
  • Green – Bond Street
  • Dark Blue – Mayfair (obviously)
  • Stations – Liverpool Street

What I do find interesting is that this is largely unchanged from last year. The only downside? They aren’t stickers anymore, so have a roll of tape handy in your car!!

Also, this year, save 10 of any stickers to get yourself a NOW TV pass. That’s just good sense. In fact, arguably, that’s a better prize than the food. Upon claiming your first NOW TV pass, there is a limited of four per person, but no limit if you sign up in different names.

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My Decision

Found these old cards the other day. My first ever business cards. From a simpler time. When I had hair. But in all seriousness, it felt appropriate to share them today. Today marks a special kind of anniversary.

24 years ago today I made a decision. As a seven year old boy, not a lot of your decisions sick around for much longer than a year. But this one has lasted me nearly a quarter of a decade (and counting). It’s not a decision I took lightly then, and it’s one that I take even more seriously now. That decision was to externally express an internal trust and belief that Jesus is who He said He is.

I didn’t do it on a stage. I didn’t do it around others. I didn’t do it because I felt I had to. I did it because I read about the importance of accepting Jesus as He is – so He would accept me as I was (and am). I did it because -even then- I knew that the ‘feelings’ I got when I spoke with God were more than feelings. I knew Him to be real and that He was interested in knowing me, an insignificant pre-teen.

So much has changed since then. Both in my world and in the world around me. But He never changes. And just as He accepted an uncomplicated seven-year-old then – He just as much accepts the highly complicated and over-thought thirty-something now. Something I find highly re-assuring.

And even though I don’t remember much from being seven, I remember making that decision. It’s a decision that has tested me, torn me apart but also kept everything in perspective and exposed to faithfulness that is unmatched by any human. I don’t always make good decisions. But God knows, that’s the best decision I have ever made.

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The Nano, The Camera and the Steves

May the iPod nano rest in peace. Apple finally but to bed arguably their most colourful device, in the shadow of the technology that has overshadowed it for a while now. Sure the iPod shuffle shares the demise, but it’s the nano that will be missed. You know, not from a useful-tech perspective, but from a sentimental perspective. If you didn’t have one, you knew someone who did. It was arguably the most colourful leap forward in tech of its generation. Something Apple would do well to bring back into their repertoire (have you seen the pathetic pastel offerings of cases and devices of late?).

But all this got me thinking. It’s crazy how fast things can change. In my business, it’s very evident that the latest technology is already dated the moment you leave the shop. A quick think back to my first ever computer reveals either how fast things can change or just my age. One of the two.

I remember going to PC World with my family as my Dad discussed specifications with the salesperson. I was far too young to know what he was talking about, but if I were to go back as a fly on the wall, I think the PC’s specifications would be laughable by today’s standards – but – back then, it was top of the range.

I remember the giant CRT monitor, that would take up the majority of the desk for a relatively small image size. I remember the giant horizontal CPU, complete with floppy disk drive and the brand new ‘CD Rom Drive’ that was only included on the newest of machines. Complete with Microsoft 95 operating system, this bit of kit was world changing for little me…

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SH61

The keen-eyed among you will have noticed I have a new header at the top of my website, the not-so-keen-eyed are checking it now. I always enjoy a little tweak and change every now and again when it comes to websites. I don’t often get the chance, but when I do, I like to really think about what the design means. In this case, it was a perfect opportunity to consider the purpose of this blog as well as my history of getting here.

Blogging, for me, was the natural progression from my earlier life where I kept journals. And, although this is a far more public forum to voice my thoughts – it is a poetic collection of the progressions and developments that make me who I am today. And when I thought back over the many years that I would write about my activities and adventures, one early memory still sits fondly at the the start of the story. Yes there were many stories prior, but this one was the start of my journey of becoming who I am today. That is the story of 61.

You’ll notice from both the title of this blog post, as well as the subtitle on the website, SH61 is a code marks my initials and favourite number. Favourite number because of the story of 61.

Many of my friends from my tweens will know the origin of 61, a short home-video I helped produce alongside a fantastic team of friends. The story of 61 revolved around secret agent named Back Jauer and followed the east same premise as the critically acclaimed FOX TV show 24. Sound effects and soundtracks were lifted from 24 to produce a not-too-shabby couple of movies that will live fondly in the memories of those involved. But 61 served an unexpected purpose for me beyond the immediate joy and entertainment that it provided to those who were lucky enough to see it. It helped me realise that when you really believe in something, and you rally a team around you who feel the same way – you can accomplish things that you previously wouldn’t have dreamed of. Was 61 perfect? No. Part of me would love to go back and re-act, re-film and re-edit them to bring them up to the high standard that is achievable with today’s home-video technology. But we didn’t have that back in the day. In fact, it was incredible we were able to achieve what we did. But all that aside, the end product was a success in our eyes. And it’s that success that has kept me believing, inspired me to keep on trying and to hope for things that I never thought were possible.

And the most exciting of those adventures, I believe, are still ahead.

Oh, and what of the feathers and the lion in the header?
They play their own parts in my story too. But those stories aren’t finished yet.

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The Focus

I can often find myself getting lost in myself. My brain can be a infinite abyss of complex realities and unending reasonings.

That is, as you can imagine, only multiplied in times of extra stresses, confusion or uncertainty. And lately, that has felt a little bit like where I’ve been.

Firstly, let me just stress that I am so blessed with the worlds’ best wife and children. I am by no means ‘going through it’. In comparison to many in the world today, I’m living the dream. But every now and again, the minor stresses that I deal with eat away at the joys.

And its times like this that it’s good to stop and re-adjust the focus. This song, recently released by UNITED, is one that really spoke to me in this way.

So often, I feel guilty of loosing focus in the moment of a stressful week or an uncertain bill to pay. So much so that even when I do try to refocus, I miss the most amazing point of all. If only just for the 7 odd minutes of this song, I began to realise that the re-adjustment wasn’t about my focus – but it was all about realising how intensely focused God is on me. Just like He does on all of his children.

And as the universe around us screams of His greatness, it fails to compare, nor does it distract God from His ultimate desire – us. And that’s more than enough to bring my focus back each time to meet His gaze.

But what measures could amount to your desire?
You’re the one who never leaves the one behind.

I’m not a big fan of the aesthetics behind this lyric video, but the song and the lyrics are just phenomenal.

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