2011 In Quick Review

The last time I blogged it was my birthday.

Now I knew that things were about to change in my life as I was going back into a full-time paid role and I was about to make a few life changes after pressing the re-start button but dayum! After the amount of intense work I put into developing my SpiritedStrength blog and web site that I’d launched weeks before, I hadn’t envisaged not having the head-space to come continue blogging, even at a slower rate. What a ting.

I’m writing this while I’m on a flight to Atlanta – the first time I’ve had to take a full breather for months and I’m so glad I took my laptop with me. I woke up out of a nap (watching 5 minutes of the in-flight move Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sent me deep into the land of nod), and was reflecting on the past few months then thought: blog! So here I am again. As my writing juices are erupting I’m having bursts of couldda-shouldda-wouldda – every sentence of this post really could have been a blog piece in its own right. To get things started again though, I’m going to give you lots of my new via headlines to bring you up to speed on a whirlwind tour.

What on earth have I been doing?

  • Celebrated a low-key and self-affirming 43rd birthday
  • Went on the most relaxing, inspiring, fun, re-invigorating retreat for Black gay men which included a surprise belated-birthday celebration. Food, fun, frolics, spirit, nature!
  • Started an intensely challenging and rewarding full time, national, strategic learning & development role that is physically and mentally all-consuming yet totally enjoyable and rewarding
  • Moved into the cutest studio flat complete with the shocker add-on – a shared external swimming pool = after 14.5 months of living transiently
  • Started back up my Spanish studies again (still struggling like hell)
  • Started my running again and gained a place in next year’s London Marathon
  • Stepped up my Buddhist practice and began chanting more often
  • Sent Bertie to the graveyard (my trusted old 96 reliable albeit worn ’96 banger) and started a new relationship with Isaac (a 2011 confident performing beauty) in light of my national travel. 350 miles in a day has been a regular feature of late..

Leading the way with all of this has been work. I started this 14.5 month life-transformation with my rules of engagement;

Big Chunk Principle 1: Work for an employer you’re proud to be a part of and make sure your work inspires you to get our of bed in the morning *wanting* to go to work

I knew that my profession and the level I’ve achieved meant I would always be in a role that is full-on and challenging, so I wanted to make sure that in my next one I was i) inspired by the company I worked for and where ii) I really felt I was enhancing people’s life skills and professional performance through leading strategic human development programmes. I have landed a role which provides that in abundance and don’t want to look a gift-horse in the mouth. However I’ve got to tell you the 5am rise to run before work when in London, toggled between the alternative 5am rise to travel to parts of the UK I didn’t know existed, continuous hotel stays, constant people challenges, strategic brain scratching conundrums, organisational culture shift challenges and office politics have left me with barely space to remember my name on many nights & weekends, let alone feed the other wonderful things I’d stoked up in my time away from full-time permanent work.

Which brings me to

Big Chunk Principle 2: Understand what makes you feel like you’re inspired, growing and happy- find out what it is again and DO IT. In abundance!

This pertained to my personal life. I really did get back to me in my time-out – and I loved it!!! Best ‘sabbatical’ ever! Big Chunk Principle 2 was driven by me desperately needing to have more of a work-life balance. But knowing that I’d have a job that doesn’t lean easily towards it. But that I’d fight hard to get a life. But that I’d be ok with my personal life taking a slower slice for a few months while I got myself fully settled into a new role and did the work-focus thing…My Twitter activity nose-dived, my Facebook became flying spurts only, partying died, going to the cinema ground to a halt, and the most I was able to do outside of work was the running, gym and Spanish…not great. But I’m ok with it as I can’t live in an unrealistic bubble. Work and my career are real. Big Chunk Principle 2 is still under the surface – I’ve merely allowed it to take a back seat for a SHORT while.

And here we are, Xmas/New Year holiday break and the intensity of the new job resulted in me not having a day off since I started on the 1st September 2011. I desperately need to get off the whole merry-go-round for a minute, take stock of all that is in my reach and make some smart decisions about how to achieve that balance now that all major aspects of my life are in place and wanting nurturing. I gave myself 6 months max to allow work to tip the work-life-balance scale – and I’m at the point that I need to walk further towards the middle after an intense 4 months.

Hard to tell how though – right now I’m sitting here with my plane crew – a bright fresh graduate on his way back home to
Georgia after working in Spain for 6 months, a senior citizen couple who are returning home from a missionary trip to Uganda – the couple are holding hands, reading the bible together and making conversation and gutsy quips that are cracking me up. Half of the plane is taken up with two loud missionary groups from America’s South and their banter sounds like a scene from the Alice sitcom they used to show on the telly back in my childhood – it’s giving me bare quah-quah-JOAKES! I’m feeling relaxed and comfortable on a 10-hour flight, doing my people-connection thing as always and constantly loving the energy that I get from it. I’ve been living the SpiritedStrength model:

SpiritedStrength = daily life driven by: • heart • realness • liberation • purpose • learning • happiness

with such full gusto throughout the past year and importantly, still through the up-turn of the past four months, so I’m glad in review, I’ve remained true to it. It’s a bit of a shame that I’ve not felt like sharing via my blog for a while however one of the determinations I have is to DEDICATE that space and give the dedication to unloading via my blog again in 2012 so you’ll hear my about my adventures in work and play. Truss me pan dat!

My 2011 has been so turbulent its quite overwhelming viewing it in retrospect. The week before Xmas last year I had just moved in with my brother, his wife and The Alien (my 4-year old terrorist nephew). The home I’d moved into with my ex when I rented out my flat to put the life-transformation plan into play, was not longer to be my home. The relationship that had so much potential and promise broke down. I wasn’t in full time permanent work – by design – but also admittedly with some career direction frustrations;  my health was at an all time low and I was in the midst of a life-transformation that on paper looked to many like it was sinking (I saw some folks’ faces…bout you think I’m a hippy and going mad huh?!…KMT…& don’t even let me start cuss bout my ex’s outlook). In my spirit I knew my fundamental happiness goals were merely going through the wash and would come out just right. By the end of this year, everything I’d determined and took patient, focused actions towards for the past 14.5 months came out in full bloom and all of the major areas in my life are as I’ve wanted. Being in control of your karma is a great thing. That’s what I was thinking. And that’s what made me reach in the plane’s over-head locker, grab my laptop and write this piece.

As for this trip, you never know what holidays will bring – you could start off with one agenda and something different happiness. All I know is, I’m gonna do me. Here goes!!!


  1. Charlene Grant 24 December 2011 at 20:49 - Reply

    Inspiring post! :) Have fun in Atlanta. See you when you get back. xx

    • SpiritedStrength 25 December 2011 at 10:59 - Reply

      Thanks Mooma! Garn see you at the tweetup when i get back! Hope you enjoy the holidays ;)

  2. Sandra aka Ski 25 December 2011 at 14:10 - Reply

    Just what I needed, was the timely reminder about balance and living life on purpose, thank you for this – Merry Christmas – Keep blogging, one of the BEST I’ve READ this year – Spiritually honest, refreshing:)

    Keep on, keeping on:)


    • SpiritedStrength 25 December 2011 at 14:47 - Reply

      Thank you for your feedback Sanj – I really appreciate the nod. Let’s keep pushing through. 2012 is going to be LARGE!

  3. Natasha 25 December 2011 at 14:48 - Reply

    You really do inspire!! Many of us go through these things not realising there are so many people going through the same thing!! Look forward to the next post

    • SpiritedStrength 25 December 2011 at 14:51 - Reply

      Thanks Tasha! Bwoiiii certain-certain ennit?! Had to look those thoughts square in the eye and let them out. I’m ready for 2012 now – are you? I’m with you regardless sis. oneness xo

  4. Simon Oliver 25 December 2011 at 15:42 - Reply

    Have a great break and take some time to fine tune. Sometimes is so hard staying on the road we don’t have a chance to choose the road we race along! January await so make sure you hit it with your wheels spinning. I’m sure you will. C

    • SpiritedStrength 25 December 2011 at 19:26 - Reply

      Thanks Si – I definately am gonna try! I worked too hard on setting this shit up not to! Let’s go!

  5. Tamsen 25 December 2011 at 16:04 - Reply

    As always, our lives are in some sync.. Merry Xmas to you and thanks x

    • SpiritedStrength 25 December 2011 at 19:21 - Reply

      Really Tam? Still? We’re past due a catchup! 2011 is history now eh? :-)

  6. donovon 26 December 2011 at 12:23 - Reply

    hi gary that was very up lifting hope you have the best time in atlanta take care and have lots of fun see you in the new year lovey d xxxxxxxxx

    • SpiritedStrength 26 December 2011 at 22:31 - Reply

      thanks donna i appreciate that :) im having a ball and hope you are too in bahrain! see you when we both get back xo

  7. Junior Liburd 27 December 2011 at 13:46 - Reply

    The name says it all ‘SpiritedStrength’ This post was so brutally honest I loved every word. Baby boy you know I got your back, that I love and respect you to the max. I am proud to have you as a friend.

    • SpiritedStrength 27 December 2011 at 14:08 - Reply

      Thanks Junior. You’ve lived it with me and were a uncompromisingly supportive throughout every day of the 14.5 months and I’m deeply grateful. Looking forward to sharing less tense times in 2012! Love you big time!

  8. Kweku Aacht 29 December 2011 at 07:25 - Reply

    Parallels a go go! Oh my days I’ve just been nodding and mm mmm, uh hu, yep…Boy thanks so much for sharing you journey of transformation in such an open clear and generous way. I personally have take so much reassurance from hearing how you stuck to what your internal instinct and intuition told on a spiritual level. Allowing yourself to grow and create from this place rather then allowing yourself to be continually driven by those instant and loud mouthed external voices and all the distracting mental chit chat they can generate in your head. I think I’m around 6months behind you in my version on this process and reading your blog has given me that boost, reaffirming that I am indeed far from alone and that connecting to self in this way indeed connects to a whole movement of people taking the plunge a submerging themselves in a fresh, clear spiritual waterworld. One in which the tide is still as strong as ever but individuals swim curled by their own internal rhythm, passion and motivation. Come on in people, it’s beautiful in here.

    • SpiritedStrength 29 December 2011 at 17:02 - Reply

      Thanks Kewku! It’s my pleasure! I get a buzz from your buzz!

  9. Randy in LA 7 January 2012 at 09:32 - Reply

    Gary as I read each paragraph of your blog I was drawn to your honesty, humility, and honor in striving towards a better life.

    I’m so grateful you had the courage to share your story with the world. I’m now inspired to TRUST in God beyond my circumstances and believe I deserve a wonderful life. So to everyone that will read this blog remember this; just because you have a nightmare doesn’t mean you stop dreaming.

    • SpiritedStrength 7 January 2012 at 19:43 - Reply

      Thanks Mandy! Our lives have drawn parallels in the past couple of years and it’s amazing we can draw strength from each other’s experiences :) We must continuously strive to find ways of digging deep and inspiring ourselves to have courage, foresight and conviction. Here’s to our future enriched lives and most of all, to fundamental happiness!

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