Bettering Ridley

SECONDARY
Ridley: So last year, Latimer had the idea that 2015 would be a Year of Self Betterment. Basically, it was a plan to become the best version of yourself in all aspects of our lives. After she explained to me what exactly she meant, I (of course) loved the idea, and I decided to jump on the bandwagon. Now, obviously it’s 2016, and the year of self betterment did happen in 2015, but not nearly to the extend that I’d intended. So, this year, and more than likely next year and probably the year after (I see this as an ongoing project to be fair…there’s a lot of about me that needs bettering…) I want to continue and expand on this idea, so I said I’d share some of the areas in which I have been trying and will continue to try to be a better person.

Personally, I think there are very few people in the world who truly know where they’re going in life, it takes years of introspection, deep thinking, and list making before you start to understand what it is you really want from life. There are some people who are lucky from an early age, they find their ‘calling’ and they pursue it with a vigour and passion that is impressive. For the rest of us, it is trial and error, it is circumstance and happenstance, along with a vague idea of what you think you might like, and continuous questioning.

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So we hold on to what we do like, we avoid and change what we don’t, and we live. But my question would be, are we actively living? Are we aware of the days that pass? How often does it happen you let weeks and months and even years just drift by and the things you wanted to do, that course you meant to sign up for, that hobby you wanted to take up again or that place you really wanted to visit, just didn’t happen? I know I’ve done this, and once you take a minute to stop and think, it’s like emerging from far under water, you take a deep breath, look around at where you are and think, what happened? How did I get here? How did so much time pass and nothing has changed, despite having the desire for it?

The year of bettering Ridley, we’re taking control and actively living! It can mean anything, for anyone! So for me, it’s continuing some things I already have in place and it’s starting others:

  • Taking control of the direction of my career, so I began a masters October 2014, it finishes this year, which i can’t believe, that time has gone so quickly. It was something I’ve always wanted to do though, and education is never, never a waste, and I do like learning, and also i love all the new stationary, pens, highlighters and beautiful clean A4 pads that I get to buy (I know I have a problem….help me…. 😀 )download (1)
  • It’s continuing to write more, publish more books, to build upon the foundation Latimer and I already have in place. Do what you love, right?4863_9387c327726cfdaa62521c68712ec5ad
  • It’s to give back to my community, using my professional skills and my time, and to reconnect with charity organisations I was once part of when I was younger or becoming involved in new ones. While I’m trying to better my own life, it’s important to me that I do the same for someone else.images
  • It’s making more time and going to greater effort to better include the people I love in my life. It isn’t about what you have, where you are or what you do, life means nothing if you don’t have people in it who you care about and who care about you.images (2)
  • It’s finally mastering some sort of skill on the guitar after years of haphazard practice. I’ve been taking lessons!images (6)
  • It’s becoming fluent in a second language to a level that I understand the idioms and nuisances of a different culture, which many one day open doors to a new way of thinking. (Not to mention I’m always in awe of people who are able to flit effortlessly from one language to another, I find it so impressive.) This I have decided can wait towards the end of the year….or maybe 2017….but I will do this!! I need to decide on a particular language first!2073435727eb8d3f2f21e8192a3238a1
  • It’s about taking my health more seriously, taking time out to exercise regularly, relax, get proper sleep and meditate. Live the good life, not the fast life.Live-your-life-inspirational-quotes
  • It’s seeing more of the world, to do what I love to do and travel, experience different ways of living, expand my horizons and in doing so my views and beliefs.images (4)

 

All I’ll say is a big thank you to Latimer for her idea, for sharing it with me and letting me take part too! I look forward to trying to become a better person, and sure I’ve always worked well with targets, and with inspirational sayings (obviously I hear you say! Yeah yeah, you know you like them too 😀 )

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So….

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Monkey Madness

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Latimer: Who knew walking up a Chinese mountain to stay the night in a monastery could lead to close encounters of the wild monkey kind? I sure as hell didn’t, but it happened!

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Our Chinese guide said the monkeys of Mt Emei Shan were well-known for jumping onto people’s backs, opening their bags and stealing food (and anything else they could get their hands on). Sometimes they mistook phones and cameras for food and on realising that they couldn’t eat the precious electronics and priceless memories, they’d toss them over the edge of the cliffs.

Nice!

The monkeys had adapted to the influx of people climbing the mountain to see all the temples and monasteries. They were being opportunists – ‘okay cousin humans, you can traipse around our home, but be aware, we are going to steal your crap!’ And, because the monkey’s had no fear of human’s anymore, the human’s had turned them into a tourist attraction (but of course!).

You can buy nuts to feed the monkeys so that they’ll jump up on your back and you can get a photo with them. Wooden bridges have been built along the mountain to allow people the chance of a close encounter… and there are even people called ‘Monkey Police’ (who scare the monkeys away for you if you are about to be robbed).

The monkeys are so unafraid of humans that they get mad when you try and stop them stealing and they get pretty aggressive. So, we were warned to be careful. We were given bamboo sticks to scare them away (not hit them, just smack the ground and scare them). The sticks were cool because walking along a mountain is not the same without a stick!

I didn’t want a monkey to jump on me, but I did want to see them…

On the walk up the mountain the only monkeys I saw were on the ‘encounter bridges’.

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A few people from my group went out – brave souls. One had a monkey jump up onto his back and the rest of us started shouting – “He’s trying to open your bag! He’s trying to open your bag!”

Seriously the monkey was pulling at the zippers; he knew exactly what to do. He didn’t have any luck though, our group member sauntered back, indicating his double-zipped super bag and in a cool American accent, smiled; “This isn’t my first rodeo!” 🙂

I was half-disappointed and half-relieved not to have had more of a monkey encounter. We all made it safely to the monastery on the mountain – the walk to which nearly ended me! I thought, ‘they’ll have to leave me here, I’ll learn Chinese and live off the land!’ – it was rough!

There’s a small kitchen/café near the monastery – the oddest most remote place – and they had the best pancakes, and half the world thinks so too judging by all the messages people had left on the wall – all talking about the pancakes.

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I found some Irish one’s, so that made me smile – these girls, they have v.good Irish!

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It’s a husband and wife duo that run this kitchen (and live above it); I got some photos of the kitchen, xie xie (thank you :-)) to the woman for letting me! Isn’t it an amazing place?

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And this was the monastery we stayed overnight in…

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We stayed one night then headed back down the mountain in the wee hours of the morning – I thought that was the end of my potential monkey encounters… but OH no… they’d only just begun.

The monkeys are very active in the morning as it turns out. There were big groups of them. By the time I’d realised that we were surrounded I was at the back of the group with the tour guide and local guide, when holy crap this big angry male monkey appeared (he was massive!).

I fear feeling fear in front of animals, because I’m always thinking; ‘they can smell my fear!’

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All I could think was the warnings we’d been given; if they jump on you don’t scream (yeah right!) and don’t show them your teeth (that’s an act of aggression in monkey speak).

The tour guide tried to scare the monkey off with the bamboo sticks, and you know what this monkey did? He paused, took one measured look at the stick, and the man to which it was attached, and seemed to say; ‘I’ll have you!’ and charged back at the man, swiping his hand at the stick, trying to whip it away from the guide!

The guide managed to ‘scare’ the monkey away in the end and I scuttled off down the path. It was pretty scary!

Monkeys (and apes) are so intelligent; there’s a new series on the BBC called Monkey Planet and it highlights some really interesting traits that monkeys and apes have! When I watched it I kept getting flashbacks to the smart, scary, monkeys on the mountain!!