The Effort:Reward

Lifestyle, Special

As we become evermore consumerist alongside our undesirable work patterns, we now find any such means of gratification to justify our effort. ‘I’m working really hard I should not be suffering on this bus just to get to work?‘*, ‘I’ve ate healthy all day surely I’m due a break?* and finally ‘I’ve worked every day for ‘x’ straight weeks now and I’ve not had time to enjoy myself‘*

*solution


* buy a nice car

*go for a nice meal

*book a holiday


These are all instant fixes that we can apply to ourselves for hard work, most of which will provide us with enough satisfaction to then carry on striving for even better or at least be able to justify our hard work when it gets tough.

When it comes to our bodies or one could say any other entity to which we give our time besides work, are we rewarded for the effort? and more importantly do we reward ourselves more than we need to? If we replaced ‘reward’ with ‘motivate’ in this context it would imply that we are in turn requiring another ‘motive’ to continue as opposed to being rewarded with ‘praise’ Are we so weak in our pursuits of better living that we need someone or something at every hurdle screaming ‘good job’ whilst everyone else running the race is already at the finish watching you revel in that first set of hurdles. I have this image of training a dog, conditioning them to associate their effort with treats and then simultaneously trying to achieve the exact same goal with nothing. Are we just jumping through the hoops of our own egos or do we actually want to see ourselves succeed?

My point is one of accepting that there will be hard times that can only be pacified by an instilling drive to continue and not to regress, but more importantly acknowledging whether you are actually reaping the rewards from your efforts. If the answer is no, do not reward yourself, find the reason why you haven’t seen any progress and stick at the things that bring it. Just killing yourself without having a plan of what you want to achieve or suddenly deciding that you deserve a reward already is just blind and redundant energy wasted. By giving in and rewarding yourself for just trying you are essentially celebrating your loss, a bi-product of having ‘reward’ at every vulnerable turn. Celebrating your progress tastes so much sweeter than the taste of over-indulgence.

The ratio of effort:reward is the same as energy:results, use your energy tactfully and the results which you deserve, not that which you think you are entitled, and this will be graced to you tenfold. If there was a medal for jumping the first hurdle our necks would be too heavy to surmount the last.

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Persistence & Plateaus

Lifestyle, Special

Persist- To go on resolutely or stubbornly in spite of opposition, importunity, or warning.

Being persistent is a trait that can go both ways, we can either persist at defying the resistance we receive or continue to buckle under the same pressures that keep us confined to this forbidding continuum of resistance. A norm which is one forthcoming on the now millennial immediacy of all things rewarded, not earned. With every meal we do not have to cook, pin we need no longer enter and journeys we can take as passengers rather than drivers, is this convenience in time serving us well or do we now only sought after the most convenient appropriations and pursuits?

As a race we are becoming evermore persistently lazy; effort being our biggest opposition, our bodies reflecting our importunity to the easier option, and health, inevitably, the warning. We do not attribute the physical and psychological impediments of working in fields non-conducive to our happiness, nor do we anticipate how much our mind and body has to operate synergistically alongside our Neolithic traditions. It is only until we burnout that we then have to justify the NEED for a break. So when we are working on ourselves, why then is it so easy to justify a BREAK, to lose focus, to be distracted? It seems that no matter how much down time we award ourselves, it is never enough, and so the time to which we focus on working, whether that be for someone else, drags and our own time, dwindles.

The entirely resolute and stubborn approaches to downtime occupying those that simply cannot commit or see the simplest of tasks through without giving up is impressively persistent, proof that we can be persistent, even if it is persistently quitting. So why do we quit? What distracts us? Is it the fear of failing and being judged? Or if there even is a reward, does it reflect the time spent doing it? You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Technology has granted us with a facility of instant gratification, a cyclical navigation of short cuts and queue jumps to the ultimate destination of contentment. Does getting there faster only gives us more time to revel in the superficial glory of feel good chemicals? A depressing overcast brightened up by a passing sunshine of serotonin showers. Chasing this light from the now shadowy pits of only known similar feats, even more time to think of your next ‘best?’ The suckling appetite for faster turnover, more contentment and even bigger success.  The next best unhappiness or all time boredom? The next best date or the next best break-up? The need for constant entertainment and stimulus, entitlement and appreciation, self worth and in turn self pity. Plateaus.

Plateau

a region of little or no change in a graphic representation

: a relatively stable level, period, or condition
So although people consider a plateau to be a negative thing, plateauing literally means being stationary, but when you’re someone who’s always looking to improve, being stationary may as well be going backwards.
How do I pass through a plateau?
There are more potential outcomes in a game of chess than there are atoms in the universe. When two people reach a stalemate, it is a reflection of how two potentially winning outcomes impede on the other, ‘I cannot win, therefore they cannot either’
Are you playing your own game or is someone playing for you? Are you making the same moves and bringing on the same outcome? Are you playing with the intention of moving forward or are you reluctant to risk leaving what you have behind? Whatever potentially winning outcome you are seeking to follow right now, improve it until it no longer brings any benefit to you and then start again with each calculated move at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

Conflicts of Interest

Lifestyle, Special

“Jack of all trades, master of none” We are all familiar with this idiom, an individual to which has a broad aptitude for various abilities , though an intrigue with all may come to restrict them from mastering the craft of only one. This is not confined to sport; languages, instruments, and every other skill-set that equips us with a platform for expression and creativity, have all the means of further mastering our own craft by the knowledge we expose ourselves to. It is this exposure which determines how we piece together our own understanding, though it is commonplace for two different people to achieve the same goals whilst veering on a different path…

We live in a densely populated area with a contrastingly vast spectrum of people, each bearing different skill-sets to the point of them seeming obscure and tumultuous alongside our own. It is easy to distance ourselves with those on a different path knowing its gravity, yet it is crucial to understand the direction that they are going in order to to navigate your own. While this void of obscurity is made more manageable by our interactions, things in common and perceived duty of politeness, is it this social middle ground which is controlling our creativity and curbing our crafts?

If you want to learn how to play guitar you wouldn’t ask someone who plays a violin, so why are we all too open to the accept the ideals of people with no constructive bearing or aptitude for the skill-set of your aspirations. This is prevalent at every level of corporate influence whereby the propulsion of targets and goals –you MUST hit x or y by **/**/**– are ushered beyond that of a single constituent, every number must contribute in conjunction with those on the same path in order to succeed. But what if you do not share the aspirations of those numbers? each feat being a thousands grains of sand into the hour/day/year-glass of someone else, your own time to which still bleeds whilst you console and reward yourself with vacuous comforts…

My current conflicts of interest are all dependable on being able to practise each at a sufficient capacity; energy, productivity and creativity being the ingredients to which form this elixir of DOING –at least something about it — but with any potion comes its time sensitivities, side effects and cynicism. If there was a magic pill for creativity and we could all go about our business with the greatest intentions and unequivocal focus, would we pursue our aspirations or would we still be conflicted by the dichotomy of immediate comfort and distant dreams.  By using all energy in one area would in doubt compromise the other. My advice would be to start by putting an hour aside to each thing that you aspire to do without the influence of anything else but your own rationale, then see whether it serves you any such purpose. If that purpose is enjoyment, keep doing it, if that enjoyment is not short lived, make it a routine. If it brings you greater satisfaction make it a hobby. If an hour turns into two, a hobby turns into a passion, and a passion turns into an aspiration, be aware that everything you do and everyone that you give your time to will in turn have bearing on it, whether or not it is conducive to its success, tick tock.

 

 

Earning yourself a break or just taking one?

Lifestyle, Special

-4KG down The Damage

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…If anything, as I’ve always felt obliged to go to the gym, I began to question why I’d conditioned myself to be autonomously motivated in this regard… most of the rewards to which are those under the surface of superficial reasons why people obsess over their bodies… Even more importantly could it eventually be undone? Well the answer I came to learn would be NO… I would not be able to undo my constant hunger to improve and expose myself to experiences that would take me out of my comfort zone at the expense of time, time that could be spent climbing any such ladder of my choosing. It has been useful to step out of the consuming bubble of comfort that we all surround ourselves with when we are unsure of the very extent of our potential. This no-brainer progression for me would be expanding my social media to bring in more traffic and in turn clients, though it would be misleading of me to post training videos that I would not be doing myself, knowing that it would only create a void between myself and those wishing to better themselves. I do not regret refusing to be a passenger to expectation nor do I want to protest the extent of my will to the point of arrogance, but I do plan on being even better this time round.

 
After seeing how little my body has changed despite literally throwing it in the deep end, I have only consolidated just how hard I have worked for it and equally how long it would take to undo. This is a sound enough justification of being confident in your decisions beforehand, to which the outcome will only pave a more definite path of understanding. I don’t have any sympathy for those that aren’t prepared to take a leap of faith for themselves and be confident in their justification of decisions; both potentially destructive or surprisingly constructive.
For me every trivial but necessary decision that is conducive to self improvement is a mere accessory to the grandeur of success. Life is too short to stress about the outcome of your decisions when they seem to detract from your contentment, to the point of it sucking away all of your energy, we often need to take a step back and understand that a break is sometimes necessary.
Before I left for Belize I’d never looked better and the way it made me feel was something I would love to make happen for anyone that truly wishes it for themselves. Wanting more for yourself and pursuing a better situation despite how saturated such means of doing so may seem, there will always be people that question your decisions either way. Judging what is actually good for you and your own questioning is equally as important as theirs. I think my initial point was identifying the fact that it’s ok to be sceptic about doing something different, whether it is with yourself, your situation, body, mistakes to which should not instil a revelling such a revelling in self pity.
Ultimately I do believe that we are entitled a break from the expectations of our decisions; the control of limitations, the excess of imagining a better life for yourself and then actually taking steps to make it work. For anyone looking at doing exactly that I challenge you to at least see what is the worst thing that can happen.
This is my first challenge…
Take a picture of yourself today no matter what you look like now or your experience with fitness, look at it and ask yourself whether you could be better.
If the answer is yes, prove everyone wrong and do something about it…
We are all waiting to see what you can do 👊

Jake

 

Crocodiles of Belize

Travel

Although there are freshwater species of Crocodile residing in Belize, The American or Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) is the most common species of Crocodile that can be found in its surrounding Cayes and Mangrove communities. They hide in the shallow waters of once undisturbed islands edging their way to the mainland, though they have been known to cross neighbouring waters of their Australian cousins in search for food. Crocodiles are highly territorial, making their proximity with humans one that could be both a threat to their sustenance and an asset. They have been known to travel as far as one hundred and fifty metres to each territory when their own becomes threatened or scarcely populated, making their nomadic habits unpredictable to track.

While there have been few documented cases of Crocodile attacks on this side of Central America, with both the planned expansion of property and an insouciant attitude with feeding, one could expect this to change. Tour guides and local fishermen often approach the matter of Crocodiles with an attitude lending well into their own interests than that of the consequences, one to cultivate a potentially volatile outcome. On the flip side there have been cases of larger adults visit neighbouring docks of Caye Caulker without succumbing to their meat-eating disposition, though their new intrigue should not always be labelled nonchalantly.

Due to over-exploited populations of the Morelet’s crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii) in the earlier 20th Century, Crocodile densities in the Northern river systems of Belize came to a prompt decline, urging the reintroduction of juvenile species to areas most affected. The Saltwater Crocodiles may not share the same concern as the once listed endangered species of mainland Belize, but their tendency to settle in alluvial waters could make future weather extremes problematic. Most of the crocs sighted during a survey conducted by Placencia based NGO CRC (Crocodile Research Coalition) were juveniles, whether this could reflect a rigorous pursuit of larger adults or their ability to remain undetected is hard to say.

I spoke briefly to the co-ordinator, Miriam, who kindly invited me onto the night survey alongside local school students, in which she faiths the success of Crocodile conservation firmly on education. It was clear to see that there was plenty of retained knowledge amongst a staggered age range of students, a knowledge to which expanded my own awareness of these prehistorical beasts. One detail that did spark further interest with further wellbeing of these animals is their enriched resonance with Mayan culture and their symbolism with the expansion of consciousness.

The Island of Doggos

Special, Travel

You’re never further than ten feet of a dog on Caye Caulker, which makes it hard for tourists to get down Middle Street. This does not seem like it has always been an amicable debate, which is why there are a lot of animal shelters and the like on the island. Tourism especially on somewhere like Caye Caulker comes with its own range of negative implications, though I do believe tourism has come to feed a much kinder attitude toward pets. Observing this over the last few weeks has allowed me to gauge not only the disposition with strays and unruly pets, but the contrast between local pet owners and people that pass.

Petting a dog is not something we consider to avoid doing when we see one approaching, though the expanse of dogs getting more attention than that of their owners is one resulting in their new found ‘independence’ You could be stood at a bar in Caye Caulker and see dogs walking in and out just as casually as you would yourself, whether they come home depends on how well their night is going. Amongst the dive shops and restaurants that litter the sandy streets of Caye Caulker, the animal shelters that tuck in between each establishment house an array of different dogs just waiting for a new owner. Whether or not the dogs I have seen have been mistreated or just want to use the new opportunity of open spaces, it is commonplace to see at least one bolt down the road just before it is about to rain.

I spoke briefly with a few volunteers from the animal shelters and was informed that adoptions of these animals were certainly on the rise. One of the locals that invited me round to his house, showed me his dog that he had rescued from the animal shelter a few weeks before and was shocked to see the state it was in. It was covered in that many fleas but was too exhausted to itch or scratch, a skin condition had left a coat of blistered sores and infections. The owner assured me how he had now managed to get antibiotics and all the relevant ointments to treat the dog, to which I had seen improvements already the following week. It is great to see how the attitudes towards animals in poverty have improved, as the cost to feed and house a dog for some people may be more of a burden than the initial blessing of companionship.

Shark and Ray Alley

Special, Travel

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 13.28.53This was one of my first experiences in the water with both Nurse Sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum) and (Dasyatidae) Rays. It was extraordinary to watch each species entwining between the next as though they were the same. These animals may not have always been so harmonious together, just as they would not have been so accustomed to humans and intrigued by boat engines, making their shift in nature one worth noting.

The Southern, Caribbean and illusive Eagle Ray are all species that can be found patrolling the waters of Caye Caulker, though the Nurse Shark is usually the most common species to be seen in this area. Sharks are nocturnal, which makes their new jovial turn of character one that displaces their natural instincts and makes them even more susceptible to more forthright ‘predators’ They have short, abrasive teeth that grind and grit rather than puncture and do not share the same dexterous regard as other species of Shark such as the Reef or Bull Shark. It is easy to confuse them with a Catfish, though it is recommended that you leave your hand in its mouth until it lets go as opposed to taking it out suddenly, minus a few fingers. Nurse Sharks hunt mainly fish, though this shift in behaviour as nocturnal hunters will undoubtedly make them less operative as predators and more attractive as prey.

The Rays of Caye Caulker are probably the most majestic class of marine species circling the depths of the island, though their contact with idle tourists has paved way for a much sandier path. They can often be found half buried at the seabed with their barbed tail covered and sensory organs protruding just above, a transcending shift of evolution, one favouring the nap as a key component of the hunt. They stalk mainly Crustaceans and other shadow dwellers that hide between rocks and under boats, which is why they are often found guarding the shallow waters of the docks late at night. While it is highly unlikely for a Ray to attack a human, their new congeniality with tourists may not always remain this way when the petting boundaries become tainted. Tourists must remember that both of these animals are not to be handled flippantly, they are highly capable predators who live in hostile environments and do not hesitate to dispel threats.

This reoccurring debate of human interaction is one that seems to precede most of the topics at hand. It is essential to look retrospectively on our behaviour in environments that are dependable on certain species survival, in order to ascertain a longevity of not only the reef and surrounding habitats but those affording our own.

The Issue with Lionfish

Travel

While there are a number of both exotic and endangered species of fish within the neighbouring waters of Caye Caulker, The Pterois Antennata do not receive half the same compassion. Due to their destructive nature of local species, avid fisherman seek to cull local population of Lionfish every March during the now two year running ‘Lionfish Derby’ It is an event that comes with just as much a competitive spirit as it does a principled one, though subjectively it does not seem so when there is a beautiful fish impaled on a spear. This debate is one that lends into the argument of certain species that are protected due to their commercial value to tourism and threat to humans as opposed to their contribution and place within the ecosystem.

Lionfish are fascinating animals to observe in the water, though too much intrigue will almost undoubtedly be met with much lesser a courteous introduction. Lionfish are able to produce venom that can be displayed through their needle like dorsal fins, stinging humans as well as other animals in the water. The extent of their venom can cause humans to become very ill, cause respiratory difficulties and severe nausea at the best of times. Due to this fact Lionfish are killed both recreationally and vigilantly, protecting various species of both ecologically and commercially important fish, invertebrates in reefs, mangroves and seagrass habitats. There have been cases of fatalities from Lionfish venom, although this rarity comes with the extent of exposure and stupidity of the curious swimmer.

Lionfish can reproduce from 2 to 15,000 eggs during mating, making their populace a big issue for areas affected by their veracious grazing and predatory aggression. Local restaurant’s and the like on Caye Caulker have now endorsed Lionfish on their menus in a bid to assist efforts of their growing numbers at the expense of marine life, though it does taste more like Lobster than it does a fish. Their appearance may not be relative to their taste, though the Lionfish does not have scales, has more of a rubbery than slimy texture and requires effective removal of their spines before eating.

The theme of marine conservation is one to appear frequently throughout the subject matter of this project, though the matter of Lionfish is one that presents a question to the table of both tourist and ecological justification. If the parameters of the food chain would somehow shift in the near future, exotic species being at the forefront of predatorily behaviour, would tourists come to turn their attention to their disposal or revel in their beauty?

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Camp Life

Travel

Our camp is situated on the north side of the island in a remote area of the mangroves, our only neighbours being salt water crocodiles and the expanse of marine life that visit or reside under our dock. In addition to all things to see underwater, there are just as many sights from above, replacing Pigeons with Pelicans and Helicopters for Hawks. Living is very basic on camp, so we occasionally relax on the South when we deserve a break from the sand flies and mosquitos. We don’t have access to running water or internet which is as much a blessing as it is an inconvenience, though there is some consolation waking up every morning in paradise. We have a dog, Fury, who is more like a mascot than a Pitbull Terrier, amongst our Chickens who probably make more noise and a Cockerel, Trump, who gets up extra early to rehearse his broken squawk. The mother hen has recently had a few chicks but due to nature’s cruel disposition, Trump has been denied full custody on moral grounds.

While camp life is primitive, it has made me appreciate that which I may take for granted, whilst providing an indication of the things I could probably live without. This does not apply for my latest exhibition of culinary genius, mastery of two ways to not cook rice; burnt or al dente. Another attempt came in the form of channelling my Neanderthal heritage, spearing fish from the end of the dock with a Hawaiian sling, though a lot of those residing under the boat are juveniles. The tourists that come to visit us on fishing trips and the like always have a conversation brewing; whether that be about the neighbouring mangroves or how many pull-ups they can do in front of their wives. We let them use our barbecue, lit using coconut husks that litter the surrounding trail, and in return we are left the ‘scraps’ of Lobster and various exotic fish. These kinds of visits definitely don’t go amiss especially when it’s delivered to my new address, which doesn’t have a post box but you can feed a few fish whilst you’re there.

 

1.1.18 Landing in Belize

Travel

As I was about to embark on my journey to Belize, both anticipation and dread added to the surplus of weight I carried on my shoulders. Although I had been sceptical about my arrival at Philip Goldson; the possibly of a lost bag, reluctant customs officer or an absent transfer, arriving on Caye Caulker was as much a breeze as the one that greeted me at the airport exit.

Making our way through the rural areas of Belize gave me a better insight to the contrast of basic local living and tourist luxury, a matter not to have any effect on how well received tourists are to the renowned charm of laidback Belizean culture. Following a short journey from the airport to Belize City, myself and Dagny were accompanied by two familiar faces that she had previously met on the island, a comforting reminder of just how easy it is to make new friends out here. I loaded my bags onto the ferry and all previous scepticism had completely subsided.

I still had another stretch of boat rides to reach camp on the north side, but stepping out in the midday heat of January and across onto the first boat was the point to which I knew I’d made a great decision. For every wave further from the stresses of the city was one closer to nature and its expanse of living things, the mangroves being one of the communities once untouched, now yet another wing on the butterfly effect of our ecosystem. These are issues I will cover throughout the duration of my time here, and something making me evermore cynical of tourist influx, lending into a much larger debate of our intrusion of nature. All that was left for me to do was take my first step into the white sand and bury with them, the disposition of what I know to be the obliviousness of our culture.