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Life Musings

A birthday to reflect on

So on Wednesday I turned 28 – happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me (no podcast for this one…the royalties would be extortionate never mind my lack of singing ability!)

As I get older – most birthdays become "just another day". I don’t mean that in an ungrateful way. Far from it.

I think the most memorable ones tend to either be on a milestone birthday (16th, 18th, 21st, etc.) or something special with loved ones.

In a weird way this birthday is a milestone, perhaps in a much more low-key and unusual way. This is the first year I felt becoming 30 is within a reasonable grasp.

I’m not having a mid-life crisis although my lack of hair would claim otherwise. 30 is still young. Ah sod it! Age is only a number!

My point is that I’m nowhere near ready to consider a state pension or investing in a timeshare; but today is not my rite of massage at the pub either. So it reiterates the point of making every day of life count.

I’m certainly doing that and I don’t intend to slow down any time soon.

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Life Musings

Reconnect and relax with nature

Enjoyed the good weather this weekend in the UK? If you were in a city like me you missed out. Unlike you, being a former coastal town resident, it’s even better when you connect with nature.

I grew up in Dalgety Bay – a coastal commuter town in West Fife, Scotland where the Fife Coastal path connects it all the way to St Andrews in East Fife and dominating Fife coastal adventures. So many woodlands and beaches to explore while admiring the beautiful views of the Firth of Forth.

Walking along Hopeward Mews – providing you stay away from the radioactive portions – on a summer’s sunset can be a glorious sight. It can be romantic, lovely and powerful to behold.

Even walking along St David’s Harbour, especially on a crisp winter’s evening is amazing. Now being a city body in Glasgow, coming back to my coastal town roots is actually really refreshing. Especially as an antidote to the chaos, hustle and bustle it brings.

During the amazing weather at the Easter weekend, I went on Shanks’ pony, took my digital SLR camera, inhaled the countryside air and witnessed some beautiful views seen between Dalgety Bay and the neighbouring village Aberdour.

Sunshine in the countryside
Sheep in the distance in the sunny countryside
The Firth of Forth in the distance
My favourite spot on “The Avenue”.

Coming here made me feel positive, relaxed, reminiscent of walking along “The Avenue”, as it’s known locally, over the years.

In fact, walking through woodlands also has many benefits too according to various studies. Lowering stress, eliminating fatigue, give anxiety and depression a knockout blow, and even some studies claim it can lower chances of certain cancers (however it’s too early to say conclusively on that last point).

It’s a great, cheap way to exercise your body and especially your mind too. Let’s face it, since it’s mental health awareness week here in the UK, perhaps we should all take the opportunity to reconnect with nature.

Speaking just now I can smell the freshly cut grass along with the trees, the salty sea.

Oh please just take me back there!

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Musings Sport

50 Years of Schumacher

Last month – and while we were away – Michael Schumacher turned 50.

The most successful F1 driver in history: 308 races, 91 wins, 65 pole positions, a career spanning over 20 years and 7 world championships.

He set a lasting impression back in late August 1991 at the Belgian Grand Prix. When the World Wide Web was barely born, Bryan Adams’ Everything I Do was in it’s second of four months domination of the UK single charts and I was a few weeks shy of being 4 months old.

He outclassed his more experienced teammate, Andrea De Cesaris, in qualifying but retired with clutch failure in the first 500 metres of the race. However he was destined for making motorsport history.

Beginning as a fierce rival to three time champion Ayrton Senna until his tragic death at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. Then began his journey to winning seven world titles: two with Benetton in 1994 and 1995; and five successive championships between 2000 and 2004 with Ferrari. Turning a team, at that point, from being a disappointment to a supreme competitive force.

After the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix he retired to take on motorbikes, nearly returned to replace then injured Felipe Massa in 2009 and finally made his return with Mercedes in 2010.

His "second career", while it showed flashes of the old Michael, was a disappointment, retired after the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix and replaced by Lewis Hamilton for 2013.

Tragically, the skiing accident in December 2013 brought everything to a sudden halt. I remember being in an Edinburgh pub when I saw the shocking newsflash.

I don’t have role models – I don’t generally believe in that concept since we all should aspire the best version of ourselves – but Michael was certainly a childhood hero of mine.

I’ve been watching F1 for much of my life – one of my earliest memories was watching practice for the 1994 Spanish Grand Prix on Eurosport.

As a young kid, watching Michael devastating his opposition for many races was awesome. Especially when wet weather was involved – he outclassed everyone. Reinenmeister was a perfect name for him. Just search "1996 Spanish Grand Prix" on YouTube to see what I mean.

Listening to the German and Italian national anthems during the podium ceremony in his Ferrari days became a regular highlight.

Of course there were things I didn’t agree with him on. Trying to drive into his rivals at the 1994 and 1997 championship deciders, deliberating stopping the car during the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix qualifying, and squeezing his former teammate towards the pitwall during the 2010 Hungarian Grand Prix.

For me it demonstrates that he’s like everyone else on this planet…flawed. His weakness was not knowing where the line was between fiercely competitive and unsporting behaviour.

This could also arguably be a weakness of Ayrton Senna but that’s another debate for another time.

On the flipside however, he was a childhood hero of mine because of his determined nature and commitment to achieving his goals. On a pure racing level, his ability to have the aggression and ruthlessness of Senna with the methodical intelligence of 4 time world champion Alain Prost was a killer combination.

Another reason, he is private and values the loved ones around him. Something that is becoming a rarer trait in this social media saturated world.

One important thing that Michael teaches us, especially after his skiing accident and I learnt this as I got older.

We are not invincible. We are not immortal. Just look at Senna and Jim Clark as prime examples.

We have to make the most of life. To create the moments, memories and experiences we can look back on our final days.

Michael also taught me that no matter what the situation throws at you. You can come back and triumph.

His many races starting from the back of the grid and scaling the ladder to victory were prime examples. As well as winning and scoring points in underperforming cars.

While I doubt he will fully recover from his skiing accident, his progress to date shows he does not give up without a fight.

Keep fighting Michael.

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Life Musings

Rediscovering the old, discovering the new

1st of July 2018. New chapter, fresh start, fresh hope for the future and when I left the past firmly behind.

Yeah I’m being lazy – shamelessly copy and pasting my previous post’s opening paragraph. Because I can.

Another important thing that happened since becoming an adopted Weegie is discovering new interests and rediscovering old ones.

Going to the gym has been a rediscovery for me. This certainly helped me lose weight when I lived in Manchester back in 2017. Going for 2am workouts were a staple in my schedule.

Ever since moving to Glasgow I wanted to take up a sport. I have done in recent weeks: Badminton. One of the few sports I was actually modestly competent at during school. Nearly 15 years later I started to play it as an adult.

My first session was horrendous but recently it clicked for me and I’m looking forward to improving my game, while meeting great people.

Fully discovering astronomy has been another big one for me recently. I recently attended a lecture given by Dallas Campbell, it was fascinating to know the incredible technological development and vast requirements needed to do space travel. Wondering what’s out there, admiring the beautiful stars at night above us further fuels the flame of curiosity.

I also undertook a sound engineering course in 2018 and for the first time in years and years I actually enjoyed being in a classroom environment.

I’ve also rediscovered podcasting – both as a listener and a creator. Now I’m working on my next steps, I’ll share more details in due course. The same can be said for blogging.

I even rediscovered languages – starting to learn Spanish, German and Russian again. Bueno, gut, Хорошо.

In short, moving to a new city can rejuvenate yourself and help discover yourself. Of course this doesn’t mean it won’t continue. Far from it, I hope 2019 will take it further.

Feliz Año Nuevo, Frohes Neues Jahr, С новым годом, Happy New Year. I hope your 2019 will be loving, prosperous and memorable. More content will be coming to Hansen’s Corner during 2019. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter to get the latest updates.

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Life Musings

An unintended social media detox

1st of July 2018. New chapter, fresh start, fresh hope for the future and when I left the past firmly behind.

Soon as the Glasgow chapter began I noticed one important development – I subconsciously went into an unplanned social media detox on my private accounts. Until Christmas Eve.

“So what?” You might ask (and rightly so), especially when there are more pressing things to be concerned about.

Social media detoxes have been important for me despite not reaching the “posting my breakfast, lunch and supper” level. I did it for a week in 2016, two weeks in early 2017 and one month in late 2017.

I found out that life was vastly better without it.I’m not alone with seeing the implications of regular use. Many studies conducted over the last few years point to mental health side effects. University of Melbourne for example found signs of depression, anxiety and sleeping problems with regular social media use. Similarly with the University of Missouri.

CDC in the US claims that it possibly contributed towards the 25% increase in suicides since 1999.

Despite the unusually small sample size, University of Copenhagen’s research found that Facebook envy can develop through regular use.

Even the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health and Young Health Movement determined that for 14-24 year olds, out of five social media platforms (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram). Instagram was the most negative influence for mental wellbeing – and contributing towards bullying.In their defense Instagram, Facebook and YouTube have implemented mental wellbeing features into their mobile apps.

Don’t get me wrong, social media, despite the flack it gets, has been equally a force for good. It built businesses and industries, made people famous and overthrown corrupt regimes.

Most importantly, it’s allowed us to connect beyond borders in a way never done previously.

All I’m saying is that like alcohol or fast food – in moderation – social media is fine. It’s more important to live in the present time and environment, especially when we don’t know if today is our last.

Maybe I should fish out the Nokia 1100 – I feel another detox coming on.

Feliz Año Nuevo, Frohes Neues Jahr, С новым годом, Happy New Year. I hope your 2019 will be loving, prosperous and memorable. More content will be coming to Hansen’s Corner during 2019. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter to get the latest updates.