Archive for January, 2010

Toil

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Every so often work demands can converge, ushering in a period of toil. That’s OK, so long as it is not for an extended period. Think of the prime ministers of Ireland and Britain working through two successive nights trying to prevent the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive in the last few days. Think of certain times of the year or month when one’s work demands converge making sleep and eating seem like a luxury. Work is good. Toil isn’t necessarily bad so long as it isn’t constant. Make sure to balance periods of too much work with times for relaxation, serenity, relationships, physical exercise and time out just for you. Decide, in the middle of toil, when you will do these healthy things. Use them as a reward to look forward to after any toil. And if you’re tempted to ignore such balanced activities, necessary for the body, mind and psyche, consider all the dead in a cemetery near you; all those who felt they were an essential cog in the machine!

Plan your day

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Plan your day. Take a sheet of paper. Divide it into half-hourly segments. I write the time segments down the middle of the page. From your diary and/or weekly plan, on the left of your page, write down the most important things you want to achieve today. Then, to the right of the half-hourly segments write down when you will do what. Remember to build in healthy things too: time for breaks, meals, physical exercise, family responsibilities, relaxation. Like the pilot of a plane or captain of a ship, you now have your chart for the day. Sometimes you won’t be able to keep to it. Stuff happens. But you have your plan. Without it, how can you get anywhere?

Take time to manage

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Take time to manage whatever you’re at. If it’s all do, do, do you won’t see the big picture. Taking time out to analyse where you are and where you want to get to is far from a waste of time. It’s smart.

Too much to do…

Monday, January 25th, 2010

If you find yourself with too much to do, take some coloured pens, make a mind map of what you want or need to do, prioritise, then start at the more urgent and important. Ideally, make a daily plan, allotting a time slot to the prioritised items. You’ve now analysed, planned and now can do! Go for it!

Massage

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

When is the last time you had a good massage? We spend so much time in our ‘heads’. Why not treat yourself to a massage? Find someone good and set one up, or even have one, today! Ahhh, bliss…

Something funny

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

No matter what befalls you, always, but always, look for the funny side. If you’re furious about something or somebody, imagine a parody of the situation. Humour puts everything  in perspective. If you can’t see the funny side, you haven’t stood back to see the big picture. Life is too important to be taken seriously!

All shall be well…

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

All shall be well, and all manner of being shall be well.

So said English mystic Julian of Norwich. It’s calming. Reassuring. All shall be well, and all manner of being shall be well. All shall be well, and all manner of being shall be well. Bears repeating, doesn’t it?

If this was my final hour…

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Our lives are knee-deep in mystery. This day is given to us. It may be our last. We breathe. Let us not take that for granted! Of all the habitual things we do, that – breathing – will, alas, one day cease. Within an hour our lives can change forevermore. If this were my final day, how would I spend it? If this were your final day – and it may be – how would you choose to spend yours? We may well continue to do the things we had planned for today. But would our attitude change to anything? Would we have a different perspective?

A Step Into the Dark

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Hello friends!

Welcome to my website. One step forward, two steps back. I set up this website for a different purpose – to help academic writers and editors in getting their books published – but that ambition for a site has had to be parked for the moment. (Although I invite scholars needing help to get their work published to contact me at editor@joearmstrong.ie) So here I am, a writer, finding myself with a blank canvas and a potential intergalactic readership of six billion. Well, sort of…

Nature abhors a vacuum, so I’ve a hunch this site will become something of worth as I take a step into the dark with it.

I used to be a columnist with The Irish Times, which was a great privilege for me. I wrote at least one column a week for that famous newspaper for seven years, and two columns a week for five of those years. One column I wrote, called Man Alive, looked at men’s health. It was subsequently published by Gill & Macmillan in the Common Sense series, entitled: Men’s Health-the Common Sense Approach. I got a real buzz out of that – it was translated into several languages. Imagine my delight, one Christmas Eve to receive some book which I thought I’d been sent to review only to discover it was my own book in Hebrew! Of course, I wasn’t even able to recognise my name on it.

I also self-published a book called Write Way to Stop Smoking. I learned a lot about publishing by doing that. That was launched by the then Irish Minister for Health, Micheal Martin, who introduced the smoking ban in public places in Ireland. My book was widely acclaimed, with many doctors and psychologists, including a leading light in the World Health Organisation, saying very nice things about it. I’m still a journalist and a columnist. I write for Reality and Face Up, two magazines published by the Redemptorist Fathers. I love writing for ‘the Reds’. Gerry Maloney, who edits both magazines, is a delight to work with.

I’d another book published last year. It was my first co-authored book and it was a history of Muckamore Abbey Hospital in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. I’ve also had other books and booklets published. For example, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions commissioned me to write the booklet Workplace Stress in Ireland, which was well received. I’ve written heaps of reports over the years, edited others and I’ve hundreds of published articles. For the past three years I’ve been commissioning books for an academic publisher, as well as writing columns, reports and having a new book published.

I’m currently on the committee of Irish PEN and I’m a member of the AFEPI, the Association of Freelance Editors, Proofreaders and Indexers (not that you’d believe me with the typos I let pass here!). I used to be a school teacher. I spent five happy years teaching at St Bonaventure’s Comprehensive School in Forest Gate in the East End of London. It’s now a Technology College. Michael Wilshaw, the head teacher at that time, did such a good job he was knighted for his services to education.

I’m married and have two children. If you have an academic book that you’d like to have published, send me an email to editor@joearmstrong.ie Drop me a line too if you’d like me to write a column or report or if you need stuff edited. I don’t have heaps of time, but if the column or report interests me you’ll have my attention. I look forward to hearing from you.

Enjoy this moment!

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Now that I’ve deleted hours and hours’ worth of stuff which I’d generated for the origianl purpose of this site, I want to take the bare look off the site by launching into the deep. The best word of the wise I heard in the last year or so was a conversation I struck up with a guy – ah, the wonders of technology – who had taken remote control of my computer, even though I was sitting in the wilds of Meath in Ireland and he was Somewhere In India! God-knows-how but the conversation turned to wisdom. What was the wisest thought he could offer me? ‘Enjoy every moment,’ he said. What a wise pointer, to guide us in this moment, which is the only moment we’ll ever know!