Matt

‘We’re all priests’: Christian campaigner Matt Currey

Please don’t call me an evangelical. It’s become such a tainted term in America (where ‘white evangelicals’ overwhelmingly voted for current President) that Tony Campolo, Shane Claiborne and other church leaders are rebranding themselves Red Letter Christians. Many Bibles print what Jesus said in red letters, hence the name and intention to focus on his words.

In the UK, evangelical hasn’t been so synonymous with conservative politics. Back in 2013, when I first worked for Christian Aid and later Tearfund, I met Christians serious about evangelism (getting people into church and into heaven) alongside social justice and inclusion, not either/or. One of those friends I made is Matt Currey. His Twitter bio is the kind I’d usually mock and avoid (‘Husband, Parent, Son, Disciple’) but it reflects his sincerity towards a life of love, relationships and community.

Matt works for the campaigns team at Tearfund, helping Christians and churches to think different, live more simply and speak up for change, especially focused now on combatting climate change that risks reversing global development. For Matt, that change starts in his pocket: ‘I have a Fairphone, the world’s first ethical smartphone. I like how the makers looked at an everyday object and thought “how can this be done differently?” It’s a vision that says it doesn’t have to be done this way.’

His evangelical upbringing focused on Christianity as personal salvation. It was, as is often the way, a life-changing volunteer trip to Kenya in his early 20s that broadened out his faith ‘It opened my world view. Early in the trip I was sitting with my hosts, hearing their stories and how their life was different from mine. These were people who didn’t have access to water, education – what I took for granted and even resented sometimes.’

‘And yet they were on a pursuit for life and joy amidst challenge. It was very inspiring.’

You can see on Matt’s blog how he lives out his own pursuit for life and joy. On his birthday last year, Matt started a year-long celebration of being 40 in 40 ways. The project is broken up into 10 new experiences, 10 challenges, 10 journeys and 10 creations. Eight months in, he’s watched tennis at Wimbledon with his daughter, started a workplace music club, written an album and next month is hosting a day gathering on Soulfulness.

Matt in a team meeting during his fancy dress week
Matt in a team meeting during his fancy dress week

Friends and family have supported Matt by donating to his week-long dressing-up and giving advice. ‘I’d previously curated 40 nine-day journeys as a work project, but it became work-driven. 40 in 40 is an opportunity to do something significant and intentional, to bring more life and carve out an intentionality for things I’ve not had the confidence or time for before.’

‘An old lecturer told me: “Is this a driven thing or a life-giving thing? Be kind to yourself, be mundane.”’ For his bigger challenges, holding a fundraising gig for the Refugee Support Network back in November and now organising the Soulfulness day, there’s been ‘a joy a tension between the stress, the anticipation and the purpose of what I’m doing.’

Welcoming people and bringing them together is always close to Matt’s purpose or vocation (‘grace’ and ‘forgiveness’ are the other Christian buzzwords that come up in our chat). He’s been a Youth and Community worker, has a theology degree, works for a Christian charity and leads worship with his guitar at a West London church. It’s a template that often ultimately leads to one job. So do people expect him to become a Vicar? ‘If we genuinely believe we’re all priests and all have a vocation to put faith into practise, does priesthood always mean ordination [and becoming a Vicar]? There’s value in our everyday lives as priesthood.’

Matt performing at his first open mic night
Matt performing at his first open mic night

Of course his current job is putting the theology background to good use. Matt’s a member of one political party and knows his colleagues, who share the same Christian faith, are members and voters of all the rest. ‘It helps that you unpick and deconstruct your faith at theology college. This makes me want to seek and understand, not to rush into justice and judgement’.

Matt admits he shies away from conflict, but I’m always inspired by his eternally optimistic activism that says the world must be different and the church has to put itself at the forefront of that change. He’s proudly evangelical about social justice as much as salvation: ‘I’m not afraid to challenge and expose where faith is not engaging with the community…. There’s a fullness of the Gospel in our relationship with creation, God and others.’

You can read more about Matt’s 40 celebrations on his blog and follow him @MattCurrey. At the end of March, he’s taking part in the Tearfund Mean Bean Challenge.

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#TacheTalk: Twelve Months On (Part 4)

Last Movember, I started #TacheTalk, a blog speaking to different men about their lives, health and happiness. Here’s the fourth and final of part of my catch-up with 26(ish) of the original 30 guys finding out what’s changed and challenged them over the last year.

Boaz

Boaz

When he moved back to Australia, Boaz started both a long-distance teaching degree and a business. ‘It’s been challenging moving from a busy office in London to learning and working alone from home most days. But I’ve had amazing support from people both professionally and personally, especially my brother and Jasmin, my business partner and wife.’

‘Our online florists Chivalry & Delivery is growing much slower than I’d like. We don’t yet have enough orders to make it sustainable in the long-term. It feels like we’ve got many other things right, and we’re constantly getting great feedback, but honestly I don’t know which way it will go.’

That business experience is central in Boaz’s clear hopes for the next year: ‘Start a family. A context of community for my work. A growing a profitable business, or not at all. A better sense of the role of teaching and the direction I’d like to take it.’

 

Charlie

Charlie

Charlie has changed jobs twice this year. Now he’s a branch manager for a wholesaler, opening a new Essex store in 2017. ‘It’s keeping me busy and sometimes I’m up working til 2am. But I’m looking forward to what’s ahead. It’ll be rewarding and worthwhile when we’re open.’

‘I’m inspired by winning, whether that’s securing a sales deal or having a good day. I get a good feeling from it in general, like Charlie Sheen.’ He hopes to move out of home and in with a friend by March, but hasn’t got any plans to be ‘wifed off’.

 

tom

Tom

After June’s EU referendum, freelance designer Tom lost a key client in France. ‘This was a major blow to me, as I’d already done lots of fun and exciting projects through them. It’s forced me to look further afield and find work closer to home.’

‘I’ve recently started design work on a local business app which is a new and challenging project for me. The key to success in something that is new is finding time to learn, being patient even if it means failing and most importantly the will to collaborate.’

‘I’m inspired by fellow designers. You can draw on so much when working together as a team to drive a project forward to new heights. Seeing a connection between two or three people come together and produce something is very satisfying. I never stop questioning a project, which allows me to continue to develop and push boundaries.’

 

Joey

Me, Joey

My work friend Ben lead a #TacheTalk with me last December. Last week he passed out from his Navy training and in September followed my lead to be an Attitude magazine Real Bodies model.

Like last Christmas, I know I need to look for a new job and know I can’t stay at home. I continually struggle to feel I’m worth enough, which is an easy feeling to have when you’re doing a part-time maternity cover role.

This year I’ve been inspired by unapologetic people who proudly use their voice and put themselves out there in every way. For three months I saw an LGBT-specific counsellor, who helped me give myself permission to strip back other people’s expectations and control more of my life. Even though my context looks very similar right now to last year, I have changed. I’ve found what I want to blog about and started doing it, ran a 10k, dated someone, been on my first holiday with friends and put myself in new LGBT spaces.

And if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll already know what my needs for 2017 are: a permanent job, a new home and a boyfriend.

What’s changed for the other guys I chatted with? Read part 1, part 2 and part 3.

Ian Sanders

Ian Sanders: ‘There is passion and power in our stories’

I asked Ian whose story inspires him. He looks and thinks, with the kind of excited energy I’m usually still conserving on the sofa at this time on a Friday morning.

‘Do you know what I’m going to say?’ he asks with a knowing look. I really don’t. Perhaps his Dad? The late grandfather we share as cousins? The rather handsome duo who run Barlow and Fields, the coffee shop we’re in?

‘The story that really fires me up is my own story. It’s a story of growth, survival, renewal. Our stories define us and learning from my own story has given me tremendous strength.’ Ian acknowledges at first it might sound a narcissistic response, but it’s one that’s heartfelt. He has something to share and a story I wanted to know more about.

Ian Sanders spent his early career working in broadcast media, quickly rising from a teenage volunteer at BBC Essex to working in music television and managing a radio studio. In 2000, he became a freelancer years before wi-fi and meet-ups made it normal and less isolating. He’s written books about the transition, but when we chatted in October he told me a different story: a tale of stress, depression and a breakdown that prompted this huge change in his working life.

‘At the end of 1990s I had – on the face of it – made it. I was managing director of a media company, I was out for lunch and dinner in Soho all the time, I was earning good money, I was living the dream!’, he says, describing a world where they’d all be in the Marylebone office at 11.30pm on a Friday, drinking M&S wine while playing Beat the Intro. But as more and more work built up on his desk, the culture at work became toxic where ‘no-one was looking after Ian’, he says conscious of the lump in his throat. He was meeting people like Tony Blair, Take That and the other pop stars who came through the radio studio, but cracks were starting to show.

Back home Ian was suffering from months and months of sleepless nights, as London Underground rebuilt the tube station platform next to his bedroom wall. On top of his workplace stress, he had major sleep disruption from the nocturnal construction works. ‘I didn’t have a hard hat on’, he says, suggesting that pun might be too corny to use.

Ian hit breaking point. When his GP suggested a course of antidepressants, he decided instead to change his life and quit his job, although continued working for the company as a consultant. It adds a fuller truth to his first book Leap!, published in 2007, that presented freelancing as an exciting, proactive escape from a corporate world. Today he’s comfortable sharing the real reason. Ian’s job had been making him ill – that’s why he quit to go freelance. ‘Sometimes it takes time. I don’t want to pin it all on age. In my 20s I had my success, in my 30s my struggles and in my 40s the dots have joined together.’

Now his own job description is just three words: storyteller, explorer and pathfinder. He’s spoken at the Do Lectures, takes clients on fuel safaris around Soho to help their career and leads storytelling workshops at the BBC. Recently he found those threads bound together in his attic, more specifically the 1980s inter-railing scrapbook he made as a student.

‘This scrapbook is the articulation of me, and my creative streak. I look back at this photo of me camping in Venice, and have no memory of seeing it before. And the blister I had removed in Munich, there’s a funny story there’. Alongside the physical pathfinding and fun of growing up in the 80s was some darkness; starting university on antidepressants, doing too much, struggling to cope with the effects of his Mum’s poor health. ‘Stories make you who you are. We share them and shine a light on the outside world. We’re defined by them, the shadows and shade as well as the light.’  Just then, the shop’s awning comes down and shades over our table, giving me another corny pun to use.

Today Ian is rooted in his stories, enjoying life with his wife and two sons in our beautiful hometown Leigh-on-Sea, where he helped launch community newspaper Trawler. ‘A sense of place is really important in my life, to find me.’ That’s why he chose Barlow and Fields to meet in, a coffee shop ‘a bit like Cheers’, instead of the 20 other cafés he walked past to get here. Without trying, he proves it is the coffee shop where everyone knows your name. He says hello to Kevin, recommends an iPlayer show to the owner and instantly reacts when a child falls off the bench, eager to help.

Ian with his inter-railing scrapbook
Ian with his inter-railing scrapbook

There’s two ideas our chat left me with to be rooted in myself. Ian keeps a ‘Good Times’ list in his notebook, and reads it out: the feeling he gets after going for a run, listening to Morrissey, going to the beach, making his wife laugh. The Good Times list reminds him that success isn’t financial or about status but living the life you want to live. ‘One year I came home from my accountants, it had been a disappointing year commercially. But then my wife reminded me, ‘you said it was one of the best years of your life!’ I‘ve come to learn that sometimes it’s about celebrating those little things in life that give you so much pleasure.’

And in his Do Lecture, Ian suggested ‘ask your eight year old you for advice.’ I’m currently looking for a new job, but I’m not sure the eight year old me who wanted to be a vet and run a sweet shop on Sundays would be much help for career advice. ‘That’s just a number,’ Ian reassures me. ‘Ask your eight year old self. Ask your eighteen year old self,’ as he proved with his scrapbook. Very often our passions and desires are there in our childhood ready to uncover and reinstall. For Ian, that was moving away from media management back to being creative every working day. It’s refreshing to realise it doesn’t always have to be our older, presumed wiser-selves wistfully talking to our past. Younger-selves are great at advice too.

As we leave and I take a photo, Ian’s innate creative eye is wide open. ‘Where do you want me, by the blue door? Good job it’s a day I’m feeling happy!’ And I remember it’s World Smile Day which, like the blister in Munich, is one story we’ll have to share another day.

You can read Ian’s blog posts on his website and Medium and follow him on Twitter @IanSanders.

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#TacheTalk: Twelve Months On (Part 3)

Last Movember, I started #TacheTalk, a blog speaking to different men about their lives, health and happiness. Here’s the third of part of my catch-up with the original thirty guys, finding out what’s changed and challenged them over the last year.

Will

Will

This year my brother has listened to me worry too much about my work and love life while always buying the drinks. You might have read about his springtime wedding to Mark in The Times of London. Next year, they’re getting a puppy.

 

robin

Robin

A few months ago, Robin’s travels took him to America. He found more geocaches in just two days than he had in five years of geocaching put together. Robin’s also tried speed dating a few times, which has helped reduce his shyness.

‘I have this passionate drive to do the right thing. I’m not sure where it comes from or why it’s so strong at the moment. There’s only so many trips you can go on your own before it starts not being fun, so a partner in crime is my biggest wish for the next year.’

 

Dave

Dave

Right now, Dave is on a long holiday in Asia. He ditched the commute from Hampshire and moved back to London where he continues to work for Christian Aid. ‘My job is challenging me but it’s very rewarding. I’m surrounded by inspiring colleagues.’

 

James

James

James is registering CATS (Cancer Awareness in Teenagers and Young People Society), the student group he founded as a charity and taking a year off from his medicine education to do an MA assessing its impact. He’s also working on a new project to create a holistic and relational care centre for the vulnerable groups such as the long term unemployed or homeless in Stoke-on-Trent. He hopes the centre will unite different services available and stop users ‘falling through the gaps’.

‘It’s difficult to get new projects off the ground. You feel like you’re constantly hitting brick walls to battle apathy, get people motivated and build a team around you. It helps that I have a clear sense of calling, to do what I’m passionate about and see the need for. I’ve had a very fortunate middle class upbringing and really good education. We are all called to bring something back, not just live, pay taxes and die.’

‘I’m massively inspired by hearing people’s stories and seeing how the give up their time, money and energy for causes they believe. They are making a difference.’

 

Ed

Ed

Ed’s moved house and, to use his words, ‘started dating someone long-term’. ‘I’ve fixed a long term plan in my head and thinking about that is challenging. Climbing, writing more, reading, walking and being forced to talk through my emotions by a significant other has all helped.’

‘I love reading Neil Gaiman, PG Wodehouse and philosophers from 1500 years ago. They faced the same issues and worries as the rest of us. Professional writers find writing and life as hard as I do, which is a relief and inspiration all in one.’

 

Nathan

Nathan

‘Not much has changed. Life is more or less the same, but it feels a little more stable and manageable, which is really nice.’

‘My job has been quite challenging and can often take over, but it’s good to get into the habit of prioritizing what’s really important in life, like my wife, friends and family, relaxing and enjoying myself, spending time on things I’m passionate about. It’s been good learning to spend my time well.’

 

Chris

Chris

One door opened when Chris bought a flat with his girlfriend and another shut when his Leigh-on-Sea barbershop closed. He now works as a mobile hairdresser. ‘It’s been challenging to just pay the bills, and change my working pattern from days to evenings. I’m working all the time, so in the next year I want to improve my social life and find investment for a new barbershop.’ Chris remains part of Guerrilla Barbering, a grassroots industry group helping the homeless.

 

Luke

Luke

Luke is studying Mental Health Nursing at university. ‘I’ve always been quite an introverted person with a nervous edge behind me. I have quite a lot of anxiety and at the start of this year it manifested itself in me having some OCD-like symptoms. It made me doubt if I should do this mental health course and I nearly didn’t progress at one point.’

‘My family came through and were really supportive which I didn’t expect to happen. My university was also incredibly supportive. I’ve had counselling sessions, feel much better now and been able to progress on to year two. Talking to my family and friends about it really did help. Everyone is supportive.’

‘Your mental health is important and bottling things up isn’t helpful. You just create tension in yourself. We need a culture where people are open to talk about their feelings and how they feel. People can be hurting who are close to you and you may not know.’

Last month I grew a moustache and ran my first ever 10k race to raise money for Movember so they can keep research and conservations on men’s health going. You can find out how I did and sponsor me on my MoSpace. Or you can text ‘JKMO90 £5’ to 70070. Thank you.

Travels of Adam

Travels of Adam: ‘When I go somewhere new, I get that good feeling’

It starts like the motivational blockbuster film we’ve all dreamt of living, at least once. After a weekend in Iceland, Adam Groffman packed in his job and packed his rucksack for a round-the-world trip. @TravelsOfAdam was born and seven years on has now grown into 30k followers and a Top 10 travel blog.

Travels of Adam

Although Adam didn’t start travelling until two college semesters abroad, the curiosity and excitement of it was always there in his Dallas childhood. ‘My Dad worked for an airline and was an amateur photographer. There was always his photos from Afghanistan or the Taj Mahal around the kitchen. He taught me about the power of travel. You learn a new culture, a new environment. You learn something about yourself and teach someone about yourself.’

So it’s easy to see why, after a weekend in Iceland, Adam felt his ‘dream job’ as a graphic designer in the quaint city of Boston was no longer his dream. ‘I went back to work on Tuesday and thought why aren’t I travelling? I love travelling! I asked if I could transfer to an international office and spent nine months going through the process, but this was 2009 and the recession meant didn’t happen.’

‘I couldn’t wait any longer so I made the plan to quit and travel on my own. I couldn’t rely on anyone else so I had to do it myself.’ With some good savings, a Lonely Planet gap year book and plans ‘that of course I didn’t use any of’, Adam turned away from the American dream of work, family and retirement. ‘I liked having the stable job and the retirement savings so it required a bit of change in my mind-set. It was scary at first but I intentionally eased myself into it, starting in Spain where I’d been before’.

‘I was alone but that’s the thing about travel. You force yourself into these situations and you have to solve it. Then you come away with these great stories and experiences.’ Anyone who gives just a casual glance to his Twitter feed enjoys those experiences by proxy. Last week his adventures included a drag brunch and marching bagpipers in Virginia.

It’s through this social media sharing that Adam’s built his ‘queer hipster’ brand to become a freelance blogger and keep funding his trips. ‘I started the blog almost out of guilt, to show I was doing something while I was away and avoid a gap in my CV.’ 18 months after leaving Boston, he ran out of money in Vietnam and went to end his trip backpacking in Europe. He soon realised Berlin should become his base. ‘I’d met these cool people there. And thought maybe I can stay here. I had an internship job offer, a long term apartment and friends. Berlin has this vibe and this energy, it made me feel like something was possible. Things just fell into place.’

Of course that doesn’t make the freelancing life is perfect. Adam is refreshingly sincere and vulnerable when he tweets about his lonely days, frustrations at chasing up invoices and lessons learnt from Grindr. He’s still stumbling around social media like the rest of us. ‘Twitter has been one of my favourite things ever. The blog has the aspect of meeting and talking with other people who love travelling. But now it’s also become my job and there’s a pressure to make a living with it, sometimes I don’t enjoy it as much as I used to. Sometimes it feels like work.’

But he isn’t about to lose the joy of escaping anytime soon. ‘When I go somewhere new, I get that good feeling, being able to experience a new place, people and culture. To really discover it you have to disconnect and embrace the newness.’

Travels of Adam

As our chat comes to an end, I realise Adam’s smile and coyness is infectious even on a Skype call from his Berlin apartment, and dream up everything I’d show him around London when he visits again next year. ‘I love London because it’s such a big city, there’s so many things going on it’s impossible to see everything. England is a really diverse place and I haven’t seen a lot. ‘

For now, he’s spending the winter exploring more of America, which started with a trip back home for Thanksgiving. ‘Giving myself a chance to disconnect is helpful. Sometimes it’s a matter of taking a step back, and evaluating where I am and I feel special again.’

‘I feel really silly that this is my life! I’m glad I’m still alive and it works.’

You can follow Adam on his blog and Twitter

batch

Josh Batch: ‘It’s fast, skilled and violent’

Josh Batch has been a professional ice hockey player with Cardiff Devils since 2011. After a decade in a temporary tent, this is the Devil’s first season in Cardiff Bay’s new Ice Arena Wales. I asked Josh a bit more about the sport and what inspires him.

batch
Photo: Cardiff Devils

How did you become a pro ice hockey player?

It all started when I was 8 and saw the Mighty Ducks film! Growing up it was the only sport I really loved, but I never believed it would be my job until I signed my first professional contract when I was 19.

Describe the game in three word.

Fast, skilled, and violent.

Why should UK sports fans go watch an American game?

It’s the most watched indoor sport in the UK. We have some of the most passionate fans you will find. It’s a game that anyone can enjoy as it has speed, skill, and occasionally fights!

How have you progressed during your six seasons with the Cardiff devils?

I’ve came on leaps and bounds since I’ve been here, particularly in the past three years as I’ve settled as a defenceman, when before that I switched back and forth from forward and defence.

This year the Devils moved from the ‘Big Blue Tent’ to the new Ice Arena Wales. What difference has it made to the team?

We have to be a lot faster as we now play our home games on a bigger ice pad. It’s also boosted our morale as we get to work in a nice brand new ice rink every day instead of a battered tent that was almost falling down!

Is ice hockey a masculine sport? I definitely flinched a lot when I saw a match early this year!

It’s definitely masculine! Any sport with body contact will naturally produce a lot of aggression and masculinity. There’s also a big culture of playing down injuries and not appearing hurt, which is rooted in masculinity and not showing weakness.

How do you support each other as team?

Throughout the game we verbally encourage each other and stick up for one another on the ice if a teammate is being taken advantage of.

You’re also studying a degree in Economics at Cardiff Met Uni. How do you fit that in with ice hockey?

I have to miss some lectures as they conflict with our training times but the lecturers are very understanding and always willing to help out if I need it.

Photo: Twitter/Josh Batch
Photo: Twitter/Josh Batch

What keeps you grounded after a match, whatever the result?

Usually the fact that I have to go to uni the next morning! I’m studying Economics at Cardiff Met. But in all seriousness, one win doesn’t mean a lot. We’re competing for the league trophy so every single game matters. Until we win the league, we won’t be fully satisfied.

Is there a sense of responsibility towards your fans?

Yes, after being here so long I really have a sense of how much the Devils and our success means to them. All we can do is give 100% every game. If we do that then we know the fans will be behind us completely.

What’s the best moment of your career so far?

There’s two! Winning the Challenge Cup in 2015 and representing Great Britain.

What do you do during off season?

Not too much outside of the training to be honest! But I will usually meet up with friends at least once a week and have a few drinks as it’s not something I get to do very often during the season whilst juggling uni and hockey.

What should people do when they’re visiting Cardiff?

Check out the Bay, there’s a few great restaurants and the views over to Penarth are great. And of course come to a Devils game!

Who inspires you?

I don’t really have a role model in hockey any more as I don’t really watch hockey outside of our league and competition! As I get older I’m mainly inspired to help people, something that I’m trying to figure out how best to do given my current position.

This weekend, Josh and his Cardiff Devils teammates are going to ‘Brave the Shave’ for Macmillan Cancer. You can sponsor Joshua here.

Follow @JoshBatch41 and @CardiffDevils on Twitter.

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#TacheTalk: Twelve Months On (Part 2)

Last Movember, I started #TacheTalk, a blog speaking to different men about their lives, health and happiness. This year I’ve interviewed more men (which you’ll be able to read about on here very soon) but I was also keen to keep the old conversations going. Here’s the second part of my catch-up with the original thirty guys, finding out what’s changed and challenged them over the last year.

hadley

Hadley

After graduating this year, Hadley set up his own mobile chiropractor practise in South Wales: ‘As I’m self-employed, work tends to consume every hour of the day and there never seems to be time to have a break. I’ve neglected the gym, football and playing the guitar.’

 

jack

Jack

This year, Jack graduated, got a new job, a new flat in Peckham and even a new shoulder. ‘I dislocated it, so had surgery and they fixed me up. It was an interesting experience, quite liberating. It’s good when surgery goes well. There’s always a risk with it and that can get you thinking about all sorts of things.’

‘Everything has challenged me. The last few months has been a big big time. Sometimes those things feel a bit daunting but suddenly you’re on the other side of it and it all seems rather easy in the end, although at the time I’m sure it wasn’t. I relish the challenges, but they are challenges nonetheless.’

 

matt-t

Matt T

In September last year, Matt was diagnosed with testicular cancer. When I spoke to him in May, he was in remission and recently started a new job in Harrogate. ‘I’m getting to do a lot of different, interesting research and development projects, it’s basically my dream job!’

‘A challenge for me has been staying positive about the future. I’m still having ongoing issues with depression and trying to fight through that. The hormone side of things hasn’t fully settled down since my cancer treatment so I’m waiting for doctors to decide what to do about that. Work has really helped me through it as it’s given me some stability and takes my mind off things. It really makes a difference doing something you love and enjoy, life is too short for the 9 to 5 grind!

‘One of the most inspiring things I’ve seen recently was Elon Musk’s presentation about the future of the human race and becoming a multi-planetary species. It really gave me hope for the future.’

 

george

George

‘It’s been a tough year. I was signed off work for a month in April because of stress but having that time off taught me how to cope with stress and anxiety better and put myself first. I’m lucky my boss is incredibly supportive, because I’ve talked to him about it before.’

As well as getting back behind the DJ decks at club nights, this year George became a Birmingham City season ticket holder. ‘I’m inspired by the sound of Tilton Road End. The Birmingham City anthem is Keep Right On. I couldn’t ask for a better club anthem.’

 

matt

Matt B

In May, Matt celebrated his first wedding anniversary. He’s also changed roles in his company and been on his first surfing trip. Every week Matt and I now go to the local Parkrun 5k with our friend Kate. This week he ran a personal best of 19:49. He hopes to qualify as an actuary in the next year, with just three of his fifteen exams left to do.

‘I’m inspired by Abraham Lincoln. He was a self-educated man, and that desire to further his knowledge and better himself stayed with him his whole life. That’s something I want to emulate.’

nathan

Nathan

Nathan’s second child was born on Christmas Day. This year he’s won his second competitive physique and bodybuilding show, launched a new business venture and written an ebook.

‘Adjusting to another child at home has been challenging, but the relationship with my wife has strengthened and we now work closely as a team to support and help each other. Another dieting phase for my training early in the year was also challenging with the new born but made my win even more rewarding. Having a better life balance and continued support from family and friends helped immensely.’

‘At home I am constantly inspired by my hardworking wife who balances being a housewife and motherhood, as well as managing to start her own online business. I’m hoping for another year of laugher and love, where my family continue to grow happily and healthily.’

Follow Nathan on Instagram and Facebook

 

dave

Dave

Last month, Dave accepted a new role working for Tearfund in South Sudan. Before moving, he sold off most of his possession for the second time, including the headphones he showed me last year.

‘People are always challenging but life isn’t really worth it without them. In the end, everyone wants the same thing: to love and be loved. Once you work that out, you can see through all the other mess. It’s been helpful to be truthful and honest in situations where people are mucking you about.’

‘Hopefully while I’m in South Sudan, I’ll cross off lots from my bucket list. I’ve already been in a helicopter!’

This month, I’ve shaved off my beard to grow a moustache and will be running my first ever 10k race. It’s to raise money for Movember so they can keep research and conservations on men’s health going around the country. You can sponsor me on my MoSpace or by texting ‘JKMO90 £10’ to 70070. Thank you.

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#TacheTalk: Twelve Months On (Part 1)

Last Movember, I started #TacheTalk, a blog speaking to different men about their lives, health and happiness. This year I’ve interviewed more men (which you’ll be able to read about on here very soon) but I was also keen to keep the old conversations going. Here’s the first part of my catch-up with the original thirty guys, finding out what’s changed and challenged them over the last year.

James

James

James has switched job from Store Manager in a busy London running shop to lifeguard at the local swimming pool. ‘It’s been challenging changing career but knowing I make my family proud has got me through!’ His now has three children and recently started a new relationship.

 

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Ben

Ben’s lost his beard, become a ‘part-time monk’ in the Community of St Anselm, and ran faster than ever before. He’s also written an excellent resource at The Children’s Society, helping youth leaders tackle sensitive issues including mental health and safe relationships.

‘I’m challenged by how self orientated I am. Being single can be a challenge, although committing to being single whilst being a part time monk definitely helps. But there are still times you can feel lonely and lacking that person you can go to, talk to, hang out with.’

‘Thoughts, ideas and experiences that make me think about the world differently are what I relish and seek out. It helps me realise how incredible the world we live in is. Just think about how much human collaboration it takes to drink your cup of tea.’

The Community of St Anselm has a strong focus on listening to God and a disciplined prayer life. ‘This time next year, I hope I’m able to pray for three minutes without getting distracted and able to listen to God for one minute without getting distracted!’

Read Ben’s Humble Theology blog on Medium 

 

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Max

Just after our talk last year, Max travelled around Asia for a couple of months. Now he’s focused on his new career at an international company. He’s still at Craven Cottage supporting Fulham most weekends.

 

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John

‘Since our chat, I became fed up with my old job, went back to a mental health professional, got a new job and got engaged. So not much, a quiet year really. I’ve been challenged by my mental health and encouraged by my friends, family and the new sense of calling that I now have as a Youth Worker.’

 

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Dorian

Dorian moved from London back to America and in August, he got married. Congratulations Dorian! ‘Obviously, moving, especially to a new country, is a big challenge. It’s the seventh big move I’ve made, and the second time across an ocean to a new country, so I like to think that I’m getting good at it.’

‘An incredibly important part of moving is framing it right in your mind. Even when I had to move back in with my parents a few years ago I was sure seek out new friends and activities to make it feel like a step forward. Thankfully here my wife’s friends have been very welcoming, I’ve been able to meet new people as well, and I’m working on a new hobby, disc golf!

 

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Joe

Joe graduated in the Summer and moved from Cardiff to Canterbury to start work as a chiropractor. ‘I’m in the ‘beginner’ phase of my career and within a year I’d love to feel like I’m refining my skills and perfecting my craft. Right now, I’m to trying to put it all together!’

 

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Kristian

Over the last year, Kristian has performed in a Christmas show in Lichfield and a UK tour of The Railway Children. He’s lived in Dubai since August, working as a cast member at a brand new theme park.

‘The most challenging thing this year has actually been deciding whether to accept the jobs or not. The last two jobs had many pros and cons to them and by really looking at those pros and cons it helped me to make the right decision.’

‘I hope this year I can carry on up my career ladder and keep being paid for what I love and what I have trained to do. The performance industry is a very inconsistent one. You could be working one week earning lots of money and then the week after have to work numerous jobs to pay the London rent.’

Follow Kristian on Instagram @Kristian_Turner

This month, I’ve shaved off my beard to grow a moustache and will be running my first ever 10k race. It’s to raise money for Movember so they can keep research and conservations on men’s health going around the country. You can sponsor me on my MoSpace or by texting ‘JKMO90 £10’ to 70070. Thank you.

nathan

The Importance of Exercise Scheduling

Nathan, our fitness expert, knows we all need to make a little time to exercise.

It is far too easy in our modern lives to say we’ll do things ‘when we’re free’. But in reality, how many of us really have any free time anymore? Almost all of it is now filled with scrolling down streams of social media timelines or staring mindlessly at a television. I wonder how many hours we all spend a week indulging in this grossly, on the most part, completely unrewarding and wasteful use of our ‘free time’. Wouldn’t it be far more rewarding to fill more of our free time with something that was going to make us look and feel better?

The problem is it requires effort, and when it comes down to it, even the best of us with all good intentions aside, succumb to the easier option. Scheduling when you exercise is crucial for making sure you do it. Start small. Why not book out 15mins every other day in the diary to take a brisk walk, book into your local Pilates class, build up to those daily epic gym sessions?

Once booked they must be carried out. Before long they will become habit, a non-negotiable essential part of your week just like they should be! Life is short and time is precious. Let’s waste less of it and invest more of it into our health, both mental and physical. I promise you, you won’t regret it. The happier, fitter and healthier future you will thank you and me later.

Nathan is a Personal Trainer in Essex sponsored by MyProtein. You can follow him for more easy health tips on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

JoeyRealbodies

Yup, that’s me in my pants: getting the skinny on it

I had to leave. The photo was in 20 minutes. There was no time left to change my mind. As I pulled on a t-shirt, I knew I’d made one choice correctly. Whether or not the underwear was right, I was (as my nephew would say) wearing my best Mickey Mouse t-shirt.
It didn’t stay on for long. Soon I was standing in a deserted daytime Heaven (the London gay club, not the afterlife) being photographed in my aussieBum briefs, all for Attitude magazine’s Real Bodies feature. I was living the gay cliché.
Photo by Chris Jepson for Attitude
How did this happen? Back in April, I saw a tweet, responded and got the confirmation email all within an hour. That was the simple part. Only then did I ask myself why I wanted to be near-naked on the newsstands.
Here’s some of the reasons. I’m still working out the rest.
I like my legs. I spent a few days asking friends and agonising what to wear, worrying what my brand and style would say about me. It came down to some Team GB boxers from Next or the skimpy black aussieBum briefs. Standing at the mirror, I thought my legs were too good to hide away in boxers.
I wanted to show anyone can look good in a pair of aussieBums. It’s a brand sold by the toned, tanned boys of Bondi Beach and the tagline ‘If you doubt yourself, wear something else’. I don’t look like that, but I still look hot (thanks in part to Chris Jepson putting me at ease and being a great photographer).
I’m ready to date. Maybe, just maybe, someone will see the feature, look me up on Twitter and invite me out. Although that’s scuppered a bit by the mistaken quote next to my photo saying I took part as ‘my boyfriend’ was doing it too. I don’t have a boyfriend. Yet. (Chris at the magazine has apologised for the error).
I own my body and I own the image too. Matthew Todd introduced Real Bodies and other reader pages when he was editor of Attitude. His comprehensive new book Straight Jacket speaks a lot of common sense about issues in a gay scene dominated by alcohol, body image and sex. That means most gay guys meet and mix in a super-charged, not community environment. This isn’t a photo for Grindr. This is a photo of me, for me.
How I look isn’t the biggest issue in my life. One question I answered was ‘do you manscape?’ Perhaps I sound a bit arrogant in my reply: ‘I’ve got far too many friends to see, books to read and too much laundry to do to spend time with that.’
Knowing I’m generally happy with how I look without shaving off my beard or elsewhere is more important than sculpting my body just to fit a gay body ideal. Body image is a big issue for everyone. I do struggle with it, but I’m fortunate I can usually put it aside and get on with other parts of life.
I’m incredibly proud and happy to see that page and a half all about my body. The words and the space dedicated to an ordinary guy are far more important than the photo of me and, yes, even more important than if it gets me any new Twitter followers.
So when you’re in WHSmith this month, do buy a copy of Attitude, and flick to page 104. You won’t miss the cover. It shows the 49 beautiful faces of those shot dead last month at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.
Digital and print versions of August’s Attitude magazine are available to buy online and in newsagents now.