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These days it's hard to find time and space for yourself, life moves a million miles per hour and technology only seems to make things worse. A quick check on Instagram or TikTok makes you feel you aren't doing enough or "living your best life".
The work from home revolution certainly seemed like a good idea at first, but now the temptation is always there to complete that project/ answer a couple more emails.
Wherever we turn, there's pressure on us. It can be hard to ignore it and at times it can get overwhelming.
This is what happened to me. As we went into the first Covid lockdown, I found myself working longer hours and solidly for weeks. And when I wasn't working, I was checking out what my 'friends' were doing or catching up with the latest political developments. I was fast heading for a burn-out.
One of the other aspects of lockdown was buying stuff online. Amazon were reported to make approximately 220% increase in profits. It's not that surprising, we were stuck in the house 24/7.
I bought all sorts of crap. Some of it useful, others not so much. but my favourite lockdown purchase was this Kamado grill from UK retailer Aldi. It was one of my most epic purchases. Here she is in all her glory:
On a visit to the USA, we went on a road trip from New Orleans via Mississippi, Tennessee, and the Carolinas. It was on that trip that I discovered my love for BBQ cooking. The proper kind, not a few burnt bangers in a bun (Banger = British slang for sausage). When I got home I wanted to recreate the experience, then the pandemic hit and I bought the Kamado. The cards had fallen perfectly.
After a few test grills, the Kamado went into storage for the winter and work slowly took over my life. Now when spring rolled around, I was too busy to do any BBQ let alone anything else that I enjoyed. My life had become increasingly sedentary and I started to hate myself.
It was a friend of mine who noticed my mood had shifted and I was headed to a bad place. He reached out to me, insisting to come over and share a few beers. He also suggested we take a lazy day and fire up the grill. So I agreed and he came over for a few days.
We dusted off the cobwebs and spiders who had taken up residence in the grill, (I'd rather not roast any arachnids), wheeled it into position and loaded up the charcoal.
We'd decided to do a pulled pork, as this is a fairly forgiving process and used a recipe from this great book:
That day, as my friend and I took it in turns to spritz the meat and fetch beers, was the first time in a long time that I'd slowed myself down. I don't remember once looking at my phone or checking work emails. It was just me and a friend taking time to enjoy each others company, talking about life the universe and everything.
And then something important happened, I had a moment of mindfulness, I opened up to my friend about how busy I was at the moment and how difficult I was finding things. He admitted that he was also struggling with similar pressures in his own life. Fast forward a few hours, enjoying more beer and conversation, our meat had hit the magical 95C internal temperature for pulled pork.
I whisked it from the grill and pulled that hunk apart with sheer delight.
That night I ate one of the best meals I've had in a long time. I like to think it was something in my mind had switched off and I was able to enjoy myself without care or worry. For the first time in a very long time.
It took me a day with good company, beer and BBQ to rediscover a little passion in my life outside of work. It felt great not having to worry about anything and from that day on I made some serious decisions and promises to myself:
Be more mindful of the moment, find things to enjoy in every moment
Delete the work email from my phone (this was a tough one, but had the biggest impact)
Moderate my time on Social media - really hard to do, but also worth it
Plan and cook a BBQ at least once a month (so far so good)
Get out of the house more
Rediscover other passions
...and lastly to check in on my friends and family. I'd hate to think they were going through difficult times alone.
Thanks for seeing this through to the end. Apologies this post took a few detours to get to this point. I hope everyone can find or make time to enjoy something they love.