Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Change. The Chinese word for it, is comprised of two symbols, one for danger and the other for opportunity.

Pretty much sums it up, right?

New beginnings, new changes can be scary, it’s hard to know what to expect sometimes. Just maybe though, you gain confidence and courage by taking a moment to stop and look at those changes in a good, rather than a bad way. Sure, things could go wrong but what if they go right? You make a choice, deny what could be on your horizon, embrace it or resist it.

Some decisions are smaller than others, less difficult to fuck up. Choose a new store to buy your food from? What could really go wrong, you can always go back to your old place. Change your hairdresser? Admittedly, it’s more of an issue for the ladies out there rather than us boys, have you ever hear of a lady deciding to cut her own hair? Boys are idiots sometimes.

What if it’s something bigger? You want to change the person in the mirror you see every morning or the status of your interpersonal relationships. Do we all see our friends as much as we should? You know your relationship has gone stale, you know it needs to end but do you have the balls to say the words that you need to say? You get a new job offer, are you comfortable enough to take that leap of faith and try somewhere new, to work with new people? Deciding that you’re ready to take the next step in your relationship and pop the question? Moving house, calling somewhere new home? It’s a commonly held belief that changing your job, getting married or moving house are the three most stressful things that you’ll ever do in your life. Doing one is tough, but what if you decide to do two or three all at the same time? Time to make a choice.

Time for you to go out into the world.

The city and country where you’re born doesn’t always feel like home, does it? Being lonely is so hard at times, but being lonely in the place that you’ve known for most of your adult life? No bueno. Maybe it’s time for a change, who wants to be tired of being held back without being able to fight back harder? Male pride is totally a thing but sometimes it’s okay to reveal your vulnerability and your need to connect with something new. A change is maybe exactly what’s needed. Sometimes for good things to happen, we have to make changes and move on from old habits or experiences. Old doors closing and new ones opening. Doesn’t a new door mean a new beginning?

It’s super early on a Monday morning and my iPhone rings. The number is private but I know who it is. An hour long conversation is had about something that could change everything, not just for me but for the people closest to me. It’s a positive call from both sides, follow up calls are to be scheduled to hammer out the finer details about leaving my life as I know it. This means leaving the people here that I love behind, my family, my friends, everyone that I care about. Sure, I know people in different countries and I’ll be able to settle quickly but my mind is still running at a hundred miles an hour. Just change. In any facet of your life, if something comes along that will alter everything for you, there’s a decision to make. Yes or no, what to do?

New beginnings are a chance for a fresh start and for trying new things that you never thought impossible, that you never thought you could accomplish. Time to give yourself a pep talk, to get ready, to prepare yourself for something that means that your life will never be the same again. Closing old chapters of your life, forgetting about the past, but getting ready to write new chapters, to experience new things.

Are there sad feelings of leaving things behind? Damn fucking skippy. Is there the excitement of new adventures? Damn straight.

Can somewhere else in the world really be your home rather than the place of your birth, the city and country where you’ve spent most of your days? Maybe you’ve been there before, but you had to leave. It hurts when you read about it on the news because memories come flooding back. It’s featured on countless television shows and your heart gets heavy for a minute, or an hour, or a day. There’s no rules when you know that you want somewhere else to be your home, rather than where you stay right now. Yes, it’s a roof over your head but does it feel like you belong? For some of us, absolutely yes, 100%. That’s a great thing, but for others, it’s time to go. It’s an often used cliche, but your time on this planet is short so why not do what makes you happy, or at least what you think will make you happy? If you’re happy with everything in your life, then I’m super jealous. If you’re not, isn’t it time to make a change? Danger and opportunity.

Sometimes when you go somewhere new, to a new job, you can have big shoes to fill. Luckily, I’ve got big fucking feet.

Sometimes the only person that you need to focus on is yourself.

It’s okay to start a new adventure alone.

I know who I want to take me home.

@TheSamMcLeod

Like you’ve seen a ghost.

‘Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.’

Various days come when there are moments of reflection, you have a wry smile to yourself and try and realise why different things happened or didn’t happen in your life. You know deep down that you can’t always allow yourself to think about what you don’t have, or what you didn’t get, what you have or what you’ve lost. Memories have that way of popping into your consciousness at any given time though, hopefully more good than bad.

Although easier said than done, how is it a good idea to overthink everything, about what’s gone before, about what might have been? Just because someone got away, doesn’t mean that you’ll always be pining for them. No point on missing out on the here and now though, about everything that’s ahead. Don’t miss out on something that could be great just because it could also be difficult, take the leap. Sometimes you tiptoe into the water, but then aren’t you missing out on the adrenaline of plunging in headfirst, who wants to be engulfed with a tidal wave of what ifs?

What if you lose yourself for a minute or two?

It’s a Friday morning, the letterbox makes that familiar noise with mail hitting the mat. There’s a card, much more interesting than the usual utility bills and bank statements. It’s unexpected, it’s not my birthday, it’s not Christmas, so I’m intrigued. The words inside are surprising, ‘I just want you to know that I enjoy your company, that I love being around you. I want to spend more time with you, we could have fun together. If you want the same, meet me on Saturday at 5 where the bus used to collect us to take us to school.’
It’s unsigned, my mind starts working overtime, who could it be? Is it a love letter of sorts? Love letters never used to be thought as something out of the ordinary, but things changed with texts and emails. Why not do either of those things instead, shit, go crazy and dial my number.

Like a Magic 8-Ball, I didn’t come up with any real answers, but then the penny drops and I know who it is, let’s call her L. She’s a lovely girl, very pretty but it’s never going to happen. We’d been spending a lot of time together as part of a larger group, but she’s just split with one of my best friends and there’s a boy code. Once a friend is with a girl, she’s off limits forever. I head for football practice instead on Saturday, I’m too shy to let someone down in person.

There’s also the small matter of someone else, let’s call her M. She’s part of the same group, our parents are friends, so we spend a lot of time together, I’ve been to her house more than once. From the minute I met her, I wanted to know more. Cute, engaging, fun, sarcastic and super clever. Maybe sometimes you can know someone better in ten minutes than someone you’ve known your whole life. Obviously, I can’t say anything. Beautiful ships never sailed by my dock so I couldn’t speak to her, I just didn’t have the courage. A boy having the balls to try and tell an amazing girl that you like them? Like trying to put a jumper on a jellyfish. Despite her obvious physical attractiveness, she was like the ubiquitous girl next door, someone that you could play football with, and happily not mind when you ended up losing. Asking the question might cause the end of the friendship though, she’s too cool to be around and I’m too smart to let that go, so words are left unsaid.

The friendship continues but I have to move away for work. She’s the one that’s being left behind, but I knew full well what that cost of that was, although thankfully M will never know. We could have been two perfect circles entwined, but it is what it is. Thinking of how it could have been if I’d done something, if I’d said something. There’s the feeling of loss, the feeling of never knowing what could have been, the feeling that you let someone that you always wanted slip right through your fingers.

We’re in touch less and less, just everyday life.

Another day comes and that familiar sound of the letterbox is heard again. It’s an invite to a party, catching up with old friends will be fantastic.

Years have passed, M walks in an hour or so after me but she hasn’t changed a bit. Part of me hopes the only reason she even came to this party, is so that she can see me. Pretty arrogant male behaviour.

Everyone is catching up with everyone so we don’t meet again until around midnight. She kisses me on the cheek, we hug and it’s like how it always was, the girl next door is back in my life. Drinks are bought, glasses are clinked, maybe it’s time to say something, Dutch courage always helps, right? Just as I start to say those words that should have been said before, another friend whisks her away to dance. Hours pass and the night winds down. She comes over, leans in for a hug and kisses me, whilst holding my cheek. She puts her mouth to my ear and whispers, ‘I wrote you a card once, asking you to meet me because I wanted us to be more than friends, I was in love with you. I was so hurt and disappointed when you didn’t show up. I’ll love you always, take care.’ My heart drops, I can’t stop blinking. Friends say ‘What is it, you look like you’ve seen a ghost?’

Sometimes we meet people and neither of us guesses that the other is someone who feels it too. That can’t be a good thing.

Soon after, it’s almost like she makes sure that I see her leave with someone else, sometimes you can read the tea leaves as well as anyone. Will another chance come along? No, sometimes you only get one shot. The knowledge that there is one other soul out there who has your number, right down to the last decimal place hurts though. How often does that happen?

You just have to see her and you know that she’ll break you in two.

@TheSamMcLeod
@YouMeMusicLife

So this is the new year.

Here we are.

For some of us, we are on the 365th and final day of the year. Some of us have already or are currently enjoying the celebrations as midnight has come and gone depending on our respective locations.

I know for some people the 31st of December is just another day. It’s always been a personal favourite of mine as I think about all the exciting things to come in the year ahead. Not once does the possibility of everything not going completely to plan enter my head, this certainly can’t be put down to youthful naivety!

I’ve only ever experienced the clock chiming midnight on December 31st in three different countries, Scotland, Italy and the USA. All three countries have very contrasting traditions for this most special night.

In Italy, it’s tradition to wear red underwear to ring in luck for the year ahead! This goes for men and women!

Four years ago tonight, my girlfriend at the time and I were sat in a little restaurant in Venice called Bacaro Jazz, enjoying our meal before heading to Piazza San Marco to join in the celebrations. Those who know the restaurant know that it is also encouraged for female diners to donate their bra which is then pinned to the ceiling. Cue the scenes as midnight approached when pretty much every single women in the place undid their bra, red of course, and handed it to a beaming barman to hang up. Let’s face it, all of us men would have had the smile he had on his face at that point!

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Two years ago tonight, we were in New York. Probably the most famous tradition in the United States is the dropping of the New Year ball in Times Square, New York City. At 11:59 pm, thousands gather to watch the ball make its one minute descent, arriving exactly at midnight.

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It was a great night, although rather bizarre to watch Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Pitbull perform in the flesh. I’m convinced not one of them sang live!

And to Scotland. Whether it’s been quiet nights in watching Scotch and Wry and Only An Excuse or street parties in which ever city I’ve been, each one has been memorable for it’s own reasons.

Tonight will be a quiet one, reflecting on the year just gone and the twelve months that are ahead. 2013 has been a year of change, job, house, relationship status, apparently the three most stressful changes in life. Roll on 2014!

I’ve been fortunate to meet some incredible people this year whether through work, play, even meets that have been instigated by social media.

Things change, some important people to me and a lot of others have passed away. Some new additions to my family and friends have entered the world and I look forward to those boys and girls growing up.

To everyone that has met me, spent time with me or interacted with me in one way or another, I hope that 2014 brings you every happiness and success that you deserve.

Enjoy the celebrations tonight, I’m excited to see what 2014 brings for all of us.

Bliadhna Mhath Ùr.

We could stay young forever.

It’s been a crazy week, one full of changes.

I’ve started a new job and feel it’s going well unless my employers want to tell me otherwise?! As big of a change as that is though, I’ve just made a bigger one. Today I tendered notice on the lease on my flat that I’ve lived in on my own for nearly ten years.

Scary stuff for me personally but a quote that I read about change tempered the fear a bit.

Paulo Coelho said “When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”

He was right, a week was enough time to make my mind up, decision made, time to move on. Although not the biggest test or challenge that anyone will ever have to undergo, it’s still a huge thing for me.

No more nights of just doing what I want all the time. No more video game or film posters adorning the walls. No more wall to wall bookcases filled with books of all of my favourite authors. Goodbye to the fridge that was permanently full of beer.

This was the first place that I ever thought of as mine. Whilst I’ve lived here, I’ve changed jobs. Girlfriends have come and gone. The swing has been retired. It’s an in joke with friends, it’s probably best left unexplained!

The one constant that I’ve had in the last ten years is that I could always come back here and know that I was home. Things change though and within a month, I’ll call somewhere else home.

It’s difficult for me to get my head around but I know that it will be amazing, it’s time to finally embrace all the changes in my life.

I can’t stay young forever.