Welcome to The Spark, home to everything Team Mission Drive has found fascinating this quater.
Welcome back to The Spark, our festive, and sadly final, edition.
As usual, there are a few things our brains spent the month musing over, like why you shouldn’t be awake in an operating theatre, why life is such a riddle, and why love and grief go hand in hand.
But as Mission Drive pairs itself down, this signals the last of the Spark. If you’ve read all of our newsletters – thank you. If you’ve read just one – thank you! And we dearly hope you’ve enjoyed every nugget.
Go well dear reader.
Team Mission Drive
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This month's Big World Stuff:
- The next words are a bit sad, but I hope, uplifting.
- There are people. And then there are great people
- Places your intuition knows you shouldn’t be: the operating table
- Unravelling Life's Riddles: What's up with paradoxes and why should we care?
This month's Big Recommendations:
This month’s Big World Stuff
The next words are a bit sad, but I hope, uplifting.
So, if you don’t want to read something about love and grief or don’t trust me to do it skillfully enough, I understand. Please have a lovely Christmas, and I hope our paths cross again soon.
Still reading this? Thanks for staying. This is my final entry for the Spark. Thinking about what I should say was hard, and it got me thinking about love and loss.
The things that hurt us most when they are gone aren’t the things we pay for in time and money. But the things we pay for in love. That is, after all, what grief is. Love for something we can no longer experience.
As anyone who has experienced it will know, it is difficult to distil the odd calm and cacophony of grief into a few sentences. Better writers than me have done that. What I will say is that grief serves to remind us of what is truly important. It reminds us what we really care about.
Last year, my beloved dog Pom passed away. Nothing prepared me for how profound and painful an experience my grief is and was.
The end of 2023 will mark the end of Mission Drive as an agency, and I feel a huge sense of loss, in particular for our wonderful team, who, along with my co-founder (and more importantly, wife), Candice, will all be leaving the business in December. A different sort of pain to that of losing a loved one, for sure, but real and heartfelt, too.
The feeling of loss is a signal. It tells me that I really loved what we had as a team. And I loved my job because it was the best I’ve had. I’m grieving for that.
One of the paths towards healing grief is cherishing the love we had. It’s one of the best lessons I got from mourning – we should celebrate the things we love and lose, not hide from their memory. It’s how they live on in us. So, tomorrow we get together as a team for a last meal together, to salute each other and what we achieved together. To cheer each other into our futures.
As we approach Christmas, I know lots of people will be missing what they have lost – mourning, grieving and remembering. I will. And, if you are, too, may the love you feel for what you have lost be a comforting signal – a beacon of hope for what is to come.
Having grieved my Pom, I write this with a gently snoring rescue dog, snug and asleep at my feet. A soothing presence. And a reason to get out into the world.
I have hope. I wish that for you too.
Peace and love.
There are people. And then there are great people
We all come across people in our walk of life. Folk you’ve schooled with, those you’ve connected with over your hobbies and interests, those you meet by pure chance, friends of friends, family, colleagues you’ve worked with – the list goes on.
But have you ever stopped to think about why some people just really stand out? And what is it that really makes them so? I’ve been fortunate enough to have recently worked with five truly great people. Seb, Rhi, Coeli, Johnny, and Simon here at Mission Drive – their greatness is something that really stood out for me. I feel honoured to have worked alongside them all in the last few years of my 49 spins around the sun.
Thank you, for being you.
Places your intuition knows you shouldn’t be: the operating table
There are some places you simply just know you shouldn’t be. Awake at least. One of which (unless you’re a medical professional) is an operating theatre. However, in May this year, I lay in one with my eyes very wide open, while I had the first (and last) c-section of my life. A few things stuck out. The massive light over the operating table about five times the size of your local dentists’ like some alien spaceship. They need to see, these surgeons! But my god it was huge. And while I sat on the edge of the bed, leaning into my husband waiting for the epidural I spied a lady bent over a trolley of tools, all of which looked large and mediaeval in their origin. Except for the one that looked like a giant ice cream scoop. I feel like I definitely shouldn’t have seen that. Was she counting them? Stroking them?
Giving over your body and trusting people you don’t know is quite a weird scenario. But we all have to do it when it comes to operations. One of the oddest parts of a c-section is being asked if you have a playlist (yes we were prepped). And knowing this is the only operation where you get to have something as nuts as a playlist. Add to that the insanity of not knowing which song the baby will be ‘born’ to. And the wonder when it happens (Lemon Jelly’s Space Walk here. And then Donovan’s First There is a Mountain, as he was being scrubbed. Can’t listen to either without crying now). There is the romance versus reality of cutting the cord too. Less ‘mayor at the opening of a new theatre’ and more ‘butcher at the opening of… something else’. ‘It was pretty tough’ says husband. ‘Like a hosepipe?’ I ask.
Lastly there’s the wonder and equal horror of what you’ve only bloody gone and done. You’ve just created ears on a head, on a body, with a heart and a soul. F*&%! It’s not instinctual and no matter how much you’ve read, you won't be prepared (I read nothing because I’m clearly a psycho). I also had an unhelpful midwife tell me the only thing I should read is ‘my baby’. I kind of get it now, but at the time it was like telling me to just sniff the air and wish.
I believe our minds and bodies know where we’re meant to be. And I can honestly say I felt like I was trespassing in that theatre, or crashing a private party. But given not everyone gets to see the inner workings of such a place, there’s part of me that feels I’ve joined a cult ‘club’. And maybe that massive light is to do with aliens. And they just help beam the babe out of your womb…
Unravelling Life's Riddles: What's up with paradoxes and why should we care?
Ever heard of paradoxes? They're like those mind-bending statements that sound crazy but might actually be true. Think of them as life's way of throwing us a curveball. I recently stumbled upon this thought provoking list talking about ‘20 of the most Powerful Paradoxes of Life’, and some of them really got me thinking.
First off, there's the ‘Productivity Paradox.’ It's basically saying that work somehow manages to fill up all the time you give it. Crazy but true, right? Our lives are jam-packed with stuff vying for our time, and I'm thinking maybe it's time to tackle this paradox head-on. Time to wrangle those tasks and take charge!
Then, there's the ‘Constant Change Paradox’ – that change is the only thing that stays the same. Deep, huh? As we gear up for a new year, for me, it's all about not just acknowledging but fully embracing the constant twists and turns that make life interesting.
And last but not least, there's the ‘Say No Paradox.’ In a world full of constant requirements, saying no can be a superpower. It's like giving yourself space to be the best version of you.
So, as we step into the new year, my plan is to roll with change, hustle like a lion, and throw in a few 'no's’ when needed. Let's see where these paradoxes take us.
This month's Big Recommendations
TV to talk about
It’s an oldie but a goodie. If you haven’t got into Drag Race, you’ve over ten years of seasons to catch up on. But start anywhere (perhaps with the UK series). Yes it’s heaven for fashion, makeup, comedy and drama. But, there’s also no better place to learn and be moved by incredible, tough, uplifting and emotional stories from the drag/queer community while the contestants casually chat in the ‘workroom’ – from growing up hiding their sexuality from closed off/repressed/religious parents (some of whom never accept and others who become their kid’s biggest fan), to stories of realising their true identity as trans, through to explaining and bonding over being non-binary. For anyone at all (but especially hetero, cis-gender folk) this is an invaluable, heartfelt, and very human education on personal and real experiences in all these areas. Drag Race should be on all curriculums and also should be required watching for anyone embarking on parenthood. It preaches understanding, acceptance, and absolute joy in being exactly who you are meant to be.
Planet Earth is back with its third instalment of amazing, never-before-seen footage of the Earth’s wonderful wildlife. National treasure David Attenborough returns to hammer the message of human impact on the planet. Let’s be honest, it must be pretty important if he still feels he needs to work this hard at the tender age of 93.
In the six years since Planet Earth last appeared on our screens, this series finds itself in a darker mood. The first episode, dedicated to coasts, travels from Kent to Australia, through South Africa, Canada, Indonesia and more and is a spectacular, if often difficult watch. All episodes are on BBC iPlayer now.
Squid Game: The Challenge is like your regular reality show, but cranked up a notch. Competitors battle it out to win big with quirky challenges that give you déjà vu from the original series – plus some new ones to keep it fresh.
The tasks are tough, pushing contestants to their limits, but it's not as nail-biting as the OG Squid Game (nobody dies for a start!) and it's a fun ride with some low-key social commentary. If you're into offbeat competitions and a chill drama vibe, give it a shot. Just don't expect the same level of intensity as the first Squid Game – that one's a classic. The Challenge is a lighter, more playful spin off, without as many high stakes!
Books to borrow
Now I don’t know about you but I love being gifted books, and I was given these two for my birthday this year. I found Bianca Sparacino on Instagram (@rainbowsalt) many years ago, and since then, I’ve always liked and shared excerpts from her book whenever they’d come up on my newsfeed. Whenever I need a pick-me-up or that little bit of courage to get me through bad days, I pick these up and take exactly what I need. They’re a great reminder that no matter what it is that you’re going through, you’re strong enough to endure it. Whether it’s heartbreak, self-love, healing, or anything else, Sparacino’s poetry, prose, and little words of encouragement is all you need.
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Have a wonderful holiday season.
The Mission Drive Team