Confusion

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The plan was reasonably simple: remove the ‘alt’ from my life, and re-brand in a manner that acknowledges the changing use of language in society. Alternative music is no longer acceptable as an umbrella term, and with continued issues surrounding extremism, it makes sense to shift away from any association. Yesterday just seemed like the right time to move forward. So, I have, and in the event I start my own publishing gig (which is always a possibility) there’s now a website with this name sitting on the .co.uk domain.

I don’t like to do things by halves.

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My legs REALLY hurt today, because last night I got back on the static bike for the first time in a while and was reminded of how quickly muscle tone vanishes if you don’t work. So, I am now caught in the classic ‘Shall I/Shan’t I’ dilemma: I can go run, and burn more calories, or bike again later burning less but undoubtedly doing more good to my leg muscles. This one’s pretty simple to resolve though. I should be on the bike. It does my heart far more good long term. So, that’s what will happen today.

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Most of the time the dilemma’s easily resolved: the more thorny ones used to be over eating bad stuff, or not doing things that were promised to other people. In reality, the right answers are becoming increasingly easy to grasp: do it now, don’t put it off. Be the change, make the difference, alter your existence. Except, there are likely to be some fairly major issues coming up in the next few weeks.

The truth, in most cases, is the only answer. However, some of that truth is stuff I have not had the ability to deal with successfully across the years. Trying to predict my own reactions is, in most cases, a mug’s game. The only way to do this properly is to turn up, listen and give answers to questions that are asked. Everything after that is in flux. All the planning in the world will not help when emotions become involved.

Basically, I gotta stop worrying and just get on with it.

Occupy Your Mind

Eventually, it wears you down. When you’ve spent literally years finding ways not to let depression own and dictate existence, when it is virtually impossible at times to effectively communicate with the people you love, having that kind of negativity and ignorance in your places of work becomes counter-productive. In fact, there have been times in the last week when reality became a virtual mirror of some of the darkest days of my previous life. It is no wonder I consciously removed myself from the issues.

This week, therefore, there will be changes. Other people can be the harbingers of doom. If it makes you happy deciding you are helpless, pointless beings being slowly destroyed by others, feel free to carry on with that. There is little time for the stuff that needs to be done in the first place without being mired within excessive negativity. Existence needs fixing, lives need to be improved, experienced with more passion, less regret. Time to go.

I could have waited until today to affect positive change, but that would have been shit. Instead, yesterday it was off to the Gym to warm up for twenty minutes before I went and stared at a metal bar. On its own this weighs 20kg. Yesterday I doubled that, before it was lifted above my body and down again. I managed five repetitions before it was obvious any more would trap me. To say this is progress is an understatement. Weights on all other machines were also increased in celebration.

Today I have a solid, clear set of objectives both online and in reality to start chipping away at. Half the problem, of course, is not to allow myself to get distracted from the path, and to keep focus. If this stuff matters enough, then it gets done. I’ve already been slightly diverted (cheers Social media) but that is all it is: temporary. Part of the process of pushing myself into positivity is making sure reality is ingested on my terms, and isn’t allowed to overwhelm.

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Yes, the world is horrible. A portion of this is beyond my capacity to change, but not all. This is crucial to me: there are means to improve reality which I have direct input towards, and if that’s not being done, then I’m slacking. The assumption of hopelessness is often used as a stick to subjugate and frighten. Once you are able to mentally detach yourself from such control, it effectively becomes meaningless. This is the foundations of true freedom.

The problem, of course, is possessing such ability to begin with, when by rights everyone should be treated with equality and care. Knowledge exists, is freely available. Self-education is a great means by which you can begin the process. Vitally, however, you have to wish to do so. This blog isn’t about telling people how to live, or pushing individuals to alter their own realities. That’s up to you, and not me. Nobody tells you what to do, and never really should.

Those must be the decisions you make for yourself.

The Climb

It’s amazing what a decent night’s kip and a change of bed-linen can do for the outlook.

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Last night, I learnt two things I didn’t know on Friday. One is trivial, the other is life changing. No, you don’t get to know either, but on reflection neither are actually that much of a surprise. Life should be a constant stream of such moments, which allow you to seamlessly continue onward regardless of your own shortcomings. Except, of course, you don’t. You just have to look at the current political and social traumas taking place to realise that life comes at you fast these days.

So, how do you cope?

Looking around me, lots of people don’t. Husband took the youngest and a friend to the local theatre last night, where a couple decided they’d be the drama instead by arguing the entire way through the performance. It takes a special kind of stupid to ignore everybody else around you whilst ruining the enjoyment of hundreds, but in essence that’s the job social media now plays in our existences. Why just bother with your own trauma when there’s millions of other people’s lives to ruin too?

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Amazingly it is not all going to shit everywhere, because the moment something awful happens the responses with positivity grow stronger and more strident with each day. You can happily decide to believe the whole world is going to shit (and sell your brand on the back of it) but after a while, people will stop listening. Slowly but surely, the World is waking up to an understanding that if you continue to perpetuate negativity in whatever form, you lose support, interest and ultimately traction.

Left or right wing extremists, it doesn’t matter. Extremism is dangerous, full stop. Don’t need a brain to work that out, but do need a brain to be able to grasp that eventually, when people stop listening, maybe it wasn’t that they got bored. Perhaps it was because your rhetoric became unacceptable. Maybe you won’t win anybody’s interest or belief/support by flat out dismissing anything that doesn’t look/talk/believe in the same things as you is an idiot.

The speed of change is absolutely catching an awful lot of people on the hop.

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This has always been one of my biggest stumbling blocks: I’m a snail. That means that learning to adapt is an even bigger ask than perhaps it is for someone at twenty or even thirty. However, I am living proof that if the 52 year old dinosaur can pull her head out of her arse and start reacting to the issues the World is presenting, lots of you other people need to start catching up. You have to want to be that person, however. Most will argue their lives are just to difficult anyway without having to factor personal growth into that equation.

Well, we all know what that is, don’t we everybody?

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This week, there is lots to do. Time to shut up and get on with it.

Love What You Do

For a couple of months I have suspected there was a more serious issue at play than simply struggling with stiffness and muscle fatigue whilst exercising. Yesterday, a physiotherapist confirmed this. This now means I’m going to voluntarily put myself through a period of induced pain to correct two historical injuries that are effectively working against each other. This, hopefully, will be the worst morning after as it’s the work on the older injury first.

Let me go find some painkillers before we go any further.

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I’ve spent all week wrestling with writing demons for a submission that is not due until June. I’ll talk more about this on the appropriate blog, but what the exercise has thrown up is many-fold. I am not an intellectual writer. I simply cannot make myself into that person. All that matters is to tell the story that is in my head: language becomes an often pointless extra. I have no idea how that’s fixed either. After a week and a dozen brilliant ideas down on paper, I’m no further forward than I was this time last week.

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After yesterday, I’m also very please I re-branded myself without ceremony earlier in the year. Being known as Alt is, at least here, becoming a burden. Someone used it, a while back, to try and demonise me and it struck a chord, which was at least in part why I made the choice to remove that logo from my spaces. Being able to change, and to be sympathetic that sometimes, you need to, is a big ask for some. I have no problem with that form of evolution: now, if I could only do that elsewhere…

To ensure the physio sticks as quickly as possible, there needs to be some running and exercise sooner rather than later. Let’s see if we can knock off 12k steps before lunchtime again…

Why

I could write tens of thousands of words today about how awful the World is right now, and all of them would be redundant. Other commentators do this job so much better than I’d ever manage: some need a run up, a few are articulate enough with language to  make me cry. The very smart indeed can say more in thirteen words than you’ll ever successfully produce in a lifetime: then you know it is time to stop talking and start listening. 

Angry white men are the enemy. Not all of them, just those who decide that the future involves removing anybody else not agreeing with their world view. Every single issue that’s ever caused me physical and mental strife, from a personal perspective, has been caused by an angry white man. No other group is as consistently capable of destroying the world around them. Only that particular combination of variables is in turn so sensitive and violent. Nothing else comes close.

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The fragility of the male ego is much joked about but comes with the most brutal of coda. If you can break my arm with a well placed attack, destroy my will with a series of increasingly obsessive demands, ruin my respectability by calling me the villain… when  you are the person in the position of power, truth is no longer relevant. If your idea of equality is based on you as priority, what’s ever likely to change?

Then, there’ll be those men reading this who’ll assume because they’re angry about something completely unrelated to the point I’m making I’m still talking about them, because I said the words ‘angry white men are the enemy.’ That’s the problem. You’re not listening, and all you see is the indignation directed at your sex and not the fact that it’s related to a specific subset of your kind. Lots of you need to stop talking. Lots of you need to stop pretending.

Really, we can see you and you’re not fooling anyone.

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The commentators who rant and rave at injustices done to them, happening around them, and clearly affecting those who listen to them but not actually making any kind of change to their environments are the worst kind of passive anger. I see you, indignant that you’ve had injustice wrought upon you, but are you doing anything to change that other than complain you’ve been caught up in the chaos? Nope. 

Then there are those quite clearly milking other people’s outrage to generate their own views and interest in their work, but with no actual solutions to the problems. Instead, everybody sits and jokes about how kooky and weird they are, how terrible the World has become and how the best way to deal with it all is to post pictures of cats in baskets. I appreciate the sentiment, guys, but honestly you’re not helping anyone.

Most importantly, you remain part of the disease.

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Trying to explain pain to someone is the most subjective of experiences. It is a feeling, and therefore everybody will encounter a differing range of experience. Anger is quite close in the range, I’d say, to pain, and nobody worth their compassion would argue with someone who states that their anger is both painful and disruptive. Writing about anger is a world away from actual sensation.

Being angry online is just as dangerous as doing it in reality. Inciting hatred, encouraging hurt, pushing agendas that encourage the idea that other people are somehow less worthy. Allowing these people the means to speak without regulation, supervision, proper restrictions… this is plain wrong. It is white men running tech companies, overseeing social media platforms, allowing this hatred to spread unchecked, that has bought us to this point.

These people say they’re listening, but so totally aren’t.

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If you can’t say anything helpful today, please shut up. Just don’t say anything. LISTEN. Try and understand the bigger issues. Offer love and support, not empty promises. Find the people who will teach you how to be better, and listen to them. These individuals are your future, not angry white men trying desperately to avoid being cited as accessories to the fact.

Stop talking shite and START LISTENING.

Hurts So Good

We’ve spoken about pain before, and how to push through our perceptions of what is bad and good. The gallbladder implosion incident has given me for the first time a decent idea of what bad really feels like: I’ve broken toes before, but the pain of those is lost to the mists of time. First and second birth were so highly medicated that, to be honest, I couldn’t reliably tell you how it felt either. How do you know when you’re looking at a trip to the hospital?

This is particularly tough when your 14 year old is coming to terms to what an allergic reaction feels like, and the circumstances where she’d need to use an Epipen. It’s about understanding first that she has the symptoms: remembering what they feel like and how that affects her body. Then, it’s telling her that as soon as her major bodily functions became impaired (breathing, cognition) it’s vital to seek medical help and then self-medicate. Learning how your body works is an essential part of the process.

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The process of pushing myself physically comes with its own sets of challenges. Last night, for instance, for a brief and glorious period of less than a minute, heart-rate creeped up above my normal threshold. The physical consequences of this are many-fold: breathing loses any kind of rhythm, brain struggles to keep focused and, literally my chest hurts. Last night, however, I was prepared for all this. We didn’t stop, just slowed down. We kept moving, and experienced the sensations properly.

It wasn’t about speeding up last night, or pushing through any kind of barrier. I just needed not to stop, and so that’s what happened. Fear is the biggest killer, means by which you will never move past your static goals, because it is the possibility something bad is going to happen that prevents you from ever making the effort. Nothing bad happened, I didn’t fall over or pass out. Making it to the end of the class, for the first time in several months, really felt like an achievement.

Those of you who don’t have to worry about this kind of stuff are very lucky indeed. You individuals who can just run without thinking, exercise without consequence. I wonder, do you realise just how lucky you are? Is there ever a moment where you stop and think what it might be like not to be able to do everything you want… or is this never a situation that ever crosses your mind? These are the days when overthinking becomes a distinct curse.

Pain has all sorts of consequences, and not just the ones you’re unlucky to feel.

Big Time

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This morning, I published my first ever article on Medium.

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The idea wasn’t mine, but my husband’s. The original thread for today’s blog was immediately lost to this, which is a triumph for many things, although it may not look that way. The point is made in short, clear sentences. The referrals are all video-based, with the exception of that image above (which was pulled, of all places, from Know Your Meme.)

It is the proof to myself that I’m capable of making a point clearly, concisely and without flannel. There’s also realisation that the more articulate and wide ranging ideas that come up should be stuck in a space where potentially a more specific audience can see them. If I work Medium for three months and can pick up a decent audience, it might be worth subbing, we’ll see. The first step is always hardest, after all.

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After that, there’s confirmation of my daughter’s allergies (same as her brother’s, more or less) and a day’s worth of catching up with outstanding backlog, because there’s simply not been enough brain available since the weekend to cope with what needs to be done. Most of it has been shoved into planning short stories and tomorrow, that’s the plan, to write the one I think most likely to win the prize it’s being entered for.

A lack of deep sleep really screws with my head, it transpires. The Fitbit’s use here is a bit of a revelation: dreaming for me is now largely irrelevant. What matters most is the state where nothing disturbs, where the business of Delta Sleep can continue unabated. Ironically, I’ve realised the best days for this are when meditation has taken place, even if it’s only for a few minutes. I’m testing this theory starting today.

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However, first things first…