Change

Often, a blog of this type will start its existence with a story. It might be the moment someone decided to change their life, or they began something existence altering or affirming. For some of us, life doesn’t work like this. For people like me, every day is just a step, the way forward, chance to discover more about myself in the process of existence. I’ve often wondered if the epiphany metaphor is overused, or if some people just spend their lives never experiencing the bolt of inspiration from above as the entire Universe suddenly shifts on its axis. I can say I’ve had amazing thoughts or I’ve come to significant conclusions but at no point did I ever feel the need to drop everything and just go another way. That’s just not how this works.

At least, it wasn’t.

red_bg_1680

Then, one day, I stopped menstruating. Now I look back on what preceded this event, with amazement it is abundantly apparent that the end had been on the cards for far longer than I’d initially realised. With the benefit of hindsight, a lot of shit suddenly made sense. Now I live in a world where hormonal surges no longer dictate actions: once upon a time it would be PMS, and when that added to my depression, things would sometimes become very black indeed. Now, amazingly, my life has altered in a manner I didn’t think would be possible a year ago. It is almost as if there was a light that switched on, sudden inspiration to push myself away from the person who just survived to the individual now who wants to start to be more. Without the hormonal issues, I’m suddenly more liberated than I ever thought would be possible.

However it is so much more than simply one moment of change.

header21

The alterations I have made, starting after the holiday to the West coast of the US in 2015, hinged around a very real need to be physically stronger than I was at the time to survive. It has been a year, and I can confidently attest that on that front, there has been significant progress made. Weight loss used to be the reason I’d exercise, now exercise has become the catalyst for so much more . I stopped being about the petty and the details and finally embraced a completely different outlook, and when my periods stopped earlier this year, a whole level of worry simply vanished. It is only then I grasped that if I’m not dictated to but direct physical change, maybe the same can be true of everything else. The key however is a vital and small sliver of understanding that happened somewhere between 2015 and here.

It all revolves around being different, yet wanting to be the same.

header18

I’ve known I was different since I was a kid, but only now am I able to tell you why. It’s not just a simple descriptor either, there’s a lot wrapped up in the understandings I’ve come to in the last few years. Knowing you are different, it occurs to me is only helpful if you wish to use the knowledge in a particular way: perhaps you hope it will help people better understand what you are, or why you have been the way you have for so long. Certainly for key medical or psychological conditions, that’s probably the case. However, if you conclude that you don’t want anything to change except yourself because of what you now understand to be your situation? That’s gonna be interesting. My family already know how to deal with the exception. What I’ve never really considered is how that goes the other way. 

How do I deal with different, to make it better?

header49

Today, I gave it a try. In two (potentially) contentious situations with family, I threw away the rules. Instead of the normal approaches, I went another way, and in both cases, things went far better than I could have anticipated. Of course, everyone else will be calling this a triumph for them making me alter my intractable, inflexible ways, and they might well be right, but in my head there’s a re-connection of neurons that’s only been possible after I found discipline and focus via exercise. The peace that routine has instilled allowed me the opportunity to approach parts of my psyche without fear for the first time, and come to conclusions I’m betting other people have been making for years, but because they loved me they just let it pass. In the end, it’s not a bolt of lightning or a massive epiphany, it’s just time and effort finding a way. Except some things won’t change: not because I’m unbending or inflexible, but because I don’t feel the same way I did any more.

header30

Some will tell you the only way to find salvation is to forgive and find love in your heart for those who before you hated. This is a lie. You find salvation by accepting truths, and moving on. That means I won’t start loving people again I stopped loving before, regardless of their relationship to me. That’s absolutely fine too. No problems with this at all, and life will continue regardless. The difference is I can be polite and respectful now, whereas before I’d be other emotions. That’s all gone, and the hormones make all that trauma so much easier to cope with.

If someone asks you what you’d change about yourself give the chance, normally you’ll think of something that could use improvement. I’m currently altering just about every attitude I have, in a slow and systematic fashion, and I think I’d like to keep doing this until my last day on Earth. It’s not about opening my heart either: that’s never been shut for business and continues to be broken and brilliant by turns. I’ve lied a lot over the years using words but now I just want the truth to be out there, because in the end it is far easier than living a lie. I did that, and it won’t happen again. If I don’t want to let people know stuff? I just don’t write it down.

Everything else however is fair game.

All Time High

It is odd, sitting here writing today, because so many other people I know are desperately trying to level to max in an MMO I’ve spent a lot of time with. The fact I’m itching all over, desperate to just dive in on one side of my brain with the other rationally and calmly informing of just how terrible a thing this would be to do right now says I have my compulsion under control. Between you and me, the addiction aspect was dealt with a while back, shortly after one person completely destroyed my need to remain tied to the notion that control was more important than happiness. I realise now I have a lot to thank that individual for, and last night (yes, I did a few hours) there was the thought that maybe now I could just tell them their fortune and walk away. Except I get now not how life works. You are polite and kind and pleasant, whilst all the seething hatred gets posted on Facebook.

As I don’t have a Facebook to do this? Everybody wins.

shucks2.gif

There’s been a fair deal of work-related drama too, but I’m more concerned with the fact I promised my Personal Trainer yesterday I’d start practicing running every day. This is because she’s asked me to go running with her, and then she gave me an early birthday present, and now I’m struggling with the concept that people find me likeable. How can this be true when my heart can be so black? How can you find me entertaining when I am aware of how fundamentally I am flawed? I went and met a new friend on Sunday for a couple of hours, and when you try and explain your life to somebody new it can become an exercise in personal torture. Of course, she knows a lot of it anyway but the details make you realise you have to explain *why* things are as they are. Once that happens? It can all get a bit weird. I didn’t embarrass myself, she’s still talking to me and life, unsurprisingly, continues unabated.

Makes me wonder why I worry about all this shit to begin with.

image

Then I get why it happens, and that’s come from learning that exercise is simply what you decide is acceptable. Running is a case in point: I get nervous when my Trainer controls the speed of the machines I’m on, because my chest muscles hurt and I can’t organise my breathing to cope with the effort that is required to get everything to function. Although undoubtedly some of this is physical restriction, most of it ends up as a mental inability to rationalise the process. When I break it down, that changes. Analysing WHY this happens, what I can do to change it, and simply not giving in to fear or addiction is an incredibly tough ask for many people. As my self belief and confidence rises, I’m able to place everything in an appropriate line of significance and context. It may seem like basic human survival, but if you were never taught this when you grew up, or you simply could not understand how the process functioned until now?

I’m going to run 1k tomorrow on a treadmill and see how long it takes me to a) complete and b) recover. After that, it is one step after another. Those people who have told me I should just run? I’ll get there. It might take a while, I may need a bit of support on the way, but yeah, it will happen. I’m also not going to log in to play games any more until I’ve done a fair number of domestic chores and am confident I’m not sacrificing home for gaming. Again, with this one, if you could bear with me? That would be great.

Small steps are often the best thing to take.

In Dreams

Yesterday, I had my first sports massage for about three weeks. My back and shoulders were a mess after two flights and ten days in a hard, uncomfortable bed. My masseuse, who is tiny and stunning, is a veritable miracle worker and as thanks for her efforts pre-holiday I bought her a gift back from the US. I wasn’t expecting the reaction it got, that she was genuinely pleased and hugged me with an enthusiasm that was a surprise. The woman then proceeded to do absolute wonders and I walked out feeling about half a stone lighter, after which I slept uninterrupted for eight hours. It’s odd, the notion of reward versus effort, that sometimes the smallest thing can mean the most to someone unexpected.

It was the same when my trainer saw me on Monday and remarked how much thinner I looked. My husband made the comment that maybe she has a vested interest in keeping me ‘sweet’ and might be over-inflating my progress, but I know this is not the case. I have made decent progress, areas of fat are beginning to shrink, and cellulite/stretch marks are becoming far less pronounced than they ever were. I’m not too fussed about the details of the physical change, and once I get to target weight I’ll worry about aesthetics.I understand how things have improved, and that the areas I want to shrink fastest will probably be the last places to go. I’m also aware of just how hard I’m working.

blowshitup.gif

Being told I’m doing well is great, but I don’t need the carrots any more. My life now has altered so fundamentally that I cannot actually see a position where I’d return to being the person who would rather sit than stand, or drive instead of walk. Given the chance, I’m now always going to default to exercise. I’ll admit I do like my lie ins still, but not at the expense of bad mental health. I’ve also reconciled the understanding that it is never a given to expect a compliment for work done, or if I beat/write summat that’s accepted as ‘good.’ I know how much of the output I create that is decent, consistent and of a good standard. Occasionally, I will hit brilliant, and when that happens I know about it long before anyone else mentions it: not because I’m some kind of narcissist. I just get now what is good for me and what isn’t.

1280px-Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa2

Perfection is so horribly subjective to begin with that often being told you’re great isn’t actually a true indicator of attainment. I’ve had people overly compliment as a means to draw attention, and I see it happen more and more in social media circles where people are clearly desperate to not offend. I’d love honesty, every time: fortunately the people I count as friends are getting quite proficient at telling me the truth. If it sucks, I get the feedback. What this means is that often I forget what a powerful motivator the random compliment can be, and I’m now actively attempting to give them whenever I think it would be appropriate. This is quite hard work for me. Anyone who can do this well, naturally and with any measure of conviction? You’re a hero.

Making a compliment sound genuine and sincere is a skill I need a lot of work at grasping.

Pray

Now I have committed myself to a path where writing is more important than it has been before, I have to find a way to fit that into my life. Right now that’s simple, because the kids are on holiday and nobody else really needs to stress about organisation, stuff just happens eventually. A week today the youngest returns to school, son the following Monday, and after that I will have a schedule to fit around. That will start with a 7.45 am commute to school and a 3.30pm pickup, meaning I will lose a significant portion of my day to roads. I’m already half thinking about parking my car at the youngest’s school at least twice a week and walking to and from there to give me exercise. It’s a six mile one way trip, which is more than possible on my current level of fitness: 12 miles a day is equivalent to about 24k steps, which is easily manageable.

I’ll still have PT once a week, plus two additional Gym trips, and shoving an extra 24 miles into that should really not be a push. The killer, of course, will be time ‘wasted’ whilst walking, and so I’ll need to put that to good use. My husband’s been pushing me for a long time to listen to more than music on my iPod, and so I will be investing in some audio books plus podcasts to listen to on the journey. I’ve also wanted to start appreciating Ian McMillan’s ‘The Verb’ Series on Radio Three, and hope that the BBC iPlayer App will allow this to happen. What it will mean is more planning to maintain a seamless transition from one schedule to another, but if I can spend time walking and keeping fit whilst avoiding the amount of time I spend in a car? So much the better.

header54.png

That means, all things being equal, it will work like this:

MON: PT
TUE: Walk
WED: GYM
THU: Walk
FRI: Rest
SAT: GYM
SUN: Rest

I will need to factor in more rest, too, especially as there’ll be earlier starts and I do NOT function well under limited sleep. I’ve already filled a Moleskine notebook across the Summer with ideas and plans, and I’m genuinely exited going forward as to what I can and will be able to achieve. What I want to avoid, more than anything else, is just sitting for hours and losing momentum. As a friend pointed out, the exercise is granting a clarity and focus I need to not only grasp but use as fuel. On that front, once I’ve done here there’s chores and then I’ll walk to Town to get the kids a set of keys each for the house, just in case all the grand planning goes awry.

However good you think you are, the unexpected just happens.

header55.png

This however does not tell me when the writing can happen, but that it will around the framework I’ve created. I’ve been amazingly productive on gym walks in the last few days, watching existing ideas morph in differing directions, and I may well start taking my tablet in my Gym bag to edit and write whilst I eat lunch. I’m still toying with the idea of a laptop, but it is early days and the iPad plus keyboard is actually surprisingly robust once you look past the shortcomings. I’d rather not spend money when there’s a perfectly acceptable alternative available. Until it becomes a massive inconvenience? There’s more than enough space for a tablet and boxing gloves in the same bag.

Getting fit really was the best thing I ever did for my entire life.

Requiem for a Tower

I had a big plan today, lots of words on communication and self-absorption, but after six hours sleep and having to deal with two banks plus a credit card company? It has all just shrunk to the angsty whine I suspect it was always going to be. That’s the thing about proportion: you need something else to stick yourself beside to make it matter. Once I’m forced to go look up account balances and check transactions whilst grasping I could do with more income to protect against the unexpected? Everything else becomes pretty much irrelevant. It is easy to understand why the Renaissance guys never got around to making the big speeches and discovering the mysteries of the Universe when they had early death and hunger to consider first. Once you’re comfortable, then comes the life changing shit, and not before.

radcliffetried

I’ve realised too that because for many people social media is a far too accurate representation of their real self, that suggesting contentious issues as the basis of discussion means I’m opening my self to perhaps more abuse than I ever need to garner. I could quite simply pretend I don’t care about these bigger issues and stay silent, but some days it is satisfying to shake the can of Coke and put it back in the fridge, for the unsuspecting co-worker to come open and get a surprise from. You don’t do it every day because that’s cruel and unusual, but the occasional wake-up call has merit. Trying to reason however with people who have decided that nothing is fair unless everybody wins and nobody loses is, at best, unrealistic in an environment where the exact opposite is proven to be the case. At some point, inevitably, one has to deal with disappointment, and if you can’t? Things get messy.

bodyisready

The salutatory lesson at the end of this is very simple: if you don’t want people to call you out? Keep your mouth shut. If you don’t want the grief? Don’t write the words and press ‘Send’ ^^ The moment you pop up and engage a random stranger in conversation, anything can and will happen, so unless you are prepared for consequence? Don’t start.

If you do this shit for a living and still get grief?

Learn to communicate betterer.

Finally

Before I started here, I wrote an e-mail to a very dear friend in which I apologised for starting something I now no longer wish to pursue. It’s nothing at all to do with him, in essence, and absolutely everything to do with me. Another good, dear friend made a point, before I started Podcasting, that it had the potential to derail me from a greater task. I now understand he was right, but without the confidence and insight that period of my life afforded me, I would not have progressed this far to begin with. Sometimes, certain decisions are necessary in order for us to move forward, but when they become a hindrance? You need to make harsh choices based on what matters most.

Therefore, there will be no more Gaming Podcasting for me in the future.

header40

It is not a decision I’ve taken lightly, but as it transpires I don’t want to pursue a career in that form of work, and I never will. Yes, the gaming is great and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t owe it a great deal (and still do) but ambition, ultimately, is having the confidence in my own words and ideas. To do that, there has to be more effort in that direction. I already have work ready, websites primed, all that is required now is the conscious shift away from the focus of pixels. That’s been happening for a while now anyway, but this way if I say that there’s a push forward and gaming is a *part* of my life but not what matters most? I can actually be honest with everybody for a change.

I think that’s going to matter a lot moving forward.

header47

My holiday was, like it or not, a life-changing experience. Giving a sense of scale to what you do is really very important. Understanding your significance in larger spheres, for starters, is summat that is beginning to have some tangible consequences. Watching how others deal with your opinions, that having them can often be tantamount to condemnation in the eyes of those who only see their own goals as mattering… I’m not here to crush competitors underfoot and smear other writers in a focused march to domination. My gaming experience has served as a good barometer of what to expect when I deal with other ‘players’ in the game of Real Life. Some people are only happy when you agree with them, and get the right hump when it is apparent than not only have you ideas, but aren’t afraid to wield them. I learn that salutatory lesson every day: if you choose to interact with someone, and then don’t like what they say or disagree… how do you react?

Words, never forget, are more powerful weapons than any hard earned quest reward.

header41

Choices are crossroads, quandaries before new and interesting directions. I came to grasp while I was away just how much I have been shaped not simply by the games, but the people I know who play and follow me, not simply on social media but beyond. Without Duncan, Mike, David, Allison, Liz, Julia, Ben, Hannah, Myles and all the other people that sprang forth from the wellspring of Computer Gaming acquaintances to become friends, confidantes and supporters, I’d simply not be here. Then there are those I only know by a user name or Twitter handle, or the random nature of a set of e-mail exchanges. The woman who found my blog and used it to keep her sane whilst her mother was in the Hospital, being treated for cancer. The guy who read every post and thanked me for the time and effort put into every one. Everyone has become a part of my whole and helped me forward, and I will remember them all, even if I don’t have the ability to recall them all.

More importantly, those who have hated on me and abused my choices and criticised my decisions? You make me stronger. I listen and learn. You may not wish that your words actually make me more determined to succeed, but they do. If I am confident the criticism is justified, it does get acted on. You didn’t expect that, now did you, but I have a great deal to thank Podcasting for. Mostly it made me realise that unless the output is something I’m proud of putting my name to? It isn’t worth the pain of criticism to begin with. In the end, I’ve had a really good run of content, I learnt a lot about myself in the process, but most importantly of all I now grasp that to move forward, I need to hold and wield the confidence of my own projects alone.

bark

All of this therefore points to a direction where, like it or not, people will lose interest with me once it becomes apparent I’m here for an ambition that doesn’t start and end with an MMO. That’s absolutely fine, and I’m prepared to accept that if people only want a single focus, then they’re entitled to come and go as they please. The fact remains, what I am is so tightly wound around gaming I’d find it impossible to separate writing from that anyway. It is what I am, and have always been. The only difference now, is that I am a gamer who wants to publish a novel. Probably quite a few.

Time to get started on that as a matter of urgency.