You’re the One

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Yesterday I drove to a Westfield that is normally visited by train, because other people doing the work whilst I sit in carriages and write poetry is the preferred method of transport. However, as I took the youngest to see her first movie alone (you should all do it, it’s a rite of passage) she was not keen on anything other than being chauffeur driven… and it was alright. Still prefer trains. Just saying.

Yesterday was also part of a promise to myself to be properly measured for bras for the first time since I began hard bastid weight training. I now wear a 34F bra, except when we get to the land of sports bras where it appears that only a 36 E will do, and I’m not sure entirely why that is, but the lovely lady in John Lewis is spot on. This is the most comfortable bra I have worn in fuck knows how long. There’ll now be a short break to see if Amazon can provide me the same, but cheaper.

[UPDATE: They could.]

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Tonight is the start of Back To Back Blaze. The plan, such as it is, will be to try and exceed 80% effort on both nights. Doing this means not looking at screens and so there’s a good chance I’ll do both evenings with glasses off. If I can’t read the totals, it won’t stress me.Β Then it’s all about concentrating on doing the work and not fixating one the woman next to me running when she would be walking and the CrossFit guy who just never gets tired.

I gotta stop letting other people give me anxiety and just focus on the work.

The Name of the Game

[Sensitive men may wish to look away now.]

The menopause has effectively redefined who I am over the last couple of years. Sure, the same basic person remains that started the journey from periods that would effectively keep me housebound in the last months before they stopped, so much blood loss that I’d occasionally faint. Now, there’s a lot of things that are different, and a fair few things that are missed. One thing most definitely isn’t.

Anger was, for me, very much hormonally-based. Having lost most, if not all of that white hot reaction is really a bonus for everybody concerned. Sure, I’ll still let stuff get to me but now, it is far less incendiary. What does remain is a remarkable amount of sorrow: tears are a problem, and can often happen with complete unexpectedness. However, that too is beginning to be tempered. Tiredness is the key: making sure I’m getting enough hours rest every night has become an overriding priority.

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If I sleep well, the World pretty much resets to normal around that. Protracted periods of exhaustion mean memory issues, irritation and an inability to effectively communicate. This is normal for most of the world regardless, I just turned up at this point late to the party and am beginning to grasp what a more mellow, laid back version of reality can mean for existence. Becoming hormone free is, in that regard, the best thing that’s happened for decades. I am dictated to by my body no longer.

What this does force however is a different way of thinking about the business of everyday life. Some skills are needing to be re-learnt from scratch.Β The benefit of routine and goal-setting have become more significant than ever before, because it is this that allows me to maintain sanctity of both body and mind. Starting my exercise programme when I did, in that regard, may end up the most important gift that was ever self- given.

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Exercise is the drug that nobody can prescribe that means the withdrawal from hormone dependency is minimised. It’s also impetus and focus all rolled into one. I have goals and objectives that are set and defined purely on my terms that are not dependant on winning a contest or being popular in a peer group. It is the personal nirvana that defines increasing areas of existence. I don’t need group events to show my ability or skill, just myself. I am the arbiter of this destiny alone.

However, some days it is a wade through neck-high treacle. Yesterday was one of those. Today, with a decent night’s kip and revelation over an injury, everything is indeed considerably brighter than it was. Sure, the rejection and occasional inertia will get me down, because if it didn’t I wouldn’t be me. Today, however, they don’t matter.

All that is of consequence is the motion forward.

Do I Love You?

The plans for decorating my daughter’s room starting on Monday got tossed when she got sick, and now she’s better there’s a chance of getting paint and stuff before the weekend. However, this means that my plans for NEXT week are now completely arse about face, and that there needs to be a digit extracted today so I can be in some kind of position to get everything done within the time budget.

I’m also regretting last night’s Blaze change, but it will pass.

I’ve cracked doing stuff for longer.Β That’s the key in all of this, to be able to keep going and not get tired. Stamina.Β I’ll grant you this morning my body is feeling the effect of last night, but it isn’t nearly as bad as it was last week, or indeed the week before. Like writing, if you practice enough, it becomes habit.Β Habit allows relaxation into the material, understanding both body and mind. It is all part of a larger, more complex process.

Also, it’s kindof cool to be able to do all this stuff now and look like I know what I’m doing. A lot of life is acting, of course, but when the strength exists within you, that’s a task that is progressively easier too. Having actual numbers to back up your words and deeds is hugely useful, and it’s why the lack of communication and feedback in publishing has become so fucking frustrating. I‘ll write about that in a minute.

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In the meantime, the bar’s there to be cleared.

I just gotta do it.

No More Heroes

We present as part of Time To Talk’s national day of discussion about mental health (Feb 7th) a week’s worth of posts about how this 52 year old finally made a difference and started listening to herself and others, before determining to improve life for the better…

These views are mine alone, and absolutely 100% do not mesh with anybody else’s opinion on anything. WELCOME TO HOW BLOGS WORK.


Day 1:Β That moment when it becomes apparent that if you want any job done properly, you have to do it yourself:

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Occasionally, we all need a little help. Even the smartest person in the World can’t solve all the issues they face, at least without the occasional supportive ‘you got this!’ or a motivational picture of a cat in their timeline. However, there is a point where all the support and understanding in existence is pointless if you decide you won’t.Β It might not be a won’t, as it happens. You could say you can’t, or mustn’t, or maybe even that’s just impossible.Β How does anything change in your life as a result, if it is easier to provide excuses than solutions.

Excuses are easy. Solutions are hard, and that’s where I keep finding myself.

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I realise just how lucky my life is, at this point, that opportunity even exists for improvement.Β It is incredibly easy to say ‘sort yourself out’ and there will be those who (quite rightly) in many cases might consider this as victim blaming or shaming. So, to be clear: I’m not a victim.Β My life, which is the only thing I can reasonably talk about with confidence, is not underpinned by any kind of issue where being told to get better is somehow making matters worse.

What my life has been ruled by is fear.Β This is something that’s only recently become apparent, as it happens: a complex combination of factors, which (with other mental shortcomings that will hopefully be better defined after I’ve spoken to some professionals about them) made for a potent cocktail of restriction. I can’t do that becauseΒ used to precede far too many conversations. Lungs won’t work, can’t interface with people, unable to combine the mental processes required. All my shortcomings.

Nobody to blame but me.

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I had to hit rock bottom for my reset. Considering suicide, wondering what the point really was if nothing ever seemed to work in my favour, came the realisation that actually, I was the problem.Β This is still something to remind myself of in moments where life throws me a curve, that often brain is working against body in order to hamstring progress for no other reason than it’s easier than making the effort. Undoubtedly, that adage thatΒ you get what you give / you give what you getΒ is spot on.

Everybody’s answer is different, too, and that’s the problem with finding a mentor of becoming enamoured with a guru/influencer/snake oil salesperson who’ll offer an easy answer in exchange for your cash/follow/first born. I’ve followed so many people via Social media who think that selling their salvation is the solution: it’s never true, and so I unfollow and move on. This is the woman who read a ton of self-help books and nothing ever stuck, until the day I was willing to forgive myself and move forward.

Excuses are Easy, Solutions are Hard. Never forget this.

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The trick, it appears, is to pick the right metaphors for your journey. I am never going to win a beauty pageant, nor would I ever enter one… however, I can be strong. Telling me I’m beautiful will be met with short shrift, but praise my ability to think through problems or write a decent blog post and you’re on the right track. Seriously, that whole ‘you’re so beautiful’ stuff is creepy, however well intentioned or based on actual perception it might be. Tell someone they’re inspiring, or dedicated. Intelligent or capable is great. Leave the surface stuff for people who won’t look past appearances.

You can be the most beautiful person in the world on the outside, and a mess inside. Given the choice, I’d rather look a mess but have my internal shit under control, but to do that you gotta work out what needs fixing.

That’s Day 2’s conundrum.

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Last night’s second Blaze class, as it transpires, really wasn’t that bad at all.

The key to this increase in relative effort was not to run.Β I walked through every treadmill section, keeping effort consistently high. The belief, of course, is that you need to do what everybody else does to hit your thresholds, but that’s utter bollocks. The nearly 400 calorie warm-up before this proves the point that fast is not my answer. Steady and controlled is the way forward.

I love running, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a growing understanding that it puts a lot of strain on my body in terms of keeping up a decent pace. Whether this will change as stamina builds, I dunno, but my walking pace is where it’s at right now. The treadmill will tell me that a 6kph walk speed will burn 150 calories in 30 minutes. Not according to my heart-rate monitor it doesn’t.

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Walk was between 6.35 and 7.05, and it was far easier to keep that rate constant than it ever is for me to run. Ignoring the calls of my trainer to push myself and go mental, but instead keep breathing and heart-rate under control meant last night I went for longer and was able to apply more effort throughout. The problem, of course, with such exercise classes is the desire to compete, but once that is disengaged from the equation?

Life gets an awful lot easier.

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It’s also a delicate balancing act between knowing enough work’s being done and just coasting, and that comes only after understanding how body works best. Feeling the flexibility and strength that’s now resulting from a month’s worth of fairly hard work, it is totally acceptable to not guilt myself out over the other people running when I’m not. There’s a clear, obvious indication of how well all this is working out. 80% effort is distinct progress.

No, it doesn’t need to be flat out to be beneficial.

No Scrubs

Everything is late, one thing is at least a day behind, but this is surprisingly good progress, all told. There’s a reason, and it is worryingly grown up.

Both son and daughter have a cashew nut allergy. The specialist this morning almost gleefully informed me this is almost a bigger problem than peanuts, that they sneak into a remarkable amount of processed food plus the prevalance of ‘healthy’ snacking has highlighted the issue even further. Daughter is now set for a raft of tests, will be issued with an adrenaline delivery device, and then begins a lifetime of being careful what she eats.

There is guilt manifesting in two ways: my genetics are partly at fault (asthmatic amongst other issues) plus really, truthfully, we should have had this confirmed as soon as it was apparent her brother was allergic. It is also not great that this happens in the period where obtaining medicines is becoming increasingly problematic.

I have not been a great parent: today all that came home to roost.

The Next Chapter Bar

A lot of things appear to be going backwards, or not happening at all. However, small victories are beginning to emerge.Β A historic back problem is finally beginning to settle down, strength is being gained in my legs, whilst sleep quality has definitely improved. The second bag of Huel is about to run out and so, this week, I’ll do a review, because honestly this is probably the most significant change in my life over the last month and honestly, it’s huge.

For now, however, all I want to do is sleep.

The Great Escape

There’s a certain level of guilt that exists when you blow off an entire day of potential progress to cock about in your PJ’s, but yesterday, honestly, it had to be done. After an early PT I came back home and just ground to an utter standstill, so much so that there was a sneaky nap taken for the first time in what is probably six months. Suitably re-energised, the last thing wanted was to go back to work. So, after about three hours of trying to spawn a two player Civilization: Beyond Earth map that left me a continent away from my opponent, I went for a Supremacy victory, and got it.

This then made me realise that there’s a compelling argument for never letting the zealots and the mad people organise space flight, because if they’re then going to combine themselves with the indigenous wildlife, go back to Earth and wipe out the human population in the name of evolution, it’s all a bit shit, really. As I built unit on Military unit and sent them back to Earth under the auspices of ’emancipation’ there was, I have to admit, a feeling of increased discomfort.

That’s the mark of a good game: makes you think, challenges your choices.

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This week there is a LOT to be done, because it’s February on Friday, and therefore backlogs should be organised and then dismissed. Actually, with a clear run at it, the rest of what needs doing can (and will be) sorted. After that? Still got two submissions to finish for the week, should probably practice reading my own poem a few times, am gonna work on editing two rejected works and then creating a .PDF Pamphlet to start raising funds for travelling.

It’s all go around here.