bury a friend

I’m trying to make friends with people. It’s tough. Once upon a time, all that mattered was similar interests… which is why so many of the people I consider as friends right now are tied together by a love of gaming. A couple of bad experiences in the last year have made me realise that even in places that feel like safe spaces, people can be selfish, arrogant fuckers. There is no escaping that. It just happens.

Then, there’s moments like yesterday. You think someone is becoming a friend, and then something happens and all there is for you is uncertainty and confusion. How do I make this work? Do you lie to hold the person there, or is the truth what matters most? I’m really too old for this shit, when all is said and done. I’ve never been great at being anything other than myself. So, honesty or death it is.

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No, I said HONESTY Eddie, you know cake is off the menu.

The whole concept of friendship’s an odd one. There’s already a person to share my life with, and has been for decades. You don’t need to have someone there 24/7 either or else there are dependency issues that really don’t need to take place. Dealing with loneliness is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, and ultimately it is getting easier, mostly because of the coping behaviours that are now in place.

Knowing how to deal with yourself is something a lot of people could do with working at, it occurs to me. Having been, at various points yesterday, emotionally manipulated, massively complimented and used as an example of how to do things right… there’s never really a point where everything is 100% in your hands, however much you may consider life to be otherwise.

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It seems to me that the best way to measure success is via achievement, in these cases. If I see someone on Wednesday night, yesterday’s conversation went better than expected. If I don’t hear anything from somebody else for a while, I’ll consider my actions a success. At all points in between, the calls will just have to be made and if it’s out of my hands, so be it.

Reassurance can also be taken from the fact that it’s been quite some time since I was the one causing drama. That’s the most positive, comforting change in all of this. The longer that fact remains, the happier everything becomes. Once you realise where a problem began, everything becomes so much easier to rationalise. Then, it’s just a case of keeping on top of what alters going forward.

Honesty really is the way forward.

Living by Numbers

Thanks to an article in Sunday’s Guardian I am now considering the concept of Quantified Self: a term coined by Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly in 2007. The latter is an ex Wired journalist, former said magazine’s founder executive editor. Both are cited as founding fathers of the Quantified Self Institute in the Netherlands, whose aims are very simple:

Quantified Self (QS) is the term that embodies self-knowledge through self-tracking. The list of things that we can measure about ourselves is endless: among others our heart rate, respiration, hours slept, or even the number of sneezes and coughs during a day. However, not all important things in life can be measured and not everything that can be measured is important. QS really revolves around finding personal meaning in your personal data.

This weekend I made a decision to stop using Fitbit as a result of their acquisition by Google, but an alternative fitness tracker has already been chosen. It would be tough to live without the mental and physical advantages a pedometer and sleep analyser provide me at present… sure, it could happen, but the benefits such metrics provide me in terms of self-motivation… I’d miss them.

I suppose I am a QS advocate without even realising that was the case.

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In a period where increasing numbers of people are rejecting and regulating their tech use, there are lots of factors to consider around who holds this kind of information and for what ends. Once, it was just about selling your name and address to advertisers if you gave details to websites. Then credit cards came into play, stakes increased, but when one thinks about heart rates, menstrual cycles and exercise frequency as saleable data…

Of course there’s a crucial caveat: as yet, wearing a pedometer/heart rate monitor is not enforced. All the people who might yet get judged for their sedentary lifestyle are far less likely to care about their QS than those who have become enamoured with the benefits of such metrics at their disposal. However, there’s at least one life insurance company asking for activity tracker data to gain discounts, and that list will undoubtedly grow.

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Without my heartrate monitor, I’d have not learnt some vital lessons in the last six months. These figures are often more accurate an indicator of general health than I’d ever be able to obtain, at speed, from a medical professional. However, they are really no substitute for actual medical intervention and regular check ups. You can be as self-knowledgeable as you like, but you’ll never be an actual doctor, so don’t try.

Any exercise plan is only as good as your own overall health, and many issues can hide undetected from sight. If you’re going to become a member of the Church of QS, remember to cover other parts of your fitness equation. Oh, and don’t get stressed if you’re constantly being beaten on leader-boards by serial overachievers. The only contest that matters is the one with yourself.

Winning isn’t everything.

You Never Know

The thing is, it could be anyone.

On Thursday, it was the person least expected who had the meltdown. It wasn’t massive, or indeed obvious, but as someone who’s now being taught to read the signs and understand what to look for… it was easy to spot. This is the scheduled reminder that one in three people will suffer from a Mental health issue at some point in their lives. Paying attention is incredibly important.

Sometimes the signs are there from an awfully long way away, and you don’t really grasp the significance of something until it is far too late. Then it becomes apparent that maybe it’s time to start watching things a little more carefully than you did before. Obsession’s a life-destroying experience, but once you work out why, so much becomes easier: knowing what is dangerous, and how you deal with it, is the key to enlightenment.

This week, self-awareness has led to some quite significant revelations.

I’m up early on a Sunday not just to write, but to reorganise some parts of my life. Yesterday was tough, despite being hugely positive: Impostor Syndrome’s a pig sometimes, and it can be easy to allow yourself to be consumed by negativity created by your own brain’s inability to grasp that yes, you can do all of this. What changed the situation around last night was something minor, but brilliant.

There was a moment just before bed when brain stopped being consumed by the worry: there is nothing you can do about other people. If they don’t like what you’re doing, that’s their problem. More significantly, if those people are attempting to derail you or make circumstances about them? It’s the same thing. It’s Narcissism, and these people are just totally and utterly not worth your time. Ignore them, and move on.

There are risks associated with a great many things in life: if you want to succeed, it’s very simple. Take the chance, move forward, overcome the danger. Do not let fear consume you. Obsessing over things that do not matter and can never be altered is a waste of everybody’s time and energy. Once you eliminate the bad shit, it really is easier for everybody moving forward.

Who knew all this psychology gubbins was worthwhile, eh?

If This is It

We’re over a week into November. How’s it going?

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Been a massively transformative seven days. Running on a gradient has been something of a revelation. It’s helped not only build confidence, but alter training. However, the bigger shift undoubtedly is diet-based. This new regime is not only working, but improving both energy and recovery. How do I know this? Let’s look at the numbers:

  • Monday Blaze Percentage effort: 73%
  • Wednesday Blaze Percentage effort: 78%
  • Thursday Blaze Percentage effort: 79%

I’ve never improved like that before. This is the first week in almost a year that I’ve got stronger as the week has gone on.

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Thursday was notable for a couple of reasons: being the first Anniversary of Blaze at my club, there was a live DJ and a saxophonist. Both made the 45 minutes quite a lot louder than usual: I had to wear earplugs in order to think correctly. However, a decent mix and a lot of people attempting to serially overachieve around me did undoubtedly pick the game up considerably. LOOK AT THESE NUMBERS:

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ALL THAT YELLOW. I don’t normally feel like I’ve done a decent job, but this absolutely was. Those two green bars between all the yellow? End of each round. I didn’t record the exercise before, so have no idea of how well (or otherwise) that went, but it really doesn’t matter. Here is a nice shiny new high water mark. I can work hard, and keep my heart-rate up, and this is the demonstrative result of concerted effort.

I’ve not been this proud about anything in quite some time.

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I am finally getting somewhere.

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Nope, this isn’t an exercise post. That 31 minutes of yellow zone effort was, as it happens, really not too hard to maintain. This demonstrates that there’s fitness that exists to do so, but that’s not nearly as important as the mental fortitude required to detach brain from worry and fear. None of this really matters one iota to anybody except me. I will appreciate encouragement and be grateful for support 24/7… but in the end…

There’s nobody to compete with but myself.

Yesterday was important for many reasons, but the most significant one was a surprise. A lot of people have taught me things over the years: in later life it’s become apparent that the quality of that teaching doesn’t just come from the person and their words. I am part of this equation. You can learn everything about a topic but you’ll never truly understand the subtleties until properly acknowledging how it makes you feel.

Today, I’m asking myself what I want from a number of things going forward.

Over the last year I’ve let go of some things no longer required, people who have become toxic, physical items with no personal association. As the baggage around me becomes lighter, there’s fewer excuses to hide behind. It’s pointless to try and control those things you have no direct influence over, simply concentrate on those things that you can and so that’s the plan, going forward. Solid change, in important places.

If you asked me what I want right now, there is surprisingly little that springs to mind. I’m still failing at domestic duties, which will be sorted once NaNo work is done for the day. There’s nothing material I truly yearn for, and now I’m over the hump in diet management for blood count and cholesterol… this is the best place I’ve inhabited mentally for quite some time.

This is a very good place to be.

First Encounter

Whatever you do in life, someone will take offence. It’s almost a given in this day and age: make your life public, and at some stage there will be at least one flash-point. If you’re a woman and don’t want kids, want them too early or too late, decide to stay single or love someone half your age… and may your deity of choice intervene if you’re not heterosexual, assuming they even allow such blasphemy.

None of it matters, of course. As long as it’s consensual and legal, really, all the indignation and posturing on the planet is irrelevant. Let people be fucking happy, unless you’re being paid to report it and you’ll get more clicks/sell more advertising giving them a hard time. Indignation sells, and always has. All those stupid people out there vapidly consuming anything you can throw at them? They don’t care either.

You’re wondering where this is going, aren’t you?

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I don’t think I’ve seen more online stupid than has happened this week for quite some time: even in the depths of The B Word saga, outright lies and stupidity did not seem this prevalent. This is, of course, all there is to look forward to until Polling Day… and that’s now in the news because Nativity plays may need to be rescheduled if schools are being used as polling stations… how will the Year 5’s cope?

There is no magic money tree, no battle bus, no Secret Plan to Fight Austerity or indeed anything else. There is only us, as human beings, doing the best we can not to let these bastards a) grind us down and b) get away with half the shit they’ve been able to previously. I sense a lot more indignation in my future, and if I think you’re being a drama queen to make a point? SO CALLING YOU OUT.

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Please stop telling me what a horrible place this is, I know. The only way ANYTHING gets better online is when we as users start enforcing some rules. If you break the ones set by the people in charge, do not get upset when you’re canned, because that’s how it is supposed to work. This is not rocket science. Use your brains. Think before you post… we’ve been through all this hundreds of times. YOU MAKE THE DIFFERENCE.

We’re also part of the problem. Stop accusing other people. Fix yourself first.

No really, go and sort your own fucking lives out before blaming anyone else.