Enjoy Yourself

Once upon a time, when I wrote blogs, this was all I had. My world was a lot smaller, and considerably less interesting. It was important to make myself feel that The Future would be more and that I was capable of reaching it. Having now got to a space where things are hard to keep up with because so much goes on? Time to look back. Sometimes, I can be overcritical of my capability, or lack of it.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with my youngest. They will be 18 in March. What they said to me was incredibly, massively significant. I covered the acceptance of this pretty well, but it was the equivalent of having a sizeable stone dropped into my small pond of existence at some height. Everything in the ecosystem has been disturbed. The look and feel of that space has changed too, in some places for good.

As a result, I’d like to talk today about why it really, REALLY matters to thank people.

I could have easily written this and made it into a Work Thing, but it’s becoming increasingly important to delineate between ‘time you enjoy’ and ‘time for business.’ If you’re lucky like me, work is fun most of the time anyway because you are doing things that are enjoyable. The distinction for me is when work becomes personal, and people I meet stop being colleagues and maybe become friends in my profession.

I’ve spent the last nine weeks listening to people who are far better communicators than me explain how to do that better. That’s what poetry is, when all is said and done. These are my stories, let me tell them to you, just with a better structure than just words on a page. The three poets I studied have lives I can only imagine and understand because of their skill in that ability to communicate. That’s a big deal.

One lost a leg to cancer, one moved from town to countryside and never went back, the last is a domestic abuse survivor. These are all pieces of vast, complex mental and physical stories that reviewers/publishers/publicity ultimately distil or mould as they feel fit to attract an audience. When you hear people read and talk about their work, all this falls away. It is just people, telling stories.

I fucking LOVE listening to people willing to share their lives both freely and willingly.

In such sympathetic environments, and assuming everyone is willing, strange things can and do happen. You become more than yourself. Truths you have kept silent, often for decades, will finally emerge. The people who listen know what they hear is private and important, and crucially they respect both you and the space in which it has happened. That’s why it is so important to mark these moments, and thank people not just for allowing you the space, but for their respect and understanding in doing so.

My youngest thanked me yesterday. They’ve done so countless times before, it was the why that altered so much. In the last nine weeks, it was that WHY that has changed my world view, the question that is lost in webinars and large group work or when you find yourself in a space where people don’t hold the same political or religious views that you do. Many people need this to stay safe. I find it restrictive.

I understand only too well why people need to only have two sexes as the norm, why being conservative is how they maintain a sense of equilibrium and focus. That’s the world I came from and never felt comfortable in. It’s a world I walk into on a regular basis to interact with others, seeking out those who only visit those spaces too. None of us live there. It’s increasingly unsafe and difficult to do so.

Today, if someone has complimented your work or made you think about yourself, please consider thanking them. This is not a star-based rating, not as a way of pointing out that a need to highlight them. Anyone with basic media training knows the placed compliment, the staged affirmation, the organized endorsement. Asking for a compliment or a retweet is never the way you should ever go.

Instead, tell people the truth. I LOVED working with all the people in my writing group, all of them so very different and brilliant, and all with stories. BOY, the stories. I don’t get to share them either. That’s their job, but I REALLY hope some of them do, because such fucking CRACKERS, insight and vulnerability and total, UTTER class. Again, massive thanks to Wendy for facilitating it all. You’re the best :D

TL;DR? If someone gives you a safe space to grow as an adult? THANK THEM.

Hot Hot Hot

My optimal operating temperature’s about 18 degrees Celsius. The last few days, therefore, have been beyond grim. I came to the conclusion this afternoon that I was probably dehydrated, and no training today was a good call. So, I’m behind again. What can I say. There’s been no actual progress since we spoke last anyway. When there is, I’ll let you know. For now, I have poems to read.

Alternate Title (Randy Scouse Git)

This is not the blog I was going to post.

Carry on.

Don’t Tell Me

This will be a priority over the weekend, I think…

Yesterday

I’m only a day behind now. The emotional energy expended since Friday is still being recouped: a decision was made on Sunday night to rearrange short-term planning as a result. It is easy to forget/overlook just how physical a new experience can be, plus the trauma of getting used to a new place. The bag I packed to work with needs a serious rethink.

It will literally take me WEEKS however to unpack all the stuff that happened, but I know what my personal highlight was, and always will be. That would be an exchange after the Writing Hour on Sunday with someone whose name I didn’t get. It was one comment, “I really enjoyed your Open Mic performance.” I said that to a fair few people on Sunday myself. To have it happen unprompted?

We are moving forward.

Easy

Something magical happened at the Gym this morning. For the first time, I saw the person I want to be staring back at me from mirrors that, for a long time, have been massively intimidating.

My ankle is still painful, but I jogged on it for nearly 10 minutes without issue, which tells me that this is the right path for rehab. Next time I will watch for holes and not be so dumb.

Today is a Good Day.

Start

Yesterday, in the middle of a Poetry Writing session, my brain rubber-banded back to the moment when I almost drowned during a swimming lesson as a kid. I’ve never learnt to swim as a result, and honestly don’t feel particularly safe in the water, ever. It’s something that will, in time, be dealt with, but not right now. That’s full of other demons that need attacking, and a foot that’s slowly beginning to heal.

I can’t help what I am, and today it seemed the best idea to embrace the disparity, rather than fight it. For large portions of today, I’ve experienced time in vastly different ways. It’s the indicator that this is the right direction. Things are changing.

It is all to the good.

Take a Chance on Me

This was a pleasant surprise to receive in the middle of a park in Ulverston on a breezy Saturday morning. This was also one of the things I just went for when it turned up in my feed at the start of the month. Sometimes, it is less about thinking and more just doing. Other times it’s about the Scotch Egg the size of your fist…

There’s been a lot of interesting developments in the last few weeks on that front. There’s a new Open Mic next week, and an unexpected appearance in an Anthology, which means that’s two publications in June. This is not to be sniffed at. Neither was the massive square of Elton Mess cake I bought home to scoff earlier.

The only downside to today is a rather swollen ankle, which I hope will not get any worse as time goes on. I was rather hoping to do a lot of photography and walking tomorrow…

Open Up

It is a tough thing to cope with when the realization hits you’re more productive on a phone, typing single finger, than you ever were sitting at a desk. All those times that work/life balance fell apart thanks to staring at a computer screen. This is undoubtedly better.

Morning right now starts with a cuppa and a protein bar plus me typing a post out on Evernote, wherever I happen to be. The benefits of immediacy and convenience therefore make it possible to build the habits back I have fallen out of.

Other habits are also back. It really is time to try and build the things I have always wanted: comfort, confidence and ability have always been hard asks, because the confidence to support them was always lacking. Now it is apparent I have a handle on why that is?

Time to lean in.

Duet

To prepare myself for going away, I’m writing this on my iPad. The WP app has always been notoriously flaky, and as it took three goes to load this after logging in, it is reassuring to see not much has changed in the five or so years since I did this last.

I wrote two poems today about what has happened in both brain and body this weekend. Both are surprisingly accurate. I hope that time away will result in me having some fresh ideas: space has been scheduled to allow some poems about the Lakes to form, in time for videos to be made in July.

Tomorrow I will begin the task of creating June’s work, based around the Estuary. The poetry in this case is very strong, and yes, I am confident in saying that. We’ll see next week if anyone else agrees with my belief…