Let Me Entertain You

Everything got shifted to one side yesterday, in order for me to finish something, which I summarily did. I have learned an awful lot about editing and video producing in the last month, and all of these things will now be put to good use elsewhere going forward. I’ll also be appearing in a Sunday paper tomorrow: not sure in what form as yet, but I’ll let you know when I do.

That’s it. I’ll be back on Monday.

Shout

It is a truth personally acknowledged that peace is my ultimate aim. I fucking hate fighting with anyone, for reasons which are now clearly and inextricably linked to trauma. It’s why my pulse races in situations where other people are being unpleasant. it’s the reason certain circumstances and situations are now actively avoided. It’s also crucially why criticism used to be the hardest thing in the world to take.

Lots of things have improved in the last two years. Being able to conduct myself with calm, to be able to rationalise those situations and step back objectively from them is a massive step forward. Criticism is now sought, positively encouraged, and has becomes the means by which significant steps forward have been taken in approach. It’s why what gets written and outputted from now on will different from what has come before.

This morning, as the UK begins to move into Second Lockdown, it is really important not to go backwards in terms of momentum. Therefore, everything will be readdressed and reconsidered. Output in various places is already being streamlined. There are other issues to consider this time around too, and all of them are as important as my professional goals, if not more so. Looking after myself is a real priority.

I’m dreadful at self-care at the best of times, and this can’t continue. If it means stepping away from social media for an early night, or rearranging the order things are attacked in the day, there has to be a change from what is undoubtedly ‘normal’ behaviour. The result, it must be said, is already significant. That’s not going to be lost in panic again.

This time, we keep moving forward, and with optimism.

Feelings

It is human arrogance which has assumed, up until this point, that for a planet to be inhabitable it would first need to capable of supporting human life. This is, of course, utter bollocks and if it now transpires that life exists here, on Venus… well, that throws quite a lot of stuff into disarray. Again, we are back at the point where thinking in one, very linear way, is just asking for trouble.

It’s odd right now, watching people begin to grasp uncomfortable truths that have perhaps not previously been obvious to them. The most stark one of all is the realization that people have been used as product online for some time, and are only waking up to this as there’s nothing else to distract from reality, and an inescapable truth.

‘Directly support the Creator’ is one of those horribly glib statements that could just as easily mean ‘then Twitch don’t have to charge you for making content’. The publicity blurb for this is worryingly upbeat too: ‘Ads are an important part of Twitch – they help keep Twitch free for creators and viewers, and enable us to continue to craft new and innovative features and supply unique and engaging content for our community.’

Except, of course, that’s not a profitable business model, and this planet is all about those. Yet again, this is one group exploiting another for massive material gain. It should be making far more people uncomfortable than is currently the case, but it still doesn’t. People are happy to let this stuff wash over them. As long as they are not massively inconvenienced, what’s the problem?

Only when stuff becomes personally frustrating or annoying do we react.

This comfort v discomfort dichotomy (go look it up) is a big deal right now. I watch it play out almost daily on my timeline. Sometimes it’s about summat petty, yesterday it was about politics, sexuality, gender and public accountability. For me, I rationalise these things in two ways, with a feelings v reality death match.

It’s very simple: how I personally feel about something is stuck in a mental space alongside the truth of what is happening, and one of two things takes place. My feelings will either a) align with the reality or b) they won’t. If the former is true, everybody is on the same page and I get to have an early second cuppa. If the latter pans out, then I will be face down on the canvas with a boot on my face, and will only have myself to blame.

The truth matters now than it has ever done at any point before.

Smart is a hard task. Distinguishing what is real and what isn’t has become the schism in so much of our lives and accepting you got shit wrong… well, it’s a hard ask for many people. I’m going to have to admit I seriously misjudged some timescales this morning, in a meeting, but I will still meet a deadline. It’s okay, I’ve got myself covered.

Feelings v reality ought to be a far bigger deal than is currently the case.

Lies

I wrote in my diary this week that a longlist acknowledgement would be due for an award I’d entered for. Last night, there was a large Chinese take out as commiseration that, yet again, I’ve not made the cut. This served two purposes: it’s my last ‘big’ meal for two months as of this morning, I have some eating changes that need to be instigated, so plans for exercise will fall in the right place.

I’ll talk about this part of my mindset change in more detail next week, but the TL;DR version of it all is that I am not enough any more. Mentally an awful lot of stuff is working well, but it not in the right places, and therefore starting today there will be rearrangement (yet again) of my spaces. You won’t notice a lot of it, but to me it is pretty much everything.

There’s been a lot of singing in the car this week. This is good.

No really, there’s been practice of circular breathing, which I’ve not done since I was regularly playing a musical instrument (I was a bit of a prodigy, as it happens, but we don’t talk about that part of my life any more) It’s use now will be for stamina training during exercise: I’m gearing up for my cycle FTP test tomorrow and once that is done, many things are going to get reorganised.

We’ll talk about it all tomorrow.

Across the Universe

It’s been an odd weekend. Once the negative test results came through on Saturday afternoon, a poem fell out of me that wasn’t really poetic until right at the end, but undoubtedly is now the most accurate summation of my life thus far. Considering your mortality is something that happens a lot as you get older. I did it a very great deal this time last year after coming out of hospital.

Today, I’ll be making a massive effort to eat healthier, and continue to do so going forward. I have an FTP test on Saturday which will redefine the next three months of exercise. There is a lot of work to do, both personally and professionally and it is time to stop mucking about and get on with the process of progression. I am ready to move forward.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. The biggest ones never leave, are permanently rattling around my head, and it is sensible never to dwell on them for too long. There are opportunities now to be a better person, permanently, understanding that penance is never going to remove those actions, but as time goes on the moments themselves will become less relevant.

I’ll be having nightmares over that test on Friday. It’s more than likely that’s not the last one I’ll end up having to self-administer: this thing doesn’t go away now. The world has changed, and will continue to do so for years to come. There has to be a way to meet all these challenges with optimism, and determination. Redefining existence should be a regular occurrence.

It’s one of many plans that are about to be set in motion.

Mirrorball

There will be a moment, not long from now, when I rationalise my personal timeline. That’s nothing to do with social media followers either: this is the task of writing down notable moments in my existence to check the voracity of events. The stuff I can remember is VERY clear, almost technicolour in its brilliance. Everything else… yeah.

Emotional overloads have caused holes. Some are deep and wide enough to have obscured entire years. It was one of the reasons I started blogging, if truth be told. It does mean making time to trawl through everything that still exists as litany to various pasts, and interests, and people who have long since been removed.

It’s why Facebook remains absolutely never an option.

This month will also be the one where I step away from anyone trying to sell the ‘Internet is EVUL’ line ON THE INTERNET in order to sell themselves. It’s becoming really quite easy to spot the idiocy here and you have two choices: embrace and fight or ignore and walk. If the person’s high profile, it isn’t worth amplifying their reach. Anyone else however and I’ll call them out.

People have always been disappointing, the world is full of idiots: if countless people mistake my politeness for a come-on or an attempt to seduce their partner? Nothing really changes in the long run except the baseline level of comprehension. We are miles ahead from where this was 30 years ago, sure, but it’s still the fucking Dark Ages. Make no mistake, if there’s stupid to be had, someone will always ask for seconds.

This month, I’m gonna aim for more interactions and less beef.

Anything else will be a bonus.

You Know My Name

New month. I changed some stuff last night, on a whim, because this is apparently perfectly acceptable if you’re on social media in 2020. I’m also considering some more systemic alterations going forward. As this is the ‘transforming idea’ section of my Change Process diagram, anything is conceivably possible if I have the momentum.

Every year since I started my poetry journey, I’ve taken a speculative punt at the National Poetry Contest. For the first two goes, it was just that. This year I was convinced I could be good enough to at least have a chance. After all, if you can’t believe your own hype, who else is likely to? However, looking at last years’ entries, I remember how angry I got and then really, everything got a bit messy.

Yesterday, I put two entries to bed.

For some time there has been internal conflict over what makes a commercial success just that. I’m also very annoyed reading a lot of ‘current’ poetry because… well, it just doesn’t do the job of being poetic enough. Coming out of what has undoubtedly been a quite intense and emotional period of my life, working out the rhyme in reason has begun to matter rather a lot.

Over the last couple of months I’ve speculated with a ton of other styles of poetry and then, it occurred to me yesterday, that’s not how I do my best work. ‘Rock poetry’ is my best work right now, and by that I mean the poems I’ll conjure as prompts from an image a bloke on Twitter posts, approximately once a day.

Most of this has rhyme in it somewhere too, which is not de rigueur for most places at all and so, based on the considerable success of these works in a poetically sympathetic audience, a decision was made. One poem written in the moment, one written over time. Both submitted yesterday, and that’s it. No more stressing. No more letting it control both mood and thought. They’re gone now, move on. I won’t even know that I’ve failed until February FFS.

There are better things to be worrying about.

Go Up

I’m quite excited this morning. A Kickstarter which I backed nearly two years ago will arrive (according to UPS) on Friday. This piece of equipment delivers the end to a story which began on my birthday in 2018. No, really, the date on the video below is October 23rd, 2018. It is a story about meditation, from a woman I greatly admire.

Pull up a chair.

As a result of this video, Simone started a Kickstarter to purchase your own Every Day Calendar. As you can see by the progress page it has been a really, REALLY long road to get here which has included along the way the reoccurrence of health issues for Ms Giertz which initially bought her YouTube Channel to my attention. To say she’s an inspiration would be a MASSIVE understatement.

Waiting has never been a problem for me. Patience is part of the long game plan everyone needs to play, and when this item finally arrives we’ll unbox it, check it works but won’t stick it on the wall just yet. That will happen when I get my new office space, which has now gone from just a dream to actual planning. The biggest irony in all of this remains I now grasp I didn’t need Simone to make me a calendar at all.

I just needed her to share the idea.

At the end of August 2017 I’d completed the Ride London 46, with a fifty mile ride from London to Southend the week before as a warm-up. It was the most exercise ever done, and it gave me a new sense of optimism and enthusiasm for what might be achievable going forward. So, in September that year, I decided to push hard for my real goal.

I was going to try and pursue the dream of being published, to become a ‘proper’ writer and stop mucking about on the Internet. However, for the next year, the same issue would play out, time and again: I’d get so far, before anxiety would let me down. We’d be back to square one. It was almost impossible to make any kind of coherent progress.

Then, on my 52nd Birthday, Simone appeared.

Over the next two months, I realised what it was that was stopping me doing something every day: me. I was the problem, and to fix it would take more bravery than had existed for probably my entire life. As the sun set on the calendar Kickstarter, I make a breakthrough and went from ‘just a poet’ to ‘published poet’ and the World got an awful lot brighter as a result.

In the time it’s taken to make Simone’s idea a mass-produced reality I’ve undergone counselling, made exercise a daily habit as well as using meditation and exercise to alter my physical well-being. I’ve become a Time to Change Mental health Champion, have two poems being published before Christmas, and completed Red January as a successful fundraiser.

Crucially, I have tried to be consistent every day.

The journey to here has been anything but easy. However, two years on the path forward is a lot easier to grasp. Why things happen in my head used to be a mystery: not any more. If I use yesterday as an example, I know exactly what triggered my anxiety, and how it was then summarily dealt with. Understanding those reactions is an ongoing process. It never gets better, just easier. That’s perfectly fine.

My life now is a series of red dots on a calendar that mark the days when no only did I do something, but something better happened as a result. Once upon a time there’d be long periods when I never really participated as myself at all, but an echo of myself, a sliver of representation. Not any more. If I can’t cope, I ask for help. If I struggle, I tell people why.

Asking for help is still the hardest thing of all.

I’m really quite excited for this parcel. However, it’s just a thing, an item. The benefits above and beyond that purchase are only now being properly weighted and appreciated. It’s true, sometimes you’ll have to have a bike or some shoes or maybe a club or a gym to go to in order to make some dreams a reality. Other times, all you really need is to believe in an idea enough to make it real without those things.

Sometimes, you need someone else to tell you it’s a GOOD idea.

Turns out daily progress really was mine to dictate in the end.

Imagination

You will be more than aware by now that I am not a big fan of sudden change. However, yesterday, summat came so far out of left field that it was largely impossible to have predicted. There are some shiny updates that are going to massively improve productivity and make life considerably easier all round, and the job now is to get everything back to working where it was, in order to capitalise.

The major change here is my graphics ability. I’d expected to need help in producing print documents going forward: both power and capacity exist now to do that myself. There’s also a video upgrade, which I can capitalise on starting next month. Everything else that I’ve had to hastily bundle aside is easily rescheduled. Really, this is all a bit of a triumph.

Except there is consequence. There always is. In this case that equates to a mental exhaustion that I suspect many people would recognise as having run out of emotional energy to get even the most basic stuff done like, for instance, this blog post. It has been taunting me all day because, like it or not, benefit in long term productivity requires a short term forfeit.

It doesn’t help that I worked my brain very hard today at the gym. Normally it’s just heavy lifting but today, lots of stuff was learnt new for the first time. I exceeded last week’s deadlift record. I know there’s more in me too, it’s just getting the form right and practising more lifting. That will happen again on Friday but for now there’s a static bike with my name on it… and a tough workout to complete.

There might also be a quick nap before I go to stick a bar on the internal batteries first…

All the Rowboats

… and we’re back.

So much of my world right now is red flags. Yes, the world remains on fire, but sitting complaining about it won’t fix anything. It is becoming increasingly depressing watching individuals who’ve been promising all through Lockdown to kickstart their self-improvement regimes still making the same old posts where it is apparent nothing has changed.

We are all here, flailing with various levels of competency. No-one is really winning anything either. The choices therefore are stark: continue to complain or get on with something constructive. I have a plan to be benching 45kg by the end of September. It looked a bit wonky this morning, if truth be told, but as soon as my brain is in the space, it will happen.

I also have some new notional targets to aim for.

This weekend’s cycling was brutal, and the next two weeks are even harder. At the end of that, we do an FTP test and see if three months of pedalling like fuck has had any appreciable effect on our fitness. Then, quite possibly, we’re going back to trying to run for a bit. I really haven’t thought that far forward, though it will start happening now. There needs to be some future proofing.

We’ve begun the slow changeover of work website resources too: now my ‘work’ is Patreon based, that doesn’t need to run every day. However, it will need to be available for selling things, which also gets worked on this week. So much to do, so little time for whining. It’s why I’m really happy to leave that to people who are clearly better qualified.

There are far better things to be doing anyway.