Look Up

Sleep is not for the Weak, but for Winners.

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Once upon a time, there was a scepticism about knowing too much about my body. After all, the more details possessed, the easier it becomes to obsess (see: weighing myself daily) and that’s never going to end well. However, there are undoubted benefits to understanding what is normal and what isn’t. I’m also beginning to reconnect with the whole of myself: this began after the Mindfulness course, and has now extended to bodily control itself. Believe it or not, this is something that is struggled with, especially when tired.

My sleep patterns have undoubtedly suffered in the last twelve months from a combination of menopause, mental stress and physical exertion: that situation is slowly improving. The immediate and obvious consequence is an increase not in productivity, but physical co-ordination, and to capitalise on this I’ve been doing rehab therapy on my left hand side which (at various points this year) has suffered as a result of that clumsiness. The benefits are considerable, and add that to my physical training for the Ride London 46, and there’s an awful lot to be happy about.

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However, it isn’t weights or biking that’s affected the physical change, but the Bosu. I will be asking for one of these for Christmas, because the benefit of relaxing on one has become the most surprising part of my entire journey into fitness thus far. Yes, that’s relaxing, because standing on one now is the perfect means by which mind and body connect and stay focused. ‘Getting in the zone’ isn’t just about physical attainment either, it has mental benefits that are only now becoming apparent.

The importance of Mindfulness in reconnecting body and mind is more important than anything else that has happened for some time. The benefits are far-reaching and hugely significant, and only now is that becoming apparent. Every day, I am becoming physically stronger. With that basis, more is possible, and is happening.

The future becomes mine to shape with confidence.

Everything Connected

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The List is written and I’m off, knowing EXACTLY what has to be finished by midnight tonight. Deadlines used to scare me (or piss me off when there was no ability to write) but the ex-paid gig is to thank for instilling the sense of ‘look, this has to happen or you don’t get to do nice stuff.’ Today, therefore, is a reminder that getting pissed off that other people seem to be having a far better time of it than you are is the Number 1 Road to ruin. So, let me tell you a story about that.

For a long time, I blamed a particular person for my lack of success. The reasons for this were fairly simple, but the rationale was ultimately flawed. Ironically, it appears that my opinion of this person was pretty much their opinion of me in return, so it transpires that both of us were dumb as rocks. When it became apparent that it didn’t matter about my writing, and it was personality that had stopped progression in a particular direction, suddenly none of it was really that important. Yet, here I am, still being affected by the same malaise.

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Jealousy is a real productivity killer, a great means of triggering Imposter Syndrome, and normally those who instil it in others have little or no idea that’s happening. That’s the  key, I now grasp, to beating this issue: those whom champion their success in such a way as to prompt such responses aren’t talking to me anyway. Yes, I am listening, but those messages are not directed AT me. It’s the whole Social media disconnect thing, where ‘friends’ only matter to a point.

There are means to verify whether this is true or not. Watching other people’s conversations might be a bit voyeuristic, but Twitter seems to think I’d like to know what two people in my timeline are saying to each other when not even involved. That’s how I’ve begun to realise that for some, it isn’t about anything except being happy for themselves, and then there being a need to show everybody else how happy they are. It’s not malicious, anything but.

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When that freedom makes you jealous, then it is time for reassessment.

Right now, mutes are useful to stop brain being derailed by its own shortcomings, plus mindfulness techniques to prevent those feelings becoming overwhelming. Occasionally it’s also sensible to stop preaching, because even if you’re not intending that, it is what ends up happening. Mostly, I’d love less knee-jerk and anger, but that’s unlikely under current circumstances. Today therefore this reminder is more for me.

Make your own history, and stop letting others dictate your own.

Reality Bites

Yesterday was one of those moments on Social media where it became apparent that my version of Reality quite seriously deviates from a lot of others. It was also a salient reminder that what gets published is never the full picture.

You need to constantly be reminded of this, especially with those who quite obviously use the platform as an advertising tool, or as means to show their friends how invested they are in their joint interests. Part of the problem for me, over time, is that my depth of obsession with a number of subjects has either drifted or ceased to exist. However, for others those feelings still remain, and it would be both churlish and unfair to prevent the enjoyment that they bring.

It’s also quite difficult to discuss the consequences of a difference in outlook without someone taking this as criticism, and that’s the bigger issue. Depending on what your piece of art (whatever it maybe) set out to do, should largely dictate the response it receives. Critical thinking asks of a reader, or viewer, or anyone participating in a group event not to just get lost in what they are given, but appoint personal relevance to the experience. That does not have to mean enjoyment.

This is where the whole fabric of Social media begins to show some basic flaws.

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280 characters is a pretty tough platform to get right first try. I ended up yesterday telling a story, getting the threading wrong (each Tweet in the right order, attached to the same header) and ended up copy/pasting the whole thing off into a work processing document before getting it right second time around. If you’re reacting instantly and don’t think your process through, the consequences should by now be quite well understood.

However, that’s not all there is to worry about. If you’re the person who is happy their mates are having fun and isn’t fussed when they flood your timeline, there is nothing to worry about. However, when you’ve had a shit day, and it’s time to not just allow people to be happy because that point needs to be made… we all know where this is going. I unfollow those who complain about Eurovision, for instance, because a) it’s a part of my timeline and b) if you don’t get it, you won’t get me.

Occasionally, these differences allow you an important insight into people’s outlooks.

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For me, all of these moments where my feelings split are carefully recalled for future reference. Occasionally however something happens (as was the case yesterday) where it’s more than simply a difference of opinion, and I think I see something that might not be there. What needs to happen then is the independent verification from others that a) I’m not insane and b) this can be interpreted in several ways. I’d like to thank therefore everybody on my timeline who made me feel that I’m not alone, and that this Reality isn’t just mine.

That matters far more than I initially realised.

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Everybody needs to recognise the reality checks when they happen. Being alone, having a difference of opinion that sets you aside from others is not a bad thing. It’s not reason to panic. It shows that, crucially, your reality is not just yours alone. Understanding why these differences occur is nearly as important as being able to accept that they have, and the whole process has potential to radically transform the way you think.

Just be careful how you react when they happen.

Free Your Mind

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Welcome to Week 26, people, exactly halfway through 2018.

This is not where I’d expected to be. I’m still happier than at any point in the previous decade or so, and certainly more productive, but there is work to do. Therefore, this morning, I took my daughter to school and then went straight to the Gym. After a Pokemon had been put in it, I drove to a REAL Gym and did an hour’s work, and that’s what will happen every Monday, Wednesday and Friday throughout the Summer.

It is time to see if I can actually do my body justice.

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A decision I made in the Real World has come back to haunt me, as it transpired the instigated actions have cause more harm than good. There is nothing that can be done now, of course, except apologise to the person concerned and move on. What this has done however is push brain to reconsider a lot of what has been thought as the ‘right’ thing to do of late, based on what appears to have been an incorrect assessment of situation. Not everybody needs or wants help, after all.

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The best course of action right now is to just work hard and stop stressing about the stuff that can’t be fixed, and instead focus on improving things that are within my control.

That’s an easy task.

In a Different Place

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Yesterday, a consultant psychiatrist confirmed what I’ve suspected for quite some time.

I’m autistic.

The complexity and layers to ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) are pretty hard to grasp. It is easy to see why some people find this process traumatic in their formative years. Coming to it at this point, after a lifetime of coping, hiding and ignoring certain signs is, however, a massive relief. It confirms so much about existence to this point, and allows an opportunity to start looking for more targeted and focused means of dealing with confrontation, conflict and anxiety.

I could start throwing words about like ‘mild’ and ‘high function’ but at this point I see no point. Waving my diagnosis around as some kind of revelation is also largely redundant. Apart from the three letters in my Twitter biography, nothing has changed. Well, at least not yet. Until there’s the ability to work out what is now needed, and act on this as a force for positive change, there’s no real desire to discus this publicly at all. Therefore, this is all there is to say for the foreseeable future.

I need time to process, away from the Internet, and that’s what’s now happening.

Normal Service will be maintained as that takes place.

The Other Side

From the low, you inevitably come up. How that used to happen was normally accompanied by a lot of thrashing and wailing. This time around, the day started with a lot of playing Warcraft and no worries about the consequences. Stuff is scheduled and ideas are on the table. There will even be a short story finished by the end of the weekend for Mr Alt to edit. After I’d played, and progressed some stuff that was planned, there was a walk to the Gym. Lots of stretching happened both before and after the session.

There I worked REALLY hard.

The key is to keep moving. Once upon a time I’d have sat and felt sorry for myself, but having learnt the difference between good and bad pain after a year of experiencing plenty of both, there’s now the ability to discern the difference. Getting back on the road to fitness isn’t as painful as was expected, when all is said and done. What is hardest of all, and which prompted the Tweet yesterday, is everything outside of my control. It will mean that there will have to be a reassessment of priorities in the next few weeks. I have Eroica in a month (Saturday outfit sorted, Sunday will not take long.) There’s a distinct possibility I could be doing Ride London.

If they both come to pass, there needs to be more fitness than currently exists to complete both. If the latter happens, there’ll be a sponsorship page for a mental health charity going up because without support, I’d not be here.

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The problem is big numbers; building stamina, without my body failing to cope. That’s where the bike comes in, and why I’ll be getting back on tonight.

That whole ‘no pain, no gain’ thing is the absolute truth.

Somebody’s Watching Me

Occasionally, someone will retweet something into my Twitter feed I can’t see. If that person is someone really liked, and there’s a desire to read it, it’ll be time to fire up the Internet of Words feed for a quick shufty. Some people arbitrarily share the block filters of others (which is easily done via the default interface if you know how) and it has become a common tool, for example, to allow the more extremist ends of the discussion spectrum to identify and highlight those people who might be worth provoking for a reaction.

Having pissed off a few people in my time, when a block happens it is no real surprise. I know the people responsible for that ire, and that’s totally fine.

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You won’t end up being friends with everybody in life. This is something I’m still trying to get my daughter to grasp: the popularity contest vibe that places like Instagram create is all well and good, right up to the point that something divisive comes up in conversation. When historical and often unpalatable social beliefs surface in tandem, you know what’s coming. People use blocks in many different ways, but by far the most popular reason now appears to involve excluding large groups of people from conversations that the individual wishes to maintain control over, whilst still presenting a public front.

Effectively, life becomes a public conversation where the responses are edited.

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If I started arbitrarily deleting responses to my blog posts, I’d become a pariah overnight. I know this because I walked that path and it happened: lessons were summarily learnt. Assuming the people concerned still exist as active posters, there is never a desire to go out of my way to check whether that’s the case: obsessing over shit like this makes you as bad, if not worse than the people already doing just that. If you encounter someone who’s got a block on and it makes no sense, the chances are they just took someone else’s list for a quiet life. Except, by doing so, they create an impression of the truth that only works for so long, or in the particular sphere they inhabit.

Ironically, this becomes a good way to work out who are the decent people on Social media.

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I go through cyclical phases of blocks and mutes: the latter tends to happen when it is obvious that a person’s life is more important than being interactive in yours. If, after someone is muted and their voice isn’t missed, that’s when I’ll go ahead and unfollow. However, there are a handful of people that if this were done to they’d 100% make drama out of my choice, which used to cause something of a quandary… because these people create drama out of everything, and I’d like my choices not to be a part of that.

One day, perhaps the lesson will be learnt, but until then it will be someone else’s task to present.

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If you live in communities, there has to be give and take. All of us, like it or not, are not without faults and shortcomings. Managing yours whilst at the same time maintaining the illusion of being inclusive is not the way to live. The key must be to change, adapt and accept that, like it or not you have to take the good with the bad.

In time, I hope to find the means to do this more effectively.