Quiet Life

I’d planned to paint the fence this weekend but, looking at the weather forecast, I think that’s probably not happening for another seven days. Instead, tomorrow I am going to introduce my daughter to the ideals of minimalism, and finally take myself to task. There’s a lot of nostalgia being held onto around me, and within, that really needs to be dealt with. I’m beginning to understand that, at least right now, removing the past does have a lot of tangible benefits.


This is my scheduled thank you to Jesse, the Internet Friend that has made a significant difference to my existence. I started looking at Minimalism about a year ago and it has taken that long for the real significance of the concept to filter through me. Now, the consequences of these ideas are beginning to alter the way I consider purchases, and what exists around me. Not all the concepts are totally embraced, but there’s enough of a change for it to make a difference. I’ve never totally prayed at anybody’s church, over the years.

Now I may offer to help out on Open Days.


There’s also been a lot of unexpectedly useful and very productive novel time. I expect to chip away at the narrative structure for the entire weekend, and (crossing everything) by this time next week should be at the end of the journey. There’s still a tonne of editing that will need to be done, but the basic bones are in place. I am hugely optimistic as a result. I’m really looking forward to the day when I will post a Tweet that states after eighteen years, this novel is finally complete.

That is really going to be a Good Day (TM)

The Test

Yesterday, I did my first FTP Test, and today I am quietly pleased.


The last time this number was registered by the Zwift software, it was 135. When I began cycling, I believe I was somewhere around the 125 mark. That was at the end of December, so to have seen a 10% improvement over that time…? Yes, this is clear evidence of progress. For people who care about numbers, I can demonstrate that I’m not coasting, or plateauing. This is me, most definitely going forward. For me, however, numbers aren’t that important. My weight, as a single number (for example), is nowhere near the truth about my body composition. I’m happy to be able to walk today, because last night was the hardest I have ever worked on a bike.

In truth my chest aches more, thanks to lungs finally getting the workout I’ve been scared to attempt.


I am still quite nervous about pushing into high heart rates, always have been due to my lungs not being as efficient as everybody else’s in providing the oxygen required. My lung capacity has, for some time, been about 30% lower than it should be, but I’m going to get tested again in a couple of weeks so I will be interested to know if that figure has improved. Making it into Z3 is not something that happens that often, and last night I realised that maybe that ought to change. However, to allow that to happen, I need more general fitness and less fatigue. Yesterday was not an ideal day to do the test, but on reflection, it was the right one.

Like it or not, numbers define my progress.


If this were just about weight loss equalling healthy, I’d have failed so many times for it to be beyond a joke. Fortunately for me, I’ve discovered that health is so much more than just the numbers, but requires me to accommodate and understand other people’s needs for them, above my own, in order to make progress. Happiness is not clothing fitting better, or not being out of breath when I climb stairs. That still happens, on days when air quality is awful. I can’t help the lungs I was born with, and the sensitivity they possess. However, there are lots of things that can be done to ensure that this doesn’t stymie me long term. Making the muscles around the lungs stronger, allowing my body to be more capable of healing and protection… and the list goes on.

At the top, mental well-being matters most of all.


However, I need to admit some truths. I like the way my body feels now, so much more than was the case before. I think my arms are my best feature, am really proud of both strength and definition. Being able to carry heavy things is always a bonus. I love the sense of satisfaction gained from progress: the numbers don’t matter so much as the sense of being more capable. Mostly, without the physical discipline that exercise has granted, I’d find myself really struggling to keep mental discipline in place. All my effort and achievement with the writing would not be taking place if not for the cycling, lifting and running.

I have become quite the model of symbiosis.


That makes effort more than worth the reward. It pushes me onto better things. It’ll get me out of this chair in thirty minutes and to the Gym for a PT session, which I’ll walk to and from. It won’t save me from injury or stop me from procrastinating, but the sense of well-being that I currently inhabit is unlike anywhere else that I can ever remember. Finally, I have a happy place, and exercise exists at its core.

If I’d only realised this twenty years sooner.

Addicted to Love

Day #2 of Weekdays in the Gym by 9am is beginning to have an effect already. I’m definitely clearer of mind, and there were even some novel ideas that sprang from my brain. I think, if I’m good, I’ll plan for breakfast there on Thursday. It is part of a long-term objective to wean me off getting overly hung up on Social media: if that alone works out it will be worth the effort. My body isn’t nearly tired enough, however, so I’ll be doing my FTP test today. If that doesn’t wear me out, I’m not working nearly hard enough.

After that, I’m slowly becoming capable of planning a month’s worth of work in advance. It is immensely satisfying to be able to produce consistent content, and then still have time to work on my own projects. I have not had a day since before Christmas where I didn’t feel I was working at capacity, and once this planning is set, there can be the opportunity to add more to the roster. For now, I am ridiculously proud of the Art Aesthetics sequence running on Instagram and Facebook. It does not matter one iota that only a handful of people are seeing it either, it is simply the start of another journey, exploring what can be done with simply my own imagination and a graphics programme.

This is what I have always wanted to do, and it remains glorious.


Mr Alt had his first real PT session last night. I’ve been trying to encourage him to do it for months, and finally, after Christmas, persistence won. Last night, after getting home, he thanked me for pushing him to make the decision. There is already evidence of physical alteration that Gym time has wrought, and it is quietly encouraging that this is possible with someone who has been previously quite resistant to change. Yesterday I was reminded too that that other people find inspiration from these words. Yes, it really did make my day, plus, anyone sticking the current 007 in my timeline gets extra snacks regardless.

If I can keep this momentum going until Friday, it will have been a great week.

You Wear It Well

I was in the Gym at 9am this morning. There’s the first changes to air quality which, I suspect, is the beginning of cherry blossom and daffodils making my hyper-sensitive lungs splutter and strain their way to the end of July. Ah, hayfever. My weight’s up again but not by much, so, we’ll keep on with the food monitoring and driving myself into the ground under the auspices of Fitness (TM) Don’t get me wrong, I still love all this shit, but on days where my brain is trying to process all the mental stuff that is going on above the priority of physical relaxation… it gets tough.

I managed a significant step forward on the exercise front yesterday, as it happens.

Twenty-six seconds faster is MAHOOSIVE, people. It shows a considerable strengthening of leg muscles and improvement in stamina. There needs to be more hills in my training now and tomorrow an FTP test is scheduled. Improvement is not just about doing the same thing over and over, after all. I struggled a bit with heavier weights this morning so went down a bit to complete maximum sets of everything. It is the hangover from last week’s negatives, but there is strength there which didn’t exist before. It would help if I’d have managed more than six hours sleep last night, but that’s what happens when you decide to change everything pretty much overnight.

It’ll take a while to sort out all the changes I instigated over the weekend, but today is a decent start. I have to hope that fatigue won’t completely scupper everything by Friday, but am already cautiously hopeful. It’s when something unexpected happens that everything goes tits up, so *fingers crossed* the next seven days can be as stress-free in that regard as possible…


The day you first learn to walk, there is no expectation. It is a natural and normal part of your development from child to adult. You decide the right moment, and then it is no longer an issue. I’ve never broken a bone in my life (touch wood) but have had a period where I could not walk unaided. The day you know the crutch is no longer required should not become the be-all and end-all of the dependence, but that is only if you realise that you relied on the support.

Finally, the stage has been reached where it matters that what I write is seen as mine, and mine alone.


This has been a long, strange journey, but now it is time to stop using a video game to sell me. I no longer wish to use this method as promotion either; finally, there is sufficient confidence to build a brand on my own work and not criticising someone else’s. It’s a crutch that was for a long time an indispensable part of my daily life; now I’ve returned to just enjoying it for what it is. In fact, once I’ve written this I’ll spend an hour sorting out characters and be maintaining an interest.


Only one person thought they’d try and ruin my day yesterday. Before there have been several. This, in itself, is an important step forward too. I realise just how toxic and frustrating the Intenet can choose to be on any given day, but taking control into my own hands have an important advantage: I make the rules. That means, starting in April, I’ll be promoting myself via Twitter for three months as a means by which to judge whether the platform has any use to me. It’s a risky (and quite expensive) gamble but without trying, I will never know.

This is unexplored territory, and quite exciting as a result.

Don’t Call Me Baby

We did Friendship on Wednesday. Today is Honesty. Some of you guys don’t like this as a concept on the Internet, that much is abundantly obvious. You’d rather maintain that air of mystery that helps make you look and feel like some kind of better, more worthwhile person. I’ll be over here, calling bullshit, and sticking you on mute. For everybody else, there’s a rule-set established in lots of other places apart from here. The basics bear repeating.

Put the fake disbelief away before you begin.

You’re a Brand, Charlie Brown.


Please, enough with the indignation already. EVERYBODY on Social media who are using the platform to promote themselves COUNTS AS A BRAND. By far the fastest way to make yourself look like a total tool is to start a fight over ‘brand loyalty,’ and yet I watch people do it almost daily. Bait is surprisingly easy to spot once you’ve been here long enough… and the ‘well it’s my feed, I can post what I want’ excuse only works to a point. Learning your lessons on Social media means understanding when you stop selling, or start listening.

Most importantly, if you start a conversation with only one thing in mind and then get upset that your intent isn’t grasped? You weren’t clear enough, it’s your problem to solve. If someone else decides to hijack you and it all goes horribly Pete Tong? Mute + block if it gets messy, and just mark it down to experience. Or, you might get lucky and your nemesis vanishes because they finally got a life away from the Internet. Anything is possible.

Talking of bait…

Asking for Trouble has Consequences.


I see you, dangling your controversial shit in my timeline. Yes, I’m pretty certain this is 100% brutal honesty here, but this is the moment to remind the room we don’t think alike, you and I. In fact, no two people do cognitive awareness in quite the same fashion. You may see that guy as a political extremist, I consider this the efforts of an attention-seeking twenty-summat desperate to be liked. Until they actually post summat I consider flagrant or fucking stupid, they can stay. The key here is to have people on your feed you don’t agree with. It makes stuff interesting.

There’s a point of course where honesty is fine until you decide to challenge it. Twice now in recent memory, someone’s made a comment about what I’ve posted and my response alone has been enough to trigger an unfollow. No, I will not do what you tell me to do. No, I’m not going to play along with games. I’m not a big fan of people making it about them when all I did was post what I felt, and yet it will keep happening because of those people’s perceptions of their feed. Every single thing I post is there for a reason. If I’m self-deprecating, there’s a reason too.

The ‘All About Me’ Party is No Fun.


Twitter is not where you should do therapy, I have decided. This in itself is a fairly controversial opinion, for a generation who feel the desire to share everything both pictorially and aurally. I do realise that for some people Social media has become their escape and often the alternate reality required to survive the real world they are uncomfortable and nervous within. The fact remains, however, that to remain a functional member of society, solving all your problems via anonymity will only work to a point.

I have accounts that are periodically muted for this reason, but I don’t unfollow, and here is why. I have my own, complex issues, which on some days I struggle to deal with. When there’s enough strength to feel I could be helpful to others like me, I listen to everyone. When the days are darker or there’s a struggle, these people are quietly moved away from. It doesn’t mean I care any less, I’m just a shit listener and don’t feel I have anything helpful or useful to add. History has shown I’ve done the most damage previously when I don’t curate noise out.

I think some of you shouldn’t say half the stuff you do in public.

My honesty continues to get me into trouble. I doubt that will ever change: that’s best for everybody, even when the whole thing falls down on me with a thump. Now you know this is a brand, and this content is all part of a process of awareness not simply for peace of mind, we can all just carry on.

We Used to be Friends

This is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. You and I need to have a conversation about what it means to be friends.


There’s someone I know. Let’s call them R. I’ve tried now, ineffectively for some time, to encourage them to communicate. It works brilliantly initially, and then everything just falls down. We have not spoken for some time, and I am coming to the conclusion that a load of work prepared will simply not get used as was hoped, and will now be recycled elsewhere. My desire for a friendship has, effectively, failed to materialise. It is a salutary reminder that however hard you try, sometimes you cannot make people be friends with you.

All this time we spend online extolling the virtues of virtual friendships, how long do we take to consider the real truths behind the exchanges? Are the people you communicate truly mates, or are they simply being polite? Could you trust this person in a crisis? How much significance do you place on personal interaction, when this individual may not be as invested in the relationship as you are? The next time you’re online, ‘talking’ to someone, ask yourself the following questions:

Is this Conversation Comfortable or Not?


When you’re talking to someone, does it feel like they are in the room with you, or is it more distant? How much of your apparent connection is hopeful and not distinct? Be honest with yourself too: are you subconsciously flirting with the unattainable person at the other end of the Tweet? That one’s a real toughie to admit to the room, but we all have girl crushes that nobody will ever know about and won’t ever be admitted. There’s that married guy who, perhaps if things were different… and the list goes on. Being comfortable is a world away from using Social media as a means of self-gratification, and yet it’s going on every single day.

Once you allow inappropriate emotion to cloud your thinking, nothing is correct or normal anymore. This is the quickest means by which someone who has been polite and communicative with will and can walk away. If I suspect you’re not treating me with respect, and even if I can’t be sure but your conversation makes me feel uncomfortable or awkward, I will no longer continue to communicate. If you then decide to make my decision a subject of contention, I’m going to be pretty justified in taking it. If you’re using someone for your own ends, eventually, they will work it out.

This is Supposed to Work Both Ways


I have a particular friend who I speak to, every day, via DM. Sometimes it is only a ‘hi, have a great day’ but that connection has become a very important, reciprocal connection. It began as the equivalent of the cheery wave to the guy you pass every day on the corner, or the line of conversation with a Barista… but has evolved into something far more significant. This daily poke is now backed up with joint concern for well-being, care for home life and support on tough days. It’s contact + depth + effort, and that equation is pretty potent.

If you talk every day on Social media, you’re not friends without the additional backup. It may feel like the connection is there, but it isn’t. That will only come with effort, time and joint reciprocation. Calling someone a friend when you don’t know the ins and outs of the life behind the keyboard can be a dangerous game to play. If your attachment to them is only made up of what you see, hear and read you may know a lot about them, but that does not make you their friend. If in doubt, ask. If you’re too afraid to ask, the chances are you’re not as close as you wanted.

Respect is Absolutely Vital


I’m looking at the people who appear in my DM’s without a word here. I’m talking to the individuals who think the rules of polite society don’t apply to Social media when they so utterly do. If I find you’re pretending to be polite using robot following software, there will be a special curse and expose of your duplicitous lies. Respect is absolutely vital. Understanding then comes a close second. That follower I didn’t get on with for years but respected enough to live with ultimately would not do the same in return. At least she left by her own volition.

You may not like the fact that you’re asked to be a certain way with people, but that is how respect works. Telling me not to just cheer up when I am in a depressive episode, criticising my actions when you have no idea of what causes them. Making no effort to accommodate really does go both ways. I know I have work to do, and progress to make in both these areas. Can you say the same? Before you throw that first stone, have you asked the question of yourself? Of course, you haven’t because there are no consequences on Social media…

There are ALWAYS Consequences on Social Media…


It’s amazing how easy some people find it to take all that love and compassion they normally exhibit and turn it into bile-fuelled, emotionally-charged hate. Don’t be that person who loves to be a total twat in their feed, when it suits, and when you call them out will simply make some delf-depreciating excuse before blaming you. If you want to spend the rest of your life living out your shortcomings online, eventually someone will put two and two together and you will be royally fucked. Don’t think anonymity really exists either, because it doesn’t if you make enough noise about how nobody cares. When people start to care, they find out stuff about you. The only way you truly remain anonymous is by saying nothing.

That’s why I write all this stuff. It is my reason for being sometimes too painfully honest. The moment you start lying, there’s no escaping the consequences. If you really want to be friends with me online, then it has to be the truth and nothing less.

And Finally…

You can forget my birthday. You can not talk to me for months but if you turn up when it matters, I’ll conveniently forget all manner of previous misdemeanours. However, there comes a point where both history and perceived commitment don’t wash. Telling me you were there for me for decades when you weren’t, remembering from time to time ‘oh yeah, I should see how Sarah is’ is friendship, yes, but not the type I crave the most. I write here every day. My future exists on this platform, and beyond, and my World, like it or not, is an indivisible part of Social media. To be a part of my life, you have to be happy existing here, and willing to do so.

As a result, I suspect there will be a search for new friends going forward. As soon as there’s an opening, I’ll let you know.