Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards

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Last week’s emotional breakdown was triggered by a few things. Weight was one of them, with the realisation that I’ve been trying to lose the same fifteen pounds of weight for over a year. I needed some rationalisation of what exactly is going on inside my body, and have turned to science for the answers. I am genuinely staggered by what I have found.

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This is my latest weigh in using the impedance scale at my Gym. It passes a small electrical current through my body, and as different types of matter return differing electrical impulses, I can see what I am made of. The 1kg of extra weight there is, I can tell from the scales, all water, so there is nothing there to be concerned with. Everything else is telling me that I am, like it or not, most efficient at converting fat to muscle. The fat that isn’t muscle remains stubbornly unburnt/unused, and this will be because of the sweet tooth that I keep falling back on when stuff gets tough, and on Sunday was banished to at least Christmas.

It is time to make my body work in a way it seems frankly unable to entertain.

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The plan is simple: maintain the calorie count as it stands, but remove as much sugar as possible from my diet: no more honey in tea and the ‘healthy’ snacks which still contain sugar enough to promote my body to burn them before I attack my fat ‘reserves.’ That doesn’t mean fruit sugars (still having the pomegranate with breakfast) because that is part of the important fuel required by my body. This is removing all the superfluous shit that I felt I’d deserved by working hard but was crippling progress. That also means not taking a take away at the weekend and cutting out all the stuff I know is a hindrance until this weight can finally shift. The last 72 hours shows that the water weight is being nibbled away at: it will be the next 10 days that are key. I promised myself not to obsess about weight but now I want this excess gone for good.

It has become a means of showing myself that self-control and hard work is more than a reward.

This is my new exercise of choice at the Gym: it has the air of looking incredibly simple but, as is the case with most things, is hugely dependant on upper body strength. A year ago I couldn’t even manage to hang. Now, I have the strength to do 12 raises in 30 seconds. It means that pull-ups are not far off, and this was one of the reasons why I began this journey to begin with. I can feel a major move forwards coming, with a lot of the disparate parts of my life coming together. Once this bit of the puzzle is placed?

We’re a long way towards achieving a ton of personal goals.

Hear My Voice

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A lot has happened on Social media in 2017 as it becomes apparent that a small, vocal minority has made a hobby of destroying high profile personalities. This has ultimately filtered down to the lower reaches of the system: I’ve suffered ‘anonymous’ abuse from sock accounts myself. However, it does not take a genius for me to work out who is responsible for the actions. When there’s a finite pool of people you’ve upset, working out who’s targetting you as result becomes quite easy to fathom.

Twitter’s response to this has not been to target those people responsible via subtle, well-considered changes to its UI. It has used sledgehammers, again and again, to crack nuts that clearly are considered not worth time or effort to target specifically. Instead, there are large, sweeping ‘mutes’ that the high profile user can use to effectively silence those individuals that Twitter has identified as being the largest groups of troublemakers. If you don’t have a phone number registered for recovery, or you never got around to making an avatar, then these people can be made to vanish with a click.

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Except this also removes a vast number of people from the interaction equation who may simply not wish to use their phone as security, or even know how to make an avatar. Not everyone is as tech savvy as their friends, and many people aren’t interested in becoming that invested in this platform as themselves anyway. It bothers me greatly that others celebrated these changes without considering the people they were silencing could also teach them stuff about themselves.

The ‘echo chamber’ nature of Social media becomes all the more disturbing with each passing day: I’m not just talking about far-right supporters either. Anyone with a perversion or a kink, the far left’s own radical supporters… fanatical sports fans, rabid gamers… and the list goes on. If you create a space that is excluding people, for whatever reason (logical or otherwise to you) there is the potential to distort what passes as reality on any given day. By doing so, there is a chance you’ll end up warping how life is perceived.

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On the flipside, I read increasing numbers of people who realise they simply cannot cope with the level of reality presented to them: the only means by which they survive on any given day is to simply switch off and ignore the timeline completely. However, the people they have made friends with via social media remain only means to help to understand this same chaos: where do you draw the line? How much consumption is healthy? Is it realistic to live with everything and still remain sane?

It is a question I ask myself almost daily, and the answer has begun to be the same each time when I do.

This man is a hero, inspiration and benchmark combined. The fact he can tweet a phrase that inspires me to write in response, read it and then retweet it, is one of the most amazingly magical things in existence. It is unreal and perfect, showing that there are ways for random strangers to interact with each other and nurture each other’s abilities. Although half a country separates us, for a moment there is a reminder that we both sit under the same sky and can eulogise about this in our own ways. I have no pretensions of being anything other than a fan of Ian’s work, but I know that these moments have a vital significance.

By taking away people’s right to do this with blunt, blanket swipes at a platform meant as means for free communication, such beauty will eventually be lost forever. The other problem, of course, is that as the modus operandi of Twitter becomes more and more about making money and less around freedom of expression, it won’t matter about the details anyway. By then, one hopes, we’ll find a new and better way in which to talk to each other without someone else making themselves rich on the back of it.

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I cannot help but sympathise with the increasing numbers of people withdrawing from Social media altogether. I, however, have decided to try and make my living using this platform as both soapbox and advertising media, and therefore this means spending time trying to work out how I can exist within the rules whilst at the same time not go insane. Some days, it is like being beaten unconscious with treacle. However, with sensible use and an increased ability to regulate me in response, things are getting better.

I may yet get the hang of this stuff in the end.

Bicycle Race

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Today, my husband is 50. For my celebration last year he took us to Paris because that’s a place of considerable significance for us both. This year, he’s on the way to Italy, on the first part of a journey that I suspect may be just as life-changing for him as writing and exercise have been for me. With little or no grasp of the language, he’s been able to get a number of pretty rare old bikes purchased from private sellers and is now off to collect them.

After that, he’ll be restoring them all, and doing what he loves best: recycling old things to be like new. He did this before our son was born with keyboards and synthesisers, and I suspect that the bikes will be another part of his love affair with bringing vintage into the modern world. I’m slightly nervous about the whole thing, but that’s part and parcel of how I am because he’s not just my husband but my best mate too, and I’d be concerned over anybody doing the journey alone. However, this is his rite of passage, in a sense, into the second half of his life.

I couldn’t possibly begrudge him this opportunity at all.

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This means I have five days to be the grown up in the house. I won’t exercise today because I want to make sure I’m capable of getting both kids to school tomorrow even if I am below par. There’s a ton of house stuff to do to so I’ll spend some time later getting lists sorted for everything so I can tick off achievements as I go. For now, it’ll be some food, walking to the shops for next week’s provisions, and then trying to get everybody organised for Monday morning. It is only when he’s not here that I realise how much I miss, depend and often rely on my husband to help life move on smoothly.

I do love him so very much and hope this first day of Birthday is as life-changing as mine was last year.

Look Away

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Looks are fleeting, yet for so many of us, they form the entire reason for our existence. That doesn’t just mean physically, either: everything we consume has to look as good as possible. Take my Gym, for example: they rebranded their food concession earlier in the year, and an awful lot of time and effort has gone into the ‘healthy’ aspect of their produce. We use this food and that one and everything is fresh is the mantra, time and again. Except, they’ve now rebranded the menu again and I can’t help but think that this time I’m being spoofed, because the thing with the least number of calories on the menu, apart from a fruit salad for breakfast, is pancakes and maple syrup.

They’re supposed to be ‘protein’ pancakes but nowhere on the menu is there an explanation of what that means, what’s in them or indeed how the calorie content of this breaks down. Sure, there’s a calorific value listed on the menu but nowhere on the website can I find an actual breakdown of what exactly is in this dish. Now, because I’m not the person who just complains about this anymore, I went to a member of staff and suggested to them that if the menu had a barcode on that I could scan (or even a QR code) that showed me exactly what this meal broke down into, life would be a lot easier, and I’d be more willing to eat there going forward.

Ironically, I have a better idea what was in my hugely unhealthy takeaway pizza last night than I do what was in my supposedly ‘healthy’ breakfast this morning. Summat ain’t right here, folks.

Today’s other massive revelation is how my push-ups have evolved since I first began doing them. Before I will be honest, there was no core body strength in me at all. Thanks to my surgery, which fixed a belly button hernia back in May, I now have the ability (and muscles) in these areas which simply did not exist before, and this has meant that the form I used to compensate for that lack of strength, is now hindering proper posture. Just as I had to relearn how to run, I’m now tasked with the ability to relearn how to push myself up and down without losing the ‘plank’ posture that matters so much and bloody hell do my arms hurt now.

The great thing about this is, as was the case with running, that I need no equipment to make a change. There’s no fancy workout or video to follow. I simply have to learn to lift myself, and once that takes place without effort or pain, a lot of other stuff falls into place. Plus it is an exercise that can take place every day without the need for a rest. Tomorrow’s 36 will be tough, I suspect, but after that, it will be downhill all the way. I am looking forward to what I know now is the next step forward in my physical transformation. Even with a head full of cold, that’s the most satisfying session of PT I’ve undertaken for quite some time.

It’s all up to me now, and long may that be the case.

Kemosabe

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Today, like most this week has been noticeably different for me than the time that has come before. It isn’t that I’m nursing a cold (curious hybrid of daughter’s and my PT’s) or that I’ve been working on a slightly different schedule (because of the continuing #ThinkTober project.) My mind is different. I stopped getting scared about stuff. There is a distinct reduction in overthinking and just more doing. Today would normally be working on the novel but I’ve put that aside to clear up some of the backlogs, write some poetry and plan what happens in November.

That’s a new thing that happens now, kids. I write poetry after coming back from the School Run.

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Today it was the utterly mortified bloke left with his daughter’s heart-covered umbrella. I saw him and somehow just knew I had to immortalise the image for eternity. There’s another poem too about the weather but I’m balancing sharing some of this generally with Patreon stuff because if enough poems get written I can (conceivably) create an anthology. That means not wafting stuff all over the Internet first and splitting output accordingly. Needless to say ‘The School Run’ series of asides might yet get its own website by the end of the school year if I keep having inspiration bursts like this.

It is good to have lots of different content to fall back on.

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I am yet to decide which of my various Works in Progress gets the nod, and notional deadline of Friday is looming large. Hopefully, there’ll be some large and significant moment of revelation either today or tomorrow. My brain is fully aware of everything that’s there to play with. Let’s just hope that enlightenment occurs sooner rather than later. I also have a schedule rearrangement to do for next week, as my husband’s off to Italy on Monday for a couple of days, and will, therefore, be unavailable for editing/beta duties on the IoW site.

I’d better get that organised now.

Freefalling

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As part of my new approach to Social media, I plan to (once a month) check a tool for follows and unfollows on Twitter, adjusting my feed accordingly. Whilst doing this yesterday, with the background of Las Vegas as a constant, I noticed someone I’d not heard from in six months. They were a regular interactor and always posted interesting and thought-provoking stuff into my timeline. What little I had gleaned in our interactions meant I knew she was a librarian (both in Second Life and IRL): a quick scan of their timeline showed that on March 2nd they went in for surgery on their right arm. On April 2nd, they passed away.

I felt sick when I read this: how had I not noticed she’d gone? I know I can’t keep track of everybody I interact with, and that my perception of friendship is always going to be skewed… but I was chastened, and it made me consider why it is we do this whole Social media ‘thing’, especially watching the events of the last 24 hours unfolding around me. The reality of life, of course, is that people pass away every day. Yesterday, 58 had their lives taken from them by a man who made a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic, with no previous convictions for anything. Not a madman, just a man.

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Yesterday, a lot of people said things I VERY strongly disagree with. In fact, some people I thought I knew uttered stuff that just made me shake my head in pure disbelief. I didn’t unfollow anyone, however: I listened. I tried to understand. I accepted a lot of what was said, even if I don’t agree. The key here is not to start a fight during a period of grief, but to know what it is that is driving the division between groups of people. The best means of doing this, at least for me, is simply to watch and learn. It is going to take some time to digest it all, but I intend to do my best.

This morning we have no hot water or heating, with an engineer on the way. Once that is fixed, I’m going to sit with a cuppa and a piece of cake and hold my own, rather overdue wake, and remember the person I loved to chat about virtual worlds with, whose history was vast and all-encompassing, and who just made me smile on difficult days. Looking at the responses to her passing at the time, it was a shock to just about everybody. Her life will be remembered fondly and with pride, and I will follow her until such time as her account vanishes forever into the ether. That means that there are two accounts which are marked as ‘user deceased’ on my timeline.

I’d really not like anymore for quite some time.

 

 

Audacity of Huge

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It’s a new month. I’m a bit behind, but not hugely so (which is progress in itself) and once I have caught up today (which I will) there’s an entire month of important and groundbreaking stuff from me. A list was written at the start of the year, and although some of it has not yet taken place, an awful lot of change and improvement has come to pass.

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I started an Instagram from scratch for this Project. I’m hoping my artwork will attract an audience because that is what this will be for the next 31 days: art based around poetry. I have no illusions either, but as I’m doing this right now completely for my own enjoyment and satisfaction? It doesn’t matter. It starts a process of using visual media in different ways. That’s October’s plan: push the envelope. Produce original work and escape the current comfort zone. There are still a few glitches along the way to overcome, but we’ll cover those too.

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I’m still not a poet, but the role is becoming easier to wear as time goes on. My main focus remains on fiction, and on that front, I announced yesterday my formal participation in NaNoWriMo this year. However, I’m yet to commit to the piece I’m working on. That’s causing a bit of concern, but there is now a distinct lean towards doing things ‘properly’ and planning an original idea from scratch. I’ve given myself a deadline of Friday to commit, one way or the other.

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I’m effectively using November to write, and blogging will pretty much completely encompass this process on the Writing Site. I’ve cancelled my Patreon output to accommodate this and will spend the month redesigning the ‘idea’ of IoW: when I began the journey, I considered poetry as something of an afterthought. This month I’ll be entering The Poetry Society’s official contest for the form. There’s a place I never thought I’d ever reach, and the next stage in my writing journey is short stories. This month’s offering is a forced and radical departure from previous attempts, for that very reason. You never learn by simply doing the same thing, over and over.

This month, many comfort zones will be blown.