Money for Nothing

The ‘cursed tweet’ reminded me of an argument, almost thirty years ago, on Usenet… you know, the place before the World Wide Web happened. Back then, Sociology was the bane of existence. You didn’t need to know how the World worked, just that you were trapped within it and that was that. The expectation was, as a young adult, that you’d pick a career that benefited society and not just yourself.

I wasn’t having any of that. I wanted to be a creative. Except, somewhere along the way, a lot of stuff happened and that part of me was lost. In the last three years, and after a phenomenal amount of pain and grief, this is an effective return to where I was at eighteen. The wrong choices were made back then. That will not happen again.

Fear will no longer destroy what I can become.

There are some stark choices coming up: the days of getting angry about everything must be put to one side, at least for the short term. It’s not going to be helpful, and when I watch how other people are doing their business right now… well, plenty of other people got the ‘incensed adult’ angle covered. I think perhaps I should lead with my own view, without all the hatred which is now largely absent from normal existence.

That means using my personal progress as a yardstick. Yesterday, for instance, felt eerily similar to the days before I scored my first publication: it’s a good sign, therefore, and should be used as a signpost for future effort. No, not everything will go right first time, and every issue that arises (as was the case yesterday) needs to be dealt with thoughtfully and with consideration.

It’s time to make some new plans going forward.

Musclebound

… and you’re back in the room.

This weekend has taught me a lot about stamina: not just getting my legs to a place where I can sweat out a training programme without fear, but how things really can improve if you stop giving up. It is about pushing through the pain and discomfort, and so much else. Knowing what you can and cannot do are important benchmarks. Once marked, eating into them, subsequently improving them is less terrifying, because they’re static.

Someone I care a great deal about pointed out to me recently my propensity to try and do everything simultaneously, and how that ultimately is destructive. Yes, it absolutely is. I freely admit this, and will happily attest that having a brain that decides everything is possible when nothing is fixed is a sure fire way to hamstring yourself. It’s happened for years.

Not any more.

As it transpires, taking a day off was all that was needed to let my brain relax into new ideas. Therefore, I will start scheduling rest days for writing as well as exercise. It also helps immensely that everything that was done last week was scheduled into next week, thus freeing up a ton of space that previously did not exist. I’ve also recycled an inordinate amount of old work into new spaces.

There is also some though being given to dismissing an original plan and producing something completely left field as my inaugural self-publicised work. It is already made, which in itself saves on effort. I’m still thinking about the options available. If you’re a Patron, I’ll be talking about it more this week via your blogs, and on the IoW website.

There is suddenly a great deal of possibility in the air.

Come Live With Me

There will be no cycling today but I will walk this muscle fatigue off before doing resistance bands and floor work. Today is upper body and core day as a result of yesterday’s suffer-fest. The heart data from that is a throwback to my 45 minute Blaze classes. Solid effort, nothing skimped. I even managed to keep up with cadence demands for the first time.

I realise now that the point of Blaze was to do this, only across your whole body: cardio, strength with boxing to combine the two. It makes a lot of sense in context to provide people with ‘a bit of everything’ and as a tool to lose weight and improve fitness it undoubtedly works, or I wouldn’t see people I know going back to it so readily.

However, for me as a tool it was, in the end, more social than functional, which is a sentence I never thought would be typed in this context. Once the red minute addiction was dealt with (there was for a while a real need to prove I was pushing via making a colour appear on screen) there was an understanding I didn’t go for the workouts, but to talk to people.

There, I’ve admitted it. I killed myself twice a week to be sociable.

What Lockdown was able to grant me was understanding of that motivation: without anyone else to encourage and support me, there was a choice: learn autonomy with weights and exercises or be unable to break the class dependence. Using the bike training workouts as I have for seven weeks now has been part of the rehab: you still get to work, but nobody congratulates you at the end. The only satisfaction is yours.

Undoubtedly mentally this has been part of the reason why my relationship with writing has changed in the last couple of months too: validation happens both in the saddle and on the page. Getting compliments for both are great, don’t get me wrong, but relying on them to stay motivated is never going to be sustainable long-term, which is why I find myself here, learning new exercises myself to keep motivated.

Your happiness should never be dependent on other people.

It should never be a contest either, and yet here we are, doing just that. I’ve seen the justifiable protests from those with sensible, rational objections to this. The idea that 21 days should be enough to form habits is great, but diets aren’t sustainable if you believe in the end you can just go back to the way life was before. Unless EVERYTHING about your life changes, you never do. Weight loss is one part of an INCREDIBLY complex puzzle.

As someone who’s very happy to have put on weight during lockdown, but who understand why that is and how I could still lose quite a lot of weight as a result, this is not the way. It’s a way, certainly, but without sustaining the concepts, and reconsidering what is considered as unfit and accepting too little and too much weight are also dangerous… nobody said this would be easy, and yet we’re selling it like it is.

After a lifetime of hating it, only now am I beginning to love my body. Claiming to be able to fix everybody in three weeks does not respect ANYONE in the process. Fitness should be a lifetime objective, not a vanity project or a hastily-constructed campaign.

There are better ways, and this is not one of them.

Long Distance

How To Be a Male Ally




(or ‘Don’t do that Here’)

I have been incredibly lucky so far in my life. It needs to be said, and reiterated, that I am surrounded by some INCREDIBLY nurturing and supporting men who are not my husband. All of these individuals get how ‘IT’ works, when that relates to what is socially acceptable and, crucially what isn’t.

With my realist hat on, those people have largely cancelled out the men who don’t get it. Right now, however, there is an imbalance on one side of the equation that needs fixing. Stupidity is on the rise, and as a result it seems like the correct time to be re-writing out my personal rule set for interaction. Crucially, a number of my thoughts on this stuff have changed in light of Lockdown.

Therefore, this morning we present ‘How to be a Male Ally’, Pandemic Edition.

RULE 1:


Don’t be a

If you’ve never seen Fairly Odd Parents (you really should) what you won’t know is that the Dinklebergs are the serially overachieving parents next door. They are the metaphor for aspiration, greener grass and generally all that is frustrating for our protagonist’s parents. I don’t need you to tell me what I could or should be doing. I appreciate your input, but that job in my life is covered.

This also includes correcting mistakes in blog posts. I appreciate your attention to task but if those mistakes exist I will eventually correct them myself and if I don’t that’s my issue and nobody else’s. This has become a Red Flag for me in the past six months, especially if you choose to do it publicly. You may well be acting with the best intentions at heart, but honestly, I’m on it.

RULE 2:

No, it really isn’t. You let me rant. I know, it’s what you really hate about me as a Blogger. It’s what annoys you as a Twitter user: why can’t she be like all the other sensible commentators on social media, and not resort to swearing AND ALL THOSE CAPITAL LETTERS. I dunno if you’ve noticed, but the World is on fire. All those people who aren’t acting like me really don’t get it.

You also don’t get the right to tell me to be quiet on my own platforms. Sorry, but there are rules here too: abusing writers when they don’t say what you want them to… not one of them. I’ve done all that shit with the Warcraft Community and nope, not happening again, not ever. If you’d like to know the people you’re still following on Twitter responsible for that abuse, I’ll happily provide it. My spaces means my rules.

RULE 3:

If I posted it to be controversial, I KNOW.

No REALLY, I’m a big girl. Let me die on this hill alone. If you support me, a simple quote-retweet onto your feed is great. If you hijack me for your own nefarious gain I will block you. Just watch me. You wanna be an ally? Appropriation is NOT support.

RULE 4:
Press the Right Button

Why does it need to be said? Because it ALWAYS needs to be said. Daily.

RULE 5:

It feels almost crass to say this, but if you spend all your fucking time telling me how much you personally support my causes, and what I’m trying to achieve and then won’t actually support me now that is an option? You don’t care. I am IMMENSELY grateful right now to every single person who grants me a pledge on Patreon. Several do so when I know they can’t realistically afford to, which is even more amazeballs.

One has gone so far as to supporting me away from Patreon which they object to on principle. This is utterly fantastic, and you can absolutely guarantee that when I make it to the big stage they will be publicly and repeatedly thanked by name. The fact remains, stop promising me you’ll help and support me when you won’t. Either come up with the goods or get the fuck out of my mentions.


If you’ve read this and think this is a personal attack? Congratulations, you’re part of the problem. If you read this and think that maybe you could do better? I absolutely guarantee you can. ABSOLUTELY the best way to support me right now, if it matters, is to become a Patron. I cannot move forward without funding. That’s what Patreon is.

Oh, and if you join my Patron thinking that paying a monthly fee guarantees you special attention? Think again. If you pay me enough I’m obliged to send you a Christmas Card, but everything else is under my rules, my auspice, and absolutely not for negotiation. You wanna be a good ally?

Get a realistic sense of proportion.

Can You Feel the Force

Every so often, something happens and you are given a unique insight into someone’s mental processes. If you’re a smart person, you’ll look long and hard at this data and learn from it. In the past week, I’ve had a couple of crucial conversations with individuals involved in various parts of my life: one personal and one professional really stand out as being indicative not how others have changed during lockdown, but how I’ve altered.

The professional one is really disappointing, but on reflection is probably no real surprise. My aspirations are vastly different to the people currently handling me, their concerns and mine not meshing at all. So, we’ll do what has been asked of me and move on. No drama, no fuss. A project that I wanted to do my own has been quietly subsumed. No matter.

The personal one I’ve seen coming for a while.

Finding people who share my passion for hobbies or pursuits has always been quite hit-and-miss. In this case, lots of people are clearly still struggling with the details of lockdown, and with the potential for it all to happen again in September, there doesn’t need to be any more stress in people’s lives than currently exists.

What going back to weightlifting has demonstrated is that control is a very big deal right now: who has it, who needs it and (most crucially) who cannot cope when it is imposed. I love getting to know new people but also know that there’s a point in every relationship where you either get closer and stay there or move apart and never return to that crossroads. I’m gonna be leaving a lot of people behind this month.

I suspect a few have already gone.

Guilt can be a strong motivator, however the damage that can cause often negates the point of effort. Right now, I need realism in my life, and lots of it, and if that means that along the way people and opportunities are missed or left to one side, it’s okay. I can’t get everybody to like me, and it’s impossible to do everything. Pick the moments, and your friends with care.

Life is moving pretty fast right now for everybody.

Back and Forth

You’ll no doubt remember the mini mental issue that happened at the end of May/start of June around some poetry. I got the rejection letter yesterday, but it wasn’t like previous ones. Over 500 manuscripts. I made it into shortlisting, roughly 10% of that total. I made it to shortlisting. I understand why people shove that in Twitter bios: you’re close. What I don’t grasp is those who don’t then capitalise on the knowledge.

Once I’m done here I’ll be splitting up that body of work into three pieces. All of them will go off to different places. I’m going to reorganise another collection instead of something half-written for summat in August. This failure has inspired me to greatness, and if all this fails again we’ll just pick ourselves up and start again. An important transition has been completed.

That’s all there is to it, I suppose. There is nothing else to do now than get on with it.

Time to do the work.

The End of the Innocence

I am no expert at nutrition. It has, as stated above, taken me this long to grasp why food and I are not often comfortable with each other. In a period where many people are looking at their eating habits after Lockdown and grasping that lessons need to be learnt, wading into discussions over improvements is potentially fraught.

For YEARS, I’ve considered labelling menus as a good idea. It also forces restaurants and places LIKE GYMS to assess how they make their dishes and to maintain a level of consistency. Of course the issue with doing this is accountability. If you say your 600 calorie dish is that, you gotta ensure that’s the case. No shoving full fat anything in it.

Rules make life really hard for those who know they’re breaking them.

I heard someone talking sense on national radio today, which was it has to be said a pleasant change from what currently passes for reality: ‘people mistake inconvenience for oppression’ and I wondered if it was summat that maybe he made up on the spur of the moment. Sometimes you know summat’s bigger than the moment it appears in. Most people wouldn’t do the legwork to check. I’m not most people.

Just seeing your objection to something can and will blind you to the bigger issues. We all need to be able to think past the things that upset us, or ail us, and to try and work out why sometimes compromise really matters more than being right. It is another symptom of privilege, like it or not. Just because you are happy with the status quo does not make it right or fair. It just means you’re in the majority.

For those who aren’t, or need guidance, or require a six-foot-high neon sign that says ‘WEAR THE FUCKING MASK’ there needs to be thought away from your own need and desires. This is especially true of those who like to claim to be objective purveyors of reality. You know, journalists. It means you attribute, you don’t steal other people’s shit, and you don’t let your own bias or experience colour your output.

I do not like this World for many reasons. It bothers me that the only way to win right now is to win. There is no second place. Everyone either gets it or they don’t, and it therefore seems highly appropriate to wheel out this piece of video as evidence as to why this is so utterly wrong. This evidence may be fictional, but if you ever wanted a good demonstration of the disadvantages of a full nuclear attack? Well…

Many parts of existence will only alter with seismic change. I totally understand that. It would be really helpful if the people standing in the way of those changes could grasp that if they just stood aside, or walked away, it would improve everybody’s happiness, but that is not where we currently find ourselves.

Maybe if a lot of people stopped trying to win, we might stand a chance.

Don’t Believe the Hype

My husband is a very, VERY keen cyclist. That means, in our house at any one time, there are SQUILLIONS of water bottles: some vintage, some too big to fit into bottle cages, some promotional and all prone to getting very mouldy if not cleaned properly. The best ones, undoubtedly, are minimal in their design and easiest to keep sanitary.

Doing just that this morning, I realise it is (yet again) time for a clear out. Detritus increases quickly in the modern world, so much stuff given away ‘free’ when it would be better for us and the environment if you didn’t feel the need to chuck me a bazillion tote bags and charging cables under the auspice of ‘look, we care about our clients.’

Then it hit me, yet again, that all of this faffing is a metaphor.

If I am going to succeed in business, finally, after all this time, making life harder for myself is not going to work. There is no need to reinvent the wheel every month, despite the fact it will make me look cool and edgy. Maybe, just possibly, introducing some consistency to my work might be an idea. That means finding a game plan, and sticking to it.

When it comes to Instagram, I am an utter Noob. Ideally, I should be using what is available to me without attempting to invent anything else right now, however smart or funny it might look. Therefore, today we have started a Plan of Action that will move through until Christmas. It’s hard to think that far ahead, I’ll be honest, but it seems a decent timeframe.

Let’s see if this new format will pay any dividends at all.

It is tough on the brain right now, so much to have to try and juggle. Watching stuff go out in the world and not have hundreds of people proclaim it a marvel, a wonder, the content they’ve been waiting for is difficult to cope with, when all you’re ever really after is someone telling you what you’ve done is great.

Expectation management is the toughest job of all.

So Here We Are

Whenever two or three people I know and follow, on Twitter, get together and have a conversation, Twitter actively attempts to involve me. Even on Tweetdeck, that interaction appears unavoidable. With my tech hat on there are clearly very good reasons why doing this is a good idea for the growth of the platform overall. Talking is, after all, the point.

However, it’s a lie, clear falsehood. It’s the equivalent of what used to happen in the playground at secondary school when someone wanted gossip to make them the centre of attention. I am well aware of the level of interaction at play on any given day, and these people would not, do not include me. It is an attempt to drive passive engagement, and I detest it.

It also drags me into issues I am often already trying to avoid.

This is, I will freely admit, the reason why some people I really like are at present muted. Mutes don’t stop the direct @ when someone talks to you with your username. Crucially it doesn’t remove likes or retweets being visible on Tweetdeck, at least initially. It allows me to acknowledge those who are my more enthusiastic supporters, who refuse to engage directly (for whatever reason).

However, of late, it means that certain discussions and arguments are unavoidable, however hard I attempt to curate. Part of this journey is realising I cannot fix everything, and I would be foolish to try, because the energy expended by doing so does and has deflected me from my path. Many people have commented on the downsides. I am going to take their advice too, because they care about me personally.

I know this not through here say, but through personal interaction.

It is apparent to most now how important virtual interactions are in modern life, and being able to place a measure of control on what takes place is as important as keeping your real life manageable. Watching other people make the same mistakes you have does make you want to wade in and point out the hypocrisy. It is not worth the effort.

Asking people if they need help is a better way forward. It requires far less assumptive reasoning: if someone says they are struggling, then that’s your cue. Again, it can’t (and won’t) help you save everybody. That remains the impossibility that it takes a lifetime to shake and will, if you are that person, wrack you with guilt when it becomes apparent you missed someone else’s cry for help.

All you will ever do is your best.

What bothers me the most right now are those people who depend on the Internet for their livelihood, who know what good can (and does) happen here yet continue to malign it because it gets them attention. We all know someone like this, and I watch people do this daily, in the hope it might illicit some sympathy. That’s not how this works. We see right through you.

By far the most successful people on Twitter are ignoring the fact they’re not being successful and just doing what needs to be done. When your creativity and enthusiasm shines through, amazing things happen. I’ve only just discovered this revelation, and it is still sometimes a bit hard to balance with everything else but the results are, it must be said, transformative.

Stop talking a rubbish game, and start changing your outlook.

Nothing Compares to You

I think about a lot of random shit when I’m exercising, which divides into two distinct categories. There are the sessions when I have a plan of attack, accompanied by a specific musical soundtrack. Today however I was up early with nothing in my head except getting the job done: 1 hour and 45 minutes of HIIT work on a static bike. During those 104 minutes, there were some interesting revelations.

I am, like many other people, quite angry at present. One particular source of ire is directed at those people who have turned up where I live, complained it isn’t what they want it to be and then tried to sell me their ideas… I’m not talking about my physical home, but the virtual one. Lots of people find ‘digital native’ an unpleasant term, but that’s what I am, like it or not.

In the last decade watching big business and politicians turn up to try and both monetise and politicise this platform has been in turn depressing and baffling. We have reached the stage where it is apparent some people cannot get what they want from the current systems, and are now trying to advocate their own slants in the hope it will improve everybody’s wealth, and that’s where the bus is stopped, parked, and staunchly defended.

You do not get to change stuff because you believe you know better.

Ridiculous stupidity, in many forms, continues to happen with horrifying regularity. The Internet, like it or not, remains the Wild West with less law and more casualties. When absolutely everyone in your sphere states you’re wrong, that your outlook and attitude are the things at fault, you should already be on your way out of town. Except people don’t realise they’re the problem.

I had quite a long debate about this yesterday in the real world: is it wilful ignorance that makes people just ignore everyone else around them? Are these people too scared to ask for help? Is it just easier to keep doing the same old shit because anything new is too frightening? It is probably a bit of all of these, plus the overriding need to assuage those basic, inescapable urges. You know what I’m talking about.

If I had my way, all advertising would be banned on Twitter overnight: no political advertising either would be a start. Then everybody would have to graft for their own crusts on a level playing field. The winners would be the smart wordsmiths, and those who would manipulate their environment in the most artistic and entertaining fashion.

The reality of course is now it is impossible to separate these things from each other, thanks to the continued weaponization of personal data. I can get as angry as I like but nothing changes, so the future is slowly shifting towards less personal ire directed at the shit I can’t change and a redirection of energy to the stuff that can be.

It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.