Begin Again

Religion has an awful lot to answer for: wars, plagues of frogs, beards… the list is endless. At it’s core however we, as humans, should grasp its true significance. This is a system of control. All religions present rules for living a good life, suggest means by which this should take place. Most religions reassure that it’s okay, death is just a transitional state when the reality is a lot more bleak and frankly frightening for most. Religion, simply put, was a requirement as man developed free will and curiosity. It was the means by which people could be dictated to, whilst selfishly playing on basic fears.

The reality for billions of other people however is that religion is an essential, brilliant part of their existence. It allows them peace and focus to become better individuals. Faith provides vital communities that care and clothe, support and understand: nurturing development, granting vital peace to those at the end of their existences. Religion provides means by which existence is both understood and continued, and it is the love within hearts and minds that can bring so much good and happiness to bear.

Both these opinions are equally valid.

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Religion is the first place where, I now grasp, the true value of compromise was learnt. My first direct experience with the devout was not pleasant. However, it taught a lesson that only now after nearly thirty five years has registered as the norm. Allow other people to believe what they wish, and respect that right. Nothing else really matters in the world right now than being able to exist with each other in a manner that will then allow us all to work on the more pressing issues facing the environment.

Except, of course, other people’s priorities are different.

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After a life-changing event on Friday, a lot of priorities have been shifted. Over the next few weeks, as these alterations become more apparent, there will undoubtedly be some changes. That includes making reasoning more flexible. It is becoming apparent that a lot of basic knowledge on interacting with people has never really been properly grasped during my lifetime: this is a very good opportunity to start working out where the holes are.

Every day is a school day, remember.

Friends will be Friends

We present as part of Time To Talk’s national day of discussion about mental health (Feb 7th) a week’s worth of posts about how this 52 year old finally made a difference and started listening to herself and others, before determining to improve life for the better…

These views are mine alone, and absolutely 100% do not mesh with anybody else’s opinion on anything. WELCOME TO HOW BLOGS WORK.


Day 6:
Learning to listen is important.

Advice

If you are lucky enough in life to achieve your dreams, however small or large they may be, a moment will undoubtedly occur where someone will present you with the means to help you enjoy that experience more. Normally, these people are the individuals who have already experiences a portion of those dreams, and are now off pursuing other aspirations a little way up the corporate ladder of achievement. I was given a massive piece of advice at my reading last night: it’s the outward breath that matters. Just like exercise, learning to control that  is a big deal. This nugget will go with me for the rest of my life.

My best mate told me how to not freak over people in the room with me. My husband just reminded to be myself, and was incredibly supportive of the journey. All of this advice is offered without prejudice, and is so immensely useful for someone who is only now learning how to interact correctly with the world. That’s why, over the next few weeks, I’ll be stripping out people who don’t seem to care about the stuff I do, and in some cases, are only interested in the sound of their own voice.

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Friendship needs to be a reciprocal process for it to work properly. That means, when  this is done, I gotta write some thank you letters to those who have been hugely helpful in getting me to this point. Their support and understanding is as much the reason that this all works, to be honest. Remembering that is a really significant part of a process that is increasingly lost via the Internet. Real friends do exist out here, of course, and anybody who tells you otherwise is an all out liar.

Also, I can see you people pretending you’re doing that, when you’re so totally not.

You Wear It Well

We present as part of Time To Talk’s national day of discussion about mental health (Feb 7th) a week’s worth of posts about how this 52 year old finally made a difference and started listening to herself and others, before determining to improve life for the better…

These views are mine alone, and absolutely 100% do not mesh with anybody else’s opinion on anything. WELCOME TO HOW BLOGS WORK.


It’s been a tough 24 hours. I’ve been forced to think about a lot of things that really weren’t wanted, but that’s often how this journey goes. There’s not a choice as to what you can ignore or run away from. It becomes a testament to internal strength built and your own ability to cope. It is a salutatory reminder of today’s pretty accompanying graphic.

DAY 3:
You remain the arbiter of destiny’s final course.

mistakes

On my Social media friends list are those who happily follow others who have verbally abused me. These people have accused me of being disruptive and argumentative, that my views are contrary to what is required not only in their spaces, but in life generally. The way I think and present myself is part of the Internet’s overall problem, which is a point that probably bears reinforcing at this juncture. Being the contrary opinion to anyone with prominence is your #1 best way to start a fight anywhere.

Except, that doesn’t happen any more.

There are, I’ll grant you, moments when the validity of calling out those people who others believe to be decent and honest seems like a great idea… then comes the reminder that everybody does stupid shit. Lots of us fail to learn from our mistakes. It is, amazingly, a big enough world  to be able to just put distance between me and the abusers and move on. There are those who’d argue this isn’t the answer, but on reflection there’s a bigger issue to address, that is often overlooked.

You won’t be friends with everybody, however much you try.

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Bad stuff happens to everybody. How much bad stuff ultimately depends on not only an individual’s perception, but the amount of time you’re prepared to remain in a toxic relationship. There are, of course, many ways you can be held against your will and if that is the case, it’s already time to get out. The trickiest issue with online relationships are the boundaries: what might seem an incredibly simple solution (just stop messaging them) to one person becomes an impossible task for somebody else, and here is the lesson to learn.

I watched a lot of people in the last 24 hours lament other people’s reactions: calling them exaggerations, not understanding why some people will become as angry as they do. Then there is the counter: why haven’t you spoken up previously? If it matters that much, why aren’t you doing more about it? All of these words show that those involved don’t truly grasp the issues at play. They need to stop making the same mistakes. As my abuser above points out: silence is not agreement.

Silence is the mistake we must all stop making.

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I was targeted by a number of anonymous Twitter accounts in 2016 and, on reflection, there’s a good chance it was the same person behind them all. The email a popular blogger wrote me as a response for a request about his actions is printed out and kept as a permanent reminder: stop making the same mistakes these people do. I can’t reasonably expect to expose and champion every time someone fucked up on line, because everybody is human. What is more realistic is to focus on the stuff I’m capable of changing.

The key to growth and development isn’t being stuck with the same mindset from birth to grave. It is, and always will be, a process of evolution and adaptation. Other people may not change, but without this process of reinvention there would be no point in my mind to existing at all. So, it is time to learn from this week’s events, to suggest others could learn a lot by doing the same, and to carry on forward.

That way, not stuck here.

No More Heroes

We present as part of Time To Talk’s national day of discussion about mental health (Feb 7th) a week’s worth of posts about how this 52 year old finally made a difference and started listening to herself and others, before determining to improve life for the better…

These views are mine alone, and absolutely 100% do not mesh with anybody else’s opinion on anything. WELCOME TO HOW BLOGS WORK.


Day 1: That moment when it becomes apparent that if you want any job done properly, you have to do it yourself:

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Occasionally, we all need a little help. Even the smartest person in the World can’t solve all the issues they face, at least without the occasional supportive ‘you got this!’ or a motivational picture of a cat in their timeline. However, there is a point where all the support and understanding in existence is pointless if you decide you won’t. It might not be a won’t, as it happens. You could say you can’t, or mustn’t, or maybe even that’s just impossible. How does anything change in your life as a result, if it is easier to provide excuses than solutions.

Excuses are easy. Solutions are hard, and that’s where I keep finding myself.

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I realise just how lucky my life is, at this point, that opportunity even exists for improvement. It is incredibly easy to say ‘sort yourself out’ and there will be those who (quite rightly) in many cases might consider this as victim blaming or shaming. So, to be clear: I’m not a victim. My life, which is the only thing I can reasonably talk about with confidence, is not underpinned by any kind of issue where being told to get better is somehow making matters worse.

What my life has been ruled by is fear. This is something that’s only recently become apparent, as it happens: a complex combination of factors, which (with other mental shortcomings that will hopefully be better defined after I’ve spoken to some professionals about them) made for a potent cocktail of restriction. I can’t do that because used to precede far too many conversations. Lungs won’t work, can’t interface with people, unable to combine the mental processes required. All my shortcomings.

Nobody to blame but me.

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I had to hit rock bottom for my reset. Considering suicide, wondering what the point really was if nothing ever seemed to work in my favour, came the realisation that actually, I was the problem. This is still something to remind myself of in moments where life throws me a curve, that often brain is working against body in order to hamstring progress for no other reason than it’s easier than making the effort. Undoubtedly, that adage that you get what you give / you give what you get is spot on.

Everybody’s answer is different, too, and that’s the problem with finding a mentor of becoming enamoured with a guru/influencer/snake oil salesperson who’ll offer an easy answer in exchange for your cash/follow/first born. I’ve followed so many people via Social media who think that selling their salvation is the solution: it’s never true, and so I unfollow and move on. This is the woman who read a ton of self-help books and nothing ever stuck, until the day I was willing to forgive myself and move forward.

Excuses are Easy, Solutions are Hard. Never forget this.

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The trick, it appears, is to pick the right metaphors for your journey. I am never going to win a beauty pageant, nor would I ever enter one… however, I can be strong. Telling me I’m beautiful will be met with short shrift, but praise my ability to think through problems or write a decent blog post and you’re on the right track. Seriously, that whole ‘you’re so beautiful’ stuff is creepy, however well intentioned or based on actual perception it might be. Tell someone they’re inspiring, or dedicated. Intelligent or capable is great. Leave the surface stuff for people who won’t look past appearances.

You can be the most beautiful person in the world on the outside, and a mess inside. Given the choice, I’d rather look a mess but have my internal shit under control, but to do that you gotta work out what needs fixing.

That’s Day 2’s conundrum.

You’re So Vain

Starting tomorrow, for a whole week, I’m going to bore you shitless about what happens in my head. My problem with all the times this happens with other people (normally sponsored by the charities who all need to promote that message or newspapers trying to cash in on Time to Talk Day) is the inevitably sanitised version of events that is presented, because you don’t want to scare normal people into being too frightened to help.

Throughout my entire life I have experienced first hand what happens when ‘normal’ gets involved in the equation, and honestly it’s like living the same day, over and again, before everybody else forgets how horrible everything was except you. You are trapped in your own Groundhog Day, except there’s no cute large ground squirrel for company or the opportunity to fall in love with Andie MacDowell.

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The choices presented therefore are often difficult, painful and ultimately hurtful. If I had to sum up the overriding emotion felt right now, undoubtedly is is sadness. Trying to get other people to understand when the world generally right now does not have a fucking clue what’s going on, mired in uncertainty and often anger. With so many other things taking up the precious free time others possess, why bother helping other people?

Mindfulness has, at least for me, opened a door to better mental places, spaces that only I inhabit away from the noise and fuss of the rest of reality’s demands, which allows the opportunity to deal with sadness, anger and resentment quite effectively. It gives the means by which obstacles can be circumnavigated, and wisdom slowly distilled from the journey thus far. What have I learnt, in all of this? Fear is what underpins everything.

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We’re not talking being afraid of spiders, or not succeeding in my new career path, because both of those are now happily rationalised. We need to treat all the world’s creatures far better than is currently the case, and I have already succeeded, and will continue to do so going forward, because these paths are not hampered by my own inability. Sure, there are days when mentally below par that they become problematic, because nobody is perfect every day. You do what you can to survive.

Fear stops my brain from pushing my body, or at least it used to. Yesterday, in the gym, all those people who can just run without the nagging fear they’ll run out of breath, that their legs will stop working, that the treadmill will dump them face first on the floor in a comedy moment. Each one of those fears has been removed, rationalised and dismissed. Yesterday, I just ran. The most difficult thing ever became the most normal thing. That’s my brain at work, and why everything makes me so fucking tired.

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In the end, of course, those people who stop listening to other people’s issues are often those with their own demons to face, with no desire or ability to start that process. Reaching into computers to tell them this is, I realised quite early on, a mug’s game. Many are here to play the martyr because it suits their agenda. If you have spent a lifetime without the means to deal with the world around you, the Internet’s a perfect platform to find like minded souls who do the same and HEY then you’re not alone any more.

Except it’s all a big, fat lie. Dealing with your issues will vastly improve quality of life not just for you, but those around you. That’s the key: this isn’t just about taking care of yourself. It is the benefits your new outlook will grant in the wider world of work, social interaction and all places in between. Most crucially, at least for me, it grants you the means to communicate to others like yourself that yes, this is worth the pain.

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Trying to work out who is listening can be a fairly hit or miss affair, of course, and wading into people’s lives as some kind of white knight bringing salvation is not the kind of thing to be recommended, especially in the current political climate. So, start small. Cake .GIFs, the occasional hug. Ask a question in your timeline that might promote some discussion, but don’t think that because nobody answers, this doesn’t work. Helping people is not a means by which you gain followers or increase reach.

Genuinely helping others is not a clever Tweet with an inspirational photo sent at 5pm because that’s when the most people will see it. That’s opportunism, appealing to the widest audience and although it might work for some, its now unlikely to be even noticed by the people who need it most. True support is learning to listen, understanding the land and then presenting people with the tools they need to grow, encouraging whilst they do so. The true heroes are the ones who never get the accolades.

You have to ask for help and mean it to move forward, staring past the rhetoric of others and the belief that nobody understands except you.

Amazingly, you really are not alone.

Cruel to be Kind

Once upon a time, my life would have been put on hold on Wednesdays. Those days have (thankfully) passed, existence considerably better for the change. There was also a time where an obsessive need to attain goals would completely consume my brain: with reflection, it is more about understanding when to work, and that not doing so is probably more important. Body decided at about 10.15pm last night, today is a physical rest day: being able to snag an extra PT lesson tomorrow morning is perfect synergy required to get my head down this morning and work the grey matter instead.

List is written, washing is on, time to make the difference.

Learning from my kids is something that happens so many times during a day: it is not just your task to teach as an adult. There is an obligation to listen, learn and then suggest alternatives. Occasionally the intractable needs to be introduced but as has become apparent with my two, intelligence can make for a fine weapon against such restrictions. Then, it is up to you to clear middle ground. Not them, you, because the more that control is flaunted, the less likely it is that any outcome will be non-confrontational.

I’ve got very good at avoiding confrontation across the last few years, a skill not taught in my youth. Now, this and my limited parenting abilities are having unexpectedly amusing and satisfying uses. Control’s a funny thing, when all is said and done. Thinking that someone or something else is frightening or scary, when a lot of the fear never issues from the object of your concern. The amount of control you can wield is immense and really is capable of changing the World.

You just have to believe enough in the possibility.

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My paths are not once as clear as they were. Other things are appearing as important. As changes occur, and possibilities present, it is up to me to ensure that the journey forward isn’t just a single-minded steam towards one reward, if there other more important side-achievements to be had. All that gaming has finally found a use.

Who knew?

The Lunatics have taken over the Asylum

Again, wouldn’t normally be writing here on a Saturday but I’m off to town shortly, scoping out the place I’ll be performing at in few weeks time. It’s likely to be a fairly sympathetic audience, under the circumstances: safe space is a given, but I’d like the opportunity to give it a once over. I believe the technical term is a recce, and as there is a cafe there it will be a place to lunch at the same time. If there is a spot to leave a poster or maybe a flyer, that will also be investigated, in time for early February…

This thought however deserves being extracted from my brain, before potency is lost.

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I’ve always been different. That’s small letter for d and not big: difference existed in my consciousness from quite early on. What this meant however has altered over the years, and only now occurs reality of everything slotting into place. Because it has taken so long, certain games of catch-up with what that means require more work than others.

I have a lot to thank Penny for, and this is a case in point. I’d never heard of this organisation: a cursory glance at their public face shows nothing as to why this OP Tweet would be correct. Digging, however, turns up uncomfortable truths that make me feel physically ill. There is a dystopian future, not far from here, that could easily see autism first identified as a genetic shortcoming shortly before it is eliminated like Downs Syndrome, or anything else other people don’t consider as ‘perfect’ in human terms.

That is a world that frightens me, especially when other people react to the idea of difference with negativity right now. I’ve interfaced with two women this week, both in front-facing positions where they are paid to interact with members of the public. One was too embarrassed to publicly ask me a number of awkward questions despite it being her job to do so, the other so dismissive and frankly rude about the notion of difference that my previous respect for her effectively evaporated.

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We all deal with change in different ways. Many choose to ignore its progress completely: those keeping shows like The Grand Tour alive and well with their patronage, who’ll get annoyed at the idea of having to reduce their meat consumption to save the Planet… and the list goes on. Accepting the inevitable is not something many people can do well, whilst those are those who go too far the other way, instantly bouncing from one new fad to another without the first thought for consequences. Looking at you, Goop fans.

Ideal reality ought to exist somewhere in between the extremes, or that’s the theory. It never really does, because most of the ‘moderation in all things’ brigade never need to have their voices heard to begin with because living life is far more interesting and fulfilling than telling other people you’re doing just that. Oversharing, especially in public, becomes a hindrance, but without it the realities of abuse and violence true harmony will never be fully realised. If you open Pandora’s Box and give one person the right on Social media to be themselves, everybody has to be afforded the same privilege.

For every action, consequences are both blessing and curse.

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More and more, such moments become fuel for poetry or prose. Telling stories and educating via poetry, short stories and long form works has merit, and it can alter consciousness. The trick is not to allow other people’s casual prejudice to deter you. Everybody has the opportunity to learn and be a better person, it is up to them whether those changes happen, and how fast.

The last thing that needs to happen is to erase difference from any conversation.