Funny Girl

I had pudding last night, for the first time in probably a couple of months. Occasionally, over the Lockdown, I’ve sneaked a mini Bread and Butter Pudding in between meals. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy that experience…


I also spent most of yesterday doing the exact opposite of what I’d originally planned for Friday. I wrote a poem which, once it’s sat and gathered dust for a bit, will be one of the three I submit for the National Poetry Contest I will Never Win [*] and That’s Okay. Normally when I do these it is in the white-hot anger of having not won the previous year. Not this time.

This time, it is something else I am angry about. I doubt this will make one iota of difference to progression, but what it does make for is a poem with real bite, distinct from its predecessors and, amazingly, with distinct style too. All in all, it adds up to a comfortable new high water mark for the journey. It will make editing poetry this morning a lot easier.

I give this Poem

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Saturday’s Agenda

If all this gets done today, I can have Sunday off, and that’s all that really matters to me right now…

Sarah, speaking earlier

I’m sorry, I’m having WAY too much fun with all this faffing about: at some point, undoubtedly, we’ll end up going back to boring five line paragraphs, but the temptation to play with all of this for comedy porpoises remains quite strong. In all seriousness however, there are se7en things on my To Do List.

Six are pretty heavy duty, and if I can get traction on them all, and at least four completely finished, I’ll take today as a towering triumph. One is probably impossible today, because it depends on someone else. However, if I can buckle down and get all this sorted, it gives me the free time I need next week to write poetry collections, and right now that matters quite a bit.

Maybe I could ask WordPress to work out a Strava embed for this new system…


[*] Not with that attitude you won’t…

Here’s the Thing

Undeniable Truth #286

(in a long series of ‘Things that Frustrate Me about Publishing’)

I absolutely HATE learning that I’ve not been shortlisted for The Thing, or indeed I’ve not made it past the first stage by getting the email that tells me who has won The Thing. When I am in charge, there will be communication at every stage of the process. I will attempt to provide coherent feedback. Mostly, it will all be far better organised.

Seriously, how hard can it be?

In other news, I played with the WordPress features yesterday and yes, this will be useful, once I can get my head around the process. Blogging every day will help with this, of course. We learn by doing, not complaining it got too hard. Therefore, there will be a great deal of doing and very little of the other stuff, because nobody has time for that.

I wanna use three images here as an example of what it is now possible to achieve going forward with the website: what you can’t see is that this allows me to make my pretty simplistic layout into something hugely sophisticated and smart. It will also fix an issue I have on various webpages that have previously needed to rely on grids for their construction.

It doesn’t look like much, but the consequences of this really are significant.

This Feature is Great

I promise I will learn to use it responsibly.

There will be an actual post tomorrow as well, not just me faffing about.

White Noise White Heat

Might be Thursday, feels like about a month since Sunday. I’ve rearranged the Patreon schedule a bit because frankly, there is very little of value in my brain right now. About 80% of the stuff that needs doing’s ready to go, but that 20% which remains encompasses all the thorny, hard stuff and nope, brain just wants to stare into the middle distance and ignore most efforts to engage.

It does not help that yesterday became incredibly stressful in a very concentrated, two hour burst. The outcome however was major: I’ll talk about that on Patreon today, and not here, in the hope that I might tempt some of you to come and join me. It’s only $4 a month to access all the blogs there, but appreciate that even that is a stretch for many people right now. Your definition of paltry is relative.

shun the prole

I’m at the stage where subbing to anything new is impossible, so am totally with you if the rush by so many creatives to ‘go digital’ is leaving you cold. However, this is my life now, like it or not, and I am determined to push the Patreon and Gumroad quite hard as the year goes on. However, there needs to be some other stuff done too, so today instead of stressing about how I make new things, we’ll recycle some old.

There’s at least one submission window in which older work can be repurposed, but it will require quite a bit more tea than has been currently consumed just to negotiate the online process. This is often more stressful than writing the actual work, if truth be told. However, it’s worthwhile if I can find another publication inroad: that’s the key, in all of this. Everything is publicity.

If people don’t know you exist, how will you ever be discovered?

Illsithee

Progress is hard, and if you’re carrying emotional baggage, extremely tiring. However, there was a period of about ninety minutes yesterday when I was on a high the likes of which has not been experienced for… well, decades. Achievement really is its’ own reward if done well, and yesterday was the first time since before my kids were born that I’ve been able to stand up, say what I wanted to say in the manner that mattered and solve a problem.

That, it has to be said, is a MASSIVE step forward.

Get Down

This is already a better day than the last couple: mostly because everybody slept, nobody projectile vomited anywhere and I wasn’t required to be an adult at 3am. I’m not capable or indeed competent without a decent night’s kip. Years of my experience as a mother is tainted by being fifteen minutes behind and two hours of sleep short. This morning, however, after a day when an amazing amount of shit just went well…

I have directly interacted with the World of Influencers this weekend. The experience there was, as predicted, very concerning. I have a mutual who’s a political blogger, and they firmly believe that there’s patterns in the miasma of Instagram subgroups and Twitter spheres. They use fandom as a foundation point to tie all this shit together and I am really beginning to ascribe to this as legitimate truth.

I do love me a bit of Austin, in whatever derivation you can present it: from Clueless to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on YouTube (which I am dipping in and out of as the mood takes me) there’s so much depth to consider… but it is a story that’s been around for literally centuries, and I feel it’s probably not healthy to get perpetually hung up on the past, however attractive those situations might be.

There has to be a balance, ideally, in what gets heard and seen, and of late it has been far too easy to lose myself in chaos and uncertainty. I’ve also been historically very bad at absorbing new experiences at the detriment of everything else: it’s the obsessive in me that means that these things ultimately derail from a bigger plan. It’s great to be able to have time to be able to do more shit, but not at the expense of losing sight of a greater set of achievements.

Iseeyou

My husband suggested yesterday that this might be the moment to stop putting in ‘junk miles’ on the bike and start making some real effort. Under certain circumstances this might have been the beginning of an objective disagreement, but he has a point. Not every experience has to be memorable, but not every exercise just has to be for the sake of the numbers. There is a balance that needs to be struck in everything.

Pushing the envelope takes effort, and thought, and is potentially fraught with disappointment. However, if all you ever do is enough, or is created as someone else’s idea of a beautiful moment, what do you ever learn from it? It is time to reset the timer again, clear the slates… and redefine the next month as a different direction. There are potentially some great projects coming up.

Let’s see if we can make some of them count.

The Player of Games

I’ve never been tremendously good at relationships, even though I’ve survived in one for over three decades. The reason why that one has lasted for as long as it has, inevitably, is down to the nature of the two people involved. All other relationships are measured by this yardstick, and undoubtedly that means that sometimes, even if I may not like it, some stuff really doesn’t need to be said at all.

This also extends to online relationships: get to know someone well enough virtually and there will be the days you know all they want to do is complain about X or have a sly dig at Y who is doing better in Game W than they are. It’s the measure of how much you pay attention as to how you react: some days, it’s just easier to let them roll on. However, more and more for me, I’m reaching for the mute button.

As I rant, I’m also seeing people leave, which is of course the same reaction.

K_Dude

The means by which we all deal with the current situation is different, and as has been discussed here at length, some of the people that used to follow me weren’t interested in using Social media for anything else except their own peculiar buffer zone from reality. I am reminded of this daily right now because Instagram’s decided I should be following one of these people through their app. Not fucking likely.

In fact, I’ve just tried to work out whether it is possible to stop getting my phone to keep suggesting this person. I bloody hate platforms that have no real idea of the individual that uses them, and assumes that a badly designed algorithm is the only right way to match anything with anything else. It is, however, part of a world I know others willingly inhabit for both entertainment and companionship.

I don’t have to understand everything in the world, it’s okay.

glass

This is my own scheduled reminder that anger is an energy and to find constructive means by which it can be utilised is useful for everybody’s benefit, not just mine. Not allowing the negativity to swamp everything will make for more constructive workdays, better productivity overall and honestly, in the long term is by far the most sensible way of coping in these ‘extraordinary’ times.

The game of keeping quiet still gets played, however: sometimes, you need to give people space to rant, because as I know from experience that’s often the best way to let the bad stuff go whilst simultaneously being reminded you are not alone. Right now, that’s a REALLY useful thing to keep repeating, over and over. We are all in this together.

Nobody comes out of this quite the same way as we came in.

Moonlighting

A lot of people right now will be feeling pretty impotent, for vastly differing reasons. That’s probably no different from any other Friday, with my Bigger Picture hat on, but I know that’s not true. Last night I missed group exercise for the first time, and the reality finally hit me that there is no escaping this without huge, life-changing consequences. The thing is, I didn’t need this now. My life was getting better.

I want to be selfish, but know that’s just not possible.

groundhogagain

Change has never been something I cope with well. There is an inordinate amount of thrashing around, plus anger. BOY am I angry right now. The last straw last night was my Health Club actually grasping their heart rate belt system has use beyond just being sold to members, and that it could be used for good and not just as a piece of gym equipment. HOW HAS THIS TAKEN YOU SO LONG TO GRASP, and more importantly why are you offering a pathetic £500 NHS Trust donation for an exercise challenge when you could afford ten times that easily???

Finding ways to let that anger go is becoming a tough ask. It doesn’t help that within all of this shards of past trauma keep appearing out of nowhere and I have to deal with them, but this is not a present that is mine to control. As the Twitter dump above states this morning, this is about being in control of what is doable and letting go of what isn’t. Therefore, this blog post is going to count as a cognitive behaviour exercise.

cbt

I’m no therapist, quite obviously, but having been taught how to step back from emotion via counselling, I was told there would be moments going forward where these skills would have a use. It is why being up earlier than usual this morning was important, to let brain sift through everything logically. It’s why I won’t take a phone or tablet to bed going forward: news can carry on without my attention quite happily.

Joy is out there, it just has to be relocated and grasped: exercise is altering, my mindset towards what is possible slowly shifting. I am getting physically stronger, that much is now inescapably obvious. What is needed now is the ability to escape gravity of bad news, negative thoughts and feelings and propel myself away from this crisis on a new trajectory.

Change has to start now, NOT when all of this is over.

surreal1

Life will never be the same again, regardless of what transpires in the next six months. Many people you love and respect will lose their lives. There will, undoubtedly, be reckonings of many varieties. However, this is NOT the time for me to retreat inwards in an attempt to try to stick this out. The future is externalising, rational responses and not letting anger slowly eat away at all my previous good work.

Today, we start doing things differently.

Dark Tree

Typing this morning really is taking some thought. It is, I’ll grant you, a bit uncomfortable to sit here for too long, and my back is very much aware that a shittone of exercise happened yesterday, but does not seem that fussed generally about it. That means getting up every ten minutes or so, walking around and realising that not having the Gym may have been the change in approach I’d been looking for all along.

summary040420

There are some things to note in yesterday’s 900 calorie day: pretty much all of it was in Zone 3 and 4. This is not a /flex effort, but a push towards stamina and endurance. If I’d remembered to take the belt off post-cycle, the 32 minutes in Zone 1 wouldn’t have registered. Two minutes in Zone 5 was very much planned and pushed too, which is proof that if I get there, I can stay there.

However, this is really not a sprint. Theoretically I may be here until September, considering my particular health issues. If I push too hard now or injure myself, that’s really not ideal. Therefore, there has to be a balance between keeping momentum going and feeling as if I’m not stuck in a bottle, which is of course exactly where I am. Balancing everything however is part of the skillset. I have got this.

kettleON3

The balance comes with writing, poetry, pushing myself into the garden, outside to walk (and maybe run) and to maintain a modicum of sanity in this sea of potential stress. Once exercise becomes part of the game plan, completed without thought, it will be easier. When I can wean myself off the stuff being used to cope with trauma that will help too: far too much sugar, not nearly enough vegetables.

We’ll start fixing that tomorrow. Today, I have written work to collate and compile, next week to plan, some thought to be given to a new poetry project, and Spring Cleaning to continue. I am staggered at anyone sitting inside on a Sunday at a loss at what to do right now. I’ve never been busier, and actually that’s no bad thing, because it means less brain space available with which to lament current circumstances.

Maybe all this shit has been happening for a reason.

gladiator

I am feeling oddly calm this morning, as if everything is as it should be, even the inability to type.

I’ll work around it, and everything else.

Walk the Line

Progress is never an easy ask. A lot of the journey is adaptive reasoning: I can work harder, how do I work harder, this works, push here. Undoubtedly strength and body condition are crucial factors. However, when all is said and done, if head says nope, nothing will happen. This isn’t about being shouted at in a class for 45 minutes in the vain hope something will stick.

Last night my husband turned around post session and told me how proud of me he was: the biking exercise being used currently has a sliding scale of difficulty. That means it can be performed at between 90 and 110% of you calculated power. He’d seen me adjust that halfway through last night’s session, assuming I’d gone down. The last 20 minutes were pushed up, not down.

For the first time since starting this there is yellow zone without prompting.

porridge2

My sleep’s shot as a result, and it will take some time to get that bit of the equation back to normal, but this daily burst of exercise has effectively replaced walking, which needs to change. I have to go out today, and record it, plus every day going forward. Air pollution should really not be a problem either, the world around here is mandated silence. The only flights left leaving our airport are freight.

Today I need to organise a proper workout too: the weather is a bit pants here at present, so that means inside, with a couple of videos as accompaniment. I have a 12kg kettlebell with which to do some weights too, so there will be some time spent pulling together a single weight workout. Last week I burned as many calories without the Gym as I managed the last full week there was access to one, so effort’s not an issue.

My problem, undoubtedly, is planning.

abs2

It’s not like I don’t have the raw materials at my disposal to make all of this happen either. As with everything else, planning is the key. It is also important I don’t let things like *cough* video games *cough* distract me from the path, which would be pretty easy right now. The hard work needs to be done first, and after that we’ll work on the other, more enjoyable things.

I’m planning to come out of this fitter than I did coming in.

Living on an Island

I have a house on a virtual island, that for a couple of hours each day I slowly update. I regularly contribute fish, insects and fossils to the local Museum. I’ve helped encourage new people to settle. I’ve been building fences, and today I bought a sink unit for my home. It is all unbelievably relaxing and enjoyable, and absolutely nobody’s going to criticise my life choices, except my 15 year old. I’m used to her by now.

Really, this is the relaxation I’ve been looking for over the last week.

I haven’t forgotten about Pokemon, but it’s been a week now since I walked further than the back of the garden. I might be in range of the nearest Pokestop when doing that, but will have to check later when it’s not hailing outside ^^ Once that’s back in synch, all my gaming needs should be adequately covered. It is a massive step forward for me, believe it or not, to have been able to find new ways to relax like this.

There was an enormous temptation to go back to a game in which I have invested literally years of my life. However, yesterday, the book I used to use to keep my lists of things to do for that game was thrown away for good. The final straw for me yesterday was hearing that there’s talk of further breaking down that game into pieces, effectively negating years worth of playtime when the content was new.

I would have written about it at length before. Now, it’s not worth the effort.

I can’t blame them for wanting to try anything possible to keep their customers. All the things I ever wanted from that game are in AC:NH now anyway: truly customizable items and housing, no need to beat anyone else or win at anything other than my pace. In the end, as my husband occasionally likes to remind, you need to be the one defining what constitutes the end.

It’s ironic of course that we’re living in the virtual world where gaming has become a lifeline for many. It’s the ultimate in distancing, yet at the same time allowing you to feel social. That’s not the half of it: when you’ve hidden somewhere for years because reality is a tough ask, that last thing that’s really helpful is to return to that state. It’s why playtime is being strictly limited. Priorities have altered.

The real world, even now, is more attractive than escaping back to gaming long-term.

Holy Calamity (Bear Witness II)

Situations are being judged right now by what I see and hear first, ahead of news and scaremongering. That meant on Thursday taking the cue from youngest’s school on her trip and latest advice, before it became apparent of the wider issues at play. Shelves were full this morning (with the exception of items that still have not been restocked after the first round of panic buying) but it didn’t stop the supermarket car park being half full at 8.30am.

The till assistant looked tired, in need of some support, so as a Mental health Champion that’s the job I’m supposed to be doing right now. I told her people are already thinking about the consequences on mental health. It’s not fair that customers get angry at staff (I saw it happen ten minutes previously) when they’re doing a job that is going to become increasingly grim as this all goes on. It’s up to us to be thoughtful and decent.

It’s not difficult to think about others as well as ourselves.

The reality of course, is that loneliness will start doing horrible things to our brains as time goes on, and it is vitally important that there’s support for each other and those we know are vulnerable. Watching the videos from Spain and Italy of community singing and exercise, there will be some who’ll just assume this is some kind of flashmob or publicity stunt. People can’t come together and do stuff like that.

Except they can, and will. The biggest single measure of Community in the next three months or so will be how the Brits cope with COVID 19. All that guff about ‘Blitz Spirit’ is complete bollocks if at the first sign of a crisis you bulk buy like a sheep and shout at staff just there to help you. We’re all scared and uncertain, it isn’t just you. If that’s not your mindset right now? You are part of a problem that needs to be addressed.

Selfishness has destroyed the world before.

We already know people like this in our own personal circles. How you deal with this level of selfish entitlement is, I think, entirely up to you. Personally speaking, if these people aren’t listening now one can only assume they’ll continue not to give a fuck going forward, and so are largely a waste of time and effort, right up to the moment when they do something dumb, thus allowing you the opportunity to politely put them right.

It is people like this that will make containment impossible, put huge strain on the health services, and ultimately will complain for years afterwards that they didn’t get sick, so what was everybody else making such a fuss about? The personal reality that keeps coming back to me, again and again, is that some people really care about themselves more than they’ll ever do about you. These people are NEVER worth your time.

In that respect, not much has changed in 2020 at all.