Right Said Fred

Those of you who regularly frequent this space will know I quite enjoy a cuppa. For the last few years I’ve seen other people expounding the joys of a TEA ADVENT CALENDAR: considering my dietary restrictions at present, this is an idea I was really ready to get behind. Therefore, starting tomorrow, I’ll be using Instagram to record my experiences, and this blog for some reflection.

It’s also going to be an obviously blatant exercise in brand awareness.

This presentation box was not cheap, and was bought using the last of my birthday cash. However, it has the potential to be recycled after use on my bookshelf as storage as part of one of the New Year Endeavours (more on that in the week) so in that regard, it is already paying for itself. There’s already been a sneaky peek into Drawer One and the surprise I didn’t realise existed is that there are other gifts than just the teabags.

We’ll be employing an ACTUAL MARKS SYSTEM too for this exercise: these are Whittard’s teas (in the interests of full disclosure and use of their Twitter tag on Social media) and will be considered on a number of Laughing Geek criteria:

Drinking the Tea Advent

LOOKS: To be fair to the experiment, and as there’s two teabags per day to work through, we’ll brew one the way the experts do (nice white cup so you can see what the stuff looks like) and drink it without milk. However, as a rule, I’m a milk gal (with the obvious exception of herbals and greens) so if I can stick the second bag into my daily routine with some semi skimmed and honey, I will.

SMELL: I have sniffed a fair few teabags in my time, and this for me is a decent indicator of whether any enjoyment will actually follow via drinking. Smell will be important. I’ll have to see if I can work out exactly what’s in a blend… and then whether that smell translates into something I would actually consider drinking.

FLAVOUR: Some of these teas are gonna be stuff I’d never normally consider quaffing, and that is where I suspect flavour will really come into play. There will be lots of open-mindedness too: just because I’ve never considered a blend should not exclude it from fair and objective consideration. Most importantly, as I’m not doing this for advertising or promotional purposes, there will be honesty. If it’s awful for me, I’ll say so.

RESULT: Would I drink this again? Is it worth buying a whole packet? Those are the two questions to be asked first, after which I suspect there’ll be some thoughts on mood, productivity and satisfaction. All these thoughts will, unsurprisingly, be recorded on PostIt notes for your perusal on Instagram, and I’ll do a slightly longer write-up here. If anything, it could work as decent feedback to Whittard on their current range.

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We’ll start on Monday, with posts Wednesday and Friday. It grants some much needed regular content into my month that isn’t exercise (more on that later) and is a nice side project away from writing.

You never know, I might even enjoy it.

Belief

This week, I am going to do things differently. You won’t notice most of them, but trust me when I say to you that this is already happening. It did for a couple of hours yesterday and the sense of well-being it created was palpable. This is what is needed more in my life right now.

There’ll be a longer post when I’m done with the day.

Aquarius (Let the Sun Shine)

Yesterday was important for a couple of reasons. Let me talk to you about the one you didn’t see talked about at the time or retweeted.

Last year, someone told me that I was exhibiting a great many symptoms of autism, but was not in a position to confirm formal diagnosis. If I wanted that to happen, it would require a period of counselling, and then some effort on my part to get access to the specific testing mechanics that allow that to be considered. Having finished the counselling portion of proceedings last month, something significant has altered.

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It has, inevitably, required time for what was pulled up from counselling to settle and be digested. Part of that happened yesterday. As of right now, I am finally confident pushing for an autism diagnosis would be a waste of everybody’s time and resources, that others deserve those valuable things more than I do. There’s an incredibly complex set of reasons behind this decision, which I’m not as yet prepared to discuss in public.

Having a reason for why I was what I am became an obsession, for a while, until the truth emerged. This is the first time in my entire existence that everything feels at peace. It makes sense to me why I am what this is, right here, writing these words. Of course, there will be contentious issues, and returns to the heat of my fears but my ability to deal and process, to manage what I am, has improved vastly.

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After a night when dreams were full of things that had been forgotten, the future more optimistic than I ever remember it being, I’ve changed a line in my Twitter bio. Right now, I am dealing with multiple incidents of Trauma. Once that’s been managed and measured satisfactorily, we’ll look again at where I stand. For now, this is a journey that, on reflection, was never going to be easily labelled and then dispensed with.

At least that lesson is now learnt and taken to heart.

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It’s already over 70 degrees outside on a Monday morning. There should therefore be a huge thunderstorm at some point in the next couple of days, ‘coz that’s how it works in the Estuary area. If it happens, there may well be standing around outside because I could do with getting soaked. Everything itches. I thought I’d escaped the worst of hay fever this year but BOY was I wrong. However, finally, my left ear is back to normal.

Today therefore, time to talk about moving forward.

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There is 5kg’s worth of fat on me that needs shifting. I can see it, and feel it: the importance of its removal has become wrapped up in an ability to prove to myself I can do hard work when it matters. I’m not setting a target date, but will make an effort. There’s other stuff that needs fixing too: personal things, shifts in axis that can’t all be done at once. You’ll grasp this when it’s done, with everything else.

For now, this is a busy week. I’ll finish off the last of my currently pinned poetry’s mirrored background gubbins this morning, then the last ten poems can go up. I’ve asked for two to be removed (and I’ll repin them when it happens) and then that’s it, the whole collection is ‘live’. I have then until Wednesday to get the last of the mirrored stuff up. That’s eminently doable in my time-frame.

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Kettle on, let’s roll.

Paris

Yesterday was tough. Paris has enormous personal significance for me, since my early 20’s. I said a lot on the personal feed yesterday, and history will recall that I learnt about the fire, almost moments after it started, because of Social media. In fact, I knew about it in a house on the East coast of England well before major news outlets reported the fact. This is why this medium has become so important.

The world, quite literally, is at my fingertips.

Of course, it matters a great deal in these situations who you follow: I have a number of Parisians on my feed thanks to that computer game. At a point in proceedings someone decided that the way to go with reaction wasn’t ‘this is horrible’ but instead that ‘yay, organised religion is burning’ was a better angle. Once upon a time, that might have been a great way to pull in the more radical fringes to your cause. Not any more.

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There’s a consequence to being in the public eye: if you fuck up with an audience, it is increasingly difficult to hide your crime. This was the fate of a Sky news anchor  yesterday who said all the wrong things on camera and when apologising via a Tweet forgot to actually say they were sorry. Words really matter, especially on a text based medium. Using the right ones is a skill many don’t grasp.

Individual culpability on an instant message network has never mattered more than it does now. Knowing when to say stuff, or more importantly, when to stay quiet is a life skill that so many have never successfully grasped. It’s something only now I’m comfortable with, after (I think) nearly eight years on the platform. It’s also why I’ll never, ever EVER go back to Facebook.

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I remember the day when it became apparent that even if I was interested in leaving my past behind, other people weren’t. The perpetual obsession with marking yourself against those you were educated with, social groups you felt uncomfortable with and subsequently left, is a source of constant amazement. The human obsession with maintaining such bonds when the knots they are tied with are inherently flawed has never made sense.

This is the place where I am happiest after half a century, without doubt, divested from the distractions of the past. Occasionally I catch a glimpse of that via my husband’s need to be reminded of those people and their achievements, and am reassured that nothing significant is either lost or missed from removal. After all, if these people truly cared about me in the first place, they’d be here now, reading what I do.

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The fact no-one bothers beyond the spoon-fed auspices of mass media hubs is a lesson in itself: I know this is possible, because individuals have made that move. Some came and stayed, others got frustrated with my attitude and again left. I’m not here to personally entertain anyone or conform to your view of what I should be. This is about evolution, development and expansion.

If that matters enough, you find a way.

Superstition

I read an article over the weekend that suggests, quite rightly, that being angry is useful, assuming that ire can be channelled effectively. This has been happening for a while: identifying what it is that causes emotional responses, then dictating the means by which that can be converted into something more useful. It’s not that anger doesn’t have value, either: as a poet, that kind of strong, inescapable emotion has an awful lot going for it. Expression can be a tough ask however: today, we’ll start fixing that too.

Things that Make me Angry, by Sarah aged 52 and a Half

People

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That’s it, nothing else on this list. People are the problem. Watching them destroy environments and fuck up each others lives whilst at the same time choosing to wilfully ignore all the stupid shit that takes place in other’s existences. I also utterly count myself in this Angry List: personal actions sometimes are very much worthy of promoting both rage and disappointment. So, how is it possible to make things better?

I don’t think anybody really can expect to have that kind of affect on large swathes of humanity. Looking at alternatives, by far the best course of action is to attempt to affect change in small doses, a person at a time. That means starting with yourself is a good beginning. So, how do I stop myself getting angry currently. Hmm… it’s a tough ask. So much bad news. So many potential disasters on the horizon. Where do I even start?

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The answer, of course, is to not be so hard on myself. By learning compassion for self it is easier to separate feelings, making a decent attempt to rationalise what’s going on. Then, it is all about the business of being able to adequately describe how things make me feel so that the process can be translated from brain to page, and then becomes easier to explain to strangers.

Having now managed to crack this, at least in part, it is time to take the issues out of brain and onto a page. Therefore, this is my starting point: if you make me angry, there’s a far greater chance going forward that will be explained, using language that effectively communicates both reasoning and response. This is NOT an excuse to cause further conflict however, that needs to be properly quantified.

This is not the means by which things are made worse.

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That whole thing about being the change you wish to see in the world? Ghandi was spot on. This is the means by which change happens, and I can not be scared of it.

So, let’s roll.

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.