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.

Save Me

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I’ve been thinking about the sonographer yesterday probably more than I should, trying to work out what it was I sensed from him, and there’s one word I keep coming back to: irritation. This is one of those moments where I wish I’d had someone else with me, so I could check if I read the whole thing right or not, because inevitably one of my failings is grasping intent from strangers. I’m hoping what I sense was annoyance, that a perfectly healthy woman was wasting his time with a set of scans that showed that I have no infection, I’m completely fine and don’t need surgery. That’s my hope, that when the GP sits down with me next week and looks at the ultrasounds there’ll be nothing except the understanding I have the stones, but as of right now they’re causing me no discomfort or issue whatsoever, and we can all go back to life before all this stupid happened.

Of course, there’s also a part of me that is worrying he saw something horrible but because he’s not a medical professional, that isn’t something for him to pass on.

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Whatever happens, I’m in no pain at all right now. This is the best I’ve felt for close to six months, and in terms of fitness and energy, pushing 20k steps yesterday would not have been possible were my body not doing the business. I’m trying really hard not to think about what might happen, and have reconciled myself to the surgery option should it be required, but then I have to think about the sense of sticking me under the knife if I’m feeling perfectly fine, and can continue to ensure I never get a repeat of what happened by eating sensibly going forward. I’m not a doctor, after all, but it occurs to me that considering the current strains on resources, and assuming I have no issues with my health right now, what happens in a situation such as this. Do you assume it will happen again and plan regardless, or is it left to me as the patient to make the choice, I wonder?

I’ve never been in this situation before, so I have no idea.

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I’ve taken a day off exercise. PT is normally scheduled for tomorrow, and I’m back on focus towards losing the last of my excess weight. It’s also May 1st and that means it will be a month before I effectively become totally self-employed. It is a bit scary, all told, what is coming up however has got me more excited than anything for several years. Here is the opportunity to sell myself effectively, based purely on my ability to create content.

I hope I can encourage people to take the chance.

High and Dry

Two jumps in a week
I bet you think that’s pretty clever, don’t you boy?

I knew for a while that I wasn’t happy writing for other people. Once upon a time it was legitimisation, that being employed by somebody else meant that it was true, I could write, because I’d get a small monetary recompense every month that proved it. After a while, however, something quietly sublimated within. If somebody else would validate this, that could mean others would too, perhaps enough to sustain my own projects. The problem with sites such as Patreon however is that so many of the people I respect and look to think they’re a con. By becoming a user you are effectively asking your subscriber base to pay for shit that you could really do for yourself. The one that always gets brought up is the ‘please pay for me to go to this Convention so I can continue to provide content for you’ and yes, that’s where I’d draw the line too. Take the holiday for yourself, don’t expect others to pay for that, and THEN make your content separately.

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I have Mick Montgomery to thank for my rethink on crowdfunding, which happened just before he got accepted for a dream gaming job last year. He made me realise that if we focussed solely on content generation and never looked past the job in hand, that there was justification in asking people to fund. He was trying to get me to accept a wage, which at the time I can remember being quite hostile to the idea that I’d be paid for a project that was pretty much 90% of his effort: I just turned up and read stuff! It made me consider the possibilities, and make a key distinction between why you ask for money and then what that money does. The key, ultimately, is transparency. It has to be very clear, right from the word go, what people will be paying for. Once that was reconciled, I wanted to be able to put 100% effort into the process. That meant yesterday, I handed in my notice on the weekly column with a clear conscience.

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I’d love to build my part up by saying I don’t have a clue what happens next, but that would be a big, fat, dirty lie. There would not have been the cutting of all these cords unless there was a goal, and there is. What I’m planning to do is make a unique profession around what and how I write, but not expect anyone to pick up the tab for the extras. That means when I offer tier rewards they’ll be exclusively around content written just for Patreon. This isn’t me asking you to fund a book, or send me on courses. If I want to learn to write, that’s my cost to cover. What you will do however is allow me to begin a journey from scratch, and if I can do that right then it will be easier later on to get other people to invest and believe in me. I’ll be filling in details on what happens next when we get into May, and the Patreon will launch June 1st.

I promise you, it will be worth your attention.

Size of a Cow

This is the story of how I FINALLY lost 10 pounds and moved my exercise journey forwards.

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This week, the scales shifted down for the first time in quite some weeks. Fitbit has only recently started registering and tracking weight loss, it never existed when I first signed up. However now, I can see how much has vanished since the new software kicked in. There’s a sad truth behind this 10 pounds that made me stop in my tracks. I didn’t grasp just how many times it has taken to get this far. The problem with apps is that they rarely lie, and that means that, at least for me, five pounds has been a millstone for quite a while.

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I was shocked at this statistic, and went to look at my weight measurements for confirmation. I’ve been trying to lose the same five pounds for close to a year.

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This belittles the work I’ve done to get this far as well, because it doesn’t show the level of effort or that muscle and fat have been swapped with a quite definite regularity. If all you see are the numbers and not physical change, the potential to go backwards is, I know, a fair deal stronger than it would be if all I had was weight loss as my objective. This journey’s become therefore a lot more about self-education: yes, I can read all the gumph in the world about eating to lose weight and what exercises work the best, but none of that is necessarily going to work for me. That’s the problem with the Internet: everybody is out there trying to sell you the best way to do things like they’re a) the only person doing so and b) their way is the optimal path for you, and that’s a bunch of wobbly dumdums. What is best for ME is when I understand WHY things are happening, and I can grasp the relationship between what I eat, how I exercise and how that affects my progress.

This is the new world I now find myself in, and it is amazing.

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I can tell you the key changes that have been made to improve my ability to lose weight: they include stopping with the Special Fried Rice on takeaway night, removing myself from temptation when hungry and not lying to my PT when she asks me if I did all my exercise promised from the week before. However, I hate to break it to you guys, but the #1 overriding reason why I’ve succeeded in losing weight is that I’ve worked myself into the fucking ground. That meant that yesterday, on the back of five hours sleep, I dragged myself out the door, walked to the Gym, ran for nearly an hour and did 30 minutes of weights, before walking home and promptly falling asleep. Yes, exercise is meant to give you energy and vitality, but in a menopausal 50-summat it was enough to destroy me yesterday almost completely.

That’s normally when you want to give up.

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When I look back at myself in pictures, from when I started the serious part of this journey, there’s now an inescapable difference between then and now. Once upon a time I couldn’t see it, and had I allowed myself to be swayed by the fact that nothing (apparently) was changing in my mind at the time, I’d be no further forward. All those years of trying and failing to lose weight had nothing whatsoever to do with how I did it or with whom. The biggest single issue, ultimately, was myself. That’s easier to write now than it has been at any other point in the past too, that there’s come the final grasping of a truth that underpins everything else that I do. When jokingly I’ll mention that ‘people are stupid’ to someone in conversation, I’m talking about myself. This inability to want to grasp the failings and shortcomings that have hindered progress for decades makes the current revelations all the more bittersweet.

This could easily have happened a long time ago, but never did, because until fear was addressed and faced, everything was impossible. Shame and embarrassment are potent shackles in a mind that believes that what matters more than being free and happy is conforming to norms that were never placed on you to begin with, but end up being applied by everybody else. Once there’s the ability to look beyond the constraints of what the rest of humanity tells you is possible or acceptable? The only thing stopping progress, ultimately, is death. I write this sentence for a friend of mine who, right now, is going through the most difficult of circumstances as a reminder: every day is special, each moment to be appreciated and treasured as if it were the last, because that might well be the case. A life not lived well is not really a life at all.

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Now I’ve lost 10 pounds, the next goal is 15. These are hardly real world issues for you or anyone else but for me, this is a journey I am determined to complete. It has become a metaphor for an ability to do what is needed, to allow honestly to underpin everything, and to not be a lie. It is in effect, not clean living but honest living. I don’t need funky foods and stupid fads to be better, just myself and common sense. This then becomes a measure of how the two combine with current circumstances.

I believe I am capable of anything I now want to do.