Mercy Street

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My sleep pattern is so badly shot that Fitbit has three distinct blocks of it recorded for yesterday into today. However, this is better than yesterday, and definitely an improvement on Saturday. Today is great, for lots of reasons. First up?

I can clean and press with weight on a bar for four sets of eight repetitions.

I doubt my arms will be up to much tomorrow but right now they’re still celebrating. I’ve flirted with doing this before, but never a full set of anything. This is a MASSIVE improvement. Secondly, I have successfully meditated more than once. I grasped at the tail end of last week that it was that plus the essay I wrote on Friday that made me remember stuff from earlier in my life I’d wanted to forget, which had combined with a hormonal overdose at the weekend to just send brain and body into freefall. Whilst a lot of it is still not really under control, I have a handle on everything else.

There is enough here to work with.

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After today I promise to keep the navel contemplation to a minimum. I have some REALLY good news on the weight front to talk about, and some discussions to have on the back of the Weinstein furore. Instead of making it about me we’ll focus on other things, and I’ll now go and try and work out what got missed from last week.

We’re all going to head forward now, okay?

Stop

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Everybody is on their own, unique journey, and if social media is any indicator, a lot of those paths have no relevance to anybody else. I can sympathise and agree with another person (for instance) suffering from a mental illness, but never truly understand how that feels. However, until that person grasps a) they have a problem and b) attempts to deal with it… it is a different, separate ‘situation’ to my own. Looking at this overweight, powerful man who has for decades systematically intimidated and overwhelmed so many powerful, attractive women I am at a genuine loss for understanding. The only way I have found thus far to rationalise the entire sorry situation?

Sepp Blatter.

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For decades, one man ran football his way because he never allowed anybody else to be more powerful than he was. From the outside, everybody knew the entire organisation was as bent as a nine bob note, but no-one was allowed to wield enough power as opposition. Only when doping in Athletics and systematic corruption across other forms of sport came to light did people go ‘ooh, hang on, we might have a chance of ousting him here.’ Of course, one could also argue that allowing (potentially) a different group of corrupt-power hungry blokes a bite at the cherry is no further forward down a path to enlightenment, but the jury is still out on how this story ends.

I think America just woke up to the same realisation that football did, and the UK has with leading public figures from entertainment and politics molesting the vulnerable. Somewhere, in the last decade, this kind of behaviour is finally becoming socially unacceptable. Amazingly, one could argue that it is thanks to the behaviour and attitude of the current president of the United States, which so clearly angered so many women (not just in the US but worldwide) with its crassness and lack of respect for their sex, that Mr Weinstein is about to become the first of many offerings from the Entertainment industry. Is it possible that a public display of what is so reviled was the incident that empowered so many to finally able to stand as a group and be taken seriously?

This story of abuse of women in the public eye is not new. What has changed is the willingness of people to talk about their own experiences: social media can probably take part of the plaudits for an increased climate of openness. However, what isn’t changing is the attitude of a group of people who could alter everything pretty much overnight, if they stopped simply thinking about themselves first. I think this came home to me this morning when I read this quote from a Guardian article and literally rocked back in my chair.

There are those people who decide that because it doesn’t bother them, there’s not a problem. As long as they make their money, then there is no need to rock the boat. This isn’t just male actors either, despite the great political message that this sends. It is anybody who genuinely believes that allowing others to manipulate and control is acceptable in modern society, especially using fame as a stick to beat people with. There’s no excuse now, and even though I have trouble grasping the timelines at play and how people are reacting, it really doesn’t matter. I’m not part of this, simply a spectator. My own story of abuse cannot be either compared or held up as justification.

Victim blaming helps nobody in the end.

All of this thought grew from this statement, and the conversation I had with a friend as a result. Just because I cannot understand how the Weinstein situation ever happened does not give me the right to stand on a soapbox and decry how other people live their lives. For the second time in a month I’ve learnt the lesson that fear is what drives so much of life, and if you have beaten it telling others they can do the same only works if they are prepared to listen. For far too many people, this is just not possible, and what society needs to do as a result is not tell people to just live with their shortcomings, but to try and help them grasp why they happen. Once the why is clear, a path is a lot easier to both find and follow.

It is time to listen and not to judge.

Only Myself to Blame

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My daughter this morning was lamenting the fact that in Roblox, a game she used to love when younger, the ability to play as a guest has now been removed. Apparently, it was fun to ‘roast’ guests, who often had no clue of the way certain games worked.  I told her that this was probably the reason why the ability has been removed: is it really the right thing to do when someone is new to the game to give them a hard time? Shouldn’t you be helping them out and not abusing them? 

I read yesterday an article discussing a forum post that Jeff Kaplan wrote last week, lamenting what a tough crowd the Overwatch fanbase is to deal with. The gaming community has always been a particularly brutal audience, especially when it comes to changes to popular characters. Here’s a man who admits that the attitude of this group of players is having a direct effect on him and his team. It’s a fairly shocking revelation because for years the Warcraft community pretty much destroyed their developers without anyone batting an eyelid.

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Except last year an individual was convicted of sending death threats to Blizzard. The line between threat and joke has now blurred to a point where everything has to be potentially considered as dangerous. There needs to be the means of ensuring that gaming remains a safe place to play, but at the same time, there’s an increase in the competitive elements. Overwatch is about to launch its own worldwide league. Pretending to kill people for fun is about to become big business.

Game companies will tell you, time and again, that their output is purely entertainment and there is no direct link between video game violence and its real-life counterpart. It doesn’t matter that we allow our children to roast their ‘anonymous’ friends and do the same ourselves on Social media under made up names. Increasing social freedom is giving people free reign to simply say what they wish, often without any recourse because unless there’s a credible threat, it won’t ever be an issue. I keep being told not to try and understand why a wealthy, seemingly stable man massacred nearly 60 people, but keep coming back to the same conclusion.

Society doesn’t condemn this kind of behaviour anymore. We just accept it as normal.

Anybody can be a killer, or an abuser, and yet with each passing day, we allow and often encourage people to do the same. Instead of asking everybody to look within themselves and to alter their behaviour, there is an automatic assumption there are just ‘bad guys’ and that if we eliminate them, everything will be okay. Don’t let people be guests, and suddenly the problem’s dealt with is probably a simplistic solution: it would be better to be like Kaplan and explain why you’re hurting the game to begin with. The problem comes when your killer has no criminal record, lived an exemplary life and showed no potential to be a psychopath. Sometimes, however hard you try, there’s no way to avoid a disaster.

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The real truth is that thousands of people are dying every minute, around the world, of things we could easily prevent: malnutrition, via conflict, through systematic torture and subjugation. These stories never make the news because, yet again, we have become immune to our own inhumanity. In this respect, everybody has blame to share, especially those of us who publicly decide to ignore one side of a story to highlight the facet of most significance to ourselves. In that regard, news organisations, multinational corporations and governments are far more culpable than individuals, but perhaps if we stopped teaching our kids to shoot each other at an early age, there might be a change.

I wonder if it is truly possible to stop people wanting to hurt each other to begin with.

Big Time

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Yesterday afternoon I walked out of the house, intending to go and run, to discover that someone had driven into the car for the third time in two months. This however was not an incident I either heard or was involved in. The person drove off and has left me with damage that, if I chose to claim on via insurance, has the potential to significantly increase cover. It is hardly considerable, but there is a principle at play that ended up making last night depressing and uncomfortable. It would have been great to have been cheered up by my husband, but he went out on a Company jolly and has yet to come home.

Instead, I asked the Internet for a hug.

Lots of people maintain that Social media is, by definition, an attention seeking device. Whilst that is undoubtedly true to a point, it also serves an important function as support network by proxy. Take the various ‘friends’ I know who have loved ones or are themselves undergoing cancer treatments right now: none of them could ever be accused of using communication as anything else except as means of helping them cope with the most frightening thing that is ever likely to happen in their lives. When the ‘rules’ of your space are clearly defined, you should be able to ask for whatever you want and get it, no questions asked.

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The problem comes with those people for whom attention really is the whole point of the exercise. I follow a number of individuals like this, watching them pontificate and pronounce with a detached sense of interest. In all cases this comes from being told truths about them from other people I trust and have far better relationships with, which make the actions of these media evangelicals inherently false. It reinfoces the point that sometimes, the truth of actions is inescapable. Cry wolf too many times and ultimately, people will find out the real truth.

Then there are the people who suddenly vanish: this ultimately goes one of two ways. Either the person is able to escape the issues they’ve had and become stronger, or they’ll just be back as if nothing has changed. I will admit there’s a sadness when the latter happens, because I know only too well how it feels to be trapped by your own inability. If you choose to leave, don’t look back. I’ll also freely admit this has happened to me on many occasions virtually, and in reality, simply walking away was the best course of action for everybody concerned.

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I asked for a hug last night because I felt alone. It wasn’t gratification that drove the request, but genuine unhappiness. I’ve done this from time to time when emotional stability has been in question, and it always has a positive effect. This time, I also made a significant realisation on the back of it. Asking for help is not bad or wrong. Where you do this matters as much as the action itself, and being reassured by strangers is, and was, an extremely powerful tool, especially when the people we hope will do the job are not around.

I wish my husband had not gone out last night, but this was possibly the most important social event of his work calendar, and on reflection I would have felt bad if I’d have asked it of him. What I can do however is tell him this, in the hope he understands that right now is a difficult emotional and mental period for me. That’s all anyone should reasonably expect of anybody else. Communication really matters, far more than most people will ever grasp or understand.

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When I look at those who neither care or think about the consequences of their demands, it gives considerable pause for thought. However, it is those for whom these platforms have become means of self gratification that are more concerning. Gaining relief and reassurance from interaction is a quite different thing than making others beholden to you, or somehow part of a cult of personality. Those are the individuals for whom Social media’s usefulness can only be measured in numbers, and for whom the concept of success is maintained until someone finds them out and exposes the con for what it is.

If that is what is termed as achievement, I want no part of it.

Can’t Do

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History is on a lot of people’s minds of late: how it can be selectively re-written, that some believe parts of it never happened… and that if we’d take a moment and learn from the past, a lot of the present would be far more liveable. Selective memory is a problem too: you’ll remember the good times and forget the bad… or perhaps it is the other way around. However you individually perceive the passage of time, inevitably you’ll be too close to event to to begin with. Only with the benefit of time and reflection does the real truth emerge. Inevitably your version of history will agree with others to a point.

I’ve fucked up a lot in my life, and there are those people who’ll tell me I’m too hard on myself and they’d be wrong. It has only been through decades of learning what’s right and what isn’t then constantly reassessing those choices that any progress has been made. It still all falls apart, but the comfort I take when this happens is that the periods between disaster are getting longer each time. Trying to take a long term view of history also allows my mind the ability to deal with problems and fully understand solutions. The problems inevitably arise when you try and communicate, and stuff just doesn’t go as you wish.

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There are days like today when, if you gave me a wish, I’d ask to just stop time so I can fix all the mistakes and make everybody happy. No, it won’t happen, and if I’d been a smarter woman I’d have never opened mouth to begin with. However, there comes a point when you grasp that however much work gets poured into an endeavour, it is never just your venture to dictate and power. Like it or not, and with the best will in the world, you can never provision for the unexpected. For every apparent success story, there will always be a negative consequence.

I can try as much as possible to be better, not add to drama, to refuse to contribute to the negative but sometimes, you just fuck up. What amazes me, and continues to do so, is what happens when the instigator is someone else. Admitting liability is one of the easiest things in the World to do when one can understand failure. When you live and breathe it every single day, it becomes remarkably simple to grasp. Explaining that to someone who doesn’t understand is, ultimately, the most fruitless task you will ever attempt, and it can break your heart.

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I mention all this today because someone has drifted back into my social media circles  who pretty much gave me the massive finger a while ago, because they didn’t like my behaviour. Now they are back, there is a bewilderment as to their attitude, and why they chose to be the way they were. No, I have no desire to ask, and on reflection when I’m done I’m gonna go block them wherever they can see me. It also makes a financial decision a lot easier in the long term, but that’s beside the point. If you want to be an adult, that comes with consequences. I’m continually staggered at how little some people are prepared to deal with when challenged.

If a relationship matters enough, it is worth the work. If, when challenged over an attitude or a reaction your reaction back is to start a fight, you are the one at fault. Although it takes two to have the argument, it only requires one person to start. When that’s me, I’ll now deal with the consequences like the woman I am. When someone else is at fault, I’d expect them to do the same. The disappointment in life for me now is that so many people won’t admit their share of blame, and allow everybody a chance to move on.

In that regard, I know I am not alone.

Who’s Fooling Who

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It has been a while since I woke up feeling unwell. I can blame the weather 100% for this: we’re in the last thrashing throws of pollen and spores before Nature shuts down for the year, meaning I woke up wheezing at 5am and was grateful a new inhaler was bought last week. However, I would be lying if there wasn’t an admission that mentally a break would be great: there’s only two more days to wait. After that, it’s not long before the school cycle begins again, and I can return to some semblance of normality.

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I have much I want to do going forward, and now all of the various intentions are public it is a case of organising means by which this can all take place. There’s a new poetry contest to start considering an entry for, necessary preparation work required for NaNoWriMo coming up in November… and then National Poetry day in September. Mostly, life is now more planning to ensure a smooth transition from stage to stage than has ever existed before, and I really couldn’t be happier.

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Today therefore is an awful lot of Zen thinking, backed up with a shittonne of hard work. Hopefully, I’ll feel well enough by the afternoon to go to the Gym, and get some exercise in, and make this as close to a ‘normal’ day as possible.

Quiet Life

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Is this what it’s like to be normal?

Yesterday, I went shopping and bought a lovely military style jacket. I had a burger for lunch and cake for dinner. Today, I went for a haircut, and did some PT, and didn’t worry about nuclear winters or stupidity or anything really significant. I saw someone do something REALLY stupid in public and wrote a letter telling her employers that this wasn’t very sensible. I got up to date on chores, and remembered that my body actually looks good. There was, and still is, minimal stress. I’ve had a really good day.

Then I remembered why this doesn’t happen nearly as much as it should do. There’s a group of people who mean well, and are really lovely, but they complain too much. They’re grumpy and antagonistic and think that the only way stuff changes is if they say so. They pronounce opinion with the arrogance that only comes when nobody can tell them they’re wrong. A lot of these people, sadly, are gamers. I wish they weren’t but there you have it.

People told me I couldn’t better myself. I was stupid trying to start my own business. I’d not be a weightlifter in my 50’s. Why was I doing all this? Well, that’s obvious, this is an entirely self generated exercise in attention seeking and I’m going to fail. Well, guess what? I don’t care how many times that happens because when it does I just pick myself up and try harder. When I do try, remarkable things happen, and my life gets better. The less I listen to bigoted, narrow minded cockwombles, the more amazing my confidence becomes.

You’re on this earth for a stupidly short space of time. Some stuff you can do nothing about, so focus on the achievable, not the ridiculous. You don’t have to do it all, just the stuff that makes you happy. If you don’t know what that is?

Go and find out.