Why Worry

This is earliest I’ve been up on a Sunday for a while.

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Yesterday was in turn interesting and painful. However, the progress made is undeniable, or else I’d not be up now and here (though a lot of that has to do with one small glass of extremely potent blended spirits.) I’ll go buy some beer in the week, which is far less likely to present fever dreams if something is required to act as relaxant after a tough day.

BOY was it good though…

I’ve missed one day’s training on the bike this week, and so will do two and a bit hours today (probably in two lumps) to make up to five. However, that’s not the only significant piece of progress. I took my iPad to the Gym on Friday, and have organised Zwift’s new running tracks to help me overcome my issues with doing that in the Blaze class…

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It might not seem like much, but being able to run without fear’s been at issue for a while. Once upon a time I could do 1k in eight and a bit minutes. That’s largely unsustainable in a HIIT class and so I’m working on slower and steadier to begin with. We’ll aim for 10 minutes uninterrupted at about 7 kph and after that? Anything is a bonus.

Now, it is time for a cuppa and to plan the upcoming week.

Last Dance

I am between exercises (done Gym, about to do Bike) but am supposed to stop and have some protein first, like a good girl should after exercise. Brain is also full of thoughts: mostly they rotate around how I look at the world and conversely how it will view my physical form. Somewhere between the start of the Summer and now it became academic what body shape changes to. All that matters now is strength. Compliments, although flattering, are also largely redundant.

A lot of this is wrapped around mental changes made to accommodate a shift in direction.

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Starting next week, a lot of rejection will be coming my way. Even with my most optimistic face on there is NO WAY all those awards and mentorships that were applied for are likely to end up in my lap. That was never the real plan anyway: it is just a process of application after application until something sticks, and it would be a truly foolish woman who confidently believes she’ll be good enough after a year of work to hit the target first time. Time to NOT become a harbinger of fraudulent indignation: no hand wringing or lamentation on Social media, I promise.

There’s enough Drama to begin with online: the last thing that is needed right now is people feeling sorry for me. That’s not how this works. Genuine disappointment should, on reflection, never really happen. Yes, this stuff matters, but when you pin your hopes on stuff that becomes frankly unattainable by the majority? The potential to mentally unhinge oneself is quite real. That’s why exercise has become the real, achievable goal to focus on: keep working hard, and stuff does happen. As body and brain alter, so does understanding.

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Writing is more fun and satisfying now than it has been at any point in 40 years. I can see mistakes and correct them, know when to write, understand what’s bloated and emaciated in terms of descriptive background. All of this has flowed from the same process with body and exercise: this works those muscles, but after a while the same repetitions aren’t as effective, so it is time to mix things up. That’s why as of tomorrow you might not see any obvious changes but behind the scenes? A LOT has altered.

Everything is ready to go. Let’s do this, people.

Return to Sender

This week, things return to normal, despite the fact school does not start until a week on Thursday. I need to be back on the creation trail after time away, and there is a lot to do on that front which is already in the planning. More importantly, there will be a slew of poetry rejections next month, and that work will need to be assessed and used in a constructive fashion.

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More importantly, there are lots of projects that need to stop being dreams and become reality as we move into the Autumn.

BRB, re-organising my life.

Freedom 90

On Saturday, it became apparent that one of my vanity e-mail addresses had stopped working. There may have been some quite important email that has vanished, but I will never really know the cost, and it is far too late to worry. What this prompted was a long, hard look at what happens to my email and what is merited as ‘important’. It transpires I have ten e-mail addresses, gathered across the years. At no point have I ever deleted a message on at least three of them.

The rest of the day was spent sorting out the chaos that lack of activity had produced.

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In the end, 25,000 messages were trashed. This includes mails sent when my first ever Gmail account was created, back in 2005. The vast bulk of rubbish was acknowledgements from sites such as Twitter, or online forum which I belonged to, that simply never got dealt with at the time. It took a couple of hours, but the effort was more than worthwhile, and it allowed me to see exactly what account was getting what trash mail. The long-term benefit is that the actual volume of mail into my Mac (which collects from all the Gmail accounts and the vanity domain addresses) has been reduced by over 80%. Using the GDPR fiasco to unsubscribe from multiple newsletters and online gumph that’s no longer needed, it’s like the last thirteen years of bollocks into my Inbox never existed.

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Needless to say, it’s a little embarrassing that it took my own stupidity to kick-start the action, but now that’s done, there is no going back. The sense of satisfaction and general organisation cannot be adequately overstated, either.

Like so many things, this should have been done years ago.

The Other Side

From the low, you inevitably come up. How that used to happen was normally accompanied by a lot of thrashing and wailing. This time around, the day started with a lot of playing Warcraft and no worries about the consequences. Stuff is scheduled and ideas are on the table. There will even be a short story finished by the end of the weekend for Mr Alt to edit. After I’d played, and progressed some stuff that was planned, there was a walk to the Gym. Lots of stretching happened both before and after the session.

There I worked REALLY hard.

The key is to keep moving. Once upon a time I’d have sat and felt sorry for myself, but having learnt the difference between good and bad pain after a year of experiencing plenty of both, there’s now the ability to discern the difference. Getting back on the road to fitness isn’t as painful as was expected, when all is said and done. What is hardest of all, and which prompted the Tweet yesterday, is everything outside of my control. It will mean that there will have to be a reassessment of priorities in the next few weeks. I have Eroica in a month (Saturday outfit sorted, Sunday will not take long.) There’s a distinct possibility I could be doing Ride London.

If they both come to pass, there needs to be more fitness than currently exists to complete both. If the latter happens, there’ll be a sponsorship page for a mental health charity going up because without support, I’d not be here.

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The problem is big numbers; building stamina, without my body failing to cope. That’s where the bike comes in, and why I’ll be getting back on tonight.

That whole ‘no pain, no gain’ thing is the absolute truth.

Breathe

Lots of people aren’t coping with modern life. You don’t need to be a genius to understand why. With Mental Health Awareness Week upon us, yet again a well-meaning organisation attempts to get a population to listen who are already struggling to cope with the pace of change around them. You only need to look at the rise in hate crime, the drop in high street sales and a distinct apathy amongst those people who don’t have issues coping but are getting mightily fed up of being told it’s not enough to see that possibly, maybe, all this information’s becoming an overload.

Although I applaud this charity (without whom I’d not be as together right now as is undoubtedly the case) and the efforts being made, there’s a feeling that a lot of people will only be caring this week for what this can do for their own social media reach. Conversely, a bunch of opportunists will use this as a way to highlight their own agendas, fall deeper into depression or simply stop listening. I’ve seen it myself, from horribly subjective personal experience. After a while, your mental health issues can become a joke. Taking the piss out of people you care about it might make you feel big and clever, but it is neither, and yet that’s what happens.

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So, how do we deal with issues which many of us just want to ignore to begin with? The answer is so subjective that any large-scale campaign can only hope that we, as human beings, take initiative for ourselves. That’s how anything works best: understand what it that is wrong, find a solution that works for you. The problem comes with how to define your problem. Stress, as it stands, is a good starting point. Learning how to eliminate it may seem daunting, but that’s simply not true. Thanks to the Mental Health Foundation’s Mindfulness course, my life has transformed over the last year. When taken with exercise and better self care, the difference to every aspect of my existence is without exception. This is really the best it has ever been, even during the days when I go backwards.

What Mindfulness has done for me is separate self from the anxiety and fear that has nothing to do with World news, Social media drama or peer group pressure. It allows a detachment from the fear only I can create, within my own mind. Once able to function separately from such restrictions, and control self in an effective fashion, so much else became easier not only to cope with but grasp with objectivity. This technique may not work for you, but for me it has markedly improved anxiety, anger and depressive episodes: control is no longer out of my hands, but can be managed and bolstered when added to exercise and other forms of relaxation.

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If you’re feeling stressed reading this, I’d argue the best thing to do is stop being on the Internet and go outside. That works on most days, but for those when it doesn’t, the answer might be finding someone to talk to, especially if its an issue that you know won’t be going away any time soon. Mindfulness is only part of my complex puzzle.

Finding pieces that fit yours can be a stressful task too, but is more than worthwhile in the end.

Round and Round

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Last week wasn’t meant to be a line in the sand, but ended up that way regardless. It means that starting today, there needs to be an awful lot of steps and exercise to maintain momentum.

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That top number’s not accurate either, by the end of yesterday I’d managed 22k steps. Today I’m planning to walk to the Gym after lunch, do an hour of weights then come back, with an hour of cycling in the evening. I start with my new PT on Thursday so it would be useful to look as if there’s an effort being made before then. Most importantly of all, my arm’s now at a stage where exercise is simply an inconvenience and not either painful or an effort.

It is time to get working.

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That first week was when the old drugs were switched for new and body was just exhausted. After that, there has been a slow and steady increase in both effort and ability. I don’t think 12k steps a day is at all unrealistic. I’m not sure 23k a day is doable if there has to be work involved, but that’s a decent point to aim for. There’s half a plan to leave my car in the Gym car park after dropping off my daughter each day next week, exercising and then walking home, before coming back to pick it up for the return School Run.

I doubt anyone would notice that if I did.

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Right, I need to be exercising and now writing now.