Burial

Yesterday, I did a two and a half hour poetry ‘workshop’ at a local place I wasn’t aware existed until earlier last month. The details will be covered in a Writing Site post tomorrow, but there is one part of that process I’d like to highlight here. For one of the exercises, I was asked to look in a mirror and imagine myself as an animal. Except I panicked, and almost ran out of the room in terror.

Mirrors and I have a long history of not liking each other.

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It’s a complex equation: body dysmorphia, general anxiety, plus a lot of other neuroses. It is still tough to look at myself completely in a mirror and be comfortable with the image I see looking back. Certainly over the last few years, it has become easier. I end up watching myself however sometimes, just because it is tough to reconcile what is seen with what I know is a far larger and more complex truth.

It’s what makes the Gym some days quite a tough ask, and why I tend to just get on with what needs to be done and not focus on things that use the mirrors as notional guides for positioning. Last night however, I was hugely proud of myself. I took what was the initial panic and reined it in, thanks to my counselling, before pushing through the exercise. It began largely negative, but then ways were found to switch it round.

The final resulting piece was a revelation.

It’s odd how somebody else’s definition of understanding can alter yours, if you allow the process to run its course. It is, of course, the basis of all education: some questions will only have one answer, others are laid out, shades of gray so subtle and often interchangeable as to be indistinguishable from distance. It’s only when you allow complete acceptance of someone else’s ideas that you accept ability to shift your own.

It’s that concept which is vital to make your children understand quite early on: the reason why you teach people rules is so that you can understand them, but once you know them, they are a lot more flexible than you might first realise. The fundamentals of poetry and art are complex and often frustrating, but to know them is to allow the ability to then move away, at your own pace, to new and exciting places.

Last night’s unassuming two and a half hours has started something rather interesting.

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Always There

Two more days to go, and then I can take a whole day off… except I will end up doing my sun salutes as has been the case all month. They’ll happen as soon as I wake up, and then the rest of the day… tempted to spend large portions of it in bed, if I’m honest. Excet, of course, I have stuff to do. It can wait until Sunday. All of it can. To do nothing on Saturday is the reward for all this.

It is great to have doubled what was the default target of £150 set by Mind for my contribution. I upped it to £250 so that I’d have to hassle people to dig into their pockets and it has worked very well. I’m still hoping some notable people might turn up and provide some help, but it hasn’t happened yet, which is actually a bit disappointing. Yeah, I said it.

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Lots of people won’t have the conversations that matter right now. There’s too much else to worry about, and that’s fair. However, the benefits of taking that vital step out of your comfort zone are really very real indeed. I may be exhausted mentally, but physically this is an amazing new place that I can’t believe this time last week I was considering jacking everything in to go eat cake.

Sometimes, the unexpected is what validates your decisions: not the affirmation from family or friends, or support from an organisation. It really is that random, out of the blue compliment which isn’t either solicited or expected that puts everything into real sharp focus. I’d certainly not anticipated one of those at 8.35 this morning and when it happened… suddenly an awful lot of stuff just fell into place.

There are other things that now must come to pass to ensure this progress is neither minimised or lost. That does mean I’ll be in the Gym Sunday, running a 5K again. It does mean that next week we go to Tuesdays and Thursdays only with Blaze, because HIIT is not doing what it needs to do when I have no energy to push the envelope. Stamina now, I think we can all agree, is covered.

It is the right moment to find some new comfort zones to step out of.

Boulevard of Broken Dreams

DAY 13: Experiences are GREAT. Getting out there, doing new stuff, enjoying all that Life’s ‘rich tapestry’ lays before you. Never turn down those never to be repeated offers, that’s for damn sure. However, for some of us, there are limits. I’m at peak mental capacity right now, and all that’s happened is words on a screen. It’ll improve once this poetry’s edited and Submitted, allowing a brief respite before The Next Thing arrives to prevent anything new barging into view.

I’ve realised, probably for the first time properly enough to write it down, that My Best Life is not stacked full of variety. In fact, the more change you shove into it, the worse brain becomes at coping. This is, of course, autism writ large. Can it be altered? That’s a very good question, and one that 2019 will help solve. For now, the biggest single obstacle to MBL (which sounds like some financial institution) is my brain.

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To tackle this in sensible, bite-sized chunks is clearly the answer going forward. My PT’s off for two weeks radio silence (very well deserved) and whilst she is away I have a plan. It is simple, and requires no real mental effort: get stronger. There’s leg days (cycling) and arm days (push up/pull up super sets plus hanging and other gubbins) plus core days (using a TRX unit) all to be done. The only fly in this ointment is that I give blood on Monday, which will reduce effective output for the first week.

However, with Huel as breakfast going forward, and today being Day One of Sugar Free January? This is all doable. Of course it is. The only issue is my ability to push.

The biggest enemy is myself.

Honesty

This week’s going by quite fast, but the progression within is more than acceptable. I can now do dips at the Gym (and will be going back to practice those later) and my upper body strength is… well, coming along nicely. I tweaked a bicep after Monday, but everything appears to be fine today. It’s gonna be some running and some lifting, therefore, followed by balancing and core work. There’s also gonna be cycling tonight, because London to Southend is not very far away.

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After that, there is a PHENOMENAL amount of poetry to be written, and short stories to be planned, and a lot of thought over how I schedule stuff during August. Most of that will happen next week, on reflection, but for now there’s a calm over content which is quite reassuring. Yes, there was also an annoying (but predictable) fuck-up yesterday, because it wouldn’t be an application process without me making a mess of something. Hopefully, I’ve now got that part of the journey better covered.

I’m also grumpy. It’s not a bad feeling, in fact it is in places funny, but to share it would make more people unhappy than it would allow me to feel better. The key between Old Me and New Me is that instead of just saying what’s on my mind and ignoring the consequences, there’s the desire to just let it go, without the need to make my point. Yeah, it’s a bit hard to cope with right now, but tea and distraction will make everything better.

This energy can then be directed elsewhere.

Hello Hello

This week has become rather important for a lot of reasons. A number of these cannot be spoken about (as yet) but once the processes are complete, that will change. For today, however, I have daughter here after an extremely torrid week abroad and husband after a weekend where he couldn’t walk more than about six steps without someone admiring his bike. I’ve almost managed to clear the largest pile of washing that’s ever existed in the house, and (once my writing duties are done) the Gym is already calling.

Having comprehensively established there is no such thing as a body detox, my regime when starting a new exercise programme is lots of water and religious calorie counting. I’ll be taking the RideLondon46 training quite seriously too starting today, with at least five days a week involving some time on a bike.I am rather looking forward to a focus on exercise and not much else, with the free time dedicated to writing and preparing written stuff for awards, bursary’s and contests.

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It is going to be a bit me-focused this week as a result, for which I apologise in advance.

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As you read this, I’ll be at the Gym, doing an early weights session to try and get a headstart to the week. There’s a good reason why I’ve scheduled this post in advance: the notion of what is significant has altered a lot in the last twenty-four hours. Today, I don’t need to be ‘live’ because everything can happen with automation. There’s so much to prepare for February I’ll need all my free time focused on that, and as these posts are the ones I can do without needing peace and quiet to complete…

When I get back from the Gym I need to dive into the back-end stuff and archiving with a clear mind and as much concentration as possible. Therefore, if anything significant happens tomorrow, you’ll get to hear about it on Tuesday. This is the plan moving forward that gives more time to focus on the stuff I really want to do. I also enjoy the concept of time travel enough to feel that broadcasting from past to future is worthwhile signposting, so you know I’m both honest and serious about making my goals work long-term.

You’ll see me when I’m done.

Silent Night

I know I said I’d be along sooner, but there is a reason.

My planner, normally chocablock, has been bereft of anything since Tuesday, which was when I finally sent out my final piece of Patreon content to users. After that, I realise, things needed to stop. I have run myself both to mental and physical standstill this week, which culminated in a 7.30 am Hospital trip yesterday with my youngest, and who is now going to live the rest of his life carrying an EpiPen. As the Specialist stated (mostly I suspect for my reassurance) sometimes you can do nothing about these things in childhood, they just happen. That’s a metaphor for the Patreon thing too, I now realise. It would have been easy to just ignore all the grand plans and simply go back to the way things were.

Sometimes however, the unknown is your best way forward.

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I know how stressed I’d been last night on the bike, and can feel the tension in neck and shoulders this morning, slowly melting away. Months of stress over performance and parental responsibility won’t vanish, but it will ease. It is helping me push through lack of energy (legs hurt this morning, that means progress) and will, undoubtedly, keep me keen as I go into the Christmas period. There is no intention to stop, even with provision for a ride on Christmas Day in the ManShed. This whole exercise thing has become the foundation on which everything else will be based, and it is glorious.

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For now, therefore, I’m gonna make some toast, write some blog posts and then muck around for a bit before I go do my last Gym session before Christmas.

The future, undoubtedly, is looking fitter.

Audacity of Huge

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It’s a new month. I’m a bit behind, but not hugely so (which is progress in itself) and once I have caught up today (which I will) there’s an entire month of important and groundbreaking stuff from me. A list was written at the start of the year, and although some of it has not yet taken place, an awful lot of change and improvement has come to pass.

I started an Instagram from scratch for this Project. I’m hoping my artwork will attract an audience because that is what this will be for the next 31 days: art based around poetry. I have no illusions either, but as I’m doing this right now completely for my own enjoyment and satisfaction? It doesn’t matter. It starts a process of using visual media in different ways. That’s October’s plan: push the envelope. Produce original work and escape the current comfort zone. There are still a few glitches along the way to overcome, but we’ll cover those too.

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I’m still not a poet, but the role is becoming easier to wear as time goes on. My main focus remains on fiction, and on that front, I announced yesterday my formal participation in NaNoWriMo this year. However, I’m yet to commit to the piece I’m working on. That’s causing a bit of concern, but there is now a distinct lean towards doing things ‘properly’ and planning an original idea from scratch. I’ve given myself a deadline of Friday to commit, one way or the other.

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I’m effectively using November to write, and blogging will pretty much completely encompass this process on the Writing Site. I’ve cancelled my Patreon output to accommodate this and will spend the month redesigning the ‘idea’ of IoW: when I began the journey, I considered poetry as something of an afterthought. This month I’ll be entering The Poetry Society’s official contest for the form. There’s a place I never thought I’d ever reach, and the next stage in my writing journey is short stories. This month’s offering is a forced and radical departure from previous attempts, for that very reason. You never learn by simply doing the same thing, over and over.

This month, many comfort zones will be blown.

The Man Who Told Everything

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I need to make some new headers. Hang on whilst that goes on the To Do List.

Today, I’ll be wibbling about Poetry (a lot) on the Writing blog because it’s now become a part of daily life. I’ve written a ton of stuff, in the vain hope something might get me noticed. After all, if you don’t try, you’ll never know.

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Again, this could end up as an exercise in disappointment. Brits don’t like the hard sell very much, and aggressive marketing often can backfire on itself. The problem for me is not being willing to sell myself over the years, mostly due to the fact it is quite hard to do so. Now, however, I’m learning to be wrong about a lot of things. It’s often a tough task, but this is probably the better means by which decades of bad decision-making and thoughtless outlooks are unwound. There is also the realisation that other people need to be left to make their own mistakes without a continual pronouncement of judgment. Yeah, let people enjoy their stuff. Then, allow them to get it wrong and learn too.

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Sometimes it is important to grasp that order and control only do so much. The happiest medium, it is now apparent, is a balancing act between order and chaos so delicate as to be dangerous. However much the belief exists that a quiet life is a key to unlock true happiness, that is not the case for me. I thrive on the extremes. So, there needs to be a way to do everything, upset nobody and yet still feel the highs and lows of sensation in the same breath. Yeah, it is no wonder I am often fucked by my own ambition and inability. This is hard work mentally, but worth every second.

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When the vultures are circling, you always need to be ready to come out fighting. Once upon a time, I would have run away. Not anymore.

Now, I’m feisty and ready to engage.

Yesterday

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I live in Gym kit currently for one reason alone: if I have it on, there’s more chance of making it to exercise than not. Except yesterday I put on the clothes and then grasped I’d be better off not pushing myself physically. It was a day to clear the decks, throw out the rubbish that has been clogging my desk. Things got put away, or recycled, and we entered the Money Where Mouth Is portion of developmental proceedings. As an exercise in self control and diligence, it was remarkably successful. I don’t remember the last time I was this organised, and it has helped considerably in motivating brain to start this week the way I mean to go on.

Now, the trick has to be sticking to that plan: the Moleskine is full, not simply with written work. I gave up on bullet journaling sometime in April, but the weekly planner has now become indispensable. Exercise goals, writing subjects, forward planning is all inside, and the settling of this routine becomes more comforting with every new week. I actually started doing that on Friday, knowing what needs to be done for the Internet of Words before it all kicks off on Saturday. Thus far I am quietly confident, and hopefully once there’s some content up to entice people, I’ll grab some more Patreons. That reminds me, must sort out a Google Form for the rewards requests. Excuse me whilst I make a note of that.

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This week is another two lots of PT with a hard third session shoved in the middle. If six hours sleep is gonna be the norm again thanks to night sweats and the neighbour (who has a 5am start and is not quiet) then I may not make it to Friday without a nap inserted somewhere, or at least one ridiculously early night. The week will at least be cooler and a bit wet, which suits me fine: I really hope this is the last of the hormonal junk I have to deal with. It is bad enough in the heat without my body taking a temperature rise on an almost predictable four hour cycle. There is however the real chance this is the next 18 months to two years of my life panning out and if so, it might be a plan to just stop moaning and work through it. If I were famous I could write a book about it or maybe do stand up, but as I’m not? Time to stick the kettle on and accept the inevitable.

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I’ve been eaten a lot by insects in this last couple of weeks too, which means my legs look horrible, and as I scratch in my sleep I felt today was not the one for shorts. I’ve resurrected one of my favourite pairs of leggings, and this reminds me I should have a clear out of clothing (again) as a lot of stuff is now close to being worn out, due simply to repeated use. My running shoes went that way last weekend, 25 miles of cycling the last straw, and looking at the soles the wear on the tread is a reminder that yes, I do take this all very seriously indeed, as should be the case. That will be the second pair I’ve worn out this year, and knowing that fact I’ve ordered the replacement pair this morning on sale, saving cash in advance. Ah, the joys of Internet shopping.

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The Warcraft blog’s got material already scheduled for the entire week. I’m not sure yet what is going to happen here, but I promise to try and make it worth your while reading.