Smells Like Teen Spirit

Day 2: I need to make a phone call. I don’t wanna look too keen. Gonna write this first and then do it, yeah, that’s a good plan.

Today, we explain the difficulties with relationships via the medium of Hairdressing.

The Next Chapter Bar

A woman’s relationship with her hairdresser is both complex and incredibly subtle. You trust a (reasonably) total stranger to make you look fabulous, and not to destroy self confidence in the process. That whole thing with Samson and his locks equalling strength? Utterly spot on. When stuff does go wrong, it often means the end of your relationship. The chances you’ll hand over cash again to someone who turned your hair purple when you wanted blonde? Fairly slim.

I’d been with the same salon for a LONG time. I’d gone there before my son was born, cycled through two stylists, and the day I came home with purple hair having not asked for it was significant. When younger a lot of hairstyles happened, a few colours, but the desire to go 100% mermaid has never stuck. It isn’t me, and to have it imposed accidentally was not really as shocking as might have been the case. It made a tough decision a lot easier: it was time to leave.

When your stylist can’t get your name right… absolutely the right moment to move on.

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So, I’ve bounced between a few places in the intervening period, finding empathy in a couple of stylists, but never the desire to stay, until I took my daughter for a trim at the local hairdressers and found a young lady who is, quite frankly, welcome breath of fresh air. She’s professional and thorough but what I get most from her is the fact that there are no pretensions of anything. She is what she is, and that is what matters. For too long I was simply anonymous. Now, I feel genuinely wanted.

That’s the key in all relationships, I realise. To be a part of something where you don’t feel as if you’re doing all the work, or that you’ve been included because that’s what you think other people would do to look relevant. You shouldn’t be friends with someone  because of who they know, or what that relationship could provide. It just happens. Clicking a button then contributing no effort is not friendship. Reading about another person’s life and adding nothing of value to it is not friendship.

Just because you follow someone does not entitle you to part of their existence.

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Actual copy from a Robot-based ‘we increase your following for you’ website.

Robots continue to create an illusion of care and interest that, in many cases, will never exist. It is all about the business of ‘appearing’ popular and successful, without the genitalia-achingly tough task of talking to every person, establishing trust and belief, before moving on. Truly popular people end up that way because they focus on their desires 24/7, and keep on giving, in a way that cannot be faked or indeed replicated. Looking at my Twitter feed, more and more the genuine hard workers are abundantly apparent, putting lesser mortals in the shade.

It is a fine destination to aim for, continuing to be reassuringly inspirational.

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Not everything online has to be drama, but amazingly that doesn’t stop a lot of people aspiring towards just that. It’s not like there’s no other stress in the World right now either. I get that some of you want online to be your own safe, secure little Utopia of Calm. The reality of existence is that if you wilfully ignore one thing, it’ll happen with others, and that’s never a state of affairs that will ever end well. That lesson has been learnt the hard way. Friendship isn’t just turning up for the good stuff and ignoring the bad. That’s not how this works.

If this matters enough to you, make the effort.

Run to the Hills

The biggest single problem I possess right now in terms of exercise ability is stamina. HIIT routines are now just that, but anything over 90 minutes and I will summarily wilt. What is required is an understanding of what my limits are, how to play to them and then finally exceed them.  Fortunately for me, Zwift has the means by which I can deal with this issue, and still keep myself sane.

Welcome to the Alpe du Zwift.

It’s a bloody big hill, when all is said and done, and I can’t climb it in two hours… but one day, I will. This morning was the reconnoitre to see how far up I could get without busting a gut. I paced myself, bought snacks and extra water and for 110 minutes it was doable. Those last 10 minutes lasted about three lifetimes.

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Before on long rides my brain has stopped me, or my legs and (on a couple of occasions) a combination of both. Today was different. I needed to get used to the heat, and how body operates when energy is low. It was a massive learning experience, and slow realisation that, for many years, it has been my brain which prevented any kind of tenable progress. Now that’s under control, the only obstacle to progress is my own ability to put in the effort. That’s slowly getting fixed. I’ve been at this before Christmas, and only now is progress becoming apparent.

One day I will climb the Alpe du Zwift, but with England v Sweden imminent? It will not be today.

The Pleasure Principle

There’s a blog post I could write this morning about how all of us have short memories and fixate on the things that often don’t need fixing at all. Instead of that, there’s a bit of writing, then it is high time some weights were lifted, some cardio undertaken and my own shortcomings taken care of. If we all took as much time correcting the faults in our own lives as was consumed by the critical assassination of others, the World would undoubtedly be a better place.

In fact, that’s what matters more than anything else. Fix myself, as well as is possible (and if that’s not attempt to find someone who can help) and when that’s done to a standard that is acceptable, then there’s the opportunity to consider something else.

Life is too short to obsess about things that are out of your hands.

Breathe

I went to bed fine. I have NO IDEA what happened between that point and 2am, but waking up with an inability to lie horizontally without feeling I was drowning in my own lungs was not ideal. Shifting to the sofa so the rest of the house was not woken up by coughing meant there was little to no sleep there either. Going upstairs at the Gym this morning got me out of breath, but I was able to do a fairly robust one hour PT session, plus walk to and from there in the cold without issue.

Maybe this is the year hayfever could be out to kill me.

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Other than that I’m feeling pretty good. Changing gears in the car can happen now so there’s a supermarket trip in my immediate future (just have to avoid reversing, because pressure plus one movement too many at current levels.) Physiotherapy tomorrow is already looking up because there’s so much more straight in my arm than was there last week. I have everything organised and am confident it will happen. Plus, a new sushi restaurant has opened, so it’s time to scope out what’s on offer…

BRB staring at raw fish.

Crying

What a weekend.

I’m on five hours sleep right now, and maybe this isn’t the time to be starting something quite complex and potentially life-changing, but that’s how this works. Today begins a sixteen-week Cycling training course, which is how long before I go on holiday. An awful lot could and might happen between now and then, but this is how major change takes place.

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It’s meant for Ride London athletes, but the whole thing is organised around Zwift’s workout mode, and is linked to your FTP, so (ideally) it only pushes you as far as your body itself is capable. It is a change from just doing a weekly goal and has the potential to fundamentally alter me physically. I have no idea how long I can keep it going, and what the consequences of doing it might be, but this is my plan going forward. I have my starting weight as a guide, and I’ll be able to judge physical fitness by the end in terms not simply of my FTP, but endurance and stamina.

They say everything should have a goal, right?

If all else fails, that’s four month’s worth of content taken care of.

The Other Side

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Yesterday did not run to plan. However, the consequences of not getting what I wanted to be done are variously awesome: a couple of large domestic issues are solved, there’s a brand new shower door, and a lot of my daughter’s workspaces are considerably less cluttered and crowded than was the case. There’s four bags of recycling prepared, another three of rubbish, and I’ve managed to set up my Pedometer with the Zwift app so can start running/walking online tomorrow. All in, all, yesterday exceeded expectation.

It’s a chastening experience when you grasp that a lot of your own frustration is borne from the fact others won’t do stuff in the order you wanted. It is part of my own selfishness that has always run over into home life, and it takes a series of events such as the ones that happened yesterday to make me grasp the wider significance. It meant dropping everything and spending an hour cleaning old mastic off tiles, and making it possible for my husband to go buy the stuff needed to finish the shower door job. It was, and really is, remarkably mundane, and illuminated in my head a basic understanding.

I suspect this is all completely normal thinking processes for everybody else.

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Therefore, this morning the schedule’s gonna be rearranged a bit too. Always on the cards was a trip to a Retro/Vintage Fair in town, but this afternoon after I’ve worked a bit I’ll reorganise my plan from yesterday: clear out crap, increase space and generally make the world around my working space more conducive to, you know, working.

Let’s get started.

Sail Away

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There is now no escaping the understanding that I am looking at things differently. My clothes fit differently too, body parts doing things that were never the norm before. The last 23 days are the base layer of something quite unique and separate to that which has come before, at any point in my whole life. I realised last night, as husband urged me to sprint to a new personal best on Zwift, this is no longer about proving I can. This new year is understanding what I really want. Previously after having done a leg day at PT I would have (sensibly) relaxed for the evening. Not anymore. If I have the energy to do it, that is what will happen.

It also means embracing what matters most in the projects I’m working on and listening not simply to body’s capability. This is also hearing and attending to inner desires.

When I started my drawing project the belief was that I simply needed to be able to reproduce what was in my head onto paper. As time has gone on, the subconscious has begun to sublimate that desire, reminding that my art is not solely reproduction. I love photography, and increasingly the use of collage to tell stories. In fact, the comic strip is heading that way so that when I start telling a story at the beginning of February, there’s the ability to back up my feelings with appropriate imagery.

I’m getting quite excited about the ability to draw what I see, however, and that the ability exists at all. There was a concern I didn’t possess that capacity to begin with, but now I feel I could make a decent fist of still life work with enough time and focus. The next step, therefore, is to make time, and the change in working practices that’s currently in progress should allow that to happen without too much fuss.

I am surrounded by artists on my Twitter feed, and all of that disparate (and very brilliant) creativity is undoubtedly aiding the evolutionary process. It is true what they say that conducive environments create more possibilities to be creative if you choose to take them. I’m confident at this point I’ll do a year of strips too, and maybe beyond because this is a part of the expression process that is becoming increasingly vital. However, what is apparent is that pictures won’t just be hand-drawn, but created from other materials.

This is a development I’m more than ready to embrace.