Hotel California

It’s 6.30 am, and I’m awake with cramp in my left leg and insane urge to pee. Having drunk and emptied my bladder, I sneak back into bed, only to be met with the following:

“You’ll never guess what happened last night,” says my husband, and I’m already imagining what new horror 2021 has presented. Was there an explosion somewhere, or some huge disaster that has taken more lives?

“They finally took his Twitter account away.”

I find myself wondering how the World ended up in the mess it has, and then remember that most people consider success as being rich and powerful. The reality of this stupidity is pretty much impossible to ignore, whatever future you decide to pursue: for instance, as a writer it is drummed into you from childhood that to become successful, there had to be a book deal. Publication matters above everything else. Last year, I self-published my first chapbook, and the thrall of other people’s success was summarily exploded.

Twenty copies currently have been sold, and I know every single person who bought one. My joy, every time someone else hands over money to read it will never, ever diminish. If this were all there was, if tomorrow I ceased to exist, this would be the happiest I’ve ever been. It will never be a bestseller. Graham Norton will never interview me on a chat show. That’s not the reason this journey’s being undertaken. I’ve seen famous writers, and what they do with their fame. I’m frankly embarrassed and depressed at what other writers consider a good use of their power. That is never happening in my world.

Validation is yours to dictate and nobody else’s to own.

It’s incredibly liberating, only having myself to compete with. For decades, all those moments when impressing others probably destroyed my own chances of personal development… there’s no point hand-wringing any more. The future is what matters, ensuring less stress to hamstring creativity, resulting in constantly improving output. Doing exercise every day has been a massive boost too, being physically tired used to completely wreck any ability to move forward. Now, rest comes in different ways. Lots of stuff has been redefined for the better.

If you read back though this blog, that evolution has been a long time coming. Some people would delete that ‘expired’ content and somehow mystically pretend that things were always this great. I will never, EVER be most people. All that I am, good and bad, is here for the world to see, progression from There to Here, with all points in-between, testament to a now fundamental belief that life is only worth living if you are true to yourself. That means admitting the mistakes, embracing the shortcomings and in my case, on a semi-regular basis, setting everything on fire before planting new ideas within my own ashes.

Never again will there be a pretence of living life under someone else’s auspice.

Things will be submitted this weekend, because the only way confidence is ever built is by being rejected. However, this year it’s not about being upset or frustrated when I fail. Instead, the lessons will be learnt. All this good work will be used, in one way or another, and nothing will ever go to waste. As body becomes leaner, mind is sharpened. I take with me the story of a woman who found my blog by accident whilst waiting with her mother for cancer treatment. She read every post I’d written, then sent an email as thanks for such an honest, uncompromising read.

Every piece of criticism is read and digested. Every compliment, filed away and remembered. You don’t get better by ignoring others.

You only improve with quiet, continuous effort.

Musclebound

… and you’re back in the room.

This weekend has taught me a lot about stamina: not just getting my legs to a place where I can sweat out a training programme without fear, but how things really can improve if you stop giving up. It is about pushing through the pain and discomfort, and so much else. Knowing what you can and cannot do are important benchmarks. Once marked, eating into them, subsequently improving them is less terrifying, because they’re static.

Someone I care a great deal about pointed out to me recently my propensity to try and do everything simultaneously, and how that ultimately is destructive. Yes, it absolutely is. I freely admit this, and will happily attest that having a brain that decides everything is possible when nothing is fixed is a sure fire way to hamstring yourself. It’s happened for years.

Not any more.

As it transpires, taking a day off was all that was needed to let my brain relax into new ideas. Therefore, I will start scheduling rest days for writing as well as exercise. It also helps immensely that everything that was done last week was scheduled into next week, thus freeing up a ton of space that previously did not exist. I’ve also recycled an inordinate amount of old work into new spaces.

There is also some though being given to dismissing an original plan and producing something completely left field as my inaugural self-publicised work. It is already made, which in itself saves on effort. I’m still thinking about the options available. If you’re a Patron, I’ll be talking about it more this week via your blogs, and on the IoW website.

There is suddenly a great deal of possibility in the air.

Bang Bang

At the end of my first round of Blaze last night,  brain wanted to go home. Fortunately, only my PT (who runs this Thursday class) picked up on the issue. Everybody else thought I had an off night. I cried for a bit in the car afterwards, again in bed. It didn’t help, not did it make me feel any better. It happened, it’s done, and there is nothing sitting here that can be dome to improve the situation. Anxiety can only managed, not eliminated. Once upon a time I would have run away.

That’s not happening any time soon.

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Somebody yesterday introduced me to the concept of Callahan’s Law, and it makes perfect sense: from the spike of anxiety comes a final understanding, that joy is forged from my own pain. Before I wasn’t physically or mentally capable of doing the transformation: even last night, in the depths of exhaustion, stuff got done, things were completed and real, tenable progress made. The bad session was needed to enlighten and move forward: lessons have already been learnt.

Today we’ll be back on the bike, because it transpires my legs are now where the most work needs to be done.

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Ideally, my paper doll colour bars need to match that of my right arm: weight on hips and lower stomach is included in my legs ‘colour’ and that is where the majority of excess fat now resides. It means carrying on the ‘something every day’ mentality that was going to be kick-started with power-walking, but cycling is just as effective. Taking the Fitbit off left wrist and placing it at the bottom of cycling shorts reproduces the movement required to count as steps. Strava does the rest.

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This will be the benchmark week for effort, showing what factors contribute to those scores in purple and red. I can cycle for longer and score lower, if the amount of effort placed in maintaining RPM (spin speed) and Watts (effort in each spin) is not high. The harder it is to pedal, the more Watts are burnt, if there’s sufficient understanding of the principle here. Wednesday’s ride therefore, where there was more effort but less time, scores higher. Ideally, that ought to be the benchmark on high energy days.

Today there won’t be any weights because two days of Blaze means the top half of my body’s knackered. We’ll see, when I get on a bike later (probably at lunchtime) how much is left in the legs. If it’s a 9 today, that’s as productive as a 15 or a 25. Right now, there’s no contest, just the need to start eating away at the shortfall. Oh, and there’s a good chance I’ll fuel with dirty sugar before it begins.

Sometimes, you’re allowed to cheat.

I Go to Sleep

I just had a kip on the sofa. It means I’ve managed eight hours of sleep for the first time since the weekend and is a reminder that if I want to get better at exercise, there has to be more rest.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt this tired before in my life.

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The problem is that this isn’t just physical: yesterday was a day of getting my brain around the two writing projects I want to get finished. I realised just how awful my work was back before I believed in myself and what was possible. Then I finally lost my temper with a group of toxic people who I will no longer allow to hold back my progress when it comes to doing what matters. Now they are all on time? I can start to focus on what matters, which tomorrow means a day of self-care and pampering. I have skin products and am going to take care of hands and feet as well as body and brain.

Then I hope to finish week one of the Hard Bastard Exercise Regime on a high.

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Nobody said this would be easy, and it hasn’t been, and there have been some stutters on the way to becoming more consistent. However, progress is undoubtedly forward.

I hope tonight’s bike ride will be a distinct improvement on yesterday’s.

Night Boat to Cairo

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That sleep looks a lot worse than it was: the break at nearly 3am was because both kids were making the most of Half Term freedom, and I can’t really get the hump at this. Then I needed the loo at 5am, and my right arm is going to sleep thanks (I suspect) to the increase in upper body work being thrust upon it. It’s a hard life, but when I begin to get stressed comes the reminder that a) I have a bed to sleep in and b) I part own the house it is inside and everything else fades into background noise.

A very good friend who I had sort of assumed was lost to my past appeared on the doorstep yesterday lunchtime as a reminder that actually, you can just forget the bad stuff and carry on as if nothing happened. Of everybody I know she was always the kindest and most generous of people anyway, so maybe that’s the take away from all of this. The people who aren’t there to screw you over or don’t get what you really are will be patient, understanding, and should be rewarded with respect in kind. Therefore I have offered to go assist her in a project she’s involved in. I think that’s the least I can do.

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This is a reminder therefore that sometimes, stuff just gets better without you having to do anything about it. That’s not the way to live your life, however: just hoping other people will appear at the relevant moments is hugely selfish. Therefore the lesson to be learnt going forward is to not be the person who always takes and to ensure that giving always exceeds. That’s a good way to think on the last day of my 50th year. There has been immeasurable progress, and although some of it might not have been great, the overriding majority has been.

That’s a good foundation to build on going forward.