Titanium

Yesterday was really hard, but at the same time extremely helpful. The one poem that had not been sitting right in my collection submission got re-written at the hairdressers. It’s now at least 500% better than it was, and the whole thing, as discussed, is now done and dusted. It doesn’t get fiddled with again, either, that’s it. For the first time in my adult life here’s something that needs to remain untouched.

The next time anything happens is publication.

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What happens now? That’s an extremely good question. There’ll be some yoga this morning, plus the arrangement of my PT schedule and exercise classes for March (gotta love some planning.) I need to work on channeling anger into more productive avenues. There needs to be an apology on the writing site about overreaching before I was really ready (looking at you, video content.) There’s stuff to do.

I need to relax a bit as well. The stress of holding onto something for three months, after a pretty emotional re-editing period, needs to be let go. It’s why last night’s exercise session was less than optimal, because honestly what is needed right now is not more of the same stuff. It might be the moment to re-organise things completely. My PT is on holiday at the end of next month and here’s a good place to switch things about.

Taking March ‘off’ looks like a very good idea.

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It also gives me time to play with poetry and photography and templates, which is the side hustle that appears to be working out really well right now. Graphic design skills are becoming the ability I didn’t realise was needed but which really is sticking me front and centre. However, I’ve managed only two follows this month. Nobody said this would be either instant or easy. Time to reassess the hashtags and reboot.

Everything is in a continuous state of flux…

New Horizons

When the Labour Party imploded before Christmas, a lot more people should have been surprised. I can remember the rhetoric on Social media when Corbyn was elected leader, that nobody in their right mind would ever trust him as Prime Minister. Of course, that’s no help now, in the darkest days of the Planet, and what is required is someone who can make ordinary people feel as if they truly do have a voice in the void.

If the future entailed voting on someone based solely on the strength of one video, this is pretty compelling stuff. However, as is about to become news once again, The Truth is no longer as black and white as was the case back when there were only four TV channels. Archive footage is irrelevant when placed beside memes and infobursts. Our future is ignoring the memories of old people, because they voted for Brexit.

What matters more than testimonial videos is what That Bloke on Facebook posted an hour ago. Although I may have abandoned the platform some time ago, my husband still sits and watches comedy videos and uses it for Hockey and Cycling groups. I’m fairly confident he’s not being manipulated in any way by fake news, but until he feels physically compelled to leave? Houston, we have a FUCKING HUGE PROBLEM.

That’s not the only issue: no other service is as badly regulated, is as casually used and abused, or easily accessible. Businesses demand employees use it, companies won’t promote themselves anywhere else. It plays on the most basic human need for connection, exploits it mercilessly, and then uses those connections TO SELL SHIT TO YOU. Most people don’t even care, but they won’t be the first to leave.

It is humanity’s inherent laziness that allows this platform to thrive.

I’m still using Instagram, it should be stated for the record, 100% in a promotional capacity. That’s only happening because it is free. However, there was a period before the writing career took precedence that Facebook was considered as a platform. I looked at ads. It scared the life out of me: how much money was needed, where the reach went, how the company pretty much demanded total immersion before anything became worthwhile… and I found myself, not for the first time, considering addiction.

This year is the one I’ve made a conscious decision to stop using Social media as a crutch. Online time is strictly limited on my phone. As this is the last day of the school holidays the tablet by the bed will be removed and left down here so there’s none of that either before sleep or when I wake up. The differences it’s making not only to sleep time but mental awareness is already obvious. Yes, you are addicted to Social media.

Addiction however is acceptable when everybody else is too.

None of this is relevant to anyone else, of course, because they aren’t addicted. It’s just a place to hang out with mates, or watch funny shit your cousin posted. Except there is increasing proof that repeated exposure to bad shit can alter good people. It’s how teens get radicalised, adults become utter morons and Chinese manufacturers convince you that purchasing their cheap generic knockoff is a better bet.

Once you can see through the lies, life becomes easier to rationalise, but no less painful to navigate, because unless EVERYBODY ELSE stops being dependant on the platforms, nothing changes… and eventually, unless we all regress back to a pre-electricity dependant state, someone else will come along and do the exact same thing. The only way life changes now is if EVERYTHING changes, and the chances of that right now seem incredibly slim indeed.

Other people can tell you the horror stories. I can recommend podcasts which explain how Facebook tries to be good, but at a terrible cost. There’s enough conspiracy theories out there to last a thousand lifetimes. The reality is simpler, easier to rationalise. You get one life, it remains finite and right now may not necessarily depend on how long you survive. The planet, for an increasing number of us, may burn before we do.

If that’s the case, this is the moment to stop staring at a screen for whatever reason, and to get out and do some good. Instead of filling social media with complaints and frustrations, this is when we get out there and do some good. Stop looking at other people’s lives and wishing yours was better. Make the change. There’s no statute of limitations on New Year’s Resolutions. Today is a great day to start fresh.

Any day can be the start of something better.

What We Leave Behind

It’s the first properly cold day of the season, and I am reminded of a moment that had, for many years, been previously lost in a haze of a past that was often uncertain. There’s been a lot of that of late, recollections of things that had been forgotten, buried under what can now be identified as historical trauma. Sometimes it’s TV shows or snatches of a song that was lost under stress. Very rarely is it stuff about being a kid.

Maybe that’s why I end up playing out so much of my adult life with wonder.

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Tomorrow I’m going to go try and have a chat with the management of my health club about the mental health consequences of their policies, amongst other things. The club, as a rule, is only really interested in what it’s done well, or what it needs to fix on a cosmetic level. Actual discussions over ethics and consequence don’t really seem to be registered or indeed acted upon. I do not hold out much hope.

However, as has been previously stated, I have to try. I was not given a choice, mental health issues are what they are. There is a choice therefore: accept your shortcomings, work on your strengths, and for all the time in between find a way to use rational debate and common sense to explain yourself. Tomorrow, we’ll see if that path will provide salvation or not.

It is only recently that having control of my existence has become really important. I am a realist, when all is said and done: sometimes, stuff is just best left alone. However, as is becoming apparent as more of the past emerges to challenge me over my actions and motives, not everything benefits from remaining where it is. A lot of that stuff should be thrown away, or removed with a sense of purpose.

As the world alters, inevitably you do with it. It’s apparent those people for whom this is not an option, or who believe that there is nothing to be gained from even trying. They are, inevitably, perfect as they are. I’m really, REALLY glad that will never be an issue I’ll need to struggle with. As a perennial work in progress, may there never be a day when it’s okay to let arrogance supercede a sense of proportion.

There is just so much that needs work and improvement.

Ghosts

Walking to the Gym yesterday, I realise how much better life is now than it has been for some years. Undoubtedly, therapy is the difference between Now and Then, means by which the problems in my world are rationalised. There is also acceptance that how my life runs is so, so much better overall. This year, for instance, I’ve performed poetry live, three times. I’m not filling Wembley Stadium, sure, but that’s a quantum leap forward from last year, giving me something concrete to aim for in 2020.

Success is worth celebrating more than I currently do.

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It’ll be a month tomorrow since I got sick. I’m still coughing, but it’s not life threatening, and if I can say the same come my birthday then we’ll worry. I have a raft of blood tests this week plus a mammogram, then on Wednesday my husband has his scheduled surgery. It’s probably a good sign that there’s already stuff being scheduled as I’ll assume there won’t be time to write until he’s home.

This week is also when I finally get around to doing the shit I’ve put off for weeks: get the car serviced, sort the dentists, attack finances with a pickaxe. Also I’ll start doing twice weekly killer exercise again, whilst doing more in terms of actual relaxation. The next proper break I’ll get will be Half Term. I intend to make the absolute most of every moment I get in the interim, hopefully by the use of judicious planning.

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The key fact that was missing between last month and now was having something to relax with. Now that’s been fixed? Let’s get to it.

Also, need to make some new headers.

Ariel

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Whilst on holiday, we had breakfast in the ‘family pub/restaurant’ next to our budget hotel. The deal was very simple: £X for each person, pick a table, then effectively all you can eat until mealtime was over. This concept is brilliant for large families, and clearly relies on at least some people paying for breakfast via their hotel stay and not taking it. However, this restaurant also allowed anyone not at the Hotel to eat as they wished, and that meant on Monday that there was total and utter chaos for the entire time we were there. An awful lot of people ‘played’ this system, as I watched from our spot next to the food.

I spied one young girl, from the large family who’d walked in and taken over two tables, manage to get four separate serving staff to provide her with the same combination of packet breakfasts and juice boxes, which were all then squirrelled away with efficiency. To the two who were generous and provided double I am impressed, because under those circumstances there is no obligation to offer anything extra at all. From the napkins full of patisserie to the mum telling everyone that they won’t eat again until dinner, everybody had a reason for making the most of what was on offer.

It gave considerable pause for thought.

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Nobody should go without a decent meal, ever. Feeding everyone is a contentious topic in this Western country of ours, and it shouldn’t be, but the fact remains that both adults and kids current go hungry in the UK thanks to the belief that money matters more than humanity. It’s why I’ve felt chastened since Monday, that I can’t change the world, and that I shudder at what other people left uneaten on plates, that portion control is something only a few seem to grasp or adhere to. It has made me determined to think harder about the actual problems the World faces going forward and not bury my head in the sand. Food is a basic right, and yet many people simply don’t consider it as anything other than a consumable.

How this plays out for me is simple: less waste, more thought on choices, less impulse buying. The local supermarket runs a Food bank scheme which I’m going to make sure I contribute to every month. No, I’m hardly going to change the world with my actions but if everybody stopped and thought about the food on their plate, things might. It is tough to change yourself, but this is as important as helping other people or considering positive action to help improve the World around you. It is no different than picking up rubbish or looking out for neighbours.

We should stop assuming that everything is somebody else’s problem and not ours.

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There is a lot to think about going forward, and a belief that if I am truly going to reinvent myself, learning to write better is only part of that equation. It is as much about becoming a more useful member of society than any measure of personal attainment.

The future should not be me, but us.

New Life

I tell my kids, quite a lot, that until they’re both 18 I get the rap if they screw up. The truth of course is that that’s not 100% accurate, but close enough if I can’t get them out of bed to attend full-time education, or they wanna bring the sass when I need them co-operating. Choice is a Harsh Mistress [TM] and yeah, absolutely a woman. Male choice is black or white, DUH, and we get all the shades of grey, and there are considerably more than 50 of those fuckers. A lot of people I come into contact to seem to think that, as a result of the events of the last 6-8 months, that their choice is no longer their own to dictate. Newsflash, Kids: it never was yours to begin with. You can never have everything your way, however hard you try. You could have all the money in the world, the most desirable person on the planet on your arm, but there’s always a But. The Orange Man is learning this lesson, whilst at the same time trying to deflect interest away from the fact he’s been a twat for decades, and now EVERYBODY is suddenly all over his business.

If you want true control of your life, stop interacting with EVERYBODY else.

There is a PHENOMENAL amount of stupid about, ALL THE TIME. The current climate has not suddenly created all this, it existed long before the US Elections, years before Brexit. All these people telling you how fascism is suddenly everywhere and the press can’t call people Nazis even when they obviously are is as much of a deflection of reality as that bloke getting schooled in a Theatre or those Arctic Ice values. The reality is this moment, that second, and then the next one, and the moment you find yourself within. You cannot control anything, at all, except probably a 10 foot circle around you. That is where your only real notion of control exists, and as more people register this and unfriend everyone on Facebook, this makes a bad situation worse. Shutting down isn’t how this gets fixed. However, the truth remains that this is the only way you will remain on top.

Knowing this, it is time to be tough over just about everything.

Balance is never easy, but right now it is something that more people could do with considering. Yes, you can curate your timelines, nobody is telling you to listen to hatred. What you have to balance that with is the understanding that if you shut out everything negative, you won’t get an accurate picture of reality. Yes, you’re completely within your rights to pretend that half of your country does not exist, but by doing so you will eventually become the exact thing you have sworn to hate. Intolerance does not have an affiliation, or a colour. It is everywhere, if you allow it a foothold, and thinking you are somehow beyond all this? You’re really utterly not.

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From the Independent Online

The reality of this existence, right now, is that everyone is narrating your timeline. EVERYBODY suddenly has a relevant, significant voice, more so than at any point in the last decade. It does not matter these people may be unreliable, if enough of them get together you’re fucked or saved, often simultaneously. Yes, the Republicans are secretly celebrating you’re all up in arms over that thing in the Theatre because then nobody notices the Orange Man paid out 25 MILLION DOLLAR to sweep a problem under a rug which is gonna have quite a lump under it, even before the year is out. For every panicky, OMG THIS IS BAD message being broadcast there’s a billion other people not giving a fuck coz they’re tweeting in a language your phone keyboard won’t support without a reboot. It is not just your Planet, until it’s beyond fucked, and then everybody will look for someone else to blame except themselves. Yup, this is gonna be hard times ahead. You can cope. You just need to remember that you can make a difference.

Yeah, little old you.

Before you RT stuff, check validity for yourself. Make an effort to read something other than the same newspaper every day. Expand your mind by occasionally letting people you disagree with argue around you. Work out what you think is right and wrong and then amend that every day you wake up. Don’t stay stuck in the same mindset, even if that’s the only way you’re surviving, because in the end you will simply become a version of the thing you already detest. YES THERE ARE BAD THINGS HERE. Nobody is trying to claim otherwise. What you need to take from all of this is that the truth is never just what you think it is. There’s always a basement door, a jail cell or an escape route with guns blazing. Some days, hiding is an an answer, but it’s not going to help in the long term. Trust someone who did that for years, and now grasps that however much you’d like someone else to help, the only person who solves your problems is you.

Do what you need to survive, and if you can help yourself in the process? So much the better.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Welcome to February 29th, a day that only exists once every four years.

There is something magical about an experience that only comes around once in a while, it occurs to me. I woke up full of determination to make this as productive a time as possible, so I can say the extra 24 hours I was gifted is as properly utilised as I can manage. Mostly, people will be doing another Monday, but I love the idea of this having an extra relevance. The start of this week is somehow less traumatic, more exciting as a result, and it occurs to me that perception really does matter in the general scheme of things. HOW you see is almost as important as what is there to observe.

Having come to some quite revelatory conclusions about my own mind in the last week, I’m also starting today in a deliberately relocated head-space. Now I realise that there are those literally desperate to deflect me from my path, it is time to make sure I’m focussing in the right places. Despite numerous assertions to the contrary, some are literally so desperate to attract attention they will indeed do anything for that vital moment in your gaze. Once you understand that you’re not actually the problem? Everything else becomes a heck of a lot easier to rationalise. That means today I write, I Gym and then I write some more, but all of this in the knowledge that I’m making genuine and sustained progress, and most definitely not going backwards.

Make you extra day count, people, because you have no idea where you’ll be in another four years, and as a result you should have something to show for that which actually matters.