Friends will be Friends

We present as part of Time To Talk’s national day of discussion about mental health (Feb 7th) a week’s worth of posts about how this 52 year old finally made a difference and started listening to herself and others, before determining to improve life for the better…

These views are mine alone, and absolutely 100% do not mesh with anybody else’s opinion on anything. WELCOME TO HOW BLOGS WORK.


Day 6:
Learning to listen is important.

Advice

If you are lucky enough in life to achieve your dreams, however small or large they may be, a moment will undoubtedly occur where someone will present you with the means to help you enjoy that experience more. Normally, these people are the individuals who have already experiences a portion of those dreams, and are now off pursuing other aspirations a little way up the corporate ladder of achievement. I was given a massive piece of advice at my reading last night: it’s the outward breath that matters. Just like exercise, learning to control that  is a big deal. This nugget will go with me for the rest of my life.

My best mate told me how to not freak over people in the room with me. My husband just reminded to be myself, and was incredibly supportive of the journey. All of this advice is offered without prejudice, and is so immensely useful for someone who is only now learning how to interact correctly with the world. That’s why, over the next few weeks, I’ll be stripping out people who don’t seem to care about the stuff I do, and in some cases, are only interested in the sound of their own voice.

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Friendship needs to be a reciprocal process for it to work properly. That means, when  this is done, I gotta write some thank you letters to those who have been hugely helpful in getting me to this point. Their support and understanding is as much the reason that this all works, to be honest. Remembering that is a really significant part of a process that is increasingly lost via the Internet. Real friends do exist out here, of course, and anybody who tells you otherwise is an all out liar.

Also, I can see you people pretending you’re doing that, when you’re so totally not.

Throw It Away

Last night, the last of my daughter’s old stuff was summarily ejected from her room, and we entered a significant phase in domestic harmony. This afternoon, I am able to write whilst she and Dad attack the house with a new sense of significance. Minimalism is not a lifestyle I know a lot of people either ascribe to or embrace, but it matters to me as an environmentalist. Trying to get more stuff in the house recycled has been a point of contention for years, and now this is being extended to include personal possessions. It began on Friday when we rationalised the contents of our kitchen cupboards, and (I hope) will now spread across not simply existing possessions but those purchased in the future.

Finally, an awareness of environment is becoming apparent.

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Eventually, persistence will pay off. It can be hard work, and often quite emotionally draining, but convincing others that your ideas have value is worth the trouble. It means there’s more space in the house and things will be easier to keep clean. It will allow for a larger understanding of how my children will have to live in an adult word which is a long way away from the same place I inhabited. Mostly, life should not be about things, but moments, stuff that will never be bought and cannot have a monetary value placed upon it.

Let’s see if other stuff changes as a result.

You’re Not Alone

Once upon a time, I would have sat and felt sorry for myself today. There would have been moping about, and sad moments, with wistful stares and quite possibly tears. However, I’m not the person I used to be. Last night there was a forceful moment of revelation: other people do not dictate your happiness anymore. If I am to truly evolve out of my old state and into the person I truly wish to become, there is a part of my life holding things back, which has done for far too long.

This morning, therefore, I took a walk into the unknown.

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The initial signs are encouraging, but I am aware of not getting my hopes up too high. However, the fact remains that I’ll never affect long-term, significant change in any aspect of my life without some pain and effort. Therefore, if it matters enough, it is time to start altering those portions of existence I am not happy with. After a month of my own content being very well received, it is time to put my social needs back into some kind of order.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Royals

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There’s an inspirational image out there somewhere if I could be bothered to look for it, that would state something like the following: Don’t worry about the haters. Just be you. That’s what I’m doing right now. Just being me.

Amazingly, this shit appears to work.

There is a fuck of a lot of stabilising going on, I should add at this point. I may look elegant and swan-like on the surface, but if you stare beneath the waterline? ALL THE PADDLING. However, I am quietly beginning to grasp that the less I worry, the more stuff coalesces. Finding new things to talk about has certainly helped, and keeping a focus on my novel is really beginning to bear fruit.

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Also, taking the piss out of myself is becoming increasingly less stressful. Yes, you cannot take any of this too seriously. I’ve seen what happens when you do that, and we’re not turning the bus back that way anytime soon. Therefore, genuine laughter has happened at several points this week. I’m still struggling a bit with decent sleep, but the trend is undoubtedly upwards, and yesterday evening’s message most definitely helped, even if I’m a little sore this morning. The bits all end up as part of my whole. I’d forgotten that: not just the sleep, or the training, or the banter or the words. ALL OF IT TOGETHER.

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Strap in, lovelies. Shit’s beginning to get REALLY interesting.

The Message

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Right then, Universe, you and I need to have a chat.

I entirely grasp that being a selfish, arrogant fucktrumpet is a bad thing. There is no issue understanding that you need to be accommodating and empathetic when engaging in Social media discourse. However, sometimes it needs to be stated, for the record, that you people don’t get the whole irony/sarcasm thing. It has happened a lot of late, and therefore probably requires a measure of explanation.


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happens a lot more than was ever the case before the Orange Twat became President or my country decided to fuck itself over Europe… or in many people’s minds, far less than makes them either feel comfortable or safe. The whole irony/sarcasm threshold as humour ‘thing’ has become almost impossible to use safely of late because somebody is inevitably going to take offence. Let’s face facts, you don’t need an excuse to explode at someone else right now, and there are people out there actively looking for reasons to do just that.

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In one part of my online existence, I’ve made the conscious decision to just take away the possibility of Drama to begin with, especially when it is becoming apparent that some people enjoy fucking with your brain for entertainment. Gaming is full of people whose sole task appears to be the organisation of their life in order to wind other people up in theirs. I suppose, on reflection, this is no different than pranking a work colleague and then laughing, before the reminder ‘well I found this funny, what’s your problem?’ The key advantage of doing this online is that you can laugh as much as you like afterwards, safe in the knowledge that no-one will notice.

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Except, after a while, laughing just with yourself stops being enough, and you have to make a larger point, and lo the subtweet was born. This is not revolution, but a way for stupid people to make everybody else think you’re talking about them and instil a sense of guilt and shame to individual actions. These things float so close to the irony/sarcasm border as to be an instant provocation to a) anyone with even a scintilla of a guilty conscience and b) anybody who’s looking for a fight at that moment. However, you can tell more about a person by their subtweets than is ever possible (sometimes) from months of interaction. If you pay attention, it is amazing what gets revealed… and yes, I’d absolutely count myself in that number. That’s why subtweeting has become a thing of the past.

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Blogging is now my tool of revolution. If you can be bothered to read, all you need to know is here, sometimes wrapped up with the bare minimum of effort. There doesn’t need to be hand-wringing and wailing via Twitter: if I want to change the world, this is the best place to begin. If you refuse to provide the fuel for roasting and instead produce fireproof arguments, then everybody wins. I become a better writer plus the people who choose to follow me on Social media get 100% less Drama per day. In a world where there is quite enough of that, to begin with, I should definitely not be adding any more.

Words matter, and should be chosen with care.

Nothing

There has never been a better time to have an opinion than RIGHT NOW. Social media allows everybody the opportunity to not only hold a point of view but be able to express it, regardless of any ability to do so either well or politely. Once upon a time, if you disagreed with a review of a play or film, the only means to ensure that the writer was aware was a green pen and some A4 lined paper (if you were a certain type of complainant) or Basildon Bond and a fountain pen, at the other end of my cliched, stereotypical scale (for effect only.) Now, if you don’t like what’s been said, it is simply one click to make sure that your opinion is registered. If you’re lucky and that burst of righteous fervour catches the right wave of popular algorithmic indignation, you’ll be viral just before tea.

A lot has changed in a very short space of time, and language is struggling to keep pace with this evolution.

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It is apparent that the issues in most of these short lived, inflammatory discussions is how one person uses language and how that is subsequently interpreted by others. I am reminded of a fervent debate over quest text in my favourite MMO as a perfect example: one person saw casual racism, whilst I understood a historical reference that was based in definition from hundreds of years previously with no relevance to an insult. Then there was that time where I used the word ‘inclusion’ to someone who decided I meant their grasp of a related concept and not the strict dictionary definition… and the list goes on. It is one of the main reasons why the Internet of Words was born as a concept, that how we use language online is often vastly different to the manner in which we both communicate and exist in the Real World. When all you had before was paper and a pen, you had to make every word matter, and interpretation was perhaps even more of an issue.

Now you can delete your words, except the smart Internet users will happily inform you that never happens. This place remembers everything. If you don’t want your awful tirade to be remembered, never type it to begin with. In twenty years, a huge swathe of early internet content might have supposedly been lost to time, but you’ll be amazed what remains, or what others will keep ‘just in case.’ Then there’s the increasing trade in image manipulation, how a basic understanding of how webpage markup can be accessed and then altered can make it look like the President actually said that. The bigger irony, of course, is that certain people’s comments remain ridiculous and hugely ill-conceived regardless of the ability to paint them otherwise.

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There is a wonderfully simple answer to all of this, why suddenly the opportunity to have more than five seconds of fame matters so much to so many. The Internet is not a place to game or play, is so large as to make it virtually impossible to control outright. Many companies may like to think they can do just that, but the sheer nature of this beast means that anyone still can be the hero, or the overnight sensation. There is a chance for everybody, regardless of their sex, race or anything else to become the Next Big Thing. If you are to be remembered on your brief and often painful stay upon the Planet, this is as good a place as any to start. However, there’s no guarantee that it will work but at least while you are alive you’ll be known as the person who topped 10 million subs of You Tube or who condemned civilisation to robot servitude in the 22nd Century as the inventor of Facebook.

Mostly, you’re here for the validation. I totally understand that feeling.

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I have written my fair share of complaint blogs in my time, and I stand by pretty much every one of them. At that moment my indignation was enough to temper a response I wouldn’t have written if it didn’t matter. That’s my mantra for all of these things: if it’s important enough to spend time on a blog, then press send. There is an important caveat now to those rants, and that is if I cross a line drawn only recently, as a result of my adventures on Social media. I’ve learnt the important lesson of personal involvement only too well. You can never plan for the stalker, anybody has the potential to become that obsessive individual, but there are certainly means by which you can a) not make things worse or b) inflame already confrontational situations. Very rarely now will I get into discussions with total strangers on contentious subjects. Far easier to write a blog post on the subject and stay friends with everybody, than risk losing someone over a difference of opinion.

This is where people end up mattering more than principles.

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I need my opinions heard because it is the way I can judge whether what I think is worthwhile. I’m not here to be right, or to win. I’ll leave that to other people to control and dictate. For now, I’ll simply continue to say what I feel, without attempting to antagonise too many people, and see what happens. For the record, my complaint letter would have been created using a typewriter. I would have handwritten it several times first, then redrafted until I was happy, before the blue A4 paper would ever have been stuck in the machine. Because I wasn’t using white paper, correction fluid would have been a safety net I didn’t have. It would have taken HOURS, a letter at a time.

That’s probably why it’s taken me so long to find a public voice.

Simple Things

As today we start a new month and wonder where February went, it is time to make some proper steps forward. I have my writing plans well under control, and yesterday my mate @Broximar pointed me at something he was planning to do for March that immediately made me want to join in with. It is neither gimmicky or pointless either, in fact it is anything but. That means, of today, I’m beginning Spring Cleaning early with the 30 Day Minimalism Game.

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Broximar clued me into The Minimalists, and they do exactly what they say in their bio: live life with less. Whereas I appear to live with three quite keen consumerists in this house, I want for very little in terms of material gain as I move on in life. There’s nothing I obsess over in Wishlists, I’m not staring lovingly at domestic items to make my life better. If I’m honest, there’s some music I’d like and a few t-shirts for my collection but after that? I’m happy to do the business of de-cluttering without issue. So, starting today, here’s how things go, as described by the boys themselves:

This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. Whatever you do, each material possession must be out of your house—and out of your life—by midnight each day.

My first item out of the door is a real no-brainer, but the Instagram doesn’t really explain why.

I’ve removed large parts of my past from mental memory, but physical remnants are still here, and this ring is one of them. As I type this it is trashed, removed and with it comes an optimism for beginning the house Spring Clean for the year. I took the liberty whilst I was at it of sorting everything out in my jewellery boxes, one of which hasn’t been touched for several years, but contains items which have a sentimental value that remain irreplaceable. For everything else, however, there is a new sense of determination that means that I am focused on recycling, reclaiming and reusing as much as I can whilst at the same time making space: not to fill with new stuff, but to simply reduce my footprint.

I’ll do a daily Instagram of my progress, but you can expect some rumination here, especially as the daffodils are out on the School Run.

Spring is in the air, and it is time to get busy with regeneration.