Rise Up

So yeah, hi there, I’m back. I never really went away, when all is said and done, but there was some time spent not engaging brain cells. There have also been some quite important and significant changes to how everything is organised around these parts. You won’t see any of it, but the hope is that it will improve the flow of work long-term. You can also expect to see far more pictures than was previously the case, and a return to some old favourites.

Mostly, getting life organised better is the key.

It helps a great deal that the weather’s been brilliant and my chest issues have now virtually vanished. There are still restrictions on my arm, but they will improve as I’m able to exercise more and put the body back to proper use. There’s no point complaining, it just needs effort and application.

Time to get back to work.

Closing Time

A lot of unrelated stuff is percolating through my brain this weekend, except there’s a realisation that surprising amounts of my existence are more interconnected than at first grasped. It also helps that last night I got on the bike for the first time in about a fortnight with anything approaching determination. The results were a genuine surprise.

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My FTP should be up soon if these numbers are any indicator, plus the fact a Sprint Jersey was earnt without really breaking a sweat… this illness hasn’t put me back. The arm, I’ll grant you, is still a bit stiff, and takes a while to wake up in the morning, but as long as it continues to get exercised and there’s no let up on the push forward? It won’t matter. I’m already stronger as a result of all this, that much is abundantly obvious. More crucially, tired is a state that’s being reached for the first time in a while. There’s been no lying awake unable to sleep for a while, and long may this continue.

Sunday will be gardening, buying plants for the newly-created bed, learning how to mow a lawn (don’t know how to do this so it seems a good time to start) and quite possibly painting the fence I’d planned to do a month ago. At the heart of it all is thought about how everything has changed in the last couple of weeks because it has. A sliver of fear, which held apart vital components which needed to fuse, melted away last Sunday. Forced to be on my own, there was no choice but to embrace the inevitable. Having done so, the only way is forward.

The journey ahead looks particularly exciting.

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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.

Walk this Way

Yesterday, I rode 50k before lunchtime.

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That’s 31 miles for the metrically challenged in the room, and amazingly easy on reflection. I had so much left in the tank I went and crushed the step goal in the afternoon, and this has pushed me to try and keep 12k minimum for the rest of the week. I have a choice of walking to the Gym in the rain or going an hour early and doing it on a treadmill. I suspect the latter is going to win, just because getting wet is not that attractive when the temperature is just above freezing.

This week is two PT sessions too, and a focus on HEAVY LIFTING which should be easier as I’m having my left elbow worked on in tandem. My health issues are now down to a couple of minor niggles, and I’m determined to keep on top of body maintenance. However, not gonna lie, 50k was tough. I can feel it in my legs today (my arse hates me) and this week there’s gonna be a bit of hill work in my normal run of easy flat roads. At some point, those muscles need some heavy work. It may as well be sooner than later.

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Today’s all about sorting out everything else so I have more time to cycle, edit the novel and play video games. By lunchtime, all the scheduled content for the week should be ready to go regardless, which is a definite improvement on previous weeks.

Is this what grown-up feels like?

Games People Play

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Occasionally, there are days (like yesterday) when you have to accept loss. Like it or not, everybody screws up. Sitting crying in the Gym car park helps nobody: sure, it makes you feel better, but a logical mind can grasp that if you’re the one at least in part who started the fight, then you have a responsibility for the argument. As long as the days going backwards don’t exceed your forward momentum, everything is golden. That’s why I’m here to remind myself this morning, ahead of all the other stuff that has to happen, that how I conduct relationships is really important. This week, therefore, has been significant in terms of how that takes place online.

Everything I ever needed to know about life I learnt from James Bond.

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Okay, hang on a minute there Bald Eagle, how does the sexist, misogynist 007 start handing me life lessons, exactly? Well, quite apart from ensuring I don’t end up living my life in the manner of a Bond movie (with the inevitable big red reset button at the end) I find myself thinking about what James is good at, and how (amazingly) that provides lessons for me. He’s the best poker player in the British Secret Service, for starters, and that’s because he never plays his own hand, but always that of the person opposite. He’s also taught me how to deal with being poisoned and betrayed, but that’s not important right now. Let’s apply the Poker metaphor in a slightly different fashion, shall we?

When you move into new online relationships, the temptation is often to go overboard in explaining yourself: motivation, ideas, goals… all this in the first flush of ‘getting to know each other.’ I realised this week that this is not the most sensible approach, because it can often isolate people who are not easily comfortable with coming forward or opening up to strangers. It can make you look pushy and domineering. What I ought to be doing is letting the other person come forward first. In effect, I have to become them. Instead of playing my own ‘hand’, if I play the person’s I’m speaking to and effectively imagine what it must be like to be them, there’s a chance of better understanding and empathy from the word go.

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This has worked at least once in practice since the revelation hit, and going forward seems like a really logical means of finding a middle ground with relative strangers. When someone asks you how you are, don’t spend 15 minutes explaining the details. Summarise quickly, effectively and then ask about them. This is probably common sense to large proportions of the rest of the world, I realise, but I’m coming to the world of interpersonal relationships with strangers quite late in the game. If nobody bothers to take the time to explain this shit to you and you have to work it out on your own… well, here’s how it pans out.

Start new relationships by looking at other people first and not yourself.

It is a fine line we all tread in the modern World when it comes to interactions, especially when kids are being taught social niceties via YouTube. I realise now that it is all well and good to believe you have all the tools required to be a decent human being, but that is never always the truth. Every part of your personality needs constant reassessment and balance: you don’t have to do it daily, not even weekly, but every so often sitting down and asking yourself ‘am I doing enough?’ should be a prerequisite for every human being. My son might laugh at my attempts to reduce food waste in the house and increase recycling, because he can see no discernable change in the issues via a wider stage. However, if everybody does these things, the World can and will change. Believing you have no direct influence on the environment around you is a lie.

If you desire change enough, you can and will make it happen.

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My daughter will tell me that she hates my inspirational speeches, but I won’t stop giving them, because if even a scintilla of that belief gets through to her, it is progress. Nobody bothered with me, arrogance assuming that I’d just work it out for myself. Well, I didn’t, and after decades of nobody pointing this out finally, blissfully, people did. Only when other people cared enough to break the shell of my own ignorance, unwillingness and despair was I able to move forward. I entirely understand how horrendous and soul destroying depression remains, but in my case at least, it is my task to deal with and nobody else’s problem but mine. Learning to ask for help was the hardest thing of all, and it still is. However, now I get the formula that works. There’s understanding of what needs to be done. I stopped playing my own hand, and looked outside myself to move forward.

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Plus, any excuse for a bunch of Bond .GIFs is never a bad thing. Next time you start a conversation with a stranger? Ask them how they are, and be prepared to listen.

Learn about yourself by listening to others.

Magic Bus

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For the second day in a row, I’ve hit my step goal before lunchtime. There wasn’t a plan to do this per se, just the way by which life has worked out since the end of the Weekend. There’s a lot of real life going on right now too, because I’ve gotten to the point where self care needs to be more important than putting stuff off. That means hand cream, and teeth X Rays and eye tests in the next two weeks. It also means pushing myself in ways I’d not thought about for a while: an hour on the treadmill this morning was incredibly hard post Monday’s absolutely knackering PT, but I won. It all happened.

Inside, it is as if I have become someone new.

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I’ve been deeply affected by reading Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy… well, I’ve only just finished Book Two but honestly, mind is unbelievably blown. I love it when I end up with more questions than answers in fiction, and need to read the first two books again to make sure I know what really went on. As a result of this mental stimulation there have been some amazing dreams over the last few days, which have had some unexpected physical hangovers to reality. Considering I’m working on six hours sleep today brain should be dead, and yet I feel incredibly alive.

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Yesterday was hugely productive too: if I can knock off the four things on the To Do List today in good time I’ll be beyond pleased. I also treated myself to something at lunch I would not have dared eaten previously pre-gallbladder removal. If it sits happily in my digestive system, I’m taking this as a sign that I can eat a bit more than was previously the case (and off limits.)

Right then, lets go get all this other stuff knocked off so I can spend the evening dicking about online.

Underneath it All

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You cannot choose the people you inspire, or that will like you and most crucially of all, however hard you try, some people will never be your friends. I’ve learnt this lesson the hard way over the years: there’ll always be someone who you think you’d like to get to know better and then something will happen to ensure that never comes to pass. The last situation in which this transpired came back to haunt me at the weekend, a mutual tweeting someone who I reached out to but… on reflection, it wouldn’t have worked. They wouldn’t have been the problem, either. I would have ruined it.

The people that have helped chart the course over the last few years have been getting thank you’s this month (as I mentioned back at the start of November) and with the last four this week comes to pass an event that has made a lot of sense in the wider scope of what I’d like to happen going forward. You can give blanket thanks to people on Social media all day and night, knowing that many users simply read what they need or want into situations regardless of your desirers. Naming names is the way people understand how much they matter to you, pure and simple.

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Sometimes, people get disappointed. They put a lot more emphasis on you than is the case the other way. When I do a cursory account check of new people to follow, it is always with half an eye on who else they consider interesting. It means if you’re reading this and your Twitter friends list is full of female ‘online personalities’ and porn robots, I’m fairly confident we won’t have a lot in common. I’m pushing more and more for those people who understand that participation isn’t just complaining online about how unfair life is, those willing and prepared to give back more than they take out. Thinking needs to be the default these days, however tough that might be on a daily basis. That means not only considering what you say, but more crucially what you don’t.

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Having survived the early stage of Patreon, it is time to start raising the bar. Persuading people to give you money (especially in this day and age) is a tough ask. I have big plans starting this week, and need to get more people on board, who are prepared to take a chance on me and what I believe in. We don’t need to be friends for this to happen, either. However, that might happen, or it might not… a lot of it isn’t up to me to begin with. Life isn’t a predictable set of occurrences. If we get lucky, then so be it.

Sometimes, just inspiring people to be better is enough.