Utopia

This is how the game works.

Carrying on as normal is not possible with many things. However, for me at home, the routine is what defines a very fine line between coping and floundering. Therefore, as a result, today, and every one thereafter until we are out of this nightmare, has a structure. Other people can drink wine and eat biscuits. That part of coping mechanisms is well covered. I’m here to write, exercise and ensure the house runs like a military operation.

These are my tasks, and I will do them well.

That means not just an exercise plan , but not letting chores pile up. It means clearing space, removing things that absolutely do not spark joy, cleaning, reorganising for better efficiency… the list is endless. Boredom is never gonna happen, especially with the knowledge of how much I’ve not read, watched or indeed listened too over the last decade. That doesn’t include gaming either… don’t get me started.

Priority has to go to the stuff that’s sat, conspicuously avoided for the longest time, which means rewiring the house ethernet, clearing out kitchen cupboards, properly rationalising my own working space, keeping up to date with house filing and being properly brutal with the clothes upstairs. They’re all written down now, I can’t avoid them. It all has to happen under the auspice of Spring Cleaning.

That means, after this and a couple of hours work, I pretend I’m going to the gym and have a pretend PT. After that there’s some lunch, then all the planners get torn down and April’s finally put in place. Once all that is sorted, it all just gets done, and I go for a cycle ride, and then probably spend the evening throwing out old pots and pans. It doesn’t have to be reinventing fiction or becoming an overnight expert at summat.

In the beginning, routine is enough, and hopefully with enough time and space a brain in total crisis will finally, blissfully unwind. That’s how it has always worked in the past and I can but hope this is the way forward. All that there is is what is known, until the change process moves out of chaos and finds a transforming idea with which to work from. Its around here somewhere. Hard work will help it appear.

This is the path that must be trodden.

Yesterday’s Men

I was rejected yesterday, twice. Normally, this would have been the cause of much angst and hand-wringing: now there’s simply not enough time to stress about it. I’ve got fingers in so many places that being told I’m not good enough for awards/prizes I could have told you is true is far less of an issue than it ever was previously. I’m never gonna have a fair swing at at least one of these things until there’s a far bigger CV to waft, for starters.

Realism’s a great leveller, when you’re on the right side of it. By that, I mean you can get upset when work is rejected, of course you can, but knowing what you’re currently producing is not consistently good enough to stand beside your peers… Looking back on one group of poems, written back in August, it really is a bit of a wake-up call. So much has changed, for the better, in just over six months.

That thing about practice? It’s so utterly, honestly truthful.

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There’s therefore six poems, sitting to my left, asking to be repurposed elsewhere. I have a whole pile of early poetry to print out this morning, all of which is going to get reworked in April. There’s a lot to be said for having a well-organised collection, and with one of the two days this week I get to work in the Arts Collective in Southend, I will be systematically trawling through my stuff to see what can be recycled going forward.

The other day is the first proper re-write of a series of poems that are incredibly dear to my heart, and which will form the basis of my first self-published work this year. I’ve already scoped out a path with which to produce these, now it’s about getting the work to a stage that I’m happy with. They will be sold in association with Patreon, via the medium of Gumroad. 

I’m already looking forward to the process.

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After that, there’s the redesign to work on, of which more shortly on the writing blog. For now, however, I have two days in Leeds to look forward to, a number of new and interesting places to go take photographs in, and a kids’ 15th Birthday to plan for. It’s all go here, and I’m having to do it all whilst struggling to be able to type properly. All that exercise yesterday has made me ache, rather a lot…

I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Order from Chaos

I went to be last night exhausted. There’s been no exercise as an excuse, either: all the stress was mental. This has been a really important week for progress, but more significantly there has been opportunities to utilise skills in new and interesting ways. Then, a career path has been reinvented in just under a week. Old places are being repurposed, new ideas presented. I really need to do some graphics.

In fact, let me get all this done and we’ll talk properly tomorrow.

Everyone’s a Winner

Sunday. Ah yes, time for getting next week ready and if that’s done well enough, maybe there’ll be a moment left over to fuck about with something for myself. Next year WILL BE THE ONE where I start doing art and shit for relaxation: having accepted my drawing is restricted to high-quality doodling and not much else, alternatives have been sought. There is an answer. I’ll be gathering materials starting next month.

That bookbinding box of materials will be pulled out over the Christmas break.

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I’ve actually cut back on exercise this month from last: Exercising four days with three days off is beginning to allow more writing time. During the winter months this is not likely to change, but I could certainly shove some more walking into the equation going forward. As the days get warmer next year, I might also drive daughter to school, leave the car parked close and abandon it some days to get extra steps in.

This was part of my fitness plan when I first picked a PT: run the youngest in, find a car park close to the school, pay for a day’s parking and then walk home. That, plus the walk back to pick up the car was a guaranteed six miles every day. The photographer in me could make a lot of use of that time to boot, there’s so much in my town worth preserving for posterity. Perhaps, if the weather’s good starting in the New Year… ^^

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Saturdays will become the rest day in the New Year too, because I’ll be doing my Mental Health Champion training on those days in January, and therefore need to be free. I can also guarantee that there’ll be little or no desire to do anything else after these sessions are done: I was mentally exhausted after the introductory one. There’s some other exercise-related things I gotta sort out as well… all this to look forward to.

Planning is becoming one of my favourite tasks.

Flawless

Before I went to bed last night, tea cups were put out for the morning, bags already inside: chai for youngest, breakfast blend for me. A protein shake got made and refrigerated. These are simple tasks that, for the last month, weren’t doable. Not enough space in my brain existed in order to plan that far ahead. Finally, order is returning from chaos.

There’s a lot of anger to deal with currently. Most of it is out of my hands, which makes rationalising situations occasionally problematic. Being the sole parent at home is the hardest thing for so many reasons. I miss my husband terribly. However, he is undoubtedly ill enough to be in the best place for him physically: mentally, however, there is a creeping doubt this is doing more harm than good.

I can only support him and hope there’s some comfort with each passing today.

The fallout from this month will continue to be felt for some time. Right now, it’s time to attempt to inject normality into existence as far as possible. That means a gym trip shortly, and a new exercise class this evening. Better eating, more sleep and less stress is the long-term goal, all three of which are very much dependant on personal circumstances.

After that, it’s time to fix my formal writing.

A Whole New World

I put a lot of stock on my fitness devices and the result they provide, but today’s post is a reminder that sometimes, numbers are not the whole story:

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59% effort looks, on reflection, like I didn’t try. In this case, nothing is further from the truth. What those numbers don’t show is how long I was able to hang without arms dying, after two days of Blaze that took a lot out of them. It doesn’t consider the 25 40kg bench presses done with little to no recovery time, or the 16kg weights held when doing step ups.

What yesterday showed me is significant enough that I need to write it down:

  • My initial first burst of exercise is tough, and will leave me breathless. Once I’m over that hump, it becomes increasingly easy to manage breathing and push harder. I know this now from an absolute boatload of historical evidence. Management is the key.
  • Overthinking is inhibiting my ability to push further. There needs to be considerably less worrying about how hard shit is, and just focus on ignoring that voice that constantly suggests I should temper effort. Learning how to listen to my body is one of those skills that requires most work.
  • I am way too hard on myself. This is massive. I’m strong, and able. Technique is solid. What is required is speed, and that will only come via practice, so that is what needs to happen going forward. Less fear in being capable will then allow for increasing confidence elsewhere. Honestly is winning the day.
  • I possess so much potential to improve. There was a minor epiphany this week: the people who work hard, and practice their moves, get so much more overall out of their experience. They are the ones for whom progress really means that. All the hard work that’s being put in isn’t just about conditioning and weight loss, it involves learning how to exercise more effectively. My brain is missing out on a load of developmental activity, and that needs to change.

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These are extremely interesting times for my body. Once upon a time, half of what I’m doing seemed virtually impossible, but is now conducted with a measure of ease. Moving forward, it is time to make giving blood every sixteen weeks a bit less of a trauma, to keep building stamina and good technique, and to deal with the continuing psychological fallout when I fail to keep going at a level that feels acceptable.

However, today I’m having a rest from lifting and only doing a bit of cycling…

Bang Bang :: Day 1

I slept. It wasn’t great, but with arm on a pillow, it was doable. I was up at 6.30 and everybody made it out, and after that, there were two hours extra kip. I’m taking paracetamol, nothing stronger. There’s a bag of frozen onions doing sterling work as an icepack in 30-minute bursts, and the swelling is going down. The biggest problem right now is wrists and thumbs.

So much of life is around digit and wrist mobility: opening and closing stuff, gathering up my hair, putting on clothes. This next week will be an education and is gonna end up in a fiction at some point, because all of this is good practical research. Now all I need is actual movement back, and we’re golden. Even without the painkillers, it’s less stressful than yesterday.

Let’s hope everything keeps improving.