Sunrise

It occurred to me, driving back from dropping off my daughter at her first day of ‘Big’ School, there’s potentially seven years of this ahead of me. There’s not an ounce of concern or resentment in my body: I’ll run her anywhere, as I would her brother, and the time it takes will enrich my life going forward. There’s never any thought that the time spent with them isn’t anything other than precious and worth remembering. It makes me realise that although I’ve not wasted a lot of time in the last decade pursuing goals that ended up as being fruitless, there have been moments when I could have picked my directions better. However, the last year has more than made up for my previous shortcomings. I can comfortably attest that my body’s being well taken care of.

Now all I need to work on is my soul.

28883877352_2b0633bf7c_o.jpg

New York will go a long way towards assuaging that issue, and should last for some time to come. It wasn’t just the notion of being in a place that I loved, but it had a lot to do with being able to deal with everything truly on my own terms. I am extremely lucky in my current situation, a fact I make sure to remind myself of every single day. This is a finite resource as well, that is all too apparent, and once it is gone, there will be no time like it again. Bearing that in mind, the choices I make in the next few months going forward will be significant, and I need to ensure that the direction I’m travelling is no longer littered with good intentions that aren’t acted on. That’s why I have plans in place for the next six weeks or so, none of which will include anything that’s hugely impractical. Even starting the running challenge yesterday was done slowly and in pieces. There’s no point in breaking myself at the start and then putting everything back weeks or months.

header34.png

There’s an awful lot to think about in the weeks going forward. The priority now is to make sure I’m using my time productively and not simply procrastination, which is often my default. That means a lot of words too, if I can get my brain around everything that needs saying. I also suspect it will involve some visits back to my past, if only to try and work out what parts of those experiences I’d like to bring with me. I’d also like to be able to eat without worrying so much, and to make that happen it might be time to bite the bullet and start cooking more from scratch and less from a packet. For now however, I’m counting the time before I have to go get the youngest from school, so I can work out relative journey times. I’ve already found my Car Park for Tuesday’s ‘Walk to and from School’ project, which I’m already looking forward to. I’ve go a plan for what’s the best route, a shopping stop along the way for Breakfast, and a reward when I’ve done both directions. I’m very much already anticipating completing this, and taking pictures as I go.

How things have changed in a year.

 

In Dreams

Yesterday, I had my first sports massage for about three weeks. My back and shoulders were a mess after two flights and ten days in a hard, uncomfortable bed. My masseuse, who is tiny and stunning, is a veritable miracle worker and as thanks for her efforts pre-holiday I bought her a gift back from the US. I wasn’t expecting the reaction it got, that she was genuinely pleased and hugged me with an enthusiasm that was a surprise. The woman then proceeded to do absolute wonders and I walked out feeling about half a stone lighter, after which I slept uninterrupted for eight hours. It’s odd, the notion of reward versus effort, that sometimes the smallest thing can mean the most to someone unexpected.

It was the same when my trainer saw me on Monday and remarked how much thinner I looked. My husband made the comment that maybe she has a vested interest in keeping me ‘sweet’ and might be over-inflating my progress, but I know this is not the case. I have made decent progress, areas of fat are beginning to shrink, and cellulite/stretch marks are becoming far less pronounced than they ever were. I’m not too fussed about the details of the physical change, and once I get to target weight I’ll worry about aesthetics.I understand how things have improved, and that the areas I want to shrink fastest will probably be the last places to go. I’m also aware of just how hard I’m working.

blowshitup.gif

Being told I’m doing well is great, but I don’t need the carrots any more. My life now has altered so fundamentally that I cannot actually see a position where I’d return to being the person who would rather sit than stand, or drive instead of walk. Given the chance, I’m now always going to default to exercise. I’ll admit I do like my lie ins still, but not at the expense of bad mental health. I’ve also reconciled the understanding that it is never a given to expect a compliment for work done, or if I beat/write summat that’s accepted as ‘good.’ I know how much of the output I create that is decent, consistent and of a good standard. Occasionally, I will hit brilliant, and when that happens I know about it long before anyone else mentions it: not because I’m some kind of narcissist. I just get now what is good for me and what isn’t.

1280px-Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa2

Perfection is so horribly subjective to begin with that often being told you’re great isn’t actually a true indicator of attainment. I’ve had people overly compliment as a means to draw attention, and I see it happen more and more in social media circles where people are clearly desperate to not offend. I’d love honesty, every time: fortunately the people I count as friends are getting quite proficient at telling me the truth. If it sucks, I get the feedback. What this means is that often I forget what a powerful motivator the random compliment can be, and I’m now actively attempting to give them whenever I think it would be appropriate. This is quite hard work for me. Anyone who can do this well, naturally and with any measure of conviction? You’re a hero.

Making a compliment sound genuine and sincere is a skill I need a lot of work at grasping.

Requiem for a Tower

I had a big plan today, lots of words on communication and self-absorption, but after six hours sleep and having to deal with two banks plus a credit card company? It has all just shrunk to the angsty whine I suspect it was always going to be. That’s the thing about proportion: you need something else to stick yourself beside to make it matter. Once I’m forced to go look up account balances and check transactions whilst grasping I could do with more income to protect against the unexpected? Everything else becomes pretty much irrelevant. It is easy to understand why the Renaissance guys never got around to making the big speeches and discovering the mysteries of the Universe when they had early death and hunger to consider first. Once you’re comfortable, then comes the life changing shit, and not before.

radcliffetried

I’ve realised too that because for many people social media is a far too accurate representation of their real self, that suggesting contentious issues as the basis of discussion means I’m opening my self to perhaps more abuse than I ever need to garner. I could quite simply pretend I don’t care about these bigger issues and stay silent, but some days it is satisfying to shake the can of Coke and put it back in the fridge, for the unsuspecting co-worker to come open and get a surprise from. You don’t do it every day because that’s cruel and unusual, but the occasional wake-up call has merit. Trying to reason however with people who have decided that nothing is fair unless everybody wins and nobody loses is, at best, unrealistic in an environment where the exact opposite is proven to be the case. At some point, inevitably, one has to deal with disappointment, and if you can’t? Things get messy.

bodyisready

The salutatory lesson at the end of this is very simple: if you don’t want people to call you out? Keep your mouth shut. If you don’t want the grief? Don’t write the words and press ‘Send’ ^^ The moment you pop up and engage a random stranger in conversation, anything can and will happen, so unless you are prepared for consequence? Don’t start.

If you do this shit for a living and still get grief?

Learn to communicate betterer.

Finally

Before I started here, I wrote an e-mail to a very dear friend in which I apologised for starting something I now no longer wish to pursue. It’s nothing at all to do with him, in essence, and absolutely everything to do with me. Another good, dear friend made a point, before I started Podcasting, that it had the potential to derail me from a greater task. I now understand he was right, but without the confidence and insight that period of my life afforded me, I would not have progressed this far to begin with. Sometimes, certain decisions are necessary in order for us to move forward, but when they become a hindrance? You need to make harsh choices based on what matters most.

Therefore, there will be no more Gaming Podcasting for me in the future.

header40

It is not a decision I’ve taken lightly, but as it transpires I don’t want to pursue a career in that form of work, and I never will. Yes, the gaming is great and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t owe it a great deal (and still do) but ambition, ultimately, is having the confidence in my own words and ideas. To do that, there has to be more effort in that direction. I already have work ready, websites primed, all that is required now is the conscious shift away from the focus of pixels. That’s been happening for a while now anyway, but this way if I say that there’s a push forward and gaming is a *part* of my life but not what matters most? I can actually be honest with everybody for a change.

I think that’s going to matter a lot moving forward.

header47

My holiday was, like it or not, a life-changing experience. Giving a sense of scale to what you do is really very important. Understanding your significance in larger spheres, for starters, is summat that is beginning to have some tangible consequences. Watching how others deal with your opinions, that having them can often be tantamount to condemnation in the eyes of those who only see their own goals as mattering… I’m not here to crush competitors underfoot and smear other writers in a focused march to domination. My gaming experience has served as a good barometer of what to expect when I deal with other ‘players’ in the game of Real Life. Some people are only happy when you agree with them, and get the right hump when it is apparent than not only have you ideas, but aren’t afraid to wield them. I learn that salutatory lesson every day: if you choose to interact with someone, and then don’t like what they say or disagree… how do you react?

Words, never forget, are more powerful weapons than any hard earned quest reward.

header41

Choices are crossroads, quandaries before new and interesting directions. I came to grasp while I was away just how much I have been shaped not simply by the games, but the people I know who play and follow me, not simply on social media but beyond. Without Duncan, Mike, David, Allison, Liz, Julia, Ben, Hannah, Myles and all the other people that sprang forth from the wellspring of Computer Gaming acquaintances to become friends, confidantes and supporters, I’d simply not be here. Then there are those I only know by a user name or Twitter handle, or the random nature of a set of e-mail exchanges. The woman who found my blog and used it to keep her sane whilst her mother was in the Hospital, being treated for cancer. The guy who read every post and thanked me for the time and effort put into every one. Everyone has become a part of my whole and helped me forward, and I will remember them all, even if I don’t have the ability to recall them all.

More importantly, those who have hated on me and abused my choices and criticised my decisions? You make me stronger. I listen and learn. You may not wish that your words actually make me more determined to succeed, but they do. If I am confident the criticism is justified, it does get acted on. You didn’t expect that, now did you, but I have a great deal to thank Podcasting for. Mostly it made me realise that unless the output is something I’m proud of putting my name to? It isn’t worth the pain of criticism to begin with. In the end, I’ve had a really good run of content, I learnt a lot about myself in the process, but most importantly of all I now grasp that to move forward, I need to hold and wield the confidence of my own projects alone.

bark

All of this therefore points to a direction where, like it or not, people will lose interest with me once it becomes apparent I’m here for an ambition that doesn’t start and end with an MMO. That’s absolutely fine, and I’m prepared to accept that if people only want a single focus, then they’re entitled to come and go as they please. The fact remains, what I am is so tightly wound around gaming I’d find it impossible to separate writing from that anyway. It is what I am, and have always been. The only difference now, is that I am a gamer who wants to publish a novel. Probably quite a few.

Time to get started on that as a matter of urgency.

The Test

I’m behind today, but not so far that this will cause issue. I should be doing stuff in a different order too, but for now I’m playing fast and loose with responsibility, because I can and it’s a lovely position to be in. Today, therefore, I’d like to talk about realistic expectations, because I’m terrible at them and keep giving myself more work to do when what I should be doing is concentrating on getting my own shit done first.

2000yearslater

Guilt is a powerful motivator. However there comes a point where you grasp that effort is never going to realistically match up to reward. When this happens, that’s normally the moment to be tough with yourself: what is worth more? Are you here to impress other people with your l33t skillz or is it more about a sense of satisfaction with the stuff you produce? I find myself now realising that the temptation is to just keep chucking myself into project after project because it seems like the right thing to do, when actually what would be more sensible is to step back for a bit and do nothing. One of my biggest issues in the past couple of years was the grief I got when I committed to a project that was never completed (and remains so, as it happens) because it ended up being far more than I could personally cope with. Now I am beginning to grasp the significance of committing myself to endeavours that simply cannot be done alongside everything else.

In fact, I’m sitting here now, looking at the time leading up to Christmas, and realising that if I want to move forward, stuff is already going to have to be sacrificed.

shawshank

Once upon a time I think this would have been a lot harder for me because I don’t know sometimes how to say no to other people, or indeed myself. However the benefit of age and experience is definitely beginning to tell. This time around, I will head myself off at the pass. The people I need to speak to I think will understand my reasoning better, mostly because I will make sure I explain it to them sufficiently and clearly. The only way I break out of my own prison of failure is to address the mistakes that are made, time and again, and put each one to rest. This one is a biggie: I need to stop creating unrealistic expectation for myself.

What matters most, right now, is a correct sense of proportion.

Quiet Life

There wasn’t really a plan yesterday, and so that meant a fair bit of wandering about, but as it transpires it ended up as one of the best days of the holiday. We again set the task for the oldest to find us a restaurant to eat in for the main meal of the day, and he picked what I thought by name might be a problematic suggestion. However, I should have more confidence in my son’s choices. The Times Square Bar and Grill was a triumph of 1970’s design, and served possibly the most amazing Vegetable Quesadilla I have ever tasted. In fact, I’ll freely admit I’ve been searching out recipes to try and repeat this when I get home.

image

Design wise, I’d love to know who was responsible for the construction of this place. It was so 1970’s but utterly beautiful despite that. That made eating a pleasure and people watching even more so, and the place was far enough off the beaten track to mean we were able to eat quietly and not worry about the excessive tourism that Times Square produces. Of all the places we’ve visited this holiday, that’s one I will not miss one iota when we return home. It’s the most touristy of traps, packed with people and ways to separate you from your cash. It was horrible, and I hated every minute we were there. So, while Mr Alt went to buy a guitar, the kids and I went to Battery Park, which has free wifi and therefore became a couple of hours of hardened gaming in the sunshine.

image.png

All told, being able to ‘play’ outside was fantastic. I’m close to L20, have a spare Americas-only Pokemon to trade with once they open that ability, and have been able to watch my kids have a great time doing something they enjoy in a completely different environment. To be honest, the app’s been a godsend when both youngest and oldest have bored of us dragging them about, and for me yesterday it was hugely satisfying to be able to complete evolutions and get XP, and at the same time sit and watch Battery Park move past. More importantly, a remarkable number of other people were playing, across a vast age range. It was a revelation for my husband, who finally grasps just how significant this phenomena has become.

image.jpeg

Then, as the sun went down over New York, we found ourselves at Ground Zero,and the Twin Towers Memorial. Seeing it at twilight was all the more sobering, and as I watched people taking selfies at the monument, I couldn’t help but think this was inappropriate. I understand the need to record holiday memories, but not like that. My son asked me where I was the day it happened: I told him I was with him, ironing in the front room of our house with him in his baby chair, when I saw the first plane hit. There were a lot of tears, especially when it became apparent that white roses are left in the names of each victim on the day of their birthdays. It is a very sympathetic and moving monument, and I’m extremely glad we went. Then we made our way home, via the new Westfield Shopping Centre built next to the site. It is a stunning building, which from the outside looks like the wings of a dove.

image.jpeg

I’m also not 100% comfortable with the Twin Towers site becoming a centre of mass consumption, but as has been established I am not the target audience for such things to begin with. There’s no argument however, America does large and showy better than just about anyone else: whether it is Times Square or shopping complexes, you’ll be hard pressed to better them.

All Time High

It was inevitable I’d get behind, but in reality that’s not as big a deal as I’d make it out. The last couple of days have gravitated around Macy’s: my daughter and son have both saved spending money to buy clothing here, and even I took the plunge and have picked up a pile of cheap sportswear: even with the Brexit state of currency, I saved money, and it is entirely worth the effort to drag myself around sale racks. Plus, with Macy’s free wifi, I’ve managed to get almost to L19 at Pokemon Go, and as this is my only gaming fix right now? Very much required and needed.

image.jpeg

Monday was the Yankees (who won 1-0, in a game that at times was pretty average) and yesterday was the Empire State, which was beautifully queue free. My husband has a fear of heights, and I have to say I was proud of him going up as far as he did. Adults have been managing on two meals a day and yesterday’s Diner (Andrews) gave us top food, smoothies and Olympic coverage. In fact, as far as food goes so far, I think this beat the hipster vibe of Harlem. It was honest, decent and very delicious, and I even sneaked in a slice of Red Velvet to boot. All in all, a fabulous couple of days.

image.jpeg

There was a plan to do the USS Intrepid today, but I’m not sure that will come to pass: we only have two more days here so what now gets done is dictated by enthusiasm and not desire. I’ve visited everywhere I’ve wanted to, kids seem quite happy with what has transpired, so now it’s down to what else we can do in the time available. Mostly, I’m keeping out of discussions and having a shower, and hopefully by the time I’m done there’ll be a consensus.

Bring on the day :D

The Take off and Landing of Everything

A year ago, give or take a few days, I was on a plane to San Francisco. Today I’m on a flight to New York, which I never thought would be possible, but here I am. Great stuff can and does happen sometimes, if you work hard enough behind the scenes. I’m also sitting here editing my own first novel on the flight, and beginning to realise just how much has changed since this time last year. It isn’t just to do with my level of fitness either: words have become something better and stronger too. I’m only just beginning to realise this as I go through the process of editing, looking at stuff I’ve written that I thought was brilliant but in reality is anything but.

Sometimes, it isn’t just one part of you that needs to change, it is everything.

The problem, of course, is that that’s often not practical. You cannot easily throw everything away and start from scratch. It takes time and effort to understand the areas that need to be addressed, and what has to happen with each one, and then comes the process of stitching everything back together. Without the coherence of all the parts, your whole simply ceases to function. Where do you even start? For me, attacking my physical limitations has been a start, but I understand I’ve still got a very long way to go. I still find the process of taking off and landing in aeroplanes fairly stressful, for example. I can’t immerse myself in water without immense levels of trauma. Having acquiesced to doing a bike ride next year, I’m already quietly fretting over my levels of ability, especially after watching the two days of sheer terror that was the Olympic Male and Female Road races.

yes

There’s no point I realise now unless stuff scares you.

That’s very true of writing: looking at words and trying to work out whether something is good enough or not becomes quite frightening, after a while, as you’re playing a continual game of second guessing yourself. Especially when fiction is involved, there’s a discomfort whenever you read someone else’s words too, that this becomes an unintended benchmark amongst all the others you find a need to aspire to. There’s an inspirational poster I have somewhere which likes to state ‘You are Enough’ but that’s never going to be totally true when the whole World seems to have a better grasp on reality and stability than you can muster at 37,999 feet. The turbulence never stops, the choice becomes to take the journey or never leave your safe zone, and in the end that is absolutely no way to ever live a life.

Some days, nothing is ever enough unless you try.

epicsideeye

The next ten days in a city I will freely admit would be my second home if I could, is full of possibilities I never thought I’d return to experience. The last time I was here, the Twin Towers stood. An awful lot has changed in what will be almost 20 years, not just the fact I’m now part of a family which accepts me for what I am, that sat either side of Mum and held her hands as the plane took off. Being part of a loving whole that allows you the freedom to push your boundaries is not something a lot of people get the chance to experience, and I realise just how lucky I am to have this group of people around me as support.

To take off on new journeys is both frightening and beautiful, and to land with my family in tow on a holiday I never thought I’d have is probably the best 50th birthday present I’m likely to get. I hope I can do the next ten days justice with words, which I intend to try and do here. Here’s to new adventures and expanded horizons.

Broken Wings

Occasionally, admitting you need medical help is part of life. Yesterday, the itch from two mosquito bites became impossible to ignore, especially as my hand was finding typing difficult. So, off to the chemist I went. I have to thank the random old bloke who suggested using the back of a silver spoon on the bite itself (sliver = anti-inflammatory, heat = breaks down proteins the mozzie injects to de-coagulate your blood) which was great until I needed to go out to train. Then I used a thin layer of Hydrocortisone in an attempt to make life easier, and everything went Pete Tong, as demonstrated above.

The biggest casualty was my elbow, which I couldn’t move at all for large parts of last night. The joint pain has gone now, fortunately, but I’m still incredibly uncomfortable, itchy in my own skin. On the bright side I had the best night’s sleep for coming up for a month.

Everything has a silver lining, after all.

Goodbye

About 15 minutes ago, I deleted my personal Twitter account for good. It was, ultimately, a lie: I don’t need a second spot in which to post things that are effectively just a repetition of what happens elsewhere. Everyone who cares enough should by now know where I exist and will choose to follow me (or not) as time goes on, and this situation suits me just fine. The more observant amongst you will also notice a logo that matches with the square avatars I already possess. I hope to expand this Blog more as time goes on, and as will become apparent, there are New Things (TM) that will happen here.

Today’s been hugely satisfying on a great many fronts, most especially reflecting on my own fitness progression. It was the first day I’ve dead-lifted with more than 10k on the bar, that I was able to do 400m rowing and 200m runs without being reduced to a wreck, and even though my shoulders might be screaming at me now, the satisfaction of an hours really hard work was considerable. I walked out of the Gym feeling as if I had earned ever inch of progression, and going forward I am really very excited at what my body could be capable of doing.

thisturnsout
August is already turning out to be awesome, and I’ve only had one day of it so far.