Stronger

Those of you paying attention will notice that I’ve been out a bit of late. That’s not just because it’s the Summer Holidays: a lot of stuff is going on right now, most of it connected with me stepping up my health goals.

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There is other stuff, but for the moment I’m not at liberty to discuss details. Right now, I have eight days before holiday, and an awful lot of shizzle to arrange before that happens. I may also have committed myself to two bike races next year, both for charity. That’s gonna take some work, for starters, assuming I can get into both. Even if I don’t, it may well be time to bite the bullet and make some money for people less fortunate than myself.

Needless to say, you would be well served to watch the next week’s events rather closely.

Games without Frontiers

I made the effort this morning to walk to town. I’ll grant you, there may have been some Pokemon-related activities on the way, but the main reason why I went was to get a haircut. The last time anybody did anything to my hair was eighteen months ago. That’s probably going to send shock waves of terror into the hearts and minds of some of my readers, but I’ll be honest. I’m not bothered. The last time I wore makeup was probably in my early 30’s, but I never did the job well in my teens and just stopped. Many people have tried to politely suggest that it would be an idea to make me feel more comfortable and confident, but I just don’t see the point. I had thought that maybe I’d need to do this for my daughter’s benefit but she, in no uncertain terms, has no desire to wear it either.

If I were in a high profile job I might think differently, but as I’m not?

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I expect my best friend to read this post and make some comment on it when I see her tomorrow, as I’m off into London to pay her a visit. I totally and utterly ‘get’ why the rest of the world does this, why so much money gets thrown at the cosmetic industry. It just never, ever factored in what I’d wear, or how I’d act. I never relied on it or used it to cover flaws. Somewhere along the way I dispensed with the need for it. I’m not sure as I grow older I even want to hide what I am any more, or pretend I’m younger than I am by slapping some concealer on and pretending this is the right thing to do. What matters more than anything else is the health from within, confidence I can gain from other things and in different ways.

My hair needs a trim. I’m getting it coloured because it seems like a good idea. However, that’s where it ends. I think maybe I’m a failure in the beauty thing, but I really have better things to do with both money and time. I lift heavy shit now and write words.

Yup, that works just fine for me.

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It’s Week One proper of the Summer break for my kids. Yesterday and today have been put aside for sorting out issues and problems, and it is only now that I’m able to sit down and look forward. The To Do list isn’t as long as it was either, and I had a killer PT session today to cap off a week where I know that progress really is happening. Now, however, I just gotta get the creative side of the brain working again. It’s there, just being unwilling to co-operate, but even that’s not a problem right now.

Also, two weeks tomorrow I’ll be on a plane to New York. To say I’m excited is the MOTHER of all understatements. I’ll be blogging it all this time, not the peace-meal effort I made with the West Coast run. This matters enormously to me, and as part of the birthday celebration for 50 years? GONNA MAKE IT COUNT.

I have a deadline piece to complete, then I’ll be back to regular posting again in the morning.

If This is It

Some days, I realise I’m not like other grown ups.

Today was the last day my daughter attends a Primary School. This now involves parents grabbing pictures and ‘networking’ in an attempt to ‘keep in touch’ as their kids move on. Now, undoubtedly if my husband had been here he wouldn’t have sat quietly away from everybody else, and would have been in there chatting. I’m not good at that, never have been, and any amount of ‘well get in there and talk’ actually changes the situation. The people I have stuff in common with were spoken to, once everyone else had gone. My daughter thanked all the teachers. I had a word with the Headmaster.

Then we went home.

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When I asked my daughter, she was beyond happy. All the pictures she wanted, all the friends talked to and important people sorted. Shirt has been signed, cakes and biscuits made happily consumed. I didn’t need to do anything except turn up and hold her stuff, and I did that brilliantly. It wasn’t my day, but hers. In that regard, I can carry off the job of Mum without stress. She’s emotional now, and I’m doing my best just to be here. The problem is, some days I just can’t socially interact with the world at all. It’s like I disconnect from how it all works and forget everything that I’m supposed to do. It isn’t that there’s no willing, simply a loss of the order to do stuff in. Social niceties somehow just vanish when large groups of people appear, and then when I get back to the one to one situations it hits me. You can’t be like this and still communicate.

The salvation now is that I realise it is happening whereas when younger I didn’t, and nobody told me what a twat I was. In fact, I don’t remember anyone ever telling me anything at all. I dunno if this is just because no-one ever got that close or it was because I refused to listen, or if memory’s just so awful it happened and I’ve lost the timeline. One memory did surface of someone who was really mean to someone else and expecting to be let into the house being told to summarily fuck off before she reached the doorstep. On reflection there should probably be more of that. I do remember the watershed moment though, when I was recovering from PND. The relationship I terminated then should have been finished a long time previously. On reflection, pretty much my entire life was full of people who were there for entirely the wrong reasons.

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All of this stemmed from my inability to effectively communicate.

Time has helped, plus the ability to see more than just the six inches in front of me. Writing has allowed an opportunity to expand the world I have to spaces that previously I was uncomfortable inhabiting, and to help me discover more not simply about myself but more importantly the World around me. I can’t change some of what I am, this is abundantly apparent, but there is plenty of room for improvement. There’s never going to be a time when I look at anything and say ‘yeah, that’ll do’ and although this might have some negative connotations from time to time? I think I’d rather feel everything, all the time, despite the issues that sometimes produces. When it matters, this is never about me, and I get when those moments are. I’m still not 100% hitting the targets, but the success rate is far better than it was.

Maybe that’s no bad thing either.

Secret Messages

I talk to a lot of people on any given day. I’m friends with only a handful, but people trust a surprising amount of personal information to pretty much total strangers. It amazes what others will grant access to, despite being uncomfortable with the freedoms or otherwise afforded via Social Media. As a writer this makes these platforms the most amazing potential writing tools, not simply in terms of source material. If you consider these places simply communication media? There’s no sense of the bigger picture. Once you realise that these are living, breathing worlds?

It makes those people attempting to exploit it all the more obvious.

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I’ve been suffering from a Pornbot Infestation for the last few days: I’m up to thirty five accounts attempting to shove their norks in my face (often the same pair) since Monday (the last five having all liked old posts of mine since I started writing this blog post ^^) It’s an old trick: show an interest, attempt to garner a follow, and anyone using scripts/robots in order to build followers will latch onto these points and start multiplying. The trick, presumably, is to promote exponential growth, and people who don’t care who is using their account and for what and are simply out to ‘grow their numbers’ all join in. I noticed an account I’ve been keeping an eye on after an incident I may one day share with you has a number of these ladies actually followed, and I was sad. If you don’t look at who’s listening, it doesn’t matter if your account is locked or open. Security becomes irrelevant.

More people need to understand the consequences of their actions.

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There’s a lot of stuff in my head about Pokemon Go right now, and I’m not sure this is the right moment to discuss how the game may be brilliant and inspiring at present, but there’s some quite genuinely concerning security and privacy issues being effectively ignored in many people’s state of childlike wonder. Yes, enjoying yourself matters, of course it does, but the consequences of these things end up being significant over time. That’s often not the worry though, and here’s the kicker for people like me. When you get to know enough people? Trying to keep stuff a secret becomes really hard. The stuff you think nobody knows about you? Be careful what you do and say, because eventually, like it or not, the truth always gets out.

The only way to never get into trouble is to never do anything bad.

Change

Yesterday I started my new Moleskine Diary for the year. This has now become something of a big deal for me: I’ve never, ever used electronic planners with any notion of seriousness, mostly because I don’t trust computers with organising my life. Yes, I’m a shameless Luddite and I don’t care, and if there’s not pencil and paper involved it isn’t real, or indeed permanent. I know I’m not alone in this, that the revolution won’t exclude pages and handwriting for some time yet. Having a physical reminder of what I did and what needs to be done is also rather useful as a tool to inspire. That has never happened with a computer, and I doubt it ever will.

My environmental concerns are also assuaged because this, in essence, becomes a permanent reminder of what I’ve done and said. All this crap on the Internet only really matters if you make a permanent copy of it, and my plan with fiction is to do just that, get a print copy of everything written then put aside so I have the reminders of what was done for eternity (and beyond.) After that, it’s all just shouting into the void, when everything is said and done. It was my good friend Mike who made me think about the notion of permanence, and I’m grateful for those who understand that the physical matters far more than many would have you believe. I’ve had enough of crap in my life: collectables are great for some but for me they’ve become a millstone. What matters most to me in that regard is music, and I can never see a time when there’s just a collection ‘in the cloud.’ I’m buying more CD’s as time goes on, not less. No, I don’t do Vinyl but I get it.

I will always need something in my hand to feel I’m doing composition some justice.

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There is something undoubtedly special about my diary’s unique composition, especially when I travel. The memories from the US last year are particularly bright in the mind not simply because of pictures, but the feel of my diary in hand and on a series of hotel/motel desks as I planned and worked abroad. I’m sure I’m horribly old fashioned in this regard, but frankly I don’t care. The future may be information when you want it, but that’s not the way to make memories or establish permanence. That’s what the physical is, and why it remains such an important aspect of our existence.

Without the feelings, we are nothing.

Seven Days

It’s been a week.

I’ve run out of stuff to say that won’t reduce me to tears. I’ve tried to write this post once and gave up as I sobbed into the keyboard, understanding finally registered that all it took to completely destroy my world was a bloke called Boris and just over half the country voting with their hearts. That’s all this is in the end, everyone was honest. The motivations were different, the reasoning varied on a person to person basis, but in the end people did what their consciences told them to do. It wasn’t a protest vote, and despite what some people might want you to think, this vote wasn’t swayed by people who didn’t know what to vote and panicked. If you want to blame anyone, throw your shoes at the 30% of the electorate who registered and couldn’t be fucked to turn up on the day.

They quite obviously had better things to do last week than destroy the Country.

If someone had written yesterday as an act of pure fiction, it would never have been read, watched or sold. Nobody could have dreamt the scenario that ended up with the man who started this whole fucking shitstorm running away, but he did, in an act of cowardice that is not ever likely to be forgotten. I have no idea what we’ll get today as a result, but I can guarantee that someone has a GIF for it. I like the idea that reaction now is best summed up in brief, three second bursts, because any more than that and you’d just disintegrate.

In the end, you have to laugh or you do cry, and this is the glue holding the Country together: soundbites, 140 characters, briefest summary of issues so fucking complicated Stephen Hawking would pronounce you were ‘aving a  laff and nip off for a cheeky Nandos instead. It is just easier to imagine the Economy as a speeding golf buggy without a driver, saved only by the guy who runs faster. It’s funny because it’s true, people.

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I have many things I want to say personally, but for now it is just simpler to cheat.

No, that’s not the answer, but it is the only one I can cope with.

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Day Four: Stupid shows no sign of diminishing. The notion of effort is brought to light watching 11 blokes on a football pitch who didn’t have a fucking clue what to do when they went behind in their game. I am beyond sad at the fact these ‘players’ are paid ridiculous amounts of money to do a job for a club, but haven’t got the first sense of desire when it comes to representing their country. If money is the only motivation, I’d point to the side that beat them as what it really means to understand both passion and commitment to a national side. This country has no identity any more, when you take away multiculturalism and diversity. People become a bunch of xenophobic, whiny arsebiscuits.

I watched this play out this morning after my PT session at the Gym. Sitting waiting for breakfast, I watched three people over the age of 60 swan up to the Bar while staff were busy serving and stop everything just so they could solve what were stupidly petty problems. One involved looking down to one end of said Bar where items were stored, and picking one up, but this was indeed too much for this particular woman who clearly decided that for her membership? Everybody else does the work. I talked about this at length with my trainer: in her 30 clients, she counts six (including me) who will make an effort, and want to try and improve fitness and appearance over time. Everybody else presumably pays the cash to tell their friends they train, yet nothing changes.

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Things only work if there’s effort from both sides, people. It’s not rocket science.

It also occurs to me that you can explain anything away with enough skill, but that never solves a problem. The only way, in the end, to make things change is to find the strength within yourself to affect that. It is apparent that those who are afraid of what this means will often prefer to be unhappy than scared. In fact, some live in a world where unhappy is their default state because it just makes things easier to deal with. That’s staggering, when you think about it: only one life to lead and yet you would rather not challenge yourself or affect change because the consequences are out of your hands. Except that’s really not true, even though the events of the last four days would seem to confirm just how dangerous it is to say what you really feel.

Life isn’t supposed to be easy, people, though if you’re lucky it will be quiet and without drama. Sometimes, shit just happens, and the measure of you as a person is how that gets dealt with. Right now, an awful lot of people’s true colours are showing, and it is not pretty.

If you can’t be good, then maybe just be quiet.

Can I Kick It?

Yesterday’s PT Session was, it must be said, a bit of a revelation. I was taught the concept of Active Recovery by my trainer: you don’t just burst through an exercise, wear yourself out and then struggle to get your breath back. Instead, you can train at a lower intensity with bursts of high intensity exercise in-between, and get better results. She demonstrated this to me on the Rowing machine, and for someone who with asthma who can normally not manage 1000 meters in a session? I did. I completed the entire distance, and it was glorious. Yesterday I also did Squats and Clean and Jerks with the grown up weightlifting bar (plus weights) and this morning? I really don’t care how much I ache. In fact, I suspect I will make time to do some walking later because suddenly, exercise became something more than what I do to lose weight and keep healthy.

I have become something new and different with exercise as a backdrop.

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Exercise has given me back a sense of self that had previously vanished. I now can’t imagine a life where I don’t do it, or it doesn’t form a significant part of my existence. My eating habits have also fundamentally altered: yes, I’ll still entertain poor choices, but never to the extent that happened previous to me understanding how what I shovel into my face affects my body. I’m about to purchase my first pair of Boxing Gloves, and I have no doubt they will get considerable use. This isn’t about buying exercise equipment and allowing it to gather dust either. In fact, the Gym membership gets used more now than at any other point in the past. However, I felt guilty yesterday when it was raining so hard I took the car to the PT Session, and ended up doing the steps I would have completed in the journey to and from before my session started.

Yes, I have absolutely changed as a result of exercise.

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There are still some issues to address: self image, how I dress, how I stop myself eating everything on certain days, but right now the willpower’s pretty solid. Once I’ve done all the chores today there’s a better than average chance I’ll go for a evening walk, because having 12k on the watch every day is becoming a requirements rather than an option, even on what should count as a rest day. It is less about what gets eaten for convenience and more about healthy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still scoff a Nandos if I get the chance, but I’m becoming less tied to the bread/stodge/sugar route with every passing day. I won’t ever be totally separated from chocolate however, I’m not a fool. There has to be cake somewhere in the equation, just not nearly as much as there was.

However, the alteration in my physical and mental outlook is now unavoidable.

No More Tears (Enough is Enough)

Yesterday I had to take a day off to think. Normally I’d consider the issues of the previous 24 hours and write about them, but there was so much fucking wankery to deal with, that became largely impractical. More importantly, I got a very significant and desperately sad reality check. Sometimes, none of this online stuff matters one jot: a very good friend of mine lost someone that mattered to them, and nothing in the world is as horrendous as the sudden loss of a loved one. It was a sobering moment, and has given an interesting resonance to everything that’s transpired since Friday morning.

That’s the point to this post, at least in part, but I also need to include the following caveat:

There comes a point in your online life where you understand that some people simply can’t hear you. It does not matter how often you communicate, or how close you appear to become: without the benefit of actual physical contact, you lose a subtle empathy that often means that reality becomes both distorted and more prone to fracture. I’ve had numerous examples of this in the last week: where text is your only communication medium, and it is apparent the person you’re speaking to is intentionally holding things back? Friction becomes all the more possible. This is one of the reasons I try my utmost to be as honest and open as possible, and use the adage of ‘think before you speak’ as often as is feasible. Because that joke might seem really funny and clever when you say it in your head but more often than not you’re going to regret it when you see it in text format.

I can recall only too well an incident a few months ago where I thought I was being really enabling and positive and someone just bitchslapped me to the ground with the undeniable power of their own situation. No, you can’t dream to be whatever you want when it’s physically impractical to do just that, and being told by a random stranger on a day when that’s all you’d really like to do will undoubtedly result in a fight. Try as you might, it is impossible to be in everybody’s head, all the time, and that’s probably quite a dangerous situation to attempt. More importantly, you cannot change the world on the Internet. I’ll now wait for the pedants amongst you to roll up and contradict me with all manner of contrary positions, and then remind everyone just how long human beings have existed in this format on the history of the Planet.

Context is everything, people.

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I understand the desire to damage another person’s existence by attempting to control their environment when you can’t affect them. I also understand only too well that the consequences of this mean that people get hurt, and it becomes really hard to feel you’re either safe or comfortable in virtual spaces when so much fucking stupid is thrown about. What is also abundantly apparent is that certain people have no idea they’ve done this to begin with. It could be an unwarranted outburst, or a planned rant. Mostly however, it is the truth that hurts most. If I look back on the last couple of months, in at least one case I was the engineer of my own demise simply by being honest. Yes, I could have kept my mouth shut, but would that have helped in the long term? No. At some point, I would have said something else yet eventually we would have parted company. I wasn’t friends with this person in the same manner they were with me, I believe. I could be wrong, but the manner in which they cut ties says that actually, there was fault on both sides to shoulder.

If I don’t like what you do? I’ll say something. Sorry, but that’s the way I am.

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So, if I decide I disagree with a member of your family, or your Internet heroine, or indeed anybody else, I am well aware there will be consequences. I don’t do this to inflame anyone or to gain notoriety, I do it because that’s what I think, and I now understand only too well that this is the fuel that some require to remain both alive and relevant. This is the reason why others walk away from such situations, and don’t want to be involved with the direction certain social media platforms are moving. It also potentially dangerous, but my desire to keep talking largely outweighs those fears. However, I know what is out here, and what I’m up against. It doesn’t change anything, and it never will.

As long as you crave attention, I’ll be listening. If you people really want to make a difference? Shut up. Then I have nothing to talk about, and then I’ll be forced to go elsewhere.

I’m only reacting because you gave me a reason.