Time

In Shock News [TM] there will be two blog posts today. The reason for this? We need to talk this early in the morning about ethics.

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Someone I follow, of significant note in their field, made what I consider a considerable misstep a while back. Instead of keeping personal business off Social media, they made a decision to use it as content. Personally, I feel this was a massive mistake, and as a result a fair glob of respect for this person has been lost. How one conducts oneself in this form of public forum is incredibly important.

The same goes for the large company who tried to make amends for a massive faux pas yesterday at the start of their annual content celebration… yes, there was a public apology, but nobody mentioned what it was about, or the place where the contention came from. It was as staged and managed as it was possible to get, and as a result… well, was it really an apology at all?

In the modern world, ethical conduct is becoming increasingly important.

Living your best life in fraught and troubled times is becoming increasingly important for mental health: do you boycott the company who simply enforced the terms of their own contracts, however heavy-handed that action may have been perceived to be? Are you willing to forgive the content creator who’s now beginning to grasp that nobody may approach them again for fear of becoming a story?

These are hard, involved choices to be made on an individual level for some of us, but the real truth is that nobody else really cares. So many people, trapped in their own bubbles of influence and importance, do not even realise just how damning their actions might be on a population becoming increasingly self aware of the chaos around them. It is, of course, all the fault of social media. 

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Racism, sexism, attacks on non-binary people, environmental activism… and the list goes on. Once upon a time, a sensible ruler would just keep everybody poor and hungry so they were in no position to cause trouble. Then the Romans turned up and made everybody realise that you didn’t need to revolt if everything to keep you happy was provided… except, of course, that assumes everybody’s happy not to think too much.

Many of us think rather a lot about these things: when people or companies do things that are contrary to our own beliefs or ideals, there has to be at least some questioning of the motives. It breaks an important wall between ‘us’ and ‘them’ too: going forward, the relationship changes forever. It bothers me a lot that many people never think about such issues: all that matters is if they are happy.

Except now, on quite considerable reflection, it makes increasing sense.

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Is it worth hamstringing your own enjoyment to be angry at a company you can do nothing to change? Should you care that someone else has made themselves look like an idiot? Life, undoubtedly, is too short to cut off your own nose to spite a face that’s becoming increasingly less careworn. As a recent convert to the Make the Most of Every Moment camp, ethical responsibility’s a really tough balancing act.

What’s a girl to do?

If people want to listen to what I think, they will. If they don’t, there’s really nothing I can do. If you’re gonna be an utter creep and stalk me however, that’s unacceptable, as is attacking me for deciding to have a good time. Life is a constantly changing balance of feeling, action and consequence, and as long as I feel what I am is ethically sound, that really should be enough.

What I can change will be, and the rest we’ll work out on the way.

Holiday

I didn’t post at all for two whole days. Here’s why.

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#365daychallenge Sunday, Tate Modern

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There’s been some quite robust discussion in the house over what should happen at weekends. As a result, on Saturday and Sunday nothing was written as part of a plan. I’ve stated in other places that now writing is my job, there is requirement for alternate means to relax when that doesn’t happen. Saturday was gaming, Sunday was the Tate Modern. Both had their surprises.

I’ll write at length about Olafur Eliasson in the week, as his exhibition caused an unexpected anxiety attack. It’s a measure of my progress that didn’t utterly ruin the day. It also provided a surprising amount of material that I now wish to write about, so in that regard I’m very happy with the entire weekend’s exercise. If there was worry previously over being unable to be creative, this has greatly assuaged it.

I’ll be in a forest in a week, which is the holiday I’ve been looking forward to for a lot longer than was previously believed. There’ll be a lot of writing there, but all the real work will happen when I come back. Many things will be pulled from their spaces on hard drives to be re-written. I’m ready to do that now, and instead of using new stuff as contest entries, it’s going to be old things, re-imagined.

I’m surprisingly determined at what will be achieved.

I Go to Sleep

I just had a kip on the sofa. It means I’ve managed eight hours of sleep for the first time since the weekend and is a reminder that if I want to get better at exercise, there has to be more rest.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt this tired before in my life.

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The problem is that this isn’t just physical: yesterday was a day of getting my brain around the two writing projects I want to get finished. I realised just how awful my work was back before I believed in myself and what was possible. Then I finally lost my temper with a group of toxic people who I will no longer allow to hold back my progress when it comes to doing what matters. Now they are all on time? I can start to focus on what matters, which tomorrow means a day of self-care and pampering. I have skin products and am going to take care of hands and feet as well as body and brain.

Then I hope to finish week one of the Hard Bastard Exercise Regime on a high.

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Nobody said this would be easy, and it hasn’t been, and there have been some stutters on the way to becoming more consistent. However, progress is undoubtedly forward.

I hope tonight’s bike ride will be a distinct improvement on yesterday’s.

Happy

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This blog is the equivalent of Internet tumbleweed: extremely localized, and only seen by a handful of people. Every time I hear someone lament that ‘nobody cares about what I do’ there is this sudden and overriding desire to point out that, for coming up for two decades that’s been my life, right there. Seven years of blogging and before that countless fan websites and online hangouts. Instant and stellar fame very rarely just happens, there is a phenomenal amount of work behind it. Only by pushing daily do you achieve any notion of success and then maybe, just maybe the fates will align and you’ll catch a break.

The true and lasting satisfaction gained from writing should be the understanding you were read by other people. Of course, the only way this registers is when that fact is passed on via feedback: good or bad, a hit is still just that. Most of us, like it or not, will not be J.K. Rowling. Getting your name in print is no guarantee of immortality, and many authors have only gained real critical acceptance after death, so what is popular now may well have been forgotten in a century (assuming of course humanity makes it that far.) Everybody, like it or not, is pissing in the Cosmic wind.

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Right now, this moment, what is most important to the majority of the Internet is themselves. Narcissism is that most human of traits: look at me, I’m special, why aren’t you watching my Twitch feed or buying my Redbubble items? Except, if you look closely, the successful people don’t say this stuff out loud. They’re not complaining that nobody subs, or how unfair it is that certain people do well. All those self-help guides which proclaim that the true path to success is self belief are absolutely spot on. The difference between making them work and failure isn’t the guides, its whether you choose to listen and act.

Undoubtedly, some things work for you and others don’t. However, the overriding difference long term between success and failure isn’t about how others mark that progress. Ultimately that will come from within. Age has finally demonstrated that there’s a fine line between listening to criticism and being dictated by it. Finding a balance isn’t just about listening and acting, there has to be thinking and reassessment too. If you insist that you can’t or won’t change, at some point in the journey, you’re going to end up in trouble. The true success stories combine determination with adaptability, and more.

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I love the fact that, in this part of my journey, I pretty much know every follower by name. I have made a promise not to forget the people who matter, but expect in return from them a measure of accountability and interaction. Friendship does not mean doing as you’re told and then expecting nothing in return. These days I’m also quite vocal if I feel people are being selfish or unreasonable, but only if there’s the chance they’re receptive to criticism. Sadly, many people on social media can’t hear you, however much they may claim to be listening.

When internet success is as much about an ability to get AI to consider you important by using the right keywords, organic growth can seem irrelevant. When you refuse to follow robot accounts or bow to other people’s perceptions of popularity, there’s a line drawn which dismisses the need for reassurance. You’ve the potential to gain far more out of life by looking to yourself for the answers: it is why meditation and introspection are now considered far more dangerous by some than beneficial. Often, the last thing some need is to have a mirror held up to their feelings.

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It seems the true reality of success involves hard work, introspection, understanding and luck. The key is that only part of this equation is an individual’s to dictate. That means making sure your part of the deal’s as solid and locked down as it can be. Then, you work hard, every day, and eventually you might, only might get lucky. The moment the process stops granting satisfaction? There’s a choice: reassess, or move on. After 50 years, this is the first time I’ve truly derived pleasure from anything that could be considered employment, and as a result you bet I’m gonna carry on regardless.

I don’t write for an audience. I do it to make me happy.

Making Your Mind Up

Even though I lost an hour this morning, it’s a beautiful day.

I’ve spent some time pouring over Co-Promote, which is turning into an extremely useful component of the experiment for the Writing Site. I have posts worked out for the next few weeks on the Warcraft Site, and there’s NEW CONTENT due on Wednesday. The only problem I foresee in the next week is when I get on the scales tomorrow for PT and it is apparent I’ve been eating far more than I should have been, because it’s taking a while to adjust noshing patterns to the increase in exercise frequency. Everything else is looking great, and there’s now no excuse to put off a lot of stuff I’ve been avoiding. In fact, I’m looking forward to getting things thrown out and cleared away.

Life, as it stands, is going remarkably well.

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What has now made the difference, undoubtedly, is the Mindfulness course I’m on, which is about to end its first week. It has done nothing more than opened a door in my head that before I did not even realised existed. That has in turn given me entry to a place where my normal life has gained an extra depth and space: nothing dramatic has changed, but my perception has undoubtedly shifted. I’ll write about this more in detail in the week, but suffice it to say there’s a new brightness to every moment that is only now beginning to register. I’m beyond grateful for the lovely lady who suggested I go take this course to begin with. I may never adequately find the means to thank her for simply doing the job she’s paid to do.

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Normally on a Sunday I’d be lost at a PC and gaming, but today (once the blogging is done) I fully intend to put my mind to the first big task I set myself to finish this time last week, and once that is finally done I can move forward and start attacking the front of the house with hoover and dusters. Spring Cleaning will take a couple of weeks at my current rate of attrition, but this year it will be done. I’ve half assed my way through it over the last few years but really, there’s just so much crap now accumulated, and a ton of it is never used any more by either child or us. As a result, it doesn’t need to be here any more, and I can make space in a house that’s already bursting at the seams. That’s the other debt of gratitude I have to acknowledge: I’ve been keeping track of my Minimalism Game goals since the 1st of March, and I’ll have thrown out a ton of stuff come Friday and completed the goal.

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Sometimes I know it can feel as if people blog stuff that’s not real, that it is all just smoke and mirrors to get others to read their work. I couldn’t get away with ever being like that because I know now I’d be lying, and that helps nobody in the end. This month, I suspect, will be looked back as a watershed going forward, that this was the moment when I stopped pretending to be doing all this stuff seriously and moved forward.

The future is making me vibrate with excitement, and that’s never a bad thing.

Run to the Hills

It should have happened yesterday, but I wasn’t ready. My first proper, serious workout session without a PT to hold my hand had the potential to be stress incarnate, but I’m lucky enough to have a trainer who understands my fears, and can help me plan to beat them as well as my targets. That meant a well planned session of cardio and weights, that she wrote down for me in detail, noting all the things I’d need to organise beforehand, then told me to transcribe the whole thing to my Phone. That was the first masterstroke, I now grasp, because I had to understand what I was being asked, recall the instructions she’d given on Monday, and then add my own take on what was needed to move forward.

However, that was the easy bit. The genuinely frightening part was arriving this morning post School Run to find the ‘grown up’ part of the Gym where the weights and the bar was full of beautiful, fit and incredibly intimidating people. I’d gone early in the hope there’d be nobody about but nope, totally rammed. I had a choice: did I stay or run? My favourite treadmill (YES I HAVE THAT) was free and I took this as a sign. At some point you have to decide what matters most and just fucking get on with it. So, I did.
 
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If you don’t understand how frightening it is to have to be around people on days you’re unable to cope with yourself, I’ll never convince you otherwise. I decided the way to best deal with panic was to ignore everything and concentrate on my music, and so I did. I ran for 20 minutes, up and down inclines, and could still breathe at the end. I used the scary Watt Bike and remembered all the settings, and I didn’t slack, doing everything that I’d been told to, despite at this point feeling like my lungs were going to explode. Getting to the weights was actually a relief, until I realised I’d be lifting between two blokes built like bungalows. My arms wobbled, I sweated buckets. The fat rolls popped out from my tucked in shirt. I focused on the music and just did the exercises.

Then when I got to the weightlifting bar, I made eye contact with someone and it all went a bit Pete TongI didn’t imagine the other guy staring as I took off weights and I couldn’t work out if he was amused or encouraging, so I just ignored him and did the sets. As I concentrated more on the music and less on the people around me, it started to be enjoyable. I began to stop worrying and by the time I got to the last set of push ups, I was having fun. It is true that a lot of the time your perception of the world is adversely affected when you allow others to dictate your actions: once I locked everything out, the whole journey stopped being about those around me and all about myself. I even did stretches for warm down and was able to do one leg balances with a measure of confidence. I was mentally and physically exhausted, but I’d completed 80 minutes of genuine physical exertion.

The reward isn’t just poached eggs on toast. My PT was training herself this morning, and she saw me working. I don’t have to pretend I’m doing the work or lie to her, I’m able to accomplish all these things alone, whereas a year ago even the thought of such endeavour would have frightened me into inactivity. That’s the biggest benefit from all of this, quite apart from the hope I will lose the weight that is desired. The fear that you’re constantly fighting everything including yourself, that can push you to a complete stop, is what can now be used to drive my needs to fruition. I found myself this morning, as I lifted dumbbells, remembering the awkward girl who used to dream of running and never had the confidence to look past her illness. That time seems a long way away now, and regret at not starting this sooner is as big a pain as the past that fuels me now. All you can do is survive, and move on.

It is all about the journey, and never the destination.

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That was a Push Day. Saturday will be a Pull Day. I have a selection of exercises, and lots of motivation. For the first time in a while, I’m genuinely looking forward to my next session. I may revise that tomorrow if both legs and arms don’t work but for now?

This is the happiest I’ve ever been.
 

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I woke up at 5.30am this morning, as I have every other day this week, with the realisation that, like it or not, my life will never be the same again. It is not bad that life changes, and that you have to deal with the difficult and painful. It is a measure of your own strength and composure, in the end. How you then transmit that to the World becomes really rather important. What I see right now is a lot of people struggling to cope with what has been presented to them. I’d say, at least in my experience, that the most sensible approach when this happens is to go back to the basics, and work out first off how to better communicate with the World.

Today, I realised that my life is not about proving I’m capable any more.

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For ‘one of THOSE days…’

At the Gym today, I looked at myself in the floor to ceiling mirrors, and this time really stared hard. I can see the roll of skin and fat that sits between waist and hips that is my next effort to shift. I can see a stomach reducing, but still pronounced. The top half of my body however I am beyond proud of, and finally comes a sense that hard work really is its own reward. There are glimmers of what I really am, peeking out from under what I was trapped in for such a long time, and it gives me renewed enthusiasm when I’m low on energy and sleep, when my step count is woeful and there’s just the temptation to go fuck it and reach for the chocolate biscuits. Today I had a second protein bar because I need the energy and finally I grasped that a cheap fix is just that.

However, it is more than just seeing where to travel. The motivation to go there has changed.

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My husband has suggested I need a goal: perhaps to do a ride in the ‘real’ world that’s a concerted effort to improve everything. He has suggested London to our home, which is 54 miles, and fortunately has a race pre-arranged for this every year. I know what he’s trying to do: it’s encouragement and motivation, and something we could do together. I realised this morning however I don’t need to prove to anybody I can cycle 54 miles in one go. There is no need to ‘define’ a goal for my fitness like this, or ensure that people are aware that I’ve ‘achieved’ anything. This is not about a large, public display of ‘look at me people, I’m going to do this.’ I no longer shirk my fitness responsibilities, I am aware of what needs to be done. I work better when I’m not being timed, and if my PT asks me if I want to know a PB to beat, I will ALWAYS say no, because it finally happened. I stopped making this a contest. I don’t need to prove anything to anybody, except myself, and a large event where everybody else is putting me at the centre of attention is absolutely the last thing I would ever end up enjoying or excelling at.

I get why people do charity work, that raising money matters, and if this is just about fund raising I’ll write you a cheque for however much you want and hand it over, because this isn’t something I’ll ever be good at. I can be fit, do the exercise, and I can set goals now for myself that matter and are attainable, but putting me in a spotlight is just guaranteed to send me screaming away into the shadows. It is not the fitness that is the problem, it’s the ability to cope with everybody else that I can’t do, and when you add that to having to ride a bike? I do love my husband so very much, but ever since he suggested it, that’s what’s been waking me up at 5 am… it’s not the state of the World that’s getting to me, but the fear in myself.

However well you think you’re doing, it’s often never as black and white as you believe.

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Once upon a time I was frightened of running, but now I have fixed that. Cycling is fine for me in a casual capacity: I’m more than happy to ride with the family, or in the shed on Zwift, but I’m never going to enjoy it as much as my husband is, and maybe I should just tell him this straight out. I get his enjoyment because he can be alone, and push himself. I don’t like being alone. Social cycling is great, but given a choice I’d walk everywhere because I enjoy that more. Part of me is infinitely grateful he cares enough to suggest a goal and to care enough to support me with what I do. I just wish that I was able to match mental and physical strength in the same manner he does, every single day, except I can’t.

At least not yet.