Sweet Disposition

Yesterday was… the word I want to use is transformative.ย Things took place that previously would have resulted in far more emotional, negative outcomes. This time around, however, the right answers were very easy to ascertain. Often in domestic situations the truth can get lost in petty niggles or undisclosed unhappiness. Not yesterday. All paths were clear, directions easily signposted.

Old Me [TM] might have considered this some kind of bizarre divine intervention. I’m aware that Mercury is in retrograde right now, which means all of this stuff would normally be fraught with danger…except, for me, even the Universe itself does now not get to stop me doing what needs to be done. All of yesterday’s conversations, including the hour after Blaze class, were all very, VERY stress free.

They were also, and unexpectedly, massively useful for me.

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This is a journey into unexplored territory. The weekend away was much needed, but ended up as a far from perfect experience. The poetry that’s resulted from it is, let’s be honest, a bit of a revelation. I’ve got some stuff to organise going forward as a result, plus current scheduled stuffย  has become a bit backed up. It was far more important yesterday to get the personal issues dealt with above everything else.

Also, there’s the European Washing Mountain over there, bags still to be unpacked (next job on the To Do list) and a ton of other things that were never really dealt with before we went away. However, in a change to our normal lifestyle situation, a lot of those really aren’t as stressful as they were before, so in that regard a couple of days away has indeed had the required effect.

Maybe all of this really is changing for the better.

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No, seriously, the path to enlightenment does appear a bit easier to ascertain this morning. A lie in helps, sure, but just being able to get up and get started quickly and efficiently means the world. Being able to focus, all this planning and exercise, is hugely helpful. However, at the heart of it all is a new, and reassuring, belief that I am treading a new path that remains worthwhile.

Okay, less talking now and more working.

These Foolish Things

Won’t mention it here again, because thirty days of telling people you’re exercising when they’re quite happy not to is quite likely to result in losing friends. This morning is noted here for two reasons alone: I turned up, at the Gym, and had to awkwardly stand in reception until they officially opened at 10am. That’s a first. It’s also hugely satisfying when your instructor tells you she thinks you were the only person actually pushing themselves in their class.

That’s a massive compliment.

It’s two weeks before my scheduled Cholesterol and Anaemia blood tests. If I eat REALLY well and am not a complete idiot, both of those are more than likely to come back normal. If they don’t? I’ll cope.ย A month ago, that might not have been the case. A lot has changed since the start of October, mind. The biggest single problem however will not be falling off the sweet wagon. However, not a single mince pie or Christmas Pudding has passed my lips this year. NOT ONE.

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Lots to sort this evening, then it is back to rough approximation of normality tomorrow. School runs recommence on the 6th, and I’ll be making the most of every lie-in until then.

Lots of stuff will slowly begin to alter starting tomorrow.

Games People Play

The world is changing fast. Some of it is still glacial, but with the amount of melting water around the planet right now we’ll probably need a better metaphor soon… and within it all, so many wish desperately to be right, above all else.ย There are reasons why laws exist, going back to the days of the bloke with the tablets came down from aย  mountain. Human beings are fundamentally flawed. There needs to be a means by which this behaviour can be highlighted.

Law is fundamental to current existence, like it or not.

Without law, #MeToo doesn’t change women’s rights. Serious assaults are ignored, historical abuse condemned to memory. Major companies and organisations, more and more, are finding it impossible to circumnavigate climate change regulations, emissions standards, deforestation… and the list goes on. You can’t say laws matter for one thing but then they’re insignificant somewhere else. Good or bad, this is the Social Contract we all signed up for.

Except more and more, people are doing just that on their own personal platforms.

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Democracy is a hot topic right now, and I’m not going there other than with a couple of tweets and the understanding that there will be people who now believe with 100% certainty that a bunch of posh judges are taking away their democratic right to fuck out of Europe like they voted to. You have fun with that.ย The reality is so much more nuanced, subtle and complex it’s taken three years for anybody to be in a position to present a reliable version of truth. That’s where we are now.

This is the real future you voted for.

I now have to hope that the people in power who do care about the reality of our future, knee deep in water as it will be, are well aware of what needs to be done. Leave or Remain are irrelevant when you look at the facts. The PM acted illegally in order to ensure he gets a ‘democratic’ vote ratified by any means necessary. I’m sorry, that’s not how this works. That’s never how democracy has worked.

The people in power have shown themselves to be very much left wanting.

Regeneration

Never start ANY project on the first of the month. If it matters enough, procrastination won’t help. Begin when the idea strikes you, straight away. Planning can be refined about a week in. Of course, sometimes, you don’t need the organisation. Stuff just works.

I switched my 55 to a 45 Blaze for good on Wednesdays. Reasoning is simple: 55 is not helping me work hard, but teaching more how to build up stamina. Because the extra minute per zone demands a lot of work on managing energy, it’s less simple to just go flat out. This has been confirmed by lots of weeks where I’ve genuinely struggled to feel as if anything was progress. Therefore, a change was facilitated.

More importantly however I don’t (as yet) know anybody doing the 45 in this group. I was a stranger. This was an added advantage because the sense of being in contest with people you know did not exist. It helps in some ways, but hinders in others. I managed red zone time last night in combat (though not enough to register on the app) and on the treadmill, and this is something that’s not happened before. Change holds a lot of value.

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That’s a lot of yellow. More importantly, I came out of the class awake, aware and more functional than has been the case for weeks. I walked home.ย That would have been unheard of a month ago. The improvement to physical fitness is only part of the picture, however. Last night I did the whole class without my glasses on, so the worry of steaming up was alleviated. Mentally, I didn’t care about anything except effort, and it happened.

Let’s be honest, it’s the mental change that is the biggest shift, and that happened last week. Since then, everything is just a little bit brighter. I could have waited until today to start this change, but then a whole week would have been wasted by doing so.ย All the momentum I’ve built since being in a pile on the floor in the heat, crying my eyes out, would simply have been lost.

You really are the catalyst to make major change to existence.

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I also know how easy it is to ignore your own issues. It will still happen, of course. However, that likelihood’s now far less of a certainty.

The lesson has been learnt.

Wherever You Will Go

Today, we’re going to talk about learning.

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Learning is not just a grasp of information, it is a combination of many, disparate factors. Experience counts for a significant amount of the process too: how things work, so that over time you can better understand the best means to optimise and streamline processes. By far the best way to learn, is to do.ย This, for me, means a fundamental change in approach to… well, just about everything.

Firstly, it is dealing with issues as they occur. Take this morning: on the way back from the School Run, for the first time ever, my petrol warning light came on. Normally I’ve programmed myself to always ensure there’s no less than a quarter of a tank at all times. This week, I’m fatigued and other issues have deflected this base level preparedness. Looking at the dial on the car, two thoughts presented:

Go home, you’re hungry and thirsty, you can get petrol when you go out again

OR

Go find the nearest petrol station and DO IT NOW.

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This might seem odd, using summat so trivial to explain the basic trouble I have with life, but it’s a metaphor.ย Doing the right thing was, for so very long, summat that would be ignored over keeping myself safe, and by that I mean happy and unstressed. It’s always easier not to tidy up the big pile of mess and just find summat easier to deal with… which is all well and good until the sum of your mess piles overwhelms you and everything else. It’s the deadline you’ll never make, or the scary thing that never gets finished.

Failure really is no longer an option.

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You see, I’ve only just learnt that failure is less about other people and you, but more about you and other people.ย It meant I went and got petrol, then came home and did the stuff that I didn’t want to do ahead of the things I do. Learning is prioritising the importance of other people’s desires on a par with yours, and then working out how the whole thing can be harmonised. My daughter can be critical of my housekeeping skills with absolute certainty she’s right, but if she’s not practising self care and eating the lunch I give her, that’s not accepting my efforts at support.

Arguing with a 14 year old is absolutely the best way to learn and grasp your own shortcomings.

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I don’t care who you are and how much experience you claim to possess: EVERYBODY can do better right now. Whether it’s recycling, food choices, personal habits, online etiquette or just living each day in a reasonably worthwhile fashion, somewhere in your personal existence there will be room for improvement. I accept the esoteric need to learn fancy stuff like a second language, but as I’m still unable to adequately communicate in the single language known, sometimes going back to basics has merit.

What ought to happen most, it occurs to me, is the process of gentle exploration of self before anything else of significance takes place. Three people, in separate situations this week, all have suggested that mental health is the key to true learning comprehension. Maybe, if we all possessed some rudimentary mental health support during childhood or even on a regular basis in adulthood, it would become far easier to recognise the warning signs when stuff begins to go wrong.

Maybe that would make it easier for more people to recognise truth when it is presented.

This Is the Day

No Blaze today, because tomorrow is Day One of my writing event in Leeds. I’ll do an adult job of covering it on the appropriate blog, of course, but you can expect non-specific, personal wibbling here. I used to go everywhere on my own up until the birth of my son, then lots of stuff changed forever. As a result this won’t be the first time I’ve visited Leeds, but that was over twenty years ago.

One of the many jobs today is to build a number of suitable playlists for the journey up there for the car. I have foodstuffs and tea to pack, plus the possibility of knocking up some leaflets about myself. There are already business cards printed, so in that regard I’m ahead of the game for a change. What needs to happen before anything else takes place is to read the booklet about the event itself.

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My biggest single worry is blowing it in conversation. All I can do is be myself, I suppose, and think before I speak. After that, everybody else is in exactly the same situation as I am. Sure, other people will know each other, but there will be those who, like me, have come here to start a dream, or continue their training. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll find some friends here.

This is only one of multiple takeaways potentially from the weekend. The plan to change the course of my existence is well on course. Now, it is entirely up to me: make a difference, change the outlooks, start learning how to write properly. Asking the right questions will make a big difference to the helpfulness of my experience. Having other work to share will help too.

This is the start of an exciting new part of existence.

3am Eternal

I’ve left the chair on the landing so when I go buy the replacement battery shortly my tired arse does not have to drag it up and downstairs twice. THAT’S thinking ahead, kids.

Today, I’m done with my poetry project. It was gonna be yesterday, but I have some corrupted photos that need retaking and then BOOM I’m finished. I’m gonna miss the deadline for the short story contest I started writing for in March because, sometimes, you can’t do everything and it is foolish to try. What have we learnt from all this? Everything happens for a reason. Learn from every single one of them.

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This is not about the prolific output, but knowing what matters most and focusing on that. I’ve got more third party exposure in the last month on my own work than has ever happened at ANY point previously. That’s how this works. You do the miles, and you get stronger. It isn’t just via exercise. It happens everywhere. Success is measured by others in vastly different ways to your systems for notional achievement.

Remember this going forward.

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Whatever happens, here is the best period of output since this journey began.

Deliver Me

Lying awake at 2am this morning, unable to sleep, the sense of arranging a 9am PT session seemed somewhat pointless. However, as it happens, it was exactly what I needed to get the day off to a useful start. By that I mean not only am I awake, but aware of how much there is to improve on life right now. My problem, like it or not, is getting stronger.ย Fighting injury, confidence issues, body stamina and a voracious appetite is HARD WORK.

I feel there might be protein pancakes in my future this week.

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The lure of the waffle is great, mostly because SUGAR YES GIVE IT TO MEย and so looking for ways to squash that desire have become a priority. The ‘eat little and often’ regime is one I can totally ascribe to. As a result a second breakfast today was pretty much essential this morning, but with an afternoon bike ride on the cards, it’ll all even out.

Also today, my lunchtime fruit will be rhubarb FROM MY OWN PLANTS \o/

UPDATE: tasted amazing.

This has made me insanely happy.

The World is Not Enough

The news today is full of BritBox: the collaboration between BBC and ITV which will undoubtedly see a ton of shows quietly withdrawn via other streaming platforms as the memo is read that TV’s future no longer lives in that box in the corner of your living room.ย Sure it’s the TV with Victoria’s face on it that dominates their splash screen currently, but acknowledging that phones, PC’s and tablets even exist as entertainment delivery devices is a massive, humongous step forward for terrestrial TV.

The world is changing too fast for these companies to ignore: if the customer surveys I increasingly get sent by Sky TV are any indicator, they absolutely see Amazon and Netflix as the only competition going forward. It’s not just TV either: behold the advert for a new team kit and ‘brand’ from, of all people, a county cricket team most people won’t even rate as decent. In fact, they got relegated to Division 2 of the County Championship last year, which presumably prompted this fairly radical change. Bricks as wickets, indeed.

Advertising is changing too. Once upon a time this would have been a poster or an advert in a newspaper, but nobody does that any more. It has to exist on a phone, in your hand on a train, and that means digital media.ย The choice of location for the ad is, I assume, Oxford, and could very well have been made using an iPhone: there is no need to employ sophisticated video editing like the Durham boys did. Anybody can be a star, and lots of people are. This is the future, where all that is needed to jump on a bandwagon is software and imagination.

It’s an amazing time for somebody like me, whose only restriction is the time available to make things come alive. It gives considerable pause for thought too: what might be possible on these platforms, what could be achieved with only the minimum amount of outlay. Undoubtedly the future is image as well as words, so how do you make the optimum use of both and still find the means to make a living…

Watch this Space…

Lies

With the virtual world awash with fake news and unconfirmed rumour, navigating the Internet’s never been more fraught. How can we tell what’s real and what isn’t? In most cases, I use more than one ‘impartial’ news sources for a confirmation on big stories: Reuters, the Associated Press and the BBC News sites may not be everybody’s providers of choice, but if all three are simultaneously flagging up breaking news, that’s normally a good indicator of actual validity… if it happens in a country that is not mine (as was the case with the US pipe bomber story) then national news in that country is the way to follow things as they develop.

However, accepting that nothing read online as fact is becoming the far more sensible default state. Yes, you’ll encounter experts in your travels, and I’m not belittling anything such people say, but honestly you should start fact checking. Wikipedia isn’t bulletproof, but there are third part sites that can help separate wheat from chaff. There has been a story circulating on Facebook (for instance) suggesting a supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park is ready to erupt (a la the movie 2012) for… well, a long time. It’s all complete bollocks, part of a slew of urban myths and legends buried ‘in the cloud.’

However, there are more insidious lies being told of late that I find increasingly disturbing.

Twitter thinks it can fool me, but I know better.ย It doesn’t help that I run three separate accounts through my phone, and that on one there’s a lot more followers than the other two. This means that the phone thinks when I’ve read something the night before, I might want to follow that person the next day via the other accounts… that’s not how this works, and you know it isn’t.ย It’s like telling me 126 people I am friends with retweeted this picture and therefore why don’t I want to do the same? This is not organic engagement, algorithm. I see through your ploy. GO AWAY.

I knew that inbuilt paranoia would finally have some use.

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There’s a bigger issue here, of course: laziness.ย You wanna look like you’re up with news and current events, so you like all that stuff, and retweet those things… and after a while it is easier to let the AI think for you. Except, we all know how that ends up working out. Writers create dystopia for a reason, and a lot of it is wrapped up in those for whom fake news is easier to swallow, whose opinions don’t seem to mesh with the majority. For every individual shocked at the depths of depravity others can sink to, there’ll be someone seeing how much worse they can manage and still get away with it.

Welcome to human nature, which is only as restricted as the information that gets crammed into the average brain. With the Internet as our playground and AI the arbiters of space, time and knowledge…

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This is also where those of us who have mental shortcomings need to get quite tough, and the more sensitive or vulnerable to suggestion end up as prime vehicles for exploitation. It should not be a surprise that it is AI driving negative rhetoric either, it is a perfect vehicle for such dissemination. If you cannot distinguish noise from imitation, blocking out everything is just easier and less stressful, yet along the way a vital level of rationalisation simply withers up and dies. The truth can (and will) set you free but only if you are capable of distinguishing it from everything else that’s masquerading as the exact same thing.

When trustworthy companies intentionally blur the lines of truth to improve their third quarter figures and throw shade at their competition, we should be up in arms, but time and again, it never happens. There is a reckoning coming, like it or not, and it will end up with large groups of people happily sending themselves into wilful oblivion, probably based on a Facebook Poll which secretly took their assent by making them click on pictures of cute animals. As we stand in the smoking, dystopian remains of the planet, yet again, we will only have ourselves to blame.

Stop letting the Internet lie to you, because it is.