What Have I Done to Deserve This?

I’m beginning to lose patience with Social media again. It will, undoubtedly, be the reason I never truly make it ‘big’ because I refuse, point-blank, to be the person who does it the way is either a) right or b) the way everybody else does. I am c) fuck you on every single answer when it comes to this game at present, especially to those people who turn up, realise I’m not here to help them, and fuck off again.

There’s a lot of that going on at the moment.

I’m seeing people belittle others with increasing frequency too, as if life has somehow become an exercise in making it your job to be righteous. Nobody is suggesting you can’t live your life in the way it matters to you, but if that means denying other people of help and support that might help them live better lives… that’s where you need to check your privilege.

This is faith. I know a lot of individuals would (and have) bristle at that use of the word. However, like it or not, if there’s something you believe and you cannot adequately either explain it to anyone else or it is an experience that you alone have gone through and it has fundamentally altered your outlook on life… well…

I have a number of friends who walk with a god. There’s not just one, as has been established in history, but quite a few flavours of religion. Their preferred faith is no different to those who look to the ancient teachings of Shamen or Druids for guidance. Everybody has a means to connect themselves to the here and now, the key to progress is accepting that they are ALL valid, in one way or another. You respect them all.

This also means the fascists, like it or not, have a facet of validity within them. Yes I really did type that because in a world where increasing numbers of people seem to care about nothing except themselves, hating people who are not in the image you ascribe as perfect is no different in a certain light to pronouncing other people’s lifestyle choices are unsound, based on your own prescribed beliefs.

The Universe however is far larger than you will ever be.

Once upon a time, validation was very important to me from other people. I know the exact moment when that changed, and in a certain light I could see how other people might consider that as a religious experience. Of course, because I have no idea of what that really is for anyone else, there is no benchmark to measure on… and yet, here I am, trying to do just that.

This is not about being right. This should never be about waving words around like vindication, except now everyone has a cause that they need to champion, a fight that needs to be undertaken. Not everything is a Holy War, except on Social media, where everything nearly always is. It’s exhausting, and at some point people are going to get hurt.

It will be mental health that ends up as the biggest casualty, without doubt.

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Friedrich Nietzsche’s doctrine of Eternal Recurrence gets a lot of time in my brain, for reasons that will be unsurprising to those who know me well. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it is the quote that really matters however (which was George Santayana, a Spanish Philosopher and NOT Churchill, who paraphrased as all good politicians are wont to do.)

It is continually depressing to watch Social media implode over the latest indignation and learn nothing from the experience. Educating people on how not to repeat the issues is, undoubtedly, a hit-and-miss affair. However, what it clearly highlights is who is paying attention, and sometimes, as has been the case on several occasions today, it’s apparent that the people I thought were listening to me really aren’t.

Yet again, I’m stanning the wrong people.

I don’t expect you to hang on my every word, it’s not devotion in return that’s crave, but looking as if you actually read what is written would be a start. Before I’d just put it down to people being busy, but now understanding of the platform and who uses it is a real eye-opener. You can literally work out who is talking AT you, without them grasping any of your hard work, and it is.

This is my home now, and I’m taking Social media far more seriously than you people who just turned up to use it as promotion. I live AND work here, you just try and coat-tail trends to keep people engaged. There’s a WORLD of difference between being professional and being honest. I can do both, easily now without thinking. These people struggle with one. I don’t need to stan them.

They should be fucking stanning me, because they’d actually learn summat.

It is time, yet again, to reorganise the Socials. I think I’m gonna be quite brutal in the cull.

Let’s see who actually notices this time.

How Do You Feel

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I’m trying to help my 12 year old learn the basics of constructive criticism. This is, it transpires, as hard for me as it is for her because communication between us is, at times, quite difficult. We’re both suffering from differing cases of hormones, subjective social pressures and fatigue. Finding the right moment to discuss things is boiling down to snatched instants when both of us are capable and receptive. It takes two people to learn, after all, and both must listen and think for it to successfully happen. However, this morning’s impromptu brainstorm was as productive for her as it was me… probably me more, as it happens, because instead of miring myself in adjective and example, I simply said what I felt.

This is something I’ve never been good at doing.

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The reasons for this are mired in a past where professionally my voice had minimal to zero importance in the workplace. In the end I decided I didn’t care and simply took the pay check: learning to stay silent became a skill that was truly excelled at. Only when I left to have kids did it register that this wasn’t the answer, or indeed a long term solution to anything, and in the following sixteen and a bit years, finally, that voice has been rediscovered. However, early lessons have not been forgotten. Prioritising things can be tough in early mornings and late nights, when additional pockets of stress erupt or appear unexpectedly.Β  You ‘normal’ people just sail through this, and like to point out to those of us struggling how bad we are at communicating our intent. We know. The irony is, at least in part, is that as a defence mechanism I’ve become supremely competent at simply reflecting back what is thrown at me.

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Self preservation is a funny thing, when you break it down. I really would love a quiet life but there comes a point where saying nowt serves to amplify the problem. When someone looks to you for answers, it is your duty to at least form an opinion and express it, or else what is the point of being here to begin with? This morning’s lessons were simple: make a point, ensure you’re happy that your perception has been registered, and be ready to have it ignored, acknowledged or embraced, depending on the person you are addressing. After that, being right is not the point. Every opinion is valid, however out there or apparently dumb somebody else might consider it. As long as you can support that with facts, context from your source material, then the floor is yours to hold.

For my daughter, there is pressure apart from school that I am also beginning to grasp. SnapChat groups Group Text chats are everything: where once I only had the playground and a telephone (one conversation at a time) now there are hundreds of multiple discourses happening, all which need to be considered as part of a whole. This is one of the reasons why I refuse to hop on Discords, and why I hate group chat channels. I can’t cope well with more than about three voices, I discovered after many years of Raid Leading. It is simply a skill I don’t possess and it is better left to those with that ability to control and direct. Absolutely my best work comes on a one to one basis, because of the amount of sensory information that gets lost as numbers increase. Knowing this can make Twitter an utter disaster area, as I am still finding to my cost.

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How I feel on any given day boils down to how well everything gets shoved into my head during in the first hour. It is why a good breakfast routine has become invaluable in setting me up for the day ahead. Most importantly of all, my confidence grows from an understanding that I no longer need other people to acknowledge my existence. If a mistake is made in someone else’s eyes, I know only too well that I’ll be told. I do my utmost when this happens to ensure that criticism and comment is taken on board but if after careful consideration I believe such comment is unwarranted…? There will be further discussion. Then, of course, there are the moments when your ‘thing’ is so trivial and pointless you wonder why on earth the fuss was made to begin with… and there is life, a series of random interactions. The truth for me, at least right now, is to make sure that every word I spoke can be justified as sound and fair in my own mind.

If I manage that, it truly is a marvellous day indeed.

The Old Songs :: Four

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I didn’t get as much sleep as I would have liked Saturday, or indeed Sunday. I woke up full of nerves. Instead of riding to the site (which would have added extra miles to the total) the car was driven back to the Festival, and bikes unpacked. The enormity of what I’d taken on registered as I pinned a number to my chest: 3971. Remember, this isn’t a race. There is no prize except the satisfaction of riding. You’re going to do 25 miles and enjoy the journey.

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The first achievement? Not falling off at the start, which was over a nasty set of concrete slabs laid into the starting field. Then came the early ride down a narrow trail, surrounded by other riders… and the previous day’s concern about stability melted away, even allowing me to overtake others. I however failed at the first serious hill and had to walk the bike up, but managed the next one. Most of the problems in that regard are to do with not understanding how my gears work. When I do this next year (and I will) I’ll have an instruction plate strapped to my handlebars to remind me what lever does which thing. I’ll just be the same as a Post it note on my PC screen when I’m learning a new Warcraft boss fight.

I really didn’t take time to look at the scenery much until about 15 miles in, when Mr Alt stopped to help a guy with a puncture. Then I was reminded, for the second time that weekend, just how amazingly beautiful the Peak District is. It is also full of hills that are a pain to get up but, at least for me, more frightening to hurtle down. There are the remains of blisters on both hands as I clung onto brakes for grim death, despite husband’s repeated suggestions I do anything but. I think that might take a bit of getting used to, or the reassurance of a helmet next year. The race does not make helmets compulsory but strongly advises them regardless: many people found inventive ways of disguising theirs in order not to break immersion.

The first comfort stop was at 17 miles, in a beautiful village called Monyash. I’d expected to have to buy our own food, and was surprised when I discovered a lunch provided and free beer for anyone who wanted it. However, the highlight for me was the Brass Band, who played an amazingly eclectic selection of modern music and classics.

After a Cheese and Pickle roll, sausage roll, banana and the most amazing Bakewell Flapjack we were off again. This was the scariest part of the course, where at one point Mr Alt lost his GoPro because terrain was so rocky, and I was forced off my bike to walk… which means I found it and was able to hand the thing back. After that it was plain sailing, with another stop to help inflate a second flat tyre. With the finish in sight I remembered weeks of PT training, and found some energy in my legs to do a sprint finish with the husband, much to the delight of the watching crowd. That, for me, was the most amazing part of it all: after miles I’d not prepared or trained for, legs could still do the extra work.

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I am ridiculously proud of my achievement, but realise it pales into insignificance when placed next to my husband’s: he downgraded from the 100 miles to ride with me. He took time to coach me up hills and to explain how I could ride better. There was no thought to stopping when other people were in mechanical distress, and his extra inner tubes and gas cylinders for quickly refilling tyres were given without thought. Most importantly of all, we crossed the finishing line together.

I still haven’t processed all of this weekend. There’s still so much to grasp in terms of how to improve, what I’d do to make the experience feel more comfortable… and how bike riding needs to become a part of the exercise routine. My legs are covered with scratches and bruises, but heart is stronger than I’ve felt for a very long time. Achievement is a great thing, but matters not one jot if one does not use it as a step upwards to something better. That is the plan: onwards and forever upwards.

The only limiting factor now is my ability to ride a bike.

At Last

In the middle of the second week of Mindfulness meditation this morning, I burst into tears. I have no idea where the emotion came from: I was focussed (I thought) and only worrying about my breathing, when suddenly BANG. I had to stop as my nose immediately started running and I was conscious of dribbling snot all over my legs. I ended up sitting on the kitchen floor, bawling my eyes out, but there was no anger or frustration in any part of what was, at that point, a very relaxed body. I’d just come out of 40 minutes of yoga and it seemed the right moment to continue the Course.

It’s taken a walk and a sports massage to grasp what I was feeling at that point was relief.

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I’ve spent a lot of my life being very, very angry. It has taken many years to realise that I was the one in control of my life, and that if I allowed others to dictate that path, there would only be tears. Once I began to choose my own direction, things slowly began to fall into place and now, on an unsettled Tuesday in March, a fundamental understanding has appeared. It is okay to be me. It’s one of those phrases you see people throw around, that from time to time appears in inspirational quotes from robot Twitter feeds. People say it and they’re just words, because that’s a good thing to tell someone who doesn’t seem comfortable in their own skin. To believe those words, however, is something else entirely.

It has been nearly two decades since I last wore make up. A number of people have suggested I should try it to ‘feel better about myself’ and only now I understand what that actually means. I have nothing but respect and admiration for the women who can apply it to look flawless, who can become all manner of different, beautiful beings just with their own hands and a few items. The process never sat well with me, I felt uncomfortable and wrong. When I couldn’t cope with what I was, the last thing I needed was pretend any more. Now I’ve found comfort in myself, comes the realisation there need not be anything other than what I am becoming to be happy.

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I’ll talk about the Mindfulness course in more detail later in the week, but suffice it to say it’s the best Β£30 I’ve spent on anything for a very long time. If people are concerned with looks, I can entirely understand the importance of that mindset, but right now what matters more are the feelings, which no longer have to be hidden or disguised as something else. It’s a privileged position to be in too, of that there is no doubt, and as a result I’m not going to make too much more of this than a blog post. I realise just how lucky I am to be able to do this, that the time and space exists to allow my consciousness a chance to finally expand and contract.

Today will be remembered for quite some time to come.

Not a Job

 

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My daughter, it transpires, is not a fan of Feminism, and instead thinks we should have Everyone-ism as a concept. Everybody’s equal, regardless of sex, race and ability, and you take care of those who can’t whilst encouraging those who are capable to do more. Women shouldn’t need a day to highlight their existence. That should happen every day, regardless of circumstance. She’s absolutely right, of course. Men are not my enemy.Β Stupid people are, greedy people, plus those who try and lie and cheat their way into things that should not be theirs. Those who destroy the environment and start wars, who profit from exploitation and vulnerability. If the majority of those individuals end up being men, it is hardly fair to then accuse everyone in the gender base of the same crimes, and yet many women do, because in their own way they are as blinkered as the opposite sex they target.

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Days like today often end in a fight for precisely this reason: stupidity wins. Nobody thinks, everybody reacts and out come all the toys from collective prams. Throwing words like ‘victim’ and ‘shaming’ at those who do not seem to understand is not the answer either, because sometimes the truth is not easily identified as right and wrong. As we discussed yesterday, people invest a lot of personal relevance into social media, and when I start talking in generalities many people won’t and can’t see it is just that. There are those who will relate all instances of abuse to their own personal situation, regardless of detail. Victims will seek out other victims for reassurance, and sometimes this isn’t helpful, especially as individual incidents can vary wildly from person to person. However, on the flip side, I understand how important it is make people talk and reach outward instead of in, and this is where life becomes incredibly tricky to balance.

Reality and truth are what is really needed, and it can be really difficult in a virtual environment to reliably separate these from fictions of all varieties.

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I’ve mentioned before that my mental health ‘credentials’ have been doubted by people in the past, that some will naturally assume that a certain kind of woman will ‘play’ the victim card for her own nefarious ends. I’ve lost a significant number of female followers over the years for refusing to compromise on how I feel, for being what I am, good and bad, in public. In fact, I know full well certain people consider me ‘dangerous’ as a result. I was reminded yesterday of one person who made efforts to try to make me remove other people from my own Followers list because she deemed them unsuitable as mutual friends…Β  and then I laugh, because it isn’t just my own sex controlling and manipulating, quite the opposite, and we go back to the assertion that it isn’t gender that’s the problem, but bad people that are.

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The reason we get a National Pie Week is for manufacturers to sell more pies. The reason why we have an International Women’s Day is to remind the planet that gender equality is still not a basic human right and should be, alongside education and healthcare and food and water… and that’s before we get to torture, slavery, subjugation and all the other shit bad people do to the half of our society who act as carriers of the next generation. Without women? No men, or Humanity, but that means that if women don’t want to have children they’re not broken, or if they choose to challenge male authority they’re a radical. THEY’RE JUST DIFFERENT. This is your daily reminder that people (those sheep over there) are afraid of things they do not understand.Β This is the one day a year where I get to explain this, and stand a better than average chance someone might be listening.

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Conversely this is also the day that certain wags decide to ask for an International Men’s Day, complain that women have too much of a say to begin with, and that their lovely fragile male egos are all bruised and damaged as a result. Seriously, we understand the impingement of your masculinity only too well, you tell us about it every fucking day. This is what it’s like to have to live your life: nothing is easy, we all have to work for what we want, get over yourselves already. If everybody was just equal, none of this would be a problem, and our entire society would function with considerably more love and respect from the ground upwards. As that isn’t the case, today is still Wednesday, and if you just want to carry on as if the World is not burning around you? A hastag and a blog post won’t matter anyway.

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For me, however, today was the day when I realised that I don’t want to be considered a feminist any more. I don’t care about ascribing to a movement that pushes for equality but won’t allow women to do what they wish with their bodies. The choice is not anyone else’s to make but your own. If you can’t grasp that, you’re the one doing it wrong, and I want no part of your stupid, pointless rantings. You’re no better than the people you’re arguing against, frankly, and I am done with your stupid.

I’d just like a series of days where everybody learns to get along.