bury a friend

I’m trying to make friends with people. It’s tough. Once upon a time, all that mattered was similar interests… which is why so many of the people I consider as friends right now are tied together by a love of gaming. A couple of bad experiences in the last year have made me realise that even in places that feel like safe spaces, people can be selfish, arrogant fuckers. There is no escaping that. It just happens.

Then, there’s moments like yesterday. You think someone is becoming a friend, and then something happens and all there is for you is uncertainty and confusion. How do I make this work? Do you lie to hold the person there, or is the truth what matters most? I’m really too old for this shit, when all is said and done. I’ve never been great at being anything other than myself. So, honesty or death it is.

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No, I said HONESTY Eddie, you know cake is off the menu.

The whole concept of friendship’s an odd one. There’s already a person to share my life with, and has been for decades. You don’t need to have someone there 24/7 either or else there are dependency issues that really don’t need to take place. Dealing with loneliness is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, and ultimately it is getting easier, mostly because of the coping behaviours that are now in place.

Knowing how to deal with yourself is something a lot of people could do with working at, it occurs to me. Having been, at various points yesterday, emotionally manipulated, massively complimented and used as an example of how to do things right… there’s never really a point where everything is 100% in your hands, however much you may consider life to be otherwise.

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It seems to me that the best way to measure success is via achievement, in these cases. If I see someone on Wednesday night, yesterday’s conversation went better than expected. If I don’t hear anything from somebody else for a while, I’ll consider my actions a success. At all points in between, the calls will just have to be made and if it’s out of my hands, so be it.

Reassurance can also be taken from the fact that it’s been quite some time since I was the one causing drama. That’s the most positive, comforting change in all of this. The longer that fact remains, the happier everything becomes. Once you realise where a problem began, everything becomes so much easier to rationalise. Then, it’s just a case of keeping on top of what alters going forward.

Honesty really is the way forward.

Big Time

This week’s been fucking mental, it has.

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The 5 of 7 days with exercise is working out quite nicely: ideally I should break on Tuesday instead of Sunday, which is easily fixed going forward. Thus far, Fitbit has recorded 369 active minutes and we’re only at Saturday lunchtime. Steady momentum, meet consistency. I’ve today also exceeded the MEP totals of September and August: not combined, obviously, but this will put me back on track for real progress.

With 12 days left this month, I’ll end up doing summat for at least nine of them.

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There are a number of key moments to cover: the most important came on Thursday night. That block of eight minutes may not look like much to you, but it represents an important realisation that if I wanna push, it’s there. The key is wanting to do so: eating better is definitely helping. Rest is absolutely vital, and making Tuesday one of my two days will make a huge difference. The biggest shift undoubtedly is psychological.

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The other key change this week is strength, and actual muscle mass. One of my favourite coats is now simply too small to go around my shoulders: arms are being forces to sit back from my chest thanks to improvement in arm definition and bulk. I could do with a couple of leg days as a result, if I’m honest, and Sunday will probably be the right time to go flex the running muscles a bit. I’m back to leg pressing 100kg, which is great.

Lungs continue to be the major sticking point in stamina, and cardio will always be my Kryptonite. It’s not a problem: sometimes, accepting shortcomings is the means by which you are able to become better regardless. I’m not winning any sprints any time soon, but response times are undoubtedly improving. The equation is all wrapped around active recovery, and that’s an ability that is is undoubtedly getting better over time.

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It’s important to note that Thursday and Monday’s sessions (above) were both at 75% effort but the output was a fair bit different. Undoubtedly fatigue will have had a hand in events. Again, rest and common sense need to be considered… but most vitally, I need to think less. This is becoming genuinely enjoyable, not just in single session, but every fucking time I walk in the Gym.

When did I alter? That’s easy: in a hospital bed. Alone, lonely and desperately tired, I found myself being grateful for the fitness already built or else I would never have been let go in three days. There was a quiet and determined promise made, early on a Saturday morning, as a woman lay opposite me, crying her eyes out. As long as I am capable, there will always be exercise, because this not only keeps me sane but helps me cope with the World right now. Without it, I would be broken.

It’s great to be strong. I love being strong. Long may strong continue.

Come Home Billy Bird

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Last night I pulled out a half-finished NaNoWriMo idea from a while ago and read it though, just to reassure myself that writing skills have improved sufficiently for me to have a decent chance of finishing this year’s work. As it transpires, the thing’s pretty good in terms of plotting and direction, just weighed down by a sense of misguided self-importance.

That can easily be fixed as things go along.

The same goes for my poetry project: current focus is not about producing work that fits somebody else’s criteria. They either like my voice, or they don’t, simple as that. The last few months of 2019 are not about me stressing over whether ideas or outlook fits somebody else’s agenda. I am here to rediscover the fun that exists within the process of writing.

It’s going pretty well thus far.

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No really, actual work is getting done. It’ll be talked about more on the writing blog, because that’s what the thing is there for. For now however, this is a really good place mentally for me, considering how bad a spot we were potentially heading for last week. It is possible to alter outlook. You just have to want the outcome enough. In this case, there’s a real desire to change a lot of my life for good.

Let’s see what can be reinvented with what is available, shall we?

Different Class

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It is well established that ‘people’ are frightened of things they do not understand: that list can become quite long when they put their minds to it. This is apparent every time I strap on a heart-rate monitor and hit the Gym: Complexity is a killer, as is effort expended when all that needs to be achieved is to turn up and break a sweat. The notion of effort’s a curious thing, all told. When do you know it’s hard enough?

Having broken that barrier a while ago, effort’s an ability in flux right now. The unexpected consequence of this extends out into other places too: not thinking twice over activities that previously would have caused all manner of anxieties. When you know there’s a palpable difference between how you react to things as opposed to most others around you? Your world view matters a great deal.

It also affects the amount of energy available to deal with any consequences.

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Mental effort’s a killer for me: ten minutes in certain people’s company is the cranial equivalent of running a marathon. Now this is apparent, avoiding the stress becomes easier with each passing day. The key is identifying what it is that causes such issues in the first place: once it’s clear what or who is causing the issues, eliminating that will entirely depend on your ability to cope with the environment around you.

There’s a realisation this morning that I lied to a lot of people in my past because their negative effect on my well-being was worth avoiding. However, more importantly, I then fail to keep up the good friendships because of the need to feel and act self-sufficiently in certain situations. This life things’ quite a delicate balance, when all is said and done. It can often be exhausting just keeping up with the basic stuff.

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Before you say owt, I know I’m not that different. However, there is quite a gap sometimes between the people around me and how my brain deals with daily existence. This isn’t intentional either: perhaps it is time to use these distinctions as a means to fuel creativity. That is certainly emerging in this month’s poetry project, and in the last week I’ve been able to funnel emotions in differing directions.

Perhaps this is a side road that is at least worth investigation.

Melody of Love

Putting in the work provides rewards. WHO KNEW?

My Blaze mentality is changing. Red numbers are for other people to fret about. The staff have a poem of mine now, which makes it abundantly clear I didn’t just sign up to this for the physical benefits of exercise. Yes, I’m pushing to improve my attainment and YES that’s utterly happening, but outside the Strength, Combat and Treadmill Zones. You want to give people the experience of being better? They have to do the work.

I’ll be over here, doing just that.

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What you can’t see right now and only I can feel is the physical change to ability and stamina. I’m not getting tired lifting stuff. I can run without needing to hold onto the treadmill. However, when exhaustion hits BOY does it do that. This isn’t a problem per se, just means there needs to be some pacing along the way. It’ll happen, I’ve got months to work this shit out. It’s the stuff in-between that now matters more.

The negatives have been a game changer. The other thing you can’t see either is my waistline, that when I look down at the scales in the morning there’s nothing obscuring my feet any more. Waistline is shrinking, stomach flattening, and that alone is worth all the stress and pain. However, the biggest indicator of effort happens when I can’t see it, and that’s just brilliant.

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My sleep pattern, pretty much shot since the menopause began, is showing slow signs of recovery. The harder I work, the better it gets. One assumes this is as a result of physical effort requiring more downtime to recover from, and therefore the rest of my body (and brain) benefits from the experience. I was tired this morning, not mentally which is normally the case but in legs that are now moving past maintenance and into summat far more interesting.

I am totally ready for this next step forward.

Golden Brown

Hello July.

I could have come home and started working today but as it happens, going to the Gym was my first choice, so summat major’s changed between last week and this. I know exactly what it is: back muscles are no longer an issue. The long-term, historic pain from lower part of my spine that’s existed since an epidural slipped during Emergency C-Section for Child #1 is no longer bothering me.

Sure, it’s still a niggle, but now there’s back strength that did not exist before. That’s because I’m practising negatives for a couple of key exercises, both of which I cannot do well. Sit ups have always been a problem because of that lower back weakness, and if I want to start doing pull ups any time soon, my push up game needs some serious beefing up. Therefore, I’ve been following a particular plan of action.

I’ll warm up, then it’s off to a mat to do three lots of negative push ups, with three lots of ten negative sit ups in between. My PT will attest that body weight exercises are probably the most important thing you will ever do to build sustainable core strength, but for me it is the shoulder improvements the push ups are highlighting that’s the more useful takeaway.

Where the sit ups help enormously is when running, where what used to be an enormous physical effort is being quietly reduced both in stress and heart-rate. I’m noticing the difference as stamina kicks in too, that what used to be frantic out of breathness reduces slowly to controlled, far less panicky lung balance. We’ll do a comparable bike session this evening to see how much that’s improved in the last month too.

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The temptation for many people when trying to improve their physical shape is to go all out and wear themselves out without managing the other elements of a decent exercise regime: proper food and rest. That means that I’m trying my hardest not to snack for the next 31 days, whilst provisioning rest days in a different way. This month, that part of the equation should not be a problem at all.

I’ll be out of the country for one weekend, at a conference for another plus there’s a couple of other occasions when going to the Gym is simply not practical. Out of 31 days, eight are already marked out as booked. So, it’s time to get the planner out and provision what happens between the downtime. I don’t think what I’ve organised is unreasonable, and it’s certainly not out of my comfort zone. I just need to stick to it.

Planning works for the writing, so let’s see if I can stick to it when exercise is introduced into the equation. Now it’s online, I’m accountable and it has to happen.

Let’s see how it goes.

Look Away

When I began dealing with my own mental shortcomings, I was asked to provide a description of how life felt for me at that point. I described a room with sixteen walls, with me trapped inside. On each wall was a mirror: they weren’t there for me to look into, but to reflect back my own shortcomings. There was no way out.

As each week has passed, a mirror’s been smashed. The fear of bad luck is irrelevant, old wives tales summarily ignored and passed by. Behind frames have been rewards: sometimes a door into a dusty room, not lived in or seen for sometimes decades. Occasionally it’s just been a phrase in my own handwriting, written then forgotten.

Then, last week, a mirror was broken that proved this room is actually a building.

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For a week I was outside myself for the first time in many years, existing in a green, warm space that had been largely forgotten. The building is still there though, there’s walls left where mirrors should not be. However, one remains intact, and that’s the one which reflects back my own need to be true to this new, but old, person.

Once upon a time, so much would scare me. Things would create chaos and fear in my mind: what would people think of me if I was myself? It was impossible to distinguish these multiple reflections from the person I really was. Sometimes, I still get fooled and undoubtedly going forward, this will still happen.

However, it’s not going to destroy what’s been rediscovered.

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That means, going forward, that I’ll be far more willing to explain what bothers me. If you upset me and I feel it worthwhile, you’ll know why that was. There will be no more passive aggressive behaviour, either. I default to kind whenever possible, but if you turn up and don’t contribute anything of value? Sorry, there are better people to talk to.

Life is far too short to get hung up on the non-contributors. If you’d like to matter and be part of my life going forward, turn up prepared to give your all, 100%. I don’t have time for all that shit any more, and if the future is to be built away from that old building, and it will be, the darkness beneath it must be forgotten forever.

This is my life now, and I am never going back.