Strange Days

DAY 2: Everything is out of place. I feel like brain’s been rifled through by unseen hands and all the important stuff moved to different places, which forces thought and time between what were normally easy actions. Blaze class this morning has been cancelled. Yes, it could be done, but not to the standard that is normally possible, and this is something that’s not being done by halves. The scheduled stuff needs to wait, too, as this has to be written first.

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It is all a bit *crinkles face* difficult today. Not hard, or painful or stressful, just difficult. Having to concentrate on what keys get pressed to form words. Feeling parts of my body that have clearly never vanished but now appear to be more sensitive. Having to listen really hard to conversations or requests… but beneath all this, undoubtedly, there’s a vitality and strength that has only recently emerged. Body’s working really well here, now all that has to happen is to connect that to a fully working brain…

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This is cold turkey from a sugar addiction. It makes me really glad I’ve never have to do this from prescription drugs, or indeed any drug, because if this is the result just from sugar… HOOOOO BOOOOY. Previously I’ve not gone the full hog. I’d cheat even before I begun, but yesterday’s nothing at all hasn’t been nearly the shock expected. Today is the first day of Huel too, which is making me wonder whether doing this is a good idea or not.

Fuck it. You never know until you try.

Let’s Get Physical

I did think this week would end up as significant. There’s been something in the air for a while. Maybe it is because of the inevitability of hard work, that eventually if you allow willing minds the opportunity to grasp progress on their own terms… or perhaps it was simply the right time for all this shit to come together. Who knows. Sitting here I feel different, from top of head to soles of feet. Feet particularly are in a good place right now, which means that all that running must actually be having a positive effect.

In fact, I’m putting serious thought to going and doing some more after this.

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The desire to run seems to be quite complex. I’m not off, Forrest Gump stylee, instead it’s the foundations of making the sessions count. Also, it has an almost instant effect on my waistline, which is no bad thing. That’s not just about the exercise either. Looking at my food logging over the last week, there’s been a comprehension leap. Plus *cough* I rather enjoy it *cough* so maybe that is what should matter the most.

What that does mean is that this weekend, a long overdue review of running playlists will be undertaken, and some new music inserted into the ears. If mentally this about moving forward, that should embrace some new tunes along the way…

We Used to Be Friends

This is going to be quite hard to write, but it needs to be said.

I seem to outlast the people I care about. Right now, there are two lovely female friends who look after me, check on my welfare and health, and listen when things get tough. Without them, my life would be beyond miserable. There is my husband, of course, who remains my best friend by some way. After that, things get a bit murky and indistinct, because… well, I dunno, to be honest. 

A lot of the people I care passionately about have simply vanished.

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There’s effort, of course: trying to remember birthdays and Christmas, recalling the times when you were there because they needed someone, but ultimately they’ve gone. This year, of the dozens of lovely birthday greetings received, the most notably absent were those from those people I wished would remember, but never do. They did once upon a time, yet those moments are now history. Then it hit me.

I’ve moved on.

You have no obligation to anyone else unless it suits you. Finding real friends (especially male ones) is a particularly fraught exercise anyway right now, because of the obvious minefield of possibility that having someone you feel comfortable with presents. The thing is, male friends are what I yearn for the most. You can’t just conjure up trust and belief at a distance either. Asking for friendship is great, but only if the other person grasps what that really means.

I miss that a great deal indeed.

The truth of course is that this is the reason why it never works. All you single guys want to sleep with me, and when it becomes apparent that isn’t going to happen, all bets are off. The married ones can’t be friends with me because their wives will assume we’re having an affair. I’d love to not be some time in the last Century when it comes to all of this shit but it appears other people dictate those rules and not me.

It doesn’t help of course that the previous paragraph is bollocks, yet the same things happen over and over again. ‘You can talk to me about anything’ becomes convenient on their terms and not yours. If you give the ‘no, I really do just want to be mates’ speech a phenomenal number of blokes simply lose interest. I know this because of the last dozen or so male friendships I’ve attempted to instigate, every single one conforms to Billy Crystal’s assertion. 

Maybe it is time to stop looking and accept what I’m asking for doesn’t exist.

The Winner Takes it All

On the To Do list is to make some headers using imagery from the Italy trip, but that involves me getting around to uploading the pictures to Flickr. It’ll happen, probably some time next week when I plan everything a bit more precisely.

I have been very surprised since returning from holiday at how my perception of the world appears to have subtly altered. I’ve read a couple of really difficult articles in the last few days too: how the menopause destroyed a woman’s whole existence plus stories of the people who died in the Genoa bridge disaster (the same bridge we marvelled at just over two weeks ago when crossing it.) All of this has distilled together, and Ruth’s tweet this morning sparked a train of thought that now demands some attention: why can’t we just be happy with what we have?

It’s a classic tale: you’re healthy, can feed yourself and don’t have to worry about how normal life pans out, and yet everybody’s aspiring to be somewhere else. There’s no desperate rush to get anywhere and yet we all tear headlong into each new thing without thought for consequences. The diet that we thought was great for us at the time then turns out to be less than stellar, or the game we play is boring because we consumed all the content far too fast in the first place. Then, rather that look to ourselves as the reason for all this, it is simply easier to blame someone else.

None of this is news, or any surprise when viewed in the History of Human Behaviour. There is a fixation in us all of our point of current existence: the stuff at either side of this, or at points in future (or past) is very easy to forget. Focusing on now however has multiple consequences: for our kids, for instance, who have their whole lives ahead to live and are unlikely to remember a lot of what happened as kids, unless it is traumatic. The individual perceptions of benefit and pain are also so subjective that what some people might think of as the depths of depression are quite normal operating parameters for someone else.

Then, when asked on top of all of this to present answers to questions like ‘what do I aspire to’ it would be very easy to just say what everybody else does to feel part of the whole, or aspire to be in a position where you could simply buy your way out of trouble. That whole thing about money not affording happiness is a lie too, when you stand back from the truth. I read somewhere that GoFundMe in the US is paying more people’s medical bills in the US than some insurance companies. When that’s the only option for many when disaster strikes, aspiring to wealth makes perfect sense.

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My kids often berate me for being too worthy, that persisting in my attempts to make them recycle, turn off lights and consider the environment don’t need to be repeated ad nauseum. My husband gets annoyed when I pull the Political Correctness card… and there is the sense that worthiness is all well and good to a point. We all want to be lazy, and not worry about the stuff that is someone else’s problem. Except, as time goes on, these issues are everybody’s to solve, and inertia piles up as does rubbish around us. Sometimes, happiness isn’t enough: as this is the happiest I’ve been in 51 and a bit years, by some way, and just enjoying it has become an issue.

The lesson I finally learnt is a simple one: yes, you can arrive at your aspirations, and live a perfect existence, but what happens then? As there’s been so much effort exerted to get this far, I can’t just sit around in my perfect life and be happy, because there has to continue to be forward movement. Once I achieve something, there’s no point in just stopping and saying I’m done. My happiness depends on a continual, gradual process of self-improvement for as long as I still draw breath, and that needs to happen every day, without fail. To maintain the happiness, it has to be worked at.

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This .GIF remains a constant warning of my Past Self to Future Self: just because you did something good, doesn’t mean you can relax. This is not about points on a board or favours piled up. Life should be a constant case of reassessment and consideration: is this working, should I try something else, would that be sensible? Right now that means girding my loins and looking at swimming lessons, so I can finally do laps of a pool without fear. It is what pushes me to complete two contest deadlines with absolutely no guarantee of success, but the understanding that the more stuff is entered, the better my writing skills become.

Happiness isn’t enough to be satisfied, at least not for me.

Even in the Quietest Moments

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I can now Tweet up to 280 characters. I don’t intend to do that with the majority of my output, and here’s why.

Watching the annoyance and frustration last night as the feature rolled out in parts of my social sphere and not others, it was almost funny to think that this change was, for so many, being considered as some badge of honour. The sole reason this change has been instigated is to help advertisers use space to sell more shit and make Twitter more money. This isn’t some great championing for more speech and understanding we’re talking about. For someone like me, it is a curse as well as a blessing. The biggest upshot is, undoubtedly, that people will just stop reading.

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The major winner for me will be poetry and short stories: I can now create longer works to post… but as some people mute the stuff I posted in 140 characters, to begin with, length will simply make those posts less appealing and not more. That means I’ll need to work harder on visuals and clever use of space in posts, that it isn’t about filling every character and ‘optimising’ the output. Undoubtedly the format can be finagled, but to do so requires a willing audience, and watching the annoyance last night as people simply posted 280 characters of ANYTHING to see if they had the new limit…

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Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should has become the phrase that really matters. 280 characters in a Twitter fight are just as useless as 140 if you’re unable to make the point without resorting to abuse and anger. Proving a point succinctly and well, without ambiguity is still something many people could do with learning. Word economy is useful: more significant still is an understanding of when a word dump is appropriate. That’s something I’m still learning after 51 years.

The moral of yesterday’s rollout is that sometimes, being first is all that matters to many. That stuff about the other person’s social media feed always being more interesting is all in the eye of the beholder, you know. I’m not special, you’re not lacking, it’s just tech, and what will matter more long-term are the people who use the system to their advantage by embracing the positives and eliminating the negatives. No, I’m not going to be clever with the format until I am TOTALLY confident it can be pulled off successfully.

Time to watch other people and learn.

Bicycle Race

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Today, my husband is 50. For my celebration last year he took us to Paris because that’s a place of considerable significance for us both. This year, he’s on the way to Italy, on the first part of a journey that I suspect may be just as life-changing for him as writing and exercise have been for me. With little or no grasp of the language, he’s been able to get a number of pretty rare old bikes purchased from private sellers and is now off to collect them.

After that, he’ll be restoring them all, and doing what he loves best: recycling old things to be like new. He did this before our son was born with keyboards and synthesisers, and I suspect that the bikes will be another part of his love affair with bringing vintage into the modern world. I’m slightly nervous about the whole thing, but that’s part and parcel of how I am because he’s not just my husband but my best mate too, and I’d be concerned over anybody doing the journey alone. However, this is his rite of passage, in a sense, into the second half of his life.

I couldn’t possibly begrudge him this opportunity at all.

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This means I have five days to be the grown up in the house. I won’t exercise today because I want to make sure I’m capable of getting both kids to school tomorrow even if I am below par. There’s a ton of house stuff to do to so I’ll spend some time later getting lists sorted for everything so I can tick off achievements as I go. For now, it’ll be some food, walking to the shops for next week’s provisions, and then trying to get everybody organised for Monday morning. It is only when he’s not here that I realise how much I miss, depend and often rely on my husband to help life move on smoothly.

I do love him so very much and hope this first day of Birthday is as life-changing as mine was last year.

One Better Day

This last weekend was, on reflection, EXACTLY what was needed after a tough week. Yesterday’s change of location for writing was, it transpires, a masterstroke, because it has ungummed the wheels of creativity. Being able to define and steer my own future is, I know, what ultimately needs to happen, and the confidence and optimism bought to the keyboard this morning are all the encouragement needed to know that this is the right way forward. Nothing of what was written was a terrible mistake, and ultimately the key to continuing this progress is simply the same, repeated. Maybe that’s why that burger above last night tasted so good. I really enjoyed it, just like the salad the night before. They tasted better because there’s the ability to appreciate what a great sensation it is to be in control and not lost or uncertain.

Now comes the task of keeping the momentum going.

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Normally there’d be planning on a Sunday evening but yesterday was chauffeur duty after 100 miles of Velo Birmingham for my husband. That means that, after this, there’ll be a protein bar and my planner, to catch up on what is going to be a packed week of content. Thursday is National Poetry Day, and I’m at least part of the way through my allotted ‘content’ planning. There’s Wednesday’s short story to finish too, plus (hopefully) a return to my favourite MMO without a lot of the baggage that used to accompany it. There’s also been a move to introduce more ‘silence’ to my day: only checking Social media via this machine, not while I’m out (unless it is justifiably work related) and NEVER at bedtime or in the early morning. If I want to read in bed now on, it will be a real book.

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Last night was the best night’s sleep for weeks. I have no idea why this is, whether my changes have done the trick, because it will need several weeks to be able to conclusively prove that with statistics. Whatever happens, this new enthusiasm and drive needs to be seized on.

Time to do all the things.