Scattered Black and Whites

After a decent night’s sleep (and proper hard pushing myself on the bike yesterday) I have woken up with the scales very much fallen from my eyes. It’s hard to describe the feeling when you know that something quite seismic’s taken place in your head, an odd combination of validation, comprehension and self-belief.

I keep coming back to The Emperor’s New Clothes as my favourite metaphor: once you see a naked, middle-aged man waving his dick in a timeline as a desperate means by which he can validate an existence, it’s pretty hard to unsee. The women who do this too are, I would posit, practising a version of the dick wave. They’re appropriating male values. Some of them then stop being women, in my head, which is significant. [*]

It is time to start seeking out the truly unique, diverse voices of truth.

Once upon a time, everything was about being right. As I have matured, and grasped the subtleties of a reasoned existence, that argument is only acceptable to a point. At this point, everything that makes me think is where interest lies: even if the responses that result aren’t those what I’ll agree with or think worthwhile of further discussion.

Once you see one person using a platform for their own agenda, it also becomes pretty impossible to ignore: more and more ‘smart’ people who do this for their own, unspecified ends, are failing to grasp the speed at which their surrounding environment is changing, and it is. All this bollocks over ‘white’ values being attacked is just that.

We’ve been hearing only white values for far too long.

I realise this approach will not be popular. However, frankly, I do not care at this stage. This is not about appeasing some random gomer who thinks suddenly they’re the answer to everything. I know just how much there is to learn right now, how values and viewpoints need to shift and alter. This isn’t a brand realignment, it’s a fundamental alteration from soul upwards.

Hang on kids, here we go.

[*] More on this in the week.

Closing Shot

Last night, I heard of the first COVID case in my orbit, then pretty much lost the plot. If this is the beginning and that above is where we will be in two months, this is already a nightmare. Every time I’ve thought nothing could get weirder, it does. The baseline threshold for Reality (Such As It Is)ย has moved so many times since Monday that, quite honestly, I have no clue where to pitch anything.

All that can happen now is control of my own environment, such as it is. Even that is proving problematic.

Hand cream is now not as useful as skin healing cream on my hands. Knuckles have split. Hay fever and dust allergies are making me sneeze and cough, and going anywhere right now is an exercise in holding my breath. The physio this morning was a total hero, and if the state of his hands is any indicator, he is taking duties extremely seriously indeed. Everybody is offering me refunds.

This doesn’t get better, only worse. Time to find where the real helpers are, friends to bed down with (at distance) who will be those who support and not criticise. Yeah, I get some of you don’t want me in your feeds because I was the noisy cow who caused trouble a while back.ย Your choice. Gaming now is the last thing on my mind, though if isolation gets really bad, I might return to a favourite god sim or two…

The biggest plan right now is exercise, and how it happens in a ten foot square space, so all those lovely gainz I made in the last six months are not pissed up the wall. Fortunately I have a TOP TEAM of supportive people ready to provide practical advice, plus raw materials to facilitate progress. It also helps that static bikes have been a fixture in this household for many, many years. Cycling will save us, oh yes.

Unbeknownst to me, I’ve been training for this moment for years.

The Flood

Once Upon a Time, the Bible was all anybody needed to make sure Humanity knew what was what. If you didn’t like Christianity, lots of other religions popped up to do the job in other places, with their own Haynes Manuals on ‘The Right Thing to Do.’ There are those who will readily point out that the Church of England only came into being because a king wanted to have his end away with someone whilst being told divorcing wife after wife in search of a male heir was immoral.

Once humanity had enough money to realise that free will beats religious doctrine… well, a lot of things did indeed go down the hole in the ground round the back of the hovel. We are, undoubtedly, the arbiters of our own downfalls. I know some of you will blame corrupt government, unavoidable circumstance and the selfishness of others. You’d be right, of course, but only to a point. As human beings, all of us inevitably have some blame to shoulder.

How you do that is becoming an interesting measure of humanity in general.

Somebody took their life this weekend and it was front page news. Many other people committed suicide this weekend too but none of them will be held up to such scrutiny. I suspect none of them will be forgotten either, loss of their existences resonating through countless lives. We spend so much time reacting to other people’s tragedies as this will grant us absolution from our own shortcomings, but it won’t.

The way to deal with our own shortcomings is to embrace them, improve them. You shouldn’t just sit and admit you’re wrong at something without making a concerted effort to alter yourself. That’s the worst kind of absolution going: yeah, I’m wrong about that but, you know, I can’t change so there, I admit it and that will have to be enough.ย It’s not. It makes you as bad as the people who take that wrongness and embrace it.

There should never have been different rules for those who believe that being ‘right’ means you can ignore all the actual evidence against your stance as being somehow an attack on personal freedom. The about face of those who champion ‘freedom of speech’ to spread hate, disinformation and ALL OUT LIES is, and always will be, the convenient actions of those not capable of considering themselves as wrong.

It’s selfish behaviour, fuelled by a need to ensure that the world around you does not collapse. In my particular case, it was a mind’s way of retaining status quo because the consequences will put you back decades, which was exactly what happened. However, now the damage is being addressed? Watching other people trying to justify that rule set is, at times, rather amusing.

Then there are moments when it isn’t.

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I had one of those at the weekend, and I wrote a poem about it, because poetry has become to me as drawing, painting, theatre, sculpture, cookery is to others… a thousand different responses to the realisation that you have seen injustice and it must be recorded, highlighted, dealt with. It’s not a coping strategy, but catharsis. It’s the language that is emerging as best way to cope with what happened in my life.

Whatever works best for you is a good start.

Sky High

We’ll take the last point first, because everything else is effectively set dressing. I read somewhere that poets need at least a decade to get settled. Having come to this table very late in life, there’s not ten years to hope that everything clicks. This has to happen NOW and so, yesterday, the decision to switch my focus from collection with a niche potential audience to collection with far larger scope has, amazingly, already bloomed.

I’ll write about this in more detail over on the Writing Blog, not just that’s because where it belongs. Amazingly this morning, the details are academic. I’m not touching this again now until after I’ve been away, because brain knows that the time for this is not right now.ย Instead, tomorrow we’ll lay down first draft of the Short Story [TM] and similarly leave it to rise in my absence.

Have I told you how much I’m looking forward to going away?

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The Forest is ALWAYS a means by which creativity arises: it has a lot to do with painting bowls, as it happens. I’ve not decided what happens with Bowl Three yet but know that purple is my colour scheme this time.ย There’s a temptation to make this one more metaphorical than basically practical, but we will see. It’s the highlight of any trip: in the summer I don’t actually remember painting that bowl at all.

Then there will be photography, and this time quite possibly running, because it has to happen at some point and actually, a holiday village with a strict no car rule is probably as safe as I could wish for to begin. Except, this weekend we have a New Storm beginning with the Letter D to worry about. Maybe I’ll end up on a treadmill, who knows. However, I heard an advert on the radio this morning and… is it too soon?

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Leave that one with me. For now, there’s plenty to do to make sure I’m ready to enjoy myself starting Friday…

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.

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?ย 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.ย 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.ย 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.ย 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.ย 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.ย 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.