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.

Last Train to Transcentral

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Today is certainly not the first to involve literary disappointment. By 5pm I will be sad, but that maudlin state undoubtedly will be short lived. That’s the problem when you enter contests and someone else wins. However much I could sit the night before and imagine myself as successful, the harsh reality of modern publishing is that inevitably you have to do an awful lot of work for little to no return. For all the sweat and angst  expended, there are thousands of people doing the same. If gambling has taught me anything, it is that odds are not worth knowing, because they won’t ever help in the end. What you need, like it or not, is the patience of a saint and the ability to keep bashing your head against a wall until you die.

I’ve also discovered it helps if you’re rich too: the poem I submitted yesterday (for a contest I’ll hear the results of in December) politely asked for an entry fee before I could enter. The next mentorship I’m considering asks the same for each poem submitted, up to a maximum of six. In this case it’s a sure fire means of raising cash to pay for the mentoring, but I can’t help but feel that somewhere, something is not right. I haven’t really investigated the world of novel submission yet, but even the thought of this currently is enough to give me the vapours. Now I’m serious and capable of a finished manuscript, it will be 2018’s task to get that bandwagon finally rolling.

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Of course, all of this is simply sauce for a metaphorical goose. I don’t need to expound on the health benefits of writing and that the significance of doing so is continuing to outweigh the desire for critical acknowledgement, but these bills won’t pay themselves. So, whilst I write blogs and essays, poems and fiction need to start pulling their weight considerably more than is currently the case. Throwing work at contests and mentorship chances could end up driving a lesser woman to madness is all I ever get as feedback is silence: ‘no correspondence will be entered into’ is the equivalent of a door slammed unceremoniously in your face, multiple times.

Yet, I know only too well that to be successful, that failure is essential. You must learn from every poem, grasp the significance of each unsuccessful attempt, and hope exasperation can be kept to a minimum. The belief must be that if you are truly good enough, eventually, someone will notice. However, would I be more attractive as a writer  if I paid to submit six poems to my mentorship scheme as opposed to, say, only three? Do I have to ensure I hit a specific word count for a story to show I ‘understand my genre’ or can I just write from sheer love of the task? A lot is expected from authors in the modern world. Knowing how to social media successfully is probably quite a way down that list.

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What is becoming apparent, at least from behind the screens I now inhabit, is that failure is relative. I’m never lost for things to do of late. There’s never a day where I ponder what there is to be done. Boredom has become utterly non-existent. As I sat yesterday afternoon between two guys at the Gym, both of whom were using lighter weights than I was, it became apparent that success isn’t just relative but increasingly subjective. I can’t confidently handle a mountain bike, yet doing upright rows with 16kg weights is second nature. Everybody has to start somewhere. Not stressing about outcome allows process to become habit, and fear to no longer hamstring your progress.

Yesterday’s poem was possibly the most personal thing I have ever written, and by doing so an important mental block has shifted. I am no longer afraid of allowing genuine, unfettered emotion a release through my work. This ultimately will never be anything other than a Good Thing [TM] and knowing this means that in the next few weeks, nothing and nobody is safe in terms of subject matter.

I am ready to deal with disappointment, however it decides to manifest.

Yesterday

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I live in Gym kit currently for one reason alone: if I have it on, there’s more chance of making it to exercise than not. Except yesterday I put on the clothes and then grasped I’d be better off not pushing myself physically. It was a day to clear the decks, throw out the rubbish that has been clogging my desk. Things got put away, or recycled, and we entered the Money Where Mouth Is portion of developmental proceedings. As an exercise in self control and diligence, it was remarkably successful. I don’t remember the last time I was this organised, and it has helped considerably in motivating brain to start this week the way I mean to go on.

Now, the trick has to be sticking to that plan: the Moleskine is full, not simply with written work. I gave up on bullet journaling sometime in April, but the weekly planner has now become indispensable. Exercise goals, writing subjects, forward planning is all inside, and the settling of this routine becomes more comforting with every new week. I actually started doing that on Friday, knowing what needs to be done for the Internet of Words before it all kicks off on Saturday. Thus far I am quietly confident, and hopefully once there’s some content up to entice people, I’ll grab some more Patreons. That reminds me, must sort out a Google Form for the rewards requests. Excuse me whilst I make a note of that.

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This week is another two lots of PT with a hard third session shoved in the middle. If six hours sleep is gonna be the norm again thanks to night sweats and the neighbour (who has a 5am start and is not quiet) then I may not make it to Friday without a nap inserted somewhere, or at least one ridiculously early night. The week will at least be cooler and a bit wet, which suits me fine: I really hope this is the last of the hormonal junk I have to deal with. It is bad enough in the heat without my body taking a temperature rise on an almost predictable four hour cycle. There is however the real chance this is the next 18 months to two years of my life panning out and if so, it might be a plan to just stop moaning and work through it. If I were famous I could write a book about it or maybe do stand up, but as I’m not? Time to stick the kettle on and accept the inevitable.

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I’ve been eaten a lot by insects in this last couple of weeks too, which means my legs look horrible, and as I scratch in my sleep I felt today was not the one for shorts. I’ve resurrected one of my favourite pairs of leggings, and this reminds me I should have a clear out of clothing (again) as a lot of stuff is now close to being worn out, due simply to repeated use. My running shoes went that way last weekend, 25 miles of cycling the last straw, and looking at the soles the wear on the tread is a reminder that yes, I do take this all very seriously indeed, as should be the case. That will be the second pair I’ve worn out this year, and knowing that fact I’ve ordered the replacement pair this morning on sale, saving cash in advance. Ah, the joys of Internet shopping.

… and today's legs 👍

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The Warcraft blog’s got material already scheduled for the entire week. I’m not sure yet what is going to happen here, but I promise to try and make it worth your while reading.

Round and Round

I had such lofty plans today, and thanks to seven hours sleep and the fact today’s post draft sucked monkeyballs, I’ve thrown everything away. Tomorrow I will try again to be an adult with words, but right now all I’m capable of is small sentences and barely restrained anger. The problem isn’t my planning or the world around me, not today. Body, like it or not, is refusing to what is being asked: hot flashes have returned, temper is as short as a Gnome. My mind, for large portions of yesterday and today, simply refused to do what I asked of it. I will admit to worrying as to the reason behind this but in truth I am well aware that this is the coda of full menopause that I’d been warned about. In two weeks, it will be a full year since I bled ‘properly’ for the last time.

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I could have a decade of this to look forward to. The ‘symptoms’ of fertility shutting down vary wildly from woman to woman. I really don’t want to spend ten years yelling at clouds but that is a possibility I must plan for. That meant today’s primary objective was to exercise as much as possible in the time I was awake to try and exhaust myself to get past waking up at 3am in a hot sweat. This was the best way across last summer to ensure that sleep happened, and certainly helped when I was in New York. Then it is all about eating well and trying to grab kip when I can during the day. I’m considering looking at natural remedies to help, but I certainly don’t want to go back to hormones unless there is no other way. Right now I think this is copable with alone, but six months non-stop might change my mind. We will see what happens.

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If you see me quieter or crankier than normal in the next couple of weeks, this will be the reason. Try and understand, and maybe cut me a break, but it is okay if you don’t.

I understand if you’re not that kind of person.