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.

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.