Sunrise

Personal circumstances, once upon a time, would have been ignored in an attempt to simply plough on through progress unaffected. That can’t happen any more. My mum’s due to go in for surgery next week and as she is in her 70’s, it is not wise to commit myself to anything at all with previous knowledge of how my family deal with this sort of stuff. As a result, everything needs a re-arrange. It’s not the end of the world.

I got on the scales this morning, expecting a weight gain, and was not disappointed. However, this is the most satisfactory period of energy and recovery post blood donation since I started, so lessons have been learnt. Therefore, as we have a nice, long period before Christmas, it is time to see if all this stuff that’s been learnt about metabolism and exercise has stuck or whether it is all just a fallacy.

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As a result, I need to be in the Gym this morning, and then I need to be back here rearranging the October planning. So, if you’ll excuse me…

Strange Days

Yesterday I acted as chaperone to my daughter and her best mate. We travelled to London in order to see two blokes called Dan and Phil spend a couple of hours on stage doing stuff that their audience absolutely loved. I’m not gonna lie here, it was a bit bemusing at times, but considering how much everybody else enjoyed themselves, it was clearly an amazingly brilliant night. Both girls cried. There were Beatles levels of screaming. I did genuinely laugh a few times, and there were enough gags to make it entertaining even for the person with no clue what ANY of the references meant.

It was, at times, oddly surreal. Queues for the ladies were at new levels. Everybody was SUPER polite, and when Phil’s brother was spotted in the ViP seating area closest to us, some quite amazing outbreaks of fangirl vapours were experienced at first hand. My husband was kind enough to come get us afterwards, which resulted in an amazing one hour’s worth of rabid Pokemon Go catching and bag filling. I was even able to earn some coins by shoving my collection into various Gyms. All in all, it was a satisfying evening’s work.

That was yesterday. Now, I’m off to a Garden Centre in Gym kit before walking lots of places and exercising arms that can now start building strength again.

It’s gonna be a good weekend.

New Life

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I’m sitting here having breakfast, after seeing Mr Alt off on the inaugural Velo Birmingham. This is just another race to my husband, but for me it has become a powerful metaphor, and only this morning have I fully grasped the significance.

When Dave was diagnosed with Type Two Diabetes, it was a wake up call for him, instant incentive to get fitter and work harder to deal with a problem that was, to an extent, of his own creation. His father was diabetic, so historically the deck was already stacked, but I think we both know had he had made an effort to be healthier before, this diagnosis may not have happened at all. Now it has, it isn’t somebody else’s problem to deal with, it is ours. That doesn’t just mean him either: I have a duty of care as his wife. That’s why I’m here today, as support, and why I’m doing more to help as time goes on.

When that diagnosis was made, we could both have done nothing. He might have ignored the advice, still be overweight and not tried to be fitter. We could have blanked the problem and carried on as if nothing had changed, which would have been both ignorant and potentially dangerous. Instead, we are proactive and positive, sometimes when that’s hard to do. The key is acceptance: what is both possible and doable, what is worth focusing on. Wasting time on the pointless when it is out of our hands is counter productive, so we learn to both focus on the achievable and let go of shit beyond the remit.

Except sometimes, things are not as out of your hands as first appears.

Someone tweeted this into my timeline this morning, and it struck a chord, because as a piece of writing it can both be read and interpreted in so many different ways, and there is no real method in 140 characters to accurately interpret them all. This tweet was, I suppose, the final straw: after a weekend of self-reflection, and realising that I never want to try and discuss anything complicated on Twitter ever again, this message distilled what is the real problem: US. No, not the United States (though some may consider they started all this) but me, and Mr Alt, and everybody else who thinks that improving the World isn’t their task.

The World is our problem to solve and not to complain about because we can no longer have ‘fun’ any more.

Life, like it or not, has always been difficult and hard and ultimately painful. Thinking that somehow if you just ignore everything else that is going on and hoping/expecting/dictating that someone else will fix it is the Elephant in the room no-one can now afford to ignore. Sure we can all still have fun and enjoy life but not at the expense of other issues. More importantly, believing that your own opinion has merit and has to be justified, internally and externally, with every breath is simply not the case. Yes, it is tough and hard, but if you’re using Social media to pretend you’re part of the conversation, you cannot dictate what is said or expect to be allowed to pronounce without consequence.

Conversation is fluid and malleable: arguments should be passionate but never at the expense of learning a contrary point of view. If your standpoint is so inflexible as to exclude everybody else, expect to meet resistance. If you will not look outwards and grasp the possibility you are wrong, you will make things worse. In many cases, what one person thinks is kindness ultimately ends up as the most vicious of cruelties, and spite is all that results. Then is the moment when you’re convinced you know someone else’s motivations, and ultimately end up with the entirely wrong end of the stick… the problem isn’t the people, however.

Twitter has never been the medium in which to fight these battles.

Part of me hopes that 2017 will be the year that blogging undergoes a renaissance, that the long form of debate will replace petty name calling and mudslinging now favoured by the President of the United States. Needless to say, his ‘actions’ in the week have simply heaped more shame on an office that used to stand for all that was good about America, and has now come to symbolize the worst of individual xenophobia and arrogance. Ultimately, those of us who regularly use Twitter are now going to be tarred by the same brush, like it or not. That means it is time to start a reassessment of what the platform is good for, and what is ultimately detrimental.

After a really bad week of social media drama, I’d already taken the decision to not go to bed with an electronic device any more (starting on Monday) and if I want to read, to start buying books again for that purpose. The idea of taking written social media (Facebook, Twitter) off my phone is certainly attractive, and instead to only use Instagram for ‘reporting’ as that will automatically post to both platforms without the need for me to read. That’s the key here: getting sucked into other people’s arguments, when I should be out either a) enjoying myself right b) doing something constructive. That means social media is only for my ‘job’ or when I am working at my desk.

The other major change to my lifestyle, starting this morning, is what I pick to react to. If I’m going to choose a hill to die on then from now on Twitter is not the place to do it. If that means I lose people’s interest by refusing to take part in debates, then so be it, but if I have learnt anything from the last week it is that people will only hear what they want if they consider you’re attacking them. There is neither space, convenience or ability to have a clear discussion on Twitter. It is a place to profess clear, well thought out opinions or engage in quick, visually-enhanced point scoring. For everything else it is a fucking disaster, and yet people like me forget this, time and again. Well, not any more.

It is time to rediscover the value of silence. If you’d like to have a discussion with me, that’s what the comments section of this blog is for, and I’m looking forward to your responses. As of right now it is time to practice what I preach, and be the change other people keep hoping is going to happen. If you don’t like my idea of change, you have every right to step up and disagree.

Welcome to the next generation of Social media.

Airbag

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Here’s a thing: yesterday evening, I went to the chip shop, as both kids requested a takeaway. I’d already eaten my calorie limit for the day, and sat waiting whilst the smell of frying potato made me salivate. Chips are a major weakness, always have been. This I attribute to one of the earliest memories I possess: the small of frying onions from a burger van, back in the days before that item was a staple on British high streets. Long before McDonalds even arrived in the UK; on the seafront of the town which is now our home, my parents used to drive here and reminisce of their courtship. I came home with the meals, stuck them on plates, and didn’t eat anything at all.

Yesterday was a tough Gym session: lots of HIIT, not many steps, and to make up the shortfall I walked around the block a couple of times. Today, the fatigue in my entire body is more noticeable than it has been for weeks, and I know that if I go throw myself at anything high impact it will make things worse. Today is a day for a walk: to the supermarket to buy high protein items with absolutely no sugar in them at all, and to start working on building muscle mass and provide true, lasting strength. Now it is becoming obvious just how much my body relies on empty carbs to function, I need to go and rethink a lot of my principles from scratch.

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I suck at willpower. It is my absolute biggest failing, by a long way. I also bounce from one state to another quite fast, or at least I did, and I am beginning to grasp that hormones have been to blame for a great deal more than just lower backache and upset stomachs. As I walk away from decades of being a fucking monster for three days a month, often longer, comes the relief of being able to dictate and control exactly how I am, without being at the beck and call of a body that often felt as if it didn’t belong to me at all. In fact, with the introduction of regular exercise and a diet that appears to help and not hinder mental progress, things are most definitely looking up.

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I predict a lot of fish and vegetables over the Summer months, and very little potato or bread, even though I will miss my sandwiches so very much. If 11st 5lbs is achievable by August 1st on this level of input, I can re-introduce the stuff I love as treats without fear. The first part of this process however has to be getting to the point where I know what is and isn’t doable, and right now this plan is the right path to tread.

Time to suck it up and get moving.

Saturday

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I was awake at 1am, waiting for Mr Alt to return from a cross-country fit, and it was not nearly as tough as I’d thought. Once upon a time nocturnal was a default, but now it is far happier on everybody that I sleep early and often. Yesterday was an extra PT session, using vouchers I had left over from the surgery downtime. It was weights, heavier than I have ever lifted before, plus more work on my trunk, which is the part of me that requires the most attention. The difference today is already noticeable. As soon as I’m done here it’ll be a sandwich and then off for an afternoon walk/run. I really don’t want to lose momentum.

This week has gone beyond well, far exceeding expectations. I’m already planning articles for next week, quite apart from the Internet of Words stuff that is scheduled. There’s even a space left to look at a novel starting on Monday, and I don’t remember the last time there was a desire to do that. It is primarily because everything is back in my own hands, no issues with health (either physical or mental.) Knowing full well how life works, it is time to make this weekend really count. Relaxation is all well and good but, as I discovered last weekend, you can balance both downtime and effort. Like everything else, it just takes practice.

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That means less words, and more action. Time to get shit done.

True Faith

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This time tomorrow I’ll be under general anaesthetic. Hopefully it’ll all be over by lunchtime, and I’ll be recovered enough to make it home on Tuesday night, though there is a chance they’ll want to keep me in if the proposed keyhole surgery doesn’t go to plan. Whatever happens, this is my last full day of writing work for a week. I had planned to try and schedule some content, but to be honest I would rather be concentrating on relaxation instead, and so with the exception of my poetry for the Internet of Words, this post marks the end of Normal Service until at least the 22nd.

If you’ve been following my off-grid posts, they will (hopefully) continue regardless.

I’ll see you on the other side.

The Last Time

The truth, such as it is, remains different for everybody, until you reach the point where grey has been completely eradicated. Then, entering the realm of the unavoidable, come the yes/no answers. Are you my father? Will this kill me? Are you an idiot? On days like today, when I’m not 100% awake and it is impossible to properly function without a drug as support (endorphins or caffeine, nothing else) that I normally end up going backwards. However, today is going to be different, because I will take Mr Ledger’s advice. Sometimes it is not about removing yourself from a difficult situation in order to function and move forward. Occasionally, staying is the only option, especially when it becomes clear that you’re not the problem.

The problem, at least for me, is that the notion of entitlement in various areas of society is now so glaringly obvious as to be funny. Indignation of the airbrushing of a Christian festival from a commercially-sponsored event, splashed over my feed, increasingly juxtaposed with real issues that should, in the mind of the poster, be taking precedent. Everybody’s ability to arbitrate and pass judgement on everything has been elevated to an art form, but with so many disparate voices, you simply stop listening. It’s like the situation that transpires every time a game I know people play introduces ANYTHING that takes more than a notional definition of ‘effort’ to complete. There’s no ‘skill’ any more, its all about gear and time. The truth, I’m beginning to grasp, doesn’t matter. The right answer becomes an irrelevance. For the sake of a quiet life and my own desires, winning fails to count as achievement. I don’t need validation any more, and the more it becomes the benchmark for perceived ability, the less I desire any part of the process.

On the days where what matters above achievement is simply progress, you won’t explain to some people that their viewpoint is actually harmful. In some cases you shouldn’t either, because that stands the chance of putting the more vulnerable back weeks, possibly further. That used to be the moment when I’d just stop checking feeds and be elsewhere, but as I discovered at the weekend, my skin is hardening in the right places, and today is the moment to make my point. A lot of the time, you’re not ever the problem. The stupid people, amazing as it might sound for many reasons, have no idea they’re causing the damage to begin with. You don’t have to measure this on a strict IQ score either: I’m watching some very smart people becomes incredibly stupid for the sake of media attention. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I’d say a lot of these people don’t really care about anything except a very warped notion of significance.

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This therefore is your daily reminder that The Internet does not accurately represent reality. People who don’t look past their own perceptions are often less than reliable as objective barometers. Arguing over religion never ends well, and I maintain the people with real skill in this world are the ones who don’t complain about everything they don’t like. Today’s truth is simple: you are enough, even on days when you think that’s the biggest lie going. Looking past the crap, rhetoric and obsession is hard, but there are times when making yourself do just that are utterly worthwhile, for the larger understanding that ultimately gives.

Sometimes, a crap day is worth the effort.