Negotiations and Love Songs

Really, this shouldn’t be being written, I should be getting ready to go away for some much-needed time off, except this week’s thrown up a lot of moments where my plans going forward have altered in both scope and significance. As a result, there is something that needs to be said before I go away: belief in yourself is, undoubtedly a part of the deal with ambition that never gets talked about enough.

I mentioned on Wednesday that I had an evening class/workshop that was being looked forward to, and it transpires that there was a lot more to the evening than I had initially envisioned. It was so successful, in fact, that if the organisation answers my email because I can’t find a link on their website,  a monthly amount  will be thrown down to go do more interesting things on Wednesday evenings in the future.

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You have to be careful when people are being paid to be nice to you, of course, that their affirmations and responses can be somewhat tainted by the fact that if they’re honest with you, that might not be the answer that you want to hear. Wednesday night, undoubtedly, can be seen in two distinct lights. It was in parts an enormous ego boost. In other parts it was a testament to how far I’ve come as a person.

Somewhere in the middle was a set of writing exercises, the opportunity to just think about writing and not worry about chores or demands from others. That was perhaps the most important thing of all, at the end of the day. Whatever else may emerge from the experience, I held my own with a group of people whose only experience of me was that session. I didn’t fuck anything up. That’s a massive bonus.

The truth of the evening’s success therefore can be distilled from these parts.

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It is a foolish woman who does not learn from everything that is thrown at her. Sometimes, undoubtedly, that takes some time to either register or absorb, but in the end being critical of your own actions is one of the most important life skills that can ever be learnt. Better is the state we all should be striving for regardless of whatever anybody else says needs to be done. Being successful does not mean you can be selfish.

The arrogance I see from those who clearly feel that success has granted them some kind of absolution from improvement is the most difficult part of a life online. How I’m choosing to deal with that is twofold: life the best life possible, whilst simultaneously maintaining healthy levels of cynicism and realism. It all works fine if internal balance is maintained, and that’s the plan moving forward.

Any true path to enlightenment, let’s face facts, is never going to be an easy one.

The Day Before You Came

Yesterday was, without doubt, one of the most difficult days I’ve ever had as an adult. ‘Yeah yeah, it’s all hyperbole,’ I hear you mutter BUT THAT IS WHERE YOU ARE WRONG. It was apparent, going into this year, there would be points where everything could topple, but what wasn’t expected was the opposite to take place. The permanent, ongoing assumption is that things get better with time. Except, sometimes there’s a release of pressure, and amazingly everything just improves.

How that happens is often a cause of considerable surprise.

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Yesterday was the day I submitted probably the most important piece of work I’ve ever completed. Sitting mentally exhausted in front of my PC and Mac, I became really very angry. That same day’s events hadn’t helped, as came an understanding that all of this, countless revisions and  rewrites and polish plus everything else are not contributing to my happiness, but serve to attain a standard other people set. There needs something that is my standards alone, or else slowly, everything will begin to suffer.

Then, I remembered the Gym. Those numbers after weigh in today, let’s be honest, are a revelation. Most people exercise to get lighter, but that’s not me. I’m here, gaining muscle mass, and becoming something a world away from the woman who thought ‘thin’ would solve all her problems, which of course is so patently untrue as to be funny. For the record, there’s less fat than ever before in my makeup, but this journey is no longer about dieting.

My road to success just took a massive detour.

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All of this is a complex cocktail of emotions to add to the general state of mental health, which pretty much relies on there being more to life than writing and submissions. Once upon a time, of course, writing was the therapy in itself, but that has now become the job. Therefore, I need a new means to cope, and exercise has become that means not only by which events are in my control, but that destiny is allowed to throw up some interesting possibilities.

I’ve learnt an awful lot about myself in the last month or so, and that’s set to continue. The lesson to learn, if it were needed, is that the best way to improve is often the least obvious route offered. I’m sure someone’s said that better, but that’s not the point. Talking about mental health isn’t just dealing with the issues, it’s finding the means by which you better communicate all the other stuff about your existence that matters just as much, sometimes more.

I’m really looking forward to travelling this way going forward.

Occupy Your Mind

Next Thursday is Time to Change Day where, for 24 hours, I can happily remind people that having a mental health issue is no longer the stigma it once was. There are days when I feel this isn’t the case, however, especially on Social media: that advocating tolerance and understanding is sometimes a tough ask. When the rest of the World has grown up not worrying about thinking before it speaks, or understanding why some people feel differently, every single interaction can be a trial. Except… this week, something has happened. Perhaps it is my perception that has altered or just the fact I’m now more aware of what can happen if people don’t think before they affect others’ lives.

Now I have the confidence to stand up and say stuff needs to stop.

The Way Forward

I’m already seeing the effects of this in planning content. I’m beginning to grasp the confidence in the Gym to deal with the unexpected (like faceplanting into the floor when my arms gave out on a push-up and not dying of anxiety or embarrassment.) I’ll still have moments but talking about mental health has benefits far and away from your actual condition. That empowerment of your self-belief might look and sound like technobabble bollocks, but it really isn’t. Getting your shit sorted is not hard, though sometimes it will feel that way.

If you can find the right support network, things get a helluva lot easier.

It is not just a case of standing up for what you are and believe, however. Learning from others is a vital part of the process. It doesn’t have to be formal instruction either: the benefits of simply hanging out with like-minded individuals, watching at a distance and crucially saying nothing at all can all reap benefits for the open-minded. Change is not simply the process of alteration, but adaptation and acceptance. All of these things work together if you are prepared to put in the effort. I am in the most exciting place I have ever existed in terms of creativity, too. Today, I’ve made some significant changes to the two major fiction pieces I’m re-writing, alterations I’d not have been capable of making a year ago.

Knowing when to say No, and being prepared to change are opening creative avenues I did not think would be possible, and it is beyond brilliant.