Thursday, February 26, 2015

My legacy

As a deep thinker, an over thinker, and someone who obsesses about some very strange things at times, I have come to realise that one thing bugs me over and over. My legacy!

I recently blogged about dying, cheerful I know, but it was on my mind, so I put it out there. In that piece I questioned what it was all about. Is death to be feared, or lived for? When we are gone, what is left, and what difference does our passing make to everyone else.

Having lost quite a few friends over the years, as well as some good acquaintances, its quite easy for me to make this next observation. Some people I have known who have died rarely ever cross my mind. Other however come into my thoughts on an almost daily basis. Not as sadness, but as memories of times gone by, thinking how a certain person would have liked whatever it is I'm doing at that moment, or just missing them for a moment.

In reality, I'm sure we all strive to be the latter. I know I do. I think I actually fear just being forgotten. I know I have shared some very special moments with some amazing people, and hope already that I have left my mark in life, at least in my own generation. I hope that I have done enough in life to generate a huge amount of 'do you remember when we' type conversations, as I have done about friends who have passed.

But there is a bone of contention in there, and one that doesn't sit well with me. My true legacy.
I am 42 years old now, far from old, but certain opportunities in life have reached a point of no return now. Choosing to have a child now, the primeval instinct of the human race, is quite a stretch in my world now, and not a choice I would make. Like a woman with her biological clock ticking away, I share that feeling of a door closing.
Of course, I have a child, or should I say, I fathered a child who is now a 20 year old woman.

It doesn't get to me too often, not something that I dwell on too much. I know in the years I have been absent she has been well looked after and loved. Raised well, and strives to make great academic achievements. I would say I'm really proud, but then that is a little glory grabbing really as its none of my doing.
Or is it? On a gross and scientific level, I do have something to be proud of. My genes after all went into her genetic makeup, she is 50% me, and while one part of the biological equation seems to have forgotten I am quite intelligent, thankfully her brain hasn't, and a part of me is indeed responsible for her success.

The truth is, my legacy as it stands is in 2 very separate pieces.
On the one hand, another generation has a life, will out live me, and a bloodline will continue. Regardless of my role and presence in the past 16 years, without me, there would be no her. Someone else maybe, but not her. Regardless of our interactions in years to come, her wishes to know me or involve me, she is my legacy. Like it or not.

Then the second part is the lives I have shared. The memories of the people I hold dearest to me, and who I have shared moments of happiness, sadness and of course stupidity with. A part of my life I have full control over, decisions I have made, and futures I have shaped. I hope I have done enough in those peoples lives to be remembered until their final days too, and for the stories of our adventures together to be told for decades to come.

Do you strive for a legacy? Or just take each day as it comes, and not care about what happens when you are gone?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

In the blink of an eye...

I have blogged about this quite a lot over the years, but from time to time the urge to try and connect with my true feelings on the matter resurfaces, and eats away at me for a bit. Like now. For some reason, after watching the scene from a TV drama, the matter of death comes flooding back.

February is always a pretty dark month for me anyway, even with the sunshine on top, below the surface bubbles a little anxiety, and I guess a little sadness. For years it was about my daughter. How dare I celebrate a birthday without her in my life. Especially with hers being just a few short days before my own. But as the years have passed, the reasoning has changed, and possibly to more morbid reasoning.

Feb 13th 2008, my mum came to me and told me she thought she might have cancer. My birthday that year (the next day) was spent at the doctors, first getting her an appointment for that day, and then being there while the doctor examined her and confirmed she very much had breast cancer. And a long journey began.
With her 70th birthday just around the corner the appointments started, and a few days after her 70th we went the hospital where I was called in to the consult room and asked to reason with her by the specialist. Having examined her she had cancer in both breasts, and was refusing ANY treatment. By the time we left she was open to the idea.

After a long fight, and some true highs, on August 5th 2011 mum finally passed away. Sitting by her side, watching her breathing become laboured, before finally exhaling for the last time, it was quite a surreal moment to watch your only parent die before your eyes. Thankfully, it was a rare occasion that myself and my sister were with her, with no kids etc. So part of me feels she found peace in that moment, and chose it herself.
Medically the morphine inhibited her breathing, and her already weak body gave out. Either way, she went peacefully and with dignity, just as she would have wanted.

Mum's passing is probably one of the most profound for me, as you would expect, but the list of people I have lost in all manner of ways is just too long, and one that haunts me every time I recall who, how and when.

In fact the above is the reason I am writing this now, as another year ticks around for me, and I turn 42 now, I look back at the long list of friends who have not even made it this far in life. Ill health, accidents, and suicide, has taken some of my closest friends over the years, all my junior. I said many years ago, back in my twenties, that I would be dead before I was 40. However at that time I really don't think I had given the thought of death much real consideration. Greatly unaffected by it at that point, it was just brave to talk trash about death, but as the years have passed by, it means more.

Given it can come in so many ways, never knowing what the cause will be. So many lose their lives at the hands of others, through no fault of their own. Accidents on the UK motorways today are a great example of this.
Take a look at the statistics for a moment. In the last week of January this year, 12,900 people in the UK died. That's 1,842 people a day or 76 people an hour. More than one a minute.
Now of course yes a lot of these are natural causes, illness etc, but what difference does that make? Mum knew she was going for 3 years, but still left 2 kids, 5 grand kids and her sister all with a hole in their lives.

My point is, and its a very vague one, death is all around us, just around the corner, how many people in the UK alone have died in the time you have been reading this. How many families every hour begin the painful journey of letting someone go?

The age old question, are you scared of death? Well are you? I have thought about this over and over for years, and still can't make sense of my conclusions. Death itself is final, once its happened, its done with, for the deceased at least. Fear goes away, pain too, but for the families it is only just starting.
My feelings on it are maybe a little too rational for some to comprehend. In conversations I have had about it in the past, I have come out looking a little strange to say the least.
When I think about death, it makes me sad. I like being a part of peoples lives, I like making a difference, and creating memories with people. When I look back at people I have lost, its the memories which keep the person with us. The thought of that ending is sad for me. Just as it saddens me that I no longer have them in my life to enjoy their company and make more memories.
The cold harsh truth is though, we all move on. While we remember those we have lost, our lives continue and adapt. So to believe that our passing is anything but an event in our friends and loved ones lives, is to me at least, somewhat irrational.
That said, my take on death in general might not be what you would call the average or common perception.

The other part about dying which really sucks, is the future. The crazy and dynamic world we live in is constantly promising and making leaps forward, space travel, technology, health care etc. To think that at some point I will stop seeing these advances is one which actually saddens me deeply. Maybe its my techy geekiness that drives that emotion. Maybe its my detachment from others around me which makes me feel this way. Grasping for something to hold on to and be relevant to me.

So am I scared of death, and the event it is? Hard to say, I have never been close enough to know the answer to that. My rational is simple, I can't control it, I am not the master of my final act, and whatever lifes plan is for me, I have to suck it up. Its nice to imagine it will be painless, but not for me. More for those around me. I don't want a wake of sadness left behind me, and I guess that is one of the reasons I try to be so open about my thoughts and feelings. I can't say another word when I am gone, so would love to think that in my ramblings both verbally and written, that people can find the answers to their questions. Who I care about, love, and my feelings on all aspects of life.

I like to think I am an open book, I encourage those in my life to challenge me, question me, and discover all they want to know on a daily basis. One day, the final day will come, and I hope dearly that I leave no confusion or unanswered questions behind. Until that day, I will keep throwing my thoughts out there, and try and make sure I have it all covered.
I do have a project I really must complete one day, one I have spoken of before. It has had many names, but 'If tomorrow never comes' seems the most prudent.

A frank summary of all things truly meaningful to me. Feelings, memories etc, which I would want those involved in it to know, just to confirm they know, and will forever know how I feel about them and our time together.

So, that's my thoughts for this Valentine's Day 2015, and of course my birthday.

Live every day like your last. Tell people how you really feel about them, and don't try and find the right time for things... It might never come, then it will never happen. Most of all, smile, and enjoy the gift of life you have, and spend it with people you care about.

Thanks for reading, sorry for the downer.

PS, some stats for those interested. A full breakdown of the 491,348 deaths in England and Wales in 2009 (yup almost half a million people in one year)

http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Guardian/documents/2011/01/14/Mortality_England_and_Wales_2009.pdf

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Wow, I made it to week 5!

OK if I am totally honest with you all and myself of course, I really was expecting to pick up an injury or illness before getting this far. However I am super happy that I haven't. Even more delighted that I am still finding the motivation twice a day, six days a week to hit the home gym and bring the pain on. Certainly supercharged my body, and seems to have got some testosterone flowing too, but that's a different story, literally!

As the weeks have gone on, I have been careful to check back over my past weeks, and make changes where I see fit. Increasing weight, reps or sets. Dropping exercises which are starting to cause issues, and modifying where things can be improved. All in all, being my own boss, not being a slave to a routine laid out by someone else, is really working well for me. Didn't honestly think I had it in me in this day and age (getting on a bit, birthday in 9 days) but turns out I have.

My battle now, as I have said before is keeping the bull in the pen. Not unleashing the beast and pushing myself too far. Each day, as the strength grows, I know I can push and pull a little more, but am mindful of the purpose of it. In my 20's benching 3 plates a side was all about ego, numbers and bragging rights, now in my 40's its more about self preservation, so no need to go all out. But still important to be moving a worth while weight.

Dips for example, first couple of weeks, trying to get the strength to do them at all, then once I had it, found myself doing very untidy and rushed reps. High numbers , poor quality. Now, its lower numbers, slow and super clean, and boy can I feel the difference. Same can be said for a number of other exercises too. Writing my plans up on Sundays, its nice to read back and see my achievements, then see where I can raise the bar, and where I am at risk. Changing the movements slightly each week to keep it fresh. But still hitting the same groups.

Going for chest, back, shoulders, and arms, I have to say I feel great hugging myself lol. Sleeping and wrapping up in my own arms, there is a whole load of firmness and bulk now, and it feels egotistically great! Nothing like waking up aching, and thinking, I know what will make me feel better, a workout! Its a great stretch and warm up for the body in the mornings, doing the floor work, almost the perfect solution to a heavy weights workout the night before.

So on this slow, lazy morning, with a lay in, and no dog walks done (raining) I am about to hit the floor and wake my body up, then head off to get some work done on a tattoo I am in the process of getting done. Should make tonight's workout fun, being on my bicep and shoulder!

Right, so that's me, almost at the end of week 5, and no end in sight.
Weight loss and numbers wise, nothing amazing to report, but feeling great, and that's what its all about to me. Strangely got my upper abs just starting to break through and show, through a still rather podgy stomach.

Have a great day..... I will !

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Profiling and pigeon holing....

Its something we are all guilty of to an extent, just part of human nature, and  a sub concious part of our predator vs prey defence system. Regardless of if you are trying to make judgements or decision, or its just happening all on its own, your brain is constantly assessing people and things around you. Now, most of those results are very simple. Scanning for danger, threats, or warning signs around us. Its how we cross roads, drive cars, and even just walk down the street. They are quick, sub-concious decisions, made in less than the blink of an eye. Like the decision in a flow diagram, each response triggers an action and so on.

So all perfectly natural up until this point.

However, sometimes we allow our decision making process to become a very concious thing, and that's where it takes a turn, sometimes for the worst. When we profile a situation, say walking past a group outside a shop. The average person listens for raised voices, checking for anger and aggression, looks for body language, very visible arm and hand gestures, lots of jumping around, or calm... We make that decision very quickly and act accordingly. Some people however allow another influence in to their decision making process. Stereotypes and pigeon holing.

For these people, the answers to the first questions were all safe, calm, relaxed, no shouting... But hang on, what's their ethnic origin.. Once we know that then surely the decision rests on that and that alone. Are they from a nation stereotyped for thefts, violence, harassment? Well then clearly the situation is dangerous. Turn back before all hope is lost!

Statistics bare some of the blame for this, as well as negative reporting from all aspects of mainstream and social media. Each group claiming the other is to blame, each group stereotyped for certain behaviours.  Just like all Chelsea and Millwall fans are mindless violent thugs, all Romanians are deemed thieves, or Nigerians are scammers. Its this kind of pigeon holing of groups in society, both official and public that cause most of today's problems. This isn't to say of course that there is NO truth in the statistics, of course there is. But how it is reported, and how it is interpreted by society is what really makes the difference.

If a headline read "20 black men detained in street brawl" certain groups in society would role their eyes and draw conclusions about how violent they are, and it must be a gang. If the sub headline then read. "100 armed white men descended on a Jamaican club this evening, starting a racially motivated attack. Police detained the victims in a police carrier for their safety" then some clarity would appear. However the choice of headline is what gets the ball rolling on how we perceive a story, and from that point on, we have already drawn a preliminary conclusion to the matter. Its all about getting the whole story, and not relying on a single line or statement to make our decisions on.

Sadly this darker side of profiling is present in all walks of society. Hatred and anger towards the armed forces, politicians, and the police. Obviously I am going to focus on the police here.

Now, starting with me experience of the police, something I can describe accurately and openly.
In trouble with the police in 1990 for the first time in my life, having encountered them on many occasions as a kid, just from being a little scallywag. In 1990 I did something wrong, and was dealt with for it. I was dealt with quite firmly, but maintained my respect for the police officers I was in communication with. Needless to say it was a different force back then. Mainly because people respected them. And not because they behaved differently as such, not because they were nicer people and fairer or anything. But because encountering the police in an official capacity meant you were busted, and there were no political correctness groups, hate groups, human rights groups or other 'its not fair' lobbyists telling them what you deserved.

One thing that has become SO very apparent over recent years is grading. And by that I mean of offences. Why is it every time someone is stopped or arrested for something, the line "do some real work, go catch some "insert here whatever crime the arrestee considers worse than theirs".Its a funny old world, where the criminal of whatever degree now has a say in what's right and wrong. Well if their feelings on right and wrong are so strong now... What happened during the offence?

In later years of my life I have experienced the changes in how the force works. From the difference in stance needed when making a simple traffic stop, to the paper mountain that now consumes the police. Most of which is necessary because of the onslaught of do gooders and PC activists who think they know best.
Example. Years ago I was stopped in Epsom, late at night, driving a modified car. Friendly stop, and soon became apparent that the motive for the stop was to ask questions about the car, as one of the officers was about to buy one. After a long chat, the officer in question apologised and said he was going to have to issue me a producer as there was a record of the stop, so all the boxes needed ticking. As he wrote it he continued to apologise, and we joked about how things had changed and they were not even able to stop me for a chat without paperwork.

It fair to say that not all encounters are as smooth, and I recall another stop, in the same car in Victoria. Again late at night, a car on blues wove its way through the one way system, came in behind me, flashed once, I indicated and slowed looking for a safe place to stop. This was followed by frantic headlight flashing, so I stopped immediately, sadly on zig-zags. The officer raced from the car, greeted me as I exited my car, and opened with "well that's a stupid place to stop". I responded by questioning his decision to become over excited with his headlights at this exact point, and offered to move the car a little further to a safer location and was told "don't bother, you are stopped now!"
So, its not all positive I have to say.

So lets go back to the beginning, profiling, snap decisions, and our reactions.
Many believe that officers of all nationalities and races have issues with the black community, and have no tolerance towards them. Fairness goes out of the window, and all are met with aggression and harsh treatment.
Having worked on housing estates for many years in an official capacity, I have seen many such encounters start, around the Notting Hill area, it was not uncommon for the police to sweep into an estate in the evening and do stop and searches. ANY group not making a fuss was dealt with quickly, as informally as possible, and with a happy ending (unless of course anything was found). However other groups who displayed frustration or anger, were indeed met with hostility and a very different approach. From the EXACT same group of officers who had just stopped the last group.

It goes back to pigeon holes and profiling. Groups of society learn from others, from past generations, we are taught what each group is, and somehow allow ourselves to be drawn into the mind of the hive. Reacting towards our first encounter with a group, with the lessons we were taught about them. If you grow up in a group or area with bad experiences, or just bad feeling towards another, it is going to be hard to shake those teachings. When the real encounter is made, we revert to instinct and behave accordingly.

When groups of people with historic bad experiences meet, a chain reaction begins. And as it continues, it snowballs, creating more memories and generating more bad blood. Somewhere along the line someone , somehow needs to stop the perpetuation of this. But the end is nowhere in sight.

So, to add to our pigeon holing exercise, all police are mindless thugs! A statement some would happily endorse. The media happily gloats at the continuation of bad feeling between social groups and the police, but like the headline, only tells you the information which will insight bad feeling, perpetuate the story, and give them a great story.

For the record I do NOT believe, nor endorse the above statements of pigeon holes. I feel that each member of society is an individual and starts out deserving respect and consideration of others. I do however believe also that our actions have consequences. Sometimes severe ones, and ones some find unfair and harsh. In this day and age I consider myself law abiding, and a decent member of society. I don't walk by on the other side, nor turn a blind eye. I expect all encounters with the police to be civil, unless I have behaved otherwise.
My final example, Sydenham High Street a few months back. Following a large brawl which I was not aware of at the time, the high street was shut. This had followed a big road traffic accident. Being nosey I made my way up the road to see, on crossing the road I was beeped by a bus who had decided to move off. Angered by his sudden action, and shocked due to being unable to move fast at the time due to ill health, I shouted at the driver. He stopped a few yards later and I made my way to the door to express my anger and frustration. I was greeted very quickly by two pumped up officers, telling me to back up, leave it, and giving me a good talking to. Now further angered and frustrated, I bowed my way from the situation and took to Twitter with some strong words.
Later than night I became aware of the mass brawl earlier, and realised that my actions followed those of the others, and in behaving in the same unruly manner, I had provoked, what I considered at the time, an over board reaction. Realising I was thoroughly in the wrong to have given the officers a hard time, I wrote a formal apology to Lewisham Police. Had I NOT toned down my anger at the time of the incident, I would have expected to have been strong armed to the ground, cuffed and led away. Thankfully having some respect for the officers, and indeed having been greeted in such a high energy manner, the situation calmed very quickly.

Sometimes the strong armed approach is the right approach, other times the gentle approach works better. What you have to consider here is, its training, drilled into the officers, self preservation kicks in and they will react to what they are confronted with. Batoning an 11 year old shoplifter would be excessive. But then believing you have a right to punch, kick, and bite an officer while they try and cuff you, is also very wrong.

Not all officers get it right, a tiny minority allow society to form negative opinions about them. The same way as the minorities in all walks of society create bad statistics and bad feelings about the majority of their groups. Two wrongs don't make a right, but put two groups together which are immediately defensive, and its a recipe for disaster, over and over again.
Then hype these encounters enough, make it seem like its the right thing, and society will believe you and the hatred and anger perpetuates.

This blog was written based on a sweeping statement made by someone, in this case towards and about the police. Using language which would be deemed offensive and inappropriate towards ANY minority group in society. Written media is a powerful and dangerous force. Just as this blog can be too. The written word is only as good as the choices the word-smith makes, and indeed the perception and interpretation of the reader. With no form of immediate discussion, its as simple as the black and white its written in.

There is no one group in society, official or public responsible for the world we live in, we have all played a part somewhere. Anyone who thinks otherwise, I simply disagree.

I could go on forever with this entry, but will end with the following.

Never judge a book by its cover. Colour , nationality, and background tell you nothing about what is inside. Take a second look, take a moment to think rationally, and give EVERYONE an equal chance. Everyone deserves one.

In a minute...

We have all done it.  Woken on a lazy day,  routine slightly broken but one or two pressing things to do. As the morning wears on,  the number of times you think about it multiplies,  but the motivation to actually get up and do it wains.
For me it's rainy mornings. The usual routine is up and straight out with the dogs,  get an hour of life under my belt before coming home and getting on with what's left.  Training is next, (after feeding the dogs of course),  and once I have got my sweat on and worn myself out a bit,  the chores around the house take next place.

Of course today being Saturday and raining  meant no rush to get up,  and even less to get going as the dogs don't usually go out in the rain. By 10am my morning is almost usually complete but today I was not even out of bed. In my defence a long day of walking yesterday meant my achillies were long over due a break,  so they got one.  Finally at about 10.30am I finally trained,  and I'm glad I did. It's out of the way now,  and no training tomorrow means just today's PM to do now. Then a new week means new routine.

Hopefully it will dry up a bit outside and I can get out with the dogs a bit later,  to make up for slacking. And of course keep my week average of steps up.

Til then though,  it's sin day today,  so treats are in store.  Slight weight loss again today,  couldn't resist checking again after yesterday.

Right better get on,  I have absolutely nothing to do today,  but open to invites lol

Have a good weekend all.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Its Friday and I'm bummed!

Almost at the end of week 4 of training now, and like every Friday its weigh in day for me. Not a normal morning for me, slightly ahead of schedule in all aspects of the day, but weigh in done all the same. For the first time in the 4 weeks of training my weight has INCREASED!  Now that's not a terrible thing as its only half a pound, back to 247.4, but as far as motivation goes, that really has bummed me out for a bit.

Now, first up some read 247 and think, wow, hey fatty boom boom, and all that. Think what you may, at my most stripped down ever I was a notch under 200, and in fighting fit form I was 220. Reality is 220-230 is a happy place for me. Im hardly a small frame, and with 26-27" thighs, I'm never gonna be my BMI goal weight lol. But thats OK I can live with that just fine.

Truth be told, to get down to 230 in the coming couple of months would be nice, to be 220 and a fair bit leaner by summer would be lovely. So lets see how that works out shall we.


Training wise, in the past 4 weeks I have not missed a single session, however have missed one or two of the dog walks because of heavy rain. This morning I just bit the bullet and went for it, the floors have paid the ultimate price. Covering approx 60 miles a week at the moment with dog walks, so getting the heart working regularly. Home gym sessions I have varied a bit, but am sticking with a few core muscle groups, and seeing nice changes. I would love to be cocky and say the half pound weight gain could be down to that, but I fear I might be getting a little bit ahead of myself there. We shall see.

Diet wise, stripped down, pretty balanced without getting too fussy about it. Fruit and veg in abundance, complimented by noodles and rice, and a healthy heap of protein from chicken and fish. No cheats, unless you count breakfast cereal in the morning. Tomorrow however IS cheat day, and I will be celebrating big with some chips and maybe some chocolate! Wooooo !

Right, fresh in from the dog walks, changed and ready to go, I just wrote this to cheer myself up a bit about the gain before getting stuck into the morning session... So here I go. 

Happy Friday all!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Week 4 in the big boys house

Well, I am into week 4 of the new training regime now, and have to say 'I'm Loving it'. That's not to say that I'm spending every day in McDonalds, unlike some people I could mention. *tut tut*

There is something satisfying about being in control of your own destiny, something empowering, and a strange sense of motivation. Seeing as you set the plan for yourself, it would be wrong to then whimp out on following through with it. From the adjusted food intake, to the steadily increasing exercise regime. Being in control is something I love.

From Day 1 of this new self inflicted program I have tried to stay on track to my actual goals. The goals being fitness, firmness, and health. I'm trying to not get sucked in by the whole thing, and become the usual runaway train with weight. Pushing harder and harder til I cause myself an injury. That's always been my problem, and probably always will be.

Once the bug bites, I commit, fully, sometimes a little too fully. Concentrating on certain body parts, and neglecting others. Chest, biceps and triceps get all the attention usually, with stomach, legs, and back all being left out. But this time is different, this time I am trying routines to cover all the bases, and get an over all pump on a daily basis.

Each week for the past few weeks, I have logged my activities and times. Keeping a record of what is pushing it too far, and what could be worked harder. Needless to say, the above primary groups are really taking a beating as you would expect, with the weight increasing quite rapidly. But this time I am also making sure that I don't go easy on the others.

This week, looking back over the past few weeks, and taking into account the notes of where I have struggled, I have mixed my routine up just a little. Following a 6 day a week AM and PM routine until now, complimented by 3 times a day dog walks. For this week I have gone for an alternating PM routine, hitting different muscle groups on alternating days. There is a lot more fine tuning to do, but I had noticed that towards the end of the week I was flailing a little with arms, and neglecting my shoulders almost entirely.

Mornings consist of varied styles push-ups, sit-up again in varied styles, weighted squats with a synergistic movement to keep it interesting (I hate legs), and my old nemesis, dips. All increasing in set count each week. While I say I hate legs, I hardly struggle with strength or definition in them. My thighs and calves are pretty huge for a muscle group that I never train. 27-28" thighs last time I measured, the waist of a petite girl and then some. Not much in the way of excess on them either. Calves around 16-17", again no excess. I know I should still train them, but its such a boring routine for me, and I try hard not to tweak my ageing knees too, as that would end everything.
Remembering of course achillies tendonapathy still messes with me too, the 8-10 miles a day I walk with the dogs leaves my legs close to the edge.

So at this point, a day into Week 4 I can honestly say I'm pumped. Feeling great about the plan, feeling great from the effects of it. Loving my new food intake, and starting slowly to see the changes occurring. I forgot how rewarding the feeling of the post training pump was. Feeling all swollen and with tense muscles, showing a little definition, and putting on a t-shirt which stretches over all the bulging bits. The bits that bulge for the right reason, not the other bits.

I am already planning Week 5, excited mix it up a bit, and see where I can find myself by Week 10. However keen not to push myself too much. With the two workouts a day giving a nice split in the day, and making sure there are no excuses to say 'I don't have time today'. 30-40 mins, twice a day, and I am in my zone. So while I want to push a little harder, I want to make sure the time frames don't shift too much. I'm sure I will work it out somehow.

Now to add some spice and interest into it, to keep the drive alive.

Motivated by outside parties, I guess I rely on that a little when trying to dig that little bit deeper, strangely driven to impress others who I don't even see. How the hell does that work? I don't know, but it does, so its all good. And of course Spotify, my access to thousands of tracks which inspire and drive my mind when stamina is low.

So that's me, all checked in, and happy with how things are.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Song to match moments

I'm sure everyone has a song, or 'their jam' that invokes strong emotional feeling, for others there is a whole catalogue of music which fits almost their whole life story. The song that was playing the first time you met, the first dance, or indeed a song which sums up a persons whole existence in one go.
There is music which I am very passionate about, and certain pieces can really touch my soul and take me to a place only I seem to know. Ludovico Einaudi wrote one such piece. Shortly after hearing it, and realising its power to me, it appeared in an advert, which ever so slightly diluted its power. But it still stays with me today as a truly passionate piece.

For others, me included in this, the moment is the important part. The song can be the cheesiest song ever, but the memory it relates to totally trumps the poor quality of the song, and it too becomes a powerful mental stimulant for people.

Then there are the other ones. Easy to understand why they provoke emotions, its the lyrics. From time to time, the release of a track, and the arrival of a moment or person in your life go hand in hand. Hard to comprehend how it happens, the moment is so profound that you ignore the fact the track was playing for 3 weeks before it happened, and suddenly it was fate which brought the two moments in sync with each other.

Powerful lyrics can make you feel empowered. The great feeling to know someone wrote a song relating to your exact situation, and somehow it seals the deal that this is for real. Doesn't have to be love, or sex. Can simply be a track describing freedom, a clean start or a fight against oppression. But somehow the connection is made, and the feeling gets stronger and stronger.

For me, I get almost obsessed with a track, and can listen to it over and over and over. My track of the moment out of interest is David Guetta, Dangerous. Without too much depth to the lyrics, but the message of not understanding a situation, yet plunging into it, is really quite profound and fitting. For me as a whole really, as its something I do far too easily, and far too often.

There are a few other tracks which strike a chord with me recently too, but without a doubt this one is THE one of the moment. I wouldn't go as far as to say its particularly emotional for me. More motivational and ironic. But I like it all the same. Listening to it somehow gives me energy, and usually I'm smiling listening to it.
Another favourite of mine is Butterfly by Crazy Town. Maybe a little more of a deep track for me, but for its style of music, a well written and profound song all the same. Many messages within it, some of which I relate to well.

I have to say that it has taken me tears to realise how powerful music is to me, but now I know, when I look back over younger years, the penny drops and I realise how much I have used music to strengthen or break moods, as well as reflect my feelings at a particular time.

So how about you.... What are your songs?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Butterflies...

OK I have gone on about this too many times in my life, but from time to time I need to revisit the thought to make sense of things, and even re-evaluate the validity of the whole belief, and tonight is one of those times. When you find yourself laying on the floor of a dark room, on the rug, with headphones on, playing a very select playlist, its time to see what the hell is going on in your head.

So, butterflies. Many years ago I referred to the butterfly effect, but in my own way. Not the generic well known way. Here are my thoughts on it. And so profound was the belief in the feeling, I even had it tattooed. One of my first pieces, and one I still hold dear to this day.

From time to time in life you have a moment, a point in time where things change. For a short spell of time everything else takes second place, thoughts go on hold, and life stops. For that moment, for however long it is, the most important thing of the moment is right there. Times like this you need to stop, take stock, and appreciate it. Like a butterfly in a garden, fluttering from plant to plant. Once in a while it settles for a rest. As you sit in the garden and watch this natural beauty dancing around, if you sit still enough, it will settle on you.
As it touches your skin, you freeze. Motionless you look on and appreciate how delicate it is, how fragile this and the rest of life is, and how quickly it can pass. No matter how long the event really lasts, the second it is over it feels like it was just the blink of an eye. Always to be remembered, a moment in your life that truly matters.

However this precious moment can be ruined in a heartbeat by the wrong action. The most simple of wrong moves can upset the balance, and take the whole moment away. Some who experience these moments try and capture them forever, but this is just a false hope. Touch a butterfly, try and capture it, or hold on longer that time allows and the balance it ruined. The life drains from the butterfly, and what was there for a second will never return.

The only way to really embrace a butterfly moment is to just let it happen. Hold your breath, look on in wonder, and enjoy what is happening. What will happen will happen, and when its over, let it go. Hold dear the moments that you had, and don't try to make it something it is not.

Life seems to throw quite a few of those at me, or at least my mind interprets it that way. I am yet to squash one, but struggle desperately to try and read the pattern and interpretations of them. Long after the butterfly has flown, the moment finally makes sense and I can get a read on it and appreciate it.

Sometimes things in life are just as they seem, as described, as advertised, as per the label. However to hope that there is more inside, shaking the now empty packet hoping more will fall from it, just a fools game. Blimey how many more metaphors can I use before just saying it like it is.

But back to the butterfly effect.

The simplicity of it is the beauty of it. Spend your whole life rushing around, never paying attention to your surroundings, and you will miss SO much in life. However take life at a slower pace, look around from time to time, soak up what is all around you, and take stock of the beauty that surrounds you each day. From time to time you will notice moments worth treasuring. Like a butterfly landing on your hand. Sit still, look on, and realise how blessed you are to have been touched by a thing of beauty. When it is rested, and has taken from the moment what it needs, it flies away leaving you with something profound, and a moment of time you will never be able to re-live, but will never forget.

That paragraph above is the one I have been sitting here for  20 mins trying to squeeze out of myself, and sums up my thoughts right now.
Now if only I can just sit still long enough and not make the wrong move, all will be well, and I will remember this moment for the rest of my living years.

I love butterfly moments.... But they can really mess with my head.

Thanks for reading, and for a select few, thank you even more for being a butterfly, and touching me profoundly.

Highs and lows

Without a doubt the most powerful drug know to humans it the mind. Yes Obviously the mind is affected by drugs, but the urges, sensations it creates all on its own are so damn powerful. Taking a perfectly good day into the pits, or a terrible day into the skies in a flash.
Some might say the heart plays a part in that, and maybe in a metaphorical way it can, in the same way we suffer heartbreak etc. But the truth is it is our thoughts and feelings which truly control our mood and state of mind.

Many years ago, before a night out, feeling down, a friend took a whole cocktail of drugs which would have most completely off their face, and high into the heavens. But seemingly over-riding the effects of the drugs, his mind kept him low as can be. Thought process and ability to function however was as affected as you would expect. Nothing but his own thought process was going to free him from this spiral.

As anyone who read the last few blogs will know, I have been on a bit of a whirlwind tour of my mind recently, dropping to basement level a few days ago, without warning, or indication that anything was wrong, my mind just bombed. Being quite familiar with lows like this, I prepared for the worst, and got myself ready for a long low period. Yet for some reason (part of which I understand) I bounced back, stronger and harder than I ever recall. By the next morning I was back to my old self +10% more. Strange for me.

For a long time now it has been clear to me that I am influenced by those around me, affected by their moods and state of mind. Am I a mood leech or something, or do I just get affected by trying to make others feel better at my own expense. Draining myself of mental energy for the sake of others? Strange, but I really don't know.

I had lunch with a good friend yesterday, speaking of lots of subjects including one very prominent at the moment to me. Speaking about it, I made perfect sense of the two conflicting sides of me which battle it out, trying to justify my behaviour towards certain others, and make sure that things are not totally one sided. But the truth is, its natural in today's life to give and not take, or vice versa. Sadly my tiny mind struggles with this concept at times, and for that, I pay the price.

Sometimes I wonder if I carry out apparently selfless acts for moral gratitude, from no other than myself. Like an arsonist who likes to watch their fire burn, gloat in the control of the situation and feed from its energy, I wonder if I am the same. Do I get some form of satisfaction from 'helping' others, or am I just getting close gloat on their misfortunes. Only to be drawn in, and feeling obligated to help. The two sides of my mind once again in conflict.

As ever, songs play a huge part in driving my moods, and there are certainly a few in my playlists recently provoking emotions for sure. But how.... Well simple.. My mind. Like I say, the most powerful drug known to humans. Taking the words of others used as lyrics for a song. Translating them in a way where they fit to my state of mind, thoughts or emotions, and turning them into powerful musical messages to myself. Stirring my emotions, and putting my mind into places of happiness and sadness. Sometimes in just minutes.
The drive to work can be torture, the wrong song at the wrong time and its all over for me, the day ruined in a flash. Or on the flip side the day is made in a second.

I have but a few influences on my mind recently, but powerful ones none the less. Conflicting, complex and confusing as hell, but the main thing is, im on a high, and I intend on staying here.

At times like this, my blog plays a key role, so my apologies for any weird ramblings like this that might appear over the coming days or weeks. But just know that getting it off my chest really halps with things, just like it did the other day. That simple Boom! entry changed a lot for me. So if you have things on your mind, trying to figure them out, get them onto paper or a screen. Better still if you can find anyone to listen, talk. Verbalising things can sometimes make so much sense. At times as I am saying something, I am understanding it at the same time.

The mind eh!


PS, I bought a new 'REAL' keyboard as I have a lot of writing planned over the coming weeks, so I am a happy man right now, loving typing once again.

Have a great day, and don't let that mind of yours mess about with you.