Sunday, 10 January 2016

Week 2 of the Challenge

Apparently, on week 2 I need to learn to read. No really. Last week was all about getting up earlier, which I actually only managed a couple of days, but I don't really care, I have my own views on that.

ANYWAY reading it again, I was also supposed to improve my nutrition and do "sport" in week one. For some reason I thought these came later.  So first let's deal with those.

Part One

I eat well. I've never been one for a lot of sweet stuff, I cook 99% from scratch (I still buy ketchup and mayo, and that's not likely to change), and I have a personal dislike of over-indulgence. Look - this is not a judgement. If you pig out, be it regularly or occasionally, that's up to you. I hate the feeling of being stuffed, and I stop eating BEFORE that happens. I've had people hate me for this. I've been called names. I've been envied. The whole range. But it's not virtue, it's comfort. I have no desire to feel uncomfortable, so...I don't do it. Fucking logical, sorry if you're not. No, really. You know the old joke of the man who goes to the doctor and says "Doc, Doc, it hurts when I do THIS..." so the doctor says, well, don't do it. That.

However, you only have to look at me to see that I eat too much anyway. So, clearly, I need to stop before I'm satisfied, and THAT dear friends is extremely hard. I don't believe in dieting. No...wait. Let's get the word right. What you eat is your diet. That's what diet means. So...we all diet, all of the time. What I mean is, I don't believe in fad diets. Low this, low that....load of bollocks. If you want to be thinner, you eat less food. It's simple. Got animals? Feed them less, they get thinner. Very, very simple. In theory. Doing it is quite another matter. But it makes life easier so I am attempting to eat less, and I actually began this morning with one slice of toast instead of two. If anyone is shocked at this, so you should be. Can I keep it up? Don't know. But what the heck, I'll give it a shot.



No. I hate sport. I don't even watch sport. I don't "get" sport. If anyone wants to try to tell me why it's good or whatever, good luck. I played a bit of tennis and squash when I was younger and had a lot of energy to burn off, but I discovered that I could do it in other ways, which didn't require funny clothes, money, appointments, or a partner. I can't run, so that was out (I can't run. I physically can't. I can sort of waddle fast, to catch a bus, but my limbs just don't do whatever they are supposed to do to co-ordinate a run. In my only ever long-distance run, at school, I came in behind two kids with asthma and one with mild C.P........FFS). But I used to walk for miles, cycle even farther. Since that stopped I've relied on dancing and physical labour, with a bit of yoga. These are not sport. These are anti-creaky methods. If I don't move around frequently, and in an extreme manner, I seize up. I have a treadmill too, and that is going to be my best friend for this part of the challenge. I need to strengthen the muscles in my back, and this is how I think I can do it. We'll see.

Part Two

Make someone a birthday or celebration cake.

Conveniently we have a birthday boy in the house in a couple of weeks, so without giving away any hints, because he reads this, a certain husband will be getting a cake.

I am not brilliant at cake decorating. I can bake, no problem. I make great cakes. Sir will require chocolate, so I need to buy some (funny that) and I'll save the remaining details until later.

Part Three

This is where I add a personal thing that I know needs doing. Mine's a bit bizarre as a challenge, but it's going to be harder than ALL of the above. Yeah. I need new glasses. Badly. Urgently.

This. Is. Hell.

I am a bit vain, I admit, so I agonize over anything I buy, but that's not the real problem here. Well, OK, it sort of is....I'll explain. First you have to understand that I don't do fashion. I never have, even back when one was supposed to. These days there is freedom in esthetics. You just do as you please. Pick any era. Go nuts. I am not conservative in how I dress. Quite the opposite. AND I don't dress for others, I dress for me. All that said, there's nothing makes you look old or frumpy faster than the wrong glasses. So am I daring?

Hell no. I'm boring. For the last yibble years I have gone almost always for the whole minimalist rimless thing, which is the cowardly choice.

And this has got to stop. They get wobbly and I hate that. I spend half my life with a tiny screwdriver, doing up tiny screws....which I can't see, obviously. 

So, this week I'm going to put a gun in my back, and buy new glasses. I may whine a lot. First world problems, but there we are, that's MY challenge this week. 

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Kindness and Mischief

Hello, my name is Melanie, and I'm annoying. I don't mean to be, it's a sort of side effect. I'm not really all that good at anything in particular, but I'm very good at being me. I'm so good at it, in fact, that I've come to rely on it. Apparently this isn't normal, despite what you might think. Apparently I'm supposed to be full of self-doubts and angst.

It's not that I don't give a shit about what others think. I take all feedback, as offered, consider it, and toss the unimportant stuff out the window. I have this one objective really - I try to be kind. I think it's the most important thing you can do. I like people. I don't always want to be around them, especially some of them, but I want everyone to be happy, so I just do my bit where I can.

The problem is, my nature is mischievous. I like fun. I like to laugh, and I find it very easy, because I see the funny side of most things. I like to play. I like to be silly. It just comes naturally.

And these two competing aspects of my personality have been there since day one, so it's definitely me, it's who I am. Most of the time it's OK, and then every so often it isn't. The mischief takes over.

I don't apologize because I don't think it's ever really harmful. I mean, I don't shoot people or spike their drinks (apart from that one time), and my practical jokes are very minor. The only person who has ever got physically hurt from any pranks is me, and I know when to stop with teasing. I have a good "hurt feelings" radar, and if somebody begins to look uncomfortable, I immediately stop. I wish I could teach that, actually.

What I'm trying to say, really, is that there really is a difference - and not a small one - between not giving a shit, and not giving a shit. Because the feelings of other people are not really my responsibility, unless I deliberately hurt them. The entire thing is about intent.

We talk about this a lot, one way and another. Everywhere. All of us. All of the time. We may not see it as all part of the same topic, because on one occasion we're saying "Wow, some people are really NEEDY....." and on another occasion we're saying "Politeness costs nothing". And so on.

So, it's complicated really. On the one hand we're all fed up to the teeth with those who are offended by everything, and for whom even walking on eggshells would not be enough, you'd have to levitate above them. On the other hand the world is full of arseholes who blunder about being tactless constantly, no matter how often you hint, and who are sometimes cruel. On purpose. And don't care.

Somewhere in the middle is sanity.

You know, it's a bit of a balancing act. If you are cowardly, you say little, or you become a "people pleaser". I am no good at staying quiet.

Oh, I can do it in small ways. If somebody says "What do you think......" I am perfectly capable of lying through my teeth so as not to hurt their feelings. At the very least, I hold back on what I'm really thinking. We all learn to do that, some of the time at least.

Quite often I choose to say nothing whatsoever rather than "get into it" with somebody. I mean, as much as I enjoy controversial discussions in my online world, it's different in a local social setting. Generally I follow that old maxim of making politics and religion taboo. There truly is a difference between party talk and Facebook talk. Well, if you have half a brain anyway.

Sometimes I choose to say nothing here online too. It's just not worth it with some arguments. Even when I know for certain that I'm 100% correct. Some discussions and some people just have a big sign over them saying "DON'T" to me.

This week I quietly and politely bowed out of a discussion that had dramatically changed topic, not because it had changed, but because I suddenly had a flash of realisation that the person I was talking to was compromised. I'm not quite sure how I knew, call it a hunch if you like, but it was as obvious as if the nutter on the bus had asked me to hold his camel. It made me pull back so fast, it caused others in the discussion to assume MY feelings were hurt. All sorted out now, but the point is that even silence can be a problem. It can give the wrong impression.

My son Tom, who has Asperger's, sees the world very differently to the rest of us, and sometimes finds our world, our society, our ways, very confusing. I have learned so much from him, from his "angle" that I always say he is my greatest teacher. I am quite sincere in this.

It's not unusual, if he is in an argument, to just go completely silent, because he doesn't know what to say. It isn't lack of logic, he has more of that than most of us. It's when emotion and logic are both involved and get tangled up together. He simply finds it harder than most of us to untangle it. We generally don't bother - whch is why fights start. I'm the type who carefully untangles them, to keep things calm. Tom just gets lost.

The biggest problem we have when communicating is when two "sides" are using different levels of logic and emotion. Of course, depending on intellect and mental health, people may only have limited amounts to offer. So, what happens, for me anyway, is when I am coming from a place of logic, and I see my "opponent" coming from almost pure emotion, I stop. I may change the topic, or just the tone. I may make light of it.....the joker's escape route.

They say it's better to be kind than to be right. I think this is true. I think the problem with quite a lot of people is that they forget that. And we ALL forget it from time to time.

So, why mischief?

Because all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Because it lightens the mood. Because our society is crazy and we reflect that. Because there is such a thing as harmless mischief. Because being serious all the time is hard work. And boring. 

And this does matter. It's good not to care too much about how people see you. If you're too self-conscious it holds you back in so many ways. It can really be a huge problem. It can make you a victim. You don't need that. On the other hand if you are so rhino-hided that you can't see when you've gone too far, you cause harm. As always, in the middle lies balance. 

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Week One of "The Challenge"

I was inspired by two lists circulating on Facebook of ways to improve oneself over time. It coincides with a new year, and while I'm not huge on resolutions, it's as good a time as any. The best time to begin anything is always "right now".

Here are the two lists:

I have back-up copies of both in case the pages are removed for any reason.

Now, I'm a great believer in compromise. So I don't think you have to follow these 100% to meet the challenge. But there are also limits to what can be considered taking part. So each week I'm going to blog, hopefully on the preceding Sunday, giving my thoughts on the week's challenge, how it could be adapted, and any other ideas I have. If you find this helpful, here it is. If not, no worries.


Week One, Part One - Getting up earlier.

For many of you a 6am start would be late; people have to get up to get to work, or get kids on an early bus etc. For me 6am just sounds horrific. I'm an early riser in summer, but in winter? 6am is dark and uninviting. So what's the PURPOSE of this week's challenge? It's to give you more time. Maybe some "me time" before everyone else gets up, or less rush for whatever you do have to do. If this involves losing sleep, the idea (I assume) is to go to bed earlier. That's not possible for everyone, but it's one way. Of course, for many, just getting a better night's sleep is all that makes early starts easier. So perhaps that could be your goal. I tell you, I have zero intention of getting up at 6am, but I shall endeavour to get up a little earlier in the spirit of the challenge, to start my day earlier, and therefore fit more in. But I won't feel guilty if I hit the snooze button a couple of times, because I'm a bit of a hedonist. The spirit of the challenge is achievement, and I can do that in other ways.

Week One, Part Two - Writing a Letter

This is such an old fashioned thing to do, and something I haven't done in years. The person who would appreciate it the most is my mother-in-law, so she will be the recipient. Perhaps you have somebody more interesting to write to, in which case you can make it a real work of art. I see this challenge as having several purposes. A random act of kindness, a creative process, and just getting out of a routine. It's different. Do any of us have nice stationery anymore? Well, I'll decorate a sheet of printer paper. If you absolutely don't have anyone to write to, write to yourself. A promise perhaps, or an apology! Or start a diary. Or create a list of your own challenges. In some form, put pen to paper instead of finger to key. The spirit of this challenge is twofold. Creative writing, and a kindness. You can find something that achieves those.

Week One, Part Three - My Personal Challenge

The overall spirit of these challenges is to be a better person, and think outside the box. It's easy to get in a rut, and some people are down so deep they need throwing a rope. It's a combination of physical and mental tasks, because they compliment each other, and it's all positive stuff. Not only will you feel a sense of achievement, but everyone around you will benefit. Win-win. If one day or even one week doesn't work out, don't give up. Catch up. If something is just impossible, there's always an alternative. Just keep trying.

I am adding an extra challenge for myself each week. You can copy mine or think of your own, after all you know best what you need to change in your life. This week I need to sort my books out. It's a long overdue task. I have a lot of books so it will take a week. I shall take everything off the shelf, clean it, and put them back tidily. A few spiders will have to be re-homed.