I’m in a bit of an odd, vulnerable place right not. And it’s been going on for about three months. Because I literally started writing this post in June of this year. And stopped.
I don’t know how to put into words how hard the last few months have been, if I’m honest. It’s been a rollercoaster of trying to work out what to do and how to do it, and if I’m entirely honest, it’s been painful and unpleasant and just not fun. A lot of it too has to do with stuff not really in my control. I am disabled and care for someone disabled, and the last few years have seen that ‘commitment’ as it were, rise and rise. The more time I put into getting better, it seems the more time I need.
In June, things really started to slip. I wasn’t in a fully regular routine and with summer just around the corner, all my grand plans for getting help and getting stuff done(TM) were shattered when various things happened. Fast forward three months, last week, and everything just… collapsed in a spectacular fashion.
There is a light at the end of that tunnel
This week, we’ve had a house full of sick people – my beloved caught Covid (he dodged it, somehow when we had it, but we think we picked it up at Alton Towers as a few days after our day there, he was so ill that, completely unlike him, he took to bed for most of the day from Saturday till this morning. He’s much better now, to my intense relief), and we’re slowly sliding back into a routine of sorts. But on Tuesday, after he’d thought about stuff I’d been saying I guess, he told me that he wants me to just focus on writing for a bit. To stop trying to fight against ‘the tide’ because though I was trying something big and bold, the public encouragement was there, but in private, more people wanted ‘a free slot if everyone else was paying’ than the people actually choosing to engage with the plans themselves. Months of work on designing a coaching project aside, the discouragement I felt – and if I’m honest still feel – became so palpable, that I … I spiraled completely.
My beloved to the rescue…!
Tuesday night, I’d had a rough day (plague house, shingles break out for me, cold-sores starting, the works), and I went up to bed and I said to him ‘I can’t do it’ and he said ‘k. Tell me what’s in your way?’ And I told him. About how people want to do it but don’t seem to be signing up, about how it feels like the wrong time to be asking people to commit to coaching in this environment, how most of all, it’s not easy to teach people mindfulness, abundance and accountability when I’m not a reflection of it myself. He went very quiet and said.
“I think it’s because you’re not writing. How about you stop and do that for a bit.” I told him that the business wouldn’t survive if I didn’t get this to work, and he said “We’ll make it work. Trust me.” And that was it.
I’m not saying it’s not going to be painful, but, he’s right. I wished for a way to afford to write again, and it’s not the one I’d have chosen, but I am grateful that he’s willing to back me until I’ve got that bit of my life square again.
It’s still taken a couple of days to write this. I’m still dealing with a shame spiral I CANNOT fathom, because I feel like, once again, I’m letting people down. But at the same time, I’m actually willing to look at my laptop again. I’m sad because I won’t get to earn my Remarkable the way I wanted to, but…I don’t need one to write. There’s a lightness of heart to go with the ‘oh, I don’t like this’ failure feeling.
So….yeah…that’s been my last three months. What about you guys?
(actually, one notable exception. Ludosport. I’ll talk about that next blog post).
21 years ago today, I was in intensive care. Concious, and actually, in good shape, just waiting for a transfusion. My daughter – who is also 21 today – had been delivered an hour or two before – and they’d nicked her placenta, and that created quite a serious bleed for me. I apparently lost over a litre of blood. Probably a good thing I was distracted with the baby girl I’d just had, huh?
21 years on though, I have a beautiful daughter, an amazing son, a good life. A great one in fact. But I still struggling sometimes. and lately, it’s been one of those periods of painful growth.
I’ve got a heart of glass
It’s often said in fact, I’m ‘soft’. I’ll give in easily when people ask me for things, though it’s very much a CPTSD/people pleasing thing. It is in fact why they’ve asked me to write a book about it. People pleasing is a major problem with people with most mental health issues, IMO, but I guess one of the issues I have with people pleasing is when you don’t keep doing it, others turn you into the bully, the villain. In my experience, instead of being thanked for supporting people as far as I have, I’m the ‘bad guy’ because they feel they can’t do what they want to do, but don’t want to acknowledge that they’re getting the help. And after a while, it leaves you feeling like saying no will leave you with a heart in shards, when they get upset about it and ‘fight back’.
The thing is, I’ve also got a really thick skin too – for criticism at least of my professional work. It’s an odd thing to think about, I guess, but it’s important to bear in mind that people like me – that work with other creatives, and support them as best they can – that give to the community – when they’re criticized for not continuing to do so because their boundaries are really difficult to work with and ensure that things are…stable, safe. And when referring to safe with boundaries, it’s something really important. Because honestly? We don’t handle boundaries well when we people please. And for me at least, it means my heart ‘breaks’ but bounces back of my thick skin, so the only person that really gets hurt…in my experience anyway…is me.
And that’s completely at odds with my ‘gratitude attitude’ (I’ll explain why I hate that one later) and trying to be happy and settled and….good. I wonder if anyone has any thoughts (kind ones please, I’ve got enough wounds right now, mostly self-inflicted. Right now, it’s holding course, it’s remembering that this is hard to deal with, that it’s NOT ME if I really need to fix my boundaries.
So, the first thing I really should say is that Thursday, ten months a year, is training evening, when we all go see our friends and train. I’ll also be talking about Se.Cu.Ri, which is a core principle of Ludosport, and matches a lot of my outlooks in life. Se.Cu.Ri is Servizio, Cura, Rispetto, or, put another way, Service, Care, Respect. Which leads me to the second point I love aboutLudosport. We learn a LOT of it in Italian. That’s not to say you need to speak Italian to join in, but the terms are a solid part of the sport, and quite honestly, I think that adds to the charm.
How I got started
Tempus, my beloved, started telling me aboutLudosport, and I’ll be honest, I was a tiny bit sceptical. But I started looking into it, and the more I looked, the more awesome it looked. I’ve been out of martial training (judo, karate, kickboxing and on), for a while now, so I had only really been walking and, quite honestly, dreading restarting couch to 5k, because I need to do something. I’ve got my Bodyfit plan to try (it’s dancing, which will be interesting) but, I wanted something else. We went for our trial session just before my birthday. I went in a bit …a lot scared, but came away desperate to start. Tempus and I had to wait a few weeks, but bar missing the odd week (COVID, training elsewhere), we’ve also started duelling fortnightly too more locally.
Where I am now
Where I am now is December, to now, I’ve learned a tonne. We’ve learned the first set of moves, and we’re into the second set, and to connect them up. I understand, but personally don’t enjoy the competitive side of it as much, but that’s because of issues I have with my own mental health. It’s important to be clear that a lot of that is about my mental health, and I’ll be touching on that later in the month, when I officially announce Run Girl, Run. But where I am now is completely adoring what we do. We’ve been out to meet and greet and promote to the public at the Bristol Light Festival, and I’m currently with the Bristol Academy, so if you’d like to like and follow them, please do. I’ll pop up on there occasionally no doubt, but it really is all about some seriously amazing athletes who are so caring, engaged and giving.
It’s not just about exercise for me (though, seriously, anything that stops me from needing to go do Couch to 5k when I’m scared to leave the house again is a winner for me, even if it challenges my mental health too), it also engages my brain. Thinking about both the dual languages that we work in, and tactics and everything else – it’s exercise for my body and brain. And I’ve got to be honest, I think that’s why I love it. I have to work at it on so many levels, engage on so many levels, challenge myself on so many levels.
I’m linking to a video I was part of …six weeks into training for an interview. For someone that works with production companies, I’m stupidly nervous on camera, but I don’t think you can really tell…much.
As is probably clear, I’m quite the geek. I’ll be talking about how more hobbies cross into geekery in the real world, but I’m a HUGE gaming fan. I’ve spent all of my life, since I was a young child, enjoying fantasy novels and I’ve gamed since I was about 9. From Heroquest, to D&D, I was a huge gamer until I had my children. After I left their father, I joined another gaming club and as I’ve talked about, a bit in ‘A Nanowrimo love story‘, I’m marrying a gamer and we met at a convention.
I thought for this post though, I’d share some of my favourite games, and aa few secrets about stories I’m writing right now. I’ll also share where I’m visiting today on the list for AtoZ (because I published this a bit later than I meant to. (G&H are shared for the visits, so I’ll do five on each, but from here on in, I’ll be doing around ten a day with luck. I hope to visit everyone though!). I’m also going to talk about why gaming seems to be considered a bit of a ‘duality’ even now for those of us that play.
My favourite games…
I gotta be honest, I love all games. I’ve already talked computer for Elden Ring, though I also play others. I’ve got a few games on my phone too, including Hearthstone, and we’re all currently playing our way through Elden Ring bar Artenapan. I’ve got a soft spot for simulation and worldbuilding games too, so I play a lot of things like Kingdoms and Castles, Suviving Mars, Terraforming Mars and the Tropico series, to name a few.
Boardgames and tabletop games feature heavily in my favorite things to do and play too though. Pre-pandemic (which is now over two years ago) we’d started playing Gloomhaven, and we’re hoping to pick that up again soon, but we’ve also got plans to join other people’s games and we’ve spent the last couple of date nights playing Terraforming Mars (the boardgame as well as the computer game), and Wingspan (ditto) and we’re looking forward to having a good explore at the UK Games Expo, later in the year.
And the secret?
I guess the biggest ‘secret’ is one of my main story series’ comes from a character and background I wrote for a game. We stopped less than six months into her story arc, it seemed like a waste, so Shula got set lose on the world. Or, will be. I mentioned her in B for books, but we’re in the process of setting everything up so we can run preorders and more. And on Monday, mine and other indie books (up to 60, the thread was really popular!) should feature in I for Indies 🙂 But Shula and some other characters are either people I’ve played in games or my partner (who is my self-confessed “bad idea bear” ala Avenue Q) has given me. Which is always fun. What I do know is Gaming is another storytelling outlet that I really miss, and I’ll be glad to get back to it fully 🙂
Fantasy has a special place in my heart – I’ve always read it. My first full length book that I read as a child was The Hobbit (or it might have been ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’), but, until recently, my fantasy writing mostly was ‘actual play’ or other stuff like that. Today, I’m kicking off a new free reader magnet. Those of you that have been around me a while might recognise Shula, Adana and Tavar/Taern. If you don’t, I’ll love to introduce you to them, and what better way than a reader magnet?
The Firemaids’ Temple
When Shula and Adana are sent to bring back the newly inducted Inari from the Temple of Fire and Fall, they’re unsure whether Taern and Halvar will be happy with the temple their sister has been inducted into. Whether the Fire or Fall temple, one of the boys will be unhappy – and with that, Inari may become outcast. And as the Isle of Fire and Fall does not welcome mages, familiars or mercenaries, so collecting her might be interesting…
A free introduction to the worlds Shula (A House at War) and Adana (Cry Wolf/One Shot), inhabit, coming soon!
The Firemaids’ Temple happens after the events of House at War, but before Cry Wolf, One Shot and Kingdom of the Phoenix (if these don’t look familiar, join my reader group!) so I’ve got a huge, sprawling fantasy setting coming up. Plus…some cool short stories, which I’ll just tease with covers 😉
Like many millions of people, I’ve now had at least* one confirmed CV19 infection. Irony, as the UK released all restrictions and we learn to ‘live with Covid’, two of us caught it. And while it was mild, I’m still tired, I’m still recovering, and I once again remember why my doctors are cautious of me, and I can’t even think or wonder how others might be coping with this, or not. And I’m just thankful for vaccines.
I’m actually thankful for a lot of stuff, which I want to talk about before I go after the government. Which I will be. I am thankful for the support I’ve had, the care given for vaccines, the fact that my GP has been kind, caring and working with me as best they can. I’ve never had an issue with our local surgery, and because they know us, they know when I ask for something, there’s a good reason for it. I’m also thankful though, that we’ve been able to follow all of the guidance to ensure that we actually didn’t get sick until year 2. Given everything that happened with Titanboi and his extra kidney (which ended, as in, the stent came out, the morning we went into a sixteen week lockdown in March of 2022), we’ve been lucky, and safe for the whole time. A lot of the time, that has been down to the choices we’ve tried to make, following guidelines, but, we’ve had so much that we can do that others might not have had the luxury of, and that’s important to be clear on. A lot of why we’ve been ‘ok’ is because we’ve had the opportunities that let us protect ourselves and our community.
We did also lock down, entirely, for the week and a half @artenapan and I were testing positive for. She had a terrible cough, and was tired (and still both are), and headaches, while I had all that, and a temperature of 39.8(C) for more than a couple of days. That temperature was the worst for me, and I had a BAD chest infection, so was given steroids and antibiotics. Artenapan spent the first ten minutes of us suspecting that she needed serious help because she had a ten minute coughing fit. Those ten minutes, I have to be honest, were the most scary ten minutes with her, ever. But we got her to stop coughing, we tested, and our LFTs were out in record time. In her case, 2 minutes. And, we then did what we could to protect everyone around us. We cancelled my son’s visit for Mother’s day (which we had this weekend in the end), and for the week we were both sick, it was kinda miserable in the house. We are, however, recovering. We are lucky.
This may not be the popular opinion but…
I don’t go political very often, though I am an outspoken about a lot on my own profile, and I’ll go on the record and say that the NHS rock. They’re doing a job they are not funded for, and that’s the government’s fault. And at every turn, the government – especially the current Tory cabinet, who I’ve lost track of through various reshuffles where they play musical chairs – are just insanely inept, and at every turn, demonstrate why politicians SHOULD come from the communities they serve.
My partner and I both feel that if an MP wants to judge someone’s life, they should experience it. Let’s see them live on the average wage, especially with our current energy price hikes. Let’s see them live on what people are earning at their poorest. Let’s see them deal with children that need special needs and work through their SEN meetings, and social service support. Let’s see them get the mental health support they need after ten plus years of cuts (and again, the NHS are heroes for giving us the support we get. I am NOT going after them, despite some of the issues I’ve had with them. I’ve had issues, yes but, Dr C and M, my last psych nurse, were actually my friends by the end of it. I still write to them twice a year. They gave me … not the life I had, but the best life I can have now back. I’ll talk more about that when I get to P for Psychosis, but… one of the things we’ve talked about is that if the government stopped defunding critical services, and expecting us to be ok with that. It’s not ok.
Full circle in one sentence
No thanks to the government, thank you to the NHS, who got me through a bout of Covid. Yes, we’ve managed to be the lucky family – so far – who lives with covid – but through no thanks of our local MP. He doesn’t speak for us, elected for us though he is. And the whole government? With the deaths and other issues that have happened since Brexit, and Covid (though some of it was unavoidable), they should be ashamed. They aren’t. But they should be.
I did also want to add…
I’ve mentioned the fuel crisis in the UK. Our energy price caps jumped by 50% now and it’s predicted it’ll happen again in October. We, as a family are still lucky, and safe, but I know many people that are not. Our government has done less than nothing to prevent the week of stress all of us have been through. And to be clear, we’ve been stressed and we know we’ll manage. It’ll be more money we pay out for our utilities, but we can do that. But we know families that are living in fuel poverty, and the insipid response, alongside the absolute clusterf*ck that was trying to get our meter readings in before the prices jumped, was absolutely insane. In my case, I was awake every two hours, and kept trying. Started at 11am on the 31st. Finally got my meter readings submitted at 4am the next day. I can only imagine what people living on the poverty line already are feeling, and the last thing we need, after two years of isolation, is to hit next winter, and be dealing with illnesses based on poor heating, and other problems related to poverty, let alone the mutations we are probably going to hit from Covid, the overstretched NHS, and the exhausted staff…many of whom may be just as affected by fuel poverty (no, I’m not kidding). So…this was C for covid, but it’s also C for ‘Can we vote them out and press charges?’.
*I say at least once because we don’t know if we’ve had it before now.