It’s been a little while since I felt like writing a post and this has been for a variety of reasons. Firstly there have been a couple of days where frankly I have been struggling a bit under the weight of a rather downbeat mood.
There are a couple of reasons for me feeling a tiny bit blue – but neither of them are serious and both pale into insignificance in the great scheme of things. However, in my experience (when it comes to emotional states) how you feel has very little to do with reality and is often just temporary perception.
Mine would have me believe that (in certain respects) I’ve not been doing as well as I could or should have recently and that because of this I’m less than successful in life than I would like.
The weather hasn’t really helped my frame of mind – and when I’ve tried to do things to that will bring positivity and order to my life – such as make my environment a tidy one – it’s dragged me down even further.
Summer can’t come back soon enough in my opinion.
I’m already sick of the inclement weather we’re enduring lately. Davey doesn’t do cold weather any more. His bones ache in lower temperatures and his hands quickly get cold without gloves or central heating.
Lord knows I’ve tried to be outdoorsy. Truthfully though I’ve not been ‘feeling it’ for a week or so and the damp, windy world outside my window has been a tough sell.
Despite it’s inaugural haircut of 2019 my back garden remains rather miserable looking at the moment.
I’m very much looking forward to the return of green leaves and that odd yellow ball in the sky that makes everything blossom and generally look a little more inviting.
I’ve discussed planting herbs this year with a friend – since he’s pointed out that I’d probably use these a lot in my frequent cooking – but this will require significant clearing and weeding of my borders to do so.
That’s something to work on in the near future – but on a day like the one above I only just managed to get the job done and take a picture before the heavens opened and the world filled once more filled with puddles and mud.
Since many days recently have been too grim to venture out very far at all I’ve also been tackling another task that I’ve been putting off for way too long.
We all carry so much needless crap from place to place throughout our lives in the name of sentimentality that sometimes we have to step back and ask ourselves why the items that adorn our walls, fill our cupboards and populate our shelves are there in the first place.
What purpose do they serve any more and do they bring any joy or happiness?
Many things we hold on to do not. They just sit there staring lazily back at us day after day after day after day with absolutely no identifiable purpose…
In my case one of my Achilles heels has been books.
From an early age I was taught to revere these and treat them with care because they contain wisdom, they’re important, and only troglodytes or Nazis dispose of them.
I’ve held on to legions of these since my degree years and I can’t remember opening a single one again since the time their related essays rolled off the press and into my tutor’s pigeon to be marked.
I finished my degree before the millennium…
Whilst leafing through one rather yellowed and dusty tome related to Arthurian literature (Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain – a great bedtime read for those crippled by insomnia) I couldn’t help but notice a bookmark, dating back (roughly) to the last time I paid it any interest.
UCI cinemas haven’t existed for around a decade and a half (they were slowly merged with Odeon cinemas in the early 2000’s). This Solihull outlet in particular was bulldozed to make way for a car dealership in 2005/6 (link).
The film it showed (Chain Reaction link) is so old that at the time Keanu Reeves was still best known for Bill & Ted’s excellent adventure and Morgan Freeman still had (some) dark hair.
So I had to ask myself why I was holding onto a book (and many other similar ones) that I hadn’t opened for 27 years…
Well the truth is that I didn’t need to – so I cleared out every book that had no current value to me, taking them to a charity shop along with a number of other items secreted around my house.
Bit by bit I spent a few days getting rid of a past that I no longer inhabit and haven’t for a very long time.
This only slightly lifted my mood however.
There are some things I can’t bring myself to dispose of – despite not using them very much any more so instead I tried to bring order to their chaos. Films and video games are something that these days take up way more space in my home than they currently account for in my very much more active life.
I decided therefore to pack away much of my old console game back catalogue and combine my DVD & Blu-Ray collection in alphabetical order.
This supremely satisfying task took many hours – but now every film I possess is not only easily available but in the correct order.
An alphabetised shelving unit is a thing of beauty.
Not even this act of neat freakery sorted my head out though and shortly after scratching this particular itch I found myself binge eating cottage cheese, apples and plums.
My post diamond target weight in eating has been (ahem) problematic – and despite trying hard to be good with a number of very on plan meals I’ve over indulged a bit more over the last two weeks than I should have.
I will admit to a bit of excessive relaxation that now has to be addressed by once more losing a few pounds.
I do wish that I didn’t have a tendency to deal with mood dips like this.
The behaviours they invariably give rise to are not only non-productive but now I also have to face my partner after such episodes (of which there have been several) when I feel like I’ve let myself down a lot – and admit that I’m not coping the way I feel that I should have.
People may laugh when I write that I’m overeating cottage cheese and fruit – but I can report that I have conclusive proof that it’s supremely possible to gain weight with healthy food.
If you eat too much of anything you’ll fill out.
It’s a fact.
The only real bonus is it’s not crap food full of empty calories and in the great scheme of things it’s doing way less damage than pizza, kebabs or chips ever caused in the past.
As well as dealing with the usual self loathing related to over indulging I now also have to continually remind myself that my related (habitual and well practiced) behaviour patterns are of no help in a relationship whatsoever.
I am no longer just a single guy who can metaphorically stomp back to his man cave, retreat from the world and bury his head in a video game.
Neither do I want to if I’m honest – because it’s never really worked for me in the past.
This means that for the first time in twenty odd years I’ve been going through a low patch – but also trying to share my more vulnerable elements openly with the person that I care about.
It’s tough though when you’re not feeling in the least bit lovable – what you really want early on in a relationship is to show yourself at your absolute best.
It’s early days and you don’t want to come across as an emotional cripple.
I’m an open person for better or worse now though and regardless of it being inconvenient I made a commitment to myself three years ago to be honest about who I am and how I feel about myself with everyone – and that goes double for people that I care deeply about.
Radio silence does no-one any good and instead I’ve tried to broadcast on all frequencies whenever possible – accepting help and welcoming a different points of view.
In the past I’d have simply buried myself (alone) in a TV box set or a lengthy video game.
When I look for another way I’m often pulled into positive spaces – such as a Dodgy (link) concert at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London, which is definitely outside my normal comfort zone.
Via my partner’s taste in music I’ve slowly begun to get into this band (some of their tracks I really love) and when she suggested we go together, rather than umming or arring about whether or not I’d like it I just said ‘yes.’
Saying ‘yes’ is way more powerful and positive than ‘no’ – which if you make it your default response (it used to be mine) means that your perspective never alters, and your mood or opinions never change.
In contrast ‘yes’ means opening yourself up to new experiences and potentially enjoying something that you normally wouldn’t have had a chance to.
Even if you don’t get pleasure from it (which I very much did) the act of doing something new alone can totally lift you out of your malaise and enable new thoughts and feelings.
In my case when I say ‘yes’ and headed off to London with my girlfriend I got to see a truly awesome group of musicians (and a couple of OK support acts – Terrorvision and Babybird) at the top of their game and experience the joy of dancing the night away alongside someone that I love to be with.
So as I type I’m in a much better head space.
My fellow traveller has managed to stop me turning tiny problems into a complete crisis, helped me reign in my excessive eating, enabled me to see things with a fresh perspective, and just reminded me that it’s OK to not be 100% all of the time.
It’s nice to be shown that someone wants to be there for you as much as you want to be there for them – and that you’re able to lean into their supportive arms when you don’t feel capable of standing tall on your own.
So – it’s all about perception.
A bad mood might not seem like it has any value when it hits, but it’s still an important emotion and arrives for a reason.
We can’t be 100% happy all the time, and there’s a value being vulnerable.
In doing so we can allow other people to show that they care, reminding us that we’re not alone in life, and that occasionally downbeat assessments of the world around us are simply a passing phase.
Honesty and truth are the only ways forward.
Internalising things did no-none any good in the history of ever – and my new life is continued proof of that. The more I welcome change and the more I share it the easier and more pleasurable it becomes.
Unexpectedly it’s led me from an existence where I was closed off and alone to singing the lyrics of Grassman aloud whilst swaying in time to an all encompassing wall of sound in my partner’s arms.
Lean into people internet.
They won’t let you down.