Hot Outside; My Brain Is Mush and Work is Good

Day off Blog post 3

Some feedback and a clarification from my last post; a couple of irl followers of mine said they didn’t really get the point I was trying to make in my last post. If I’m honest, I didn’t know either, so I’d like to clarify that I am not focusing on making articulate points just yet. For now, my approach is to go first, grow later. Enjoy the unstructured mess that follows, maybe one day I’ll start using proper structures.

Today is a super hot day and I do not feel like being inside. I don’t really feel like being outside, but I guess that’s the only other option. Work was very satisfying and summer-y yesterday, as the long-awaited garden centre trip finally happened which means people can finally start growing plants at the House. Planting sounds like something which should be amazing for mental health, and I am glad we’re finally getting underway, but like with everything that has a tonne of potential, it only works if people are well enough and motivated enough to enjoy it, so I’m hopeful but not exactly expectant of a blooming vegetable garden in the coming months.

In my own garden, I’m working on a greenhouse. Although of course I’m poor (or rather, trying to follow Raptitude’s approach to money and minimalism but half-heartedly, so I buy things cheaply and then feel sad about it) it’s not technically a greenhouse but actually a “grow rack”, and it’s already shown itself to be a far cheaper (£23 as opposed to £500) item, having first lost it’s plastic cover because it blew away in a strong gust, and then just today fallen apart and spilling all my newly potted plants. Hooray! To be fair to the grow rack it is VERY hot today and the plastic feels almost more flexible than it usually does, and now it’s all been put back together it feels like it’s gonna hold up…as long as I don’t move it.

I’m not really in a mental health space today, it’s too hot for big concepts beyond ice lollies and sunshine, and I’m not at work again until Sunday, which I’m hoping will not be quite so hot as we usually cook a sunday roast… *insert joke about cooking the staff instead here*. Generally, work seems to be going well; new management means a couple of things are changing now, like how we provide meals for residents. Instead of a structure for everyone of 3 days being provided a home cooked meal by staff, 3 days shopping and being paid back for cooking your own meal, and one group cooking session, the new system will be to cook meals for everyone until they choose to be responsible for cooking for themselves, and at this point they will be reimbursed. Lunches are now going to be made instead of given out as disjointed sandwich ingredients, and cereals/tea and coffee will be upstairs in people’s communal kitchen so people don’t need to ask us.

What’s mildly frustrating is that none of this is rocket science, even our manager admits she has been fighting for this system for ages, because not everyone has been cooking their own meals or even coming for ours, but I’m not too concerned. I’ve learnt in the last few months to let my job be simply a job, even though I enjoy what it stands for. I’m not doing anyone any favours by trying to also be my own manager, that’s not in the job description and it distracts from the actual work. I’m excited to see what happens in the new system, but it won’t be my responsibility however it goes, which takes a lot of the stress and the tension out.

I’m beginning to melt now, so I’m going to go outside. I’ve got to put oil on the back gate, so it doesn’t squeak, and if it doesn’t squeak, hopefully no one will lock it to stop the squeaking, and if no one locks it, it will be easier for me to get in and out of the garden, fingers crossed! I’m also going to try and do some collage, but it’s pretty breezy, so that might be a bad idea. I have the day off tomorrow again, and I’ll probs do something radical….

(Like be british, and moan about the weather, perhaps!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Off Blog Post 1: Inspiration, Perspiration, and Libraries.

Hi, blog.

This was my first attempt at a proper real world wordpress blog, with a chosen theme, an attempt at a structure, and even my linked up facebook page to go with it. When I started this, I was looking for a way to continue and expand the social activism that I had been feeling increasingly passionate about all through my university and tumblr days, and I felt I could bridge that gap between the echo-chamber bubble of rhetorical debates about “safe spaces” and TERFs and anti feminist men’s rights activists. At the time of conception, I was feeling burnt out by that cycle, yet still very aware of how important the core beliefs were despite the majority of SJW’s being seen as left-wing loonies. I wanted to make the world of social justice just that tiny bit more relateable and accessible, covering what it is like to be a social justice warrior, from someone who wasn’t afraid to embrace that label.

(These pictures were painful to find, does this toxic nonsense give anyone else war-flashbacks? I’m never going back to analysing this kind of stuff, it’s not worth my time, not that I ever seriously spent much time actually on this variety of content.)

Even as I type this jargon out now, I’m making typo’s and having to think just a little too hard about what exactly MRA stands for. As is clear from my lack of activity on this blog, and my growing lack of focus, the original mission statement has fallen away somewhat. I can know longer unironically embrase myself as a social justice warrior, although I’m still proud of my beliefs. I can no longer relate to the insulated bubble of uni-politics, and tumblr-politics, and other places where the minutiae block out all other schools of thought sans a brief “…and of course it’s important to bear in mind other schools of thought too” before leaping back into the familiar bathroom debate and plugging our fingers in our ears.

In my time away from this blog, I have realised several things:

  • I’m still very interested in writing a blog. However, like with most things, practise has got to make perfect. Instead of endlessly tweaking my about page to try and encapsulate a theme for this blog and then failing to follow through on it, I am going to delete my about page and practise writing on each of my days off until I have enough of that mystical being called “content” to actually describe and categorise something.
  • I’ve spent a fair bit of time away from deep thinking about political things, and I’ve been focusing my own energy more on my own mental health and trying to manage my own free time and find out more about myself, but I’m now ready to start looking outwards again, and my writing is going to have to be broader than political in order for me to keep quality and quantity at a sustainable level.
  • This blog is going to get just a little more personal, basically, and I’m going to aim to write on all of my days off  (4 days a week).

I’m also going to spend a little more time on the actual wordpress site itself, as I’ve recently in the last month rediscovered my joy of reading, and I’m now going to dedicate a little more time to following through on that. (I am still a little in disbelief that libraries are FREE, and as such I’ve lately got very annoying at work talking about all the books that I’ve read. Ah well.

I really enjoyed and appreciated that a couple of my articles, mainly Being the sole Social Justice Warrior got a couple of likes over the time that I’ve been gone, and that really makes me happy. I’ve never been quite so arrogant as to presume I’m writing for an audience, but I’m only human and it’s really sweet of people to like my content, it makes me feel important and also glowy ^_^. Ideally, I want to get into the habit of writing enough that I create more and better content, and maybe create something useful or interesting for even a couple of other people than myself, that would really be the point of writing here.

Hopefully I’m going to get better at editing!

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Note: Because I can’t really just get back in this water with no real motivation, I’ve got to admit that the latest kick in the arse was from a book called Blood Sweat and Tea by Tom Reynolds (Brian Kellett), which I picked up in, yes you guessed it, the library, my new favouritest of places. Not only was it a fantastic book/blog read experience, it was also a great example to me. Tom/Brian was writing this whilst he worked in the ambulance service, with all the stress and weird shift patterns that entails, yet was managing to write a post almost every day of the week. Sure, that might be more than would be necessary for me, but hey, I’ve really worn down the excuses I had that I was moving house, that I was starting a new job, that I was finding myself, that I was figuring out what to do with the blog, and now here we are, in unedited, unabridged, unfocused free writing hell. You’re welcome! And thanks for reading ^_^ 😀

How to love doing bad

*publishing this less-than-perfect both as a support to my argument and as a way to something, anything, published and hopefully get back into the groove.*

So I haven’t blogged in a while now, so I’d thought I’d write about why I even bother.
I knew I wanted to write something general about how stuff getting done is good, about how the value of practise is in the doing, expressing yourself. How activism is good because it is good, not because it makes the world perfect. Hopefully this will inspire you, if you feel like you need it, to get out and get doing your terrible terrible talentless hobbies, because it’s worth it. Here’s why:

1. Getting stuff done is good. The act of having “done” something has an outcome, which sounds obvious but it really can’t be overstated. It’s really important to value what we can do, and what we have done. Not in qualititive or quantative terms, but in inherent meaning. That you are alive today is a good thing. That you did something that you wanted to do is a good thing, regardless of whether you did it well. What matters is that you did it.
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2. Getting stuff done encourages you to get more stuff done. We are free, mostly. But we can easily act like we’re not, convince ourselves that it’s not worth starting anything, be it a change in career path or a creative project, because we’re not good enough yet.

But when you’re paralysed with fear of failure, you’re going to do nothing, and that’s far worse than making something terrible. That’s worse than making a monstrosity of a project or a terrible awful truly just bad all round choice; because you’re stagnant. You’re not learning from that. You’re frozen, what kind of a life is that?

By contrast, when you do stuff, you start to fail. And you generally, live to paint something awful/write a terrible post/sing badly another day. Generally, you keep living through your failures, and after a certain point, you realise that there’s no shame in failing. I failed constantly to be cool, and popular, but here I am still. You get tougher. You can do more and more and more things, because it’s good to do things, and it gets more fun.
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3. Doing stuff makes you better. Everyone knows that practice makes perfect, but does anyone believe it? And does it even matter if we do if we then interpret it wrongly? The people who are the most successful in life are not people who forced themselves into practicing an activity because they wanted to become good, they are people who did an activity enough that they became amazing because they enjoy the simple act of that activity; for what it is, not for the potential status symbol their talent would eventually become.

We think that doing stuff badly isn’t worth it, but that 99% perspiration that’s talked about? Bad stuff is what that’s made of, “bad” stuff is the seeds of good stuff, and not only that, it is valuable and good in its own right, in an expression of freedom and in the choice that you made to take that action. Don’t aim to be great, aim to have fun, and then if greatness comes, it’s only a perk that came of the main aim; to have fun and be a human who does things because it is good to do things.

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4. Doing things sends a message and makes a difference.
Activism is often held to a similar backwards standard; we can’t achieve perfection, so why would we even start? But again, the value is in the meaning of the actions we choose to take. “Someone”‘s (actually Bree Newsome‘s) action to take down a violent Civil War flag isn’t just that action, it’s a statement, with meaning beyond any larger picture. It tells people, she was brave enough to do this. She believes in this. This was done, by another person, who I could be like. Newsome’s action has value in how she inspired others, and in the story that her choice tells.

It’s not her only contribution to politics, she was arrested in 2013 about voter rights, but she’s simultaneously not an activism legend. She’s another person trying make this world a better place. Her personal inspirations for taking that leap into activism come from simply existing as a black female horror film creator; nothing magical, just something human and natural and most importantly, ordinary. Not perfect or unnattainable.

Each part of what you choose to do is valuable both on its own, and as part of a bigger picture, of personal development, of a part in the continuing civil rights movement, or whatever it is that is among the things you care about (and are about. Typos are fun!)
It will inspire you, and maybe others, to become more than what you currently are. It matters *because* you did it.

5. Doing things promotes personal growth in general.
Something that is “bad” is actually something that is simply new. Something that scares you, something that challenges you. This isn’t bad. This is an opportunity to learn. Every hurt is a lesson, every lesson makes you stronger. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

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We should REVEL in our bad talents. Our talents that aren’t actually talents yet, just good, just projects, just growth. Even when they don’t get any better, there’s still value. There’s value in learning about yourself, about how you handle frustration, how you deal with it, in seeing a hurdle, and reaching it. How hard this is to do and how long it takes for you to master it, gives extra beauty to how incredible the works of other people are. It teaches you how you handle jealousy and envy, it gives you humility in knowing what you cannot do (yet, or ever, it doesn’t matter).

A girl I know hates her art. Doesn’t everyone know this girl? Either that, or you are that girl. She looks at her art, that others admire, and hates it for not being what she wants it to be. She can’t see anything else, and even if she does, she can’t admit it, because it’s not perfection, or even good by her own standards, to like it would be a failure.

Ultimately, can we reach a better way?

But what if instead we revel in the boring “progress” part of the journey? The part that is beautiful because you made it, not because it’s perfect. The part that reflects that you love this, and you’re succeeding in doing this, purely driven by love and expression. Alternately, we could all decide tomorrow to have low standards; so we’ll always exceed them and we’ll never be disappointed again. Nihilism, “shoot for the stars and if you miss you’ll die in space which is pretty cool” style. Learning to revel in the mediocre, the fabric of everyday life. Choose your shitty hobbies and run with them, learn from them and enjoy them. Fill your home and your life and your time with rubbish, your very own carefully selected and lovingly nourished rubbish.

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Me, surrounded by all my awful but amazing things, which are great because they are mine. (Image shows a happy yellow labrador who’s head is poking out of an enormous background of autumn leaves.)

To finish off; here, have a song that I love because it likes to relentlessly jolt me into activity the moment I start playing it: