Saturday, 5 July 2014

Stop moaning; just be honest with yourself!

Blimey! It's been a long time since I last posted on here. Do I have to apologise? No, I don't think I have to; mainly because I'm not sorry. Isn't blogging all about saying what you want whenever you want? To be honest I didn't feel like ranting about anything much, really. Instead I've been busy working on bikes, building wheels, you know, being a mechanic--something that makes me very, very happy. As weird a career change it may be: from author/editor to grease monkey, I've not looked back once. And, anyway, who says I can't be a poetry writing bike mechanic? No, no, don't worry, that's possibly never going to happen. Me, writing poetry, that is. I won't rule out novels, given that I've still book 3 of the Branded series to finish, and a wonderful sci-fi story line, in addition to some other books banging around my head; I'm just waiting for inspiration to drop down on me. Thing is, with inspiration, you don't see it coming. It just hits you when you expect it the least. BOOM! It's like a calling which forces you to sit down and write, obsessed with finishing, eager to share it with others so they can enjoy the temporary new reality you've created. Once published, you crave the feedback--mostly the positive comments, of course--and revel in the satisfaction of having produced something worth readers' time.
And a recent post on Facebook was what inspired me to write this half-rant. You see, I have a lot of writer friends and I still, even after 1.5 years of abstinence from the writing community, see the same moans and complaints, the promoting, the sharing and whatnot every time I log into Facebook, and it gets on my nerves.
People complain about other authors not promoting them, or not helping them to spread the word about their new book, others moan about the lack of sales, whereas a few boast about theirs. Let alone the invites to like author pages; it drives me insane!
I recently mentioned (jokingly) that I may write a book about bicycle maintenance and what was the reply? 'I've heard the money's in non-fiction.' Oh, for fuck's sake! Does everything have to be about the money? I admit that I wanted to sell my books. As I said many times: once you hit the 'publish now' button, you want hard cash for your hard work, but I was always mainly writing to challenge myself, to grow as a writer and editor, and to entertain my readers. This should always be the priority. I'm not a whore to the market who writes what sells. If I wanted that, I'd write up another Fifty Shades of Grey, or go formulaic. Something I've never managed with any of my books and I'm proud of it. That comment about 'the money being in non-fiction' made me angry and smacked of much desperation. I think it's an aura many self-published authors have around them: the sick urge of becoming rich through writing. If you're in it for those reasons you'll be disappointed. Yes, believe in your work, but don't force it down other people's throats as you'll disgruntle a lot of them. It'll most likely backfire, too.
With so much distance to writing and the whole glass bowl of a community, I've noticed something: money's taken a back seat. I acknowledged a long time ago, that it's unhealthy to expect success or sales and I stopped promoting, too. Couldn't be arsed, you know? Okay, I monitor the sales of my books, but it's hardly more than say 30 or so. They either happen or they don't. And that's exactly how I feel 'real' writers should handle it: just bloody write and let things happen the way they're supposed to happen. All this faffing about the lack of sales, promoting or lack of thereof, is seriously putting a downer on inspiration. As someone who's in pain every single time when writing, I'd recommend to be grateful if you can't stop the rush of words coming out of you. Use this to your advantage. Write what you like, challenge yourself, grow. Be critical--be very critical--don't listen to those who blow smoke up your arse. To become successful in writing you need:
Talent
--most of SP authors lack this
Knowledge
--far too many wouldn't be able to efficiently edit someone else's book, so how can one expect they'd be capable of writing, let alone editing, their own?
And, what's really important: honesty. If you don't at least have talent, then you shouldn't be surprised by the lack of sales or negative feedback. And people who will let you know if you're talented of not are definitely not fellow authors, but readers--those who aren't your Twitter or Facebook friends, those readers who randomly got their hands on your books without preconception, those who don't owe you anything; they'll be brutal. Listen to them.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Oh, go on then, have a nibble!

Or two. Or many, and then wash it down with bottles of wine, or cans of lager. As you probably know, in December 2012, I've looked in the mirror, in front of which I'd stiffly waddled in my my stand-in-only jeans and my reflection stared back at me in disgust. Yep, I'd got far too fat for my own liking and my tight trousers--all of those I owned--had become far too uncomfortable. I've always said that I'd refuse just buying bigger clothes as it's not the solution to the problem: my rising like a dough.
So I did what was necessary: followed the less (eating) and more (control and activity). I started by walking (quickly) for an hour every day, and core, arm, and leg exercises, then began with skipping; bought a road bike which made cycling even more fun, took up boxing, and the kilos just dropped. Slowly, but steadily. In about a year, I'd lost 15kg, which is quite a healthy way of losing weight. But from then on I struggled to lose more. I've got roughly ten more kg to lose, which shouldn't be this hard since I got into a routine of cycling for hours a few days a week (I get quite agitated if I can't go for a ride), but my habit of eating/drinking when I'm upset has thrown weight into the other bowl of the scale. Fortunately, I haven't gone backwards, thanks to my exercising, but I haven't gone forwards either. Standstill--a most frustrating experience--particularly for someone with ADHD. I lack impulse control and, combined with alcohol, it means I get this 'don't care' state of mind. No idea why I struggle to keep it up since I'm not dieting, or denying myself anything. I'm not a fan of either, for that only creates cravings. I blame Kettle for their rather delicious seasonal Lime and black pepper crisps and the breweries, whose lager just seems to run down my throat after long rides on warm days, or the cool deep yellow juice the Chardonnay grapes produce. Oh, heck, I blame everyone who lures me with their tasty offerings. No, I'm just taking the mick here. I know I need to rein it it, summer's almost here, I've started my own business, and there's nothing to be upset about. If only I could find the reins now ...

So, kids, my advice is: don't try this at home, because if you have too much of this:

You'll soon look like this:

And want to do this:
 

If you find some Easter eggs, give them to those you don't like. :-)

Monday, 10 March 2014

Ouch!

That's how I feel as I type. Just recently I said that it's been a while since the iguana bit me and how sweet he's been, but that I have to be on my guard at all times. Today, I was a bit too cocky and promptly paid the price. Although I admit it was my own fault and Zorro was just telling me he didn't like my 'rough' playful treatment. Fair enough. I now he likes a bit of playing, but on his own terms. Anyway, he jumped forwards and bit in my arm, but let go rather quickly, too. If he'd been really angry, he'd just taken a piece of flesh. Lucky me. I'll only have a bruise and a sore arm for a few days.

A couple of hours after the iguana attack
Since the big boy is entering mating season, I'll have to be double careful; he doesn't like certain hairdos or colours. Oddly enough, they seem to change. Only red is still a big no-no, as is pink; black, grey or lilac can be worn if I'm calm.
You may not believe it, but iguanas are sensitive to mood swings (or periods in women) and since I'm a little off-kilter at the moment, he's reacting. Ah well, it means I've got one more shirt for the workshop as he bit right through it. He's now fast asleep, looking very cute, though probably dreaming of his brief moment of victory.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

The incomprehensive absense of happiness

My happiness, that is. I've been feeling pretty low of late, literally off-balance, and I'm struggling with piecing myself back together. Okay, admittedly, I haven't been happy--I mean really happy in months, but I think it's got more to do with my constantly anticipating the big whack over the head. Yes, I may be even scared of being happy, because up to now I've always been pulled down so quickly after a brief period of feeling good, I normally don't even know what's hit me.


At the moment--for the past few weeks--I've been feeling like life's a constant fight, with my landlord war, a few jobs falling through, people not keeping their promises, and other interpersonal issues, etc., it struck me rather hard; yet I kept going on auto-pilot, getting up every day, doing the things that need to be done. I assume I pushed myself forward to avoid a massive depression. Depressions are like cold sores: they just pop up out of nowhere; your body knows best when your soul is suffering--most certainly before you know. Like a latent virus, it lays dormant, until someone goes and pokes it. I know when that happens and have then to run some extra power to keep it under control. It's a bit like you're downloading a massive file to your computer and it slows all your other applications down. I'm constantly aware of my depressions and, although trying to not let it affect me, it does. All I want then is to withdraw myself, avoid lots of contact with people. Of course it doesn't work like that, so I go for bike rides, out into the sun, away from situations that involves interaction as I'm not sure what can happen. Of late, I've been worried I may just break down. It happened to me once; a nervous break down and it ain't pretty. Okay, it's been many, many years and those were the early signs of my depressions I never thought I'd had. Back then I had a lot going on and kept pushing myself to function until one incident set the whole thing off. I'm worried it may happen again as I'm currently not myself. Quite frankly I don't like myself much at the moment; I'm whiny, mostly anti-social, and am destroying everything around me with my negativity. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm walking about with a sign, saying 'I'm depressed and I hate life', far from it; if you saw me when interacting, laughing, joking, being the sunny me, you wouldn't even know what's going on inside my head. To the observer, I'm a normal woman, enjoying life, but it's a mask. Possibly, because I don't want to be a burden to others, or let them inside my head. Yet, those I really like and trust are suffering and that will most certainly end up in them taking a step back, which then upsets me and here is when the circle closes. My mood swings are almost unbearable. They've become more frequent; one minute I'm fine, the next I'm fighting with tears. The tiniest situation/set back can trigger a change and me, being well aware of what's just happening, is gathering all strength, pride, mostly supported by the fear of embarrassment, in order to avoid bursting into tears there and then. It feels as if a stronger me is trying to protect the weaker me, and it all happens without others even realising what's going on in me.
I remember when I was going out a lot, always partying, surrounded by a good group of people, I was asked by one of the bouncers if I were ever unhappy or sad. I was bemused as to why he'd asked such a question. Well, he explained, he'd always see me happy, smiling, laughing, having lots of fun and he found it odd. On reflection I can safely say that I felt unhappy, just like I feel at the moment, and have just shoved it aside, mainly to please others. You could easily call me at midnight, when I'd just gone to bed, to come to the club and I'd have a shower, get dressed up and cycle into the city to party till the morning hours. I don't do that anymore. Nowadays I listen to what my soul tells me. If there's one person I need to please then it's me.
It doesn't make me happier, though. If I ever find the recipe of happiness, I'll share it with you. For sure.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Help, a dragon's on the loose!

In my flat! I had to take care of some online business and the sun was literally pouring into my living room, so I let Zorro roam around a bit. He loves exploring and, as mating season seems to approach, gets a little unsettled in his own house. It's also a good opportunity to take some new pictures post them. He's grown so much and is beautiful to look at with his orange-coloured legs and spikes. Unfortunately, my mobile can't capture the colours as well as the naked eye and the turquoise subtympanic shield (the big scale on his jowl). 

 
 
He's been a gem most of the past year; a massive relief as I was really out of my depth for a while when he continuously attacked me and I had to make a trip to A&E. I always dreamed of having an iguana his size (or bigger), but reality is harsh when you're chased around your own home, or can't go near your animal if he's hurt himself. His calming down makes life a lot easier and I'm glad to have stuck to my guns when people advised me to get rid of him. 
It's been a while since I was able to have him sit next to me on the couch without it ending up in a blood bath. 
By the way, talking of green/orange: I took the opportunity to show off my beloved Werder Bremen jersey from 2004; it's signed by the whole team, including coach and manager. Yes! I used to hold a season ticket and every weekend was dictated by football.  

Monday, 17 February 2014

A year is 28cm

or 11 inches. That's the combined number of cm lost around my belly, arse, and legs. I'd started--sort of--in December 2012, with going for easy walks in the snow and eating a bit more controlled, but the what I called 'exercise regime' started in January last year. I'd got into the habit of floor exercises to whip my abs into shape and wake some of the other muscles from their slumber. Luckily, muscles have memory and my abs was very quickly nice and firm--albeit not visible under the masses of fat, but I knew it was only a matter of time, even though I doubt I'll ever be 'ripped' as I don't find it attractive. Not in men, and not in women. And I like my curves to be honest. However, after I'd reached my 10kg goal in May, I stopped going round the park as 1. it bored me stiff, and 2. I had terrible shin splints, only aggravated by skipping when I took up boxing. Skipping is one of the best fat burners there is. Excellent for HIIT and only a few minutes every other day will do wonders. I mostly did 10 to 15 minutes and lost more weight than in the first few months of walking an hour a day. Plus, skipping is fun and easy to vary. If you're not hopelessly terrible at coordinating feet and hands, that is. I still have some 'tricks' to learn, but I'm doing not too bad. If only it weren't for the damn shin splints. Nasty.
Anyway, shortly after, I stopped all exercising, just riding my bike to and from the shop, working as a mechanic. Okay, that's quite a good workout for your arms and chest, but that's about it. Surprisingly, I kept losing weight; not as much as I'd lost beforehand, but still a good result. In December last year, I started to go on longer rides on my red bike (one to three hours with a few sprints in between) to get back into training. I'm currently in the progress to lose the next 10kg till May and it's going rather well. For the first time in years, those ugly fat rolls on my back are melting, dareisay, they're almost gone. (Yay.), and it shows in my face, too.

Like last year, I've started to keep a diary of my weight loss in cm, as it's a far more accurate tool than a scale. As soon as you exercise and build muscles you put on weight, but everyone knows that.
The results of my trusted tape measure are as follows:
Belly: 12cm (4.7inches)
Arse: 9cm (3.5inches)
Legs: 5cm (1.9inches)
And that's 15kg (2.3 stones) to you and me. Most certainly not a massive amount, but it shows. And it has been fun so far because I haven't denied myself anything. It's not a diet, but a lifestyle change. All I needed was to move my backside a bit more and boy, do I love it! Today, I was wearing a thick jumper under a jacket which I've had for a few years now; nothing special you may think, but that jacket was always a tight fit with a thin zipper jacket underneath. Today, I still had some space in it! Just wonderful. Unfortunately, most of my fat sits smack bang at my belly, the worst place health-wise, as I'm sure that my poor organs have quite a layer around them, too. Fortunately, it can be reversed and that's what I'm working on.
I've got 5kg to go till May, then another five till end of this year and I'll have achieved my personal target weight, which will put me right in the middle of my personal healthy weight bracket.
And that means I'll have lost 25kg (3.9 stones). Can't wait!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Restless, my ADHD is getting the better of me

I haven't cycled properly for a few days; first it was just miserable out there, windy, cold, rainy, then I got ill and didn't even feel like getting up. Today, though, I felt a tad better and the sun made a proper appearance, beckoning me to come and play. I decided to go for a nice and easy ride with a member of my cycling club and we went through the city, enjoying the weather. When we came back I felt like I could do more, but cautioned myself, knowing I need to be up and fit for the academy tomorrow. However, I felt jittery, as if fireworks are about to go off. Weirdly enough, while riding, a car overtook me too close for comfort, apparently he was about 20cm (8inches) away from me, but it left me cold. I said to my companion that if I lost my cool about such a thing I'd be a busy girl.  Normally, on a full-blown ADHD day, I'd got my knickers in a twist and would have cursed after him, loudly, while shaking my fist. Then again, I generally know when it's such a day, which this one isn't. At least not one of those aggressive ones, but more a 'putting my foot in'. Thinking of it, it looks like I'm finding myself in a series of ADHD days. Just on Thursday I was introduced to a very nice man called Bob. The person introducing him was about to tell me who Bob was and started with: Bob's ... when I, without thinking, opened my mouth and blurted out, 'You're uncle!' earning me two pairs of confused looking faces. Ehem. Yes, it was rather impulsive (and admittedly funny), but as uncontrollable as a tick. No idea where it even came from. Luckily, Bob and I had some good conversations about bicycle mechanics and all was fine. As I said, a very nice man.
So after the ride today, I went to my regular local bike shop to see what's happening and saw that a girl who's worked there on and off, had her new spd pedals on her bike and here I go again: totally uninvited the words tumbled out: 'Oh, you've got your new pedals, gee, they're soo ugly!'
I could have just kept it shut and not say anything, right? It's not that she asked me what I thought of them. We joked a little about my ... how can I put this ... honesty and she was fine, but it brought home again that living with ADHD can be a bit of mine field. My quick mouth has got in trouble on more than one occasion and I'm sure I've hurt some people along the way. Never intentionally, that's not the kind of person I am, but sometimes I say things that make me wish for a transporter beam to get me out of this precarious situation I've managed to manoeuvre myself into. Incidentally, I've shot something at the owner of the shop, a man I very, very much like, which was meant to be banter, but a tad tasteless, I think. Luckily, he knows me well enough to see I wasn't being serious, at least I hope so, but I'll have to double check tomorrow.
And the feeling of something's going to erupt didn't stop there; at home, I settled down for dinner, just to get up again, then sit down, and get up, sit down and get up. I just can't find the calm to keep my arse on my sofa. I got up to clean my smudged glasses, but instead go to the loo, wash my hands, hang the laundry, make a tea, get back into the living room, sit down and try to remember what it was I wanted to do in the first place. Then get up again to rummage for a piece of paper I documented my weight loss last year, since I wanted to look for it anyway, find it, sit down and start comparing figures, then get up again, because I finally remembered I wanted to clean my glasses. Done that, I'm finally sitting down, wanting to watch a documentary, but am forced to get up again, because I just can't sit still tonight. A hot chocolate and another time sitting down later, I'm abandoning the documentary to write this post. I feel that if I have unsolved issues, I'm far less likely to calm down until they're resolved. ADHD, uh? One must love it as there's never a moment of boredom.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

What's wrong with you people?

I'm ill--a strange combination of flu and cold, which had me sleeping, sneezing, coughing, and whinging all day yesterday and, although I think I still have a fever today, I felt much better and braved a cycling trip to Dalston. A mistake, by the looks of it, as I'm having shivers again. Just great. Being ill ain't all that nice, and I can't go for a ride, therefore I'm a foul mood. Originally, I'd planned to go on a short ride with one of the members of my cycling club, but it seems this guy is as reliable as leaf in the wind. He's now repeatedly promised to come on a ride with me, yet cancels time after time. I've now decided to not take him seriously anymore, no matter how hard he tries! It's not the only disappointment, to be honest. I'm fed up to here (imagine my hand going over my head) with people making promises they don't intent to keep. One person promised me I'd be the first to be called once there's a need for a mechanic, yet now I 'm learning I'm considered among others, and it's unlikely to be taken on. Another person promised me a job back in November, things went a bit wrong with that shop, they've now packed it in and I never heard of them again. I was told I can build wheels for another shop, that offer was never discussed after that. I recently went out for a coffee/beer, where we were talking about the opportunity to rent a container together, and that guy seriously made it sound like it was his idea when, in fact I approached him since I know the person who rents the containers. I've been sending updates about the funding for my business, yet I heard nothing. What's wrong with you people?
Admittedly, I may not be the easiest person to deal with as I'm passionate and I'll go for it when I want something badly enough. I may jump ahead of myself, but equally am able to rein myself in. And in the case of wheel building, I didn't show evidence of having a firm grip on the task -- for many reasons, but that doesn't mean I can't do it. At least talk to me about things. If you don't want me to do it, then say it and don't leave me hanging. All this non-communication is pissing me off. Royally!
And don't get me started on people who think my lack of experience as a mechanic means they can use me for free to their own advantage. Not going to happen, I'm afraid. It's my choice to help out, and that usually happens when I offer; expecting me to spend a few hours of my time without being paid is rather rude. So fuck off! I have to pay rent, too, you know?
Those, and many more incidents led me to the conclusion I'm way better off doing my own thing. I hate people who break their full-mouthed promises. If you can't be arsed to keep them, don't make them. Well, at least I know now where I stand and you watch out: payback time will come, and when you need me urgently, you may feel the repercussions of being such an arsehole to me in the past. Manners and common courtesy don't cost a thing!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Some expressions are better than others

I think I shocked the world today. Okay, not the whole world, but definitely the world surrounding me. Everyone who knows me is aware of my not being keen on children. Never have been, never will be, hence my decision not to have them. In case you're thinking I'll change my mind once I'll meet the right guy (often cited argument when I won't budge from my opinion; trying to convince me that I'll be a happy mum some day): don't. It's a pointless waste of time trying to argue with me. And since I've got those two running kids living downstairs, it's got a bit worse with my dislike for children. Although the girl doesn't seem to mind; as soon as she sees me, she comes running and hugs me. Not really sure why I deserve this, but hey, I'm a hugger, too, which means I can relate, because I also hug people I like, whether they want it or not.
Moving on. I had to go to Noah's for a tricky freewheel situation. His wife was there, and so was his newest addition to his family, born in December, if I remember correctly. It was hilarious when Noah asked me if I'd met his youngest, saying, 'You'll like this one, he's really quiet, and friendly.' I grinned and asked his wife if I could hold him. I think she was scared for his life, wondering if I'd bite his head off or something. Nah, far from it. Babies I can deal with (for five minutes), and this one was just as the father promised. If only all children were like that, I'd be a lot more relaxed. His brother isn't such an angel, cries far too much for my liking, but hey, I'm not the one having to live with that, right?
Anyway, we got the freewheel situation under control and I went home to my very own 'baby', who, as soon as I opened the door to the vivarium wanted to get out and have a nosey around the flat. Needless to say I didn't let him. That 6kg dragon can cause quite a bit of havoc with his tail--or body in case he decides to jump at someone/something. I thought I'd share the two pictures. When I looked at them I had to laugh out loud as my, as well as the baby's expressions look somewhat between Oh, shite, was that a bomb going off? and Crikey, I think I just shat myself.
Just fantastic! I find I look far more relaxed with my scaly friend, but it's worth a laugh.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

I got pranked!

My beloved red Viscount
And I wasn't amused. At all. Despite my normally sunny nature and good sense of humour, I seem to have left my ability to laugh at home when I visited my local bike shop before I went for a ride. Okay, I had a bone to pick with them and basically went in and straight for the throats, which had them in stitches. It appears I'd also left my expression 'I mean business' at home and came across like a little hissing kitten. Doh!
In their defense, they didn't do anything wrong; it was more of a personal issue and I needed to get that off my chest. As you know I'm quite the outspoken person and if I feel upset about something I'll bring it up--sensitive little flower, me.
Because I didn't plan on staying, I simply leaned my bike against the wall, smack bang in the way. You could go past it, but it wasn't ideal. Once I had said what I wanted to say, I left for the loo and when I came back Alex was busy with a customer and Brian with a bike, while Jesse worked away in the back. That's when I realised my beloved bike was gone. I checked outside at the back, assuming Alex had put it there, but I couldn't find it. It wasn't inside the shop or the back with Jesse either. Now Alex had gone outside with a customer and I thought he may have taken my bike to ride along, but he came back with empty hands. So where was my bike? I started to get really anxious as it means the world to me, which the guys know, and they could tell my edginess. Not that they'd cared. They were having way too much fun and carried on, telling me nobody was in the shop front when I was in the back to the loo and, apparently, the pub next door has always dodgy people around (not true, it's a decent old-fashioned establishment), but you never know. My panic rose and I demanded to get my bike back. Now! They said I
Two culprits 
should ask in the pub and, from Alex's winking at Brian, I had a feeling it may just be a joke--which I didn't find funny the slightest. With smoke coming out of my ears, I stomped into the pub and told them the guys were taking the piss. The woman behind the bar looked rather confused, and when Brian entered behind me, grinning, she said, 'Oh, but there was a guy just here, saying you sent him to pick it up and bring it back.'
Brian's face fell and I lost the plot, now really worried about my bike's whereabouts. And I did something uncharacteristic for me: I took off, almost taking the pub's door out of its hinges, loudly cursing. Brian followed shortly after, laughing, asking me if I'd like to have my bike or not.
The wonderful woman was in on the prank, but decided to give Brian a taste of his own bitter medicine, which had worked. Well done, I'd say. And so deserved. I still wasn't amused and needed that 3-hour ride badly. It took me about an hour to get it out of my system, before I could forgive them their cheekiness. In all fairness, I deserved it, parking my bike where it's in the way, and the guys knew they could do it with me, even though I wasn't a good sport yesterday.You can only love such a great bike shop, who have plenty of humour, and if they're not playing pranks or tease me, they're actually looking after me rather well.

Monday, 20 January 2014

You should drink water!

Very brief next installment. Some things happened that kept me from writing. When I'm not in the right head-space it's impossible to step into the scene and write. It's been days since I actually wrote something at all. I'm not stressing, just a bit concerned that I may lose the connection. I'm again worrying that I may not have enough material, or that what I've planned might not work out. I know the worry is probably unfounded, up to know, I've always looked back, shaking my head about my own silly thoughts. Elaine is a great character and so is Mr. Obnoxious, and there's some real bomb as a surprise lurking, but I'm terrified of the space between all those twists. Don't get me wrong, it's not a moan, but merely what I've said I wanted to do: document my thoughts on the process of writing a novel.

                                                                      ~~~~~~

He grinned from ear to ear. 'Well, in that case I'm guilty, too. Anyway, nice talking to you. Enjoy your evening.' With another wink, he turned and left me standing, lost for words. Yes, I thought, and you deserve your secret name. How could someone be so oblivious to a person's dislike? I had no idea why he kept back for more, maybe it was some sort of game for him, trying to make me like him. A challenge, apparently, most men love. If he doesn't back off, I'd give him an earful.
'You all right, love?' Gary asked when I returned to the table.
I nodded, pressing my lips together.
'He likes you.'
'Tough, because that feeling isn't mutual. Could you please hand me the butter, Ronnie?' Changing the subject seemed a good idea. That guy didn't deserve any more of my time, so there was no point to elaborate.
'Okay, sorry I said something,' Gary muttered, tearing a piece of bread off the baguette.
'It's all right,' I replied. 'So, what were you up to this afternoon?'
According to Ronnie, he and Ben played chess, while Gary headed to bed, farting as he slept.
'Too much information here.' But I had to laugh. The three were refreshing, distracting me for periods of time, and that's what I was here for, right? The hours flew by, and the wine went down our throats, so rapidly that, at half ten I had to excuse myself. After good night air-kisses from Ronnie and Ben, and a wet smack on the cheek, plus bear hug from Gary, I left the dining room, concentrating on my walk. Not with much success. I tripped over my own feet and into the hall, helplessly trying to find something to hold on to.
'Whoa, lady, be careful.' Two strong arms grabbed me.
'Thank you,' I slurred.
'Don't worry, it was that last glass, I'm sure,' he said, this big, smug grin again on his face, still holding onto my wrist.
'I'm okay now, you can let go!'
'You sure?'
I wiggled my hand free and nodded. 'Positive.'
'Right,' he replied. 'I hope your hangover won't be too bad tomorrow. You should drink some water.'
'I don't know why this is your business!' How dare he told me what to do.
He frowned. 'Just sayin', you'll feel the amount of wine tomorrow.'
'Excuse me?' That was just bordering on rude. I've had enough and turned on my heel.
'Trust me, lady, you want to drink some water.'
'Ah, leave me alone,' I said, trying to take the steps with as much grace as I could muster. If only they'd stop blurring. Downstairs, the door closed, muffling the chatter and laughter. On the last step, I stumbled and landed on my knees. 'Damn,' I muttered to myself. It took me a few seconds to get back onto my feet then, using the wall as support, I finally arrived at my room.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The hidden world of living with ADHD

You say your quiet goodbyes, turn on your heel, and leave, hoping nobody saw the hurt surging through you, carried by the self-hatred, fed by a recurring feeling of helplessness.
Belonging; all you wish for.
Acceptance; have you ever been?
Love: how does it feel?
How many times more can you take this? You carry on walking, holding your head up high; anything to hide the tears, right?
 
After having an uncomfortable conversation recently I withdrew to reflect and, to be perfectly honest, fight with tears; in a nutshell the person said I'm too full on—something I've basically heard all my life.
Time for a bit of truth about living with ADHD. This isn't an easy post, but I'm sure I'm not the only one experiencing this. With ADHD it's all or nothing, and rarely something in between. People with ADHD, and I'm no exception, tend to hyper-focus and, particularly when it's something they like/enjoy, it's almost impossible to rein themselves in. I also talk a lot; it often feels like I need to fill a silence, even when it's probably not needed. It's not that I won't have anything interesting to say (according to those poor people being fed my constant stream of words), but it can just be overwhelming—or get a word in edgewise for that matter. I often realise that people are backing off when it's too late, which then results in me being hurt and mostly angry with myself. I'm a grown-up woman, for fuck's sake and should know better. Very unlike many with ADHD, I'm perfectly capable of reading expressions, even 'feeling' something isn't right and automatically assume it's to do with my being too 'intense'. And often rightly so. Yet I can't seem to stop myself.
You will have to believe me when I say that I'm my worst critic, always have been. In year eight, I think, we had to write a self-portrait, basically describe how we see ourselves. It was the only ever essay of mine that received full marks. I remember my teacher saying that she's never seen someone going to court with herself as I'd done. Brutally honest, no punches being held. And I did it as if it were the most natural thing on earth. Not because I was asked to, but because that's how I am. Always. Often to the point of tipping the balance in favour of unhealthy and I plummet into serious depressions. Managing ADHD without medication means that life is exciting when everything goes well, but if someone happens—and it can be the tiniest incident—it's dangerously going downhill if one's not careful. I had a few hefty lows I thought I'd never emerge from again, but thanks to friends, and my iguana, I pulled myself out of that hole. I remember being so down—it was back in Germany, when I was ready to fill the car's tank to the brim and drive into a wall. I'd had enough of the struggles. Yes, ADHD's positive side is that you always manage to get up after falling, brush off the dust and focus on what's ahead, but the negative side is that you fall equally often and that so hard, that something inside of you breaks. It's not fun, let me tell you that. The reason I'm still alive, and I'm not joking here, is my little iguana girl I had back then. I looked at her, as she slept peacefully, trusting, and I couldn't go through with it. After all, when I bought her, I promised to look after her until she dies, and I never break my promises.
As a kid, I had no idea what was wrong and why others rejected me; I was never part of a group, but more the loner, even worse, the black sheep serving as a punch bag when others had bad days. I got beaten up every day by my class mates and never stood up to them. Why? That's a question many asked me back then, I think it may have to do with the fact that I came home from being bullied at school, to being bullied by my mother, who often enough hit me, or even beat me up until her frustrations were gone. Nobody knew about my ADHD, I was diagnosed in my early thirties and, thinking back, despite my being a 'good girl' I knew I had my phases. As a kid you just act and people think you're a terrible rebel, which I honestly wasn't. Sure, I made some poor choices, like throwing a brick through a window of a parked car—no idea what I'd been so angry about, but I'm sure it had to do with my mother. We constantly clashed as I grew older and developed my own strong opinions. She wasn't fit to be a mother, let alone to a child with ADHD. I may not have been an angel, but I certainly didn't deserve the abuse I received—verbally and physically.
Don't get me wrong, I don't like the wording 'suffering' from ADHD, because I don't—at least not directly. More than anything I'll suffer indirectly, for I managed to scare away yet another person I just happened to like very much. I guess people must feel suffocated, inundated by my liking them. Nobody can ever say I'm not passionate. I am. Sadly I get carried away without noticing before the person flees as fast as his or her feet can carry him or her.
That said, I managed quite all right with my ADHD, took feedback from teachers, and later, friends on board and continued to work on myself. It was hard and often painful, and you  have to be brutally honest with yourself, which is not an easy task. And all in order to live a 'normal' life. Nobody wants to be the socially awkward person. Interestingly, I've always attracted people, due to my open nature. I talk to everyone, give every person a chance. This is something good right? That doesn't mean I make friends with everyone, nope, I'm rather selective in who I want to spend time with, or invite into my heart/life. True to ADHD fashion, it's all or nothing and I don't want to change a thing; my being alive doesn't last forever, so anyone who is destructive to me will be rigorously cut off. Door closed, no way back. I'm not the most forgiving person when you hurt me and don't have the guts to apologise and mean it.
Talking about apologising: I've done a lot of it in my time. Due to my habit to blurt things out without thinking, I've upset quite a few people, which was never my intention. I'm not someone who'd deliberately hurt someone. Those who know me from several fora can will tell you that I'm forthright, but I don't go and try to find vulnerable spots to pick on them. I've been far too long on the receiving end of it and it's not a nice place to be.
You're probably wondering where I'm going with this, and I won't keep you any longer: living with ADHD has good and bad moments. Despite often being a pain in the arse, I'm more than proud of the person I am. I may talk a lot, but if you aren't well, I'm the first to ask what's wrong, or how you're doing. If you come to me with a problem, I'll keep mine wrapped up and give you my undivided attention in order to help; and I'll be the one that offers you a hug when I sense you need one. You see, given the shite childhood/adolescence I've been through, I'm a warm person, who's able to love.
Now tell me again, you're sick of the sight of me. I'm just a girl who's opened up her heart to you. Things could be worse, you see?

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Back to exercising!

Fruit basket
Since I've successfully hit my goal of losing 10kg in in the first five month of 2013, I though I could get back to it and lose the next 10kg--also by May. Fortunately, I'm proof for if you 'do it the correct way' you don't put it all back on again; nothing worse than jojo-dieting. Dieting in general is shite, so, don't try it at home, kids.
As you may remember, I did a lot of 'floor-exercises' at home. All one needs is a balance ball, some weights (in my case with water filled milk bottles as I increased the weight) and most of all: the will to get into shape. It took me a while to find out what works for me, and the answer was HIIT (High Intensity Intervall Training). Only 5 to 15 minutes of it, either rope skipping or running up a hill (not my thing, the latter) is enough to get the ol' body burning the calories for hours afterwards. I got a bit busy with the bike business, so I completely stopped all exercises, except cycling. Worked a treat, too.
As a result I'll now try a combination of a few things:
  • boxing at least twice a week, which will take care of most of my muscles. Those I didn't train in circuit training will be trained at home
  • cycling every day--longer routes with HIIT included.
  • Rope skipping, hope my shins won't play up again
My diet will be as usual: varied, healthy, portion control. Roughly about 1500 calories a day. But I'll not deny me anything I want. Nothing worse than having cravings. Bad idea. Chocolate and ice cream are good, you hear me? So is wine or beer, by the way. It's all about the right balance.
I've become rather dizzy of late, feeling faint when not eating, particularly dangerous when being out on my bikes, but I've had good results eating a massive plate of protein, i.e. omelette with lean bacon and good sausages. Lasts me for a few hours.
I'll keep you posted about my results. It's a bit tougher to shed the pounds now, because the body just wants to cling onto the flap. Not me with, my dear, you'll have to part with it. Being overweight ain't nice, and it's unhealthy, too. Even if it's only 10kg!

Friday, 10 January 2014

The next installment, sorry for the long wait

I've been busy with my mind in hundreds of different places, in addition to not finding the necessary quiet to write. I'd opened the doc a few times, but closed it again when inspiration didn't strike. It happens. I'm worried I may lose interest and give up. Then again, I have Mr Obnoxious who's a great character who gives me plenty of material, plus Elaine, who has to heal at some point. And there are secrets to uncover, shock, anger, and other emotions waiting to come out; I just need to overcome my stupid fear of writing. How can someone, who has written seven books--four of them being novel, be afraid of finishing a novel with so much going on? What is it that stirs those feelings in me? I think I'm terrified of the void I'm staring into, every time I open the file to continue writing. I'm literally gazing onto the page, waiting for the film to play in front of my eyes, so I can type what I'm seeing. Does that make sense? In the past, I sat up to two hours in front of the laptop, writing a sentence, delete it, write something else, delete it again; I even wrote and deleted whole paragraphs because they weren't good enough. Anyway, it's going slow, but I'm satisfied with what I have for you today. It's not a lot, but I'd rather have a little good than a lot of shite.

Beautiful Autumn

The dining room was filled with laughter and chatter. I looked around and all I could see was a sea of happy faces. The young couple held hands over the table; they didn't seem to notice anyone else. Just when my eyes wandered to the next table, Mr Obnoxious stuffed a large piece of bread into his mouth. Impressive, I thought. One of the girls smeared some gravy on his cheek and the others giggled.
'Oh dear,' I muttered under a sigh. In the back of the room was the elderly couple, who looked content, as if they were watching their children and grand children, patient smiles on their faces. It made me wonder if they had a family, or maybe they opted against kids and had a blast of a life instead? I could imagine it being John and I. Wishful thinking. Before the thought of it could bring me down again, I waved back at Ben who'd spotted me and made my way over to them.
'Oh, I love your jumper!' His red face gave away that he lied.
I grinned and replied. 'Yeah, I finished it last night. I'm so proud of it.'
Ben quickly grabbed his wine glass and noisily swallowed a huge gulp. Ronnie just stared, open-mouthed.
With a dead-straight face I said, 'What, you don't like my precious knit-work? Took me a whole year to get it done. And two years of planning!'
'Of course, of course, it's gorgeous,' Gary's voice was shaking and I could tell he had a hard time keeping it together.
I slumped down into my seat and shook my head. 'All the work and nobody appreciates it.'
That was when Gary burst into a booming laugh. Ben's eyes rolled from left to right to check on me and Ronnie, before joining Gary, and seconds later, we were laughing until we had to wipe our tears. The other tables turned to see what caused the hilarity, but didn't seem to understand. I caught Mr Obnoxious eye, who, for a few seconds ignored the girls, and studied me—head cocked, eyebrow raised. He then winked and that's when I turned my attention back to the company I was with. Did he really think I'd flirt back? Idiot!
Gary tugged at the yellow flower. 'Used a lot of manure to get them this big?'
'Eh?'
'This beauty here.' He tugged a little harder.
'No, I drank too much that evening I knitted it.'
'You don't say,' Ronnie was deep red and tried to catch his breath.
'Okay, okay, you caught me. It was a competition for the ugliest present. What can I say, I lost.'
'And you thought of wearing it tonight, because?' Gary asked.
Because I want my husband to be as close as possible today, I wanted to reply. Instead I said, 'Oh it was just a spur of a moment thing.'
'It amuses. So thank you,' Ronnie said and Ben nodded, pressing his lips together; the image of a pressure cooker popped up in my head.
'Well, I aim to please,' I said lightly and filled my glass with wine. When I lifted it up to clink with the guys, I mentally toasted with John, too.
They didn't ask further questions and I was relieved that they swallowed my explanation. Every now and again, either of them tugged at the biggest of all flowers and giggled but, after an hour, the joke became old. Only when Susan came by to replace the two empty bottles of wine with new ones, she grinned and nodded, seemingly recognising the jumper, but didn't say anything. We understood each other and I was thankful for that.
'Jesus, fucking Christ, I'm so stuffed, I'll need a crane to get me out of here,' Gary said, burping behind his hand. 'Excuse me.'
Ben shook his head. 'Manners!'
'It's really delicious,' Ronnie said before shovelling another piece of pork into his mouth.
'Agree,' I said. Susan must have worked days to prepare such a spread. There was roast, turkey, stuffing, carrots, parsnips, sprouts, potatoes, croquettes, potato gratin, gravy, trifle, Christmas pudding with plenty of alcohol and a kids' version, Eaton Mess and plenty more. The room was constantly busy with people refilling their plates. I went to get a seconds of a cheesecake and again wished John would be here.
'So, new year's resolution has to be a lot of walking, then, eh?'
He stood that close to me, I could feel his body heat. 'Way to go with insulting others.'
'Ah, come on, lady, don't take it personally. We're all behaving as if you'll never get to eat again.'
'I didn't know that the food control is watching.' My voice was a tad sharper and I hoped he'd get the drift.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

A short next installment

I think this reflects on my creative process. Admittedly, the bit I posted yesterday was the result of two days. When I started writing today I wasn't sure what I'd come up with, because there's always this blank spot ahead of me. I know Elaine is on her walk, pondering, wondering, and hurting. And I quite liked where it was going, but it's difficult to get into the same frame of mind the next day. Like Elaine's, my moods change. Nevertheless, I managed to write a bit, and a bit is better than nothing, right?
For tomorrow (the next installment) I have some plans for Mr Obnoxious, whose character I've already developed in my head. He's also got a name, but you'll have to wait and get to know him slowly before I'll reveal more.
~~~~~

The sobering thought slapped me hard in the face as I stomped along the small pathway between the fields. I'd be faithful to John and my vows, but won't get anything in return; no delicious smell of his warm body when I crawl underneath the covers an hour after he went to bed. There will be no smile for me when he comes home, all plans we'd made together had become mine. Like this get away. We wanted to travel the world, enjoy life. Together. I was sure he didn't want me to suffer so much, but how could I not? Life is unpredictable, they say, and I wholeheartedly agreed. When you walk through it thinking it won't hit me, it most possibly will. Hit you hard. And it'll knock their air out of you, pulls you down into a hole you fear to never get out again, and if you do you best and reach the top—just with your fingers—the hole grows and you slip up, falling back into its deep blackness.
I rubbed my forehead and stopped. My sides were aching from the power walk and irregular breathing. Turning on the spot, I looked around and calmed down. Interesting how in this surrounding, when you let your thoughts run freely, the quiet can be this deafening. It drowned out the singing of birds, the soft whoosh of the wind rustling with the weeds and bushes; all I could hear was my longing for my lost soul mate, and it became louder and louder to almost unbearable decibel.
'This is crazy; you can't go on like this!' I said, as if I could convince myself to change. With a sigh, I took a right which I assumed would lead to the main road in order to return to the Inn. Patience, I repeated to myself, patience is all you need. Compared to where I'd been just three weeks ago, I was doing fine. And as mum and Amy had said, nobody expected me to function 'normally' any time soon. Bless them. When I was back at the Inn, I'd give them a ring. They possibly expected to hear from me, and it would be nice to hear their voices. With that to look forward to, I felt slightly elevated and able to take in what the countryside had to offer.
It was impossible to ignore the buzz going round at the Inn. The vibes literally came snaking out, taken hold of me and pulled me in as if they were bungees. The moment I arrived, Gary strolled down the stairs and when he spotted me entering the hallway, he rushed over to take me by the hand and twirl me around. I laughed.
'If you keep going, I may just throw up on you.'
He put on a mock shock face. 'Nooo, you wouldn't!'
'Not if you stop spinning me.'
'Okay, okay.' Hand on hips, he scrutinized me. 'So, you feeling better?'
Perceptive. I nodded. 'A bit.'
'Let's make that a lot. Up, up, you go, darling, dinner's ready and we'll have so much fun.'
I curtseyed and said, 'As you wish, sir.'
'There, that's much better.' Chuckling, he added, 'I'll keep you a seat.'
'See you in five,' I called over my shoulder. Yes, I felt a little better. For now

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Next installment after a break

Previously: It's Christmas day and Elaine, although apprehensive, joins the merry happenings at breakfast. She was seated with three guys and, sensing her sadness, but not knowing why, they try to keep her occupied. Remember this is an unedited first draft. I've now reached exactly 11.111 words. It's still a mammoth task I've got ahead of me, but if I write a little every day, I guess the novel will be finished by May/June. It gives me half a year to edit and polish before preparing for publishing.

Cycling along the canal in London

'Right, everyone.' Susan stood in the middle of the room, cheeks glowing, eyes almost as glittery as the silver stars on the tables. 'Seeing that you guys are enjoying yourself so much, please feel free to open your presents. It's only a small gift, but nevertheless it comes from the heart.' Something in her voice hinted at mischief.
'But she's opened hers already,' a guy shouted, pointing at his girlfriend. Silence.
'So did he,' one of the girls at Mr Obnoxious' table screeched.
Susan threw her arms up in despair. 'Well, what can I say? Kids will always be kids.' Now everyone laughed. The laughter didn't stop when we all opened our presents; it looked like we'd been dropped into a bad Secret Santa game. Gary had a golden necklace with a pony, Ben a shower gel for infants, and poor Ronnie held up a bright red lipstick, which he put on instantly, making him look like a clown. My present was a packet of condoms which had the guys cracking up. Since I had no use for them, I swapped with Gary, the necklace would be a nice gift for Liz, Amy's daughter.
I kept up the fa├žade for a further hour, then excused myself in need of some alone time. The struggle with my feelings had become too much to hide. How could I be happy and laugh—this kind of belly laugh—when I had to miss John? It wasn't fair that he didn't get to experience this with me. I felt terrible for it and then felt terrible for feeling terrible. Again, tears blurred my vision.
'I see you made some new friends, lady?'
'Leave me me alone,' I replied without turning; the last thing I wanted was for Mr Obnoxious to see me crying.
'Gee, relax, man. I was just trying to make conversation.'
I didn't reply, sobs were already trying to find their way out, so I ran up the stairs and just managed to slam my door shut before sinking into a heap onto the floor.
Two hours later, a fresh breeze cooled down my swollen eyes. I'd never thought that humans had so many tears in them, as if there was a never-ending source, like a pool that refilled itself after it was emptied. And they were still hot, a constant stream of pain. Yet they didn't bring any relief. Like a volcano, the hurt bubbled inside me until it became too much and burst to the surface, breaking through the tender process of my healing.
Generally, I thought I was doing much better than a few weeks ago, and being here probably helped, too. I guess the guys thought I'm suffering from a broken heart after my boyfriend left me, why else would a young woman go away on her own? They'd not said a word and I hoped it would stay that way. In that respect, this holiday was doing me the world of good. And I was safe, too, if one took the annoying half-flirtatious attempts of Mr Obnoxious out of the equation. I had no idea what type of women would normally fall for that dross, but with the girls at his table, surely, one of them may. 'Fine by me,' I muttered as I circled around some horse shit. A drove past, two kids in the back waving at me, big smiles on their faces. If you knew what life will throw at you, you'd wish to stay this young, with not a care in the world. With my finishing the thought, they turned around the corner and out of sight. I took a deep breath and pulled back my shoulders. 'Come on, Elaine.' After all, I was healthy, alive, and in this beautiful village, on a lovely day. Mourning John shouldn't keep me from living, should it? I wasn't so sure anymore myself. A gust of wind tousled my hair and I stopped my brisk walk for a moment, closing my eyes. There was no sound to hear, everything was so peaceful. I imagined it was John, reassuring me that everything would be fine, caressing me like he used to do. Soft hands with stubby fingers I learned to love over time. He wasn't a woman's dream on first impressions, but the more I'd got to know him, the more I'd fallen for that man with the receding hairline. The age difference never mattered to us, he was more adventurous than many men my age. He'd been rafting in Australia, been to Africa as a voluntary helper, worked on a farm in New Zealand just for bed and food, he'd done sky diving, and snorkeling along the Great Barrier Reef. Unfortunately all before we met, although I'd probably not been too open to many of those activities, the safe-player I am. Accepting John's proposal was most possibly the riskiest thing I'd ever done in my life—no regrets there. I doubted I'd ever love someone with that much certainty, increasing with each year spent together, discovering little secrets like on a scavenger hunt, making you more and more curious of what's ahead. I doubted it, and I didn't want it. John can't be replaced. I married him for a reason and if that means I'll have to go to bed and wake up alone every day for the rest of my life, then be it. One could say many things about me, but not that I'm not committed. When I love, I love for good. That's me.

Fajita wraps for a lazy 1st of January 2014

I admit I had flirted with them yesterday night, but was able to keep my hands off them. For weeks I was craving my home made fajitas and finally gave in. It's not only a delicious treat, it's also rather good to keep and re-heat the next day.
There are many recipes, but this one has been tried and tested by myself and on various friends, who were all gobbling up the food quickly, and licking their fingers afterwards. It's the perfect finger food to dish up when you don't have much time for cooking. And it's fun as you can be sure at least one person will make a complete mess.
What you need:
Chicken breast
Bell peppers (I used only red for this, but normally it should be tri-colore)
Onions
Chilli to taste (I used one red bird's eye)
Avocado (super soft)
Lime or Lemon juice
Garlic
Salt
Tomato puree
Creme Fraiche
Grated cheese (I used Mozarella)
Iceberg lettuce
Tortillas or Chapati (Asian wraps)

home made chicken fajita wrap
Chop the chilli and garlic finely, then cut the avocado and scoop it into a bowl, add some of the chilli and garlic as well salt and lemon juice (keeps it from going brown), mix properly and store away until needed.
Cut the chicken, peppers and onions into fine strips. Heat a pan with some oil and put in the chicken, stir until brown, then add the onions, when they're glaced, add a tbs of tomato puree (the frying process releases the flavour) after a minute, add the peppers, garlic and chilli. The garlic should not burn, stir for a minute. Add about 250ml of hot water, stir properly to get the burnt goodies from the bottom of the pan, then add salt (to taste). Put on medium heat and let simmer away for about 15 to 20 minutes.
In the meantime, cut the iceberg lettuce in small chunks, put the cheese and Creme Fraiche into bowls, the tortillas/Chapatis into the microwave and heat. Finger warm, not hot!
When most of the fluid is gone from the fajita pan, it's time to serve.
Guests can put it together as they please. Two to three each and they'll be pretty stuffed.