Yes, this is a test post. Let’s see if my phone can be my new blog platform.
So simple to get caught in the net of bad stuff. Oh, no, some horrible thing on the news! Our political framework is collapsing around us! Tyrants and terrorists everywhere!
Quick question. How tired are you at the end of the day? Ever wonder if maybe it’s because we spend so much time focused on the “negative other” that we forget to see and understand the positive around us?
I know that was me for a while, both in this blog and on other social media platforms.
It doesn’t help.
So I’ve decided. I’m here to help. I will continue to share the challenges I face. I’ll continue the mind-bending (according to a few friends) blog posts on Mondays.
I will do so with the intent to help others through my experience. I’ll mention the bad as a way to highlight the good. I know there are those who assure you that life isn’t all sunshine and roses.
I disagree. Try walking through a rose-bush sometime. 😉 You’ll be pretty torn up with the thorns, but you’ll also smell like roses.
In the end, I won’t be perfect at this. However, I will do my best.
So… It’s been a long few weeks, and I’ve been MIA again. I know this. I’m sorry. Kind of.
I could give you excuses. I won’t.
What I will tell you is this. I’m doing better.
I’m getting a handle on things.
I’m starting to see the path through this dense, seemingly pathless forest called life.
I have my lists.
In a few weeks, I’ll also have a watch.
Even without the watch, I’ll keep working. Because now I can see where the next game trail leads.
I believe you may expect blog posts next week.
Unfortunately, you may not expect a comic this Saturday. In the meantime, keep moving in your own life. And for those on my Facebook, message me whenever. 🙂
It is the morning of 3 February 2017, I wake up, dress, brush my teeth, grab my favorite blazer instead of a sweatshirt, and head to the family room of my father-in-law’s ranch house. I clean out the fireplace that doubles as the wood stove heating for the home, and lit the fire for the day.
I’ve never lit a wood stove fire before.
Before today, I’d watched my husband do it five days in a row.
I have no supervision, despite the monster in the back of my mind screaming for it.
Yes, I have to rearrange the burning logs three or four times for optimum air flow. Now they are crackling away and in about twenty minutes I’ll need to add another four or five logs to keep it going for a few more hours. It rained all night and most of the morning, and it’s an every so balmy 46º F outside. Not sure what it is inside, but I’m developing a morning tea habit.
Not that I didn’t already have one.
After I’m sure the fire is going, my anxiety monster screaming in my ear that the noise probably woke someone up, I head to the kitchen and pour myself a bowl of almonds, craisins and milk, because what’s a guy to do when he can’t have cereal?
Then, I unload the dishwasher while my darling husband comes in and has some breakfast. It’s not a good day for him. The rain is not making his joints very pleasant.
He heads back to his computer. I step to the fire to check on it, and nearly break out in tears.
No one has told me I’m not doing enough this week.
That was my morning this morning. Yes, I posted some of it on Instagram, and if you feel like following me there, great. Hunt me down on Facebook first. Now, I’m hanging out at a spot with free Wi-Fi right now, and I’ll do my best to do what I can, when I can. In the meantime, I have a Monday post up right now, so…yeah. Love you all!
As a final note, NO, the webcomic will NOT stop.
Alright, I’ve been radio silent too long. I know this. I’ve stared at the blank white box that is this typing place for a while. Thing is, we moved to California last Saturday. Right now, it’s about a two mile hike to a library, so I’m currently on the hunt for Wi-Fi spots closer to home.
In the meantime, I’m shaking a few things up.
Instead of writing frantically every day trying to get one post to you, I WILL of necessity be scheduling my blog posts, possibly up to a week in advance, because I do want to keep communication going. I know you invisible readers are out there, somewhere.\
I still haven’t figured out why you all digitally stare at me and don’t talk back. 😛
(Hint: That’s what the Comments are for.)
Also, I’ve finally figured out something of a schedule to Categories. If you don’t like heavy, political, make you think stuff, skip Monday. Just skip it. That’s where most of my think-pieces will go. Questioning Narratives and what not.
Tuesday will revolve around Success, somehow.
Wednesday is all about how and why I do what I do. Craft. Mostly World-Building and Character Building.
Thursday will cover Mental & Physical Health things I learn as I get back on top of my health.
Friday, we’ll go a little more into the Physical side of physical health, with exercise tips, recipes, etc.
And Saturday, of course, will remain comic goodness for all! (Remember, we’re on Patreon for that!)
So, until I get the next one out, Live long and Prosper, friends.
Letting go is HARD. Especially when letting go of what or who we love. I didn’t quite understand this with inanimate things. Those are, for the most part, easy for me to let go of. Sure, there are one or two I cling to. My journal. My guitar. My sketch books. Yet with all that, if I HAD to leave it tomorrow, I’d manage better than I’m managing right now in bringing my cat back to the human family I adopted her from.
She chirps, runs through the apartment at odd hours of the night and day, and does all other manner of cat things perched atop her cat tree. Including, just this moment, sleeping with her eyes half open, staring at me from the very top platform.
And I’m crying again. This was supposed to be an eloquent, or at least decently planned farewell. Because I’ve got to get dressed and start packing up her stuff so we can take her to Salt Lake City to meet up with the woman I adopted her from. It’s a day of mixed sadness and peace, because as much as I’d love to keep her, I know it’s better for her to find a true forever home, and I just can’t provide her that with any certainty right now.
So farewell, Sinbad. You’ll live on in my life through my writing. You’ll be Kyath’s cat now.
Well, 2016 certainly went out with a bang. Actually even last night people lit off fireworks until at least 11 pm. I’m not certain they were fireworks, but here’s hoping. That’s not the point. First, I want to thank everyone who took a look at my newest project, a collaboration webcomic with Shay Nemrow. Getting it started was quite the roller coaster way to end 2016. And had you told me a year ago I’d be both working on a webcomic and excited to do it, I’d probably have told you you didn’t know me at all.
That said, we had a successful launch, at least in my mind, and comics will continue every Saturday so long as we can keep producing them.
Also, a huge shout out to our first Patron. I don’t know that a single dollar has ever made me almost gotten me crying before. I digress. I’ll be disappearing for a few days to see my sister and her fiance, so in the meantime, check out my comic (or go commission some art from Shay. They are really good at it.) and I’ll be back with you probably Thursday. Maybe for a late Wednesday post, which will include the tale of Raidon the 911 NPC.
So, hey, guys, how are you?
I found a new brain shiny on the internet called Minimalism. The most amusing part to this shiny, for me, is that I’ve been practicing bits of it for a good portion of my adult life, especially since I moved cross country in a Toyota, and haven’t really stopped since.
The Shiny Called Minimalism
We all like stuff, right? Well, most of us like stuff. At least some stuff. I like my books. I love my computer, because it is my writing medium, and dishes are a truly wonderful thing to have. You know, because eating food is good.
Minimalism seems to be this …I dunno, movement, that started in the arts, and expanded to these two guys who wrote a book about it and now they have a website talking all about a lifestyle. They do a very good job at explaining their idea of the thing. I have my own idea, built around my life experiences, and I never once tried to name it anything other than pragmatism.
Their idea of the thing: Freedom through lack of stuff, specifically not assigning unnecessary meaning to material possessions (like your house, car, etc.) In other words, stop trying to “Keep up with the Jones’s.”
My idea of the thing: Stuff is transient anyway, so why get attached in the first place, unless it adds value to your life? You know, like that book that completely turned around the course of your existence, or the fragile glass keepsake from Great Aunt Eugene who handed it down three generations to you? Keep that if you find value in it.
Yet Another Label
Everything’s got a label nowadays. Every lifestyle, every mindset. Sometimes, putting a name to a thing serves a great purpose. I have several mental health issues, as well as chronic migraine. Having a name for these things allows me the freedom to stop wondering, “What the Hades is wrong with you? Suck it up, buttercup,” and actually take steps to improve my situation.
You know, like not eating that one thing that I’m POSITIVE will give me a splitting headache, nausea, and vertigo for two days, even though it tastes de-LISH?
Anyway, where was I?
Oh yeah, so I don’t really need another label. I don’t need a term other than pragmatic (which is more of a trait than a label, I think) to describe why I don’t collect storage rooms of stuff. I’m also too busy paying student loans, but we all have those, right?
Also, there’s the fact that a lot of the people who come into this whole minimalism movement after collecting ALL the things! And its poster boys are kind of the epitome of people I don’t relate to.
Enter Rational Minimalism
And this is why I love my friends. I’ve mentioned Maria Grace before. This time, we were chatting, minimalism came up, and she threw out the phrase Rational Minimalism. I was like, what be that?
Basically, it’s the idea of being pragmatic with all the stuffs.
Have six laptops, and use one? Get rid of the other five.
Have a four-set of all dish types but entertain a lot? Get more dishes.
You know, look at your things and figure out where the value you is?
No value? No problem! Donate it.
So yeah, those are my tangent ramblings on minimalism. What tangents does your brain go down? What other stuff would you like to see me tangent about? Leave it in the comments, or drop me a line on the Facebook.
And don’t forget, next Saturday is the beginning of a whole new chapter. Our webcomic!
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I must’ve cycled through a hundred answers to this as a kid. Dancer, marine biologist, professional traveler. The only one that ever stuck was writer. Call me crazy, but music, the ocean, and the world always fed me one thing.
Then, in high school, I met Fantasy. Aaah, my soulmate. My beloved. (This is what happens when you’re not allowed to date until sixteen or outside your religion. Drugs or reading. Mine was reading.) I could travel without leaving the classroom, exploring far off lands full of adventure, magic, and the occasional fire-breathing dragon.
Enter the Trope
You know the story. Old guy in a pointy hat shows up, talks to an orphan living with abusive or poor (or both) relatives, and says, “You have a destiny!” ‘great, powerful drama voice here’ Shenanigans ensue, somewhere there is a girl, the bad guy (who may or may not be related to the orphan or responsible for the orphan’s orphan status) is defeated, everyone lives happily ever after!
Also, the prophecy is almost always correctly understood by both good guys and bad guys, (though admittedly occasionally seems self-fulfilling for bad guys.)
You don’t have to tell me. You’re thinking of THAT book. Harry Potter. No, Lord of the Rings. Wait, Shannara, no, sorry Star Wars. Or was it Hercules? Okay, Hercules wasn’t exactly an ORPHAN, but you get the idea. We all know that story. And for a while, I escaped beautifully.
Then along came the big question…
What if those crazy, black-skinned Elves weren’t evil? Everyone just thought they were?
What if that prophecy was written in a dead language that no one could accurately translate anymore, even with spells, because you couldn’t make sense of the idioms without cultural context?
What if you mixed Elves with rock and roll?
What if their world wasn’t stuck in what we like to believe the Middle Ages and Dark Ages were like, not because they had widespread magic, but because magic and technology worked in tandem?
What if their gods were less like Greek gods, and more like a Judeo-Christian one? Or maybe a blend of both?
What if atheist Elves were a thing?
What if Dwarves had a Jamaican accent, not a Norse one?
What if the Elven language had a grammar structure like Japanese?
What if Gnomes existed but Halflings didn’t?
What if the sun was blue-white instead of yellow?
What if two planets could sustain intelligent life in a system?
But the first question that started it all.
What would happen if you put a Drow and a High Elf in a rock band together?
The Birth of an Idea
One that I never thought would stick. I asked that question to a friend as we talked about gaming, somewhere around ten years ago now. His response? “That would make a great novel!”
I agreed. We jotted down a few names for band members. That piece of notebook paper sat nearly blank, with its list of five names, for about three months. Then the story started. It started with one character, then another, and grew into a world full of life and characters and stories, and I will spend the rest of my life telling what I can of them, starting this coming January.
Remember the last time someone upset you? Did something that really hurt? Did you stop to ask yourself, Why? What do I believe about this event that caused the pain?
I don’t know if it’s a rare person or not that will ask such a question of themselves. I only know I began asking myself at least a year before I encountered Stoicism, because I was sick and tired of having a few very specific messages regarding various aspects of my identity bombard me constantly. This post is not about those messages, though, it’s about the broader context, about the ability to ask oneself that pivotal question.
What do I believe about X event that caused me pain/discomfort/fear/etc?
And so we move on to the next two part concept in my Stoic Musings:
Events don’t upset you. Beliefs do.
I know. I know. Again with the Eyebrow of Incredulity. But let us examine further.
In the GIF above we have a beautiful flower blooming from a rather spiky cactus. Without an observer, the flower blooms, the cactus continues to live, and no more need be said of the matter. Yet what if…you stepped on the cactus? Somehow?
(I’ve done this, trust me, it does not feel pleasant.)
I’ve seen a range of reactions to a stubbed toe, even in a single person over the course of years. The event never changed. It was always a stubbed toe, usually on the leg of the same table, in the same kitchen. Yet the reaction varied so much.
I see the same concept in broader society. Three people with similar backgrounds encounter the same person, hear the same set of words, and have three totally different reactions. Some of this has to do with personality, absolutely. A large portion of it, though, has to do with beliefs.
First, the stubbed toe. If I believe the world is out to get me – even the table – well, when I stub my toe on that table, I’m probably going to lash out at the table, hit it, push it, do something to express that this event has angered me. Not only am I feeling the physical pain from stubbing my toe, I’m also feeling the rage and anger at having the world lash out at me through the table being in my way and thus my toe getting stubbed.
Yet if I believe that the table is nothing more than an object, incapable of action, and that the human body is a fallible machine which occasionally perceives objects inaccurately in relation to myself, then stubbing my toe is, at some point, inevitable, as is the pain that accompanies it. This belief in no way stops the physical pain from hitting when my toe hits the table. What it does do is allow me to simply grimace, acknowledge that my toe is in momentary pain, and move on.
Belief and Emotional Response
One of the purposes of Stoic philosophy is to learn to transcend over-emotionalism by understanding what is within our control and ignoring the rest. In order to do this, we must learn to examine every belief we hold, both about the physical world, as evidenced in the stubbed toe example, and about our internal emotional world. In modern U.S. society, we cling to a hold-over from rationalism – the idea that opinions and actions should be based on reason and knowledge rather than on religious belief or emotional response – while at the same time encouraging ideas such as the need to always and unequivocally medicate mental disorders – specifically anxiety and depression – in order for the brain to function in a rational manner.
While I, myself, have found medication useful, more useful by far has been finding the tools to challenge the beliefs these disorders encourage in me. Stoicism has been one of those tools, especially because of this idea that it is not the event that upsets me, it is the belief.
During my depressive episodes, for example, my mind has a habit of informing me that I am a horrendous failure because I – slightly – burned dinner. Thus I’m incapable of ever finishing anything, should never start a project, and the list goes on ad infinitum. Event? Dinner slightly burned. Belief? I am useless as a person because I never finish anything and if I do, it’s horrible.
With the cognitive behavioral therapists I’ve worked with, the idea is to find evidence to the contrary to counter this belief. With Stoicism, the idea is to look at the belief itself and ask myself whether holding this belief promotes a virtuous, productive life, or causes me undue discomfort. Well, believing I’m useless – in my estimation – most certainly counts as the latter.
Additionally challenging the belief head on allows me to both develop the critical thinking skills to FIND that belief, and then to ask whether it serves me. If it does not, I can then replace it with a new belief that better serves me. Back to burning dinner, let us replace the belief that I am useless with the belief that I am a fallible human and occasionally make mistakes. Thus, burning dinner becomes one of those occasional mistakes, I make something else, and I move on.
“But That Won’t Work For Me”
I know, it sounds implausible. Especially when plenty of parts of society would have us believe that there’s absolutely NOTHING we can do for our mental disorders, and they will always be exactly as miserable as they are or worse. Yet that too is a belief that we may choose to accept or discard.
It is true that we do not control our body, and in the event of a genuine chemical imbalance, medication can be essential. I’m on two right now, and I’m under no illusions that adopting a Stoic mindset will indefinitely cure my disorders. On the other hand, in just the few short weeks I’ve explored the subject, I’ve experienced a significant improvement in my quality of life by adopting the five core principles I’m discussing this week.
I’ve even curbed a few minor anxiety attacks with it.
Will it help you? Perhaps. If you believe it will.