Opinions Are Safer Than Slices of My Soul

I’m not certain who originally created this meme. That person is, however, entirely correct.

You may be yourself all the time. Except when your boss only needs one aspect of you. Except when your friend needs another side of you. Except when being yourself means breaking social norms, or worse, laws.

We dedicate thousands of hours and tens of thousands of words to advice on how to be better members of society.

And right now, I don’t know if I’m failing or succeeding. I’m also trying desperately not to care.

After all, I blog. I want to blog more. (Some would say I NEED to blog more.) Most of the time, I blog about opinions on stuff I see online. Why?

Because it’s easy. It’s safe.

I don’t have to slice of a piece of my soul and risk baring it to the entire world. After all, opinions change. Sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, but they change.

/\ Actual footage of some of my opinions changing. /\

Basically if a random internet stranger cares to tear my opinion apart? The wounds only go skin deep.

Blog: What Is It?

Often? The blog is merely a series of what may be termed personal essays. I set my fingers to the keyboard, type up an opinion and send it off into the ether. Then I wait, and wonder if I’ve said something that mattered to anyone but spammers?

So what happens? I run out of steam. I don’t know what to write about. I don’t want to write about my principles, because I have learned to fear the reactions of total strangers on the interent, when I actively refuse to fear the physical strangers I encounter every day.

I put stock in posts like Virginia Woolf: There Are Way Too Many Personal Essays Out There. I mean, how do I know if I’m “[using] this medium from genuine inspiration because it best embodies the soul of [my] thought.”? Or if I’m just rambling.

In the end, I don’t know. I just have to hope what I’m typing helps.

Why Opinion Is Safer Than Principle

We all have opinions. Some can be as simple as whether the blue shirt or the red shirt is better today. Frankly, the only one who truly cares what shirt you wear or what you eat for breakfast is you.

Then we have our principles. Those codes and convictions we hold so strongly they guide the ship of our lives. And I frequently only talk about principles when I have an ill-informed opinion on a principle I’m struggling to understand or implement in my life. I rarely speak of the genuine challenges and difficulties I face in learning a principle. I only share what may be “acceptable.”

I may change this as I can. To start with:

I am a faithful, attending member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (I am not a perfect member.)

This Coming Out post is not longer completely accurate to my perceptions.

I don’t like talking about myself in-dept to the internet.

ADHD makes it far easier to spout off to people one-on-one or in person.

I may or may not come off as a know-it-all. Blame what you will. It may have something to do with how I was taught to write, and the fact that I defend myself emotionally from being wrong. (Last I checked ALL humans do this.)

So yes, this is a personal essay. Yes, I may or may not have gotten very personal.

Just admitting I have difficulty writing this is a step towards genuine, I suppose.

Now I’m going to go make bread.

Dueling Mannequins

You know that scene where Cass nearly got shanked? Well, thank Max and Miri, the two delightful mannequins pictured above. These are basically Shay’s assistants, models, and all-around handy people.

I’m not quite sure where this post is going, so have another picture. I am getting my act together, I swear.

Character Sneak Peak

The end of last week saw me pinned to the bed with a two-day migraine. To make up for my absence, here’s a character sneak peak for you. Liiræa’s watched the neighborhood crumble for reasons yet to be revealed. Grew up here, in fact, and quite loves the bookstore. She knows part of why it’s happening. She can feel it.

It’s not just her, either. A lot of folks in the neighborhood can feel the encroachment of troubled Arcanum. Most of them don’t know what it is. The question is: does she?

Shay and I figured this would be a good way to pass the time. It’s also giving us some new insight into things. It’s pretty cool.

Shadow Games of Belief and How We Self-Sabotage

Ever tried to catch a shadow? I remember as a kid seeing shadows, mine and other people’s and playing a game with them. Looking back, the best term is probably Shadow Tag. I’d try to jump on the shadow to get either the shadow or the person to stop moving.

I truly believed I could catch shadows.

Over two decades later, I know now that shadows are created when a solid object blocks light, and thus I can’t catch them. As fun a game as it was, and is with kids, I never succeeded in catching a shadow. I never caught a person with their own shadow either. At best, I would jump into the dark place made by the shadow and proclaim I had won. 😀

Now, obtaining adult success often feels like chasing those shadows as a kid. Sometimes, those shadows lurk in our subconscious beliefs.

I know it’s not.

I also know that no one else’s idea of success looks quite like mine.

I do know we all fight similar troubles getting there, though, when we look past the superficial stuff and get to the core of the issue. The superficial stuff is the finances, the health problems, all those pieces that look different like shadows on a sidewalk.

The core is the beliefs that stop us from doing.

Don’t give me that look. I’m serious!

I know, you probably believe that you have no beliefs holding you back. Like me all those years ago, you’re also probably wrong. Sorry. You’re not the first.

I was wrong when I believed my lack of success stemmed from a bad hand and bad luck. It came from holding beliefs about success inconsistent with logic and natural law.

Like the idea that I had to be capable of paying $32K in cash for a brand new car to be a success. Or I had to be able to pay cash for my house in order to be a success.

Logically, because I come from quite humble beginnings, there was no reason to believe these things were common or realistic, but I believed them.

As for natural laws, well no crop will grow that hasn’t yet been planted. I hadn’t done the planting, and so such wealth was beyond me to obtain. I had to look at my beliefs, and find the one driving my behavior on an instinct level.

I didn’t like what I found.

If I follow the advice of [a parent with little understanding of money or economy], I can become wealthy.

If I am wealthy, I am successful.

I don’t think so. Once again, I had to change my beliefs in order to change my instinctive behaviors. Worth it, BUT NOT EASY! First, I had to figure out what beliefs would actually lead to behaviors that would prove useful to me.

If I follow the advice of individuals who understand success, I can become a success.

If I am a success, I may become wealthy.

If I want wealth, I must understand currency and economy. (We have currency now, not money. Money would mean actual gold coins in your hand. I digress.)

I adopted these beliefs. And when I adopted them, my entire mode of action and behavior changed with them. Instead of waiting for opportunities to “get rich”, I did some serious soul-searching to find what I excelled at—what I loved doing enough to do it EVERY DAY.

I changed my definition of success to include a planet-load of work.

I started reading books on success, on business, on finance, and began building a plan. Granted, this took a solid ten years to see fruition. As I said, worth it. Not easy.

However, I can now say I consider every day that I work on that plan a success. Does that make me a success? Who knows.

In the meantime, what beliefs do you suspect in yourself that may be leading your success? What about the ones driving your failures? If you found the beliefs above in yourself, would you have replaced them the same way, or done something different? I’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment below!

Belief, Instinct, Social Norms, And The Mess Of Personal Psychology

Go with your gut. Trust your instincts. Both wonderful lessons. Often, though, I believe we confuse belief or cultural understanding with instinct. Don’t believe me?

Name five differences between men and women off the top of your head. Feel free to write them down.
Now…how many of them involve learned behavior? 😉 I bet you won’t be able to figure it out, and that’s okay. None of us know everything. Most of us know, in fact, very little.

What I do know, from a good deal of study and personal experience, is that so often what we call instinct is actually—to use a term I generally dislike—social programming. And no, it doesn’t matter what society you come from or choose to embrace, you have social programming so deeply ingrained we act as though it is instinct and never stop to think if it truly is.

So what’s the difference?

Instinct is basically an innate, typically fixed pattern of behavior in animals in response to certain stimuli. At least if you Google the definition.

Instinctive belief is a pattern of behavior, usually reactionary, built around a subconscious belief.

As an example, for many years, I believed if people didn’t talk to me, they hated me or I had done something wrong. I didn’t see these beliefs initially, but they shaped my behavior. I spent my life trying to be all things to all people, just so no one would hate me and I wouldn’t do anything wrong.

I ran by what I perceived to be instinct.

Except it was hijacked instinct, the need to survive bent to a specific set of reactions by long exposure to less than ideal circumstances. Fortunately, I have a mind, and the ability to keep from acting on such beliefs, or to change them entirely.

The trick is to find them.

I’ve found two routes. One typically involves a therapist and cognitive behavioral therapy.

The other, and far less expensive, is the study of the ancient philosophy of Stoicism. I’ve written about this philosophy in the past, and I’ll write more as the mood strikes me. Suffice it to say, this was the founding philosophy of cognitive behavioral therapy in most of its forms.focus for both is not to study so much the specific causes of behavior in the psychoanalytic sense, but to find those thoughts that aren’t useful to us and replace them with thoughts that are useful. Let’s go back to my example a moment.

My core belief driving the other two: If people don’t talk to me, they think I’m bad.

Not a fun way to live, and I anxiety inducing to a mad degree. So, once I discovered that belief, I replaced it. The mind dislikes empty spaces, so a void must be filled. Better to be filled by a conscious choice than random chance.

Replacement belief: If a person doesn’t talk to me, their reason matters not to me.

Yes, that one was a good deal tougher to ingrain in myself. The old belief still raises its head now and then. Such is the way with rewiring the mind. It takes time, patience, and effort. Essentially a good deal of will.

No, I’m not saying willpower fixes everything. However, it can help change a core belief. The key is to find the belief first. So this week, beliefs, instincts, and social norms are the focus of my blog. If you’re looking forward to it, raise your hand! Or, you know, comment because I can’t actually see you raising your hand. 😀

Dragon Hoard Books: A Friendly Warning

Wow it’s been a rough two weeks. I – Raidon – have finally found a nice little cafe that sells my favorite carbonated juice, and Shay did not die in the first two (or was it three?) weeks as a fast-food slave.

It’s about time we checked in with the bookstore. Here it is, only a week late. Go give Shay some love for finishing this just a week late. In the meantime, keeping consistent with the content will get easier with time. Also, remember, if you want to see comics a day early, check us out on Patreon. Meanwhile, Shay is stubbornly insisting the project move forward, despite hand cramps of doom.

And of course, behind the scenes, I’m working to get this comic into a cohesive script form. If you like getting updates on that part, feel free to keep up with my Author Page, or just send me a friend request on Facebook. If we’ve got no mutual acquaintances, don’t forget to include a message.

If all goes well, we’ll have a comic next week, too. 😛


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Dragon Hoard Books: Taking Out The Trash

Props, Cass. We’ll see how long you last.

In other news, I’m typing this on my phone, so Raidon out.


Want to help us out with production and become part of the Hoard? Check out our Patreon page and become a contributor!



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Dragon Hoard Books: Clash of Blades…Almost

I wouldn’t stick around for this job. That’s just me, though.

Shay’s done an EXCELLENT job with the illustrations, and they just keep getting better.

Cass, well done not getting TOO cut up. Though I’m not convinced this thief is that skilled.

If you enjoy what you’re seeing, we’d love it if you’d support us on Patreon. Spare change helps, and you get virtual hugs!


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Dragon Hoard Books: Not Your Average Work Day

There are a couple of things you need to know about this issue: Firstly, this issue was drawn with a different art program, and one that I’ve only just begun to use, so this one may be slightly better quality, but as things go forward it’ll most likely get better! Secondly, if you thought that the workday couldn’t get any more boring, you’re about to wish it would be.

Raidon here. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m LOVING the Krita stuff Shay’s experimenting with. Also… how often does this place get robbed?

Once again, we are on Patreon, although I confess, I’ve fallen behind on that as I’m currently without internet, so…Sorry about that. Love you all, and see you next week!


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How To Stop Outsourcing Your Inner Strength And Learn To Unicorn

We live in a world of outsourcing. Have a kid and a job? Outsource that to daycare. Hate taking care of your email? Outsource that to a personal assistant. Can’t remember to eat? Outsource to your phone alarm. Don’t know how to deal with the physical presence of people? Outsource your social life to social media!

How often have you outsourced your inner strength?

No, really, how often?

Does this sound familiar? I need more support from other writers and from my family members to write.

Those non-writers reading, trade out the word for your dream of choice, and read on.

If the above statement sounds like you, you’ve outsourced your inner strength. So what do you do about it? How do you reclaim your strength, your motivation, your pride in your craft?

I don’t have all the answers, but the first one that comes to mind: Remember you’re a unicorn. Plan accordingly.

How To Unicorn

Ah, the successful author. He whiles away the hours at a coffee shop in Europe, sipping designer tea and craft beer at his leisure. Oh, I’m sorry, THAT would be a hipster.

The successful author works their tail off, and usually loses their mind to depression, anxiety, and a host of other ailments, and forget sipping the champagne. I’ll take three shots of the hard stuff and the bottle to go!

I’m sorry, that was Picasso. Or was it Stephen King? Anyway…what does this have to do with unicorns?
Emotionally and physically healthy authors are like unicorns. Both exist only to those who have already seen them.

Fortunately for you, your bathroom probably has a mirror. Go look in it. You’ve now met the unicorn author.

It’s no secret that authors, along with other artistic career folk, tend towards the darker banes of life. Mental illness, addiction, etc. Mostly because we spend a lot of time on the side of the mind that everyone tells us either doesn’t exist or only matters until we’re about six when it stops being cute. You know, the imagination?

Those messages take a heavy toll. I have good news, though.

Losing that battle is not a requirement. In fact, if indeed you find yourself there, it gives you a much better handle on the world you want to create. At least it did for me. So what’s the moral?

Stop Outsourcing Your Strength

Go read the first paragraph again. Think of anything that once required human mental effort that now uses a computer. Do you outsource it for yourself? Keeping track of your day. Remembering to eat. Not getting too caught up in TV To check your email.

I’d bet you even outsource your own strength.

I know I did.

I clung to others’ views of me, of my writing, of my success. I craved recognition for even the tiniest accomplishment. A part of me still does. Part of me is quite needy. I’ll admit it. Just don’t tell anyone.

Really, though, I’ve been in at least a few online writers’ groups, and I’ve noticed one common trend among those who cling to “support” from others. Often, the support they seek isn’t truly support, it’s recognition. It’s a pat on the back and a Great Job! sticker.

Again, I once did the same.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t work. If you want to keep your mental health AND make it as an author, you need grit. I’ll delve into just what GRIT means in another post. In the meantime, you need the inner strength and fortitude to keep pressing through not having support. Because sometimes, you build a fantastic network…

Only to lose all contact with them the second the internet goes down.

So what do you do?

Build Your Inner Fortress

There’s a Helm’s Deep somewhere in your mind. And it’s likely buried under a bunch of digital noise pretending at productivity. Here’s a weekend challenge. Or your next day off.

Remove the distractions! Or end up like this guy.

Get up in the morning. Turn OFF your phone. Unplug your Wi-Fi router. Turn off all electronics. Television, desktop, laptops, tablets, YES even your Kindle! Go to an ATM. Pull out some cash. $20 should be fine.
Now, walk around your town.

Then come back and tell me in the comments how long it took you to panic before you ran back inside for your phone.