Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 11-17, 2018

Happy Friday Eve! Here’s a little something to get the mental corn popping.

Sad stuff first …

Kyle Edwards: the Gerald Stanley verdict is a terrifying blow to reconciliation. McLean’s

Rachel Giese wonders why Colton Boushie’s mother has had to work so hard to prove her son’s humanity? Chatelaine

Tage Rai: the myth that mental illness causes mass shootings. Behavioral Scientist

Max Fisher and Josh Keller examine the reason there are so many mass shootings in the US. The New York Times

Sean Illing interviews Steven Pinker for Vox: the case for optimism.

Katherine Ellen Foley explains why we cringe when someone else embarrasses themselves. It’s all about empathy. Quartzy

Chuck Wendig offers some quick thoughts on managing anxiety. Terribleminds

Emily Hartridge gives us an update on her anxiety and how she deals.


SciShow Psych: myths about schizophrenia.


SciShow Psych: dissociative identity disorder.


How Tim Lomas discovered there are (at least) 14 different kinds of love by analysing the world’s languages. The Conversation

Mireia Movellán Luis profiles the rise and fall of the mighty Minoans. National Geographic

SciShow: thunder snow. We have that up here 😉


Katherine Zuckerman thinks that if birds left tracks in the sky, they’d look like these amazing photos by Xavi Bou. National Gerographic

Check out this collection of leaf insects—love the ones that look like little flowers! Daily Motion

The BBC News reports on the fall of a 1,000-year-old tree in Wales.

Zoey Peresman reviews Kate Bush’s The Kick inside on its 40th anniversary. Stereo Gum

Be well until the weekend!



Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 21-27, 2018

It’s time to get your mental corn popping!

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg reflects on the #metoo movement. Nina Tottenberg for NPR.

Jia Tolentino: the rising pressure of the #metoo backlash. The New Yorker

Lili Loufbourow exposes the female price of male pleasure. The Week

The secret to living longer may be your social life. Susan Pinker’s TED Talk.

Why we act introverted: it’s not just nature. Brenda Knowles, Space2Live.

Rachael Stephen: depression and anxiety 101.


“Good” and “bad” are incomplete stories we tell ourselves. Heather Lanier’s TED talk.


Julie Beck: the new age of astrology. The Atlantic

Thomas Merritt looks for clues to the mystery of handedness in kangaroos and shopping malls. The Conversation

Garret Beard explains how artificial intelligence is going to supercharge surveillance. The Verge

Lessons from a solar storm chaser. Miho Janvier’s TED Talk.


Woman librarians delivered books by horseback in the 1930s. A pictorial retrospective. Deb Street for History Daily.

The history of Appalachian English, or, why we talk differently. Appalachian Magazine

Be well until the weekend 🙂

The first next chapter update of 2018 is on deck!


Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 1-2, 2017

Thoughty Thursday’s here, and you know what that means—tomorrow is Friday!

Again, this is just a brief curation to restart the blogging engine 🙂

It’s time to get the mental corn popping.

Fan asks Dan Harmon about depression and he offers insightful advice. Bored Panda

Nothing But Thieves frontman, Conor, on his experience with depression and anxiety.


Jack Turban: nice brains finish last. Scientific American

ASAP Science: can you change someone’s opinion?


Rich Bellis explains how to design your ideal workday based on your sleep habits. Fast Company

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) reports that they’ll be able to extend the life of Voyager 1 (and possibly Voyager 2) by using thrusters that haven’t been fired in 37 years.

Nothing But Thieves – Broken Machine live for #IAMWHOLE


How’s that for a practice run?

Be well until the weekend!



Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Oct 15-21, 2017

Another small, but insightful batch of thoughty.

Julie Beck: imagining the future is just another form of memory. The Atlantic

Ryan Krull reports on homelessness in public libraries. The Millions

ASAP Science asks, why are you anxious?


Natasha Frost: before mace, the humble hatpin was the unescorted lady’s best defense. Atlas Obscura

Mattie Kahn interviews Gloria Steinem about Harvey Weinstein’s fall, Hugh Heffner’s death, and the patriarchy’s endless last gasp. Elle

Lyndsey Matthews wonders, is Ikigai the new Hygge? With Venn diagram 🙂 Country Living

Walk Off the Earth covers Hey Ya!


I hope something there got your mental corn popping 🙂

Be well until the weekend’s writerly news post!



Lessons learned and takeaways from my European adventure

Over the weeks since my return and interspersed with monthly updates, I’ve been recounting my European adventure. Now, I’m finally ready to talk about the benefits I’ve gained and the things I’ve learned from the experience.


Planning and preparation are important

I committed to the Writing Excuses Retreat and WorldCon in early February. It could have been January, but I was hesitant because of the expense. Ultimately, it was a confluence of events: WXR doing a Baltic cruise—they usually cruise the Caribbean, WorldCon being in Helsinki, my desire to visit the country of my ancestry, and the fact that I could do all that AND get in some quality first time tourism at the same time as I continued my professional development as a writer.

Once I committed, I was hip-deep in making the travel arrangements. WXR had their own travel agents and I was able to get a great price on a return European flight through them. All of the cruise arrangements were made through the travel agency.

They facilitated the registration for the cruise, the booking of all the tours at each of the stops, and the issuing of all electronic travel documents.

I made my own hotel booking and, with very little back and forth, I was able to secure the convention rate for my extended stay.

While I attempted to make my additional travel arrangements through the travel agents associated with the cruise, they were busy enough handling the details for the cruise. I’d noticed that the Canadian Auto Association, of which I am a member, was promoting their European travel services. I decided to make the remaining arrangements through them.

There was much more back and forth, but by staying on top of the email thread, I had my flight from Hamburg to Helsinki booked, my rental car, and my bus tour to cover the days in between the cruise and WorldCon.

I went to the airline sites and to CATSA to help me with my packing. My thought was to travel light and only have my carryon luggage and my (fairly large) purse. I reviewed my itineraries for the flights, cruise, and the schedule for the convention to plan out, in rough strokes, where I’d have to be, when.

I was as prepared as I could be by the time I left, but while planning and preparation are important, they aren’t everything.

I still suffered panic attacks in the week leading up to my trip. I still had to deal with ongoing anxiety during the flights—not because I’m afraid of flying, but because I was afraid that despite all my planning, that something catastrophic in terms of making my connections, delays, or other uncontrollable elements (weather) that attend travel would render my planning useless.

Fortunately, none of that happened.

Travelling alone is empowering

Because so much is out of your control when you travel alone, you quickly realize you just have to put on your big girl (or big boy) pant(ie)s and git ‘er done.

Anxiety serves no purpose in these situations and, frankly, can’t be indulged. Yes. I wrote that. Anxiety, in some situations, is an indulgence. It’s an indulgence of imbalanced or malfunctioning neurotransmitters, and not easily managed, but it’s still an indulgence.

I have a friend who lives with obsessive compulsive disorder and its attendant anxiety. I invited her up for a short visit that, because of its brevity, was highly structured (I guess planning’s a thing with me). In the ensuing whirlwind, she didn’t have the time to perform her particular rituals.

Months (it might have been years) later, she told me how that visit had changed her. It was concrete evidence that even if she couldn’t indulge her OCD, that the things she feared would happen, didn’t. It was a breakthrough for her.

I travel alone all the time. I drive down to Ottawa, to Toronto, or to other cities in southern Ontario to train for my day job. I attend writing conferences, conventions, and workshops alone. Some of these have been across the country, or in the States. But I’d never been outside of continental North America before. In a very real way, I had never been more alone.

After the pre-departure panic attacks, though, I progressed straight to a semi-fugue state during travel. I was completely in the moment. I had to continually check my itinerary to make sure I was making progress to the next queue, or boarding, or whatever, because it was too tempting to slip into a place in which I wouldn’t care if I got anywhere at all.

Though I spent my waiting and flight time reading or watching movies to keep myself distracted, I wasn’t really forming solid memories of these things. I felt like a deer in the headlights most of the time. It was a test of endurance more than anything else, but I didn’t have a panic attack for the duration of my trip.

A little bit of that disconnect from reality followed me throughout my journey and reasserted itself for my days of solo travel. I was more in control once most of the uncertainty was behind me, once I’d reached the Atlantic Hotel in Kiel, for instance, or embarked on the cruise ship, or checked into the Sokkos Presidentti.

During the retreat itself, I had to be intentionally vulnerable, painfully honest, and resist attempts to make my work, accomplishments, or failures—essentially me—sound better, less devastating, or more professional than they were. It takes effort to do this when your body and brain is used to preventing you from doing these very things. It’s very liberating.

And, as my friend Kim told me, it’s also empowering. I can be authentic and the world doesn’t end. People still like me. I can be honest, and my tribe (writers) will support me.

As I’ve mentioned in past posts about this trip, the experience is still changing me. I’m a creature of habit and change is slow to come.

It was bucket-listy

When I started to attend conferences, conventions, and workshops, I started to set goals. Attend  Ad Astra. Check. I’ve now attended three. Attend the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. Check. Attend When Words Collide. Check. Attend Can-Con. Check. Attend WorldCon. Check.

When I started to listen to the Writing Excuses podcast, I became aware of their writing retreats. Initially, they were held at Mary’s parent’s house. Eventually, though, they became more ambitious and the retreat took place on a cruise ship.

So I put that on my list of writerly goals. The Baltic cruise was special, though. The Writing Excuses cast will likely not be doing something similar in the near future. I could have made it even more bucket-listy by attending the German castle tour that followed the cruise, but I had to draw my financial line somewhere.

Still, to attend a writing retreat on a cruise ship, in Europe, and to be able to see some of the world in addition to developing my skill as a writer? As they say on the credit card commercial, that was priceless. It was the perfect storm of opportunity.

Travel and experience are critical parts of becoming a better writer. You have to push your limits, get out of your comfort zone, to make a breakthrough.

Ask and you shall receive

I left on my trip with a couple of personal goals in mind aside from travelling Europe and participating in the cruise.

Again, as I’ve mentioned previously, I have been having increasing difficulty with creative burnout. I wanted to see if I could get some practical advice and solid strategies for identifying and addressing the underlying reasons for this.

K. Tempest Bradford and Emma Newman were particularly helpful in this respect. The path they’ve lit the way to is one I’m still walking. I’ll have to devote another blog to this in the future, once I’ve sorted more of it out.

For now, I’m easing up on the writerly goal setting. I’m making room for other entertainment, down time, and self-care. I’m not so obsessed with heeding the siren song of production (moar!). I’m working on understanding that what I can get done is enough, that I am enough, and that reminding myself of the reasons I chose to write in the first place (love!) take precedence over external validation.

The other thing I was looking for was something that I’ve been trying for a couple of years to get in place, a mentor, editor, or some other form of support to help me get to the next level, so to speak, in my writing. I’ve tried to get a situation in place, but often personalities, interests, or skill sets have not meshed.

I’ve also been a part of many informal writing groups in real life as well as on line over the years. Again, personal goals, interests, and skill sets have not meshed. Or the methodology has been, in my opinion, flawed. Focusing on the first X pages or chapters doesn’t result in appropriate feedback, and feeding chapters, or sections, to readers over months or years isn’t necessarily productive either. Neither approach allows the reader or critique partner to get a feeling for the whole story, which I think is critical to feedback that results in improvement.

By the end of the cruise, I’d expressed interest in a full-novel critique group. Over the course of WorldCon, connections were made and things were firmed up. Starting in January of 2018, there’s a group of us that are going to give it a shot. I have hope and expectations, but not so many, nor so high, that they will be easily disappointed 🙂

One thing that I wasn’t expecting to receive was the excellent advice of Thomas Olde Heuvelt on how to develop and maintain a creative life plan. I’ve been setting writerly goals for years, but they’ve been primarily one-dimensional and focused on production.

Thomas’s advice to let the over-the-top, blue-sky, dreamy goals inform your overall writing goals and to include holistic life goals, like health—physical and mental—and financial, in the plan helped me to realize how much wellbeing I’ve been leaving out of my goals in recent years. He also recommended having a five year plan in place, subject to change (life does have a habit of intervening).

My European adventure was truly a life-changing experience, in many ways.

I’ll have to let you know how everything works out, but as many of my takeaways were things I’m going to be implementing over time, the results may be a while in coming.

Next week, I’ll be devoting some time to Kim’s launch of Some Other Sky and my presentation for the Sudbury Writers’ Guild on Fantasy (yes, the topic is wide open—it’s going to be fun). After that, I’m going to be participating in NaNoWriMo and taking a month-long blogging break, except for the Thoughty Thursday coming out on November 2nd.

I’ll catch everyone up in December with another bonanza October/November next chapter update. There are also going to be some writerly events coming up in November, including WordStock Sudbury and a possible Gail Anderson-Dargatz workshop with the Sudbury Writers’ Guild.

There will be more writerly goodness coming up.

Until next I blog, be kind, be well, and stay strong, my friends. The world needs your stories.


Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Oct 8-14, 2017

Something in this grab bag should get your mental corn popping 😉

Julie Ireton continues her investigation: chaos inside the Phoenix pay centres—is anyone’s pay right? CBC

Shaun King: the airport bomber from last week you never heard about. The Intercept

Phil Plait shares Juno’s latest images: Jovian chaos. SyFy

SciSchow news: new confirmation for the “warm little pond” theory of life; helpful tumours.


ASAP Science presents scientific tips for surviving the apocalypse.


Living with high functioning anxiety. Jordan Raskopoulos TEDxSydney.


Benoit Denizet-Lewis: why are more American teenagers than ever suffering from severe anxiety? The New York Times Magazine

Ashley Rogers: consent, intent, and problematic convention behaviour. Nerd Caliber

Karla Lant reports on a new drug that fixes cavities and regrows teeth. Futurism

Ancient Egyptian treasures found at the bottom of the ocean. Daily Berries

Claudia Roth Pierpont exposes the secret lives of Leonardo da Vinci. The New Yorker

Kelly Faircloth shares an oddly compelling video about how medieval people used to walk. Jezebel

Hannah Rose-Yee: Swedish death cleaning is the morbid new way to de-clutter your life. New York Post

Jane Carr reports on female code breakers for CNN.

And that was your Thoughty Thursday for the week.

Be well until the weekend!



Muse-Inks: Weird mood stuff

So here’s the (first) thing: I’m freaking out inside (about my upcoming trip), but I’m trying not to freak out. I’m so excited I can barely stand it, but … if I let either of those two particular cats out of their respective bags, I won’t be able to function.

And I have to function. I have to be able to work. I have to be able to write. I have to be able to do normal, day to day stuff like laundry. And I have to be able to organize my shit and pack for the trip. Which, of course, loops me back around to freaking out.

Can I tell you that all this restraint is exhausting (and not have y’all think that I’m a whiny baby)?

Anxiety is real.

I may appear calm. I may speak quietly. I may smile.

Meanwhile, my heart’s beating a hundred miles an hour, I feel like I’m having hot flashes (and I’m of the age when some of them may be legitimate), I’m dizzy and feel like I might faint, and sometimes my extremities go numb. All of these reactions are the result of adrenalin release. Though I’m not actually experiencing anything that justifies fight or flight, my anxiety triggers the hormone cascade.

It also messes up healthy sleep, which means I’m perpetually tired.

Most of my effort centres on remaining clam. If I can prevent the cascade from happening in the first place, I’m good. So at the day job, I’m laser-focused until breaks and lunch and then I dive into one of the several novels I have on the go and I immerse myself in words.

I avoid talking about the trip, because that, in itself, can be a trigger. I can’t be rude, though, and once the topic comes up, I try to focus on the practical, the logical, the real. I’m not always successful. And once my anxiety kicks up, I can only ride it out, go for a walk to burn off some of the nervous energy, or focus on my breathing until my hands stop shaking.

An anxiety attack passes. That doesn’t mean it’s not hell while it lasts.

So, yeah. That’s the first weird mood thing going on.

The second is introspective weirdness.

I’ve written before that I used to dream vividly when I was young. I had nightmares and night terrors, somnambulism, and somniloquy (talking in your sleep). I’ve had out of body experiences, near death experiences, and other experiences of the universe that would be considered uncanny.

I’ve delved into meditation of various stripes, wicca, and European shamanism.

From my mid-twenties into my mid-thirties, I was what I would call a seeker.

After all the reading and the research and the exploration, I ended up settling on the uncertain ground of the agnostic. My experience of the universe defied definition. I didn’t want to force-fit it into a category. I let it be what it is, tell me what it wanted to, and I’d respond accordingly.

The problem is, as I get older, I’ve heard, or felt, those universal nudges less and less. And I don’t know what the cause is.

Have I, like Susan Pevensie, outgrown my sense of wonder? Recent events have led me to believe that this is not the case. Am I close enough to where I need to be that I don’t need those universal nudges anymore? Possibly, but why do I feel so … lost, then? Have I shut down my intuitive side? Again, it’s possible, but how can I tell?

I’ve been working on the assumption that all of the uncanny stuff has channelled itself into my creativity. This part of my life continues to blossom, but it’s a flower in a private conservatory. What’s the point if no one gets to see it?

I guess that’s what everything comes down to. I know what it is I need to do, and I do it. I write. I study craft and literature and story of all kinds. My life revolves around that central principle, sometimes to an unhealthy extent.

To date, however, I haven’t been able to produce a lot of objective evidence of the work that I’ve done.

I know that the writing is its own intrinsic reward. I will still be writing for the rest of my life, regardless of what does, or does not happen. I just keep missing, or messing up, opportunities to get my words out there, or my efforts proceed without significant results.

They say that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. The universe seems to be out of lessons. I need to find another way forward.

Maybe my big Baltic adventure will provide some answers.

In the meantime, I’m going to make the effort to remain open, to recognize a universal nudge if I get one, and to act on it accordingly.

There you have it: I suffer from mental illness (depression and anxiety), and I have an unorthodox view of the universe. Maybe one leads to the other? Or coaxes it along? Who’s to know? Unless the universe is interested in sharing … ?

I shall leave you on that ambiguous note.

This is my last weekend post until after Helsinki WorldCon.

I don’t know how active I’ll be on social media, though I’m sure I’ll be posting a scad of photos 🙂

As ever, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!



Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, July 9-15, 2017

It’s time again to pop the mental corn.

Romeo Dallaire and Alex Neve: Canada failed Omar Khadr. The Globe and Mail

Sean Kilpatrick says Indigenous youths keep taking their own lives, and we keep looking away. The Globe and Mail

Lauren Dake reports on the mass eviction of hundreds of Yakama people: the quiet homelessness crisis. The Guardian

Jamie Catto says real is the new sexy. Elephant Journal

Dan Stelter lists 26 things that people don’t know you do because of anxiety. Anxiety Support Network

Tim Hollo: Elon Musk’s big battery brings reality crashing into a post-truth world. The Guardian

David Wallace-Wells runs the gamut of apocalyptic prognostication: the uninhabitable Earth. New York Magazine

Eqbal Dauqan may be the most unstoppable scientist in the world. Michaeleen Ducleff for NPR.

Science writers share the books that inspired them. The Guardian

Marcelo Gleiser: is the universe conscious? NPR

Phil Plait shares Juno’s photos of the Great Red Spot. SyFyWire

Jacob Dubé: ravens are so smart, one hack this researcher’s experiment. Motherboard

I riden så. Myrkur.


More Nordic folk music on nyckelharpa from Myrkur Ǿskemorder.


On that lovely note—ha!—I will bid you farewell until the weekend.

Be well until then.



Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, June 18-24, 2017

Here’s a bundle of stuff to get the mental corn popping.

Cathy Alex introduces us to Autumn Peltier: the twelve year old Indigenous girl who speaks for water. CBC

Ben Chapman looks at Finland’s experiment in universal basic income. The Indepedent

Adam Greenfield introduces us to a sociology of the smartphone. I’ll admit, Phil can be irritated by how much I use my phone, but my addiction’s not that bad in perspective. Longreads

I listened to this interview last Sunday—so good. And so important. Michael Enright interviews Daphne Merkin about staying alive despite her near-constant wish to die. The Sunday Edition on CBC.

Emma Young uncovers Melanie Goodwin’s life with multiple personalities. BBC

Alex Williams: Prozac nation is now the united states of Xanax. How anxiety is taking over as the leading mental illness in the US. The New York Times

David Nield reports: forgetting things could actually make you smarter. Science Alert

ASAP Science explores memory. Can you remember this?


Kristy Hamilton: researchers reveal the multi-dimensional universe of the brain. Mind blowing—lol! IFLS

Bec Crew reports: the first filmed DNA replication changes everything we thought we knew. Science Alert

SciShow asks, can you be allergic to sunlight? Oh, yeah.


Samantha Masunaga interviews Sue Finley, who was hired as a “computer” in 1958, about her long career at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The LA Times

I do not help my wife. Ladies pass it on

Casey Smith: DNA shows that cats domesticated themselves (ahem, or us …). National Geographic

Annalee Newitz shows how cats are extreme outliers among domestic animals. Ars Technica

Elephant conservation is more important than you think. Samburu for The Economist.

This ferret really wants her human to love her babies. Bored Panda

Happy-making music for the week: Walk off the Earth covers Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of you.”


Be well until the weekend!



Muse-Inks: My day at Graphic-Con and the struggle for balance

Greetings, writerly peoples!

Before I get to the meat of this post, I’ll give you a little update on the writerly happenings of the week.

This past week, there was just one. The Sudbury Writers’ Guild booked a table at Graphic-Con, which was held at the Sudbury Arena, Saturday, June 10th. While it’s not a huge event as comic cons go, it was big for Sudbury.

Fandom was well-represented. There were cosplayers, LARPers, gamers, table top gamers, RPGers, comic fans, art fans, and television and movie fans (Degrassi actors were in attendance). And there were readers.

SWG co-chair, Andy Taylor, committed to be present for the full day as this was our first year booking a table and he wasn’t sure whether it would be worth it or not. Liisa Kovala helped out from opening to noon. I helped out from noon to 6 pm, Clay Campbell walked over after his CKLU radio show and stayed through to 7 pm, Liisa returned to finish off the day and help Andy pack up the table, Kristan Cannon had her own table (right beside the SWG table), and members John Jantunen and Sabine Gorecki stopped by and hung out for a while. It was a team effort 🙂


Andy took this picture just after Clay (Rincewind) and I arrived and before Liisa left (noonish).

We had on display various books by Guild members, including a few copies of my wee poetry chapbook, NeoVerse. We sold just about one of everything (well, except NeoVerse—I didn’t expect poetry to be a big seller, though there was some interest), sold out of Creepy Capreol, which our other co-chair, Mat del Papa edited, and sold five of the SWG anthology, Sudbury Ink.

Sales weren’t the purpose of our booking the table, however. Reaching out to the writing community in Sudbury was. In that respect, the table was a total success. We had 19 people sign up to find out more about the Guild. We’re going to try to get together in late June for a special meeting for these individuals. If the timing doesn’t work out, we’ll at least send them a copy of our June newsletter to give them an idea of who we are and what we do.

Which leads us to balance

When I got home from Graphic-Con, I was pretty much bushed. Phil had the moms over for BBQ, but afterward, I decided to forgo my usual Saturday post.

Work/home/creative balance is a recurrent issue for me.

As a writer with a day job, I’ve chosen to devote nearly all of my non-work, non-sleep time to writing. Thus, a lot of other things go by the wayside. Physical fitness, family and social events, friends, support of artistic and professional organizations and events. Still. I can’t shut all of that out of my life. So, I try to squeeze it all in. Therein lies the rub.

When I can drag myself out of bed early enough, I do yoga or other exercises in the mornings. When the weather and other commitments permit, I walk home from work. I spend time with Phil and with my mom. I volunteer for the SWG and for the Canadian Authors Association. I try to get out and do something creative and soul-feeding in the community.

I try to get out and garden, or use my summer office. I try to keep the house clean(ish). My standards have fallen significantly in recent years …

I also try to write or revise my novels and short stories daily, keep up with my blog posts, keep up with my commitments to DIY MFA, read, study my craft, improve, attend writing workshops in person or online … and it all takes its toll.

Add to that my persistent issues with depression and anxiety which I must manage carefully, and a myriad of aches and pains that only seem to multiply the older I get, and there are times when I have to step back.

Phil’s supportive. He does the cooking, the groceries, the heavier household chores, and the renovation on his own. He knows my writing time is mine and, except for the odd hug or kiss—we need a fairly steady supply—he leaves me to do my thing. He doesn’t insist on coming along (he hates travelling and would just be miserable) or that I stay home when I have a conference or convention to attend. He listens when I have to blow off some frustration about work or professional obligations. He’s learned, for the most part, not to try to offer solutions. I’m very fortunate.

The heady rush of positive feeling and energy that returns with the sunlight in spring gives way to my first bout of burnout around this time every year. The second battle with burnout usually hits in the fall. This is why I have usually tried to take a self-funded leave from work every 18 months or so, May into June and then October into November.

It’s how I’ve managed my physical and mental health.

It’s been two years now since my last self-funded leave and the continual issues with our pay system at work have meant that I’ve had to defer my plans to take a leave yet again. I won’t be able to manage much longer if I can’t get a leave this fall. I’ve pushed through before, but never longer than two years. I used to work part time when I was in the call centre. That’s probably a better long-term strategy, but this next leave will involve a new pup as well, I don’t have enough leave aside from the self-funded to house train a pup.

I’m hoping that the larger part of our pay issues will be resolved by then and that it will be a possibility. Even if it’s not, I can’t afford not to make the request.

For now, all I can do is take things easy for a few days, give myself a break, and then get back to it.

I’ve been listening to Brené Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability sessions on Audible. Vulnerability is at the core of a satisfying life, of contentment (which is always my goal, not happiness—I’m pretty sure that’s a mythical beast), and of achieving healthy goals. And self-love is at the heart (lol) of vulnerability.

Unfortunately, I’m kind of addicted to shame and I tend to wall myself off from other people so I don’t have to be vulnerable with them, one on one. Everyone else thinks I’m doing great. I’m that high-functioning person living with mental illness. I can simulate vulnerability on this blog because it doesn’t cost me as much as opening up in person can. All the self-hate takes place in private. I operate from a scarcity mindset. There’s never enough time, energy, you name it, and I am certainly never enough.

I know that none of this is true, intellectually. I know time can be managed, found. A healthy lifestyle can provide me with more energy. I can tell my friends and family that they are enough often, but I can rarely turn that compassionate lens on myself.

So I’m going to goof off for a few days, except for the absolutely necessary stuff, like blogging and housework, professional obligations, and, well, the day job. I’m going to try to be present enough to listen and be kind to myself and to others. I’m going to try to enjoy myself.

We’ll see how it goes and I’ll check in with you next weekend after the poetry walk. The post may go up on Sunday again, but that’s just my way of shifting things to give me enough intellectual and emotional space to recover.

In the meantime, be well, be kind, and stay strong.

And I’ll “see” you on Tipsday!