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

Here’s a good selection of articles and posts to get your mental corn popping (making those creative connections).

Fake news and lies: the caravan edition. Jim C. Hines (AKA the voice of reason)

Rachel Monroe profiles the FBI of the National Park Service. Outside

Former CIA chief explains how spies use disguises. Wired

 

Ivan Semeniuk interviews Canada’s newest Nobel Prize winner, Donna Strickland: I just wanted to do something fun. The Globe and Mail

Douglas Fox wants you to meet the endoterrestrials. The Atlantic

Phil Plait shares an awesome video that shows you how big the biggest stars really are. SyFy

Farhad Manjoo: a future where everything becomes a computer is as creepy as you feared. The New York Times

Emily Mullin explains how tuberculosis shaped Victorian fashion. The Smithsonian Magazine

Antonio Regalado relates one family’s race for a gene therapy cure. MIT Technology Review

Diana Kwon reports on the nerve pathway linking the stomach to the brain’s pleasure centers. Scientific American

Alex Williams: maybe your sleep problem isn’t a problem. Me? I’d prefer to sleep until 8 or 9 am and slowly roll into the day. Too bad I can’t actually do that. The New York Times

Sarah DiGuilio explains why some researchers think “brain tingles” could be the next big trend in relaxation. My ASMR aren’t triggered visually or auditorily, but tactilely. I’ve always had a thing for someone running their fingers lightly over my back. I used to bug my best friend to do it when I was a kid. NBC News

Sadie Caron says that nature is a free and easy way to manage anxiety. North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper

Maybe my stoicism and introversion are hard-wired? Laura Studarus explains how the Finnish survive without small talk. BBC

Check out this guilty dogs compilation. Laugh & Grin

 

Be well until the weekend!

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Sept 30-Oct 6, 2018

The thoughy’s focused on psychology and neuroscience this week. What appropriate subject matter for getting your mental corn popping 🙂

Lisa Margonelli enters the jaw-dropping world of termites: a giant, crawling brain. The Guardian

Mark Humphries presents a new prime suspect for depression. The Spike/Medium

Bruce Goldman-Stanford says people with depression have low blood levels of this stuff (but that doesn’t mean you should rush out to buy some). Futurity

Joseph Frankel: hallucinations are everywhere. The Atlantic

Ermin Misirlisoy explains what happens when your body is no longer yours. Medium

Paula Cocozza examines night terrors: what do anxiety dreams mean? The Guardian

Inverse: Your brain on horror with Shannon Odell.

 

Jacqueline Detwiler introduces us to the heroes of science who are unlocking the brain. Popular Mechanics

Ayodeji Awosika explains why it’s dangerous to focus on finding your passion and what you should do instead. Medium

And that was thoughty Thursday.

Until next Tipsday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Aug 5-11, 2018

It’s time to get your mental corn popping, that is, to present you with some interesting stuff in the hope that the resulting creative connections will lead to your next awesome project! Yup, that’s what thoughty Thursday’s all about.

Patricia Grisafi writes about the terrible “what if”: how OCD makes every day a matter of life and death. The Guardian

Brenda Knowles wonders if solitary activities are only half-fixes for anxiety and depression. Space2Live

Your brain on caffeine with Shannon Odell. Inverse

 

Tom Wipple: how to edit a human. On unlocking the human genome, ethics, and CRISPR. 1843

Jason Pontin discusses the genetics (and ethics) of making humans fit for Mars. Wired

Disney princesses look more like children as the years pass. It’s not accidental. It’s all about neoteny. It’s Okay to be Smart

 

And, for your amusement: Ze Frank’s true facts about the dung beetle.

 

Be well until next tipsday!

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The next chapter: May 2018 update

Hello, all you writerly people!

It’s time for my next chapter update for May 2018.

Looks like I’m finding my stride. Things were going so well with the drafting of Playing with Fire, that I actually decided to take a purposeful break to read the draft to date. The problem I was encountering is that it’s taken me so long, relatively speaking, to draft the darned thing that I started to forget what I’d written way back in November (or December, January, February, March, or April!).

It’s been niggling at me for a while, and sometimes, I’d just go back to the chapter I suspected contained the bit I was looking to be refreshed on, but that got cumbersome, particularly since, once there, I’d start tweaking …

K.M. Weiland has been mentioning how she does a periodic re-read of her WIP, and I decided to give it a try. It was a nice rest, and a great way to tighten some of my plot threads, especially since I didn’t have to time to do much of an outline for this novel before I started drafting.

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Even with the break, about nine days, I still managed to surpass my 7,500-word writing goal. I wrote 8,302 words, or 111%.

I’m enjoying the break from weekend blogging as well, and though I adjusted my blogging goal to 3,000 words, even with just the curation posts going up, I managed to write 3,940 words on the blog, or 131% of my goal.

I met my DIY MFA deadline with a long column of 1,739 words, or 174% of my goal, and aggregated my penultimate Sudbury Writers’ Guild newsletter at 6,777 words, or 169% of that goal.

So, it’s been a good month, writing-wise.

The burnout thing

I promised to tell you how the whole burnout thing was going.

Well, after a lot of soul-searching, pondering, and some all-out navel-gazing, I’ve finally figured out why I’ve suffered such a protracted burnout in the past year. And, let’s be clear, I’ve been struggling since at least the beginning of 2017. It might, in fact, be longer than that.

Part of it is historical. It’s my writing wound, the lie I believe about myself as a creative person and about my work. If you’re ever curious and you have the time, you can read the posts in the category, My History as a So-called Writer. That will give you the low-down.

The short version is that my creative life has been full of threshold guardians (in hero’s journey terms), who’ve blocked me, stunted my growth, and betrayed me in various fashions. When I finally found my way back to a consistent writing practice in 2007, I thought I’d conquered those demons. In that version of victory, all the naysayers were wrong, and I was just going to do what I wanted. Screw them.

That, it turns out, was only half the battle. It’s the bitter legacy those experiences left me with that make me innately distrustful of handing my work off to anyone else, whether a friend, beta reader, editor, or … anyone. I don’t believe that the advice I receive is in the story’s best interest. Or mine. I always see it in terms of a personal attack, though unconsciously. I’m aware of it now but, in the moment, I often slip back into old ways of thinking.

While I’ve had some writing success, that lie has never left me. It’s made finding a critique group difficult. It makes working with editors a bit fraught. It also leaves me thinking that I’m not, at heart, a good writer (passable good, not even great) and that people are just humouring me. It’s not merely imposter syndrome. It’s a deep distrust of anyone else’s opinion of my work.

There’s been a lot of self-sabotage involved, mostly unconscious.

This is what I’m working to overcome now. It’s a process. It’s going to take time.

The next piece of the puzzle is that, in January of 2016, after decades of what we thought was good health, Phil went to the clinic thinking he might have shingles, and came home (well, there was some bloodwork in there) with multiple diagnoses: type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and possibly shingles.

He had no rash, though. Several months passed and the doctor said, fibromyalgia. Several more months passed, and they finally settled on widespread diabetic neuropathy. Until the doctor found the right combination of meds, there were some horrible times, but it all worked out. Eventually.

Two of the meds Phil was on were Lyrica (an antidepressant found to be effective for nerve pain) and Cymbalta (an anticonvulsant also found to be effective for nerve pain). Aside from managing his pain and elevating his mood (it has often been said of my husband that the inside of his skull is painted black), both medications increased the amount of melatonin in his system.

Phil, who had always been a night owl and considered sleep to be the enemy, was now getting the best sleep of his life. Things went well for a while.

Then, because he got a promotion that required occasional travel, Phil decided to stop both the Lyrica and Cymbalta. He couldn’t risk falling asleep at the wheel. Combine this with a progressively complex and worsening situation at his employer (ongoing) and things quickly went from bad to worse.

The health problems shook me, probably more than I’d care to admit. It was after Phil’s health situation resolved that I started to feel the real effects of the burnout.

But it was the work situation that broke the peace of our household. I was used to living with Mr. Grumpy Pants, but his problems at work followed him home and made everything more difficult. It was about that time that we brought Torvi home. The extra stress of bringing up puppy did not help.

Also in the mix was my great adventure of last year. Though Phil encouraged me to go, I felt horribly guilty about the expense. I’ll just be paying off the last of that debt this month.

Add to all that my own health problems. Though less life-threatening than Phil’s, they were affecting my quality of life. Now that most of them have been addressed, I’m in a much better place.

But every time I tried to dig myself out of the hole, emotionally speaking, in the last couple of years something popped up and dragged me back down. I’ve suffered several episodes of depression, panic attacks, and poor quality of sleep (resulting from the other two).

Most of these issues are resolving. I’ve had my ablation and other health issues are being investigated. I’ve lost about 25 pounds. I’ve gotten back to my regular writing practice and it’s feeling good. Torvi, at eight months and in her second obedience class, is becoming a good dog but, that too is a process.

Really, it’s just Phil’s work situation that’s the continuing problem but, though there’s still no end in sight, slow progress is being made. There’s hope that things might be largely sorted by the end of this year. We just have to hang in there.

I’m sure other world events have played their parts, but I’m actively seeking to minimize their effects on me.

I’ll keep you updated, for those who want to know.

My writerly event of the month

On May first (May Day, Beltaine—yes, I’m a paganish sort) I went to see the staged reading of the latest iteration of Kim Fahner’s play, Sparrows Over Slag. It was part of Play Smelter, which ran the rest of the week. It was fascinating to see the evolution of Kim’s play, of which I was privileged to read an early draft.

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She gave a lovely Q&A afterward that gave further insight into her process. Writing a play is a different beast than any other kind of writing, even screenplays.

Later that week, I had lunch with Kim, who was only in Sudbury for a couple of weeks around Play Smelter. She’s been in south western Ontario, working hard on her craft and trying to figure out her next steps, creatively.

Just chatting over lunch was a balm. We are soul sisters and that won’t change wherever she goes and whatever she chooses to do.

And that’s it for this month’s next chapter update.

Until the next time I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

The Next Chapter

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, April 8-14, 2018

You may notice that your informal writerly learnings are on the small side this week. The vagaries of the interwebz 🙂

K.M. Weiland begins a new series! Your ultimate first chapter checklist, part 1: hooking readers. Helping Writers Become Authors

Joanna Penn interviews Jane Friedman: the business of being a writer. Later in the week, Joanna shares three techniques to write better settings. The Creative Penn

Then, over on Jane’s blog, Jane Anne Staw explains how to make your writing anxiety disappear by thinking small.

Sacha Black tells you how not to mess up your book series. Writers Helping Writers

A.K. Perry delves into another of James Scott Bell’s story signposts—the care package. DIY MFA

Elisabeth Kauffman continues her ask the editor series: how do you end a book? DIY MFA

Kim Bullock offers a mental health checkup for writers: when you’re not okay. Writer Unboxed

Robin LaFevers mines her characters’ wounds. Writer Unboxed

Chris Winkle explains why storytelling advice is such a mess. Mythcreants

Philip Horne: Paul Theroux, Susie Boyt, and Amit Chaudhuri let us look inside their writers’ notebooks. The Guardian

And that was Tipsday for this week.

Be well until Thursday!

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, March 18-24, 2018

Once again, it’s time to get your mental corn popping.

Mona Eltahawy looks at Black Panther and the anti-black racism of Egyptians. The Washington Post

Here’s a bit of amazing research: Ojibwe plants and medicinal uses. Click through to download the paper. Dibaajimowin

Garden Therapy introduces us to some crazy plant ladies.

Katie Reilly: schools can’t keep up with the record number of students seeking treatment for depression and anxiety. Time

“Holy shite! What am I seeing out here?” Hilary Brueck interviews seven astronauts about what it’s really like to live in space. Business Insider

Phil Plait: the moon shows us what it means to be human. SyFy

SciShow Psych asks, should you stop using filler words?

 

Inverse: your brain on puppies!

 

Tomorrow is Friday and I hope you have a good one (lol—it’s Good Friday, doh!).

And be well until the weekend, when I hope you’ll be spending some quality time with the people you love.

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Muse-inks: Obedience begins (disastrously) and baby steps

The news of the week is that Torvi and I started beginner obedience classes with Tammy St. Louis of Skiplyn Kennels.

The church where the classes take place is a 30-minute drive away. Of course, despite Mom taking up her food earlier in the day, Torvi vomited on the way there. She didn’t on the return journey, but the entire back seat was wet with drool. And she howls, she’s so miserable in the car. I felt horrible for her.

So, I’m going to see if I can find her a Thunder Shirt. If that doesn’t work, I’ll move on to the meds our vet said they could dispense.

Once at the class, I remembered that I’d forgotten to buy a 6-foot leash, her collar was too loose, her Halti was too big, and she was declared “chubby.”

We managed to get through the class without a major incident, though. Torvi was absolutely exhausted. She just perked up today.

I’ve showed Mom and Phil the exercises I learned, and we are all working diligently with Torvi. She’s already showing some signs of improvement, though we’re not sure how much of that is from the stress and exhaustion and how much is from the practice. Shrug.

All of the pets we’ve raised have been neurotic, one way or another. I don’t think Torvi will be any different.

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Here she is. That’s actually the beginning of a yawn 🙂

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And here’s a pic of the orchids’ progress. It’s kind of like Pilgrim’s Progress, but with flowers 😀

I didn’t write or work on my curation Thursday night and caught up on my curation on Friday.

Tonight, I attended a friend’s 40th birthday party, stayed for the opening of the gifts and cake, and then came home to finish this post.

I’m also working on my first critique for my group.

I’ll head out on the writing trail again tomorrow. And I’m good with that.

Progress is being made, but in baby steps. Baby steps are still steps. It’s all good.

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

Muse-inks

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!

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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!

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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!

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