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!

Muse-inks

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, July 2-8, 2017

It’s a small but mixed bag of thoughty, this week.

So a couple of months ago, Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids came to Sudbury. It’s absolutely hilarious.

The Decolonial Atlas covers the Great Lakes from the Ojibwe perspective.

No one is stopping Tomson Highway from having a happy Canada Day. Brent Bambury’s Day 6 on CBC.

Nature’s fireworks. It’s okay to be smart

 

Kathryn Nave looks inside the startup that wants to mine asteroids and transform space travel forever. Wired

Zaria Gorvett: the massive volcano scientists can’t find (after 700 years). BBC

Sarah Kessler says we’ve been worrying about the end of work for 500 years. Quartz

Brigit Katz reports on the Chicago library seeking help transcribing magical manuscripts. Smithsonian Magazine

Brian Resnick explains the weird power of the placebo effect. Vox

Awareness Act lists 15 habits of people with concealed depression.

Shayla Love: how do you treat a dog with OCD? BBC

Popping the mental corn, it’s what thoughty Thursday’s all about 🙂

Be well until the weekend!

thoughtythursday2016

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!

thoughtythursday2016

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 🙂

GraphicCon

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!

Muse-inks

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, May 21-27, 2017

Time to get your thoughty on!

Brian Resnick reveals what the science really says about mindfulness in the classroom. Vox

John Cleese is offended by political correctness.

 

Emma shares her thoughts on what’s really going on when your partner says, “you should have asked.

Bill Chappell reports that Taiwan’s high court rules same-sex marriage legal, a first in Asia. NPR

Asia Kate Dillon makes a mark as “they.” Leigh Nordstrom for WWD.

Indigenous Motherhood states that energy is wasted on the battles of appropriation and racism: Indigenous systems are resistance. The best revenge is living a good life? Yeah. That.

Rich Larson unpacks the impact of Chris Cornell’s death: it’s not what you think. The First Ten Words

Foz Meadows: what depression is. Shattersnipe

Resilience is about how you recharge, not how you endure. Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan for The Harvard Business Review.

Jonice Webb lists ten things emotionally neglected kids grow up believing—that aren’t true. Yahoo!

Yudhijit Battacharjee explores the science behind why we lie. National Geographic

Josh O’Connor tells the tale of the women who pioneered computer programming before men took over. Timeline

David Kohn: when scientists saw the mouse heads glowing, they knew the discovery was big. New breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research. The Washington Post

Bec Crew reports that the brain literally starts eating itself when it doesn’t get enough sleep. [On that note, I think I’m going to bed …] Science Alert

Alexandra Sifferlin explains why your diet isn’t working. A long, but fascinating, article. Time

Lauren (Cough into my open mouth on Tumblr) shares her latest batch of gryphons.

I hope that got your mental corn popping!

See you again on the weekend.

Be well until then.

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, May 14-20, 2017

A little bit of this and a little bit of that, all to get your mental corn popping 🙂

SOS Safety Magazine lists four signs of a person with high-functioning depression. This is me.

How stress changes the brain and body (with helpful TED-Ed video). Mindful

ASAP Science shares seven ways to reduce your stress right now.

 

Wendi looks at the dark side of empathic people. Parhlo

Jesse Menayan shares what he and the Casper research team discovered about how couples affect each other’s sleep. Yeah, it’s a big ole advertisement, but the research is interesting and sleep is important. Medium

Dom Galeon: our brains might be 100 times more powerful than we thought. Futurism

Heidi Priebe profiles the personal hells of each Myers-Briggs personality type. My personal hell? Learning how everything I’ve said or done has hurt someone else, intentional or otherwise. Yup. Writhing already. Thought Catalog

A wee clip from Michael Moore on Finland’s school system.

 

Simon Parkin: teaching robots right from wrong. 1843 Magazine

Etan Vlessing covers the creation of A World without Canada, a dystopian series narrated by Dan Ackroyd and featuring Robert J. Sawyer. The Hollywood Reporter

Richard O. Prum writes of duck sex and the patriarchy. Though it’s hard to tell from the title, this is an amazing article. The New Yorker

Gaze in awe at these colourized photos of Russian women snipers, who terrorized the Nazis in WWII. Julian Robinson for Mail Online.

Alex Tizon tells the heart wrenching story of his family’s slave. The Atlantic

Chris Jones shares footage of how narwhales use their tusks. IFLS

Skandinavian folk on nyckelharpa, by Myrkur:

 

And your kawaii for the week: Ozzy, the desk weasel.

 

See you Saturday for my wrap up post about Writing the Other. Tasty, tasty!

Be well until then, my friends.

thoughtythursday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 19-25, 2017

And here we are for another week of informal writerly learnings.

K.M. Weiland shares eight ways to master your story’s pace. Helping Writers Become Authors

Vaughn Roycroft: the significance of small gestures. Writer Unboxed

Jeanne Kisacky shares her experience with post-project depression and recovery. Writer Unboxed

Chuck Wendig says you must write unafraid, without fear of failure. Terribleminds

Jami Gold asks, are there story elements you avoid writing?

Jeanne Cavelos guest posts on Writer Unboxed: the importance of the adversarial ally.

Stephanie O’Brien: how to write a fight scene readers will love. The Write Practice

Kristen Lamb says description is writer’s crack, but you have to find the write balance.

Jamie Raintree: there are no shortcuts. Writers in the Storm

Emily Wenstrom shares five ways to show readers you’re their perfect match. DIYMFA

Dan Blank encourages you to embrace your boundaries. Writer Unboxed

Heather Webb considers what fiction trends say about us. Writer Unboxed

Betsy Dornbusch guest posts on Terribleminds: the new relevance of the fantasy novel.

Veronica Sicoe wonders what happens when “professional writing career” isn’t your end-all goal?

Sara Letourneau joins the Writers Helping Writers resident writing coaches: using text-to-speech software as an editing tool.

Gabriela Pereira interviews Brian Meehl on DIYMFA radio: the only way forward is back.

Chris Winkle offers six tips on how to challenge bigotry in your work. Mythcreants

Oren Ashkenazi explores five underused settings in speculative fiction. Mythcreants

Pixar and the Khan Academy team up to produce The Art of Storytelling. And … it’s FREE!

Colleen Gillard wonders why the British tell better children’s stories. The Atlantic

Jason Daly reports that ancient Egyptian stories will be published in English for the first time. The Smithsonian Magazine

Michael Livingston shares the tales of his favourite five medieval women warriors (including Lagertha!). Tor.com

Space says that Mary and the Witch’s Flower captures the spirit of Studio Ghibli.

Brain full? Good. Now get writing!

See you Thursday!

tipsday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 1-7, 2017

It’s quality over quantity this week.

Charles Foran wonders if Canada is the world’s first post-national country. The Guardian

Wab Kinew: there is room in our circle for Joseph Boyden. The Globe and Mail

Matt Ayton asks, why don’t we stand with Turkey like we did with Orlando and Paris? The Independent

William Deresiewicz: how to learn how to think. Farnham Street

Medievalists.net explores the sleeping habits of the Middle Ages.

Jo Marchant digs into this 3,500 year old Mycenae tomb and how it changes what we know about history. The Smithsonian Magazine

George Dvorsky reports on the discovery of a stunning new type of galaxy. Gizmodo

Maddie Stone shares the most detailed view of black holes in the universe. Gizmodo

Lauren Jarvis-Gibson lists eleven things people don’t realize you do because of your anxiety. Thought Catalog

On the Hearty Soul: how complaining rewires your brain to be anxious and depressed.

Daily Health Records lists fifteen things you’ll notice when you’re in the presence of an empath.

Here’s hoping something got your mental corn popping 🙂

On Saturday, I return to WorldCon 2016 reporting.

Be well until then!

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 25-31, 2016

It’s a right mix of edutainment this week, but I hope it still pops your mental corn!

A Sudbury teen, missing since December 20, is found on Christmas Eve. Sudbury Star

Petula Dvorak: the Hannuka/Christmas convergence couldn’t be more symbolic of the light we need to embrace. The Washington Post

Oliver Burkeman reports on why time management is ruining our lives. I might argue that this would only apply to those for whom the skill does not come naturally. The Guardian

Feeling less than grateful? Some people are just wired that way. Katherine Hobson for NPR.

Emily Hartridge talks about her top four anxiety challenges.

 

Depression is all in your head—and now, doctors know where. Second Nexus

Alan Yu explains how a diet high in fat and sugar affects your memory. NPR

Becca Martin hates to break it to you, but you are the reason your life sucks. Thought Catalog

Madeleine Davies: becoming ugly. Jezebel

Bec Crew reports on a new Alzheimer’s therapy that fully restores memory function. Science Alert

Antonio Regalado: everything you need to know about gene therapy’s most promising year. MIT technology review

Phil Plait shares a fabulous photo of a lunar fogbow. Slate

In England, you can camp in abandoned medieval churches. David Wilson for Atlas Obscura.

I’m all about Immie (Imogen Heap) this week. Lifeline:

 

Canvas:

 

You know where to find me:

 

Neglected space:

 

Coming up on the weekend: I’ll be looking at December’s writing progress and wrapping up 2016.

Be well until then, my lovely people 🙂

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 11-17, 2016

If your brain’s already gone on holiday, have some thoughty fun with these offerings 🙂

Saw last week that Alan Thicke has passed away, too. It’s been such a sad year for performers and artists 😦 And political unrest. And Syria . . . Take heart. Here are 99 reasons 2016 was a great year. Medium

Christopher Dickey shares the tale of angels of the resistance (and one serial killer) in Nazi-occupied Paris. The Daily Beast

UN Women takes a stand against gender-based violence.

 

Eugene Soltes explores the psychology of white-collar criminals. The Atlantic

Matt Blitz tells the real story behind the myth of Area 51. Popular Mechanics

Annalee Newitz investigates the lost city of Cahokia under the St. Louis suburbs. Ars Technica

Amanda Gefter interviews Donald D. Hoffman: the case against reality. One of my favourite bits: “… we have evolution itself to thank for this magnificent illusion …” The Atlantic

Peter Dockrill: cellular reprogramming has been used to reverse the aging process in animals. Science Alert

Simon Oxenham explains why bees could be the secret to superhuman intelligence. BBC

Peter Brannen examines a possible break in one of evolution’s biggest mysteries. The Atlantic

Chris Jones reports on Sara Seager, the woman who might find us another Earth. The New York Times Magazine

Watch this cool BBC video about how one woman with Parkinson’s regained the ability to write and draw.

 

Robby Berman reports on filmmaker Adam Rosenberg’s hilarious video in which he shares some of his nocturnal musings. It’s called Somniloquist and you have to watch it. Nearly peed myself laughing. Slate

Olga Khazan explains how magic mushrooms help patients with severe anxiety and depression. The Atlantic

Lauren Vinopal lists the 18 best houseplants for cleaning the air, according to NASA. Fatherly

Julia Shaw: I’m a scientist, and I don’t believe in facts. Scientific American

George Dvorsky reports on what the brightest supernova ever seen really was. Gizmodo

Natalie Wolchover: quantum gravity research could reveal the true nature of time. Wired

‘Tis the season, so here’s sommat from Grimfrost on Vikings, Santa, and Christmas 🙂

 

Honest to Paws introduces us to the Akhal-Teke, the most beautiful horse in the world.

Hope your mental corn’s a-poppin’ fit to see you through the holiday frenzy 🙂

Have a good one, everyone!

thoughtythursday2016