Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 24-30, 2017

Here’s hoping this first instalment of Thoughty Thursday for 2018 gets your mental corn popping.

Erin Bunch suggests eight anti-resolutions that will make 2018 a happier year. Well + Good

It wasn’t all bad, says K.G Orphanides of Wired. Here’s a list of 17 things that made the world a better place in 2017.

Katherine Ellen Foley reviews where the major scientific discoveries from five years ago are now. Quartz

Michael Baumann: who gets to own outer space? The Ringer

Nicholas Casey profiles a Peruvian man who is the last speaker of his language. Heartbreaking. The New York Times

Nadra Kareem Nittle: what you should know about Kwanzaa and why it’s celebrated. Thought Co.

Harriet A. Washington thinks Hugh Jackman’s role as P.T. Barnum erased the showman’s violent racism. NBC

Olivia Goldhill: 30 years after the introduction of Prozac, we’re still buying the lie that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance. Quartz

Serena Daniari offers an immersive look into the transgender experience: walking while trans. Mic

Why we should celebrate the winter woodland, not just the Christmas tree. Robert Penn for The Guardian.

Wendy Berliner: why there’s no such thing as a gifted child. The Guardian

SciShow: why do we get colds when it’s cold?

 

Be well until the weekend, folks!

thoughtythursday2016

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Bidding farewell to 2017

Greetings, all!

K. Tempest Bradford shared something that Catherynne Valente wrote:

“If this were a trilogy, 2016 would be the explosively dramatic establishment of conflict. 2017 would be the lowest point, when all seems lost. And 2018 would be the redemption, the triumph snatched from defeat at the last moment, the victory over darkness. Here’s to 2018.”

As a writer of science fiction and fantasy, this struck me as true. Not real, but true.

Not only has the political situation been depressing (Trump and Brexit), but also continued terror attacks, refugees in the millions, mass shootings, sexual assault and harassment revelations, floods, fire, hurricanes, and cyclones … it really feels as if the world is falling apart on all levels.

Even I, as a Canadian, shielded from much of the douche-baggery rampant in the world, have felt the weight of depression more this year that in the several preceding. I’m still struggling with burnout, but I know that I’m in good company. Many of the authors, mostly American, that I follow online have expressed similar sentiments, though for different, and many more dire, reasons.

John Scalzi has had to slow the pace of his writing to deal. Kameron Hurley has had the medical rug pulled out from under her and is seeking to move to Canada, or at least to some place she doesn’t need to shell out thousands a month for the medication she needs to save her life.

Though Chuck Wendig initially expressed similar sentiments at the beginning of the year, he is also considering a move to another state, where state medical benefits can shore up the deficits in the national plan.

But even in 2017, some good things happened. Another thing I saw this morning was former president Obama’s tweets about some of those events.

Communities struck by tragedy have rallied to support their members. Whistle blowers have spoken out and inspired other victims to do the same. There is hope, even in the midst of the dark tea time of the soul. There can be no shadow without the light.

Trump hasn’t been half as successful as he says, and although he managed to dismantle the accessible healthcare act and protection for dreamers, his continual public displays of ignorance, misogyny, and other-phobia, combined with the scandals that continue to dog his heels give me hope for the future.

Then again, I (and so many other people) never thought he’d get into office in the first place.

Brexit proceeds, as it must, changing the political and trade landscape of Europe.

Global warming continues to mess with weather patterns creating monster storms, floods, and conditions ideal for wildfires.

Even here, in north eastern (more like central) Ontario we’ve felt the effects. In the last couple of years, we’ve had green Christmases. This year, it looked like the same thing was going to happen. We had a lovely, warm fall, but then the snow arrived on its usual schedule. And then we got hammered by cold temperatures we usually don’t see until January or February. New Year’s celebrations across Canada have been cancelled or moved indoors because it’s too cold to ask people to stand outside for very long.

Even Torvi, who I’m convinced has husky in her, who loves to stay outside much longer than her humans can bear to, is doing the cold paw dance and willingly comes inside once her business is done.

But the winter solstice is past and it’s getting lighter a little earlier each day. I have hope that this, too, shall pass.

I have hope that mid-term elections in the States will shift the balance of power in senate and congress.

I have hope that as more people speak out against injustice, the rest of the world will finally listen.

I have hope that we can turn the tide in our dependence of fossil fuels and invest more in renewable energy before it’s too late.

The point is, I have hope. I hope for a lot of things, but I have hope.

In the summer, when I embarked on the Writing Excuses Cruise, I wanted to make a breakthrough of some kind. I’ve been feeling for a couple of year that I’ve been on the cusp of something. I know. I’m a slow learner, I guess. I got my breakthrough, but not in the way I expected.

It took Emma Newman to ask me to look deeper for the source of my prolonged burnout. I immediately felt resistance to the suggestion, which told me it was exactly what I needed to do. I cracked the shell on the cruise, but it’s taken me some time to muck about in the goo within to come to terms.

When I first exposed my tender underbelly to a group of writers, I thought I finally had my past trauma under my thumb. I mistakenly thought that my inner editor, informed by a series of threshold guardian experiences, was the thing I had to conquer.

Yes and no.

I had to overcome the inner editor to believe that my work was good enough to submit. It wasn’t long after that, that I started to get second readings, short list placements, contest wins, and finally, a couple of paid publications. So it was work I had to do.

Then I stalled.

Those threshold guardian experiences instilled in me an instinctive, but wrong-headed, mistrust of editors, critique partners, and generally anyone else in whose hands I might put my words. Though I’ve worked with a few editors, took their advice, and worked to improve my stories, I think part of me has been trying to sabotage my own efforts. The resistance has always been there, the distrust.

So that’s my big goal for 2018. I have a critique group, and I’m going to work it. I’m going to open myself up and see if I can’t make one of my novels into something that agents and editors will like.

So … there it is, out in the world. My big, scary goal for 2018.

Be vulnerable. Get out of my own way.

And hope that everything will turn out for the best in the end.

Have a triumphant 2018, everyone!

Until the New Year, 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, 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!

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Sept 10-16, 2017

Time to get your mental corn popping.

Sarah Knapton: depression could be a physical illness that could be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs. The Telegraph

Zoe Plait (Phil’s daughter) recommends counting your passions if you live with depression. Miss Misery

Adam Beach explains why casting others in Native American roles is so harmful. Deadline Hollywood

Mayim Bialik – Minority from day one

 

Kristen Dold: the silent majority (or why we have to stop silencing victims). Women’s Health

The Tracey Ullman Show – What were you wearing?

 

Eliot Stein introduces us to the last surviving sea silk seamstress. BBC

Kristina Killgrove reports on the DNA confirmation of the first female Viking warrior. Forbes

Then, Holly Norton explains how the female Viking warrior was written out of history. The Guardian

Mike McRae: Vikings really could have used “sunstones” to navigate dark seas. Science Alert

Zaria Gorvett reports on the mystery of the lost Roman herb. BBC

On the eve of Cassini’s demise, Phil Plait shares a gallery of the best images it’s sent us. SyFy

George Dvorsky reports: we finally know why birds are so freakishly smart. Gizmodo

I just really like the Wonder Woman reference 🙂 Beck – Up all night

 

Be well until the weekend!

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, August 13-19, 2017

Thoughty Thursday starts off a bit dark this week.

As we become more effective at keeping guns and bomb-making materials out of the hands of extremists and terrorists, they turn to more accessible weapons like knives and vehicles. Fewer people may die, but even one death is too many.

Jack Holmes shares the Vice documentary on Charlottesville. Esquire

Karen Attiah covers Charlottesville the way Western media covers other nations. The Washington Post

How to make fun of Nazis: an alternative to meeting violence with violence. Moises Velasquez-Manoff for The New York Times.

Raphael Minder and Patrick Kingsley report on the latest from Barcelona. The New York Times

Philip Oltermann covers the fatal stabbing in Turku, Finland. The Guardian

 

Gina Kolata: researchers track an unlikely culprit in weight gain. The New York Times

Samantha Leal looks at warrior women throughout history. Marie Claire

Mandy Oaklander introduces us to the new hope for depression. Time Magazine

Lily Carollo interviews Julie Rehmeyer about the loneliness of having an illness science doesn’t understand. The Science of Us

Why loneliness can be as unhealthy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. CBC

And for balance, and because alone doesn’t have to mean lonely, check out these illustrations by Yaoyao Ma Van As that capture the happiness of living alone. Bored Panda

Trees with “crown shyness” mysteriously avoid touching each other. Kelly Richman-Abdou for My Modern Met.

David Baron: you owe it to yourself to see a full solar eclipse before you die. Ted Talks

 

Hilary Mitchell shares 19 facts about Elizabethan England that will blow your mind. Buzzfeed

Alexa Tanney lists 21 memes you need to send to your coworkers ASAP. Buzzfeed

I hope something got the mental corn popping.

Be well until the weekend.

thoughtythursday2016

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