Just Work Through It

Okay, so that’s not always good advice. It’s often impossible to just work through it—whatever “it” may be. But occasionally, for me, it not only keeps life on track—it actually helps.

These last *mumble mumble* months (years?) have been pretty rough in the brain chemistry department. And as I work with doctors and lifestyle changes to try to sort things out, it can be quite a roller-coaster of non-productivity and keeping-afloat and oh-my-god-I-let-everything-slide-now-I’m-screwed.

I’m trying to get better at remembering that there’s a weird limbo-area where I am most certainly not feeling well, but I can still Get Things Done. And when I lean into that (instead of leaning into the couch, as is my wont), my mental health actually improves. (Marginally, but I’ll take any little bit of improvement.)

It’s not easy to remember that, so this is a very public reminder to myself. At the risk of going all corporate:

Just do it.

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Corporeal Musings

Sometimes when the automatic faucet at work takes an extra moment to turn on, I worry. For that split-second, I wonder if I’ve become insubstantial.

But then, as I’m washing my hands, I’m a little sad. If I was insubstantial, I wouldn’t have to…well…do anything. That sounds really nice these days.

Though I suppose that depends on whether I’m invisible too. If I was visible, I’d probably be able to be useful and productive in some way. (After people stop freaking out and waving their hands through me. I bet that’d get annoying real fast.) If they know I’m there, they’ll probably want me to contribute.

I could still proofread. I’d just need someone to hang out with me and jot down the errors I find.

If I had a voice, I could still podcast. I’d just need someone to set up the mic for me and press Record. Oooh! And I wouldn’t have to worry about bumping my head on the microphone anymore! (That happens more than you might think.)

I’d need to do prep for the podcasts, but with help, I should be able to do that too. Again, someone to press play on Netflix or turn pages in a book. No more videogames, though. I’d have to rely on YouTube playthroughs.

Though now I’m wondering about furniture. Can I still lie on the couch or in bed? Probably not. Which would make sitting next to someone or in front of a mic pretty tough.

Wait. The floor still holds me up for some reason?

Ok. Inconsistent internal logic finally derailed this train of thought. That’s probably just as well. My break is over.


I wrote this at work last week and forgot to post it. Then over the weekend I was in a public restroom, and an automatic sink wouldn’t work for me at all. After my typical “Oh shit, I’m insubstantial!” thought, I switched to a different one, and it worked.

But then

When I was drying my hands, the original sink turned on.

So now I’m pretty sure I’m a time-traveler.

Baseline: No

I suck at turning things down. Things are fun! Especially when those fun things involve fun people. And most of the people I know are fun people. And they do many fun things. Sometimes they invite me to do fun things along with them. I often say yes!

I say yes too much.

I also plan my own fun things. Sometimes too much.

For example, this past weekend was a super-fun thing! Steven and I went to Calgary for a couple of nights and watched the Oilers play the Flames (ok, so the fact that we lost was less-than-fun, but it was fun overall), did some shopping, drove through Alberta’s badlands, and went to the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller to look at dinosaurs. We even took time to watch some Doctor Who and record a podcast. All fun!

But hoo boy, does fun take its toll. Stress is stress whether it’s because of good things or bad things. When I planned that trip, I had no idea how wrecked I’d be at the end of last week. (Answer: Very Wrecked) So my fun weekend was less fun than it would have been and pretty much depleted even my reserve tanks of coherence and energy.

If I do my usual thing over the next couple weeks, those tanks will never refill. I know this, but I rarely act on it. I’m trying to treat myself better these days, so:

Dear world full of fun and interesting people,

No.

No, I will not join you for your fun and interesting thing. (Not unless it can wait a couple of weeks.)

Love,

Me

***

The one exception I did make was to schedule a short recording session for Beginner’s Puck because A) that probably should have been on the calendar anyway, so it’s pseudo-grandfathered in, and B) I have So Much hockey stuff to talk about! I went to an Oilers Game Day Live! And the Oilers game (in Calgary)! And holy buttons, that recent EBUG story! EBUGs are our thing!

So yeah. That’s a reasonable excuse, but for all other items, I’m gonna heed Nancy Reagan and “just say no.”

Change Is A-Comin’

whistles Scorpions’ “Wind of Change”

So I think it’s safe to say that over the last year or two, this space, in conjunction with my Patreon page, hasn’t exactly been a success. My original goal in launching a Patreon was (as I stated in a nifty video I am still rather proud of) to energize and motivate me to write more–to flex the mental muscles of my critical faculties. I think it worked for a while.

Lately, not so much.

I’ve written before about reasons why things have gone more radio silent here, and about some of the personal mental blocks I have about accepting money for blog posts. My life has changed a lot since I started here, so I think it’s okay that this space (and my Patreon) should change with it.

I’m still not sure exactly what form those changes will take, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I like having this as a creative space that’s all my own. I adore all my podcasts and the people I do them with, but they’re joint efforts. It’s neat to have a sandbox in which I can build whatever castles I want.

On the Patreon side, I still like the specific and direct connection that provides to the folks who are kind enough to help support me. And to be very real, after doing taxes this year, the extra dollars are and would be Very Welcome.

One thing I’m sure of is that the reward structure for my Patreon will be changing. I no longer feel the need to do so much critical writing. Those muscles get exercised an awful lot anyway: I spend a ton of time consuming and commenting on media–I just do it in audio form. I get plenty of practice creating polished writing in my day job. And to be frank, the requirement to deliver something specific that my patrons have requested in exchange for their dollars? That’s triggered my anxiety much more than I ever thought it would.

For the moment, I’ve removed the reward levels.* I’ll probably replace them with something that’s easier for me to fulfill–exclusive content most likely. Maybe I’ll think up some fun goals. Not sure yet. I might even move to a monthly donation model rather than charging per-post. If you have thoughts about this, don’t hesitate to let me know! (Comments here, on Patreon, Twitter, etc.)

I’ve become so comfortable and adept at capturing audio, I might start dropping brief ramblings here in mp3 format. Or doing little videos (probably ones that require MUCH less work than that one on my Patreon page). I want this to be a place where I can do a little bit of whatever I feel like, with fewer self-imposed rails.

So if that doesn’t sound like something you’re interested in, this is your notification to un-bookmark this site or cancel your Patreon pledge. I will hold exactly no ill will!

Change can be good and is often necessary. This is definitely the latter, and I hope it’ll be the former as well. Whatever comes, I’m happy to have you along for the ride.

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*I still have some more patron-posts to write, and I am absolutely gonna deliver those. I’ve already started writing notes! Graeme and Donald, yours are on the way! If you’re one of my patrons who never requested anything particular (or I wasn’t able to source what you asked for and let you know that), it’s not too late! Just drop me a line on Patreon and let me know what you’d like!

Dear Self

This post is for me, but I suspect I have a few friends/readers out there who might find it helpful, so I’m sharing it publically. 

Dear Self,

It’s ok to be sick. It’s ok to be anxious. It’s ok to be sad.

And when you’ve been these things for weeks and weeks on end, it’s ok to stop for a little while. Taking a break or a sick day is not an admission of failure. It does not mean you’re weak. It’s doing what is required in order to get through and move forward.

Even when you feel like you could do just one more thing, or go into work for just a few hours (which, let’s face it, will turn into the whole day), it’s still important to stop and rest. If you push yourself and keep going, you’re just borrowing that energy and that productivity from tomorrow or the next day.

Yeah, it sucks, and yeah it feels like you’re letting everyone down, but guess what? You’re not. That’s your dumb brain lying to you. Anyone who cares about you or relies on you in any way doesn’t want you to help them out right now if it’s ultimately not healthy for you.

You’re important, but you’re not that important.

So take a chill pill (literally if you have to) and lie down and read that book you’ve been wanting to read Just For Fun. Watch another episode of a TV show you are not watching for a podcast. If your head stops hurting, go see that movie you’ve been wanting to see for weeks.

Rest. Recharge. Recuperate. Get better.

You deserve it.

Yes, really.  You do.

I’m Still Here…Trying to Help

I’ve been exceedingly quiet here lately for a variety of reasons including busy-ness (in work-life and “real” life) and exhaustion of both the physical kind and the emotional/mental kind. Day-Job work really kicked up a lot a few months back, and at the same time, I’ve been working on finding a medication solution that works for my mental health issues. (I do plan to talk about that more later, but perhaps not until I’ve gotten a bit closer to finding a solution.)

So yeah. Call them reasons or excuses, that’s what’s been up. (And I swear I’m gonna finish off the last few paid posts I have on my to-do list.)

The world is a scary, sad, infuriating, exhausting place these days. It doesn’t seem to be getting better. I’ve been doing what little things I can to push back against the darkness. So I’m here to point out a few things you could do if you have a few dollars/pounds/etc. to spare for some good causes. Some are large, some are small, some are things I’ve given money to, some are causes I wish I had more to spare for.

This is NOT an exhaustive list. This is the drippiest drop in an ocean-sized bucket. Feel free to share more options in the comments.

Call Your Senators!

First of all, I’ve been emailing and/or faxing my Wisconsin senators and representative pretty much every day. I occasionally call when I think I’ll get through to voicemail quickly (international long distance rates are no joke). It’s so easy to speak your mind, and there’s a lot to speak about right now. (Healthcare, anyone?) You can easily be connected with your senator by calling the US Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Save the Dogs of Chernobyl!

Did you know the wild pups near Chernobyl may have radioactive particles in their fur? They can’t even get head-pats! Help those pups here.

Help the Victims of Hurricane María and Irma in Puerto Rico!

The non-profit ConPRmetidos is running this fundraiser. This is one I threw some money at because wow. The catastrophic destruction is simply heartbreaking. There are lots more places you can donate to help with this, just make sure they’re legit before you give them your money or info.

Support Andrew: He’s Running!

My pal Andrew Smith is currently super-close to his fundraising goal. He’s doing a 10k run to support The Lily Foundation, which funds research & raises awareness to support the families affected by mitochondrial disease.

Support Beatrix: She’s Jogging!

In other perambulation news, Trixie (daughter of my Incomparable pals Lisa and Phil) is doing her second jog-a-thon! You can support her and help fund her school’s enrichment programs by making an online donation here. This fam is one of my podcast clan that I’ve met in real life. So I can confirm they exist and are excellent people. And Trixie is the kind of kid who gives me hope for the future. Helping her learn is an investment in the world.

Buy a Book!

Did you know Fireside Fiction has a Hurricane Relief Bookstore? 100% of profits go to hurricane relief and recovery. And you get some amazing fiction to read! What could be better? I will biasedly recommend the issues of Uncanny Magazine, but there’s lots of other great stuff there too. Take a look!

Support Great Fiction!

Book Smugglers is in the midst of a Kickstarter! Want to support great articles, reviews, and fiction for all ages? Sure you do!

More Great Fiction!

Strange Horizons is also having a fundraiser! Supporting art and beauty is always important. Even more so at times like this.

Even More Great Fiction!

We’re closing in on another essay per issue for Uncanny Magazine! We recently featured a series of essays on resistance, which is timely as hell. And then, of course, there’s the fiction and poetry — and a first-rate podcast if-I-do-say-so-myself. #shamelessselfplug


I know there were more I meant to mention, but this has taken pretty much all I’ve got in me today. (I’m home sick, so I’m not even at my usual baseline.) Like I said, this is the tippiest tip of the massive iceberg. Do share more in the comments!

March? Already? And New Things!

Many many things about 2017 thus far have sucked royally. (Not the least of which was last week’s death of a good friend from back in Madison.) But I’m getting through it, in part, by noticing how it’s whipping by. I cannot believe February is almost over.

I’ve also been trying really hard (amid doing my part to #resist) to focus on positives. Positives like my last post about Gally. Positives like my new sous vide cooker. (If you have recipes, do send them my way!) Positives like constant reminders that I live with the best partner anyone could ask for, in a country that (while it does have its problems) has prioritized inclusiveness and care for its residents.

I’m also gathering additional happy things. I’ve started communicating more regularly with some distant friends. The simple act of staying in touch with good, kind, smart, creative, vibrant people has done wonders for my mental health and outlook.

Also, I’m working on an exciting new podcast project! I suspect it won’t appeal to many of the people who already follow my doings, but that’s kinda the point. I’m working on this because it’s something I love and am interested in. The act of working toward creating something new feels like a tiny act of resistance in and of itself. Especially since this will be aimed at a marginalized/under-served audience.

I’ll say no more for now, because I want to wait until things are a little closer to fruition before announcing anything. Consider this a tantalizing teaser. And a recommendation to get out and create something if you’re able. It truly can help.