Jumping the Chasm 4/1/2015

We come to crossroads in our lives where we need to decide between passion or comfort, creativity or security, as if these dualities are mutually exclusive. A fortune received years ago states, “Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.” (David Lloyd George). I have taken that step.

When I was in college I studied literature and writing. Watergate had just passed and the book and movie “All the President’s Men” were natural inspirations to enter the field of journalism. Back then I was pretty naïve, growing up in my protective suburban cocoon and going to school at a Lutheran college. As I seriously considered journalism, I had a reality check. Journalism was not pretty like Redford and Hoffman made it look, but very much followed the practice of “if it bleeds, it leads.” This did not sit well with my heart and soul. I compromised by writing articles for the local paper reviewing community theatre and other non-controversial events.

In those early years I had the opportunity to work for a newspaper as a paid employee. At the same time I had a job offer from an insurance company. The writing position followed my college education, but my heart doubted the value and ethics of the field. The insurance company provided a nice salary for a new graduate, along with security and health insurance. Guess which one I chose.

If there are multiple time lines in the universe, one version of me went shooting off in the direction of writing on a regular basis, having a by-line, expressing my opinion, taking me to who knows where. The other version had a cubicle, in-box and out-box and a steady paycheck. For my adult life, these two time lines criss-crossed my consciousness, presenting me with the choice of passion vs. comfort, creativity vs. security.

However, a third timeline for me has arisen from the ethers and I am embracing this new version of myself. It ignores the duality and points me towards a horizon which may very well have dragons on the other side. Not everyone will be pleased. From the headlines it seems impossible to please everyone anyway. But the other scripts of my life have been tossed aside. I have a new one in hand, incomplete, which I am writing on each day. I don’t know the ending; I barely know what will happen in the next paragraph. I am making it up as I go. Stay tuned.

Yoga and the Flexible Lightworker

Went to my first ever yoga class this morning. If there is a category before “Beginner” that is me. I arrived early, somewhat stressed by the anticipation of a new thing to try. Judy Marlene Coughlin guided me through the routines using modified moves. She told me she has been teaching yoga to beginners for 20 years. (Not the same beginners, over and over, however!) This was an opportunity to discover what my body can and cannot do. I hope over time to be more flexible, and not only in adjusting my schedule. LOL.

As a person who calls myself a “Lightworker,” I have been learning what we should be doing while here on earth. We may feel we have a contract or mission to fulfill. We do not. It is enough that we are here living a positive life, i.e. “holding the light.” But we have a responsibility to take care of bodies so we can be strong in the world. We are a spirit here in a third dimensional body, but we can’t spend our days in meditation.

I am taking this to heart and going to make healthier choices going forward. I am planning to be around a long time so I need this shell to stay in shape. And I mean I need it to get in shape, then stay in shape. Being spiritual is not just about the intellect, spirit, emotions, but also about the physical.

Thanks Judy, for the great experience today. See you next week.

Roleplaying Life

Found a guide to Role Playing Games and realized it could serve as a kind of analogy for life. Role players may like this. I have summarized the first section here and attached the whole document.

Why Try?

Players are a dime-a-dozen commodity, so if you want to be invited (and re-invited) to games, you have to make sure that you’re not one of the common rabble.

Forget Winning

You’re winning if you’re playing your character to the best of your ability, even if that means putting him in situations where he might be killed.

Have Fun

There’s no shame in leaving a gaming group that doesn’t fit your style of play. By stubbornly sticking around, hoping that it will change or because (how many times have you heard this one, or said it?) “it’s the only game around”, you only make yourself, and possibly the GM and other players, miserable.

Take it Easy

Whether you lose a character to death, capture (Uncle Figgy has seen players who would rather their characters die than be taken captive), injury, disease or GM control, always remain positive and remember that (for death) you can always start again or (for capture or other) there might be a way out.

This also means that you shouldn’t get upset with the other players, either.

Pay Attention

Paying attention means staying focused on the game, the GM and the other players. If you don’t, and you miss something important, that’s your tough luck; the GM is perfectly within his rights to refuse to repeat himself at any time.

Cheating: Why Bother?

But cheating can breed resentment among players and can even get you thrown out of some games. You wouldn’t want the GM to cheat against you, don’t cheat against the GM.

http://arkanabar.tripod.com/rpguide.html

“Chestnuts roasting on an …buffering… ”

12-18-2014

In the news is the issue of ending Net Neutrality. If this goes away, those who control your access to the internet can control the speed at which you receive it. If you want it faster, you may have to pay more. You might be experiencing a taste of this right now, if you are online doing your holiday shopping. How do you like the wait times? I read that before you get too serious with someone you should see how he reacts when his internet is slow.

I dealt with a slow internet this fall and discovered I am not as calm and cool-headed as I would like to be. I don’t know if I could go back to the days of dial-up. I was certainly more patient – I could do my nails while a page loaded. Now I have to go to a salon.

My provider seemed to be going slower and slower this year. Tests showed the signal was less than 1 mbps. The repair person who came out tried many things – rewiring where the router plugged in, checking the lines outside, testing the signal sent from the main service center. No luck. I surrendered and changed to one of the biggest media providers in the country, at a cost. I felt like I was selling my soul, but I am now at over 10 mbps. I have a steady signal, but lost a little of my self-respect.

If Net Neutrality is no longer guaranteed, my frustration with finding and maintaining a good signal will be more common. We will discover which websites are paying for faster signals, which are not, and who will be passing the costs on to us.

How did our tolerance change from our patience with dial-up to frustration over a few seconds of buffering? Should this change in expectation cause us to willingly pay more for instant results? What if we refused? What if we decided it was more important to read a real book, visit friends in person, work on a project or go for a walk? I know! Crazy thoughts!

Writing Coach 10-30-2014

I recently changed what I call myself to being a Writing Coach.
I already do editing from substantive to copyediting. I can do proofreading as well, though I rarely see a document in that stage.

But I am also a certified life coach. I found I was using my coaching skills when working with my clients. A mentor suggested the name change.

Since I announced this change I am getting a lot of interest. “Oh! You are a writing coach! I just started working on a book and really need to talk to someone about it!” Or “I write blogs but don’t get any comments from my readers. Can you look at my work and give me advice?”

I can work with writers just starting out on a project who need clarity, someone to listen to their ideas and offer them feedback. I can work with writers who are dealing with a block. We can find out why and work through it together.

A good example is how I have always revised resumes. My process is to do a 30-60 minute call with the client to ask about her goals and values. I listen to the words she uses and hear when there is passion in her voice. As I find out more about her besides the draft she attached to her email, I get a clearer idea how to make the resume better reflect who she is and what she can do.

I like that this title of Writing Coach combines my abilities and allows me to go beyond the technical side of editing, and see into the hearts and souls of my clients.

“Hiring a writing coach is cheaper than never living your dream as a writer!”

No Regrets 10-8-2014

“There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.”

T.S. Eliot, “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock”

It seems the overriding theme of my life at this time is, in fact, time. Time travel, time lords, being on time, needing more time, passing time, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme…

I am like a mad snowball rushing down a hill, gathering speed and knowledge and emotions. I don’t know where it will end. I do know that I no longer use “patience” as my first option. For better or worse, if I see something to be done, moved, fixed, tossed, bought, loved, disliked or wanted, it must happen now. I walk around in a perpetual state of Veruca Salt-ness, from Willy Wonka fame, because I want it all NOW: the golden egg, the golden ticket, the golden moments in time.

What is it like, to live like that? Why can’t I just “be calm and carry on”? My life is a giant pinball game. The ball is dinging off of one metal pad, bouncing to another, then another. Each ding is a task, a wish, a hope, a meeting, a decision. And I only have time while that silver ball is in play. This machine does not have the option of three balls for a quarter. And sometimes the machine needs to be gunched. Sometimes in the urgency I risk tilting.

I know the ball will eventually drop down the chute. The lights will flash and a final score will be shown.

I want to shake the world and say, this and this and this must happen now! And not happen out of greed, but out of the realization that time on this earth is short. There is no time for inconvenient patience. People are dropping like flies, from diseases, violence, accidents. Balls are dropping down chutes right and left.

I want my lights to flash now, while the ball is in play, and have my end score flash brightly “no regrets”!

That Certain Slant of Light 8-18-2014

Because I grew up and lived post of my life within the same few zip codes, I notice changes in seasons on my own terms. It is not by changes in the snow on any mountains, or the migrations of any particular animal. I am not speaking of anything obvious, like Target has its school supplies out, or there is a cardboard bin of pumpkins outside the Cub foods. I notice at this time, the light coming through the window in the morning is a greenish gray. This sun has not fully risen above the horizon, but you know it is coming. The sky almost looks it will be a rainy day. But I know to wait.

This is State Fair weather. It was a day like this that we used to ride in the station wagon across town, which seemed so far away then. The sun would be up when we parked in a lot, and we’d enter through the three prong gate, walk over the wooden bridge to the other side of the busy street. We would arrive at the Hippodrome. I know it is called something else now. Doesn’t matter. It is the Hippodrome.

We would walk through the animal barns, looking at the sheep, pigs, cows, chickens. I had no judgment of what I saw. They were animals I never saw up close in the suburbs. If I was lucky it was the day the rabbits were there. Rows of bunnies.

In those years we never stopped for food from the vendors except for a shake and a cheese sandwich in the Dairy Building. We walked through the building with the forest animals and saw the fish pond. It is the Department of Natural Resources building. I just looked it up.

I never saw the Midway rides until I was a teenager and could go to the fair on my own with friends. As a child we steered clear of the area and if I asked I was told it was construction. I was not the brightest kid.

We went on the Old Mill ride. I liked the coolness of the dark building after being out in the hot August sun for hours. I loved being splashed by the water lapping over the side of the boat. There were be little displays of elves and fantasy characters as the boat followed its path. I had already been to Disneyland by this time so I wondered why they did not move or sing like the ”It’s A Small World” ride.

We walked through the Creative Activities building and looked at quilts and other crafts. Sometimes my Mom had an item entered. I do not know if she ever won a ribbon. I did not see one as we cleared out her things after her passing. Perhaps my sister knows.

We might listen to music at the Bandshell. I liked seeing the large animal statue on that corner, though I never knew it was a gopher or why it wore a jacket, hat and carried a cane. We never went up on the Space Needle. We did not take the Skyride across the grounds. We sometimes caught the parade.

I remember Machinery Hill. I really tried hard to like this area. It had lots of big metal toys in bright colors. I did not understand what they did, or why they did not have easy steps to climb, swings or slides. I was glad to be out of that area.

Because we had arrived by 8:30 in the morning, shortly after lunch we were ready to leave. We walked back across the grounds, over the wooden bridge again, through a scary metal gate that looked like it could slice you into 20 pieces, and made it back to the car, ready for the drive home.

This was my state fair experience for the first 10 or 12 years of my life. These days I wonder why I bother going. Perhaps it is just to stir the memories in my heart, and to know that the summer has had proper closure when one has gone to the fair.

Lost Hardware and Special Level of Hell 8-1-2014

Where do screws and hinges go when one is painting or staining furniture? No matter how hard I try to keep these bits together, something always vanishes. It goes to the same place the nail goes when dropped while hanging a picture.It is where all the “good” pens go, while pens that no longer write replace them on one’s desk, counter or purse. It must be close to where lost socks go when put in the dryer. They find the portal to this circle.

Another enigma are the plastic packets of extra buttons one receives with sweaters and shirts. Can they finally be thrown out? Do they have an expiration date? “If not used by such and such a date, throw out.” Are they recyclable? Is there a village waiting for buttons like others wait for donated eye glass frames?

Do these things keep anyone else up at night?

If they do, snap out of it. There are bigger issues in need of tending.

More Things than in Your Books – and Movies! 7-5-2014

“Why do we believe in ghosts?” was the title of a panel discussion tonight at the science fiction convention Convergence. My friend knew I had an interest in the topic and suggested we attend.
It was immediately apparent this was to be no discussion. As the panelists introduced themselves it was clear most were complete skeptics, though one admitted to writing about ghosts in her novels. They stated that ghosts were due to wishful thinking and the missing of our loved ones who were dead. Any research, or “ghost hunting,” was misguided. All readings taken on equipment could be attributed to non-paranormal reasons.
Two minutes in, my friend had enough of the “discussion” and wanted to leave. She grew up in a haunted house and had no “wishful thinking” about seeing the ghost of the suicide that occurred in her garage decades before. I had a few buttons pushed and was curious how far they would take their skepticism. But we left.
I have noticed that many people who are interested in science fiction and fantasy, who read about dragons and magical powers, of wizards and witches, will shut down if one suggests anything paranormal actually exists.
How can one read books or see movies with story lines as big as the universe, in which we are admonished to “use the force” yet not believe in any actual universal energy, or multidimensional existence?
I am both a science fiction fan and a paranormal “fan” if that word can be used. I know a handful of others who are with me on this and can embrace both worlds.
More and more, I realize the broad universe of science fiction and fantasy is actually too limiting for me. It lacks one vital step, across a chasm, perhaps, of believing that some of what is imagined could be true.

Sky High Thoughts 6-16-2014

Weed, CA is in a beautiful location. Views of Mount Shasta are picture postcard perfect from everywhere, no matter how mundane the place. I drove through McDonald’s to emerge at the end faced by a breathtaking view.
But alas Weed is a poor community. I asked the clerk in one of the souvenir shops about the town. He tried to think of large employers and got stuck after naming 3. He said most of the town is on assistance. Houses are run down, storefronts are closed. He said they only do well when there are tourists. My conference this weekend brought cash into the town, but the clerk says these events don’t happy frequently.
I noticed the main traffic is from long haul trucks, parked along every street at the end of town where I stayed. These are the trucks with the sleeping cabs, so they are not staying at hotels. They are getting food at the Burger King, McDonald’s and Taco Bell, the triangle of poor nutrition around my hotel. I did not see a grocery store, movie theatre, postings for community events. One medical facility and nursing home. One cemetary. No pet store or vet.
I don’t need to be a mall rat, but I am spoiled by having all my needs met in a five minute drive to Target or Menards. The hotel desk clerk said they have to go 80 miles north or south to find a mall. I passed a Walmart in Yreka, which is not helping matters.
Mountain or not, I don’t think I could live here. I guess I am too worldly. I recommend visiting Northern California, one day. I will be back. And frankly, there is a view of the Minneapolis skyline coming north on 35W that can take my breath away, almost as much as a mountain.