Pay Attention

Y’all ever try one of those SAD lamps, or lightboxes, or whatever they’re called? I’m curious about them. No particular reason. Apparently the Winnipeg Library has ones for just hanging out by and reading. Apparently, the Winnipeg Library actually has a lot of cool stuff now, like, maker spaces and a recording studio??? Also books, nice.

I’ve been slowly continuing to read The Mindful Way Through Depression and one of the challenges it issues to the reader is to pick a mundane, everyday activity and spend a week trying to be as present for it as possible. Not like, hyperfocus or whatever, but just try to be aware of the actions, sights, smells, your breathing, your body posture, all those things. Take it all in with gentle curiosity and interest. Pretend you are visiting Earth and doing these things for the first time, if it helps. And then, each week, add a new thing. Oh, and here’s the thing: don’t try to “force” yourself to do things, or chastise yourself for “failing” at the exercise, either. That’s a sure way to frustration.

So, here is what I’ve tried so far:

  1. Brushing my Teeth. This one seemed easy and relatively short, and yet it still takes practice and attention. One thing I did realize pretty quickly is that I wander all over the house while I do it, looking at other things, and I waste a lot of time because I can’t remember if I already brushed certain teeth or not. So making myself stand still, consciously picking a place to start in my mouth, and then carefully ensuring that I brush each area of my teeth has been good. Despite this, I forget myself all the time and fall back to old habits.
  2. Showering. A hot shower is wonderful, but I’m rarely there for it, at least mentally. The shower is where I get a lot of arguing done, OR a lot of explaining things. As in, I picture somebody asking me “what’s a Metroidvania” for instance, and then I go on a big thing of how I would break the concept down to this imaginary person. Similar to toothbrushing, it’s taken a conscious and systematic effort to fight this impulse. And again, I forget myself and fall back on old habits all the time.
  3. Driving. Possibly the scariest thing, and I feel I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, is that around here we’re often piloting big fast hunks of metal and barely present for any of it. This is one where I make sure that I’m conscious of my breathing and body posture, how my hands feel on the steering wheel, trying to notice things in my field of vision. I haven’t decided if music helps or not. On the one hand I think that listening to the intricacies of a song helps me get away from More Arguments In My Head, but on the other hand I can definitely get too wrapped up in the song. As with the first two, I forget myself, and fall back on old habits all the time.
  4. Cat Stuff. This encompasses the daily cat things that must be done such as give the cat a food, and a water, and empty the litter tray. This is my most recent one and it’s tough because it’s pretty boring. I haven’t been trying this one for very long. I’m not really sure what to hone in on yet…maybe things like the sounds that I’m generating, like food pouring into a bowl, I don’t know.

Thing I Saw: A big black truck parked by the mall, covered in aggressive slogans. I assume they were custom-made stickers because they were the same colour and had a similar design style. I’m also boggled because I don’t at all understand the person who has made these choices. The first one to catch my eye said something about “I may not get 60 mpg, BUT I GET LAID” as if those were mutually exclusive? The only other ones I remember said “Locally Hated” (this…is a point of pride???) and plugged the guy’s Instagram, which is actually set to Private, so why even the heck put it on there.

I read recently that if you really can’t understand people’s actions, (and especially if you’re inclined to judge their choices negatively,) there’s probably some crucial piece of context that you’re just missing. People make choices for reasons and I’m just saying I’m very curious about those reasons in this case.

Thing I Learned: All kinds of things from Quite Interesting‘s twitter feed, which is here and worth following.

I’m Grateful For: Cheaply available vitamin C because it is Cold and Dang Flu Season y’all

Yukon Blonde is the Sloaniest band I’ve found since Sloan, and I mean that in a good way

Gonna Be OK

Psalm 2 thoughts, because I promised last time, and I try to be a person that keeps their word.

Why are the nations so angry?
    Why do they waste their time with futile plans?
The kings of the earth prepare for battle;
    the rulers plot together
against the Lord
    and against his anointed one.
“Let us break their chains,” they cry,
    “and free ourselves from slavery to God.”
But the one who rules in heaven laughs.
    The Lord scoffs at them.

Psalm 2:1-5 (New Living Translation)

Right, so, two things that jumped out at me, real quick and then we’ll go on to something else. Maybe.

Thing the first is that the first three verses are remarkably relevant in our times as well. I try to take comfort in the fact that even though Modern Times seem suspiciously angry and difficult, the world has been this way since more or less forever.

Thing the second is the image of God laughing, which, I mean, I’m not a scholar and haven’t done the research?? But I don’t think this is an image you get very often. I like it. Even if the laughter in this case is At Us rather than With Us, I like the image of God laughing and it’s absolutely not a stretch to think He laughs With Us, too.

Work has been very stressful for my co-workers lately, but not so much for me, and that feels odd. Without going into too much detail, a very large and powerful contractor has been giving us an unusual amount of friction on a job we’re doing for them, and since we want to keep getting work from them we’re trying to play along. What it means is that our project manager and logistics guys are running around making calls and putting out fires, but none of what they’re dealing with really means anything extra for me? I want to be a team player and be stressed with them, but also, why would I want that, so. I sit in my office and do my duties as usual.

I hope they’re taking care of themselves. Every time I try to offer advice for maintaining calm and positivity I feel like the office hippy, out of touch with what’s really happening. Also my beard is a lil’ bit bushier than normal and that’s not helping. (I’m going to trim it back soon.)

Thing I Saw:

Thing I Learned: Alien Isolation is coming to Xbox Game Pass shortly. I love the Alien and Aliens films and have always been curious about this game, but since I am extremely frightened by scary games I didn’t think want to pay a lot of money for it in case I didn’t finish. Now I don’t have to!

I’m Grateful For: A bit of calm in the storms around me!

Never seen this video before!

Not Guilty

In my last counselling session, George and I were talking about job things and he suggested that I was “obsessed” with my work. I balked at this term — I’m no workaholic! “Obsession” is the term you use for people who can’t stay away from their jobs and work 16-hour days. I work a normal 8:30 to 5, and I prefer not to think about work at all when I’m not there. That was one of the issues I really ran into when I was studying to become a teacher; the inability to leave my work at work.

But the more we talked, the more I began to realize, to my horror, that he was right.

Obsessed, by definition, means:

preoccupy or fill the mind of (someone) continually, intrusively, and to a troubling extent.

Source — Google’s “Define:” feature lol

As we talked I realized; work obsession isn’t just about being “on” and “working hard” all the time, it’s about having work or your job on your mind all the time. And mine, honestly, is. I worry about situations beyond my control, I keep an eye on my calendar to mentally prepare myself for tasks that need doing that week, I keep my phone on and myself available on evenings and weekends — even when we go away on trips I make sure to have access to my work PC for anything that crops up. I don’t want to think about work! I don’t love my job so much that I want to spend this mental energy on it. But I do.

And so! I’m writing this from a local coffee shop, because George challenged me to take one Personal Day a month. A day where I disconnect entirely from work things and only do what I choose to do. At first I readily agreed. That sounded great. Why wouldn’t I want that? But the execution has been amazingly challenging, so I wanted to get it down while it’s fresh, and then I’m going to play Super Metroid on my laptop.

First, trying to figure out what to do with a day to myself was such a big question that my brain revolted and tried to make me give up on the idea entirely. Do I stay home? Do I go out? Go to Winnipeg? Take people with me? Go alone? What do I do when I’m in a place? I was barraging myself with too many questions and feeling anxious that I didn’t know what I wanted!

Then came the guilt of trying to disconnect, of taking something just for me, and potentially creating inconvenience for others. Or I tried to tell myself I hadn’t earned the privilege — you have it so good, and other people don’t, how dare you. Again, a part of me wanted to just say forget it, you don’t need it that much, put it off, put it off.

Talking it over with Lori I became amazed, while saying my thoughts out loud, at just how much I was resisting the idea of taking one day out of a month. 12 out of 365. I’m genuinely feeling a little tense and anxious as I write this down (and taking frequent small breaks to breathe and look out the window).

But ultimately I was able to make some decisions about what sounded nice, and here I am today. But the thing I realized while planning, and the thing I’ve got to remember today — and already told myself a few times, when the day has gone differently than I’d imagined — Perfect is the enemy of Good. I do not need to strive to have a “perfect” day of rest and relaxation. If an activity is not working out I can stop and do something else. My entire sense of health and well-being does not depend on this one day going to “plan”. Okay? Okay.

Next post I want to talk about Psalm 2. This has gone on entirely too long already.

Thing I Saw: A small flock of birds, silhouetted against the morning sun, and flying away from a nearby apartment building.

Thing I Learned: Taking a day off is hard work, but worthwhile I hope.

I’m Grateful For: The freedom of movement and financial security that my job affords me.

Better in Concept

After getting it as part of a bundle and letting it languish in my gaming backlog for a long time, I’ve finally gotten around to playing Human Resource Machine. This game asks you to to do a series of mathy tasks by giving instructions to a lil’ office worker. The instructions and ordering are similar to the way you would program a simple computer, and so I’m solving these puzzles and thinking “This is pretty fun! Programming is just a bunch of logic puzzles, and I like those, so…maybe I really would like programming??”

To that end I’d actually started poking around online courses or languages to try while I’m between books to illustrate. But over the weekend I was discussing this urge with my brother and realized — I have no projects in mind whatsoever. No goal or real-world problem to work on. So…maybe for now I can just stick with solving fun puzzles. I think I still like the idea of programming computers more than actually doing it.

And once I’ve finished HRM I can always go back to TIS-100.

Thing I Saw: My daughter has recently gotten into “ballet” dancing (thanks in large part to Emma Wiggle), which mainly involves standing on the spot, turning around, and sort of waving your hands in the air. It is amazing.

Thing I Learned: According to this highly scientific quiz, my spiritual gifts are, in order: Giving, Mercy, Exhortation, Hospitality and Helps (which is basically supporting ministries / working as a team).

I’m Grateful For: A reasonably healthy body!

No particular reason, just heard something that reminded me of this


Hey spambots who comment on this blog, are you actually reading the entries? I’d love to hear from you. Hit me up with more comments and make sure it includes incredibly sketchy links to online pharmacies.

For the past few months I’ve been using my afternoons at work to do illustrations for a Low German textbook being developed in Bolivia, but as of yesterday I actually got caught up and I’m feeling a little…bereft or purpose today. I’m sure I’ll get the next Word doc soon but it’s been a pretty quiet afternoon. Of course, as with any job there are lots of little busywork tasks that have been sitting on my list forever, so probably it’s time to tackle those.

One of the pictures I done, of a family farming potatoes.

Last year sometime I bought a Roxio Game Capture HD device, with the hope of upping my capture quality for older games. I was confused about getting it to work and it wasn’t friendly to older consoles, so I tried to return it. Roxio basically said “eh, here’s your money back, keep it” and I’ve been sitting on it since then.

But! This week I decided to try again with a PS3 and a copy of Lost: Via Domus that I’ve also been sitting on since last year, and hey presto, it’s working! The game seems to be the perfect amount of Not Very Good that makes for a fun LP, and I’m excited to be working on something new in that department. Please look forward to it!

Another picture I done. The instructions just said “dog” and my brain almost immediately runs to “corgi”

Thing I Saw: Mountains of snow, everywhere. We usually experience Winter in all it’s Winteryness, with cold and snow and everything, but this Winter has been Particularly Wintery and as a result there’s actual blind corners in an otherwise flat town because snow’s just piled up all over. Hey Winter, you can pump the brakes now, ease off a lil

Thing I Learned: From this Reddit thread on “obvious but obscure information” I learned that blind people wear glasses because they can like, still get eye damage and diseases and such. I mean, of course. I’d just never thought about it???

I’m Grateful For: A project that excites me!

AcousticTrench is very good, but their dog Maple is even better