Words in My Head

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Tag: writing

Staying Positive in a Whirlwind

Mid-life crisis or not, it doesn’t change the fact that my life is caught in a perpetual whirlwind of commitments. School events. Soccer. Street Petz. Work. Crossfit. And then I get whatever’s left, though there usually isn’t much left.

So how do I stay positive and cheerful in the midst of the howling tornado raging around me? Damn good question.

Here’s a few things I’m working on and a few others I want to do more frequently.

Gratitude. I’m working on getting a bit of gratitude practice into every day. Some days it works. Some days it doesn’t. Some days I forget. But focusing on the things that go right rather than the ones that don’t definitely helps a bit change the narrative from “today was a shitty day” to “this happened and it was a good thing.” A subtle shift, but an important one.

Endorphins. Honestly I think without the endorphins released during Crossfit workouts I’d be in a lot worse shape than I already am — literally and figuratively. I can tell on the days I don’t work out that something is missing. Pushing myself physically releases a great natural high that I have come to enjoy and depend on for a boost during my day. I just wish my body (and schedule) could handle working out daily vs. the 3-5 workouts I fit in already.

And yes, I’m aware that sounds a bit like an addiction. But isn’t a healthy addiction preferable to other ways to get a high?

Escape. I love reading a good book — especially what I term “bubblegum” fiction. Those are the stories that are just fun to read and don’t require a ton of extra thought to comprehend. I enjoy media in that same way, preferring stuff that entertains me and gives me that escape. Unfortunately I watch far too much TV (it’s an easy trap) and catch far too few movies (more difficult to squeak into the schedule). And I don’t spend enough time enjoying good music the way I used to.

Perhaps it’s time to adjust media consumption a bit more.

Creativity. Writing. Yes, you knew that had to come in here. I need to do more. Some is personal, like this drivel. 🙂 Other bits are for games I’m working on. And I’d really like to get back to trying some fiction. I’m awful at it, but it only gets better with practice.

Same with drawing. At some point in my childhood I decided I was a crap artist and just… stopped. I want to start again to entertain that part of my soul again.

Music. That would also be good. My guitar is collecting dust. I thought by leaving it beside my desk it would get more use… Nope. Time to clean it up and warble along slightly out of tune again.

And games. Damn I forgot how much fun it is to play a role-playing game on a regular basis and guide the story. Doesn’t mean I know where it’s going to end up. This is collaborative storytelling, folks… A group of people enjoying a shared tale and seeing where it goes. Never tried it?  You should! Even crazy things like Cards Against Humanity can really liven up an evening and raise the laughter levels.

Do you notice how a lot of these activities are solo? That’s the introvert in me and why I’m so thankful for the ones that aren’t. When I lived alone, I spent a lot of my time lonely. Now I’m hardly ever lonely because I have a family and friends. But crossfit and gaming are not solo activities and have pulled me out of that realm. Sharing some of these other things may do the same.

So how do YOU stay positive and cheerful in the maelstrom of your lives? Curious people want to know (read: me!). Leave comments!

Role-playing Games as an Adult

A few words ahead of this article. This didn’t start out as a blog post. It started as a Facebook update and grew to the point where there was no way it was just a status any longer. So here it goes.

Wendelyn Reishcl, who I was recently introduced to via e-mail by Alan Bahr, wrote a great article at Gnome Stew today about the impact that role-playing has had on her own life. A great article. And the more I thought about it, the more I knew I needed to write a bit of a response.

You can find her article here. I’ll wait if you want to go check it out…

Back already? Cool.

I know that a lot of people look at me askew when I tell them I play role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons or better yet when I tell them I write for such games as an adult. Why not just ditch the kid stuff and grow up already? The judgment in some folks’ eyes is harsh at times, but I’ve learned to deal with it.

I’ve been playing some form of role-playing games since I was 12. That’s 35 years, folks. Nearing four decades. And in every single decade, it’s made a difference in my life.

Wendelyn​ writes about how playing a role-playing game has helped her cope with the loss of a parent. I can’t pretend to know what that’s like. Someday it’ll happen and I won’t be ready when it does, but hopefully I can work through it.

Even so, I do see my role-playing sessions as a way of embracing several tasks at once.

  1. My primary task for many things is having fun. We all need more fun in our lives. At every game session, I usually am throwing awful jokes and puns around, if not just doing simply goofy things in the name of “character development.” And that shared camaraderie at the table, even among strangers, is a powerful motivator. I’m not the most social person in the world, but there’s something about cracking a joke and sharing a laugh after making a cool move, an awful die roll, or a poor decision that never gets old.
  2. Second, I’m always on a quest for a good story. Anybody who knows me knows I read a lot when I can, usually for enjoyment. It’s an escape. A way of dropping away from the world for a bit and exploring another landscape in my mind. But it’s a solitary venture. Tabletop role-playing takes that element of story and makes it a shared experience. When I play at the game table, I never know exactly where the story is going to take us because of that human element — and that spirit of discovery creates a spark that rekindles my creativity.
  3. Third, exploration of sometimes complex or controversial topics in a safe environment. This is a biggie, especially when role-playing with my kids. The idea that the game table is a safe space and you can get crazy and try different things (within reason) is very, very important to me. And as an adult — especially as a game master running a game, I often use these stories to explore ideas bigger than myself. The themes of inclusion and exclusion often come into play. Hard moral choices. Challenging decisions with no clear winner or loser. Sure, the games are about fun, but they’re also about exploring the edges of the human condition so we can empathize with others in a more meaningful way.

So… Having fun and telling stories, with sometimes complex themes, in a safe environment with empathetic folks. Doesn’t sound like an awful time, does it?

I can’t think of a time at a game table where I haven’t successfully hit at least one of those three points, but it’s rare to hit all of them in a single session. Doesn’t mean I don’t aim for that. 🙂

Other people choose other ways to enhance their lives and escape for a bit. We’re encouraged to find our bliss, right? Well, this is mine.

 

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