That Pesky Domino Effect

The brain is an interesting thing.

Particularly how it ties into willpower and how willpower ties into decision making and how tripping up once with your willpower and choosing the “wrong” thing can easily create a domino effect.

That pesky domino effect.

Last week, I ran twice when really, I had the opportunity to run five times (maybe even six). Yet a lot of the time, I chose to sleep in instead of getting up to go run. And though I was tired, I never really woke up fully rested, instead usually just berating myself for choosing to waste another morning. And then the rest of the day, I’d be slightly irritated–even if it was just in the back of my mind–for not running in the morning, which threw off my entire groove.

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Oh c’mon, you knew this was coming.

It tied into my eating, as well. Since I already messed up one thing tied into my goal of shaping the body I want and living a healthier lifestyle, i.e., running, I let myself slide with all the other aspects of that goal. For example, eating that snack when I wasn’t hungry or splurging on that meal even though I knew it was going to mess me up. And sure, those aren’t necessarily bad things, but they stack up. Especially when this line of thinking repeats multiple times over the week and you’re trying to hit your calorie goal and consistently go over, yet you’re not fighting it by running.

Today is weigh day and I’m absolutely dreading to see how much I gained. Sure, it’s not going to be 10 pounds or any such nonsense, but it will probably be a couple pounds back instead of that losing-one-pound-a-week progress I’ve been making. And that’s going to bum me out. Nothing that I can’t conquer, by any means, but it makes me to just go back and reflect on what caused all this in the first place; the same thing causing me to feel so guilty about it currently, a guilt that’s been carried around all week, weighing more than whatever number pops up on that scale.

That pesky domino effect.

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It’s crazy to me how, if I oversleep or choose sleep instead of running, suddenly my entire day is thrown off. Suddenly the habits I’ve instilled, like logging food or eating good, filling, healthy meals, go by the wayside; how easily, if I miss one day, suddenly the next day, the temptation to choose sleep over the goals I’m working towards becomes even more appealing. Then you blink and your entire week has been messed up. It’s even crazier when I know, every time I choose to sleep (or play video games or what have you) instead of start my day off with a run, that I’m going to beat myself up for it and I know it’s going to take that much more willpower to get back on track.

I know this, but I still fall into this trap anyway, tipping over that first domino and then waiting to see if the rest of them fall.

So yeah, last week sucked. Worse, it’s been eating me up since last Monday, that first day I skipped a run. And I don’t like it, especially because the only thing causing that is me and the choices I made. I’m excited for the chance to get back on track this week and do better. I’m nervous–but excited–to see how far I’ve set myself back and then begin taking the steps forward again to get back on track.

Granted, I also have to admit that I’m beating myself up a little too much for one lazy week. I’m not above taking a lazy day here and there, because I honestly think that’s needed to recharge and be happy in general. But when I’m being so lazy that it’s one of the only things I think about and I’m constantly regretting as it happens? Yeah, not so much a fan of that.

So here’s to new weeks and fresh starts and being forgiving, while also chasing your goals.

Cheers.

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Quest for Happiness: Week Thirty Seven

Fitness:

  • Long-term Goal: Shape the body I want and become healthier.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Workout 4x and log food. Keep up new stretching/toning routine.
    • Status: Negative. I worked out twice and logged my food mostly, but I definitely ate horribly last week and completely failed at keeping up the new stretching/toning routine. Tied at the top for my main focus this week (with writing).
  • This Week’s Goal: Workout 4x, log food and try out new schedule/routine.

Writing:

  • Long-term Goal: Edit all previously written works. Query one.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Recreate writing routine, figure out plot holes and learn about my main character.
    • Status: Negative. 
  • This Week’s Goal: Try out new writing schedule, fix at least one plot hole, map out main character and research one thing.

Reading:

  • Long-term Goal: Read 60 books.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Finish Red Seas Under Red Skies.
    • Status: Negative. 
  • This Week’s GoalActually finish this dang book. 

Relaxation:

  • Long-term Goal: Create and maintain a mindset that taking care of yourself is just as important as everything else.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Play some Strikes with my Clan.
    • Status: Success! We even did a compete Crucible match which was actually really fun (and I even finished second on the list in terms of efficiency and number of kills, which is…unheard of).
  • This Week’s Goal: Have fun at the Blues Game!

Blogging:

  • Long-term Goal: Increase output over all three blogs, i.e., post more consistently.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Two posts on each blog.
    • Status: Success! Even wrote a bonus third one of the personal blog.
  • This Week’s Goal: Keep up blogging routine.

Financial:

  • Long-term Goal: Manage money with more awareness, start retirement fund and build savings.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Pay bills for next month and stay frugal.
    • Status: Success! 
  • This Week’s Goal: Pay rent.

Not the best week, yet not the worst week, either. I did have a massive To-Do list last week and was impressed that I managed to almost cross everything off of it–with the notable exception of working out and writing. So while I can’t really label last week as a bust, I’m definitely very conscious (perhaps over conscious) of those two missing elements from my life and I need them to be present this week.

So…

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Cheers.


My Life Can Be Told By The Awkward Yeti

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First off, I love The Awkward Yeti web comic. It’s fantastic and never fails to be absolutely relateable to my life.

This picture popped up on my newsfeed the other day and felt particularly apt.

I’ve written about it before, how my overthinking and anxiety causes me to focus on the negative instead of the positive (even though I usually have a glass-is-overflowing kind of mindset); how I’ll come up with the worse possible outcome and immediately assume that’s how the situation is going to end; how my brain will hone in on that one bad thing and completely miss all the good things that are just as important and obvious, yet completely overshadowed.

Obviously, those struggles are captured perfectly in the comic above.

It’s particularly apt because this past week, I’ve had a bit of a weird week. It’s been a mix of having days where I felt completely on top of everything and days where I was as lazy as the definition allows and felt worthless. It was a mix of feeling, oddly, at peace with how lucky I am in my life; how there are so many good aspects and elements within it that makes it hard to complain about anything at all; juxtaposed with feeling those familiar desires to overthink and lose it to stress hinting at the edges of my consciousness, desperate for that microscopic focus and attention that blurs out anything else. It’s been a mix of feeling totally content and utterly scared.

And then I saw that comic.

A needed reminder, if I ever saw one. I have a heart desperate to recognize all the good in life, even when it’s harder to see or there are other, negative distractions waiting to capture my attention. Of course, this will always be a work in progress. I’ll always have days where that picture describes me perfectly. But I want to work on having more days where I’m more like Heart and less like Brain (even though both are very important).

Cheers.

Also, here’s some of my other favorites from The Awkward Yeti. Enjoy. 🙂

 


Shadow of Mordor: A Review

**Spoilers do appear in this review*

I meant to write this ages ago, after I actually beat this game, but life got in the way. But, considering that the sequel to the game comes out on October 10th, I figured this was as apt a time as any to talk about how awesome this game is.

Because it’s pretty dang awesome, people.

The basic premise is this: you play as a ranger named Talion after he and his family been murdered by the Black Hand of Sauron. Tailon, however, is left in limbo, in a wraith-like state and actually bonds with the spirit of Celebrimbor, brought together in the sorrow of the deaths of their families by the filth of Mordor. So you go not only on a quest to revenge your family, but you also search for Celebrimbor’s memories to learn his true identity and figure out how to get out of that wraith-like stage and join your family in the peace of death.

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I know, freakin’ epic, right?

I loved this for a lot of reasons. One, because I’m such a Tolkien junkie, introducing players and lore like Celebrimbor was such a giddy experience, not only because I knew so much already about the world we were in, but I was always surprised by the new twists and liberties they took with the plot–and I always enjoyed them.

I also loved this for the gameplay. I love video games because they are so immersive and creative and challenging, but I also love them because when I get good at them, I feel like a badass (which is something I definitely don’t ascribe to in real life). Shadow of Mordor DEFINITELY makes you feel like a badass, when you have hordes and hordes of orcs coming after you and you just go on this massive slaying spree.

Which brings me to the third thing I loved: the mechanics of the gameplay. I’ve never played a game where the fighting felt so fluid. Apparently it was based off of Assassin’s Creed gameplay (I think) as far as how the fighting style was meant to work, but I was a pretty shit assassin in my go of the first one (granted, I make a pretty shit ranger a lot of the times, too, but at least I got the hang of it).

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I also felt the story in Mordor picked up a lot when you unlock the second map and start meeting other characters. Being the completist that I am, I wanted to get through everything in the first map before I started the second and I won’t lie: grinding after I beat the main story of the first part for as long as I did, at times, I lost my interest a little bit. But the second half of the game, I loved every minute of it. I also was a huge fan of reading the lore you unlocked in the world and the artwork attached to it.

So, a lot of positives with Shadow of Mordor. According to the latest feature in Game Informer, Shadow of War is meant to capitalize on all of those positives and greatly expand upon them, especially in story and in scope. We get to ride flying drakes as we attempt to dominate Mordor. How freakin’ amazing is that? Also, considering that John Howe was hired to help do some concept art on the Nazgül, I can’t imagine how the sequel could be bad.

If you’re a fan of Middle-earth, slaying orcs and feeling like a badass, I highly recommend giving Shadow of Mordor a try if you haven’t already.

Cheers.


Breaking Out of the Multitasking Mold

So, if you’ve ever looked at my Instagram account, you might see posts from my little book of To-Do Lists.

Seriously, I post about them all of the time.

Not only are To-Do Lists what keep me sane, but they also reflect just how much I like to stay involved and, arguably, how I will often take on more than I can chew. That being said, I’m very lucky to have a job that allows me to multitask. After finishing anything related to the job itself, I can spend the rest of the time doing dual tasks, i.e., still managing the front desk of the library, but also working on other things like this blog, my writing, my internship or any of the other things that slip onto my To-Do List from a week-to-week basis. If I didn’t have that luxury, there is no way I could put as much as I do on my To-Do List and be as consistent as I am crossing things off.*

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That said, one of the major things on the List this week was catching up on my Mythgard Academy classes. Mythgard is a wonderful resource that I discovered last year, when they were doing a seminar over Return of the Shadow (check out the link to read more about it). I tried to keep up with the weekly discussions and readings–it was over Tolkien, after all (jazzed was an understatement describing my excitement)–yet I ended up not making it past the first couple weeks. There were no consequences of that, but I was bummed, because I really enjoyed it.

So when they offered their next course over The Treason of Isengard, you know this nerd signed up immediately again.

And fell behind once more.

Between vacation and the rest of the List, I ended up falling behind on Mythgard, to the point where I was four weeks behind (technically five, if you consider doing the reading for this week’s upcoming lecture). I was so disappointed in myself. I really wanted to keep up and, writing out every lecture and reading I need to accomplish to catch up…it felt impossible.

But I really, really wanted to do this.

So I buckled down and caught up, at the expense of some writing time and pushing some other things towards the bottom of the List’s importance.

I discovered something, however; something that I did not expect.

I think I, sometimes, struggle with the desire to multitask too much, instead of focusing on one thing at a time.

The lectures over each week’s reading are roughly two hours long (though they usually go two and half hours, because we’re nerding out about Tolkien) and if you miss the live chat, you can catch up through various forms, but my favorite is YouTube. So when there was a lull at work, I’d put in one headphone, get out my notebook, open up the lecture and then get ready for nerdery.

I struggled, a lot, with not trying to do something else at the same time, whether it was writing a blog post, checking social media, responding to emails or loads of other things. Even though I was definitely invested with what the video was talking about, I kept itching to do something else. How could I spent two hours just sitting and listening when I could be crossing off two, three and four from the List at the same time?

By multitasking and crossing off two while also doing one, I was losing the true worth of one. Which, I’m sad to admit, I definitely did for a lecture…or two. And you can tell, by the lack of notes I took. Yet in the last lecture I watched last night, I had over a page of notes and I was much more invested in the material and the discussion, even if I was listening to it after the fact and not participating like normal, had I caught it live. And I felt so much better afterward–and enjoyed it so much more–than the previous two lectures where I did multiple things at once, but all of them didn’t feel half-assed, necessarily, but definitely not fully engaged in any of them.

That’s important.

We live in a world where there is never enough time in a day and a common question in job interviews is how well a person can multitask. But I think it’s important to remember the value of focusing and dedicating your attention to one thing; to one project, one goal, one setting, hell, one person, instead of trying to do everything at once and getting distracted. It was a good reminder that I’d forgotten. Now, time to try and do better.

Cheers.

* Not saying that I always am able to cross off everything from my To-Do List. It’s just as common for me to transfer multiple items from one week’s To-Do List to the next week’s. Only trying to convey that having a job that lets me work on multiple things is a huge reason I’m able to commit to the things I do commit to.


Quest for Happiness: Week Thirty Six

Fitness:

  • Long-term Goal: Shape the body I want and become healthier.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Workout 4x, log food, meet target calorie count and look up some different exercises to start toning the muscles.
    • Status: Almost! I was able to workout four times, though one of those times was a walk instead of a run (yet it still counts). I logged my food during the work week and mostly met my target calorie count. I didn’t look up any exercises to help tone, but I did start incorporating some old ones into my stretching routine, so all-in-all, I think not a bad week.
  • This Week’s Goal: Workout 4x and log food. Keep up new stretching/toning routine.

Writing:

  • Long-term Goal: Edit all previously written works. Query one.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Recreating writing routine and start drafting outline for the new RESISTANCE rework.
    • Status: Sorta! I did spent an afternoon and plotted out a lot of the backstory and created a very rough outline of the plot. However, I didn’t really recreate a writing routine at all; still need to figure that out.
  • This Week’s Goal: Recreate writing routine, figure out plot holes and learn about my main character.

Reading:

  • Long-term Goal: Read 60 books.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Finish Red Seas Under Red Skies.
    • Status: Negative. I read once last week. Yeah…
  • This Week’s Goal: Finish Red Seas Under Red Skies.

Relaxation:

  • Long-term Goal: Create and maintain a mindset that taking care of yourself is just as important as everything else.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Reach Level 15 with my Awoken Hunter.
    • Status: Success! My day off Friday was beautiful in that I woke up and pretty much played Destiny 2 until I went back to sleep again (with a small break to play some D&D with friends). So now I’m up to Level 20 and can actually help my clan do shit.
  • This Week’s Goal: Play some Strikes with my Clan.

Blogging:

  • Long-term Goal: Increase output over all three blogs, i.e., post more consistently.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Catch up on all the awesome posts I missed, plus perhaps write a few of my own.  
    • Status: Success! 
  • This Week’s Goal: Two posts on each blog.

Financial:

  • Long-term Goal: Manage money with more awareness, start retirement fund and build savings.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Recalculate budget and get back to being frugal.
    • Status: Success! Aside from a few one-time purchases I had to made (i.e., renew my PS+ account), I stayed on budget. Hoping to continue to stay frugal and start building my savings again.
  • This Week’s Goal: Pay bills for next month and stay frugal.

Not a bad week after getting back from vacation, I must say. As my To-Do Lists continue to get longer, not shorter, I’m hopeful that I can actually keep up with the progress and maintain a motivated, go-getter attitude I had most of the week last week.

Cheers.


One Foot in Sea and One On Shore

My Mom and I just went on vacation. A two week long vacation. To London, England. Being from a little town in Kansas, that was a pretty epic flight, if I do say so myself. And just amazing to think about, in general, that we were even able to go, not to mention that after almost a year of planning, we actually did. And like a blink, now we’re back and reminiscing.

It’s crazy how life works like that.

So, for the followers who are interested in hearing about the trip, I thought I’d share some of my favorite highlights, though by no means is this list concluded with the few moments I picked out below.

Watching Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare’s Globe

MAANI think this might have been one of my most favorite memories from the trip, not to mention one of the most epic experiences EVER. We got to look around the Globe and the Thames even though it was raining and then got food at The Raven, the adjacent restaurant to the theatre. Personally, I wasn’t a big fan of the sandwich we split, but my Mom absolutely loved it. But nothing could curb my excitement to see this play, one that I’d read and watched the cinematic version in high school, but it’d been so long that I couldn’t remember the end. We got wonderful seats (front row), thanks to my Mom’s generosity. And the show itself was hilarious. The cast was fantastic, the set was gorgeous and they captured the audience so well. The first act was filled with laughter and wit and then, after the intermission, the environment was so still, to match the sudden somber mood. Yet we were laughing once more by the end and as soon as it was over, I just wanted to hit rewind and watch it all over again.

Oh, I also got some really awesome and nerdy Shakespeare merch, because who doesn’t want to do that?

Cathedral Close-Ups

St Pauls

We got a chance to see probably half a dozen churches, including Southwark Cathedral, but we toured two of them: St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey. I’d been to both once before, but seeing them again was incredible. I’ve always been privately spiritual, but nowhere in the world and no other time in the world did I feel closer to God than walking through the halls of St. Paul’s and Westminster. We didn’t get to make it to a service, regrettably, but seeing those places again was a dream.

Reunions and New Faces 

On top of doing all the touristy things you gotta do (and I’m pretty proud how many we were able to cross off the list), we also managed to sneak in a few get together’s with some of my friends, which was incredible. We met up with two friends from college who I met while they were studying abroad in America during my sophomore year of college; both of whom I became very close with and hated seeing them leave five years ago, assuming I’d never see them again. So it was pretty incredible to get to see both of them and catch up.

Then, we also met one of my FELLOW MUSES in person, which was pretty dang incredible and a wonderful way to end the trip. But honestly, I wish our two hour dinner could have turned into a weekend-long affair, because I could have talked with her for hours. It’s always amazing to not only know a kindred spirit, but to actually get to meet them and have your soul rekindled by their presence and their passion for writing? Yeah, that’s amazing, too.

Finding a Dragon

We took a day trip to Oxford, which included touring the Oxford Castle. Of course, every good tourist attraction has a shop and this shop was particularly fantastic, considering the medieval bent of its merch. But it was at this shop that I found a huge pile of dragon plushies, ranging in size and color.

And it was there that I found Ember.

Ember

I know it’s stupid, but I’m seriously in love with the little guy.

Strawberry Tarts and Chocolate Eclairs 

We did a ton of other things, aside from the highlights listed above. And all of it was incredible, even battling the sore feet, dozens of miles, roller-coaster moods, culture shock and missing home. But even with everything else combined, none of it compares to my absolute, hands down, favorite aspect of the trip.

The desserts.

But not the desserts themselves.

Dessert

Most evenings, my Mom and I would find a little pastry shop somewhere near our hotel and we’d get pastries and coffee (or hot chocolate, for this weirdo who doesn’t drink coffee). And we’d indulge. But more than that, we’d talk. About what we did that day, what we were looking forward to the next day. About our lives back home, our jobs, our stresses, writing, the past, relationships, mistakes, regrets, dreams; everything we could think of, often repeating topics (thanks to me and my overthinking, usually), but always late into the night. Just uninterrupted, quality conversations together.

And that was the best part of the trip. Hands down.

I can’t wait for the next one, for that exact same reason.

Cheers.