Check out my high school absurdical, Kor’Thank: Barbarian Valley Girl! (Yes, I know “absurdical” is a made up word)

Idiot demon-jocks, tons of profanity, copious psychedelics, and an airborne kiss at 300 mph, hanging from the back of a mushroom-shaped mecha! All this and more in my comedy/horror/sci-fi absurdical, Kor’Thank: Barbarian Valley Girl!

Check it out here: Kor’Thank: Barbarian Valley Girl

Get The Unbound Realm here:  The Unbound Realm, Volume 1   Get Kor’Thank here:  Kor’Thank:  Barbarian Valley Girl.  Get Echo Vol. 1 on Kindle here:  Vol. 1 on Kindle.  Vol. 2 on Kindle here:  Vol.2 on Kindle  Vol. 3 on Kindle here:  Vol. 3 on Kindle  Vol.4 on Kindle here:  Vol. 4 on Kindle  Echo Omnibus here:  Echo Omnibus  Echo Vol. 1 & 2 Combined Edition here:  Combined Edition  Musings, Volume 1 is available here:  Musings, Volume 1  Here’s the miscellaneous gear that I use to try and become an uber-human:  Optimization!  🙂 🙂 😀

Hold on!  I just got approved to be an Amazon affiliate!  If you’re going to buy ANY product from Amazon, and you’d like to support my efforts for absolutely free, then simply click on one of the Echo links I’ve provided—they’ll send you to Echo’s Amazon page—and THEN buy whatever product you wish.  Amazon gives me a small referral fee each time this happens!  In this manner you can support my books, musings, podcast, zany ads, or my adventures along the noble path known as The Way of The Man Child WITHOUT spending any more money than you were already going to!  Should you do this, I vow to send you a silent blessing, causing your genitals to adopt the optimum size, shape, smell, and death-ray attachment of choice that paralyzes your enemies with fear and envy!  Entire worlds will bow before your nether parts!  😲💪 😜  #Kindle  #KindleUnlimited

436 thoughts on “Check out my high school absurdical, Kor’Thank: Barbarian Valley Girl! (Yes, I know “absurdical” is a made up word)

  1. 😂 I make up words sometimes (usually accidentally because I’m speaking and thinking so fast two words collide in my brain and come out a jumbled mess), but absurdical is awesome… who knows, maybe it will catch on… That is how things eventually end up in the dictionary 😂

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  2. 🤣As a 45 year old woman whose daughter thinks just perhaps she might have been old enough to own a pet dinosaur, and who likes reading “old -timey” things on occasion, I am not so bothered by the word “farce”🤣 In fact, it’s a word I use from time to time…. Near ancient relic that I am 🤣

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      • That, my dude, was a teensy, weensy, nearly miniscule drip of sarcastic levity clinging to my previous comment, not any actual concern about my age. I like the words I like, others can like the words they like…I just happen to like a lot of “old-timey” words😈🤣 AARP is already starting to send me stuff 🙄, so I recognize that in the eyes of plenty I’m just a few hops through seemingly short years away from being able to use that senior discount…and I don’t really care past my ability to be there for my family in all the ways they need before I go.

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      • Whoa! Never thought AARP was that aggressive! 🤣 Bout to start popping up on their mailing lists myself in the next few years…I also like old-timey words—I wish someone would call me a trollop, LOL! I like old-timey detective speak as well, but I doubt I could call a lady doll unless I was dating her.

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      • And, in a slightly more serious response to your comment about your clients being their prime (though I couldn’t help a bit of teething because I have used the word farce in a comment recently on this blog, I am a bit of a stinker that way): the truth is our society has a serious double standard when it comes to who is considered as being in their prime and at what age. Men are generally still considered to be in their prime at my age, women are definitely not, and we’ll just leave it at that. And, let’s just say I’m not a fan of that disparity, and I certainly plan on raising both metaphorical middle fingers to that until they put my body in the ground or cremate me… I haven’t decided which one I want yet.

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      • That was a bit of teasing, not teething. Phone mic… I have a therapist showing up here any minute now and I didn’t proofread well and I saw it when it posted

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      • I’m going to do something incredibly identified and put in writing the mildly indelicate snort/snicker that came out when I saw your trollop comment 😂😂😂😂 I am happy to oblige, you man trollop you, however I also must lamentively point out that that word is defined as pertaining to the sexual promiscuity of a woman. That is another one of history’s more destructive double standards. A man can have sex with whomever he wants and discard his tissues like I’m throwing out Kleenex during allergy season, and he’s just sewing his wild oats (to use an even more old-timey expression) or whatever, and society just kind of shrugs and winks at that. But a woman who has frequent sexual partners, oh she’s a whore… Or at least has been considered such through much of history, and even you could find plenty of people now that feel that way. So, I rather like the idea of being able to apply those terms equally to both genders 🤣

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      • That was undignified, not identified. More phone mic and lack of proofreading 😳 it’s one of my cardinal sins when I’m in a rush and running behind…

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      • And that would be throwing out partners like I throw out tissues. More proofreading, I’m trying to drink my breakfast smoothie, and have a conversation with my daughter while I answer this…yeah. multitasking, it’s a dangerous thing sometimes 😅

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      • One more quick thing, sorry to comment bomb… I started getting stuff from AARP a few years ago 😱😱😱 yeah, they’re that aggressive! Either that or they could see all of the gray hairs via satellite that I was getting from “interacting” with DDD about covering benefits and services for our son that they were supposed to be covering and I was assumed to be a good decade older than I actually am…🤔 I didn’t think it was that many gray hairs, I don’t dye my hair, but it must be something 😂

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      • LOL! I totally can’t recommend you send them that, says the woman who sent a ripped up membership card back to a local organization that crossed one of her treatment boundaries and then mailed a request for a donation. Do as I say, not as I do, Kent 🙂 My childhood left me in a place where I don’t pay to take shit from anybody…especially when life has shown me I can get it for free already, and anytime I didn’t ask for it at that.

        In regards to crossing streams, Hannah actually came down and started talking to me when I was in the middle of responding to your comment…I try not to phub her, but since my comment was already in progress, I tried to wrap it up and then put the phone away. She, by the way, thinks we should just skip the word trollop and go with thot. She’s 15, I think that is to be expected, lmao. And I would certainly never call her either!

        And, I just have to assert that perhaps, with all due respect, you can’t fully get it until you’ve lived it (though I really do appreciate your willingness to equalize the language usage). Even being an incest survivor gets a woman treated differently and seen as less than, and certainly she had no control over that. Women who are sex workers often find they can’t get other jobs when they want them, there aren’t the same consequences for a woman who has sent out a topless selfie to a lover who then posted it without her permission on-line as there are for men…women can loose their jobs and their social communities just for something that out of their control… and sometimes the man won’t even get a slap on the wrist for dragging his ex-woman through the mud of the internet that way. As a woman who would like to see things be fair, I think both sides should get the same treatment. So, we need to either lighten up on the women (which I favor), or toughen up on the men (not really as helpful an approach as the former in my opinion). Alright, I’ll get off my soapbox and stop ranting now 😉

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      • I know, it’s pretty crazy! For awhile I thought myself and my military brethren were kind of it for ptsd, then once I started researching the mechanism of it, I realized we were swimming in the shallow end, and it wasn’t a contest. I see sexual assault survivors in kind of the same light as some military folk who’ve really been through the shit, that is to say with a lot of respect and some intimidation on my part, to be honest, because I don’t know if I could keep it together after something that heavy.

        I’ve heard thot, but everyone’s using it! Boo! I’d much rather be called a trollop or something made up on the spot—I’m a big fan of the word “yerbert.” 🤣

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      • Well, I’m going to give you an honest answer because the older I get, the more important I think it is to give voice to certain things publicly because you never know who might need to hear/read it. When something like that happens to you, you have really two main choices. You can heal and try to find a way to move on from it, or not. I can assure you, it is in some ways a very hard thing emotionally to try and process sexual abuse when it is from a relative. The ickiness factor is significant and the shame factor is high, but it can be done. And a person can go on to live a happy life, if they make choices that put them on that path.

        I don’t know how much of my blog you read on a regular basis, and no judgement with that. There are very few blogs I am a weekly presence on because I would start to feel overwhelmed by the commitment with everything else gong on. But it’s possible you’ve read enough to know my stepfather in particular was, in my opinion, a somewhat sadistic man, he enjoys watching people suffer I think and in my experience, so I had just as much stuff to work through in counseling from him as from my dad or anybody else in the family that did things they shouldn’t to me. There was a time in my life when I thought I could have shot him and not cared, but the truth is I am a gentle and empathetic person on the inside (no matter how fiery I can get in defense of myself and others if I feel it is warranted) and I don’t think I could mentally handle needing to take anyone’s life for any reason other than self defense. And even then, I would struggle.

        I would never want to compare the challenges. Life can be hard in many ways, I honor the difficulty of what you went through, though I don’t know the specifics. I know that some people look at my life and think I wasted certain potential, or they want to judge me for joining our former church. But, I was simply doing the best I could to hold myself together, heal, and make a quiet, significantly happier, significantly safer life for myself. Success is relative, and I’ve had the kind of titles that start to make people look at you differently before I became the fabulous stay at home mom I am today…and you know what? Happiness doesn’t really come from that. But a happier life can be found when you are coming from some shit and chaos, but it takes work and making choices to move toward healing. And, a commitment to never see myself as less-than any more, regardless of what others think.

        And, I had to look up yerbert, lol! Ok, so do you mean something different than the drug? Just curious, no judgement if you don’t.

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      • I’m happy you see things the way you do, after all that’s happened! Many people I know become paranoid and super involved in politics because they have chosen to hand over the reins of their happiness to others. And though I don’t have anything against politics, it often seems to be an avenue where folks express the idea that the majority must bend to their will, or they won’t be happy.

        Yerbert’s just a made-up word. I like the sound of it! 🤣 My ex took the dog-naming responsibilities away from me because I wanted to name them things like Dogface, Rowfus Roofus, and Mustache Guy (little mustachioed terrier who I also wanted to name Wizard-face and Rat-thing.) I just like random funny words. 🤣

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      • Part of the reason I see things the way that I do is because I wanted to find happiness in my life. Somethings in life are outside of a person’s control, but if you let someone take your future and present happiness based on their past actions, that last part is something a person is choosing to give up in my opinion. And I say that as a person with deep mental and emotional scars. And, nobody else can give me happiness. It’s an internal process. I can work towards building happier circumstances, and I have and I do. I find there is a lot to enjoy about life, and I am very grateful to be here and to have been able to find happiness for myself in many things.

        Politics is a trickier thing for most people, but I think it isn’t just that. So many people want you to be their echo chamber on other things, like religion. It’s kind of like they need that to feel validated in their own rightness, and if you disagree, they feel like it’s an implicit judgement on what they are doing and therefore them, and many people don’t feel comfortable living in that place. As a person who likes a good discussion, I’m cool with different lines of thought as long as everyone is respectful about it and that’s not really a challenge for me personally.

        But, I think when it comes to abuse survivors, I don’t know that politics is what they bury themselves in. Religion maybe…I know for me, one of the great appeals of organized religion was this sense of having a Heavenly Parent who loved you, because when you have earthly parents who either don’t or don’t in a healthy way (and I’ve got both to deal with, a mom who never wanted to be a mom and didn’t start out loving me even if she says she eventually got to that place, and a father who I’m not sure if what he felt was love, but that sure as heck isn’t what healthy love is supposed to look like), there is this a huge amount of damage from the need of that type of love that most humans have. You kind of have to come to a place where you can be your own light, and you can give yourself the love and empathy that didn’t come from others. It’s a hard thing, and I’ve already ranted too much. It’s complicated.

        I sometimes will make words up too, but it’s often that I mated two words (snizzle: a sneeze that fizzles, for example). It is fun to play with language! I need to get going, have a new therapist showing up today and I’m super excited! Take good care of yourself 🙂

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      • I’m on board with what you’ve said, especially the part about “you kind of have to come to a place where you can be your own light.” When I’m in a good enough mood, I can see how negative experiences with other people actually were positive in the respect that they didn’t do what I wanted them to do, because if they constantly did what I wanted them to and I derived happiness from their actions, then I wouldn’t be my own light. I wouldn’t be in charge of my own happiness. Of course it’s nice when people do what I prefer, but whether they do or don’t is a separate thing from my decision to be positive about it (I can at least be satisfied with negative experiences and take an it is what it is approach to them).

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      • Are you echo chambering me?😉😂 (Just teasing) I think recognizing and taking back your own power over your own happiness is the difference between surviving and thriving. That being said, some things are going to be painful regardless of how much a person tries to shift their focus to something they can be happy about. I don’t openly and blatantly say as much on my blog out of respect to the feelings of my in-laws because it is important to my husband that I handle the topic with incredible delicacy for their sake, but all of my closest friends within our former Church cut off contact unless they encountered me in public with one of our son’s therapists (and even then in one of them pretended she didn’t know me in that type of circumstance) either right when I left or shortly thereafter. There’s no way to keep something like that from hurting if you want to be in healthy relationships with people where they touch your emotions and you touch theirs. Sometimes you end up having to default to a survival position to get through something, but my game plan in situations like this to pull myself into a thriving position is to focus on the ways I can bring happiness into my life independent of what another person does. I also acknowledge my right to feel pain and even devastation, I do what it takes to heal that, and then I move on. Life can be hard in many ways, but it can also be good anyways, and I want to spend as much time as possible focusing on those good parts.

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      • Sounds like you’re in a good place! There’s a lot of folks who get stuck in the misery and are just too stubborn to try a new tack.

        And maybe I am “echo chambering,” because being happy despite being in agony is what Echo is all about! (if-you’re-reading-this-comment-and-you’re-interested-in-Echo-please-visit-amazon.com-and-purchase-a-copy). 😅 Mwahaha! 🤣

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      • You crack me up 😂 you have been a great sport about how long winded I can be in some of my responses, thank you for that😁

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      • And, I think you are right about some people not wanting to try a different approach, by the way. I personally can be stubborn that’s for sure, but not in that way. I like to find something to enjoy about life where I can, even if I’m living in a dumpster fire of stress and unwashed dishes 😂😅 and if that takes changing what I am doing, then so be it. Although, I did clear out most of those dishes finally this morning, and maybe I’ll get to the second Echo book this month. Maybe… I bought it a while back, but it’s been busy training new therapists and with the holidays…

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      • The unsightliness of unwashed dishes! They should have a hidden compartment for them that raises up on a motorized track when you’re ready to wash them. I’m a total bachelor about it—I use one dish and one fork, which is a holdover from when my ex told me I was littering the sink with dishes. I washed them and said I was henceforth only using one dish and one fork, and, of course, the sink filled back up with dishes which weren’t mine. One of the few (maybe only) arguments I won without arguing, lol!

        Don’t worry about Echo, it’s definitely more of a niche book. Sure, it has an innovative and fresh (I think, at least) take on enlightenment and Why We’re All Here, but a lot of it is a disgruntled soldier being pissed at his superiors, lol! Echo 2 is almost all action and all pissiness. If you want something angry but at least funny, Kor’Thank might scratch the itch. I wrote that trying to capture the spirit of an r-rated version of Calvin and Hobbes. But no worries either way—I’m stoked that you enjoyed at least one of my books! 😁

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      • Well, I think it would be great if Harry Potter-esque magic was a thing, because then those dishes would wash themselves!!! Usually, the drudgery is mine, and I’m a busy woman…so sometimes, it sits for longer than I would like. I wish, wish, wish we could get away with fewer dishes. But sometimes it helps to have a few more given my schedule, like for example this past weekend, I was training a hab therapist whose never done hab before, much less with someone who has Tony’s level of challenges. That was 14 hours where I couldn’t do anything else…so for times like that, it’s probably good we have more than 1 plate per person. Though, maybe someday…a woman can only hope! The only thing I really like to have more of than I need is eyeshadow. I get so bewitched by color and texture, and I have such a blast doing as bright of a makeup as I can have time for (it’s a for me and my artistic side kind of thing, nobody does this type of makeup from the standpoint of enhancing attractiveness) I’m more hedonistic about it than I should be, to be honest.

        You know, I don’t get some of the small things couples like to argue about. To me, dishes is a smaller thing. Maybe it’s just a side effect of my background, but I kind of feel like many things just aren’t worth arguing about, it’s kind of more like, let’s discuss each other’s views on it, talk about what each person is needing out of this, and try to find a way to honor both sides of it. My husband’s job means he’s gone most of the time, so it’s not like he’s trying to stick me with a crap job, he’s just not available to do it most of the time.

        And, with all due respect, I’ll read whatever the heck I want!!! I got plenty of micromanaging about what I could and couldn’t read in my former church, and I am going to read whatever the hell I want to now! And, I didn’t mean that to deliver as much salt as it could have seemed to, I get the sense that you are trying to respect where I came from with your recommendations, and I can appreciate and be grateful for that. But I am still planning on getting around to it!

        And, I am sorry for how long this response is (really am!), but while I’m already here and we’re on the subject, I’m going to give you another heads up. I did love your last book, and I am going to mention it on my blog sometime soon. However, I have to put a couple of content warnings in my commentary that I don’t personally feel, but that are necessary because I know that my in-laws absolutely would not think kindly of the profanity or sexuality of some of your blog posts (again, I’m not bothered or I wouldn’t be here). And I don’t want to cause any hurt feelings about that. I will need to comment on that because it would damage my relationships with them if I didn’t warn them to avoid some of your other content out of respect to their own personal views, and they would want to do so because they are still very devoted members of my former church, which has some pretty strict teachings on what is acceptable when it comes to content for books, movies, music, etc…Just wanted to let you know, because I would not want to cause hurt feelings with that. So, my apologies in advance on that one! 🙂 Ari

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      • I don’t really get the dishes thing either, because the logical guess would be it was more than an issue about dishes, but it really was about the dishes that time because after I switched to my one dish/fork policy, I never heard about it again!

        I get the content warnings—there’s a giant spectrum that comes with that. Some folks want outright regulation of some subjects, while others want things publicly categorized to varying degrees, to include subjectively distaste. Can’t please everyone, but at least you can try to avoid ruffling feathers here and there.

        I’ve never been so complimented by someone’s saltiness, LOL! If you want to read Echo despite it bearing the marks of my early noob writing, along with the big doses of disgruntlement and violence, then consider me flattered! 😁

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      • I did read the first Echo, so I already have a sense of the growth you have made as a writer. When I was young, despite the fact that I got the sense my mother as a mathematician wanted me to be really anything other than the artistically inclined child that I was, she was also rather militant about correcting any grammatical slips I would make, even in casual everyday speech. Literally every aspect of my speech and grammar. I determined as an adult to never be that person to anybody else. I am not here to judge your journey. I can appreciate the artistic merits of something without needing it to have all the hallmarks of literary perfection.

        I’d rather suspect that my in-laws might have some philosophical differences with how Jon views the world, but I think it meets the content standards that they strive for so I’m going to recommend it anyway. And in truth, as the mother of a child with significant disability, some of my views are even different. A woman who was the caregiver of a significantly disabled loved one and found herself in a less than ideal marriage that wasn’t abusive would view the situation much more pragmatically. She would be inclined to think this is the best I’m going to get out of any situation, because even in leaving I’m not dateable… So if you are already in the best you can get, make peace with it and move on. And that isn’t pessimism, I’m a person who believes in optimistic realism but not delusion. If you are the parent of a child who most people won’t even babysit, you’re not even thinking dating or the career of your dreams is going to be an option for you, so that person would also see “at least” in a very different light. But, I think there is a lot I can agree with about the nature of our modern society and the way we’ve all been tapped to plug and chug away in a manner that assists someone higher up the food chain in finding all of the happiness and fulfillment they want, while trading away everything that each of us might want for ourselves in that regard.

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      • Grammar Nazis! I think they were the first target of my humorous ads, lol!

        I think you’re on the right track. I believe conditions can’t force someone into happiness, nor into misery, as evidenced through anecdotal experiences, rich folks who hate life, poor folks who love it, etcetera etcetera. While getting smashed in jiu jitsu or straining in the gym may not seem outwardly pleasant, I truly enjoy the release and expression of both activities. Same with dancing! (Just fell down a BTS rabbit hole after watching them do Dynamite at the 2020 VMAs, and now I’m trying to learn the dance, lol!) Whatever’s in front of me has the potential to be appreciated to at least the point of satisfaction (it is what it is, no use worrying about it, I’ve been here before and I know it’ll pass, or at the very least, we all die eventually so this won’t last forever) and satisfaction opens the way to more positivity, which primes my perception to see opportunity and my attitude to take advantage of it. Everyone has a different way to frame that, and Jon’s is still that of a nineteen year old kid, so he definitely will see things in a different light than others. But as you said, the core philosophy will be the same. He, like others, wishes to express as much of himself as he possibly can. And like many others, he doesn’t want to compromise to outside obligations that infringe on his self-expression. I’ve planned a good twist of irony at the end of the series that’ll wrap that conundrum up, but even when it’s written, I won’t be on the nose and straight out mention it. It will unfold through everything that happens to Jon. 🙂

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      • Grammar Nazis indeed, lol! Yes, my mother can be quite precise in her language usage, she is skilled at didactic writing, though she is not creatively inclined and has never to the best of my knowledge written anything of that nature. Though, she did write all of my stepfather’s college papers as I understand it, which mystifies me, because I would never want to give credit for something like that to another. But, on the positive side, I can credit my ability to write immaculately when desired to her nitpicking tutelage, so I try to recognize both sides of what those experiences did to me.

        I had to watch that BTS video so I could better visualize what you are trying to learn, and the choreography and the way they time their moves together is seamless, really. I can see that the moves are influenced by Michael Jackson’s style of dancing. My personal dance goal for this year is to improve my belly dancing…it is more of a challenge for me in some ways because I have reduced flexibility in my right Achilles tendon, and those moves require a level of bent knee that is more difficult to achieve on my right side because of it. And I like challenges. It is something I do for myself, not to be exhibitionistic… childbirth did not do pretty things to the skin on my stomach and I have no interest in the publicly performative side, it’s more something that makes me happy because it’s a style of dance well suited otherwise to a woman with my type of figure and I don’t need to worry about anybody in my house judging me for what my tummy skin looks like.

        I can understand what you are saying about the physical release and challenge of certain physical activities. I really can’t do martial arts because of my right foot, POTS has changed how rigorously I can do certain things, and I had to work to overcome some negative associations to get to the point where I could be willing to do much less appreciate strength training. But I find it joyful to do everything I can to workaround those issues because there is this release that comes with physical challenges and activity.

        Finding happiness in difficult circumstances is an art of perseverance and dedication to constantly looking for a workaround. To be given something hard in life and say, now, how can get around this and come to the best place possible? I have several workarounds that are near fruition for me, and as each thing comes to pass, I will use that opportunity to find ways to continue to move my life in ways that will bring me as much happiness with what is possible for me as can be found. And sometimes it’s just in being able to magnify the small things and soak up those feelings. I used to have my nose pierced, but my former church required that to be removed. Tony’s therapy stuff was still more physical when I left, and that piercing healed shut. You know, I’m going to go get my little nose cz chip back where it belongs now that things are becoming less physically arduous with his therapy. It is a small thing, and a quiet joy, but soaking those in can reap a whole lot of benefits psychologically. Take good care of yourself, and good luck with the dancing!

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      • For the achilles I do a 2 minute roll out (kneel like a samurai with a baseball between thigh and calf and wriggle back and forth to massage the muscles, breathing and relaxing to deprogram the knots, move the ball progressively lower then go back up to hit the whole calf) then a bent knee calf stretch against an angled surface like a foam roller (straight knee targets the knee, bent knee targets the ankle). It’s important to roll before stretching, if you’re going to do both. Hopefully that will help if you have time or inclination to do it.

        Belly dancing looks pretty tough! (Coordination-wise, anyway). My core is used to tensing to support weight or to twist sharply sideways to generate force, so it’d take a while to make it learn how to rotate smoothly like that. Awhile ago, I tried to learn locking, but I had other commitments, and it really was like learning a foreign language for my body. Fun, though! BTS are nuts with their dance practice, diet, and the fact that they sing while dancing for live performances. Plus only two (I think it’s two, but I know most of them don’t) of them have a strict dance background, the rest just train their asses off and it definitely takes a toll, so I doubt I could get to their level. I can learn this one dance though, maybe, lol!

        Applied martial arts (stuff that works against an actively resisting athlete) is a bit of a catch-22, because it’s very easy to get injured, so it requires a bit of experience to find a training rhythm that will give you enough recovery time. It’s different for competitors—because they pretty much have to go full-burn injury or not—but for the rest of us, it’s a delicate balance of making sure we don’t go down the spiral of injury, depression, weight gain, recovery, and repeat.

        Sounds like you’re doing the right thing—all or nothing mentality is what kills progress, but if you’re willing to veer off the track towards a tangential goal, or something that may not solve everything but is at least a step forward, you tend to come across unexpected blessings (in my opinion). The indirect way may seem frustrating at times, but the milestones tend to yield more and more leverage, which tend to make the journey fun, which of course is really the point. In any case, I’ve seen my friends who demand all-or-nothing results lose out and slowly erode over time, staying exactly where they are, exactly as they have been. Usually, their feelings of powerlessness manifest into an intense interest into politics, and I just can’t with the rants. If you have the time and feel that strongly about it, go do something about it, even if it’s just a little bit. That’s how I feel, anyway.

        Go get you that nose piercing! You deserve it! 🙂

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      • I did get my nose re-pierced, last night! 😀 And, my belly button too!!! The happiness level is high, super high. When I was younger, I let people get in my head about the bellybutton piercing, telling me that I was too big of a girl to get that kind of thing, nobody wanted to look at my belly, blah, blah, blah. Never should have let that shit get in my head, but really, the former church would have had me take it out anyway. Damn it, I don’t care that my tummy isn’t pretty enough for other people’s standards (I got preeclampsia when I was pregnant with Hannah and was putting on 5-6 pounds of fluid weight a day towards the end, and I have still have a small amount of excess skin on my stomach that crinkles, etc when I move), I’m not walking around in crop tops…I got it for me! *I* am going to feel happy every time I am looking at those iridescent sparkles down there while I am brushing my teeth, etc.

        I appreciate the recommendations on the tendon. I have to be very careful what I do with it. So, we didn’t know about my birth defect for years, but then my foot kind of started caving in on the heel and loosing flexibility after a few years of gymnastics. I have two of the characteristics of a club foot, basically, but not all three, and the original orthopedic surgeon who worked with me said it was probably all of the abuse I put it under while training that caused it to deteriorate quicker, but otherwise things might not have gone south until my 20’s. But, because of the way my heal bone is shaped, and the way my body responds to pressure on that tendon, I tend to get calcification nodes in that tendon. And that’s where we are now. The last surgery I had to clean things out was in 2003, I am probably overdue, but I am hoping to baby it along and get Tony into school before undertaking that. With the calcification nodes, I have to be careful about rolling, etc in that area, but I can focus on the calf muscle.

        This is going to sound perhaps heartless, and I don’t mean it to be. If somebody is only complaining about their circumstances, and doing nothing to try and change anything about what they are complaining about, I start to loose sympathy. I am a woman who prefers to be doing whatever I can about my circumstances. Some things I can not fix, but anything I can….it’s fair game. Some things take a long time to work out a resolution or improvement to, and I find in those cases it helps to keep track of and celebrate the smaller milestone successes along the way.

        Well, I need to get going! New hab therapist is going to be here in 5 minutes, and she’s going to need intensive support for the next month or so! Thank you for chatting with me on-line about these things, I appreciate the time you have given up to do so! 🙂

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      • Congratulations on the piercings! In the end, you have to make time to make yourself happy. Pleasing others can quickly become an endless rabbit-hole.

        I get it with the losing sympathy. At a certain point, the only way to communicate with others is to be happy yourself. Good luck with the new therapist!

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      • Thank you 😁 And the piercings are fabulous, in fact, I told the piercer I had never seen anything so fabulous as my new belly button ring 😄 I now have all the piercings I ever wanted, and I personally love them!!! I think the new therapist will be just fine, although she did need to call out today because her kiddos woke up sick. So, I am going to play piano and take advantage of the unexpected free time to focus on other things… take good care of yourself!

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      • It was great…I love playing piano, though I am not as good as I was a few years ago because I don’t have as much time to practice. Someday I will get that regular practice time back I think. If you had the unexpected gift of free time, what would you do with it?

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      • Like most folks, I’ve got a list. Surprisingly, I’d rather not travel. I like my routine, I like my setup.

        I think I’d really get into grilling and barbecue, raising dogs (I’ve raised one puppy at a time, but I’ve always dreamed of having enough time to raise a litter and have them all nap on top of me) learn to sing, learn magic tricks, learn to play guitar, learn to draw, I think that’s the order I’d like to do things in. 🙂

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      • Well, it’s your list, so certainly it should make you happy whether others find something surprising or not!! I can understand liking a routine and set up. I have to tamp down on my internal reactions when other family members invade my bathroom space, because it impacts my set up and I like things the way I like things! Since I recognize that’s generally a “me” thing, I try really hard to take some deep breathes so that I don’t breath fire on anyone for that sort of thing. Though, I would actually love to travel (camping, not so much though, I would do it for my family, but really, I like a close proximity to all things hygienical). Music is a joyful thing, I always wanted it to be part of my world, and it wasn’t really allowed when I was growing up. So as an adult I took singing lessons, taught myself some things when it comes to instruments… and litters of puppies are cute, but a lot of work!!! My mom had a chocolate lab that had a litter when I was younger…I have always loved animals, so I was constantly wanting to be involved with the puppies, but as young as I was, the level of actual help I provided is questionable! So, what about the music, magic tricks, and drawing resonates with you as an interest?

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      • I think the resonance is from the fact that as I get older, I just want to have fun in the moment, as opposed to toiling away and constantly justifying to others how I’m doing the right or noble thing. (Oh, I forgot to add freestyle rap, standup comedy, and beatboxing to the list). Sure music and dancing can have a lot of ego attached to it, but to me, more than any other activity, they’re about enjoying the moment and spreading some joy. Drawing falls dead last on the list because it’s the most solo of the activities for me. It’d be nice, though, to be able to at least capture the feel of my covers in a preliminary image for my cover artists, instead of sending them lengthy descriptions with attached images that approximate the feel of each element in the cover pic. (Also, it would be fun to mock my friends with pornographic caricatures).

        The bathroom thing sounds tough! I think I’ve gotten spoiled with my solo life, since I couldn’t imagine living with others unless they had their own bedroom and bathroom. I tried allowing one of my very good friends stay with me for a few months, but I hate having to wait for the bathroom, feeling any up-and-about energy when I’m lying in bed, or sharing my space in general.

        Puppies, though…I still feel I could get on board with puppies. I’d have to have the right layout with lots of outdoor space and a dedicated indoor space where I could build up their routines while minimizing the destruction. (Also, I would have to make enough where I wouldn’t feel guilty about hiring twice-weekly cleaners. Dog hair is no joke!) I think in the end I want three adult dogs minimum, five dogs max. 😁

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      • And, I’m going to go ahead and add another quick notice because I don’t want you to do or anyone else to feel badly for me on the music thing. When I was younger, it was the dream I wanted for myself and I had a lot of feelings and things I had to work through because of what happened. But as an adult, I have enough objective perspective to know while I can sing decently enough if I practice daily and I can play an instrument in a mediocre sort of way given my circumstances, they aren’t my primary gifts and I have made peace with that. It still makes me very happy to do those things, but I don’t know that I could have ever gotten good enough to make a career out of that anyways so… peace with where I am at and what I have is where I try to land. I got to sing solos a couple times in my former church and that was an awesome enough experience to have even for all the feelings I have overall for that church.

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      • That’s important to realize! I wanted my primary gift to be military stuff, but it’s pretty obvious at a certain point who’s designed for it and who isn’t. There’s a military equivalent of a pro-athlete, where they intuitively get the concepts, teamwork, and daily routine, where they don’t need much sleep, where they can move well with weight, and where they have pretty good physical recovery to the point they can get drunk on a regular basis and still perform pretty well.

        For better or worse, it has been made clear to me that I am made to be a writer. And honestly, it gives me a lot of peace to write whether someone likes it or not. The activity is very relaxing, so I’ll keep going until I’m given a hint otherwise. I think it’s great that you’re still staying involved in music, but you’re not making it something to stress out about (by that I mean if I stressed out over writing as my potential only source of income, I would begin to hate it pretty quickly). If my writing eclipses my other sources of income to the point where I could live solely off my books, I would love it, but I can’t worry about that in the present moment, or writing would suck balls.

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      • Thank you for sharing that. I think that is one of the bonuses of aging, the ability to recognize that none of the people who want to dictate what you should do have to live your life- you do. And you should be doing something that brings and gives meaning and joy to *you*, not them. It is a fabulous place to land at. I have always loved to learn new things, especially creative things.

        I think it is indeed, very important to realize the gifts you have and the degree to which you have them versus the gifts you want to have- though sometimes it can bring a sting with it when that appraisal doesn’t harmonize with the most desired outcomes. Some things I am better at than playing instruments…drawing, for example. But, when I was having to prioritize what brings me the most joy, it was one of the first hobbies to go when Tony’s therapy and behavioral challenges started becoming more intense. I also have to realize that I struggled to portray human emotion accurately sometimes in my art, which was why I always preferred flowers, toys, etc. as subject matter when it came to drawing or painting. But Hannah, oh she has a gift for rendering people. Sometime soon she’s going to let me post some of her portrait work…and she totally kicks my ass there. Writing is one of my strongest gifts, but I would probably be more interested in journalistic writing or poetry than books (though I did start one a few years ago that was quickly laid aside when things got intense with our son), simply because I like to do shorter pieces. My attention span for the things I create can be shorter, and a book is a longer endeavor.

        But my biggest gift has always been helping people, but my whole life I listened to one person after another tell me that wasn’t profitable enough and disparage the choices I wanted to make. You know, when Andy and I were dating and when we got married, I was making most of our money. I can make money for myself if I want it, and I don’t want to listen to another person try to shoot down what I want to do on the basis of how profitable they think I should want to be. I am at a point right now where if I were to be working, I want it to be a passion job that feeds my soul, because I can always do the creative stuff on the side if I want to and I feel confident that I can make enough money to provide what I need if that were required, and that is all the matters to me personally. When Tony gets into school, I’m going into one of the therapy fields so that I can provide supports to other low functioning families in my area, because there is such a shortage out here and I know what it is like to feel the worry and heartbreak of knowing your child needs those supports and not being able to find it. I have plenty of gifts, but helping others and fixing things have always been my super powers. And right now, that way of giving back means the most to me because I know some of what other parents in this position are going through.

        And the sharing bathroom things…you know, when you are a parent, love can teach you to make peace with some things that are very hard under normal circumstances to deal with. But it isn’t always easy even when you really love someone, that is for sure! And, I know that dogs can bring the hair!! Our St. Bernard, I was the one who was assigned to brush her…I swear, you could brush her for an hour, and there were still handfulls and massive clumps of fur coming off when she was shedding…holy cow, that job was never done! My clothes were practically as furry as she was sometimes, LOL! Well, take good care of yourself and best of luck as you pursue that list! 🙂

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      • Wow, I don’t think drawing could ever bring me that much joy. Not because it’s uncool or anything, but when I futzed around with it, I realized that there needs to be some intuitive understanding of where the light sources are in the drawing, and how it affects every object within it along with the perspective. I feel like I have that intuition with writing though, where I can kind of sense a character’s presence and psychology and let it flow into a linear narrative. It’s great that your (daughter?) is talented at drawing! Maybe she’ll do comic books one day! (A Door into Evermoor was heavily inspired by Ultimate Spider Man, specifically issue #13 where he almost kisses Mary Jane). Comic books were a huge influence on my writing process.

        Your helping people superpower is a great superpower to have! Especially since you can live off it, and it’s an easy source of self-worth (not that I believe people should ever have to defend it, it’s just that society tries to diminish it for better sales and whatnot) I tried to guilt myself into believing I had it, but people honestly just drain me. I hope I can help them in more indirect ways, like easing their stress or entertaining them with a well-written story.

        St. Bernard! One of my favorites! I always get them confused with bernese mountain dogs. Nothing better than hugging a big dog, or seeing them romp around with giant smiles! 😁

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      • I really loved Ramoth, our St. Bernard!!! Everything except the drool that is, LOL! She was a prolific drooler, as one would expect with that breed. She was very loving dog and very protective of us, I think she saw us as her children! She was my favorite of the dogs we had, though I suppose one shouldn’t pick favorites (I certainly never would with my children).

        You know, if me and my return comments start to be a drain, just like a comment and move on. I will understand if you need that kind of space. I don’t want to be a drain on anyone, it’s been delightful chatting with you on-line but I can chat someone’s ear off and that is for sure!!! If there were a 12 step program for that, someone probably would have staged on intervention by now, just saying.

        And the truth is, even though I love people and I love helping people, I always need a space each day away from people because their emotions press on me and I pick up and carry so much that I just need that time to not be carrying that or having those feelings pressing on me or I get grouchy because it starts to feel like too much. Typically, I try to comment on people’s posts instead of just liking them because I want to sent the message that you know, hey. I really thought about what you wrote, I don’t just give random likes. But I also don’t want you to feel obligated to engage with me all the time. Hope you have a fabulous day! 🙂 Ari

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      • SAme with me—don’t feel obligated to respond to something just because I commented. I’ve set my boundaries with comments and interactions, and it’s served me well so far. When I first started, I would respond at all hours of the day as fast as I could, and I almost went insane! (Half-kidding, but half-not.

        After my dogs died, I went back to work as a dog walker for awhile so I could pal around with a horde of dogs. I loved em all but I really loved the big ones, and I took a perverse pleasure when my dogs started howling and crying for me whenever I walked in (much to the dogsitters’ dismay). I probably would have loved Ramoth, lol!

        It’s important to get space from people because that would be a horrible life if we were expected to just continue helping people no matter how miserable we became. Gotta set those boundaries!

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      • I’ve never once felt obligated! I have enjoyed chatting with you 😀 That being said, I do drop off the map from time to time, and it’s possible I could sometime in the next few days. Our beautiful angel girl had a COVID exposure from her boyfriend, she is recovering really well, I’ve been mostly doing very well so far, probably because I’ve been recently boostered (just a bit tired and swollen lymph nodes…I had spent a fair bit of unmasked time around Hannah before we knew about the exposure, which is unavoidable if you’re a mom). But, if Tony gets this (and we’re all wearing N95s around the house trying to keep him from getting it, but still things can happen because nobody’s keeping them on to sleep) it could be a very different story for him. So if he gets sick, nobody could hear from me for like a week at least and it won’t be because I’m feeling drained by the conversation, it will be because when he gets really sick, he requires intensive nursing management.

        I have sometimes thought dog walking would be a cool thing to do! There’s a woman near us who walks dogs and makes artisan soaps as her two jobs, and every time I see her out walking while Tony and I are I think about how much fun that could be. I really love walking outside, I am one of those people that prefers physical activity where I can feel the sun and the wind combing over me, it just feels so much more joyful. Though, if we got a dog right now I’d probably be starting out with a smaller dog because Tony’s still a little scared of bigger dogs.

        Ramoth had a bit of a back story. Her first owner had abandoned her after she got pregnant with a litter of puppies, if I am remembering correctly, was before she was a year old. She was hunting to survive and she went after someone’s pet chickens, so the guy shot her in the eye they though with a pellet rifle. She survived, but was blind on one side, and was taken in to a rescue clinic, where my mom adopted her to be a companion to our new black lab, Beorn, because he would crash through the front window when we were gone from the house because he had really bad separation anxiety. We spent many months with a quilt covering the opening because she couldn’t afford to keep replacing it. I don’t think our family at the time could have afforded a St. Bernard otherwise, and I think because of how young we were, we kind of took the place of her puppies in her mind. Because she was blind on one eye, she’d be kind of clumsy if she went in to lick your face and sometimes a little too much teeth got involved, though not enough to injure, just sting. But I did just love her, she really was a neat dog!

        Well, I need to get going for now. Take good care of yourself! 🙂

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      • The feeling’s mutual—no obligation here! Every now and then I do like you do and just pretend that social media doesn’t exist. The last time I did that was in August or September.

        I’m boosted up myself. Felt it was the responsible thing to do because of jiu-jitsu, but it seems I always get weird skin issues a week or two after the shot.

        I’m glad Ramoth had a happy ending! I think that was why I was fine (after a few weeks) when my dog died, because I knew I had given him a good life. He had a bit of separation anxiety for a while, nothing as bad as that though. I kind of made a game of it–when he peeked in the shower, I’d pretend to turn into a zombie and lurch after him while making zombie noises. He’d run like hell, I’d go back in the shower, then we’d do it again.
        The floor got wet, but we both had fun, lol.

        Random question—since you’ve got a background in fantasy, what do you think of Tolkien? I respect him, but I don’t think his stuff aged very well, and I’m having a bit of fun in the new book making fun of him.

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      • That is what I say to myself about any of my rescue pets who passed away. Dickens, aka Catzilla, was a kitty that was thrown out a window by the truck driving in front of us while Andy and I were carpooling to work about a year before Hannah was born. The driver actually threw two kittens out the window and rolled over one themselves with their bac tire, but Dickens was able to avoid the tires and we pulled off the road, caught him, and took him to my vet (we already had two other rescued fur babies at the time, so I already had a vet). Until I became a parent of human babies, my animals were kind of like my babies and I have grieved for each of them…and maybe I spoiled them just a little. An emergency vet was astonished at the amount of money I was willing to pay to save Catzilla’s life after one of his escapades, but I sobbingly told him, “I don’t care how much this will cost, save my cat’s life!” But I know I did everything I could to give them good and happier lives than they would have had, and it is a thought that can bring peace.

        It sound like you had a lot of fun with your dog. What was his name? I am sorry for the grieving you have experienced! Pets are fabulous companions…although cats can sometimes be a bit spiteful when they’re feeling like you’re not giving them everything they want exactly the way they want it, lol. They don’t understand things like diabetes and insulin and reduced food and they will punish you for some of life’s necessities when it comes to ensuring their survival!

        And, I love random questions 😀 Ah, Tolkien, the venerable elder statesman of 20th century fantasy. Well, that’s rather complicated. On the one hand, I feel a sense of nostalgia about Tolkien’s work because my mom used to read to us from his books when I was a little girl (she was kind of Tolkien obsessed). Since it was one of the few times I can remember her really spending much time with us, I have a fondness for the books. That being said, there’s a dryness about them that never tempted me to read them after an independent reading as a teenager. Some books I will want to go back to and reread, like I love The Riddlemaster of Hed series. But there just isn’t that pull for me and Tolkien.

        Yet, his work has been heavily influential. I remember binge reading Terry Brooks when I was in elementary school, and you can really see the influence Tolkien had for him and other fantasy writers. I think others have tried to pillory Tolkien (Tony really loves veggietales Lord of the Beans, which kind of roasts the series a bit). I do know some writers wrote in a way about some issues that I never noticed as a young girl. L. Frank Baum for example. I was obsessed with the OZ books in early elementary school years, and when I looked at them as an adult, I was horrified at the number of references that I felt were racist. I think fantasy is a genre that can be easy to cloak certain biases in and justify it by saying, well, the author is just talking about another world. So I would have to review the texts a bit more to see how I felt about whether or not Tolkien was guilty of that in his writing, but honestly, I’d kind of rather read other things.

        I certainly do not find it any great blasphemy for someone who writes fantasy not to be entranced by his works though. They will not appeal to everyone (indeed, if I can’t bring myself to reread them they didn’t touch me as deeply as other works either), and it is nice to have a fresh take on things!

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      • It is a little weird, seeing widespread racism from way back when. Pretty sure a lot of it wasn’t malicious and just a product of the times, but who can say?

        Apparently, Tolkien was hassled about his distinct lack of important women in his books (Arwen didn’t kick ass like she did in the movies), to which he responded that Sam’s wife was absolutely crucial. I’m like—come on, SAM’S WIFE? Lol! No worries, though, it gives Erany something to take issue with. Personally, I never liked the portrayal of magic swords. In the books, Sting glows and evil races seem to hate them (could you argue the swords are racist?). As a kid, I loved reading through the magic items section in the DM’s guide, so I was less than impressed by LOTR swords. Even the movies didn’t do a great job with them, imo. I think Gandalf uses Orcrist to channel some lightning, but that wasn’t in the books. And when Aragorn draws Narsil after it’s reforged, it doesn’t glow or anything, he just looks really impressed, which I found a little lacking for arguably the most powerful sword in LOTR.

        All that being said, it gives me plenty of fodder to throw into my story. The few people I’ve asked about Tolkien say exactly what you do—respect the guy, but his stuff is like reading a history text—but it’s a different story in online forums. I’m not sure if people are trying to come off as purists or loyalists, but a lot of people swear up and down that he’s an acquired taste and really is entertaining. Not me, though—it took many stops and starts to read his books all the way through, and I never got sucked in to them like I hoped I would.

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      • I find it interesting that you should bring up the tepidity of his female characters, because I was reflecting this morning that I should have added that to my response, but it was already long enough as it is. However, it is hardly something he alone is guilty of so it didn’t necessarily come to mind as the first thing to lambast him for. Plenty of female writers even have a tendency to create heroines that are only viewed as strong because they’ve got a bit of temper. Being quick to act on an initial surge of anger isn’t actually a sign of genuine strength in my opinion (though certainly I have occasionally done that myself even). Many main plot points for female characters seem to pivot around accessorizing the male characters. So for women in this society, it’s something a great deal of art of nearly every kind is messaging them that this should be your only aim and value. And in fact, that is how most human cultures have viewed woman. I thank you for taking aim at that! 😀

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      • Honestly, I was going to go that route myself by originally making it a fantasy buddy-cop thing between Ren and Jon (interspersed with some Gyrax). But obviously I changed things up. I also realized the party is still kind of unbalanced with two ladies and five dudes, which will change throughout the story. That isn’t me kowtowing to PC culture, I just thought hey, here are some characters I want to introduce, why not make them women? While I love the Hobbit (and not LOTR, ironically) it’s kind of a huge sausage-fest with ten-plus interchangeable Dwarves. I can’t remember any distinguishing features from any of them except Thorin, to be honest. Also, instead of Ren being Jon’s main partner, it is obviously now Erany. We’ll see. I just throw a soft intention out there, and see how my muse responds. Usually the broad strokes hit me while I’m exercising, driving, or showering, and then neat specifics arise during the actual drafting. Being YA, I’d like to have strong characters in there that different folks who might be younger can relate to as closely as possible. Glad you are on board with it, and you’re very welcome! 🙂

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      • The concept of PC culture is, I think, becoming less relevant. We are quite divided culturally and as a society right now. To me it seems to be the messaging that is relevant to someone is more based on the group they personally agree with. And in regards to equality, for me, I think the pertinent question isn’t related to what is PC, but rather what should be? How should we view our wives, mothers, daughters? What kind of opportunities should be afforded each of us? Is it fair, or even relevant, to limit certain opportunities based on gender? My husband was once interviewed for a position that he found out later wasn’t really open. The owner of the clinic was just interviewing candidates in case his female provider didn’t come back from maternity leave…and she’d explicitly told him she would. I wonder, would he have done that for a male provider recovering from a surgery? Probably not.

        It is true that sometimes women will choose to stay home with their kiddos after birth, but many if not most really can’t afford to do that anymore. And indeed, at this woman’s level of education, that kind of decision would be even less likely. We operate so much from a position of bias on so many levels…some of the biggest companies in the world have a minimal female presence in the upper echelons of their management teams. And we should ask ourselves…why is that? Are women deficient in these skills? I certainly wouldn’t think that…you know, I could rant a really long time about this. So I’m just going to save everyone from an extended verbal deluge and say it’s a hot mess of inequality and I celebrate any efforts, fictional or otherwise, that work towards envisioning different possibilities.

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      • I’m pretty sure I agree with you on all that. I suspect most people who oppose that stuff in books and movies are really against a preachy or ham-handed vibe, which I am against as well, and is a definite danger with writing inclusive storylines (really wish the admiral and Poe in Last Jedi could have worked out the problem in a way that showed they were reasonable and able to think critically, instead of thumping their chests and showing how feisty and stubborn they were). There’s a few who are just dead-brained reactionaries who I don’t think will ever change their mind. Those people, I think, are just driven by fear. They need something to push against, and they need to feel better than everyone else because they lived through the old days which they associate with their youth and some kind of rite of passage.

        Didn’t strike me how weird my nineties comics and tv shows were until I went back and saw that marginalization wasn’t just a one-off fluke. Never even thought Friends was weird until way later! 😂

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      • You’re only “pretty sure?” 🤔 Maybe I should rant some more 🥸🤣
        In all seriousness though, I think it’s more complicated than fear for some people. Some people have a very dogmatic perspective about this. My former church for example, was heavily patriarchal. Just wearing pants to church as a woman can invite serious social unpleasantries, including people who will no longer even speak or say hi to you. For some groups, a rigidly defined perspective on gender and adherence to what they believe is the proper hierarchical nature has become a matter they’ve elevated to being necessary for eternal salvation. Though some perspectives are gradually changing in some of those groups, many people with that type of mentality aren’t open to different perspectives and they don’t want to see that kind of representation in entertainment either. They just see it as another example of how so much of the world has sunk into a babylon-like state. Those particular mindsets can be very difficult to share perspectives with because there’s not even an openness to different possibilities in many cases.

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      • Whoa, that’s nuts! From the outside looking, it seems silly and ridiculous, although it’s probably beyond frustrating if you have to experience it.

        I’ve got faith that in the long run, things will change. It just takes a while to shift from society-wide belief to law to “common sense.” I like to think of the law against interracial marriage, which only just changed in the late 60s.

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      • Oh, it felt more than a little nuts. I had been carrying our sweet Tony on my shoulders in a dress and heels, because it is also one of those organizations that wants you there every single week- though some of the members probably would have preferred Tony wasn’t there, I tried to minimize disruptions every way I could. But he kicked the hem of my dress above my head one week and flashed some dude from the ward after ours, and I’m not sure who was more embarrassed, me or him. So I took to wearing the pants to try and better support my son at church in a way that was safer and more comfortable for me while protecting everyone from those embarrassing moments. I was really upset with how things went down and had a lot of really strong emotions about it, though I was told exactly what I could expect. I was ready to leave the church at that time, but Andy asked me to stay for our family.
        So I handled things the way I handled them, and now here everyone in my family is, having made the choice on their own to leave for their own reasons. Sometimes all that is needed is a little patience for things to change. Sometimes however, patience isn’t enough. Sometimes it takes people sharing their stories and making sure they are not forgotten. It is an easy thing for a society to regress to more oppressive conditions. And I’ll leave it there, since I do remember that you “can’t with the rants.” 🙂 And no judgement on that…take good care of yourself! 🙂 Ari

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      • I’m glad that everyone in your family is on board with it, and has made the decision to join you as far as leaving the church! I remember when I was in a cult-lite my ex was super invested in it, while I liked to joke and make light of it, but even that difference, while we were both in, led to a lot of unnecessary arguments and fighting between us.

        As far as the rants…I think I’ve come to that view because I let a friend live with me who COULD NOT stop talking about politics in the same way rabid fans talk about sports teams. He just wanted to see people he didn’t like get crushed, and even criticized the people he DID like for not doing things the way he wanted them to be done. First thing he did when he woke up was go on insta and scroll through political unrest and oppression and start in on it, and no matter what subject I brought up, (he even framed sports as a way for elites to watch poor oppressed athletes destroy themselves for rich folks’ amusement) it always became about how someone was getting fucked, and how we needed to all fuck over anyone doing the fucking. When I suggested easy ways to start getting involved, he always made some excuse. So it’s not really the rants, per se, but negativity and the unwillingness to move toward something better (I guess I could make an argument for the “at least” thing here, because one of his primary tactics was saying it’s not that bad, at least I have this or that when I suggested stuff to do–in essence, settling for near-constant negativity). ANYWAAAaaaays…ironically, my rant has come to a close! 😅

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      • 🤣😆🤣🤣🤣
        I tend to refer to my former church as cult-lite also, though I find it is counterproductive to phrase it that way to current members or anyone who is considering joining. Matters of difference in orthodoxy and views on the group itself can become metaphorical and relationship landmines in a group like my former Church, which teaches that they have the only truth when it comes to spirituality and God. Literally they teach no other group has it right. I am currently reading a book by Thich Nhat Hanh called “Living Buddha, Living Christ,” and I really think there’s a great deal of truth in something he says: “if we think we monopolize the truth and we still organize a dialogue, it is not authentic. We have to believe that by engaging in dialogue with the other person, we have the possibility of making change within ourselves, that we can become deeper.” In my former church, divorce is common when one partner is less orthodox or when one partner leaves the church. I think many groups and many people struggle with this desire to have others conform to their way of thinking and that it leads to a lot of discord and strife. It leads to a lot of people feeling like they cannot be their genuine self if they want to maintain their relationships. My personal thing is I want to have authentic dialogues with people. I want to respect where they are, and maybe that will touch me and maybe it won’t. Maybe My views will change and maybe they won’t, but I always want to be open to being “deeper.” In situations like the one our family was in, they have to be handled very carefully. Many relationships perish in those
        types of circumstances. And now, nobody in our family believes exactly the same thing. And, for me, I think what can make all of that work is that openness to dialogue, that ability to detach ourselves from the need to be confirmed correct by having others adopt our views.

        And, I hear you on the negativity. When I am fully rested I am like a self-lit sunflower of getting things done and seeing what I can do to improve my circumstances. Even when I’m not getting enough sleep I still trying to fix things that I want to see improved, but I don’t feel like I internally glow as brightly on the emotional level. I have some people very close to me in my world that struggle with that kind of fatalism, people with deep depression struggles tends to. I’m trying to adopt a more stoic approach to interactions when I’m dealing with that kind of negativity. Sometimes it can be hard for a person who picks up on other people’s emotions not to internalize that, and my thing is just creating a mental boundary. That is their feeling, and their reaction. I do not need to let it affect me and I’m not going to. If their attitude affects circumstances that impact me, I will try to engage in a dialogue with them to see if we can’t troubleshoot the situation together. But it’s tricky. It’s always tricky when people are coming from two different places emotionally and mentally when it comes to problems and problem solving. Because at the end of the day, you can’t really engage in a relationship with someone expecting to change them. You can either accept where they are or can’t. Real life Belles are unlikely to change real life Beasts, because unless a person wants to change for themselves they generally aren’t going to and will only resent the person asking them to change. Just my thoughts. But, yeah, it’s not easy even for a self-lit sunflower to encounter those types of situations in their soil. 🌻

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      • I’ve had to sit friends down and tell them we’re just way too far apart on vibes, and we’ll probably drift apart, which is exactly what happened. As I’ve gotten older, my tolerance for toughing it out to prove that I can get along with people has gone out the window. I understand that a lot of people can’t do what I do, and just be by themselves whenever they feel like it, but even when I was married I realized the same thing you did–it’s their feeling and it’s not my business unless they ask for my help, and even then, they may just want attention, not actual change. In a way it’s kind of freeing–I’ll do my best to be happy and enjoy my life, and that may or may not inspire someone to do the same. But the big thing is, that it’s not my responsibility to make someone else happy. Sure, I can support them maybe with money or time and whatnot, but there’s no reason to stress out over someone else being miserable, or make myself miserable in some twisted show of ineffective support.

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      • Well, when you are a parent, life teaches you that some of the people you love the most will contrast with you like the night to the day. There is beauty in the night, but it is a very different type of beauty. So many things can be different, including problem solving styles and perspectives. But still there can be love, even when there are many things you don’t vibe on.

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      • Ok, and I do think I am going to add something else. Sometimes when you are a parent, that is a definitely a double edged sword- not just the realization that another person’s happiness shouldn’t be based on you, but that you can’t give it even if you wanted to. And there are some things that will make a parent wish they could give even the littlest of somethings along those lines. And when a child is beneath a certain age, there isn’t really a way to say to yourself “and now my job is done, this is on them at this point…” I’m not even sure I’ll be able to feel that way even when my children are grown… you just can’t divorce yourself from your kiddos. At least, I can’t. That is, I think one difference to being a bachelor, a freedom you have that some do not and cannot have. I always wanted to be a mother, and it has been everything to me, but it is an experience that will make you live both the joy and the heartache with a depth of no other experience I have known.

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      • For some reason, I have always really been opposed to having kids (just me). I think it has something to do with seeing how hard my mom worked when she raised me and my brother by herself. It’s always been hard for me to walk the middle road in that I’ve never really been good at expanding on activities aside from my own interests and whatever allows me to put food on the table in pursuit of those interests. I think it’s great that you always wanted to be a mother and that dream came true. Personally I wouldn’t be able to give enough of myself to a kid because part of me would always be trying to figure out how to write or work out or do some other hobby I wanted to do. Maybe once I’m rich and settled, I’ll think about adopting, but even then I’ll have to really make sure that it’s something I feel passionate about. I wouldn’t want to shortchange myself or any kid I lived with.

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      • You are wise to have recognized that about yourself and honored it. Some people really aren’t suited for parenthood, and a lot of damage can be done by having children when you know you don’t want them and aren’t really feeling capable of giving them everything that is required. My earliest memories go back to the crib days, so I always knew how my mom felt about me. My mother didn’t want children, I am the only planned pregnancy she had, and I was planned to save a marriage because not having children was a deal breaker for my dad…who ironically wanted children, just not for the right reasons. She had an abortion for a pregnancy between my brother and I, my brother and sister were accidental pregnancies that the respective fathers (my dad and his dad) wanted kept and so she did. And she did not want to be a parent, and we all got drug through that in ways that forever marked each of us. Children in general, regardless of what kind of memory they have, are often very intuitive about the feelings the adults around them have.

        I have always known I had the ability to nurture and I always wanted to be able to provide a safer spot for others to start their journey here on earth, but even that requires shaping. I did an extensive amount of reading, counseling, and educating myself so that I could be a very different kind of parent than what mine were. And at the end of the day, even I didn’t expect the depth of Tony’s challenges. I always wanted to adopt from the foster system because I understand some of what the challenges are there. But, the level of sacrifice Tony’s situation requires even has me saying my family is complete. It is important to know the limits of what you can nurture and sacrifice. A child can’t be exchanged or refunded, and it’s best to have one only if you are ready…only. Need to get going now, it’s our first day back to a full therapy schedule…take good care of yourself! 🙂 Ari

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      • I agree! I know other folks who didn’t really want to have kids, they just wanted a miniature version of them. I saw that and I realized if I had a kid, I would have to make sure that I was always trying to do what’s best for the kid and not try to fulfill my childhood fantasies through them by attempting to make them into a miniature Batman, LOL!

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      • Exactly! Even when you give birth to them they can turn out very different. I have some of my mother’s gifts, but we are quite opposite in many respects. And I gave birth to our sweet Hannah, who has some of my gifts, but is definitely a very different person in many respects. So many parents hope their children will be miniature versions of themselves and try to turn them into that (i.e. insisting a third grader learn higher level math and pulling her out of school to take her to your differential equation classes). But none of us have ever liked that, and the best gift we can give to our children is to respect that they are different people and allow them to develop the wings to be exactly what and who they are.

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      • P.S. What third and fourth grade me was actually obsessed with was drawing dinosaurs, unicorns, and exploding volcanoes. Especially exploding volcanoes. Even my unicorns had volcanoes behind them🌋 🤣 And I was already writing poems and short stories. If you had asked me what I thought just about the worst way to spend a day could be, it would have been learning math. And dissecting owl pellets was a close second 🤢🤮 So I commend you for realizing any hypothetical child of yours might not appreciate efforts to turn them into Batman👏

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      • Oh, naps, finger painting, etc…those are the best parts of parenting! The very best!!! Look, the world is constantly evolving, and the skills needed for “adulting” are forever changing. And many people aren’t either visionary enough or paying enough attention to people who are to anticipate what some of the most necessary skills for the future could be when it comes to instructing their kiddos. And, even if they did, that doesn’t mean those children are going to want to listen and follow those teachings. I am glad I got a taste of being able to be the crafting, zoo visiting, puppeteering parent I was with Hannah when she was younger, because Tony’s situation required a very different skill set. Many of the therapy strategies we have used have been my brain children, and occasionally I have been in the position of having to demonstrate and convince to therapists, etc. that my son was not a waste of time and that he can learn things and move forward. It’s a much more stressful type of situation, so I would take finger painting, tea parties, costuming, etc. any day…but I love both of my children and do what I must.

        And, I was more obsessed with consuming fantasy content in general than volcanoes, but I just really loved to draw them. I was heavily influenced by the footage of Mt. St. Helens 1980 eruption, which happened a couple months before my 4th birthday. I loved to draw voluminous, billowing smoke coming out of the volcanoes I drew. I found it soothing and therapeutic. And, as much as I’d love to blame the owl pellets on my parents (my step father’s degree is in zoology, and he loved taxidermy on top of that, so I do indeed have other similar unpleasantries I can land at their doorstep during those years which I will spare you from a narrative on), I really can’t because it was a standard part of science curriculum in Northern Arizona schools at that time. And, because we ended up living with my grandmother when I was in 6th grade, I got to do it more than once because Prescott schools did those projects different years than Flagstaff schools. They smell awful…digging through regurgitated rodents for every bone you can find so that they can be glued together was not and is not my idea of fun!

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      • Gross! I’m definitely first world when it comes to that stuff, LOL! A few years back I was all into the sacrifice/discipline stuff, so I decided to try exposure therapy with bugs by trying to touch them with my bare fingers, but hell no! I got no problem mushing them, but I’m not meant to conquer one fear after another just to prove I’m tough! I’m old and lazy! 😂

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      • I think there can be a benefit in exposing ourselves and facing things we are afraid of, to a point. Not everything is necessary to face, and recognizing that some things are a waste of precious life energy to meet in that way isn’t laziness. It’s a gift for prioritizing 😆 And, um, yes… dissecting owl pellets was gross. All three times I had to do it.

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      • We all have our things we struggle with. If a spider drops on me, I’m going to shriek too! 🕷️😱💀 But we did have to do a significant amount of handling of insects and other things in my household growing up… Sometimes you do what you have to to survive your circumstances, and people usually find out in those cases they can do more than they thought they could or that they would even want to under normal circumstances.

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      • Yeah I remember one time back on active duty I was sleeping outside and these big fat ants were crawling all over us. They weren’t biting, just tickling a bit. I was used to living rougher back then so I just snoozed (probably ate a few) but this guy who had come back from two months of leave couldn’t stop swearing and swatting at them. Definitely couldn’t be so composed now, LOL! Although ants don’t bother me that much. They’re like the least buggy of all bugs.

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      • And, I’m going to add that it’s one of the blessings of being an adult…being able to say I’m never going to be having pet tarantulas, black widows, rattle snakes (oh yes, they had one of those and no it’s wasn’t legal in our state at the time so far as I’m aware), etc. Life will send plenty of bugs a person’s way, but I never have to give them a permanent space in *my* home, lol!

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      • I don’t think I could have been nearly so sanguine about ants crawling on me in my sleep 😱 Ant venom is one of my insects related allergies. When I was in first grade, we were on the first grade field trip and I was sitting on a bench talking with one of my bestest friends at the time, a little boy named Willie, and I felt this thing on my leg and it was an ant. And within seconds I had a softball size lump that ultimately developed red tracers. A member of the school rushed me to the ER and called my parents… Ants and I have never really been close friends ever since😂 my reactions to them don’t normally get as dramatic anymore, but egg size swelling at the bite site is still a thing that can happen sometimes depending on the type of ant and how cranky my immune system is feeling…

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      • Oh, it’s a thing. And I have a one word best friend for anybody in those circumstances who has ants that could potentially invade their home: Amdro. 😈🐜💀⚰️😁

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      • It’s not that I don’t feel bad for them … I am even soft hearted about killing the insects I don’t like, I don’t like killing anything (as long as a spider doesn’t have venom that is neuro or necrotoxic I will just transport it out of the house rather than killing it), but I will do what I must when I must. We get back scorpions here sometimes and I show those no mercy because because their venom can have more serious impact. I only go after the ants if they start to invade the house. Amdro will kill every ant in a colony, so as as long as they are not invading the house I don’t go there. We have a group of geckos in our backyard now that tend to take care of a lot of insects that could come in the house, and I prefer to encourage a safe spot for the geckos and lizards….less chemicals that way and they are so stinking cute 😍

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      • You’re the second person I know to say that geckos are cute. 🤔 What’s the deal with that? Is it because they’re tiny and they scurry around with a ton of enthusiasm? Do they have little creature sass?

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      • I wouldn’t want to live in Australia either…they have some creatures with damned lethal venom! And some of the spiders in Brazil? No thank you!!!So, with the bark scorpions, one of the few things I benefited from that I will actually credit my stepfather with is that, because he has positioned himself as a scorpion expert in the southwest, I knew a bit about these beasties before I realized this entire area is crawling with them. In fact, they come inside our home from time to time (and in fact one crawled in Hannah’s bed 3 weeks after we moved in and stung her, she was trying to club it to death with a toy dinosaur). They are virtually impossible to get rid of via exterminators, especially if they have a nest under your house, and you are best off manually hunting them at night with a black light and diminishing their numbers that way. Their venom can cause pretty intense sensory disturbances (Hannah for example couldn’t handle anything but room temperature stuff touching her skin for a few weeks, and even then she was very sensitive about that). So, I will hunt those. Cats around the house are also helpful, because the venom doesn’t really impact them the same way and they are quite good at killing them.

        In terms of the geckos, you know, sometimes there is just something intangibly difficult to describe about why some things resonate with us and others don’t. I do happen to be a fan of sassiness (no surprise there I am sure), and given that I loved dinosaurs and think dragons are fabulous, are we surprised that I find geckos cute? …but aside from that, geckos have big, round eyes that gives them an extra bit of adorableness. And, anything that eats our black widows and other insect pests in either of the yards is going to have seriously upgraded cuteness in my opinion, lol!

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      • That dinosaur needs to be upgraded into an enchanted bludgeon, +3 against scorpions! 😂 Usually I scoop up bugs with a big wad of tissue, but I imagine scorpions are trickier because of how far the tail is from the body…

        I could definitely get behind some geckos. There’s a couple newts around here but they really don’t seem to have much personality. I’ve enjoyed my stints in the desert, but I don’t know about living there, because I’m just not down with the bitey stingy critters! Aside from shaking my boots out before I put em on, I never caught a hint of any wildlife in the desert. Never saw scorpions or lizards or any of that. Lizards would be cool though…I loved dinosaurs too. Think I saw Jurassic Park over ten times. I used to make it a point to go see Komodo dragons in the zoo before I realized zoos were kind of sad except for the one near me, which is apparently one of the few good ones.

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      • Ok, yeah, I definitely wouldn’t recommend approaching a bark scorpion with a tissue, you would definitely get stung! Those things are aggressive too, so they won’t stop with one whack at you… if you want to scoop it, best going for the salad tongs. I don’t transport those outside of the home…those I kill, but they have a pretty tough exoskeleton, so you really have to whack them a lot if carpet is involved. When I am hunting them outside, I use a hammer.

        You know desert wasn’t my first or second choice. I’m not going to put you in the middle of that, but at this point, Hannah is super happy here and all of Tony’s services are here. So, here we are for now at least. We get coyotes out here, we sometimes run into them when we are out walking. We get mule deer, javalinas, lots of bark scorpions, rattlesnakes (actually had one come into our garage), scorpions, the ever dreaded loxosceles arizonica (I don’t show those any mercy either)…all part of living at the base of a desert mountain. Sigh.

        You know, the funniest part of Jurassic Park to me was the part where they were talking about how velociraptors can’t use door knobs and then you slowly see the knob turn 😀 Lol, I thought that was hilarious! I actually wanted book after book after book with dinosaurs when I was a little girl.

        Zoos can be kind of sad. I understand that. Hannah always loved to go to the local zoos, but I supported the Phoenix Zoo over the other one out here because I think they do a better job of providing appropriate spaces for the animals. It is hard to see something accustomed to beings so free in the wild caged and miserable. I need to get going, I have a therapist coming in this morning… take good care of yourself! 🙂 Ari

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      • Well, that all sounds better than ticks–I’m glad I’m not living on the East Coast or in the Midwest anymore. But my first choice is west coast, now I just gotta get that beach-overlook penthouse with an amazing indoor-outdoor space for grilling, relaxing, and dog-spoiling, lol! San Diego is good for now, but I’d like to try Hawaii one day, though they also have big creepy crawlies, specifically centipedes.

        That’s nice that you have a zoo that is a little more spacious for its inhabitants; I have no problem going to the San Diego Zoo for that same reason. (wish I could pet the koalas, but alas. I guess that’s the only reason I’d live in Australia–they’re overrunning the suburbs so I’d have a chance at making friends with one.) Seaworld, though, definitely off my list!

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      • Unfortunately, I have more bad news for you my friend about the desert in the Southwest. 🤣 My parents used to move us around a lot, so I’ve lived in a lot of places in Arizona. Tucson has ticks. Lots of ticks. And I even remember a few in Flagstaff when I was younger, but Tucson was the worst and you are right they are yucky😨😝 Nothing worse than waking up and finding you’ve got a tick growing on the back of your scalp 😱 okay, that was definitely melodramatic because there are definitely worse things but I wasn’t a fan of it still!

        I’ve only been to the San Diego zoo once, when I was much younger more than 30 years ago. I remember it being quite nice and would have no problem visiting it again, though there’s enough people going I don’t think I could get Tony through it anytime soon. Only went to SeaWorld once also, and that made me so sad I have never been interested in trying to take my children there, so I get that one in my own way also. I do think the Phoenix zoo does a decent job of providing adequate enclosure, I really dislike the limited space that wildlife world zoo out here provides most of its denizens so I tend to avoid it unless I had to go for a school field trip. I’m guessing Hawaii would be lovely (so I have never been, I am only speculating based on video footage) though the cost of living I’ve heard is quite high, and you know we have centipedes out here also and they’re not so bad. You could probably learn to live with them…😊

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      • Ticks! NO!!! Dammit, I always considered the southwest as kind of a low-key second or third option, but maybe not so much anymore. I’ve been to the CA desert as well as Albuquerque for a bit, but never spent any real time as a resident.

        It’s always been a casual dream of mine to have a home base in Hawaii, then sail around to small islands and just hang out by myself, eating fish and whatever fruit is growing off the trees. Everyone talks about island fever where there’s not much to do, but I’m pretty routine and insular anyways, so I feel like that’d be fine by me. Plus I think Hawaii has warm summer rain. That’s one of the few things I miss about the east coast–warm rains!

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      • LMAO! About the ticks, anyways. I don’t know anybody who loves dealing with those. So, it depends where you go in the southwest. I have lived all over the Phoenix metro area the past 25 years, ranging from the far east side to the far west side and never encountered a tick. Tucson is a different story, and other parts of Arizona are a different story. But I don’t remember them being a problem in Prescott, Bisbee, Ehrenburg (oh yes, we’ve even lived in that armpit back in the late 80’s) either, so I think it just depends on where you live in the southwest.

        Being insular is nice sometimes, truly it is. And so are warm rains. And so is a quieter, simpler life…that one I think is nice all the time. I hope you are able to have those things for yourself wherever you are. I need to get going, Emily is coming over for tea and cookies this morning. Even though she doesn’t do therapy with Tony any more, she’s still a close friend and we do that Sunday mornings… Take good care of yourself! 🙂

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      • I am glad you get to have that for yourself! I don’t think I ever appreciated when I was single exactly how uncomplicated my life was and how much of a blessing that could be. Of course, I traded it for something I wanted, which was the ability to have a family of my own. I love my family, but I have to say, if something ever happened to Andy (aside from the fact that Tony’s situation will forever make me undatable as long as he’s a member of my household, which will be until I am physically unable to provide the care he needs, so it’s not really a bridge I would have to cross anyways either way) I don’t know that I would ever want to be married again. So, I am absolutely not going to judge you or anybody else who wants anything different.

        For me, I have had to redefine what a quiet life would look like for me. My circumstances require me to be doing therapy 7 days a week. I don’t get a day off. So, a quiet life might look like the ability to just say “hey, I’m going to hike and do yoga and garden today, because we’ve passed the need for 7 days a week of therapy.” I always like to be able to get together and converse with friends, but just the ability to not be so hyper scheduled…that is the kind of quiet I am hoping the next three years will bring to me. Or even to actually sleep in if I wanted to? Or if the terrors of perimenopause kept me from sleeping well until late in the morning, to be able to say, hell, I don’t need to be anywhere, let’s catch up on few of those hours of lost sleep! Sigh. Someday. I’m at the point where I’m about to hit our local school district with an IEP meeting request that will involve agreement to take Tony into the school they’d want to place him in for public therapy, so I’m maybe 8 months out from him being able to start part time at a school. It won’t get me closer to sleeping in, but it will start to wind down the therapy programs a bit…so, some day…some day.

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      • I really doubt I could ever be married again…I’m with you, I know the pitfalls all too well to give it another chance. Even after I got divorced, it took a while for me to adjust to the idea that I don’t need to accommodate anyone else in my own home, but once I embraced it, I realized it was a big deal for me.

        I don’t know…never say never! Let’s keep focused on that possibility to one day sleep in! Seems like easier days ahead, so as you say, some day. Some day, “some day” will be right around the corner! 🙂

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      • Well, I don’t often like to speak in absolutes, so I can’t say what I would never do, just what I am less likely to do 😉 You are right that it takes a lot of accommodation and compromise to work with even living with a person, much less marriage. When two lives are merged, it definitely changes what a person can do, even when there are a lot of common interests. And my mate and I are pretty dissimilar. Our dating or marriage or partnership in general was never based on common interests or ways of handling general life matters, it’s based on the fact that he’s not a douche. But if I were in a position to be doing differently for the future, I probably would.

        Some things I like just on principal. For example, I like the fact that it’s legally an option for me to marry a woman should I feel like dating a woman if anything happened to Andy, but…that’s kind of because I don’t like being discriminated against and having my options limited because of that. If it were incredibly important to a future partner, I would not be so opposed as to say never, but dating probably would not even my radar if I were ever singled up in the future. You know, I really hate math, the only thing I loved about it was statistics. I am forever tied to my children, and one child in particular really shapes the odds in terms of what is possible that way, and the odds aren’t pretty. So I don’t fight that idea, I accept it for what it is.

        Which, brings me to my next point. Once you have children, if you are present for them in a way a parent should be, accommodations are always a part of the equation…at least, while they are living with you, and sometimes even after they leave. I am a person that likes to have things more simplified than they are in our home, and children will have their own personalities and needs that can encroach and modify what a person wants for themselves. Truly it is a daily exercise in defeating selfishness to be the best parent I can be. But in some ways, that has made me better, whether I get to sleep in or not 😀 But, yeah, Tony’s therapy programs are starting to bring us to a point where I will slowly be able to transition him into a school…and that will at least give me a few moments for myself, and that I am looking forward to (and I say that while feeing much love for my kiddos, it’s just I am still a person with needs too in all of this, and I’ve had to do a whole lot of burying them and pretending like they don’t exist the past few years to pull of some of what has been going on). Well, gotta get going. Therapy time… wishing you a wonderful day! 🙂

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      • I get it. You gotta go with the thought feels best, or you’ll drive yourself crazy even if you have a billion dollars, get to sleep in, and live on the moon.

        Pretty amazing that same sex can marry each other nowadays…when I was a kid, I never thought it would happen in my lifetime.

        The accommodations thing really makes me consider what step I’m taking next. I think when I go back to living with dogs, I’m going to foster big old dogs so other people can pay the bills and I can just laze around with them and take them on easy walks. Even then, I’ll have to make some major accommodations–I’ll have to try and stop squiggling so much in my sleep or I’ll piss them off when they’re snuggling! 😅

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      • 🤣 Yeah, when I was younger there was so little tolerance for nonheteronormative relationships in general, and marriage… definitely not. Really when I was growing up, there wasn’t even much of discussion or public language being used to provide any sense of normalcy or identity to people who were Bi. It was kind of like mainstream public conversation wanted to put you very neatly in one box or the other. Relationships aren’t easy even in typical circumstances, and ours aren’t typical. Andy and I have been able to make all of this work, and I have always been grateful for the way he has remained committed to being present for Tony as a father. Many men not only leave any circumstances, but then they don’t really co-parent either cuz they just want to pass out of these circumstances. He’s a very good man. Neither of us are perfect. We are on this ride as long as we need to be, but definitely life has caused me to reflect differently upon what I would do if something happened to him. Because all of this has been incredibly arduous. And definitely I would make different choices than what I would have when I was younger, and I would probably prefer to remain free in those circumstances should they arise.

        You know, I think the dogs will get over it and forgive you😂

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      • That’s great! I always wanted to have a relationship with a bi-lady (for obvious reasons) but after I had a few threesomes, I was WIPED OUT! It’s just way too much work for me; I can’t keep track of who’s doing what to whom, and who’s turn is it to get what done to them, LOL! Sex stuff aside, I think that’s awesome that you managed to make things work.

        The dogs probably would forgive me. I gotta get rich first, though, so I can hire cleaning folks so I don’t spend a good chunk of my day cleaning up hair. I used to construct big piles of hair and joke that I made a clone of my dog.

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      • Well, I will be the first person to tell you as I get ready to stare down our 19th anniversary that I think that there is more to an enduring partnership than sex. Sex is great, but if that is the only thing a relationship is based upon…it’s going to burn up with the hormones.

        Everyone is different. I personally never felt comfortable being fetishized, I always want to be valued for me and not just who I am happy to sleep with per se. Being Bi doesn’t mean I automatically opt for non-traditional relationship structures. I could be very comfortable in those, but the relationship I have was forged in a super conservative religious denomination that views my very nature as sinful. Andy does not, but our relationship has always been closed by virtue of where and how it was formed, and will stay closed as long as we are together. His feelings matter to me and I respect what he wants. Though we are very different, we do have a friendship that transcends sex or my sexuality in general. If I ever decided it was really critically important for me to have something different, I would show him the respect he deserves and have the conversation with him up front and then handle things appropriately from that point on. For all of it’s challenges, we have a beautiful family together, and that has been a gift in my life despite the harder moments and some of the things I gave up along the way.

        For me personally, being rich is one of those things that doesn’t hold a lot of appeal. It is nice to have enough to have one’s needs met, but past that and you just become a target for people looking for a mark. But that’s my mentality on it…obviously it is something that is important to you, and I honor your right to value a different journey. I hope you are able to have and find the things you are looking for. I think fostering animals is a cool goal though. I personally am so maxed out right now in terms of care that I am giving to everyone in our household that I couldn’t even begin to process being able to give enough time or emotional energy to doing that right now in my life. But maybe someday. And you are right, dogs shed so much! When we had Ramoth and Beorn (Beorn died when I was 17, Ramoth when I was 19, so it was many years), the house was flooded with clumps of fur floating around like tumbleweeds.

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      • I respect your stance. Mine is that I was in a sexless marriage (for the last few years) so I can’t go back to that. That’s why I think I’m so big on my personal space, especially if I’m in a relationship; living with other people makes it much harder for me to keep liking them.

        For me, becoming rich is just the next step forward. It takes a strict backseat to time freedom, which I have right now, but it’s not about the numbers as much as the freedom and certain checks in boxes as far as things I want to experience. I would never, EVER become a wall street broker because those first few years where you’re working nonstop sounds like hell. I’d much rather take the infinitely more enjoyable longshot of writing books or playing the lottery, even. I’d like to get stem cell shots, a penthouse condo overlooking the beach, three dogs, but I go against the grain when it comes to travel–going somewhere strange and figuring out a new routine and all that sounds like a giant pain. Although it’d be nice to experience certain places as a rich person, specifically New York City.

        I don’t think I took the dog hair to the bleeding edge; I just saw a video where someone assembled enough dog hair to where it looked like a somewhat flattened copy of their dog lying down, and the dog was FREAKED OUT by it! Hilarious! 🤣

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      • Ok, I know me well enough to know I might word bomb in my response, but I’m going to kinda try not to, because I have a therapist showing up in a few minutes. Probably headed towards abject failure on avoiding that though, knowing me. So, you know, I think it is a great thing that you know what is important to you in relationships, what is meaningful to you, what you can and can’t live with. I am absolutely not here to judge your for anything that matters to you, even if our perspectives might be a bit different on a couple of points.

        I think my perspective on the sex thing is multi-factorial. So, while obviously there is an emotional intimacy component that can be there in a relationship, if it’s just about sex, I am not hanging my happiness on someone that way…I’ve got hands and I know how to use them! Second, you know, lots of things can impact sex drive or even the capability to have sex. My childhood left many marks on me, but one was the feeling that I would want to be loved for myself, and now what I was capable of doing for a person (or looked like) because many things can change that. And I try to love the people in my relationships that way also. So if my mate were in a position where they couldn’t, I am absolutely not going to be the bitch that says calls it quits for something that can’t be helped.

        For many women approaching 40, the libido goes way up. Not everyone, but that’s a boat I am in for sure. But then, the stress of our personal circumstances has been so incredibly soul crushing that it would have destroyed just about anybody’s libido. I write just about Tony’s stuff on our blog, mostly. But there’s a whole other world of intensity that never makes it onto those pages, and HOLY SHIT! There are some days where I start out the day feeling that I have the libido, and by the time the day is done, the libido is dead on the floor and past the point of CPR. That’s not every day, but for families such as ours, so many things an be hard that I just can’t base my romantic relationship decisions on sex or sexuality. When we are able to come together that way, I value that time, but…you know, sometimes life is hard. I’m very used to not getting everything I want exactly the way I want it, so I just focus on appreciating what I have.

        I think for someone not in our circumstances where there wasn’t a medical reason for the lack of intimacy, yeah man, that would be brutal and I can see that leading to the death of a relationship for sure. And living with people is always hard. I have things that really push my buttons when it comes to living with people, but I look at my children and I am thankful every day for them. People don’t think Tony has a personality to interact with, but he does, and when I see him laughing or happy or being mischievous, you know…sometimes I just do a lot of taking a deep breath and remembering that the reason certain things bother me is a limitation within me and is all about what I prefer, and it’s not the other person’s fault. That’s just me. And now I’m ranting and should probably just stop typing and let you get back to your day, I certainly have no shortage of things I need to be doing. None whatsoever…take good care of yourself! Thanks again for being such a great sport when I am wordy AF! 🙂 Ari

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      • You sound super busy! No worries about the wordiness. I was somewhat aware of the libido for women over 40…I’ve always been subconsciously attracted to that age range, even when I was in my twenties, LOL!

        I guess as far as living with someone or establishing a sexual dynamic, I’d rather keep things simple, experiencing what I have with marriage and whatnot, but I get that everyone has a way that suits them best. When I was younger, I was like many young people in thinking that my way was common sense and I was puzzled (sometimes irritated) when others didn’t do as I did, but sex especially creates such a wide range of individual preferences that having a self-centered view only comes back around on people in a not-so-pleasant way. I LOLed reading a reddit by women who were ranting about how they were sick of pretending how specific traits about wieners didn’t matter (not just size, but they went all into shape and color), and they proceeded to unload about all the ugly dicks they’d seen. 😂

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      • I’m not just busy, (although I am painfully that too), I’ve been dealing with things that carry a heavy emotional weight. I have done what I can to offload as much as I can when I developed POTS after going into anaphylaxis last year, but the schedule is still 7 days a week and more intense than most people would want. It’s more intense than I want, but it’s what is required for the moment.

        So, when it comes to a person’s libido at a specific age there can be a wide variance depending on somebody’s health condition, how they take care of themselves, that sort of thing. I found the increase of libido to be true for me and almost one of nature’s ironic points that this increase is generally happening at the same age many men start to feel a decrease in libido. Thankfully we have all of those super stressful things going on in our lives to tame although surging hormones for me and keep them in check 😅🤣🤣

        I feel like communication with a person’s partner around sexual matters is super important, and this type of communication can avoid a lot of misunderstandings and disappointed expectations. Obviously it’s not going to help if there’s a huge difference in sex drive, but I think it’s also important for partners to know if that exists. I think you are right, that many people when they are younger often assume other people think like they do. Hell, I find many people my age still do the same thing! Case in point, as a person who doesn’t even think that a penis is necessary for a great sexual experience, I can’t even picture myself having that kind of conversation with one of my friends in real life much less going to Reddit to complain about the appearance of anyone’s nethers. I guess that matters to some people, but I have never cared about someone’s genitalia that way. There is no greater aphrodisiac in my opinion than being well treated, so I tend to be far more concerned about how I am treated than what somebody’s anatomy looks like. But that is just me and how I personally think about these things… gotta get going 😁

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      • I’ve been in similar places with the super busy schedule, where minutes matter and the stress lurks throughout the day. I hope your health gets better; I know what it’s like to have chronic body stuff, which has formed a big life goal for me: get enough money for the rich people treatments like stem cells and hyperbaric chambers.

        I didn’t think the wiener mattered that much either, except for being above a minimum size, but then this lady I hooked up with went all in depth about the various features, but I figured she was just an anomaly. Then I come to find out that there are a lot more ladies who are particular about em, which made perfect sense to me. One of them complained that men get to have all kinds of preferences about each body part on a woman, so now it’s time to stop pretending that wasn’t the case when women looked at men. I was kinda nervous reading the dealbreakers, but I fist-pumped after I realized I was in the clear! 🤣

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      • And, I forgot to add I think it is a wise thing to realize that not being attentive to ( or assuming someone wants the same thing, or not even bothering to find out) what a partner wants is a recipe for bad things all around, unless the other person is using you for something else and just doesn’t care (ick!!!). Kudos that you recognize that, not everyone does…

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      • It was a bit selfish on my end–I just wanted to smooth over interactions with folks, plus I wanted to stop being so negative. When I assumed everyone thought like me, then judgment naturally followed, because if they did things not according to my values, then they were either stupid or immoral.

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      • Well, I do think in our society there has been this sense that men could have all sorts of preferences but a woman just needed to meekly and silently accept whatever she got in a man. I remember I was on a first (and last, because he asked for a second and I definitely decline) where he was asking me so many questions about my health, my job (to determine if those met his satisfaction in terms of quality, money making potential, etc)…the type of personal questions that had me struggling to keep from asking him sarcastically if he’d also like me to stand on a block and open my mouth so he could count my teeth. So, for some women, I imagine that looks like empowerment to be able to give voice to those kinds of thoughts, and I don’t judge them for that.

        I think my views are possibly more anomalous when it comes to women or people in general. For me, it was really important to me to be with someone who was kind and would treat me and any kids we had well. I find those kinds of characteristics far more attractive than physical ones, though certainly I have things there I like. I have just found that when someone has an attractive personality to me, the rest just automatically becomes attractive whether I would have initially found it that way based on physical appraisal only.

        I think being judgmental is an easy trap to fall into. I have for many decades been trying to be as open minded and accepting as I can be, however, the greatest push towards killing any judgy tendencies within me actually came to me from being Tony’s mom. In the early years especially I would have so many people saying things to me, and I found myself thinking “wow, you really have no fucking clue what I am doing, what is going on with him.” People were very quick to make suggestions as if it was clearly a lack of what I was doing that was responsible for his problems, and I was spending literally ever waking moment I could doing therapy and dealing with things most of the people around me wouldn’t have wanted to deal with (like holding him for six hours a night to keep him from self-harming) and those were still the challenges we were having. And it made me realize I didn’t know shit about other people’s lives and what they were doing, even when I thought I did. Just because I saw something doesn’t mean they weren’t trying everything they could to make things go differently.

        You know, at least I can say with the POTS, while I can’t do some things as rigorously as I used to, I’ve been able to manage it so that I can do everything I need to and still have a decent level of physical activity. I feel pretty blessed and lucky there. Perhaps I may not be able to get my autonomic nervous system to go back to handling my standing and moving heart rates completely normally, perhaps it will only happen when we are able to tame the stress more. Things like this have just tested my problem solving skills, but haven’t really kept me from finding ways to enjoy my life.

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      • I think that your statement about men and women is fairly accurate. I started out wanting to be noticed for my character, then when I realized that Asian men were allowed to be attractive and I checked off a fair amount of boxes, I loved being objectified. I cannot lie–it’s pretty awesome when ladies bug me for a d-pic or smack my ass like I’m a piece of meat 🤣 (it doesn’t happen often, which also makes it extra awesome; usually I just get a smile or the subtle stuff like hair flips, walking unnecessarily out of one’s way to be closer to me, or looking at me out of the corner of their eye and then avoiding my gaze when I look back) I’ve heard of men being asked out by women–I think that would be neat as well.

        I only really started acting on my belief that folks thought differently when I came late to the game at social media (started in my thirties around 2015 for advertising books). I used to logically wrestle folks into submission online (and I was into actual logic, like syllogisms and fallacies and all those formulas that look like math), then I realized it was exhausting and there were too many of them, so if someone disagrees and they’re being provocative, I usually just try to agree with whatever I find positive in their argument and leave it at that. Or I wish them well as specifically as I can (usually has to be vague when I disagree with them but I don’t want to say why)

        I’m glad that with the POTS, you can at least dance. I heard awhile ago that dancing more than any other exercise releases dopamine and serotonin, and personally I also believe it’s got innate healing qualities because of the good vibes. Love the positive attitude!

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      • Some of your feelings about objectification definitely illustrate how differently people’s experiences, beliefs, and feelings can be on the matter (literally no judgement, maybe some of my views would be different if my experiences had been different, who knows). My views on objectification were shaped as a young child. I had nude pictures of me taken definitely without my permission or consent as a child of about 9. One of the many reasons my step-father is not welcome in my life or my children’s. For the most part, I try not to think of where those are or all of the places they could be. And that’s just one example. I know I have a pretty face, and I know as a woman I am buxom. And I’ve never wanted to be objectified for that. In fact, it’s often not a great experience for a woman when somebody does take notice that way. I had someone who lives in our neighborhood take notice of me a couple of years ago, and started showing up on our therapy walk routes, playing music my husband and Emily described as “make out music” every time I passed his house (because it got to the point where I wasn’t wanting to walk alone with Tony for a period of time because of it, others got to witness these things), that sort of thing, and it lasted for about 18 months…it was pretty uncomfortable, and when someone is that persistent, it gets scary even.

        And, for women, the repercussions of nudes being out there just aren’t the same. There was a woman in the media because she sent nudes to the man she’d been dating over a year (they both worked together at a school). They broke up, he leaked them…she got fired. I saw an interview once, I believe it was with one of Charlie Sheen’s former Goddesses, and she talked about how she couldn’t even get into nursing school because of her history in porn. Literally that was the reason they told her she was being rejected. Men usually don’t have their careers and their reputations destroyed the way most women do about these things. So, as an adult, nobody has gotten nudes from me. Nobody- not even Andy. If he wants to see me naked, he’s got access to that in person any time we’ve got the privacy to make that possible. Because once those pics have been taken, I don’t have control over what happens to them. And even though I can’t work at anything other than Tony’s therapy right now, somebody I will be able to return to that and it’s a matter of protection for my options.

        Well, you made it to social media sooner than I did, lol! I’ll get around to it, but yes, people can really get into intense discussions when it comes to trying to prove what they believe or think. A discussion is an awesome thing if it doesn’t lead to hard feelings… yet with a well constructed debate, if you really know how to debate, you can win without even being correct in those types of discussions. I personally think the truth should win, not the better debater. You are right, I think, that some people are just happy to keep battering away at you. That’s the reason I committed to myself to have an end date for the amount of support I was willing to give to former members of our church on their on-line platforms. Constantly crossing swords on-line with people involved in LDS apologetics is just an energy drain. Highlighting the positives is a great communication strategy, I applaud that and often try to do that myself. Not always…but often.

        And with the POTS, I can dance, do fast paced two hour walks, the rower for about 16 minutes before I need a break, the exercise bike for 30…really, given that they can’t medicate me because of how low my resting heart rate is, lifestyle changes have done a lot for me. I can’t jog very long, I can’t sprint very long, and I can’t go up stairs for a workout without taking frequent walking breaks. But as limitations, those aren’t bad. I’m able to stand all day if I need to on top of all of those things and participating on Tony’s therapy work, and that’s a better place than many people who can’t be medicated get to. I might want it all, but what I have is enough. And I do love to dance, so…I still have good things even in this. Sorry for the lengthy response…really, probably I should get a twitter at some point so that I have no choice but to learn how to condense my thoughts!

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      • Pictures and stalking?? Shaking my head, I really have no idea where the urge for that stuff comes from. Personally, I think I like being objectified because being an Asian guy in nineties high school pretty much made you undatable except for a select few. Honestly, though, I think that was mostly in my head because when I think back on it with my better understanding of how ladies show interest (which is still, admittedly, not that good an understanding), I’m pretty sure a good amount of girls I liked liked me back, but I just bought into the societal idea that Asian men didn’t have sex appeal. The bias against women in those dynamics has always been unfair, but I hope things get better soon. I feel like they have been slowly getting better, but time will tell.

        Pretty impressive you can dance with those limitations, dancing destroys me, lol! Probably because I’m not that good a dancer yet. 😅

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      • Yeah, people who do those types of things (i.e. stalking) generally don’t think they’re doing things that are out of line. I know my stepfather never thought he was being out of line, the problem was always with me if I objected as far as he was concerned. I think the guy from my neighborhood obviously felt like what he was doing was okay, but at the point where he’s driving around the neighborhood trying to find us on our therapy routes and riding his bicycle looking for us on our therapy walks, and at the point where he’s got the therapy walking schedule and routes memorized and he’s always somewhere along them to try to meet me…yeah, he’s crossed more than a few lines into creepyville. The entire hab and ABA teams knew about him and the situation including clinical supervisors, with Casandra and Emily frequently being present for this, we needed to make sure everyone was comfortable (safe) and if they weren’t, we needed to figure out ways to modify what we were doing.

        Yeah, sometimes we miss what others could find attractive and I physically or otherwise, we aren’t always our own best judge. I am certain they’re probably were girls that would have been more than happy to date you in high school.

        And in terms of the POTS, one of the benefits that came to me from needing to learn how to train myself when it came to my strength training when I had to do a lot of lifting and carrying of Tony when he was younger, was that I had a very good understanding of how to physically progress something. So at the point they were diagnosing me with POTS, and then the cardiologist’s office decided they didn’t want to see me at any point my husband was treating covid patients (he just started a new job this month, but he is still Frontline so…) I used what I learned from all of those books I read to create a series of progressions that would help my body tolerate first standing for longer periods of time and then progressing up physically. Because I knew from the meeting with the electrophysiology cardiologist right before they told me they wouldn’t see me when he was treating covid patients that they couldn’t medicate me because of my resting heart rate, so all I had were lifestyle changes. Research and a good plan and modifying things when needed as long as they were needed got me where I am, but it has taken a year and I had a bit of a setback with the booster because it caused the flare up and then our covid exposure. But I still feel lucky to be where I’m at compared to where I could be… I was hoping the progressions would have returned my system to normal by now, but until we can consistently get me 7 hours of sleep at night and the stress goes down more it just may not be enough. Dancing doesn’t challenge my system as much as climbing, so I can tolerate that pretty well and keep a heart rate within a range that safe for me. Take good care of yourself! 😊Ari

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      • It’s crazy imagining an adult doing that to another adult. The closest I ever came to that was relishing the routes between classes where I would get to look at girls I liked, but I would never have thought to take a different route or play music to make a certain girl uncomfortable. People definitely need hobbies, and I don’t mean that in a flippant way. I see folks without meaning or self-validating activities go deep into conspiracy land or doing that kind of trollish behavior.

        You too with the booster, huh? I got weird skin issues with each injection, stuff that looked like shingles. Apparently it happens to small minority of folks who get the shots. Glad you were able to find some workarounds! I like hearing about positivity and creativity coming together and making things better! Even if that positivity just started as a desire to avoid a negative outcome.

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      • Well, what you describe sounds pretty harmless, and many girls in fact would find that flattering. This situation, Casandra was with me the first time he approached me, and she described the way he was acting as “creepy.” And it just went downhill from there into uncomfortable, and at the point where we’re changing routes and walking times and he’s still managing to show up on them…it got scary at some points. This started Nov. 2019, I think his job at that time already allowed him to work from home…he finally stopped doing all of that about 6 months ago, so here’s to hoping! (fingers crossed!) But, so I can leave this on a less serious note, the only person I couldn’t get to constrain their reactions around him to the level of neutrality (I really didn’t feel it would be a good idea to provoke this person in unnecessary ways) was Tony. To this day, if we pass him, he growls. It’s kind of funny it’s own way…

        You know, for the POTS flair up, it could be the vaccine and it could be the mild allergic reaction I had to it. I think it was still worth it, because when our family got COVID, I did really well…just a bit of extra tiredness. I personally, am a huge fan of meeting any situation with the attitude of “how can I work around this?” I feel it’s more productive than fatalism or self-pity.

        Skin issues from a vaccine…was there a rash, and if so was it itchy? If so, maybe keep an eye on it because you could be allergic or sensitive to a component in the vaccine.

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      • I like the growling! I used to do that for fun to troll my dogs, lol! Also used to run after them on all fours barking up a storm.

        The skin stuff was weird. I got a cold sore, which in the past has meant I won’t get one for a year or two, then a week after the vaccine, I got one again. Then, after my second shot, I got what looked like a cold sore under my collar bone, which is apparently what shingles looks like. It cleared up in a couple of weeks, but it was still pretty weird. The tech said the vaccine stresses the immune system, which seems to be a fitting explanation.

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      • Ugh, it looks like you were awake around the same time Tony was😵 MST that is… At least he went back to sleep for a little while so I could get a little bit more sleep myself… When Tony growls, he’s using it as a quick way to express disapproval or dislike because he still can’t make certain vocally constructed sounds. He has apraxia. He understands quite a lot though. Although in the beginning there were times I certainly would have preferred he didn’t growl at him, at this point it’s actually quite funny and I really do love my kiddo. Even when things are hard on me personally I never lose sight of that. Him, I know he genuinely loves me too and I recognize that is just one of the ways he was showing it.

        Well, yes, vaccines and boosters do put the immune system under stress….and exposure to COVID can give a person cold sores, so it makes sense that the vaccine could cause it if it could cause other mild symptoms like fever… hopefully it resolved quickly! I hear cold sores can be painful… I don’t get them (so far the universe seems to have decided that I am already susceptible to enough “plagues”😂). Wishing you a wonderful day 😊

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      • Friday is my relax day where I eat junk food, nap a lot, and do no writing whatsoever. Typically I get way too much sleep, so I end up waking extra early on Saturday. I think the growling is fun!

        The skin stuff only lasted a few weeks. Kind of annoying, but oh well, I’d rather be vaccinated. I envy you for not getting cold sores, lol!

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      • And I envy you your ability to have a nap and relax day! My schedule is turning me into this➡️ 🧟‍♀️ I think I’m going to get there someday soon…I finally have enough therapists working the supercritical public programs with Tony and I, a certain number are needed to generalize skills with him. He’s starting to take being told “no” calmly for other people, so I can see the light at the end of the current therapy schedule tunnel…so, some day.

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      • 🤣🤣 I think that currently depends on who encounters me in what setting, under what context, and at what time of the day or night 🤣 What I do takes a whole lot out of a person, and sometimes I have to dig deep to find the “Ariana” still left in these circumstances.

        And we absolutely will get there! My inner self is giddy and squealing, because we have seen some great things from Tony in the past couple weeks in terms of flexibility and calmly taking no from me and some of his other providers. He’s also consistently not touching items we’ve told him to avoid touching for timed intervals of 45 minutes. We can’t fix his risk assessment, but getting him cooperative in those areas is going to open up a huge number of possibilities for him and for me. My kiddo’s 128 lb. One of his ABA therapists told me she couldn’t do what I do when I block him on those occasions he’s trying to push in the community. I have been what has made all of this possible because we wouldn’t have had therapists willing to participate in these programs if I couldn’t do what I do. But there is a price tag, and I will be the first person to tell you that sometimes Zombiana🧟‍♀️ is real and sometimes people need to be very afraid😱 of her unless she’s well fed, well rested, and…well fed. We’ll just go with that🤣

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      • I hear you! Stress brings out the noms in me, but I keep it regulated with cheat days or else I’d eat like a dog and grow a big pogo ball belly. Lately, I’ve been going with pizza and noodles but when things are hard, there’s nothing better than a heap o’ good breakfast food… 😋

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      • For me, it’s not actually so much that I want to eat when I’m stressed (although sometimes I do). It’s more, if my blood sugar crashes, I get cranky. When I was younger, before we understood what was happening, I’d get tunnel vision, ringing in my ears, sweaty palms when I went too long between meals. Now I eat something small every couple hours, and really, that works better for the POTS. Big meals make that condition grumpier…as do carbs before bedtime (for me personally). I love pasta, and I’m not worried about needing visible abs. For me, now that I don’t need to carry Tony on my shoulders any more or constantly lift him off the ground, I prefer to be at the upper end of my health weight range because I feel like that does a better job of minimizing the extra skin I have from the preeclampsia related complications I had with Hannah’s pregnancy. When I’m at the very bottom of my weight range, it’s a lot more noticeable and I feel more self-conscious about it. So, yippee for carbs up until 4pm 😀

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      • Weirdly, I kind of feel a reversal standards as far as abs, in that I feel like my abs gotta be visible, but it’s not an issue with ladies, lol! It’s actually kinda weird when they’re super visible, kinda like a crustacean exoskeleton or something, or one of those plastinated cadavers in bodyworlds.

        There’s kind of of a trade off as far as our circumstances–I can stuff my gob until I’m pogo-belly comatose, but you can have more carbs. I’m jealous! 😅

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      • Usually nobody’s jealous of me when it comes to eating because of my allergies…so it’s kind of a novel thing to read that directed towards me, lol! Even I can’t eat as many carbs as I could a few years ago, one of the things about aging that isn’t exactly a gift.

        I think sometimes there are gender based differences in thinking about visible abs, etc. I know when I was lifting heavy, I was leaner than I am now, and I had veins popping on my arms. Wasn’t taking anything, that’s just a gift my body can give me if I need it. Generally, men don’t find that attractive in a woman, and I know that my honey definitely doesn’t find a six pack sexy on a woman. In fact, he’d be more attracted to me if I were 100 pounds heavier than if I had a six pack. So, I don’t worry about being lean anywhere because it softens my look. I stay generally fit, but will not be eschewing the carbs any time soon! And it just helps me feel better about me not to see more extra skin on my tummy. I am grateful it doesn’t bother Andy, but I still struggled more when I was leaner because sure, I could see abs…and I had my skin over them looking like puckered folds of satin no matter what and I just didn’t like it for me personally. Perhaps if I didn’t have the skin problem, I’d want abs for myself. But I wouldn’t trade Hannah for anything so shallow, being her mom is so worth that extra skin!

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      • I think my desire for abs is just a response to reading a ton of Batman as a kid. He’s also why I refuse to go bald until I’m at least 80 (because in Batman Beyond, Bruce goes bald in one of the future episodes). I started losing hair in my mid-20s, but Rogaine stopped that dead in its tracks! 😅

        Definitely jealous of your carbolicious ways! Nothing better than maowing down on bread and pasta! I’ve even learned to enjoy the resulting pogo belly, LOL! On Fridays, I’ll maow down, then lounge around like Big Lebowski whilst I bingewatch tv, pausing for the occasional nap.

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      • Come to the dark side, Kent…we have carbs! Daily. Mua-ha-ha-ha-ha!😈🤡

        Well, we all have our things that make us happy when it comes to our own look. Some things are out of our control (nothing’s going to make me taller or have a smaller bone frame for example) but I can understand wanting a certain look enough to give up something for it. I just thankfully don’t have to give up potatoes or pasta to have the things that are most important to me when it comes to my aesthetic 😅

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      • I’d totally go Dark Side for some carb-friendly genes! 😅

        Why do you want to be taller? I’ve been with tall ladies but always preferred shorter. My friends are more or less the same, except for this one little 5’4″ crazy guy who only dates much taller women. But if I had to view things holistically and not just sexually I guess being short would come to some day-to-day annoyances, like not being able to reach stuff…I’m 5’8, which annoys me at times (I’d rather be 6’4″) but I’ve made my peace with it. Aside from generally being disadvantaged in sports, I’ve been told I have a “big aura,” to the point where some people have mistaken me for 6′. That plus looking decent plus pretty good luck…can’t complain. But if I was creating myself as a D&D character, I’d definitely go taller, lol!

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      • 😂 I never said I had carb friendly genes, just that the aesthetic I prefer over what I’m capable of producing in a healthy weight range puts me at the top of that weight range which allows me to eat some carbs. If I wanted to be in the middle or the bottom of my healthy weight range for my frame type right now, carbs would have to go. So I chose to go over to the carby dark side my friend, I chose….🤣 It’s a better look for me to go for a curvy Poison Ivy than Batman abs 🤣

        And you know, I can’t change either the height or the frame. Measurements for my bone structure put me solidly in the large frame camp, and my thoughts about this when I was younger fell into two camps: for a large frame woman generally a few extra inches in height helps things seem more balanced out in others eyes. Even when I’m at a healthy weight as per a dietitian for my height and frame, I have people that think I’m overweight. Two or three extra inches would probably help with that. At least I am an hourglass… And I think that attitude came from having one too many people tell me I would be so pretty if I would just lose the weight when I was younger. 45-year-old me says if somebody thinks I look overweight that’s their problem and not mine and good riddance. Not being able to reach things is always a problem, and I even wear sneakers with a 2 inch lift! Stuff on the top shelf in the cupboards…yeah. It’s a challenge. And now having an extra couple inches would buy me more time with some of the things we’re working on with Tony. I’m only 5 ft 3. He could pass me up in the next year, fortunately his growth is slowed down and it’s shorter for what it could be for an individual with Sotos syndrome (I think that’s probably the influence of his trisomy mitigating that). Got to get going, still need to get makeup on for my breakfast with Gena hope you have a wonderful day! 😊

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      • I hear you. I’d rather have basketball player or swimmer’s build, since that kind of frame seems to do well at a wider range of athletics, but at the end of the day I’m pretty glad with what I’ve got. I know some people, no matter how hard they try, can’t get abs.

        I have the opposite problem as you–people think I’m lighter than I am, lol! That’s another reason I like to stay muscley. 😅

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      • And, I’m going to add one more response, but try and keep it shorter. Look, if I worried about what men might prefer to see in me for looks or personality, I’d be forever miserable because I’d be constantly chasing things I am not nor can I be. I currently frame my wants in terms of what I want for myself. If I have a mate, I take their preferences into consideration to the degree that they don’t involve something medically harmful to myself, because relationships don’t happen in a vacuum. Andy’s preferences are the reason I never got a breast reduction, for example. But other then that…if I can’t be loved or wanted for me, than I am not truly loved or wanted, so I focus on what I want for me in terms of what I think looks good for me, or what allows me to do what I need to do for myself and those I care for.

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      • 🤣 Do they even do that kind of procedure? Well, I suppose theoretically that it could be a possibility since they do gender reassignment surgery, but pretty sure I have never heard of that type of reduction even being offered. And, no offense, but there’s no comparison in size and possible ramifications to how the back feels throughout the day between the two anatomy parts when it comes to a man of sizable nether portions and a woman of sizable upper portions. I am probably easily carrying 10 lb of breast tissue…I have never heard of any man with a 10 lb penis, I’m sorry 🤣 and if there were, I could probably see why his partner might want a reduction there because it would be like giving birth just to have intercourse…

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      • Points noted! And even if my joints felt better after lopping off some meat, there is NO WAY I’d even so much as CONSIDER such a thing, LOL! Being an Asian guy who grew up in the nineties, I was constantly measuring it, and only after decades of sex and obsessing over studies (probably inaccurate, because who’s gonna be honest about the size of their wiener), reddit, and quizzing women nonstop about my junk, have I realized it’s not only on the bigger side, it scores high in the stuff women never mention except through online anonymity: color, curve, proportion, etc. I’ve taken a hillbilly-like second-amendment-style stance on any surgery that’ll alter my sauseej! 🤣

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      • You handled a Zombiana moment with grace, and for that I thank you! Although my points are genuine, they reflect feelings about a problem that existed more in the past, and how it played out is as much my responsibility as his. Since I started strength training regularly, I don’t have back pain from the girls anymore. But it is something some women feel like they have to make a choice about – staying in pain or being attractive to their mate. Perhaps it is because I live in my D+ bubble, but I don’t think women are as concerned about their size in that way. But then again, many women get implants to have what I have, so perhaps they do and they just don’t talk to me about it because they think I wouldn’t understand 🤔 Anyways, thanks for being a good sport as always 💜

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      • I couldn’t detect so much as an ounce of zombie, LOL! Maybe I gotta be there for it–maybe a dull gaze and a flat affect doesn’t translate to text. I hate to say it, but I’m of the same mind as your husband, not that I would begrudge you if you decided to get a reduction. Personally speaking, a big set of chesticles have always drawn me in.

        I can somewhat relate to the zombieitis–I used to have a pretty bad case of resting mean face but I’ve consciously tried to smile a bit more and also keep correct tongue posture (on the roof of my mouth), which I was told to do as a kid but I dismissed because I thought it was BS. Apparently, however, it’s good for everything from athletic performance to teeth to possibly shaping cheekbones. 🤷‍♂️

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      • Hmm, I wasn’t referring to an expression so much as an internal sentiment in line with realizing I could have come across in a way that created verbal maimage and was feasting on the wreckage thereof. I actually wasn’t feeling like maiming anybody, though it is a subject I have stronger feelings about. That was just my way of saying I recognize that my commentary could be a tricky landmine for anyone to handle, really. At this point in my life though, I won’t blame anyone for something I agreed to. That’s not really fair, because I could have said no and I didn’t and that’s on me.

        And yes, breasts are lovely. My thing is that lots of things can happen to them…cancer, for example. And I as a person want to feel that my value to anybody I am in a relationship with is more than my boobs. Because they can go for any number of reasons…life doesn’t pull punches sometimes.

        I’m laughing about the facial expression comment…not in a bad way. I tend to have resting bitch face. It’s a byproduct of growing up the way I did. When I was a teenager, my mom got me a shirt that said “My Many Moods,” and it had a cat with the exact same expression for every emotional label. We all laughed, it was pretty much true…but I had learned it wasn’t safe to show emotions around the house, and so I didn’t. That’s not the way it is now, but you know, if I feel like something could upset me, it’s like my body just pulls up that expression as a protective instinct. Gotta get going, hope you have a fabulous day! Time to run the therapy gauntlet…

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      • I hear you! And smiling when you don’t feel like it only makes you more pissed and hurts your face! (At least for me, anyway). I used to think that meant I’m naturally not smiley and people should just deal with it but I’ve kind of mellowed as I’ve aged. I feel like if I don’t feel like smiling, then it’s time to take it easy, chill, and relax for a while until I feel like smiling again. So now I view it as more of an indicator as to where my head is, rather than accepting I’m naturally negative. My younger self would have laughed at the phrase “emotional intelligence,” but life is ironic, if nothing else.

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      • Oh, it wasn’t just smiles I felt couldn’t grace my face. Truly my emotions were mostly too leaden for that back then, but really it didn’t feel prudent in my circumstances to show pain, emotional or otherwise. Impassivity was the thing to strive for there, or at least the appearance of it. I generally love to smile and laugh now, though sometimes that is still a challenge in certain circumstances. I think age can bring us wisdom in many ways, and it sounds like you have benefited thus. And now, I’m going to go binge listen to Ghost while putting on my makeup and helping Tony with his bath…because that’s what’s going to make me smile the most before heading into therapy this morning 🙂

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      • I think I get it. I feel like I’ve been that way for most of my life, until I got to leave the military and all the bullshit of high school and adulting finally settled down. I’m pretty addicted to girly pop and random dog videos on my facebook feed as far as stuff that makes me smile. I’m always waiting for my emotionally repressed friends to give me shit about it so I can shoot them down with a good comeback, but they’re all too old now and they just complain about politics, LOL!

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      • Well, it’s good to have things that make a person smile! I like lots of different things on lots of different days. Yesterday I heard “Mummy Dust” on the radio and it just put me in a Ghost mood (I love that song, the poetry of the lyrics is sublime). Sometimes I’m in a Doja Cat mood, or a Ha*Ash mood (Casandra recommended their song “No Me Importa” to me, and I just feel like it’s a pretty fabulous theme song for life sometimes, and so I am starting to listen to some of their other stuff too). So, I’m kind of like the shirt my mom gave me in the sense that I do actually have a whole lot of moods (and a whole lot of emotions whether I always show them or not) with a whole lot of things that I like 😀 So, what’s your favorite dog video?

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      • I’m listening to Mummy Dust, makes me wanna go Meh-neh-meh-neh-MEH, Meh-neh-meh-neh-MEH! 😁 Wish I could play guitar so I could do riffs like this and make fun of my friends!

        I like to watch dogs eating, falling asleep on their feet, or getting messed with. Not so much the ones where they’re starving or scared, although if one of them those snags me for a bit, I gotta watch until the end to know that they end up happy. Anything on Too Cute is usually guaranteed to amuse me, lol!

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      • Well, you could always pull out the trusty “air guitar” for anything like that, lol!
        So, are you talking Too Cute as in the Animal Planet show, or something else? I live in a not-on-facebook cave (long story that starts with not wanting to give certain people any opportunity for back door access into my life, moved onto not wanting to be pushed to post pro-LDS sentiments before I resigned my membership, that merged into not wanting a shunning to play out on-line, and now it’s complicated by the fact that my husband’s family are still members and I’ve seen how unhappy they are with the posts of the few other family members who have left or want to leave) , but I am always on the look out for things that can make me smile! Maybe I could rope Hannah into watching an episode with me, she’s into all things cute and fluffy…and puppies and dogs qualify, though she’s mostly a cat person because that’s what we’ve had her whole life.

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      • I’ve always heard rumors, but nothing really concrete about LDS stuff. They seem Scientology-like, and somehow manage to have giant churches that look like Saruman’s house (how do they get the money for those? They look EXPENSIVE!)

        Yep, Too Cute from Animal Planet. I love watching when the puppies make their way to the edge of the blanket, but for whatever reason it’s too much for them, then they start howling. Never gets old! 😁

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      • Mkay, so I’m going to answer your question on how they pay for those expensive-ass looking temples (yes, btw, they are expensive). If you want to be considered a member in good standing, you are asked to pay a tithing of 10% of your income. Church leaders have given talks to the effect of even if a person can’t afford food or rent they should pay tithing. Beyond messed up. And I say that as a person whose personal mantra is “no judgement,” and I struggle like hell not to judge the leadership of my former church. I’m going to try and give you factual stuff, but some of my own residual feelings and biases about how I feel about it might bleed through.

        LDS church leadership has been investing tithing moneys that hasn’t gone to buildings or operational costs. Most people serving in the LDS church aren’t paid, just the top levels of leadership. So your average LDS congregation, you walk into that and everybody whose doing anything from playing the organ, to teaching sunday school, to being the Bishop (the spiritual head of the congregation) is doing it for free. I have had “callings” in our former church that required 40 hours a week of my time. And it was all unpaid. It’s like a giant MLM.

        I think when it comes to rumors, look, many people in my experience don’t even know the difference between the mainstream LDS church (which I was a member of for 19 years) and the FLDS. They don’t know the difference between people in the mainstream LDS church and the splinter group Kody Brown belongs to. I am more than happy to verify or discredit anything you are curious about. In general, I believe in love and tolerance and respecting people’s rights to have their own believes. But I have a whole lot of upset about the way LDS church leadership has lied to their members and inappropriately controlled their members, not to mention some of their current and historical positions on matters near and dear to my heart that I don’t agree with. Honestly, if I didn’t have Tony’s situation to think about, I’d probably be created pro-informed consent content of my own and just watch it burn. I think people have a right to know exactly what they are joining, and certainly I can speak to the fact as a convert that the LDS church conceals a great deal when they are trying to convert people. But honestly, my stress level can’t deal with that. Encounters with church apologetics are just high tension awfulness for me right now, and I’ve given all of the time to that I care to. I think most members are just trying to be good people, they really believe they are doing what God wants them to and they have no idea the ways they have been lied to and inappropriately controlled, and they don’t think their beliefs are discriminatory.

        It’s a mess. That was a rant, Sorry. Nowhere near as bad as it could have been. I am happy every damn day to be gone. Being able to leave and have all of my nuclear family out and in tact is a huge gift.

        Cute animal videos are fun, though mostly Hannah and I watch kitty videos, I’m still going to see if she’ll watch an episode with me. We’ve had drama with Bandit being sick (he’s her kitty), but hopefully tonight or tomorrow maybe now that things are calming down, we can get around to something more chill…

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      • No worries. Back in my early twenties, I got involved in an MLM, so I understand a tiny bit of what you’re referencing. I’ve never had any direct interaction with LDS, although it seems like you said, most of them have a reputation of being nice people. I’ve heard it referred to as the nicest cult you could join (nice in terms of personality, obviously not in terms of what happens to its members).

        I just watch the Too Cute clips on YouTube. When I was a dog walker, the best part was lounging around with friendly puppies, although they’re either dead asleep or going nuts. 😅

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      • Yeah, aside from that dream I had, the niceness was part of how they got to me. They come across so stinking nice, and I really like and appreciate nice! Of course, what you don’t find out until after you’ve been a member is that they encourage people to be extra nice to anyone whose not a member of the church in the hopes of encouraging them to convert. Which can make all of that nice seem fake. Really fake. And many people who left and got either hard or soft shunned would say for sure all of that nice is fake. I try to remember always, even when it hurts, that the indoctrination and the teachings are really responsible for that. Leadership has historically taught that anyone who leaves is choosing evil at the worst or spiritually lazy at the very least, but mostly the emphasis has been on choosing evil and turning their backs on all things good, so members tend to view people who leave as spiritually dangerous. Which can make the Christ-like love they seem to offer to seem fake. They think of it as righteous judgement. I think in practice what the love and kindness taught by the LDS church ends up being is conditional. “I can love you if”…if you believe like I do. If you act like I want you too.

        And yes, being in that environment can be very damaging, even if all you do is find out how much the leadership has been lying about the church’s historical roots, etc. But if you are LGBT, or not white, or a woman, or have other issues with how things are conducted, and you have a family and you feel like you can’t just easily walk away because you want to try and keep that…I could go on. It can and has done a great deal of damage to many people. I count myself lucky, though I am still working my way through a few things. And some things may never look the same in how I view them. Like I don’t think I will ever, ever join another church of any kind. If I did, it would be a UU, but even then…I’m like that person who went through a nasty divorce and never wants to get married again when it comes to religion.

        Clips are easier for me to watch schedule wise, I was just able to find full episodes only on youtube, maybe I need to look longer

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      • I get it. I’m pretty cliche in that I never liked authority, and even more cliche in that I’m a straight-up introvert (lotta people seem to be introverts nowadays). I’m perfectly fine being alone for months on end, and when I hang around crowds, I feel super tired in about an hour’s time. Even when I joined a meditation cult, it was two nights a month, which was the most introvert-friendly cult you could ever imagine, LOL! I think psychedelics also kind of settled my conviction that I don’t need to keep questing after spirituality and finding the secret series of moves that’ll make me righteous or ecstatic. I can just enjoy what I’ve got, if I only let myself.

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      • And for a full episode, I need to multi task it for someone watching it with me, like Hannah or Andy…Andy actually watched some with me last night, and the cuteness factor is hard to deny! It could indeed suck an animal loving person in! Have a good day 🙂

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      • I know! For me I really like watching the initial few weeks, because even though I’ve had puppies, I’ve never been around them when their eyes were closed (I think it’s a safety thing, like they’re supposed to be with their mom until 12 weeks or so). I get to daydream about sprawling on the couch with a big mess of tiny puppies, although if it happened for real I’d be scared of smushing one, lol!

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      • Ok, it’s a question that’s begging to be asked…if you never liked authority, what drew you to the military?

        For me, my position is perhaps slightly different. If a person can convince me of the legitimacy to their claim to authority, I might respect it. In the case of our my former church, once I can see that someone is trying to stake their claim to authority on something they are knowingly misrepresenting (or flat out lying about, depending on how generous you want to be) I will not be willing to recognize or acknowledge that as appropriate authority or use thereof. And that is a lifelong position. My brother got pissed off once about something my mom did, and decided to tell 8 year old me that Santa Claus wasn’t real. So I confronted my mom, who had gone to great lengths that included putting ash foot prints coming out of the fireplace of the house we had lived in with my dad, and I immediately asked her: “And the Easter Bunny? And the tooth fairy?” And then I said, “So. How do expect me to trust anything you ever tell me again?” Me at 8. I’m the killjoy parent who raised her kids knowing Santa was pretend…because in my book, it’s only pretend if everybody knows it, otherwise it’s a lie. Just me. 🙂 I am never upset is someone thinks they are right and presents that as such, because that is a legitimate error (and we all make those) as opposed to deliberate deception.

        So, that is interesting your view on spirituality and psychedelics. Some people feel it is a gateway to spirituality. For you, it seemed to end that quest? Just asking out of curiosity, no judgement. Really, I don’t have any sort of cohesive spiritual position other than I generally want to see a world where everyone’s spiritual believes are respected and not used as fodder for persecution or other atrocities.

        And yes, you could squish a puppy if you slept with them…so maybe don’t! 😀

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      • I was drawn to the military because it was my form of rebelling against the Korean expectation of being a doctor or lawyer, and also rebelling against the 9-5 culture (much like Jon). Back in the nineties, thanks to Mike Judge (Office Space, Beavis and Butthead), it seemed like as soon as I put on a tie and a button-down, I was doomed to suffer a slow, horrible death, LOL!

        Psychedelics didn’t really end my quest for spirituality as convince me that everything by default is spiritual, so it’s kind of a goose chase to constantly label things as spiritual or otherwise. It’s kind of a controversial point, because how could atrocity be spiritual, right? The best way I can explain it is that omnipotent benevolence has to be able to limit and surprise itself, so it can love every imaginable iteration of possibility, which would truly make it infinite in its love. That’s not quite right either, because in my experience, we are that consciousness and can’t help but be it. Which brings me to the conclusion: since we can’t help but be it and can’t help but return to it, we’re stuck in a no-lose game, and we can either use this time as a limited being to throw a fit, or dream up a story we want to live (which we do by relaxation, acceptance, and allowing our greater aspects to do the heavy lifting). So really, in this no-lose game where the only choice is to throw a fit or enjoy the ride, the question isn’t about what’s spiritual and what isn’t, it’s more about enjoying the ride, as I just mentioned.

        Of course there’s no way to prove any of that, but after years of meditation, the visceral ego-death of psychedelics, and my desire to believe that existence is inherently fair, joyful, simultaneously democratic (in that everyone is given the power to allow their greater aspects to come forth and shape reality) and republican (in that it’s everyone’s choice whether or not to pinch off their greater aspects), this is what I’ve decided to believe.

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      • Thank you for taking the time to answer those questions! Looking back, I recognize that I had a similar impetus behind some of the decisions I made as a young adult. By the time I was college age, I was the only one of the kids who wasn’t a high school drop out, so they were putting a ton of unwelcome pressure on me to not only go into academics, but academics they approve of. Despite the chaos of other things in our home, they are surprisingly snobbish about that sort of thing. So I focused on getting managerial jobs in retail and then healthcare because I resented their pushing and I didn’t want the type of degree for me that they wanted for me. My parents tend to look down on people who work in retail, like a lot.

        They also wouldn’t let me get my nose pierced as a teenager because they said it would ruin my chances of ever getting a job. So, just about the first thing I did as an 18 year old was get that pierced, and every promotion I got as a woman with a nose piercing I was mentally flipping them off. In retrospect, I wish I had spent more of that time asking myself, “honey, what do you really want? You.” And then I wished I had gone and done more of that. I did to a certain extent, but I was far too reactionary when it came to some of my job and educational choices, and now I’m in a situation where as a caregiver I have been pretty thoroughly constrained in terms of what I can do. But I can’t go back and change those years, it just gives me a greater appreciation for ways I can use my time going forward should I be in a position to do that.

        I think the question of atrocities is a very difficult one, and it often becomes the point on which atheists hang their views. I don’t really have an answer, but I thank you for sharing your perspective. It is something I will think about. I tend to have a strong bias against shame based theology, and I don’t believe in damnation. Everything else is still a question mark in my brain right now, and I’ve been hit pretty hard this past year with things that take my time, so I haven’t really been focusing on sorting out my own positions. I really don’t feel it’s critical for me to have an answer to that, I don’t know that it’s meant to be answerable. I feel like it is more important for me to bring as much love as possible to my interactions with others, and to try and not suck as a human being. Beyond that…not sure. So thank you for sharing. Take good care of yourself! 🙂 Ari

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      • I’m with you on the shame and damnation. Also not a fan of transactional thinking–“gotta pay a price to get a reward.” While that may seem true in many cases, there’s too many people who get more than they deserve, and vice versa. Plus, anecdotally, once I started chilling out more, more good things happened to me. Definitely not proof except in an individual sense, but I’ll take it, personally.

        I think you’ve arrived at a similar conclusion to me–that the whole spirituality thing just doesn’t matter. It’s about how you’re engaging here and now, in the way you feel best and allows you to enjoy who you are. Ironically, when you dig into the core of mystical traditions, that’s about as spiritual as you can get.

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      • Yeah, the idea of paying a price now for an eternal reward doesn’t really resonate with me either. I think that concept is a great way of getting people to be psychologically less traumatized about accepting less in their lives while supporting the people who are monopolizing the resources.

        In terms of where I’ve arrived at, I would tell you I don’t consider myself to have arrived at anything solid and I don’t plan on thinking I have (and I am not sure there is enough evidence for any conclusion that would allow me that confidence, TBH) until after things are a bit calmer in my personal life. Life taught me the hard way how easily taken advantage of a person can be when they are going through any sort of significant upheaval, and the past 3 years have been especially brutal. I can tell you definitively that at present I reject the idea of a deity who has a set of requirements for worship and conduct that will result in punishment for some if not followed. I have reasons for that position, but honestly, you have been near saintly patient with how long some of my comments are, and my views on that would strain even that level of patience. So, my position is I have no position and won’t even think about adopting one until I am in a very calm, very chaos free place for enough months to where my personal life could not possibly be clouding my judgement.

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      • I think sometimes it may be the best thing to happen, because although it’s cliche, I believe people’s relationship with greater consciousness is strictly a personal matter in that they can’t be guided to it by someone else’s set of rules or say-so guidance. It’s okay in the beginning to have some structure and community, but in the end, what would be the point of having differing points of view if every point of view was fully realized in the exact same way? That’s my take on it, anyway. My disappointment with my cult-lite was one of the best things to happen in that vein.

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      • Community can be one of the more appealing aspects of an organized religion (for a more extroverted person), but it can also feel like a mirage. Is it a real community if they only support you when you think exactly like they do? But that seems to be a human failing in general right now and not just an organized religion problem, though the latter can certainly take it to an extreme. My family would not exist as it is if I hadn’t joined our former Church, and I value that but… My time there definitely left me quite protective of my spiritual autonomy.

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      • Yeah, I know it can be helpful, and I know extroverts can definitely benefit, but all that’s just a logical statement in my head with no true feeling, because I’m a dyed-in-the-wool introvert, lol! I think if spiritual communities are healthy, they either dissolve so that the person isn’t trying to validate their spirituality through someone else’s perspective, or they cap out as a place to just hang out and enjoy each other’s company.

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      • Well, while I need a certain amount of alone time, I am one of those people that flourishes best being able to go out and interact and talk with others. When I lived by myself before joining our former Church, I frequently went out clubbing, being the designated driver, and other things with my friends just because I didn’t want to spend all my time alone. So the social component for spiritual groups can be nice (I like being surrounded by people who are motivated to try to do good things in the world), but really it is just too fraught with unhealthiness if it comes with strings attached in terms of requiring you to publicly adopt beliefs you can’t support to be part of that community. I remember so many times in our former Church listening to someone who is telling me how amazing they thought I was and how much they just loved me as a person thinking to myself, “do you really think all that? If you really knew everything about who I am and what I believe would you feel that way?” And I knew that in most cases the answer was going to be “no”. So it feels toxic in a way community shouldn’t in the kind of religious environment where dogmatic adherence is a requirement. That is one of the things that I kind of appreciate about the UCC I go to every now and then and some of the local uu congregations, they do seem a bit more like social groups with a social justice emphasis…

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      • I used to be of the same mind, where I would seek out some form of community. Then I realized that people always disappointed me, not because they were inferior or unworthy, but because I was projecting my desires onto them. I wanted them to prosper and succeed and I was always able to logically point out what they could do better, like everyone looking from the outside in. Then I realized that they’re going to do what they want to do, and I can either drive myself crazy over it, or just relax and let them be. And in return, more people relaxed and let ME be, because I wasn’t making subtle digs and getting all in their business while pretending I wasn’t. I recently realized my newest friend was the only person who I hadn’t tried to change. Previously, with all my other friends and family, I had tried to get them to somehow do better, and it only led to heated disagreement or falling out at some point. So most of the time, I enjoy being alone, but if there are others of a like mind then I’m sure they’ll make their way around and we’ll relax together without trying to make each other “better.”

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      • I don’t see out that type of community or friendships to change people. I tend to like being involved in a group focused on doing good things for others (though if I don’t get at least an hour a day of alone time to recharge I get grumpy, and sometimes in my current circumstances, that’s impossible to get and so…), but interestingly enough that isn’t really always what happens in practice with religious organizations even if it would seem to be part of their ethos. When I joined our former church for example, I was surprised that despite teaching the importance of service, there wasn’t more outreach within the community (I quickly learned that service in that church means serving mostly other church members). So I obtained permission to head a project collecting diapers, toys, and making blankets for one of my favorite local causes. I also recommended and headed projects to benefit local women’s shelters. This was pre-Tony. I used to love to volunteer, but now I really don’t have the time. I can barely take care of myself, and certainly not in ways that approach full adequacy, much less become involved in community causes.

        I can come across more reserved because there’s only so far I let most people in, but I like having people to talk to, and the people who I develop friendships with, or even the people I don’t, I’m not trying to change who they are. It’s kind of like, I’m going to give you a safe place to be you…can you give me a safe place to be me? If I get the sense that the answer to that last one is “no,” that person isn’t ever going to make it into my inner circle. I might still be hurt if that level of relationship ends, especially if I feel like some sort of judgement was involved, but…the only type of relationships I feel like I have any sort of right to place boundaries on what I want are a spousal relationship and a parent/child relationship. I have boundaries for safety in all relationships, but when you have children with someone, I think there becomes an area where sometimes negotiations have to take place in terms of saying, “Yeah, I get that’s what you want to do, but if it’s not in the best interest of our children or it makes me feel emotionally unsafe…” that’s the type of thing I might step in for and make some sort of push on. Otherwise, I seek people out because I care, not be cause I am interested in changing them or converting them to my way of thinking. I tend to think pretty differently about a lot of things, so if I were living and breathing for the latter, I’d be incessantly disappointed.

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      • That’s great! The world needs more people like you. For a long time, I tried to pretend I was that way, that I had a deep-seated caring for people, but really it was this twisted desire to see them succeed by following the principles I believed in, so I tried to press my beliefs on them or chased success partly because I wanted to prove to others I was right through my success. Ironically, I find myself wishing the best for people when I mentally just let them be. I’ll help people out materially, but now there’s no urgency or ulterior motive behind it.

        Personally, I’ve realized that the people who have taught me the most valuable lesson are those who are happy being who they are. Nowadays, that’s what I seek to do, knowing that with others like me, I’ll influence them the most if I show them I’m happy and passionate doing what I’m doing.

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      • Ha, I don’t think the world agrees with you that it needs more people like me, just based on action and what is typically valued by much of humanity. And I wouldn’t put myself up ever as something to be admired. I am in many ways a flawed person just trying to do the best she can. I’m not enamored with our society’s concept of success…because it’s usually contingent upon being viewed that way by and being admired by others. Some things we seem to admire as a society aren’t really admirable in my opinion. I think it is one of the greatest gifts we can give to one another, genuine love and accepting. I think when we approach people from the position of love and trying to understand where they are coming from it is more beneficial than a great many other things. Take good care of yourself!

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      • I think the world is just having itself a short-term tantrum, which makes it seem as if it doesn’t value your disposition. But in the long run, I think you’re on the right track. I also agree that you gotta let society be whatever it wants to be. That’s why Buddha didn’t answer Mara directly when Mara asked him why Buddha was worthy of enlightenment, and who will vouch for him. As soon as Buddha acknowledged the questioner and question, it would have taken him away from the truth of a mystical existence where everything springs from the same source. You don’t need to prove yourself worthy to anyone, much less society, and they don’t need to vouch for you. That’s my take, anyway!

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      • I think there is a line that can and should be crossed sometimes between loving someone and letting them be themselves and letting society be “whatever it wants to be.” Sometimes societies (including our own) have wanted to support eugenics, slavery, genocide, etc. I know of an elementary school in my area that isn’t teaching history right now because it’s become so contentious with parents…it’s become a popular idea to want to ignore historical warts and atrocities. What we pretend like never existed will replay itself out like a cyclical nightmare, and if people aren’t educated in their history? That makes it so much more likely that bad things are going to repeat themselves.

        I think there comes a point where people do need to stand up and advocate in a way that says “you can have your own private beliefs for you and that’s ok, but we still need to protect the rights of others to have their own ideas and be able to live the same quality of life while doing so.” Just my thoughts. Worthiness is a concept fraught with moral and religious implications. What one group considers worthy another condemns. It is futile indeed to even think once could ever arrive at an ultimate place of societal worthiness, because there is no unified perception of what that entails. So I currently strive for being the person that I can live with, that I can say I have done the best I can and I am trying to live out the values that I believe in most.

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      • Definitely a good point. I know a few activists and I think they’re doing great work, especially since it energizes them and gives them a sense of purpose. On a few occasions, I have also followed up on the urge to donate time or money to certain things, so I guess I’m kind of a super casual dabbler in activism. But then there are some who constantly harangue me about my positions, and give me the stink-eye even though I agree with them, but not to the degree they want. I can’t even call some of them activists because they don’t even do anything, they just complain and try to get others to agree with them. I’ve had to distance from a few friends who became like this, because it was like hanging out with a political pundit who had no real opinion of their own, just talking points. In those cases, I just let them be who they want to be, so I don’t get sucked into trying to change them, which would make me someone I’d rather not be. I think my main point is if it’s something that you truly believe in changing or pursuing, go for it. But if all someone has to offer is complaints and judgment, then I’ll stay away from engaging with them, because they make me want to just oppose their position for the hell of it, and also because I don’t want to become them but from a different angle as far as opinion. The standing up for certain things, I believe, should more or less come from a natural-feeling inclination to do so, at least in my opinion. Otherwise, it can devolve into a giant game of Simon Says where there’s no real spirit behind my stance, where I’m constantly wagging my finger and not pursuing things that truly bring me joy. My two cents anyway. I think that’s where it’s important to have emotional intelligence—so you can feel out what your personal way is to best navigate the world, add to it, and perhaps bring benefit from an unexpected direction. I hope that’s the case, because I feel like I’ve tried the other way when I was younger and things just got messier and messier, and it made me miserable trying to make people see the “right” way.

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      • I am a person who is very comfortable participating in activism. And at one point, that would have been and has been what I actively did for some things. Right now, my circumstances pretty much preclude direct involvement from me in many causes I feel strongly about. I am so incredibly maxed out between navigating Tony’s stuff, stuff for other members of the family, and then trying to make all of that work in the context of having POTS etc. I hold the secrets I am asked to hold, and so some of my pressures are not and cannot be publicly visible. Some would say what is already known is enough, but unfortunately it’s kind of like an infomercial stereotype where all I can say is “but wait, there’s more!” At which point, I do what I can to give money or public support if it is an important enough cause to me. As we work towards getting Tony transitioned into school, I will have to prioritize other things before activism. I’ve been going into debt with my own mental, physical, and emotional health at some points to accomplish what needs to be done and I need some space to give myself back some things before I were personally to be involved in any other way with the causes near to my heart.

        When it comes to the local elementary school that isn’t teaching any history right now because it’s become too contentious with the parents what should and shouldn’t be taught, you know, that becomes a tricky issue. I know what I know because I am friends with someone who works there. I don’t think it’s public knowledge. It should be. So, when it comes to activism in a case like that, the first thing would be to determine the level of comfort the friend has with the information going public, because their job would likely be on the line if they were to be known as the leaker. The next thing would be perhaps an anonymous tip off to the media, but then they have to verify a source somewhere…so can you find someone comfortable enough to speak about it? Sometimes activism dies if your source needs to be more risk averse. Sometimes when people stand to loose a great deal, they remain quiet, and systems that need to be changed often move forward on the basis of that symbiosis. But I think it’s an important example of why people shouldn’t just sit back and let societies be societies.

        I advocate using loving and respectful dialogue whenever possible in doing these things, however. In our own state, a lone republican became the vote that killed a bill outlawing hormone therapies, etc for transgender individuals under 18. The reason this person was persuaded to vote against it was a respectful dialogue with a family who had a transgender kiddo. Activism that just hurls hate and anger back at someone generally just escalates and doesn’t resolve, in my opinion.

        I agree extensive complaints without action…really what’s the point? But sometimes, people can be limited by their own circumstances in regards to what they can do and that has to be honored and not judged also.

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      • I think you and I are on the same general page. My thing is prioritizing my own mental state before I start making decisions and pushing forth. You could explain it from a law of attraction rationale, but I’ll go with plain old psychology, which is a more science-based parallel—if I’m constantly wallowing in and acting from fear and depression and anger, no matter how many justifications and how much logic I’ve piled on top of my actions, I will subconsciously find a way to become fearful and depressed and angry again, and interact with fearful and depressing and enraging circumstances (much like the invisible gorilla selective attention test, or a Derren Brown mentalist feat). I’ve personally experienced this in the military; I viewed everything through a negative bent, where I was constantly warding off disaster by triple-checking everything and I had to overthink and overplan stuff all the time. And yet people who truly enjoyed the military and did way less of that, found the bright side of things, and went more by their intuition, did better than me with way less effort. I carried that mentality into the civilian world, where I constantly encountered parallel situations where I was looking over my shoulder and stressing out over every little detail to avert disaster. I ended up counting “success” as when I could state a disaster was averted, instead of labeling anything as a triumph or accomplishment. Contrast that with when I started deliberately focusing on the most positive thing that resonated with me (which was sometimes apathy or futility), and things began changing.

        Personally, that’s where all the power is for me. If I’m engaged and focused on resonant positivity, I get more leverage and encounter more opportunities. And that’s where my mindset of letting society be comes from. As I said, I go out and help with this or that, but I refuse to do it out of guilt or hatred or fear, and I won’t put that on someone else either. At the end of the day, I’m less than a billionth of humanity residing on less than a billionth of the planets in an infinitude of galaxies, so that helps restore my perspective and keep things light, easy, game-like, and productive for me. On top of that, I think that positive focus and setting an example for people to be in tune with their emotions and go for things that excite them leads to unexpected benefits, such as Muhammad Ali’s activism. I would never tell younger Ali to stop boxing and be an activist, because he became a great one anyway as a natural outgrowth of his passion. Same with Justin Wren, who fought in MMA and now brings awareness through his charity Fight for the Forgotten, advocating for pygmies that are suffering from pretty much a modern-day version of colonialist slavery. They both bring a passion to it as a natural outgrowth of their respective paths, rather than a justification-heavy mediocrity that would have resembled something I exuded in the military. Also, if I were to take the emotional guidance out of it and operate purely out of logic, I would cut everything out of my life aside from anything that didn’t support charity (which cause to support, anyway? Weighing that would result in the most complicated pros and cons list ever), and I would pretty much ignore all personal joy. And then there’s the rabbit hole of addressing causes of evil: is it from nature or nurture, and how would we manipulate either of those to ensure it’s minimized? That question in itself is an endless spiral of futility, where I blame so-and-so’s parents all the way back until I blame the microbes they evolved from. I would also have to stop eating plants and animals because both feel pain, I would have to stop existing because my bodily processes by default cause microbial genocide…you get the idea.

        I guess long story short, I’m really just about taking things easy and positive focus, waiting for the inspiration to come and then lending a helping hand once I’m inspired to do so. And also not shortchanging the stuff that makes me happy, because like Muhammad Ali, it may grow in an unexpected direction. Maybe it takes a few twists and turns before it gets there…who knows? So leaving society as is really is more of a mental position, disproven as an absolute, if by nothing else, through my own actions. Hope that doesn’t sound like a copout! 😅

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      • There’s a great deal to ponder in your response, and I actually found myself reading through it three times to consider what I wanted to say. I have a therapist who called out today, so I am more at leisure to do so. First, again, I am not the judge of you. One man’s so-called “copout” is another man’s key to sanity. I think it is true, if we start to really reflect on trying to live an existence where we cause not a single organism any sort of pain we have quickly willed into being our own deaths, because life is built around a cyclical pattern of survival where death and life are partnered inseparably. There is no life for any of us without the pain and death of something else. And sometimes it’s just a moving picture. I loved being a vegetarian because I have such a soft spot for animals. But the new bean and lentil allergy kind of makes that impossible if I want to survive…and my survival is important to my kids, if nobody else. So, we do what we must if we want to survive, and the mental component is just as essential.

        Being wrapped up in every cause can be draining. So much to care about, right? Sometimes it’s better to just say…who is better suited to fight this battle? Let’s go back to the history situation at that local school. My personal choice would be a well-placed comment to a certain type of parent at that school, because parental outrage is probably going to be the most effective kind. Sometimes getting involved in every cause that doesn’t directly involve us can be just too much to carry. I like your point about being less than one billionth of the population. That being said, you know, sometimes mediocrity is the quickest path to happiness. What society often views as successful (wealth, fame, celebrity, popularity) can often produce deeply unhappy individuals. I think sometimes there is something to be said for flying under the public radar.

        All that being said, I have my own hypocrisies, biases, and blind spots in all of this and really can’t recommend myself as a moral compass to anyone seeking such. I have a couple shelves full of eyeshadow. Do I need that? Does it benefit the environment, which is generally something I care about? Um, no, not really. But it adds so much to my quality of life, it helps give me moments of joy. I sat there playing with mauves, glitter, and turquoises this morning while giving Tony his bath. And I enjoyed that…and somewhere, on somebody’s proverbial wall, I am the poster child for everything environmental activists are fighting against because of it. But you know, it was probably the best 30 minutes of my day so far pulling together today’s blingy eyeshadow. And I really need that somewhere in my life. I tend to not by myself much of anything else, and it’s I get myself for all of my special occasion gifts. I shop for my own gifts within the budget we discuss, I am just very particular that way.

        And you are also right, you know, what we focus on really determines the picture we are seeing or the one we are remembering or even the picture we think we are seeing. All very interesting and well-thought out points. Appreciated you taking the time to make them! 🙂 Ari

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      • I think you absolutely deserve to play around with eyeshadow and have fun! I actually think that’s our birthright and default/natural state (not the eyeshadow, obviously, but the fun and ease and peace). And from what it sounds like, you’ve been through the wringer in the past and you deserve extra on that stuff.

        The environment will have caretakers that spearhead efforts and inspire the rest of us to help in ways that are convenient to us (until the sun goes red giant and destroys the earth, which is kind of ironic when you think about it—our local environment ranks pretty low in the eyes of our celestial environment), just like you’ll spearhead efforts at your local school, and inspire change from that end. Is it all futile? Arguably. But what isn’t futile is the joy and fulfillment you get out of what you’re doing and experiencing. That’s not hypocritical at all, and it may be the only thing of substance in the existential sense. And as I said before, who knows where it may lead? Who knew that Keanu Reeves getting injured at ice hockey when he was a teen, crushing his dreams to be a hockey player, would allow him to pursue acting, which would give us one of the most technically bad, yet bizarrely entertaining actors ever?

        As far as mediocrity, I think celebrity examples like Muhammad Ali or Keanu Reeves are a bit problematic. I don’t count celebrity or high station as non-mediocre or even successful. To me, success is moment by moment, dependent on how much enjoyment you can find by how you frame things in your perception. There’s plenty of celebrities who live miserable, unfulfilling lives. So when you’re having a blast doing your eyeshadow, environment be damned, then I count that as the exact opposite of mediocrity! 😊

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      • Well, while I think my eyeshadow game itself isn’t mediocre by many people’s standards, I think plenty of people might certainly say that my life is slumped into the realms of mediocrity based on what they believe it should or could be, if not flat out landed in the land of insanity. (But I thank you for your more gracious take!). 🙂 For many people, doing what I have been doing for Tony alone qualifies as crazy. If I worried about that too much, the things that people think of who I am and what I should be doing, I really would be insane. I think we all have to have some degree of concern because we need cooperation and some level of community to survive. It is true, I have been through a bit of the wringer. But, many, many people have, and some worse than me. I’m just trying to find joy with what I can in my own circumstances.

        Now, Keanu Reeves. I wouldn’t class him as mediocre. I see what you are saying about the acting, but his career there has been super successful. Many times unfortunately what creates for success in that environment isn’t acting superiority from the technical sense, but rather having an appearance that a large enough percentage of the market believes is selling them the fantasy. As in, people enjoy watching them “tell” the story. He’s an attractive man. I get it there, more than I ever got Tom Cruise. Except as Lestat…his performance there could sell me Tom Cruise in that way. And I think it is that way for many female actresses too. They usually have to have a marketable look to become that mega successful in that industry.

        And now, I am off to eat, work on a puzzle, and ponder. I may be deciding to set some boundaries on my weekend time and make them a therapy-free zone because my state of burnout in that area is just intense, and there’s no amount of 24/7 anything that could ever meet the needs that are before me. But I want some time to think before the next therapist shows up on my door, so that I don’t make a “mediocre” decision for myself 😉 Take good care of yourself! 🙂

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      • I’m glad that you recognize that with your eyeshadow! As far as Keanu Reeves, I’ll use a bit of logical negativity to advocate for my point: good-looking men in entertainment are a dime a dozen, but very few get to enjoy something approaching his career. A couple of facts make him my role model: he sucks at acting, he’s kind of an eccentric doofy weirdo who’s not well spoken (my opinion, from the interviews I’ve seen and his low-key lifestyle), but he follows his heart, seems to be spontaneously nice, and seems to prioritize enjoying life as he sees fit (apparently, he turned down Speed 2 on a gut instinct, something Sandra Bullock wishes she’d done). I just watched Johnny Mnemonic a few weeks ago, and a big part of the entertainment is how bad he is at acting. I cracked up laughing when he’s dialoguing with his costar and she asks him “You got parents and stuff?” And he shoots back in his ridiculously stilted voice, “YOU got parents and stuff???” Also when he claws the air and shouts, “I NEED a computer!”

        I’ve approached much of my life from the other direction, where I constantly delayed my enjoyment of the moment and acted with mountains of justification for every action, and it sucked. Even if I had been wildly outwardly successful, that would have been worse, because it would have felt miserable, and I could have been able to logically justify the misery with the outward success. That’s why seeing a doofy, good-looking weirdo who sucks at his job but prioritizes his enjoyment of life is so important to me, and in my opinion, is critical to his appeal. He’s really become my roadmap for life, LOL!

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      • I am going to agree with you that many of attractive people in that industry haven’t been as successful, but I think part of the appeal is that with his on screen personas (at least in the movies I have watched) there seems to be a level of niceness that comes across. You’re talking to a person who will make relationship choices based on character alone (a by product of those “put through the wringer” circumstances), so perhaps I am not the best person to have this conversation with, but generally, for many women attractiveness + niceness is the holy grail of something to fantasize about.

        You know, a person can read my blog and get the impression that I am incredibly guilty of delaying enjoyment of the moment. Because a lot of the time I feel like I have to. Sometimes there can be a mountain of need when you have a child or children with a lot going on in their worlds. And it’s the way I tend to be, I can give, give, give until I am taking out mortgages on my own future wellbeing. I am working on trying to set boundaries that way, and realize that sometimes the needs can be so great that nothing I do can meet them anyways, and I just need to make sure things are scheduled so I can take moments for myself.

        I think it is difficult, because when you have a special needs child, people want to judge you no matter what. I have actually worked with therapists who felt like I wasn’t doing enough for Tony, and literally I was doing 40+ hours a week of therapy and interventions with him at the time. I think it is part of the psyche of motherhood, the woman who sacrifices everything, that can be a hard sword to fall on. There is the urge to do that, but then it needs to be remembered that if the mother breaks, the child is in much worse shape than otherwise. So I have been trying to ask myself lately, ” how can we do this smarter?” It is unlikely I will ever be in a position to prioritize my own enjoyment in life, but I think one of the things I am needing to really internalize is how to set boundaries with protected safe places where I can get more than time to do eyeshadow each day for myself. I think when we can do that it does seem to lead to an overall improved quality of life for everyone, if perhaps some items remain undone on the “to-do” list. So, if your roadmap is working for you, no judgement. It isn’t an easy path to relentlessly pursue something if it isn’t bringing joy or value into your life.

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      • It’s funny—I have been with ladies who appreciate niceness, but earlier in my life, it was kind of the opposite: they liked the fact I was brooding and quiet (maybe because that was more of a thing in the nineties), then not so much when I cracked a smile or made casual conversation. 😂

        You’re in a hard-to-understand spot for most of the population, there’s no denying that. I think an easier concept that may resonate with you is net fulfillment. I have been in situations with distantly related parallels, in the respect that environmental needs dictated what I had to do for much of the day. Back in those days, I strove for net fulfillment, where I would often have to sacrifice immediate gratification for as much long-term fulfillment as I could possibly get. What’s weird is that I started realizing that in some cases, I actually enjoyed the stressful work more than when it was over, because during the work-period I started doing experiments where I was deliberately focused on pleasant thoughts. Then, when it was over and I was relaxing at home, I would ironically be in a bad mood because I had attached all my positivity to an external impetus. (This is just me, I’m not saying it’d work for you, or that it’s right for you.) I guess that’s why I’m settling into the cliche/belief that no matter what’s happening externally, what’s going on internally is completely up to me, because I’ve lived it in its fullest irony.

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      • Hmm. Well, I think it can be complicated sometimes to make generalizations to what everybody wants. What I have noticed from my vantage as a woman, and hearing what gets said from that angle, when women are younger, often they are living that Belle fantasy, where they are thinking they are thinking there’s a prince hiding between every edgy, attractive visage/persona. Not saying you were beastly, that’s not when I meant to imply. Just saying that sometimes young women haven’t become disillusioned yet enough to understand the reality that you can’t change someone who doesn’t want to change, that only leads to misery, resentment, and an unhappy relationship. Often a bit more experience will teach women starting out with that mentality that niceness is more to be prized. I think the fallacy of “reforming” a devilishly handsome bad boy is frequently sold in entertainment to woman, and people try to live those sorts of things out. Again, not saying brooding equate to bad boy. When I was younger, I would have goon for a brooding artist any day…provided they were also nice, LOL!

        So, I think you are right many people can’t understand my position, and much of what I have been doing is from the standpoint of “I need to do this in order to get to a point where I can have more of my life back…” Many people would have put him in a facility long ago. I know this. But I am influenced by my own background, experiences with my mom and how I felt. I remember vividly this one occasion where she got very upset with my sister and I, had us pack a suitcase, and told us she couldn’t handle us any more and she was going to take us to some place that took unwanted children. Not the only time my mom had “I can’t handle this” moments, with me in particular she dropped me off at my grandmother’s house as a baby with that kind of statement a fair bit. And I remember. I remember what it felt like when she was saying that…she actually threatened an orphanage type facility on that occasion, not even my grandmother. Tony has deep feelings, he loves me, he loves his family. I can’t handle making anybody feel that way if I can avoid it. What I have been doing with him has been arduous and the progress is slow, but things are getting better and better in terms of his behaviors. I’m at a point now where I can start to say “this doesn’t need to be every moment of my day” and it’s OK to have less time spent trying to earn cooperation on academic skills, because focusing my time on the safety skills is the big one that gets him into places where other people can work with him on those things, like school.

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      • Well you wouldn’t have gone for me—I was a brooding nerd at that point, nothing artistic about me! 😅 On the other hand, if I had known there were short, busty girls into D&D back in high school, it would have been a gamechanger…🤔 All three of those items are high on my list of desired qualities! 🤣

        I remember my mom always working, yet still finding time to cook, take me to piano lessons, go to night school, and play the flute and read Korean literature in the early early morning. Just the sheer amount of work she did made me realize that I couldn’t handle kids, because I would be tempted to do what your mom did. As it was, I was always kind of scared she would, because her life seemed untenably stressful. It always boggles my mind when I ask her these days why she didn’t leave us, and she looks at me like I’m crazy and says why would you even think of something like that? It literally never occurred to her.

        It’s pretty awesome you’re making time for your kid, making a bit for yourself, and starting to get a bit more relief. People deserve to pursue what they enjoy, and you’re no exception!

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      • So, first, there’s two main things that my exes and my current mate have in common. They are geeky and they are smart. Sure, there’s one artist in the mix, but also a guy who was going to law school. And my Andy, his first degree was in computers. He ended up starting a nursing degree to go into nursing informatics, and then decided he liked patient care so much he was going to stick with that for the time being. I have always loved me the nerds of the world because one can have the best conversations with them.

        But teenage me didn’t appeal to nerds any more than anybody else. I was definitely overweight in high school…the birth defect had started to deteriorate, so I couldn’t do much physical, and it gets more complicated after that, but I think being overweight was one of the best things I could have been back then. In the 90’s, if you wanted the kiss of death on being considered dateable, it was being a size 18. And I think that was for the best. My pre-counseling decisions on dating and mates wouldn’t have been and weren’t the kind of decisions that would have led me to the type of relationship I wanted for myself.

        And my honey, he has still loved me and found me attractive at size 20 or with the excess skin issues after Hannah’s birth. That was a huge part of his charm for me, that while I knew he thought I was beautiful, he would still think that even if the bodaciousness got a bit out of control for any reason.

        Yeah, when it comes to my mom…probably what did as much damage as anything else with that incident was that she didn’t ask all 3 of her kids to pack their bags…just my sister and I. Not that I regret being here, but my mom should have made the decision you did. Some people, parenting isn’t their calling. I honestly never expected to be in the circumstances I am with it, but that’s the thing when you have children, you kind of have to be prepared that anything can happen. You can be asked by the circumstances to give up everything.

        I think it can be hard when you have a kiddo with Tony’s level of challenges, because it’s super hard to find people willing to work with him to begin with, even with the level of support I provide. So there almost needs to be this “beggars can’t be choosers” mentality when it comes to scheduling. But that can put families like ours in really tough spaces, and I have just been in that tough space for too long. We’re at a point where I feel like the best strategy for me personally so that I don’t crack is to focus on making it to the finish line with the safety programs, and those can be managed currently just Monday- Friday with the therapists we have in place there. Because I’m the one doing all of the physically hard parts and heavy lifting per se with those programs. Having additional assistance for some of his programs involving tolerance to medical equipment, generalization of early education skills is nice, but isn’t going to be as critical as keeping me mentally and physically healthy at this point.

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      • Seems to be more of a common thing, now, nerds being attractive. I guarded the fact that I read comics in the nineties with vehement ferocity, LOL! Weirdly enough, comics aren’t even a nerd thing anymore. They’re for everybody, thanks to Marvel movies.

        You’re getting where you want to be, it sounds like. I’m cheering for you! Over the years, I’ve shifted away from all the masochistic hustle-flexing, earn your sleep, billionaires wake up at 3 am, so and on so forth. (For years, I actually did wake up at 2:45 so I could fit in workouts and writing). That’s not what I’m here for, no judgment if people enjoy it, and I know some that do, but I’ve found out the hard way all that rah-rah is not for me. I enjoy hearing about people moving toward peace, relaxation, and stuff they want to do.

        I’m having a blast writing this follow-up to A Door into Evermoor. So far, it’s got a giant brute with Sherlockian intelligence and old-school swag (he wears a bowler hat, knows singlestick fighting—Victorian martial art for canes—and smokes a long-stem pipe), and I’ve got the fantasy version of the Golden Age of Piracy, where instead of cannons, they have magically charged pillars of stone capped by sculpted stone in the form of dragonheads called bombardier obelisks that release big ol’ blasts of arcane artillery. That’s just a bit of it; I’m really trying to make my own version of that time-honored trek through a wondrous fantasy world, but without all the stuff I found draggy in Tolkien. Hope that sounds up your alley!

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      • Thanks for cheering for me! 🙂 I don’t think of myself as having been masochistic in regards to what has transpired over the past nearly 10 years since we adopted our little man. Rather, more it is that I have met the situation with what was required. A whole lot was required!!! Every time I do a list of what is necessary to help him or the meet the needs of the other members of our family, the list always (always!) exceeds the amount of time I have in any given day. The current needs are literally insurmountable unless I could afford to pay for multiple people assisting in my world. A housekeeper. A cook. Someone to drive kids around. A nanny for non therapy hours. We certainly can’t afford any of that- we’ve got me. So I have focused primary on the safety issues, and even those were of a scope to require intensive time and interventions. The more significant safety stuff that is time-sensitive in regards to gaining skills before his growth outstrips the ability of anyone to help him…we are nearly there. Some of the rest of the stuff, you know, it’s going to be a life time of needs, so it can be back-burnered if need be at this point to make sure that I am able to take some time to repair me a bit right now.

        I am glad you are having a blast writing the sequel! This is as it should be, I think 🙂 What you have described sounds very interesting, I shall look forward to reading it when you make the finished version publicly available!

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      • Well it’s pretty inspiring, to say the least. I remember many folks in the military stating that their job wasn’t nearly as hard as a single mother’s. You’re not single, but still, I think you’re embodying the sentiment they were expressing.

        To tell the truth, I never really liked pirates until I saw the documentary series the Lost Pirate Kingdom on Netflix. Bunch of fascinating folks! So I thought that if I could make a magical version of the Age of Sail, that would be amaze-balls. Seeing as it’s magic, I had to revolutionize the existing paradigm. Instead of relying purely on the wind, ships have a coterie of “seavokers,” which are mages trained to manipulate the currents and wind, as well as charge the bombardier obelisks. After a bit of research, I saw that our ocean currents depended mainly on wind, so I decided to add another element that could influence the current (because why have a seavoker specialize in currents if the currents are always in line with the wind?) so I decided to have these giant, city-size monsters at the bottom of the ocean that liked to fight each other, which would influence the surface currents independent of the wind. All that being the case, I had to change up the traditional Age of Sail combat where a ship tries to get upwind of its prey, then fires a broadside down longwise down its enemy (known as raking fire). Now, because seavokers can control the propulsion of the ship, the first step in taking down an enemy ship is basically a magical wrestling match, where one coterie of seavokers tries to wrest control of the currents and wind from the other and becalm the enemy ship, which will allow the advantage-holding ship to maneuver as it pleases.

        Anyways, that’s what goes on in the mind of an overthinking nerd writer, LOL!

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      • Color me unexpected, I usually don’t see responses from you on Fridays!
        No, I am not single, But, at many points as I have been handling things with our son, many things have fallen almost entirely to me. With limited exceptions, nearly the entirety during the past 10 years of the therapy, medical appointments, and middle of the night escapades have been handled by me. There are a combination of reasons for that related to my husband’s job and the nature of what each person feels like they can and can’t handle as relates to their mental health, and I am not at any point going to be open to anyone’s criticisms about what he has or hasn’t done. I have had friends who felt like they wanted to go there, and they didn’t even feel comfortable babysitting. If someone can’t, doesn’t, or won’t in regards to our little man, I don’t even welcome their opinion much less their vote.

        That being said, there has been an impact to me from all of that which while I feel like I shouldn’t have to minimize or hide that, I often do because I don’t want to cause hurt feelings. The truth is, if anything happened to my honey and he wasn’t here anymore, and I actually wanted or could find a partner that didn’t mind being involved in all of this (suuuuper unlikely, just saying), they would owe Andy. He was the person who stood by me when I was still struggling with flashbacks, and it is a combination of the way he was with me and counseling that got me to where I have a healthy view on sexuality and have moved passed the point where anything there triggers flashbacks. I *never* forget that he did that. I have not ever been a person without issues, and I know what it meant to me to have someone stand by me through that. And, even if he hasn’t participated in as much of those more arduous moments, he absolutely loves our children, including Tony. And most guys wouldn’t have stuck around for our son or for me in all of this. Also just saying. So…the impression that I do much of the hard things is correct. But Andy works hard to support our family monetarily and in other ways, and that cannot be discounted.

        I think the level of nerdy overthinking is awesome, and I find that very interesting actually! I need to get going right now though…take good care of yourself and happy writing! 🙂 Ari

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      • I think it’s because my body’s seasonal. During spring and summer I get way more energy and I start doing more stuff, writing seven days a week, more interaction, extra workouts, that kind of thing. Then around september/october, I usually simmer down. I’ve been feeling a little restless these last few fridays, so I took the hint and got a bit busier.

        Well sounds like you’re fairly blessed as far as relationships, that’s good to hear! I couldn’t handle a relationship with my ex, even though it was no kids and two dogs! 😅 Glad things are solid on that end!

        Speaking of dogs, I’ve been amusing myself with an fb/instagram page called “Dog Named Stella.” That is one ENERGETIC lab, LOL! I cracked up at her vid where she destroyed winter and the one where she zooms so hard she changes seasons.🤣

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      • And, I think you were trying to be complimentary and I delved into a salt mine, super sorry dude! Not a great night for sleep. Not an excuse, it’s just what happened. Sometimes the salt just crusts off of me in piles right now…all the pressure I’ve been under the past several years…

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      • Relationships take a whole lot of hard work sometimes, and not every relationship can be made to work. I think probably some relationships could be made to work that don’t survive if both people were willing to put some additional work in terms of moving towards understanding and respecting their partner. But both people have to be willing. Andy and I kind of approach this from the position of if there is something wrong that is making one of us unhappy in the relationship, we let the other person know and give them a chance to address the issue if they want to or they can. We have had points where one or the other of us was very upset, but we have both worked from a position of being concerned about the needs of the other and to this p.oint been able to keep all such breaches repaired and functioning. Anything can always happen in relationships, because it does take both people with a mindset to make it work for it to actually work.
        And, I think probably I recognized the salt because I have had a couple people comment to be recently about how it seems like I was a single parent, and I kind of maybe had some things to say in those conversations. Not in a mean way, but I think my initial read on your comments was colored by those conversations and I dropped into an unnecessarily defensive position (cough, rant). But yes, in many ways I have been very blessed in the relationship I have. Neither of us are or have been perfect partners at all times, but overall he’s been very good to me and to our children. Anything can always happen in the future to change something, and I am ever aware of that. But we have definitely managed to beat the statistics for families with a kiddo with our son’s level of disability thus far…

        I’m glad you have found some more dog videos to make you smile! I find myself watching some of those two cute puppy videos now sometimes, and did you know they also do cat ones? Always appreciate the recommendations for things to lighten up a life, because there can be plenty of heavy moments that need of ray of sunshine of some kind 😊

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      • Yeah, I’ve only been in one long-term relationship, and it was exhausting. It firmly established that I am indeed an introvert. I can’t begin to imagine how people pull off something like diplomacy or politics, where they’re negotiating tons of stuff for tons of different demographics. Just negotiating household schedules was tiring enough!

        Those too cute puppy videos are great! Pretty formulaic, but I never get tired of watching puppies howl when they get frustrated wandering around the blanket, lol!

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      • It sounds like you are building the life you want for yourself though. I think yes, relationships are a lot of work. I think there are different levels of introversion, with many people I love them and I love talking with them in small doses… Like I want a visit that can have a set end. If I actually don’t mind a person being around more, that is someone I can be comfortable having a relationship with. And I feel like many people tend to complicate things more than it needs to be, I don’t think things need to be dramatic. But, I have discovered I definitely don’t like sharing bedrooms 😂 because I sleep so much better! It is hard merging two lives because it’s not as easy as just doing whatever a person wants anymore (unless those are the terms of the relationship, but most people don’t set those kinds of terms, they want to exert some level of control or influence), but there does need to be some level of respect for the needs and boundaries of the other person. And that can be complicated when both parties have very different ideas about things. And now, you know, having children just complicates every other element of all of that. For me, I like being in a relationship that is functioning well, but if I were ever single again, I might just like being free for a while just so I could be my own compass… Not that I’d have much of a choice with Tony’s situation anyways 😅

        I looked up and YouTube video on the Stella dog crashing into leaves, I shall have to try to see if the other ones you mentioned are on there… And it really does sound like you have a lot of creative ideas going so far for your new book, I hope you are having a ton of fun with the research and the writing process!

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      • Yes to the bedrooms, and to BATHROOMS! I poop like a madman, so it’s a damn necessity, LOL! Plus I like staggering around in my undies with uncombed hair, and not hearing a peep from the living room when I’m taking a snooze. 😅

        The best stella one has “winter didn’t end.
        Stella destroyed it” in the caption (. That dog is NUTS! 🤣

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      • Well, Stella lives in a fortunate place to be able to do that… Out here, the only thing she’d be able to destroy is Christmas lights 😂 Pretty sure she’s smart enough to realize she can’t risk it going for the Santa and elf hats people have been taking to leaving on their cacti during the season👀

        Yeah, sometimes even having multiple bathrooms won’t save you. Take it for me. Not going to say who did the taking, but every now and then I have to take a deep breaths because things like my favorite discontinued eyeshadow brush will disappear… Or products that didn’t originate from my bathroom will get left there…And you know, we all have our moments in the bathroom. Just saying. Woke up nauseous this morning, but it wasn’t coming out the top end…. that’s just life, dude 😎

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      • This dog just might find a way—she is NUTS! 🤣

        I’m all right with those bathroom transgressions. I just like cleaning the bathroom when I want to clean it, cleaning up after myself and no one else, and also not having to wait for it. That last one is big! 😅

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      • Well, I only watched 3 or 4 of the Stella videos, including the one where she destroyed winter. But my personal favorite of the ones I saw was the one where the new puppy came into the home. The dour expression on her face was epic 😂

        Well, you are a better man than I not to be bothered by vanishing things. Probably we could just start off with that being because I am not a man, but anyway…when my morphe micro blending brush vanishes…I struggle to stay calm😅 For my own sanity I ask people to clean up messes that start with them in my bathroom space. And you know, we have three bathrooms. And you can still end up waiting for one…but, that’s not a problem you’re going to be facing…it comes with kids and other things that don’t happen in a bachelor’s life…

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      • I saw that one yesterday! Stella is like ummm…UMMMMM…😂

        Three bathrooms! I would stake my claim on one and tell everyone else MINE, lol! I’m definitely not fit to live with others anymore! 😅

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      • Spoken like a man who has no children! 😂🤣 You can try staking that sort of claim, but trust me.. they won’t listen. All your favorite products will vanish like they have their own feet from the bathroom, their stuff will creep in… They’ll deny being involved with any of that even when confronted with the evidence because they’ll worry about you being upset. I don’t even generally yell, I never spank, or do anything that should instill that kind of concern…You can talk about how important it is for you personally to have your space respected and you’ll still probably end up in the above cycle over and over again… That’s why deep breathing exercises are so useful. 😂 That and remembering how much you love the people involved…

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      • I’d probably make big bold sharpie signs with arrows pointing to the stuff declaring DON’T DO IT. Or: I SEE YOU with a pair of spooky eyes. I dunno—I’d definitely turn it into some kind of game for awhile. 🤣

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      • P.S. And, just in case you’re thinking buying them their very own supplies of the items being purloined will stop the problem…it probably won’t. They’ll loose theirs, and then still come hunting for yours because it can reliably be found in the same place…at least, if that’s the way you roll. I tend to always put my things in the same place, because I like being able to find stuff…it speeds the day along when you don’t have to go on a search and rescue for needed toiletries. Until the individuals “borrowing” your products loose yours too! 🙂

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      • 🤣🤣🤣 perhaps I shall have to try some of those things, though there really isn’t any way to create a realistic decoy for a morphe mini fluffy crease blending brush that has been discontinued 😭 why, morphe why? It was literally the most unique, useful brush in their line for someone that likes to create subtle gradients… Maybe for that one a “missing: have you seen me?” poster? Not going to lie, the last few years have been so intense that sense of humor isn’t usually my first reaction. And I probably need to do more of that. It’s more like, I have 3 minutes to get the shower done and where the fluff is my conditioner? Where’s my razor? Where’s my lotion? Deodorant???Ahhhh! That’s all internal, the shrieking part… I think my first reaction is to feel more stressed than humor because of the time crunches I’m under to try and keep all the pieces of my schedule afloat. But, honestly probably your reaction is a healthier one👏

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      • Had plenty of experience being a bad cop, have you now Kent? 🤔 Apparently one doesn’t even need to resort to enticing you with carbs to get you to go over to the dark side😉😜😂 Interestingly enough, the morphe brush was ultimately found in a backpack, though I certainly didn’t plant it there… The risk of damaging the bristles would never have been worth it 😱 Totally LMAO at the recommendation though, I’m just not so sure how it would go over in real life with the owner of the backpack. 🤣🤣🤣

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      • I only do it with humans. 😅 When I was a dog walker the company told me that I should give smaller treats or sometimes just pretend I’m giving one to the best dogs, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it until the owners started complaining they were paying for walks but their dogs were gaining weight! 🤣

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      • I suspected as much… The ease with which the recommendation flowed from your typing fingers indicates plenty of “bad cop” experience 😂 You know, I don’t know that I would have done much better withholding treats from the dogs… I’m a bit of a softie, and there has to be a health issue for me to not cave in sometimes… It’s the great big Puss in Boots a la Shrek style watery eyes that every pet I’ve ever had be they cat or dog has seemed to master… I fall for it every time!

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      • Well, depending on the pediatrician you have, if your baby has what they consider to be too much excess weight, you’re going to get a lecture not a “how cute!” I had to switch to formula entirely when Hannah was 2 weeks old, and that can cause babies to gain more weight than breast milk. The pediatrician I had at the time…yeah, I really wasn’t happy with the lecture that person gave me at her next check up. She was crawling early, it’s not like it was too much weight for her and I wasn’t going to stop feeding her when she was hungry…but you know people can be surprisingly judgmental. I had a mom from our former church once approach me with her baby, who looked so thin I fear failure to thrive was an option, and tell me that I needed to put my less than one year old baby on a diet…maybe add more water to her formula was the recommendation she gave me. Both of them got a carefully worded “I don’t agree with you and she’s doing just fine…” I was always cognizant of her health and what she needed. With pets, well…I never limited the late great Catzilla until he developed diabetes, and then he wasn’t so understanding of the changes we had to make. Probably he would have been happier over the course of his life if those limitations had existed from the get go. Just the perspective of looking back…

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      • Man those church folks seem to exist to get in each other’s business! I would never be able to keep my cool! 😅

        I was the same with my dog Sneaker. He never got diabetes, but he got up to 80 lbs when he was healthy at 60. We had to be strict about scoops and limit the treats, although when I lived in San Francisco I always took him for a Cookie Walk on Fridays. If I mentioned Cookie Walk he would go ballistic, because it was a whole thing—a walk through downtown, then a perusal of the pet store where everyone loved him, and finally a treat before we went back. 😊

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      • Good golly, you probably don’t want to get me started on the inappropriate amount of judgement and getting into people’s business that happens and happened to our me/family in our former church. At the time, things were bad enough I was really struggling to show up during that time (ok, and a few others, lol) and it was a frequent conversation between my honey and I. I struggled a lot not to go off on people at points, but I usually managed to be tactful or at the worst do nothing worse than be a little blunt. But there were definitely times I felt like I was going to loose my shit!

        I think sometimes it’s hard with animals. We had 2 other cats when we first got Dickens (Catzilla), and he was constantly going after their food also. He wasn’t massively overweight, maybe only a few pounds, but for a cat, that’s a lot! You know, cats are carnivores, so a lot of the kibble probably isn’t the best for their systems, but he needed to be on a specialized diet because he was susceptible to getting crystals in his urethra that would close it off, and that particular prescription food I think had some carby non-meat based ingredients. They pulled him onto an all-meat diet when the diabetes hit, but…I think I should have still probably put smaller amounts in the bowl, or not left it out all day, or fed the cats in separate food (I just put extra out so the other two could get enough while he was busy trying to horde all of the food in sight) something and that might have helped!

        It sounds like you had a very loving relationship with that dog, and really, I didn’t mean my statements about looking back I would have done differently to leave you feeling judged! Dickens got super unhappy with the changes that had to happen with the diabetes, and he got super spiteful about it with me in particular, so…it left me with a lot to reflect on, lol!

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      • Maybe it’s the text interface, but I never get any judgment or saltiness from you, lol! As far as the cat, it sounds like he and my dog wouldn’t have gotten along; they both liked to maow down food!

        Sneaker was my first dog, so yeah, of course I loved him. I was a stereotypical reluctant dog dad, then once I started living with him, of course we became best buddies. He was one of those dogs where if he wasn’t smiling, he looked sad or scared by default because he had big eyes and a baggy-skinned face, so he got away with murder! He was probably gloating in his mind, calling me an easily manipulatable human! 😅

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      • Well, I wasn’t judging you here, but I have known people who would have felt like I was perhaps implying judgement just by saying I would have done something different looking back. So, I had just wanted to clarify that I was not, in fact, trying to judge 😀

        I have said it before publicly, but our little Dickens was kinda like the sister from Ever After, “only here for the food,” lol! Although that description is a shallow caricature that somewhat maligns him. Truth is he was an extraordinarily loving cat until the diabetes, and then I don’t think he understood after 12 years of being pampered and spoiled why he was getting food restrictions and injections…but he was Hannah’s favorite cat at that point, so…I did what I must, and he only turned on me, he was still extraordinarily loving with everyone else. As long as they didn’t try to take away his food, lol!

        So yeah, he and sneaker might have felt a bit of food rivalry for sure! And I think all of our pets are secretly gloating about how easily manipulated we are! Bandit, Hannah’s current kitty…super smart! He’s figured out I am the most easily awoken person in the house right now, so if he wants to be petted in the middle of the night….if he doesn’t think he’s been fed quick enough, he’ll come yowling at my feet and try to lead me to her and his food bowl…I could go on. I am glad you had an awesome pet experience after being initially reluctant about it. Sometimes it can go either way you know, or just end sadly. My very first personal pet that belonged to me only (a rabbit) got bone cancer within the first year of his life. I was six and I cried for 2 days straight!

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      • I think I live vicariously through them—I, too, would love to be able to just constantly stuff my face and not give a damn! 😅 It’s partly what inspired me to write that scene in A Door into Evermoor where they go to Alijyar’s house and are stuffing their face with mountains of noms. Sneaker once ate half my pizza, he’s got into a bunch of trash cans, eaten catfood and the other dog’s food, and gotten into the dog food bags. There was one time he scared the crap out of me because he got in a dog food bag and his stomach tripled in size; I thought he might have bloat. I think that was the only time I was relieved when he threw it all up and went back to normal Sneaker size. 😂

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      • Was Sneaker a rescue dog? The way you describe him being with food sounds like how all of our rescue animals acted…I had a Maine Coon cat that had been abandoned and he was my first Kitty, and he had been living on the streets for a little bit… I was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich once and I felt this tug from the other side and there he was taking a bite out of the back end 😂
        I’m glad that Sneaker didn’t get seriously sick when he ate all of that stuff and just vomited it up, it’s scary sometimes when our pets get into some things that they shouldn’t! Dickens did that once when I was still working, actually I had just gotten pregnant with Hannah and I paid thousands of dollars to save his furry little life on that occasion because he ended up perforating his bowel. The vet thought I was going to balk at the proposed bill and just put him down but I very tearfully proclaimed “I don’t care how much it costs you just save my kitty’s life!” We had the luxury of two paychecks back then…

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      • He was! I picked him because his siblings were pushing him around. We got him a too early at six weeks old from a shady rescue agency. He couldn’t sleep well for a couple of weeks because he had a disproportionately big puppy belly; I think he had a hard time breathing when he laid down on it. I called it his “pogo belly.” 😂

        We got another puppy at 12 weeks. A little cairn terrier mix named Bodhi. That guy wasn’t a rescue, but he was always trying to steal human food specifically. We tried to train him with clicker stuff, but it only could go so far because he was little and he lost interest in food, but if he was in your lap he’d snap at your tacos or chicken or whatever. One day, I woke up in the middle of the night to hear loud crunching, then I walk to the kitchen and find some leftover wings had fallen on the floor and Bodhi was eating them. He snarled up a storm when I took them away, even drew blood from my fingers because he was biting down so hard and caught my skin in between his teeth! Crazy little shit! 🤣

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      • Cairn terriers are super cute! Yeah, every dog I’ve ever been around has been happy to mooch or forage for human food…it’s just so bad for them though! Bad for cats too for that matter…not that it stops any of them from trying. And yeah, if you try to take things away from Hannah’s current kitty, Bandit, you could end up with scratches, etc. because he’s also willing to defend his right by tooth or claw to eat things he shouldn’t! I think that’s something that comes with the pet owner territory, at least with dogs and cats….

        So, what do you think made that particular rescue agency shady? It sounds like if they were releasing the puppies early that is a bit of a red flag for sure, so was it just that? What breed was Sneaker? I know you’ve mentioned a “baggy-skinned face,” but that can happen with more than one breed…

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      • I think the first and foremost is the fact that he was only six weeks old, so we took him away from his mom too early. I only found that out later when I got more dogs—apparently, you’re not supposed to adopt em out if they’re less than 12 weeks old. Also, he was coated in fleas (that’s probably more common), and if I remember correctly, they never interviewed us or even collected on their fee. It was just sign these forms and you can have him.

        I know Sneaks was part-ridgeback, because the ridge showed whenever he was one edge, but he’s definitely a mutt, because he was light gold, not reddish brown, and he was super unathletic, which is pretty un-Ridgebacklike, LOL! I tried to run with him a few times, but after half a mile he’d sit and start crying. And when I did sprints on a field he’d follow along for a few rounds, then just lay down and pant. He had a default sad face, so people always fell for him. I remember he had my ex wrapped around his finger; one time she yelled at him, then he slowly plodded to the corner, sat and stared at it, then laid down facing it while sighing sadly. She was simultaneously amused while her heart was melting, but much more heart-melted than amused. I was just cracking up. 🤣

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      • 😂🤣 ok, I’m sorry, but that’s actually super hilarious! Sounds like Sneaker had a fun personality 😂 And yeah, from what little I know about ridgebacks if your Sneaker was unathletic he was possibly mixed, but you never know. Sometimes children of whatever species don’t breed true to the characteristics of their parents.

        Wow, that definitely sounds like a shady rescue agency! Especially where dogs are concerned. We approached a rescue agency about adopting a dog about 3 years ago, they turned us down because of Tony. Another agency didn’t want to work with us either because of that. So, you know that’s going to be very complicated because sometimes people just get concerned that he is an automatic danger to anything, but he’s actually very gentle. But I remember on the applications they were wanting financial disclosures to make sure we could actually pay for food and emergency vet bills so to not do any vetting… you are correct, a sign of shadiness! And at least for cats, they have a solution that you can just apply on the back of the head to get rid of fleas. Poor little Dickens had fleas when they dumped him out of the truck as a roughly 4 week old kitten, and when we pulled off the side of the road and got him and took him to our vet she gave us a topical that took care of the problem quite easily. So definitely another red flag! Right now we’re kind of just on hold in terms of bringing any new pets into the home because there’s only so much I personally can do right now. I think though we are probably not going to be able to use rescue agency, which is something I tend to like to do, because many of them will discriminate against families with the loved ones who has level three autism or other developmental disabilities. I know they’re trying to do what they see is best for the dogs, but just because somebody has a disability doesn’t mean that they are going to hurt an animal or that their family would even allow that to happen in the first place.

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      • What about a foster? You could get medical bills and food paid for, and you have a good chance of getting a mellow older dog. I’ll probably do that next time I’m ready to hang around dogs again. Man–I remember raising Bodhi as a puppy, I had to start with taking him out 5 or 6 times a day, then once he got used to the schedule, he would pee in the house if I didn’t stick to it with a five minute margin of error. Over time, I slowly added a minute to his times, then two minutes, then in a month or two I would merge two breaks together. It took a while to get him down to two breaks a day…exhausting just thinking about it. Maybe I’m idealizing older dogs, but I would like to think I wouldn’t have to go through that again! 😅

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      • I’m going to try and answer this really quickly while I’m waiting for my sister, so if I end fast or it doesn’t make sense I’ll fix it later 😅 First time I have seen her in person in more than 10 years, so I am jittery AF. The dog we were applying for was an older dog, my friend Gena had been trying to help us find the dog she felt would be good for Tony and our circumstances (she’s a veterinarian who has contacts within these agencies). Neither of us was expecting it to go the way that it did. I agree potty training or housebreaking a puppy is more than I can do right now. Emily felt very badly about how it went because she was the person who recommended the other agency, and because she’s just an absolute sweetheart she offered to housebreak a puppy for me, but I love her and I know her life is crazy busy and I don’t want to put her up to that. So, it just needs to be on hold for a bit so I can find a situation that works well with my current circumstances and capability of being a responsible pet parent.

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      • I hope the meeting with your sister went well! I’m assuming the ten year break is from church issues…

        That’s too bad about the older dog. I think the best way to do it might be to have enough money for a dedicated dog room and biweekly cleaning service. Man, I remember when I was working at the dog walking/sitting company, they were headquartered in a townhouse, and they needed professional cleaners EVERY DAY just to keep up. Even then the staff was constantly cleaning. But still, you can’t beat the feeling of getting raucously greeted by thirty dogs when you walk in the door! 😁

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      • And, given that the agencies’ concern was that they felt like Tony could be bad for an animal, I don’t think either the agencies concerned would let us Foster. Literally. The representative for the first agency even put that as the reason in the email they sent me….

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      • My meeting with my sister went very well, thank you for asking! And, no, it actually didn’t have anything to do with our former church. I am more than happy to stick it to them for whatever they are actually responsible for, but this wasn’t one of them. I want to respect the feelings of everybody involved and say that I believe everyone was coming from the place they thought was best at that time. I don’t really want to flesh out the specifics but will only say it resulted from what was a strong difference of opinion we had at that time as to how much access to my life I should allow my mother and step-father to myself and my children. My view at the time of the discussion that led to the breach and now is that the access should be absolutely zero. I have my reasons for that. Especially my stepfather in particular, he deserves nothing from me, and my first responsibility as a parent is to protect my children. I love my sister and I always have, and better than anyone I understand all the many things our childhood could do to someone.

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      • That’s a healthy perspective! Ultimately, I believe it’s correct as well. I do think in some grand, existential sense, everyone is doing the best they can, and eventually will get where they wish to be.

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      • And, I don’t know if the agency had experience or if the person was just going based on fears and assumptions. I actually took Tony out to meet with the dog so they could see how he was, that really change anything. At some point, I want to get a service dog for Tony, but it was important to Andy and Hannah especially to have a dog in the family that could just be seen as a pet. And I understand that. So, we were trying to find a family pet dog, because really a service dog…it’s going to be trained specifically to the needs Tony has and will be dedicated to him. So we were trying to find something that would work well for everyone involved. I don’t want to speculate too much as to what kind of experience the representatives for this agency did and didn’t have, but often I find people aren’t operating off of a situation with direct experience when it comes to someone like my son, they are acting off of stereotypes and fears and judgements.

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      • And, I’m going to add one other blurb of information about how our former church teaches in regards to the handling of family matters, because I am the level of geeky that cares about accuracy and correcting what may be a misperception. Because my sister was never a member of our former church, the official LDS position would be that they would hope I would do everything I could to convert her, or be an example of “righteousness” (as they view it). Or at the very least that I should keep referring them to the missionaries or inviting them to church. I did none of the above, so sadly I was a massive disappointment when it comes to the positions of our former church no doubt in that regard. So, while certainly my sister didn’t love the fact that I joined our former church, I never made it part of our relationship in that way. I very much wanted to have the best relationship possible with her, and I knew that would be very upsetting for her if I did. Typically, LDS leadership will encourage someone to do everything they can to maintain a family relationship past the point of what is even healthy in certain circumstances…unless, and this is an important unless, unless it is a family member who has resigned their membership from the church. Then, previous leaders have taught that it may be necessary to interrupt those relationships for a time to bring them back into the fold, I’m paraphrasing, but not by much. That really is the gist of the original quote.

        I would say that the leadership of the LDS church has placed such an emphasis on forming relationships with “righteous” individuals, that how I have seen this play out time and time again when I was a member was that most families wouldn’t let their kids play with anybody who wasn’t LDS, many members keep their more serious friendships between people who are members of the church (and if they are forming friendships outside of the church they are often doing so in the hopes of converting someone). I encouraged Hannah to form genuine friendships and relationships that did not involve proselytizing with anybody regardless of their church affiliation, and that is also what I chose to do myself. And those are the best friends that I still have after having left…because they didn’t give a fuck where I went to church. I think people should always be valued for themselves and themselves alone, and that pushing my church affiliations off on other people didn’t show respect for their beliefs.

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      • You know what’s interesting, is that I think like all religions there’s a kernel of truth in what they teach, specifically attracting people through example. Although I would replace being righteous with being happy and fulfilled, which entails not caring about using personal example to draw people in.

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      • I don’t think time is going to change much when it comes to what happened with that situation with the dog. I was there too at that meeting…Tony climbed on their couch, wanted to play chase around their couch, but other than that, he was a “model citizen,” to quote Cobra Bubbles. This was a meeting in someone’s home, and he had progressed enough at that point in his fear of new places that new home environments weren’t provoking him.
        We were asked not to let Tony use the bathroom at the public office at the school across the street from our house not because of any behaviors he had. If Tony wants something (and he wanted to use their bathroom) he’s on his best behavior as long as he’s getting what he wants. So we actually never had any behaviors of concern in that office in the 6 years he’d been going in. Sometimes it’s just that his disability in general makes people uncomfortable and they are assuming the worst could happen. I had noticed the expression on one of the staff member’s faces as she was watching us in the two weeks headed up to us being asked. It’s always possible they have seen some of his outbursts in the community when he’s upset about something and felt like they’d just rather insure that sort of thing never happened in their office, but if you actually watch Tony even when he is trying to push to something, it’s very clear he’s not being aggressive. He leans his shoulder and his weight into the person who’s blocking him from what he wants in a way that is designed to try and move them but not hurt them. Is it a problem? Yes. Is it aggressive? Every BCBA or therapist who’s ever seen it has agreed with me it’s not. And the representative from that agency witnessed none of that, knew none of that, it was her first meeting with Tony and our family. And he didn’t try to flee. He didn’t cry. He didn’t break anything, he watched his kindle and tried to run around their sofa several times. So, he was being a kid from my perspective.

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      • That’s too bad. I’m not really sure why anyone would care about the shoulder thing, it sounds kind of funny and cute. Well, rescues aren’t the end-all be-all…when the time is right, I’m sure things will fall into place and you’ll get yourself a fuzzy! 😁

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      • Well, the financial model and survival of our former church hinges upon being able to draw people in (that and continuing to invest unspent tithing moneys while continuing to avoid paying local and state level clergy), because currently they are bleeding members left and right because the internet has brought a day of reckoning to the leadership for decades upon decades of lying about certain things. So. Yes, I think there are kernels of truth in many things and many groups and many religions. There are even positives when it comes to my former church if a person is willing to look for them. But I think many groups are focused on a narrow view of morality and righteousness vs. sin and punishment, and I’m just taking a hard pass on that particular view of things right now. I do have some things I view as being right and wrong, but I think it’s more based on what is a decent way to treat the people around me.

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      • I really think all those groups and philosophies are supposed to lead to people self-realizing and not needing them at all. Or if people choose to use them after they’ve served their purpose, use them simply as a fun place to hang out and chat, lol.

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  3. I’m just going to start a new comment because it’s starting to feel like I’m scrolling up miles to get to that reply link 😀 Well, when it comes to the leaning in with the shoulder thing, that person had no idea that even happens. Really, he was happy -hyperactive, but happy. And, he wasn’t even chasing the dog. Tony’s version of chase isn’t reciprocal, it’s very focused on him. He wants to be chased, he doesn’t understand why he should want to chase anyone else in return. My little man is often very focused in his own wants. And as to why that would be a problem, well, he’s 130 pounds of cuteness. And, if he’s trying to use all of his weight to should push his way through someone to something, how much of a problem it is depends on how dangerous it is or how upset other people could be if he does it. So it’s a habit we’ve been trying to break since it cropped up. It has the potential to be a very dangerous behavior, because he’s still not at a point where he’ll stop on request when he’s stuck in an “I really, really want that” kind of place or an “I’m really, really scared by that” place. He’d be dead thousands of times over if I weren’t blocking him. We’re seeing a lot of improvements, but again, we’re racing against time here.

    And, you know, when it comes to the church stuff. Really, our former church doesn’t operate that way. They don’t really want people to become self-realizing, because then they won’t feel like they need the LDS leadership and structure, and maybe they won’t feel like they need to pay tithing. That group is extremely demanding…which is why it can and has been referred to as a “high demand” religion. They ask and expect a lot of their members, and part of what they ask is absolute obedience and that members rely only upon the words of the church leaders when it comes to spiritual matters. And it’s not a fun place to hang out there if you’re constantly feeling judged or if you think people will judge you even more if they know certain things about you that you would be heavily discouraged from making public in an LDS setting. It is a very shame based culture, and on top of that, despite teaching that people shouldn’t judge, in practice, the focus on prioritizing all of that so-called “righteous” behavior is that I have never been in a more judgmental environment in my entire life than our former church.

    My sister and I were talking on Sunday, because it’s a strange coincidence that she’s been going to one of the unitarian congregations for the last few years or so (and that’s actually where we met up this past weekend)- she actually was working the days I had visited that congregation previously so we never ran into each other. And she mentioned how it’s kind of like a social group and at least half of the members of that congregation are atheists. That’s about the level of spiritual group I can tolerate, where it is more about self-realizing and everyone gets together to socialize, etc. But a lot of groups, I think, don’t send that message to it’s members, that it’s ok to do that. Really in my experience they don’t, they want you to look to them and only to them. Which is part of why I’m really turned off by participating in most religious groups services any more, I don’t want to be told I have to agree to certain things to be given the stamp of approval to be there. Because I don’t agree with those certain things…it is what it is.

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    • My cult-lite experience was similar to yours, but sounds like mine was way less intense. That doesn’t sound fun for anyone, including the leaders! Me and my former cult-lite homies came to that same conclusion—no one seemed to be having fun around here, they just pretended like it, then lapsed back into bitterness and misery.

      I think it’s kind of funny that there are atheists in a congregation…part of me wonders if that could be a measure of quality, lol! If your congregation isn’t attracting atheists, then it’s doing something wrong, and it needs to shift gears. I feel like there’s something weirdly profound in that!

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      • Well, I think when it comes to the leadership of our former church, I rather think it’s a different experience for them simply because 1) it’s a system that favors men, and the top leaders of the church are always men, and so it’s working out pretty well for them, and 2) the highest levels of male leadership in our former church receive a very attractive set of financial incentives on top of a very cozy yearly salary (the highest level of female leadership still don’t get paid or receive those types of incentives). So, probably it’s working out pretty well for them…they have an entire group of people that are supposed to listen to everything they say, they’re getting everything paid for…yeah, probably not so bad for them as long as they agree with all of the rules. And, since they’re making the rules… honestly though, probably some of them became closet atheists. I don’t even know how else you could get to that level, know how much has been misrepresented to the members, and still think that breaking the biblical commandments of lying and coveting is consistent with being God’s only true and chosen church (which is what they teach the LDS church is). But if you are a congregant of that church, you can’t openly discuss believing there isn’t a God. You will be socially ostracized if not called into the Bishop’s office and told you need to go through some sort of repentance and study process designed to reindoctrinate you into submission. So, it’s definitely a more intense cult-lite experience, the LDS church.

        You know, one of the tenants of unitarian universalists is respect for all religious beliefs, so they welcome anyone into their congregations from any belief system as long as they were willing to adhere to that and show respect to the differing views of others. So, it is actually pretty common as I understand it to have not only atheists in the congregation, but some of their ministers are also atheists. I remember the first time I went in person to one of the local UU congregations (I had been listening to the sermons for this particular pastor on-line for some time), and he was a gay atheist humanist. And he quoted something from a leader in our former church, Holland specifically. And I thought to myself, if this man and this group in particular can still manage to find something worth using in a sermon from a religious group that has poured so much money and effort into fighting marriage equality and done a great deal of harm to it’s LGBTQIA members, this is a group I can handle showing up to when I feel like going anywhere of that nature. I am not selling them as a group to you or anyone else, merely saying that is why I personally feel more comfortable attending there and it is the group I would be most likely to join if I ever felt like joining another congregation again (although that particular minister is retired, so it’s not his congregation per se that I feel at peace with, it’s the way that group teaches respect for other spiritual beliefs).

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      • You’re probably right about the closet atheists thing, but at the same time, it’s pretty remarkable how people can condition themselves to just avoid any situation that directs them toward introspection. For the people I know that do it, it doesn’t even become a conscious decision, they just start flailing for any and all excuses that will get them away from self-reflection, regardless of logic. They also, from what I’ve seen, tend to become more and more insulated, so as to avoid those types of situations.

        I like that anecdote about your unitarian fellow being willing to draw wisdom from a generally opposite set of principles. But I probably would have been haunted by a scooby-doo suspicion that he would tear off his face mask and reveal himself to be LDS! 😅

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      • Ok, I’m totally LMAO about that last bit, the fear of that minister taking off a mask and revealing himself to be LDS! You know, I struggled for awhile with some pretty intense negative feelings towards anything even associated with our former church. I saw it as a mark of some level of healing recently when I looked at a hymn book from our former church and I felt OK to play any of the songs of LDS origin (many of the hymns in that book were borrowed from other Christian faith traditions, so I still hang onto them because I am familiar with the arrangements…I do not identify as Christian, but I still like playing hymns sometime because I find the musical arrangements to be pretty and soothing).
        Up until recently, any songbook with songs of only LDS origin I would have wanted to burn it or dump it in the recycle bin and I certainly never would have played anything from a book of mixed authorship. I think it is important to respect the beliefs of others, but I have to struggle against all of the worst within myself to get passed the desire to see my former church fail on every level for what the leadership has done. It’s the whole thing about the top leadership knowing and I do mean knowing that they have been lying about and covering up certain historical facts about the origins of the church, and in doing so have assumed a divine mandate they don’t have and used the mandate to hurt and inappropriately control a lot of people.
        I think many people in groups like my former church use thought stopping and blocking techniques because they are trying to insulate themselves from information that could cause the kind of dissonance within themselves that brings awareness to the forefront of their mind in a way that demands action, because failing to act on it can cause more mental harm once you know. When you walk away from that kind of group, my experience in loosing my LDS friends isn’t unique. Many people will also get shunned by their families, though thankfully for my honey that didn’t happen for him. But even for families that don’t cut off the person (s) who left, they still treat them differently and sometimes in ways that can be toxic. So, socially some people have a lot to loose. Many members will file for divorce if their spouse leaves. I know people who their only reason for staying is that they don’t want to split their family apart, go through a divorce, fight for custody with a potentially LDS judge who will automatically favor the “faithful” parent in the ruling, that sort of thing. It’s a hard path to be on, and awareness will put you on that path. And, at least in our former church, the specifically taught frequently how the members should avoid accepting any sort of thinking about spiritual matters that wasn’t given to them by the leaders of the church. So, avoidance of that kind of introspection is often baked into the dogma and spiritual practices of certain groups. Sorry for the rant…Really, really love not being part of that group anymore! The leaving cost me socially and it hurt like hell going through loosing those relationships, but I never regret it. I am thankful every day, and if someone did whip off a scooby mask and reveal themselves to be LDS in hiding, I can just walk away from that thankful to no longer be a part of that in any way.

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      • That’s great that you’re letting go of the bitterness! Nice that you realize that it’ll hold you back after a certain point. I’m pretty sure that over time it will fade even further. That’s how it worked for my issues, anyway.

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      • Staying bitter still gives them some form of control in my life, and any form of control in my life is more than they deserve. And I have found it to be true in other things that holding onto the anger and resentment prevents me from fully experiencing any joys I could be having in the present moment. Sometimes when we spend too much time resurrecting the past with our thoughts, it just perpetuates the damage.

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      • That’s definitely something I had to learn the hard way! It was like my brain was constantly justifying everything I had done or was going to do 24/7. Eventually I realized no one cared about my justifications; they nodded politely but if I bought them up again, they had already forgotten. I was defending myself to a nonexistent jury! 😅

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      • Well, to be honest I see staying in a state of bitterness and feeling the need to justify my actions to lessen the judgements of others as separate matters. I feel like in general, people are far more concerned with their own lives than they are with mine, however, I definitely have experienced being judged pretty intensely by some people that think they are not just on the jury but that they have the right to play judge.
        Would I ever try to justify or explain my actions to leaders of our former church? No, I don’t care what they think when it comes to what I do. I don’t waste my breath if I know someone 1)isn’t gong to listen to me, or 2) I’m not going to agree with them. If my actions hurt someone I cared about and I felt like we needed to bridge the gap of some misunderstanding, I might try to explain…but I wouldn’t justify if I realized I was in the wrong. If I felt like I was acting appropriately, whether or not I died on that hill with explaining/justifying might depend on the situation. For situations that don’t involve health or the personal safety of myself or my kiddos, it really isn’t essential I feel to be proven right and the quest for being crowned most right can often be highly corrosive to relationships.

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      • Don’t I know it! I used to get into internet arguments because I was all about formal logic for awhile, and I’d almost always win, but it was exhausting in the end. And what can we really prove, anyway? Until we know the fundamental nature of the universe where we can rule out (or verify) that we’re living in a simulation, or at least know the deal behind those UFOs that were making headlines a couple years ago, it’s just being argumentative for being argumentative’s sake, as far as I’m concerned. Fine if other people do it, but I’m too lazy! 😅

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      • But I suppose perhaps you were talking about how our thought can be perpetuating damage? Probably the experience for the ways in which our thoughts are limiting/damaging/holding us back varies from person to person. Sometimes, for me personally with my memories, it’s like there’s not a separation…in the sense that I can think back to a certain memory and the vibrancy allows me to feel all that as if it were now. And, that can be pretty rough when the memory is an unpleasant one. Focusing on pain/bitterness for me keeps me in a cycle where I am always feeling that pain. So, part of moving on involves creating a partition where I can recognize that the joy I want is in the present, and sometimes in the potential future, and that holding on to those experiences and memories with or without justification keeps me in a less productive and more painful position.

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      • That’s where emotional intelligence kicks in for me. If I’m feeling drained from continually telling myself how good I am compared to how I used to be, then it’s a no-go (and honestly, that’s mostly how I feel nowadays—I used to constantly contemplate the past to try and eke out points for myself). On occasion, however, especially around friends, it’s nice to kick around some old memories, laugh at them, and soundly declare fuck THAT! I’d never do that now! 😊

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      • I think trying to prove how correct one is has negative ramifications in more present, real-life relationships and connections. Yes, there’s a real person at the other end of an on-line chat, but they aren’t the people you are having to live or work with. So many times people are convinced of their rightness based on a memory, and science is telling us exactly how malleable those are. How often we as a species edit what is stored, consciously or subconsciously …and even if we don’t, how that memory is formed is based on so many moving components. What we saw, what we heard, how our brain interpreted that data. It’s like that dress from several years back where everyone on-line was arguing about what colors they saw. Sometimes, the biological variability even is influencing what we are seeing and what we are remembering. Arguing about the infallibility of all of that…well, it’s a loosing position, ultimately, especially if it creates hard feelings in your closest relationships. Yes, there are certain lines a person can set for oneself that they believe shouldn’t be crossed, and mine personally involve safety types of things, but I think for me all I see is that when you take a stand that you are right, even if you are sure that you are, the other person often feels alienated. It’s often best to find a way to honor the perspectives of everyone involved.

        That being said, on-line discussions are there own rabbit hole. Even if you think you are winning based on the rules of logic and evidence, someone can be so convinced of the information they believe it just really won’t matter what the logic or evidence demonstrates. Sometimes I will try to have those conversations with people just so they will understand my position, but you know, some people just don’t want to understand. They just want to live and believe in the information they are soaking in inside of their own bubbles. Sometimes I suppose I have done similar things, so I cannot judge…

        And, sometimes it isn’t about emotional intelligence for me. It’s about how do I stop my body from processing this memory from the past as if it were actually happening right here, right now, and I’m still being flooded with all of those feelings, and my chemistry is reacting to a threat from the past as if it is now. But in general, age does bring a freedom from certain things we were so concerned about when we were younger. And, sometimes not. Sometimes you have to work hard to find that freedom from those thoughts. I was talking to our son’s OT yesterday, and later reflected about what I said for my reasons that I don’t wear bikinis, and I just cringed. And I realized, you know what, why should my daughter think I mean anything I say about ignoring certain pressures to look a certain way if I can’t set an example of letting those things not get to me and modify my behavior myself? So I went shopping. And sometimes looking back and comparing helps, and sometimes it doesn’t for me. I can’t fix where my life would be if I hadn’t done certain things or if I had. Best I can do is try to find what I am capable of enjoying now in certain respects. But in others, I think it is good for me to see if I am falling short of where I want to be. It just depends for me. But, I can embrace saying FUCK that to a whole lot more things than I could when I was younger, for sure…

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      • I’m can see where you’re coming from, I think, and I’m with you on the general intent behind each point. My approach, if I had to boil it down to a simple sentence, would be to enjoy being a happy idiot. 😁

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      • Well, I think happiness you can attain, certainly. But that last part? While in general it’s a term I dislike, and really I disapprove of how our species seems to want to differentiate that way… really though I think it is quite clear to me that term has not been your fate. Certainly a person can camouflage what they are, and life circumstances can change what they have in terms of ability or what they are capable of, but I’m afraid you will not convince me of that last bit 😑😂.

        So I did finally start reading the second Echo book yesterday, and again, I think you have a lot of creativity… I did decide that certain sections of it weren’t good to read while I was eating though 😂 Nothing like a description of cannibalism paired with fighting off a stomach bug to convince you that perhaps you should be watching a makeup video instead while eating dinner 🤣

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      • I think it’s a term that works for me personally, as far as where I am right now. I’ve gone way down the other route, so now it’s time to balance things out a bit. 😁

        Man, been so long since I mucked around in Echo world…nice to see that you got to Leat! His name is a play on words: Lee Atwater. Lee was a paradigm-shifting Republican operative who came up with the Southern strategy, the eighties plan to polarize voters through code-word racism. His blueprint is still in use today and set the stage for divisiveness-based tactics. He really didn’t have any values aside from win everything, so I figured in a future life, he’d be an oblivious cannibal who couldn’t stop consuming the less fortunate. 😅

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      • And what I meant by that last part is that I am going to have to wait until I am not already fighting to keep my food down before I read any further…but I will finish it 😊

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      • It’s like you just said, “hint, hint, this book is gong to trigger you!” Lol! I think I figured the potential was there after the first one, but I’m a big girl and I’ll be just fine 😉 I know when I am at places where I can and can’t handle reading certain things. I am going to finish Heather Walter’s “Malice” first, but then I am going to indeed finish reading the second Echo book…but thank you for being so willing to avoid taking offense if I should have chosen to skip it 😀

        Ok, knowing the inspiration for Leat’s character is awesome! I find the “win at all costs” philosophy Mr. Atwater embraced to be utterly repugnant. To me I am saddened that so many people have fallen for the use of an utterly amoral approach in trying to claim championing what they view as the most moral vision of society. And the modern “architects” using of this approach don’t even embrace morality that way.

        Well, you can use whatever terms for you, just as long as you don’t expect me to adopt or embrace them! I spent far too many years growing up being called stupid and listening to my parents belittle the intellect of others, so I have a personal distaste for using the term. You know, to me, the adulation certain portions of society want to heap on intellectual gifts is unjustified. A gift of nature is not a statement about what that person themselves has done of their own work or virtue. And, some incredibly intelligent people are equal or greater parts dysfunctional. All my life it has occurred to me how strange it was to be praised for something I could just do automatically…it’s like, nobody goes around saying to one another…”wow, great job breathing, that is so fabulous, we need to rank you as a great breather!” Nature can give, and nature can take. That has nothing to do with me or anyone else. Because someone was less lucky in the eyes of another…what does that really mean? And does it lessen their ability to have a happy and meaningful life? Just my thoughts for me. It’s your life, your take gets to be what you live by, not mine. Wishing you a wonderful day! 🙂 Ari

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      • Yeah, I’m not big on fetishizing intelligence either. I’ve just seen too many people that are way more capable than me or happier than me who aren’t smart. Quentin Tarantino, for example, is kind of a savant as far as knowing how to put together something entertaining, but I’ve listened to interviews of him, and his critical thinking is terrible. And, of course, Keanu Reeves.

        I learned pretty young that I’m smart. I looked down on people for a while who weren’t as intelligent (which is the majority of people I interacted with), and I was threatened by people who were more intelligent. That was miserable, in retrospect: either living in smug superiority, or in low-key fear of someone who was smart. After a deep dive into trying to logically outdo everybody and also outwork them, I realized I was pushing in the wrong direction. It’s kind of depressing once you start seeing anecdotes of people who work way harder than everyone else but fall so much shorter, and people who are super smart but can’t seem to exert the control they’re supposed to enjoy. And it’s even more depressing when it becomes evident that they’re not necessarily happy because of their work ethic or their smarts. Am I here to try and outthink and outwork everyone? Only if it makes me happy, which I’ve found it doesn’t. 😊

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      • Ah, nooooo, we’re not going after Keanu Reeves, are we? 💔😵

        One could throw platitudes and quotes all day long about this, so I will indulge in only one… it’s used so often as to have become quite trite: “comparison is the thief of joy.”

        One should ask when it comes to determining whether or not it is really beneficial to try and quantify the intelligence and the type thereof that a person has is: “who is this really benefiting? And, how is it benefiting them?” I think perhaps the most intelligent thing a person can do in regards to so-called intelligence is realize the depth of what they do not know. And that is sometimes so much more than people would like to believe.

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      • I think it becomes kind of circular tail-chase in the end. What we can prove shows that we’re pretty insignificant in the cosmos, and straight-up ignorant as far as the underlying nature of reality. When I was a kid, I used to wonder if I was a brain in a jar. It’s kind of why I’ve gravitated toward feelings—I’ve managed to feel great in bad situations and bad in great ones, and yeah, sure, I’ll angle for good situations, but my main focus is going to be on managing my emotions. (Like Keanu Reeves who turned down Speed 2 on a gut feeling. Sandra Bullock took it for the money and said she’s regretted it ever since). In the long run, what’s a good situation and a bad situation anyway? I’m sure amazing things have come from bad situations, and I’m sure horrible things have come from good ones.

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      • Ok…I *think* *maybe* I have enough carbs starting to hit my system to respond. Only Maybe, lol! Maybe this will be coherent and cohesive…so, yeah. I think as a species we’re pretty full of ourselves. We think we are all that and bag of chips, as they used to say so many years ago, that we are collectively so smart, and yet we’re on the brink of taking so many species and possibly ourselves even off the planet with our collective hubris and greed. Is it really intelligent to destroy so much of what you need for survival? When I was young, I used to get teased by classmates who would hear me talk and shrilly hurl taunts like “why don’t you speak English” at me, and I’d disdainfully fling right back “why don’t you *learn* it.” Back in those playground days, both sides thought they were smarter. In the end, it doesn’t matter who technically is on paper or otherwise. Age, disease, accident can take all of that from any person at any time. I personally think what matters more is how we treat the people around us.

        And you know, sometimes those gut level feelings can take us to good places, sometimes what we think is an intuitive feeling may be, as Scrooge said, a bit of indigestion or the like, and following it won’t end up so great. It’s complicated, and we’re all just doing the best we can. I appreciate that you have put up with my crazy long responses, I really should edit me down. It’s a worse flood of words and thoughts in my head, trust me on that one…take good care of yourself! 🙂

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      • That’s a healthy way to look at it, and a good way of avoiding judging someone for not doing their best. I remember watching some science show describing how they detected the first gravity waves a few years back. This is a terrible example because I forget the specifics, but basically some twist of laziness on the observers’ part allowed them to glimpse the gravity waves at a critical moment, when they would have missed it otherwise due to the setup. That’s probably the vaguest, most unhelpful anecdote ever, but I’m just trying to emphasize point that you never know what will end up being a good outcome. 😅

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      • Well, I think it is a very subjective thing, the idea of whether or not someone is doing their best. The answer is going to vary from person to person and their perspective, what they know about a person and their circumstances, and what they value as being the best. I know there are people who look at some of my outcomes and say it is not an example of someone doing their best. And there are some people that see it the opposite. At the end of the day, I usually don’t know enough about what is actually going on in someone’s life to make an accurate determination of whether or not they are doing their best… just my thoughts.

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      • I agree. I’m fairly certain that’s why I’ve directed my life onto the path I have. I’m too lazy now to try and pretend I enjoy the competition and judginess that comes with being around motivated people. And super chill people just don’t have enough drive or passion to stave off my boredom. It’s pretty cliche at this point, but for me it’s dogs over people for the most part, lol!

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      • Hmm. I think we’re all competing for something, even if it is seemingly trivial to others. Technically, every time there’s a limited edition eye shadow palette released that I know isn’t going to have remaining stock make it past the first 10-15 minutes of being available for purchase, if I want a chance at owning it, I have to have a website stalking and purchasing strategy designed to compete with every YouTube beauty channel that didn’t get sent this in PR that’s going to be buying it just so that they can put up a review and then never use the palette again. Because reviews (especially ones that are posted before or relatively quickly in relation to the launch timing) are the lifeblood of views for most of those channels… Perhaps we don’t enjoy competing, but we all do it. You’re competing for the time and money of your readers…so I suppose the thing is to compete for something you love.

        Ideally I would want to see a society that didn’t have competition at the heart of every practice, but survival seems to be predicated in some ways upon balancing and juggling acts of competitions. Could we perhaps envision a society where that wasn’t necessary? Sure, but you’d have to get every single person to willingly lay aside their own greed and passions for excess on certain things. Not even in my most optimistic moment do I see humanity collectively going in that direction.

        That being said, you know, I do enjoy a certain amount of people time for me personally. Eating breakfast and visiting with my good friend Gena on Saturday, spending time eating cheeses and drinking non-alcoholic wine with Andy (I can’t drink the real stuff because of my medical history), walking and talking with Emily on Sunday, visiting with my sister a couple hours later…all the brightest spots of my weekend that didn’t involve makeup involved people. But that is something that makes me happy. If spending time with dogs make you happier, I say go get you your happy on! I can get that sentiment on some level because there is a lot of judgement that can creep into human interactions. But… I still love me some people time.

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      • That’s a valid argument as far as competition, but I have seen people succeed wildly at it who don’t have their competitors at the forefront of their awareness. I really just write for the fun of it, honestly, although I definitely started out thinking overly much of how I was stacking up as a competitor. Let’s say I wildly succeed, I still might be super stressed and unhappy. I read a piece on Harry Styles where he was talking about how he thought the only thing of his own was his sex life, which is why he wasn’t too public about it. He also said it was a giant relief when he didn’t have to worry about whether what he was doing next was going to be a commercial success. I’ve had to drift away from a few of my veteran friends because they couldn’t let go of that competitor-at-the-forefront-of-their-brain mentality. It morphed into vast conspiracy theories where shadowy individuals and far-reaching organizations were always targeting them. That’s the ultimate competition: one you can never win, where you’re always outgunned, and where you always have to look over your shoulder. NOT my cup of tea, LOL! So yeah, I guess I’m in competition with others, but I’d rather not think about it, as I’ve gone down that road and it’s exhausting and–in the end–kind of a giant exercise in mental masturbation. I really I just want to be a (your hated phrase). Maybe I should change it to happy goof. 😅

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      • It kinda really made my day the way you honored my feelings about that particular word. Insert hypothetical glitter poof emoji here 😀 You really don’t have to…I have my feelings, I expressed them, but they don’t have to be what you abide by when we are commenting back and forth. But it was an unexpected kindness, and I thank you all the same!

        I will compete when I have to or if I want something really badly and I know I’m going to have to compete to get it. But honestly, I’d rather see a community model that wasn’t built around competition because it can lead to some dark outcomes in society. I just want to have enough in my quiet little corner to have some sort of joy and stability for myself and my loved ones. So I can appreciate your perspective. My preferred jobs and activities these days are definitely more about what allows me to feel fulfilled on the inside. When I was younger, I competed for a lot of promotions in a more assertive manner because it was a matter of survival for me to be progressing things that way and I wanted survival on my terms, not my parents’ terms. But there’s a certain amount of nastiness that can come with all of that…and I don’t really miss that particular aspect.

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      • And I read a little bit of that Harry Styles interview, and the purity clause he had in the initial contract sounds super stressful!!! In some ways, it’s undoubtedly a lot happier to be a “happy goof” as you say, or not going for fame or popularity in the community. Some people feel the outcome is worth that kind of pressure and constantly being under that kind of magnifying glass, but I personally don’t.

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      • I used to think that the outcome was tied to the price, as you could suppose with someone like him. Nowadays I’m of the opinion that it was an experience that–if he found unpleasant–allowed him to clarify what he truly wanted and move toward that.

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      • Perhaps that is the way it is for him. Sometimes though I think people are just moving forward with the best choice they have left to them or the only choice they have left to them, irrespective of what they want.

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      • I’ve definitely been in those situations, but I also have an underlying, unfounded optimism that moving forward with the best choice will at some point lead to a hidden opportunity or pathway that opens up into the things I truly want. My strongest support, admittedly, is anecdotal–that’s how it happened for me. And my friends, once they got to a point where they had to stop choosing out of necessity, chose to stay in a risk-averse mode where they chose practical stuff over their dreams, even though they had resources to start dedicating toward the stuff they wanted. It’s definitely not an either/or: I think I’ve mentioned where I’ve had to exist mostly out of necessity and dedicate sometimes no more than 5 minutes out of the day to writing, but it wasn’t nearly so dramatic a case with my friends.

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      • I can definitely appreciate that you acknowledge the nature of your optimism as being “unfounded,” that is of course the difficulty with anecdotal supports, the difficulty in replicating and therefore establishing a genuine correlation or relationship. That being said, I am certainly not one to fault you here. The truth is, an unfounded optimism, as you put it, is certainly better for one’s mental health than the reverse regardless of whether or not a factual basis exists for such a belief system or not. For some people, a path to their dreams is never going to be on the table, but a life with hope that good things are possible is a much happier life to live than a life that can only face a blunt appraisal of what can never be.

        I honestly just needed to hear what you said today, I was in, as they say, a no good rotten mood last night. Ongoing problems with some program changes recommended by the ABA team. It’s the second programmatic change they’ve recommended in 2 months that has caused pretty intense behavioral challenges, and I’m the one dealing with all of that. And I’m the one who’s going to be dealing with the long term fall out of what it costs me and what it takes to clean this up. And it is going to cost me…and me more than anybody else. It’s not a situation you need to be drug into. I see the details of Tony, but when I raise an objection sometimes with therapists about something they want to do based on that, what I feel often happens is that they waive their degree and say “you just wait and see, it’s going to go great!” And then when it goes to utter poop, we do indeed see…and sometimes it’s past the point of wishing people would listen to me upfront. Because there’s a cost to me when a problem like this develops. So, you know, it was good to think that even though this particular setback is going to have painful costs and is going to place a serious burden of suck on me to get past, that maybe I can try to focus on it ultimately being better. Dreams? No. I just want better at this point…and maybe the ability to even have a job I can complain about. Take good care of yourself! And thank you for being the person that said something that snapped me out of my funk ❤

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      • Well to elaborate on what I said, I am strongly, STRONGLY against forcing optimism. I believe in continually reaching for the best feeling that resonates, which I believe eventually leads to optimism or joy. That being said, maybe disappointment was the best you could muster for a bit, and that was the right place to be to clarify your desires and move on to the next step. You’re doing great!

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      • the best I could muster was eating way too much chocolate the last 2 days😂 ok, I actually moved on from struggling all day not to cry on Friday to yesterday’s feeling like I had moments where I was going to be okay. The disappointment and upset for the current situation is brutal and I’m trying not to focus on it, and I’m working on getting to a place where my reaction when we discuss this in tomorrow’s meeting doesn’t come from a place of frustration at not being listened to. And sometimes significantly more complicated and less pretty emotions, because it’s easy for them to say “oops this isn’t working” (although honestly they are not there yet in thinking that, but I am) and at the end of the day they go home to their lives which don’t involve dealing with any of the fallout personally. I’m the one who deals with the fallout for strategies that are producing problems, and some of it is going to entirely disrupt what I saw happening for the next year. This last programmatic change has produced some very dramatic problems in the nature of his desire to cooperate with others, which has seemingly regressed to where it was 3 years ago in public locations, which is going to delay my ability to enroll him into a school. I am trying to keep focusing on my workaround strategies which are already producing results 2 days in. But it is going to take a lot of extra work from me and it is possible that is long as this program they are running remains unchanged the problems will continue with other people. I am having to combat this with doing things that ABA generally doesn’t recommend, like handing out consequences and removing privileges (because there is nothing positive you can offer him that can entice him and produce a result when control is what he wants). Thankfully Tony definitely is able to understand the correlation, and I always make sure I explain to him the connection between what I’ve chosen to take away and his behavior, and he knows that when I say I’m going to do something I am definitely going to do it, but that is not ideal because we need him to be able to go into an environment and not need that. Because they’re not going to be able to take things away from him at school. Everything that matters to him will be at home already. I am burnt out… It is hard to feel optimistic when you feel like every time you get to a point where you can lighten something up more gets piled on, so I wouldn’t describe where I landed as forced optimism. It was more I realization that focusing on the negatives isn’t going to change this and it will be more beneficial for me to focus on something else. Like chocolate 😅😂 And what I can actually do. Optimism isn’t where I was meaning to imply I landed at, just that I landed in a less funky place…at least, When it’s therapy programs I’m running with just me, because I can run all of his therapy programs in public by myself, (we just need the practice for him generalizing to others), at least with me by myself he’s not pulling these things.

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      • I have been in situations that, if not similar, evoke the same feeling of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. In the darkest situations (which doesn’t necessarily mean outward circumstances, because I believe the hardest thing you’ve been through is the hardest thing you’ve been through, whether that’s torture or not getting the toy you want), it can help me to focus on the fact that my life will end regardless, and that whatever I’m enduring will end as well. Don’t know if that helps, and it’s not necessarily the most positive thought; only go for it if it gives you relief, then ditch it after there’s something better to resonate with.

        As far as bucking the rules, you gave them a fair try, and the rules were meant to help us out, we weren’t meant to worship the rules. If that weren’t the case, then you could always get away with “I was following orders.” Or, “That’s what the manual says.” Life isn’t a series of lockstep orders or technical manuals; you’re figuring out your own way forward and that’s how it has to be because your perspective and experience is different from others. You’re doing the right thing!

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      • Many, many years ago I thought things had gotten just too painful for me and I sat on the edge of my bed with a fully loaded gun and some not so bueno intentions for redecorating the room with some of my own splattered brain matter and putting a final punctuation point on all of my problems. I obviously ended up changing my mind. I learned something about me…I like be alive. Even when things are dark. I prefer to focus on hope or what I can still find to bring me joy. I know eventually something is going to catch up with me and poof, that will be that. But for me, it’s rare that the finality and eventuality helps me move forward. Usually it’s hope and a plan. And I do indeed have a plan by this point…that involves immediately lightening up on the chocolate, lol! All that weekend indulgence stuff is making me gain weight!!! And quite often my plan does involve breaking some ABA rules…but I have to be careful always. One, I respect the time everyone is devoting to this, even if I don’t agree with their ideas or their ideas are causing problems. And 2, I have to be mostly cooperative of my son’s therapy funding gets pulled. So…I can only Jack Sparrow so much, but I do what I can. Thank you, though, BTW.

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      • I’ve had multiple moments where I’ve done that exact same thing. Ironically, I went the other route—I learned that I’m okay with being dead. But since that was the case, it begged the question: why not see what I can pull off before I die? It’s guided many of my life decisions, which have been somewhat unorthodox. And it’s always been kind of a comfort, because if things get too bad, I can always pull the plug. I don’t know why I trust that everything’s awesome after death (maybe psychedelics) but I do. Also, a famous (but crazy) Korean-American artist named David Choe once said on his podcast that if you want to kill yourself you should go ahead and do it…but only after you’ve gone on a binge of doing everything you want right before you check out, just to make sure you really want to do it. So I’ve kept that in mind–if I ever really want to do it, I’m gonna max out my credit cards doing everything I think I want to do first.

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      • One person’s orthodoxy is another person’s unorthodoxy and vice versa🤷‍♀️ I ain’t here to judge. I have heard similar sentiments expressed by others who have done psychedelics. For me, I would personally just never be sure if that feeling was only a byproduct of a chemical reaction in the brain or actually reflective of a gateway to a deeper awareness of our reality. And, I tend to be very hesitant personally for me about introducing any new substance into my body. Even when I have a doctor recommend a new medication my First response isn’t “oh boy this is going to help”… It’s more like “oh crap how bad could this go?”My reaction to clindamycin for example was awful, my skin was almost entirely purple and red from the hives, literally everything but my parts of my face for a month. Because that’s how long it took my system to calm down and go back to normal after I was off of it. Mother nature, trying to kill me since 1976. I can appreciate the philosophy mentioned by David Choe. The reason I sat there with a gun was I learned some very valuable lessons from my brothers failed attempt. Not endorsing suicide as an option here, just stating what my thinking was at that point in time. First, if you are really serious about it make sure you never do it with something that can be reversed like by stomach pumping, and two always pay attention to the expiration dates on the meds you are using if you really feel like you have to go with a medicinal out. Which is why I sat there with a gun on that particular occasion. And I couldn’t ultimately let go of the desire to experience certain things which is why I am here now. And I am probably far too attached to my own sense of self. I like being a “me.” Some people never get to experience good things in their life. A lot of things aren’t fair, and I can’t even pretend to have an answer to make all of that work together in a way that is sensical. I have perhaps not experienced everything I would have wanted and I may never, but I’ve still been blessed enough to experience some things that really brought value to my ability to appreciate my life.

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      • I’m pretty sure we’ll never be sure of the big picture while we’re alive. But I do suspect we can stumble-feel our way into it. When we allow ourselves to appreciate everything in totality, all the bumps and thrills and nice placid stretches of nothing, then I think we’re living as we meant to live. Some people who do psychedelics have uncomfortable experiences, some have pleasant ones, but by and large I have heard they are educational. Whenever I’ve pushed it to the edge with mushrooms or DMT, a bunch of questions about this or that written down or locked in my attention, the message has always been consistent: those are silly, passing concerns. Relax and enjoy. I suspect it’s part of my evolution from super-disciplined logical overthinker to someone who tries to feel their way through life. 😊

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      • I agree that experiences seem to vary a lot when it comes to psychedelic use. For me, this was one area in my life where I had to overcome some of my own experiences to be even willing to concede potential benefits and usefulness. The shortest version is that my sister OD’d when she we were both teenagers on something else, and the step-douche wouldn’t take her in and wouldn’t let anybody else call medical because he was on LSD and didn’t want to loose his precious job by having that come to light. She survived, but it scared the living daylights out of me because for a few hours I wasn’t sure if she would, and that experience gave me some strong personal biases for a period of time. I think the studies on the benefits for depression with psychedelics are compelling, and I have come to a point where I can respect people’s choices to do them if they are doing so in a responsible manner. I can respect that for some people it’s definitely part of their spiritual practice and journey as well. I think you are right, we are not likely to know the full picture of anything during our lives. And I think an awareness of the importance of relaxing and enjoying what you have is very valuable indeed, however one comes by it.

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      • Yeah, if I had to try and put some practical spin on it, I would venture to say that they’re worth doing a couple times in big doses, then maybe with microdoses or moderate use afterwards. Everyone I know who’s done a big dose of DMT says it’s lifechanging the first time, including me. But afterwards, people keep insisting it’s still amazing but I don’t think it’s necessarily needed. I know someone who’s done it dozens of times and he’s just become more negative and bitter towards the world and society, and all he does is play video games, refusing to do anything, even when I present him with easy options to at least start moving towards his desires. It’s kind of a relief, actually–if doing DMT or mushrooms was the causal factor behind being good or capable or happy, then we would be living in kind of a stupid world where our personal intent was dependent on an external substance. However, I do think doing a giant dose of DMT once is pretty helpful, just to know it’s possible to feel that much love for everything. And the first time, for whatever reason, leaves you feeling positive for a month or two afterwards. I feel like it’s like looking down at a compass and checking your heading. You get a little taste of where you can be and what direction that is.

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  4. Again, starting a new comment thread because of the scroll up factor 😀 So, I think that especially as regards to microdosing, the benefits can be demonstrable for depression, I know there are studies being directed at PTSD also. I think it is an area where laws reasonably should be adjusted, because based on what data is available within research, it appears to me that alcohol can be far more destructive and that shit is legal. I don’t see big pharma wanting to support a change to the law though, because how would it impact sales of some of their meds if people could just grow their own? When it comes to me personally, what I see as being the most destructive in these situations is addiction. Generally, psychedelics aren’t addictive…in the case I was describing from my childhood, it was more that it contributed to a pattern of abusive and neglectful behavior related to my parent’s pattern of drug use and support amongst themselves and their children. I left my childhood having a desire to personally not be addicted to any sort of substance. (Just don’t come for my chocolate stash, lol!) Some prescription meds can be incredibly harmful if abused, so I think where I tend to position myself these days is what are the side effects of something, what is the potential for addiction, how is somebody using something and for what intent, that sort of thing. I personally still prefer being sober, and I have safety lines in terms of treatment for myself and my kiddos, and often that excludes a home environment involving addiction when it comes to narcotics or prescription meds because I’ve never seen that play out well.

    And yes, I have seen that tendency in some people that have become fixated on psychedelics, in the sense that they can get fixated on some negative in the here and now that they can’t personally change it it seems to eat at their ability to find anything enjoyable to do about the now. But, that can be easy to do with many things. I need to get going, which is probably good or I’d just ramble on some more…sorry about that!

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    • In some cases they’re the opposite of addictive, which is pretty interesting. Ayahuasca has been known to have a fifty-fifty (or close to it) chance of relieving addiction to hardcore stuff (can’t remember if it’s heroin or cocaine). Ibogaine has been known to be particularly effective against addiction, even when you don’t want it to be. I had a friend who took it and stopped smoking for eight months even though he wanted to keep smoking. It’s a big thing for opiate addicts. But instead of expanding consciousness out into everythingness, I’ve been told it goes the opposite way, funneling attention down into a super introspection.

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      • I think I may have commented so many times that your blog has decided I’m spam 😱 It was short, but I don’t even know if I want to repeat it for a third time 😵

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      • Ok, quickly begging your pardon for the insanity of this last comment, but since it posted one, and then wipe the even shorter repeat I am curious and now testing to see if it was an emoji that triggered the non comment posting….

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      • Mm-kay. Maybe the fourth time’s the charm? 121 am is way too damn early for me and I am super thankful to have still been asleep at that time! I learned something from your comment which is awesome, btw, one of those substances I didn’t know anything about. Life has taught me the hard way to listen respectfully but always fact check, so for things I don’t personally use I only tend to know something about it if someone I know has used it or I have researched it because someone I know has used it.

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      • I see two other comments, three in total…wordpress moves in weird ways.

        Yep, ibogaine is a fascinating one. From the research they’ve done into it, I think I remember that they’ve ruled out the fact that any effect it has on addiction doesn’t come from a chemical trigger, so it’s a purely psychological process. I definitely think that out of all psychedelics, it should be given the most attention along with MDMA (which is actually an amphetamine, but whatever). It seems to have the most practical value, just at a glance in my opinion.

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  5. Ok, I now have an additional working theory, because I just tried to reply to this last one typing out the name of the psychedelic, and it didn’t post. There are three comments I tried to make yesterday that refreshed and wouldn’t post and one today. All three I typed out the name of the psychedelic…which is interesting, because you mention it by name in all of yours. I wasn’t sure if it was a glitch, if it was the emojis I used (all comments without the name of the psychedelic and the magnifying glass posted), So I don’t lean towards glitch. Since this is the second time I’m typing this out, and I need to get going to meet my sister, I’m going to just say tech isn’t my thing, I’m generally pretty intellectually lazy about it, but it appears at this point that it’s either something in the name or that wordpress can’t handle that particular emoji. From what I saw on that substance, trials in the US were halted because of the number of people that were going into cardiac arrest while on it…I think it is interesting, and perhaps I will look up more on it another time…

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    • That is kind of weird. I’m with you on the tech–I remember as a kid in the nineties I asked the elementary school teacher if something was 8 bit or 16 bit and they exchanged glances as if I was a mutant Einstein. that’s how I see kids now who are good at tech, lol!

      Yeah, I think it’s not recommended for anyone with a heart issue or in poor health. The last time I looked into it people generally agreed it could be hard on the heart.

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      • Well, I think for me on the tech it’s a problem of interest and passion. I can’t summon up either for it. In middle school I took a programming class in basic because it would get me out of having to take home ec. And what 13 year old me did was create a basic role playing fantasy game. But I was more interested in writing the story than dealing with the programming part. Ever since then, I’ve been allergic to thinking about tech unless I have to, LOL! And sometimes even the super smarty pants sciencey people behind stuff inadvertently create problems like the google doc “and” series brick. So…we can’t just expect because something is up and publicly available it’s going to respond well to everything it should. Yeah, when it comes to that particular substance, I would want to look at the original studies because since it isn’t often discussed by mainstream sources, the first articles I saw aren’t necessarily what I would land on for giving immediate trust.

        But I think for some people, the risk of problems and death from addiction is so high they might be willing to take the other risk to free themselves. Hard to say. My brother was shot to death by the police issuing a narcotics warrant, but honestly, the meth was going to take him out somehow, and he struggled through phases off and on of trying to get off of it. My grandmother was trying to help him, but if the toxicology report after his death is to believed, it showed that despite his assurances to me and her he was trying, he had done meth near the time of his death.

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      • I’m in similar straits with programming. I’ve taken a stab at it multiple times throughout my life, figuring that if I just matured and gained some perspective, I’d be able to learn it. I’m an abnormally fast study in academic stuff, so it was kind of shocking each time when I could barely pay attention and the class would easily pick up the concepts while I spent tons of extra time trying to wrestle them into some working form of knowledge. It’d always start the same–I’d grasp the concepts and basic definitions, I’d do fine with the first layer of applications, but once I started to build off that initial knowledge, my mind just wouldn’t absorb anymore. It’s one of the big clues in my life–I’ve always had a casual desire to design computer games, but it would take way too much effort; I can’t sense the excitement and potential in the initial stages, like I can with writing.

        Man, that’s rough with your brother. I’ve never been close with anyone that struggled with addiction to hard drugs, but ironically I do know someone who is addicted to video games and can take hard drugs for weeks on end and go cold turkey without any problems. But he plays video games as if it’s literal job with healthy overtime. That was one of the other clues I was handed by life–this guy just couldn’t be satisfied with who he was or take advantage of the opportunities before him (of which he had many, especially in terms of easy legal money), and he had to fill it with artificial accomplishment in the form of video games. It really cemented my commitment to being a happy…goof. 😉 I realized even if I became rich, accomplished all my goals, blah blah blah, my satisfaction would ultimately depend on how I decided to frame things through my focus. I could take advantage of exciting new opportunities and revel in the expansion, or I could stay constantly negative, metaphorically play video games all my life and complain about not having enough, even though I had opportunities that other people would kill for, which, in his case, required nothing more than filing some papers and letting other people do my work for me.

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      • You know, I bought a book in PHP just a couple of months before I went into anaphylaxis thinking I was going to try and make my blog less “basic.” Yeah. It’s gathering dust. I started it, but I could only do little pieces each day because reading it felt like anesthesia for the soul, and then all of this chaos went down- sick cat, Tony’s broken tooth (he bit down on an unpopped popcorn kernel) which abscessed before he could make it to the extraction appointment, the foot thing, anaphylaxis…so I put it down and haven’t been at it since. All of that would have been just a momentary derailing.

        But when I first developed POTS 2 days after going into anaphylaxis, I couldn’t even remember the names of characters I had read 2 sentences ago. Most days aren’t like that for me right now, but POTS can affect the short term memory and ability to focus. Some days I feel like all of my skills are present and accounted for, some days…what’s your name again? Just kidding, I remember your pen name 😀 Anyways, it was a great reinforcer of my ongoing belief that I shouldn’t pat myself on the back at all for anything I can mentally do. Because any little medical thing or other life circumstance can impact that. And it makes it that much harder for me to summon the urge to tackle something I don’t have passion for, because some days, I have to work at it harder than I used to. So I’m only willing to work harder if I need to or want to right now.

        You know, I’m laughing about the happy goof thing. You do you whatever that looks like. With my brother, there was a lot of heartbreak. My parents started him on the path of drugs, but I honestly think he was medicating. There was a lot of really bad stuff in his memories- really for all of us that grew up in that household. It was like watching him self-destruct for more than a decade. Any type of addiction is rough in terms of how it can impact relationships, even to video gaming. With video games, what I often see is that it’s people with depression who are at most risk for getting lost in them, because it is very escapist and it numbs things down. I used to play a whole lot of video games as a teenager, really now I rarely do. I prefer to do other more active things that are here, in the now. I’m not really planning on being rich, which is good I never had that as a “must” for my life given the limitations I currently have with our sweet son, but I feel like having a nice, quiet debt-free life with just enough for things not to suck is a pretty nice place to land at. We all have different things we want, and it is true that money and opportunities others aspire to won’t necessarily grant us that.

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      • Life definitely doesn’t pull punches when it tells us we’re not suited for something. It’s kind of why I focus more on relaxing and being intuitive–I just got sick of being life’s punching bag, trying to justify everything with a lawyer-esque rationale in my mind and through my actions. I’d get nods and agreement from other people, which I think was important to me because I was insecure and judged everything through external standards, but I never really had any lasting satisfaction or fulfillment.

        Whatever you dream, I hope you get it. You deserve it! And whether it happens or not, or unfolds in the way you want it or not, I adamantly believe that the pleasure the dream gives you is your inalienable right. 😊

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      • Well, today I woke up with the taste of brine and vinegar on my spirits, so keep that in mind here. I think sometimes focusing on a dream that can never be actualized only potentiates it’s ability to eviscerate the possibility of finding other happiness or just simply contentment. Sometimes it is called for to work or fight for something, sometimes unflinching acceptance is the most likely to produce a positive outcome. Just my opinion…

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      • No worries. I think that’s where the emotional intelligence comes in. If focusing on a dream feels like crap, then it’s time to distract myself for a bit with whatever gives me some relief, maybe something as mundane as a dog video. As far as working for or fighting something, sometimes that is indeed the path of least resistance that leads to some relief, but I have to be careful that I don’t just do that because that’s the way it’s always been done. I say that because I’ve worked hard, fought for stuff, and felt only misery in the outwardly positive outcome.

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      • Sometimes as a parent, I have to fight or work for something whether it feels good or not (because it’s the right thing to do). Just knowing something is the right thing to do isn’t enough to make what’s going on feel better sometimes.

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      • I think I get what you mean. If I do, then I feel the same way, in that doing the right thing hasn’t always necessarily leaded to me feeling better. In order to feel better, I have to feel my way into it, for lack of a better phrase. I have to feel out the thoughts that give me relief, then calm, then positivity.

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      • Sometimes even finding relief and calm initially can be super hard when you have to do the right thing, especially when there isn’t any one great solution that’s going to avoid hurting your child. I got about 3 hours of sleep last night because I couldn’t find relief and calm after what I can only describe as a somewhat acrimonious meeting that put me in a position of knowing the right thing is going to be really upsetting for my son. The wrong thing could be very damaging to my son. Relief and calm… The quest we all strive for for one reason or another. Knowing we will all get through sometimes isn’t enough at first.

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      • I forget about calm when things are hard, but I can always find relief, even if that relief comes from me being super pissed at whatever’s going on. Sometimes I might have to revert to a mindset that I know isn’t long-term sustainable or healthy, like a tough-guy or elitist mindset, but really I’m just looking for relief, which I take as an indicator I’m moving in the right direction.

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      • I get that. I can certainly live in a pissed off state of mind to get me through something 🤬👿, still makes the harder to sleep with POTS though. And, sometimes in a situation where you need to hold up a strong, sustained defense in an ongoing, daily dispute with a group hostile to your position because you’ve called them out for a mistake and they don’t like that having been brought to their attention (because most people don’t) based on peer-reviewed literature, policy, and documented circumstances, etc… Sometimes being pissed off is a detriment.

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      • Yeap, I agree. In those situations, my relief comes from staying focused on performance, then later it comes from anger and reviewing how I could have performed better. After THAT, it comes from putting together a better approach and gaming out how I’m going to do it better in a similar situation.

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      • I can focus on performance and have that be enough to help when it’s a conflict with an insurance company or funding source such as DDD. I know my way around medical necessity and how to figure out and advocate for what the law protects in terms of benefits, coverage, etc and it’s a more cut and dry process. Sometimes though, there are things that come up where even a good performance won’t guarantee an outcome that will avoid hurting one of my kids because the other person can always say “You know, I think your just a total (fill in the blank) because you don’t agree with me even when I could be wrong and therefore I’m not even going to work with you at all”, and then I struggle more because it’s harder for me to not ache for the pain that could be coming their way if it’s a relationship that impacts them. It’s hard. Tony especially is in a place where because of his level of innocence, I see how much he trusts me and he doesn’t always understand the nuances of adults and how invested they can be in wanting to be validated to be correct one way or another. He just believes he’s always correct and the world just hasn’t realized it yet, lol! 😀 Sometimes what other people choose to do is outside of my control though.

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      • It took me decades to come to that realization that you concluded with. I actually go so far as to believe what other people choose to do is completely outside of my control. I think that if they’re on the same wavelength as me, they’ll listen to me and take my advice, but if I approach them with an antagonistic or elitist mind state it’s only a matter of time before it comes through and backfires on my efforts. So I try to always keep that open door, but I don’t try to drag anyone inside my office, if you get what I mean.

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      • You make an important distinction, and a correct one. What people choose to do is completely out of my control. I can attempt to influence, but success is never guaranteed. You know, I’m going to be 46 next week. I’m still learning how to do plenty of things better. I don’t always have the most helpful reactions in the moment…a little too much firecracker in my soul, so to speak. But…as my grandmother said, it will all work out one way or another. Might not work out the way I want it to, but it will all work out.

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      • Absolutely. For me, it definitely hasn’t worked out exactly the way I wanted it to, but I’ve genuinely been surprised by how it’s actually worked out better in certain respects. It’s a big part of why I focus on not being so controlling and plotting and hard-charging disciplined as I used to be, and concentrate more on relaxing into the moment. To be fair, that might not be for everybody, because I’m kind of naturally attracted to routine and discipline without conscious intention at this point. As a general rule thumb, I go for the path of least resistance. If I had done that earlier in my life, I would have applied enough discipline and logic and all that to be confident I had my bases covered, then enjoyed the ride instead of spiraling into overthinking competitiveness where I spent loads of energy on what else I could do to prepare for extraneous problems and contingencies, which always amounted to wasted effort because they never came to pass and I ended up mentally exhausted.

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      • You know, right now I really wish my brain could default to relax and go with the flow. Or even just turn off the tension and high stakes drama enough so I can sleep. Since I woke up feeling like I wanted to puke from the stress of some of our current circumstances, and I am gingerly trying to coax down a kale smoothie for breakfast…now of course is the perfect time to change subjects and mention that I picked back up and started ready the second Echo book again yesterday. I am noticing differences in the way descriptions are rendered from the first book. I think it is a cool writing journey to see. I’ve actually really appreciated the way some of the sentences unwound…it’s almost poetic in spots.

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      • I’ve experienced something similar, waking up throughout the night in a state of anger or annoyance, then already pissed off when I wake up for the day, unable to go back to sleep because I’m angry. The self-talk can get pretty nuts at that point, more like a self-screaming match.

        I’m glad you’re enjoying Echo! It was kind of a herky-jerky development in that I was learning how to do personalize someone in the first book, write action in the second, while the third is kind of my first complete book, with setting, female perspective, and a couple different climaxes, and the fourth was kind of my thesis statement on life and reality, which I couldn’t have written without the skills I’d gained from the others. With the second, I wanted to make Atriya’s job/identity a visceral engaging experience, but at the same time I wanted to show he didn’t belong there anymore and also foreshadow what was coming.

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    • Yeah, it’s a little more complicated than anger. The moment you have pretty much no choice but to not only disagree with a proposal but then go on to provide evidence to someone with an advanced degree that they’ve made a mistake that has caused a problem, they pretty much always dislike/hate you for it (especially if you don’t have a degree in the same area) and will do everything they can to either get out of working with you if they can or make everything they can miserable for you going forward. Easier to shrug that off if I’m the only one impacted. When most people and organizations say they welcome feedback, they don’t really mean it. What they mean is I want to hear what you say as long as it’s good. You know, I do some things really well. I can also pretty solidly mess some things up. I feel like if someone knows I’ve made a mistake and I try to cover it up or pretend like I didn’t, that only makes me look incompetent. If I stand behind my ego, I only look smaller and like I am a total jackass. Which, you know, I can be that sometimes. But, I live on my own planet sometimes and being open to hearing criticism of me has really helped me a lot though, so I like the planet I’m living on that way.

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      • I’m actually following the saga of an f-list celebrity/comedian/podcaster/former pro athlete who’s suffering from this very thing. Instead of just leaning into the criticism and rolling with it as best as possible (in his case, that would be cracking jokes about the insults), he continues to deny, deny, deny, and get continually caught out on his lies, which has turned his small fan subreddit into a booming hate reddit against him.

        I think acknowledging criticism can be important, but really there’s a lot of impact in the tone. To me, it’s not so much when I’ve tried to grasp someone’s argument, as it is when I’ve acknowledged someone’s feelings and their right to be heard. It’s kind of like when you give your dumb friend advice but they refuse to hear it because it’s not really about the advice, it’s about how they want someone to acknowledge their feelings. That’s just me, though. Also, I don’t like being in those environments, which is probably one of the reasons I like writing. Every character has a clear-cut development that fits with external influences, and every one fits neatly into their roles.

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      • I agree that acknowledging somebody’s right to be heard and acknowledging the impacts to them is incredibly important. As a parent, sometimes going through these situations feels like a form of trauma because you’re watching your child be damaged because someone either won’t take feedback or can’t take it well. When he was four, he got a knick on his finger when I was trimming his nails because he jerked and the edge of the trimmer hit just the wrong place. The EMTs and fire paramedics who took us in thought he should be sedated based of what they witnessed in the home (he was so frantic a bandage couldn’t be placed on him without him ripping it off, so EMS recommended taking him in in an ambulance with me holding him so that’s what happened). I agreed with their recommendation to sedate and cauterize. I am not sure whether the doctor thought everybody was exaggerating or just didn’t like taking suggestions/recommendations from people she thought was below her education level. So the ER doc chose not to do those things and it took five people including me to hold him down for them to place their pressure bandage, he was that hysterical and fighting with all his strength, and they put the bandage on so tight it caused blistering and tissue damage in under 24 hours. Sometimes people think I’m exaggerating when I tell them about what is going on or what is happening. Even his current developmental pediatrician thought that when she read the paperwork packet I gave her before his first appointment. At the end of two and a half hours with us she looked at me and said, “I thought you were exaggerating, but you weren’t!” Nope. I don’t exaggerate because it doesn’t help anybody to do that. It doesn’t help my son, and it doesn’t help the person because then they’re being put in a situation where they are either not prepared for it or can’t handle it. And it becomes this trauma of constantly not being listened to and then watching it hurt your child. I agree that sometimes writing is definitely better that way because you can pick the way you want to see things go.

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      • Sounds like a frustrating situation. I imagine over time, you’ve worked it from both ends—figured out a way to communicate so you have a better chance of being heard, and built a network of folks who tend to listen. In my opinion, the second is more helpful, because you don’t have to go through the spiel every time.

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      • Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Depends on how much sleep I’ve gotten and how much stress I’m under. And, especially when a person has a higher level of degree in some sort of specialized area, they often don’t want input, they want to tell you what to do and have you say thank you and just do it without thinking about it or researching it. So, often when I present a different idea, my role in the group gets perceived as being the central negative by default in that type of situation. And, depending on the person, there is no way you can disagree with them that will go over well. I do try to build a group that listens, but sometimes that is complicated to by issues of available resources in our area and what Tony’s preferences are. If he really likes someone, and they chronically don’t listen to me, I’ll still do everything I can to make things work because his feelings about the situation matter to me.

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      • That’s tough. Sometimes it helps to pull those people aside and try to make the case privately, but it’s still hit or miss. Even if you preface it with “I know the consensus, and you’re not gonna believe me but this is what I’ve been through,” experts often like to do it they way anyway.

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      • I say perceived as the central negative, because while my perspective is that as his parent I should be in the default leadership position in terms of making ultimate decisions on what is in his best interest at this time, I sometimes encounter therapists or other specialists who feel that I should automatically cede that role to them by virtue of their degree and practice.

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      • I rather suspect you’d be able to hold your own against me in person, also just saying. And I think based on the way you responded to my feedback in my review, you are less likely in general to be bothered by my typical manner of handling things. Most of the time, my way of handling conflict or differences of opinion or my feelings comes straight out of communication strategies taught to me when I was going through therapy for the things I’ve been through.
        Most people, I wouldn’t ever really want them to be frightened of me. That being said, every now and then I can be a bit of a bitch. I don’t usually aim for that, but it does happen. I’m an imperfect human, and sometimes if someone really, really rubs me the wrong way I’m going to be a bit more blunt with them. I rarely try to go for someone’s proverbial jugular, but what I have noticed is how people respond to me often is a function of their own insecurities, the pattern of communication they’ve become accustomed to, and what they perceive is their status in the world compared to mine.
        When it comes to some professionals, they really, really resent having the opinion of another professional who disagrees with them brought into it. Often when someone is looking at my degree and thinking I shouldn’t have an opinion, they are coming from a place of feeling their personal education means I can’t look at a study and articles about something and figure out for myself whether or not it would be beneficial for the circumstances we are in. Bringing up that another professional in the same field has a different opinion tends to leave them feeling equally threatened, because someone still then is questioning their judgement. And that usually doesn’t go over well with people who have higher degrees. Something that just seems to come with the territory of breathing in too much what that paper could represent. And yet, from my perspective…how many people actually remember all the details of everything they studied to earn those degrees? Very few. It is what it is. People often interact with others to the level of the fragility of their own personal egos, insecurities, and perception of status. In my opinion. But sometimes, I’m probably a little too straightforward. But then again, I’m not usually as impressed by people’s degrees as some people are.

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      • I feel I’ve been in similar waters, as far as making non-optimal impressions. I spent a good chunk of my life as a blatant overthinker, stressing over every little detail and nuance in conversation, justifying it by saying I’m a good people-reader or I truly care about others. Then I swung toward obsessively functional, where I left no room for emotional standing, so I think I came off as a robotic sociopath. Now I try and catch myself when I end up stressing over other’s thoughts. I have to remind myself that I don’t TRULY know what they’re thinking, and refer to the period where I took so much pride in reading people and remembering where I fell woefully short, where I’d hazard a confident guess and I’d get a laugh and a puzzled look and something along the lines of, “That is not at ALL what I meant.” I think for awhile (not sure if this is still the case) the ability to read people became trendy and fashionable, which led to a bunch of armchair psychologists and click-baity articles about psychopaths and narcissists.

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      • For some people, in my opinion, there’s really no good way to create a favorable impression when you are disagreeing with them. If I feel that is the case, I’m not going to spend time obsessing about what they think. I might say, rather focus on the neon lime green nail polish with hot pink metallic glitter reflect I’m wearing. But of course, I will have to think about the course of action(s) that could be required, since multiple endings are possible. All of them require 20-30 extra hours of therapy work from me. Some of them end in a firing and the filing of a grievance. One of them ends in the other party deciding to try to find a way to justify a “firing” of their own so to speak. Only two possible paths lead to us staying on the same journey together, how happily remains to be seen. For all the paths, my process is clear…it is to focus on the work required for the best possible outcome. So in the meantime…that nail polish, you know, it’s pretty freaking spectacular!

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      • I’m a big fan of that approach. If I used nail polish, I’d definitely be applying it, lol! I usually interrupt with some super-lazy break in my already-lazy routine. Yesterday, I received some frustrating news, I couldn’t continue with my routine without seething and pushing through it with sheer willower, so I decided to quit stretching halfway through and watch some podcasts instead. It’s tough, sometimes, because I spent so many years as a creature of routine and willpower, but my intuition has warned me of so many things before, I just refused to listen to it.

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      • I am sorry to hear that life gave you some frustrating news yesterday. Sometimes I feel like the Queen of Seethe over the land of crappy news so I get how that kind of thing can make it harder to do a task at hand…but mindfulness helps me some- along with a gloriously sparkly nail polish shade, of course 😀 And trust me, if you were into nail polish, you’d want this one it’s that awesome!!
        You know, when I tell someone I’m being lazy it’s because I’m usually deflecting away from talking about how badly my schedule is dragging me around. I might be saying that to describe why I’m cutting corners in some places just because I don’t like the looks of pity people give me when they hear too many details about what’s going on. Every time I try to pull something off my schedule, something else goes wrong that eats up even more time than the stuff I removed. It’s great practice for the problem-solving skills, not so much for the relaxation and self-care thing. But, if you actually get to have a super-lazy schedule, I am happy for you that is the case. Intuition is a hard thing, it is hard to prove, but I believe it is a valid way to decide some things. I have definitely made some decisions using my intuition, some of them ended up being great, some of them…meh. It’s a journey of learning, and sometimes I’ve ignored that gut feeling and regretted it.

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      • Yeah, it definitely is that way for me now. I remember a time when I scheduled some stuff in minutes and hard deadlines so I would always arrive early, always stay ahead of the game, and I remember getting a mild rush out of really digging in and focusing on whatever I had to do, then moving on aggressively through task after task. But that stuff really was for a younger me, when I enjoyed that kind of thing. I’ve become much more blurg over the years. 😅

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      • Age will do all sorts of things to a person. I officially hit 46 this week…and it’s mildly disorienting, because mentally I’m still me, and I still remember all the different phases of “me” in my life enough to recognize the central core of my own essence in all of those points. So I guess that was a really rambling way of saying I don’t exactly feel less vital mentally and as a “self” as I head into the years typically associated with decline in so many ways in our society. That being said, I have always felt like my mind was capable of writing checks my body couldn’t cash, though for many years I tried to take out “debts” so to speak on that (i.e. cutting sleep to get more done) and that probably didn’t do many any favors, and likely contributed to me developing mast cell activation syndrome and POTS. So now, I have to make sure I’m getting at least 6 hours of sleep every night. That slows down what I do, but I still have too much to do. I don’t really get a thrill out of trying to cram things in at this point…maybe I did once. It’s more like, I’m just thankful when my body is capable of something extra. A year ago, where I was at, I couldn’t have handled adding on an additional 20-30 hours a week of therapy on top of supporting the existing schedule no matter what needed to be fixed. I did what I felt I had to at all points of the last several years, but it emphasizes to me the importance of not trying to push your body past certain points to get things done for long periods of time. So, a more laid back approach, when one is capable of it, is undoubtedly healthier in the long run.

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      • Yeah, I’m way better at decision making than I used to be, and although I have had to accept a bunch of physical limitations, I’m stronger in some respects than I ever was.

        I’m not really concerned about my health (although I am very healthy) so much as my satisfaction and fulfillment. Health is another thing that I went overboard with, in regard to timing this or that, eating these supplements, taking cold showers, parsing every factoid from Rhonda Patrick…I still have a routine and make tweaks here and there, but I’m not an elite athlete trying to eke .01% more out of my performance, lol. Way too stressful!

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      • Well, I think it is wise not to obsess too much over a fastidious approach towards maintaining health. Because some bullets you just can’t dodge, no matter how healthy you are trying to be. Like crazy allergies, or mast cell activation syndrome, or POTS. Even a head injury or a viral infection can give a person that last one…and I imagine the feeling of futility and disappointment would be greater if I believed that everything I was doing in terms of eating healthier and exercising could have prevented all of this. I think it is a wise to focus on fulfillment. Sometimes that is hard for me, because sometimes I focus on what I need to because it is required and that doesn’t leave much room for anything else, But, you know, sometimes just hearing other people talking about how important it is to stop and enjoy a moment pulls me out of myself long enough to be able to find things to appreciate even in difficult circumstances.

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      • Wow, hey! The blog glitch thing just happened again and took out my comment (four times!!!)…interesting! Maybe I have become spam…that’s it, I’m totally going to have to stop responding to you because your blog says so, LOL! I think it’s wise not to become to fastidiously focused on thinking anything we do can prevent certain health challenges. Some bullets can not be dodged. I imagine if I thought that any amount of healthy eating or exercising I did could have prevented my allergies, or mast cell activation syndrome, or POTS (none of that could have prevented them) the feeling of futility and disappointment would have been greater for me. I don’t always get to focus on feeling fulfilled, much of the time I’m focused on what is required to live out my own personal values in the circumstances I am in. But it does me good to be reminded by others sometimes to take the time to enjoy a moment, it pulls me out of myself sometimes and redirects me towards finding things to appreciate even in difficulty.

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  6. Wow, hey! The blog glitch thing just happened again and took out my comment…interesting! Maybe I have become spam, LOL! I think it’s wise not to become to fastidiously focused on thinking anything we do can prevent certain health challenges. Some bullets can not be dodged. I imagine if I thought that any amount of healthy eating or exercising I did could have prevented my allergies, or mast cell activation syndrome, or POTS (none of that could have prevented them) the feeling of futility and disappointment would have been greater for me. I don’t always get to focus on feeling fulfilled, much of the time I’m focused on what is required to live out my own personal values in the circumstances I am in. But it does me good to be reminded by others sometimes to take the time to enjoy a moment, it pulls me out of myself sometimes and redirects me towards finding things to appreciate even in difficulty.

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  7. Wow, hey! The blog glitch thing just happened again and took out my comment (twice!)…interesting! Maybe I have become spam, LOL! I think it’s wise not to become to fastidiously focused on thinking anything we do can prevent certain health challenges. Some bullets can not be dodged. I imagine if I thought that any amount of healthy eating or exercising I did could have prevented my allergies, or mast cell activation syndrome, or POTS (none of that could have prevented them) the feeling of futility and disappointment would have been greater for me. I don’t always get to focus on feeling fulfilled, much of the time I’m focused on what is required to live out my own personal values in the circumstances I am in. But it does me good to be reminded by others sometimes to take the time to enjoy a moment, it pulls me out of myself sometimes and redirects me towards finding things to appreciate even in difficulty.

    Like

  8. Wow! The blog glitch thing just happened again and took out my comment, three times! Interesting! Maybe I have become spam 😂 that’s it, I’m totally going to have to stop responding to you… your blog says so! That being said, I think it is wise not to become too fastidiously focused on thinking anything we do can prevent certain health challenges. Some bullets cannot be dodged. I imagine if I thought that any amount of healthy eating or exercising I did could have prevented my allergies, or mast cell activation syndrome, or POTS (none of that could have prevented them) the feeling of futility and disappointment would have been greater for me. I don’t always get to focus on feeling fulfilled, much of the time I’m focused on what is required to live out my personal values in the circumstances I am in. But it does me good to be reminded by others sometimes to take the time to enjoy a moment, it pulls me out of myself sometimes and redirects me towards finding things to appreciate even in difficulty.

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    • Which means I should probably stop responding, LOL! But, I’m persistent if nothing else…I think it’s wise not to become to fastidiously focused on thinking anything we do can prevent certain health challenges. Some bullets can not be dodged. I imagine if I thought that any amount of healthy eating or exercising I did could have prevented my allergies, or mast cell activation syndrome, or POTS (none of that could have prevented them) the feeling of futility and disappointment would have been greater for me. I don’t always get to focus on feeling fulfilled, much of the time I’m focused on what is required to live out my own personal values in the circumstances I am in. But it does me good to be reminded by others sometimes to take the time to enjoy a moment, it pulls me out of myself sometimes and redirects me towards finding things to appreciate even in difficulty.

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  9. Ok, I’m going to try for answer number seven, because I don’t like it when the wordpress spam police put me in a position of feeling rude. Or, interrupting my conversations. I think it is smart not to be too fastidious in thinking that any of us can do anything to prevent certain conditions. Some bullets cannot be dodged, no matter how healthy our lifestyle is. Both of my current conditions fall in that category. I’m not always as good at focusing on fulfillment, but it definitely benefits me seeing that example in others. It pulls me out of myself and my focus on what is required to live out my values in the moment and redirects me more towards finding what I can to appreciate even in difficulty.

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    • I get that, I think. I’ve gone through a bunch of obsessive approaches trying to fix my chronic pain, but alot of times I’ve lost my satisfaction and ease in doing so. I do think unexplainable spontaneous healing is possible, and I suspect a large part of it is being in the moment and being as positive as possible. The thing is, I’ve fallen into the trap of trying to be in the moment and be positive as a means to an end instead of the other way around…

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  10. Yep… it’s taking out any reply longer than a few words. Turns out I don’t need to get Twitter to practice brevity after all 😶

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    • Oh dude, that’s cool that you fixed it, but even I’m annoyed to see everyone of my attempts now displayed 🤣🤣🤣 and you know, sometimes what I say probably just does belong in the junk folder 😅🤣I think you are right, positivity can bring on some spontaneous healing. A year ago, I couldn’t do it a 13 hour therapy day. And now I can… thanks for taking enough time to care that you checked the junk folder 💜

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      • Yeah, I kind of poo-pooed the idea of spontaneous healing as random luck, it’ll never happen to me, but then I figured why not? I read about a Marine who lost the use of an arm due to nerve damage in World War II, he takes up painting, then in his seventies his arm suddenly starts working again. It’s not something I focus on because that can quickly lead to misery (why aren’t I healed yet????) but I do think positivity gives it room to happen if it’s in the cards. 😊

        Yep, no problem on the junk folder! I thought it was only going to happen once or twice, but this latest time, I realized if I didn’t start checking the junk folder and unspamming your messages, it was kind of a big-time move, as in I’d be acting too big-time to simply click over and read what you wrote. That’s the last thing I wanna be!

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      • 🤣 When WordPress speaks, a wise woman listens. I am not always wise, but I can edit myself down. Sometimes. Don’t worry about it…once a particular algorithm decides something is Spam, it often ends up there frequently whether one undesignates it as such or not. I think I’m going to try to find a t-shirt that says “watch out world, I’m spam!”🤣

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      • 🤣 Actually, I have been thinking about condensing my idea down to “certified spam😉”. Your idea definitely has merit, but I wouldn’t want to give other people the wrong idea. Currently, only one person has eating privileges where I’m concerned🤔🤣

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      • If that’s what makes you happy, cool! For me personally, when I think of a buffet I think of quantity over quality-I am sure opinions vary on that one, it’s just my personal take influenced by my own history. I may not be gourmet by anybody’s definition, but I definitely like being thought of as quality. Of some kind.😅

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      • Our experiences certainly influence our perspectives. What little you described from your marriage is a hard place to be in. Sometimes there aren’t easy answers for that, but I am glad you were able to find an answer that has you feeling fulfilled.

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      • I kind of stumbled into it, to be honest. When I was married, I remember getting so frustrated I got on my knees and prayed to nothing in particular to make something happen where the marriage would dissolve, or just take my life because I was too afraid to end things myself. After I got that out of my system, I realized if I wasn’t going to end things myself, I had to accept where I was, and be as satisfied as possible regardless of what was happening around me. She ended things, which I still am thankful to her for doing, and that’s when I started to wonder if maybe I didn’t have to force or overthink everything, because I had made the decision to just be okay with whatever came along. Definitely not the bravest approach, but I’m too old and carefree to keep trying to prove how brave and smart I am anymore…😅

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      • So much of what people think of as romantic love is a short-term chemistry experiment on our brains, and to paraphrase a sentiment expressed from a book I’m reading right now, Misrule, it isn’t real. I think active, ongoing love is a bit of a choice to wake up every day and find something good to see in your partner. That isn’t always possible. It can be easy to get stuck in something because it’s familiar and it can feel scary to end that. I tend to have a very pragmatic approach and am shockingly unromantic in the sense that I tend to think multi-factorially about these situations, and certainly I have things I want in my relationships, but it’s also about my kids and about the happiness of my partner. My first approach is always do both sides feel there’s something worth saving? And if they do, what can we do to make that happen? When we are young, we don’t think about things like health challenges in our mates and what it’s like to live through that. So much of life challenges the concept of happily ever after anyways. So, for you, this is your happily ever after…being past all of that…and I am glad you are able to have what is making you happy regardless of how it came to be.

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      • Thank you! I also used to be very pragmatic about romance, but now I see it as just another piece of life to enjoy. It’s funny–when I started writing, one of my friends asked me “You’re not gonna write any romance bullshit, are you?” Simultaneously super insecure and hilarious, lol! I really enjoyed writing the romance between Jon and Erany, and if I didn’t, I don’t think I could have written it. Personally, I see a failed marriage as just some clarification as to what I want next. If I’m ever in another long-term relationship, I know specifics as to what I want. 😊

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  11. That is a great perspective to have! Every failure short of one that kills us can be a success in learning if we let it be. Totally LMAO about what your friend said. There was a time and place in life for romance, but I tend to be more utilitarian as necessitated by my circumstances. My grandmother was a great example to me in the value of not pining over certain things. Often the quickest path to optimal mental health and maximize happiness for one’s personal circumstances is acceptance. And that is what I try to do.

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    • I think I understand where you’re coming from as far as romance. By that I mean for the longest time, I hated the idea of it because traditionally, there was this power dynamic threaded in it with a big smattering of ownership exclusivity. One person for another person everywhere, all the time, with extremely narrow room to maneuver, where if you step outside the bounds you get a big shock. To me, that’s a lack driven mentality. I gravitate more to the Kevin Smith style, which is fun and sweet and goofy, mainly about two people enjoying each other and having an adventure together. It’s how I envisioned the Jon/Erany romance, where they weren’t nervously speculating about how much the other liked each other and if it would be reciprocated to the same level, or if someone else was trying to steal the other away, or reveling in the fact that one was the other’s and no one else’s; I really wanted to focus on the joy and fun of it. 😊

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      • The concept of ownership in relationships could lead to a lengthy dissertation, Kent, so I think I’ll just stop at saying for much of history it has been exactly that: about a man owning a woman. The exigencies of parenting in certain circumstances can often preclude joy in romance. And I think on a certain level that when you are really involved with someone for many years, you see the best and the worst of them. And true romance can simply be what is the portrait that your partner holds up to the world? Is it a tender Monet, with broad strokes and lovely scenes that obscure the grittier details with a tender wash of pastel hues, or is it a Picasso, with negatives resized beyond their realistic proportions? Romance is far to complicated for even a habitual ranter like me to dissect in a comment, really.

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      • Absolutely, in regards to history. I feel a bit of irony in my circumstance, because with my ex I would often encourage her to do whatever she was inspired to do, but she wanted me to be jealous and possessive, which, even when I was younger, seemed like a giant waste of energy. I think some people get a weird kick out of it, which I can kind of understand, in the sense that it’s like being a little hungry before you eat food. But often, I feel, it’s taken to the point of starvation, if you get my meaning.

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      • It sounds like this was a relationship that wasn’t making either one of you happy then. I think culturally there is a heavy Judeo-Christian influence on how we view relationships, and even though some things are changing, there are still a significant amount of double standards in expectations that are generally more restrictive for women…so it is interesting to see that this wasn’t the case for you. I think it is important to understand what a person really wants and needs and values most before entering into a relationship…I feel like honoring the terms of what both agree on matters, but that can be very different for different people. Some people want a free range kind of relationship, but they try to get it by securing a partner they find pleasing, but who has different values. I think openness and honesty are super important, and if everyone knows and can accept the terms of the relationship, whatever those are, that is what matters. Some people think they are comfortable with something and then find out only after having lived it they are not. Life teaches us a lot about ourselves, usually because we’ve encountered something we thought would work for us and discovered it didn’t. Relationships and romance are complicated, because by their very nature it involves more than one…and we often think so very differently on matters. Attraction alone is never enough to guarantee success.

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      • Definitely agree with you on the Judeo-Christian pall on relationships. I actually think the religious paradigm (tit for tat, put in a ton of work so you can MAYBE get a reward later?) is in almost every pattern of thought, including Buddhism (meditate your ass off, work away karmas, so you can finally be enlightened). Although in mystical versions of all those traditions, you’re already fully realized, and it’s up to you whether you want to acknowledge it or not. I definitely resonate more with that. To me, it doesn’t have to be nearly as convoluted, articulated, or transactional, it simply boils down to appreciating the moment. 😊

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      • I’m trying not to crack my face in half with chortling over the use of “pall” there… definitely paints a picture 🤣 I think there are some very unhealthy things religion has handed us in terms of relationship dynamics and other things ( the subservient woman role for example), but I started reading a very interesting book that talks about the studies this one gentleman’s group are doing in terms of the impact on health for religious rituals or practices, and his message seems to be that developing some sort of similar practice within a group (even something as simple as regular scheduled mindfulness/meditation without a religious aim) even if you are an atheist is shown to have benefits for a person’s mental and physical health. I’m not very far into his book, but I think there are probably some positives that can come with a spiritual practice if one can separate them from the negatives.

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      • I’m not a word nerd (not a fan of when people use stuff like “mellifluous” just because), but I’m always on the lookout for a well-placed descriptor, and sometimes they slip out, even when I talk in person to people. I remember I said “proclivities” around my buddies and it completely derailed the conversation; one of them wrote it on his whiteboard so he could remember to use it later and he wasn’t even a writer. 😅

        I’d probably agree with that guy’s claims. I meditate myself for 20 minutes a day. The tricky thing is that the absence of meditation benefits don’t make themselves apparent until I’ve been negative for a while, then it takes a bit to reestablish them. That seems to be the case with my friends as well–it’s really subtle, aside from a few exceptions. Also, I think in general, spiritual practices started from a good place, and most of them are similar when you dig deep enough. Just gotta keep focused on that OG goodness! 😁

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      • And you know what, I’m just going to go ahead and add one more slightly more reflective set of thoughts to this because I just have to live up to that prospective t-shirt some of the time 😇 the ability to appreciate romance is a luxury that can be seen as unobtainable for some. There is very much a hierarchical sense in our society of who should be seen as a romantic partner based on attractiveness, health status, financial status, and sometimes even educational and family background. How many romances portray a romantic lead with a colostomy bag? An overweight heroine who got hit hard in a divorce settlement and saddled with half of her overspending ex-husband’s debts? I could go on. For me, it is a fine balance and a person should never be grateful for some things. But sometimes the key to happiness in many moments is finding what you can be grateful for. We are so primed to criticize in this culture. I’m as guilty of it as the next person sometimes. But to look at a moment and a person and find the positive is I think the strength of many a true romance.

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  12. Nerdy word girl Ari slumps to the floor, clutching her chest, simultaneously making circling and sibilant moans when confronted with her own personal kryptonite: being told she can’t use mellifluous in a conversation⚰️😵🤡 If you write a story with a romantic lead that is in either of those circumstances, I would definitely buy it!

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    • 😂I’m being overly harsh–I think I snuck mellifluous into one of my books somewhere. I just try and pay attention to the rhythm so that it doesn’t feel out of place in the cadence. I’ve noticed JK Rowling likes exactitude, and put it in her Cormorant Strike books and I think in Harry Potter as well, but to me it didn’t read well. Exactitude is a tough one, and I can understand why she’d want to use it because it kind of pops, but it doesn’t seem to blend well in a sentence imo.
      Just the other day, I used the word ataxic, which isn’t even an adjective, but a derivative of the real word ataxia. 😅

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      • 🧐 Can’t dial it back now Kent, kryptonite already delivered 😜 although actually, I don’t typically use that word in a conversation. When I was younger, very much I viewed words as just another color eyeshadow in my tool kit, so to speak. A super cool variety of tools to say something I meant in a more precise way. If I don’t know someone or their comfort level with how I think on the inside, I tend to strip down the vocabulary because I have learned people think you are pretentious otherwise. But where people draw that line seems to me personally to be subjective (just my opinion because it never seems to be in the same place)… But sometimes the nerdy word girl just claws her way to the surface, and Andy will have to say something to me like “we be but humble pirates here” which is his way of saying I used a word that was just not in his personal dictionary…🤷‍♀️ You can seem to take the words out of the girl, but you can’t take the nerd completely out…😅

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      • I know what you mean on the dialing back. I used to be puzzled when there were so many cool ways to speak and people didn’t do use them. But as I grew older, I started appreciating all of it, to some degree or another. I especially like the tri-state area speech, like from New York or Boston. There’s something oddly poetic, stoic and fatalistic about those dialects, even when that’s not the intent and it’s just some everyday griping, nothing profound.

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      • Yeah, often it’s a function of where a person was born and raised. My father, from example…born in Alabama. Some of his accent was faded by the time I was born because he’d been living other places, but… it still flavored the way he talked and while I’d personally never be interested in living in the deep south, I have for some reason that defies anything circumstantial in my life always been able to appreciate the accent. communication is social and it all comes down to where a person was born and who their social group is and how they talk.

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      • I’ve been in and out of the South. In general I’m kind of indifferent about most of the dialects, but I do like that old school, Southern gentleman type of speech. Kind of an interesting blend of Southern twang seasoned with formality.

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      • My father’s family came from money, honey, though we certainly never saw any of that and my father himself didn’t hold down a job that I can recall the entire time he was married to my mom. But his manner of speech is everything you would have expected from someone afforded a decent education… I can certainly understand the distinction you are making though.

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      • I used to be unable to comprehend how folks could get by without a job, but no job AND no money? Now that I’m financially independent, I still act as if I somewhat have a job writing, albeit with an amazing boss that lets me workout and take naps whenever I please. Sounds like an interesting situation.

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      • Well, I can’t fill in a ton of blanks for you about his how’s and whys because his family wanted nothing to do with ours. They felt like him marrying my mother was beneath him, and I don’t think they understood what type of predator he was. The only contact I personally had with any of them was one-sided because I chose not to respond: his sister’s lawyer sent me a nasty letter after his death. My sister talked me out of sending her six pages of envenomated “let me tell you about my father…”. After his divorce to my mom, he lived in her guest house until he died, though he did finally get a job as an exterminator after my mom divorced him. If there is anybody worse in our family’s history than my step-father, my own personal opinion on this, it is my own father, so I’ll just leave it as that.

        I’m happy for you that you get to be your own boss! And, I appreciate that your boss lets you chat with me sometimes, LOL! Speaking of chatting, if I go silent for a few days…I have a dental abscess that cropped up late last week (we have really crappy dental genes, I suspect they came from the British side of the ancestry), and the round of appointments, etc. starts today and kind of depends on how things go as to whether or not I’ll be checking my e-mails or anything, because I’m still going to have to hold down the fort with the kiddos. And now, I’m going to head out in near 90 degree weather and do a therapy walk with Tony…because naturally, that’s what one does with a dental abscess…if they’re me, anyways. I’m on antibiotics at this point, so I’m just trying to go about my business and follow the cues of my body as to what it feels up to…Take good care of you and you