The “Add” in Adversity

I love it when I get to use puns in my titles–it’s not quite clickbait, but it’s almost just as good. Anyways, stress. We often feel defeated by stress. We think stress is a sign of failure and inadequacy (and then we get stressed out for failing and being inadequate), but according to Kelly McGonigal, that perspective on stress is incorrect.

Instead, she says, stress makes us stronger.

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I Will or I Won’t

In an age of primetime scandals and uncertain politics, there are four things I like to watch: fun TV shows like Steven Universe and the Punisher, fun YouTube videos from creators like Lockstin & Gnoggin or Bird Keeper Toby, satirical news commentary from personalities such as Seth Meyers (if only he were single) and John Oliver, and TED Talks.

TED Talks, as it happens, also form the basis of the mindfulness elective I’m currently teaching. Inspired by the works of Kelly McGonigal and Brene Brown especially (my self-help gurus), this course strives to provide my students with a stress mindset intervention as well as strategies they can employ to conquer stress and shame and boost willpower.

Rather than a large number of quizzes and exams, most of the course is driven by self-reflective journals, and throughout this month, I’m committing myself to reflecting on each of these journals alongside my kids. Practice what you preach, right?

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The November Novelist

National Novel Writing Month. If I’ve written about it once, I’ve written about it a hundred times (or at least annually since I began blogging). It’s the one time each year I allow my writing to take center stage (how’s that for mixing metaphors?)–often, though reluctantly, at the expense of my other obligations. So far, I’ve won NaNoWriMo every year.

And this year will make ten consecutive wins. If I manage to make it.

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Till the Dust Settles

It’s about that time of year when suddenly I disappear.

No, I’m not a practicing magician, but I am still a college student, and with the summer days winding away, within a week I’ll be back on campus, back in classes, trying to figure out how they expect us students to do what students are meant to do.

And typically it means my blogging starts to suffer. But I’m hoping, even if there might be some disruption next week, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to keep up my twice-weekly posting on Mondays and Thursdays here, and on Tuesdays and Fridays on Silent Soliloquy.

I have a number of unpublished posts that I think will help me through this transition, but transitions of any sort tend to messy and unruly, and until Im in the midst of the forthcoming chaos, I probably won’t realize how much a whirlwind it’s going to be.

So all my blogging friends, all my readers, riddle me this: How do you keep up with what you love (perhaps blogging, perhaps not) when the going gets tough? What’s your method, what’s your madness? Because this time, when it gets tough, I don’t want to get going.

A Long Way Forward and Back

Five years ago today I started blogging. Years before that, I had kept an online journal and routinely participated in other similar activities. It’s been a pleasure, an honor, and an adventure making it this far–and I hope always to be on this journey with you.

The truth is, however, that I began this journey for myself: It is a path I love to follow, not for those who join me on it, but for the sights and experiences it gives me. It is my hope, indeed it is my dream, that as I move through this life–living life first and foremost for myself–that my passions, especially those passions that I’m able to share, may enrich the lives of others as their passions have enriched mine–how Tolkien’s passion for Middle Earth, Einstein’s passion for scientific inquiry, and Milk’s passion for social change have all shaped my life and the lives of others.

And I hope, along this path we all share, I may glimpse your passions as well.

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Wanted: Inspiration

National Novel Writing Month is one week away and I’m pulling my hair out, writhing on the floor, and scrambling between the rooms in my head to figure out what I’m going to write. I dream of telling stories that change the world–stories that impact a reader, share with readers an experience they won’t forget, and forge the kind of relationships I recall building between book bindings as I grew up and discovered who I wanted to be.

And I’d like to invite you along on this journey.

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Flash Fiction Fridays

I want to write more. Short stories especially. But a long story takes a long time to write–so do short stories, but brevity makes the challenge more approachable–and the alliteration? Why, that’s wonderful.

A couple week’s ago, the Daily Post challenged bloggers to attempt flash fiction, and when I came across it this week, I decided I should get back into it–I’d attempted the art form years ago, but gave it up in favor of verbose, flowery prose.

It’s hard for me to be laconic.

So at least for the summer (until I’ve got my series up-and-running), I’m challenging myself to post a short short story every Friday–just so I can call it Flash Fiction Fridays! Well, that’s not the only reason, of course, but it’s certainly exciting!

It won’t be easy, and I’m looking forward to all the comments and critiques I can get to help refine my skills and improve every week. Luckily for me, I already had a piece on hand that I wrote this semester for my poetry class: the challenge? Write a shocking story in prose.

Check it out here.

Eleven Days and Counting

There are still 111 days until the semester ends and already I feel defeated.

I’m scouring my mind for words to elaborate, but that line seems to say everything I can muster at the moment. I came in anxious, and the first week assuaged some of my stress; then things picked up a little in the second week, and though I can honestly say I’ve had a few great accomplishments and some greater experiences since the semester began only eleven days ago, I sit here with the sad realization I already feel defeated.

Where did I go wrong? When did my plans fall apart?

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Sustainable Delusions Breaking

I was once told all of calculus, and by extension all of mathematics, was built upon an assumption, and that should this assumption prove false, everything we know about mathematics, physics, the world as a whole would just crumble into nothingness and we would be left to flounder in a world of unknown possibilities and frightening realizations.

The truth is that was all before I became a math major and learned this is just a staple fact of axiomatic math: We make initial assumptions, build systems upon them, but acknowledge that they only hold when those foundational axioms are true. (That’s why there’s multiple geometries–such as Euclidean and hyperbolic, etc.) So the world won’t come crashing down in fire and brimstone. We just know the rules won’t always apply.

The point of any of this is not at all mathematical–but factual. Like Tolkien posited, a reader will only believe so long as the writer has sufficiently sowed a willing suspension of disbelief in the reader–the notion that, for a moment, we will ignore the rules we know in favor of the rules we wish to believe. For a brief few moments, dashing from word to word across the page, we forget that reality has bounds and for a moment become limitless.

I’ve lived my own life as both reader and writer: I’ve laid a foundation of beliefs upon basic axiomatic assumptions, and as I write these words, I fear I’m losing hold of my own willing suspension of disbelief.

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Coming Out on Top

Friday was National Coming Out Day. It wasn’t until the evening when I even realized it–I’ve fallen behind in homework and I’m trying desperately to catch up, so of course homework is where I was at all day.

When I found out what I’d missed, I felt a sudden tinge of regret: Normally I’d post on Facebook or post here or do something relevant. But I forgot what day it was. “I’m pretty out,” I remarked, “I don’t know who I’d come out to anyways.”

How could the day challenge me? I’m already there–aren’t I?

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