Resolved – A New Year

Technically, if I’m speaking plainly, my new year began on Dec. 21st with winter solstice. But since it’s a bit more common for people to relate to the Calendar New Year, I’ve sort of put it off til now.

I also didn’t feel much like writing this until now. To speak my truth, I don’t entirely feel like writing this even now, but pushing through mental funks is sort of part of my resolutions this year.

Well, not really. It’s a means. I’m resolved to do things in the year 2017 and in order to do them, I must adapt new habits.

What I would like to banish this year:

Negativity towards myself

Guilt over things that I cannot control

The phrase, “I really need to start doing X” when I have no intention of actually doing it.

 

Things I would like to invite into my life or accomplish:

Travel – I mailed in my passport renewal and if I can manage the funds, I would like to go back to the UK for my 30th birthday this year.

Finish Changeling and submit to my publisher – I’ve been sitting at 75% finished of the first draft for far too long

Compose and record one original song on my own – For Christmas I received some very helpful gifts to teach myself how to be my own accompaniment.

 

I am keeping the concrete goals  short, simple and clear. In regards to more abstract goals…

Eating cleaner and exercising, I have my Rogue/Bard training. I have been continuing this, but I unfortunately have not been posting about it due to the holidays. This will change starting tomorrow so you can better follow along if you’d like to join in. I’ll be posting regularly on that. I also would like to set up a concrete streaming schedule again, as well as more cover songs and vlogs.

I have two songs recorded that I will be creating videos, if you’re a part of my Patreon, you know what I’m talking about. =)

Tomorrow would have been my brother’s birthday. At the end of the month, it will have been 4 years since his death and I can’t quite wrap my mind around that fact. It seems like such a long time for something that still hits me so strongly when I stop to think on it. I applied to have his Facebook Page memorialized, and weirdly it’s kind of thrown me out of sorts.

I’ll be talking more about that tomorrow. I’ve got a lot of things rolling about in my head and I don’t quite have the clarity yet to organize them into something coherent.

Be the Ally Carrie Fisher Knew You Could Be – The Death of 2016

So I’ve been fighting a sinus infection for the past week and late at night, as these things are prone to do, it kept me up to about 3am until the decongestant did its damn job and let me sleep. But prior to this I saw a particular article circulating on my Facebook, and I’ll admit, it did not sit well with me.

That’s a kind way of saying it set off my Irish temper–which, to be honest, is not an easy thing to do.

I’m not going to repost it because I feel it’s toxic to mental health (I’ll explain) and I don’t think the author deserves the clicks, but the basic jist was shaming the multitude of people who have been personifying the year 2016, including “can this year be over?” etc etc. It was extremely condescending, called this practice “really dumb” and was out right douchey–especially as it decided to use Carrie Fisher as the jumping off point for this.

First of all, how dare you?

I haven’t spoken too much at length about what Carrie Fisher meant to me, but a huge part of who she was as a person was an advocate for mental health. She was extremely open, frank, and delightfully crass about her own struggles. So to use her at all in this argument just infuriates me.

Spoiler Alert: No one ACTUALLY believes 2016 is responsible for the terrible things that happened during this year. It’s a year. This is redirected anger/pain/frustration.

Now, this particular mental tactic CAN be harmful–for instance, this particular tactic is often used in propaganda. #NotMyPresident-Elect Trump used this tactic to win by rallying anger towards immigrants and anyone of the muslim faith by blaming them for American hardships. They were taking our jobs, they were living off welfare that we paid for, they were ruining our economy etc. This is harmful because it blamed actual groups of people to distract from the genuine issue being caused by unethical business practices by corporations and institutionalized prejudice in our own government practices.

However, this mental tactic is also used in trauma therapy. And THIS is where blaming 2016 lies.

No one legitimately believes 2016 is responsible for all the celebrity deaths this year. We know the long term effects of drug/alcohol addiction shortens life expectancy, even once someone gets clean and sober. You do not have to write a whole damn article explaining this to us. We aren’t actually stupid. We’re COPING.

In an interview with the Princess Bride’s Mandy Patinkin, he opened up about losing his father to cancer.

“The reason I made the movie was coming to fruition, which was I was gonna get the cancer that killed my father. And in my mind, I feel that when I killed that six-fingered man, I killed the cancer that killed my father. And for a moment he was alive.”

This year has been terrible. Yes, I’ve lost heroes I looked up to, I lost artists I admired. Some to terrible diseases, some to failing hearts, some to pure accidents.

But I also watched my country vote in a tyrant who may literally be the death of some very dear friends of mine who are dependent on certain healthcare benefits, or others who have been terrorized because white supremacy has been bolstered by a man who plans on calling himself our leader.

I watched the aftermath of one of the most terrifying mass shootings on US soil. And the mixed response to this attack on my community showed me that despite we had achieved marriage equality–actual equality was even further than we first thought.

I’ve watched people withstand dog attacks, taser guns, and tear gas trying to protect their home from a corporation.

I’ve seen a foreign country make a foolish and widely xenophobic decision, not fully understanding those consequences until it was too late to stop them.

I’ve seen innocent men and women gunned down just by being Black.

I have seen and wept and fought the best I could against terrible things this year, and yet every day made it feel like there was nothing I could do. I would never be enough.

Of course we know it’s not the year’s fault.

But we’re bleeding. And we’re broken. And we have so many things we need to fix to “make this all better” that it’s overwhelming. Sometimes I feel like I’m going to drown when I think about it.

And maybe, just maybe, rallying behind the idea of focusing this anger and sadness and hopelessness at this personified 2016 is the coping mechanism some of us need so we can be ready for the fight we have ahead of us.

Maybe we need to watch this year die so we can fool ourselves into having the strength to tackle the multitude of issues that caused so much of this year’s pain. Maybe we need that ONE victory, regardless how superficial it may seem to you.

Don’t police people’s grief, don’t judge someone’s coping mechanism, don’t look down your nose at someone’s mental health care simply because you don’t actually understand it.

Be the mental health ally Carrie Fisher knew you could be. And if one of your friends is cheering on the death of a terrible year–something that harms no one–don’t shame them. Offer to bring the champagne.

Inquisition – Rogue Training

A while back, I had started “The Lara Project”, now after re-assessing my goals, I’m starting again with a new angle.

Why this one? Because I have an unhealthy obsession with the Dragon Age Universe and I really just want to be a dual-wielding rogue, okay?

So I sat down with my friend M and we talked about my fitness goals and what I actually want out of it–so we have started to put together the rogue workout. And due to some interest, I’ve decided to share that journey with you, as well as the workouts if you’d like to join me in my training. Mind you, I’m just starting out again after a long hiatus so if you’re more experienced, this is going to take a bit to ramp up.

Since I’ve just begun I’ve started with just two days a week (Tuesday & Thursday). Since I haven’t done anything other than walking for a while and my work has me sitting primarily most of the day this seemed like a good starting pace.

Doing too much too quickly is baaaaaaaad, friends. >.<

Tuesday Training:

WARM UP:

Row for 1,600 Meters (pace yourself)

WORKOUT ROUTINE:

Row 800 Meters (Try to make it under 3:50)

Kettlebell Swings: 40 reps (15 or 10lbs)

Plank on forearms (rise to push up position if you start to get tired): 1 minute

Russian Twist with 10 lbs. medicine ball: 40 reps (counting each side)

REST 1 minute

REPEAT COMPLETE ROUTINE 3-4 times TOTAL

Thursday Training:

WARM UP:

Stationary Bike: 10 minutes (set to “RANDOM” and adjust difficulty to your liking)

WORKOUT ROUTINE:

Push-ups: 7 reps

Tabletop Crunches: 15 reps (reach up to touch top of knees)

Arnold Press: 10 reps (with 10-15 lbs dumbbells)

Curls/Preacher Curls: 10 reps per side (with 5-12 lbs dumbbells or 10-25 lbs bent/EZ bar)

Alternating Lunges: 10 per side

REST 1 minute

REPEAT COMPLETE ROUTINE 3-4 times TOTAL

After thoughts:

One thing I really appreciate is that while I’m very sore and kinda stiff (going to need an epsom salt bath, stat), is there were aspects of Thursday’s routine that helped stretch out the “damage” still lingering from Tuesday.

This weekend I’m going to try to walk off any lingering issues in my legs which are super not happy with me right now, and will have to adjust for being away from my gym next week since it’s Yule and I’ll be spending it with my family.

Bard out!

Stop Telling Me I’ll Find Someone

Everyone has their own post breakup rules.

Some people remove all trace of the relationship, some people need to be surrounded by friends, others have to binge on chocolate alone while watching terribly written sappy movies to give them hope that this is not the end of…whatever it is they’re scared of it being the end of.

Mine is simple.

Stop telling me I’ll find someone.

I know this sentiment is made with the best of intentions, but I find it an incredibly toxic response. First, you don’t know the exact circumstances in which someone ended their relationship–but most importantly, you’re projecting something onto a scenario that can only cause problems.

“You’ll find someone” tells the recipient of this sentiment that they’ve lost something. That they are now “without”.

I feel like we put too much pressure on the concept of soulmates. Of finding “that one person”.

To even remotely buy into this idea, I would have to accept that “true love” is something only afforded once to a person, and in my experience, love is a delightfully common thing.

Why can we only celebrate or truly value something because it’s rare?

I have been in love at least twice in my life–three times, quite possibly. And those romantic entanglements are vastly overshadowed by the great love I have and receive from my friends and family.

It’s overwhelming and wonderful and far too understated.

Look, it’s possible there will be another romantic what not in my future–it’s also possible there won’t be, and the best part about this question is it truly does not matter either way.

I’m complete on my own. It took me a while to find all the pieces as they weren’t neatly packaged together from birth–but I have them. And I’m fine. I’m awesome. I’ll have days of sadness, I’ll be hurt, I’ll be angry or even maybe a little bitter. I can even toss and turn over things that were or weren’t said or done in that relationship.

But that’s being real. That’s being human. You have those moments regardless what kind of role that someone played in your life.

Another person cannot complete you, and they are not a necessary part of your story. You haven’t failed because you had a break up, and you won’t be failing if you don’t find another person you want to share that kind of relationship with.

I think we perpetuate a dangerous mindset when we sing so many songs about not being able to go on without another person.

I’ve lost people to far more terrible things than break ups. I’ve said goodbye for the last time in this life to so so many loved ones–a pain, frankly, that far outweighs the realization that someone doesn’t love you how you thought.

And yet, I’m here. I’m still breathing. My heart’s still beating. I’m still able to keep going.

want to still keep going.

This line of thinking, I suppose, is also completely separate from the actual context of the break up.

I left an emotionally abusive relationship that had been draining my life bit by bit for nearly three years. Yes, there were happy moments, yes there were times where I had a plan for the future…

But it wasn’t healthy.

And telling me not to worry because one day “I’ll find someone” when I’m “ready” completely negates the really remarkable point of all of this.

did find someone.

I found me.

Never Effortless

One privilege, I know I have, is that I have never had a problem talking about my life. Not really. If the void was open to answers, I have been rather prone to peeling back the curtain and letting everyone who wanted to see what was going on inside of me.

I like the void. I find it comforting. It’s always harder to tell your story when you have a smaller audience. You start concentrating on that one person’s reaction rather than the story as you know it. It can muddy things.

True to my title, I suppose, I’ve always played better to a crowd.

I “overshare” as some people say.

It’s not for everyone. Not everyone feels safe to do it–in truth, not everyone IS safe to do it–I’m fighting for that to change, but we have to be honest at the current predicament of the world. My own country is staring down a Neo-Nazi regime… And there will be those, rightfully so, too scared to tell their story, no matter how much the world needs to hear it. Knowing each other’s stories is how we kill fear–it’s how we grow empathy.

We connect the dots.

It’s why I tell stories. Some are mine to tell, some are borrowing my voice so they can be told.

There are many reasons, I feel, that it’s important for me to try to be as genuine with you as I can about my own personal story and who I am. But I think the one that I keep at the forefront of my mind is that there is a tendency in our society to shy away from trying. Apathy. For ourselves, for the world, for our neighbors.

Nearly half of America’s eligible voters didn’t vote. That level of apathy astonishes me. So much at stake. So many people dependent on the outcome.

This is not isolated to politics, we see a general abhorrence for caring even in our casual day to day. We call people desperate when we see them “trying too hard”. “Try hard” is an actual insult thrown around in gaming. You’re not allowed to want things that much–it somehow makes you pathetic.

“Don’t let them see you sweat.”

It’s as if our mere existence is expected to be without strain or struggle. I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s just a grander scale version of speaking a placative “I’m fine” rather than admitting how you’re genuinely feeling upon being asked how you’re doing. Keep it clean, keep it effortless.

But it’s not. Of course, it’s not. Sometimes getting out of bed isn’t even effortless. Smiling, in point of fact, has been a choice that I have made since I was very small. It’s far easier now to see the good things, to find kernels of happiness in the darkness. But it’s never been effortless.

Writing, creating, filming, loving, sharing–living.

Is. Not. Effortless.

There are days, if I’m being perfectly honest with you, in which I feel I’m literally straining to exist. Stretching my arms out in order to continue persisting.

Some days it’s a little easier, others its exhausting. And I say this as someone who is, by all accounts, perfectly healthy. I can’t imagine how that struggle would multiply if I were also battling mental illness or physical disability or chronic pain. Yet I have seen amazing artists create such beautiful things through all of that.

So it’s important for me that you know, even as a healthy human being, that I’m not a one woman army. I want you to know how many times I’ve needed to ask for help. I want you to know how many times I’ve stumbled or just completely collapsed.

Because I want you to know it’s okay the next time you need to do the same. You can put all your might into something. You can want something so much you think you might burst. You can fail.

You’re not weak.

You’re not alone.

So please try. Care “too much.” Fight. Go for the thing you’re terrified you won’t get. Just TRY.

Because living?

It’s never effortless.

 

First Alys Signing – Glendora, CA

Hello you beautiful Curiosities of the universe!

We’re fast approaching Alys’ release date, and I have my first scheduled book signing!

I’m kinda freaking out. Just a wee bit. Along with fellow Doce Blant authors, Cutter Slagle and Marti Melville, I will be at the Barnes & Noble in Glendora, CA from 11-4pm on November 13th!

If you’re able to make it, I’d love to see you, if you aren’t in the SoCal area, please help spread the word! I’ll be updating you all more as events unfold!

*Squee!*

XOXO,
Kiri

Oh, we’re half-way there–WHOA-OH!

Art courtesy of the incredibly talented JP Rakath.

Alys sidestepped the hardback volume that fell from the trees with a frantic flutter and a loud thud. She looked upward, expecting to see someone sitting on a branch who had accidentally dropped their book, but there was nothing there so mundane. Instead, she saw a great tree whose leaves appeared to be made of pages, and, instead of bearing fruit or flowers, sprouted novels. Some were still very small and young, while some were overripe and rotting, with pages bursting from the binding.

Hello Curiosities!

I haven’t even had a chance to make a video yet, it’s barely been 24hrs and we’re already about half-way there to our 100 hardbound books! I feel so blessed and excited, and content being generated to celebrate the release is overwhelming. We’ve got some upcoming behind the scenes interviews, and even music inspired by the book by the incomparable Sydney Blake!

I’m flailing, I’m excited, and I’m hopeful.

So with that all in mind…

If you want to help us reach our goal of 100 hardbound orders, and be able to get some extra swag…

US Shippers: Buy Your Books Here.

International Shippers:
Please send an email to info@doceblant.com with the following information:

NAME
ADDRESS
BOOK TITLE (And if you’d like hardbound OR paperback)
EMAIL ADDRESS

Note: This workaround is provided by my publisher right now to make sure our international Curiosities can be a part of the pre-release hype and prep while they get things sorted. Once we are released, distribution will be a lot simpler.

Thank you so much for helping me get this far, I’m absolutely overwhelmed by the love and support for something I truly poured part of my soul into.

You are everything, loves.

XOXO
Kiri

Calling all Curiosities – Help Alys Shine

Hello Curiosities!

First, I wanted to show off Alys’ brand new cover courtesy of Doce Blant Publishing and the incomparable Fiona Jayde!

alysfinal-fjm_draft2digital_1600x2400

 

I can’t tell you how excited I am about being able to share this story with you again after some professional polishing, as well as a chance to share it with an entire new audience.

The book is set to release on October 31st, and you can get your very own copy here (US shipping only, International see below) in paperback or hardbound. Don’t worry, we’ll be releasing an e-book as well.

 

We’ll be holding a launch party for the book on November 12th in Los Angeles, and I honestly can’t tell you too much about it because my book agent and publisher want it to be a surprise. HOWEVER, I wanted to make sure that all the amazing Curiosities who have supported me through the years would still be able to celebrate with us, even if they can’t be here in person.

So my publisher will be taking note of the first 100 hardbound books purchased online between now and November 12th–these first-in-line supporters will be provided with some awesome extra benefits (I’m working with them to put together some extra content, possibly including some art from friends, music, and they suggested a signed headshot as well). These Curiosities will also receive a top secret link to watch the party via livestream. We’re working on the logistics, but I’m hoping to be able to carry you guys around on my phone and show you around the party, chat with guests, answer questions etc.

ATTENTION INTERNATIONAL CURIOSITIES:

If you are outside the United States and want to help us reach our goal of 100 hardbound orders, and be able to get some extra swag, please send an email to info@doceblant.com with the following information:

NAME
ADDRESS
BOOK TITLE (And if you’d like hardbound OR paperback)
EMAIL ADDRESS

Basically I’m in super hype mode because this all still seems very surreal and I’m probably going to be in denial of everything even as it’s happening.

Stay tuned for more Alys-themed content as we get closer to countdown. What is it now? 11 days til the actual release? Eep!

XOXO,

Kiri

Returning to Stardust

Today I felt myself again. Today I wandered through unfamiliar streets with no real purpose or direction. Today I held my head up and smiled at strangers.

Today I noticed the little things. An unexplained purple-paint hand print on an otherwise bare concrete wall, the way my shoes sounded a little bit like horse hooves when I click them on the pavement just right, and that particular smell of fresh cut wood and burning metal indicative of construction sites.

Today I didn’t feel drained or scared. Today I felt curious and hopeful.

Today I felt like stardust.

I talk a lot about mental health. Depression is something that has plagued people I love for as long as I can remember. My father, my sister, and my brother, who we lost to suicide in 2013. It has been a hard and painful road, watching them struggle with their own versions of a unrelenting disease. On some level, I was grateful for this intimate insight, because it meant I would be a strong ally to my friends who dealt with similar struggles.

What I did not expect is that understanding and experience could be used against me.

There is a fine line between aiding and enabling. And it’s never easy to see when you’ve crossed it. Usually when you do realize, you find yourself miles away from it.

A few days ago I realized I had spent nearly two years nurturing an unhealthy relationship because I was still trying to save my brother. There were so many red flags. At more than one point this person had threatened me with self-harm, and I had ignored it. There was a continued pattern of disrespect, and I ignored it. I had become a financial and emotional crutch with no effort to ever relieve me of this burden, even after over a year. I ignored this.

And my reasoning behind this was maybe, just maybe, if I tried hard enough, if I sacrificed just a little bit more of myself… I could save someone. I could save someone where I had failed to save my brother, and at the time it didn’t matter if that meant killing myself in the process.

The mental health we don’t often talk about is you can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved, and if you try, it will destroy you piece by piece. Because that person wants to control you. Because that person has been controlling you.

So I finally left. It hurt, and my mind screamed against me that I was cruel and making a mistake. I felt guilty for days. I felt like I had gone back on everything I’d promised in being an ally for mental health.

My friends were kind and supportive. They let me talk and talked me through what happened. I admitted to things I’d been too ashamed to talk about in regards to this toxic relationship. And then I no longer felt guilty, I felt incredibly foolish.

Then a dear friend offered to take me with her to Chicago on a work trip. And I spent time alone, and in doing so, I found someone I hadn’t seen in a very long time.

Me.

Today, I truly let go.

Today, I forgave myself for loving me.

“Baking Olympics” Comic & Drawing Prompt# 3

If you follow my Instagram, you’ll see that I have decided to take on a weekly drawing challenge inspired by a book that was given to me filled with drawing prompts. This week’s drawing prompt was “Baking Olympics” and the following Lutalica Comic is the second in that series of 642.

Note: Lutalica is a word taken from John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. While “lutalica” is also a Croatian word for “wanderer”, Koenig’s dictionary really resonated with me, The Part of Your Identity That Doesn’t Fit Into Categories”.

So thus this comic series was named, and I had a new favorite word.

Baking Olympics

 

ALSO Check out JP’s version of this drawing prompt, because it’s hilarious.

Have you done your own version of this drawing prompt? Leave a link in the comments!

Want to join in on our drawing prompts? Tomorrow starts a new week. Week #3’s prompt: Snow Golem.