It really is just about joy #Mentalhealth

I wrote a post last night, mainly focused on Star Wars. But I want to dig a little deeper into the key point I made. That is that we need to find things that we enjoy in this life, and celebrate them. And not spend useless time criticizing those things that give people joy.

(Now of course I am not referring to those individuals who find joy in hurting others. Or those who are only able to find joy in things that are physically harmful to themselves. I am not condoning or recommending those actions.) 

People ask me what FreeRangeGeek means. And my simple answer is that I have a lot of things that I geek out on, and there is a wide variety of those things, not just zeroed in on one area. And I recommend that approach to life. But if you focus on just one thing that gives you joy and geek out on it that is okay too.

I geek out on sports, mainly american football and basketball. I am not as focused on those as I once was. But as I sit here at my desk I see multiple objects celebrating sports teams that I follow and cheer for. And while I do not watch as much as I once did, I still make it a point every day to read up on the news in the sports world. I find those things interesting, and watching a good game or watching my team win, gives me joy. Are there elements of sports that are negative, that subtract from that joy? Yes, but I choose not to focus on them. I am aware of them, and that is one of the reasons my focus on sports has lessened over the years. But I do not think less of a person who loves sports and makes following a team or teams a big part of their lives (unless you’re a Dallas Cowboys fan ūüėČ .)

I geek out on my games, role playing games and table top games. Lately that focus has been on role playing games. But that doesn’t mean I think less of the other games. It just means that my attention is currently held by the RPG’s. And I currently wave this geek flag high, I no longer try to hide this part of my life, I tell people that I am going to play D&D, and I arrange my schedule around those games.

I geek out on my TV shows and movies. I talked about Star Wars yesterday, but that same feeling can be turned to my comic book hero movies and TV shows. From the gritty violence of Daredevil to the over the top camp of the Marvel Avenger movies. I love them all. And I make it a point to watch them and enjoy them. And I love that Kim and the kids have begun to share this love with me. We now all look forward to the next Marvel movie, make sure we do not miss our shows.  Are TV and movies on some level passive entertainment? Sure, but it is still entertainment. And more importantly it is fun to talk over it all and understand how all these things interconnect.

I geek out on books, mostly fantasy, some sci fi, and the occasional non-fiction. I am looking at replacing my iPad, and one of the biggest factors is how good do books look. If you catch me at lunch on a work day I am most likely reading. I got the bug at an early stage, from two parents who loved to read, and it has never gone away. One of my most prized possessions is my library card.

And I geek out on music. I love my music. My eclectic musical collection that I have amassed over the years. I am not the type who has to have a high end music device. I just want to be able to listen to something. I probably have music playing in the background for at least a third of my day every day.

That is a very general list of what I love and geek out on. There are other things I love: being a parent (most of the time), eating, hiking (or at least getting out and enjoying nature.) And one of the things that turned me around from where I was a few years ago was turning my focus from the things I could not control and thought I should like to those things I did enjoy and love.

Most importantly, I care less about what other people geek out on than before. If your thing is sports, that’s cool. If your thing is church, then that’s cool too. If your thing is helping others, then by all means do it. So long as what you love to do does not harm you or others than do it. And don’t listen to those who criticize what you do. Oh, there is one other thing I don’t accept, spending your time criticizing those things that people enjoy. I don’t want to listen to someone sit and complain or criticize. I want to sit and listen to someone speak passionately about something they honestly enjoy. That is what being a freerangegeek is to me: passionately enjoying something (or many things) and be willing to share it, and do not criticize others passions.


It really is coming together

Had a follow up with the Dr. today about my medication. And we agreed to keep it up, but that it is making a difference. It is funny how much easier it has become to relax in the face of things that were giving me problems before. I know that I have a long way to go, a lot of mental adjustments and strategies to learn and implement, but it does feel like I have turned the corner.

One of the things that I have noticed is that is has become much easier to just push myself away from the table at a meal. Or just accept that what I ordered is enough. I know that the medications are not an appetite suppressant. But I am beginning to realize how much of my eating habits over the last year were because of anxiety and emotion.

Last night and this morning were tough. I had a terrible game of Blood Bowl (the dice were not rolling in my favor at all.) And when I got home it was clear that Jimmy and the kids had really not done any of the things that I had repeatedly asked them to in the morning. But right when I was about to blow up, I took a deep breath, accepted it and just went to bed, realizing (with Kim’s help) that¬†it was stuff that could be done in the morning. And then stayed up late reading which meant that I was real tired this morning. But I just got the kids moving, gently reminded them when I wanted them to do stuff, and we still got where we needed to on time. I needed that reminder that it really can all work out, without my obsessing or trying to control every second of the kids time.

As part of all this I am continuing to work on distancing myself from watching Football this year. Because watching leads to getting emotionally invested. I can read what happened after the fact and just deal with it just fine. Of course it is early and it remains to be seen how long I can remain this detached, but I have a goal for it at least.

Finding a way today

It has been a long week and today I am feeling the effects. It was a real struggle to get up and get moving, and a fight to even get things done and get to work. Had to fall back on some comfort food to make it through the morning. But I am here and think I can make it.

It’s been rough this week to get to sleep. The combination of the heat, plus the usual night time obsessions have made it a real bear to get to sleep. And last night, after a game of Blood Bowl I had an even harder time, being still keyed up. And I know it will be harder this weekend, with the 2 night camp out with Danny on Sunday and Monday. Maybe I can get some rest tonight and Saturday. Now that I am more aware of it I can really sense how this has all affected my mood, making it a real struggle.

Last nights game was exciting, too exciting. I ended up getting a tie against the one team that I had always lost to. It was tough, because I had the game in hand before the dice turned and he was able to come back, I needed him to blow one last dice roll to keep just the tie. So, very exciting, frustrating but I can count myself lucky to have finally broken that losing streak against him.

So I have been playing with photography this week. I talked with Kim and I do think that it is one thing that I can do that will keep me entertained and be enjoyable. I have been working with some pictures I have taken along my regular running route along the Midland trail, focusing on the effects that flooding has done. Here is a shot from last fall when we were suffering from the big floods:

Flooded trail from October 2013

Flooded trail from October 2013

And here is the link to the Public Flickr folder where I am keeping more of these shots as I work on them. I chose shots of this area as a focus for my pictures for now, beyond family shots.

Summing up, I know it is a struggle today. But I am doing my best to counter that. And I am working on finding things that I can focus on that I enjoy as a refuge when I need that alone time.

What do I love to do? Tough question

A question posed last week by my therapist, and one I am still working on answering. There are levels and layers to the answer. I love to do a number of things, but many of those involve other people or are limited to certain contexts. And I think a large part of what he is getting at is to think of something I can carve out for me, essentially a hobby, that is not dependent on other people, that I can escape to if and when the need arises. Which creates a dilemma, because I am between hobbies at the moment.

When I was young my hobbies mostly revolved around role playing games and my various fantasy worlds. Which was fun then, but has lost it’s allure as role playing really is not as much fun unless other people are involved. My capacity to just sit and invent worlds, campaigns and characters for fun has not stuck with me over the years.

As I became more and more involved in table top gamin I learned to love painting. I spent a lot of fun time sitting and painting miniatures, and then building armies. I still enjoy some table top games, although it is mostly Blood Bowl as it requires the least amount of investment. But painting lost it’s hold on me, now it has almost become too hard what with failing vision (damn age) and tendinitis. Would that be different if I had a painting station in my home still that I could use? Maybe, but it wouldn’t change the physical challenges.

Playing Magic with Jimmy and his friends is fun, but that has really become a young man’s game, requiring more time and hustle to get the desired cards to build good decks than I am willing to invest. I still will enjoy the occasional game with them, but I doubt it will become the passion I once had.

Running is great, and solitary. But it is not something I can do every day, or just take off on a whim to do. It is more of a scheduled activity. And the same would apply to taking hikes or walks to some extent.

For a time photography seemed to be something that would get me going. And it still might, I am not sure I really gave it a completely fair shake. It is something that I could spend a fair amount of solitary time with. I think the biggest thing to make that the hobby I am looking for is gain some focus.

And that is pretty much it. I am leaving out 3 things on purpose. Music is an omnipresent part of my life, but it is not a hobby, I don’t listen to music just to listen, and I have not interest in attending concerts or shows. Books are always there, I cannot imagine life without them, as such I don’t consider them a hobby. And A/V entertainment (movies, television, sports) are not really a solitary thing for me, they are best enjoyed by sharing (at least for me.)

I guess all this meandering is more of an exercise. Searching for an answer to a question that I have not really come up with yet. For now my biggest diversion is the time spent playing blood bowl, and that is good for now. But there will be times between games and seasons when I need something else, specifically day to day, and I am still searching for that. 

Taking advantage of the feelings of well being

For a weekend that did not start out very promisingly it all ended up great. From a rather odd disappointing Scout event to ending up with a feeling of well being and a good scratch dinner and some binge Netflix series watching. In between there was a fun family gathering, I finally got to play a game, and I got started on some much needed yard work.

Lesson learned on the Scouting event. In the future there needs to be far more interaction with a group before signing up kids to volunteer so the kids (and families) know what they will be doing, when they will be needed and what it is all about. I had to get the kids up early after a late night swim party for the Girl Scouts and drive an hour or so up into the mountains to a reservoir to volunteer for the Fishing Has No Boundaries event. Which is a great idea, and seemed like a worthy Scout activity. However, we found that we were not really needed until 12, and had nothing to do, and no great way to entertain the kids for 2 hours. So we did the little that we could and came home. Which was disappointing, but beyond our control.

I was afraid that would set the theme for the rest of the weekend but I was wrong. I got home in time to watch the extra time and shoot out in the Brazil Chile game. And then the first half of the Colombia – Uruguay game. And then it was off to a family birthday party. Which I handled pretty well and overall had a good time. I was able to keep relaxed and just have fun with it.

Sunday started off well with a decent nights sleep. And then I was able to go play some Blood Bowl, for the first time in 2 months. I had some great luck, my opponent had some bad luck and I was able to pull off a close 1-0 game. I was really glad to be playing again, with the start of a new season. I stuck with the Lizards from last season, I enjoyed playing the Dark Elves & Dwarves, but the Lizards really are my best team.

Got home and just felt really good. Lots of energy so I was able to get out and tackle a lot of much needed weed eating. I got the entire front and back yards done, with time in between to watch the second half, extra time and shoot out between Greece & Costa Rica (Go CONCACAF!)

It was really nice to have energy and just feel good about things for a change. I have been in such a depressive rut for a while that it has been a struggle to get things done around the house. For once I wanted to do some work and felt good doing it instead of just doing what I had to do. Damn cycles, really hope that starting therapy and other things will help break that.


The sun throws a welcome light on us

The weekend is here! It has been a long week, the kids are really starting to get that feeling. Plans to do some fun things this weekend, after some work. And I get a break from my games.

Ants in their pants

The kids are definitely starting to show the signs of Spring and end of school year. They are all getting very restless, and touchy. Jimmy has valiantly fought a cold so he could not miss any more school (and get to do things like today’s reward day for the ‘good kids’.) Emily is fighting her repeated sinus infection, and is trying to get out and play hard at the same time. Which makes her especially touchy.

I think a lot of this will pass and settle down when school ends in a couple of weeks. Hard to believe it is just a few weeks, but glad for it to end. We have pretty much all the plans in place, and I for one am looking forward to not having to get up quite so early, at least on the days they are staying at home.

Fun events 

First the kids have to help me restore order to the basement. Which shouldn’t be that hard, just a matter of putting toys away. And of course there will also be some yard work on tap. And our weekly grocery trip. So not all fun and games.

But, once that is done there are some fun things to look forward to. Saturday is Free Comic book day, so we have our annual trip to the comic book store to see what is there. Then I have promised them a swimming trip (trying to make that at minimum a weekly event so the kids are ready for our vacation.) And Sunday we are running the monthly Scout hike, glad for the nice weather for that. And Danny will have a friend stay the night as well.

Blood Bowl

Well the Gators season came to an end last night. Despite the best efforts and leadership of Star Player Hemlock and his credible job of removing 2 opposing players from the game (one a clean kill that the Elvish Apothecary could not reverse.) The team just could not hold off the shifty Wood Elves. And due to their one victory over the Orange Tornados the team now has to sit until next season, failing to make the Playoffs or Toilet bowl. The coach did vow to return next season, having finally decided that he saw a spark in this team that wasn’t there in the Dwarves or Dark Elves.

Which means I don’t have any games for at least 2 weeks while other players play their playoff games. And given the occasional scheduling problems this group has it is more likely 3 weeks before I can set up my next game, sigh. I guess I will have to content myself with Magic for now. But with Mothers day next weekend, then other family events, and then my anniversary, it isn’t terrible to have a little break.

I just like to build

Pondering hobby things today. I missed out on my Blood Bowl game last night, which put me in to a funk. And then I have been in a mental mode of thinking about Magic as well. And I think I have come to a conclusion, well more of an epiphany really.

At least in my hobbies: table top games, card games, books etc. I like construction and building. And this is one of the reasons I have found myself put off some of the table top games I used to play more. In books I like to read stories about characters building something, with a real goal in mind, rather than just pure action. And in some of my favorite series I have been utterly delighted when what appeared to be disconnected pieces of action all of a sudden found themselves coming together into a whole.

The biggest recent example is my Blood Bowl league. I enjoy the games, it is generally a pleasant diversion. But more than that I like the fact that a good chunk of the game centers around building and improving the teams. That with each game I can gradually change and improve the team. And that makes the game unique among most table top games. The other games I have played: Warhammer, Warhammer 40K, Clan War, Warzone, etc. do not have a concept of experience and improvement built in. So the building in those games is limited to the physical building: buying the miniatures, assembling units, painting, figuring out points. And that is generally fun, but has lost it’s appeal to me (failing eyesight, physical dexterity, space issues, probably all contribute to that.)

Magic has a big element of that. Tracking down the cards, or sorting from what you have. Then assembling and building a deck. Then, having completed that, fine tuning it by adding and subtracting elements. The games are almost secondary to some extent. Of course it is a lot different now, with so many sets and cards out there that it is nearly impossible to keep pace in building decks. Which is something I am running into playing with Jimmy & his buddies.  They are much closer to the new sets and find it easier to keep track, while I tend to get confused by what is out there.

If I had to track to this back I would say it comes from my Role playing roots. As much as I enjoyed playing, the idea of improving on the character, gaining new skills and equipment, that was what I enjoyed. In fact I used to drive some people nuts with how I would focus on that and show up for the next session having figured out how to add this or that.

Heck, part of the appeal of running to me is the idea of building (or rebuilding) myself up to new stages. Adding a new challenge, going just a little bit farther so next week I can go even farther. That is a constant challenge to keep it fun for me.

In the ‘real world’ I guess this is why I enjoy being a parent so much. I love helping and watching my kids gain new skills and ‘level up’. Watching Jimmy obsess over Magic, rushing to the local shop after school, is fun for me because I know that he is gaining new skills and experiences. Same applies to Danny and scouting, Emily and her various dolls, etc. They are all constantly advancing. It takes patience, but you know it will never be the same, there is constant change.

In the end, I just like to build, not literally, but to construct things and watch them develop. And that is just me, it is what I am. Some people are content or feel a need for stability. While I like routine, I only need it so it is easier for the things I am building to grow. Like keeping a garden weed free, or a workbench clean. That is what routine is for me: keeping the things that can stop the change and growth from occurring to a minimum.