It’s has been a long while since I have written in this blog. Some of the time it has been due to just being incredibly busy. Others it has been out of feeling I had nothing of import to say. Sometimes I wondered what a conspiracy of light was, others I felt I was not being true to the mission if I simply wrote what I was feeling. Regardless, it has been a while, and like all people who come through the crucible of the holiday season, I find that I wish to make positive changes for the coming year. Whether I am able to maintain the goals I develop, something about me, either some deep genetic predisposition, or some cultural more has woken up and wishes to speak. So here I am again, writing in the new year, and hoping that a pledge to write at least once a month (if not more) will be a successful resolution.
Over the years I have come to think of holidays in a very different way. I grew up in a christian family and of course I was taught that the holidays were all about Christ. That is certainly some of the picture historically, but prior to the birth of Christ there were a great many traditions. It is my understanding that the Catholic church, in need of a morale boost and campaigning for most popular religion, usurped many of these traditions and made them “christian”. But there is another side and I tend to think of the holidays in terms of what I imagine were the original circumstances. Upon finally developing science, or keen observation skills, we were able to determine that the light was slowly going away. It was getting darker and thus, very likely it would continue to be that way. Ugg and his friends Eh and Bort all believed that the world was coming to an end. In the absence of any idea of what to do, they did what we all do in time of need, they called out for help. They did this in a myriad of ways (probably, I purport none of this to be actually historical but a fiction with historical underpinnings). They likely sacrificed virgins, held huge rituals, sought out wise men for understanding, took psychedelics, or just hunkered down and cried (as so many do during the holidays to this day). Such fear probably brought the families together but under the guise of fear because, well we may never see one another again. So all of these grand rituals and sacrifices happen, and the cyclical nature of the earth then provides a return of the light. In modern terms we pass the winter solstice. This meant that there was much rejoicing. The powers that be must have favored us, they are bringing back the light. The days began to get longer again, and thus the rituals however bizarre, were reinforced and superstitious behavior was born out of this. (Don’t get me wrong here, I love the holidays and all of the wonderful ritual that comes with them). Seeing that the light returned, Ugg and his friends and family began to speculate that maybe, they had done something to anger the gods in the first place. They were obviously a very thoughtful people. So they began to make amends with one another and take vows to live a good life- whatever it might take to keep the light around. Thus I believe was the resolution born. Ugg gave back the lawnmower he had borrowed from Geh, Sal stated that she would be a better person and stop being mean to Gluh, and many other ancient peoples made promises to make a change in hopes that the sun would stick around.
So here we are in the modern world, burdened with cultural and evolutionary baggage from the past, aware of the cycles of nature, and yet we still hold onto archaic wisdom, why? For my part I believe we need these rituals of festivity and renewal. They sustain us and keep us going. Perhaps they even warm us through the winter months giving us reason to move forward when it seems that the world is trying to shake us off with bursts of wind and snow. Whatever the case, we have adopted these traditions and I wish to make my promises to the new year public. A recent Ted interview http://blog.ted.com/2014/01/08/the-science-of-willpower-kelly-mcgonigal-on-why-its-so-dang-hard-to-stick-to-a-resolution/ about resolutions suggested that making resolutions public meant that we have a greater likelihood of fulfilling our goals. So rather than believe in the old adage that we break them all very quickly I am going to take her advice and put myself on display for all who care to witness, exhibitionist for one and all. The article also stated that resolutions were better without reference to deficit. Instead we should adopt goals that represent a positive future; not simple things like “I don’t eat healthy, so I should eat healthy”. The author stated that a goal couched in terms of the future we wish to see, rather than deficits we wish to repair, would give us more motivation and produce better results. So that is what I will be doing. Finally the author suggested that instead of large bite goals, we should make our goals require only small changes that are easily achievable. Very often when we make changes, we have grandiose designs on how we are going to revolutionize our lives. At least for me, the typical flash-bang-whiz changes do not stay embedded. We have been operating as we have for a long time, entraining habits and balancing our lives, one burst changes will not stick as they go against the already developed model. Thus the cold turkey approach to change, while necessary for some things, rarely pans out in the ways we would like. For change to last, it has to be easily achievable. Besides, aren’t you all tired of cold turkey at this point? Another nice Ted Talk is below for you to check out.
My new years resolutions:
1)I like writing, and I like when I have an audience. A lot of good ideas pass through this mind of mine and without sharing them they get lost. I want to stir discussion, even if only among friends and stalkers. I feel good when I get to vent and quietly introduce changes. The Conspiracy of Light blog was born out of the need to write more often, and to catalog some of my better ideas. It is my fervent wish that I do this every so often to at least clean out the pipes, and perhaps to influence others who look in on my fishbowl life. So I will write in the blog at least once a month. If you who are reading this enjoy it, then please encourage me to carry on. Personally I am telling Siri to remind me to write once a month. Ain’t technology wonderful!
2) One of my biggest passions in the past 2 years has been playing and learning about boardgames. This new hobby has sustained me, and even caused me to do a lot of self examination. Games while incredibly fun are also a tool for developing personal insight and suggesting change in thinking and in social interaction. Last year I began formulating an awareness of the ways in which games were meaningful and useful both in my personal life, and in the lives of others. I spoke on the Geek Therapy podcast about using gaming as a therapeutic tool, and I was able to address a small crowd at Dragoncon regarding using games in therapy. Now that dream has grown a little bigger and I am actually going to be able to address a larger audience at Gencon. As such preparation is key. The idea to use games in therapy and recognize the potential for games to build social and mental faculties is of course born of my love of both things. But my personal experience and expertise does not alone support this idea. There are indeed a number of studies and journal articles that have been written on this and as such I need to go into my next presentation armed with all of the facts. I am excited to be presenting this idea to bigger audiences and helping other therapists to develop their craft by using the things they are already passionate about. There are several avenues I wish to explore regarding the research I will do. I would like to look into contributing to the Dice Tower network (and hopefully find some like minded individuals to develop the discussion with on the podcast). Also I would like to continually share the knowledge I develop with those who are interested. Finally I would like to do some personal research into the phenomenological experience of playing games (perhaps doing some surveys on the experience of regular gamers). There is a whole amazing world to explore here and I want to continue that exploration in whatever way that I can.
3) The other passion in my life is of course music. The Soundscape podcast has been running for over 10 years now. We have made the transition to a new station, and the opportunities to support and grow the music have never been better. I will continue to grow Soundscape and provide support to my proggy friends (be they musicians or listeners). By adding the reading club to the Soundscape program, I will be able to meet the goal of reading more throughout the year. (For those who do not know, Soundscape will read 1 book every 2 months and then develop a show based on the themes in the book- the first one we have chosen is Ringworld by Larry Niven and the show will be at the end of February). The other side of this passion is using music in therapy. Last year I was both proud and excited to complete my level 2 program in Guided Imagery and Music. I had some rather intense and dare I say mystical experiences and I am now ready to help others take some of these same journeys. This year I will start my LPC and begin movement towards having my own therapy practice. My time with Family Ties has been an amazing period of growth, and I will likely stick around for a while more, but I will be looking for office space so I can continue my work with music therapy in the next year. Of course the goal would not be complete if I did not set some goals regarding seeing live music. It is no secret that Suzi and I love a good show. Next year we expect to hit two major festivals (Wannee and Lockn), we also hope to see Gov’t Mule play the Ryman, and if David Gilmour hits the states we will find a way to get there. So yes, I plan for music to be a major focus in the next year.
4) The hardest goal to work on will be the financial goals. I have seen a lot of people go through hard times due to not developing a financial plan. What I will need will be an aggressive plan for saving and making money, while still allowing myself to continue all of the growth I am working towards. This is no easy task, but the two go hand in hand. This will mean seeking aggressive retirement plans, streamlining spending by developing an efficient budget, and taking advantage of the resources we have at hand. This is also the goal I am least qualified to write about as I am no genius when it comes to money. I have lived my life in way that has blessed me with some good results, but money has never been a focus. The difficulty will be in striking a balance but I believe that it will be necessary in order to achieve all of the goals I am working on. Nuff said.
5) The final goal for this post may sound like the typical new years resolution, to be healthier. At 47 I am very aware of my own mortality and I still have a great deal to do while on the planet. I have seen the effects of age and I want to leave some sort of meaningful legacy for those who will come after me. That said, I need energy, motivation, and health. So I need to work out a plan for eating better and exercising more often. The bite size bit will be that I have to not overwhelm my system with change. Walking 2-3 times a week, using health and fitness apps to track progress, and reducing eating habits will help to sustain this goal. I may not ever be a swimsuit model, but I would like to trim off some of the excess weight that is keeping me from moving faster. So my commitment is to log my meals, and develop a routine of walking for about 60 minutes a week (20 minutes, 3 times a week). Hiking and biking will add to the joy of the thing, as well as dancing at every live music show I can get to.
Well those are the top 5 goals. I am not certain if I have effectively put a plan in place for each one, but they do outline my wishes for the next year. I only ask that my reader check in on me to see how I am doing, and let me know what they are working on so that I can equally support them. I am flawed, and often lost, but very happy to be alive and passionate about completing my goals. I want to be supportive to others in the same way so that we can all, around this time next year, feel proud of last years accomplishments and develop the next plan.