Seeking balance

I’ve been wanting to write a post here for a while – well, a few posts, actually – but it just hasn’t happened for various reasons and so now you all get a pointlessly long ramble as I attempt to mind dump all the various things that have been going around and around in my tiny, little mind.

If there were a theme to this ramble, I suppose it would be balance. How I don’t have it some areas and am trying to get it worked out in others and how, even when I think I have something balanced, I tend not to.

Balance in Gaming

This is a gaming blog first and foremost so let’s start there. I’ve never been the sort of person who plays a lot of different games all at the same time, so having two MMO’s to keep track of has been a challenge. Despite the fact that I’m not even trying to evenly split my time between WoW and SWTOR, I still am finding it difficult to pay attention to WoW as much as I would like to. I can’t tell if this feeling stems more from the fact that I’m not meeting my few in-game goals (more on this in just a moment) or because I was so used to giving WoW all of my gaming time that it just feels wrong to only be setting aside a night here and a few hours during the week there.

Thursday is my WoW night since At is typically out fencing and I find it easier, somehow, to play when he’s not around. I can’t shake the feeling that he’s looking down on me for playing WoW still, though in my rational moments, I know it’s not the case. One of my goals is to finally get a rogue to level cap, so I have been trying to put in some time on that, questing through EPL by very slow stages.

Thursday, I was just finishing up a dungeon when my GM sent me a tell, saying they were going to be running through Heroic Firelands again and that I was welcome to tag along if I wished. So I hastily switched over and checked out my gear on [former Alas]. I had utterly failed to re-gem following the handful of upgrades I had gotten in the last run, so I hit the AH and bought some gems and then promptly accepted the summon to the instance like a moron, without having gotten them out of the mail.

And we were immediately off and pulling again, so I shrugged and tried to not suck too much. I think I actually did marginally better than I did the previous time, though I still brought more than my fair share of derp to the table.

As we approached Ragnaros, I found myself checking the roster because surely, surely someone else was around and would take my place. There wasn’t. Texts were sent to try to rope in some other players, but there was no response and they decided to just try it.

I died the first time. And the second time. And pretty much every time. But I also got a better grasp on the bit that killed me the first few times and died to something completely different the third time, so at least I was making personal progress.

He stepped on me a lot.

Not very many pulls into it, I watched in quiet awe as Ragnaros went down and I got a thoroughly undeserved title and also some gloves.

"Welp. I feel like I really earned that."

(Also, please ignore my UI as I’ve been in need of some serious addon updating and it doesn’t normally look that crappy.)

There was some chatter after the fact about how it looked as though they might end up in there again here and there in the coming weeks and an aside about how many more weeks it might take to finish getting Seething Cinders for what I think would be the third and fourth legendary weapons in the guild. It made me glad that I never could bring myself to toss my 600 or so cinders, even though I was certain my shot at the legendary was over. Now I’m sitting at a bit over 800, feeling more than a little staggered.

And wishing I could do something to repay even a little bit of what this guild has done for me even though they have no reason to. Getting a dwarf rogue to 85 and contributing to the Stay Classy achievement doesn’t seem all that worthwhile in the light of getting to see content I thought I would never see.

I guess I just feel out of balance when it comes to gaming. Here I am getting carried by a lot of really cool people through some really amazing kills and feeling as though I have no way in which I can contribute back to them. Because in SWTOR, I am needed for raiding and I have been busting my hump to get consumables crafted for most of the guild for those raids and my commitment is there. Turns out being a peon can be tough if you want to not be a worthless peon.

Balance in Writing

Here’s where I depart from gaming talk for the rest of the wall of text, so if my more personal life bores you, here’s your exit.

I recently pulled myself together out of a spiral of:

I hate that people at work seem to look down on me because my job is menial. Having a menial job doesn’t mean I’m stupid and it frustrates me that people seem to assume it does. (I was told the other day someone wanted Two. Diet. Cokes. She held up two fingers and spoke slowly as though I am so dimwitted that I can’t count as high as two or might otherwise misunderstand her and bring her a bag of pretzels and an orange peel from the garbage. I sort of wanted to stab her, Internet. I really did.)

But I’m not proud of my job however much I enjoy having free time. It’s not my goal in life to make coffee for a bunch of animals masquerading as working professionals.

Oh. But I’m also not chasing my dreams because it’s damn hard to get a book published if you never actually buckle down and write it.

And the next thing you know, I’m feeling lousy about myself because I’m working a menial job where people think I am stupid and I have nothing to point to and say “making coffee might be what I do to make money but this, over here, this is what I do for me.”

So I kicked myself in the ass, took a page out of Cynwise’s playbook and started a writing blog (URL maybe available upon request, but I intend to not over-publicize it). The rules are that I have to write 5000 words a week (this doesn’t happen when I am sick, though) and I’m not allowed to edit anything. It’s scary as all hell to be posting fiction that I haven’t obsessively tweaked and checked, but the two people who may or may not actually be reading it haven’t cackled at me and said I suck forever, so I’m still plugging away at it.

Adding that to the writing mix has had an impact on my regular blah blah blogging. I’m having to learn to be okay with the fact that I can’t churn out content for three blogs every day or even every week. At least I am chasing my dreams. At least I am moving forward. And at least At claims to enjoy the fiction.

And at least I can tell myself I am being paid to write because, you know, I do all my writing at work.

Balance in Life

Lastly, I’ve also kicked myself in the ass (with some help from Elfi and inspiration from Psynister and Fynralyl) with regards to my weight. I have started Weight Watchers and it’s been sort of eye-opening to see where I’ve been making choices that aren’t as healthy as I had thought they were. Although I started a week ago, today, I set my weigh-in for Fridays because I figured I would need some positive reinforcement just before hitting the weekend, when I typically throw all structure out the window.

I started off strong, losing nearly 5 pounds, which is a really fantastic feeling. The weekend was difficult, as I thought it would be, but the most challenging part has been trying to deal with other people constantly attempting to undermine my efforts.

Why do they do this? At encourages me to have another glass of wine and just “use your weekly points.” We had dinner and movie night with some friends and they wanted me to do shots and have another helping of dessert because “today it’s negative points!”

The thing is, I already want to do those things and it’s sort of taking a lot out of me to be strong and to say no. So I’m frustrated with the people around me who aren’t helping (I lectured At quite strongly and he has been better but still wants me to be more flexible with things than I do) and trying to cling to the immediate progress I saw while also looking down the road and realizing it’s a long one and I am going to have to say no to a whole lot of temptations along the way.

Trying to find a balance in still being able to eat things I enjoy and drink in moderation without abandoning my commitment to myself to lose this weight has been tough and it’s only the beginning of week two.

I especially need to find the balance between cutting loose and sticking with a plan on the weekends. It’s somehow easier to remember to eat breakfast and drink water all day when those things are structured around work. At home, I completely failed when it should have been easier.

If you’ve made it through the wall of text, thanks for reading. Tell me how and where in your life you’re looking for balance and any tricks you employ to meet goals. I need all the help I can get.  

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14 Responses to Seeking balance

  1. Yngwe says:

    Hold tight for words of infinite wisdom:

    ganja = 0 points

    Of course, the munchies can kill a week’s worth of progress in 20 minutes.

    • Arioch says:

      That’s a problem for a few smokers I know that also happen to have diabetes… the first things they want to reach for are chips and cookies and ice cream.

      I’m always looking for balance and it always seems like the mid-point on that beam is sliding around. Realistic goals are important but so is accepting that you might not meet those goals once in awhile. The big thing is to pick yourself up, point yourself back at the goal, and keep going.

      Gratz on the kill! I’ve yet to see that encounter so it’s reassuring to know that it can be done with a mage on the floor since that’s where I expect to be spectating from. =)

      • Alas says:

        Yeah, the point where balance lives is definitely a moving target. I guess it’s what helps to keep life interesting and what prevents anyone from ever really being able to say that they’ve arrived at a perfect place. There’s always something that could be worked on.

        Thanks for the grats on the kill. :D The people in my new guild are certainly ridiculously skilled – even the tanks out-damage me by a crapton and only part of that is gear. It’s awesome and humbling to see. I also find myself being torn between wanting to study the crap out of their logs (to see how they do things and hopefully apply some of it to my own self for improvement) and still needing to give more of my attention to SWTOR. Stupid balance.

    • Alas says:

      You know how I’m never up on pop culture?

      Well, I knew I had heard the term ganja before but I couldn’t place it. So I had to Google it. Apparently, I also don’t keep up with pot culture. :P

      Thanks for the wisdom, you nerd.

  2. Lara says:

    As far as advice goes, I’m probably not much use, but this is something that has helped me, for whatever that may be worth.

    When it comes to trying to organize my life, the only principle that works consistently is simplicity. By this I mean, not merely doing less or having less, although that does help. Rather, I mean finding simple and clear rules to follow. The simpler the better.

    So how do I keep from losing my purse and my keys? I always put them in the same place. When I go out, I have a kind of discipline about where I set them down. After a while, I find you don’t even have to think about things like this — when stuff gets out of place, alarm bells go off in your head, because some simple rhythm of daily life has been disturbed.

    Similarly with diet. When I’ve wanted to lose weight, I focus on rules that my feeble brain can keep track of. Like “eat half”. Or “avoid carbs”. Or “snack only on veggies”. Plans like Weight Watchers are really great, and I admire people who have the discipline for them — but all that counting and tracking is too much for me. I need things I can do without having to think about it all the time.

    Simple rules don’t always work, and sometimes you have to think pretty carefully about what kinds of rules will help before you can find the rules you need. For me, though, the key is that all the thinking should be done out ahead of time, so that when I’m down in the little moments of life, I can just decide, and not have to think it out so much. I’m allowed to buy this many books. Now is when I clean up the cat boxes. That’s the time when I pay the rent. Here’s where the car keys live.

    Little rituals like this are usually pretty easy to establish — after all, they don’t take much effort — and at least for me have made a big difference in keeping myself sane and balanced. Also, having routines for the easy things leaves me more time to think about more interesting stuff; although sometimes that can be a disadvantage, when there are things I’d rather not.

    Anyway, I’m not trying to say this will work for everybody, but it’s been pretty good for me. I admire you for grabbing hold of the things you want to change and doing something, even though it’s hard.

    <3

    • Alas says:

      Hehe. I find it interesting that you look at Weight Watchers and think “ahh, too much tracking” while I look at it and say “Oh nice. I can eat this many points and no more.” To me, it is a lot more simple than anything else I’ve tried to do – which admittedly hasn’t been all that focused.

      I actually find it difficult to form even small habits. Part of it is that I have difficulty in assigning certain things enough importance in my mind to really follow through – part of me thinks it just doesn’t matter. The other part is that I tend to be easily distracted. When I do manage to get something in the routine, though, it does stick. (‘Keys. Cellphone. Wallet.’ <– my mantra before heading anywhere so I'm never without one of those vital things, even though they now all get tossed in my purse… I have to check.)

      Perhaps for the weekend I will use some sticky notes to remind me to drink more water and eat breakfast before noon. Placing them in the middle of my keyboard ought to do it.

  3. Vidyala says:

    It’s funny how prevalent negative peer pressure is from people when you’re trying to make healthy choices. I mean, it’s negative/positive because these are people you LOVE but at the same time they are encouraging you to do things that aren’t the best for you. I get this a lot when I don’t want wine period “Oh why,” “You are boring,” etc. I’ve also had a lot more success with my weight loss since Voss has come on board with it too. He admitted himself that he used to undermine my efforts without meaning to, or eat food in my face that is just…food that I can’t eat (it sure doesn’t help). I feel kind of like this sometimes come from a place of guilt on the part of the other people – i.e. they KNOW the food they are having is not good for them and if one person in the group says “Nah, not gonna eat this” then it makes them feel like “Maybe I shouldn’t eat this” and then they feel guilty and/or resentful as if you’re passing judgement on them. Hence it’s easier to get EVERYONE eating it so nobody questions whether it’s a good choice for anybody to make. Does that make sense? It helps me to keep that in mind, that usually it’s not ME it’s someone else’s hangup. As far as indulgences go, though, I do plan for and allow myself some because otherwise I go crrraazy. But it has to be something worth it that I really LOVE (amazing ganache cake on my birthday, not the sheet cake at my grandparent’s 75th wedding anniversary). I dunno if that helps. I think the overall pattern of what you do matters a lot more than one occasion, it’s when the occasions start to add up to a pattern that it’s troublesome. I’ve lost 12 lbs so far, not at an incredible rate (about 1.4 per week?) but steadily, so it’s working for me! I hope you can achieve your goals, first!

    I’ve had trouble balancing TOR and WoW, too – with the net result that I’m not really playing TOR. Game time can cut into so much ‘need to do other stuff time.’

    p.s. Eff the people who treat you poorly at work so hard. I hate when people act like they never had to do any kind of job that involved helping people. It says a lot more about them than it does about you.

    • Alas says:

      I hadn’t actually really stopped to think it through why people might be attempting to undermine me, but this makes a lot of sense. That being said, I still think it’s a pretty crappy thing for other people to do, no matter what their intentions are. I do wish At would get just a little more on board with the whole weight-loss thing. He doesn’t have near as far as I have to go, but it would be nice to be part of a couple that is being mindful of what they eat and how much.

      As to indulgences, I plan on allowing myself some. I’m still leaving room in my points every day for at least one glass of wine, because it’s something I like to have while winding down from a busy day. A more occasional indulgence will be dark chocolate – because it makes me happy. I think the hardest part is that I just got into baking and now I don’t feel like I should even make any croissants because hot damn, the butter that goes into those things is pretty ridiculous. I’m spending less time in the kitchen now, and it makes me a bit sad. Guess that’s my cue to try to find some healthier recipes and hope that they are actually good and not gross.

      As to the rude people at work… yeah, eff them so hard. And you’re right it says a lot about them. The really bad part is that I feel unable to do anything about it. Short of doing or saying something that might get me in trouble with my boss, what options do I have? Bust out all the big words I know when I have to talk to them? I can see it now:

      “How are you today?”

      “Lugubrious.”

      “…okay.”

  4. Analogue says:

    I hear a lot of my own thoughts in this post. Oh, my game priorities are different. The raid is in WoW and I’ll keep it there. But I want to play more Star Wars and haven’t logged on there in a month. Not because I don’t like the game, but because writing has eaten my life in a good way.

    Setting goals for writing is so key. I’ve actually had to change my focus a bit from “write X words” to “write the right words”. Nine years of NaNoWriMo has taught me some bad habits.

    You probably already know this because I remember you’re a Brandon Sanderson fan but Writing Excuses is the best podcast I’ve ever found for writing. Seriously, listening to Writing Excuses and buying Scrivener last fall, for NaNo, turned my NaNo Novel from “meh, 50,000 words, whatever” to… something I’m seriously going to shop around here in a few more months. So if perchance you haven’t listened, give it a whirl, at 15 minutes apiece it’s not a lot of commitment.

    Where do I balance? I prioritize things and schedule them. I only have to work 30 hours a week: great, so work hours are from 7:30 to 2:30. I need at least two hours of writing time a day even if I don’t take advantage of that time: ok, writing is from 3 to 5. I can have a reliable three-hour nap session out of the toddler every day: cool, make sure that overlaps with at least one hour of the writing time. Raid is 7 o’clock Friday and Saturday, that one can’t get moved. Church is set times Saturday and Sunday, those don’t move either.

    Everything else gets slotted into the cracks. Walmart run? Well, either I’d better get up early or take a long lunch. Toddler needs to go to the park instead of my writing time? Ok, evening free time is for catching up on writing instead of WoW.

    Basically every task or activity gets its own priority level, and I manage things in that order. It’s like tech support only for my life.

    • Alas says:

      Well, obviously I’d like to not sacrifice quality for quantity and I’m making notes along the way of things that I would like to go back and tweak or add or change, but I think that the major piece of writing for me right now is just getting words on paper. It’s a start, anyway. I really fell out of the bait of writing fiction when I picked up on blogging, but I’m not willing to give up blogging altogether at this point.

      I have certainly heard of Writing Excuses and have meant to give it a listen. I’m just not really into podcasts in general, though I suppose my commute would be an excellent time to get some listening in. I used to fit some in during mindless dungeon runs, but it’s a little more tricky to listen to anything not game related when playing SWTOR. Silly story-driven quests. :P

      But overall, I think a good key in what you said is setting priorities. I have few things other than work and raid times that can’t be moved around, so I need to remember that game time comes after exercise and writing time in terms of importance. Unless it’s a raid.

  5. Gank says:

    I’m a person of extremes so achieving balance in life is tough. In games I don’t even try and happily obsess away over whatever I’m into at the moment.

    In life, and I’ve said this before, it’s about being kind to yourself. Recognize your achievements. I like to run, and it got to a point where if I didn’t run- even if I was at the gym exercising- I’d think of it as a failure. That was silly as I was still at the gym lol. I decided to think of my exercising as ‘being at the gym’ rather than ‘running’ so now when I am at the gym I see it as a success no matter what exercise I am doing.

    Little victories!

  6. First off, this made me laugh:

    “And at least I can tell myself I am being paid to write because, you know, I do all my writing at work.”

    Secondly, I wish I could talk to AT alone for a while. Take him to lunch or something. Talk to him about what it means to be a Husband/Mate/SO and some-such. Not because I think he’s lousy at it, OH NO SIR! But because we all need encouragement, we all make mistakes, and we all just sort of “derp” every now and again.

    And please don’t make the mistake that I would do this just for you. No, I would do it because it reminds me on how I need to be a better husband to my wife. How, I fail so miserably at encouraging her in her dreams and goals. How I forget that I promised to make her #1 in my life, and that I willing sacrifice myself for her.

    I would do it because I have a huge, burning desire to see the men in the lives of the women that I know be better men. To kick delayed adolescence in the @$$, and just show the world how awesome we can be.

    So, in a way I would be “being” selfish. But, I hope that both of us would come out mutually encouraged and better men because of it.

    I know I want to be a better man for the woman I love.

    Also, feel free to delete this comment. I don’t want to sound like I’m coming down on AT. He’s a great guy. This is just something I have a passion about.

    /rantoff

    Z

  7. Iyeri says:

    Dill pickles are a fun snack. If they have not changed utterly since I did points, they were a 0 pointer too!