Virtually Awesome Gifting

DragonflymuseThe family who games together stays together.  In fact, that reminds me, I forgot about sharing some recent work I commissioned from a few artists I follow.  It’s even on topic because I paid for it with virtual currency.  So, first, sharing!

Mischiart was running a special for in-game currency awhile back and I ordered this piece of my Guild Wars 2 Mesmer, Relm Arrowni (inspired by the same Relm Arrowny of FFVI fame, but toned down and set in Tyria).  Click the picture and find Mischiart on her deviantart page.  She’s awesome, you should also consider comissioning her!

Relm FinishedSeveral details were my idea (such as her pose), but Mischiart brought more awesome details such as the dripping paint line above the knees and shaping her palette like a butterfly (non GW2 players:  Purple butterflies are a common mesmer illusion graphic in the game).

Then I commissioned this epic piece from her, titled “The Family Who Games Together” and why I remembered I hadn’t yet shared these commissions.

the_family_that_casts_together____by_mischiart-d7ybase
I wanted a picture of three of my family’s characters together, but one that made at least some sense but also incorporated top choices.  The result ended up being two Guild Wars 2 characters and my husband’s World of Warcraft mage but sneakily put together.  In World of Warcraft there are 3 types of mages, ice, fire, and arcane.  Though the topmost characters are actually GW2 elementalists, they still look like they could be WOW mages.

Likewise, Morbius at the bottom is using purple-coloured arcane magic based in WOW, but it just as easily looks like a tailor-made GW2 mesmer illusion.

Either way, it groups up one of our favourite characters in games for each of us.

At top is my GW2 elementalist, Celes Cherano.  Yes, she is another FFVI tribute with toned down backstory and set in Tyria.  In the middle you have my son’s elementalist, another FFVI tribute (he just started playing it on an emulator occasionally), Terra Buranford.  Finally, at the bottom, my husband’s mage, Morbius, based rather lightly (but with completely different backstory) on Morbius from Forbidden Planet.

Back on topic!

Back for their birthdays in September, we were running rather tight with money.  We managed to swing a few gifts for our son, and dinner out for both birthdays at once.  I found out that World of Warcraft was taking the ability to win four very awesome mounts out of the game in October.  The catch was, none of us were ready to earn one and buying the speed challenge runs necessary cost 100k per person.  I only had 40k at the time.

Bank of Doogan (a friend with stockpiled virtual wealth who’s nice enough to loan it out from time to time) to the rescue!  I borrowed 200k from him and scored both of my boys their own challenge dungeon mounts and gear set before they were swept off availability.

Here’s one of the four colours after I got my own on horde:

Phoenix 1Well…it’s almost time for the next World of Warcraft expansion (this Thursday!) and I still owe Doogan 19k gold and no one is buying anything any more on the in-game auction house *flail*

Don’t get me wrong, as long as it’s taking me to pay back, it was worth it.  Now, however, money is even tighter than before and Christmas looms ahead.  We can still swing a few real-world gifts (we pre-paid for the expansions back when we actually had some money), but not nearly as many as I would like.

However, there’s always the other games we play together, and maybe even some more virtual WOW gifts if I can earn the gold back for them in time.  Right now, I’m working on an entire box of special pokémon (30 total) surprise in their X and Y games.  Shhh!  Trying to get as many shinies as I can.  So…because I’ve turned the game into work I guess I can change my occupation to “Volunteer Pokémon Breeder.”  I wonder if anything in my new business is tax deductible?

So what is the “virtually awesome gifting?”  Well, it’s the nice side effect, of playing several different games together (and being, as they both admit, a bit better at all of them).  When it comes to gifting, whether for birthdays, Christmas, or just because, even when money is tight and you can’t work for money…

Well…there’s always earning stuff in Pokémon…or World of Warcraft…or Guild Wars 2…or LoTRO (less so with that last).

Maybe I’ll get a job who’ll work around my husband’s schedule this season.  Don’t worry, we’re not starving (elsewise we wouldn’t all 3 have WOW subscriptions right now).  Either way, it’s nice having a back up plan where I can earn or “buy” them nice things in their favourite games and still watch their faces light up.

My son says he likes the gifts I earn them a lot.  In fact, they’d be the perfect gifts really if there were something he could actually unwrap.  I told him that settles it, on Christmas eve, if I get him something for Pokémon, I’ll just wrap his DS game.  If I get him something for WOW, I’ll wrap his laptop up.  I love his giggle.

Brony Dash 2My little Brony Dash hopes you all had a happy Halloween as well.  Yes, he’s growing his hair out.  Yes, it’s in a ponytail past his shoulders.  Yes, he looks a lot like a mini-me here.  Yes, our camera sucks.

Also, since it is Memory Monday…a tie in:

10174818_10201853143357776_4430664082535772268_nI made this meme with my son awhile back after a fishing meme said “Fishing outside.  Because memories aren’t made from video games.”  Nothing against fishing, honest, great memories there as well, but I also have many MANY fond video gaming memories with so many different people all over the world as well.

Above in the picture, Lesara with her brother, Kalshen (yes, from their future in Silent Rain).  Does anyone even miss Silent Rain?

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Pulled & Reviewed

22571458The newest edition to Becca J. Campbell’s Flawed series is out.  Yay!  I won a copy for review and here it is!  There are some potential spoilers, I suppose, but I tried keeping it vague.  If you’ve not yet read the series, only book one and this short story are out now.  You can check out book one by clicking on its title:  Empath.

Without further ado…

Pulled * * * * (4/5 stars)

Juniper is an eight-year-old foster kid with a very inconvenient ability.  You see, she randomly teleports to others like her, the flawed and uniquely gifted.  It rarely ends well and eventually leads to yet another foster family tired of dealing with a runaway.

I think I liked this short story much more than the first novel in the series, Empath (which I also liked). Considering it’s a short story, there’s not much to say, other than I wish it were novel-length. I definitely would have enjoyed a Juniper-centric novel in the series. I imagine, however, that the bulk of her story fits in with others later in the series.

This probably isn’t great as a stand alone. While you can read and understand it without the novels, there are a few loose ends hanging around after the final scene. Will the series ever tell us if Juniper was right about the creepy driver? What about the hitch-hiker? What does Ronen do at the end? What is Asher’s flaw? I’m sure these were left unanswered on purpose and will be answered in further novels in the series. However, they’re largely the reason I subtracted a star.

In other words, my only complaint was that I wanted more story by the end!

Also, when it comes to ebooks, I usually notice at least one typo. If there were any grammar or spelling errors in this short story, they failed to throw me out of the story enough to notice.

If you’re curious about Pulled, click on the book cover above and place your order!

Finally, I did receive a free copy for my honest review on amazon and good reads.  I would have purchased the short story anyway and am pleased I could award it 4 stars (I don’t leave dishonest reviews, nor reviews < 3 stars).

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Breaking Monotony

DragonflymuseMemory Monday
Breaking Monotony

Back in high school, my junior year (I think) I sat through a common sort of boredom:  Reading an uninteresting play with assigned read-aloud parts.  We took our turns in the silent agreement of force, reading without inflection.  I read for a minor character, the mother of a mentally challenged son, chased by police with guns (unless memory fails me).

While following along for my few lines, slogging through a boring play with equally boring monotone, I began questioning our silent agreement.  So, the play is boring, we have no choice.  Who started this agreement?  Why?  Because enthusiasm, even for something bad, isn’t cool.

I follow enough along now for keeping tabs, 7 paragraphs of dialogue from my next line.  My heart flutters nervous at the new thoughts, tapping the breaks.  Wait a minute, brain, what if they make fun?  But I’m so bored!

Six paragraphs away.

No, stop, honor the agreement, be cool.  No, I’m bored.  You’re not even a good actress.  They’ll make fun of you.  So, I’ll make it over-the-top on purpose.  This play doesn’t deserve serious acting anyway.  Oh god, you’re going to do this, aren’t you?  I’m pretty sure, and it’s down south, I can manage a cheesy Southern accent for a cheesy line.  I can’t handle another line in monotone.

Four paragraphs.

I recall noting class clowns in my past.  A few earned laughs purely for breaking the boredom.

Three paragraphs.

It’s a drama.  A sucky drama.

Two lines.

Go for the comedy.  Deep breath, heart panicking.

And I completely forget my line, sorry!  Hah!  All I know is my character was yelling at the sheriff, read by Ricky, and I did it with an over-dramatic Southern delivery.  People near me jumped awake and stared.

Ricky was great, he read his lines very reactionary.  “I know!  I know!”  The way you might respond when somebody suddenly yells a joke at you.  The giggles escaped all over.  I remember the dialogue was fond of every character having a doubled phrase habit during “emotional” scenes.

I read a few more bursts of lines the same way and nearly everyone picked up the practice around me.  I remember someone asking me why I did it, someone without lines, while wearing a judgemental look for breaking the monotony agreement.

I shrugged.  “I was bored.  Weren’t you bored?”  She never responded.

Though I didn’t like the teachers making us stand up front and read our lines from that point forward (the spontaneous shock-wave of willing and fun participation excited them, so I forgive that decision), days of monotony for everyone became entertaining fun for at least half the class.  I received a best supporting actress award markered on a styrofoam cup, hah!  I won the styrofoam awards for best supporting actress!

A few days ago, while working on freewrites outside, I reflected on life and meditation.  The breeze kept forcing my journal back.  After pushing back several times, I let it turn the pages and read where it landed.  This story.  Insight flashed across unconnected neurons.

I frequently work with what I must, making the best of it.  However, not actively as a life philosophy.  Never as vibrant as I attacked monotonous reading that day.  I realized just how readily we accept monotony in our lives, living by some silent agreement.  If we must, we do so grudgingly and with as much detachment as possible.  Afraid others will perceive us as any number of negative things, we hand in our colours and pick up the monotony uniform.

If I just finish this last chore, I can finally work on what I want.  Yet, often, after chores are complete, we lack energy for our joys.  We attempt conserving further energy, continuing in a cycle of bleeding vibrancy down the sewer of monotony.

Now, don’t get me wrong, doing the dishes still sucks.  However, eventually, the dishes call.  No really, do them, unless you like free housing for the local insect community and their fungi friends.  Why let such necessities steal as much joy as possible then?  I’ve made a renewed commitment for mindfulness when dragging my feet.  If I notice monotony, I shoot it down with brainstormed ideas on coloring all over it.

When I do dishes, I exercise and/or sing.  If I feel more quiet I mentally work on a project of some sort, play a game in my brain.

In practice with my primary goal (writing), I often dragged my feet on practice until recently.  My head overflows with story ideas, pulling me in a hundred different directions from several different characters and worlds.  When I sit down and write, I quickly grow frustrated over my lack of experience.  It’s like an epic movie in my head, severely restricted by a pitiful budget.

I let that entirely stop or extremely slow my pace for over a decade.  I began loving and missing regular storytelling, but dreading and avoiding writing.  With a little brainstorming and mental reframing, I’m taking back the fun.  In order to write stories, I must write.  In order to share them successfully, I must edit.

Rather than look at my stories as frustrating failures, I’ve been reframing the entire process.  I now watch them grow, fed by my attention and hard work, rather than crying about losing my baby and failing as a parent.  Sometimes my story needs grounding and lectures, but those beautiful moments shine back.  The whole process brings renewed energy back in.  I also feel more confident and alive.

I feel more free breaking monotony.  So you HAVE to do something?  Why just use the grey crayon?  There’s a whole box full of colour.  Personalize that PITA bar.  Obviously, I imagine some rows of monotony resist breaking and colour.  In this case, I brainstorm harder and reframe.  Some attempts prove more successful than others.  Just keep trying and resist the urge, when you MUST do or accept something, to flush the rest of that song down the toilet.  You give the negative more time and energy than it deserves that way.

Finally, I’m not advocating acceptance with a smile for atrocities, injustice, abuses, and more.  I’m advocating a reframe and positive channeling for when no other option exists (or at least no viable option).  If you can’t do anything about it, break the monotony and make the best of it, even if just in little ways.  Editing nightmares?  I don’t know, pretend alien space invaders infiltrated your story and the only way to save planet earth is by identifying and shooting them down.  You can even make the little Pew!  Pew! as you delete words, go on.

So someone gives you a funny look, heck, maybe they’ll laugh, their day brightened.  Maybe they’ll ask why you’re crazy, then join in when they see the light.  Or maybe they’ll stay in gray monotony and give you side-eye.  If you’re not hurting someone (other than imaginary space invaders), why sign the monotony contract?

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What do you think?  Any recurring monotony in your life looking for a broken face?  I’ll brainstorm with you!  Got stories to share about when you made the best of a monotonous, or downright awful situation?  Any other feedback?  Share in comments!

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Dream of Two Butterflies

b_by_starrceline-d5soy0gIn my dream, I climbed into the back seat when I saw movement.  Two newly emerging monarch butterflies from cocoons nestled around the edges of the back window.  I remember nearly forgetting about the monarch caterpillar my son and I found so long ago at the park one day (which never really happened in waking life either).  One of these must be that same caterpillar.

I reached out and began helping the one still stuck in the cocoon when I saw a spider on the back window inches from my face.  I almost left it, until I realized this particular spider may potentially harm the butterflies.  I grabbed a CD case and squished it.  I cupped both butterflies, flapping in my hands with gentle flutters and brought them in my home.

This was my home in the dream only, the first two rooms empty (I never saw the other rooms, but I knew they were filled and lived in).  I only just moved in.  I let them loose and started calling for my son.  That was when I noticed the first room was actually an indoor porch in desperate need of cleaning.  There was an obstacle course of broken furniture and old junk, nothing in particular that stood out except for all the spider webs that might snag my butterflies.

However, none of these webs worried me.  It wasn’t that I knew they couldn’t catch my butterflies.  It was more like they were natural and presented no danger to them; as though they were butterfly beds instead.  I went through the open door into the first room of my home.  It needed cleaning as well, but it was empty and only dimly lit.  It only needed a good sweep and mop job.  There were a few dried leaves on the floor.

The most notable and worrisome feature were two large, black bumblebees.  They flew around each other in circles and almost looked more like gigantic flies instead.  I normally like bumblebees, but these two were intruders and I believed they posed a danger, if not by stinging, I knew they might feed on, or at least slam into and damage my butterflies.

Interesting enough, while I chased the bees around with the first object I could find (it was slow and awkward, too much airflow resistance), my cat Mew came in the front room briefly.  He’s our orange kitty.  Usually Yin might feature in my more symbolic dreams (she’s my black cat, Mew is technically my husband’s).  I briefly pictured him posing a danger to the butterflies and just as quickly dismissed it.  He ignored the one now flying into the room completely.

He tried helping with the bees though when they zoomed closer to the ground.  That’s when I found our fly swatter and upgraded my weapon.  My front room butterfly was at least safe as long as I kept the beeflies distracted.  I knew the one still on the front porch was perfectly safe, despite the mess out there.

I woke just as I smacked one beefly in midair.  The dream held background noise, but none of it felt important.

Upon waking, I researched the symbols that stood out.  My first hit for Monarch Butterflies was this interesting post:  Butterfly Dreams — The Monarch.  Very interesting.  It reminds me, yesterday was horrible…to start with.

I went to bed Saturday and laid there, praying to the divine force I’ve felt in many areas throughout my life from Christian churches growing up, to a friend’s Wiccan prayer circle to mother Earth for planetary healing, to simply being in the woods and admiring the miracle and inclusive feeling of life and nature.  I’m agnostic for a reason.

I once, in recent years, finally prayed for something personal.  So many people suffer around the world, far more than I ever have.  After a certain age, I never prayed for personal things, only other people.  On that day though, I felt lost on my life path, wondering if I truly wasted my time with this writing thing.  I spent several moment in thankfulness for what I have, and then simply asked for a little guidance.  You know me,  I thought to this force.  I’m hard-headed about my own worth and abilities.  Just, please, I don’t know, a sign, one even I can’t deny.  Am I wasting my time with this writing thing?  Is my purpose elsewhere?

Almost immediately after, I found my very first super-praising, hard-core fan online, gushing over my writing.  Not a relative I could dismiss as loving it because it came from me.  A new member of my writing group at the time.  A stranger.  I was always the cheerleader, I never really had one of my own before.  She goes by Ash on the internet, by the way.  I value my writing buddies and mentors, my supportive family members, and many others who have supported my writing and provided feedback and critiques.  Ash was the sign though, out of nowhere.

She currently studies somnology, she gets very busy during school.  As much as she cheerleads my work, she’s pretty amazing and inspiring as well.  My current, primary writing buddy, Kyrias/Katje, is also such a blessing.  The bit of writing I do is because missing her while I game drags me back into writing every time.

Anyway, I reached a similar point in my life Saturday.  I’ve been struggling with how little I’ve invested in my writing regardless of that moment over a year or two ago.  I hate disappointing my gaming friends, a few of which recently returned to the game that swallowed most of my free time since 2005.  I’ve been feeling the stronger pull toward writing for a while now.

My husband’s leg started acting up again.  He dislikes when I tell others, so I won’t say much more.  It just makes me wish we had enough to get him everything medical he needs for this, or at least the time off he needs for more thorough recovery every time his legs act up again.  I remembered Ash and how I felt recently about my writing.  You know I rarely contact you for me.  I honestly believe Ash was your last answer.  I should be writing.  You also know how indecisive I am.  What project might be more successful?  I’ve no idea what to work on, I just know I’m so thankful for the home life you’ve given me.  My husband and son are wonderful and they at least deserve better.  I’ll do the work, but maybe a hint on the right project when I wake up?

Careful what you ask for!  I woke up and found a recent friend on facebook changing her mind about a discussion we had.  Long story there short (especially since this is long enough), she posted an all-caps, (about) 12-line paragraph cursing out the type of person she kept misinterpreting me as.  I understand why that type of person makes her angry, she had a good reason.  BUT, I also knew she mislabeled me as that type, so I was currently the primary, unmentioned target of her all-caps, violently expressed insults.

I ended the friendship as calmly as I could, apologized, wished her a nice life, unfriended, then blocked her.  Then I cried.  A lot.  This isn’t the first time a friend connection went south and ended with flung insults (though it was the worst) of being a moron in some fashion.  I thought maybe I really was a moron.  Maybe all my ideas and thoughts were really just very bad and idiotic and my other friends were always too nice to say so.  Maybe they just bide their time until I slide back into cheerleader mode, the quicker to be rid of my “intelligent” thoughts and ideas.  Don’t stop reading because of the pity party!

Katje helped talk me out of this, making her a bit late to the farmer’s market errand she needed to run (thanks again, by the way!).  My husband also helped a LOT when he returned home after work.

Anyway, before that help, I googled “How do you know when it’s something wrong with you?”  I also thought Okay, what am I supposed to learn from this?  I should work on better phrasing?  The first google result was 10 Ways I Know There’s Nothing Wrong With You or Me.  LOL!  That’s a first!  Usually you hear about depressing search results when they differ a bit from what you typed.  I read this and thought, but it also applies to my former friend as well.

I walked around with very little energy.  I need to eat something.  It’s after 2pm.  Michael’s already eaten twice.  I didn’t want any of our food (too processed) and the grapes tasted weird.  I put tater tots in the oven.  Still too processed, but at least something.  I thought about laying down until the timer dinged.  I trudged back to my desk for a drink first and felt one of the most bizarre sensations ever.

First, I felt very nauseated, but it passed quickly.  Immediately following that, my posture straightened and my heart beat harder, just once.  I felt lighter, but not quite light-headed, as though my posture bent naturally before from a weight.  Now it straightened and my whole body felt lighter because nothing rested on my shoulders any more.  I no longer felt tired.  The most striking difference in feeling, however, was my upper chest and the bottom half of my neck.  It felt shielded by titanium, a difference that made its former state feel raw and far too open.

I swore so hard the bones there were not that strong before that I asked my son to come over so I could compare the general state.  Bewildering.  Oh, there’s a solid bone structure here, a sternum, was it always that strong?  Of course there’s a sternum.  Why does it feel like these bones are new?

It seemed as silly to my logical mind, but also still profound and new.  My posture was naturally so much straighter that it began hurting my back.  I also noticed that I felt skinny despite my excess weight; healthy, rather than hugely bloated.  My first thoughts…someone helped me shield something…or prayed for me, right at that exact moment.

Chakras stuck in my head though.  I researched them and found a few pages, one that suggested viewing each one as an open flower in meditation, then closing them to buds after.  They claimed that chakras left open served as a beacon for negative spirits and forces like moths to a flame.  I can’t find that one now.  I did, however, find this chart about closed and too-open chakras.

Last time I found an alternative, active sort of spiritual healing, the results took my breath away and pretty much healed my PTSD with repetition (Cord cutting).  I learned this from a fellow empath on facebook, Kris Bethea.  I believe I will post soon on that technique for those interested.  I also felt a build-up in energy.  Any time I sat down, my whole body felt twitchy with a need for movement.  I got up and decided on moving meditation.  Combination clear-my-head and exercise.

I called that list with colours back up and pictured each point, a flower unfurling open.  I expected more difficulty given the first site’s description.  Some were already opened in my imagination, others flew open as soon as I got there (like books bent backward in an open position on one page for too long–next time you open them, springs straight there).

My husband came home at that point.  All shields were down and he helped my heart with the remaining pain.  My mouth ran, quite a lot.  When I feel emotional, usually it closes off my ability at vocal communication.  I struggle with crying so hard I can barely speak.  Both were in sync at that point, heart pouring it through my throat and out my mouth.  After he helped me feel much MUCH better, Pounce (one of our cats) gave me my exercise cue by stepping on the game mat and starting a random song.

After exercise, I showered.  I pictured gunk flowing away from me and clearing up into positive at my feet.  I cut cords all around, swept them away, flung them over the horizon in each direction.  I pictured the negative threads losing power until dissipating and flying up into the air in the distance as fireworks of cleansed and renewed energy.  I added those visuals to my routine because I got it in my head that I didn’t want those threads attaching to other people in that direction.

That got Katy Perry’s Fireworks stuck in my head.  I sung it haha (hey, I like singing, normality is just a bunch of rules in the way of fun and acceptance, and I was alone anyway).   I’m playing it now just because.  My focus then returned to the chakra flowers.  I meditated on each one, fanning out the petals, picturing each dusted off.  Then I pictured them twisting closed into little coloured buds.  Then, for extra healing measure, I pictured a bubble of protection around each.  Red, orange, yellow proved difficult and dirty in my imagination, almost damaged and fragile, though large.  It responded to shielding the least and took a lot longer to see any kind of solid bubble around.

I reached green, at the heart, and cried at how large it was, how pretty and vibrant despite the day.  Green is my favourite colour.  Maybe for this reason?  My favourite part of people?  She closed into a bud far easier than I expected after yellow and the extra bubble shield was very comforting.

Blue.  Green’s been choking you off a while now, scared you’ll hurt someone like today.  Scared family may reject your heart…what we’re doing now, the oneness you feel in so many places besides church.  Stronger than the church.  God, goddess, oneness, the divine’s true face.  The personal connection.  We are the temple because that light isn’t just out there, it literally is part of us.  We are part of it and each other.  Funny, I learned that in a pentecostal church, but they still talked like it was all separate anyway.  Blue closed in a gentle swirl, trusting my heart wouldn’t strangle it so much.  Bubble shield, no more vines from the heart around you.

Violet, right at the third eye.  When I got here, the flower looked different.  With closed eyes, I saw it as an after-image, like I’d been staring at a flower-shaped light.  It vibrated and pulsed up there.  Far more of a purple light than mental imagery, more 2D, flat, just like an after-light in your vision.  I had no real idea.  I stared in at it.  How do I furl that closed?  It pulsed larger, then smaller, a bud.  I shielded it.

I reached the crown.  Okay, a white light on top of my head.  So a large white…flower?  I trailed off in my mind too because, as I spoke it and started imagining it, I found that unnecessary.  There it was.  Like a large white and glowing waterlily with my scalp as the lilypad.  I shook from the power and sobbed in the shower.  Hard.  Not a small flower like the others.  This one was as large as my head and beautiful.  The most gorgeous thing I’ve ever imagined, let alone seen.  We all have one of these up here?  My lip is quivering as I write this now.  I cried far stronger spiritual release tears at that moment than I ever have before.  Yes, even in church when I was Christian, for those who think I’ve finally stepped fully on Satan’s turf.

God, however you envision that force, whatever gender, personified, or not….  As a Christian, I was always taught how ugly and unworthy we all were…and yet, somehow, we’re special to God.  It wasn’t until I saw that flower that I realized how wrong that first part is.  We’re part of the garden.  The force that ties us all together is what we sense as our higher power.  Our petals might get dirty, damaged, and wilted, maybe even become weed-like to other flowers within ourselves or to others’.  However, we’re still a special part in the garden, each of us.  The divine force works through us using these spiritual centers and our more corporeal existence.

One problem I’ve had with the God I was taught growing up…so many make horrible excuses for all the bad things in life that happen.  Excuses like:  God cleansed them away, anyone who experiences bad things deserved them, they’re Godless heathens, they didn’t pray hard enough, or pray right, or believe enough.  I can’t reconcile that.  I’ve felt pain and hardship.  I can’t eplain it away like that, not even if it was just a test, or a hardship to help me pull others through the same experience…why not just stop the hardships?  Why test us then send us to eternal torment when we fail?  Isn’t life hard enough?  Isn’t the truth confusing and hidden enough already?

Instead, this divine spirit I feel connecting us all…we’re part of its actions.

Suffering and evil exist because not enough of us on the physical ground of this garden prevent it, for whatever reasons.  We’re one of the best physical tools for the corporeal world.  Each with our own purpose.  Some tools appear more useful than others, but only because their job is more obvious, or more crucial at a certain moment in time.

My job is storing telling and communicating, possibly even healing one day.  Not nearly as heroic as some directly on a spiritual battlefield of negative vs. positive forces, helping other crown-flowers find the sunlight.  However, I can’t imagine life without great storytellers and artists either.  I think such a life lacks inspiration.  We’re the light rain.  The rain doesn’t plow, sow, fertilize, transplant, fight back pests, or a large portion of other things keeping the garden healthy.  It provides a cool drink of life to the thirsty.  I hope my contributions are as worthy as storytellers before and after.

After I finished being awestruck, I let my crown-flower furl closed with great reluctance.  I remembered the beacon for negativity moths though.  My personal buds in the garden are still too inexperienced.  I pictured a protective bubble around the large white bud, then I finished my shower (the only guilty part–how much water I wasted!  Yikes!).  Somehow, I know I won’t need that much water again.  I don’t consider it a waste…more like an impromptu baptism of sorts…I still felt badly enough for a silent apology.

Then, at a decent time last night, I went to bed.  I woke with the monarch dream in my head this morning.

I also just wrote way more than intended.  I haven’t even finished looking at my dream and the meanings.  Interesting the first monarch butterfly meanings should mention the orange, sacral chakra.  Two butterflies for the 2nd chakra.  To quote Siannaphey’s linked post above:  The sacral’s main chakra meanings relate to the feeling of emotions (self-confidence, one’s power), sensuality, security, commitment and honour in relationships and clairsentience or clear feeling.”

I’ve been sorely lacking in self-confidence.  I pull in from the fear it causes way more often than I should.  I distract myself from writing with video games instead during my free time.  I frequently feel powerless, especially recently with my perpetually jobless state and my husband’s chronic leg condition flaring up again.

I looked up the number two and its meaning.  A bit for any family still reading this…just because non-western culture came up with something, doesn’t mean it’s not of the force we call God.  We’re not the chosen people, nor are we the only gentiles to feel a connection to this and name it from our own personal understanding.  Aside from that, keep Joseph the dreamer in mind.

I’m about to touch on numerology, it’s the oldest meaning-by-numbers system around that I know of.  The definition of 2 from numerology.com also made me cry, more tears of relieved truth, like in the shower.  It lost me a bit with Hera and somewhat with the end where the negative was only partially applicable to my past self (I’m generally not vindictive or vengeful.

When you lose my loyalty or betray my trust, I’m just done and I turn my back completely, rather than waste more energy in your direction).  Perhaps the black bee-fly things were fears or people I’ve encountered that I fear may not let me turn away and harbor a spirit of vindictive vengeance toward me?

Or maybe I am and that’s still buried so deep I only see it with my past self, regarding the man who molested me.  Yeah…until recently I actively wished his bad karma on him soon.  Now…I hope he improves as a person for the benefit for others.   I don’t actively hope he has a miserable life whenever I think of him…but I don’t hope his life is good either.  Also, I think of him far less now.

Either way, it was the beginning half-coupled with the butterflies that resonated.  I do a LOT of bending.  I also feel constantly under-estimated, especially by my inner critic.  She’s frequently a loud-mouthed bitch too, especially if she has help from other people.

Bumblebees, apparently, may represent hidden dangers.  They were really just the size of bumblebees though.  They were all black and flew and buzzed around each other more like giant flies.  Flies, according to a random dream journal (that I just realized was the 2nd google result) represent:  Nuisance, neglect, filth, or feelings of being unclean. Flitting from one place or activity to another.”

These two definitely represent negative in me more than the number two’s negatives.  Hopefully not “nuisance” so much, but I’ve definitely been feeling unworthy and neglecting life’s directional pull.  When it comes to thinking of writing, I most definitely flit around all over the board from one activity to another, unsure on which one I should land and focus.  When I smacked one fly before waking, I was somehow up in the air, like I was floating and flying around as well, now that I think on it.

I got up on a ladder at the edge of the room and then just followed the flies around swatting at them in the upper half of the room, all over it, without a ladder, but also without a sense I was doing something unusual.  I believe I swatted the one fly successfully out of the air near the middle of the room.  I never bothered looking up “room” because I already felt sure this was my inner home of some sort, whether in general, or my creativity, my “work” room or my “spirit” room…maybe both.   Given what I said about garden tasks, probably both.

The porch out front is messy.  Spiders, in particular, their webs, represent creativity (spinning a tale).  My butterflies and creativity need to get along, so it makes perfect sense I hold no concern if the butterfly out there should land in a web.  I need it to find one of those webs and focus on it.  The mess is because of how cluttered and dusty and rusty my field of creative ideas is.  As they exist now, many are just in pieces, in boxes, broken furniture I can’t sit on, many collect dust.  The webs might be the new ideas I planted among all the old clutter.  That certainly explains why they were thick and white in random spots of things covered in grey dust.

At 33, I suppose you could say I am approaching mid-life.  I’m near the center of the room and I just found the right tool and smacked down the fly of neglect and unworthiness.  Now I just need to smack down the fly of focus.  I woke up.  Now I need but choose the idea I focus on before I swat that fly down as well.

Hah!  Maybe this means all my current ideas are a worthy pursuit!  Or maybe I’m tying this way too much into writing and not enough on healing to help my family’s financial situation?  Maybe the clue lies elsewhere in a dream detail?  I squashed the spider (a perceived threat, rather than creativity, I think) with an undetailed music CD (I love singing…or maybe it’s an idea tied with music…or my blog itself!)…cat, Mew in particular.  I believe it was Mew, our only orange cat, for the same reason it was orange Monarch butterflies–the 2nd chakra.  The same dream dictionary says cat:  Independent, having strong ideas about how things should be, lithe and adaptable, mysterious”

A main character that possesses these qualities?  An idea that expresses how I think things should be?  My most recent new idea, Fairy Tale Shuffle comes to mind.  Everyone has a story (the leading theme).  That resonates.  Orange is:  “Bold, outgoing, assertive, invigorated and/or Autumn, or the “winding down” of a phase or cycle”  Hm…the main character is bold, outgoing, assertive, and invigorated.

But that last fly could represent the need to smack down one idea as well as the idea smacked down.  Flitting from one place to another could represent my world-reality-portal-hopping idea, Order of Chaos.

A more obvious, meta-indicator is the large update the dream just inspired…writing something new that incorporates these ideas.  Maybe some day…but I think I’m feeling a pull more toward recent ideas.  Maybe a few ideas and not just one.  Fairy Tale Shuffle keeps popping in my head.  Then again…I chased those flies all over that room.  If the middle represents the middle of my life, then that idea was all over the edges as well.  THAT idea would be Order of Chaos, my oldest idea, recently rejuvenated.

Pretty handy I’ve been considering putting the main character from Fairy Tale Shuffle into my private Storium game “Into Chaos” based on the portal system from Order of Chaos.  Got it dream, thanks for the message and direction.  Better get started…right after I cook dinner, yikes, this post took nearly six hours!

PS Not saying I’m done with video games.  I played Pokémon a little this morning as I ruminated on my dream.  I’ve got my personal quest now.  Gotta raise my cooking skill, get my food buff, then aim for this expansion’s level cap.  I think I at least hit the first expansion’s cap yesterday.  I just got a little lost today by all the newly downloaded content.

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I’d love to hear any thoughts or comments you had while reading this.  Ever experience something similar?  Have questions?  Input?  Need more input!  Johnny 5 is alive!  Wait…wrong movie.  Talk at me in comments!

Butterfly icon at the beginning of this post made and copyrighted by Starrceline.  Please credit her if you use it.  Thanks, Starrceline, so pretty!

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Silent Rain 11: Ren

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Episode 11:  Ren

By the time Lesara finished wading through tasks and arrangements needing her attention, she found the human boy already washed and dressed in a robe large enough it served as a blanket.  He looked far paler, though human skin tones already seemed paler and more orange than any kaldorei.

She sat on the edge of the cot and placed the back of her hand to his forehead.  Still burning hot.  The boy mumbled something and scrunched up his face.  Chaos laced his thoughts.  Fever dreams; just like a sick saber cat.  Lesara smoothed his hair and closed her eyes, thinking on the gentle warmth of Elune’s light emanating from her finger tips.  She let the warmth cool a little at a time, using her hands like the wet cloth from Padraig’s memories to bring down the temperature.

Once the boy’s forehead felt cooler, Lesara focused on channeling the warmth of Elune throughout, gentle and subtle, so as not to raise his temperature again.  She pictured the light making him strong and healthy again, helping his body eradicate infection.  When she opened her eyes, she saw more colour in the boy’s cheeks and he slept more sound.  His dreams relaxed in the form of a bizarre world of metal creations, but he seemed thrilled by them.

The healing sessions took a full week before the boy was awake for any significant length of time and speaking in more than confused rambles.

After another long meeting discussing the war in Hyjal and refugee situation in her home, Lesara walked into her chamber and found the boy sitting up with her aunt’s book open in his lap.  He frowned at the elvish text, held firm with one hand in the cradle of his lap, while the other picked idly at his blanket robes.

She felt the curiosity in his mind, along with a simple appreciation for the script, rather than understanding the contents.  Clearing her throat, Lesara approached the cot-side with a gentle smile.  “You’re finally awake, I see.”  She linked their minds with the meaning of her words.

Ren put a small hand to his forehead and furrowed his brow.  “Yer doin’ that?”

Smiling wider, Lesara sat at the foot of his cot and nodded.  “I’ve been practicing with your friends, Jon and Padraig.  They’re downstairs.”  In only a week’s time, the two human men pitched in whenever they could.  With the near-constant mind-linking for translation purposes, they quickly proved their guards a wasted resource.   They now counted as additional refugees, rather than prisoners.

Ren shook his head.  “I was out that long?”  He closed the book and Lesara felt a mental pressure for more memories of the past week’s events along with a rush of jumbled questions.  The strength of that pressure from this boy surprised her, as though the mental connections were far more familiar for him, as opposed to the human men he arrived with.  Flashes of memory from recent events, up to the vine attack and her near-death encounter with Elune, flowed in the wrong direction, yanked away before Lesara managed to slam the mental door with a gasp.

They both looked at each other with eyes widened by the shared fear.  Recovering her composure first, Lesara looked away, sat up straighter, and assumed her peaceful mask.  “Are you alright, Ren?”

The boy nodded slowly, too slowly.  Shock.

Lesara placed a hand on his knee, calling on Elune’s gentle warmth.  The sensation washed over the boy and he relaxed, blinking several times.  “What was that?”  He swallowed hard and found Lesara’s eyes again.

“Unexpected.  I’m sorry.”  She smiled then.  “You must have a natural gift.”  She patted his knee before clasping both hands in her lap.

“You died!”  Horror and amazement warred in his voice.  “And those things!  Who was that lady?”  She heard a muted version of a dozen more questions from his thoughts.

“My people are immortal.”  Lesara squirmed a bit.  “It’s difficult for us to stay dead if a priestess is close enough for healing…unless the dying kaldorei lets go…on purpose.”  Silence stretched between them while Lesara wondered where to start with the other questions.

She looked over at Ren, who was staring back as though viewing his first sunrise over the ocean.  Just on the surface of thought, Lesara viewed flashes of a lonely life, and an oft-disappointed, but hopeful Ren.  A boy pretending Padraig could be his father, or at least a big brother.

He fancied a vague image of the wife Padraig mentioned, Thieren, as his own mother.  She starred in fantasies of Ren wearing a ridiculously poofy pink robe and longer, braided hair with his faceless mother, laughing and sharing a group hug with Padraig, sharing a large meal, or playing with each other’s hair.  He seemed pleased and embarrassed by this fancy.

The memories moved backward, wondering how his parents died, why people died.  Why did they leave?  Did they leave?  They probably died.  The habitual loneliness felt like a hollow space in the pit of Ren’s stomach.  He lived with other children before, but they ignored him.  Ren was strange.  Not at all like other little girls.

Lesara resisted a strong impulse to hug the poor girl and comfort her.  She knew lonely too well.  “Not a boy after all…”  The response sounded lame after the flood of memories.

Ren nibbled at her bottom lip and shook her head, then looked up in slight panic.  “Don’t tell, though!  Please?”  A new flash of memories, other young girls being grabbed by shadowy figures and carried off into a dark sense of foreboding mixed with a woman’s voice chiding.  Such things aren’t safe for little girls.  Multiple memories of various boys allowed on a week of adventure with approved heroes left her behind, feeling bitter and angry.

“You needn’t worry about that now.  It appears your people consider gender backwards.”  Lesara sent back brief memories of her brother and father receiving similar limitations.

Ren giggled.  “I think I’ll like it here.”  She bounced over and threw her arms around Lesara.

A surge of warmth and energy, along with easy, almost desperate affection came from Ren and Lesara found the laughter infectious.  She grinned and hugged the girl back, enjoying her as thoroughly as she might an innocent saber kitten.  Now, if only her mother would let her keep Ren.  She began rehearsing special pleas in her head and fought dread at her mother’s likely responses.

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Episode 11:  Ren

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Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones, and Words You Can’t Take Back

Dragonflymuse

The screaming matches between my sister and I were infamous with cousins that ever paid witness.  When she was old enough, she was in charge and babysat my brother and I often while our mother worked.

She wasn’t my mother, so naturally, I wasn’t so cooperative.  In my defense, she often hounded me when we disagreed, rather than dropping it, and sometimes about little inconsequentials.  In her defense, I could be a really spoiled brat.

Today’s memory centers on one particular fight.  The fight that taught me insults, even ones hurled in the name of “just being siblings” are never an answer.  I was in middle school at the time (my sister is 5 years older), and my sister just experienced a severe allergic reaction that left her face disfigured (temporarily).  Edit:  Apparently I was mistaken, it was poison ivy…which I suppose is still an allergic reaction.

I knew she was very sensitive about how badly the itchy bumps warped her features and went one insult too far.  During a fight, I yelled something about her being an ugly monster who looked like a troll doll, then I watched the direct, crumpling effect that had on her expression.  A crushed look made painfully clear despite the lumpy reaction that at some point swelled one or both eyes shut (I’m fuzzy on the other details).  She cried.  I felt like the absolute worst human being on the planet.

It was the last time I used insults during heated arguments with anyone, especially people I care about.  Also, I don’t allow kids to insult each other during arguments around me either.  Kids tend to listen to me, a few tested my resolve, but stopped (in my presence) after a brief lecture/lesson that includes this story.  The people we care about in life are precious.  Even when we wanna yell with frustration about what they do (or don’t), the world is cruel enough, such words should come last from those close to you.

Now I have the philosophy, if you wouldn’t allow someone else to talk about your loved one like that, why would you turn around and do it?  I’m excepting playful insults that don’t touch nerves.  I still call people silly things when messing around.  I’m specifically talking about the ad hominem logical fallacy (the “I win the argument because you suck, you’re stupid, and your mom is ugly” fallacy).

It might be better if we were as quick with compliments, but we never really learned that until after we grew up.  Some never learn it.  For me, I already tore someone I care about down once.  Seeing the immediate effect still hurts my heart; words from my mouth.

I want genuine compliments and positive emotions that uplift others to come from my mouth far more often than any criticism or complaint, especially when it regards those close to me.  There are enough people in the world to tear them down.  Let it be my place and role to help build them up.

Not that I never get in arguments now and fart rainbows in my sleep.  There are exceptions to this.  If someone asks me for an honest critique of their work, they should prepare for just that.  If I’ve had it with a particular behavior, I’ll likely contact the offender about it and express myself.  If you’ve bullied someone or stomped all over someone I care about, don’t ever expect a compliment out of me.  If you’ve ever broken my trust, don’t expect to get it back, no matter how calm I might act around you.  Heck, I’ve still engaged my sister in shouting matches since that time.  Not many, though none while we were living in separate buildings.  This post isn’t about or for those situations and people.

It’s about telling my sister I’m sorry, confessing one of my worst memories, and maybe nudging others toward more mindful and encouraging discourse with one another.  Just because we don’t always agree, or disagree often, doesn’t mean I dislike or lack respect for you.

How about you, any confessions on words you wish you could take back?  Feel free to cleanse yourself in comments.

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Around the Harry Potter World

 

Dragonflymuse

In the Harry Potter series, JK Rowling created a fantastic wizarding world many around the world (myself included) enjoy.  We even read (and/or watched) sample tastes of the wizarding world in France and Norway/Sweden (with students from as far away as Bulgaria) in the fourth book/movie.

I imagine many, besides myself, contemplate what this same wizarding world looks like in other countries and cultures.  While the magic system, as written by Rowling remains largely the same (I think some cultures, for example, likely won’t be using Latin-based spells or even wands as a “channeling” focus for magic, but much of what can be done with these tools should remain the same), I think many cultural differences in form and practice would surface from one culture to another.

And arises the point of today’s post…a question for you, but first:  I remember daydreaming away how this or that culture might practice magic in the Harry Potter world.  I even started a fanfic in which I intended spotlighting some of the Japanese ways within the Harry Potter world, featuring a Japanese-British student.  I even spotlighted on a Japanese term to call the muggles (a firecracker dud…it’s in my notes somewhere). Then I felt presumptive and lost in research on Japan.

My fanfic since moved somewhere closer to home and ancestry (for myself) and now features an Irish-American girl (Emily) whose family moves back to Ireland just before receiving her Hogwarts letter.  However, I still possess this silly desire for fleshing out more of Rowling’s world in fanfic style.

In this case, I plan on fleshing out a bit more of the Irish sidhe (fae) in the Harry Potter world.  Emily’s life is a lot more heavily tied to the sidhe world than she realizes.  I know the fae world has been done and redone ad infinitum, but I hope I’m bringing a fresher turn.  Plus, the fae world simply enchants me, personally can’t get enough.

Emily will make close friends with a girl from the very large continent of Africa.  More research, I know.  I intend on looking closely at the plethora of different cultures within Africa before lighting on one that easily writes itself into Rowling’s world (and my fanfic within it) and I can maybe spotlight it at some point.  This friend will be from an African wizarding family, so one of the African wizarding worlds will play a role the way Hermione and Ron’s upbringings played a role.  As you can see, “this friend” is nameless so far, and probably will remain so until I decide exactly where from Africa she’s from.  I have her personality down and how she fits in the friendship.  She’ll be the ambitious one that keeps the trio going and makes Emily’s life a lot more active.

Emily’s other friend is 100% for my son, a boy named Michael who grew up on the heroic tales of Harry Potter and wants nothing more than hearing “Gryffindor!” from the sorting hat, just like said hero and his friends…but ends up in Hufflepuff.  I know the sorting hat takes your decision into account, so Michael will be a hat stall.

In that is a cute memory as well.  When I told my son about my plans for his character within the story, including the above statement nearly verbatim, I watched his face fall, much like I imagined the Michael in my fanfic when the sorting hat places him in Hufflepuff.  He asked why, trying very hard to hide his disappointment.  I explained about what I read from Rowling on the differences between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, and how each displays bravery.

Cliff notes:  Gryffindors often display bravery for the sake of bravery and are a bit prone to showing off.   Hufflepuff bravery stems from loyalty.  She also mentioned something about how many Gryffindors were in the final battle for Hogwarts because it was brave and backing out, cowardice.  However, probably all Hufflepuffs were in the battle because it was their school, and in many cases, their friends as well, being threatened, and they were standing up against something wrong out of loyalty.

I said, “Now, I could be wrong, but I think a great deal of your bravery comes from loyalty first; standing up for others, especially your friends and family, or standing up for things you believe are right.  The Michael in my story will eventually learn the same thing and be glad the sorting hat ignored his hero-worship.”

I saw pride beaming on his face at this point and felt tickled that I accurately predicted each stage of his character’s emotion regarding house placement.  I told him, if it really mattered that much to him though, I’d put him in Gryffindor anyway.

He told me, “I like that a lot.  Don’t change a thing.”

If you’re curious, another difference from my fanfic to the original, obviously now, is it happens after Harry Potter’s schooldays.  Where the original story follows 3 Gryffindors, mine will follow three friends from different houses, none of which are Gryffindor.  Since Slytherin house still exists (otherwise Harry wouldn’t feel the need to calm his son’s worries about being placed in it), in my fanfic, I want to address the good and strengths in Slytherin as well.  I don’t know, I feel it’s passed due for a positive face and reminder that an entire group of children don’t really deserve the “evil comes from here” classification.

Anyway, to the question!  I’m curious, how do you envision the wizarding world of Harry Potter from your various homes and cultures?  How do you envision it for the cultures of your ancestors, or simply a culture you love studying or married into?

I’m thinking crystals and new age, with a bit of wicca is the easy answer for the United States.  However, I’m gonna turn it a bit on its head and amuse myself by thinking the US wizarding world stylizes themselves as secret super heroes.  Not parading around saving people while in costume, but the whole super hero and villain thing regarding helping or taking advantage of normal humans while keeping an international wizarding statute of secrecy.  They also probably go home from the wizarding school every day over here, rather than a wizarding boarding school.

An international wizarding satute of secrecy is pretty important, I think, otherwise one country/area/culture exposing magic results in some worldwide exposure, toppling Rowling’s cannon.  I’ve no wish to topple the cannon.

I’m curious about all kinds of ideas and a conversation on what all my readers think Rowling’s wizarding world would be (how is it the same, how is it different) in other places?  Comment away!  If you write your own blog post on the idea, please, by all means, link us there in comments.

Let’s talk about what the Harry Potter world might be like around the world.

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