My Values

In my work, the word values is thrown around a lot. Everyone has them, and they define what things are important to us. Through my education and reflections, personal and professional, I’ve spent a long time thinking about my values but not really being able to figure out what they were. I had a rough idea about what was important to me but I could never really define or understand in beyond a vague sense.

And then one of my mentors gave me a list of values and the challenge of picking just a handful of ones that were important to me. I found it much easier to go down a list and tick ones which resonated with me rather than trying to figure them out for myself, I ended up ticking 97 out of the 400 listed (with a few that I’d added). Of those I picked twelve which were very important to me, and from those 12 I selected my top three. My key values are:

  • Courage
  • Fitness
  • Frugality
  • Gentleness
  • Honesty
  • Intelligence
  • Introspection
  • Order
  • Sexuality

My top three are:

  • Discipline
  • Helpfulness
  • Solitude

 

What do you think? Sounds like me, or not at all?

It’s an exercise I really valued (doubtless the introspective side of myself), and I learned a lot about Beth who did it too. If you’d like to give it a go, we used this list, but there are plenty of others on the interwebs.

http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2004/11/list-of-values/

Reflections on 2016

2016 has been a bad big year for me. (That was a genuine typo, or perhaps a Freudian slip. I’m very tired.) Lots of people (myself included) have complained about 2016 as the year of Trump and Celebrity Deaths. And lots of people have urged these not to become the theme of the year: to choose to see love instead of fear, hope instead of despair. Lots of things have happened in 2016, and for me personally, and in many significant ways it’s been the most eventful year of my life.

Peppermint (The Muffinthief) Silvermane had just come into our lives, and I learned what it meant to be a responsible pet owner for the first time ever. I mean, I knew all the theory, I’d just never had enough responsibility to care for the welfare of another sentient being (apart from poor Lyota). It was a great challenge for me not to despair when she toileted all over Beth’s favourite rug and our bags, causing my black belt to reek of cat pee. I had never been so hurt and so angry in all my life, (except perhaps for that time the Sorting Hat believed I might be in Slytherin), and I really did consider giving her away again. My relationship with Peppermint is a work in progress, and I’m coming to terms with her infrequent levels of affection and her dislike for being picked up. We’re living pretty harmoniously at the moment.

I got married, too! A very big event indeed. So much organising, and so much money! Still, apart from the blur of congratulations and the extensive photo shoot, I still remember how beautiful my bride looked and how wonderful it was to spend the day in the company of friends and family.

Our second trip to Japan was incredible, and brought many new and treasured memories. Among my happiest moments were putting on samurai armour and walking the streets of Miyajima, grilled dango at Mt Inari, Anita and all her antics, and most of all HogwartsVisiting South Korea for the first time was quite an adventure in itself, and I’m very grateful to have formed the memory of Hot 6 on a Starcrafty night.

While I hate to talk about work, I must admit it was a huge year for my career as well. I started working on a new mental health project in my organisation, one that had some very rocky moments. It was, and is, a stressful and rewarding part of my life. I’ve learned so much professionally and personally, the growth I’ve undergone in my practice this year is quite immeasurable. (We also won the Outstanding Team and Team of the Year awards!)

I’ve done three chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony) performances this year, mainly o-temae, and acquired enough implements to perform ryakubon (a portable tea ceremony using a platter) and chabako (a tea ceremony set to take on picnics). To my great sadness, my teacher has returned to Japan (though she will visit in the following months) and we shared a beautiful chaji (formal, themed tea ceremony including a kaiseki – a special meal and sake).

In my study of martial arts, I’ve undertaken some extra duties for the school as well. I clean and do extra training after every class, and it’s been wonderfully gratifying transforming the building week by week, item by item. As I said to another student recently, if there’s a piece of paper in the building I know what it says. It’s been especially rewarding for me to take the initiative and buy, clean and organise things for the benefit of the dojo, talk to the neighbouring shops to reestablish good relations, decorate for the holidays and create beautiful, open spaces so the building can breathe. I’ve been teaching more, too. I’ve probably taken about a dozen classes in the school, as well as teaching taiji to a group of Mum’s on a carer’s retreat.

Beth and I moved out of our small townhouse and into a unit with three bedrooms. Moving house is always a massive project, and it’s been fantastic having enough room to just spread out. I’ve got my study, a room of swords and computers, Beth’s got her den, full of herbs, books and crystals, we’ve both got a loungeroom that isn’t tucked under the stairs… It’s been a wonderful year for decluttering and refocussing.

 

Speaking of refocussing, I’ve actually got a few resolutions I’d like to make for the New Year. I’m going to try making them SMART (or at the very least, Specific and Measurable). They are:

  1. Watch The Appendices (Making of) The Lord of the Rings for half an hour every morning for a month, or until I’ve finished them all.
  2. Go for a run once a week for at least three months.
  3. Do weights once a week, preferably after every class at the Academy.
  4. Study Japanese for an hour at least once a fortnight. I’d love to say that I could do it every other day, but I don’t have a lot of desire to spend my extra energy on study outside of work and training!
  5. Be more mindful of food. This is a hard one to measure, but maybe

Welp, it’s looking like this year will be a good’un. Can’t believe the end of year holidays have passed by so quickly. Here’s hope, for a bright 2017.

10 000 views

10 000 views already! Seems like a milestone to come upon quite quickly. It feels like only a few months ago I posted my 1000th blog post (when in reality it’s been two and a half years). As I said in that post, at the height of my blog’s popularity I was averaging 200 views a month (between 5-14 a day), which frankly astounded me because I had never intended for anyone to read it except incidentally. Changing the name and url of my blog drastically cut down views because google still linked to my old url’s which no longer work, but since that change they’ve slowly built up to about 150 views a month.

And you know what my most popular post is? Outstandingly, by a huge margin, it’s my Katawa Shoujo: Shizune and Misha’s path. Why this one, and not any of the other excellent (better?) ones? No idea. Must be one of those situations where its popularity builds upon itself. I guess my blog is going to be known for my love of that game that made me a better person. (To be fair, I did put a lot of effort into those posts.)

To celebrate my 10 000th view, here’s the long-awaited sequel to my favourite search terms that people have typed into google to find their way here. (For the original lists, see here and here!)

  • “weald and orgasm videos”
  • “arrogant taekwondo instructors” and “arrogant oh do kwan”
  • “neaning of scalebtino” (This redirected someone to my blog on the Kinsey Scale. Probably not what they were looking for! XD)
  • “what does it mean when you dream calling xin?”
  • “how to weald the kung fu long staff” (I’m so touched someone thought that I would have any idea.)
  • “the tao, violence, logos 1”
  • “morrowind taoist monk build” (YES! Someone getting into Role Playing as much as I did!)
  • “skyrim astrid hot” (twice!)
  • “master moy lin shin drinking whiskey” (Oh dear XD)
  • katawa shoujo changed my life (me too buddy. Me too.)
  • wu-wei dao karate belts
  • female ninja iga ninja village
  • old tatami apartment tokyo
  • “what could you prefer in a life patnar looks , intelligence &weald”
  • “aunty dreem weald bathing photo”
  • weald class big vagiena
  • “weald.sex.big.ass” (How my blog turned into some kind of porn database is beyond me)

My 2003 Diary

2003 was one of the hardest years of my life, and I didn’t much relish the thought of going back through my diary to see what sort of person I was back then. I’m glad I did though – I learned a lot of important things about the way I used to think, and about the sorts of things that were important to me. It was also the year I grew up – for the most part, I put less faith in fantasy and accepted my grim reality. They were dark times.

***

Like the two years previous, I pretended my diary was a human girl I could share my secrets with as I searched desperately for safety, companionship and affection in the world. I was quite obsessed with romance and intimacy, until half a year of high school led me to abandon this childish fantasy and bleakly accept my diary as an unfeeling book to record my thoughts and feelings in.

***

My relationship with my brother was at its worst. There were constant violations of privacy, trust and safety. For instance, he set up bugs in my room so he could listen to what I was doing -they didn’t work very well, but I felt like I was under surveillance and had to be very careful not to bring his wrath down upon me. I felt the exuberant happiness of freedom whenever he was away, and discovered the safety of isolation. I lived in fear of him, and thought he was trying to ruin my life to the point where I committed suicide. However, at the end of the year I recognised that he wasn’t always terrible, I just tended to write in my diary when I was feeling awful about him. Things with my parents weren’t great either – there was much fighting and fear in the house.

***

I turned even more religious, if such a thing were possible. As well as striving to be an officer and a gentleman, I was obsessed with sin and salvation, and was convinced that God was punishing me for thinking about sex. Eventually I came to believe that challenge wasn’t punishment but God’s way of making me grow stronger.

***

I felt outcast and alone, and suicide was often on my mind. To get through these dark times, I believed if I could just will myself to do something then I could do it. Sheer willpower pulled me through the huge amount of pressure I put on myself, to literally “be perfect”.

***

I learned how to read and write ancient runes, largely to hide information from my brother. (Fun fact: runes pop up from time to time, like the Moon Runes in The Hobbit, and I greatly delight in being able to read them.)

***

OCPD was getting its hooks in. I got up regularly at 5am so that I had enough time to “get ready” for school. I was always playing catch-up, and desperately wished to avoid being held accountable for not meeting my ridiculously high standards.

***

In this turbulent sea of hurt and pain, the internet was my life raft that connected me to friends across the world. One of those friends was Ivy, a girl a year younger than me who I recognised as someone who would soon outgrow me in wisdom. I spent a lot of time in the early morning reading Zelda fanfics (including a certain Forest whose url I can recite to this day), playing games on newgrounds and eventually finding RuneScape. Truly, if not for the internet, I might have died that year.

***

After many months of this pain, Beki, a girl I met on MSN, helped me realise that I had to face my problems in real life, not fantasy. It was the start of everything changing.

On Being Second Best

Something that’s been on my mind lately has been the realisation that I’m not the best at a lot of things, and I probably never will be.

 

This bothered me immensely for many years – I thought that my value was being the best at something in a particular group of people, and then being the guy that did that thing. I’d “specialise” in groups at work so that I could run group activities, or I’d be the guy to turn to about hearing voices, or fixing computers, or having a caring and insightful ear. Imagine my horror to discover that there were other people at work who were better group facilitators, had worked with voices for longer, knew more about computers and were far wiser and more profound in their insight than I could ever imagine.

 

It made me feel redundant. I felt like a slightly less delicious cake at a banquet of exquisite desserts. Why would anyone choose to eat me when all around me were superior samples that I was only a poor shade of? Thinking along these lines made me seriously consider handing in my resignation and just find somewhere else where I was the best at stuff so that I could be valued.

 

It took me several weeks, maybe months, to recognise a few flaws in my thinking.

 

Firstly, I compared it to a game of Fire Emblem. Just because Ike or Titania are the strongest doesn’t mean that the other characters aren’t useful. Sometimes while the General is blocking off a choke point, you want lieutenants guarding the flank, healers in the back line, archers on the ridges and so forth. Yes it’s true, some units aren’t great at anything and they’re best left in the base or not brought at all. For the most part though, you can’t win a battle with just one soldier, no matter how strong they are; it’s the team with its many strengths that pulls through. And it doesn’t matter if some of these strengths overlap – sometimes you want three tanks in a squad, other times you only want cavalry. They’re all useful in different scenarios.

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Secondly I came up with this hypothetical: If I was the second-kindest person in the world, would it be worth being kind at all because I wasn’t the best at it? Of course it would be. Kindness is never wasted. Just because someone is better at something doesn’t mean you’re not worth it too. Like, just because someone donated $10 million, doesn’t mean a donation of $9 million won’t be sincerely valued.

 

Thirdly, I realised that even if you are the best at something at a given time in given company, it doesn’t make it your job to take over. If a friend is cooking me dinner and they’re not very good at cooking, it is absolutely not my responsibility to take the knife out of their hands and do it for them. It’s more important we all get along than we do something “the best”.

 

At the end of the day, each of us does our best to meet our needs in everything we do. It’s more important we celebrate what we do rather than compare ourselves to those around us.

EDIT: Or, to put it in the words of my teacher: “Do your best to be your best. Comparisons with others is meaningless.”

Rambling life update

It’s been a little while since I’ve just blogged because I felt like writing. I’ve been missing the part of myself that loves to write, and I haven’t been sure what to write about these past months. So I’m just going to write about everything. I’m aware that the internet is a place that takes things out of context, and I’m cautious of maybe some people taking stuff the wrong way, but I just need to get it out of me, free-association style.

 

Things at the dojo have been going well. I haven’t trained in much karate lately, though I’ve recently taken on the condition to be at all the taiji classes to help with instruction as needed (though I’ve only taught the odd class or two). I’ve also taken on the job of keeping the building clean and presentable, and it’s something I take great pride in. I seem to have boundless energy for the endless list of chores that come with polishing a place I love so much, and it’s strange for me to vacuum and sweep and scrub for hours whilst my own house slowly gets dustier and dustier. I love so much creating beautiful spaces, and handling each object in the dojo and finding a new place to put it that makes it shine.

 

I’ve been really into Non-Violent Communication lately. One of the side-effects of organising groups at work around a certain topic is that I research the shit out of it and put something together in a meaningful way to me. I’ve noticed in the past months that I’ve been much more aware of my feelings and needs, and that my confidence to talk about them and make requests to meet them has grown too. It’s been so wonderful for me that I’ve been trying to help those around me gain the same knowledge so they can practice it too, and I can’t help but wonder if people are getting sick of me riding around on my high horse telling them how important it is to verbalise needs.

 

I’ve been wondering about a lot of things lately, to be honest. My self-esteem seems to go up and down. One day I feel I’m one of the best human beings I’ve ever met, and that I’m growing into someone courageous, generous and loving. The next I feel like I’m upsetting everyone I meet and doing more harm than good.

 

Today is one of the latter days. I’m feeling worn down from all the things happening in my life lately. I performed chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony) last weekend, and the practice leading up to that took up a lot of potential rest time. Incidentally, it was a really beautiful day, and we served tea to so many people and brought smiles to their faces and joy to their hearts. Or so I hope. It was exhausting, though, giving so much of myself so that the day would go well (and so that I could help sensei as a way of thanking her for the beautiful wedding gift of a chakago). With that and all the extra time I’ve put into being at the dojo, either to exercise, teach or clean, I’m feeling so run down. Flags have started popping up to alert me to the fact I am on the path of burnout.

 

Two weeks from now I’ll be in a new house, and that’s so exciting and so daunting. I still have piles of journals here from my old place two years and two moves ago that I haven’t picked up, and I’m starting to think I should just chuck them out. I kinda think it’s unrealistic that I’ll successfully pack up all my worldly belongings over the next week and a half whilst continuing to work and train as much as I do.

 

I think what I need most is a few days of not very much. Watching Daredevil on Netflix (I got Netflix, by the way. Can’t believe we’ve lived without it for so long.), playing games (Uncharted 2 next? Finishing Guild Wars 2’s personal/living story? I’ve been on such a roll lately, I’ve probably finished a dozen games in the past few months.), spending time with Beth. What I don’t need is to worry about what people want, to vacuum or pull over to change a tyre or to hold a door open because I fear being judged. I desperately crave to be selfish and “unproductive”, doing things just for the pleasure of doing them rather than because it would be “the best thing to do with my time”.

 

I’ve been seeing a new counsellor by the way, for probably eight months now. She’s so much more than I realised I wanted; intellectual, curious, compassionate. It makes for a safe place to explore myself, and to examine unhelpful beliefs and values. What I’m working on at the moment is my chronic lateness, my beliefs around productivity, my inability to relax when there are other people around and my subconscious fear of negative judgements from practically everyone I meet. It’s really nice to do be working on my own stuff again.

 

Well, that’s it for now. I’ve got other stuff to explore, and I’ll do that privately. Hope you’ve all been well <3

Tokyo

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So, it’s been a few months since I started this post and it kind of fell by the wayside. Nevertheless, better late than never, right?

 

***

 

I love Tokyo for many reasons; it’s glowing lights, it’s thriving population, it’s fancy technology and ridiculous fetishes. This city, I feel, did not suit Beth so well. Whilst I loved getting lost in the busy streets, strolling randomly and delighting in the high energy, Beth crashed pretty hard after the challenges of Korea. Still, there was magic yet to be discovered in the Ghibli Museum, and we got to access the rooftop garden now that it wasn’t snowing! It was wonderful becoming immersed in the beautiful hand-drawn art that made up the animations. The movie theatre with Sumo Mice (Chu Sumo) was fantastic, and well worth the trip for me (even though it’s the second time we’ve seen it).

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I also had the immense pleasure of returning to Tokyo Disneysea. We started the day in very high spirits (hearing those Disney tunes at the train station literally got me skipping), and I fully embraced the Disney spirit. Better still, Craig got picked by the infamous comedic cleaner for one of his spontaneous skits (the gargling one!). Man, Westerners have all the luck. Once more we plunged 20 000 Leagues Under the Sea, which I admit lost some of its magic a second time around, though was still fantastically atmospheric. We trekked to Ikspiari’s Disney store so that Beth could accomplish her long held dream of acquiring new tsum tsums, and then parted for the day so that she could rest. When Craig and I got back (after a three hour detour for Starbucks), we watched a pretty cool wire-fu musical in the Mermaid Lagoon before finding ourselves by the bayside for a musical light parade. It turned out to be one of the greatest shows of all time with water, fog, laser beams and hot air balloons, and an epic story involving wicked witches and Sorcerer Mickey. Although it was an incredible spectacle to see from afar, I felt a little detached from the action. And just as I had the thought, the witch turned into a dragon and started coming through a magic doorway, breathing fire and threatening to destroy Imaginationland, and Mickey blasted it back through the portal with magic spells. It was freaking amazing to feel the heat and the involuntary shiver of fear as the park faced its obliteration!

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Beth was still feeling pretty run down the next day, and Craig had other adventures to undertake, so I ventured back to Tokyo Disneyland for a solo adventure. I have to say, it was a very different experience going by myself, and I loved the freedom of going on whatever rides I wanted. And what rides! Star Tours, to my surprise, had done away with Darth Vader force-choking the ship and had received a makeover to star Rey, Finn, Poe and BB-8 flying the Millenium Falcon to reach the Rebel Base! (The guys in the queue in front of my were having an in-depth discussion about the Prequel movies, and I very nearly launched into my usual “Jar Jar Binks is a Sith Lord!” theory, but I restrained myself for the pleasure of passing as a non-English-speaking Japanese.) I passed by Thunder Mountain several times throughout the day, and when I finally plucked up the courage to line up, they had closed it for maintenance. Happily, I went to the much gentler Winnie The(r) Pooh ride, which was as captivating as it was charming. After some exploration I finally figured out how to get into the heart of the Disney castle itself, marvelling at the million little details that made it so regal and scoffing as a little girl dressed as Snow White tried to put on Cinderella’s glass slipper. It also must be mentioned that I came across a shooting gallery where I noticed a lady with gold and silver badges out the front. She explained that if I shot a Perfect 10 I would earn a silver, and if I hit the randomised LUCKY! target I’d get the gold! Moments later I walked out with this little beauty.

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Surprisingly, my absolute favourite part of the day was discovering a magic shop where a lady holding a tophat whilst a miniature Winnie the Pooh performed magic tricks. As he casually connected and disconnected solid steel rings, breaking and reforming pencils, making Olaf’s head disappear in a hollow box without room for escape, making coins vanish out of the hands of children who clutched them tightly and generally defying every known law of physics, I couldn’t help but call out in surprise every few minutes. After long consideration, what I enjoyed most about it was that I prided myself on my intelligence (#Ravenclaw) and each of those tricks absolutely flummoxed me. I found great delight in my inability to figure out even slightly how they worked, and I’m rather sorry that I didn’t buy any of them to take home with me.

 

Adventures in Shibuya and Shinjuku saw us drawn to that magical Lofty wonderland, eating Coco Curry (a laughable amount of hotness after my conquest of kimchi jjigae), and asking a cute waitress about pudding parfait. Travelling solo, I had the pleasure of wandering through Ueno Park with its gilded pavilions in Japanese-speaking ravens. I also accomplished one of my great achievements of the trip by cracking 1000 points in the Toylets, which took several bottles of drinks and staggering down the streets looking for the arcade as I desperately tried not to pee myself. (In fact, I made this journey twice, having discovered the first time that the Sega arcade in Shibuya had been permanently closed down.)

 

This blog has waited quite long enough, so I’ll end by summarising my adventures thus: Japan is truly the land of my soul. I can’t even begin to describe how much it feels like home, even though I don’t really speak the language and can only begin to understand the crudest of customs and values. It’s been a great pleasure revisiting these stories and going through the photos, and I hope my journeys take me back once again to the Land of the Rising Sun.

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