Lessons from Living Solo

Beth has been dog-sitting at her parent’s house for three days now, and here are some of the things I’ve learned about myself:

  • I am always busy. When left to my own devices, I cram my schedule full of work, training, seeing Beth, and the necessities of eating, showering and keeping the cat alive. Even my relaxing is scheduled, and despite all the freedom I’m still consistently late XD
  • I’m messier than I thought. With no one to be tidy for, I leave clothes, dishes and miscellaneous stuff lying around.
  • This causes me to forget or lose things because I just put them down and have no idea where. When Beth’s here, she reminds me where I’ve been or where she’s seen my glasses, wallet, phone etc. Without her I just don’t notice it’s gone until I need it. (Case in point, moments after publishing this I spent five minutes going back and forth to the same rooms looking for my phone. It was next to the TV and not in any of my usual spots.)
  • I forget how many blinds and curtains we have, which lamps to turn on/off, and remember to open/close everything before I go out.
  • It’s always cold. I enjoy the idea of saving money more than I like the idea of warming the room with a heater.
  • I’m noisier. I sing, I crank up the TV, I don’t close the doors.
  • I don’t do nearly as much housework as I want to. I noticed the sinks are dirty, the cat litter’s full, the floor needs vacuuming, and I do precisely nothing about it.
  • I leave all the doors, cupboards and drawers open. Well, not all of them, but enough of them, under the assumption that I’m going to go right back in there so I don’t need to waste time closing it again.
  • Twice now I’ve had to get out of the car and gone back into the house to grab something I’ve forgotten, like my wallet.

All of this is reminding me painfully of my father. Perhaps the apple doesn’t fall so far from the tree after all!

Protips for Lucioball

I’ve been getting really into Lucioball, and I daresay I’m pretty good at it now. I thought I’d pass on some of the things I’ve noticed that differentiate the really great players from the average ones.


General tips

-Most matches benefit from having a goalie (at the block goals), a striker (to score goals) and a midfielder, who drifts between the two. The aim of the midfielder is to be available for the goalie to pass to when defending, to pass it to the striker (ideally in a way that causes the opposing goalie to overextend or panic) or to catch rebounds and score goals. Change roles freely depending on the skill of your team mates.

-The range of the Soundwave right-click is surprisingly far. When you use it at its furthest distance, the ball won’t receive all of the force and it will move quite slowly. For maximum speed, get right up to it before booping.

-This also gives more control: you can aim up, down, left or right to determine where you want to pop the ball. Furthermore, it allows you to put spin on the ball to change it’s trajectory when it lands. E.g. if you hit the ball on its right side, it will spin to the right when it bounces. You can use this to set up rebounds, passes, and even goals (by letting the ball roll past the goalie if they miss the block).

-Use your ult to reach the ball before the opposing team (either to clear it from the goals, or to shoot past the defenders before they’re ready). It’s easiest to use at the start of the match when both teams are equidistant from the ball, but don’t be afraid to use it any time it’ll give you a much-needed edge.

-If you’ve got your ult (or someone on your team does – check tab periodically), there’s a good chance one of the opposing team members has their ult as well. Prepare for this by not leaving large openings, especially when the player positions reset after a goal.

-When contesting for the ball, don’t be afraid to punch or boop it off the wall to bypass the opposition. If you always shoot straight, you’ll almost always be blocked.

-Pass just in front of your teammates rather than right at them. If they have to turn to receive the ball, they won’t be able to pass or shoot until they re-orient themselves.

-If you need to travel quickly, the fastest way is to use the jump pad to wall-run. If you don’t want to wall-run, using the jump pads by themselves is still faster than running.

-When you use Amp It Up, both of your hands are occupied for a split second so you cannot punch or boop. If you’re going to use a speed boost, try and activate it pre-emptively rather at a moment where you might need to hit the ball.

-Generally speaking, you don’t want to make high passes because these take more time to travel across the field. Speed is key when passing, so minimise the opposing team’s chances of intercepting or responding by keeping the ball as low as reasonable for passes.

-The speed of the ball is also dependent on how fast you’re moving when you hit it. You can get a seriously fast shot if you use your ult and charge into the ball. You can also get significant speed utilising the jump pads; you’re fastest at the moment of the jump, so if you boop a split second after you can pass the ball very quickly.

-If the opposing team use an ult, try and keep the ball off them. Pop it up and over them and pass between team mates to build your own ult charges while negating theirs.

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Striker tips

-Learn to receive passes well. Try and be side-on to the ball when it comes to you so that you can turn and shoot where you intend to.

-Learn to feint by hitting the ball into the walls beside and above the goal. The goalie will often overextend/jump, then you can catch the rebound and take a clear shot. At higher levels, this is the only way to get the ball past a good goalie.

-If the opposing goalie is about to blocks a shot from a teammate get right in front of them so that you can knock it out of their hands a split second after they try and get it clear. If you do it just right, you’ll knock it straight back into the goals.

-If you can get above the ball, you can spike it down past the defenders and into the goal. Don’t be afraid to use the jump-pads to set up shots if your team mates pass high.

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Goalie tips

-Learn the dimensions of the goals, and learn them well. If the ball is too high or too wide to make it into the goals, you don’t need to jump/go out to intercept it. Either catch the rebound and pass it, or wait for the opposing striker to take a shot so you can block it. If you overextend and meet the ball, the enemy striker might outmanoeuvre you while you’ve left the goals wide open.

-Don’t just watch the ball: keep an eye on where your teammates are, and there the opposing team’s players are. Also keep an eye on their goalie – if they’ve overextended or have committed to one side, maybe you can get a goal in if you time it well.

-Don’t just shoot straight at the other team’s goals; too often a match becomes a rally between goalies just passing back and forth without either gaining an advantage or disadvantage. Instead, pass the ball to the mid-fielder or into the corners so that your striker has a chance to score.

-If you do take a shot at the opposing goals, you might be able to get away with lobbing the ball very high (almost high enough to reach the ceiling) and then letting it bounce once and into the very top of the goals.

-Be super-aware of your cooldowns. If you use the soundwave, you’ve got three seconds of vulnerability so if they take a second shot off the rebound, be prepared to block it with your body or punch it out the way. Or, in a desperate moment, pop your ult to speed up your cooldowns.

-Time your jumps carefully. Most players will aim up when shooting rather than passing it straight along the ground, so if you get the sense they’re about to take a shot in the middle or upper goals, jump for it at the last moment possible rather than rising pre-emptively and letting them shoot clean under you. The longer you wait to respond, the harder it is for them to feint.

-If you get want to do a small jump to block a mid-height ball, hold crouch as you hit the jump button and this will cancel the effect of the jump pad. I personally don’t do this because I use the speed of the jump pad to clear it, no matter what the height.


So there you have it! Remember kids: work with your team and you’re gonna do great!

Moving through Bikram

A few days ago I caught up with a friend to try a bikram yoga class at the studio she trains at. I last did bikram about ten years ago when my beloved cousin took me to her studio in Malaysia. I have very fond memories of that day, buying my first pair of exercise shorts before the class and giving it my all as the teacher called out instructions to me in Mandarin.

The class yesterday was just what I hoped it could be, and then so much more. I was determined not to let my ego get the better of me and try and be stronger or more flexible than the people around me, though I had to admit that I would struggle to keep that resolution. Instead, I decided to be honest with myself and do my best to keep within my limits, rest if I needed to, and notice my self-judgements without needing to act on them.

To my great astonishment, my ego barely got in the way at all. I was a little self-conscious warming up, and it took me a little while to get into the swing of things when the class began. After about ten minutes, the heat became uncomfortable and I was courageous enough to take my shirt off even though I was worried my body didn’t look the way I wanted it to. As I glanced around the class from time to time, I realised that everybody had different body shapes and that they were all amazing yogis in their own ways. I finally came to accept (at least for that hour) that there is no ideal body shape, and that my beautiful healthy body is perfect just as it is.

Using the mirrors to correct my postures, I moved and stretched and balanced, and I became so intimately connected with my body and the things I love about it. At times when I looked in the mirror I was captivated by what I saw, a being full of strength, balance and vitality. I loved the glistening sweat that dripped off me, the ways my muscles flexed as I shifted and moved, how my whole body worked together to carry me through time and space. I wasn’t fixated on looking any particular way, I just had an appreciation and an admiration for this incredible body of mine, and it felt incredible.

For the rest of the day, I was super aware of how good it felt to be in my body. Without wanting to sound pretentious, I was incredibly aware of my posture and alignment. I felt really comfortable sitting cross-legged on the floor during a meeting at work, and when I decided to relax my posture, I did so conscientiously. I became aware that it really mattered to me what I put in my body, and when I chose to have a coffee I did so understanding the effects it would have on my system. And I felt so energised all day, like I was quietly buzzing even though I had expended so much energy in the morning. It was a pleasant paradox.

That experience of bikram was a perfect way to start the day, and it was everything I love about exercise and movement. I think I’m still building up my fitness because I hit a wall about forty minutes in and felt like I’d done enough for the day, but I kept going of course, working with my body and exploring its limits (beyond the ones I had self-imposed). Yoga isn’t easy: it’s beautiful and natural and pure in its self-discovery. And I have to say, two days later I’m still incredibly sore (which is a pleasant surprise!). In the words of the teacher, when a mirror was held up before me to show me my response when I encountered challenge, I am proud of what I saw.

I’m not sure when I’ll be able to go again, I just hope it’s soon! Namaste!

Activating Super Zen

For a long time, I believed “If you just get into the right mindset, everything will be easier.” If you remember to practice gratitude, if you become deeply mindful, if you step into your heartspace, if you choose optimism instead of pessimism etc. etc., life is better.

I have only recently realised that sometimes it isn’t a matter of choice.

Sometimes, no matter how determined you are to think positively or to be mindful, it’s impossible until the prerequisites are met: safety, security, peace etc. If you’re on fire, you just won’t have the ability to be mindful until the fire is out. I liken it to getting enough resources to activate an ability: you can’t become Super Zen without first obtaining 200 Quiet and 300 Peace.

Just food for thought.

Boundaries: A Simple Guide

How to tell if your boundaries have been crossed:

  • You’re not comfortable with the situation.

e.g. A friend calls at 7pm and asks if they can come over for dinner. This causes you to feel uncomfortable emotionally and physically.

How to find what your boundaries are:

  • Ask yourself what you are comfortable with.

e.g. What if they didn’t come over tonight but we just spoke on the phone? Not comfortable with that either? Okay, how about if we just text tonight, and we catch up on the weekend? Perfect.

How to put your boundaries in place:

  • Tell the other person what you are not comfortable with (and maybe what you are comfortable with).

e.g. “Hey friend, thanks for the invitation! I don’t really feel like company tonight, but I don’t mind texting if you’d like to chat. Do you want to catch up this weekend?”

How to put your boundaries more firmly in place:

  • If the other person does not honour your boundaries, it is an opportunity for you to flex your boundary-placing muscles and get a little better at insisting your boundaries are respected.

e.g. Friend says “Can’t I just come over? I want to see you.”
You might say: “Hi friend, I still do not want company tonight. I like you and would like to spend time with you, however I am not willing to do so right now. If you are in need of company, perhaps there is someone else you can ask.”

  • This might go on for some time, because some people are not very well-practiced at respecting other people’s boundaries.
  • If all your attempts to enforce boundaries are ignored or violated, it is recommended you cut that person out of your life, because they are an asshat and you deserve better.

PD through PD

Personal Discovery through Professional Development.

I spent way longer on that title than I wanted to.

 

I’ve done a lot of learning and growing in recent times. My work has taught me so many things that I probably would never have learned otherwise, and it’s kind of hard for me to keep track of it all. Every tiny nugget of wisdom changes who I am and the way I move through the world, and week after week, month after month, all those learnings are adding up to something quite spectacular. I feel like my heart is growing, and I can care more easily and more deeply. I’m also learning a great deal about not caring too much, and knowing where I end and another begins.

 

That’s why I sat down at my computer this morning and started reading about burnout. I’ve noticed in the past few weeks in particular, my patience has been at an all-time low.

Working in mental health, sometimes the people that I support seem (to me) to be “stuck”: they’re in pain, and they don’t want to do anything to change their circumstances. As someone who loves to rescue people, it’s been challenging for me checking my inner-white-knight and being with people where they are. I’ve felt a lot of frustration and, in the case of one person, two years of it built up week by week until I finally realised I couldn’t hold onto it any more and I had to share it. My manager and I sat with the person and I let some of those emotions out from behind the dam and it was cathartic. I realised that my frustration was actually concern, and that all I wanted was the best for the person and I was worried about them.

 

Since then, I’ve found it really hard to keep my frustration removed from my client interactions. I’m really struggling to sit with people where they’re at because I want so badly for their lives to be different. And that’s an interesting one that I’m still working through: How can I still care about the people I work with, without caring so much that it drains my cup? The solution, I think, are boundaries: in a nutshell, being okay with not taking on other people’s stuff.

 

I find it amazing that three weeks I was noticing these experiences and I didn’t really take any heed of them. Looking at them in hindsight, they are increasingly alarming signs that I was heading towards burnout. I’m grateful that it was brought to my attention seriously, so that I can give it the serious attention it merits. I’m more aware now of what I’m feeling relating to work: what feels good, and what feels draining. As my awareness grows, I’m more informed about the decisions I make: what boundaries to set down, and how I want to work in a way that is sustainable and joyful. I want to value self-care more (which, even as I write it I’m thinking “I don’t have time for that, my black belt grading is coming up, I’ll self care in two weeks from now”) and be okay with letting myself rest and heal more often. I want to continue developing methods of decompressing between appointments and after work, maybe seriously get back into meditation and reconnect with that well of inner peace within me.

 

I don’t really know where I’m going with any of this. I haven’t eaten breakfast yet, and the cobwebs of nightmares still cling to me. I guess I just wanted to say, to myself and the world, that I value my wellbeing, and that I’m continuing to work through stuff. I am continuing to seek that balance between growing and resting, and I’m getting better at it all the time.

The Best of the Breath: Part 3

This is the third, and probably final instalment of my favourite moments from Breath of the Wild. If you’d like to read my first two, you can read them here and here.


Several times upon my journey I came across a young couple named Tye and Sorelia. Newly married, they were roaming the forests of Hyrule looking for the rare flower called the Silent Princess. Tye had heard rumour that, if you declare you love before a freshly plucked blossom, you and your partner will live a charmed life. He had intended to venture out into the world on his own to find his flower and swear his love by it, and Sorelia could not bear the thought of the danger he was exposing himself to on the quest. She decided to buckle on her adventurer boots and go with him, to protect him and to share in their adventure together.

When I heard their story, the first thing I did was reach for the Silent Princess in my pack. I thought to myself, “Here at last is the end to their journey! No longer will they need to huddle in the rain and fight bokoblins every day.” And yet speaking to them, they were both overjoyed in the adventure they were living, full of risk and passion. I decided not to give them the blossom they were seeking, because in a way, they had already found it.


In the village of Hateno, there was a strapping stableboy named Manny who pined after Prima, the young mistress of the inn. It was the stuff of cheesy adult fiction, except that Manny could not bring himself to utter a word to his beloved. He besought me to inquire what Prima wanted most in the world, and when I asked her, she invented the idea that she would only be interested in someone who could give her one hundred Restless Crickets. Manny begged me for ten, which I gathered for him, which he did nothing with. Apparently he was paralysed by anxiety and couldn’t bring himself to find any others.

I however had no such compunctions. I took to the field, cutting grass and sneaking up on crickets day and night until I had precisely one hundred. I went back to the inn and, five at a time, dropped them in front of Prima. She did not thank me, and with an annoyed look, simply inquired whether I wanted a soft bed or a regular bed. I left her with her plague of crickets and turned my efforts elsewhere.


As I have said previously, combat has been my favourite part of the game. Eventually I became so adept that, for fun, I would drop down into a pit full of Guardians and fight off four of them simultaneously, deflecting beams back at their owners, darting in and out of cover, electrifying some, hitting others in the eyes with ancient arrows. For the ones that still had legs, I would cut them off with an ancient weapon before they even fully initialised, swinging my ancient battle axe in wild circles to end them before they even realised it had begun.

Imagine my delight, then, to discover that in the depths of a great canyon were the ruins of a Forgotten Temple covered in the decaying remains of Guardians. I strode right through the front door without attempting to take cover or stealth past them as five or six lasersights turned and locked onto me. Batting two of the beams aside simultaneously, I continued to walk right through the temple, an unstoppable force with impeccable timing, Guardians exploding all around me as I strode every forward. They protected an ancient shrine, and a priceless treasure: a statue of the Goddess Hylia in proportions scarcely before imaginable, easily ten times the height of me. It was a profound experience humbling myself before her and receiving her blessing.


I heard rumour of a ruined coliseum that monsters had since made their home. I could not resist the call of a good fight, and made my way across the mountains to enter it from above. I scoped out the place thoroughly, working my way around it from above and identifying what manner of creatures occupied it. Rather than approaching each of them stealthily as I normally would, I equipped my full Knight Armour (84 defence) and approached them in single combat, besting them one after the other. From moblins to lizalfos to bokoblins, and finally to the Silver Lynel at the base, I conquered them all without challenge. It was a brutal slaughter, and when it was over there was no one to hear me yell “Are you not entertained?!”

I was beginning to feel like the game had no more challenge for me. Until…


Far across the sea, I made my way to an island called Eventide. Once I set foot on the beach, the voice of an ancient monk resonated in my head and darkness overtook me. When I awoke, I had been stripped of all my armour, weapons and items, on an island full of monsters. My task was to find the three orbs and place them on their pedestals while surviving the trials of the night. It was exhilarating.

The first thing I did was avoid the bokoblins and set into the forest to find some tree branches as makeshift weapons. A storm came as I was carefully making my way across a bog, and I noticed that lightning struck the water not once, but twice. Curious, I pulled out my Sheikah Slate and discovered a metal chest at the bottom of the swamp. Inside it was a soldier’s sword, a much greater weapon than my humble stick. I foraged for mushrooms and crept through the night. I found a camp of bokoblins and killed them, cautiously using their campfire to roast my mushrooms and sleeping lightly until morning. It was exhilarating feeling so vulnerable.

It was a greater challenge still to fight a Hinox, whose healthbar far exceeded the capacity of my weapons to damage. It was only in hindsight that I realised I could have taken the orb around his neck by stealth, and instead I peppered him with the handful of arrows I had scavenged, broke most of my weapons upon him, and then used Magnesis to beat him with a metal crate for several minutes while he tried to climb the hill I was on. I was not proud of that particular battle.

By the time I climbed the summit of Eventide, I had acquired most of the weapons of the enemies on the island. I was once again a walking badass, a big fish in a small pond, and I was sad to end the challenge. The Trial of the Sword DLC looks to be exactly what I’m craving.


I always felt a little guilty exploring Hyrule, completing shrines, hunting dragons and spending weeks in the game chasing wild horses and falling stars while Zelda was locked in a life-or-death battle with Ganon. Whenever I spoke to Impa, she reminded me to save the Princess as soon as I could because she had been struggling for one hundred years straight and could use a break. When at last I unlocked the final memory, I realised that I did not want to delay any longer, and even though I had five shrines yet to be discovered, the time had finally come: I was going to assault Hyrule Castle.

My preparations were extensive. I made one hundred ancient arrows to deal with the Guardian Stalkers, Turrets and Skywatchers. I had already upgraded every single piece of armour in the game to maximum defence (save one pair of earrings which required a fragment of a falling star). From my home in Hateno, I took from their displays the weapons of the fallen Champions: the Lightscale Trident, the Boulder Breaker, the Scimitar of the Seven, Daybreaker and the Great Eagle Bow. As I was preparing, a blood moon began to rise so I cooked dozens of dishes to maximise my health and defend me against every element and condition I might face. And the dawn broke, I made for the Castle, not wanting to risk another blood moon whilst I was inside.

Inspired by the final memory, I chose to wear the Hero’s tunic and Hylian trousers, wielding nothing more than the Master Sword and a shield. It would have been safer to equip full Guardian armour, but I wanted the Ganon to know I wasn’t scared of him and was more than a match for his sentinels. I enabled the four talents of the Champions (I usually kept Daruk’s Protection and Urbosa’s Fury disabled because they interfered with my playing style) and strode right up to the Castle gates, cutting my way through dozens of Guardians and reflecting their beams right back at them.

Having announced my presence and defeated all of the sentries perched on the exterior of the Castle, I began to explore in earnest. I wasn’t expecting such a complex dungeon, and it took me several hours to uncover each of the rooms and their many secrets. I loved discovering the ancient barracks, whose inhabitants reached for the gleaming weapons on the walls when they noticed my intrusion. It was a great pleasure, too, swimming through the docks and finding the many ways which the palace might be breached. I felt a chill run over me as I returned to Zelda’s study and the lone Silent Princess growing there. When I discovered her bedroom nearby, I loved that she had a Royal Guard Bow on her mantelpiece, and I was deeply moved by finding her journal on the table. I was stunned to find that Link was not in fact mute, and chose to be silent for his own personal reasons. And what a thrill it was to find King Rhoam’s hidden study, where he wrote in his journal about the struggle he had with himself for pushing Zelda so hard to be the Princess his Kingdom needed.

Most exciting of all though, earlier in the game I had paid an absurd amount of money to a crazed shield surfer and he imparted on me the rumour that a legendary shield lay waiting somewhere in the Castle. After many hours of searching, deep in the bowels of the dungeons I came upon a test for knights who wished to prove their skill. The skeletal giant, Stalnox, lay waiting in a chamber for me to approach, and I defeated him swiftly and without issue. And then, after so many hours of dreaming, it was finally before me: the iconic Hylian shield, to join me at last, in the last of my adventures.

It’s hard to describe how much I love Hyrule Castle, and how much it means to me. It’s dangerous enemies, secret passageways and powerful items and that incredible music tantalised the adventurer in me. It might well be my favourite place in the game.


When I finally entered the Inner Sanctum to confront Ganon, we battled magnificently, and I loved every moment of it. After it was over. my save file+ told me that I had completed 46.15% of the game after sinking 185 hours into it. At first I didn’t know what to do with my life: I had been so invested in the adventure, and now it was finally over. Eventually I decided I didn’t want to 100% the game (those Koroks, man, I still had 635 of the 900 to find), but would at least find the remaining shrines to free those monks from their 10 000 year wait, complete the compendium (I had about 18 photos to go) and finish off the last side quest, cooking royal cuisine for that enthusiastic stablehand. I had finally relieved Zelda from her long struggle, and there will still adventures yet to be had. Hyrule is a large place with many secrets yet uncovered, and I have many hours ahead to experience them yet.