As you might recall from my blog post celebrating my 1000th entry, this blog started off as a place (indeed, not a journal to write in but a domain to live in) for me to process and share my thoughts and experiences, and to hide them in plain sight. Thirteen years ago there was a little bit more anonymity – it wasn’t quite so easy to find information about other human beings on the internet yet, and so this was my quiet corner where I could pour my heart out to the void. I loved that idea of sharing my thoughts with someone, but I hated the risk of doing it in person. Blogging for me, then, became my safe space.
Things didn’t always work out. There was that disastrous leak, where my blog began circulating my high school and I was abused and threatened for sharing my inner-most thoughts on the web. It didn’t stop me, though. Over time it grew boring, I think, to keep teasing and bullying me, and the world moved on. And I kept learning and sharing and growing, writing all the while.
As I get older, I’ve realised that the internet isn’t quite the safe haven I hoped it would be when I was fourteen. I’ve learned that if you know how to look, you’re able to find. That where once I sought anonymity, now there is more data about me than ever before. And most importantly of all, I’ve learned that the internet never forgets. I couldn’t eradicate this place even if I tried.
Therefore I’ve learned to be a little more careful with what I share. Somehow the message finally sunk in that this “void” I’ve been pouring myself out to is not quite so empty as I wanted to think. It is a beautiful thing to be open and aware about onesself, but it is a little foolish, I think, to be open at all times to all people. For that reason, very few of my blogs are public these days, and they’re more for me to come to understand myself than they are for me to share with others.
No big announcements here. Just… thoughts.
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!
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.
-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.
-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.
-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!
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!
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.