Stress and Viewing Habits

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

If you haven’t guessed from previous blog posts, I’m a big fan of stories. I love to read, write, watch TV, watch movies, and just enjoy stories in general.

In 2020, the family and I watched 73 movies. I had so many movies that I had to do two reviews a week for a while and we did series as one post.

This year is completely different. I’m watching one movie a week and it’s often because I need a review for that weekend.

On the flip side, last year, we barely watched any television other than HGTV and Food network shows, DC’s Stargirl, Just Add Magic, and a few Disney shows. To some that would seem like a lot, but it’s nothing compared to this year. We’re still watching the HGTV and Food Network shows, but have added a binge of Leverage, Superman and Lois, Kung Fu, Bureau of Magical Things, WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and High School Musical The Musical The Series. We’ll be adding more as stuff ends and new things start.

It’s interesting to me that we’ve transitioned from movies to TV. Was it that there was nothing to watch? or did our needs change?

I think that for the better part of 2020, we felt like we were in a holding pattern, waiting to see what would happen. This led us to not wanting to invest time in something we might not be able to finish. So we binged a bunch of movies. With cinemas still closed but being used to the routine, we’ve started expanding our tastes to things that we don’t have to learn new characters every couple of days.

Basically we went from too stressed to commit to a TV series to just stressed enough that we don’t want to deal with new characters every few days.

The idea of watching a movie and learning the stories and personalities of the characters sounds exhausting when I could just watch a couple of episodes of Leverage, where I know the characters and can concentrate on the fun of the story.

If you need movie ideas and ranks check out the JenEric Movie Reviews every Saturday.

No matter what you’re watching, I hope you’re having fun.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

My Bucket is Full

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’m struggling this week. I know most of us are struggling right now. In my part of the world, we’re in the second wave and I’m not sure people understand what that means.

Bucket

Pegasus is not good at having his sleep cycle disturbed. Last Friday we slept in and didn’t wake him early enough and he refused to nap, then he fell asleep playing (twice) and I was up until 2am with him for the next two nights. We’re just now getting his schedule back in order.

Work has also been super busy and stressful. Report season in fall and spring has stressed me out for over a decade. I should honestly be better at it by now. With the season change comes a new set of allergies and a huge uptick in the pain in my hands.

So I’m feeling like I have a bucket for stress and my bucket is starting to flow over. I’ve started feeling overwhelmed. This morning I got an email and I couldn’t process it. It just went in one ear and out the other. I’ll get back to it later today and try again.

My way of dealing with new stress this week.

Trapped

The stress, the pandemic, politics, pain, allergies, and not-sleeping have me feeling trapped. Not by my life, not by my house, and certainly not my family. I feel trapped in a need to be productive. I’m missing having days were I don’t have to do anything. Where I can wake up and just do whatever I want. Six years ago I decided I wanted to try and roast coffee. I binge watched Gilmore Girls and made buttons. I haven’t had one of those days in a while. It’s part of getting older and having more responsibilities, along with being limited in what I can do because of the pandemic. As the kids get older and don’t need naps, and there’s a vaccine, I’ll be able to just spontaneously decide to take a day off and go to a museum or to a park with them, that’ll be nice.

Grief

My mom’s mother died when my mom was 5. Every chance we got we’d come to Ottawa to visit my grandmother’s siblings that acted like grandparents. I found out that the last of that generation passed away on Monday at 85.

My last phone call with her she sounded tired but hopeful. Because of health issues and the pandemic, she never met Pegasus but met Dragon a few times. She was a fantastic painter, wonderful hugger, terrible cook, and lovely person. I’m going to miss her.

Hope

My bucket is full but I’ll scoop it out, or drink from it, or something… (this metaphor seems to be getting away from me.) The point is, I’ll be okay. The nights will start freezing away the allergens, the weather with stabilize as much as it ever does, work will become less hectic, the stress will abate. It’s just a matter of dealing with it and taking deep breaths.

I have toddler, child, and wife hugs to keep me going, coffee to roast, and more pumpkin things to bake.

I’ll be okay but I’m struggling.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

The Griswold Effect and Your Disney Vacation

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

Holidays and vacations are stressful. It’s one of the few times in life where you feel you need to be perfect and make everything perfect for everyone around you. That stress can turn to anger and depression.

The need to make everything perfect on holidays and vacations is colloquially known as The Griswold Effect. There’s only one result to expecting perfection in a holiday or vacation, and that’s disappointment.

My father in-law said on our second day at Magic Kingdom:

“They say this is the happiest place on earth but I keep hearing crying and people screaming at each other.”

I had noticed the same thing. From little kids on leashes screaming at their parents, to one uncool man swearing at a Haunted Mansion cast member, to parents yelling at their kids.

All Disney parks are huge, exhausting, and filled with people who think the whole park is there for them. There’s this image of the parks as perfect experiences of awesome, but they’re like every other vacation.

Don’t get me wrong, Disney is absolutely fantastic and I’m sure I’ll be going back (I’ve been to Disney World 4 times and Paris Disney once.)

The trick is to keep your expectations realistic. Rides break down, you wait for hours to get on, everything is overpriced and there’s more than you can do in one trip. You also have to account for down time and eating. Everything is bright, loud, and exciting which makes it really easy to get overstimulated. It’s also super easy to forget to eat. Use your eating time to decompress, plan, and most of all, adjust expectations.

The most important part of any holiday or vacation is being with those you love. Nothing will ever be perfect, so plan, set things up, prioritize what’s most important, and then hold on for dear life as the universe throws everything it can at you.

Good luck,

Éric

Disney Vacation Posts

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

For the next few weeks I’ll be writing articles on Disney Vacations. I’ve read horror stories and seen terrible things.

I’ll offer tips and tricks, tell you how I felt, and all kinds of other ridiculous stuff.

And don’t worry I’ll have cute pictures of the kids too.

Later Days,

Éric

Oops I failed it again

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

It might be time for me to admit that NaNoWriMo isn’t my jam anymore. It’s not even my honey or peanut butter. (I think I may be hungry.)

Anyway, this years NaNoWriMo was a continuing of the one I failed 2 years ago and I managed a whopping 1778 words… I didn’t try very hard.

Thea Queen isn’t impressed with me failing or the Britney reference.
Just like her brother last year.

Turns out when I’m stressed I don’t do a lot of writing and this November has been extremely stressful. Things are getting better and the only stress in my future is holiday or writing.

I’m going to continue with this story and hope I can finish it early in the New Year so I can get back to Elizabeth 4.

 

How’d your NaNoWriMo go?

Éric

Decluttering and the Art of Optimization

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’ve been cleaning and decluttering. We finally decided to clean out our “nests”. Nests are places you put things you don’t want to deal with. They have a nasty habit of getting bigger and bigger. They also become ridiculously intimidating to clean.

We identified 3 major nests and started work in early August. Boy, did we have a lot of crap. I mean I found empty boxes for cellphones and other electronics that would be going to high school this year if they were human. I found PS/2 port extension cables… No, those aren’t for PlayStation 2.

In a stroke of madness genius, I set a date for a yard sale and gave us 3 weeks to get everything done… We managed to clean out 2 of the 3 major nests and I’m still terrified of the garage…

We’re really close to maybe having a functional guest room instead of a third bedroom garbage pile, so that’s really good.

If this mad cleaning has taught me anything, it’s that minimalism is overrated. The sense of cleanliness and peace doesn’t come from getting rid of everything, it comes from optimizing your living space. If you’re not comfortable in the way your living area is organized, you need to do something about it and the best thing is to get rid of stuff you’re unhappy with and keep the good stuff.

That doesn’t mean that you have to live like a divorced man on TV or some new age guru in a magazine. It just means you need to be happy with the flow and movement in your living space. Everyone has different tastes.

I personally love having lots of oversized cushy furniture and books in every room.

The important thing is to periodically do cleaning and organizing of your nests. The organizing part is extra important to avoid the same nest developing again.

 

Later Days,

Éric

Dear Dragon – Nightmare

Dear Dragon,

I had my first nightmare with you in it and it surprised me. I don’t remember most of my dreams; those that I do don’t last long and unlike your mom’s they’re not complex.

Your Gramma told me that in her nightmares I was always a small child. Even when I was in university, her dream version of me was no older than five. I always assumed that you’d be a newborn in my dreams. I was wrong.

In my dream you were trying to get to me and making that pterodactyl screech you make when you’re annoyed. You were toddling towards me, screeching, and darkness swallowed you. Your screeching turned into your panicked scream and I couldn’t get to you.

You were hurting and terrified and try as hard as I could I couldn’t get to you. (There are tears in my eyes just remembering the dream.)

When I woke up from the dream, I thought you really were screaming but after a few seconds of panic, I could tell you were just snoring. You were getting over a cold and your nose was doing this weird whistling noise.

Most likely the dream was caused by stress and feeling like I’m not spending enough time with you. I wish I could work from home every day. You change so much and so quickly that I don’t want to miss anything.

My greatest fear is that I won’t be there for you when you need me. I can’t promise that I will, but I’ll try as hard as possible.

I love you Dragon,

Your Papa

I Have a Hole and I’m Leaking

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Over the past year I’ve been extremely lucky. I’ve had 9 months off with my wonderful wife and the adorable baby Dragon. I’ve finished a book, started two, and finalized one that will be published in early September. A lot of other awesome things have happened.

Unfortunately, I’m currently struggling with some issues. Mostly anxiety and stress. I hurt my neck in June and even though I’m getting treated and it’s getting better, I’ve been in near constant pain for two and a half months. It’s made it hard to sleep and concentrate.

Work has been extra stressful. I was hoping that coming back in summer would mean a slow readjustment period. That wasn’t the case; there were some issues while I was gone and I’ve been thrown into some intense work. It’s work that I have little control over and that has to be done quick which makes me extremely uncomfortable.

So the combination of anxiety, stress, lack of sleep, pain, and work has caused a few issues (current events aren’t helping much). At the worst, I feel trapped that causes mini panic attacks; at best I’m completely wiped.

It feels like I am a cup and I hold all my creative energy and motivation inside, but lately I’ve felt like my cup has a hole and every time I try to tap into that energy and motivation, it drains away too fast. I fill it up by gaming, reading, watching TV, and dreaming but it still drains away faster than I’d like.

I’m dealing with it and doing my best to try and get stuff done despite the lack of motivation, but it’s not always easy. Wife and Dragon cuddles help a lot. Same with taking time to do things that I find fun.

Please be patient with me as I work this out. I might be a little bit hermit-like and grumpy.

Thank you for reading,

Éric

The Importance of Taking a Break

skyrim vacation

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Some mornings I wake up thinking about all the things I have to do and I panic. I lay in bed and stare at the ceiling paralyzed. I’m not afraid of work, or working a lot. I’m terrified of forgetting something.

Since September, I’ve increased the amount of things I do and I’m not just talking about taking care of a baby Dragon. I’ve written a few more short stories, added a few more jobs, laid out more books, and roasted more coffee than ever before.

I’m extremely lucky both in the quality of my clients and that I had this wonderful opportunity to watch my child grow up right before my eyes. That said, other than a week at Disney that was a lot of fun but not relaxing, I took a few days to myself after Christmas.

I’m starting to feel like butter spread over too much bread. I know my limits, and with my parental leave quickly running out, I need some time to recharge.

If you don’t force yourself to take some time off from doing all the little things that stress you out, you’re never going to get the chance.

So I’m taking next week, the 15-19 of May, off to relax, watch some TV, and play some video games. Hopeful the weather will be nice and I can take the Dragon to the park. No plans, no big obligations, just me, my wife, and baby Dragon.

After that week, I have to start preparing for my return to work, and I’ll have 3 books to work on, along with more conventions.

Later Days,

Éric

All Work and no Sleep Makes Éric something something…

hqdefault

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Have you ever gotten to the point where you’re so busy, or your to-do list is so long, that you feel like you’re drowning? Well I’m almost there. The ocean of stuff is turbulent and I’m barely dog paddling. All of it is made worse by lack of sleep and this stupid, unending cold.

I’m starting to realize I might have taken on too much too quickly this year and certain things have been suffering because of it. Mostly my writing, or lack thereof, and other creative endeavours like FADDS.

What am I going to do about it? I’m going to get as much done of what I have already promised and try to stop taking on more projects. Both publishers I work with are going to settle down into a slower routine and after Ottawa Comic Con, conventions will slow down too.

All that said, I’m going to try and take a week off to relax after OCC. Maybe play Skyrim with the little Dragon.

I have a lot of coffee to roast and not much time so I’ll see you later.

Éric