Aimless: Return Wild and Weird

As I write this, the sun is reaching the exact astrological position it was in when I was born. It’s time for birthday reflections, intentions, and projections.

Each year, I like to draw a tarot or oracle-card spread to help me focus on themes for the coming year. This year, I used the Crystal Mandala Oracle by Alana Fairchild for a three-card spread intended to provide “Deeper Insight.” The night of the solar return… what a perfect time to see ahead and behind!

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Wild Tiger

The first card drawn, which presents the response to the question, “What do I need to know?”, is Tiger Spirit Rises.

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It’s a card of wildness, of individuality, and of courage.

“To shed conditioning, one layer at a time, takes courage. You have to trust in a self you don’t fully recognize yet… When you tap in to your wildness… authenticity is discovered. You find out who you are. You allow yourself to operate in broader ways than those dictated by society… There is an opportunity to break away from the tribe…

“Roar loud and proud. Your kindred tiger spirit souls will hear you and be drawn to your light.”

–Alana Fairchild,  Crystal Mandala Oracle

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The independent spirit of this card fits. I’ve spent a lifetime peeling back the layers of social conditioning. For a while, this past year, I muted my individuality, wanting to fit in better at the workplace since I was in charge of a project that reaches many people. It felt draining, the support I longed for never developed, and I stood out anyway. So towards the end of the project, after I hand-picked my own support team from other strong-spirited colleagues, I decided to give expression to my wildness.

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I like the way it feels, and I’m more effective, too. It takes too much energy to be tame!

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As a woman working in a tech-related profession in the state with the largest gender income gap in technology in the nation (40.7%,  source: Comparably.com), my work environment operates under an institutional bias against listening to the advice and suggestions of women. Here’s where the wild tiger spirit comes in handy. To do my job, I need to be able to speak up, speak out, and even roar now and then. I can purr, too.

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It takes a bit of courage to speak up when it’s needed, especially in a climate where there’s a tendency to look down or look away, but it feels good when it’s the right thing.

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It feels like soaring and gaining the perspective that comes from pulling away from “what’s expected” when those expectations are limiting.

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From the personal and spiritual perspectives, this strength I develop in the workplace fortifies my individuality and my commitment to speak up when I need to. I’m developing the muscles to do what I need to do and say what I need to say, without apology, without worrying about “taking up space.”  It’s time to be a little wild when wildness gets the job done.

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If you’ve got a wild spirit, too, I hope you’ll join me in roaring when you need to, and even just when you feel like it!

Equipose

The second card of the spread, in the position for “how to best heal and grow,” is Divine Perfection.

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“As you grow on your spiritual path, you will eventually become aware of a paradox, two apparently conflicting truths, both of which you resonate with at a deeper level… On one hand, you will be seeking growth and development… The fulfillment of your innate spiritual blueprint… happens as you experience change, growth, healing and transformation.

“However, there is a second truth on the spiritual path that applies to all beings, even those gifted with the ability to transform themselves. This second truth is perfection. There is nothing to do, no change to go through, no healing that needs to take place, because in the inner truth of your nature, you are already divine, whole and perfect.

“Use the inner knowing of the divine wholeness of you to bring you peace as you evolve and grow on your divine path.”

–Alana Fairchild, Crystal Mandala Oracle

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A few months back, I came across an old photo of myself that an acquaintance from my youth had posted on facebook. This facebook friend was a former student of my mom’s, when my mom taught at a tiny island school in the Pacific Northwest. My mom’s student was a child in the photo, and I was a teen. It was taken on a day that had completely slipped my memory: a glorious summer day, a few weeks before my birthday, when our family had volunteered to help with the island arts festival. My job, on that particular day, was to dress up in the burlap monster costume and entertain the kids. In the photo, I’m reclining in my burlap suit. The monster head lies beside me, and one child sits between my monster feet, leaning on my burlap-clad legs, while another perches on a wicker chair.

I had completely forgotten that day, that monster costume, and those wild children with whom I’d played for hours until we were so tired that we dropped in a heap of giggles and stories.

When I first saw the photo, I didn’t recognize myself. It must have been a random tag, I figured. But the next day, I realized it was me–but what was I doing clothed in burlap? Through the coming days, slowly that afternoon returned to me, and with it, a feeling of complete wholeness. I picked up a piece of myself that had somehow gotten lost along the way.

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When I look at myself in the photo, I can see how I’ve grown, transformed, and healed. In the photo, my shoulders are tight and curve in a bit–I wasn’t comfortable in my skin and my emotional blocks settled in my shoulders. I can remember my insecurities when I look at that image.

I’ve grown so much in the 41 years since that photo was taken, shedding the emotional blocks, settling into my body, becoming comfortable with who I am, and healing from wounds and oversights. I’ve lived a lifetime of transformation and change, and in many ways, I’m not the same person.

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And yet, at the same time, I am. And that moment, that glorious afternoon, was perfection. Sure, we could rattle off a million things that weren’t right: but that moment was perfect.

As is every moment, for inside each moment, perfection lies.

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This is what this card means, this message of growth and healing: Yes, we grow, change, shift, transform. And at the same time, perfection forms the core of every moment. There is no need to change, and nothing to change, while at the same time, everything changes.

Rebel Spirit

The third card presents the message of “special gifts and blessings.” The third card in this reading is Divine Rebel.

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“Divine rebels shake things up, create a divine disturbance and refuse to play by the rules. They do this because they love divine love! They know there is nothing as powerful as the unconditional love of the Divine… If there is a rule that gets in the way of that love, then the divine rebel will find another way so that love can have its way… Divine rebels are not always understood, but they are respected by those who are ready to make love more important than fear, and who are willing to contribute constructively towards healing the world.

“The divine rebel does things that break stereotypes wide open. They dance when they are supposed to be sitting still. They argue when they are supposed to be quiet. They are serene when they are supposedly meant to be enraged. And they get angry when they are meant to be calm. This is natural for a rebel… because this is how they were divinely designed.

“When the Oracle of Divine Rebel comes to you, you are being acknowledged as one of the ones who are different and who are here to stir up loving truths in your own particular way… Maybe you… don’t necessarily fit in completely to any one social group… Maybe you… think differently and maybe you worry sometimes that you are even a bit weird…

“If you try to clip your wings and your wild streak to ‘join the real world,’ you’ll feel as though you are abandoning yourself.”

–Alana Fairchild, Crystal Mandala Oracle

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Early in 2017, I had a few painful instances when others pointed out that I was weird.

You’d think, at my age, after a lifetime of being considered weird that I’d have become used to it! The thing is: I actually thought that I’d been accepted by these two groups (one, the SimLit community, and the other, my family) for my weirdness.

Turns out–not so much.

Around this time, I got together with a good friend, and over coffee, I shared with her these two instances and my hurt.

My friend protested that I wasn’t weird. A few days later, she suggested in an email that I join a support group so that I can “ONCE AND FOR ALL, get it thru [my] head that [I am] NOT WEIRD.”

As well-intentioned as her advice was, it didn’t help. It gave a message that didn’t fit my experience: If I am normal then this disconnect that I feel so often between myself and other less eccentric people and groups is somehow… an illusion? Not real? Imagined? If I am normal, then maybe I need to act, speak, create, write, and be in a more conforming manner?

For a few months, then, I tried to reel it in. My friend had suggested that maybe I don’t share my insights, opinions, and perspectives so readily. I made an attempt at following this advice. I felt miserable. I felt stifled.

How much better I felt when I drew this card and read that, yes, I am indeed weird, and yes, it’s how I fulfill my purpose!

My friend’s advice might work for her, but it doesn’t work for me!

I am going to be my full weird self, in all my weirdness, and all my wildness, poised between perfection and growth!

When I think of it, all the people I love the most are weird.

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Even my historical idols: J. S. Bach, Jane Austen, Beethoven, Brahms, George Eliot, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Zora Neale Hurston, Glenn Gould–each has been branded “weird” and I love them all!

Then let me be weird!

All those I love best are weird, and we’ll form a collective of happy, weird, wild souls, full of love, and roaring at the moon with our heartfelt declarations of the truth that is at the heart of all wisdom: IT IS LOVE, BABY, AND NOTHING ELSE!

That’s what matters. And that’s what’s free. If you’re weird, you can join us, too!

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This is my birthday song: wild, perfect, weird, and free.

Liebster! peatock’s Questions

Yes! The Liebster rolls around again! I’m happy and honored to be nominated by peatock/losebetter! His intriguing legacy starts midway through the generations, which adds the charm of a fully and organically developed backstory by the time we meet our first characters. I’m really enjoying his story–and his artwork is delicious! If you haven’t visited The Velasco Legacy yet, check it out!

Here are peatock’s questions:

  1. let’s get right into it: why do you do it? what draws you to writing simlit, however you write it? do you have other creative projects? if so, how does writing simlit differ from those in a way you enjoy enough to balance it?

    The why: Comes a time for me when it’s more inconvenient, distracting, and itchy NOT to write a SimLit story than to write it, and the reason I write is so as not to be inconvenienced, distracted and itched by the not-writing. I really do try to practice restraint, especially this past year, because I am busy (busier at some times than others) and I do have a lot of other creative projects. But when three-quarters of my mind gets tied up in a SimLit story that’s waiting to be written, then I’ll write.

    I suppose the deeper why is that Simming and writing SimLit provide me with an effective tool to process themes or questions. I’m beginning a Murkland Starter Challenge, and the ostensible reason for writing it is to process my questions about living in a world with a breaking-apart jet stream, melting polar caps, and increasing magnetization of the earth’s atmosphere. Then, all these other themes, like multiple universes, cross-incarnation communication, and dream/reality tensions are starting to come up, so I guess I’m wanting to explore them.

    The real reason is because it’s fun, which to me means “stimulating, satisfying, engaging, and rewarding.”

    I do have loads of other creative projects: I play cello and piano, I cook, I garden, I practice yoga, I sometimes draw and am likely about to return to it, I teach, and I’m a web-editor. I suppose all of life is creative!

    So how does SimLit differ from my other creative activities or balance them? It’s quite different from music, and I often use my cello practice sessions to settle into the next chapter I’ll be writing. I’ll often review the themes or goals of the upcoming chapter before I practice, then while I play Bach, the direction of the new chapter begins to reveal itself. Like music, cooking, gardening, yoga, and drawing happen in the physical realm, with actual concrete matter, so they’re a nice grounding balance to the virtual and electronic aspect of Simming and writing SimLit.

    My teaching and web-editor activities are both so closely related to writing SimLit that when they are demanding, it’s challenging to find balance. This past year, with developing a new online writing class and overseeing a huge web-migration project, writing SimLit has had to take a backseat. Fortunately, the new class begins in a few days, and we launch the new websites this week, so I’m foreseeing all sorts of creative energy being freed up to return to my SimLit projects!

  2. how long have you been writing simlit? what originally piqued your interest about the medium?

    I’ve been writing earnestly since September 2014, with TS4’s release.

    Before then, I had a few false starts. I started on the Exchange back in TS2, but it was so laggy and cumbersome to upload pictures and input text that I abandoned it. Plus, I was addicted to playing TS2, and anything that came between me and playtime was a bother. In TS3, I posted a few legacies on the forums–but they got removed, I guess because of adult content or someone objected, which is pretty funny, seeing as I write mostly scandal-less work. But Tiger, the gen 2 legacy heir, was the love-child of my SimSelf and (a married) D’Andre Wolffe, so maybe that was a bit much for some readers?

    What piqued my interest were candi020765’s and ephemeraltoast’s stories back in the TS2 days. I stole a lot of hours from other projects reading those stories! They were magic to me.

  3. you’ve all written a LOT, and in a short time. what motivates you to get up and do it as often as you do? if you get writer’s block, how do you work through it?

    With Goofy Love, I made the goal of keeping the writing in sync with the game-play. So I’d play in the evening, and write the next morning. At first, I was writing so I could play. Then, I started to fall in love with the act of writing–it felt good! And I would play so I could write!

    I think I must have had a back-log of stories I wanted to write. I also, up until fall 2016, had the creative energy to write. Both of my jobs were in stable and undemanding phases, so I had a lot of daydream time, and SimLit fit into this perfectly. I could play one evening and let the story reveal itself; I could continue weaving the story during  light-weight office work the next day, and then I could write the story that evening. It was a fun and immersive cycle.

    That all changed this year when I got two big work projects, one for each job. Without the free hours for daydreaming, and with having to direct so much creative and organizational energy into my work projects, my writing really slowed down. I’m still happy with what I produced, though! I’ll probably keep the slow pace for a while and aim at steady updates, rather than the rather cyclonic pace I wrote at for the first two years.

    Oh, but what motivates me? That itch. That funny feeling in the brain that there’s something I need to explore.

    I don’t really get writer’s block because I feel pretty in-tune with my creative cycles and creative energy, so when I notice that it needs to flow or be directed elsewhere, I just go with that. I do take a lot of breaks from stories and start new ones when I need to, so that keeps writer’s block at bay. Often, for me at least, the feeling of “writer’s block” really just signals that I need more time for ideas to steep. The brew’s not ready yet. I always know that if a story really wants to be written, it’ll keep itching me until I write it.

  4. whether you’re writing game-driven or plot-driven simlit, sometimes the characters get finicky, and don’t always do what you expect. who’s one sim from your story or stories who has surprised you? either with how much you love them, what reader response has been, or how they’ve developed over time?

    Without a doubt, it’s Sugar Maple Bough. I won’t spoil it because I don’t think you’re yet at her amazing acts of self-determination–and how she spreads her radical call to other Sims. But let me just say that she blew my mind. She blew it so much, in fact, that I’ve sort of separated that whole experience from my memory of my Simming life. It didn’t really happen that way, did it? It’s myth.

    But actually, it did happen that way, and Sugar changed my understanding of what a Sim is and what Sims are capable of.

    Sugar still blows me away whenever I see her in game. She simply shines. She’s not a show-off, like some super-smart Sims are. And she’s not stubborn. She’s simply aware.

  5. how much does setting factor into your story? this can mean set building, or simply the space(s) your sims occupy. do you find you have an idea of the space’s “personality” and how it develops the same way you do your sims?

    Setting factors into my story and game a lot! I’ll often choose which game to play based on which world (save) I want to visit. And each seems to be integrated with the themes that develop in the story which comes from that save.

    I definitely do have a feel for each setting’s personality, mood, and tone, and it affects both the game-play and the story.

    I’m really enjoying the Murkland Starter Challenge right now because the world that Brennachan created for it is so funny, charming, quirky, and vibrant. And the game’s engine picked right up on that and has been creating Townies to match.

  6. if you had to assign yourself three traits like we do our sims, which ones would they be, and why? do you think others would assign the same traits to you?

    I’ve got tons of Sim traits! Goofball, glutton, good, active and lazy (both), creative, art-lover, music-lover, vegetarian, loner, cheerful, bookworm… But to narrow it to three, these three seem to result in SimSelves most like me:  Loves Outdoors, Creative, Goofball

    I think others would probably assign those traits to me… if there was a “weird, eccentric, quirky” trait, I have a suspicion that many members of the SimLit community would assign that to me. But I honestly don’t think I’m weirder, more eccentric, or quirkier than your average random game-generated Townie!

  7. another in that vein: if you had skill levels the way sims do, which skill do you think you would max out first?

    Oddly enough, logic. I’m not a chess-player (though I’ve lived all my adult life with one!), but when I took the GREs back in my early 30’s, my logic score was my highest. I wish I’d max out something musical, but though I’ve been playing cello for seven years and piano nearly all my life, I’m only at about level 6 and 7-8, respectively, for those skills.

  8. the sims is a storytelling platform – but it’s also a game! c: what other games are you drawn to, or what genre? what’s one you’ve played recently and enjoyed?

    Last summer, I was quite addicted to Lumosity’s train-track game and their barista game!

    Since I got busy with work, I haven’t really played a lot of other games. Since I miss my Sims, I’m not ready for other games yet, but when I do play more, I’ll probably go back to Lumosity because I love mind-training games. I just love puzzles and the way my brain feels after a good work-out!

  9. i know these can be fighting words, but i have to ask: what potential functionalities of the game in the future are you most excited about, from a storytelling perspective? 

    I really, really, really want pets! And weather. And university! From a storytelling perspective, pets interests me most because I want to do a mastressalita and write a story from a four-legged’s perspective. I want to play a dog legacy. 🙂

  10. what’s one game mod or piece of custom content you love, and why? if you don’t play with mods/CC, why not? do you think your experience has been different to people who broaden the game with mods/CC?

    I must play with MCCC because it allows for no Sims getting culled! While I was playing the legacy, I was modless for legacy compliance, and culling was heartbreaking, especially when my founder and all the legacy ghosts got culled. For a while, a few of us were trying to develop a play-style that prevented or at least limited culling. But having MCCC removed that need and opened up the game in all sorts of beautiful ways!

  11. in honor of pride month! ❤ do you have any LGBT/queer sims in your stories? if you do, share some information about them – what are they like, and why do you like them? how does their queerness factor into who they are and how you play the game/tell their story?
    I have lots! I play in a “true-love” style, which means that the only romances that happen in the game happen autonomously or through whim-fulfillment. (Of course, MCCC is a match-maker, too.) 

    One of my favorite couples was my first lesbian couple in-game, Manzanita and her beautiful wife, Eleanor. I’d had a really hard time finding anyone that Manzanita liked–she kept fighting with all the guys who showed an interest in her. And then, when I noticed the way she and Eleanor looked at each other and when I watched their body language and the physical space around them, I lightened up the control, gave Manzy lots of free reign when El was a round, and soon enough, while dancing together at that spot on Cradle Rock where all the generations dance, they fell in love.

    Because I let the Sims choose their romantic involvement, and probably because I’m an ace, myself, I have a lot of ace Sims. I also have a lot of Sims with nontraditional gender expression–I think this, too, is partly reflective of my personal style and partly reflective of the nature of the game.

    I’m not really sure how my Sims’ queerness factors in to how I tell the story. For the most part, I present their sexual orientation and gender expression as an integral part of who they are, something which I accept as part of them. If they seem to accept that aspect of themselves–and if those around them do, too–then in the story, it’s simply (or complexly) integrated into their identity. When they seem to question or resist who they are–or when those around them do–this becomes part of the story, too.

    This resistance was part of the tension with Mesquite and Paris, back in Gen 2 of Goofy Love. Their body language, physical proximity, and conversations often pointed towards attraction between them. But neither wanted to act on this and both became involved in rather unusual heterosexual relationships. I was still feeling my way through understanding Sims when I was writing that part, so I didn’t make much of it in the story, but when I think back on Mesquite and Paris, their denial of their attraction to each other forms a central part of their stories, to me.


peatock, thanks so much for these questions and for the nomination! I’ve received another nomination, so I’ll wait until after I accept it to make my nominations. Stay tuned! 🙂