My Cult Life Forum – Open Membership

In December I started a Master’s Commission Support Forum for former members of Master’s Commission. Since then, many others have joined the group. I’ve decided to expand the membership to include anyone who has read my blog and come from a similar background/story/experience. Membership is free, confidential and on a secret Facebook group. Members of all faiths or questioning their faith are welcome. The rest of the rules/guidelines exist here. Please read them in full before requesting to join.

To join: 

Contact me with your request and include your Facebook associated email address.

Friend request me on my Facebook profile.

I look forward to connecting with you in the group!

I Didn’t Cry

A run down of my second MMA class via Facebook status updates:

mma fb posts

mma army crawl fb post mma didn't cryThe key is-I didn’t cry. I wanted to, but I stopped myself. This actually came in handy the other night when I started my first Computer Science class. Not sure what it is about me and trying all the things that intimidate me and make me want to cry, but I seem to be on a kick of doing ALL THE HARD THINGS.

 

Art I Found While Looking Around

artI originally found this on Pinterest. It comes from an artist named Ivo van der Ent, who hails from the Netherlands and was published in a Singapore-based digital magazine named Kult.

negative space

This beauty is from the Malaysian artist Tang Yau Hoong.

global warming

This poster was created by Japanese designer Shimura Norita in 2006. It’s titled “Global warming.”

For more like this, follow me on Pinterest.

That Time I Decided to Get a Computer Science Degree

So, apparently my list of Things I’ve Always Wanted To Do just expanded to get a degree in Computer Science. I know, I know. You’re all wondering ‘what the fuck?’ Don’t get too insulting, now. It’s not really that far off base. It doesn’t seem as likely as maybe a degree in writing, but I have that. The only way I can manage to explain everyone’s complete and utter shock is that sometimes I keep my most intimidating dreams to myself–hidden far away, so deep that I can barely find them. That’s what happened with this interest in computers and that’s what happened with boxing. That, coupled with the idea that I was too old to go back to school or too bad at math, led me to be too afraid to try it. Well, yesterday that changed.

But to backtrack, I’ve had quite a bit of experience over the years with software in corporate environments and I’m always the one who can learn how to use the programs instantly and train other people on them. Sometimes I’ve managed issues within the programs and sometimes I’m just good at improving business processes related to databases. It wasn’t something I thought I would like-or be good at-and it wasn’t something my idealistic self thought I would want to stay involved in. But the constant mental challenge kept me busy–it kept my depression and anxiety at bay sometimes. It gave me complex problems to solve and the confidence to manage my own personal problems. I have very little evidence to prove this, but I think it’s making me healthier.

Shocked or not, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I run a blog. I’m also obsessed with technology and the Internet–not just the social media side of things either. I want to know how things work–all of the things. I’ve found myself having conversations with tech savvy friends and being so mesmerized by all the things I didn’t know, but when it occurred to me that I should get to know more about it I dismissed it as something I couldn’t do. The concept of possibly starting a new degree all over was sure as hell not a high priority and the idea of learning to program was definitely scary. Could I do it? Was I smart enough?

I had my doubts.

I’ve met a lot of people who are self-taught in the tech world and most of them are men. I finally admitted to myself that I’m also self-taught and have quite a bit more technical knowledge than I give myself credit for. I proved it in some of my jobs. Hell, I even have more knowledge than some of the men I know who do this for a living. (Not all of them, of course, but why deny that I am good at what I do?)

I’ve been debating since last summer what to do with my life and it’s been an ever-changing journey. I don’t have it all figured out, but I do have some experience with what I like. I also have the luxury of having some time and space to explore my options. Yesterday I just thought “Why not? I could do it.” And after struggling with it at great depths and bothering my friends with my doubt, I decided to do it. If I can’t figure something out, there’s always the tutoring department.

But what if I CAN figure it out? I was in the college Honors program. I’m definitely smarter than I give myself credit for.

What if it comes naturally to me? I already do some of this as a hobby and for work. Why not actually be formally taught?

What if I enjoy it? I have enough experience to know that I probably will enjoy it quite a bit.

Why would I want to live my whole life without knowing what it feels like to try something challenging? I wouldn’t. I don’t.

limitsA few months ago I dated a guy who had previously wanted to be a Computer Science major. How cool, I thought. My second thought was a bit more disturbing and it’s one I had to challenge to be able to show up to class: That’s something boys do. 

When I showed up to class, my worst fear came true. I was the only girl in the class. It really did bother me and it intimidated me. We’ve been taught that boys are better at math and science than girls, while it’s categorically untrue. This lack of any women in the room really played with my doubt that I would be good enough to be in this program. I started thinking maybe they were all better at computers than I was or maybe they knew more than me.

And I was wrong.

The professor asked us who had ever put together a website. I raised my hand. Two other guys did as well. The majority of the class hadn’t. Not only had I put together a website, I manage three and I have managed them at work, too. The professor let us know that it’s okay if we were just starting out because that’s what the class was for.

With my obsession with MMA, I’m on quite the “challenge my limits” kick right now. It just feels like the right thing to do. It feels empowering. I may not be able to do everything, but I want to do the things I’m good at. I want to explore and live so fully that I’ve uncovered all the things that fascinate me about the world. Why stop at just being good at one thing? Why stop learning? Why do one thing and only one thing? I’ve often referred to the lead singer of Bad Religion as my model for life. He’s a college professor, rock star and author. I’m sure plenty of people said he couldn’t do all three things but I don’t think he gave a fuck. Likewise, I have no fucks to give. Writing books will always be my biggest lifelong passion, but I like this other stuff too. And who says writers can’t do other things, as well?

Quite a few famous writers did other things for work. Two of them are mentioned here:

Joseph Heller thrived in magazine advertising by day and wrote Catch-22 in the evenings, sitting at the kitchen table in his Manhattan apartment. “I spent two or three hours a night on it for eight years,” he said. “I gave up once and started watching television with my wife. Television drove me back to Catch-22.”

Wallace Stevens and T. S. Eliot were…successful at mixing poetry and business: While working as a banker, Eliot took literary meetings on his lunch breaks and wrote in the evenings; Stevens, an insurance lawyer, even scribbled scraps of verse at the office and had his secretary type them up. “I find that having a job is one of the best things in the world that could happen to me,” Stevens once said. “It introduces discipline and regularity into one’s life. I am just as free as I want to be and of course I have nothing to worry about about money.”

Proof of last night's class. Lab 1 complete!
Proof of last night’s class. Lab 1 complete!

Shit’s About to Get Real

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Yesterday I went to pick up a few things for my MMA class. After hitting the boxing bag 400 times the other night I decided I needed my own hand wraps. You know shit’s about to get real when I start buying equipment.

Make no mistake, I’m in the beginning stages of training and my ultimate goal right now is to get in shape. If I ever compete, it will be for fun and it won’t be until at least a year from now. Brazilian jiu-jitsu and boxing are technical combat sports and require a lot of practice. Anyone would be naive to think you could pick up any of this within a few weeks.

But all that being said, when I step into the gym, the best part is when we fight each other. I never, ever thought I would say this but I love fighting. I got hit in the face the other day and didn’t even care. I laughed it off and kept going at the guy. (Yes, the guy.) Class is really fun–even if it’s like being in the military during boot camp–and I’m so glad I found this sport.

What Makes Me Feel Beautiful

Someone recently asked me the question “What makes you feel beautiful?” I smiled and I thought about this new guy I’d met named Jay*. A few days ago we were talking before bed and he texted me “Good night, beautiful.” It wasn’t the first time he’d said it and there had been other men who said it to me recently–that I was beautiful, or sexy–but when he said it, it made me feel beautiful. It made me blush. I got that warm feeling in my stomach that all crushes start with. I liked hearing it from him. I knew he meant it and it wasn’t about sex or trying to get on my good side. It was sincere.

Just last night, though, I had one final talk-turned-argument (for closure’s sake) with the person I’d spent the past three plus years in love with. I’d told Jay about him and Jay asked me what it would take for me to get over him. It made me think for the first time that maybe there was someone out there that would be worth getting over him. Someone who made me feel the same way. I thought the answer would be that when I lost weight and got (what I considered) hot again, but the more Jay asked me certain questions, the more I realized I could-and should-get over him now. Why wait for someone who didn’t even tell me I was beautiful when there was someone who had no hangups about telling me now?

When I was talking to the now ex-love last night, I started thinking about the fact that he never once called me beautiful. When I would ask him if he liked my hair or something I was wearing, he wouldn’t even answer. One time he said he liked brunettes and later I died my hair brown and he said it didn’t look good. I wasn’t used to this. Usually men had no problem complimenting me or finding me attractive, and although I didn’t expect it (nor did I always believe they were sincere), I appreciated it.

It really bothered me–this inability for the ex-love to compliment how I looked. Of course there were many other amazing traits that made me fall in love with him in the first place, but this was something that hurt me. And it wasn’t something I’d read on Cosmo’s “Ten Signs Your Man Isn’t The One.” (Just kidding, maybe I do read Cosmo.) It was something I started realizing hurt me even deeper than I thought as the result of receiving compliments from someone else I started caring about. It wasn’t about the compliments. It was the ability Jay had to actually verbalize how I made him feel and how he saw me. Communication is key and if you feel that someone is amazing or attractive, shouldn’t you be able to say it?love

I think that’s why it made it much more meaningful when Jay said it. He told me I was beautiful in a moment where I least expected it. I had just finished saying “I can’t date you. You’re too young and you live far away. I can’t do long distance anymore.” He said he understood about the distance and we discussed why his age would be problematic and then before we got offline, he said “Good night, beautiful.” I blushed. I felt butterflies. Magic. All of it. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t like Jay. It was that I did like him but I’d tried a few long distance relationships and they just didn’t work.

But still, his compliments continued, despite that we started meeting other people and my feelings for him grew the more we talked and the more I felt understood deeply by him. And as his compliments continued, I realized what I loved about them was the fact that he said how he felt and if I was going to “get away” then he was going to make sure I knew how he felt about me.

What woman doesn’t want that?

*Not his real name.

 

The Importance of Sharing Your Experiences

National Alliance on Mental Illnesss (NAMI) shared this on their Facebook page yesterday:

“Me telling my story today is a testament to the power of providing outlets like IOOV [NAMI In Our Own Voice], where people can feel safe putting words to their experiences when everyone else expects them to remain silent.” ~ Hakeem Rahim yesterday following testimony he provided to Congress. (Emphasis my own.)

“Everyone else expects them to remain silent” is a powerful way of putting it. Everyone deserves to feel safe when talking about mental illness.

I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy for me to talk about what I struggle with. It’s not. I’m not even suggesting you all start opening up to everyone about mental illness. I do think finding one or two people you can trust to talk to, who won’t judge you and who are empathetic, can make a world of difference.

//

If you or someone you know is having a difficult time, I’ve gathered some resources from Tumblr. Or you can chat with someone live (and for free) right here.

As always, I love hearing your stories, especially if something I’ve said has helped you in any way. Feel free to contact me here. (Note: I am not always able to respond to email due to my schedule but I read and cherish every message I receive. It also should be said that I am a writer, not a therapist, so I cannot offer any professional opinions.)

 

Dreaming and Doing

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This is the kind of thing that drives me. Sometimes I just make a list and start doing cool shit. Why? Because I’m cool as fuck.

No, that’s a lie.

As anyone knows, I’m as shy and scared as the next person. I attempt to live bravely every single day but it’s tough. Even though I am in the middle of living my dreams, it takes courage to keep trying new things. Living your dreams doesn’t mean you’ll never be afraid. It means you will sometimes do things afraid and sometimes do things terribly, but you will do them.

My advice to you is that you should do ALL THE THINGS! Life is too short not to live your dreams, or at least try to go for them. Hell, while you’re at it, bring some friends along.

I’m a dreamer. I’m constantly making a list of things I’ve always wanted to do. I was starting to hit a wall last year when I found that almost everything I’d ever dreamed of doing had been accomplished. So I had to make a new list.

Here’s my new list of Things I’ve Always Wanted to Do:

  1. Take another road trip to the mountains. Camp. Explore. Hike. Take photos. This time, on my own, or with a few friends.
  2. Write a novel. Or, more accurately, finish my novel.
  3. Publish said novel.
  4. Take an art class. I sketch and draw but have no formal training. I would love some!
  5. Take a class on screenwriting and film making.
  6. Write and produce a film.
  7. Take a class on boxing/fighting.
  8. Fight in a ring just once.
  9. Create something on YouTube.
  10. Give a TED talk about something meaningful.
  11. Renew my love of blogging and connecting with people around the world.
  12. Learn more about web development.
  13. Start and complete just one video game.

What’s on your list? Share it with me in the comments.

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