Be gentle with your file name

Instead of labeling the script I’m currently working on with a draft number or date I started on, I called it a Free Write.

So now every time I open the document it’s telling me “Just get some words in and play around.”

It helps to see that first thing every time I sit down to write.

Parenting a they/them kiddo

Janet from The Good Place: Enby Icon

I haven’t written much here about parenting a non-binary child. Part of that is the urge to roll out a long, all-encompassing post.

So instead of letting that stay a mental block, let me get the ball rolling with one recent anecdote.

Sprout went over to their gym teacher (with some backup from their BFF) and said that it makes them uncomfortable when the class gets divided into boys and girls to make teams or for different activities. Sprout wanted to make sure the teacher knew that they weren’t a boy or a girl, and dividing the class this way made it so they couldn’t fit in.

The gym teacher listened, and a compromise was made that Sprout would get to choose which group they did activities with each class.

I’m always proud when Sprout acts as their own advocate, but standing up to a teacher? That’s a bold move.

And right now, while they’re still young, the compromises and accommodations will be this easy.

A friend brought up the prospect of what’s going to happen once we get to middle school and locker rooms become part of the conversation. I said I wasn’t mentally prepared to think that far ahead.

But I know a few things about Sprout already. When they first shared their nonbinary identity with their mom and me, they said “I don’t feel like a girl or a boy. I don’t know if this is how I’ll always feel, but it’s how I feel right now.” We took them at their word, and continue to do so.

But I do know that they saw us as trusted people who they could come to with big, important things. And in seeing how they’ve approached sharing this identity and taking ownership of it, I know they have a lot of inner strength.

The potential problems they may have down the road could be completely different than anything we’re thinking about now, so why spend the energy on those fears?

Right now we have a child we love, who feels safe and respected with us, and who feels confident and proud of who they are. That’s where the focus needs to stay at the moment. That’s enough.

If you meet a Jedi Master on the road, kill him.

Last week’s newsletter was all about hero worship and toxic fandoms.

The topic took shape while talking with Dena about the way that some fandoms seem to be about elevating the character or creator, while others seem more balanced toward recognizing how the show/movie/character/etc. helps fans to lift themselves up.

Even within an individual fandom there’s that tension between the toxic and the transformative.

Look at Star Wars. That contrast between people making zines, cosplay, art, etc. and finding something they can create and add to the story vs. people who act as if complaining about The Last Jedi counts as a fully formed personality.

It’s the difference between yelling “That’s not how Luke’s supposed to be!” and asking “What could make Luke change like this, and can I relate to that?”

If a character or a piece of art gets held up like an idol for worship, it creates that us-versus-them friction. “Either love the thing we do the same way we do, or you’re nothing like us.”

A character or work held up as a mirror offers a chance to see yourself.

Going back to The Last Jedi, I love the ending of the film so much. A stable boy seen earlier in the film shows a small ability to use the force, and looks to the night sky, holding a broom as an imagined sword.

BTW his name is Temiri Blagg, because every being in every shot of every Star War has a name.

His brief contact with the Resistance gave him an opportunity to imagine himself as something more. The movie ending on this minor character in a moment of reflection seems to call out to the viewer: Don’t mourn the passing of your heroes—prepare to step into their shoes.

Put another way, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.

The Stop Doomscrolling Shortcut

In looking for simple ways to help stay more mindful, I made an iOS shortcut for when I catch myself doomscrolling.

The problem I have comes when I realizing I’m just doomscrolling, but can’t move myself away. So I gave myself a clear next thing to do whenever I find myself in that spot.

The setup for the shortcut.

The part about it that makes it simple for me: I can just tell Siri the thing I want to do.

Then, I get this:

DND Lock Screen photo taken at a bookshop/cafe in Reykjavik.

Three things happen to disrupt the doomscrolling paralysis:

  1. The phone is locked, pulling me out of whatever app I was in.
  2. Do Not Disturb turns on for a short period giving me a moment to step back and think about what I want to do instead.
  3. A Notification prompts me with a question to consider.

Maybe this will be an effective countermeasure for me?

Filling a void

“I was never addicted to one thing, I was addicted to filling a void within myself with things other than my own love.”

Yung Pueblo (via Swiss Miss)

It’s easy to say that it’s falling down a rabbit hole on Twitter. Or following a chain of recommended videos on YouTube.

Planning out a new keyboard build when I don’t actually need another one. Thinking through a new task management system when the old one would work fine if I used it instead of ignoring it to seek out something better.

But it’s all just filling time instead of using it.

Looking for something that’s already there, like a person with their glasses perched on top of their head.

My therapist keeps asking “What would it look like if you accepted yourself?” I haven’t had a good answer.

But I think what it wouldn’t look like is this dopamine-seeking loop. Hungry for something outside myself, but never really feeling full.

I always have a better day when I’m in the moment, with myself, paying attention and acknowledging what I care about.

But it’s often easy to let that slip. Not just because of how easy it is to find distraction, but how quickly the impulse to evade the present moment can take hold.

I would like to learn to be better at accepting the discomfort of the moment without having to expect that the result will be positive. That the outcome isn’t what gives something its value, but that the effort itself holds value.

And maybe that can help fill that void.