Crusade to Glory!

As regular readers of this blog will know my friemesis, Shep and I have been really changing our mindset from a tourney-oriented hyper competitive point of view to a more narrative driven. While this has been happening for the last couple of years, it takes time to change and we haven’t been rushing it. There are a few different reasons for this, and I will be getting into that in a future post, but for right now, let’s just accept that we are competitive players who are really enjoying narrative. With the release of the Indomitus set for 40k, there were a few interesting things, but one of the most was the new narrative play called Crusade. The Goonhammer blog has a pretty comprehensive write up and review of the rules for it for Warhammer 40k.

Trust me, this is an Age of Sigmar post, but before we get there I needed to talk a little bit of 9th Edition Warhammer 40,000 and give you a frame of reference. Now, Shep and I started up our new factions for the year, me with Ossiarch Bonereapers – The Harvesters of Sorrow – and he is growing his Stormcast Eternals collection – The Knights Invictus – with a slight focus on the Warrior and Vanguard chambers.

This is our third themed year of doing this sort of thing. First was my Nighthaunts vs. the proto version of his Knights Invictus, and that was a very fun year which started with a very basic small first game that saw the soul of one of his leaders captured within the magical lock of a Spirit Torment and then had to get it back. It culminated with the Knights charging through a Realmgate to recover him and establishing a foothold within Shyish.

Boo!

Last year it was a 40k year and after an abortive start trying out Nurgle it eventually ended with the birth of my Harlequins, The Masque of the Sanguine Dawn. Overall, the year ended up being a bit less narrative and kind of fell apart at the end of the year due to a personal tragedy and some overall disappointing outcomes in trying to set up games beyond just the two of us. That being said, I am pretty happy with how they ended up looking.

Joke’s on you!

This year, we decided to do AoS again and had really big plans for 2020 like the rest of the planet and then COVID happened. Despite that, Shep and I have been working away at our armies and the narrative and even managed to get in a couple of games. We started out using the Path to Glory rules as we developed the narrative. Quick aside, we like to not plan too far ahead, or be too restrictive and let the results of the game kind of influence the flow of where we go.

Unfortunately, the Path to Glory wasn’t really working for us. It didn’t even really give you much of an idea of how to play your army, which is something we were really hoping for in order to help us determine how to grow our forces into something that was interesting visually, story wise, and didn’t absolutely suck on the table. We’d already begun talking about maybe just scrapping the Path to Glory and kind of home-brewing something, which isn’t our go-to because we are still evolving as gamers from competitive tourney players and that just seemed a bridge too far.

And then Indomitus happened. There was that initial rush of new game excitement and we even talked about maybe switching the year to a 40k year (dibs on Necrons!). Games Workshop is really leaning into the multiple ways to play angle (narrative, matched, open), and there was a little bit about Crusade. It seemed much more inline with the kind of gamine we wanted to do and we ended up taking the dive into some home-brew work. Having the structure of Crusade really made it feel more proper to us, and seemed to provide the necessary framework we were looking for. Shep is “running” the narrative campaign this year (I did the last AoS one) and he dove into making the necessary tweaks with a bit of feedback and input from me.

Kyrush the Unyielding, Troika of the Crown Transcendant, Lord Beyond Time, Conquerer of the Oblate Eternal, Bringer of the Ruin of Nations, Master of the Field.

I am pleased to say that it is working out really well for us so far. Giving all of your units names, and watching them “level up” is a nice little bit of helping us own the game and our choices in game. Occasionally the question will arise, “What would Kyrush the Unyielding do?” and that has led to some very memorable moments which will be forthcoming posts in this series.

The Harvesters of Sorrow

If you are interested in taking a look at the ruleset we are using, go for it! Feel free to adapt it to your own liking or run it straight as is.

We also are just using a simple excel spreadsheet to keep track of our units and their glory, experience, and happenings. Here is a look at mine, again feel free to use as you see fit. (this is after the first game – so you can see some experience, etc).

Next time I will share with you the narrative bit that I started writing at the beginning of our campaign and then following that a narrative writeup of the games we have played so far. Thanks for making it this far and let me know what you think!

Just Checking In

Let me apologize in advance for this post that basically could have just a tweet, but I am super busy right now, even by my standard of normally busy. I am posting this because it is one of my intentions for the year to be more active in blogging, and less active in other social media and I have found over the past few days that I need to do one or the other. Mostly because I like the digital sound of my own voice I guess.

Anyway, big congrats to Darrick and Darlene on your wedding and making it work despite the challenges of our time including the closing of the venue for the reception, and torrential rain going along with all the normal stressful things associated with a wedding. We know that there will be many many happy years to come for you guys and we look forward to sharing it with you as family. On a personal note, thanks for giving me an event that is not a funeral to wear a suit to!

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Even in the time of Corona, love and faith both find ways to bring hope and community!

I will write more later this week – I have a few different things I want to write about, and hopefully will have time soon. On the nerd front, I got in a game against my game nemesis and good buddy Ryan, writing is going well as I am finishing up work on book 3 of the Dying of the Dark vampire series, as well as some very small art updates.

Free Books for my Birthday!

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I usually make my first novella, The Monitor, free on Amazon for my birthday. I totally spaced it out this year, but a friend reminded me about it so I made it free now! It is my birthday week, so that is close enough for me – you can get it here! (All the links will open in a new tab/window – also remember, ALWAYS mouseover a link to make sure that it is sending you to where it says it is. Be safe online).

Also, I will probably be taking this down toward the end of the year and then updating and republishing it in an anthology of stories early next year, so get the OG version and see what changes!

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Turns out my writing partner also decided to make The Vampires’ Last Lover, the first book of our take on vampires, free for a few days! That was unexpected but super cool, so go get that for free too! (It would be cool, if you liked it, to leave a review).

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The 49th State of the Self

Today is my birthday, which is always a time to both look back at the year that was and to look forward to the year to come. I decided to spend a bit more time than usual in introspection and to share it here on my blog that I am planning on using much more regularly for a variety of topics on a regular schedule. Intrigued? Keep reading. Also be warned, this blog post will most definitely be TLDR for most.

A lot has happened over the course of my last trip around the sun. I am going to touch slightly on these at the beginning just for context. Some of it has been great, much of it not so much. The biggest thing is obviously the death of my mom, which has eclipsed all else. I still think of her almost daily, and miss her the same. That being said, some other craziness (COVID-19, mass protests, and currently an early fire season and record setting heat, among other things) has had a major effect on most everyone, and I am no exception.

These states are not in order of priority, but they are in an order which will hopefully flow into each of the other states. That is my intention, anyway. Feel free to let me know whether I succeeded or failed.

Professional State

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Like many people today I consider myself to have more than one profession. Call it diversification of revenue, side hustle, or passion project if you prefer. I am going to address each of those in time, starting with the “day job”.

Most of you know that I have worked for Ticketmaster for long time (just hit 10 years on this boomerang there). It is a good company, with great people and fantastic mission. Simply put, we help fans connect with their passion for live entertainment. Whether it be sports, music, theater, monster trucks or whatever, we help it happen. I know lots of people have a knee-jerk dislike for us and that hurts my feelings sometimes because most of the people I know and work with are great people with a shared love for live – myself included.

When my mom’s condition turned for the worst, I talked with my direct supervisor and there was never a question as to what to do. It was “go.” There was no pressure for outstanding work, no checking of available vacation days. No hemming or hawing. Simply support, and for that I will forever be grateful. I got to be with my mom for the last days of her life – both when she was lucid and when she wasn’t. There aren’t a lot of companies with leaders like we have.

Speaking of our leadership, when COVID-19 was just a thing on the news happening overseas, our management was taking a hard look at things to come. They had us working from home a couple of weeks before it was mandated. They didn’t have to do this but they did.

We are an industry that is entirely dependent upon people coming together in large crowds. When you talk about the economy taking a dive, consider the live entertainment market. Almost overnight we went from being on target for a record year, to zero revenue. Our leadership all the way up to the president of Live Nation has been pretty frugal to begin with and there were hopes of a short disruption that we could weather. Unfortunately, we ended up having furloughs and pay cuts for those who remained. While I myself was not furloughed, many of my good friends were. And this hurt a lot and has caused (and continues to cause) some level of anxiety. 

The company has worked to be both open and transparent about the future challenges we face as an industry and company. They also recognized that this so-called “new normal” was anything but. They have provided a number of services such as regular twice weekly meditation by zoom and support for parents to help keep their kids engaged and growing.

Overall I am concerned about the future, but I also still enjoy the work and am grateful to work with some of the most talented and decent human beings I have ever known. That being said, I am currently enrolled in a class for a security certification as it is something that interests me in the field as well as being a valuable skill set to develop.

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On to my other professional passion – writing. I am not going to sugar coat it – writing has been really hard since my mom died. She gave me my love of reading, and some part of me drove me to be a writer to make her proud of me. I feel like I let her down by not achieving greater success.

I did a lot of work on book 2 of the Nash Vegas supernatural series, and that focused on some Civil War era spirits, and in light of the last few months it just feels like this is not the moment to do this book. It will come out at some point, and will be very reworked. I have been working on book 3 of the vampire series – and am very excited for this one. It should be out this fall.

Writing has always been something that I have done for myself first. I enjoy it and process various ideas and characters. Since my mom died, writing has been hard. It hasn’t come easy, and hasn’t even been fun. I expect that to eventually change but it is rough right now.

Mental and Emotional State

I am very much an introvert. As a result the 2020 lockdowns haven’t been terrible for me. I’ve loved spending extra time with my family and having a built in excuse to not have to leave. That being said, we live in a small two bedroom apartment and it is easy to get grouchy with each other. 

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A few years back I was diagnosed with ADHD. The surprise for most who know me was that I wasn’t diagnosed previously. In reality, it was both a shock and a relief. I spent a while coming to terms with that diagnosis and the treatment options, and this last year I feel like I really hit my stride on how to be a functioning neurodiverse person. The combination of medication and BCT and new skills such as meditation and using a bullet journal have been life changing for me both in terms of getting stuff done and in giving myself some compassion for my (many) failures earlier in life. I am trying to carry this compassion and understanding over into helping my own children with their challenges.

Something else that really helped my mental and emotional state was that during this period I read a book called Atomic Habits by James Clear . This book is amazing, and has made such a difference in my life. ADHD gives me a tendency to go all or nothing. Reading the case studies on how small changes add up over time much in the same was compound interest does has really had a positive effect on so many aspects of my life, and gave me the faith that I didn’t have to change a million things at once, or turn a dial from three up to ten.

As mentioned above, my work has given us access to regular meditation and I  have tried a few different apps to help out. I absolutely loved Whil, but as a cost-cutting measure my company doesn’t subscribe to it, and it is a b2b thing only. That being said, Headspace is decent and I have been using both it and Hallow. I prefer Hallow overall, but we do meditation at bed with the kids and the prayer structure and closing by crossing ourselves disturbs and wakes them up and kind of counters the point. That being said, meditation was super hard for someone with ADHD but a couple of things that really helped me were starting out with very short three minute meditations. Also, one of the meditations I followed said something along the lines of “when you catch your mind wandering, congratulate yourself because of this mindfulness”. That was a big breakthrough for me.

Even as an introvert I really get a lot of mental and emotional value out of hanging out with my friends and playing miniature games. This is something I have done for years, and is something that really matters to me. I have used the extra time at home to put a little bit of paint on models at break and lunch during work and as a result have been knocking out some models. I am very happy with how they are looking and those rare opportunities I have had to play games with them have been a blast. Obviously I would like to get more time to paint and play, but I am grateful for what I have and this is one of the very visible places that Atomic Habits have yielded fantastic results.

In terms of an area for improvement here, now that the kids are getting older, I need to make more an effort to play these games with them, and the games that interest them. We play family games a lot, Uno, Boggle, various board games, but they ask questions and love the models I am painting, so I will try and be more inviting to them and willing to play “my” games with them.

This year has also seen me really reconnecting with my catholic faith in a deeper manner. For Lent 2019 I added this image as my phone lock screen.

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A nun designed it and it is laden with symbolism. Death is something we catholics should think about. It would be easy to think the this rough year has shaken my faith, but in actuality it has strengthened it. By facing death – my mom’s, and then thinking about my own as a result, has had the paradoxical effect of a much broader and longer view of things. A decade is not much compared to a century and the century is short when viewed through a millennial lens. My life may be short in comparison, but it is the time I have and what I do and who I am echos down through my children, and then through theirs, and so on. This knowledge of my own ephemeral existence has made me feel connected me to a greater, more lasting one.

Finally, during lockdown I made the conscious decision and put in the effort to get fit. While this has definitely had an emotional effect, I am going to talk about it more detail below.

Physical State

Based on some of the early things I read regarding COVID-19 I was concerned for my safety. I have a bit of extra weight, I had pneumonia as a kid and then a few times as an adult, and also some exercise induced asthma as a kid and just general weak cardio system. I have always thought of myself built more for strength. My mom had recently died, and I didn’t want to do that to my kids. It also seemed to me that being inside all the time would lead to vitamin D deficiency which would make me even more at risk. So I started to take things seriously. I have tried in the past and have had a tendency to jump right in, push myself too hard, and end up with a fairly severe injury. I didn’t want to do this, so I sought out a mentor for health. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to look too far.

Last fall, before the stuff with my mom, I was talking with my friend Ryan, who has lost not only a great amount of weight, but also successfully implemented a number of lifestyle changes that have him in better shape than when he was in high school. He was (and is continuing to be) generous enough to share with me the things that worked for him, and the things that didn’t. One of the first, and most important, things was to track every single thing that goes into your mouth. Overall I never really thought I was eating “bad” but really started keeping track of everything with an app called MyFitnessPal. The first few months the idea was to change nothing at all, just kind of get a baseline and identify. An interesting effect of this was that I found that I cut out beers and sodas almost immediately. I always knew they were basically empty calories, but actually having to enter it and see it just made it not really wroth it. I also started making other changes for the same reason. Anyway, once I had that baseline and the habit of tracking the food, we started playing with the macros (increasing protein, cutting down on processed sugar, etc). Again, just minor tweaks rather than a major change.

I was also not supposed to start exercising anything extra at this point, but for reasons listed above, I decided to start a walking plan which was on the MyFitnessPal blog.

Also, this was pretty early in the US phase of the pandemic so I was able to get a kettlebell which is something I had wanted to get and keep in my car with the idea that I would workout at the parking lot for my work. Fortunately I was able to find one. The recommended weight for males starting is 25-30 pounds, but as I mentioned, I have had a tendency to overdo it in the past so just went with a 20 pounder. In hindsight I wish I would have bought both the 25 and 30 pounders at the time, because they have become very hard to find for a decent price, but live and learn.

After completing the 6 week walking plan, I have continued to walk on a daily basis. Also once I had completed it, I started a very basic kettlebell workout plan from Greg Brookes  – his 4 minute circuits were short enough that even I could not come up with a valid excuse not to do it and I was able to turn that into a habit. 

Overall I have lost nearly 35 pounds since February and am seeing big changes in how my clothes are fitting on me. And these are with just minor but intentional changes – remember Atomic Habits above? Yeah, I have worked really hard to keep that in mind in every aspect of my life.

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Friends, Allies, and Acquaintances 

2020 has been a challenging year. It has also been a year that I have begun to realize that I need to redefine my relationship with social media. ADHD often has addictive behavior components and I have struggled with addiction to video games and, more recently, social media and online in general. Maybe it is FOMO, maybe it is hyper focus. In any event, along with my mindfulness practice it has started to become clear to me that I allow what people write to affect me too much, and in a negative way.

Again, I have to credit and thank Ryan for the following bit of insight as well. People haven’t really changed over the last 30 years and somehow we managed to get on just fine with people. All of those opinions weren’t just in your face all the time. Basically Social Media has made many daily interactions into that awkward Thanksgiving with the family jerk after a few too many drinks. It has a tendency toward bellicosity and offense. And it turns out that I would rather just like people and give them the benefit of the doubt. My dad, who also died way too young, was a very blunt and often crude guy, who said things to shock people. To be fair, that really helped the things he said stick. Anyway, if you are of a delicate humor, I apologize in advance. He used to say “opinions were like assholes. Everybody has one, and they all stink.” Something about social media makes people think that everyone else wants to see their assholes, er, sorry, hear their opinions. And frankly, I’d rather not.

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To that end, I am going to be cutting back on my social media use – particularly Facebook and Twitter, although Instagram as well to a lesser degree. I am still working out the exact schedules and details so watch this space.

Holistic Overview and what the future holds.

So that is where I am at right now. I think it is a pretty fair representation of the last year, and I am happy with the areas I have grown. I believe that there is no true homeostasis in life; that you are either growing or you are dying and that is largely a matter of inertia and choice, and your inertia is determined by your choices. I have often failed to live up to this ideal, but there is value in striving.

I have a lot that I want to say about my mom. She was an amazing, strong, and loving person. She was chronically late and yesterday (the 16th) I felt very out of sorts. I eventually came to the realization that I was expecting a text message from her saying that my birthday card would be late, but that she would get it out. I cried when I realized that, and now writing this, I am crying again. I will be sharing more on her in the future. I often took her for granted and am so ashamed about that. I had to set a monthly reminder to call her, because I would get so caught up in the grind of daily life that I would forget to call her for a few months. I regret all the times that I blew her off because I was “too busy”. Expect this blog to become a place of memories about her, and my own childhood, because I realize I have a terrible memory when I try to recall but sometimes things bubble up and I don’t want to forget them. Or her.

She continues to teach me even with her passing, because she was young. I always thought I would have another year, or ten, or twenty, with her and there would be time and the truth of the matter is that tomorrow is never guaranteed for anyone. She has left an amazing legacy in me and in my own kids. She was kind and wise in ways I am just now beginning to understand.

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In closing, allow me to say simply, that in 2020 the state of the Self is strong.

This is hard.

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The above is from an article I link below. I think 20,000 is low, especially if you include all of the negative messages we give ourselves.

So, you have probably noticed how terribly I have been failing in my daily posting. I have wanted to post, really I have. I didn’t even have a very good reason, other than a feeling of general anxiety and, yes, fear. It wasn’t even like I didn’t have content or ideas about what to write about. I even had the time. But you see, I had missed a couple of days.

Allow me to digress a moment here and share a story of shame from my past. I was supposed to graduate high school in 1989. I actually didn’t graduate until 1990. I know, you are probably thinking that I failed a bunch of classes, and am basically dumb as a box of rocks. If I were just dumb, that wouldn’t really be something to be ashamed of, it would just be who I was. Also, let me just say here also that I don’t think I have ever told anybody about this. I didn’t fail the classes (well, I guess technically, I did). Sorry, I know that I am kind of beating around the bush on this one, but this is really really hard to admit.

Okay, so back to my high school. Wait, before I do that, let me tell you that my birthday is mid-August. That is relevant, because it is a sucky birthdate when you are kid. It is at the end of summer, and usually corresponded to the first week of school. Nobody was going to have a party for you, the teachers didn’t know you, nobody cared. Okay, back to the story.

I decided to skip the first day of school. It was probably a pretty day. It was probably NOT my actual birthday. I can’t tell you why I did it, or what I did, but just didn’t feel like going. And for some brains, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t do it. And honestly, it might even have been the second semester of the year, making everything above simple prevarication.

Anyway, the second day, I thought, ugh, I missed the first day of school. Who does that? I didn’t want to face people – either friends or teachers and admit that I skipped. Then it was three, then a week. If you miss the first week of school, you better have been in the hospital or in Hawaii. Allow me to digress here as well, because by now, you are probably wondering “what the fuck were his parents doing?” The answer to that, is that I had a single mom and she worked really hard, and had no idea what I was doing.

Okay a week turned into two, and before you knew it, the principal, my mom (very unhappy), and I just kind of all agreed that maybe it would be best if I didn’t come back and just finished off school the next year. Honestly, I don’t know the logistics. My mom just cleaned it up, and I went back to school the next year and graduated. Barely. A side note here – you might think I could potentially have gotten invites to two reunions, but it turns out I have never gotten a single one. I wasn’t really popular, and honestly I doubt anyone even noticed that I wasn’t there, or cared.

Anyway, it turns out that I am not alone –  in fact, this is apparently fairly common for people like me with ADHD. I came across this article today (maybe it was yesterday, or the day before) “Children with ADHD Avoid Failure and Punishment More Than Others, Study Says” and when I read it, it resonated so hard with me. At the same time, Jessica from the How to ADHD youtube channel posted this:

So, I decided to just do a thing. I will fail again, I am sure. But I will try not to run, hide, or avoid.

Merging Blogs Here

You may or may not be aware that I have been writing on a couple of different blogs, namely geek blogs for my long-standing gaming group, the Sprue Posse.

When I started that other blog (well, restarted) a couple of the other members said they were interested in posting stuff, but that hasn’t really happened. That’s fine with me, but as I am “tidying” all areas of my life, having multiple blogs just doesn’t make sense to me. I would rather just post everything here, so that is what I am going to do going forward. There may be an occasional guest post, and it also means that this blog will get a fair amount of nerdiness but it simplifies my life so I am going for it.

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to be reposting some of those posts here (not all, but some). So you may experience a feeling a de ja vu and think “hey, this is crappy and lame, I have already seen this”. I am going to try and alternate new content and old content. And yes, this is probably cheating for my “post every day” but I am just gonna go with it.

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Mea Culpa

Well, honestly, I figured I’d make it a full week before failing on my daily posts. What can I say, I am an optimist and full of hope. ADHD definitely has it’s “pros”.

I could make lots of excuses about how busy I have been, how my back hurts, and how you should really pity poor me. In reality, I just chose to do other things. (I deleted that line about a ten times and rewrote it because it kind of hurts to look at it in this way. Some of the things I chose were more worthy than forcing out a post – working diligently at my job, making it to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, washing the dishes after dinner so my wife wouldn’t have to, writing on a Vampire story, and laying with daughter when she was scared from a bad dream. Some of them weren’t so noble – watching several episodes of The Dragon Prince (but y’all – that is SO good!), I absolutely HAD to draw this really cool picture of a thing that was in my mind. Watched a few episodes of Father Brown (quite possibly the best cop show on TV – and those costumes are always amazing). Oh and I had to redo a 500 point army list a million times, even though 500 points is too small for a real game and it is just going to be a silly exercise in throwing dice and having laughs with a few friends. So yeah, let’s just say I definitely missed the mark here.

I’ll try to do better.

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A New New Army for the New Year

As those of you who followed me before the upgrade explosion and glorious rebirth of this blog know, I decided this year to take part in #NewYearNewArmy for my Warhammer hobby, after almost quitting entirely due to time restrictions and just generally being in an unbalanced and bad place. Part of the reason for focusing on this is to bring balance and good completely non-work related hobby. As an aside, my core group of game friends here had decided to start new 40k armies and have quarterly meetups and games to keep us all on target to finish up a 2000 point fully painted army by the end of the year. Then my local GW store started their own #NewYearNewArmy set up, so doubly motivated I was ready to go!

I chose Nurgle originally as I kind of like their wicked cruelty mixed with humor in the background – I don’t usually mind playing the villain in games because I either win (yay!) or the bad guys the story lose (also yay!). I wrote up a fun background for them for the Vigilus Campaign at my local Games Workshop store in Glendale (which I may repost here later) but after playing a couple of games with them (and some other more personal reasons) I decided they weren’t for me.

I did a lot of soul-searching and and discussion with my good friend Shep about what army I should do. The army he pitched to me after doing some deep thinking was Harlequins. Not gonna lie, my first reaction was, “uh… maybe?” Don’t get me wrong, I have loved these guys since I first got the metal box way back in the late 80s – in fact, they were my first “big” Warhammer 40k army. They are an elite, tricky, speedy army which kind of ticks all of my boxes, so why wasn’t I more excited?

After unpacking some of my feeling and thoughts, I came to realize that the hang up was entirely because I used to have a full and awesome Biel Tan army that was stolen from me by a friend who left LA never to be seen again. After that happened, any time I thought about playing the Space Elves I ended up feeling a bit of that resentment. We are strange creatures, because I wasn’t even consciously aware that I was still holding a resentment and bitterness toward Mike and it was manifesting in my dislike for an army whose aesthetic and play style are totally me. Once I realized this and was able to process and forgive both him and myself, I found myself getting SUPER EXCITED about the idea. I built out my first models which are a Troupe, a Troupemaster, a Shadowseer, and a Death Jester. These models are ridiculously gorgeous and not a little bit intimidating to get going, but I’m looking forward to the challenge!

I have some catchup to play in order to get back on track for the New Year, New Army train, but I am confident I can do it – thanks in large part to the elite nature of this army. Beyond just the model and army, I am also really getting into the background and setting up a whole alien terrain set for my table. Here is what I have built and primed so far, with a bit more in boxes and ready to be built! A big thanks to Shep for his help and more importantly, his friendship and in knowing me so well.

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As an aside, I should have posted this yesterday, but it was a crazy day (can’t wait until Girl Scout cookie season is over!), so will likely make two posts today.

An Appreciation for the Feminine Genius

Happy International Women’s Day to all you ladies out there!

I have to admit, as a guy, I often overlook what you do. It is easy for us men to think of you as things* to acquire and possess. It isn’t intentional, it is just kind of how we have evolutionarily developed. We are made to protect and provide for our family, and sometimes we think that gives us ownership rather than stewardship and partnership of those in our lives.

I have come to realize over the last couple of years of introspection (and raising daughters!) how easy it is to overlook our differences and judge you on a masculine scale. It goes without saying this is a huge mistake that we as a society, and I personally have made in the past and likely will continue to make in the future. Thanks to a couple of great podcasts (in particular Abiding TogetherLove People, Use Things – and The Catholic Feminist Podcast) have really opened my eyes, and more importantly, my heart to the Feminine Genius. I admit I don’t always agree or relate with everything I hear but it is opening a dialog within me when I shut up and just listen.

One of the things I have been doing a lot to change my way of thinking around a lot of areas of my life is to try and see what things are not before assuming what they are. I am sure I will talk more about this in the future, but this line of thinking has really brought to my mind how amazing women are and how incredibly complementary our geniuses are when we work together. We are truly like a jigsaw puzzle and you can’t see the beauty of the picture using only half of the pieces.

So to all you daughters and mothers, sisters and aunts, grandmothers and godmothers, wives and lovers, bosses and friends, please accept my love and my gratitude for your compassion and empathy. For your ability to do the things with a joyful heart which I find hardest. For showing me the greatness inherent in being receptive. Thank you for bringing the soft edges of beauty to my world of hard edged competition and daily struggle. Thank you for showing me the example of true strength through loving me when I least deserve it.

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* I just wanted to clarify my use of the word “things”. It’s not intended to be derogatory, nor is it just female, because we often view other males in the same light as a challenge to accomplish, and obstacle to overcome, or a prize to be won rather than a living human being.

Lentanies

Don’t worry nerd friends, tomorrow will be a geek post.

One of my other Lenten observances is to learn and pray different litanies. I have been just writing them in my bullet journal (for all two days of Lent) but it occurred to me that some others might find comfort in the structure. At its most basic definition, according to the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) is “a litany, which, in its original Greek means a “supplication” or “petition,” was used for a wide range of liturgical occasions, as well as for penitential processions, for visiting the sick and the dying, and for private devotion.” I should also note that there are only six litanies approved for public use by the Catholic Church, however, they are typically not condemned for private prayer. The intent in posting these here are to aid in private prayer. For those wondering, Pope Clement VIII forbade them by decree of the Inquisition in 1601 in order to prevent them from being abused and dividing the church. My opinion also is that one must take care that recitation of litanies (like all prayer) doesn’t become vanity as that is a very real danger of just saying the words without the spirit.

Okay, so that takes care of the background and what it is. The first one that really blew my mind and opened my heart came courtesy of Father Josh Johnson from the podcast Ask Father Josh and is the Litany of Humility. For bonus points replace the word “others” with the name of a person you are envious of or dislike. This is a really hard prayer for me, because I have been rightfully called both condescending and arrogant. Anyway, here you go. I am not sure if I will post all of them as I go, or just occasionally, or not at all after this one.

Litany of Humility
Litany of Humility