Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Relocation

***This is a relocation from my About Me page that I thought would be more appropriate as a blog entry. This entry is best taken in context, not as a permanent statement on me or my gaming but feel it worth preserving. So I have decided to relocate it as a blog entry. It was written about January of this year.***

An Update (2014)

My blog has been a great source of solace for me over the years. Though I certainly am not the world's most regular blogger, I go through periods where I post daily, sometimes multiple times a day. Then months of silence, usually due to changes in my life that slow me down in one way or another. 2013 was one of those periods. I have went though a lot of life changes. I took a job I never wanted at the urging of those around me as a public school administrator. Which meant finishing my masters degree and getting my advanced certification in school supervision. As I type I am still in the middle of this. What it meant for me was that my gaming life would be put on hold while other things took priority.

The saddest part of this for me was that it meant my gaming club at school had to be cancelled. I urged the players to carry on without me, to find a teacher who would support them. I even looked for a teacher to take over myself. Sadly nothing happened. They gamed some on their own, but largely the unity and camaraderie that was the gaming club died. And I didn't game anymore which was probably the hardest part of all. (Slight update on this: My daughter is now in that school, and tells me there is an ongoing Pathfinder game meeting after school--good for them!)

I managed a few games with my family and children. And looked desperately in my small community for other gamers that might be willing to get together. I formed a few online Skype and G+ games that fizzled out before they began. I read my books, wrote campaign notes, and waited. Then I found a group through online gamer meet up sites that was local and eager to try and get a game together. We were going to play Pathfinder, which I was willing to do, even though it isn't my favorite game. But we no sooner than got started, about our third of fourth game, then I started having real life intrude. My college classes were demanding, and my new job took so much time away from family that I was missing more games than I was making. Pretty soon and I simply told them to carry on without me. They waited for some time to see if my schedule would calm down, when they simply decided that it was best to carry on sans yours truly. I don't blame them, but it was still hard to hear that I'd been replaced. (Another update: they would love to have me play again as soon as I get the time :-)

So I find myself now in a place where gaming seems scarce, and I'm not sure when things will calm down. I contemplate changing careers frequently. But when your in your forties and have given the bulk of your professional life to one career it's not an exciting prospect. I'll be honest. I have been dealing with some depression, stress and anxiety lately. Traits that runs in my family, but I have learned to deal with both medically and cognitively. It's not something I hide from anymore, so I can talk pretty openly about it. And admit when it is making me simplify my life. It has driven me from my blog, and other things I love as well. There have been times when this exacerbates my depression, but I am learning that it is just a part of how this change is affecting me. That I need to simplify and redirect my energies into other pursuits that I love and make them my gaming world. I am trying to embrace this new phase in the story that is mine and deal with these issues as well. I know I am happier when I am gaming in some way, but my life allows for little space in which that can happen in any traditional way. 

I am up every morning at five, and rarely finish my day before nine. I also deal with some heavyweight crap everyday in my office at school. I am by nature an introvert, and the revolving door that is my office, and nonstop ringing of my phone and avalanche of important emails I handle every day leave me feeling spiritually swamped, emotionally drained and physically exhausted. I am the type that carries these things around with me. If I don't decompress I implode. But I am a family man, with wonderful children and a loving wife that need my attention as well. As my children age they are doing more and more in their own lives and need support and my presence and attention. So even when I can get home in good time, life continues and I owe time to other obligations even more important than my job. And it seems there is always homework to be done for some college class or other.

I'm sure at this point I sound like a complaining wimp. I don't want to give that impression. I am very blessed, and enjoy the wonderful life I've been granted. Nothing comes for free, and to enjoy the life I do it requires sacrifice, nurturing and attention. The whole reason I bother sharing all of this is that there may be others out there in similar situations that this might help. Times when things you love to do have to take a back seat to life. These are times for reflection and for recalibrating in order to take care of yourself as well as the things that matter most. Which is exactly what I've done and why as of 2014, my blog has begun to take a different turn.

I am now focusing on creating gaming material and other related creative endeavors that I will be sharing with the world. I have tons of things I scribble out in meetings, draw and doodle on my professional development notes, read while I am attending conferences, thing about while I am catching up on the endless paperwork, and flesh out and complete when I am finally in bed at night by lamplight, when the house is asleep and my mind is still actively churning with the stresses of my day and the only way I can escape is to step through the magical gateway that is gaming and let my mind run free. 

It's funny too. I recall a time similar to this when I was younger and in junior high and high school. I could never seem to get enough gaming. We would try on the bus home, for a few minutes after school when our parents would let us, and we didn't have chores or homework. Weekend games were a blast, but rare as we lived scattered throughout town and getting together wasn't easy. So what did I do then, as I sat in Algebra, or Latin class, or World History, or Honors English? I created. I was more prolific during those times than ever before. The short stories, poetry, games, monsters, magic items, castle and dungeon designs, art, and ideas piled up in reams of spiral bound notebooks. I had never tried very hard at school, doing well at school came naturally to me. So I hid my Conan comics behind my textbooks and read adventure stories while the teacher droned on in front. I created gaming and other fantasy, horror and sci fi related material endlessly in hours of mindnumbing school lessons. The only respite we had was lunch time when we would gather together in the library for a twenty minute brain jam session of what we were planning for our next game.

So it's time to do that some more. My games may be a little far and few between now, but creativity doesn't have to. I am also learning Tunnels & Trolls and planning on a solo campaign that I will chronicle online. I have always known T&T did this, but never got into it, seeing it as inferior to the real thing. Almost as "cheating" somehow. But now, I get it completely. For those who have no way to game, no outlet for that need, this is the next best thing. It is in fact brilliant. From what I understand it is somewhat like choose your own adventure books from my youth, but with gaming worked in. I am excited to start giving it a whirl. After a while I may even start creating my own.

So that's where I am at right now. We'll see how it goes. Well, it is already going, I just need to start sharing it on my blog again, as my imaginative meanderings might be enjoyable for others out there in the gaming dimension. Who knows? Life may settle down again. I realize now the days of my gaming club worked so well because it was so convenient for my life. I simply stayed an extra hour at work and it was a natural extension of my teaching every day. It was a brilliant and glorious blessing and I am even more grateful for it now that it is gone. Maybe there will be some possibility like that in the future. I certainly hope so. But for now, I am where I am and am trying to embrace it.

* * *


  1. Chris, I can relate to you in two areas: seeking a career change in mid-life and mental health. I'm currently nursing dreams of changing careers, and I'm trying for once to do more than dream: I'm going out to take action more and more. If I were to give you some advice on career change, I'll tell you what I'm doing: starting small, doing things on the side where I can, getting experience, struggling, and learning. Getting out there and making it known what I want to do, and taking more and more risks, pushing my comfort zones further out. Find something you're passionate about, and see where it takes you. Good luck!

    On the mental health front, I also have a family history of problems in that regard. I've struggled with depression and other issues, and it's hard for me to focus sometimes on the things I want to accomplish. But I just keep telling myself that I need to overcome, through persistence. The path may be long, but at least I'm not giving up. Don't give yourself deadlines or timeframes. Don't demand perfection from yourself. Just live, give yourself a break, and follow where you passions take you!

    Good luck to you, and I wish you happiness and success!

  2. Very good advice Anthony. And good luck to you in the career field. That, it seems, is our societies current angst. I feel it has to do with our society defining who we are by what we do, which is an inherently faulty premise.

    I did find the Soul's Code by James Hillman enlightening in this regard.

    And I will say this for my anxiety--it has certainly made life more interesting and deep ;-)

    --peace and adventure