Posts tagged Online
The ever present hiss of oxygen and the occasional beeping of a monitor are sometimes the only sound I hear for hours, as I lay alone in my hosptial room. I stare at the white sterile walls that surround me. The walls are totally blank with few unnoteworthy exceptions. Sometimes I wish my life were as clean and as sterile as those walls, devoid of any adversitity. It’s an easy thing to wish for when I’ve spend more than half of the last year in the hosptial. If I could whitewash all the years spent facing the pain, lonliness, isolation, boredom, fear, anger, grief, and saddness that comes with a chronic illness that requires very frequent and prolonged hosptializations, wouldn’t I want to?
But then I remember what I am here on earth to do. I remember that my adversity and trials aren’t punishments; they’re gifts that allow me to improve myself, transform my weaknesses, and grow into the person I was always meant to become. I remember that adveristy is a blessed opportunity – even an invitation – from my loving Father in Heaven, to become more like my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. I remember that if I were able to whitewash my life and forget all my trials, I’d also forget all the knowledge and blessings that come from them.
It’s been easy for me to get bogged down in the weight of a trial, and completely miss what I am learning and how I am growing from it. Perhaps if I were more methodical, more intetional about learning from adversity, I’d be able to develop more from it. There are five things we all can do to gain more knowledge, growth, and blessings from the hardest things in life.
- Seek Guidance
- Conduct Research
- Count Your Blessings
- Serve Others
- Do It Together
It’s a lot easier to learn something when you figure out what you are learning. Recieve guidance as to what’s there to learn from life’s hardest moments. Sources of guidance can be close friends, family, religious leaders, professional counselors, scriptures and other books, and divine inspiration. I personally realize the lesson in every trial most easily when I read my scriptures frequently and pray unceasingly to my Father in Heaven to reveal to me what He wants me to learn. It reminds me that I am not in control, but that’s completely okay, because the one that is in control, my Heavenly Father, knows exactly what I need to learn, andhow I need to be blessed.
It can be hard to know what you’re learning if you aren’t tracking your course throught the trial. Record your journey in a journal. Look for patterns. Ask yourself and Heavenly Father questions. Pose hypothesis, and then experiment on the results. I recently suggested this to a friend struggling with social situations and feelings of not being included. Instead of thinking negatively about social situations, she tried thinking that people would perceive her in a positive way right before starting an converstation. So far the results have been an off the charts improvement.
When you remember to have an a attitude of graditude you get access to appreciating the good times and the bad. Being grateful even for your trials opens up your ability to grow and change for the better and help you learn so much more from adversity. When I take time to enummerate the ways being chronically ill has bettered my life, I am always astounded by all the good things that have come from it.
Getting out of your own head and focusing on helping others in need, gives you clarity and perspective that can shing light on what there is to learn from your trials. When I take the time to be a good listener for a friend going through something really tough, the weight of my own trials diminishes. As I lift their weight, Heavently Father lifts mine.
When you are in the depths of your trials, it’s easy to forget that you aren’t alone. Whether it other people going through similar things or knowledge of the divine on your side, walking foward hand in hand allows you to both receive and share knowledge and blessings. My default mentality is that I have to do everything hard alone (also that I’m alone in my trials). The good news is neither are at all true. And not only do i not have to do everything alone, but it’s completely impossible to do so. In fact, this life was *designed* to teach me (and all of us) not to do it alone. Instead I should rely on Christ, his teachings, and his disciples to get me through everything, from the smallest of small to the most miraculous triumphs that aren’t even imaginable to my feeble mortal minds. And we are the opposite of alone in our trials, we have a brother in Heaven that has a *perfect understanding* of what we are going through. I don’t even have a perfect understanding of what I’m going through, but through Christ I can start to come to an understanding.
In what ways do you gain knowledge and blessings from your trials? Please share in the comments!
When you turn over a large stone, you have to be prepared to deal with all the creepy crawly things that lurk underneath it. Well I’ve done it. I’ve turned over a large stone in my soul. A boulder even. And I’m not really ready to deal with what I’ve unearthed. And unlike a physical stone, I can’t just put the stone back and cover everything back up. I now know. I can’t unknow it.
Sleep eludes me. Not just tonight. Every night. Not because I’m not tired. No, I’m plenty tired. Still sleep eludes me. I just plain don’t want to go to sleep, and it’s taken me a long time to figure out why.
At first, I thought it was a fear of having nightmares. I’ve had a few doozies of nightmares lately. Woken up with hot tears streaming down my cheeks. In a cold sweat, I’ve done everything in my power to prolong my waking moments to avoid returning to those dreams. Fortunately, however, nightmares are a relatively infrequent occurrence.
So what”s my problem?
Turns out I was on the right track with thinking that it was fear of nightmares keeping me awake. Fear is a powerful motivator. But my fear runs much deeper than the transient nightmare. I had an epiphany:
It’s painful to admit how lonely I’ve been the last several years. Having a debilitating chronic illness, as I do, can be very isolating. So I’m alone a lot. And being alone means being alone with my thoughts. Distraction is my best friend.
But I’ve found the ultimate solution. Internet friends. There are always people online to talk to me into the wee hours of the morning. They will keep me company. Distract me from having to really examine my life. When I turn out the light and wait for sleep to come, I’m ultimately alone. So I don’t go to sleep. I stay up until, hands poised at the keyboard, sleep finally consumes me.
The strange and simply amazing thing about this deeply penetrating fear of being alone , is that I am ultimately never alone. My Father in Heaven and my Savior Jesus Christ are always there with me.
And I have a feeling that this realization is only the tip of the iceberg. There are more stones to peer under. More creepy crawlies to unveil. But in my quest to ultimately fulfill on what I’m truly committed to, I must leave no stone unturned.
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, keeping the Sabbath day holy is extremely important to me. But it can sometimes be a challenge to find activities to do on Sundays in keeping with the spirit of the day. Normally I attend church for three hours and then come home to read scripture, church publications, listen to spiritual music or General Conference talks, or work on my calling in the church. But I still usually find myself looking for something to do by the evening (it doesn’t help that I’m a night owl).
So this past Sunday night, I decided to put my skills with the graphic design program, Illustrator, to work to create some spiritual art. I assembled it from various free vectors I found online combined with one of my favorite scriptures from The Book of Mormon. The scripture reads:
Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust; and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also has become my salvation.
2 Nephi 22:2
This is one of my favorite scriptures because it reminds me to find joy in my Heavenly Father. It reminds me to rejoice in his way as I follow in his footsteps and sing his praises. I also reminds me that He is the strength in my life, and, whether I realize it or not, He is there to lean on. There are so many times in my life that he carried me and sustained me that I didn’t even realize in the moment. And I am so very grateful for His presence in my life!
Despite the challenges they sometimes present, I simply love Sundays. I love taking a day to bask in the Spirit of the Lord. So I will continue to find ways to keep the Sabbath day holy week after week.
There’s no denying that I am a bona fide geek. If you want evidence, you need look no farther than my Nymphadora Tonks from Harry Potter costume that I made from scratch and then wore to every movie and book party. Or perhaps the role playing game campaign online I run every week. Or the fact that I like to learn new software for fun in my free time. The list just goes on and on.
So yes, I’m a geek, and I love that I can call myself one. Geeks are some of the coolest people I know. They are uber intelligent, interesting, adaptable, creative, resilient, fun, and talented. In fact, geeks are in high demand in today’s culture. We have certain skills that others don’t. For example, many of us love games, codes, and puzzle solving.
One of my geekiest (and most favorite) activities utilizes all of these skills – participating in the world of Alternate Reality Games or ARGs. So what is an ARG you might ask?
An Alternate Reality Game is a unique storytelling format that uses the whole world as it’s platform (but mainly things like internet sites and blogs, tv, print, email, chat, phone, and live events). Often involving clues, hidden evidence, codes, and puzzles, the story is initially broken up and hidden in these various mediums, and it’s up to the players to collaboratively piece it together to progress the story as it plays out in real time.
So how does it work? It all starts with a trailhead or rabbit hole – the initial piece of information that leads you to the rest of the game. This for example might be an email you receive from one of the characters in the game asking for you help in locating his missing sister. The email might have a cryptic message at the end of it that leads you to his sister’s blog which in turn might talk about a sketchy company she got involved with before she disappeared. This takes you to the company website. Eventually the pieces start to come together and the story begins to unfold. And what the players do matters to how it all turns out.
I got involved with ARGs back in April of 2008 when I started getting more seriously ill with multiple autoimmune diseases. ARGs gave me something fun, creative, and intellectually stimulating to do from home in bed all through the magic of the internet. It also gave me an amazing community of fellow geeks who were just generally really smart, kind, wonderful people in my life.
Under the pseudonym IneffaBelle (or Belle), I played lots of ARGs and made lots of friends, both real and fictional. I also attended ARGFest the last two years in Portland in 2009 and Atlanta in 2010. I hope to attend this year’s ARGFest in Bloomington, Indiana.
Eventually I started working behind the scenes developing ARGs for others to play, and I’ve been working at that rather intensely over the last few years. I have several projects in development now, and I’ve found the development side even more fun and rewarding than the player side.
Sadly, I haven’t had (or made) the time to actually play an ARG in quite some time. But the other day I received this to my ARG email:
My curiosity was peaked by this cute sort of whimsical concept. The email led to http://sotanaht.com/ (how is detailed in this forum post on the ARG community site Unfiction). The first mission opened up today asking us to “mask ourselves” with masks provided on the site. Here’s mine:
How this particular ARG will unfold remains to be seen, but it’s certainly good to be back in the Alternate Reality Game!
Further Reading on ARGs:
Alternate Reality Gaming – A Definition – Brooke Thompson’s excellent and comprehensive definition of an ARG.
Alternate Reality Gaming – A Quickstart Guide – Brooke Thompson’s funny and informative guide to getting started with ARGs.
ARGNet – The best source of ARG news.
Unfiction Forums– Excellent forum for finding and playing ARGs.
IneffaBelle.com – My ARG website and resume.