Category Archives: Dru

Catching Up

keepcalmAh, the academic year is over and I’m (mostly) free! Check out my students’ comic book final projects over at ComicComm.Com!

Current writing project: With my housemate traveling for a week, I’ve usurped the kitchen table with my laptop and Right of Rule notebooks, incorporating my writing group’s comments. If I work really, really hard I might have them all in before I head out to Croatia for summer vacation….

Save

Save

The Next Step in Minimalism

orchid_sd2_After simplifying one’s environment, the next step may be to simplify one’s mind.

To create open space in one’s house, one must declutter the house — remove all the unnecessary Stuff. Then, suddenly, space appears.

“In the same way, to bring about contentment we need a consciousness that is like creating space. It’s not about having more, accumulating more. Rather it is about letting go of this and that. When we let go of everything we see that the space we want to create is already there.”
—Anam Thubten (2013) No Self, No Problem: Awakening to Our True Nature. Boston: Shambhala, n.p. [Kindle Edition].

Decluttering our environment requires us to give up our attachments to Stuff. Sometimes that’s difficult; we have deep emotional, psychological bonds to some of our Stuff that we need to detach from (the souvenir is not the trip; the heirloom is not the lost loved one) in order to let our clutter go.

Decluttering our mind is similar. It means giving up our attachments to Self: e.g., the stories we tell about the way we were in the past, the way we are now, and the way we will be in the future if only we do this, or refrain from doing that, or can achieve something else. Thubten reminds us, however, that “there is a big difference between giving up everything and giving up the attachment to everything.”  [emphasis added]. Perhaps we can’t entirely forget those stories; I suspect it would be difficult to do that and operate in the normal, everyday world. There’s a tradition of the “mad monk” for a reason! But I imagine we can avoid letting those stories direct us or limit us while acknowledging that we have believed in them in the past, and that others may still believe them about us. Oh, well. Accept it and move along.

Self is a form of Stuff.

Those of us who have been successful at decluttering our Stuff might want to take up the more daunting challenge of decluttering our attachment to Self next.

Image Source: Skydancer (Jo Pagliassotti).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

 

Daily Loss

tao_circle_black_400x400Pursue knowledge, daily gain
Pursue Tao, daily loss

Tao De Ching

As a professor, my head is often too full — reading books and accumulating knowledge is part of my profession, and I can’t easily call a halt to it at this point in my career, although I have been growing more particular about what I choose to put into my head.

As a person seeking simplicity, I keep attempting to pare down, to lose.

I have been deleting more and more of my past posts on this blog. Most of them simply tracked my progress as a writer — sales, rejections, marketing issues. Who cares, now, about what stories I sold eight years ago?

Whenever I take another really significant step toward simplification, I feel a moment’s nausea as a lifetime of social conditioning rebels against the thought of letting go. I wonder when I will finally be able to let go in peace?

Uncluttering Facebook Updates

clean-facebook-wallAm I the only person who periodically unclutters her Facebook timeline?

I was wondering that this morning while I went back and deleted some of the less-significant status updates I’d written, such as grumbles about being on campus grading over the weekend or comments about articles I found interesting at the time. I figure Facebook posts are the same as physical belongings and digital files — if you don’t love ‘em or use ‘em regularly, get rid of ‘em.

I suppose I could purge the whole thing … how often do I go back and look at those convention photos from two years ago, anyway? … but so far I haven’t reached that stage of digital minimalism. I don’t really mind having old posts sitting in my timeline; I just think they ought to be periodically curated.

But maybe I’m just strange that way…?

Image Source: Le Free Logiciel

New Year’s Resolutions

nonattachment-600x600I’m not one of those people who hates New Year’s Resolutions and/or gives them up after a few weeks. I love the feeling that every year is a fresh start, and I’ve never had a problem keeping a resolution. To be sure, my resolutions tend to be broad — I make a sweeping resolution, and then I spend the rest of the year figuring out the habits and hacks it’ll take for me to meet it. All that advice about measuring and quantifying and tracking your progress? Not my thing. I figure I’m either doing better or doing worse, and it’s usually pretty easy to tell which.

In January 2014, my resolution was “simplify,” born out of desperation after completing my first semester as department chair at the university — an appointment I didn’t want and don’t enjoy, but that I’m stuck with for a six-year term. I realized after that first highly stressful semester that I needed to cut back on other things to accommodate all my new responsibilities. So 2014 became a long search for ways to simplify my environment, my duties, my commitments, and my thoughts. I gave up a handful of long-term projects and social events; purged another, deeper layer of my Stuff; bumped up my morning meditation time and read more Buddhist texts; completed some lingering to-do projects that had been nagging at the back of my mind; and developed systems at work that help me keep track of my new duties. Would I say I live a simple life now? Nope, not at all. My life is simpler in some respects — maybe even simple enough to keep me sane for the next four-and-a-half years — but until this department-chair obligation is off my back, my life will never going to be as simple as I’d like. (If I’d wanted to manage people, I wouldn’t have become a professor!)

So in January 2015, my resolution is “let go,” which was inspired by identifying my biggest day-to-day stressor last year: myself. ….I can’t tell you how many times a day I say to myself, “I should—”, “I have to—”, “I’ve gotta—” And not later; now.

However, it turns out that very few of the things I tell myself I need to do are necessities, and even fewer need to be done right now. So in 2015 I’m going to let go of some of the many demands I put on myself. It will be challenging, because those demands have gotten me a long way in life. But I’m already making a few changes — like deliberately correcting myself from saying “I should” to saying “I want,” “I’d like to,” or “I choose,” instead. Or asking myself, “do I need to do this right now?” and, sometimes, calendaring it for later. I’m also trying to let go of my expectations of other people.

The deeper challenge, of course, will be to dismantle those core expectations about myself and the world that make me think I “should” or they “should” be one way and not the other. While I certainly don’t expect to achieve it any time soon, if I spend the year asking myself how and why my beliefs are driving any particular pressure I’m putting on myself, I think it’ll be a step in the right direction!

So that’s my 2015 resolution: Let go.

Image Source: Red Lotus Mama

Save

Goodreads

Goodreads-iconSo, let’s see. I started logging the books I’ve read into Goodreads on March 2014.  Since then I’ve read 253 books (this is not counting the books I started and put down as too bad to finish and a handful of short free ebooks that didn’t seem worth the effort of writing down), for about 25 books a month. Yeah, that seems about right….

Keeping track of my day-t0-day reading has been an interesting life experiment, but as part of my effort to simplify my to-dos and focus on my writing, I’m going to stop recording everything I read and adding it to my Goodreads bookshelves. I’ll continue to update Goodreads whenever I’ve read something that I feel strongly enough about to recommend to others, but I’m no longer going to keep updating it with every new book I’ve finished. I  hope you’ll understand and forgive me — and not assume that what you see on my Goodreads shelves continues to represent my regular reading habits!

Nathapala

nathapalaV2…And here’s another fantastic drawing for Right of Rule from Candela Riveros!

This character is Nathapala, the ysura who lives in Katakot (you can find his lair on the city map) and oversees the realm of si’Urai…. The question of to whom he will grant right of rule when the realm’s former leader dies gives the novel its name.

Katakot Bestiary

rukh-Australian artist Candela Riveros has sent me the first few sketches of various beasts and inhuman characters in my work-in-progress, Right of Rule! This is a rukh, an avialan (dinosaur proto-bird) standing on one of the skulls spiked on the nine sacred iron arches that stand over Lamentation Square in Katakot…. I’ll be adding more of her fantastic sketches to the Bestiary page over at the Right of Rule website, so check it out once in a while!

Katakot Map

katakotThis the city in which my novel-in-progress is set — Katakot. I never seemed to need a map for Ondinium, in the Clockwork Heart trilogy, but Right of Rule is deeply embedded in the city, with the characters doing a lot of traveling around and referencing of locations. My rough-draft readers told me they were having trouble visualizing the areas, so I decided that commissioning a map would be a good long-term investment. Plus, I’ve always loved fantasycity maps!

The cartographer behind this map is talented Robert Altbauer of Fantasy Map.

 

Cheating on My Love Affair with Minimalism

horribleAt a convention recently another writer raised an eyebrow at my steampunkery  and asked, “Do you have a whole closet full of costumes?” I stammered a little and then reluctantly confessed to having made a couple of incompatible lifestyle choices.

You see, for all my years of pursuing minimalism, there’s one part of my life that remains less than minimal — my “special events” wardrobe.

Day-to-day, you’ll find me in jeans, black v-neck tee, and boots. That’s my Uniform, plus a blazer when I’m teaching or a flannel shirt around friends and family. I have a handful of blazers, flannels, and boots, so it’s not utterly boring, but it’s certainly limited and doesn’t take up much closet space.

But then if you go to, ahem, the other side of the wardrobe, all of the sudden you’ll be confronted by cloaks, vests, corsets, overcoats, ascots, gloves, belts, hats, goggles, masks, replica weaponry, and the velvet doctoral robes that get yanked out twice a year for the university’s opening convocation and  commencement ceremony.

Sometimes I fantasize about getting rid of it all — usually around the time I’m packing to go to a con! — but….

Not yet.  :-)