So, with no institute (see my last post), now I only have one class on Tuesdays/Thursdays: Intermediate Fiction Writing. I originally got this class because it fit best in my schedule (all the other sections of the class were evening classes), but upon further research I found that it also has a great professor.
So I went to class today, full of trepidation, and was thrilled at the format of the class. No reading list, no required genres of writing, just an open, intense series of workshops on writing. The goal: improve your writing wherever you are weak.
Why, I asked myself, does this fill me with trepidation, even fear? Even now I'm all tense thinking about it. I decided that a) it's very important to me, b) part of me is still unsure if I can do it, and most importantly, c) If I DID do it, actually finish a decent piece of work, that would be the single greatest accomplishment of my entire life. And seeing it like that makes b) all the more daunting. There's this little voice in the back of my head that constantly tells me, and has told me since I was very small, that "you can't finish anything big or hard or important." So anything I perceive as big, hard, and/or important (which college wasn't, in my perception) gets a big anxious flop response from me. Ugh. Overcoming that is going to be harder than simply writing, in my opinion. baby steps babystepsbabystepsbabysteps.
For those of you not members of my church, Institute is religious instruction offered to 18-30 year old members and generally associated with a college or university. I attended and graduated from Institute during my years at the University of Oklahoma and I LOVED it, so much so that I attended for a few more years when I moved up to Boise.
However, when I started going back to school last year here at BSU, I was reluctant to take Institute classes again. Too much trouble and bother, I thought. But parking here at the university is horrendous, and institute parking is close to campus and free, so I signed up for classes again. I found that the classes were wonderful and enlightening, a highlight to my day.
Today, however, when I showed up to sign up for classes, I found that they have instituted a new rule: no more taking institute classes if you are over 35. Which I am. They gave me a parking permit anyway, which was awfully generous of them, but even though it meets my original desires from last year, I am saddened. Now how am I going to get my uplift before class? Sigh.
This is something that's been bugging me for a while now, particularly from one of my friends on Facebook who is particularly egregious. Sometimes we just throw courtesy out the window when we talk politics (or anything else we feel passionate about), and it's not only rude, but ineffective. So I'm laying out some pointers.
1. Don't insult the other side. Don't. Just don't do it. Don't talk like your position is the only intelligent position, don't make fun of people who don't see things your way. If you can, stop even FEELING this way, but at the very least stop SAYING it. No one will be convinced by being told they are stupid, and it's just not funny.
2. Don't back up your position with biased sources. It throws your credibility out the window. If you start throwing out Rush Limbaugh quotes, the only people who are going to keep listening to you are the Rush Limbaugh fans. Same with Huffington Post or Sean Penn.
3. If you don't like the majority rule where you are, consider moving rather than whining all the time about it. Yes, we should remain politically active. But most of the time the approach is just a matter of opinion, not a moral dilemma, so going to extremes to fight the majority is just going to make a lot of people unhappy. So if the place where you're living has too many gun-toting, Christ-loving, Republican capitalist pigs, consider moving to San Francisco, Oregon, or even Canada. Or if there are too many tree-hugging, weed smoking, liberal, communist subversives, make your way to Idaho or Utah. Or learn not to care so much. Seriously, people. There is a solution that will make most people happier.
4. If you MUST say something, and you're being polite and using a source that's as objective as possible, please do your research before mouthing off. And no, I don't mean 'I heard this from a comedy show' (even though they MAY have a good base point). Actually look up the research, and if you can, look up data from the opposing viewpoint as well. It may open your eyes enough that you find the need to mouth off diminishing, but if not, then at least you are showing your audience the respect they deserve.
5. Study a bit of logic and apply it to your arguments. Are you using ad hominem attacks? What about straw men? What about a dozen other logical fallacies? Not only do these types of attacks get the other side all riled up, but they make you look stupid. Sure, if you're preaching to the choir you'll get lots of support anyway, but it's a good idea to prepare for an opposing viewpoint anyway.
6. Assume the best of your opponents. I mean, seriously. Most people who don't like Obama as President are NOT racist, most people who argue for global warming are NOT enviro-nazis. To jump to extremes is both disingenuous and insulting.
It's 4:57 a.m. so I can't think of any other points, but I had to get those out there so I can go back to sleep. The point of this is that conversation is better than rhetoric or attacks, and we can all at least be civil one to another. Please, let's play nice.
I had a good talk with my counselor last week. We were talking about fighting depression and how you need to maintain a balanced battle against its evil. It's a balancing act, but with diligence and hard work, you can really make progress against depression.
First, there's the physical battle. Medication, sleep, exercise, diet. This is the part that many people, including myself, really struggle with. Medication for me is easy, I have quickly seen the effects of both taking and not taking my medicine. But sleep is hard (I just want to sleep all the time, and the compulsion is tremendous), and diet and exercise are even worse, because it usually takes a long time (up to 6 weeks even) to see positive effects. I'm not that patient. But I can't ignore the plethora of studies that link exercise to well-being, or obesity to depression. I have to fight better.
The Second Aspect is Social. Getting out helps me tremendously. Talking to people. Interacting. Improving my relationships. When I let the depression win, I stay home and don't interact. Sometimes I even think a lot about how people don't like me or how I don't have any close friends anymore. Getting out, no matter how hard it is, fights these feelings. I'm decent at this. Not great, but not bad either.
The Third Aspect is Educational/Occupational. It involves working at something and getting positive feedback for it. I've improved a lot at this since I started going back to school, but I wasn't very good at it before and I fear for how I'll be after I finish school. I think it's harder when you have a job -- be it a paid job or simply the essential job of taking care of a family -- that doesn't give you much positive feedback. But if YOU can find yourself satisfied with a job well-done, then that's all you really need!
So I'm working on these Aspects in myself. One inspiration to me is my sister-in-law Sienna. She is very smart (just finished her Master's in English) and a great Mom and is very active. She struggles sometimes too, but she is GREAT about fighting it with exercise and diet and getting out and doing good things. Yay for Sienna!
So keep yourself balanced and keep on fighting. You can do it!
School starts next week. I'm nervous. The 'what if -- ?' scenarios keep going through my head. What if I'm not good at this? What if the professor doesn't like me? What if I can't pull myself out of this funk and get some work done? It's pretty intimidating if I let myself think about it -- which is why, I believe, thinkers have such a hard time with depression. If we take too much time to think, what ifs and its evil cousin yeah but start creeping in and cripple the just do its. Yeah but is the evil cousin that applies to the past -- 'you did so well in that class' is countered by 'yeah but I only had 2 classes' or 'yeah but the class was easy' effectively negating the good thoughts about ourselves.
The way I started learning to cope with the yeah buts was by looking outside myself after I was told that negating someone's compliment with a 'yeah but' was rude. I need to smile, accept it graciously and say 'thanks.' So even if I'm doing it to myself, I need to smile, accept good thoughts graciously and say 'thanks.'
What ifs are a little more pernicious because they get confused with thinking things through to avoid disaster. But what ifs are usually low-probability negative things that you can't really control -- at least, you can't control them by fretting about them beforehand. You simply do your best and deal with problems when and if they actually come up.
So let go and just DO GOOD. Be anxiously engaged in a good cause and do your best. Things will work out. Sometimes bad things happen, but just deal with them when they come. You'll be fine.
I have redesigned my website! Jake helped...okay he did all the technical parts...but now if you go to www.dyany.com (or just click on Home over there on the upper left of this page) you will see a whole new piece of niftyness. There's not much there right now -- mostly just links to websites, and my genealogy, but I'm working on a way to post short works of fiction and stuff. That's tricky, because if I ever want to publish them I can't have posted them on the web. So it's tricky. Anyway, that's what I have going right now. Please give me feedback!
First of all, I have to apologize to American Airlines regarding an April post I made about my brother's ticket. Turns out that (admittedly it took them a few months) they DID finally do my brother a service and they sent him a voucher he can use towards future air travel. Yay! Yay for customer service!
Then I booked my Christmas vacation tickets through Delta using miles. Normal price: $509. My price: $10. Yay for miles! And I get to go see my family again! It's the Dittmer year for Christmas, so we're ALL going to be there, and it's a gonna be crazy.
Speaking of traveling, our reunion in Bear Lake went splendiforously, most of the extended Dittmers were there, plus we got to see some Packs too. Not too much sunburn but a whole lotta fun. Even though the water was so high that there wasn't much beach. Crazy.
School starts in 2 weeks. Are you excited? I am! And scared, of course...this semester looks SO COOL that it can't possibly live up to expectations. We'll see.