Agent of Change

A Blog by Cory!! Strode, who really should write something interesting here.

Archive for the category “Personal”

Fight me. Fight everyone!

Trump has been quoted recently as telling people working in the White House to think of the Presidency as a TV show where they vanquish their enemies. Support him or not, you have to admit that he’s at least honest about that.  The things he has done since taking office have all been about taking things away from people.

That is why, when my right wing friends say “Is there anything Trump could do to win you over,” I think of that quote. I have come to realize that there are people I just have a fundamental disagreement with and will never EVER see the world their way.  I used to be friends with someone who said on a routine and regular basis “If we can’t be friends, we must be enemies, and I destroy my enemies.”  In my observations, as time has gone on, the number of friends diminishes and the number of enemies will constantly increase, and the only person who gets destroyed is the person sowing enemies

The people in power, in my opinion, are put there to help us, not to fight us. They are to work toward making lives better, both for the people they govern as well as the lives they can assist around the world.  It can be through making it easier for people to learn the skills needed for the jobs of the future, finding ways to assist those who can’t function in the modern society as easily as others or simply by showing kindness as a possible and preferred solution.

When you wake up every day looking for a fight, you’re going to find one. When you wake up every day looking for a way to help people, you’ll find that as well.  The world is what it is.  You can’t change it very much, so you have to change how you interact with it.

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Today’s thought

Peace of mind that transcends any and all objectification of accumulated creature comforts or the opinions of others who confuse wealth and public recognition with character and self-respect. Peace of mind is available to anyone willing to pay the wages of disillusionment. To let go of the child’s concept of a world that never has or ever will exist is the cost, but the reward is tranquility.

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2017 Year in Review

In the spirit of the year in review, I like to go over how the years has gone and give myself an honest assessment of things went. So, here’s what I thought of 2017.

As we finish up the year, I am generally pleased with how things have gone. After the nightmarish dumpster fire of 2016, this year was busy, with the group home throwing me tons of hours that went into my savings account, a retirement account and finally, into a new car. I have already moved up two spots at the full time job, and am working on becoming HR certified (1st of 3 tests on the 29th). Like most Gen Xers, the job market has been pulled out from under me repeatedly through my “career”, but thankfully, I keep landing on my feet.

Podcast wise, I didn’t ALL of my marks for the year, but we have our 300th episode of Kray Z, started “Series in Review” and “Bad Advice”, and with my crew, we will have produced over 150 hours of content.  The show moved into 2017 better than it had been for about a year and a half and I am proud of how we’ve grown in our skills, topics and entertainment value.  If you quit listening in 2016, come on back, as we’re better than ever.  It’s not just ME saying that, but the listeners have been giving us solid feedback about how we stepped up our game.

I had some amazing guests on the shows, lots of good comic talk and growth in listenership to where we routinely get 1000 downloads of a podcast the first week, so thank you for listening, telling people and I am glad we entertain you. We’re about to start year 8, and baby, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Writing wise, I finished up a novel and got 50k words into a new one, and will be buying myself ISBN numbers so that when they are ready, they will be all professional like. Dan still has copies of the first World Wide News collection, and it makes a great Festivus gift!  Buy two, they’re small!  And, for those of you who prefer digital, we will be releasing that book in that format soon on Amazon!

In my personal life, my anxiety issues are being helped with medication, meditation, and awareness. After the nightmarish year that was 2016, I have made huge gains in dealing with that.  I also removed the things that were exacerbating the issues and haven’t looked back. Retiring from conventions and removing toxic people from my environment has done wonders for my outlook and returned my life to doing things I enjoy with good people.  I traveled more, read more, and have done more socially conscious stuff that I am proud of.

I took a trip down the Mississippi River road, taking my time and exploring the small towns and stopping anywhere that looked interesting which revived my love of road trip with no destination. Now that I have a new car and no worries about breakdowns, I look to spend more time doing that.  I have many fond memories of getting in my car with a notebook, spare time and no destination, and there will be a lot more of that in my future.

Where I stumbled this year was that I wasn’t able to move forward on turning to Novelcast novels in eBooks, mostly because I got bogged down in final edits and keep finding new things to rewrite or fix. I also didn’t record as many episodes of Novelcast as I should and had long gaps between episodes mostly due to the intensive time commitment is requires.

I didn’t do as many solo podcasts as I would have hoped, again due to the time commitment needed. I did spend time with friends and family, but not as much as I would have hoped I would have.  I also didn’t do very well in my commitment to fitness, gained some weight back and didn’t exercise nearly enough.

As with any reassessment, I am working on making changes to that and hope to do better in the near term.

So, overall, as the year comes to a close, I am happy with how things have gone and feel this year was a marked improvement over the last two. I was looking for 2017 to be a year where I got back on course, since 2016 was a year where I was finally able to find a full-time job, completed an assessment that let me know how anxiety was driving me and where I worked on a lot of different ideas for harnessing my creative stuff.  2017 was about bringing it all together.  2018 will be a year of growth, surprises, and exploration.

Much love to friends old and new. How about you?  How did you do this year?  Did you move forward?  Did you have fun?  Remember, we’re only here for a short time, so try to have as much fun as you possibly can while helping people along the way.

 

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State of the Internal Nation

So, I have been talking about my anxiety and such for the past year or so, and I want to give an update. Partly because I don’t get to talk to people as much as I’d like and partly because when someone gets diagnosed with a mental health issue, a lot of people don’t know how someone gets “better”.

Before I got help, I had always dealt with the anxiety, even though I wasn’t quite sure what it was.; I know that I had racing thoughts, that when I was over stressed I would feel completely overwhelmed, and there were times when I HAD TO FIND SOMETHING, and even when I found it, I wasn’t calmer, so IT MUST BE SOMETHING ELSE I NEED TO FIND.

I had serious issues with it before. In college, my Junior year, I had a long-term relationship end and for the first time in my life, school wasn’t so easy that I could do well by just paying attention.  I had massive back pain, and through therapy learned relaxation and meditation techniques.

When I had a horrific job in 2011, I was hospitalized for stomach issues, and eventually had to quit the job due to cascading panic attacks. I could also tell I was overstressed by forgetting little things, where my wallet or keys were, what day of the week it was, if I had completed small tasks because my brane was racing on other issues.  I can remember times I would be driving to work and realize I was driving to the wrong job (in one case, I was driving to a job I hadn’t work at in a couple of years).

So, in 2016 (worst year for me since 1999-2000) I again started having cascading panic attacks. I knew the external cause and got rid of it with help from my Tribe, but I kept having the issue, so I decided to get some help.  I completed a therapeutic class, got on some anti-anxiety medicine, worked harder on the meditation, and set up some mechanisms so that I wouldn’t completely overwhelm myself with Stuff To Do.

It’s been about a year, and I have only had a couple of nights where I have had full on panic attacks, whereas by July of 2016, I was having them daily. I have a relaxation routine, make sure to give myself days off, don’t force myself to do too much, and, most importantly, I take time off.  From the internet, from writing, from working, all of it.  I feed my brain, I enjoy what I have and I do what make me content.  Not Happy, content.

The anxiety is still there, but it’s maintainable and I can once again use it to help me complete things rather than giving in to it.

For those who have never gone through it, I explain that if you take how much you worry about things on a scale of 1 to 10, what normal people feel at a 3, I feel at a 10 and what normal people feel at a 5 makes me mentally shut down and go through the motions of what I have to do each day to survive. But now, it’s manageable.

Things I still do:

  • If someone doesn’t get back to me, I feel that they have obviously not longer like me and I should just leave them alone
  • Believe the worst case scenario will happen
  • That horrible thing someone said to me when they were mad? That’s obviously the real truth about me.
  • Overschedule myself so that I feel that I am needed somewhere
  • Really want to go do things, but as it gets closer to the time to do them, want to get out of it and just stay home

So. Last year in August, that list would have been about 20 items.  I’m getting better, but it’s a slow process, and to be honest, some of the things will NOT get any better, so I am learning how to deal with that.  This doesn’t mean I’m not happy.  I had a lovely Thanksgiving of doing things that I enjoy, this week I set aside an hour or two each night to have pure fun and writing this year’s November Novel made me giddy as I was doing it.

But it does mean that I feel bad if I haven’t gotten in touch with you, that it can get lonely from time to time, and I am still working on getting better.

Much love to friends old and new and thank you for your care and understanding.

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How are you?

When I left the field of Juvenile Justice, I learned that I no longer said “How are you” the way other people do. Most of the time, when we say that, we’re not REALLY asking if you are doing all right, it’s a standard nothing greeting.  I have had people in my life who complain that when they ask someone how they are, they actually tell them about the negative things in their life.

By The Way, I tend to spend less time talking to those people now.

I think it’s kind of sad that we are taught to respond to “How are you” with “Terrific, never better!” I was taught that in classes, seminars that the like and it always made me wince.  I understand the reasoning behind it, but a socially acceptable lie is still a lie.

I don’t like it. So, when I ask “How are you,” I am asking out of wanting to know how you actually are.  Has something wonderful happened lately?  Great!  Please share it with me! Have you been feeling out of sorts?  I’m sorry you feel that way, tell me about it.  Are you just this close to something finally being achieved? Wonderful, please share it with me! Have you had a rough day? That blows, I’m ready to listen.

We all say we want a better world, so maybe one way to do that is to ask people “How are you” and not expect them to be a shining beacon of Dale Carnegie positivity and triumph. Just be willing to listen when someone tells you about their life.

Much love to friends old and now and….how are you?

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Y’all Need To Find Something To Do

As I am working a lot more than normal (how is that possible, you may ask, and all I have to say is, I always find a way), but personal internet time is severely limited. When I am not working, I usually only have about an hour or two, and to unwind, I have been watching old episodes of MST3K and laughing pretty damn hard.

I have put up a couple of things on Twitter, since I can just drop them and not think about it afterward or be compelled to dig into what others are saying. I listen to a little bit of news on the BBC on my way to work or home so I don’t feel totally isolated.

I checked on Facebook yesterday when I had a spare minute, and one of the posts I had had generated over 200 responses. I won’t get into them other than to say, y’all need to find better things to do that yell at each other and call each other names on social media.  No one’s mind will be changed.  No one will “win” an argument.  No one is keeping score.  You won’t “own” anyone and your clever cruel remarks will fall on deaf ears.

No one will listen to you.

Let me repeat that again for the people in the back: NO ONE WILL LISTEN TO YOU.

If you and your buddies are having fun poking the people on the other side, you are the problem. Period.  Full stop.

I hear constantly “Why won’t liberals/conservatives listen to me!” Maybe because you call them libtards, hillbillies, snowflakes, dotards, and on and on and on.  I’d also like to let you know that when you start talking like that, you really aren’t saying anything anyone will listen to because you are just parroting what you heard.  Recently, someone sent me a nastygram calling me a “Beta cuck libtard snowflake SJW”.  Rather than hurting me, it made me think that the person hadn’t had an original thought in their life and we just vomiting up what they read somewhere and thought “heh, I’ll show those people who make me feel bad!”

My mind has been changed by my experiences and by learning, never by someone shouting at me and calling me names. All that gets you is blocked.

I say it all the time:  If you hurt me, even a little bit, you can fuck the fuck off.

And if I can pull that trigger on someone I have known for almost 20 years or in-laws, I have no problem doing it to random internet hatetroll.

In a perfect world, I’d ask you to quit talking and posting and listen. Listen to what people you disagree with say.  Ask them how they came to where they are in life.  Try to understand the fear that drives them to hate.

But, instead, I’ll just say that y’all need to find better things to do, so here’s a list:

  • Take a hike on the nature trails in your area.
  • Visit an art gallery or a museum and think about what was going through the mind of the artist as they created.
  • Read a book just for fun, some genre you enjoy like a mystery or action novel. Then find one in a used book store from 40 year ago in the same genre to see how writing has changed.
  • Try to find the best pizza in your city.
  • Listen to my podcasts, ya bastards.
  • Watch a foreign film. Yes, Godzilla counts.
  • Get involved in a toy drive or something for Christmas and see how you can do little things that really help people who need it.
  • I have four podcasts going, listen to them and then buy from our sponsors.
  • Make a list of how your life has improved in the last year, and if the list is too short, get to work fixing things.

Then again, you aren’t going to listen to me either. Everyone is just talking at us, not to us, and we may expect everyone to hear us, we don’t want to listen to what anyone else has to say.

Must love to friends old and new and again, y’all need to find something else to do.

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What I am thinking about today, 11/8/2017

  1. One of the great things about NaNoWriMo (National novel writing month) is the sheer speed of it. You don’t have time to go back and fix things, you just keep going. Yesterday, I wrote myself into a brick wall, came up with a new character and now have a great comedy sequence that moves the story forward AND ups the tension. For the second act.
  2. I am writing a fairly epic blog post about Brian Michael Bendis jumping to DC. I think this is a big deal, not because of the series he was writing for Marvel, but how deep he was in Marvels entire creative process on TV show, animation, video games and the like. This is a very big deal and will change the creative flow of Marvel. Will he make a change at DC? Hard to say. DC is kind of a mess, creatively, right now, with a few books generating interest, but the vast majority reading like mid 90’s Marvel with C grade characters.
  3. No word on MST3k’s second Netflix season or a Turkey Day for 2017. Hey, Netflix, you gave Marco Polo a second season, what the hell?
  4. There was a big election last night where things changed. I don’t trust it. It’s an off-off year, and only the people really mad came out. 2016 showed that America is fine with racism, hate and totalitarianism and I have seen nothing that convinces me that it has changed. I have given up on Americans and only live here because I don’t have the means to leave or anywhere to go.
  5. People don’t change. They may change for a while, but they will always return to baseline. It’s the one thing I am sure of.
  6. I have been on 12 hour days at the FT job due to it being our busy season. I am waking up, going to work, coming home, eating something, going to bed and doing it all again. I thought I would get a break, since the part-time job has slowed and I am only there two or three nights a week. I was wrong.
  7. I now just leave my phone in the car when I am at the FT job. Meh.
  8. It looks like I have the entire Thanksgiving weekend off. I am going to get requited with my gym, my streaming services and the huge pile of books that has been building up since Labor Day.
  9. The Universal “shared universe” where they will reboot their classic monsters has been shelved. Again. DC has stated their upcoming movies may not be connected. Making an interconnected movies universe it’s damn hard, kids.
  10. I haven’t been making with the positivity much lately. Maybe I too am reverting to who I was before 1999. Not that it seems to matter. Meh.
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Rough weekend

This was a rough weekend. I was at work for most of it, and we have sick clients, burned out staff, and the two are a brutal combination.  Staff had little patience and clients wanted to be taken care of and left alone at the same time.  They also had a lot of…well, you’ve been around sick people.

They are messy.

And not in a “left their socks in the living room” kind of messy.

I am also dealing with our busiest time at the full time job, sleeping away from home most every night and normal life stresses, so while I tried pretty hard to have patience with the clients, when they staff would start to lose patience, I didn’t have it in me to confront them. Instead, I would just step in and help the client back to their room, clean up the bathroom AGAIN or find things to help people calm down.  It took a lot out of me, so by the time I got home yesterday at 3 pm (and I’d been at work since 9 pm the night before) I just didn’t want to do anything.

The thought in my head after hearing the news headlines was “I give up.”

Part of it is how tired I was. Part of it was my lack of a personal life. Part of it was how little energy I have. Part of it was how my emotional checkbook is empty. Part of it is how I look at the state of things and feel like the selfish, the cruel, the violent….the monsters are winning.

Another mass shooting, and the exact same people who screamed that the perp in the Halloween attack in NYC needed to be shipped to Gitmo, and we needed to bar anyone from coming to the US minutes after that happened are the ones saying it’s too soon to say ANYTHING after yet another mass shooting with an AR-15.

Yeah, I say all the time that a lot of life is how you look at it and back when I decided to change my mindset, I said that I was going to do that. Some days it’s easy.  Some, it’s not.  Some days I have no problem with thinking the best of people and knowing that I have people in my life who care for me.  That the things I do to make things a little better than I left them is working.

Some days, though, some days it’s hard.

Some days, I’ll say that it’s just a ride, that we can change the world, that people can eventually be their best selves.

Some days, I just say in my head “I give up.” And there’s no one close to me in my life to talk me out of it.

So. Today?

I give up.

I’ll go to work.  I’ll write.  I’ll be kind to the people who cross my path.  Anything else?

I give up.  Life may just be a ride, but I’m tired of people turning the lights out on it.

I give up.

 

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Mental Health Awareness Day

Some days are easy.  You wake up refreshed and ready for the day.  Maybe you have a busy day at work where you do the things you enjoy about the job, and your co-workers are in good moods.  The day moves quickly, you are surprised by a little thing like having time to enjoy your lunch, a positive e-mail or someone wanting to meet you after work for something fun. 

Those days, being a positive influence, thinking the best of people, and enjoying where you are is effortless.  You have no problem holding the door for a stranger, leaving a big tip or helping out a coworker with a difficult task.  It’s almost effortless and you feel happy to be a part of the world around you.

Not every day is like that.

Some days you wake you feeling as if what you do has been a waste of time.  Your job is, at best, a treadmill where no matter what you do, you are not getting anywhere.  You’re overwhelmed, tired, lonely, and feel as if no matter what you do, things aren’t going to get any better.  There’s a reason the movie “Groundhog’s Day” is still popular, because we all get that feeling of going through the day and doing the same things over and over again.

There doesn’t have to be a reason for it.  Maybe it’s an anniversary of something crappy that happened to you, or one that used to be happy that now reminds you of when things were better.  Maybe it’s an e-mail from a boss or colleague first thing in the morning about something you messed up, or something you need to fix.  Maybe someone you wanted to hear from has blown you off and you feel like you did something wrong.  Maybe you have to deal with the unpleasant parts of your job, life isn’t going the way you wanted or…   

…you just woke up and don’t feel good about things. 

Those are the days it’s harder to feel like helping people or even putting up with them.  When I have those days, not only do I not want to help people, I don’t want people around.  It’s a terrible trick my brane plays on me:  I’m lonely, so to hell with people, I don’t want ANYONE to be around me.  Or, if my anxiety hits, it feels like everything is about to fall apart, and my fight or flight response goes into overdrive, making me feel as if everything in my life is a house of cards and will collapse with the slightest breeze.

That person who didn’t get back to you?  They really don’t like you and only put up with you to be polite, in fact most everyone just puts up with you because they HAVE to.  That job you have?  You’re going to be let go.  The car?  It will break down and make it so you can’t get to work AND cost more money than you have to fix. And so on, and so on, ad infinitum. 

I knew someone who had serious narcissism issues, and when they would be stressed, they would demand constant praise and attention.  The people in their life were not thought of as actual human beings with lives and emotions of their own, but props in their life to do what they were manipulated into doing.  As hard as it was for those people, it was just as hard for the narcissist, who had a deep hole in their soul they could never fill. And dude, the fact that I understood that helped for a very long time, and allowed me to put with a lot of behaviors that, looking back, were pretty damn rough.

Mental health is usually thought of in terms of the Big Things.  The addict.  The person unable to conform to society.  The person needing hospitalization.  But there are a lot of people who just struggle to make it day to day, and while they look like they are doing great, are just holding on by their fingertips. 

For my anxiety to hit last night it just took a single tweet that stated something like “It’s not that nice guys don’t get the girl, it’s that you aren’t a nice guy.” It wasn’t aimed at me, it was about the whole “nice guy whining about the friend zone” thing….  However, since it’s been a long time since my last relationship, it hit me differently.  I saw it as:  Well, that proves it.  I must be a screwed up abusive jerk who deserves to be alone.

Not exactly a normal, healthy response. I try pretty hard to keep the anxiety from taking over, but some days, man, some days I am Wile E. Coyote barely hanging on at the edge of the cliff and the Road Runner startles me.

That’s why we need to be aware of mental illness, and understand that it’s not something to hide or be ashamed of.

Or.

They are right and I deserve to be alone.

#MentalHealthAwarenessDay

 

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That’s How I Got To Memphis

If you love somebody enough you’ll follow wherever they go

That’s how I got to Memphis, that’s how I got to Memphis

If you love somebody enough you’ll go where your heart wants to go

That’s how I got to Memphis, that’s how I got to Memphis

-Tom T. Hall

 

In the TV series “The Newsroom”, the final episode uses this song as a storytelling device, with the lead character explaining that’s it’s not Memphis being talked about, but where ever you are. How did you get here.

I think a lot of about that in my life. How did I get to Minneapolis? How did I start working in social services? How did I start doing podcasts? How did I become a father? How did I become this person’s friend?

Life is a series of choices, some are presented dramatically, some just sort of happen because you go along with the flow. My move to Minnesota was one where I was with a woman and we were presented with the opportunity to move here. I visited a city I had never thought of going to in order meet someone I had started a relationship on-line for love. I have taken a few trips for love, and while I profoundly regret the first one, I feel the others were important choices.

I started work in social services because of the people I knew in high school who needed help and none was available to them. Eventually, I tapped out on working with teenagers, and now I work with developmentally disabled adults because I believe all we have is each other, and we need to take care of each other.

I got into podcasting because it was a new way to tell stories, and because my closest friend was working a travelling job, and it was a way for us to keep in touch and keep the friendship growing. The people I have on the show I do with Joe are people I feel close to and want to share that friendship with. Most of the time, it’s reciprocated. Most of the time.

Would I move for love? Sure. What I do, I can do anywhere with an internet connection and people who need help. Would I change my life for love? Of course. I’ve done it before. I have changed my future, given myself over to someone, opened my home to those I love, and helped people change their lives because I loved them. Even if they are gone, that’s a choice I made and it’s how I got here.

I suppose you could also say that everything we do makes us what we are.

How did YOU get to where you are now? Did you do it for love? Did you do it because it seemed right at the time? Did you just wander into it and have no reason to change? I hope that you did it because you wanted to get to Memphis. Metaphorically, of course, if we all lived there, I don’t think the sewer system could handle it. Life is fleeting and some doors are closed when you walk through them, but I hope that you get to where you wish to go, and that it’s far, far better than you had imagined.

Much love to friends old and new. Thank you for your precious time. Please forgive me if I start to cry. (Yeah, that’s in the song as well. Go listen to it, you’ll thank me.)

That’s how I got to Minneapolis. A single comics podcaster with two jobs, one biological child and one who showed up later, working in an office by day and with DD adults at night and weekends, and someone who followed where his heart wanted to go.

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