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There’s No Right Way to Deal With Loss

I haven’t written much on here since I packed up all my belongings and moved to another city. I was excited to document the new chapter in my life, to experience new things, foods, interactions with new people, and figure out my place in my new home. A lot of things have been taking up my time, and I didn’t find much motivation to do some actual writing. I found some. And it has come from the unexpected passing of my cousin, Lucille.

As I grow older, my view on life in general continues to change. I accept things with more ease than I would have been able to in my younger days. And yes, I am relatively young, but I do feel that there has been enough life altering experiences that I have directly and indirectly been a part of, that I am becoming more accepting of the fact that life often times deals you a crappy hand and you either fold or you make the best of it.

I’m 32 years old.

In the grand scheme of life, that’s young. I acknowledge that. What I also acknowledge is that age is just a number and anything can happen. I have loved ones in my life both younger and older who have had to deal with cancer, depression, suicide,… Some of these people are no longer with us. It wasn’t until a friend of mine (close to my age) died unexpectedly a couple years ago that I realized that the circle of life is more like a crazy, jagged structure that has no obvious shape or path. When you understand the basics of life, you come to terms with certain realities. I fully expect to witness the passing of my parents, maybe even my brother. That’s not a morbid thought. That’s based off of the life expectancy of age and gender. I also expect that I will be sending my dogs to the Rainbow Bridge at some point in the next few years. Again, it’s not morbid. I don’t obsess over the ideas, but in the back of my mind, they are there and they are things I have to accept as part of life.

My cousin, Lucille, was not much older than me. I found a letter she had written and sent to me right after my 13th birthday. She was already well into college in another city. She used to babysit me and my brother when we were kids, and I distinctly remember her making us grill cheese sandwiches. Sometimes, we would get them with ham, and whenever I asked, she would cut the ham into a star.

I remember her watching Magic Knight Rayearth with me (I loved that anime), and she even gave us lighted pens that matched the colors of the main characters of the show. I remember her adding a little poem to a notebook I carried with me since 2002, and I remember being super envious of her penmanship. Because she lived in another city, we didn’t see her during the holidays much. Before the next generation of cousins were born, we did a lot of White Elephant events. Lucille sent in one present; I won that present. It was a homemade quilt, and it’s amazing. I still use it to this day.

I remember seeing her when her father remarried (her mother/my aunt had passed years before this) and she asked me what I thought about it. I said “well, there aren’t any fires that have broken out, so I guess she’s okay with it” and Lucille laughed. She had a contagious laugh. It was just wholesome.

I remember her asking me if I thought fairies and elves were real or existed at some point. I’m not sure how I responded, but I know she believed in them at the time she asked me that question. She believed in otherworldly things because there just had to be more to this place.

Fast forward to now. Just last week. We received texts from her sister that Lucille was ill. She had been in the hospital for a few days. I sent her a text saying that I was thinking of her, and I loved her. Even though I hadn’t seen her in many years, the sentiment was still true. I never got a response from her, but I hope that she saw it. Couple days later, we received news that Lucille had passed. I had just gotten to work, and I just cried in my car.

Even while writing this, I feel like crying. And I feel many different emotions. Above all sadness, then comes disbelief, confusion, anger, more sadness, rinse and repeat. All of us mourn in different ways. My mind went all over the place in the last week. I wondered why her, then wondered who was next, then contemplated the fact that it could be me or my brother, then went into thinking I was being punished for moving away from my family, then I went numb. There’s no real logic to your feelings when you’re in mourning, and really there’s no right way to mourn.

I play video games or cook, anything that takes my focus off of the sadness I feel when I think about her. Some people deal with loss by just not talking about it or talking about it all the time. Some use humor to deflect, others find as many things as they can that reminds them of the person who is gone. Some just don’t process it at all and don’t accept it as truth. Some break down. There is no wrong way to mourn. Actually, there is one wrong way. I cannot and will never accept suicide as a means of mourning. I know that if someone were to do that in response to Lucille’s death, she would be pissed and probably hunt down your spirit and kick your ass. Lucille celebrated life. Her very name means light.

This year is the first year of my entire life that I have spent the holidays without my family. I never felt more lonely, but only because I couldn’t be with my parents and my brother during this family tragedy. Luckily, I have friends here and all over the world who have helped me. I know I regurgitated a lot of stuff on Twitter , FB, and IG, but they didn’t mind. They were only supportive. Another way I deal with mourning is continually telling people that I love them. Death not only serves as a catalyst to remember fond memories of those no longer here, but it should also revitalize the relationships that are still present in physical form.

So if you’ve made this far into my blog post, thank you. And I love you. Thank you for being part of my community, and thank you for being with me this long as I remember one kick ass cousin who truly did make this world a little brighter.

If you would like to help the family, Lucille’s brother set up a donation page.

Hey! Listen! Kick cancer’s butt!

A good friend of mine will be getting a hysterectomy done because she had been diagnosed with cancer and this is one of the safest ways to keep it from spreading. Many friends came together to wish her all the best and a speedy recovery. This is one of my favorite collaborations.

I asked many people to come together to send my friend Jenn/RT Lozelda all the positive thoughts possible. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this project. You guys are the absolute best, and Jenn and I are thankful to know you.

SPECIAL NOTE: I asked Jenn to watch this video before it went public. She totally cried her eyes out. We totally made her cry like a bitch.

 

Asking For Help Is Not a Sign of Weakness

I was always taught that I should be able to take care of myself, that I need to be able to look out for number one because no one else would. In truth, that is not an unfair or unrealistic statement, but I realized that in my years of adulthood, I have a very difficult time asking for assistance when it comes to matters of life and the heart. This mentality somewhat ties into my Paladins write-up about not wanting to be a burden to another person or admitting that you cannot always be the strong one that others look up to.

There is a large portion of my life that is dedicated to connecting with people whether that be through professional or personal connections. I enjoy networking and I find it rewarding when I cross paths with someone who has similar interests as myself. One of the best things about meeting and e-meeting people is that you establish connections all over the world. Even better, you find that many of these people are genuinely good people.

Fun fact: I don’t like bothering people.

Time and time again, I have conversations that goes like this:

Me: Yeah, that part of my life was incredibly rough. I don’t know how I survived that.

Friend: Why didn’t you ask for help???

Me: I didn’t want to bug people with my issues.

Friend: DUDE. Ask for help! Friend help out friends. That’s what we do!

Similar conversations have happened in the past, and I can’t count how many times they’ve occurred. I would say that my reluctance to ask for help is comprised of many feelings and emotions including stubbornness, pride, and fear. The last one is a big one. I   have two fears when it comes to asking people for help. One, I’m scared of being rejected and two, I’m scared that some form of payment is expected at a later time even though this help is being offered to me under the guise of friendship/ the goodness of someone’s heart. There have been many times in my life when accepting help from someone has backfired on me later down the road. It’s essentially “well, I did this for during that time you needed me. Now you owe me.” That is a very scary statement if you think about it.

I’ve learned to shed the poisons out of my life, but a small level of paranoia stays in the back of my mind. In present day, I find myself in a pivotal moment in my life. I know what I want to do, and I know what I need to do, but I have to come to terms with the fact that I cannot do it alone. As much as I want to be the epitome of unwavering strength, I have to think about my life in realistic terms. I have to understand that yes, I am strong, but I don’t have to carry the weight of life and the world on my own every waking moment.

I asked for help. And I’m getting it. And while I’m still scared, I don’t feel nearly as alone as I did. I am reminded that I am loved, and that I have good people in my life. These people understand me, and understand the difficulties and the hardships I am experiencing. I had a good talk with a friend and she told me she believed in me. I was nearly brought to tears because I had felt so much weight lifted off of me. I could literally breathe easier. And she’s not the only one who is willing to stop moments of her life for me. That hit me so hard, and realizing that these people care that much about me made me feel like I can take anything on. How is that weak? It isn’t. It was empowering. Knowing when you need that little extra bit of help, and lowering your guard in order to initiate the request is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s a sign of strength. It’s, I suppose, a form of baring yourself and allowing vulnerability for a moment or two.

I am in a very odd cross section in my life, and I don’t know if what I wrote made any sense. I’ve been thrown a lot of obstacles in the past year, and I am finding out more and more about myself and how I want to live my life. Hurdles, epiphanies, heartache, disappointment, and doubt have filled my mind in recent days, but I buckled down and told myself I can push through all of it. I just need a little help.

And I’m getting it.

And I am grateful for it. Forever and always.

Paladins. I Don’t Necessarily Mean the D&D Ones.

I’ve had quite a few of these conversations lately, and that has lead to me writing about this topic. Everyone has a rock, someone they lean on for strength, support, and encouragement. We all have one or two, and in truth, it’s healthy to be able to vent to someone who is wiling to listen to you and not pass any judgement.

What isn’t healthy is if that is the only types of interactions we have with these specific people. There should be a healthy balance in any type of relationship, but once it becomes incredibly one-sided, it starts becoming toxic. People who are rocks are essentially paladins. They are altruistic, empathetic, and selfless to the point where they won’t openly admit when they themselves are crumbling because they don’t want to show the people who rely on them that they can no longer be supportive. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard “it’s nice being able to talk to someone because I’m usually the one people come to.”

Imagine being the journal, the ear, the foundation to multiple people who are struggling for various reasons. Now imagine instinctively carrying that weight in your mind and heart even though the conversation ended with “thanks for listening.” Paladins don’t shake those conversations, those worries or those burdens off.  Paladins accept these as their own because they feel it’s their way of contributing to life, to the world, and to their loved ones. It becomes part of them; that’s part of being empathetic.

And as much as paladins don’t want to admit it, even they struggle as well. They have their own share of misfortune at times just like everyone else, but they don’t like to tell others about it because they understand what that weight can do to someone. It’s a vicious one-way street for them more than it is a cycle.  They want to remain and appear strong for those who rely on them, and they will only break down behind closed doors.

Why am I writing this? I want people to have an understanding of the paladins in their lives. This isn’t to make them feel guilty about venting to their pillars of support, far from, but this is more to help them understand that those pillars are people too. Allow them to recharge. Understand that they also need time away from the crazy of the world. No matter how much they hold things together, sometimes, they need to step back and take a breather. One of their flaws is that they won’t ask for this break because they believe that they have to be helpful 24/7. I write this for those who  may find themselves all of a sudden wondering why their rock may disappear for a while. I write this for those who may even be angered when one of their friends goes dark for a bit. I write this for those who may only come to their paladins when they need them. I write this for those who may be paladins themselves. There is no one reason I’m writing down these thoughts, but the overall intention is understanding.

It is possible that some people will read this and spin negativity out of it. They may assume that I am writing this to make people who have troubles feel guilty about talking to their friends about their issues and problems. I am not. And that is an entirely different topic of discussion. I am writing this post to shed some light on a perspective that isn’t always thought about. I will throw in, however, that if you are only coming to shed troubles and leave, I won’t back down from saying that treating paladins like that isn’t healthy and it is unfair. People may assume that I speak for everyone on both sides, but I do not. As with all of my posts, I speak for myself and my own experiences. People can feel however they want with my posts, but it is no secret that my intention is to help, not damage.

Bottom line is whatever situation you may be involved in currently, if you have a paladin in your life to help you along, I’m glad for that. As I wrote earlier, it’s healthy to be able to share your troubles with trusted friends. I think you can agree that we need more people like them in the world. I am only asking that you remember that while paladins seem unbreakable, they are human.

Watching Your Community Grow is Like Witnessing a Seed Bloom Into a Garden of Awesome

I will be the first to admit that I am not always the most patient person. But I will also acknowledge that this is solely dependent on what I am waiting for. If I was waiting for someone in a store to check out and they had 50 coupons and was paying via personal check, I would just stand back and wait. However, if I were playing a video game like The Last of Us, I lose all forms of patience while waiting for a Clicker to walk by my hiding spot.

But here I am on July 26, 2016, looking over numbers and stats, comments and responses on various social media platforms that I manage on my own. I have moments where I think to myself “holy crap… I interact with people A LOT.” I remember back when I was a kid, I was very shy. I didn’t play with other kids; I just kept to myself in my own corner. My dad said he would feel bad whenever he would pick me up from school because I was always alone. I was considered a strange bird by many. I remember learning about shapes. The teacher asked us to makes squares, and I made circles. I got made fun of for it. A lot of that awkward carried over into my teenage and young adult years. I always felt out of place wherever I was. I could get along with people just fine, but I never felt like most people really understood me. There were a few, but they either moved away, physically or emotionally.

In the last couple years, I really started focusing on me. I didn’t have a solid plan, but I found the beginnings of a path that was interesting to me, and I blindly went down it. My love for video games never waned, so I learned more about the industry, the people, the products, and I found that I loved video games even more. A former co-worked connected me to Randy Greenback and he was my first look into the welcoming culture of game development. He may not know it, but the few conversations we had changed my life for the better. By the way, he’s currently working on the new Friday the 13th game. You should totally check it out.

With Randy’s helpful and wise words backing me, I delved into the world of networking. I was more active on Twitter, I eventually created the blog that is currently housing the very post you are reading, and I focused on the elements of community and bringing people together. I’ve met and e-met so many different people, good and bad, it’s quite mind blowing to me. I’ve had amazing experiences and not so great ones, but I couldn’t find a better fit for my personality.

Fast forward to now. I have a small following on the internet and it’s a fascinating mix of acquaintances, friends, family, and completely strangers. While the numbers aren’t huge compared to the bigger names on these platforms, I find solace in knowing that this is MY community. I don’t have one focus either. I update Twitter primarily, but I am active on YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, this blog, Vine, and a few others. I try to create an environment where there is something for everyone. That’s why I made the GeekyFriedRice Guild. Doesn’t matter if you love just anime or video games or cosplay or movies or if you love it all… you have a place here. Nerdy? Geeky? Great. You’ll fit right in! I enjoy conversing with people of different backgrounds because it helps shape and grow my own perspective of the world.

I didn’t think I would be here. I didn’t think I would be attending or volunteering for conventions and building relationships and friendships. I didn’t think that people would actually care about me or the things I love doing. I didn’t think people would come up to me and say “you don’t know me but I wanted to say hi and thank you for what you’re doing.” I didn’t think I would ever be that type of influence for people, but it’s happening, and I recognize that, and it makes me want to do better. And this isn’t all on me either. You guys help me a great deal as well. This is a two-way street here. I hope you all know how much I appreciate you.

I just recently identified my community as the GeekyFriedRice Guild. I’m not sure exactly what the future holds for it, but it warms my heart that you are here. For real. I’m being super cereal. Thank you for being my community. Less than three you!

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Help us fight cancer (1)

Livestreaming Bloodborne to help a friend beat cancer

I was going to do a write-up on Bloodborne as I completed the game a couple weeks ago, but since then, I received some distressing news from a very dear friend. Shelly and I have been friends since about 8th grade, and while we drifted apart after graduation, we reconnected about five years ago. I was ecstatic to find that we had similar interests in video games, cosplay and shared a common love of the geeky culture. I was also very saddened to learn that she had many medical ailments including Crohn’s disease, iron deficiency and a very weak immune system. When we would plan some outings, there would be times when she couldn’t make it simply because she was too weak to leave her home. Even through all that, she still managed to help me with a couple video collaborative projects and she made time for me when she could.

She has never complained about her condition. She never blamed anyone else for them and has never projected any negative feelings in general regarding them. With her, it was always about living life to the fullest and never taking anything for granted. She has always placed others before her, and I believe, is the very definition of altruism. Very recently, she found out that she had colon cancer. You know what she did? She shed a ton of tears, she informed family and friends, and then she went out and voted because what happens in her country matters to her. She and her husband are currently traveling to Ohio to seek treatment in the medical facilities there and as of today, they are waiting for results from numerous biopsies to determine if more surgeries are needed or if they will go straight to chemo.

I want to help her. Every year, I participate in video game related charity livestreams to raise donations for sick children and their families. This time, I will be livestreaming for someone close to my heart and I will be featuring her gofundme page on my channel. I don’t have a lot of money, but what I can do is entertain people and bring awareness to what is going on in her life.

Why Bloodborne? As I said, I completed the game not too long ago, and I told myself that I wouldn’t play it again because it was set at a level of difficulty that was pretty devastating to my psyche. I know how that sounds. But when you play something over and over and over again and you fail at it over and over and over again, it begins to affect you. I don’t know how I managed to beat it, but I did and that was quite an accomplishment for me. I was quite proud of that, but I said that I would shelve Bloodborne for the foreseeable future. And then I read about Shelly’s update. As weird as this sounds, Bloodborne seems like the perfect game to play for something like this. No matter how angry and upset I will be at the game, those feelings pale in comparison to what Shelly is experiencing. To me, that is fantastic motivation to livestream as long as I can. If she’s going to battle cancer, then I can take on a video game to help her in her fight.

Thank you to everyone who has shared Shelly’s page and/or donated. Seeing people come together to help her has warmed my heart. There aren’t enough words to express how grateful I am, how thankful she is. I text her a few times over the last couple days, and she cried several times because she is in disbelief that so many people who don’t know her are willing to help and support her. You guys are wonderful. I hope to see you this weekend.

Kicking cancer’s ass livestream starts March 5, 2016 at 9am PST

Twitch.tv/geekyfriedrice

You can donate here: gofundme.com/shellylarson

If you would like video representation of the stories above: