Friday, September 24, 2010

Balancing Act: It's Not Acting, It's Being Real

I just read a great post by Nightflower over on NWN about five practical ways to bring balance between your virtual life and your first life.  

Aside from all the great tips from Nightflower, there is one thing I would add to that list.  For me, the key factor in maintaining balance between two worlds is transparency

I think it goes without saying that balance for most of us lies with our real life responsibilities on the heavy end of that scale.  But the allure of escaping problems in our lives to a pretend virtual world can be consuming, and it is one I too, like many others, have struggled with. 

There was a time that I tried to keep my SLife a secret from my husband and family.  I won't bother to go into those details because honestly, we've all heard that story before, so there is no need for me to repeat it here.  I'll just skip to the part where all the energy I invested into compartmentalizing my two words and trying to keep secrets led me to cave under all the pressure I imposed on myself.  Things reached a point where I seriously considered walking away from not only SL, but my marriage as well - due to longstanding issues that existed way before I created my SL account.  I know what you're thinking, everyone says that, but what can I say?  That's the truth.

I'm happy to say that I didn't do either of those things.

Instead, I took my power back into my own hands and I made some choices.  I chose to work things out with my husband, which seemed like a lot of work at the time, but within a few short months, things started to turn around dramatically.  

I chose to stay in SL, but I knew if I wanted to do that, I had to shift my reasons for being in SL from escape and avoidance, to something that had a positive influence on me in my life. That's when I started getting consistent with updating my blog.  I started commenting on other blogs that I liked.  I joined Plurk and I started making new friends.  I tried new things in SL like modelling - which didn't turn out to be my thing, but it was fun while it lasted.  Just like in my real life, I made new choices and in the months that followed, I started seeing and feeling big changes in both my worlds.  

The key thing for me in all of this is honesty.  I don't keep secrets about SL anymore and that feels infinitely better.  My husband, although he doesn't completely understand SL, gives me my space.  Besides, I'm not interested in watching 4 hours of Euro and Deutsch World news with him every evening (nothing against Euro news, I just think one hour of news is enough lol).  One of the great strengths of our marriage is that we have always felt good about giving each other the space to be independent and pursue our own interests.  And to be fair, he did give SL a try and we created an avatar for him.  Being a musician, he is  interested in the music scene, but his work schedule is all over the place, and the bottom line is, he's just not that into SL.  And that's ok.  

My activities in SL are free for my husband and family to take a peek at, however, they are not really interested in it anyway, which is fine by me.  My point though, is that if they wanted to come take a look at what I'm doing, I have nothing to hide.   Keeping SL a secret only implies that there is something inherently wrong or bad about it, and that's not the message I want to put across to my husband and children.  

Another seemingly small thing that I do that helps me maintain balance - I have loosened the reigns so to speak on my boundaries between RL and SL.  I have my RL pic in my first life profile, I keep in touch with my close friends over Facebook and email.  These are things I never would have considered doing before, but I feel safe to do this now because I don't have anything to hide anymore.  And one big thing I have learned in SL is that all people really want is for you to just be yourself.  I realize that you don't need to post your RL picture or disclose personal information to be yourself, that's just my choice.  

I also have a career that I love, a mortgage, and my two children (who are my world), that keep me grounded in the atomic world.  Yes, my children are often around when I am logged in (which explains my random afk's), but they are my first priority always.  I would much rather be out in the world with my husband and children than logged into SL.  I think I have been here long enough to pass the consuming addiction stage and move into maintaining a comfortable balance between my two worlds.

For myself, transparency between two worlds is the bridge that connects SL and RL.  I know others may not agree with this, but everyone has different lives and circumstances and in my case, I know this is the right choice.  I am not suggesting that this is the right way for every single person.  This is only what feels good for me.  I suggest that anyone who is struggling to find balance, to be really honest with yourself and have the courage to find what feels good for you too.  One thing I know for sure is that it will not be the same for every person.

When I am open and honest about SL with my husband and family, and most importantly honest with myself about what needs SL is fulfilling for me and why, balance just seems to naturally fall into place and doesn't feel like much work at all.  

Peace :))

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hear My Voice

I totally just recorded this and listened to it over and over again like 10 times before I decided to just get on with it and post it here.  I could be here all night if I don't just post it now!

So here you go, here's my voice.  I'm told I sound very Canadian.  How many times do you think a person can say "ummm" within a few minutes?  

Spoken Word Party for SL Bloggers
Date:  Thursday, September 23rd, 2010
Time:  6pm slt
Where:  Blue Angel Poet's Dive, in Kolor
This is a voice enabled event

Saturday, September 11, 2010

This is how I remember it

Today is 9/11.  I remember that day on the subway and the driver announcing the attacks on the World Trade Centre.  We shuffled out onto Yonge St, a mass exodus from below street level -   crowds of commuters, office workers, students and children.   We watched news broadcasts on televisions in storefronts on the crowded Toronto sidewalks.  We lingered in shock and horror and cried silently.  I have never heard the city that quiet, ever.  A terrible silence so startling and shrill...I pray that the world will never hear a sound like that again.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Spoken Word Party for SL Bloggers!

The wheels are in motion and the Spoken Word Party for SL Bloggers is gaining momentum.

My partner in crime, er, I mean for this event (heehee) Chestnut Rau has put together a fantastic little invite which will be sent out to the SL Bloggers group in-world (thank you Tymm!).   If you are not in the group and would like an invite, send me an i.m and I'll drop one in your inventory. 

I'm really looking forward to this event, but at the same time I am nervous as hell about it!  I have no idea which of my blog posts I want to read.  How many people are going to show up?  Is anyone even interested in an event like this?  Can I come up with something new and original to share for the event?  OMG What am I going to wear?!!!

Seems kind of crazy that I am feeling so nervous because this whole thing was my idea in the first place. 

But my reasons for wanting to put this together are purely selfish.  I'm an avid blog reader.  I love reading about all the diverse unique ways in which people see and experience SL and how that interacts with their lives outside the virtual world.  I am interested in people, and the only thing that I can think of that is better than reading a great piece of writing by my favourite bloggers, is hearing them recite their words themselves.  Hearing voices express the thoughts and emotions that inspired their words is a gift, and that is one gift that I can never get enough of.

Now I couldn't possibly invite a bunch of bloggers to come read their work aloud and not read my writing too, so that's why I'm doing this.

Nervous gulp.

But if I dig deeper, there's more to it than just that...

I've read my poetry in SL once before, and as terrified as I was about it, the experience was totally worth it, and I will do it again.  Writing is one thing, but sharing it with others...well, it's like it completes that creative process.  It's like "here is my work, my time, my emotions, my passion"'s like giving away a little piece of me and then you are free to do whatever you want with it.  Sharing these little pieces of me with you makes me feel full. 

So there you have it.  I hope  to see you there.  This event is open for everyone, you don't have to read aloud if you don't want to.  Your presence will be greatly appreciated. 

Spoken Word Party for SL Bloggers
  • Date:  Thursday, September 23, 2010
  • Time:  6pm slt until...whenever!
  • Location:  Blue Angel Poet's Dive, in Kolor
  • This is a voice enabled event - be sure to adjust your Preferences upon your arrival

Monday, September 6, 2010

AFK by Huckleberry Hax...a Second Life Novel

The other day, in my daily meanderings around SL, I came upon an interview and short story reading by Huckleberry Hax.  I have heard Huckleberry recite his poetry at the Blue Angel Poet's Dive before (which by the way, his poetry is spectacular), but I did not know that he also wrote fiction that was set in SL.  For a bookworm like me, this is very exciting news. 

I immediately went to his website to download a copy of "AFK", which is free to download as a PDF file, but is also available for purchase from Lulu if you prefer to read a hard copy. 

I haven't even finished the book yet, I'm about halfway through, but let me tell you, it totally engaged and enthralled me from the first page. 

The story follows the SLife of Definitely Thursday, an in-world detective, who shares his thoughts and experiences of being a detective in SL.  But it's more than that, it's an engaging thriller/mystery while at the same time, an insightful and meaningful expression of what SL means to so many of it's users.  

One of my favourite passages...

"It had started to occur to me that Second Life was playing with dolls in a dolls' house.  Second Life was making model air planes.  Second Life was playing doctors and nurses, or soldiers and spacemen.  Second Life was painting.  And writing.  And music.  And maths.  Second Life was building little villages for toy trains to steam around.  Second Life was slotting racing track together and making cars whiz around it.  Second Life was joining a fan club or a local book discussion circle.  Second life was being pen pals.  Second life was writing love letters."

I absolutely love that paragraph.  

I don't want to say too much more about the novel, because I don't want to spoil it for anyone if you haven't already read it, so go download a copy now!  It really is a great read.

I would love to discuss this novel with other fans in-world.  Anyone have a book club I could join? :D

Download of AFK by Huckleberry Hax

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I learn something new everyday

Bad mood the other day.  Just disregard that last cryptic blog post.  Two weeks of chronic neck pain and headaches are driving me to insanity.   


So today, after having this blog for 10 months, I finally discovered the Stats tab in my blogger dashboard.  I saw it before, but never bothered to open it.  For whatever reason, I decided today was the day to go see what it was all about.  And to my surprise, there were all my blog stats conveniently laid out for me.  Why did I not notice this before?! 

Wow!  Now I can actually check my blog traffic by day, week, or month, see where my traffic is coming from and which posts are getting the most views.  Very cool.  And to think I even considered paying $10 a month for that useless, but pretty, stats counter I was using for the free two week trial period.  Blogger already has it all! 

I was curious to see which post has generated the most traffic on my blog.  I'm feeling a little sheepish to say that it was my post entitled Emerald is my new BFF that has pulled in the most  traffic.  Wow, do I feel like a dumbass now that the EmeraldGate scandal has come and gone!  Oh well, it was an entertaining blog post...and in my the heck was I supposed to know?! 

But second to that, is my post entitled How to Build Community in SL.  It may not have received the amount of hits my Emerald post did (which surprises me), but it wins the prize for most comments and I still will get a random i.m in-world once in awhile from someone who liked the post.  

Like last night for example when I met the lovely Owly Indigo, a fellow profile stalker, who read about the How to Build Community poster in my profile and reached out to me to ask for a copy of it for her sim.  She wrote about that here on her blog.

That was really nice, and it was a good reminder for me to put myself out there too and start mingling.  Being the introvert that I am, it's far too easy for me to retreat into my shell and stay there, which is not so great for community building.  

Speaking of community building activities, Chestnut Rau and I are planning a mid September event for SL bloggers.  I will have more details here in the near future, but for now, I promise you it will be a laid back, entertaining and fun filled time that you will definitely want to be a part of.  I'm excited about it!  Stay tuned for more details.

That's all I have for tonight.  Until next time, take care of yourselves and have a fantastic Second Life!