Silent Voices, Ringing Waves

I found the following post in my drafts. It was written during the Summer of 2019 and never finished due to the emotional nature of hearing loss and how it affects your life. While I am no longer completely deaf, my hearing was drastically damaged from years of ear infections and my own premature birth. This final set of infections from working in dust and dirt for weeks did leave my hearing worse than ever but I am thankful that it is not gone.

Ruminations from the Summer of 2019. Ringing covers the sounds of my world. There is no sound of thunderstorms, breezes, birds or nature. What is worse is the loss of the sounds of my loved ones. No more childish giggles, no tones or inflections to their voice. Everyone sounds the same; when I can hear them which is infrequent at best.

Illness came upon me like a thief in the night. One moment I felt an allergy attack the next a double ear infection and ruptured ear drum. Swiftly the illness moved as a squall from sea to land.

Three weeks I live in a world of ringing and uncertainty. I feel isolated in a room of people because I cannot hear anyone so conversation is impossible. The ringing alone is enough to drive me mad. No break, no silence just constant noise.

The uncertainty of recovery is frightening. My youngest is just learning to speak. The middle child about to enter school and the oldest loves to chat and share. Currently, I am missing so much because they have to face me and yell for me to possibly hear them. They are tired and frustrated; as am I.

Constant reminders that if I am yelling I don’t know it because I cannot hear my own voice. Reminding them it is alright let me know I am yelling.

Now, I have learned to modulate my voice and tone more consistently, but when you cannot properly hear yourself it is difficult. Tinnitus is an almost constant companion and I am immensely grateful for the rare moments of true silence. What I am most grateful for is that I can still hear the voices of my loved ones. The silly way words form when toddlers learn to speak; the way losing childhood teeth impacts speech on big kids. Their precious laughter.

Stay Sassy, Viking Mama

Food Wars: Kids & Puppies …


Food Wars
Puppy vs Toddler edition
Sassy Viking Mama & Sassy Leo Mama

Everyone needs a fellow sassy sister. They help you find humor in daily life. Cry with you when saying Fuck doesn’t help and kick ass when you are too tired too.

I am fortunate to have such a woman in my life. In fact there is a small tribe of us: aunts, mothers, sisters, daughters. Some of us actually related but mostly heart family. It took me decades to find these people. The ones whose soul songs match my harmony.

Stay sassy! Viking Mama

Adventures and Transitions in Parenting

As a parent I find that my life has been in a constant flux for the last eight years. When my children were infants I felt as though I was trying to survive on interrupted sleep, coffee i.v. and cuddles; with the occasional adult time with my partner. As toddlers we worked through emotional, mental and physical growth in their body, mind and spirit; often in leaps and bounds.

Now my children are 8, 6, and 3. The infant stage is long behind us and while I miss the cuddles of infancy, I love seeing my children’s personalities emerge and grow. I don’t know if I am better at seeing the cognitive and emotional jumps because this is my third child or he is just more obvious in his behavior changes but we are going through the three’s. With my three year old there is a sadness when his stages end, as we are done having little kids.

Conversely, my 6 year old struggles between his personal freedoms and staying home with mama. But I love hearing his stories of lunchtime escapades. Yesterday, he was pikachu and his best friend was his trainer … they paired up against another trainer and Pokemon in the schoolyard. I am not sure how they were “catching” or “battling” each other but I got a call from school about roughhousing at lunch and the scrape on his chin. After finding out it was a tiny scrape and the story behind it the nurse did not know how to react when I laughed at the boys escapades. I was just glad he was having fun with friends and using his imagination.

My 8 year old and I are going through a huge transition. Traditional schooling is not working out for her, so we are beginning our adventures in online schooling and homeschooling. She could not be more excited. Especially since she has a laptop from the school, something she had been begging for and we said no. However, I have borrowed one from the school because I like the flexibility it offers me in her education and still attending to her brothers pre-school homeschool education.

We have spent the last part of this month in what is called unschooling. Allowing a natural transition from the traditional school environment to being homeschooled. She has been a part of setting up the kids office space and today will help me rearrange the bookshelf to put all her schoolbooks away from the toddlers reach; plus keep her art and science supplies away from our house art and science supplies. Each day she has been doing assignments and reading based on what I have given her to see what does and doesn’t work. She has ADHD, so this has been a good time for me to learn what does and doesn’t work for timeframes and projects. It will be a learning curve but for the first time in a few years she is excited about school.

Yesterday, I spent the morning signing up for this semesters homeschool classes at the zoo and science center. There are several homeschool co-ops to reach out to in the area, drum lessons to be procured. Plus arrangements to be made with friends for guitar lessons and music reading/theory. We are fortunate that the pool of people to assist us with homeschooling and supplemental education include: IT professionals, Computer Sciences Professor, Professional Storyteller, Environmental Conservationist, Earth Sciences Enthusiast, Math teacher, Music teacher, Musicians, crafters, artists …. and this is why it takes a village.

The adventures continue and I find that as they do my personal focus can begin to shift a little more personally. A lot of who I am and what I love has been set aside for the last eight years to fully be there for my family. I didn’t want to miss a moment of my little ones being little, especially since my husband gave me the gift of being a stay at home parent. There is not a moment of regret at this sacrifice, but now that they are growing it is time for me to reclaim and rediscover mama.

I have been spending a lot of introspective time. In this I have been reminiscing on who I was before children and who of that person is still there. My love of writing has never diminished; however I do wish inspiration struck during the daylight instead of the middle of the night but I will take inspiration however I can get it. There is also the craftsperson, gardener, herbalist, chef, meditation guide, aromatherapist and lover of the old ways that honor the cycle of life. Slowly, I breathe life back into myself and allow myself and my children to discover who this person is.

Sassy Mama

New Year’s Eve Family Style

New Year’s Evening was a quiet affair this year. My partner had to work early this morning, so we opted to stay home instead of heading to our friends annual party. Two of our children were old enough to stay up and watch the ball drop.

I introduced my family to the game Photosynthesis. It deals with growing trees from seed to maturity to death as well as the revolution of the sun. The kids loved it despite us fumbling our way through only one and half rounds of the game before realizing we were making rules mistakes. After that we decided to put it away and try again tonight when there was more focus and sit still abilities.

Pro Tip: don’t try to read rules and explain a game you have only played once with a three year old throwing an overtired fit, plus excited 8 and 5 year olds and expect to be successful in comprehension and explanation of gameplay.

Overall I love this game. I had been interested in this for a long time. My son-in-law brought the game down for Christmas visit and I was hooked. The artwork is amazing and as my partner pointed out I am enthralled with big box games with beautiful artwork. Anytime I can add in teachings of the cycle of life and nature I am totally going to do that.

After that was a giant cuddle pile on the sofa. Daddy napped, we took turns picking shows and the puppies lost their minds with attention. After a bit we turned to art and dancing. The excitement of the five year old when the countdown began and the ball dropped was off the hook. I wish I could have bottled his energy.

Bringing in the New Year with love, cuddles, art and music was an amazing way to bring in 2020.

May your New Year be blessed with love, friendship, prosperity, peace, kindness, humanity and laughter.

Mama Irisa

Creating a Tribe: Finding the people who support us

Creating a tribe, a community of people that we can count on is fundamental to our human nature. We all seek to belong. The labels we give ourselves based on interests, personalities and societal standards is a way for us to belong either as conformists or non-conformists, those included or excluded from the social situations they find themselves in.

Many of us feel as though we have several masks: work, school, family, chosen family, friends, children, etc. Where in this is truly what we seek? When we are in touch with our dreams, desires and interests then we can honestly begin to seek out those who harmony matches ours. Our tribe doesn’t need to have all the same interests, never disagree, or even see each other daily.

What a tribe does need to do is be supportive. Whether that support comes in the form of a hug and listening ear, a kick in the ass to get going in the direction we need and desire, or helping you catch up on laundry it doesn’t matter as long as it is healthy, mutual support that leaves you a better person at the end of the day.

As a child I always searched for friendships and life situations that felt right. When things did not feel right or no longer suited I wasn’t afraid to make a change. This earned me the childhood nickname of ‘queen of change’. I also had a second nickname of ‘mama ‘Ris or Camp Counselor’ from an early age because I always listened to those I cared about and done my best to support them.

Over the years I have been blessed to know some remarkable people. These individuals have taught me alot. Some of the most profound statements I have ever learned are: How can I support you? and You get to feel what you feel, it is how you act and react on those feelings that counts.

How can I support you? is an extraordinary statement. It makes no supposition of what an individual wants or needs; no promises or solutions. This statement merely gives an individual the opportunity to be honest about where these are in a current situation and what they may need from those who car for them.

You get to feel what you feel, it is how you act and react on those feelings that counts. Human beings are instinctual creatures. We cannot control how a situation is going to make us feel; however, we can control how we respond to that emotion. Understanding what emotion we are having is important as to why we may be feeling that way. Emotions tell us we need to examine a situation and address something that isn’t working. Whether it is something in ourselves we need to address or with another individual or life situation emotions tell us what is and is not working in our life.

I have found these statements beneficial to tribe building because each tribe starts with a friendship. Be the friend you want to have. Treat your family the way you want to be treated. Respect personal boundaries but make sure yours are respected as well. Respect is not a one way street.

Tribes do not need to be huge. Mine began with two friendships and has grown as each of us has grown and loved others. How did I cultivate a tribe? Be willing to be vulnerable, but not a doormat. Be honest, but kind. Don’t do all the work as relationships take work from all the individuals involved.

Follow your interests, hobbies, passions and it will take you to people who enjoy those things too. Strike up conversations with people at these activities. Often that is as simple as complimenting something an individual is wearing or listening to a conversation and finding a commonality to comment on. Don’t force it, let it flow. This may not happen overnight or in a day or a week. My tribe took years to form and many starts along the way.

My tribe grew and changes as I grew and changed as a person. The people I met when I first moved to Ohio are not the main source of my support these days. In fact, most of those friendships have drifted off or are now to acquaintance level as our lives took us different directions. There is nothing wrong with the evolution of relationships. Letting a relationship evolve naturally is healthy. No one needs to be forced to maintain relationships just for the sake of longevity. Individuals do not benefit from longevity, but quality.

Cultivate your tribe with love, kindness, respect and honesty. Be honest with yourself.

Love with an open heart.

Sassy Viking Mama

Writing Advice from Ray Bradbury

When I was a high school senior we were instructed to write people we admire. The goal was to see if we could be persuasive enough to get a response. I wrote to Ray Bradbury and Tom Clancy and received responses from both.

From Ray Bradbury “If I were to advise writers my advice would go simply like this: Begin writing when you are 12 if possible. Fall in love with the arts,for from them you will learn how to touch, see, smell, know the world. Educate your hands by drawing, educate your ear by listening, educate your nose by running against the wind, keep your eyes wide and your mouth shut. Write every day and every day of your life until it becomes such an immense love you can’t help yourself”

This advice has served me my entire life. Now, I am taking time to focus on another piece of advice from him: “When I speak on writing I only try to rev people up, to turn them back to their own self-starter. I know that if they can produce in quantity, eventually they will produce quality. Without quantity there can be no quality. Quantity is a way of getting rid of chaff, to reduce down to the seed.”

I have worried too much about niches, styles, focus, etc and it has done nothing but hamper me. Recently I took a huge leap of faith (with support of my amazing tribe) and began to GM (game master or run) our Iron Kingdoms tabletop RPG (role playing game). Writing for them has been amazing.

The biggest boost I received was when one of them told me that I tell a great story so running a game will come naturally once I understand the GM mechanics; which are different than player mechanics. It has greatly helped my creativity and confidence.

I am once again following my dream of being a writer by writing as often as I can and sharing those stories. This experience is giving me the confidence I need to take the time to apply to my passion and let the story share itself with me.

The more that I write and share, the more whole I feel. When I do not write the anxiety and depression take hold and uncertainty consumes me. Writing makes me a better person. It feels true to myself and as though I am doing what I was meant to do. This makes me a better person all the way around. Which is fantastic for my family, as well as myself.

“The more one writes the more honest one becomes. The more one vomits forth,the truer his style and, of course, by style we always mean Basic Truth, don’t we? Style is not an ornament, but the heart and soul of a man revealed. It is what he is, isn’t it? Not what he pretends to be,but the true man standing naked, alone, and somewhat proud of finally shucking ornaments and finding his own skin.” Ray Bradbury

Blessings

Irisa

Iron Kingdoms Recap aka Sker Runs Amuck!

Currently, I am running an Iron Kingdoms RPG campaign called Blight Hope. Running an RPG is new for me and this was our fourth session of this campaign. During this session I added in a variety of random elements so the players would not be conditioned for battle every time the GM rolled dice.

The players were camping on the side of a mountain for the night. During first watch there was a Sker (female Tharn bone grinder/blood tracker) and Vialoss (Male Troll Dhunia paragon/Fell caller); basically one who viewed animals for food and alchemical components (Sker) and another who only killed animals for food or self preservation (Vialoss).

While they were on watch I had a random encounter of a badger family coming out of the when all was quite to search for food. Picture this if you will: It is around midnight, in a mountain valley slightly up the slope during early summer. The three moons are at low light and there is a small campfire. A very tall troll and a small Tharn are keeping watch while the rest of the party sleeps.

The rustling of the bushes has Vialoss (troll) and Sker (tharn) heading forward to investigate when suddenly a family of five badgers comes out of the bushes sniffing around for food. Threat averted Sker heads toward the badgers proclaiming “kill”. Vialoss, our troll, begins to reason with Sker that is it unnecessary to kill this family of badgers.

This turns into a heated debate between Vialoss and Sker about when animals should be killed and the uses for the kills. Meanwhile, the badger family runs off as the debate becomes louder.

During their watches I had planned for a hunting pack of Vektiss to ambush the sleeping party. However, I took advantage of the loud, heated argument of the party members and had the Vektiss ambush them during the argument. Sker and Vialoss were so busy arguing they did not notice 5 Vektiss (spiders as big as mules) surrounding their campsite.

Fortunately, Wizen (Human male Blackclad Druid wolf rider) and wolf woke to the ruckus caused by Sker and Vialoss. Shouting an alert to the party; battle ensued. Fast forward through the slaughter of 4 of the 5 Vektiss when the party once again surprsed the GM.

Sker and Bress (Male Nyss (Ryssovoss/Duelist) are behind Ilka(our 8ft tall female Ogrun) and Vialoss when it is Sker’s turn to attack. The final Vektiss is unsteady on its legs and bleeding. Wizen (Blackclad Druid and wolf are on the other side of of the Vektiss).

Sker has no room to go around Ilka and Vialoss, so she decides to climb Ilka’s back to get to the spider. Ilka reacts by grabbing whatever is crawling up her back and throwing it … directly into Wizen who is on top of his wolf. As Bress sees Sker go for a flight check; he nimbly steps around Vialoss and stabs the remaining Vektiss, killing it.

After cleaning up camp and finishing the night our party continues on their journey. I have them encounter a small river with a herd of Ovis Bighorn (a stocky breed of sheep with large, spiral horns) on the opposite side of the river. The river is icy cold and over time rocks have been stacked in the river to make a small, slippery stepping path.

Our lovely Druid Wizen cannot make an acrobatics check and ends up in the river. Apparently, he also cannot swim nor is he able to make a survival check. Fortunately, his wolf is bonded to him and decides to not let him drown. With much huffing that sounds suspiciously like “dumbass”, Wizen’s wolf pulls him from the river so he can dry off. Meanwhile Bress looks at the rest of the party and nimbly jumps from one edge of the bank to the other; making that 15 feet look like a modern day sidewalk.

As Bress is touching down on the bank, the party asked me if they can still hunt; yes, you can. The sheep haven’t disbanded very far. Sker decides to skewer a sheep and Ilka decides to pick one up by the rear haunches and slam the front half into a nearby boulder. To which the GM replies: that is not technically hunting, that’s sheep bashing and her player responds but its effective!

None of this played out as I imagined and that is what makes role playing amazing. My friends have wonderful imaginations and love getting into character. I look forward to our next session.

Remember to keep playing and imagining!

Irisa

Campaign Blight Hope
Cast of Characters vs River
Ilka and Sker vs Ovis Bighorn

Adult Adventures in Ear Tubes

I could not help but laugh when the ENT suggested I get ear tubes for my recurring ear problems. A 45 year old woman getting what is commonly thought of as a kids procedure; yes, that about explains my life. However, since the tinnitus and deafness are competing for what is going to make me go insane, I gladly agreed to the procedure.

My 7 year old had hers done a few months prior so I thought I understood the procedure. Oh No. I was sorely mistaken. My daughter got the better end of this deal. When she had hers done they gave her nice relaxing drugs and put her to sleep. Adults do not get the same treatment.

Ear tubes in adults are a quick, in office procedure with local anesthetic. I am sure that works fine for most individuals. However, I am one of those people that are incredibly difficult to numb. When I tell you I need a very high dose to get numb I am not kidding. Max that stuff out or I will feel everything!

Sadly, I felt all of this. It was not the worse experience of my life but it certainly was not pleasant. Now, I had ruptured my ear drum earlier this summer. If I had not done that, this procedure would have freaked me out a lot more.

The procedure itself is very simple. A tiny slit in your inner ear and insert the tubes; which are teeny tiny. The popping, pressure and pain from it was not fun. It also hurt a lot more for the rest of the night than I had anticipated. Unexpected side effects were my sinus’ draining and my jaw hurting (probably from stress clenching).

Three days later I am glad I got the procedure but disappointed that I still have random to low level tinnitus. I had been hoping that it would be completely gone. We had performed hearing tests earlier in the year and I knew to expect a drop in my hearing; however, I am still adjusting to that. Although, I am grateful to not be completely deaf as I have spent a good part of this year due to my ear problems, especially in my right ear.

My hearing has always been better than my eyesight and something I have always highly relied upon. It is an adjustment to not have that sense be as strong as it was in my youth. As we age, we change and hopefully have the grace to adapt and accept the changes with grace.

The one good thing to come from this experience is that I better understand my partner’s difficulties. He is deaf in one ear and having experienced this for any length of time has been eye opening. I never understood how dramatic even a slight hearing loss was when in a room of conversation. It can be very confusing as the sounds sometimes all rush together and your mind tries to make sense of it all. Now, that is if you hear anything at all. At my worst people would be talking across the table and I didn’t know except for the fact I saw their mouths moving.

Adventures in living,

Irisa

Call of Cthulhu (one shot)

A dear friend of mine did her first GM with Call of Cthulhu. It was tons of fun and the first time I ever wanted my dice to roll low!

This is the second time I have played a one shot campaign with pre-made characters. Both elements add different characteristics to how I roll play; which I enjoyed.

Playing a random character that is different than something I would have rolled for myself was a wonderful experience for digging into my roll play abilities. My character was a Japanese-American, 21 year old female science student who does not believe in the occult and lives in the 1920’s.

This was fantastic for me to try and play this whole game from the viewpoint of someone who doesn’t believe that anything like this is possible. She kept looking for logical, scientific reasons to explain these events … not at all how I look at things.

I enjoyed the challenge of looking at this campaign world from a different viewpoint and attempting to interact with the immediate situation in a very logical, rational way.

Going into a one shot campaign really motivates me to wrap my head around this as quickly as possible and bring as much depth to this situation as I can. This is different from my normal approach where I have a lot of time to get to know the character and have their personality and backstory unfold as a campaign progresses.

We are definitely going to play this again, but with our own character creations. This should be a very interesting session!

As a new GM I was thrilled to be able to support my friend as she did her first campaign. It was a wonderful night and went very well!

May the Insanity Continue,

Irisa

Gaming Families

Last night was session zero for us to create characters for a new role playing game (RPG). Potluck dinner was cooked, children ran around the yard, friends chatted. Eventually, the children were brought inside and set up for an indoor dinner picnic. Food as warm as the laughter and smiles around the table graced us. Children’s giggles and pleads for more our musical accompaniment of the evening.

Slowly, the tables cleared and discussions of characters, concepts, and stories began to emerge. Meanwhile the children played, watched movies and bonded with each other. They wandered in and out to roll dice and hear our stories then deciding this was too slow a night moved on to their next adventure until exhaustion claimed them and sleepover ensued.

Meanwhile the adults plotted, planned and grasped at ideas as they began to understand the GameMaster’s (GM) vision and find a character concept they hope to breathe life into.

I love the vision, creation, storytelling, social skills, math skills, motor skills, reading that tabletop gaming and RPGs bring to our life. I have gamed since Dungeons and Dragons first came out. I love all sorts of games, as do my children.

They love it so much they we have kid game nights each week, just like the adults. Depending on their scope and focus of the day we either do an RPG like My Little Pony; Cards, or a variety of board games. Birthdays and holidays are excitement for board games. It is quality time that even their friends want to come over and share.

They are learning that games can be an adventure and time of sharing with those you care for. It can be a way to make a new friend and dream that anything is possible. I hope gaming is a bond that we always share and enjoy in our lives.

Blessings,

Irisa