HabitRPG: My New Favorite Task Management Application

Oh dear, it has been a while since I have written.  I have been deeply immersed in my Japanese studies lately, which has not left a lot of time for keeping up with my blog articles.  Time management has always been a bit of a difficulty for me, as I have discussed in previous articles, such as Where Did the Time Go and Developing a Routine.

I have found that I really do need the assistance of a computer program or app to help me keep track of my tasks, even rather basic ones.  I am terribly forgetful, I am afraid, and I would be a complete disorganized mess without some sort of computerized task list.  Even with a computerized task list, I can be a disorganized mess, but I think I would be worse without one!

I have been on the search for the perfect task management program or application since my very first Handspring Visor became obsolete.  (Handspring was a competitor of Palm, which is also quite obsolete now).  When I had my business, I did use Microsoft Outlook, which worked well for a time.  Once I got a smartphone, it became more difficult and complicated to keep the smartphone synched properly with Microsoft Outlook.  I was able to manage the calendar through Google, but the tasklist was a bit of a mess.  That does seem to be the way of things, doesn’t it?  I still have not found a word processing program that works nearly as well as WordPerfect 5.1 did.

I have been using Toodledo recently, which is a very nice application, and syncs well with all of my devices.  A few weeks ago, a dear friend casually mentioned HabitRPG, and it seemed intriguing, so I investigated.  The premise of the application is to treat a person’s daily routine as a role playing game, complete with a class system, experience points, gold, and equipment to buy.  It is quite fun, and I have found it quite motivating!

My HabitRPG avvie, with current stats

My HabitRPG avvie, with current stats

Aside from being motivating and fun, HabitRPG has been working well for me as a task management application in its own right.  I find the visual layout clean and attractive, and it works really well for daily tasks.  One of the difficulties with daily tasks on a regular task management program, is that if there are days one can not get to ones tasks, they start to become overdue, and really creates a bit of a visual mess, which makes it difficult for me to get back on track.  HabitRPG unchecks one’s daily tasks at the end of the day, with consequences in terms of Heath Point loss for the ones that are not complete.  If one is unable to do her daily tasks because of illness, vacation, or any other reason, she can check herself into the Inn, which freezes all the daily tasks as is, with no consequences.  The nice thing about that (at least for me), is that when one checks out of the Inn, all of her tasks are there, still visually clean and neat…without messy overdue dates!

There is are social options, such as a party and guild system, which is another really nice feature.  Sadly, it is quite limited with respect to managing monthly and weekly tasks, so I still need to continue to use Toodledo for those.  I do have coordinating HabitRPG with Toodledo as a daily on HabitRPG though…which ends up being an nice rather easy daily to obtain experience and gold!

Are Scary Stories Good?

*Is* this a good way to spend an evening?

*Is* this a good way to spend an evening?

Are horror stories or films acceptable reading or viewing for Filianists? Let us look first at what we mean by “horror”. Horror as a genre began with Gothic literature in the 18th century, at the latter end of the “Age of Enlightenment”. It could not have begun before that because it relies on the existence of the fantastical where it should not be. Before this rationalist revolution, the idea of the supernatural as separate from the natural world, and therefore of the supernatural being a great surprise, simply did not exist. Ann Radcliffe, one of the definers of the aesthetic of Gothic literature, defined horror not as a genre but as a feeling. Horror and terror are two distinct forms of fear; terror is the fear of the unknown darkness, horror is the fear and revulsion caused when the darkness is revealed in a definite form.

When literature or film uses grotesqueness to cause the sensation of horror, we know that it is not good for us, because it is by nature coarse, and will coarsen our souls. What, then of that which is chilling and frightening, without the grotesque? By describing terrifying things in art and literature and by then absorbing them, Maid gives form to the darkness. On the one hand, this is not something she can truly avoid doing. In the Gospel, when the Maid embraces the Serpent and gives it form, that is Myth – the description of a thing that cannot not be. As Myth, it does not happen in time – Maid did not embrace the Serpent once long ago and then never again. It is a thing that happens outside of time and thus Maid has done it and is doing it and will do it. The only real choice Maid is given is the form she gives the darkness. And that is where we must be very, very careful.

It isn’t only velveteen rabbits that become Real when you cuddle them close and stroke their ears.

Very recently, in the age of the Internet, someone altered a photograph to create a new monster, chilling and terrifying. They told its story as though it were a genuine urban legend, although it was only the creation of their own mind. Their audience treated it as a genuine urban legend, creating more altered photographs and tales of people in the photographs going missing, as well as a very unsettling false documentary in which it “appeared”. In other words, they took a thing they all knew was fiction and did their very best to will it into existence – and succeeded. Within the past week, two girls were induced to commit violence at its command. The details have been withheld because they are disturbing – this is absolutely factual and an example, if an extreme one, of what happens when people are not careful about what form they give the darkness.

A more manageable form.

A more manageable form.

What would be a better form? Well, one of the most fearless demon-hunters this writer knows regularly sees the demons she banishes as small and goblin-like, with the demeanor of naughty children. She wins many more battles than she loses, partially due to her skills and calling, but in no small part because she sees the darkness in a form she knows she can vanquish, and so she does.

So we see, to remain on safe ground, the scary things in our stories must not be allowed to win; they must certainly never be too big to defeat. Even if they do manage to win on the earthly plane (as in some stories they do) there must be great care taken to show that they do not and cannot win beyond it. If you will take scary stories into your soul, only take the ones that in the end show the triumph of the light over the darkness.

Stitch by Stitch

I learned (or relearned) how to crochet about 6 years ago and then learned how to knit about 5 years ago.  Looking back, I think that this may have been an unconscious step on the journey that I am now consciously undertaking.  For myself, there is something deeply feminine and purifying about making something beautiful with my own hands.  Knitting and crocheting have also taught me some valuable lessons.

One of the more important lessons that I have learned from yarncrafting is patience.  Everything that can be created in this fashion must be created one stitch at a time.  There is really no other way to do it.  Even something easy like a basic dishcloth takes several hours.  Making something larger can take weeks, months, or even longer.  There is no real way to rush it along.  My fingers will only move so fast.  The project will take as long as it takes.  Eventually, though, if I keep working on it, the project will get finished…one stitch at a time.

On the other hand, even though I can not rush the project along, it will only get completed if I keep working on it.  To my chagrin, I have many abandoned projects and yarn that I have purchased for projects I have never started, which are cluttering up my back porch.  One question I have often been asked by people is how long a project takes.  That is a really hard question to answer.  Only the very easiest projects can be completed in one sitting.  Most projects involve working on it in snatches of time over a much longer period.  While some of it depends on the difficulty and size of the project, but some of it also depends on how many snatches of time one devotes to it.

The nice thing is, though, that even though projects can not be complete unless one is actively working on them, one can start again at any time.  I just started a sweater.  I purchased the yarn for the project a few years ago, and I had chosen the pattern.  I just never started it.  Yet, when I decided to start it, the yarn and the pattern were all ready for me.  So, I have finally begun the project, to be completed stitch by stitch!

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There are so many things in life like that.  I am finding that to be the case in reclaiming my hestia.  There are so many projects that need to get done, and it can be really overwhelming!  If I think about all the things I have to do, I will go hide in my room and not do a thing.  Yet, if I slow down and work on my projects, stitch by stitch, they will eventually get completed.

There are several task management programs out there.  When I had my business, I used to use Microsoft Outlook.  Now, I am using a program called Toodledo, which is a free, cloud based program.  The nice thing about it is that I can set up tasks to repeat themselves daily, weekly, monthly, or whatever interval is right.  When I have large projects to do, I have started to make those projects daily repeating tasks.  Each day, I try to work on a least a little bit, even if it is just 5 or 10 minutes.

It may seem like only working 5 or 10 minutes a day on something would not accomplish much, especially when one has a big project.  Often though, I find that once I get started, I spend more time than that each day, and even if I do not…the project still gets done faster that way than if I am not working on it at all!  Last fall, I managed to finish the project of cleaning the closet in this manner.  This spring, I am tackling the project of cleaning the back porch!

Oh yes, and it by starting the project of cleaning the back porch, that I found the yarn for the sweater I had planned several years ago!  I wonder which will get finished first, the back porch or the sweater?

Feminine Speech Patterns and Japanese

A long time ago when I was first starting a career path, I would at times attend various workshops related to career development.  One of these workshops that I remember was for women teaching them to rid their speech of “feminine speech patterns.”  These speech patterns consisted of phrases such as “I think” and “I believe” and phrases such as “isn’t it,” which seek agreement from the listener.  Other patterns were frequent apologies and self-effacing language.  All of these speech patterns were to be avoided as they tended to keep women “in their place” and prevented them from “getting ahead” in the business world.

Business WomanLater when I embarked on a second career, I was taught that using words such as “I think” or “I believe” was improper “hedging.”  I can still hear voices of instructors saying, “No one cares what you think!”  According to the conventional wisdom of my career, it was important to sound confident, even (and maybe especially) when one was not!  Otherwise, one would not be taken seriously.  In writing, one was to avoid passive voice, except in very particular circumstances.  I also learned in other places, such as church settings, that it was important to be direct with one’s speech.  Indirect speech was said to be manipulative.

As I have discussed on this blog and on others, I am currently studying Japanese.  I have found it interesting that in Japanese, all of these “feminine” speech patterns that were drilled out of me in the West are all matters of ordinary politeness in Japanese.

In Japanese, it is frequent to end thoughts or sentences with qualifiers such as, to omoimasu (“I think”) or ne, (a sentence ending particle that seeks, or even assumes, agreement by the listener).  Not only does one frequently apologize in Japanese, but there are many different levels of apology.  The informal apologies, gomen or gomen nasai, are used all of the time, and it is polite to end a communication with a superior (or even with an equal in polite circumstances) with shitsurei shimasu, an apology meaning “I am committing an act of rudeness.”

Japanese-ClothingStyle-For-Women1In Japanese, self-effacing speech is considered the norm and to do otherwise is considered arrogant and rude.  One never uses an honorific to refer to oneself, one’s own household (to another outside her household), or one’s company or in-group, but always uses an honorific to refer to others, unless one on very intimate or friendly terms with the other.  There are different words in Japanese for “to give” based on the social position of the giver and the receiver.  Kureru is to “give down” to one socially below and ageru is to “give up” to one socially above.  When speaks of giving something to another, one uses ageru and when one is asking to be given something by another one uses kureru.  One only uses the word jouzu, meaning “skillful” or “good at” to refer to someone else.  To use jouzu for oneself sounds prideful and arrogant.

Passive voice is common in Japanese and is particularly used when one is being polite.  As a general rule, speech that is passive and indirect is considered more polite than active and direct speech.  For example, if one must refuse a request, it is common to do so with a simple chotto (“a little”) without completing the sentence.  This means the request is a little….(inconvenient, difficult, impossible, etc.).

It is interesting that the speech patterns that are considered “feminine” in English are part of everyday Japanese, and to omit them would be seen as rude or arrogant.  While Japanese does have speech patterns that are seen as more masculine or more feminine, I believe that the patterns I have mentioned are just a part of ordinary common courtesy in Japanese.

A Productive Day

Yesterday was the second day of our new year, and I am rather pleased that it turned out to be quite a productive day.

My spouse and I started the day by packing up the car with boxed up and indexed files from my former business to take to storage.  We had just enough room in the car for all of the boxes, so we were able to manage to take them in one trip!  The drive to the storage locker was a rather long one, as it is near my former office location, so we went out to breakfast before the drive.

SAMSUNGAside from bringing the old files to storage, I wanted to take an rough inventory of what was in storage.  I have to admit it was a bit overwhelming, and the inventory ended up being an acknowledgment that it was a mess.  Still, almost as a reward for taking the step of bring files to storage, I found some exciting things.  One of which was a book that I knew I had, but had been missing for a long time.  I had been looking for it for over a year, and lo and behold, it was in one of the boxes in storage.  The book was an astrology text by Ibn Ezra, The Beginning of Wisdom.  I am not sure how it found its way to storage, but, I between moving my home and my office in the past few years, and it must have accidentally gotten in one of the boxes that went to storage.  I also found a lovely lamp in storage that I am now using as a bedside table lamp.

SAMSUNGAfter the storage locker, we did some shopping.  I started to get the urge to find a physical calendar/date book.  Now that I am no longer in my former business, which required me to keep close track of the American calendar, I am sensing that it is time to start becoming more attuned with the calendar of my religion.  I had looked online for blank, adaptable electronic calendars, but I was not able to find any.  I did set my Google calendar to Japanese, but that is still not the same.  The only options for the starting day of the week were Saturday (Rhavedi), Sunday (Rayadi), and Monday (Candredi).  None of these options work for this year, as the starting day of the week for us is now Friday (Sucridi), for the Year of Sai Sushuri.

SAMSUNGI was able to find a beautiful personal organizer at the office store that was adaptable enough for my purpose.  The calendar pages are blank with respect to the months and the days.  They do have the days of the week set, but they are not too obtrusive so I can cross them out without looking too messy, and overwrite them with the Janyatic glyphs for the appropriate day of the week.  I had considered using the Japanese kanji for the weekdays.  I decided against that for a couple of reasons.  One of the reasons is that I am not as comfortable handwriting the kanji.  I felt slightly guilty about that, until it occurred to me as an astrologer, it is good for me to frequently look at the Janyatic (and planetary) glyphs.

The personal organizer has a section for a monthly view, which only had room for twelve months, and the Filianic calendar is thirteen months.  On the other hand, it occurred to me that Moura is not truly a thirteenth month in the calendar, but is a month out of time.  Hiatus, of course, is truly out of time, but there is a quality of separation to the month (and season) of Moura as well.  So, our calendar is not truly 13 months, but 12 months + 1 month.

SAMSUNGOf course, on a practical level, the month of Moura is still in time, so I will need to keep track of dates during that time, but the organizer does have weekly pages as well, which I will likely be using much more for day to day planning.  I am going to include the planetary locations on the calendar as well, as I will need to be more aware of the location of the planets on a daily basis now than I had been.

???????????????????On a less serious note, my spouse found a lovely flower tape dispenser to help decorate my home office for my new business.  It might be a little silly, but I do like it!

SAMSUNGOverall, I think that this was a wonderful start to a new year!

Happy Year of Sai Sushuri

Sri LakshmiGood morning, dear readers!

For Filianists, this is Eastre and the first day of our New Year!  This is when we celebrate the Daughter’s resurrection and the return of all life!

I have uncovered my Shrine and other images of Dea throughout our house, and I have put up the calendar!  It is rather exciting to have time back again.

In the Filianist calendar, the day that begins the New Year becomes the first day of our week, and the Janya of that day is the Janya that governs the entire year.  This year’s Janya is Sai Sushuri, the Janya of Divine Love!

There is also rather exciting news this morning!  The Mother God Chapel has published a new article regarding Filianism, which can be found here.

I apologize for being so brief, but It is a busy morning, with lots and lots to do.  Still, it felt right to at least write a short note for Eastre morning.

To my Filianist readers:  Happy Eastre and Happy New Year!

To everyone else:  Happy Spring!

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Preparing for the End of Days

vlcsnap-2014-03-18-13h30m46s222We are fast approaching the end of Moura, and the end of the Filianic calendar.  Tomorrow will be Kala, or the day that the Daughter is slain by the Dark Queen, and the next day will be Hiatus.  As we believe that the Daughter is the Sustainer of our existence, the day of Hiatus is a day where the world is a Wasteland.  Hiatus is not marked on a calendar.  On Hiatus we avoid any references to the future, and we do our best to refrain from even thinking about the future.  All images of Dea in our homes are covered with dark material or otherwise hidden.

This is the first year that I will be able to fully observe Hiatus since becoming a Filianist.  The last two years, my work required me to be attentive to the Western calendar during parts of the day.  I do not know that excited is an appropriate word, but it feels very good that these barriers have been removed.  I am a little nervous as well.  Hiatus was difficult enough in previous years, when I had short breaks from it.

As I discussed in my previous article, my Moura discipline has been to spend a half an hour every day crocheting altar clothes for the time of Hiatus.  I did manage to complete one more altar cloth, and there is one in progress that will not be finished for this year.  Still, this means that I will be able to continue my Moura discipline through Hiatus.  Last year, I had finished one the day before Hiatus and did not want to start a new one.  This meant my half an hour meditation was in silence with nothing at all to do.

I have been thinking about the past year, and all the changes that have happened.  While this is a difficult time, in a strange way, I am looking forward to the upcoming cleansing of the past year.  There is something freeing about our year ending cleanly, without thinking of any year ahead.

My physical house is not as clean as I would like, but the files from my previous business are packed up in boxes and ready to go to storage.  My home shrine is freshly dusted and cleaned.  I have made arrangements so that I will not have any reason to think about the future on Hiatus, and I have taken down the Western calendar in my home.  I think I am ready for the time ahead.

Med Moura

For those who practice the Filianic faith, tomorrow is Med Moura, the day in the middle of Moura.  Moura is the month in the Filianic calendar devoted to the time that the Daughter descends to the Underworld to bring Light to the places where the Mother’s Light can not reach in the world, and in our hearts. Many of us observe the month of Moura by taking on a spiritual discipline.  Our Moura disciplines may be positive or negative disciplines, taking something on or giving something up.  Many of my sisters in faith have given up sweets for Moura.

On Med Moura, we take a rest from our Moura disciplines.  I hope that those who are giving up sweets for Moura enjoy their day tomorrow with LOTS of delicious, sweet things. This is also the day in the Filianic calendar that we honor our mothers, teachers, and other superiors with gifts of appreciation.

SAMSUNGThis year, as last year, I have taken on a project that only seems appropriate during Med Moura.  As part of our faith, many of us have home shrines.  My home shrine is in my bedroom.  As you can see, Our Lady is also watching over one of my cats today.

At the end of Moura, we observe Hiatus, or the day (or days) outside of time.  During Hiatus, the Daughter has been slain by the Dark Queen, and the world has become a Wasteland.  During this time, we avoid talking about or even thinking about the future.  As much as we can, we act like the future does not exist.  During this time we also cover all images of Our Lady with a dark cloth.

From last year's Med Moura discipline

From last year’s Med Moura discipline

As I am able to knit and crochet, I thought it would be nice to make dark clothes by hand for the time of Hiatus.  It seems right that these clothes should be made in silent prayer and contemplation, and it also does not seem right do work on them at other times of the year.  Last year, I did start them after Sai Herthe day, but I started working on them on a regular, daily basis during Moura.  This year, for Moura, I have been trying to spend a half an hour a day in silent prayer and meditation while crocheting the dark altar clothes.  As my shrine has multiple levels, I need multiple clothes.  I have two finished from last year, and I think I will manage to have a third one finished by the end of Moura this year.

I wish all who are observing Moura a lovely day tomorrow relaxing from your Moura disciplines.  I also wish special blessings upon those who are mothers or who are acting as teachers or mentors for others.

The Ritual of Getting Dressed

There was a time, several years ago, when I gave very little thought to my clothing.  I wore what was required for my job, when it was required, and I changed into comfortable (often sloppy) clothing as soon as I possibly could.  I did very little with my hair, letting it hang in whatever form my haircut would permit.  My morning routine was often quite rushed, and even the minimal preparations for the day seemed to take more time than I had.

Now, I spend most of my days at home, and dressing has become a ritual.  At night, I put my hair up in either pins or rollers to curl it.  I start the morning in a looser house dress, and change into a corset and a regular house dress sometime in the late morning.  At that time, I also arrange my hair.  If I do go out, there are different dresses that I wear for that purpose.

As the reader may imagine, this all can be a bit time consuming.  I have noticed that I seem to have far less free time now than I ever had when I was working.  I am not even really sure where my time goes most days.  My tasklist of daily chores seems overwhelming at times, and  I have been woefully behind on writing lately.

Given this, the reader may think why spend so much time on dressing and maintaining my appearance?  It may seem particularly silly, as most days, the only ones who see me are my spouse and my grandmother.

However, our choices regarding clothing represent fundamental choices that we make every day.  Do we take the time to dress neatly, or are we sloppy out of laziness?  Do we wear pants or skirts and dresses?  Do we leave the house in clothing that we could sleep in?  Do we allow ourselves to be walking advertisements for businesses or causes?  Do we choose clothing that looks pretty and traditional, or do we use our clothing as a form of “rebellion?”

vlcsnap-2014-02-05-16h43m12s7These are not trivial choices.  They speak to our values, our beliefs, and our relationships with others and with our community.  We are Axial Beings, which means that we have the capacity for Free Will.  Unlike animals, fairies, and nature spirits, we have the choice of how we present ourselves, and our choices in these matters are choices between Light and Dark.

I have found that my dressing ritual has been an essential part of my personal spiritual journey.  When wearing skirts and dresses, I feel gentler and more feminine.  When I look in the mirror with my newly curly hair, I smile and I feel softer inside.  When I get fully dressed, I have more energy for my daily tasks.

I rest happy in my new dressing ritual.  I think that it is time well spent, don’t you, dear reader?

See also:

Lolita-Mere Frills or a Light in the Darkness

Lolita Fashion and Philosophy for the Poor-but-Kawaii

A Fresh Start

It has been a while since I have written.  It has been a rather intense month and a half of deep internal changes.  I am back, though, and just in time for Sai Herthe Day.

For Deanists and Filianists the new year starts at the Spring Equinox, which is Eastre for us.  Today is the Day of Sai Herthe.  An explanation of the Day of Sai Herthe can be found here on the Chapel of Our Mother God.

While the Day of Sai Herthe is not the official new year, it is still a day of fresh starts and new beginnings.  It seems an appropriate time for a return from my brief hiatus, as this day is very much a celebration of the theme of this blog, the Temple of the Home.  I find it interesting that in the West, it is common to celebrate the New Year’s Eve by going out to parties.  In contrast Sai Herthe Day is a home based festival.  In a feminine based religion, the home and the hearth are the center of life, so it is important to spend time blessing and renewing our homes.

The title to this article is, “A Fresh Start,” and I mentioned that I have been through deep SAMSUNGinternal changes over the past month or so.  In the main, I have been internalizing the outward changes that I have written about in this blog.  I am becoming softer and gentler, and I am losing the hard edge I used to have when I was a career woman.  One rather delightful external change is that I have learned how to make my hair curly, and to stay curly and in place, all day long!  The only trouble with that is that I have become rather vain, and I find I am spending a fair amount of time looking at myself in the mirror and smiling.  I am allowing myself some indulgence with this, though, because I think seeing myself with a softer look is helping with the softening inside.

Sadly, I have let my house fall into disorder again.  I was hoping to have a clean house to bless for Sai Herthe Day, but I having caught a cold.  I am not sure how much energy I will have.  I did a little today, and I hope to do a little tomorrow…at least enough for the house to look nice for the celebration.  I did manage to clear a corner of my house for a Nativity Tree though!  This is the first time I have put up the tree in years!  My cats are quite happy that we have put up the tree!

SAMSUNGSo, what are my plans for a fresh start?  Well, mostly to continue along the path that I have been on.  I did manage to complete my previous business; however, I have not sorted the papers from my old business to store.  I must also work out what to do with the office furniture in storage!

I hope to finally get started on an astrology practice, which I have talked about for some time, and to finally learn to sew!  We bought a new sewing machine several months ago, but I am rather embarrassed to admit, I have not yet tackled the sewing machine monster.  I think I gave up when it started shooting thread at me in a big bunched up knot.  My ever practical spouse said something along the lines that I threaded the bobbin wrong, and she has promised to help me to fix it and teach me what to do.

Please wish me luck, and I will do the same for all of your endeavors!

Have a blessed Sai Herthe Day, and for those of you celebrating New Year, have a wonderful and magical New Year!