MUVE Gaming and Community Engagement

Note: As part of one of my classes for grad school, I have to post a series of posts on predetermined topics. This is one of those posts.

First of all, I don’t live under a rock. I have heard of MUVE games before, but have never engaged in them. Second Life started just about the time I graduated from college, and while interesting, what I heard mostly was about the inappropriate ways people were using the game (not surprising to anyone).

Because I don’t know a lot about MUVEs, I asked two of my friends, Jason and Tori, their thoughts.

Jason said, “I definitely think that they [MUVEs] foster community and allow people to express themselves in a number of ways. It’s pretty amazing that I have people that I play with that I’ve never met in real like or know what they look like – and I would consider them close friends.”

Tori, who actually met her husband online gaming, said, “[They] offer a collaborative environment to socialize and essentially engage in play with others. Downsides are the same as any time you get a group of people together: people being rude, vulgar and sex-centric. I also think they can be particularly addictive because of the social component.”

I think libraries and librarians can use these technologies to reach people in new ways; if someone won’t come to the library, help the library come to them. My local library has Minecraft nights that involve both kids and parents, which allows everyone to know what happens in this virtual world. Libraries need to be proactive; don’t create a space for your library in a MUVE environment if you’re not going to keep it up and keep it active. Like social media, MUVEs can be used to enhance the library experience for people or detract from it.

Book Review: Crooked Kingdom

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Dang it, Leigh Bardugo and your crazy Grisha world.

First of all, you need to know that I adore these books, just as I loved the original Grisha trilogy. Bardugo’s world is high fantasy, high adventure and totally believable. When I first read that there would be a Duology based on the Grisha world but without (most) of my favorite characters from the original series, I was skeptical. Six of Crows proved me wrong, and this sequel lived up to my expectations.

Having succeeded in their daring escape from the Ice Palace, Kaz and his band of misfits were double-crossed for the promise of a mysterious drug that enhances the power of the Grisha, but at a horrible cost. Now, Kaz and the crew are forced to mount a daring rescue, protect the team and get out of town before it gets even more dangerous.

Crooked Kingdom is an action-packed tour of Ketterdam and the Grisha world that demands you keep reading. At every turn, Kaz seems outsmarted and outnumbered, but is he? Has he finally met his match in Van Eck? Will he be able to save the people he loves and get them all out safely?

Bardugo is a creative powerhouse that keeps the story spinning through a confusing twist of grain silos, underhanded card games, and mystical powers that could save everyone – or destroy them.

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Social Media Wars

Note: as part of one of my classes for Grad School, I have to post a series of posts to a blog. This is one of those.

Social Networks. I love them. I hate them. Especially this time of year; especially around elections and big events and hard times. Everyone has an opinion and everyone thinks their opinion is the only right one. So, it can be exhausting. But, social media can also be a great tool for increasing your reach, connecting with other people and learning about new things.

facebook-logo-icon-vectorcopy-big_copyI know it dates me, but I still love Facebook. I love that it allows for longer communication streams and allows me to interact with groups of people at a time. I use Facebook in my professional life, managing accounts for our main church page, as well as helping with other pages. I also am a member of several groups; some have come as the result of book launch teams and some are just shared interests.

When I started my MLS, one of the first things I did was research library-based groups of Facebook, and joined several, including the Library Employee Support Network, Mindfulness for Librarians, MLS Students and the IUPUI Graduate Services page. The main IUPUI Facebook page celebrates all the great things happening on campus and highlights the beauty of IUPUI (See this post) These groups are great places to meet people from around the country without ever having to leave your home or city!

In addition, a Facebook presence for your library helps people connect and allows for community interaction on a different level than your website. Our Friends of the Library page is the way we spread flyers, post pictures and increase Friends engagement.

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Twitter, on the other hand, can be insane in the best way possible. Full of short thoughts and concentrated opinions, Twitter also becomes a place where things are shared (retweeted) and commented on in short bursts. Anything shared on twitter has an incredibly short lifespan. However, the use of #hashtags makes searching for common ideas and themes on Twitter a little easier and more entertaining. I love twitter for fast information, and to catch up with my favorite authors and bloggers. I learn about new book releases, tour stops and more on Twitter regularly. On a professional level, twitter is a way to engage community in quick ways. I am part of a weekly chat where we talk about marketing solutions, and I love following along on conference tweets during ALA and BEA. For people who cannot be at these kind of events, Twitter provides an almost real-time feel of what is happening.

Social networks have a lot of good. And a lot of bad. The important thing is to learn to manage them well, roll with the changes, and be flexible. What works for one library or group may not work for yours.

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One Mom Linkup

One Mom CoverIt’s finally time to talk about the One Mom Can Change the World book. Written by my friends Amy and Claudia, One Mom is all about encouraging moms to believe in themselves, trust their instincts, rely on God and be ready to be world changers. And, One Mom is a rallying cry for moms everywhere – they are good enough, strong enough, faithful enough…simply enough.

As a #nonmom, I wasn’t sure One Mom was for me. I mean, sure, it’s a great book written by good friends, but would it matter to me?

The short answer?

Yes.

The long answer?

You don’t have to be a mom to deal with some of the issues, insecurities and fears that Amy & Claudia bring to life. As a woman who struggles with issues of self-esteem and self-worth, One Mom is about freedom to be exactly who I was created to be. In a section on community and honesty, Amy says,

“As yes, community. Isn’t that what we find when we reveal our secrets? Our souls long for community, but when we keep secrets, we deprive others of the opportunity to surround us with their love and encouragement. Find someone safe!”

One Mom Can Change the World is all about getting rid of the labels we think we have and replacing them with the label we’re supposed to have. Instead of guilt, try freedom. Instead of not enough, try worth it. Instead of guilty, try free. And, each chapter includes questions for study and reflection.

One Mom will help you be a better mom, sister, friend, daughter, wife, and human.

Bloomington friends, join us for the official One Mom Can Change the World launch party from August 30 from 6:00pm-7:30pm at Sherwood Oaks Christian Church (enter Door 1).

Did you Love One Mom? Link up your review below!

Cover Reveal: Prospect

Prospect CoverAbout the book:

She’s back, and stronger than ever before.

Lena lives on and although she can’t remember a thing, she has woken up with powers she could only dream of. Lena has been taken over by Dr. Ravana and received the number one target on her first night in the compound.

And then she saw him and everything changes.

Lena can’t help but fight the connection she feels for Jared. Jared attempts to unlock the truth of the cure while attempting to help Lena
remember he past.

If only Lena doesn’t have to kill him first.

About the author:

Author Taylor Hondos says,

“It all started with an idea. That sprouted while watching a movie. That
rooted in her mind. That finally she wrote down in two weeks. Until she
typed it for herself and finally for others.

I’m pretty much you’re average everyday girl. I work as the hostess and
cashier at the restaurant around the corner. I eat Lucky Charms in my
pajamas on Saturdays. I read every day while bad crime TV shows blare in
the living room. I write every day (almost, promise).

I started writing because I wasn’t satisfied with just being the reader
anymore. I wanted to tell my own stories. Within two years, I became a
self-published author. Born and raised in North Carolina. I haven’t
traveled further than Florida. I spend most of my time reading, writing
(sorta), knitting, watching the same movies over and over again and
shopping online for penny books. I am the author of the Antidote trilogy.
I attend the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and am getting a
degree in English.”

Connect with Taylor:

Taylor’s Twitter

Taylor’s Website

Taylor’s Facebook

Get caught up with Lena’s story:

Get ANTIDOTE on Amazon

Easy Friends: Handle with Care

A couple years ago, I wrote a post on what it looks like to be the “Easy Friend.” You can find that post here.

In that post, I talked about liking being the easy friend, and how it freed me up to love and live well – because we put enough pressure on things without adding pressure to friendships. And, I still agree with everything I wrote there.

But, lately, I’ve discovered the much more difficult side of being the easy friend. We’re easy to take advantage of and easy to hurt sometimes. See, as the easy friend, I often am not the person people turn to or reach out to. It’s just a given that I will be there, when they have time for me. And, when they don’t, it almost feels out of sight/out of mind. I know it’s not intentional, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. So please, handle those easy friendships in your life with care.

Don’t forget about us. I’m happy to be there in a crisis, but I’d love to be there when things are going great, too. We don’t need a lot, but we do need to feel like we’re not the only one making an effort.

Don’t make plans, and then forget. Or cancel. Repeatedly. Trust me, I get it. Life happens. But, when you constantly forget about me or cancel plans or don’t follow through on making plans, I feel like I don’t matter.

Be honest with us. One of the best things about easy friendships is that they require so little from both parties. But, when something does happen or life does get in the way, be honest. Don’t say you can’t do something and then blast your fun weekend on social media – it’s a slap in the face.

Take/Make time for us. We don’t expect a lot, but we still want to feel like a member of your circle. After a few weeks/months of being pushed aside, we will stop reaching out and trying.

We’ll be here when you need us. Sometimes being the easy friend means that we have zero contact with people for a long time. But, please remember that we will always be there for you when you need us, even if it seems like our friendship has been forgotten.

My Boots Are Heavy Today

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When my friend Elizabeth is having a rough day, or when life just generally feels like it’s too much, she will say her boots feel heavy. It’s a reference from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and it makes total sense. Sometimes life feels like too much – so much, in fact, that just walking through life is hard. It’s hard to pick up your feet and keep moving.

That’s how life is feeling these days. My boots are heavy because:

  • Violence is once again the top news story. I hurt for the people of Orlando, I hurt for the lives lost and the families forced to figure out how to make it through the day. I hurt for my friends that feel this act of terror so personally because it was an attack on them, too.
  • Missing girls are always in the news. In Bloomington, it’s been 5 years since Lauren Spierer went missing. Five years of her parents not knowing what happened. Five years of no closure and no peace. And then I saw in the news today another young girl is missing locally.
  • A local church trying to good had their bus stolen and burned. They use that bus all the time to make a difference in their poor, hurting community. Now they’re at a loss again. And it hurts my heart.
  • Friends have family members fighting cancer, fighting mental illness, fighting to make it through the day.
  • Friends have had to say goodbye to the people they love all too soon.

The world is heavy. Walking through the world is heavy. And sometimes it feels hopeless. But it’s not. I promise it’s not.

If you’re like me, you’re wondering what you can do? How can you change the world, how can you stand up and be a voice in the dark void of heaviness? How can you help.

Be Present. People all around you are hurting and crying out. Be present in their lives, even when (especially when) it’s uncomfortable and you feel a little lost.

Be Open. Everyone hurts, mourns and deals with pain in their own ways. Don’t assume that someone is processing the world the same way you are.

Be Real. Forget the platitudes and pedantic sayings. Sometimes life stinks. Sometimes the struggles are too much and too hard and too big to really fully understand.

Admit Your Fears. Nothing feels more isolating than thinking you’re the only one afraid, struggling or unsure how to deal with the world. Admit your fears to those who struggle.

Carry Each Other. Sometimes your boots are too heavy. Sometimes your best friend has the heavy boots. Sometimes it’s a total stranger. Know the signs of hurting people and offer to help carry the load. There is nothing that makes the load lighter than sharing it with people who are willing to help carry it – and you – through the dark places.

Be Brave. Stand up for those you love. Hold them proudly when they’re hurting. Admit that the world is ugly, but people can be beautiful.

Judge Sparingly. Instead of judgement, focus on love. There is enough name calling and vitriol in the world. Instead of judging people, love them.

When Anxiety Attacks, Part Three (What TO Say)

Thank you all for your gracious and awesome responses to this blog series! It’s been such a huge encouragement to me.

Here’s part three, also known as what to say to encourage and support someone with anxiety.

How can I help?
Most of the time, dealing with anxiety and combating a panic attack is a personal thing. Everyone is different, so ask the people in your life (individually) what you can do to help them with their anxiety. The best time to ask this is when they are not in the middle of a panic attack, FYI. They may need you to do nothing, or they may give you ways you can support them (like being someone they can text at 2:00am if needed, someone to run errands if they’re in a really bad place, etc).

Is it OK if I hug/touch/comfort you?
If you know me, you know I am a hugger. I love to give and receive hugs and physical touch is definitely a love language. Except when I’m panicking. If I’m in the middle of a really stressful attack, I don’t want to be touched. For me, a hug right at that moment feels suffocating. So, ask before you hug/comfort.

What’s the worst that you think will happen?
Yes, this was on yesterday’s list, as well. It’s all about tone with this question. Sometimes Tim asks me what’s the worst that can happen and it helps me realize that I’m freaking out over something that is highly unlikely, if not completely unlikely. Case in point: I used to have panic attacks every time Tim left for an overnight trip. I was convinced that something horrible would happen to our dog, who he adores. In my anxiety/panic/illogical state I then convinced myself that if something happened to Madi, Tim would leave me. (Yes, writing it out makes me realize how silly it was). Tim asking why I was panicking and what the worst thing was that could happen led us to have a conversation about my fears and help me work through them.

I love you. I accept you. Just as you are.
One of the underlying fears on most anxiety issues (at least in my circle) is that our disease makes us unlovable and unaccepted. When we panic about something small, we are also panicking that our anxiety will make the people we have in our lives turn away from us. Remind us, especially when things are rough, that you love us and you accept all of us, not just the parts of us you see when we have our anxiety under control.

I believe in you.
I know the things I fear and worry about seem silly to most people. What I need from you is to believe that I believe that they are real. You don’t have to believe they’re true, but I need you to believe that, in my head, this is what I think is going to happen. We can talk through it and work through what is imagined fear and what is legitimate, but validate my feelings. Believe in me when I say I want to get better. Believe in me when I say I don’t know how to get better.

Above all, remember that people with anxiety need to be loved and trusted and supported. We need to know that you aren’t judging us because of our illness. We need to know that we can trust you with the anxious parts of our hearts and the non-anxious parts of our hearts. We need to know that you won’t run away when we panic and that you’ll help us pick up the pieces when an attack is over.

Thanks for reading this series! Tomorrow is a bonus post – anxiety and faith. Because it’s something I have to get off my chest!

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When Anxiety Attacks, Part Two (AKA What Not To Say)

So yesterday I came clean about my anxiety issues. Which, ironically, caused all sorts of anxiety for a few hours as it published and I fretted over what all my friends and family would think/say/do.

Today I just want to talk about what not to say to someone who has anxiety. Yes, all of these have been said to me, so I know exactly how little they helped in my personal situation.

It’s not worth getting all worked up over.
I know. Trust me. The logical part of my brain is screaming this very sentence at me as soon as an actual attack starts to happen. Every logical part of my body knows that most of what I’m worried about/anxious about will never come to pass.

If only anxiety were logical.

You’re freaking out over nothing.
To you, yes. It’s nothing. To me, it’s my worst fears coming true. It might just be a bug to you; to me, it’s a carrier of deadly diseases out to kill me and my dog. It doesn’t help when you tell me it’s nothing. It just makes me feel small and judged.

Seriously, what’s the worst that can happen?
We don’t want to answer that question. The worst that can happen is the thing that controls our anxiety and our every waking thought in the middle of an attack.

You’re on medication?!?!
Yes. Sometimes I am on medication. If you’re sick, you take meds, right? Anxiety is a type of sickness. There was a time when I couldn’t control the anxiety anymore and I went on medication. It doesn’t make me a bad person.

Can’t you take something for that?
Whether or not to be medicated for anxiety is a personal choice. It’s also a HARD choice. There are pros and cons to both sides of the argument. Please don’t make us feel bad about our choice to not medicate either.

Your faith isn’t strong enough/you don’t trust God enough/you’re not praying enough.
This one is worth a whole blog on it’s own. But, as a Christian, you would not believe the number of times someone has equated my anxiety with my faith. Just because I have anxiety doesn’t mean I don’t trust God. It doesn’t mean I don’t try hard to follow Him. It doesn’t mean I don’t spend hours in prayer. Anxiety isn’t about faith. Faith, quite frankly, is the only thing that gets me through anxious thoughts sometimes.

Just breathe. Calm down.
Breathing is second nature to most people. And yes, deep breathing has helped my anxiety immensely because it gives me something to focus on other than whatever is causing the attack. But, there is not amount of breathing that can make everything “better.” Don’t tell me to calm down, either. Trust me, if I could, I would.

Anxiety isn’t a real disease/you’re looking for attention
Saying anxiety isn’t a real disease is like saying what I’m feeling isn’t real. Trust me, it’s as real to me as a headache (which I get because of the anxiety, btw) and any other issue that I have. People don’t talk about mental illness because they are told it’s not a real thing all the time. We suffer in silence because talking about it is taboo and you think we’re looking for attention. I don’t want to be known as Anxiety Girl. Trust me.

I’m a worrier, too.
I appreciate that, I really do. But worry is not the same thing as anxiety. Worry you can fret, process and move on in a very short amount of time. Anxiety means that you stew, obsess and get to the point where your anxiety pushes you to a place where you no longer feel in control.

Do you suffer from anxiety? What have people said to you that has hurt instead of helped?

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When Anxiety Attacks, Part 1

Several years ago, we found a tick on the dog. It was gross and disgusting. Instead of having a normal, rational reaction to said parasite (shuddering, disgust, anger, any number of rational emotions), I remember what I did vividly.

I sat in the middle of my living room floor and had a full-blown panic attack. Hyperventilating. Unable to breathe. Crying hysterically. Shaking. Feeling like I should throw up. I couldn’t catch my breath. I couldn’t stop. Even as my husband and dog looked on, I got worse and worse.

I knew something had to change. This was not the first time I had experienced an anxiety attack. It wouldn’t be the last. But, it was the moment I remember finally thinking, once I was able to think again, that I needed help.

I went to the doctor. She listened patiently to my symptoms and fears. She quickly diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and put me on Lexapro. I started taking the anti-anxiety/anti-depressant that night.

For the next 16 months, I lived in a Lexapro-induced state of relative lack of panic. I stopped freaking out about everything. It wasn’t until I realized I had also stopped feeling pretty much everything that I discovered how much Lexapro had affected my life. I weaned off the drug. As much as I liked not feeling anxiety and panic, I missed feeling other things – like anger, fear and joy. Feeling too much was better than not feeling anything.

In the years since I stopped the Lexapro, my anxiety has been kept mostly in check by having honest conversations with myself, my husband, and my friends. It’s been learning to breathe through it and not let it bubble too hot, too fast or too long. It’s about being real with who I am. My friend Victoria encouraged me to start a prayer journal, and it has helped immensely.

But sometimes it’s hard.

It’s tick season again, and this year it’s bad. In addition to the normal disgust, I find my anxiety sitting right on the edge, waiting to push me into that chasm again-that dark place where the world is too scary and too much. The logical part of my brain that knows these aren’t big deals is at war with the anxious side of my brain. I need to process and this is my best place to do so.

So, I’m getting honest with my blog and writing about my anxiety. It may take a few blogs to work it all out. But, if you’ve ever been around me, you know that words on paper come way easier than words face-to-face.

So, join me as I talk frankly about my anxiety and how I’ve learned to live through it.

Tomorrow I’ll post the things not to say to someone with anxiety.

Wednesday I’ll post the things that have helped me.

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