Nine Worlds Convention – How It Helped Me Be Myself

NineworldsIf you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you may have noticed a plethora of updates this weekend just gone tagged with #nineworlds. Last year I went to Nine Worlds, a completely new geeky convention launched through a Kickstarter, together with 2-month-old Zephyr in tow. Maybe I was a bit crazy! It was awesome though, so awesome that I decided to go again this year, sans kids, for the full three days and with a room at the con hotel.

Nineworlds-Iris-Zephyr-2013Me and Zephyr last year at Nineworlds 2013

I don’t know if I can fully express how much I love this convention, and how much I loved going. When I try to think about it my mind just kind of goes like “OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEE PEOPLEWHOQUOTEBUFFYINCASUALCONVERSATION BOARDGAMING INTELLIGENTDISCUSSIONSABOUTSTUFFTHATMATTERS OMGOMGOMGOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

This was a big step for me and also a big learning experience. I think in all areas of my life I am so good at talking myself out of things, especially because of guilt or ‘not deserving’ things. Trying to arrange three days away from my kids (especially Zephyr who hadn’t had a night without me since his birth, and still wakes up 1-3 times a night for breastfeeding), on a weekend when Andrew would be working and staying away from home as well, was a huge obstacle in my mind. In the end though, I felt like I wanted and needed to make it work.

I think that ‘wanting to make it work’ and then making things happen has been a thread in my life this past year or so (I think since starting therapy). I really recognise that I have this tendency to let things happen and then complain about it afterwards (bit of a martyr-syndrome), so this year I have been taking charge of my own destiny if I may use flowery language like that! It started with art and taking it (and myself) more seriously, dressing slightly differently (more geeky tshirts!) and generally giving myself permission to really be myself. Not the version of myself I think I should be, or what I think other people want me to be. It’s a constant checking in and asking myself my motivations and reminding myself of my true path and intentions. It’s a huge relief.

Being-Myself-Steampunk-EarringsPracticing ‘being myself’ with some new steampunk earrings!

So, Nine Worlds, the ultimate safe space to be yourself! But scary, because LOTS of people, I went by myself, I’m an introvert, grrr aargh! It was a conscious effort to push my boundaries. To allow myself to be myself, in public, with other people. Probably slightly helped by the fact that I didn’t know anyone, because you’re not working with an expectation of how you should act or the person people expect you to be.

Jennifer describes perfectly the ‘introvert attends con’ experience:

I worried, as usual, that I wasn’t talking to people enough, and that when I did I wasn’t very good at it, or that my need to take frequent breaks meant I was missing stuff, but this is my normal reaction to being in a big place with lots of people.

Trying to shift the attention on to ‘what I am doing’ instead of ‘what I’m not doing’ has also been something I’ve been working on. So often I find myself getting frustrated because I’m in this headspace where the focus is on what I’ve missed out on or what I haven’t done or what I could’ve done differently. It’s a surefire way to drive yourself crazy and in essence you’re choosing to be unhappy with what has already happened.

So the awesome things I DID do, let me tell you them!

A shitload of board gaming. Something I really miss since having kids as it’s harder to go out to the board gaming group I used to attend. I’m totally trying to make my kids into mini board gamers as soon as possible =p

Board-GamesClockwise from top left: Dixit, Firefly, Puerto Rico, Pandemic

Absolutely brain breakingly hard Whedon quiz. Stuff like “what was the first airing date of X” “match these 10 episodes to the correct writers” “which Firefly actors did voice acting for Halo3”. Also, apparently I am very competitive when it comes to these things lol, I get full on adrenaline rush (I think that’s why I like Eurogames, they play down the competitiveness).

Whedon-QuizOur awesome quiz team, we came 4th

The most super awesomely awesome Once More With Feeling and Dr Horrible singalong with piano accompaniment. This was absolutely the highlight of the whole con. A huge room filled with people who know pretty much all the words by heart and who love this as much as I do, singing their hearts out (nobody spontaneously combusted, pleased to say). AND Dr Horrible and Captain Hammer cosplayers acting out the freezeray scene. MADE.OF.AWESOME.

Whedon-SingalongWhen Dr Horrible wants you to sing, you sing. His wish is your command

Other highlights: Metaphor in Buffy, Free Is a Lie, Women In The Creative Industries panel, Whedonverse and Portrayals of Mental Health discussion, edible knitting with strawberry laces (!! I would show you the bracelet I made but I ate it…) and The Neuroscience of Swearing.

All in all it was three days of basically continuing this journey of discovery that I’ve been on. Finding out who I really am (or who I also am, as well as mother/wife), what I like doing, what I’m interested in.

HURRAH! Awesomely inspiring. Also, so much costume and corset love at this con, I really want to do a series of steampunk art! Whimsy steampunk girls, how does that sound?

Have you ever been to a con (geek or otherwise), what was your experience like?

Iris’ Life Update ca Feb 2011

I find it hard to update regularly. Part of it is laziness, part of it is not knowing what to write about, but I think the biggest part is feeling like I don’t have anything interesting to say, or that people won’t be interested in what I have to say. I guess that’s a problem of self-confidence. So what I’ll do is I’ll make this an Iris’ Life Update ca Feb 2011, because that easily solves the problem of not knowing what to write about. The other ones I’ll have to work on solving.

Pregnancy/Baby

Obviously this is the most dominant feature in my life at the moment. You know how once people get pregnant or have kids that’s the only thing they’ll talk about anymore? Well, it’s true. It completely takes over your life. Especially in the first few months it was all I could think about all day. I would obsessively check how many weeks along I was and how the foetus was developing, not to mention worry about all the things that could go wrong. The obsession is abating a bit now (I am nearly 26 weeks, or 6 months, or roughly two-thirds of the way through) but it gets replaced with more practical concerns like what do we need, how much does it cost, where do we buy it, where do we put it.

So far I would say pregnancy has been a mixed experience. On the positive side, I love being pregnant and knowing that there is a baby growing inside me. I love feeling the baby move, it’s really funny and touching. It’s like I always have company. I also think that because the baby is inside me and moving, I tend to regard it as more mature than an actual baby, it’s kind of hard to explain what I mean. I really like sharing the experience with Andrew and whenever he can feel the baby move it’s so special. I also love it when Andrew talks to my belly! It’s so funny and touching, makes me feel really loved.

The negative aspects of pregnancy are pretty much all physical at this stage and they fluctuate a lot from day to day. In the beginning (first trimester) there was the nausea and the tiredness. They went away around 3 months into the pregnancy and since then until about early January things had been quite comfortable. For the past month or so I’ve been experiencing quite bad back aches and I’m starting to get tired again. The tiredness isn’t so much from the pregnancy itself, but rather because I wake up about every 2 hours during the night, so even if I sleep for a long time, the quality of sleep I’m getting isn’t great. The back aches I’m doing some exercises for and taking paracetamol. The combination of the two seems to help although it fluctuates from day to day. I also asked my midwife to refer me to a physio, for which the waiting list is 6 weeks…. alright then.

From an emotional point of view there are a few things I’ve struggled with. Firstly, my growing belly and weight gain. It’s something I find incredibly hard to reconcile and know how to feel about it. On the one hand it’s awesome and a great source of pride. On the other hand it triggers a lot of negative feelings about my self-image. I’ve always been a fairly slim person (although I had a bit of a pudgy phase when I was a teenager) with stable weight, but at the same time that doesn’t mean I didn’t worry about being fat/gaining weight/the way I looked. Although I have never been either anorexic or overweight physically, emotionally weight has always been an issue for me. So gaining weight due to the pregnancy affects the way I feel about myself and I guess I feel less in control. Currently I eat whatever I want and whenever I’m hungry, and my weight gain is about on par with what is normal. That doesn’t stop me worrying about it though =p

Secondly, the sex of the baby. Andrew and I were in agreement from the beginning that we wanted to know the sex and I never made a secret of the fact that I really wanted a girl, no matter how ‘politically incorrect’ that may sound. As an aside: sure you’re supposed to say ‘as long as it’s healthy’, but I find that a bit of a ruse, because it’s not like there is anyone out there actively hoping their baby isn’t healthy. I think it’s much more healthy from an emotional point of view to be honest about what you’re feeling, because whether you announce them to the world or not, the feelings are there and need to be dealt with.

So, I wanted a girl, which made me quite sure that I was going to have a boy (because that is how the universe works n’est-ce pas?). Andrew was really convinced we were having a girl. Turns out I was right =p So we’re having a boy, which is something I have really had to get used to. I still really want a girl, but I don’t wish this baby was a girl. Having a boy is emotionally complicated for me. Girls are much more firmly in my own comfort zone: I am a girl, I was raised by a single mother, I didn’t have a father figure or much exposure to boys/men. On some level I have probably always been intimidated by boys/men, because they were so very other. And I probably also passively got the message that women don’t need men, and that boys don’t need their mother. Having a boy triggers many more feelings of discomfort and insecurity in me. It is funny, but also reassuring, that all my friends who have had babies in the past 1.5 years (or are expecting now) also had boys.

Thirdly, going through this huge life changing experience without my mother. This is a difficult one, because as of yet I don’t actually really feel the impact of this. Of course it sucks in an ongoing way, but what I am most worried about is the labour and that is a big unknown. Although I’m sure the labour isn’t going to be a picnic physically, that is not what I am worried about (ironically, before I got pregnant it always seemed the biggest obstacle, why would anyone willingly push out a baby through their vagina? Insane – whereas now I’m worried about NOT being able to have a natural birth and needing a caesarean). As of yet, and I imagine until I actually go through it, I do not know what my emotional needs are going to be during labour. Of course I will have Andrew, which is hugely important to me, but he is not a woman, nor is he my mother. I have read Hope Edelman’s Motherless Mothers (a few years back I read Motherless Daughters) which has already been hugely helpful and actually made me more aware of the emotional issues that could come up during the birth (and afterwards, but that’s a whole ‘nother chapter for later).

Art/Craft

Art has taken a little bit of a backseat the past few months. I think I go through phases, ebbs and flows of inspiration and creativity. It’s something I used to berate myself for, like I wasn’t allowed to feel good about the art I create (or wasn’t allowed to create at all) just because I’m not consistent and do it every day. I’m trying to let go of that feeling and just create when I feel like it, and not when I don’t.

I had the idea for Bird in Cage for a while, I did a quick sketch last year in a notebook, but hadn’t sat down to actually create it until this year. I used bits of greeting cards and letters that family & friends sent to me over the years as the background. Then I went over it with gesso and paint until I got the grungy textured background I was aiming for. The bird itself was done with watersoluble oil pastels. The cage was done with gold embossing powder. I love the effect of embossing, but it’s such a time consuming and fiddly job.

I’m currently working on a whimsy portrait on watercolour paper. I’d like to improve my shading techniques and generally get more comfortable at creating faces. I also recently worked a bit on the digital portrait I started last year, but I paid dearly for it the next day as it made the RSI in my elbow very bad.

I’m also working on a soft toy for the baby. It will be crocheted. The colours I picked are grassy green, bright purple and navy. It’s going to be some type of caterpillar-like animal. The yarn I’m using is quite thin and I’m using a 2.5mm hook, but nevertheless progress is quite quick. I just have to be careful I don’t overdo it with my elbow. I have until May to finish it anyway!

Violin

Still enjoying & taking lessons! I meet up with a couple of friends every Wednesday (they come to my place, lucky me!) and we practice together. It’s great, because if we didn’t do that I would probably get very behind. I don’t practice a lot by myself, due to laziness and tiredness. I definitely do want to continue with it though, as far as possible throughout pregnancy and after the baby is born. I think it will be nice (not to mention important) to have a few evenings a week to do stuff just for me. The baby enjoys music too! He tends to move around when I play, or listen to music or when we go to a concert.

World of Warcraft

Ahh the time sink and reason for all my laziness! I’m mostly kidding, I haven’t actually been able to play that much lately, but I have to say I am enjoying the game a lot more again since Cataclysm came out. I first levelled my resto druid who used to be my main during TBC and at the beginning of Wrath. I lost interest in the class during Wrath as the challenge was just gone. It’s slightly more challenging again, but once I hit 85 and was faced with the grind for gear and rep I just didn’t feel like it.

Instead I dusted off my holy priest. Holy priesting is SO MUCH FUN right now! The class really has a lot of abilities to play with. She’s about 20% away from lv85 and I actually look forward to getting geared up for heroics. On the side I’m also playing my prot pally a bit. It’s verrry different from what it was like in Wrath, but nice to have new toys to play with and re-learn things. It keeps things interesting.

The all important ice stone

I know some people might be confused or unclear on this. But just to dispel any doubts about whether the ice stone has melted:

http://hastheicestonemelted.com