Designing My life

Have you read Designing Your Life by Dave Evans and Bill Burnett? If you haven’t, you should. Yes, it’s another plan your life and that life will be good self-help montage, more or less, but this one was written by actual designers. Like, Stanford Engineer designers, so they know a thing or two about designing…everything. Being me, of course, I had to add another self-help book to my list and got it immediately.

Life design is something I’ve been doing unconsciously for absolutely years. I mean, what else has all the productivity-blogging and self-help-book-reading and passion-planning and goal-setting been for?

What cracked me up is the part in the book where they ask you to plan out three parallel lives that you could see yourself doing, and then figure out what resources, time commitment, and investment you’d need to make to have that life.

I laughed out loud because I’ve already done that, except I have about ten parallel lives, vastly different from each other, that I could see myself living. It is kind of nice, in a way, because I know I could be happy in each of those lives, but there again is the choice paralysis many of us face when presented with multiple options. I don’t know which one to pursue first. (This might be why the authors have you only pick three – choice paralysis happens less frequently with fewer options because opportunity cost will be lower.)

The whole point of the exercise is to expand your options and to help you realize that no matter which one you pursue first, it doesn’t matter. Just pick one, and that life will be good. We all have different lives available in us, and we’ll never know which one is “best” (hint hint; there is no best) so just pick one.

Ha. Easier said than done.

Let’s take a look.

My Five Plans


I see myself being a writer like my hero S.J Maas. I was reading her on way back in the day before she became an NYT Bestselling Author. I remember reading Throne of Glass in its early days, and it was very different than the one that was published. The bones were there, but in the intervening years she edited and changed a lot. That’s how writing goes, and every time I think of her journey I get excited because I feel like I could do that too.

I see myself in my office, with journals of notes, a bulletin board with deadlines and events and tours and pictures; spending time writing, drinking tea, starting out my window as I ponder my story…

Yes, I can see myself doing that. I can also see myself writing short fiction, blogging, writing courses for empaths and other sensitive types, creating new RPGs and modules for D&D, and a whole bunch of other writing type things. I’ll never stop writing, but being a writer is a bit different. There are different investments required*.


The idea of being a life coach keeps creeping up on me. It started about a year ago, back in Korea, and has been in the back of my mind like a niggling worm ever since. I was really gung-ho about it at first, of course, and lost interest when my health declined, but I’ve been thinking about it again recently.

Even in my writing, I’ve always wanted to show people there’s a better world for them. Books showed me that, and my big why as a writer has always been about helping people realize their own magic. Coaching is another way to do this. I love it when my friends share their dreams with me, and I love the nitty-gritty of getting down to actions plans and steps and the how-to of dreams. So coaching has always seemed another natural option for me.

I could see myself doing that. Having an office with a filing cabinet for clients, having an appointment schedule book, emailing about packages and questions, skyping with clients and suggesting action plans and tools and books and exercises…

Non Profit RPG/GM Organizer

Another idea that’s bounced around in my head enough times for me to pay attention to it is starting my own non-profit that helps kids learn how to run RPGs. Or start my own chapter of 826 in my area.

This goes back to the whys mentioned earlier; helping people see their own magic. I give this choice of words carefully too, because I really believe that people are capable of their wildest dreams (the magic of life, right?), and I want everyone to be able to achieve that.

And hearing about kids getting into these creative endeavors, creating whole worlds, participating in stories together, learning serious life skills through fun…that just seems like a really important thing to be a part of.

Also I love kids and made a pretty awesome teacher, and I think leading a Game Master workshop would be epic.

(But the title needs some work. Organizer? Workshopper? Leader? Center? League?)

Game Designer/Writer

Going back to the writing front, I’ve also considered being a writer for games. I love D&D so much I think working at Wizards of the Coast (which is just around the corner from where I was born so, hello, fate) would be the most epic job of all.

I can imagine sitting down with a think tank of nerds and brainstorming the next big campaign book, the next batch of monsters, the next iteration of D&D itself…yeah, I dream about that a lot.

And if not D&D, then maybe another game company. I could write dialogue and quests, creating a dozen different threads for each player action, and twining them all sinuously until they meet perfectly at the final boss…


Equally as appealing as the other lifestyles, being a stay at home mom is at least a phase I’d like to experience, if not live out, sometime in my life. I plan on having kids, and I plan on raising them to the best of my knowledge and experience as a teacher, creator, empath, and nerd (oh yeah, my kids will be playing D&D as soon as they can talk, yo). 

But, of course, alongside that I’ll still be writing, crafting, coaching, and doing everything else, it will just have the volume turned down on it. 

You know, it was really interesting to write this post. It was really interesting to see how so many of the lives I could plan out, while vastly different, have this one underlying thread. Helping people see their own magic. And the thing is, there could be a hundred other jobs that satisfy that requirement that I don’t even know about! But five is enough to be getting on with, and as I mentioned in the beginning, choice paralysis is real, and the best advice is to take a step in any direction, rather than stand still.

So the first lilypad, then, is and will be writing. 

And now I’ll toss the ball to you. What lives have you imagined? I urge you to do this exercise and see what comes up, especially if you find, like me, the same impetus behind each desired life. 

Happy hunting, friends.

*On that front, I have some very exciting news coming up soon!

Life In-Between: Waiting to Live

I recently read a book called ‘The In-Between’ by Jeff Goins. It’s an anecdotal book for the most part, full of memories and small stories that illustrate his major point; that we spend most of our time waiting. Seriously. In fact as well as in our heads. We spend more time than we think in lines, on hold, in our cars traveling; always waiting for something. We also spend an inordinate amount of time waiting in our heads and hearts – waiting for the next thing to happen to us. For graduation, marriage, kids, retirement, death…and everything in between.

We spend so much time waiting for the next day or next whatever that we rarely find time to live in the moment. Sure, living in the moment has some bad connotations, like being flighty and irresponsible and never having a plan for the future, but most of us aren’t like that. We may occasionally let ourselves go in the moment when we’re having fun with friends or doing something we love, but those moments are like bright stars in the dark sky – small and minor compared to the vastness of life.

In Goins’ book, he talks about learning to appreciate the small things. Trite advice, you think. Perhaps. But true nevertheless. Look back at the past week or so and think about when you were happiest. Was it a grand moment full of importance and splendor? Or was it a small thing that simply made you very happy? If I do this, I think of being with my friends. Or finishing a book series. Or seeing my word count go up on my book.

All these are small things, but it’s these that I remember.

I’ve spent my entire life in the purgatory of waiting. I felt like my life wouldn’t begin until college, or then until I moved to Korea, or now until I’ve published my first book or gotten married or had a child… But it’s not true. Life is not a goal, it’s a state of being. I am alive now. I’m living, no matter what I’m doing. Waiting to live doesn’t even make sense. Neither does regretting something. I’ve regretted a few things. I always feel guilty that I’m not already married, that I haven’t already got an amazing, six-figure job or traveled more. But looking back, every single experience I’ve had has made me grow in a way that wouldn’t have happened in any other circumstance. I’ve needed all those waiting bits and periods in order to become what I am now, and all the waiting bits ahead will be necessary to get me further. I’m not the person I want to be, so I need a lot more waiting. I now appreciate the waiting, as time to reflect and grow. For, as Goins says, it’s frequently in those waiting moments that we do grow. We think, we reason, we imagine and learn within ourselves, often in a split-second.

I think we tend to hate the waiting and feel it’s useless because we often escape into books or movies, worlds in which no one ever waits for long and things happen consecutively. Action is frequent, speech is parsed down and simplified to exclude the nonessentials. We want life to happen like that, but it won’t. Imagine a book that actually followed, moment by moment, real life. It would be unutterably dull.

So we need to stop and consciously observe the waiting time and learn to grow in it. Reflect more, learn more, think more, appreciate more, and be grateful for the small things. We all live in-between the big things, and that’s where most of life happens.

Remembering Korea: Paldang Dam in Fall

Fall Berries

The beautiful park near the dam; definitely the best picture, which is probably why I put it first.

I’ve been remembering Korea a lot lately, and I found this old post from an old blog and thought I’d share. You know, for old time’s sake. So please enjoy this post I wrote just after traveling to Paldang Dam.

When I have fun, I really have fun. Fall here is incredible. Coming from Texas, whose version of fall tends to be, “Hey, it’s November! Time to bring the temps all the way down to 80 and kill the trees! Whoooo!” having any kind of transition to winter is a treat. I never knew what fall was. Here, I call it Autumn, because holy pancakes, Batman, the colors and weather are sublime.

I feel like Anne of Green Gables, with the shining waters, warm reds of Octobers, and now the promise of a chilly, mystical November. Perfect for my writing and tea-drinking desires.

In honor of the season, my friend and I went biking by the Paldang Dam, about an hour outside of Seoul. You can rent bikes there cheap; 10,000won ($10) for the day. We got the cute ones with baskets and trundled off. Now, my friend is a marathoner, so she probably considered our five-hour outing a light jaunt. My sedentary thighs were not so happy, but I muscled (ha) through and had a grand old time. The leaves were just beginning to turn, and the mountains were a beautiful ombre of every tree color imaginable.

What are these strange floofs and are they related to pygmy puffs?

It’s a big touristy spot, so there was a really nice restaurant about halfway down with bibimbap and really incredible pajeon. Unfortunately, I have no idea what the name of the place was. I was too hungry to care, so I had some tunnel-vision going. Food.

I’d never seen lotus in its natural environment. Those strange roots they serve at school come from these? Incredible.

We also had a bit of an off-road adventure to get to a nearby park. The bike path doesn’t go to it, as far as we know, so we lugged our bikes up and down forest trails, slipping and sliding and being laughed at by the men behind us. Hey, you guys arrived twenty minutes after we did. Take that.

It was so worth it though. The park was quiet, lush, and right on a kind of peninsula into the dam area. It looked more like a lake, really, and with the mountains and lotus leaves, you could believe you were in the middle of nowhere. Never mind the ahjumma’s next to you dancing to their trot music.

The dam itself. Dam.

We stopped for coffee and to rest a little at the park; I got mine iced, which flummoxed the vendor, but it was warm in the sun. And I really, really wanted a picture of the man selling chestnuts. He had the most incredible beard I’ve seen here. But in beard-language, it could have meant “nice old grandfather” or “seriously creepy.” I didn’t want to take the chance.

Cabbages getting ready for kimchi.

It was a nice way to spend Halloween, at any rate, since Korea doesn’t do much for the holiday. And as it’s beginning to be really cold here, it was the perfect opportunity.

Looking back, that was one of the best excursions I took in Korea, which makes me a little sad, not that it wasn’t amazing, but that I didn’t do more of it while I was there. I should have seen everything. I should have made it the perfect two and a half years. I should have…

No, I shouldn’t. It was perfect, every moment.

Writing as a Multipotentialite

A writer's artfully messy desk.
Mess. Mess. MESS. It’s fine though, I styled it this way.

You’d have thought I would realize being a multipotentialite would affect me as a writer as well. You’d have thought I would see myself jumping ship on writing projects, having millions of disparate ideas, and being constantly interested in other types of writing and say, oh, right, multipotentialite. Duh…

You can see where this is going. I didn’t see it or say that. I applied the same old toxic thought processes I’d had for myself on a grand scale, back before I found out I was a multipotentialite, and ground myself in the mortar and pestle of guilt and shame about how I wrote.

Ever find these thoughts ranging about in your head like chickens?

“I have to finish this before I can work on that.”

“I shouldn’t be blogging now – I’m in the middle of a story!”

“I haven’t blogged in months, but I don’t feel like it. God, I’m the worst.”

“I want to work on this story, but I also want to write a D&D campaign, and I want to write in my journal, and an e-course sounds fun to write too…”

ad nauseam.

Sounds a lot like what you tell yourself about all your hobbies and career interests before you find out you’re allowed to have many passion, don’t it? Hmm? HMM? Yeah, I wasn’t too smart.

The thing is -and there’s always a thing, isn’t there – we don’t hear about multipotentialites in regards to things like writing or sub-sects of our own hobbies a whole lot. I get it; the entire idea of being an awesome multipotentialite/scanner/multipod/renaissance person is fairly new, so we just haven’t seen the explosion of advice on the internet. It’s a baby in the self-help world still.

But it affects it. And I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it’s affecting painters and comic makers and sewers and other creative types as well. We’re varying our interests within an interest and it’s hard not to come down, well, hard on ourselves.

I’ll be writing a separate article about tips and tricks for writers, but if you’ve felt like me – in other words, constantly guilt-ridden over not following all the advice of writers out there – know you’re not alone. And know, just for now, that you’re perfectly wonderful and normal and you need to jump between writing projects as much as writing and life in general. Like, I don’t know, writing and professional knife-throwing. Or cliff diving. Whatevs. (Why do I assume other writers are so much more badass than I am? I write and, uh, knit. And play D&D. And wish for a cat. That’s a Friday evening for me.)

I always eat alone; Stories of Adulthood

Correct me if I’m wrong, but if you’re single, roommate or no, you probably eat alone the majority of the time.

I do. And have, for nearly the past decade. Except on dates, the few occasions I eat with my brother while we watch Youtube, and the rare all-family dinner, I eat alone. I eat breakfast in the car on the way to work on in front of my computer. I eat lunch either in my car during the work day or also in front of my computer. I eat dinner…the same way. See above.

I never really thought about it, to be honest. I mean, food’s food, right?

Then I went to Korea, where food and community and bonding are tightly twisted and knotted together, leading to taboos for eating alone. There’s a whole Korean drama about a woman who finds an eating pal because she loves to eat and can’t eat in restaurants alone. I mean, we don’t really do that in America, either, but it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.

I was thinking about while eating a salad a few days ago, because it’s not easy to eat a salad delicately. Unless you take the trouble to cut up all your lettuce into easy-to-fit-on-fork pieces, you’re stabbing some big leafy bits that inevitably end up depositing a nice rim of dressing around your mouth on the way in. It’s irritating, but when you eat alone, who cares?

So then I thought, whew, it’s a good thing I’m not on a date, because then I’d have to spend some brainpower to make sure I wasn’t being Ralphie’s kid brother Randy on A Christmas Story. “Show me how the piggy eats,” indeed.

Maybe no one else has this issue. Maybe most other people learn to eat nicely when they’re young and it just takes hold so they never have to think about it again, like holding your pencil the right way. So they don’t have to think in their cars about how much thought they’ll have to put in on dates. Maybe. Or maybe most people are like me, slobs and messy when they’re alone and have time to fix their makeup before going back in to work, and overly careful on dates and in public because eating cleanly isn’t a habit.

Or…just maybe, I’m overthinking this. Well, that’s what being an adult means, right? Overthinking, worrying about dates, and being alone in cars during lunch to get away from work. Yeah, nailing this thing.

Is there anything you do that makes you wonder if you’re the only one who does it?