The Right to Grieve — And That Means Being Sad [en]

[fr] Avez-vous remarqué comme personne ne veut qu'on soit triste? La tristesse est néanmoins une émotion nécessaire, celle qui nous permet d'accepter une perte, d'en faire le deuil, et de pouvoir continuer à avancer à travers et au-delà de la peine.

Have you noticed how nobody wants you to be sad? Tell people around you that you’re sad, and immediately they’ll want to cheer you up.

Sadness is not bad. Sadness is necessary. It is through being sad that we are able to accept our losses and move on. That is what grieving is.

Our friends don’t want us to feel sad, because they don’t want us to suffer. But refusing to be sad and to grieve brings along a lot of suffering — certainly more, in the long run, than the pain of sadness.

Sadness is not depression. Unprocessed grief can lead to depression, though.

Sadness is the feeling of loss.

A person who is experiencing loss needs the courage to feel sad, and in a world which wants to shove sad under the carpet at the first opportunity, that can be far from easy.

What is valued is staying strong in the face of loss, grief, catastrophe. Not collapsing. Not showing how much pain we’re in.

But what we need when we’re sad and in pain, most of the time, is support so we can dare to feel all this. A safe place to be heard, recognised, and not judged. Love and acceptance that does not desperately want to save us from our emotions, but on the contrary, regard them as part of ourselves and our journey through life.

To grieve and to move on from all the various losses in our lives, all the nevermores, we need to be able to be sad. It is a good thing.

Coming Out as Single and Childless [en]

[fr] Quarante ans, célibataire, sans enfants. Un deuil à faire, et une porte à ouvrir pour en parler.

I turned 40 last summer, and it hasn’t been easy.

To be honest, I kind of expected it to be rough: my mother died when she was 40, 30 years ago, and in my mind 40 has always been a kind of “cut-off” age for having children. But it’s been (and still is) much more of an upheaval than I guessed.

If you follow me on Facebook or maybe on Twitter, you certainly noticed I shared a slew of articles about childlessness over the fall and since then. This summer plunged me into a grieving process I’ve been doing my best to avoid for years — and am still resisting. It’s not a coincidence that my blog has been so silent.

As I started researching childlessness, and talking a bit around me, I realised that this is something about myself I have never really talked about in public. Or talked about much, full stop. Same with being single. It’s not something I’m really comfortable discussing publicly. Which is kind of strange, as I’m a very public person. So what is it about the childlessness and singleness that keeps me quiet?

Some have suggested that it’s because it’s personal. But I talk about a lot of personal stuff. It’s painful, too. Maybe it’s the grief? Not either: over the winter of 2010-2011 and the months that followed, I wrote a series of extremely personal articles dealing with the death of my cat Bagha, and the grief I was going through.

And I understood: it’s shame.

Failing to have a partner or children, when it’s what you want, is shameful — particularly for a woman. The grief of childlessness and singleness is something that we have trouble dealing with, as a society. Chances are you’re thinking “wait, 40, everything is still possible, the miracles of medicine, you have plenty of time; you’ll find somebody, all hope is not lost”. Do you see the problem here? I will write more on the subject, but for the moment please just take it as given that my chances of ever being a mother are vanishingly small — and that the best I can do is grieve and get on with my life, “plan B”.

I have kept quiet about this, and shoved it under the carpet, because it’s an issue that’s loaded with shame. And as such, it stands to be pointed out that the grief of childlessness, and to some extent singleness, is a taboo subject. People do not want to face it. When bringing it up, it is automatically negated (“there is still time”, “children are overrated”, “look at the great life you have”, “you probably didn’t really want children that much or you would have them”). We don’t know what to say. We have scripts for losing a loved one. Even a pet — when Bagha died there was an overwhelming show of support and affection around me.

But childlessness is another can of fish.

Grief has a public dimension. To grieve, we need our pain to be recognized from the outside. Grieving can not be done in complete privacy. That’s where it gets stuck.

As much as I didn’t want to, I realised that I was going to have to start writing about this. Because this is how I process. I cannot do it alone: I need you too.

I’m not where I was back in July. Things are moving along, slowly. I’ve been talking to friends, and joined an online community of childless women for support. Read about dozens of stories parallel to mine. And though a part of me still rabidly refuses to accept I will continue my life without children, tiny bits of acceptance are sneaking in. I first drafted this blog post back in December, and getting it out of the door today is part of the process.

My name is Stephanie, I’m 40 years old, single and childless — and it’s not what I wanted for myself.

Here’s the post on Facebook.

Disconnection [en]

[fr] Certaines formes d'écriture ne peuvent plus se faire déconnectée, pour moi.

I’m at my chalet. Cats are curled up on the bed and I have a nice cup of tea ready. There is no wifi here. Cellphone reception is extremely patchy — and cellular data, when it works, is excruciatingly slow and unreliable. This is my “disconnected place”.

There is a lovely café in the village which offers free wifi as well as delicious home-made syrups, smoothies, and cakes. And tea for winter, of course. I go there to work and connect with the world.

I use MarsEdit to edit and write blog posts offline. As you can imagine, this is not something I do often. But this time around, I had quite a few to work on for my client, and I figured I could also do some of my work at the chalet.

While I was at it, I updated the settings for my blog (yup, still in server-move limbo) so that I could write an article or two. Everybody knows that being offline is great for productivity, particularly for writing.

Well, it turns out that there are certain types of writing for which it isn’t all that great. A lot of the stuff I write about here is nourished by things I’ve read online somewhere. I want to include links, check sources again to make sure I remember correctly what I have read. Search for more information.

I have become so used to writing/blogging plugged into the internet that I forget how much I rely on this extension of my mind that the network has become for me. (See, I’m sure there is a good piece somewhere to link to about that — but as I’m writing this offline, I can’t dig it out for you.)

I don’t think this is a bad thing. My brain still works. I haven’t lost the ability to write, and more importantly, to think. But I find myself in the situation where I am so used to functioning with a given tool that I forget its absence will prevent me from doing certain things.

The article I wanted to write is about doing what we want versus doing what we have to do. I’ve been through a series of realisations on that topic, and I want to be able to reference them and map them out for — maybe with the same sources, somebody will come to the same realisation, and my article will have been useful. Oh well, I’ll write it another time, when I have access to the internet.

Maybe I just have to remember that blogging/writing is not something I should try do to when offline.

Invisibilia: A Podcast About the Hidden Forces That Shape our Behaviour [en]

[fr] Un super podcast à découvrir: Invisibilia. Ça parle des forces invisibles qui conditionnent le comportement humain. Et c'est super bien fait. Quelques histoires pour démarrer: l'homme aveugle (sans yeux) qui voit par écholocalisation et fait du vélo, la femme qui ressent physiquement ce qui arrive à ceux autour d'elle (un cas extrême de "synesthésie miroir"), le rapport entre nos pensées et qui nous sommes (sommes-nous nos pensées? quelle importance leur accorder?), et j'en passe.

I thought I’d written a post somewhere introducing the podcasts I listen to regularly. I don’t watch TV, but I do listen to a bunch of podcasts religiously: Radiolab, On The Media, The Savage Lovecast, and The Moth. Serial was great, too.

Through Radiolab, I recently discovered the new show Invisibilia. It’s actually co-hosted by one of Radiolab’s former producers, and there is clearly in the choice of subject matter a kinship with what drew me to Radiolab in the first place all these years ago.

Invisibilia is about the stuff that we can’t see and which shapes human behaviour. In the pilot season, you’ll find stories about a blind man who can actually see by using echolocation, a woman who cannot feel fear, and Paige, tragically flipping through gender categories. And that’s just the beginning. Subscribe to the podcast and start listening.

Here’s a bunch of random takeaways for me after listening to the first episodes:

  • the three “stages” in the history of our thoughts: 1) all thoughts are meaningful (Freud), 2) some thoughts are BS and we can think ourselves out of them (CBT), 3) our thoughts don’t deserve that much attention (mindfulness)
  • how important categories are in helping us make sense of the world (I kind of knew that); reminded me of India again and the utter confusion of the first weeks where all my European categories broke down, and I didn’t have any Indian ones yet to work with
  • how gently facing one’s fears works much better in getting rid of them than obsessing about them and trying to avoid their object
  • how important our expectations of what people can do are in determining what they actually are going to be capable of doing (“blind people can’t do that“)
  • venting when angry, whilst therapeutic in the moment, actually makes us more angry and aggressive in the long run

Sound interesting? Check out the list of the previous episodes. If you start listening, let me know!

The Zeigarnik Effect and Open Loops [en]

[fr] L'effet Zeigarnik, c'est ce qui nous fait finir quelque chose dans lequel on est lancé, ou qui fait qu'on repense à ce qu'on a interrompu pour y revenir. A mon avis, cet effet joue un rôle clé dans ce qui nous attire encore et encore à retourner sur Facebook ou autre: en prenant part dans des communautés et réseaux en ligne, on met en marche toutes sortes de choses dont on veut voir l'aboutissement. J'ai posté un lien, la chaîne d'actions logique est ensuite que des gens vont liker, commenter et partager. Il y aura peut-être une réponse à donner, ou tout du moins, je veux "suivre" pour savoir comment ça fini. Les conversations en ligne, idem: il y a toujours quelque chose qui se passe dans un chat, la discussion ne se termine jamais.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon the Zeigarnik Effect. It is the effect that prevents us from interrupting our teeth-brushing in the middle. Once we’ve started, we feel a need to keep going. It’s really useful.

For me, it was a missing piece of the puzzle that fitted nicely alongside the idea of GTD’s “open loops”. If you have to interrupt something before you’re done with it or the task is completely, the Zeigarnik Effect will make sure your brain nags you about it.

It explains why it’s important to “just get started” or “just do something”. It also explains why having a lot of ongoing stuff in parallel is stressful.

While I’ve been writing this post, I’ve given myself a wonderful demonstration of the Zeigarnik Effect in action. You see, I couldn’t remember exactly where I’d heard about it. I’m pretty sure it’s in one of James Clear‘s posts, because it’s definitely the kind of thing that he writes about, but I’m not 100% certain.

I can remember the context: for a given task, there is a kind of “tipping point” where the Zeigarnik Effect kicks in, and you finish what you’ve started. Knowing where that point is comes in really handy for getting things done rather than just thinking about how we’re not doing them. I remember the example clearly: for flossing, the “tipping point” or “trigger” in question was when he’d torn the piece of floss off the roll.

I’ve just spent… oh, I don’t even dare tell you… way too much time trying to find that article so I could link to it. I found plenty about flossing and the Zeigarnik effect. The worst is that I already spent way too much time trying to dig out that source when preparing a mini-workshop on “time/task management” I gave two months back. And didn’t find it.

You know the irony? I just stumbled upon the article in question! It wasn’t James Clear after all. And you know the funny bit? I thought I’d add a link to a Google search in the above paragraph. Just to show you how much stuff about Zeigarnik and floss I had waded through. To my surprise, many of the links there were not those I had been wading through an hour ago. Maybe I only searched in specific places where I thought the article was, like Clear’s blog. Anyway. I have it! Incredible!

The reason I went down that rabbit-hole was because it was an “unfinished task”. And the more time I spent trying to “finish” it, the stronger my urge to keep going became. Typical, right?

And here we go again: while looking up some old articles of mine, I remembered that the markdown plugin wasn’t working on the new server. I had to hold myself back from downloading and installing it. It would have meant interrupting the writing of this blog post, though, so I guess that is what just saved me. But now I have this nagging “open loop” in a corner of my mind.

(Bear with me while I add it to my running list of things that need to be done so I can stop thinking about it.)

(Oops, while I was there, I quickly checked a spreadsheet to see if there were any new sign-ups for my next workshop. There weren’t. Do I leave the form open or close it now?)

As you can see, there is a clear link here to multitasking, procrastination, and the general feeling of “not enough brain space” that I have a times. It also makes me think about how when I start something, I have a lot of trouble stopping. Hypertrophied Zeigarnik Effect?

Today — and this is what prompted this post — I suddenly realised that the Zeigarnik Effect played an important part in dragging me back to my computer, or my phone (home to Facebook and Google Plus). By participating in online communities and networks (sounds better than “social media” doesn’t it? more human?) I set things in motion that do not end.

An online conversation is never-ending. There are always people in the chatroom. I post a link, it will be interesting to see who likes, comments, or shares it. I stumble upon interesting articles that need to be read.

My time on my phone or my computer is spent creating innumerable open loops that I am then desperate to close, while at the same time opening yet others that will also have to be closed. Whack-a-mole.

It feels like my “tipping point” for feeling the urge to finish something (or at least dive in) is ridiculously early. Am I mixing two things up here? Do we still speak of the Zeigarnik Effect when a task has not actually been started? Is thinking about doing it sufficient in some cases to “initiate” it?

So here’s my next mission: taming my open loops. I can’t remove them, but I can learn to live with them better.

(This was originally the title to this post, but given I’m not sure how I’m going to do that it seemed a little misleading.)

Before writing this post, I googled for “open loops social media” and other related searches, and I now have about a dozen articles to read about “compulsion loops” and the inevitable “social media addiction” (disclaimer: I’m not convinced it is correct to speak about “addiction” in this context). I’ll probably have more to write on the topic… if I manage to get around to reading them. 😉

Fouiller dans ses publications Facebook [fr]

[en] So late to the game... just realised that I can easily search my posts on Facebook now by typing things like "my posts about slack" in the search bar.

Ça date, donc j’ai vraiment trois trains de retard, mais si jamais vous êtes dans le même train que moi, voici la bonne nouvelle: on peut faire des recherches dans ses publications Facebook. Et d’après mes premiers tests ça semble marcher pas mal.

Dans la barre de recherche Facebook (que vous utilisez déjà tout le temps, n’est-ce pas?), il suffit de taper l’objet de votre recherche en langage naturel. Exemples:

  • “my posts about skiing”
  • “Stephanie’s photos about Quintus”
  • “my links about slack”

Allez, je retourne me donner des coups de pieds de n’avoir pas réalisé ça plus tôt. Assez impardonnable.

“It’s Just a Game” [en]

[fr] "C'est qu'un jeu!" J'ai beaucoup entendu ça ces dernières semaines. D'une part pour dire "tu as vu le temps que t'y passes?" et d'autre part pour dire "machin t'insulte mais c'est pas grave, c'est juste un jeu". Et toi, tu passes combien de temps à regarder la télé? Quant au reste... le jeu est un jeu mais les relations entre les joueurs, elles, sont bien réelles. Etre harcelé ou insulté dans le cadre d'un jeu n'amoindrit pas le harcèlement ou l'insulte.

“It’s just a game!”

I’ve heard that a lot these last weeks. About Ingress. Of course it’s “just a game”. But.

Before I get to the “but” bit, here are the two contexts in which I’ve heard “it’s just a game”:

  1. you spend so much time on it, how crazy, it’s just a game!
  2. don’t get so wound up that people are behaving like jerks, it’s just a game!

Context 1: how much time do you spend watching TV? at the gym? and if I was walking or jogging around instead of “playing a game”, would you still comment on how much time I play? or if I was reading a book? It’s interesting how because it’s a “game”, and therefore “fun”, spending time on it is a “bad thing”… And in the case of Ingress you can’t even argue that it’s “time sitting behind a computer”, because it’s actually “time spent walking and walking and walking”. Exercise is supposed to be good for you, isn’t it?

Context 2: the game is a game, of course, but the human relationships between players are real. If a player is bullying another player, or insulting them, or treating them badly, the fact that what brought them together is a game is pretty irrelevant. It makes sense to say “it’s just a game” when it comes to gauging how seriously to take the actions of the game (is it really a question of life and death, worth getting mad at others for, if Portal WhatNot is still standing in 20 minutes?) But it doesn’t make sense to use “just a game” as a reason to discount the impact dysfunctional relationships or group dynamics can have on the people involved.

The Frustrating Easiness of Sharing a Link on Facebook (and Twitter and Google Plus and Tumblr and…) [en]

[fr] C'est tellement facile de partager des liens sur Facebook et autres que je finis par ne plus le faire sur mon blog, parce que c'est laborieux. Il y a un moyen plus simple?

Today, when I stumble upon an interesting link, I share it on Facebook. And usually also on Twitter. And on Google Plus.

It’s easy. More often than not, I found the link in question on Facebook, Twitter, or G+. Resharing on the same platform is two clicks maximum. The link is expanded into an excerpt and a photo which are nice and pretty and often spare me having to write any kind of introduction to the link (I do, sometimes).

Sharing on other platforms? At the worst, copy-paste (goes quickly when you use keyboard shortcuts and know your way around your browser tabs). Or the bitly bookmarklet.

Sharing on social media is rewarding: people are there already, they comment, they like, they reshare.

I pull quotes out of what I’m reading with the Tumblr bookmarklet and post them to Digital Crumble. That in turn gets sucked into Facebook, to the annoyance of some and the delight of others. Super easy.

You know what’s not easy? Collecting a bunch of interesting links I’ve found recently into a blog post on Climb to the Stars. That sucks. I’ve done it at times, yes, but I do wish there was an easier way to do it than copy-pasting article titles and putting links on them, after having let them pile up in an Evernote note until there were enough of them.

I’m sure there is a way to do this more elegantly. Tell me!

Ingress: My Leveling-Up Advice So Far [en]

[fr] Conseils de base pour passer rapidement les "premiers niveaux" (L4, L5, L6...) quand on joue à Ingress: so concentrer sur la construction, et surtout la création de fields, plutôt que d'attaquer des portails ennemis que l'on passera beaucoup de temps à détruire vu notre faible puissance de frappe et qui rapporteront relativement peu d'AP. Un résonateur détruit = 75AP, un field fermé = 1250AP, un portail entièrement déployé de la capture aux mods = 2000AP.

I haven’t been around the game that long, but I have noticed different progression profiles:

  • players who dive in completely, reach L8 in a few weeks
  • players who don’t play quite as much and stay “stuck” somewhere around L4-L5 for a bit

When it comes to having offensive power that can actually make a bit of a difference in the game, L6 is where it starts. L6 XMP bursters can do a reasonable amount of damage, and it makes progressing more encouraging to be able to have that kind of impact.

So, how do you get there and avoid staying stuck? A few things to understand so you put your efforts in the right place when you’re starting out.

Look at how much AP you need — 20K may feel like a lot when you’re starting out, but if you realise that it just means deploying 10 portals or making a handful of fields it suddenly seems much more attainable.

Hack, hack hack

Hack every portal you see, whatever its level or yours, whatever its colour. After verifying your account by SMS code, you have space for 2000 items in your inventory, which is more than enough when you’re starting out, even though it feels like an overstuffed sock drawer when you’ve been playing for a bit.

You can hack a portal again after 5 minutes have gone by. So do it. Not sure if you have? Just try. Nothing bad will happen if you don’t wait, it’ll just tell you you’re being a bit impatient.

So… just make it a habit of hacking everything that comes within range on your scanner. Again and again.

Deploy, link, field

To progress until level 8, all you need is AP (action points). This means you want to concentrate on actions which will bring you the most AP, so that you will quickly have access to higher level objects that allow you to better take part in the game.

If you google ingress ap leveling you’ll find a bunch of links to tables listing AP required by level and AP gained by action. They’re not all up-to-date. Here is the important stuff to remember:

  • capturing a portal is 500AP, each resonator and mod deployed is 125AP, completing deployment is an extra 250AP; this means that a complete portal deployment (from capture to placing two mods) is 2000AP
  • creating a link is 313AP, closing a field is 1250AP; this means that if you capture three portals, deploy them as above and link them together in a triangle to create a field, you will have gained 8189AP (barring any calculation mistake on my part) => capturing, deploying, linking and fielding is the best way to gain AP
  • if you destroy an enemy portal, you gain 75AP per resonator destroyed, 187 per link destroyed, 750 per field destroyed; less than if you’re building, and that’s assuming you have the firepower to destroy the portal in question (you probably don’t)

TL;DR: concentrate on deploying portals whenever you can and creating links and field.

Pay attention particularly in high portal density environments (cities) to always link to the closest portals possible and not throw long links across towns — other players will not be happy with you if you do. (Once you’ve done a few fielding sessions you’ll completely understand why.)

Also, remember to deploy your resonators as far as possible from the portal centre, as it makes them more difficult to destroy.

Play with others

Ingress is a multiplayer game. Though you can have fun playing alone, it’s even more fun with other people, and for certain types of gameplay (large fielding operations, or deploying L8 portals) you need to work as a group.

When it comes to leveling up and learning how to play, experienced players will greatly accelerate the process. They’ll show you tips and tricks, you’ll be included in your local community, and — last but not least — you will gain AP more quickly.


If you go out for a fielding session alone:

  • you have to get all the keys you need yourself (remember you can only hack a portal 4 times, with a 5-minute timeout between hacks)
  • you’ll probably struggle a bit orienting yourself with the scanner and high portal density
  • if you stumble upon well-deployed and shielded opposite faction portals you probably won’t be able to take them down

With an experienced player:

  • they will help you pick a good spot for your fielding session
  • two people hacking = double the keys, they will drop those they pick up for you so you can spend more time deploying and linking, and less time walking back and forth or waiting next to portals to hack them again
  • they will help you figure out what to link to what and tell you where the portals are
  • they might give you gear you need
  • you’ll get to know another player who is part of the community!

Know the “key drop” trick

When you hack a portal that you already have the key to, it will not give you another key. When fielding, you will need more than one key per portal (more like 2 or 3, or even more).

If you drop the key before hacking the portal, the portal will probably give you a key. You can then pick up the key you just dropped and you will have two of them.

Make each hack count, when it comes to collecting keys!

Anything else?

If you’re currently leveling up and have received good advice to accelerate your progress, or if you’re an experienced player who has advice I haven’t listed here, share in the comments.

Bon alors, Ingress? [fr]

[en] A brief introduction to Ingress. Join the Enlightened!

Cela fait un peu plus de deux mois que je bassine mon entourage avec Ingress. C’est quoi, ce jeu?

Ingress, c’est un jeu multi-joueurs sur smartphone (Android/iOS) en espace réel.

C’est la partie “espace réel” qui m’a fait tilter, et crocher.

Ingress scannerCe que vous voyez ici c’est le “scanner” d’Ingress. En gros, imaginez Google Maps (c’est vraiment Google Maps, les routes que vous voyez). Ça c’est l’espace réel. Et au-dessus, comme en superposition, il y a une “couche” du jeu, ce que vous voyez en vert, bleu, et même gris: des “portails”. Le jeu consiste à interagir avec ces portails (j’explique tout de suite comment) mais le truc c’est que pour faire quelque chose à un portail on doit se déplacer physiquement avec son téléphone pour arriver au lieu où il est implanté. Le portail doit être dans le petit cercle jaune que vous voyez (une quarantaine de mètres) sur l’image.

Donc oui, faut s’habiller (en hiver) et aller marcher dehors. Et ça fait marcher des kilomètres, je rigole pas. On se prend vite au jeu.

Ce qu’on fait avec ces portails c’est en prendre possession et les relier entre eux. Ils nous fournissent aussi du matériel utile à les “déployer” (= en prendre possession et les préparer), à les connecter, et à les détruire quand ils appartiennent à la faction adverse (les deux portails bleus que vous voyez au fond).

Quand on relie trois portails entre eux, ça fait un “champ” (le coloriage vert que vous voyez), et la zone enfermée dans ce champ est sous le contrôle de votre équipe: verte ou bleue.

Vert ou bleu? La faction que vous rejoignez ne change pas grand-chose au jeu pour vous, une fois sur le terrain. Ce à quoi il faut prendre garde avant de choisir, cependant:

  • dans quelle faction jouent vos amis? (c’est mieux d’être dans la même, vraiment, sinon on ne peut pas jouer ensemble)
  • quelle est la faction dominante dans votre région? (suivant que vous aimez être en position de force ou non pour commencer)

Le choix de la faction est définitif, attention! Si vous jouez en Suisse Romande, vous devez impérativement choisir la faction verte. On a besoin de vous!

J’ai commencé à jouer mi-novembre. Depuis, j’ai rencontré plein de gens sympa (assez vite on comprend qu’il faut jouer à plusieurs), gravi 10 niveaux (presque 11), marché plus de 500km à pieds et trainé ma vieille voiture jusqu’au Locle pour une grande opération impliquant une trentaine de personnes.

Chronophage? Disons que mon temps à marcher dehors en jouant à Ingress, seule ou accompagnée, est du temps que je ne passe pas vissée devant ma télé, par exemple. Tout est relatif!