The Road to Platinum – #Blaugust2022 Blaugcheivements

Blaugcheivement Unlocked!

Blaugust, as envisioned by Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut, is a festival of blogging, a celebration of content creation of the written word variety, and a community-building activity for people participating in a medium that many consider to be dying or already dead. Although Blaugust awards are granted for established blogs who put out at least five posts during the month of August, I’ve set my sights on the Rainbow Diamond award, and am planning a post per day for the entire month.

As much as I love collecting achievements (or nerd points, as I started calling them soon after they were introduced in World of Warcraft back in 2008), I’ve never been particularly interested in trying to 100% most things. Even in games I’ve really loved and played to death, it seems like there’s always that one achievement that feels impossible, or forces you to play in a way that you don’t enjoy. I’ve mostly elected to collect nerd points only so long as I’m enjoying the process, which fits right in with my Play to Satsifaction theory.

Now, Blaugchievements are different. I knew when I started that I wanted the top trophy, and I was going to do whatever I could to get it. Now, just one day from the end of #Blaugust2022, I’m going to sum up my personal Road to Platinum.

(In all honesty, I was going to do most of this stuff anyway…)

The Post-Specific Blaugcheivements

Tips & Tricks for Staying Productive and Avoiding Burnout – August 2, 2022

Welcome to the Club(house) – August 5, 2022

The Spirits of Hobbies Past – August 12, 2022

Your Summer Safari – Five Photo-Snapping Games – August 7, 2022

Pay No Attention to the Nerd Behind the Curtain – August 9, 2022

Quick Look – In Sound Mind – August 15, 2022

Blaugust Reviews Humble Choice August 2022 – Unwise Owl – August 29, 2022

The Joy In Everything That’s Not Blogging – August 16, 2022

Pushing Through the Rough Spots – August 23, 2022

The Boy Scouts Had It Right All Along – August 29, 2022

The Non-Post-Specific Blaugchievements

The non-post-specific Blaugchievements fall into one of two categories. About half are of the you played the game, have nerdpoints variety, and most of the rest are nebulous and harder to point to the moment of completion. Suffice it to say, that all of those I feel I completed over the course of the month, but there’s a couple I wanted to highlight.

Two folks signed up for #Blaugust2022, and explicitly gave me the credit for this achievement. If you haven’t popped in and said hi to Jaedia at Dragons and Whimsy or DarksydeTed at Dispatches from Darksyde, it’s not too late, go do that now.

Okay, this one specifically talks about sharing pet pictures in the Blaugust Discord, which I did, but you all deserve dog photos as well!

And In The End…

What would a series of achievements be if there was not a “Platinum Trophy”. This one is gained by completing all of the achievements above during Blaugust.

As of yesterday’s post, I completed the Going Platinum Blaugcheivement, and tomorrow, I will earn my Rainbow Diamond Award for the year with my September goals post. It’s been a wild ride again this year, and I am glad to have shared it with so many friends, both new and old.

Lessons Learned – Week Five – The Boy Scouts Had It Right All Along

Blaugust, as envisioned by Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut, is a festival of blogging, a celebration of content creation of the written word variety, and a community-building activity for people participating in a medium that many consider to be dying or already dead. Although Blaugust awards are granted for established blogs who put out at least five posts during the month of August, I’ve set my sights on the Rainbow Diamond award, and am planning a post per day for the entire month.

This is WEEK FIVE of #Blaugust2022. The suggested topic for this week is Lessons Learned. Writing on this week’s suggested topic will earn you the Lessons Learned Blaugchievement.

This will be my third Blaugust even where I paid attention to the themes and talked a little bit about what I took away from the experience. In 2019, I was mostly just glad to be writing again, and little bit relieved it was all over. Then last year, I reminded myself that getting the words out was the important part, and I needed to let go of that part of me that desperately needs everything to be done absolutely perfectly.

Well, my big takeaway from 2022 is almost as revelatory – everything is easier when you take the time to prepare yourself.

The Boy Scouts of America may not be the best example to follow for most things in life, but “Be Prepared” is a pretty excellent motto nonetheless.

It sounds so obvious, doesn’t it? Because of the limitations of my energy, and my constant skirmishes with brain fog, I already have a pretty good focus on preparedness in the rest of my life. If I have a bunch of things I need to remember to take with me in the morning, I make sure to get them all together the night before. I make sure I have everything I need for the meals I plan to cook between grocery deliveries when I put in my order. Heck, I don’t even like to start a craft project until I have all the supplies I’m going to need for it.

Why did it never occur to me to apply this to my blogging before?

Sure, it didn’t stay this neat as I came up with new ideas and moved things around, but I never stumbled over thinking about what I was going to write for the entire month.

I have been keeping a content calendar – this was on my to list even before I decided to start up the #JustOnePercent Project, but it’s proved absolutely invaluable afterwards. None of my other series or projects had really stuck before this, but sitting down once a month, installing the games I planned to play the following month, and putting all the project posts onto a schedule has – mostly – kept me on track. I even started adding random post ideas that popped into my head, and adding things to the calendar after I’d already written them. I didn’t need to, of course – I could always look at the blog itself to see the posts I’d already made – but I liked the visual reminder of what I had accomplished.

Since I set my goals pretty high for #Blaugust2022, I decided to take it up a notch. What if, instead of just pre-planning my content, I started pre-writing it as well? I was already in the habit of scheduling posts; stuff that goes live in the morning tends to get more views than posts that go out when I tend to write in the evenings or at night. I gave myself a couple of dedicated blocks of time per week to work on posts, and thought I’d be very pleased to be 1-2 posts ahead at any given time.

A snapshot of my scheduled posts from August 7th, 2022.

It worked out better than I ever imagined. For the majority of the month, I’ve had somewhere between 5 and 7 posts scheduled at any given time, with usually one or two in progress in my drafts. Because I was working so far ahead, I didn’t feel rushed or pressured into playing games when I wasn’t in the mood, which I credit with both improving my enjoyment of and disposition towards my project games this month. Being ahead motivated me to stay ahead, and this was – without question – my easiest #Blaugust yet.

While what I learned about being prepared might be a good lesson for anyone, the other thing I learned this year is more personal. That is: the posts I write that are – in one way or another – very personal to me, are about 1000 times harder to write than any post I write about games, crafts, or anything else. The time spent actually writing is significantly longer, I do a ridiculous amount of editing and revision, and I find the whole thing emotionally exhausting.

I mean, sure, there’s some me in every post I make – as soon as you voice an opinion, you’re revealing something about yourself. But all of my life, I’ve been drawn to things that make me feel included without making me feel like the center of attention. I never auditioned for main roles, content to hang out in the chorus or, even better, behind the stage. I’d volunteer to photograph events so I wouldn’t have to be in the pictures. With very few exceptions, I’ve lived my life in a way that it was easy for me to be acknowledged, without every feeling like I was been seen.

I’m not 100% clear on where I am going with this, except to say, I plan to (mostly) continue as I have been, and as far as this blog is concerned, personal posts will continue to be the exception, and not the norm. I know this potentially diminishes my reach – after all, if I’m not giving you any compelling reason to come back for the person behind the keyboard, you might as well just read anyone else’s discourse on gaming and nerd stuff as mine. I can respect the desire to inject yourself into your work, and I do read quite a few blogs that are at least part personal journals, but it’s not what I want to be putting out into the world at this point in my life.

Staying Motivated – Week Four – Pushing Through the Rough Spots [#Blaugust2022]

Blaugust, as envisioned by Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut, is a festival of blogging, a celebration of content creation of the written word variety, and a community-building activity for people participating in a medium that many consider to be dying or already dead. Although Blaugust awards are granted for established blogs who put out at least five posts during the month of August, I’ve set my sights on the Rainbow Diamond award, and am planning a post per day for the entire month.

This is WEEK FOUR of #Blaugust2022. The suggested topic for this week is Staying Motivated. Writing on this week’s suggested topic will earn you the Staying Motivated Blaugchievement.

Apparently, this is not one of my favorite themes, as evidenced by the fact that I can only find one previous year’s post on the topic: Identifying Your Stumbling Blocks (August 2021).

For someone who is so very driven to be productive all the damned time, motivation should be easy for me. It is not. As much as I crave for things to be done, I often get all muddled up in the doing things step. The planning come fairly easy to me. The satisfaction of something finished is huge. It’s the parts in between that get me. And right now, we are all deep deep deep in the parts in between.

When this post goes live, we’re going to be just over a week out from the end of #Blaugust2022. Maybe you’ve found the whole thing a breeze so far, just posting every day and reading and commenting and finding inspiration right and left. If you have, great, but this post isn’t for you. Keep doing what you’re doing because obviously it’s working well and you don’t need my advice.

For everyone else, keep on reading. I’m going to blather on for a bit, and maybe somewhere in there, you’ll find something that speaks to you.

Finding the Reason for the Season (of Blogging)

Motivation looks different on different people. Even though I often struggle with motivation in general, for me, I put very little emphasis on external factors when looking for reasons to do a thing. When I set myself a goal, it’s almost always something I’m doing for myself, and as such, I try to set my goals in such a way that I’m not reliant on the cooperation or attention of others to meet them. Which isn’t me saying that there’s anything wrong with seeking extrinsic rewards for your efforts, but if you came into #Blaugust2022 or blogging in general with an expectation of receiving praise or fame or monetary rewards, you just might be a little disappointed in how it’s all turning out, even if you’re regularly producing quality content.

If you haven’t already done this, sit down with and confront your reasons. Get a pen and paper and write things down. Your first reason – your primary reason – should be right at the forefront of your mind, but don’t stop there. Really think about what being a blogger means to you. Think about why you’re participating in Blaugust instead of just treating August like any other month in regards to your blog. Write down everything you do get from it, and everything you hope to get from it, no matter how silly and farfetched.

Then go back down the list, and put a little checkmark or a star – heck, you can use stickers if you want to – next to every reason that’s working for you right now. If you don’t feel the urge to mark anything off, keep making the list longer. If you were truly getting nothing out of this, you would have quit already. There’s always a reason, you just need to find it.

Now look at the things you didn’t check off. Can you change how you’re doing something (or a lot of somethings) to get closer to a satisfaction point with those reasons? If so, what’s preventing you from making that change right now?

Figuring out what motivates you is often much harder work than doing the thing you’re supposed to be motivated to do in the first place, but if you don’t put in the energy to figure out your whys, you might be missing out on a lot of satisfaction you could be getting from your hobby.

If The Plan Isn’t Working, Make a New Plan

The first year I participated in Blaugust, this blog was only three days old. I have a tendency to jump into things without any care of how deep the water actually is. Despite the fact that my Parting Thoughts on #Blaugust2019 were pretty positive (and let’s be real – definitely sanitized), I know I struggled a lot that first year. I’d never started a blog without a narrow focus and a solid plan, and I have never been too good at just winging it. While I managed to reach my goals, I wasn’t exactly thrilled about the journey.

Whatever your plan (or lack thereof) was for #Blaugust2022, it isn’t too late to revise.

Looking critically at at plan and deciding that it isn’t working is not failure. A non-functional plan is a roadblock, and the sooner you can clear it on out of here, the sooner you can get back on the path to whatever it is you actually want.

Depending on how much free time you have, it may in fact be too late to do 31 posts before midnight on the last day of the month, but if you’re revising your plan, you can also revise your goals.

If you accidentally missed a day, and it’s throwing your mojo off, well, write something else and backdate it. It’s your blog, you get to do that.

If you’ve been faithfully posting every day, or doing whatever it takes to meet the goal you set for yourself, but you’re unhappy about the quality, you can go back and edit your posts, but do it in September. Promise yourself, next month, you’ll go clean everything up. Chances are good that it’s either burnout or imposter syndrome telling you nasty lies, and when you go to look at those posts in a week or two, you won’t hate them anymore.

You’ll be amazed what you can get done if you make up your mind to get out of your own way.

Winning Isn’t Everything (But It Feels Damn Good)

When you signed up for #Blaugust2022, you probably did so with a goal already in mind. Maybe you intended to post ever day. Maybe you didn’t necessarily want to go that far, but set your sites on getting silver with 15 posts. Maybe you just wanted to jump back into the community and find new interesting bloggers to read and see if inspiration struck you.

Now, Belghast does a damn good job of making sure that there are rewards at multiple levels of participation, because let’s be real – everyone loves to get a shiny badge that says “I did something!”, even if we aren’t really comfortable admitting it. The addition of Blaugcheivements this year just added to the diversity of potential Blaugust goals.

However, I’m going to add two more badges into the mix – there’s not going to be a quiz or anything, and if you think you earned one or both of these during #Blaugust2022, then you did. I’m sure some of your are rolling your eyes, but I bet there’s someone out there for whom this is going to be a revelation.

There are a lot of ways to win. Just because you might not win #Blaugust2022 in the way you planned on, didn’t mean that you got nothing out of trying. You put yourself out there, and that’s certainly worth acknowledging. Maybe you learned something about yourself, about the way you work, about the kind of writing you do – and do not – want to do. That’s valuable. In fact, it might be the most valuable thing you take away from #Blaugust.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Everyone Else

It’s worth bearing in mind that a lot of the blogs you see posting every day, or nearly every day, are the work of bloggers who aren’t just starting out. They don’t just do this in August. At least a couple of them are on posting streaks of a year or longer, and in many respects, this is just another month of doing the thing that they do.

The thing is, if you were exactly like any other blogger out there, then you’d just be redundant. What makes you unique, and what makes your voice important is your personal perspective, your life experience, your taste, and your style. While it’s great to have role models, the world only needs one of each of us. The content you create, the parts of you that you choose to put forth couldn’t possibly be written by anyone else.

Blogging doesn’t need to be something you do every day to be worthwhile. Sometimes, it’s hard to forget that in the push of a sprint, but if you want to keep a blog and have it keep adding value to you (and to your readers), then it’s more important to stay the course than to rush to the finish line.

Creative Appreciation – Week Three – The Joy In Everything That’s Not Blogging [#Blaugust2022]

Blaugust, as envisioned by Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut, is a festival of blogging, a celebration of content creation of the written word variety, and a community-building activity for people participating in a medium that many consider to be dying or already dead. Although Blaugust awards are granted for established blogs who put out at least five posts during the month of August, I’ve set my sights on the Rainbow Diamond award, and am planning a post per day for the entire month.

This is WEEK THREE of #Blaugust2022. The suggested topic for this week is Creative Appreciation. Writing on this week’s suggested topic will earn you the Creative Appreciation Blaugchievement.

One of the things I really love about Blaugust is how much we all boost each other up. Sure, part of that is that when you’re on a posting marathon, you’re looking for inspiration where ever you can find it, but I think that we also just really appreciate the work that other bloggers are doing and like to highlight that when we can.

Previously, week three had been focused on talking about game developers whose work really impressed us or had an effect on us, and after my first Blaugust, it was a theme I usually skipped. With this year’s theme being open to all sorts of creatives, I probably could have written a week’s worth of posts on it. So get comfy – I anticipate this being a long one.

Digital Art

Commission by Matt Fossen (

I had wanted to get a portrait done of my dogs for quite awhile, but I finally pulled the trigger last year when I saw that Matt had donated a commission slot to the Play Better Be Better fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children’s hospital, put on by Twitch streamer Malkarii. Matt is someone who I didn’t know personally, but knew of because of his ties to the World of Warcraft Community, and I really loved his art style. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the finished product, which I recently had turned into a canvas print to hang in my room.

Matt focuses mostly on art of animals, both real and fantastical. You can commission him on his website, or purchase his art through RedBubble.

Nature Photography

This creative is another person I met through World of Warcraft. Kirsten takes absolutely stunning photographs, and I’ve been needling her for awhile about making some of them available for purchase. She does travel quite a bit, but she also finds the beauty in the little things close to home.

Seed to Table – Video Content on Homesteading

Some of you might be inclined to argue that gardening, cooking, and canning isn’t really creative, and I at one time, I might have agreed with that. But if you take a gander at everything that Mailer’s Landing has got going on over on YouTube, you’ll see a family putting their everything into making something that’s sustainable, educational, and truly beautiful.

Art for the sake of art itself is super important, but there’s something exquisite about the art you can make that nourishes both body and soul.

Painting – Magic: The Gathering Card Alters in Acrylic

So, there’s a little story here. In the early days of the pandemic, I thought that maybe I’d try my hand at doing some Magic: The Gathering card alters. I ordered a bunch of acrylic paints, and we already have far more land cards then we’d ever need. I figured it’d be a fun distraction, talked about it a whole bunch, and then, as I have a tendency to do, never actually followed through on it.

But my husband (and fellow participant in #Blaugust2022) decided he wanted to give it a whirl, and just … taught himself how to paint. Sure, he’d been painting tabletop gaming models for years, but I think the work he’s done on these tiny canvases is mind-blowingly good. If you’re not familiar with the game, these are about the size of standard playing cards, so there’s not a lot of room to work with, and there’s a lot of detail in them.

This is mostly something he does for the love of it, but he’s also taken a few commissions. People are playing with these cards or hanging them up on their walls, and I think that’s outrageously cool.

Cross Stitch Pattern Design

Lior Zochovizky – TeenyWeenyXStitch & StitchItPicasso on Etsy

While I really enjoy working on cross-stitch projects, and the results are often really gorgeous, the real creativity is on the part of the pattern designer. Etsy is absolutely bursting with fantastic patterns, but a lot of my favorites are the work of one person – Lior Zochovizky. They maintain two separate Etsy storefronts, one for tiny patterns, and one for patterns that are more standard sized.

Originally, I was a Patreon subscriber, getting me 10 large patterns & a handful of tiny bonuses every month, but when they released full shop bundles with lifetime updates, I jumped on the opportunity. Of course, I now have more patterns than I would ever be able to make in my lifetime, but it seems like every few weeks a new batch of patterns drop and I get excited all over again.

I think my favorite thing – other than how stunning all the patterns are – is that they are also suitable for new stitchers. There are no complex stitches included in these patterns, so if you can make an X you can make any of these patterns.

Poetry Films

Combining art forms to make something that – in the end – is so much more than its individual parts is a skill that very few people have. I’ve always been fascinated by the art of film making, and poet and musician Rachel Kann is one of the best at making lyrical words into multi-sensory experiences. She puts all of her into everything she does, and she does it all beautifully. Every piece is carefully planned, and contributes to making a moment that will take your breath away every time.

I feel like I’ve gone on far too long already, and I feel like I’ve barely touched upon the many different forms creativity can take. There’s so much art and beauty, and people continuing to push through an unkind world to add light to it.

I’m putting this entry together quite a bit in advance of its post date, but I am really looking forward to seeing what other Blaugustians highlight during Creative Appreciation Week.

Getting To Know You Music Challenge [#Blaugust2022]

Remember when I gave you explicit permission to make a fluff post or two during Blaugust? Well, this is me, taking my own advice.

When I realized that the post I had planned for today was also a post I had basically written a couple weeks ago, I had a hole in my schedule. I also had recently posted (and completed) a music challenge over on my Discord, and I realized I could absolutely share the challenge & my playlist here as well. Voila, one almost-instant post!

I admit it could be just me, but I always felt like a playlist (or mix-CD or mix-tape for those of us of a certain age) was a great way of learning about someone else. Musical taste is so highly personal, and usually quite specific. Sometimes, it’s even completely baffling, and when you listen to the songs that someone in your life strongly identifies with, you might have Aha! Moment that brings into focus things you were only vaguely aware of about them.

I tried to – excuse the pun – mix it up with my list. There are some songs I’ve been listening to for most of my life that still get me right in the feels every time. There’s some stuff on there I only discovered in the last couple of years. Some stuff you probably already know, but some might be songs or artists you’ve never heard of. All in all, I’m pleased with the list I put together for me.

So, as Blaugustians are putting Introduce Yourself week behind us, I thought I’d share the playlist I created, as well as the challenge that spawned it. Feel free to make your own playlist, and if you tag me, drop me a comment, or otherwise let me know about it, I’ll give it a listen.

The Spirits of Hobbies Past [#Blaugust2022]

Blaugust, as envisioned by Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut, is a festival of blogging, a celebration of content creation of the written word variety, and a community-building activity for people participating in a medium that many consider to be dying or already dead. Although Blaugust awards are granted for established blogs who put out at least five posts during the month of August, I’ve set my sights on the Rainbow Diamond award, and am planning a post per day for the entire month.

Tell us about some of your hobbies outside of the realm of your specific niche.

from the Blaugust Prompt List

This prompt would probably be easier to approach if (a) I had more specific niche or (b) I had more hobbies. I intentionally kept the scope of this blog pretty wide, precisely so I could keep going with it as my interests wavered. While I’ve pretty consistently kept the majority of my content focused around gaming, I’ve also allowed myself to wander off path to other things that catch my fancy from time to time. So every now and then, I talk about books, music, television and movies, or crafty projects like paint-by-numbers or cross-stitch.

So I’m going to subvert this prompt a little bit, and talk about some of the hobbies I’ve had in the past that I’ve drifted away from, including the reasons why I’m no longer actively pursuing those hobbies, provided I actually know what those are.

(The first one got a little long, but the rest, I promise, will be more to the point!)

Poetry: Reading, writing, performing & publishing

Forgive me for hopping into the Wayback Machine on this first one. Although I still read some poems here and there, poetry was pretty much my entire existence for about 5 years, starting around 1998. In 1999, I was the alternate for my home venue’s Poetry Slam team, and traveled to the National Poetry Slam in Chicago with them that year. Then, in 2000, the host city was nearby Providence, RI and although I was still writing, I dedicated myself to the organization side that year by taking on the position of Volunteer Coordinator. In 2001, NPS was in Seattle, WA and again, instead of performing with a team I elected to take on an organizational challenge, and coordinated a 96 hour open poetry reading, handling hosting and staffing duties over four very long days. For this effort, I was awarded the first ever Spirit of the Slam award during the Finals Night show.

Using the connections I had made leading up to NPS in Seattle, that September I headed out on a coast to coast tour, performing my work down the east coast, across the southern states, before performing my last show in California. I was pretty far from home when September 11th happened, and I ended up cutting my tour short to come back to be with family in the wake of the tragedy.

The poem featured in this video is called Flockprinter, and is written and performed by Buddy Wakefield. He and I started in slam at the same time, and he went on to win multiple titles and parlay his art into a lifelong career. Would you believe that this guy once opened for me in Vegas? I still love saying that, more than 20 years later.

For the next several years, I continued writing, reading out at open mics, and even booking an occasional featured poet slot at shows. I even did a stint as the coach for my home team one year. I also dabbled in doing layout and publishing of poetry chapbooks, both of my own work and for other folks, but I knew by then that the rock star poet life wasn’t really for me. I think the last large scale poetry slam event I attended was back in 2008, and that was around the same time I almost entirely stopped writing poetry, although I attended smaller local-ish shows on occasion for a few more years.

Since the dissolution of Poetry Slam Incorporated (the non-profit organization behind the National Poetry Slam), a lot of the history has pretty much disappeared into the ether. I wasn’t one of the people who was ever going to make the highlights reel of this artistic movement anyway. In fact, even when I google my maiden name, there’s hardly an indication anywhere on the internet that I was ever involved with poetry, and I’m pretty okay with that.

Why I stopped: If I had to point to a single reason, it would be that I went through a couple of bouts of pretty serious interpersonal drama back to back. While that was reasonable good fodder for the writing part, my confidence was pretty badly shaken and I was uncomfortable in the spaces where things were happening locally. That said, I feel like by that point, I had already started growing out of the scene. I was seeing friends who had started around the same time as I did being very successful with it, and I knew then that I didn’t have the stage presence or the self-confidence to do much more than I was already doing. I made a lot of amazing friends during that time in my life, but it was a realm for the young and idealistic, or dedicated and charismatic, and I am no longer either.


I have always been a little bit jealous of folks who have any sort of affinity for visual art. I basically can’t draw anything more complex than a stick figure, I stick to paint-by-numbers when I have the urge to pick up a brush, and the printmaking course I took in college stressed me out and made me cry more than any introductory class every should. However, put a camera in my hand, and all of a sudden I understand composition and can – at least some of the time – produce something someone might consider hanging on their wall.

I’ve done some portrait photography, some event photography, and have even messed around some with everyday object photography, but nature shots are far and away the type of pictures I most enjoy taking. In college, I had a really great film SLR camera that I think cost me more than my first car, and nothing made me happier than hanging out in the darkroom printing photos. As film started to be phased out by digital, I lost interest for a few years. When my husband bought me a mid-range DSLR camera as a wedding present, I got back into photography for a couple of years, but it’s been awhile now since I’ve taken any pictures with anything but my phone. Sure, they’re still photos, but it’s really not the same.

Why I stopped: Once we stopped traveling, due to finances being tight, I found myself reaching for my good camera less and less before we’d leave the house. Now, I hardly ever leave the house, and my phone is always right at my finger tips when I want to take a picture. I’d like to get back into it someday, but I’d have to make a concerted effort to remember to take my camera when I do actually go places.

Zentangle(tm) or Meditative Doodling

I know, I just got finished telling you I cannot draw to save my life, and it probably won’t surprise you to hear that I am completely incapable of just sitting and doing nothing, but somehow, combining two things I’m absolutely dreadful at turns into something I can do well enough to not hate it.

It wasn’t ever something I got truly good at it, and I didn’t do much without the training wheels of a graph paper or dotted worksurface, but back when I was doing it regularly, I found it immensely relaxing. I got a lot of satisfaction from following the step-by-step instructions and producing something that looked like the example, and I’ve always loved a nice pen. It also filled a desire to collect things like a tiny dragon, leading to an overstuffed Pinterest board full of pattern step-outs to play around with.

Why I stopped: At the beginning of 2016, we moved into our current house. I only unpacked the box with my Zentangle supplies a couple months ago when the absurdly heavy bookshelves were finally settled into their proper spot. I’d definitely like to start back up now that I have access to all my stuff, but my project plate has been a little full lately, and I’m honestly a little apprehensive that what little skill I had may have atrophied over the years.

Sometimes it feels weird, the things we leave behind or put away on a shelf as our circumstances change. But I think, in one way or another, we always find our way back to the things we love. A year ago, I would have defined cross-stitch as something I used to do, and now, I usually have multiple projects in progress and it’s rare I go more than a few days without a good stitch session. I expect that most hobbies that you engage with for any significant period of time come back around again one way or another, given enough time, but for now, these things are nothing more than things the person I used to be used to do.

Introduce Yourself – Week Two – Pay No Attention to the Nerd Behind the Curtain [#Blaugust2022]

Blaugust, as envisioned by Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut, is a festival of blogging, a celebration of content creation of the written word variety, and a community-building activity for people participating in a medium that many consider to be dying or already dead. Although Blaugust awards are granted for established blogs who put out at least five posts during the month of August, I’ve set my sights on the Rainbow Diamond award, and am planning a post per day for the entire month.

This is WEEK TWO of #Blaugust2022. The suggested topic for this week is Introduce Yourself. Writing on this week’s suggested topic will earn you the Introduce Yourself Blaugchievement.

In order to figure out what I wanted to write about for this week’s theme, I had to go back and look at what I’ve already written about. Because it was kind of annoying to actually do that, I’m going to link these here for your convenience and try to be better about putting my stuff in categories in the future. Hint: if you’re looking for inspiration of how to work on your own Introduce Yourself post, you could do far worse than to borrow the prompts in the second two links.

Most of the time, I don’t much care to talk about myself. Partially because I don’t think that I personally am overly interesting, and there’s an entire universe of things I could talk about that are vastly moreso. Partially because it can creep a little too close to self-promotion, which I always feel exceedingly weird about for no good reason. Partially because introspection is hard work, and while I’m not against hard work as a concept, figuring out who I am in such a way to be able to distill that into a peppy blog entry isn’t my preferred challenge.

Huh. All the reasons I don’t like to talk about myself sure seem to say a lot about me. That’s a bit awkward.

Spoiler alert: I am not *actually* a dog in a shower cap. It’s just that she’s way cuter than I am.

So, let’s go with random facts this year, shall we? I don’t know exactly where this is going to take us, but I expect it’s going to be a hell of a ride.

FACT: I hate having my picture taken

I feel like it’s a pretty good corollary to not liking to talk about myself, but I also really don’t care to have my picture taken. I have attempted to take a selfie a handful of times in my life, and I don’t know that I’ve ever managed one I didn’t instantly hate and delete. The pictures in the collage above are all at least five years old, with the oldest one being from sometime in 2008. I’m sure there are a few more pictures of me floating around from the Before Times – but if I had to guess, there’s probably not all that many. While I’m perfectly comfortable behind a camera, I do everything in my power to avoid being in front of one.

FACT: I don’t know a whole lot about astrology, but I identify strongly with my sun sign

Sure, I dabbled a bit when I was younger, but I never got really into astrology like a lot of people I know. I wouldn’t know how to start to figure out someone’s chart, and I really have no strong inclination to learn. In fact, it was only last year that I even bothered to figure out my own “big three”, and I certainly don’t read my daily horoscope anywhere.

I do, however, basically use my Instagram to share Capricorn memes to my story. Capricorn memes make me feel seen in ways that little else does. Which sort of leads directly into my third fact…

FACT: I have learned more about myself in the last couple years than I ever wanted to

There has never been a time in my life that I can remember that I wasn’t outrageously hard on myself. No matter how good I was at something, I always suspected I could do better if only I’d tried harder. If I wasn’t pretty much instantly comfortable with and competent at anything, I would either abandon it in a very short period of time, or never ever mention it to anyone and do it only in secret. I never much cared for any activity that drew attention to myself. I knew I was weird, and frequently wondered why people ever chose to spend time with me. I didn’t understand any of the reasons for being this way; I just vacillated between assuming everyone was secretly like this, or that something in me was just broken and I couldn’t figure out how to relate to other people.

I got by for most of my life through a combination of people pleasing, compartmentalizing to hide my emotions, and bluffing my way through horribly stressful situations. Then in my thirties, I got sick and never really recovered and it changed just about everything. I’ve talked about it a bit previously in the latter half of this post, but I tried really hard for a lot of years to avoid thinking about how this random bit of bad luck completely derailed my life, and made me change how I dealt with just about everything and everyone.

Well, for the past two years, I’ve had a lot of empty hours, and a lot of time to think, although I assure you, I tried just about everything I could come up with of to distract myself from it. I think most people have gotten used a life that is so busy and so full and forces us to split our attention in a million little ways every day, and I realized that not only did I not need to keep trying to do that, it also wasn’t sustainable for me any longer. I’d slowed down since I’d become disabled, but I still kept trying to do too much, and had been continuing to spread myself too thin. So I slowed down yet again, although just about every part of me resisted it.

In the process of trying to remember how to take care of myself, I ended up with the mental space to really start to figure out why I felt so different from most people I encountered in the real world. I mean, I had known for years that I suffer from some pretty serious anxiety, and that I was prone to occasional bouts of melancholy (I’d say periods of depression but bouts of melancholy is so much more poetic, don’t you think?). I knew that the immense pressure I put on myself to do more, be more, and chase perfection even though I knew damn well it was faster than I will ever be was continuing to damage me both mentally and physically, but until recently, I hadn’t allowed myself to consider what would happen if I just … didn’t do that anymore.

Actually listening to myself after years of sublimating my own needs was a rude awakening. I wish I could tell you all that there was a happy ending to this story, but it isn’t over yet. I’m still trying to teach myself that I deserve as much grace as I have always tried to give to others. I’m still doing research and trying to figure out what labels most closely match my lived experience, and looking for clues as to who I am now and who I have always been. I’m not sure that I will ever decide to chase official diagnoses – my prior experiences of being fat and female while seeking medical care of any kind make that somewhat unpalatable, and I don’t really see any reason why I would have to unless I feel the need to pursue medical interventions for my mental health concerns or possible neurodivergencies.

I’m not sure if this is what people talk about when they reference midlife crises, but since I have yet to be overcome with a burning desire for a very fast sportscar and a very young paramour, it’s not exactly unraveling the way I would have expected it to.

Well – that ended up longer and more involved than I ever intended. The things I do for nerdpoints.

Your Summer Safari – Five Photo-Snapping Games

Thanks to GhastlyMirror over at The Ghastly Gamer for inspiring this post. Check out their post on Summer Gaming Fun for more virtual vacation destination suggestions.

For a lot of folks this summer, travel just isn’t in the cards. Maybe you’re choosing caution in light of two completely separate pandemics going around. Maybe it’s the high cost of gas and, well, everything else. Maybe it’s just that it’s too damn hot this summer to leave the sanctuary of your air conditioned house. Any way you look at it, this might be the perfect time for a virtual vacation!

I really can’t recall playing any photography-focused games prior to last year’s New Pokémon Snap, which I bought for the Nintendo Switch and then absolutely devoured. Since then, I’ve been hunting down puzzle adventure games with a strong focus on taking pictures. Maybe one of them (or all of them) might strike your fancy and allow you to take a little virtual safari this summer.

It only took me a little under six hours to complete Alekon to my satisfaction when it released last August, but every minute of that was absolutely delightful. Explore biomes to photograph adorable critters, called Fictions, and welcome them into Dream’s Doorstep, where they will present you with quests and minigames. Initially, you’ll be confined to a set path through these areas, but it won’t be long until you unlock the ability to free-roam. All of the pieces of this game just fit perfectly for me, and the art style and humor really polishes up the whole experience.

Beasts of Maravilla Island will whisk you away to a magical place, full of fantastic creatures. You’ll fill your photo journal with pictures of the flora and fauna, and solve puzzles to get those extra special shots. It’s a compact experience, easily finishable in less time than it takes to watch a movie, but the beauty and positive message of the game will likely stay with you long after you set sail for home.

This is one of the games I played this year for the #JustOnePercent project, and you can read my full review here: Game Over: Beasts of Maravilla Island

Penko Park is the photography collectathon game for those among us who might be existing in summer, but are dreaming of Halloween. This one is three parts cute to one part creepy as you explore an abandoned wildlife park, and photograph and interact with the things that have been left behind. Your photo journal will guide you towards things you may have missed, and there’s quite a few achievements to be gained along the way.

I know that cats are the current kings of the video gaming world right now, but Pupperazzi caters to the dog lovers. Solve puzzles, take photos, and dress up dogs in adorable costumes. Take a break from your career and the pressures of social media to play with a variety of dogs. This one is also currently part of XBox Game Pass for PC.

If you prefer your photography games to lean heavily into puzzle solving, Toem: A Photo Adventure might be the best choice for you. The inhabitants of this quirky black and white world need your help. Take pictures to solve problems, and don’t forget to focus on all the little details along the way.

Welcome to the Club(house) [#Blaugust2022]

Blaugust, as envisioned by Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut, is a festival of blogging, a celebration of content creation of the written word variety, and a community-building activity for people participating in a medium that many consider to be dying or already dead. Although Blaugust awards are granted for established blogs who put out at least five posts during the month of August, I’ve set my sights on the Rainbow Diamond award, and am planning a post per day for the entire month.

Hot Topics – Write at least one blog post based on the Blaugust Prompt List. Some years ago we had this whole “topic web ring” sort of thing that was a giant mess. However it did produce a pretty solid list of topical prompts, and my hope is that someone participating in this event will find them useful.

Tell us about some community that you are part of and why it interests you or how it impacts you?

from the Blaugust Prompt List

This year, I’ve been having a pretty epic personal crisis of community. I suspect it’s a thing that has been a long time coming, but I haven’t had the slightest idea of what to do about it. I wasn’t great at making friends and maintaining connections during the years it was supposed to be easy – I’m completely flummoxed about how I’m supposed to do it as an adult. Add in a chronic illness and global pandemic, and it feels outrageously overwhelming.

Back in March, I put out a rather mopey and maudlin sort of post about it. I had initially just intended to explain why I was stepping away from World of Warcraft, but as I was trying to organize my thoughts, I realized there was no good way to separate the action from my feelings about it. And hooboy, was I deep in my feelings at the time. For some folks, emotions are fuel, and they can channel them so very productively, but that’s not me. I had to take some time, really process what it all meant, and what – if anything – I should be doing about it.

Eventually, I settled on the idea of creating yet another Discord community. I started brainstorming what I wanted that to look like back in May, and sat down and really started putting the pieces together in June. I spent far more time on it than it probably needed, but it wasn’t until the beginning of July that I was ready to actually open it up. For the first week or so, it was just me and a handful of folks who agreed to help me test some things out and give feedback on the organization of it all, and in mid-July, I opened it up to the general public, starting – of course – with people I was already regularly interacting with.

I have been working on a community-style Discord for people to have a place with oodles of voice channels for any kind of social stuff they want to do.  Most of the Discords I'm currently in are single activity focused, and it's left me with a whole bunch of folks I like spread out all over the place with very little intermixing, so that's why I decided to do this.  Everyone here is welcome to join, and invites are open, so you can bring your friends.  There's not much happening there right now, but I'm hoping to get the place more active within the next few weeks.  Much like myself, it's a work in progress.

Building a community has to be a labor of love, or no one would ever do it. In a way, it sort of feels a bit like cheating to start out the way that I have done here – by pulling in folks from other existing communities that I already know somewhat and feel safe around. It’s been a bit of a crisis of conscience deciding where and how to advertise that I’ve cobbled together this space – I simultaneously don’t want to put people on the spot by sending personal invitations, but I also don’t always feel like it’s appropriate to plug a community in a different community, even if the purposes don’t entirely overlap.

We’ve had a few scheduled events, and a few impromptu ones. Some days, the text chats are active, and some other they’ve been fallow. At this point, it’s hard to tell how much of this is because my friends want to support me, and how much of it is that what I’ve cobbled together is actually meeting a need for some people.

So, I’m trying to let it happen as organically as I can now. If it is, in actuality, the kind of place I aspire for it to be, people will tell their friends, and those people will tell their friends, and it will grow in time. While I don’t expect we’re going to see another period where businesses are shut down, and people are being asked to stay home as much as possible, I do expect we’re fast approaching another point where that would be the most prudent course of action, and I admit that that is part of why I have pushed myself to actually do this now.

It seems like everyone is feeling a little lost and lonely in the world right now. There’s nothing I can really do to fix any of the immense problems we’re all facing every day, but I can carve out a little space, and leave the light on for anyone who needs a place to settle their mind for a few hours.

If this all sounds like something you want or need in your life, click the picture above to join in.

Welcome to Blaugust – Week One – Tips & Tricks For Staying Productive & Avoiding Burnout [#Blaugust2022]

Blaugust, as envisioned by Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut, is a festival of blogging, a celebration of content creation of the written word variety, and a community-building activity for people participating in a medium that many consider to be dying or already dead. Although Blaugust awards are granted for established blogs who put out at least five posts during the month of August, I’ve set my sights on the Rainbow Diamond award, and am planning a post per day for the entire month.

This is WEEK ONE of #Blaugust2022. The suggested topic for this week is Welcome to Blaugust. Writing on this week’s suggested topics will earn you the Welcome Wagon Blaugcheivement.

Whether this is your first time participating in Blaugust or you’re a grizzled veteran with many years and badges under your belt, if you’re going all in and aiming for 31 posts in 31 days, the next few weeks are probably going to feel a little bit rough. Some of us struggle with even small disruptions to our schedules and routines, and – at least for me – this requires more dedication than I normally give to my blog.

Personally, I like to offset some of that by laying myself a strong foundation, but I’m a planner by nature. Other people will take one look at my prep work and dismiss it as being entirely too restrictive, and for them it very likely would be. There’s just too many types of people for me to give you a “one size fits all” strategy. What I can do, however, is give some pretty general advice that might make it easier to identify and avoid your personal pitfalls.

Set A Reasonable Goal for Your Life

While it’s true that some people thrive when they have something to keep them occupied for every waking hour, for most people, this is the bullet train to burn out. If you’re already struggling to find time for yourself after taking care of all of your must-do’s, chasing rainbow diamond might not be in the cards for you this year, and that’s okay. If you still feel like it’s something you need to strive for, then your other option is to figure out what else in your life is somewhat less mandatory for the next month.

Maybe it’s worth it to you to give up a standing social engagement for a few weeks. Maybe you have a supportive spouse that can pick up a little extra housework, allowing you time to write. Maybe you already know exactly how to steal back an hour every day (or a larger block of time a couple times a week).

But if not, there’s nothing wrong with choosing an easier load this time. It always feels better to exceed your expectations than to fall short. You might also choose to focus less on the raw output and more on the community building aspects by knocking out a handful of Blaugcheivements instead of measuring your success strictly by post count.

Take the framework of Blaugust, and figure out how you need to adapt it to fit your life. You absolutely get to do that.

Give Your Inner Critic A Month Off

I’m sure you’ve heard someone say “Good, fast, and cheap – pick two” but you might be wondering how it applies to what I’m talking about here. Well, for most folks, when it comes to writing a blog, you get slightly different options. Of course, one of your three options is still good (in other words, high quality posts), but the other two are frequency of posts and reasonable time investment. Since what constitutes a reasonable time investment is completely subjective, it might not be impossible to ever have all three, but it’s a really hard road, and ideally, you don’t want to be hating your blog or yourself before the end of the month.

Unless you’re relying on your blog to make money that you need to survive (and if you do, you probably already dedicate more time and energy to it than your average blogger), if you really want to make sure you’re hitting your post counts, and you’ve already set aside as much time as you are able to, then you should get comfortable with the idea of the quality of your content taking a small hit this month.

I swear to you I didn’t make this up, but it was too on the nose to not include.

Now, I’m not saying you should subvert the whole concept and post a single word or sentence and call it a post (although sometimes subversion can be just as much work and outrageously interesting). But if you only have time to write or to edit, let it fly unedited. Don’t hesitate to post a fluff piece or two. Skip the pictures if you need to. Toss off a stream of consciousness post that doesn’t fit under your typical content umbrella. Give your thoughts on one of these philosophical questions. Write a quick paragraph or two based on one of the available prompts, or find one of those “blogger award” questionnaires to answer. I promise you, the world won’t end.

As a recovering perfectionist, I realize that this might seem scandalous. In fact, a year ago, I would never have given this advice. But what I took away from Blaugust 2021 was that none of us should be letting the idea of perfect be the reason we can’t reach our goals.

It probably was never going to be perfect anyway.

Be Kind to Yourself and Your Work

I’m going to be blunt: when you break everything down, there’s only three good reasons to do a thing. The first, because we live in a capitalist hellscape, is if it makes you money because you need money to survive. So again, this is where this post really isn’t for the bloggers (and I know they’re out there) for whom this is a job, be that a primary income source or a supplementary but necessary one.

So if you’re not writing for financial rewards, you’re likely doing it for one of the next two reasons: either because it brings you satisfaction, or because it brings you joy. The luckiest folks among us have things in their life that bring them satisfaction, joy, and money, but for most of us, we settle for one or two at a time. On my best days, blogging brings me both satisfaction and joy, but it’s rare that put in the effort and I don’t get at least one or the other. When it is no longer serving me in either capacity, I do something else until I miss it. So far, I’ve kept on coming back sooner or later.

If, during Blaugust or at any other time, you realize you’re banging your head against the wall and you’re not making money, or feeling good about what you’re doing in one way or the other, well, then it’s time to either release some pressure or stop entirely. Winning – whatever that means to you – is never going to be more important than having an outlet for your voice, and if you let your ambition kill your love of blogging, then we have all lost a little bit too.

If you find yourself starting to dread opening up your blogging software of choice, please quit before you hate it. There are already too many things we have to do in this life. I’m giving you explicit permission to only do it as long as you are excited about it.

As an added bonus, feel free to make an entire post giving your absolute best piece of advice about blogging in particular, writing in general, or avoiding burn out. You know, just in case you need a topic because you’re planning to do a lot of posting this month or something.