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Working Out

One thing that has been on my goal list, is working on my health. No, not as a resolution, but really doing it. My goal is to be able to do 10 km on the elliptical. Not that I have to do it every time, but like a challenge. When I set the goal, I knew it would be a longterm goal.

My last session has 3,4 km in 30 minutes, which is pretty good for me. My health has never been great and for some reason I never managed to get fitter when I was still doing badminton twice a week. I even fainted once just after the warmup. I figured out a few months ago that I’ve POTS symptoms. My blood doesn’t transport the oxygen fast enough to the parts that need it. That causes me to faint in certain circumstances, and one of the things that’s really hard for POTS-patients, is exercise.

And that’s even without my EDS. Loose joints are terrible if you want to do any kind of exercise. Heck, it’s even dangerous. I could throw my hip out doing squats. So doing any kind of exercise is a challenge. I have to asses my body first before I can do anything. I really want to do more Just Dance, but my legs are so unstable, and my shoulder muscle is still pretty stiff that I didn’t want to risk it. There’s a body weight workout that’s perfect, but there’s still my neck and headache to consider. More stiff muscles wouldn’t be good.

So I did a round on the elliptical today. And it was a good one. By lowering the resistance and slowly working my muscles, I was able to reach the 30 minutes. I made sure not to push my limits or I would’ve seen stars and near fainted. Doing it like this might help me to one day get the stamina to do 10 km. I’ll get there, slowly.

Being A Terrible Person

Last night, I played a game of Cards Against Humanity with Delly, our partners, and her friends. She found a free online tool to play the game, and what’s better to do now than being horrible human beings together?

During this time of isolation, I noticed that I started liking people in general even less than I normally do. People in my neighbourhood were hanging out with friends and family, having BBQs, and even having a birthday party outside!

Yes, I was pissed. I hate people, not even caring about other people’s well being, obstructing the street and sidewalks with their party, mingling people who otherwise would never see each other. That’s how people get infected. When I heard the police was being very generous with handing out fines, I was happy. But people still continued despite the fines.

Stay home! For your sake, for my sake, for your elderly neighbour’s sake.

So playing Cards Against Humanity and just saying a general ‘fuck you’ to humans was nice. I’m a terrible person when I play. I won one round, Delly the other, but we were tied and I had to pick the winning answer: hers. Well, we know we’re both terrible and maybe that’s why we like each other.

Cards Against Humanity

Cards Against Humanity is a card gamewhere you have to fill in the blanks. The czar will read out a black card with blanks, all the other players have to fill these in with answers on their cards. Some black cards require one answer, others multiple. The answers range from silly to explicit and it’s how you match these with the black where the real fun starts.

Note: This game is definitely not for people who don’t have (dark) humour. The game is inviting you to be the most terrible person you can be. The worse the better. So if you’re easily offended, don’t play this game, because you will hate all the other players.

My strategy

The white answer cards are definitely part luck. Some cards are what I call wild cards, like “Batman!”. They’ll work in most situations. Other cards are oddly specific and are only funny in a certain context.

But it’s not just about picking the funniest answer. You have to pick the one the czar will think is funniest. The Batman-card would work for my husband’s sister, but not my brother-in-law’s wife. She’s not a nerd and can’t appreciate it (honestly, it’s good she didn’t play with us at all). But political jokes work very well on my father-in-law. And my brothers-in-law and my husband will take anything poo-pee-R-rated joke. The darker, the better.

This worked well yesterday too. I quickly figured out that anything sorcery/wizard/paranormal related would work on Delly. One of her friends wouldn’t pick the sex-related cards. My husband is still my husband, and we really know each other well enough. Figuring out what everyone likes or doesn’t like helps with winning the game. And then it’s just a matter of luck in getting the right cards.

Headache Of The Decade

Like always, I have my health issues to keep me company when I feel the most relaxed. When I’m in bed, for example. Yesterday morning, I felt a vertebrae in my neck shift. It might have been the thing that caused the major headache almost a month ago. That would mean it’s now either right or very wrong. I’d like to think it’s right since I can still watch Community and look at the screen, but I can’t do too much. My head won’t let me.

Just after it happened, I felt the blood rush to my head, slowly getting back to the places it couldn’t reach easily before. It’s a weird sensation, feeling your blood flow. It’s an even weirder sensation to hear your neck crack, feel something shifting, and not dying? I don’t know. I’ve experienced so many weird bodily things over the year, so why not add one more.

I really hope my headache will finally improve now, and I’ve to work on the stability of my neck so it doesn’t happen again. I’m used to headaches, but this one was different from my regular headaches. Not being able to do words is terrible, especially for a writer and blogger. With yesterday’s nudge, I’m back in active recovery mode (besides the mauling from Shiro earlier that week). So I don’t know how my writing will go and I still have to finish editing a short story before Friday.

Despite having drafts lined up for this week, I have no idea if/when they’ll be written. Maybe I’m going with something entirely different. I don’t know yet. Maybe tonight’s sleep will give me more enlightenment.

New Switch Games

Every so often Nintendo will release a ‘direct’, showing off the new games and sharing information about games released at a later date. The Switch is slowly becoming my favourite console/handheld. Especially when I see the line up of new games.

My console/handheld history

My Nintendo experience started with Nintendo Entertainment System, the NES. Yes, we go waaaay back. Then I bought a secondhand Gameboy. The games were tough and I couldn’t finish them without cheating. With the first Playstation, that ended. There were a few games I finished, but I still spend a long time trying to master the games.

Then came the PS2 and PS3. Still much the same. I bought a lot of games but didn’t finish many. I’m just not that good of a gamer, and some games can’t really be finished.

I also owned a Wii with various exercise games like Wii Fit and Just Dance. Exercise has always been a problem for me and this console definitely help me move more. But more on that later.

The DSi Lite was my handheld of choice, the one I took with me on vacations, usually with one game I’d play the whole vacation. I probably finished more games on the DS than any other console. I really loved the games on it, but also the device itself. The feedback on the buttons of the 3DS is too much and my thumb especially starts hurting after only playing 15 minutes.

I love my Switch

And then came the Switch. We bought the Switch a few years ago with Bayonetta 2 and Mario Odyssey. I finished Bayonetta and really wanted to play 2. My husband loves Mario games so that one was for him. I didn’t play on it much before until I had Stardew Valley and played a few days every evening.

I’ll be honest. The Switch replaced the 3DS and the DS more than it replaced any of the consoles. I use it in handheld mode mostly since Stardew Valley and Pokemon Sword are excellent for handheld play.

The Switch lite would’ve been excellent, but it would’ve been nearly impossible to play Just Dance on it, so I’m glad we have the docked version. My husband also prefers to play on the TV. So it’s nice to have options.

New games

When they announced the port of the Collection of Mana, a game series I loved when I was little, I knew I wanted to play it again. My husband gave it to me. The game I was most interested in was Trails of Mana, the one they’re also making a remake of. I don’t know yet if I want to play that one. The quality of the remake is much better than I expected, but I still enjoy playing the original. So would it add value if you just play it for the story? I don’t know.

Last November Pokemon Sword came out. We were in Japan at the time so I didn’t preorder it, but it was one of the first things I did when we got back. I was waiting for a good Pokemon again. I played Pokemon Sun/Moon for awhile (until my hands started hurting seriously) but I didn’t seem to enjoy it as much. I don’t really know why because the game is gorgeous, the Pokemon cute and I love the idea of the challenges instead of ordinary gyms.

Pokemon Sword was everything I wanted and more. It didn’t bother me that I couldn’t catch all 800+ Pokemon. To be honest, the idea alone is overwhelming. This is the first time in a long while that I beat the champion in years. I’m currently trying to complete as much of the pokedex as possible.

Early last month, I bought Octopath Traveler with a 50% discount. I already played the demo before and knew I’d one day play the whole game. I guess that’s now. It seemed like the perfect game to enjoy during self-isolation. That said, I’ve only just recruited my second character and still haven’t killed the boss. It’s been awhile since I played a JRPG and have to get used again to grinding and learning the mechanics of bosses. No kill comes easy. I’ll get there though.

And with more discounts come more games. I really like that the Nintendo eShop has regular sales now and triple A games also get discounted. I remember when things were different. So I picked up Just Dance 2019 for 15 bucks, including one month of Just Dance Unlimited. I played the first two or three games on the Wii and enjoyed it a lot. Dancing is one of the few things I’d still do even if my body wouldn’t work with me. Plus, no one is going to see my dance except my husband and Shiro.

So with all these games and even more awesome games to come, I think the Switch is going to be my new favourite handheld and console. Two in one, how convenient.

Real Neat Blogger Award

Thank you to Solarayo from Ace Asunder for nominating me for the Real Neat Blogger Award. I’m going to answer the questions, but I’m not going to nominate again. Otherwise, the whole Blapril community will only be doing tags and awards for the rest of the month.

Do you ever listen to video game soundtracks outside of gaming sessions? If so, which ones?

I used to listen a lot to Final Fantasy and Halo 3 music. At the moment, I don’t anymore. I listen to music I can sing along with, soundtracks from anime or movies.

What’s a game that you loved growing up, but find it harder to enjoy now whether due to a change in tastes or now outdated mechanics and graphics?

Diablo 2. There’s a lot of clicking involved and for some reason, I strain my hands doing it while I have no problem playing Diablo 3 or another ARPG.

Which game console do you feel has the greatest library of titles to choose from?

I’d say PS3, but lately I have a feeling the Switch will overtake it soon. A post on that is coming this week (already planned).

Name a video game character that has made a positive impact in your life?

Alistair from Dragon Age: Origins probably. If he was real and I’d met him, I’d probably fall in love with him. He’s shy and not afraid to be vulnerable. Instead of having all these ‘love interests’ that are tough, having a more caring, kinder one made me realise how much I wanted that in a partner.

If you could sit down to a conversation with any fictional character(book, movie, or game) who would it be and where would this conversation occur?

This is a tough one. Mostly because I still can’t think properly about deep questions like this. There are so many good and interesting characters. But sometimes it might be more interesting to have a conversation with the antagonist. It’s easy to relate to the protagonist, but sometimes it’s the antagonist who has a more interesting story which we don’t always get to see. How did they come to be that way?

If you could travel to any video game location for a hard-earned vacation, where would you go?

Destiny Island from Kingdom Hearts. I’d love to go to a tropical island again and without many people around. The warmth is good for my joints and I could really do with some better days right now.

Quarantine Question: What’s your go-to movie or tv show?

To be honest, the pandemic hasn’t impacted my normal lifestyle a lot. I’m chronically in pain so I rarely go out anyway. Most of my social life happens online. So picking a show specifically for this situation feels strange.

Another thing is that I’ve struggled the majority of March with a headache bad enough I couldn’t watch tv. So I didn’t. Right now I feel slightly better and I’m binging Community because it’s new, and Terrace House, also because they added new episodes.

If I had to recommend one, I’d say Gilmore Girls. Lots of episodes and small-town drama but with a lot of humour (sarcasm) too. In the same trend, The Good Witch is another one, but cheesier.

Which Personality Match?

This quiz was going around on Twitter so of course I had to check it out: https://openpsychometrics.org/tests/characters/

It matches your personality to that of fictional characters. The answers I gave are my own but here is the top 70% matches. I wanted to list the top 50 matches, but Dumbledore was 51, so I had to include more.

I’m not familiar with all of the shows included in the list but the ones I do know, I’m glad I’m similar to those, like Luna Lovegood and Georgiana Darcy. I understand why Raj Koothrappali is so high. And even Jane Bennet gets 76%. I love all of these characters and there are definitely moments when I can relate to them.

Does this give you an idea of what my personality is? Any surprises or totally not surprised? What’s your highest match?

Full match list

  1. Willow Rosenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer): 86%
  2. Georgiana Darcy (Pride and Prejudice): 83%
  3. Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter): 81%
  4. Pam Beesly (The Office): 81%
  5. Samwell Tarly (Game of Thrones): 80%
  6. Iroh (Avatar: The Last Airbender): 80%
  7. Raj Koothrappali (The Big Bang Theory): 79%
  8. Donna Moss (The West Wing): 78%
  9. Hugo ‘Hurley’ Reyes (LOST): 78%
  10. Abed Nadir (Community): 78%
  11. The Oracle (The Matrix): 78%
  12. Brandon Stark (Game of Thrones): 77%
  13. Milhouse Van Houten (The Simpsons): 77%
  14. Jared Dunn (Silicon Valley): 77%
  15. Jane Bennet (Pride and Prejudice): 76%
  16. Waylon Smithers (The Simpsons): 76%
  17. Flynn White (Breaking Bad): 76%
  18. Rita Bennett (Dexter): 76%
  19. Molly Hooper (Sherlock): 76%
  20. Phyllis Lapin (The Office): 75%
  21. Kelly Erin Hannon (The Office): 75%
  22. George O’Malley (Grey’s Anatomy): 75%
  23. Leonard Hofstadter (The Big Bang Theory): 75%
  24. Dale Cooper (Twin Peaks): 75%
  25. Nick Carraway (The Great Gatsby): 75%
  26. Katara (Avatar: The Last Airbender): 74%
  27. Ned Flanders (The Simpsons): 74%
  28. Frodo Baggins (Lord of the Rings): 74%
  29. Kaylee Frye (Firefly + Serenity): 74%
  30. Arthur Weasley (Harry Potter): 73%
  31. Aang (Avatar: The Last Airbender): 73%
  32. Lisa Simpson (The Simpsons): 73%
  33. Lady Edith Crawley (Downton Abbey): 73%
  34. Stuart Bloom (The Big Bang Theory): 73%
  35. Inara Serra (Firefly + Serenity): 73%
  36. Roland ‘Prez’ Pryzbylewski (The Wire): 73%
  37. Lucy Moran (Twin Peaks): 73%
  38. Claire Littleton (LOST): 72%
  39. Sun-Hwa Kwon (LOST): 72%
  40. Billy Keikeya (Battlestar Galactica): 72%
  41. Salvatore Romano (Mad Men): 72%
  42. Mrs. Hudson (Sherlock): 72%
  43. Friar Laurence (Romeo and Juliet): 72%
  44. Rom (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine): 71%
  45. Jake Sisko (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine): 71%
  46. Marge Simpson (The Simpsons): 71%
  47. Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham (Downton Abbey): 71%
  48. Charlotte York (Sex and the City): 71%
  49. Lester Freamon (The Wire): 71%
  50. Nelson Bighetti (Silicon Valley): 71%
  51. Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter): 70%
  52. Eric Forman (That 70’s Show): 70%
  53. C-3PO (Star Wars): 70%
  54. Lady Sybil Crawley (Downton Abbey): 70%
  55. Ann Perkins (Park and Recreation): 70%
  56. Hoban Washburne (Firefly + Serenity): 70%
  57. Astrid Leong-Teo (Crazy Rich Asians): 70%
  58. Richard Hendricks (Silicon Valley): 70%

Light In The Dark: The Gratitude Journal

In these seemingly ‘dark times’, we need a little bit of light in our days. And sometimes that’s hard to find. The news is mostly covering one topic and related issues. Other news (especially the good news) is buried under ‘breaking news’, newfound facts, and other anxiety-inducing articles.

I try to stay away from it and even muted words on my social media so I won’t be confronted with it all the time. But sometimes it’s not enough. Sometimes you have to actively seek out the good, news or otherwise.

Keeping a gratitude journal is one way of redirecting your brain from all the doom and gloom to happier thoughts.

The Gratitude Journal

This works best if you keep a dedicated journal or notebook just for this purpose. Write three (or more) things that you’re grateful for that day. It can be anything. A well-brewed cup of coffee, the sunshine through the windows, or your cat curling up on your lap. They can also be big things, like finding out your pregnant, or your sister’s engagement. Maybe seeing the pollution clear up in the absence of the usual traffic.

Those are all things to be grateful for. It’s okay to repeat certain things too, but it’s an exercise to see the beauty in small things too. Flowers blooming, a bee humming along, or your favourite song on the radio.

Keeping all of this together makes it easy to refer back to when you need it. The whole journal is filled with positivity and you’ll eventually feel better when you open it up. You might scan the pages of the days or months before and you’re reminded of the good things in the past instead of the bad things that seem to take over our minds when we least want them.

A Positive Effect

When you’re feeling down you can look back through your journal and see the things that made you happy. See if you can find those moments now. Maybe it’ll make your day a little less dark. Maybe it’ll even put a smile on your face.

Keeping a gratitude journal has an overall positive effect on you and I know therapists are using this to help clients as well. Knowing how to brighten up your day or just feeling grateful for what you have will make a difference in your life. Maybe not short term, and if you’re having trouble with finding three things, that’s okay. Just keep going. Skip a day if you have to. But do try to think about it. It’s just like any other muscle you have.

What about you? Do you keep a gratitude journal? How has it helped you?

The Versatile Blogger Award

What is the Versatile Blogger Award?

A big thank you to Michael Neale (http://www.mnealewriting.com/) for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award. I’m really not used to these kinds of tags, memes, blog awards, so if I’m doing it wrong, I’m sorry.

I don’t remember if Michael mentioned what the award was, but I’d like to think it’s meant for people who blog not just about one topic, but like to cover many (versatile). That’s definitely me. It could also mean bloggers who also use other outlets, like Youtube, streaming, or a perfect Instagram template.

Rules of the Versatile Blogger Award

If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award.

  •  Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  •  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

7 Things About Me

  1. I’m dealing with chronic pain on a daily basis.
  2. I quit my day job to be a writer. No, wait there’s more to that story. This ties together with the first point. Having an office job that had a three-hour commute a day was too much for me and the stress made my symptoms worse. I was close to a burn out even though I didn’t know it at the time. My husband told me to quit before our wedding, which I did. The day after I said goodbye, we picked up our puppy Shiro.
  3. My husband and white shepherd Shiro are my world.
  4. I often love game lore more than the game itself.
  5. ‘Tsundoku’ is so relevant to me. I have a lot of books that I haven’t read yet, but I still want more. It doesn’t help that so many writers release new books at an increasing rate. I find more indie authors that are amazing and release books at an even higher rate.
  6. Fountain pens are a big hobby of mine.
  7. I have two books out and aim to release two more this year.

The Nominees

All of the nominees are participants for #blapril. Consider this a writing prompt to fill in another day. If you don’t want to do it, no worries.

If you’ve been nominated and posted your reaction, don’t forget to leave a link in the comments!

Using A Content Calendar

Chestnut asked me to share some more info about the content calendar I use. I’ve used it for years and actually got the idea when I was doing more marketing related tasks for my old workplace.

The plugin I use is for self-hosted WordPress blogs only. You can still create your own content calendar on paper, in a planner, or a digital app like Trello or Asana. I don’t know if they have native integration with WordPress but another app like IFTTT could possibly help you out.

But for now, I’ll only cover the plugin I’m using.

The Editorial Calendar plugin

This is the plugin I use. It’s straightforward in looks and what it does. I’m sure there are others out there, but this one is good enough for what I need it to do.

The Editorial Calendar shows you an overview of however many weeks you want with all the scheduled posts and the already published posts. You can select the option to have a list of your unscheduled drafts on the right side.

It’s an easy drag-and-drop system for the drafts you already have, and adding a new post is only three clicks away. Customise your view to what works best for you.

And a sneak preview of the posts that I’ve already scheduled

How to use a content calendar?

Ok, so now you have the plugin and you want to use the calendar. Well, how it works isn’t that hard to figure out. When you click on the [new draft] label in a day, you can enter a title, a quick write up, and the time you want the post to go live. You can see the hours written before the title in the screenshots above. This is especially handy if you post at multiple times a day.

I started my Blapril prep with opening the calendar from the post menu in the left sidebar. Hover over ‘Posts’ and you’ll see ‘Calendar’ at the bottom. I wanted to see all the weeks for Blapril so I changed the ‘shown weeks’ to five instead of four in the screen options (found in the top right corner).

Then I just wrote down quick blog ideas. Create a draft, enter a title and a time. Next. That’s how I quickly filled up two weeks worth of ideas. Whenever I get a brainfart for a new blog I can schedule it immediately or create a new draft in the unscheduled section. If you have recurring series, or have evergreen content that you can use to fill up gaps, the unscheduled section is your friend. On my Narratess blog I have drafts for posts that won’t go up until winter time hits again. I can schedule them already, but I’d rather have them within my view, so keep them there until I’m ready to schedule.

The calendar is great for working on content way in advance. It’s easy to what’s coming up or where you need more content. It also helps you to stick to your schedule if you decide on one after Blapril. I don’t use one on this blog, but Narratess only has posts on Friday’s and Tuesday’s.

A conten calendar is and always will be an organisational tool. It works if you work. If you don’t, it’s just sitting there being fancy. Install the plugin, check it out, use it, and see if you can fit it in your routine. If you’re just starting out, it might be worth it to add this part to your blogging routine if you’re in it for the long haul.

Good luck and happy writing!

On Escapism

There was a time in my life when all I wanted to do was play Diablo 2 or Neverwinter Nights. Both worlds seemed so familiar and comforting to me while the real world was hostile. I could anticipate the dangers coming in both games and I was equipped to deal with those who attacked me. But in the real world, none of this was true. Things were thrown at me from all sides–school, work, friends, family. I had no idea how to deal with all of it. That’s why I longed for those worlds. I wanted to escape my own.

Now more than ever, escapism is needed. Our world today feels hostile. A virus is spreading and it has the potential to kill, or leave you permanently scarred. Our governments tell us to stay inside, our hospital staff tells us it’s war.

For a person who’s not in a medical profession, not an essential work, nor has a position to make decisions that would impact our daily lives, all I can do is sit at home and wait. This isn’t much different from what I normally do because of my chronic pain, but there are many who aren’t used to it. Especially my extrovert friends and my outdoorsy friends feel the extra mental stress from staying inside and keeping social interactions (at least face to face) to a minimum.

This is where escapism comes in. We get a brief relief from what’s going on in the world when we enter another. It’s either a game, movie, or book. We can make up a world of our own, or day dream about it while staring at a painting. Art can do that for you. Don’t feel bad to play that game longer, or read more books. If it brings you comfort you should indulge in those pleasures. Because we can all use a little bit more of that these days.

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Guild Wars 2 Fiction

Miira Lightbringer:
Fried Moa Steak
Quiet Before the Storm

Young Miira:
Tail Tugging Part 1
A Promise Made Part 2
Night Falls Part 3
Grawling Preparations Part 4
Badazar Incarnated Part 5
Graduation Part 6 - Final

Savyrius Belain:
We Meet Again...

Naella Ysangwan:
Dogs and Ogres

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Diablo 3 Battle Tag: Endalia#1709
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