GISHWHES: Don’t panic.


So, I’m seeing a lot of concern about GISHWHES on Twitter today. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go here or read my post about last year’s hunt.)

Here’s my advice:

1) Don’t panic. What’s the worst that can happen? Perhaps you go into fight-or-flight mode, or freeze, overwhelmed by the tasks. You don’t talk to your team. You don’t leave the house. You don’t create anything. It’s sad, but not the end of the world. Your team will continue to do their thing, and you will go on with your life. No one loses anything.

On the other hand, if you make even one beautiful item or complete one act of kindness, you will have been a successful Gisher. Be brave.

2) Gishwhes isn’t about winning. I know, I know. I want to go on vacation with Misha, too. (Who doesn’t?!) And honestly, I had to learn this lesson the hard way. I really thought our team had a chance last year. We did so many cool things. We got so many things on the list, and they were mostly beautiful things and actions. Did we win? No. We were not even runners up.

And you know what? It was fine. Seriously. I had such a great week, with so many fun and revitalizing experiences, on top of the joy of collaboration with people around the world. Totally worth 18 bucks.

3) Be true to yourself. There is a lot of talk about not sleeping during Gishwhes. That isn’t me. I am almost 40 and have a chronic illness. And a Monday- Thursday job. (And a dog and two cats, if anyone’s counting.) I need my sleep, and I am going to sleep. For me, Gishwhes is about enjoying life, not making it harder. I will go to work. I will sleep. I will walk my dog. AND I’ll do the hunt.

Finally, here’s a little self-help tip (or lifehack, for you hipsters): set your intention. And no, it can’t be “to win GISHWHES” – that is an external reward. Your intention must be something for your inner well-being. Are you trying to be more creative in your life? To have more fun? To overcome social anxiety? Set your intention: that is your reward.

Now, write it out in bright marker. Or type it in large font. Paste it up all over your home/bedroom/car so you remember why you are really doing this.

And enjoy the hunt. :)


Make a contribution to a depression scrapbook project

Make a contribution to a depression scrapbook project


This is such a lovely idea. Spread the word!

Originally posted on :

Sound familiar?

So how many of you are currently sat in bed or inside isolating yourself? Suffering inthiss the black hole that is depression. Not wanting to spread your current mood to people around you because it’s not their responsibility to take care of you or you feel like they wouldn’t care anyway. Or even understand. It would be unfair to be in this mood around ‘happy’ people because you’ll just bring them down, and in turn they’ll slowly reject you. So you have two choices. Sit in alone, or go out and put on your positive mask and pretend to be someone you’re not in order to feel normal, accepted or you physically need too because you can’t stand to be inside another day. So let’s say you choose the latter, you need to get up, shower, sort your hair, pick an outfit, get a bus, see strangers, perhaps…

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Coping with pain and isolation


Chronic Pain

I’m starting to understand why people say chronic pain is isolating. I see so many people supported by strong communities and families through their hardships, so I figured it was only isolating for people (like me) who don’t have strong support systems in place. But I don’t think that’s really the case now. I think, even those people who are supported by the most loving people possible, ultimately feel completely alone in what they’re going through.

Living with chronic pain sucks. Mine – Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) – is invisible, for the most part. My rheumatoid symptoms are: depression,  getting sick often, hand pain (this was probably the most obvious symptom I ignored the longest – don’t ignore it!!!), leg pain, mid-back pain and neck pain. I started to have a strange pulling and tingling sensation last week in the front of my shin, which was baffling until I remembered my pain will show up in weird ways. Other symptoms include deep fatigue, and when it’s really bad, flu-like symptoms: generalized pain, can’t-get-up fatigue, low-grade fever.

I don’t limp or shuffle (except early in the morning). So this is a good thing and a bad thing: good, because I don’t get a lot of pity and can focus on my work; bad, because no one knows how much I’m hurting and it makes me feel pretty alone sometimes. When I’m feeling completely awful and like I need to go home, I push through, because I get strange looks when I say I’m hurting, or feeling tired.

I work in fitness, so people make assumptions. Or I perceive they do.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like my job hurts me. I can look back and see that it hurt me pretty badly when I was full time, how it conspired with RA to make me feel terrible most of the time. But even part-time, I can tell some aspects of my job hurt me more than others. I really enjoy Spinning, but those are the days I go home from work and feel like I’m coming down with the flu.

But it’s manageable, I guess. I’m not thriving, but I’m doing a lot better than I was six months ago. Everything seemed so hopeless then. Now I have a plan to manage everything, and that includes lots of sleep and rest. And it’s mostly working.

Well-meaning or something like it

I do get seriously annoyed by the things people suggest, sometimes. They tell me, either directly or indirectly, that I should lose weight, cut out sugar, cut out gluten, meditate, do yoga and exercise. I have a hard time not getting defensive about this. Hello, I’m a fitness professional. I’ve been meditating since I was sixteen, have been teaching yoga for years. I may not have mastered Clean Living, but I’m at least well-versed in its benefits and I do the best I can.

I also get really annoyed at all the sites on the Internet that promise an arthritis diet or say there is special arthritis food. There is no such evidence of this, none!

Just don’t give advice to people about a disease you know nothing about, okay? I’m going to follow this advice from now on, too. I think about how many overweight people must deal with this every single day and it makes me feel so sad. Everyone has an opinion, but even professionals have a hard time focusing on the facts sometimes.


Starting every day is a struggle. I am tired and achy and nothing feels like it matters. I remind myself that I can’t be complacent about depression, even though that, too, has been manageable of late. So I buck up and go through my routine: Morning Pages and coffee, exercise, shower, meds.

By then things are beginning to look up.

I know people who have RA who feel bad all day and through the night. I guess that might be me down the line, but I just can’t think about it right now. I am told that starting medications in this early phase can prevent the worst long-term damage, and I hope that’s true.

In some ways, this makes me feel worse. Like I’m stuck in my life and I can’t really plan to do anything because I don’t know what I’ll feel like tomorrow or what my future will be like. I can’t plan to travel, to go backpacking, or to be a foster parent. (I know people do all of these things with RA, so there must be a way, but the unpredictability of being able to function at all leaves me confused. I can’t imagine trying to do these high-level things.)

I feel stuck in my job, because I can’t afford the rheumatologist on my own, not to mention all the lab work and prescriptions. Not that I was planning to quit. I just hate the feeling that I couldn’t if I wanted to.


So I feel pretty alone. I don’t feel like anyone understands what I’m going through. I haven’t been a very good friend because I’ve been so focused on trying to get through each day, and my recent attempts to reach out have largely been ignored. I guess I’m not a lot of fun to be around, though I try not to complain. (Which, yes, makes me feel even more isolated.)

Loneliness and depression are not a great combination.

I’ve been thinking about getting a dog to deal with loneliness. I have to admit that it’s not a great idea, and I can’t really afford it, but it might overcome loneliness more than my cats do.

Or maybe I should just try to appreciate my cats more.

Using Pain


Julia Cameron just posted this on Twitter:

Pain does use our energy, but we can consciously channel it toward positive action if we are willing to look at our options with fresh eyes.

It spoke to me like a message from the universe. My first thought was related to Rheumatoid Arthritis, for which I am currently being treated. I haven’t talked about it a lot here, but it’s been a big part of my life the last few months. (And I was suffering from it for a long time before that, but didn’t know what it was; the depression I have discussed was likely tied in to the chronic pain as much as anything else.) It’s been a relief to have answers, and the medicine I’m taking will likely prevent long-term joint damage.

Quick public service announcement: RA manifests in ways you might not expect. I had physical pain that I attributed to overtraining (and it wasn’t), but there are a lot of other symptoms I wasn’t aware tied into RA: fatigue, depression, getting sick a lot, flu-like symptoms. I thought I was going crazy, and I probably would have had a nervous breakdown if I hadn’t gotten a physical and learned more.

I’ve been feeling much better the last few weeks, due (I think) to a combination of medication and lifestyle change. I don’t get wiped out from everyday activity anymore, though I do still feel crushed if I overdo it. (Which is pretty much every time I teach Spinning.)

I’ve had to completely restructure my life. I was already pretty big on self-care, but now it’s the priority. Work is not my priority, though it’s going very well now that I’m part time, and don’t feel like I have to drag myself in at 7 a.m., feeling wretched and hating the world.

Anyway, the quote above, about channeling pain toward positive action, hit me in a way it wouldn’t have before. I have certainly used painful emotions as creative fuel in the past, but I’ve never considered how physical pain can make you look at your options “with open eyes.” That’s exactly what I’ve been doing the last week.

I know a 9 to 5 job isn’t possible for me now, maybe ever. With that in mind, I got a copy of the Writer’s Market 2015 from the library and started looking at my options. There are several great options for entry-level freelance in fitness magazines, for example, that I wouldn’t have considered before. I have stopped thinking of how low my chances are for making a living as a writer, and have instead focused on “filling the form” to work toward that future. I have started to see this disease as a gift – oh, I know, cliché city, right? – because it has ruled out what used to be my safety net.

I am finally feeling brave and strong enough to listen to that little girl inside who wrote stories for fun. So, I’ll write today’s pages, and do today’s research. And that is enough.

Why I Love ConTV


I have been using the ConTV app (and for a few weeks, and it’s pretty great.

When I go to cons, I do tend to prioritize the how-to panels. The actor Q@As/panels are great fun, of course, but I feel like I’m really with my people when I’m mulling over the ins and outs of story creation, and considering all the different forms a creative career can take. At last year’s Wizard World Comic Con in Richmond, I attended some great panels on storytelling, the 3-Act structure, and worldbuilding. I walked away with pages full of inspired notes and my creative zest re-ignited.

It’s been equally invigorating, while waiting for the next Wizard World Richmond (This just in! Billie Piper in Richmond! Do you think she’ll have a latte with me?), to watch on ConTV. The audio and visual is great quality, and it is great fun to watch by the pool, or on the treadmill.

Three recommendations:

1) How to be a Professional Geek
2) Calling all Aspiring Writers
3) Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction

All gave me lots of ideas and inspiration, and also gave me some motivation to examine fields I’d never seriously considered. Why couldn’t I write graphic novels? Why not look into writing for video games? I don’t really expect either to pan out, but it’s still fascinating to consider. (Next up on my watchlist: A Career in Video Games part 1.)

There are so many options, from fan panels to a whole section on “kick-ass girls,” that there really is something for everyone.

This all sounds very ra-ra, doesn’t it? I’m really not getting paid for this. I am simply sharing my enthusiasm.

Ooh, speaking of enthusiasm! You must check out Last Fan Standing. It’s a geek game show hosted by Bruce Campbell.

I really want to play.

Okay, time to post.


Isn’t that an inspiring title? I know.

But one can only procrastinate on blogging for so long.

So, hi! Okay, random updates/thoughts:

1) Depression has been tackled head-on. I finally gave in and asked for antidepressants, and wow – I wish I’d done that sooner. Life is feeling pretty darn good again!

2) Writing has been sporadic. I have episode 4 of Once a Fairy just about done – and it’s been so for at least a month. I’m being a total perfectionist about it, which the whole serial-fiction thing was supposed to help me get over. Oh, well. It is shaping up as a novel, so I think I just need to accept that, and stop it as a serial. On the upside, that means I’m about halfway through writing a novel! Sweet as, yo.

3) I finished my intermediate photography course at Visual Arts Center, and really miss it. I did enter a photography contest for next weekend, though, at Dominion RiverRock, so I’m looking forward to putting my camera to use!

4) While everyone else is planning their summer vacations, I’m planning my convention-hopping! I’m going to World Fantasy Convention in the fall. (Actually, I’m not, because the memberships have sold out. But I’m going to the hotel across the street and hanging out with my friends.) And Wizard World Comic-Con is coming to me in August. I’m hoping to volunteer this year!

Okay, that is a post.

I would say something like, real post coming soon, but that would be a lot of pressure.