McNay Fire – My First Close Wildfire

Hey there!

Well folks, this isn’t exactly the blog post I was hoping to put up next, but it’ll do.

Yesterday a wildfire started approximately 6 miles from my home. We’re okay. While the fire is still burning, it’s moving away from the housing development and other major structures, and there are approximately 100 fire fighter and support staff working the fire right now. Continue reading “McNay Fire – My First Close Wildfire”

Adventures in Freelancing – And a Poem!

Well hey there!

So, I have to admit I haven’t been as on top of writing for the blog as I’ve hoped. Fortunately, things are starting to settle, so hopefully there will be more content going up here soon!

Although, admittedly, getting caught back up on chores and errands has had to take a bit of priority.

So here it is, I’m working on writing 8-12 hours a day, Monday-Thursday, ghostwriting content for a variety of websites. I enjoy the work, but it doesn’t leave much time for other concerns.

I’m still planning on book reviews, personal updates, and long-form content as well. It’s just coming on a longer schedule than planned. But, never fear, the creative juices are still flowing, and here’s a poem to prove it!

Freelancer

Invisible lurker,

Dredging the Depths of Articles

Quick Research.

 

Don’t trust everything you read

The internet is human – 

Imperfect.

 

I am there. 

In the white margins

On every page,

 

No, you don’t know my name. 

 

Computer glasses protect

From light damage and not

Best Of Lists

10 Things You Didn’t Know

5 Reasons You Should Be Angry,

Needy,

Greedy,

Ashamed…

 

You will never know my name. 

But I haunt your margins just the same. 

 

I am in between the words

Squished amid the lines

My writing and rhythm and rhyme 

 

Vying for your Attention. $

Your Emotion. $$

Your Time. $$$

 

No, you won’t ever know my name. 

 

That’s it for me today.

I’ll keep a light on.

-R

Things They Are A’ Changin’

Hey There!

Wow. This has been an absolutely crazy couple of months.

I have a few blog-related announcements and well as just general catching up to do after being away for almost a full two months.

When I started writing seriously on this blog again this year my goal was to update the blog at least once a week, and preferably twice a week. I was doing really well for a while, and that consistency gave me my best traffic and viewership so far.

Thank you for that, by the way. Seeing that someone else actually reads what I write makes it seem a bit less like I’m shouting into the maw of a vast and uncaring universe.

But then my freelance work picked up and suddenly I was making a little money, and making that money took all my time.

That’s still largely where I am right now. I’m getting faster at writing my paid articles, which is why I have the time to put this out there today, but almost all of my time is still taken by the articles that (sorta kinda) pay the bills.

At the end of the day that means that the character of my blog needs to shift pretty dramatically for me to be able to keep up with it. And I think that you, the people who follow my blog and read it regularly, deserve to be kept informed of those changes.

 

The main thing is that, in an effort to get more content out, I’m going to start talking about personal stuff as much or more than I am putting out my typical social commentary and political analysis. Writing about whats going on, my new kitten, and other lighter subjects just takes less time.

I would rather shift my focus than lower the quality of my work and potentially not be able to adequately back up my views and opinions. I’ve worked hard to source and research the commentary articles I’ve put out so far, and I would hate to see that work sullied by inferior research and investment into follow up articles.

I still want to take on my Just World Hypothesis articles, as well as continuing to address the Democratic presidential candidates and the eventual 2020 Presidential race here in the U.S.A., but I can’t commit to any specific timeline on that kind of content since it does require time for research and analysis that I just simply do not have on a regular basis.

I also need to start making changes in this blog to build it into an income source of it’s own, which will allow me to spend more time on my writing here and less time ghostwriting other internet content to pay my bills.

Toward that end I want to hear from you. I’m planning to look into the Amazon affiliate program and starting to write book reviews as an amazon affiliate.

I am also considering starting a Patreon or Ko-fi profile and putting out novel chapters, short stories, and other works from my fiction writing there.

But for either of those thing to work, I need to know that you are interested in seeing that kind of content from me. Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think of those ideas, or if there is some other type of content that you would be interested in.

Maybe there’s a topic I haven’t addressed and you’re curious about my take on it? Let me know.

If you’re interested in following the updates on what I’m doing you can also follow me on Twitter @RhianninB or on my professional Facebook page. I also will occasionally be posting on Medium, although some of the content there will be the same content I’m writing here.

Thanks for being here, and hopefully this next phase will be as exciting as the last!

I’ll keep a light on.

-R

Struggle Is Normal – It’s Okay To Be Depressed

Well Hey There!

I’m going to be very real for a moment. I deal with PTSD, it causes depression and anxiety in alternating strokes. It’s hard to deal with, it’s hard to do anything around it, it’s hard to motivate with it.

And yet, I’m still here, still writing, still trying to create something worth putting out into the world.

Earlier today, for most of my working day, I have been struggling to write and article that I have, in truth, been working on for most of the week. It’s personal, it’s political, and it requires me to put myself out there in a way that is uncomfortable and frightening.

I also think it deserves to be written and deserves to be shared.

But it isn’t what I’m writing right now. You see, I have also been struggling with a mental health crisis the last several months precipitated by the car crash I wrote about in more detail several months ago.

But one of the biggest struggles has not been writing, I do that all the time, it hasn’t been finances, I saved to make taking a shot at this possible, it hasn’t been interpersonal, my partner is the most loving and supportive human I have ever met, my friendships are stronger now than ever before, my family cares about me and also supports this attempt.

My biggest struggle has been going for this dream, still being depressed and anxious, and feeling like a failure because of it. Life is as close to what I want as it has ever been. The missing pieces are small, the benefits are huge. It often feels like I can’t possibly do this without loving every second of it.

That isn’t true.

Mental health crisis is a part of life. So is hardship, lack of motivation, and difficulty finding inspiration.

I don’t want to hide those things. This work is difficult. It doesn’t yet pay. It takes me doing research, writing well, and being honest with myself and with you.

I am learning, all the time. And I am often overwhelmed.

And yet it is still worth it.

I’m writing this to repeat and to emphasize a bit of wisdom that is often repeated, but, I think, less often listened to. It is okay to be depressed. It is okay to struggle. It is okay to occasionally be unhappy.

Your depression defines neither you nor what you do.

Even when your depression or anxiety becomes difficult to manage, when it makes you second guess everything, it is still not all that you are.

You can do great things while depressed.

You can be a wonderful person while depressed.

You can be fulfilled and make meaning in your life, while depressed.

It’s trite, it’s true, and I often need the reminder myself.

So. I’m posting this instead of the article I have been working on all week. That article is coming, as are future posts about the Just World Hypothesis, updates on my other writing endeavors, Cool Things Other People Do, and much much more. Because my depression and PTSD is not going to stop me from being the person I want to be and doing the things I want to do.

I hope you are well.
I’ll be keeping a light on.

R.

Now Enters the Kitten!

Updates on my personal life, kitten photos, and some thoughts on managing PTSD and big dreams.

Well Hello There!

I have good news! I have a new kitten, who is currently trying to distract me from writing. Pretty successfully too.

baby jasper
Jasper likes to curl up in my arms for a nap.

He’s from a local rescue that was holding adoption events to help find homes for the many kittens they get in spades this time of year.

But he wasn’t really a spur of the moment decision. Sure, we decided pretty quickly to go to the adoption event, and decided pretty quickly at the event on which kitten wanted to come home with us, but I’ve wanted a cat for years now, basically ever since having to leave my previous cat with my parents and her tight-bonded sibling when I left for college. I’m hoping Jasper will grow up to be on the cuddly side, certainly he has been so far, but it’s okay if he doesn’t.

More than just because I really believe that our pets are going to be themselves, and not necessarily what we want them to be, I’m okay with whatever his personality turns into because I got him as another connection.

Let me explain.

Having PTSD, at least for me, means managing a lot of complicated interactions between stress and pretty much everything else. What I want and what I need are often very different things.

For instance, I have to actively manage my stress and how much I work. It’s not a matter of just having a bad day or a bad week, or even month, if I get too stressed it interferes with my ability to think, to work, and to make good decisions for myself and the people around me.

Worst case scenarios are total shut-downs that can take hours or days to resolve, during which time I might need reminders to eat, to bathe, to do something to distract myself. Work, even work I enjoy, isn’t possible during those times.

Except. Taking care of a cat is always possible for me. It doesn’t matter how bad things are, or how upset I am, if there is a cat that needs food, water, or petting, I can do that. I can make that happen for that animal.

Jasper on the couch
Yes, I’m photo dumping my cat. Guest starring The White Dragon by Laura Resnick in the background. (I was cleaning)

Maybe this key to doing something even when I’m under extreme stress comes from having been raised with cats. I don’t remember a time I didn’t have cats. Usually I had a cat that was mine, and a cat that was my mom’s.

Jasper is more even than that to me. Yes, having a cat is important to managing my worst symptoms. Having a cat in the room helps immensely. But we have other cats, other animals in the house I can go to for that unique comfort than comes from our furry companions.

Jasper is a connection, a link, another string in the dream catcher of my social support network. Jasper needs me. He needs me as much or more than I need him. Already we are showing signs of the tight-bonding that occurs between some people and their closest pets.

You may be wondering if pets can be included in your network of social supports like that. I argue that yes, yes they can. The relationship between animal and human may not be the same as the relationship between two people, but it is still a strong bond.

More, animal companions can be there when people cannot. When my partner is at work, Jasper is still home. When I need to vent or reach out and can’t, whatever the reason, I can cuddle or play with Jasper. I can talk to him to order my thoughts, I can watch him to lift my mood, I can trust that he will be here at home when I need emotional support.

In exchange I can’t offer him the things I would offer a friend. But I can give him all the love in my heart. I can make sure he has healthy food and plenty of clean fresh water. I can get him toys and play with him. I can hold him and make sure he is warm and safe, and take him to the vet to make sure he’s healthy.

I can make sure he’s as happy as any house pet can be.

Jaspers ears
The Magnificent Marvelous Ears

We rely on each other. It’s a deep and meaningful two-way connection that brings value to us both.

That’s a huge part of managing PTSD. At least I think so. I don’t have a ton of friends. I don’t need them. I cultivate the few, deep, meaningful connections I need. I set the expectation for myself to be of benefit to the people who benefit me. To offer them the support and care they give me.

I manage it carefully. I can’t always do it, and neither can they. These sorts of bonds take lots of work, knowing when to take a step back, and when your friend needs you there even if they aren’t able to deal with the things bothering them.

It’s knowing when you need a break.

Jasper is quickly becoming my break space. He’s also a major motivation. Because he needs me he needs me to make good choices. He needs me to work toward being my best self.

His presence relaxes me. I can give myself permission to take a minute, to take a breath. Plus, he sometimes demands my total attention, trying to steal taco meat from my salad, curling up on my lap, licking my face, and purring like a motorcycle with all his tiny self.

And yes, being my best self means following my dreams too. My best self is someone with big goals. I don’t always have the confidence to get there, but I can give myself the additional motivation to make that happen.

Jasper, right now, lives for cuddles and toys. We’ll introduce him to catnip and treats and new toys soon, but for now, in our room, he lives for the fun of the space and the love from me.

He needs me. I need him. He keeps me going, and I’ll show him all the joys of cat life.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty great friendship to me. A pretty great support. A pretty great tool in my mental health toolbox.

 

Cool Things Other People Do: Hammer and Thread Leatherwork

Because no nerd recommendation page is complete without a quality pouch and a leather bracer or two.

Hey there!

As usual I want to make a quick post boosting a small business, and, because I know an amazing array of cool people (I’m seriously lucky) I have the opportunity to boost another person I know. Full disclosure, Hammer and Thread Leatherwork is my Uncle’s company, and the stuff they create is awesome.

So, you’ve probably gathered by now that I am a great big ol’ nerd, with a serious love of all things nerd and geek. I don’t quite have my own weekly game night, but that’s mostly because making adult schedules work is just downright difficult.

Hammer and Thread Leatherwork fits right in that theme as a store focused on bringing leather goods like pouches, arm-bracers, and even leather corsets to life. Perfect for cosplay, medieval reenactment, ren-faire costuming, LARPing, or just bringing a little fantasy flavor into every day life, I can’t recommend their goods enough.

Leather waist cincher
Can anyone say “Steampunk”? 

Looking around their website I noticed a customer review from a wildcraft herbalist who uses her leather pouch as an easily accessible storage accessory for her profession-which just goes to show that often this kind of product can be just as useful day to day as it is in costuming. But, they also offer minimalist leather wallets and a longer belt pouch perfect for cell-phones and other modern necessities that can add a little flare to the everyday without seeming like you’re wearing your DnD character’s kit to work.

Long belt pouch
The One Stop Solution to Tiny Pockets!

Lucky for those of you in the Midwest (U.S.), Hammer and Thread Leatherwork also regularly attends renfaires, they’ll be at the Bristol faire starting the weekend of July 6th, merchanting weekends till Labor Day. After Labor Day they’ll be switching faires and attending the Kansas City Renaissance Fair for the next several weekends.
In addition to their individual product offerings, Hammer and Thread Leatherwork also has a “Costume Bundle” which includes a pouch, leather belt, and wrist bracers, resulting in a high-quality kit for almost all medieval reenactment or costuming needs. Those three things, plus almost any dress or tunic, and you’re ready to attend your next event in style.

costume pack
The Very Latest in Ranger Fashion Statements!

Now, as always, because I think it’s important for nerds and geeks to support each other, and because, let’s face it, actual nerds and geeks make better nerd and geek gear than corporations just trying to cash in on nerd culture, I have to vouch for the people behind the products. I know that they have a real love and respect for leather as a material. Their products are made knowing what their customers want because they designed the stuff they would want in their reenactment and fantasy gaming world!

Oh, one last thing. Want to look like you stepped straight out of a fantasy video game or movie?

Spiked Fantasy Bracers
Because Sometimes the Look is as Important as the Function. 

I hope you are well.

All photo credit to Hammer And Thread Leatherwork.

-R.

Minor Updates Coming

Long story short, I don’t show up in Google and I’m trying to change that.

Hey there!

I’m writing this mostly to let my current readers know that you might see some updates to my current articles and content in the coming weeks. The core content will not change, whats there is there, but I will be going through and doing some keyword optimization and slight adjustments accordingly.
Basically I’m doing an SEO (search engine optimization) audit. What I’m saying isn’t going to change, but I’m going to more closely align what I’m talking about with how people search for those terms. For instance, my articles about what I have been calling the Just World Theory will be replaced with the Just World Phenomenon and the Just World Hypothesis, not because I’m changing subjects, but because those search terms perform better in Google.

I’m telling you this for a couple reasons. For one thing, I don’t want to waste your time re-reading articles that are, at the core, exactly the same as they were. Mostly, though, it is in the interest of transparency. I am attempting to capture some search traffic, which means that from now on my articles are going to go through a SEO process in order to learn what makes my content more accessible on the web.

As part of that process, beyond changing the terminology on my articles slightly, I may also look at altering my current website template, my username will probably change in order to make my writing more searchable, and the click-through menus on the website might change.

I will be working hard to make sure that none of my content is lost in the process, and I am committed to ensuring my integrity as a writer, and the content I produce, remains the same. I will continue writing political commentary, personal essays, and boosting the kinds of cool things other people make and do. If I do it right, you probably won’t even notice the minor changes. Once this process is finished and my website is again in a stable version, and I’m not making minor content and title adjustments, I’m going to take this post down. But, right now, I thought it important to tell you that those minor adjustments are being made.

I hope you’re well.

-R.