It’s the holiday season, which means I’ve been reminiscing about all of the great games I’ve played this year, the books I’ve enjoyed, and the things I’ve accomplished. And sometimes not accomplished — that’s okay too. =)
This year has been one of major changes for me, as I left my job at PlayStation to pursue teaching. Unfortunately, the deadline for credential programs had passed, so I ended up tutoring part-time, taking my teaching exams, and starting to volunteer in classrooms — basically all the prep I need to do in order to apply to a credential program here in California. It’s a lot of work, but I’ve been really lucky to have the time and support to focus on my future instead of a full-time job right now. I can’t wait to have my own classroom someday. Until then, I’ll be writing, tutoring, and learning everything I can.
Another big thing that has helped me so much this year is meditation. I haven’t really shared that before, but it’s something I took up a few months ago, and it has improved my well-being immensely. Earlier this year, I was feeling stressed and dealing with anxiety on a regular basis, to the point where I would think about work or other stressors even when I was on vacation! But through meditation, I feel so much calmer and able to deal with any stress that comes my way. I still get nervous sometimes, but it doesn’t feel like full-on stress anymore. Mindfulness has helped me be more present and enjoy life even when something nerve-wracking is around the corner, and I can acknowledge that every emotion passes. Next I want to start practicing gratitude every day. Based on how much it’s helped me, I’d recommend meditation to anyone dealing with anxiety!
New Project: Reading is Magic!
Speaking of writing, there is one new project I want to share with anybody who hasn’t seen my Tweets about it: I just started a brand new website called Reading is Magic! It’s a place where I’ll be sharing book recommendations, reviews, and eventually teaching resources for YA fantasy and science fiction. As someone who loves sci-fi and fantasy (as you know from this blog), it just made sense for me to combine that passion with my love of reading and my desire to become an English teacher.
The site is still just a little pet project of mine, but I’m excited to get it up and running. It would be an amazing Christmas gift to me if you’d go take a look, subscribe, or share it with someone who might be interested! I’m also hoping to have more people write for it, so let me know if you’d like to write a blog post there sometime. =)
You can check out the blog here: https://readingismagic.club/
I’ve always loved the holiday season, and I’ll be celebrating a cozy Christmas with my close family in central California (where I’m from). It’s always nice to enjoy a change of scenery, although I’ll miss my kitten Gilly so much while I’m away! We have people checking up on her, but that’s the one hard thing about having pets — it makes time away that much harder. I’m excited to celebrate my first New Year’s with Gilly afterwards, at least… =)
In my free time, I’ll continue working on my novel, which I’ve been enjoying writing ever since NaNoWriMo last month!
What I’m Playing Right Now
Lately I’ve been playing The Outer Worlds, which is a huge RPG that does a fantastic job of combining old-school points and perks with a sprawling world and squad-based storytelling. It reminds me of Mass Effect with its ship and crew, and I love getting to know my squad by having conversations with them and helping them with side quests. It’s also a game with a great sense of humor and huge heart. If you’re looking for an old-school RPG, The Outer Worlds might scratch that itch.I also just jumped into Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. And I’m in love. First off, the main character Cal is my newest video game crush with those sexy ponchos and that wind-blown red hair. But I’m also addicted to the immersion in the Star Wars universe. In my latest adventure, I got to meet Saw Gerrera and free a bunch of Wookies from imprisonment. It’s also so much fun sneaking up on Stormtroopers and listening to their hilarious conversations — or just killing all but one, and then listening to that last remaining soldier give himself a pep talk as he freaks out. The sound effects, music, and character dialogue is just so well-done. This might be one of my favorite RPGs ever.
One last thing: I’ve been wearing a dress every day of December to support the Dressember campaign that works to end human trafficking. I didn’t know much about this until someone I follow on Instagram started posting about it, and I learned just how common modern slavery is. It affects more than 40 million people around the world, including in the U.S. where I live. My first thought was the sex trade, which is a big part of the problem, but it also includes people being forced into work or marriages. Most victims are women and one in four are children. It shocked me to hear how common it is, and so I felt I had to do something.
Donations go to organizations that help rescue people from slavery, as well as prevent it and help victims in their rehabilitation afterwards. I’ve donated to the campaign and will continue to support it however I can!
If you’d like to donate you can visit my page here: https://www.dressember2019.org/fundraiser/ashley-hagood
And thank you so, so much to those of you who have already donated! Every little bit helps in tangible ways, and it means so much.
What’s everybody else been up to this winter? I’d love to hear what you’ve been playing and doing these days!
Feature photo credit: Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
3 thoughts on “What’s New: Winter 2019/2020”
Good luck with the new website. I’ll send the link to some of my friends who read YA stuff.
I’ve tried meditation several times without much success, but I’m glad it works for you. Have you tried Playne? It’s an early access game on Steam that teaches meditation. I tried it for a bit before I gave up, and it seemed like a great resource for someone whose brain isn’t too chaotic for meditation to ever be possible. I think they’ve patched in guided meditations now, too — I’ve been meaning to check those out at some point.
I’m still working on my tabletop RPG, Wyrd Street. Planning another round of beta testing for January, hopefully. It’s now more or less “feature complete,” with the sexiest addition being three new classes: Dreamer (idealist who brings fantastical stories to life to make the world a better place), Heretic (stealthy utility-focused necromancer), and Vigilante (paladin variant with a lot of superhero flavour).
For video games, I’m playing Torchlight II at the moment. I want to get caught up on this series before the MMO launches. Not sure what to do after that. I’ve been tempted to pick up Elsweyr for ESO while it’s on sale because yay Khajiit, but I’ve also been tempted to give Star Trek: Online another go, maybe because Picard is coming out soon.
Oh, Star Trek Online and Elsweyr have also been tempting me! I have tried a couple of times to get into ESO. I want to like it, but I think I’m just not used to MMOs.
It’s exciting to hear about your tabletop game. I’m glad it’s going well, those classes sound amazing! How do you do the beta testing? I’m just curious how it all works.
Also, thanks for sharing my website with the YA readers you know! I really appreciate that. :)
Haven’t heard of Playne… that sounds really interesting! In college, I participated in a study with a researcher who hooked me up to electrodes and then had me focus and relax simultaneously while watching this point on a computer screen, and the more focused/relaxed I was, the more the point would move into the “green zone.” It was similar to a game to teach meditation, but obviously wasn’t quite built into a game yet. I wonder the underlying concept is similar!
It’s just a hobby, so the beta testing is pretty informal. Not much different from running any other tabletop one-shot, really. I write an adventure and run some friends through it over the course of any afternoon. First time I had them playing with pre-made characters, but this time I’ll have them make their own.
Playne isn’t much like the exercise you describe. It has meditation tips, but its main hook is gameifying meditation to help with motivation. You’re on a little island that will slowly blossom into life the more you meditate. It’s to help build the habit.