It’s 2 in the morning so I’m going to ramble for a little bit about this fun little game called Dungeons & Dragons and why it matters so dearly to me. You might have already heard this from me before (especially if you follow me on twitter) but bear with me.

I’ve been playing DnD for a over decade now, though I’ve been familiar with it since I was kid growing up outside Lake Geneva, WI (it’s hard to avoid when that’s where the whole thing originated from). I had cousins who loved it but most of them were older boys who didn’t really care for a whiny girl to join (I can’t really argue against that – I was a pretty whiny brat).

When I was in college, I had a pretty rough time. Depression, anxiety, suicide attempts, rehab, the works – I was a mess. I was 20 years old when I was invited to join my first game (I’m 31 now for those counting). I didn’t care so much for the other players, nor did I really understand the rules, but I definitely understood the element of escapism. It was exactly what I needed at the time in my life. I loved being someone else. Someone stronger. Faster. Taller. Magical. Someone with much higher charisma than the awkward and insecure woman-child I felt like in real life. My relationship with DnD has changed a lot, but that feeling hasn’t. It’s still true.

I’ve grown a lot over the past ten years. My play style has definitely evolved. I try to push myself to be different types of people that I wouldn’t normally be: sexy, shy, ill-mannered, confident, nervous, loud, anything. It’s hard but I love that part of the challenge. (I had never played a barbarian until my husband suggested it to me a few years ago and now I’ve found it’s by far my favorite class – and the one most requested for me to play by friends.)

After playing this game for so long I’ve come to understand the technical aspects of it pretty well, but it’s the emotional elements of the game – the journey of the storytelling – that keep me at the table. The emotions from me, my characters, my friends – it brings us closer together. More real. The people I play DnD with have become the people I trust the most in my life. There’s something about RPGs that enable people to leave their walls behind and open up to each other. I find myself to be the most real version of me when I’m playing my fictional character.

January will mark 2 years since I became sick and have had to watch my own body begin to deteriorate around me. I lost my job, I lost some friends, I’ve lost most of my ability to walk. My day to day life has drastically changed from what it used to be. It has been the most trying time of my life. But every week I play this silly game with those I love and it keeps me going. I get to be someone who can run and jump and save people and hunt and protect and I get to be myself – silly and hopeful and relaxed – with my traveling companions in a made-up world all our own. This game has helped motivate me. Has kept me from giving up on my worst days.

I never expected 10 years ago to be so indebted to a tabletop game. But Dungeons & Dragons has saved my life on more than one account and I will forever be grateful. I play in 2-3 campaigns a week now and between doctor appointments and hospital visits, it’s what keeps me sane. Escapism isn’t always the healthiest coping mechanism but let me tell you, my therapist very much approves of it because it gets me to socialize, have fun, and reminds me of my own inner strength. She’s so into it that she’s even started doing her own research about the game and how it helps in psychology, especially with kids. One of the first things she always asks me in our sessions is “So how did DnD go this week?” She knows that’s the best way to get me to start talking. It’s a whole other world to her but she recognizes the mental care it gives me and encourages it.

Sometimes, like now, I just get really really emotional over DnD especially seeing how incredibly popular it’s gotten in the last few years. It’s wonderful. I’m thankful Jake got me back into Critical Role too because I’ve met so many new friends through it. This community has grown so much in the past decade it’s overwhelming but in a good sense. Almost all of my friends have at least heard of or seen a DnD campaign in progress or tried their hand at an RPG game, and it blows me away how inclusive and welcoming the world has become since I first began my DnD journey.

All of this is really just to say, thank you to all my friends and to the good folks at Wizards of the Coast for working so hard to make this little tabletop game the best thing in my life. I wouldn’t be the same person without it. Hell, I might not even be here at all. So thank you.

Samhain Blessings! The Wheel Keeps Turning.

Today I turn my thoughts to those who came before me and made the footsteps I follow in. I am grateful to my ancestors for the work they did to provide me with lessons that guide my moral compass on the path I now walk. Today the veil is thin between our worlds and I feel them closer than ever.

As the Sun God and Mother Earth fall asleep and the Dark Ones bring forth the longer nights, I am thankful for the things in my life that keep me moving forward, especially my friends. A new year approaches with new excitement, new obstacles, and new opportunities. Everything changes and this time of the year is a good reminder that nothing stays the same forever.

“To my ancestors
Who mark the path before me,
My breath is your breath.
My bones are your bones.
We are all relations.
I drink water for you.
I take in food for you.

Together we share the fire within.
Together we stand in the light.
The bright stars are what we are from
And the Dark of night is where we return.

Tonight I honor my ancestors
And celebrate the gift of remembrance.
Your blood runs in my veins,
Your spirit is in my heart,
Your memories are in my soul.
May your blessing be upon me.”

My soul speaks with the ones who have passed but my heart beats for the living who surround me. I spent last night with good friends to reflect with, good food to feast on, and the magic of bright fires in all of us. We had a Samhain fire before it rained and gave offerings to the flames, ate marshmallows, and feasted on good cold-weather food while playing a special Halloween DnD one-shot game (I was a werewolf barbarian who had a thing for black cats).

Blessed Samhain, my friends, and have a safe and happy Halloween! 🎃

Blessed Mabon! Some Reflections & Gratitude.

Happy Mabon!

The circle is open but never broken.
Merry meet, merry meet, and merry meet again. 🍄

Happy Mabon my friends and blessed be. Today (last night) marks the beginning of my favorite time of the year: Fall! It is the Autumn Equinox and as the Crone begins her transformation, I can’t help but feel this is my own transformation, for better or worse. Today the wheel turns towards a longer night and shorter day, giving our minds more time to reflect on balance, healing, and letting go of the things behind us.

Today is a very personal day of celebration and contemplation. I sat at my alter and meditated for awhile on what it all means to me. This time last year I was just now discovering how sick I was getting and realizing that this drastic change to my life was only beginning. September marks 1 year of unemployment, 9 months of being dependent on my wheelchair, and what feels like a lifetime of questions that my doctors are still struggling to find answers for. It’s been a frustrating year of disappointments and scary uncertainties. But through it all, I have found light and stability in my friends and family. Today I turn my mind to celebrating the people who have been there through my heartaches and body aches, who have kept me company while dizzy from medications, who have held me in their arms while I cry at the unfair changes my body has made. From cuddly Xena marathons, braiding my hair, sending me cheer up songs, playing board games or DnD, and a thousand other things, my friends have wrapped me up in their love and have made sure I never feel alone. Today I celebrate them and reflect in the gratitude I feel for the balance they bring my life. I love you all so much. Thank you for your kindness and unwavering support and understanding.

Mabon AlterMabon Alter

My alter is ready for Autumn and so am I. I continue to take my life one day at a time and I put my faith in my friends and my Gods and myself. Today I will work to find balance and acceptance as this old Crone moves forward with renewed vigor.

Blessed be. 🍎🍂✨

PAX South Tickets are on Sale!

PAX South tickets are on sale and I realized I haven’t written about my last experience. So here’s my belated thoughts on my second annual January San Antonio vacation.

I was at PAX South for the first time in 2016. This last January, Jake and I returned. PAX South 2017 was everything I needed it to be and I’m so thankful I didn’t chicken out and not go. I was so nervous because not only was it my first vacation/outing out of the city in a year (I’ve been dealing with a lot of medical issues), it was my first outing in a wheelchair. Like I had mentioned in an earlier post, I can’t walk well anymore and I use a wheelchair to get around. I was nervous because I had no idea how accessible everything at the conference center would be, I didn’t know I’d handle the inability to be in control of my own motion (I don’t have a lot of strength in my arms either so Jake pushed me everywhere), and I was worried about how friends that I hadn’t seen in awhile would react to seeing me immobile.

Thankfully my worries were for nothing; the actual trip was above and beyond my highest expectations. The two main reasons for that were: the incredible PAX enforcers who helped me get my medical badge and made sure EVERYTHING was accessible to me; and my beautiful amazing welcoming wonderful friends who greeted me with open flying tackle hugs. It was a long and exhausting weekend and I paid for it in the following week (I slept a lot), but it was worth it. So worth it. Which is why we are going back for Pax South 2018!! To get myself even more excited about 2018, check out my PAX 2017 photos (and friends) from earlier this year:

My handsome husband & I

PAX SOUTH!

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Crossing Off a Bucket List Item: Iceland 2018!

On March 1, 2018 for one week, I will finally get to visit the birthplace of my husband. That’s right. Jake and I are finally going on a honeymoon and we’re going to the place he first called home: Iceland. It’ll be the first time I’ve ever left the country and one of my biggest bucket list items. (He’s happy because it’s been a few years since he was last there and he really wants me to try the hot dogs — I’m really happy because I want to see my Northern Lights and March will be the last good month for them.)

We’ve been doing a ton of research to make sure everything from the hotel, to the public bus service, to the tours and the flights are wheelchair accessible (I may have failed to mention it, but I’ve been in a wheelchair since January of this year). Everyone I’ve talked to, including accessibility travel experts and the tour agents, have been so incredibly helpful and have reassured me that none of this will be out of my capabilities. We are staying downtown, the flight there isn’t too long, and we’ll have a comfy hotel for me to take many naps in. I am so excited that we’re making this happen and it’s giving me something to look forward to outside all of my medical issues. And Jake is excited he finally gets to share his favorite place with me.

In honor of this little excursion, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite photos of Iceland that my best friend Lee Jaszlics took on their recent trip there. Lee is an incredible photographer and I’ll be sharing more of their work in an upcoming post (think of this as a preview).

If you like any of these photos, prints can be purchased on Lee’s SmugMug Iceland gallery and you can see more of gorgeous Iceland on their Flickr page. Make sure you also follow Lee on Twitter!

2018 is going to be a good year. 💙❄️