In Retrospect

Hi everyone,

It’s been an incredibly long time, hasn’t it? Roughly two years, I’d say, since I last wrote anything on here.

I apologize for the absence, there’s a good reason for it, though. See, Living Like Audrey became too limiting for me. I realized that rather than wanting to emulate someone else and their lifestyle, I’d much rather enjoy the process of figuring out my own. If I am going to document anything, it should definitely be that. So Living Like Audrey has been altered.

Welcome to Entering Retrograde!

For those who don’t quite know, my name is Nina and I’m super excited that you’ve made it here. As a way to express myself and give myself something positive to look forward to, I’d created my previous blog Living Like Audrey.

It was a blog dedicated to the lifestyles of women who had grace, ferocity, love, kindness, and the confidence to show the world who they were. However, as time went on, I wanted to touch on broader topics that really focused on what I cared about most. Everything from gaming, nerd culture, art, society, and the way we view ourselves to the original intention of Living Like Audrey.

Then there was that gnarly two year gap where I didn’t post anything. Realistically, it’s just because I didn’t have much to say at the time. I took a step back for a while and recent events in politics, society, and simply observing the people around me have led me to think I can turn back to this blog and write more freely. Let’s call it an experiment, shall we?

The blog title is Entering Retrograde because I’m a deep believer that you can’t know where you’re going, can’t avoid repeating the same mistakes, unless you know where you’ve been and can honestly confront that.

  I hope you will be able to learn through some of my painful lessons so you won’t have to endure them. I also hope that you’ll be able to laugh, smile, and feel that fuzzy warmth when something goes well. If anything, at the very least there should be some very interesting life tips and creative projects for you to take on.

Though I adore Audrey Hepburn, Claudette Colbert, Greta Garbo, and many other elegant women, Living Like Audrey was bound to be so much more. But these women never shied away from adversity and neither will I. So what will you find here? Hopefully not a woman wanting to live like Audrey anymore, but a woman excited to live simply as herself. So, Living Like Audrey is no more, at least here. Instead you get a full blast of Nina, as I am.

  I’d like to think that the evolution has come along because I’ve reconciled who I was in Florida, Massachusetts, and the person I’ve become since moving to Canada. Ironically, it feels more like home than any of the places I’ve lived before. For once, I feel “right” in my own skin. The anxiety is still there, but manageable. The depression… I’m aware that it’s genetic and it can rear it’s ugly head any time, but oddly enough, since I’ve become more open and capable of sharing my experiences, they don’t haunt me and feed that monster anymore. It’s become more like a shadow puppet that tries to intimidate me but as soon as I turn on the light, it’s gone. Most importantly, I’ve grown into someone able to let go more. I don’t carry the stuff that happened as a burden. Instead, I talk about it, hopefully help some people along the way, and try to bring more happiness into my life by just going for it. Going for life and living the hell out of it. Sometimes that means going for a 4 hour walk to photograph, sometimes it’s creating amazing characters and putting them to paper, and other times it’s embracing a comforting nap.

Beyond that I share insights and lessons I’ve learned, facing adversity head on, how to overcome or embrace it, and how to just be. Interested in getting in on all of that? Great! Let’s get started!

And of course, if there’s ever anything you want to hear about- let me know!  You can contact me at


I’m a nerd and I like it that way.

In the 6th grade, I had a really hard time, which led to my doing very badly in all of my school courses. When I say badly, I do mean badly. I got D’s and F’s. I even got D’s and F’s in classes that I had never before gotten less than an A in. I was lucky though. My parents never used any of my childhood traumas as an excuse to allow me to expect less of myself. So my punishment was severe. I was grounded. I wasn’t a big tv watcher in the first place, so they took away that minor privilege and my video games. I didn’t go out much to hang out with friends (it’s kind of hard to even have friends when you’re always panicky about who you can trust as a kid) so books were my friends. A lot of people would disagree with what they chose but to be honest it was the best decision for me. They took away all of the books that were considered “entertainment” like the Baby-Sitters Club books and Sweet Valley High. I was left with tons of world dictionaries and a bunch of encyclopedias and only intellectual material for my “entertainment”. I think they wanted to give me at least something to cling to because being grounded without anything to improve myself with for two years (yep, they grounded me for two years) would have been drastic. Instead they gave me a choice. Knowing that I was a smart kid, they didn’t want to take away from that growth so they said “Improve your grades and you get all the fun books back. If you want to be able to take care of yourself in the future, learn everything you can now. Take this time to become everything you want to be. You can be mad about this or you can use it to your own benefit.”

I was mad for about a day. I was all “But my birth father is evil! He hates me! He never told me I had a brother! I found out from a cousin!” and “But I was abused! I’m confused and frustrated.”. But the fact is, that letting myself recoil into a self-pitying monster has never been my way, so I cracked open a random letter of the encyclopedia and started to read.

I didn’t really think that that would be what became my comfort zone. History is in many ways a science. Actually, it IS built up of sciences. Archaeology, Anthropology, Paleontology, etc.  The more I read about the mechanics of History and how the world works, the more resolved I became. I didn’t have a definite goal at the end of those two years but I did know three things. One, I did not want to rely on others to tell me what is right and wrong, what to think and do. Two, the first person I ever respected was my aunt Enie, who is a teacher and an amazing one at that, and I wanted to inspire people like she had always inspired me. I mean this woman travels the world over, teaches kids who are often times going through a form of hell none of us could ever understand, and she still has the energy and dedication to care for her family in ways that other people with less trying careers claim they’re too tired to do. Three, I wanted to learn everything I could about the world.

Now as an adult, I realize that, as noble as that is, sometimes I really don’t want to learn more about the world, what with all the killing and everything. Then I remember that if I hadn’t explored other cultures in any way, I wouldn’t know about anime, sushi, Buddhism, the British Victorian era, Steampunk, comic books, etc. In essence, all of the nerding out I do is related to that one experience.

I also know, after many years of struggling in Mathematics, that I have Dyscalculia. Part of me sometimes resents that the education system let that slip through the cracks and that I entered every college math class with dread. Exam times were excruciating because of my anxiety but having a learning disability put more emphasis on the struggle. For that reason alone, I almost feel inclined to be as open as I am about my disability, even in situations where I could actually get a job. But what’s a job if in 3 months they figure out I’m not capable of doing it because I was dishonest about the disability? I’ve had to let great opportunities slip through my fingers because the requirements they needed met were out of my control. I could do everything except large scale accounting. However, having my parents support that curiosity I had as a kid was paramount to my being able to function at all today. For someone who is passionate about contributing back to society, if I hadn’t of had that discipline and that nurturing, I could have easily lost to my troubles in learning Math.

So as someone who was once a kid, I can say this much: Parents, do your best to encourage your kids but don’t allow that encouragement to restrict how you discipline them. It doesn’t all have to be “Don’t wound his/her self-esteem.” or beatings. There IS a middle ground. Strip away all of the unnecessary and allow them to grow within the boundaries you set. If they fail a few classes, don’t convince yourself that grounding them will only make them hate the classes even more and make you into an enemy. That’s now how this works. Ground them, and within that grounding give them the tools to improve.

I can definitely say that I am grateful to my parents for having done it. I think your kids will also thank you (many years later. Sorry, instant gratification goes out the window when you have kids.). Either way at least you can be confident you’re heading in the right direction, right? I mean, I’m still kicking. That’s gotta be saying something.

Nature, Parenting, and raising kids in a “different” lifestyle.

When someone asks me “Why would anyone want a child to live with gay parents? Is that the right thing for them to learn what family is about from?”, I don’t hesitate to say “I’d rather they live with a gay couple who love them wholeheartedly and teach them how to be good human beings than have them raised by a straight couple who beats them or left in a foster system that provides them with no stability for their adult lives.” But after answering that last night, I had a bizarre dream that led me to think that it’s more than that. I never want a child to live in a family where they are so incredibly afraid and ashamed of their natural genetic disposition, that they kill themselves, torture themselves, or harm themselves and others with them just because a -parent- can’t deem them worthy of living.

What is a parent? Really, let us delve into that core issue first. A parent. In the scientific sense, it’s a breeder, sure, but even science (particularly zoology) has also taught us that a parent is a nurturer who cares for its young without the prerequisite of having the exact same genetics. We’ve seen lions nurture gazelles, hippos raise pigs, pigs raise kittens, and so on. So, to base nature on the concept that being gay is not natural, and that a gay person does not deserve to exist among straight “normal” or “natural” people, is like saying “That lion is wrong for nurturing that gazelle.”. But what’s wrong with that statement? Here’s what is wrong with it. With that very statement, a human being has just asserted that the natural course to take is for that lion to eat that gazelle, and as that lion should eat that gazelle and eliminate it, it is therefore our responsibility as “straight humans” to eliminate gay humans. Pardon me, if I find that a tad animalistic, abhorrent, and ultimately inhumane in every sense. Human is to be humane, one would hope. So to eliminate other people because they just don’t fit with our “pack” is the exact opposite of being human. If it is the exact opposite of being human, then that would make us nothing more than animals inside. If it is to be believed that human beings are more advanced and skilled; intellectually and morally; than animals, then that would mean an animalist would not be natural. If a human being with an animalist disposition isn’t natural, we would be seen as having to eliminate it. And so it goes in this constant circle of who is more natural than who else, and ultimately we all end up dead because something, someone, who should have been a parent, a nurturer, chose to be an ‘unnatural’ animalist.

Oh but wait, you say it isn’t a choice, to view gay people as unnatural and reject your own child? It’s the will of God? Interesting. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not judge. So many different commandments that point out it isn’t our place to do those things. Most importantly, if you are an animalist, you aren’t capable of making the conscious decision to believe in anything beyond what you can see right in front of you, because it wouldn’t be natural.

Are we sensing a theme here? I am. Stop using ‘NATURE’ as an excuse to alienate, reject, harm, or in any other way traumatize any other human being of any sort. Do not use nature as an excuse to keep a child from having a family. Do not use nature as an excuse to propagate your own fears and attach them to others. Do not use nature as the basis for any of your unnatural hatred.

No one is saying anything about changing your way of life so that it fits in accordance with someone of a different disposition. What IS being said is that if you’re uncomfortable, get up and leave. You should not expect other people who are perfectly okay in said circumstances to change everything around them to appease just you. No matter what you THINK nature is. Because let’s be honest, you aren’t nature. You don’t speak for the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, and if you believe in God, I hate to break this to you, but you don’t speak for him either. Don’t bring a book written by other human beings into it. Use your brain, your humanity, and your empathy to figure out where you really stand. You’re human. You’re in a human situation. Deal with it.


Nerding out when I’m sick is the best comfort I can have.

I am not a very graceful sick person. I mean, I don’t throw temper tantrums or anything like that, but I do get all frumpy and kind of bask in having to stay in bed or at least out of the prying eyes of neighbors and townfolk.  I get bored easily though. I’m used to keeping myself occupied while I’m sick, so to not have the freedom to do whatever I want to do when I am, is frustrating to say the least. I have found my sick-niche though.

I love watching animes and K-dramas when I’m feeling all sorts of icky and gross. As long as I’ve got some meds in me, a pot of tea, and animu, I’m generally a happy camper. I watched all of the Sailor Moon series when I was sick once. All of it back to back, and then went to school and work. Because in my more youthful days, I could do that without feeling the repercussions of it. Now, though, it’s not as hectic and so I take the time to rest up.

I do have a few things I like to do to keep myself from going batshit crazy when I’m sick.


1. Watch anime: Nana, Paradise Kiss, basically anything Ai Yazawa has created will put me in a happy mood when I’m feeling my worst. I do watch others, like Noein, and a lot of indepth animes about human nature, etc. I like things that have conflict/resolutions and ample storylines to keep me wanting to know more.


2. A huge pot of David’s Tea ‘Organic Cold 911‘ tea, which has a bunch of really great smelling and great tasting herbs that help soothe me during a bad cold.


3. Play non-combat video games. Okay, to some, this may not make sense, but I prefer video games where I go at my own pace, when I’m sick. I like MMO’s just fine, but I encounter a problem where I don’t have the energy to predict what someone elses move, screw ups, or gripe is going to be. Also, when I’m sick, I have very little patience for gamer drama, and end up logging off and possibly not coming back for weeks or months. To avoid all that, I prefer to play games like Recettear or Tropico when I feel sick. Sometimes, I throw in some Sims 3 because I might need to do something a little different. But ultimately, my being sick = me time.



There are a few more things, but they’re pretty obvious. In case they aren’t, here it goes: Never underestimate the power of a nice hot bath or shower. It can be revitalizing.  Warm soup with lots of nutrients can give you enough energy to face the day if you don’t have the option to miss out on work or something important. Hydrate. Hydrate a lot. Drink so much water that you feel like a fish. Just don’t drink like 15 glasses in under an hour. It’s called being healthy, not neurotic.

  And with that, I must conclude my post because my tea is getting cold and I think I hear Tropico calling my name.


Down the rabbit hole we go!

There are some amazing games out there right now and some really interesting ones that will be popping out of their creative nests soon. I’m particularly eager to try a new one called Contrast since it features so many things I love.

First off, the animation is a key factor in my decision to play any game. I pick games based on their ability to transport me to another place and time. If something is pitched as steampunk, for example, but just looks like a cheesy replica of WoW but without any of the same perks, I tend to walk away pretty quickly. This game has none of that ripped-off quality that some game designers trying to make it big try to “subtley” put into their games as an effort to appeal to a specific group. Instead, it rears it’s very unique head and says “What’s up? I’m gorgeous. Come play with me.” and for once, I’ll be taking someone up on their offer to do just that.

Secondly the gaming style is important. I actually haven’t watched any gameplay and have chosen to wait to play it myself. Sometimes when I watch other people play a game, even a demo, I lose enthusiasm for it. Probably because everyone has a different playing style and makes different choices while playing a game. So since this game is so appealing to me, I’m not going to have someone elses gaming style turn me off of playing it.

Finally, music does factor in. If the game is set in a certain period, and the music chosen doesn’t suit that period (it doesn’t have to be OF that period. I mean look at The Great Gatsby film. Awesome music designed to travel through time and still suit the films needs.), then the game becomes a bit tedious for me. It’s probably due to my OCD but I do like things to suit eachother.

This game seems to hit most of my criteria right on the head, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see before I can say I love it. I can say, though, that I really really wanna try it!

Music is my coffee. I’m addicted to the beat.

To start off this post, I have to share something with you all.

It’s a really awesome fact that I will listen to almost anything as long as it’s not misogynistic or hate-ridden. I may not like everything I hear, but I give it a shot, and usually most stuff sticks. I like indie music. I like some pop music. I love love love industrial and various other subculture music. I fell hard into affection with The Cure, The Pixies, Annie Lennox, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and David Bowie at a very young age. Shoot, I even have really crazy dreams about encountering musicians I admire. In one of them, I was hanging out with the Golden Girls when David Bowie walks up to us with a goat wearing a shimmering rainbow coloured scarf and heart shaped sunglasses. We hung out. David sang for us, and Sophia told us awesome made up stories about Sicily.  If you think that’s a weird dream, I won’t even mention the really fun one I had about Daniel Day Lewis. Some things are just better left to the imagination.

Point is: I am a music fetishist. Okay, maybe fetishist gives the wrong idea but I do love music. When I was a kid I had a ton of ideas of what I wanted to do when I grew up. I considered bar tending, so I could gain worldly knowledge and understanding of other human beings (as well as great stories for my future novels). I thought about being a poet. The thing that stuck out most, though, was how music made me feel. In the midst of a lot of craziness, hearing great lyrics and a strong arrangement could push me forward. When it came time to pick a major in college, there was no hesitation. I was going to be a music promoter and agent. I had it all figured out. I was going to ignore the cliche bands that the generic masses listened to and I was going to push the amazing underground bands I came across. I’d heal the worlds music wound.

 I was so full of shit. That’s okay though. We all are at some point in our lives.

I think it’s kind of obvious that I didn’t become a music promoter and agent. I wanted to do it so badly that I entered into it naively. I didn’t realize how sexist the industry was just yet. I didn’t realize that even with a ton of women in the industry, it was still an old boys club. Nor that my own music business professor would be inclined to treat the girls in his class as jokes. Pity, too. He was rather cute since he was still rather young. It incredibly diminishes a mans sexiness to treat a woman like she’s incompetent. Such a turn off.  After spending a year chasing that dream and giving it my all, I realized it wasn’t right for me. I wanted it, but I didn’t want that agony of pushing myself and working my ass off only to get pushed over by a guy who thought he’d found a new secretary.

I should have fought for it.

Realistically, I’m happy that that venture didn’t pan out. I probably would have been happy enough with that career and lifestyle but I wouldn’t have met the people that followed that lifestyle change if I hadn’t walked away. That’s not to say that I think I was right to have given it up. I gave it up for all the wrong reasons.  I gave up because I thought that I would get tired of the fight. It’s probably true that I would have but I’d have been doing it for a good reason. I would have been helpful in changing the way the music industry perceives women, particularly those who work behind the scenes.

Lately, I find myself going “What the HELL is this crap?!” at a lot of music out there. I say worse stuff about certain music videos and the way some female singers are treated (and treat themselves) while in the public eye. During those moments I sometimes stop and feel like such a hypocrite. Who am I to get annoyed at what’s being put out there when I had a chance to change that and make it into something better? Then I think “Would it really have been better if I’d tried?”. I guess we will never know. But I did let myself down because I took the easy way out. I opted for something I knew I was good at and that wouldn’t be such a struggle. I love art and history. I’m psyched about it any time I encounter a new gallery or museum, or an artist with a unique eye. I just can’t help but see it as something that comes easily to me because I didn’t have to discover it. My love of those things have been with me for as long as I can remember. Just as my love for literature.

My love of music was a discovery though. Like a first love affair with someone who could bring you up when you were in your darkest pit. I let that lover go for all the wrong reasons and just as many people ask themselves about their first loves, I ask myself about my first passion. People mistake love with passion. On a lot of levels the two look and feel the same but where love is soft, subtle, and nurturing; passion is chaotic, scrambling, sometimes dirty, and often times explosive. My discovery of music was chaotic and explosive. Particularly when I found the music that connected with me and how I felt.

So while I may not be a music promoter and agent, I can definitely say I love to share music and I’m going to.

I figure the best way to do that is here. I’m including several genres of music and in various languages. Everything from anime songs to dark and broody songs.

Enjoy the sound wealth!

(Billie Holiday’s music is eternal. No doubt about it. You just can’t argue with the reminiscent value it has. If you can argue it, you’re wrong. Simple as that.)

(I like how tribal some of the arrangement in this song is. Using unique instruments and making it sound fluid and modern is such a great method in music.)

(This song breaks my heart. It’s about a gay man whose father rejects him, and due to it being the 80’s and unawareness, he dies of aids, suffering and alone.)

(Nana was one of the first serious style shoujo animes I ever watched and a lot of the music was kind of transcendental for me.)

(This remix would get me going in the morning when I had no choice but to drag myself through the muggy hot mornings in Miami.)

(I really love what they did with Michael Jackson’s Dirty Diana. It feels like a perfect fit.)

(This stuff just makes me happy. It was used in the Novela “El Clon” which was (primarily) about forbidden love but had a very fascinating core story about what happens when human beings mess with the natural course of humanity. It touched on topics like human cloning and how it affects everyone involved, being and feeling lost, addiction, family, and destructive behaviour.)

(To be honest, K-on! is a lovable guilty pleasure of mine. I like to hop between happy and serious animes. The spectrum for anime is so vast that the music is really fascinating in how it captures the spirit of each anime. Especially when it’s done well.)


There is so much more that I could and would share in this post but it’s already so many videos that I’ll have to save more for later.  Happy to share though!

The Act of Being Radiant

Japanese Woman Bowing Her Head

First and foremost, I must apologize for my absence this week.

This week has been full of tons of complications and surprises. I volunteer with the Arts Market in the town I live in, and at the same time that we were preparing for a big weekend, I had to fill out some very serious government paperwork that asked for more information than I ever thought I needed, so it has been a struggle to remain patient and graceful, but I do think it worked out and things are fine for now. Hopefully they remain so!

As for todays post, I really wanted to touch on the subject of being radiant.

Personally, I feel that people who shine the brightest are happy people who are healthy, inside and out. Positive mentality, kind, helpful, firm, and decisive. Those are the kind of people who appeal to me most. It’s rare to find anyone that perfect though, isn’t it? What if we, as human beings, strive to improve upon the world by making ourselves into these kind of people? What if, instead of hoping to meet someone like that, we became it and in that way become a catalyst for others to want to be that way too?

The primary aspect of the radiance I talk about is kindness. A lot of people assume being kind means you get walked all over. It doesn’t have to be that way though. You can always be a kind person who is capable of telling someone no if they are abusing your kindness. That doesn’t make you a bad person. In fact it is much worse to make a promise you can’t keep, just to appear kind. I do my best to look around me and see what I can improve upon. Whether it’s within myself or in the town I live in, the schools I go to, the places I work at, I consider what I can do as an individual to make the place feel lighter, happier, livable. So many places now feel like they are merely a place to exist within but they aren’t livable. It’s become a sterilized machine where humans are only cogs and bits to help the machine work, but aren’t considered necessary or particularly worth caring for. That’s a terrible way to live. Human beings have become entitled. That’s certainly true. It may not be true of everyone but it’s become true of the majority. The problem is that a lot of communities have taken on the mentality that in order to stomp out that entitlement behaviour there must be no real sense of community in the first place. That won’t work. It only makes people want more for themselves without giving anything in return. Should we give everything away and let the emotional wolves tear everything apart? No way! We do have to bring back the genuine nature of the word “community”, though.


 We do need to reteach the values, the kindness, the worthiness of a healthy community. As it is now, society will not survive much longer. I’m not saying human beings will destroy one another and the world will become desolate and lifeless. What I’m saying is that society, the core that deems certain things like murder, theft, hate crimes, etc., to be unacceptable will dissolve into a pool of disgruntled human beings who no longer know how to connect, resolve problems, or protect one another. It may not become a free for all of damages, but it will become a broken home. This planet, is in essence, a house. It houses many different people and cultures, gardens, and animals. When we disrespect our home and treat it badly, the people within it start to get resentful and won’t want to respect it either. It escalates.


I can’t fix the whole house alone but I can know that my actions do affect others.  I can make someones day great with a very simple act of kindness that requires next to no effort or I can make someones day miserable with a complicated act of bitterness that requires way too much energy to be worth it. Also, bear in mind that, when a person makes the effort to make someone else miserable, they are also amplifying their own misery. If you’re having a horrible day, don’t drag other people into it by making other people feel bad. Instead, improve upon your day by doing a kind thing, receiving a grateful smile and thank you, and see how you feel. Don’t give up just because the first person or second person you do a kind thing for (like holding the door for them, or offering them tea) forgets their smile and thank you. It doesn’t mean they hate or dislike you. It simply means that they have gotten caught up in the bitterness of the day and will need more kindness from various sources. That is not your responsibility. You’ve done your part, and will continue to do so for the rest of your day, so let others be kind too. If you take it upon yourself to fix everyones day, you will never have time to recharge. Some people are also way too far gone into their unhappiness for you to fix it in one day, and that has to be okay with you.  I prefer bright pops of kindness, random acts of sweetness, to pouring too much honey on an already sticky situation. I prefer being honest too. If I see a woman with a lovely coat or dress, I tell her it’s lovely. If a cute kid is being super awesome, I compliment the childs parent on their really cool kid. Can you imagine how many parents out there, go home and have to listen to a relative criticize their parenting methods? A lot of them get that, when in fact they are pretty good parents doing the best they can. Not all parents are good, but for the ones that have good kids and are obviously doing a good job, it should be acknowledged. It boosts their self esteem, puts a spring in their step, especially when they are already so exhausted from chasing around kids all day. That’s an act of kindness that can alter someones path in a positive way, without sacrificing too much of yourself. Self preservation is just as important as kindness but they need to be balanced. You have to know your limits and every day is a learning experience.


I have had experiences where a simple act of kindness would have made a world of a difference. A simple hug when a loved one died and I was in shock would have made life a lot easier. I once had a coworker who had lost her husband to cancer. Now,  she had some moments where she was very unkind and did try to sabotage me at work (we’ve all had coworkers like that at one point or will encounter one. It happens.) but for some reason she was looking at pictures on her phone of him at the hospital when he was dying. I’m guessing she was really missing him and couldn’t wait to get home. That’s pretty natural. She ended up having to rush out of the room in tears. My instinct wasn’t to revel in her pain. In any case, I sympathized because I’ve lost really close relatives in very sad and painful ways before. That ache doesn’t leave you. It gets milder and softer. Bearable. You can function and you can even enjoy life but you don’t stop missing or remembering them. So I told my boss I was going after her, and he being the awesome boss he is, covered for me. I went out onto the patio where she was and I let her talk. It didn’t cost me a dime. It didn’t take away any of my frustration with her previous behaviour either. That wasn’t the point of that moment. That moment was about making sure a woman who was desperate and scared wouldn’t jump the 3 stories down from that patio. It was to remind her that she still existed and needed to live fully, and that she deserved happiness and kindness too. We hugged and went back to work. When you encounter those situations, don’t assume someone else will take care of it. A lot of times, no one does. The people suffering should not have to feel more alone than they already do. You can’t bring back their loved ones, you can’t fix their burnt down homes, or rescue them even, but you can be kind and once they’ve vented you can make them smile or laugh.


Be the kind of person who can hug someone who is suffering, so that you can also be the kind of person who can receive hugs when you are suffering. It’s harder to accept kindness from anyone, if you’ve never been on the giving end. It becomes easy to assume someone has ulterior motives. The more you suspect others of shady behaviour, the more they suspect you of the same. Surprise them by being an honest and caring person and allow them to develop affection for you. A community is based on help, kindness, understanding, honesty, and even conflict, so long as it’s resolved. Don’t use your arms as walls, use them as a lifesaver.


Be radiant. The stars burn out eventually but human kindness radiates a light that is immeasurable. It can guide the fearful out of darkness and provide warmth to the sorrowful. You are at your most beautiful when you are kind.

~Nina Cazes


Stress Relief: How to unwind, care for yourself, and learning to say no.

I am by definition, an unhealthy overachiever. What I mean by this is that I have almost always had a hard time saying no to anyone. I delve a bit more into this in my first post but I didn’t really get into how I’ve started to pull away from those habits. While most of it happened while I was unawares, I do try to force myself to take time and heal myself, emotionally and mentally, when things are getting too tough beyond my homes doors. Even if it’s my own home environment overwhelming me (neighbors, leaky faucets, etc) I seek out new ways to feel better or old comforts. I’ve stopped overeating when I’m emotional, instead I look for other alternatives. I realized I was overeating, when back in Miami, FL, I was having a nightmarish day full of angry students, constantly demanding professors, and a very cramped bus ride home prompted me to stop at the local Publix and buy 2 little trays of sushi, gyoza, a bottle of plum wine, a bag of some “healthy” chips, and before I knew it I had 5 very full bags worth of stuff. While some of it was for my parents, most of it really was for me. Later as I lay it out in my room to devour as I watched anime or a Korean drama, I came to the harsh reality that I was eating to satisfy a void, a dislike of my current situation. Then I thought back to how often I’d done that in the course of that year. How many pizzas? How many subs? How often did I order Chinese? Needless to say that just made me feel worse and as ashamed as I am to admit it, I devoured everything that was there in front of me. What came after taught me a harsh lesson though. Your body can’t contain the amount of food it takes to fill up various emotional voids. Why? Think of an emotional void as a black hole in space. There is very little way to know what is beyond that black hole or how deep it goes. (In theory, back down astronerdies). Point being, if I didn’t know the root cause of my emotional void, getting it fixed was not going to happen with a large pizza covered in artichokes and bacon. A peanut butter burger wasn’t going to resolve it either. I realized I was not listening to myself. I was avoiding confronting my needs because I felt unqualified to take care of myself emotionally. Yet, if I don’t, who will? That can’t fall on anyone elses shoulders and it can’t be stuffed down with food. Food, drugs, alcohol, they seem like they’re working but they’re just helping us avoid the real problem. Many would say looking in the mirror is hard. Bullshit, just open your eyes. It’s easy enough. It’s the looking into your core and daring to ask “what do you need?” that’s hard.

I needed to resolve myself with my reality and my identity. I needed to confront the people who cast roles on me and told me who I was, what I needed to be, and how to do it; and let them know that I wasn’t some toy or play for them to mess about with. This was incredibly hard. I was lucky enough that my mom was open enough to listen when I express my personal needs. If I said “I don’t want to be a ballerina.” she listened. If I said “I can’t eat like this anymore. I want to try soy milk, and healthier stuff.” she went out of her way to help. My godmother is a totally different story. In fact, I don’t think she even listened when I told her I wanted her to stop telling me that I need to be her size. Let’s face it, with my frame, once I genuinely get healthy and make a better structured lifestyle, I may be at best 145lbs. Why? Because that’s really how my body is built. Every doctor I’ve been to has said so. Her expectation that I will ever be her 80lb frame, is way off and really cruel. There were tons of other occasions where telling people how I felt and what I needed either worked or didn’t. That’s okay because I did my part and was true to myself. The end result isn’t something I can afford to fret over, because it’s out of my control, but I can at least be honest with myself and my needs.

This brings me to the healthier alternatives I’ve encountered for when those moments of honesty have nothing to do with people but with myself. Sometimes I deny myself a lot. I figure there are more important things that need to be done and I contemplate putting them ahead of everything else that I want to do. Sometimes this results in them getting done and other times it just results in my stressing out and being overwhelmed without accomplishing anything. The latter is usually a sign that I’ve overexerted myself and haven’t relaxed in a long while.

When that happens I start reaching for my go to hobbies. Some are hard to accomplish in the small town I live in, but in a perfect world these are my favorite things to do. It should be noted that a lot of times, bloggers write from a personal perspective and don’t include what may seem obvious to everyone else. In this case, I’d say to consider this list more of a general suggestion list, and you should totally build on it to suit your needs. Just remember to keep it fun, keep it simple, and do the healthy thing for yourself.


My atypical solution, for those times when leaving the house may prove problematic (like at 1am and insomnia is kicking my tush) anime and k-dramas relieve a lot of my stress. In fact, when my mothers brother died, it was a huge shock that left me really numb and wracked with all sorts of anger and thoughts. It was not a peaceful death and that can haunt a person. Many questions are left behind and it’s almost soul crushing.


  I was lucky enough to find the anime Noein at that exact moment when I needed it most. Without giving away any spoilers, I will say what I took away from it. I marathoned the anime. I spent an entire 3 days in my bedroom eating cottage cheese and strawberry preserves (I have interesting snack tastes and I make no apologies.), only leaving to take care of human needs, and I watched the anime straight through. When it was over, it was roughly 7 or 8am, and my mom was sitting in the living room by the window staring out into space. I sat next to her and said, “Mom, if it’s true that there are alternate universes out there, I’m okay with my uncle dying in this one. Because it means that just maybe in another universe he didn’t make the same mistakes. Maybe in another universe he’s with my aunt and his son, and they are healthy and happy. If there’s even a small possibility of that, then I’m okay with this if it has to be true.”.  A lot of people view anime as something really shallow and stupid, but some animes have the ability to heal a person, teach life lessons, and make us think on a much broader scale.

2. Skype/Friends

When I need something more than anime, like a human voice, feedback, and interaction, I turn to Skype where I get to harass my awesome friends of almost 10 years.


These people are absolutely amazing. They’re scattered all over the place and while we don’t always log on at the same time, usually someones there to talk with. I know that many people fear the internet friendship thing. It’s natural to be concerned about developing friendships online. Some people ARE genuinely creepy and some are even downright evil. That doesn’t mean everyone should be written off though. It just means tread carefully. These people have been in my life for many many years and they know pretty much everything there is to know about me, down to the marrow of my bone, so to speak. It took a while to get there for all of us though. It’s not like we logged on, and immediately handed over our addresses, phone numbers, and our list of deadly allergies. In fact for many of us it took well over a year or two before we even acknowledged our last names. When we finally were comfortable enough to trade greeting cards, letters, and sometimes gifts, we were already deep into our friendships. In fact, I can say I can trust these people with my life, because it’s actually come into question before. I have an ex who wasn’t a very nice one. It ended badly and at the time my life was already a bit difficult. I ended up trying to kill myself. If it weren’t for my friend Chris (whom I affectionately call Psyduck) and for an awesome chickie named Ni, I wouldn’t be here. I’d either be dead or stuck in some psych ward. Let’s make something clear though, the killing myself thing was not over a guy. It was over a plethora of problems I wasn’t tackling properly. Plenty of people have had dumb exes and don’t try to kill themselves.  I was a broken person at the time and that just gave me a shallow reason to look for a way out. Needless to say, sometimes having a group of friends who can help you through anything, isn’t such a bad thing to seek out. Normally, I’m very much a loner. I actually have agoraphobia, in some of the worst of ways. I still needed friends. I still do, always will. Most people do, even if they are terrible at admitting it.

3. Video Games

        Lately, I’ve been having a lot of fun playing on Tera and playing Plants vs. Zombies!  I’m enjoying Tera a lot because due to it’s free to play status, the friends I mentioned before, can also play. My husband Chris (not Psyduck) and I both bought the game before it went free to play so we have access to all character tabs. The combat style is so much fun. Dodging is a big deal and unlike most other games, you can’t just WALK through someone you’re fighting. You have to use realistic skills when it comes to corporeal movements. There are still magical abilities like blinking from one spot to another and shooting creatures with spells, but the aspect of bodies is very firm when you’re in a fight. I enjoy that.



Plants VS Zombies is my go to one-person fun game. It’s a strategy game but it doesn’t feel complicated or as though it’s hard work. I do love challenges, and this one has several, but they are well paced. It’s a lighthearted way for me to just tune out and just relax. In fact it’s so simple and the picture really should explain it well, that going into it any further would be silly of me. You have plants, you kill zombies. It feels good!

4. Practice a new language

I do find it incredibly interesting when someone speaks a different language than I do. I become enamored with the way things are said, so one of my favorite things to do for myself is learning a new language. To date, I’ve learned bits and pieces of various languages like Japanese and Korean. In high school I studied French and enjoyed every second of it.


A lot of the time when I hear a friend mentioning that they want to learn a new language, it’s been an evolution of sorts. First they enjoyed video games from that culture, or anime, or a drama. Other times it was because of an affection they had for someone of that culture. In any of these occasions it was obvious that the language was meant to be a bridge to connect one being to another, one entity to another. As someone who loves History and civilization studies, I’m always intrigued by anyone who wants to build these connections. As a stress reliever, it’s fantastic, because learning a language is a paced study. While you can always take a course or something, if you really want to learn a language you just need some books and an audio of what you’re studying. In other words it’s within your own control. Stress comes from things being outside of our control, and by diving into a language and learning it at your own pace, you’re taking back at least some of that control. We can’t control what happens outside of ourselves but we can control how we react to it. Throw yourself into something positive and life will take you somewhere great.

5. Take up a journal

I breathe easier when I’ve written my thoughts down on paper and a major contributor to stress is simply over-thinking. If you write it down, once you know it’s committed to something more permanent it becomes less burdening.

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Whether you’re a guy, girl, guyish girl, or girly guy, there are journals for every type of personality and if you can’t find one that satisfies you, there’s also the option of making your own. Most people think of journals as a venting device, and yeah that’s great, but there’s so much more to a journal than that. It can hold your ideas, your funny anecdotes, and when you’re feeling down or lost, looking back on it can rev you right back up and make you want to try again. I used to do the venting, whiny journal thing. Hey, I was 14 and it was the end of the world as with most 14 year olds. It was over time that I started to add in more quirky and positive things to these journals and use them more as a symbol for hope and goals than despair and gloom. I am confident in my belief that that helped me overcome a lot of troubles as well as a lot of my immaturity.

6. Hiking

Are you thinking that hiking isn’t elegant or nerdy? I can see why anyone would jump to that conclusion but it couldn’t be any further from the truth. Firstly, there is nothing more elegant in a person than knowing how to be at peace with their surroundings, and there is nothing cooler than a nerd who understands nature and it’s influence on all of our lives.


Think of all the perks, too! Hiking means you get a fun workout. Instead of being stuck in a gloomy stinky gym, or one with tons of fluorescents that accentuate every drop of sweat, grime, and unappealing lumps of flesh, you get a fun outdoor adventure, sunshine, rain, whatever, and you see things you can’t see within four walls. Hiking also means that if you get out to a solitary area and you’re in a terrible mood, you can SCREAM YOUR HEART OUT and nature won’t treat you like a jerk for doing so. The final perk is the best one. Once you’ve given it you’re all, and are so tired that you can’t feel anything and you DO feel everything all at the same time, your mind clears, and is not thinking of all the things that stressed you out in the first place. In other words Stress – 0, You – 1000. You win the game.

7. Prepare some tea and spoil yourself for the day or night

We all have those days where any of the effort we would have made to cheer ourselves just seems like way too much. Those are the days when a nice big mug full of tea is the best solution. Like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory says: The societal norm when someone is upset is to provide them with a warm beverage. A warm beverage soothes them.


It’s true, too.

That’s why if you have the opportunity to take the day or evening and make it all about you, go for it. Stay in your pajamas, make some tea, grab some tea cookies, a few magazines, books, or movies, and just relax. Turn off your phone, don’t check emails, heck, if you can bear it, don’t check ANY social media at all. Keep it drama free, stress free, and let life happen.

8. Go comic book hunting, antiquing, or to a museum.

Sometimes a quiet outing where you find and discover new things helps us re-evaluate where we are heading and what we really want. Something as simple as grabbing a bunch of comics for a rainy day says a lot. It says you want that rainy day to come, and are open to relaxing, as well as having your own space for a little while.  Heading to an antique shop can reacquaint us with the life we envision for ourselves and can help motivate us again. Everyone has something from the past that they cherish. A fragment of a person who we so admired, that we sought to be just like them. Seeing things that remind us of these moments and people can help gear us back onto the right path, and sometimes come to terms with whether that path is no longer for us.


Inspiring yourself to move forward is never a crime. It’s a weight lifted off of our shoulders when we can confirm our biggest worries or genuinely cast them aside. Be quirky, check out a comic book museum, or a quiet little antique shop outside of town. Try new things.

9.  Cooking

If you’re at your worst and feel like you can’t do anything right, one of the best things you can try is cooking a meal. Not an overly complicated recipe, but stuff that comforts you and that you can share. Preparing a simple meal for family and friends can start to relax you if you look forward to the end result and don’t overthink the process. Turn on some music and let yourself get inspired. Make a nice strawberry salad, some baked potatoes, steaks, and try your hand at sauteing some baby carrots in a ginger garlic butter sauce. These are just suggestions but they’re pretty healthy and easy to make. More than that, they make you feel good. ginger is known to lift the spirits, garlic is good for a persons heart, strawberries incite happy feelings (unless you’re allergic, in which case, go for mandarin slices), potato starches actually soothe people, and steak is awesome if you’re a meat lover. If you don’t eat meat, Portobello mushrooms work fantastically.


The point is to make a meal that makes you happy. Not one that will stuff you to the brim and make you feel worse about yourself, but rather one you feel happy about sharing with people you love.

10. Have an impromptu Tabletop Game night

Invite your friends, or your family, hang out at home and order in and just enjoy one anothers company while playing a game and letting the days frustrations melt away. If you’re so caught up in the game that you forget all about the stress of the day, you will sleep better and probably wake up in a better mood. That can be key in changing anything that’s frustrating you. When we handle a stressful situation at work, school, or in every day life under a really bad mood, we pretty much just make it a lot worse. If we give ourselves a breather, though, and enter the situation in a better mood and with some perspective, things can improve a lot.


All you have to do is give yourself permission to have some silliness in your life and a lot of the anxiety that’s built up could go away. Sometimes it’s just that we take ourselves too seriously, but tabletop games allow us to put down those walls and simply have fun.

At the end of the day, your stress won’t go away because someone else changes. They can change a million times over and still not be whatever you want them to be. If you allow yourself the opportunity to enjoy your life, without feeling like you have to rescue everyone, or without procrastinating all the time and then feeling guilty about it, you spare yourself a lot of agony. Work hard, play hard, but playing hard doesn’t have to mean playing stupid. Getting drunk until you can’t be disciplined enough to control your reactions, or getting stoned until you don’t feel anything anymore, is not going to improve your life. There are a million other options out there for improvement and it’s up to you whether you want them to be the awesome options or the mediocre ones.

Personally, I opt for the more awesome variety. Mediocre options tend to be filled with the same exact kind of people who help induce a lot of stress. Just some food for thought.


Embrace the interesting and allow yourself to be an interesting, fun person.

On a final note, don’t let anyone bully you into doing stuff you don’t want to do. If you’re doing any of the stuff mentioned here, it makes it a lot easier to find a reason to say no without feeling like you’re lying or being a jerk. Let’s face it. So many people out there hate doing their own work. If you’re doing yours, why should you have to do theirs? Isn’t it so much easier to say no, if you can say, “Sorry, that doesn’t work for me. I have plans.”? Even if you don’t have plans, the minute you feel like you’re starting to get used, come up with one and do it. You’re not a doormat. You’re an interesting and fun person, in your own way. Keep that in mind the next time someone asks you to take care of their work.