The Dragon Princess - Chapter Two

7 Things to do on a Rainy Day

My favorite things to do on a rainy day.
When it comes to rainy days or any days with down time, it often feels like there really isn’t much to do. No work, no school, so what’s a girl to do? Here are my top tips for things to do on a rainy day. Keep in mind, I’m an introvert, so my things to do on a rainy day might be different than yours.

1 – Read a new book or continue/finish an old one

So many people buy books every year that they never read or own books that they never finished. So break the stereotype and crack open a new book or get started on finishing an old one!

2 – Start a new project

Whether it’s a new craft, a new product for your business, a new story idea you want to write, or any new project, now’s the time to start it! Get your materials and get your creative juices flowing!

3 – Discover a new band/listen to some old music

We all have that one band we’ve been meaning to listen to, or maybe an old favorite that we haven’t heard in a while. Take some time and find their music on YouTube or Spotify. You may discover or rediscover your new inspiration music.

4 – Clean a room 

While it’s not the most exciting thing, it can feel extremely good to clean a room you haven’t touched in a while. Even if it’s doing a quick dusting or window washing, cleaning can make you feel super productive and it’s a good opportunity to get up and move around.

5 – Organize/Reorganize a room or desk space

Along similar lines as cleaning, organizing or reorganizing a room or desk space can help make you feel productive. It can also give you a change of scenery and maybe spark some creativity, too!

6 – Clean out the closet

Let’s face it. We all have clothes in our closets we never or hardly ever wear. A rainy day is perfect for taking a peek at your clothing collection and seeing what can be given to charity, what can stay, and what needs to recycled or thrown away.

7 – Relax!

A rainy day is a day without anything important to do… so kick back and relax! Maybe you just came off a super busy week at work, or have just had a rough week in general. Either way, you deserve some time to yourself. Whether it’s a book as stated above, binge watching a new TV series, watching a favorite movie, or even taking a nice, soothing nap. Take the day and re-energize so you can face the next busy week.
Whatever you decide to do on the next rainy day, just know there’s no wrong way to spend it. It’s your day, so do with it as you want. There are plenty of things to do that aren’t listed here, and I’d love to hear what your favorite things to do on a rainy day are. Let me know in the comments, and until next time!
The Dragon Princess - Chapter Two

The Joy of Fandom

The Joy of Fandom: Pop culture, community, and cosplay. Photo credit: JFP Photography.

A few weekends ago I was able to do something incredible: I took three days to go dress up as fictional characters and have fun with other people doing the same thing. If I were to show you pictures from the event, you may have one of three reactions. Shocked and weirded out by the strange costumes and colors, curious but also kind of put off by the concept, and so excited to tell me about the conventions you’ve gone to and plan to go to. Welcome to the world of fandom: the community aspect of pop culture from around the world.

Some people are legitimately shocked and somewhat scared by the fact that others and myself enjoy dressing up like this. They see it as immature, irrational, or just plain weird. Why would you want to dress up as a fictional character? Someone who has no direct impact on the world. Most of these people usually aren’t among the fandom crowd. They see sensibility in reality and everyday life, which there’s nothing wrong with doing that. However, I’d like to address this viewpoint. Yes, it can seem strange and like we’re trapped in our own little reality. But the truth is, that isn’t what’s going on. Instead, I’d like to show the other side of cosplay and conventions.

Yes, dressing up as fictional characters seems like a weird way to spend a weekend. Yet thousands participate in each fandom convention each year. That amounts to millions of people, not just in the U.S. but also around the world. So obviously, dressing up as fictional characters for a weekend isn’t unpopular. In fact, in the five years I’ve been going to the convention in Pittsburgh, attendance has jumped from a little over 5,000 to almost 9,000. And if that’s the jump for a smaller convention, then others have jumped just as much or more. It’s gotten more popular for comic cons, especially with the recent superhero movies and the revival of Star Wars. And with this popularity comes more publicity and more people dressing up as fictional characters for a weekend.

It isn’t just young people who attend conventions either. People young and old, men and women, from all walks of life participate in cosplay each year, sometimes going to multiple conventions a year. And yes, most of them happen to be young adults, but a good many of them are also between 30-50 years old. That’s what makes cosplay, and fandoms, so fascinating. No matter where they’re from, what they believe, or how old they are, everyone manages to get along and laugh and have fun. It’s something unique to the fandom community that makes it special. Not many other communities outside of the fandom community can say that they bring people together like that.

And that’s the beautiful thing. Fandom is such a unique phenomena, spanning so many different sub-communities and so many people. Most sub-communities appreciate each other despite age or class or gender. It’s the essence of what can possibly be called a true community. Yes, there can be fighting between and even within sub-communities. But no community is perfect either. And I think that’s what makes fandom so special. It’s a tight-knit community spanning countries, ages, genders, and worldviews. Sure we fight, but there still isn’t anything that can truly make the worldwide fandom community fall apart. And I think that’s the real joy of fandom.

The Dragon Princess - Chapter Two

My Tips for Dealing with Stress and Self-Doubt

stress, self-depression, self-doubt, mental illness, blog

I don’t always like to talk about this topic. It’s not something everyone knows about, and I’m not very good at being vulnerable. While I’ve never been officially diagnosed with depression or anxiety, I’ve had small tastes of it. Feeling like not doing anything because what’s the point? As if there’s nothing that can change your situation. Like the whole world is caving in around you. Like you’re the reason it is. It sucks. It really sucks. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one to deal with it either. And most likely, you know a few people who deal with it too, or maybe are one.

I specifically deal with really bad self-doubt. Things go wrong in my life, and I immediately jump to the “it’s my fault” conclusion. Being a pessimist/realist/barely optimistic doesn’t help. Working on it is a long and hard process, and I’ve been blessed with understanding and supportive friends. I’m nowhere near qualified to offer professional help, but I thought I would offer a few tips to how I help calm myself and cheer myself up. So here’s a few that I’ve found the most helpful to me.

1: Taking Deep Breaths

I know it’s cliche, but it really can help. Regulating your breathing can bring down your heart rate and forces you to focus on something other than what’s making you anxious, stressed, or upset. While it may not distract from it completely, it can divide your attention, which can still help.

2: Removing Yourself from the Situation/Distract Yourself

One of the things I try to do is remove myself from the situation, if I can. Staying in the stressful or upsetting situation can make things worse, so removing myself and distracting myself with other environments allows me to get a fresh perspective. But since, I’m still in college, removing myself from a stressful class or from people I know I still see everyday isn’t always possible. So instead I distract myself. Focusing on a different task like another assignment, trying to think of something else entirely, or if I can, just browsing the web. Whatever helps keep me from thinking about the situation can help a lot.

3: Do Something You Enjoy

One of the best ways I distract myself is by doing things I enjoy. Watching videos, reading, writing, playing video games, listening to music, things like that. This really helps get me away from thinking about whatever’s making me stressed or upset. Recently, I had a whole episode of self-depressive thoughts and self-doubt, and it took a little longer to bounce back from it than usual. I ended up going back and watching videos from some fandoms I had previously been a part of, which helped a lot with calming me down and distracting me from my thoughts. Doing things you enjoy, even little things, helps a lot with distracting from stress and upsetting thoughts.

4: Remembering It Isn’t True/That Bad

 Not everyone will find this last step easy. Heck, I don’t find it easy either. But if I’m able to calm myself down enough, I can usually talk myself down from the thoughts or the stress-induced panic. Again, it can take a little while to get there. That’s why this is the last step after calming down and distracting yourself. Reminding yourself that sometimes you can overthink things or that something you thought was true ended being wrong (which happens naturally a lot anyways) can help be the further push out of panic. Again, this isn’t an easy step, but if it can be reached and done, it can help as well.

I know for a fact that not all of these steps will help everyone. I don’t deal with chronic anxiety or depression, so my tips probably won’t help someone who does. But they can help someone who deals with situation or stress-induced anxiety or self-depressive thoughts. If you do suffer from chronic anxiety or depression, or other types of mental illnesses, I would strongly advise seeking counseling. Some of the best advice I got was from my counselor here at school, and her help was a blessing to me. So definitely try to find counseling.

Stress can be a nasty trigger for mental illnesses, but knowing how to handle stress can help make things a little easier. Again, my tips won’t help everyone, but I do want to share them for anyone who might want them. Until next time, readers. And know you aren’t alone.

The Dragon Princess - Chapter Two

A Winter Wonderland?

winter, blog, college

Going to a college in the northern part of the country can be a bit of crapshoot. Sometimes winter is really cold, and sometimes it’s weird. Now maybe that’s just the state of Pennsylvania, because as anyone living here can tell you, the weather’s pretty weird in general. Most of the time, it’s freezing cold by the time mid-January hits. We typically get no snow for Christmas, but next week there’s a good three inches on the ground. And then winter goes through this love-hate stage where it can’t decide when it’s going to leave come March and April. Last year, winter stuck around a good while, till the first week of April, before it finally said goodbye.

So January 2017 starts, I come up to school early to get a class out of the way before the spring semester starts, and I’m prepared for the worst. Icy conditions, a foot of snow, and anything from 20 degrees to 20 below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. And it looks like at first, that’s how this two week class period is going to go. And then it reaches 50 degrees. 50. Degrees. And back home, a few hours south of my school, it was in the 60s. For January weather, that’s ridiculously warm. Not the warmest it’s ever gotten, but definitely unusual for this time of year.

In complete honesty, I really don’t mind it. The only time I like the cold is when there’s snow on the ground, so for it to be warm is a rather nice change. Some folks might get worried about global warming and climate change, but I don’t think that’s the case. Usually, the temperatures balance out here. If the winter is colder, the summer is warmer. If the winter is warmer, the summer is cooler. Weird weather is also pretty typical for Western Pennsylvania. And given that the Southern half of the US was hammered with snow a few weeks ago, I’d say this is following the weird weather trend on the East Coast.

While I don’t mind the warmer weather, it’s making me realize the cold isn’t all that bad. You don’t need an excuse to not go out when it’s cold. You can stock up on snacks and soups for the days you don’t want to cook anything. It’s an excuse to wear cute and comfy clothes all day. And you can go play in the snow, if there’s snow to play in. But with warmer weather, you can’t really use the weather as an excuse to not go out, unless it’s raining. You can still wear cute and comfy clothes, but you can’t play in the snow. No matter what winter is like, it seems to be a give-and-take. You either get really cold temperatures, but can stay indoors and snuggle up with yummy food. Or you get mild temperatures, but can’t escape going outside or play in the snow.

I’m hoping that the weather will get a little colder since I am starting to miss the snow, but I’ll enjoy the warmer temperatures while they last. And hope desperately that temperatures don’t touch the single digits during daylight hours at all this winter. I’ve been through that the past few winters, and I want nothing to do with them this winter. For now though, I’ll kick back, wait for the spring semester to start, and enjoy the warmer temperatures for the weekend with my friends.

So what’s your favorite part about winter? Are you someone who loves the cold, or do you prefer the milder winters? Let me know in the comments, and I will see you lovely readers in the next post. Until next time!

The Dragon Princess - Chapter Two

As the New Year Begins: A Reflection on 2016

2016. I think most people can agree this wasn’t the greatest year we’ve had for the 21st century. Many people were taken from us, from beloved celebrities passing too early to friends and family members in many horrible incidents across the globe. Fights, anger, shootings, war, terror attacks, the presidential election, all of these have left their mark on 2016. The bad news: 2017 might not be much better. The good news: it doesn’t have to be.

2016 wasn’t the greatest year for most people. But it still had it’s bright moments. It brought us some fantastic movies. It was a chance for college students to show what they’re made of as they entered the work force. And it was a chance to start over, even if the next president-elect isn’t who anyone wanted (even those who voted for him). There were still holidays to celebrate with family. There were still new memories, new life, and constants throughout 2016. Many people I know celebrated a new addition to their family. They celebrated the chance to spend time with friends and family throughout the year. Despite the anger, the hardships, and the general negativity towards one another, people still found reasons to get up every morning and keep moving.

But what does this say about 2016 as a whole? There were no doubt some really nasty parts. The year starting off with several beloved celebrity deaths paved the way for heartbreak and mourning. The election primaries finishing with two candidates many didn’t want. ISIS’s grip on Europe slowly building up anger at refugees and hostility between both parties. And Syria’s situation becoming more and more messed up, horrifying, and confusing for those outside of Syria and Syrian civilians. Not much can be immediately thought of when it comes to good things in 2016. But doing a little digging provides a few victories in 2016.

Endangered animals like pandas and tigers are slowly regaining numbers. The money from the ALS Bucket Challenge was used for ALS research, which found the gene responsible for the disease. Leonardo DiCaprio finally won his Oscar (warning: there’s a video). Pokemon Go brought not only the world of Pokemon to life, but also encouraged a lot of people to go outside and interact while playing a virtual game. Harry Potter fans were transported back into the wizarding world with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. And millions of students worldwide entered their last year at university or high school/secondary school before they start the next chapter of their lives. All of this happening with the 12 months that were 2016.

Yeah, 2016 did not look good for a lot of people. Unfortunately, there aren’t high chances that 2017 will be much better. But that doesn’t mean it has to be. The good things that happened last year happened because we decide to make them happen. We decided to put in the effort to help endangered animals. We managed to raise that money, even though it was a few years back, to research the gene for ALS. And we decided to take charge of our lives, enjoy the entertainment given to us, be it Pokemon or Harry Potter, and start preparing for the next chapter in our lives where it takes us. And that’s what the new year is for.

2017 is a new chance. Sure, it’ll be scary. There are opportunities for failure. But so is every year. So instead of getting worried about what the new year might bring, let’s hold strong and not just hope things will get better. Let’s make things better. Here’s to you, 2016. Thanks for preparing us for the road ahead.