This summer has been non-stop for the Holloway’s. From the garden project to home renovations, the Hideaway has been buzzing.
Our hummingbird feeder has finally attracted a visitor! But all other outdoor projects have been halted for this year until next spring.
Our house has also had a burden lifted, literally. Just a note to folks out there: a lot of weight in one small area can have disastrous consequences if not supported properly. Although we did not weigh all of the tile and concrete removed, we have guessed this one shower weighed several hundred pounds.
Another burden that is currently being lifted is some clutter from our overgrown stash of crap that has accumulated over the years. What people don’t warn you about marriage is the clashing of each other’s stuff. You don’t realize how much you have until you need to find a place to put it all. My husband has listened to the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Hopefully this will help guide us through the monstrous task of organizing our home.
Another thing I have personally been working on is my pastel skills. When I started painting with chalk pastel, I only had YouTube and several online articles as a guide. I could see some improvements in my work, but I felt as if I had hit a wall. I didn’t see me going any further with my skills without some type of guidance. I needed a teacher. Thankfully Marla Baggetta, a pastel artist, offers free mini lessons on her website, along with full length lessons. I have only completed a handful of lessons, but the amount of knowledge I have acquired is astounding. That wall of ignorance is crumbling away and I am getting a glimpse of the artistic future I was beginning to think was an intangible dream.
Last week I shared the beginnings of the landscaping project we had started around our house. Last weekend we bought three Baby Gem boxwoods, two sets of Tiny Rocket lilies, a pack of twelve Celosia flowers, and one baby Japanese maple! The garden is a first for us, but the maple is our first tree we have planted together as a couple. I know that sounds a little cheesy, but planting a tree, even a small tree can be a symbol. A symbol of a growing and lasting relationship, creating a permanent home, and setting down firm roots. This is our home, and our little tree. From the day we stepped foot in this house we knew it would become our home.
But all sentiments aside, I really hope it doesn’t die.
Our garden is not complete but this is an update of our progress so far!
And no garden would be complete without a personal touch. The frog mosaic is a gift from my best friend Sara and her grandmother Mimi. Mimi is one talented lady I have always looked up to. If I become a fraction as awesome as she is in my future, I will be happy.
And my other dash of whimsy from my in-laws as a Mother’s Day present. I’m in the process of adding a bit more paint to the design before I seal it and place it in the garden. This was significantly nicer than the presents I received from my own children: cat vomit, dog slobber, bodily waste, and lots and lots of hair. But it’s the thought that counts.
It is spring at the Hideaway and this crazy woman has gotten the bright idea to enter into the world of gardening. Do I know how to garden? Absolutely not. Not in the slightest. I literally have no clue what I’m doing. BUT I have drawn this cute little garden map to make it look like I know what I’m doing. That’s the key to life: look like you know what you’re doing. “What’s the worst that could happen” you ask? Everything dies. The chances of that happening are probably higher than I’m willing to admit to myself, so let’s not dwell on the negative!
Now, the picture above is a sketch including all future projects we would like to tackle, but right now let’s focus on the current project in the picture below. This is the front corner of our house that is really in need of some curb appeal (we don’t have a curb, but it sounds better than “ditch appeal”). My dad, who used to run his own landscaping and stump grinding company, helped us design the bed’s outer edge. The gentle curves, rather than sharp corners, makes for easier mowing.
We would like to add a small wooden deck, some flowers, a few bushes, and THIS BAD BOY! Check that out. That is a Japanese Maple. It’s a beautiful plant that is somehow a tiny tree and a giant bonsai at the same time. It’s also expensive so this will be our yard’s crown jewel.
Here is a sneak peek of our house before the plant murder and total gutting process. Although most of these plants were healthy, they were not what I wanted for our house. Keep in check next week for our Hideaway’s transformation part 1!
Yesterday, Les and I celebrated International Tabletop Day hosted by a local group. We don’t usually do a lot of socializing, but we definitely look forward to this yearly event. It gives us a chance to enjoy games, old and new, with people that love playing games. This year, we played four new (at least to us) games. I’ll provide the recommended player counts, length of gameplay, and ages. Then a quick rundown of gameplay and our opinions of these games.
We were introduced to this one with the quote: “Remember the old side scrolling games? You’re Bowser.”
You start the game by drawing one of the Boss cards and placing it in front of you, then drawing a hand of room and spell cards. Once the game starts, Heroes are drawn from a deck and placed in the Town. There are four types of Heroes: Fighters, Mages, Thieves, and Clerics. Different Bosses and Rooms will lure different Heroes to your dungeon. It is your objective to build a series of rooms to protect your Boss from the Heroes. You win by collecting ten souls before your Boss suffers five wounds.
This was a lot of fun and a great way for us to start our Tabletop Day. We plan to add this to our own game collection in the near future.
Pick a monster and start attacking the Japanese capital! This game let’s you live out any dream of being Godzilla or any of the mightiest Kaiju. The rules are simple. Once a monster has taken control of Tokyo, they must defend themselves from the others while any of the other monsters fight to take control away. You start the game with 10 life and 0 Victory Points. You win by collecting 20 Victory Points or reducing all of the other monsters to 0 life.
A very fun game that is quick to learn and very easy to play. We only played it with just the two of us. I would imagine the game really starts to shine once 4-6 monsters are battling for control of the city.
To start the game, you randomly draw a land tile and place it on the table connected to the already present field. On these tiles, you will find fields, roads, cities, and chapels. Once the tile is placed, you can choose to play one of your meeples to claim a feature. Once the feature is complete, you earn points and get your meeple back. Fields, roads, cities, and chapels all score differently and require different conditions to complete them. Your objective is to simply outscore your opponent(s).
The came already has many expansions to allow for more land tiles and even more players. The base game allows for up to five players. All expansions combined allow for up to eight players. The game does work perfectly for only two people. Which is important for us since most game nights are just the two of us.
Carcassonne will be the next addition to our Tabletop collection.
This is a more complicated game than the other three on this list. First off, you must have at least five players and the closer to ten, the better the game plays. Secret Hitler falls under the category of bluffing games. You are randomly assigned one of three roles: Liberal, Fascist, or Hitler. Once you know your identity, all players close their eyes. Then the Fascists all open their eyes and silently identify each other. Hitler keeps his/her eyes closed and indicates to the Fascists that he/she is Hitler (a thumbs up or what have you).
Once the Fascist know each other and who their Hitler is, the game begins. One player is named President and they nominate a Chancellor. All players vote Ja (yes) or Nein (no) to confirm or deny the nomination. If declined, the next player is named President and the process repeats until majority approve the Chancellor nomination. Then the President selects some policies that have to be silently narrowed down to one by the Chancellor.
Five successful Liberal policies and the Liberals win. Once three Fascist policies are enacted, if Hitler is successfully nominated to Chancellor by the majority, the Fascists win. However, the fourth and fifth Fascist policies passed allow the President to execute one of the players at the table. If Hitler is killed in this manner, the Liberals win.
Les did not enjoy this particular game. While I liked the concept of this game, it is the opinion of both of us that The Resistance delivers a more enjoyable game of this style.
With the sun just starting to peak through the trees of Willowspur Forest, Devereau checked the sparse equipment that lay before him. Although Devereau was always welcome in the nearby trading post of Pondview, the seventeen year old human male had made Willowspur his home. After returning his bedroll and waterskin to his backpack, he tightened the straps of his studded leather cuirass and secured his swords at his side.
Any thoughts of a peaceful day spent searching the forest for useful goods were swiftly pushed aside when a shrill scream that was cut short rang through the dew soaked air. Devereau scooped up the backpack and his longbow and sprinted East, towards Pondview and the source of the scream. He suspected the old abandoned cabin that nature had reclaimed so many years ago. The traders of Pondview always whispered about the building being haunted. Devereau had not yet been motivated to test the rumors, until now.
He slowed his pace and crouched into the brush as he approached the abandoned cabin. The young ranger was not the only one drawn to the cabin by the scream. From the tree line on the other side of the building, a tall, thin woman in custom hide armor stepped into Devereau’s view. Pointed ears protruded from her long, unkempt auburn hair comprised of dreadlocks, braids, leaves, and twigs. Her right hand rested on the hilt of a scimitar, the curve blade fashioned from bone. A larger than average gray-brown wolf trailed her by a few paces. Her perceptive emerald eyes instantly fell on Devereau’s hiding place. He stepped from the brush and nodded to the young druid.
“Phayegwynn, I presume?” Devereau had heard rumors of the young half-elf that had been accepted by the druids of Willowspur Forest.
“The traders still speak of me in Pondview, ranger?”
“On occasion. I believe Traver misses you.” The gnome innkeeper was the only citizen of Pondview that had spoken with Devereau of her by name. “Perhaps you should visit when this is through,” Devereau suggested as he nodded towards the decades old wooden door that hung askew by a single hinge.
Without saying a word, Phayegwynn drew her scimitar and used it to push the door open, revealing a dimly lit hallway. Her wolf companion sniffed around the base of the first door on the left. Phayegwynn twisted the rusty door handle slowly and swung open with a pained groan.
To the right of the now ajar door, a humanoid figure in a black hooded robe looked over its left shoulder at them. The cloaked figure’s shoulders sagged as if from exasperation, before vanishing in a small cloud of smoke. As the smoke cleared, Devereau noticed a young woman restrained to a wooden chair. Longbow still in his hand, Devereau took one step towards the restrained woman. Phayegwynn tapped Devereau’s thigh with her scimitar and gestured towards the other side of the room as three zombies began to shamble out of the shadows in a flanking formation.
Devereau fired an arrow at the one positioning itself between Devereau and the captive woman. The arrow passed harmlessly between two sets of exposed ribs and found its mark in the rotted wood of the wall behind the shambling zombie. Phayegwynn removed the left arm of the one closest to her as the wolf tore the third into pieces. Devereau’s second arrow missed its target as the dismembered zombie’s lunge made him lose his footing. Phayegwynn slashed at the zombie at Devereau’s back. Devereau and Phayegwynn turned in unison to find the wolf standing over the remains of the final zombie. Trying to hide the disappointment that he felt with his own performance in the encounter, Devereau quickly plucked the two arrows from the back wall while Phayegwynn untied the young woman.
“What can you tell us about your cloaked friend?” Phayegwynn asked.
“I think she meant ‘Are you alright?’” Devereau eyed Phayegwynn.
“I… have no idea who that was,” tears slid down her cheeks and her eyes darted around the room, taking in the gathered party. “I was picking fruits from the edge of the forest and he grabbed me and dragged me to this… place.”
“We should check the rest of the cabin for signs of our hooded friend before returning her to Pondview,” Devereau whispered to Phayegwynn.
“Very well,” Phayegwynn nodded then helped the girl to her feet. “Come with us for a few minutes.”
The four entered the hallway, with Phayegwynn leading the party. Deciding to work clockwise around the cabin, she walked farther down the hallway to a second door on the left side. She cautiously pushed the door open to find an emptied room with vines making up more of the wall than the original wood.
With a sigh, she returned to the hallway and reached for the door knob of the door opposite the cabin’s entrance. The door yanked free of her grip. With the taste of metal on her tongue, she dived back towards the party entering the hallway from the empty room she had just left. A blast of lightening arced down the hallway and blew the entrance door off of its single remaining hinge.
“What the hell was–“ Devereau caught Phayegwynn mid interjection, “are you okay?” Devereau looked towards the door, “must be something they didn’t want us finding behind that door.”
Phayegwynn pulled herself away from Devereau and stormed into the room with her scimitar ready for attack. She stopped two steps into the room. The scimitar lowered as her eyes scanned the empty room. Nothing. No hooded figure. No furniture. No zombies. She turns back to Devereau, confused, “Why install a trap for a vacant room?” Devereau merely shrugged in his own confusion. Phayegwynn sheathed her scimitar as she returned to the hallway for the next room.
After eyeing the door and determining it wasn’t rigged with another trap, she kicked the door in with a sigh of frustration. The floor of this room was covered in ropes of various lengths and thicknesses. In the very center of the room, a large ornate mirror stood. The cloaked figure from the first room was staring straight at the party from beyond the glass. The head tilted toward the young woman before vanishing again, leaving only the reflection of the party.
Phayegwynn drew and hurled her cudgel at the mirror and it shattered instantly. Phayegwynn crossed the room to recover her club and picked up one of the larger pieces of glass shards that now accompanied the ropes. She pocketed the shard before turning to Devereau, who was inspecting some writing on the wall. Phayegwynn could only make out one word, “Erythnull.”
“It’s written in blood,” Devereau stated without checking to see if anyone else had even noticed what he was seeing. “Well let’s see what wonders that last room has to offer us.”
As the party turned for the hallway again, Devereau inspected and coiled up a useful length of rope to take with him. He rejoined the two women and the wolf as Phayegwynn slowly opened the last door.
“It would appear that something exploded,” Phayegwynn stated flatly as she eyed the crater in the floor and the scorch marks that covered what was left of the room. Noticing that the ceiling was damaged and the crater was flooded with water, she added, “a great while ago.”
“And treasure,” Devereau, more excitedly than he had meant to, pointed at a floating chest in the middle of the flooded crater. Picking up a piece of lumber, most likely once part of the ceiling, Devereau nudged the floating chest to the edge of the crater and hauled it up to an undamaged section of the floor. A handful of gold pieces lay scattered in the bottom of the chest.
“Give the gold to the girl. I have little use for it and you will surely survive without it, ranger.”
“Barbara. My name… it’s Barbara,” the young woman said, with as much confidence as she could finally manage to muster.
“Very well. Give the gold to Barbara.” Phayegwynn stroked her wolf’s head as she walked past Devereau and Barbara towards the entrance of the cabin. She wished to be back in the forest. She assumed that today would not be the last time she saw a mysterious figure causing trouble in Willowspur. The forest was her home and nothing would bring it harm.
Devereau and Barbara followed Phayegwynn to the edge of the forest in silence. Once the inn of Pondview was in sight, Phayegwynn turned to Barbara. “Speak only with Traver at the inn. Tell him what happened and he will do everything he can to help you.”
The young woman nodded, “Thank you both so much for rescuing me.”
Devereau and Phayegwynn silently nodded as Barbara jogged to the inn. “I need to consult with the elders. I’ll see you again soon, ranger.”
Equipment: Backpack with waterskin, one day’s trail rations, bedroll, sack, and flint and steel. Ten candles, map case, three pages of parchment, quill, ink well. Spell component pouch, spellbook. Quiver with 17 arrows. 11 gp.
Spellbook: All 0-level spells; plus Cause Fear, Chill Touch, Ray of Enfeeblement, Feather Fall, Summon Monster I, Animate Rope.
Familiar: Cobra named Ethassu. AC 13, HP 8 (1d10+1). Master gains Perception +2
Volodar Crasys, at the age of 78, had only just began his training in the magical arts to become a wizard. The instructors believed he had great potential although he lacked focus. Volodar wanted to learn as much as he could about every facet of magic.
Volodar’s life changed forever when attackers descended upon the elves’ sanctuary. Volodar was knocked unconscious during the attack and left for dead. Most of his kind were far less fortunate. When Volodar recovered, he searched though the ruins and identified the fallen as best he could. However, his young sister was missing entirely.
Volodar heeded the advice of his now deceased mentors and focused intently on the school of magic that gave him the best advantage over the forces of life and death. With his cobra familiar, Ethassu, the young wizard began his new life.
Ayda Orcbane rolled her dwarven war ax in her rough, callused hands. Her father’s family crest, engraved on the blade, gleamed at her. As gently as she could, she placed it on the stained table and eyed the empty chairs around her before noticing that she was being watched.
The innkeeper glared at her intently with one good eye, the other concealed behind a faded eye patch. She wasn’t sure why the innkeeper was staring at her. She had paid. She had cleaned her weapons before she placed them on display. This was a common practice among mercenaries who were in search of work.
She had recently fulfilled a contract that she had accepted from a shady man and his army of usurpers; she was spending her measly share on the first inn that allowed Dwelves, let alone mercenaries. Hailing from both a proud, ancient dwarven clan and of highly viewed elves wasn’t enough to shake the negative view of mixed races in most parts of the world. With a name like Crushed Skull Inn, there wasn’t much room for judgment and most of the people around Wanderer’s Stop hadn’t spared her a second glance. Until now.
She was ready to get back out on the road and join a cause. A good one this time. Since leaving the Orcbane clan to find her own way in the world, she had hoped to find something worth her training and effort. Instead, all she found were various jobs all amounting to being everyone’s grunt. She drank through another pint of Rumm Scum, longing for something worth putting in a flagon.
The inn’s door flew open and thumped loudly against the wall filling the poorly lit room with the afternoon sun. In unison, the patrons turned to see who or what felt the need to announce their entrance in such a fashion. All seventeen eyes sank towards the floor. Ayda was more than a head taller than the newcomer, and she had certainly inherited her height from her father’s dwarven bloodline. The commotion was brought on by a Halfling, standing and hardly blocking the entrance of the Crushed Skull. This particular Halfling donned a full set of armor and was holding a mace in his right hand. The Halfling had already scanned the room before the nine occupants had laid eyes upon him. His left index finger was aimed directly at Ayda, his eyes on her war ax.
“Pick it up and assist me,” the halfling’s commanding voice was deeper than Ayda had expected. “Orcs approach and I could use your—“. Orcs knocked the Halfling aside as they burst through the doorway. Four of them, armed and ugly.
The smell hit Ayda nearly as hard as the orcs had hit the Halfling. Her muscles tensed as she took up her ax. As she found her feet, the realization of how much alcohol she had drank sank in. She swayed as she closed on the orc party. Two had taken an interest in her while the other two made for the Halfling. One of the orcs swung a crude club at Ayda. Her handicapped reflexes denied her the block and the club caught her across her chest and launched her backwards into a table that gave way beneath her and the room went dark.
The Halfling recovered almost instantly from the surprise assault. The orc’s knee crunched beneath the mace’s first strike. Wailing in pain, the orc doubled over for his knee. The creature’s pain ended abruptly with the second, ironically, skull-crushing strike. The Halfling glanced across the room to find a middle-aged man tending to the injured Dwelf. As he saw her eyes open, a makeshift axe caught the Halfling across the chest. He stumbled back several steps, uninjured, into the arms of another orc that had presumed the Dwelf was dead. The Halfling buried his heel into the orc’s foot as he swung the mace over his head. The mace killed the orc before it could express any of its pain.
Ayda grabbed her bow and readied an arrow as the orc noticed she was not out of the fight. The slightly blurred figure raised its club for an overhead strike. The arrow worked better than she had hoped. It penetrated the orc’s blackened mouth, exited out the neck and lodged in the last remaining orc’s left temple. She rolled to her right as the putrid orc landed where she had been. The last orc slumped to the floor and the room fell silent. Ayda searched the room for the man that had saved her but could not find him. She stood on shaky legs. The hit had sobered her somewhat but she was still unsteady.
“Very nice shot indeed,” the approaching Halfling complimented Ayda. “Not often that you see a dwarven archer.” His eyes fell on her ears. “I suppose that would be from your elf-kin then,” he added with a broad smile.
“Perhaps. The clan was always impressed with my shots,” Ayda replied hesitantly.
“What clan would that be?”
“I’ve heard wonderful things but until now have never met an Orcbane. Pleased to make your acquaintance, Lady Orcbane. I am Korvias Belfire of Bellshore.” The Halfling stood as tall and proud as any three foot tall being could.
“Please, just Ayda.” She looked about the room at the four fetid bodies that lay across the floor and the table that had broke her fall. “The least we can do is dispose of the bodies from this place. These people have showed me some measure of tolerance.” With a nod, Korvias managed, despite the size difference, to heft the nearest dead orc over his shoulders. An orc leg in one hand and an arm in the other, the Halfling sidestepped through the front door of the inn. With a heavy sigh, Ayda shook her head and knelt to grab an orc by the foot and followed Korvias outside.
A few hours later, as the sun descended near the horizon, the orc bodies were providing a small bonfire for the people of Wander’s Stop and the inn had been returned to its previous state. One couldn’t quite say clean, and although it was short one table now, the scraps provided good kindling for the bonfire. The cycloptic innkeeper thanked Korvias and Ayda again for their help. “Most folk that end up fighting in a small town’s inn aren’t the type to be cleaning up afterwards. I truly thank you for your help. It’s getting late,” the innkeeper nodded to the fading light outside the door. “You two are welcome to stay the night. No need to fret over the usual fee.”
“Thank you kindly, sir,” Korvias said with a toothy smile. He turned to Ayda, “I still have work that needs doing in the days to come. If you’re interested.”
Korvias’s constant smiling unnerved Ayda. It was suspicious. In her experience, people weren’t nice unless they were looking to manipulate others. She certainly needed the work however. “We can talk out the details tomorrow. I’m exhausted.” Without waiting for a response–she didn’t want to see the halfling’s smile again this day–she asked the innkeeper for a room key.
The Sword of Unquenchable Thirst is a +5 Chaotic (+2d6 damage against Lawful) longsword. The sword is intelligent and cursed. Yesterday’s fantasy writing prompts feature just such a sword; Leslie suggested that I use the sword for today’s roleplaying homebrewed weapon.
Charisma: 18 (+4)
Intelligence: 14 (+2)
Wisdom: 11 (+1)
The Sword of Unquenchable Thirst possess the soul of a Chaotic Evil entity that seeks to defeat and slay all things it encounters. However, it is aware that it needs a wielder and will safeguard the wielder to ensure that the cursed blade can continue to taste blood. In doing so, the sword grants the wielder certain privileges. These include the Improved Initiative feat, the ability to see Invisible at will, and as long as (s)he is wielding the sword, the PC does not have to breathe and is therefore unaffected by any such condition of drowning, suffocation, etc.
As the sword is cursed, the privileges bestowed are but one side of the coin. Anonymity comes to the wielder of the Sword of Unquenchable Thirst. No one knows the PC’s name or recognizes him/her. If the Player Character wishes to defy the blade’s thirst for blood, they must succeed on a Willpower Save of DC 20. The frequency of such checks is at the Dungeon Master’s discretion.
The Sword of Unquenchable Thirst speaks three languages: Common, Dwarven, and Abyssal.
This ring is bestowed upon the Player Characters (PCs) after completing the D&D Adventure Module: Undead Farm. Role-play the delivery depending on the outcome of the encounter with the Mother’s Spectre. If the PCs decided to defeat the spectre and the young necromancer, then the ring will be on the boy. If the PCs avoided combat in any way and work towards saving the child, the spectre will gift the ring to a PC. It’s up to the GM how much the PCs know about the ring.
The ring grants +2 to the wearer’s AC at all times.
However, the ring is intelligent and has its own purpose.
The ring is of Lawful Good alignment and communicates with the wearer in an empathic nature, the wearer can sense the emotions of the ring and understand its intentions. The ring is motivated by a single goal: the destruction of evil. The ring rejects all evil alignments and urges the wearer to destroy or slay those it encounters. To aid the wearer, the ring also grants two additional abilities. The wearer can see Invisible at will and use Detect Magic at will.
I’ve noticed that we haven’t really been doing a very good job of posting articles that fulfill the Life aspect of our Art. Stories. Life. mantra. The blog has already undergone many changes since we started in February. I’m sure many more changes will occur in the future. We will do our best to include more insight into who we are personally, beyond our art and stories. With that in mind, let us know if there is anything in particular you would like to know about either of us.
For starters, today is my (Justin) birthday! We will be having a Harry Potter themed birthday/Halloween party. If you are interested, pictures will find their way onto our social media accounts. To honor these past 27 years, I’ve decided to share with you all 27 lessons I have learned. Some of them I’m still working on implementing in my daily life. I hope you can find truth and inspiration in these life lessons.
1. Never Loan A Book You Can’t Live Without
This applies to anything and everything really. But I certainly learned the lesson the hard way with some books that I had to repurchase. When we bought the Hideaway last year, I was finally able to put all of my Star Wars books onto one shelf. The collection is not complete, but I’m still rather fond of it. Always be mindful that when you loan something out, you may not get it back for a long time, if at all.
2. Responsibilities Come First
It’s all too easy to get swept up by the things we love, which will feature pretty heavily throughout this list, but it is important to always make sure that your responsibilities are taken care first. Bills come before trips to the game/card store and even the bookstore. Now I am craving a trip to our local used bookstore.
3. Dream Big
This lesson continues from the previous quote. The quote comes from a respected former coworker and it means a lot to me. It is so very important to have dreams. No matter what they are. And while you’re already dreaming, why settle for small wishes? Dream big. I can’t wait to finish some stories and publish them for everyone to read. Whatever your dreams are, don’t let go of them. Chase them to the ends of the Earth and beyond.
4. Talk To Strangers
This one flies in the face of everyone’s advice while you were growing up. Be cautious, of course, because there are some sickos out there. But, think about it. All of your friends and coworkers, hell even most of your family members were strangers at some point. Talking to strangers is how you make new friends and connections. For the creative types, this is a necessary evil. And it’s terrifying. We have to put our creations and ultimately ourselves out there for as many people as possible. Starting this blog was a huge step for my wife and me. The road ahead is long, but there are plenty of strangers out there that we have yet to meet.
5. Life Is About Art
Art is really just how we strive to share who we are with others. It certainly is not easy, but it would be boring if it was. Write, draw, paint, dance, sing. Whatever art means to you, you owe it to yourself to express it and to share in it with the community. If you have yet to find your artistic release, surround yourself with other peoples’ creations. Don’t get hung up comparing yours to theirs (more on that later), just enjoy it and learn whatever lessons from it you can.
6. Don’t Grocery Shop Hungry
This one is very important for me. The obvious reason is that you are more likely to spend way more than you intended to when you went in in the first place. You start to ignore that shopping list and start eyeballing everything you want to shove in your face. But on another note, I am a very unpleasant person when I get hungry. Hanger is a very serious problem.
7. Life Is Too Short To Read A Bad Book
There are so many books in this world; it is beyond impossible to enjoy them all. That thought alone is utterly depressing on the surface. However, that means you have a plethora of choices available to you. If you’re reading a book that was recommended to you but you just can’t seem to enjoy, then it is time to put it down and find another book. Apologize to the friend if need be, but they will understand, or at least deal with it in their own way.
8. People Suck. A Person Is Good
This is one of those tough lessons to learn. If you’re like me, you want to see the good in people and give them the benefit of the doubt. On an individual/personal basis, a person is usually good natured. However, if that person has anonymity–rather from being a part of a larger group or hiding behind their internet connection–they, for some reason, become rude and mean spirited. This is why my wife and I have taken to running away from social gatherings and remaining in the safety of our Hideaway. But the point of this lesson is to give the individual the benefit of the doubt whenever possible. Remember #4: Talk to Strangers. They might surprise you.
9. Be Happy With Who You Are
For most, including myself, this will be the most difficult of the 27 lessons. If it isn’t already hard enough to be content with who you are, then you add in the fact that everyone’s personality is fluid. Who you are now isn’t the same as who you were last year or who you will be next year. So that’s where the answer can be found. If there is something about your life or yourself in general that upsets you, take the steps to improve now. A bonus lesson in this one that you’ve surely heard before: a bad day doesn’t mean a bad life. Take the time to find yourself and enjoy who you are.
10. Ask Questions
This is absolutely essential. Question everything. That’s how we learn and grow. If you are unsure about something, find someone with knowledge in that field, hit up the local library, or just log in to your preferred search engine. This leads to another of our lessons.
11. Doubt Everything You Read
While you are searching for the answers to all of life’s questions, keep this lesson in mind. Just because you have found a quick answer to your current question, doesn’t guarantee that it is the correct one. Find multiple sources and fact check as much as possible.
12. Know When To Give Up
This is a really tough one to discuss. I wanted to keep this list on a more uplifting path, but I struggle with maintaining a positive outlook in general. I’ll make this one more anecdotal. I spent over four years getting two degrees and amassing a mountain of student loan debt. Then spent a further three years pursuing job opportunities in that field. One day, I just decided that the path I was on wasn’t right for me. My current path sure has a long way to go, but I am much happier for making the change.
13. Learn To Say No
I can’t speak for everyone reading this, but I certainly get hung up on trying to please everyone. Trust me, that is a very effective way to stretch yourself thin and leave yourself emotionally and physically exhausted. Make sure you leave enough for yourself before seeing to everyone else’s needs.
14. Learn To Say Yes
Once you’ve kicked off those training wheels and learned how to say no, it’s time to remember that it is perfectly okay to still say yes. So really these two lessons should be about learning when to say yes and no. You have to find a balance. Too many yes’s will leave you drained but too many no’s will leave you isolated. Find your happy place somewhere in the middle.
15. Read Every Day
Few things give me inner peace like the pages of a good story can. Read for leisure and for study. For every fictional world that welcomes you to a home away from home, there are historical accounts and manuals to teach you new skills and lessons for whatever hope to attain in life. Read whenever possible, in all of your free time. And when that isn’t enough, set aside time to read. Our site has several bite-sized works of fiction and one day, I’ll have larger stories for you all to read.
16. Set Goals For Yourself
Once you have identified your biggest dream (from #3), then you are already on the right path. It’s important to know that the dream(s) will not happen over night. I’m a career procrastinator so when I set my mind to something, I like to see results within hours. I’m learning that is an impossible mindset for writing first drafts. Whatever your dream(s), set realistic goals for yourself. That way the huge looming threat is broken down into easy to defeat objectives.
17. Never Compare Yourself To Others
Doubt. It’s such an ugly word. You should be looking at other peoples’ creations for inspiration and motivation. You find someone has already written a story like yours? Then it’s time to mix some stuff up. But whatever you do, keep moving forward. There will always be someone that is more successful–however you personally define the word–than you, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. It means you need to get back to work and improve yourself.
18. Don’t Wait For The Perfect Timing
If you are waiting for the perfect moment for everything to make sense and come easy to you, you will be waiting for the rest of your life. Stop waiting. Make now the right time. A few pages of scribbled nonsense can be edited. A blank page can not. Persistence is better than hoping for inspiration. Get started now. Future you will be happy.
19. Always Be Honest
You don’t necessarily have to divulge all of your secrets to any and all strangers you encounter. In fact, it’s good to have your own secrets. But if you must choose between honest and dishonesty, always side with the truth. This will become considerably easier once you get the hang of numbers 13 and 14 on this list. And, above all, always be honest with yourself.
20. Show Compassion
Showing compassion or kindness for someone that has nothing to offer you in return, is the simplest thing you can do to brighten someone’s day. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own lives and push everything else to the side. It isn’t about who has it worse. Life isn’t a competition, we’re all in this together. Whenever possible, offer a hand to someone in need.
21. Life Isn’t Fair
This is one I was told fairly often as a child. I use to grumble and complain that my dad was just being a butt. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned just how valuable that lesson was to have in the early years of my life. It’s important to learn that life isn’t going to pull any punches. You have to work really hard to achieve the things you want in life. And since life really isn’t fair, there is no real guarantee that all of your hard work will pay off in the end. But you can bet you won’t get what you want without the work.
22. Cherish Alone Time
Rather you are an introvert, like Leslie and me, or an extrovert, you still need alone time from time to time. Being alone with your thoughts is essential to finding who you truly are and learning to be happy with yourself (#9). Separate yourself from the rest of the world and spend the time creating.
23. Cut Cable
This is a must unless your dreams include watching as much television as possible. It’s been over a year without cable for us at the Hideaway. Honestly, the only thing I miss is my daily dose of Jeopardy! And Les and I were once big fans of various sports. We occasionally watch a game or match online still, but you don’t realize how much time television is sucking up until it’s gone. There are plenty of options for streaming–we use Netflix–whatever you can’t live without. Plus, one less deduction in your monthly budget.
24. Tell Stories
This is really just an extension of the earlier comments on various forms of art. Write it, sculpt it, paint it, sing it, or just find someone to talk to. We all have stories to tell, you just need to find your medium. I recommend, whenever possible, getting in on a roleplaying game. Dungeons and Dragons is, of course, one of the best known, but there are hundreds of them. Someone you know plays or has played a roleplaying game. Since Les and I started playing D&D and Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars roleplaying game, I have noticed my creativity has loosened up quite a bit.
25. Learn Something New Everyday
This is one of the lessons that is relatively easy to do without much effort. We naturally learn from our surroundings. Despite that, I recommend putting in the extra effort and seeking out knowledge. Read a book or article on a subject you’ve always been curious about. Start studying a foreign language. Thirst for new knowledge.
26. Never Half-Ass Something
I’m certainly guilty of this. I get caught up in something that I want to do and without even realizing it, I’ve half-assed whatever task I was supposed to be focusing on. We live in a society that glorifies the ability to multitask. But, in reality, multitasking is just a fancy term for half-assing several things at one time. You really need to put in the extra effort to keep your focus on your current task. Once, it is complete, that leaves your full attention for the next project.
27. Always Be Yourself
If you have made it this far through my ramblings, you are an amazing individual. If you skipped through the headlines and happen to be reading this, you’re awesome too. We wanted to start this blog as a way to express ourselves honestly and in hopes of building a following of people that are genuinely interested in our current and future works. We hope that you–whoever you are–are enjoying life to its fullest and in a fashion that allows you to be completely comfortable with who are. Life is so much more enjoyable when you allow yourself the freedom of your own identity.