On Starting Over

I’ve held onto this idea that unsubscribing my main, 11-year old account and starting a shiny brand new account would be fun and awesome. A blank slate! No pets, mounts, toys, heirlooms, or achievements. My super shiny new characters would have absolutely nothing but the clothes on their back.

Such a great idea!

I finally tried it. I unsubbed my main account and had about half a month of playing time left. I created a new account. First name: Mama. Last name: Druid. Brand new identity. Yes! This is going to be awesome.

This was during the Thanksgiving holiday sale so I went ahead and upgraded to Warlords, which included a level 90 boost. Hmmm… I’ll ignore that. My son and daughter-in-law (DIL) started playing, each a pet class (frost mage and warlock) so I decided to play another pet class – hunter – because how awesome we’ll all be together. And we were all trolls – ya mon! Without heirlooms, leveling is still pretty quick, especially once you hit 15 and can start using LFG.

Apparently tweaking my lower level alts is now ingrained in me. That, and curiosity got the best of me. I boosted a level one Undead hunter to 90, primarily to try it out on a new account and to run through dungeons to get better gear for my original character who really didn’t need it anyhow.

The level 90 boost is pretty cool. I didn’t know a tutorial had been added to the Warlords starting area in Tanaan for boosted 90s. But, as a boosted 90, you can’t skip it (I tried via the secret entrance to Draenor) because you start without your spells and have to progress through the starting area to get them. Well, you can skip it but I don’t know if there’s another way to get your spells.

A few days pass and it occurs to me I can now create a Death Knight (DK)!  I’m slowly catching up to my son and DIL, but I’ll be closer if I create a DK. Oh, and ummm… if I transferred gold from my main account I could buy a few heirlooms for the DK. So I did that. I got really close to them; 65 to their 67s!

At some point in here I decide I should see what boosting a level 100 is like. So I do that. I boost a level one Tauren druid – a feral druid just like the Mama Druid, my solitary 100 on the main account – and experience the joy of insta-level 3 garrison… which has a menagerie. But I don’t have any level 25 pets on the new account. But I know who does.

See where I’m going with this? Can you smell the fail in the air at this point?

Back to the main account, which conveniently has an insta-25 stone for any pet. I transfer all tradeable pets, the stone, and more gold… rationalizing that transferring seed monies and (all?) the pets is ok. Why, I do not know. It made sense to me at the moment!

This doesn’t last long. My shiny new account is now tainted with the stain of my true colors. I’m addicted to the convenience of having all the things… not that my main account has much, but time is money, friends!! And clearly I can’t maintain boundaries and self-imposed limitations. I mean, really, why should I when I have an 11-year old account?

New account unsubbed. Resubbed to main account.

Crazy lady with her crazy ideas has been subdued and locked away.

“The dark times will pass.”
—Random Blood Elf NPC

Update: Warcraft, ESO, and Me

I have a habit of posting declarations I fully mean to commit to but never do. And then I put off posting because I’m no longer doing the thing I declared in a recent post.

I’m not meeting the expectations I have of myself as a wannabe blogger. It’s probably time to stop making those declarations, drop those expectations, and just post stuff. There’s so many things I could post! But all the ideas get clogged up in my “thoughtstream,” which becomes a soupy lake and the wonderful ideas get all murky and stuck and don’t go anywhere.

So, I’ll just let it be and post stuff.

Warcraft Update

I resubbed to WoW after a 7-month break. I have been enjoying myself playing the Mama Druid. I’m not sure how I leveled her to 100 as there is so much incomplete content to do. All zones except for Shadowmoon Valley are incomplete. I think I just focused on garrison building with a little questing on the side.

So now I’m using the Draenor Pathfinder as my activity guide. While I understand it’s a way for the devs to ensure all players experience the leveling content, it’s super annoying. It’d be nice if there were perks for accounts that have been playing since Vanilla. We’ve been through so much, just give us permanent flying dagnabbit! Newer players would understand, right?

Most days I only have time to maintain my garrison and do the daily assault, and maybe one of the Tanaan daily assaults. It will be some time before Mama can stretch her feathers and let the Draenor winds guide her above the treetops. Hopefully before the next expansion.

The other day I followed my Tiny Snowman in my garrison. I was surprised to see him out and about (isn’t he afraid of melting?) and was even more surprised by his behavior. At each stop he made, he would pause and then quickly tip his hat. What a fun surprise! I’m curious to see if any other pets do anything interesting while exploring the garrison.


ESO Update

I haven’t played ESO for more than a month now. I love that game, but really have a hard time focusing on one character. I’m getting to the point of letting go of my character ideas and just leveling my highest level (an Imperial Templar in her early 40s) simply to finish experiencing the story part of the game.

Personal Update

Empty Nest

By Virginia State Parks staff (WE Empty Nest Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons


This year has been interesting for me with a definite theme of self discovery/understanding. I think I put myself on hold while working and raising our kids. Now that they are out of the house I guess my focus and energy is now available for myself. It’s really weird and feels very awkward.

For me, the empty nest syndrome is not one of feeling sad because my children are gone. I am so very happy for them and have really enjoyed getting to know them as adults. Neither of us were saddened by the inevitable. After all, the whole point of raising a child is to prepare them for leaving and beginning their own lives. For me, the empty nest syndrome is one of “well, what now?” While preparing my kids to start their own lives, I had forgotten to prepare myself for what I would do once they left. Maybe there’s a different “syndrome” for this, but it took me by surprise and I suppose I’m now beginning to recover (my youngest is a junior in college) and attempting to refocus.

I have been putting more energy into work, making it matter more than ever before. But I’m not sure that’s the solution. I think I’ll just continue down this path of discovering my empty nester self and see where it takes me.

Settling in for the long haul…

Introducing Zahra al-Nayyir, Redguard “Celestial” Druid

Zahra al-Nayyir, Redguard healer

Meet Zahra. She’s a Redguard healing Templar in the Ebonheart Pact. I have always enjoyed playing nature-type characters, usually druids, but there isn’t a playable class like this in the Elder Scrolls Online (ESO). There are NPCs—The Wyresses—who seem to be nature-type characters, but the abilities they display aren’t available to players. So I’m creating my own, using the skills available to me. Interestingly, there are skills similar to a balance druid in World of Warcraft; celestial type skills from the sun and stars.

Using character sheets from The ESO Roleplay Community, I came up with some basic information about Zahra. This is the first time I have developed an online character in this way and I’m really quite excited about it. While I don’t plan to openly roleplay (RP), thinking about and developing WHO my character is has added depth and meaning. This is certainly nothing new to experienced RPers. For me, choosing to focus on one character brought out the desire to make playing the character more meaningful.

Physical Appearance

Zahra is tall and thin. Her dark reddish-skin easily identifies her as a Redguard. Her broad shoulders and the black body paint on her neck creates the illusion of enhanced height and portrays a quiet strength. Her long limbs are often dusty and dirt can usually be seen under her fingernails.

Having spent some time with the Nords, she incorporated their way of dress (fur-lined clothing for warmth). I like to think of her gear looking something like this:

Her kind eyes are bright and smile at others on their own. Set against her dark skin, they can sometimes look like twin setting suns. Zahra’s dark reddish brown hair is shaved on each side to lighten the load of bearing heavy long dreads that are gathered down the middle of her head and upper back. Beads and leather ties are scattered down the length of each dread to help keep them in place.

Zahra wears loose-fitting clothing for ease of movement as she spends most of her time outside. Comfort and functionality is of the utmost importance and she can often appear a little messy. Visible to onlookers are several pouches in which she carries gathered plants. A small fox is seen trailing behind her.

Visual References

A collection of images I put together on Pinterest when thinking about what Zahra might look like. Some of the images represent how her younger self, varied methods of dress, and even her older self might look.


While appearing quiet, or even shy to some, Zahra’s mind is constantly at work observing and perceiving her surroundings and those around her. She listens, and learns more about others than they may know of themselves.

Zahra relishes being alone, especially in the wilderness amongst the varied natural settings of Tamriel. She doesn’t go out of her way to avoid being around others as it’s required to learn and do the things she wants. In fact, she offers help and support to those in need, whether it’s the sick and dying or a group of adventurers on a mission. She simply requires time alone to recharge after expending her mental, and magical, energies in the company of others.

She manages close relationships with a handful of people, wherever she happens to be when she’s staying somewhere for a long period of time. She doesn’t care to be known and purposely maintains a low profile wherever she goes… as best she can, that is. Zahra can’t help but stand out in some places, attracting the curiosity of locals. She does her best to minimize her presence when visiting new places.


Zahra’s father died in Wayrest when she was young. Her mother returned Zahra and her twin sister, Zoraya, to Hammerfell. Her mother used her knowledge of plants to make a living travelling the desert in search of water bearing plants or potential oases and returning/reporting her finds to interested parties in the cities. The three would often travel alone or join up with other nomadic families and groups.

Their mother shared with them the basics of knowing what plants to look for, how to read the shifting sandy landscape, and the secrets different plant formations told the trained eye. Zahra loved bringing the plants she collected to the mages and tailors when they’d stop and stay at the cities. While her mother taught her the basics of identifying plants, the mages taught her a few of their magical properties and how they could be combined to create powerful potions.

Desert life was rough, although Zahra didn’t appreciate this as a child. It was always a special treat when they encountered Dwemer ruins—all those strange gears and little pots containing surprises for the twin girls! The sand was mesmerizing, shifting in whichever direction the wind blew. The stars at night were beautiful and served as a source of many bedtime stories. Fascinated by the many different types of people they’d come across, Zahra developed a deep respect for their different ways of living. Especially those suffering from hardship; she became drawn to them.

In their late teens, Zoraya fell ill (affected by the Knahaten Flu, but they didn’t know at the time) and as they were heading to a city to find a healer they were caught in a sandstorm. The minor healing potions Zahra had made did not help and her twin sister died. Zahra chose to believe that if she had known healing magic she could have saved Zoraya. She vowed to learn from the mage’s in the cities.

Zahra continued travelling the desert with her mother and when in the cities she spent time training with the mages, learning the schools of restoration and illusion, and practicing by mending and healing the sick in the infirmaries and temples. Illusion was practiced in the city streets, usually to hide and be unseen… and pick the occasional pocket.

During her mage guild visits, Zahra would sometimes overhear discussions about relics and tomes scattered throughout the land. Sometimes she’d witness guild expeditions being sent off to find one. She was most interested in learning more about Dwemer ruins and surmised that Morrowind had a good amount of them and determined that when her mother passed she would make her way there.


Zahra is now in Morrowind, having spent some time with the Nords in Bleakrock. She loved the snow as it reminded her of the sands back home. Eventually, she’d like to settle down in a Nord village. Until then, the mushrooms of Morrowind call, the fascinating cultures and stories of the Ebonheart Pact beckon, and the Dwemer ruins await her discovery.

General Information

Nickname: She uses her deceased twin sister’s nickname—Aya, modified from Zoraya—in impermanent situations where she doesn’t want to reveal her own name, but perceives others require an assurance of familiarity.
Age: Unknown. Judging by the few wrinkles on her face, she’s in her late 30s or early 40s.
Birthsign: Unknown.
Profession: Alchemist, Enchanter, Cook

Key Sources

Zahra al-Nayyir, Redguard Druid

Time, the Cure for Altitis

For too long I have wanted to do all the things in whichever game I play. A big part of what appeals to me about MMOs is the ability to try so many different things.

Take WoW for example, I had lists of things I wanted to try:

  • one character of each race
  • one character of each class
  • one hunter of each race
  • one character of each class spec
  • one character for each letter of the alphabet (serious and sad)

I managed a few spreadsheets to plan and map it all out. It never happened. In 10 years of WoW, I completed zero of these lists.

Time happened.

Yet, when I started playing SWTOR, I did the same thing; mapped out characters and specs and professions and, oh my!

Time still happened.

And yet again, when I started playing Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) the spreadsheets came out and all the planning and mapping happened.

Ok time, I get it. I don’t have enough of you. Geez!

So this time—hur hur—I am scrapping my altoholic compulsions and trying my hardest to focus on one character in each game (WoW, SWTOR, and ESO), but…

…time is still happening.

So one character in one game and that game—for now, because I might be wishy washy and fear this may not stick—that game is ESO. That one character will be a druid because I love them so much.

What’s that you say? There aren’t druids in ESO? Well, that’s the beauty of ESO. You can pretty much build whatever character you want using one of four base classes. Also stealing. It’s beautiful.

Thank you time. Thank you for the limitations your limited supply put on me. I thrashed about not wanting to accept it far too long. I can’t do all the things. I just can’t.

That’s all the time (stahp!) I have for a post. Here’s a preview of Zahra al-Nayyir, my Redguard “Celestial” Druid.*

Zahra al-Nayyir, Redguard Druid

* WIP, utilizing celestial type spells in ESO inspired by the Warcraft’s balance druid (but not a moonkin). She even has a story for RP-in-my-mind stuff!

Chair in afternoon sun

Resolving Online Identity Issues

For years I comfortably interacted with others on the Internet using nicknames, as most everyone did back then. I’ve been online since 1995: teaching myself to code html, taking online virtual classes, participating in discussion forums (Usenet, e.g., alt.parenting). I’ve built websites for myself and others; setup, hosted, and administered php forums; engaged in heated political discussions on gaming forums, and participated in “photoshop battles” with people across the world.

I miss those days.

Nowadays, you have to be very careful about what online activities you associate to your real name as you can count on it being logged in some database somewhere and/or becoming available via search.

I work in marketing communications and there’s a big emphasis on developing your personal brand so that when people search your name they can find content that demonstrates who you are and what you do; enhancing your “likability” factor for the benefit of establishing authenticity and credibility for whatever endeavor you want to promote. Let the online content you have carefully curated speak for itself so you don’t have to do all the explaining.

It’s like a bunch of people floating about on a large lake each in their own rowboat, waiting for the fish to jump in their boat. Whomever can shine the brightest will catch the most fish.

What I loved about the Internet when I started using it in 1995, and for many years thereafter, was the accessibility of information and the ability to learn and share with others. It’s become more challenging to interact this way online as much content is locked behind “identity gates” where you are required to provide your name and email address to access their content. You pay for information with your identity and most likely being added to a database; you are now a data point.

I came across this tweet when searching twitter to see what people are saying about “internet identity.” I’m a sucker for conspiracy theories, so it makes sense to me that the “brand yourself” movement is supported and promoted by companies and organizations that benefit from Big Data.Plant reflected in mirror

I bought into this for awhile, and sorta tried it, but I don’t need fish and it’s never felt right to me. I think it’s because I am sensitive to how people label and judge others using tidbits of personal information without ever really knowing the person they are neatly boxing up. I expected to become less sensitive with age. My younger self didn’t care as much as I do now. I think it’s because she hadn’t yet experienced being judged, labelled, boxed, and put on a shelf for others to make sense of the aspects of her life she loved.

  • “Race” – My husband and I look very different from one another. We have children. I know people, including family members, watch, observe, and make judgements about us and what we do based on their pre-conceived notions of and personal experiences with “race.” (“Race” in quotes because I believe the human race is the only race on this planet.) It’s worse when it comes from family members.
  • Lifestyle – I do not share with others that I play video games, although it’s been part of my life since I was a kid. It’s bizarre to me that people judge other people’s lifestyle choices, whether your hobby is playing video games, or if you love people of the same gender, or as a Mother who looks forward to going to work.
  • Health – I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in 2010, which greatly enhanced my awareness of others’ judging and labeling. I abhor being asked how my autoimmunity is doing. I should never have told anyone.

I suppose it’s human nature, a rudimentary nature at that and one I can’t escape at times, for us to make sense of our own worlds by labeling others based on our personal experiences and understanding. It’s so prevalent, that I’m certain every single person has been affected by people, including loved ones, applying a label in order to make sense of their own worlds… becoming insensitive for the sake of making sense. Ha!

I know I shouldn’t care, but I do.

In fact, the marketing communications part of me could benefit from sharing personal aspects of myself for the express purpose of making “deeper” connections in the work world. The truth of it though, I think I’m afraid to be further disappointed by people trying to make sense of their worlds.

For now, and maybe forever, I’ll be my authentic self online as Mama Druid. I’m really quite excited about this as it provides me with a sense of relief and I can be at peace when adventuring online with this identity.

Wandering Isle Ocean View

Musings of an Unsubbed Barely Gamer

The last of my monthly subscriptions ended last week. I didn’t initiate it, but I didn’t correct it. The credit card I setup for monthly Elder Scrolls Online payments was discontinued by the bank and the charge didn’t go through. I didn’t set it up on the new card. And with that, I am completely free to play. I haven’t touched Star Wars: The Old Republic in months; I logged in maybe twice in the past year and didn’t stay long. I cancelled WoW in March 2015. Since then, I have logged in a few times to play the trial version.

I enjoy playing each of these games. The benefits a subscription provides with each either no longer appeals to me or does not apply to me now. WoW is the only one that appeals to me as it’s the only way you can play a character beyond level 20. The other two, ESO and SWTOR – well, I have played each since they launched and have yet to play a character to the max level. That says much more for SWTOR because it’s been around longer than ESO. I’m not sure what it says about ESO.

Thinking about why this has happened, I’m not sure there’s a singular reason. In all three games, I no longer have friends or family that play. There never were many friends or family anyhow, and I used to happily play alone. Perhaps the excitement of exploring a new world has worn off? The same gaming elements persist in all three:

  • level by questing, different story/same methods
    • go get x of y, kill x of y, talk to him/her, sabotage this/that… it has to be done, how else would you level, how else can game designers tell the stories?
  • all the grinding, for crafting/profession materials, for reputation to get things or access to things
    • and apparently in WoW, to receive the hard-earned and high cost previously paid for flying – WTF? Did they forget what vanilla players had to go through, especially druids for flight form? Aren’t there flying creatures in Draenor? How does Pepe get around in the garrison?
  • game designers setting things up to force you to do things they want you to (e.g., state of flying in WoW)
  • play a dps spec to level and then learn how to heal at max level – why is this still a thing?
    • to be fair, I think WoW may be the worst culprit – both SWTOR & ESO provide dps options while leveling in a healer spec

From game to game, and after so many years, it blurs together and the excitement of a new world begins to wear off sooner than before. It’s all a game of carrot and stick masked in pretty pixels.

Playing video games has increasingly become a smaller part of my life. Maybe I’ve finally become too old for it, or the adventure of real life has won me over.

I’m not sure it’s important that there is a reason. It just is what it is. I don’t play as much. I don’t see a reason to subscribe, at this time. I am currently playing a free WoW account with the thought that I may upgrade it and subscribe. I do like to experience the expansions. But I might experience the next one on a new account. Afterall, WoW is not the same game I started playing nearly 11 years ago. I’m not the same person. My old account is bloated and the way I played it is no longer compatible with who I am now.

Now, I am slowing down, as the Pandaren say, and enjoying the views.

Wandering Isle Ocean View

Wandering Isle Ocean View

And having some fun playing a new class: Monk.

Playing with the ancient water spirit, Shu.

Playing with the ancient water spirit, Shu.

We’ll see where this goes.

My Instant Gratification Monkey Must Die

I did not know I have an Instant Gratification Monkey until yesterday, when I was procrastinating doing work at work and came across an illuminating article that told me why I procrastinate. I can’t even remember how I got there. It was such an amazing epiphany that I just had to share it with others who may need to know about their monkey.

Do you have one?

The Instant Gratification Monkey Made Me Not Do It (But don’t let it keep you from reading this!)

Procrastinators love planning, quite simply because planning does not involve doing, and doing is the procrastinator’s Kryptonite.

According to the illuminating article—which you must read and I know you will because you are already procrastinating right this very minute, so what’s one more thing to keep you distracted from the thing you should be doing?—an Instant Gratification Monkey lives in the brain of a procrastinator. It can be distracted with High Self-Esteem Bananas. But that’s not good enough. I want my monkey permanently gone. I don’t want to be a procrastinator. I don’t want a permanent condition that requires me to constantly battle my brain monkey.

How can I kick the monkey out of my brain, forever? I don’t know. I do know that within 24 hours of gaining a newfound understanding of why I procrastinate, I already started making changes.

I typically do not schedule meetings early in the morning because I like wiggle room for potential late arrivals. Well, I’ve been taking advantage of that wiggle room and have had the best intentions to tighten up my schedule. I have not been successful. With my shiny new monkey awareness, I scheduled a few early morning meetings so that I have to arrive at work when I said I would. Granted, I may be “summoning” the Panic Monster. But considering to change my own unwritten rule, and acting on it, was certainly a very important “Ah ha, I get it!” moment.

I would say another win was writing this post instead of playing WoW. But I can’t. I couldn’t log in last night! Thanks for helping me out with my monkey Blizzard.

Soooo… perhaps the solution for permanently getting rid of Instant Gratification Monkey will be found in consistently making small changes. Five years from now, I’ll forget I ever had one! So that’ll be December 2, 2019. I should save a draft for that day.

But, I procrastinate blogging for so many silly reasons. To correct this, I have given my monkey notice that I’m calling the shots with this one. I want to write. I want to write in a place where I can talk about anything and Mama Druid affords me that opportunity. I’ll use this space to practice writing… with my monkey happily enjoying a High Self-Esteem Banana in the distance.

If you discovered you have a monkey, what did you name it? I named mine Pat. I don’t know if it’s a girl or boy.