Screenshotting and Imagining

I recently installed ReShade for Elder Scrolls Online and have messed around with it a little bit. I’ve known about GShade for FFXIV and decided to give it a go this weekend and I absolutely love it!

A lot of filters come with it and a very active community constantly publishes more. I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg and spent more time—as I do—playing with Gpose and GShade than actually playing the game.

FFXIV has a lot of cut scenes during which I take screenshots. Especially when I start a new character so I can see how they’ll look in game and then decide if I want to continue working on them in character creation. I was going through screenshots from a new character cut scene and discovered a silly story.

Click/tap photos for full size.

My new Viera is headed for Ul’dah to start her new life.

She’s impressed by the forest… of stone.

Very impressed.

Lots and lots of stone…. makes sense. Ul’dah is surrounded by the desert.

Wait, what? Did that guy just “psst” me?

Can you imagine? He DID “psst” me!

And, yes. Viera start out with ridiculous outfits. According to lore, my Viera came from the Golmore Jungle. I guess that’s something a human bunny would wear in the jungle… [insert eye roll].

But… wait a minute… is that… ?!?!

*gasp* Could it be?

John Lennon?!?! Imagine that!

I told ya it was silly! 😋

The filter used during that cut scene was more washed out than I would have liked. But that’s just me learning GShade. Here’s a comparison demonstrating the difference it can make. Some people use a “gameplay” filter to adjust how their game looks at all times.

Gpose, the native photo tool in FFXIV.
GShade, using my first filter.

It’s pretty amazing. ReShade is fun to use in Elder Scrolls Online, but as far as I know you can’t freeze characters/scenes like you can with Gpose in FFXIV. Black Desert Online also has a native photo tool that freezes, but it’s not as user friendly—at least for me. Based on my experience, the screenshot/virtual photography tool set (Gpose + GShade + the amazing community) for FFXIV is unmatched.

This shot features a filter that came with GShade, and I adore it!

GShade, Lucid Dreaming filter by #AlmaStudio

Another example of the Lucid Dreaming filter:

Native Gpose
GShade, Lucid Dreaming filter by #AlmaStudio

I like how she turned out but I’m undecided about her name. She’s currently Vetrarros Dakini which roughly translates to “winter rose sky dancer.” I’m not loving it, and the naming convention lore is not helpful so back to my name docs and websites until I come up with a name I do love.

I hope you enjoyed the silly story. I find it interesting how it didn’t at all occur to me while the cut scene was playing. Perhaps I was too focused on my new GShade toy and taking screenshots to notice!

Back to Reality; Wrong Timeline?

I returned to full-time work nearly three months ago and was quickly reminded that time is a precious commodity.

I’m sorry. I haven’t kept up on your fun and wonderful blogs. Unfortunately, one of the first casualties in my efforts to manage limited free time is blogging; reading your great content and writing my own not so great content. 😉

While I haven’t been active here, I do think about y’all and your virtual adventuring. I hope each of you and the ones you love are doing ok.

With each passing day, I become more and more convinced that somewhere along the time continuum I, and those I love and all the good people and things of the world, slipped into the wrong timeline. (I remember reading Berenstein-with-an-e Bears as a kid.)

It feels like we are living in a sci-fi show imagined by someone in the 80s.

Regardless your position on any aspect of the coronavirus, it is affecting lives and livelihoods. I know we’ll get through this time of devastating loss of lives… and jobs… and the way things were. But it won’t be the same when we get there.

New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings. –Lao Tzu

I hope you are doing as well as can be in this weird and scary time. I genuinely hope you are spared the loss of loved ones. My sincerest and deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones. My heart goes out to you and your families.

Hang in there.

2019: The Year I Spent With Mom

Happy New Year to you! I hope you enjoyed the holidays and the new year has been good to you thus far.

This year marks a few major milestones in my life: 10 years since I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, 25 years since my daughter was born (my son is nearing 30 years old! 😲), and 30 years since my husband and I met.

2020 will also birth new beginnings: if all goes as planned, my husband and I will start a business together. I’ve been unemployed for one year and four months now. If I’m returning to work, I’d much rather run my own rat race. My husband and I have talked for years about running our own business and I very much hope this works out.

The past year is not at all how I expected a year off from work would have happened. All in all, and at my currently narrow perspective as the benefit of time has yet to provide an eagle eye view, I think 2019 will go down in my history as The Year I Spent With Mom and I’m very grateful for that.

Since October 2018, I saw my Mom about once a month. A weekend one month, the next month for a week, and 2–3 weeks some months. I’ve spent more time with her in the past year than the previous 5 years combined… maybe more.

My time with her gifted me with an internal reconciling and acceptance of my relationship with her—past, present, and future. My “mother issues” are healed and she has no idea, nor will she ever. In mid-December her neurologist said she has moderate Alzheimer’s Dementia. Regardless the diagnosis, she never would understand that I had “mother issues.”

Had I been working this past year, there is absolutely no way I would be in a better place with her and able to help and support her in the way that I now can.

Here are a few highlights from walks we took in December. Please excuse the poor quality of the duck photos; they were taken at 10x zoom. Mom loved those ducks!


Processed with VSCO with l6 preset

Processed with VSCO with l6 preset

Never Forget

I had the opportunity to see the 9/11 Memorial last year. We entered the Oculus from the subway and looking up, it felt like we were in a futuristic cathedral. The experience of just standing there and being in the space is hard to describe. I was awestruck and also felt an immediate emotional weight from the loss and devastation that had occurred where my feet stood. Unimaginable. Yet, it happened.

Every September 11 the glass ceiling opens and at 10:28 am—when the second tower fell in 2001— the sun shines brightest. Architectural Digest has a short clip of the architect, Santiago Calatrava, explaining.

I grabbed a few pics on my phone before we hurried off to catch our flights.



Walls of murals surround the exterior. Very New York.



The structure’s exterior looks out of place, clearly distinguishing it from the towering buildings on all sides. To me, it looks like a rib cage or a skeletal bird preparing to take flight.



I was sad we weren’t able to wander around and explore the area. I don’t know if I’ll ever be back. I was glad we saw it as we hadn’t planned on going at all. Stressing out about missing our flights was worth it.


Eighteen years ago, I was a conspiracy-minded younger version of myself. Now, well, with nearly 3 decades of adulting behind me I can say I’ve seen how life-changing tragedies such as 9/11 come and go. Memorials are put up, people not directly affected by it remember one day each year—while those who lost loved ones are reminded every day—new policies are put in place, and life marches on.

Even within the Oculus, life marches on. As a transportation hub, people are rushing about as they make for their next destination. It’s a bit surreal, from a tourist’s perspective I suppose, to see hurried lives passing through without pausing or even looking up in awe.

You get used to a thing that’s always there and take it for granted. A building, a memorial, a loved one.

While Never Forget reminds us of the tragedy and horrific loss of life, perhaps it can also remind us to pause, pay attention, and not forget the things and people we take for granted.

Hug your loved ones today. Hug them tomorrow. Hug them as often as you can.


Throwback to the Worst Day of My Life

One year ago today, I was laid off. Half of my department was laid off.

Three weeks prior, I celebrated my 20-year anniversary.

It was unexpected. It was executed poorly. I cried.

Even as I attempt to write about it, I am still affected by it. Maybe I’m not as prepared to write about it as I thought I was, but I’ll keep going and see what comes out. I feel this may be cathartic in some way.

I know this happens to many people. And to some, multiple times over the course of their career. I still felt devastated by it, and consider it to be the worst day of my life. Which is probably why it was devastating… if being laid off from a place I worked for 20 years has been the worst of it, perhaps my life has been relatively easy.

And I think that’s true. Things have come easy for me. I haven’t really fought for anything I wanted in my life. I learned to expect things to come easily for me. I can see it now, reflected in how I haven’t finished many things I started. If it didn’t come naturally, or easily, I would eventually quit.

It’s reflected here in my blog. An unfinished 365 Photo Project, an incomplete Journey to Wellness… there’s so many things that, had I focused on and powered through to completion, I could be really good at right now.

At least I think so. This is where reflection can go wrong. What if your analysis results in the wrong conclusion? I suppose that’s part of living and being a human being. Learning from mistakes, making well intentioned “corrections,” learning from those mistakes, yada yada yada, and on and on we go.

The past year has been something of a sabbatical from what my life was. I haven’t returned to work. I unplugged from work-related people and social media. I gained weight and a personal understanding of depression.

I’m also gaining a better understanding of myself… my true and whole self; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Discarding the identities I’ve tried to live and discovering my authentic self is not coming easily. As I’m writing, I’m actually realizing—I did say this may be cathartic!—that this is all coming together.

Lack of a coherent sense of identity will lead to uncertainty about what one wants to do in life.

Source: Basics of Identity, Psychology Today

I have no idea what I want to do. It seems ridiculous that a person my age doesn’t know their authentic self, their life passion, and what they want to do.

I mean, I’d love to be a painter, but do I own any paint? Can I make a living at it? Ugh.

Figuring this stuff out is hard and overwhelming. It’s not coming easily so I quit. I’m sure my future self would like a word with me.

So, yeah. One year ago today was devastating. And as much as it hurt, it needed to happen. It was unexpected… an unexpected gift and opportunity.

Two Years, Three Months, Four Days

That’s how long it’s been since I last posted! It’s crazy how quickly time flies, and how easy it is to lose track of time. Life has drastically changed for me, and I am changing as well (don’t we all!). I look forward to sharing with y’all, but I’ll get into it another time.

Right now I’m removing the cobwebs from this place and wiping away the dust, checking all the light bulbs, tapping the microphone, and saying hello… anyone here?

Before I go, I want to share a super cool thing I did last year. I spent two weeks in Sweden with my daughter! We met many Swedish relatives and saw the house where my Great-Grandma grew up.

Ok then, until next time.

2016’s One-Word Resolution Review

I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. Not many of us are! Sure, I made them and, like most everyone else, had forgotten them by March. In 2014, I came across the One-Word Resolution concept where you choose a word that will help guide you throughout the year. It’s generally a word that describes who you want to be, not what you want to do, e.g., “commit” instead of “lose weight.” The word can apply to many areas of your life.

I was excited about this concept because as each year passed, I felt like my life was living me. At the end of the year, I wanted to look back and see that I developed new habits and made progress. I chose “discipline” for 2015. It ended up like a resolution; forgotten by March. I think the word’s negative connotation was too strong for me. It just wasn’t the right word.

For 2016, I chose “explore” with the intent to literally go out and explore new places. Instead, I ended up exploring myself. I did visit a few places, but I thought I had failed once again. Looking back at my “brain dump” journal entries throughout the year, I was able to see the word manifest itself differently than I had intended. Without the journal, which was a new thing I wanted to do for myself, I wouldn’t have this documentation as reference. Where “exploring” took me in 2016:

  • Self-reflection leads to self-regulation (the importance of journaling). Without it, you stay stuck in the mud.
  • I was surprised to learn that I have a martyr complex. Fun stuff! The aspect of a “martyr complex” that resonates with me is as a way of life and, specifically, refusing “to accept responsibility for the decisions and choices that have caused them pain or suffering.” Interestingly, I think I’ve been attempting to accept these traits as who I am and try to work with them. That’s not the person I want to be!
  • I DO emotionally eat!
  • I’m pretty sure I’m a viking. I’m 1/4 Swedish and 1/4 English. My wishful thinking wants the English part to be more Nordic than Anglo-Saxon. Someday I’ll take one of those genetic tests to know for sure! After watching the third season of Vikings in February 2016, I became convinced I’m a viking (who didn’t after watching that show?!) and wrote a journal entry that basically sums up the essence of what 2016 taught me; an ongoing theme throughout the year. Here’s an excerpt:

I cannot care what others think.* I read too many things that say to do this or that and its all been mucking about in my mind and thoughts, creating chaos and keeping clarity from me.

I must be reborn, shed my old ways of thinking and be true to who I am, as I reclaim knowledge of self. This must come from within me as no matter of incredibly insightful articles or personal testimony can move me in the right direction. I must do it myself, with a spirit of thanks, gratitude, and openness.

This will not be a quick fix. Just as I cannot lose 20 pounds in a week, I cannot be immediately changed and arrived at a final destination. There is no final destination, only the journey along a path that may or may not be determined by some deity or universal power. Regardless, the path is mine and mine alone and only I can discover it. **

It is not important what I should be doing or what my passion is… maybe it will be at some point in the future. But not now. It is distracting trying to figure that out without truly understanding myself. However, it is important to understand and appreciate that, like the journey, who I am will never be complete. I merely need to begin living true to myself and the rest will unfold.

* Being considerate of others and caring what they think are two very different things.
** One life. Do not care what others think of how you live it.

I expected that, at the ripe age of 45, I would have this mastered. I feel like I’m Leo the Late Bloomer and am just now waking up to myself. For 20 years I set myself aside while my two kids grew up. I was always worrying about what other people might think, how they might judge me, us. My understanding of how people label one another and box each other up paralyzed me. If you are a parent, don’t do that! If  you aren’t a parent, don’t do that!

To be fair, perhaps it takes 20 years of adulting to begin to truly understand oneself.

Ok, so this is getting long. I’d like to finish up by highlighting some pretty incredible things I did in 2016. The first was researching my 18-year job history, updating my resume, and proposing a new position for myself. Guys, I can’t tell you how huge this was for me! It ranked up there with one of the things I would regret not doing, so I did it! I’m still waiting on the final offer and am prepared to negotiate.

The other thing is starting a 365 Project. I’ve loved photography for many years and its been an on/off again hobby. On December 1, 2016, I attended a gallery show opening for a photographer I follow on Instagram. Patricia Lay-Dorsey is a woman in her 70s, she has multiple sclerosis, uses a wheelchair to get around, but most importantly she’s an amazing person and an inspiration. During her talk, one thing she said that really stuck with me was “trust your gut.” So upon returning to my office and while waiting for my husband to pick me up, I decided I would start my project right then and there, and I haven’t missed a day!

Which brings me to my one-word resolution for 2017: Gut(s). After mulling over three different words since November, I was suddenly struck with GUT about a week ago. For me, it means three different things and I do love words with layered meaning.

  • Heal my gut.
    • With each bite, does it heal my gut?
  • Trust my gut.
    • With each decision, does it feel right?
  • Have the gut(s).
    • Basically the equivalent of “just do it!”

I love this word and am very excited about how it will shape things this year. Do you have a one-word resolution? Or any resolutions at all?

And if you read through all that and got this far, thank you. You deserve a cookie!

Star Trek’s Importance and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Why ‘Star Trek’ was so important to Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. convinced Nichelle Nichols to not leave Star Trek because her portrayal of Lt. Uhura represented in pop culture what the civil rights movement was fighting for.

Word/language geek trivia: Uhura is derived from the Swahili word uhuru, which means “freedom.” Uhuru was also the title of a book Nichols had with her the day she read for the part.

So much about humanity many of us learned from Star Trek, without realizing the importance of it as children. I have no doubt my love for sci-fi, specifically stories that take place in the future, is because that is often the only place where everyone is truly equal. Star Trek showed us how things should be, and gave us hope.

It also highlights the importance of positive role models in pop culture and positions of leadership. Children learn, without knowing what they are learning, from watching and observing. Their perception of the world, its possibilities, and their role/place in it is influenced by what they see.

I do not envy the job parents have of teaching their children that while the leader of our country says and does the things he says and does, it is not ok for them or anyone else to behave in that manner.

Summer Unvacation Report

Hey y’all. I’m trying something new – posting directly from my phone! It’s been decades since my last summer vacation report, so why not try it out using photos taken over the summer?

But first, I’m not sure I can claim my summer was without a vacation. I took a few days off after a business trip in the middle of September. Does that count as summer? It sure felt like summer. Ninety-degree weather in Washington DC is no joke!

It was my first time in my country’s capital city and it was amazing. I didn’t see enough and will return one day.

The Washington Monument

The Washington Monument towering in the sunset.

Mount Vernon

George Washington’s house at Mount Vernon.

Oyamel in DC

We saw President Obama leaving this restaurant!


Me and my four chins in front of the smaller then expected White House.

I worked hard this summer. My free time during July was spent researching my 18-year job history at my company and creating a new job proposal for myself. Wish me luck!

In August I had to do something to get out and my soul told me to go to the coast. I took a day trip and it was exactly what I needed.

Manzanita, Oregon

Happy soul at the Oregon coast!

My Mom sold her home and is staying with a friend while looking for a new place of her own in a part of the state she loves. She asked me to come visit. Normally I would say no during such a busy time, but I didn’t.

I had a dose of the coast, now I could have one of the high desert too (I live in the valley). And knowing my Mom, I knew we’d get a hike in and it was glorious!

An alpine lake near Sisters, Oregon

Looking at this pic of me looking at the lake relaxes me. 🙂

While most WoW players were enjoying Legion, I was working 10-12 hour days in the final days leading up to my company’s annual meeting, and then 16-20 hour days during the 4-day event. (I got a dose of Warcraft during my flight home from DC. I opted to pay $10 for the movie device and watched the WoW movie!)

Mama Druid at Dinner Event

Tired me at dinner event held at the Smithsonian.

I’m grateful for my #RL adventures and am inspired to continue having them, but I really look forward to adventuring in digital worlds soon.

I’m working another meeting in Chicago at the end of October. This next month will be crazy busy! I’m glad I participated in beta as it gave me a satisfying taste of Legion that’s holding me over until I can truly enjoy it a few months from now.

Until then, I’ll live vicariously through y’all.

Ta Ta!

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. Sometimes I wish I never 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.