stella from spiritfarer hugging gwen from spiritfarer on a small boat with daffodil the cat on red water

July Joy!

This week, I wanted to share a list of things that have made me happy and that I’m grateful for the past month. I’m currently in the midst of a depressive episode, and that can make it challenging to see the brighter side of life. 

On an unrelated note, I’ve also been working on cultivating a gratitude practice. I have so many things to be grateful for, but I forget them so frequently! A regular gratitude practice would be really awesome for me. So join me in celebrating some of the things that are worth taking a moment to show gratitude for.

Although I called this post “July Joy,” I honestly don’t think this will be a monthly curated list, but I’m still excited to share with you all the things that are making my life worth living (and I love alliteration). But who knows? Maybe I’ll share my gratitude practice here each month and we can all celebrate what we’re grateful for together. Either way, here we go!

The Sounds of Spiritfarer

Spiritfarer is one of my absolute favourite video games ever. If you want a game with bright colors, not too much technical gameplay, and deep themes, Spiritfarer could be one of your favorites, too. I am so enamored with this game, and someday I will probably write an entire post about it. Sometime over the summer, they’ll be releasing a new update, and I am SO FREAKING EXCITED FOR IT.

But for the sake of this post, one of the things that I love most about this game is the beautiful soundtrack. For a game that deals with heavy themes like death, you know the soundtrack had to be beautiful and otherworldly, and boy did they nail it. When I found the soundtrack last month, I started listening to it every day while I worked. The majority of the songs don’t have any lyrics, so it’s a pretty ideal soundtrack to work to. However, after a while, the soundtrack wasn’t enough for me. The songs were comforting, but not as comforting as playing the game itself. So this month I found this 16-hour playthrough of the game to listen to instead, and I love it. The person playing doesn’t add any voice over, so the playthrough is truly just watching the game happen. Every morning, I open the YouTube tab, set the video to picture-in-picture so that the video stays on my screen no matter which app I’m using, and I go about my work. The characters in the game don’t actually speak words even when there is dialogue so there’s nothing to distract me much, just comforting sounds from a game that I adore. It makes my workdays 100% better.

The Game of Life

Dan and I are always on the lookout for fun games to play on our Nintendo Switch (the Mario games and Wheel of Fortune are some of our favorites). A few weeks ago, The Game of Life popped up as a new game recommendation, and it has proven to be a fun little game for us. The graphics are colorful and whimsical, and we love to get overly competitive over a children’s game. We trash talk and joke around while traveling the most colorful game board using avatars dressed like classic movie monsters. 

Plus, he always likes to give me crap about not choosing the “marriage” route on the board, instead choosing to remain single the entire time. Oh, and for children, you can choose to have pets instead, which obviously suits me much better. Overall, having a new fun game to play together has helped to brighten my mood!

Making It

I could be wrong, but I feel like so few people have heard about this show and it. Is. Amazing. 

In case I’m right and you don’t know what it is, Making It is a competition show hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman (Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation). They bring on 8-10 makers — these makers could use any medium, whether it’s wood or foam or balloons or literally anything else — and they use their crafting skills to complete creative challenges. Almost all of the challenges involve the makers creating something imaginative that incorporates something meaningful to them. Not only does this show involve people creating innovative crafts and sometimes crying about how emotional and meaningful their craft is (seriously, I eat that crap up!), but it’s also just a wholesome show where the competitors aren’t very competitive. In several of the episodes, makers will help each other finish projects if one of the others falls behind. Hell, in a confessional at the beginning of this season (season 3), one of them says “I’m not here to compete, I’m here to make friends.” And that’s the type of wholesome show I want in my life. I’m seriously considering writing a post just about this show and how amazing it is…

Also, I think I’ve convinced Dan to try out for it using his woodworking skills, so wish him luck (not luck for trying to get on the show, just for putting up with my nagging).

Axe Throwing

When my current depressive episode began getting really bad, I started trying to think of things I could do in my everyday life that would ameliorate how I was feeling. One thing that I have desperately been missing in my life is interaction. When we started working from home back in March 2020, it was already a huge adjustment for me. My favorite part of work was the collaboration and making connections, so I knew that I would really miss that. But at my old job, we still had plenty of meetings and time for conversations. At my new job, I have 0-2 meetings per week, and my coworkers and I mostly only chat each other when we need something. After being at this job for 6 months now, the lack of human interaction is starting to take a toll on my mental health. As they say, introversion vs. extroversion is all about how you recharge, and without regular interaction, all I do is keep draining and draining and draining.

I decided that I needed to have something regular on my calendar that got me out of the house and talking to people. I found a local axe throwing league and even roped my dad into going with me. It’s great to be where the people are, and I even get to see someone who I used to work with at my previous job who’s in the league as well! Considering my constant need to strive for perfection, it bugged me a bit that I was one of the worst people there during the first week. But hey, you have to start somewhere. Having a friend from my previous job has been a godsend because she knew me well enough that she wasn’t afraid to step in and give me pointers. Actually, several people gave me pointers throughout my first two weeks. I’m getting better, but I’m also getting more comfortable with not doing great, which feels really good.

As an extrovert, how I recharge is by being near others, and I simply wasn’t recharging myself by locking myself in my room every day. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to hang out with others and recharge my extrovert batteries!

I’m Getting Published!

I entered a contest by Two Sisters Publishing company back in February. They have monthly competitions for a spot on their site and in their printed anthology. I submitted a piece that I wrote several years ago about coming out as bisexual for pride month (June). Of course, in true Renata fashion, I submitted it incredibly early for their June competition and essentially put it in the back of my mind. Imagine my surprise (and slight confusion?) when I received the acceptance email that I won! I have sent this piece to several different publishers, so it was very nice to hear that it had finally found a home! I’m looking forward to the post going live on their site sometime soon.

Obviously, these are not the only things that I’ve enjoyed this month, this is just a list of some of the awesome things that I have to be grateful for. What would make your “July Joy” list?

6 thoughts on “July Joy!

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