Habitica - a productivity app for gamers

Productivity for Gamers

Habitica - a productivity app for gamers

So us gamers, geeks and otakus have been given a bad reputation. That we spend all our free time involving ourselves in our passion of choice and never get anything accomplished IRL. For some that may be the case. For the rest of us, we often leave people scratching their heads. They wonder what exactly we’ve accomplished with our time while we boast of all our in-game wins, or how many completed manga are sitting on our shelves. Well now we can give PROOF of our productivity!

What if I told you there was a game that helped you increase productivity, yes really, which rewarded you with loot and XP, and even punished you for skipping out on stuff? What if I told you that game was on iOS, Android and PC? That game is Habitica.

Habitica logo

Habitica is a productivity app that is literally made for gamers and geeks! No boring interfaces here! This app is rich with vibrant colors, 8-bit avatars and items, and many guilds and parties to choose from where you can fight bosses (by completing tasks you set in your habits and to-dos lists). You even have an inventory, can change your avatar’s appearance with stat-boosting items, get drops from completing quests, and can get mounts! Pretty awesome.

Because this game hits that “reward center” of the brain, just like regular games, it can keep you focused and goal-oriented while you level-up your life. I’ve been using this game for a while now, and I’ve become much more active in completing daily tasks, as well as in keeping up with reminders and building better, healthier habits. When I wake up I actually look forward to getting my check-in bonus, and throughout the day I’m excited to check off things on my lists, to see what stuff I might collect. It’s also fun to interact with my guilds (chat groups based on various themes).

example of leveling up
example of in-game stats

It’s definitely become a positive part of my day, and has increased my productivity. Mater of fact, it helped me stay focused on completing this very post!

Get the app and try it for yourself!

Speaking of productivity and fun, I’ve got a treat to share with you! If you haven’t seen my MomoCon 2018 video, I went to this year’s event and saw so many awesome artists and vendors! One of them was GinGee Girls Art. They make amazing, engraved drinkware in all kinds of designs of geeky awesomeness!

I purchased the WoW Alliance beer stein (#forthealliance!) and RWBY coffee mug below and love them so much!! They make me look forward to that first cup of coffee of the day, and a nice cold drink at night, adding another level of productivity to my day.

Looky!  ^v^

GinGee Girls awesome drinkware

Go check them out on Facebook and Instagram! They have a huge library of designs to choose from. And if there’s something specific you want that they don’t already make, they are totally happy to create something custom for you. Just ask them, they’re super cool!

Do you already use Habitica? Tell me about it below! Already have an engraved glass or mug from GinGee Girls? Show it off and share where you heard about them!

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drowning in the sea of depression

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone – My Thoughts on Depression



Two very dark and complex entities. They keep you from enjoying life, friends and loved ones, and all the things you used to do. Whisper lies in your mind that you’re worthless, unwanted, stupid. They destroy relationships, dreams, and all that you hold dear. They create doubt in your own abilities and cause you to ultimately withdraw from the world.

In time they turn you into a lifeless shell whose only desire is to drown in the comforts of your pillow. To hope you never again have to wake up to face the cold reality of your cold and confusing world. To escape… by whatever means necessary…

This has been my reality for the last several years. It’s the reason I haven’t kept up with this blog very well, and why my business isn’t successful yet. I’ve dealt with emotional abuse, loss of employment, loss of love, stress overload, financial strain, caregiver burnout, death of a parent, and feeling like a failure at life.

All the years of mental and physical exhaustion, unfortunate circumstances and loneliness have taken their toll on my psyche.

Depression and Anxiety became overbearing and cruel roommates in my brain, inflicting immense pain on my heart and deep wounds on my soul. Forcing me to shut down my senses just to survive. This is what Depression and Anxiety do.

For those who don’t truly understand this misery, hearing things like “stay positive” and “it’ll get better soon” does not lessen the pain. There is no simple solution, and you don’t know what will make you feel better. You feel like a burden on everyone. Eventually, you stop answering friends’ messages and make excuses to get out of socializing, isolating yourself even more.

For me, the recurring and vivid nightmares of watching myself wither away into nothingness mirrored my waking life. But I kept trudging along day after day, drowning myself in work or responsibilities to keep the thoughts and feelings at bay. On the weekends I’d lay in bed drained of all energy and motivation, my pillow as my only comfort.

I alienated friends and loved ones, missed out on opportunities, and gave up on my business and the hobbies that I had been so passionate about. I even neglected my health. The emotional torment, the guilt, the feelings of worthlessness were so deep I could no longer fake happiness. It was much easier to just shut myself in.

When you’re so low that you can no longer see meaning to anything, nothing matters anymore. It seems like nothing can pull you out of your despair.

But there is light ahead…light in darkness

Throughout these last few years I’ve been researching depression and anxiety to try to overcome them and I’ve learned quite a lot about my unwelcomed roommates. I’ve identified their weaknesses, and am climbing my way out of the dark abyss of my mind that they created.

But this is not to say that I may ever be totally free of my mental roommates. Though I will still slip and fall, I’m learning how to gain my footing again, and keep climbing up. They may always be there trying to drag me down, but I don’t have to stay down for long.

If you are currently stranded in a dark place of your own, here are some things that can help. It is a collection of my own insights as well as from others I’ve reached out to.

1) Get help

Don’t suffer within your own emotional abyss alone. Please seek help. Don’t believe the lies your depression and anxiety are telling you. People around you actually do care and want to help. They just might not know how. Talk to someone. Let them know what’s going on with you. If nothing else, it will help getting your thoughts and fears out of your brain. It can be tough to find solutions when all you can see are walls closing in on darkness.

If like me, your friends are limited and you cannot afford therapy, there are online groups dedicated to mental health. Get involved in one or several of them. One app I’ve tried is 7 Cups. There are “listeners” available to help you, and the site offers affordable therapy options. It helps knowing you can reach someone anytime day or night, from all across the globe who have been where you are. You are not alone.

2) Meditate

When your mind is drowned out by negative thoughts and irrational fears, it can be difficult to be calm. But believe me, if you can find even 5 minutes of calm, it’s worth it. Meditating doesn’t have to mean sitting lotus style on the ground attempting to attain enlightenment like in the movies. You are simply clearing negative thoughts and fears by focusing your brain on something peaceful for a short time span. Kind of like giving your brain a mini vacation.

There are apps designed to help you set aside small amounts of time to do just this, such as Calm and Headspace. They even explain how to stop the racing thoughts so that it’s possible to get your mind into a calmer state. Over time, this can lead to improved health and brain function, as the stress response begins to ease up.

3) Change your circumstances

If you are in an abusive or toxic situation, a job that drags you down, or simply in a place that brings bad memories, do whatever you can to change it. It’s unhealthy to stay where you are. Reach out to friends, organizations, co-workers, authorities, whoever you have to for help.

4) Be kind to yourself

You may not feel like putting in the effort, or you may even feel like you don’t deserve it. But you do deserve it. Do something new you’ve always wanted to do. Buy yourself something nice that fits your budget. Indulge in a new flavor of tea or coffee. Get a haircut. Color your hair purple if you want! Give yourself a rest day where you aren’t obligated to do anything but lay in bed if you want, without judgement. Your body probably could use the rest, honestly. And be sure to eat as healthy as you can.

5) Take care of your health

When you are dealing with depression you often will ignore your health. It can be worse if you already suffer from illnesses or disabilities. Make sure you keep up with your doctor visits, and let them know of your depression or anxiety. It’s well-documented that people who suffer from long-term illness or disability have greater chances of developing major depression. Be aware, and make any allowances or alterations for better quality of life. Go easy on yourself; you’re doing great!

6) Get organized

Believe it or not, cleanliness and organization can make a big improvement in your depression and anxiety. When you wake up and the room or house is chaotic, it makes you feel chaotic, which can trigger your symptoms even worse. Keeping your space clean and organized will do wonders for your mood, and help clear your mind. Easier said than done, I know. But try to motivate yourself just a little bit by knowing that it could help you feel better overall.

Start small, and just clear away trash and wash the dirty dishes. Do your laundry. Next, go through that pile of junk mail on your desk or clear out some of your inbox. Take a rest after that, and allow yourself to feel good about taking that step. Next time, try organizing your shelves. Small improvements over time will help you to get back to a normal living space that you can feel more comfortable in.

7) Make a game out of it

Similar to #6 above, try creating a to-do list and reward system for yourself. This one really helps me, as being able to check off something on a list gives me a small sense of accomplishment. It triggers the reward system in the brain and can help jumpstart a positive outlook. Start by making a list of small tasks you need to get done. This can be cleaning to-dos, or other tasks to help such as making time to exercise (another mood booster). Next, assign a reward that you will allow yourself once the task is done. For better results, make sure the task isn’t too heavy, and that the reward is good for you. When you do the task and check it off, you get the assigned reward!

8) Music therapy

Music is powerful. It can transform the way you feel in both positive and negative ways. When you’re feeling down it’s ok to immerse yourself in sad or angry music. But if you want to try a change of mood, change the station! Music that is more upbeat or complex can help you lift your emotional state, even if only temporarily, so that you can get going with your day.

You don’t have to suffer alone. Please get help if you are dealing with depression and/or anxiety. It’s not a sign of weakness to lean on others. It takes incredible courage to speak up. Don’t believe the lies your mental roommates feed you; people do want to help you. They might not really know how, but they can be there for you and help support you on your way to climbing out of your abyss, onto higher ground.

Do you have other ways to cope with depression and anxiety? What has worked for you? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery subscription box review

How Mysterious is Your Mailbox?

Mystery subscription box review

Who wouldn’t like getting a mystery box full of unknown items you may or may not need or want? I know I would! We’ve all heard about these “subscription boxes.” Basically, you pay a fee every month (or so, depending on the service) and get a themed package delivered to your door full of awesome surprise goodies. But do you know just how many different companies exist?! Loads!!

I did a little research…ok, a lot of research…and found a ton of these mystery box services. There are quite literally 100s of services out there to choose from! So, for this post I have rounded out some of the most interesting ones out there…that are actually affordable (seriously, some of the boxes I found were over $50-$200 a month!!). Here they are, broken down into categories just for you!

Anime and Kawaii
As a fan of anime and Kawaii culture, of course I’d have several listed in this category! First up, there’s Betoyo Bento. Betoyo Bento offers the very best of anime and kawaii goodies, all packed into one cute box. The box itself even comes wrapped in a pretty red ribbon! This box is good for both guys and girls who are into anime.
Next, there’s Kawaii Box. This one is like Betoyo Box, except it’s geared more for girls, and is only about all things “cute.” Expect to find many chibi figurines and kitties!
Then, there’s Kawaii Monthly. You might think, “what’s the difference between this and the aforementioned Kawaii Box?” Well, this one is also aimed at girls and packed with all things “cute,” but it also includes all sorts of Japanese foods and beauty products.
The final box in this category is Q Box. Q Box is another girlie mystery box, but this one has not only really nice beauty products, but also jewelry and various everyday useful items from Japan and South Korea.
I actually was really interested in both Q Box and Betoyo Bento, as they seemed to include a wider variety of items relevant to my own tastes. But, to each their own. That’s the great thing about all these services – you can choose the service that gives you what you really want! It’s also worth mentioning that the awesome online anime streaming site Crunchyroll offers their own mystery anime DVDs box from time to time, and so does Tokyo Otaku Mode, an otaku’s virtual paradise. Check them out!
Food themed boxes
Alright all you foodies, here are some of the best mystery boxes just for you! We have Try the World, which offers a neatly packed box of food items from a different country selected every two months. You can enjoy the unique foods each country has to offer, and learn a bit about the culture there.
Next is Japan Crate. This one looks totally amazing! You can choose from three box sizes, and each will contain only the best of Japanese snacks and sweets. A great compliment to one of the Anime/Kawaii boxes above!
Then there’s A Kitchen Box, which was cool before you knew about it. This box contains a hipster-worthy collection of foods, recipes, and kitchen items to inspire your culinary efforts. They even include ultra-hip music downloads from obscure artists…you know, totally non-mainstream.
Graze offers a collection of healthy snacks. From what I could tell they send a small selection wholesome snack foods from eco-conscious brands. And it’s all under $10!
Finally, we have Bulu Box, another healthy snack box. This service offers you healthy, weight-conscious snacks and supplements to aid you on your quest to be (and stay) fit and healthy. They even have an app for that!
Gaming and Geekery boxes
Now this is perhaps my favorite category here, as you all know what a geeky nerd I am! We’ll start with Loot Crate. It’s one of the most widely-known geeky subscription boxes out there, and for good reason! You get a variety of geeky, nerdy stuff, with a different themed box each month.
*UPDATE: Loot Crate now has themed boxes!! Go check ’em out!*
Another cool service is Nerd Block. Same type of stuff, but Nerd Block offers you a few choices of themed boxes such as Horror or Arcade, and even a Jr. Box for the little nerds in your family!
There’s also 1up Box. This is a relatively new service, from what I understand, but they are no less awesome! Their September 2014 box featured a T-shirt I REALLY would have loved to have!!
Fan of comics and such? Look no further than Comic Bento! Comic Bento sends you a box jam-packed full of comics and graphic novels from big name brands, and some lesser-known-but-still-awesome ones, for your reading pleasure.
BoxyChan is another mystery box, but this one’s unique in that you can actually choose fandom-specific themes. They currently have over 15 box fandoms to choose from, such as anime, Star Wars, Hello Kitty, and even Final Fantasy. FINAL FANTASY!!!
For gamers, there’s also Indie Box. Indie Box sends you full (NOT demo) collector’s edition games and other related collectable items which may even include the game’s original soundtrack. Yes, I said FULL GAMES!!
Do you play Magic: The Gathering? Then you need this next box! Monthly Magic Box gives players all the gear they need to be awesome.  Each month you’ll get booster packs, game gear, and collector cards, as well as other random Magic: The Gathering items…maybe even a T-shirt.
Not only am I a geeky nerd who likes anime, but I’m also a graphic designer. So, this next category is dedicated to all us creatives!
Whimsey Box was the first arts and crafts box I came across, and I think you guys will love it. Each month they pick a project, and send out all the materials you need to create it. You can also buy supplies for other projects on their site.
Art Snacks is next. And no, it’s not a box of foods in artsy-looking packaging (although, their logo makes me want a soft pretzel for some reason…). This box contains a selection of professional grade artist tools and supplies. If you’ve ever seen some of these items in a store and wanted to try them out, here’s your chance!
I love the name of this next one: Craft What?!? Not only do they donate a portion of the sales to charities, which is really cool, but the site also states these crafts are good for “ages 3 to 300!” Apparently they have traveled back 300 years to bring some 18th century geezer back with them just to test out this theory. Now that’s dedication!
Lastly, we have Pigment + Palette. This one is essentially the same concept as Art Snacks, but Pigment + Palette features a special artist every month for you to learn about and admire. It’s so amazing that they do this! If you’re an artists who would like to be featured, they have a contact form where you can apply.
random stuff boxes

Finally, here are some mystery subscription boxes that don’t exactly fit in the above categories, but are equally awesome. Birch Box is filled with personal care products tailored to your preferences. They have one for men and one for women.

Fresh Neck: it’s like Netflix for ties! (Seriously, that’s on their site.) If you guys (and girls!) like to wear sleek, stylish neckties and other accessories, and like to keep it “fresh,” this one’s perfect!

Another style I’ve been into lately is the Steampunk genre. Needless to say I was excited when I found that the people at Clockwork Couture have a Steampunk subscription box!! (Bonus props if you recognize one of their female models – if so, tell me in the comments!)

Want to travel to France? French Box can help you experience all the beauty and sophistication that France has to offer, without the hassle of the airport…or TSA. The French Box site is so pretty, too! The packaging of this box is gorgeous, as I’ve read and seen from other reviewers, which adds that bit of “wow!” to the whole experience. I would definitely love to try this one!

Another one for the ladies, Ipsy gives you a selection of makeup and personal care products, usually full-size, to try out from a wide variety of professional makeup brands. Fun fact: founder and spokeswoman for Ipsy Michelle Phan has her own makeup line, and did a really awesome Hatsune Miku makeup tutorial!

*If you like cosplay like I do, also check out some of her other anime-inspired tutorials.*

And finally, one for the guys: Manpacks (not THAT man pack! Get your mind out of the gutter!). This box o’ man stuff provides all the essentials a guy needs, without the hassle of shopping. Set your preferences. Create your quarterly shipment. Done. Now you have time to go do more important manly things.

So there you have it, 26 awesome mystery subscription boxes to try out. Most of these also include free USA shipping, too! Now, I’ve not had the pleasure of trying any of these subscription boxes out, but I would love to have the opportunity to. If I am ever able to try any of these out you can be sure I’ll do a special unboxing video for you guys on my new YouTube channel!  In the meantime, if you have tried any of these services, or know of other awesome services not on this list, tell me about your experiences in the comments below!

*UPDATE: since creating this post I’ve had the amazing opportunity to try out Japan Crate! And as promised, I made an unboxing video I think you’re gonna love. Also, it’s my first ever YouTube video, and I had a lot of fun making it. Hope you enjoy it! If you do, please leave a like and comment, and subscribe so I can make more content!*

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